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 4, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 5 to 65, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 66 to 72, inclusive, answered orally.

Import Tariffs.

David Stanton

Ceist:

73 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the details of the proposed World Trade Organisation import tariff cuts on the main farm sectors; if her Department has conducted research and calculation on the impact she expects these proposed cuts to have on farming here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13009/08]

The level of tariff reduction commitments to be applied in the next WTO Round are still the subject of the ongoing negotiations. These tariff reduction commitments are only one of a significant number of outstanding issues in these negotiations. The Chair of the WTO Agriculture Committee issued his latest draft agriculture modalities paper in February 2008. This paper outlines the methodology for tariff reductions and the range of tariff reductions which are currently under consideration. The tariff reduction formula provides for four bands of tariffs grouping the products with the lowest current tariffs in the bottom band and those with the highest current tariffs in the top band. The formula also provides for higher reductions for products in the top tariff band, that is the products with the highest current tariffs.

The Chair's text proposes tariff reductions of between 66% and 73% for tariff lines in the highest tariff band. In terms of the EU tariff structure the highest tariff band includes beef, butter and some sheep tariff lines. If this level of tariff reduction were applied in full it would represent a huge challenge on the EU market for EU production of these products which are competing with third country imports.

The tariff reduction formula is one element of the agriculture market access negotiations. The Chair's text also provides for the designation by each WTO member country of a certain number of tariff lines as so called ‘sensitive products'. The Chair states the number of lines which could be designated as sensitive should be in the range of 4-6% of total tariff lines. This designation provides for a reduction of up to two thirds from the tariff reduction which would normally apply under the proposed tariff reduction formula. However sensitive product designation also involves the creation of new Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQs). These new TRQs will be calculated for each product designated as sensitive on the basis of a percentage of domestic consumption of those products. The detailed methodology and level of these TRQs is also still the subject of ongoing negotiation, and the outcome of these discussions will therefore have a strong influence on any decision to declare sensitive products status for a particular product.

As I have outlined, there are a significant number of outstanding issues which are the subject of the ongoing negotiations in relation to import tariffs. The manner in which sensitive products are dealt with will be crucial to the access debate.

The outcome of this facet of the negotiations represents a key priority for me. I fully recognize the importance of the EU market for Irish agricultural exports and I will therefore be seeking to ensure that the outcome to these negotiations does not undermine this crucial and key market for Irish products.

Farm Improvement Scheme.

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

74 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food further to Parliamentary Question No. 331 of 13 November 2007, the number of applications and the amount applied for in grants under the farm improvement grants scheme received by each of the offices and sub offices of her Department by 22 October 2007; if applications received by the end of October 2007 will be included for consideration; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13085/08]

12,675 applications were received by my Department under the Farm Improvement Scheme prior to its suspension on 31 October 2007. A county-by-county breakdown of these applications is as follows:—

County

Number of Applications

Carlow

176

Cavan

675

Clare

510

Cork

1,863

Donegal

931

Dublin

29

Galway

850

Kerry

875

Kildare

133

Kilkenny

519

Laois

336

Leitrim

375

Limerick

368

Longford

218

Louth

209

Mayo

740

Meath

272

Monaghan

362

Offaly

282

Roscommon

484

Sligo

255

Tipperary

895

Waterford

487

Westmeath

274

Wexford

295

Wicklow

262

Total

12,675

These applications are currently being processed within my Department up to the level of funding made available for the Scheme in the 2006 Partnership agreement, Towards 2016. The detailed information is assessed at the approval rather than the application stage under this Scheme.

Food Labelling.

Liz McManus

Ceist:

75 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the progress she is making on ensuring a more comprehensive labelling system for meat and food products imported into this country for sale; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13078/08]

The Minister for Health & Children has overall responsibility for the general food labelling legislation. Responsibility for enforcement of labelling legislation rests with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) through its service contracts with my Department, the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, the Health Services Executive, the Local Authorities and the National Consumer Agency.

As regards meat and meat products, EU beef labelling legislation requiring country of origin labelling of beef has been in place since September 2000. As this legislation did not cover beef sold by the catering trade I collaborated with the Minister for Health & Children to have national legislation enacted to require that all beef sold or served in the retail or catering sector is now required to carry an indication of the country of origin. This legislation is also enforced by the FSAI.

In relation to poultry meat, there are EU Regulations, which provide for the labelling of unprocessed poultrymeat at retail level. The Regulations require such poultry meat to be labelled with the information regarding class, price, condition, registered number of slaughterhouse or cutting plant and, where imported from a Third Country, an indication of country of origin.

My Department, in conjunction with the Department of Health and Children, drafted regulations that would require the country of origin to be indicated on pigmeat, poultry and sheepmeat. This was notified to the EU Commission in December 2007 as required by legislation. The Commission was not prepared to adopt the draft regulations in their present format on the grounds that the proposed legislation is not in compliance with EU food labelling regulations. However, it indicated that it will reconsider the draft measures once we have submitted additional explanatory information. This information is currently being prepared for transmission to the Commission. I will continue to press for progress, as I believe consumers are entitled to full information on the labelling of food products.

Aquaculture Industry.

Michael D. Higgins

Ceist:

76 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will press the European Commission for an EU strategy to support a sustainable fish and shellfish farming sector to redress the balance of seafood imports in the community; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13069/08]

In December 2006 the Government and Industry both welcomed the launch of the strategy for a restructured, sustainable and profitable Irish seafood industry for the period 2007 to 2013. More commonly known as the Cawley Report, it set out the strategy and recommendations which are now very much Government policy and which have my full and wholehearted support. A very important part of this strategy of course includes the development of the aquaculture industry to its full potential. To ensure its implementation, I established the Seafood Strategy Implementation Group (SSIG) under the chairmanship of Dr Cawley himself and I am very pleased to inform you this group has been very active in the last year.

The Cawley Report recognised the key challenges facing the aquaculture sector as:

The current licensing and regulatory regime

Prevention/control/monitoring of disease outbreaks/biotoxins

Improved marketing performance on the basis of eco-quality and innovative products.

The Report clearly identified a market led opportunity for aquaculture derived seafood products to fill the widening gap between supply and demand particularly with the constraints on the capture fishery under TAC's and quotas. The key focus areas were identified as Marine and Freshwater Farmed Finfish, Bottom and Rope Grown Mussels and Pacific Oysters.

The Cawley Report envisages a 30% increase in the value of the output of the Irish seafood sector, from its current value of €702 million to €911 million in 2015. This projected increase is calculated on the basis that there will be a 54% increase in the volume of farmed shellfish and a doubling of the volume of farmed finfish.

At EU level a review process in relation to the aquaculture industry is already in hand and is at a reasonably advanced stage. DG MARE, the directorate of the EU Commission with responsibility for fish and shellfish farming, is currently engaged in an extensive review and consultative process with a view to bringing forward a revised policy and strategy for the sustainable development of the aquaculture sector in Europe. The issue of the trade imbalance of seafood imports is an integral part of the process and the Commission have stated that it is a priority to attempt to improve the current situation.

Ireland is actively participating in this process and officials and industry representatives attended a major conference on the new EU strategy at the end of last year.

Farm Improvement Scheme.

Catherine Byrne

Ceist:

77 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the situation regarding outstanding applications for the farm improvement scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13024/08]

The Farm Improvement Scheme was launched by my Department in July 2007. The funding for the Scheme was agreed under the Partnership agreement, Towards 2016, as part of an overall programme of investment in the agri-food sector. A total of €350 million was provided for farm waste and other on-farm investment measures, of which €79 million was provided for the Farm Improvement Scheme. I indicated, at the time of its launch, that the Scheme would be terminated when this financial ceiling had been reached and this was also specifically provided for in the terms and conditions of the Scheme.

12,675 applications were received under the Farm Improvement Scheme prior to its suspension on 31 October 2007. These applications are currently being processed up to the level of funding made available for the Scheme under the 2006 Partnership agreement, Towards 2016.

Animal Feedstuffs.

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

78 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food her views on the expected impending meat scarcity due to increasing feed prices; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13051/08]

It is difficult to be definitive on the question of adequacy of meat supplies in the long-term as there are many variables at play in addition to feed costs. The variables include population growth, consumer tastes, climate change and land use. These will influence both supply and demand. For the medium-term, however, the FAPRI outlook for EU and Irish agriculture, published in October 2007, provides some useful projections for meat production up to 2016:

There will be a gradual decrease in indigenous EU beef production of the order of 7% over the projected period.

In the sheep sector, a 6% decline in EU meat output leading to an increase in lamb imports of almost 9% is forecast.

EU pigmeat production will likely increase by 4% which, combined with lower export volumes, will leave the Community more than self sufficient in this sector.

Poultry output is forecast to increase by almost 5% in the EU and all the indications are for strong growth in imports also.

Overall, it is expected that the EU meat market will remain in equilibrium through a combination of adjusted domestic production and imports. There is no evidence at this stage to support the view that there will be a scarcity of meat. Recent reforms of the Common Agriculture Policy mean that the food industry is better positioned to respond to actual market demand and I believe that a satisfactory market balance will be found in the meat sector.

In the specific Irish context, it is, of course, the case that our beef production is generally grass based and is consequently less affected by feed price increases. Furthermore, Ireland is a significant beef exporter, exporting in 2007 over 90% of our production, making us the largest net beef exporter in Europe and this is likely to remain the case.

Feed costs have no doubt become a big issue for the intensive pig and poultry production sectors in the past year. In line with the general increases in prices of commodities world wide, Irish tillage farmers have benefited from an increase in the price of cereals of at least 50% during the last 12 months. The price of certain imported feed materials has increased by as much as 80%. This has resulted in compound feed prices that are 30% ahead than at the same time last year. Increased cereal planting consequent on the modification of set-aside rules should result in an easing of prices for native grains from the 2008 harvest, but prices are expected to be still well above the level that prevailed in 2006. Import duties have been abolished on certain feedstuffs coming from non-EU countries and it is hoped that this will also add to feed availability.

I have taken action to address the difficulties being experienced by pig producers with a view to maintaining a strong production base here. With support from like-minded colleagues, I succeeded in having EU support measures introduced. An aids-to private storage scheme was available during November 2007 and a scheme of export refunds is currently in place. These have resulted in improved prices.

This question brings into focus the whole issue of food security. It is an important issue for the global agriculture economy and is one that will no doubt attract growing attention in the decades ahead. While I do not believe that there is a cause for concern at this stage this is an area we need to be mindful of in our consideration of the future direction of the CAP. The correct environment needs to be in place to encourage farmers everywhere to produce an adequate supply of safe food in a manner that is consistent with good animal welfare and environmental protection standards and the marketplace must reward these farmers in a satisfactory manner.

Beef Industry.

Seymour Crawford

Ceist:

79 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if her Department has carried out analysis of the economic impact on the Irish beef industry of the decision to re-open Brazilian beef markets to the EU; if she has received copies of reports outlining the result of the most recent FVO visits to Brazil; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13034/08]

In 2007 Brazil exported some 360,000 tonnes to the EU. The current position is that less than 100 farms are approved to export to the EU. It is not possible for us to assess the % of exports that these farms constitute but it is widely accepted as being very small. A formal economic analysis has not been carried out nor would it be feasible. The sector has performed well over recent months with prices up 12% for steers, 11% for heifers and 15% for cows.

The Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) has prepared its report on the most recent mission it carried out to Brazil from 6 to 9 November 2007 to evaluate animal health controls in place in that country, in particular over foot and mouth disease and public health control systems and certification systems. I understand that the report will shortly be made available on its website.

Following on from the FVO's initial findings on this mission the Commission identified serious instances of non-compliance with regard to holding registration, animal identification and movement control and a failure to take corrective actions following commitments given to the FVO at earlier missions undertaken since 2003. While public health controls were considered to be adequate the Commission considered urgent measures were necessary to protect animal and public health in the face of these shortcomings.

In December the Commission introduced a proposal at the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) providing additional certification requirements as to the origin of beef for export to the EU. This requires that beef originates on holdings that provide for full identification and registration of animals under the national system and which are under veterinary control. The Commission's proposals seek to guarantee that exports to the EU originate from :

Bovine animals from holdings where animals have not been introduced from non-approved areas in Brazil during 90 days,

That they are identified and registered in the national identification system for bovine animals,

That the holdings are listed as approved holdings, following a favourable inspection and report by the Competent Authority, in TRACES and

Inspections are regularly carried out by the competent authority to ensure that the relevant requirements for export to the EU are assured.

I consider these arrangements, which included provisions to maintain exports to the EU for a transitional period, did not appropriately address shortcomings and risks identified in the previous missions and instructed my officials to vote against the Commission's proposal to introduce more restrictive measures rather than a complete ban.

In the period since the end of the transitional period on 15 March 2008 the relative absence of confirmations by the Brazilian competent authorities of holdings that are operating to these requirements would indicate it will be some time before these issues can be resolved. The Commission's recent audit of some of the holdings submitted for listing as meeting EU export requirements has also confirmed this.

My Department has received the report of the November 2007 FVO visit to Brazil and has requested the EU Commission to place it on the agenda of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health.

Pigmeat Sector.

Phil Hogan

Ceist:

80 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the measures she will introduce to alleviate the difficulty facing the pig industry, in view of the clear disparity between the profitability of the pig market at EU level when compared to the Irish sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13056/08]

A clear disparity does not exist between Irish and EU pigmeat prices and Irish pigmeat prices have been both above and below the EU average over recent months. The EU pigmeat sector as a whole has been experiencing difficulties. For my part, I have taken significant action to help alleviate the problem.

I have worked with my EU Ministerial colleagues to put in place measures aimed at improving the income situation of pig farmers and ameliorating some of the difficulties being caused by the increased cost of inputs. Increased production of cereals is expected on foot of the modification of set-aside rules, and import duties have been abolished on certain feedstuffs.

Steps have also been taken to support the pigmeat market. These consist of an aids-to private storage scheme that was available during November and exports refunds for fresh and frozen pork which are still available.

Teagasc has prepared a development strategy for the Irish pig industry which identified the issues facing the sector and makes certain recommendations. A group, which includes representation from my Department, has been established for the purpose of furthering those recommendations.

The Intensive Livestock Group was established in my Department to assist the sector to find solutions to manure disposal problems and financial assistance is available towards welfare-friendly sow housing. On the marketing front Bord Bia has expanded the pig quality assurance scheme, (which has EN45011 status), with a view to increasing membership and they have also conducted an intensified pork and bacon promotion campaign.

Grant Payments.

Joan Burton

Ceist:

81 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the EU Commission is seeking the publication of details of the 2007 payments to farmers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13063/08]

I am aware of the requirement to publish details of EU payments to farmers. Council Regulation (EC) No 1290/2005 and its implementing regulations, require my Department, as the EU paying agency, to publish on its web site, commencing this year, certain details of beneficiaries of schemes funded or co-funded by the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (EAGF) and the European Agricultural Rural Development Fund (EAFRD). These regulations are directly applicable in all EU Member States and binding in their entirety. At the time I did not support this measure at EU level and sought the imposition of a threshold beneath which publication would not take place. My view, which I expressed strongly to the Commission was that this would better reflect the farming context in which the payments are made. However there was little support for this.

The details which will be published will be the beneficiary's name, the address line immediately preceding County on the Department's client database and payments funded or co-funded by the EAGF and/or EAFRD.

Details in respect of EAFRD expenditure between 1 January and 15 October 2007 must be published by Member States no later than 30 September 2008. This will cover payments made under the Rural Environment Protection, Early Retirement and Compensatory Allowance in Less Favoured Areas Schemes.

Details in respect of EAGF and EAFRD expenditure between 16 October 2007 and 15 October 2008 must be published no later than 30 April 2009. Publication of annual payments must take place no later than 30 April each year thereafter. This will include the schemes already referred to and also the Young Farmers' Installation Aid Scheme, the Farm Improvement Scheme, the Single Farm Payment Scheme, any residual coupled premia due to farmers in the relevant period, sugar restructuring payments, payments to fruit and vegetable producer groups and market support schemes such as market intervention and export refunds.

Officials of my Department are currently finalising the administrative arrangements for the implementation of these requirements, including the requirement to advise beneficiaries of the details to be published and of their rights under the Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003.

Food Labelling.

Kathleen Lynch

Ceist:

82 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the measures that are in place to ensure that non-organic food is not mislabelled; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13076/08]

I am fully committed to ensuring that consumers can have full confidence in the organic food they buy. For that reason my Department has assigned additional resources to the Organic Unit and they are now systematically inspecting retail outlets, including supermarkets, shops and farmers markets, checking to ensure that all product identified as organic has been produced fully in accordance with the organic regulations.

The introduction of the European Communities (Organic Farming) Regulation 2004 (S.I. No 112 of 2004) gave my Department powers to prosecute contraventions of Council Regulation (EEC) No. 2092/91 on organic production and indications referring thereto on agricultural products and foodstuffs. This Statutory Instrument was amended in October 2007 to grant significant additional statutory powers to my Department officials to enable them to carry out their work in a more effective manner. To date two prosecutions have been successfully brought for labelling product in contravention of these Regulations. In addition, there have been two recent seizures of incorrectly labelled produce.

Price Inflation.

Kathleen Lynch

Ceist:

83 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the steps her Department is taking to combat food price inflation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13077/08]

Changes in food prices are primarily a function of market forces operating at international, EU and national levels. Consistently strong economic growth in developing countries is the main driver of changing world food demand towards high-value agricultural products and processed foods. Slow-growing supply, low stocks, and supply shocks at a time of increasing demand for feed, food and fuel have led to price increases globally. Biofuel production has also contributed to the changing world food equation. In common with the EU, Ireland is not impervious to this evolving change in context.

In addition, rising input costs, at both producer and processor levels have fed through to put upward pressure on food prices. Pressure on input prices, in particular energy and raw material including feed costs, has combined with strong competition on world dairy and cereal markets in increasing producer prices.

The most recent annual data available from the Central Statistics Office relates to 2007 when food and non-alcoholic beverages prices, as measured by the food price index, increased by 2.8% on average for that year. This is a lower level of increase than the overall annual rate of inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, which averaged 4.9% during the same year. More recent monthly data, for February 2008 indicate that food and non-alcoholic beverage prices increased by 1.8% in the month and by 8.5% in the year to February 2008. This compares to an increase of 1.1% for the year to February 2007 and mirrors the upward trajectory in food prices as evidenced globally and across Europe throughout 2007 and into 2008.

In response to this situation the EU Council of agriculture Ministers has suspended set-aside, in order to increase cereal production, and has recently agreed a 2% increase in milk quota for 2008. Further measures are being considered in the context of the current discussions on the ‘‘Health Check'' of the CAP.

Rural Environment Protection Scheme.

Eamon Gilmore

Ceist:

84 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will lobby the European Commission to rescind the decision to pay REP scheme four retrospectively to participating farmers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13068/08]

The arrangements for REPS 4 are derived from a new Commission Regulation which reflects the Commission's objective of integrating and harmonising the operation of the various farm payment schemes — including the Single Payment Scheme, REPS and the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme. For REPS 4, this means that applications to join the Scheme must be submitted by 15 May each year. Payments will relate to the number of months in a year during which the farmer is in a REPS 4 contract, and they will be released in two phases of 75% and 25%.

The arrangements I announced recently emerged from intensive discussions between my officials and their counterparts in the Commission. In these discussions, my officials pointed out that the previous arrangements had worked well since REPS was first introduced in 1994 and had contributed to the success of the scheme, with nearly 60,000 farmers participating in REPS 2 and REPS 3 by the end of 2006.

The Commission were adamant, however, that the new Regulation must apply to REPS 4. The discussions therefore focused on how to apply the new arrangements in a way that mitigated as far as possible any inconvenience they would create for farmers. It was in this context that the Commission agreed to special transitional arrangements for farmers in REPS 2 finishing their contracts during 2008. As long as these farmers have submitted an application for REPS by the new closing date of 15 May this year, they can submit their farm plans after that date and still receive payment during the year. My officials have written to every farmer in this category to tell them what they need to do.

This was a significant concession by the Commission. If they had not agreed to these special transitional arrangements at a late stage in the discussions, farmers finishing their REPS 2 contracts this year would have had to get their farm plans submitted by 15 May or else wait until 2009 to join REPS 4. The Commission insisted however that the new Regulation must apply strictly to all other farmers joining REPS 4 in 2008, and to everyone joining the new Scheme from next year on.

Although payments will now come at different times of the year from those that farmers are used to, no farmer will lose out on his or her payments in REPS 4. Nevertheless I am aware that the 15 May deadline for applications, and the departure from the existing practice of paying farmers in full at an early point in each year of their REPS contracts, are significant changes. I believe the previous way of doing things was better, but we are constrained by the Regulations. I hope that planners, both within Teagasc and in the private sector, will do what they can to accommodate farmers who want to enter REPS 4 this year. I have asked my officials to make every effort to explain the new rules clearly both to farmers and to planners, and to be as flexible as possible in implementing them.

Finally I want to reiterate that there is no change to the rules governing REPS 2 and REPS 3. For the remainder of their time in these Schemes, farmers will continue to be paid in full at an early stage in each year of their contracts.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

Bernard Allen

Ceist:

85 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the specific measures she will introduce in the agricultural sector to meet Ireland’s national target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 3% per year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13015/08]

The achievement of the 3% target calls for action by all sectors, not just agriculture. I believe that farmers are already playing their part in addressing this challenge and my Department is, and will continue to be, fully supportive of their efforts. In particular, we will continue funding various schemes which contribute to the reduction and removal of greenhouse gases, as well as supporting research into greenhouse gas abatement and renewable energy options.

It is worth noting that in recent years the sector has achieved significant production efficiencies which have kept emissions per unit of food as low as possible. I am confident that farmers will continue to pursue such efficiencies, and my Department and Teagasc will assist them as much as possible in this regard. In this context, the continued implementation of the Nitrates Regulations is having and will continue to have an impact, as it results in better use of nutrients with consequently less nitrogen applications and therefore less nitrous oxide emissions.

Recently introduced measures under the new Rural Environmental Protection Scheme are also expected to contribute to greenhouse gas abatement. These include the encouragement of minimum tillage, the use of clover swards and the adoption of low emission trailing shoe technology for slurry spreading. The scheme will also reward farmers for the planting and rejuvenation of hedgerows, which sequester carbon, and REPS farmers are being encouraged to establish high nature value woodland too, under the Forest Environment Protection Scheme, which will be fully rolled out in 2008. In terms of reduced fertiliser use and consequent emissions, organic farming too has a role to play, and is supported by my Department's Organic Farming Scheme.

The forestry sector is very important in addressing climate change, as it removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and is a valuable source of renewable energy, thereby displacing emissions from fossil fuels. Forests planted from 1990 onwards are currently taking in an average of 2.1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per annum. The majority of new planting is being carried out by farmers and my Department will continue to actively promote such planting under the Afforestation Grant Scheme in 2008.

Energy crops also have a role to play in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. The extent of mitigation depends on total acreage of energy crops grown, so, to encourage farmers to grow more energy crops, I introduced a new National Energy Crop Premium worth €80 per hectare in 2007, to supplement the EU Premium of up to €45 per hectare available under the EU Energy Crops Scheme. As a further support measure, land planted with energy crops can also benefit from the Single Farm Payment. I also launched a new Bioenergy Scheme offering establishment grants of up to €1,450 per hectare to aid establishment of willow and miscanthus. I am glad to report that the Scheme is attracting keen interest from farmers. Since we launched the second phase of the Scheme last December, we have received over 150 applications for aid in respect of some 1,400 hectares.

I realise that further initiatives may be needed to address the challenge of climate change, which is why my Department has committed substantial funding, under the Research Stimulus Fund, to various research projects devoted to identifying sustainable greenhouse gas reduction measures and projects relating to energy crop production. A comprehensive research needs analysis was recently carried out by my Department and will be used to inform future calls for research in the area of climate change.

There are therefore a number of ways in which the farming sector can assist in the national effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, whether through efficiencies of production, the adoption of specific farming practices or the planting of forestry and energy crops. However it is important that we should not overstate what can be achieved in terms of reduced emissions. The imposition of unrealistically high targets for agriculture would create significant downward pressure on animal numbers, because there is no other way of achieving them. At a time when the prospects for the dairying sector are bright, and demand for beef is also set to rise, it would make neither economic not environmental sense to pursue such a course.

Obesity Levels.

Andrew Doyle

Ceist:

86 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the consultations she has had with the Department of Health and Children in relation to the recent evidence of an alarming increase in obesity levels; the specific measures she will take within her Department to deal with the issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13013/08]

As I have said in responses to Questions in this House in the past, obesity is, I believe, an immensely important issue for the future health of our society and demands a multi-faceted response as indicated in the Report of the National Taskforce on Obesity which made recommendations for cross sectoral actions in areas including education, social and community, health, food supply and the physical environment. The recommendations to my Department have been addressed by way of specific healthy food initiatives which I introduced such as the enhanced promotion of school milk and a new national initiative to promote the consumption by schoolchildren of fruit and vegetables.

In addition, I have consistently encouraged the agri-food industry to maintain its focus on meeting the requirements of health conscious consumers. Food and health have been key themes in research proposals under my Department's public good research FIRM programme and under the Food and Health Research Initiative in which my Department collaborated with the Department of Health and Children.

Farm Waste Management.

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

87 Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if all applications for grant aid received and approved under the farm waste management scheme will be paid; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13073/08]

48,580 applications were received by the closing date of end-2006 under the revised Farm Waste Management Scheme introduced in March 2006 in order to assist farmers meet the additional requirements of the Nitrates Directive. Over 40,100 approvals have now issued to farmers to commence work under the Scheme.

Grant payments will be made to the applicants concerned when it has been determined that the investment works concerned comply with the terms and conditions of the Scheme. In particular, it should be noted that, by virtue of the terms of the EU state aid approval governing the Scheme, all work must be completed by farmers and a final claim submitted to my Department by end-2008 in order to qualify for the grants available thereunder.

Departmental Communications.

P. J. Sheehan

Ceist:

88 Deputy P. J. Sheehan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she has received communications from the Agriculture Committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly in the past year; the response she has given to these communications; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13083/08]

My Department did not receive any communications from the Agriculture Committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly during the past year.

Fishing Industry.

Michael Creed

Ceist:

89 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the Government’s position with regard to internal transferable quotas; her views on the re-flagging of the Johanna Maria here; her Department’s intentions in this case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13012/08]

The position in relation to Ireland's quotas is that they are national assets and as such they are treated as public resources. This long held policy was endorsed by the Seafood Industry Strategy Review Group, under the Chairmanship of Dr. Noel Cawley, Dr. Cawley, in his report, notes the widespread opposition of the fishing sector in general to the introduction of any system of individual transferable quotas. This is a policy which I strongly endorse.

With regard to the vessel the Johanna Marie, I understand that the Licensing Authority for Sea-Fishing Boats has received a licence application and issued a licence offer in respect of this vessel for the Refrigerated Sea Water (RSW) Pelagic Segment of the Irish fishing fleet. The Licensing Authority will only enter the Johanna Maria on the Irish Fishing Boat Register and issue an Irish sea-fishing-boat licence when all the mandatory conditions of the licence offer have been complied with.

Common Agricultural Policy.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

90 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the steps she will take in the context of the World Trade Organisation to ensure that the Irish and European food producing sectors have a reasonable chance of competing on world markets in view of all other prevailing conditions and circumstances with particular reference to those which specifically affect the sector; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13060/08]

David Stanton

Ceist:

103 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food her views on the Irish Farmers Association estimate that the EU Trade Commissioner’s offer as part of the World Trade Organisation trade deal will cost the economy €4 billion per annum and result in the loss of 50,000 jobs in manufacturing and services and will put a further 50,000 farmers out of business (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13008/08]

Eamon Gilmore

Ceist:

110 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will exert political pressure on Mr. Peter Mandelson to prevent the shredding of Article 39 of the Treaty of Rome; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13067/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 90, 103 and 110 together.

The negotiations on the next WTO Round have entered another intensive phase as efforts continue to reach a full and final agreement by the end of 2008. There is no doubt that the outcome of these negotiations will represent a significant challenge for EU and Irish agriculture.

The 2003 Reform of the CAP was undertaken with this Round of WTO negotiations clearly in mind. The move to non-trade distorting decoupled payments has allowed the EU make significant commitments in these negotiations in relation to reductions in the trade distorting supports such as market and price supports. The 2003 CAP Reforms also represent the limit of the EU Commission's negotiating position in these negotiations. This negotiating position has been approved by the EU Council of Ministers and has been reiterated on several occasions by the Council. Any WTO agreement which would result in a further reform of the CAP would exceed this negotiating position and would be unacceptable.

I will continue to insist that the Commission respects this negotiating position in these discussions. The Common Agricultural Policy remains a cornerstone of the EU and the principles on which this policy is based are even more valid given the dynamics of the current global economy. My priorities in these negotiations are to ensure that Irish agricultural products remain competitive on EU and world markets. This can be achieved by securing appropriate levels of import protection for the EU market and ensuring that there is full parallel elimination of all forms of export subsidies used by other exporting countries such as state trading enterprises, food aid and export credits.

These negotiations are ongoing and there are a number of significant issues which remain unresolved. It would therefore be difficult at this point to analyse the overall impact on the Irish economy. The Commission have however recently provided some details of their assessment of the impact of the proposals made last February by the Chairman of the WTO Agriculture Committee. This analysis is currently the subject of discussion between Member States and the Commission. In addition some independent assessments are likely to emerge in the near future. In these circumstances I think it better, from both a technical and negotiating standpoint, to await further clarification from the Commission and input from other sources before drawing detailed conclusions on the likely impact of a possible trade deal, the details of which are not yet known.

Animal Diseases.

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

91 Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if, in view of the continuing threat to human health and the economy generally from animal diseases, she will consider the establishment of a permanent bio-security unit to provide maximum protection against threats of this nature; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13072/08]

My Department's responsibilities extend to animal and plant health and it works closely with the Department of Health & Children and the Health Services Executive in relation to any such diseases that may have potential implications for human health, for example in relation to avian 'flu.

I am acutely conscious of the threats of various animal disease outbreaks and my Department continually reassesses such threats. On the basis of such risk assessments, I and my officials review the adequacy of our control measures aimed at mitigating the risk of the introduction of such diseases to this country.

In this regard, my Department has at its disposal, a wide range of veterinary, scientific, epidemiological, administrative and legal expertise, all of which contribute, as appropriate, to the process. In addition, my Department is able to avail of extensive external expertise, some of which comes from other State agencies, including the National Parks and Wildlife Service and Met Éireann, as well as organisations such as BirdWatch Ireland and academic expertise, including that provided by the Centre for Veterinary Epidemiology and Risk Analysis in UCD and the Department of Zoology at NUI, Galway.

Based on various increased disease outbreak threats, my Department has offered and continues to offer biosecurity advice to farmers in relation to diseases as foot-and-mouth, avian 'flu and bluetongue. This advice is updated as appropriate and made available in leaflet form, through the national newspapers or on my Department's website.

I am satisfied that my Department has available to it all the relevant expertise to ensure that the necessary biosecurity controls and precautions are exercised and taken both at points of import and at the farm gate. Nonetheless, I am anxious to bring a greater focus to and place a greater emphasis on the need for constant vigilance in the area of biosecurity and, for that reason, I have decided to establish, as a division within my Department, ‘Biosecurity Ireland' with a remit to ensure the exclusion, eradication or effective management of risks posed by diseases and pests to the economy, the environment as well as to human and animal health.

Food Industry.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

92 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food her views on the impending food security crisis; the measures she will take to ensure the Irish consumer is not adversely affected by global food shortages; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13022/08]

There is an increasing awareness developing that food security cannot be taken for granted in a world where demand is rising rapidly and is expected to double by 2050. There is also a greater recognition of the key role that agriculture plays in managing scarce water and soil resources, and of the contribution it can make to renewable energy. All these trends in societal expectations underpin the importance of the CAP and of the European model of agriculture.

In that connection, the 2003 reforms of the CAP with the introduction of the full decoupling of direct payments under the Single Payment Scheme ensures that farmers now have the ‘freedom to farm' and that the CAP is geared towards the demands of the market and consumers. The Single Payment Scheme is linked to food safety, animal welfare and environmental standards, and consumers are guaranteed a supply of safe food, produced to high animal welfare and environmental standards, at reasonable cost.

In this context, it is worth noting that the EU is by far the largest player on the world market. While imports of certain commodities into the Community may have increased, I believe that Ireland will remain a significant food producer and net exporter and will therefore not be affected to the same extent as food deficit countries by global food shortages. However we will need to continuously monitor international food markets and be alive to both the threats and opportunities that may arise.

Aquaculture Licences.

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

93 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason aquaculture licences are not available to inshore mussel dredging fishermen. [13086/08]

The Fisheries (Amendment) Act, 1997, as amended, governs the granting, renewal, amendment or revocation of aquaculture licences. For the purposes of the Act "aquaculture" means "the culture or farming of any species of fish, aquatic invertebrate animal of whatever habitat or aquatic plant, or any aquatic form of food suitable for the nutrition of fish". It is open to any individual or legal entity to apply for an aquaculture licence within the meaning and in accordance with the terms of the Act and any Regulations made thereunder.

In relation to sea fishing-boat licences, the Licensing Authority for Sea Fishing Boats has advised me that a Sea-Fishing Boat Licence is required under EU and National law in respect of boats engaged in commercial fishing activities where such activities include, at any time; (1) Dredging for wild mussel seed/spat, or (2) Having on board fishing gear as specified in Table 3 of Annex 1 of Commission Regulation (EC) No 26/2004 of 30 December 2003 as amended by Commission Regulation (EC) No 1799/2006 of 6 December 2006 on the Community fishing fleet register (dredges are included in this table).

The entitlement to engage in any of the activities outlined depends on the segment of the fleet in which the boat is licensed and registered. Where a boat is licensed and registered within the Aquaculture Segment of the Irish fishing fleet, it is a condition of the licence that the boat shall be used solely for the management, development and servicing of aquaculture areas.

Food Labelling.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

94 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if all food and food products on sale here are accurately labelled to reflect the country of origin and full traceability; if there are notable exceptions; the action taken or proposed to address these issues; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13059/08]

The Minister for Health & Children has overall responsibility for the general food labelling legislation. Responsibility for enforcement of labelling legislation rests with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) through its service contracts with my Department, the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, the Health Services Executive, the Local Authorities and the National Consumer Agency. Breaches of food labelling legislation should be reported to the FSAI.

EU beef labelling legislation requiring country of origin labelling of beef has been in place since September 2000. As this legislation did not cover beef sold by the catering trade I collaborated with the Minister for Health & Children to have national legislation enacted to require that all beef sold or served in the retail or catering sector is now required to carry an indication of the country of origin. This legislation is enforced by the FSAI.

Regarding the labelling of poultrymeat, there are EU Regulations which provide for the labelling of unprocessed poultrymeat at retail level. The Regulations require such poultrymeat to be labelled with the information regarding class, price, condition, registered number of slaughterhouse or cutting plant and, where imported from a Third Country, an indication of country of origin.

My Department, in conjunction with the Department of Health and Children, drafted regulations that would require the country of origin to be indicated on pigmeat, poultry and sheepmeat. This was notified to the EU Commission in December 2007 as required by legislation. The Commission was not prepared to adopt the draft regulations in their present format on the grounds that the proposed legislation is not in compliance with EU food labelling regulations. However, it indicated that it will reconsider the draft measures once we have submitted additional explanatory information. This information is currently being prepared for transmission to the Commission. I will continue to press for progress, as I believe consumers are entitled to full information on the labelling of food products.

Farm Waste Management.

Ciaran Lynch

Ceist:

95 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will reopen the farm improvement scheme to enable farmers in the middle of some developments to complete the work so they are fully compliant with the nitrates regulations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13075/08]

Applications received under the Farm Improvement Scheme prior to its suspension on 31 October 2007 are being processed by my Department up to the level of funding provided for the Scheme in the 2006 Partnership agreement, Towards 2016. I have no plans to reopen the Scheme to further applications prior to the review in 2008 of Towards 2016 as provided for in that agreement.

The revised Farm Waste Management Scheme which was introduced by my Department in March 2006, rather than the Farm Improvement Scheme, was the principal measure designed to assist farmers to meet their obligations under the Nitrates Directive and a standard grant-rate of 60% (70% in the four Zone C counties) is available to farmers who complete investment works under that Scheme. 48,580 applications were received from farmers under that Scheme and, to date, over 40,100 approvals have been issued by my Department to farmers to commence work. This work must be completed and a final claim submitted to my Department by 31 December 2008.

Milk Quota.

Liz McManus

Ceist:

96 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will review her allocation of the milk quota to facilitate development farmers and thereby honour agreements to them that were previously in place. [13079/08]

As the Deputy is aware, I announced recently that the 2 per cent quota increase for the 2008/2009 milk quota year, which was agreed last month by the EU Council of Agriculture Ministers, will be allocated to all milk producers active on 1 April 2008.

I took this decision after considering submissions from a number of organisations, including that representing development farmers. I believe that the allocation method I have chosen is the fairest and most equitable one possible, and acknowledges the efforts made by every individual producer to build up their dairy enterprises. I do not, therefore, intend to review the matter.

Noxious Weeds.

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

97 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the number of prosecutions and convictions in 2007 for failure to control ragworth; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13082/08]

There were no prosecutions taken under the Noxious Weeds Act 1936 by my Department in 2007. However, over the past two years my Department has conducted public awareness campaigns for the control of noxious weeds. The campaigns were directed at landowners and users of land — mainly farmers, Local Authorities and developers. Campaigns consisted of the circulation of posters for display in all DAFF, Teagasc and local Authority offices countrywide, as well as in agricultural centres such as Co-ops, livestock marts, merchants' premises etc. I issued press releases on the subject of noxious weeds control and placed notices in the national newspapers.

These campaigns were in response to the increasing prevalence over recent years of noxious weeds, especially ragwort, on road margins, development sites and on farmed lands.

In addition to the public awareness campaigns, my Department issued notices to offenders to have weeds dealt with. These notices were issued whenever complaints were made by members of the public or as a result of inspections carried out by my Department's Field Officers.

The control of noxious weeds has been made a cross-compliance requirement for Single Farm Payment under Good Agricultural and Environmental Conditions, which means that failure to comply with this condition may result in a reduction in the Single Farm Payment.

While the Act makes provision for taking prosecutions against offenders, this measure has not been resorted to in recent years. The preference has been to appeal to the better nature of persons responsible for such weed infested areas to face up to their responsibility under the Act and have them controlled.

Officials from my Department have met with the National Roads Authority and I am pleased to note that the Authority has embarked on a package of initiatives for the control of noxious weeds. Measures being taken this year by the NRA consist of a "special maintenance grant" which is specifically being provided to assist local authorities in dealing with the problem of ragwort and other noxious weeds as well as the provision of "Draft Guidelines on the Management of Noxious Weeds on National Roads".

Farmers, developers and Local authorities whose land contain ragwort should seek advice on control methods from their local Teagasc advisor or consult the Teagasc fact sheet on ragwort at www.teagasc.ie.

Brian O'Shea

Ceist:

98 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the steps being taken to control the spread of Ragworth which is growing extensively on roadside verges and vacant land; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13081/08]

In 2006, 2007 and again this year my Department has conducted public awareness campaigns for the control of noxious weeds. The campaigns were directed at landowners and users of land — mainly farmers, Local Authorities and developers. Campaigns consisted of the circulation of posters for display in all DAFF, Teagasc and local Authority offices countrywide, as well as in agricultural centres such as Co-ops, livestock marts, merchants' premises etc. I issued press releases on the subject of noxious weeds control and placed notices in the national newspapers.

These campaigns were in response to the increasing prevalence over recent years of noxious weeds, especially ragwort, on road margins, development sites and on farmed lands.

In addition to the public awareness campaigns, my Department issued notices to offenders to have weeds dealt with. These notices were issued whenever complaints were made by members of the public or as a result of inspections carried out by my Department's Field Officers.

The control of noxious weeds has been made a cross-compliance requirement for Single Farm Payment under Good Agricultural and Environmental Conditions, which means that failure to comply with this condition may result in a reduction in the Single Farm Payment.

Officials from my Department have met with the National Roads Authority and I am pleased to note that the Authority has embarked on a package of initiatives for the control of noxious weeds. Measures being taken this year by the NRA consist of a "special maintenance grant" which is specifically being provided to assist local authorities in dealing with the problem of ragwort and other noxious weeds as well as the provision of "Draft Guidelines on the Management of Noxious Weeds on National Roads".

Farmers, developers and Local authorities whose land contain ragwort should seek advice on control methods from their local Teagasc advisor or consult the Teagasc fact sheet on ragwort at www.teagasc.ie.

Planning Issues.

P. J. Sheehan

Ceist:

99 Deputy P. J. Sheehan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will include forestry under the Strategic Infrastructure Act which came into force in January 2007; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13084/08]

The purpose of the Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Act 2006 is to allow certain specified infrastructure projects to seek planning permission (under the Planning and Development Act 2000) directly from An Bord Pleanala rather than from a local authority.

Afforestation and other forestry are, with certain limited exceptions, exempt from the Planning and Development Act, 2000. It is considered that it is not necessary to include forestry under the Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Act 2006.

Bovine Disease Controls.

Michael D. Higgins

Ceist:

100 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the latest information available to her Department on the outbreak of bluetongue in Northern Ireland; the steps she is taking to ensure that the disease does not spread to this country; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13070/08]

Jack Wall

Ceist:

109 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she is satisfied that all appropriate procedures are in place to prevent the spread of bluetongue disease in the south, in view of the number of outbreaks in Britain and more recently in the north; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13071/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 100 and 109 together.

The situation in Northern Ireland and the information available to me and my Department is essentially as I outlined to the House on 21st February.

I would point out, however, that the events in Northern Ireland did not constitute an outbreak of bluetongue, as defined in Commission Regulation (EC) No 1266/2007 – the bluetongue regulation. The virus had been detected in a single animal in Co Antrim on 15th February and that cow and her calf were slaughtered as were a further 23 cows and their calves, following further tests results, which indicated the presence of antibodies or virus in four further calves born from cows in the same consignment. However, at no point was there any evidence that the bluetongue virus was circulating in Northern Ireland and, therefore, this event did not constitute an outbreak and Northern Ireland's disease free status was not affected.

In response to those events, I took unilateral action and introduced a safeguard measure to place a temporary ban on the import of female cattle over 12 months and female sheep over 6 months from premises and holdings in bluetongue restricted zones. This applies only to cattle or sheep for breeding / fattening but not for slaughter. This ban remains in place and will do so until I am satisfied that the EU control measures are adequately revised. Changes to the existing arrangements have been tabled by the EU Commission and are being considered at a meeting of the Standing Committee on Animal Health and Food Chain this week. I will review the temporary ban in the light of any decision taken to amend the Commission Regulation at this meeting.

Following confirmation of the detection of the virus in Northern Ireland, I have asked my officials to further assess the risk and, based on that assessment, which I expect to be concluded very shortly, I will introduce any such additional control measures as are considered appropriate. My Department's contingency arrangements to mitigate the risk of the introduction of the bluetongue virus into the country are based on the existing EU legislation and an ongoing assessment of the risk to Ireland.

In terms of my Department's overall contingency arrangements, we have produced a comprehensive Bluetongue Contingency Plan for Ireland. Information and advice leaflets on Bluetongue were sent to every farmer in the country as well as specifically tailored advisory material as to all members of the Veterinary Profession. My Department's contingency arrangements are kept under constant review and revised as appropriate by reference to the developing disease situation or in the light of legal or other developments, particularly at EU level. In addition, we are also refining arrangements for delivery of a vaccination programme in the event that it becomes necessary to vaccinate here.

In the meantime, I strongly urge Irish farmers not to import livestock under any circumstances, as this represents the biggest risk of the introduction of this disease. I have made this clear to the Farming Organisations during the many briefings on bluetongue and have asked that they too use their influence accordingly.

On-farm Investment Schemes.

Michael Creed

Ceist:

101 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the grants available to individuals hoping to acquire anaerobic digestion systems; the extent to which such grants have been drawn down or the plans to introduce measures to encourage engagement in the development of such systems; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13011/08]

A Scheme of Investment Aid for Demonstration On-Farm Waste Processing Facilities was introduced by my Department in June 2006 under the aegis of the 2000-2006 National Development Plan. In 2007, grant-aid was made available under the Scheme for the development of ten on-farm anaerobic digestion facilities. As the grant-aid is payable only on completion of the work concerned, none of the grants has been drawn down, to date.

Milk Quota.

Simon Coveney

Ceist:

102 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the measures in view of the envisaged changes to the milk quota system, she will bring forward to encourage new entrants to the dairy sector; the way she will ensure that small dairy producers are not negatively affected by the changes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13033/08]

The allocation of milk quota to new entrants and small producers has been a feature of the milk quota system for a number of years. Preferential access to milk quota from a specially created priority pool was available under the Milk Quota Restructuring Scheme until 2006, and the same priority pool arrangement is a feature of the new Milk Quota Trading Scheme. Indeed, the quantities of quota available to new entrants — whether farming on their own or in partnership with parents — and small producers have been considerably increased as a result of my introduction of the latter scheme in 2007.

In addition, the changes I announced recently to the milk quota regulations will facilitate greater participation in Milk Production Partnerships, which will benefit new entrants and small producers. Farmers previously involved in beef or cereals production, for example, will be able to join forces with milk producers in developing their enterprises and bringing greater efficiencies and lifestyle improvements to their operations. There will also be no limit on the numbers that can participate in an individual Milk Production Partnership, which will in turn facilitate the participation of more than one son or daughter in New Entrant/Parent partnerships.

The recently-completed Milk Quota Trading Scheme in respect of the 2008/2009 milk quota year will be reviewed with the farming organisations and ICOS in the coming weeks, and any suggestions relating to new entrants and small producers will be considered by my Department.

Question No. 103 answered with Question No. 90.

Grant Payments.

Ciaran Lynch

Ceist:

104 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if all applications for grant aid received and approved under the farm improvement scheme will be paid; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13074/08]

12,675 applications were received under the Farm Improvement Scheme prior to its suspension on 31 October 2007. These applications are currently being processed up to the level of funding made available for the Scheme under the 2006 Partnership agreement, Towards 2016.

Where approvals are issued by my Department to commence work under the Scheme, grant payments will be made to the applicants concerned when it has been determined that the investment works concerned comply with the terms and conditions of the Scheme.

Alternative Farm Enterprises.

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

105 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will make a statement on recent reports regarding the threat which energy crops pose to world food production and the implications that might have for this country. [13010/08]

To promote the increased production and use of biofuels, the Commission is proposing that biofuels make up 10% of EU transport fuel by 2020. This has led to concerns that the demand for biofuels is compromising food production and driving up the price of food. While it its true that cereal and rapeseed prices reached record levels in 2007, this was due only in part to the increased interest in biofuels, other factors include the tight global wheat supply situation due to declining stocks and poor harvests resulting from adverse weather conditions as well as increasing demand for grain from developing economies such as China and India.

In response to the current high prices for cereals and the abolition by the EU of compulsory set aside, extra land is being devoted to cereal production in Ireland and across the Community in 2008. It is forecast that the 2008 wheat crop could increase across the EU by 17m tonnes compared to 2007. As crops for biofuels are estimated to account for about 3m — 4m tonnes of production, the additional 13m tonnes of cereals at EU level should help increase the availability of stocks for food and animal feed. Teagasc estimate that potentially some 75,000 – 100,000 hectares of land could be devoted to energy crops in Ireland without impacting negatively on animal feed and food production. In the near future, the feedstock base could be expanded further in Ireland with the development of new second-generation technologies to convert biomass crops (miscanthus and willow) into liquid biofuels. The Irish climate is generally well suited to the production of biomass crops.

In 2007, the EU Commission carried out an ‘Impact Assessment' to assess the effect of the 10% biofuel target on EU- 27 agricultural markets in 2020. Taking into account such issues as the likely level of imports, the increased availability of second-generation biofuels from 2014 onwards and the fact that biomass yields (miscanthus, straw etc.) could be significantly higher than for cereals, the Commission conclude that the 10% biofuel scenario would not overly stretch land availability, and as a consequence food production.

In January' 08, the EU Commission published a new Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the promotion of the use of renewable energy sources. The Directive lays down detailed rules relating to environmental sustainability criteria for biofuels that are counted towards the 10% target and proposes a detailed monitoring and reporting system for biofuel production. As part of the monitoring process, Member States are required to submit a report to Commission in 2011 and every 2 years thereafter detailing, among other things, the impact on commodity prices and land use changes within the Member State associated with the increased use of biomass and other forms of renewable energy. The Commission will be required to analyse, among other items, the impact of EU biofuel policy on the availability of foodstuffs in exporting countries, the ability of people in developing countries to afford these foodstuffs and wider development issues.

The reality is that biofuel production is currently one of the few practical ways of making a real impact on oil dependence and greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector. Nonetheless the objective should be to ensure that biofuels are produced in a sustainable fashion and do not have undesirable consequences for food production, the environment and biodiversity.

Food Labelling.

Joan Burton

Ceist:

106 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will extend the country of origin labelling of beef introduced in 2006 to cover lamb products; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13064/08]

The Minister for Health & Children has overall responsibility for the general food labelling legislation. Responsibility for enforcement of labelling legislation rests with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) through its service contracts with my Department, the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, the Health Services Executive, the Local Authorities and the National Consumer Agency. Breaches of food labelling legislation should be reported to the FSAI.

My Department, in conjunction with the Department of Health and Children, drafted regulations that would require the country of origin to be indicated on pigmeat, poultry and sheepmeat. This was notified to the EU Commission in December 2007 as required by legislation. The Commission was not prepared to adopt the draft regulations in their present format on the grounds that the proposed legislation is not in compliance with EU food labelling regulations. However, it indicated that it will reconsider the draft measures once we have submitted additional explanatory information. This information is currently being prepared for transmission to the Commission. I will continue to press for progress, as I believe consumers are entitled to full information on the labelling of food products.

Grant Payments.

Joe Costello

Ceist:

107 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when she will give ministerial clearance for the processing of the 3,000 applications that were received between 21 October and 31 October 2007 for grant aid under the farm improvement scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13065/08]

The Farm Improvement Scheme was launched by my Department in July 2007 with funding of €79 million as agreed under the Partnership agreement, Towards 2016. I indicated, at the time of its launch, that the Scheme would be terminated when this financial ceiling had been reached and this was also specifically provided for in the terms and conditions of the Scheme.

12,675 applications were received under the Farm Improvement Scheme prior to its suspension on 31 October 2007. These applications are currently being processed up to the level of funding made available for the Scheme under the 2006 Partnership agreement, Towards 2016.

Potato Industry.

Brian O'Shea

Ceist:

108 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the efforts being made to promote consumption of the potato which has dropped significantly among younger consumers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13080/08]

Bord Bia conducted consumer research recently on potato consumption trends and highlights the carbohydrate competition that exists in the market. Increasingly, consumers are looking for convenience, consistent eating quality, ease of preparation and quality assurance in terms of their purchasing choices. The potato industry has to consider these issues and must aim to provide what the consumer requires. With this demand for increased convenience and ease of preparation in mind there does appear to be a move to value added products such as semi prepared and par cooked products.

Bord Bia also has seasonal promotions of potatoes throughout the year, highlighting the availability of locally produced Irish potatoes along with recipes and, of course, the nutritional benefits of potatoes such as the fact that they are a good source of potassium, important for a healthy blood pressure and contribute a significant amount of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant and important for immune health.

The United Nations has declared 2008 as the International Year of the Potato. The Year aims at raising the profile of this globally important food crop, giving emphasis to its nutritional attributes, and thus promoting its production, consumption, marketing and trade. My Department has been actively involved in setting up a committee comprising representatives of the Industry and State Agencies who have been busy putting in place an interesting programme of activities to mark the year.

One of the major events being organised is a national competition aimed at all primary schools called Meet the spuds (more info at www.internationalyearofthepotato.ie). Through the active support of many organisations and the organisational skills of Agri-aware, potato growing packs were made available to the 3,500 primary schools in the country. I am very pleased to note that over 50% of schools have registered for the competition. Whilst the competition is presented in a fun and pupil friendly manner it has a very serious and important message, which is to encourage the production and consumption of locally produced potatoes and to promote the potato as a valuable food source. It can be seen as part of the ongoing revival of local agriculture and farmers' markets, a renaissance in regional cooking and food traditions and as part of a grassroots campaign to get junk food out of our kitchens, and to revert to good wholesome Irish food.

Question No. 109 answered with Question No. 100.
Question No. 110 answered with Question No. 90.

Sheep Industry.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

111 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will implement the Malone report on the sheep industry in full; her timetable for the implementation of its recommendations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2035/08]

The sheep sector is an important part of the overall agri-food sector and its future depends on its ability to meet the needs of the market. The Malone Report set the blueprint for the sector's future development and an implementation group was established to oversee the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report. Most of the recommendations contained in the report fall to be implemented by the industry itself but my Department and the state agencies under my aegis are also playing an active role.

The timetable for the implementation of the report varies according to the recommendation under consideration. Some recommendations have already been implemented whereas others are works in progress and consultations are ongoing in regard to their implementation.

Under REPS 4, a new mixed grazing measure specially targeted at sheep farmers has been introduced and development of this measure will be kept under review.

Plans for the upgrading of a Sheep Genetic Improvement Programme are well advanced and I hope that agreement can be reached and a new programme put in place for the 2008/2009 sheep breeding year.

Transparency on pricing is a pre-requisite for efforts to improve quality and respond to the needs of the market. Farmer confidence in the pricing system operated by plants will be improved if mechanical grading can be introduced. My Department is currently facilitating trials on this that commenced in March 2008.

Teagasc are making a very positive contribution as well and have developed a comprehensive plan to restructure their sheep support services, including a programme for Technology Evaluation and Transfer farms, which includes hill and lowland areas. This approach will provide an opportunity for developing a dialogue with sheep farmers about the application of the latest management practices to their enterprises and identify research and development needs.

The Lamb Quality Assurance Scheme was established in 2007. Bord Bia is also playing a prominent part. Almost 6,000 farms have been registered to date and over 4,200 farm audits have been carried out. In 2007 the Department made available €0.4m to support inspections under the scheme and this funding will be repeated again in 2008 and 2009.

In addition to the measures being taken at producer and processor level, promotional efforts are very necessary. Bord Bia will continue to organize strategic marketing campaigns marketing in selected European markets. The downward trend in lamb consumption in certain markets presents a real challenge. To address this, Bord Bia is collaborating with its French and British counterparts on a 3 year generic lamb promotion on the very important French market to promote lamb to younger consumers.

Irish Life Tables.

Joan Burton

Ceist:

112 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach when the Central Statistics Office will publish new Irish Life Tables, in view of the fact that it is now nearly four years since Irish Life Tables 14 were published in June 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12937/08]

Irish Life Tables are calculated and published at least 2 years after each census year. For example, Irish Life Tables 14 were published in 2004, 2 years after the 2002 census. The Central Statistics Office intends to publish Irish Life Tables 15 in 2008, 2 years after the 2006 census.

Irish Life Tables are calculated based on population data from the census, and 3 years mortality data centred on the census year. Thus, Irish Life Tables 15 will be based on population data from the 2006 census, and mortality data from the years 2005, 2006, and 2007. This is why the Irish Life Tables 15 could not have been published before 2008.

Departmental Expenditure.

Mary White

Ceist:

113 Deputy Mary Alexandra White asked the Taoiseach the amount his Department spent on recruitment advertising, excluding any advertisement conducted by the Public Appointments Service in 2007. [12773/08]

Mary White

Ceist:

114 Deputy Mary Alexandra White asked the Taoiseach the amount his Department spent on recruitment advertising, excluding any advertisement conducted by the Public Appointments Service in 2006. [12774/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 113 and 114 together.

My Department had no spending on recruitment advertising during 2007 or 2006. The Deputy will be aware that recruitment to my Department is done through the Public Appointments Service.

Waste Management.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

115 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Taoiseach if his Department has a strategy to reduce the level of printed correspondence, communications, reports and other documents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12795/08]

Reducing the level of printed matter is a key element of my Department's "Green Policy" . We continually review the possibility of reducing the amount of waste produced, as well as increasing the amount that can be disposed of through recycling. The reuse of envelopes internally, together with double sided printing and photocopying, have become standard practice throughout my Department. All paper and cardboard waste is recycled and most stationery used by my Department is produced from recycled paper.

The electronic dissemination of documents and publications, by email and on websites, also complements my Department's customer service, efficiency and cost-cutting initiatives by increasing the availability and accessibility of information for our customers, streamlining internal processes and reducing the direct and indirect costs associated with printing.

Appointments to State Boards.

Ruairí Quinn

Ceist:

116 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Taoiseach the appointments to State boards, bodies or committees made since 3 July 2007 to date in 2008; the names of the persons so appointed; the dates on which the names of those persons were published in Iris Oifigiúil; the State boards, bodies or committees on which vacancies currently exist; the number of vacancies in each case; the State boards, bodies or committees in which vacancies are anticipated to arise up to and including 1 October 2008; and the number of vacancies in each case. [12803/08]

The information requested by the Deputy is outlined in the table below. Organisational Review ProgrammeI agreed last September to the appointment of the following three persons to the Steering Committee on the Organisational Review Programme (ORP):

Mr. Denis Casey, Group Chief Executive, Irish Life and Permanent;

Ms. Jan Mottram, HR Director, Vodafone Ireland; and

Mr. John Quilliam, School of Business Studies, Trinity College Dublin.

These external members of the Steering Committee are assisting the ORP team that is undertaking the pilot phase of the reviews, which covers the following Departments: (i) Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; (ii) Enterprise, Trade and Employment; and (iii) Transport.

The Steering Committee, which is chaired by the Secretary General of my Department, also includes the Secretary General, Public Service Management and Development, Department of Finance and the Secretaries General of the three Departments under review. The latter three Secretaries General will be replaced by the Heads of the three Departments and/or Offices to be examined in the next phase, which will likely get under way before October. It is not possible at this stage to indicate whether vacancies will arise with regard to the external members of the Committee for the next phase.

The external members are participating on a non-remunerative basis and as the Committee is informal in nature, the need for publication or notification in Iris Oifigiuil does not arise.

National Economic and Social Forum

There are currently no vacancies in the National Economic and Social Forum (NESF). The following Oireachtas members were nominated between November 2007 and February 2008 to the NESF.

Member

Party

Senator Mark MacSharry

Fianna Fáil

Senator Brian O Domhaill

Fianna Fáil

Deputy John Curran

Fianna Fáil

Deputy Michael McGrath

Fianna Fáil

Senator Geraldine Feeney

Fianna Fáil

Deputy Cyprian Brady

Fianna Fáil

Deputy Sean Ardagh

Fianna Fáil

Deputy Sean Sherlock

Labour

Deputy Willie Penrose

Labour

Deputy Dan Neville

Fine Gael

Deputy Terence Flanagan

Fine Gael

Senator Paul Coghlan

Fine Gael

Senator Jerry Buttimer

Fine Gael

Senator Sean Boyle

Green Party

Senator Ronan Mullen

Independent

Appointments to the NESF are made in accordance with the provisions of the National Economic and Social Development Office Act, 2006.

National Centre for Partnership and Performance

Appointments to the Council of the National Centre for Partnership and Performance (NCPP) are made in accordance with the provisions of the National Economic and Social Development Office (NESDO) Act, 2006, given that the NCPP is one of NESDO's constituent bodies.

Three vacancies are anticipated on the NCPP Council resulting from changes in representation from IBEC and the Departments of Finance and Enterprise, Trade and Employment. Appointments will be made to fill these vacancies in the near future.

National Statistics Board

The appointments to the National Statistics Board (NSB) made since 3 July 2007 to date in 2008 are set out in the table below:

National Statistics Board

Name

Occupation

Date of Appointment

Chairperson

Professor emeritus Brendan Walsh

Professor, UCD

1 July, 2007

Government Departments

Dr. Patricia O’Hara

Western Development Commission

1 July, 2007

Ms. Mary Doyle

Department of the Taoiseach

1 July, 2007

Mr. Michael McGrath

Department of Finance

1 July, 2007

Trade Union Pillar

Mr. Paul Sweeney

ICTU

1 July, 2007

Farming Pillar

Mr. Con Lucey

IFA

1 July, 2007

Business Pillar

Mr. Danny McCoy

IBEC

1 July, 2007

Ex Officio Members

Mr. Donal Garvey

Director General, CSO

1 July, 2007

Mr. Gerry O’Hanlon

Director General, CSO

10 August, 2007

There is no legislative obligation to publish the names of appointees in Iris Oifigiúil. All 8 positions on the NSB are currently filled and it is not anticipated that any vacancies will arise in 2008.

Energy Efficiency.

Simon Coveney

Ceist:

117 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Taoiseach the progress his Department has made in achieving this 33% target of energy efficiency in the public sector; if energy use in buildings under the responsibility of his Department is being monitored; if so, the person by whom it is monitored; the recent trends; if buildings under the responsibility of his Department are being retrofitted to improve energy efficiency; if there are capital budgets for energy efficiency measures in his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13130/08]

My Department relies on the Office of Public Works (OPW) for the provision of accommodation including maintenance and refurbishment which includes the provision of efficient heating and lighting in offices. This Department endeavours to operate heating and lighting systems in the most efficient manner.

The OPW has an energy awareness programme underway in all large buildings, State Buildings, including those occupied by this Department. Based on an advanced pilot programme completed last year, this is expected to achieve 15% savings on an annual basis. This energy reduction programme is the first step in achieving the 2020 target of 33%.

At present, the OPW is, in conjunction with my Department, devising an energy awareness programme appropriate to the Department's needs. It will be several months before any quantifiable progress will be evident. It is expected that considerable progress will be made in the next heating season beginning next September 2008.

An essential part of the energy reduction plan is to monitor energy usage. The OPW provides a monitoring service to my Department using a web based logging system which has been installed in advance of the energy awareness programme in the targeted State buildings.

For the present, there is no OPW programme to undertake refurbishment work solely on the basis of energy conservation. Such a programme may be necessary in the future. However, where refurbishment is necessary or planned at present, energy saving will be considered in the designs and any reasonable or economic improvements shall be incorporated in the designs.

There is no capital budget for energy efficiency measures in this Department and under the Department of Finance guidelines, such a budget is appropriate to the Office of Public Works.

The Personnel Officer in my Department is the person currently responsible for the energy awareness/conservation programme.

Statutory Instruments.

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

118 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Taoiseach if his attention has been drawn to the identity of each statutory instrument, falling within his Department’s remit, which has statutory effect under the European Communities Act 1972 or other legislation specifically relating to same; if he will provide a list of such statutory instruments having statutory effect; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13175/08]

Below is an outline of the current relevant statutory instruments falling within my Department's remit. The purpose of these instruments is to provide the necessary statutory basis for collection by the Central Statistics Office of statistical data that is required for EU purposes.

S.I. No.

S.I. Title

S.I. No. 136 of 1993:

European Communities (Intrastat) Regulations, 1993

S.I. No. 466 of 2002:

European Communities (Intrastat) (Amendment) Regulations, 2002

S.I. No. 715 of 2003:

European Communities (Statistics in respect of Carriage of Passengers, Freight and Mail by Air) Regulations 2003

S.I No. 675 of 2005:

European Communities (Intrastat) (Amendment) Regulations 2005

S.I. No. 774 of 2005:

European Communities (Statistical Classification of Building and Construction Activities) Regulations 2005

S.I. No. 159 of 2006:

European Communities (Statistics) (National Employment Survey) Regulations 2006

S.I. No. 247 of 2006:

(European Communities (Statistics)(Business Accounts Surveys) Regulations 2006

S.I. No. 354 of 2006:

European Communities (Statistics) (Labour Costs Surveys) Regulations, 2006

S.I. No. 57 of 2007:

European Communities (Statistics) (National Employment Survey) Regulations 2007

S.I. No. 672 of 2007:

Statistics (Road Freight) Order 2007

S.I. No. 750 of 2007:

Statistics (Carriage of Goods and Passengers by Sea) Order 2007

S.I. No. 77 of 2008:

Statistics (Service Inquiries) Order 2008

S.I. No. 78 of 2008:

Statistics (Census of Industrial Production) Order 2008

Registered Employers.

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

119 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance, further to Parliamentary Question No. 617 of 30 January 2008, the number of people registered as employers with the Revenue Commissioners in the construction industry as defined under the Registered Employment Agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13001/08]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they are not able to give precise figures for "the number of people registered as employers with the Revenue Commissioners in the construction industry as defined under the Registered Employment Agreement".

The Revenue Commissioners use NACE (European Economic Activity) codes to classify taxpayers. This is the same system as used by the Central Statistics Office. These NACE codes do not correspond with the definition of building firms or civil engineering firms contained in Schedule 2 of the Registered Employment Agreement (REA) for the Construction Industry. Furthermore, some employers may be registered with Revenue as an employer in respect of more than one business.

In addition, the REA applies to a "worker" in the construction industry, a term which has a broader definition than "employee" has for the purposes of the Income Tax (Employments)(Consolidated) Regulations 2001. Case law on the definition of "worker" in the Industrial Relations Act 1990 (which gives legal basis to the REA) suggests that the definition is wide enough to include individual subcontractors as a "worker". These subcontractors are ‘self employed' for the purposes of the Taxes Consolidation Act and persons solely engaging these individuals would not have to register with Revenue as employers.

The number of employers on the Revenue Commissioners records with NACE codes that roughly correspond to the definition of building firms or civil engineering firms in the REA is 38,665.

Tax Code.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

120 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance if he will estimate the cost to the Exchequer of tax breaks to artists on an annual basis; if there is a mechanism in place to recoup the money from a recipient who has engaged in unbecoming conduct; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12778/08]

Section 195 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 exempts from income tax certain earnings of writers, composers and artists. Specifically, the exemption applies to earnings from writing, composing or executing a certain work, which has been determined by the Revenue Commissioners to be an original and creative work, having or generally recognised as having cultural or artistic merit. The exemption is only available to individuals who are resident in the State and not resident elsewhere for tax purposes. Where these conditions are satisfied there is no provision for the withdrawal of the relief.

The cost to the Exchequer of the artists' exemption scheme in 2004, the most recent year for which statistics are available, is estimated at €28 million.

Waste Management.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

121 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance if his Department has a strategy to reduce the level of printed correspondence, communications, reports and other documents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12790/08]

A number of measures have been taken in my Department to reduce the volume of paper used in conducting Departmental business.

In relation to payments in the economy generally, the Deputy will be aware that my Department's policy is to maximise the usage of electronic forms of payment instead of cheques or payable orders and I would draw the Deputy's attention to measures that I introduced in the recent Budget towards that end. Almost all suppliers to my Department and programme beneficiaries from my Department's Vote as well as staff expenses are paid by electronic funds transfer, rather than by paper payable orders as would have been the case in the past.

The Paymaster General's Office has recently replaced paper based methods for the transfer of funds in support of Departmental payments systems with an electronic system. It is also in the process of providing Departments and Offices with an online reporting facility to replace the paper monthly reports which are issued.

In the case of staff remuneration, almost all of my Department's staff are paid electronically and the greater number of them have also opted for electronic payslips instead of a paper version. Arrangements are in hand to have all wage and salary recipients use electronic payslips where this is feasible.

Other initiatives being undertaken to reduce the volume of printed documentation are the publishing of reports on the Department's website and the publishing of office notices and circulars on an electronic bulletin board. An electronic version of the Public Service Management System is due to be introduced. There are also plans to enhance the Departmental intranet to include additional information relevant to staff. In addition all printers procured must have automatic duplex functionality which allows for printing on both sides of the page.

National Monuments.

Eamon Scanlon

Ceist:

122 Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance the reason Grianán Ailig has been removed from the list of national monuments here; the person by whom and the reason this decision was made; the person who is responsible for this monument; the action that can be taken for it to regain its place on the list; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12806/08]

Grianán an Aileach, a National Monument in state care, is listed on the record of Monuments and Places under section 12 of the National Monuments (Amendment) Act 1994, and has not been removed from the list.

National Pensions Reserve Fund.

Joan Burton

Ceist:

123 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance the value of the National Pensions Reserve Fund to date and at the end of each year since its inception; the impact global financial uncertainty is expected to have on the holdings of the NPRF in the short term; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12830/08]

Joan Burton

Ceist:

134 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance if he will propose an increase in State contributions into the National Pensions Reserve Fund in view of the likely increase in liabilities arising from improvements in life expectancy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12935/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 123 and 134 together.

The National Pensions Reserve Fund was established on 2 April 2001 with the objective of meeting as much as possible of the cost to the Exchequer of social welfare pensions and public service pensions to be paid from the year 2025 until at least 2055.

For this purpose, the National Pensions Reserve Fund Act 2000 provides that 1% of GNP is to be paid from the Exchequer into the Fund each year. I do not propose to increase the Exchequer contribution to the Fund at this time.

The estimated market value of the fund on 26 December 2007 was €21.3 billion. The Commission publishes fund value and performance figures on a quarterly basis. I understand that an updated 2007 outturn and outturn figures to the end of March 2008 will be published shortly. The value of the National Pensions Reserve Fund at year-end since inception was:

Year

€ million

End-2001

7,715*

End-2002

7,426

End-2003

9,561

End-2004

11,689

End-2005

15,419

End-2006

18,900

*€6,515 million was paid into the Fund from the Temporary Holding Fund for superannuation Liabilities on its establishment on 2 April 2001.

The full accounts of the Fund are published in the annual reports of the National Pensions Reserve Fund Commission. The reports are available on the Commission's website www.nprf.ie.

Under the National Pensions Reserve Fund Act 2000, the National Pensions Reserve Fund Commission controls and manages the National Pensions Reserve Fund. The Commission has discretionary authority to determine the Fund's investment strategy in accordance with the Fund's statutory investment policy of securing the optimal total financial return provided the level of risk to the moneys held or invested is acceptable to the Commission. This framework has given the Commission the freedom to develop, outside of the political process, a long-term investment strategy primarily based on a diversified portfolio of real assets. Indeed, a long-term State fund with no need for liquidity and no requirement to match liabilities on a yearly basis has some clear advantages in seeking to maximise long-term investment returns.

I am aware and I accept that the appropriate investment strategy for a long-term investment fund can involve occasional short-term volatility. In its 2006 Annual Report, the Commission states that its asset allocation strategy is founded on the premise that real assets, such as equities and property, whose performance is linked to the rate of economic growth, will continue, over the long term, to outperform financial assets such as bonds. It goes on to say that, while equities are inherently more volatile than bonds, with sharp performance swings over short time periods, the Fund's long-term investment horizon enables it to accept this volatility in a trade-off for the higher expected return.

Savings Incentive Schemes.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

124 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance his views on the introduction of a savings incentive scheme aimed at welfare dependent and low income families to encourage saving and to reduce reliance on money-lenders. [12209/08]

I assume the Deputy is suggesting the development of a savings scheme for low-income households similar to the SSIA scheme which has now concluded. While this may have some socially progressive features, I am not convinced that it is the best way forward to address issues relating to welfare dependency and low income families. It is more effective to provide more jobs, combined with security, good wages, and developing better social welfare support. That is, and continues to be, the Government's policy focus.

Tax Code.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

125 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will be issued with a P21 balancing statement for 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12873/08]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a PAYE Balancing Statement Form P21 for the year 2007 issued to the taxpayer on 1 April 2008.

Jimmy Deenihan

Ceist:

126 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance when a person (details supplied) in County Kerry will receive payment of a tax rebate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12906/08]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a claim for a refund of income tax for the 2007 tax year for the person concerned was received on 8 February 2008.

A PAYE Balancing Statement issued to the taxpayer on 18 March 2008 and a cheque issued on 20 March 2008. All tax paid in 2007 has now been refunded.

Departmental Properties.

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

127 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance the future usage he has in mind for the portion of the building that remains unoccupied in a complex (details supplied) in Dublin 5; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12919/08]

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

128 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance the rental income for each floor or per unit in an Office of Public Works building (details supplied) in Dublin 5; the occupancy levels of same; the percentage of the building that remains unoccupied; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12920/08]

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

129 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance if he will provide this Deputy with a list of the Office of Public Works owned buildings at a location (details supplied) in Dublin 5; when each of the individual buildings were built; if he will provide a breakdown of the usage of the buildings, that is, the groups which use what sections of each building; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12921/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 127 to 129, inclusive, together.

The Northside Civic Centre was completed by the Office of Public Works in 2003. The OPW are currently attempting to finalise the transfer of the site from Dublin City Council. The main building is almost fully occupied but the crèche annex remains unused. A crèche operator has recently been appointed and the OPW is currently evaluating work proposals for the upgrading of the crèche space to current operating standards. The centre is mainly occupied by Community Groups and frontline delivery units of Government Departments.

The current rent level for the Community Groups tenants is €19.00 per sq. ft. While all tenants are up to date in the payment of their service to the Facilities Management operator there is a high level of rental payment default which the OPW are endeavouring to address.

Tax Code.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

130 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance the grounds on which a form 12 may be sent by the Revenue Commissioners to a tax-payer whose only source of income is PAYE; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12923/08]

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

131 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance the grounds on which a form 12 may be sent to a tax-payer by the Revenue Commissioners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12924/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 130 and 131 together.

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that, under the provisions of Section 879 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, an individual must submit a return of his or her income, on a form prescribed by the Revenue Commissioners when required to do so by notice given by an inspector. Such return must be submitted within the time limit specified in the notice.

The forms prescribed by the Revenue Commissioners for the making of a tax return include a Form 11 and a Form 12. In general, a tax return made by a PAYE taxpayer is made on a Form 12. The notice requiring such an individual to submit a tax return is contained on the Form. In addition, such an individual must submit his or her tax return by 31 October in the tax year following the tax year in respect of which the return is due.

Forms 12 are issued to PAYE taxpayers on a restricted basis, based on criteria selected by the Revenue Commissioners each year and reviewed each year. The criteria include high income cases, customers with non- PAYE or trading income or who claim the higher value and more complex tax reliefs. For example, in 2007 Revenue issued Forms 12 to single people with an income exceeding €100,000 and to married couples where the combined incomes exceeded €180,000 for the previous year. In addition forms were sent to people who declared untaxed income in 2006 from a variety of sources in excess of €3,174 net. over and above their PAYE income. That included people with foreign salaries, pensions, fees and commission. PAYE taxpayers with specific levels of trading and rental/investment income also were asked to complete a Form 12. Typically in recent years, Revenue issue 40,000 – 50,000 Forms 12 and PAYE taxpayers request and complete a further 40,000 or so Form 12 returns. To put this in context, Revenue has approximately 2.5 million PAYE employments on record. The vast majority of workers never complete a Form 12 as the normal operation of PAYE accounts for their tax liability in full.

Garda Stations.

Charles Flanagan

Ceist:

132 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance the progress made in respect of providing a new Garda station for the town of Portlaoise; if he will confirm that a site has been purchased; when construction of a new building is expected to commence; when the new station is expected to be ready for use; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12927/08]

Negotiations are ongoing with the HSE with regard to the procurement by the Office of Public Works of a site of approximately 2 acres for the construction of a new Garda Station for Portlaoise. On completion of this transaction, OPW will progress this project as a matter of priority.

Pension Provisions.

Joan Burton

Ceist:

133 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance if he will publish an analysis of public sector liabilities at end 2006 and end 2007 in accordance with IAS 19, including the mortality assumptions used in the preparation of the estimates; and the breakdown of these pension liabilities into the areas of Civil Service, Gardaí, Defence Forces, health service, local authorities and education. [12934/08]

The accounting standard IAS 19 is not used in the public service. However an exercise has been carried out to estimate the accrued liability for public service occupational pensions. As of 2007 the accrued pensions liability in respect of all serving and retired public servants was estimated at €75bn. The mortality assumption underlying this estimate is based on a special mortality table which was considered appropriate for use in forecasting pension costs for public servants. Under this mortality table the life expectancy for a male aged 65 is 22 years. There is no breakdown available of the above liability figure in respect of different areas of the public service.

Question No. 134 answered with Question No. 123.

Decentralisation Programme.

David Stanton

Ceist:

135 Deputy David Stanton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 47 of 25 February 2008, the progress made by the Office Of Public Works in sourcing suitable accommodation on an interim basis in order to facilitate the decentralisation of the Public Appointments Service; when he expects the Public Appointments Service to move to Youghal County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12994/08]

Further to Parliamentary Question No 47 of 25 February 2008, the OPW is checking availability of temporary offices in Youghal to accommodate an advance party of staff from the Public Appointments Service (PAS). To date no suitable temporary accommodation has been identified. The Public Appointments Service will transfer one hundred (100) posts to Youghal. Arrangements are proceeding in accordance with their Decentralisation Implementation Plan. In accordance with the indicative timescale set out in the Decentralisation Implementation Group's Report to Government in July 2007 PAS is working towards decentralising to Youghal in the 3rd quarter of 2009 (this is subject to the timely resolution of the title issue in relation to the site for permanent accommodation). Eleven (11) staff are currently in posts in Dublin awaiting a transfer to Youghal.

Energy Efficiency.

Simon Coveney

Ceist:

136 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance the progress his Department has made in achieving this 33% target of energy efficiency in the public sector; if energy use in buildings under the responsibility of his Department is being monitored; if so, the person by whom it is monitored; the recent trends; if buildings under the responsibility of his Department are being retrofitted to improve energy efficiency; if there are capital budgets for energy efficiency measures in his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13125/08]

There are a number of developments underway relating to energy efficiency in the public sector. In this context, I have been advised by the Office of Public works that energy efficient lighting is used for all new buildings and refurbishment work except in exceptional circumstances. Even in the latter, new developments in lighting will mean that even in these unusual circumstances it will be possible to use energy efficient and economic solutions in the foreseeable future. Energy efficient lighting is the norm in schools, hospitals and other public service buildings. Here again it is only in exceptional circumstances that incandescent lighting is used in any new or newly refurbished buildings.

The OPW has an energy awareness programme underway in all large State buildings. Based on an advance pilot programme completed last year this is expected to achieve 15% savings on an annual basis. This energy reduction programme is the first step in achieving the 2020 target of 33%. The progress to date has focused on putting the energy awareness programme in place and it is expected that it will several months before any quantifiable progress will be evident. An essential part of the energy reduction plan is to monitor the energy usage. In respect of my own Department and those operating in the Government Buildings complex, the Office of Public Works provide a monitoring service using a web based logging system which has been installed in advance of the energy awareness programme in the targeted State buildings.

For the present there is no Office of Public Works programme to undertake refurbishment work solely on the basis of energy conservation. Such a programme may be necessary in the future. However, where refurbishment is necessary or planned at present, energy saving will be considered in the designs and any reasonable or economic improvements will be incorporated. My Department does not have a capital budget allocated to energy efficient measures.

Simon Coveney

Ceist:

137 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance the energy criteria the Office of Public Works is using when acquiring or constructing new buildings for the public sector; if the OPW has, is or plans to retrofit any public buildings to improve energy efficiency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13133/08]

The current policy of the OPW with regards to energy criteria for new buildings is to specify a maximum energy performance target of 120kWh/m2 year for standard office accommodation. This target would be considered best practice for this type of building. Other types of building would require individual targets dependant on function and purpose. In the present leased market it is not practical to set a similar type of target and so buildings acquired by lease or existing buildings that are being purchased are not set such an energy target.

As part of the National Climate Change Strategy, the OPW is committed to converting a number of the heating systems in existing buildings to Biomass. This programme of work is underway and is due for completion before the next heating season. Although this is not specifically an energy efficiency measure it will reduce the carbon footprint.

Energy efficiency is considered in the refurbishment of existing accommodation and where economically practical improvements are incorporated into the works to maximise energy performance.

An essential part of the OPW's Staff Energy Awareness Campaign, which is currently underway, is a preliminary energy audit in each of the targeted buildings. It is anticipated that these energy audits will identify areas for improvement in the energy performance in certain buildings and improvement works will be considered when these audits have been completed.

Tax Code.

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

138 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance the status of the fuel excise duty refund for those in public transport services; if his promise to TDs in different political parties in late November 2007 that in the interim the reduced rates applicable to fuel used will be maintained, is still current policy or if he has since reversed that policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13158/08]

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

139 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance if he will report on promises made to TDs in late November 2007 that he would investigate alternative non-tax support mechanisms that could be put in place where appropriate to maintain the assistance currently being provided in response to the cancelling of the fuel excise duty rebate for those in public transport services; the steps he has taken to review alternatives; the measures he plans to introduce; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13159/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 138 and 139 together.

The 2003 EU Energy Tax Directive incorporated special derogations which allowed specific excise duty reliefs to be applied in a number of Member States. In the Irish context, these derogations allowed for reduced rates to apply to fuel used for public transport services which includes school transport services. While these derogations expired on 31 December 2006, Ireland, along with other Member States, sought retention of its derogations beyond that date. However the European Commission, who is the deciding authority, refused such requests.

Consequently, as the Deputy may be aware, the Finance Act 2008 provides the legislative changes to withdraw the relief in respect of fuel used for public passenger transport vehicles. The relief will be withdrawn with effect from 1 November 2008 and the appropriate full excise rates will apply from that date. In the interim the reduced rates applicable to fuel used will be maintained.

However, the Department of Transport and other relevant line Departments, who have primary responsibility in this regard, are, in conjunction with my Department, continuing to explore alternative mechanisms that may be used to direct Exchequer resources toward such services from that date, subject of course to compatibility with competition and EU State Aid requirements. I understand that the Department of Transport is taking legal advice as regards the appropriateness of alternative forms of relief.

Statutory Instruments.

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

140 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the identity of each statutory instrument, falling within his Department’s remit, which has statutory effect under the European Communities Act 1972 or other legislation specifically relating to same; if he will provide a list of such statutory instruments having statutory effect; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13170/08]

Given the volume of data involved in the Deputy's question, the cost of providing the information requested cannot be justified. However, if the Deputy wishes to request information in regard to specific statutory instruments falling within the remit of my Department, I will have the relevant information forwarded to the Deputy. As the Deputy will be aware, statutory instruments are laid before the Oireachtas and subsequently are available in the statute books.

Decentralisation Programme.

Rory O'Hanlon

Ceist:

141 Deputy Rory O’Hanlon asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance the position on the provision of premises for decentralisation in Carrickmacross, County Monaghan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13221/08]

Under the Government's Decentralisation Programme it is proposed to decentralise 85 civil servants from the Department of Social and Family Affairs to Carrickmacross.

The OPW initially decided to participate in a Monaghan County Council backed mixed use development in the town in order to meet the requirements of the Department. This development, for a variety of reasons outside the control of OPW, did not proceed. OPW is now examining further options with Monaghan County Council.

Tax Code.

Ciaran Lynch

Ceist:

142 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance the liability for rates that applies to sporting clubs which are operated on a purely recreational and social basis and where any bar or other profits are used exclusively for the improvement of facilities; if it his intention to make legislative changes in this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13232/08]

In regard to the Valuation Act, 2001, I should point out that the Commissioner of Valuation is independent in the exercise of his duties under the Act and that I, as Minister for Finance, have no function in decisions in this regard.

The Valuation Act, 2001 provides that "community halls" including clubhouses which are not licensed to sell alcohol and whose facilities are not used primarily for profit or gain, are not rateable.

However, the Act provides that where a club is licensed to sell alcohol under the Registration of Clubs Act 1904, the premises occupied by that club are registered and rateable in their entirety which includes all the buildings in the club, notwithstanding their various uses at different times.

The sale of alcohol is a commercial activity and these premises are competing with other commercial premises. The effect of removing any category of rateable property from the valuation base would be to increase the rates burden on other ratepayers.

Where a community hall or a sports club ceases to be licensed for the sale of alcohol it will no longer be rateable.

I have no plans at present to amend the valuation legislation as it applies to voluntary and community sports clubs.

Eamon Scanlon

Ceist:

143 Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance if tax rebates are due to persons (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13235/08]

I have been informed by the Revenue Commissioners that no claims for a refund of tax by the persons in question have been received.

Claims for a refund of tax may be made to the Revenue Commissioners by writing to PAYE Mail Centre, P O Box 63, Ennis, Co Clare or by telephoning the PAYE enquiry line at 1890 22 24 25. Alternatively the persons concerned can register for PAYE online and request reviews through the Revenue Online Service at www.revenue.ie.

Flood Relief.

Brian O'Shea

Ceist:

144 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 206 of 2 April 2008, if he will explain what is meant by where it is considered appropriate on economic, social and environmental grounds to do so. [13241/08]

All flood relief schemes must satisfy certain basic criteria to allow works to be carried out: It must be technically feasible to carry out the proposed works. The proposed works must be cost beneficial. The proposed works must not be detrimental to the environment. A Cost Benefit Analysis and an Environmental Impact Statement of the proposed works are carried out to ascertain as to whether the above criteria are met.

Tax Schemes.

Ulick Burke

Ceist:

145 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance when he proposes to implement the mid-Shannon tourism infrastructure scheme promised in budget 2006; the reason for the delay in issuing the criteria for the scheme and the availability of the necessary application forms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13268/08]

The Mid-Shannon Corridor Tourism Infrastructure Investment Scheme was introduced in the Finance Act 2007. It is a new pilot tax based scheme for tourism facilities in the mid-Shannon area. The scheme is aimed at encouraging the development of new tourism infrastructure, or the refurbishment of existing tourism infrastructure, in that area.

When I announced the scheme I stated that its introduction would be subject to State aid approval from the European Commission. I have very recently received confirmation from the European Commission that the scheme has been approved for State aid purposes. I will shortly make the commencement order for the scheme and this will clear the way for the appointment by the Minister for Arts, Sports and Tourism, in consultation with myself, of the certification Board provided for in the legislation to approve projects under the scheme.

The criteria for the eligibility of projects will be set out in guidelines to be published shortly by the Minister for Arts, Sports and Tourism.

Child Care Services.

James Reilly

Ceist:

146 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will report on the application for funding for a new community crèche (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12965/08]

As the Deputy will be aware, I have responsibility for the National Child-care Investment Programme 2006 — 2010 (NCIP), which will invest €575 million over 5 years, with €358 million of this in capital grant aid for child-care services.

I understand that the Group in question has applied for €1.112 million in capital funding through their local County Child-care Committee. The application is currently being assessed by Pobal, which is engaged to administer grants under the NCIP. Following Pobal's assessment of the application it will be forwarded to the Child-care Directorate of my Office for recommendation on funding. The Group will be notified of the decision in due course.

Waste Management.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

147 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Health and Children if her Department has a strategy to reduce the level of printed correspondence, communications, reports and other documents; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12792/08]

The use of email in the day to day business of the Department has greatly reduced the use of printed material.

With regard to reports and other published documents, on-line publishing will be utilised where appropriate, and the numbers of printed copies will be connected as closely as possible to need.

Proposed Legislation.

James Reilly

Ceist:

148 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of the proposed fair deal nursing home legislation; if the legal drafting difficulties have been successfully addressed; when the legislation will come before the Houses of the Oireachtas; her views on interim arrangements for families who are being forced to sell homes while this legislation is delayed; if her Department has consulted with the stakeholders, in particular Age Action Ireland, who are looking for consultation on the proposed legislation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12813/08]

The Bill providing for the Fair Deal scheme is being finalised by the Office of the Attorney General at present. The legislation is complex, demanding careful consideration in the course of drafting. It would not be appropriate to comment further until the Bill has been brought before the Government for approval.

My colleague, the Minister for Health and Children, intends to publish the Bill as soon as possible following finalisation by the Attorney General and Government approval, and to bring the legislation through the Houses of the Oireachtas thereafter. Interim arrangements, such as the one referred to by the Deputy, will be a matter for the Government approval. In the meantime, an additional 300 long-stay residential care beds are being made available in early 2008. 200 of these beds have been contracted in private nursing homes with the remainder being provided by a new Community Nursing Unit due to open in St. Mary's in the Phoenix Park, Dublin.

Since the announcement of the new scheme, my Department has met with the National Federation of Pensioners' Associations, the Irish Farmers Association, the Irish Senior Citizens Parliament and the Social Partners (which includes Age Action Ireland). The Department also attended the Irish Senior Citizens Parliament AGM at its request and participated in a workshop on the new scheme. On publication of the Bill, further engagement will take place with stakeholders on the details of the new scheme. This will take place under the auspices of Towards 2016.

Health Services.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

149 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will assist the case of a person (details supplied) in County Galway. [12818/08]

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 case investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

150 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will receive a dental appointment in view of the fact that the applicant has being waiting a considerable time for such an appointment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12822/08]

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

Hospital Services.

Olwyn Enright

Ceist:

151 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children when the service plan and overall budget for the Midlands Regional Hospital, Tullamore will be approved; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12841/08]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services is a matter for the Health Service Executive 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 issues raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matters investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Hospital Staff.

Joe McHugh

Ceist:

152 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason nine people including a person (details supplied) were offered a permanent nursing position on 15 August 2007 and were subsequently told due to the embargo on recruitment introduced on 4 September 2007 that no position, temporary or otherwise was offered; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12846/08]

Joe McHugh

Ceist:

153 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children if the recruitment freeze is still in place in Letterkenny General Hospital and St Conal’s; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12850/08]

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

The recruitment pause put in place in September 2007 was initiated as part of the HSE financial break-even plan to facilitate the delivery of services on budget in accordance with the provisions of the 2007 National Service Plan. This pause did not involve random job cuts but did mean that the recruitment of staff to approved positions was delayed. The HSE put in place a derogation process to deal with the filling of essential posts to protect front-line services and close to 900 posts were approved under this process.

This temporary pause in recruitment ended on 31st December 2007 and any posts falling vacant from 1st January 2008 can be filled subject to the provisions Circular 01/2008. This circular sets out the HSE Employment Control Framework for 2008 and is aimed at ensuring that health services are delivered in accordance with the provisions of the 2008 National Service Plan and within the funding provided by Government.

The Employment Control Framework provides for the filling of vacancies arising in 2008, the filling of approved and funded service development posts not filled at the end of 2007 and new service developments in 2008.

As the Deputy will be aware, subject to overall parameters set by Government, the Health Service Executive has the responsibility for determining the composition of its staffing complement. In that regard, it is a matter for the Executive to manage and deploy its human resources to best meet the requirements of its Annual Service Plan for the delivery of health and personal social services to the public. The 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.

Hospital Services.

Barry Andrews

Ceist:

154 Deputy Barry Andrews asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will explain the manner in which payments are made with regard to the delayed discharge grant; the criteria used; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12859/08]

I understand that the issue raised by the Deputy relates to the individual case of an older person in a Dublin hospital. Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services was assigned to the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular 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.

Charles Flanagan

Ceist:

155 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she deems it appropriate that the Midlands Regional Hospital in Tullamore which caters for the population of four counties, is only permitted to carry out four scheduled operations each week; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12864/08]

Operational 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 issue 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.

Pharmacy Services.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

156 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the negotiations that have taken place between the pharmacists and the Health Service Executive. [12865/08]

Michael Ring

Ceist:

157 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the recent negotiations that have taken place between the pharmacists and herself. [12866/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 156 and 157 together.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has been reviewing the pharmaceutical supply chain, from manufacturers and wholesalers through to community pharmacists, with a view to seeking value for money in the State's drugs bill, consistent with patient safety and continuity of supply. After extensive consultation and independent analysis, the HSE announced revised pricing arrangements for wholesale delivery on 17th September 2007.

A process of dialogue was established under Mr. Bill Shipsey SC to address concerns expressed by the Irish Pharmaceutical Union (IPU), on behalf of community pharmacists. At a meeting between the HSE and the IPU under Mr Shipsey SC on 5 December 2007, a proposal was outlined to the IPU to (i) address their immediate concerns regarding the alleged impact of the proposed revised wholesaler arrangements on GMS-dependent pharmacies and (ii) to provide a basis upon which discussions on a new substantive contract could commence. The IPU was not prepared to accept this proposal from the HSE and, accordingly, no further discussions have taken place under Mr Shipsey's aegis since then.

On 18 February 2008 I established an Independent Body to begin work immediately to assess an interim, fair community pharmacy dispensing fee for the existing level of service being provided by pharmacists. This Body is being chaired by Seán Dorgan, former Head of IDA Ireland. It has been asked to make its recommendations by the end of May 2008.

Both the HSE as the contracting body and the IPU as the representative organisation for community pharmacists, along with other stakeholders, are entitled to make submissions to the Independent Body. Its recommended fee level, subject to Government approval, will be backdated to the date from which any pharmacist may choose to avail of the HSE's interim contract offer. The development of a substantive new contract will also get underway as soon as possible. This will be done under the auspices of an agreed facilitator and it too will be priced by the Independent Body.

Hospitals Building Programme.

Charlie O'Connor

Ceist:

158 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will present a report on the development of the proposed new National Children’s Hospital; the schedule being followed in the matter; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12877/08]

The National Paediatric Hospital Development Board has responsibility for planning, designing, building, furnishing and equipping the new national paediatric hospital. The Health Service Executive is working closely with the Development Board in progressing the project. My Department has asked the HSE to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy on the specific issue raised.

Health Services.

James Reilly

Ceist:

159 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of children in Dublin identified as needing speech and language therapy for each of the years 2000 to 2007; the number of children who received therapy; the number of children waiting to receive therapy; the length of time they have been waiting; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12879/08]

The Deputy's specific 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.

James Reilly

Ceist:

160 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of speech and language therapists recruited nationally by the Health Service Executive for each of the years 2000 to 2007; the number of speech and language therapists recruited in 2008; the number of vacancies that have to be filled; the number of therapists employed in Dublin HSE areas for the same period; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12880/08]

James Reilly

Ceist:

162 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of occupational therapists employed nationally by the Health Service Executive per annum for each of the years 2000 to 2007; the number of occupational therapists recruited in 2008; the number of vacancies that have to be filled; the location of these posts; the number of therapists employed in Dublin HSE areas for the same period; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12883/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 160 and 162 together.

Almost 130,000 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 healthcare 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 healthcare needs of the population into the future.

I wish to advise the Deputy that, according to the Health Service Personnel Census, the number (expressed in wholetime equivalents) of occupational therapists and speech and language therapists employed in the public health service for each of the years 2000 to 2007 is as follows:

Occupational Therapists

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

442.97

525.76

650.59

675.29

705.15

837.43

927.62

1024.36

Speech and Language Therapists

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

385.78

399.1

462.29

492.23

497.64

582.54

654.53

711.78

The census does not collate information in relation to the numbers of therapists recruited or vacancies. In that regard, it is a matter for the Executive to manage and deploy its human resources to best meet the requirements of its Annual Service Plan for the delivery of health and personal social services to the public. The 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.

Health Services.

James Reilly

Ceist:

161 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of children in Dublin identified as needing occupational therapy for each of the years 2000 to 2007; the number of children who received therapy; the number of children waiting to receive therapy; the length of time they have been waiting; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12882/08]

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.

Question No. 162 answered with Question No. 160.

James Reilly

Ceist:

163 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of children in Dublin identified as needing orthodontic treatment for each of the years 2000 to 2007; the number of children who received treatment; the number of children waiting to receive treatment; the length of time they have been waiting; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12884/08]

The Deputy's question relates to the funding, 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.

James Reilly

Ceist:

164 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of orthodontists recruited nationally by the Health Service Executive for each of the years 2000 to 2007; the number of orthodontists recruited in 2008; the number of vacancies that have to be filled; the number of orthodontists employed in Dublin HSE areas for the same period; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12885/08]

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

Hospital Services.

James Reilly

Ceist:

165 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of step down, long term care and rehabilitative beds for each of the years 2000 to 2007; the location of these beds; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12886/08]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services was assigned to the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular 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.

James Reilly

Ceist:

166 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of patients inappropriately placed in acute hospital beds in each of the hospitals (details supplied) who are in need of alternative post-acute care; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12887/08]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services is a matter for the Health Service Executive 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 issues raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matters investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

James Bannon

Ceist:

167 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Longford, who has been a patient in the Mater Hospital on and off since 1999 with serious illness, should have to wait for an urgently required CT scan due to it being incorrectly ordered by the doctor who has only seen the patient, who has been under his care, once in two years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12889/08]

Operational 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 case 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.

Joe Carey

Ceist:

168 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Health and Children the general hospitals which have a CT scanner in place; the average cost of purchase; the annual budget to staff appropriately a CT scanner in the general hospital network; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12892/08]

Operational 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 issue 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.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

169 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be admitted to hospital in Galway for the removal of a cancerous tumour. [12894/08]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services is a matter for the Health Service Executive 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 case 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.

Community Care.

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

170 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of funding allocated to home helps and home care packages in each of the Health Service Executive community care areas for 2007 and 2008; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12900/08]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services was assigned to the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular 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.

Mental Health Services.

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

171 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if the extra four child and adolescent psychiatric beds for St. Anne’s, Galway and the extra six such beds for St. Vincent’s, Fairview, Dublin have been provided as promised by March 2008 in the reply to Parliamentary Question No. 113 of 17 October 2007; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12903/08]

The Deputy's question of 17 October last was referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply. In their reply to the Deputy, the Executive indicated that additional bed capacity would become available in March 2008.

Operational 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. The Executive, therefore, is the appropriate body to consider the particular 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.

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

172 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children the psychiatric services available to adolescents aged 16 to 18 in the public health services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12904/08]

Operational 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. The Executive, therefore, is the appropriate body to consider the particular 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.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

173 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will assist a person (details supplied) in County Dublin. [12913/08]

Persons and their dependants who would otherwise experience undue hardship in meeting the cost of General Practitioner (GP) services qualify for a medical card, which entitles them to a range of health services free of charge. In 2005, the GP visit card was introduced as a graduated benefit so that people on moderate and lower incomes, particularly parents of young children, who did not qualify for a medical card, would not be deterred on cost grounds from visiting their GP.

The assessment of eligibility for medical cards and GP visit cards is statutorily a matter for the Health Service Executive (HSE) and, with the exception of persons aged 70 and over, who have an automatic statutory entitlement to a medical card, is determined following an examination of the means of the applicant and his/her dependants (income and relevant outgoings). The GP visit card assessment threshold is 50% higher than the medical card threshold.

Since 2006, additional funding has been allocated to the HSE for the implementation of the Primary Care Strategy, which aims to develop services in the community to give people direct access to integrated multidisciplinary teams of occupational therapists, general practitioners, nurses, home helps, physiotherapists, and others. Under the Towards 2016 agreement, the Government is committed to further increasing the number of Primary Care Teams on a phased basis between 2008 and 2011. Furthermore, as part of the Multi-Annual Investment Programme 2006-2009 under the Disability Strategy, the Government provided the Health Service Executive with an additional €75 million in both 2006 and 2007, with a further €50 million provided in 2008. This funding includes moneys to provide new and enhanced services for people with disabilities.

As the Health Service Executive has the operational and funding responsibility for these benefits and services, it is the appropriate body to consider the particular case raised by the Deputy. My Department has therefore requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to address this matter and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Pharmacy Services.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

174 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason the Health Service Executive is not responding to legal correspondence from individual pharmacies. [12915/08]

The Deputy's question relates to matters within the area of responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. 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.

National Treatment Purchase Fund.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

175 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will advise on the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 17. [12918/08]

The National Treatment Purchase Fund arranges hospital-based treatment for patients who have been waiting longest on surgical, in-patient waiting lists. The Fund also arranges out-patient consultations for persons who are waiting longest for first time appointments with a consultant. However, this scheme only applies in a number of hospitals and the specialties to which it applies vary from one year to another depending on the length of waiting lists. In addition, a person may not self-refer for an out-patient appointment. The out-patient scheme applies only on application by the hospitals concerned.

Hospital Accommodation.

Dan Neville

Ceist:

176 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding approval by her Department for a capital plan for a 25 stationed unit at the Mid West Regional Hospital which has been submitted to the National Hospitals Office. [12936/08]

Operational 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 issue 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.

Hospital Services.

James Reilly

Ceist:

177 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will confirm that an audit of services is taking place at Sligo General Hospital; if this audit covers breast cancer services, all cancer services and all services; if this audit is being carried out by the Health Information and Quality Authority, the terms of reference for the audit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12938/08]

John Perry

Ceist:

181 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Health and Children the situation regarding the withdrawal of mammographical and breast cancer surgery services at Sligo General Hospital; if, in view of the audit of services at the hospital to be carried out by the Health Information and Quality Authority, she will provide assurances that all cancer services will be retained in the likely event of a positive report from the HIQA audit on the high quality of cancer care currently being provided at Sligo General Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12961/08]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

221 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the purpose of the audit to be conducted in Sligo General Hospital by the Health Information and Quality Authority; the criteria under which the HIQA is carrying out this audit; if the outcomes of this audit will be made public; the timeframe for this publication; and if the retention or withdrawal of diagnostic and surgical breast care cancer services is contingent on the outcome of the HIQA assessment. [13409/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 177, 181 and 221 together.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has designated University College Hospital Galway and Limerick Regional Hospital as the two cancer centres in the Managed Cancer Control Network for the HSE Western Region, which includes Sligo. The designation of cancer centres aims to ensure that patients receive the highest quality care while at the same time allowing local access to services, where appropriate.

Where diagnosis and treatment planning is directed and managed by multidisciplinary teams based at the cancer centres, then much of the treatment (other than surgery) can be delivered in local hospitals, such as Sligo General Hospital. In this context, chemotherapy and support services will continue to be delivered locally. Cancer day care units, including at Sligo General Hospital, will continue to have an important role in delivering services to patients as close to home as possible.

The decisions of the HSE in relation to four managed cancer control networks and eight cancer centres will be implemented on a managed and phased basis. Professor Tom Keane, Director of the HSE's National Cancer Control Programme, is currently engaging in detailed planning to facilitate the orderly phased transfer of services between locations. The key objective of the National Cancer Control Programme is to ensure equity of access to services and equality of patient mortality and survival irrespective of geography. This will involve significant re-alignment of cancer services to move from the present fragmented system of care to one which is consistent with international best practice in cancer control.

Following the publication of the National Quality Assurance Standards for Symptomatic Breast Disease, the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) advised that it would be conducting a quality review of the implementation of these standards. HIQA will work closely with Professor Keane to ensure that this review supports the move toward the eight cancer centres and assures the safe transition of services in the remaining centres. My Department has requested HIQA to respond directly to the Deputies in relation to the specific queries raised by them about the audit.

Vaccination Programme.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Ceist:

178 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for Health and Children if supplies of the BCG vaccine are available following difficulties with the provision of the vaccine at the end of 2007; the timescale for when she expects the backlog of vaccinations that built up while the vaccine was unavailable to be cleared; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12939/08]

Tom Sheahan

Ceist:

213 Deputy Tom Sheahan asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason the BCG vaccine for babies is no longer available to parents who wish to have their children vaccinated; and the actions parents should take. [13246/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 178 and 213 together.

I understand from the Health Service Executive (HSE) that, owing to regulatory difficulties experienced by the manufacturer of the BCG vaccine, there was a shortage of the vaccine from late 2007. This was a Europe-wide problem as the manufacturer in question is the only company which supplies the vaccine to the European Market. Unfortunately, it is not possible to stockpile the vaccine as it has a very short shelf life. These difficulties have now been resolved and new stocks of licensed vaccine are now available.

I understand from the HSE that clinics have now resumed and that parents of any baby who has not received BCG vaccine will be contacted by their Local Health Office with an appointment to receive the vaccine.

Nursing Homes Repayment Scheme.

Eamon Scanlon

Ceist:

179 Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Health and Children the anticipated timescale for the payment of refunds under the health repayment scheme for a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12943/08]

The Health Service Executive has responsibility for administering the Repayment Scheme and the information sought by the Deputy relates to matters within the area of responsibility of the Executive. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued to the Deputy.

Private Health Insurance.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

180 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Health and Children the Competition Authority’s recommendations regarding private health insurance that have been implemented by her Department to date; the recommendations she will implement in the future; the recommendations she will not implement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12956/08]

The Competition Authority submitted its report on the health insurance market in January last year. The Authority made 16 recommendations to improve competition in the health insurance market. This report was one of three reports received in early 2007. Others were submitted by the Health Insurance Authority (HIA) and the Barrington Group. The recommendations contained in all three reports were considered by the Government on 24 April 2007 and the Government made a number of decisions concerning the health insurance market based on recommendations in all three reports.

Five of the recommendations of the Authority concerned VHI attaining authorisation or related matters. The Voluntary Health Insurance (Amendment) Bill recently passed by the Dáil and due for final consideration by the Seanad tomorrow provides accordingly. Seven recommendations related to the HIA's oversight of the market covering consumer information and awareness, switching, enhancing its powers, employer deduction arrangements, the use of the health status weight in the Risk Equalisation Scheme and moving to a prospective risk equalisation system.

The HIA continues to run media campaigns covering consumer issues and to address this and other consumer matters on its website. In addition it has recently reached agreement with the industry on providing more information in renewal notices. The question of the use of the health status weight in the Risk Equalisation Scheme is a matter for the HIA. The question of assigning additional legislative powers to the Authority is under consideration. Recommendations were also made covering the minimum benefit package and the sale of limited cover plans. On foot of the Government's consideration of the three Reports, the HIA is currently undertaking a detailed study on the extent to which community rating should apply and it is also considering the Competition Authority's recommendation on moving to a prospective risk equalisation system.

I have written to the Chairman of the VHI concerning the Authority's recommendation relating to VHI's travel insurance. VHI has had discussions with the Financial Regulator on this issue. The Authority also recommended that entitlement to the three year exemption from risk equalisation payments be clarified. Having regard to that recommendation and related recommendations made in the other reports considered by the Government, legislation removing the exemption was enacted last year. The Department has also written to the employers representative body concerning the manner in which salary deduction mechanisms operate.

The bulk of the recommendations made in the Reports from the Competition Authority, the Health Insurance Authority and the Barrington Report have already been implemented, or are in the process of being implemented or being given consideration.

Question No. 181 answered with Question No. 177.

General Medical Services Scheme.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Ceist:

182 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for Health and Children the options available to a citizen who is entitled to a medical card and has sought to become a patient of local doctors, but has been told in each case that there is a waiting list for new patients of the general practitioner’s surgery, and has already been waiting over a year on such lists; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12962/08]

Under the Health Act, 2004, the Health Service Executive (HSE) has the responsibility to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. This includes responsibility for arrangements to ensure appropriate service delivery for General Medical Services (GMS) Scheme (medical card and GP visit card) patients.

Services under the GMS Scheme are provided by general practitioners (GPs) holding contracts with the HSE. The terms of these contracts were agreed on foot of negotiations with the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO). Under the terms agreed, contracts are made available where the HSE decides, after consultation with the IMO, that there is a need for a service having regard to a range of factors, including whether the needs of the population in the area are met by the services already available. The agreement also provides that the number of persons on a GP's patient panel may not exceed 2,000, save in exceptional circumstances. Not all GPs hold GMS contracts, as they may not qualify or wish to provide services under the Scheme.

When a person qualifies for a medical card or GP visit card, he/she accesses services by choosing a GP from a list of local GPs who have been contracted to provide services under the GMS Scheme. The person will be assigned to the GP he/she has chosen from the list subject to the GP's acceptance and his/her total patient list being within the agreed limit. If a person is unsuccessful in locating a GP who is able to take on additional patients, the HSE may in certain circumstances assign an eligible patient to a medical practitioner's list.

The arrangements for the provision of publicly funded GP services, including those provided under the GMS Scheme, are under review. I regard the existing arrangements in relation to access by GPs to public contracts as unnecessarily restrictive and it is my wish that new contractual arrangements for the provision of publicly-funded GP services should ensure that HSE contracts are open to all suitably qualified and equipped doctors.

Hospital Services.

James Reilly

Ceist:

183 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will report on the unavailability of laser treatment for neurology conditions in the neurology department of Beaumont Hospital apparently due to delays in installing new cleaning technology; if this is the case, the interim measures in place to ensure patients in pain can access timely treatment for their neurology conditions (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12967/08]

Operational 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 issue 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.

North-South Co-operation.

John Perry

Ceist:

184 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Health and Children the status of a joint North-South feasibility study on the potential for future co-operation in the health area (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12968/08]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has designated University College Hospital Galway (UCHG) and Limerick Regional Hospital as the two cancer centres in the Managed Cancer Control Network for the HSE Western Region, which includes Sligo. The designation of cancer centres aims to ensure that patients receive the highest quality care while at the same time allowing local access to services, where appropriate.

Where diagnosis and treatment planning is directed and managed by multidisciplinary teams based at the cancer centres, then much of the treatment (other than surgery) can be delivered in local hospitals, such as Sligo General Hospital. In this context, chemotherapy and support services will continue to be delivered locally. Cancer day care units, including at Sligo General Hospital, will continue to have an important role in delivering services to patients as close to home as possible.

The decisions of the HSE in relation to four managed cancer control networks and eight cancer centres will be implemented on a managed and phased basis. Professor Tom Keane, Director of the HSE's National Cancer Control Programme, is currently engaging in detailed planning to facilitate the orderly phased transfer of services between locations. The key objective of the National Cancer Control Programme is to ensure equity of access to services and equality of patient mortality and survival irrespective of geography. This will involve significant re-alignment of cancer services to move from the present fragmented system of care to one which is consistent with international best practice in cancer control. Patients from Sligo needing radiotherapy continue to be referred to the Radiation Oncology Department at UCHG for treatment.

I met with Minister Michael McGimpsey of the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS), Northern Ireland on 28 November last. The potential for further cross-Border co-operation and collaboration in relation to cancer care, and specifically, provision of a satellite centre for radiation oncology in the North West, linked to Belfast City Hospital was discussed. Consideration of a satellite centre in the North West will have regard to populations in Border counties e.g. Donegal, Derry, and possibly parts of Fermanagh and Tyrone. It was agreed that both Departments would progress this issue through the Joint North/South Feasibility Study on the potential for future co-operation. In this context my Department has provided data on cancer incidence in border counties to the DHSSPS. It is expected that the Study relating to radiation oncology services will conclude in a few months time.

Nursing Home Subventions.

Ciaran Lynch

Ceist:

185 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the delay in putting in place the fair deal scheme is causing financial hardship to those who depend on the subvention and enhanced subvention schemes as increases in 2008 are not covered by subvention; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12970/08]

My colleague, the Minister for Health and Children, and I are anxious for the new nursing home support scheme to come into operation as soon as possible. In the interim, the existing subvention scheme continues to operate. The aim of the subvention scheme is to provide financial assistance to older people towards the cost of maintenance in a private nursing home.

In January 2007 the rate of basic subvention was increased substantially, to €300 per week. This means that many more people should be eligible for subvention than in the past. Also, additional funding was made available for both subvention and enhanced subvention last year. The amount of enhanced subvention paid is at the discretion of the HSE and varies according to the cost of care. Individuals who are in receipt of a subvention may apply for a review if their nursing home increases its fees.

Health Levy.

Phil Hogan

Ceist:

186 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a health levy exemption will be granted to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12501/08]

The Health Contribution was introduced by virtue of the Health Contributions Act 1979 and came into effect on the 6th April of that year. The contributions are levied on income at a percentage rate set in pursuance of the Health Contributions Act and are paid over to the Minister for Health and Children in respect of the Vote for the Health Service Executive. The current rate of contribution is 2% of gross income up to €1,925 per week or €100,100 per annum and 2.5% on the balance of income in excess of those amounts in a contribution year. Subject to exemptions, the rate of contribution is applicable to all persons over the age of sixteen with reckonable income, earnings or emoluments.

The exemptions, as outlined in Section 11 of the Act, are those whose income does not exceed €480 per week, those who are fully eligible for health services as set out in Section 45 of the Health Act 1970 (i.e. medical cardholders in this State, including those workers covered under EC Regulation 1408/71), recipients of a Social Welfare Widow's/Widower's Pension, One-parent Family Payment or Deserted Wife's Benefit/Allowance, as well as those in receipt of a Widow'/Widower's pension acquired under the social security legislation of an EU member State.

When the primary legislation was enacted no upper age limit applied to the health contribution. However, as the Deputy is aware, following the announcement in Budget 2001, full eligibility for health services under Section 45 of the Health Act was granted to those aged 70 and over, effectively placing an upper age limit of 69 years on liability to pay health contributions.

As the Health Contribution is not in fact granted to an individual but is rather levied upon an individual's reckonable income, I have asked officials in my Department to investigate the matter and reply directly to the Deputy as a matter of urgency.

Mental Health Services.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

187 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress made on recommendations contained in A Vision for Change; if she is satisfied with the implementation of the plan to date; if she will provide a further detailed implementation plan setting out the major activities to implement the plan, with explicit annualised performance targets and indicators, budgets and timelines; and if same will be published by the third anniversary of A Vision for Change in January 2009. [12978/08]

The Report of the Expert Group on Mental Health Policy, ‘A Vision for Change', which was launched in January 2006, provides a framework for action to develop modern, high quality mental health services over a seven to ten year period. The Government has accepted the Report as the basis for the future development of our mental health services. Implementation of the Report is the responsibility of the HSE.

An independent Monitoring Group was established in March 2006, to monitor and assess progress by the Health Service Executive, government departments and other agencies in implementing the recommendations set out in the Report. The Monitoring Group's first annual report was published in May 2007. The Monitoring Group indicated that despite some significant initiatives, there was little evidence of a systematic approach to implementation within the HSE.

In January 2008, the Government announced the establishment of the Office for Disability and Mental Health. The Office's functions include driving the recommendations of ‘A Vision for Change', bringing a new impetus to the implementation of the Report through working in partnership with the HSE and other stakeholders to achieve implementation of agreed targets.

The HSE recently approved an Implementation Plan which sets out six key priorities for 2008 and 2009. Following concerns raised by the Office for Disability and Mental Health regarding the need for a longer-term focus, the HSE has indicated that it will prepare a more comprehensive plan before the end of this year.

Departmental Reports.

Sean Sherlock

Ceist:

188 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the timeframe for delivering the recommendations contained in the National Taskforce on Obesity report published in 2005; if she will clarify which of the 93 recommendations have been implemented to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12979/08]

The Health Service Executive has established a Working Group to implement the recommendations of The Report of the National Taskforce on Obesity, for which it has the lead responsibility. A sum of €3 million was allocated for this purpose in 2006. This in addition to the annual spend of €25 million on health promotion activities, €5 million of which is also utilised in specifically anti-obesity initiatives. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the timeframe for implementation investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

My Department is working to address the wider health determinants, including issues such as diet, physical activity, food production and promotion which are covered in the Task Force's recommendations.

Sean Sherlock

Ceist:

189 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to a report (details supplied) which found that children here have a limited daily consumption of fruit and vegetables, while a fifth of children were found to be under-active or severely under-active; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12980/08]

In August 2007 my Department published The Health Behaviour in School Children (HBSC) survey 2006. This data from the HBSC survey provides a comprehensive picture of the health behaviours of school aged children. The data has shown a need to continue promoting the consumption of fruit and vegetables among children. Likewise, the data in relation to physical activity highlights the need to encourage children to remain active and to provide as many opportunities as possible for all children to take exercise. My Department will forward a copy of the HBSC survey to the Deputy directly for his information.

My Department and the Department of Education and Science have been involved in developing healthy eating guidelines for schools. Guidelines for pre-schools and primary schools are already developed and appropriate healthy eating training by community dieticians with preschool and primary school staff is currently underway. A number of schools are already implementing the guidelines. Post-primary school guidelines are being printed and will be launched shortly.

In order to address the nutritional needs of the population, my Department is in the final stages of the development of a National Nutrition Policy which will indicate how the appropriate policy direction for the nutritional needs of the population can be met in the coming years. Guidelines and recommendations on levels of physical activity are currently being devised by the Population Health Directorate of the Health Service Executive.

Health Services.

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

190 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will respond to a query from a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12982/08]

Operational 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 case 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.

Hospital Services.

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

191 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Health and Children when it is intended to provide a new dialysis facility at Limerick Regional Hospital. [12984/08]

Operational 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 issue 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.

Health Service Staff.

David Stanton

Ceist:

192 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of Health Service Executive staff currently on maternity leave or leave of absence; the arrangements in place by the HSE to provide cover for this leave through replacement staff, overtime and so on; the percentage of positions for which full cover is being provided; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13089/08]

Almost 130,000 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.

Subject to overall parameters set by Government, the Health Service Executive has the responsibility for determining the composition of its staffing complement. In that regard, it is a matter for the Executive to manage and deploy its human resources to best meet the requirements of its Annual Service Plan for the delivery of health and personal social services to the public. The 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.

Hospital Services.

Olwyn Enright

Ceist:

193 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to patients having to travel from the midlands, where there is a renal unit at the Midlands Regional Hospital, Tullamore, to other units around the country for dialysis; the measures being taken to facilitate these patients to attend a unit closer to them; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13095/08]

Olwyn Enright

Ceist:

194 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children when the renal unit at the Midlands Regional Hospital, Tullamore will be fully opened to patients; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13096/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 193 and 194 together.

Operational 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 issues raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matters investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Community Care.

Pat Breen

Ceist:

195 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to plans to provide a facility (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13102/08]

Michael Kennedy

Ceist:

197 Deputy Michael Kennedy asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the extension of Skerries Health Centre; the background to the project; the status of the project and the expected completion date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13107/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 195 and 197 together.

The Primary Care Strategy aims to increase health service capacity through the development of services in the community to give people direct access to integrated multidisciplinary teams of general practitioners, nurses, home helps, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and others. It has been estimated that up to 95% of people's health and social services needs can be properly met within a primary care setting and the establishment of new Primary Care Teams can contribute greatly to enhancing community based health services.

The provision of the appropriate infrastructure to facilitate the delivery of primary care services is being considered by the HSE, having regard to a number of factors. These include the type and configuration of the services involved, the mixed public/private nature of our health system, the suitability of existing infrastructure and the capital requirements of the health services generally over the coming years. I understand that in December 2007 the HSE sought expressions of interest from the private sector for the provision of the Primary Care Team infrastructure, with the HSE proposing to enter into fixed term leases with such providers.

As the Health Service Executive has the operational and funding responsibility for Primary Care services, it is the appropriate body to consider the particular matters raised by the Deputies. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have these matters investigated and to have replies issued directly to the Deputies.

Hospitals Building Programme.

Michael Kennedy

Ceist:

196 Deputy Michael Kennedy asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the construction of a project (details supplied); the background to the project; the status of the project and the expected completion date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13106/08]

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 these matters investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Question No. 197 answered with Question No. 195.

Hospital Services.

Brian O'Shea

Ceist:

198 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will give her total effort and commitment to removing with full haste the obstacles to the progress of the putting in place of the new cancer services unit at Waterford Regional Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13108/08]

The Health Service Executive has designated Waterford Regional Hospital as one of two cancer centres in the Managed Cancer Control Network for the HSE South. Professor Tom Keane took up his position as interim Director of the National Cancer Control Programme last November. The decision of the HSE to establish four managed cancer control networks and eight cancer centres under the Programme will be implemented on a managed and phased basis. The Department is working closely with the HSE in implementing the National Plan for Radiation Oncology. The Plan consists of four large centres in Dublin (at St. James's and Beaumont Hospitals), Cork and Galway and two integrated satellite centres at Limerick Regional Hospital and Waterford Regional Hospital. The HSE has confirmed that it will have in place radiation oncology capacity to meet the needs of the population by 2010. After 2010 the HSE will continue to increase capacity to ensure that these needs continue to be met. I am fully confident that this will be achieved through a combination of direct Exchequer provision, PPP and, where appropriate, the use of the private sector. The development of radiation oncology at Waterford Regional Hospital is an integral part of the Government's National Plan for Radiation Oncology. In the interim, a service level agreement was signed on 1 February 2007 between the HSE and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre at Whitfield Clinic. This is supporting the referral of public patients for radiation oncology treatment pending the commissioning of the radiation oncology centre at Waterford Regional Hospital. The public outpatient clinics for Whitfield Clinic commenced in Waterford Regional Hospital in March 2007.

Cancer Screening Programme.

Joe Costello

Ceist:

199 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide BreastCheck services in Sligo General Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13111/08]

BreastCheck commenced the screening process in the Western Region last May, with the provision of a mobile unit on the grounds of Roscommon County Hospital. I officially opened the BreastCheck static unit for the Western Region at University College Hospital Galway last December. An additional €26.7 million capital funding was provided for the construction of two new static units, eight additional mobile units and the provision of state of the art digital equipment. A total of €15 million of additional revenue funding has been allocated to cater for national roll-out of the programme. The full complement of 111 staff for roll-out has been approved and recruitment is under way. The screening sequence for roll out to individual counties will be dictated by BreastCheck's operational considerations such as maximising uptake, most efficient use of mobile and static units and radiographic personnel. The programme is designed to offer repeat screening within an interval of 21-27 months. Women in Sligo will be screened from a mobile digital screening unit linked to the Western Unit.

Energy Efficiency.

Simon Coveney

Ceist:

200 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress her Department has made in achieving the 33% target of energy efficiency in the public sector; if energy use in buildings under the responsibility of her Department is being monitored; if so the person by whom it is monitored; the recent trends; if buildings under the responsibility of her Department are being retrofitted to improve energy efficiency; if there are capital budgets for energy efficiency measures in her Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13127/08]

In conjunction with the Office of Public Works, my Department is taking part in the Optimising Power @ Work Campaign. We have appointed an Energy Officer to work with the relevant Consultants assisting in rolling out the campaign. To date an energy audit has been carried out in our main HQ in Hawkins House. This audit will be used to develop a profile of use which will then be used to establish targets for the reduction in emissions. The results of this audit will be presented at an awareness information session scheduled for all staff on the 21st and 22nd of this month. In 2007 all the old lighting in Hawkins House was replaced with new energy efficient lighting. This included the installation of automatic lights in all kitchenettes which switch off when not in use. In 2007 an environmental sub committee of the Department's Partnership Group was established made up of staff across the Department. The role of this committee is to examine all avenues of energy saving, as well as other environmental issues, and to bring them to the attention of all staff. This committee will assist in driving efficiency measures across the Department. Measures being taken by agencies under the aegis of my Department are matters for the agencies themselves. My Department is asking the agencies concerned to reply directly to the Deputy in this regard.

Grant Payments.

Billy Timmins

Ceist:

201 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position in relation to the home care grant for the west Wicklow area and the Wicklow area; if funding will be provided as a matter of urgency; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13136/08]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services was assigned to the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular 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.

Health Services.

Billy Timmins

Ceist:

202 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position in relation to the specialist palliative care specialist nursing service in Wicklow Community Care, which has been withdrawn; if same will be provided as a matter of urgency; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13137/08]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services was assigned to the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular 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.

Child Care Services.

Dan Neville

Ceist:

203 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children when she will be providing the extra funding to a home (details supplied) in County Cork to provide staffing grant for week-end cover in a children’s residential home in Love Lane, Charleville, County Cork; and if she will also provide funding for staff for the same residential services bungalow at Love Lane, Charleville, County Cork to cover the summer and Easter months. [13146/08]

As part of the Multi-Annual Investment Programme 2006-2009 under the Disability Strategy, the Government provided the Health Service Executive with an additional €75 million in both 2006 and 2007. This funding included moneys to provide new and enhanced services for people with disabilities, to implement Part 2 of the Disability Act 2005, which came into effect on June 1st 2007 for the under fives and also for the continuation of the implementation of the transfer of persons with intellectual disability from psychiatric hospitals and other inappropriate placements. The Government is also honouring its promise in relation to the Multi-Annual Investment Programme for people with disabilities, with a further €50 million investment which was announced in the 2008 Budget. The Deputy's specific question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

204 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the cancellations of eye assessments at the Mater Hospital due to malfunction of eye photographic equipment which has resulted in appointments being cancelled and rescheduled for a date fifteen months away; if she has satisfied herself that the availability of equipment for this purpose in the Mater Hospital is adequate to meet the requirements of patients; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13152/08]

Operational 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 issue raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matters investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Statutory Instruments.

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

205 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the identity of each statutory instrument, falling within her Department’s remit, which has statutory effect under the European Communities Act 1972 or other legislation specifically relating to same; if she will provide a list of such statutory instruments having statutory effect; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13172/08]

The information requested by the Deputy is not readily available within my Department in the format requested by the Deputy. Officials in my Department are examining the Deputy's request and will contact the Deputy as soon as possible regarding this matter.

Pharmacy Regulations.

Joe Carey

Ceist:

206 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Health and Children the measures the Health Service Executive has in place to allow pharmacists sell generic medicines instead of branded drugs; if she will list in tabular form the cost to the State of the top ten pharmacy dispensed drugs including, if applicable, their equivalent cost if supplied in generic form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13230/08]

Generic drugs are widely available in the Irish market, particularly in the hospital sector. Use of a proprietary drug or generic equivalent is a matter for the prescriber, in consultation with the patient. My Department supports the increased use of generics where appropriate and achievable in the Irish drugs market. A new agreement with the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association was negotiated by a HSE-led team, including representatives from my Department, in 2006. One of the objectives of the agreement is to enhance the ability of patients to have a greater say in the prescribing process with a view to choosing, in consultation with the prescriber, the medicine that best meets their needs and delivers best value for money. The agreement provides for significant reductions in the price of patent-expired proprietary medicines. These reductions (20% in March 2007 and a further 15% in January 2009) will, on full implementation, largely remove the current premium paid for these products over many branded and non-branded generic equivalents. Based on expert advice from the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics, received prior to the negotiation of the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association agreement, it was concluded that a system of compulsory generic substitution in the pharmacy, as used in some other jurisdictions, would have significantly less benefit in the Irish community schemes than in other countries but could, given the relative size of the Irish market, have an adverse effect on continuity and security of supply for Irish patients.

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services is a matter for the Health Service Executive under the 2004 Health Act. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the Deputy's request for a list detailing the cost to the State of the top ten pharmacy drugs dispensed including, if applicable, their equivalent cost if supplied in generic form. 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.

Joe Carey

Ceist:

207 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Health and Children the basis the Health Service Executive uses in determining base price when negotiating with the pharmaceutical industry; the way that base price compares to that negotiated in other European countries; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13231/08]

A new agreement with the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association, representing research-based pharmaceutical manufacturers, was negotiated by a HSE-led team, including representatives from my Department, in 2006. A separate agreement was concluded with the Association of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers of Ireland, representing the generic manufacturers, in October 2006. Both agreements include provisions relating to the pricing and supply of drugs and medicines under the GMS and community drugs schemes. As the HSE has operational responsibility for these agreements, under the provisions of the Health Act 2004, it is the appropriate body to provide the specific information sought by the Deputy. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Medical Aids and Appliances.

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

208 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if the expert group to examine the provision of high frequency chest compression vests for persons with cystic fibrosis reported, as promised, by the end of February 2007; the recommendations made and the decision that has been made on the provision of such vests for suitable patients; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13234/08]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services is a matter for the Health Service Executive 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 issues raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matters investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Child Abuse.

Alan Shatter

Ceist:

209 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will investigate the reason the Health Service Executive has not furnished to this Deputy the information sought in Questions Nos. 101, 102, 105 and 106 of 31 January 2008 concerning children at risk as promised by her on that date; if the HSE is required to furnish to her on a monthly basis the information sought in these questions pursuant to the National Service Plan; and if in the absence of such information she is able to monitor the quality and efficiency of child care services and ensure that children at risk are provided with the protection to which they are entitled. [13236/08]

I have been in touch with the Health Service Executive. I have asked it to expedite the provision of the information requested by the Deputy. As regards the provision of monthly information, the Deputy will be aware that under section 31 of the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive must prepare and submit to the Minister its National Service Plan (NSP) including amongst other things, an indication of the type and volume of health and personal services to be provided by the Executive for the resources provided in its Vote. The NSP is focused on providing quantifiable data on planned service outputs for the inputs/resources being used. The NSP is monitored through a series of Performance Monitoring Reports submitted to the Department by the HSE. The quarterly performance monitoring reports detail progress on all actions/deliverables that are included in the NSP. The 2008 HSE National Service Plan includes performance indicators, which will be reported to the Department quarterly, for each HSE region on the number of notifications of child abuse or neglect; the number of assessments conducted following notifications; the number of children on waiting lists for assessments following notification of child abuse or neglect; and the average time spent on a waiting list for assessment following notification of child abuse or neglect. Reporting against the above measures will be based upon the phased implementation of a standardised business process through the child care information system project. In addition to the formal written reporting methodology outlined above, high level quarterly service plan meetings are also held between Department and HSE management teams to discuss progress on the implementation of the NSP and to raise and resolve significant issues. Furthermore, there is ongoing contact and dialogue between the relevant areas in the Department and the directorates in the HSE.

Hospital Accommodation.

Joanna Tuffy

Ceist:

210 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of respite beds that are closed and are planned to be closed around the country; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13237/08]

Additional funding of approximately €212 million has been provided to enhance community-based services for older people over the last three years. These measures were designed to improve the existing services the Government had already put in place and to widen the range of services available to older people. In this context, over €16 million has been made available since 2006 specifically for new Day and Respite Care services. The recent Budget will allow 1,245 additional clients nationally to avail of new Respite places in 2008 and brings the total projected Day Care provision by the Health Service Executive to approximately 21,300 places by the end of this year. Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services, including Respite and Day Care, was assigned to the HSE under the Health Act 2004. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular 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.

Departmental Expenditure.

Joanna Tuffy

Ceist:

211 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount spent by the Health Service Executive in the past three years on computer upgrades, computer programmes and the upgrading of the HSE website; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13238/08]

The capital amounts invested on Information Systems and Related Services by the HSE in the years in question were as follows: 2005 — €49,028,000; 2006 — €22,284,000; 2007 (Provisional outturn figure) — €22,661,000. The 2007 figure includes €245,835 spent on upgrading of the HSE website. A further amount of €89,500 approximately will be spent this year with the new website expected to go live in the 2nd Quarter of 2008.

Tobacco-Related Diseases.

Brian O'Shea

Ceist:

212 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will run a publicity campaign pointing out the dangers to children’s health in cars where smoking is taking place; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13242/08]

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.

Question No. 213 answered with Question No. 178.

Health Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

214 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if and when suitable residential accommodation will be found through the Health Service Executive or private nursing homes in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare who suffers severely from Alzheimer’s and whose family have made valiant efforts to cater for their needs but who now need that assistance of specialist care; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13281/08]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services was assigned to the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular case 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.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

215 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a medical card will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13282/08]

People and their dependants who would otherwise experience undue hardship in meeting the cost of General Practitioner (GP) services qualify for a medical card, which entitles them to a range of health services free of charge. In 2005, the GP visit card was introduced as a graduated benefit so that people on moderate and lower incomes, particularly parents of young children, who did not qualify for a medical card, would not be deterred on cost grounds from visiting their GP. The assessment of eligibility for medical cards and GP visit cards is statutorily a matter for the Health Service Executive and, with the exception of persons aged 70 and over, who have an automatic statutory entitlement to a medical card, is determined following an examination of the means of the applicant and his/her dependants (income and relevant outgoings). The GP visit card assessment threshold is 50% higher than the medical card threshold. As the Health Service Executive has the operational and funding responsibility for these benefits, it is the appropriate body to consider the particular case raised by the Deputy. My Department has therefore requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to address this matter and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Hospital Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

216 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she or her Department have received correspondence from various persons regarding the continuation of cancer services at Sligo General Hospital; her short, medium and long term plans in this regard for Sligo General Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13283/08]

Correspondence has been received in my Department in relation to cancer services at Sligo General Hospital. The Health Service Executive has designated University College Hospital Galway and Limerick Regional Hospital as the two cancer centres in the Managed Cancer Control Network for the HSE Western Region, which includes Sligo. The designation of cancer centres aims to ensure that patients receive the highest quality care while at the same time allowing local access to services, where appropriate. If diagnosis and treatment planning is directed and managed by multidisciplinary teams based at the cancer centres, then much of the treatment (other than surgery) can be delivered in local hospitals, such as Sligo General Hospital. In this context, chemotherapy and support services will continue to be delivered locally. Cancer day care units, including at Sligo General Hospital, will continue to have an important role in delivering services to patients as close to home as possible. The decisions of the HSE in relation to four managed cancer control networks and eight cancer centres will be implemented on a managed and phased basis. Professor Tom Keane, Director of the HSE's National Cancer Control Programme, is currently engaging in detailed planning to facilitate the orderly phased transfer of services between locations.

General Medical Services Scheme.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

217 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if medication required by a person (details supplied) in County Offaly will be provided under the GMS in respect of their son who previously lived in County Kildare where their medication was provided under the GMS; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13284/08]

The assessment of eligibility to medical cards and GP visit cards is statutorily a matter for the Health Service Executive and, with the exception of persons aged 70 and over who have an automatic entitlement to a medical card, is determined following an examination of the means of the applicant and his/her dependants. Under Section 45 of the Health Act 1970, medical cards are provided for persons who, in the opinion of the HSE, are unable without undue hardship to arrange GP medical and surgical services for themselves and their dependants. Section 58 of the Health Act 1970, as amended, provided for GP visit cards for adult persons with limited eligibility for whom, in the opinion of the HSE, and notwithstanding that they do not qualify for a medical card, it would be unduly burdensome to arrange GP medical and surgical services for themselves and their dependants. Where a person is assessed by the Health Service Executive as qualifying for a medical card, he/she is categorised as having full eligibility for health services. This eligibility status is applicable in respect of services in all HSE regions and administrative arrangements are in place to enable a person, for example, to access general practitioner or pharmacy services as necessary in any part of the country. The HSE has informed me that it has detailed operational guidelines in place for the assessment and review of people's entitlement to a medical card or GP visit card. The purpose of these guidelines is to ensure that every person entitled to a medical card or GP visit card is given the opportunity to avail of their entitlement and that there is a consistency of approach to means-testing nationally. As the Health Service Executive has the operational and funding responsibility for the General Medical Services Scheme, it is the appropriate body to consider the particular case raised by the Deputy. My Department has therefore requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to address this matter and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Health Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

218 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if full after school and some weekend respite will be offered to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare in respect of their son, in view of the fact that extended service is available subject to the availability of funding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13285/08]

As part of the Multi-Annual Investment Programme 2006-2009 under the Disability Strategy, the Government provided the Health Service Executive with an additional €75 million in both 2006 and 2007. This funding included moneys to provide new and enhanced services for people with disabilities, to implement Part 2 of the Disability Act 2005, which came into effect on 1 June 2007 for the under fives and also for the continuation of the implementation of the transfer of persons with intellectual disability from psychiatric hospitals and other inappropriate placements. The Government is also honouring its promise in relation to the Multi-Annual Investment Programme for people with disabilities, with a further €50 million investment which was announced in the 2008 Budget. The Deputy's specific 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.

Nursing Home Accommodation.

John O'Mahony

Ceist:

219 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Health and Children the plans for a nursing home in Ballinrobe, County Mayo; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13388/08]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services was assigned to the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular 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.

Proposed Legislation.

David Stanton

Ceist:

220 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children when she expects to be in a position to finalise and publish legislation to introduce the new nursing home support scheme bill, A Fair Deal; when she hopes that this new scheme will come into operation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13390/08]

The Bill providing for the Fair Deal scheme is being finalised by the Office of the Attorney General at present. My colleague, the Minister for Health and Children, intends to publish the Bill as soon as possible following finalisation by the Attorney General and Government approval, and to bring the legislation through the Houses of the Oireachtas thereafter. The scheme will be made available to the public as soon as all the necessary legal and administrative arrangements are in place.

Question No. 221 answered with Question No. 177.

Waste Management.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

222 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Transport if his Department has a strategy to reduce the level of printed correspondence, communications, reports and other documents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12796/08]

My Department has a general policy to use modern technology and maximise electronic communications for efficient and effective service. E-mail and electronic storage of documents are used extensively. Staff have been reminded of the importance of minimising paper waste and paper is recycled as far as possible. The central aim of the Department's ICT Strategy is to facilitate the delivery of services and the formulation of policy in the most efficient and effective way possible. A significant element of this is to provide stakeholders with an option to communicate electronically with the Department. The website is regularly updated with policy and service developments. A significant volume of my Department's public consultation is now carried out through this medium. Staff use an intranet system to share information internally. It communicates departmental policies, procedures, announcements, reminders and Departmental developments internally, reducing the volume of printed materials. The Irish Coast Guard uses an extranet to communicate with its 55 volunteer units, comprising some 1,000 volunteers around the coast. An Irish Coast Guard e-newsletter is issued to staff and volunteers. Facilities whereby customers may conduct public services on-line have a critical role in reducing the volume of paper documents and promoting eGovernment initiatives. Motor Tax On-line, the eGovernment service that allows citizens to apply for and renew their motor tax on-line, is administered by my Department. This service is particularly relevant in the context of reducing the level of printed correspondence, facilitating over 4 million motor tax renewals since its inception in 2004. It has saved an equivalent number of paper-based transactions.

The highly successful on-line motor tax facility will be shortly complemented by another eGovernment on-line initiative. This new facility will allow approved motor dealers to notify my Department of changes in ownership of vehicles purchased and sold by them. At present, there are some 600,000 paper-based notifications of changes of vehicle ownership relating to purchases or sales by motor traders processed annually by staff in my Department. The project to deliver this new on-line initiative is already at an advanced stage and the system is scheduled to go live in May 2008. Like the Motor Tax On-line initiative, this facility will also reduce the volume of paper-based applications. As part of Budget 2008, every Department was required to conduct an efficiency review of its operations to reduce current expenditure and to maximise administrative savings. As part of this review, my Department has given an undertaking to consolidate the use of electronic equipment such as printers, scanners, fax and photocopying machines. The purpose of this consolidation is not only to reduce the servicing and running costs of this equipment, but also to use modern technology to reduce and minimise printing where possible. The bulk of my Department's internal communication, including reports, documents etc., is already conducted electronically. However, my Department is currently seeking to further enhance and embed this process by increasing the use of document scanning where this is useful and by the development of a print management strategy to reduce printing costs.

Driving Tests.

Simon Coveney

Ceist:

223 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Transport the way he proposes to ensure that a functioning system of driving instruction will be in place after the deadline in nine months time, in view of the fact that discussions between the Road Safety Authority and driving instructors are ongoing and there is no certainty regarding the rules that driving instructors will have to adhere to after that time. [12808/08]

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) has given me comprehensive proposals for the registration and regulation of driving instructors, with the target date of 1 January 2009. These are under consideration, with a view to making the necessary Regulations. In the meantime, the RSA has arrangements in hand to permit existing driving instructors to demonstrate that they already meet the qualification requirements for registration as approved driving instructors.

Marine Accidents.

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

224 Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Transport if his attention has been drawn to reports that the Nautilus UK trade union has called for rapid agreement between the UK and Ireland on the provision of an emergency towing vessel for the Irish Sea following on an incident in which a freight ro-ro (details supplied) grounded on the foreshore at Blackpool; the progress made towards reaching such agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12814/08]

I am aware of the above reports. The question of ensuring adequate emergency towing vessel capacity is being actively considered at present in my Department.

Rail Network.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

225 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Transport if he will support a project (details supplied). [12819/08]

The provision of fencing on railway lines is a day-to-day operational matter for Iarnród Éireann and not one in which I have any role.

Irish Coast Guard.

Joe McHugh

Ceist:

226 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Transport when work will begin on the repair and refurbishment of the coast guard cottages; if he will ensure work is expedited on the grounds of health and safety; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12852/08]

The houses in question are located adjacent to the Marine Rescue Sub-Centre at Malin Head and two of them are currently used as offices and a staff rest room. A review of locations for a west coast Marine Rescue Sub-Centre is currently under way and the possibilities have narrowed to a choice between a site in the Limerick/Shannon area or Malin or Valentia. Following a decision on this issue, the question of works required at Malin Head will be addressed.

Traffic Management.

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

227 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport if there is a provision in traffic legislation for the prosecution of traffic signal violations on the basis of camera evidence; if not, the reason for same; if he will address this legislative loophole; the traffic violations that can and can not be prosecuted on the basis of camera evidence; his views on the installation of cameras at traffic junctions to deter traffic violations at these critical locations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12891/08]

The breach of traffic signal regulations is an offence under section 35 of the Road Traffic Act 1994. Section 35 offences are included in the list of offences set out in section 21 of the Road Traffic Act 2002 where evidence produced by equipment, including a camera, can be used in the prosecution of an offence. The prosecution of road traffic offences and the form of evidence that may be presented in any instance are matters for the Garda Síochána.

Light Rail Project.

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

228 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Transport the status of plans for the development of a Luas line along the Broadstone track to Liffey Junction; the expected time line for the operational use of the line; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12902/08]

My Department engaged independent consultants Booz, Allen and Hamilton to review the proposal from Iarnród Éireann that the Broadstone alignment be used for suburban rail services.

Having considered this report and submissions from the other bodies involved, I have now mandated the RPA to proceed with planning the delivery of a Luas line from St. Stephen's Green to Liffey Junction and using the old Broadstone Railway alignment.

Aviation Safety Regulations.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Ceist:

229 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for Transport if he will review safety measures and flight paths over residential areas at private airfields, including Weston Airport, Lucan, County Dublin, where a near-miss took place in 2006, in view of the dangers posed by an accident at such airfields as illustrated by the recent incident at Farnborough, Kent, in the UK; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12916/08]

The Irish Aviation Authority has statutory responsibility for safety regulation of the Irish aviation industry under the Irish Aviation Authority Act, 1993 and for the provision of air navigation services in Irish airspace. The Authority exercises its safety regulation functions in accordance with international standards set at both European level by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) and globally by the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO). My Department has no function in this regard.

Light Rail Project.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

230 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Transport if the Luas extension from Connolly Station to the Docklands will not incorporate a stop at the Docklands Train Station, which is a terminus for suburban rail services from Dublin 15 and the proposed Dunboyne spur; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12925/08]

The Luas extension to the Point Depot, currently under construction, will include a stop at Spencer Dock. This is situated approximately 350 metres from Iarnród Éireann's existing station at Docklands. The Luas stop is located to allow for integration with both Iarnród Éireann suburban services using the Docklands station and with the new interconnector station to be constructed in the area under Transport 21.

Marine Safety.

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

231 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport if he has received and reviewed a copy of the recent publication of an investigation report by the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch into the parting of a mooring line on board the Dublin Viking alongside berth 52 in Dublin Port on 7 August 2007 which resulted in one tragic fatality; if he willenhance the monitoring and invigilation of vessels docked in Irish ports in the context of the publication of this report; his views on whether action will be taken in relation to liability for the death of the person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13110/08]

I have received a copy of this report. The ship involved in this incident was the "M/V Dublin Viking" which is registered in the United Kingdom. Therefore, in accordance with international maritime law the United Kingdom as the flag state was the lead investigating state and Ireland through the Marine Casualty Investigation Board, MCIB, was a substantially interested state. The purpose of accident investigations carried out by bodies such as MAIB and MCIB is to learn lessons with a view to avoiding similar accidents in the future. It is not their purpose to apportion blame or liability. However, I do understand that the Health and Safety Authority did carry out an investigation into this incident in accordance with the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005.

I am very concerned about the safety on board ships in Irish ports and Surveyors from my Department carry out over 400 inspections on foreign flagged ships in Irish ports each year under the auspices of the Paris MoU. These inspections cover the safety, security and pollution prevention of the ship as well as living and working conditions. These port state control inspections cover mooring arrangements amongst other matters.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

232 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Transport if an estimate has been made of the volume of carbon produced by commuter trains and inter-city trains which run on diesel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13114/08]

Iarnród Eireann has been asked to compile and forward the information sought directly to the Deputy.

Energy Efficiency.

Simon Coveney

Ceist:

233 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Transport the progress his Department has made in achieving this 33% target of energy efficiency in the public sector; if energy use in buildings under the responsibility of his Department is being monitored; if so, the person by whom it is monitored; the recent trends; if buildings under the responsibility of his Department are being retrofitted to improve energy efficiency; if there are capital budgets for energy efficiency measures in his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13131/08]

As previously advised to the House, the buildings used to accommodate the staff of my Department are included in a scheme of ongoing monitoring and evaluation of their level of energy usage. The objective of this exercise, operated under the aegis of the Office of Public Works (OPW), is to achieve significant reductions in energy usage.

As a result of pilot studies recently undertaken by the OPW in selected public buildings, it is considered that individual behavioural change has the most significant role to play in achieving reductions in energy consumption. Accordingly, current efforts are being directed in this area rather than the retrofitting of older buildings which would probably involve considerable expenditure with comparatively fewer benefits.

The main energy consumption initiative being pursued by my Department this year is participation in the OPW-sponsored Staff Awareness Energy Campaign. This new campaign revolves around a series of staff workshops giving practical energy-saving ideas. The appointment of energy officers for each participant building is another important element of this initiative.

I am confident that these steps will soon deliver a downward trend in energy consumption by my Department. I believe that a decisive start has been made in achieving the 33% target set out in the Programme for Government agreed last year.

Public Transport.

Simon Coveney

Ceist:

234 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Transport his views on the promise in the Programme for Government which promised to introduce a minimum requirement for the use of bio-fuels in State-owned and public transport vehicles and that Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann will move their existing fleet to a 5% bio-diesel blend and will achieve a 30% bio-diesel blend in their new buses; the progress he has made in achieving this target; the additional funds he has given to public transport operators to achieve this target; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13134/08]

I have instructed CIÉ to operate their entire existing fleet on a 5% biodiesel blend in as short a time-frame as is possible and to plan for a 30% blend in new buses. It is the responsibility of CIÉ now to establish a plan to meet this requirement. CIÉ will be receiving State support totalling €309 Million in 2008 and it is not envisaged that additional funding will be available.

Airport Development Projects.

Deirdre Clune

Ceist:

235 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Transport if he is in receipt of a report from a person (details supplied) regarding payment for recent development works at Cork Airport; when he will be in a position to publish this report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13138/08]

In view of the divergent positions of the Cork Airport Authority (CAA) and Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) concerning the financial consideration to be paid by the CAA in respect of the transfer of assets to the CAA on separation, I asked Mr. Peter Cassells to facilitate a constructive dialogue with the CAA and DAA Boards in order to establish if there was basis for a speedy resolution of the disagreement.

In his report published on my Department's website (www. Transport .ie), Mr. Cassells points out that while significant progress was made, regrettably despite their best efforts the parties were unable for a number of reasons to reach final agreement. However Mr Cassells sets out a number of conclusions on the issues raised by the parties as a possible way forward for separation.

Mr Cassells recommendations provide an opportunity for a final decision to be made on the financial consideration to be paid by the CAA in respect of the transfer of net assets of €220m on separation. I believe they represent a sensible solution, which I have urged both parties to accept as soon as possible. If Mr Cassells' sound proposals are adopted, there is an opportunity for Cork Airport to move ahead and achieve autonomy. I have asked Mr. Cassells to assist the two boards as regards bringing this issue now to a speedy, mutually acceptable conclusion.

Public Transport.

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

236 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Transport the contact he has had with the Department of Finance in relation to the cancelling of the fuel excise duty rebate for those in public transport services; the replacement mechanism options he favours; when he expects to see a replacement mechanism put in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13160/08]

The EU Energy Tax Directive incorporated special derogations which allowed specific excise duty reliefs to be applied in a number of Member States below the EU minimum duty rate. In the case of public transport services under my responsibility, these derogations included reduced rates to apply to fuel used for scheduled bus services. Scheduled bus services comprise bus passenger services provided by Bus Átha Cliath, Bus Eireann, private operators in accordance with bus route licences under the 1932 Road Transport Act and holders of Authorisations pursuant to European Council Regulation 684/92 as amended.

While these derogations expired on 31 December 2006, Ireland, along with other Member States, sought retention of its derogations beyond that date. However the European Commission, which is the deciding authority, has refused all such requests. At the Commission's behest, the statutory basis for the removal of these excise duty reliefs is set out in the 2008 Finance Act. My colleague, the Tánaiste and Minister for Finance, has indicated that the Finance Act provides for removal of these excise duty reliefs with effect from 1 November 2008. In the interim, the reduced rates applicable to fuel used for scheduled bus services will be maintained.

My Department, in conjunction with the Department of Finance and other Departments is, in line with a Government Decision of July last, exploring if alternative support mechanisms, are possible, subject to compatibility with EU State Aid and other legal requirements.

Officials in my Department have been in contact with the Department of Finance in this regard and are taking legal advice in the matter, particularly as regards the appropriateness of alternative forms of relief. In this regard, the recently adopted EU law on public service obligations, which comes into effect in December 2009, is also relevant. My Department has also met the Coach Tourism and Transport Council, as well as CIE, on this matter.

Statutory Instruments.

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

237 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Transport if his attention has been drawn to the identity of each statutory instrument, falling within his Department’s remit, which has statutory effect under the European Communities Act 1972 or other legislation specifically relating to same; if he will provide a list of such statutory instruments having statutory effect; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13176/08]

The information requested by the Deputy is not readily available and would involve an inordinate amount of time and resources to compile. Information on Statutory Instruments is contained in the Irish Statute Book website of the Office of the Attorney General.

Disabled Drivers.

John O'Mahony

Ceist:

238 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Transport when all disabled parking bays in County Mayo and nationwide will be painted blue as directed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13389/08]

The provision of disabled parking bays in County Mayo and nationwide is a matter for the road authority in each area. No direction has issued that requires such parking bays to be painted blue.

Human Rights Issues.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

239 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the representations that have been made over the past month to the Chinese Government in relation to ongoing repression in Tibet; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12779/08]

Michael D. Higgins

Ceist:

248 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on the present deeply worrying crisis in Tibet; the Government’s position on the matter; the action and assistance Ireland proposes to provide in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12922/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 239 and 248 together.

I am deeply concerned by the situation in Tibet, and deplore the loss of life there and in other regions of China. I continue to keep colleagues in Government fully informed on developments in Tibet and EU discussions of the situation there.

On my instructions, senior officials of my Department have since 17 March been in regular contact with the Chinese Embassy in Dublin to seek information about developments in Tibet and to convey my deep concern at the situation there. In my statement of 31 March I called for maximum restraint on all sides and for the release of imprisoned peaceful protesters. I also strongly urged the Chinese authorities to allow free access by the media and independent observers, to ensure that the facts of what has occurred could be established.

The EU Presidency, on behalf of the Member States, also made clear its concerns in a statement on 17 March. Contacts with the Chinese authorities on this issue have continued in Brussels and Beijing.

I met with representatives of the Tibet Support Group-Ireland on 1 April and discussed with them their concerns regarding the current situation, and how these might be addressed. The Group expressed their appreciation of the position the Government is taking on Tibet.

It remains my view that the only way to ensure a peaceful and sustainable solution to the situation in Tibet is through substantial and accelerated dialogue between the Chinese Government and representatives of the Dalai Lama. This should seek to ensure the preservation of the unique Tibetan culture and identity, as well as addressing Chinese concerns regarding their territorial integrity. I would note, in this regard, Chinese assurances that any subject can be addressed if independence is not an issue, and the Dalai Lama's public commitment to non-violence and his repeated assurance that he seeks autonomy for Tibet within China, not independence. This emphasis on dialogue was also clear at the substantial discussion of the situation in Tibet during the recent informal meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Brdo, Slovenia, on 29 March.

Finally, I would note that our concerns regarding human rights in China are raised on a regular basis in bilateral contacts with the Government of China. In these discussions, we continue to raise our concerns about the practice of religion, freedom of expression and the preservation of cultural identity in Tibet.

Waste Management.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

240 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if his Department has a strategy to reduce the level of printed correspondence, communications, reports and other documents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12791/08]

The Department's filing system is a paper-based one.

However, within this context, the use of electronic media is encouraged, as much as possible, where it is appropriate and secure to do so.

The Department's own Intranet and internal email is used for the circulation of material and internal communication. There were limited print-runs of the Department's 2006 Annual Report (20 copies) and its 2005-7 Strategy Statement (200 copies), but these, together with all such public documents, were placed on the Department's Website for public access. Irish Aid publishes all of it publications on-line and encourages members of the public to access publications in this way.

Photocopiers and printers are provided which facilitate double-sided copying and printing and staff are encouraged to use these, where possible.

All payments from the Department's financial systems are made electronically; this includes the provision of ePayslips to all office-based staff.

Where paper is generated, staff are encouraged and facilitated to shred and re-cycle and recyclable paper and stationery are used wherever suitable; this currently amounts to over 55% of expenditure on such products.

Human Rights Issues.

Joe Costello

Ceist:

241 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the position the Irish Government took on the draft Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights ahead of the sixth session of the Open Ended Working Group of the UN Human Rights Council beginning on 31 March 2008 in Geneva; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12825/08]

Joe Costello

Ceist:

242 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the contacts that took place with other Government Departments to agree the Government’s position on the draft Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights ahead of the sixth session of the Open Ended Working Group of the UN Human Rights Council beginning on 31 March 2008 in Geneva; the nature and content of those contacts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12827/08]

Joe Costello

Ceist:

243 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will give a comprehensive report on Ireland’s role in the negotiations on the draft Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to date, including the sessions of the Open Ended Working Group of the Human Rights Council; the nature and content of the contributions to be made by the Irish negotiating team at the sixth session from 31 March to 4 April 2008 of the Working Group and leading up to it; the position adopted by the Irish negotiating team to any and all alternate drafts presented to the working group; the reasons for the adoption of those positions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12828/08]

Joe Costello

Ceist:

244 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the position to be adopted by the Irish negotiating team at the sixth session from 31 March to 4 April 2008 of the Open Ended Working Group of the UN Human Rights Council on the two options contained in the chairperson’s draft text of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights, one proposing a comprehensive Optional Protocol and one proposing an a la carte optional protocol which states parties could determine in respect of which of the covenant’s rights the way they will consider complaints; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12829/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 241 to 244, inclusive, together.

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) was ratified by Ireland on 8 December 1989. An Optional Protocol to this International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (OP-ICESCR), which has been in discussion since 1990, would set up a mechanism that would make it possible for individuals or groups of individuals to submit a complaint to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in regard to violations of their economic, social and cultural rights by a State Party to that Protocol. It would not create any new substantive rights.

Discussions on the Optional Protocol to the ICESCR have been taking place in a Working Group which held its first session in 2004. In June 2006, the UN Human Rights Council mandated the Working Group to start negotiating the text of an Optional Protocol, and requested the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group to prepare a first draft to serve as the basis for negotiations.

Discussions in the Working Group proceeded faster than expected, due in no small part to the work of the dynamic Chair of the process, Ms Catarina de Albuquerque of Portugal. As the Deputy will be aware, the last session of the Working Group took place in Geneva last week, 31 March — 4 April 2008. On Friday last the Chair noted that there was no objection to the transmission of the latest text to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva for its consideration and that, as a result, the Working Group had completed its mandate. While the Chairperson-Rapporteur made very significant efforts to address the differing views of delegations, varying degrees of concern remained on the part of a certain number of delegations.

I welcome the progress which has been made in the Working Group. I would like to reiterate Ireland's commitment to the process and to the goal of building the broadest possible support for this new instrument. Officials of this Department were actively engaged with the Working Group, in consultation with other relevant Government Departments, and, though not a member at present, we will continue to follow developments in the Human Rights Council. The NGO community has been following developments and I can assure the Deputy that their observations will be taken fully into account in our ongoing consideration of the draft Optional Protocol.

Policy issues emerging from the deliberations of the Working Group will need to be considered by my Department and other relevant Departments, which will examine carefully, in advance of consideration of the text by the Human Rights Council in June, the extent to which the latest text addresses our concerns.

Diplomatic Relations.

Joe McHugh

Ceist:

245 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if there are plans to recognise South Ossetia in view of recognition being afforded to Kosovo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12849/08]

At the General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) on 18 February, EU Foreign Ministers underlined that Kosovo represented a unique case because of the legacy of the conflict of the 1990s and the fact that it has been under international administration since 1999 as provided for in UN Security Council Resolution 1244. The clear reality is that Serbia effectively lost Kosovo through its own actions in the 1990s. The legacy of the killings of thousands of civilians in Kosovo and the ethnic cleansing of over a million made the restoration of Serbian dominion in Kosovo unthinkable.

The situation in South Ossetia is unrelated to that of Kosovo. The dispute in the Georgian territory of South Ossetia, where separatists sought to break away from Georgia in 1991-92, has been the subject of a long-running conflict resolution process under the auspices of the Organisation of Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). The EU supports this process, both as an observer and through funding a number of Confidence Building Measures in the region. Since Georgia regained its independence in 1991, all members of the international community, including Ireland, have recognised its territorial integrity and sovereignty within its international borders.

Foreign Elections.

Charlie O'Connor

Ceist:

246 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he has had a report on the elections in Zimbabwe; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12878/08]

The presidential and parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe on 29 March passed off in a peaceful and orderly fashion. Despite serious concerns about the context in which the election was held, and despite the fact that neither the EU nor any of its Member States were invited to observe the election, the people of Zimbabwe showed great courage and determination in casting their votes on polling day.

Parliamentary results announced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission show that President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party has lost control of the House of Assembly for the first time since taking power after independence in 1980. The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) won 99 seats, while Mugabe's ZANU-PF won 97 seats and a breakaway MDC faction won 10. One independent candidate won a seat.

No official announcements have been made on the outcome of the presidential election. Some unofficial reports indicate that Mr. Tsvangirai polled more strongly than Mr. Mugabe, taking approximately 50% of the vote. If no candidate takes more than 50% of the vote, the constitution indicates that the two leading candidates will compete in a run-off election within three weeks.

I remain extremely concerned at the delays by the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission in issuing the results of the presidential election. This delay can only give rise to serious apprehension and fuel suspicions that the democratic will of the Zimbabwean people may not be respected. I fully support the call made by the EU Presidency on 4 April for the results of the Presidential election to be issued without further delay.

If a second round of the Presidential election is required, Ireland and the EU will be anxious to see every effort made to improve electoral conditions so as to ensure a fully free, fair and transparent vote. Reports of raids on opposition offices on 3 April and arrests of international media covering the election give cause for concern and indicate the level of improvement required on the ground in Zimbabwe.

The Irish Ambassador to Zimbabwe travelled to Harare for the election period and our Embassy in Pretoria continues to monitor the situation closely. Policy change is urgently needed in Zimbabwe and Ireland stands ready to support that change process, if and when it begins.

Overseas Development Aid.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

247 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if, in view of his Department’s refusal to publish Irish Aid audits in relation to eight countries due to the fact that disclosure of this information could be detrimental to Ireland’s international relations with partner governments and international organisations, Irish Exchequer funding is being, or has been, during his tenure, directed towards non-governmental organisation groups based inside Cuba or elsewhere which are dedicated to promoting democracy, free trade unions or civil society in Cuba; if so, the names of the recipient groups; the location of their registered offices; the amount each received and when; if receipts were issued for the money; the specific aims of the projects funded; the reported outcome of same; if his attention has been drawn to plans to fund such groups in the future either at national or European level; if the release of information related to the funding of such projects would be detrimental to Ireland’s international relations with partner governments and international organisations; and if so, if he is likely to tell this Deputy about it. [12912/08]

The reports to which the Deputy refers relate to internal audit work by the Evaluation and Audit Unit of Irish Aid. Internal audit is a key element of the governance arrangements for the Aid Programme. The practice with internal audits is that the Unit operates in a confidential manner in order to help ensure that its ability to operate effectively is not inhibited in any way. This approach, which involves using internal audits as a management tool, assists and facilitates Irish Aid in strengthening internal control and oversight systems in partner organisations, which, in turn, contributes to the governance and overall effectiveness of the Aid Programme.

The work of the Evaluation and Audit Unit is overseen by the Department's independent Audit Committee. The Audit Committee also meets regularly with the Secretary General and, annually, with the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Irish Aid remains fully committed to transparency and, in this regard, publishes many key reports. These include: the Annual Report of the Audit Committee (the 2006 report is available at www.dfa.ie ), Value for Money Reviews, major programme evaluations and other policy documents.

The Aid Programme focuses on poverty alleviation among the poorest people of the world, including through the provision of funding to non-governmental organisations for sustainable development programmes and projects. Finally, in response to the Deputy's specific question on Cuba, Irish Aid has channelled funding to Cuba in the past through UNICEF and Trócaire but has currently no requests before it for funding.

Question No. 248 answered with Question No. 239.

Energy Efficiency.

Simon Coveney

Ceist:

249 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the progress his Department has made in achieving this 33% target of energy efficiency in the public sector; if energy use in buildings under the responsibility of his Department is being monitored; if so, the person by whom it is monitored; the recent trends; if buildings under the responsibility of his Department are being retrofitted to improve energy efficiency; if there are capital budgets for energy efficiency measures in his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13126/08]

The Department promotes energy saving on an ongoing basis. It is participating in the recently launched "Optimising Power @ Work", the Staff Energy Awareness Campaign, which is being led by the Office of Public Works. This initiative, aims to achieve a minimum of 15% reduction in total annual carbon dioxide emissions, through an intensive effort to raise staff energy awareness, promote efficiency in respect of all energy consuming processes and achieve best practices in energy efficiency throughout the Department's buildings.

The Department is planning to participate in the Government Supplies Agency tender for a new electricity contract for 2008/2010 which will include requests for the supply of a significant proportion of green electricity to properties occupied by the Department.

In addition, the Department already uses a number of energy-saving devices, such as energy efficient lights, "powersave" function on electrical office equipment and photocopiers with duplex (double-sided copying) facilities. At present energy audits are being undertaken by the Office of Public Works to monitor current energy use and identify key factors that influence energy levels in buildings occupied by my Department. The results of these audits will be studied and used as a baseline against which future energy use will be measured and monitored.

Statutory Instruments.

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

250 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the identity of each statutory instrument, falling within his Department’s remit, which has statutory effect under the European Communities Act 1972 or other legislation specifically relating to same; if he will provide a list of such statutory instruments having statutory effect; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13171/08]

Statutory Instruments relevant to my Department in respect of the European Communities Act 1972 (as amended), or under legislation specifically relating to same, are generally in the context of providing for institutional changes in the operational framework of the European Union or the accession of new member States to the European Union.

The following is a list of Statutory Instruments falling within the remit of this Department made under the European Communities Act 1972 (as amended) or under legislation specifically relating to same.

2007

European Communities (Amendment) Act 2006 (Commencement) Order 2007 (SI 38/2007)

European Communities (Amendment) Act 2006 (Commencement) Regulations 2007 (SI 39/2007)

2003

European Communities (Amendment) Act, 2002 (Commencement) Order 2003 (SI 30/2003)

2002

European Communities and Swiss Confederation Act 2001 (Commencement) Order 2002 (SI 195/2002)

1999

European Communities (Amendment) Act 1998 (Commencement) Order 1999 (SI 166/1999)

European Communities (Amendment) Act 1998 (Commencement) Regulations 1999 (SI 167/1999)

1994

European Communities (Amendment) Act 1993 (Section 6(1)) Order 1994 (91/1994)

European Communities (Amendment) Act 1993 (Section 2) (Commencement) Order 1994 (SI 122/1994)

European Communities (Amendment) Act 1994 (Commencement) Order 1994 (SI 455/1994)

1993

European Communities (Amendment) Act 1992 (Commencement) Order, 1993 (SI 304/1993)

European Communities (Amendment) Act 1993 (Section 3) (Commencement) Order, 1993, (SI 415/1993)

1987

European Communities (Amendment) Act 1986 (Commencement) Order, 1987 (SI 170/1987)

1985

European Communities (Amendment) Act 1985 (Commencement) Order, 1985 (SI 34/1985)

European Communities (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1985 (Commencement) Order, 1985

1980

European Communities (Amendment) Act 1979 (Commencement) Order 1980, (SI 392/1980)

Diplomatic Representation.

Arthur Morgan

Ceist:

251 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the amount of discretionary funds allocated to each of the four Irish Consulates in the United States of America, as well as the Irish Embassy in Washington, and on what were these funds expended in sums above 50,000 US Dollars in each case; the persons who were recipients in each case of funding over 50,000 US Dollars; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13229/08]

The financial resources allocated to Irish Missions abroad, including the Embassy of Ireland in Washington and the Consulates in the United States of America are allocated in line with normal budgetary arrangements and do not involve significant discretionary funding.

Decisions on Emigrant Support funding, including for Irish Immigration Centres, are taken by the Minister on the basis of careful consideration of applications from the relevant groups. I set out below for the information of the Deputy the breakdown, in Euro, of funding to Irish Emigrant Groups in the USA in 2007.

USA

Aisling Irish Centre, New York

90,498

Coalition of Irish Immigration Centres

74,571

Commodore Barry Club, Philadelphia

18,242

Emerald Isle Immigration Centre, New York

141,026

Irish American Heritage Centre, Chicago

353,593

Irish American Society of Nassau, Suffolk & Queens

62,893

Irish Apostolate, Washington

15,083

Irish Connect Initiative — San Francisco

751

Irish Immigrant Support, Chicago

74,571

Irish Immigration and Pastoral Centre, San Francisco

92,760

Irish Immigration Center, Boston

141,026

Irish Immigration Pastoral Centre, Philadelphia

93,891

Irish Immigration Support Group, Seattle

1,885

Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform (ILIR)

71,120

Irish Outreach — San Diego

16,968

Irish Pastoral Center, Boston

123,680

New York Irish Centre

92,760

Project Irish Outreach New York

80,452

US-Ireland Forum, New York

25,066

1,570,837

Cross-Border Initiatives.

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

252 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if there are grants available for a club (details supplied) in County Wexford to assist with the running of the club, particularly in relation to cross-Border co-operation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13248/08]

The Department of Foreign Affairs has a limited amount of funding at its disposal through the Department's Reconciliation Fund, which is primarily targeted at voluntary organisations involved in community reconciliation work. The purpose of the Fund is to assist organisations involved in reconciliation work and to encourage and facilitate better relations within and between the two traditions in the North, between North and South, and between Ireland and Britain.

Decisions on funding from the Reconciliation Fund are a matter for the Minister on foot of the recommendations of an interdepartmental Advisory Committee comprised of officials from a number of Government Departments. If the organisation in question considers that its project meets the objectives of the Fund, it may submit an application which will be considered in accordance with these arrangements. Guidelines and an application form for the Reconciliation Fund can be found on the Department's Website.

Work Permits.

Dan Neville

Ceist:

253 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will process an application for a green card for a person (details supplied) in County Limerick as soon as possible. [12772/08]

The Employment Permits Section of my Department informs me that they have contacted the applicant in relation to her application and it is likely that a Work Permit will be issued in the near future.

Job Creation.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

254 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will provide a breakdown by county of jobs created by companies with the support of the IDA for each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12775/08]

In the five-year period 2003 to 2007 a total of 53,976 new jobs were created in IDA supported companies. The following tabular statement shows the annual breakdown of that figure on a county basis.

The level of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Ireland relative to the size of the economy is one of the highest in the world. Today, in Ireland, there are over 1,000 IDA supported companies employing in excess of 136,000 people. This figure represents 42% of industrial and financial employment in the economy. The average salary from IDA supported investments in 2007 was almost €44,000 or 19% above the average industrial wage of €36,800, reflecting the higher quality and related higher skills of the new positions to be created by these investments. IDA supported companies paid an estimated €3bn in Corporate Tax in 2007. They also accounted for approximately 85% of manufacturing companies' exports and spent €15.87bn in the economy comprised of €6.73bn on Payroll, €5.71bn on services and €3.43bn on materials from Irish sources.

Ireland competes at the highest level globally to win foreign direct investments and IDA Ireland focuses, with considerable success, on seeking inward investment from top-tier corporations and companies within a number of high potential business sectors including Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology, Medical Technology, Financial Services, International Services, Digital Media and Information Communications Technologies (ICT).

I am satisfied that the policies being pursued by Government, together with the activities of IDA Ireland will continue to enable us to maintain the enviable position which we hold in terms of attracting foreign direct investment.

Table showing the number of new jobs created in IDA supported companies in each of the years 2003 to 2007.

County

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

Carlow

8

19

44

20

5

Cavan

12

31

0

2

59

Clare

15

49

129

6

22

Cork

1,234

1,354

1,265

2,057

1,522

Donegal

141

136

252

106

176

Dublin

3,522

5,471

5,828

5,969

4,298

Galway

804

721

1,342

404

383

Kerry

84

99

104

73

120

Kildare

553

554

709

495

68

Kilkenny

2

66

95

15

93

Laois

2

18

12

18

9

Leitrim

575

159

11

9

13

Limerick

131

475

374

789

264

Longford

141

99

213

180

19

Louth

39

101

150

289

190

Mayo

109

145

88

37

114

Meath

44

49

158

43

136

Monaghan

10

0

4

30

20

Offaly

19

71

56

81

47

Roscommon

35

45

31

10

17

Sligo

103

213

109

193

36

Tipp North

46

52

38

5

9

Tipp South

155

129

56

233

604

Waterford

554

248

351

702

370

Westmeath

130

151

332

169

363

Wexford

134

333

71

98

67

Wicklow

815

226

334

140

192

Total

9,417

11,014

12,156

12,173

9,216

Waste Management.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

255 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his Department has a strategy to reduce the level of printed correspondence, communications, reports and other documents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12788/08]

The Department's policy is to reduce the level of printed correspondence, communications, reports and other documents issued by the Department and to make such documentation available in electronic format for the convenience of the Department's stakeholders and staff while at the same time having a reduced level of printed material available for customers of the Department who are not electronically connected.

The Department's website has, on average, approximately 30,000 external hits per week, thereby greatly reducing requests for printed material. All reports, press releases, the majority of forms, information leaflets and other documents are made available on the website, further reducing the need for printed material. The website is currently being reviewed to further improve the Department's on-line capabilities.

The Department has fully embraced the potential of e-Government and strives continually to improve and increase its on-line services. Some examples of on line services provided by the Department and its Offices are:

The introduction of on-line facilities for Redundancy Payments;

The use of an Electronic Fund Transfer Payments System for the Department's regular suppliers;

An on-line facility for filing annual returns and carrying out searches is available from the Companies Registration Office;

On-line facilities are available for certain tasks in the Patents Office;

On-line completion of Freedom of Information requests is available for interested parties.

Departmental Properties.

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

256 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the status of an Enterprise Ireland site (details supplied) in Dublin 9; his plans for future use of the site; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12898/08]

The Glasnevin site is owned by Enterprise Ireland (EI) and has been occupied by three Agencies — EI, NSAI (including the NML) and SEI.

NSAI have recently relocated to alternative premises in Santry (with the exception of the NML laboratory) and EI will be relocating to new offices later in the year. Thereafter the disposal of the site will be a matter for EI, in close consultation with the relevant Government Departments.

Job Creation.

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

257 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of multinational companies that have located here since January 2008; the names of these companies; the number of jobs these companies have created; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12899/08]

Since the beginning of 2008 there have been five announcements relating to new multinational, greenfield start-ups with a potential to create 595 new jobs with IDA support. The names of these companies, together with the location and estimated job numbers, are set out in the following tabular statement. It is important to point out that there is always a timelag, often stretching over some years, between the announcement of jobs and their creation. That time is required for such activities as locating and acquiring a suitable site for the company's operations, constructing a facility and installing machinery and recruiting and training staff.

Table setting out the number of new multinational, greenfield start-ups with IDA support announced since beginning of 2008.

Month of Announcement

Company Name

Location

Potential Jobs

February 2008

Zimmer

Shannon

250

February 2008

Channel Advisor

Limerick

15

February 2008

Unum

Carlow

200

March 2008

EyeWonder

Dublin

30

April 2008

Lancasater Labs

Waterford

100

Pension Provisions.

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

258 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps he will take in view of the fact that the construction workers pension scheme is compulsory to bring all registered employers in the construction industry into the scheme; his views on whether the monitoring of the scheme has broken down in view of the figures of unregistered employers operating in the construction industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12998/08]

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

259 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his attention has been drawn to the fact that The Construction Industry Pension Assurance and Sick Pay Registered Employment Agreement requires employers in the construction sector to become and remain a party to a contributory pension scheme approved by the Revenue Commissioners; his views on the discrepancy between the number of people registered with the Revenue Commissioners and those registered with the Construction Workers Pension Scheme; if this is the case, his further views on whether a discrepancy exists between the cost to employers who are compliant with the scheme, as against the cost to those who are not; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13000/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 258 and 259 together.

The Construction Industry (Pension Assurance and Sick Pay) Registered Employment Agreement (REA) requires employers in the construction sector to become and remain a party to a contributory pension scheme approved by the Revenue Commissioners and sets out the conditions upon which pension and mortality payments are payable and the associated minimum amounts and benefits. The REA does not specify any particular pension scheme to apply but rather sets out the general criteria within which any such scheme should operate. The number of employers in the construction sector registered with the Revenue Commissioners is a matter for the Revenue Commissioners.

The Construction Workers Pension Scheme (generally referred to as CWPS) has been established on foot of the Registered Employment Agreement. While it is not a legal requirement for employers and employees in the construction industry to pay into this particular scheme, it is, as already mentioned, a legal requirement that employers provide for pension, mortality and sick benefits for those workers to whom the REA applies. The conditions upon which such pension, mortality and sick pay benefits are payable and the amounts thereof must not be less favourable than those which are set out in the REA.

The CWPS is an independently run occupational scheme. Accordingly, my Department does not have the registration details requested by the Deputy. Neither does my Department have details of the numbers of people registered with the Revenue Commissioners.

I have had no indication that monitoring of the scheme has broken down. As I understand it, enforcement of the provisions of a Registered Employment Agreement may be effected by direct complaint to the Labour Court. A trade union may complain to the Labour Court that a particular employer is not complying with a Registered Employment Agreement. If, after investigating a complaint, the Court is satisfied that an employer is in breach of a Registered Employment Agreement the Court may by order direct compliance with the agreement. Failure to comply with such an order is an offence punishable by a fine. These safeguards are in place to ensure the satisfactory operation of the pension schemes and to ensure that non-compliant employers are discovered and do not benefit in any way from their avoidance of their obligations.

I understand that the Construction Industry Monitoring Agency (CIMA) which was established by the Construction Industry Federation and ICTU monitors compliance with the REA with a view to ensuring that employers register their employees in the Scheme and pay the weekly contributions on the employees' behalf. CIMA engages trade union monitors to follow up on cases of non-compliance and to bring proceedings where required.

As a further element of enforcement, The Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2007 provides for the sharing of relevant employment data between the Offices of the Revenue Commissioners, The Minister for Social and Family Affairs and the Minister for Enterprise, Trade & Employment. This legislation enables NERA's inspection services to join with inspectors from the Department and the Revenue Commissioners to form Joint Investigation Units and exchange information. This will facilitate further additional inspection and enforcement activity in regard to compliance with the REA, as necessary.

I understand that under the Pensions Act 1990, the Pensions Board has power to investigate the state and conduct of Irish Pension schemes so as to ensure that all involved comply with their obligations. This provides an additional layer of enforcement and protection. The Deputy might be aware of a recent case where the Pensions Board took a company in the construction sector to Court to require it to pay arrears of pension contributions to a scheme and succeeded in securing a judgement in the High Court directing the company to pay up €186,000 in arrears of contributions to CWPS.

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

260 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of employers currently registered with the construction workers pension scheme, formerly know as the construction federation operatives scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13001/08]

The Construction Workers Pension Scheme (CWPS) is an independently-run occupational scheme. Accordingly my Department does not have the registration details requested by the Deputy. These details are available from the CWPS, which can be contacted at Canal House, Canal Road, Dublin 6.

Energy Efficiency.

Simon Coveney

Ceist:

261 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the progress his Department has made in achieving this 33% target of energy efficiency in the public sector; if energy use in buildings under the responsibility of his Department is being monitored; if so, the person by whom it is monitored; the recent trends; if buildings under the responsibility of his Department are being retrofitted to improve energy efficiency; if there are capital budgets for energy efficiency measures in his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13123/08]

I agree with the proposal in the Programme for Government that the Government will require the public sector to lead the way on energy efficiency with a mandatory programme of efficiency measures, including the sole use of energy efficient lighting and heating in offices schools and hospitals and other public buildings, to produce 33% energy savings by 2020. I look forward to my Department, its Offices and the State Agencies that come under the aegis of the Department being able to make their contributions to achieving that target in any mandatory programme devised for the public sector by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and the Office of Public Works, all of whom will have the main responsibility for implementing the proposal in the Programme for Government.

Statutory Instruments.

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

262 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his attention has been drawn to the identity of each statutory instrument, falling within his Department’s remit, which has statutory effect under the European Communities Act 1972 or other legislation specifically relating to same; if he will provide a list of such statutory instruments having statutory effect; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13168/08]

Officials in my Department are currently compiling the information sought by the Deputy. However, due to the large amount of work involved it will not be possible to supply the material within the timescale requested. A full response will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Work Permits.

Ulick Burke

Ceist:

263 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will issue guidelines in relation to foreign immigrants who come here with a valid work permit issued to their employer but for whatever reasons cease employment with this employer; and their status in relation to obtaining a work permit in order to obtain further employment here. [13209/08]

The Employment Permits Section of my Department informs me that when a non-EEA National is granted a work permit in this State, they are normally expected to stay with their initial employer for a period of 12 months, apart from exceptional circumstances. In the case of redundancy or an infringement of Employment Rights, the Employment Permits Section would consider applications on a case by case basis.

All of the above information is listed on the Department's websitewww.entemp.ie under the “Employment Permits” Section.

Skill Shortages.

John O'Mahony

Ceist:

264 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the supports and services available to employers and employees who are seeking to upgrade their qualifications and skills with regard to the upskilling of the Irish workforce; when these supports and services were launched; the success of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13385/08]

My Department works with other Governments Departments, State agencies and other interests to ensure that the development of training policy takes account of the requirements of employers and workers and to ensure that training programmes respond to and cater for those requirements. This year my Department will invest €77 million in the training of those in employment. This figure does not include significant public support for apprenticeships.

Key agencies in delivering supports and services to employers and employees to assist them in upskilling are FÁS and Skillnets. Through the One Step Up Programme FÁS has supported training interventions targeted at people in employment. The budget in 2005 for this programme was €8 million and this has increased over the last three years to €43 million in 2008. The programme aims to encourage employees to increase their competency levels and promote an ethos of lifelong learning in the workplace. It also aims to enable employees to cope with ongoing change in work practices. Since its launch in September 2005 the programme has had a significant impact and is expected to provide training to approximately 31,000 people in the course of this year alone.

In addition, the Workplace Basic Education Fund was initiated by the Government in 2005. It is operated by FÁS. This fund targets workers with lower skills levels and particularly those with difficulties with literacy and numeracy issues. This year the fund will have an allocation of €3.11 million and is expected to support training for about 2,000 workers.

In addition, Skillnets supports networks of enterprises to engage in training under the Networks Training Programme. These are led and managed by representatives of participating enterprises and have created and delivered training programmes for a range of industry and service sectors. This programme was piloted in 1999 and following its success it was decided in 2005 to place it on a more permanent basis.

Skillnets has to date supported over 10,000 Irish enterprises, involved in over 150 networks, in improving the range, scope and quality of training available. More than 50,000 workers have benefited. This year my Department, through the National Training Fund will invest in excess of €26 million in the programme. This will allow training to be provided to approximately 48,000 people.

Enterprise Ireland also provides support to employers wishing to improve their own skills and competencies or those of their workers. They achieve this by creating capability in companies in three ways:

World class group management development programmes

Connecting client company executives with world class expertise in the form of mentors and international advisors

Direct investment in management development and training as part of a client company development plan

Enterprise Ireland evaluates their programmes on a yearly basis in accordance with their clients needs. This year they expect to support approximately 525 people on their training/education programmes at a total public cost of €6.7 million.

To oversee the effective co-ordination and management of the various training programmes, my Department convenes an Upskilling Co-ordination Group. This brings together representatives of FÁS, Skillnets, Enterprise Ireland and the County Enterprise Boards with the purpose of ensuring that the impact realised from the State's increased investments in this area is maximized.

In addition I am aware that the Department of Education and Science also supports employees upskilling requirements through the Back to Education Initiative (BTEI). BTEI students can also avail themselves of childcare and educational guidance services of Vocational Education Committees. The BTEI was first introduced in 2002. Reports from the VECs testify to its success.

Job Losses.

John O'Mahony

Ceist:

265 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the countries to which Irish jobs have been relocated in the past three years; if the underlying causes have been identified; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13386/08]

There are many factors that influence a firm's decision to relocate. Firms adjust their plant location and utilisation strategies to address matters such as accessing new markets, moving production nearer to customers, meeting firm or market specific customer relationship issues, accessing technology or other competitive considerations. The result is flows of investment and employment across borders. Ireland successfully manages this process, while winning many prestigious and value added investment, and enterprise policies have enabled the economy to replace lost jobs with others of equal or higher value.

It is not possible to audit the extent to which job losses in the economy arise due to firms relocating abroad. Information received by the enterprise development agencies from client companies which have closed plants or downsized their workforces suggests that job losses have been attributable to a range of factors including loss of contracts or a drop in demand for products, restructuring and rationalisation within companies and relocation of operations abroad. The last mentioned of these factors, according to the feedback from these companies, has been a relatively minor factor.

What establishes the competitive credentials of the economy is our ability to replace quality jobs with others that are of the same or higher skill level. There is also no doubt that labour markets are changing at an increasingly fast pace due mainly to the impacts of globalisation, immigration and demographic factors. We are responding with new policies and new opportunities for our labour force. Labour market programmes play an important role by providing the skills needed for unemployed persons to get back to work while at the same time providing the skilled labour needed by employers to improve their productivity.

The relocation of businesses within particular types of industry is a reality of modern global manufacturing for a highly developed economy such as Ireland. There are benefits and costs resulting from globalisation. The clearest demonstration of the benefits to Ireland from globalisation is illustrated by inward Foreign Direct Investment. It should be noted that in addition to attracting foreign direct investment, IDA Ireland also places significant focus on embedding existing multinational enterprises in Ireland, by encouraging such enterprises to increase the scale of Irish subsidiaries, and to also expand the range of activities undertaken in Irish subsidiaries to include less mobile types of operations (e.g. R&D activities, Supply Chain Management etc. According to the IDA, 34% of foreign investments in 2007 were expansions to existing facilities. This process of embedding subsidiaries of multinational enterprises makes relocation less likely. I am satisfied that we are taking the measures needed to meet the challenges of global competition.

Olympic Games.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

266 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the way the Government will be represented at the Olympic Games in Beijing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12780/08]

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

267 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he will attend the Olympic Games in Beijing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12781/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 266 and 267 together.

The Government has been invited by the Olympic Council of Ireland to be represented at the Beijing Olympic Games. At this stage no decision has been taken as to who will represent the Government at the games.

Waste Management.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

268 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if his Department has a strategy to reduce the level of printed correspondence, communications, reports and other documents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12783/08]

It has always been a key objective of my Department to maximise the use of its website in the delivery of services to its customers. The development and updating of the website is kept under review in the context of delivery of commitments in my Department's Customer Charter and IT Strategy.

Where possible documents, reports, press releases etc are made available on the website and customers are directed to it in response to requests for information as an alternative to issuing it in hard copy. In this regard applications for grants under my Department's Sports Capital and Access programmes can be downloaded and applicants are encouraged to furnish their applications online. In addition staff in my Department are encouraged to make use of electronic communications and to use electronic versions of documents as far as possible.

Furthermore, the National Archives, which is also part of my Department, has recently launched the first phase of the digitization of the 1911 Census of Ireland whereby people of Ireland and of the Irish Diaspora are now able to search for their ancestors by name. Access to the census records with an index to every name service is free online. This initiative will help to reduce the level of printed correspondence and communications generated by the National Archives.

Arts Funding.

Mary Upton

Ceist:

269 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his views on establishing a book fair here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12861/08]

As Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism my policy on the arts is to promote and strengthen the arts in all its forms, increase access to and participation in the arts, and make the arts an integral and valued part of our national life. I believe that the strength and health of a society does not rely solely on what it can achieve or produce economically. It is equally, if not more so, dependent on what it can produce culturally, artistically and intellectually.

In this context I welcomed the establishment of a book fair in Dublin recently and I was pleased to provide foundation funding towards the event.

Sports Funding.

Michael Creed

Ceist:

270 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he will confirm receipt of an application for funding from a sporting organisation (details supplied); when the funds available for this purpose will be distributed by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13105/08]

Under the Sports Capital Programme, which is administered by my Department, funding is allocated to sporting and community organisations at local, regional and national level throughout the country. The 2008 programme was advertised on 13th and 14th of January and the deadline for receipt of applications was 29th February for paper-based applications and 7th March for online applications.

All applications received before the deadline, including the one in question, will be evaluated against the programme's assessment criteria, which are outlined in the guidelines, terms and conditions of the programme. I intend to announce the grant allocations for the programme as soon as possible after the assessment process has been completed.

Energy Efficiency.

Simon Coveney

Ceist:

271 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the progress his Department has made in achieving this 33% target of energy efficiency in the public sector; if energy use in buildings under the responsibility of his Department is being monitored; if so, the person by whom it is monitored; the recent trends; if buildings under the responsibility of his Department are being retrofitted to improve energy efficiency; if there are capital budgets for energy efficiency measures in his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13118/08]

I am fully supportive of the commitment in the Programme for Government for the Public Sector to lead the way on energy efficiency. I understand my colleague the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources will respond in relation to the policy in general.

In so far as my Department is concerned it currently occupies four buildings, two of which are located in Dublin at Kildare Street and South Frederick Street where my Department is not the main tenant in either building. This limits the action that can be taken directly by my Department to make these buildings more energy efficient. The energy bills are based on an agreed fixed proportion of the overall bills for the buildings.

The National Archives which are part of my Department are located at Bishop Street. The fourth building is at Fossa in County Kerry, which accommodates an advance party of staff in the context of decentralisation of my Department to Killarney.

My Department has taken a range of measures to improve energy efficiency. During 2007, an Energy Efficiency Committee was established in my Department in the context of the Partnership process to examine energy usage and raise awareness among staff of the need for energy efficiency. In conjunction with the Government's Power of One campaign, the committee organised a number of presentations for staff to outline tips on energy saving actions, both at work and in the home.

An Efficiency Suggestions Scheme competition was also held, which invited staff members to make suggestions on making the Department more energy efficient. I was delighted to personally present the prizes for the best suggestions to staff in July last year. All suggestions submitted have been published and provided to staff in my Department.

These initiatives resulted in notices being placed at electrical equipment and light switches to remind staff to switch off lights and equipment to save energy. Staff are requested to switch off information technology and any electrical office equipment when not in use and particularly at the end of the working day. Furthermore, all personal computer monitor screens purchased by my Department in 2007 are flat-screen technology, which are far more energy efficient than the old Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) monitors used.

Where my Department is the only tenant, in the building in Fossa, it has recently signed up to the Government electricity contract on a Green supply, which comes from renewable energy sources. It has also reduced the exterior lighting of the building to ensure that as soon as the building and car park has been vacated of staff, all the exterior lighting can be switched off, with just a single light over the front door remaining on all night for security purposes. Previously the full exterior lights had remained on throughout the night. The energy used in this building is monitored by an officer located locally in the Human Resources Unit. However, as the Green supply has just recently commenced, it is too early to establish any trends in the levels of electricity used.

The National Archives has consistently adopted a proactive approach to energy efficiency. Various energy saving measures are in place including the heating operating only when the building is occupied. A system is in place for office lighting to be extinguished at close of business each working day, motion sensor lighting is in place in all emergency staircases and in certain storage areas and there are plans to extend motion sensor lighting to all storage areas. In addition, the National Archives has just signed up to the OPW Energy Conservation Initiative, managed by Vector Workplace and Facilities Management, with the objective of reducing CO2 emissions by 15% in the Bishop Street premises.

My Department does not have a separate capital budget dedicated to energy efficiency projects.

In the context of the implementation of decentralisation, construction is currently underway on a new headquarters in Killarney, which will be a "green" building, which will provide a pleasant working environment and yet be economical to run. The design of the building, which has been carefully conceived in line with an exacting brief provided by the Office of Public Works, makes use of many environmentally friendly and energy saving features in line with best practice, nationally and internationally. This building is being funded by the Office of Public Works.

My Department's new IT Strategy for 2008-2010, which is currently in preparation, will address all possible means of maximising IT facilities and communications in terms of energy efficiency and making my Department more environmentally friendly.

National Library.

Mary Upton

Ceist:

272 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he has received a report from the National Library of Ireland reviewing the implications of the extension of the legal deposit provision; if he will publish this report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13149/08]

I understand that the implications associated with the extension of legal deposit provisions to the National Library, as set out in the National Cultural Institutions Act, 1997, are, at present, under active consideration by that Body. I look forward to receiving a report, from the Board of the National Library of Ireland, in regard to this matter in due course.

Statutory Instruments.

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

273 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if his attention has been drawn to the identity of each statutory instrument, falling within his Department’s remit, which has statutory effect under the European Communities Act 1972 or other legislation specifically relating to same; if he will provide a list of such statutory instruments having statutory effect; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13163/08]

The Irish Statute Book database comprises a Statutory Instruments Directory for the period 1922 to June 2005.

In so far as it has been possible to compile material in the timeframe available the table lists the Statutory Instruments made by my Department from 2005 to date.

Statutory Instrument Number

Statutory Instrument Title

S.I. No. 218 of 2005

National Cultural Institutions Act, 1997 (Commencement) Order 2005

S.I. No. 219 of 2005

Bord Leabharlann Náisiúnta Na hÉireann (Establishment Day) Order 2005

S.I. No. 220 of 2005

Bord Árd-Mhúsaem na hÉireann (Establishment Day) Order 2005

S.I. No. 226 of 2005

National Cultural Institutions Act, 1997 (Amendment of first schedule) Order 2005

S.I. No. 561 of 2005

Artificial Insemination of Greyhounds Regulations, 2005

S.I. No. 824 of 2005

Intoxicating Liquor Act, 2003 (Section 21) Regulations 2005

S.I. No. 826 of 2005

Thoroughbred Foal Levy Regulations, 2005

S.I. No. 481 of 2006

Horse Racing On-Course Betting Office (Amendment) Regulations, 2006

S.I. No. 650 of 2006

Thoroughbred Foal Levy Regulations, 2006

S.I. No. 669 of 2006

National Cultural Institutions Act 1997 (Delegation of Functions) Order 2006

S.I. No. 688 of 2006

National Sports Campus Development Authority Act, 2006 (Establishment Day) Order, 2006

S.I. No. 301 of 2007

Greyhound Industry (Control Committee and Control Appeal Committee) Regulations, 2007

S.I. No 302 of 2007

Greyhound Industry (Racing) Regulations, 2007

S.I. No. 853 of 2007

Thoroughbred Foal Levy Regulations, 2007

S.I. No. 867 of 2007

Greyhound Race Track (Totalisator) (Operating) Amendment Regulations, 2007

S.I. No. 868 of 2007

Greyhound Race Track (Totalisator) (Win Jackpot)) Amendment Regulations, 2007

Social Welfare Benefits.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

274 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the status, activity and output of the working group established under Sustaining Progress to monitor the impact of changes to the rent supplement scheme in 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12804/08]

A working group was set up under Sustaining Progress Agreement to facilitate engagement with the Social Partners in relation to certain changes made to conditions for Rent Supplement announced as part of the Government's Spending Estimates for 2004.

The group included officials from my Department, the Department of the Taoiseach, the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government, representatives of the Community and Voluntary Pillar and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. The group was chaired by an official from the Department of Taoiseach.

The terms of reference of the group were—

To monitor the impact of the Rent Supplement measures announced in November 2003, with a view to identifying instances where the implementation of the measures may be causing hardship and the factors that may be leading to that outcome.

To propose and consider possible solutions to any difficulties associated with the implementation of the measures.

To produce a short report by mid-year outlining the findings and recommendations of the Working Group, for consideration by the Minister for Social and Family Affairs.

The group met on four occasions from April 2004 to June 2004 and a report was produced for consideration to the Minister for Social and Family Affairs. The group concluded that the new measures which were introduced in 2004 were not having any significant, adverse impacts having regard to the design of the measures, including the operation of the appropriate levels of discretion by the Community Welfare Officers. A number of recommendations were also agreed by the group and submitted to the Minister. The agreed recommendations were—

1. There should be an integrated housing policy which caters for the housing needs of people who currently rely on rent supplement on a long-term basis.

2. Short-term income support is best met by a welfare-based approach while long-term housing needs are best met by an accommodation based approach.

3. The new measures should continue to be monitored and evaluated. Issues which arise could be addressed through the Housing Forum as provided for in Sustaining Progress.

4. There should be closer co-operation and liaison between Local Authorities and Health Boards so as to achieve the best outcome for meeting people's accommodation needs.

5. There should be a standard approach by Local Authorities regarding the assessment of Housing Needs and common criteria for referral of cases by Health Boards to Local Authorities.

6. Consideration should be given to developing improved information and other customer services for rent supplement claimants.

7. Arrangements should be put in place to systematically record data which would help inform policy in this area, particularly in respect of applications for rent supplement which are refused and appealed as well as those which are approved.

8. The Group particularly welcomes the announcement of July 2004 of the new initiative to meet the long-term housing needs of rent supplement recipients. These new measures will refocus the rent supplement scheme on meeting short-term income needs while the local authorities will assume responsibility for long-term housing needs. The new initiative and supporting institutional arrangements provide the appropriate framework within which to implement the recommendations set out in this report.

Many of the recommendations agreed by the group have been addressed by the introduction of the Rental Accommodation Scheme which was introduced by the Government in July 2004. This gives local authorities specific responsibility for meeting the longer-term housing needs of people receiving rent supplement for 18 months or more, on a phased implementation basis. Housing authorities can meet the housing needs of these individuals through a range of approaches including the traditional range of social housing options, the voluntary housing sector and, in particular, a public/private partnership type rental accommodation scheme.

Latest figures from the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government indicate that to February 2008, local authorities have transferred some 6,172 rent supplement recipient cases to RAS units, 2,926 in the voluntary and co-operative housing sector and 3,246 in private rental accommodation. Local authorities have also transferred a further 5,808 recipients to other social housing options. The objective under RAS is that local authorities will have completed the transfer of rent supplement recipients with long-term housing needs to their care by the end of 2009.

When the new rental assistance arrangements have been fully implemented it is expected that in excess of 30,000 individuals will have transferred from the rent supplement scheme to the local authorities under the rental accommodation scheme or other social housing schemes. This will enable the rent supplement scheme to revert to its original objective, namely that of a short term income support scheme.

The programme for Government also includes commitments to reduce long-term reliance on rent supplement. This will be done mainly by keeping the standard means test for rent supplement under review to provide enhanced financial incentives for people taking up employment or other professional options and by providing long-term housing solutions under the rental accommodation scheme and otherwise.

The rent supplement means test has seen significant improvements in the meantime, with most recent improvements effective from June 2007. Where a person has additional income in excess of the standard weekly rate of supplementary welfare allowance, the first €75 of such additional income together with 25% of any additional income above €75 is disregarded for means assessment purposes. This ensures that those who participate in employment of up to 30 hours per week or in training schemes are better off as a result of taking up such an opportunity.

In addition, rent supplement may continue to be paid to a person who engages in full time employment (over 30 hours per week), subject to their satisfying the improved means testing arrangements, as outlined above, and where they have been accepted as having a long term housing need under the rental accommodation scheme.

I intend to keep the rent supplement scheme under review and my Department will be working closely with the Department of the Environment Heritage and Local Government in ensuring that RAS meets its objective of catering for those on long term rent supplementation while enabling rent supplement to return to its original role of a short-term income support.

Decentralisation Programme.

Rory O'Hanlon

Ceist:

275 Deputy Rory O’Hanlon asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the position regarding decentralisation to Carrickmacross, County Monaghan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13222/08]

Under the current programme of decentralisation, 85 posts in the Department are to be relocated to Carrickmacross.

According to figures received from the Central Application Facility (CAF), through which all applications for decentralisation locations must be submitted, 64 applicants applied for Carrickmacross before the priority application date of 7 September 2004. Since this date, there have been 27 new applications.

The Office of Public Works is charged with securing accommodation in Carrickmacross for this Department and have advised that they are in discussions with Monaghan County Council regarding a proposed site for the Department's decentralised office.

Waste Management.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

276 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if his Department has a strategy to reduce the level of printed correspondence, communications, reports and other documents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12794/08]

The Document, Record and Information Management (DRIM) programme is a key part of my Department's Modernisation Action Plan.

The Department's aim is have all documents, records and information easily accessible, usable and managed in a manner that satisfies all stakeholders. The intention is to eliminate paper, in so far as is possible, from both the claim and administrative processes and to capture, store, retrieve and process all files, records, etc. in electronic form and thus to transform radically the way the business of the Department is carried out.

The DRIM programme when implemented will result in significant benefits including a reduction in the level of printed correspondence, communications, reports and other documents.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

277 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when maternity benefit will be granted to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare who applied for same 10 weeks ago; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12863/08]

To qualify for Maternity Benefit, a woman must satisfy one of the following PRSI contribution conditions.

She must have at least 39 PRSI contributions in the twelve month period before the first day of her maternity leave or at least 39 paid PRSI contributions since first starting work and at least 39 contributions paid or credited in the relevant tax year or the year following the relevant tax year or at least 26 paid PRSI contributions in the relevant tax year and at least 26 paid PRSI contributions in the tax year before the relevant tax year. Only PRSI contributions paid at classes A,E and H are relevant.

The person concerned applied for Maternity Benefit on the 29th January 2008. As she only commenced employment in Ireland in summer 2007, she does not have sufficient PRSI contributions paid to date to qualify her for Maternity Benefit. However, her employment record from the UK may also be used to help her to qualify. A request for her UK social insurance record was issued on the 1st February 2008, details of which have not yet been received.

When the required information is received, a decision will be made and the person concerned will be notified immediately.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

278 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the target time level for processing disability allowance applications; and the average of how often that target was met by staff within that section in each of the past six months. [12895/08]

Michael Ring

Ceist:

279 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of applications for disability allowance lodged with his Department and awaiting a decision at the present time; the average processing time for disability allowance applications; his plans to reduce the average processing time for such applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12896/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 278 and 279 together.

The Department is committed to providing a quality service to all its customers. This includes ensuring that applications are processed and that decisions on entitlement are made as quickly as possible.

Disability allowance is a weekly allowance paid to people with a specified disability who are aged over 16 and under 66. The disability must be expected to last for at least one year and the allowance is subject to both medical assessment and a means test.

The time taken to process a disability allowance claim includes three important elements; the time taken to carry out a medical examination of the claimant, where this is required, investigation of the claimant's means by a Social Welfare Inspector which can necessitate a visit to the claimant's home and the claim decision process. Once entitlement is decided the claim is put into payment and any arrears issue shortly afterwards.

The performance standard for disability allowance is 70% of claims to be decided in 9 weeks. This standard was set on the basis of 12,000 applications per annum.

There has been a continuous upward trend in recent years in applications for Disability Allowance. The Department received 17,581 new applications in 2006 and 19,989 in 2007. To date in 2008, some 4,440 applications have been received.

Performance over the past six months is as follows:

Month

Number awarded

Average weeks to award

% awarded within 9 weeks

%

March 2008

1,094

13.97

34

February 2008

1,396

16.75

17

January 2008

1,160

17.89

9

December 2007

684

15.17

21

November 2007

1,255

16.31

21

October 2007

1,274

16.99

16

The number of cases awaiting finalisation at present is 4,700 (at 2nd April). In some 3,300 of these cases, information is awaited to enable the claim to be further processed.

The Department's management services unit monitors available resources against workload on an ongoing basis with a view to ensuring optimum processing times for claims.Measures introduced by the Department to address the efficiency of claim processing include the following:

The review of existing processes and procedures on an ongoing basis with the explicit objective of reducing delays in claim processing;

Review of ongoing staffing requirements in light of the increased volumes of claims;

The judicious application of overtime working;

These measures will, over time, lead to more efficient processing and reduce the number of claims on hand. The position is being closely monitored and kept under review by the Department.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

280 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reason it will take his Department 240 days from the date of receipt of an application from a person (details supplied) in County Mayo for disability allowance for the applicant to be called for a medical assessment. [12897/08]

Disability allowance is a weekly Allowance paid to people with a specified disability who are aged over 16 and under 66. The disability must be expected to last for at least one year and the allowance is subject to both medical assessment and a means test.

The time taken to process a disability allowance claim includes three important elements; the time taken to carry out a medical examination of the claimant, where this is required, investigation of the claimant's means by a Social Welfare Inspector which can necessitate a visit to the claimant's home and the claim decision process. Once entitlement is decided the claim is put into payment and any arrears issue shortly afterwards.

The person concerned is currently in receipt of jobseekers allowance. He made an application for disability allowance on 12th September, 2007. The application was referred to a Social Welfare Inspector to determine the means position. The person concerned was also referred to medical review and assessment section in November 2007 for medical assessment. The application was reviewed initially by a Medical Assessor who determined that the applicant should be assessed in person.

Medical review and assessment section currently operate 54 medical assessment centres throughout the country. The frequency of usage of each centre depends on various factors such as the number of cases on hand, the number of cases requiring urgent attention and the availability to the centre, of nurse-attendants and of medical assessors. However, in view of the fact, that he would be seen at an earlier date in Ballina, he has been offered and accepted the option of an assessment in Ballina.

As a general rule, priority status is afforded to those claimants who are not already in receipt of a payment from the Department. In the case of rural locations that are scheduled for assessment less frequently than larger urban areas, every effort is made to ensure that claimants who are not in receipt of a payment from the Department or who are appealing decisions, are scheduled for the nearest urban area.

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

281 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs his views on increasing the age limit for a qualified child to 23, across various social welfare schemes, in respect of students in full-time education in view of the number of students doing transition year in second level schools and the older age generally at which students are commencing and finishing third level education. [12950/08]

Social welfare customers in receipt of a long term payment or in receipt of a short term payment for more than six months can claim an IQC for each child who is over 18 years and up to age 22 and attending a full-time day course of education at an institute of education. If a child reaches age 22 during an academic year while attending a full-time day course of education, the IQC continues in payment up to the end of that academic year provided the child continues to receive full-time education.

I am satisfied that this provision assists social welfare recipients in supporting a qualified child up to and including primary degree level in most cases. Any improvement could only be considered in a budgetary context and in light of competing priorities. I have no immediate plans to change current arrangements but I will keep the matter under review.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

282 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the criteria persons (details supplied) in County Kildare must meet to qualify under income guidelines to obtain a rent subsidy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12987/08]

The Health Service Executive has advised that it had terminated payment of a rent supplement in this case from March 2008. The Executive has advised that it will review the claimant's entitlement and advise the person concerned of its decision in due course.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

283 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reason persons (details supplied) in County Kildare have not received payments from his Department or the community welfare officer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12988/08]

The Health Service Executive has advised that it awaiting the receipt of outstanding documentation from the persons concerned and will not be in a position to make a decision on entitlement until all documentation requested has been received.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

284 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when one parent family allowance will be awarded to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12993/08]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an appeal from the person concerned was received on 2nd April 2008 and is being referred to an Appeals Officer for consideration.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office is an office of my Department that is independently responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Olwyn Enright

Ceist:

285 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if it is possible to examine the habitual residence condition and returning Irish emigrants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13093/08]

Irish nationals returning to live here on a permanent basis should experience no difficulty in demonstrating that they satisfy the requirements of the Habitual Residence Condition. My Department has been unable to trace any claims where this has not been the case, and has already offered to review any such claims that may be brought to its attention.

However national legislation cannot provide advantages to non-resident Irish nationals on short visits here without extending the provisions to all EU nationals under the same conditions. There is currently no discrimination on grounds of nationality in social welfare legislation and to introduce such a provision would be contrary to the equality principles that Ireland has adopted in our own equality legislation, and that we are obliged to respect by virtue of the Treaties of the European Community, the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and other international conventions. This matter has already been fully investigated by my Department.

Energy Efficiency.

Simon Coveney

Ceist:

286 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the progress his Department has made in achieving this 33% target of energy efficiency in the public sector; if energy use in buildings under the responsibility of his Department is being monitored; if so, the person by whom it is monitored; the recent trends; if buildings under the responsibility of his Department are being retrofitted to improve energy efficiency; if there are capital budgets for energy efficiency measures in his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13129/08]

In 2007, the Office of Public Works (OPW) piloted an Energy Conservation Campaign covering seven of my Department's offices. The aim of the campaign was to raise staff awareness on the issue and to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions in these offices. Staff in the Department were hugely supportive of this pilot campaign and it proved to be very successful.

Energy usage is monitored by the Facilities Management Unit in my Department and, by way of example, a 15% reduction in the Department's electricity usage over the period 2005 to 2007 was recorded at the Department's head office in Áras Mhic Dhiarmada, Store Street, Dublin 1.

The Office of Public Works recently launched a further energy efficiency campaign — "Optimising Power at Work" in 250 State buildings located throughout the country with the aim of achieving a 15% reduction in carbon emissions. This campaign is being run in 27 of my Department's offices during 2008 and again management and staff have been asked to co-operate fully with this initiative.

As in the case of other Government Departments, my Department is reliant on the Office of Public Works for the design, acquisition, refurbishment and maintenance of its offices, including the installation of energy efficiency technologies, and has little discretion in this regard.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

287 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be approved and granted child benefit in respect of their two children; and if this payment will be backdated to the date their entitlement commenced. [13147/08]

A child benefit claim was received from the person concerned in February 2007 in respect of his children residing with their mother in Bulgaria.

Additional information was requested and obtained from the person concerned in April 2007 and again in February 2008. Correspondence has also issued to the Bulgarian authorities concerning any entitlements to child benefit in Bulgaria. When all the necessary information has been received, the person's claim will be decided. If the claim is awarded, all arrears due from the date of entitlement will be paid.

Statutory Instruments.

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

288 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the identity of each statutory instrument, falling within his Department’s remit, which has statutory effect under the European Communities Act 1972 or other legislation specifically relating to same; if he will provide a list of such statutory instruments having statutory effect; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13174/08]

The Deputy is referring to Statutory Instruments made under the European Communities Act 1972, section 4 of which provides that such regulations will have statutory effect. The Department of Social and Family Affairs has used the European Communities Act 1972 as a vehicle for implementing Council Directives on a number of occasions in the past. These Regulations are:

European Communities (Social Welfare) Regulations, 1992 (S.I. No. 152/1992):

European Communities (Social Welfare) Regulations, 1994 (S.I. No. 312/1994):

European Communities (Social Welfare) Regulations, 1995 (S.I. No. 25/1995):

None of these continue to have statutory effect.

Occupational Pension Schemes (Disclosure of information) (Amendment regulations 2003 (S.I. 4 of 2003)

These Regulations provided for the implementation of Article 7 of Directive 98/49/EC of 29 June 1998 on safeguarding the supplementary pension rights of employed and self employed persons moving within the Community, (the Mobility Directive).

Occupational Pension Schemes (Cross-Border) Regulations 2006 (SI 292 Of 2006)

Occupational Pension Schemes (Trustee) Regulations 2006 (SI 293 Of 2006)

Occupational Pension Schemes (Investment) Regulations 2006 (SI 294 Of 2006)

Occupational Pension Schemes (Funding Standard) (Amendment) Regulations 2006 (SI 295 Of 2006

Occupational Pension Schemes (Disclosure Of Information) Regulations 2006 (SI 301 Of 2006

These 5 Regulations were made consequential on the Directive 2003/41/EC on the activities and supervision of institutions for occupational retirement provision, known as the IORPs Directive.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

289 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if he will assist a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3. [13382/08]

The supplementary welfare allowance scheme, which includes rent supplement, is administered on my behalf by the Community Welfare division of the HSE. The purpose of rent supplement is to provide short-term income support to eligible tenants living in private rented accommodation whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs and who do not have accommodation available to them from any other source.

The Health Service Executive has advised that the person concerned is in receipt of a rent supplement payable at the maximum rate applicable to her circumstances but is seeking alternative accommodation in Co. Kildare. It has further advised that the person concerned may be seeking accommodation that is in excess of the prescribed limits

The Executive has advised that the person concerned should contact the community welfare officer with responsibility for the administration of rent supplement in the area that she wishes to relocate to, in advance of her move to determine any entitlements she may have.

Waste Management.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

290 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if his Department has a strategy to reduce the level of printed correspondence, communications, reports and other documents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12785/08]

As the Deputy will be aware, my Department operates, and administers, a wide range of schemes programmes and measures with the aim of promoting and supporting the sustainable and inclusive development of communities and advancing the use of the Irish language. Each of the schemes and grant programmes operated by my Department are governed by rules and eligibility criteria, which projects have to meet in order to qualify for funding.

My Department produces high quality publications but has a strategy to reduce the level of printed correspondence, communications, reports and other documents associated with these schemes and programmes, including:

Availability of details, application forms and eligibility criteria regarding the various schemes and programmes on the Department's website,www.pobail.ie

Publication of reports and other documentation on the Department's website

Plans to make the Statement of Strategy for the period 2008-2010, and other similar reports in the future available on CD

Plans to introduce the availability for completion of application form online.

Community Development.

Ciaran Lynch

Ceist:

291 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will confirm that the contract between an agency (details supplied) and his Department is to be terminated; his views on whether this agency provides valuable support services to community development projects; his rationale for termination of the contract; the way it is intended that community development projects are to be supported in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12810/08]

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Ceist:

292 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will review his Department’s decision to terminate the system of six regional support agencies for community development programmes from 31 May 2008; the alternative support structures he will put in place to fulfil the functions carried out by the regional support agencies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12854/08]

Deirdre Clune

Ceist:

293 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will confirm that it is his intention to terminate the contract between his Department and an agency (details supplied) from 31 May 2008; if so, if he will reverse this decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12870/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 291 to 293, inclusive, together.

I would like to refer the Deputies to my previous response to Questions numbered 20, 27 and 41 of 3rd April 2008.

Youth Services.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

294 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will make funding available for the provision of an extra youth employee at a club (details supplied) in County Kildare through the Dormant Accounts Fund or any other means available to him; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12971/08]

Disbursements from the Dormant Accounts Fund are designed to assist three broad categories of persons – those who are socially or economically disadvantaged; those who are educationally disadvantaged and persons with a disability. The legislation provides for Government to make decisions on disbursements from the Fund following a transparent process.

The organisation in question was awarded funding of €93,168 under the ICT Initiatives for Disadvantaged Youth to establish a dedicated youth internet café. They received their first payment of €24,092 at the end of January last.

Applications can only be accepted on foot of advertised measures under the current 2008 programme. All measures under this year's programme will be advertised and application forms will be available in due course.

Details of other programmes and schemes operated by my Department – and their eligibility requirements — can be found on my Department's website, www.pobail.ie.

Energy Efficiency.

Simon Coveney

Ceist:

295 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the progress his Department has made in achieving this 33% target of energy efficiency in the public sector; if energy use in buildings under the responsibility of his Department is being monitored; if so, the person by whom it is monitored; the recent trends; if buildings under the responsibility of his Department are being retrofitted to improve energy efficiency; if there are capital budgets for energy efficiency measures in his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13120/08]

My Department relies on the Office of Public Works for the provision of accommodation including maintenance and refurbishment, which includes the provision of efficient heating and lighting in offices. The Department, endeavours to operate heating and lighting systems in the most efficient manner.

The OPW already has an energy awareness programme underway in all large State Buildings including those occupied by my Department. Based on an advanced pilot programme completed last year this is expected to achieve 15% savings on an annual basis. This energy reduction programme is the first step in achieving the 2020 target of 33%. My Department has also appointed an Energy Officer who will have responsibility for implementing any recommendations made under the programme.

The progress to date has mainly been putting the energy awareness programme in place and it is expected that it will be several months before any quantifiable progress will be evident. It is expected that considerable progress will be made in the next heating season beginning next September.

An essential part of the energy reduction plan is to monitor energy usage. The OPW provides a monitoring service to this Department using a web based logging system which has been installed in advance of the energy awareness programme in the targeted State buildings.

For the present there is no OPW programme to undertake refurbishment work solely on the basis of energy conservation. It has been advised by the OPW that such a programme may be necessary in the future. However where refurbishment is necessary or planned energy saving will be considered in the designs and any reasonable or economic improvements shall be incorporated.

There is no capital budget for energy efficiency measures in this Department as, under the Department of Finance guidelines, such a budget is appropriate to the Office of Public Works.

Statutory Instruments.

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

296 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the identity of each statutory instrument, falling within his Department’s remit, which has statutory effect under the European Communities Act 1972 or other legislation specifically relating to same; if he will provide a list of such statutory instruments having statutory effect; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13165/08]

As the Deputy will be aware, the European Communities Act 1972 provides that from the 1st day of January, 1973, the treaties governing the European Communities and the existing and future acts adopted by the institutions of those Communities shall be binding on the State and shall be part of the domestic law thereof under the conditions laid down in those treaties.

As the Deputy will also be aware, my Department was established on the 6th June 2002 and since that date has not introduced any statutory instruments which would have statutory effect under the European Communities Act 1972 or other legislation specifically relating to same.

Oibreacha Feabhsúcháin.

Eamon Gilmore

Ceist:

297 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Eamon Gilmore den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta mar gheall ar an drochstaid ina bhfuil an ché ar Oileán Inis Bó Finne, Co Dhún na nGall agus an chontúirt do dhaoine ag úsáid na cé, an gceadófar deontas go luath le hobair feabhsúcháin a dhéanamh anseo. [13220/08]

Tá iarratas faighte ag mo Roinn ó Chomhairle Contae Dhún na nGall ar chúnamh 75% den chostas measta le haghaidh oibreacha feabhsúcháin a chur i gcrích ar Ché Inis Bó Finne.

Tá an togra seo á mheas i gcomhthéacs an tsoláthair atá ar fáil dom le caitheamh ar fhorbairt oileán i 2008 agus na n-éileamh éagsúla ar an soláthar sin. Is é an staid reatha ná go bhfuil clár caipitil uaillmhianach dar luach €33m á chur i gcrích i mbliana ar na hoileáin a bhfuil buanchónaí orthu agus tosaíocht dá réir ag baint leo.

Sna cúinsí uile, ní féidir a rá ag an bpointe seo cén uair a bheidh sé d'acmhainn ag mo Roinnse tabhairt faoin obair atá faoi chaibidil ag an Teachta ach coimeádfar an cás faoi bhreithniú.

Coastal Protection.

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

298 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will respond to a query (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12802/08]

The dunes at Burrow Road, Sutton, Co. Dublin are owned by Fingal County Council and responsibility for their maintenance and development is a matter for the Local Authority in the first instance.

It should be noted that in line with a recent Government decision, responsibility for Coastal Protection and Coastal Flooding will become the responsibility of the Department of Environment, Heritage & Local Government and arrangements are currently in train to affect the transfer.

Pending the transfer, my Department invited proposals from Local Authorities for inclusion in the 2008 Coastal Protection Programme. An application for funding for the above location was received from Fingal County Council.

The 2008 Coast Protection Programme is currently being drafted and the above application will be given due consideration based on Exchequer funding and overall national priorities going forward.

Foreshore Licences.

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

299 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will make a statement on the granting of a foreshore license to a consortium (details supplied) and the possible environmental implications. [12929/08]

On 4 February my Department issued a licence under section 3(3) of the Foreshore Act to Shell E&P Ireland Ltd to carry out site investigation works at Broadhaven Bay, Portacloy Bay, Sruwaddacon Bay and the estuary adjacent to Curraunboy, Co. Mayo.

The licence which is for site investigation works only was issued in accordance with normal procedures for assessing such applications. These procedures include the referral of the application to a wide range of expert consultees including the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. The procedures also included a process of public consultation by means of public notices in the newspapers.

The licence contains specific conditions designed to protect the environment including, in particular, mitigation measures for the protection of cetaceans.

Waste Management.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

300 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if her Department has a strategy to reduce the level of printed correspondence, communications, reports and other documents; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12782/08]

My Department has in recent times, developed a number of key initiatives that provide for a significant reduction in the level of correspondence, communications, reports generated both internally and in dealing with its clients.

My Department has in recent years provided extensive internet facilities providing both information and transaction based services resulting in improved customer service, increased efficiency and improved controls with the consequent reduction in administrative costs.

The majority of these initiatives are based on moving interactions with our customers to online services accessed through my Department's website,www.agriculture.gov.ie.

The range of schemes available online are extensive, covering direct payments under include areas as diverse as the Single Payment Scheme, animal traceability, forestry grants and premiums together with data relating to fishery catches.

My Department also has in place an extensive wide area network connecting over 200 locations countrywide where the Department has a presence. All staff have access to email and the Department's intranet which facilitate extensive use of electronic based communications. Email and SMS messaging are also used to communicate with the Department's customers and partners in the farming, fisheries and agri-food sectors which reduces significantly printing volumes on a day to day basis. Additionally, all reports published by my Department are available, free of charge, to the public from our website.

Seafood Industry.

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

301 Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when the Cawley Report into the seafood industry was received by her Department; when this report will be made available to all sections of the bottom mussel industry; if her attention has been drawn to whether the report has already been leaked or draft copies provided to some sections of the industry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12843/08]

I am assuming the Deputy is not referring to the Cawley Report which was launched back in January 2007, but to the Rising Tide report. The Rising Tide is a comprehensive report on the review of the bottom culture mussel industry which was carried out during 2007 and which was undertaken at the request of the industry. The finished report is currently with me and I am in the process of examining it prior to its release to industry.

Anecdotal evidence would suggest that a draft of the Rising Tide may have found its way into the public domain. If this is the case it may not be the final version and I would advise that it is best to await the formal release of the completed report, which I hope to be in a position to arrange in the near future.

Farm Waste Management.

Joe McHugh

Ceist:

302 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if the time will be extended for the farm waste management scheme to cater for people who are having difficulties with planning applications and other difficulties; her views on extending the closing date beyond 31 December 2008; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12848/08]

The end-2008 deadline for completion of work by farmers under the revised Farm Waste Management Scheme introduced by my Department in March 2006 is a strict condition of the EU state aid approval for the Scheme. I have no plans to approach the EU Commission to alter the terms of the state aid approval.

Grant Payments.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

303 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive their REP scheme payment. [12857/08]

An application from the person named was received on 28 January 2008. Assuming that the application is valid, her start date in REPS will be 1 February 2008. Her REPS 4 payment in 2008 will relate to the number of months in 2008 covered by her new contract, which will be 11 months, and she will receive 75% of her payment when all administrative checks for REPS and the Single Payment Scheme are completed. In practice, this is likely to be in early autumn.

The remaining 25% payment will go out when the last of the year's REPS on-farm inspections has taken place. This means that these payments are likely to be processed in December. To receive her REPS 4 payment, the person named must also submit her Single Payment application to Portlaoise by 15 May 2008.

Question No. 304 withdrawn.

Alternative Energy Projects.

Michael Creed

Ceist:

305 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food her Departments responsibility under the Foreshore Act 1933 as it relates to approvals for the construction of wind farms off the Irish coast; if the legislation is adequate in view of the level of interest now in the construction of wind farms off Ireland’s coasts and the scale of these developments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13104/08]

My Department is responsible for the administration of the Foreshore Act 1933, including the issue of leases and licences for Offshore Windfarms.

A Foreshore Lease application to construct an Offshore Electricity Generating station will include an extensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). In order to determine whether sufficient information has been presented by the developers in their application, a rigorous assessment of the application and EIS is undertaken, both within the Department and by statutory consultees such as the National parks and Wildlife Service.

Once the Department is satisfied that the application is sufficiently detailed, a public consultation process takes place lasting two months. Recent applications have seen over one hundred and twenty organisations consulted. The commencement of the public consultation will be advertised in national and regional newspapers and on the Department's web site. The public consultation phase lasts two months which is consistent with the onshore windfarm consultation process.

The EIS and the consultation submissions are considered by the Marine Licence Vetting Committee (MLVC). This is a committee comprised of a number of specialists qualified to assess the application, including marine scientists and engineers. It is only following the very rigorous examination outlined above that a recommendation is prepared for the Minister on whether a lease should or should not be granted. In addition my Department assesses, on an ongoing basis, the adequacy of the procedures involved.

The Government decided on 2 October 2007 that responsibility for foreshore licensing functions under the Foreshore Act 1933 for all energy developments (including oil, gas, wave, wind and tidal energy) on the foreshore would transfer to the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

My Department is currently putting in place the necessary arrangements to ensure the efficient and effective transfer of the appropriate legislation and associated functions.

Dredging Licences.

Joanna Tuffy

Ceist:

306 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if steps are to be taken to provide for public participation in decisions on applications for dredging licences under the Dumping at Sea Acts; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13112/08]

Under the Dumping at Sea Act 1996 (as amended) provision is already made for public participation in the decision making process covering Dumping at Sea applications.

The current public consultation process in relation to applications for Dumping at Sea permits requires that notices are published in local and national newspapers informing the public that an application has been made for a Dumping at Sea Permit, and that the application is available in a publicly accessible place close to the proposed dredging activity (e.g. Garda station, library, Port office). The period in which the public may submit comments on the application ranges from 21 days to one month depending on the nature and duration of the dredging activity to be undertaken.

The Government decided on 2 October 2007 that responsibility for the granting of permits under the Dumping at Sea Act 1996 (as amended) would transfer to the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.My Department is currently putting in place the necessary arrangements to ensure the efficient and effective transfer of the appropriate legislation and associated functions.

Energy Efficiency.

Simon Coveney

Ceist:

307 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the progress her Department has made in achieving this 33% target of energy efficiency in the public sector; if energy use in buildings under the responsibility of her Department is being monitored; if so, the person by whom it is monitored; the recent trends; if buildings under the responsibility of her Department are being retrofitted to improve energy efficiency; if there are capital budgets for energy efficiency measures in her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13117/08]

My Department's Services, Health and Safety Division has the lead role in monitoring energy use by my Department, and promoting energy efficiency schemes such as those described below.

High efficiency fluorescent lighting has been installed in all of my Department's Offices. This lighting is considered by OPW to be up to five times more energy efficient than conventional lighting. In more recently built DAFF Offices such as Galway Local Office lighting control systems have been installed, which automatically switch off lighting in Office areas that are unoccupied.

Building Management Systems have been installed in recent years in all my Department's Offices with a floor area greater than 1,000 sq metres. Building Management Systems are set up to avail of off peak/low rate electricity where possible, and are monitored by OPW. Building Management Systems also control use of electricity, gas & oil in all such Offices and centrally controls the hours when heating is turned on and also controls temperature in these Offices.

A number of my Department's Offices are currently participating in the OPW Energy Conservation initiative "Optimising Power at Work" which has a target of reducing Carbon dioxide emissions by promoting energy efficiency and conservation in those Offices.

Statutory Instruments.

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

308 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if her attention has been drawn to the identity of each statutory instrument, falling within her Department’s remit, which has statutory effect under the European Communities Act 1972 or other legislation specifically relating to same; if she will provide a list of such statutory instruments having statutory effect; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13162/08]

Regulations made by my Department pursuant to the European Communities Acts have statutory effect. All such Regulations when made are placed on my Department's web site for perusal by the public and other interested parties. Details of Orders and Regulations made each calendar year by my Department are also to be found in my Department's Annual Report.

The Animals Remedies Act of 1993 made provision for regulations made there under having statutory effect in so far as they give effect to "acts of the institutions of the European Communities" however there are no such Regulations extant at this time.

Animal By-Products.

Johnny Brady

Ceist:

309 Deputy Johnny Brady asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if it is intended to use meat and bonemeal as a fertiliser on land or on forestry in the future; and the safest means of disposal of this product. [13269/08]

The Irish rendering industry produced 151,000 tonnes of meat and bone-meal (MBM) in 2007. The use or disposal of this material is strictly controlled under Regulation (EC) No. 1774 of 2002. The Regulation classifies animal by-products into three risk categories, ranging from Category 1 (high risk) material to Category 3 (which poses little or no risk). The Regulation approves a number of disposal methods for animal by-products, depending on their category.

The bulk of MBM produced in this country continues to be disposed of by way of export for incineration. My policy is to encourage safe alternative uses of MBM in Ireland. A growing proportion is being used as a replacement for fossil fuel in a cement manufacturing plant. Category 3 MBM can also be incorporated in technical products or petfood; and I am aware of proposals to use MBM to fuel power plants and in the production of fertiliser

Commission Regulation 181 of 2006 allowed the application of MBM based fertilisers subject to a grazing restriction of 21 days. The Regulation further permits Member States to introduce stricter national controls. Landspread of organic fertilisers containing Category 3 MBM is permitted in this country under S.I. No. 615 of 2006 subject to a number of controls, including

a requirement that the fertiliser go through a process of technical transformation to render it unpalatable to animals;

a 3-year prohibition on grazing by farmed animals where the fertiliser is applied;

a 12-month prohibition on making silage or hay where the material is applied;

prohibition on access by farmed animals to the fertiliser;

a requirement that the fertiliser must not come into contact with feed;

and the registration of end-users subject to conditions laid down by the Department.

Ireland has traditionally taken advantage of flexibility to introduce stricter national controls to counter the risk of BSE and other diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease in the context of protecting public and animal health and to safeguard our very important beef export industry.

My Department is currently engaged in a review of regulations in this area with a view to possible relaxation in light of the significantly reduced incidence of BSE.

Common Agricultural Policy.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

310 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the extent to which she has had discussions with her EU colleagues in the context of the World Trade Organisation with a view to formulating an EU consensus in line with EU principals of self-sufficiency; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13270/08]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

311 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she has examined the implications for EU and Irish food producers in the event of a continuation of the position adopted by Mr. Mandelson during the CAP reform in the course of the World Trade Organisation talks; her proposal to address this situation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13271/08]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

312 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the steps she has taken or proposes to take to ensure that Irish beef, lamb and pigmeat exports can compete on European or world markets currently and in the future in the aftermath of the World Trade Organisation talks; the steps required to adequately meet such competition; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13272/08]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

316 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the extent to which she has engaged in discussions with the independent food producing interests other than those influenced by multinational corporations within the EU and throughout the world with particular reference to the World Trade Organisation discussions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13276/08]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

320 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she has studied the Mandelson document produced by the Irish Farmers Association in connection with the World Trade Organisation discussions; the extent to which she has sought support from her EU colleagues to ensure that this country and other food producers within the EU are not sacrificed on world markets thus leaving Europe vulnerable in terms of food sufficiency; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13280/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 310 to 312, inclusive, 316 and 320 together.

The negotiations on the next WTO Round have entered another intensive phase as efforts continue to reach a full and final agreement by the end of 2008. There is no doubt that the outcome of these negotiations will represent a significant challenge for EU and Irish agriculture.

The 2003 Reform of the CAP was undertaken with this Round of WTO negotiations clearly in mind. The move to non-trade distorting decoupled payments has allowed the EU make significant commitments in these negotiations in relation to reductions in the trade distorting supports such as market and price supports. The 2003 CAP Reforms also represent the limit of the EU Commission's negotiating position in these negotiations. This negotiating position has been approved by the EU Council of Ministers and has been reiterated on several occasions by the Council. Any WTO agreement which would result in a further reform of the CAP would exceed this negotiating position and would be unacceptable.

I will continue to insist that the Commission respects this negotiating position in these discussions. The Common Agricultural Policy remains a cornerstone of the EU and the principles on which this policy is based are even more valid given the dynamics of the current global economy. My priorities in these negotiations are to ensure that Irish agricultural products remain competitive on EU and world markets. This can be achieved by securing appropriate levels of import protection for the EU market and ensuring that there is full parallel elimination of all forms of export subsidies used by other exporting countries such as state trading enterprises, food aid and export credits.

These negotiations are ongoing and there are a number of significant issues which remain unresolved. It would therefore be difficult at this point to analyse the overall impact on the Irish economy. The Commission has however recently provided some details of its assessment of the impact of the proposals made last February by the Chairman of the WTO Agriculture Committee. This analysis is currently the subject of discussion between Member States and the Commission. In addition some independent assessments are likely to emerge in the near future. In these circumstances I think it better, from both a technical and negotiating standpoint, to await further clarification from the Commission and input from other sources before drawing detailed conclusions on the likely impact of a possible trade deal, the details of which are not yet known.

As I have indicated repeatedly I am concerned with the current direction of the negotiations. The latest paper issued by the Chair of the Agriculture Committee includes a number of proposals which could have serious consequences for EU agriculture, and in particular EU beef production. I and my Government colleagues have and will continue to take every opportunity to express these concerns in the strongest terms in the various EU and WTO meetings dealing with these negotiations.

I, and my Department, have consistently and continuously outlined the Irish position in the clearest possible terms at official and political level including numerous bilateral meetings with the Commission and other EU Member States. I have developed and maintained valuable contacts with like-minded Member States on this issue. I have and will continue to play a leading role in the Group of 14 plus like minded Member States who have come together to express concerns in relation to the direction of the WTO agriculture negotiations. This group has now grown to 20 Member States. Of course, each Member State has its own particular concerns, however I believe broad alliances such as this are crucial in an EU of 27 Member States. I will continue to work closely with like-minded Ministers in other Member States to seek support for my position.

I have also consulted continuously and widely with all the main stakeholders in relation to the ongoing negotiations. The WTO Consultative Committee was established specifically for the purpose of providing advice and guidance to me on these negotiations. It is comprised of representatives of all of the main Irish producer and agri-food industry interests as well as independent experts. It meets on a regular basis, most recently in late February and is scheduled to meet again shortly.

The Government will continue to insist that the final WTO agreement must be a balanced one. It will not be acceptable to me or the Government that EU agriculture carries a disproportionate burden or is sacrificed for the sake of a deal. The EU has made significant contributions to these negotiations including the move in the 2003 CAP Reforms to non-trade distorting decoupled payments. These Reforms have allowed the EU to commit to very significant reductions in the levels of trade distorting supports in particular in relation to production linked price supports. It is now the responsibility of other WTO negotiating partners to make equivalent contributions. I will continue to insist that the Commission pursues balance in the negotiations. The EU, and in particular EU agriculture cannot be the banker for this WTO Round.

Alternative Farm Enterprises.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

313 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the total area dedicated to growing bio-energy crops; the growth in this regard in the past five years; the projections for the future; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13273/08]

Over the past five years, the area devoted to energy crops has increased from 137 hectares in 2003 to just over 9,000 hectares in 2007. The table highlights the upward trend since 2003.

Year

Area per hectare

2003

137

2004

732

2005

2,590

2006

4,456

2007

9,057

The increase in area is due to a number of factors including the buoyant bio-fuels market, growing demand for biomass feedstock and the introduction of incentives to encourage cultivation of energy crops. The incentives include a new National Energy Crops Premium worth €80 per hectare and a Bioenergy Scheme offering establishment grants of €1,450 per hectare to grow miscanthus and willow. Other available incentives include the EU Energy Crops premium of €45 per hectare and the Single Farm Payment on areas planted with energy crops. These incentives are intended to complement the measures introduced by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources to stimulate demand for bioenergy, most notably the €200m excise relief scheme.

The future outlook for energy crops depends on a number of factors, not least profitability at farm level and the relative returns for food, feed or bio-fuel. More long-term projections are difficult to forecast at this stage. Much will depend on the rate of development of production and consumption patterns for bio-fuels over the next number of years.

Fisheries Protection.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

314 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if in the context of fishery policy reform each country within the EU has been sufficiently penalised commensurate with the degree to which they have eroded the various fish stock species; if her attention has been drawn to the view that some of the perpetrators have not been penalised; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13274/08]

Fish stocks are managed under the Common Fisheries Policy in order to provide a sustainable and viable industry going forward. Overfishing of any stock acts against its ongoing viability and as such it is an underlying principle that amounts in excess of quota taken from a stock must be paid back to that stock as soon as possible. Council Regulation 2371/2002 of 20 December 2002 on the conservation and sustainable management exploitation of fisheries resources under the Common Fisheries Policy lays down the procedure to be followed if the annual fishing quota is exceeded by any Member State.

I have had particular concerns that, in relation to the overfishing of blue fin tuna by certain Member States in 2007, the provisions for payback were not applied in the manner set down and I made by views in this regard very clear at Council.

I have consistently argued procedures for pay back must be applied to all Member States on an even- handed basis, and I will continue to press for such equity. I am confident that this view is shared by the majority of other Member States.

Food Labelling.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

315 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the extent to which she and her Department monitor the labelling of food and food products imported into this country with a view to ensuring that the labelling is authentic; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13275/08]

The Minister for Health & Children has overall responsibility for the general food labelling legislation. Responsibility for enforcement of labelling legislation rests with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) through its service contracts with my Department, the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, the Health Services Executive, the Local Authorities and the National Consumer Agency. Breaches of food labelling legislation should be reported to the FSAI.

Food products of animal origin imported from an EU source must come from an approved food business establishment and be accompanied to its destination by a commercial document or a health certificate signed by an official veterinarian of the competent authority of the Member State of origin. In the case of importation from third countries they must originate in a country approved by the EU for trade in such products, have been produced in an approved establishment, be appropriately labelled and transported and must be accompanied by a veterinary health certificate in accordance the models laid down by Community legislation.

All consignments from third countries must first be landed at a Border Inspection Post (BIP) operated by my Department that has been approved by the Food and Veterinary Office of the EU (FVO) and there undergo documentary, identity and physical checks. These latter are carried out at frequencies laid down in EU law. In Ireland BIPs approved for the processing imports of animal products are located at Dublin Port and Shannon Airport. The FVO carries out monitoring and inspection of each Member State's BIPs to ensure the conditions for import of animal products into Europe, provided under the harmonized legislation, are being correctly applied.

Once it has been established that imported animal product has met all the required conditions it is released for free circulation within the community. Copies of the BIP clearance document and the health certificate must accompany the consignment to its destination. Imports failing to comply with these veterinary control checks may be detained for further examination. If non-compliance is established they are returned to the exporting country or destroyed.

Question No. 316 answered with Question No. 310.

Food Safety Standards.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

317 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she has taken steps to ensure that all food and food products imported into this country have been subjected to the same production and traceability requirements as those applicable within this country and throughout the EU; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13277/08]

Detailed EU legislation lays down the conditions that Member States must apply to the production of and trade in products of animal origin as well as to imports of these products from third countries. Undertakings that carry out activities related to any stage of production, processing and distribution of food are required to comply with these conditions to ensure the safety of the food they are placing on the market. Health labelling and traceability requirements together with controls operated by the competent authorities which in turn are audited by the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) of the EU provide assurances that food is safe. They are a part of the EU's hygiene of food and feed package, the implementation and monitoring of which is carried out by the relevant competent agencies under Service Contracts by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland since 1999.

It is a requirement that animal products imported from third countries meet standards at least equivalent to those required for production in, and trade between, Member States. All imports must come from third countries or areas of third countries approved for export to the EU.

The FVO carries out assessment of third countries wishing to export animal products to EU and submits for Commission approval those where the responsible authorities can provide appropriate guarantees as regards compliance or equivalence with Community feed and food law and animal health rules. Third countries and their establishments that are approved to export are audited and inspected by the FVO with regard to these guarantees and reports of the findings of inspections are published on its website. If an outbreak of an animal diseases occurs in a third country or there are matters that indicate a risk to animal or human health, approval to export to the EU is suspended for the country or the effected region, as appropriate, until this risk has been eliminated. Where the FVO considers that public health requirements are not being met, an establishment may be removed from the EU approved list.

Public and animal health controls in the area of third country import of food of animal origin are carried out by my Department at EU approved Border Inspection Posts in co-operation with Customs Service. Import control forms a part of the EU's integrated policy of guaranteeing that the food produced and placed on to the market is safe and that animal and public health is not put at risk.

I have consistently pointed out at EU level that produce imported from third countries must meet standards equivalent to those required of Community producers. In this context I have been in regular contact EU Commissioner for Health. I have received assurances that the Commission will not hesitate to take the appropriate protection measures if a product, imported from a third country or produced in the domestic market represents a risk for the health of EC consumers, livestock or plants. The Commission recently introduced additional requirements for bovine meat imported from Brazil to address shortcomings in traceability identified and confirmed by the FVO at inspection missions to that country.

I should also add that in WTO discussions in the Council, I have always emphasized the need to take account of the non-trade aspect of market access, which I regard as a crucial element in the overall negotiations.

Fishing Industry Development.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

318 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the extent to which families involved in the fishing industry here have declined in the past five years; the expected projections in this regard in the future; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13278/08]

Total full-time and part-time employment in the Irish Fishing Industry (incl Fisheries, Aquaculture, Processing and Ancillary activities) was 14,812 and 10,975 in the years 2000 and 2006 respectively.

The report of the Seafood Strategy Review Group Steering a New Course (The Cawley Report) includes a number of recommendations focusing specifically on enhancing the value and quality of Irish seafood generally, as well as a number focusing on providing training opportunities.

Successful implementation of these recommendations is expected to enhance the income generation potential of those involved in the fishing industry, in addition to opening new opportunities for those wishing to enter, or diversify into the seafood sector generally.

Grant Payments.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

319 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare qualifies for any REP scheme or any other grant; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13279/08]

In the absence of an application it is not possible to determine whether the person named is eligible for REPS 4 or other schemes. An approved REPS planner can advise him on entry requirements. Schemes documentation is also available from my Department's local AES offices.

Question No. 320 answered with Question No. 310.

Library Services.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

321 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science if funding is available through his Department to assist a group (details supplied) in County Kildare seeking to provide a library for their members; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13101/08]

Jack Wall

Ceist:

338 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science if funding is available from her Department for the provision of a library to an organisation (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12972/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 321 and 338 together.

My Department supports a number of schemes and initiatives which provide non-formal educational opportunities for young people throughout the country through voluntary participation in youth work. This support consists mainly of grant-in-aid assistance for national and major regional youth work organisations under the Youth Service Grant Scheme, targeted youth work responses for young people through the Special Projects for Youth Scheme and support for youth clubs and groups at a local level through the Local Youth Club Grant Scheme.

My Department sanctioned funding for the Curragh Youth Project in 2007 under the Special Projects for Youth (SPY) Scheme and is reviewing the progress of the project in that context at present. The project's application for funding under this scheme did not include an application for funding for the provision of a library.

Regeneration Programme.

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

322 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Science the funding allocated to the regeneration boards in County Limerick to address educational needs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13240/08]

My Department currently is examining the education elements of the Vision Statements of the Limerick Southside and Northside Regeneration Agencies, launched in January of this year, with a view to supporting the regeneration strategy set out in the Fitzgerald report to Cabinet. In this regard the Department's Mid-Western Regional Office is working very closely with the Agencies and with the wide range of education interests in Limerick.

My Department has already committed to the retention of teaching staff in some primary schools in these areas experiencing falling enrolments, as a means of supporting these schools in their work in the short term.

Waste Management.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

323 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Education and Science if her Department has a strategy to reduce the level of printed correspondence, communications, reports and other documents; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12787/08]

My Department, where practical, aims to reduce the production of printed documents. A wide range of publications and reports are made available electronically on my Department's website. For example, school inspection reports are made available on my Department's website. A range of application forms, circulars and other information booklets are also made available for reference and download from the Department's website.

In addition, a new service was recently introduced, whereby short messages can be printed on teachers payslips and this is used to make teachers aware of new circulars and other notices that have been published on the Department's website. This has removed the need to send paper copies of circulars to every teacher in the country. In addition, the Online Claims System which has been rolled out to primary and post primary schools has also removed the need for schools to submit certain information to my Department on paper forms, thus saving both on printing and postage costs.

My Department will continue to take advantage of opportunities to reduce the amount of documents printed wherever this is practical.

School Accommodation.

Pat Breen

Ceist:

324 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Education and Science the status of an application for a school (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12812/08]

I can confirm to the Deputy that an application has been received for funding for the provision of additional accommodation at the school in question. The progression of all large scale building projects from initial design stage through to tender and construction, including this project, will be considered on an on-going basis in the context of my Department's Multi-Annual School Building and Modernisation Programme.

Schools Building Projects.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

325 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in relation to the provision of a new school (details supplied) in County Kildare, in view of the serious concerns expressed by parents in relation to a number of factors that are seriously affecting the children and teachers at present in the existing school; if her Department has the final responsibility in relation to the health and safety factors; if so, the action her Department will take in the short term to address this matter; if the rectification of such serious issues is dependent on when the new school is to be built; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12844/08]

The project at the school referred to by the Deputy is at advanced stage — Stage 2b of architectural planning. (i.e. Detailed Design and Bill of Quantities).

Progression of all building projects, including the school in question will be considered in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. Issues of health and safety are the responsibility of the board of management, in the first instance.

Higher Education.

Joe McHugh

Ceist:

326 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will intervene in the case of a person (details supplied) who is seeking a transfer to UCD to continue their studies in veterinary medicine on compassionate grounds; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12847/08]

The position is that the universities are run as autonomous institutions. They are also academically independent and my Department does not have any function in the day to day operational affairs of such colleges. It would, therefore, not be appropriate for me to intervene in this matter.

Special Educational Needs.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

327 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Education and Science the status of the proposed autism centre at Middletown in County Armagh; when it is expected that this facility will be up and running; the services it will provide; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12871/08]

The Middletown Centre for Autism project is a joint initiative between the Department of Education in Northern Ireland and the Department of Education and Science aimed at supporting the promotion of excellence in the development and harmonisation of education and allied services to children and young people with autistic spectrum disorders.

It has been agreed that the following four key services will be provided by the centre: learning support service; an educational assessment service; training and advisory service and an autism research and information service.

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that officials from my Department and the Department of Education in Northern Ireland continue to work closely together to progress the development of the Middletown Centre for Autism. Members were appointed to a Board of Directors in 2007 and a small number of key staff has taken up positions facilitating the phasing in of service provision. Work to date includes the provision of some training and also a public consultation process on the Centre. However the Centre will not be fully up and running until the proposed building project is completed, which is scheduled for 2009.

Schools Building Projects.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

328 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Education and Science the status of the already approved ten classroom extension and associated works at a school (details supplied) in County Cavan; if said project has been placed on hold; the reason such a decision would be taken; the expected duration of any on hold designation, if such applies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12872/08]

The process of appointing a design team to the school building project referred to by the Deputy is at an advanced stage. The advancement of all large scale building projects from initial design stage through to construction phase, including this project, will be considered on an on-going basis in the context of my Department's Multi-Annual School Building and Modernisation Programme.

Special Educational Needs.

James Reilly

Ceist:

329 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of speech and language therapy graduates for each of the years 2000 to 2008; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12881/08]

In 2002 my Department approved the provision of an additional 75 places on new courses in Speech and Language Therapy in University College Cork, National University of Ireland, Galway and University Limerick in addition to the 25 places on an existing course in Trinity College Dublin. As a result there has been a significant increase in the numbers of Speech and Language Therapists graduating from universities in recent years. Some 92 Therapists graduated in 2007 compared to 23 in 2000.

The following table gives details of the number of graduates from 1999/00 to 2006/07. Future graduate output is expected to be in line with these numbers.

Speech & Language Therapy

1999/2000

2000/01

2001/02

2002/03

2003/04

2004/05

2005/06

2006/07

Graduations

23

17

27

23

21

50

52

92

Schools Building Projects.

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

330 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will respond to the following query (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12917/08

On 1 February, I announced a list of schools which are due to go to construction in 2008. It is also my intention to make a further announcement shortly to allow a further batch of schools to commence construction and to update progress on the new schools planned for September 2008 delivery in developing areas.

Details of my announcement on February 1 can be viewed under the "Press Room" section of my Department's website (www.education.ie).

Higher Education Grants.

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

331 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will respond to a query from a person (details supplied) in County Dublin. [12928/08]

The Higher Education Grants Schemes operate under the Local Authorities (Higher Education Grants) Acts, 1968 to 1992. Under the Higher Education Grants Scheme an approved course is defined as a full-time undergraduate course of at least two years duration or a full-time postgraduate course of not less than one year duration pursued in an approved institution.

An approved institution is defined to mean a university, college or other institution of higher education in so far as it provides a course or courses of not less than two years duration, being a course, or courses, which the Minister for Education and Science approves for the time being for the purposes of the Acts.

Each year, the Higher Education Grants Scheme specifies a list of approved institutions for the purposes of the Schemes. The approved institutions mainly comprise of public funded third level institutions.

I understand the course referred to by the Deputy is provided by a private college. There are no plans at present to extend the scope of the student support schemes to private colleges.

School Enrolments.

Joan Burton

Ceist:

332 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of children enrolled in national schools under Protestant management and in receipt of public funds; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12930/08]

Joan Burton

Ceist:

333 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of children enrolled in national schools under Church of Ireland management and in receipt of public funds; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12931/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 332 and 333 together.

I wish to advise the Deputy that the 2006/2007 enrolment figures are the most recent available ones at the present. For 2006/2007 there were 13,911 pupils attending Church of Ireland schools in the country.

Joan Burton

Ceist:

334 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of children enrolled in secondary schools under Protestant management and in receipt of public funds; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12932/08]

There are 21 Protestant secondary schools with 9,331 children enrolled. These schools receive funding from my Department by way of the Block Grant. There are a further 5 Protestant schools in the Community and Comprehensive sector in receipt of funding from my Department, with 3,049 students enrolled. The enrolment figures referred to above are at 30th September 2006, which are the most recently available.

Joan Burton

Ceist:

335 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of children enrolled in national schools under Protestant management and in receipt of public funds in Counties Sligo and Leitrim; the number of children enrolled in those schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12933/08]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the 2006/2007 enrolment figures are the most recent available ones at the present. For 2006/2007 there were 291 pupils in Country Sligo and 93 pupils in County Leitrim attending Church of Ireland schools.

Special Educational Needs.

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

336 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of special needs assistants, learning support and resource teachers granted to secondary schools here during the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12944/08]

As the Deputy is aware, there has been enormous progress made over the past number of years in relation to increasing the number of teachers in our second level schools who are specifically dedicated to providing education for children with special educational needs.

At second level, approximately 2,125 whole time equivalent teachers are in place to support pupils with special educational needs. This compares to approximately 856 teachers that were in place in 2002 for such pupils. In addition, there are 561 whole time equivalent learning support teachers at second level. In regard to special needs assistants (SNA's) there are approximately 1,819 whole time equivalent SNA's in our second level schools. This compares to 384 SNA's in 2002.

School Staffing.

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

337 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of additional permanent teachers appointed to secondary schools here during the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12945/08]

I am pleased to advise the Deputy that significant improvements have been made in the staffing levels of our second level schools in recent years. In the period between the 2001/2002 and 2007/2008 school years, there were approximately twelve hundred additional wholetime equivalent teaching posts allocated to second level schools.

The number of permanent teaching posts available in individual schools at any one time is determined in accordance with the agreed criteria relating to the application of the pupil teacher ratio. It is a matter for the individual school authority, as employer, to determine whether any particular post when vacated may be filled on a permanent basis.

Question No 338 answered with Question No. 321.

State Examinations.

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

339 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will respond to a query from a person (details supplied) in Dublin 13; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12981/08]

The State Examinations Commission has statutory responsibility for operational matters relating to the certificate examinations including organising the holding of examinations and determining procedures in places where examinations are conducted including the supervision of examinations. In view of this I have forwarded your query to the State Examinations Commission for direct reply to the Deputy.

Schools Building Projects.

Pádraic McCormack

Ceist:

340 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in relation to the proposed extension for a school (details supplied) in County Galway; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12986/08]

An application for capital funding towards the provision of a new school building has been received from the school authority referred to by the Deputy. The long term projected staffing assessment and the further progression of the proposed building project will be considered on an ongoing basis in the context of my Department's multi annual School Building and Modernisation programme.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

341 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason a project (details supplied) in County Kildare has not advanced further in the context of the multi-annual school building and modernisation programme in view of the urgent need for implementation of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12989/08]

An extension project for the school in question is at an advance stage of architectural planning. The further progression of the project will be considered on an ongoing basis in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

342 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in relation to an application for major capital funding by the management authority of a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; if she expects to be in a position to respond favourably to this request in the near future; the expected timeframe for the implementation of funding for this school; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12990/08]

The School Planning and Building Unit of my Department is in receipt of an application from the school referred to by the Deputy. My Department has agreed, in principle, to the future expansion of this school to an 8-classroom facility.

As part of the Programme for Government, a Developing Areas Unit was set up recently in my Department to focus on the school accommodation needs of rapidly developing areas, including Naas. The main emphasis in 2008 is on providing sufficient school places in these developing areas, as well as delivering improvements in the quality of existing primary and post-primary school accommodation throughout the country.

In this context, the status of this project is being assessed as part of the overall delivery plan for Naas, which is currently being formulated within the Developing Areas Unit. As is the case with all major capital projects, progression of this project will be considered in the context of the multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme.

Special Educational Needs.

David Stanton

Ceist:

343 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of home tuition grants paid in 2007; the number of children in 2007 who took part in the home tuition scheme; the cost of the home tuition scheme in 2007; the number of children currently taking part in the home tuition scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12995/08]

The Deputy will be aware that the Home Tuition scheme provides funding to parents to provide education at home for children who, for a number of reasons such as chronic illness, are unable to attend school. The scheme was extended in recent years to facilitate tuition for children awaiting a suitable educational placement.

910 pupils participated in the scheme in the 2006/2007 school year and to date in the current school year in excess of 700 pupils have been granted tuition under the scheme. The cost of the scheme from January to December 2007 was €6,186,040.25.

School Accommodation.

David Stanton

Ceist:

344 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Science further to Parliamentary Question No. 153 of 13 March 2008, if her attention has been drawn to the need to supply extra accommodation to schools (details supplied) in County Cork in view of the fact that both schools are currently operating at full capacity and may have to refuse students entry in the next school year; the current enrolment of both schools; the current capacity of both schools; her plans in this regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [12996/08]

As the Deputy may be aware, in 2007 a Developing Areas Unit was set up in my Department to focus on the school accommodation needs of rapidly developing areas including the area to which the Deputy refers. The main emphasis in 2008 is on providing sufficient school places in these developing areas, as well as delivering improvements in the quality of existing primary and post-primary school accommodation throughout the country.

In this context, the issue of primary and post-primary places in the area in question and the status of these projects in particular are currently being assessed. As is the case of all large capital projects currently on hand within the Developing Areas Unit, progression of these projects will be considered in the context of the multi-annual School Building and Modernisation programme.

The current enrolments of the schools to which the Deputy refers are 540 and 474 respectively and both schools are operating at full capacity. Both schools have applied for additional accommodation to facilitate increased enrolments. Contact has been made with the school authorities in order to arrange the provision of additional temporary accommodation where possible for next September.

Schools Building Projects.

Catherine Byrne

Ceist:

345 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Science the status of an application for a school building project (details supplied) in Dublin 10; when this project will begin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13103/08]

The architectural planning of the school building project referred to by the Deputy is at an advanced stage. The progression of all projects to tender and construction, including this project, will be considered on an ongoing basis in the context of my Departments Multi Annual School Building and Modernisation Programme.

Energy Efficiency.

Simon Coveney

Ceist:

346 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Education and Science the progress her Department has made in achieving this 33% target of energy efficiency in the public sector; if energy use in buildings under the responsibility of her Department is being monitored; if so, the person by whom it is monitored; the recent trends; if buildings under the responsibility of her Department are being retrofitted to improve energy efficiency; if there are capital budgets for energy efficiency measures in her Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13122/08]

The Office of Public Works is responsible for the provision and maintenance of government office accommodation. They have installed Energy Saving Lighting (using passive infra-red fittings) in my Department's Athlone offices, the 9 Regional Offices and in new office accommodation in Athlone. OPW have been asked to investigate the suitability of installing these fittings in the existing offices in Dublin and Tullamore. Long life CFL lamps (energy efficient lighting) are used throughout my Department's offices where light fittings allow. My Department is committed to energy efficiency and is involved in the collaborative purchase of electricity, in conjunction with other government departments, aimed at reducing expenditure on electricity and to progress government commitments to increase the amount of energy used from renewable sources.

With respect to energy programmes that would compliment environmental work currently taking place under the green flags initiative for the past nine years my Department has been using a process called the DART approach (Design, Awareness, Research, and Technology) to develop sustainable and energy efficiency in educational buildings. The policy is driven by technical guidance documents, informed by building unit professional and technical staff, external partnerships and updated by continued energy research and development.

Rather than develop a unique focus on energy design my Department has taken a more holistic approach and have developed their technical guidance on energy efficiency in school designs as an integral part of the suite of technical guidance documents. These guidelines encourage the design team to take a complete design team approach from project conception.

The incorporation of low energy design has been done on a hybrid basis by maximising natural resources and utilising technologies. This involves focusing on areas such as natural ventilation, passive solar design, day lighting and reducing infiltration, enhanced insulation, lighting and heating controls and water efficiency.

The focus to date on sustainability in schools has been to reduce the energy demand in schools. This has proven quite successful with modern day schools typically using three times less energy than schools built ten years ago and also using less than half the energy than what is termed as good international practice for schools.

School Accommodation.

Noel Coonan

Ceist:

347 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Education and Science the status of an application for grant aid for major capital works for a school (details supplied) in County Tipperary; when she expects a decision to be made; if her attention has been drawn to the urgency of this application; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13139/08]

I can confirm to the Deputy that an application has been received for funding for the provision of additional accommodation at the school in question. The progression of all large scale projects from initial design stage through to tender, including this project, will be considered on an on-going basis in the context of my Department's Multi-Annual School Building and Modernisation Programme.

Schools Building Projects.

Noel Coonan

Ceist:

348 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Education and Science the status of an application for building works for a school (details supplied) in County Tipperary; when she expects a decision to be made; if her attention has been drawn to the urgency of this application; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13140/08]

The project to which the Deputy refers is currently at an early stage of architectural planning. The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project will be considered on an on-going basis in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme.

School Libraries.

Noel Coonan

Ceist:

349 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Education and Science the status on an application for a demonstration library project for a school (details supplied) in County Tipperary; when she expects a decision to be made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13141/08]

I assume the application for the school to which the Deputy refers was made under the Dormant Accounts Scheme. In light of the very large number of project proposals received and the level of oversubscription the Dormant Accounts Fund Inter-Departmental Committee Educational Disadvantage recommended that arrangements should be made to transfer these proposals to the Department's Planning and Building Unit for consideration in the context of the Department's overall Schools Building and Modernisation Programme. The application referred to by the Deputy will be considered in this context.

School Accommodation.

Noel Coonan

Ceist:

350 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in relation to an application by a school (details supplied) in County Tipperary who have made an application for additional accommodation; the reason for the delay in processing this application; if her attention has been drawn to the urgency of the situation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13142/08]

An application for an extension has been received from the school referred to by the Deputy. The building project required to meet the school's accommodation needs will be considered on an ongoing basis in the context of my Department's School Building and Modernisation Programme.

School Libraries.

Noel Coonan

Ceist:

351 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Education and Science the status on an application for a demonstration library project for a school (details supplied) in County Tipperary; when she expects a decision to be made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13143/08]

I assume the application for the school to which the Deputy refers was made under the Dormant Accounts Scheme. In light of the very large number of project proposals received and the level of oversubscription the Dormant Accounts Fund Inter-Departmental Committee Educational Disadvantage recommended that arrangements should be made to transfer these proposals to the Department's Planning and Building Unit for consideration in the context of the Department's overall Schools Building and Modernisation Programme. The application referred to by the Deputy will be considered in this context.

Schools Building Projects.

Noel Coonan

Ceist:

352 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Education and Science the status of an application for building works for a school (details supplied) in County Tipperary; when she expects a decision to be made; if her attention has been drawn to the urgency of this application; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13144/08]

The Modernisation and Policy Unit of my Department has received an application for contingency funding from the school in question. This application will be assessed and the school authorities notified of the outcome without delay.

Noel Coonan

Ceist:

353 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Education and Science the status of an application for building works for a school (details supplied) in County Tipperary; when she expects a decision to be made; if her attention has been drawn to the urgency of this application; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13145/08]

The extension/refurbishment project referred to by the Deputy is at an early stage of architectural planning. The further progression of all large scale capital projects, including this project, will be considered in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation programme.

Dinny McGinley

Ceist:

354 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Education and Science if an application has been received to provide a new school at a location (details supplied) in County Donegal; if the application is being considered; if a site has been identified for a new school and purchased; the present stage of planning; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13155/08]

The school referred to by Deputy was approved to commence architectural planning of a new 24 classroom school. A technical examination of the existing school site concluded that the development of a 24 classroom school building on the site would not be feasible.

A technical inspection on a number of other sites was carried out in January 2008. This report is currently under consideration by my Department.

Dinny McGinley

Ceist:

355 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Education and Science if a new vocational school has been approved for a location (details supplied) in County Donegal; if approval has been given to the project to go to tender; if tenders have been received and assessed; when approval will be given to proceed with the project; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13156/08]

A tender report for the project referred to by the Deputy is currently under examination by my Department. The contract for the project has not yet been awarded.

The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project, from initial design stage through to construction phase will be considered on an on-going basis in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme.

Statutory Instruments.

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

356 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Education and Science if her attention has been drawn to the identity of each statutory instrument, falling within her Department’s remit, which has statutory effect under the European Communities Act 1972 or other legislation specifically relating to same; if she will provide a list of such statutory instruments having statutory effect; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13167/08]

The following statutory instruments, falling within my Department's remit, have statutory effect:

1. European Communities (General System for the Recognition of Higher Education Diplomas and Professional Education and Training and Second General System for the Recognition of Professional Education and Training) (Amendment) Regulations 2003 (S.I. No. 36 of 2004).

2. European Communities (Recognition of Qualifications and Experience) Regulations 2003 (S.I. No. 372 of 2003)

3. European Communities (Second General System for the Recognition Of Professional Education And Training) Regulations, 1996. (S.I. No. 135 of 1996)

4. European Communities (General System for the Recognition of Higher Education Diplomas) Regulations, 1991. (S.I. No. 1 of 1991)

Schools Building Projects.

Alan Shatter

Ceist:

357 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in respect of each post-primary school located in Dublin South with regard to the provision of a new school building or of additional or replacement classrooms, the construction of extensions and other structural proposals submitted to her Department for approval or which are under consideration; the stage of each proposal within her Department; when sanctions sought are expected to be forthcoming; and when she anticipates the essential funding required to provide new and essential school facilities will be made available. [13223/08]

Alan Shatter

Ceist:

358 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in respect of each primary school located in Dublin South with regard to the provision of a new school building or of additional or replacement classrooms, the construction of extensions and other structural proposals submitted to her Department for approval or which are under consideration; the stage of each proposal within her Department; when sanctions sought are expected to be forthcoming; and when she anticipates the essential funding required to provide new and essential school facilities will be made available. [13224/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 357 and 358 together.

The data requested on all primary and post-primary schools in South Dublin would take an inordinate amount of time to compile. However, if the Deputy has a query in relation to a specific school he can contact officials in my Department who will be happy to assist in this regard.

Details of projects approved in recent years are on my Department's website at www.education.ie. Further announcements will be made during the year.

Proposed Legislation.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

359 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science the plans she has to address the concerns expressed in a submission (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13233/08]

My Department is engaged in further consultations with the key stakeholders, including the Union of Students in Ireland, in relation to matters arising in the context of the Student Support Bill, and the Programme of Legislative and Administrative Reform of Student Grants. The matters which have been raised by the stakeholders including the concerns expressed by the Union of Students in Ireland are under consideration in my Department.

Schools Refurbishment.

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

360 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will grant funding to a school (details supplied) in County Limerick, which has previously been turned down, in order to comply with a direction of the environmental health section of the Health Service Executive regarding sanitary facilities to comply with hygiene standards; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13239/08]

I can confirm to the Deputy that an application has been received for funding for the provision of additional accommodation and refurbishment at the school in question. The progression of all large scale building projects from initial design stage through to tender and construction, including this project, will be considered on an on-going basis in the context of my Department's Multi-Annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. The school received funding under the 2007 Summer Works Scheme to upgrade toilet facilities.

Departmental Correspondence.

Olivia Mitchell

Ceist:

361 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Education and Science her plans to implement the strategy document for the development of second-level education which she has received from a group (details supplied) in view of the fact that it provides a basic blueprint for the enhancement of second-level education; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13244/08]

I can confirm that I have received the ASTI strategy document referred to by the Deputy.

In relation to second level education it is my intention to prioritise the commitments in the Programme for Government 2007-2012 for delivery over the lifetime of this Government, having regard to available funding, and I will consider the proposals in the ASTI strategy document in that context.

Schools Refurbishment.

Ulick Burke

Ceist:

362 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of primary schools and second level schools in County Galway that applied for the summer works scheme in 2008 prior to her decision to abolish the scheme; the names of these schools and those that benefited from the scheme in 2006 and 2007; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13264/08]

As the Deputy may be aware, the Summer Works Scheme was introduced in 2004.

Since then, over 3,000 projects in primary and post-primary schools costing in excess of €300 million have been completed. With so many smaller projects having been completed over the past few years, I intend to focus on delivering as many large projects as possible in 2008. The emphasis will be on new schools, extensions and major refurbishments, rather than on smaller projects. In the circumstances, there will not be a new Summer Works Scheme as part of the Department's building programme in 2008. This being the case, details in relation to the number of applications received and cost have not been collated by my Department. I would also advise the Deputy that I announced at the recent teacher conferences that there will be a Summer Works Scheme in 2009.

Details of funding approved for Co. Galway schools in 2006 and 2007 are given in the attached tabular statement.

Co. Galway Schools funded under SWS

Year

No. of Primary Schools Funded

Cost

No. of Post-Primary Schools funded

Cost

€m

2006

39

2.408

16

1.66

2007

81

3.445

20

2.286

Total

120

5.853

36

3.946

2006 — Primary

School

County

No.

Address

Primary Schools

Galway

01013N

Scoil Croi Iosa, Presentation Road, Galway

Primary Schools

Galway

01328P

Kiltormer N S, Ballinasloe, Co Galway

Primary Schools

Galway

09833W

S N Leitirgeis, Leitirgeis N S, Rinn An Mhaoil

Primary Schools

Galway

10095T

S N Naomh Treasa, Killure, Ahascragh

Primary Schools

Galway

11675T

S N An Eanaigh B, Ballyglunin, Co Galway

Primary Schools

Galway

12138V

S N Ceathru Na Laithigh, Tuam, Co Galway

Primary Schools

Galway

12946G

S N Coilm Cille, Ros-A-Mhil, Baile Na Habhann

Primary Schools

Galway

13365O

Scoil Mhuire, Oranmore, Co Galway

Primary Schools

Galway

13856K

Bushy Park N S, Bushy Park, Galway

Primary Schools

Galway

13927H

Inishbofin N S, Inishbofin, Co Galway

Primary Schools

Galway

14377D

S N Cill Conaill, Cill Conaill, Beal Atha Na Sluagh

Primary Schools

Galway

14383V

S N Padraig Naofa, Bealach Liath, Beal Atha Garta

Primary Schools

Galway

14420B

S N Naomh Padraig, Tully, Renvyle

Primary Schools

Galway

15523Q

S N Naomh Iosef, Bothar An Chlochair, Cinn Mhara

Primary Schools

Galway

15523Q

S N Naomh Iosef, Bothar An Chlochair, Cinn Mhara

Primary Schools

Galway

15835M

St Brendans N S, Loughrea, Co Galway

Primary Schools

Galway

16857E

S N Naomh Uinseann, Cul Arann, Turloughmore

Primary Schools

Galway

17118R

S N Naomh Fhursa, Clarain, Odhar Po

Primary Schools

Galway

17207Q

S N Domhnach Padraig, Cathair Loisgreain, Co Na Gaillimhe

Primary Schools

Galway

17502S

S N Naomh Thomais, Tobar Pheadar, Gaillimh

Primary Schools

Galway

17502S

S N Naomh Thomais, Tobar Pheadar, Gaillimh

Primary Schools

Galway

17574U

S N Naomh Ciarain, Cill Chiarain, Conamara

Primary Schools

Galway

17613E

S N Caitriona Naofa, Eachdruim, Co Galway

Primary Schools

Galway

17689O

Four Masters Ns, Kinlough, Co Leitrim

Primary Schools

Galway

17772B

S N Brighdhe Naofa, Cinn Mara, Co Na Gaillimhe

Primary Schools

Galway

17782E

S N Bride Naofa, Sean Tallamh, Gaillimh

Primary Schools

Galway

18113M

S N Cill Solain, Killasolan, Caltra

Primary Schools

Galway

18125T

Scoil Naomh Mhuire, An Creagan, Beal Atha Na Sluaigh

Primary Schools

Galway

18268S

S N Cillinin, Cilinin, Craughwell

Primary Schools

Galway

18460K

Sn Baile An Mhuilinn, Baile An Mhuillinn, Tuam

Primary Schools

Galway

18490T

Sn M An Croi Gan Smal, Leenane, Co Galway

Primary Schools

Galway

19225F

Scoil Michil Naofa, Baile Ban, Gaillimh

Primary Schools

Galway

19226H

Scoil Na Trionoide Naofa, Muirbheach, Gaillimh

Primary Schools

Galway

19357W

Sn Tir Na Cille, Sn Tir Na Cille, An Mam

Primary Schools

Galway

19357W

Sn Tir Na Cille, Sn Tir Na Cille, An Mam

Primary Schools

Galway

19377F

Naomh Colman Mac Duaigh, Tierneevin, Gort

Primary Schools

Galway

19468I

Sn Caitriona Sinsear, Sn Caitriona Sinsear, Renmore

Primary Schools

Galway

19828M

Sn Cearn Mor, Uaran Mor, Co Na Gaillimhe

Primary Schools

Galway

19932H

Sn Mhic Dara, An Ceathru Rua, Co Na Gaillimhe

2006 — Post-Primary

School

County

No.

Address

Post Primary Schools

Galway

62870G

Presentation College, Athenry, Co Galway

Post Primary Schools

Galway

62930V

St. Cuan’s College, Castleblakney, Ballinasloe

Post Primary Schools

Galway

62981P

Coláiste Einde, Threadneedle Road, Galway

Post Primary Schools

Galway

63000E

Presentation Secondary School, Presentation Rd, Galway

Post Primary Schools

Galway

63010H

Meán Scoil Mhuire, Newtownsmith, Galway

Post Primary Schools

Galway

63050T

Seamount College, Kinvara, Co Galway

Post Primary Schools

Galway

71250A

Colaiste Cholmcille, Indreabhán, Co Na Gaillimhe

Post Primary Schools

Galway

71270G

Gairmscoil Mhuire, Athenry, Co Galway

Post Primary Schools

Galway

71280J

St Brigids Vocational School, Loughrea, Co Galway

Post Primary Schools

Galway

71290M

St. Jarlath’s Vocational School, Mountbellew, Ballinasloe

Post Primary Schools

Galway

71300M

Gairmscoil Einne Oileain Arann

Post Primary Schools

Galway

71380N

Gairmscoil Na Bpiarsach, Ros Muc, Co Na Gaillimhe

Post Primary Schools

Galway

71390Q

Archbishop McHale College

Post Primary Schools

Galway

71400Q

Galway Community College, Wellpark, Galway

Post Primary Schools

Galway

91413O

Portumna Community School, Portumna, Co. Galway

Post Primary Schools

Galway

91414Q

Dunmore Community School, Dunmore, Co Galway

2007 — Primary

School

County

No.

Address

Primary Schools

Galway

06044D

S N Cill Cuile, Loughrea

Primary Schools

Galway

10591I

S N An Ard Mhoir, Carna, Conamara

Primary Schools

Galway

11669B

S N Naomh Brid, Nead An Iolraidh, Renvyle

Primary Schools

Galway

12250P

Scoil Mhuire Primary Sch., Dublin Rd., Tuam

Primary Schools

Galway

12782C

Bunscoil Naomh Chuana, Kilcoona, Headford

Primary Schools

Galway

12782C

Bunscoil Naomh Chuana, Kilcoona, Headford

Primary Schools

Galway

12782C

Bunscoil Naomh Chuana, Kilcoona, Headford

Primary Schools

Galway

13416F

S N Leitir Meallain, Leitir Meallain

Primary Schools

Galway

13416F

S N Leitir Meallain, Leitir Meallain

Primary Schools

Galway

13416F

S N Leitir Meallain, Leitir Meallain

Primary Schools

Galway

13416F

S N Leitir Meallain, Leitir Meallain

Primary Schools

Galway

13621G

S N Muire, Letterfrack

Primary Schools

Galway

13665D

S N An Cillin, Ballyshrule, Ballinasloe

Primary Schools

Galway

13665D

S N An Cillin, Ballyshrule, Ballinasloe

Primary Schools

Galway

13665D

S N An Cillin, Ballyshrule, Ballinasloe

Primary Schools

Galway

13665D

S N An Cillin, Ballyshrule, Ballinasloe

Primary Schools

Galway

13914V

Scoil Naomh Iosef, Rathun, Bearna

Primary Schools

Galway

13927H

Inishbofin N S, Inishbofin

Primary Schools

Galway

14420B

S N Naomh Padraig, Tully, Renvyle

Primary Schools

Galway

14425L

S N Doire Ui Bhriain, Baile Locha Riabhach

Primary Schools

Galway

14590D

Ainbhthin Naofa, Rosscahill

Primary Schools

Galway

14590D

Ainbhthin Naofa, Rosscahill

Primary Schools

Galway

14590D

Ainbhthin Naofa, Rosscahill

Primary Schools

Galway

15796F

S N Cor An Droma, Claregalway

Primary Schools

Galway

15796F

S N Cor An Droma, Claregalway

Primary Schools

Galway

15835M

St Brendans N S, Loughrea

Primary Schools

Galway

15900U

The Glebe N.S., Aughrim, Ballinasloe

Primary Schools

Galway

15900U

The Glebe N.S., Aughrim, Ballinasloe

Primary Schools

Galway

15900U

The Glebe N.S., Aughrim, Ballinasloe

Primary Schools

Galway

16596C

St Feichins N S, Abbey, Loughrea

Primary Schools

Galway

16596C

St Feichins N S, Abbey, Loughrea

Primary Schools

Galway

16750J

Parochial N S, Cearnog Ti Na Cuairte, Gaillimh

Primary Schools

Galway

17007I

S N Ard Raithin, Ard Raithin, Gaillimh

Primary Schools

Galway

17051L

S N Na Fuar Coilleadh, Craughwell

Primary Schools

Galway

17051L

S N Na Fuar Coilleadh, Craughwell

Primary Schools

Galway

17071R

S N Baile A Mhoinin, Droichead, Beil An Atha Mhoir

Primary Schools

Galway

17095I

S N Na Cealltraighe, Kinclare, Cealltrach Ballinasloe

Primary Schools

Galway

17118R

S N Naomh Fhursa, Clarain, Odhar Po

Primary Schools

Galway

17197Q

S N An Leath Bhaile, Tuaim

Primary Schools

Galway

17207Q

S N Domhnach Padraig, Cathair Loisgreain

Primary Schools

Galway

17221K

Sn Colmcille, An Caislean An Gearr, Gaillimh

Primary Schools

Galway

17282H

Scoil Na Mbraithre, Tuam

Primary Schools

Galway

17502S

S N Naomh Thomais, Tobar Pheadar, Gaillimh

Primary Schools

Galway

17502S

S N Naomh Thomais, Tobar Pheadar, Gaillimh

Primary Schools

Galway

17574U

S N Naomh Ciarain, Cill Chiarain, Conamara

Primary Schools

Galway

17613E

S N Caitriona Naofa, Eachdruim

Primary Schools

Galway

17647V

Muire Na Dea Comhairle, Headford

Primary Schools

Galway

17648A

S N Breandain Naofa, Ath Cinn, Gaillimh

Primary Schools

Galway

17760R

S N Baile An Leasa, Dunmor, Tuam

Primary Schools

Galway

17760R

S N Baile An Leasa, Dunmor, Tuam

Primary Schools

Galway

17760R

S N Baile An Leasa, Dunmor, Tuam

Primary Schools

Galway

17863E

Scoil Iarlatha Naofa, Mionloch, Beal Atha Na Slua

Primary Schools

Galway

18021H

Sn An Croi Ro Naofa, Beal Clair

Primary Schools

Galway

18021H

Sn An Croi Ro Naofa, Beal Clair

Primary Schools

Galway

18021H

Sn An Croi Ro Naofa, Beal Clair

Primary Schools

Galway

18021H

Sn An Croi Ro Naofa, Beal Clair

Primary Schools

Galway

18021H

Sn An Croi Ro Naofa, Beal Clair

Primary Schools

Galway

18163E

Sn N Breandain, Eanach Dhuin, Cor An Dulla

Primary Schools

Galway

18163E

Sn N Breandain, Eanach Dhuin, Cor An Dulla

Primary Schools

Galway

18163E

Sn N Breandain, Eanach Dhuin, Cor An Dulla

Primary Schools

Galway

18252D

Scoil Mhuire, Doire Glinne, Cross Bhothar Mhama

Primary Schools

Galway

18252D

Scoil Mhuire, Doire Glinne, Cross Bhothar Mhama

Primary Schools

Galway

18289D

Scoil Naomh Iosef, Castlehackett, Belclare Tuam

Primary Schools

Galway

18441G

Scoil Naomh Chuan, Cill Iomair, Beal Atha Na Sluagh

Primary Schools

Galway

18460K

Sn Baile An Mhuilinn, Baile An Mhuillinn, Tuam

Primary Schools

Galway

18490T

Sn M An Croi Gan Smal, Leenane

Primary Schools

Galway

18514H

S N Choilm Chille, Baile Na Habhann

Primary Schools

Galway

18514H

S N Choilm Chille, Baile Na Habhann

Primary Schools

Galway

18608Q

S N Muire Gan Smal, Cladach Dubh

Primary Schools

Galway

18608Q

S N Muire Gan Smal, Cladach Dubh

Primary Schools

Galway

18686N

S N Gort Na Leime, Dunmore, Tuam

Primary Schools

Galway

19201O

Holy Family School, Renmore, Galway

Primary Schools

Galway

19225F

Scoil Michil Naofa, Baile Ban, Gaillimh

Primary Schools

Galway

19226H

Scoil na Trionoide Naofa, Muirbheach

Primary Schools

Galway

19357W

Sn Tir Na Cille, Sn Tir Na Cille, An Mam

Primary Schools

Galway

19377F

Naomh Colman Mac Duaigh, Tierneevin, Gort

Primary Schools

Galway

19388K

Clonberne Central Sch, Clonberne, Ballinasloe

Primary Schools

Galway

19449E

St Oliver Plunketts N S, Newcastle, Athenry

Primary Schools

Galway

19744G

Nioclas Naofa, Dunmore

Primary Schools

Galway

19818J

Creggs Central N S, Creegs, Via Roscommon

Primary Schools

Galway

19818J

Creggs Central N S, Creegs, Via Roscommon

Primary Schools

Galway

19965W

Scoil Mhuire, Clarinbridge

2007- Post-Primary

School

County

No.

Address

Post Primary Schools

Galway

62900M

Coláiste Mhuire, Ballygar

Post Primary Schools

Galway

62930V

St. Cuan’s College, Castleblakney, Ballinasloe

Post Primary Schools

Galway

62980N

St. Mary’s College, St. Mary’s Road, Galway

Post Primary Schools

Galway

62981P

Coláiste Einde, Threadneedle Road, Galway

Post Primary Schools

Galway

62990Q

Dominican College, Taylors Hill, Galway

Post Primary Schools

Galway

63000E

Presentation Secondary School, Presentation Rd, Galway

Post Primary Schools

Galway

63010H

Meanscoil Mhuire, Newtownsmith, Galway

Post Primary Schools

Galway

63040Q

Presentation College, Headford

Post Primary Schools

Galway

63101K

St Pauls, Oughterard

Post Primary Schools

Galway

63130R

Colaiste Chroi Mhuire, An Spideal

Post Primary Schools

Galway

63160D

St. Brigid’s School, Convent of Mercy, Tuam

Post Primary Schools

Galway

63171I

Mercy College, Woodford

Post Primary Schools

Galway

71250A

Colaiste Cholmcille, Indreabhán

Post Primary Schools

Galway

71280J

St Brigids Vocational School, Loughrea

Post Primary Schools

Galway

71340B

Galway Technical Institute, Father Griffin Road, Galway

Post Primary Schools

Galway

71390Q

Archbishop Mchale College, Dublin Road, Tuam

Post Primary Schools

Galway

71400Q

Galway Community College, Wellpark, Galway

Post Primary Schools

Galway

91414Q

Dunmore Community School, Dunmore

Post Primary Schools

Galway

91498C

Gort Community School, Gort

Post Primary Schools

Galway

71400Q

Galway Community College, Wellpark, Galway

Physical Education Facilities.

Ulick Burke

Ceist:

363 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will provide a physical education hall at a school (details supplied) in County Galway; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13265/08]

An application for capital funding towards the provision of additional accommodation, including a physical education hall, has been received from the school authority referred to by the Deputy. The long term projected staffing assessment and the further progression of the proposed building project will be considered on an ongoing basis in the context of my Department's multi annual School Building and Modernisation programme.

Schools Building Projects.

Ulick Burke

Ceist:

364 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Education and Science the position with regard to the provision of a new national school at Bullaun, Loughrea, County Galway in view of the overcrowding there and the condition of the present school; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13266/08]

An application for capital funding towards the provision of a new school building has been received from the school authority referred to by the Deputy. The long term projected staffing assessment and the further progression of the proposed building project will be considered on an ongoing basis in the context of my Department's multi annual School Building and Modernisation programme.

In the interim, officials in my Department approved the a temporary classroom for September 2008.

Site Acquisitions.

Ulick Burke

Ceist:

365 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Education and Science the progress made in securing a site for the new promised second level school as a replacement for a school (details supplied) in County Galway; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13267/08]

In light of increases in population in the South Galway area and the decision of the Sisters of Mercy to close Seamount College, Kinvara, on a phased basis, I determined that a new post primary school would be required in the South Galway area. Accordingly, I asked the Commission on School Accommodation to conduct a survey of school accommodation in the area to determine the location of the proposed post primary school and to identify other locations where additional school places may be required over the next five to ten years.

The Commission published its report in January 2008 which recommended that a co-educational post primary school for circa 800 students should be provided in the northern environs of Kinvara. When a new school has been approved a number of procedures/processes must be undertaken and these can take some time to complete. The main stages are the identification and acquisition of a suitable site, design of the building, application/granting of planning permission, invitation to seek tenders and construction.

The Property Management Section of the Office of Public Works (OPW), which acts on behalf of my Department in relation to site acquisitions generally, is being requested to source a suitable site for the school in question. The further progression of the proposed project for the school will be considered in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme.

Literacy Levels.

John O'Mahony

Ceist:

366 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of literacy clients who attended courses run by Mayo Vocational Educational Committee for the past five years; the amount allocated for each of those years; if any other monitoring system is in place to continue to assess progress with these clients; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13383/08]

Adult literacy classes are funded by my Department through annual grants to Vocational Education Committees (VECs), which deliver the services locally.

The number of adult learners who attended adult literacy classes provided by County Mayo Vocational Educational Committee in the past five years is as follows:

Year

No.

2007

1,325

2006

1,320

2005

750

2004

660

2003

672

The funding provided by my Department for adult literacy classes in Co Mayo is as follows:

Year

2007

644,288

2006

469,440

2005

481,076

2004

406,176

2003

343,968

An assessment framework called "Mapping the Learning Journey" was introduced to the VEC sector in 2006. It is a performance based approach to assessment, using a learner's own work and not set against external criteria. The outcomes of the assessment process are based on the opinions of the tutor and learner.

John O'Mahony

Ceist:

367 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Education and Science the initiatives and schemes within her Department to tackle adult literacy; the estimated number of persons in each county with literacy problems; the grants available to community groups and to community development projects; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13384/08]

Adult Literacy services are funded by my Department through annual grants to the Vocational Education Committees (VECs), which deliver the services locally. The disbursement of funds is a matter for each VEC, which, subject to its budget, decides the nature and extent of the Adult Literacy services to be provided in its area and the manner in which funds for these services should be spent. The organisation and location of courses are also matters for decision by the VECs. Community groups and community development projects may apply to their local VEC for funding to provide adult literacy tuition. This is mainly provided in the form of tutor hours.

Funding from my Department for adult literacy has increased incrementally from just €1 million in 1997 to €30 million in 2007. As a result of this increased expenditure, the number of literacy places has increased from 5,000 in 1997 to almost 44,000 in 2007.

There are a number of different initiatives and schemes designed to tackle adult literacy. The Intensive Tuition in Adult Basic Education Programme was launched in 2006. In addition, a family literacy pilot scheme was developed to address poor literacy from an intergenerational family perspective. Last year, seven projects were provided with grants of €20,000 each to develop family literacy. In 2008, I am providing funding of €200,000 for this worthwhile scheme. A workplace literacy programme, called Return to Learning Scheme, has been introduced in all Local Authority areas for outdoor workers. Under the FAS/VEC Return to Education Scheme, participants on the Community Employment Scheme, operated by FÁS, can be released from their work experience programmes to avail themselves of intensive literacy tuition provided by the VECs.

In addition to this wide range of initiatives, a far greater emphasis has been put on improving children's literacy skills in recent years. We are prioritising early intervention so that children's literacy problems do not become entrenched and carry with them into adulthood. To ensure a multi-pronged approach is adopted my Department has, in partnership with National Adult Literacy Association, used the medium of television to reach an even wider audience. The "Read, Write Now" series, from 2000 to 2005, and the more recent "Really Useful Guide to Words and Numbers" in 2006/2007 provided learners with an opportunity to improve their literacy skills from the comfort and privacy of their own homes. 2008 will see the airing of "Written Off?", a series following a group of adult literacy learners through their learning journey.

There are other special funding projects including literacy for deaf people, for people with dyslexia and for native Irish speakers in Gaeltacht areas.

The Department does not have statistics for the number of adults in each county with literacy difficulties.

Áiseanna Múinte Gaeilge.

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

368 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Brian Hayes den Aire Oideachais agus Eolaíochta cad atá á dhéanamh aici ar son na múinteoirí atá den tuairim nach bhfuil a ndóthain Gaeilge acu chun í a mhúineadh i gceart de réir thorthaí Thuarascáil Choimisiún na hEorpa agus na Roinne Oideachais [13395/08]

Nuair a chuireann múinteoirí isteach ar fhostaíocht mar mhúinteoirí i mbunscoileanna in Éirinn, agus a gcáilíochtaí faighte acu taobh amuigh den Stát, éilítear orthu bheith inniúil i múineadh na Gaeilge. Faoi Threoir 2005/36/EC den AE, áit a bhfuil múinteoirí ina múinteoirí aitheanta i dtíortha eile, ach nach bhfuil cáilíocht chun múineadh na Gaeilge acu, is ceadaithe dóibh a roghnú dul faoi thriail inniúlachta nó faoi thréimhse oiriúnaithe chun an t-easnamh atá ar a gcuid Gaeilge curaclaí a chur i gceart. Tá gnásanna don triail inniúlachta, An Scrúdú Cáilíochta Gaeilge, ar bun le roinnt blianta. Tá gnásanna don tréimhse oiriúnaithe á bhforbairt faoi láthair ag an gComhairle Múinteoireachta.

Is é sainmhíniú an AE ar an dtréimhse oiriúnaithe ná "the pursuit of a regulated profession in the host member State under the responsibility of a qualified member of that profession, such as a period of supervised practice, possibly being accompanied by further training. This period of supervised practice shall be the subject of an assessment. " I gcás múinteoirí a roghnaíonn thriail inniúlachta, bheifí ag súil go mbeadh monatóireacht á dhéanamh ar mhúineadh na Gaeilge acu ag an bPríomhoide, ar a bhfuil freagracht fhoriomlán as caighdeán agus éifeachtúlacht an mhúinte sa scoil agus as leibhéil gnóthachtála agus as caighdeáin acadúla na mac léinn.

Áit nach bhfuil múinteoirí inniúil chun an Ghaeilge a mhúineadh, tá oibleagáid ar scoileanna a shocrú go múinfidh múinteoir eile an Ghaeilge dá rang. Is é seo an cleachtas a bhí agus atá i gcónaí ag scoileanna ina dtarlaíonn a leithéid.

Is eol gan dabht don Teachta go bhfuil tiomantas gan fasach léirithe ag an Rialtas seo d'oiliúint múinteoirí inár dteanga náisiúnta tríd an gcóras oideachais agus, ina theannta sin, trí bhearta atá dírithe ar mheon níos dearfaí a chruthú i leith na Gaeilge go ginearálta.

Maidir le múinteoirí, tá réimse leathan tionscnamh ar bun ag mo Roinnse, tríd an Rannóg Oiliúna Múinteoirí, chun tuilleadh feabhais a chur ar inniúlacht múinteoirí sa Ghaeilge.

Ag leibhéal na bunscoile tionscnamh sonraithe is ea an clár "Tús Maith" chun tacú le múineadh na Gaeilge. Tá tríocha is a haon cuiditheoirí ar an bhfoireann faoi láthair. Is iad na haidhmeanna atá ag an gclár ná feabhas a chur ar mhúineadh na Gaeilge agus feabhas a chur ar inniúlacht agus muinín múinteoirí agus iad dá muineadh. Tugann cuiditheoirí Thús Mhaith réimse tacaíochtaí do mhúinteoirí ar a n-áirítear tacaíocht inranga, tacaíocht na scoile uile agus ceardlanna agus gníomhaíochtaí teangabhunaithe iarscoile. Tá an fhoireann ag obair faoi láthair le 527 Spriocscoileanna ag tabhairt diantacaíochta marthanaí, as a dtagann ardleibhéil éifeachta.

Ag leibhéal na hiarbhunscoile, bunaíodh seirbhís tacaíochta atá sainiúil don ábhar, don Ghaeilge i 2007. Cuid den tSeirbhís Tacaíochta Dara Leibhéil an tseirbhís seo, a chuireann ar fáil tacaíocht churaclach atá sainiúil don chlár agus don ábhar, agus tacaíocht do mhúineadh agus d'fhoghlaim go ginearálta in iarbhunscoileanna.

Ceapadh an tseirbhís tacaíochta don Ghaeilge chun tacaíocht forbartha gairmiúla a chur ar fáil do mhúinteoirí dara leibhéil Ghaeilge go ginearálta agus tacaíocht do mhúineadh agus d'fhoghlaim gach aon ghné den churaclam. Is é ceann de phríomhaidhmeanna na seirbhíse ná tacú le húsáid na Gaeilge mar theanga cumarsáide i scoileanna agus i rangsheomraí.

Tá an clár forbartha gairmiúla ceapaithe chun: tábhacht scileanna béil a chur chun cinn mar chuid dhílis de shiollabais an Teastais Shóisearaigh agus na hArdteistiméireachta; cur ar chumas múinteoirí réimse straitéisí múinte agus foghlama a fhorbairt a chuirfidh chun cinn oilteacht sa theanga labhartha, mar a mholtar i gCiorclán 0042/2007; agus tógáil ar threise an Churaclaim Athbhreithnithe do Bhunscoileanna.

Mar bhreis ar an méid thuas ag an mbunleibhéal agus an iarbhunleibhéal araon tá bearta ar bun ag gach uile ceann dár seirbhísí tacaíochta chun oiliúint a chur ar fáil trí Ghaeilge.

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

369 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Brian Hayes den Aire Oideachais agus Eolaíochta an mbeadh sí sásta airgead traenála a chur ar fáil do mhúinteoirí sinsearacha le cúrsaí athoiliúna Gaeilge a dhéanamh ar bhonn rialta [13396/08]

Beidh a fhios ag an Teachta gur léirigh an Rialtas seo tiomantas gan fasach d'oiliúint mhúinteoirí inár dteanga dúchais tríd an gcóras oideachais agus freisin trí bhearta atá dírithe ar dhearcadh níos dearfaí a ghineadh i leith na Gaeilge go ginearálta.

Maidir le múinteoirí, tá réimse leathan de thionscnaimh i bhfeidhm ag mo Roinn, trí Rannóg Oideachais Múinteoirí, chun cumas na múinteoirí sa Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn.

Ag leibhéal an bhunoideachais, tionscnamh dírithe is ea an clár "Tús Maith" chun tacú le múineadh na Gaeilge. Faoi láthair tá tríocha a haon cuiditheoir ar an bhfoireann. Is iad aidhmeanna an chláir ná múineadh na Gaeilge a fheabhsú chun cumas agus muinín na múinteoirí sa teanga Gaeilge a fheabhsú. Tugann cuiditheoirí "Tús Maith" réimse tacaíochta do mhúinteoirí lena n-áirítear tacaíocht sa rang, tacaíocht scoile iomlán agus ceardlanna iarscoile agus gníomhaíochtaí teanga-bhunaithe. Tá an fhoireann ag obair faoi láthair le 527 Spriocscoil, agus dian-tacaíocht leanúnach á thabhairt acu, le leibhéil arda tionchair dá bharr.

Ag leibhéal na hiarbhunscoile, bunaíodh seirbhís tacaíochta sainiúil don Ghaeilge ar bun sa bhliain 2007. Cuid den tSeirbhís Tacaíochta Dara Leibhéal is ea é, a chuireann tacaíocht curaclaim ar fáil go sainiúil don chlár agus don ábhar, chomh maith le tacaíocht do mhúineadh agus foghlaim go ginearálta i scoileanna sa dara leibhéal.

Dearadh an tseirbhís tacaíochta seo don Ghaeilge chun tacaíocht forbartha ghairmiúil a sholáthar do mhúinteoirí dara leibhéal go ginearálta chomh maith le tacaíocht do mhúineadh agus foghlaim ghnéithe uilig an churaclaim. Ceann de phríomhaidhmeanna na seirbhíse is ea tacú leis an nGaeilge mar theanga cumarsáide i scoileanna agus i seomraí ranga.

Dearadh an clár forbartha gairmiúil chun: tábhacht na scileanna béil a chothú mar chuid dílis de shiollabais an Teastais Shóisearaigh agus na hArdteistiméireachta; cuidiú le múinteoirí réimse straitéisí múineadh agus foghlama a fhorbairt a chothóidh cumas béil teanga, mar a mholtar in Imlitir 0042/2007; agus tógáil ar láidreachtaí Churaclam Leasaithe na Bunscoile.

Chomh maith leis na nithe thuasluaite ag leibhéal bunscoile agus iarbhunscoile araon, tá socruithe ag gach ceann d'ár seirbhísí tacaíochta chun oiliúint a chur ar fáil as Gaeilge.

Tionscadail Tógála Scoileanna.

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

370 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Brian Hayes den Aire Oideachais agus Eolaíochta cad atá á dhéanamh aici chun comhionannas agus rannpháirteachas de réir ráiteas misin na Roinne a chinntiú do mhic léinn na nGaelscoileanna atá faoi mhíbhuntáistí ar láithreacha scoile trochailte gan seirbhísí bunúsacha cearta ar fud na tíre; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [13397/08]

Is i bhfianaise na gcritéar foilsithe ó thaobh ord tosaíochta na dtionscadal tógála mórscála a dhéantar measúnú ar na scoileanna go léir a dhéanann iarratas ar mhórmhaoiniú caipitil. Faoin bpróiseas seo, sanntar rátáil bhanda do na tionscadail go léir, agus iarratais ó ghaelscoileanna san áireamh, agus déantar breithniú ar dhul chun cinn na dtionscadal aonair i gcomhthéacs an Chláir Tógála agus Nuachóirithe Scoileanna de chuid mo Roinne.

Cinntíonn nuálaíochtaí ó thaobh foirgnimh scoile a sholáthar mar Athdhearaí Cineálacha agus úsáid na samhla "Dear agus Tóg" go soláthraítear foirgnimh scoile nua chomh sciobtha agus is féidir.

Tá an Rialtas seo ag comhlíonadh a ghealltanais ó thaobh saoráidí nua-aimseartha a chur ar fáil sna scoileanna. Chuige sin, tá an maoiniú méadaithe ag an Rialtas diaidh ar ndiaidh le blianta beaga anuas sa dóigh gur infheistíodh suim chomhiomlán de bhreis is €2.6 billiún sa bhonneagar scoileanna idir 2000 agus 2006 agus tá gealltanas ann go n-infheisteofar €4.5 billiún eile le linn na tréimhse den Phlean Forbartha Náisiúnta reatha 2007-2013. Seo an clár infheistíochta is mó ó bunaíodh an Stát.

Áiseanna Múinte Gaeilge.

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

371 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Brian Hayes den Aire Oideachais agus Eolaíochta cén maoiniú atá á chur ar fáil le háiseanna múinte Gaeilge agus le cleachtais mhúinteoireachta Gaeilge níos fearr a fhorbairt; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [13398/08]

Beidh a fhios ag an Teachta gur léirigh an Rialtas seo tiomantas gan fasach d'oiliúint mhúinteoirí inár dteanga dúchais tríd an gcóras oideachais agus freisin trí bhearta atá dírithe ar dhearcadh níos dearfaí a ghineadh i leith na Gaeilge go ginearálta. Maidir le modhanna múinteoireachta, tá réimse leathan de thionscnaimh i bhfeidhm ag mo Roinn, tríd an Rannóg Oiliúna Múinteoirí, chun cumas na múinteoirí sa Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn.

Ag leibhéal an bhunoideachais, tionscnamh dírithe is ea an clár "Tús Maith" chun tacú le múineadh na Gaeilge. Faoi láthair tá tríocha a haon cuiditheoir ar fhoireann na n-oiliúnóirí. Is iad aidhmeanna an chláir "Tús Maith" ná múineadh na Gaeilge a fheabhsú agus cumas agus muinín na múinteoirí i labhairt na Gaeilge a fheabhsú. Cuireann cuiditheoirí "Tús Maith" réimse tacaíochta ar fáil do mhúinteoirí lena n-áirítear tacaíocht sa rang, tacaíocht scoile iomlán agus ceardlanna iarscoile. Tá an fhoireann ag obair faoi láthair le 527 Spriocscoil, agus dian-tacaíocht leanúnach á thabhairt acu. Faoi láthair tugtar maoiniú €2.3m in aghaidh na bliana don tionscnamh "Tús Maith".

Ag leibhéal na hiarbhunscoile, bunaíodh seirbhís tacaíochta atá sainiúil don Ghaeilge ar bun sa bhliain 2007. Tá an tseirbhís ina cuid den tSeirbhís Tacaíochta Dara Leibhéal, a chuireann tacaíocht curaclaim ar fáil go sainiúil do chláracha agus d'ábhair, chomh maith le tacaíocht chun modhanna nua múinteoireachta a chur i bhfeidhm i scoileanna dara leibhéal. Tugtar maoiniú €0.65m in aghaidh na bliana don tseirbhís seo.

Dearadh an tseirbhís tacaíochta don Ghaeilge chun tacaíocht forbartha ghairmiúil a sholáthar do mhúinteoirí dara leibhéal Gaeilge go ginearálta. Ceann de phríomhaidhmeanna na seirbhíse is ea tacú le húsáid na Gaeilge mar theanga cumarsáide i scoileanna agus i seomraí ranga.

Dearadh an clár forbartha gairmiúil chun:

tábhacht na scileanna béil a chothú mar chuid dílis de shiollabais an Teastais Shóisearaigh agus na hArdteistiméireacha

cuidiú le múinteoirí réimse straitéisí múinteoireachta agus foghlama a fhorbairt a chothóidh cumas béil teanga, mar a mholtar in Imlitir 0042/2007

tógáil ar láidreachtaí Churaclam Leasaithe na Bunscoile.

Ina theannta sin, tugann mo Roinn maoiniú €150,000 in aghaidh na bliana chun Campaí Samhraidh a sholáthar i scoileanna faoi mhíbhuntáiste do dhaltaí i ranganna 4 go 6. Sa bhliain 2007 bhí 10 scoil páirteach sa scéim agus meastar go mbeidh fiche scoil ann sa bhliain 2008.

Chomh maith leis na nithe thuasluaite ag leibhéal bunscoile agus iarbhunscoile araon tá socruithe ag gach ceann d'ár seirbhísí tacaíochta chun oiliúint a chur ar fáil as Gaeilge.

Maidir le háiseanna teagaisc, paca acmhainní is ea Séideán Sí as a gcruthaítear cúrsa Gaeilge a forbraíodh do bhunscoileanna Gaeltachta agus bunscoileanna lán-Ghaelacha. Tá réimse d'ábhair teagaisc agus treoirlínte ann do mhúinteoirí agus daltaí suas go Rang a Trí. Tá ábhair reamhléitheoireachta ann, póstaeir, cártaí leide, cluichí focail, cluichí boird, rainn, amhráin, cártaí pictiúir, cártaí aibítre, leabhair, dlúthdhiosca agus ábhair TFC. Faoi láthair tá pacáiste d'ábhair do Rang a Ceathair á réiteach ag scríbhneoirí. D'íoc mo Roinn €0.53m le Foras na Gaeilge maidir le Díolacháin Séideán Sí i 2007.

Foghlaim na Gaeilge.

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

372 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Brian Hayes den Aire Oideachais agus Eolaíochta an glacann sí leis go bhfuil mí-úsáid á baint ag líon mór daltaí as an díolúine ó staidéar na Gaeilge ar scoil agus iad ag tabhairt faoi theangacha eile a fhoghlaim; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [13399/08]

Deontar díolúintí ó fhoghlaim na Gaeilge de réir fhorálacha Chiorcláin M10/94.

Forálann na critéir go bhfuil cead ag údaráis scoile diolúintí a dheonadh i gcomhair:

(a) mac léinn a fuair a gcuid bhunoideachais suas go dtí 11 bliana d'aois i dTuaisceart Éireann nó lasmuigh d'Éirinn

(b) mac léinn a bhí rollaithe roimhe seo mar mhic léinn aitheanta i mbunscoil nó in iarbhunscoil agus atá á rollú athuair tar éis tréimhse a chaitheamh thar lear, ar choinníoll go bhfuil 3 bliana ar a laghad caite ón rollú deireanach sa Stát, agus go bhfuil 11 bliana ar a laghad slán ag an mac léinn ar athrollú dó/di agus

(c) catagóirí áirithe mac léinn a bhfuil riachtanais oideachasúla speisialta acu de réir mar atá leagtha amach i gCiorclán M10/94 nó

(d) mac léinn as tíortha thar lear, nach bhfuil aon tuiscint ar an mBéarla acu nuair a rollaítear iad.

Tarmligeann an scéim an chinnteoireacht d'údaráis scoile ar a bhfuil sé de dhualgas oibriú go docht laistigh de na critéir soiléire.

Ní foláir díolúintí i gcatagóir an mhí-chumais foghlama a bheith measúnaithe ag siceolaí cáilithe. Is iad siceolaithe nó speisialtóirí leighis a dhéanann measúnuithe i gcás inarb infheidhme é. Is iad na Príomhoidí a shocraíonn, i bhfianaise tuairiscí a chuireann gairmí inniúla ar fáil, cé acu an bhfuil mic léinn incháilithe chun díoluine nó nach bhfuil. Níl sé ar intinn ag mo Roinnse athrú ar bith a dhéanamh ar na gnásanna seo.

Is gnó é don mhac léinn féin, agus dá t(h)uisimitheoirí, i gcomhairle le Príomhoide na scoile, roghnú na n-ábhar iarbhunscoile. Is mar an gcéanna é ag mic léinn a bhfuil díolúine ó staidéar na Gaeilge acu. Roghnaítear na h-ábhair i gcomhthéacs riachtanas foriomlána oideachasúla an mhic léinn agus de réir polasaithe agus gnásanna atá i réim sa scoil.

Níl mo Roinnse feasach ar aon mhí-úsáid maidir le deonadh díolúintí ón nGaeilge agus má thagann aon mhí-úsáid dá leithéid ar aire mo Roinnse, coinneofar leis an ngnó go fuinneamhach le húdaráis na scoile lena mbaineann.

Teagaisc Lán-Ghaeilge.

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

373 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Brian Hayes den Aire Oideachais agus Eolaíochta cén uair a bheidh na torthaí iomlána ón suirbhé a rinneadh (sonraí tugtha) maidir le beartas teagaisc lán-Ghaeilge na scoile á bhfoilsiú [13400/08]

Bhuail mé le déanaí le hIontaobhaithe na scoile agus phléigh mé leo beartas teanga na scoile i gcomhthéacs na gceisteanna a d'aibhsigh an suirbhé. Tá na hIontaobhaithe gafa anois le comhráite le Bord Bainistíochta na scoile faoi na ceisteanna. Táim ag súil go mbeidh ar mo chumas toradh an tsuirbhé a fhoilsiú go gairid.

School Curriculum.

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

374 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason she insists on pressing ahead with her campaign to outlaw by means of statutory instrument the teaching method of early total immersion in gaelscoileanna, irrespective of the fact that the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, the INTO, and all Irish language organisations are unanimous in their call for comprehensive native research into ETI before any legal departure is made touching upon it and that research (details supplied) shows that pupils from ETI backgrounds score well above average in her Department’s standardised tests for English; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13401/08]

I am aware of the research to which the Deputy refers, which indicates that students in all-Irish schools perform above average in standardised tests in English. National studies in this area also show that students in such schools have a higher socioeconomic profile, and have greater levels of parental interest in education than is the case in mainstream schools. In Irish medium schools, all subjects except English may be taught through Irish providing for an immersion level of 88-90%. The fundamental public policy issue in this case concerns upholding the rights of all children to access the full curriculum from the earliest possible stage.

The revised primary curriculum was launched in 1999 after extensive consultation with the partners in education. Page 27 in the Introduction to the Curriculum states "It is a particular feature of Irish primary education that children, from the beginning of schooling, have experience of language learning in two languages." It also sets out a suggested minimum weekly time framework for tuition. This provides that where a first language is being taught, there should be four hours instruction per week, and 3 hours per week where there is a shorter day for the infant classes. Where a second language is being taught, the suggested minimum timeframe is 3.5 hours per week, and 2.5 hours per week for infant classes with a shorter day.

I have determined as a public policy issue that the position as set out in the curriculum, and in previous Parliamentary Questions, should remain unchanged i.e that the minimum recommended timeframe set out for a second language in the curriculum should be adhered to. Accordingly, Circular 0044/2007 requires that Irish medium schools should provide for a minimum provision in English of 3.5 hours per week, or 2.5 hours per week where there is a shorter day for infant classes, no later than the start of the second term in Junior infants.

The question of deferring a decision in relation to this matter pending a research project to ascertain the impact on student performance of various models of immersion education was considered. Such research is, in any event, likely to be inconclusive, given the many variables (socioeconomic status, school practice, variations in first language at home of students etc) that are at play here. In any event, research will, by its nature, focus on but one subset (learning impact) of what is a significantly wider public policy matter and for that reason I did not