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Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Tuesday, 24 Jun 2008

Vol. 657 No. 3

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 6, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 7 to 61, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 62 to 69, inclusive, answered orally.

National Museum.

John O'Mahony

Ceist:

70 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the take-up there has been for the pilot scheme for mobility of museum collections; the amount of the €100,000 that has been committed to specific projects; the way the scheme will be evaluated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24516/08]

I am anxious to encourage greater exposure to the collections held by the National Cultural Institutions and to encourage cooperation between them and local and regional Museums particularly outside of Dublin. The purpose of the mobility of collections scheme established by my Department is to support greater regional/local access to material held in the National Cultural Institutions. In situations where the National Cultural Institutions have entered into agreement with the local and regional museums for the loan and display of artefacts, the scheme will address the cost of exhibition, transport and insurance in transit of these artefacts in connection with their display in appropriate museums and galleries.

The institutions eligible to benefit from the Fund are Museums designated by the National Museum of Ireland under the National Monuments Act, 1994 and museums and galleries accredited under the Heritage Council Gallery accreditation scheme. My Department has informed these institutions and the Directors of the National Cultural Institutions of this scheme. The exhibition of artefacts from the National collections in locations outside of Dublin will enhance public access to parts of the National collections. It is not possible for the National Cultural Institutions to display all of their collections at the one time and the purpose of this scheme is to assist in making part of the National collections more widely accessible to the public throughout the country. To date in 2008 over €4,200 has been drawn down by regional museums under the scheme.

Noel Coonan

Ceist:

71 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the funding that has been made available to the National Museum to facilitate the removal of artefacts to allow the refurbishment and repairs to take place at the Natural History Museum; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24459/08]

John O'Mahony

Ceist:

94 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the plans there are to increase facilities for storage at the Natural History Museum as part of the planned repairs and refurbishment; and if he will make a statement on the matter [24517/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 71 and 94 together.

The refurbishment of the Natural History Museum and the provision of additional storage for the Museum generally will be met from funds allocated under the Culture Sub Programme of the National Development Plan (NDP) 2007-2013. Funding of €15 million has been earmarked for the Natural History Museum to address universal access to the Museum and its refurbishment. €30 million has also been earmarked for off site storage for the National Cultural Institutions, including the Museum.

Capital funding of €26.3 million has been provided for the ongoing capital requirements of the National Museum in the NDP, of which €4.6 million was allocated this year. In addition, in 2008 this Department provided the National Museum with a current funding allocation in excess of €14 million. This current and capital grant-in-aid allocation provides for the day-to-day running costs of the Museum and for capital works and acquisitions. Arrangements have now been agreed for an exhibition of elements of the Natural History Museum Collection at Collins Barracks beginning early in 2009.

Sports Capital Programme.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

72 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the extent of grant aid awarded by him in 2007 to the various sporting or community groups here from the proceeds of the national lottery or other sources; the full extent to which such funding is available to him for similar purposes in 2008; when he expects to allocate such funds in 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24588/08]

Under the sports capital programme, which is administered by the Department and part funded by the National Lottery, funding is allocated to sporting and community organisations at local, regional and national level throughout the country. The 2007 round of the programme allocated €85 million to 935 separate projects. Applications for funding under the 2008 programme were invited by the deadline of 29th February for paper-based applications and 7th March for on-line applications. All applications received before the relevant deadlines are currently being evaluated and I intend to announce the grant allocations for the programme as soon as possible after the assessment process has been completed.

Under the Local Authority Swimming Pool Programme, which is also administered by the Department, grant aid is provided to local authorities towards the capital costs of a new or replacement public swimming pool or the refurbishment of an existing pool provided by local authorities themselves or by other bodies where the application for capital funding is supported by the local authority. There is provision of €184m in the National Development Plan 2007-2013 in respect of the Local Authority Swimming Pool Programme. In 2007 a sum of €27.78m was paid out in grant aid and a sum of €20m has been allocated to be spent in 2008. The launch of the new programme will be a matter for discussion as part of the estimates process between the Department and the Department of Finance.

The Department also supports the provision of new arts facilities around the country through the Arts and Culture Capital Enhancement Support Scheme (ACCESS). A total of almost €86m has been granted to 120 projects across the country under the scheme, of which €32.5 million was allocated in 2007. A further €10.29m was allocated in 2008 to ACCESS II Reserve List projects. All of the available funds under the current ACCESS round have now been fully allocated. The Department is currently examining the option of a further round of the ACCESS programme.

National Library.

James Reilly

Ceist:

73 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he has had contact with the Office of Public Works regarding the refurbishment work planned at the National Library; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24520/08]

The on-going refurbishment and maintenance works carried out at the National Library of Ireland by the Office of Public Works are a matter of regular meetings between that institution and the OPW. The provision of a purpose built extension and storage facility for the National Library is among the priority cultural infrastructure projects included in the National Development Plan 2007-2013. Planning permission has been obtained for the building and my Department is working closely with the National Library and the Office of Public Works to ensure that this vitally important project reaches construction stage as soon as possible. In that context the process is underway to recruit the technical team and preparations for the construction contract are advancing. The project represents a very important element of the Library's Building Development Programme, which commenced in 1999. The proposed facility will address the Library's storage needs and will also provide a vital link between all of the Library's premises on Kildare Street thus improving efficiency and enhancing service delivery.

Proposed Legislation.

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

74 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism when it is intended to introduce the necessary legislation to re-establish the Heritage Fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24486/08]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question number 95 on the 13th May 2008. Work on the Scheme of a Bill to amend the Heritage Fund Act, 2001 is well advanced in my Department. In accordance with normal procedure in relation to legislation, I intend to seek Cabinet approval for the formal drafting of the Bill in early course.

Sport and Recreational Development.

Dinny McGinley

Ceist:

75 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the plans he has to adjust his sports policy and funding decisions to reflect the outcome of the ESRI study, Sporting Lives: An Analysis of a Lifetime of Irish Sport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24501/08]

The Irish Sports Council (ISC), which is funded by my Department, has statutory responsibility for encouraging the promotion, development and co-ordination of competitive sport and for increasing participation in recreational sport. All sports organisations funded by the ISC, including National Governing Bodies (NGBs) and Local Sports Partnerships (LSPs), are encouraged to target all sections of society in seeking to increase participation in sport.

The ISC, under its research remit, is striving to develop a profound understanding of sport in Ireland that can inform policy and investment over the coming years. The ISC has commissioned the Economic and Social Research Institute to undertake studies on its behalf. The fifth report in the series — "Sporting Lives: An Analysis Of A Lifetime Of Irish Sport" which I was pleased to launch recently — sets out to track the participation of Irish people in sport over their life course based on a survey of adult participation in sport in 2003. The data from the survey also allowed for an analysis of the amount and type of sport played in Ireland over recent decades, and of the relationship between playing sport and personal health.

The report concludes that the current generation of Irish adults is playing more sport than previous generations. That is an extremely positive outcome and one with which, collectively, we should be very pleased. Interestingly, the report indicates that 76% of all sport for people over 18 consists of individual activities rather than team based sports. The report also sets out the benefits of participation. The report concludes that people who participate in sport and exercise across the life course generally experience better physical and mental health than non-participants. The report is not without its challenges, particularly in relation to gender and socio-economic gaps in sports participation. Obviously the report needs very careful consideration by the Department and by the Irish Sports Council with a view to assessing what changes might usefully be made to existing sports policy and such consideration is taking place.

I should point out that the series of ESRI reports endorse the view that, as an activity with proven benefits, sport has a strong case for substantial public expenditure to support initiatives which can increase participation in sport. This justifies the significant Government investment in sport in recent years. This increased investment has supported the promotion and development of Irish sport and the provision of a modern sporting infrastructure, with high quality facilities catering for the participation, coaching, training and competition needs of all levels and types of sport. The level of funding available for sport in 2008 is €336 million, which will serve to further enhance and develop the sports sector. Furthermore the National Development Plan 2007-2013 includes a commitment to provide €991 million for sport infrastructure during the period up to 2013.

The increased funding provided to the ISC from €13 million in 2000 to more than €57 million this year has enabled a number of significant interventions to happen for the benefit of disadvantaged areas. Examples include the Local Sports Partnerships (LSP) network and the Buntús programme for primary schools in LSP areas (involving children in sport from a very young age).

Liz McManus

Ceist:

76 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his views on the community hoops programme and on the application by Basketball Ireland for funding to support this programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24566/08]

Pat Rabbitte

Ceist:

80 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if there are plans to fund the refurbishment of the National Basketball Arena; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24565/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 76 and 80 together.

Under the sports capital programme, which is administered by the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism, funding is allocated to sporting and community organisations at local, regional and national level throughout the country. Under previous rounds of the Sports Capital Programme the community hoops initiative of Basketball Ireland has been allocated over €1,500,000 in funding between 1998 and 2007. The National Basketball Arena has been allocated over €600,000 in funding during the same period. Deputies will be aware that the National Basketball Arena, which became operational in 1993 received €2.29m from the Government at the time of its construction.

Applications for funding under the 2008 programme were invited through advertisements in the Press on 13th and 14th of January and the deadline for receipt of applications was 29th February for paper-based applications and 7th March for on-line applications. All applications received before the deadline, including those referred to by the Deputies, are currently being 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.

Tourism Industry.

Lucinda Creighton

Ceist:

77 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his views on the implications for Irish tourism policy of the outcome of the recent Irish/US Governments meeting on the introduction of a US customs pre-clearance facility for Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24466/08]

John Perry

Ceist:

97 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he has had discussions with the relevant Minister to ensure the rapid introduction of legislation to facilitate US customs pre-clearance based here in view of its importance for Irish tourism; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24518/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 77 and 97 together.

As the Deputy will be aware, primary responsibility for the negotiations on introducing pre-clearance facilities at Dublin and Shannon airports rests with my colleague the Minister for Transport. The Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism has however, been kept informed of developments in regard to the possible introduction of pre-clearance facilities at Dublin and Shannon airports for US bound passengers.

I understand that during the course of 2006 and 2007, the Department of Transport held a number of informal meetings with the US authorities with a view to exploring the scope for giving Dublin and Shannon airports full pre-clearance status. Formal proposals were received from the US authorities in December last year and formal negotiations with the US on the basis of these proposals began in January this year. Further talks were held between both sides in Dublin at the end of May and further progress was made. While pre-clearance will require new legislation and the conclusion of an Inter-Governmental Agreement with the US, I understand that it is hoped to have both in place by the end of 2008.

In terms of the implications for Irish tourism, obviously the introduction of pre-clearance facilities would be a welcome development and the issue has been raised with me by tourism interests. From the perspective of passengers, it means that because they are processed through all US entry procedures before they travel, they will have an uninterrupted passage through the US airport when they arrive at their destination. Accordingly, if such an agreement can be reached it should help Dublin and Shannon airports to better position themselves as hubs for US bound flights as they would have a competitive advantage over other airports without such facilities. People using our airports as hubs could, of course, be encouraged to spend time in Ireland as part of their travel arrangements. Furthermore, such an agreement could in time encourage the development of new routes into Shannon and Dublin airport from some of the smaller American airports.

While an agreement has not yet been concluded, I will continue to monitor developments in this area. When any agreement is finalised, I would be encouraging all of the relevant stakeholders, including the relevant tourist agencies, to take all necessary steps to maximise the potential benefits from the new procedures.

Local Sports Partnerships.

Ciaran Lynch

Ceist:

78 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the function of sports inclusion development officers; the numbers employed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24577/08]

Through my Department special funding of €2.3 million, over a two-year period, was allocated from the dormant accounts funds to provide opportunities for persons with a disability to participate in sport and physical activity by way of the appointment of 20 Sports Inclusion Development Officers in Local Sports Partnerships. The Deputy will be aware that a network of Local Sports Partnerships has been set up throughout the country by the Irish Sports Council to coordinate and promote sport at local level.

Specifically the Sports Inclusion Development Officers are charged with promoting participation by people with a disability in sport and physical activity and with ensuring local resources are being used to maximum potential. My colleague the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs has overall responsibility for dormant accounts spending. The funding through my Department is an element of a larger set of economic and social disadvantage funding measures including funding for persons with a disability.

Performing Arts.

Joan Burton

Ceist:

79 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the plans he has to set up a working group to investigate the establishment of an Irish academy of theatre arts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24571/08]

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

96 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the Government funded training courses available for theatre directors, designers, stage managers or producers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24573/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 79 and 96 together.

There are no plans at present to set up a working group to investigate the establishment of an Irish academy of theatre arts. I am aware that a recommendation to this effect was contained in the report of the The Forum on Acting, a copy of which was recently provided to my Department and which has yet to be considered in detail. To the extent that it impinges on my Department, the provision of training in the disciplines mentioned comes within the remit of the Arts Council, which supports a range of training initiatives, including theatre and the Irish Film Board, which funds FÁS/Screen Training Ireland based training in a range of film-related courses.

Funding for the Arts Council in 2008 is €83.102 million. Funding for the Irish Film Board in 2008 is €23.1m, of which €1.3m is provided to FÁS/Screen Training Ireland. My Department has also provided one-off funding to Theatre Forum towards its Druidstone project, aimed at providing training specifically in theatre management. Formal training at third level in the disciplines mentioned is already provided by a number of organizations, including the Gaiety School of Acting, the Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology and FÁS. Responsibility for such organizations is not within the remit of my Department.

Question No. 80 answered with Question No. 76.

Stadium Projects.

Damien English

Ceist:

81 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the implications the withdrawal of a company (details supplied) from FAI ticket sales has for the Government’s investment in the Lansdowne stadium; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24477/08]

John Perry

Ceist:

100 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if there has been contact or discussions between him and either the FAI or the IRFU since the withdrawal of a company (details supplied) from ticket sales for the FAI; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24519/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 81 and 100 together.

The Government's financial commitment to the development of a new stadium at Lansdowne Road is €191m and the grant is capped at that level. The balance of the cost is to be met by the IRFU and the FAI. The arrangements for the development of the stadium, including the respective financial contributors, are part of a legal agreement between the Department and the Lansdowne Road Development Company, which comprises the IRFU and the FAI. As part of this agreement the Department arranged for due diligence to be carried out on the capacity of both organisations to fund their contribution to the project and the Department has been satisfied in that regard.

The project is overseen by a Steering Group which is chaired by the Secretary General of the Department and any issues that arise are discussed in that forum. The Department has written to both organisations recently seeking confirmation that all the necessary financial requirements are in place and that their financial commitments to the project, which will be required to be met within the next 12 months, will be met.

Joanna Tuffy

Ceist:

82 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the status of Santry athletics stadium; if there are plans to invest in this stadium in advance of the London Olympics in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24564/08]

Brian O'Shea

Ceist:

83 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if there are plans to improve the facilities at Santry stadium in view of the fact that it is Ireland’s premier athletics facility; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24576/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 82 and 83 together.

The Government has recognised the importance of Morton Stadium, Santry, to athletics through significant financial support in recent years. Since 2002, the Irish Sports Council has made an annual financial contribution towards the running costs of the stadium, amounting in total to just over €1 million. In addition, funding in excess of €3 million has been provided in capital grants through my Department for improvement of the stadium's facilities in recent years.

Applications for funding under the 2008 Sports Capital Programme were invited through advertisements in the Press on 13th and 14th of January and the deadline for receipt of applications was 29th February for paper-based applications and 7th March for on-line applications. All applications received before the deadline, including an application in respect of Morton Stadium, are currently being 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.

I understand that discussions are taking place between the relevant stakeholders of Morton Stadium with a view to agreeing new arrangements for the management of the stadium, whereby the Athletics Association of Ireland (AAI) will take over responsibility for the day-to-day management of the stadium from Fingal County Council. The proposed new arrangements aim to provide for a more focused and efficient management structure for the stadium to enable it to continue its important role as the national athletics stadium and ensure its ongoing availability for use by the athletics community, especially elite athletes.

Sport and Recreational Development.

David Stanton

Ceist:

84 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his policy priorities in relation to sports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24597/08]

My policy priorities in relation to sport are set out in the Programme for Government and are articulated further in the Department's Statement of Strategy 2008-2010. The overriding objective which will drive the development of policy will be accessibility and participation for all in sport. I intend to put in place a policy framework building on the important role that sport plays in the social, economic and health areas of Irish life. Under the National Development Plan 2007-2013, it is planned to provide almost €1 billion for the development of sports facilities at national, regional and local level. A total of €568 (excluding the €107 million for the redevelopment of Croke Park) has already been allocated in sports capital funding since 1998 under the Sports Capital Programme to over 6,700 sports facility projects.

One of the major issues to be addressed is the introduction of a more strategic targeted approach to the funding of projects and to identify and address gaps in provision. The development of a National Sports Strategy by the Department will provide high-level policy direction for future investment and grant assistance at national, regional and local level. A Value for Money and Policy Review Report of the Local Authority Swimming Pool Programme has been completed by the Department. The Report examined, among other things, how the Programme has worked to date, and what changes are required to ensure its effective and efficient delivery in the future. The recommendations in the Report will be used to assist in formulating future policy in this area and will be incorporated into any new round of the Programme. I intend to publish the Report shortly.

The launch of a new Programme will be a matter for discussion as part of the Estimates process, which will start shortly between this Department and the Department of Finance. A sum of €184m has been provided in the National Development Plan 2007-2013 for supporting existing projects in the Local Authority Swimming Pool Programme and for new projects to be selected following the launch of a new round of the Programme, as provided for in the Programme for Government. Since the establishment of the Irish Sports Council in 1999, over €300 million has been provided to the Council towards initiating, developing and enhancing a wide range of programmes aimed at increasing participation and raising standards in Irish sport. The Department will continue to support the ISC to allow it to realise the commitments of its strategic plan to increase participation in sport and to improve the levels of performance by our elite athletes in world-class competition.

In relation to the horse and greyhound racing industries, Government support is provided under the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund, which was established under the Horse and Greyhound Racing Act, 2001 for the purpose of further developing both racing industries. This Fund has provided a guaranteed level of funding to Horse Racing Ireland and Bord na gCon. To date the Fund has not only helped towards providing some top class venues and facilities, but it has also underpinned significant employment in both industries. In 2004 the Government agreed to increase the aggregate limit on the Fund from €254 million to €550 million, to allow for continuation of the Fund for a further four-year period. A review of the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund is being undertaken and any extension of the Fund will require the approval of the Government and the Oireachtas.

Sports Capital Programme.

Sean Sherlock

Ceist:

85 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if the Government is supporting a project (details supplied) in Dublin 12; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that this is the only velodrome in the country and should be considered a fundamental part of Ireland’s sporting infrastructure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24574/08]

Under the sports capital programme, which is administered by the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism, funding is allocated to sporting and community organisations at local, regional and national level throughout the country. Under previous rounds of the Sports Capital Programme the Velodrome in Dublin City Council's Eamonn Ceannt Park has been allocated almost €900,000 in funding between 1998 and 2007. None of this funding has been drawn down to date.

Applications for funding under the 2008 programme were invited through advertisements in the Press on 13th and 14th of January and the deadline for receipt of applications was 29th February for paper-based applications and 7th March for on-line applications. All applications received before the deadline, including the application from Dublin City Council for the velodrome project, are currently being 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.

Sports Facilities.

James Reilly

Ceist:

86 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if it is intended to seek funding to upgrade sporting facilities at the University of Limerick and University College Dublin, as suggested in the Indecon report, to make it possible for Ireland to have a spin off benefit from the London Olympics in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24521/08]

I am currently considering the report of the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics Task Force which includes findings and recommendations arising from the report carried out by Indecon International Economic Consultants on the economic evaluation of the benefit to the island of Ireland of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games. Both the University of Limerick and University College Dublin have received capital funding from my Department in recent years towards the development of sports facilities.

In 2006, my Department allocated €1 million towards Phase 1 of the sports facilities development at the University of Limerick, particularly with a view to the potential usage of UL as a centre for teams preparing for the London 2012 Olympics. Previous funding to the UL Sports Complex since 1998 was in the form of a €7.55 million grant for the construction of the national 50-metre swimming pool. My Department has also allocated over €1.3 million in capital grants to UCD towards the development of its sports facilities. The national hockey arena, which is located at UCD, was developed with Government funding to the value of €1.29 million.

Proposed Legislation.

Michael D. Higgins

Ceist:

87 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the plans he has to introduce legislation in respect of Culture Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24581/08]

Culture Ireland was established in 2005 as the new national agency for the promotion of Irish arts and culture worldwide, including music, theatre, dance, film, literature, visual arts, traditional arts, architecture, opera and circus. Since that time the agency has been operating with significant success under the direction of a Board. I greatly appreciate the value of Culture Ireland's strategy which centres on the important role our arts and culture play in achieving global recognition for Ireland's attractiveness as a centre of creativity and innovation, and a destination for business and tourism. The strategic promotion of Irish arts in a global context and the creation of international opportunities for Irish artists and cultural practitioners leads to a deeper mutual understanding between Irish and other cultures and communities. I am satisfied that Culture Ireland is working effectively at present and the advancement of legislation to establish Culture Ireland on a statutory basis will be considered in the context of the Government's overall legislative programme.

National Stadium.

Emmet Stagg

Ceist:

88 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the plans there are to include a 200 meter indoor athletics track in phase one of the national stadium facilities at Abbotstown; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24575/08]

The National Sports Campus Development Authority which has statutory responsibility for the development of a Sports Campus at Abbotstown is currently examining a proposal from the Athletics Association of Ireland for the inclusion of an indoor athletics track part of Phase One of the National Sports Campus. The current Development Control Plan which was approved by the Government in 2005 in respect of the facilities to be provided in Phase One of the project does not include provision for an indoor athletics track. I will, however, consider the proposal when it is submitted to my Department to see if it can be facilitated within Phase One of the Campus.

Departmental Agencies.

Joan Burton

Ceist:

89 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his views on the report issued by the Comptroller and Auditor General into Bord na gCon; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24580/08]

On 14 June the Comptroller and Auditor General published a special report on an examination carried out on the arrangements for the procurement of certain capital works and services and related matters by Bord na gCon. The Report will be the subject of examination by the Public Accounts Committee on Thursday 26 June 2008. The issues raised in the report by the C&AG come within the remit of Bord na gCon as day-to-day operational matters. It would be inappropriate of me to comment in any detail on the report in advance of the PAC hearing.

Arts Funding.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

90 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his plans to support touring; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that Ireland has many regional venues which have been funded by the ACCESS schemes which are frequently lying empty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24567/08]

Funding for touring is provided by the Arts Council. The Arts Council is statutorily independent under the Arts Act, 2003 and I have no role to play in its specific funding decisions. The Arts Council introduced a Touring Programme in late 2006 for which funding of €1.7m was made available in 2007. The Council has provided a further €757,000 in grants for touring in 2008. In addition and in the context of its 80th anniversary, the Department has provided €250,000 to the Gate Theatre in 2008 to part fund its 40 venue tour of "Waiting for Godot".

Sport and Recreational Development.

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

91 Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the local sports partnerships established in 2008; the number of people employed in these; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24578/08]

The Agreed Programme for Government commits to the roll out of the Local Sports Partnership programme on a nationwide basis to provide for the development of sport at local level. The Irish Sports Council (ISC) has a statutory role in the promotion and development of sport, including initiatives such as the Local Sports Partnership network, through which sports initiatives at local level are delivered and coordinated. The Local Sports Partnerships (LSPs) are charged with increasing participation in sport at a local level, ensuring that local resources are used to best effect and making sure that the experiences of participants in sport are positive.

Following an independent review of the LSPs by Fitzpatrick Associates in 2005, the then Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism gave approval to the ISC to extend the LSP network on a national basis. There are currently 29 LSPs fully operational, employing a total of 81 people, two of whom are employed on a part-time basis. The remaining four sites in the national network are finalising recruitment arrangements. Five of the total of 29 LSPs were established in 2008 (in Cavan, Louth, Cork City, Galway County and Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown). These five LSPs employ a total of nine people, one of whom is employed on a part-time basis.

Arts Funding.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

92 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the extent to which he has provided funding towards the promotion of the arts in its various forms here in 2007 from whatever source; if he expects to provide similar support in 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24587/08]

I refer the Deputy to the Revised Estimates for Public Services 2008, and in particular to Vote 33 — pages 154 to 155, and to Vote 35 — pages 164 to 169.

Access to Sporting Facilities.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

93 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the way he proposes to make sporting facilities and sports more accessible, particularly for children and those from economically disadvantaged areas, in view of the latest report from the ESRI entitled Sporting Lives; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24562/08]

Eamon Gilmore

Ceist:

103 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the way he will reconcile the increasing trend towards individual sporting pursuits as the area of strongest growth with the predisposition of the sports capital programme to overwhelmingly favour team sports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24563/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 93 and 103 together.

I would refer the Deputies to my reply to PQ No. 75 which I answered today. In relation to the Sports Capital Programme, it should be noted that the level of allocations are contingent on the quality and volume of the applications received and the overall level of funding available, rather than any perceived predisposition towards particular sports.

Question No. 94 answered with Question No. 71.
Question No. 95 answered with Question No. 68.
Question No. 96 answered with Question No. 79.
Question No. 97 answered with Question No. 77.

Arts Council.

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

98 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he remains committed to the target of €100 million funding for the Arts Council as set out in the Partnership for the Arts 2006 to 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24569/08]

As Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism I am committed to securing the best possible funding for the Arts Council and the arts sector generally. The Arts Council's funding requirement for the year ahead however, can only be addressed in the context of the consideration of the Estimates for the Public Services for 2009.

Arts Plan.

Alan Shatter

Ceist:

99 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism when it is intended to publish the Arts in Education report; the progress that has been made towards implementation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24522/08]

I refer the Deputy to my previous reply on this issue on 27th May 2008. As I indicated on that occasion, publication of this Report is a matter, in the first instance, for the Arts Council.

Question No. 100 answered with Question No. 81.

Proposed Legislation.

Eamon Gilmore

Ceist:

101 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if the heads of the Bill on the review of National Archives legislation will be published in 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24582/08]

Subject to receipt of advice from the Director of the National Archives and the National Archives Advisory Council, and following the clarification of certain legal issues by the Attorney General, I would anticipate that the heads of a bill can be finalised later this year.

Fáilte Ireland.

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

102 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the range of capital projects for which Fáilte Ireland has sought approval under the National Development Plan 2007 to 2013; when a decision on the projects will be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24515/08]

The National Development Plan 2007-13, "Transforming Ireland", provides for a total Exchequer investment in tourism of €800m over the seven years, including a Tourism Product Development and Infrastructure sub-programme of €317m to upgrade and supplement Ireland's tourism attractions and activities, and to deliver a National Conference Centre in Dublin. The €137m fund (exclusive of the estimated financial provision for the National Conference Centre) will support three areas of investment namely the development of international class visitor attractions, the development of soft adventure and activity products and certain elements of tourism infrastructure which are not funded from other sources within the NDP.

To date emphasis has been placed by Fáilte Ireland on supporting local authorities and other key infrastructure providers to develop a range of facilities for tourists. Already, some 149 projects have been approved grant assistance of €13 million. While the intention is that the Infrastructure sub-programme will continue over the lifetime of the Plan, the focus of Fáilte Ireland is now moving to other elements of the Product Development Sub-Programme, including investment in visitor attractions and visitor activities. The Fáilte Ireland executive is currently undertaking a full appraisal, including financial evaluations, legal and other due diligence of all applications made to date under the Sub-Programme. Fáilte Ireland has put in place a special approvals board to take decisions on funding recommendations made by the executive. Such decisions are day to day matters for Fáilte Ireland under the terms of the National Tourism Development Authority Act, 2003.

Question No. 103 answered with Question No. 93.

Arts Plan.

David Stanton

Ceist:

104 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his policy priorities in relation to the arts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24596/08]

The Government's priorities for the Arts are set out in the Programme for Government and are elaborated further in my Department's Statement of Strategy and the Arts Plan 2008, which has been placed in the Oireachtas Library. 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.

Sports Funding.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

105 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the plans he has to improve regional balance in sports capital funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19802/08]

Under the Sports Capital Programme, which is administered by my Department, funding is allocated to sporting and community organisations. It is the main vehicle for development of sports facilities at local, regional and national level throughout the country. Since 1998 the Sports Capital Programme has allocated over €675m to 6,716 sports facility projects. This investment has transformed the sporting landscape of Ireland with improved facilities in virtually every village, town and city. The facilities funded range from new equipment for the smallest clubs, to regional multi-sport centres and national centres of sporting excellence.

For a project to be considered for funding under the programme it must first meet a certain number of basic requirements such as showing evidence of the minimum required level of own funding or evidence of freehold or sufficiently long leasehold to ensure that the facility stays in sporting use. All projects that do not meet these minimum requirements are considered ineligible and are not assessed for funding.

When assessing applications that have met these minimum requirements the Department uses a number of criteria. Applications are scored according to how well they meet these criteria and then ranked in order of priority within their own county. The amount of funding available for distribution under the Programme in each county is determined on a pro-rata basis based on the 2006 Census of Population. This method of assessment and allocation ensures balanced regional development of sports facilities. However, if a county does not have a sufficient number of eligible projects it is of course not possible to allocate that county's share of the total allocations. In these cases the funding is distributed to projects elsewhere.

Racing Industry.

Joanna Tuffy

Ceist:

106 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism when he will initiate a complete review of the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24579/08]

Government support for the horse and greyhound racing industries is provided under the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund, which was established under the Horse and Greyhound Racing Act, 2001 for the purpose of further developing both racing industries. Under the provisions of the 2001 Act, the Fund receives a guaranteed level of finance based on excise duty on off-course betting in the preceding year, subject to a minimum level based on the year 2000, amount adjusted for inflation. Any shortfall in the amount generated by the excise duty is made up by direct Exchequer subvention.

In 2004 the Government agreed to increase the aggregate limit on the Fund from €254 million to €550 million, to allow for continuation of the Fund for a further four-year period. Since 2001, this Fund has provided a guaranteed level of funding to Horse Racing Ireland and Bord na gCon. To date the Fund has not only helped towards providing some top class venues and facilities, but it has also underpinned significant employment in both industries. A review of the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund is being undertaken by the Department. Any extension of the Fund will require the approval of the Government and the Oireachtas.

Arts Funding.

Alan Shatter

Ceist:

107 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if the review of the guidelines for the per cent for art scheme has been completed; when he expects to publish the new guidelines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24523/08]

The Inter-Departmental Group, chaired by my Department, was reconvened in September 2007 to review the working and implementation of the Per Cent for Art Guidelines. To date the group, which is representative of a wide range of Government Departments and agencies with construction budgets, has met on three occasions and significant progress has been made. The Group will continue to meet on a quarterly basis to progress the review. The group is also examining ways in which information on public art could be made more easily accessible to the public and their plans on this are at an advanced stage and will include a public art website, the design of which has recently been put to tender. When I have considered the recommendations of the Group, a date will be set for publishing the revised guidelines.

Cultural Institutions.

Tom Sheahan

Ceist:

108 Deputy Tom Sheahan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the progress that has been made in relation to the provision of shared off-site storage facilities for the national cultural institutions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24524/08]

The individual off-site storage needs of the National Cultural Institutions, are being dealt with progressively on an individual basis. There are 7 Cultural Institutions and if the Deputy has a request for an update on a particular institution/s I will be happy to provide such information.

Departmental Properties.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

109 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance when the boundary will be made secure at the entrance at Killybegs, Sallins, County Kildare (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24589/08]

The Commissioners of Public Works are carrying out the construction of a new agricultural facility, on behalf of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, at Longtown Demesne, Clane, County Kildare. The construction works, which includes the provision of a new boundary wall at the main entrance gate, is on target for completion by the end of Autumn 2008.

Tax Code.

P. J. Sheehan

Ceist:

110 Deputy P. J. Sheehan asked the Minister for Finance, further to Parliamentary Question No. 183 of 4 December 2007, the support mechanisms he will put in place before 31 October 2008 to replace the excise duty reliefs for public transport vehicles including those involved in school transport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24258/08]

John O'Mahony

Ceist:

122 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Finance the alternative mechanisms being put in place to replace the excise duty refund for public transport services which is being terminated on 31 October 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24434/08]

Olivia Mitchell

Ceist:

123 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance the alternative to the excise refund on diesel planned to help public transport providers (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24437/08]

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

128 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance if an alternative mechanism has been developed and confirmed as feasible to substitute for the loss in the excise duty refund for public transport services; if he has assessed the merits of a proposal put forward by the Coach Tourism and Transport Council which develops a scheme promoting positive gains in CO2 emissions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24778/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 110, 122, 123 and 128 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 inter alia 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.

The Finance Act 2008, as the Deputies are aware, consequently provided 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 circumstances outlined above the question of reconsidering or deferring the withdrawal of the existing relief does not therefore arise. The Department of Transport and other relevant line Departments have, in conjunction with my Department, explored alternative mechanisms that might be used to direct Exchequer resources toward such services from that date, subject of course to compatibility with competition and EU State Aid requirements. While the matter is still being considered it is necessary however to stress, despite the claims being made otherwise, that introducing an alternative suitable mechanism is not a straightforward matter.

Joan Burton

Ceist:

111 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Finance the plans he has to amend stamp duty legislation whereby a person who buys a house jointly with another person, paying stamp duty in the process, and then at a later point buys out their co-owner’s share in the property, must pay on the latter occasion further stamp duty on all or part of the value of the property; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24275/08]

Where a joint owner of a property conveys his or her interest in that property to the other joint owner, Stamp Duty arises in the normal way on that transaction. The payment of Stamp Duty on the original conveyance of the property to the joint owners has no effect on a subsequent transaction.

Official Engagements.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

112 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance if, during his meeting on the 5 July 2006 with the Minister for Finance of Jamaica, he raised concerns relating to the human rights situation in Jamaica; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24279/08]

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

113 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance if, during his meeting on 12 December 2007 with the ambassador of Saudi Arabia, he raised concerns relating to the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24280/08]

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

114 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance if, during his meeting on 10 March 2008 with the Prime Minister of Vietnam, he raised concerns relating to the human rights situation in Vietnam; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24281/08]

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

115 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance if, during his meeting on 17 March 2008 with the Minister for Finance of Vietnam, he raised concerns relating to the human rights situation in Vietnam; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24282/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 112 to 115, inclusive, together.

Human rights are, and have always been, a priority of successive Governments and central to our foreign policy. Together with our EU partners, the Government monitors the human rights situations in many countries, on the basis of information obtained from a variety of sources including non-governmental organisations. Where the situation warrants, we make known our concerns about human rights violations to the Governments in question, either bilaterally, including in high-level meetings, through the EU which has an active human rights dialogue with many countries, or through action at the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council. The focus of meetings to which the Deputy refers in his questions was exclusively on specific economic issues.

National Parks.

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

116 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Finance if plans exist within his Department to implement quality bus corridors in the Phoenix Park; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24318/08]

The Office of Public Works recently received Planning Permission for the refurbishment and upgrading of Chesterfield Avenue. The permission included a number of Conditions and these are being examined at present. Matters in relation to Quality Bus Corridors are, of course, primarily a matter for the Minister for Transport and his agencies.

Tax Collection.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

117 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will be furnished with a P21 for 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24322/08]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a PAYE Balancing Statement Form P21 issued to the taxpayer on 19 June 2008.

Tax Code.

Seán Barrett

Ceist:

118 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Finance the plans he has to remove the insurance levy which was introduced in the 1980s as a result of the financial difficulties experienced by some insurance companies; his justification for the continuation of this insurance levy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24348/08]

An insurance levy was introduced in 1984 requiring contributions of 2% of gross premium income to be made to the Insurance Compensation Fund to meet the liabilities arising from the collapse of PMPA. The levy was paid by all non-life insurers at this rate until 31 December 1991 when the rate was reduced to 1%. The levy ceased to apply from 1 January 1993 as there were sufficient funds to complete the administration of Primor Plc, the former PMPA.

Stamp duty of 1 per cent was imposed on certain insurance premiums in 1982. This was increased to 2% in 1993. The stamp duty is imposed on almost all non-life insurance premiums, the exceptions being reinsurance, voluntary health insurance, marine, aviation and transit insurance and export credit insurance. Similar levies exist in other EU countries. The stamp duty on non life insurance was introduced to broaden the stamp duty base and is paid into the Central Fund along with other tax receipts.

Tax Yield.

John Perry

Ceist:

119 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Finance the value of the tax take that relates to residential property transactions included in the total VAT, capital gains tax and stamp duty tax take for 2006 and 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24374/08]

According to the Revenue Commissioners, Stamp Duty from Residential Properties on a Revenue net receipts basis for 2006 was €1,311 million, or 36% of total net Stamp Duty receipts. Stamp Duty from Residential Properties on a Revenue net receipts basis for 2007 was €1,018 million, or 31% of total net Stamp Duty receipts. Revenue net receipts differ from Exchequer receipts due to accounting and timing issues.

In relation to VAT, I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that it is not possible to furnish precise figures of the VAT take from residential property transactions, as the information furnished on VAT returns does not require the yield from particular sectors of trade to be identified. However, based on data published by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, the estimated yield from residential property transactions, which excludes VAT on residential repairs and maintenance, was €2,727 million in 2006 and €2,424 million in 2007.

Finally, according to the Revenue Commissioners, a breakdown of capital gains tax by asset type is not available. However, it is possible to provide a proportional breakdown by reference to asset types of the aggregate consideration underlying chargeable gains, that is, the total selling price prior to allowing any offsets or deductions, for the tax year 2006. On the basis of the 2006 Form 11 tax returns, 18% of the aggregate consideration was attributed to the disposal of residential property. Data for the tax year 2007 is not yet available as the income tax returns for that year are not due for filing until October 2008.

Tax Collection.

Paul Connaughton

Ceist:

120 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Finance when a decision will be given on an application in respect of a refund of VAT on farm buildings by a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24399/08]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a claim for repayment of value added tax was received from the person in question on 6 December 2007. However, the claim did not meet the criteria for repayment and was returned on the same date with an explanation of what was required to qualify for repayment. The information requested has not been submitted to Revenue to date. The Revenue Commissioners have recently been in contact with the person concerned and have assisted him in meeting the outstanding requirements. It is expected that the claim will be resubmitted to Revenue shortly where it will be processed as soon as possible.

Building Regulations.

Andrew Doyle

Ceist:

121 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Finance the number of building inspectors employed by the Office of Public Works to carry out inspection works according to the requirements of the EU regulation for a building energy rating system. [24410/08]

Article 7(3) of the Energy Performance Building Directive requires that a Building Energy Rating (BER) shall be prominently displayed in existing large public service buildings, over 1,000m2. The timeframe as per the ‘Action Plan for Implementation of the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive in Ireland' for this requirement is January 2009. It is intended that an Operational Rating system will be used for public sector buildings, i.e. based on actual energy consumption. To date there is no agreed calculation methodology for the Operational Rating System in Ireland. The Office of Public Works is currently assessing a number of systems for calculation of the BER's for the buildings that will require labels in its portfolio (approximately 250 in total).

Articles 8 and 9 of the directive require that large boiler and air conditioning systems be regularly inspected. The Office of Public Works engages specialist companies to carry out planned maintenance and inspection, at regular intervals, of all large boiler and air conditioning systems in each building. This ensures that each system performs at its optimum level of energy efficiency.

Questions Nos. 122 and 123 answered with Question No. 110.

Flood Relief.

Phil Hogan

Ceist:

124 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Finance if he has received a report from the Office of Public Works in respect of flooding by the River Pill of the village of Piltown during moderate periods of rainfall; and if he has allocated the necessary finance to carry out the works. [24537/08]

The Office of Public Works has completed a pre-feasibility Study of the problem of flooding in Piltown, County Kilkenny. A pre-feasibility study is the first stage in determining, based on readily available information and where information is not available reasonable assumptions, whether a flood relief scheme is likely to be viable on social, environmental and economic grounds. The report concludes that a flood relief scheme for Piltown may be viable and therefore investigation of the problem should proceed to the next stage, which is a more detailed feasibility study to determine the most appropriate scheme for the town and its environs. The Office of Public Works is in consultation with Kilkenny County Council regarding flooding issues in a number of areas in the County, and the potential for a scheme in Piltown, including the issue of funding, will be progressed as part of this process.

Banking Sector Regulation.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

125 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance the meetings, either at ministerial level or at official level, within the EU regarding a move to increase the level of deposit savings protected in the event of failure of a financial institution; and if Ministers have set a deadline for the taking of proposals on the matter. [24594/08]

As the Deputy is aware, the EU has been considering possible enhancements to the EU Deposit Guarantee Directive, arising from Ecofin Council meetings in October and December 2007 in the wake of the dislocation in the global financial markets. The review arises in the context of the Ecofin Roadmaps, agreed then, on ‘Strengthening EU arrangements for financial stability' and ‘Actions taken in response to the financial turmoil'. The Deputy should be aware that, while the level of deposit protection is being looked at as one part of the review, the review is broader in spectrum and focuses on wider policy areas such as improving the speed of payouts, depositor information, and cross-border interoperability.

This review is ongoing and Ireland is participating in all discussions at Ministerial level and official level. Most recently at Ministerial level, I attended an orientation discussion among Ecofin Ministers on Deposit Guarantee Schemes on 3 June 2008. Under the aforementioned Roadmap, the European Commission has been requested to prepare a report on the Deposit Guarantee Schemes in the EU and it is expected that Ecofin Council will have a strategic discussion on the findings of this report in Autumn 2008.

My Department has been participating in discussions on Deposit Guarantee Schemes at the Economic and Financial Committee (EFC) and at the Financial Services Committee (FSC). Indeed, the European Commission report will be discussed by my officials and other Member State officials at these Committees over the coming months with a view to presenting Ministers with a finalised report in the Autumn. While there is no formal deadline for a conclusion to these discussions, I would expect that clear conclusions will begin to emerge towards the end of 2008.

I might reiterate that the first and most robust line of defence for depositors is a well-managed system of prudential regulation and supervision so as to minimise the risk that a Deposit Guarantee Scheme (DGS) might need to be activated. Recent assessments by reputable international bodies such as the IMF and the OECD have confirmed that the Irish system of financial regulation complies with best international practice. I might also add that Irish banks are well capitalised, liquid and profitable, with strong asset quality and no material exposure to sub-prime securitisations, and are thus well placed to cope with the uncertainty currently prevailing at the international level.

Departmental Properties.

Pat Rabbitte

Ceist:

126 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Finance if, in relation to the proposed transfer of the Central Mental Hospital from Dundrum to a site in the district electoral division of Kilsallaghan in Fingal, he has specified any person for the purposes and within the meaning of section 2 (1) (a) of the Commissioners of Public Works (Functions and Powers) Act 1996 on whose behalf such sale and transfer functions will be exercised; if so, the person he has so specified; if not, the statutory powers he proposes to exercise in order to achieve a sale of the Dundrum site and the building of a site adjacent to Thornton Hall; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24655/08]

The Commissioners of Public Works are the owners of the Mental Hospital site at Dundrum. When the site becomes available for disposal the Commissioners, at that time, will consider how best to extract maximum value for the exchequer from the sale of the site.

Data Protection.

Simon Coveney

Ceist:

127 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Finance the results of the review of systems and procedures operated by Departments and agencies to protect the confidentiality of personal data announced in December 2007, reports of which were due to be returned to his Department by 1 February 2008; if the results are not finalised, when they will be finalised; and if they will be published. [24670/08]

As part of the review of systems and procedures operated by Departments and agencies to protect the confidentiality of personal data which was announced in December 2007, my Department examined the responses received from Departments and Offices, collated the findings and presented these to Government in April 2008. A cross-Departmental working group has been convened and is currently developing central guidelines that Departments and agencies must follow. The work of the group is continuing and is expected to be completed this year.

Question No. 128 answered with Question No. 110.

Departmental Staff.

Pat Breen

Ceist:

129 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Finance, further to Parliamentary Question No. 125 of 18 June 2008, if he will renew the contract of the temporary operator at the Ennis Civil Service creche from 1 July 2008 until 1 October 2008 when a permanent operator will be in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24834/08]

The current position regarding the Ennis Civil Service Creche was set out in my reply to your Parliamentary Question on 18 June 2008. Over the last 9 months to ensure compliance with HSE regulations and having consulted with the HSE Preschool services, the Board put in place a support structure of people with experience in creche management who were made available to management in Ennis creche three days per week. These support services at the creche come to an end on 30 June 2008 and it is not possible to extend them. Without these, it is not possible to continue the temporary management arrangements. I am advised by the Board of the Civil Service Child care Initiative that active negotiations are underway to ensure that from 1 October 2008, a permanent operator will be in place for a five year period, offering a long term viable future for the creche.

Decentralisation Programme.

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

130 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the progress made and the future plans on the decentralisation programme in respect of Navan. [24835/08]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that Revenue's Navan office was not part of the original decentralisation programme announced by the then Minister for Finance, Mr Charlie McCreevy, in his budget speech in 2002. The then Chairman of the Revenue Commissioners subsequently submitted a proposal to the Decentralisation Implementation Group formally requesting approval to relocate up to one hundred (100) additional posts from Dublin to Navan in order to establish the Revenue Meath district there. This proposal was approved by the Government in 2006. There are currently ninety seven (97) of the one hundred (100) staff due to decentralise in situ in Navan and arrangements are in train to fill the remaining three (3) positions. This will complete Revenue's decentralisation programme to Navan. My Department has no plans at present to decentralise any additional staff to Navan.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Pat Breen

Ceist:

131 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Clare will be facilitated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24257/08]

The 2008 Service Plan, developed by the HSE and approved by me, included €50m for the development of additional disability services. The standard expenditure sanction issued to the HSE for 2008 stipulated that the prior approval of my Department of Finance would be required in the event of any proposal to spend this money for any other purpose. Clearly, it is essential that the HSE lives within its overall budget for the year. It needs to manage its activity levels and cost drivers appropriately to achieve this and I do not believe it is desirable to resort to using development funding to offset expenditure pressures arising in respect of ongoing health services.

The HSE is currently reviewing its overall financial position for the year and the roll-out of planned developments in disability services is being considered in that context. I have been in communication with the HSE with a view to an early determination on the matter. The HSE has informed my Department that it plans to release €20m of the €50m additional funding for Disability Services. The Deputy's specific question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal 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.

EU Directives.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

132 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Health and Children the effect the European food supplements directive will have on vitamins and other food supplements; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24269/08]

Pádraic McCormack

Ceist:

149 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Minister for Health and Children the restrictions the European food supplements directive will have on the right to purchase vitamins and mineral supplements; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24372/08]

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

152 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on the necessity for the provisions of the European food supplements directive relating to the restriction in vitamin dosage in food supplements (details supplied); the plans she has to seek a change to this directive on behalf of citizens who wish to have access to higher dosages; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24386/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 132, 149 and 152 together.

The Food Supplements Directive, 2002/46/EC, has been transposed into Irish law by Statutory Instrument No. 506 of 2007. That legislation is implemented by the Health Service Executive, under a Service Contract Agreement with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI). This ensures that consumers in Ireland are protected by the harmonised EU rules on the sale of food supplements, in particular the labelling of food supplements and chemical form of vitamins and minerals they contain. One of the objectives of the Food Supplements Directive (2002/46/EC) was to make provision for the European Commission to determine maximum and minimum levels of vitamins and minerals in food supplements. The European Commission published a Discussion Paper on determining maximum and minimum levels of vitamins and minerals in June 2006.

The Irish response to this paper, issued in November 2006, gave Ireland's view that the Commission should proceed on a cautious basis, setting maximum limits for as many vitamins and minerals as possible. It was considered vital that the safety of the general population and the needs of particular subgroups such as pregnant women, children, older people and those on various specialist diets be taken into account in formulating the position on this issue. Discussions are ongoing at European level on the development of a methodology under which maximum safe levels for vitamins and minerals in food supplements will be set. Those discussions will permit the European Commission and Member States to further develop future direction on this issue. It is this Department's view that the setting of maximum levels for vitamins and minerals should not, in itself, cause major cost or hardship for consumers.

Medical Cards.

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

133 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the provision of a full medical card for a person (details supplied) in County Cork in view of their medical condition. [24270/08]

As the Health Service Executive has the operational and funding responsibility for the medical card benefit, 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.

Official Engagements.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

134 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Health and Children if, during her meeting on 27 July 2005 with the Chinese ambassador to Ireland, she raised concerns relating to the human rights situation in China; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24283/08]

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

135 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Health and Children if, during her meeting on 14 October 2005 with the Minister for Health of Malaysia, she raised concerns relating to the human rights situation in Malaysia; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24284/08]

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

136 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Health and Children if, during her meeting on 12 December 2007 with the ambassador of Saudi Arabia, she raised concerns relating to the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24285/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 134 to 136, inclusive, together.

I can confirm that the meetings referred to by the Deputy took place and that the discussions focused only on health related matters.

Primary Care Strategy.

Bernard Allen

Ceist:

137 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Health and Children the situation regarding the roll-out of primary care teams; the number that were planned; the number that have been put in place; the number working to full capacity; her views on a recent statement (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24314/08]

David Stanton

Ceist:

187 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 96 of 13 March 2008, if the target, as included in Towards 2016, of establishing 300 primary care teams by 2008 has been met; if not, the number of primary care teams which have been established throughout the country; if a review of these targets has commenced; if so, the outcome of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24810/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 137 and 187 together.

The key objective of the Primary Care Strategy is to give people direct access to integrated multi-disciplinary teams of general practitioners, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, home helps and others. Membership of primary care teams and networks are drawn from existing professional and other staff working in primary, continuing and community care services. The Government has committed under the Towards 2016 Agreement to the establishment of 300 Primary Care Teams by 2008; 400 by 2009 and 500 by 2011. In line with the Agreement, a review of these targets is presently under way.

There have been substantial enhancements in the services provided in primary and community care settings along with corresponding increases in the numbers of staff concerned. At this stage, the main focus needs to be on the reorganisation of existing services and staff into primary care teams and networks. This requires changes in work practices and reporting relationships, with an emphasis on joint working by various health professionals. It also requires significant work in mapping and profiling of areas. Work under many of these headings is well advanced and I am pleased with the level of interest in, and engagement with, primary care teams among general practitioners. I understand that some 500 GPs are involved in the development of teams, with a further 700 projected to become involved.

Specific additional funding was provided each year between 2006 and 2008 to facilitate the roll-out of extra primary care teams. Some of this funding was used to appoint extra frontline professional staff. The HSE has advised me that it was unable to use the remaining funding as planned because it had to cover higher than anticipated costs in other parts of its services, particularly in acute hospitals, within its overall budget allocation. Clearly, the HSE has to operate within the resources made available to it in any given year. However, this should not mean that new funding provided by the Government for specific service enhancements is redirected to other purposes. I have emphasised to the HSE the importance I attach to the continued development and roll-out of primary care teams.

Cancer Screening Programme.

Bernard Allen

Ceist:

138 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Health and Children the financial cost of the cervical screening contract entered into by the National Cancer Screening Service with a US company (details supplied). [24315/08]

The Deputy's question in relation to the financial cost of the contract entered into by the National Cancer Screening Service with a US company is the responsibility of the National Cancer Screening Service. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Chief Executive Officer of the Service to respond directly to the Deputy in relation to the matters raised.

Medical Cards.

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

139 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on whether EU nationals are entitled to an over 70s medical card having been long time residents here and having attained the appropriate age, in view of the fact that they have over the years been issued with a medical card under Regulation (EC) 1408/71; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24321/08]

Regulation (EC) 1408/71 deals with the coordination of social security schemes, including healthcare, for those moving within the European Union. Under its provisions persons residing in Ireland who are attached to the social security system of another member state are entitled to receive healthcare services in Ireland at the cost of the member state to which they are attached. Such persons receive a medical card as evidence of their entitlement.

That entitlement is based in the above Regulation and not in the Health Act 1970, as amended. Such people continue to retain their entitlement to health services, irrespective of age. Consequently, the question of entitlement to an "over-70s medical card" does not arise as long as the individual remains attached to the social security system of another member state. The entitlements provided under Regulation (EC) 1408/71 are exactly the same as those provided under the Irish Health Acts. The provision of an "over-70s medical card" would mean Ireland could not bill the competent Member State for the cost of health care provided.

Health Promotion.

Mary Upton

Ceist:

140 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children the responsibilities the Minster of State with responsibility for children has in tackling youth obesity and levels of physical inactivity in children; her plans to take a lead on this issue in view of the cross jurisdictional nature of this problem and the cross jurisdictional nature of her office; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24331/08]

The Minister for Health and Children has asked me to take the lead role in dealing with health problems arising from obesity and physical inactivity. In doing so I maintain close contact with my colleague, Barry Andrews, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. The Office of the Minister for Children has had an important role in developing successful programmes and initiatives which promote physical activity. These include the National Play Policy document for children, entitled "Ready, Steady, Play" and "Teenspace", the National Recreation Policy for Young People, which was published in September 2007. Through its work on supporting the implementation of these policies, the Office liaises closely with local authorities and the National Sports Council on initiatives which promote the development of appropriate facilities and programmes which are targeted at children and young people. The HSE is currently developing physical activity guidelines, which are expected to be available later this year.

My Department will be publishing the first National Nutrition Policy later this year. Recommendations will focus, primarily, on the nutrition needs of the 0-18 year age group. In addition 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 pre-school and primary school staff is currently underway. Post-primary school guidelines will be launched in the coming weeks.

The "Little Steps Go A Long Way" campaign, which I launched last week, is an all island campaign led by the HSE, Safefood and the Health Promotion Agency of Northern Ireland. These agencies are working together with a common agenda of raising awareness of the growing problem of obesity and how we might address it. This partnership will support achieving maximum impact from the campaign and value for money for all involved. The Government has agreed to the establishment of an Inter-Departmental Group (IDG) which will facilitate intersectoral collaboration on the prevention of chronic diseases. It is intended that further measures to tackle obesity and to promote good health will be advanced through the IDG.

Mary Upton

Ceist:

141 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to ensure that physical education in school is interlinked with out-of-school physical activity; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24333/08]

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.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Olivia Mitchell

Ceist:

142 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason no services are in place for school leaving autistic syndrome sufferers despite the fact that it is almost the end of June 2008; the further reason the promised reply to this Deputy’s question of 27 May 2008 on this subject has not been issued by the Health Service Executive; if details of the adult day care placements for those children leaving a school (details supplied) in County Dublin will be provided in view of the distress this uncertainty is causing their families; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24334/08]

The 2008 Service Plan, developed by the HSE and approved by this Department, included €50m for the development of additional disability services. The standard expenditure sanction issued to the HSE for 2008 stipulated that the prior approval of my Department and the Department of Finance would be required in the event of any proposal to spend this money for any other purpose. Clearly, it is essential that the HSE lives within its overall budget for the year. It needs to manage its activity levels and cost drivers appropriately to achieve this and I do not believe it is desirable to resort to using development funding to offset expenditure pressures arising in respect of ongoing health services.

The HSE is currently reviewing its overall financial position for the year and the roll-out of planned developments in disability services is being considered in that context. I have been in communication with the HSE with a view to an early determination on the matter. The HSE has informed my Department that it plans to release €20m of the €50m additional funding for Disability Services. I understand that a reply to the Deputy's question of 27th May 2008 will issue this week.

The Deputy's specific question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal 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:

143 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children when the review of maternity hospitals and maternity services here will be completed; the action she proposes to take in the short term to address the increasing pressure and demand for maternity services at maternity hospitals here (details supplied); if her attention has been drawn to the fact that maternity hospitals operating at over capacity are in danger of a serious and dangerous incident occurring; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24343/08]

The number of births nationally last year was over 70,000. The Health Service Executive has made provision in its National Service Plan for 2008 for an increase in this number to approximately 73,000. Recognising the increased birth rate, and the increasing complexity of maternity and neonatal services nationally, the HSE has prioritised the requirement for additional service development funding in recent years for this service. For example, in the eastern region the recurring revenue budget for the three Dublin Maternity Hospitals has increased from €125m to €153m over the last four years. When account is taken of once-off funding, the investment stands at over €161m in 2008. In 2007 additional funding of €3m was provided to address patient safety priorities overall, including funding for maternity services to support the implementation of the very important recommendations made in the Lourdes Hospital Inquiry Report. The HSE prioritised maternity service requirements in 2007 from this general patient safety fund.

On the capital side, the HSE has made provision in its HSE Draft Capital programme for additional investment of some €10m each year for the next three years in respect of maternity services in the Dublin region. This investment builds on a range of capital improvements already put in place or currently in train as follows:

The establishment of the National Epidemiology Centre in 2006 to facilitate the monitoring of all data from Irish maternity units with the aim of improving clinical services for mothers and babies.

The opening of the new Cork University Maternity Hospital last year saw the amalgamation of Cork's three existing hospitals on the one site.

€15m for Wexford General Hospital to meet the cost of upgrading the obstetric and gynaecological service.

€9m to upgrade maternity facilities at the Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise.

Upgrading of the obstetric/gynaecology ward and delivery suite at the Midland Regional Hospital, Mullingar.

Upgrading of the special care baby unit at Portiuncula Hospital.

The HSE is also committed to developing a strategic approach to maternity services nationally. The first stage in this work is the Review of Maternity & Gynaecology Services in the Greater Dublin Area. The review, which is being conducted for the HSE by KPMG Consultants, will set out recommendations and provide an action plan to facilitate delivery of the best model of care for primary, community and hospital maternity services in the future. The review is designed to provide the necessary platform for the provision of safe, sustainable, cost effective, high quality and consistent maternity, neonatology and gynaecology care services. The report will also include recommendations regarding areas where there is potential for performance improvement within existing services.

The HSE is also establishing a Maternity Services Expert Advisory Group which will provide a central platform for clinical and health communities, patients, clients and managers to become actively involved in the development and transformation of maternity services. My Department has asked the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to respond to the Deputy directly on the operational matter raised by him.

Health Research.

Joe McHugh

Ceist:

144 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will take on board the recommendation of the Joint Committee for Health and Children to fund the Exon skipping trials in the UK; when legislation will be implemented to allow funding to be invested; and the action she is taking to reciprocate the help the UK is giving to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy patients in this country. [24356/08]

There is no mechanism or budget for Government funding of U.K. health research. There are no plans to introduce legislation in this area. I understand that Muscular Dystrophy Ireland has secured access for Irish children to the Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy registry in the United Kingdom so that they can be considered for inclusion in the first systematic trial of this treatment.

Proposed Legislation.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

145 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 255 of 4 March 2008, when she expects proposals from her Department to be submitted to the Government regarding legislation on eligibility for health and personal social services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24366/08]

As the Deputy will be aware, the current legislation for health and personal social services has been in place for many years and there is a need now to have a clear set of statutory provisions that ensure equity and transparency and to bring the system up to date with developments in service delivery and technology that have occurred since the Health Act 1970. Accordingly, work is underway in the Department on a new legislative framework to provide for clear statutory provisions on eligibility and entitlement for health and personal social services. The legislation will define specific health and personal social services more clearly; set out who should be eligible for what services, as well as criteria for eligibility; establish when and in what circumstances charges may be made and provide for an appeals framework.

As the Deputy will appreciate, this is a very complex undertaking as the current legislation has been in place since 1970, and there have been significant developments in services since then, with a growing emphasis on delivery of care in a community rather than institutional setting. Given the complexities around this area, it will be necessary to obtain comprehensive legal advice in relation to the proposed legislation. However, it is expected that proposals will be submitted to Government during 2008.

Hospital Services.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

146 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be called to Galway for an angiogram; and if the matter will be expedited in view of this person’s age, medical condition and so on. [24368/08]

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.

Infectious Diseases.

Joe Carey

Ceist:

147 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Health and Children the research available in relation to the use of probiotics in the treatment of gastrointestinal conditions such as C. difficile within hospitals here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24369/08]

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre published Guidelines for the Surveillance, Diagnosis and Management of Clostridium-Difficile-associated disease (CDAD) in Ireland, on 22nd May last. At Section 4.4 of that report the new and emerging treatment options including the use of probiotics are explored. The research, as would be expected, underlines the complexity of the issue. Some results showed a reduction in the risk of antibiotic associated diarrhoea but not CDAD; other studies examined the application of probiotics with standard antibiotics to treat CDAD and in certain cases the tests undertaken had a number of limitations including highly selective inclusion and exclusion criteria. The HSE is currently considering this report to decide on its implementation.

Hospital Services.

Joe Carey

Ceist:

148 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress made regarding the development of adult cystic fibrosis services at Limerick Regional Hospital both in terms of staff recruitment and the development of a dedicated unit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24370/08]

I have identified the need to improve services for persons with cystic fibrosis as a priority in the Estimates process over recent years. Since 2006, additional revenue funding of €6.78m has been allocated to the HSE to develop services for people with cystic fibrosis. The detailed application of this funding across the various hospital networks is a matter for the Executive and accordingly, my Department has asked the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to reply directly to the Deputy with regard to the services at Limerick Regional Hospital.

Question No. 149 answered with Question No. 132.

Medical Aids and Appliances.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

150 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children when a decision will be made regarding an application for a grant towards the purchase of a light weight wheelchair by a person (details supplied) in Dublin 11. [24377/08]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal 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.

Hospital Services.

Michael Creed

Ceist:

151 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 169 of 13 May 2008, if she will provide more detailed information for the years in question regarding the number of hip replacement and knee replacement surgeries carried out; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24382/08]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services is a matter for the Health Service Executive (HSE) and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall Vote. I understand that the HSE issued a letter to the Deputy explaining the details concerning the issue on the 27th May.

Question No. 152 answered with Question No. 132.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

153 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a service (details supplied) in County Dublin. [24391/08]

The 2008 Service Plan, developed by the HSE and approved by me, included €50m for the development of additional disability services. The standard expenditure sanction issued to the HSE for 2008 stipulated that the prior approval of my Department and the Department of Finance would be required in the event of any proposal to spend this money for any other purposes. Clearly, it is essential that the HSE lives within its overall budget for the year. It needs to manage its activity levels and cost drivers appropriately to achieve this and I do not believe it is desirable to resort to using development funding to offset expenditure pressures arising in respect of ongoing health services.

The HSE is currently reviewing its overall financial position for the year and the roll-out of planned developments in disability services is being considered in that context. I have been in communication with the HSE with a view to an early determination on the matter. The HSE has informed my Department that it plans to release €20m of the €50m additional funding for Disability Services. The Deputy's specific question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal 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.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

154 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a matter (details supplied). [24392/08]

The 2008 Service Plan, developed by the HSE and approved by me, included €50m for the development of additional disability services. The standard expenditure sanction issued to the HSE for 2008 stipulated that the prior approval of my Department and the Department of Finance would be required in the event of any proposal to spend this money for any other purpose. Clearly, it is essential that the HSE lives within its overall budget for the year. It needs to manage its activity levels and cost drivers appropriately to achieve this and I do not believe it is desirable to resort to using development funding to offset expenditure pressures arising in respect of ongoing health services.

The HSE is currently reviewing its overall financial position for the year and roll-out of planned developments in disability services is being considered in that context. I have been in communication with the HSE with a view to an early determination on the matter. The HSE has informed my Department that it plans to release the €20m of the €50m additional funding for Disability Services. The Deputy's specific question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal 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.

Seán Barrett

Ceist:

155 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Health and Children when it is proposed to conclude the discussions with the Health Service Executive regarding funding for 2008 in the context of the overall financial position of the HSE, particularly in view of the fact that 18 year old autistic students have left their previous schools in June 2008 without having been given an indication of September 2008 placements; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24397/08]

The 2008 Service Plan, developed by the HSE and approved by my Department, included €50m for the development of additional disability services. The standard expenditure sanction issued to the HSE for 2008 stipulated that the prior approval of my Department and the Department of Finance would be required in the event of any proposal to spend this money for any other purpose. Clearly, it is essential that the HSE lives within its overall budget for the year. It needs to manage its activity levels and cost drivers appropriately to achieve this and I do not believe it is desirable to resort to using development funding to offset expenditure pressures arising in respect of ongoing health services.

The HSE is currently reviewing its overall financial position for the year and the roll out of planned developments in disability services is being considered in that context. I have been in communication with the HSE with a view to an early determination on the matter. The HSE has informed my Department that it plans to release €20m of the €50m additional funding for Disability Services. The Deputy's detailed question also relates to the management and delivery of health and personal 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 Homes Repayment Scheme.

Joe Costello

Ceist:

156 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children the details of the overpayment to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 7; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24400/08]

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.

Health Services.

Catherine Byrne

Ceist:

157 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of funding her Department has provided for screening programmes for sudden adult death syndrome; the amount of funding assigned to the family screening clinic in the Mater Hospital; the plans she has to introduce further screening programmes to detect potentially fatal heart defects especially among young people; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24407/08]

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.

Mental Health Services.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

158 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the proposed cutbacks in the Mayo mental health services; the specific services that will be taken away; and if she will make funding available to stop these cutbacks from being implemented. [24412/08]

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 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 Waiting Lists.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

159 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the average length of time a person in County Mayo must wait to have an angiogram done in Galway; and the action that can be taken to try and speed this up. [24414/08]

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 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.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

160 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children if an angiogram facility will be provided at a location (details supplied) in County Mayo to ensure that all citizens are given equal access to this facility. [24415/08]

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 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.

Nursing Home Subventions.

Sean Sherlock

Ceist:

161 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children if, when a person who is eligible for subvention based partly on the value of their property seeks a review after 12 months with a view to seeking increased subvention, the HSE can take into account any deterioration or devaluation in the property when considering the review; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24525/08]

The legislation providing for the nursing home subvention scheme enables the HSE to undertake a review of a person's means on the same basis as the original financial assessment. In terms of the specific query raised by the Deputy, 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.

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

162 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children the plans she has to address the shortage of general practitioners in an area (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24526/08]

The key objective of the Primary Care Strategy is to give people direct access to integrated multidisciplinary teams of general practitioners, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, home helps and others. I have emphasised to the HSE the importance I attach to the continued development and roll-out of primary care teams and my Department will continue to monitor progress in this regard throughout the year. I am aware that there are plans at an advanced stage for the development of a new primary care centre in the location specified by the Deputy, which will provide a full range of services, including General Practitioner Services.

Under the Health Act 2004, the management and delivery of health and personal social services are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive. This includes operational responsibility for the selection of general practitioners to provide services under the General Medical Services Scheme and also the selection of locations for primary care teams. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to provide the Deputy with further information on primary care developments.

Hospitals Building Programme.

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

163 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children the cost to date of the proposed new national children’s hospital at the Mater Hospital site in Dublin; the expected final cost of the provision of this hospital with a breakdown of these costs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24527/08]

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

164 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children the expected closure dates of the paediatric hospitals in Tallaght and Crumlin; the process involved in these closures and in transferring services elsewhere; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24528/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 163 and 164 together.

The development of the National Paediatric Hospital is a priority project for the Government. The objective is to provide a world class specialist paediatric service for children in this country. The National Paediatric Hospital Development Board was established in May 2007. The Board has statutory responsibility for planning, designing, building, furnishing and equipping the new National Paediatric Hospital.

A number of key appointments are being progressed by the Board to progress the project to the next stage. A Medical Director has recently been appointed and the Board intends to appoint a Chief Officer and Finance Officer shortly. The Board is also in the process of procuring professional project management support services. Tenders for a Business Adviser Service are being evaluated while invitations to tender issued recently to short-listed candidates for Planning and Design support services (including architects, engineers etc.).

Following the recruitment of the support teams, a detailed Development Brief for the new hospital will be prepared. This is due for completion by the end of the 1st Quarter 2009. This will build on the extensive preparatory work already undertaken for the HSE by RKW, (a UK based health care company) which involved the preparation of a detailed High Level Framework Brief for the hospital. The Development Brief will be converted into a detailed design, outlining the exact dimensions and specifications for the new hospital, to allow the project proceed to tender for construction. A more accurate estimate of costs will be available at that point. The legal requirements for the transfer of the designated site for the new hospital to the HSE have been agreed.

The vast majority of children who presently attend the National Children Hospital's Emergency Department at Tallaght do not require admission and will continue to access their care locally at a major new Ambulatory Care Centre to be developed at the hospital. This will be the first such centre to be developed to support the National Paediatric Hospital. It has been estimated that when the Centre is developed it will cater for approximately 48,000 emergency attendances, 9,000 day cases and 58,000 out-patient attendances. The actual level of activity will depend on the number of such centres developed over time. My Department has asked the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to revert directly to the Deputy on the other issues raised by him.

Health Services.

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

165 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children the waiting lists for the provision of methadone in areas (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24529/08]

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.

Departmental Properties.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

166 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the amounts raised from the sale of properties (details supplied); the purpose to which the funds raised were put; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24534/08]

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 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.

Voluntary Sector Funding.

Dan Neville

Ceist:

167 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children if her Department will provide funding or assistance to an association (details supplied) in County Limerick; and the assistance available to the association recently set up in Limerick west. [24535/08]

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.

Food Safety.

Seamus Kirk

Ceist:

168 Deputy Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for Health and Children the studies carried out or that are to be undertaken in respect of energy drinks (details supplied) to determine if they have a negative impact on health; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24538/08]

I am taking the Deputy's reference to "energy drinks" to relate to "stimulant drinks". The Food Safety Promotion Board (FSPB) commissioned an independent, scientific research into the effects of stimulant ‘energy' drinks in 2002. One of the main issues to arise out of the report was the need for labelling of stimulant drinks, especially for groups with special considerations. The groups identified were women who are pregnant and children under 16 years of age. The report also recommended that labels should contain warnings that the drink was unsuitable for consumption with alcohol and as a re-hydration agent during sport and exercise.

Following this report, this Department wrote to the EU Commission proposing that ‘taurine' (an ingredient found in stimulant drinks) be made subject to Community scrutiny. This proposal was not supported by other Member States. Labelling legislation is harmonised throughout Europe and Ireland was not in a position to unilaterally change the labelling of drinks products. At the present time there is no European legislation to govern the marketing of stimulant drinks.

Medical Cards.

Sean Fleming

Ceist:

169 Deputy Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Health and Children the criteria for which people with long-term illnesses are granted medical cards; the basis on which decisions are made as to whether a medical card should be for 12 months, 18 months, three years and so on; the situation in respect of a family medical card; the criteria covering various lengths for which a medical card is issued; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24540/08]

Medical cards are made available by the Health Service Executive (HSE) to persons and their dependants who would otherwise experience undue hardship in meeting the cost of General Practitioner (GP) services. In general, eligibility for medical cards and GP visit cards is determined following an examination of the means of the applicant and his/her dependants (income and relevant outgoings). The main exception is persons aged 70 and over, who have an automatic statutory entitlement to a medical card.

The HSE has detailed operational guidelines in place for the assessment of medical card applications. I am informed that the guidelines include provisions dealing with medical card review dates and that the guiding principle is to set a date in each case at which an income/dependency change or other change could reasonably be expected to occur which would affect eligibility. The Executive has also indicated that such reviews are conducted in a manner that takes due account of the personal circumstances of the card holder and that arrangements are in place to limit the need for frequent reviews where a review would normally result in the renewal of the medical card.

Health Services.

Pat Breen

Ceist:

170 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children when persons (details supplied) in County Clare will be facilitated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24555/08]

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

Nursing Homes Repayment Scheme.

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

171 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Dublin, who is entitled to a repayment under the terms of the health repayment scheme, has not been granted same to date; if she will take steps to have this matter finalised without further delay; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24560/08]

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.

Health Schemes.

Liz McManus

Ceist:

172 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will ensure that Huntington’s disease is included in the long-term illness scheme in view of the hardship caused by its omission; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24607/08]

Under the 1970 Health Act, the Health Service Executive may arrange for the supply, without charge, of drugs, medicines and medical and surgical appliances to people with a specified condition, for the treatment of that condition, through the Long Term Illness Scheme (LTI). The conditions are: mental handicap, mental illness (for people under 16 only), phenylketonuria, cystic fibrosis, spina bifida, hydrocephalus, diabetes mellitus, diabetes insipidus, haemophilia, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophies, Parkinsonism, conditions arising from thalidomide and acute leukaemia. The LTI does not cover GP fees or hospital co-payments. There are currently no plans to extend the list of eligible conditions.

Products which are necessary for the management of the specified illness are available to LTI patients. Other products are available according to the patient's eligibility. People who cannot, without undue hardship, arrange for the provision of medical services for themselves and their dependants may be entitled to a medical card. In the assessment process, the Health Service Executive can take into account medical costs incurred by an individual or a family. Those who are not eligible for a medical card may still be able to avail of a GP visit card, which covers the cost of general practice consultations.

Non-medical card holders and people whose illness is not covered by the LTI can use the Drug Payment Scheme, which protects against excessive medicines costs. Under this scheme, no individual or family unit pays more than €90 per calendar month towards the cost of approved prescribed medicines. The scheme is easy to use and significantly reduces the cost burden for families and individuals incurring ongoing expenditure on medicines. In addition, non-reimbursed medical expenses above a set threshold may be offset against tax.

Hospital Services.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

173 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will receive an appointment date for an operation at Tallaght Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24657/08]

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.

Hospitals Building Programme.

Áine Brady

Ceist:

174 Deputy Áine Brady asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress with the planned next phase extension to Naas Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24663/08]

The Government's sustained high level of investment in health care has enabled the completion and commissioning of numerous new facilities in both the acute and the non-acute sectors. This year, overall capital funding of approximately €594m has been provided to the Health Service Executive. The HSE has submitted a draft Capital Plan covering the period 2008-2013 to my Department for consideration and approval in the normal way. This draft plan sets out the HSE's proposed short and longer term capital investment priorities and commitments. Consultation on this draft Capital Plan is ongoing between the HSE, the Department of Finance and my Department. The HSE has undertaken to provide additional clarification on its proposed capital developments and is currently engaged in this process. Details on individual projects will not be known until such time as the Capital Plan is approved.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Ned O'Keeffe

Ceist:

175 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children if an outpatient appointment will be arranged for a person (details supplied) in County Cork; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that this person is in great pain; and her views on having this person referred to the National Treatment Purchase Fund in view of the considerable time they have been waiting. [24671/08]

The management of out-patient waiting lists is a matter for the Health Service Executive and the individual hospitals concerned. 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.

Proposed Legislation.

Jimmy Deenihan

Ceist:

176 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Health and Children when the proposed Health Service Executive’s fair deal system regarding nursing home patients will be implemented; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24681/08]

Jimmy Deenihan

Ceist:

183 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Health and Children when the proposed Health Service Executive’s fair deal system regarding nursing home patients will be implemented; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24721/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 176 and 183 together.

The Bill providing for the Fair Deal scheme is being finalised by the Office of the Attorney General at present. The legislation is complex and requires careful drafting in order to ensure that the interests of older people requiring residential care are fully protected. 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. As the timeframe for bringing the legislation through both Houses is contingent upon finalisation of the Bill, a more definitive answer is not possible at this stage.

Nursing Homes Repayment Scheme.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

177 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the position of a claim under the health repayment scheme by a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24697/08]

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.

Hospital Staff.

Michael Creed

Ceist:

178 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health and Children if a third consultant surgeon has been appointed on a permanent basis to Mallow General Hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24699/08]

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.

Health Services.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

179 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will investigate the case of a child (details supplied) in Dublin 11; and the steps the Health Service Executive is taking to ensure that there are adequate occupational therapy services available to this child while attending a psychological service. [24709/08]

The Deputy's question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal 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.

Nursing Homes Repayment Scheme.

Mary Upton

Ceist:

180 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will investigate the case of a person (details supplied); when this payment will be made; if a patient in long-stay care should receive some of their pension payment to cover personal expenses; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24715/08]

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.

Health Services.

Pat Breen

Ceist:

181 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Clare will be facilitated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24716/08]

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

Services for People with Disabilities.

James Reilly

Ceist:

182 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will report on the continuing availability of services to a child (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24717/08]

The 2008 Service Plan, developed by the HSE and approved by my Department, included €50m for the development of additional disability services. The standard expenditure sanction issued to the HSE for 2008 stipulated that the prior approval of my Department and the Department of Finance would be required in the event of any proposal to spend this money for any other purpose. Clearly, it is essential that the HSE lives within its overall budget for the year. It needs to manage its activity levels and cost drivers appropriately to achieve this and I do not believe it is desirable to resort to using development funding to offset expenditure pressures arising in respect of ongoing health services. The HSE is currently reviewing its overall financial position for the year and the roll-out of planned developments in disability services is being considered in that context. I have been in communication with the HSE with a view to an early determination on the matter.

The Deputy's specific question relates to the management and delivery of health and personal 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. 183 answered with Question No. 176.

Hospitals Building Programme.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

184 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 419 of 26 September 2007, when the 34-bed unit will be built at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin, for the treatment of cystic fibrosis; the reason the Health Service Executive is refusing to answer this specific request for an update; her views on whether such a practice by the HSE is acceptable; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24726/08]

I identified the need to improve services for persons with cystic fibrosis as a priority in the Estimates process over recent years. Since 2006, additional revenue funding of €6.78m has been allocated to the HSE to develop services for patients with cystic fibrosis. The HSE has advised that 44 additional staff dealing with cystic fibrosis have been appointed to date across a number of hospitals, including St Vincent's, Beaumont, Temple Street, Crumlin, Tallaght, Cork University Hospital, Galway, Limerick and Waterford. The necessary funding is available to facilitate the recruitment of a further 37 staff nationally. I asked the HSE to place a particular focus on the development of services at St. Vincent's Hospital, the National Adult Tertiary Centre for the treatment of persons with cystic fibrosis, where concerns had been raised regarding the need to improve facilities. A number of capital projects have been completed at the hospital and further developments are in progress.

In the longer term, a new ward block is to be built at St. Vincent's which will include 120 replacement beds in single en-suite accommodation. The new facility will accommodate cystic fibrosis patients and will include appropriate isolation facilities. The HSE advises that planning permission has been obtained, financial provision has been included in the HSE Capital Plan and the contract is to be awarded in 2008. It will be a condition of the contract that the design build period be no more than 24 months from the date of contract award.

In the interim, work is under way on the refurbishment of accommodation to provide eight single en-suite rooms for patients with cystic fibrosis. The HSE expects that these beds will be operational from the end of July. On completion of this first phase, work will commence to further increase the number of single rooms for patients with cystic fibrosis. My Department has received a copy of the response by the Executive to the Deputy which issued on 10th October 2007.

Primary Care Strategy.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

185 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children the capital cost and the recurring cost associated with the establishment of the primary care teams which have been established to date. [24777/08]

Under the Health Act 2004, the management and delivery of health and personal social services is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive. This includes operational responsibility for the establishment of Primary Care Teams. 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.

Mental Health Services.

David Stanton

Ceist:

186 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of people with intellectual disabilities who have been transferred out of psychiatric wards and other inappropriate settings in 2007 and to date in 2008; the number of people with intellectual disabilities who continue to be accommodated in inappropriate settings; when she expects the process of transferring all people with intellectual disabilities to more suitable and appropriate care locations to be completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24809/08]

The National Intellectual Disability Database (NIDD) report for 2007 identified 329 individuals with intellectual disability, all aged 20 years or over, as being accommodated in psychiatric hospitals. It should be noted that registration on the NIDD is voluntary. An integral part of the National Disability Strategy is the Multi-Annual Investment Programme, (MAIP), announced in the 2005 Budget, which provides €900m for the provision of specific high priority disability services over the period 2006 to 2009. MAIP commitments include the development of new residential, respite and day places for persons with intellectual disability and autism in each of the years covered by the programme as well as the transfer of persons with intellectual disability or autism from psychiatric hospitals and other inappropriate placements.

The Deputy's specific question in relation to the progress and details of the programme to move those individuals to more appropriate accommodation, relate to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have these matters investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Question No. 187 answered with Question No. 137.

Departmental Research.

David Stanton

Ceist:

188 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children if the Office of the Minister for Children has begun a study of the extent to which children undertake inappropriate care roles in order to establish the extent and degree to which this issue arises and the level of impact it has on the lives of the children concerned as per the commitment in Towards 2016; when this study is due to be completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24811/08]

The Deputy might wish to note that the closing date for receipt of proposals to undertake this research was 4th June 2008. Following the evaluation of these proposals, which will take place at the end of June 2008, it is hoped that a contract can be awarded to undertake this research.

Services for People with Disabilities.

David Stanton

Ceist:

189 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress that the working group on rehabilitation services in the Health Service Executive has made in the development of a strategic plan for regional rehabilitation services; the discussions or meetings her Department has had with the HSE in relation to same; when she expects the working group and her Department to be in a position to develop and implement a policy in this regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24812/08]

The proposed National Strategy for the Provision of Rehabilitation Services is currently in the early stages of development by the Department of Health and Children and HSE. To date a number of planning meetings have been held between the Department and the HSE with the first Working Group meeting due to take place in July. It is expected that the Strategy will:

Define the scope of rehabilitation services

Research best practice approaches to rehabilitation services

Assess the need of the population

Outline a model of service delivery that will encompass all stages of service required to meet the needs of service users

Recommend a framework that will ensure that service developments are within an agreed national framework with common principles

Develop an approach in line with the transformation of HSE services toward increased delivery at primary care level.

The strategy will focus on the service provision needs of the following categories:

Static and progressive neurological conditions;

Traumatic and non-traumatic brain injury; and

Other physically disabling conditions who may benefit from medical, psychological or social rehabilitation service provision.

It is anticipated that the Working Group will complete its work by the end of the year.

Hospital Accommodation.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

190 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a full reply will issue on foot of the reply to Parliamentary Question No. 106 of 5 June 2008; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24830/08]

My Department has been informed by the Health Service Executive that a reply to the Deputy's question of the 5 June 2008 issued directly to him dated 9 June 2008.

Medical Cards.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

191 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a medical card will issue to persons (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24831/08]

As the Health Service Executive has the operational and funding responsibility for the medical card benefit, 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.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

192 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a medical card will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24832/08]

As the Health Service Executive has the operational and funding responsibility for the medical card benefit, 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.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

193 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will respond to a matter (details supplied). [24836/08]

As the Deputy is aware the education of a child, irrespective of their disability, is a matter for my colleague the Minister for Education and Science. Where applicable, the Health Service Executive supply support services to enable the particular person to avail fully of the educational system being offered. With regard to a matter raised by the Deputy in paragraph one of details supplied, information pertaining to diagnosis is specifically excluded from the National Intellectual Disability Database as the database is not designed as a medical epidemiological tool. Accordingly the database does not record the incidence of autism or any other disability.

My Department and the HSE are committed to reviewing existing information systems within the disability services, including the databases, in order to provide the most effective method of collecting data to meet the requirements of the Disability Act, 2005 and for the purposes of planning services to meet the needs of people with a disability. With regard to the remaining matters raised by the Deputy in details supplied, these relate to the management and delivery of health and personal 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.

State Airports.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

194 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Transport if he will examine a matter (details supplied). [24780/08]

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), which is responsible for air traffic control in this country, has informed my Department that no aircraft filed a flight plan from Shannon to or from Guantanamo Bay Cuba on the 18th June 2008. Furthermore Shannon Airport has informed my Department that it does not have a "Pier 54" at the Airport.

Public Transport.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Ceist:

195 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for Transport the progress made in putting in place alternative forms of support for public transport services to replace the excise duty relief which will end on 31 October 2008; the alternatives currently under consideration; when he expects to announce the details of the alternative scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24271/08]

Andrew Doyle

Ceist:

205 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Transport the action being taken to address the issue of the alternative programme to replace the excise duty refund to public transport operators (details supplied). [24411/08]

John O'Mahony

Ceist:

206 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Transport the alternative mechanisms being put in place to replace the excise duty refund for public transport services which is being terminated on 31 October 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24435/08]

Olivia Mitchell

Ceist:

207 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Transport the alternative to the excise refund on diesel planned to help public transport providers (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24436/08]

Joe Carey

Ceist:

209 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Transport the measures in place or proposed to be put in place to replace the imminent abolition of the excise duty refund for public transport services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24680/08]

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

210 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Transport if an alternative mechanism has been developed and confirmed as feasible to substitute for the loss in the excise duty refund for public transport services; if he has assessed the merits of a proposal put forward by the Coach Tourism and Transport Council, which develops a scheme promoting positive gains in CO2 emissions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24779/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 195, 205 to 207, inclusive, 209 and 210 together.

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 Atha 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 to date refused all such requests. The Finance Act 2008 provided the basis for the removal of these excise duty reliefs with effect from 1 November 2008.

My Department, in conjunction with the Department of Finance and other Departments, has been exploring whether alternative support mechanisms could be appropriate and could be done in a manner compatible with EU State Aid and other legal requirements. My Department has also met the Coach Tourism and Transport Council, as well as CIE, on this matter. My Department has also received a written submission from the Coach Tourism and Transport Council. While my Department is in discussion with the Department of Finance on these issues, it is necessary to stress that, despite claims being made otherwise, introducing an alternative suitable mechanism is not a straightforward matter in the current economic climate.

Pat Breen

Ceist:

196 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Transport if he will change the hours of operation of the Ennis town bus service (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24273/08]

The bus operator referred to by the Deputy was granted an Annual Passenger licence for the provision of passenger services in Ennis town, on 29th January 2008. An application to amend this licence was received by my Department on 19 June 2008, and is currently being processed.

Pat Breen

Ceist:

197 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Transport when a licence will issue to a company (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24274/08]

Bus Éireann currently operates a service between Limerick and Shannon Airport, which serves Bunratty and Sixmilebridge. Having regard to the provisions of Section 11 of the 1932 Act, my Department has refused an application from the bus operator referred to by the Deputy for a service from Sixmilebridge to Shannon Airport via Bunratty, because of the presence of the existing passenger services on the route. The application was refused on 30 July 2007. The operator was given 21 days to lodge an appeal against my Department's decision. As my Department received no appeal, the case was closed.

Official Engagements.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

198 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Transport if, during his meeting on 16 January 2006 with representatives of Singapore Civil Aviation Authority, he raised concerns relating to the human rights situation in Singapore; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24286/08]

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

199 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Transport if, during his meeting on 17 January 2006 with Singapore International Airlines, he raised concerns relating to the human rights situation in Singapore; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24287/08]

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

200 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Transport if, during his meeting on 18 January 2006 with the Thai Minister for Transport, he raised concerns relating to the human rights situation in Thailand; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24288/08]

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

201 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Transport if, during his meeting on 30 March 2006 with the representatives of the Chinese Civil Aviation Authority, he raised concerns relating to the human rights situation in China; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24289/08]

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

202 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Transport if, during his meeting on 15 January 2008 with the Iranian Ambassador to Ireland, he raised concerns relating to the human rights situation in Iran; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24290/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 198 to 202, inclusive, together.

Human rights issues were not part of the agenda in any of the meetings identified by the Deputy.

Vessel Inspections.

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

203 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport the number of Irish and foreign registered vessels inspected in Irish waters each year since 2004 to date in 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24338/08]

The number of inspections carried out on foreign flag merchant ships visiting Irish ports (Port State Control) under the Paris Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control and EU Directive 93/21, as amended, is as follows:

In 2004, a total of 411 inspections were carried out.

In 2005, a total of 422 inspections were completed.

In 2006, a total of 440 inspections were completed.

In 2007, a total of 410 inspections were completed.

For the current year, 177 inspections had been completed by May 31st and it is expected that in excess of 400 inspections will have been completed before the end of the year.

With regard to the inspection of "in service" Irish flag vessels engaged in international trade, the Marine Survey Office carry out surveys in connection with a vessel's Cargo Ship Safety Certificate. During these surveys, which can take place in Ireland or whilst the vessel is in a foreign port, a general inspection of the vessel is normally undertaken.

In 2004 the number of Cargo Ship Safety Surveys undertaken was 27

In 2005 the number of Cargo Ship Safety Surveys undertaken was 39.

In 2006 the number of Cargo Ship Safety Surveys undertaken was 14

In 2007 the number of Cargo Ship Safety Surveys undertaken was 26.

For the current year, 16 Cargo Ship Safety Surveys have been completed to date.

Driving Licences.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

204 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Transport if he has fulfilled the criteria he set out before the introduction of the order enforcing provisional drivers being accompanied; if a date has been set for the order to be introduced; when the enforcement initiative by the Garda will commence; and the details of its plan. [24342/08]

The regulations introducing changes to driver licensing including the removal of the concession whereby a holder of a second provisional licence may drive unaccompanied were made in October 2007. I confirm that, with effect from 30 June 2008, all holders of provisional licences or learner permits must be accompanied by a person who holds a full driving licence for at least two years.

Following on the changes to the driver licensing laws for learner drivers in October 2007, both I and the Road Safety Authority confirmed that all 122,000 applicants on the waiting list at the end of October 2007 would be tested by March 2008 and that by the end of June 2008 all applicants for a driving test would be able to get a test on demand, that is within a 10 week period. The commitment for March 2008 was met and the Road Safety Authority is confident that the second commitment will also be met. Enforcement of driver licensing regulations is a matter for the Garda Síochána.

Questions Nos. 205 to 207, inclusive, answered with Question No. 195.

Rail Network.

Ciarán Cuffe

Ceist:

208 Deputy Ciarán Cuffe asked the Minister for Transport if he will provide details on the feasibility study for phase 2 of the Navan rail line; the expected time-scale for results of the study; and the expected date to begin planning. [24550/08]

Transport 21 provides, subject to compliance with the capital investment appraisal guidelines, for the construction of Phase 2 of the Navan Rail Line by 2015. The detailed planning and design of the project is a matter for Iarnród Éireann. I understand from Iarnród Eireann that the company is now proceeding, following completion of a scoping study, with the detailed feasibility study necessary for the determination of the final route and that this will be completed by April of next year.

Questions Nos. 209 and 210 answered with Question No. 195.

Decentralisation Programme.

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

211 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Transport the position regarding progress and future plans on the decentralisation programme in respect of Drogheda. [24937/08]

As part of the Efficiency Review announced by the Minister for Finance last December, my Department reviewed proposals to locate 37 posts in Drogheda and concluded that decentralising accident investigation and certain other safety functions to bring the numbers up to the total requirement of 37 for Drogheda offers very good potential for operational efficiencies, the exploitation of synergies and value for money. With that in mind, I decided that the Air Accident Investigation Unit of my Department, the Railway Accident Investigation Unit within the Railway Safety Commission, and the Marine Casualty Investigation Board should be located together. The Government has recently accepted, as part of its decentralisation programme, that Drogheda should be the location for these functions. The immediate priority is to secure a suitable location, and this work is being undertaken by the Office of Public Works.

Official Engagements.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

212 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if, during An Taoiseach’s meeting of 18 January 2005 with the President, Premier, and Minister of Commerce of China, he raised concerns relating to the human rights situation in China; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24291/08]

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

213 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if, during An Taoiseach’s meeting of 16 February 2005 with Prime Minister Bethuel Pakalitha Mosislli of the Kingdom of Lesotho, he raised concerns relating to the human rights situation in Lesotho; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24292/08]

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

214 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if, during An Taoiseach’s meeting of 9 May 2005 with Russian President Vladimir Putin, he raised concerns relating to the human rights situation in Russia; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24293/08]

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

215 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if, during An Taoiseach’s meeting of 26 September 2006 with Vice Premier Zeng of China, he raised concerns relating to the human rights situation in China; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24294/08]

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

216 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if, during An Taoiseach’s meeting of 7 December 2006 with President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, he raised concerns relating to the human rights situation in Egypt; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24295/08]

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

217 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if, during An Taoiseach’s meeting of 16 January 2007 with King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia, he raised concerns relating to the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24296/08]

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

218 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if, during An Taoiseach’s meeting of 15 January 2008 with President Kikwete and Prime Minister Lowassa of Tanzania, he raised concerns relating to the human rights situation in Tanzania; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24297/08]

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

219 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if, during An Taoiseach’s meeting of 18 February 2008 with Prince Faisal of Saudi Arabia, he raised concerns relating to the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24298/08]

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

220 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if, during An Taoiseach’s meeting of 10 March 2008 with Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung of Vietnam, he raised concerns relating to the human rights situation in Vietnam; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24299/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 212 to 220, inclusive, together.

Human rights are, and have always been, a priority of successive Governments and central to our foreign policy. Together with our EU partners, the Government monitors the human rights situations in many countries, on the basis of information obtained from a variety of sources including non-governmental organisations. Where the situation warrants, we make known our concerns about human rights violations to the Governments in question, either bilaterally, including in high-level meetings, through the EU which has an active human rights dialogue with many countries, or through action at the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council.

While I did not hold the office of Minister for Foreign Affairs on the dates in question, I can confirm that a broad range of international issues including human rights matters was discussed at the meetings between the former Taoiseach, Mr Bertie Ahern, T.D., and the Heads of State and Government and other office-holders referred to in the Deputy's Questions.

Foreign Conflicts.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

221 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the plans he has to highlight the need for action to be taken at UN level on the crisis in Somalia; and the further steps he will take to ensure that aid reaches the Somalian people. [24394/08]

The humanitarian situation across Somalia remains grave, particularly in and around Mogadishu and I remain deeply concerned for the safety and well-being of Somalis and the aid community seeking to assist them. In what was already a precarious environment for humanitarian agencies, security and access have deteriorated even further in 2008. Security issues for those seeking to deliver relief in Somalia include random violence, piracy, kidnapping threats, the non-discriminating scourge of landmines and general banditry.

In view of these circumstances, Ireland has made substantial efforts to raise the crisis in Somalia at the UN level. I have closely followed the UN Security Council work on Somalia and my officials have raised the Somali situation with UN partners at every opportunity. I welcome the recent Djibouti Agreement, brokered by the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Somalia, but many armed groups remain outside the process. My officials will continue to raise the situation in Somalia in the appropriate fora, including in our bilateral consultations with UN agencies.

At the European level, recent Conclusions adopted by my colleagues and I on the General Affairs and External Relations Council of the EU called for unimpeded humanitarian access for relief agencies in Somalia and urged all parties to comply fully with international humanitarian law. The EU, including Ireland, will continue to extend whatever assistance it can to support the promotion of internal dialogue and national reconciliation within Somalia.

Ireland's commitment to the ongoing crisis in Somalia is demonstrated by our status as the seventh largest bilateral contributor to humanitarian endeavour in Somalia in 2007 when we provided funding of over €7 million. In response to the 2008 United Nations appeal for Somalia, funding of €3.1million has been provided to key UN humanitarian agencies in support of food security, health, shelter and coordination. In addition, €550,000 has been provided for HALO Trust's de-mining operations in Somaliland and €350,000 to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) for basic health care in the Glacayo region, giving a total commitment in 2008 to date of €4,000,000. Additionally, our commitment has been complemented by three successive deployments of members of the Rapid Response Corps to assist UNHCR with their work for Somalia. We continue to monitor the humanitarian situation closely.

Human Rights Issues.

Lucinda Creighton

Ceist:

222 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if a person (details supplied) is being detained in Iraq; the actions being taken on behalf of this person; if representations have been made to the US or Iraqi Governments to protect their human rights; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24408/08]

As the Deputy may be aware, my Department strongly advises Irish citizens to avoid all travel to Iraq given the extremely unstable political and security situation in the country. Those in Iraq are urged to leave. This advice is provided on our website, www.dfa.ie, and is updated on a regular basis. Despite this clear advice, I understand the person referred to by the Deputy travelled to Iraq earlier this year to visit relatives. He was taken into custody by the Multi National Forces in Baghdad on 20 May and is being held for suspected terrorist related offences.

Since first being made aware of the case on 24 May, my Department has been in regular contact with the family in Ireland. My officials have also sought information on the case from the United States Embassy in Dublin. Our Embassy in Cairo has also made enquiries on behalf of the family with the British Embassy in Baghdad. My Department has kept the family fully informed of all the information we have received to date in relation to the case. In addition to being an Irish citizen and passport holder, I understand that the person referred to by the Deputy was born in Iraq and may be considered by the authorities there to be an Iraqi citizen, as well as having Irish nationality. While this dual status complicates our official representations, my Department will continue to monitor the case and to keep the family informed of developments.

Consular Services.

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

223 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the action he and the Irish Consulate in Chicago have taken in connection with the case of a person (details supplied); the details of the case; the expected date when this person can return to Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24552/08]

My Department, through our Consulates in New York and Chicago, have provided extensive consular assistance to the person referred to by the Deputy. The person concerned travelled to the United States in October 2007 on a six-month working visa. In April of this year, he served a fifteen day prison sentence in Florida for driving related offences. My Department made clear to the person that he would be out of status if he remained in the US beyond 30 April — the date of his visa's expiration. However, following his release from prison on 22 April, he chose to remain in the US and was detained by US immigration authorities in early May. He was held in Raymondville, Texas and was deported from the US on 23 June.

Throughout this process, my Department maintained close contact with the person and his family. We highlighted our interest in the case to the appropriate US authorities, ensured that the family's concerns regarding his welfare were brought to the attention of the authorities and that he had access to legal representation.

Foreign Conflicts.

Seán Barrett

Ceist:

224 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the steps he will take to protect the people of Somalia from displacement, deprivation, widespread human rights abuses and the threat of imminent famine; if he will press for a lasting solution to the conflict there; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24719/08]

The humanitarian situation across Somalia remains grave and I remain deeply concerned for the safety and well-being of Somalis and the aid community seeking to assist them. In what was already a precarious environment for humanitarian agencies, security and access have deteriorated even further in 2008. Obstacles to those seeking to deliver relief in Somalia include random violence, piracy, kidnapping threats, landmines and general banditry. In addition, taxes are imposed by some members of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) on the distribution of relief goods.

The newly appointed Prime Minister in the TFG, Nur Hassan Hussein, has committed himself to internal dialogue and pursuing a reconciliation process with the political opposition. Contacts were initiated with members of the opposition based in Asmara, and talks, facilitated by the Special Representative of UN Secretary General, Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, between the Transitional Federal Government and opposition groups got under way in Djibouti in late May. The TFG and the opposition Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS) signed an agreement on 9 June, calling for a cessation of hostilities between the two sides, and the eventual withdrawal of Ethiopian troops from Somalia and the deployment of a UN force.

The Djibouti agreement is good news, but many armed groups remain outside the process. Re-establishing security and the rule of law remains a major challenge. The security situation in Moghadishu and surrounding areas remains extremely poor, with further large-scale civilian casualties as a result of fighting between government and Ethiopian forces and opposition militias in recent weeks.

The humanitarian situation in Somalia has further deteriorated in the year due to lower than expected rainfall during the 2007 rainy season, which has led to a deepening drought in several regions of the country, particularly in most of the central regions and parts of the North East and South. The total rainfall was insufficient to replenish water sources, regenerate pasture, and for rain-fed crop development. These areas are already witnessing abnormal livestock migration, which is adding pressure to rangeland and water resources. The combined effects of poor rains, conflict and displacement have severely exacerbated the food security situation and caused an alarming rise in acute malnutrition rates, particularly in regions that absorbed large numbers of conflict-related internally displaced persons.

Ireland's commitment to the ongoing crisis in Somalia is demonstrated by our status as the seventh largest bilateral contributor to humanitarian endeavours in Somalia in 2007. Ireland has spent more than €15.5 million on humanitarian aid to Somalia since 2006. Additionally, our commitment has been complemented by three successive deployments of members of the Rapid Response Corps to assist the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees with its work in Somalia.

Middle East Peace Process.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

225 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the details of the upgrade in EU-Israel relations that was agreed at the EU-Israel Association Council meeting on 16 June 2008; if he will explain Ireland’s position on same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24728/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

226 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he received representations from the Prime Minister of Palestine, Salim Fayyad, requesting that the EU-Israel relations not be upgraded at this time; and if he will publish the terms of the Government’s reply. [24729/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

227 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if Ireland is committed to the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions, in particular those which Israel has failed to implement (details supplied); and, if so, the action he is taking to secure their implementation. [24730/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

228 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if Ireland is committed to the reopening of the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza and that the crossing will not be controlled by the Israelis, as promised by Javier Solana on behalf of the EU when the Agreement on Movement and Access was signed in November 2005; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24731/08]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

229 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if, in view of the his statement to Dáil Éireann on 11 March 2008 that Israel’s action in Gaza constitutes collective punishment and is illegal under international humanitarian law, he will confirm that by taking this action Israel is in breach of Article 2 of the Euro-Med Agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24732/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 225 to 229, inclusive, together.

The Government has been very seriously concerned about the humanitarian and security situation in Gaza and the West Bank. We have consistently called for an end to the isolation of the people of Gaza, the re-opening of crossing points for people and goods and the lifting of restrictions on the movement of Palestinians in the West Bank. We have also called for decisive action by the Israeli Government to demonstrate a genuine commitment to a freeze on all settlement construction on occupied land. We and our EU partners are deeply concerned about a series of decisions in recent months authorising the construction of large numbers of new housing units in settlements in and around Jerusalem. Ireland has worked with other Member States to ensure that the EU has conveyed its concerns about settlement expansion directly to the Israeli Government at every opportunity, including at the most recent meeting of the EU-Israel Association Council in Luxembourg on 16 June. The EU position is very clear. Settlement expansion anywhere in the Occupied Territories, including East Jerusalem, is illegal under international law. It also prejudges the outcome of final status negotiations and threatens the viability of an agreed two-State solution.

There has been growing concern internationally that events on the ground will undermine the prospects for political progress, despite the determination of the Israeli Prime Minister and the Palestinian President to press ahead with their negotiations towards a final status agreement by the end of 2008. I have already expressed the Government's strong welcome for the ceasefire in Gaza, which was brokered by the Egyptian Government, and which came into effect on 19 June. I hope that developments in the weeks ahead will contribute to a new momentum in the political process.

We have been calling for an urgent end to all violence in and from the Occupied Territories, including Palestinian rocket attacks and Israeli military operations. I am therefore encouraged by the courageous move by Israel and the Palestinians to try to end the violence in Gaza and Southern Israel. All sides must be assured of the full support of the international community in implementing and developing the initial agreement. Sensitive efforts will be required to reach agreement on the re-opening of crossing points and on future prisoner and hostage releases. The EU will give every possible support to the process. It has already stated that it is ready to resume the border assistance mission at the Rafah crossing-point in the event of agreement between Israel, the Palestinians and Egypt. The mission was established under the Agreement on Movement and Access brokered by the EU and the US between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in November 2005.

The Government has worked with our partners to strengthen the political role of the EU in the promotion of a negotiated two-State solution. The agreement at the EU-Israel Association Council on 16 June to upgrade relations with Israel was placed firmly in this context. It also comes on the completion of the first EU-Israel Action Plan under the European Neighbourhood Policy. I hope that similar progress will be possible with other ENP partners as they complete their Action Plans with the EU. The precise elements of the upgrading will be discussed with Israel in the months ahead. They will include intensified political and human rights discussions. The EU stated clearly at the Association Council that they will also imply a stronger EU involvement in the peace process and in the monitoring of the situation on the ground.

The Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority wrote to all EU Heads of State and Government in advance of the decision to outline his reservations about any upgrading of relations in the current political context. I welcome the fact that he did so. The Government believes that the peace process must remain at the heart of the EU's relations with Israel and the Palestinians. Ireland played a crucial role within the EU in ensuring that Prime Minister Fayyad's concerns were clearly addressed in the Statement by the EU at the Association Council, which was approved by the General Affairs and External Relations Council on 16 June.

EU Funding.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

230 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if applications have been made for funding from the European Globalisation Fund; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24267/08]

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

231 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if her Department is equipped to produce the statistics required that would enable an application to be made for funding under the European Globalisation Fund; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24268/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 230 and 231 together.

My Department is keeping the possibility of making an application to the European Globalisation Fund under review. This involves the monitoring of available redundancy data for Ireland and assessing whether the necessary criteria of the European Globalisation Fund have been met. In addition, an application to the European Globalisation Fund must contain detailed statistics relating to world trade patterns, their impact on EU market share and how changing trade patterns are affecting the relevant economic sector in the EU. Such statistics are compiled at European level and are available to my Department in the event that an application to the European Globalisation Fund arises.

Departmental Correspondence.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

232 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will reconcile the apparent contradiction between her reply to Parliamentary Question No. 286 of 20 May 2008 in which she states she discussed the matter of FÁS advertising, specifically the case raised in the question and in the recent Comptroller and Auditor General report, with the director general of FÁS but a freedom of information request to her Department dated 29 May 2008 (details supplied) produced no documentation of contact between her office or Department to FÁS regarding this matter and her Department had no documentation in the form of communication, reports or memos; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24561/08]

The facts as stated in my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 286 of 20 May 2008 are accurate. I have asked officials in my Department to review the Freedom of Information request referred to by the Deputy and they will contact the Deputy on this matter in the near future.

Criminal Prosecutions.

David Stanton

Ceist:

233 Deputy David Stanton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she is satisfied with the measures and resources in place to detect and prosecute white collar crime; her plans to further reinforce the role of the State in this regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24814/08]

A number of measures have been introduced in recent years to further strengthen the legislative framework and resources to detect and prosecute breaches of company and competition legislation. Alongside other measures contained in the Companies Act that regulate the activities of companies, recent protections against market abuse including "insider dealing" were introduced by the Market Abuse (Directive 2003/6/EC) Regulations in 2005. These Regulations introduced more demanding insider dealing provisions and brought a new specific offence of market manipulation into Irish law. The Regulations substantially broadened the range of financial instruments covered by legislation and designated the Financial Regulator as the competent authority for purposes of ensuring compliance. In addition to criminal and civil sanctions, the legislation also provided for administrative sanctions to be applied.

In relation to detection and enforcement of general company law the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) is the primary agency. The Deputy may be aware that, following a request from the Director of Corporate Enforcement, the approved Departmental staff of the ODCE was increased from 30 to 38 in 2007. In addition, approved Garda staff numbers were also increased by one in 2007 bringing the total approved staffing complement of the ODCE to 46 posts. The Director indicated in late 2007 that having integrated these additional staff, he would review his request for further extra staff at the end of the 2008 and advise my Department at that stage of the results of that review.

The Competition Act 2002 consolidated, reformed and modernised previous legislation relating to competition policy and merger control. The Act also enhanced the independence of the Competition Authority, which is the statutory agency responsible for the enforcement of competition law, and increased the penalties for serious anti-competitive activities.

Cartels are another example of white-collar crime. The focus of the Authority's Cartels Division is to investigate hard-core cartels that include price-fixing, bid-rigging and market allocation among competitors. Additional resources provided to the Authority during 2006 specifically for its cartel enforcement work has increased the Authority's capacity to investigate and prosecute serious breaches of competition law. As a result of the additional powers and resources of the Authority, to date 20 criminal convictions have been secured for breach of competition law, including the first criminal conviction on indictment in Ireland and Europe. Further proceedings have been initiated against a number of cartel members in the motor vehicle industry and these are expected to come to trial in due course. As part of the ongoing review of the Competition Act 2002, the investigative and enforcement powers of the Authority will be examined and if considered appropriate, further enhanced.

Sport and Recreational Development.

Mary Upton

Ceist:

234 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism his views on participation in sport here in view of the sporting lives report issued by the ERSI; his further views on the need to shift the emphasis of Government funding for sports towards promotion, increasing access, particularly in respect of children and those from socially disadvantaged areas, and funding more sports development officers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24586/08]

I would refer the Deputy to my reply to PQ 75 which I answered today.

Sports Capital Programme.

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

235 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the position in relation to the 2008 sports capital programme; the overall financial envelope available; and when it is intended to announce the allocations. [24320/08]

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

236 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the budget available under the sports capital grant programme 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24345/08]

Deirdre Clune

Ceist:

239 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism when he expects to allocate funding under the sports capital programme 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24696/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 235, 236 and 239 together.

Under the sports capital programme, which is administered by the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism, funding is allocated to sporting and community organisations at local, regional and national level throughout the country. Applications for funding under the 2008 programme were invited through advertisements in the Press on 13th and 14th of January and the deadline for receipt of applications was 29th February for paper-based applications and 7th March for on-line applications. All applications received before the deadline are currently being 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. I have not yet made a final decision as to the level of allocations to be made under this year's programme.

Alan Shatter

Ceist:

237 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he will confirm that he has received an application from a club (details supplied) in County Dublin, for funding under the 2008 sports capital programme to upgrade and modernise its facilities; if he will grant the request; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24553/08]

Under the sports capital programme, which is administered by the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism, funding is allocated to sporting and community organisations at local, regional and national level throughout the country. Applications for funding under the 2008 programme were invited through advertisements in the Press on 13th and 14th of January and the deadline for receipt of applications was 29th February for paper-based applications and 7th March for on-line applications. All applications received before the deadline, including one from the organisation in question, are currently being 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.

Swimming Pool Projects.

David Stanton

Ceist:

238 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism when he will launch a new round of funding under the local authority swimming pool programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24605/08]

A sum of €184m has been provided in the National Development Plan 2007-2013 for supporting existing projects in the Local Authority Swimming Pool Programme and for new projects to be selected following the launch of a new round of the Programme. The terms and conditions of a new round will be devised taking into account the recommendations of the Value for Money and Policy Review report on the existing Programme which has been completed by my Department and which will be published shortly. The launch of the new programme will be a matter for discussion as part of the Estimates process which will start shortly between this Department and the Department of Finance.

Question No. 239 answered with Question No. 235.

National Museum.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

240 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the extent to which available museum space throughout the country is sufficient to accommodate the display of all items of historical significance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24817/08]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

241 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the number of items of historical significance discovered or made available to the National Museum in each of the past five years; if all such items are on display, locally or nationally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24818/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 240 and 241 together.

The National Museum of Ireland is the only museum displaying historical artefacts which is under the aegis of my Department. Since the National Museum of Ireland became an autonomous statutory body under the National Cultural Institutions Act, 1997 on 3rd May 2005, the Board of the National Museum is statutorily responsible for all operational matters concerning its collection. Therefore the acquisition and display of artefacts by the National Museum of Ireland is a matter for that institution and I have requested the National Museum of Ireland to respond directly to the Deputy

National Gallery.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

242 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the extent to which paintings or other works of art have been acquired for or by the National Gallery in each of the past five years, whether on loan or otherwise; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24819/08]

The National Gallery of Ireland is an autonomous statutory body. The Board of Governors and Guardians of the National Gallery is statutorily responsible for operational matters concerning its collection.

Arts Funding.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

243 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the extent to which he expects to make funds available to the various relevant bodies or agencies to provide extra display space for various objet d’art; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24820/08]

I refer the Deputy to the Revised Estimates for Public Services 2008, and in particular to Vote 33 — pages 154 to 155, and to Vote 35 — pages 164 to 169.

Sports Capital Programme.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

244 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he will give favourable consideration to offering grant aid from the proceeds of the national lottery or otherwise to a club (details supplied) in County Kildare in respect of specific proposals including provision of an astro-turf playing surface; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24821/08]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

245 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if his attention has been drawn to the significant social, cultural and sporting role of a club (details supplied) in County Kildare throughout the Leinster region; the extent to which he has received applications for grant aid towards the development of further facilities at the club; his intention to meet these requirements in 2008 or thereafter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24822/08]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

246 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the number and location of applications for grant aid received in his Department from various sporting or community groups throughout County Kildare in the past 12 months; the extent to which he expects to be in a position to respond favourably to such applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24823/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 244 to 246, inclusive, together.

Under the Sports Capital Programme, which is administered by the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism, funding is allocated to sporting and community organisations at local, regional and national level throughout the country. Applications for funding under the 2008 Programme were invited through advertisements in the Press on 13th and 14th of January and the deadline for receipt of applications was 29th February for paper-based applications and 7th March for on-line applications. All applications received before the deadline, including those from the organisations in question, are currently being evaluated against the Programme's assessment criteria, which are outlined in the guidelines, terms and conditions of the programme.

In this regard, forty-four applications have been received in total from Kildare requesting grant aid under the Sports Capital Programme 2008. Out of respect to the confidentiality of the applicants I do not intend to identify the locations of the applications at this time. I intend to announce the grant allocations for the Programme as soon as possible after the assessment process has been completed.

Tourism Industry.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

247 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he is satisfied regarding the future development of the tourism sector with particular reference to the need to compete in the international arena; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24825/08]

We have been fortunate in recent years to enjoy record growth in numbers of overseas visitors and associated revenue. Last year alone we welcomed over 8 million visitors with associated revenue of €4.9 billion, including Irish carrier receipts. While the international tourism market is becoming increasingly competitive, Ireland has consistently outperformed its key competitors in terms of growing the number of overseas visitors to our shores.

It is fully recognised that current global economic factors such as currency fluctuations and oil prices are likely to impact on the number of outward travellers from some of our most important markets such as North America and Great Britain. Nevertheless, I was encouraged by the figures published by the CSO showing that visitors to Ireland for the first quarter of 2008 were up by over 4% compared to the corresponding period in 2007. Tourism Ireland's Corporate Plan for 2008-10 contains ambitious and challenging targets for tourism for the island of Ireland over the next three years. It aims to increase average annual overseas visitor numbers by between 4.2% and 5.1% over the life of the plan, which, if achieved, would mean total overseas visitor numbers to the island of Ireland of over 10.5 million in 2010.

In terms of our ability to compete in the international arena in the future, maintaining and enhancing competitiveness is a major issue for Irish tourism as it is for the economy as a whole. In addressing that issue, it is important to bear in mind that competitiveness is about more than price and costs. It is generally agreed that Ireland cannot and, indeed, should not attempt to compete on the basis of costs with mass tourism destinations.

The tourism agencies continue to monitor Ireland's competitiveness as a tourism destination and I am encouraging them to assist the industry in responding to changing conditions through a variety of programmes in marketing, human resource development, quality enhancement, product development and productivity. I believe that the strategic approach taken to tourism development in recent years, by both the public and private sectors, has given the sector the capacity to withstand the cyclical external challenges and to sustain its performance in coming years.

National Sports Campus.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

248 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the position regarding the future of the Campus Stadium Ireland project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24827/08]

The Government has provided an amount of €149 million in the National Development Plan 2007 to 2013 for the development of a National Sports Campus at Abbotstown. Prior to that, the Government approved in November 2005 the commencement of Phase One of the development of the National Sports Campus on the basis of a Development Control Plan prepared by Campus and Stadium Ireland Development Company Ltd (CSID) — the predecessor of the National Sports Campus Development Authority (NSCDA). These facilities will be designed to meet the indoor and outdoor training needs of Irish elite sports persons who compete at national and international levels and will also provide for the needs of the local community.

The Government decision for this stage of development also included agreement to move the HQ of the FAI to the former State Laboratory building at Abbotstown. Work on the building was completed and the FAI took possession of the building in December last year. It is also intended to provide a headquarters for the Institute for Sport by refurbishing an existing building on the site.

Project Management and Design Teams were appointed recently for Phase One. It is the intention of the Authority to have detailed plans prepared and it is estimated that planning permission for phase one will be sought later this year. The Abbotstown facilities, when completed, will provide a much needed range of training and competitive facilities for our finest sports persons. Through the National Aquatic Centre an excellent sports facility has already been provided. Now being progressed is the development of a state of the art complex of quality facilities to serve a wide spectrum of sport activities and disciplines which will benefit elite sports persons and the local community alike.

The first phase of the project will comprise:

A National Field Sports Training Centre catering for rugby, soccer, Gaelic games and hockey;

A National Indoor Training Centre which will provide world class training facilities for over 20 National Governing Bodies of Sport;

Accommodation for sports men and women; sports science and medical facilities, and

All-weather synthetic pitches for community use.

Decentralisation Programme.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

249 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism the extent to which decentralisation proposals for his Department have been achieved to date; the costs involved or pending; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24828/08]

Following the announcement of the Government's decentralisation programme in the 2004 Budget, the Department, which has a staff of 131 excluding the National Archives, was designated an "early mover" by the Decentralisation Implementation Group, (DIG). To date, 76 staff have relocated to temporary accommodation in Fossa, Killarney, in three tranches, 45 staff in September 2006, 25 staff in July 2007 and 6 in May 2008. The objective is to complete the decentralisation process by the end of 2008 at which time the Department will be operating from new purpose built offices in Killarney.

Excluding the cost of accommodation, the total cost of decentralisation incurred by the Department to the end of May 2008 is estimated at €532,000. This includes the cost of office machinery, office and premises overheads, postal and telecommunications services and travel and subsistence. The OPW are responsible for costs relating to both the temporary and permanent accommodation and therefore these do not fall within my Department's Vote. It is anticipated that there will be some additional costs associated with the move to the new building but these are unlikely to be significant and should be capable of accommodation within existing budgetary resources.

Social Welfare Payments.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

250 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will continue to maximise the role of post offices by way of all social welfare payments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24421/08]

The current range of payment options offered by the Department to customers includes payment via local post office; certain credit unions that have been authorised by the banking and credit union regulators; and bank or building society account, including post bank. Customers opt for a particular payment method having regard to their own personal circumstances. An Post and the Department have been partners in the delivery of social welfare payment services since the foundation of the State and there is no reason to believe that An Post and the network of post offices will not continue to play a significant role in the delivery of social welfare payments in the future.

Social Welfare Code.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

251 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs her views on extending the travel scheme to persons who suffer from medical conditions such as epilepsy, which render it impossible for them to drive. [24557/08]

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

The scheme provides free travel on the main public and private transport services for those eligible under the scheme. These include road, rail and ferry services provided by companies such as Bus Átha Cliath, Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann, as well as Luas and services provided by over 80 private transport operators. The proposal to extend the free travel scheme to those with certain conditions is one of a range of proposals made to extend the free travel scheme. Further extensions to the scheme could only be considered in a Budgetary context and taking account of the financial and other needs of those not covered by the existing arrangements.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

252 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be approved and awarded jobseeker’s allowance in view of the fact that they have submitted all the information that was requested of them. [24606/08]

Following a meeting with a Social Welfare Inspector the Department wrote to the person concerned requesting written evidence of his current and past financial affairs and evidence of his job seeking efforts. When these are received a decision will be made as soon as possible and he will be notified of the outcome. Under Social Welfare legislation decisions in relation to claims must be made by Deciding Officers and Appeals Officers. These officers are statutorily appointed and I have no role in regard to making such decisions.

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

253 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the situation regarding the processing of applications for the back to school clothing and footwear allowance scheme in County Meath. [24652/08]

The back to school clothing and footwear allowance scheme (BSCFA) is administered on behalf of the Department by the community welfare division of the Health Service Executive (HSE). Applications for the allowance may be made between the beginning of June and the end of September each year. The operational arrangements for the processing of applications and the payment to qualifying individuals, is a matter for the respective community welfare division areas.

Social Welfare Code.

Brian O'Shea

Ceist:

254 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the proposals she has to amend legislation in order that applicants for State contributory pension can have social welfare contributions arising from student employment discounted when assessing the contributions average where subsequent insurable employment did not commence for a long period afterwards; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24688/08]

The average contributions test has been a key qualifying condition for contributory pensions since the scheme was introduced in 1961. A person's contribution record is averaged from the first day they enter social insurance until they reach retirement age. A contributory pension is a very valuable benefit and the objective of the average contributions test is, to ensure amongst other things, that those qualifying have made a sustained contribution to the social insurance fund over their working lives.

Issues have been raised in relation to the operation of the average contributions test in the context of the consultation process on the Pensions Green Paper. A number of groups, including older women returning to employment after many years caring for family, people returning from abroad and those in the situation referred to by the Deputy, have complained about the impact large gaps in a persons insurance record can have on their pension entitlements. The Green Paper consultation process was recently completed. The Government is committed to finalising, by the end of the year, a framework to address the pension's agenda over the long-term. The operation of the average contribution test will be considered in that context.

Citizens Information Act.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

255 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the sections and subsections of the Citizens Information Act 2007 that have not been commenced. [24698/08]

All sections of the Citizens Information Act, 2007 other than Section 4(a)(bb), which provides for the insertion of paragraph (bb) in section 7(1) of the Comhairle Act, 2000, and all of Section 5, which concerns the introduction of the Personal Advocacy Service, have been commenced. The post of Director of PAS was sanctioned by the Department of Finance in 2007 and the Citizens Information Board has completed the recruitment process. It is expected that the appointment will be made shortly.

The service will be launched when the Director has taken up the position, recruited the staff and is satisfied that the structures, resources and facilities are in place to allow the service to commence operation. In view of the recruitment process which will need to be undertaken for the additional posts, it is not possible at this time to give a definitive date on when the service will be launched and fully operational. The service will be subject to continuing review and additional posts, if required, will be sought as necessary depending on the level of demand for the service.

In the meantime the Citizens Information Board is continuing preparatory work in relation to the establishment of the new service and has identified accommodation to facilitate its immediate needs. On my recent visit to the Citizen Information Board I was briefed on the steps which they have taken to get the service underway and I am confident that once the staff are in place, the service will be available to those who require it.

Social Welfare Appeals.

Chris Andrews

Ceist:

256 Deputy Chris Andrews asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the status of an application for invalidity pension from a person (details supplied) in Dublin 6; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24714/08]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that the appeal from the person concerned has been referred to an Appeals Officer who proposes to hold an oral hearing. The person concerned will be informed when arrangements have been made. The Social Welfare Appeals Office is an office of the Department that is independently responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Mary Upton

Ceist:

257 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the social welfare entitlements of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 10; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24718/08]

The person concerned does not have an entitlement to illness benefit as he does not have sufficient PRSI contributions paid in the relevant tax year. The Department has issued an application form to the person concerned, which should be completed and returned in order to assess the applicant's entitlement, if any, to disability allowance. Disability Allowance is a weekly allowance paid to people with a specified disability who are aged 16 or over and under age 66. The disability must be expected to last for at least one year and is subject to both a medical examination and a means test. The Department has also issued an SW4 Guide to Social Welfare Services to the person concerned. This contains information of other Social Welfare schemes and payments.

Budgeting Advice.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

258 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the data from the MABSIS system for the first five months of 2008 in relation to the number of new clients; the number and percentage of new clients on social welfare and by type of payment; the number and percentage of new clients earning a wage; the client profile by tenure type; the total debt owed by new clients when they first presented to MABS with a breakdown by creditor type; and the average debt owed by new clients when they first presented to MABS. [24840/08]

The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) provided services to 6,608 new clients in the period to end May 2008. In addition, 1,041 people sought information about budgeting and money management. The MABS National Helpline received 3,904 calls to date in 2008.

The majority of clients were on social welfare payments (58%), the highest numbers being 1,179 (18%) who were in receipt of the one parent family payment, 1,099 (17%) who were in receipt of jobseekers payments and 893 (13%) in receipt of illness/disability payments. Some 28% of clients were in receipt of wages and just under 3% were self-employed. Clients mostly lived in rented accommodation, with 28% living in private rented accommodation and 25% in rented local authority accommodation. People with mortgages made up 24% of new clients and 8% lived with parents.

The total amount owed by new clients in 2008 to creditors, based on the debt they had when they first came to the MABS, amounted to €63.3 million, which works out at an average amount of €9,600 debt per client. Of the total amount of debt some 60% was owed to banks/financial institutions, 17% was owed to credit unions, 3% was owed in respect of utilities bills and 2% was owed to moneylenders.

Departmental Offices.

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

259 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if it is intended to reopen the social welfare branch office in Dunmanway, County Cork; and if so when it will reopen. [24842/08]

As provided for in the Department's Modernisation Action Plan, a strategic review of front-line services has recently been commenced. The terms of reference for this review provide, inter alia, for recommendations in relation to the criteria to be used to determine the locations in which the Department should have a Local Office or Branch Office presence. The position in relation to the Branch Office in Dunmanway will be considered in the light of the outcome of this review. The Department has put measures in place to ensure continuity of service for people in the Dunmanway area and these measures are working very effectively.

Decentralisation Programme.

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

260 Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the position in relation to progress and future plans on the decentralisation programme in respect of Drogheda. [24936/08]

Under the current decentralisation programme, the Department's Head Quarters, Social Welfare Appeals Office, Information and Communications Technology Division (ICT) and Citizens Information Board are designated to relocate to Drogheda. The Office of Public Works (OPW) is charged with securing accommodation in Drogheda for this Department. That Office has advised that they have purchased sites in Drogheda to accommodate the Department's Headquarters Staff, a new Social Welfare Local Office, the Social Welfare Appeals Office and the Citizens Information Board.

The OPW has advised that the buildings will be procured as a Public Private Partnership Programme using the design, build, finance and maintain model and expect to go to tender by the end of the year. At this time, there is no indicative timeframe from the OPW regarding the availability of accommodation for the ICT Division. The Department is, however, fully committed to fulfilling its obligation under the programme.

Community Development.

Pat Breen

Ceist:

261 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will report on a company (details supplied); the structures and criteria applied; the composition and criteria applied for the setting up of the Clare board; if the Clare Community Forum will be represented on this board; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24266/08]

I refer the Deputy to previous questions on this topic, including Questions Nos. 10 and 11 of 3rd of April 2008 and 184 and 194 of 14 May 2008. My Department has over the past number of years being pursuing a process of cohesion of local delivery structures in order to simplify and enhance the effectiveness of the delivery of a range of local development programmes. Following an extensive consultation phase, Government decided on distinct local development operational areas and clarified the arrangements in relation to the membership of the boards of these bodies. LEADER and Partnership groups have been asked to give effect to these decisions and my Department has provided detailed guidelines to secure this outcome. The Guidelines set out the Department's mandatory requirements in relation to the size and representative elements of the boards of local development companies and provide for a transparent selection process of board members.

The appointment of the Board is primarily a matter for the Board of the company. In relation to the selection of representatives from the Community and Voluntary Sector, the Guidelines provide that representatives should have a clear mandate from their nominating organisations and the nominating organisations should have a proven track record of community development work including social inclusion and/or rural development work. In addition, where the Company opts to oversee the selection of community and voluntary sector candidates itself, it is required to work with the Director of Services for Community and Enterprise to ensure that no Community and Voluntary organisation active within its area and registered with the Community and Voluntary Forum is excluded from the process.

An integrated company was incorporated in Clare on the 19th of November 2007. The Director of Services for Community and Enterprise has confirmed to my Department that the nomination procedure adopted by the company adheres to the criteria in the Guidelines. In light of the confirmation received, my Department has given the Company approval to initiate the selection process of candidates from the community sector. I understand that this process is now underway. The Guidelines are available to Deputies in the Dáil Library and are on my Department's website — www.pobail.ie

Official Engagements.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

262 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if, during his meeting on 19 September, 2007 with a delegation of government officials of Azerbaijan, he raised concerns relating to the human rights situation in Azerbaijan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24277/08]

At the request of Galway Development Services International Ltd, I met a group of officials from Azerbaijan to whom I outlined the work of my Department. There were no discussions relating to the human rights situation in Azerbaijan.

National Drugs Strategy.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

263 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the position regarding a service (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [24420/08]

The project referred to by the Deputy is a drug awareness project that receives annual funding from my Department under the National Drugs Strategy. The allocation for 2008 is nearly €190,000. I understand that the project has also made an application for funding under the Drugs Task Force Premises Initiative Fund, which addresses the accommodation needs of community-based drugs projects. However, as I expect the financial provision for the Fund for this year to be fully expended, I am not in a position to approve any new proposals at present.

Rural Social Scheme.

Jimmy Deenihan

Ceist:

264 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if a farmer with a dormant herd number will be allowed to be employed in a rural social scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24804/08]

The Rural Social Scheme (RSS) was established to provide income support for low income farmers and fisherpersons who are in receipt of certain long-term social welfare payments and to provide certain services of benefit to rural communities. In order to satisfy the eligibility criteria an applicant must be actively farming. However, a farmer with a dormant herd number will not necessarily be excluded from the scheme. I would encourage any person interested in either renewing their place on the scheme or completing a new application form to contact their local LEADER group or Údarás na Gaeltachta who manage the scheme on my Department's behalf at a local level and they will be able to advise them further.

Contact details for all Implementing Bodies are in the following table.

Group Grúpa

Area Covered An Ceantar atá i gceist

Contact Details Sonraí Teagmhála

Arigna Catchment Area Community Company Ltd.

Co. Leitrim and part of Co. Roscommon Co. Liatroma agus cuid de Cho. Ros Comáin

Enterprise Centre, Arigna, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Roscommon. Ph/Fón: 071-9646186 Fax/Facs: 071-9646188 Email/R-phost: rss.leader@iol.ie

Ballyhoura Development Ltd.

Part of Counties Limerick and Cork Codanna de Chontaetha Luimnigh agus Chorcaí

Main Street, Kilfinane, Co Limerick. Ph/Fón: 063-91300 Fax/Facs: 063-91330 Email/R-phost: c.lynch@ballyhoura.org

Barrow Nore Suir Rural Development Ltd.

Co. Kilkenny & South East Tipperary Co. Chill Chainnigh & Tiobraid Árann Thoir Theas

42 Parliament Street, Kilkenny. Ph/Fón: 056-7752111 Fax/Facs: 056-7752333 Email/R-phost: info@bnsrd.com christine@bnsrd.com

Blackwater Resource Development

Blackwater Region/North Cork Area Réigiún Blackwater/Tuaisceart Chorcaí

The Showgrounds, Fermoy, Co. Cork. Ph/Fón: 025-33411 Fax/Facs: 025-33422 Email/R-phost: info@blackwater-resources.com

Carlow LEADER Rural Development Co Ltd.

Co. Carlow Co. Cheatharlach

McGrath Hall, Station Road, Bagenalstown, Co. Carlow. Ph/Fón: 059-9720733 Fax/Facs: 059-9720737 Email/R-phost: rsscarlow@eircom.net

Cavan-Monaghan Rural Development Co-op Society Ltd.

Counties Cavan & Monaghan Contaetha an Chabháin & Mhuineacháin

C/O Agriculture College, Ballyhaise,Co. Cavan. Ph/Fón: 049-4338477 Fax/Facs: 049-4338189 Email/R-phost: info@cmrd.ie

Comhar Iorrais LEADER Teo

Erris Region Réigiún Iorrais

LEADER II Office, Sraid an tSeipeil, Beal an Mhuirthead, Co. Mhuigh Eo. Ph/Fón: 097-82303 Fax/Facs: 097-82304 Email/R-phost: errisrd@iol.ie

Comhdhail Oileáin na hÉireann

Offshore Islands, excluding Achill Na hOileáin Mhara gan Oileán Acla

Runaiocht, Inis Oírr, Árainn, Cuan na Gaillimhe. Ph/Fón: 099-75096 Fax/Facs: 099-75103 Email/R-phost: linda@oileain.ie Website/Láithreán gréasáin: www.oileain.ie

Donegal Local Development Company Ltd.

All Donegal except the Gaeltacht areas & Inishowen Peninsula Dún na nGall ar fad ach amháin na ceantair Ghaeltachta agus Inis Eoghain

1 Millennium Court, Pearse Road, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal. Ph/Fón: 074-9127056 Fax/Facs: 074-9121527 Email/R-phost: info@dldc.org

East Cork Area Development

East from Glanmire along the southern coast to Youghal Soir ó Ghleann Maghair ar chósta an deiscirt go hEochaill

Midleton Community Enterprise Centre, Owennacurra Business Park, Knockgriffin, Midleton, East Cork. Ph/Fón: 021-4613432 Fax/Facs: 021-4613808 Email/R-phost: info@ecad.ie Website/ Láithreán gréasáin: www.eastcork.com

Galway Rural Development Company Ltd.

Co. Galway excluding the Gaeltacht Co. na Gaillimhe gan an Ghaeltacht san áireamh

Mellows Campus Athenry, Co. Galway. Ph/Fón: 091-844335 Fax/Facs: 091-845465 Email/R-phost: grdc@grd.ie or info@grd.ie

IRD Duhallow Ltd.

North West Cork & East Kerry Iarthuaisceart Chorcaí & Oirthear Chiarraí

James O’Keeffe Institute, Newmarket, Co. Cork. Ph/Fón: 029-60633 Fax/Facs: 029-60694 Email/R-phost: duhallow@eircom.net

Inishowen Rural Development Ltd.

Inishowen Peninsula, Co. Donegal Glasoileán Inis Eoghain, Co. Dhún na nGall

Pound Street, Carndonagh, Inishowen, Co. Donegal Ph/Fón: 074-9373083 Fax/Facs: 074-9373084 Email/R-phost: irdl@iol.ie

Kildare European LEADER II Teo.

Co Kildare Co. Chill Dara

The Woods House, Clane, Co. Kildare. Ph/Fón: 045-861973 Fax/Facs: 045-861975 Email/R-phost: info@kelt.ie suzanne@kelt.ie Website/Láithreán gréasáin: www.kelt.ie

Laois LEADER Rural Development Company Ltd.

Co. Laois Co. Laoise

Pepper’s Court, Portlaoise, Co. Laois. Ph/Fón: 057-8661900 Fax/Facs: 057-8661902 Email/R-phost: llrdc@iol.ie

Longford Community Resources Ltd.

Co Longford Co. an Longfoirt

Longford Community Resource Ltd., Longford Community Enterprise Centre, Templemichael, Ballinalee Road, Longford. Ph/Fón: 043-45555 / 043-48104 Fax/Facs: 043-44093 Email/R-phost: ruralsocialscheme@lcrl.ie

Louth LEADER

Co. Louth Co. Lú

Market Street, Ardee, Co. Louth. Ph/Fón: 041-6857374 Fax/Facs: 041-6856787 Email: info@louthleader.com

Meath Community Partnership Co. Ltd.

Co. Meath Co. na Mí

Tom Blake House, Bective Street, Kells, Co. Meath. Ph/Fón: 046-9280790 / 046-9244250 Mobile: 086-3046521 Fax/Facs: 046-9249338 Email/R-phost: rss-meath@eircom.net info@meathleader.ie

MFG

Meitheal Forbatha Na Gaeltachta Teoranta

Corca Dhuibhne

Baile an Fheirtearaigh, Trá lí, Co. Chiarraí. Ph/Fón: 066-9156400 Fax/Facs: 066-9156199 Email/R-phost: eolas@mfg.ie

Comhlacht Forbartha Aitiuil Acla (For MFG LEADER)

Parish of Achill and part of Mulranny area, Co. Mayo Paróiste Acla agus cuid de cheantar Mhaoil Raithne, Co. Mhaigh Eo

Aras Forbairt Acla, Keel, Achill, Co. Mayo. Tel/Fón: 098 – 43292 Fax/Faics: 098 – 43058 Website/Láithreán gréasáin: www.acaill.com Email/R-phost: roisin@acaill.com catherine@acaill.com

Meitheal Forbartha na Gaeltachta Thir Chonaill

Tuaisceart Thír Chonaill Deisceart Thír ChonaillCloich Cheann Fhaola Thir Chonail

An Screabhán, Doirí Beaga, Leitirceanainn, Co. Dhún na nGall. Tel/Fon: 074 – 9532017 Fax/Faics: 074 – 9532428 Email/R-phost fpmfg@eircom.net

Meitheal Forbartha na Gaeltachta Teorantha Gaillimh

Galway Gaillimh

Páirc Gnó Shailearna Na hÁille Indreabhán, Co. Gaillimhe. Tel/Fón: 091 – 593410 Fax/Faics: 091 – 593728 Email/R-phost: mfggaillimh@eircom.net Website/Láithreán gréasáin: www.mfg.ie/gaillimh

Mid South Roscommon Rural Development Company Ltd.

Mid and South Roscommon Ros Comáin Láir agus Theas

Curraghboy, Athlone, Co. Roscommon. Ph/Fón: 090-6488292 Fax/Facs: 090-6488046 Email/R-phost: info@southrosleader.ie

Offaly LEADER + Company Ltd.

Co Offaly Co. Uíbh Fhailí

Rural & Community Development Centre, Harbour Street, Tullamore, Co. Offaly. Ph/Fón: 057-9322850 Fax/Facs: 057-9322851 Email/R-phost: admin@offalyleader.ie Website/Láithreán gréasáin: www.offalyleader.ie

Rural Dublin LEADER Company Ltd.

Co. Dublin Co. Bhaile Átha Cliath

11 Parnell Square, Dublin 1. Ph/Fón: 01-8780564 Fax/Facs: 01-8780572 Email/R-phost: info@ruraldublin.ie

Rural Resource Development Ltd.

Co. Clare Co. an Chláir

Shannon Business Centre, Town Centre, Shannon, Co. Clare. Ph/Fón: 061-361144 Fax/Facs: 061-361954 Email/R-phost: info@rrd.ie Website/Láithreán gréasáin: www.rrd.ie

Co. Sligo LEADER Partnership Company

Part of Co. Sligo Cuid de Cho. Shligigh

Sligo Development Centre, Cleveragh Road, Sligo. Ph/Fón: 071-9141138 Fax/Facs: 071-9141162 Email/R-phost: info@sligoleader.com mctiernan@sligoleader.com

South Kerry Development Partnership Ltd.

South Kerry Ciarraí Theas

Old Barracks, Bridge Street, Caherciveen, Co. Kerry. Ph/Fón: 066-9472724 Fax/Facs: 066-9472725 Email/R-phost: jmccrohan@skdp.net

South West Mayo Development Company Ltd.

South West Mayo Iardheisceart Mhaigh Eo

Rural Social Scheme Office, Main Street Balla, Castlebar, Co. Mayo. Ph/Fón: 094-9366692 Fax/Facs: 094-9366693 Mobile: 087 – 2263313 Email/R-phost: info@southmayo.com

Tipperary LEADER Group Ltd.

North Tipperary, most of South Tipperary and parts of North East Limerick Cuid de Cho. Thiobraid Árann & cuid de Luimneach Thoir Thuaidh

The Bridewell, St. Michael Street, Tipperary Town, Co. Tipperary. Ph/Fón: 062-33360 Mobile: 087 – 2219818 Fax/Facs: 062-33787 Email/R-phost: tlg@iol.ie

Tuatha Chiarraí Teoranta

North & East Kerry Tuaisceart agus Oirthear Chiarraí

Church Lane, Church Street, Tralee, Co. Kerry. Ph/Fón: 066-7120390 Fax/Facs: 0667120804 Email/R-phost: tuhakiriadmin@iol.ie

Údarás na Gaeltachta

Údarás na Gaeltachta, Na Forbacha, Co. na Gaillimhe

Co Galway Co. na Gaillimhe Ceantar Dhuiche Sheoigheach agus Tuar Mhic Eadaigh. Ceantar Chonamara Theasó Chasla go Gaillimh agus Magh Cuillin. Achreidh na Gaillimhe Co Mayo Co. Mhaigh Eo Paroiste Chill Choimín, Paroiste na Cille Móire, Paroiste Chill tSeandna

Ph/Fón: 091-503136/091-503112 Fax/Facs: 091-503101 Email/R-phost: t.oconghaile@udaras.ie m.nimhaille@udaras.ie Eolas@údaras.ie

Údarás na Gaeltachta, Pairc Ghnó Doire Beaga Co Dhún na nGall

Co Donegal Co. Dhún na nGall Gaoth Dobhair, Na Rosann & An Ghaeltacht Láir

Ph/Fón: 074-9560100 Fax/Facs: 074-9560101 Email/R-phost:m.ogallachoir@udaras.ie Eolas@údaras.ie

Údarás na Gaeltachta, Pairc Ghnó An Daingin, Baile an Mhuilinn, An Daingeain, Co Chiarraí.

Co. Kerry Co. Chiarraí Gaeltacht Uibh Rathach

Ph/Fón: 066-9150100 Fax/Facs: 066-9150101 Email/R-phost:am@udaras.ie Eolas@údaras.ie

Waterford LEADER Partnership

Co. Waterford Co. Phort Láirge

John Barrt House, Lismore Business Park, Mayfield, Lismore, Co. Waterford. Ph/Fón: 058-54646 Fax/Facs: 058-54126 Mobile: 087 – 2311061 Email/R-phost: niamh@wlp.ie

West Cork LEADER Co-operative Society Ltd.

West Cork, Lee Valley & Owenabue Valley Iarthar Chorcaí, Ghlenn na Laoi & Gleann na hAibhne Buí

West Cork Technology Park, Clonakilty, Co. Cork. Ph/Fón: 023-34035 Fax/Facs: 023-34066 Email/R-phost: arann@westcorkleader.ie

West Limerick Resources Ltd.

West Limerick Iarthar Luimnigh

West Limerick Resources, RSS, Saint Mary’s Road, Newcastle West, Co. Limerick. Ph/Fón: 069-61540 Mobile: 087 – 9212527/9329469 Email/R-phost: rsswlr@eircom.net

Western Rural Development Company Ltd.

Parts of Counties Mayo & Sligo Cúid de Chontaetha Mhaigh Eo & Shligigh

C/o IRD Kiltimagh Ltd., Aidan Street, Kiltimagh, Co. Mayo. Ph/Fón: 094-9381494 Email/R-phost: marynolan@ird-kiltimagh.ie

Moy Valley Resources

North Mayo/West Sligo Tuaisceart Mhaigh Eo/Iarthar Shligigh

Moy Valley Resources, Greenhills Enterprise Centre, Bunree Road, Ballina, Co. Mayo. Tel/Fón: 096 – 70905 Email/R-phost: pbrennan@mvtsi.com

IRD Kiltimagh Ltd.

East Mayo Oirthear Mhaigh Eo

Enterprise House, Aidan Street, Kiltimagh, Co. Mayo. Tel/Fón: 094-9381494 Email/R-phost: brendanoshea@ird-kiltimagh.ie

Westmeath Community Development Ltd.

Co Westmeath Co. na hIarmhí

2nd Floor, Presentation House, Harbour Street, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath. Ph/Fón: 044-9348571 Fax/Facs: 044-9348441 Email/R-phost: info@westcd.ie

Wexford Organisation for Rural Development Ltd.

Co Wexford Co. Loch Garman

Johnstown Castle, Co. Wexford. Ph/Fón: 053-9146453/9171550 Fax/Facs: 053-9146456 Email/R-phost: rss@wexfordleader.ie

Wicklow Rural Partnership Ltd.

Co Wicklow Co. Chill Mhantáin

Wicklow Rural Partnership Ltd., Saville House, Savilles Cross, Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow. Ph/Fón: 0404-46977 Fax/Facs: 0404-46978 Email/R-phost: info@wicklowleader.ie

Rural Environment Protection Scheme.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

265 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the position of a REP scheme application by a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [24253/08]

The person named began his REPS 4 contract on 1 December 2007.

Fishing Industry Development.

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

266 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his views on the introduction of additional quota for the fishing industry or a tie up scheme for fishermen similar to the set aside scheme for farmers where boats could be tied up on a rota basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24335/08]

Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and quotas for the majority of commercial fish stocks in European waters are proposed by the Commission each year for the following year, taking account, inter alia, of the scientific evidence on the state of each stock and the respective management measures in place. These proposals are the subject of extensive negotiations at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council each December. The TACs and quotas for 2008 were set at the December 2007 Agriculture and Fisheries Council.

The distribution of quota is a matter for the national administrations, and in Ireland this is managed in conjunction with the industry. I am happy to look at any proposals from industry on revised allocations of quotas. In relation to the question of a tie up scheme for fishermen, and while not pre-empting any decision of today's Council, I am pressing hard for an EU-funded package of measures to alleviate the immediate issues of concern to the Irish fishing industry.

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

267 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his views on the introduction of a Government investment scheme for fuel efficiency measures for boats in the fishing industry or a reduction in the duty on fuel for fishing vessels; his further views on other fiscal measures in conjunction with the Department of Finance for the fishing sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24336/08]

BIM have to date implemented and promoted the "Environmentally Friendly Fishing Gear and Fuel Monitoring Equipment Grant Aid Scheme". This scheme provided grants of up to 40% to improve efficiency and conservation methods on board fishing vessels. These measures will, on adoption of the new Operational Programme for Fisheries 2007-2013, continue to be supported by the new European Fisheries Fund (EFF). Furthermore, it is planned that the new scheme will allow for grant aid to replace old engines with new more environmentally friendly and fuel efficient ones, which was not available in the past.

We need to be clear that fuel subsidies, in terms of operating aid for fishing vessels, are not permitted under EU State Aid rules and any such measures introduced by EU Member States would be in breach of EU law and subject to Infringement proceedings in the European Court of Justice. In relation to funding of short term measures to address the current difficulties facing the fishing Industry, it has always been my contention, that this is a European wide issue and must be dealt with in the European context. I have already held a bilateral meeting with Commissioner Borg on this and will be pursuing the matter strongly at the Fisheries Council and I believe that an effective resolution to many of the issue can only be achieved in an EU context. I intend to press the Commission, with the support of my colleagues in the Council, to bring forward an EU funded package to address both the short-term and longer-term issues facing the fishing industry.

I announced on Monday, grant aid totalling €41.1 million to decommission 46 fishing vessels under the 2008 fishing vessel decommissioning scheme. Approved applicants have until 18th July 2008 to accept the offer and if they do so must have surrendered their fishing licences by the 12th September 2008. This represents a very substantial commitment from the Government in bringing the Irish fishing fleet into balance with available resources and ensuring that those remaining in the industry can be assured of a profitable future. The removal of these older less efficient vessels will increase the quotas available to the more modern competitive fishing vessels and to smaller vessels, and will contribute to achieving a more sustainable and profitable fleet. The scheme delivers on a key recommendation of the Strategy for a Restructured, Sustainable and Profitable Seafood Industry 2007 to 2013 — Steering a New Course (the Cawley Report).

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

268 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the standards and monitoring processes for the importation of fish into Ireland; the level of compliance with these regulations each year since 2004 to date in 2008; if he will review in tandem with the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment and the National Consumer Agency, the pricing level of fish in the retail sector here vis-à-vis the price paid at source; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24337/08]

Regulation (EC) No. 882/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of the 29th April 2004 sets out the official controls to be performed to ensure the verification of compliance with feed and food law, animal health and animal welfare rules. The general obligations with regard to the organisation of official controls shall ensure that official controls are carried out regularly, on a risk basis and with appropriate frequency so as to achieve the objectives of EU Regulation 882/2004.

All animals and products of animal origin, entering the EU from a Third Country must enter through a Border Inspection Post (BIP) and must be subjected to checks. There is free circulation of food within the EU which means that food produced in the EU under EU food safety legislation can move freely throughout other member states without going through import checks except in the cases where some specific national controls apply for food safety reasons. BIPs are under the control of an Official Veterinarian (OV), who is responsible for the checks. The OV may be assisted in these duties by specially trained auxiliary Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Food staff and Officers from the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority and the Marine Institute for fish and fishery products.

Border Inspection Posts must be approved by the European Commission. The posts are inspected regularly by officials of the European Commission to ensure that they comply with the requirements of the EU directive. The following are the approved inspection posts in Ireland, Dublin Port, Dublin Airport, and Shannon Airport. The deputy will no doubt be aware that on foot of specific issues raised by the Federation of Irish Fishermen (FIF) at our meeting on the 13th June, I established the Irish Seafood Market Initiative under the Chair of Jason Whooley CEO of BIM, to discuss and identify and maximize the opportunities for domestic seafood supply to the Irish Seafood market.

Grant Payments.

Tom Hayes

Ceist:

269 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the position in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary on whose behalf an application has been submitted to transfer entitlements. [24340/08]

Two Transfer of Entitlement applications were received on 13 May 2008 from the person named requesting the transfer of 14.7 standard entitlements and 16.74 standard entitlements by way of sale without land to third parties. The requested transfers were fully processed on 16 June 2008 and the person named was notified in writing of the successful outcome of the applications.

Sean Fleming

Ceist:

270 Deputy Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if all payments due under REP scheme three have been made to a person (details supplied) in County Laois. [24364/08]

The REPS contract in this case commenced on 1 November 2004 and four annual payments have been made. The person named will be able to apply for his fifth and final payment under this contract after his next anniversary date, which is 1 November 2008.

Michael Creed

Ceist:

271 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will receive their REP scheme payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24387/08]

Payment dated 17 June 2008 has issued to the person named.

Departmental Correspondence.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

272 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason a meeting (details supplied) which was promised to take place did not occur; and when this meeting will be rescheduled to take place. [24402/08]

Michael Ring

Ceist:

273 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if the land division has supplied all the necessary information to him for a person (details supplied) in County Mayo to enable him to answer this Deputy’s question in relation to this person; if not, the reason this information has not been given to him; and when it will be given to him. [24404/08]

Michael Ring

Ceist:

274 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if the land division will furnish the historical information (details supplied) which it has in relation to the townland concerned; and the reason this has not been made available to date. [24405/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 272 to 274, inclusive, together.

My Department has been in contact with the person named in the questions. However, the exact nature of the issue involved is not as yet clear to my staff. It appears to relate to a Vesting Order completed in 1988 where plots were surrendered and exchanged. If the person named sets out the exact nature of his query in writing to my staff at Government Buildings, Farnham Street, Cavan, I will arrange for an Inspector from my Department to meet with him.

All the Land Commission information that the Department holds in relation to the folios owned by the person named, that the Department is aware of, has been outlined to him by letter and by telephone. All the historical information in the possession of my Department as successor to the former Irish Land Commission regarding other land in the townland is available but includes information on other persons allotted land by the Commission which is private to those persons and may not be disclosed without their consent. However certain information such as vesting orders were published at the time and this information can be made available to the Deputy. I will arrange for an official of the Lands Branch to write to the Deputy in this regard.

Grant Payments.

Tom Hayes

Ceist:

275 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when REP scheme payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if they will receive the full amount. [24676/08]

To date no application for payment has been received in my Department from the person named. He has until 30 June 2008 to lodge his application without penalty.

Fisheries Protection.

Michael Creed

Ceist:

276 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the situation regarding Celtic Sea cod quota and the prospects for an immediate increase of quota for fishermen here in this species; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24703/08]

A preliminary TAC (Total Allowable Catch) was set for Celtic Sea cod at the December 2007 Agriculture and Fisheries Council. At that Council it was agreed that a final TAC would be established after a review of the scientific evidence relating to the state of the stock, in the first half of 2008. In March this year, a scientific paper was submitted to the European Commission by the Research Institutes of France, UK and Ireland supporting an increase in the quota. The submission was referred to ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Sea) for review; however, ICES did not reach the same conclusion and this issue has since been the subject of ongoing discussions with the Commission.

I am aware that the cod fishery in the Celtic Sea is an extremely important one for Irish fishermen. The quota is managed in conjunction with the industry and at the request of the industry a relatively liberal fishery was permitted earlier in the year when markets were strong. We now have almost exhausted our quota for the year. This will prove a very difficult problem for Irish fishermen because cod is taken in a mixed fishery and this will ultimately lead to discarding. From a conservation perspective this cannot be justified. I am pressing the Commission to urgently reconsider the scientific advice on the stock with a view to allowing a modest increase in the TAC this year. However, the Commission is of the view that the scientific outlook for the stock is not too optimistic and they are taking a cautious approach.

Michael Creed

Ceist:

277 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the steps he proposes to take to protect fishermen here from illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24704/08]

IUU (Illegal, unreported, unregulated) fishing is one of the most serious threats worldwide to the sustainability of fish stocks. IUU fishing means that catches are either misreported or not reported at all and this is a significant contributor to the depletion of stocks through overfishing, as well as undermining the sustainable management of fisheries. The estimated value of IUU fishing worldwide is in the region of €10 billion. EU fishermen face intense competition from IUU operators who disregard all the many obligations that legal operators are obliged to take on. This problem has increased over the last number of years due to the globalisation of the fisheries sector, which has led to increased trade flows of fisheries products whose legality is extremely difficult to establish, thus undermining the markets for our own fishermen.

Measures to eliminate IUU fish from the EU market were adopted at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 23/24 June 2008. These measures include:

the creation of a list of vessels (both EU-flagged and non-EU) that are involved in IUU fishing;

a scheme of port state control that would prohibit access by third country IUU vessels;

a ban on the importation of IUU fish, by requiring certification by the flag state that the fish is legal;

the development of a Community Alert System when there is a suspicion that IUU fish has been detected;

prohibition of importing fish from countries that have been identified as not cooperating with the EU scheme;

I believe that we must take strong action to address this menace and I fully supported the adoption of these measures at the Council.

Michael Creed

Ceist:

278 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the progress made regarding the introduction of uniform administrative sanctions across the EU for fishery offences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24705/08]

The Sea Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Act, 2006 was enacted on the 4th April 2006 and provides for dissuasive and effective penalties for infringements of fisheries law as required under the Common Fisheries Policy. The possibility of introducing administrative sanctions was comprehensively considered, including an examination of practices in other Member States, at the time of the passage of the Sea Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Bill through the Oireachtas. The position taken by the Minister at that time was based on legal advice from the Attorney General.

On foot of the recent Court of Auditors Report on Fisheries control the Commission is proposing wide-ranging proposals to reform and update the EU Fisheries Control framework. At last week's meeting with Commissioner Borg, I pushed strongly for a level playing field on control as a coastal state with responsibility for protecting some of the richest fishing ground in the EU. I pointed out that the industry here in Ireland strongly believe that they are on their own in being subject to controls, and that operators in some other countries face low penalties that can not be considered dissuasive when they are found to infringe the rules of the CFP.

I asked Commissioner Borg to include measures to promote a level playing field in control activities and sanctions, in the review of the control regulation that is currently underway. In particular, I asked as a priority that the Coastal Member State responsible for control should be able to know the quota limitations applying to any community vessels fishing in its waters. Commissioner Borg recognized the heavy responsibility on Ireland as a Coastal State to control activities in its waters and said he would welcome specific proposals from us taking account of our particular role and the experience we have gained over the years. I will be making direct contact with him setting down proposals which we consider are the minimum necessary to deliver effective control and a level playing field.

I have asked the Attorney General to examine this issue from a legal perspective, and consider if there have been any new developments which might support the introduction of a regime of administrative sanctions for fisheries offences in Ireland, at least for minor offences.

Fishing Industry Development.

Michael Creed

Ceist:

279 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the additional funding required to finance the new Irish seafood market initiative and the Irish Fisheries Science Research Partnership as announced after his recent meeting with representatives of the fishing industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24706/08]

Having carefully listened to specific issues raised by the Federation of Irish Fishermen (FIF) at our meeting on the 13th June, I established the Irish Seafood Market Initiative under the Chair of Jason Whooley CEO of BIM, to discuss and identify and maximize the opportunities for domestic seafood supply to the Irish Seafood market. I also established the Irish Fisheries Science Research Partnership under the chairmanship of Dr Peter Heffernan CEO of the Marine Institute, to enhance collaboration and mutual understanding on fisheries science priorities, which are beneficial to the long-term future of the Irish fishing industry. I am satisfied that these two initiatives can be handled by the organisations concerned within their existing resources.

Departmental Agencies.

Christy O'Sullivan

Ceist:

280 Deputy Christy O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will examine the circumstances in which the business of persons (details supplied) in County Cork has been brought to its knees by Coillte, a State organisation. [24843/08]

Coillte Teoranta was established as a private commercial company under the Forestry Act, 1988 and day-to-day operational matters are the responsibility of the company. The issue you refer to is an operational matter for Coillte. I understand that the Courts have ruled on this issue and I therefore consider that it is not appropriate for me to intervene in the matter.

School Curriculum.

Mary Upton

Ceist:

281 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Education and Science the role his Department plays in the physical education school curriculum; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24326/08]

My Department's role in relation to physical education in the school curriculum is to approve the syllabus to be delivered in primary and post-primary schools, to prescribe the amount of time to be allocated to it, to provide appropriate training for teachers to deliver the subject and to provide resources to schools. In fulfilling that role, my Department is advised by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA). The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) was established as a non-statutory body in 1987, and as a statutory body in July 2001 under section 38 of the Education Act 1998. The role of the NCCA is to advise the Minister for Education and Science on matters relating to the curriculum for early childhood education, primary and post-primary schools, and to the assessment procedures employed in schools and examinations on subjects that are part of the curriculum.

Educational Services for Refugees.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

282 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will support a group (details supplied). [24682/08]

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

360 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason his Department is closing down schools (details supplied) which have provided language and training skills and are an internationally recognised centre of excellence and integration; the further reason same were closed without consultation with staff and no provision has been made to replace the schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24838/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 282 and 360 together.

Integrate Ireland Language and Training Ltd. (IILT) approached my Department earlier this year with a proposal to withdraw from direct tuition for adult refugees and with a request that this tuition be mainstreamed. IILT envisaged continuing direct tuition for a group of up to 200 programme refugees. My Department accepted that mainstreaming of service provision was appropriate as it accords with the overall approach to provision of services to migrants as set out in "Migration Nation" — a statement on integration strategy and diversity management which I recently launched. In doing so the Department decided that all provision should be mainstreamed and provided by VECs as it would make no sense to seek to continue with a small element of provision by IILT.

The funding allocated to IILT will now be redirected to provide for the continuation of this service through the VEC network. The Irish Vocational Education Association has confirmed that it is happy to cooperate and collaborate with my Department in delivery of necessary English language services. The VEC sector has already developed best practice in ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) provision. The sector is already providing English language services for those whose first language is not English. At present services are provided to over 12,000 people annually which clearly demonstrates the capacity of the VECs in this area. A further advantage of mainstreaming such provision through the VEC sector is the fact that the VECs have a nationwide network across all counties and cities that can readily provide classes where needed in the country using their facilities in schools and centres. My Department is currently in discussion with the IVEA to ensure the minimum of disruption to students and the smooth transition to the new basis of delivery.

Special Educational Needs.

Pat Breen

Ceist:

283 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will ensure that a person (details supplied) in County Clare will be facilitated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24256/08]

I understand that the school has applied to the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) for resource teaching hours in respect of the child in question. The NCSE is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), for allocating resource teachers and special needs assistants to schools to support children with autism. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. All schools have the names and contact details of their local SENO. Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available on www.ncse.ie. The SENO will be in direct contact with the school authorities once a decision has been made on the application.

Official Engagements.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

284 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Education and Science if, during his meeting on 19 January 2005 with Mr. Zhou Ji of China, he raised concerns relating to the human rights situation in China; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24303/08]

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

285 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Education and Science if, during his meeting on 13 April 2005 with the Minister for Education, Hon. Nangolo Mbumba of Namibia, he raised concerns relating to the human rights situation in Namibia; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24304/08]

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

286 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Education and Science if, during his meeting on 4 July 2005 and 27 October 2005 with Chinese Ambassador to Ireland Sha Hailin, he raised concerns relating to the human rights situation in China; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24305/08]

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

287 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Education and Science if, during his meeting on 11 October 2005 with Egyptian Minister for Education Yousri El-Gamal, he raised concerns relating to the human rights situation in Egypt; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24306/08]

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

288 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Education and Science if, during his meeting on 22 and 23 February 2006 with Vice Minister Zhang Zhijun and Minister for Education Mr. Zhou Ji of China, he raised concerns relating to the human rights situation in China; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24307/08]

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

289 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Education and Science if, during his meeting on 28 February 2006 with Ambassador Manette Ramaili of the Kingdom of Lesotho, he raised concerns relating to the human rights situation in Lesotho; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24308/08]

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

290 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Education and Science if, during his meeting on 6 February 2007 with Minister for Education Geoffrey Lungwangwa of Namibia, he raised concerns relating to the human rights situation in Namibia; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24309/08]

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

291 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Education and Science if, during his meeting on 19 June 2007 with Vice Minister Wu of China, he raised concerns relating to the human rights situation in China; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24310/08]

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

292 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Education and Science if, during his meeting on 10 October 2007 with Chinese Ambassador Zhang Xinsen, he raised concerns relating to the human rights situation in China; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24311/08]

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

293 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Education and Science if, during his meeting on 12 December 2007 with Ambassador Mohammed Bin Nawaf al Saud of Saudi Arabia, he raised concerns relating to the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24312/08]

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

294 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Education and Science if, during his meeting on 3 April 2008 with Egyptian Ambassador Amr Helmy, he raised concerns relating to the human rights situation in Egypt; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24313/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 284 to 294, inclusive, together.

The meetings at Ministerial level to which the Deputy refers were arranged to discuss specific issues, including the common challenges and issues which are faced by Ireland and other countries in the area of education and the potential for co-operation between educational institutions. The meetings with Ambassadors were primarily courtesy calls. Issues outside my remit such as Human Rights issues in other countries were not raised at these meetings, as I have no official functions in this area.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs is primarily responsible for pursuing the issue of human rights in other countries, which is central to Ireland's foreign policy. Where the situation warrants, the Minister for Foreign Affairs makes known the Government's concerns about human rights violations to the Governments in question, either bilaterally, including in high-level meetings, through the EU which has an active human rights dialogue with many countries, or through action at the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council.

Schools Building Projects.

Tony Gregory

Ceist:

295 Deputy Tony Gregory asked the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding the provision of a new school (details supplied) in Dublin 1; if correspondence has been received from the board of management of the school; the reason that correspondence has not being replied to; if he will have arrangements made to have all correspondence from the school replied to forthwith; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24316/08]

The project to which the Deputy refers is currently at an early stage of architectural planning. A progress report received from the Design Team is under examination by the Professional and Technical Staff in my Department at present. 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. However, in light of current competing demands on the capital budget of the Department, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of the project at this time.

School Curriculum.

Mary Upton

Ceist:

296 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Education and Science his Department’s guidelines regarding the target time for participation in physical education in schools; the way these targets are monitored to ensure each school is meeting these targets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24324/08]

Mary Upton

Ceist:

297 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Education and Science the average time spent by students here in physical education on a weekly basis; if this figure approaches the EU recommended 120 minutes a week; if this figure is not being met, the way he will ensure this figure will be achieved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24325/08]

Mary Upton

Ceist:

298 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Education and Science the plans he has to ensure the average weekly time spent in physical education by students is increased; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24327/08]

Mary Upton

Ceist:

299 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Education and Science his views on the assertion that while physical education is equal in law to other subjects this is not matched in the reality of practice; his further views on whether it is fair that school principals often feel pressurised to prioritise examination subjects over non-examination subjects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24328/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 296 to 299, inclusive, together.

It is my belief that a well planned Physical Education programme has a vitally important role to play in a broad and balanced curriculum for our primary and second level students. At primary level, Physical Education is one of seven curriculum areas within the revised Primary School Curriculum which was introduced in 1999. A minimum of one hour of physical education per week is recommended for all primary school pupils. The curriculum has been structured so as to allow individual schools a high degree of flexibility and choice in the planning of a broad and balanced Physical Education programme for pupils, and includes six broad strands featuring Athletics, Dance, Gymnastics, Games, Outdoor and adventure activities and Aquatics.

A programme of in-service training in PE has been provided to support the full implementation of the curriculum. In addition to implementing the curriculum, schools are also encouraged to devote one day every year to "Sport for All" whereby an entire day is given over to sporting activities that emphasise participation and co-operation, rather than winning or losing.

In accordance with the Rules and Programme for Secondary Schools, all second level schools should provide Physical Education as part of the curriculum. The programme that each school plans and delivers should be based on my Department's approved syllabuses and the teaching hours should be registered on the school timetable. The syllabuses have been developed on the basis of a time allocation of two hours per week. The phasing in of a revised Physical Education syllabus (non-examination) at Junior Cycle level commenced in September 2003. The Junior Cycle Physical Education Support Service has been in place since then to support teachers in the implementation of this syllabus. The programme includes adventure activities, aquatics, athletics, dance, invasion games, net and fielding games, gymnastics and health related activity.

The Physical Education Programme in senior cycle is set out in the Rules and Programme for Secondary Schools, and is constructed across 5 areas:

that students be given the opportunity to follow programmes in an optional area,

to specialise in a PE area which has been taken at junior cycle,

to undertake new activities

to undertake a personal fitness and health programme, and

to receive training in sports Leadership.

Physical education is an integral part of the Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) programme. All LCA students must take two modules—Leisure Studies and Health Related Fitness—and there are four additional modules from which they can make further choices.

The Physical Education curricula at both primary and second level have been developed on the understanding that facilities available to schools vary. Consequently, they offer a level of flexibility that allows each individual school to design a programme that can be delivered using the resources and supports available to it. Apart from the formal curricula, schools can take a range of measures to encourage physical activity among students during the school day and many provide extensive, broad-based programmes of co-curricular physical activities that are highly rewarding for both pupils and teachers alike. In particular, schools play a major role in nurturing and promoting the involvement of students in sporting activities in the wider community. Sports organisations such as the Gaelic Athletic Association, Basketball Ireland, the Football Association of Ireland provide extensive opportunities for such participation.

The Programme for Government contains commitments to make PE mandatory at second level, put a revised PE curriculum for senior cycle students in place and examine the potential to introduce second level examinations in PE. The timescale for progression of these commitments will depend on a number of factors, including the availability of resources. Specific difficulties that must be considered as part of the examination of the potential to introduce examinations in PE include the nature and type of assessment which would be appropriate and equity in access to facilities. This matter also needs to be considered in the context of the broader proposals for senior cycle reform put forward by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment. Indeed, the ‘State of the Nation's Children' report published by the Minister for Children recently, found that children in Ireland are doing well on physical activity, ranking 2nd across the 32 WHO countries in being physically active for at least 4 hours per week.

Mary Upton

Ceist:

300 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Education and Science if the physical education curriculum favours a moderate to vigorous physical activity or quality physical education based style of instruction; the level of training and in-service supplied to physical education teachers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24329/08]

My Department currently has a variety of syllabuses and programmes in place for Physical Education. Among these are the primary school curriculum in Physical Education, the revised Junior Cycle Physical Education syllabus, the Leaving certificate syllabus in PE and the Health and Leisure module as part of the Leaving Certificate Applied programme. The primary and Junior Cycle curricula are centred on the provision of physical education across six strands -- athletics, aquatics, adventure activities, games, gymnastics and dance. At junior cycle, health-related activity is also included. Schools are encouraged to cover all the activities over time, taking account of the resources and facilities available.

The physical education syllabuses which have been developed to date at junior cycle and senior cycle have tended, for practical reasons, to concentrate on the internationally-recognised core areas of activity mentioned above. Any activities that bring breadth and variety to the physical education programme in schools are welcome. Physical activities such as self-defence, yoga, martial arts, lifesaving, First Aid, horse-riding, for example, are all to be found in many of the excellent Transition Year Programmes that are taking place in schools throughout the country.

The most extensive inservice provision in relation to PE has been happening in Ireland in recent years. The content of the Primary PE Curriculum was mediated to the 27,000 (approx) primary teachers over a two year period with one seminar detailing the strands of Aquatics, Games and Outdoor and Adventure Activities delivered in the school year 2004-2005 and the remaining strands of Gymnastics, Athletics and Dance delivered in the school year 2005-2006. The Junior Cycle PE syllabus has been delivered to PE teachers at post-primary level with the possibility that a senior cycle syllabus will be introduced in the near future.

Curriculum support services provide training and school-based support for teachers. School-based support is a very rich form of support and allows the teacher explore the possibilities and limitations of the environment in which they teach. Through modelling of lessons and professional dialogue, the quality of teaching is enhanced and teachers are further enabled to develop their teaching skills. Teachers must also aim to include all students in PE lessons — irrespective of gender, or physical and/or learning deficits. The PE Association of Ireland have been active in organising conferences where teachers can avail of an opportunity to witness the latest thinking in physical education, and my Department also funds programmes on PE through the network of education centres.

Mary Upton

Ceist:

301 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Education and Science the way he is developing or encouraging links between school based physical activity and out of school physical activity as a means to target long-term behavioural changes in physical activity levels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24330/08]

Physical education is a core part of the curriculum at primary level, and at post primary level all schools are required to offer physical education. A revised Junior Cycle Physical Education syllabus was introduced in 2003, and the Leaving Certificate syllabus in PE and the Health and Leisure module of the Leaving Certificate Applied programme are also available. In addition, Social Personal and Health Education which is mandatory at primary and junior cycle level stresses the importance of regular exercise, and the need for a balanced diet as essential to physical and mental well being.

Schools also play a major role in nurturing and promoting the involvement of students in sporting activities in the wider community. Sports organisations such as the Gaelic Athletic Association, Basketball Ireland, the Football Association of Ireland provide extensive opportunities for schools to participate in sport. The Irish Sports Council, in co-operation with bodies such as the FAI and Local Sports Partnerships, has developed a national Buntús Primary Schools Initiative through which additional supports — training, resource cards and equipment — are provided to support teachers and others in introducing young people to sport, and to complement the Physical Education curriculum. The initiative aims to raise the profile of physical activity and sport, improve inservice training opportunities for teachers, assist governing bodies of sport to develop and deliver appropriate supports for teachers, and provide enjoyable and meaningful activity for children which supports the delivery of the curriculum.

This Government has worked hard to improve the opportunities for young people to get physical exercise both in school and in their local communities. In a new school building or refurbishment/extension, PE facilities are included as part of the design. Between 2000 and 2006 a total of 516 large-scale projects were delivered in primary and post-primary schools by my Department as part of a record overall investment of €2.6 billion in modernising primary and post-primary school facilities throughout the country. Many more large-scale projects are under construction or due to go to construction in the near future. New PE equipment such as balancing benches and gym mats are funded as part of any major building programme. My Department also provided €6.5m in 2006 and €3m in 2007 for primary and post primary schools respectively, for replacement and updating of PE equipment.

Schools are playing their part in addressing the physical activity levels of our children. However, it should be remembered that children only spend 20% of their time at school and that a healthy home environment is vital to ensuring that they continue to take part in physical activity outside of school hours. Indeed, the ‘State of the Nation's Children' report published by the Minister for Children recently, found that children in Ireland are doing well on physical activity, ranking second across the 32 WHO countries in being physically active for at least 4 hours per week.

Mary Upton

Ceist:

302 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Education and Science if schools sport partnerships exist here similar to the PE, School Sport and Club Links strategy programme in the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24332/08]

School sports partnerships along the lines of those that exist in the UK have not been formally established in the State. However, apart from the formal PE curricula being delivered at primary and post-primary levels, our schools also play a major role in nurturing and promoting the involvement of students in sporting activities in the wider community. Sports organisations such as the Gaelic Athletic Association, Basketball Ireland, the Football Association of Ireland provide extensive opportunities for schools to participate in sport. The Irish Sports Council, in co-operation with bodies such as the FAI and Local Sports Partnerships, has developed a national Buntús Primary Schools Initiative through which additional supports — training, resource cards and equipment — are provided to support teachers and others in introducing young people to sport, and to complement the Physical Education curriculum. The initiative aims to raise the profile of physical activity and sport, improve inservice training opportunities for teachers, assist governing bodies of sport to develop and deliver appropriate supports for teachers, and provide enjoyable and meaningful activity for children which supports the delivery of the curriculum.

This Government has worked hard to improve the opportunities for young people to get physical exercise both in school and in their local communities. In a new school building or refurbishment/extension, PE facilities are included as part of the design. Between 2000 and 2006 a total of 516 large-scale projects were delivered in primary and post-primary schools by my Department as part of a record overall investment of €2.6 billion in modernising primary and post-primary school facilities throughout the country. Many more large-scale projects are under construction or due to go to construction in the near future. New PE equipment such as balancing benches and gym mats are funded as part of any major building programme. My Department also provided €6.5m in 2006 and €3m in 2007 for primary and post primary schools respectively, for replacement and updating of PE equipment.

The national lottery-funded Sports Capital Programme which is managed by the Department of Arts, Sports and Tourism allocates funding to projects that are directly related to the provision of sports facilities. Applications for funding under the programme can be made by voluntary and community organisations, including sports clubs; by national governing bodies of sport and third level education institutions; and in certain circumstances, by primary and post-primary schools, VECs and local authorities. The programme aims to foster an integrated and planned approach to developing sports and physical recreation facilities throughout the country.

So, through an increased focus on exercise in school and in the community, we are working to encourage more children and young people to get active. Indeed, the ‘State of the Nation's Children' report published by the Minister for Children recently, found that children in Ireland are doing well on physical activity, ranking second across the 32 WHO countries in being physically active for at least 4 hours per week.

Schools Building Projects.

Billy Timmins

Ceist:

303 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in relation to an application from a school (details supplied) in County Wicklow; if he will provide a firm commitment to proceed with funding for the new school within an agreed timetable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24341/08]

The school to which the Deputy refers has applied to my Department for capital funding for an extension project. The project is at an advanced stage of architectural planning. I can confirm to the Deputy that my Department considers that the development of the project to date is within its guidelines. There is no question of the school being penalised because of the time involved in the planning process. The progression of all major building projects, including this project, 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. However, in light of current competing demands on the capital budget of the Department and with the level of activity in the School Building Programme, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the further progression of the project at this time.

John Deasy

Ceist:

304 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason there are continuous delays with regard to the building programme at a school (details supplied) in County Waterford; the reason his Department has not forwarded a list of health and safety officers to the chairperson of the primary school; and when this will be resolved. [24347/08]

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 Tramore. 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 all schools in the town where the school referred to by the Deputy is located are being assessed as part of an overall delivery plan, which is currently being formulated within my Department. As is the case with all large capital projects, their progression to tender and construction, including the project in question will be considered in the context of the Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. My Department will be in contact with the school authorities about the matter as quickly as possible.

Joe Carey

Ceist:

305 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason the technical visit in relation to the extension for a school (details supplied) in County Clare has been postponed; if, in view of correspondence, he will undertake to have this visit take place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24351/08]

The school to which the Deputy refers has applied to my Department for capital funding for an extension project. The development of a building project for the school is at an early stage, and requires a technical visit to progress matters. As the Deputy will be aware, all applications for capital funding are prioritised and advanced incrementally by my Department. This applies to the progression of all preparatory work leading up to the construction phase. The priority attaching to individual projects is determined by published prioritisation criteria, which were formulated following consultation with the Education Partners. There are four band ratings under these criteria, each of which describes the extent of accommodation required and the urgency attaching to it. Band 1 is the highest priority rating and Band 4 is the lowest. The project for the school in question carries a Band 2.2 rating.

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. However, in light of current competing demands on the capital budget of the Department and with the level of activity in the School Building Programme, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the further progression of the project at this time. The Deputy will appreciate that the Department must, in the first instance, manage its resources to ensure that the projects which are in the programme are delivered. My Department will be arranging a site visit for the school in question as and when resources allow and when the project is ready to progress through the programme.

Special Educational Needs.

Joe McHugh

Ceist:

306 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason a person (details supplied) in County Donegal has been refused a special needs assistant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24357/08]

Joe McHugh

Ceist:

307 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason a person (details supplied) in County Donegal has been refused a special needs assistant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24358/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 306 and 307 together.

As the Deputy may be aware, the National Council for Special Education is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), for allocating resource teachers and special needs assistants (SNAs) to schools to support children with special needs. Applications for SNAs may be considered by the NCSE where a pupil has a significant medical need for such assistance, a significant impairment of physical or sensory function or where their behaviour is such that they are a danger to themselves or to other pupils. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support.

All schools have the names and contact details of their local SENO. Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available on www.ncse.ie. I have arranged for the details supplied by the Deputy to be forwarded to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply.

Ruairí Quinn

Ceist:

308 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science the proposals to install an emotional behavioural unit at a school (details supplied) in County Meath in view of the fact that children attending this school have to travel to a neighbouring county to attend a special needs unit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24375/08]

As the Deputy will be aware, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating resource teachers and special needs assistants to schools to support children with special needs. The SENOs also establish special classes where a need has been determined. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. All schools have the names and contact details of their local SENO. Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available on www.ncse.ie. I have arranged for the details supplied by the Deputy to be forwarded to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply.

School Accommodation.

David Stanton

Ceist:

309 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Science the forward planning that has been carried out in relation to the provision of primary school places in Youghal, County Cork; the number of primary school pupils enrolled in the three primary schools in Youghal; the projected number that will be enrolled in each of the schools for each of the next three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24379/08]

The number of primary school pupils enrolled in the three primary schools in Youghal for the current academic year is 796. The Forward Planning Section of my Department is in the process of identifying the areas where significant additional accommodation will be required at primary and post-primary level for 2009 and onwards. Factors under consideration include population growth, demographic trends, current and projected enrolments, recent and planned housing developments and capacity of existing schools to meet demand for places. Having considered these factors decisions will be taken on the means by which emerging needs will be met within an area. Primary accommodation requirements in the Youghal area will be considered in this context.

Special Educational Needs.

Michael D'Arcy

Ceist:

310 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Minister for Education and Science if a person (details supplied) in County Wexford is entitled to be given a copy of the individual education plan for their own perusal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24384/08]

Section 3(10) of the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004 will, when commenced, entitle parents to be provided with a copy of an individual education plan (IEP) prepared under the Act. This section has not yet been commenced. The preparation of IEPs represents good practice.

The Deputy may wish to note that in preparation for the statutory introduction of the IEP process, the National Council for Special Education published guidelines on IEPs and a copy issued to all primary and post primary schools at the commencement of the 2006/2007 school year. These guidelines provide advice and assistance to schools, teachers and parents on devising and implementing individual education plans and recommend that parents should always have a copy of their child's educational plan. Schools may use these guidelines to draw up school policies and procedures in relation to IEPs. A parent may raise any queries they have in relation to the IEP process with their child's school.

Schools Building Projects.

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

311 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Education and Science the progress regarding an application to provide an extension to a school (details supplied) in County Louth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24388/08]

The school to which the Deputy refers has applied to my Department for capital funding for an extension project. The architectural planning of the project is at an early stage. 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. However, in light of current competing demands on the capital budget of the Department and with the level of activity in the School Building Programme, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the further progression of the project at this time.

Pádraic McCormack

Ceist:

312 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in relation to a school (details supplied) in County Galway; the progress that has been made on this application since it first applied for a permanent school more than ten years ago; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24396/08]

The acquisition of the site for the school in question will be considered in the context of the capital budget available to my Department for school buildings generally. I am not in a position to say at this stage when the acquisition will be concluded.

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

313 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Science his plans for a new secondary school in an area (details supplied) in County Dublin; when this school will be open; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24532/08]

My Department is conscious of the extent of housing developments in the area referred to by the Deputy and the consequences which this has for school provision. Because of this, substantial additional accommodation has been provided in the area by my Department at both primary and post-primary level in recent years and this is set to continue for the foreseeable future.

Based on current demographic trends, my Department anticipates that there will be a need for a further post-primary school in the area referred to in the medium term and it has asked the Local Authority to identify a site for this development. A timeframe for the delivery of the school will be known when a suitable site has been identified and acquired. My Department is conscious of the lead-in period for the delivery of a post-primary school and it would be anxious to conclude the site issue as soon as possible. It will continue to engage with the local authority until this matter is resolved.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

314 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Education and Science when he will give permission to commence full construction of a school (details supplied) in County Limerick. [24536/08]

The school to which the Deputy refers is at an advanced stage of architectural planning. Tenders have been invited and returned and the project is now awaiting approval to proceed to construction. The commencement and progression 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. I am currently reviewing with my officials the Department's spending plans for this year, I am in the middle of this process and it will not be complete for some time. I will not be making decisions on any further capital expenditure until that process is completed. When this is done the school management will be informed of the position without delay.

School Staffing.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

315 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science his views on a submission (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24541/08]

All applications for capital funding are prioritised and advanced incrementally by my Department. The priority attaching to individual projects is determined by published prioritisation criteria, which were formulated following consultation with the Education Partners. There are four band ratings under these criteria, each of which describes the extent of accommodation required and the urgency attaching to it. Band 1 is the highest priority rating and Band 4 is the lowest. The progression of all large scale building projects 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. However, in light of current competing demands on the capital budget of the Department and with the level of activity in the School Building Programme, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the further progression of particular projects at this time.

The Deputy will appreciate that the Department must, in the first instance, manage its resources to ensure that the projects which are in the programme are delivered. I am currently reviewing with my officials the Department's spending plans for this year; I am in the middle of this process and it will not be complete for some time. I will not be making decisions on any further capital expenditure until that process is completed. When this is done relevant school managements will be informed of the position without delay.

In relation to the supply of qualified teachers, my Department continually monitors the situation in relation to retirements, demographics and the many other factors affecting the supply and demand of teachers, in the light of system needs, available resources and Government commitments. I am satisfied that my Department will take all possible steps to enable the future demand and need for teachers to be met. For the intake to the 2008 post graduate diploma in education (for primary teaching) my Department approved an additional 210 places, bringing the total number of entrants to 490. Approximately 1,000 students begin the B.Ed in Primary Teaching in the Colleges of Education annually and in addition, Hibernia College, a privately owned and funded institution admits approximately 500 post-graduate students to their primary teacher education programme each year. Therefore in 2008, almost 2,000 student teachers will begin their vocational training.

Mainstream staffing in primary schools is determined by reference to school enrolments on 30th September of the previous school year. The actual number of mainstream posts sanctioned is determined by reference to a staffing schedule which is issued to all primary schools each year. This is a transparent and clear way of ensuring that all schools are treated consistently and fairly and know where they stand. The schedule allocates teachers within enrolment bands and the current bands are based on an average of 27 pupils.

Under a system that allocates additional teachers at different step points under a common schedule it is a fact of life that changes in enrolment can effect the mainstream staffing of a school. In any year, and not just this year, when enrolments are falling in a school this can result in the loss of a teacher. Equally when enrolments increase a school can gain a teacher under the operation of the staffing schedule. While some 120 schools will lose a teacher in the next school year compared to this year there will still be a net increase of some 500 teachers due to an increase in enrolments.

The Programme for Government sets out the overarching policy position in relation to the provision of additional teachers and on reductions in class size over the life of the Government. While the Programme indicated a specific timeline in relation to further changes to the staffing schedule in order to reduce class sizes it simply was not possible to move any further in the current year. Even since the presentation of Budget 2008 last December there have been significant alterations in the external and domestic environment. In that context any reasonable observer would regard the fact that the Government has already taken measures that will see the allocation of over 2000 additional teachers to primary schools since last summer as a considerable investment all things considered.

In relation to the school referred to by the Deputy, data submitted to my Department by the school Board of Management, indicates that the enrolment in the school on 30th September 2006 was 566 pupils. In accordance with the staffing schedule (Circular 0020/2007) a hard copy of which has been issued to all primary schools and which is also available on my Department's website at www.education.ie, the mainstream staffing in the school for the 2007/08 school year is a Principal and 21 mainstream class teachers. The school enrolment on 30th September 2007 was reported as 558 pupils and in accordance with the staffing schedule, the mainstream staffing in the school for the 2008/09 school year will remain at a Principal and 21 mainstream class teachers.

Within the terms of the staffing arrangements for primary schools there is provision for additional posts, referred to as developing school posts, to be assigned to schools on the basis of projected enrolments for the next school year. Under these arrangements, a developing school post may be sanctioned provisionally where the projected enrolment at 30th September of the school year in question equals or exceeds a specified figure. If the specified figure is not achieved on 30th September, sanction for the post is withdrawn.

It is open to the Board of Management to submit an appeal under certain criteria to an independent Appeal Board which was established to adjudicate on appeals on mainstream staffing allocations in primary schools. Details of the criteria and application dates for appeal are contained in the staffing schedule. Appeals must be submitted to Primary Payments Section, Department of Education and Science, Athlone, on the standard application form, clearly stating the criterion under which the appeal is being made. The standard application form is available from the Primary Payments Section or on my Department's website. The Appeal Board operates independently of the Department and its decision is final.

Schools Building Projects.

Catherine Byrne

Ceist:

316 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Science the status of a school building project (details supplied) in Dublin 12; the band rating of this project; if he will give this project the final go-ahead in view of the fact that it has been approved since 2000 and is ready for building work to commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24549/08]

As the Deputy is aware, all applications for large scale capital funding are assessed against published prioritisation criteria which were formulated following consultation with the Education Partners. Under the criteria, each project is assigned a band rating which reflects the type of works required and the urgency attaching to them. There are four band ratings in all with Band 1 being the highest and Band 4 the lowest. A Band 2 rating has been assigned to the project in question.

The architectural planning of the project referred to by the Deputy is at an advanced stage. 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. However, in light of current competing demands on the capital budget of the Department, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of the project at this time.

School Services Staff.

Tom Hayes

Ceist:

317 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of school secretaries employed in south Tipperary paid through the system where school boards use grants for their salary; the hourly rates of pay for these secretaries; the number of those who work for less than the minimum wage; if these secretaries are given proper sick leave, maternity leave and pension entitlements; his views on whether this situation is desirable; and his further views on whether his Department should run such a system while also encouraging private companies to comply with employment law. [24558/08]

In general the arrangements for supporting secretarial and caretaking services in schools mirror those for providing support funding to schools. Primary and secondary schools are funded through capitation grants and likewise secretarial and caretaking services are funded by grants that are related to the number of pupils in the school. It is the case that a small number of primary and post-primary schools continue to have caretaker and secretary posts funded under a scheme that was put in place in 1978 but which is being phased out as it has been superseded by the grant scheme that I have mentioned. The original 1978 scheme covered a relatively small number of primary and secondary schools and the decision to phase it out was part of a policy decision to spread the support more widely and ultimately cover all primary and secondary schools with funding for such services.

The funding approach adopted for caretaking and secretarial provision in second level schools in the VEC and Community and Comprehensive sectors schools is in line with the funding mechanisms that apply generally in those schools. The amount of funding given to primary and secondary schools is not directly linked to any particular pay rates and furthermore schools have discretion how to apply this funding across their support service needs. My Department does not have a direct role in determining the pay and conditions under which they are engaged. These are matters to be agreed between the staff concerned and the school authorities. However, Boards of Management of individual schools whether in South Tipperary or elsewhere are expected to comply with employment legislation and are advised accordingly in guidance from my Department.

In the context of discussions on the Social Partnership Agreement Towards 2016 an Informal Forum was established in the public sector to explore a number of staffing-related issues arising in companies/bodies operating in the voluntary/community sector that are largely funded from public funds. As part of that informal process my Department has facilitated a number of meetings between the managerial bodies of schools employing secretaries and caretakers and the IMPACT and SIPTU trade unions representing the grades concerned. The most recent meeting took place on 11th March 2008 at which my officials undertook to continue to facilitate those discussions. In addition representatives of the management bodies of schools agreed to meet separately with the trade unions concerned on issues of concern to their members.

Departmental Expenditure.

Tom Hayes

Ceist:

318 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the expenditure for each of the past ten years on the supply of temporary prefabricated buildings for primary schools and to upkeep prefabricated temporary buildings for primary schools; the amount of the school buildings budget that this represents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24595/08]

Expenditure incurred on the purchase of temporary primary school accommodation since 1998 is detailed in the following table. Expenditure incurred on maintenance or upkeep of accommodation — temporary or permanent — is a recurrent cost as distinct from a capital cost. Such expenditure falls to be funded from schools' recurrent sources of funding which are financed from capitation grants. Detailed breakdown of such expenditure is not available within my Department.

Primary

Prefab Spend

Yearly Spend

% on Prefab

€m

%

1998

1,517,324.23

60.1

2.52

1999

1,624,562.98

76.6

2.12

2000

1,358,335.70

102.9

1.32

2001

5,557,447.93

139.8

3.97

2002

17,376,034.21

172.7

10.06

2003

21,669,430.93

175.4

12.35

2004

8,745,049.73

170.6

5.12

2005

4,434,603.63

266.6

1.66

2006

2,165,186.34

244.8

0.88

2007

1,939,376.54

398.5

0.49

Total

66,387,352.22

1.808.0

3.67

Tom Hayes

Ceist:

319 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the cost in every year for the past ten years of renting buildings and rooms for the purposes of primary education, including staff, students, and equipment; the percentage that this represents of the education budget as a whole; and the percentage that this represents of the school buildings budget. [24598/08]

Tom Hayes

Ceist:

321 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the cost each year for the past ten years of renting buildings and rooms for the purpose of secondary education, including staff, students, and equipment; the percentage this represents of the education budget as a whole; and the percentage this represents of the school buildings budget. [24600/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 319 and 321 together.

The information on expenditure on the rental of temporary accommodation is provided in the following table. The Deputy will be aware that demand for additional accommodation in schools has risen significantly over the last number of years, with the appointment of 6,000 extra teachers in the primary sector alone since 2002. In considering the need to provide extra resource and other teachers to schools in recent years, the Government could have decided to make children wait until permanent accommodation could be provided. However, we prioritised putting the extra teachers into schools as soon as possible. Against this background, my Department has nonetheless managed to keep expenditure on temporary accommodation low.

It should be noted that temporary accommodation is not limited to prefabs and can also involve the rental of high quality buildings. As can be seen from the following table, the spend on temporary accommodation over the past ten years represents a small fraction of the overall yearly spend on school buildings and of the education budget as a whole.

Year

Total School Building Unit (S.B.U.) Capital Expenditure at Primary Level

Expenditure on Rental of Temporary School Premises (including prefab classrooms) Primary Level

Rental of Temporary School Premises (including prefab classrooms) as a % of total S.B.U. Capital Expenditure Primary Level

€m

€m

%

1998

60.13

1.34

2.23

1999

76.62

2.35

3.07

2000

102.98

4.00

3.88

2001

139.83

6.10

4.36

2002

172.79

8.40

4.86

2003

175.44

9.40

5.36

2004

170.67

11.30

6.62

2005

266.68

15.70

5.89

2006

244.90

24.51

10.01

2007

398.56

34.50

8.66

Year

Total School Building Unit Capital Expenditure at Post-Primary Level

Expenditure on Rental of Temporary School Premises (including prefab classrooms) Post-Primary Level

Rental of Temporary School Premises (including prefab classrooms) as a % of total S.B.U. Capital Expenditure Post-Primary Level

€m

€m

%

1998

73.12

0.00

n/a

1999

117.41

0.00

n/a

2000

154.53

0.00

n/a

2001

177.86

0.00

n/a

2002

171.35

0.00

n/a

2003

151.52

0.00

n/a

2004

162.45

0.00

n/a

2005

234.58

0.00

n/a

2006

249.48

0.00

n/a

2007

247.47

1.00

0.4

Year

Vote Out-turn

Rental of temporary premises (including prefab classrooms) as a % of vote out-turn Primary

Rental of temporary premises (including prefab classrooms) as a % of vote out-turn Post Primary

€bn

%

%

1998

3,191,856

0.04

n/a

1999

3,494,244

0.07

n/a

2000

4,052,552

0.10

n/a

2001

4,657,078

0.13

n/a

2002

5,200,714

0.16

n/a

2003

5,683,820

0.17

n/a

2004

6,309,658

0.18

n/a

2005

6,934,654

0.23

n/a

2006

7,614,380

0.32

n/a

*2007

8,477,227

0.41

0.01

*The 2007 figures are provisional until the audit of the 2007 accounts is signed off by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Tom Hayes

Ceist:

320 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the cost in every year for the past ten years to supply temporary prefabricated buildings for secondary schools and to upkeep prefabricated temporary buildings for secondary schools; the amount of the school buildings budget this represents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24599/08]

Expenditure incurred on the maintenance or upkeep of accommodation — temporary or permanent — is a recurrent cost as distinct from a capital cost. Such expenditure falls to be funded from schools' recurrent sources of funding which are financed from capitation grants. Detailed breakdown of such expenditure is not available within my Department. Please see the following table, outlining expenditure incurred on the purchase of temporary post primary school accommodation since 1998.

Year

Budget

Temporary Accommodation

Percentage of Budget

1998

73,118,876.00

3,276,065

4.48

1999

117,398,275.00

2,701,417

2.30

2000

154,501,558.00

3,051,904

1.98

2001

177,903,205.00

3,550,642

2.00

2002

171,346,128.00

4,087,543

2.39

2003

151,495,195.00

4,169,023

2.75

2004

162,406,363.00

3,966,753

2.44

2005

234,581,521.00

2,033,396

0.87

2006

249,480,066.00

1,235,845

0.50

2007

247,467,542.33

2,474,651

1.00

Total

1,739,698,729.33

30,547,240

1.76

Question No. 321 answered with Question No. 319.

Tom Hayes

Ceist:

322 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the cost each year for the past ten years of renting buildings and rooms for the purpose of third level education, including staff, students, and equipment; the percentage this represents of the education budget as a whole; and the percentage this represents of the school buildings budget. [24601/08]

My Department does not provide capital funding to rent buildings or rooms for the purpose of third level education. Capital funding is used for the purchase of buildings, for new builds or refurbishment. Universities and Institutes of Technology, which are autonomous institutions, receive recurrent funding in the form of a block grant from the Higher Education Authority (HEA). The disbursement of such funding internally is a matter for each institution to determine in the light of its priorities. Expenditure incurred on rental costs is a recurrent as distinct from a capital cost. Data regarding expenditure incurred, on rental, by these institutions are not readily available within my Department.

Schools Building Projects.

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

323 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the primary and post-primary schools in County Galway that have applied for capital funding for major building projects; the priority band rating which has been applied to each school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24621/08]

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

324 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the primary and post-primary schools in County Mayo that have applied for capital funding for major building projects; the priority band rating which has been applied to each school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24622/08]

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

325 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the primary and post-primary schools in County Sligo that have applied for capital funding for major building projects; the priority band rating which has been applied to each school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24623/08]

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

326 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the primary and post-primary schools in County Leitrim that have applied for capital funding for major building projects; the priority band rating which has been applied to each school. [24624/08]

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

327 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the primary and post-primary schools in County Roscommon that have applied for capital funding for major building projects; the priority band rating which has been applied to each school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24625/08]

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

328 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the primary and post-primary schools in County Kerry that have applied for capital funding for major building projects; the priority band rating which has been applied to each school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24626/08]

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

329 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the primary and post-primary schools in County Cork that have applied for capital funding for major building projects; the priority band rating which has been applied to each school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24627/08]

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

330 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the primary and post-primary schools in County Limerick that have applied for capital funding for major building projects; the priority band rating which has been applied to each school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24628/08]

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

331 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the primary and post-primary schools in County Waterford that have applied for capital funding for major building projects; the priority band rating which has been applied to each school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24629/08]

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

332 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the primary and post-primary schools in County Tipperary that have applied for capital funding for major building projects; the priority band rating which has been applied to each school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24630/08]

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

333 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the primary and post-primary schools in County Dublin that have applied for capital funding for major building projects; the priority band rating which has been applied to each school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24631/08]

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

334 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the primary and post-primary schools in County Louth that have applied for capital funding for major building projects; the priority band rating which has been applied to each school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24632/08]

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

335 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the primary and post-primary schools in County Meath that have applied for capital funding for major building projects; the priority band rating which has been applied to each school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24633/08]

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

336 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the primary and post-primary schools in County Kildare that have applied for capital funding for major building projects; the priority band rating which has been applied to each school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24634/08]

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

337 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the primary and post-primary schools in County Wicklow that have applied for capital funding for major building projects; the priority band rating which has been applied to each school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24635/08]

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

338 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the primary and post-primary schools in County Wexford that have applied for capital funding for major building projects; the priority band rating which has been applied to each school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24636/08]

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

339 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the primary and post-primary schools in County Carlow that have applied for capital funding for major building projects; the priority band rating which has been applied to each school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24637/08]

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

340 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the primary and post-primary schools in County Kilkenny that have applied for capital funding for major building projects; the priority band rating which has been applied to each school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24638/08]

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

341 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the primary and post-primary schools in County Offaly that have applied for capital funding for major building projects; the priority band rating which has been applied to each school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24639/08]

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

342 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the primary and post-primary schools in County Laois that have applied for capital funding for major building projects; the priority band rating which has been applied to each school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24640/08]

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

343 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the primary and post-primary schools in County Westmeath that have applied for capital funding for major building projects; the priority band rating which has been applied to each school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24641/08]

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

344 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the primary and post-primary schools in County Longford that have applied for capital funding for major building projects; the priority band rating which has been applied to each school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24642/08]

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

345 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the primary and post-primary schools in County Donegal that have applied for capital funding for major building projects; the priority band rating which has been applied to each school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24643/08]

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

346 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the primary and post-primary schools in County Cavan that have applied for capital funding for major building projects; the priority band rating which has been applied to each school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24644/08]

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

347 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the primary and post-primary schools in County Monaghan that have applied for capital funding for major building projects; the priority band rating which has been applied to each school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24645/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 323 to 347, inclusive, together.

The information sought by the Deputy is being compiled and will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.

School Accommodation.

Pat Breen

Ceist:

348 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Education and Science when payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24651/08]

A payment in regard to additional works sanctioned for this project was made to the school in question in March 2008. Arrangements to pay a further amount due have been made following receipt of responses to some outstanding queries on these payments. In line with the letter of approval issued to the school, outlining the terms and conditions under which grant aid would be paid, any remaining balance, relating to collection and removal costs, will not be grant aided until the termination of the rental arrangement of the temporary accommodation.

School Curriculum.

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

349 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science if his Department has plans to introduce cooking as a compulsory subject on the schools curriculum; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24653/08]

The concepts of ‘Balanced Eating' and ‘Healthy Exercise' underlie the Junior Cycle and Senior Cycle syllabi in the Home Economics curriculum at post-primary level. One of the five areas of study in the Home Economics Syllabus at Junior Certificate level is Food Studies and Culinary Skills. The purpose of the Culinary Skills component is to ensure that each student is capable of completing a range of skills necessary to be self-sufficient in the planning, preparation, cooking and presentation of food for individual and family groups. Culinary Skills also helps develop and highlight particular aptitudes in the culinary areas and may help to develop students' interest in the vocational aspects of the food industry.

The Home Economics — scientific and social — syllabus is an applied subject for Leaving Certificate combining theory with practice in order to develop understanding and solve problems. One of the core areas of the Leaving Certificate Home Economics syllabus is Food Studies which has been designed to enable students to have the knowledge and understanding of food and food-related issues necessary for personal and family health and to develop and extend organisational, manipulative and creative skills in relation to the preparation, cooking and presentation of food. The most extensive topic covered in the Food Studies area is the preparation and processing of food. This includes the Irish food industry, food commodities, meal management and planning, food preparation and cooking processes, food processing and packaging, food additives, food legislation, food spoilage, preservation, and food safety and hygiene.

In addition to the curriculum itself, my Department participates in initiatives such as National Healthy Eating Week, which is promoted by the Department of Health and Children in co-operation with my Department and the Association of Teachers of Home Economics. It is a themed week during which activities to promote the concept of healthy eating to the whole school are organised and delivered through the medium of Home Economics including cookery demonstrations, projects, and displays.

Schools Refurbishment.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

350 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Education and Science if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a school (details supplied) in County Monaghan is in financial crisis due to the lack of funding allocated by his Department towards the building of an extension, that his Department allocated €478,000 to the project while the lowest tender for the development was €555,735, and that due to the unforeseen presence of rock in the grounds of the school the costs of the works have increased by €32,000; and if in view of this he will re-examine this application. [24654/08]

As part of the expansion of the Small Schools Scheme 2007, a grant of €484,000 was sanctioned for the school in question to enable the Board of Management to extend and refurbish their school. The scheme is not intended to leave schools with significant fund-raising needs. Rather the terms of the Scheme require the schools to tailor the scope of capital works commissioned to the available funding. The decision on whether to continue participating in the scheme or to drop out, if the scope of build is more than the funding envelope permits, is a matter for each school authority. A central tenet of the devolved scheme is that the school, granted discretion and funding, must equally accept responsibility for prioritisation, adherence to statutory regulations, as well as control of costs and ensuring value for money.

The authorities of the Lisdoonan school accepted the grant offer and returned a form of undertaking agreeing to comply with the requirements of the scheme in March 2007. A letter and project cost details was received in May indicating that the total cost of the school's building proposals would amount to €585,775, an excess of €101,775 over the €484,000 on offer to the school. The school submitted an appeal that the shortfall be funded by my Department. This request for significant additional funding was considered in my Department. However, in line with the original intention of the Small Schools Scheme, it was considered that the school should be encouraged to complete the project within the funding envelope provided and, accordingly, the application for additional grant aid was not granted.

In the current economic climate and with considerable demands on the capital budget of my Department, it is not possible to entertain such significant increases in the amounts grant aided to schools. It is the responsibility of the school authorities to manage the resources allocated to them to ensure maximum value for money and to control costs. In this instance, having examined the application for additional funding, the Department was not in a position to increase the grant already allocated and accordingly, further grant aid was refused.

School Enrolments.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

351 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science, further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 686, 687, 723 and 724 of 17 June 2008, if he will provide this Deputy with the census returns made by the primary schools listed for 2007/2008 and the three previous years. [24660/08]

The information requested by the Deputy is not readily available and would take an inordinate amount of administrative time to compile.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

352 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of children in classes of 20 pupils or less and the number of children in classes of 30 pupils or more in the latest year for which he has information nationally, in Dublin and in schools in the different postal districts of Dublin. [24661/08]

Over 75% of pupils are in classes of less than 30 pupils. Schools have flexibility in the way in which they assign pupils and teachers to classes and the Department does not allocate teachers to specific classes or age groups. The mainstream staffing of a primary school is determined by reference to the enrolment of the school on 30th September of the previous school year. The actual number of mainstream posts sanctioned is determined by reference to a staffing schedule which is issued to all primary schools each year. Posts allocated on the basis of this staffing schedule are specifically for mainstream classes and should be deployed accordingly. School authorities are requested to ensure that the number of pupils in any class is kept as low as possible, taking all relevant contextual factors into account (e.g. classroom accommodation, fluctuating enrolment). In particular, school authorities should ensure that there is an equitable distribution of pupils in mainstream classes and that the differential between the largest and smallest classes is kept to a minimum.

The following table shows the number of pupils in classes under 20 and 30 and over in primary schools nationally and in each Dublin County Council in the 2006/07 school-year. Data are not readily available for 20 and under as distinct from under 20 shown in the following table. Also, the data are not available at Dublin postal district level. Preliminary indications from my Department's analysis of statistical returns from schools for the current school year appear to indicate that there has been a drop in the numbers of pupils in classes of over 30 pupils. The analysis of all the returns from schools has yet to be completed and the final outcome will be published later in the summer.

Under 20 (1-19)

30 and over

Nationally

62,544

109,376

Dublin City

8,692

8,030

Fingal

1,295

8,175

Dublin South

3,436

6,182

Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown

1,513

4,889

Site Acquisitions.

Áine Brady

Ceist:

353 Deputy Áine Brady asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in relation to the purchase of a permanent site for a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24662/08]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the Department has been in recent communication with the VEC in relation to the negotiations for the site in question. The conclusion of same can only be considered in the context of the capital budget available to my Department for school buildings generally. I am not in a position to say at this stage when the acquisition will be concluded.

Schools Refurbishment.

Tom Hayes

Ceist:

354 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding a school (details supplied) in County Tipperary which has applied for emergency funding in respect of repairs to the roof of the school. [24677/08]

An application for funding for roof repairs in respect of the school referred to by the Deputy was received in my Department. Emergency works grants are made available to schools most in need of resources as a result of unforeseen emergencies of a capital nature that may arise during the school year. Following assessment of the application from this school and in light of the large number of projects seeking funding from my Department for works of this nature from the budget allocated, it was not possible to provide funding under the Emergency Works Scheme on this occasion for the works sought.

Early School Leavers.

Mary Upton

Ceist:

355 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Education and Science the tracking systems in place to ensure that students do not fall through the net between primary and secondary schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24691/08]

Mary Upton

Ceist:

356 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Education and Science the provisions in place to track early school leavers; the numbers of students who have left school early in the academic years 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24692/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 355 and 356 together.

My Department has adopted a broad-based approach to tackling early school-leaving. The Education (Welfare) Act, 2000 established the National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) as the national body with responsibility for school attendance. The Act provides a comprehensive framework, promoting regular school attendance and tackling the problems of absenteeism and early school leaving. The general functions of the Board are to ensure that each child attends a recognized school or otherwise receives a certain minimum education. The Board operates through 5 regional teams, with bases in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford. A service is provided from 26 locations nationwide.

Educational Welfare Officers (EWOs) are appointed and deployed throughout the country to discharge the Board's functions locally. EWOs employ a welfare oriented approach in the interests of the children and young people who do not attend school regularly, working collaboratively with schools and other agencies in meeting the needs of the children and the young people concerned. It is encouraging to note research findings that attendance at school in the areas where EWOs are working intensively improved by 4% in 2004/05 compared with the previous year.

Enhancing attendance, progression, retention and attainment are central to DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools), the action plan for educational inclusion, which is being implemented at present. This is the first time that an integrated educational inclusion strategy has been developed for 3-18 year olds in the State. DEIS represents a shift in emphasis away from individual initiatives, each addressing particular problems, to a multifaceted and more integrated approach. Additional supports are being targeted at children in the most disadvantaged schools to encourage them to stay in school. The key principle of early intervention, to identify and help children at risk of leaving school early, is a major component of the Plan.

Working with parents to promote school attendance and retention is an important part of the work of the Home School Community Liaison Scheme (HSCL). In addition to this, the School Completion Programme is developing strong links between primary and post-primary schools in disadvantaged areas. These are two preventative measures designed to combat issues of poor attendance and early school leaving. Children at risk of early school leaving are targeted under the School Completion Programme for a variety of extra supports aimed at encouraging them to stay in school. The supports cover both educational and non-educational interventions and are provided during and outside of school time. The Home School Community Liaison Scheme works to involve parents in their children's education which is a crucial component in convincing young people of the value of education.

Under DEIS, a continuing emphasis will be placed on the development of effective transfer programmes for pupils making the transition to second-level, by building on the existing work of HSCL scheme and the School Completion Programme in this area. Initiatives such as Familiarisation Days and week-long transfer programmes for new entrants to second level have been shown to have very positive results in helping children to make a smooth transition to their new school. Other measures facilitated through the DEIS action plan include extending access to Schools' Business Partnerships, school meals, guidance counselling and student councils. Increased integration is also being promoted between the work of second level schools and centres catering for young early school leavers, particularly Youthreach Centres and Senior Traveller Training centres. This Government has shown a sustained commitment to providing greater opportunities in the further education sector by supporting second chance educational opportunities for young people who leave school.

The range of curricula available to students has also been extended to include the Junior Certificate Schools Programme, the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme and the Leaving Certificate Applied Programme. These options provide an alternative for many children who might otherwise opt out of formal education at an early stage.

In relation to the Deputy's particular question the latest data available on school leavers is the ESRI school leaver survey, conducted in 2006 and covering the 2003/2004 cohort of leavers. The survey shows that 82% of the cohort left having completed upper second level education, 14% of leavers had completed lower second level education. In addition, my Department published a statistical report in March 2008 tracking the retention rates of over 60,000 pupils who started their second level education in 1999. Almost 84% of these pupils completed second level compared with just over 81% three years earlier. It is the third such report tracking pupil retention and the trend is showing yearly improvements in retention rates.

The report provides data on pupils who entered the first year of the junior cycle in 1997, 1998 and 1999, most of whom completed their senior cycle five to six years following the year of intake. The reports do not take into account students pursuing other educational pathways such as Youthreach or apprenticeship training. Section 29 of the Education (Welfare) Act, 2000 provides for the establishment and maintenance by the National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) of a register of young persons aged 16 and 17 who leave school to take up employment. The purpose of the register is to ensure that the young people concerned continue to participate in education until they reach 18 years of age. The NEWB will in the near future conclude the establishment of the register and details of any early school leavers who contact the NEWB directly are recorded by the Board.

Work is ongoing to develop appropriate protocols for all agencies and services to work together and to ensure that optimum use is made of the resources deployed. I would like to assure the Deputy that through increased investment and improved services this government is determined to optimise access, participation and educational outcomes at every level of the system. It will continue to do all that is possible to ensure that every child gets all the opportunities and support they need to enable them to achieve their potential and participate fully in education.

Energy Efficiency.

Mary Upton

Ceist:

357 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will assist in putting in place an energy audit for all primary and post-primary schools in order to assist schools in tackling increasing energy costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24693/08]

My Department has a strong record in developing low energy educational buildings. For the past nine years my Department has been using a process called the DART Approach to develop sustainable and energy efficiency in educational buildings. This acronym focuses on four key areas, namely; Design, Awareness, Research, and Technology. Rather than develop a unique focus on energy design my Department has taken a more holistic approach and has developed our 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. There is particular emphasis on elimination of over design, improved thermal envelope design and improved passive solar design, natural ventilation and day lighting along with advanced heating and lighting controls.

It has been demonstrated that all Primary Schools designed and built in line with the above policy and the technical guidance documents can have an energy performance that is 2.3 times more efficient than International best practice. The performance of my Department in the area of low energy design has been recognised at both National and International level with sustainable energy awards for excellence in Design and Specification and just recently by the Taoiseach's Public Service Excellence Awards held in Dublin Castle Conference Centre on Friday, 18th April 2008.

One of the research projects currently underway by my Department is developing a project, in conjunction with Sustainable Energy Ireland, aimed at helping existing schools to meet the certification requirements of the Energy Performance Building Directive. This process will allow all schools to conduct an energy audit of their school and energy usage and to input specific information to the Departments energy website. The school will then not only receive information on their actual energy use and environmental emissions but will also be able to compare the schools energy performance relative to that of other school buildings in the form of an energy rating. They will also be able to receive energy saving advice from the website relative to their school buildings and to view case studies of similar schools and how they achieve better energy savings. The data gathering, energy auditing and benchmarking and website development aspects of the project are complete and validation of the system will be completed in the autumn.

Youthreach Programme.

Michael Creed

Ceist:

358 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Education and Science the location of all Youthreach facilities in County Cork. [24700/08]

There are a total of 12 Youthreach Centres located in County Cork catering for up to 402 learners. 7 of the centres are managed by County Cork VEC and 5 are managed by City of Cork VEC. The locations of the centres are listed below:

1. Ballyellis, Mallow.

2. Colaiste Eoin, Golf Links Road, Youghal.

3. Unit 4/5 Great Island Enterprise Park, Inishmore, Ballincollig.

4. College Road, Fermoy.

5. Station Road, Bandon.

6. Millstreet Road, Macroom.

7. Lahadane, Bantry.

8. Teach Barra, Dean Street, Cork.

9. c/o Terence McSweeney Community College, Harbour View Road, Knocknaheeny, Cork.

10. The Glen Community & Resource Centre, Glen Avenue, The Glen, Cork.

11. Cork City Learning Support Services, 16 Fr. Matthew Street, Cork.

12. c/o Nagle Community College, Mahon, Cork.

Schools Amalgamation.

Jimmy Deenihan

Ceist:

359 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding the amalgamation of schools (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24720/08]

An assessment of projected enrolment trends, demographic trends and housing developments to determine the long term projected staffing for the project to which the Deputy refers is on-going. When this matter has been finalised progress on the building project itself will be considered in the context of the Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation programme. However, in light of current competing demands on the capital budget of the Department, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of the project at this time.

Question No. 360 answered with Question No. 282.

Official Engagements.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

361 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Defence if, during his meeting on 1 March 2006 with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, he raised concerns relating to the human rights situation in Liberia; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24278/08]

During the period 28 February, 2006, to 2 March, 2006, I visited Liberia where I met with the Irish personnel of the 94th Infantry Battalion, United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). The primary purpose of my visit was to see at first hand the work of the Irish Defence Forces Personnel serving with UNMIL and to convey to them, on behalf of the Government and the people of Ireland, the deep appreciation felt regarding the outstanding manner in which they perform their duties in this challenging mission.

During the course of that visit, I met with President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who was accompanied by her Minister for Foreign Affairs, George Wallace and her Special Security Adviser. The President expressed her gratitude to the Irish Government for the Defence Forces contribution to peace in Liberia and the vital role played by them in maintaining the peace, which she stated had been exceptional. In the course of our discussion I mentioned UNMIL's role in assisting in the provision of humanitarian assistance and the promotion of human rights. We also discussed the importance of ensuring the protection of human rights and the observance of International humanitarian law in building confidence in the security institutions of the State.

Defence Forces Equipment.

Tony Gregory

Ceist:

362 Deputy Tony Gregory asked the Minister for Defence, further to Parliamentary Question No. 775 of 17 June 2008, if he will list all of the weaponry decommissioned and so on during the period referred to. [24547/08]

According to available records, during the period referred to by the Deputy, the following type of service weapons were converted to scrap in Clancy Barracks:

81mm Mortars

Gustaf Sub Machine Guns

AA 52 MGs Vehicle and Aircraft type

Panhard 60mm CS Mortars

90mm RCL Guns

RCL 7.62mm Ranging Weapons

7.62mm Sub Calibre Adapters

The weapons were then removed for final disposal to the former Irish Steel plant in Haulbowline, Co. Cork for reprocessing.

Crime Levels.

David Stanton

Ceist:

363 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on recent statistics on white collar crime and the trends in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24813/08]

The figures published by the Central Statistics Office for the first quarter of 2008 show a decrease of 18.6% in the number of fraud, deception and related offences when compared with the same quarter last year. However, they also show an increase of 17.1% in such offences year-on-year. In response to this trend, one of the policing priorities for the Garda Síochána for 2008, which were set by my predecessor under section 20 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, is to focus on high value white-collar crime, particularly that of trading in contraband goods.

The Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation (GBFI) investigates fraud on a national basis, principally dealing with the more complex of cases. The primary objective of the GBFI is to investigate serious cases of commercial fraud, cheque and credit card fraud, computer fraud, money laundering offences and counterfeit currency; to collate information and intelligence and act as a resource centre on fraud related matters; and to play a pro-active role in the prevention and detection of fraud. The Bureau maintains extensive liaison with the business and commercial sectors of the community, in addition to all the relevant regulatory agencies within the State. There is a wide range of fraud prevention advice available on the website of An Garda Síochána covering areas such as ATM fraud, identity theft, counterfeit currency and unsolicited emails.

I am informed that An Garda Síochána has received complaints from members of the public relating to fraudulent withdrawals from their bank accounts. The offences are committed using a technique known as phishing, the theft or attempted theft of personal information using e-mail and bogus web-sites. The act of phishing constitutes a number of offences contained in the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001.

I am further informed that a number of persons have been prosecuted on charges of theft offences relating to phishing incidents where the proceeds of fraudulent withdrawals have been transferred to an apparently legitimate account which has been used to facilitate the withdrawal of the stolen funds. An Garda Síochána is working with the banking industry to counteract this phenomenon. A High-Tech Crime Forum has been established with all relevant stakeholders including An Garda Síochána and the financial services Industry, including the banking sector. This forum facilitates the rapid dissemination of information related to phishing and other methods being used in an attempt to compromise banking services.

The EU Money Laundering Directive (2005/60/EC) increases the obligations on financial and credit institutions and a range of other designated persons in relation to combating money laundering and anti-terrorist financing. The Bill, which has received Government approval, is currently being drafted following an in-depth consultation process with relevant and interested parties. My Department and the Garda authorities will continue to keep developments in this area under review.

Asylum Applications.

Sean Sherlock

Ceist:

364 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if an application by a person (details supplied) in County Cork is being expedited; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24272/08]

The person concerned arrived in the State on 11 September 2003 and applied for asylum. Her application was refused following consideration of her case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 21 March 2005, that the Minister proposed to make a deportation order in respect of her. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a deportation order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why she should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. Representations have been submitted on behalf of the person concerned and will be fully considered, under Section 3 (6) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement, before the file is passed to me for decision.

Public Order Offences.

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

365 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of anti-social behaviour orders that have been successfully implemented in 2008 by An Garda Síochána; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24317/08]

The following revised reply was received on 14 July 2008.

Part 11 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006, which provides for civil proceedings in relation to anti-social behaviour by adults, was commenced on 1 January, 2007. Part 13 of the Act, relating to anti-social behaviour by children, was commenced on 1 March, 2007. These provisions set out an incremental procedure for addressing anti-social behaviour by adults and children. With regard to children, these range from a warning from a member of An Garda Síochána, to a good behaviour contract involving the child and his or her parents or guardian, to referral to the Garda Juvenile Diversion Programme and to the making of a behaviour order by the Children's Court.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that from January to May, 2008, 255 behaviour warnings were issued to adults and 223 to children. There were six formal good behaviour contracts, which are used only in the case of children, agreed.

In setting up the regime, the intention was that these warnings or good behaviour contracts would themselves address the problem behaviour. It is only if they fail that a court order will be applied for. In any case, it inevitably takes time to reach the stage where a court order itself might be sought. No significance therefore should be attached to the fact that the stage has not yet been reached in the process where a court order has been issued. Where warnings or good behaviour contracts do not succeed in altering a person's behaviour, however, they will culminate in a court order being sought by the Garda authorities from the courts.

Visa Applications.

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

366 Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to an application for a visa extension for a person (details supplied) in County Wexford; if a refusal of a visa extension in these circumstances is conducive to retention of non-Irish national nurses in the health service here; if he will sympathetically review this application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24319/08]

I can assure the Deputy that my Department has always facilitated the introduction and retention of nurses and other members of the medical profession from abroad in taking up employment in the health service in Ireland when there is a requirement for such services. The Immigration Division of my Department has informed me that the particular person referred to in the Deputy's question was granted a short stay (C) visit visa to enter the State to visit her daughter for a period of 90 days. She is now seeking an extension of her permission to remain in the State in order to care for her grandchildren.

A wrap-around information sheet accompanies every short stay (C) visit visa application form. That sheet makes it clear to the applicant that persons granted visas for particular purposes are not permitted to remain in the State for any purpose other than that for which the visa was granted and that the period of stay is for a maximum of 90 days. It is the policy of my Department not to extend a permission to remain to persons who are admitted for a period of 90 days or less on a short stay (C) visit visa, save in very exceptional and unforeseen circumstances. The request for an extension of the Visa was refused and notification of this decision was issued by the Immigration Division on the 10th June 2008. The person referred to in the Deputy's question must now leave and reapply from outside the State should she wish to return to Ireland. She should include in her new visa application the purpose and duration of her intended stay.

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

367 Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the basis for refusal of visitor visas to persons (details supplied); if he will sympathetically review the refusal decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24346/08]

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the visa applications referred to have been approved following appeal.

Citizenship Applications.

Joe McHugh

Ceist:

368 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if the naturalisation process will be expedited in exceptional circumstances for persons (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24359/08]

The Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1956, as amended, provides that the Minister may, in his absolute discretion, grant an application for a certificate of naturalisation provided certain statutory conditions are fulfilled. These conditions are that the applicant must:

be of full age, or by way of exception, be a minor born in the State

be of good character

have had a period of one year's continuous residency in the State immediately before the date of application and, during the eight years immediately preceding that period, have had a total residence in the State amounting to four years

intend in good faith to continue to reside in the State after naturalisation

have made, either before a Judge of the District Court in open court or in such a manner as the Minister for special reasons allows, a declaration in the prescribed manner, of fidelity to the nation and loyalty to the State.

In the context of naturalisation, certain periods of residence in the State are excluded. These include:

periods of residence in respect of which an applicant does not have permission to remain in the State

periods granted for the purposes of study

periods granted for the purposes of seeking recognition as a refugee within the meaning of the Refugee Act, 1996

Normally, an application on behalf of a minor child cannot be made until one of the parents or guardians is naturalised. Currently there are 19,700 applications on hand to be dealt with. These are generally dealt with in chronological order as this is deemed to be the fairest to all applicants. There is a current waiting period of up to thirty months to process an application for citizenship. An application for citizenship has not been received in this case from either parents, or child, to date. It is open to the individuals concerned to lodge applications if and when they are in a position to meet the statutory residency requirements.

Proposed Legislation.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

369 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when he will publish the Civil Partnership Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24367/08]

The Government today approved for publication my proposals for the heads of a Civil Partnership Bill. Arrangements are being made to publish the details of my proposals on my Department's website.

Residency Permits.

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

370 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding an application for long-term residency by a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [24373/08]

I am advised by officials in the long term residency section of my Department that long term residency is an administrative scheme introduced in May 2004 and is focused on persons who have been legally resident in the State for over five years on the basis of work permit / work authorisation / work visa conditions. Such persons may apply to the Immigration Division of my Department for a five year residency extension. In that context they may also apply to be exempt from employment permit requirements. Time spent in the State on student conditions cannot be counted towards long term residency. While applications for long term residency are under consideration, the person concerned should ensure that their permission to remain in the State is kept up to date.

An application for long term residency from the person referred to by the Deputy was received in May 2007. I understand that applications received in September 2006 are currently being dealt with. Applications are dealt with in strict chronological order. As soon as a decision is made on the case, the person concerned will be notified. In addition, an application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's question was received in the Citizenship section of my Department in May 2007. On examination of the application it was determined that the person concerned did not satisfy the residency requirement as set out in the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended. A letter informing her of this was issued on 28 August 2007. It is open to the person in question to lodge