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, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 7 to 15, inclusive, answered orally.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

Dinny McGinley

Ceist:

16 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Transport his views on the fact that greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector continue to rise; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32656/08]

The production of reliable estimates of CO2 emissions from transport is a matter for the Environmental Protection Agency. The latest such data available to my Department (published on 16 September 2008) relate to 2006, when greenhouse gas emissions from transport were reported to be 13.71 Megatonnes CO2 equivalent, compared to 13.04 Megatonnes CO2 in the previous year. As is clear from the Sustainable Travel and Transport Consultation Document that I issued in February 2008, transport-related CO2 emissions are expected to rise significantly in the coming years unless changes in personal behaviour can be achieved. Over 480 responses to the consultation process were received from members of the public and organisations which can be viewed at www.sustainabletravel.ie. Based on these responses, it is fair to say that there is a recognition of the need for change.

I intend to publish the Sustainable Travel and Transport Action Plan before the end of the year which will set out a wide range of actions to deliver a sustainable transport system by 2020. This aim of the Action Plan will be to deliver a reversal of the current, and likely, trends in relation to transport emissions as well as enhancement of economic competitiveness, improvement of access to modes of transport other than the private car, reductions in congestion, and improvements to quality of life.

Public Transport.

Billy Timmins

Ceist:

17 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Transport the progress made in developing integrated transport and integrated ticketing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32662/08]

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

30 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Transport when the integrated ticketing project will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32561/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 17 and 30 together.

A fundamental aim of Transport 21 is the integration of transport networks and systems and all of the projects in the programme were planned with integration in mind. Significant progress has been made in the delivery of Transport 21 projects since its commencement in 2006. The establishment of the Dublin Transport Authority is also a key transport element of the Agreed Programme for Government with regard to the development of an integrated and sustainable transport system in the Greater Dublin Area. The Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008 became law on 16 July 2008. A specific Chapter of the Act — Chapter 3 — is dedicated to the integration measures to be pursued by the Authority. Arrangements for the establishment of the Authority are being considered as part of the Estimates process and I will make an announcement on this matter in due course.

Integrated ticketing is an important element in the delivery of an integrated public transport network for the Greater Dublin Area (GDA) and its provision will optimise the investment benefits to be obtained from the Transport 21 projects. A smart card for public transport services in the Greater Dublin Area is now available on Luas services. In recent months all buses in the Dublin Bus fleet have been fitted with smart card validators. Smart cards are now in use on these buses in respect of a number of ticket products, such as annual and monthly bus only tickets, integrated annual and monthly bus and rail tickets and 5-day rambler tickets. From late next year, a single smart card will be introduced for ticket products on Dublin Bus and Luas services. This smart card will also have an electronic purse capability for use on both services.

This system will then be extended to Irish Rail DART and commuter rail services within a further 12 months, and Bus Éireann on a pilot basis on a number of its commuter routes. It is also envisaged that private bus operators will join the scheme over this timeframe. The new gating systems at Irish Rail stations in the GDA have been designed to handle the new smart card. A central part of the full smart card system is the ‘back office' which will link each participating transport company to the overall system and facilitate all the necessary financial, data and reporting requirements that are key to the functioning of the smart card system.

IBM Ireland, supported by their sub-contractor MSI, is currently building the back office system so as to enable the full integration to take place from late next year. The Dublin scheme is being based on the Singapore system which is regarded as one of the leading examples of integrated ticketing with over seven million smart card holders using public transport. Based on the developments in the recent procurement process, the overall budget of the project has been increased to €55.4 million. An updated financial appraisal confirms that benefits of the project to the GDA continue to outweigh the cost.

The Project is being rolled out progressively in line with international experience. The Chairman of the Integrated Ticketing Project Board has told me good progress is being made and that, while there are significant issues to be resolved, all parties are working together to see the scheme delivered in line with project timescales.

Rail Network.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

18 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Transport the stage of development of the metro west project; the estimated completion date of metro west; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32513/08]

Noel Coonan

Ceist:

32 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Transport the future of metro north and metro west in view of the economic climate; his plans to scale back these projects; the preparatory work that has already been funded by his Department to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32616/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 18 and 32 together.

The Railway Procurement Agency continues to make good progress on Metro North. Copies of the Railway Order application for Metro North were placed on display on 17 September in accordance with the 6 week statutory public notice requirement pursuant to section 37 of the Transport (Railway Infrastructure) Act 2001. The tender documentation issued to the PPP bidding consortia in May and tenders are due to be received by February 2009.

The emerging preferred route for Metro West was announced by the RPA in July 2007. The selected route alignment will connect Tallaght, Clondalkin, Liffey Valley, Blanchardstown with Metro North at Metro Park, close to Dublin Airport. It will also provide integration with the Luas Red Line at Tallaght, the Kildare and Maynooth suburban rail lines and the new Lucan Luas line to be delivered under Transport 21. A further round of consultation is now underway to provide greater definition to the route after which the RPA will proceed with the preparation of a Railway Order application.

The start and completion dates of Transport 21 projects which have not yet commenced will be determined by the funding allocation available during the current difficult economic climate. The provision of increased capacity will be a key priority in determining public transport investment priorities in the period ahead. In that context Metro North and the Interconnector are particularly important rail investments as they form a core part of the planned integrated public transport network for the Greater Dublin Area envisaged by Transport 21.

Road Safety.

Eamon Gilmore

Ceist:

19 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Transport the measures he is bringing forward to tackle the increasing problem of drug driving on roads here; if he has reviewed roadside drug testing schemes that are in place in Australia to evaluate their suitability for use here; the amount by which he will increase the funding for the Medical Bureau of Road Safety; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32530/08]

Driving under the influence of intoxicants, drugs as well as alcohol, is one of many key issues in road safety, and the testing of drivers in relation to drugs is already provided for in the Road Traffic Acts. A member of the Garda Síochána, where he or she is of the opinion that a person in charge of a mechanically propelled vehicle in a public place is under the influence of a drug or drugs to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of that vehicle, may require that person to go to a Garda station and further require that person to submit to a blood test or to provide a urine sample.

There is no feasible basis as yet in Ireland or in Europe for the introduction of a preliminary roadside test for drugs, as testing devices are still in the prototype stages. However, the Medical Bureau of Road Safety (MBRS) is keeping abreast of developments in this area and is keeping me informed on the matter. The issue of funding for the Bureau is considered each year in the context of the overall funding and resources available to my Department. I provided increased funding for the Bureau in 2008, to a total of €4.4 million, which financed its recent move to new premises in UCD Belfield, and I also increased the staff allocation. The overall Exchequer position for 2009 will influence the level of funding available for the Bureau and other agencies under my Department.

Public Transport.

Joe Carey

Ceist:

20 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Transport if his views on the actions of Dublin Bus in the Lucan area in response to competition; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32610/08]

There is correspondence between my Department and Dublin Bus concerning a Departmental investigation into allegations that Dublin Bus were acting in an anti-competitive manner in the provision of bus services in the Lucan area. This correspondence was released by my Department under the Freedom of Information Act. I understand that the Competition Authority is currently investigating claims of anti-competitive behaviour against Dublin Bus and I am, therefore, precluded from commenting on the allegations at this stage.

This incident highlights what I have stated since taking up office — that the bus licensing regime must be overhauled. In accordance with the Programme for Government commitment, the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008 was enacted in July 2008 and provides for the establishment of the Dublin Transport Authority.The provisions of the Act allow for increased private participation in the Dublin bus market in the context of any future growth in the market. In future there will be open tendering by the DTA by way of contracts in accordance with the new EU Regulation 1370/2007 on public passenger transport services by rail and by road.

The Programme for Government also includes a commitment to improving bus services under Transport 21 by reforming the bus licensing provisions of the Road Transport Act 1932. In this regard a Public Transport Regulation Bill which will deal with the replacement of the Road Transport Act 1932 is in course of preparation. It is envisaged that the new licensing structure will apply in respect of all commercial bus services, including those provided by Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann and will encompass provisions relating to the subvented bus market outside the Greater Dublin Area that are consistent with the new EU PSO Regulation.

Proposed Legislation.

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

21 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Transport when he plans to bring forward legislation to reform the bus licensing Act 1932; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32642/08]

Jack Wall

Ceist:

46 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Transport when he will introduce the new bus licensing legislation; the measures that will be contained in the new legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32543/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 21 and 46 together.

The Agreed Programme for Government includes a commitment to improving bus services under Transport 21 by reforming the bus licensing provisions of the Road Transport Act 1932, to facilitate the optimum provision of services by providing a level playing field for all market participants, both public and private. It is my intention that proposals for a new bus licensing regime will be contained in a Public Transport Regulation Bill which will deal with the replacement of the Road Transport Act 1932 and the provisions of the Transport Act 1958 that relate to the provision of bus services by the State bus companies. It is envisaged that the new licensing structure will apply in respect of all commercial bus services, including those provided by Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann, and will encompass provisions relating to the subvented bus market outside the Greater Dublin Area in a manner consistent with EU Regulation 1370/2007 on public service obligations.

Until the proposed legislation is enacted, applications for new bus licences and notifications from State bus operators will continue to be processed under the provisions of the Road Transport Act 1932, as amended, and the notification system with reference to the Transport Act 1958, as appropriate. The Public Transport Regulation Bill is included in the Government Legislative Programme in the list of Bills that have yet to be approved by Government. It is my intention to seek Government approval to a General Scheme of the Bill before the end of the year with a view to publication in 2009.

Road Safety.

Charles Flanagan

Ceist:

22 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Transport his views on whether the annual road worthiness test for public buses and HGVs is meeting required safety standards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32640/08]

Under the Road Safety Authority Act 2006 (Conferral of Functions) Order 2006 (S.I. No 477 of 2006) this is a matter for the Road Safety Authority.

Public Transport.

Seán Barrett

Ceist:

23 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Transport if he will grant a licence to a bus service (details supplied) to operate a scheduled bus service between Dalkey and intermediary points such as Glasthule, Dún Laoghaire and Monkstown with Dublin Airport which are not served by an alternative bus operator; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32450/08]

My Department received an application on the 20 February 2007 from the operator to whom the Deputy refers, for a licence to operate bus passenger services between Dalkey and Dublin Airport. At that time, my Department had on hands a prior application for bus services on a similar route, and in accordance with administrative procedures, applications were dealt with in date order. That prior application was finalised in December 2007 and a licence has issued to that operator for the provision of bus passenger services between Greystones and Dublin Airport.

In the case of the service referred to by the Deputy, on the 16 July 2007 my Department was made aware that the operator concerned had commenced the operation of an unlicensed bus passenger service between Dalkey and Dublin Airport. My Department immediately contacted that company and advised that failure to cease the operation of the service in respect of which a licence had not been issued under the Road Transport Act 1932, is an offence under section 7 of that Act. It is also a prerequisite before the making of an offer of a licence that in accordance with road traffic and safety legislation the applicant provides my Department with Garda approvals for all proposed bus stops along the route and holds a Road Passenger transport Operations Licence.

While there is a strong passenger demand for a service between Dalkey and Dublin Airport, my Department would only be prepared to make an offer of a licence to Patton Flyer if that company demonstrates that it would be prepared to operate in conformity with the law.

Departmental Budget.

John Deasy

Ceist:

24 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Transport the cuts he has made in his Department’s budget since the announcement of June 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32627/08]

The savings being made in my Department's budget in 2008 are:

€1.844 million in respect of consultancies, advertising and public relations costs across the Department and the non-commercial agencies under the aegis of my Department;

€189,000 in the Administrative Budget of the Department;

€214,000 in the administrative budgets of the non-commercial agencies; and

€20 million in the capital allocation.

Question No. 25 answered with Question No. 15.

Road Network.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

26 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Transport if he is examining further systems for charging road users; if he has had contacts with the UK Department of Transport on pay-as-you-go road pricing pilot schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32542/08]

The general issue of road pricing will be addressed in my Department's forthcoming Sustainable Transport and Travel Action Plan which will be considered by the Government in the coming months and subsequently published.

Public Transport.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

27 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport the extent to which it is expected to meet the schedules and targets in Transport 21; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32568/08]

Joe Costello

Ceist:

64 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Transport the progress and estimated completion date for each infrastructural project under Transport 21; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32516/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 27 and 64 together.

37 projects have already been completed since the beginning of Transport 21 in 2006 and 25 are currently underway. A list of these projects is provided in the Appendix. The start and completion dates of projects which have not yet commenced will be determined by the funding allocation available during the current difficult economic climate. The commencement dates for these projects will also be influenced by the time taken for public consultation, the relevant statutory process and the procurement and contract award processes.

Appendix 1: Completed projects

Project

Completion Date

N2 Monaghan Town Bypass N2 Ashbourne Bypass N4 Edgeworthstown Relief Road N7 Naas Road widening N8 Rathcormac — Fermoy (PPP) N8/N73 Mitchelstown Relief Road N15 Ballyshannon-Bundoran Bypass N21 Castleisland-Abbeyfeale N25 Kinsalebeg N25/27 Kinsale Road Interchange N30 Enniscorthy-Clonroche Realignment Dublin Port Tunnel N52 Mullingar Eastern Bypass N55 Cavan Bypass N56 Mountaintop to Illistrin Phase 1

2006

Docklands Railway Station Introduction of first intercity railcars on Dublin — Sligo route 67 new intercity rail carriages deployed on Dublin-Cork line and introduction of hourly rail services Dublin-Cork N1 Dundalk to Border N2 Castleblaney Bypass N4 Dromod — Rooskey N5 Charlestown Bypass N6 Tyrellspass to Kilbeggan N11 Arklow to Gorey Bypass N11 Enniskerry junction improvements N18 Ennis Bypass/N85 Western Relief Road N52 Mullingar to Belvedere N56 Mountaintop to Illistrin Phase 2 N77 Kilkenny Ring Road Extension

2007

New Portlaoise train depot M50 Upgrade (Phase 3) and introduction of barrier free tolling Capacity enhancement luas Red Line — all trams extended from 30m to 40m providing a 40% increase in capacity N6 Kilbeggan to Athlone N8 Cashel to Mitchelstown N9 Carlow Bypass N11 Kilpedder-Delgany Junction New intercity railcars introduced on Dublin-Limerick, Dublin-Westport, Dublin-Galway, and Dublin-Waterford lines

2008

Completion dates for projects currently underway

Project

Indicative Completion Date

M50 Upgrade (Phase 1) Completion of delivery of 200 new buses for Dublin Bus

2008

Cork commuter rail service to Midleton Luas extension from Connolly to Docklands Western Rail Corridor (Phase 1) Ennis — Athenry Completion of roll-out of 183 intercity railcars N4 Leixlip/M50 junction (Lucan bypass upgrade) N6 Athlone to Ballinasloe N7 Nenagh to Limerick N8 Cullahill-Cashel N9 Waterford-Knocktopher

2009

Kildare rail upgrade Luas extension from Sandyford to Cherrywood M3 Clonee to North of Kells N6 Galway to Ballinasloe N7 Limerick Tunnel M7/M8 Portlaoise to Cullahill/Castletown N7 Castletown to Nenagh N8 Fermoy-Mitchelstown N9 Kilcullen-Carlow N9 Carlow-Knocktopher N25 Waterford City Bypass M50 Upgrade (Phase 2) N52 Tullamore Bypass Completion of delivery of 239 new buses for Bus Eireann

2010

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

28 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Transport the strategy he is putting in place for when the fuel rebate is removed and private public transport operators struggle to remain in business; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32672/08]

Brian O'Shea

Ceist:

33 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Transport if he will reverse the decision to abolish the public transport fuel rebate; if not, if he will bring forward measures to replace this scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32541/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 28 and 33 together.

The Finance Act 2008 provides for the removal of excise duty reliefs in the bus sector with effect from 1 November 2008. As this is in line with our EU obligations, there is no power to restore this scheme.

Road Traffic Offences.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

29 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Transport his plans to reform the penalty points system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32560/08]

The operation of the penalty points system is kept under review and I have no plans at this point for the introduction of any new legislative measures in relation to this system.

Question No. 30 answered with Question No. 17.

Ministerial Appointments.

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

31 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Transport the nature of the delay in appointing a new chairperson to the board of Cork Airport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32651/08]

I would like to put on record my appreciation of the work of Joe Gantly as Chairman of the Cork Airport Authority until his resignation in August. I hope to make an announcement on it in the near future.

Question No. 32 answered with Question No. 18.
Question No. 33 answered with Question No. 28.

Port Development.

Ciaran Lynch

Ceist:

34 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Transport the way his strategic review of Dublin Port and its future will operate with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government’s new task force on Dublin Bay; the objectives and responsibilities each new task force has; the Minister and the Department which has final jurisdiction over the future of Dublin Port; when a decision on the future of Dublin Port is expected to be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32539/08]

The National Development Plan 2007-2013 provides for a comprehensive study of the role of Dublin Port taking into account locational considerations in the context of overall ports policy on the island of Ireland, wider transport policy, urban development policy, the National Spatial Strategy and national economic policy. The study will examine the feasibility and conduct a cost benefit analysis of various scenarios relating to Dublin Port, including:

Existing port activities continuing to expand with demand,

Relocating all or part of Dublin Port's existing activities to an alternative location(s),

Port activities continuing at current levels with growth being catered for at alternative locations. The Steering Group for the study, which is chaired by my Department, also has representatives from the Departments of the Taoiseach, Finance, Environment, Heritage and Local Government and Dublin City Council.

The Dublin Bay Task Force was established recently by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government under the chairmanship of the Dublin Regional Authority. It will look at the Bay area as a whole and examine a wide range of issues that may impact on the future potential of the Dublin Bay area. Its main task is to prepare a draft Master Plan for Dublin Bay for the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, who may be expected subsequently to bring a report to Government on the matter. My Department's study of Dublin Port will be completed in advance of any final recommendations from the Task Force. It has been agreed that the Task Force will take full account of the Dublin Port Study findings in reaching its own recommendations.

Road Safety.

Frank Feighan

Ceist:

35 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Transport the additional resources he has given the Road Safety Authority to allow it to carry out the annual road worthiness tests for public buses and HGVs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32637/08]

Responsibility for commercial vehicle testing is a matter for the Road Safety Authority under the Road Safety Authority Act 2006 (Conferral of Functions) Order 2006 (S.I. No 477 of 2006). In December 2007 my colleague Minister Dempsey accepted the recommendations made by the RSA for reforming the commercial vehicle roadworthiness testing regime and for addressing a number of other related issues. Implementation arrangements are a matter for the RSA, subject to the overall financial resources, both Exchequer and non-Exchequer, available to the Authority. I have made it clear that this programme of reform should be a priority area of work for the Authority.

Air Services.

Kathleen Lynch

Ceist:

36 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Transport if he will report on the operation of the aviation public service obligation flights; the cost of operating the air PSOs; his views on extending routes between Waterford and Dublin for example; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32522/08]

Under the terms of the relevant EU Council Regulation, (EEC) No. 2408/92 of 23 July 1992, Member States can establish a PSO route in respect of scheduled air services to an airport serving a peripheral or development region in its territory, where such air services are considered vital for the economic development of the regions concerned and where air carriers are not prepared to provide them on a commercial basis. In May of this year I announced the results of the tender competition for the new PSO contractual period (22 July 2008 — 21 July 2011). At that time I advised that the total cost of the programme over that period was expected to be €44.624m.

Unfortunately, it subsequently transpired that the successful bidder for the Knock/Dublin route, namely CityJet, was not in a position to operate the route. This led to the route not being serviced since 22nd July 2008. On 2nd September 2008 I announced that the contract for this route had been offered to Aer Arann, whose combined Knock and Derry bid was the next preferred bid for the route. This contract is due to commence today, 1st October 2008. This will bring the total three-year exchequer cost to €44,842m.

The question of introducing a PSO air service on the Waterford-Dublin route was first raised in 1993. I understand that the E.U. Commission refused to sanction the proposal because the route is relatively short and because Waterford was already adequately served by other transport modes. In the interim, the relevant surface transport links have been upgraded and continue to be improved. In the circumstances, I have no proposals to revive the question of including the airport in the Irish PSO air service programme.

Joan Burton

Ceist:

37 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Transport if he will initiate a full review of all safety procedures in airports here and on all airlines operating in and out of airports here in view of the recent series of emergency incidents that have occurred over the past few months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32521/08]

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) have the responsibility for the safety oversight of civil aviation in Ireland. The IAA licences aerodromes in the State and conducts safety audits on them as part of the licensing process and for maintenance of an aerodrome licence. During an audit IAA inspectors will assess the aerodrome's infrastructure, audit the aerodromes management of safety and assess the competence of those responsible for safety. Furthermore, the authorities at licensed aerodromes are required, under the IAA's Aerodrome Licensing Procedures, to establish an Emergency Plan which provides for the co-ordination of the actions to be taken in the event of an emergency occurring at the aerodrome or in its vicinity. These plans must be tested by conducting a full-scale emergency exercise every two years.

In addition, the IAA carries out detailed audits of all Irish airlines and Irish approved aviation companies in accordance with the standards set out by the European Union, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and previously the Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA). In addition to formal audits, approved companies and airlines are subject to ad hoc audits and regular surveillance visits. The IAA carries out annual audits and assessments of all active aircraft on the Irish Civil Register and takes part in the European Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft (SAFA) programme which inspects foreign aircraft that operate into and out of Europe. The high standards of inspection and audit by the IAA are in turn assured by standardisation inspections of the IAA carried out by EASA on behalf of the European Union.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

Liz McManus

Ceist:

38 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Transport the level of greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector; if the level of transport emissions have been underestimated by up to 12%; the additional measures he will introduce to combat rising transport emissions; the estimate of the impact of the recession on CO2 levels for 2008 and 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32524/08]

The production of reliable estimates of CO2 emissions from transport is a matter for the Environmental Protection Agency. The latest such data available to my Department (published on 16 September 2008) relate to 2006, when greenhouse gas emissions from transport were reported to be 13.71 Megatonnes CO2 equivalent, compared to 13.04 Megatonnes CO2 in the previous year.

I assume that the reference in the question to an underestimation of 12% in transport emissions arises from advance media reportage of the EPA report on Ireland's National Greenhouse Gas Emissions Projections to 2020, which was published on 25 September 2008. In fact, what that Report states in relation to transport emissions is that, depending on the scenario employed, such emissions would increase by between 12% and 23% over the period 2006 to 2020. For me, this simply underlines, and possibly even understates, the types of challenge faced by Ireland and which I fully accepted and laid out in the Sustainable Travel and Transportation Consultation Document which I published in February 2008.

Insofar as the likely effects of the current economic situation on transport emission levels in 2008 and 2009 are concerned, it is not possible, at this stage, to make such predictions with any degree of accuracy. In addressing the change in personal behaviour necessary to achieve reductions in transport emissions, it is more important to focus on the medium to long term. The medium term forecasts indicate a growing population with modest economic growth and this points to a growth in emissions which could be as high as 50% above 2005 levels. Therefore, it remains essential, in my view, to progress measures on sustainable transport and emissions abatement in the short, the medium and the long term.

Cycle Facilities.

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

39 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Transport when he will introduce the national cycling strategy; the measures he will prioritise in the new strategy; if he will introduce new measures to enhance the safety and protection of cyclists on roads here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32544/08]

My Department is currently working towards finalising a National Cycling Policy to flesh out and put timescales on proposals that I intend to bring to Government shortly on a Sustainable Travel and Transport Action Plan (STTAP). It is my intention to bring forward the National Cycling Policy as soon as possible following the publication of STTAP. I intend that the National Cycling Policy will be not only a comprehensive response to current difficulties faced by the cycling community in terms of road priority and safety issues, but will also prove to be a springboard to help create a culture to promote cycling in Ireland.

Air Services.

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

40 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Transport if he will review the general strategic aviation outlook for Ireland in view of the ongoing difficulties in the airline sector; if he is constantly reviewing the level of air connectivity for airports here; if he will prepare a white paper on the Irish aviation sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32519/08]

Ireland's aviation policy as set out my Department's current Statement of Strategy is to promote regular, safe cost effective and competitive air services linking the country with key business and tourism markets. To this end, within the European Union, Ireland has consistently supported market liberalisation measures, which have to date served as the platform for the rapid expansion of aviation generally. We have also sought to influence the emerging EU and wider international framework for aviation to ensure that it continues to promote competition and innovation in the market-place.

The introduction the EU-US Open Skies agreement and the conclusion of a more liberal agreement on a bilateral basis with Canada illustrates our commitment to supporting liberalisation measures. Our approach to the encouragement of air services is complemented by our policy on the development of airport infrastructure within the country. The main objective is to ensure that the three State Airports have sufficient capacity to respond to the growth opportunities of a competitive airline sector and to provide vital international access. The opening of Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport in early 2010 will allow Dublin Airport to handle up to 35 million passengers per year and will ensure that the airport continues to be an efficient gateway to the Ireland of the 21st century. In addition the six regional airports have a role to play in facilitating access to the regions. My Department provides necessary financial support for airport development and operations as well as PSO services connecting Kerry, Galway, Knock, Sligo, Donegal and Derry to Dublin.

The further key components of our strategy are to ensure that our aviation safety and security policies comply with, or exceed, the highest international standards and that the policy framework for air navigation services ensures that the requirements of airlines for efficient routings and the avoidance of delays are met as far as possible without compromising safety. From an Irish economy perspective the overarching priority is to maintain the highest possible levels of connectivity between Ireland and key markets around the world and my Department will continue to closely monitor developments in the aviation sector that impact on that objective. While sustained high fuel costs continue to have a very negative impact on airlines, even if prices have fallen back from all-time peaks, I believe that the policy framework I have set out above remains valid and appropriate for the Irish economy.

Road Safety.

Joanna Tuffy

Ceist:

41 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Transport if he has decided to change the drink driving limit; the timetable for change in the drink driving limit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32537/08]

My colleague, Minister Dempsey, intends to bring the Heads of a Road Traffic Bill, which includes a proposed reduction in the legal Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level for drivers, to Government for consideration very shortly. Following a decision by Government and the preparation of the necessary legislation, the implementation of reduced Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) levels for drivers will require the recalibration or replacement and subsequent recertification of the Evidential Breath Testing (EBT) machines in Garda stations and roadside breathalysers used by the Gardaí. The Medical Bureau of Road Safety, who has responsibility for the approval, supply and testing of apparatus for indicating the presence and the concentration of alcohol in breath, has estimated that this process would take into early 2010 to complete.

Michael D. Higgins

Ceist:

42 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Transport the progress he has made on ensuring that all foreign registered vehicles and non-Irish driving licence holders are subject to the same laws, penalties, fines and toll charges as Irish registered vehicles; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32534/08]

All drivers are subject to road traffic law and enforcement is a matter for An Garda Síochána. The realisation of any fines or penalties imposed by the Courts is a matter for the Courts Service. The enforcement on foreign registered drivers of penalties for road traffic offences is a complex legal and administrative matter for many States, and my Department is pursuing this question at European, British/Irish and North/South levels. We are working with the United Kingdom with the objective of having a bilateral agreement on mutual recognition of driving disqualifications in place early next year, under the framework of the relevant EU Convention.

The mutual recognition of penalty points is however a longer term and much more difficult matter. In particular it involves complex legal issues and will probably require the passage of primary legislation both here and in the United Kingdom in due course. While both jurisdictions are working on this, it will be some time before a bilateral agreement can be put in place on this particular issue. In the meantime, although foreign licence holders do not have an Irish driving licence record, a separate record of any penalty points incurred by them in this State is kept in the National Driver File. When the necessary arrangements are in place in relation to mutual recognition, this data will then be available for enforcement arrangements.

Departmental Agencies.

Joan Burton

Ceist:

43 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Transport the position regarding the establishment and implementation of the Dublin Transport Authority; when the new DTA will be fully operational; if the new DTA will be branded as Dublin Transport; if so, the cost of this branding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32531/08]

Arrangements for the establishment of the Dublin Transport Authority are being considered as part of the Estimates process that is currently underway and I will make an announcement in due course. In accordance with section 57 of the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008 it will be a matter for the new Authority, when established, to develop and secure the implementation of a single brand to be used by public transport operators providing services in accordance with public transport services contracts with the Authority in the Greater Dublin Area.

Light Rail Project.

Ruairí Quinn

Ceist:

44 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Transport if he will support the development of Luas systems for Cork, Galway and Limerick; the stage these plans are at; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32514/08]

We made a commitment in the Programme for Government to carry out feasibility studies into Luas-style Light Rail Transport (LRT) systems in Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford within two years. I have since asked that these studies should simultaneously include consideration of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). The feasibility of LRT and/or BRT in Cork is being considered in the context of the update of the Cork Area Strategic Plan (CASP), which I understand is now nearing completion.

In the case of Limerick, the local authorities have conducted a tender process for consultants to carry out a Planning, Land Use and Transportation Study for the region, and the terms of reference include consideration of LRT/BRT in Limerick. This study is also referred to as the Mid West Area Strategic Plan (MWASP). I understand that Limerick City Council expect to appoint consultants in the near future and findings on the feasibility of LRT/BRT in Limerick, will be available by mid 2009.

In the case of Galway, the City Council has conducted a tender process for consultants to carry out a public transport feasibility study which will include examination of the feasibility of LRT/BRT. I understand that the City Council expects to appoint consultants shortly, and that the study is due to be completed before mid-2009. A decision on support for projects to develop Light Rail Transit systems in these systems must inevitably await the completion of these studies.

Air Services.

Olivia Mitchell

Ceist:

45 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Transport the action he has taken in view of the technical difficulties experienced by the radar system at Dublin Airport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32660/08]

Joe Costello

Ceist:

54 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Transport if he has reviewed the Irish Airport Authority’s new report on the serious radar malfunctions at Dublin Airport during the summer 2008 period; if he will bring forward measures to prevent a recurrence of the double fault failure; if he will instigate a review of the radar systems at all major airports here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32517/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 45 and 54 together.

I said in my reply to the Private Notice Questions on Thursday the 10th of July 2008 that I intended to ask the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) for a full report on the radar malfunction at Dublin airport which led to traffic disruption on 9 July. On the 11th of July, my Department issued a letter to the IAA setting out the issues that should be covered. I received the Authority's report on the 19th of September and it has been made publicly available on the Authority's website www.iaa.ie. As set out in the report, the measures being implemented by the IAA and THALES ATM are intended to minimise the effect of a recurrence of like or similar failures of the ATM system in the future. The report also describes the contingency arrangements in place and states that these arrangements are consistent with the best arrangements available worldwide. In the circumstances I am satisfied that no further action is necessary.

Question No. 46 answered with Question No. 21.

Kathleen Lynch

Ceist:

47 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Transport if he will bring forward measures to enhance the regulatory powers of the Commission for Aviation Regulation which includes an early warning mechanism for airline companies and operators that are experiencing difficulties; if he will introduce legislation specifically aimed at enhancing the rights and protection of airline travellers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32520/08]

Under European Regulations, all Community air carriers must have an operating licence in order to operate air services in the European Community. The conditions for the grant and continued validity of such licences are currently set down in Council Regulation (EEC) No. 2407/92. The Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) is the licensing authority for carriers whose principal place of business is in the State and it performs this function in accordance with the rules set down in the Regulation which, inter alia, provide that the licensing authority may assess the financial performance of a carrier and may suspend or revoke its operating licence if there are indications that the carrier is experiencing financial problems.

In May this year I asked the Commissioner Mr. Cathal Guiomard to undertake a comprehensive review of the travel trade legislation which has been in existence since 1982. The purpose of the review is to assess the operation of the current regulatory arrangements and to recommend any reforms that may be warranted. Following an initial request for proposals in relation to the review CAR has published a consultation document on its website seeking views from interested parties by the 31 October 2008. CAR has indicated that it expects to be in a position to submit its report to me at the end of the year.

Rail Services.

Michael Noonan

Ceist:

48 Deputy Michael Noonan asked the Minister for Transport his plans to reduce subvention to Iarnród Éireann; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32665/08]

The provision and operation of car parks at railway stations, including the imposition of charges to cover operational costs, is a matter for Iarnrod Eireann and I have no function in relation thereto. The annual compensation paid to Iarnrod Eireann, through CIE, by the Exchequer towards the cost of loss-making economically and socially necessary services is equivalent to approximately 44% of Iarnrod Eireann operating costs. It is a matter for Iarnrod Eireann to meet the balance of the operating costs from passenger fare revenue and other revenue streams including charges for parking. The compensation to be paid to Iarnrod Eireann in 2009 in respect of its public service obligation will be determined as part of the Estimates/Budgetary process.

Decentralisation Programme.

David Stanton

Ceist:

49 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Transport, further to Parliamentary Question No. 16 of 8 May 2008, the further progress that has been made regarding the decentralisation of Bus Éireann staff to Mitchelstown, County Cork; if further discussions have been held by the decentralisation implementation group; the outcome of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32558/08]

My Department wrote to the Department of Finance requesting agreement to placing the obligation to transfer the 200 posts on CIE rather than Bus Éireann. On the 27th May a decision was made agreeing to this and conveyed to CIE management in early June. CIE has been asked to devise an implementation plan in respect of these posts. To-date no further meetings have been held with the Decentralisation Implementation Group regarding decentralisation to Mitchelstown.

Road Network.

Mary Upton

Ceist:

50 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Transport the position regarding plans for a new tranche of public private partnerships for road building projects; the projects which would be prioritised under a new round of PPPs; the level of interest from national or international consortia for new road building projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32532/08]

As the Deputy is aware, as Minister for Transport I am responsible for overall policy and funding issues relating to the National Roads Programme element of Transport 21. However, the detailed planning, design and implementation of individual national road improvement projects including those carried out by way of Public Private Partnership (PPP), is a matter for the National Roads Authority (NRA) under the Roads Act 1993. This includes the carrying out of cost benefit analyses for such projects. Earlier this year the Government reviewed the financing arrangements for Transport 21. Arising from that review it is proposed that a number of national road projects should be undertaken as unitary payment (i.e. non-tolled) PPPs, thus releasing Exchequer funding for a capital contribution towards the Metro North project.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

Pat Rabbitte

Ceist:

51 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Transport when he will publish the sustainable travel and transport plan; the measures he plans to include in the policy particularly in relation to addressing increasing transport greenhouse gas emissions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32525/08]

I intend to publish the Sustainable Travel and Transport Action Plan before the end of the year. The Plan will not only help address transport greenhouse gas emissions but also wider sustainability issues such as economic competitiveness, congestion, access to modes of transport other than the private car and quality of life.

State Airports.

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

52 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Transport if he will report on the stage of the separation of Cork, Dublin and Shannon airports; if he has provided the required clarifications for Cork Airport Authority’s business plan; if he plans to proceed with the separation of the three airports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32518/08]

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

105 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Transport the position regarding the future of Cork Airport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32712/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 52 and 105 together.

The State Airports Act, 2004 provides the framework for the establishment of Shannon and Cork as independent airports. As part of the airport restructuring process the boards of Cork and Shannon airport are required to prepare business plans for eventual separation. All three airport business plans have to be coordinated by the Dublin Airport Authority for eventual approval by the Minister for Finance and myself. Among the requirements to be satisfied in advance of separation is the need to ensure the financial sustainability of all three state airports.

I have already received the Cork and Shannon business plans but I expect shortly to receive a finalised commentary on those plans by the DAA when they submit their own plan under the Act. I would expect DAA's commentary to address recent trends in the aviation market, the challenges facing the State airports and the financial and operational aspects of restructuring.

Road Safety.

Joanna Tuffy

Ceist:

53 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Transport the steps he has taken to address the problems with the National Vehicle Driver File that resulted in allegedly as many as 50,000 drivers failing to be informed that their vehicles are due for a national car test; if he will review and reform the general operation of the National Vehicle Driver File; if he is satisfied with the data protection system of the NVDF in view of recent serious breaches of personal data protection in other Departments; the number and the other agencies or Departments with which information on the NVDF is shared; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32536/08]

As I have indicated previously, I am satisfied that the data on the National Vehicle and Driver File (NVDF) is accurate and fit for purpose for regulating drivers and vehicles. To further improve data accuracy in relation to motor vehicle ownership, we extended our on-line services in June last to enable approved motor dealers notify the NVDF system about the purchase and sale of vehicles over the internet. Where this facility is used, the new ownership particulars are recorded on the NVDF system within 24 hours of the dealer notifying the change. Returns show that the system is operating very well and at this relatively early stage some 20% of overall change of ownership notices are notified through this channel. Nearly 250 motor dealers are now using the facility and it is estimated that they account for about 40% of transactions which involve motor dealers. The website www.motortrans.ie provides the facility for dealers to apply to use the facility.

There are also arrangements in place with the operators of the dedicated website www.newaddress.ie whereby changes of address for driving licence and motor tax purposes are notified to the NVDF through that channel and a significant number of changes are captured in that way. The NVDF contains personal data relating to drivers and vehicles which is highly sensitive and confidential and I am satisfied that best practice is applied in relation to the security of the data and the arrangements covering its release to other parties. Section 60 of the Finance Act, 1993, as amended provides for access to NVDF data by Government Departments/Offices licensing (vehicle registration, motor tax and driver licensing) authorities in Ireland and other Member States of the EU, the Revenue Commissioners, An Garda Síochána and such other persons as may be prescribed.

The following are prescribed, for the purposes of Section 60 of the Finance 1993, to receive NVDF data including personal information: Local Authorities; Road Safety Authority, National Car Testing Services, Motor Importers and Distributors (vehicle safety recalls), Motor Insurance Bureau, An Post, Eirtrade Services Ltd. and motor insurers. In addition the Private Security Authority, the Pensions Ombudsman, the National Employment Rights Authority and road toll operators obtain NVDF data through specific legislative frameworks. There are also arrangements in place to supply vehicle data without personal details to Auto Records Ltd., T/A Cartell, The Society of the Irish Motor Industry, insurers, MoneyMate and Aspen Connect.

Since the commencement of the national car testing system data from the NVDF is supplied to National Car Testing Services (NCTS) to assist with the operations of that company in relation to the testing of private cars. All aspects relating to the day to day operation of the car testing service including the issuing of test reminders are a matter for NCTS. I understand however that NVDF data quality is not the reason for NCTS not issuing reminders to vehicle owners prior to test due date. Insofar as the NVDF/NCT electronic interface is concerned, necessary adjustments to the NVDF computer programs to improve and streamline the data transfer arrangements generally have been made and are now operational. I am completely satisfied that there are no underlying problems with quality of data on the NVDF.

Question No. 54 answered with Question No. 45.

Proposed Legislation.

Ciaran Lynch

Ceist:

55 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Transport if he will report on the recently published Harbours Bill 2008; the reason he has decided to decrease the employee director representation and the representation of local councillors on the boards of the national ports; when this legislation will come before the Houses of the Oireachtas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32538/08]

The Harbours (Amendment) Bill 2008 has been introduced in the Seanad and will shortly commence its passage through the Houses. The primary purpose of the Bill is to give effect to certain aspects of the Ports Policy Statement, which was launched in January 2005. One of the key recommendations of the Ports Policy Statement was the need to enhance port company performance through reform of the board structure. This is one of the matters to be addressed in the recently published Harbours Bill. There will be ample opportunity to debate this and related matters during the passage of the Bill through the Oireachtas.

Sean Sherlock

Ceist:

56 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Transport when the road traffic Bill, the merchant shipping consolidation Bill, the air navigation and transport pre-clearance Bill, the merchant shipping safety convention Bill, the public transport regulation Bill, the road traffic Bill and the vessel registration Bill will be published; the proposed heads, key objectives and estimated publication date of each bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32545/08]

I refer the Deputy to the Government Legislation Programme recently published by the Chief Whip.

Departmental Budget.

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

57 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Transport the policy areas of his Department he will identify for cutbacks in view of the Government’s target of budgetary cuts across each Department of at least 3%; the programmes or policy areas, such as road safety for example, that will have their funding ring-fenced; if he will target his Department’s public relations budget for cuts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32512/08]

As the Deputy is aware, the Estimates process for 2009 is underway within Government Departments in preparation for the Budget on 14th October next. My Department is preparing its proposals for 2009 in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Department of Finance and all spending areas are under examination. However, pending completion of these proposals and final decisions by the Government, it is not possible to say what areas might be affected by reductions in allocations in 2009. The overall amount that will be available to my Department for 2009 will be known on Budget day along with proposals for allocating that amount between the various spending areas.

Air Services.

Liz McManus

Ceist:

58 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Transport his views on draft EU legislation aimed at curbing misleading information on airline ticket prices; if he will conduct an investigation into the level of misleading advertising and selling of airline tickets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32523/08]

The legislation that the Deputy is referring to is a new Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on common rules for the operation of air services in the European Community. The Regulation aims to consolidate and update the existing common rules which were adopted in the early 1990s and liberalised the air transport market in Europe. The most significant new elements introduced into the regulatory framework through the new Regulation are the provisions concerning the transparency of pricing information for air services and I fully supported the introduction of these provisions during discussions on the draft legislation in the Council.

Consumer protection issues falls within the remit of my colleague the Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment and we have agreed in principle that the National Consumer Agency will be assigned responsibility for enforcing the new European rules on the transparency of pricing information for air services in the new Regulation. Legislation is currently being drawn up for this purpose and the NCA will have appropriate powers to effectively enforce these new rules.

Road Safety.

Michael D. Higgins

Ceist:

59 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Transport the number of alleged car write-offs that he has been made aware of; his views on whether there may still be car write-offs on roads here; the estimate of the number there may be; if he will introduce a compulsory reporting system for car write-offs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32535/08]

As I indicated in responses to similar questions in this matter, following analysis of data relating to some 5,400 written off vehicles which has been provided voluntarily by one major insurer against the NVDF the Department wrote to the registered owners of some 261 vehicles which the records indicate may still be in use on public roads. With the assistance of the Irish Insurance Federation, the insurance industry made the necessary data relating to other insurers and covering some 16,700 vehicles which were written off over a period of some years available voluntarily. The process of validating it against the 2.5 million active vehicles on the NVDF has been completed and the details of vehicles which the NVDF has identified as potentially being still in use have been returned to the relevant insurers for confirmation of write-off status.

Insurers are currently engaged in this work, which in some instances involves examination of files, and the Department has impressed upon them to complete this task urgently. The Department will write to the owners affected when validated lists are returned. Voluntary arrangements have been put in place whereby the NVDF receives regular notifications of write off instances. This has facilitated the NVDF to have current write off data and I am favourably disposed to having a period of evaluation of these voluntary arrangements before considering what, if any, compulsory obligations are warranted.

Eamon Gilmore

Ceist:

60 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Transport if he has reviewed recent policy proposals to reduce speed limits by 20 km/h; his plans to reduce speed limits; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32529/08]

I am aware of the proposals and will take them under consideration in the context of the Sustainable Travel and Transport Action Plan which I intend to publish before the end of the year.

Taxi Regulations.

David Stanton

Ceist:

61 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Transport, further to Parliamentary Question No. 29 of 8 May 2008, the further discussions he has had with the Taxi Regulator regarding the provision of subsidies by his Department to taxi and hackney operators to purchase wheelchair accessible vehicles which comply with new standards; if such a subsidy is to be made available in 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32559/08]

My Department has been in discussion with the Commission for Taxi Regulation about a proposal for a subsidy scheme to assist with the purchase of accessible vehicles over a five-year period that will meet the new accessible vehicle specification that has been developed by the Commission. A number of options for the delivery of additional accessible vehicles have been explored in the Department. A final decision on the subsidy scheme proposal has not yet been made and will be made as soon as possible having regard to the overall budgetary context.

Motor Fuels.

Brian O'Shea

Ceist:

62 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Transport if he will examine the liquid transport fuels market in conjunction with the Departments of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and Enterprise, Trade and Employment, the National Consumer Agency and the Competition Authority in view of the ongoing allegations of uncompetitive behaviour in the liquid fuels sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32540/08]

As indicated in my reply to Dail question no. 687 answered on Wednesday 24 September, I have no direct function in regard to this matter. Allegations of uncompetitive behaviour among hauliers are a matter for the Competition Authority. I am not aware of any complaints to my Department of any uncompetitive behaviour in the liquid transport market. In the normal course, complaints would be referred to the Competition Authority.

Light Rail Project.

Ruairí Quinn

Ceist:

63 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Transport the position regarding the major excavation relating to metro north, the Dublin rail interconnector and the Luas link-up; if all of these projects will proceed on time and on budget; the agencies and companies he and his Department have recently met in preparation for the excavation works; when he will begin a public information campaign for affected residents and businesses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32515/08]

Good progress is being made on the delivery of Metro North, the Interconnector and the Luas Line from St. Stephen's Green to Liffey Junction (Bx/D). The RPA placed copies of the Railway Order application on display on 17 September in accordance with the 6 week statutory public notice requirement pursuant to section 37 of the Transport (Railway Infrastructure) Act 2001. Tender documentation issued to the PPP bidding consortia in May and tenders are due to be received by February 2009. Planning and design work is continuing in relation to the Luas Line Bx/D.

In relation to the Interconnector, tenders were sought in June 2008 from the five pre-qualified companies to undertake the reference design suitable for a Railway Order. The tendering process for the geotechnical investigation team also commenced in June 2008. The detailed planning being undertaken in relation to Luas Line Bx/D includes the development of a construction strategy, which takes cognisance of the works in the city centre required for Metro North. It is not possible to construct Metro North and Luas Line Bx/D simultaneously, in light of the traffic management consequences in the city centre. The timescale for the project will be critically dependant on the outcome of this work. The target date for the completion of Metro North is 2013 and the target date for the completion of the Interconnector is 2015. These completion dates are dependent on the outcome of the planning and procurement processes.

Pending the establishment of the Dublin Transport Authority, the Dublin City Manager chairs the Dublin Transport 21 Implementation Group which co-ordinates and oversees the investment programme in Dublin. The group comprises the chief executives of the principal implementing agencies, an Assistant Secretary from my Department, the Fingal County Manager, the Director of Traffic and representatives of the Garda Síochána and business associations. Two sub-groups have been established and the business community is represented on both.

The Contingency Planning Group is overseeing the preparation of a traffic management plan for the Transport 21 construction phase, focused particularly on the city centre. This plan will take account of other construction activity by local authorities, public bodies and private developers.

The Communications Group is preparing a co-ordinated communications strategy for the construction period of major Transport 21 projects, such as Metro North and the Interconnector. The theme of this strategy will be "Dublin is open for business".

In addition, the Railway Procurement Agency continues to meet individual businesses and resident organisations along the Metro North preferred alignment to inform them of its plans and address issues of concern. I hold regular quarterly meetings with the Transport 21 implementing agencies, An Garda Síochána and business organisations in Dublin to identify the principal concerns of the business community and to review progress on traffic planning for the construction phase of Transport 21 projects.

Question No. 64 answered with Question No. 27.

Private Security Authority.

Damien English

Ceist:

65 Deputy Damien English asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the finance raised under the scheme, IS EN 50131 Part 1 1997, since its inception; the number of applications under this scheme on a county basis since its inception; the number of successful and the number of unsuccessful applications for each county; if she will provide the information in tabular readable form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32732/08]

The Private Security Authority (PSA), established under the Private Security Services Act 2004 and operating under the remit of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, is the regulatory body for the private security industry. I understand that under the Act, licences are compulsory for private security contractors providing Intruder Alarm installation services. In order to obtain a licence from the PSA the security provider must be certified as being compliant with IS EN 50131 for Intruder Alarm Installers as well as fulfilling a number of other conditions. My Department has no information on the number of successful or unsuccessful applications made to the PSA.

The National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) is one of a number of certifying bodies authorised by the PSA to perform certification under the scheme. The NSAI have advised me that certain details in relation to their certification operations under IS EN 50131 cannot be provided due to reasons of commercial confidentiality and because the provision of such information would be contrary to the terms of NSAI's accreditation by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service. The NSAI have, however, provided in tabular form a list of names and addresses of intruder alarm installers certified by it. Further details may be available from the PSA which also maintains a register of licensees on its website — www.psa.gov.ie.

Intruder Alarm Installers

Company

Address

24-7 Security Ltd.

Unit 44 Canal Walk, Parkwest, Dublin 12

3D Security Systems

20 Northwood Court, Sanrty, Dublin 9

A & A Security Systems Ltd

16 The Orchards, Courtbrack Ave, Limerick

A B S Limited

Robertson House, Unit 49 Baldoyle Ind Est., Baldoyle, Dublin 13

A C S

Carnalynch, Bailieborough, Co. Cavan

A F C Security Limited

Unit 13, Block 2, Port Tunnel Business Park, Clonshaugh, Dublin 17

A Fitzgerald Elect, Eng & Man

Caherass, Croom, Co. Limerick

A P Systems Ltd

37A Hebron Business Park, Kilkenny, Co. Kilkenny

A S A Security Ltd

Unit 4, Power Industrial Estate, Tramore Road, Cork

A&C Specialist

10 Windsor Court, Waterpark, Carrigaline, Co. Cork

A-TEC Security Systems

Kilgobinet, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford

A-Tel Alarms

1 Granby Row, Carlow

A.B.R. Security Systems

Carrigduff, Bunclody, Co. Wexford

A.K. Security Systems

12 St John’s Court, Clondalkin, Dublin 22

A1 Omada Ltd

Regency House, 76-77 Old Kilmainham Road, Kilmanham, Dublin 8

A2Z Security Systems Ltd

Wicklow Enterprise Park, The Murrough, Wicklow Town

Access Automation & Alarms

Clogher, Claregalway, Co. Galway

Ace Securities Ltd.

The Black Church, St. Mary’s Place, Dublin 7

ACK Electrical and Alarms

12 Elm Field Walk, Clarehall, Dublin 13

Action Alarms Ltd

Unit C1, Three Rock Road, Sandyford Business Park, Dublin 18

Active Security Solutions

Rawalpindi, Kill Lane, Foxrock, Dublin 18

Active Technology Ltd

Unit 14, Ballycasey Craft Center, Shannon, Co. Clare

Adplex Alarm & Electrical Ser

45 Willow Park Crescent, Glasnevin, Dublin 11

Advanced Design Alarms

Rockchapel, Mallow, Co. Cork

Advantx Security Systems

Cloonturk, Dromod, Co. Leitrim

AES Cctv Security & Fire Ltd

Church View House, Church Street, Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan

Aim Communications

Clonmel Road, Cahir, Co. Tipperary

AKAM Security Systems

115 The Old Mill, Fairyhouse Road, Ratoath, Co. Meath

Alarm and Electrical Services

37 Kilakee Gardens, Firhouse, Tallaght, Dublin 16

Alarm Com

5 Woodlands, Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal

Alarm Guard

13 An Caireal, Culard, Carrigtwohill, Co. Cork

Alarm Specialists Ltd

Pembroke, Co. Carlow

Alec Alarms Ltd

42 Clebridge Abbey, Celbridge, Co. Kildare

Alfa Security Ltd

Unit 4 Willow Business Park, New Nangor Road, Clondalkin, Dublin 22

Allwatch Alarms Ltd

Shelton House, 31 Shelton Drive, Dublin 12

Andrew Broderick Alarms

Upper Main Street, Portarlington, Co. Laois

APM Securities Ltd

23 Ardcronin, Balla, Castlebar, Co. Mayo

Apollo Alarms

50 Glenaulin Green, Palmerstown, Dublin 20

Aramis Systems Ltd

Crosshaven, Co. Cork

Arbeca Installations

24 Tegan Court, Muculagh, Tullamore, Co. Offaly

Ard Security Systems Ltd

Monivea, Athenry, Co. Galway

Argent Group

Butterstream, Clane, Co. Kildare

Armtec Alarms Ltd

36 Castleraven, Nurney, Co. Kildare

Armtec Ltd

Ballymore, Craughwell, Co. Galway

Arrow Security & Fire Service

Grange Little, Grange Road, Rosslare, Co. Wexford

Ascott Ltd

Unit 33 Robinhood Industrial Est., Clondalkin, Dublin 22

Atlantic Alarms Ltd

21 Chelmsford, Celbridge, Co. Kildare

ATS Alarm Systems Ltd

Larch Hill, Ennis, Co. Clare

Avenger Alarms Ltd

The Cascades, Ballynerrin Upper, Wicklow Town, Co. Wicklow

Aware Security & Electrical S

2 Doonsalla Park, Cabinteely, Dublin 18

Aztec Security Systems

3 Shelton Gardens, Kimmage, Dublin 12

B B Alarms

Newtown, Oldcastle, Co. Meath

B K Alarms

No 2 Prior Park Green, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary

B-Link Security Ltd

236 Orwell Park Heights, Templogue, Dublin 6W

B-Secure Alarms Ltd

21 Leopardstown Abbey, Carrickmines, Dublin 18

B.B.L. Alarms Ltd.

Unit 35, Newtown Business & E, Newtownmountkennedy, Co. Wicklow

B.C.S.

Shinnagh, Rathmore, Co. Kerry

B.O.S.S.

Byrne Overall Security Solution, 44 Abbeyfield, Kilcock, Co. Kildare

BAC Security

Kilmurray, Johnstown Bridge, Enfield, Co. Kildare

Balfe Electrical & Security

53 Glenageary Woods, Dun Laoighaire, Co. Dublin

Banner Security & Communica

Coast Road, Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare

Barbell Alarm Systems Ltd

15 Cluny Grove, Killiney, Co. Dublin

Beeton Communications & Se

Drumbier, Scotstown, Co. Monaghan

Bellview Security Systems Lt

Rozel, Station Rd., Portmarnock, Co. Dublin

Bluerock Security System Ltd

Unit 2, Ryland Road, Bunclody, Co. Wexford

Bowman Security Ltd

Dromady, Claremorris, Co. Mayo

Boxer Security Systems Ltd

Iona, Dublin Road, Portlaoise, Co. Laois

Boyne Security Systems

Flemington, Balrath, Navan, Co. Meath

Brann Technology Ltd

Deforest House, Bellewstown, Co. Meath

Brian Mooney Alarms & Electri

2 Rockfield Drive, Perrystown, Dublin 12

Briarpark Security Systems Lt

Unit 4B, Mulcahy Kane Estate, Walkinstown, Dublin 12

Buckley Security Systems Ltd

Killard, Blarney, Co. Cork

Burgoalarm Security Products

Unit 9 Kinsale Road Commercial, Kinsale Road, Cork

Byrne Alarms Ltd

20 Bolton Square, Drogheda, Co. Louth

C & C Alarms

Poulatar, Ardfinnan, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary

C-Mc’s Security Ltd

Tullintowell, Drumkeeran, Co. Leitrim

C-Wire Ltd

36 Rowan Drive, Castlebar, Co. Mayo

C.E.S Electronic Security

Attymon, Athenry, Co. Galway

Castle Alarms Ltd.

6 Lower Dorset Street, Dublin 1

Catch Security Systems Ltd.,

Farranlea House, Farranlea Road, Cork

CCTV Intruder Access Syste

277 Crodaun Forest Park, Celbridge, Co. Kildare

Cell Security Systems Limited

Killyon, Longwood, Enfield, Co Meath

Celtic Alarms

5 Brookhaven Grove, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15

Centaur Alarms Limited

DJM House, Kilkerrin Park 11, Co. Galway

Central Electrical Services

4 Warner’s Lane, Dublin 6

Central Security Systems

Woodlane, Hillside, Birr, Co. Offaly

Central Surveillance Ltd.

Long Road, Vicarstown, Co. Laois

Choice Security Installations L

6 Beechwood Lawns, Rathcoole, Co. Dublin

Chubb Ireland Limited

2 Stillorgan Industrial Park, Blackrock, Co. Dublin

Citadel Security Solutions

Derrymoyle, Oughterard, Co. Galway

Clare Alarms Security Ltd

Drim, Quin, Ennis, Co. Clare

Clarke Security Systems

54 Cedar View, Ridgewood, Swords, Co. Dublin

Clifford Security Alarms Ltd

16 Wickham Street, Limerick

CLS Ltd

The Green, Cashel, Co. Tipperary

CMG Security

Mullagreenan, Newbliss, Co. Monaghan

Coleman Electronics Ltd

Ardnaree, Ballina, Co. Mayo

Colm Roche Security Systems

19 Glenpark Close, Palmerstown, Dublin 20

Comsec Protection Systems L

Unit 26 Stadium Business Park, Ballycoolin Road, Dublin 11

Cork Security Systems

3 Manor Avenue, Maryborough Ridge, Douglas, Co. Cork

Corrib Fire Protection Co Ltd

Clarenbridge, Co. Galway

Covert Security Solutions

45 Westbrook Park, Hillcrest, Lucan, Co. Dublin

Craft Alarms

1 Brookvale, Rathfarnham Road, Rathfarmham, Dublin 14

Craft Security Ltd

Ballinrea Business Park, Ballinrea, Carrigaline, Co. Cork

Crime Prevention Security Ltd

Unit 5. Feltrim Business Park, Feltrim Road, Swords, Co. Dublin

Crothers Security Ltd

Solution House, 139 St. Peters Road, Walkinstown, Dublin 12

CSE Services

Stranooden, Co. Monaghan

Cuala Security Ltd

2A Convent Road, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin

Cube Fire & Security Systems

Rathkip, Ballina, Co. Mayo

Custodian Electronic Security

Unit A6, Network Enterprise Park, Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow

CYB@SES Ltd

9 Victoria Villas, Clontarf, Dublin 3

D F Security

20 Kinvara Park, Navan Road, Dublin 7

D J Flanagan Security System

Knockliscrane, Milltown Malbay, Co. Clare

D S A Alarms

Pallaskenry, Co. Limerick

D-Tect Alarms

33-34 Main Street, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14

Day Night Alarms

65 Glenthorn Drive, Dublin Hill, Cork

De-Jay Royale

Block 2, Millbank House, Lucan, Co. Dublin

Declan Carty & Ronan Mannio

Attidermot, Aughrim, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway

Declan Winders & Norman Gly

Thomastown, Naas, Co. Kildare

Defence Line Systems LTD

Unit 22, The Rocks, Longford, Co. Longford

Delta Alarms ( Dundalk ) Ltd

9, Priorland Grove, Dundalk, Co. Louth

Design Security Systems Ltd

Unit 14, Newtown Business & E, Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow

DFS Security

15 Summerhill Rise, Tramore, Co. Waterford

Diamond Security Systems

15, Sorrel Heath, Clonsilla, Dublin 15

Digital Security

Montpelier House, Montpelier Hill, Dublin 7

Dignam Electrical and Security

Unit 21, Block 503C, Greenogue Business Park, Rathcoole, Co. Dublin

DNA Security Ltd

Dublin 16, 16 Ballyboden Crescent

Dobbyn Electrical Installations

Unit 3 Block 1, Waterfront Business Park, Little Island, Cork

Doc Dob Enterprises Ltd

16b Southville Gardens, Ballinacurra, Co. Limerick

Domestic Security

No 8 Toureen Terrace, Passage West, Co. Cork

Dow-Tech Security Systems

Meenmore, Cloonloo, Via Boyle, Co. Sligo

Dowling Security Systems Ltd

“Sunville”, St. Joesph’s Road, Mallow, Co. Cork

Dundalk Communications & Se

4A Linen Hall Street, Dundalk, Co. Louth

Dunne Security Ltd

28 Doonsalla Park, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin

E T I Security Systems Ltd

Glebe Street, Ballinrobe, Co. Galway

Eastmore Electronics Ltd

65 Allen Park Road, Stillorgan, Co. Dublin

Edward Ennis

Lower Barrack Street, Wexford Town, Co. Wexford

EHS Security Systems Ltd

Unit 2A Station Road Business, Clondalkin, Dublin 22

eircom

Unit 4 Sandyford Park, Burton Hall Road, Sandyford Industrial, Dublin 18

Electra-Tek Ltd

Hillcrest, Rockdale, Portlaoise, Co. Laois

Electrical & Security Services

Glann, Oughterard, Co. Galway

Electronic Security Protection

“Crannog”, Mucklon, Enfield, Co. Meath

Electronic Technology (Cork)

19 Summerhill North, Cork

Elite Security Alarms

No 2 Birch Avenue, Caherdavin Height, Limerick

Emmet Keogh & Associates Lt

Emmet Keogh Associates Ltd, Leabeg, Newcastle, Co. Wicklow

Enfield Alarms Ltd

Ballycarn, Enfield, Co. Meath

Erin Security Systems

Dunkereen, Innishannon, Co. Cork

ETM Alarms

7 Abbeyfield, Kilcock, Co. Kildare

Euro Fire & Security Ltd

39B Clooney Terrace, Waterside, Londonderry

Excel Electrical

Unit 4, Westcourt Business Park, Callan, Kilkenny, Co. Kilkenny

Executive Security Ltd

1-2 Sandyford Centre, Furze Road, Sandyford Industrial, Dublin 18

Express Security Systems

Enterprise House, Mayfield Business Park, Cork

Fahavane Ltd

St Brendan’s Park Business Ce, Monavalley, Tralee, Co. Kerry

Federal Electronic Security Lt

12 Mill Bank Business Park, Strawberry Beds, Lucan, Co. Dublin

Filmcom Ltd.

Cornamagh, Co. Westmeath

Firecheck Limited

17 Chancel Drive, Churchill Meadows, Raheen, Co. Limerick

FK Security System Ltd

1st Floor, Unit 7 Cookstown Enterprise, Tallaght, Dublin 24

FMK Security Systems

Curramore, Kiltoom, Athlone, Co. Roscommon

Focus Security Ltd

Littlebridge, Bodeen, Ratoath, Co. Meath

Folyn Electrical Services Ltd

Dromlought, North Circular Road, Limerick

Forrester O’Shea Electrical Lt

Incorporating BFA Alarms, 5 Copeland Avenue, Clontarf, Dublin 3

Freeman Brothers (Electrical )

10 Gas Terrace, Tralee, Co. Kerry

Full View Security Systems Lt

41 Georgian Close, Drogheda, Co. Louth

Future Security Solutions

Chapel Street, Ballymore Eustace, Co. Kildare

G4S Security Services Ireland

51 Bracken Road, Sandyford Industrial, Dublin 18

Galaxy Security Systems

Moydrum Business Park, Athlone, Co. Westmeath

Galcom Security Electronics

Ballaun, Cummer, Tuam, Co. Galway

Gallant Security Systems Ltd

Unit 715, Northwest Business Park, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15

Gar-Sec Systems

Unit 1 West Tipperary Enterprise, Station House, Tipperary Town

Gavin Malone

460 Galtymore Road, Drimnagh, Dublin 12

GCS Alarms

133 The Oaks, Newbridge, Co. Kildare

General Electronic Alarms

Unit 3 Barryscourt Business Park, Carrigtwohill, Co. Cork

George Wilkin Security & Elect

1 Roselawn Drive, Bray, Co. Wicklow

Gerry Byrne Systems

Kilmeague, Naas, Co. Kildare

Glen Alarms Ltd

Glenballythomas, Tulsk, Castlerea, Co. Roscommon

Grants Electrical Services

Cleenagh, Buncrana, Co. Donegal

Hall Alarms Ltd

Unit5D2, Gurtnafleur, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary

Hardy Security Solutions

7 Temple Manor Close, Greenhills, Dublin 12

Hayes Security Ltd

Hill Road, Killaloe, Co. Clare

Herbert Levingston Ltd

Eden House, Redmond Road, Wexford

Hi-Tech Security

Newcastle, Co. Dublin

Homelink Security

59 Whitethorn Park, Palmerstown, Dublin 20

HPG Security

Killeen, Vicarstown, Co. Cork

Hunt Security Limited

Room 5 — Unit 4 Marvick House, Kilcoole Industrial Estate, Kilcoole, Co. Wicklow

Hyland Security Systems

137 Lr. Glanmire Road, Cork

Ian Foley Electrical Services L

22 Prospect Lawn, Coolroe, Ballincollig, Co. Cork

Icon Electronic Security

14 St. Brigid’s Green, Artane, Dublin 5

Intech Security (Waterford) Lt

Mullinabro, Ferrybank, Waterford

Integral Security Ltd

Unit B, 10/11 Greenogue Squar, Rathcoole, Co. Dublin

Intruder Alarms Ltd

Rock Lodge, 91 Coliemore Road, Dalkey, Co. Dublin

Iona Security Ltd

25 The Priory, Rathfarnham, Dublin 16

ISA Group

641 Howth Road, Raheny, Dublin 5

Jade Management Solutions L

Unit 24 Dunboyne Business Park, Dunboyne, Co. Meath

James Farrell Ltd

Edenderry Business Park, Edenderry, Co. Offaly

Jaynat Ireland Ltd.

74A Killester Ave, Killester, Dublin 5

JEC Security Limited

Ballinaneesagh, Cork Road, Waterford

Jetage International Ltd

Derryverogue, Donadea, Naas, Co. Kildare

Joe Curran Electrical Ltd

Toor, Waterville, Co. Kerry

John Joyce

Castleboro, Clonroche, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford

John McBryde Electrical

Knockarlow, Clareen, Birr, Co. Offaly

John Treanor Security System

Flemings Department Store, Church Square, Monaghan

JPM Security Systems

48 Dalysfort Road, Salthill, Co. Galway

JVL Alarms Ltd

240A Glenwood, Dublin Road, Dundalk, Co. Louth

Kadium Ltd

Monaghan, 87 Glaslough Street

Kar-Tel Security Limited

Unit 104 St Patrick’s Wooleen Mi, Douglas, Cork

Karl O’Doherty

35 Kinvara Avenue, Navan Road, Dublin 7

KDS Security

24B Marino Mart, Fairview, Dublin 3

Keane & Fitzgerald

Slaney Place, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford

Keepsafe Alarms Ltd

Parsonstown, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath

KFS Fire & Security Ltd

35 Woodlawn Road, Killarney, Co. Kerry

Kierans Electrical & Security S

No 69a Newtown Business Park, Boyne Business Park, Drogheda, Co. Louth

Kilkenny Communications

Melrose House, Circular Road, Kilkenny, Co. Kilkenny

Knight Security Limited

10 Park Drive, Cabinteeley, Co. Dublin

Knightguard Security Systems

U 5 Meadowbrook, Heronswood, Carrigaline, Co. Cork

KPR Alarms and Security Syst

Ballough, Lusk, Co. Dublin

L&M Alarms

5 Lee Park, Shannon, Co. Clare

Lab Securities Systems Ltd

Tara Hill, Gorey, Co. Wexford

Lara Alarms Ltd

Unit D4, Centre Point Business Park, Dublin 12

Lazer Alarms and Security Lt

Little Acre, Walshestown, Lusk, Co. Dublin

Leddy Security Systems Limit

Carrickaboy, Co. Cavan

Leinster Alarms Ltd.

Tiglin, Johnstown, Hollywood, Co. Wicklow

Leisure Security Service Ltd

Elvana House, Ardee Road, Tallanstown, Co. Louth

Lenarm Security

Lurgankeel, Kilcurry, Dundalk, Co. Louth

Lenihan Security Systems

1 Dunlocha, Blackrock, Co. Cork

Liam Langtry

Sallaghan, Loch Gowna, Co Cavan

Link Security & Surveillance Lt

Station Road, Portarlington, Co. Laois

Lock Up Alarms Ltd

Amorset, Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim

Lynx Alarms

Woodstock, Old Road, Dunsany, Co. Meath

Lynx Security Systems Ltd.

105 Tymon Crescent, Old Bawn, Tallaght, Dublin 24

M & J Electronic Security

Unit 6C Station Road Business, Clondalkin, Dublin 22

M & J Fox Alarms

Market Street, Kells, Co. Meath

M F(Martin Ffrench) Fire & Se

Donanore, New Ross, Co. Wexford

M J Systems

Victoria Place, Newdocks, Galway, Co. Galway

M R Alarms

Cloughleigh, Golden, Co. Tipperary

M.G Security

Churchtown, Newcastlewest, Co. Limerick

M.J.C. Securities

Bohogue, Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo

Mac Alarms Ltd

Suncroft, The Curragh, Co. Kildare

Malachy Gallagher Ballinrobe

Convent Road, Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo

Mantech Security Services Lt

Castle Bank, Ardnacrusha, Co. Clare

Marina Security Systems Ltd

Enterprise House, Marina Comm. Park Centr, Cork

Marino Alarms Ltd

71 Collins Avenue West, Dublin 9

Mark Tuohy Services Ltd

12-12A Belvedere Court, Dublin 1

Martin Loughnane Electrical Lt

16 Harbour Street, Tullamore, Co. Offaly

Matt Leahy

7 The Grove, Abbey Farm, Celbridge, Co. Kildare

Mavcom Ltd.

Pullerick, Crookstown, Co. Cork

Max Security Systems

140 Meadow View, Drogheda, Co. Louth

Maximum Security

10 Monastery Heath Ave, Monaster Road, Clondalkin, Dublin 22

MBA Systems

8 Ashtown, Roundwood, Co. Wicklow

MC Alarms Ltd

Stonewall Enterprise Centre, Virginia Road, Bailieborough, Co. Cavan

Mc Loughlin Security Systems

Knockdoemore, Claregalway, Co. Galway

Mc Mahon Security Systems

Six Crosses, Kilmurray McMahon, Kilrush, Co. Clare

MC Security

55 Rocklands, Carrigtwohill, Co. Cork

McDonald Group Services

Castle House, 17 Castle Street, Dalkey, Co. Dublin

McLoughlin Enterprises (Blarn

Killard, Blarney, Co. Cork

MD Security

28 Waterford Business Park, Cork Road, Waterford

Merrion Alarms Ltd

22 Castleknock Avenue, Castleknock, Dublin 15

Michael Dennehy

Toureen, Burnfort, Mallow, Co. Cork

Michael Moynihan & Sons Ltd

East End, Rathmore, Co. Kerry

Milandale Ltd

Unit C1 Bymac Centre, Northwest Business Park, Dublin 15

Mist.ie

Avondale’, Church Road, Tullamore, Co. Offaly

ML Security

Hillside Cottage, Delgany, Co. Wicklow

Monitor Security Ltd

Unit 17, Tracklands Business Park, Clonroadmore, Ennis, Co. Clare

Moran CCTV Limited

63 Castletown Road, Dundalk, Co. Louth

Moss Fire & Security Services

33 Church Street, Listowel, Co. Kerry

Mr Aiden McGovern

Falsk, Ferbane, Co. Offaly

Mr Bernard Lennon

Maclyn House, Blackhall, Drogheda, Co. Louth

Mr Robert Connell

8 Bawnlea Green, Jobstown, Tallaght, Dublin 24

MT Security

Brocca, Fardrum, Athlone, Co. Westmeath

Muintir Security Systems Ltd.

12 Glenegad Drive, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary

Multec Ltd

17 Station Road, Leixlip, Co. Kildare

Munster Contracts Ltd

Unit 72 Eastlink Business Park, Ballysimon Road, Limerick

Muskerry Security Ltd

1 Glilncool Drive, Maglin Road, Ballincollig, Co. Cork

N.M.S. Limited

Security House, Ballyboughal, Co. Dublin

Napier Security Systems (Alar

Unit E7, Centrepoint Business Park, Dublin 12

Neptune Security Ltd

17 Castle Street, Dalkey, Co. Dublin

Net-Tec Security Solutions

23 Berwick Grove, Swords, Co. Dublin

Network Security Solutions

55 Parkwest Enterprise Centre, Nangor Road, Dublin 12

Niall Mc Carthy Security Syste

6 Castle Avenue, Carrigtwohill, Co. Cork

Niscayah Limited

A1-A3 Calmount Park, Calmount Road, Ballymount, Dublin 12

North West Alarm Systems Lt

Upper Main Street, Donegal

O C Electric Ltd

Ballymoneen Road, Salthill, Co. Galway

O’Donovan Security

Ard Breac, Shanballymore, Mallow, Co. Cork

O’Mahony Security & Fire Alar

Woodlands, Newcestown, Bandon, Co. Cork

O’Neill Security Ltd

The Forge, Crosshaven, Co. Cork

O’Reilly Alarm Systems Ltd

25 Johnswood Drive, Ashbourne, Co. Meath

Omniguard Limited

Unit A1, Smithstown Industrial E, Shannon, Co. Clare

Orbit Alarms Ltd

Colvinstown, Tara, Co. Meath

Orbit Security Ltd

Pinehill Mountain Top, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal

Owenass Residential Develop

Barrowbank, Portarlington, Co. Offaly

Oxley Security Systems

Kisha, Derrykearn, Abbeyleix, Co. Laois

P E L Security Ltd

5 Kilcloon Lawns, Kilcloon, Co. Meath

P McMahon Electrical & Securi

Rafeenan, Ballinode, Co. Monaghan

P.B. Alarms (Patrick Brophy)

56 Knockowen Road, Tullamore, Co. Offaly

Padraig Moore & Raymond Ca

Dunnamaggin, Co. Kilkenny

Paul Harris

Ellensborough, Knockmark, Drumree, Co. Meath

Paul Keane Services

42 Woodberry, Greenfields, Ballincollig, Co. Cork

Pensec Ltd

Carlow, 164 St Mary’s Park

Pharos Security

Co. Tipperary, 37 Marine Village

Phoenix Alarms Ltd

640 South Circular Road, Kilmainham, Dublin 8

Phone Alarms Dundalk Ltd

10 Francis Street, Dundalk, Co. Louth

Pioneer Security

Usher House, Main Street, Dundrum, Dublin 14

Power Guard Ltd

Monksfield Park, Athlone, Co. Roscommon

Power Right Ltd.

Ardaghowen, The Mall, Co. Sligo

Precision Security Systems Lt

Unit 1E, Three Rock Road, Sandyford Industrial, Dublin 18

Pro Watch Security

Castleboro, Clonroche, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford

Pro-Guard Security Systems

Halverstown Gate, Halverstown, Naas, o. Kildare

Pro-Tech Alarms Ltd

Unit 104, Saint Patricks Wollen Mill, Douglas, Co. Cork

Professional Protection Syste

52 Racehill Park, Ashbourne, Co. Meath

Prosafe Security Systems Lim

8 Millbank Court, Rush, Co. Dublin

Protec CCTV Ltd

Unit 52, Parkwest Enterprise Cen, Dublin 12

Prout Security Systems Ltd

Lismanus, Dunleer, Co. Louth

PSM Electronics

2 Oakridge Drive, Killeen Road, Tralee, Co. Kerry

Puma Security Systems Ltd

19 Borris Road, Portlaoise, Co. Laois

Quirke Security Limited

No 6 Greenview Terrace, Tralee, Co. Kerry

R R Alarms

Mullamagavan, Stradone, Co. Cavan

R T Communications Ltd

Mount Prospect, Raheen Road, Limerick

R.A.S. Security Systems

27 Parkwest Enterprise Centre, Park West Busine, Dublin 12

R.C. Security Systems

Laurence Gate, Drogheda, Co. Louth

Rath Security Systems

10 Lusmor, Whiterock Hill, Wexford, Co. Wexford

Raymond Walls

Tullymountain, Ramelton, Co Donegal

React Electrical & Alarms Ltd

25 Doonsalla Park, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin

Reehill Electrical Ltd

Kilmahon, Drumlish, Co. Longford

Retec Security Systems

Unit F3 Centrepoint, Rosemount Business Park, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15

Ross Alarms & Electrical Servi

16 Nowen View, Bantry Road, Dunmanway, Co. Cork

Ryetech Electrical and Alarms

Unit 77, Dunboyne Business Park, Co. Meath

S K Security Systems

Camheen, Mungret, Co. Limerick

S.M Mc Laughlin Security Solu

Clonsilla West, The Rock, Gorey, Co. Wexford

Safeguard Electronic

Unit 36 Southern Cross Busines, Boghall Road. Bray, Co. Wicklow

Safeguide Security Ltd

27 Westside Business Park, Old Kilmeaden Road, Waterford

Safenet Systems

69 St Peter’s Terrace, Howth, Co. Dublin

Safewatch Security Systems

Castleroe West, Maganey, Athy, Co. Kildare

Sail Alarms Ltd

87 Drogheda Street, Balbriggan, Co. Dublin

Sandyford Securitry Solutions

Centauri House, 1 Sandyford Village, Sandyford, Dublin 18

Sapphire Security Limited

71 The Grove, Woodbrook Glen, Bray, Co. Wicklow

SAS Security Alarm Systems

Unit A2, Cookstown Business Ce, Tallaght, Dublin 24

Sasta Security

The Claddagh, Hill Head, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal

Scorso Services Limited

102 Castleland Court, Balbriggan, >Co. Dublin

Screen Security Ltd

Sherwood House, Robinhood Road, Dublin 22

Securelectric Ltd

Sorento Creagh, Bealnamulla, Athlone, Roscommon

Securerite

Seefin, Craughwell, Co. Galway

Securicom Ltd

4F Fingal Bay Business Park, Balbriggan, Co. Dublin

Security Masters

3 Botanic Villas, Glasnevin, Dublin 9

Security Support Ltd

Ballinakill, Loughrea, Co. Galway

Security Systems Solutions

Security House, 90 Mornington Court, Mornington, Co. Meath

Servtek Security Systems Ltd

The Tanyard, Tullamore, Co. Offaly

Sharp Alarms Ltd.,

411 Grants Park, Greenogue Business Park, Rathcoole, Dublin 24

Sheridan Security Alarms and

John Crossan Business Park, Bronagee, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal

Shield

40 Verbena Lawn, Sutton, Dublin 13

Shields Electrical Engineering

Cahanagh, Newtownforbes, Longford

Sigcom Ltd

Bank House, 331 South Circular Road, Rialto, Dublin 8

Sion Hill Security & Sound Sys

Sion Hill, Castlebar, Co. Mayo

Siren Security Ltd

Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny

Smith Electrical & Security

12 Parkvilla, Park Road, Longford, Co. Longford

Solo Security Ltd

3 Glenhill Grove, Finglas, Dublin 11

Sound Security Systems

The Burgery, Abbeyside, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford

South East Alarms Ltd

Avolon Boley Hill, Fethard- on-Sea, Co. Wexford

Sovereign Security Limited

Valhalla, Coolgreaney Road, Arklow, Co. Wicklow

Sparks Security

Main Street, Ballybofey, Co. Donegal

Spectra Alarms Ltd

89 Shanganagh Vale, Cabinteely, Dublin 18

Stephen Ryan

243 Dublin Road, Newry, Co. Down

Storm Security Ltd

Unit 9, Block 1, Broomhall Busines Park, Rathnew, Co Wicklow

Sureguard Securities Ltd

32 Whitehall Road, Terenure, Dublin 12

T C Alarms

Corlust, Castleshane, Co. Monaghan

T-Com Security Ltd

28 Woodlawn Rise, Santry, Dublin 9

T.K.R Electrical & Alarms Servi

94 Arconagh, Naas, Co. Kildare

Technique REMS

Block B, Newtown Business Park, Co. Wicklow

Teleguard Security Ltd.

Abbeyview House, Ballybeg, Ennis, Co. Clare

Teltale Security

Knockanoocra, Knockananna, Arklow, Co. Wicklow

Terry Murphy

Craan, Clonegal, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford

The Electric Planet Ltd

15 Oakley Park, Craiguecullen, Co. Carlow

The Lock Shop Ltd.

Millview House, Graiguecullen, Co. Carlow

Third Eye Technology

Unit 3 Riverside Business Park, Old Birr Road, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary

Thomas Kenny & Co Ltd

Garadice, Kilcock, Co. Meath

Timmons Security

133 Deerpark, Ashbourne, Co. Meath

TMS Security Systems

“Hillview”, Killowen, Rhode, Co. Offaly

Tolka Security Ltd

9 Coolmine Mews, Clonsilla, Dublin 15

Topguard Alarms

Lyrenamon, Carrignavar, Co. Cork

Toro Security & Electrical Ltd

Derrybeg, Tullamore, Co. Offaly

Trident Associated Securties

Guardian House, Portrane, Co. Dublin

Tristan and Kieran Alarms

1K Unit 3, Eastway Business Park, Ballysimon, Co. Limerick

Tritec Security Ltd

Cartron, Craughwell, Co. Galway

Turbet Alarms Ltd

138 St Lawrence Road, Clontarf, Dublin 3

Ultimate Security Technologie

John Street Industrial Estate, Ardee, Co. Louth

Vartek Security Ltd

Askeaton, Co. Limerick

Verified Security Systems

Breskamore, Clarina, Limerick

View With Mc Hugh

Lower Main Street, Ballybofey, Co. Donegal

Viking Security Ltd

Kilbride, Arklow, Co. Wicklow

VIP Security

The Farm House, Rivers, Lisnagry, Co. Limerick

Walsh & Emmet Security Syst

23 Doonanore Park, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin

Wave Electrical Services

3 Crestfield View, Hazelwood, Glanmire, Co Cork

WDS Security Systems

6 Forest View, Swords, Co. Dublin

Weiser Systems Alarms

Garrenroe, Thurles, Co. Tipperary

Westech Electrical Panelling L

Castlebo, Kilchreest, Loughrea, Co. Galway

Westlink Electrical Services

11 Rochford Drive, Kill, Co. Kildare

Westside Security Systems

31 Swiftbrook Drive, Fortunestown Way, Tallaght, Dublin 24

Westside Security Systems Lt

Rathuard, Donoughmone, Limerick

Whelan Security

Unit 1F Three Rock Road, Sandyford Industrial Est, Dublin 18

Whoriskey Security Systems

5 Oak Road, Connell Drive, Newbridge, Co. Kildare

Widerange Security Services

Tiermurrin Lane, Rockfield, Kells, Co. Meath

Wilec Ltd.

Unit 6, Charvey Business Park, Rathnew, Co. Wicklow

Woodlark Ltd

1 Wendon Park, Delgany Wood, Delgany, Co. Wicklow

Wyer Alarms

73 Whitecliff, Rathfarnham, Dublin 16

Xtra Security Systems

Monksland, Athlone, Co. Roscommon

Z Tec Ltd

22 Butterfield Avenue, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14

Business Regulation.

Damien English

Ceist:

66 Deputy Damien English asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the intellectual property protections afforded to a company (details supplied) that is fully registered in the State for taxation, VAT and with the Companies Registration Office that faces competition from a company based outside the State but that uses a similar name in the promotion of its services to the detriment of the indigenous company; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32734/08]

Damien English

Ceist:

67 Deputy Damien English asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the protections afforded to a company (details supplied) that is fully registered here for taxation, VAT and with the Companies Registration Office that faces competition from a company based outside the State but that uses a similar name in the promotion of its services to the detriment of the indigenous company; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32733/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 66 and 67 together.

My officials have already corresponded with the company concerned on this matter from a Company Law perspective and explained that the Companies Acts provide that a company may not be registered with a name that is, in the opinion of the Registrar of Companies, "too like" that of a company already on the Register. Insofar as intellectual property protections are concerned, legislation relating to trademarks and other forms of protection would not normally protect directly against others using similar company names in the promotion of their services; an exception would be if, for example, the company name itself has been trademarked.

I understand that the company has already been in contact with the Irish Domain registry, which maintains and manages the database of registered Top Level domain names. The Deputy will be aware that the regulation of internet domain matters, including name disputes, rests with the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

Charles Flanagan

Ceist:

68 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if her attention has been drawn to delays in the registration of business names in the Companies Registration Office; if, having regard to the importance of such procedure, the situation will be addressed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32850/08]

The volume of applications for registration of business names has increased consistently in recent years. That increase in volume, coupled with the recent adoption of a new system for effecting registrations, has led to the build-up of a backlog in the registration of business names and the issuing of business name certificates to applicants. The Companies Registration Office has recently reallocated with the objective of eliminating the business names backlog and I am confident that these measures will have the required effect.

Industrial Development.

Ulick Burke

Ceist:

69 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of visits by Industrial Development Authority representatives with potential investors in job creation to the centres in Gort, Loughrea and Ballinasloe during 2005, 2006 and 2007; the availability of potential sites or developed facilities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32904/08]

IDA Ireland is the agency with statutory responsibility for the attraction of foreign direct investment (FDI) to Ireland and its regions. The marketing of individual areas for new or expansion FDI investments and jobs is a day-to-day operational matter for the Agency. While I may give general policy directives to the Agency, I am precluded under the Industrial Development Acts from giving directives regarding individual undertakings or from giving preference to one area over others.

I have been informed by the Agency that in 2005 there was one visit by potential investors to Gort and 6 visits to Ballinasloe. In 2006, there was one such visit to Loughrea but in 2007 there were no visits to any of these towns. While IDA Ireland can and does encourage clients to visit particular locations, the final decision on where to visit or locate is taken in all cases by the clients. A central goal for IDA Ireland is the achievement of balanced regional development. In line with the National Spatial Strategy, the Agency is concentrating its efforts on the gateway city of Galway and the hub town of Tuam.

In addition IDA is investing significantly in the provision of world class property solutions in the area and is developing Business and Technology Parks in both Tuam, and Ballinasloe. Furthermore, in order to cater for the specialised high utility intensive needs of the Biotechnology and ICT sectors, IDA Ireland is in the process of developing, fully-serviced industrial sites with advance planning permission ranging in size from 200-500 acres throughout the country. In the West, these sites are located at Athenry and Oranmore.

Ulick Burke

Ceist:

70 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of site visits by the Industrial Development Authority to Athenry, County Galway and the initiatives undertaken to attract new industries to the town during 2006 and 2007; the cost of land purchase by the IDA in Athenry; the plans and development costs incurred on these lands to prepare for future job creation in the town; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32905/08]

IDA Ireland is the agency with statutory responsibility for the attraction of foreign direct investment (FDI) to Ireland and its regions. The marketing of individual areas for new or expansion FDI investments and jobs is a day-to-day operational matter for the Agency. While I may give general policy directives to the Agency, I am precluded under the Industrial Development Acts from giving directives regarding individual undertakings or from giving preference to one area over others. I have been informed by the Agency that, there have been no site visits by potential investors to Athenry over the past two years. While IDA Ireland can and does encourage clients to visit particular locations, the final decision on where to visit or locate is taken in all cases by the clients.

In order to cater for the specialised high utility intensive needs of the Biotechnology and ICT sectors, IDA Ireland is in the process of developing a number of large scale, fully-serviced industrial sites throughout the country. In this connection IDA has purchased a site of 97ha (240 acres) which is located approximately 1km to the south west of Athenry. The purchase of the Athenry site is a significant part of IDA's plans to position the West of Ireland to be able to compete for global investment. IDA is currently preparing a major planning application for this site.

The site purchase was completed in December 2007 but for reasons of confidentiality and commercial sensitivity the purchase price of this land is not disclosed. The land was previously owned by Teagasc. When developed, this strategic site will be marketed by IDA to attract key capital intensive type clients in the Life Sciences, Biopharma, ICT or similarly related sectors.

Tax Code.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

71 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance his plans to make changes in tax practice that would result in tips being subject to VAT; the reason for this tax on a gift; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32719/08]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that tips and gratuities, which are discretionary and not included on the customer's bill as part of the amount legally obliged to be paid by the customer, have always been, and will continue to be, outside the scope of VAT. Revenue operated a concession for a number of years, whereby service charges in hotels and restaurants were not regarded as part of the amount subject to VAT provided those charges were distributed in full to staff. Unlike tips and gratuities, service charges are mandatory in nature and are part of the amount that customers are legally obliged to pay for the service.

In a European Court of Justice Case involving the EU Commission and France, the Court ruled that any amount that a supplier (restaurant, hotel, etc.) is entitled to receive for services supplied to customers forms part of the taxable amount for VAT. Revenue initiated discussions in August 2007 with hotel and restaurant trade representative bodies on the necessity of withdrawing the concession on service charges in the light of the Court's decision. In order to allow the sector reasonable time to make the necessary changes to systems and prepare staff for the change, Revenue announced in April 2008 that the concession on service charges would be withdrawn with effect from 1 September 2008. As on and from that date, taxable persons are obliged to account for VAT on the total consideration receivable, including service charges. However, as already stated, discretionary tips and gratuities continue to be outside the scope of VAT.

Financial Services Regulation.

Paul Connaughton

Ceist:

72 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Finance his plans to raise the limit of guarantee on deposits held by Irish banking institutions; the planned new level of guarantee; if his attention has been drawn to the anxiety people, particularly the elderly, have about losing their life savings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32742/08]

I refer the Deputy to the answer to Questions Nos. 18 (Ref: 31447/08), 60 (Ref: 31320/08 and 87 (Ref: 31660/08) on Thursday's Order Paper (25 September 2008).

Decentralisation Programme.

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

73 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Finance if he will expand in a more comprehensive way on his letter of 15 September 2008 (details supplied) regarding the status of the planned relocation of 300 personnel of the Department of Education and Science to Mullingar; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a site has been acquired, appropriate planning permission secured and comprehensive consultation has already taken place in readiness to accommodate the move; when the building will be ready to accommodate the 300 personnel who wish to move; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32826/08]

I can confirm that the position in relation to the planned relocation of the Department of Education and Science to Mullingar remains as outlined in my letter of 15th September, 2008 to the Deputy. I expect to present the reports referred to in my letter to Government over the coming weeks and I will be in touch with the Deputy again when the reports have been considered.

Tax Yield.

Lucinda Creighton

Ceist:

74 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance if 2008 corporate tax projections take into account the fact that companies liquidated in 2009 and 2010 will seek a retrospective three-year tax rebate; the amount, according to his estimates, of this year’s tax-take that will be lost due to future tax rebates due to liquidations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32944/08]

Section 397 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 deals with losses arising on the cessation of a trade, generally referred to as "terminal losses". On the cessation of a trade, losses incurred in the last twelve months may be set back against profits for the proceeding three years and corporation tax will be repaid accordingly. The currently expected yield from corporation tax in 2008 takes into account the collection trend in payments and repayments made during the course of the year to date, including repayments made under the provisions of Section 397. The cost of similar repayments implemented in 2009 and 2010 will be funded out of current receipts in those years and will not have a retrospective impact on the outturn from corporation tax in 2008 as reported at the end of this year.

Tax Code.

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

75 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Finance if a person of pension age can claim a refund for dental treatment done in another EU country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32949/08]

The position is that, under section 469 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, expenses incurred in respect of medical or dental treatment in an EU country are eligible for income tax relief, provided the treatment is carried out by a practitioner or in a hospital. However, health expenses relief has a specific exclusion in relation to the provision of routine dental treatment, which is defined as the extraction, scaling and filling of teeth, and the provision and repairing of artificial teeth or dentures. Relief for health expenses is allowed as a deduction at the taxpayer's marginal rate of tax by way of review of their liability at the end of the year. Relief is available as a deduction up to the amount of tax paid.

Medical Cards.

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

76 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children the decision on an application for a medical card by a person (details supplied) in Dublin 24; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32936/08]

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.

Hospital Services.

Joe Carey

Ceist:

77 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on the specific increase in funding both capital and revenue for mammography services at the Midwest Regional Hospital, Limerick since the suspension of services at Ennis General Hospital in 2007; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32702/08]

The specific questions raised by the Deputy relate to the management and delivery of health and personal social services, which are the responsibility of the HSE under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to respond directly to the Deputy in this regard.

Nursing Homes Repayment Scheme.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

78 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of claimants who have appealed and the amount offered to them under the Health (Repayment Scheme) Act 2006; the number of appeals that have been successful; and the number of appeals that have resulted in the moneys offered remaining the same. [32454/08]

The Health Repayment Scheme Appeals Office is an independent office established to provide an appeals service to those who wish to appeal the decision of the Scheme Administrator under the Health (Repayment Scheme) Act 2006. Up to 19 September 2008 the Health Repayment Scheme Appeals Office had received 1020 completed appeal forms from claimants who have appealed the amounts offered to them. Decisions have issued in 415 of these cases and 182 of these decisions will result in a revised offer to the claimant while 233 of these decisions have resulted in the amounts offered remaining the same.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

79 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of claimants who have been awarded under an Act (details supplied); the number of applications received and verified; the number of applications that have been validated but are awaiting payment; and the number of applications that have been refused with all details on a county basis. [32455/08]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has responsibility for administering the health repayment scheme in conjunction with the appointed scheme administrator KPMG/McCann Fitzgerald. The HSE has advised my Department that to date over 38,900 claim forms have been received under the Health Repayment Scheme. It is estimated that following adjustments for rejections and duplicate claims, the number of valid claims will be approximately 19,300. To date 17,684 claimants have received an offer of repayment and the value of these offers is €330m. 12,756 claimants have received payment to date under the Scheme and the value of these payments is €260m. It is anticipated that the remaining offers will be processed by end November 2008.

The HSE has also informed my Department that to date 13,923 letters of rejection have been sent to applicants who are deemed to fall outside the scheme. There are a variety of reasons for applications being rejected and these include instances where the relevant person died prior to 9 December 1998, where the relevant person resided in an institution not within the scope of the scheme and where duplicate applications were received on behalf of the relevant person. A breakdown of the following 11,224 applications that have been rejected is set out on a county basis:

County

No. of Rejections

County

No. of Rejections

Antrim

1

Leitrim

140

Armagh

2

Limerick

618

Carlow

144

Longford

108

Cavan

172

Louth

264

Clare

278

Mayo

285

Cork

1,111

Meath

248

Derry

7

Monaghan

101

Donegal

286

Offaly

161

Down

5

Roscommon

177

Dublin

2,994

Sligo

280

Fermanagh

3

Tipperary

415

Galway

653

Tyrone

2

Kerry

369

Waterford

319

Kildare

339

Westmeath

185

Kilkenny

219

Wexford

295

Laois

118

Wicklow

199

Outside of Ireland

726

A breakdown for probate rejections is not available on a county basis.

Mental Health Services.

Dan Neville

Ceist:

80 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress of the mental health in primary care project. [32870/08]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services was assigned to the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004 and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall vote. The Executive, therefore, is the appropriate body to consider the particular matter raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Dan Neville

Ceist:

81 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children the agreed target between the Office of the Minister for Disability and Mental Health concerning the implementation of A Vision for Change as outlined by An Taoiseach and the Minister for Health and Children on 30 January 2008. [32872/08]

The Office for Disability and Mental Health was established in January 2008 to support me as Minister of State for Disability and Mental Health at the Department of Health and Children in exercising my responsibilities in four Government Departments, namely the Departments of Health & Children, Justice, Equality & Law Reform, Education & Science and Enterprise, Trade & Employment. In relation to mental health, the Office is responsible for driving the implementation of the recommendations in ‘A Vision for Change' and ‘Reach Out' — the National Strategy for Action on Suicide Prevention working in conjunction with the Health Service Executive and other Government Departments.

Earlier this year, the HSE approved an Implementation Plan for ‘A Vision for Change' which sets out six key priorities for 2008 and 2009. They include:

Catchments Area Definition and Clarification

Modernisation of the Mental Health Infrastructure

Community Based Mental Health Teams

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Teams

Mental Health Services for People with Intellectual Disability

Mental Health Information Systems

A more detailed implementation plan for the period 2009 and beyond is being developed by the HSE and will be submitted to me before the end of this year.

Suicide Prevention.

Sean Sherlock

Ceist:

82 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount spent on suicide prevention initiatives to date in 2008; the breakdown of those initiatives; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32889/08]

Since the establishment in 2005 of the National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP), additional funding of €3.55 million has been provided for the implementation of ‘Reach Out'. This brings the total funding available to support suicide prevention initiatives to €8 million in 2008. The NOSP has an annual budget of €4.5 million which is used to develop and implement national training programmes, implement awareness campaigns and progress actions identified in the All-Island Action Plan for Suicide Prevention. Other suicide prevention initiatives, which include the funding for dedicated suicide resources officers, deliberate self-harm response nurses in A&E departments, funding to local voluntary groups etc, are delivered and funded directly by the HSE.

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 provide the particular details requested by the Deputy and my Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the HSE to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

The Deputy may also wish to be aware that the Dormant Accounts Fund, which is managed by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, allocated €1 million in 2008 for community-based initiatives in the area of suicide prevention.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Sean Sherlock

Ceist:

83 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to a survey by Enable Ireland in which more than half of the participants admitted they did not find it easy to access public buildings, 70% said they had not found the process of finding work easy, 34% found education had not been very accessible and just over two thirds of people with disabilities had difficulty accessing community events, social and leisure activities in their own areas; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32890/08]

I am aware of the survey mentioned by the Deputy. The matters referred to come within the scope of the Government's National Disability Strategy and I will raise the issues concerned with my colleagues, the Ministers for Justice, Equality & Law Reform; Enterprise, Trade & Employment and Education & Science, in that context.

Health Service Staff.

Ulick Burke

Ceist:

84 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of new home help persons appointed between 1 April and end of September 2008 by the Health Service Executive in County Galway; the cost involved; the number of people who benefited from these appointments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32899/08]

Subject to overall parameters set by Government, the Health Service Executive has the responsibility for determining the composition of its staffing complement. In that regard, it is a matter for the Executive to manage and deploy its human resources to best meet the requirements of the Annual Service Plan for the delivery of health and personal social services to the public. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular issues raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have these matters investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Health Services.

Ulick Burke

Ceist:

85 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Health and Children the process and procedure followed in the awarding of a contract by the Health Service Executive west, amounting to circa €16.8 million, for the provision of facilities at a centre (details supplied) in County Galway; the locations at which and when tenders were invited and advertised; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32900/08]

Responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services including estate management 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. 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.

Health Service Staff.

Ulick Burke

Ceist:

86 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 272 of 1 July 2008, the cost to the Health Service Executive in each of the HSE areas of investigating, processing and compensating where appropriate, cases of bullying; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32901/08]

As previously indicated to you in response to Parliamentary Question no. 272 of 1 July 2008, under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive has the responsibility to manage and deliver, or arrange to have delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services in a safe and secure setting. This includes responsibility for dealing with any complaints an employee may have concerning his or her working environment. As the Executive was the appropriate body to consider the matter raised by the Deputy, my Department requested that the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued to the Deputy.

I am informed by the HSE that a reply issued directly to the Deputy on 16 July 2008, which contained information about the number of alleged bullying cases currently active, the number of cases resolved and the number of cases which have proceeded to arbitration during 2007. Information was also provided about the Dignity and Work Policy which was introduced across the organisation in 2004. As the HSE continue to be the appropriate body to answer the further queries raised by the Deputy on this matter, my Department has again requested that the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued to the Deputy.

Nursing Homes Repayment Scheme.

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

87 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in Dublin 22 who made a claim seeking a rebate of nursing home charges has not received a rebate; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32921/08]

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.

Care of the Elderly.

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

88 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children the funding allocated for home care packages; if she will provide a breakdown of this funding by region; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32922/08]

Home Care Packages form a key component of the Government's strategy of supporting older people to live at home and in their communities for as long as possible. In this context, funding of €120 million was allocated to the Health Service Executive over the years 2006-8 inclusive to underpin this initiative. The Deputy will appreciate that 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 detail of the allocations raised by him. 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.

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

89 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children the cost to date of the new national children’s hospital; the estimated total cost of this hospital; if she will provide a progress report on the project; the estimated date of completion; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32923/08]

The development of the National Paediatric Hospital is a priority project for the Government. The Capital Plan includes provision for the development of the new hospital and the associated Ambulatory and Urgent Care Centre at Tallaght. The National Paediatric Hospital Development Board was established in May, 2007. Its primary function is to plan, design, furnish and equip the new national paediatric hospital. The HSE is working closely with the Board in progressing the project.

The project is currently at initiation stage. A contract has been awarded for business advisory services. A detailed Development Brief for the new hospital is being prepared and is due for completion by the end of the 1st Quarter 2009. 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 to enable the transfer of the designated site for the hospital to the HSE have been agreed. My Department has asked the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to revert directly to the Deputy on the other issues raised by him.

National Treatment Purchase Fund.

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

90 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children the cost of the National Treatment Purchase Fund to the Exchequer in the years 2005, 2006, 2007 and to date in 2008; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32924/08]

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

91 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will provide a breakdown of the number of procedures carried out by the National Treatment Purchase Fund to date in 2008 and in the years 2005, 2006 and 2007; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32925/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 90 and 91 together.

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the tables. Table 1 shows the annual revenue allocations, in-patients treated and out-patient appointments in the years in question. Table 2 indicates in-patient activity to the end of August 2008. The Annual Reports of the National Treatment Purchase Fund contain detailed statistics in relation to both in-patient and out-patient activity for the period 2005 to 2007. I have arranged for a copy of the report for each year to be furnished to the Deputy.

Table 1

Year

2005

2006

2007

2008

Revenue Allocation

€64.00m

€78.45m

€88.80m

*€100.337m

Number of in-patients treated

14,580

16,931

22,069

23,300 (projection)

Number of out-patient consultations arranged

4,500

7,480

10,569

13,400 (projection)

*€75.5m has been expended up to 30 Sept.

Table 2

In-Patient Activity in 2008 to end August

Cardiac

652

ENT

1,584

General Surgery

2433

Gynae

388

Max. Fax.

459

Neurosurgery

124

Ophthalmology

2,971

Orthopaedic

1,193

Pain Management

69

Non Cosmetic Plastic

802

Urology

1,191

Vascular

503

Other

1,918

Total Procedures

14,287

Hospitals Building Programme.

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

92 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of co-located hospitals under construction; the location of these hospitals; when construction will begin on the other proposed co-located hospitals; the expected date of completion of these projects; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32926/08]

The Board of the Health Service Executive (HSE) has approved preferred bidder status for the development of co-located hospitals at the following six sites: Beaumont Hospital, Cork University Hospital, Limerick Regional Hospital, St. James's Hospital, Waterford Regional Hospital and Sligo General Hospital. Project Agreements for the Beaumont, Cork and Limerick sites have been signed. The necessary preparatory work for Project Agreements in respect of St. James's Hospital, Waterford Regional Hospital and Sligo General Hospital is proceeding. Planning permission has been sought for the Beaumont and Cork projects and has been granted by the local authorities concerned and appealed in both cases to An Bord Pleanála. Planning permission has been granted for the Limerick project.

The HSE has indicated that it anticipates that the overall construction and commissioning period will be approximately 26 to 30 months in each case. Connolly Hospital and Tallaght Hospital, which are also participating in the co-location initiative, are at an earlier stage of the procurement process. A tender in respect of Connolly Hospital has been received and is under consideration. Work is being undertaken to finalise the Invitation to Tender (ITT) for Tallaght Hospital.

Community Pharmacy Services.

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

93 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children the waiting list for methadone in an area (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32927/08]

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.

Health Services.

Joe Costello

Ceist:

94 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in Dublin 7 will receive orthodontic treatment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32970/08]

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.

Joe Costello

Ceist:

95 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of people who are considered to be blocking beds in the Mater Hospital at present; the length of time that each has spent in the hospital to date; the length of time that each is considered to be a bed blocker; the average length of time that patients are considered to be blocking beds in the Mater; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32971/08]

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

Mental Health Services.

David Stanton

Ceist:

96 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 623 of 24 September 2008, if she has received a copy of the Waiting List Report on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services; if so, the policy decisions she will take as a result of the report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32974/08]

A copy of the Waiting List Report on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services which was completed by the HSE in 2007, was made available to the Department of Health and Children. Government policy in relation to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services is outlined in "A Vision for Change", implementation of which is a matter for the Health Service Executive (HSE). I welcome the fact that the HSE has prioritised the development of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in 2008. In this regard the Service Plan for 2008 includes the completion of eight additional child and adolescent multidisciplinary teams to further support the provision of child psychiatric services.

In relation to in-patient facilities the position is that the HSE expect to provide an additional 18 children's beds in the current year; the provision of these beds will increase the acute bed complement to 30. Four of the additional beds have already been commissioned in St Anne's, Galway, and a further 6 at St Vincent's Fairview and 8 at St Stephen's in Cork will be provided in the last quarter of the year. The HSE also hopes to begin construction on two 20 bedded child and adolescent units — one in Galway and one in Cork — later this year.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Bernard Allen

Ceist:

97 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Cork is not receiving the physiotherapy treatment that was recommended for them in view of the fact that they had surgery seven years ago but have been confined to a wheelchair for 14 to 15 hours per day for the past four years due to a lack of physiotherapy. [32978/08]

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.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

98 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if her Department will continue to fund a group (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32981/08]

Operational responsibility for the management and delivery of health and personal social services was assigned to the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004 and funding for all health services has been provided as part of its overall vote. The Executive, therefore, is the appropriate body to consider the particular matter raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

99 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a matter (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32985/08]

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 Health Service Executive (HSE) to develop services for patients with cystic fibrosis. 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. A new ward block is being planned 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. Recent refurbishment of accommodation has provided eight single en-suite rooms for patients with cystic fibrosis. 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.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

100 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support a matter (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32986/08]

As the Deputy is aware, it is custom and practice for a number of organisations, including those in the disability sector, to forward pre-budget submissions to the relevant Ministers and their Departments in the run up to the Budget. Such submissions are considered as part of the discussions on the Estimates and Budget each year. While it is not appropriate to comment further on the Disability Federation of Ireland's pre-budget submission, I would point out that this year's Budget is being framed against the background of challenging economic circumstances.

In relation to health services for people with a disability, I would like to take the opportunity to highlight the significant resources which have been expended on disability services in 2008. The Multi Annual Investment Programme for Disability Services makes provision for the development of additional residential, respite places and day care places each year between 2006 and 2009 for people with Intellectual Disability and Autism and additional residential care and home support services for people with physical and sensory disabilities. In the 2008 Budget, €50m was provided to the Health Service Executive (HSE) to fund a range of additional services under the Multi-Annual Investment Programme for Disability.

Although the commencement of the planned developments in disability services this year had been delayed due to a financial review, I am pleased to inform you that the Executive has informed the Department of Health and Children that it is now in the process of rolling out the planned developments. The HSE has indicated that due to the delayed start to some of these developments it expects to spend €33m of the €50m by the end of 2008. The resulting €17m time related savings were included in this Department's budgetary consolidation measures announced to the House in July 2008. It is not appropriate for me or my Department to comment on the resources that will be allocated in 2009, prior to the announcement of the Budget 2009 package.

Comharthaí Bóithre.

Dinny McGinley

Ceist:

101 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Dinny McGinley den Aire Iompair cad iad na hiarrachtaí atá á ndéanamh ag a Roinn le comhstádas don Ghaeilge a bheith ar fáil ar chomharthaí bóithre; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [32715/08]

Féach ar an bhfreagra a tugadh ar cheist Uimhir 217 de 28ú Feabhra 2007 ar an ábhar seo. Is féidir leis an Aire Iompair, faoi alt 95 den Act um Thrácht ar Bhóithre 1961, treoracha ghinearálta nó áirithe a thabhairt dos na h-údaráis bóthair maidir le síneacha tráchta. Tá treoracha le fáil san lámhleabhar "Lámhleabhar na Síneacha Tráchta 1996" maidir leis an úsáid a bhaintear as an nGaeilge agus an Béarla ar shíneacha tráchta. Táim sásta leis na treoracha seo agus níl sé ar intinn agam aon leasú a dhéanamh.

Job Losses.

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

102 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport the contacts he has had with Aer Lingus management and unions over new cost cutting proposals that may result in job losses of up to 1,300 people at the airline; the directions he has given to the Government appointed directors on the board of Aer Lingus on this matter; the mandate that the Government appointed directors have been charged with; the regularity with which they report to him; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32686/08]

The management of Aer Lingus met with officials of my Department on 16 September, 2008 to present the financial results for the first half of 2008. The meeting took place in the context of a round of meetings with major shareholders which the management undertakes twice yearly in relation to the annual and half-year results. At the meeting on 16 September the management set out the challenges facing the airline due to sustained high fuel prices and pointed out that proposals to achieve further cuts in the cost base were being developed and would be brought before the Board.

I am aware through the State's role as shareholder of the Dublin Airport Authority that Aer Lingus has been in negotiations about possible ways of reducing its cost base at Shannon airport. The Company has made no secret of the challenges that it is facing and the need to reduce its cost base. This has been widely reported in the media and there has been some speculation as to how the costs might be reduced. Aer Lingus is an independent company and has to take decisions on a commercial basis. Commercial decisions are a matter for the Board and management of the Company and it is not open to the Government to intervene as a shareholder in the company.

Under Company law all directors are obliged to pursue the best interest of the Company. Subject to that duty the State's nominees on the Board of Aer Lingus have been issued with a mandate to ensure that all future decisions of the company that have significant implications for wider Government, aviation or regional development policies are considered at Board level. The mandate specifically states that the possible decisions concerned would include decisions on proposals with significant local or national economic implications including a direct impact on employment. In accordance with the mandate the State's nominees are directed to seek to reconcile commercial and public policy objectives. I understand that the company will be meeting with trade unions representing staff this week with the assistance of the conciliation service of the Labour Relations Commission.

Road Safety.

Shane McEntee

Ceist:

103 Deputy Shane McEntee asked the Minister for Transport the additional resources he has given the Road Safety Authority to meet new standards set down in recent legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32960/08]

While my Department provides annual funding to the Road Safety Authority, the allocation of resources to the various programmes is a matter for the Authority itself. Exchequer funding of €39.1 million is provided to the RSA in 2008.

Public Transport.

Seán Barrett

Ceist:

104 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Transport the reason bus lanes are operational on a 24-hour 7-day basis in some locations in which buses do not provide 24-hour services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25454/08]

Regulations regarding the operating times of bus lanes are decided upon by the relevant local authorities. I have discussed this matter with the DTO and the Quality Bus Network Project Office (QBNPO), and I understand that locations where bus lanes operate 24 hours a day for the most part fall into two categories. Some are cases where hard shoulders have been converted into running lanes and been designated as bus lanes. In such cases, there is obviously no issue in regard to road space which might otherwise have been used by traffic. The second category of twenty-four hour bus lanes covers those cases where contra-flow bus lanes are designated. In these cases, and indeed in the case of bus lanes on hard shoulders, the safest way for all of operating such lanes is to operate them continuously.

An example of one situation other than converted hard shoulders or contra-flow lanes where twenty-four hour bus lanes have been introduced is the with-flow bus lanes provided on the Outer Ring Road by South Dublin County Council. In this case, An Bord Pleanála specified 24-hour designation as a planning condition attached to its approval of the upgrade of the road. An Bord Pleanála indicated that this condition was introduced to ensure priority for public transport. I understand that South Dublin County Council is also of the view that this decision enhances safety in relation to the bus lane.

Question No. 105 answered with Question No. 52.

Ferry Services.

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

106 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Transport if progress has been made on the re-establishment of the Cork- Swansea ferry route; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32713/08]

The Cork Swansea Ferry Company suspended its service in 2007. I can appreciate the concerns that have been expressed in the region in response to this development. I understand that a number of interested parties and stakeholders have been in discussions with the Port of Cork Company about the possibility of commencing a new passenger and freight service out of the port. Port of Cork Company has also carried out a commercial examination of the route. This indicates that, subject to procuring a suitable vessel, the service could be feasible on a year round basis. As Minister of State for Transport, I feel it is important that the market offers a diverse range of maritime links in and out of the State. This is vital to facilitate trade and tourism. I certainly hope that the current efforts show that the service is commercially viable and that it can be resumed as soon as possible.

Rail Network.

Sean Sherlock

Ceist:

107 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Transport the progress on works on the Midleton to Cork railway line; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32745/08]

The implementation of this project, for which my Department has approved funding, is a matter for Iarnród Éireann. I understand that good progress is being made on the Midleton line and that construction works are expected to be completed by mid 2009.

Traffic Management.

Seymour Crawford

Ceist:

108 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Minister for Transport his views on allowing cars carrying three or more people to use the bus lanes in Dublin or elsewhere in order to encourage car pooling and minimise the city centre traffic as is being done in Canada and elsewhere; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32880/08]

It is my view that the best way to reduce congestion and to minimize city centre traffic is to encourage people to switch from private cars to public transport. This is the principal reason for providing bus lanes and other measures to promote bus priority on our roads. I am aware that quite a number of cities around the world have introduced High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes. The results have varied greatly. I am not aware of any local authorities which have plans to introduce any such lanes in Ireland. However, the possible use of HOV lanes will be considered as part of the development of my Department's forthcoming Sustainable Travel and Transport Action Plan.

Coast Guard Service.

Jimmy Deenihan

Ceist:

109 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Transport his plans to install a coastal radio in the headquarters of his Department in Dublin and open a new centre in Shannon; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32885/08]

It is my intention that the Irish Coast Guard and Maritime Administration will be strengthened to meet the needs of this country well into the 21st century. I am still considering the matter referred to by the Deputy.

Light Rail Project.

Lucinda Creighton

Ceist:

110 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Transport the reason only one possible route for the proposed Rathfarnham-Terenure Luas line was examined in the feasibility study recently undertaken under Transport 21; the alternative routes possible for that line; the reason they were not studied; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32941/08]

The report of the feasibility study on a possible Luas line connecting Dundrum to the city centre via Rathfarnham, Terenure and Harold's Cross (known as Line E) was published by the Railway Procurement Agency in May 2008. The purpose of the feasibility study was to examine, on the basis of a high level assessment, whether at least one potential corridor exists that could be capable of reasonably accommodating a Luas scheme connecting the Dundrum, Terenure and Rathfarnham areas with the city centre. If the option assessed in the study had not been deemed to be feasible, alternative corridors would have been considered. The study identifies a feasible route corridor and sets out the issues to be considered in relation to the corridor. Following the publication of the feasibility report the Railway Procurement Agency engaged in a consultation process. The Agency is currently assessing the responses received during this consultation process.

Lucinda Creighton

Ceist:

111 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Transport if the metro north will proceed on schedule; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32942/08]

The target date for the completion of Metro North is 2013 but this is dependent on the outcome of the planning and procurement processes. A final decision on the project will be taken once the planning and procurement processes are complete. The RPA continues to make good progress on the PPP tender process for Metro North. The initial phase of the PPP public procurement process was conducted in 2007 resulting in the formation of four pre-qualified consortia for the purpose of tendering for the project. Tender documentation was formally issued to the four pre-qualified consortia on 12 May 2008.

Since then the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) has held a number of meetings with the consortia. Following on from a request from some of the consortia, the RPA recently agreed to extend the closing date for submission of tenders by two months. Receipt of tenders is now required by 6 February 2009. In addition, good progress is being made in the planning process. The RPA placed copies of the Railway Order application on display on 17 September in accordance with the 6 week statutory public notice requirement pursuant to section 37 of the Transport (Railway Infrastructure) Act 2001.

Planning Issues.

Lucinda Creighton

Ceist:

112 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Transport his views on the assertion made during the oral hearing into appeal PL29S/228512 that the proposed development would have a negligible effect on traffic in the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32979/08]

Planning matters come under the remit of my colleague the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government. As the question refers to an ongoing appeal, it would not be appropriate for me to comment on it.

Traffic Management.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

113 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport if he has taken particular steps to ensure that measures calculated to address traffic congestion affecting the commuter towns throughout County Kildare in the context of the Transport 21 programme or otherwise will be implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32992/08]

There are several investment programmes under Transport 21 in Co. Kildare, which will be of major benefit to the County. Irish Rail is progressing the 4-tracking of the railway between Hazelhatch and a point approximately 1 km west of Heuston Station, which upon completion, will permit the suburban service between Kildare towns and the western side of the city to be significantly improved. Bus Éireann has also recently significantly increased the level of service on its network of commuter services between Dublin city and towns in Kildare.

In addition, Kildare County Council has been allocated grants towards the costs of providing the following improved facilities by the DTO Traffic Management Grants Committee during 2007 and 2008:

€510,000 (90% funding rate) to prepare traffic management plans for the towns of Maynooth, Celbridge, Kilcock, Naas and Kildare, building on the recommendations of previously conducted Integrated Framework Plans for Land Use and Transport for those towns.

€247,500 (90% funding rate) to provide a network of on-street cycle lanes on the radial routes and off-street cycle tracks on orbital routes in and around the town of Naas.

€178,900 (90% funding rate) for the provision of off-road cycle tracks along Naas Southern Ring Road (Newbridge Road to Ballymore Road section)

€237,150 (90% funding rate) for the provision of on-road cycle advisory lanes along Naas Southern Ring Road (Ballymore Road to Blessington Road section)

This funding is being provided to the DTO by my Department under the Transport 21 Programme.

Public Transport.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

114 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport if he has received from Bus Átha Cliath or Iarnród Éireann proposals for an enhanced feeder bus service to meet the requirements of commuters using the rail stations of Kilcock, Maynooth, Leixlip, Confey, Hazelhatch, Newbridge, Kildare, Monasterevin and Athy; if an assessment has been carried out to determine the extent to which road traffic congestion could be alleviated as a result of such measures; if he proposes to take initiatives in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32997/08]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

115 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport if he intends to further increase the daily commuter throughput at each rail station throughout County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32999/08]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

117 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport when it is intended to increase rail and bus services to Kilcock, County Kildare having particular regard to repeated requests from consumers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33001/08]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

118 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport the extent to which the daily commuter capacity at each rail station throughout County Kildare has been increased in the past five years; his plans for further improvements in this area in each of the next five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33002/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 114, 115, 117 and 118 together.

The capacity and frequency of rail services on the Maynooth and Kildare lines have increased substantially in recent years. Capacity, for example, on the Kildare and Maynooth lines has increased by 125% and 250% respectively since 2000. In addition, the opening of the Docklands Station has enabled Iarnród Éireann to operate extra services between Clonsilla and Docklands on the Maynooth line. The completion of the Kildare Route upgrade project in 2010 and the Maynooth line development programme will further improve services on both lines. Iarnród Éireann have been asked to provide the Deputy with data regarding passenger throughput at each station in Co. Kildare.

The provision of bus services, including, feeder bus services to railway stations, is a matter for bus transport providers including Bus Éireann. It is open to any private bus operator to submit proposals to my Department seeking authorization to operate new bus services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

116 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport the full intended extent of increased car parking spaces anticipated for each rail station throughout County Kildare in the next five years; when it is intended that the extra spaces will become available in each case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33000/08]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

120 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport if in view of the ongoing increased costs on motorists and the need to encourage the use of public transport, he will take steps to increase free car parking spaces at all rail stations throughout County Kildare and the greater Dublin area and to desist from the growing practice of charges for car parking spaces which are counter to an incentive to use public transport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33004/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 116 and 120 together.

The provision and operation of car parking facilities at railway stations, including the imposition of charges towards the costs thereof, is a matter for Iarnród Éireann. I understand that Iarnród Éireann has already provided information to the Deputy regarding existing and proposed car parking capacity at railway stations in Co. Kildare.

Questions Nos. 117 and 118 answered with Question No. 114.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

119 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Transport the extent to which all of the projects in the Transport 21 project relative to north Kildare will be implemented in full as originally announced within the projected time frame; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33003/08]

A number of Transport 21 projects have already been completed or are under construction, which have benefited the Kildare region, including:

the continuing development of the major inter-urban roads, such as the N7, N8 and N9

the opening of Docklands station providing extra capacity on the Maynooth line

the four-tracking of the Kildare line from Cherry Orchard to Hazelhatch.

The start and completion dates of Transport 21 projects which have not yet commenced will be determined by the funding allocation available during the current difficult economic climate. The commencement dates for these projects will also be influenced by the time taken for public consultation, the relevant statutory process and the procurement and contract award processes.

Question No. 120 answered with Question No. 116.

Decentralisation Programme.

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

121 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Transport the progress to date of decentralisation to Drogheda, including the progress on sites selected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33376/08]

The original proposal to move 37 posts to Drogheda was recently reviewed in the context of an efficiency review by my Department. I considered that decentralising a combination of safety investigation functions, the Railway Safety Commission (which was to be relocated originally to Ballinasloe), and other areas to bring the numbers up to the total requirement of 37 for Drogheda offers greater potential for operational efficiency as well as value for money. No site has been selected to-date.

Proposed Legislation.

Joe Costello

Ceist:

122 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when he proposes to introduce the promised legislation on the regulation of management companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32968/08]

Eamon Gilmore

Ceist:

129 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the ongoing financial burden and practical difficulties being caused to residents of apartments and estates by the non-regulation of management companies; the reason for the delay in publishing the proposed legislation; when the Property Services Regulatory Authority Bill will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32937/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 122 and 129 together.

The Government Legislation Programme published on 23 September 2008 provides for publication of the Property Services (Regulation) Bill during the current Dail session. The Bill will establish the Property Services Regulatory Authority on a statutory basis. The primary task of the new Authority will be to maintain and improve standards in the provision of property services by auctioneers, estate agents and property management agents through a new licensing regime and a system for investigating and adjudicating on complaints against property service providers. As regards property management companies, the position is that the Law Reform Commission's Report on Multi-Unit Developments contains recommendations concerning multi-unit developments and the regulation and governance of such companies. The Commission does not however recommend that the Property Services Regulatory Authority be given a role in relation to these companies.

Work on the preparation of legislative proposals to respond the Law Reform Commission's recommendations on property management companies is currently under way across a number of Departments. A decision will be made shortly as to whether it would be more expeditious to introduce a single Bill or to adopt a sectoral approach to amending existing legislation. The Government's decision on the matter will be made on the basis of how quickly the required legislation can be enacted.

Citizenship Applications.

Damien English

Ceist:

123 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding an application for citizenship by a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and when he expects this application to be decided on. [32727/08]

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 March 2008. Officials in that Section are currently processing applications received in April 2006. All applications are dealt with in chronological order as this is deemed to be the fairest to all applicants. The current processing time for certificates of naturalisation is approximately 28 months.

Damien English

Ceist:

124 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when an application for family reunification by a person (details supplied) in County Meath will be decided on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32729/08]

I am informed by the Immigration Division of my Department that the person in question made an application for Family Reunification in respect of his wife in August 2006. The application was forwarded to the Refugee Applications Commissioner for investigation as required under Section 18 of the Refugee Act 1996. This investigation is completed and the Commissioner has forwarded a report to my Department. The Immigration Division has recently written to the person concerned requesting additional documentation. This matter will be further examined on receipt of the requested documentation.

Garda Investigations.

Damien English

Ceist:

125 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding the ongoing investigation into a scheme (details supplied); when the investigation will be finalised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32735/08]

I have been informed by the Garda Authorities that a number of complaints have been received at Kells Garda Station with regard to the operation of a "People in Profit" System (PIPS — Investment Scheme). Officers of An Garda Síochána have made enquiries, via Interpol, with the Malaysian authorities. A reply was received in November 2007 and following this communication further enquiries have been made through Interpol channels with the Malaysian Authorities. The Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation is assisting local officers with the investigation into these complaints. This process is ongoing and it has not yet been determined when these investigations will be brought to a conclusion.

Asylum Support Services.

Pat Rabbitte

Ceist:

126 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the statutory body which has responsibility for providing accommodation to asylum seekers who have been evicted from direct provision facilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32740/08]

Section 10 of the Housing Act, 1988, while not putting a statutory obligation on local authorities, confers powers on them to directly arrange and fund emergency accommodation, make arrangements with the HSE or a voluntary body for the provision of emergency accommodation, and/or make contributions to voluntary bodies towards the cost of accommodation provided by them. The structures in that Act were unsuited to the situation facing the Government in 1999 and subsequent years when the number of asylum seekers arriving in Ireland increased dramatically. A total of 7,724 asylum applications were received in 1999 and a further 10,938 in the following year. Of these, most presented themselves in Dublin. The homeless service of the then Eastern Health Board could not cope and there was a serious prospect of widespread homelessness among asylum seekers.

In response to this serious and unprecedented challenge, the Directorate for Asylum Support Services (DASS), was established in November, 1999 under the aegis of my Department to coordinate the scheme of dispersal and direct provision for asylum seekers. DASS was subsequently replaced by the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) which continues to accommodate asylum seekers under the system of dispersal and direct provision. Today, there are 62 accommodation centres around the country accommodating just over 6,800 persons.

Direct provision provides asylum seekers with full board accommodation and certain ancillary services while their applications for asylum are being processed. It needs to be understood that there is no obligation placed upon asylum seekers to avail of the accommodation offered by RIA. Some choose to live with relatives or friends, or make use of their own resources to source accommodation. The rights and obligations of an asylum seeker in a RIA accommodation centre are clearly spelt out in a document entitled ‘Direct Provision Reception and Accommodation Centre Services, Rules and Procedures', a copy of which is provided upon arrival in the centre. Specific reference is made to the right of RIA to expel a resident in extreme circumstances.

In this respect, while every effort is made by the RIA and other State service providers in each centre to facilitate its smooth running, a very small number of residents have chosen — through their own actions — to exclude themselves from such accommodation. Expulsion arises as a result of, inter alia, persistent violent and aggressive behaviour, threats to persons and property, assault, violence, vandalism and damage to property. The RIA has a duty of care towards the 6,800 residents in its care, to centre staff under contract to it, to staff providing services on-site and to visitors, and cannot turn a blind eye to such behaviour.

Quite properly, Ireland honours its international obligations in allowing asylum seekers entry into the State so that their international protection claims can be assessed in accordance with the law. In doing so, the State allows to asylum seekers generous access to services, including the direct provision system. All asylum seekers have a personal obligation to ensure that their behaviour is fully consistent with their status in the State. No other State body is obliged to provide accommodation to asylum seekers, even when — through their own actions — they effectively lead to their own departure from a centre. It should be noted that at all points in the asylum process, it is open to an applicant to withdraw from the process and seek a voluntary return to his or her country of origin.

Prison Building Programme.

Sean Sherlock

Ceist:

127 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding plans to construct a new prison in Kilworth, County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32746/08]

The Government decided to assign a site owned by the Department of Defence to the Irish Prison Service as the location for the development of a prison facility to replace Cork Prison and serve the Munster region. A preliminary site suitability report has been carried out on the site and this has confirmed that there are no significant constraints to the development of this site. I can confirm also that the Prison Service Interim Board, in accordance with Department of Finance Guidelines, has approved a preliminary Business Case for this project and has forwarded it to my Department for sanction to proceed to the next stage of the process. I see the Prison Service moving to the next stage of the process, the preparation of a detailed Business Case, in the coming months.

Garda Deployment.

John Deasy

Ceist:

128 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the shortfall in the number of gardaí that are needed to deal with the ongoing violence which has occurred in Waterford city over the past few months; if he will address this situation by increasing the number of gardaí in Waterford city; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32935/08]

It is the responsibility of the Garda Commissioner to allocate personnel throughout the Force taking everything into account. In that regard, the needs of the Garda District referred to by the Deputy will be fully considered by the Commissioner within the overall context of the needs of Garda Districts and Divisions throughout the country. I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that as of 31 August 2008, the personnel strength of Waterford / Kilkenny Garda Division and Waterford Garda District was 436 and 176 respectively. I am further informed that the policing and public safety challenge posed by the ongoing incidents referred to has not been encountered previously in Waterford / Kilkenny Garda Division. However during this period, no incident of public disorder, anti-social behaviour or other criminality reported to An Garda Síochána has gone un-investigated by Garda personnel. Additional resources from within the Garda Region were also utilised by local Garda Management in this regard.

Question No. 129 answered with Question No. 122.

Garda Investigations.

Joe Costello

Ceist:

130 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the steps he proposes to take to deal with the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32972/08]

I have received an interim report from the Garda Commissioner about this case and I expect to receive a full report on it from him, as soon as possible, after certain enquiries have been completed. When I have received the full report I will consider the question of any further action which may be necessary on my part. I should mention also that I understand that there have been contacts between An Garda Síochána and the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission about the case and I have agreed to a request from the Commissioner that the interim report furnished to my Department should be made available to the Commission.

Visa Applications.

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

131 Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the circumstances relating to a visa application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wexford which has been refused on the grounds that it is contrary to general policy that comprise compelling grounds as to the reason an exception to this policy should be made; if this visa application will be reconsidered on an exception to policy basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32980/08]

The visa application referred to by the Deputy was received in the Visa Office, Dublin on 30 May 2008. It was refused by the Visa Officer on 3 July 2008 as it is not general policy to grant a visa to dependant family members over the age of 18 to join or visit persons granted residency/residing in the State. The applicant's case was fully examined and there were no compelling grounds shown as to why an exception to this policy should be made. The time period within which an appeal may be submitted (two months) has elapsed. It is open to the applicant to make a fresh visa application at any time. If doing so, the applicant may include details which they feel are compelling reasons as to why their case should be regarded as being exceptional to the general policy.

Firearms Licences.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

132 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of legally held firearms in this State; and if he is satisfied with public safety aspects. [32983/08]

I understand from the Garda Authorities that the total number of licensed firearms in the State is approx. 232,000. The number of licensed firearms has increased by approximately 10% over the last five years in line with the overall increase in population. Section 4 of the Firearms Act 1925 sets out the conditions of grant of a firearm certificate and specifies that the Superintendent shall, before granting a firearm certificate, be satisfied that the applicant:

(a) has a good reason for requiring the certificate,

(b) can be permitted to have in his possession, use, and carry a firearm or ammunition without danger to the public safety or to the peace, and

(c) is not a person declared by this Act to be disentitled to hold a firearms certificate.

Obviously, the safety of the public is paramount. While I accept that the vast majority of persons who hold licensed firearms use them legitimately, I have already indicated my concern at the increase in the number of handguns being licensed. That is why I directed a review of our firearms legislation. That review is being finalised at present and I will bring legislative proposals arising from it forward as quickly as possible.

Prison Staff.

Charles Flanagan

Ceist:

133 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will seek a report from the Irish Prison Service on the transfer without reason or adequate explanation of a person (details supplied); and if he is satisfied that proper and accepted procedure and practice were adopted and followed. [33005/08]

I am advised by the Director General of the Irish Prison Service that the Officer in question was transferred for operational reasons and was advised accordingly. I am satisfied that proper procedures were followed in this case.

Swimming Pool Projects.

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

134 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he will make funds available for a swimming pool at a location (details supplied) in County Dublin. [32909/08]

The current round of the Local Authority Swimming Pool Programme provides grant aid to a maximum of €3.8 million towards the capital costs of new swimming pools or the refurbishment of existing pools. The current round of the Programme closed to applicants on 31 July 2000 and no application was submitted by South Dublin County Council, on behalf of Lucan, by that date. As such it is not possible to make funding available under the current round of the programme for a swimming pool in Lucan. Given the current budgetary constraints, it is not intended to launch a new round of the Programme at this time. However, when a new round of the Programme is launched it will be open to all Local Authorities, including South Dublin County Council on behalf of Lucan, to submit an application under the terms that will apply.

Arts Funding.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

135 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he will support a matter (details supplied). [32987/08]

It is the Government's responsibility to ensure that the arts and culture are well funded and placed at the centre of policy making in Ireland. To this end funding for the Arts and Culture sector has increased significantly in recent years. Funding for the Arts and Culture, which includes the Arts Council, the Film Board, Culture Ireland, the National Cultural Institutions and the capital arts infrastructure programme ACCESS (Arts and Culture Capital Enhancement Support Scheme) and the National Gallery is approximately €220m in 2008.

As Minister for Arts 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 will be addressed in the context of the 2009 Estimates. In doing so, the Government must balance competing demands from all other sectors of our economy and society. Funding for the Arts Council has increased from €47.67m in 2002 to €81.6m this year –an increase of over 71%. These are significant amounts of money in any context. This funding has transformed the arts, increasing access to and participation in the arts, and has provided an excellent platform for future development. 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.

Dormant Accounts Fund.

Pat Breen

Ceist:

136 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the reason funding in respect of an organisation (details supplied) in County Clare has been withdrawn; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32739/08]

At present, there are eight Government Departments involved in the disbursement of grants from the DAF. While my Department has an overall management and administrative role in relation to the Dormant Accounts Fund, the management of individual priority measures and disbursement of funds to beneficiaries of these measures is a matter for the relevant lead Department. In relation to the Deputy's enquiry, the measure concerned is the Older Persons Measure and the Department of Health and Children is the lead Department with regard to funding and management of this measure. I understand that there is a difficulty at present and I am raising this with my colleague, the Minister for Health and Children.

Family Support Services.

Olwyn Enright

Ceist:

137 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the details of the pilot scheme for lone parents which has been running, including any evaluation undertaken into the project; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32762/08]

The Government discussion paper, "Proposals for Supporting Lone Parents," put forward proposals to tackle obstacles to employment for lone parents and other low income families. Under the proposals the lone parenthood category of payment would no longer exist. Instead, a new payment would be made to all parents (living alone or with a partner), with young children, on low income. The non-income recommendations contained in the discussion paper were examined in two areas: Coolock and Kilkenny. These studies, which took place between November 2007 and February 2008, were carried out to facilitate the development of the policy and operational details of the new scheme. The process involved both lone parents and qualified adults and was on a voluntary basis; the take-up was low. However, the experience has highlighted how both lone parents and qualified adults are not a homogenous group, are of different ages, have experienced different routes into their current situation and have different needs.

Educational levels of those who participated were generally low, there was little or no engagement with FÁS, some participants intended to return to full or part-time work when their child was a few months old; others, however, had been out of the work force for a considerable period of time. Earnings from previous employment were generally low. In Kilkenny access to transport was an issue with regard to taking up employment or training, with those outside the city of Kilkenny having problems in this regard. For almost all of those intending to return to work affordable child care is a critical issue. The experience of this engagement process is feeding into the development of our approach to working with lone parents and qualified adults to support them into education, training and employment.

Dinny McGinley

Ceist:

138 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if her attention has been drawn to the difficulties caused to an organisation (details supplied) in County Donegal by the withdrawal of funding; if she will have this case re-assessed with a view to reinstating funding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32688/08]

I am committed to supporting families and value the role that the Family Resource Centres play in communities all over the country. Funding from the Family Support Agency helps with staffing and equipping these centres. By the end of 2007, the number of Family Resource Centres had expanded from an original 10 to 106 nationwide. The funding for the Programme increased from €317,000 in 1994 to nearly €19 million in 2007.

In the context of the National Development Plan, it was intended to expand the number of Family Resource Centres by up to 6 centres this year and to provide some existing ones with additional staff. The organisation referred to by the Deputy was one of the projects in line for inclusion in the Family Resource Centre Programme. However, as part of the Government's collective approach to controlling short-term expenditure in the interests of Ireland's future prosperity, with the exception of a new centre in Killeshandra that was approved earlier this year, no new Family Resource Centres will open in 2008. It will also not be possible to increase the staffing complement of the existing centres. Government support for family services will however remain strong. Last year, additional staff were funded for 40 Family Resource Centres. It should also be noted that in June I approved counselling grants of almost €11 million to 600 voluntary and community groups supporting families nationwide.

Social Welfare Code.

Catherine Byrne

Ceist:

139 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will remove the six month rule for qualifying for training and education schemes when in receipt of jobseekers payments, in order to encourage people back into the workforce, particularly those who do not want to be dependent on social welfare for longer than necessary; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32701/08]

I understand that the Deputy is referring to the back to education allowance scheme (BTEA) administered by the Department. This scheme is designed to encourage people on certain social welfare payments to improve their skills and qualifications and, therefore, their prospects of returning to the active work force. It enables qualified people who have been getting a social welfare payment to continue to receive a payment while pursuing an approved full-time education course.

There are two strands to the scheme, a second level option (SLO) and a third level option (TLO). To qualify for participation in either strand an applicant must be in receipt of a relevant social welfare payment and must be at least 21 years of age prior to commencing an approved full time course of study. A person must have been in receipt of a social welfare payment immediately prior to commencing an approved course of study for at least six months (156 days) for a second level option course and 12 months (312 days) for a third level option course. The twelve month requirement is reduced to nine months for people participating in the National Employment Action Plan (NEAP).

The requirement to be in receipt of a relevant social welfare payment for a minimum period has always been a feature of the BTEA scheme because the purpose of the scheme is to assist people who are at risk of becoming dependent on the social welfare system on a long term basis. People who have been unemployed for a short time are not the main focus of the scheme and it was never intended to be a support for people in general who are pursuing full time education courses. It is recognised that early intervention is appropriate but an unemployed person needs time to explore alternative employment and training opportunities before opting for BTEA. The current duration parameters are considered reasonable for this purpose. The operation of the scheme will continue to be monitored but I believe that the current arrangements are optimal in terms of meeting the objectives of the scheme and targeting limited resources at those who are most in need.

Social Insurance.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

140 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reason the PPS number of a person, now deceased, was not furnished to the solicitors acting on behalf of persons (details supplied) in County Mayo. [32710/08]

The Department has no record of this request. If the solicitors' details or any copy of the correspondence is furnished to Client Identity Services, the request will be dealt with promptly.

Data Protection.

Damien English

Ceist:

141 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she is satisfied that all customers whose personal and payment information that was on the reported stolen laptop computers have been identified, contacted and informed of this incident; the number of calls that were received by her Department’s free phone number on this matter; the number of emails received; the number of letters received; the security measures taken by her to ensure data protection of her Department’s customers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32728/08]

The laptop belonging to the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) was reported missing in April 2007. On 1st of August, 2008 some 16 months after the laptop went missing, the Office of theC&AG informed the Department that the missing laptop contained a number of files used in connection with the audit of the Social Insurance Fund for 2004 and 2005. These files contained some 374,000 individual personal customer records.

On being notified of the contents of the laptop on 1 August, 2008, the Department immediately put a range of measures in place to identify the customers involved and to confirm if they were currently in receipt of a payment. This involved doing data matching exercises to identify and exclude deceased customers and to confirm the current address and payment arrangements for the remaining 340,318 customers. The necessary software development and production arrangements were put in place to issue a personalised letter to each of these customers.

One of the Department's primary concerns was to minimise the anxiety that publication of the fact that one of the missing C&AG laptops contained personal social welfare customer data, was likely to cause to its customers, particularly pensioners. The Department put in place a dedicated free-phone help-line, email service and post office box number to provide further clarification and advice to customers. To date, some 16,500 calls have been made to the special helpline number, 161 e/mails have been received and responded to, and some 750 letters have been received and are being dealt with. Of the letters issued, some 2,300 letters have been returned to the Department and are being processed as a matter of priority.

The Department has been engaged in a programme of continuous development and deployment of measures to enhance data security. Since this incident came to light, the Department has further reviewed and enhanced its protocols in relation to the transfer of data to third parties, including the Office of the C&AG. All bulk data is now transferred in an encrypted format, in accordance with the Department's ‘External Party Electronic Data Transfer Policy'.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Damien English

Ceist:

142 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the average waiting time in County Meath for an application of jobseekers allowance from date of application to receipt of benefit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32730/08]

Damien English

Ceist:

143 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the average waiting time in County Meath for an application of jobseekers benefit from date of application to receipt of benefit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32731/08]

I propose to take questions number 142 and 143 together.

The Department is committed to providing a quality customer service to all its customers. This includes ensuring that applications are processed and that decisions on entitlement are issued as expeditiously as possible having regard to the eligibility conditions which apply. These conditions vary between the two jobseeker schemes and involve, among other things, the need to establish the person's social insurance record, establish the person's identity or their place of habitual residence and to assess means where appropriate. In some cases delays arise where the person fails to supply all pertinent information in support of their application.

The average processing time in weeks for claims for jobseekers allowance (JA) and jobseekers benefit (JB) in offices in Co. Meath., are set out in the following table.

Office

Parent Office

JA

JB

Navan

Navan

14

5

Kells

Navan

11

9

Trim

Navan

15

9

Social Welfare Code.

Damien English

Ceist:

144 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she has plans to increase the payment for each dependent child under the widow’s and widower’s contributory pension scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32736/08]

Improvements in the rate of the qualified child increase for the widow's and widower's contributory pension scheme and other schemes will be considered in a Budgetary context.

Arthur Morgan

Ceist:

145 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the cost of increasing all personal basic rates of social welfare at present set at €197.80 to €225. [32748/08]

Arthur Morgan

Ceist:

146 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the cost of increasing the qualified adult allowance to €157.50. [32749/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 145 and 146 together.

The cost of increasing the lowest rate of payment from €197.80 to €225 per week is €818 million in a full year. The cost of increasing the increase for a qualified adult (for all lowest rates of payment) from €131.30 to €157.50 per week is €97.5 million in a full year.

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

147 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will extend the number of hours a carer can work; if she will remove the cap of 15 hours per week; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32928/08]

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

148 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will extend the number of hours a carer can spend on training courses per week; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32929/08]

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

149 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs her views on whether carers should be eligible to participate in community employment schemes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32930/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 147 to 149, inclusive, together.

Supporting and recognising carers in our society is, and has been, a priority of the Government since 1997. Over that period, weekly payment rates to carers have been greatly increased, qualifying conditions for carer's allowance have been significantly eased, coverage of the scheme has been extended and new schemes such as carer's benefit and the respite care grant have been introduced and extended. One of the fundamental qualifying conditions for carer's allowance, carer's benefit and the respite care grant is that the person be providing full-time care and attention to a person who needs such care.

Since the introduction of the carer's allowance scheme this full time care and attention requirement has been eased in order to facilitate carers in engaging in employment, education or training. The number of hours a person may engage in employment, self employment, training or education outside the home and still be considered to be providing full-time care and attention was increased from 10 to 15 hours per week in June 2006.

Participation on a community employment scheme involves a placement of 39 hours per fortnight and so carer's payments are not payable to people engaged on community employment schemes. There are no plans to increase the number of hours for which people can engage in employment, education or training outside the home and still be eligible for carer's payments from the Department.

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

150 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will change the means test for eligibility for carer’s allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32931/08]

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

151 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will increase the carer’s allowance or benefit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32932/08]

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

152 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will introduce a needs assessment for family carers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [32933/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 150 to 152, inclusive, together.

Supporting and recognising carers in our society is, and has been, a priority of the Government since 1997. Over that period, weekly payment rates to carers have greatly increased, qualifying conditions for carer's allowance have significantly eased, coverage of the scheme has been extended and new schemes such as carer's benefit and the respite care grant have been introduced and extended. Carer's allowance, in line with other social assistance schemes, is means tested. This ensures scarce resources are directed at those in greatest need. The primary objective of the carer's allowance is to provide income support to low income carers. The carer's allowance means test is one of the more flexible tests in terms of the assessment of household incomes. It has been significantly eased over the years, most notably with regard to spouse's earnings.

Increases to the carer's allowance income disregard provided for in Budget 2008 mean that, since April, a single person can have an income of €332.50 per week and a couple can have an income of up to €665 per week and still qualify for the maximum rate of carer's allowance. The previous levels were €320 and €640 per week respectively. This ensures that a couple can have an income in the region of €37,200 per year and still qualify for the maximum rate of carer's allowance as well as the associated free travel, household benefits package and the respite care grant. This increase surpasses the "Towards 2016" commitment to ensuring that those on average earnings can qualify for carer's allowance.

Rates of carer's allowance for those caring for one person were increased to €214 per week for those aged under 66 and to €232 per week for those aged over 66 from January 2008. Where people are caring for more than one person they receive a higher rate of payment. People aged under 66 who are eligible for the maximum rate of carer's allowance and who are caring for more than one person receive €321 per week. People aged 66 or over in that situation receive €348 per week.

Budget 2007 provided for new arrangements whereby people can receive a maximum payment equivalent to a half rate carers allowance while receiving another social welfare payment, other than jobseekers benefit or allowance. To date over 13,000 carers have benefited from these arrangements. In June 2006 the number of hours for which a person could engage in employment, self-employment, education or training and still be considered to be providing full time care for the purposes of carer's allowance, carer's benefit and the respite care grant was increased from 10 to 15 hours per week.

From June 2005, the annual respite care grant was extended to all carers, providing full time care, regardless of their income. A carer who is caring for two or more people is entitled to a full grant for each of the care recipients. The rate of the grant increased to €1,700 per year from June 2008. A needs assessment for carers is one of the many issues being considered as part of the National Carers' Strategy which is currently being developed by an inter-departmental working group.

Decentralisation Programme.

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

153 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the progress to date of decentralisation to Drogheda, including the progress in relation to sites selected; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33375/08]

Under the current decentralisation programme, the Department's Head Quarters, Social Welfare Appeals Office, Information and Communications Technology Division are designated to relocate to Drogheda. In addition, the Citizens Information Board is also scheduled to relocate to Drogheda. According to figures received from the Central Application Facility (CAF), through which all applications for decentralisation must be submitted, 565 applicants have recorded this Department's Drogheda Office as their first preference. To date, 188 applicants have accepted offers of relocation with this Department to Drogheda. In addition, some 19 employees of the Citizens Information Board have relocation clauses included in their contracts.

The Office of Public Works has purchased a parcel of lands from Drogheda Borough Council in connection with the decentralisation of this Department to Drogheda. It is intended that the accommodation will be procured by Public Private Partnership (PPP), the procurement process to be conducted by the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA). In that regard, accommodation requirements were being assessed and the matter of bringing the Project to the point of procurement were being progressed within the Office of Public Works. The Government, on 8th July last, decided that further expenditure on the acquisition of accommodation for decentralisation (including Drogheda) would be paused pending the detailed consideration by the Government of reports from the Decentralisation Implementation Group and the Implementation Group of Secretaries General. I expect that such consideration by the Government will take place in the near future.

Defence Forces Allowances.

Joe Costello

Ceist:

154 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Defence the number of soldiers who still receive a Border allowance; the reason this allowance is paid; the amount of money paid annually under this heading; the way in which he will respond to the comments of the Comptroller and Auditor General; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32965/08]

Border Allowance was introduced in 1972 for personnel engaged on duties in Border Units. The duties of the personnel involved was of a most arduous and responsible nature involving service far in excess of normal duty hours. The accommodation and the amenities at the time were below standard and the personnel who were deployed from their permanent stations on a temporary basis to Border Units suffered considerable disruption to family life.

At the end of August 2008 there were 64 officers and 999 other ranks in receipt of Border Allowance. The total amount of Border Allowance paid in 2007 was €5,378,888.00. To-date in 2008 €3,674,556.00 has been paid out in Border Allowance. It should be noted as stated in the Comptroller and Auditor General's Report that those in receipt of Border Duty Allowance do not receive the security duty allowance which is payable to Defence Force personnel when engaged in specific security duties. The removal of the Border Duty Allowance therefore would be partly offset by the payment of security duty allowance where appropriate.

I am satisfied that the conditions that led to the introduction of Border Duty Allowance no longer exist. However, changes in pay and conditions have to be addressed through the Conciliation and Arbitration machinery. This position was addressed by the inclusion of a review of Border Duty Allowance in the Defence Forces Modernisation Agenda, agreed under "Towards 2016" with the Representative Associations. The review with the Associations is progressing. It is intended that implementation of changes agreed through the review will begin during the lifetime of the "Towards 2016" agreement. As discussions between the Department and the Representative Associations are confidential to the parties involved it would not be appropriate to comment further on this aspect of the issue.

National Spatial Strategy.

Olwyn Enright

Ceist:

155 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the way the gateway innovation fund will be allocated; the way it is proposed to evaluate same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32763/08]

I refer to the reply to Question No. 327 of 9 July 2008. Decisions on the projects to be approved under the Gateway Innovation Fund, and the timing of any such approvals, will be subject to the overall capital funding position to be determined as part of the estimates process.

Planning Issues.

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

156 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that heritage trees listed for preservation in the Drogheda development plan and cut down by a developer had no protection due to the failure of the local authority to implement tree protection orders; his views on such a failure; if he will communicate this concern to the local authority concerned; his further views on putting in place regulations controlling the removal of heritage trees identified in development plans but for which no TPO’s have been put in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32687/08]

I am aware of the case referred to in the Question. The making of a Tree Preservation Order, in exercise of the powers provided under section 205 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, is a matter for the relevant planning authority. I have no function in the matter. However, my Department will shortly write to planning authorities again bringing to their attention Tree Preservation Guidelines issued by the Department and requesting them to take all necessary action, including the making of Tree Preservation Orders, to ensure that the important amenity value of trees is protected and enhanced wherever possible.

Under the Planning and Development Act 2000, planning authorities may include objectives in a development plan for the preservation and protection of trees. The inclusion of such an objective conveys a policy intention and, to be effective, it should be implemented by means of Tree Preservation Orders. In serving and publishing notice of its intention to make such an Order, a planning authority must attach a map to such notice indicating the tree, trees, group of trees or woodland to be preserved. Without such a site specific map, there is no meaningful way of identifying which, out of potentially many trees on a major site, should be classified as being of "heritage" value and to be protected accordingly. Therefore, I do not consider that a general regulatory provision controlling the removal of "heritage" trees prior to the making of a specific Tree Preservation Order would be useful or enforceable.

National Monuments.

Ulick Burke

Ceist:

157 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans for the retention and protection of the Turoe Stone at its present location in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32700/08]

In May 2008 my Department received a further report on the condition of the Turoe Stone commissioned by the Office of Public Works (OPW) from one of the country's foremost stone conservation experts. The report re-emphasised the continuing threat to the integrity of the Stone, arising from the unsatisfactory nature of the current conditions in which it is kept. The Department had previously proposed an alternative location for this national monument in the Galway City Museum but this proposal met with considerable local opposition in the area where the Stone is currently located. In the circumstances a number of interim, possible alternative locations in County Galway were inspected by my Department and OPW. However, none of these were found to meet the conditions necessary to protect the integrity of the Stone into the future.

The most recent report on the Stone's condition and the outcome of the site inspections were relayed to Galway City and County Councils and the Director of the National Museum in May 2008. My Department's letter to the County Council indicated that we are prepared to consider the future arrangements for the conservation and curation of the Turoe Stone in the context of any plans or proposals the Council might have for the provision of a premises which would provide for a permanent suitable location within the County. A response from the local authority is awaited.

In the absence of any such proposals, my Department is of the view that there may be no alternative but to revisit the original proposals for the relocation of the Stone to the Galway City Museum and its replacement by a high quality replica at Turoe, subject to a review of these arrangements should proposals for the provision of a suitable premises in County Galway emerge at some time in the future. However, before any final decision is taken, I intend to consult further with the Galway local authorities and with community representatives in the area where the Stone is currently located.

Proposed Legislation.

Andrew Doyle

Ceist:

158 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if the proposed Animal Welfare Bill due to be published will incorporate the proposed regulations governing the control of dog breeding establishments; and the reason a simple single temporary regulation could not be published to close down abusive puppy farms on the grounds of animal cruelty and welfare as in farm animal welfare while the entire issue of management of dog breeding establishments is being reviewed. [32704/08]

Animal welfare issues are a matter for my colleague the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. I understand that he is preparing an Animal Health and Welfare Bill at present. Work is underway in my Department in drafting measures to implement the majority recommendations of the Working Group to review the Management of Dog Breeding Establishments. The issues involved are quite complex and have required detailed consideration. My Department has also been engaged in consultation with relevant stakeholders. It is my intention to advance this matter as quickly as possible.

Special Areas of Conservation.

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

159 Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if, in relation to the proposed special area of conservation for Wexford Harbour, regard was given to the submissions received and the public meetings which were held in Wexford regarding the proposed boundaries of the SAC; if a decision has been made in relation to the boundaries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32706/08]

My Department is engaged in a nationwide roll-out of Special Protection Areas in accordance with the EU Birds Directive. The exercise includes redesignation of SPA sites some of which, like Wexford Harbour, were first designated ten years ago. This work is particularly required as part of Ireland's response to an adverse judgment by the European Court of Justice against Ireland in December 2007.

In November 2007, my Department proposed three sites in County Wexford for designation as SPAs, one being Wexford Harbour and Slobs. While these are not new designations the boundaries have been extended in some areas. Landowners, and others identified by my Department's National Parks and Wildlife Service, as having land or holding rights or licences in SPAs were notified directly in writing. They were provided with a site map and description, list of activities that may damage the site, procedures for objecting to the designation proposal and details of compensation provisions. Objections on scientific grounds to these proposals could be submitted within three months from the date of their publication and appeals are being processed at the moment. My Department continues to be in dialogue with representative groupings. However, I have not as yet made any decisions as to changes in the proposed boundaries.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

Sean Sherlock

Ceist:

160 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the breakdown of the figures for methane produced here and released into the atmosphere from agricultural production, industrial production and from landfill activity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32717/08]

The Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for the preparation of annual inventories of greenhouse gas emissions to meet the reporting requirements of both the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the European Union. The Agency publishes a National Inventory Report each year on foot of these requirements. The most recent report published by the Agency shows that methane emissions in 2006 are at a similar level to 1990, having fallen significantly since their peak in 1998. The following is a breakdown of methane emissions in 2006:

Agriculture Gg CH4

Waste Gg CH4

Industrial Gg CH4

Other Sectors Gg CH4

TotalGg CH4

Total Gg CO2 e

542

81

1

9

633

13,287

Further information on methane and other greenhouse gas emissions is available on the website of the EPA at www.epa.ie

Waste Disposal.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

161 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that an industry based proposal in the jewellery and watches sector to meet the obligations under the recycling regulations has not been approved; the perceived defects in the proposal by the industry; his estimate of the extra compliance costs that would be imposed on the industry by requiring an alternative external system to meet the obligations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32718/08]

European Parliament and Council Directive 2002/96/EC on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) as amended by European Parliament and Council Directive 2003/108/EC of 8 December 2003 was transposed into Irish Law on 5 July 2005 by the Waste Management (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Regulations 2005. The WEEE take back scheme, which came into effect on 13 August 2005, has been a remarkable success. 37,812 tonnes of household WEEE was collected during 2007, a 20% increase over the 2006 collection rate. This represents approximately 6.7 million electrical and electronic products or 8.7kg per inhabitant. This is over double the 4 Kgs target the WEEE Directive requires Ireland to achieve by the end of 2008 and indicates widespread public support for the scheme.

Implementation of the Directive involved the establishment in 2005, by producers, of three new structures: two compliance schemes to fund the recovery of the waste equipment — WEEE Ireland Ltd. and the European Recycling Platform (ERP), who are responsible for the recycling of all household WEEE deposited at designated collection points including civic amenity facilities and retail outlets and ensuring that recovered WEEE is recycled in an environmentally sound manner, and for putting in place tracking and auditing systems for materials recovery in line with the requirements of the Directive, and an independent National Producer Registration body — WEEE Register — whose job it is to register all producers of electronic and electrical equipment, determine market share, and approve visible Environmental Management Costs (EMCs) where these are displayed by producers.

To avail of synergies with the implementation of the European Parliament and Council Directive 2006/66/EC on batteries and accumulators and waste batteries and accumulators, the Waste Management (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Regulations were recently amended, following consultation through the WEEE Monitoring Group, by the Waste Management (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) (Amendment) Regulations 2008. Numerous representative bodies, including the Irish Jewellers Association, were invited to submit comments to my Department on these regulations before they were made. These new regulations do not impose any significant constraints on industries in their efforts to maintain compliance — on the contrary they will help streamline the compliance process.

Whereas the WEEE Regulations do not require an alternative external system to enable producers and/or distributors fulfil their obligation, they do contain enabling provisions to allow producer groups to apply for approval to establish collective compliance schemes. Producers, however, will not establish additional bodies to aid compliance unless it will bring cost savings. No application from any group representing the jewellery and watches sector has been received by my Department; however my Department is prepared, if requested, to meet with representatives of this and other sectors.

Damien English

Ceist:

162 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the local authorities that have provided a farm plastic collection and drop service in 2008; the local authorities that have not provided such a service or do not intend to provide such a service in 2008; the reason such a service was not or will not be offered in 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32725/08]

Damien English

Ceist:

163 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans to extend the farm plastic collection scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32726/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 162 and 163 together.

A successful Producer Responsibility Initiative has been in operation since mid 1997 in relation to farm film/silage bale wrap. Producers — i.e. manufacturers and importers of farm film/bale wrap — pay a levy of €127 per tonne of farm plastic placed on the market to a compliance scheme, the Irish Farm Films Producers Group (IFFPG), who in turn are required to meet targets for the recovery and recycling of farm plastics. IFFPG estimate that over 80,000 tonnes of farm plastics were collected for recycling since its inception in mid 1997.

In the period up to 2005, demand for the service provided by IFFPG grew to exceed the capacity of the scheme. Consideration was given by my Department in early 2006, in consultation with various stakeholders including farming organisations, to various mechanisms to address the need to ensure that sufficient resources were available to the scheme to meet future demand for collections while at the same time dealing fairly with accumulations of farm plastics on farms across the country. Following these consultations, my predecessor announced in May 2006 that IFFPG could derive an additional income from weight-based collection charges. This was aimed at improving the operational efficiency of the scheme by incentivising the presentation of clean, dry plastic by farmers. The effect of the introduction of a charge has been to ensure that supply of collections of farm plastics to farmers can match demand on an ongoing basis and to improve the quality of the material being collected. In addition, IFFPG have also introduced a labelling system to improve traceability of levied plastic which in turn will support compliance with the Waste Management (Farm Plastics) Regulations 2001.

To address the issue of accumulated backlogs of farm plastic on farms in 2005, designated facilities were provided on a temporary basis by local authorities where farmers could deposit stockpiled farm plastic free of charge. These once-off free collections allowed farmers the opportunity to deposit any accumulated plastic purchased under the terms of the original scheme, which was based upon free farm-to-farm collections. In total, some 35,000 tonnes of materials were collected at these temporary facilities over the period 2006 to 2007.

The operation of temporary bring facilities has proved popular with farmers and earlier this year, in consultation with the Irish Farmers' Association, the IFFPG developed a calendar of some 130 collections nationwide where farmers could deposit bale wrap and silage wrap. These collections have now commenced, will run through to the autumn and are based on weight-based charges. Farmers who produce the aforesaid labels indicating that levied plastic is being presented for recycling will avail of a substantially reduced collection fee by virtue of the fact that the producer levy is being used to subsidise all legitimately declared farm plastic.

Farmyard collections are still available from IFFPG but as they are more expensive to operate, they involve a higher charge. Information on the dates, locations and fees for collections are available on IFFPG's website, www.farmplastics.ie. In summary, very few local authorities provided a drop service in spring 2008. This was a once off solution to the problems outlined above and there are no plans to extend the scheme further.

Housing Aid for the Elderly.

Ned O'Keeffe

Ceist:

164 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if grant aid is available from his Department for the installation of equipment by a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [32751/08]

The Scheme of Housing Aid for Older People is available to assist older people, generally over 60 years, to have necessary repairs or improvements carried out to their homes. Where a suite of works is being grant aided under this scheme, local authorities may also, as part of the package of works, assist with the provision of radon remediation works, where applicable. There is no other scheme of grant assistance that exclusively targets remediation works in private dwellings with radon levels that exceed the National Reference Level. The Government's approach, which is similar to that of the majority of EU member states, is instead to concentrate efforts on increasing public awareness of the risks posed by radon in the home.

The Building Regulations require all new buildings, including new houses, built since 1st July 1998 to incorporate radon protection measures at the time of construction. This includes the fitting of an inactive radon sump, which can be activated at a later stage to reduce radon concentrations if this is found to be necessary.

Local Authority Funding.

Olwyn Enright

Ceist:

165 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when the local government fund will be advised to the local authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32764/08]

Local Government Fund general purpose grants, which are financed from the proceeds of motor tax and an Exchequer contribution, will be notified to local authorities in the coming weeks.

Local Authority Housing.

Olwyn Enright

Ceist:

166 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when permission will be given to a housing association and Offaly County Council to purchase a property (details supplied) in County Offaly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32765/08]

An application for post-tender approval in respect of this project, costing an estimated €181,724, was received in my Department in June 2008. A decision will be made as soon as possible.

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

167 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position of the application by Westmeath County Council to his Department for the required funding under the remedial works scheme in respect of the rebuilding and refurbishment of houses in an estate (details supplied) in County Westmeath; if his Department has considered the additional information provided by the council in response to his Department’s request at the end of May 2008; when the budget costs for this phase will be approved for this scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32824/08]

In May, 2005 my Department approved a pilot remedial works scheme for 10 units in Ennel Court. The pilot phase was completed in May, 2007 after which the local authority reviewed its position and submitted new proposals for a scheme encompassing the whole estate. A number of issues were raised with the local authority at this stage, including public procurement compliance issues, and the Council undertook to revise its proposals. These have recently been received by my Department and are currently under consideration.

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

168 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when a decision will be made in relation to an application by Westmeath County Council for finance to enable a remedial works scheme to proceed in an estate (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32825/08]

My Department has received proposals from Westmeath County Council for a remedial works scheme at Dalton Park Estate. This proposal is being considered for funding under the 2008 Call for Proposals for Remedial Works. A decision on this proposal will be taken in the context of the examination of all proposals received by the 31 October 2008 closing date for applications.

Dan Neville

Ceist:

169 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when moneys allocated to a group (details supplied) in County Limerick will be awarded to Limerick County Council for the purchase of a rural bungalow in Feenagh. [32874/08]

A revised application for approval in respect of this project, costing an estimated €178,000, was received in my Department in June 2008. A decision will be made as soon as possible.

Rental Accommodation Scheme.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

170 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if up-front payments are currently being made to developers under the rental accommodation leasing scheme; the guidelines that are in place in relation to up-front payments under this scheme; the cost to the Exchequer of up-front payments to date in 2008; the controls that are in place to ensure that the State secures a return on this funding; the controls that are in place to ensure that funds used for up-front payments under such an arrangement do not adversely affect other social housing funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32888/08]

Up front payments in the form of a deposit, usually of one month's rent, are a standard element in the leasing of private rented properties, including under the Rental Accommodation Scheme. In addition, the Affordable Homes Partnership is currently undertaking the procurement of a Public Private Partnership for the leasing of private rented property in the Dublin region which is based on the combination of an up-front grant and a monthly rental payment. The procurement exercise is still underway and no properties have been secured or no payments made as yet.

It is a matter for individual local authorities in the first instance, subject to compliance with public procurement rules and having regard to the Capital Appraisal Guidelines of the Department of Finance, to seek to obtain the best value for money possible in the procurement of properties in current market conditions. My Department is open to considering proposals for securing leased properties for social housing that involve a combination of up-front and regular rental payments. At this point, however, the Department is not aware of any procurement of leased properties from developers where up-front payments, other than normal deposits, have been made.

As part of the process of agreeing the annual social housing investment programme, my Department meets with each housing authority to review its Housing Action Plan for the year. As part of this process objectives and output targets are set, including for the number of leased units to be provided in the year, and a budget agreed accordingly. The programme is then reviewed later in the year to assess progress and to make any necessary adjustments.

Water and Sewerage Schemes.

Ulick Burke

Ceist:

171 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the funding that has been allocated for the upgrade of the Gort water treatment plant and the Gort regional water scheme; if money has been allocated for the Gort sewerage scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32894/08]

The Gort Regional Water Supply Scheme, including the treatment plant, is included in my Department's Water Services Investment Programme 2007-2009 as a scheme to start construction in 2009 at an estimated cost of €35.1m. My Department is awaiting Galway County Council's Design Review Report for the scheme.

The Gort Sewerage Scheme was fourteenth on the list of sewerage schemes submitted to my Department by Galway County Council in its most recent assessment of needs for water services capital works. The assessment was taken into account in framing the Water Services Investment Programme 2007-2009. Given the level of competing demands for available funding, and the priorities identified by the elected members of Galway County Council, it was not possible to include the Gort scheme in the current Programme. Funding for water and sewerage facilities, which are now completed, for new housing in Gort was provided by my Department under the Serviced Land Initiative.

Ulick Burke

Ceist:

172 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the status of the Craughwell, County Galway sewerage scheme; if the proposed scheme includes the area where the local primary school is situated which caters for approximately 200 children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32895/08]

The Craughwell Sewerage Scheme is being funded under my Department's Water Services Investment Programme 2007-2009. Further consideration will be given by my Department to Galway County Council's Contract Documents for the collection networks for Craughwell, Claregalway and Milltown, which are being combined for procurement purposes, on receipt of additional information requested from the Council. The Council's combined tender documents for the treatment plants for these three schemes, and for Carraroe, are awaited by my Department. Detailed information on the areas to be serviced by the Craughwell scheme may be sought from Galway County Council.

Ulick Burke

Ceist:

173 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if funding has been allocated by his Department for a sewerage scheme in Eyrecourt, County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32896/08]

The Eyrecourt Sewerage Scheme is being funded under my Department's Water Services Investment Programme 2007-2009 at an estimated cost of €4.9 million. My Department has requested Galway County Council to review its Preliminary Report for the scheme and the Council's response will be examined as quickly as possible on receipt.

Ulick Burke

Ceist:

174 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if funding has been granted for the provision of a sewerage treatment plant in Woodford, County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32897/08]

The Woodford Sewerage Scheme was eighth on the list of sewerage schemes submitted to my Department by Galway County Council in its most recent assessment of needs for water services capital works. The assessment was taken into account in framing the Water Services Investment Programme 2007-2009. Given the level of competing demands for available funding, and the priorities identified by the elected members of Galway County Council, it was not possible to include the Woodford scheme in the current Programme.

Ulick Burke

Ceist:

175 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding the request for funding for the Athenry, County Galway sewerage scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32898/08]

The Athenry Sewerage Scheme has been approved for funding under my Department's Water Services Investment Programme 2007-2009 at an estimated cost of €11.6 million. Galway County Council's Design Review Report for the scheme, received last week, is being examined in my Department.

Special Amenity Areas.

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

176 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the progress on putting in place a new area of special amenity in a location (details supplied) in County Dublin; the position regarding discussions with South Dublin County Council on this project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32920/08]

On 10 September 2008 I requested the Manager of South Dublin County Council to arrange, as a matter of urgency, for an evaluation to be carried out of lands between Palmerstown and Lucan Bridge, the existing area of Special Amenity and the N4/Old Lucan Road/Old Hill Road, in order to assess the suitability of some or all of these lands to be designated as a new area of special amenity, having regard to the provisions of section 202 of the Planning and Development Act 2000.

Waste Management.

David Stanton

Ceist:

177 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 1498 and 1499 of 24 September 2008, the previous guidance which was issued to local authorities in relation to the national strategy on biodegradable waste prior to the circular issued by his Department in July 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32976/08]

EU Directive 1999/31/EC required member states to put in place national strategies to address the issue of biodegradable waste. Ireland published its national strategy in draft form in 2004 and my Department wrote to all local authorities on 7 April 2004 inviting submissions in relation to the draft strategy. On 11 June 2004, all local authorities were asked to ensure that the implications of the draft Strategy were taken into account in the review of Waste Management Plans, particularly in relation to the roll out of segregated collection of household dry recyclables and organic wastes and the provision of associated materials recovery/biological treatment infrastructure.

Following extensive consultation, the National Strategy on Biodegradable Waste was published in April 2006. The Programme for Government contains a commitment to its implementation which aims to divert 80% of biodegradable waste from landfill through segregated collection of biodegradable waste and the generation of compost. At the end of July 2008 my Department wrote to all local authorities outlining the arrangements for a national roll-out of source-segregated collection systems for biodegradable waste. I have also indicated my intention to introduce primary legislation to allow significant increases to be made to the landfill levy and consultants have been engaged to carry out a Regulatory Impact Analysis which is currently underway.

My Department in addition, is working with industry regarding the development of a Statutory Instrument for the segregation of commercial biodegradable waste. I am confident that these measures will contribute significantly to the attainment of the targets for the diversion of biodegradable waste from landfill.

Natural Heritage Areas.

Joanna Tuffy

Ceist:

178 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the location of proposed natural heritage areas, special areas of conservation and special protection areas; when it will be determined which of these are to be designated as such; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32990/08]

I am arranging to have a schedule of the proposed National Heritage areas, (NHAs) Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs) forwarded to the Deputy. At present my Department is prioritising work on the European SAC and SPA designations. As this process is brought to conclusion over the next year or so I envisage greater attention then being given to the NHA designations.

Local Authority Funding.

Joanna Tuffy

Ceist:

179 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the amount of funding under the local government fund that was paid to each local authority for the years 2007 and 2008 in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32991/08]

The amount of funding paid to local authorities by way of general purpose grant for 2007 and in the period from 1 January to 30 September 2008 is set out in the table. General purpose grants from the Local Government Fund are my contribution to meet the difference between the cost to local authorities of providing an acceptable level of day to day services and the income available to them from local sources and from specific grants. These grants are allocated having regard to a range of factors including the overall funding available for the grants, the cost to each local authority of providing its services, the income available to each local authority from local sources and specific grants and the need to ensure that each local authority receives a baseline allocation that will provide financial stability.

Local Government Fund General Purpose Grants Paid 2007 & to 30 September 2008

Local Authority

2007

To 30 Sep 2008

Carlow County Council

12,536,458

12,118,106

Cavan County Council

19,526,749

19,035,148

Clare County Council

15,672,190

15,158,443

Cork County Council

54,809,504

52,779,064

Donegal County Council

41,556,957

40,569,964

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council

39,451,937

37,960,733

Fingal County Council

32,231,264

31,055,521

Galway County Council

38,490,666

37,381,501

Kerry County Council

27,600,743

26,808,396

Kildare County Council

26,476,801

25,922,713

Kilkenny County Council

20,827,594

20,260,165

Laois County Council

18,336,335

17,811,936

Leitrim County Council

15,465,369

15,026,034

Limerick County Council

26,101,406

25,284,581

Longford County Council

14,657,063

14,281,146

Louth County Council

13,390,136

12,945,283

Mayo County Council

38,012,273

37,036,694

Meath County Council

28,583,173

27,873,841

Monaghan County Council

15,718,151

15,282,055

North Tipperary County Council

19,357,349

18,842,804

Offaly County Council

16,230,539

15,845,028

Roscommon County Council

22,198,317

21,443,644

Sligo County Council

17,723,150

17,233,139

South Dublin County Council

26,194,505

25,204,557

South Tipperary County Council

23,696,915

23,057,146

Waterford County Council

22,848,496

22,318,550

Westmeath County Council

21,387,695

20,894,833

Wexford County Council

22,172,296

21,551,627

Wicklow County Council

20,311,251

20,216,823

Cork City Council

26,892,180

26,113,059

Dublin City Council

100,310,537

96,636,581

Galway City Council

9,357,649

9,012,287

Limerick City Council

11,721,449

11,277,948

Waterford City Council

8,537,496

8,226,595

Clonmel Borough Council

3,454,446

3,349,229

Drogheda Borough Council

4,947,336

4,775,865

Kilkenny Borough Council

2,001,672

1,930,116

Sligo Borough Council

3,335,745

3,209,608

Wexford Borough Council

2,467,405

2,397,116

Arklow Town Council

1,706,267

1,656,859

Athlone Town Council

2,032,113

1,956,984

Athy Town Council

777,620

774,777

Ballina Town Council

1,676,625

1,650,277

Ballinasloe Town Council

963,718

934,069

Birr Town Council

846,550

828,971

Bray Town Council

4,778,238

4,615,525

Buncrana Town Council

945,020

1,001,298

Bundoran Town Council

638,050

613,926

Carlow Town Council

1,937,239

1,867,556

Carrickmacross Town Council

628,815

614,110

Carrick-on-Suir Town Council

1,211,246

1,178,375

Cashel Town Council

717,796

695,347

Castlebar Town Council

1,101,201

1,059,582

Castleblaney Town Council

510,858

503,619

Cavan Town Council

912,873

882,688

Clonakilty Town Council

662,163

638,439

Clones Town Council

606,735

590,156

Cobh Town Council

1,327,858

1,279,781

Dundalk Town Council

5,599,979

5,396,257

Dungarvan Town Council

1,101,346

1,059,714

Ennis Town Council

2,583,037

2,511,791

Enniscorthy Town Council

1,310,009

1,261,873

Fermoy Town Council

916,133

888,767

Kells Town Council

527,987

512,228

Killarney Town Council

1,942,242

1,890,789

Kilrush Town Council

675,554

657,262

Kinsale Town Council

445,408

428,591

Letterkenny Town Council

1,249,170

1,201,939

Listowel Town Council

841,180

811,035

Longford Town Council

1,308,623

1,259,161

Macroom Town Council

656,139

639,862

Mallow Town Council

1,175,365

1,149,968

Midleton Town Council

602,134

582,431

Monaghan Town Council

1,256,710

1,209,722

Naas Town Council

1,512,195

1,496,214

Navan Town Council

616,374

593,855

Nenagh Town Council

1,197,754

1,162,518

New Ross Town Council

1,033,315

1,002,042

Skibbereen Town Council

478,655

460,555

Templemore Town Council

688,381

668,787

Thurles Town Council

1,069,192

1,032,989

Tipperary Town Council

917,384

886,713

Tralee Town Council

3,482,699

3,351,079

Trim Town Council

614,994

593,446

Tullamore Town Council

1,402,227

1,352,208

Westport Town Council

911,907

877,438

Wicklow Town Council

1,737,757

1,679,197

Youghal Town Council

1,231,917

1,186,998

Energy Conservation.

Ned O'Keeffe

Ceist:

180 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if grant aid is available from his Department for a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [32750/08]

Supports for improving the energy performance of homes are currently available under two schemes administered by Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI). Individual grant applications are a matter for SEI. For households on low incomes, such as those in receipt of fuel allowance, invalidity or disability benefit, the Warmer Homes Scheme managed by SEI will install cavity wall insulation, attic insulation, a boiler lagging jacket, draught proofing measures and CFLs. Advice is also provided to householders on minimising energy use. These measures are provided free or at a token cost. I have made €5 million available to SEI for this Scheme in 2008.

The Pilot Home Energy Saving Scheme which I launched earlier this year is designed to incentivise householders to undertake energy efficiency improvements. The pilot scheme is being tested in a limited number of areas. This pilot phase, will inform decisions in relation to the wider scheme in line with the commitment in the Programme for Government, subject to overall budgetary considerations.

Electricity Generation.

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

181 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the projected amount and monetary value of electricity that is expected to be exported over the proposed east-west interconnector in the first ten years by way of its operation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32910/08]

The East West Interconnector will be operational by 2012 and will have a capacity of 500MW. The interconnector will, as a national strategic asset, remain in public ownership and will be owned and operated by EirGrid. The advantages that the development of the East West Interconnector will bring include, improved security of supply; increased competition in the single electricity market; and environmental benefits including:

The increased ability to accommodate wind generated energy and the potential to export surplus wind-generated electricity.

Assisting in achieving our ambitious renewable targets.

The reduction in the need for a carrying reserve. This reserve, which is a back-up for times of low wind generation, would otherwise need to be provided from fossil fuel plants, which would be at a higher cost than can be provided by the interconnector, and

The reduction in expected carbon credit payments.

It is anticipated that the initial flows from the interconnector will be predominantly from the UK to Ireland. However, this has the potential to change as the share of renewable electricity on our grid increases. EirGrid will shortly publish their Grid Development Strategy to 2025, which will outline the various strategic options for the development of Irish electricity networks out to 2025. I understand that this will look at various alternative dispatch scenarios, including those with high wind penetration and high export potential.

The East West Interconnector will play a critical role in these scenarios. However, it would be premature to provide estimates at this early stage as to the amount of electricity that may be exported in the first ten years of the interconnector's operation or the value of such exports.

Employment Rights.

Joe Costello

Ceist:

182 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the ship employed by Shell Ireland to lay the pipeline for the Corrib gas field is operating under a Panamanian flag of convenience and that it refuses to pay its staff the minimum wage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32964/08]

As Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources I have no statutory function in this matter. I understand that the payment of wages on foreign flagged ships is a matter for the flag state where the ship is registered and for the internal domestic laws of that country.

Foreshore Licences.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

183 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will support a matter (details supplied). [32988/08]

The primary concern of my Department in assessing applications of this nature for foreshore consents are the protection and sustainable development of the foreshore. Decisions on applications are made following comprehensive expert advice from a range of consultees including the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. This approach is of general application.

Seafood Imports.

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

184 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will provide a list detailing the origin and nature of seafood imports into Ireland in 2007. [32681/08]

Information requested contained in the following tables.

Irish Fish Imports by Origin for Year 2007

Country

Tonnes

€000

Great Britain

21,783

100,280

Germany

2,457

11,980

Iceland

1,020

7,800

Northern Ireland

2,596

6,067

France

1,214

5,682

Denmark

867

4,512

Netherlands

1,076

3,499

Faroe Islands

339

1,644

Canada

414

2,186

Norway

234

808

Spain

340

937

Thailand

654

2,590

USA

504

2,040

Poland

417

468

Greece

796

528

Greenland

224

821

Chile

96

352

Belgium

134

388

China

84

319

Sweden

57

278

South Africa

330

1,260

Vietnam

149

467

Turkey

90

292

Sub Total

35,875

155,198

Other

10,815

22,094

Total Imports from all Countries

46,696

177,291

Irish Fish Imports by Variety for Year 2007

Variety of Products Imported

Tonnes

€000

Total Freshwater Fish Fresh/Chilled Or Frozen

8,943

28,522

Total Saltwater Fish Fresh/Chilled Excl. Fillets

2,879

11,572

Total Saltwater Frozen Exc. Fillets

1,721

3,108

Total Saltwater Fish Fillets Fresh/Chilled

1,231

5,747

Total Saltwater Fish Fillets Frozen

3,218

16,883

Total Liers And Roes

377

1,627

Total Fish Dried, Salted Or In Brine

435

1,437

Total Fish Smoked

1,010

5,317

Total Fish Prepared Or Preserved

16,744

63,267

Total Crustaceans Fresh/Chilled

2,826

6,776

Total Crustaceans Frozen

3,450

19,293

Total Molluscs Fresh/Chilled

2,097

3,129

Total Molluscs Frozen

387

1,477

Total Shellfish Prepared Or Preserved

1,376

9,128

Total Imports of Seafood in all product forms

46,696

177,291

Data Protection.

John O'Mahony

Ceist:

185 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, further to a previous parliamentary question, the type of data that was stored on the laptop that was reported stolen from his Department; and if the people whose data was stored on these laptops were notified. [32708/08]

Laptops distributed to staff within my Department are used primarily to facilitate secure remote access to the Department's computer network and applications and to assist staff in preparing work related presentations, spreadsheets and documents. While accessing the system remotely, the corporate data continues to be stored in the Department's secure data centre rather than on the laptop.

Regarding the laptops that were reported stolen, the data contained on these laptops was work related presentations, spreadsheets and documents. None of the laptops contained personal information. When a laptop is reported lost or stolen, access by that device to the Department's computer network is immediately suspended and use of the device is blocked. All laptops are protected by use of a user-id and password. In addition, the Department has commenced a programme of encrypting all laptops used by its staff.

Rural Environment Protection Scheme.

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

186 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his views on farmers in receipt of REP scheme and set aside payments being allowed to use their land to grow energy crops. [32714/08]

The growing of energy crops by farmers in the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS) is permitted. The area allowed for the growing of miscanthus or willow in REPS is 25% of the utilizable agricultural area of the holding or 10 hectares, whichever is the greater. Farmers who have declared land as set-aside and are in receipt of set-aside payments receive no additional payment under the EU Energy Crops Premium. However, it is likely that the requirement for obligatory set-aside will be permanently dispensed with as and from 2009. A decision of the EU Agriculture Ministers on this issue, in the context of the CAP health Check, is expected in November.

Fisheries Protection.

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

187 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the period of time Danish vessels have fished off the Irish coast. [32720/08]

The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) is the body responsible for the collection of all data relating to sea-fisheries under national and Community law. I have asked the SFPA to revert directly to the deputy on these matters.

Rural Environment Protection Scheme.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

188 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the number of farmers in County Mayo who are participants in the REP scheme over the past four years; the number who have opted out of the schemes; the number of farmers who have had penalties incurred under each of the schemes during these years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32452/08]

The number of farmers in Co. Mayo active in REPS at the end of each year is set out as follows:

REPS 2

REPS3

REPS 4

2004

4,070

1,331

N/A

2005

2,994

2,696

N/A

2006

1,463

5,285

N/A

2007

740

5,340

36

Statistics are not readily available on the number of farmers who have opted out of the Scheme.

The numbers of farmers in Co. Mayo who have had REPS penalties imposed is set out as follows:

REPS 2

REPS 3

2004

295

42

2005

231

137

2006

104

264

2007

51

243

No penalties were imposed in REPS 4 in 2007, the year the scheme was launched.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

189 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is satisfied that the application of sanctions under the REP scheme in the west region is consistent with the standards applied in other regions in view of the number of inspections, penalties and appeals and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32453/08]

The risk analysis criteria for selection of cases for REPS inspection is laid down in EU Regulations and apply equally to all regions. With minor exceptions cases for inspection are selected centrally based on this criteria by my Department's REPS headquarters based in Wexford. Procedure manuals are provided to all inspectorate staff who follow a standard checklist when they carry out inspections. This helps to ensure that REPS is administered consistently in all regions and that sanctions applied in accordance with the terms and conditions of the REP schemes are applied impartially in all regions. All decisions made by the inspectorate are subject to a local appeals process and, if the farmer is still not satisfied with the decision, it can then be appealed to the independent Agriculture Appeals Office.

Aquaculture Licences.

John Cregan

Ceist:

190 Deputy John Cregan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when an aquaculture licence will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32724/08]

The individual concerned is already the holder of the aquaculture licence in question. However, he applied last year to my Department for approval for partial assignment to another company of a portion of the area covered by his licence. Consideration of the proposal required technical and legal advice which has now been obtained. I expect to be in a position to make a determination in this case in the near future.

Question No. 191 withdrawn.

Farm Waste Management.

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

192 Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when payment of a grant under the farm waste management scheme will be awarded to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [32756/08]

The claim for payment lodged by the person concerned under the Farm Waste Management Scheme is being processed by my Department. I would expect that payment will be made in the near future provided that the claim is in compliance with the terms and conditions of the Scheme.

Rural Environment Protection Scheme.

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

193 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his views on farmers in receipt of REP scheme payments being allowed to use their land to grow energy crops. [32759/08]

The growing of energy crops by farmers in the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS) is permitted. The area allowed for the growing of miscanthus or willow in REPS is 25% of the utilizable agricultural area of the holding or 10 hectares, whichever is the greater.

Fisheries Protection.

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

194 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the basis on which the Danish quota for the ICES VI and ICES VII zones was established. [32760/08]

Quota allocations for the main fish stocks were set in the early 1980's when fish stocks were being shared out between Member States. The share allocations were based on catch records and reflected the fishing levels by the various fleets at that time in all areas including ICES Area VI and VII.

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

195 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his views on correspondence from a committee (details supplied); and if he will assist it in being allowed to fish for cockles at Annagassan, County Louth when the season opens. [32887/08]

The Shellfish Management Framework is the normal mechanism for the development of management plans for inshore fisheries. It consists of Local Advisory Committees (LACs), which are industry led, and Species Advisory Groups (SAGs) who present plans to the Inshore Fisheries Review Group (IFRG) who if appropriate will recommend the management plans to me for effective implementation. The Cockle fishery in Dundalk is currently closed and the most recent indications from an August 2008 cockle survey is that about 90% of the cockles in the bay are below the market size; additionally 1 and 2 year old cockles are poorly represented in the samples. On this basis it would not be expected to re-open the fishery in the short term.

The Dundalk Cockle Fishery also occurs in a Natura 2000 designated site. In this situation the opening of the fishery will have to have regard for the requirements in the EU Birds and Habitats Directives. My Department, and its agencies are working closely with the National Parks and Wildlife Service in developing an approach which will lead to this and other similarly impacted fisheries meeting the requirements of those directives.

Farm Inspections.

Ulick Burke

Ceist:

196 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if, following the rejection of the Lisbon treaty, he has requested the EU Commission to review his position in relation to unannounced farm inspections under the various schemes operated by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32902/08]

The position is that an EU Commission report on the application of cross-compliance was presented to the April 2007 Agriculture Council and Council conclusions were adopted in June 2007. The following issues were covered in the conclusions:

Tolerance for minor non-compliance

Introduction of a "de minimis" rule for penalties

Harmonisation of control rates

Advance notice of Inspections

Reviewing the "10 month rule"

Making better use of the results of existing controls in the context of risk analysis for cross-compliance.

Phasing in of cross-compliance for new Member States operating the SAPS

Council and Commission Regulations are now in place implementing the new arrangements with effect from 1 January 2008. Under the new regime, while inspections in general should be unannounced, we can give up to 14 days notice for land eligibility and cross-compliance inspections involving Statutory Management Requirements (SMRs) other than those related to animal identification and registration, food, feed, and animal welfare. For checks involving cattle identification and registration the maximum advance notice is 48 hours provided we are satisfied that the purpose of the inspection is not jeopardised. For SMRs dealing with feed, food and animal welfare no advance notice may be given.

My Department is required to ensure that the control environment established under cross-compliance is robust and meets with regulatory and audit requirements. Nevertheless, I believe that the cross-compliance provisions were overly complex for farmers and I have sought and gained appropriate simplification in the context of the review of cross-compliance conducted by the Commission and the Regulations introduced as a result. It is intended however, that further simplification of the cross-compliance arrangements will be pursued in the context of the CAP Health Check. Specifically, I am committed to pursuing indent 14 of the June 2007 Council conclusions which requested the Commission "to study ways of improving the coherence and practicability of the control provisions in the different sectors covered by the Statutory Management Requirements (SMRs) for example as regards control rates and advance notice for on-the-spot checks".

Agriculture Appeals Office.

Ulick Burke

Ceist:

197 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will justify the imposition of a penalty and confirmation of it on appeal to the local regional inspector (details supplied) and subsequent successful appeal to the independent appeals board; the cost of this case to his Department; his views on whether this is a time wasting exercise for all involved; if he will refund the professional costs to the farmer in this case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32907/08]

Under the Agriculture Appeals Act 2001, the Agriculture Appeals Office was established to provide an appeals service to farmers who may be dissatisfied with decisions of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food concerning their entitlements under designated schemes operated by the Department. This case was received at the Agriculture Appeals Office on 13th March 2008 and decision was given on 23rd June 2008. There are no charges for this service. However, any costs arising from the engagement of professional services on behalf of the appellant are a matter for the individual concerned.

Farm Improvement Scheme.

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

198 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the amount of funding that has been made available for the farm improvement scheme for 2008; the level of funding still available for 2008; if the amount of funding for the scheme has been decided for 2009; the amount of funding that has been allocated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32908/08]

A sum of €15 million was made available in the 2008 Estimates for the Farm Improvement Scheme of which €6.518 million has been paid out to date. The allocation for the Scheme next year will be determined in the context of the 2009 Estimates process. A total allocation of €79 million was provided for the Scheme in the 2006 Partnership agreement, Towards 2016, and the Scheme was suspended on 31 October 2007 as applications received had reached this level of funding.

Horticulture Sector.

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

199 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if within the code of good farming practice, provision is made in respect of horticultural farmers who grow blackcurrants, gooseberries, and so on; if he will guarantee that no penalties will be applied in the event of an inspection to such people; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32945/08]

The position is that Article 21 of the European Communities (Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters) Regulations 2006 (SI No. 378 of 2006) contains a number of requirements in relation to ploughing and the use of non-selective herbicides including a requirement under Article 21 (2) to provide for emergence by 1 November of green cover from a sown crop where grassland has been ploughed between 1 July and 15 October. The reason for this requirement is to minimise the significant losses of nitrates to waters that can occur when grassland, or arable land, is ploughed and where there is no crop present to take up the released nutrients. Fruit trees such as blackcurrant and gooseberry utilise such released nutrients and satisfy the requirements of the Regulations.

Adherence on the part of fruit growers to good horticultural practices should avoid any difficulties arising as far as cross-compliance inspections are concerned. The requirements of Article 21 are a fundamental part of the National Action Programme under the Nitrates Directive negotiated with the EU Commission and were finalised following an extensive consultation process that led to the enactment by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government of the Regulations in 2006.

Grant Payments.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

200 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive their REP scheme payment. [32950/08]

The application in this case was submitted on 17/1/08 and, if found to be valid, his REPS 4 contract will commence from 1 February 2008. Advance payments of 75% under the EU regulations governing REPS 4 can only issue when all administrative checks on applications for REPS 4 and the 2008 Single Payment Scheme are completed. This work is still ongoing and it is expected that payments will commence within the next five to six weeks. The balancing 25% payment will follow when all 2008 REPS on-farm inspections have taken place.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

201 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive the disadvantaged area scheme payment in view of the fact that their sheep numbers are restricted according to their REP scheme plan. [32951/08]

The position is that an application under the Single Payment Scheme /Disadvantaged Area Compensatory Allowance Scheme was received from the person named on the 7th April 2008. As part of the control procedures under EU legislation governing these Schemes, the application was selected for and was the subject of a ground eligibility inspection. The inspection was carried out on the 8th August and the details of the inspection have been entered on the Department's system. The application has been cleared and the payment will issue shortly.

Compensation Schemes.

David Stanton

Ceist:

202 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Cork under the sugar compensation scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32975/08]

Following resolution of outstanding issues, payment in respect of the Retro-active Restructuring element of the EU Sugar Reform package, €10,114.50, issued in full today to the person named.

Animal Diseases.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

203 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if there is a possibility of setting up a compensation scheme for farmers whose cattle die from incurable disease, and there is no evidence of neglect (details supplied). [32982/08]

There are no funds at my disposal to compensate farmers whose cattle die from diseases and conditions that are not regulated by my Department. If disease outbreaks occur, owners of affected herds should seek advice from their veterinary surgeons and my Department's Veterinary Laboratory Service is also available to provide advice if required. Animal health is a critical factor for optimal farm efficiency and my Department is working with relevant stakeholders to actively progress a herd health initiative to deal with non-regulated diseases in an integrated manner. The initiative complements existing animal health programmes and aims to develop effective national plans for action and facilitate Ireland achieving international best practice in the area of animal health.

Schools Building Projects.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

204 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Education and Science the history and the status of the application for approval to carry out essential accommodation works at a school (details supplied) in County Cavan; the date of receipt of same; the works required; the reason for the delay in granting approval to proceed; the prospects of said approval issuing, and in full, in 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32682/08]

An application for an extension project at the school referred to by the Deputy was received in my Department in 1996. The proposed extension project is currently at an early stage of architectural planning. Officials from my Department's professional and technical unit recently visited the school and, as a result, a revised schedule of accommodation to meet the long term accommodation needs for 650 pupils has issued to the school for consideration.

The progression of all large scale building projects from initial design stage through to construction phase, including this project, will be considered 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 Transport.

Andrew Doyle

Ceist:

205 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Education and Science his policy on the excise duty relief scheme for school buses as referred to in Question No. 700 of 24 September 2008. [32703/08]

As the Deputy is aware, the Finance Act 2008 provided the legislative changes to withdraw relief in respect of fuel used for public transport vehicles with effect from 1 November 2008 in line with the European Union Energy Tax Directive. The appropriate full excise duties will apply from that date. My Department is in discussions with the Department of Finance on the impact of the withdrawal of the relief in respect of fuel used by school transport operators in the context of the 2009 Estimates.

Special Educational Needs.

John O'Mahony

Ceist:

206 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will sanction a visiting teacher in respect of visually impaired students (details supplied) in County Mayo. [32709/08]

The issue of additional resources for the Visiting Teacher service for the Visually Impaired will be considered in the context of the overall funding being made available to my Department for 2009. Referral agencies, schools and parents of pre-school children with visual impairment currently are being informed by Visiting Teacher management of an interim telephone advisory service that is now being provided while alternative arrangements for a Visiting Teacher presence in Co. Mayo, are being explored.

School Accommodation.

Paul Connaughton

Ceist:

207 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Education and Science if his attention has been drawn to the state of a school (details supplied) in County Galway; if his attention has further been drawn to the fact that the limited ongoing repair work is nothing more than a cosmetic exercise and will not solve the poor infrastructural problems that beset the school; when a new school will be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32741/08]

An application for capital funding towards the provision of a new school building has recently been received from the school referred to by the Deputy. The commencement and progression of all large scale building projects from initial design stage through to construction phase, including this project, will be considered 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 this project at this time. In the interim, an official from my Department's Planning and Building Unit recently visited the school and, as a result, an amount of €26,862 including VAT has been sanctioned to carry out remedial works on the school.

Site Acquisitions.

Olivia Mitchell

Ceist:

208 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Education and Science if his attention has been drawn to the future need for either one 32 class school or two 16 class schools in the greater Kilternan area as is provided for in the Kilternan local area plan; the communication there has been between Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and his Department; when it is envisaged that he will purchase land in order to begin construction of the new schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32757/08]

I can confirm that the Department in its submission to the Kilternan/Glenamuck Local Area Plan requested that it would be prudent for Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council to reserve suitable sites, approximately 19 acres in total, for two primary schools and one post-primary school to meet the future school accommodation needs of the area. In general, the Department considers site acquisition in accordance as needs arise, taking into account the availability of capital resources and in the overall context of the Departments Multi-Annual School Building and Modernisation Programme.

Higher Education Grants.

Joe Costello

Ceist:

209 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will ensure that a person (details supplied) in Dublin 7 is not discriminated against and refused a higher education grant and is allowed to pursue the course applied for with the support of a higher education grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32758/08]

My Department received an appeal on the 18 September 2008 in relation to the candidate referred to by the Deputy. It will be necessary for officials in my Department to examine the appeal. As soon as this examination is complete a decision will be issued to the individual concerned.

School Accommodation.

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

210 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will take steps to provide the additional accommodation required at a primary school (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32819/08]

An application for additional accommodation was received in late 2007 from the school referred to by the Deputy. The commencement and progression of all large scale building projects, including this project, will be considered 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.

Schools Building Projects.

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

211 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Science when he will be in a position to allow a new school in an area (details supplied) in County Westmeath to proceed to construction, as same was ready to commence in the summer of 2007, based upon commitments given to the board of management in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32820/08]

The proposed project for the school in question is at an advanced stage of architectural planning. The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project, will be considered 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.

Schools Refurbishment.

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

212 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Science when he will be in a position to allow a refurbishment project at a school (details supplied) in County Longford to proceed in view of the fact that this long standing project has passed through all the necessary phases; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32821/08]

The school to which the Deputy refers is at an advanced stage of architectural planning. The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project, from initial design stage through to construction phase will be considered 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.

Vocational Education Committees.

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

213 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason he did not allow Westmeath Vocational Education Committee to utilise a portion of internal funding it had acquired through the disposal of capital projects in its jurisdictional area (details supplied); if he will give the VEC the necessary approval; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32822/08]

The proposal from Co. Westmeath VEC to which the Deputy refers was considered by officials of my Department and funding was not approved. The decision was upheld on appeal, and my Department wrote to the CEO of the VEC on 26 May 2008 advising him of the position. The decision was again confirmed at a meeting between officials of my Department and the CEO on 23 July 2008.

Decentralisation Programme.

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

214 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Science the position and progress made to date in the decentralisation project of 300 posts to Mullingar, County Westmeath; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a significant number of personnel wish to relocate to Mullingar immediately as part of the decentralisation process; if he will take steps to expedite the plans in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32823/08]

The Mullingar element of the decentralisation of my Department's Headquarters will take place when new permanent accommodation is ready for occupation. This is likely to be sometime in 2010. The Office of Public Works (OPW) has procured a site in Mullingar for the development of the new headquarters of my Department. In December 2007, the OPW announced a preferred tenderer for a bundle of three Public Private Partnerships projects to include my Department's new headquarters in Mullingar. Full planning permission for this development was received in July 2008.

Approximately 130 posts in Dublin are now held by officers who will relocate to Mullingar with their posts. Volunteers for decentralisation will be assigned to the remaining posts as the current post-holders transfer out under the Dublin Arrangements or to decentralise to other locations. There are no plans to secure temporary accommodation for an advance party to Mullingar, prior to the provision of the permanent office accommodation in 2010. However in June 2008, my Department utilised existing available accommodation in its Regional Office in Mullingar, to decentralise seven posts from Dublin to that location.

Schools Building Projects.

Charles Flanagan

Ceist:

215 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Science the status of a building project at a school (details supplied) in County Laois ; the reason the project has not progressed to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32846/08]

The proposed building project for the school to which the Deputy refers is at an early stage of architectural planning and is currently awaiting the appointment of a Design Team. The commencement and progression of all large scale building projects from initial design stage through to construction phase, including this project, will be considered 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 further progression of the project at this time.

School Accommodation.

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

216 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of school pupils in the Lucan area who are in temporary or prefabricated buildings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32854/08]

The information sought by the Deputy is not held in my Department in a readily accessibly format. The 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 resources and teachers to schools in recent years, the Government prioritised putting the extra teachers into schools as soon as possible rather than making children wait until permanent accommodation could be provided in all cases.

Some schools with immediate additional accommodation needs are accommodated in prefabricated buildings, while others rent permanent premises. My Department grant aids schools to enable them to pay rent for approved temporary accommodation. This grant aid is paid to the schools on submission to my Department of valid invoices verifying that the school is renting the accommodation in accordance with the terms under which sanction was given. My Department will continue to provide funding for such prefabricated accommodation and the decision on whether to rent or purchase will depend on the likely length of time it will be required. In all cases, the approach will be to ensure best value for money.

Schools Building Projects.

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

217 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science when the building of a second level school in Lucan, County Dublin will commence; the duration it will take for this building to be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32855/08]

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

218 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science his plans to provide an Educate Together second level school in Lucan, County Dublin in view of the fact that there are five Educate Together national schools in Lucan with no second level school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32856/08]

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

224 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Science if a decision has been made on the patronage of a school (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32912/08]

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

230 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Science the timeframe for the opening of a new secondary school (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32918/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 217, 218, 224 and 230 together.

My Department has asked South Dublin County Council to identify a site for the development of a second level school in Lucan. A timeframe for the delivery of the school will be known when a suitable site has been identified and acquired. The local authority has a number of Local Area Plans in train and it is likely that a site will be identified under this process. My Department is conscious of the lead-in period for the delivery of a post-primary school and the importance of concluding the site issue as soon as possible. My Department is currently considering a number of issues relating to the recognition process for second-level schools and the matter of the recognition of further patrons at post-primary level, including Educate Together, will be considered in that context.

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

219 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science his plans for a permanent building for a school (details supplied) in County Dublin in view of the fact that this Gaelscoil is in existence since 2002 and all children are in prefabs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32857/08]

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

229 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Science the status of plans for the development at a school (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32917/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 219 and 229 together.

The Department is in negotiation with County Dublin Vocational Education Committee regarding the provision of a site for the school in question. The acquisition of the site 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.

Jimmy Deenihan

Ceist:

220 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Education and Science if funding will be made available to a school (details supplied) in County Kerry, to improve accommodation to meet present and future needs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32881/08]

My Department has received an application for major capital funding from the school to which the Deputy refers. The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project, from initial design stage through to construction phase will be considered 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.

Educational Disadvantage.

Jimmy Deenihan

Ceist:

221 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will approve DEIS status for a school (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32882/08]

As the Deputy is aware DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools), the action plan for educational inclusion, provides for a standardised system for identifying levels of disadvantage and a new integrated School Support Programme (SSP). The DEIS plan states that as well as provision being made for schools with a concentrated level of disadvantage, financial support will also continue to be provided for other primary schools where the level of disadvantage is more dispersed. The process of identifying schools for participation in DEIS was managed by the Educational Research Centre (ERC) on behalf of my Department and supported by quality assurance work co-ordinated through the Department's regional offices and the Inspectorate.

A review mechanism was put in place to address the concerns of schools that did not qualify for inclusion in DEIS but regarded themselves as having a level of disadvantage which was of a scale sufficient to warrant their inclusion in the programme. The review process operated under the direction of an independent person, charged with ensuring that all relevant identification processes and procedures were properly followed in the case of schools applying for a review. As a result of the identification and review processes, 673 primary and 203 second-level schools were invited to participate in the programme. The school referred to by the Deputy was not identified for inclusion in the programme nor did it make an application for a review. The school continues to receive financial support in line with the level of disadvantage among its pupils for the duration of the DEIS action plan.

The school also participates in the LINK School Completion Programme since 2002. The objective of the School Completion Programme is to provide a range of interventions in areas of disadvantage that support the retention of young people in education and aims to develop local strategies to ensure maximum participation levels in the education process, entails targeting individual young people of school-going age, both in and out of school, and arranging supports to address inequalities in education access, participation and outcomes. It is based on an integrated approach involving primary and post primary schools, parents, relevant statutory, voluntary and community agencies. The programme is funded on a multi-annual basis under the National Development Plan (NDP) and was assisted from the European Social Fund (ESF) up to 2007.

Departmental Reports.

Ulick Burke

Ceist:

222 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Education and Science if he has received or if his attention has been drawn to the report for his Department and the Higher Education Authority regarding the suggested sale of part of the University College Dublin research farm at Lyons Estate, Celbridge, County Kildare which was promised three years ago; if it is still policy to dispose of part of these lands; if his attention has further been drawn to the consequences of continued and ongoing stripping of these resources to part fund other UCD faculties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32906/08]

The Lyons Estate is in the ownership of University College Dublin. The Institution is an autonomous body, with the day-to-day management of the Institution's affairs being a matter for its Governing Body. I have been informed by the HEA that in March 2006, UCD's Governing Authority approved a review of the suitability of the Lyons Estate for the University's future needs and the possible development of the property. This report for the UCD Finance Remuneration and Asset Management Committee is currently being finalised.

Site Acquisitions.

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

223 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Science the efforts to secure a site for a school (details supplied) in County Dublin. [32911/08]

The Department is in negotiations with County Dublin Vocational Education Committee regarding the provision of a site for the school in question. The acquisition of the site 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.

Question No. 224 answered with Question No. 217.

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

225 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Science if a site has been secured for a school (details supplied) in County Dublin; the efforts he has made to secure such a site; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32913/08]

The acquisition of the site will be considered in the context of the capital budget available to my Department for school buildings generally. In light of current competing demands on the capital budget of my Department, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the acquisition of the school site at this time.

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

226 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Science the progress made in securing a site for a school (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32914/08]

The Property Management Section of the Office of Public Works (OPW) was asked to source a site for the school to which the Deputy refers. The further progression of the site acquisition for the school will have to be considered in the context of the capital budget available to my Department for school buildings generally. In light of the many competing demands on the capital budget of my Department, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the acquisition of the school site at this time.

Schools Building Projects.

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

227 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Science the stage of plans for the development of a school (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32915/08]

I am pleased to advise the Deputy that my Department has built an 8 classroom school as part of a fast-track construction programme for the area referred to in County Dublin. This school opened in September 2008 to meet the immediate accommodation requirements in the area and the long term plan for this school is the provision of a 16 classroom school and appropriate ancillary accommodation as per Department guidelines.

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

228 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Science when work will begin on a school (details supplied) in Dublin 20; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32916/08]

The project to which the Deputy refers is currently at an advanced stage of architectural planning. The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project, from initial design stage through to construction phase will be considered 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.

Question No. 229 answered with Question No. 219.
Question No. 230 answered with Question No. 217.

Enda Kenny

Ceist:

231 Deputy Enda Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Science if the development of the Davitt College Sports Hall, Castlebar, County Mayo has been sanctioned; if funding has been allocated; the amount of funding that has been allocated; the stage of the tender process this project has reached; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32919/08]

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the development of the PE Hall at Davitt College has been sanctioned and my Department has contacted Co. Mayo VEC authorising them to progress the project. As the Deputy will be aware, from February 2008 all Capital Works Projects must use the new GCCC Forms of Construction Contracts for Public Works and as a result Co. Mayo VEC have been informed that the project at Davitt College will have to be retendered.

Joanna Tuffy

Ceist:

232 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will provide an assurance that the new school building for a school (details supplied) in County Dublin will be completed by 2010; if he will confirm that the completion of this building will not be deferred as a result of possible cutbacks in his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32939/08]

The project to which the Deputy refers to is at early architectural planning. Officials from my Department have received a Stage 1 submission — Site Suitability, Site Report and Initial Sketch Scheme. The Department is currently reviewing the submission. The progression of all large scale building projects from initial design stage through to tender and construction, including this project, will be considered on an on-going basis in the context of my Department's Multi-Annual School Building and Modernisation Programme.

School Transport.

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

233 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason with regard to the school transport scheme, private bus operators contracted under the scheme in County Wexford were not given an annual increase on their contract, particularly in view of substantial increases in fuel and associated costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32946/08]

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

234 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Education and Science his views on the future of the school transport scheme in view of the fact that private bus operators have stated that it is not viable for them to operate the scheme without a 17% increase and he has not granted an increase in 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32947/08]

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

235 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Education and Science, with regard to the school transport scheme, the percentage of the scheme operated by private bus contractors in each county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32948/08]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 233 to 235, inclusive, together.

I would like to advise the Deputy that negotiations with school bus operators regarding school bus contracts are a matter between Bus Éireann, which operates the school transport service on behalf of my Department, and the operators. In 2007, contractors received 63% of the overall budget paid to Bus Éireann and since 2000 have received in excess of 40% in cost of living increases. In the current fiscal climate, it was not possible to make additional funding available in respect of an increase in contractors' rates for the 2008/2009 school year.

My Department is in discussions with the Department of Finance on the impact of the withdrawal of the relief in respect of fuel used by school transport operators in the context of the 2009 estimates. Some 83% of vehicles providing school transport services nationally under the School Transport Scheme are operated by private bus contractors. This information is not readily available on a county basis .

Schools Building Projects.

Joe Costello

Ceist:

236 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will prioritise the construction of a new school (details supplied) in County Donegal in the multi-annual school building and modernisation programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32966/08]

The project referred to by the Deputy is currently an advanced stage of architectural planning. Planning permission for the proposed project has been received. The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project, from initial design through to construction 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.

Joe Costello

Ceist:

237 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Education and Science his plans for providing a school (details supplied) in Dublin 7 with a permanent school building; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32967/08]

The school to which the Deputy refers has submitted an application for a new school building. The school's current site has been ruled out as a long term solution to the school's accommodation needs as it is too restricted to allow the construction of an eight classroom school with the necessary ancillary accommodation. The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project, will be considered 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.