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 8, inclusive, answered orally.

Weapons Amnesty.

Billy Timmins

Ceist:

9 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Defence if any weapons handed in by members of the public are held in storage by the Defence Forces; if so when these were handed in; the number of same; and what he intends to do with them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38132/06]

An Garda Síochána have the primary responsibility for law and order, including the protection of the internal security of the State. Among the roles assigned to the Defence Forces is the provision of aid to the civil power (meaning in practice to assist, when requested, an Garda Síochána), which duties include the protection and guarding of vital installations, the provision of certain security escorts etc.

Under the Firearms (Dangerous Weapons) Order, 1972, weapons were surrendered to An Garda Síochána. Some 5,000 weapons are held in storage by the Defence Forces in the Eastern, Southern and Western Brigades. Any future decisions regarding these weapons is a matter for my colleague the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

Departmental Investigations.

Cecilia Keaveney

Ceist:

10 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Minister for Defence the progress made to date in the investigation into the death of a soldier (details supplied); when the Garda enquiry will be completed; when he will receive the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37726/06]

On 2 February, 2006, I received a report from Mr. Sean Hurley, who I had appointed to carry out an independent review of the interaction between the Department of Defence/Defence Forces and parents and family of Private Kevin Barrett in the aftermath of his tragic death, on 18 February, 1999, while serving with the 84th Infantry Battalion in Lebanon. Mr. Hurley looked in detail at how the Department and the Defence Forces interacted with the Barrett family after Kevin's death and has identified some clear failings and shortcomings.

Immediately on receipt of Mr. Hurley's report, I contacted the Garda Commissioner and asked him to provide me with his early views in relation to any possible assistance that the Garda Síochána might be in a position to provide. The Garda officer assigned to the case is continuing to examine my Department's and the Defence Forces files in the case, with a view to determining whether the Gardaí can provide any assistance in the matter. Liaison arrangements have been set up between the Gardaí and the Defence Forces, who continue to provide the fullest co-operation to An Garda Síochána. To date the Defence Forces have assisted in providing access to the considerable number of witnesses associated with the case and have also facilitated the visit by the investigation team to Lebanon and Israel. The weapon that fired the fatal shot has been handed over by the Defence Forces to the Garda Síochána for tests. At the request of the Gardaí, the Defence Forces also arranged, with the agreement of the UN, for the return to Ireland of the billet in which Pte. Barrett died. The billet has been the subject of detailed forensic examination by the Gardaí. The Garda inquiries are still ongoing and when completed, I expect the Commissioner will contact me in the matter. My understanding is that the Garda investigation may be completed towards the end of this year.

Defence Forces Staff.

Seán Crowe

Ceist:

11 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Defence his views on whether rates of sick leave in the Defence Forces are running at almost twice that for civilians; the reason for same; and the steps he is taking to address it. [38176/06]

Ivor Callely

Ceist:

33 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Defence the action being taken to reduce the levels of sick days being taken in the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps as set out in Parliamentary Question No. 174 of 26 October 2006; the discussions his officials have had with the representative associations to address this problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38241/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 11 and 33 together.

Sick leave in the Defence Forces was about 14 days per annum per person in the period from October 2005 to 30 September 2006. A SFA report earlier this year identified an average of 10 days absence per person per annum in larger firms.

Military service, due to the robust nature of the physical training regime exposes personnel to a unique range of challenging environments with attendant health risks. The mission of the Medical Corps of the Defence Forces is to ensure and to co-ordinate the provision of medical, dental and pharmaceutical support to the Defence Forces in the execution of their Roles as assigned by Government. Military medical services and their facilities exist to maintain the health of the Defence Forces and to support them in operational and overseas activities.

There is a shortage of medical officers (Doctors) in the Medical Corps. The establishment for Medical Officers is 47 and the current strength if 23, of whom 12 are functioning in front line clinical duties in Ireland amongst Brigades and formations. The services of civilian medical practitioners are regularly engaged to ensure that the primary health care requirements arising in barracks are met. However, the shortage of dedicated doctors impacts on overall management and control, both at the level of local units and nationally in the Medical Corps.

Efforts are ongoing to address the shortage of Medical Officers (Doctors) in the Medical Corps. A recruitment campaign for Doctors is currently underway. This campaign follows on from a recent decision to significantly increase the pay of Doctors and Dentists in the Medical Corps, linking them to the pay of public health doctors and dentists.

A review of the provision of medical services in the Defence Forces initiated as part of the Modernisation Agenda under Sustaining Progress has delivered improvements in this area. This work involves the Department of Defence including military management and the Representative Associations. A revised concept document on the provision of medical services and a patients charter are being prepared. There will be a greater emphasis on the direct provision of medical services and improvements in the maintenance and tracking of patients' records and treatment through computerisation. In the context of the Modernisation agenda arising under "Towards 2016" it is also intended to review the sick leave arrangements for personnel of the Defence Forces.

The work outlined above will assist the Chief of Staff, the Medical Corps and local commanders in their efforts to minimise the instances of sick leave of the Defence Forces and to maintain the general health of the Defence Forces.

Overseas Missions.

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

12 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Defence the position in relation to the recent submission by PDFORRA seeking an increase in overseas allowance; if this will be granted; from when it will be granted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38151/06]

Olivia Mitchell

Ceist:

31 Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Defence the amount of overseas allowance granted for the years 2004, 2005 and 2006 to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38154/06]

Gay Mitchell

Ceist:

69 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Defence the current level of overseas allowance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38153/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 12, 31 and 69 together.

A claim has been received from the Permanent Defence Force Other Ranks Representative Association (PDFORRA) for an increase in overseas allowance. This claim will be processed through the Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme for the Permanent Defence Force. By agreement with the Association, discussions under the Scheme are confidential to the parties involved. Accordingly, the Deputy will appreciate that it would not be appropriate for me to comment further on this issue at this time, other than to say that the claim will have to meet the conditions required by the new Public Service Pay Agreement – Towards 2016.

The amounts paid by way of all overseas allowances from 2004 to the end of October 2006 were:

2004 — €17.8m

2005 — €22.1m

2006 — €17.7m (to end Oct).

The current daily rates of Overseas Peace Support Allowance (OPSA) range from – €52.86 for Privates to €76.22 for Commandants and higher.

An additional daily allowance of €21.36 for enlisted personnel and €22.39 for officers is, also, paid in respect of armed missions.

The Deputy may wish to note that the above rates are included in Rates of Pay and Allowances for the Defence Forces, which are available on www.defence.ie.

Defence Forces Property.

Billy Timmins

Ceist:

13 Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Defence the amount of property which has been disposed of by his Department to other statutory bodies since 1 January 1998; the amount received for same; and if this represented market value; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38133/06]

The sale of a site comprising c. 2.7 acres to the Southern Health Board at the former Murphy Barracks, Ballincollig, Co. Cork for €1.73 million was completed in December 2004. 19.218 acres at the former Fitzgerald Camp, Fermoy, were sold to Cork County Council in 2001 for €0.974 million for development in conjunction with the IDA. 10 acres at Ringaskiddy was transferred from my Department to the Department of Education and Science in 2002 as a site for the National Maritime College. There was no transfer of funds involved as the lands were made available as my Department's contribution to the project. Castleblayney Military Post, Co. Monaghan, comprising c. 10 acres, was sold to the North Eastern Health Board for €0.762 million in 2002. 7 acres at Devoy Barracks, Naas, Co. Kildare, were ceded free of charge to Naas Urban District Council, while a further 14 acres were sold to that authority for €8.888 million. The balance of the Barracks lands — one acre — was sold to Kildare County Council for €0.381 million in 2002.

Lands comprising 6.39 acres, known as "Susan's Field", adjoining Collins Barracks, Cork, were sold to Cork City Council for €1.523 million in 2002. Circa 3.4 acres at Sarsfield Barracks, Limerick, was disposed of to Limerick City Council for €1.162 million in 2002/2003. A site comprising circa 0.931 acre, adjacent to my Department's RDF premises in Kanturk, Co. Cork, was disposed of to the Southern Health Board for a consideration of €0.178 million in 2003. Approximately 1.559 acres at Waterford Barracks was sold to Waterford City Council for €0.662 million in 2003. Spike Island, Co. Cork, was sold to the Department of Justice on foot of a nominal fund exchange of €0.065 million in 2004. In 2005, my Department's RDF premises in Killorglin was transferred to Kerry County Council for inclusion in a major town development project. In exchange, the County Council provided a new purpose built RDF premises on a nearby site owned by the Council and in addition, made a balancing payment of €0.012 million to reflect the full value of the original RDF property.

The water supply system and ancillary lands at Knockalisheen Camp were sold to Clare County Council earlier this year for €0.026 million.

The Government agreed on 16 December 2003 to the release of circa 2.5 acres at St. Bricin's Military Hospital, Dublin for inclusion in the Sustaining Progress Affordable Housing Initiative. The site was recently transferred to Dublin City Council as specified by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government for a nominal consideration.

In addition, from time to time land at various locations has been dedicated to local authorities to allow for projects such as road widening or realignment schemes.

All transactions were carried out in accordance with proper procedures and at valuations reflecting the nature of the disposals.

Ministerial Meetings.

Eamon Ryan

Ceist:

14 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Defence his views on the Long Term Vision report from the European Defence Agency presented to the EU Defence Ministers meeting in Levi, Finland on 3 October, 2006; the Irish Government’s response to this document; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38115/06]

An informal meeting of EU Defence Ministers took place in Levi, Finland on 2nd and 3rd October, 2006. In tandem with the informal Defence Ministers' meeting, there was a Ministerial level meeting of the EDA Steering Board.

The main item on the Agenda for the Steering Board was a discussion on the EDA's initial long-term vision, which had been developed by the Agency over the past number of months. The purpose of the LTV is to set out a view of the future global context and, against this background, the potential capability requirements for ESDP operations. Given the lead time involved in the development of defence equipment and capabilities, there is a need to project forward over a 20 to 30 year time horizon so as to provide some guidance to the EDA and capability planners in terms of the broad types of capabilities which ESDP is likely to require in the future.

The overall thrust of the LTV document was generally supported by the Steering Board as providing a broad compass looking into the future of possible capability needs for EU military forces engaged in ESDP operations. That said there are significant caveats on the document which is an a-political, non-binding, non-committing document which has not been agreed in word-by-word detail by the member States.

The long-term vision is a living document to be reviewed and updated on an ongoing basis, probably every 2 to 3 years. It will provide some guidance on the focus of R&T initiatives which may be facilitated by the EDA and will feed into an ESDP Capability Development Plan to be completed by December. Any future R&T Agenda or Capability Development Plans will have to be agreed specifically by the Steering board on a case-by-case basis.

Defence Forces Property.

Paul McGrath

Ceist:

15 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Defence the total acreage of Haulbowline, County Cork; the amount of this in the ownership of the Defence Forces; the person who owns the remainder; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38124/06]

Shane McEntee

Ceist:

16 Mr. McEntee asked the Minister for Defence if he will purchase some of the land at Haulbowline, County Cork that was formerly used by Irish Steel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38122/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 15 and 16 together.

Haulbowline Island comprises approximately 84 acres in total and is, in its entirety, vested in the Minister for Finance. The area of the Island formerly under Lease to Irish Ispat (previously Irish Steel), and now under the administration of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government arising from the liquidation of that Company, covers c. 44 acres. My Department administers the balance of the Island lands, which are occupied by the Naval Service. None of the lands on Haulbowline Island are in private ownership, however, Rocky Island, which lies between Haulbowline Island and the mainland at Ringaskiddy, was sold by the liquidator of Irish Ispat to a private individual in 2005.

The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government has lead responsibility for the remediation of the Ispat site. In that regard, my Department has signalled Naval Service interests in the future use of the site.

Defence Forces Schemes.

Shane McEntee

Ceist:

17 Mr. McEntee asked the Minister for Defence the position in relation to proposals for an officer’s course for non-commissioned officers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38120/06]

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Ceist:

67 Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Defence the progress in consultations with the Defence Forces’ representative associations regarding the commissioning from the ranks competition due to be held shortly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38114/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 17 and 67 together.

Significant progress has been made recently in implementing schemes to enable more commissioning from the ranks. The revised cadetship competition is now seen as the primary means of commissioning from the ranks. The cadetship competition has been revised to increase the maximum entry age to 28 and to award bonus marks to candidates with previous experience in the Permanent Defence Force (PDF) or Reserve Defence Force (RDF). Results for the 2006 cadetship competition were encouraging with 13% of PDF and 8% of RDF applicants being successful in obtaining cadetships as against 4% of "civilian" candidates.

Consultations with the representative associations are ongoing regarding the conditions for an internal Commissioning From the Ranks competition, which it is intended to hold in the coming months. This competition will provide an opportunity for enlisted personnel who have passed the cadet entry age to compete for entry on a potential Officers Course and ultimately, a commission. The outcome of this competition will inform policy on the issue of similar future competitions.

Defence Forces Strength.

Phil Hogan

Ceist:

18 Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Defence the maximum and minimum number of personnel required to man our ships on fishery patrol with a breakdown by ship; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38130/06]

The information sought by the Deputy is set out in the following tabular statement which indicates the manning levels of vessels (all ranks).

Vessel Category

Maximum Manning Possible

Recommended Level of Manning as per NSIP1

Minimum Manning as per Naval Service Operations Command2

Average Sailing Manning3

Helicopter Patrol Vessel (HPV)

86

52

38

53

Large Patrol Vessel (LPV)

49

39

30

40

Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV)

54

40

30

41

Coastal Patrol Vessel (CPV)

46

38

30

38

1 As per the agreed Naval Service Implementation Plan (NSIP) for each class and recommended for routine patrolling.

2 This is the minimum number per ship for routine patrolling. In an emergency, the Ship's Captain may sail with less than the minimum to respond to urgent operational demands.

3 Figures include trainees from time to time in addition.

The Naval Service operates a fleet of eight ships categorised as follows:

1 × Helicopter Patrol Vessel (HPV)

2 × Large Patrol Vessels (LPV)

3 × Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV)

2 × Coastal Patrol Vessels (CPV).

Defence Forces Equipment.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

19 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Defence the capital budget in each of the past ten years for purchasing new equipment for the Permanent Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38196/06]

The acquisition of new equipment and services for the Defence Forces continues to be a key focus for me as Minister for Defence. Significant investment has taken place in recent years and I will continue the good work in that regard.

The unprecedented level of expenditure on equipment for the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service was made possible by the Government's decision that pay savings arising from the reorganization of the Defence Forces set out in the White Paper of 2000, along with proceeds from the sale of surplus properties, would be reallocated for investment in modern facilities and equipment.

Investment in new equipment for the Defence Forces and for the on-going support of that equipment, is provided for under various Subheads of the Defence Vote relating to defensive equipment, mechanical transport, aircraft, ships and naval stores, engineering, communications and Information Technology equipment etc. Details of the level of expenditure over the past 10 years in each of these areas are set out in the following tabular statement.

Area

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

1998

1997

Defensive Equip

40,955

46,498

37,332

33,046

41,108

31,162

29,542

19,036

12,253

10,808

Aircraft

39,125

44,237

55,392

47,305

38,468

36,938

19,984

16,717

14,539

17,211

Military Transport

11,530

13,244

11,957

15,803

11,675

9,739

11,925

15,632

12,619

8,897

Ships

13,330

12,861

10,835

10,842

11,097

20,294

34,764

20,349

19,722

14,480

Buildings/Reinvestment

17,949

32,983

29,791

34,911

51,578

65,313

29,300

25,085

20,120

10,746

Ordnance/Clothing/Catering

18,679

14,810

13,570

17,782

15,526

15,184

13,537

12,295

11,104

8,517

CIT

10,046

14,248

10,483

11,688

9,359

11,802

8,495

7,403

9,192

3,653

Training

3,731

2,271

3,568

3,651

4,279

3,793

3,314

1,677

1,590

662

Medical

4,941

3,091

3,028

2,998

2,919

3,108

1,877

1,828

1,863

1,859

Total

160,286

184,243

175,956

178,026

186,009

197,333

152,738

120,022

103,000

76,833

This represents an investment of more than €1.5 billion in acquiring and supporting modern equipment and services for the Defence Forces. In the same period there has been an investment of over €335 million in building and infrastructure across the Defence Forces.

All elements of the Defence Forces, the Army, Air Corps, Naval Service and the Reserve have benefited from the investment in new equipment.

The equipment issued to the Defence Forces is in keeping with the most modern requirements and the highest international standards. The ongoing investment in the Defence Forces will ensure that this remains to be the case.

Defence Forces Retirement Scheme.

Eamon Gilmore

Ceist:

20 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Defence the number of members of the Defence Forces who retired on age grounds in each of the past ten years; the number of members who resigned or took early retirement in each of the past ten years; the number of new members who were recruited in each of the past two years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38192/06]

In 2005, a total of 64 Officers were newly commissioned and 441 Enlisted Personnel (including 49 Cadets) were newly inducted into the Defence Forces. The corresponding figures for 2006 to date are 67 Officers and 497 Enlisted Personnel (including 52 Cadets).

The number of retirements for Officers and Enlisted Personnel is as set out in the following schedule. Defence Force Regulations provide that a person who enlisted in the Permanent Defence Force before 1 January 1994 may be permitted to continue in service up to the age of sixty years. It also provides that a person who enlisted in the Permanent Defence Force on or after 1 January 1994 may be permitted to continue in service up to the age of fifty years in the rank of Sergeant and to the age of fifty-six in all higher ranks. Enlisted personnel, in the rank of corporal or private, who enlisted after 1 January 1994, may not serve beyond twenty-one years service in any event.

The current retirement ages are 54 for Captain, 56 for Commandant and 58 for Lieutenant Colonel. Higher ranks have retiring ages ranging from 60 to 63 years of age.

The 2000 White Paper on Defence and the earlier Defence Force Review Implementation Plan both, in the context of a Defence Force Personnel Management System, recommended reduction to retirement ages and the introduction of short service commissions for some officers in the Defence Force. These measures were designed to address the shortage of junior officers, to improve the age profile of officers and to ensure mobility.

Numbers of Officers and Enlisted Personnel who resigned or retired in the years 1996-2006

Officers

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

Resigned or Retired before reaching Maximum Retirement Age

103

110

68

72

59

61

39

24

24

36

22

Retirement on Grounds of Age

18

16

21

31

15

20

20

17

14

17

15

Enlisted Personnel

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

Discharged or Retired before reaching Maxinim Retirement Age

717

1,104

844

745

833

848

649

500

457

430

420

Retirement on Grounds of Age

18

21

23

30

25

37

29

44

48

45

49

Note: These figures exclude personnel who died in service or discharged for purpose of re-enlistment or appointment to officer rank.

Defence Forces Schemes.

Dan Neville

Ceist:

21 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Defence the position in relation to the provision of third level education in the Defence Forces under the USAC scheme; if there are plans to change this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38145/06]

All Army Officers, on commissioning after completion of Cadet Training, who meet the academic entry requirements for third level education, and who do not already hold a Level 7 Qualification, are eligible to participate in the USAC Scheme. The USAC Scheme permits such newly commissioned Officers to attend university on a full time basis as undergraduates for 3-4 years and to complete a primary (Bachelor's) degree. There are no plans to change this Scheme at present.

Aerodrome Use.

Damien English

Ceist:

22 Mr. English asked the Minister for Defence if non military aircraft have used Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel since January 2006; and if so, the purpose for this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38125/06]

Olwyn Enright

Ceist:

29 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Defence if his Department has received fees resulting from the use of Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel for civilian aircraft since January 2006; and if so, the reason for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38127/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 22 and 29 together.

It has been the practice to permit occasional use of Casement Aerodrome by privately owned aircraft on an "ad hoc" basis on the payment of a fee and production of the necessary insurance indemnity.

Requests for permission to land privately owned aircraft, including helicopters, at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel, are occasionally received by my Department. Such requests, are dealt with on a case-by-case basis and permission may be granted, subject to operational, security, administrative etc. considerations. A fee of €222.20 is payable in respect of each occasion of use. Permission was granted for twenty six (26) such landings since January, 2006.

Search and Rescue Service.

Jimmy Deenihan

Ceist:

23 Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Defence his views on the Air Corps providing a permanent search and rescue facility; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38142/06]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

227 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence the strength of the air sea rescue services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38433/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 23 and 227.

The Irish Coast Guard has overall responsibility for the provision of maritime Search and Rescue services within the Irish Search and Rescue Region. The Air Corps had been providing Search and Rescue (SAR) services in the North West but withdrew in October 2004 following a handover of this role to CHCI, a private operator, which also provides the service at the country's other SAR bases at Dublin, Shannon and Waterford. There is no plan to reconsider the decision to withdraw the Air Corps from the maritime Search and Rescue Service.

The Defence Forces are committed to providing support to the civil authorities specifically in relation to Search and Rescue. In this regard, the Naval Service and the Air Corps will continue to provide support to the Coast Guard as the need arises and within their available capacity. Air Corps pilots will continue to train in search and rescue techniques and to provide a limited non-maritime search and rescue response. The specification for the new helicopters being acquired for the Air Corps includes a search and rescue capability.

Search and rescue capability requires a wide range of available skills, such as piloting, winching, medical, vessel crewing and radar. I am advised by the military authorities that the availability of these skills within the Defence Forces is sufficient to meet their continuing commitments in this area.

The White Paper on Defence of February 2000 sets out a figure of 10,500 personnel for the Permanent Defence Force all ranks comprising 930 for the Air Corps, 1,444 for the Naval Service and 8,426 for the Army. There are no proposals to increase the strength of the Permanent Defence Force above the White Paper figure of 10,500. Recruitment into the Permanent Defence Force will continue to maintain the strength at the approved level.

Defence Forces Recruitment.

Paul Connaughton

Ceist:

24 Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Defence the career path a recruit who joins the Defence Forces can take; the length of time they can remain in the Defence Forces as a three star private, a corporal and a sergeant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38201/06]

Defence Force Regulations provide that a person who enlisted in the Permanent Defence Force before 1 January 1994 may be permitted to continue in service up to the age of sixty years. A person who enlisted in the Permanent Defence Force on or after 1 January 1994 may be permitted to continue in service up to the age of fifty years in the rank of Sergeant and to the age of fifty-six in all higher ranks. Enlisted personnel, in the rank of corporal or private, who enlisted after 1 January 1994, may not serve beyond twenty-one years service in any event.

Under the current contract system a person who enlisted in the Permanent Defence Force after 1 January 1994 is initially enlisted for a period of five years in the Permanent Defence Force, and a further seven years in the Reserve Defence Force.

At the completion of the initial five-year period, the enlisted person may apply for an extension of service from five to nine years, and subsequently from nine to twelve years.

On completion of twelve years service in the PDF, the individual may apply for re-engagement to complete twenty-one years PDF service. Following this, they may apply for continuance in service for two-year periods up to retirement age.

Applications for extensions of service, re-engagement, and continuance are considered under a number of criteria, one of which is Military Courses completed. Under this criterion, personnel who enlisted after 1 January 1994 are required to have completed all courses that would be needed in order to qualify for promotion to the rank of sergeant, or be serving in that higher rank, in order to qualify for continuance in service after 21 years.

Personnel who enlisted after 17 February 2006 are also required to have successfully completed all courses needed to qualify them for promotion to the rank of corporal for re-engagement. Alternatively, such personnel may be serving as technician grade 3 or higher to qualify for re-engagement.

Question No. 25 answered with QuestionNo. 6.

Overseas Missions.

Pat Breen

Ceist:

26 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Defence the role his Department will play in the new Rapid Reaction Humanitarian Force as outlined in the White Paper on Development Aid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38147/06]

The Government's recently published White Paper on Irish Aid provides for the creation of Ireland's own specific operational capabilities in responding to humanitarian emergencies: the Rapid Response Initiative (RRI).

The three main components of the initiative are the pre-positioning and transportation of material humanitarian supplies to disaster locations; the creation of a register of highly skilled and experienced individuals for deployment with international agencies at short notice; and an overall enhancement of our support to international humanitarian response agencies and mechanisms.

The Department of Foreign Affairs is working closely on this initiative with other Departments including my Department. In this regard a number of meetings have been held between officials from my Department and from the Department of Foreign Affairs over the last year. These meetings have focused on assistance my Department/Defence Forces may be able to provide in relation to the development of the RRI with particular reference to the first two pillars and considerable progress has been made.

In relation specifically to the second element of this initiative — that is, the creation of a register of skilled and experienced individuals ready for rapid deployment — through working closely with my Department and others, the Department of Foreign Affairs believes that the initiative will enable the release of key skilled people to take part in emergency teams deployed to make rapid needs assessments and assist in the coordination of relief. It is hoped that Ireland can help bridge some of the gaps in certain key sectors in order to fill particular gaps in capacity in the international community's humanitarian response.

In addition the White Paper on Irish Aid also provides for the establishment of a Volunteer Corps Unit within the Department of Foreign Affairs to harness the strong volunteer spirit, which exists across the country in support of overseas development activities. I am informed by my colleague, Mr. Dermot Ahern, T.D., Minister for Foreign Affairs, that his Department is to open an Irish Aid Volunteering Centre in Dublin in early 2007. This centre will provide information, support and advice to those wishing to volunteer.

Defence Forces Recruitment.

Pat Carey

Ceist:

27 Mr. Carey asked the Minister for Defence the number of non-nationals who have enlisted in the Permanent Defence Forces, by reference to nationalities, ages and gender, in 2005 and in 2006 to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38061/06]

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

44 Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Defence if his attention has been drawn to the recent initiatives by An Garda Síochána to attract members of ethnic minority communities to the force; and if he has taken similar initiative in relation to the Defence Forces. [38175/06]

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

66 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Defence the number of immigrants who have been recruited into the Defence Forces in each of the past ten years; the measures he has taken to facilitate the recruitment of immigrants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38191/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 27, 44 and 66 together.

Entry to the Permanent Defence Force is either through the Cadetship Competition, Apprenticeship Competition, General Service Enlistment or Direct Entry Competitions which are held to fill vacancies in specialist appointments. All applicants for each of these entry streams are required to meet qualifying criteria.

The question of the recruitment of foreign-nationals to the Defence Forces is not a new one and Defence Force Regulations have always allowed for the recruitment of foreign-nationals to the Defence Forces.

The operational requirements of An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces are not directly comparable. My Department is not specifically targeting the recruitment of ethnic minorities for the Defence Forces at present. Currently my emphasis is on ensuring that there are no barriers to ethnic minorities or foreign nationals joining the Defence Forces.

As you are aware, I have made changes to the Cadet competition to broaden the entry criteria thereby making it easier for qualifying foreign nationals to apply for cadetships.

In addition, the Defence Forces Equality Policy underpins equality legislation and states that;

The Defence Forces are committed to the principles of equal opportunities in all employment policies, procedures and regulations.

The Defence Forces will operate in an environment without discrimination in areas as provided by the Equality Acts.

The Defence Forces will ensure that the principles of employment equality are employed in recruitment, promotion, training and work experience.

All regulations and Administrative Instructions concerning service in the Defence Forces shall be set out in a manner consistent with this policy of equal opportunity.

This policy will be reviewed along with the Defence Force regulations on an ongoing basis by the Deputy Chief of Staff (Support) to ensure compliance with best practice and to maintain a working environment that treats all members of the Defence Forces in a manner consistent with equal opportunities.

The primary focus in recruitment is to attract people with the core competencies required by the Defence Forces.

My Department and the Defence Forces are fully committed to ensuring that all (and that includes ethnic minorities and foreign-nationals) who wish to do so are given the opportunity to join the Defence Forces. In terms of statistics, it is not the Defence Forces approach to categorise personnel by nationality or place of birth.

Defence Forces Strength.

Liz McManus

Ceist:

28 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Defence the maximum strength proposed for the Defence Forces in the White Paper on Defence; when he proposes to reach it; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38186/06]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

47 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence if it is intended to increase the strength of the Permanent Defence Forces, Army, Navy and Air Corp; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38180/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 28 and 47 together.

The White Paper on Defence of February 2000 set out a figure of 10,500 personnel for the Permanent Defence Force, comprising 930 for the Air Corps, 1,144 for the Naval Service and 8,426 for the Army. It is my intention to maintain the established Government policy of ongoing recruitment to the Defence Forces and the Defence Forces continue to have a proactive approach to all aspects of recruiting. Recruitment into the Permanent Defence Force will continue to maintain the strength at the level set out in the White Paper as required to meet military needs. The strength of the Defence Forces as at 31 December in the years 2003, 2004 and 2005 respectively was 10,498, 10,551 and 10,446.

The strength of the Permanent Defence Force on 31 October 2006, as advised by the military authorities was 10,357. A detailed breakdown of the numbers in the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps by rank is in the form of a Tabular Statement which I propose to circulate with the Official Report.

There is a planned total intake of 255 personnel (Cadets, Apprentices & General Enlistment) before the end of 2006, with an expected outflow of 150 personnel in the same period. Recruit intake will be finalised in December 2006 to ensure that the annualised monthly average strength is at or around 10,500.

Lt Gen

Maj Gen

Brig Gen

Col

Lt Col

Comdt

Capt

Lt

Total Offrs

SM

BQMS

CS

CQMS

SGTS

CPLS

Total NCOS

PTES

Cadets

Total

Army

1

2

6

39

127

324

301

270

1,070

34

37

135

241

1,029

1,561

3,037

4,247

40

8,394

Air Corps

0

0

1

2

14

30

45

44

136

7

3

52

14

130

185

391

325

26

878

Naval Service

0

0

1

2

12

46

47

50

158

6

7

77

16

205

197

508

403

16

1,085

Lt Gen = Lieutenant General

SM = Sergeant Major

Maj Gen = Major General

BQMS = Battalion Quartermaster Sergeant

Brig Gen = Brigadier General

CS = Company Sergeant

Col = Colonel

CQMS = Company Quartermaster Sergeant

Lt Col = Lieutenant Colonel

SGTS = Sergeants

Comdt = Commandant

CPLS = Corporals

Capt = Captain

NCOS = Non Commissioned Officers

Lt = Lieutenant

PTES = Privates

Question No. 29 answered with QuestionNo. 22.

Pat Rabbitte

Ceist:

30 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Defence if he proposes to restore the 250 training appointments granted to the Defence Forces in the White Paper on Defence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38185/06]

The White Paper on Defence set the strength of the Permanent Defence Force at 10,500. It also provided that the Chief of Staff could maintain an additional 250 in training at any one time. This latter provision was withdrawn in 2003 as part of the Government Decision on managing public service numbers and there are no plans to restore it.

The strength of the Permanent Defence Force on 30 September 2006, the latest date for which detailed figures are available, as advised by the military authorities was 10,383.

It is my intention to maintain the established Government policy of ongoing recruitment to the Defence Forces. Recruitment into the Permanent Defence Force will continue to maintain the strength at the level set out in the White Paper as required to meet military needs. The Defence Forces continue to have a proactive approach to all aspects of recruiting.

The Defence Forces manage recruit intakes to keep its annualised monthly average strength at or around 10,500. The strength of the Defence Forces as at 31 December in the years 2003, 2004 and 2005 respectively was 10,498, 10,551 and 10,446.

Question No. 31 answered with QuestionNo. 12.

Overseas Missions.

Joe Costello

Ceist:

32 Mr. Costello asked the Minister for Defence if members of the Defence forces are involved in training for EU Battle Groups; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38182/06]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

60 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence the extent to which Ireland’s participation in EU battle groups has progressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38181/06]

Dan Boyle

Ceist:

70 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Defence the progress in Ireland joining the Nordic EU Battle group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38110/06]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

232 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence if he has received indications from his EU colleagues in regard to the future participation of Irish troops in EU battle groups or rapid response forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38438/06]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

233 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence the extent to which members of the Army, Navy or Air Corp have participated in training along with other EU forces in preparation for participation in rapid response forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38439/06]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

234 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence the number of Irish troops expected to participate in EU battle groups; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38440/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 32, 60, 70, 232 to 234, inclusive, together.

On 24 January 2006, the Government, in an informal decision, agreed that the Minister for Defence could enter into discussions with Sweden and other like-minded nations in relation to Ireland's contribution to EU Battle groups. Representatives from the Departments of Defence and Foreign Affairs and the Defence Forces have met with their Swedish counterparts on a number of occasions to discuss possible participation by the Defence Forces in the Nordic Battle group. Following discussions with Sweden, which is the framework nation for the Nordic Battle group, Sweden on behalf of the Nordic Battle group advised that it will welcome a contribution from Ireland, subject to Ireland's agreement to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the Nordic Battle group, without amendment. The MoU is an agreement between the participants comprising the Nordic Battle group, namely Sweden, Norway, Finland and Estonia, which sets out principles in relation the operation, deployment and management of the Nordic Battle group.

At the Government meeting of 14 November, approval was given to provide a contingent of the Permanent Defence Forces to participate in the Nordic Battle group and for the Minister for Foreign Affairs to sign the MoU for the Nordic Battle group, subject to the approval of Dáil Éireann.

The proposed Defence Forces contribution will involve an EOD/IEDD contingent with its own security detail, together with staff posts at the Operational and Force headquarters. (EOD/IEDD means Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Improvised Explosive Device Disposal. EOD relates to normal type munitions whereas IEDD generally refers to devices devised by terrorist groups, such as car bombs etc.) The total number of Defence Forces personnel involved is expected to be somewhere between 80 and 100. This level of commitment will only arise should the Battle group be called on to undertake an operation. The number of personnel involved operationally during the standby period, where the Battle group has not been mobilised to undertake an operation, will be of the order of 10 personnel. Any contribution to a Battle group will be met within the context of the overall ceiling of 850 personnel serving overseas at any one time set in the White Paper on Defence and will have no adverse impact on our existing peace support operations.

Most Battle group training will take place in the contributing member States — i.e. Irish troops will mainly be trained in Ireland. That said, some level of joint training with other Battle group elements will be required. It is planned that joint training of the Nordic Battle group elements, including field manoeuvres, will take place in Sweden in September/October 2007 for a period of approximately 3 to 4 weeks. Sweden, on behalf of the other participating States, has accepted that there will be no joint training exercises in Ireland.

Irrespective of our participation in the Nordic Battle group in 2008, possible participation in future Battle groups with other EU partners is also under active consideration. In this regard, it is proposed to have further discussions with other member States over the coming months, in particular, with Finland and Austria with whom we have had some initial informal exploratory discussions.

Question No. 33 answered with QuestionNo. 11.

Defence Forces Pay.

Trevor Sargent

Ceist:

34 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Defence the pay scales for members of the Defence Forces; and Ireland’s ranking in terms of army pay in the EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38117/06]

The current rates of pay and allowances for members of the Defence Forces can be found on my Departments website at www.defence.ie. I propose to circulate with the Official Report a tabular statement setting out the details as requested.

A wide range of different rates of pay for military personnel can be found across the European Union. This reflects the enormous differences in development levels and labour market conditions between member States. The differing rates are also influenced by such matters as the conditions of entry, terms of service, workloads, taskings, superannuation provisions and the taxation and social welfare regimes that apply in the various EU countries. In addition, the nature of national defence organisations themselves is quite varied.

Rates of remuneration and conditions of employment in the Irish public sector are never set by reference to those obtaining in another EU member State. What is much more relevant is a comparison of the relative levels of pay across the various sectors of the Irish public sector and private sector.

In this regard, the pay of Defence Forces personnel has benefited from national pay agreements and from benchmarking against the private sector. As you may be aware there is a benchmarking process currently underway with a report due in 2007.

Defence Forces Retirement Scheme.

Pádraic McCormack

Ceist:

35 Mr. McCormack asked the Minister for Defence the number of Commandants and Lieutenant Colonels due to retire on age grounds for each year from 2012 to 2016; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38200/06]

The number of Commandants and Lieutenant Colonels due to retire on age grounds for each year from 2012 to 2016, as advised by the military authorities, is provided in the following Tabular Statement. These figures are based on retirement age in current rank.

Lieutenant Colonel (and equivalents)

Year

Army

Air Corps

Naval Service

Total

2012

19

2

2

23

2013

11

1

1

13

2014

15

2

1

18

2015

6

Nil

2

8

2016

3

3

2

8

Commandant (and equivalents)

Year

Army

Air Corps

Naval Service

Total

2012

22

1

2

25

2013

21

2

1

24

2014

21

1

1

23

2015

16

Nil

4

20

2016

12

1

2

15

Defence Forces Property.

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

36 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Defence the location of the firing ranges and training grounds located throughout the country; the precautionary mechanisms in place to protect the Defence Forces and civilians from injury during training and manoeuvres; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38194/06]

The information sought by the Deputy is set out in the following table:

Location

Ranges

2 Eastern Brigade

Kilbride

Kilpeddar Range

Gormanston

Red Barns Range Dundalk

1 Southern Brigade

Kilworth

Kilcoran County Tipperary

Bere Island

Barnane

Ballymullen County Laois

Ballywilliam County Wexford

4 Western Brigade

Carnagh Rifle Range

Oranmore Rifle Range

Cushla

Connolly Barracks, Longford

Custume Barracks, Athlone

Dún Uí Mhaoilíosa, Galway

Finner Camp

Columb Barrack, Mullingar

Rockhill House, Donegal

Grenade Ranges:

Athlone

Galway

Finner

Defence Forces Training Centre

Glen of Imaal

Curragh No. 1 Range

Curragh No. 2 Range

Curragh No. 3 Range

Curragh No. 4 Range

Grenade Range

Hare Park Demolition Ground

Training Areas

2 Eastern Brigade

Kilbride

Gormanston Camp

1 Southern Brigade

Kilworth

Bere Island

Fort Davis

Ballydunlea

Kinnity Sliabh Blooms

4 Western Brigade

Carnagh

Finner

Defence Forces Training Centre

Curragh Camp/Curragh Plains

Glen of Imaal

Maddens Town Wood County Kildare

There is a range of safety precautions in place designed to prevent injury to military or civilian personnel during a training exercise. Prior to any training exercise a comprehensive risk assessment for each aspect of the exercise is carried out and all necessary precautions are taken to address each of the risks highlighted. Each military firing range also has a set of range orders, which outline all required precautions that must be observed during a training event. All personnel involved in the exercise are issued with appropriate protective equipment for the taskings included in the exercise. Medical personnel and military police are also assigned as appropriate.

Arrangements in regard to safeguarding members of the public during military training exercises include, where appropriate, the prior notification of a scheduled exercise to the Garda Síochána in the area and the local community in the immediate vicinity of the exercise. Warning Signs are displayed on all major roads in the area and sentries are placed on approach roads to the exercise area. Warning flags and flashing lights are also displayed to further indicate the presence of exercise troops in an area. In certain cases notifications are advertised in the local and national press prior to the exercise taking place.

The safety of personnel, both military and civilian, during Defence Forces training exercises is of paramount importance to the Department of Defence and safety precautions are kept under review in order to achieve that objective.

Military Archives.

Pat Breen

Ceist:

37 Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Defence the position in relation to the development of the military archives; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38149/06]

The military authorities advise that at present the staff strength of the Military Archives is three (3), comprising of two (2) commissioned officers and one (1) Private. The military authorities advise me that a strength of five (5), including suitably qualified replacements for two (2) officers who have retired and who previously also worked in the Archives, is sufficient to meet the current demands on the Military Archives. I appreciate the importance of returning to five (5) full-time equivalent staff in the military archives without delay.

The requirement for a more suitable home for the Military Archives has been recognised for some time. The primary focus has so far been on the National Museum of Ireland facility at the former Collins Barracks Dublin, long considered as the most appropriate location for the Military Archives.

Facilities are required to protect and safeguard the material currently stored and to provide for the deposition of future material, as well as permitting easy public access. An Inter Departmental Committee was established in early 2003 with terms of reference to examine and to advise on the best means of protecting and safeguarding the Military Archives by way of securing their removal from Cathal Brugha Barracks to new premises to be developed at the former Collins Barracks Dublin.

The Inter Departmental Committee focussed on feasibility studies based on a detailed examination of various locations around and within the Collins Barracks site. These studies were carried out up to early 2005 by a firm of architectural consultants engaged through the Office of Public Works.

The consultants identified potential locations within the Collins Barracks site. However, these feasibility studies also raised serious issues around the cost, planning and building/ architectural protection considerations involved in meeting the demands of the Military Archives on the Collins Barracks site. The implications of the serious questions raised about the location of the full Military Archives on this site are being examined in my Department.

Particular challenges and difficulties in re-housing the Military Archives at Collins Barracks would be posed by the provision of extensive modern purpose-built facilities within the restrictions of an historic built environment. Consideration of some usage of the Collins Barracks site has not been exhausted. However, I have asked the Interdepartmental Committee to extend its search beyond Collins Barracks and to revert to me with options. I have also requested that any scope for locating the Military Archives together with or alongside the National Archives continue to be explored in line with that body's own development plans.

Decentralisation Programme.

Tom Hayes

Ceist:

38 Mr. Hayes asked the Minister for Defence the position in relation to the decentralisation of the Civil Defence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38139/06]

The decentralisation of the Civil Defence Board is now complete. I had the pleasure of opening the Board's new purpose built offices in Benamore, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary on the 12th of September 2006.

Question No. 39 answered with QuestionNo. 6.

Defence Forces Equipment.

Eamon Gilmore

Ceist:

40 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Defence if the voluntary code of conduct drawn up by the European Defence Agency to encourage competition in the European defence equipment market has been accepted by all EU countries; if the adoption of the code has brought about reductions in Irish Defence Forces equipment costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38193/06]

At the meeting of the European Defence Agency Steering Board on 21 November 2005, agreement was reached on the voluntary code of conduct, the aim of which is to encourage greater competition in the European Defence Market. The voluntary Code of Conduct seeks to eliminate or reduce the level of recourse to Article 296 of the Treaty, which enables member States avoid the normal open tendering arrangements, where Defence Equipment is involved.

The Code of Conduct was introduced for subscribing Member States on 1 July 2006. Of the 24 Member States, participating in the Agency, 22 have agreed to implement the Code (Spain and Hungary have opted out). While Ireland is not a major consumer of defence equipment in relative terms, it is expected that adoption of the Code of Conduct may lead to greater competition and lower costs generally in the defence equipment market.

As adoption of the Code of Conduct is still in the early stages, the full effect has yet to be seen in terms of reductions in equipment costs. Since adoption of the Code of Conduct in July of this year, there has been no significant procurement undertaken by the Defence Forces as most of our procurement is undertaken in the first half of the financial year. In due course it is hoped that the effect of the Code of Conduct would be to deliver improved efficiency and value for money in terms of our investment in defensive equipment for the Defence Forces.

Hearing Impairment Claims.

Pat Carey

Ceist:

41 Mr. Carey asked the Minister for Defence the number of queries he has received from former and serving members of the Defence Forces who had pursued hearing loss claims and were now claiming to have been overcharged by their solicitors; the assistance his Department has afforded to them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38062/06]

Since October 2005, 183 enquiries have been received by my Department from Plaintiffs regarding the fees paid to solicitors in respect of Army Deafness cases. Generally these queries refer to the amount of the award or settlement and the costs paid.

As a matter of course, my Department advises the individual in such cases of the amount of the settlement or award, and the date on which payment issued. In addition, the amount paid by the State in respect of Plaintiff costs, and the date of such payment, are also advised.

In responding to enquiries from Plaintiffs, they are also advised that they are entitled to obtain details of the costs in their case from their solicitor under the provisions of Section 68, subsection 6 of the Solicitors (Amendment) Act, 1994. These provisions oblige a legal representative to provide a summary of the legal services provided and the amount of expenses incurred in the provision of these legal services as well as details of all charges that have been recovered. We also advise them that the Law Society of Ireland is the statutory body entrusted with responsibility to investigate complaints against solicitors by any client and that the Law Society has procedures in place in this regard.

I wrote to the Law Society of Ireland at the time of the initial queries regarding solicitors' charges in Army hearing loss litigation. In my letter, I asked the Law Society what plans they had to deal with any complaints regarding charging by solicitors in these cases. The Law Society clarified that it was the Statutory Body responsible for dealing with such complaints and that it had procedures in place in this regard. The Society has power to order a solicitor to repay any excessive amount charged and is anxious to investigate any complaints made against solicitors.

I wrote again to the Law Society in June 2006 expressing my disappointment with the situation whereby a number of complainants have apparently been advised that the Law Society cannot pursue the matter on the grounds that the bill concerned is over five years old, despite the fact that the complainants have only recently become aware of the potential overcharging. The Law Society indicated in its response, that it unreservedly condemns any misconduct by a solicitor in overcharging a client. The Society pointed out that the lapse of time since many of the cases were settled posed major difficulties for its investigative powers. The relevant Law Society Solicitors' Accounts Regulations require solicitors to maintain accounts, including original files, for a period of six years following conclusion of a case. In a great many of the cases the subject of these complaints, the Society has been informed that, as cases were concluded more than six years ago, the solicitors' files, including the documentation necessary to answer the complaint, have been destroyed. In such circumstances, the argument has been made that it would be contrary to natural justice and fair procedures to proceed with investigations where the solicitor complained of did not have access to the documentation necessary to answer a complaint. The Society also made the point that the fact that a complaint is made does not in itself mean that overcharging occurred. Each case must be examined individually and in accordance with the relevant statutory provisions.

The Society assured me that there was certainly no lack of will on its part to investigate such complaints in accordance with its statutory powers and the principles of natural justice and fair procedures. The Society also indicated that any client who expresses dissatisfaction with the manner in which their complaint has been handled by the Society, is advised of their entitlement to refer the matter to the Independent Adjudicator of the Law Society for independent review. In addition, it is open to any client to make their complaint directly to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, which is the forum to which the Society would refer any matter it considers discloses professional misconduct.

Question No. 42 answered with QuestionNo. 6.

Defence Forces Equipment.

Charlie O'Connor

Ceist:

43 Mr. O’Connor asked the Minister for Defence the way his Department disposes of old, non military, Defence Force equipment; if there are procedures for making redundant vehicles such as vans and trucks available to charitable or community groups; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38052/06]

It is not generally the practice to sell defensive equipment. Such equipment is normally scrapped when it is considered to be defunct.

However, there are a number of categories of equipment that are disposed of. The main category relates to military vehicles. Military vehicles undergo regular maintenance and overhauls to ensure that they are roadworthy and provide value for money service. When, having regard to age, condition and mileage, vehicles are considered by military transport personnel to have reached the end of their economic life, they are proposed for disposal. Before the disposal action can be commenced, each vehicle requires examination and certification by a Military Board of Survey. A procedure has been adopted in recent years whereby all military vehicles are disposed of by public auction with due cognisance given to the age, condition and mileage of the vehicles and their suitability for sale in that manner.

Tender competitions are held with regard to the disposal of items such as empty Brass Cartridges and used tyres. The main prerogative here for the Department is that tenderers comply with all legislative requirements for the disposal of such goods following which the goods are sold to the highest bidder. In the case of tyres, the Department now pays for the disposal of such used tyres.

Occasionally, a major asset (s), which has reached the end of its economic working life, is sold off by public tender. An example is the sale of the Naval Ship, LE Deirdre, which was sold for €270,000 in June 2001. My Department is currently disposing of six Marchetti aircraft, four Dauphin helicopters and one Gazelle.

From time to time charitable organisations approach the Department requesting that an obsolete vehicle, such as an old ambulance or minibus, be donated to them. Such requests are considered on their own merit. Registered Charitable Organisations are assisted when possible, allowing for the fact they would not be in a financial position to purchase such a vehicle.

Question No. 44 answered with QuestionNo. 27.
Question No. 45 answered with QuestionNo. 8.

Defence Forces Property.

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

46 Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Defence the position in relation to Wexford military barracks; his plans to develop same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38134/06]

Wexford Military Barracks stands on approximately one acre. There are currently no plans for any major works at the property, which will continue in use as the HQ of the 33rd Battalion RDF.

Question No. 47 answered with QuestionNo. 28.

Health and Safety Regulations.

Liam Twomey

Ceist:

48 Dr. Twomey asked the Minister for Defence the plans he has to upgrade the information and warning signage in the vicinity of the Glen of Imaal firing range, County Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38137/06]

The safety of individuals visiting areas such as the Glen of Imaal is of paramount importance to the Department of Defence and the design and location of information and warning notices is kept under review in order to achieve that objective. An explanatory leaflet which contains a map of the Glen of Imaal and includes details of "do's" and "dont's" has been printed and copies have been supplied to all Youth Hostels in the area and are also available at the Range Warden Service Advice Centre at Seskin School. Notices of Intent to Fire are posted in advance on notice boards at the Army Information and Advice Centre in Seskin, the Post Office at Knockanarrigan, and at local Youth Hostels. In addition, in the period prior to Bank Holiday Weekends advertisements are placed in newspapers warning of the dangers that may be encountered in the area.

Army Barracks.

Trevor Sargent

Ceist:

49 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Defence the number of people residing at Cathal Brugha barracks, Rathmines; his plans to sell off sections of the land there; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38118/06]

Accommodation in Cathal Brugha Barracks includes officers married quarters, single living in and low density accommodation for officers and other ranks personnel and billet accommodation used for transit and short term stays for courses etc. There is in the region of 350 personnel accommodated at present. In addition, there are twelve other ranks married quarters located outside Cathal Brugha Barracks, eleven of which are presently occupied. Since 1988 it has been the policy of my Department to sell off married quarters located outside of barracks. In 1997 these married quarters were offered for sale to the occupants. There are a number of layout and structural design issues associated with them, especially common shared elements viz., waterpipes, services, access to attics, common green areas, etc. All twelve quarters must be sold in view of the shared services design. At that time it was made known that the quarters would only be sold if all of the occupants agreed to purchase. The Chief State Solicitor's Office advised that the Department would not be under any legal obligation to accept any offers from any of the other occupants in the event of one or more of the occupants not proceeding to purchase. My Department is continuing to explore possible solutions.

As you are aware, the Government, on 15th July 1998, approved a programme of evacuation and sale of six barracks considered surplus to military requirements. The barracks in question were located at Ballincollig, Fermoy, Castleblayney, Naas, Kildare and Islandbridge, Dublin. The Government subsequently decided on 1 July 2003 that Magee Barracks, Kildare would be among the State lands released for inclusion in the Sustaining Progress Affordable Housing Initiative. There are no plans to sell Cathal Brugha Barracks.

Defence Forces Reserve.

John Deasy

Ceist:

50 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Defence if recent major exercises have been carried out by the Reserve Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38136/06]

No recent major exercises have been carried out by the Reserve Defence Force. The White Paper on Defence outlines the blue print for a new Reserve Defence Force which will have a clearly defined role, an enhanced relationship with the PDF, better equipment and training and opportunities to serve on overseas peace support missions.

The Reserve Defence Force Review Implementation Plan, which was formally launched in July 2004, is progressing on schedule. This plan provides for the phased enhancement of Reserve capabilities over the period to end 2009. To date the Reserve has been reorganised along similar lines to the Permanent Defence Force with three Brigades, a Reserve Defence Force Training Authority located in the Defence Forces Training Centre in the Curragh and a dedicated Naval Service Reserve. These new organisational structures were introduced on 1st October 2005. In addition to the reorganisation, the Reserve has seen significant improvements in clothing, equipment and enhanced training opportunities.

The development of the integrated element of the Reserve is currently being progressed and it is planned to introduce elements of the integrated Reserve, on a pilot basis, in 2007. This element of the Reserve will provide personnel who will integrate with PDF units in contingency situations. The Integrated Reserve will be provided with enhanced military training and PDF unit commanders will be responsible for the training of such Reserve personnel.

Army Medical Corps.

Seán Crowe

Ceist:

51 Mr. Crowe asked the Minister for Defence if it is correct that the Defence Forces have less than half the number of serving doctors that it should have; the reason for same; and the steps he is taking to address it. [38177/06]

There is a shortage of medical officers (Doctors) in the Medical Corps. The establishment for Medical Officers is 47 and the current strength if 23, of whom 12 are functioning in front line clinical duties in Ireland amongst Brigades and formations. The services of civilian medical practitioners are regularly engaged to ensure that the primary health care requirements arising in barracks are met. However, the shortage of dedicated doctors impacts on overall management and control, both at the level of local units and nationally in the Medical Corps.

Efforts are ongoing to address the shortage of Medical Officers (Doctors) in the Medical Corps. A recruitment campaign for Doctors is currently under way. This campaign follows on from a recent decision to significantly increase the pay of Doctors and Dentists in the Medical Corps, linking them to the pay of public health doctors and dentists.

A review of the provision of medical services in the Defence Forces initiated as part of the Modernisation Agenda under Sustaining Progress has delivered improvements in this area. This work involves the Department of Defence including military management and the Representative Associations. A revised concept document on the provision of medical services and a patients charter are being prepared. There will be a greater emphasis on the direct provision of medical services and improvements in the maintenance and tracking of patients' records and treatment through computerisation. In the context of the Modernisation agenda arising under "Towards 2016" it is also intended to review the sick leave arrangements for personnel of the Defence Forces.

The work outlined above will assist the Chief of Staff, the Medical Corps and local commanders in their efforts to minimise the instances of sick leave of the Defence Forces and to maintain the general health of the Defence Forces.

Military Discipline.

Pat Rabbitte

Ceist:

52 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Defence the scheme of military discipline in the Defence Forces; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that PDFORRA believes that its officials have been victimised by improper use of such military discipline; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38184/06]

Military law, including military discipline, is prescribed in the Defence Act, 1954 and in Defence Force Regulations made pursuant to various provisions of the Defence Act.

PDFORRA has submitted a claim under the Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme for the Permanent Defence Force in relation to alleged disadvantage and discrimination against elected representatives. By agreement with the Association, discussions under the Scheme are confidential to the parties involved and it would not therefore be appropriate for me to comment on this particular issue.

I would however like to emphasise that allegations of this nature in the Defence Forces are treated with the utmost seriousness and there are extensive and robust complaints and grievance procedures processes in place to protect the rights of all Defence Forces personnel, including PDFORRA officials.

Health and Safety Regulations.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Ceist:

53 Mr. Gogarty asked the Minister for Defence if Irish troops returning from duty in the Balkans are still being tested for the effects of radiation from depleted uranium used in anti-tank shells during the Balkan conflict; the results of previous testing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38113/06]

Surveys were conducted by the Defence Forces in the Balkans in 2001. These surveys demonstrated that there was no increase in the background radiation levels in the work environment of the Defence Forces in the Balkans.

A policy of conducting biochemical, haematological and urinalysis tests as part of the in-theatre pre-repatriation medical examination of troops serving in the Balkans and Kuwait was initiated in February 2001. The results of these tests have not demonstrated any variance from the normal pattern and range of findings in similar military populations in Ireland and in 2006 were discontinued as part of the routine pre-repatriation medical examinations.

However, tests similar to those previously conducted with the Balkans pre-repatriation medical examinations are conducted as part of the Annual Medical examination which each member of the Defence Forces is required to undergo for the purpose of health review and medical classification.

Defence Forces Ombudsman.

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

54 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Defence the number of complaints received by the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces since the office was established by law in 2004; the various categories of complaint; the number of complaints processed to completion; the number of complaints outstanding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38190/06]

The Office of the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces was established under the Ombudsman (Defence Forces) Act 2004. On the 19th September 2005, Ms Paulyn Marrinan-Quinn SC was appointed by the President, upon the recommendation of the Government, as the first Ombudsman for the Defence Forces.

The function of the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces is to act as the ultimate point of appeal for, and administrative investigation into, complaints made by members (and former members) of the Defence Forces against another member (or former member) of the Defence Forces, or against a civil servant of the Department of Defence. The Ombudsman for the Defence Forces may investigate a complaint in respect of an action or decision, which may have adversely affected the complainant personally. The action or decision complained of must have occurred no earlier than the 1st December 2005.

To date, the office of the Ombudsman has sent me some fourteen (14) reports on individual cases. I have either responded to or am in the process of responding to the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces in respect of each of these case reports. The Minister for Defence is obliged to inform the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces of the measures taken or proposed in response to her recommendation.

I can also inform the Deputy that since 1st December 2005, some 91 complaints have been made within the military system under Section 114 of the Defence Act 1954, as now amended by the Ombudsman (Defence Forces) Act 2004, seeking redress of wrongs. Those redress complainants, whose complaints relate to matters occurring on or after 1st December 2005, are eligible to refer their complaint to the Ombudsman if a complainant so desires. I am advised by the Military Authorities that there are some 72 complaints in this category, of which 21 have been referred to the Ombudsman so far.

The Ombudsman for the Defence Forces is, in accordance with the Act, independent in the performance of her duties. She is required to report annually to the Dáil. In these circumstances, I do not consider it appropriate for me to report on her behalf or to give details in relation to her reports on individual cases, complaints already submitted to the Office of the Ombudsman, the status of those complaints, or the current treatment of those cases by the Ombudsman.

I am happy to inform the Deputy that the primary focus in these cases to date has been on selection for promotion, selection for military career courses and selection for overseas service. I can also indicate that the reports of the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces have made a valuable contribution to the ongoing updating of selection procedures in these three areas.

Defence Forces Equipment.

Liz McManus

Ceist:

55 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Defence his proposals for developing the Irish Defence Forces into a modern light infantry force; the military equipment which has been acquired since 2000; the military equipment which has been ordered; from whom the military equipment has been purchased; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38187/06]

The overall objective of the White Paper is to ensure that the country has the Defence Forces it needs to meet the roles laid down by Government and that the Defence Forces continues to be an organisation in which people are proud to serve. To achieve this the White Paper set out the following broad goals:- to provide a light infantry based force with an appropriate level of all-arms capability; to provide sufficient forces and capabilities to meet needs at home and to make a significant contribution abroad; to put in place a more cohesive and better equipped force than exists at present; and, to provide significant additional resources for equipment and infrastructure broadly within the existing level of financial allocation.

The acquisition of new equipment and services for the Defence Forces continues to be a key focus for me as Minister for Defence. Significant investment has taken place in recent years and I will continue the good work in that regard. In recent years the main focus of that investment has been as follows: The Defence Forces have acquired a total of 65 new APCS in recent years from Mowag in Switzerland at a total cost of €84m, paid over the years 1999 to 2005. Mowag APCs are currently on operational duties with our troops in Kosovo, Liberia and now Lebanon. In December 2005, a further contract was signed with Mowag for the supply in 2007 of 15 additional Piranha Armoured Vehicles, 9 of which will be fitted with a Kongsberg Remote Weapon Station with a 12.7mm machine gun and 6 will be fitted with an Oto Melara turret armed with a 30mm cannon. The 15 vehicles will be used mainly in the Surveillance and Reconnaissance roles on overseas missions. The contract value is in the region of €36.5m including VAT. A down payment in the sum of €15.1m was made under the contract in December 2005. Payments under the contract will extend to January 2008. The Javelin system was acquired from Raytheon / Lockheed Martin via the US Foreign Military Sales at a cost of some €13m inclusive of VAT to give Defence Forces personnel an effective, anti-armour capability while on peace support operations. The system replaced the Milan missile system. The main delivery was made in 2005.

A programme for the purchase of NBC equipment is ongoing over recent years. The Defence Forces have available to them equipment for monitoring and protecting their members in dealing with Nuclear, Biological or Chemical (NBC) threats. This range includes approximately 9,500 NBC suits, 800 of which were delivered in 2006. Other equipment on hands includes Respirators, Biological Agent Detector and Screening Kits, Group Decontamination Equipment and Personal Decontamination Equipment. Over €8m has been expended on this programme in recent years.

An order has been placed for the supply of 1400 new 9mm general service pistols. The value of the order is in the region of €800k. It is expected that the new pistols will be delivered by the end of 2006. The pistols are carried for personal protection on security and regimental duties at home, and on overseas service. An order was placed in 2005 for the provision of 400 General Purpose Machine Guns for delivery late 2006. The value of the order is in the region of €4.379m, with a down payment of €1.447m paid in 2005. Six Field Deployable Command Post Containers have been delivered to the Curragh Camp. The value of the order was almost €3m. Two of the containers have been deployed to Lebanon. Integrated Protection and Load Carrying System —This includes Body Armour, Helmets and Back Packs (Rucksacks).

8000 units of body armour for the individual soldier on operational duties have been ordered. The new body armour provides significantly greater protection, comfort and coverage than the old model as well as a doubling of the range of sizes available. The total value of the two orders is in the region of €8m and full delivery is expected by end 2006. 12,000 helmets have been delivered. The value of the order was circa. €2.5m. 12,000 rucksacks have been ordered at a total cost of €3m, delivery to take place in 2007.

To complete the modern integrated protection and load carrying system, one other competition is currently in train for the acquisition of 12,000 Battle Vests used for the carriage by the individual soldier of essential items such as ammunition, personal radio, water and ancillary equipment.

The eight Pilatus PC-9M turbo propeller aircraft delivered in 2004, at a total cost of €60m, have replaced seven Marchetti aircraft in the pilot training role. These eight modern aircraft allow for the continued training of young cadets to the highest standards. Four utility AW 139 helicopters are being acquired from Agusta S.p.A. at a cost of €48.4m, inclusive of VAT. The four helicopters are being built at the Agusta facility near Milan, Italy. Two AW 139s will be delivered in November 2006 and the other two will be delivered in 2007. Payments for the helicopters are spread over a number of years from 2004 to 2008. The first helicopter has now been handed over to the Department and is currently being used for Air Corps pilot training in Italy.

The four AW 139 helicopters will be operated by the Air Corps in a general purpose military operational and training role. Primary taskings for the Utility helicopter will include training and operations with Special Forces, security and aid to the civil power, military exercises, infantry interoperability training and limited troop transport. They will also be used to perform air ambulance, inland Search and Rescue, aid to the civil community and VIP transport tasks.

Two light utility EC 135 helicopters have being acquired from Eurocopter S.A.S. at a cost of €12.8m, inclusive of VAT. The two helicopters were built at Eurocopter's facility in Donauworth, Germany. Both EC 135's were delivered in the latter part of 2005 and have entered operational service. The Air Corps are operating the two Light Utility helicopters primarily in the military pilot and aircrew-training role. Primary taskings for the helicopters will include pilot training, instructor training and instrument flight training.

In recent years, two new ships have been delivered to the Naval Service and the Service is operating with the recommended eight ships. LE Roisin was commissioned in December 1999 and her sister ship, LE Niamh, which replaced LE Deirdre, was commissioned in September 2001. The total cost of the two ships was €50m.

The past five years represents an investment of more than €500 million in acquiring and supporting modern equipment and services for the Defence Forces. In the same period there has been an investment of over €200 million in building and infrastructure across the Defence Forces. All of this equipment has been acquired as a result of tender competitions run in accordance with both nation and EU requirements. A wide range of manufacturers has provided the equipment.

Defence Forces Procurement.

Seán Ardagh

Ceist:

56 Mr. Ardagh asked the Minister for Defence the policy of the Defence Forces to sourcing local food produce for use in each barracks; if certain supplies are purchased centrally; the Defence Forces food bill cost for 2005 and 2006 to date; if the Defence Forces use foodstuffs low in fat and salt; if specific provisions are made for vegetarians, vegans and personnel with religious dietary requirements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38053/06]

The position is that all food supplies for the Defence Forces are procured centrally by the Food Procurement Section of the Defence Forces, who place contracts with suppliers in ten separate food categories e.g. Dairy Produce, Poultry Produce, Pack Rations. Tender competitions are run for all such contracts in accordance with National and EU regulations. Contractors submit tenders to supply food produce to barracks within their area of operations and contracts are awarded on the basis of the most economically advantageous tender received.

The food bill for the Defence Forces in 2005 was €5.9 million and to date in 2006, €4.4 million has been expended on food. These amounts include food provisions for home and for non-UN overseas missions. A number of low fat and low salt food products are provided to members of the Defence Forces.

Every effort is made to accommodate Defence Forces personnel who have particular dietary requirements. The Defence Forces School of Catering trains its chefs to facilitate such requirements, whether for personal, health, religious or other reasons.

Employment Equality.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

57 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Defence his position on homosexuals serving in the Defence Forces; if his attention has been drawn to claims in a court case against the State that soldiers were asked to resign if their superiors became suspicious that they might be homosexual; and the measures he has taken to ensure that members of the Defence Forces are treated equally regardless of gender, race or sexual orientation. [38179/06]

As the Deputy's question notes, a number of statements were made in the course of a recent hearing in the High Court of a personal injuries claim against the State for damages, arising from alleged sexual assaults allegedly committed by a former NCO against the Plaintiff in those particular proceedings. The alleged assaults were claimed to have taken place in a time frame spanning the period 1989 to 1995. The judgement of the High Court is awaited and I cannot comment on the substance of the case in any way whatsoever.

It should be emphasized that the statements arose in the context of the attitudes to homosexual behaviour and to homosexuality which would have been prevalent within the Defence Forces within the particular period of the time frame relevant to the case and also within a wider historical framework dating back to the 1970s. Moreover, it should be recalled that certain acts of homosexual behaviour continued to constitute criminal acts, potentially carrying a punishment of imprisonment in the event of conviction, until substantive amendment of the relevant legislation in 1993.

Contemporary legislation, in the form of the Employment Equality Acts, 1998 to 2004, prohibits discrimination on nine specified grounds. One of these specified grounds is sexual orientation. The Defence Forces Equality and Equal Status Policy (Chapter 6.6.2) clearly prohibits discrimination in relation to race, gender and sexual orientation.

The Defence Forces are committed to identifying and valuing difference in the staff to take account of the promotion of equality of opportunity on the grounds of race, gender, sexual orientation, family and marital status, religious belief and membership of the Traveller community. Recognising difference, naming them and taking account of them is part of the new culture of equality in the Defence Forces that is becoming more diversified and a society that is more cosmopolitan and varied.

Regulations do exist covering interpersonal relationships of whatever nature between individual members of the Defence Forces, having appropriate regard, in particular, to differences in rank. This is necessary in the context of the specific nature and structure of the Defence Forces.

Army Security Escorts.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

58 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Defence the agreement he has made with the financial institutions regarding army escort services for the transport of cash; the institutions that avail of the army escort service; the cost to the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38197/06]

As the Deputy may be aware, I had a number of discussions with the Irish Bankers Federation (IBF) in relation to this matter last year, with a view to increasing the level of contribution by the Banks in respect of the costs incurred by the Department in the provision of Cash Escorts. Following detailed and intensive discussions between officials of the IBF, the member Banks and the Department, a detailed formal agreement was signed on 11 May, 2005.

This agreement, which is for a 5 year period, provides that the banks will pay the total actual costs incurred by the Defence Forces in the provision of cash escorts. Costs in respect of each 12 month period to end-December, will be paid the following year on or before the 1st June. This is to allow for the compilation of returns from the brigades and allocation of costs following the year-end. The first payment under the new system was paid on 1 June 2006. I agreed, at the bank's request, to defer the first payment to that date to meet the banks budgeting and accounting timeframe.

In return for my agreement to this deferral, a transitional payment of €1 million, payable before the end of 2005, was negotiated as part of the overall agreement. Therefore in 2005 the banks made their annual payment of €2.86m plus the additional €1m making a total contribution of €3.86m. A figure of €6.03 million was paid in 2006. The amount to be paid in 2007 (costs for 2006) will not be available until early 2007.

Prior to this initiative it had been the case that an annual contribution of €2.86m was being paid by the banks to my Department in respect of the provision of cash escorts since 1995. This figure was set by the Department of Finance in the 1995 budget and had not been altered since. The contribution from the Banks was designed to part-cover the total costs to the State of providing cash escorts. At that time, the contribution covered approximately 72% of the total cost arising to the Defence Forces. Based on annual costings by the Department, the relative level of the contribution had fallen in real terms over the years to the situation where it was only covering 43% of the total costs.

The total cost in respect of the provision by the Defence Forces of assistance to the Garda Síochána in protecting movements of cash for the years 2001 to 2005 was as follows:

Year

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

Total number of escorts

2,488

2,516

2,335

2,425

2,252

Cost of Escorts

€6.57m

€6.87m

€6.5m

€7.5m

€6.03m

Payment received

€2.86m

€2.86m

€2.86m

€3.86m

€6.03m

Pay accounts for about 54% of the total costs of providing cash escorts. The non-pay costs include Security Duty Allowance (7%), Subsistence(8%), Transport (28%), and Aerial Surveillance (3%).

Overseas Missions.

Eamon Ryan

Ceist:

59 Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Defence if Irish Defence Forces intending to participate in NATO’s response force exercise in view of the fact that our Finnish partners in the EU Battlegroups intend to participate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38116/06]

Ciarán Cuffe

Ceist:

71 Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Defence the exercises the Irish Defence Forces will be participating in with NATO over the next 12 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38112/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 59 and 71 together.

Ireland does not contribute to the NATO Response Force and, as such, will not be participating in the related field exercises. Ireland does not participate in field exercises with NATO forces. However, as part of our participation in Partnership for Peace, on occasion, Ireland participates along with other partners in NATO organised desktop exercises. These exercises are designed to familiarise PfP participants with NATO standard operating procedures and practices and to improve overall interoperability among contributors to PfP-led peace support and crisis management operations. The Defence Forces are currently participating in Exercise Steadfast JAW, a combined joint task force desktop exercise which is taking place at the moment (9-22 November 2006). This exercise is designed to test and improve Headquarter capabilities to plan, prepare and establish command and control arrangements for the conduct of operations under a UN mandate. The Defence Forces also participate in Exercise Combined Endeavor, a yearly communication and information (CIS) interoperability exercise.

In relation to our participation in EU Battlegroups, it is planned that joint training of the Nordic Battlegroup elements, including field manoeuvres, will take place in Sweden in September/October 2007 for a period of approximately 3 to 4 weeks. No other joint training or field exercises by the Defence Forces, including field exercises outside of the Battlegroup participants is planned.

Question No. 60 answered with QuestionNo. 32.

Defence Forces Property.

Emmet Stagg

Ceist:

61 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Defence his Department’s lands disposed of by the Government in each of the past ten years, the value of each disposal; the purpose for which the proceeds were used; if further lands have been identified for disposal; his views on investing the proceeds of Defence Force lands in the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38188/06]

The Government, on 15 July 1998, approved a programme of evacuation and sale of six barracks considered surplus to military requirements. The barracks in question were located at Ballincollig, Fermoy, Castleblayney, Naas, Kildare, and Clancy Barracks, Dublin.

The sale of 97 acres approximately at Murphy Barracks, Ballincollig was completed in 2003 for a total of €42 million. The bulk of the lands were purchased by O'Flynn Construction. The sale of a site comprising c. 2.7 acres to the Southern Health Board for €1.73 million was completed in December 2004. 19.218 acres at the former Fitzgerald Camp, Fermoy, were sold to Cork County Council in 2001 for €0.974 million for development in conjunction with the IDA.

Castleblayney Military Post, Co. Monaghan, comprising c. 10 acres, was sold to the North Eastern Health Board for €0.762 million in 2002. 7 acres at Devoy Barracks, Naas, Co. Kildare, were ceded free of charge to Naas Urban District Council, while a further 14 acres were sold to that authority for €8.888 million. The balance of the Barracks lands — one acre — was sold to Kildare County Council for €0.381 million in 2002. Clancy Barracks, Dublin, comprising 13.65 acres approximately, was sold to Florence Properties Ltd. for €25.4 million in 2004.

The Government agreed on 16 December 2003 to the release of circa 2.5 acres at St. Bricin's Military Hospital, Dublin for inclusion in the Sustaining Progress Affordable Housing Initiative. The site was recently transferred to Dublin City Council as specified by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government for a nominal consideration.

Details of additional military property which was surplus to requirements and which was disposed of since 1997 are as follows:- 6.39 acres, known as "Susan's Field", adjoining Collins Barracks, Cork, was sold to Cork City Council for €1.523 million in 2002; circa 3.4 acres at Sarsfield Barracks, Limerick, was disposed of to Limerick City Council for €1.162 million in 2002/2003; a site comprising circa 0.931 acre, adjacent to my Department's RDF premises in Kanturk, Co. Cork, was disposed of to the Southern Health Board for a consideration of €0.178 million in 2003; approximately 1.559 acres at Waterford Barracks was sold to Waterford City Council for €0.662 million in 2003; the sale by public tender of Belmont Huts, Cobh, Co. Cork, comprising c. 2.89 acres, to a Wexford based partnership for €2.4 million, was completed during 2004; Spike Island, Co. Cork, was sold to the Department of Justice for €0.065 million in 2004; Custume House, Athlone was sold to the Organisation of National Ex-servicemen and women Teoranta for €0.254 million in 2005; In addition, in excess of 100 married quarters, which were located outside of barracks, have been disposed of, realising an income of over €4 million.

A number of minor properties were also disposed of during the period in question. In addition, from time to time land at various locations has been dedicated to local authorities to allow for projects such as road widening or realignment schemes. The sale of c. 1.7 acres at the former Murphy Barracks, Ballincollig, to the HSE-South and the transfer of 27 acres at the property to Cork County Council are being progressed at present. A half acre site at the former Barracks has also been reserved for sale to the Office of Public Works, to facilitate extension of Ballincollig Garda Station. The legal formalities for the definitive disposal of Fort Camden, Crosshaven, Co. Cork, to Cork County Council are nearing conclusion.

Agreement has recently been reached with Cork City Council for the sale of part of the Camp Field, Collins Barracks to that Authority. The Government decided that lands at Magee Barracks, Kildare, and Gormanston Camp, Co. Meath, as well as sites at St. Bricin's Hospital, Dublin and Collins Barracks, Cork, would be among the State lands released for inclusion in the Sustaining Progress Affordable Housing Initiative. As I have mentioned above, the site at St. Bricin's Hospital has already been transferred to Dublin City Council. How land at the remaining locations might play a role in the delivery of affordable housing units is a matter in the first instance for the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, which is the lead Department for the development of the Affordable Housing Initiative. The legal formalities relating to the transfer of lands at these locations under the Affordable Housing Initiative are being progressed in consultation with that Department and the Chief State Solicitor's Office.

Further disposals in progress include: c.1.07 acres at Arbour Hill, Dublin to the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Town Hall, Ballyconnell to Cavan County Council; c. 20 acres of the Curragh lands to Kildare County Council in connection with the construction of the Kildare By-pass; and c. 10 acres of land at Renmore, Galway to Galway City Council.

In accordance with the Government's commitment under the White Paper on Defence the funding realised from the sale of properties has been used for an ongoing equipment and infrastructure modernisation programme. This programme has ensured that the Defence Forces are fully equipped with the most modern of equipment for their day-to-day roles, both at home and on overseas missions.

It is the policy of my Department to dispose of properties that are surplus to military requirements. In this regard the property portfolio is kept under on-going review and any properties deemed surplus to military requirements will be disposed of to fund much needed investment, to meet the equipment and infrastructure needs of the Defence Forces.

Army Dismissal Case.

Dan Boyle

Ceist:

62 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Defence the position regarding the case of a person (details supplied) and their complaints regarding unjust retirement from the Defence Forces; if he has reviewed the issues raised by the recently published book in connection with the case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38109/06]

The book to which the Deputy refers was launched by the author last May. My Department has examined the contents of the publication. The book does not present any new material of significance to the history of the case. The basic premise of the book was previously presented in a newspaper article written in summer 2002 by the author of the book.

The individual concerned was retired by the President, on the advice of the Government, with effect from a date in June, 1969. His retirement was effected pursuant to Section 47(2) of the Defence Act, 1954 and Paragraph 18(1)(f) of Defence Force Regulations A.15, which provide that an officer may be retired "in the interests of the service". The Deputy will appreciate that any decision to retire an officer "in the interests of the service" is extremely unusual in principle and would only be taken for the most compelling reasons.

The Government advice to the President in this case was on grounds of security. I am satisfied that the matter was handled in an entirely appropriate and proper manner in 1969 and that the decision taken then was taken only after very detailed and due consideration. The position at this stage is that the individual concerned has had access to all documents relating to his retirement since 14 November, 2002 when his legal representatives attended the Department and were given copies of all the relevant records held in my Department. I do not propose to take any further action in relation to this matter.

Army Bomb Disposal Unit.

Martin Brady

Ceist:

63 Mr. M. Brady asked the Minister for Defence the number of call outs made by the army bomb disposal unit in the greater Dublin area; the Munster area, the Connaught Ulster area and the Leinster area in 2005 and 2006 to date; the number of call outs due to hoax calls; the estimated costs of these hoax call outs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38049/06]

The Defence Forces nationally are divided into four main Brigades, namely 1 Southern Brigade, 2 Eastern Brigade, the 4 Western Brigade and the Defence Forces Training Centre. This does not equate to the provincial divisions within the country. The following is a list of the callouts in the various Brigades in 2005 and 2006 to date.

Number of Callouts 2005

Number of Hoax Calls 2005

1 Southern Brigade

26

3

2 Eastern Brigade

23

5

4 Western Brigade

29

1

DFTC

17

0

Total

95

9

Number of Callouts 2006

Number of Hoax Calls 2006 to date

1 Southern Brigade

23

0

2 Eastern Brigade

31

7

4 Western Brigade

16

1

DFTC

12

0

Total

82

8

I am informed by the Military Authorities that separate costs are not maintained for hoax callouts. However I understand that no additional costs are accrued as a result of hoax calls other than the cost of fuel to and from the location and the possible use of ordnance.

Drug Testing.

Martin Brady

Ceist:

64 Mr. M. Brady asked the Minister for Defence the number of Defence Forces personnel tested in 2004, 2005 and to date in 2006 under the drug testing programme; the numbers who tested positive; the procedures in force when a member tested positive; the number of personnel dismissed as a result of testing positive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38050/06]

Drug abuse has long been recognised as a serious and escalating problem in our society and while there have been relatively few instances of drug related problems within the Defence Forces, it is recognised that the Defence Forces, as a component of the wider community, mirror the community at large. The implications of drug abuse in an organisation where personnel have access to firearms are too obvious to require elaboration.

A Compulsory Substance Testing Programme was introduced on 1 February 2002, as part of a Defence Forces Substance Abuse Programme, following a long consultative process involving the Office of the Attorney General, the Deputy Judge Advocate General and the Defence Forces Representative Associations.

Prior to the launch of the programme, an education programme and awareness briefings were conducted throughout the Defence Forces. All personnel were issued with a booklet devised to inform them of the purpose of the new Compulsory Random Drug Testing programme, the administrative actions involved and the procedures to be followed for those who test positive. All necessary measures, including pre-enlistment screening, education, compulsory random drug testing, monitoring and sanctions, will be taken to maintain a drug free environment within the Defence Forces.

The primary objective of Compulsory Random Drugs Testing is deterrence. In order to provide a credible level of deterrent, the testing programme has been devised to maximise the possibility of random selection for testing. A trained Drugs Testing Team is responsible for taking urine samples for compulsory random testing throughout the Defence Forces. Testing commenced on 14th November 2002 and the programme is now in its fourth year of operation. The target of testing 10% of the Permanent Defence Force has been achieved. A member of the Permanent Defence Force, randomly selected, may be required, at any time, to provide a urine sample which will be tested for evidence of use of controlled drugs, or the abuse or misuse of other substances, or for the detection of the metabolites thereof. A member of the PDF who refuses to provide a urine sample, or who provides a urine sample which tests positive, may be liable to retirement, discharge or relinquishment of commission or withdrawal of cadetship as appropriate under the provisions of Defence Force Regulations.

The following table outlines the number of Defence Forces personnel tested under the compulsory random drugs testing programme for 2004, 2005 and to date in 2006. It also indicates the number of positive tests and the number discharged as a result of testing positive.

Year

Number Tested

Positive Tests

Number Discharged

Remarks

2004

1,110

4

4

2005

1,238

7

6

One recommendation for discharge awaiting Judicial Review

2006 (To Date)

1,050

6

2

Administrative procedures are ongoing for remaining four positive tests

The procedures following a positive test result are summarised as follows: 1. The individual is paraded by his/her Commanding Officer and informed of a positive A sample test result and is invited to have his/her second sample, B sample, tested at an alternative independent laboratory. 2. The individual will be restricted to unarmed duties pending the completion of administrative action. 3. Should the individual decline to have the B sample tested, or should the B sample result be positive, the individual will be paraded by his/her Commanding Officer and informed that administrative action will be initiated which may result in his/her discharge/retirement. The individual will be invited to make representations showing cause as to why he/she should be retained in service. 4. Having considered any representations from the individual, the Commanding Officer will make a recommendation to his/her Brigade/Formation Commander as to the retention or discharge/retirement of the individual. The individual will be paraded and informed of this recommendation. 5. The individual is also afforded the opportunity to make further representations directly to the Brigade/Formation Commander. 6. In the case of NCO's and Privates, following receipt of the Commanding Officer's recommendation, and having considered all representations made by the individual, the Brigade/Formation Commander decides on retention or discharge. 7. In the case of officers, the Brigade/Formation Commander will make a recommendation to the Deputy Chief of Staff (Support) as to retention or retirement of the individual and the individual will be informed of this recommendation. Having considered the recommendations of the Commanding Officer, the Brigade/Formation Commander and all representations made by the individual, the Deputy Chief of Staff (Support) decides on the retention or retirement of the officer.

Defence Forces Budget.

Emmet Stagg

Ceist:

65 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Defence if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the Defence Forces budget has almost halved in the past 10 years as a percentage of GNP; if he has satisfied himself that the Defence Forces can fulfil their domestic and international obligations on such a reduced budget; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38189/06]

Expenditure under the Defence and Army Pensions Votes has increased from €646 million in 1997 to an estimated outturn of €958 million in 2006. This represents an increase in defence spending of some 48% over that period.

The level of expenditure on defence in any particular country is influenced by a variety of factors, including that country's political and security environment, its history, demography and economy. While defence spending in this country has fallen as a percentage of GNP in recent years, this is not due to any reduction in the level of defence expenditure, but rather because of the massive increase in GNP.

There has been an unprecedented level of expenditure on infrastructure and equipment for the Defence Forces in recent years. This was made possible by the Government's decision that pay savings arising from the reorganization of the Defence Forces, set out in the White Paper 2000, along with proceeds from the sale of surplus properties, would be fully reallocated for investment in modern facilities and equipment.

Question No. 66 answered with QuestionNo. 27.
Question No. 67 answered with QuestionNo. 17.

Defence Forces Equipment.

Cecilia Keaveney

Ceist:

68 Cecilia Keaveney asked the Minister for Defence the major defence and military equipment purchases and the major equipment deliveries his Department is expecting in 2007 for the Army, Naval Service, Air Corps and Reserves; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38058/06]

The acquisition of new equipment for the Defence Forces continues to be a key focus for me as Minister for Defence. Significant investment has taken place in recent years and I will continue the good work in that regard.

2007 will see the delivery of two more AW139 helicopters for the Air Corps and 15 Mowag armoured personnel carriers for the Army. It is not possible, at this stage, to identify what other equipment will be acquired in 2007 other than stating that it will continue the government's programme to ensure that the equipment issued to the Defence Forces is in keeping with the most modern requirements and the highest international standards.

Question No. 69 answered with QuestionNo. 12.
Question No. 70 answered with QuestionNo. 32.
Question No. 71 answered with QuestionNo. 59.

Overseas Missions.

John Gormley

Ceist:

72 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Defence if he will report on the recent deployment of Irish troops to Liberia as part of UNMIL; the plans for this to be Ireland’s final deployment to UNMIL; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38108/06]

The United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) was established on 19 September, 2003, under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1509. The resolution authorised the deployment, under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, for a period of twelve months, of up to 15,000 military personnel, to include up to 250 military observers, 875 civilian police officers and a civilian component. UNMIL has a current strength of approximately 15,000 military personnel.

Following Government and Dáil approval, a contingent of the Permanent Defence Force was deployed for service with UNMIL in December 2003, comprising a motorised infantry battalion, of some 430 personnel. A small number of additional personnel were also deployed at Force Headquarters and as Military Observers. On 2 November 2004 and 6 December 2005 the Government reviewed and approved the continued participation of the Defence Forces in UNMIL.

The main Irish contingent operates as the Force Commander's Rapid Reaction Reserve. The role of the Irish personnel is the provision of an immediate response capability, deployable in sufficient strength and with the required level of force, to provide a swift and decisive military reaction to any crisis situation.

Initially, the Irish Battalion in UNMIL mainly operated in a path-finding and reconnaissance role, supporting the deployment of other UN contingents. It has also conducted long-range patrols beyond Monrovia and well into the interior of Liberia, showing a UN presence, deterring lawlessness and protecting local populations. The contingent also undertakes regular daily patrols within the Monrovia area. The Irish Battalion is available to the Force Commander to provide support and a rapid response capability in the event of a breakdown in law and order or further conflict. Additionally, the Quick Reaction Force (QRF) conducted patrols supporting the preparatory arrangements leading up to, and during, the National Elections in Liberia, held on 11 October, 2005 and 8 November, 2005.

On 11 November, 2005, the UN Security Council extended UNMIL's mandate to include the apprehension, detention and transfer to the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) of the former Liberian President, Charles Taylor, in the event of his return to Liberia. UNMIL assumed responsibility for the security of the Special Court for Sierra Leone from 1 December, 2005. This allowed Irish and Swedish troops to be made available for extraction operations should there be a requirement to evacuate the staff and detainees of the Special Court of Sierra Leone in Freetown.

The QRF assisted in the transfer from Monrovia to the Special Court for Sierra Leone in Freetown of the former President, Charles Taylor, for trial in accordance with the requirements of the UN, following his arrest in Nigeria on 29 March 2006. The QRF also assisted and provided security for the transfer of the former President from Sierra Leone to the court in The Hague in June 2006 where he will stand trial. The trial will be conducted by a Trial Chamber of the Special Court. The Court has set 2 April, 2007 as the tentative trial date.

Ireland was due to complete its participation in UNMIL in November 2006. However, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, requested Ireland to consider postponing the withdrawal of its troops from UNMIL for a period of at least six months, in order to give the UN time to find a suitable replacement for the QRF capability. The Government following a detailed review of the request, was happy to be able to respond positively to the UN Secretary General and this month the Defence Forces will undertake one further 6 month rotation to May, 2007, whereupon the contingent will then be withdrawn. The downsizing of the Irish contingent, as part of a phased withdrawal, commenced in June 2006, following discussions with the UN. The Swedish contingent, which previously partnered Ireland in the QRF, withdrew from UNMIL yesterday and was replaced by a Company from Pakistan. Pakistan will take over the full role of the QRF on Ireland's withdrawal in May 2007. The 96th Infantry Battalion, which is currently being deployed to UNMIL, will be the final Defence Forces deployment to the mission.

Irish Prison Service.

Ned O'Keeffe

Ceist:

73 Mr. N. O’Keeffe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will request the Office of Public Works to identify an alternative site for the development of a special project (details supplied) in County Cork. [38274/06]

There are only two sites currently available to the Irish Prison Service in the Cork region for prison development. The existing site in Cork city has been considered in detail and is not deemed to be suitable. The prison facility on Spike Island offers obvious advantages from a security perspective and is immediately available for development. No other sites in the Cork region have been offered for prison development, however, if another suitable site becomes available I would, as a matter of course, give it due consideration.

Asylum Applications.

Brian O'Shea

Ceist:

74 Mr. O’Shea asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the procedures in regard to applying for subsidiary status by persons appealing to be allowed remain here on humanitarian grounds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38282/06]

I assume the Deputy is referring to the procedures in regard to applying for subsidiary protection status under the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006, which I signed into law recently and are effective from 10 October 2006.

I refer the Deputy to the Information Note on the Regulations which is available on my Department's website along with the Regulations. Paragraph 7 of the Information Note refers to the procedures for making an application for subsidiary protection.

An application for subsidiary protection can only be made after an application for refugee status has been investigated and refused. An application for subsidiary protection must be made on the appropriate application form. These applications will be considered by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service.

Garda Complaints Procedure.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

75 Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will make a statement on the conduct of Gardaí involved in operations at Bellanaboy, County Mayo on 10 November 2006 and on the assault of protesters there by members of An Garda Síochána including that caught on camera and shown on RTÉ News at One. [38283/06]

The Garda Síochána is duty-bound to uphold the rule of law, and it has been seeking to do so in difficult circumstances and in a sometimes confrontational scenario not of its making.

With specific regard to incidents on 10 November, 2006, I am informed by the Garda authorities that as criminal prosecutions may arise, it is not considered appropriate to comment further at this time. This should not at all be taken as accepting the Deputy's characterisation of Garda activity on that day.

Citizenship Applications.

Pat Carey

Ceist:

76 Mr. Carey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a decision will be made in relation to an application for naturalisation on behalf of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 11; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38284/06]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's question was received in the Citizenship section of my Department in December 2003.

I understand that processing of the application is complete and that the case file has been submitted to me for a decision. I will advise the Deputy and the person in question once I have reached a decision on the application.

Closed Circuit Television Systems.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

77 Mr. Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding applications for closed circuit television cameras in towns in County Mayo; and when decisions will be made on these applications. [38302/06]

Michael Ring

Ceist:

78 Mr. Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the towns in County Mayo that have applied for the provision of closed circuit television cameras. [38303/06]

Michael Ring

Ceist:

79 Mr. Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding the provision of closed circuit television in County Mayo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38304/06]

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

I am informed by the Garda authorities that Castlebar is one of the 17 locations nationwide which form part of the Garda CCTV programme that remains to be completed.

I am advised that the Garda authorities propose to take over the existing CCTV system in Castlebar Town. This system was installed in 2004 by a local group called Castlebar CCTV Ltd. I understand that negotiations are due to take place shortly with Castlebar Town Council regarding equipment transfer and annual maintenance. I am further informed by the Garda authorities that an application for a Garda CCTV system in Ballina has been received by the CCTV Advisory Committee. This application is currently under consideration by the Committee. No other applications for Garda CCTV systems in Co. Mayo have been received by the Garda CCTV Advisory Committee .

As the Deputy may be aware I launched the Community Based CCTV Scheme on 15 June 2005 in response to the demonstrated demand from local communities across Ireland for the provision of CCTV systems. This Scheme is designed to provide financial assistance to qualifying local organisations towards meeting the capital costs associated with the establishment of local community CCTV systems. Ballina (CCTV Steering Committee) and Kiltimagh (IRD) both submitted proposals for Stage 1 (pre-development) funding under this Scheme. No other applications were received from local authorities, towns or communities in Co. Mayo.

Following thorough assessments of their applications, a pre-development grant of €5,000 was approved in respect of Ballina (CCTV Steering Committee's) application. I understand that Ballina Town Council formed part of this Committee. Kiltimagh's (IRD) application for funding was deemed not to reach a high enough standard to be granted funding at this stage. It is intended to invite a new round of applications for funding under this Scheme in the coming months, and it is, of course, open to any local authority or other group in Co. Mayo to submit an application for funding at that stage.

Residency Permits.

Ruairí Quinn

Ceist:

80 Mr. Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will arrange for a speedy decision to be given to a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow who has applied for permanent residency in order that they have documentation that will allow them to travel to be with their family at Christmas time and get back into Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38309/06]

There is no provision for the granting of permanent residency in Irish Immigration legislation. However, the proposed Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill will, for the first time, make statutory provision for a status of long term resident. An application for long term residency from the person referred to by the Deputy was received on the 26th June 2006.

The position in relation to granting long term residency is as follows: Persons who have been legally resident in the State for over five years on the basis of work permit/work authorisation/work visa conditions may apply to the Immigration Division of my Department for a five year residency extension. In that context they may also apply to be exempt from employment permit requirements.

The dependants of the aforementioned, who have been legally resident in the State for over five years may also apply for long term residency. This particular long term permission does not exempt the person from employment permit requirements. Time spent in the State on student conditions cannot be counted towards long term residency.

While applications for long term residency are under consideration, the person concerned should ensure that their permission to remain in the State is kept up to date. I understand that applications received in May 2006 are currently being dealt with. As soon as a decision is made on the case, the person concerned will be notified.

Visa Applications.

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

81 Mr. Howlin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in relation to the application of a person (details supplied) in County Wexford for a one year multiple entry visa to enable their mother, a Ukraine national, to visit the family in Wexford without the necessity of applying for a new visa on each occasion; if he will consider this application favourably in view of the undertaking given by this applicant’s family members that visa terms will be fully respected and that their needs in this country will be provided for by the family; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38310/06]

My Department has no record of a current visa application in respect of the person in question. I can confirm receipt of an application in respect of the person in question by the Honorary Consul in Kiev on 30th May, 2006. This single journey visa was issued. In general, multiple-entry visas may be issued when an applicant has demonstrated a compliant travel history to Ireland in the recent past. Any future applications by the person in question will be considered in that context. Full details of the documentation required for all visa applications can be found on my Department's website (www.justice.ie).

Garda Stations.

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

82 Ms C. Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the location of the new 24 hour Garda stations that were established within the past 10 years; the change in operating hours in the 11 stations that made changes to their hours within the past 10 years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38332/06]

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 induction of 280 new Garda recruits to the Garda College on 6 November, 2006 has resulted in a combined strength, of both attested Gardaí and recruits in training, of 14,137. 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 by the Garda authorities that the Garda Station at Dublin Airport which was established in 1998 was the new 24-hour Garda Station in question. The locations and hours of operation of the 11 Garda Stations that reduced their opening hours within the past 10 years are set out as follows:

Division/Station

Previous opening hours

Current opening hours

Louth/Meath

Omeath

24 hr.

6pm to 9pm

Sligo/Leitrim

Blacklion

24 hr.

8hrs a day

Cork North

Mitchelstown

24 hr.

10am to 6pm

Youghal

24 hr.

10am to 6pm

Donegal

Lifford

24 hr.

10am to 1pm

Ballybofey

24 hr.

10am to 1pm

Burnfoot

24hr.

10am to 1pm

Cavan/Monaghan

Clones

24hr.

10am to 1pm

Emyvale

24 hr.

10am to 1pm

Scotstown

24 hr.

10am to 1pm

Swanlinbar

24 hr.

10am to 1pm

The operation of a Garda station on a 24 hour basis necessitates the employment of additional personnel on indoor administrative duties who in the opinion of the Commissioner would be more effectively employed on outdoor policing duties.

I should add that 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.

Appointments to State Boards.

Dan Boyle

Ceist:

83 Mr. Boyle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the statutory processes involved in the appointment of chairs and members of non-Departmental public bodies under the remit of his Department and their legislative origin. [38345/06]

I presume the Deputy is referring to those public boards or other authorities under my Department's aegis to which persons are appointed either as Chairpersons or ordinary members. Bodies without such a board/authority structure are not listed.

Name of Public Body

Statutory Process involved in the Appointment of Chairs and Members

National Crime Council

Non-statutory body.

Private Security Authority

The Chairperson and members of the Board of the Private Security Authority are appointed by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform in accordance with the provisions of Section 7 of the Private Security Services Act 2004.

Garda Síochána Complaints Board, Garda Síochána Complaints Appeal Board

Under the terms of the Garda Síochána (Complaints) Act 1986, the Government appoints the Chairperson and ordinary members of both the Garda Síochána Complaints Board and the Garda Síochána Complaints Appeal Board.

Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission

Under Section 65 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the Ombudsman Commission is to consist of 3 members, all of whom are to be appointed by the President on a) the nomination of the Government, and b) the passage of resolutions by Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann recommending their appointment. One of the members shall be appointed as Chairperson.

Prisons Authority Interim Board

Non-statutory body.

Mental Health (Criminal Law) Review Board

The Chairperson and members of the Mental Health (Criminal Law) Review Board are appointed by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform pursuant to Section 11 of the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act, 2006.

Parole Board

Non-statutory body.

Courts Service Board

The Board of the Courts Service was established under the provisions of the Courts Service Act, 1998. The Act also sets out the appointment process for the Chairperson and members of the Board.

Judicial Appointments Advisory Board

The Board was established under the provisions of the Courts and Courts Officers Act, 1995. The Act also sets out the appointment process for the Chairperson and board members.

Committee on Court Practice and Procedure

Non-statutory body.

Equality Authority

The Board and Chairperson of the Equality Authority are appointed by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform in accordance with the provisions of sections 41-46 of the Employment Equality Acts 1998 and 2004.

National Disability Authority

Members of the National Disability Authority are appointed by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform in accordance with the National Disabilities Act, 1999, as amended by the Disability Act 2005.

Refugee Appeals Tribunal

Members are appointed by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform in accordance with the Second Schedule to the Refugee Act, 1996.

Censorship of Films Appeal Board

Sections 3(1) (2) and (3) of the Censorship of Films Act, 1923 provides for the appointment by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law reform of the Censorship of Films Appeal Board consisting of nine Commissioners of whom one shall be Chairman.

Censorship of Publications Board, Censorship of Publications Appeal Board

Members are appointed to either Board by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform under the provisions of sections 2 and 3 of the Censorship of Publications Act 1946.

Commission for the Support of Victims of Crime

Non-statutory body.

Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal

Non-statutory body.

Legal Aid Board

The Chairperson and other members of the Board are appointed by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform in accordance with the provisions of section 4 of the Civil Legal Aid Act, 1995.

National Property Services Regulatory Authority Implementation Group

Non-statutory body.

Property Registration Authority

The Chairperson and other members of the Authority are appointed by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform in accordance with the provisions of section 11 of the Registration of Deeds and Title Act, 2006.

Garda Communications.

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

84 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason Email contact other than with senior officers is not generally available within An Garda Síochána; and when a national roll out to all Garda stations will be completed. [38416/06]

I am advised by the Garda authorities that the Garda Síochána Information and Communications Technology (ICT) strategy, identifies the requirement for an enterprise-wide email system within An Garda Síochána. The rollout, which is currently ongoing, provides facilities to all Gardaí from Superintendent rank and above. Access is also provided to other individual members of An Garda Síochána based on operational needs.

The ICT strategy identifies a range of projects and systems,overall implementation of which will depend on a number of factors including overall priorities agreed by the Garda Authorities.

Garda Recruitment.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

85 Mr. Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the intake to date into the Garda Reserve; and the intake expected by the end of 2006. [38418/06]

A total of 7,174 applications for the Garda Reserve had been received nationally up to 14th November 2006. On 30 September 2006 37 trainees began phase one training in the Garda College in Templemore. They are currently in phase four of their training and will complete their training in mid-December.

Interviews are taking place this month for applicants from counties Limerick, Kerry, Galway, Clare, Sligo and Dublin. Successful candidates will commence training in January. The Public Appointments Service will be contacting applicants from other counties in the near future to arrange interviews.

Garda Strength.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

86 Mr. Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of members of the Garda Traffic Corps at end December 2005 and the number at end of September 2006; and a forecast for end of December 2006. [38419/06]

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 induction of 280 new Garda recruits to the Garda College on 6 November, 2006 has resulted in a combined strength, of both attested Gardaí and recruits in training, of 14,137. 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 by the Garda authorities that the personnel strength of the Garda Traffic Corps as at 31 December, 2005 was 570. The personnel strength of the Garda Traffic Corps as at 30 September, 2006 was 714. This represents an increase of 144 (or 25%) in the number of personnel allocated since that date.

Between now and 2008, it is planned to increase the strength of the Traffic Corps to a complement of 1,200 on the following phased basis:

Year

Strength

2006

805

2007

1,030

2008

1,200

I should add that 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.

Garda Equipment.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

87 Mr. Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of specially adapted high visibility and high powered vehicles in operation in December 2005, March 2006 and September 2006; and the expected number in operation by year ending 2006. [38420/06]

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 induction of 280 new Garda recruits to the Garda College on 6 November, 2006 has resulted in a combined strength, of both attested Gardaí and recruits in training, of 14,137. 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 by the Garda authorities that the number of High Visibility Specially Adapted Vehicles is as set out in the following table:

Date

No. of Vehicles

December 2005

170

March 2006

184

September 2006

184

Projected end of year

200

Garda Deployment.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

88 Mr. Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of Gardaí that have been freed up from full time desk duty for frontline Garda duties. [38421/06]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities that there are currently over 1,900 civilian staff working in An Garda Síochána.

Very significant developments have taken place in the area of civilianisation recently and I will now outline the key aspects. The Garda Information Service Centre (GISC) in Castlebar is now fully operational, with some 160 civilian staff now employed there. The GISC allows Gardaí who would otherwise have to return to their Stations to input data on the PULSE system, to log the information with the GISC, while remaining on the beat. This major initiative has freed up significant amounts of Garda time for continued operational duty. The Garda authorities are already considering what other tasks could be devolved to the GISC which would release additional Garda resources to front-line policing.

On 16 October, 2006, I made an Order to give effect to the transfer of civilian staff to the direct control of the Garda Commissioner, a reform provided for in the Garda Síochána Act 2005. This followed the conclusion of discussions with staff interests. As part of the agreement with the staff side on the transfer of staff, sanction has been granted by the Minister for Finance for an additional 76 civilian clerical and administrative posts to be located around the country on a regional and divisional basis. Recruitment to these posts will be progressed as quickly as possible.

A new Human Resources Division for civilian staff in An Garda Síochána has now been established. When fully operational, the Division will have a staffing complement of 37 civilians who will carry out recruitment, training, discipline, industrial relations and general HR administrative functions for the 1,900 clerical, administrative, professional, technical and industrial civilians now working with An Garda Síochána. The Division will also play a key strategic role in driving forward the wider Civilianisation Programme. The Director and a number of staff have commenced duty, and recruitment of the remaining staff is underway.

Under the Garda Síochána Act, the Commissioner became the Accounting Officer for An Garda Síochána in July this year. This transfer of responsibility is being supported by the recruitment of nine (9) civilian Finance & Procurement staff.

My Department has also received sanction from my colleague the Minister for Finance to civilianise 31 posts in the Garda Telecommunications area. These positions, most of which were previously occupied by Gardaí, will be advertised shortly. Progress is also being made on recruitment to a range of new civilian posts, including:

28 staff (statisticians, analysts and administrative staff) for the Professional Standards Unit;

10 internal audit posts;

14 additional teaching/training posts in the Garda College, Templemore; and

29 crime analysts.

As the Deputy can see, considerable progress is now being made in driving the Civilianisation Programme forward to ensure that the Gardaí being recruited in the current historic expansion of the Force are deployed to front-line policing duties, and that appropriately trained and qualified civilians make the greatest contribution possible consistent with the effective and efficient functioning of An Garda Síochána. I am confident that the progress now being made on civilianisation will deliver on both fronts.

Crime Prevention.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

89 Mr. Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of youth diversion programmes in operation to date; the number expected to be in operation by end of 2006; and the number in operation in the Limerick city and Dublin city area. [38422/06]

Garda Youth Diversion Projects are community based, multi-agency crime prevention initiatives which seek to divert young people from becoming involved (or further involved) in anti-social and/or criminal behaviour by providing suitable activities to facilitate personal development and promote civic responsibility. The Garda Youth Diversion Projects are funded by my Department and administered through Garda Community Relations Section of An Garda Síochána.

The allocation of funding for the 74 Garda Youth Diversion Projects (along with 7 Local Drug Task Force Projects) in 2006 is just over €6.6 million, which is an increase of €1.2 million on 2005.

It is my intention to ensure that 100 schemes will be established nationwide before the end of 2007. As part of this expansion, ten new projects were established this year and they are located in Blanchardstown, Birr, Carlow, Castlebar, Cavan, Clondalkin, Limerick, Tallaght and Tralee (two projects). I expect to announce a further ten projects in the near future.

There are currently four Garda Youth Diversion Projects based in Limerick city and 25 Garda Youth Diversion Projects and two Local Drugs Task Force Projects based in Dublin city.

Closed Circuit Television Systems.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

90 Mr. Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of groups that have received grants for closed circuit television proposals to date; and the expected number for year ending 2006. [38423/06]

As the Deputy may be aware I launched the Community Based CCTV Scheme on 15 June 2005 in response to the demonstrated demand from local communities across Ireland for the provision of CCTV systems. This Scheme is designed to provide financial assistance to qualifying local organisations towards meeting the capital costs associated with the establishment of local community CCTV systems. The Scheme is being administered by Pobal on behalf of my Department.

Under this Scheme, communities could apply for grant aid funding of up to €100,000 from the Department to install a CCTV system in their area. In addition, the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs gave a commitment to provide successful applicants from RAPID areas with a further grant to a maximum of €100,000 subject to the total grant aid from both Departments not exceeding €200,000 or 100% of the capital costs of the project, whichever is the lesser.

The Community Based CCTV Scheme offered two Stages or options that were designed to meet the requirements of communities in both of these situations. Stage 1 offered pre-development supports and possible funding of up to €5,000 for organisations/groups who were not yet ready to develop their proposals fully. The Stage 2 process offered a direct Application Process to those organisations who could demonstrate an ability to develop and deliver a CCTV Programme immediately.

I am pleased to say that, following a detailed evaluation process, a total of 37 groups were selected to receive grant aid under the Scheme. 24 groups were selected to receive Stage 1 grants of up to €5,000 each and I understand from Pobal that all of these grants were paid by end April 2006. 13 groups were selected to receive Stage 2 grants. Section 38(3)(c) of the Garda Síochána Act, 2005, requires that each of these groups receive authorisation from the Garda Commissioner, following consultation with the Joint Policing Committee for that administrative area. I am informed by the Garda authorities that, as of 16 November 2006, one group has received authorisation from the Garda Commissioner and accordingly received the initial payment of their approved grant. A further 5 groups have submitted their applications for authorisation to the Garda authorities and these are currently being processed. I am advised by Pobal that the remaining 7 groups are currently compiling their applications for authorisation and these will be forwarded to the Garda authorities in due course.

Garda Stations.

Pádraic McCormack

Ceist:

91 Mr. McCormack asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if a decision has been made on the location of a site for the proposed new Garda barracks in Galway City; if not, when a decision will be made on same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38445/06]

The Office of Public Works has presented a business case setting out a number of options for the provision of Garda Accommodation in Galway City. The Garda Authorities are currently examining these proposals and I understand a decision is imminent in this regard.

Citizenship Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

92 Mr. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress to date in the application for naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38446/06]

I refer the Deputy to my response to Parliamentary Question No. 442 of 16 May 2006.

Officials in the Citizenship Section of my Department had written to the person in question on 21 October 2005 and again on 4 March 2006 requesting further documentation in connection with her application for naturalisation. No reply has been received to those letters to date and on 2 November 2006, my officials wrote a final letter to the person concerned advising that if no reply is received within 21 days her file will be put away pending a response. No further communication will issue to the person in question in relation to this matter.

My officials have observed that the address provided in the details to this question differs from those provided to Citizenship section by the person concerned. I should point out that if the person in question has changed address since lodging her application for naturalisation, the onus is on her to keep the Department informed of any such change of address.

Asylum Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

93 Mr. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the status of the application for family reunification in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 22; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38447/06]

The person in question made a Family Reunification application on behalf of his wife in November 2005. He then made a further application for his two daughters in February 2006.

The applications were forwarded to the Refugee Applications Commissioner for investigation as required under Section 18 of the Refugee Act 1996. These investigations have now been completed and the Commissioner has forwarded a report to my Department.

Applications of this type are dealt with in chronological order. The applications will be considered by my Department and a decision will issue in due course.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

94 Mr. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the procedure to be followed to restore a green card in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38448/06]

The person concerned arrived in the State on 14 March, 2003 and was given permission to remain until 12 March, 2004. He has remained in the State, without permission, since this date.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999, as amended, he was informed by letter dated 10 November, 2006, that the Minister proposed to make a deportation order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State; leaving the State before an order is made or consenting to the making of a deportation order.

This person's case file, including all representations submitted, will be considered under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act, 1999, as amended, and Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996 (Prohibition of Refoulement). I expect the file to be passed to me for decision in due course.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

95 Mr. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform further to previous parliamentary questions in the case of persons (details supplied) in County Dublin, if he has satisfied himself that ORAC and RAT fully examined all of the evidence put forward by the applicants; his views on the strength and compelling nature of the submissions; if the information was dismissed as unbelievable; if so, the grounds on which it was dismissed; if, in view of the circumstances a case exists for a re-examination of the file with a view to granting extension of residency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38449/06]

I would refer the Deputy to my Reply to his Dáil Question No. 61 of 15 June 2006. The status of the persons concerned remains as set out in that Reply.

Damien English

Ceist:

96 Mr. English asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason for the delay in a family reunification application by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38462/06]

The person in question made a Family Reunification application in respect of his wife in January 2004. This application was refused in August 2005.

A request for a review and additional documentation was submitted to this office in September 2006. Following a complete review of the case, this application has recently been approved and the person in question has been notified of this decision.

Garda Vetting Unit.

Damien English

Ceist:

97 Mr. English asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if an application by a special needs assistant (details supplied) has been decided on by the Garda Vetting Unit; if not, when it will be decided on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38463/06]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that an application for vetting in respect of the person in question was received by the Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU) from the Health Service Executive (HSE) on 2 October, 2006. However, the application was returned for clarification, as some of the details provided were illegible.

I am further informed that the application was again received by the GCVU on 13 November, 2006. It will now be processed and returned to the HSE, which has sole responsibility for recruitment decisions in respect of any prospective employee.

Departmental Staff.

Olwyn Enright

Ceist:

98 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Finance the number of Irish speaking civil servants who have received credits for their ability to communicate as Gaeilge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38270/06]

It has been clarified with the Deputy that the question being asked is the number of Irish speaking civil servants who have received allowances for their ability to communicate as Gaeilge. There are no allowances in the Civil Service for officers who are able to communicate through Irish. My view is that there is no basis or need for the payment of such an allowance.

Decentralisation Programme.

Brian O'Shea

Ceist:

99 Mr. O’Shea asked the Minister for Finance the progress made in the discussions between his Department and the IMPACT trade union in relation to progressing outstanding issues regarding the decentralisation of professional and technical staff across the civil service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38280/06]

As the Deputy will be aware, there are structures in place, through General Council and the Sub-group of General Council on Decentralisation, to progress discussions in relation to the decentralisation of professional and technical posts across the civil service.

Particular issues remain to be resolved in relation to the decentralisation of professional and technical posts. Papers setting out options in relation to staff remaining in Dublin and promotions arrangements have been tabled with the unions representing professional & technical personnel. I remain confident that these matters can be addressed with the active co-operation of all parties involved in the implementation effort.

Tax Code.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

100 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Finance the reasons a company (details supplied) in County Kildare must supply audited accounts to the Revenue Commissioners in view of the fact that the company has charitable status and are a community based group whose constitution status is that it is a non- profit making organisation and the workings of the company is solely to do with improvement of facilities in the area for their local community; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38281/06]

The Revenue Commissioners advise me that they have not sought audited accounts from this charity. I am further advised that the Revenue Commissioners have detailed procedures in place towards ensuring that bodies which have been granted charitable tax exemption are complying with the terms of their exemption and applying their funds for charitable purposes only. Under these procedures, all tax exempt charities are required to maintain proper books of accounts and audited accounts are required where the income of the charity exceeds €100,000 per annum.

Full details relating to the application and monitoring procedures for charities are set out in information booklet CHY1, Applying for Relief from Tax on the Income and Property of Charities, which can be found on the Revenue website at www.revenue.ie.

James Breen

Ceist:

101 Mr. J. Breen asked the Minister for Finance if, farmers who purchased suckler cow quotas under the CAP premium system up to 2004 and who now find that these quotas are worthless due to reforms of the common agricultural policy which abolished those quotas, will be allowed to offset the purchase of the suckler cow quotas against their income tax liability; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38308/06]

This matter was given detailed consideration in the context of the 2005 Finance Bill and for the following reasons it was decided that there was no case for the introduction of tax relief for the purchase costs of suckler cow quota.

(a) Under the new Single Payment Scheme farmers have been credited with the average number of animals on which premium was paid under the Suckler Cow Premium Scheme over the three reference years 2000, 2001 and 2002.

(b) Farmers who purchased suckler cow quota since 1993 and up to and including the 2000 scheme years have received the full benefit of this quota in their Single Farm payment if they used their quota during the three reference years. There are also adequate provisions under the National Reserve to cater for farmers who purchased quota from January 2001 up until the date of the announcement of full decoupling on 19 October 2003.

(c) Farmers who purchased suckler cow quota after 19 October 2003 for the 2004 scheme year should have been aware of the changes to the CAP and the introduction of the Single Payment and the consequent abolition of quota.

Appointments to State Boards.

Dan Boyle

Ceist:

102 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Finance the statutory processes involved in the appointment of chairs and members of non-Departmental public bodies under the remit of his Department and their legislative origin. [38342/06]

The following table sets out the statutory processes involved in the appointment of chairs and members of non-Departmental public bodies under the remit of my Department and their legislative origin.

Name of Body

Statutory process by which the Chairman is appointed

Statutory Process by which the Members are appointed

Legislative basis governing the appointments

Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland (CBFSAI)

The Governor of the Central Bank is the Chairperson of the Board. Under Section 19 (1) of the Central Bank Act 1942, the Governor is appointed by the President on the advice of the Government.

Under Section 18B of the Central Bank Act, 1942, as inserted by Section 13 of the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland Act 2003 the Minister for Finance appoints seven directors to the Board four of whom are members of the Regulatory Authority. The Governor and four other Directors serve on an ex-officio basis.

Central Bank Act 1942 and Central Bank and Financial Services Act 2003

Credit Union Advisory Committee

The Chairperson is appointed by the Minister for Finance in accordance with Section 180(6) of the Credit Union Act, 1997.

The Members are appointed by the Minister for Finance in accordance with Section 180(3) of the Credit Union Act, 1997.

Credit Union Act, 1997

Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority

The Minister for Finance appoints one of the members of the Authority other than the Chief Executive or the Consumer Director to be Chairperson of the RegulatoryAuthority in accordance with section 33I of the Central Bank Act 1942 (as amended)

In accordance with Section 33E of the Central Bank Act 1942 (as amended), the Authority members are appointed by the Minister for Finance after consulting the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment, with one member being the Chief Executive and another the Consumer Director of the Authority.

Central Bank Act 1942 (as amended)

Financial Services Ombudsman Council

In accordance with section 57BC of the Central Bank Act 1942 (as amended), the Minister appoints a Chairperson from among the members of the Council.

In accordance with Section 57BC of the Central Bank Act 1942 (as amended), the Council members are appointed by the Minister for Finance after consulting the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

Central Bank Act 1942 (as amended)

Financial Services ConsultativeIndustry Panel

In accordance with Section 57DA of the Central Bank Act 1942 (as amended), the Minister appoints one of the Panel members to be Chairperson of the Panel.

In accordance with Section 57DA of the Central Bank Act 1942 (as amended), the Panel members are appointed by the Minister for Finance, after consulting the Taoiseach, the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment and organisations representing the interests of financial service providers

Central Bank Act 1942 (as amended)

Name of Body

Statutory process by which the Chairman is appointed

Statutory Process by which the Members are appointed

Legislative basis governing the appointments

Financial Services Consultative Consumer Panel

In accordance with Section 57CX of the Central Bank Act 1942 (as amended), the Minister appoints one of the Panel members to be Chairperson of the Panel.

In accordance with Section 57CX of the Central Bank Act 1942 (as amended), the Panel members are appointed by the Minister for Finance, after consulting the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment and organisations representing the interests of consumers

Central Bank Act 1942 (as amended)

Financial Services Appeals Tribunal

In accordance with section 57D of the Central Bank Act 1942 (as amended), the President appoints the Chairperson on the nomination of the Government. Under section 57E a person is eligible to be appointed as Chairperson only if the person is (a) a former judge of the High Court or Supreme Court (b) a barrister or solicitor of not less than 7 years standing.

In accordance with sections 57D and 57E of the Central Bank Act 1942 (as amended), the President appoints members to the Tribunal on the nomination of the Government.

Central Bank Act 1942 (as amended)

State Claims Agency Policy Committee

Appointment made by the Minister for Finance under Section 12(2) subject to the requirements of Section 12(4) of the Act.

Appointments made by the Minister for Finance under Section 12(2) subject to the requirements of Section 12(4) of the Act.

National Treasury Management Agency (Amendment) Act 2000.

Ordnance Survey Ireland

Appointment made by the Minister for Finance in accordance with section 11 of the Ordnance Survey Ireland Act 2001

Appointment made by the Minister for Finance in accordance with section 11 of the Ordnance Survey Ireland Act 2001

Ordnance Survey Ireland Act 2001

Board of the Public Appointments Service

The Minister for Finance appoints the Chairperson under section 36(2) of the Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments Act) 2004, having consulted with the Minister for the Environment, Heritage & Local Government, the Minister for Health and Children and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

The Minister for Finance appoints the seven ordinary members of the board under section 36(2) of the Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments Act) 2004, having consulted with the Minister for the Environment, Heritage & Local Government, the Minister for Health and Children and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform.The legislation specifies that CEO of the PAS be a member of the Board.

Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments Act) 2004.

Name of Body

Statutory process by which the Chairman is appointed

Statutory Process by which the Members are appointed

Legislative basis governing the appointments

National Treasury Management Agency Advisory Committee

The Chairperson of the Committee is appointed by the Minister under Part 1 of Schedule 2 of the National Treasury Management Agency Act 1990.

The members of the Advisory Committee are appointed by the Minister for Finance under Part 1 of Schedule 2 of the National Treasury Management Agency Act 1990.

National Treasury Management Agency Act 1990.

National Pensions Reserve fund Commission

The Chairperson of the Commission is appointed by the Minister from among the members of the Commission (other than the Chief Executive of the organisation managing the fund.) under section 7(6) of the National Pensions Reserve Fund Act 2000.

Appointments to the Commission are made by the Minister for Finance under section 7(3) of the National Pensions Reserve Fund Act 2000. The Chief Executive of theManager of the National Pensions Reserve Fund is automatically a member of the Commission under section 7(7) of the Act (the National Treasury Management Agency was appointed the Manager of the Fund under section 21(2) of the Act for ten years from the date the Commission was established).

National Pensions Reserve Fund Act 2000.

National Development Finance Agency (NDFA)

Under section 12(3) of National Development Finance Act 2002, the Chief Executive Officer of the National Treasury Management Agency is ex officio Chairperson of NDFA

Appointed by the Minister for Finance under Section 12 of theNational Development Finance Act 2002

National Development Finance Act 2002

An Post National Lottery Company

The Chairperson is appointed by the Minister for Finance under Section 14 of the National Lottery Act, 1986

Six directors are appointed by the Minister for Finance under Section 14 of the National Lottery Act, 1986 (As the majority shareholder in An Post National Lottery Company, An Post is entitled to nominate four directors, including the chairman for appointment. The other members are nominated by the Minister of Finance.)

Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal

Appointed by the Minister for Finance on the nomination of the Minister for Health and Children under the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations, 1994

Appointed by the Minister for Finance on the nomination of the Minister for Health and Children under the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations, 1994

Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Regulations, 1994

Valuation Tribunal

The Chairperson is appointed by the Minister for Finance under Section 12 and Schedule 2 of the Valuation Act, 2001.

The Members are appointed from time to time as occasion requires by the Minister for Finance as provided for in Section 12 and Schedule 2 of the Valuation Act, 2001.

Valuation Act, 2001.

Tax Code.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

103 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Finance if the tax affairs of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare are in order; if the person is due a tax rebate, in view of the fact that the person is being taxed as a single person and is now married; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38461/06]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the person concerned has been contacted and advised of the information necessary to establish whether a tax refund may be due to her for the year 2006. The person has also been provided with information to assist her and her spouse with regard to the methods of taxation available to them as a married couple for the year 2007 onwards.

Child Care Services.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

104 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of child care places provided by year end of 2004, 2005 and to date in 2006, for the equivalent period in 2005 and a forecast for year ending 2006; and the number of these in RAPID and CLÁR designated areas for the same periods. [38417/06]

As the Deputy will appreciate child care is a very diverse and complex sector of the economy encompassing a range of services including sessional services such as playgroups, Naíonraí, Montessori Schools and Steiner Kindergartens; full day care services in nurseries and crèches; childminding and services for children of school going age outside of usual school hours and during school holidays. In this regard information is not readily available in the format requested by the Deputy.

However, comprehensive statistics are available on the activities of services supported under the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme 2000-2006. This Programme has been a central pillar of the Government's Childcare Strategy over the period and has contributed to the steady expansion of services for parents engaged in education, training or employment. The following table sets out the total number of places in services supported under the Programme, the total number of new places created under the Programme and the new places created in services in RAPID/CLÁR designated areas.

Total No. Places in Services Supported Under the Programme

New Places Created in Services Supported Under the Programme

New Places Created in Services Supported under the Programme in RAPID/ CLÁR Areas

No. Places

No. Places

No. Places

To end December 2004

46,514

24,636

7,676

To end June 2005

49,211

26,072

8,339

To end December 2005

52,960

29,215

8,768

To end June 2006

56,387

31,750

9,552

Health Services.

Seán Ardagh

Ceist:

105 Mr. Ardagh asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ask St. Michael’s Hospital, Dún Laoghaire and St. James’s Hospital to liaise with each other to enable a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12 to be admitted to a nursing home. [38248/06]

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, the 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.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

106 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide more respite for persons (details supplied) in Dublin 4; if she will to support the persons on this matter. [38271/06]

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.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

107 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ensure that a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5 with a disability receives proper and adequate speech and language services and occupational therapy; if she will put in place a long-term care plan; and if she will work with the family on this issue. [38272/06]

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.

Liz McManus

Ceist:

108 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on the lack of speech therapy services in general; her further views on the fact that a child with Down’s syndrome has been told that it will be a year before they will receive access to a speech therapist either through the Health Service Executive and privately; the steps she will take to tackle this situation in view of the importance of speech therapy to children with Down’s syndrome. [38301/06]

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.

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

109 Ms C. Murphy asked the Minister for Health and Children the adjustments that have taken place in health sector employment levels each year since 2002; the number of clinical and non-clinical posts involved in these adjustments; the locations where new posts were created; the policy measures which instigated an increase in employment levels in those years; if the 2002 Census of Population was a factor in determining need for increased employment numbers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38327/06]

Approved employment levels for the health service have been adjusted since 2002 in line with Government policy on public sector employment and also to take account of specific policy measures aimed at increasing service levels. It is a matter for the Health Service Executive, as part of its management of its employment ceiling, to determine the appropriate staffing mix required to deliver its service plan priorities.

The Health Service Executive is the appropriate body to consider the matter raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Eating Disorders.

Dan Boyle

Ceist:

110 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Health and Children the policy of her Department on providing health care and support services to sufferers of eating disorders; and the eating disorders services offered to children and adolescents in the Cork and Kerry area. [38328/06]

Dan Boyle

Ceist:

111 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Health and Children the eating disorders services offered to adults in the Cork and Kerry area. [38329/06]

Dan Boyle

Ceist:

112 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Health and Children if a policy is being pursued and resources are provided by her Department to allow family therapy services to be made available to sufferers of eating disorders. [38330/06]

Dan Boyle

Ceist:

113 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Health and Children if it is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive south east to pay for people from the Cork and Kerry area to avail of private care, that is, psychotherapy or a bed on a private eating disorders programme in St. Patrick’s Hospital, Dublin or St. John of God Hospital, Stillorgan; the extent to which such expenditure occurs; and the way persons can apply for this funding. [38331/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 110 to 113, inclusive, together.

The future direction and delivery of all aspects of our mental health services, including services for persons with eating disorders, were considered by the expert group on mental health policy. The group's report entitled "A Vision for Change" was published in January 2006. The report has been accepted by Government as the basis for the development of a modern, high quality mental health service over the next 7 to 10 years.

"A Vision for Change" acknowledges gaps in the current provision of mental health services for persons with eating disorders and makes several recommendations for the further improvement of these services. Recommendations include support for health promotion initiatives that encourage greater community and family awareness of eating disorders, the further development of primary and community care service and the provision of a full multidisciplinary team in a national centre for eating disorders for complex cases that cannot be managed by local child and adolescent community mental health teams.

The Health Service Executive has established an implementation group to plan and manage the full implementation of "A Vision for Change". An independent monitoring group has also been established to monitor progress in implementing the report's recommendations and will report to me on an annual basis.

Overall responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services was assigned to the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004 and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall vote. Therefore, the executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular questions raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Appointments to State Boards.

Dan Boyle

Ceist:

114 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Health and Children the statutory processes involved in the appointment of chairs and members of non-departmental public bodies under the remit of her Department and their legislative origin. [38344/06]

The statutory processes involved in the appointment of chairs and members to the boards of bodies under the aegis of my Department are governed on an individual basis by the relevant establishing legislation for the body concerned. A document detailing the legislative provisions for the appointment of chairs and members to the boards of all such bodies is being prepared and will be forwarded to the deputy when complete.

Health Service Staff.

Dinny McGinley

Ceist:

115 Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Health and Children when the agreed pay rise to health care chaplains will be awarded; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38355/06]

More than 120,000 people work full-time or part-time in our public health services. In recent years, the Government's ongoing high level of investment in health has achieved and maintained significant increases in the numbers of doctors, nurses and other health care professionals employed in the public health services. The Government has also invested heavily in the education and training of such personnel in order to secure a good supply of graduates to provide for the health care needs of the population into the future.

The Health Service Executive is the appropriate body to consider the matter raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Medical Cards.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

116 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of medical cards issued since April 2005, distinguishing between full medical cards and general practitioner only cards; the number issued to date in 2006; and a forecast for year ending 2006. [38413/06]

In April 2005, 1,145,331 people held a medical card. Information provided to my Department by the Health Service Executive, HSE, indicates that as of 1 November 2006 there were 1,216,344 people with medical cards, which is 70,013 higher than the April 2005 figure. On the same date a further 42,026 people held GP visit cards. The HSE has indicated that it estimates that by the end of 2006 there will be approximately 1,220,000 people with medical cards and approximately 50,000 people with GP visit cards.

Health Services.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

117 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children when Coovagh House, County Limerick will be re-opened; and the reason for the continued delay in re-opening it. [38454/06]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which statutorily are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, the 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.

Appointments to State Boards.

Dan Boyle

Ceist:

118 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the statutory processes involved in the appointment of chairs and members of non-departmental public bodies under the remit of his Department and their legislative origin. [38336/06]

In the time available, it has not been possible to identify and assemble the information requested. My Department is compiling the data sought and I will revert to the Deputy when I am in a position to issue a final reply.

Communications Infrastructure.

James Breen

Ceist:

119 Mr. J. Breen asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if the recommendations of the All-Party Committee on Mobile Phone Masts and their proximity to residential areas and facilities will be implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38354/06]

Legislation or regulation in relation to planning issues is a matter for the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government in the first instance. The Interdepartmental Committee on the Health Effects of Electromagnetic Fields, set up in September 2005, is at an advanced stage in its consideration of the policy issues regarding potential health effects, if any, and is taking due consideration of the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Communications, Marine and Natural Resources.

An expert group of independent national and international scientific and medical experts, commissioned by the interdepartmental committee, is currently finalising its report and will shortly submit it to the interdepartmental committee. That committee will then quickly finalise its recommendations and report to the Government.

Telecommunications Services.

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

120 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the towns and village in Cork south west which presently have access to wired broadband. [38406/06]

The provision of telecommunications services, including wired broadband, is a matter in the first instance for the private sector companies operating in a fully liberalised market, regulated by the independent Commission for Communications Regulation, ComReg. The role of Government is to implement regulatory and infrastructure policies to support the private sector developing a competitive, affordable, and innovative market that offers choice of products and providers to Irish consumers and businesses.

However, it has been clear for some time that the sector has failed to invest at the level necessary to keep pace with the demand for broadband. My Department's regional broadband programme is addressing the infrastructure deficit by building high-speed open access broadband networks, in association with the local and regional authorities, in the major towns and cities. These Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs) will allow the private sector to offer world-class broadband services at competitive costs. The networks offer towns opportunities to attract inward investment in advanced technology and knowledge based enterprises.

Twenty-seven MANs have been completed under the first phase and are currently being managed by ENet, the Management Services Entity. The second phase extends the programme to over 90 towns with a population of 1,500 and above that do not have a satisfactory broadband offering from the private sector.

The Department also offered funding assistance for smaller towns and rural communities through the Group Broadband Scheme. The scheme is technology-neutral, allowing the community to select the most suitable broadband delivery platform for the area. To date, over 160 projects have been approved for funding under this Programme. The most recent call for proposals has now closed and the question of a further round of financial assistance is under consideration.

The following projects were approved under the group broadband scheme for the Cork south west area and these are now operational.

Castletownbere

Carrigadrohid

Glengarriff, Bantry, Schull and Ballydehob

Mount Gabriel

Castletown, Bengour and Greenville

Ardfield and Rossmore

Castletownshend.

There are a number of platforms for delivery of broadband, my Department operates a dedicated website, www.broadband.gov.ie, where potential broadband customers can ascertain the availability of services in their area.

Decentralisation Programme.

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

121 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources if, in relation to decentralisation to Clonakilty and the decision to relocate 13 higher executive officer posts to Clonakilty, all such posts have been filled; if it is possible to accommodate HEOs who wish to job share; and if such possibilities exist at the moment. [38407/06]

A total of 14 full-time equivalent higher executive officer posts were advertised on the central applications facility, CAF, to decentralise to Clonakilty. To date, 12 first place priority CAF applicants have accepted decentralisation offers from my Department to relocate to Clonakilty. The remaining posts will be filled by full-time or work-sharing decentralisation applicants in accordance with the CAF rules.

Appointments to State Boards.

Dan Boyle

Ceist:

122 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the statutory processes involved in the appointment of chairs and members of non-departmental public bodies under the remit of his Department and their legislative origin. [38343/06]

There are four bodies of this type under the aegis of my Department, only one of which was established by statute. The Fulbright Commission was established under the Educational Exchange (Ireland and the United States of America) Act 1991. The role and function of the Fulbright Commission is to finance study, research, teaching and other educational activities between Ireland and the United States of America.

Section 3 of the Act sets out the statutory process for the appointment of members to the board. The Board of the Commission comprises eight members: four members from Ireland and four from the US, appointed respectively by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the US Ambassador to Ireland. Members serve for a two year term and are eligible for re-appointment for not more than three further consecutive terms.

Three other bodies under the remit of my Department have been established to provide advice on specific issues. The Díon Committee was established in 1984 and is based in the Embassy of Ireland in London. The committee's function is to advise the Minister for Foreign Affairs on applications for funding from organisations that support our emigrants in Britain, as well as on issues of interest and concern to the Irish community.

The Advisory Board for Irish Aid was established in August 2002 following a recommendation in the Report of the Ireland Aid Review Committee, published in February 2002. The board works closely with the Government's Official Development Assistance programme, Irish Aid, in order to maximise the quality, effectiveness and accountability of the programme.

The Development Education Advisory Committee, DEAC, was established in 2003, also on the recommendation of the Ireland Aid Review Committee. The function of the committee is to offer policy advice to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and to the responsible Minister of State on development education and on ways of increasing knowledge and understanding of development issues in Ireland.

Arts Funding.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

123 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the amount of moneys from his Department or from agencies under the control of his Department which are made available to local community based art groups to promote wider participation in the arts; the priority within budgets being given to measures to promote community participation compared to moneys to promote elite performance; and if he will make a statement on the potential for new policy instruments to support community participation. [38255/06]

The main vehicle for capital funding through my Department is the Arts & Culture Capital Enhancement Support Scheme, ACCESS. Under the first ACCESS scheme, introduced in 2001, €45.7 million was allocated for the development of 44 arts and cultural facilities around the country. The increase in the availability of facilities and the enhancement in their quality have greatly increased access to and participation in the arts for a great many people.

In July last I announced a new capital funding scheme — ACCESS II. This new scheme will provide grant aid towards the development of arts and culture infrastructure around the country over the years 2007-2009. The scheme is intended to provide a further impetus to the development of arts and culture facilities, thereby enhancing the quality of life for our citizens. Eligible facilities will include integrated arts centres, theatres and galleries, as well as arts studios and creative and performance spaces. While the intention is to prioritise the enhancement and maintenance of existing facilities, there will also be provision under the terms of the scheme to support new build projects. Applications for ACCESS II are being accepted until 17 November 2006.

The principal source of non-capital state funding for the arts is the Arts Council, which, although funded by my Department, is independent in its day-to-day operations.

National Archive.

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

124 Ms C. Murphy asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if the process of designing a brief has commenced in relation to a new purpose built National Archive; if a target date has been set for the delivery of such a new facility; the arrangements he will make in the interim for the overflow of material in the current national archive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38322/06]

The outline brief and schedule of requirements for a new building for the National Archives has been completed. It is too early to say when any new facility will be delivered. Some additional accommodation was made available for archival storage at Bishop Street in 2005. Other options for providing additional accommodation are at present under consideration.

Appointments to State Boards.

Dan Boyle

Ceist:

125 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the statutory processes involved in the appointment of chairs and members of non-departmental public bodies under the remit of his Department and their legislative origin. [38335/06]

The bodies under the remit of my Department are, in the main, statutory bodies or companies limited by guarantee. Appointments of their chairs and members are made in line with the provisions of the relevant legislation or Memorandums and Articles of Association under which they were established.

Details of all of these bodies are listed in my Department's Statement of Strategy 2005-2007 which is available on my Department's website. If there is any information in relation to the processes in specific cases which the Deputy wishes to obtain I would be happy to provide same.

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

126 Mr. J. O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his views on the fact that west Cork, which is one of the premier tourist areas in the country, is not represented on the board of Fáilte Ireland; and the steps he will take to remedy the situation. [38405/06]

The National Tourism Development Authority Act 2003 limits the membership of the authority to 13. In making appointments to the authority, my objective has been to ensure a broad representation of industry interests and business expertise and experience, rather than representation from particular geographical areas. I believe that this is the correct approach given the authority's wide-ranging, national remit and I am very pleased with the calibre of those who have been willing to accept such appointments.

Compulsory Retirement.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

127 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his attention has been drawn to the fact that some people are being forced to retire at 65 years of age at companies (details supplied) despite the fact that their immediate bosses and staff want them to remain; and the action he will take on the matter. [38321/06]

There is no compulsory retirement age in employment rights legislation. Generally such legislation describes an employee as "a person of any age who has entered into or works under (or, where the employment has ceased, entered into or worked under) a contract of employment". In some employments, a "normal retirement age" exists for that employment only. In such cases, the normal age of retirement tends to be approximately 65 years of age but can be above or below that, thus giving flexibility to employers and employees, having due regard to the nature of the work being performed.

The Employment Equality Acts 1998 and 2004, administered by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, protect against discrimination on the grounds of age, and on other grounds, in relation to access to employment. However, the Acts do permit an employer to decide on a retirement age in a particular employment without being in breach of the age-discrimination provisions of the above-mentioned equality legislation.

Terms and conditions of employment, including proposed changes to such terms and conditions, are determined in the main by a process of voluntary collective bargaining between the employers and employees or their representatives. The State facilitates the bargaining process by providing a framework and institutions through which good industrial relations can prosper. Institutions are in place that can assist in the resolution of disputes between employers and workers such as the Labour Relations Commission, including its Rights Commissioner Service, and the Labour Court.

Disputes that arise in relation to provisions in contracts of employment may concern matters of contract law. Advice on contract law, if required, should be obtained from a legal professional.

Appointments to State Boards.

Dan Boyle

Ceist:

128 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the statutory processes involved in the appointment of chairs and members of non-Departmental public bodies under the remit of his Department and their legislative origin. [38340/06]

The information requested by the Deputy, which is included in the following table, refers to Bodies or Agencies that come under my Department's remit and which are funded by my Department, but which are statutorily independent of the Department in the execution of their day-to-day functions.

I should also say that under Delegation of Ministerial Functions Orders, responsibility for making a number of the appointments, which fall to be made by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment have been delegated to my colleague Ministers of State in the Department. This delegation of functions does not, however, alter the modalities of how these appointments are made.

Name of Body/Office

Statutory process for appointing Chair

Statutory process for appointing the Members

Legislative origin

Competition Authority

The Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment appoints the Chair following a competition and selection process held under Sections 15 and 17 of the Civil Service Commissioners Act, 1956

The Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment appoints the Members, having being advised by the Civil Service Commissioners following a competition and selection process held under Sections 15 and 17 of the Civil Service Commissioners Act, 1956

Section 35 of the Competition Act, 2002

Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority (IAASA)

The Chair is nominated and appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment in accordance with Section 11(1) & (2) of the Companies (Auditing and Accounting) Act 2003.

The Board of Directors are appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment in accordance with Section 11(1) and (2) of the Companies (Auditing and Accounting) Act 2003. 1 Member is nominated and appointed by the Minister of Enterprise, Trade & Employment 3 Members are nominated jointly by agreement among the prescribed accountancy bodies9 Members are nominated by designated bodies as set out under Section 6(2) of the Act

Companies (Auditing and Accounting) Act 2003

Company Law Review Group

The Chair is appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment under Section 69(2) of the Company Law Enforcement Act 2001

The Members are appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment under Section 69(2) of the Company Law Enforcement Act 2001

Company Law Enforcement Act 2001

Forfás

The Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, appoints the Chair of the Board of Forfás under powers conferred by the Industrial Development Acts 1993-2003, Paragraphs 2 (6), (7), of the 1st Schedule.

The Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment appoints Members to the Board of Forfás, with the consent of the Minister of Finance under Paragraph 2(5), 1st Schedule, Industrial Development Acts 1993-2003. Under the Industrial Development Acts 1998-2003, the Chief Executive Officers of Forfás itself, Enterprise Ireland, the Industrial Development Authority and the Director-General of Science Foundation Ireland are automatically appointed to the board of Forfás as ex-officio Members. (Paragraph 2(3); 1st schedule, 1 (4); 2nd Schedule, Industrial Development Act (1993), and Paragraph 13(5) of the Industrial Development Act (Science Foundation Ireland) (2003)).

Industrial Development Acts 1993-2003.

Enterprise Ireland

The Chair is appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, under Section 9 (5) of the Industrial Development (Enterprise Ireland) Act, 1998.

The Board Members are appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, under Section 9 (4) of the Industrial Development (Enterprise Ireland) Act, 1998.

Industrial Development (Enterprise Ireland) Act, 1998.

IDA Ireland

The Chair is appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, under Section 2 (6) of the First Schedule of the Industrial Development Act 1993.

The Members are appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, under Section 2 (5) of the First Schedule of the Industrial Development Act 1993.

Industrial Development Act 1993.

Name of Body/Office

Statutory process for appointing Chair

Statutory process for appointing the Members

Legislative origin

Crafts Council of Ireland

The Crafts Council of Ireland was established by the Crafts Sector in 1973 and is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee without share capital. It is, therefore, not a statutory body and procedures regarding the appointment of board members are set out under its Memorandum and Articles of Association. By agreement with the Department and in recognition of the grant-in-aid it receives from the State via Enterprise Ireland, the Minister appoints the Chairperson and four other members to the fifteen-member Board. While the Minister and the Department do not have statutory powers with regard to the Council, funding is provided on the basis that the Council undertakes enterprise development functions for the Crafts sector in line with its strategy.

As outlined across, the Minister appoints the Chairperson and four other members to the fifteen-member Board.

While not a State Body established under statute, given that exchequer funding is made available via Enterprise Ireland to the Crafts Council of Ireland each year, in order to support the crafts industry, the Minister may appoint 5 members to the Board of Crafts Council of Ireland including the Chairperson under Section 37 (a)-(d) of the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the Crafts Council of Ireland Limited.

National Standards Authority Ireland

The Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment appoints the Chair under the provisions of the National Standards Authority of Ireland Act, 1996.

The Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment appoints the Members of the Authority under the provisions of the National Standards Authority of Ireland Act, 1996.

National Standards Authority of Ireland Act 1996.

Shannon Free Airport Development Company Limited

The legislation establishing the company does not provide any statutory process for the appointment of Chairs, but does provide that the company is subject to relevant Company Law. Appointments are made in accordance with the provisions of Articles 73 to 87 and 94 of the company’s Articles of Association. Essentially, this provides that the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment makes such appointments after consultation with the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism.

The legislation establishing the company does not provide any statutory process relating to the appointment of Board Members, but does provide that the company is subject to relevant Company Law as outlined across. Appointments are made in accordance with the provisions of Articles 73 to 87 and 94 of the company’s Articles of Association. Essentially, this provides that the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment makes such appointments after consultation with the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism.

Shannon Free Airport Development Company Limited Act, 1959.

Name of Body/Office

Statutory process for appointing Chair

Statutory process for appointing the Members

Legislative origin

InterTrade Ireland

The Chair of InterTradeIreland is appointed in accordance with the interim Ministerial decision-making procedures that currently apply in relation to the North/South Implementation Bodies and Tourism Ireland Limited. In accordance with these procedures the Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment, along with a Minister of the UK Government, is responsible for appointing the Chair of InterTradeIreland. The statutory process for appointing the Chair of the Board of InterTradeIreland is set out in the British–Irish Agreement Act 1999, as amended by the British-Irish Agreement (Amendment) Act, 2002.

The Members of the Board of InterTradeIreland are also appointed in accordance with the interim Ministerial decision-making procedures. In accordance with these procedures the Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment, along with a Minister of the UK Government, is responsible for appointing the Members of the Board of InterTradeIreland. The statutory process for appointing the Members of the Board of InterTradeIreland is set out in the British-Irish Agreement Act 1999, as amended by the British-Irish Agreement (Amendment) Act, 2002.

Arising from the Good Friday Agreement, 1998, the British-Irish Agreement Act, 1999, established six North/South Implementation Bodies including InterTradeIreland. The Board of InterTradeIreland ordinarily consists of twelve Members, six of whom are nominated by the South and six by the North. There are currently eleven Members on the Board of InterTradeIreland. As a result of the suspension of the Northern Ireland Assembly in October 2002, the North/South Ministerial Council cannot meet. As a consequence the British-Irish Agreements have been amended. The amendments provide that during the period of suspension of the North/South Ministerial Council, the British and Irish Governments take joint decisions, when appropriate, on matters relating to InterTrade Ireland and the other North/South Implementation Bodies.

Name of Body/Office

Statutory process for appointing Chair

Statutory process for appointing the Members

Legislative origin

County Enterprise Boards (CEBs)

The CEBs are established as companies in accordance with the Companies Acts. The appointment of Chairs of the CEBs is governed by the Memorandum and Articles of Association of each Board. At the First Meeting of the Board following each Annual General Meeting the Directors elect from amongst themselves a person, other than a Local Authority Representative, to be Chair of the Company and of the Board of Directors. In the absence of the Chair at any meeting of the Company or the Board, the Members present shall elect from amongst themselves a person to act as Chair of that meeting. Section 10 of the Industrial Development Act, 1995 granted the CEBs formal statutory recognition. Each CEB operates as a company limited by guarantee and has its individual Memorandum and Articles of Association, Manual of Accounting Procedures and an Operating Agreement with the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

The appointment of Board Members of the CEBs is also governed by the Memorandum and Articles of Association of each Board. The Membership of each Board consists of representatives from a number of categories — local authority elected representatives, Farmers’ organisation representatives, ICTU, IBEC/CIF, the State Development Agencies and persons involved in small business, community organizations or local economic development. Where a Member from one of the above categories ceases to be a Member of the Board, that Member shall be replaced by a new Member from the same category as the former Member. The Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment may at any time alter or vary the category of persons, bodies or organisations from whom persons are eligible for election as Members or nominated to the Board.

Industrial Development Act, 1998.

Science Foundation Ireland

Appointments to the Board of Science Foundation Ireland are governed by statute under the Industrial Development (Science Foundation Ireland) Act 2003 and are made on the basis of the relevant experience and skills of the individuals concerned. The issues of gender balance, industrial and higher education expertise are also taken into consideration. The Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment designates one Member of the Board as the Chair.

The Members of the Board are appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment, as outlined in column 2, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, following consultation with the Minister for Education and Science. The Minister for Education and Science nominates a person for appointment to the Board also.

Industrial Development (Science Foundation Ireland) Act 2003 Sections (1) to (7) – Board of Foundation

Name of Body/Office

Statutory process for appointing Chair

Statutory process for appointing the Members

Legislative origin

Health and Safety Authority

The Chair is appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment, after consultation with such organisations as the Minister considers to be representative of workers and of employers.

Section 37 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005, states that, of the ordinary Members of the Authority: 3 persons are nominated by such organisations representative of employees as the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment, considers appropriate, 3 persons are nominated by such organisations representative of employers as the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment, considers appropriate, 5 persons are nominated as the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment considers appropriate, which shall include one person from the Department under whose auspices the Authority operates.

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005

Labour Court

The Chair is appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment, under Section 10(3) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1946.Appointments as Deputy Chairmen by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment are provided for under Section 4(1) and 4(4) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969 and Section 8(3) of the industrial Relations Act, 1976.

Members are appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment upon nomination by ICTU (workers’ Member) and IBEC (employers’ Member) under either Section 10(4) or 10(5) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1946.

Industrial Relations Act, 1946; Industrial Relations Act, 1969; Industrial Relations Act, 1976.

Employment Appeals Tribunal

The Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment, appoints the chair under Section 39 of the Redundancy Payments Act, 1967, as amended.

The Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment, appoints the vice-chairmen and Members of the Employment Appeals Tribunal under section 39 of the Redundancy Payments Act, 1967, as amended. 36 of the Members are nominated by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the remaining 36 by various employer bodies for appointment by the Minister.

Redundancy Payments Act, 1967 as amended.

Labour Relations Committee

The Chair is appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment, after consultation with such organisations as the Minister considers to be representative of workers and of employers, under Paragraph 2 of the Fourth Schedule of the Industrial Relations Act 1990.

Paragraph 3 of the Fourth Schedule of the Industrial Relations Act 1990 states that, of the ordinary Members of the Commission— two shall be workers’ Members; two shall be employers’ Members two shall be nominated by the Minister.Paragraphs 4 and 5 of the Fourth Schedule of the 1990 Act provide that the employers’ and workers’ Members appointed shall be nominated by such organisations as the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment determines to be representative of employers and of trade unions of workers.

Industrial Relations Act, 1990.

Name of Body/Office

Statutory process for appointing Chair

Statutory process for appointing the Members

Legislative origin

FÁS

The Chair is appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment in accordance with the provisions of Part I of the Schedule to the Labour Services Act 1987.

The Members are appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment in accordance with the provisions of Part I of the Schedule to the Labour Services Act 1987. There are 16 ordinary Members: representatives from employer (4), trade union (4), education, social welfare and youth interests (3), two FÁS employee Members, a representative of the Minister for Finance and two representatives of the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment. The education and social welfare Members are selected after consultation with the Minister for Education and Science and the Minister for Social and Family Affairs, respectively. The FÁS employee Members are appointed following election by FAS staff.

Labour Services Act, 1987; SI 528 of 2005

Personal Injuries Assessment Board

The Chair is appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment, in accordance with the provisions of Section 58 of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003.

Members of the Board are appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment, in accordance with the provisions of Section 56 of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003.

Personal Injuries Assessment Board Act 2003.

Pension Provisions.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

129 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if he will instigate procedures urgently against employers that are closing off all existing pension schemes to new employees and introducing an inferior scheme; and if he will support the rights of these workers. [38269/06]

The provision of occupational pensions in Ireland is on a voluntary basis and depends on the willingness of employers to contribute to and maintain schemes for their employees. Traditionally, such schemes were organised on a defined benefit basis. However, in recent years defined benefit provision has been under pressure because of volatility in the stock markets and increasing liabilities arising from demographic pressures, low interest rates, increasing wage costs that translate into higher benefits and regulatory requirements. New accountancy standards, which make pensions liabilities transparent on a company's balance sheet, are also contributing to the pressures under which defined benefit schemes are now operating. A drift from defined benefit to defined contribution schemes is now apparent, even in cases where firms are very profitable. This is, in my view, a regrettable development. However, at this stage, further regulation would only serve to add to the pressures on defined benefit provision and could be counter productive.

As the House is aware, the Government has committed to producing a Green Paper on pensions as part of the social partnership agreement Towards 2016. The Green Paper will outline the major policy choices, the challenges in this area and the views of the social partners.

Also, as part of this agreement, the Pensions Board has been asked to research benefit design options in the occupational pensions area and to examine current design issues in both defined benefit and defined contribution arrangements, with a view to producing guidance as to designs which encompass the positive elements of each arrangement while adjusting the costs and risks to the parties involved.

It is my intention to produce the Green Paper by the end of March next year. A consultation process will follow this and the Government will respond to these consultations by developing a framework for comprehensively addressing the pensions agenda over the long-term.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

130 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if he will facilitate an exceptional needs payment for the purchase of heating oil in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38444/06]

The supplementary welfare allowance scheme is administered on behalf of the Department by the community welfare division of the Health Service Executive.

Under the terms of the supplementary welfare allowance scheme, a recipient of a social welfare or Health Service Executive payment who has exceptional heating costs due to ill health or infirmity can apply to their local community welfare officer for a special heating supplement. In addition, legislation also provides for a single payment — known as an exceptional needs payment — to be made to help meet essential, once-off exceptional expenditure.

The Dublin/ Mid Leinster Area of the Executive have advised that the person concerned has made no application for an exceptional needs payment or a heating supplement in 2006. The Executive has forwarded an application form and supporting information to the person concerned in order that she can make an application for assistance.

Pension Provisions.

Olwyn Enright

Ceist:

131 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if there are proposals to give people on a pro-rata contributory pension the same increases as recipients of the contributory pension; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38275/06]

In order to qualify for the maximum rate of the state pension (contributory) a person must, amongst other qualifying conditions, achieve a yearly average of at least 48 contributions paid or credited on his/her social insurance record. Reduced pensions are paid to those with yearly averages as low as 10 contributions and arrangements are also in place for the payment of pro-rata pensions to those with mixed rate insurance records or contributions from other EU member status or countries with which Ireland has a reciprocal agreement. The range of reduced payments has been expanded over the years to allow more people to qualify for a contributory pension.

Reduced rate or pro-rata pensions are paid as a percentage of the full rate payment and, in order to ensure that the relationship between the various rates is maintained, Budget increases are also applied on a pro-rata basis. Applying the full budgetary increase to those with reduced payments would erode the differentials which exist and which are intended to reflect broadly the level of contribution which a person has made to the social insurance fund.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

132 Ms Shortall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if credits can be backdated on the record of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 11 for the purposes of calculating State pension entitlement, for periods, prior to the introduction of carer’s allowance or benefit, when that person was forced to leave the workforce to care for an adult dependant; if, in these circumstances, the number of years counted in calculating pension entitlement can be reduced by the number of years spent caring for an adult dependant; if not his views on extending entitlement in this regard in the next Social Welfare Act in view of the discriminatory impact of the current provisions on carers and particularly women; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38312/06]

One of the qualifying conditions for state pension (contributory) requires a person to have a yearly average of 10 paid or credited contributions from 1953 or from the date of entry into insurance (whichever is the later) to the end of the last complete contribution year before reaching pension age. In order to qualify for the maximum rate a yearly average of 48 contributions is required.

The person concerned was awarded state pension (contributory) at 75% of the maximum rate, which is based on a yearly average of 16 contributions. According to my Department's records, she received carer's allowance from 1990 until July 1994 when the person being cared for died. Credits could not be awarded for the duration of the carer's allowance claim as more than 2 years had elapsed since the person concerned had last paid social insurance contributions. In line with the Government's commitment to ensuring that as many people as possible qualify for pensions in their own right, a number of measures have been introduced over the years which make it easier to qualify for contributory pensions. One of these is the reduction in the yearly average number of contributions required for pension purposes from 20 to 10 and the person concerned has benefited from this improvement.

The homemaker's scheme introduced by my Department in 1994 protects the social welfare pension rights of those who take time out of the workforce for caring duties. This scheme allows up to 20 years from 1994 onwards spent caring for children or incapacitated adults to be disregarded when a person's social insurance record is being averaged for pension purposes. The scheme will not of itself qualify a person for a pension as the standard qualifying conditions, which require a person to enter insurance 10 years before pension age, have a minimum of 260 paid contributions and achieve a yearly average of at least 10 contributions on their record from the time they enter insurance until they reach pension age must also be satisfied.

In general, changes to insurability of employment are not backdated and the same principle was applied to the homemaker's scheme in 1994. However, a review of the homemaker's scheme and other issues relating to social welfare pensions is taking place in the context of the forthcoming Green Paper on pensions, to which the Government is committed as part of the new social partnership agreement, Towards 2016. At this stage it is planned to publish the Green Paper by the end of March next year. A consultation process will then take place and the Government will publish a framework for future pensions policy later next year.

Appointments to State Boards.

Dan Boyle

Ceist:

133 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the statutory processes involved in the appointment of chairs and members of non-Departmental public bodies under the remit of his Department and their legislative origin. [38346/06]

The five statutory agencies operating under the aegis of my Department are the Pensions Board, the Combat Poverty Agency, Comhairle, the Family Support Agency and the Social Welfare Tribunal.

Pensions Board

The chairperson and members of the Pensions Board are appointed by way of Ministerial order in accordance with the provisions of Section 9(2) and the First Schedule of the Pensions Act 1990 (as amended). The First Schedule sets out the composition of the Board.

Combat Poverty Agency

The chairperson and members of the Combat Poverty Agency Board are appointed by me under Sections 6 and 7 of the Combat Poverty Agency Act, 1986. The Act does not provide for a nomination process.

Comhairle

Members of the Board of Comhairle are appointed by me under Section 9 of the Comhairle Act, 2000. The Act provides that the Board shall consist of 20 members and that the ordinary members of the Board shall include one officer of my Department, 5 members representative of people with disabilities and one member of the staff of the Board elected by the staff.

Family Support Agency

Section 10 of the Family Support Agency Act, 2001 states that the Board of the Agency shall be appointed by me and shall consist of 12 members, including a chairperson, persons with an interest or expertise in matters relating to the functions of the Agency, an officer of my Department and an elected member of staff of the Agency.

Social Welfare Tribunal

All members of the Social Welfare Tribunal are appointed by me under Section 333(3) of the Social Welfare (Consolidation Act). The Tribunal consists of a chairman and four ordinary members, two on the nomination of ICTU and two nominated by IBEC.

Air Services.

Pat Carey

Ceist:

134 Mr. Carey asked the Minister for Transport the agency within the remit of his Department which has responsibility for monitoring the frequency, routes, height and flight path of helicopters and the way residents can have their concerns addressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38289/06]

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) is the agency within the remit of my Department which is the designated body responsible for overseeing the operating standards of aircraft, including helicopters.

I have been advised by the IAA that all aircraft, including helicopters, operating within the ‘Dublin Control Zone' i.e. Greater Dublin Area, are subject to an air traffic control service provided by Dublin Air Traffic Control (ATC). This airspace is classified and designated as Class C airspace and air traffic control clearances are issued by ATC to all aircraft operating within this airspace — Rules 26 to 29 of S.I. No. 72 Irish Aviation Authority (Rules of the Air) Order, 2004 refers.

Individuals may contact the Authority directly with any concerns regarding safety matters arising from helicopter operations in their areas.

The IAA has informed me that legislation relating to the regulation of helicopters can be viewed on their web site www.iaa.ie.

Road Safety.

Jimmy Deenihan

Ceist:

135 Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Transport if his attention has been drawn to the threat of the Voluntary Driving Instructors’ Register of Ireland to boycott the new Road Safety Authority’s Register of Driving Instructors should their members not be automatically included on the new RSA Register; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38305/06]

The Road Safety Authority is responsible for registering driving instructors. A consultation document published jointly by my Department and the RSA last May set out proposals for the registration of driving instructors and invited submissions to be made by the 8 September. These submissions are being considered by the RSA.

Road Network.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

136 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Transport if, in view of his statement that 19 of the past 20 road projects have come in on budget reversing the previous experience, he will list for each of the 20 projects, the kilometres of road in each case of different road categories, and the completed cost; and if he will provide the same information in respect of the 20 previous road projects. [38319/06]

A list of the last twenty road projects referred to by the Deputy is as follows.

2004

M7

Heath / Mayfield (Monasterevin By-Pass)

Kildare County Council

Motorway

17.5 km

N8

Cashel By-Pass

South Tipperary County Council

Dual

6.8 km

N26

Ballina — Bohola Ph 1

Mayo County Council

Single

4.7 km

M50

Wyatville Interchange

Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Co. Council

Interchange

2005

M1

Dundalk Western Bypass (PPP)

Louth County Council

Motorway

11 km

M4

Kilcock — Kinnegad (PPP)

Westmeath County Council

Motorway

39 km

N4

McNeads Bridge — Kinnegad

Westmeath County Council

Dual Carriageway

5 km

N4

Sligo Relief Road

Sligo County Council

Dual Carriageway

5 km

N6

Loughrea Bypass

Galway County Council

Single

4 km

N21

Tralee / Ballycarthy

Kerry County Council

Single

3 km

N22

Gortatlea / Farranfore

Kerry County Council

Single

4 km

2006

N2

Finglas / Ashbourne

Meath County Council

Dual

17 km

N7

Naas Road Widening

Kildare County Council

Dual

15 km

N8

Rathcormac / Fermoy

Cork County Council

Motorway

18 km

N8/N73

Mitchelstown Relief Road

Cork County Council

Single

4 km

N15

Ballyshannon / Bundoran

Donegal County Council

Single

11 km

N21

Castleisland / Abbeyfeale

Kerry County Council

Single

7 km

N25

Kinsale Road Interchange

Waterford County Council

N30

Enniscorthy / Clonroche (Moneytucker)

Wexford County Council

Single

5 km

N55

Cavan Bypass

Cavan County Council

Single

3 km

Public Transport.

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

137 Ms C. Murphy asked the Minister for Transport the number of passenger licences granted to public transport providers, including Dublin Bus and private bus operations, for both new routes and amendments to existing routes in the Greater Dublin Area in each year from 2002 to 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38333/06]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to her question on the 8th November, 2006, in which I stated that in accordance with the Road Transport Act, 1932 private operators are licensed to operate coach and bus services within the State. Bus services provided by Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus are not subject to the provisions of the 1932 Act. However, both Companies are required by Ministerial direction under the Transport Act 1958 to notify my Department of proposed new services or proposed changes to existing services and require my consent where a service competes with an existing authorised service by another operator.

The number of notifications from Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann for new routes or alterations to existing routes in the Greater Dublin Area finalised in the years 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 are shown in the following table. Also shown are the numbers of passenger licences issued in the same years to private bus operators for new routes or amendments to existing licensed routes.

2002

2003

2004

2005

Notifications from Dublin Bus for new routes

2

4

4

4

Notifications from Dublin Bus for amended routes

11

69

72

45

Notifications from Bus Éireann for new routes

1

5

10

3

Notifications from Bus Éireann for amended routes

8

11

5

5

Licences issued to Private Operators for new routes

6

9

14

4

Licences issued to Private Operators for amended routes

3

6

8

15

Appointments to State Boards.

Dan Boyle

Ceist:

138 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Transport the statutory processes involved in the appointment of chairs and members of non-Departmental public bodies under the remit of his Department and their legislative origin. [38347/06]

Appointments to the Boards of State-Sponsored Bodies are made in accordance with the provisions set out in the legislation establishing the bodies concerned. The following table sets out the relevant legislative provisions in respect of the relevant State-Sponsored Bodies under the aegis of my Department.

State Body

Act

Section

CIE

Transport Act 1950

Section 6

Bus Éireann, Dublin Bus & Iarnród Éireann.

Transport (Reorganisation of CIE) Act, 1986

Section 11

Dublin, Cork and Shannon Airport Authorities

Air Navigation and Transport (Amendment) Act 1998

Sections 22 & 29

Road Safety Authority

Road Safety Authority Act 2006

Section 14 & 15

National Roads Authority

Roads Act 1993

Section 28

Medical Bureau of Road Safety

Road Traffic Act, 1968, Part V.

Section (37(3))

Railway Procurement Agency

Transport (Railway Infrastructure) Act 2001

Sections 20, 21 & 23

Dublin Transportation Office

Dublin Transportation Office (Establishment) Order 1995

S.I. No. 289 of 1995

Commercial State Port Companies

The Harbours Act 1996

Section 17(3)(a)

Irish Aviation Authority

Irish Aviation Authority Act 1993

Section 17

Public Transport.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

139 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Transport when integrated ticketing will be in place in Dublin city. [38427/06]

The position in relation to the Integrated Ticketing project in my response to Parliamentary Question Numbers 7 and 13 on 2nd November 2006.

I await proposals, due at the end of this month, from the Integrated Ticketing Project Board in relation to scope, timelines and a definitive budget for the phased completion of the integrated ticketing project.

Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann and Irish Rail currently have in place a range of integrated fares and tickets which allow transfer between their services. In addition, there are also other integrated tickets which allow transfers with Luas services.

Rail Network.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

140 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Transport when construction on the proposed Central Dublin railway station will commence. [38428/06]

An important feature of the overall rail development plans included in Transport 21 is the development of an integrated network, which will enable passengers to transfer between suburban rail, METRO and LUAS at a number of interchange stations. The St Stephen's Green Station will be a key interchange point enabling transfer between LUAS, METRO NORTH and suburban rail.

The Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) and Irish Rail have established good working relationships to ensure that the optimum level of integration is achieved in the design, construction and operation of the two elements of the project.

Subject to an enforceable Railway Order, the scheduled commencement date for the construction of the Metro North element of the St. Stephen's Green Station is 2009, with a completion date of 2012.

Work has commenced on the design of the suburban rail Interconnector, including design of the interchange with Metro at St. Stephen's Green. Construction of the Interconnector is scheduled to commence in 2010, subject to an enforceable Railway Order, with a view to completion in 2015.

Light Rail Projects.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

141 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Transport when construction on the LUAS to Cherrywood will commence. [38429/06]

I signed the Railway Order for the Luas extension to Cherrywood on 14 August 2006. However, as the Deputy may be aware, a third party subsequently sought leave in the High Court to challenge the grant of this Order by way of judicial review and the matter is now before the courts.

The scheduled completion date for this project was 2010; every effort will be made, subject to the outcome of the current legal proceedings, to minimise the impact of the latter on this timetable.

Rail Network.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

142 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Transport when construction on the four tracking of the Kildare mainline route will commence. [38430/06]

I refer the Deputy to my reply of the 8 November 2006 to Question 241. The position remains the same.

Community Development.

Olwyn Enright

Ceist:

143 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if there will be changes regarding the selection of schools to be included in the CLÁR areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38256/06]

In early April I announced new measures under the Clár Programme in the existing CLÁR areas and an extension into parts of five new counties (Wicklow, Carlow, Laois, Kilkenny and Offaly). This brings the total number of counties now covered by the Programme to 23.

In order for a school to be eligible to qualify for any of the CLÁR measures the school must be located in a District Electoral Division (D.E.D.) designated as a CLÁR area. There are no plans at the moment for further expansion of the areas covered by the CLÁR Programme.

Appointments to State Boards.

Dan Boyle

Ceist:

144 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the statutory processes involved in the appointment of chairs and members of non-Departmental public bodies under the remit of his Department and their legislative origin. [38337/06]

In the case of Údarás na Gaeltachta, section 6(2) (as amended by section 3(1) of the Údarás na Gaeltachta (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1999) of the Údarás na Gaeltachta Act 1979 provides that the Minister will appoint the Chairperson and two members to the board while the remaining 17 board members will be elected by the Gaeltacht community. Sections 6(2A) and 6(2B) (as inserted by section 3(1) of the Údarás na Gaeltachta (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1999) of the Údarás na Gaeltachta Act 1979 further provide that the person appointed as chairperson shall not have stood as a candidate in the last election and that he or she shall have such special skills or experience as the Minister considers appropriate having regard to the functions of Údarás.

Commissioners of Charitable Donations and Bequests for Ireland:

The Charities Act 1961 outlines the procedure in place for the appointment of the chairperson and the Board members of the Commissioners of Charitable Donations and Bequests for Ireland.

Section 8(1) states that "the Government shall appoint persons to be members of the Board from time to time as occasion requires" and 8(5) states that "...as occasion requires, the Board shall appoint a member of the Board to be the Chairman of the Board..."

An Foras Teanga:

The procedures in relation to the appointment of the board of the North South Language Body, An Foras Teanga (comprising Foras na Gaeilge and the Ulster Scots Agency) are set out in the British-Irish Agreement Act 1999 (paragraphs 2.1 to 2.8 inclusive of Part 5 of Annex 2 to the Schedule).

The Western Development Commission:

The Western Development Commission Act 1998 provides that the Minister will appoint the Chairperson and 11 ordinary members, with the consent of the Minister of Finance. The legislation further provides that the chairperson and ordinary members will hold office for a period of 3 years from the date of his or her appointment.

Dormant Accounts Board:

The Chairperson and members of the Dormant Accounts Board are appointed by the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs in accordance with Section 32 of the Dormant Accounts Acts 2001 to 2005.

For the avoidance of doubt, appointments to boards of non-statutory bodies under the aegis of my Department have been dealt with in my reply to question number 38 of 9 November 2006.

Dan Boyle

Ceist:

145 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the statutory processes involved in the appointment of chairs and members of non-Departmental public bodies under the remit of her Department and their legislative origin. [38334/06]

The appointment of Chairman and members of the Board of An Bord Bia are made by the Minister in accordance with Section 14 of the An Bord Bia Act 1994 to 2004. Appointments are made by Warrant signed by the Minister.

Teagasc:

The First Schedule of the Agriculture (Research, Training and Advice) Act, 1988 provides for the appointment by the Minister of the Chairman and 10 ordinary members to the Teagasc Authority. The Act provides that:

(a) the Minister nominates 5 of the ordinary members on the basis of their knowledge or experience of agriculture, agricultural research, education, food processing, the food processing industry or the management of commercial enterprises.

(b) the other 5 ordinary members are nominated by outside organisations that are representative of persons engaged in agriculture or the promotion or development of the agricultural industry.

National Stud:

The Minister, after consultation with the Minister for Finance, appoints the Chairman and Directors of the Irish National Stud.

The National Stud Act, 1976, provides that the number of Directors (including the Chairman) shall not be less than three or more than seven.

Coillte Teoranta:

The legislative basis for appointments to the Board of Directors of Coillte Teoranta is Section 15 of the Forestry Act 1988 (Number 26 of 1988). The Chairman and other Directors are appointed by the Minister, with the consent of the Minister for Finance.

Section 15 (2) specifies that the number of directors (including the Chairman) shall be not more than 9 and that each director (including the Chairman) shall be appointed for a period not exceeding five years and shall be eligible for reappointment.

Veterinary Council of Ireland:

Veterinary Council of Ireland was established under the Veterinary Practice Act 2005.

The statutory processes for appointment of members are specified in Section 16 of the Act, while appointment of the chair (styled as ‘President' under the Act) is specified in paragraph 16 of Schedule 2 to the Act.

Animal Remedies Consultative Committee:

The statutory processes for the appointment of the Animal Remedies Consultative Committee are provided for in Section 3(2) of the Animal Remedies Act 1993 and SI 175 of 1994, as amended by SI 175 of 2004. It has been the practice that on each occasion the Committee meets, it elects a chair from among the members present.

National Milk Agency:

The legislative grounding of the Board is contained in the Milk (Regulation of Supply) Acts, 1994 to 1996. The appointment of the Chair is reserved to the Minister. The Minister shall also appoint those members nominated by processor, distributor, retail and consumer interests.

Representatives of producers are elected by the producers themselves.

Grant Payments.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

146 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when a decision will be made on the 2006 national reserve application by a person (details supplied) in County Roscommon; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38456/06]

The person named submitted an application for an allocation of entitlements from the 2006 Single Payment Scheme National Reserve under Category A. Category A caters for farmers who inherited land or received land free of charge or for a nominal sum from a farmer who had retired or died by 16 May, 2005 and who had leased out his/her holding to a third party during the reference period 2000 to 2002.

The position is that processing of the 2006 National Reserve applications will commence shortly and the intention is to make allocations to successful applicants at the earliest opportunity. A formal letter outlining my Department's decision on the National Reserve will issue to the person named as soon as his application has been processed.

M. J. Nolan

Ceist:

147 Mr. Nolan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if she will reconsider the package of compensation which was announced for the Greencore group as a result of the cessation of sugar production here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38457/06]

The compensation referred to is the EU restructuring aid for the sugar industry, which in Ireland's case is worth €145m approx. The aid, as provided for in Council Regulation (EC) No. 320/2006, is to cover the economic, social and environmental costs of restructuring the sugar industry involving factory closure and renunciation of quota. In July 2006 the Government decided on the percentage of the aid to be reserved for beet growers and contractors and provided an indicative breakdown of the potential allocation of the aid to be followed by Greencore in preparing its restructuring plan, including a figure of €28.4m for employee redundancy payments. This figure as well as others in the Government decision was based on information previously supplied by Greencore. These decisions are now the subject of judicial review proceedings instituted by Greencore in the High Court.

School Staffing.

Olwyn Enright

Ceist:

148 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in relation to a school (details supplied) in County Kerry where due to staff shortages teachers are teaching exam subjects for which they are not qualified; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38263/06]

Olwyn Enright

Ceist:

150 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in relation to a school (details supplied) in County Kerry which asked parents or guardians to make a voluntary contribution to pay for the recruitment of physical and art teachers in the school; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38265/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 148 and 150 together.

Teacher allocations to second level schools are approved annually by my Department in accordance with established rules based on recognised pupil enrolment. Each school management authority is required to organise its time-table and subject options having regard to pupils needs within the limit of its approved teacher allocation.

The rules for allocating teaching resources provide that where a school management authority is unable to meet its curricular commitments within its approved allocation, my Department will consider applications for additional short term support i.e. curricular concessions.

An application for curricular concessions was received from the school referred to by the Deputy and the school in question was allocated an additional 1 wholetime equivalent teacher post. An independent appeals mechanism is available to school authorities who wish to appeal the adequacy of their teacher allocation. This school availed of this appeals mechanism and were allocated a further .5 wholetime equivalent teacher post. The decision of the Appeals Committee is final. As the Appeals Committee operates independently of my Department in taking its decisions, you will appreciate that it would not be appropriate to intervene in any such decision.

It is a fundamental principle of the Free Second Level Education Scheme that no charge be made in respect of:—

(a) instruction in any subject of my Department's Programme for Secondary Schools;

(b) recreation or study facilities where all pupils are expected to avail themselves of them as part of the school programme.

(c) any other activity in which all pupils are required to take part.

Accordingly, it would be a breach of my Department's policy for post-primary schools involved in the Free Second Level Education Scheme to demand or levy a fee. However, voluntary contributions by parents, or charges for optional extras over and above what is provided for in the general school programme, are permissible provided that it is made absolutely clear to parents that there is no question of compulsion to pay and that, in making a contribution, they are doing so of their own volition.

Special Educational Needs.

Olwyn Enright

Ceist:

149 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science if there are proposals to change the cut off point for qualification for resource assistance for dyslexic students; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38264/06]

My Department has given a very high priority to the provision of resources to address the learning difficulties of children with low levels of achievement in reading such as those referred to by the Deputy. As the Deputy is aware, my Department implemented a general allocation system in all primary schools with effect from the start of the 2005/2006 school year. The general allocation scheme is designed to ensure that each school has learning support/resource teaching support available to meet the needs of children with high incidence special needs including dyslexia.

Second level pupils with dyslexia are normally integrated into ordinary classes. In such situations, they may receive additional tutorial support from the remedial/learning support teacher, guidance counsellor and subject teachers. My Department allocates additional teacher support and special needs assistant support to second level schools and Vocational Education Committees to cater for pupils with special educational needs, including, where appropriate, pupils with dyslexia. I have no plans to change the current criteria for accessing additional resource teaching support for students with dyslexia.

Question No. 150 answered with QuestionNo. 148.

School Transport.

Olwyn Enright

Ceist:

151 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science if she received a response from Bus Éireann regarding a review of the situation to the provision of school transport to a school (details supplied) in County Kerry as indicated in the reply to Parliamentary Question No. 1444 of 27 September 2006; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38266/06]

I should explain that, in order to be eligible for free transport under the terms of the Primary School Transport Scheme, children must live at least 3.2 kilometres from, and be attending, their nearest national school or gaelscoil. This family were deemed ineligible for school transport to the school referred to by the Deputy in the details provided, as they reside nearer to another school in the area. Bus Éireann has assured my Department that it has measured the distance in accordance with normal operational procedures.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

152 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will support a club (details supplied) in County Dublin with mainstream funding in order to assist children and adults with disabilities. [38267/06]

I wish to inform you that my Department does not provide direct funding to organisations, such as the Junior Club referred to by the Deputy. The organisation may wish to approach the Department of Social and Family Affairs, which operates a Family Services Project. Examples of activities funded under this Programme including parenting projects for very young lone parents, support programmes for families of disabled persons and family support for Travellers on its website.

School Funding.

Olwyn Enright

Ceist:

153 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science the capitation fees granted to a school with an attendance of between 100 and 150 pupils; the position in relation to schools whose capitation fees do not cover their costs; if additional funding is available for schools to provide caretakers and secretaries; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38268/06]

Primary schools' running costs are met by my Department's scheme of capitation grants. These grants are intended to contribute towards the general operating costs of schools which would include heating, lighting, cleaning, insurance, painting, teaching aids and other miscellaneous charges. The primary school capitation grant has been increased substantially in recent years. Since 1997 the standard rate of capitation grant has been increased from €57.14 per pupil to €145.58 with effect from 1st January, 2006. Schools with between 100 and 150 pupils would receive a capitation grant based on these rates. This represents an increase of almost 155% in the standard rate of capitation grant since 1997.

Furthermore enhanced rates of capitation funding are paid in respect of children with special educational needs who attend special schools or special classes attached to mainstream schools. The current rates range from €400.00 to €619.50 per pupil. The standard rate of capitation grant is paid to all primary schools except Gaelscoileanna located outside of Gaeltacht areas which receive an additional €25.39 per pupil over and above the standard rate grant.

The capitation grant is in addition to the Ancillary Services Grant which provides additional funding for primary schools towards the cost of secretarial and caretaking services. The standard rate of grant per pupil under the scheme was increased from €102 per pupil in 2002 to the current rate of €139 per pupil. Schools with between 100 and 150 pupils would receive the Ancillary Services Grant based on these rates.

There have also been significant improvements in the level of funding for voluntary secondary schools in recent years. Since January 2005, the standard per capita grant has been increased by a cumulative €24 per pupil and now stands at €298 per pupil. In addition, secondary schools have also benefited from grants introduced under the School Services Support Fund initiative. Under this initiative, a minimum payment grant of €40,688, based on 200 pupils, is paid to schools with 200 pupils or less. This payment brings overall funding towards the running costs including secretarial and caretaking provision in the case of a school with 150 pupils to €85,388 per annum. This Government has shown a strong commitment to improving school funding in recent years and I will continue to prioritise this area in the context of available resources.

Psychological Service.

Emmet Stagg

Ceist:

154 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Education and Science the additional schools to be covered in 2006 in county Kildare under the NEPS service. [38278/06]

The Deputy will be aware that all primary and post primary schools have access to psychological services either directly from the National Educational Psychological Service of my Department or through the Scheme for Commissioning Psychological Assessments (SCPA) whereby the school can have an assessment carried out by a member of the panel of private psychologists which is approved and paid for by NEPS. I attach for the Deputy's information a list of six schools in Co. Kildare which are assigned directly to NEPs psychologists in 2006 additional to the schools so covered in September 2005.

Departmental Funding.

Ruairí Quinn

Ceist:

155 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount of funding provided by her Department to Youthreach in each year from 2002 to 2006; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38290/06]

The Youthreach Programme is an Inter-Departmental initiative which provides two years integrated education, training and work experience to young people aged 15-20 years who are at least six months in the labour market and who have left school early without any qualifications or vocational training.

The programme funded by my Department is delivered in out of school centres and is managed by Vocational Education Committees (VECs). There are a total of ninety Youthreach Centres managed by the VEC sector throughout the country. Overall, there are about 6,500 places available nationally at present, 3,200 of which are in the VEC sector and the remainder in Community Training Centres under the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

Basic skills training, practical work training and general education are features of the programme, and the application of new technology is integrated into all aspects of programme content. The programme provides a strong emphasis on personal development, on the core skills of literacy/numeracy, communications and IT, along with a choice of vocational options such as Catering, Hairdressing, Computers, Woodwork, Photography, Video, Sports, Art and craft and a work experience programme.

Funding provided by my Department for Youthreach from 2002 to 2006 is as follows:

2002

38,142,683

2003

38,024,023

2004

44,645,204

2005

45,334,433

The expenditure by my Department for Youthreach in 2006 is estimated to be in excess of €46 million.

Literacy Levels.

Ruairí Quinn

Ceist:

156 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science the funds which have been allocated to the proposed family literacy project; if targets have been set for the project; the way they will be measured; when it is expected that the project will be implemented; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38291/06]

The national adult literacy services are delivered by the Vocational Education Committees with funding provided by my Department. The disbursement of adult literacy funds is a matter for each VEC, which, subject to its budget, decides the nature of the service to be provided in its area and the manner in which the funds should be spent. In addition to the standard service, some VECs use some of their funds to provide specially-targeted literacy programmes, including family literacy.

A major educational inclusion action plan called "Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools" (DEIS) was launched in 2005. Recognising the vital role of parents and other family members in children's literacy development, a new family literacy project has been initiated as part of the DEIS action plan. The project will build on previous experience in this area and will be implemented on a phased basis. It will be based on a partnership approach involving interested parties in the area of family literacy. The operational details of the project are being formulated at present in my Department. The project will come into operation during the current academic year.

Funding for the Family Literacy project under DEIS is as follows:

Year

Amount

2006/07

100,000

2007/08

200,000

2008/09

500,000

Standardised Tests.

Ruairí Quinn

Ceist:

157 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science if, in regard to her address to the INTO conference on 18 April 2006, she will indicate the manner in which standardised tests inform policy making at national level by providing invaluable information regarding attainment levels in schools here, or allow parents to judge their child’s progress against the national norm in view of the fact that her Department does not collate the results of school tests; if her Department intends to collate the results of all schools’ standardised tests; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38292/06]

A standardised test measures how a pupil performs at the time of the test in relation to what is expected for a pupil of that age or class.

Test results can be used at school level to identify pupils with learning difficulties at an early stage so that support and interventions can be put in place. While standardised tests do not indicate the nature of a learning difficulty, they can be used to flag potential difficulties and to prompt further assessment.

Also, an item by item analysis of the child's performance on a standardised test can help a teacher identify areas of particular difficulty for the child. Test results, therefore, when used with information gleaned from other assessment measures, can help teachers and parents with a full picture of the child's progress and, in so doing, guide the teaching and learning process in a very meaningful way.

At classroom level, information from standardised tests can be particularly useful in informing individual and group teaching.

Standardised tests also have an important role to play at the level of the whole school. They provide valuable information for teachers, principals and boards of management when engaging in self-evaluation, a vitally important stage in planning the development and improvement of the individual school.

These are the reasons why I believe that standardised testing, as one of a range of modes of assessment and carried out on a systematic basis, has real potential to enhance the quality of teaching and learning for our pupils at classroom level, and to provide valuable information for parents about their children's learning.

I intend to make standardised testing at the end of first class, or the beginning of second, and at the end of fourth class, or beginning of fifth, a requirement. However, it is not my attention that these test results will be collated on a national basis. Instead, the results will be retained at school level and be available to inspectors conducting evaluations. As I have indicated many times already, inspectors' reports will not contain data that might facilitate school comparisons or the compilation of league tables.

To meet the need for national data, I intend to introduce a separate programme of national monitoring. This will enable trend data on pupil achievement in different categories of school to be compiled using rigorously constructed samples of schools. The outcomes of this process will be used into monitoring the effectiveness of national policies and programmes.

It is not my Department's intention to use test results obtained during the national monitoring to compile school league tables. Neither will they be used, as a stand-alone criterion, in the allocation of resources to individual pupils or individual schools or in the measurement of the effectiveness of the teachers and schools that form part of the samples.

My Department is currently finalising the arrangements for introduction of the introduction of standardised testing as quickly as possible.

School Transport.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

158 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Science further to Parliamentary Question No. 168 of 26 October 2006, the reason her Department has failed to make contact with the family concerned which is at complete variance to her letter of 4 September 2006 and the reply of 26 October 2006; her views on whether this is an acceptable practice; the number of other parents who were given such a commitment and have yet to be contacted by her Department; the criteria for the establishment of a school transport service; the reason such a service can not be put in place for the children in question when others closer to the school are being provided with a service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38296/06]

In view of the nature of the transport arrangements available to the family in question my Department has continued to work closely with Bus Éireann if an effort to provide the family with a more suitable service. In the meantime, a letter is being issued to the family explaining the position.

School Staffing.

Paddy McHugh

Ceist:

159 Mr. McHugh asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will ensure that a school (details supplied) in County Galway retains the full time resource post currently in the school and increases the learning support to a full time post; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38297/06]

I am pleased to advise the Deputy that the school in question now has a full time learning support/resource teacher (LS/RT) post and a full time resource teacher post based in the school for the current school year.

Schools Building Projects.

Dan Neville

Ceist:

160 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Education and Science when funding will be provided for an extension to a school (details supplied) in County Limerick. [38298/06]

School Planning Section of my Department is in receipt of an application for the Small Schools Scheme 2007 from the school referred to by the Deputy. The closing date for this devolved scheme was 27 October 2006.

The application will be assessed by my officials and publication of the list of successful applicants for the scheme will be published as soon as possible.

Educational Disadvantage.

Ruairí Quinn

Ceist:

161 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science the grant assistance given to schools not eligible for the school support programme to assist them with their respective levels of dispersed disadvantage; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38299/06]

DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools), the new action plan for educational inclusion provides for a standardised system for identifying levels of disadvantage and a new integrated School Support Programme (SSP). The DEIS plan states that as well as provision being made for schools with a concentrated level of disadvantage, financial support will also continue to be provided for other primary schools, not identified for inclusion in the DEIS initiative, where the level of disadvantage is more dispersed.

DEIS is designed to ensure that the schools serving the most disadvantaged communities benefit from the maximum level of support available. Schools which have not qualified for inclusion in the DEIS initiative and which are receiving additional resources, both human and financial, under pre-existing schemes and programmes for addressing concentrated disadvantage, will retain these supports for 2006/2007. After that, schools will continue to get support in line with the level of disadvantage among their pupils.

As a result of the identification and review processes, 873 schools have been invited to participate in the new Programme. These comprise 670 primary schools (338 urban/town schools and 332 rural schools) and 203 second-level schools.

Grants due to the 670 Primary schools which are participating in the DEIS initiative will be lodged to their schools' bank accounts on 17 November 2006. This is in addition to payments totalling €1 million which issued to those schools in June 2006. Provision is also been made for the issue of grants in the case of the 203 Post Primary schools which are participating in the initiative.

In addition, approximately another 2,000 schools will receive rates of grant assistance to assist them with their respective levels of dispersed disadvantage, including those that are benefiting from previous schemes.

Appointments to State Boards.

Dan Boyle

Ceist:

162 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Education and Science the statutory processes involved in the appointment of chairs and members of non-departmental public bodies under the remit of her Department and their legislative origin. [38339/06]

The statutory process involved in the appointment of chairpersons and members of bodies varies considerably, according the statutory scheme. The following details relate to those appointments which have a statutory basis.

The Deputy may wish to note that a number of bodies operate on an administrative rather than statutory basis, and they have not been included in the following table. The Deputy may also wish to note that educational establishments, and their governing bodies, have not been included in this reply.

The statutory process involved in the appointment of certain categories of person or to a certain position within a public body includes the following:

Board/Body

Legislation

Process by which person is appointed

Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse

Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse Acts 2002 to 2005

Members appointed by the Government following consultation with the Chairperson; Chairperson appointed by Government.

Education (Former Residents of Certain Institutions for Children) Finance Board

Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002 as amended by Part 3 of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (Amendment) Act 2005

Chairperson and 8 ordinary Members appointed by the Minister (4 of whom are former residents of the institutions concerned)

Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC)

Qualifications (Education and Training) Act 1999

18 Council members are appointed by the Minister on foot of nominations from a number of bodies (CERT, Teagasc, An Foras, IBEC, ICTU) and some of whom are ex-officio (the CEOs of HETAC and FETAC). The Chairperson is appointed by the Minister following consultations with the Ministers for Agriculture & Food, Enterprise Trade & Employment, Arts, Sport and Tourism

Grangegorman Development Agency

Grangegorman Development Agency Act 2005

15 members, including Chairperson, are appointed by the Minister following nomination from a number of bodies such as DIT, Dublin City Council, Minister for Health and Children.

Higher Education Authority (HEA)

Higher Education Authority Act 1971

18 ordinary members, appointed by Government. Chairperson appointed by Government on recommendation of the Minister.

Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC)

Qualifications (Education and Training) Act 1999

15 Council members are appointed by the Minister following nomination by a number of bodies. The Chairperson is appointed by the Minister following consultations with the Ministers for Agriculture & Food, Enterprise Trade & Employment, Arts, Sport and Tourism

National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB)

Education (Welfare) Act 2000

11 of the 12 ordinary members of Board are appointed by the Minister following nominations from a number of bodies and organisations. Chairperson is appointed by the Minister.

National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA)

Education Act 1998

Council and Chairperson are appointed by the Minister following nominations from a number of bodies and organisations (eg ASTI, CPSMA, IBEC, JMB)

National Council for Special Education (NCSE)

Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004

Council members are appointed by the Minister for periods of office of up to 4 years.

National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI)

Qualifications (Education and Training) Act 1999

14 Authority members appointed by the Minister, of whom some are nominated by various bodies. Chairperson is appointed by the Minister following consultations with the Ministers for Agriculture & Food, Enterprise Trade & Employment, Arts, Sport and Tourism

Residential Institutions Redress Board

Residential Institutions Redress Acts 2002 and 2005

Chairperson and Board members are appointed by the Minister

Residential Institutions Review Committee

Residential Institutions Redress Acts 2002 and 2005

Chairperson and Committee members are appointed by the Minister

Special Education Appeals Board

Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004

Chairperson and Board members are appointed by the Minister

State Examinations Commission

Education Act 1998

5 Commission members are appointed by Government on nomination by the Minister.

Teaching Council

Teaching Council Acts 2001 and 2006

37 Council members are appointed by the Minister, of whom some are nominees of various bodies whilst others are elected by members of their profession

The term ‘public body' has not been taken to be understood as including educational institutions or bodies without a national remit.

Education Grants.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

163 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the capitation grant is awarded to primary schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; the rate at which the grant was awarded to primary schools in each of the past five years; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38356/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

166 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the book grant for needy pupils is awarded to primary schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38359/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

168 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the ancillary services grant is awarded to primary schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; and the rate at which the grant was awarded to primary schools in each of the past five years; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38361/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

195 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the local authority library grant is expended by her Department; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded; the rate at which the grant was awarded in each of the past five years; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38388/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

199 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science if there is an equivalent scheme to the psychological test grant second level in operation at primary level; if so, the full financial details of the basis on which the grant is awarded to schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38392/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 163, 166, 168, 195 and 199 together.

The financial information requested by the Deputy relating to the grants payable by this Department to schools over the past five years would involve an inordinate amount of administrative time to compile. The information relating to the basis for each grant will be compiled and provided to the Deputy by letter as soon as possible.

Grant Payments.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

164 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the capitation grant post primary is awarded to second level schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; and the rate at which the grant was awarded to second level schools in each of the past five years; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38357/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

176 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the caretaker and secretary school services support fund is awarded to second level schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; and the rate at which the grant was awarded to second level schools in each of the past five years; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38369/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

179 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the choirs and orchestras grant is awarded to second level schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; and the rate at which the grant was awarded to second level schools in each of the past five years; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38372/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

187 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the home economics ingredients grant is awarded to second level schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; and the rate at which the grant was awarded to second level schools in each of the past five years; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38380/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

188 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the home school community liaison grant is awarded to second level schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; and the rate at which the grant was awarded to second level schools in each of the past five years; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38381/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

190 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the HSCL part-time hours grant is awarded to second level schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; and the rate at which the grant was awarded to second level schools in each of the past five years; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38383/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

192 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the HSCL grant post primary is awarded to second level schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; and the rate at which the grant was awarded to second level schools in each of the past five years; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38385/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

193 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the languages initiative post primary is awarded to second level schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; and the rate at which the grant was awarded to second level schools in each of the past five years; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38386/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

194 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the LCA LCVP equipment grant is awarded to second level schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; and the rate at which the grant was awarded to second level schools in each of the past five years; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38387/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

197 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the physics and chemistry grant is awarded to second level schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; and the rate at which the grant was awarded to second level schools in each of the past five years; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38390/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

198 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the psychological test grant is awarded to second level schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; and the rate at which the grant was awarded to second level schools in each of the past five years; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38391/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

205 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the secretary secondary 1979 scheme including the number of schools in this scheme; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38398/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

206 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the special subjects grant is awarded to second level schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; and the rate at which the grant was awarded to second level schools in each of the past five years; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38399/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 164, 176, 179, 187, 188, 190, 192 to 194, inclusive, 197, 198, 205 and 206 together.

The financial information requested by the Deputy involves an inordinate amount of administrative time to compile. The various parts of this Department responsible for each grant will compile the information relating to the basis for each grant and will provide this information to the Deputy by letter as soon as possible.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

165 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the minor works grant is awarded to primary schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38358/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

196 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the PBU capital grant is awarded including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38389/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 165 and 196 together.

The financial information requested by the Deputy involves an inordinate amount of administrative time to compile. The various parts of this Department responsible for each grant will compile the information relating to the basis for each grant and will provide this information to the Deputy by letter as soon as possible.

Question No. 166 answered with QuestionNo. 163.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

167 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the book grant for needy students is awarded to second level schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38360/06]

The financial information requested by the Deputy involves an inordinate amount of administrative time to compile. The various parts of this Department responsible for each grant will compile the information relating to the basis for each grant and will provide this information to the Deputy by letter as soon as possible.

Question No. 168 answered with QuestionNo. 163.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

169 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the breaking the cycle equipment grant is awarded to primary schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; and the rate at which the grant was awarded to primary schools in each of the past five years; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38362/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

170 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the breaking the cycle equipment grant is awarded to second level schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; and the rate at which the grant was awarded to second level schools in each of the past five years; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38363/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

171 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the breaking the cycle rural initiative is awarded to primary schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; and the rate at which the grant was awarded to primary schools in each of the past five years; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38364/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

172 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the breaking the cycle rural initiative is awarded to second level schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; and the rate at which the grant was awarded to second level schools in each of the past five years; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38365/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

173 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the breaking the cycle urban projects is awarded to second level schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; and the rate at which the grant was awarded to second level schools in each of the past five years; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38366/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

174 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the breaking the cycle urban projects is awarded to primary schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; and the rate at which the grant was awarded to primary schools in each of the past five years; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38367/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

177 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the children at risk fund is awarded to second level schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; and the rate at which the grant was awarded to second level schools in each of the past five years; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38370/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

178 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the children at risk fund is awarded to primary schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; and the rate at which the grant was awarded to primary schools in each of the past five years; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38371/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

180 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the disadvantaged materials grant is awarded to second level schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; and the rate at which the grant was awarded to second level schools in each of the past five years; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38373/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

181 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the disadvantaged materials grant is awarded to primary schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; and the rate at which the grant was awarded to primary schools in each of the past five years; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38374/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

182 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the disadvantaged capitation HSCL grant is awarded to primary schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; and the rate at which the grant was awarded to primary schools in each of the past five years; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38375/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

183 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the disadvantaged capitation HSCL grant is awarded to second level schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; and the rate at which the grant was awarded to second level schools in each of the past five years; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38376/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

184 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the early start grant is awarded to primary schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; and the rate at which the grant was awarded to primary schools in each of the past five years; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38377/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

189 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the home school community liaison grant is awarded to primary schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; and the rate at which the grant was awarded to primary schools in each of the past five years; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38382/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

191 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the HSCL part-time hours grant is awarded to primary schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; and the rate at which the grant was awarded to primary schools in each of the past five years; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38384/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

207 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the supports teachers grant is awarded to primary schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; and the rate at which the grant was awarded to primary schools in each of the past five years; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38400/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

208 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the support teachers grant is awarded to second level schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; and the rate at which the grant was awarded to second level schools in each of the past five years; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38401/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

209 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of grants provided to primary schools under the DEIS initiative; the basis on which such grants were awarded; the details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to grants; the dates on which such grants were awarded by her Department to schools; the overall amount expended by her Department on these grants; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38402/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

210 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of grants provided to second level schools under the DEIS initiative; the basis on which such grants were awarded; the details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to grants; the dates on which such grants were awarded by her Department to schools; the overall amount expended by her Department on these grants; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38403/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

211 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the disadvantaged capitation HSCL grant is awarded to primary schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; and the rate at which the grant was awarded to primary schools in each of the past five years; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38404/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 169, 170 to 174, inclusive, 177, 178, 180 to 184, inclusive, 189, 191 and 207 to 211, inclusive, together.

The financial information requested by the Deputy involves an inordinate amount of administrative time to compile. The various parts of this Department responsible for each grant will compile the information relating to the basis for each grant and will provide this information to the Deputy by letter as soon as possible.

Questions Nos. 170 to 174, inclusive, answered with Question No. 169.

Departmental Schemes.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

175 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the caretaker primary 1979 scheme to primary schools including the number of schools to which this applies; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38368/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

204 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the secretary primary 1978 scheme including the number of primary schools in this scheme; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38397/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 175 and 204 together.

The financial information requested by the Deputy involves an inordinate amount of administrative time to compile. The various parts of this Department responsible for each grant will compile the information relating to the basis for each grant and will provide this information to the Deputy by letter as soon as possible.

Question No. 176 answered with QuestionNo. 164.
Questions Nos. 177 and 178 answered with Question No. 169.
Question No. 179 answered with QuestionNo. 164.
Questions Nos. 180 and 181 answered with Question No. 169.
Questions Nos. 182 to 184, inclusive, answered with Question No. 169.

Grant Payments.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

185 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the equipment for special needs pupils second level is awarded to second level schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; and the rate at which the grant was awarded to second levels schools in each of the past five years; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38378/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

200 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the remedial resource software grant is awarded to second level schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; and the rate at which the grant was awarded to second level schools in each of the past five years; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38393/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 185 and 200 together.

The financial information requested by the Deputy involves an inordinate amount of administrative time to compile. The various parts of this Department responsible for each grant will compile the information relating to the basis for each grant and will provide this information to the Deputy by letter as soon as possible.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

186 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science if there is a scheme for the equipment for special needs pupils grant in operation at primary level; if so, the full financial details of the basis on which the grant is awarded to schools including details of minimum and maximum limits attaching to the grant; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38379/06]

The financial information requested by the Deputy involves an inordinate amount of administrative time to compile. The various parts of his Department responsible for each grant will compile the information relating to the basis for each grant and will provide this information to the Deputy by letter as soon as possible.

Questions Nos. 187 and 188 answered with Question No. 164.
Question No. 189 answered with QuestionNo. 169.
Question No. 190 answered with QuestionNo. 164.
Question No. 191 answered with QuestionNo. 169.
Questions Nos. 192 to 194, inclusive, answered with Question No. 164.
Question No. 195 answered with QuestionNo. 163.
Question No. 196 answered with QuestionNo. 165.
Questions Nos. 197 and 198 answered with Question No. 164.
Question No. 199 answered with QuestionNo. 163.
Question No. 200 answered with QuestionNo. 185.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

201 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science if there is an equivalent scheme to the remedial resource software grant second level in operation at primary level; if so, the full financial details of the basis on which the grant is awarded to schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38394/06]

The financial information requested by the Deputy involves an inordinate amount of administrative time to compile. The various parts of this Department responsible for each grant will compile the information relating to the basis for each grant and will provide this information to the Deputy by letter as soon as possible.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

202 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the full financial details of the basis on which the school development planning grant post-primary is awarded to second level schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; and the rate at which the grant was awarded to second level schools in each of the past five years; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38395/06]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

203 Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science if there is an equivalent scheme to the school development planning grant post-primary in operation at primary level; if so, the full financial details of the basis on which the grant is awarded to schools including details of minimum or maximum limits attaching to the grant; the dates during the past five years on which this grant was awarded by her Department to schools; the overall amount expended by her Department on this grant in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38396/06]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 202 and 203 together.

The financial information requested by the Deputy involves an inordinate amount of administrative time to compile. The various parts of this Department responsible for each grant will compile the information relating to the basis for each grant and will provide this information to the Deputy by letter as soon as possible.

Question No. 204 answered with QuestionNo. 175.
Questions Nos. 205 and 206 answered with Question No. 164.
Questions Nos. 207 to 211, inclusive, answered with Question No. 169.

School Transport.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

212 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of school buses in operation; the number of buses that were fitted with seatbelts for each pupil in 2005, to date in 2006, the equivalent period in 2005 and a forecast for year ending 2006. [38408/06]

There are currently over 3,600 vehicles, including taxis, in operation on school transport services. In October 2005, less than 60% of school transport vehicles were fitted with seat belts. In October 2006, this figure had risen to over 97%. Bus Éireann has advised that December 2006 remains the target date for all vehicles operating on school transport services to be fitted with approved seat belts.

Departmental Staff.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

213 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of new posts created under the delivering equality of opportunity programmes in 2005, to date in 2006, the equivalent period in 2005 and a forecast for year ending 2006. [38409/06]

The Deputy will be aware that last year I launched a new action plan for educational inclusion, DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools), one aspect of which will be more staffing for the most disadvantaged schools. The plan provides for an extra 300 posts across the education system over the course of the five year implementation period.

I expect that approximately 180 extra posts will have been created in primary and post-primary schools by the end of the 2006/07 school year in the new DEIS initiative in order to benefit schools from measures which range from supports for tackling children's literacy problems, reduced pupil teacher ratios, allocation of administrative principals on lower enrolment, measures to strengthen ties between the school, the family and the community and support services for the provision of continuous professional development for teachers.

School Staffing.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

214 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of support teachers and special needs assistants for children in September 2005; the number in September 2006; and the number of additional teachers for year ending 2006. [38410/06]

In the 2005/06 school year there were 562 Language Support Teachers allocated to primary schools and 263 wholetime equivalents allocated to post-primary schools. The corresponding figures for the 2006/07 school year are 802 posts and 359 wholetime equivalents respectively.

In addition, grant aid towards the cost of employing language support teachers was provided in the 2005/06 school year and in the current school year to 490 and 466 primary schools respectively that did not have a sufficient number of eligible pupils to qualify for the allocation of full posts.

Under "Towards 2016", the Ten Year Framework Social Partnership Agreement, enhanced support for the effective integration of international children at both primary and second level will be provided through the provision of an extra 550 language support teachers by 2009. Details as to the precise number of posts to be allocated at both levels in the current school have yet to be finalised.

With regard to Special Needs Assistants, in the 2005/06 school year there were 5,933 wholetime equivalents allocated to primary schools and 1,102 wholetime equivalents allocated to post-primary schools. The corresponding figures for the 2006/07 school year are 6,775 and 1,365 wholetime equivalents respectively.

School Transport.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

215 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of new and second hand school buses purchased in 2006 and the number of additional vehicles hired in 2006. [38411/06]

Over the past 15 months, Bus Éireann has hired in more than 300 additional vehicles from private contractors. My Department has also given approval to the company to acquire 111 modern second hand buses and 50 new dedicated school buses, and some of these buses are already in service.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

216 Mr. Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science the pupil teacher ratio in primary schools designated disadvantaged in Dublin at the start of each school year from 2002 to 2006. [38412/06]

My Department has in the past operated a number of schemes to tackle educational disadvantage and reduce class sizes in schools in disadvantaged areas. These existing schemes are being integrated into the new action plan for educational inclusion, DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) which I launched last year, one aspect of which will be more staffing for the most disadvantaged schools. Under the plan, there will be a reduction in class sizes to 24:1 at senior level and 20:1 at junior level in the 190 primary schools serving communities with the highest concentrations of disadvantage.

Participating schools in the Giving Children an Even Break programme, which was launched in 2001, were supported to implement a maximum class size of 20:1 in junior classes and 27:1 in senior classes. The Breaking the Cycle project, which was launched in 1996, provided staffing supports to implement maximum class size of 15: 1 in junior classes and 27:1 in senior classes for 32 schools in designated areas of disadvantage.

Prior to that the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, which was launched in 1984, benefited participating schools by providing ex-quota concessionary posts which were not determined by reference to enrolment. The recommended guideline for the maximum class size for schools that were designated disadvantaged was 29:1. When a designated disadvantaged school exceeded this guideline an additional mainstream teaching post, referred to as a maximum class size post, was sanctioned by my Department.

Class reductions in the 32 schools under the Breaking the Cycle project and in 211 schools under the Giving Children an Even Break will also continue in operation in the schools concerned. Schools that were allocated the services of ex-quota concessionary teachers under the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme also retain their entitlements to these posts.

School Transport.

Olwyn Enright

Ceist:

217 Ms Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science if she has received an updated report from Bus Éireann following her reply to Parliamentary Question No. 235 of 11 October 2006; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38414/06]

The Deputy will be aware that the planning and organising of school bus routes is an operational matter for Bus Éireann. The families in question should liaise with the local Bus Éireann office regarding any additional costs involved in extending the route of the service.

Educational Disadvantage.

Dan Neville

Ceist:

218 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason funding for the homework club in a school (details supplied) in County Limerick has recently been reduced. [38458/06]

The school which the Deputy refers received funding in respect of their homework club under the Fund for the Development of Targeted Educational Responses to Certain Children at Risk in 2005.

The school is now participating in Band 1 of the School Support Programme under DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools), the action plan for educational inclusion and now has access to:

Early Childhood Education provision

reduced class sizes of 20:1 in junior classes and 24:1 in senior classes — administrative Principal on lower enrolment and staffing figures than apply in primary schools generally

additional non-pay/capitation allocation based on level of disadvantage

additional funding under School Books Grant Scheme

access to Schools Meals Programme

access to Home School Community Liaison services

access to School Completion Programme services

access to literacy/numeracy support service to specific literacy/numeracy measures

access to transfer programmes from primary to second level

access to planning supports

access to a range of professional development supports

eligibility for teachers/principals to apply for sabbatical leave.

After-school activities are delivered as part of the School Completion Programme and homework clubs in particular are a widely implemented support to provide students with a structured environment to complete homework.

School Enrolments.

Emmet Stagg

Ceist:

219 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Education and Science if a new policy has been introduced by her Department whereby pupils are required to provide proof of their address before they are accepted for enrolment in national school; the reason parents wishing to enrol their children in a school (details supplied) in County Kildare are being requested to provide this information; and if the right of parents to enrol their children in the school of their choice has been removed. [38459/06]

The new school to which the Deputy refers was provided by my Department to meet the growing need for extra primary provision in the area in September, 2005.

When fully occupied, the school will operate as a two-stream 16-classroom school. To enable it develop in this manner, it can only enrol two junior infant classes annually. This incremental development is common to all newly established schools to ensure that a shortage of accommodation at the school is avoided by an over enrolment in the early stages and crucially, to ensure that the enrolments and staffing levels in other schools in the area, where older pupils would inevitably be drawn, are not adversely affected.

Notwithstanding this position and as an exceptional matter, the school has been given approval to enrol three junior infant classes for this school year on the grounds that this will not impact negatively on the other schools in question. While enrolment policies are a matter for school authorities, the Department expects the enrolment polices of individual schools to compliment the demand for pupil places in an area and, as in this case, to assist the growth of the new school in an orderly fashion. This is in the best interests of the schools, pupils and wider community alike.

Enrolment in individual schools is the responsibility of the managerial authority of those schools and my Department does not seek to intervene in decisions made by schools in such matters. My Department's main responsibility is to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking places. This may result, however, in some pupils not obtaining a place in the school of their first choice.

It is the responsibility of the managerial authorities of schools that are not in a position to admit all pupils seeking entry to implement an enrolment policy in accordance with the Education Act. In this regard a board of management may find it necessary to restrict enrolment to children from a particular area or a particular age group or, occasionally, on the basis of some other criterion. In formulating an admissions policy a school must, however, ensure it is lawful. In particular, it must act in accordance with section 7 of the Equal Status Act 2000.

Where a Board of Management refuses to enrol a student in a school, the parent of the student or, where the student has reached 18 years of age, the student himself or herself, following the conclusion of any appeal procedures at school level, has a statutory entitlement under section 29 of the Education Act to appeal that decision to the Secretary General of the Department of Education and Science. A committee is established to hear the appeal with hearings conducted with a minimum of formality. In most cases appeals must be dealt with within 30 days. Where appropriate, the Secretary General may give whatever directions to the Board of Management that are considered necessary to remedy the matter complained of.

Details on appealing decisions on enrolment under section 29 of the Education Act are available on my Department's website at

www.education.ie.

Grant Payments.

Dan Neville

Ceist:

220 Mr. Neville asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason disability benefit is not reckonable as an entitlement for top up on third level grant; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38460/06]

The report of the Action Group on Access to Third Level Education made detailed recommendations concerning the introduction of special rates of maintenance grants for disadvantaged students, usually referred to as ‘top-up' grants.

The target group of "those most in need" was defined in terms of the dependants of people receiving long-term welfare payments, where the necessary conditions are fulfilled. The special rates of grant are also available to mature students who meet the prescribed conditions.

In order to qualify for the special rate of maintenance grant a candidate must meet a number of conditions, including the following:

(i) s/he must already qualify for one of my Department's ordinary maintenance grants; and

(ii) total reckonable income must not exceed the specified limit for the academic year in question; and

(iii) on the operative date the income into the household must include one of the specified long-term social welfare payments.

Disability Benefit is considered to be a short-term payment and, therefore, it is not included as an eligible payment for the purposes of the special rates of maintenance grant.

Defence Forces Training.

Ivor Callely

Ceist:

221 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Defence the progress of the Government task force on major emergency planning; the issues that have arisen from training and trials; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38259/06]

The Government Task Force on Emergency Planning continues to meet on a regular basis. The next meeting will be the 50th Task Force meeting since it was established in 2001. The Task Force promotes coordination of emergency planning across departments.

As chairman of the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning, I have continually stressed the importance that I attach to departments and key public authorities having structured exercise programmes in place. I believe that the development of these programmes is essential in order to refine and develop the arrangements that exist, to continuously improve them through review and revision, and to generally provide the basis for an increased confidence in the emergency planning process.

Many significant lessons are learned from the wide range of exercises, which are conducted on an ongoing basis. These include: the need for proper debriefings and a structured lessons learned process, the need to manage the provision of information to the public and the media, and the need to keep plans up-to-date. Also, regular exercises prove hugely important in identifying gaps and weaknesses and clarifying issues in relation to roles and responsibilities for responding to a particular emergency situation.

Question No. 222 answered with QuestionNo. 8.

Defence Forces Reserve.

Ivor Callely

Ceist:

223 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Defence the progress of recommendations for the re-organisation of the Reserve Defence Force; if there are difficulties arising with any aspect; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38261/06]

The White Paper on Defence outlines the blue print for a new Reserve Defence Force. The new Reserve will have a clearly defined role, an enhanced relationship with the PDF, better equipment and training and opportunities to serve on overseas peace support missions.

The Reserve Defence Force Review Implementation Plan, which was formally launched in July 2004, is progressing on schedule and the challenges presented by the plan are being met. This plan provides for the phased enhancement of Reserve capabilities over the period to end 2009. To date the Reserve has been reorganised along similar lines to the Permanent Defence Force with three Brigades, a Reserve Defence Force Training Authority located in the Defence Forces Training Centre in the Curragh and a dedicated Naval Service Reserve. These new organisational structures were introduced on 1st October 2005. In addition to the reorganisation, the Reserve has seen significant improvements in clothing, equipment and enhanced training opportunities.

The development of the integrated element of the Reserve is currently being progressed and it is planned to introduce elements of the integrated Reserve, on a pilot basis, in 2007. This element of the Reserve will provide personnel who will integrate with PDF units in contingency situations. The Integrated Reserve will be provided with enhanced military training and PDF unit commanders will be responsible for the training of such Reserve personnel.

The phased enhancement of Reserve capabilities and improvements in interoperability between the Reserve and the PDF, as provided for in the plan, are significant enablers in facilitating any future participation by Reserve personnel in overseas peace support missions.

While there are no immediate plans for participation by members of the Reserve in overseas missions, policies to support the selection of suitably qualified personnel for overseas duties will be developed over the lifetime of the Implementation Plan i.e. over the period to end 2009. In other countries, service by Reservists on overseas peace support missions is quite common, although as specified in the Plan, any such participation by members of the Reserve is likely to be in specialised areas such as medical, transport, engineering and communications and information services. This will also be subject to personnel having suitable qualifications, their personal availability and appropriate advance training.

Defence Forces Recruitment.

Ivor Callely

Ceist:

224 Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Defence his Department’s policy of equal opportunity for males and females in the Defence Forces; his views on the percentage of females in the force; the issues which have been brought to his attention regarding the equal opportunity policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38262/06]

The Government is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for men and women throughout the Defence Forces, in the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service and including the Reserve Defence Force, and to the full participation by women in all aspects of Defence Forces activities.

In effect this means that women are eligible on the same basis as men for participation in operational and ceremonial activities, for assignment to all military appointments, for educational and training courses, and for promotion. All female personnel undergo the same training and receive the same military education as their male counterparts. All applicants for service in the Defence Forces, both male and female, are interviewed on an equal basis and then placed in order of merit. It is not possible to give one gender priority over another as this would result in an equality issue.

All competition selection boards and general service interview boards are briefed on equality issues and specifically in relation to gender and diversity issues. All new entrants into the Defence Forces receive training during induction on equality and interpersonal relationships and on redress systems. All career courses and leadership seminars contain modules on equality and interpersonal relationships. All instructors are briefed on bullying and discrimination, and there is an instruction guiding instructors and students alike.

The Defence Forces have no restrictions or barriers to females serving in any appointment or in any rank. Selection and promotion is based on merit. Female strength levels in the Permanent Defence Force have increased from 4.4% of overall strength in 2001 to 5.23% of overall strength at the end of October 2006. In total there are currently 551 female personnel serving in the Permanent Defence Force. Over the past nine years, the strength of female personnel in the Permanent Defence Force has increased from 244 at the end of 1997 to 551 at present. This constitutes an increase of over 100% in the number of females serving over this period.

The government is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for men and women in the Defence Forces and to the full participation by women in all aspects of Defence Forces activities. I am, however, most anxious to ensure that every potential avenue for increasing the number of women applying to join and serve in the Defence Forces is maximised, within the framework of the Government policy of equal opportunity.

Accordingly, I have with effect from 1st September 2006 reduced the minimum height requirement for entry into both the Permanent Defence Force and the Reserve Defence Force from 162.56cm (5'4") to 157.48cm (5'2").

This change, which applies to both males and females, has the effect of increasing the annual recruitment pool of females from 60% to 90% and males from 97% to 98%. It is too early to gauge whether there has been a corresponding increase in the number of female applicants to the Defence Forces. However, I will closely monitor the situation over the coming months.

I must point out that height is not the only issue in encouraging more women to apply to join the Defence Forces and I have recently initiated more general research in this area. To this end, following a tendering process, TNS MRBI an independent market research company has been awarded the contract to undertake research into the issue of the recruitment and retention of women in the Defence Forces. The research will test women's attitudes to military life and to a career in the Defence Forces. The research, which has already commenced, will include interviews with currently serving female members of both the Permanent Defence Force and the Reserve Defence Force and with members of the general public. The results of the research will inform policy in this area for the future. TNS MRBI is due to complete the research by the end of 2006 with the finalised report due in early 2007.

Appointments to State Boards.

Dan Boyle

Ceist:

225 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for Defence the statutory processes involved in the appointment of chairs and members of non-Departmental public bodies under the remit of his Department and their legislative origin. [38338/06]

The statutory processes involved in the appointment of chairs and members of non-Departmental public bodies under the remit of my Department and their legislative origin are as follows:

Civil Defence Board.

The members of the Civil Defence Board were appointed with effect from 5 June 2005. Under Section 7 of the Civil Defence Act 2002, the terms of office of a member of the Board shall not exceed 3 years.

Section 11 of the Civil Defence Act 2002 provides:

"that Board shall consist of at least 8 but not more than 14 members who shall be appointed by the Minister."

"that not less than 4 of the members of the Board shall be women and not less than 4 shall be men."

"that the Minister shall designate one member of the Board as Chairperson." Section 11 (2) provides that:

"The members of the Board shall be:

(a) the Director General

(b) a person nominated by the County and Managers Association

(c) 4 persons, who, in the opinion of the Minister, have experience in business, industry, finance or administration relevant to the Board's functions

(d) a person nominated by the Minister for the Environment and Local Government who, in the opinion of that Minister, has relevant experience or expertise relating to emergency planning

(e) a person nominated by the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland

(f) a person nominated by the Environmental Protection Agency

(g) a member of the Civil Defence Officers Association nominated by it

(h) an officer of the Defence Forces nominated by the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces

(i) a member of the Garda Síochána nominated by the Commissioner of the Garda Síochána, and

(j) subject to being elected

(i) a volunteer member of the Civil Defence, and

(ii) a member of the Staff of the Board."

Irish Red Cross

The Irish Red Cross Society was established on 1 July 1939. While performing an important statutory function (it is tasked with the dissemination of information on humanitarian law, the Geneva Convention and its additional protocols to which Ireland is a signatory), the Society is an autonomous body, run by the Central Council through the Executive Committee.

The Central Council of the Irish Red Cross Society consists of members elected by the various Society Areas throughout the country and of members nominated by Government.

The current appointees term of office expires 30 April 2009.

Government nominations to Central Council are made pursuant to Article 8 (4) (C) (i) of the Irish Red Cross Society Order 1939.

The President, on the advice of the Government, nominates a person to be Chairman of the Society pursuant to Article 9 (4) of the Irish Red Cross Society Order, 1939.

The President of Ireland, by virtue of their office, shall be President of the Society, pursuant to the Red Cross Act 1944.

Persons nominated by Government are selected for the experience and benefit they will bring to the Society, e.g. financial, medical, business acumen, etc. The Central Council meets twice yearly on policy issues or if the need arises a special meeting of Council is arranged.

Government nominees must make up at least one third of Central Council under the legislation. There are also elected members from each of the areas, namely 27 elected members. Members are elected/nominated for a three-year period which overlaps so as to maintain continuity.

The Executive Committee of the Society is elected by Central Council from within its own ranks. It meets monthly and runs the day to day affairs of the Society on behalf of the Central Council.

Coiste an Asgard

Coiste on Asgard is a company limited by guarantee established under the Companies Acts. The Articles of Association of An Coiste provide that the Minister for Defence is ex-officio the chairman of the board of directors and that he may appoint not more than 14 other directors.

Ombudsman for the Defence Forces.

Ombudsman for the Defence Forces is head of the Office of the Ombudsman for the Defence Forces and is appointed by the President, acting upon the recommendation of the Government, under Section 2 of the Ombudsman (Defence Forces) Act 2004.

Defence Forces Equipment.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

226 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence the extent to which all obsolete aircraft have been replaced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38432/06]

The older obsolete aircraft, six Marchetti aircraft, four Dauphin helicopters and one Gazelle helicopter have been disposed of or are in the process of being disposed of by tender competitions.

The obsolete aircraft have been replaced by the arrival of eight new Pilatus aircraft and two EC 135 helicopters and the planned arrival of two AW 139 helicopters in November 2006 and two in 2007.

Question No. 227 answered with QuestionNo. 23.

Defence Forces Strength.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

228 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence if he has satisfied himself regarding the strength of the Navy with particular reference to maintaining a sufficiently high degree of coastal surveillance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38434/06]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

230 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence the strength of the Army, Navy and Air Corp, male and female by rank; the extent to which it is intended to increase the strength of the forces in anticipation of overseas deployment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38436/06]

I propose to answer Questions Nos. 228 and 230 together.

The strength of the Permanent Defence Force on 31 October 2006, the latest date for which detailed figures are available, as advised by the military authorities was 10,357. A detailed breakdown of the numbers in the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps by rank and gender are set out in the following Tabular Statement. The White Paper on Defence of February 2000 set out a figure of 10,500 personnel for the Permanent Defence Force, comprising 930 for the Air Corps, 1,144 for the Naval Service and 8,426 for the Army. It is my intention to maintain the established Government policy of ongoing recruitment to the Defence Forces. Recruitment into the Permanent Defence Force will continue to maintain the strength at the level set out in the White Paper as required to meet military needs. The Defence Forces continue to have a proactive approach to all aspects of recruiting.

The Defence Forces manage recruit intakes to keep its annualised monthly average strength at or around 10,500. The strength of the Defence Forces as at 31 December in the years 2003, 2004 and 2005 respectively was 10,498, 10,551 and 10,446. There is a planned total intake of 255 personnel (Cadets, Apprentices & General Enlistment) before the end of 2006, with an expected outflow of 150 personnel in the same period. Recruit intake will be finalised in December 2006 to ensure that the annualised monthly average strength is at or around 10,500.

The White Paper on Defence provides for an allocation of up to 850 Permanent Defence Force personnel to be deployed overseas at any one time through the United Nations Standby Arrangements System (UNSAS). While this may be exceeded for short periods, deployments above this level are not sustainable on an ongoing basis within existing resources. Any commitments to EU or UN missions will be met within this context. Currently, there are 821 Defence Forces personnel deployed on overseas operations. There are no plans to increase the numbers serving in the Defence Forces above the levels provided for in the White Paper.

The Naval Service has a fleet of eight vessels, two of which are classed as Coastal Patrol Vessels (CPV). All the ships include coastal areas in their patrol patterns. The fleet completes around 1680 patrol days per annum and, on a daily basis, an average of over four naval vessels are deployed on patrol throughout the year. The ships carry radar and Automatic Identification System (AIS) receptors on board and use these to monitor activity around them. They are supported from the Naval Base by the Fishery Monitoring System which tracks fishing vessel activity. The Naval Service has met the requirements of its operational tasking to date.

Strength of the Defence Forces 31 October 2006

Lt Gen

Maj Gen

Brig Gen

Col

Lt Col

Comdt

Capt

Lt

Total Offrs

SM

BQMS

CS

CQMS

SGTS

CPLS

Total NCOS

PTES

Cadets

Total

Army

1

2

6

39

127

324

301

270

1,070

34

37

135

241

1,029

1,561

3,037

4,247

40

8,394

Air Corps

0

0

1

2

14

30

45

44

136

7

3

52

14

130

185

391

325

26

878

Naval Service

0

0

1

2

12

46

47

50

158

6

7

77

16

205

197

508

403

16

1,085

Lt Gen = Lieutenant General

SM = Sergeant Major

Maj Gen = Major General

BQMS = Battalion Quartermaster Sergeant

Brig Gen = Brigadier General

CS = Company Sergeant

Col = Colonel

CQMS = Company Quartermaster Sergeant

Lt Col = Lieutenant Colonel

SGTS = Sergeants

Comdt = Commandant

CPLS = Corporals

Capt = Captain

NCOS = Non Commissioned Officers

Lt = Lieutenant

PTES = Privates

Strength of Males in the Defence Forces 31 October 2006

Lt Gen

Maj Gen

Brig Gen

Col

Lt Col

Comdt

Capt

Lt

Total Offrs

SM

BQMS

CS

CQMS

SGTS

CPLS

Total NCOS

PTES

Cadets

Total

Army

1

2

6

39

126

309

258

229

970

34

37

132

240

1,018

1,454

2,915

4,033

26

7,944

Air Corps

0

0

1

2

14

30

43

42

132

7

3

51

14

129

174

378

311

25

846

Naval Service

0

0

1

2

12

46

40

41

142

6

7

77

16

205

189

500

364

10

1,016

Strength of Females in the Defence Forces 31 October 2006

Lt Gen

Maj Gen

Brig Gen

Col

Lt Col

Comdt

Capt

Lt

Total Offrs

SM

BQMS

CS

CQMS

SGTS

CPLS

Total NCOS

PTES

Cadets

Total

Army

0

0

0

0

1

15

43

41

100

0

0

3

1

11

107

122

214

14

450

Air Corps

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

2

4

0

0

1

0

1

11

13

14

1

32

Naval Service

0

0

0

0

0

0

7

9

16

0

0

0

0

0

8

8

39

6

69

Defence Forces Equipment.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

229 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence the extent to which military hardware has been upgraded, including vehicles and weapons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38435/06]

The ongoing equipment modernization programme ensures that the Defence Forces are fully equipped with the most modern of equipment for their day to day roles at home and on overseas missions. The equipment issued to the Defence Forces is in keeping with the most modern standards. Continual investment in the Defence Forces will ensure that this remains to be the case.

Question No. 230 answered with QuestionNo. 228.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

231 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence if all members of the Defence Forces are being issued with the necessary breathing apparatus or protective armour for use in the event of a gas or chemical attack; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38437/06]

The Defence Forces have available to them equipment for monitoring and protecting their members in dealing with Nuclear, Biological or Chemical (NBC) threats should such arise. They hold an extensive range of modern NBC equipment that meets their current requirements. This range includes approximately 9,500 NBC suits, of which 800 were delivered in January 2006. In addition, the Defence Forces has sufficient stock of Respirators for each individual soldier. They also have 98 of the most technologically up to date Chemical Agent Monitors and Defence Forces personnel have been trained on their operation. Other equipment on hands includes Biological Agent Detector and Screening Kits, Group Decontamination Equipment and Personal Decontamination Equipment. The requirement for additional NBC equipment is kept under continuous review by the Defence Forces. A programme for the purchase of NBC equipment is ongoing and whatever equipment deemed necessary is purchased expeditiously to meet the changing requirements.

The Deputy specifically refers to body armour. In that regard, a tender competition was held in 2005 for the provision of body armour for the individual soldier on operational duties. An order has now been placed for 6000 units for delivery this year. The new body armour provides significantly greater protection, comfort and coverage than the old model as well as a doubling of the range of sizes available.

Questions Nos. 232 to 234, inclusive, answered with Question No. 32.

Defence Forces Promotions.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

235 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence the number of Army, Air Corp and Navy promotions approved in 2006 and those pending; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38441/06]

The number of Army, Air Corps and Naval Service promotions approved or pending in 2006, as advised by the military authorities, is provided in the form of a Tabular Statement which I propose to circulate with the Official Report.

Officer Promotions

Service

Promotions

Promotions Pending

Army

129

5

Air Corps

23

Nil

Naval Service

11

Nil

Total

163

5

Enlisted Personnel Promotions

Service

Promotions

Promotions Pending

Army

225

128

Air Corps

19

12

Naval Service

104

8

Total

348

148

Army Barracks.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

236 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence the number of personnel currently in overholders accommodation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38442/06]

Personnel on being discharged from the Permanent Defence Force are obliged to vacate married quarters within a short period of the dates of their discharge. There are 56 married quarters currently overheld. The provision of housing is primarily a matter for the local authorities and married personnel have an equal claim on such housing as other members of the community in the same income category. My Department is continuing to examine all options, including affordable housing and voluntary and co-op housing schemes, in relation to the re-housing of those overholders who would in the normal way be eligible for Local Authority Housing.

Local Authority Housing.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

237 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position of proposals for the refurbishment of houses (details supplied) in County Kildare; his views on permitting the local authority to carry out the refurbishment on their own housing sector in view of the fact that the overall project is being delayed due to problems that do not effect the councils tenants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38279/06]

It is the responsibility of Athy Town Council to determine how best to advance the Remedial Works Scheme in Townspark and to develop proposals in order to proceed with refurbishment works to local authority dwellings. My Department will give consideration to proposals put forward by the Council.

Water and Sewerage Schemes.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

238 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding a project (details supplied) in County Mayo; the stage it is at; the breakdown of each stage to date; and when this project will commence construction. [38300/06]

I refer to the reply to Question No. 316 of 28 September 2006.

Planning Issues.

David Stanton

Ceist:

239 Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if a minimum time limit exists by which housing estates have to be taken in charge by local authorities; his views on same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38307/06]

Section 180 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 provides that, where an estate is completed to the standard outlined in the planning permission, the planning authority must initiate taking in charge procedures as soon as may be following a request do so by the developer or by the majority of the owners or occupiers. Similarly, where an estate has not been completed to the standard outlined in the planning permission and the planning authority has not taken enforcement action within the appropriate period, the planning authority must also initiate taking in charge procedures if requested to do so by the owners/occupiers. The decision as whether any particular estate should be taken in charge is ultimately one for the elected members of the planning authority.

Waste Management.

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

240 Ms C. Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the amount allocated to each county from the environment fund since 2002; the number by county of civic amenity sites at present; the number by county currently being considered for grant aid by his Department; if a review into the cost of operation of civic amenity sites has been conducted; if such a review has been undertaken, the results of same; if not, if it is intended to conduct such a review; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38323/06]

The information requested is set out in the following table.

My Department is conscious of the escalating costs to local authorities of operating the substantially increased network of recycling facilities. This is reflected in increased funding of €8m from the Environment Fund in 2006 in respect of such operational costs. The costs incurred by local authorities are regularly reviewed to ensure that the available funding is distributed in an equitable manner.

Waste Management Grants — Allocations to Local Authorities Since 2002

Local Authority

Number of Civic Amenity Sites

Allocated Operational Funding for Recycling Facilities Including Bring Banks

Allocated Capital Grant Funding

No. of applications currently under consideration

€M

Carlow

3

513,770

0.334

Cavan

2

350,940

0.948

Clare

4

695,460

2.433

1

Cork County

9

2,639,800

3.637

Donegal

3

338,110

3.209

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown

2

1,095,730

0.183

Fingal

4

1,521,060

1.239

Galway County incl. Timpeallacht na nOileán

4

894,670

2.291

Kerry

5

631,355

2.051

Kildare

2

425,850

3.313

Kilkenny

1

530,620

0.453

Laois

1

354,770

1.541

Leitrim

2

168,740

1.117

Limerick County

4

446,850

4.654

Longford

0

57,320

0.888

Louth

2

748,660

3.252

Mayo

2

742,500

0.65

Meath

2

1,037,320

1.29

Monaghan

1

394,540

1.83

North Tipperary

2

447,475

1.241

Offaly

2

253,500

2.389

Roscommon

3

853,290

2.774

Sligo

1

148,000

1.346

South Dublin

1

996,280

0.048

South Tipperary

2

276,285

2.175

Waterford County

3

953,330

5.676

Westmeath

2

374,240

1.828

Wexford

2

645,870

1.67

2

Wicklow

4

760,820

4.117

City Councils

Cork

1

496,000

1.422

Dublin

2

2,598,200

27.716

3

Galway

0

134,850

3.44

Limerick

1

209,280

0.119

Waterford

1

264,140

2.47

Totals

80

22,999,625

93.744

6

Rail Network.

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

241 Ms C. Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has received a railway order relating to the Kildare route project seeking his consent for the commencement of some provisions of the order affecting roads; if he has given his consent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38324/06]

Under section 44(2)(b) of the Transport (Railway Infrastructure) Act 2001, the consent of the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government is required regarding the acquisition of rights in, under or over any public road specified in a Railway Order made under that Act. On 26 August 2006,the Department of Transport forwarded a draft Order to my Department in respect of CIE's application for a Railway Order for the Kildare Route Project and my Department is now finalising its consideration of this.

Local Authority Services.

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

242 Ms C. Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if, in instances where there is a consistent level of poor performance in areas that are the subject to local government service indicators, analysis is undertaken to examine the cause of this poor performance and action taken to combat these causes, for example including provision of additional resources; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38325/06]

The first two reports on local authority service indicators in respect of 2004 and 2005 were published by the Local Government Management Services Board in mid 2005 and 2006 respectively. I consider that it is too early at this stage to establish trends in individual local authority performance on the lines suggested in the Question, although the trends overall as shown in the 2005 report are moving in the right direction. I have, however, asked each local authority to review its own performance across the range of indicators and in the light of the performance by other local authorities. In addition I have also requested them to reflect on any disparities and variations in the results contained in the two reports to date and to put in place strategies to ensure their own performance is improved on an ongoing basis, if necessary.

Register of Electors.

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

243 Ms C. Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the basis on which he is considering providing additional resources to local authorities in relation to the ongoing review of the electoral register; if the current advertising campaign is funded from the €6 million already announced, €3 million which was made available to local authorities in July 2006 for fieldwork on the project; if consultants have been engaged to organise and run the advertising campaign; if so, the persons engaged and the amount expended for this purpose; the measures being put in place for future years if consideration is being given to removing part of the function to local authorities regarding the compilation of the electoral register; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38326/06]

In law, the preparation of the Register of Electors is a matter for each local registration authority. It is their duty to ensure, as far as possible and with the cooperation of the public, the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the Register. In April 2006, I announced a package of measures to assist local authorities in their work on preparing the 2007/8 Register, which included a commitment to provide additional ring-fenced financial resources to support local authorities' own spending in respect of the register campaign. I advised authorities that a contribution of some €6 million can be made available in this regard. An initial allocation of some €3 million, based on the number of households in each local authority area, was made available in July to local authorities for registration work, with the balance of this funding to be made available following completion of the registration work.

As regards publicity and awareness, a two-stage approach has been developed, involving information notices followed by an intensive media campaign. Information notices were published in the national press on 19-21 August, urging co-operation with local register campaigns. In addition, a national publicity and awareness campaign involving TV, radio, press and outdoor advertising commenced on 11 September and will run until 25 November (the closing date for submitting corrections to the Draft Register). Following a competitive tender process, Young Euro RSCG were appointed to undertake a publicity and awareness campaign in relation to the Register. Some €1 million is being spent on the campaign. This is additional to the funding being provided to local authorities. I have already indicated that, in addition to short-term action to improve the quality of the Register, I am open to consideration of longer options for change in this regard on a consensus basis.

Appointments to State Boards.

Dan Boyle

Ceist:

244 Mr. Boyle asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the statutory processes involved in the appointment of chairs and members of non-Departmental public bodies under the remit of his Department and their legislative origin. [38341/06]

The statutory processes involved in the appointment of chairs and members of public bodies under the aegis of my Department are set out as follows.

An Bord Pleanála

Statutory processes involved in appointment of Chairperson and Members:

The Chairperson is appointed by the Government from a panel of up to three persons nominated by a prescribed selection committee.

The appointment of Ordinary Members of An Bord Pleanála is made by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government following consideration of nominations received from relevant prescribed panels.

Relevant legislation/regulations:

Planning and Development Act 2000

Planning and Development Regulations 2001

Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Act 2006

Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Act 2006 (Commencement) (No. 2) Order 2006.

An Chomhairle Leabharlanna

Statutory processes involved in appointment of Chairperson and Members:

The Council is composed of a Chairperson and 12 Ordinary Members. Ten of the Council's 12 members are appointed by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government on the nomination of certain specified bodies and two on the direct appointment of the Minister. The Chairperson is appointed by the Minister following consultation with the Minister for Education and Science.

Relevant legislation/regulations:

Local Government (An Chomhairle Leabharlanna) Regulations 1997 as amended by the Local Government (An Chomhairle Leabharlanna) (Amendment) Regulations 2003.

Affordable Homes Partnership

Statutory processes involved in appointment of Chairperson and Members:

The Chairperson and other Members of the Board of the Affordable Homes Partnership are appointed by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

The Board comprises: four persons, including the Chairperson, appointed at the discretion of the Minister; four persons from among the managers of Dublin City Council and Fingal, South Dublin, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, Meath, Kildare and Wicklow County Councils; and the Chief Executive Officer of the Partnership.

Relevant legislation/regulations:

Affordable Homes Partnership (Establishment) Order 2005.

Building Regulations Advisory Body

Statutory processes involved in appointment of Chairperson and Members:

The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government appoints Chairperson and Members of the Building Regulations Advisory Body.

Relevant legislation/regulations:

Building Control Act 1990.

Dublin Docklands Development Authority

Statutory processes involved in appointment of Chairperson and Members:

The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government appoints the Chairperson.

The Council consists of the Chairperson and 25 ordinary members. Membership is composed of:

two officials of the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government,

one person nominated by CIÉ,

one person nominated by Bord Gáis Éireann,

one person nominated by the ESB,

one person nominated by the Dublin City Manager,

five persons nominated by Dublin City Council,

one person nominated by the CEO of Dublin Port Company,

one person nominated by the Director of the Dublin Transportation Office,

eight persons nominated by organisations prescribed by the Minister to do so, and

four persons directly appointed by the Minister.

The Executive Board consists of the Chairperson and 7 ordinary Directors. The ordinary Directors are appointed by the Minister.

Relevant legislation/regulations:

Dublin Docklands Development Act 1997.

Environmental Protection Agency

Statutory processes involved in appointment of Chairperson and Members:

The Board of the Environmental Protection Agency comprises a Director General and four Directors. All are appointed by Government from a panel of up to three persons nominated by a prescribed selection committee.

Relevant legislation/regulations:

Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992

Environmental Protection Agency (Selected Procedures) Regulations 2004.

Fire Services Council

Statutory processes involved in appointment of Chairperson and Members:

The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government appoints a Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson and ordinary members to the Fire Services Council.

Relevant legislation/regulations:

The Fire Services Act, 1981

The Fire Services Council (Establishment) Order 1983.

Heritage Council

Statutory processes involved in appointment of Chairperson and Members:

The Council is appointed by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and must comprise a Chairperson and not fewer than 14 or more than 16 ordinary Members. At least seven appointments must be men and seven women.

Relevant legislation/regulations:

The Heritage Act 1995.

Housing Finance Agency

Statutory processes involved in appointment of Chairperson and Members:

The Chairperson and Directors are appointed by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government with the consent of the Minister for Finance.

Relevant legislation/regulations:

Housing Finance Agency Act 1981 as amended.

Memorandum and Articles of Association of Agency.

Irish Water Safety

Statutory processes involved in appointment of Chairperson and Members:

The Minister appoints a Council which shall consist of not more than 13 Members and of whom 5 shall be representatives of local water safety interests.

The Minister also appoints the Chairperson of the Council, who shall be a Member of the Council.

Relevant legislation/regulations:

Irish Water Safety (Establishment) Order 2006

Section 3 of the Local Government Services (Corporate Bodies) Act 1971.

Local Government Computer Services Board

Statutory processes involved in appointment of Chairperson and Members:

Two Members of the Board are appointed by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and one is appointed by the Minister for Finance. The Council of the Board (City and County Managers and Assistant Managers) appoint the other eight Board Members.

Relevant legislation/regulations:

Local Government Computer Services Board (Establishment) Order 1975.

Local Government Management Services Board

Statutory processes involved in appointment of Chairperson and Members:

The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government appoints 3 officers or his/her Department by Order. The Council of the Board (City and County Managers and Assistant Managers) appoint the other Board Members.

Relevant legislation/regulations:

The Local Government Management Services Board (Establishment) Order 1996.

National Building Agency

Statutory processes involved in appointment of Chairperson and Members:

The Minister, after consultation with the Minister for Finance, appoints the Chairman and Directors of the Agency.

Relevant legislation/regulations:

National Building Agency Limited Act 1963.

Private Residential Tenancies Board

Statutory processes involved in appointment of Chairperson and Members:

The Chairperson and Members of the Private Residential Tenancies Board are appointed by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. Members shall be persons who in the Minister's opinion have experience in a field of expertise relevant to the Board's functions.

Relevant legislation/regulations:

Residential Tenancies Act 2004.

Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland

Statutory processes involved in appointment of Chairperson and Members:

The Chairperson and up to 11 Members are appointed by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government with the consent of the Minister for Finance. Not more than 5 Members must be engaged in or have knowledge or experience in prescribed fields. Up to 6 persons may be nominated for appointment to the Board by such organisations as the Minister may determine that are representative of prescribed fields. The Minister can then appoint from among these nominations.

Relevant legislation/regulations:

Radiological Protection Act 1991.

Rent Tribunal

Statutory processes involved in appointment of Chairperson and Members:

The Chairperson, Vice-chair and Members of the Rent Tribunal are appointed by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. The Minister also determines the number of ordinary Members as, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, he/she considers necessary from time to time for the performance by the Tribunal of its functions.

Relevant legislation/regulations:

Housing (Private Rented Dwellings) (Amendment) Act 1983.

Housing (Rent Tribunal) Regulations 1983.