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 10, inclusive, answered orally.

Schools Recognition.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

11 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh den Aire Oideachais agus Eolaíochta cad iad na céimeanna a chuirfidh a Roinn i bhfeidhm chun freastal ar éileamh an phobail ar an gcóras Gaelscolaíochta mar uirlis chun an Ghaeilge a chur chun cinn sa Stát, sna ceantair sheanbhunaithe agus sna ceantair nua-fháis araon; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [7854/09]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

12 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin den Aire Oideachais agus Eolaíochta an mbeidh na coinníollacha aitheantais reatha i bhfeidhm i mbliana do choistí bunaithe atá ag súil le scoil nua a oscailt mí Mheán Fómhair 2009 agus an mó scoileanna nua a mbronnfar aitheantas sealadach orthu faoi na coinníollacha sin i mbliana. [7855/09]

Tógfaigh mé Ceisteanna 11 agus 12 le chéile.

I should explain that a review of the procedures for the establishment of new primary schools is being undertaken by the Commission on School Accommodation. A Technical Working Group, under the direction of the Chairman of the Commission, has been established to undertake a full review of the criteria and procedures for the recognition of new primary schools. This working group has commenced its work and it is expected that the review of procedures for recognising new primary schools will be completed and revised arrangements will be in place within a two year timeframe. In the interim, it is not proposed to recognise any new primary schools, except in areas where the increases in pupil numbers cannot be catered for in existing schools and which require the provision of new schools. This means that new schools will not be established for reasons unrelated to demographic growth in areas where there is already sufficient school accommodation or where increases can be catered for by extending existing school accommodation.

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

While the review is ongoing, it is proposed that the Department will identify the areas where new schools are required and details will be circulated to all existing Patron Bodies and it will be open to those patrons to put themselves forward as patron for any such new school. This review does not mean that there will be a complete cessation of the school building programme outside areas of rapid growth. This year alone, over €650 million will be spent on the school building programme. In addition to the establishment of new schools in areas of rapid population growth, the normal building programme of modernising, replacing or extending existing schools will continue.

School Enrolments.

David Stanton

Ceist:

13 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Science if his Department has conducted research into the projected enrolment requirements for second level schools in Midleton, County Cork for the next six to eight years; if he will make these figures available; his plans to increase the number of second level school places in Midleton in the near future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7958/09]

The Forward Planning Section of my Department is currently identifying areas where significant additional accommodation will be required at primary and post-primary level for 2009 and onwards. This involves detailed consideration of factors such as population growth, demographic trends, current and projected enrolments, recent and planned housing developments and the capacity of existing schools to meet demand for places. As a matter of course, there is on-going liaison between my Department and local authorities to establish the location scale and pace of any proposed major housing developments and their possible implications for school provision.

As part of the Middleton Special Local Area Plan, the Local Authority has, on advice from my Department, made appropriate zonings for primary and post primary schools to meet the future educational requirements of the area. Having analysed the demographic statistics in the Midleton area, my Department has found that there is no requirement for a new post-primary school in the short term based on current primary school enrolments. However, my Department is keeping the situation under review, including a proposal for the future development of up to 2,500 houses in the area. My Department is liaising with Cork County Council with regard to the timing of future developments and the decision as to when a new post-primary school will be required in Midleton will be based on the rate and pace of development and the feasibility of extending the current schools in the area.

Progress on the development of additional schools together with any applications for capital funding from existing providers will be considered for progression in the context of my Department's School Building and Modernisation programme.

School Staffing.

Brian O'Shea

Ceist:

14 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Education and Science, further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 614 to 618 of 17 December 2008, the number of permanent teaching posts, contracts of indefinite duration, pro rata fixed term contracts and casual part-time posts created across the second level education sector between 2000 and 2008; the permanency ratio across each sector at second level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7913/09]

Teacher allocations to all second level schools are approved annually by my Department in accordance with established rules based on recognised pupil enrolment. In accordance with these rules each school management authority is required to organise its subject options within the limit of its approved teacher allocation. The deployment of teaching staff in the school, the range of subjects offered and ultimately the quality of teaching and learning are in the first instance a matter for the school management authorities.

It must be borne in mind that the actual ratio of teachers to pupils in the post primary sector has improved greatly in recent years. The actual ratio includes a significant number of posts allocated for areas such as learning support, resource teaching, guidance counselling, non-national, Traveller provision etc. and is considered to be the more accurate and correct guide to provision at second level. The actual ratio of whole time teacher equivalents to pupils has reduced from 16:1 in the 1996/97 school year to just under 13:1 provisionally for the 2007/08 school year.

Information on the numbers of the categories of appointments referred to by the Deputy is only readily available for Secondary and Community/Comprehensive schools, as the individual Vocational Education Committees are responsible for the payment of their employees. The information recorded on the database for secondary and Community / Comprehensive schools indicates that there were 14,870 appointments to permanent posts in the 2000/2001 school year in Secondary and Community/ Comprehensive schools. The information indicated that there were 469 Eligible Part-Time appointments and 565 fixed term wholetime appointments in that school year.

In recent years the school managerial authorities have awarded contracts of indefinite duration to whole time and regular part-time teachers employed in their schools to comply with the agreed terms of the Protection of Employees (Fixed-Term Work) Act 2003. In the current school year there are 1,559 holders of such contracts of indefinite duration appointments in secondary and community/ comprehensive schools. There are 13,780 permanent appointments recorded. There are 3,335 Regular Part-Time appointments and 640 fixed term appointments. In a school year up to 10,000 casual and non casual teachers are employed as replacements for teachers on approved leave of absences such as maternity leave and sick leave and to provide non regular part-time teaching in the schools. The levels of teaching service provided vary substantially.

In general and by agreement at Teachers Conciliation Council up to 95% of the initial teacher allocation in second-level schools is filled by the appointment of teachers in a permanent capacity. When deciding on the number of teaching posts, if any, which may be filled in a permanent capacity in a particular school year, the school authorities must take account of the approved teacher allocation for the school for that year, the number of permanent teachers currently employed, including those on approved leave, the overall limits as to the level of permanency as agreed from time to time and the need for flexibility to cater for the needs of all of the pupils attending the school. The assignment of teachers to individual classes within the overall approved allocation is a matter for the authorities of the school concerned. Therefore, it is a matter for each school authority to determine the level of permanency. The Department does not have details on the level of permanency in individual schools or by sector.

Departmental Expenditure.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

15 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science, further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 606 and 607 of 17 December 2008, the sums of money spent on hotel accommodation by his Department and each State agency under the aegis of his Department for each of the years 2004 to 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7912/09]

The duties and responsibilities of my Department require attendance by Ministers and officials at a range of meetings and events, in Ireland and overseas, which sometimes necessitate overnight stays in hotels. Typically, the types of event which necessitate an overnight stay include meetings, conferences and training and development events in Ireland, EU meetings as well as those of international organisations such as the OECD, UNESCO and the Council of Europe, and specific events such as World Skills, Euro Skills and the National Skills competitions.

Hotel accommodation is sourced in line with public procurement guidelines, and quotes are obtained from a number of venues with suitable facilities. When I, or the Ministers of State at my Department, travel overseas, advice is usually sought from the local Irish diplomatic mission in relation to obtaining suitable and cost-effective accommodation for official events abroad. My Department is very conscious of the need to keep the costs of hotel accommodation to a minimum, and direct expenditure on hotels in 2008 was down 14% on 2007 levels and 20% on 2006 levels.

For the period 2004 to 2008, my Department spent the following rounded amounts on hotel accommodation:

In 2004, the year of Ireland's EU Presidency, €546,000;

In 2005, €235,000;

In 2006, €277,000;

In 2007, €259,000;

In 2008, €221,000.

When the Department's officers travel within Ireland and are required to stay overnight, they are normally paid a subsistence rate to cover the costs of meals and overnight accommodation. It is therefore not possible to give a specific breakdown for hotel accommodation for this type of travel. Therefore, the amounts I have given include only those payments for hotel accommodation in respect of home travel that were billed directly to my Department.

With regard to bodies under the aegis of my Department the expenditure incurred and the procurement arrangements are a matter for each agency and this information is not collated centrally by my Department. In December 2008 I wrote to the Chairpersons of agencies under my Department's aegis to remind them of the need to ensure efficiency and effectiveness in respect of expenditure of public funds generally and in particular in relation to business travel and subsistence expenditure. I emphasised the importance of the agencies being in a position to provide assurance, through appropriate control procedures and monitoring arrangements, that the necessary measures are in place to ensure compliance with prescribed procedures in relation to expenditure and that such procedures are documented and being implemented as required by statute, regulation or guideline as appropriate.

Special Educational Needs.

Arthur Morgan

Ceist:

16 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of children with special educational needs who will be without a special needs teacher due to recent cutbacks in that area. [7857/09]

David Stanton

Ceist:

52 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Science the number and location of schools that will be affected by the recently announced cutbacks to special needs classes; the number of children with special educational needs who are to be moved to mainstream classes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7959/09]

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

53 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Education and Science his views on whether the needs of children with special educational needs will be properly catered for in the mainstream classroom; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7859/09]

Arthur Morgan

Ceist:

58 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Education and Science the savings he anticipates from cutting back on special needs teachers. [7858/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 16, 52, 53 and 58 together.

There will be no pupil with a special educational need who will be without access to a special needs teacher as a result of my Department's decision to apply the normal rules which govern the appointment and retention of teachers to special classes for pupils with a mild general learning disability. The Deputies will be aware that all primary schools have been allocated additional teaching resources to enable them support pupils with high incidence special educational needs including mild general learning disability (MGLD). All primary schools were given these additional teaching resources under the General Allocation Model of learning support/resource teaching introduced in 2005. Schools can decide how best to use this allocation based on the needs of the pupils. Most pupils with a MGLD are included in ordinary classes with their peers and are supported by their class teacher. The curriculum is flexible so that teachers can cater for the needs of children of different abilities.

The Deputies will be aware that allocations to schools typically increase or decrease depending on pupil enrolment. In the case of classes for MGLD the normal pupil teacher ratio that applies is 11:1. My Department however allows for a small reduction in this number and permits schools to retain a teaching post where it has a minimum of 9 pupils in the class. In the case of 128 classes in 119 schools, the number of pupils dropped below this minimum. These schools therefore are no longer entitled to the teaching posts in these classes. There are currently 534 pupils enrolled in these classes. It is not possible to give a precise cost of the posts concerned due to the varying salary costs of the teachers in question. However, it is estimated to be in the region of €6.8m.

In 2005 when the General Allocation Model was introduced, schools with additional teachers in classes for MGLD were allowed to retain the teachers for these classes. Effectively, these schools received a double allocation. The number of these special classes has decreased over the years and schools have integrated the children into age-appropriate mainstream classes. All of the other primary schools in the country which do not have classes for children with MGLD cater for these pupils from within the General Allocation Model. I have requested that information concerning the names and locations of the schools is forwarded to the Deputy.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

17 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will confirm that all children with special needs requirements at primary and second level schools here are expected to have their requirements met in full in 2009; if his attention has been drawn to the concerns of parents and school authorities in this regard; if he will confirm that provision has been made or will be made to provide the full complement of special needs teachers, special needs assistants, home tuition and support or requirements for the full school year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7891/09]

I wish to advise the Deputy that there has been no change in the criteria which governs the appointment of additional resource/learning support teachers, special needs assistants or home tuition. The Deputy will be aware of my commitment to ensuring that all pupils, including those with special educational needs, can have access to an education appropriate to their needs preferably in school settings through the primary and post-primary school network.

There are now over 19,000 staff in our schools working solely with children with special needs. This includes over 10,000 Special Needs Assistants — compared with just 300 in 1997. There are also over 8,000 resource and learning support teachers — compared with about 2,000 in 1998. More than 1,100 other teachers support children in our special schools, while hundreds more work in special classes. As well as this significant increase in the numbers of additional teachers and SNAs directly providing appropriate education and care supports for children with special educational needs, much investment has taken place in the provision of transport, specialist school accommodation, home tuition, assistive technology and equipment.

Additional teaching supports are allocated as necessary by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) in line with my Department's policy to support children with special educational needs. As a result, there is no current shortfall in the number of teacher posts being allocated for children with special educational needs. The Deputy will also be aware that additional funding has been allocated to my Department in 2009 to provide for an expansion of the National Educational Psychological service so that all schools in the country will be covered by the service. The additional funding available to NEPS, which represents a 33% increase over the 2008 allocation, will facilitate the recruitment of up to 50 further psychologists. It is envisaged that this will bring the number of NEPS psychologists by the end of 2009 above the proposed 200 incorporated in the Programme for Government.

This investment will significantly enhance the capacity of our educational psychologists to directly support schools in the development and delivery of appropriate interventions for children with special educational needs. Additional funding is also being provided to the National Council for Special Education in 2009 to increase the Council's capacity in the move towards the full implementation of EPSEN. The additional funding will enable the Council to continue to improve, plan and co-ordinate the delivery of services for children with special needs.

I have also provided for further investment in teacher training in this area. This will ensure that teachers are provided with opportunities to access continuing professional development so that the learning and teaching needs of all pupils with Special Educational Needs continue to be met. I wish to assure the Deputy that the provision of appropriate educational intervention and supports for children with special educational needs continues to be a key Government priority.

School Transport.

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

18 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Education and Science his proposals to alleviate the plight of families who are unable to pay the recently increased school transport charges of €300; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7208/09]

The Budget 2009 increase in charges applies from the start of the 2009/2010 school year. These charge increases apply to the 55,000 eligible post primary and children availing of concessionary transport. The amount may be paid in full on or before the 31 July, 2009 in which case an annual ticket for the full school year will be issued. Alternatively, 50% of the annual amount due may be paid by the deadline date of 31 July, 2009, in which case a ticket valid for travel up to 22 December, 2009 will be issued. In this instance the balance due must be paid by 4th December, 2009. Upon receipt of this payment a second ticket, valid for travel up to the end of the school year in June, 2010 will be issued.

Charges will continue to be waived in the case of eligible post-primary children where the family is in possession of a valid medical card or over a further 19,000 children. Eligible children attending primary schools and children with special needs or about 54,000 children will still travel free. A maximum family rate of €650 will also be applied. The new charges from parents will still only represent about 7% of the overall allocation for school transport in 2009.

Fee-Paying Schools.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

19 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Science if his Department has been approached, either formally or informally, by any fee-paying schools about the possibility of opting into the traditional free education system; the schools which were involved in such discussions; his Department’s response or attitude to such an approach; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7931/09]

My Department has not received any recent approaches, formal or informal, from any fee-paying school wishing to opt into the free education scheme. A school did consider joining the free education scheme in 2004, but subsequently withdrew its application. It is open to any fee-paying school to apply to join the free education scheme. Any applications received will receive due consideration by my Department.

FÁS Training Programmes.

Joan Burton

Ceist:

20 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Science the discussions he has had with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment regarding a possible re-allocation of the recently announced funds for FÁS to create 51,000 training places into his Department’s budget in order that additional courses can be created within the further education and third level sectors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7922/09]

My Department is working with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment with a view to improving the co-ordination of our efforts and facilitating better co-operation and collaboration at local and regional level among the relevant education and training providers. The additional places are being provided by FAS from within existing resources. In delivering these places FÁS will, in addition to their own delivery of courses, contract with other bodies for provision of relevant courses. It will be open to VECs and Institutes of Technology to bid for the provision of appropriate courses. All of these organisations are working together at both national and local level to ensure that both the education and training sectors respond in an optimal way to the situation we are currently facing.

School Patronage.

Ruairí Quinn

Ceist:

21 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Education and Science his views on whether a person (details supplied) is fit to remain as patron of the primary schools in their diocese in view of their failure to adequately report clerical child sexual abuse which occurred in their diocese; if he is satisfied that there are adequate measures of protection for children attending the schools of which they are the patron; the number of schools and pupils under their patronage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7937/09]

I have already commented publicly in relation to this matter. I have made the point that the patronage of Catholic schools in a diocese rests ex officio with the person who is Bishop of that diocese at any particular point in time. In response to media queries as to whether I considered that the Bishop concerned should resign from his office I expressed that it was a matter for the Bishop and the church authorities. Under the Education Act , 1998 the day to day management of primary schools, including the need to ensure that adequate child protection procedures are in place, is a matter for the Board of Management of a primary school as distinct from the Patron.

My Department has issued child protection guidelines and procedures to all schools. The guidelines are based on Children First — the Department of Health & Children's national guidelines for the protection and welfare of children. The Children First guidelines make very clear the reporting and investigation mechanisms to be followed in cases of suspected child abuse wherever they occur, and the lead role of the HSE. The guidelines for schools require each board of management to designate a senior member of staff, normally the principal, as the Designated Liaison Person (DLP) for the school. The DLP acts as a liaison person with the health authorities and other agencies on child protection issues and as a resource person to any staff member who has concerns in this regard. My Department's records indicate that there are over 120 primary schools within the diocese concerned serving approximately 18,000 pupils.

Residential Institutions Redress Scheme.

Mary Upton

Ceist:

22 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Education and Science when each property was transferred to State ownership in respect of the 64 individual properties, which were included in the indemnity agreement reached with the religious congregations in 2002; the properties which have since been sold; if sold, the amount for which each property was sold; the use and status of all of the properties remaining in State ownership; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7906/09]

Under the terms of the Indemnity Agreement reached with the Religious Congregations on the 5th June, 2002, the Congregations agreed to make a contribution of €128 million towards the cost of the Redress Scheme. This sum was broken down as follows:

Property Transfers — €76.86m;

Cash Contribution — €41.14m;

Provision of Counselling Services — €10.00m.

In actual terms, whilst the overall figure of €128 million has not altered, the form in which it has or is to be transferred to the State has altered somewhat in terms of the property and cash contributions. The alterations to the agreed amounts have occurred where the State agreed to accept and has since received cash in lieu of properties to the value of €10.86 million. Hence, the breakdown of the contributions under the Indemnity Agreement is now as follows:

Property Transfers — €66m;

Cash Contributions — €52m;

Provision of Counselling Services — €10m.

As a result of the Indemnity Agreement, the Department has agreed in principle with CORI that a total of 64 properties would be accepted subject to good and marketable title and agreed valuations. In 2008 the Department accepted and received a cash sum (€101,600.00) in lieu of a property where good and marketable title could not be established thereby reducing the number of properties to 63. All cash contributions have been received as well as Counselling to the value of €10 million.

All the 63 properties which are subject to the Indemnity Agreement, with the exception of two, are in use or available for use by the intended recipients. Of the 63 properties, 30 are transferring to the HSE, 15 to my Department, 1 to the OPW and the remaining 17 to various voluntary bodies. These properties were earmarked for specific use by state bodies and charitable organisations for various health, education and social purposes. In the case of 44 of the properties, the properties have transferred to the intended recipients.

At 31st December 2008, good and marketable title has been established on 20 of these properties, they have been fully transferred and there are no outstanding issues. The total value of these properties is €26,790,575. One of these properties, which transferred to the HSE, was subsequently sold by the HSE in 2005, a transaction to which my Department was not a party. I can confirm that this is the only one of the total portfolio of redress properties which has been sold. A further 24 properties with a total value of €17,699,255 have been transferred to third parties who are in occupation and have the use of them but there are some outstanding legal formalities to satisfy the conditions of the Indemnity Agreement.

Finally there are 19 properties at various stages in the legal transfer process. Documents continue to be forwarded to the Chief State Solicitor's Office (CSSO) on an ongoing basis and until all of the required documents are received, good and marketable title cannot be fully established by the State. The CSSO has experienced delays in processing certain cases but, in all instances, continues to correspond with the legal representatives of those concerned in an effort to iron out any difficulties being encountered. As many of the Congregations' properties were held in complex legal structures including trusts and other legal arrangements the process of transferring these properties is complex and time consuming. In order to accelerate the process, Department officials have met the Congregations involved to request their assistance and this has resulted in significant progress. Arising from these discussions arrangements were made with the congregations for continued bilateral communication to overcome any difficulties emerging from the process.

Meetings are continuing between the Department, the Attorney General's office and the Chief State Solicitor's Office in order to finalise the legal transfer of the remaining properties. Department officials are continuing to engage with the Religious Congregations, the HSE and various voluntary bodies in order to complete the final legal transfer of the outstanding properties.

Departmental Reports.

Joe Costello

Ceist:

23 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Education and Science if his Department is carrying out a survey on the teaching activities of staff in the university sector; if it has been done by the staff of his Department or within the universities themselves; if it is by way of questionnaire or interview; if he will provide a copy of the questionnaire used to conduct this survey; the terms of reference for this survey; if and when the results will be published in full; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7919/09]

As the Deputy is aware, I recently announced the launch of a process to develop a new national strategy for higher education. The process will be overseen by a high level steering group, chaired by economist Dr Colin Hunt and comprising national and international expertise including academic, business, community and student interests, as well as senior government officials. It is expected that the group will complete its work before the end of the year.

The process will afford a timely opportunity to review the environment for higher education and the challenges and changes that are impacting on the sector. An examination of the overall operational, governance and resourcing framework will be important elements of the strategy review. The government is investing unprecedented levels of public funding in higher education and it is appropriate to look at the effectiveness of use of current resources, identify any potential for rationalisation or change to maximise the use of those resources and identify how any additional resource requirements can be met having particular regard to the difficult budgetary and economic climate that is in prospect in the medium term. My Department has not at this stage conducted a survey in the area referred to by the Deputy.

Industrial Relations.

Ciaran Lynch

Ceist:

24 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Education and Science if the discussions between his Department and the various other bodies at the Teachers Conciliation Council have concluded; the outcome of these discussions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7928/09]

The Teachers Conciliation Council is the recognised forum for dealing with matters relating to pay and conditions of service of teachers. The parties to the forum include representatives of the managerial authorities of schools, the teacher unions and the Departments of Education and Science and Finance. Discussions in relation to the matter raised by the Deputy are due to commence shortly under the auspices of the Teachers Conciliation Council. As the proceedings of the Conciliation Council are confidential it would not be appropriate for me to make any further comment at this time.

Student Support Schemes.

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

25 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Science if the delay in passing the Student Support Bill 2008 is due to the fact that he no longer considers the proposed system of 33 vocational education committees administering the grant system as an inefficient use of resources; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7933/09]

The Student Support Bill concluded Second Stage in the Dáil on the 30th April 2008. A number of amendments are currently being considered, arising from a review of the Bill following the Second Stage debate and further consultations since publication. I hope to have these amendments finalised with a view to progressing to Committee Stage in the current Parliamentary session. The passage of the Bill will facilitate progress on the development of regulations for a single unified grant scheme. The Department is working closely with the IVEA and other relevant stakeholders to develop the new administrative structures required to support more efficient and effective delivery of the new scheme.

Higher Education Grants.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

26 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science, further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 603 and 604 of 17 December 2008, the results of the survey of the 66 local authorities and vocational educational committees in respect of the status of applications for higher education grants; the figures for the recoupments made in respect of the 2008/09 academic year in relation to the allocation of funds for higher education grants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7911/09]

My Department funds four maintenance grant schemes for third level and further education students. The Higher Education Grants Scheme is administered by the local authorities. The other three schemes are administered by the Vocational Education Committees. In January each year my Department carries out a survey of the 66 local authorities and VECs in respect of the status of applications. The survey indicates, on a specified date, the number of applications received, the number of grants awarded, the number refused a grant and the status of other applications on hand. To date, 91% of the survey returns have been received in respect of applications for student grants for the academic year 2008/09. On receipt of the outstanding forms the details will be analysed.

€264m was spent on maintenance grants in respect of students attending further and higher education courses in the 2008 financial year, of which €231m related to higher education courses. This allocation spans two academic years — the second and third recoupments of the 2007/08 academic year and the first recoupments of the 2008/09 academic year. The first recoupments of the 2008/09 academic year in respect of higher education grants amounted to €98.6m

Student Councils.

Pat Rabbitte

Ceist:

27 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Education and Science the name of each post-primary school which has established a student council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7929/09]

Section 27 of the Education Act, 1998 provides that students of a post-primary school may establish a student council and that Boards of Management in schools shall facilitate and give all reasonable assistance to student councils. My Department understands that student councils have been established in the majority of post-primary schools and that the remaining schools are in the process of establishing councils. The name of each post-primary school which has established a student council is not readily available as my Department does not have a detailed audit of the position. As part of Whole School Inspection the Inspectorate engages with the student council of the school and where there is no council they recommend that a council should be established.

Teachers’ Remuneration.

Liz McManus

Ceist:

28 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Education and Science if his Department has been able to integrate part-time teachers onto his Department’s teachers payroll system; if the payroll system has the ability to pay arrears to teachers based on past service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7907/09]

I would like to assure the Deputy that my Department has been very aware of the issues raised in relation to the adjustments to pay due to certain part-time teachers under the Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act, 2001 and has worked closely with the school management bodies and teacher unions to ensure that the legislation is implemented and applied to teachers in a fair and consistent manner. My Department has already made the pay adjustments and paid arrears for the majority of part-time teachers, including substitute teachers and part-time teachers in secondary and Community/ Comprehensive schools and substitute teachers in primary schools, that are on the payrolls it directly administers. These groups of teachers are integrated into the payroll systems.

The group of part-time teachers that have still to receive adjusted pay and arrears are those employed on a part-time basis by individual Boards of Management of primary schools. Currently a grant system operates, which allows the Boards to claim from my Department, the funding required to pay these teachers. The Boards of Management pay the part-time teachers directly. Under the terms of the Protection of Employees (Part-time Work) Act, 2001, qualified eligible part-time teachers are entitled to be paid salary appropriate to their qualifications and to receive incremental credit in respect of relevant teaching service.

In order to ensure that the terms of this Act could be applied to any part-time teachers paid directly by school boards, my Department took the view that the best approach was to extend the central payroll process which is in place for all other teachers in primary, secondary and community and comprehensive schools rather than persist with the practice of having boards pay them directly. This approach would ensure that the teachers concerned could get full credit for their overall service where they served part-time in more than one school.

My Department collected the data necessary to place the part-time resource teachers on the centralised payroll recently. The new payroll is being developed and will be introduced from 1 September 2009 and arrears will be paid by November 2009. It is expected that approximately one thousand additional part-time resource teachers will be paid on the payroll when it is introduced.

School Transport.

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

29 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount his Department spends per annum on the provision of taxis to transport children with special needs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7926/09]

A breakdown of expenditure on taxis is not readily available. This type of transport provision will be considered for some children with special needs for whom the general school transport arrangements are unsuitable. Approximately 30% of the expenditure for school transport is being expended on transport, including taxis and grants (mainly escorts) for children with special needs. The provisional outturn of expenditure for school transport in 2008 is €185.725 million. This year's allocation is €196 million.

The number of taxis engaged in the past years has increased from about 250 in 2004 to over 700 in 2008. Some of these taxis would be catering for more than one pupil. In addition grants were paid to over 440 families who use their private vehicles to transport children with special needs to an educational centre. The cost of employing escorts to cater for children with special needs, whose care requirements are such as to necessitate continuous support, has increased significantly in line with the growth in that service. At present, there are about 1,300 escorts employed at an annual cost of about €15 million.

School Accommodation.

Emmet Stagg

Ceist:

30 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Education and Science his views on allowing boards of management to re-direct funding from his Department which is used for renting prefabs to secure a mortgage in order to build permanent classrooms; his views on whether this would ultimately be a better use of taxpayers money and create employment at a time of deepening economic recession; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7935/09]

Almost €4.5bn has been allocated to the school building programme under the current National Development Plan (2007-2013). Value for money is a key criterion in the implementation of the school building programme and competitive tendering, in line with public procurement procedures, ensures that this is achieved. As I have indicated publicly, the current decline in activity in the construction industry is an opportunity for my Department to continue to pursue value for money in the procurement and construction of school buildings. Issues relating to the acceleration of the school building programme must have regard to current financial circumstances and cannot be considered in isolation.

As part of my Department's review of rental policy, it was determined that if prefabs are going to be required for more than 3 years, then purchasing them represents better value for money than renting them. Accordingly, a policy instruction was issued in 2008 to staff processing such requests to approve the purchase rather than the rental of prefabricated accommodation if a period of more than 3 years is envisaged. In July of 2008, I introduced a further innovation which allows those schools with an urgent and pressing need for additional accommodation which is likely to last for more than 3 years, and who are being given approval for grant aid, to avail of the option of using their grants either to purchase prefabs or to construct permanent classrooms for the same amount. This avoids the need for schools to borrow money to provide such accommodation.

School Transport.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

31 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Science the status of his review of school transport catchment boundaries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7756/09]

I am pleased to advise the Deputy that the Steering Committee to oversee the Value for Money Review of the School Transport Scheme has been established. The review of the School Transport Scheme, including catchment boundaries, is in line with the commitment in the Programme for Government. The review will be carried out as part of the 2009-2011 round of Value for Money Reviews recently approved by Government and, when completed, will be published and submitted to the Oireachtas Select Committee on Education and Science.

School Accommodation.

Ciaran Lynch

Ceist:

32 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Education and Science if the forward planning section of his Department has completed identifying the areas in which additional school accommodation will be required at primary and post-primary level; if he will provide a copy of the section’s report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7927/09]

Forward Planning Section of my Department is continuing the process of identifying the areas where significant additional accommodation will be required at primary and post-primary levels for 2009 and onwards. Factors under consideration include population growth, demographic trends, current and projected enrolments, recent and planned housing developments and capacity of existing schools to meet demand for places. Having considered these factors decisions will be taken on the means by which emerging needs will be met within specific areas.

Early Childhood Education.

Kathleen Lynch

Ceist:

33 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Education and Science if his Department is working with charities or bodies to develop or open new early education centres like the one recently opened in Knocknaheeny, County Cork; the location where and when these additional early education centres are planned to be built; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7909/09]

My Department's main interventions in Early Years have been targeted towards children who experience disadvantage or who have special needs. The intervention programmes in place for pre-school children include Early Start, pre-schools for Travellers, the Rutland St project and an early intervention programme for children with autism.

Government Investment in Early Years education is instead taking place through the National Childcare Investment Programme (NCIP) 2006-2010 which is the successor programme to the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme 2000-2006. This programme is administered by the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. The NCIP aims to deliver a further 10,000 pre-school places by 2010. Under the social inclusion measure of the NCIP, priority for funding for childcare facilities is given to applications with the highest focus on disadvantage. This can be demonstrated by reference to the socio-demographic profile of the area, the parent profile of the service, and admissions and fees policies. Groups applying for funding are also asked to state their policies on meeting the needs of children with special needs, lone parents, immigrant families, and other groups at risk of social exclusion. Childcare facilities which demonstrate that they will support pre-school services for schools designated as disadvantaged under DEIS are prioritised. Similarly, pre-school services involved in the integration of Traveller children are also prioritised. Being located in a region covered by the RAPID, CLAR or DEIS programmes is also a factor in assessing and prioritising a community capital project in terms of its impact on social inclusion.

My Department's role is to improve the quality of educational provision in childcare settings. This is a key tenet set out in the White Paper ‘Ready to Learn'. The quality improvement initiatives include:

1. The publication and commencement of revised Preschool Regulations (Department of Health and Children, 2006)

2. The development of Síolta, the national quality framework for early childhood education (Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education) — a comprehensive set of practice guidelines for all settings where children aged birth to six years are present.

3. The development of a framework for Early Learning (National Council for Curriculum and Assessment) — designed to bring greater coherence to early educational experiences in all ECEC settings.

4. The commencement of a national longitudinal research programme ‘Growing up in Ireland' — designed to provide greater insight into the lives of children in Ireland with a view to improving effectiveness of policymaking and service provision.

5. Development of a National Childcare Training Strategy — designed to create an infrastructure that will encourage and support the development of a suitably qualified ECEC workforce.

While the early education centre in Knockaheeny was established by Barnardos, with their partners the Bon Secours Foundation, the Centre is receiving funding through the Community Childcare Subvention Scheme (CCSS) under the NCIP. The CCSS scheme has a strong focus on disadvantage. My Department will not be setting up a separate infrastructure for Early Years centres but will continue to work within the existing infrastructure on quality improvement measures.

Educational Disadvantage.

Joanna Tuffy

Ceist:

34 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason he is withdrawing the rural co-ordinator from a school (details supplied) in County Donegal even though it has DEIS status; the difference between rural schools and urban schools in the DEIS scheme; the reason this school is viewed as a non-DEIS school for the purposes of this cutback even though it is a DEIS school in every other respect; if the grant paid in lieu of this cutback will be sufficient to hire a learning support teacher; if he will reverse this decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7918/09]

Following the introduction of DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunities in Schools), a commitment was given, as a concessionary measure, to Non DEIS schools in receipt of resources under pre-existing schemes, including the Rural Coordinator service, that they would retain a level of support in line with their size and disadvantage levels for the duration of the DEIS Initiative. Unfortunately, given the current volatile and challenging economic climate, difficult choices had to be made in order to contain public sector spending. One of these decisions is the withdrawal of the Rural Co-ordinator services from all NON DEIS schools with effect from September 2009.

Consequently, it has been necessary to re-cluster some DEIS schools which were sharing posts with Non DEIS schools to date. I am pleased to advise that the DEIS school referred to by the Deputy will be included in a new cluster of schools with effect from 1 September 2009 and will continue to benefit from the services of a Rural Coordinator. The school was advised of this new arrangement on 12 February 2009.

In relation to the supports available under the DEIS programme, the following supports are available to both urban and rural DEIS schools:

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

financial allocation to support the operation of a school book rental scheme;

access to the School Meals Programme;

access to Home School Community Liaison or Rural Co-ordinator services — access to planning supports.

In addition to this, urban DEIS schools also benefit from:

reduced class size of 20:1 in junior classes and 24:1 in senior classes (Band 1 urban schools only);

allocation of administrative principal on lower enrolment and staffing figures than apply in primary schools generally;

access to literacy/numeracy supports such as Reading Recovery, First Steps, Maths Recovery;

access to the School Completion Programme.

Public Service Pension Levy.

Brian O'Shea

Ceist:

35 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Education and Science if the proposed public service pension levy will apply to school caretakers and school secretaries even though neither are entitled to a public service pension due to the terms and conditions they receive from his Department; his views on whether the application of the levy to the salaries of these employees would be profoundly unjust; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7914/09]

The public service pensions-related deduction applies to public servants working in public service bodies who contribute to a pension scheme, or who receive a payment in lieu of such a contribution. Those secretaries and caretakers who are members of a public service contributory pension scheme will be affected by the measure. However, employees who do not contribute to a pension scheme will not be affected by the public service pensions-related deduction.

Psychological Service.

Sean Sherlock

Ceist:

36 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Education and Science, further to Parliamentary Question No. 240 of 13 November 2008, his views on expanding the role of the National Educational Psychological Service to include assessing children to determine their eligibility for concessions at third level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7903/09]

Access to higher education for people with disabilities has increased in recent years. It is estimated that 4.2% of all new entrants to higher education have one or more disabilities [1]. While the majority of applicants to higher education with a disability receive an offer for entry to higher education through the normal CAO route and do not require any points concessions, it is important that these students have access to the appropriate assessment service.

The National Council for Special Education has responsibility for developing disability services to students in primary and secondary level education. Therefore a majority of students with a disability will have been assessed prior to entry into higher education. Access and disability staff in higher education institutions will assist in whatever way they can to ensure that those who have not been assessed have access to the relevant services.

A report from the Higher Education Authority in 2005 (Progressing the Action Plan: Funding to achieve equity of access to higher education) recommended that a model for a regionally-based service should be developed to ensure that all students enrolling in higher education have access to a needs assessment service. Following this recommendation a project, led by Athlone Institute of Technology, was approved funding from the Strategic Innovation Fund for the development of a Needs Assessment Centre which would cater for the assessment needs of people with disabilities. This project is currently being implemented.

In relation to the expansion of the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) the Deputy will be aware that all primary and post primary schools have access to psychological assessments either directly through my Department's National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) or through the Scheme for Commissioning Psychological Assessments (SCPA) which is administered by NEPS. He will also be aware that I was pleased to announce recently, in the context of Budget 2009, an increase in the funding available to NEPS with which it is envisaged that up to 50 further psychologists can be appointed. The primary focus of NEPS is on early intervention strategies to leverage maximum benefit for students, particularly those with special needs. It is envisaged that this expansion in NEPS psychologists will be used in the first instance to ensure that a NEPS psychologist is assigned to every primary and post-primary school and that a level of enhancement of service will be afforded to Special Needs Units and schools.

In addition, the NEPS service provides recommendations to the State Examinations Commission on applications for reasonable accommodations under the RACE scheme for over 3,000 Leaving Certificate students annually.

[1] HEA. Higher Education Key Facts and Figures 2007/08. Figure based on the response rate of 26 higher education institutions via the Equal Access Data Collection process.

An Béaltriail Ghaeilge.

Dinny McGinley

Ceist:

37 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Dinny McGinley den Aire Oideachais agus Eolaíochta an bhfuil moltaí faighte aige ón CNCM i dtaobh chur i bhfeidhm struchtúr nua don bhéaltriail Ghaeilge i scrúdú na hardteistiméireachta agus an teastais shóisearaigh; má tá, an bhfuil impleachtaí sna moltaí sin do na hathruithe atá molta sa chóras marcála don Ghaeilge sna scrúduithe sin atá le cur i bhfeidhm ó mhí Mheán Fómhair 2009 i leith; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [7892/09]

Táim tar éis moladh na Comhairle Náisiúnta Curaclaim agus Measúnachta a fháil maidir le himpleachtaí an chinnidh na marcanna don bhéaltriail i nGaeilge insna scrúduithe teastais a mhéadú go dtí 40% do na hiontrálaithe nua uile a thosaigh a gcuid iarbhunscolaíochta i 2007. Ag leibhéal an Teastais Shóisearaigh, níl athruithe sa siollabas molta os rud é go gcuireann an clár béim láidir ar labhairt na teanga agus ar inniúlacht chumarsáide. Tá roinnt athruithe molta i bhformáid na scrúdaithe. Tá Coimisiún na Scrúduithe Stáit ag iniúchadh an mholta seo agus tá sé ag ullmhú sonraíochta athbhreithnithe don bhéaltriail dheonach, agus ag ullmhú páipéar samplach athbhreithnithe lena n-eisiúint do scoileanna ag tosach na scoilbhliana 2009/10.

Ag leibhéal na hArdteistiméireachta, táthar tar éis moladh na Comhairle a fháil chomh maith. Tá athruithe ar fhormáid agus ar fhad na scrúduithe molta agus tá an Chomhairle ag coinne le hathruithe sa siollabas a bheith ag teastáil chomh maith. Tá obair ag dul ar aghaidh ar an siollabas laistigh de struchtúir na Comhairle faoi láthair le súil go mbeidh sí críochnaithe ag deireadh Bhealtaine 2009. Beidh feidhm ag na hathruithe seo ag scrúdú na hArdteistiméireachta 2012.

Tríd is tríd, tá cúraim áirithe curtha in iúl ag an gComhairle maidir leis an ualú athraithe don mheasúnú béil, cluastuisceana agus scríofa, cúraim a bhain leis an ualú seo gan a bheith i gcomhréir leis na nuatheangacha eile ar an gcuraclam ná leis an gcleachtas idirnáisiúnta. Tá raon tuairiscí, áfach, tar éis béim a chur ar an riachtanas le bearta suntasacha a chur i gcrích chun láidriú le húsáid na Gaeilge chun críoch cumarsáide insan phobal. Níl aon easpa fianaise ann go mbíonn tionchar mór ag an saghas measúnaithe atá ann ar an rud a mhúintear agus ar an mbealach ina múintear é insna scoileanna, agus ba cheart go misneodh na marcanna méadaithe do na béaltrialacha béim níos mó ar inniúlacht bhéil sa rangsheomra. Táthar tar éis seirbhís tacaíochta a bhunú chun cabhrú le scoileanna agus iad ag cur na modhanna athbhreithnithe do mhúineadh na Gaeilge i bhfeidhm.

Creidim go bhfuil sé riachtanach go mbeadh athruithe measúnaithe ann chun athrú béime i dtreo na Gaeilge mar theanga labhartha a chur chun cinn, má táimid chun an Ghaeilge a choinneáil mar theanga beo pobail. Pléifidh oifigigh de chuid mo Roinne na ceisteanna atá ardaithe a thuilleadh leis an gComhairle agus le Coimisiún na Scrúduithe Stáit.

Schools Building Projects.

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

38 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Science, further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 1520, 1521, 1522 and 1523 of 27 January 2009, if his Department has signed the formal contracts to build these schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7934/09]

The schools referred to by the Deputy make up the first bundle of schools to be procured under my Department's current Public Private Partnership (PPP) Programme. Macquarie Partnership for Ireland (MPFI) has been selected as the preferred tenderer for the provision of this Bundle. The National Development Finance Agency, who are responsible for the procurement phase, has almost finalised all the necessary contractual details with MPFI. The contracts cannot be signed until all the details have been finalised.

Language Support Services.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

39 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Science the steps he is taking to improve the standard of language education and competency for migrant pupils in the primary and post-primary sectors respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7757/09]

In 2007/2008 some €120m was needed to provide for the English language support teachers in our primary and post-primary schools. Standards are not simply achieved by supplying teaching resources. I recognise that the quality of the supports that children receive and the inclusive atmosphere cultivated in schools are important factors influencing the quality of learning obtained by newcomer children. The Inspectorate of the Department of Education and Science is evaluating the effectiveness of provision of English as an additional language in a number of primary and post-primary schools. This evaluation is currently underway in a number of primary and post-primary schools and is designed to:

Evaluate the quality of teaching and learning of English as an additional language which students receive in mainstream education and in support contexts;

Establish the quality of whole-school planning and school self-review that is undertaken to include students in the school, and to review the extent to which this planning reflects the principles of inclusion and respect for cultural diversity;

Review the progress which these students are making in oral competency, literacy and numeracy;

Identify good practice with regard to EAL provision in schools and seek to disseminate this good practice generally;

Identify areas where the work of schools, teachers and the system of supports that the Department of Education and Science administers could be improved.

The data from the evaluations in the individual schools is currently being analysed and a national composite report is being prepared by the Inspectorate. This report will, I hope, provide valuable reflections and analysis about how schools and the Department of Education and Science can improve the quality of EAL provision. In addition, materials have been provided to schools to raise awareness of cultural diversity and to support all staff in schools in addressing this issue effectively. The Intercultural Guidelines prepared by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment help to ensure that both primary and post-primary schools are equipped to provide a welcoming, inclusive and supporting environment for newcomer children.

The assessment of the individual needs of pupils and the regular monitoring of the progress that they are making are key factors in ensuring that the school provides the most appropriate supports to the students. To assist schools in this work, the Department of Education and Science has supplied a language assessment kit for primary level and a post-primary kit has just recently been distributed to schools. The Department is supporting their use through training of teachers. Training is in place at primary level and in-service seminars are currently being delivered across the country. Training for post-primary English language support teachers commenced this January.

The Department of Education and Science recognises that we must monitor and review the educational experiences that are provided to newcomer students so that we can improve the quality and effectiveness of our provision and is, therefore, undertaking a range of research to consider the question of integration in schools. The ESRI will shortly finalise a research report on "Managing Diversity", looking at newcomer students in primary and post-primary schools. This research is based on case study interviews and responses to questionnaires from some 1,200 primary and post-primary schools. Ireland is also taking part in an OECD thematic review on migrant education, results from which are expected this autumn. Together with the other key participants in the study (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Austria and the Netherlands) the review is exploring what are the best education options for our children in an inclusive Ireland.

The Department of Education and Science is also conducting a value for money review of English as an Additional Language in primary and post-primary schools. The review is expected to be completed in autumn 2009. The Department has consulted extensively on the development of an intercultural education strategy which is to be finalised by the end of 2009. The research findings and the responses to the consultation process will provide the evidence based data required to prepare the strategy. This multi-pronged approach that is being taken will help to ensure that the standard of language education and competency for migrant students in the primary and the post-primary sectors respectively are continually evaluated and improved, within available budgetary resources.

State Examinations.

Joe Costello

Ceist:

40 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Education and Science if the State Examinations Commission has had problems recruiting a sufficient number of examiners to conduct the leaving certificate oral tests in Spanish and Italian; the financial arrangements offered to potential examiners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7920/09]

The State Examinations Commission has statutory responsibility for operational matters relating to the certificate examinations, including organising the holding of examinations, making arrangements for the marking of work presented for examination and issuing the results of examinations. In view of this, I have forwarded the Deputy's query to the State Examinations Commission for direct reply to him.

Appointments to State Boards.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

41 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Science, further to Parliamentary Question No. 1465 of 27 January 2009, the number of retired officials and inspectors from his Department who have been appointed to various boards in which his Department can make such appointments; the number of appointments made in the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7932/09]

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

School Curriculum.

Deirdre Clune

Ceist:

42 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Education and Science the steps he has taken to fulfil the commitment in the programme for Government to provide second level students the opportunity to acquire an ECDL qualification in computers by the time they leave second level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7957/09]

As the Deputy will be aware the curriculum in schools is devised on the basis that ICT is not a subject but rather a tool to be integrated into the teaching and learning of all subjects. The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment has developed an ICT framework which sets out a structured approach to ICT in curriculum and assessment. The Framework sets out the types of learning appropriate for students during the period of compulsory education and provides a guide to teachers for embedding ICT across the curriculum. It is being supported by the NCCA's Action website which provides exemplars of teaching and learning in different settings and shows the classroom application of learning outcomes and demonstrations in the ICT framework. The overall implementation of the ICT in Schools Programme is supported by the National Centre for Technology in Education, which provides for extensive training and guidance for schools on the integration of ICT into teaching and learning.

The European Computer Driving Licence is a widely used private sector qualification providing basic competences in a range of functions such as word processing, spreadsheet, database, presentation, web browsing and e-mail. The 2005 census of post-primary schools undertaken by the National Centre for Technology in Education indicates that 74% of post primary schools offered external certification in ICT, primarily using ECDL. Other awards in ICT offered included FETAC, City and Guilds, Royal Society of Arts, Microsoft, etc. The Evaluation Report, ICT in Schools, undertaken by my Department's Inspectorate found that some 70% of post-primary schools surveyed provided ECDL courses for their students, while 28% provided FETAC courses.

Youthreach Programme.

Emmet Stagg

Ceist:

43 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Education and Science the duties and responsibilities assigned to resource staff employed by Youthreach; the pay scales used to pay such staff; the way their duties and responsibilities are different from those of ordinary teachers; his views on whether, in many cases, resource staff do similar jobs to teachers and often have their performances measured alongside teachers yet are on different pay scales; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7936/09]

Youthreach provides two years integrated education, training and work experience to young people aged 15-20 years who have left school early without any qualifications or vocational training. It is provided in an out of school setting and centres operate for 226 days per year. There are around 6,500 places available nationally under the Youthreach umbrella. 3,700 of these are funded by my Department and delivered in just over 100 centres by Vocational Education Committees (VECs). The majority of the remaining 2,800 places are funded by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and delivered in Community Training Centres by FÁS.

Youthreach posts are not advertised as teaching posts and teaching qualifications are not required for employment in Youthreach centres. Each centre must have a Co-ordinator who manages the centre and at least one Resource Person. Resource Persons are recruited to work in Youthreach and are responsible to the centre Co-ordinator on a day to day basis for the delivery of the Youthreach programme. Their pay and conditions were set out in a 1998 Adjudication Board determination and these were revised in 2005 as part of a Productivity Agreement. They are required to work 35 hours per week, with direct class contact in keeping with programme needs as required by the VEC subject to a maximum of 20 hours per week. The balance is spent on administrative duties.

The duties of a Resource Person in Youthreach include: work with centre management in the planning, delivery and evaluation of appropriate responses to education and training needs; work with centre management to agree and implement a centre development plan and conduct an internal centre evaluation process; direct class contact; curriculum development and delivery; maintenance of discipline; development and monitoring of the programme; assessment and monitoring of learners' course work; conducting interviews of learners; provide locally agreed substitution cover for absent staff and supervise learners as necessary during lunch breaks and at opening and closing of the centre; general administrative duties and to deputise when necessary for the Co-ordinator. The latest pay scale (as at 1st September 2008) for Youthreach Resource Person is as follows:

1 €31,652

2 €33,718

3 €35,792

4 €37,870

5 €39,955

6 €42,042

7 €44,137

8 €46,238

9 €48,342

10 €50,456

11 €52,716

LSI 1 €54,593

LSI 2 €56,473

Schools Building Projects.

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

44 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Science if, in view of his claims that capital school building projects can be re-tendered to get better value for money, the savings produced will be used to build additional schools which have been awaiting funds from the school building unit or if the savings will be reallocated elsewhere; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7915/09]

The savings accruing from the projects that are being re-tendered under the new form of contracts for public capital projects to get better value for money will be used to fund other projects. As the Deputy will be aware, I have made a number of announcements in recent months regarding major projects to proceed to tender and ultimately construction. These announcements included 25 major projects in September 2009 and a further 53 projects in January and February of this year. The original allocation for school building in 2009 of €581m has recently been increased by €75m. This represents a significant investment in the school building and modernisation programme. It is my intention that the full allocation will be expended on school infrastructure this year.

Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme.

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

45 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason his Department has ordered a college (details supplied) in County Sligo to reduce the number of students enrolled in the college in view of the exceptional efforts of the college to train and skill so many people on a budget which is designed for a far lower number of students; the way he will offer re-training for the increasing number of unemployed people here, if his Department intends interfering with the successful operation of educational institutions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7916/09]

The Deputy's question relates to the Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS) programme in the college to which the Deputy refers. There are 5,000 places on VTOS nationwide, funded by my Department and operated by Vocational Education Committees (VECs). The funding allocated by my Department to VECs for the VTOS programme is for the pay of teaching staff, participant allowances and other non-pay costs and is allocated based on the number of approved places. The VEC can then allocate those places to the various VTOS providers within its area. In this case, my Department became aware that the number of enrolments significantly exceeded the number of approved places. My Department contacted the relevant VEC to inform them that funding could only be provided for the number of approved places and the VEC undertook to address the matter.

Public Service Pension Levy.

Michael D. Higgins

Ceist:

46 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount his Department estimates will be saved by the introduction of the forthcoming pension levy on public sector workers within his Department and all other staff paid for out of his Department’s budget; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7923/09]

It is estimated that net expenditure on the Education & Science Vote will be reduced by €331m as a result of the introduction of the Pension Levy on 1 March, 2009.

School Accommodation.

Pat Rabbitte

Ceist:

47 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of schools in each county which are entirely composed of prefabricated buildings; the reason his Department is reluctant to create a statistical profile of the school building infrastructure in order to ensure an efficient use of State resources; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7930/09]

The information sought by the Deputy is not readily available. Following a survey of over 900 schools across the country my Department has set up a database giving details regarding their use of prefabricated accommodation. The information gathered does not specify whether the accommodation in individual schools is entirely made up of temporary buildings.

The Deputy will be aware that demand for additional accommodation in schools has risen significantly over the last number of years, with the appointment of 6,000 extra teachers in the primary sector alone since 2002. The overall policy goal is to ensure the highest standard of permanent accommodation for all schools. However, in the context of a rapidly increasing school population, the necessity to put additional accommodation in place in a short time frame, and competing pressure on the capital budget available to my Department, it is necessary to make use of temporary accommodation in order to meet accommodation needs in some circumstances.

It should be noted that the Department did undertake, as a pilot project, the development of an extensive inventory of building stock in County Kildare in 2002. While this proved useful, the costs associated with not only maintaining that single Inventory but also rolling it out nationwide would have been prohibitive. I want to assure the Deputy that my Department is not reluctant to expand the information it holds on the school building stock. A full inventory of the stock of school accommodation across the country would undoubtedly be a useful tool in order to assist in forecasting accommodation needs into the future as well as other decision making processed.

The Department's recently commissioned Geographical Information System (GIS) is being used to collate all relevant population and school enrolment data in order to identify future enrolment trends at both primary and post-primary levels from 2009 onwards. It is envisaged that the full inventory of school building stock, when developed, would form another important layer of data to be used within the GIS system for forward planning purposes. We are looking at ways of developing our information systems but progress will be limited by resources available both in the Planning and Building Unit and for further development of IT systems.

School Curriculum.

Deirdre Clune

Ceist:

48 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for Education and Science his views on the report of the expert group on future skills needs regarding the level of achievement in mathematics amongst Irish students; if he will implement the recommendations of the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7956/09]

The OECD PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) 2006 survey of 15 years olds across 40 countries showed that Ireland's mean score in mathematics was not significantly different from the OECD average. We ranked 16th of 30 OECD countries and 22nd of 57 countries. There were fewer lower achievers and higher achievers than the OECD average, with the majority of pupils scoring in the mid range of achievement. When performance levels for mathematics in 2006 are compared with those in 2000, there are no changes for Irish students. Ireland showed a high level of equity in achievement outcomes. This is evidenced by relatively small levels of "between school" variation and comparatively good standards among lower achievers.

I have recently launched a major initiative, Project Maths, designed to encourage better understanding of maths, to reinforce the practical relevance of maths to everyday life, and to ensure better continuity between primary and second level, and junior and senior cycle. The initiative started in 2008 and is being piloted in 24 schools. The curriculum changes will be phased in over three years and mainstreaming will begin in 2010, prefaced by a national programme of professional development for teachers beginning in 2009.

Project Maths will be supported by intensive investment in professional development for teachers. A Maths Support Team has been appointed and is currently supporting the project schools, as well as preparing for mainstream in-service development which will start in September 2009, followed by mainstream implementation starting in Sept 2010. Some €3m has been provided for the programme in 2009 and the investment will continue over a number of years, to at least 2013, in a rolling programme of reform.

I am aware of the calls for the introduction of bonus points for Higher Level Mathematics in the Leaving Certificate. Decisions on the award of points and admission criteria for entry to higher education programmes are, under legislation, a matter for the higher education institutions. My Department asked the Higher Education Authority to initiate a discussion across higher education institutions regarding the desirability or otherwise of awarding bonus points. The overall view emerging was that the introduction of bonus points was unlikely to dramatically increase uptake of Higher Level Maths. The Report of the Points Commission in 1999 considered the issue of bonus points and recommended against such an approach.

Providing bonus points could reinforce the perception that Maths is a difficult subject. It should be noted that when bonus points were removed in 1994 on foot of curricular reform, participation in Higher Level Maths increased. We can therefore conclude that curriculum reform has more impact than points in this area. Introducing bonus points would inevitably lead to similar demands in other subjects such as science. The education sector must cater for all students, and placing some subjects at a higher value, notwithstanding the importance of other sectors of the economy, and the abilities and interests and legitimate choices of students, could potentially be counterproductive to the overall interests of the system.

School Management.

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

49 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Science the arrangements and procedures which his Department has in place to facilitate small primary schools in rural areas to engage in clustering arrangements in order to maximise the efficient draw down of facilities and resources from his Department; the procedures which schools who want to participate in a clustering arrangement should follow and the responsibilities, roles and tasks which patrons, boards of management, school principals, parents’ associations and others within the community should adopt in order to maximise the benefits of primary school clusters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7925/09]

Clustering arrangements exist within the primary system for the sharing, in certain instances, of specific resources such as resource teaching posts and also rural coordinator support. While there are currently no formal arrangements for the sharing of general resources or facilities it is open to schools to enter into local arrangements themselves e.g. in relation to pooling of existing ancillary grants so as to improve their level of secretarial or caretaker provision. My Department remains open, of course, to considering any proposal from patrons or schools on other types of school clustering arrangements or inter-school co-operation that would result in improving the efficiency or effectiveness of existing levels of resources.

International Education Programmes.

Kathleen Lynch

Ceist:

50 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Education and Science, further to Parliamentary Question No. 475 of 16 December 2008, if the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland has responded to his assignment of responsibility for regulating international education programmes; when he expects the NQAI to begin to operate in this new regulatory capacity; if he will inform all the stakeholders involved in international education programmes here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7910/09]

Officials from my Department are engaged in discussions with the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI) to put in place arrangements for the Authority to assume responsibility in this area. It is intended that maintenance of the Internationalisation Register, a function currently undertaken by my Department, will be handed over before the end of 2009. In doing this, the NQAI will seek to strengthen the criteria for inclusion on the Register and ensure that such criteria complement the Authority's key functions in implementing the National Framework of Qualifications. All stakeholders will be informed of any changes in this area and, in particular, adequate notice will be given of the introduction of strengthened criteria.

Third Level Courses.

Sean Sherlock

Ceist:

51 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Education and Science his views on relaxing, on a once-off basis, the matriculation requirements for students (details supplied) who are repeating their leaving certificate with a view to pursuing medicine in university in view of the fact that some repeat students may not have been aware that their successful attempts at passing English, Irish or mathematics in previous years would preclude them from making a Central Applications Office application to the new graduate entry procedure for medicine courses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7904/09]

The Deputy refers to the new regime for admission to medicine in the universities which came into operation this year. To be eligible to study medicine one must now attain a minimum of 480 points in the Leaving Certificate and sit a special admissions test. A combination of the Leaving Certificate CAO points and the marks in the admission test determine one's placing in the competition. Moreover, the matriculation requirements (pass in Irish, English and Mathematics) and the CAO points must be achieved in a single sitting of the Leaving Certificate examination.

The admission requirements for any third level course are a matter for the relevant institution to determine independently and it would not be appropriate for the Minister to intervene in the arrangements, which in the case of medicine, was agreed by the representatives of the medical schools and approved by the Academic Councils of their respective institutions. Part of the rationale for the new entry mechanism is to alleviate the pressure that was on those students wishing to study medicine to achieve near perfect Leaving Certificate results. One of the factors driving the high points required for courses such as medicine was the incidence of students repeating the Leaving Certificate to gain sufficient points to obtain a place.

The practice had developed that once a student had met the basic matriculation requirements for medicine in one Leaving Certificate sitting they would elect to take other subjects, (sometimes perceived to be less difficult) in their repeat year, thereby increasing their chances of securing the points necessary. In any given year repeat students would obviously have an advantage over students doing the Leaving Certificate for the first time. The new entry requirement addresses this issue and is considered to be more advantageous in general to students than those it replaces. It is not open to the Minister to make an exception for repeat Leaving Cert students by exempting them from any of the new requirements. Such a move would also confer a fundamentally unfair advantage on such students over those sitting the Leaving Certificate for the first time in 2009.

Questions Nos. 52 and 53 answered with Question No. 16.

Third Level Fees.

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

54 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Education and Science his proposals in relation to the funding of the third level sector; if he proposes the reintroduction of third level fees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7207/09]

Liz McManus

Ceist:

60 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount of capital his Department envisages would be required to fund a loan scheme for students to attend third level education and pay the higher fees he intends to introduce; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7908/09]

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

61 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Education and Science his proposals in relation to the proposed reintroduction of third level fees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7860/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 54, 60 and 61 together.

The issue of the re-introduction of third level fees, to which the Deputies refer, should be viewed in the context of the wider funding of higher education. The Government is investing unprecedented levels of public funding in higher education. In 2009 some €2 billion is being invested in our third level sector. In contributing to the achievement of national policy goals for social and economic development into the future, it can be anticipated that there will be continuing significant resource needs for the sector. It is appropriate to raise questions around how future additional resource needs can be met and in particular how our higher education institutions can be supported in their development ambitions through a widening of their non-exchequer sources of income. The introduction of a form of student contribution is one possibility that merits debate.

My Department, with the assistance of the Higher Education Authority (HEA), is at present conducting a review of policy options relating to the introduction of a form of student contribution. In this regard a range of options are being examined, including possibilities for alternative means of imposing a student contribution such as an income contingent loans system. There are many complex and competing considerations including costs that will fall to be taken into account by the Government in considering the available options. It is my intention, following completion of the review currently underway, to bring proposals to Government in relation to the available options.

Scéimeanna Tógála Scoile.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

55 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin den Aire Oideachais agus Eolaíochta an bhfuil a fhios aige go bhfuil 60% de na Gaelscoileanna atá bunaithe le 25 bliana, fós ag fanacht le foirgneamh buan. Cé go bhfuil aitheantas buan ón Roinn Oideachais ag an gcuid is mó acu; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [7856/09]

Cuireann mo Roinn i bhfeidhm critéir fhoilsithe tosaíochta do leithdháileadh maoinithe caipitil chun freastal ar na héilimh iomadúla éagsúla ar a buiséad caipitil. Cuirtear ar aghaidh tionscadail chaipitil do na scoileanna uile, Gaelscoileanna san áireamh, de réir na gcritéar tosaíochta seo. Tá infheistíocht shuntasach déanta i bhfoirgnimh nua agus agus i dtionscadail sínte ar scála mór do Ghaelscoileanna sna blianta deireanacha seo. Mar shampla, i 2008, cuireadh ar fáil 7 bhfoirgneamh nua scoile don earnáil sin. Cuireadh ar fáil chomh maith 2 thionscadal sínte ar scála mór. Tá tionscadal eile d'fhoirgneamh nua ar an suíomh faoi láthair agus táthar ag súil go mbeidh an foirgneamh réidh le háitiú ann i Meán Fómhair 2009.

Ar 12 Feabhra, d'fhógair mé sonraí faoi 43 thionscadail mhóir a bheidh ag dul ar aghaidh chun tairisceana agus tógála i 2009. Is maith liom a chur in iúl don Teachta go n-áiríonn sé seo 4 thionscadal eile a chuirfidh foirgnimh nua ar fáil do Ghaelscoileanna. Ní héasca an tasc é na háiseanna i ngach ceann dár 3,200 bunscoil agus 750 iarbhunscoil a athnuachan, de bharr na hoidhreachta atá againn de bhlianta gan leordhóthain infheistíochta sa réimse seo agus, ina theannta sin, na riachtanais nua atá ag teacht chun cinn i gceantair mhearfháis daonra.

Faoin bPlean Forbartha Náisiúnta deiridh 2000 go 2006, d'infheistigh mo Roinnse iomlán de €2.6 bhilliún in infrastruchtúr scoile. Táthar chun €4.5 bhilliún a infheistiú faoin bPlean reatha 2007-2013. Cuirfidh an maoiniú ilbhliantúil seo ar chumas mo Roinne leanúint uirthi ag feidhmiú go réamhghníomhach agus í ag cur cóiríocht scoile nua-aimseartha ar fáil do na hearnálacha go léir, Gaelscoileanna ina measc.

Transition Year Programme.

Joanna Tuffy

Ceist:

56 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Education and Science if he has plans to make transition year available in all schools; when he expects all schools to operate a transition year programme; the reason his Department has no plans to extend the transition year programme to all schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7917/09]

Every year my Department invites all second level schools to participate in the Transition Year Programme. Circular 0064/2008 invited applications from schools for the 2008/2009 school year. Transition Year is optional for each school and a minority of schools do not offer Transition Year at all. In others it may be available as an optional programme for some pupils. Some schools, in deciding to offer the Programme, require all pupils to take the Programme in accordance with their curriculum provision across the school. This decision is made by the school authority.

Schools providing the programme for the first time are required to register with the full-time Second Level Support Service which provides inservice training, advisory services, and website resources to support the programme. Schools have flexibility to devise their own programme within the framework of the general guidelines published by my Department.

School Staffing.

Joan Burton

Ceist:

57 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will enable funds to be put in place to ensure that there is sufficient substitution cover to ensure that teachers will be able to adequately supervise practical examinations which are part of the leaving certificate; the position regarding schools in which all of the allocated substitute hours have been used in advance of the leaving certificate practicals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7921/09]

The management bodies of post-primary and primary schools made proposals to me in December regarding aspects of the arrangements for supervision and substitution and related matters where savings and efficiencies could be made. These included the identification by the post-primary management bodies of annual savings of €16 million on substitution costs and how these savings can be made not only in the current year and but on a continuing basis in future years.

On foot of these proposals, I approved the interim arrangements for certain substitution cover in schools for the remainder of the current school year and the details are outlined in Circulars 0110/2008 and 0115/2008 which can be viewed on my Department's website. The existing supervision/ substitution scheme continues to operate as heretofore. It is a matter for the Board of Management of each school to ensure that all substitution cover required for the remainder of the 2008/2009 school year including cover for practical examinations is provided from the hours available under the interim arrangements and the supervision/substitution scheme.

I also announced in December that in the period until the end of the school year, there will be a full review of the substitution and supervision scheme and related matters in conjunction with the school management bodies and teacher unions with a view to making up the additional expenditure and thereby ensuring that the budgetary parameters are met. This review is now commencing.

Question No. 58 answered with Question No. 16.

Aitheantais Scoile.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

59 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh den Aire Oideachais agus Eolaíochta cén soláthar don chóras Gaelscolaíochta a bheidh san áireamh i gcóras nua pleanála na Roinne do bhunú scoileanna nua i gceantair nua-fháis; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [7853/09]

Mar is eol gan dabht don Teachta, bhunaigh mé le déanaí Meitheal Oibre Teicniúil faoin gCoimisiún um Chóiríocht Scoileanna chun tabhairt faoi athbhreithniú iomlán ar na critéir agus na nósanna imeachta i gcomhair aithint bunscoileanna nua, ina measc Gaelscoileanna. Tá an Meitheal Oibre tar éis tosú ar a chuid oibre agus táthar ag súil go mbeidh an t-athbhreithniú ar na nósanna imeachta i gcomhair aithint bunscoileanna curtha i gcrích, agus socruithe athbhreithnithe curtha ar bun, laistigh de scála ama dhá bhlian. Déanfar ionadaíocht do na Comhpháirtithe Oideachais go léir le linn an phróiseas athbhreithnithe seo.

San idirlinn níl sé i gceist aitheantas a thabhairt do bhunscoileanna nua ar bith, ach amháin i gceantair nach féidir fónamh ar na méaduithe i líon na ndaltaí iontu insna scoileanna atá ann cheana, agus inar gá scoileanna nua a sholáthar. Ciallaíonn sé seo nach mbunófar scoileanna nua ar fháthanna nach mbaineann le fás déimeagrafach i gceantair ina bhfuil dóthain cóiríocht scoile cheana féin nó inar féidir fónamh ar mhéaduithe trí chur leis an gcóiríocht scoile atá ann faoi láthair. Tá sé de rogha, ar ndóigh, ag scoileanna atá ann faoi láthair iarratas a chur isteach faoi Chlár Tógála Chaipitiúil ar scála mór mo Roinne chun fónamh ar riachtanais cóiríochta fadtéarma agus ar an éileamh méadaitheach ar ionaid. Measúnaítear gach iarratas dá leithéid sin i gcomhthéacs na déimeagrafaice mar atá sí faoi láthair i gceantar agus mar a réamh-mheastar go mbeidh sí amach anseo.

Questions Nos. 60 and 61 answered with Question No. 54.

Company Closures.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

62 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will ensure that a viable solution for a company (details supplied) is sought and not to allow anyone to remove the assets at the site and to support the apprentices and staff at the company. [8072/09]

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

63 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of offers on the table to purchase a company (details supplied) as a going concern; the stage these offers are at; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8106/09]

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

64 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the progress made in finding an alternative owner for a company (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8117/09]

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

66 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the steps being taken to secure the continued operation of a company (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8160/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 62 to 64, inclusive, and 66 together.

I very much regret the announced closure of the SR Technics operation at Dublin Airport. My most recent meeting on the matter was on Thursday last, 19 February, with a delegation representing the Trade Union interests in the Dublin operation, who outlined their concerns. Similar concerns have been relayed to me in the many approaches I have had from public representatives.

The Government is anxious that as many jobs as possible are secured at Dublin Airport. We would like to see the SR Technics Group do what it can to facilitate this, such as helping to promote the capabilities and skills available at the Dublin facility, agreeing to an orderly wind down of the facility to give IDA Ireland an opportunity to promote the location to interested parties, and maintaining assets and equipment at the site for at least 6 months. There are a number of expressions of interest from different parties in possibly all or part of the business and time is needed to assess these proposals. The Government is anxious that the facility and the workers will maintain their IAA approval status while the alternative proposals are being progressed.

I am conveying these points, and the widespread concern in Ireland that every effort be made to maintain the maximum number of jobs at the facility at Dublin Airport, to SR Technics at Group level, as a follow-on to my meeting with the company on 11th February, when I was accompanied by my Secretary General and the Chief Executive of IDA. I should add that a number of meetings had taken place between the State, its Agencies and the company in the past year. The company had explained that it had been exploring all options for its Dublin operations, including sale to another party, but had not found it possible to proceed with any of these options.

The company outlined the deterioration that had taken place in its global business since mid 2008, with contracts moving to Eastern Europe, Jordan, Turkey and Malta. It confirmed that it was putting in place a 5 year restructuring plan and that it had already reduced its worldwide workforce by 500 in the last year. The company stated that the recent loss of major contracts, its current business and economic forecasts, as well as its high cost-base and over capacity at Dublin airport, had made it impossible to continue a sustainable business in Dublin. SR Technics provides line maintenance for the Aer Lingus fleet at their Dublin base. This is a long-term contract awarded by Aer Lingus in 2008 following a competitive procurement process. The Company had indicated that it hoped to assign this and other smaller operations to another operator, offering the potential of saving up to 200 jobs.

IDA Ireland has had an ongoing relationship with the company over many years and approved a significant Training Grant package for the company in 2006 to assist the company in maximising efficiencies and improving competitiveness. IDA also had discussions with the company in relation to its business plan and further opportunities to assist the company with additional financial incentives such as RD&I support with the emphasis on Innovation and Process Development.

In the light of the announced closure of the Dublin plant, FÁS has been at the forefront in providing intervention and support to employees facing redundancy. It is currently in contact with SR Technics Management to discuss the services available from FÁS and the potential needs of the employees. Each response will be tailored on a case-by-case basis. FÁS Services to Business Unit will also be involved in these consultations. It is important to establish how best FÁS can assist the workers. Following this initial contact, a judgement will be made in relation to the level of FÁS intervention required.

As regards efforts to save some or all of the jobs involved, actual involvement by IDA Ireland or Enterprise Ireland in providing financial or other supports will be dependent on a company or companies submitting proposals for consideration and seeking approval for State support for an undertaking in the normal way. In the meantime IDA Ireland are actively exploring options with interest parties.

Employment Rights.

Liz McManus

Ceist:

65 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she has received requests from staff at a company (details supplied) for a meeting; if she will meet those staff in view of the hardship they are experiencing and in view of her willingness to meet other groups of workers who are losing their jobs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8132/09]

Further to my reply in response to a question put down on 5 February regarding the situation of staff at the company to which the Deputy refers, the Tánaiste has received a number of representations from staff at the company to which she has just very recently responded.

In the context of Redundancy entitlements, my Department is not in a position to pay out the statutory redundancy entitlements to staff until a determination of the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) is available which should provide clarity as to whether a genuine redundancy situation at the company exists. The Tánaiste encouraged staff to pursue this issue through a determination before the Employment Appeals Tribunal and we both welcome the news that a number of staff have taken up this suggestion and would encourage all remaining eligible staff to do likewise. Upon receipt of the EAT decision, and on the assumption that this is positive, my Department will, subject to the eligibility criteria being met, be in a position to pay the employees their statutory redundancy entitlements. In that event, the Department will pursue the employer directly to recoup the monies paid.

As regards the pursuit of complaints to the Rights Commissioner Service under the Payment of Wages Act, 1991, to which I drew attention in my response of 5 February, I am pleased also to note that a number of employees have decided to request hearings before the Rights Commissioners and I understand that a number of cases have now progressed to the hearing stage.

Naturally, the Tánaiste and I are very concerned about the issues that have been raised in relation to this company. The National Employment Rights Authority, (NERA) were recently requested to undertake an inspection at the company's premises and although this did not yield a result in that there was no company presence in evidence, NERA is considering its further options in this regard. In line with the type of joint inspection activity and information sharing which NERA undertakes with both the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Social and Family Affairs, NERA has taken the opportunity to share information on the company with these bodies. The Deputy may also wish to be aware that separately, and in light of the powers vested on the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) under company law, the Tánaiste has also forwarded the matter to the ODCE for further consideration.

I am satisfied that all relevant advice has been provided to staff in terms of the pursuit of all relevant avenues of redress to secure their employment rights entitlements. Equally, the Tánaiste has undertaken follow-up action in relation to the company as outlined.

Question No. 66 answered with Question No. 62.

FÁS Training Programmes.

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

67 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment further to Parliamentary Question No. 79 of 19 February 2009, the specific assistance being offered to panel beaters and other motor industry apprentices; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8184/09]

As stated in the reply to Parliamentary Question No. 79 of 19 February 2009 a number of measures have been initiated to assist all apprentices progress and complete their apprenticeships. The Department of Social and Family Affairs are immediately referring to FÁS all redundant apprentices for assistance. FÁS then through their Employment Services and Services to Business Divisions work in collaboration to provide guidance and support in sourcing a new employer and to consider further options.

As an interim measure FÁS has amended the scheduling rules for off-the-job training to permit redundant apprentices to progress to their next off-the-job training, at Phase 2, Phase 4 and Phase 6, in accordance with the existing scheduling criteria. It is expected that in excess of 1,200 redundant apprentices from all trades will receive off-the-job training this year.

Redundant apprentices from all trades including the motor industry, may avail of FÁS existing specific skills training courses, which are trade related to enhance their employable skills and they can also avail of the range of trade related night courses, which are available in FÁS training centres. Both the construction and electrical trades are the only family of trades which have specific support available to them at present in the form of the Employer Based Redundant Apprentice Rotation Scheme. This scheme is limited to these trades as they have been most severely affected by the downturn in the construction sector and between them they account for the majority of apprentices currently in the apprenticeship system. However, the Government and the various stakeholders will continue to consider other possible measures to assist redundant apprentices from all trades progressing their apprenticeships.

Job Creation.

Frank Feighan

Ceist:

68 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the progress made by Enterprise Ireland in procuring a replacement industry or tenant for a factory (details supplied) in County Roscommon. [8186/09]

Efforts to find a replacement industry for the facility in question are continuing. Earlier this month, Enterprise Ireland accompanied a potential overseas investor to view the facility in Boyle. Unfortunately, the facility turned out to be too large for the project being considered. While dialogue with Green Isle Foods is ongoing, there is currently no interest from any food or other enterprise in relation to the facility.

Business Support Services.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

69 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will support a matter (details supplied). [8188/09]

Financial and non-financial assistance for small businesses and services in Ireland is delivered by a large number of bodies, including the County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) (www.enterpriseboards.ie), Enterprise Ireland (www.enterprise-ireland.com) and FÁS (www.fas.ie). While this Department does not provide direct funding to business or start-ups it does provide funding to the various enterprise agencies. In the absence of specific details on the nature of the plan, I have set out below the role of the County and City Enterprise Boards and that of Enterprise Ireland. The individual concerned should, in the first instance, contact their local enterprise board, who will then advise how best to proceed further with their venture and in the event of not being able to assist them will re-direct them as appropriate.

County and City Enterprise Boards

The 35 County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) were set up in 1993 to provide support for small businesses with 10 employees or fewer (micro-enterprises) in the start-up and expansion phases, to promote and develop indigenous micro-enterprise potential and to stimulate economic activity and entrepreneurship at local level. The CEBs deliver a series of Programmes to underpin this role and they can provide both financial and non-financial assistance to a project promoter.

The forms of financial assistance which are available from the CEB network, subject to certain criteria, include Capital Grants, Employment Grants, and Feasibility Study Grants. The provision of non-financial assistance can take the form of a wide range of business advice such as Programmes covering Business Management, Mentoring, E-commerce, Enterprise Education, and Women in Business networks.

CEBs may provide grant assistance to micro-enterprises (10 employees maximum) in the start-up and expansion phases in manufacturing, tourism and services, provided the promoter can demonstrate that the project:

is commercially viable;

will not displace jobs elsewhere in the economy;

will focus upon new initiatives in fields where they can best fill gaps rather than duplicate provision;

will involve the creation of sustainable employment;

requires grant assistance to enable the project to develop. However, Boards are required to give priority to enterprises in the manufacturing or internationally traded services sector, which over time can develop into strong export entities and graduate to the Enterprise Ireland portfolio.

Enterprise Ireland

Enterprise Ireland has primary responsibility for Irish companies in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sectors. It supports companies employing 10 or more people and start-up companies which have the potential to employ 10 or more people and reach or exceed €1m in exports over three years. Encouraging and supporting innovation-led high potential start-up companies (HPSUs) with an export focus is a key priority for Enterprise Ireland and is fundamental to building the next generation of world-class Irish companies. Enterprise Ireland offers a wide range of services, including financial and non-financial supports to companies with a business strategy that encompasses all elements required for business success.

BASIS Website

For information on the types of assistance available to businesses in Ireland the Deputy may also wish to contact the BASIS (Business Access to State Information and Services) Initiative (www.basis.ie) (Tel No: 01-6312787), which is administered by this Department. The aim of the BASIS website is to deliver information on Government services to business.

Employment Support Services.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

70 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if she will support the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3. [8189/09]

FÁS Employment Services offices provide guidance and support to jobseekers in sourcing employers. The individual in question should contact her local FÁS employment office and avail of this service so that she may possibly source an employer who requires an apprentice painter.

In addition any company that recruits this individual as an apprentice may also benefit from the FÁS bursary, which exists for employers who recruit female apprentices. In order to encourage the participation of women in apprenticeship, FAS offers a bursary to encourage an increased level of recruitment by employers of female apprentices. The bursary provides a total grant of €2,666.45 to each employer who recruits a female apprentice. The aim of the bursary is to provide an incentive to employers to train and employ female apprentices.

Banking Sector Regulation.

Eamon Gilmore

Ceist:

71 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fraud investigations being undertaken into a crisis (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8070/09]

As the Deputy will be aware, the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE), assisted by members of the Garda Fraud Squad, is investigating matters at Anglo Irish Bank and has carried out a search at the offices of the bank. As the Deputy will be further aware, the Government does not intervene in investigations by the ODCE and/or the Garda Síochána. The Government has always made it clear that the proper statutory bodies were investigating what occurred at Anglo Irish Bank and that the Government would do nothing to prejudice possible subsequent civil or criminal proceedings.

Pension Provisions.

Arthur Morgan

Ceist:

72 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Minister for Finance the number of Deputies drawing down a ministerial pension; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8060/09]

There are 26 Dáil Deputies currently in receipt of a ministerial pension. The names of former Ministers in receipt of ministerial pensions are contained in Statement 1.4 of the Finance Accounts which is published annually. The latest published accounts are for the year 2007.

Decentralisation Programme.

Joanna Tuffy

Ceist:

73 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Finance the cost to date of the construction of the new Bord Iascaigh Mhara Offices in Clonakilty, County Cork; if a date for completion of the building has been agreed with the building contractor; if a date for the official opening of the building has been set; the number of BIM staff to be decentralised to Clonakilty; the number of BIM staff that have already agreed to be decentralised to Clonakilty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8077/09]

On 16 August 2007, following a competitive tendering process, the Office of Public Works awarded a Fixed Price Contract to Michael McNamara & Co., in the sum of €20,142,446.00, inclusive of VAT, to construct new decentralized offices for Bord Iascaigh Mhara and the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. The project consists of Blocks A, B, C and D, of which Block B is being constructed for Bord Iaschaigh Mhara and Block D for the Seafood Development Centre. Works are due to be completed on a phased basis by end of April 2009. This contract does not include for fitting out the canteen and Seafood Development Centre. Tenders for these elements will be invited in due course.

Details in relation to a date for the official opening of the building, the number of Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) staff to be decentralised to Clonakilty and the number of BIM staff that have already agreed to be decentralised to Clonakilty were provided by Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Deputy Brendan Smith on 19 February 2009 in his written response to parliamentary question 236 (Reference No. 6815/09) tabled by Deputy Tuffy.

Banking Sector Regulation.

Mary Upton

Ceist:

74 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Finance if it is correct for a bank or lending institution to change the interest rate charged on an account without clearly and adequately informing their customer as in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8084/09]

The Financial Regulator'sConsumer Protection Code (Chapter 3: Banking Products & Services) specifies the following requirements with respect to changes in interest rates:

A credit institution must ensure that when it announces a change in interest rates, the notification states clearly the date from which the changes will apply.

Where a credit institution changes the interest rate on accounts, it must update the information on information services, including telephone helplines and websites as soon as the change comes into effect.

In addition, the Deputy may wish to note that changes to, and notification of, interest rates on loan accounts are governed principally by the loan agreement between the lender and the borrower.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

75 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Finance if he will introduce requirements on the banks covered by guarantee in order that people would not face stiff penalties on something with variable rates unless the bank could show that it had entered contractual commitments with other institutions which would impose commensurate penalties on it, if it permitted the switch. [8107/09]

I understand that the Deputy is referring to the situation whereby penalties are imposed on customers with loans repayable at a fixed rate of interest who switch to variable rates. The choice of mortgage product ultimately rests with the consumer in light of the terms and conditions that their lending institution offers. The decision of borrowers is influenced by factors such as their personal preferences and their own assessment of the relative merits of fixed and variable rate mortgages. Generally mortgages are for long periods. To some consumers a fixed interest rate on a mortgage offers peace of mind in that the borrower benefits from certainty regarding the cost of their mortgage, does not need to be concerned with changes in mortgage interest rates and accordingly he or she can budget more confidently.

As the Deputy will be aware, interest rates charged by banks generally vary in line with the base rate fixed by the European Central Bank (ECB) from time to time. Where a bank offers a fixed rate over a certain period it incurs additional costs in obtaining fixed or other funding in respect of the loan over the period. The additional costs will reflect both the market view in relation to future trends in interest rates for the period and the fact that longer term deposits generally attract higher interest rates than short term. In addition, where a consumer changes from a fixed interest rate contract to a variable rate contract before the end of the term for which the interest rate was fixed, there is an associated cost to the lender.

In circumstances that lenders were prohibited from passing on this cost to borrowers switching to variable rates, this cost could increase the price and reduce the availability of fixed rate mortgages. The Minister has no function in setting interest rates for banks covered by the guarantee scheme and I do not propose to introduce additional requirements as suggested.

Public Service Pension Levy.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

76 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the position in relation to the application of the public service pension levy to temporary or fixed term contract workers in the public service; if he has sought advice from the Attorney General as to the legality of applying the pension levy to such public servants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8154/09]

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

77 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the position in relation to the application of the public service pension levy to the income of public servants which is not in itself pensionable, such as overtime; if he has sought advice from the Attorney General as to the legality of applying the pension levy to such income; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8155/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 76 and 77 together.

With regard to temporary or fixed-term workers, the public service pension related deduction applies to any person who is a public servant on 1 March 2009 or is appointed to the public service after that date and who is a member of a public service pension scheme, is entitled to a benefit under such a scheme or receives a payment in lieu of membership in such a scheme. The deduction applies to all remuneration, whether pensionable or otherwise. It would not be appropriate for me to discuss the content of legal advice received in the course of development of policy and preparation of draft legislation. I am happy that the legislation provides a fair and reasonable approach, given the difficult circumstances currently.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

78 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the position in relation to the application of the public service pension levy to workers who have an income so low that they will never benefit from these contributions; if he has sought advice from the Attorney General as to the legality of applying the pension levy to such public servants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8156/09]

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

79 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the position in relation to the application of the public service pension levy to workers whose length of employment is so short that they can never benefit from making compulsory contributions; if he has sought advice from the Attorney General as to the legality of applying the pension levy to such public servants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8157/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 78 and 79 together.

The public service pension related deduction applies to any person who is a public servant on 1 March 2009 or is appointed to the public service after that date, is a member of a public service pension scheme, is entitled to a benefit under such a scheme or receives a payment in lieu of membership in such a scheme. The definition of a "public service pension scheme" is set out in section 1 of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Bill 2009.

Officers appointed prior to 6 April 1995 do not pay explicit employee contributions in respect of their main scheme benefits. Those who only pay the 1.5% contribution to the spouses and children's scheme, receive approximately 5% less in their salary and their pension benefits are adjusted accordingly. It is reasonable in the circumstances that the new pension related deduction be applied to all public servants who enjoy the benefits of a public service pension — in terms of the enhanced terms and the greater security than the generality of private sector pensions. The graduated approach to the payment was introduced to ameliorate somewhat the impact on the lower paid public servants.

The draft Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Bill 2009 provides that no additional benefit is conferred by the pension related deduction. It also provides for deductions to be repaid to those who leave the public service with no preserved pension benefit, i.e. with fewer than two years' service. It would not be appropriate for me to discuss the content of legal advice received in the course of development of policy and preparation of draft legislation. I am happy that the legislation provides a fair and reasonable approach, given the difficult circumstances currently.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

80 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Finance if persons in receipt of a medical card are exempt from the pension levy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8162/09]

The approach to this deduction is that it applies generally given the fact that all public servants enjoy the benefits of a public service pension which provides for greater security and more favourable terms than the generality of private sector pensions. The question of whether a person is in receipt of a medical card is not relevant. The graduated approach to the payment is to ameliorate somewhat the impact on lower paid public servants.

One must take the totality of the public service pension arrangements into account, including retirement lump sum and security when compared to the private sector. In addition, the Government have sought to mitigate the effects on less well paid public servants through the tapering of the percentage reduction, to the greatest extent possible commensurate with the requirement to achieve savings of almost €1.35bn from the pension deduction. The rate of deduction is 3% of remuneration on the first €15,000, 6% on the next €5,000 and 10% on the balance.

Tax Collection.

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

81 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Finance his views on a matter (details supplied) in view of the recent revelations within banking circles and the considerable suspicion surrounding bank practices; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8192/09]

The matter raised by the Deputy relates to the issue of Bogus Non-Resident accounts which were used by Irish residents to avoid a liability to DIRT. This tax did not apply to bona fide non-resident accounts and by seeking to simply apply a foreign address to an account it was sought to have these accounts designated as non-resident and thereby avoid the liability to DIRT. However, as the beneficial owners of the accounts were Irish residents DIRT should have been paid on these accounts.

This issue has been examined in some detail by this House, the PAC and the Comptroller & Auditor General. The Revenue Commissioners have also carried out a detailed investigation into this matter and have to date recovered €864m for the Exchequer, of which €225m was paid by financial institutions for the non-operation of DIRT with the balance of €639m relating to taxpayers who had untaxed funds associated with these accounts. The Revenue Commissioners have informed me that no evidence was seen by them in the course of the DIRT look-back audit programme that would support an investigation of an official of a financial institution with a view to prosecution.

Tax Code.

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

82 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the recent proposal by him to increase the turnover tax on betting shops from 1% to 2%, will not achieve the target of an increased €40 million in betting tax, but in fact over the next 12 months will lead to a significant number of said betting shops closing, in so far as there is a decrease in the turnover of these shops which will lead inevitably to unemployment in the industry; and if consideration has been given to alternative ways and options for raising the required money, which would safeguard the future of the industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8204/09]

I announced in Budget 2009 that the betting duty would be increased from 1 to 2%. Subsequently, I met a wide range of representatives from the betting industry where the problems faced by the sector, including those arising from the Budgetary changes, were discussed. The Finance (No. 2) Act 2008 provides that the betting duty rate will be increased from 1% to 2% on 1 May 2009. The Act also provides that, as happens in the case of other business expenses, betting duty paid by a bookmaker on bets made on or after 1 January 2009 will be allowed as a deduction in computing the amount of profits or losses of the bookmaking business for Income Tax or Corporation Tax purposes. As I stated during the Finance Bill process, I intend to look at an overhaul of the betting tax regime for next year's Budget and Finance Bill.

Tax Collection.

Frank Feighan

Ceist:

83 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Finance when a tax clearance certificate will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Leitrim. [8207/09]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the person in question has not been issued with a Tax Clearance Certificate because, after late filing of his 2007 return, he now has an unpaid tax liability for 2007. He applied for a Tax Clearance Certificate on 12 January 2009 and he was informed that it could not be granted because he had not filed his 2007 Income Tax return (which was due to be filed on/before 31 October 2008). He filed the necessary return on 5 February 2009 and this gave rise to a tax liability of €278.30 for 2007 which he has not yet paid. Upon payment of his outstanding 2007 liability, a Tax Clearance Certificate will issue to him without delay.

Departmental Staff.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

84 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the profile of staff in his Department in terms of professional qualifications with details of the number of staff who have a legal or financial qualification and their grade. [8212/09]

In the time available, I am unable to provide the information requested by the Deputy. However, I am arranging for the information to be provided as soon as possible.

Departmental Agencies.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

85 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance the profile of staff in the Office of the Financial Regulator in terms of professional qualifications with details of the number of staff who have a legal or financial qualification and their grade. [8213/09]

The approved manpower complement for the Financial Regulator for 2009 is 380. Of this 380, 30.6 (8%) are at senior management level; 225 (59%) at senior officer level and 124.4 (33%) clerical/administrative support. The actual staffing level in the Financial Regulator at 31st January 2009 was 371.6, resulting in 8.4 vacancies. In November 2008, the Financial Regulator advertised to fill an additional 20 contract posts, to support the Government Guarantee scheme. The latest information is that 9 contract staff have been employed for this area, and the Financial Regulator advises that the appointment of the balance of contract is staff progressing well. 81% of the Financial Regulator's staff hold a minimum of a third level qualification or higher. 44% have qualifications at master or primary degree level. 21% hold a professional qualification in the accounting, legal or actuary areas. 16% hold other qualifications, including Certificates and Diplomas, such as the Qualified Financial Advisor Diploma.

Health Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

86 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children her proposals to meet the speech and language requirements in all schools throughout the country in 2009 without exception; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8217/09]

As the Deputy's question relates to service matters I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply. .

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

87 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9. [8073/09]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Inter-Country Adoptions.

James McDaid

Ceist:

88 Deputy James McDaid asked the Minister for Health and Children the way the bilateral adoption agreement between Ireland and Vietnam is progressing in view of the fact that this agreement was meant to be renegotiated and strengthened in early December 2008. [8076/09]

Jack Wall

Ceist:

90 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children her views in relation to a submission (details supplied); when a decision is due in regard to the proposed agreement; the plans in place in relation to the closure of the present agreement on 1 May 2009 to address the position of applicants who have commenced applications prior to that date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8113/09]

Niall Collins

Ceist:

98 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress on a matter (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8141/09]

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

108 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps being taken to renew the bilateral adoption agreement between Ireland and Vietnam, which is due to cease on 1 May 2009; if steps will be taken to expedite the renewal of the agreement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8203/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 88, 90, 98 and 108 together.

The Irish Government formally notified the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in October last that there would be no automatic renewal of the Agreement when the five year term expires on 1 May, 2009. While Ireland's current agreement is based on Hague principles, there is a need to elaborate the Agreement to reflect the standards of the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption more comprehensively. This is in line with Ireland's own commitment to ratify the Hague Convention. It is also relevant to reflect the experiences gained by both sides over the first five years of a formal relationship between the two States.

This approach is also part of the preparations for new adoption legislation in which it is proposed that a bilateral agreement will be required between Ireland and any State which has not ratified the Hague Convention. The Socialist Republic of Vietnam has not yet ratified the Convention. Officials travelled to Vietnam in November, 2008 to meet with the relevant authorities dealing with intercountry adoption as well as the embassies of other governments to discuss intercountry adoption in Vietnam and progress towards ratification more generally.

In December 2008, following a Government decision on the matter, the Irish Government issued a formal request to the Vietnamese Authorities advising that the Government wished to enter into discussions immediately for the purpose of negotiating a new bilateral adoption Agreement to follow on from the existing Agreement. In order to expedite the negotiation process, Ireland offered to provide the Vietnamese Authorities with the text of a draft agreement as a basis for negotiations. The Vietnamese authorities responded positively to Ireland's request to enter into formal negotiations and the proposal that Ireland would prepare a first draft.

Work on a draft agreement requires careful and detailed consideration by a number of parties including the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Attorney General's Office and the Adoption Board. An initial text was prepared by my Office in December and the draft is now at an advanced stage. It will be finalised shortly once legal advices have been received on outstanding matters. It is anticipated that this will be forwarded to the Vietnamese Authorities for their consideration in the immediate future.

The issue of contingency arrangements in the case of an Agreement not being reached by 1 May, 2009 was raised by the Government in a December 2008 communication to the Vietnamese. The Vietnamese authorities formally advised on proposed contingency arrangements on Friday, 13 February, through the Irish Embassy in Hanoi. My Office subsequently prepared and circulated a public information note on the contingency plans to prospective adoptive parents through the Helping Hands Adoption Mediation Agency and the adoption support groups. I want to emphasise that these are contingency plans in the event of an Agreement not being reached by 1 May 2009. My officials and I are continuing to pursue the successful conclusion of a bilateral agreement with Vietnam as a priority. The Irish government will continue to seek to re-visit the contingency arrangements which have been put in place over the course of and in light of negotiations on a new agreement.

I feel obliged to remind the House that the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is a sovereign state and decisions it makes regarding the internal regulation and management of the adoption of its children must be treated sensitively as appropriate to a sovereign state. I respectfully suggest that demands for guarantees or changes to contingency arrangements are matters which fall to be dealt with as part of the negotiation process on a bilateral basis. At this stage, I cannot pre-empt either Governments' deliberative process as those negotiations advance. My priority is to advance the process and avoid debate outside of that process which could potentially jeopardise or interfere with discussions with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

I can assure the Deputies that the work to prepare for and advise the Government on this issue and to implement the Government's decisions has been given, and continues to be given the highest priority. These are complex matters which require careful consideration. At all times, the Government, and I, and the officials advising us, are guided by the need to respect and protect the best interests and rights of the child.

Health Service Staff.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

89 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a doctor on reaching the age of retirement should be prevented from continuing public practice, while being allowed to continue their private practice; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8108/09]

Under the General Medical Services (GMS) Scheme general practitioners hold one of two contract types, i.e. the Fee per Item contract (first introduced in 1972) or the Capitation contract (effective from 1989). These contracts reflect the agreed outcome of negotiations between my Department and the GP representative body, the Irish Medical Organisation. Both contract types contain provisions relating to the retirement age. The Capitation contract provides that GPs who entered into contracts on the date of its commencement could hold the contract up to age 70 and that all subsequent GP contractors could hold the contract up to age 65. The Fee per Item contract terminates upon the GP reaching 70 years of age.

General Practitioners being self-employed contractors may, subject to continued registration with the Medical Council, continue to practise and to treat private patients following retirement from the GMS Scheme. In the context of a review of the contractual arrangements for the provision of services under the GMS Scheme and other publicly funded schemes, I have asked my Department, in conjunction with the HSE, to examine provisions relating to the age at which GPs must cease to hold contracts.

Question No. 90 answered with Question No. 88.

Youth Services.

Michael Ahern

Ceist:

91 Deputy Michael Ahern asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will commit to minimising the impact of the cuts to the youth service budget on young people and youth services in Cork East; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8114/09]

Michael Ahern

Ceist:

92 Deputy Michael Ahern asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that significant reductions in funding to youth organisations working in towns such as Mallow, Midleton and Fermoy, County Cork, may lead to the closure of youth projects and youth groups which are working to address the needs of young people who are disadvantaged due to a combination of factors such as social isolation, substance misuse, homelessness, early school leaving and unemployment; if she will provide a commitment to protecting these initiatives and projects from cutbacks; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8115/09]

Michael Ahern

Ceist:

93 Deputy Michael Ahern asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the work of hundreds of volunteers in youth organisations will be undermined if there is a significant cutback in the funding to voluntary youth organisations in Cork East; if she will commit to protecting funding for youth organisations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8116/09]

Jimmy Deenihan

Ceist:

104 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the work of hundreds of volunteers in youth organisations will be undermined if there is a significant cutback in the funding to voluntary youth organisations in north Kerry and west Limerick by the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs; if she will provide a commitment to protect funding for youth organisations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8176/09]

Jimmy Deenihan

Ceist:

105 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that significant reductions in funding from the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to youth organisations working in north Kerry and west Limerick, and in particular in towns such as Tralee, Listowel, Tarbert and Abbeyfeale may lead to the closure of youth projects and youth initiatives which are working to address the needs of young people who are disadvantaged due to a combination of factors such as social isolation, substance misuse, homelessness, early school leaving and unemployment; if she will commit to protecting these initiatives and projects from cutbacks; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8177/09]

Jimmy Deenihan

Ceist:

106 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will commit to minimising the impact of the cuts from the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to the youth service budget on young people and youth services in north Kerry and west Limerick; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8178/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 91, 92, 93, 104, 105 and 106 together.

As the Deputies are aware, the youth sector has received considerable financial support over the past number of years. Funding expanded from €35.5m in 2004 to €52m in 2008. While this funding has allowed for some expansion in the sector including the roll out of a number of sections of the Youth Work Act, 2001 and actions cited in the National Youth Work Development Plan, there has been a growing emphasis on consolidation of services.

It is intended that the 2009 Youth Affairs budget of over €48m will continue to focus on supporting existing youth programmes and services for young people including those with fewer opportunities. I have met with the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI), which represents some 50 youth organisations, and am aware of the valuable work carried out by the youth work sector, including its strong volunteer base, both in the particular areas referred to by the Deputies as well as across the country. I wish to assure the Deputies that every effort will be made to minimise the impact of the reduction in funding available to the youth sector and to preserve and maintain existing provision in so far as is possible.

Infectious Diseases.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

94 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps being taken to address the issue of hospital acquired infection; the number of cases in each hospital in the past 12 months of suspected or confirmed infection; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8123/09]

Tackling Health Care Associated Infections (HCAIs), including MRSA, continues to be a priority for the Government and the Health Service Executive (HSE). HCAIs are not a new phenomenon and have always been a potential complication of medical treatment, especially in hospitals. This is the case worldwide. It should be noted that if a patient is diagnosed with a bloodstream infection at a given hospital, it does not indicate that the infection was acquired at that hospital. Many bloodstream infections are acquired in the community but only diagnosed upon admission to hospital. Also a patient may have acquired the infection in one hospital but the infection may be diagnosed on transfer to another hospital.

A new National Surveillance System has been established by the HSE to collect data and provide information on a quarterly basis to monitor HCAIs in our health system. This data has been compiled and published for 2006, 2007 and the first 3 quarters of 2008. There follows in table format an extract of the relevant information for the Deputy, taken from the recent reports of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre. The table gives the number of MRSA cases by acute public hospital for 2007 and the first 9 months of 2008. Most of the variation in reported numbers of S. aureus bloodstream infections between hospitals can be explained by differences in hospital size, activity and patient populations. At present there is no way to adjust the data to allow for these differences and hence direct comparisons between hospitals are not possible.

The overall proportion of MRSA was lower in 2007 (38.5%) compared to 2006 (42.4%) and the most recent figures show that MRSA infections for the first nine months of 2008 have fallen by 3.8% compared with the same period in 2007 and 7.2% when compared with 2006. Other measures taken to reduce the incidence of HCAIs generally include the appointment of additional infection control staff, education campaigns for healthcare staff and the general public around the prudent use of antibiotics and the use of designated private beds for isolation purposes where required for patients who contract HCAIs. In addition, new environmental building guidelines to inform infection control policy in all new builds and refurbishments have recently been published by the HSE. I am satisfied that significant steps are being taken to reduce the rates of HCAIs generally and to treat them promptly when they occur.

Data on Meticillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) bloodstream isolates by acute public hospital for 2007 and first 3 quarters of 2008

Acute Public Hospital

Total number of isolates of MRSA 2007

Total number of isolates of MRSA First 3 quarters of 2008

Adelaide, Meath and National Children’s Hospital, Tallaght, Dublin

18

22

Bantry General Hospital

8

1

Beaumont Hospital (including St. Joseph’s Hospital, Raheny), Dublin

50

37

Cappagh National Orthopaedic Hospital, Dublin

0

0

Cavan General Hospital

9

1

Children’s University Hospital, Temple Street, Dublin

0

0

Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown, Dublin

14

5

Coombe Women’s Hospital, Dublin

2

1

Cork University Hospitala

39

16

Galway University Hospitalsc

N/A

35

Erinville Hospital, Corka

N/A

Kerry General Hospital, Tralee

16

13

Letterkenny General Hospital, Donegal

13

15

Lourdes Orthopaedic Hospital, Kilcreene

0

0

Louth County Hospital, Dundalk

1

3

Mallow General Hospital, Co. Cork

4

6

Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, Dublin

40

22

Mayo General Hospital, Castlebar

20

7

Mercy University Hospital, Cork

15

10

Merlin Park Regional Hospital, Galwayc

7

Midland Regional Hospital, Mullingar

5

4

Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise

3

1

Midland Regional Hospital, Tullamore

13

1

Mid-western Regional Hospital, Ennis

3

1

Mid-western Regional Hospital, Nenagh

10

1

Mid-western Regional Hospital, Dooradoyle, Limerick

16

15

Mid-western Regional Maternity Hospital, Limerick

0

0

Mid-western Regional Orthopaedic Hospital, Limerick

0

0

Monaghan General Hospital

3

0

Naas General Hospital

11

6

National Maternity Hospital, Holles St., Dublin

0

0

Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda

*

3

Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin,

4

3

Our Lady’s Hospital, Cashelb

N/A

Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan

6

1

Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe

3

5

Roscommon County Hospital

3

3

Rotunda Hospital, Dublin

0

0

Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital, Dublin

0

0

Sligo General Hospital

13

10

South Infirmary — Victoria University Hospital, Cork

4

4

South Tipperary General Hospital, Clonmel

1

5

St. Colmcille’s Hospital, Loughlinstown*

8

*

St. Finbarr’s Hospital, Corka

3

**

St. James’s Hospital, Dublin

61

25

St. John’s Hospital, Limerick

2

0

St. Luke’s General Hospital, Kilkenny

10

2

St. Luke’s Hospital, Dublin

2

2

St. Mary’s Orthopaedic Hospital, Gurranebraher, Cork

0

0

St. Michael’s Hospital, Dun Laoghaire

2

0

St. Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin

28

25

University College Hospital, Galwayc

30

Waterford Regional Hospital

26

14

Wexford General Hospital

0

4

*No data received.

**No longer classified as acute hospital.

N/A, Not applicable.

aIn 2007, maternity services at Erinville Hospital and St. Finbarr's Hospital, Cork transferred to Cork University Maternity Hospital, which together with Cork University Hospital (CUH) composed CUH group. All data for CUH group in 2007 are presented under CUH;

bIn 2007, acute services at Our Lady's Hospital, Cashel transferred to South Tipperary General Hospital, Clonmel.

cAs of January 2008, data for University College Hospital, Galway and Merlin Park University Hospital, Galway are combined under Galway University Hospitals.

Patient Private Property Fund.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

95 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 409 of 27 January 2009, the position regarding the issue of interest owing to long-stay patients; when repayment will commence; the cost of the administration of this repayment programme; the moneys to be repaid; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8125/09]

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

96 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children the funding held by the Health Service Executive on behalf of long-stay patients; the charges placed on the management of this fund; the income generated from the fund in 2008; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8126/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 95 and 96 together.

The HSE plans to commence the payment of interest retained on funds invested since 2005 in the next number of weeks. All interest to be repaid since 2005 is retained in the Patient Private Property Fund as unallocated income and is available for distribution. The HSE is currently reviewing the cost implications of making these payments. The HSE is also finalising a proposal to repay any interest owed as a result of interest retained by former Health Boards prior to 2005. While retained interest in respect of some of this period is in the PPP fund, the cost implications of any proposal are also being reviewed. When agreed, the HSE will then be in a position to commence making any necessary repayments.

The 2008 National PPP accounts are currently being prepared and audited. When complete these accounts will be laid before the Oireachtas. As at 31st December 2007 the HSE managed €153.3m in PPP funds on behalf of clients. It is expected that the value of PPP funds held at 31st December 2008 will be approx. €200m. The HSE levies a charge for the operation of the PPP accounts maintained at the PPPA Central Unit, Tullamore. The charge commenced in November 2008. The charge is set at 20% of interest earned on invested funds and is levied weekly in arrears. The HSE's authority to levy this charge is derived from the introduction of the Health (Repayment Scheme) (Charges for administering Patients' Private Property Accounts) Regulations 2007. There is no charge for any PPP accounts held locally at Care Centres. The total charge levied in 2008 amounted to €133,037.

During 2008, interest of €4.167m was earned on invested PPP funds managed by the PPPA Central Unit. This interest is assigned directly to client PPP accounts each week. Audited figures for interest earned on other invested PPP funds during 2008 are not yet available. During 2007, total interest of €4.612m was earned on behalf of clients.

Nursing Homes Repayment Scheme.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

97 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 77 of 15 May 2008, the number of offers which have been appealed; the number which have had their offer increased on appeal; the number of applications that were refused and were appealed; the number which have been successful on appeal; the number of applications outstanding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8127/09]

The Health Repayment Schemes 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 20 February 2009 the Health Repayment Scheme Appeals Office had received 1,426 completed appeal forms from claimants who have appealed the amount of repayment offered to them. Decisions have issued in 630 of these cases and 191 of these decisions will result in an increased offer to the claimant. The Health Repayment Scheme Appeals Office had received 3,875 completed appeal forms from claimants who have appealed the Scheme Administrator's rejection of their claim. Decisions have issued in 2,333 of these cases and 257 of these appeals have been successful. There are approximately 1,600 applications outstanding at present.

Question No. 98 answered with Question No. 88.

Child Care Services.

Jimmy Deenihan

Ceist:

99 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a grant will be approved in respect of a centre (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8145/09]

The National Childcare Investment Programme (NCIP) 2006 -2010 is implemented by my Office with the assistance of Pobal, who manage the day to day operation of the programme. As the Deputy may be aware, applications for capital grant funding under the NCIP are processed, in the first instance, by the County Childcare committees (CCCs) and are then forwarded to Pobal. Final consideration of applications is made by the Childcare Directorate of my Office and they are then recommended for decision by the secretary General of the Department of Health and children, who is the Accounting Officer responsible for the NCIP. I understand that the applicant in question has applied for a capital grant of €570,000 and that the application is at the final stage of processing in my Office and will be informed of the outcome in the coming weeks.

Health Service Staff.

Emmet Stagg

Ceist:

100 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the delays in assessing people for supplementary welfare allowance, rent subsidy and mortgage interest relief at the community welfare office at St. Mary’s, Castlebar, County Mayo; and if she will appoint the additional staff to assist the community welfare officers in processing applications. [8148/09]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Hospital Services.

Ciaran Lynch

Ceist:

101 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in County Cork will have their appointment date brought forward to alleviate their suffering; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8159/09]

The management of out-patient waiting lists is a matter for the HSE and the individual hospitals concerned. I have, therefore, referred the Deputy's question to the Executive for direct reply.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

102 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps being taken to resolve the industrial dispute at Portiuncula Hospital, County Galway; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8163/09]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Brian O'Shea

Ceist:

103 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Health and Children the circumstances surrounding the discharge from hospital of a person (details supplied) in County Wexford; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8175/09]

As this is a service matter the question has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Questions Nos. 104 to 106, inclusive, answered with Question No. 91.

Proposed Legislation.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

107 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will investigate a matter (details supplied). [8187/09]

I understand from my colleague, the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government that it is no longer intended to implement primary legislation in this jurisdiction to deal with incandescent light bulbs. The matter will be dealt with by the E.U. under the 2005 European Union Ecodesign of Energy-Using Products Directive. This Directive is under the remit of the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

The European Commission's Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) investigated the claim that symptoms of several diseases may be aggravated in the presence of energy saving lamps, mainly Compact Fluorescent Lamps or CFLs. The Committee did identify Ultra Violet or UV/blue light radiation as a potential risk factor for the aggravation of light-sensitive symptoms in some patients with certain chronic diseases. It further stated that it had been observed that some single-envelope CFLs emit UVB and traces of UVC radiation. Under extreme conditions — i.e prolonged exposures at distances of under 20 centimetres — these CFLs may lead to UV exposures approaching the workplace limit set to protect workers from skin and retinal damage. The SCENIHR notes that the use of double-envelope energy saving bulbs or similar technology would largely or entirely mitigate both the risk of approaching these workplace limits and the risk of aggravating the symptoms of light-sensitive individuals.

As part of the regulatory process mentioned above, the European Commission will take into account the health and safety of the user in setting the energy efficiency requirement for household lamps. The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment will consult with my Department regarding any health issues arising.

Question No. 108 answered with Question No. 88.

Child Care Services.

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

109 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will confirm that her Department has received an application for capital funding in respect of a child care facility (details supplied) in County Westmeath; when a decision will be made in respect of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8205/09]

The National Childcare Investment Programme (NCIP) 2006 -2010 is implemented by my Office with the assistance of Pobal, who manage the day to day operation of the programme. As the Deputy may be aware, applications for capital grant funding under the NCIP are processed, in the first instance, by the County Childcare Committee's (CCC's) and are then forwarded to Pobal. Final consideration of applications is made by the Childcare Directorate of my Office and they are then recommended for decision by the secretary General of the Department of Health and children, who is the Accounting Officer responsible for the NCIP. I understand that the applicant in question has applied for a capital grant of €100,000. This application is now at the final stage of processing in my Office and I understand that a decision will be communicated to the applicant in the coming weeks.

Health Services.

Frank Feighan

Ceist:

110 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will secure a bed for a person (details supplied) in County Roscommon. [8208/09]

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Medical Cards.

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

111 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the penalty for a person over 70 years of age who does not voluntarily disclose that their income exceeds the limits provided for in the Health Act 2008. [8209/09]

The Health Act 2008 provided for the removal of the automatic entitlement to a medical card for persons aged 70 and over. A new and very much simplified system of assessment for eligibility was introduced in respect of persons aged 70 and over, based on gross income rather than net income, as applies otherwise for means-testing of eligibility for medical cards. The simplified approach taken for persons aged 70 and over who held a medical card prior to 31st December 2008 is close to a self-assessment system. In introducing the measures, I emphasised my belief in the honesty and integrity of the vast majority of older persons in our society.

There are measures in the legislation that allow for the sharing of data between State agencies and the Health Service Executive (HSE) to allow the HSE to verify in any particular case if the person has income, as declared, under the gross income limit. Long-standing provisions of the Health Act 1970, as amended, continue to apply. For instance, there is a requirement for a person to notify the HSE of any change in his/her circumstances which would render him/her ineligible for services. In addition, when a person has obtained a service and it is later ascertained that he/she was not entitled to the service, the HSE may charge the individual for any services provided to him/her for the period for which he/she had no entitlement. The Health Act 2008 provides that the HSE shall provide any necessary supports to any person aged 70 or over in the making of an application for a medical card where, by reason of any incapacity, such person requests such assistance.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

112 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if a medical card has issued in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8231/09]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

113 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a medical card will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 7; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8232/09]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Health Service Staff.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

114 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number and function of the principal medical officers employed throughout each of the regions in the Health Service Executive; when they were recruited and by what means; their previous role during the lifetime of the health boards; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8233/09]

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Departmental Agencies.

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

115 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Transport the costs under budgetary headings (details supplied) for the coastguard in Leinster for each of the past three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8071/09]

Details of expenditure for Coast Guard Units in the Leinster area for the last three years are as follows:

2006

2007

2008

Volunteer Costs

38,285

83,219

116,314

Equipment

9,788

43,412

33,109

Fuel

351

0

97

Building Maintenance

49,140

71,540

93,544

Events

1,511

9,953

2,129

Training

24,016

24,507

62,718

Other Costs

35,385

34,306

140,598

Total

158,476

266,937

448,509

Park and Ride Facilities.

Mary Upton

Ceist:

116 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Transport if funding has been provided for park and ride facilities in an area (details supplied); if he has received an application for funding for a park and ride facility in the same area; if his attention has been drawn to the need in the said area for park and ride facilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8082/09]

My Department has funding available for park and ride proposals from Local Authorities in the Greater Dublin Area. It is the responsibility of each Local Authority to identify suitable sites for park and ride facilities within their jurisdiction and develop proposals for Exchequer funding. To date, my Department has received no proposals for funding of any park and ride facilities from the relevant local Authority.

Visa Applications.

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

117 Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if, in view of the fact that the visa of a person (details supplied) in County Wexford is due to expire on 26 February 2009, a decision will be made on the application for a further visa extension which was the subject of representations dated 26 January 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8064/09]

I have been informed by the Immigration Division of my Department that a decision was made in relation to the application for a visa extension for the person referred to by the Deputy. The person concerned was informed of that decision in writing on the 21st January 2009. The representations made on behalf of the person concerned on the 26th January 2009 was responded to in writing by my Department on the 24th February 2009.

Registration of Title.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

118 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will receive confirmation as to the registration of their property; the problems attached to such registration; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8074/09]

I can inform the Deputy that under the Registration of Deeds and Title Act 2006, the Property Registration Authority (PRA) was established as and from 4 November, 2006. The PRA replaces the Registrar of Deeds and Titles as the registering authority in relation to property registration in Ireland and, subject to the above Act, is independent in the performance of its functions. The Deputy will be aware of the service to TDs and Senators which provides information on the current status of applications which was introduced in May 2006. The service provides a speedier, more efficient and more cost effective alternative to submitting Parliamentary Questions. It is operated by the PRA and is available all year round. I understand that the PRA has now provided the Deputy with the information requested.

Deportation Orders.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

119 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason for the arrest and imprisonment of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; if the full circumstances of their case have been fully investigated since the original deportation order was issued; if their rights and entitlements under national and international law have been observed in full; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8109/09]

I refer the Deputy to the Reply I gave to his Parliamentary Question No. 722 of Tuesday 27 January 2009. The person concerned presented as requested with the Garda National Immigration Bureau on the 18th of February 2009. However, she failed to comply with the direction of the Immigration Officer under Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999. She was subsequently detained for failing to co-operate with the Immigration Officer in providing information required for the purpose of her removal.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

120 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of deportation orders made in each year from 2006 to 2008 inclusive; the number outstanding at the end of each year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8130/09]

The following table shows the number of Deportation Orders signed and effected for each of the years in question. However, the Deputy should note that Deportation Orders signed in a particular year are not necessarily effected in that year, e.g. an Order signed in 2006 may be effected in any subsequent year. Therefore the figure for Orders effectedvis-à-vis Orders signed in a specific year is a “live” figure and subject to ongoing up-dating. It is not possible to provide, retrospectively, the position that pertained in respect of Orders that were both signed and effected in a particular calendar year.

Year

Deportation Orders signed

Deportation Orders Effected

2006

1,574

301

2007

418

138

2008

778

162

Prison Facilities.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

121 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the cost of spending on sports equipment in each prison in 2008; the corresponding figure for balls; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8161/09]

The table below sets out the expenditure in 2008, by each prison, on sports, gym and recreational equipment:

Prison

Expenditure in 2008

Mountjoy

36,388

Dochas Centre

2,806

St. Patrick’s Institution

11,113

Training Unit

5,675

Arbour Hill

12,772

Portlaoise

28,214

Midlands

22,229

Cloverhill

3,279

Wheatfield

19,896

Cork

27,714

Limerick

9,110

Loughan House

323

Shelton Abbey

7,699

Castlerea

5,893

All 2008 expenditure figures provided above are provisional at this stage, pending finalisation of the Appropriation Account.

As the Deputy will appreciate there are significant benefits to be gained from getting involved in physical education be it in a community setting or in the prison environment. In the prison setting PE affords prisoners the opportunity to take control of one aspect of their daily life — their physical well-being — with the potential knock-on effect of increasing their motivation and confidence to tackle other identified issues such as substance abuse, taking up educational or workshop opportunities. It is also recognised that physical education, sport and recreation also play a significant role in the management of prison life by providing positive outlets for energy.

Residency Permits.

Bernard Allen

Ceist:

122 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if the decision will be made to allow a person (details supplied) in County Cork to remain in the State. [8185/09]

The person concerned arrived in the State on 7 May 1997 and failed to regularise his position in the State upon arrival. Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999, as amended, the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 6 June 2008, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State i.e. why he should not be deported.

His case was then examined under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act, 1999, as amended, and Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996, as amended, on the Prohibition of Refoulement. Consideration was given to representations submitted on his behalf by his legal representative for permission to remain in the State. On 4 February 2009, I refused permission to remain temporarily in the State and instead signed a Deportation Order in respect of him. Notice of this order was served by registered post requiring the person concerned to present himself at the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) 13-14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2 on Tuesday 10 March 2009 in order to make travel arrangements for his removal from the State.

I am satisfied that the application made for temporary leave to remain in the State together with all refoulement issues, were fairly and comprehensively examined and, as such, the decision to deport him is justified. The effect of the Deportation Order is that the person concerned must leave the State and remain thereafter out of the State.

Garda Reserve.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

123 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of people in the past year who joined the Garda Reserve; the number who applied; the number who were called to interview; and the percentage of persons who passed the interview stage. [8193/09]

I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that the number of Reserve Gardaí who joined the Garda Reserve in 2008 was 137. The number of persons who applied to join the Garda Reserve in 2008 was 4,366. In that year, 788 applicants attended for interview and 68% passed the interview stage.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

124 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to residency and family reunification in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8238/09]

I refer the Deputy to my previous answers to Parliamentary Question No. 975 put down for answer on 26th September 2007 and 827 put down for answer on 17th June 2008. I am informed by the Immigration Division of my Department that the person in question made a Family Reunification application in January 2006 and a decision was issued to the person in question on 9th July 2008. However, the letter containing that decision was subsequently returned undelivered to my Department. The decision letter will now be reissued and sent to the new address which the Deputy has provided for the person in question.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

125 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to residency in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8239/09]

The person concerned applied for asylum on 18 February 2004. His application was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 10 August 2005, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State.

Representations have been submitted on behalf of the person concerned and these representations will be fully considered, under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement, before the file is passed to me for decision.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

126 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if consideration on compassionate grounds is expected to be given in respect of residency in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8240/09]

The person concerned and her three children arrived in the State on 9 October 2005 and made an initial application for asylum on 11 October 2005. The three children were included on their mother's asylum application. Her application was refused following consideration of her case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 22 August 2006, that the Minister proposed to make Deportation Orders in respect of her and her children. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of Deportation Orders or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why she and her children should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. Representations were submitted on behalf of the person concerned at that time.

The person concerned, through her legal representative, subsequently made an application for re-admittance to the asylum process in accordance with the provisions of Section 17(7) of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended) and provided additional information in support of this application. Following consideration of this application, the Minister consented to allowing the person concerned to make a fresh asylum application. The person concerned was re-admitted to the asylum process on 1 May 2007. Her three children were again included on their mother's application. The asylum application was refused following consideration of the case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 26 January 2009, that the Minister proposed to make Deportation Orders in respect of her and her children. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of Deportation Orders or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why she and her children should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. In addition, she was notified of her entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations, 2006 (S.I. No. 518 of 2006). The person concerned has submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with these Regulations and this application is under consideration at present. When consideration of this application has been completed, the person concerned will be notified in writing of the outcome.

In the event that the Subsidiary Protection application is refused, the case file of the person concerned, including all representations submitted, will then be considered under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. When this later consideration has been completed, the case file of the person concerned is passed to me for decision.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

127 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress to date in the matter of residency in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8241/09]

I refer the Deputy to his earlier Parliamentary Question, No. 63 of Thursday, 16 October 2008, and the written Reply to that Question. The person concerned applied for asylum on 9 June 2005. Her asylum application was refused following consideration of the case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 31 May 2006, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of her. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why she should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State.

Representations have been submitted on behalf of the person concerned and these representations will be fully considered, under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement, before the file is passed to me for decision.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

128 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress to date in the matter of residency in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8242/09]

I refer the Deputy to his earlier Parliamentary Question No. 407 of Tuesday, 8 April 2008, and the written Reply to that Question. The person concerned applied for asylum on 2 February 2005. His asylum application was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 30 September 2005, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him.

He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. Representations have been received on behalf of the person concerned and these representations will be fully considered, under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement, before the file is passed to me for decision.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

129 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will grant extended residency in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8243/09]

I have been informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Services of my Department that the person referred to by the Deputy has been granted permission to remain in the State on Stamp 3 (missionary) conditions until the 16th July 2009. The person should contact the Department closer to the expiry date of his permission in order for his status to be reviewed. Officials in my Department are currently considering the present policy and arrangements which should apply to religious workers.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

130 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to an application for residency in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8244/09]

I refer the Deputy to his earlier Parliamentary Question, No. 189 of Thursday, 25 September 2008, and the written Reply to that Question. The person concerned, accompanied by her infant child, applied for asylum on 16 January 2004. The child was included in her mother's application. The asylum application was refused following consideration of the case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 12 September 2005, that the Minister proposed to make Deportation Orders in respect of her and her child. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of Deportation Orders or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why she and her child should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. Representations were submitted on behalf of the person concerned at that time.

By letter dated 20 February 2008, the person concerned was notified of her entitlement to apply, within a defined time period, for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations, 2006 (S.I. No. 518 of 2006). While the person concerned did not submit an application for Subsidiary Protection in the State within the defined time period, she later submitted such an application and this application is currently under consideration. When consideration of this application has been completed, the person concerned will be notified in writing of the outcome.

In the event that the Subsidiary Protection application is refused, the case file of the person concerned, including all representations submitted, will then be considered, under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. When this latter consideration has been completed, the case file is passed to me for decision.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

131 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to residency or citizenship in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8245/09]

There is currently no application pending in my Department for residency in the case of the person whose details were supplied. If an application for asylum has been made by the person concerned the Deputy will of course be aware that it is not the practice to comment on asylum applications that are pending.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

132 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8246/09]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 229 of 18 December 2008. The position remains as stated.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

133 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8247/09]

The person concerned applied for asylum in the State on 10 January 2006. She gave birth to a child in the State in early 2006 and this child was included on her asylum application. Her application was refused following consideration of her case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 7 January 2009, that the Minister proposed to make Deportation Orders in respect of her and her child. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of Deportation Orders or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why she and her child should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. In addition, she was notified of her entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations, 2006 (S.I. No. 518 of 2006). The person concerned submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with these Regulations and this application is under consideration at present. When consideration of this application has been completed, the person concerned will be notified in writing of the outcome.

In the event that the Subsidiary Protection application is refused, the case file of the person concerned, including all representations submitted, will then be considered under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. When this latter consideration has been completed, the case file of the person concerned is passed to me for decision.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

134 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 7; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8248/09]

The person concerned applied for asylum on 16 November 2005. His application was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 14 November 2006, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. In addition, he was notified of his entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations, 2006 (S.I. No. 518 of 2006). The person concerned did not respond to my Department's letter.

The case file of the person concerned now falls to be considered under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. When this consideration has been completed, the file is passed to me for decision.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

135 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8249/09]

The person concerned applied for asylum in the State on 25 August 2004. Her application was refused following consideration of her case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 21 November 2005, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of her. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why she should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State.

Representations have been submitted on behalf of the person concerned and these representations will be fully considered, under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement, before the file is passed to me for decision.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

136 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8250/09]

The person concerned applied for asylum on 2 September 2004. His application was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. Arising from the refusal of his asylum claim, and in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 17 November 2005, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. Representations were submitted on behalf of the person concerned at that time.

On 21 February 2006, the person concerned initiated Judicial Review Proceedings in the High Court against the Refugee Appeals Tribunal, challenging the Tribunal's decision in his case. These proceedings were determined in favour of the Tribunal on 20 January 2009. Given that the Judicial Review Proceedings have been finalised, the case file of the person concerned, including all representations submitted, now falls to be considered under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. When this consideration has been completed, the case file of the person concerned is passed to me for decision.

Citizenship Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

137 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to eligibility for citizenship in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8251/09]

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

be of full age

be of good character

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

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

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

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

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

periods granted for the purposes of study

periods granted for the purposes of seeking recognition as a refugee within the meaning of the Refugee Act, 1996.

Officials in that Section inform me that there is no record of an application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question. It is open to the person concerned to lodge an application if and when they are in a position to meet the statutory requirements.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

138 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to the application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8252/09]

The person concerned applied for asylum in the State on 28 March 2006. Her application was refused following consideration of her case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 20 February 2007, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of her. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why she should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State.

In addition, she was notified of her entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations, 2006 (S.I. No. 518 of 2006). The person concerned submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with these Regulations and this application is under consideration at present. When consideration of this application has been completed, the person concerned will be notified in writing of the outcome. In the event that the Subsidiary Protection application is refused, the case file of the person concerned, including all representations submitted, will then be considered under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. When this latter consideration has been completed, the case file of the person concerned is passed to me for decision.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

139 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to the application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8253/09]

The person concerned applied for asylum on 5 September 2005. His application was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 16 October 2008, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State.

In addition, he was notified of his entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations, 2006 (S.I. No. 518 of 2006). The person concerned submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with these Regulations and this application is under consideration at present. When consideration of this application has been completed, the person concerned will be notified in writing of the outcome. In the event that the Subsidiary Protection application is refused, the case file of the person concerned, including all representations submitted, will then be considered under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. When this latter consideration has been completed, the case file of the person concerned is passed to me for decision.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

140 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to the application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8254/09]

The person concerned applied for asylum in the State on 5 September 2005. Her application was refused following consideration of her case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 16 October 2008, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of her. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why she should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State.

In addition, she was notified of her entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations, 2006 (S.I. No. 518 of 2006). The person concerned submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with these Regulations and this application is under consideration at present. When consideration of this application has been completed, the person concerned will be notified in writing of the outcome. In the event that the Subsidiary Protection application is refused, the case file of the person concerned, including all representations submitted, will then be considered under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. When this latter consideration has been completed, the case file of the person concerned is passed to me for decision.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

141 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to the application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8255/09]

I wish to inform the Deputy that the person to whom he refers was invited, by letter dated 9 October 2008, to submit representations under section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999, setting out the reasons as to why she should be permitted to remain in the State. A reply to that letter has been received in my Department and is being considered by the relevant officials. The person concerned will be contacted directly and informed of any decisions made regarding her status in the State in due course.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

142 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to the application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8256/09]

I refer the Deputy to his earlier Parliamentary Question, No. 235 of Thursday, 15 May 2008, and the written Reply to that Question. The person concerned arrived in the State on 27 November 2006 and applied for asylum. Her application was refused following consideration of her case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 6 November 2007, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of her. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why she should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. In addition, she was informed of her entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations, 2006 (S.I. No. 518 of 2006). An application for Subsidiary Protection in the State was submitted on behalf of the person concerned and this application is under consideration at present. When consideration of this application has been completed, the person concerned will be notified in writing of the outcome.

In the event that the Subsidiary Protection application is refused, the case file of the person concerned, including all representations submitted, will then be considered under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. When this latter consideration has been completed, the case file of the person concerned is passed to me for decision.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

143 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to the application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Louth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8257/09]

The person concerned applied for asylum in the State on 6 August 2002 on her own behalf and on behalf of her then three minor children. Her asylum application was refused following consideration of her case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 19 June 2003, that the Minister proposed to make Deportation Orders in respect of her and her three children. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of Deportation Orders or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why she and her three children should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. Representations were submitted on behalf of the person concerned and her children at that time.

The person concerned subsequently initiated Judicial Review Proceedings in the High Court, challenging the determination of the Refugee Applications Commissioner in her case. These Proceedings were ‘settled', in late 2007. The Terms of Settlement included a provision that would enable the three children to lodge asylum applications in their own right, which they duly did, on 8 January 2008. No final decision has yet been made in the context of the childrens' individual asylum applications.

The case of the person concerned falls to be dealt with under the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended). All representations submitted by, and on behalf of, the person concerned will be fully considered, under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement, before the file is passed to me for decision.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

144 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when an extension of residency will be granted in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8258/09]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 86 of 29 January 2009. I am informed that in the meantime the person concerned presented at his Immigration Office and the permission granted has been renewed until 3 February 2010.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

145 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress to date in the matter of residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 11; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8259/09]

I refer the Deputy to his Parliamentary Question, No. 855 of Wednesday, 24 September 2008, and the written Reply to that Question. The person concerned applied for asylum on 14 October 2003. His application was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner. The person concerned lodged an appeal against this determination with the Refugee Appeals Tribunal but later withdrew that appeal.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 11 August 2005, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. Representations have been submitted on behalf of the person concerned and these representations will be fully considered, under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement, before the file is passed to me for decision.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

146 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress to date in the matter of residency or family reunification in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8260/09]

The person concerned applied for asylum in the State on 28 August 2001. His application was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 18 June 2003, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State.

Representations were submitted on behalf of the person concerned at that time. Following consideration of his case, under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement, a Deportation Order was signed in respect of the person concerned on 6 May 2005. Notice of this Order was served by registered letter dated 20 May 2005 requiring the person concerned to present himself to the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) on 7 June 2005 in order to make travel arrangements for his deportation from the State.

The person concerned initiated Judicial Review Proceedings challenging the Deportation Order. These Proceedings were determined on 28 February 2006 with the outcome being that the Judicial Review Leave Application was refused by the High Court. On 26 January 2007, the person concerned submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with the provisions of the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations, 2006 (Statutory Instrument No. 518 of 2006). This application was not considered because the person concerned, as a person subject to a Deportation Order, did not have an automatic entitlement to make an application for Subsidiary Protection in the State. This decision was challenged in the High Court by the person concerned, on 22 March 2007, through the medium of Judicial Review Proceedings.

On 5 November 2007 the legal representative of the person concerned was notified by Officials in my Department of the recent High Court judgments which held that the Minister had a discretion under Regulation 4(2) of the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations, 2006 (Statutory Instrument No. 518 of 2006) to accept and consider an application for Subsidiary Protection from persons who did not have an automatic right to apply and, in light of this, the legal representative of the person concerned was invited, on their client's behalf, to make an application under Regulation 4(2) of the aforementioned Regulations.

An application under Regulation 4(2) of the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations, 2006 (Statutory Instrument No. 518 of 2006) was subsequently received on behalf of the person concerned. Following consideration of this application, the person concerned was notified, in writing, that the Minister had decided not to exercise his discretion to accept and consider the Subsidiary Protection application. He was further notified that, in light of this decision, the Garda National Immigration Bureau had been requested to proceed with the enforcement of the Deportation Order.

On 27 August 2008 an application to revoke the Deportation Order, in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 (11) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), was received in my Department on behalf of the person concerned. This application is under consideration in my Department at present. When a decision has been made on this application, this decision, and the consequences of the decision, will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned. The Deputy might wish to note that there is no record in my Department of an application for Family Reunification having been received in respect of the person concerned.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

147 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to family reunification in the case of persons (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8261/09]

I have been informed by the Immigration Division of my Department that the persons referred to by the Deputy entered the State on 30th July 2008 for the purpose of a visit and were granted permission to remain until 29th October 2008. Subsequently, on 8th September 2008 an application was received from the persons in question seeking permission to reside in the State on a permanent basis. On the 6th October 2008 the application was refused. A letter was issued to the persons concerned by General Immigration Division on 4th December 2008 but no reply was received. On 24th February 2009, the Immigration Division issued notices of intention to deport to the persons in question. In the notice letters, the persons concerned have been advised that they are entitled to make written representations to me setting out reasons as to why they should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

148 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8262/09]

The person concerned applied for asylum on 23 February 2005. The Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner made a determination that the asylum application of the person concerned be ‘deemed to be withdrawn' as she did not attend at that Office within five working days of her arrival in the State nor did she notify that Office of her address in the State at that time. The person concerned subsequently claimed asylum in the United Kingdom using another identity. Arising from the UK asylum application, a request was received from the UK authorities, on 18 March 2005, that this State ‘take back' the person concerned in accordance with Article 16(1)(c) of the Dublin II Regulation [Council Regulation (EC) No. 343/2003] on the basis that an earlier asylum application had been made in this State. Ireland agreed to accept responsibility and the person concerned was formally transferred to Ireland by the UK authorities.

In accordance with Section 17(1A) of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended), the person concerned was notified, by letter dated 26 July 2005, re-issued on 10 August 2005, that, based on the recommendation of the Refugee Applications Commissioner, the Minister had decided to refuse her a declaration as a refugee. In addition she was notified that, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of her. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why she should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State.

Representations have been submitted on behalf of the person concerned and these representations will be fully considered, under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement, before the file is passed to me for decision. The Deputy might wish to note that the person concerned also sought to be re-admitted to the asylum process in accordance with the provisions of Section 17(7) of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended). Following consideration of this application, a decision was taken to refuse the application and this decision was notified to the person concerned by letter dated 29 July 2005.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

149 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 7; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8263/09]

I refer the Deputy to my detailed Reply to his recent Parliamentary Question No. 104 of Thursday, 29 January 2009, in this matter. The position in the State of the person concerned is as set out in that Reply.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

150 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when residency status will be granted or extended in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 7; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8264/09]

The person concerned arrived in the State on 28 August 2000 and applied for asylum. His application was refused following consideration of his case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and on appeal, by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal. The person concerned was informed by letter dated 22 January 2003 that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him and afforded him three options in accordance with Section 3(3)(b)(ii) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended) namely to leave the State voluntarily, to consent to the making of a Deportation Order or to submit, within 15 working days, written representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State.

His case was examined under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), and Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended) on the Prohibition of Refoulement. Consideration was given to representations submitted on his behalf for permission to remain in the State. On 12 July 2004 one of my predecessors refused permission to remain temporarily in the State and instead signed a Deportation Order in respect of him. Notice of this order was served by registered post requiring the person concerned to present himself at the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB), 13-14 Burgh Quay on Tuesday 10 August 2004 in order to make travel arrangements for his removal from the State. He failed to comply with his reporting requirements and was classified as evading his deportation.

By letter dated 26 August 2008, the legal representative of the person concerned lodged an application for Subsidiary Protection pursuant to the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations, 2006 — Statutory Instrument No. 518 of 2006. By letter dated 10 September 2008 the legal representative of the person concerned was invited to make an application under Regulation 4(2) of the aforesaid Regulations setting out any new facts or circumstances relevant to the person concerned, or his country of origin, which had arisen since the original decision to deport was made and which related to a possible entitlement to Subsidiary Protection. A condition of this letter was that any representations were subject to a deadline of 10 working days from the date of the letter.

No representations were received within the specified timeline and a decision was taken to issue a further letter dated 28 October 2008 requesting the lodgement of representations and, on that occasion, affording a timeline of 5 working days for the receipt of same. As no representations were forthcoming, a final letter dated 4 December 2008 issued to the legal representative of the person concerned advising that the GNIB had been informed to proceed with the enforcement of the Deportation Order. The effect of the Deportation Order is that the person concerned must leave the State and remain thereafter out of the State. The enforcement of the Deportation Order is an operational matter for the GNIB.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

151 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the current or expected position in the matter of residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8265/09]

The person concerned entered the State on a C-Visit Visa on 18 September 2008 and was granted leave to remain in the State until 19 October 2008. The daughter of the person concerned wrote to the Immigration Division of my Department on 7 October 2008 seeking, on behalf of her father, an extension of his permission to remain in the State. Following consideration of this request, my Department decided that her father's circumstances did not warrant an extension of his C-Visit Visa period and this position was conveyed in writing to the daughter of the person concerned by letter dated 12 January 2009.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 18 February 2009, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him, as he was a person whose deportation would, in the opinion of the Minister, be conducive to the common good. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State. The 15 working day period referred to expires on 12 March 2009. It is open to the person concerned to submit representations within that period. In any event, a final decision on the case will not be made prior to the expiry of the 15 working day period referred to.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

152 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in regard to residency or citizenship in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8266/09]

Officials in the Citizenship Division of my Department inform me that there is no record of an application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question. An application for long term residency was received from the person referred to by the Deputy on 27th July 2007. I understand that applications received in April 2007 are currently being dealt with. As soon as a decision is made on the case, the person concerned will be notified.

Consular Services.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

153 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will support the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [8190/09]

As the Deputy will appreciate, requirements for permission to enter Yemen are solely matters for the Yemeni authorities. Irish citizens require a visa to enter Yemen and the information on the process is available on the website of the Yemeni Embassyhttp://www.yemenembassy.org.uk/ in London, including the application form. The website indicates that it usually takes 5 working days to process an application and that it can be arranged by post.

I would recommend that the person in question applies for a visa through the website. In the event of any further difficulty I would urge him to make contact with the Consular Division of the Department (01 4780822) to provide further assistance. I would strongly recommend to tourists that they obtain their visas before departing on holiday, so that they can be confident there won't be any difficulties following their arrival. As the Deputy will be aware my Department encourages Irish citizens travelling to remote locations to register their contact details on the Departmental on-line travel registration facility,www.dfa.ie and also that as a citizen of an EU Member State and where there is no resident Irish mission he/she is entitled to seek consular assistance from any other EU mission in that country. I would greatly appreciate if the Deputy could communicate that information to the person mentioned by him.

Sports Capital Programme.

Mary Upton

Ceist:

154 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he plans to open the sports capital programme in 2009; if he will consider the application from a club (details supplied) in Dublin 12; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8083/09]

In the 2009 Estimates, €56m has been provided in my Department's vote to cover payments to be made from the C1 subhead, out of which grants are paid for the provision of sports and recreation facilities. The club in question was allocated €200,000 under the Sports Capital Programme in 2004 for a pitch, security fencing and floodlights and the Department is considering a proposal from the club in relation to the draw down of this grant. As I announced in the House recently, no decision has been taken about the timing of future rounds of the Programme.

Grant Payments.

John Perry

Ceist:

155 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will ensure that a farm electrification grant is awarded to a person (details supplied) in County Leitrim; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8078/09]

The person referred to has recently applied to my Department for grant aid under the Farm Electrification Grant Scheme. Additional information has been requested from the applicant in order to evaluate his application in accordance with the rules of the scheme and he will be informed of the outcome in due course.

Michael Creed

Ceist:

156 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the funding available to a student pursuing a PhD in the Irish language at a college of the National University of Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8089/09]

While my Department does not provide funding of this nature generally, it does operate a scheme of bursaries for placenames research, which is open to post-graduate students at recognised third-level institutions. The operation of the scheme in 2009 will be subject to availability of funding.

Rural Development.

Phil Hogan

Ceist:

157 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if there is a training scheme available to assist the reskilling of part-time farmers in view of the change in economic circumstances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8101/09]

My Department does not operate any scheme of the nature referred to by the Deputy. The Deputy will be aware that I introduced the Rural Social Scheme in order to enable low-income farmers and fisherpersons to earn a supplementary income. The Scheme does not provide for training to assist in reskilling, nor is it intended to.

My Department also manages the LEADER element of the Rural Development Programme, which is implemented throughout the country by Local Action Groups. This includes funding towards training activities in rural areas. While such training does not cover mainstream vocational education or training geared to the general labour market, it does support training for rural communities in implementing the Programme's various measures. In addition, the Programme offers support to farm families in diversifying into non-agricultural activities.

Water and Sewerage Schemes.

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

158 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if CLÁR funding will be available in respect of water schemes in 2009; and if a water scheme (details supplied) in County Mayo will be included. [8138/09]

CLÁR Water and Sewerage schemes were closed to new applications on the 8th August 2008. No application was received for the scheme in question by that date. Against the background of the current economic climate I am reviewing the CLÁR programme as a whole, having regard to demand, the funding available and the level of outstanding commitments. In this context, I will consider the reintroduction of modified Water and Sewerage measures when circumstances allow.

Irish Language.

Brian O'Shea

Ceist:

159 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the system being put in place for translating statutory instruments into the Irish language; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8171/09]

Brian O'Shea

Ceist:

160 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs when additional translators will be employed to translate into the Irish language the more than 60,000 pages of statutory instruments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8172/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 159 and 160 together.

Details of the arrangements for translation of Statutory Instruments are currently being finalised between my Department and the Department of Finance and I will make a formal announcement as soon as is appropriate.

Official Languages Act.

Brian O'Shea

Ceist:

161 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his proposals to carry out a review of the operation of the Official Languages Act 2003 since its inception; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8173/09]

Brian O'Shea

Ceist:

162 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the cost to the State of operating the Official Languages Act 2003 since it was signed into law (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8174/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 161 and 162 together.

In relation to the cost of implementation of the Official Languages Act 2003, I refer the Deputy to my reply to Question No. 310 of 3 February 2009 and to those provided to identical Questions put down to each Minister on that date. I review the operation of the Act each year as provided for in section 5 of the Act and report formally to the Houses of the Oireachtas in that regard. My reports for the years to 2007 are available in the Library and my report for 2008 will be submitted shortly.

Civil Registration Act.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

163 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the position of a stated judgement (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8152/09]

This issue was the subject of a High Court judgement concerning the rights of a person, who has undergone gender reassignment surgery, to recognition of her acquired gender. On foot of a High Court judgment, delivered on 19 October 2007, the judge made a declaration, pursuant to Section 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003, that Sections 25, 63 and 64 of the Civil Registration Act 2004 are incompatible with the obligations of the State under the European Convention on Human Rights by reason of their failure to respect the private life of the Applicant, as required by Article 8 of the Convention, in that there are no provisions which would enable the acquired gender identity of the Applicant to be legally recognised in this jurisdiction.

This is the first time that the High Court has made a declaration of incompatibility with the European Convention on Human Rights in respect of a provision of Irish law. As such, the High Court judgement is very significant and raises complex and far-reaching issues, not merely for this case but for future cases under the European Convention on Human Rights Act. The judgment has implications for a wide range of legislative and policy areas including taxation, social welfare, pensions, family law, criminal law, equality, employment, sport, financial services, health, education and so on. As the judgment is the subject of an appeal to the Supreme Court, it is not considered appropriate for me to comment in detail at this time, other than to say that I am keeping the matter under review.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

164 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will provide a breakdown of a social welfare payment that has been awarded in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [8092/09]

The person concerned is in receipt of jobseeker's allowance from 22 December 2008 at the weekly rate of €34.90. His payment is based on a personal rate of €204.30 and a qualified adult allowance of €135.60 less weekly means of €305.00, derived from benefit from his partner's insurable employment. He has appealed this decision and his case has been forwarded to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office for determination. Under Social Welfare legislation decisions in relation to claims must be made by Deciding Officers and Appeals Officers. These officers are statutorily appointed and I have no role in regard to making such decisions.

Social Welfare Code.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

165 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if there are circumstances at the moment whereby a self-employed person can pay extra PRSI to insure themselves against loss of employment and thereby qualify for jobseeker’s benefit. [8102/09]

Workers are insured under the Social Welfare Acts as either employed or self-employed contributors. All workers, both employed and self-employed, are obliged to pay PRSI contributions as a percentage of their personal reckonable income. The range of benefits and pensions to which different groups of workers may establish entitlement reflects the risks associated with the nature of their work. This in turn reflects the rate of contribution payable. Self-employed persons aged between 16 and 66 years are liable for PRSI at the Class S rate of 3% and are consequently eligible for a narrower range of benefits than general employees who, together with their employers, pay a total social insurance contribution of 14.05%, excluding levies, under the full-rate PRSI Class A. These contributions provide entitlement to a range of contingency-based payments under various social insurance schemes.

PRSI Class S contributors are entitled to the following payments:

the Widow's or Widower's (Contributory) Pension;

the Guardian's Payment (Contributory);

the State Pension (Contributory);

Maternity Benefit;

Adoptive Benefit, and

the Bereavement Grant.

Self-employed workers are not insured against short-term benefits such as illness and jobseeker's payments — these are only available to persons covered by PRSI Classes A, E, H and P. This reflects the need for coverage for various contingencies, the rate of contributions that self-employed persons pay, the practicalities of administering and controlling access to short-term payments, and the annualised system of contributions that these same persons enjoy. A system of separate arrangements for employed and self-employed workers within a social insurance context is common in other European social protection systems.

Whilst it is not possible for Class S contributors to pay additional PRSI in order to extend cover for short-term benefits, they may however apply for the means-tested Jobseeker's Allowance. Their means would be taken as any net profit that they will earn in the coming 12 months. While their income from the previous twelve months is used as an indication in estimating their likely future earnings, it is not simply assumed that the previous year's earnings will be received in the coming year. Instead, account is taken of the potential for significant upward or downward variations in income from one year to the next.

Employment Support Services.

Mary Upton

Ceist:

166 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the incentives in place for persons (details supplied) in Dublin 12 who are anxious to get back to work and off the unemployment register; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8139/09]

The back to work scheme was introduced to assist long term unemployed people, lone parents, and sickness related welfare recipients to return to active employment either by taking up employment or becoming self-employed. It is designed to support people who would not otherwise be able to return to the workforce for financial reasons. There are two strands to the scheme, the back to work allowance (BTWA) for persons who take up employment and the back to work enterprise allowance (BTWEA) for persons who become self employed.

In order to be eligible for the receipt of back to work enterprise allowance the applicant must be in receipt of a qualifying payment for a specific length of time immediately prior to commencing employment. A recipient is allowed to keep a portion of their social welfare payment for 4 years without having to pay tax or PRSI on it. To qualify, a person must be setting up a business that a Partnership Company or a Department Facilitator has approved in writing and in the case of a persons getting Jobseekers Benefit or Jobseekers Allowance they must be in receipt of a payment for at least 2 years.

The requirement to be in receipt of a relevant social welfare payment for a minimum period has always been a feature of the scheme. The Department's locally based Facilitator's provide information on options available to people trying to set up their own business. Facilitators can be contacted through the Social Welfare Local Offices network. The Department will continue to monitor the effectiveness of the back to work scheme to ensure that it continues to assist those furthest from the labour market.

Social Welfare Code.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

167 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will review the means assessment system which places a notional income on commercial property; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8168/09]

In assessing means for social assistance purposes, account is taken of any cash income the person may have, together with the value of capital and property. The yearly value of property and capital is assessed on a notional basis. In the case of property, the market value is established and any outstanding mortgages on that property are deducted before assessment. The first €20,000 of combined capital and property is then disregarded (€50,000 in the case of disability allowance and €5,000 in the case of supplementary welfare allowance), and the balance is assessed by reference to a formula. The value of property such as the family home, land farmed by the person as well as commercial premises used in the course of the business of the claimant is not assessed. Any changes to the current arrangements would have to be considered in a Budgetary context and in the light of available resources.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

168 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when rent support will be granted in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8235/09]

Rent supplement is administered on behalf of the department by the community welfare service of the Health Service Executive as part of the supplementary welfare allowance scheme. The Executive has advised that the person concerned is in receipt of a rent supplement since 5 January 2009.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

169 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when outstanding rent support will be paid in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8237/09]

Rent supplement is administered on behalf of the department by the community welfare service of the Health Service Executive as part of the supplementary welfare allowance scheme. The Executive has advised that the person concerned has applied for a rent supplement and has been requested to provide details of any maintenance payments she may be receiving.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

170 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when child benefit will be awarded in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8267/09]

An application for Child Benefit from the person concerned in respect of her children, who are resident in Lithuania, is currently being processed. Further information is required before the claim can be decided; the person concerned has been requested to supply details of their current employment status as well as details of the person who is caring for the applicant's children in Lithuania. When this information is received, the claim will be decided as quickly as possible.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

171 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when rent support will be offered in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8269/09]

Rent supplement is administered on behalf of the department by the community welfare service of the Health Service Executive as part of the supplementary welfare allowance scheme. The Executive has advised that it has no record of an application for rent supplement from the person concerned. He should contact the community welfare officer in his area so that any entitlement he may have to rent supplement can be determined.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

172 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the correct unemployment assistance, jobseeker’s benefit or other entitlements in the case of persons (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8270/09]

The couple concerned are in receipt of a combined income (from employment, family income supplement, and supplementary welfare allowance) of €365.90 per week at this time. This is the maximum rate payable in respect of a couple with one qualified child. One of the couple had applied for jobseekers allowance on 4 February 2009 and an interview with a social welfare Inspector was scheduled for 25 February 2009. On receipt of all the necessary information and documentation a decision will be made on his claim and he will be notified of the outcome as soon as possible.

Social and Affordable Housing.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

173 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his intentions in relation to allowing affordable homeowners an exemption from paying clawback if they wanted to remortgage their property or change lender; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8103/09]

Legislative provision to facilitate arrangements under which a local authority could agree to its clawback charge ranking in second place behind a new or topped-up mortgage charge, thereby facilitating persons in affordable housing wishing to re-mortgage with a private lender, is included in the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2008, which is currently before the Oireachtas.

Housing Grants.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

174 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the level of funding provided to each local authority for housing grants to individual households in 2009; the corresponding outturn figure for 2008; the additional funding sought from each local authority for 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8119/09]

Emmet Stagg

Ceist:

175 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if local authorities have been notified of their allocation from his Department for the mobility grant, housing adaption grants and housing aid for older persons grants for 2009; if not, when this will be done; and if so, the amount in each category allocated to each local authority in 2008 and in 2009. [8149/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 174 and 175 together.

Local authorities will be notified of their capital allocations for 2009 in respect of the Housing Adaptation Grant Schemes for Older People and People with a Disability, following the publication, shortly, of the Revised Estimates for Public Services 2009. As in previous years, it will be a matter for each local authority to decide on the specific level of funding to be directed towards each of the schemes, from within the combined allocation notified to them by my Department, and to manage the operation of the schemes in their areas from within this allocation.

The schemes are funded by 80% recoupment available from my Department together with a 20% contribution from the resources of the local authority. The old Disabled Persons and Essential Repairs Grant Schemes are funded by 67% recoupment available from my Department together with a 33% contribution from the resources of the local authority. Total expenditure in respect of the Housing Adaptation Grants for Older People and People with a Disability and the Disabled Persons and Essential Repairs Grant Schemes, in 2008, amounted to €94.9 million. The total amounts recouped by my Department to each local authority in respect of each grant scheme in 2008 are outlined in the attached table.

The total estimated demand by local authorities for the operation of the Housing Adaptation Grant Schemes for Older People and People with a Disability in 2009 is approximately €147m. However, this estimate includes applications that have been assessed as eligible as well as applications not yet assessed, and the projected intake of new applications during the year.

Local Authority

Total Recoupment by D/EHLG 2008

Disabled Persons Grant 2008 Recoupment

Essential Repairs Grant 2008 Recoupment

Housing Grant Disability 2008 recoupment

Mobility Aids Grant 2008 Recoupment

Housing Aid Older People 2008 Recoupment

Carlow County Council

1,534,923

709,232

457,124

39,183

24,778

304,606

Cavan County Council

1,568,060

652,764

560,652

273,096

3,148

78,400

Clare County Council

2,100,790

1,272,775

200,838

273,467

37,181

316,529

Cork County Council

5,784,957

2,266,686

1,569,199

734,769

169,903

1,044,400

Donegal County Council

3,112,498

1,328,573

1,103,520

144,482

58,967

476,956

Dun Laoghaire/R.down Co. Council

1,692,890

939,414

49,001

535,130

24,166

145,179

Fingal County Council

1,331,236

558,256

27,607

396,191

37,377

311,805

Galway County Council

1,671,884

989,265

682,619

Kerry County Council

2,320,709

1,483,790

668,385

19,049

37,508

111,977

Kildare County Council

1,822,582

1,124,593

630,752

60,277

6,960

Kilkenny County Council

596,350

366,036

22,511

48,000

2,384

157,419

Laois County Council

1,829,228

961,983

468,514

249,058

35,112

114,561

Leitrim County Council

1,310,551

622,566

422,683

75,989

17,992

171,321

Limerick County Council

1,190,035

684,506

145,070

152,654

100,765

107,040

Longford County Council

966,847

493,183

155,842

41,962

61,317

214,543

Louth County Council

2,030,581

1,710,971

149,356

35,745

10,344

124,165

Mayo County Council

2,011,125

778,493

658,825

62,843

180,996

329,968

Meath County Council

3,283,476

2,321,715

961,761

Monaghan County Council

1,470,218

782,757

233,272

314,097

21,269

118,823

North Tipperary County Council

1,432,124

1,042,378

190,933

47,690

80,613

70,510

Offaly County Council

993,344

964,743

28,601

Roscommon County Council

1,579,457

846,869

666,669

5,474

11,959

48,486

Sligo County Council

493,490

192,701

73,934

91,022

21,650

114,183

South Dublin County Council

2,975,713

1,985,864

602,595

212,269

26,806

148,179

South Tipperary County Council

1,358,885

705,142

100,098

373,018

155,686

24,941

Waterford County Council

1,690,822

210,227

129,076

855,040

27,428

469,051

Westmeath County Council

1,361,958

708,823

195,549

277,899

10,689

168,998

Wexford County Council

1,656,321

687,782

333,199

374,487

100,008

160,845

Wicklow County Council

1,416,332

935,036

164,523

164,021

68,437

84,315

Cork City Council

1,546,070

906,648

394,410

24,361

220,651

Dublin City Council

9,227,259

7,254,533

611,911

946,410

31,904

382,501

Galway City Council

922,136

573,055

93,845

227,433

27,803

Limerick City Council

791,513

442,075

263,809

21,069

64,560

Waterford City Council

481,126

237,160

6,353

237,613

Sligo Borough Council

300,894

138,772

14,262

47,240

4,232

96,388

Total

65,856,384

37,879,366

12,379,079

7,736,214

1,442,812

6,418,913

Wildlife Habitats.

Joanna Tuffy

Ceist:

176 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the steps taken to protect the wildlife habitat on the east coast of County Louth; if his attention has been drawn to the public’s concerns regarding proposals for a turbine plant at that location; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8165/09]

I refer to the reply to Question No. 379 of 17 February, 2009. The position is unchanged.

Election Management System.

Charlie O'Connor

Ceist:

177 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans for the local and European elections in June 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8170/09]

The timing of European Parliament elections is determined by the EU Council of Ministers by reference to the period corresponding to the first direct elections in 1979. Accordingly, they are held within a specified four-day period in June every five years subsequent to 1979. The Council announced in June 2008 that the 2009 European Parliament elections will take place between 4 and 7 June 2009. Polling at the European Parliament and local elections will take place in Ireland on Friday 5 June 2009 between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. Individuals not on the Register of Electors can avail of the supplement to the Register up until 15 days before polling day i.e. Monday 18 May.

Noise Pollution.

Joanna Tuffy

Ceist:

178 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding his proposals to bring in new noise regulations; if he will establish a system whereby neighbours in dispute over high noise levels can have their dispute mediated or arbitrated upon as opposed to having to go to court; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8180/09]

Joanna Tuffy

Ceist:

179 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the steps he will take to reform noise regulation in view of a consultation paper on noise pollution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8196/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 178 and 179 together.

My Department is currently preparing proposals to strengthen the existing legislation on noise pollution, in line with the commitment in the Programme for Government. A public consultation process has been completed, and account is being taken of submissions received from the public and key stakeholders. While there is already a wide range of measures in place to deal with noise from a variety of sources, I intend that the new legislation will take a more integrated approach to noise pollution. There will be a greater emphasis on codes of practice for construction, commercial and domestic situations. Local authorities will have stronger enforcement powers to deal with nuisances from particular noise sources such as continuously sounding alarms, and I also see the need to extend the powers of the Garda Síochána in certain circumstances. There will, in addition, be measures to increase awareness of noise nuisance and of how it can be remedied.

I am also examining the role mediation may have in the case of neighbours in dispute over high noise levels. However, currently, under an inexpensive simplified procedure in the district court, any person may seek an order to have noise causing annoyance abated. The procedures involved have been simplified to allow action to be taken without legal representation. A guide to these noise regulations including the simplified procedure can be downloaded from the following web address:

http://www.environ.ie/en/Environment/NoiseIssuesConsultationPaper/PublicationsDocuments/ FileDownLoad,1319,en.pdf

Local Authority Housing.

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

180 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will make a statement on the application by a council (details supplied) in County Kerry to improve its housing stock. [8201/09]

A Remedial Works Scheme application in relation to the estates in question was received late last year and, following an evaluation process, my Department has informed Tralee Town Council that it is favourably disposed towards the proposed project and would, subject to available funding, like to have it progress under the Remedial Works Programme 2009-2011. In a letter, which issued on 9 February 2009, the Council was advised that the progression of the project will, however, be contingent on certain details of design, costing and phasing being reviewed and agreed with my Department. The information in this regard sought by my Department is awaited.

Telecommunications Services.

Tom Sheahan

Ceist:

181 Deputy Tom Sheahan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources when the people of Glenbeigh, County Kerry can expect to have broadband; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8118/09]

My Department has entered into a contract with "3", a Hutchison Whampoa company, for the delivery of the National Broadband Scheme (NBS). 3 is currently planning the construction and roll out of the required infrastructure for the purposes of the provision of the service. Challenging roll out targets have been agreed with 3. Services will begin to be rolled out in April 2009 and the entire NBS area must be covered by September 2010. Although the general area of Glenbeigh, Co. Kerry will be covered by the NBS, 3 are not yet in a position to state exactly when the service will be rolled out in each area.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

182 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources when discussions will be completed on the next generation broadband consultation papers; if a decision has been made on the roll out of phase II of the MANs projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8122/09]

The consultation period for the Next Generation Broadband policy paper closed last October. My officials have examined the written submissions received and the contributions made at a one day consultation forum that I hosted on 30th September 2008. I intend to publish a final report shortly having regard to the contributions received. Any future broadband investment decisions, including investment in further phases of the Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs) Programme, will be guided by (i) the final policy paper on Next Generation Broadband, (ii) the Value for Money and Policy Review of Phase I of the MANs Programme, which was published last year, (iii) any other analysis as appropriate and (iv) the availability of resources.

Grant Payments.

John Perry

Ceist:

183 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will ensure that the farm waste management grant is awarded to a person (details supplied) in County Sligo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8079/09]

The arrangements for payment of grants under the Farm Waste Management Scheme on a phased basis have been confirmed with 40 per cent being paid this year as claims are approved. A further 40 per cent will be paid in early January 2010 and the remaining 20 per cent in January 2011. Payment of the initial 40 per cent to farmers will be made as expeditiously as possible.

John Perry

Ceist:

184 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will ensure that a person (details supplied) in County Sligo receives their farm waste management scheme grant payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8080/09]

The arrangements for payment of grants under the Farm Waste Management Scheme on a phased basis have been confirmed with 40 per cent being paid this year as claims are approved. A further 40 per cent will be paid in early January 2010 and the remaining 20 per cent in January 2011. Payment of the initial 40 per cent to farmers will be made as expeditiously as possible.

Michael Creed

Ceist:

185 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Cork who is an applicant under REPS 4 will receive their first REPS payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8085/09]

REPS 4 is a measure under the current Rural Development Programme 2007-13 and is subject to EU Regulations which require detailed administrative checks on all applications to be completed before the first payments issue. The first payments for 2008 REPS 4 applications issued in the last week of January to those whose applications required no correction following the administrative checks. Further payments continue to be made as applications are cleared. Queries have arisen during the administrative checks on the plan of the person named and it is currently under further examination.

Michael Creed

Ceist:

186 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will receive payment under the farm waste management scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8086/09]

The arrangements for payment of grants under the Farm Waste Management Scheme on a phased basis have been confirmed with 40 per cent being paid this year as claims are approved. A further 40 per cent will be paid in early January 2010 and the remaining 20 per cent in January 2011. Payment of the initial 40 per cent to farmers will be made as expeditiously as possible.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

187 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when persons (details supplied) in County Mayo will be granted the farm waste management grant. [8090/09]

The persons named are applicants for grant aid under the Farm Waste Management Scheme. My Department is currently examining the application and a decision will be made as soon as possible.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

188 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Galway will be granted the REP scheme. [8091/09]

REPS 4 is a measure under the current Rural Development Programme 2007-13 and is subject to EU Regulations which require detailed administrative checks on all applications to be completed before the first payments issue. The first payments for 2008 REPS 4 applications issued in the last week of January to those whose applications required no correction following the administrative checks. Further payments continue to be made as applications are cleared. Queries have arisen during the administrative checks on the plan of the person named and it is currently under further examination.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

189 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be granted REPS 4. [8093/09]

REPS 4 is a measure under the current Rural Development Programme 2007-13 and is subject to EU Regulations which require detailed administrative checks on all applications to be completed before the first payments issue. The first payments for 2008 REPS 4 applications issued in the last week of January to those whose applications required no correction following the administrative checks. Further payments continue to be made as applications are cleared. Queries have arisen during the administrative checks on the plan of the person named and it is currently under further examination.

Rural Environment Protection Scheme.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

190 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason checking of a scheme (details supplied) has been changed in view of the delays it is causing. [8094/09]

The arrangements for REPS 4 are derived from new EU Regulations governing the current rural development programming period. The provisions of these Regulations are different in significant respects from those governing the previous period. In addition, and notwithstanding the fact that no such criticisms had been voiced during numerous previous audits, auditors from both the European Commission and the European Court of Auditors commented adversely in early 2008 on a number of aspects of my Department's procedures for processing REPS applications.

In the light of the provisions of the new Regulations and the auditors' comments, it was necessary to make significant changes to my Department's procedures. In particular, it was necessary to develop systems for exhaustive checks on all applications including farm plans. Under the new Regulations, the first part of each year's payment, which is 75%, can be made only when all administrative checks on all 2008 applications for REPS 4 and the Single Payment Scheme are completed. These include checks on areas and on the plan details.

Many REPS 4 plans have been prepared using eREPS, the electronic planning system approved and funded by my Department. The information on these plans is in computerised format and it was necessary to develop an appropriate computer based control system for checking these plans. This was a lengthy process and the system was only available from late autumn. However a substantial minority of plans submitted were not prepared using eREPS. Administrative checks on these have to be done manually and are extremely time-consuming. An effect of industrial action in my Department's local offices last year was that this process was delayed. In these circumstances my Department sought some flexibility from the European Commission which would have allowed payment of those REPS 4 cases which had been fully cleared, but the Commission were not prepared to allow this. The first payments for 2008 REPS 4 applications issued in the last week of January to those whose applications required no correction following the administrative checks. Further payments continue to be made as applications are cleared.

Grant Payments.

Olwyn Enright

Ceist:

191 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, further to Parliamentary Question No. 1363 of 27 January 2009, when a payment will be made in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Offaly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8097/09]

The arrangements for payment of grants under the Farm Waste Management Scheme on a phased basis have been confirmed with 40 per cent being paid this year as claims are approved. A further 40 per cent will be paid in early January 2010 and the remaining 20 per cent in January 2011. Payment of the initial 40 per cent to farmers will be made as expeditiously as possible.

Phil Hogan

Ceist:

192 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a REP scheme payment will be made in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8100/09]

REPS 4 is a measure under the current Rural Development Programme 2007-13 and is subject to EU Regulations which require detailed administrative checks on all applications to be completed before the first payments issue. The first payments for 2008 REPS 4 applications issued in the last week of January to those whose applications required no correction following the administrative checks. Further payments continue to be made as applications are cleared. Queries have arisen during the administrative checks on the plan of the person named and it is currently under further examination.

Departmental Correspondence.

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

193 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will take steps to have a reply furnished to correspondence (details supplied); and if a comprehensive reply will be given thereto in view of the issue which is involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8111/09]

I wish to inform the Deputy that a reply will issue within the next seven days.

Rural Environment Protection Scheme.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

194 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, further to Parliamentary Question No. 245 of 6 November 2008, the position regarding the audits; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8120/09]

The European Court of Auditors and the European Commission both carried out audits on REPS in early 2008. The conclusions of the audit by the Court have been published but I am still awaiting the outcome of the audit by the Commission.

Grant Payments.

Dinny McGinley

Ceist:

195 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when agriculture grants will be awarded to a person (details supplied) in County Donegal. [8137/09]

The arrangements for payment of grants under the Farm Waste Management Scheme on a phased basis have been confirmed 40% being paid this year as claims are approved. A further 40% will be paid in early January 2010 and the remaining 20% in January 2011. Payment of the initial 40% to farmers will be made as expeditiously as possible.

Joe Carey

Ceist:

196 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Clare can expect the first 40% payment under the current farm waste management scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8140/09]

The arrangements for payment of grants under the Farm Waste Management Scheme on a phased basis have been confirmed with 40 per cent being paid this year as claims are approved. A further 40 per cent will be paid in early January 2010 and the remaining 20 per cent in January 2011. Payment of the initial 40 per cent to farmers will be made as expeditiously as possible.

Fisheries Protection.

Liz McManus

Ceist:

197 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his views on the hardship experienced by the only beam trawler owned on the east coast which has been told that it can only fish home waters for 24 days over a three month period from February to May 2009; his views on whether this trawler with full beamer tonnage with Irish sea entitlement is seriously restricted from fishing and may no longer be a viable working vessel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8144/09]

New rules restricting fishing vessels' days at sea in the Irish Sea and the waters to the northwest of Ireland and Scotland have been introduced as part of the EU's revised Cod Recovery Plan. The plan has introduced a new system of effort management that sets effort ceilings (expressed in kilowatt-days) for groups of vessels or fleet segments. The management of these ceilings has been devolved to the national level. Member States have received annual allocations of fishing effort for the areas covered by the Plan, which include the Irish Sea (ICES area VIIa) and the waters to the northwest of Ireland and Scotland (ICES area VIa). The effort allocation levels were established by the EU Fisheries Council on the basis of an EU Commission proposal. They were calculated by averaging the fishing activity levels of each Member State in the areas during a reference period of 2004-2006 or 2005-2007 and then reducing that effort by 25%. This methodology means there is now limited fishing effort available for all Community vessels, including Irish vessels, fishing in the designated areas.

Under the plan, each Member State is required to introduce a licensing regime to manage its effort allocations. Any vessel longer than 10 metres overall must have an authorisation from its Member State in order to operate in one of the designated areas using the fishing gears covered by the plan. Member States can decide on the method of allocating their national pools of fishing effort, which are broken down by fishing gear type. Following consultations with representatives of the Irish fishing industry, a pilot system of authorisations and allocations of fishing effort was introduced for the period from 1 February to 30 April 2009.

The pilot scheme used the following approach to allocate fishing effort in areas VIa and VIIa to Irish vessels for the pilot management period of 1 February to 30 April 2009:

The track records of vessels operating in VIa and VIIa during the reference period of 2005-2008 were assessed to determine their eligibility to receive an authorisation to fish and an allocation of days-at-sea under the pilot scheme. Each vessel's "best year" of fishing days in the areas during the reference period was used to establish its track record.

Distribution bands were established for each of the specified gear types to facilitate the allocation of days-at-sea to vessels based on their track records with those gears. Each vessel's level of track record with a gear type fit into one of the distribution bands for that gear type. The vessel then was allocated the number days-at-sea for that gear which were associated with that distribution band.

The days-at-sea allocations for the first management period (1 February to 30 April 2009) were given on a pro-rata basis for each gear type based on Irish vessels' traditional fishing pattern with the gears in the area during that those months (e.g., if the months were traditionally very busy for a gear type, a higher portion of days-at-sea were allocated for that gear).

The allocations for vessels using beam trawls for the period 1 February to 30 April were determined on this basis. I appreciate that the introduction of these new conservation measures are a challenge and I have established a Steering Group involving the Federation of Irish Fishermen (FIF), the Department and agencies to provide support to the industry in relation to the practical implementation of these new measures. The effort allocations already made were done on a pilot basis only and I am happy to make amendments where proposed by the Federation of Irish Fishermen (FIF) within the legal framework that has been established.

Departmental Expenditure.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

198 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the funds paid to date to processors following the pork recall; the funds to be paid; the persons to whom they are to be paid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8164/09]

The agreement concluded with pig processors in December involves making available a facility of €180 million from the public finances to assist processors in funding the recall and destruction of certain pork products from the market and product in storage. To date, a total of €37.16m has been paid to processors as interim payments. These were by way of advances to the industry comprising of €10.52m and €26.64m between the primary and secondary sectors respectively. Final claims have not yet been submitted. Funds are being paid to primary and secondary processors who make valid application for assistance. Funding is also being used to pay for verification, rendering and destruction services to the scheme.

Afforestation Programme.

Joanna Tuffy

Ceist:

199 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if there are proposals to carry out an extensive tree planting programme to reduce carbon emissions, similar to a scheme that was adopted in Israel where several million additional trees have been grown since 1948; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8179/09]

Forests play an important role in combating climate change by absorbing harmful greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. The Strategic Plan for the Development of the Forestry Sector in Ireland ‘Growing for the Future,' sets a target for forest cover of 17% of the total land area to be achieved by 2035. Over the period of the National Development Plan, 2007 to 2013, the short-term objective is to grow annual planting to 10,000 hectares per annum. While the average rate of planting over the last three years was 7,000 hectares per year, almost 110,000 hectares of new forests have been planted under my Department's Afforestation Scheme over the past 10 years. At the end of 2008 the national forest estate comprised of approximately 730,000 hectares, or 10.5% of the land area of the country.

Planting of trees is supported by my Department through the current suite of Afforestation Grant and Premium Schemes. The establishment grant covers 100% of the planting costs, while the annual forestry premium is payable to farmers for 20 years. Both the grant and premium rates have been reviewed in recent times and increased to make the scheme more attractive. The expansion of Ireland's forest estate has been a policy objective of successive Irish Governments and this Government is committed to maintaining that policy.

Installation Aid Scheme.

Andrew Doyle

Ceist:

200 Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will confirm that the installation aid scheme is closed to new applicants as stated in the reply to Parliamentary Question No. 232 of 18 February 2009 and not temporarily suspended as stated in December 2008; if he conducted a review of the impact of the scheme on the recruitment of new farmers into the profession; and if he envisages a new scheme to foster the recruitment of new trained farmers into the profession in 2009 and onwards. [8206/09]

The Young Farmers' Installation Scheme was closed to new applicants on 14 October 2008. I have no immediate plans to reopen entry to the scheme at this time.

Food Labelling.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

201 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when the implementation of country of origin labelling will be passed into Irish law; if he has received correspondence from a group (details supplied) in this regard; the action he will take to address this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8214/09]

I have received representations from the named group in relation to country of origin. The Minister for Health & Children has overall responsibility for the general food labelling legislation. Under the general labelling Directive (2000/13/EC), the place of origin of the foodstuff must be given only if its absence might mislead the consumer to a material degree. The European Commission is currently undertaking a major review of all food labelling legislation. In this context the Commission has prepared draft revised labelling regulations and these are being discussed at Council Working Party level in Brussels. These draft regulations will be submitted to the EU Council of Health Ministers during 2009.

Notwithstanding the outcome of the current review on origin labelling my Department had taken steps to try to introduce origin labelling for meats other than beef, which is already subject to specific legislation since September 2000. It should be noted that there are EU Regulations, which provide for the labelling of unprocessed poultry meat at retail level. The Regulations require such poultry meat to be labelled with the information regarding class, price, condition, registered number of slaughterhouse or cutting plant and, where imported from a Third Country, an indication of country of origin.

My Department, in conjunction with the Department of Health and Children, drafted regulations that would require the country of origin to be indicated on pigmeat, poultry and sheepmeat. This was notified to the EU Commission in December 2007 as required by legislation. The Commission was not prepared to adopt the draft regulations in their present format on the grounds that the proposed legislation is not in compliance with EU food labelling regulations. The Commission's main contention is that only harmonised rules with EU-wide applicability may be applied to food labelling other than in exceptional circumstances. In March, the EU Commission delivered a negative opinion on the regulations but afforded Ireland an opportunity to provide further information in support of them. In the meantime, the Department provided additional details including the current misleading labelling practices and evidence of consumers' desire for country of origin labelling. However the EU Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health formally adopted the negative opinion in December 2008.

We will continue to pursue this issue at EU level in the context of the current review. It should also be noted that products carrying the Bord Bia quality assurance label provide consumers with assurance on product origin.

Student Support Schemes.

Michael Creed

Ceist:

202 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Education and Science the funding available to a student completing PhD studies at a college of the National University of Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8087/09]

Under the terms of my Department's Third Level Maintenance Grant Schemes (which are administered on behalf of the Department by the Local Authorities and the Vocational Education Committees) the position is that students who are entering approved courses for the first time are eligible to be considered for grants where they satisfy the relevant conditions as to residence, means, nationality and previous academic attainment. An approved course for the purposes of the Schemes means a full-time undergraduate course of not less than two years duration and a full-time postgraduate course of not less than one year duration pursued in an approved institution.

The progression route at postgraduate level, for grant purposes, is as follows:- Higher Diploma/Postgraduate Diploma, Masters, PhD/Doctorate. The Free Fees Initiative does not extend to postgraduate study in Ireland, however, if a candidate qualifies for the means-tested maintenance grant he/she could have their fees paid up to the maximum fee limit of €6,270, for the 2009/2010 academic year.

School Accommodation.

Pat Breen

Ceist:

203 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Education and Science when an educational needs assessment will be carried out in respect of a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8099/09]

The Forward Planning Section of my Department is currently identifying the areas throughout the country where significant additional accommodation will be needed at primary and post-primary level in the medium to long term. This process will include an examination of the area where the school to which the Deputy refers is located. Factors under consideration include population growth, demographic trends, current and projected enrolments, recent and planned housing developments and the capacity of existing schools to meet the demand for places. The accommodation needs for the school concerned will be considered in this context and addressed under the school building and modernisation programme consistent with the priority attaching to the project and the availability of funding.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

204 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science when the funding for the replacement of four substandard prefabs at a school (details supplied) in Dublin 3 as set out in previous parliamentary questions will be formally approved and become payable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8110/09]

As the Deputy is aware, my Department has taken a decision in principle to replace a number of prefabs at the school to which he refers. The school has been given approval to tender for the prefabs in question. Formal approval, including details on funding, will be given to the school authority when the outcome of the tendering process is known.

Summer Works Scheme.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

205 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Science when the summer works scheme will be reopened for new applications; if those submitted in 2007 will be prioritised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8121/09]

I intend to have a Summer Works Scheme this year. The level of funding to be made available for the 2009 scheme is being considered. In the meantime, applications submitted for the Summer Works Scheme in 2008 are currently being assessed and the schools will be notified of the outcome of this assessment in due course. A decision on the timing of a further call for proposals will be made in light of the outcome of this assessment. The Professional and Technical Reports provided by schools for 2008 can be used again for future projects so that schools will not be at the loss of expenditure on them.

Special Educational Needs.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

206 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will review the criteria for the appointment of special needs assistants in primary schools; if he will extend the criteria to include the education needs of children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8124/09]

I wish to advise the Deputy that there are now over 19,000 staff in our schools working solely with children with special needs. This includes over 10,000 Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) — compared with just 300 in 1997. As the Deputy will be aware, applications for SNA support may be considered by the National Council for Special Education where a pupil has a significant medical need for such assistance and where there are identified care needs arising from a diagnosed disability. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support.

SNAs and teachers have separate yet complementary roles. SNAs provide care support to pupils with special educational needs who have been assessed as having such needs while teachers deliver education to the pupils. I have no plans, at present, to extend the SNA role to that of a para-educator. The Deputy is also aware that a Value for Money and Policy Review of the Special Needs Assistant scheme is currently being undertaken by my Department. The Value for Money and Policy Review Initiative is part of a framework introduced to secure improved value for money from public expenditure. The objectives of the review are to analyse Exchequer spending in a systematic manner and to provide a basis on which more informed policy decisions can be made. It is one of a range of modernisation initiatives aimed at moving public sector management away from the traditional focus on inputs to concentrate on the achievement of outcomes. To support the overall process, the review will include engagement with parent representatives, schools, education partners and other representative groups. It is expected that the review will be completed by the end of 2009.

Higher Education Grants.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

207 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason a Romanian national is not treated in a similar manner to other EU nationals for third level college fees and the higher education grant due to the fact that they commenced their course prior to Romanian accession to the EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8128/09]

Under the terms of the Higher Education Grants Scheme administered by the Local Authorities on behalf of my Department, the position is that, students who are entering approved courses for the first time are eligible for grants provided they satisfy the relevant conditions as to residence, means, nationality and previous academic attainment. Students continue to be assessed under the terms of the Scheme relevant to the year of entry to an approved course.

The Nationality requirement as set out in the 2008 Grant schemes states:

Candidates must:

hold EU Nationality; or

have Official Refugee Status; or

have been granted Humanitarian Leave to Remain in the State (prior to the Immigration Act 1999); or

be a person in respect of whom the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform has granted permission to remain following a determination not to make a deportation order under section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999; or

have permission to remain in the State by virtue of marriage to an Irish national residing in the State, or be the child of such person, not having EU nationality; or

have permission to remain in the State by virtue of marriage to a national of another EU Member State who is residing in the State and who is or has been employed, or self-employed, in the State, or be the child of such a person, not having EU nationality; or

be nationals of a member country of the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.

In accordance with the terms of the 2008 grants schemes and consistent with the conditions attaching to the Free Fees Initiative only those students from Accession Countries who are entering Higher Education for the first time will be eligible, provided that they satisfy all the conditions of the schemes.

I understand that in the specific case referred to by the Deputy the student concerned commenced their course prior to Romanian accession to the EU. Accordingly, they must be assessed under the prescribed terms of the HEG Scheme relevant to their year of entry. As the candidate did not meet the nationality requirement prescribed under the relevant Scheme, he/she is ineligible for higher education grant assistance. There are no plans to change the eligibility criteria in this regard

Student Support Schemes.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

208 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason the millennium partnership fund for supporting third level students is being abandoned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8129/09]

The intention to change the focus of the Millennium Partnership Fund for the 2009/2010 academic year was signalled to partnership companies and community partnerships in 2007. Following a comprehensive consultation process in the interim, it is intended that in 2009 eligible partnership companies and community partnerships will be invited to make applications for funding through the re-oriented Fund which will focus on community-based approaches to supporting access to higher education in the areas of greatest need. The Fund is operating as usual for the current academic year 2008/2009.

School Staffing.

Pádraic McCormack

Ceist:

209 Deputy Pádraic McCormack asked the Minister for Education and Science the position regarding a school (details supplied) in County Galway; the way this school can have the possibility of losing a teacher; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8131/09]

The 2009 Budget required difficult choices to be made across all areas of public expenditure. These decisions were made to control public expenditure and to ensure sustainability in the long run. In this respect Education, while protected to a much greater extent than most other areas of public expenditure, could not be totally spared. The various impacts at school level were included in the Budget day announcements. Even with the budget measures in place there will still be a significantly increased borrowing requirement in 2009.

I fully accept that these decisions are not of themselves desirable and that they can only be justified by the imperative of securing the future economic stability of the country. I have called for co-operation from all the education partners in meeting the challenges facing us both as an education community and as a country. The staffing schedule for the 2009/2010 school year, Primary Circular 0002/2009, has been published on my Department's website atwww.education.ie and my officials have written to all schools to notify them in this regard. The schedule is a transparent and clear way of ensuring that schools are treated consistently and fairly and know where they stand.

Under a system that allocates additional teachers at different step points under a common schedule it is a fact of life that one single pupil change in enrolment can cause a school to lose or gain a teacher. In recent years when improvements were being made to the staffing schedule it was also the case that there were winners and losers depending on individual enrolment profiles. If I were to change the staffing schedule to allow the schools that are due to lose a teacher to retain that teaching post I would be treating them differently from other schools with the exact same number on the rolls and I do not propose to do so.

I have a responsibility to ensure that whatever the overall level of allocation the system for allocating teachers to schools is transparent and fair where everyone knows where they stand and each school knows that it is getting the same number of mainstream class teachers as the school up the road with similar enrolment. The system should not create anomalies or operate on the basis that one or more schools should be treated differently to others.

The allocation process includes appellate mechanisms under which schools can appeal against the allocation due to them under the staffing schedule. The final allocation to a school is also a function of the operation of the redeployment panels which provide for the retention of a teacher in an existing school if a new post is not available within the agreed terms of the scheme.

Higher Education Grants.

Emmet Stagg

Ceist:

210 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Education and Science if his attention has been drawn to the fact that some county councils are paying higher education grants in respect of Erasmus year whilst others are not (details supplied); and if he will issue a direction to all county councils to approve such grants. [8150/09]

The Higher Education Grants Scheme provides that where grant holders, as part of their approved course, are required to attend foreign university courses for a period of up to one year, a maintenance grant may continue to be paid where the period abroad does not affect the normal duration of the approved course. In these situations, the higher non-adjacent rate of maintenance grant is payable for the duration of the grant holder's study abroad. The candidate referred to by the Deputy has been approved for a three year Bachelor of Arts and the Erasmus year is deemed to extend the normal duration of the approved course.

School Staffing.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

211 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science his views in relation to a submission (details supplied); if the appeal as stated has been dealt with; if not, when this will occur; when the staffing query as stated will be addressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8151/09]

The staffing schedule for the 2009/2010 school year, Primary Circular 0002/2009, has been published on my Department's website atwww.education.ie and my officials have written to all schools to notify them in this regard. The number of mainstream class teachers appropriate to a school for 2009/10 school year is determined by reference to the school’s valid enrolment on 30 September, 2008. The schedule is a transparent and clear way of ensuring that schools are treated consistently and fairly and know where they stand.

The staffing schedule also makes provision for schools that are projecting significantly increased enrolments for September 2009 through the allocation of what are known as "developing posts". These classroom teaching posts are allocated to schools based on projected enrolments for September 2009 rather than on past enrolments for September 2008 which is the case for most schools. This allocation process for developing posts takes places during the Spring and Summer period when schools apply to the Department based on their projected enrolments for September 2009. The developing posts are allocated on a provisional basis initially and are confirmed following receipt from the school of actual enrolments in September 2009.

The school which the Deputy has referred to are projecting an enrolment of 188 pupils for 1 September 2009 which is in excess of the required 179 pupils necessary for the appointment of a sixth mainstream teacher on developing grounds for the coming school year. My officials have been in touch with the school in this regard and I understand that provisional sanction for a developing post will issue to the school.

Physical Education Facilities.

Charlie O'Connor

Ceist:

212 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Education and Science the status of plans for a physical education hall in respect of a school (details supplied) in Dublin 12; if his attention has been drawn to the campaign by the school community in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8169/09]

The school to which the Deputy refers has applied to my Department for large scale capital funding for works including a PE Hall. 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.

School Staffing.

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

213 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Education and Science his views on the case of a school (details supplied) in view of his proposal to increase the pupil-teacher ratio; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8191/09]

The 2009 Budget required difficult choices to be made across all areas of public expenditure. These decisions were made to control public expenditure and to ensure sustainability in the long run. In this respect Education, while protected to a much greater extent than most other areas of public expenditure, could not be totally spared. The various impacts at school level were included in the Budget day announcements. Even with the budget measures in place there will still be a significantly increased borrowing requirement in 2009. I fully accept that these decisions are not of themselves desirable and that they can only be justified by the imperative of securing the future economic stability of the country. I have called for co-operation from all the education partners in meeting the challenges facing us both as an education community and as a country.

The staffing schedule for the 2009/2010 school year, Primary Circular 0002/2009, has been published on my Department's website atwww.education.ie and my officials have written to all schools to notify them in this regard. The schedule is a transparent and clear way of ensuring that schools are treated consistently and fairly and know where they stand. Under a system that allocates additional teachers at different step points under a common schedule it is a fact of life that one single pupil change in enrolment can cause a school to lose or gain a teacher. In recent years when improvements were being made to the staffing schedule it was also the case that there were winners and losers depending on individual enrolment profiles. If I were to change the staffing schedule to allow the schools that are due to lose a teacher to retain that teaching post I would be treating them differently from other schools with the exact same number on the rolls and I do not propose to do so.

I have a responsibility to ensure that whatever the overall level of allocation the system for allocating teachers to schools is transparent and fair where everyone knows where they stand and each school knows that it is getting the same number of mainstream class teachers as the school up the road with similar enrolment. The system should not create anomalies or operate on the basis that one or more schools should be treated differently to others. The allocation process includes appellate mechanisms under which schools can appeal against the allocation due to them under the staffing schedule. The final allocation to a school is also a function of the operation of the redeployment panels which provide for the retention of a teacher in an existing school if a new post is not available within the agreed terms of the scheme.

Schools Building Projects.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

214 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in regard to the provision of the new school facilities in respect of a school (detail supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8215/09]

County Kildare Vocational Education Committee as client/contracting authority for the project referred to by the Deputy, is currently re-locating the school and extending capacity to 1,000 pupils. The project is currently in construction and is due to reach completion later this year.

School Accommodation.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

215 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will address the ongoing issue of temporary classroom accommodation in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8216/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

223 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the extent to which the school building programme is expected to meet long-standing requirements with particular reference to replacement of prefabricated buildings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8225/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

224 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the extent to which he will prioritise the replacement of temporary or prefabricated school buildings in the course of 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8226/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 215, 223 and 224 together.

Under the current National Development Plan (2007-2013), a total of almost €4.5bn, the largest investment in the history of the State, has been allocated to the school building programme. This investment will build on the achievements of the last National Development Plan 2000-2006, when an aggregate total of well over €2.6 billion was invested in upgrading the existing school infrastructure and providing new school accommodation at both first level and second level.

The original allocation for school building in 2009 of €581m has recently been increased by €75m. It represents a significant investment in the school building and modernisation programme. As the Deputy will appreciate, the climate within which the 2009 Budget has been framed is very different to that of recent years. The Government has been faced with very difficult choices across all areas of public spending. This level of funding for the building programme, at a time of great pressure on public finances, is a sign of the very real commitment of this Government to investing in school infrastructure and will permit the continuation of progress in the overall improvement of school accommodation.

Currently in my Department's school building and modernisation programme, there are 74 major projects at stage 3 (55 at primary and 19 at post primary level) which have been approved to proceed to tender and construction but are not yet on site. These projects include the 10 which I announced in January of this year and the 43 which I announced earlier this month. There are currently 28 major projects in construction (20 at primary and 8 at post primary level). As well as delivering additional school places to meet the needs of a rapidly increasing school going population and improving existing school infrastructure this programme funded investment in site purchases, the annual minor works grant to all primary schools, the asbestos and radon remediation programmes, science and technology initiatives, emergency works and grants for the purchase of furniture and equipment. It is also my intention to have a Summer Works Scheme in 2009.

The Deputy will be aware that demand for additional accommodation in schools has risen significantly over the last number of years, with the appointment of 6,000 extra teachers in the primary sector alone since 2002. It will continue to be necessary for prefabricated accommodation to be provided because competing priorities mean that it will not always be possible to have a permanent accommodation solution in place in a short timeframe. My Department will continue to provide funding for such prefabricated accommodation. In July of last year I introduced a further innovation which allows those schools with an urgent and pressing need for additional accommodation and who are being given approval for grant aid to avail of the option of using their grants either to purchase prefabs or to construct permanent classrooms for the same amount.

School Staffing.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

216 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will supply the information sought but not contained in his reply to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 1602 to 1612, inclusive, of 27 January 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8218/09]

I have consistently said that the 2009 Budget required difficult choices to be made across all areas of public expenditure. These decisions were made to control public expenditure and to ensure sustainability in the long run. In this respect Education while protected to a much greater extent than most other areas of public expenditure could not be totally spared. At the time of the budget I set out the likely impact of the various measures including the projected net impact on teacher numbers in primary and post-primary schools which was estimated at a loss of 200 posts in each sector.

My Department has written to the primary schools that are projected to have a net loss or gain in classroom teaching posts in September, 2009. As part of my efforts to ensure that relevant information is openly available to the public detailed information on the opening position for primary schools is now published on my Department's website. This provisional list sets out the details on individual schools that, taken collectively, are projected to gain 128 posts and to lose 382 posts — a net reduction of 254 posts. It is my intention to have this information updated and ultimately to set out the final position when the allocation processes are completed. Initial allocation letters have also issued to Post Primary Schools and Vocational Educational Committees. All the above allocations, primary and post-primary are provisional at this stage and reflect the initial allocation position.

The operation of redeployment arrangements also impacts on the final position as a teacher can remain in his or her existing school where a suitable redeployment position does not exist. The final staffing position for all schools will therefore not be known until the autumn. At that stage the allocation process will be fully completed for mainstream classroom teachers and any appeals to the Staffing Appeals Board will have been considered. The appellate process is particularly relevant at post-primary level where any specific curricular needs of the school concerned are considered. Also at post-primary there is no effective system wide redeployment scheme at present and this can mean that schools retain teachers, though over quota.

Schools Building Projects.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

217 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in regard to the provision of new school facilities at Kill, County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8219/09]

I wish to inform the Deputy that the closing date for receipt of tenders for the construction of a school at Kill, Co Kildare, is the 9th March, 2009. It is expected that, subject to the necessary technical and financial approvals, this project will proceed to construction in the second quarter of 2009.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

218 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in regard to the provision of new facilities at Ardclough, County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8220/09]

As the Deputy will be aware on 12 February, 2009 I announced details of 43 major building projects to proceed to tender and construction during 2009. I am pleased to inform the Deputy that a building project to provide the school to which he refers with a new 16 classroom school is included in this announcement.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

219 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in regard to the provision of new facilities at Straffan, County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8221/09]

I can confirm to the Deputy that my Department is in receipt of an application for large scale capital funding from the school to which he 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.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

220 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the position in regard to the provision of new facilities in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8222/09]

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the project is currently in construction and is due to reach completion later this year.

Special Educational Needs.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

221 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science if he is satisfied that adequate provision has been made to meet the requirements of children with special needs in mainstream and special education throughout 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8223/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

222 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science if he has received expressions of concern in relation to the adequacy of special needs provision and requirements throughout the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8224/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

227 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science if all schools will have the special needs assistant requirement met in full in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8229/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 221, 222 and 227 together.

I wish to advise the Deputy that there has been no change in the criteria which governs the appointment of additional resource/learning support teachers and special needs assistants. The Deputy will be aware of my commitment to ensuring that all pupils, including those with special educational needs, can have access to an education appropriate to their needs preferably in school settings through the primary and post-primary school network. There are now over 19,000 staff in our schools working solely with children with special needs. This includes over 10,000 Special Needs Assistants — compared with just 300 in 1997. There are also over 8,000 resource and learning support teachers — compared with about 2,000 in 1998. More than 1,100 other teachers support children in our special schools, while hundreds more work in special classes.

As well as this significant increase in the numbers of additional teachers and SNAs directly providing appropriate education and care supports for children with special educational needs, much investment has taken place in the provision of transport, specialist school accommodation, home tuition, assistive technology and equipment. Additional teaching supports are allocated as necessary by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) in line with my Department's policy to support children with special educational needs. As a result, there is no current shortfall in the number of teacher posts being allocated for children with special educational needs.

The Deputy will also be aware that additional funding has been allocated to my Department in 2009 to provide for an expansion of the National Educational Psychological service so that all schools in the country will be covered by the service. The additional funding available to NEPS, which represents a 33% increase over the 2008 allocation, will facilitate the recruitment of up to 50 further psychologists. It is envisaged that this will bring the number of NEPS psychologists by the end of 2009 above the proposed 200 incorporated in the Programme for Government. This investment will significantly enhance the capacity of our educational psychologists to directly support schools in the development and delivery of appropriate interventions for children with special educational needs.

Additional funding is also being provided to the National Council for Special Education in 2009 to increase the Council's capacity in the move towards the full implementation of EPSEN. The additional funding will enable the Council to continue to improve, plan and co-ordinate the delivery of services for children with special needs. I have also provided for further investment in teacher training in this area. This will ensure that teachers are provided with opportunities to access continuing professional development so that the learning and teaching needs of all pupils with Special Educational Needs continue to be met. I wish to assure the Deputy that the provision of appropriate educational intervention and supports for children with special educational needs continues to be a key Government priority.

Questions Nos. 223 and 224 answered with Question No. 215.

School Staffing.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

225 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the extent to which he or his Department has been in touch with the authorities in the various schools throughout the country in regard to the impact of budgetary cutbacks on such issues as the school curriculum and pupil-teacher ratios; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8227/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

226 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science if his attention has been drawn to the extent to which pupil-teacher ratios are expected to be affected by cutbacks announced in budget 2009; the guidelines issued to the individual schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8228/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

228 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science if he has received correspondence from primary and second level schools throughout the country outlining the negative impact of the 2009 budgetary cuts on pupil-teacher ratios and the school curriculum; if it is intended to meet the concerns of the various school authorities in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8230/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 225, 226 and 228 together.

I have consistently said that the 2009 Budget required difficult choices to be made across all areas of public expenditure. These decisions were made to control public expenditure and to ensure sustainability in the long run. In this respect Education while protected to a much greater extent than most other areas of public expenditure could not be totally spared. At the time of the budget I set out the likely impact of the various measures including the projected net impact on teacher numbers in primary and post-primary schools which was estimated at a loss of 200 posts in each sector.

The budget measures will impact on individual schools in different ways depending on whether enrolment is rising or declining and the degree to which any one school has more teachers than it is entitled to under the allocation processes. Across the school system generally there will of course be some impact on class sizes and at post-primary level the changes may impact on the capacity of individual schools to offer as wide a range of subject choices as heretofore. In terms of the position at individual school level the key factor for determining the level of resources provided by my Department is the pupil enrolment at 30 September 2008. The annual process of seeking this enrolment data from schools took place in the autumn and the data has since been received and processed in my Department enabling the commencement of the processes by which teaching resources are allocated to schools for the school year that begins next September.

My Department has written to the primary schools that are projected to have a net loss or gain in classroom teaching posts in September, 2009. As part of my efforts to ensure that relevant information is openly available to the public detailed information on the opening position for primary schools is now published on my Department's website. This provisional list sets out the details on individual schools that, taken collectively, are projected to gain 128 posts and to lose 382 posts — a net reduction of 254 posts. It is my intention to have this information updated and ultimately to set out the final position when the allocation processes are completed.

Initial allocation letters have also issued to Post Primary Schools and Vocational Educational Committees. All the above allocations, primary and post-primary are provisional at this stage and reflect the initial allocation position. The final position for any one school will depend on a number of other factors such as the allocation of support teachers, additional posts for schools that are developing rapidly and posts allocated as a result of the appeals processes. The operation of redeployment arrangements also impacts on the final position as a teacher can remain in his or her existing school where a suitable redeployment position does not exist.

The final staffing position for all schools will therefore not be known until the autumn. At that stage the allocation process will be fully completed for mainstream classroom teachers and any appeals to the Staffing Appeals Board will have been considered. The appellate process is particularly relevant at post-primary level where any specific curricular needs of the school concerned are considered. Also at post-primary level there is no effective system wide redeployment scheme at present and this can mean that schools retain teachers, though over quota.

Question No. 227 answered with Question No. 221.
Question No. 228 answered with Question No. 225.