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.

Agrifood Sector.

Seymour Crawford

Ceist:

11 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the discussions he has had with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment regarding the difficulties that the agrifood industry is facing in view of the export dependency on the UK. [43575/09]

The Government established a cabinet sub committee and interdepartmental group to promote economic recovery and measures have been taken, in particular a reduction in energy costs, to address factors currently impacting adversely on the competitiveness of the food industry. My Department has also been working closely with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and our respective Departmental Agencies, as the economic downturn, rising costs and currency exposures have translated into severe deterioration in trading conditions for food exports.

Arising from this work a number of public supports have been made available which will assist the sector: The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment has established an Enterprise Stabilisation Fund totalling €100 million, to be run by Enterprise Ireland, to allow for additional assistance to basically sound internationally traded companies that would otherwise struggle to survive the global downturn. A significant number of food companies have already availed of this fund. Exporting companies in the food sector are eligible for the Temporary Employment Subsidy Scheme, which was also established by the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment, and is managed by Enterprise Ireland. Grant aid has been awarded under the Dairy and Beef and Sheepmeat Investment Funds, which are operated by Enterprise Ireland on behalf of my Department, to improve efficiencies and added value from processing. In relation to dairying, 19 projects were awarded €114m for investment of €286m. Grant aid of €69m awarded in the beef and sheepmeat sectors is expected to contribute to investment of €168m and contribute to a net increase in sales and exports of €400m by 2012. A range of horizontal aids are being used to subsidise investment in training, R&D and environmental improvements. A Teagasc/Enterprise Ireland technology transfer initiative is being developed to provide small and medium sized enterprises with access to research findings and assistance on commercialisation.

Increasing market access and diversifying the global reach of the food industry is also part of my Department's response to the difficulties caused by the large volume of product exported to a single market. Bord Bia, under the aegis of my Department, is the state agency responsible for market development of food, seafood, drink and horticulture at home and abroad, and closely monitors food exports. It has published a Strategy to boost food exports for the period 2009-2011. The strategy's six key priorities include enhancing the industry's position on its home market and export expansion with a particular emphasis on Eurozone markets.

An Bord Bia has a comprehensive set of marketing and promotional programmes in place, which have been developed in consultation with key stakeholders in the food industry. The schedule of marketing activities for 2009 has had direct regard to the impact of the sterling differential on competitiveness. An Bord Bia has also developed Post-Graduate Fellowship and Improving Innovation Success programmes which aim to identify market opportunities, develop sales leads and assist consumer foods companies to bring new products to markets.

Furthermore, an interdepartmental market access group chaired by my Department and comprising representatives from the Departments of Foreign Affairs and Enterprise, Trade and Employment, An Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland and Bord Iascaigh Mhara has engaged in identifying potential market opportunities for the full range of Irish food and beverages, prioritisation of market initiatives and broader access issues.

Animal Diseases.

Olivia Mitchell

Ceist:

12 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the initiatives he will introduce to tackle the problem of bovine viral diarrhoea in cattle; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43618/09]

The Deputy will be aware that my Department has national disease control programmes in place to counter what are known as "regulated diseases" in the national herd, examples of which include TB & Brucellosis. We have made major progress in dealing with many of the regulated diseases — for example Ireland now has Brucellosis-Free status and the incidence of BSE continues to decline. Considerable progress has also been made in relation to eradication of bovine TB and Ireland is to the forefront of international efforts to achieve a practical solution to the problems presented by a wildlife population infected with TB.

Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) falls within the category known as "non-regulated diseases". While these diseases can be a significant issue at individual farm level resulting in reduced productivity, reduced profitability and impaired animal welfare, to date there has been no national approach to dealing with "non-regulated diseases".

In January this year, I launched the Animal Health Ireland (AHI) initiative. AHI is industry-led and driven and part-financed by industry with financial support from my Department. AHI aims to improve overall animal health standards thereby securing improved profitability for farmers and international competitiveness of Irish livestock products through a coordinated national approach to animal health. AHI will address the issue of "non-regulated" diseases and has already begun to address the problem of BVD on Irish farms.

My Department has no direct responsibility for the day to day activities of AHI. My commitment of funding to AHI is conditional on the results of its work being placed in the public domain so that the relevant interested parties, especially farmers and veterinary practitioners, can be kept informed and they can translate the results of its work into action to better control animal diseases, including BVD.

Beef Sector.

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

13 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his views on the proposed introduction of a quality payment system for the beef sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43604/09]

As the Deputy is aware, the price paid for beef is a matter for the industry and the farmers who supply cattle.

Beef carcases are classified or graded in accordance with EU Regulations using the EUROP scale for conformation and a scale of 1 to 5 to indicate fat cover. In most cases, the classification or grading result is used by the industry to determine the price paid to farmers.

Each main class for both conformation and fat can be further divided into sub-classes in order to further refine the grading assessment of beef carcases and recent studies at Teagasc Grange have shown that the use of sub-classes to determine the price paid per kg of carcase would be justified.

Mechanical grading was introduced over five years ago in Ireland and is now well established and accepted as an independent, objective and consistent system for classifying beef carcases.

The mechanical grading result includes sub-classes for both conformation and fat. However, the industry has not, to date, used the sub-class assessment as a basis of payment to farmers, with the exception of conformation grade P and fat grade 4. In Ireland the majority of steer and heifer carcases are graded R or O — 87% of steers and 91% of heifers in 2008 — for conformation and the industry is considering the use of sub-classes in order to reward farmers for producing the better quality and higher value carcases. The use of sub-classes when paying for cattle would send a clear message back to the farmer on the type of carcase required for the market and clearly would be a fairer system of payment.

Meat Industry Ireland (MII), and the farmers' representatives (IFA) are currently engaged in discussions concerning the introduction of a pricing grid for beef which would make use of sub-classes as a basis for payment. Such a pricing system would reward those farmers who produce a better quality carcase and overall would, I believe, be a welcome development for the beef industry.

Retail Sector.

Joe Carey

Ceist:

14 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the recent discussions he has had with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment regarding the introduction of a code of practice for the retail sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43565/09]

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment consulted closely with my Department in preparing the consultation paper for the public consultation process, which was launched in August last. That Department is currently analysing some 29 submissions received from a range of interests. It is intended that this analysis will inform how best to give effect to the commitment in the Renewed Programme for Government on the issue of such a Code.

The proposed introduction of a Code of Practice for grocery goods undertakings follows public debate on grocery prices and price differentials. The consultation in August was undertaken to address concerns raised about the nature of the relationships between grocery goods businesses and, in particular, the relationships between suppliers and retailers of grocery goods. The questions asked of stakeholders, including consumers, included whether any such Code of Practice should be voluntary or statutory in nature; how it might best be enforced; whether a separate Ombudsman's office should be established; whether there should be a threshold to limit its application, and what impact the application of such a code might have on consumer choice and prices.

Underlying the debate is the increasing concentration of retail power in the hands of a few large supermarket chains. This is an international phenomenon, which has fundamentally changed the balance of market negotiating power in the food chain. And it is one factor, although not the only one, contributing to the declining share of the retail price received by producers. While there is, of course, always potential for some tension in any market relationship, there has been a noticeable trend recently towards greater tension, and even allegations of sharp practice.

The European Commission has recently published a Communication (COM(2009)591) in which it outlines proposals to make the European supply chain more transparent while promoting sustainable and market based relationships. These proposals are being considered initially in the context of the dairy sector by the High Level Expert Group on Milk, which is chaired by Director-General for Agriculture and Rural Development, Jean-Luc Demarty, and comprises Member State representatives. The High Level Group is currently considering submissions from interested parties and will begin preparing preliminary conclusions on contractual relations, bargaining power and transparency in the new year.

Dairy Sector.

Niall Collins

Ceist:

15 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the position regarding the milk super levy; the impact that quota increases agreed in the Common Agricultural Policy Health Check have on milk prices; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43436/09]

Based on estimated milk deliveries as submitted by milk purchasers for the period up to 31 October 2009, Ireland is just over ten per cent under quota when account is taken of the butterfat content of milk deliveries during the same period.

The milk quota increases agreed under the CAP Health Check have had no impact on milk prices. Indeed, the experience of the last two years on the dairy market has provided stark illustration of the relevance of quotas and has comprehensively proven that the levels of supply and demand are the defining criteria.

The high prices that prevailed in late 2007 and early 2008 were primarily caused by increasing global demand for dairy products combined with a reduced level of supply from Oceania as a result of drought. Irish producers were able to benefit from this situation, and increased production gave rise to a super levy in respect of the 2007/2008 milk quota year.

Unfortunately the ensuing global increase in supply coincided with a collapse in demand caused by the financial crisis and the general economic downturn in 2008 and 2009, and the result was a significant reduction in prices. Production also fell in response. No super levy arose in Ireland in respect of the 2008/2009 milk quota year and current delivery trends suggest it is unlikely to arise in the current year. As I mentioned at the outset, butterfat adjusted deliveries in Ireland were just over ten per cent under quota at the end of October. When one considers that quotas have effectively been increased by only five per cent in the last two years, it is clear that they are having no effect on the movement of milk prices.

Departmental Policy.

Margaret Conlon

Ceist:

16 Deputy Margaret Conlon asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he expects to be in a position to publish position papers, prepared by his Department and the State agencies under his remit, as part of a public consultative process on relation to the medium term future of the Irish agrifood and fishing sector. [43446/09]

As I announced some time ago, I intend to produce a strategy for the development of the agri-food, fisheries and forestry sectors to 2020. This will follow on the very successful Agrifood 2010 and Agri Vision 2015 strategies.

To help guide the public consultation on the 2020 strategy, I have asked my Department and the State Agencies to prepare a series of discussion papers on key issues. These are currently being finalised and I anticipate that they will be posted on my Department's website before the end of the year.

Milk Quota.

Niall Blaney

Ceist:

17 Deputy Niall Blaney asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the measures that he has put in place to support young farmers, both in terms of on-farm investment and the allocation of milk quota to new entrants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43452/09]

I have made provision of €9.75 million in 2009 to meet existing commitments under the Young Farmers' Installation Scheme and the preceding equivalent schemes. In addition, I have recently announced my intention to introduce a new range of aid measures in relation to on-farm investments, some of which will be particularly targeted at young farmers. These measures will be introduced as soon as EU approval is received for the measures in question and following agreement on the specific cash-limits available for each measure.

The allocation of milk quota to new entrants to dairying has been a key component of milk policy for some time, and I am glad to say that the long-standing arrangements for making quota available to new entrants under the Milk Quota Trading Scheme have been significantly enhanced recently with the allocation of 200,000 litres of milk quota to 70 new entrants to dairying.

As the Deputy will be aware, the first of five annual one per cent increases in quota agreed under last November's Health Check of the CAP reform became available on 1 April of this year. In addition to using three-quarters of this increase to boost the quotas of active milk producers, I decided that, at a time when the dairy sector is facing many serious challenges, it was more important than ever to make every effort to encourage new thinking and new methods. All in the industry are agreed on the importance of attracting new blood, so I decided to introduce a new scheme, on a pilot basis, that would make a serious effort to identify people who have a future in dairying and can demonstrate not just their potential but also their commitment to the sector. While the amount of quota that was available was limited, I am satisfied that the 14 million litres that has been allocated under the scheme has gone to high quality applicants, and I look forward to learning of the positive impact they will have on the sector in the coming years. I have also stated my intention to consider, in the context of the availability of a further one per cent of additional quota in 2010, what further potential may be available to expand the eligibility for the scheme to new and recent entrants next year following a review of this scheme.

I should also take the opportunity to emphasise what I alluded to earlier, namely, that the allocation of milk quota to new entrants continues under the Milk Quota Trading Scheme, as it did previously under the Restructuring Scheme. Since the inception of the Trading Scheme in 2007 alone, more than 60 million litres of milk quota has made its way into the hands of young farmers, and they currently have an opportunity to further augment that figure under the latest phase of the Trading Scheme, which I intend to have completed shortly.

Animal Welfare.

Shane McEntee

Ceist:

18 Deputy Shane McEntee asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he will publish the proposed animal welfare Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43612/09]

Drafting of the Animal Health and Welfare Bill, which gives effect to commitments in the area of animal health and welfare contained in the Programme for Government and the renewed Programme for Government is ongoing in my Department. The legislation will amend and consolidate previous legislation in the area of animal health, particularly to reflect the changed disease status of our animals and will update existing legislation, to ensure that the welfare of all animals, including non-farm animals, is properly protected and penalties for offenders are increased significantly. The proposed legislation will also provide for the consolidation of responsibility for the welfare of all animals within my Department.

Following the public consultation process initiated on the draft Bill, almost 400 submissions/comments were received from organisations and individuals with an interest in animal health and welfare matters. Officials met with a large number of these organisations and individuals to provide an opportunity for elaboration on the respective submissions. Drafting of the bill is continuing taking account of the comments received during the consultation process together with the animal welfare commitments re-affirmed in the renewed Programme for Government.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme.

Jimmy Deenihan

Ceist:

19 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his plans regarding the disadvantaged areas scheme; if he has submitted a proposal to the EU as part of his Department’s submission regarding the rural development programme as per his statement on 8 July 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43585/09]

The Disadvantaged Areas Scheme forms part of Ireland's Rural Development Programme 2007 to 2013 (RDP) and it is intended that this scheme will run for the duration of the Programme.

A proposal to revise the RDP to include modulation funds and funds under the European Economic Recovery Package was submitted to the European Commission last July. The revised Programme includes proposed new investment measures and a new agri environment measure, together with proposals for financing the Programme. The exchequer funding element of this will be delivered in the annual estimates and budgetary process. Negotiations are ongoing with the Commission as regards these changes and this process is due to be finalised by mid December.

Animal Welfare.

Pat Breen

Ceist:

20 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the recent discussions he has had with his Northern Ireland counterpart with regard to the establishment of an all-Ireland animal health regime; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43558/09]

I chaired the NSMC Agriculture sectoral meeting held on 19th November. Also in attendance were Michelle Gildernew, MP, MLA, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Robin Newton, MLA, Junior Minister at the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.

We noted the on-going progress on the delivery of the draft All-Island Animal Health and Welfare Strategy and that work is in hand to finalise arrangements for a cross-border stakeholder consultation event in the early part of 2010. We also noted the revised Working Group arrangements and looked forward to receiving a further progress report at the next NSMC meeting in the Agriculture sector format.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme.

Eamon Gilmore

Ceist:

21 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will reverse the cut imposed on 34,000 farmers in disadvantaged areas in 2009 in view of the income position on farms. [43627/09]

Against the background of the deterioration in public finances, my approach in preparing the 2009 Estimates for my Department was to protect expenditure for major developmental measures in the agri-food sector. To achieve this objective, savings had to be found in other areas and I decided, reluctantly, to reduce expenditure under the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme for 2009 by reducing the maximum area limit to 34 hectares. While overall expenditure has fallen, almost 67,000 farmers have not suffered any reduction in their payments as a result of the introduction of the 34-hectare limit. The rates of payment, which were increased by 8% in 2007, remained unchanged for the 2009 Scheme.

Notwithstanding the reduction in funding, the total amount available under the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme in 2009 is €220 million. This represents a substantial injection of funds paid to farmers situated in the areas and the Scheme continues to be one of the best-funded Disadvantaged Areas Schemes in the European Union. Payments under the 2009 Scheme commenced on 22 September and, to date, payments worth in excess of €219 million have been made, with payments continuing to issue, as individual cases are resolved.

I also secured approval to use previously inaccessible unspent Single Payment System funds to address, among other things, specific disadvantages affecting certain sectors in economically vulnerable or environmentally sensitive areas, under the agreement reached in November 2008 on the Health Check of the CAP. Resulting from this agreement, in the region of €25 million will be available in additional funding for each of the next three years 2010, 2011 and 2012 for these targeted measures. Mindful of the particular difficulties in the sheep sector, I decided to allocate €18 of the available funds each year, for the next three years, on a Grassland Scheme to support incomes in the sheep sector. In addition to this agreement, I successfully negotiated for the use of the National Reserve element of these funds from 2009. In this regard, I have already announced that approximately €7 million will be paid to hill sheep farmers as a once off payment, in the form of the 2009 Uplands Sheep Payment, benefiting approximately 13,000 hill sheep farmers. I have recently confirmed that €5 million of this sum will be issued to qualifying farmers in the coming weeks, with the balances being paid early in the New Year.

Notwithstanding the difficulties in the public finances, the position is that in excess of €3.2 billion will be spent by my Department in support of agriculture, fisheries and food. It is important to get through this challenging period and continue towards achieving the full potential of our most important indigenous industry when the economy begins to grow again.

Genetically Modified Organisms.

George Lee

Ceist:

22 Deputy George Lee asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his views on the EU Commissioner for Agricultural and Rural Development’s statement that delays in approving new genetically modified crop varieties by European Union member states would cost farmers millions of euro in higher feed charges in winter 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43609/09]

I note Commissioner Fischer Boel's statement on the implementation by Member States of the process set out in EU legislation for the authorisation of GM ingredients, to be used in food and feed within the EU. The cultivation of genetically modified crops and their use in food and animal feed has been a source of serious debate throughout the EU for the past decade with significant divergence in opinions being expressed and this divergence is most notably reflected at the Council of Ministers.

Most of the recent problems being experienced by the animal feed industry have revolved around asynchronous authorisation of GM varieties between the feed exporting countries and the EU, and the detection of traces of two GM maize varieties, not yet authorised in the EU, in soya and maize feed imported shipments, resulting in their rejection. This has led to uncertainty in the trade of these products, which in turn were replaced by more expensive alternatives. I am pleased to note that the Commission has recently authorised one of these varieties and hopefully will authorise the other before year end.

I also wish to point out that I have informed Commissioner Vassiliou of DG Sanco that my officials will work closely with her officials to bring forward a proposal for the setting of a tolerance for the low level presence of, as yet, unauthorised GM events.

Dairy Sector.

Johnny Brady

Ceist:

23 Deputy Johnny Brady asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is satisfied with the outcome of the EU Agriculture Council in relation to the dairy sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43443/09]

Johnny Brady

Ceist:

51 Deputy Johnny Brady asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if the recent package of measures, agreed at the EU Agriculture Council, will be sufficient to bring stability to the dairy sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43444/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 23 and 51 together.

The dairy market situation has been discussed at Council of Ministers meetings every month since March this year. At those meetings I have, together with my Ministerial colleagues, continually pressed the Commission to take all appropriate measures to deal with the situation, and those actions have helped to stabilise the market. The measures taken this year include the restoration of export refunds for dairy products and they were subsequently increased during the year. Prices on dairy markets have risen in recent weeks and there are signs of recovery and for that reason the Commission decided to reduce export refunds in the past month. I disagree with that approach, as the market remains volatile and reducing refunds prematurely could delay a lasting recovery.

Other measures taken include the continuation of Intervention for butter and skimmed milk powder beyond the mandatory fixed limits. In July Council agreed to implement a special measure to extend Intervention beyond August, to February 2010, and to 2011 if necessary. That provision was formally adopted at the October Council. I also welcomed the commitment given by Commissioner Fischer Boel in October to manage the release of stocks from Intervention in a prudent manner. We are seeing some tentative signs of an improvement in dairy markets, though a solid recovery is still uncertain and it is crucial that the disposal of stocks from intervention is handled in a sensitive manner and in a way that does not undermine the market at this critical time. At the Council meeting in September the Commissioner presented the dairy market report, which set out some options for the sector. At that meeting, I joined with Ministers from most other Member States in seeking major improvements in support for hard pressed dairy farmers. We signed a statement calling for a comprehensive EU approach that would combine immediate short-term measures along with a medium term strategy to deal with volatility in the milk sector. Following on from that, I attended a special Council meeting to look at medium to long term measures for the dairy sector. At that meeting it was agreed to set up a High Level Group of Member States, chaired by the Commission's Agriculture Director General, to examine the type of arrangements to be put in place.

The Commission High level Group will examine medium term and long term ways of stabilising dairy farmer's incomes and improving market transparency. The Group is tasked with delivering a comprehensive report by June 2010. It will examine means through which contractual arrangements in the supply chain can contribute to the highest possible returns for producers. This would give them more bargaining power in the process and provide a buffer against extremes of market volatility such as those that are being experienced at present. The Group will also examine existing market instruments and consider what other means, including a dairy futures market, could contribute to the objective of price stability in the longer term.

At the November Council last week approval was given for some short term measures to be implemented to assist the dairy sector. The main change is the extension of the Commission's emergency powers to cover the dairy sector. Under this provision the Commission will make available an additional €300 million for the dairy sector in the 2010 budget. The other change provides Member States with a new option for implementing a quota buying-up scheme for the quota years 2009/10 and 2010/11. For my part I will continue to maintain close contact with the EU Commission and the Council to ensure that support measures are activated at levels that will make a real impact in the market.

Veterinary Inspection Service.

Brian O'Shea

Ceist:

24 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the payment rates for veterinary surgeons carrying out TB and brucellosis testing on behalf of his Department. [43637/09]

The current rates payable by the Department to private veterinary practitioners who carry out TB testing and Brucellosis sampling are set out in the table.

Animals tested or sampled

Rate per animal tested payable for tuberculosis skin test

Additional rate per Animal, for Combined tuberculosis skin test and Brucellosis sampling

Rate, per animal, Payable for brucellosis sampling only

1st animal

47.307

0

26.272

2nd to the 7th animal

3.866

0

3.672

8th to the 9th animal

3.866

2.334

3.672

10th to the 29th animal

3.350

2.334

2.124

30th and each additional animal

2.813

2.334

1.863

Minimum fee

47.307

0

26.272

No stock visit fee

23.653

0

0

Blood handling fee

0

0

10.497

In addition to the above payment schedule, an annual top-up payment, in lieu of an increase in fees, is also made to testing veterinary practitioners who operate electronically with my Department through the Animal Health Computer System (AHCS). The fees paid to private veterinary practitioners have been reduced by 8% in context of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009.

Rural Environment Protection Scheme.

Joan Burton

Ceist:

25 Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the number of farmers who were in REPS 3 that have moved to REPS 4 by 15 May 2009. [43624/09]

Of 12,145 farmers who applied successfully for REPS 4 up to the closing date of 15 May 2008, 908 were previously in REPS 3. Comparable figures for transfer in respect of application received by the closing date of 15 May 2009 are not yet available as all such application are still being processed.

Draught Horse Studbook.

Frank Feighan

Ceist:

26 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his views on the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Food that his Department should indicate a willingness to reallocate the draught horse studbook to a single entity committed to breed preservation of the Irish draught horse; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43595/09]

I understand that the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, has not, as yet, made any formal recommendations regarding this matter. Consequently, I am not in a position to comment any further at this time.

Fisheries Protection.

Christy O'Sullivan

Ceist:

27 Deputy Christy O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is satisfied his concerns were taken into account during the discussions on fisheries control at the Luxembourg Fisheries Council meeting in October 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43442/09]

Christy O'Sullivan

Ceist:

60 Deputy Christy O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his views on the fisheries control and inspection framework agreed at the EU Fisheries Council meeting in October 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43441/09]

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

69 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the position on the draft new regulations introduced by the European Commission to update and reform the EU fisheries control framework; his views on this proposal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43434/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 27, 60 and 69 together.

My colleague, Tony Killeen TD, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food agreed a comprehensive fisheries control and inspection framework at the Fisheries Council in Luxembourg in October of this year. Minister Killeen's priority at Council was to secure measures that would give our fishermen confidence that there is real intent and the necessary tools in place that will address illegal fishing in the waters around our coast. Minister Killeen and I are confident that these measures will help to deliver the level playing field on control that is necessary to rebuild fish stocks and protect the livelihood of our coastal communities which are fully dependent for their future on healthy fish stocks fished sustainable by all operators in our waters.

The urgent need for a new control regime in European fisheries was clearly set down in a Court of Auditors report on data collection and control and enforcement under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). The Court concluded that weaknesses in fisheries controls jeopardised the proper functioning of a fisheries management policy based on catch limitations. The objective of the new control regime is to address in a comprehensive way the shortcomings identified and modernise the delivery.

Discussions on the new measures overhauling the existing regime for fisheries control continued late into the night and a package of measures was finally agreed following intensive negotiations by Minister of State Killeen to ensure that Ireland's priorities and concerns were fully taken on board. These new measures are not in any way a threat to Irish fishermen who have already moved substantially to a culture of compliance. As fisheries are a common resource it is vital that all operators from all EU fleets respect the rules. We must rebuild our fish stocks by implementing conservation measures and tackling illegal fishing by fleets in our waters which is the major cause of the decline in our fish stocks and quotas. With this package, we have now a better opportunity to stop the cycle of decline and secure a sustainable profitable future for our industry .

The new Regulation introduces a new and common approach to control, from net to plate. It will cover every stage in the process that sees fish caught, landed, brought to market and sold. Harmonised standards for inspection activities and procedures will help deliver uniform implementation. This new approach will make use of modern technologies and risk analysis. It will introduce systematic and automated cross checking of data collected at the catch, landing and sale stages, to make it easier to spot attempts to break the rules. These measures will be backed up by a comprehensive traceability system, so that all fish and fisheries products, whether imported or produced in the EU, can be tracked throughout the market chain.

In addition, the EU has, for the first time, moved closer to harmonised sanctions with the introduction of a ‘penalty points system' to address persistent offenders against the rules. Those offenders will have their fishing licence suspended and eventually permanently withdrawn. I am satisfied that the package of measures agreed at the October Fisheries Council by Minister Killeen will promote a level playing field across the EU and will foster a culture of compliance.

Grant Payments.

David Stanton

Ceist:

28 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the supports available to persons who want to expand or develop agricultural enterprises that are not considered to be mainstream; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43546/09]

Grant-aid for the completion of on-farm investments in relation to alternative enterprises was available from my Department under both the Alternative Enterprises Scheme and the Farm Improvement Scheme. Under the latter scheme, grant-aid was available for such enterprises as part of a package of general investment aid for the completion of on-farm investments. Both schemes are, however, now closed for new applications. To date in 2009, my Department has paid out €25.3 million to farmers who have completed investment works under the Schemes concerned. I have, however, no plans to reintroduce grant-aid for on-farm investments in relation to alternative enterprises at present.

Michael D. Higgins

Ceist:

29 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the date of payment for the 2010 instalment of the farm waste management scheme. [43630/09]

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. In the case of the second instalment of 40 per cent, I have recently announced that, subject to Dail approval, I intend to commence payment in December 2009 with the remainder of farmers being paid in early 2010. The final instalment of 20 per cent will be paid in January 2011. I have also announced that a special ex-gratia payment not exceeding 3.5 per cent of the value of the deferred amount will be made to farmers whose Farm Waste Management grants have been partially deferred. This payment will be made in January 2011 along with the final instalment.

Food Industry.

Mary White

Ceist:

30 Deputy Mary Alexandra White asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the level of uptake there has been in view of the recent introduction of the voluntary code of practice scheme for farmers’ markets; the potential contribution farmers’ markets will make to improving the potential level of income for primary producers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43459/09]

Twenty six markets have to date been certified as meeting the Good Practice Standard for Farmers' Markets and each has been issued with a personalized banner which they can use to advertise this achievement. A list of the successful markets is also posted on the Bord Bia website. The Good Practice Standard encourages farmers' markets to provide market access to locally produced in-season produce. Producers can deal directly with consumers and people have an opportunity to taste products with a particular local identity as markets displaying the banner will aim to source 50% of their produce in their county or neighbouring counties. Farmers' Markets are in short, a good alternative route to market particularly for small producers. A new round of applications is underway at present and I expect that many more markets will have reached a standard that will enable them to apply in this second round.

Markets which have been awarded the Good Practice Standard are:

Mahon Point Farmers' Market

Midleton Farmers' Market,

Kinsale Farmers Market

Schull Country Market

Balbriggan Fish & Farmers' Market

Ballincollig Farmers' Market

Manorhamilton Farmers' Market (Bee Park Resource Centre)

Sligo Farmers' Market

Moycullen Country Market

Milltown Farmers' Market (Co. Kerry)

Nenagh Farmers' Market

Coppinger Row Market

Carrick-on-Shannon Farmers' Market

Ennis Farmers' Market

Listowel Farmers' Market

Dungarvan Farmers' Market

Kanturk Farmers' Market

Boyle Origin Farmers' Market

Dalkey Coco Market

Marlay Park Coco Market (Co. Dublin)

The Peoples Park Coco Market (Co. Dublin)

Ballyvaughan Farmers' Market

Abbeyfeale Market

Limerick Milk Market

Riverside Market (Limerick)

Naas Farmers market

Animal Welfare.

Liz McManus

Ceist:

31 Deputy Liz McManus asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the position regarding the EU Commission proposals for changes to animal transport legislation. [43636/09]

The transport of animals is governed by Council Regulation (EC) 1 of 2005 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations. The Commission is undertaking a review of this legislation, and a draft proposal was circulated within the Commission services. The proposal received a number of negative opinions during the course of inter-service consultation, relating to scientific data and data protection. As a result of this the original draft proposal was withdrawn.

Commissioner Vassiliou is aware of my concerns regarding any proposals that would have an adverse affect on our live export trade.

I wish to assure the Deputy that I will continue to participate fully in the discussions on any proposals that may emerge to ensure that account is taken of Ireland's interests.

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

32 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a multi-agency group to address the issue of abandoned horses will be established; the timeframe within which the group will be established; the way the membership of this multi-agency group will be chosen; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43641/09]

I met recently with representatives of the horse industry and welfare bodies during which I was briefed on the possible risk of horse welfare problems developing over the coming months including a risk of abandonment of horses. Arising from discussions, officials of my Department have met with representatives from the horse industry and through the auspices of the Farm Animal Welfare Advisory Council, have engaged with representatives from farming and animal welfare bodies to discuss the issue of horse welfare. In addition I have asked Veterinary Inspectors from my Department's District Veterinary Offices to carry out an assessment to identify any potential problems with horses on farms. Further meetings are being arranged with relevant stakeholders including welfare bodies involved with horses to ensure that the matter is kept under close review.

I am satisfied however that existing communication structures are more than adequate to respond to current issues relating to horse welfare. I have also written to my colleague Mr. John Gormley TD, Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government in the context of the Control of Horses Act 1996. The ongoing effective implementation of this Act by Local Authorities can assist with reducing potential horse welfare problems developing particularly with regard to those horses that are being abandoned.

Common Agricultural Policy.

Ciaran Lynch

Ceist:

33 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his policy regarding the release of butter and SMP intervention stocks by the EU Commission. [43632/09]

The EU Common Agriculture Policy provides a range of measures that can be used to assist the dairy market, and these were modified in the CAP reforms of 1999 and 2003. In the Health Check negotiations last year there was pressure to remove or weaken the support measures significantly. At that time I fought hard to keep the key market instruments in place and these were used effectively to help support the market this year.

One of the key market measures is Intervention for butter and skimmed milk powder. Earlier this year, in response to the deteriorating markets, Intervention was continued beyond the mandatory fixed limits. In July Council agreed to implement a special measure to extend Intervention beyond August, to February 2010, and to 2011 if necessary. Both of those decisions helped to stabilise the market.

The issue of releasing stocks from Intervention is also very important and must be handled carefully. I welcomed the commitment given by Commissioner Fischer Boel in October to manage the release of stocks from Intervention in a prudent manner. We are seeing some tentative signs of an improvement in dairy markets, though a solid recovery is still uncertain, and it is crucial that the disposal of stocks from intervention is managed in a sensitive manner and in a way that does not undermine the market at this critical time.

Suckler Welfare Scheme.

Bernard Allen

Ceist:

34 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his views on the reported decline in the suckler cow herd; his plans for the future of the suckler cow welfare scheme in this context; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43551/09]

The suckler welfare scheme has been very successful in helping to underpin the beef sector in Ireland since its inception in January 2008. Over 50,000 farmers are now in the scheme. Animal events information and breeding data is now being collected on over 85% of the national beef herd. This is a significant achievement by any standard. Apart altogether from the benefits of the scheme in terms of animal welfare improvements, the huge volume of breeding data now being collected will have a major impact on the rate of genetic gain in the suckler herd in the years to come.

The suckler welfare scheme is 100% funded by the Exchequer. The continuation of the scheme and the level of funding to be provided is a budgetary matter and will be considered in the context of the forthcoming 2010 Budget and my Department's Estimates provision.

Grant Payments.

Kathleen Lynch

Ceist:

35 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the number of farmers paid under the farm waste management scheme; the number yet to be paid; the number of penalties imposed; and the level of penalty imposed. [43633/09]

To date in 2009, 17,305 payments totalling €243 million have been made to farmers under the Farm Waste Management Scheme. Approx. 90 payment claims remain to be finalized under the Scheme, mainly due to outstanding tax clearance documents or technical issues regarding the completed investments. 81 penalties totalling €46,683 have been applied, to date this year, in accordance with the terms and conditions of the Scheme.

Animal Feedstuffs.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

36 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if an investigation has been made into the quantity of fodder available to farmers for winter 2009; if he will address the difficulty facing farmers in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43559/09]

Up to the start of the fine spell in September and October fodder supplies on farms were reduced because of the impact of high levels of rainfall during the late Spring and throughout the Summer period on grass growth and harvesting conditions.

A survey conducted by Teagasc showed that at least one-third of the farmers who responded said they had inadequate fodder to meet their requirements.

Much of this deficit, however, was made good during the prolonged fine spell in September and October with the result that while supplies are still tight on some farms a serious shortage should not arise. Some farmers are also taking advantage of the good value that exists in the case of concentrate feedstuffs to stretch fodder supplies.

The European Commission's agreement to my request for payment in October of an advance of 70% of the monies due under the Single Payment Scheme, will have been helpful also in alleviating the situation.

Notwithstanding this general situation, it is acknowledged that the recent serious flooding may have caused damage to fodder supplies and may give rise to a resulting feed shortage problem on some livestock farms. In response, I am introducing a fodder aid scheme to provide some financial support towards the purchase of alternative feed material to replace the fodder damaged by the floods. The amount being provided for the scheme is €2 million.

Veterinary Inspection Service.

Kathleen Lynch

Ceist:

37 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the steps he has taken to reduce the cost of the meat inspection service. [43634/09]

Slaughterhouses and meat processing plants operating under the approval of my Department are supervised by veterinary inspectors employed by the Department, assisted in their duties by temporary veterinary inspectors (TVIs) drawn from private practice on a rota basis and by Department agricultural officers.

Veterinary Inspectors are permanently located in all the larger meat and poultry slaughtering and processing plants and are responsible for the provision of the ante and post-mortem inspection service, inspections of structural and operational hygiene standards and controls on residues.

The cost of the meat inspection service in 2008 was €39.9m, including salaries, overtime, allowances, and travel and subsistence for veterinary inspectors and agricultural officers; and fees for TVIs.

My Department recently published a Value for Money (VFM) review relating to the use of the services of TVIs in slaughter plants which are under the supervision of the Department. Its recommendations will be considered carefully, as is the case for all such VFM reviews, and decisions will be taken as appropriate to ensure the most efficient and effective service delivery.

Recommendations arising from other reviews relating to the optimum deployment of the national veterinary public health inspectorate are also under active consideration, with a view to ensuring that the service provided is as efficient and effective as possible.

Rural Environment Protection Scheme.

Joe Costello

Ceist:

38 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the amount of REP scheme payments that will be made in 2009. [43626/09]

My Department's Vote for 2009 includes a provision for REPS of €330 million. In addition, I am seeking the approval of the House to a Supplementary Estimate for my Department which will provide a further €39.129m which will bring planned expenditure for the year to €369.129m.

Pigmeat Sector.

Damien English

Ceist:

39 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the progress made to date under the pork recall scheme; the estimated cost of this scheme for 2009; the expected outlay for 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43591/09]

To date, a total of €69m has been paid to qualifying applicants under the Pigmeat Recall Scheme, €35m in 2008 and €34m to date in 2009. Of this, €30m has been paid to primary processors and €39m to secondary processors. A further €5m was paid during 2009 for the rendering of affected product.

A number of claims have yet to be lodged and therefore it is not possible to estimate precisely the further expenditure under the Scheme for the remainder of 2009 or 2010. However, it will not exceed the total facility of €180m made available by the Government for this purpose.

Rural Environment Protection Scheme.

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

40 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he will award REP scheme four payments due in 2009. [43622/09]

REPS 4 is a measure under the current Rural Development Programme 2007–2013 and is subject to EU Regulations which require detailed administrative checks on all applications, including plan checks, to be completed before the first 2009 payments issue. Processing of applications is at an advanced stage. I hope to be in a position to release the 75% payment due on valid applications in mid December, and the remaining 25% once the last of the on-the-spot inspections for 2009 has taken place.

Budget Submissions.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

41 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has received a copy of pre-budgetary submissions from the various farming organisations outlining the state of the agriculture and food sector with particular reference to the need for a co-ordinated approach at national and EU level; the extent to which he will address issues in this context; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43548/09]

My Department has received pre-budget submissions from a number of farm organisations.

These submissions will be considered by my department in the normal way in the context of the preparation of the budgetary framework for 2010, and with due regard to the Government's continuing commitment to developing a sustainable agri food sector, while recognising that the interests of operators in all sectors of the Irish economy, including those in the agri food sector, are best served by the speedy restoration of balance to the public finances.

Grant Payments.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

42 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if all farm support payments due have been paid to date; if administrative procedures are not being used as a means of slowing down or withholding payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43547/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

306 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if all payments due to farmers under the various aid or headage payment schemes are up to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43864/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 42 and 306 together.

Payments are made as claims are processed and there is no question of my Department slowing down or withdrawing payments due to farmers. In fact the contrary is the case. My Department operates one of the most efficient payment systems in the EU and in recognition of the income difficulties experienced by farmers, I have secured the agreement of the Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan, to request the Dail to approve a Supplementary Estimate for my Department. This will allow me to bring forward some €85 million in payments under the Farm Waste Management Scheme and the Rural Environment Protection Scheme (REPS), which would otherwise have fallen to be paid in the New Year.

Since the commencement of 2009 and up to and including Wednesday, 25 November 2009, payments totalling €1.800 billion have issued direct to farmers under the following schemes:

€ million

Single Farm Payment

885.111

Farm Waste Management Scheme

243.274

REPS

240.633

Disadvantaged areas

218.711

Afforestation grants & premia

112.470

Early Retirement

36.667

Suckler Cow

31.916

Farm Improvement Scheme

24.967

Installation Aid

7.288

The Deputy will be aware that the governing regulations on the Single Payment Scheme provide for payments to be made in one tranche, not before 1 December of the year of application. However, earlier this year, mindful of conditions faced by the farming community across the Union, the Commissioner agreed to allow a 70% advance payment be made, effective from 16 October. This payment began issuing on 16 October and the numbers paid to date represent 98% of the Scheme applicants, a significant increase over the 2008 position. The 30% balancing payments are scheduled to begin issuing on 1 December.

In relation to the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, payments began issuing on 22 September and, to date, in excess of 97% of applicants have been paid. The majority of the farmers who are not clear for payment have yet to meet the minimum stocking density requirement.

REPS 3 payment applications are received throughout the year and are processed in accordance with the target set out in the Charter of Rights for Farmers.

REPS 4 is a measure under the current Rural Development Programme 2007–2013 and is subject to EU Regulations which require detailed administrative checks on all applications, including plan checks, to be completed before the first 2009 payments issue. Processing of applications is at an advanced stage. I hope to be in a position to release the 75% payment due on valid applications in mid December, and the remaining 25% once the last of the on-the-spot inspections for 2009 has taken place.

Organic Farming.

Paul Nicholas Gogarty

Ceist:

43 Deputy Paul Gogarty asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if farmers wishing to apply for the 2010 organic farming scheme will be required to have completed an approved training course; the action taken to provide approved courses; the potential demand for such courses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43455/09]

Following a review of the Organic Farming Scheme, under which support is paid to farmers in the sector, the Scheme conditions have been amended to require the completion of an approved training course as an essential prerequisite to joining the scheme. This requirement will apply when the scheme re-opens in January 2010 and will apply only to those applicants who have not previously participated in the Organic Farming supplementary measure of the Rural Environment Protection Scheme.

Teagasc organic specialist advisors are currently engaged in the provision of the required training courses. A total of twelve courses are being held at various venues around the country up until the end of the year and up to 150 prospective applicants for the Organic Farming Scheme will take part. Teagasc will offer a further ten courses in 2010 which, it is estimated will attract a further 300 participants wishing to apply for the Organic Farming Scheme by the deadline of 15 May 2010. I understand that an independent agricultural advisor will also provide an approved training course in Mallow in early January 2010.

Common Agricultural Policy.

Noel Treacy

Ceist:

44 Deputy Noel Treacy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his views in relation to the need for an adequately funded Common Agricultural Policy post 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43448/09]

Noel Treacy

Ceist:

50 Deputy Noel Treacy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the issues which have emerged in initial discussions between EU member states in relation to the future of the Common Agricultural Policy post 2013. [43449/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 44 and 50 together.

My overarching view is that we need a strong and adequately resourced CAP after 2013. This is a point I have pressed strongly in discussions to date and for which there is good support in the Agriculture Council.

I am very conscious of the importance of the EU ensuring security of food supply and recognising the need to maintain family farming in Europe. However, particularly as an exporting country, I am also conscious of the need for competitiveness and innovation. I would wish to see all of these objectives clearly reflected in the new CAP.

Policy analysis and debates have commenced in a number of Member States and at EU level on the broad outline and general principles of future EU agriculture policy and a number of common themes and key issues are emerging from these debates. The emerging issues and my views on them are as follows.

There are demands from some Member States for a lower budget share for agriculture and for eventual dismantling of CAP. I would reject such arguments.

There is a parallel debate as to the function of the CAP in the future, i.e. whether it should act as a guarantor of income supports and EU family farming thereby contributing to food security objectives or whether it should serve primarily as a supplier of environmental and other public goods. It is clear from this debate that there will be increased emphasis on the delivery of public goods, as well as an increased focus on measurable outcomes. Within this, there will be continued emphasis on "new challenges" identified in the Health Check. There are positives for Ireland in this, and we need to engage with and shape this agenda to our own requirements.

There are issues around the current differentiation of direct payment rates between and within Member States. The credibility of the current historic payment model — based on average payments received between 2000 and 2002 — is being questioned. The debate centres around whether to equalise payment rates between Member States or whether to differentiate according to historical uptake, land use, land quality, production costs and so on. I continue to see some advantages to the historic model, but will have to look at alternatives, particularly if other countries move from the "historic camp". Some useful research has already been done on other payment systems but this work will need to be extended and intensified with greater stakeholder involvement.

Allied to this is the pressure for redistribution of funds by the new Member States, who claim that their share of direct payment funds is insufficient. We will need to be realistic about this. We will need to build alliances with the new Member States, many of whom are strong defenders of the CAP. We will be open-minded on this and look at all options, while also requiring our partners in Europe to be equally realistic in their expectations.

On rural development, one issue is whether this policy should be integrated into cohesion policy or remain as a pillar of the CAP. My own view is that the current association of rural development and agriculture policies has worked well and should continue.

A leaked draft of a Commission communication on the future budget has suggested the possibility of national co-financing of the CAP. Although this draft has been discredited by Commissioner Fischer Boel, the concept cannot be ruled out. I would be very concerned with any attempts to increase national co-financing of the CAP. In current circumstances, this would obviously be unaffordable for Ireland, and also for many other Member States. More fundamentally, it would arguably represent re-nationalisation of the only real common policy of the EU.

It is early days in the negotiations. In the upcoming discussions, we will robustly defend the principles of the CAP and seek to secure sufficient resources to preserve the principles of solidarity, support for primary production, food security, quality and food safety.

Rural Environment Protection Scheme.

Joe Costello

Ceist:

45 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when the new REP scheme will be introduced. [43625/09]

Discussions are taking place as a matter of priority between officials of my Department and European Commission officials on amendments to Ireland's Rural Development Programme 2007–13, which include proposals for a new agri-environment scheme. The new scheme will be introduced at the earliest possible date following Commission approval of the amended Programme.

Beef Exports.

Ciaran Lynch

Ceist:

46 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the steps he is taking to ensure that live cattle exported to England will be slaughtered in all processing plants in England. [43631/09]

The live export trade is an important component of our meat and livestock industry and provides a complement to the beef trade. To date this year, this trade has been exceptionally strong with exports to the United Kingdom alone up by more than 250% on the same period in 2008:

Destination

1 January-15 November 2009

1 January-15 November 2008

Northern Ireland

72,249

30,146

Great Britain

9,311

1,808

United Kingdom

81,560

31,954

While the purchasing policy of UK meat plants is a commercial decision for those plants my Department and Bord Bia continue to work closely with the industry in monitoring and developing emerging opportunities for Irish livestock in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. This includes contact with processors and retailers in Britain to establish their interest in live Irish exports and cattle born in Ireland and finished in Britain.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

Tom Hayes

Ceist:

47 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he or An Bord Bia have strategies in place to market Irish agricultural produce as a low carbon product to export markets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43603/09]

Bord Bia is the state agency with statutory responsibility for the promotion and market development of food including seafood, drink and horticulture.

The marketing of Ireland as a Sustainable Food Island is a new strategic priority for Bord Bia. Critical to that strategy is the building of an evidence-based approach for marketing the environmental performance of farming and food production so that claims stand up to scrutiny in the marketplace. In this connection, Bord Bia is working closely with Teagasc on the development of a full Life Cycle Analysis for Irish beef. Ireland has a reputation as a natural food source for Europe and it is important to ensure that Ireland is in a position to maximise its natural advantages.

Common Fisheries Policy.

Seán Connick

Ceist:

48 Deputy Seán Connick asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he expects to be in a position to submit, to the EU Commission, his position in relation to the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43438/09]

The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is the fisheries policy of the European Union which was first put in place in 1983 and has been subject to reviews every 10 years, the most recent was in 2002 and the next is formally scheduled for 2012.

On 21 April 2009 The European Commission published a Green Paper on the latest reform of the CFP in order to launch a consultation with Member States and stakeholders and to initiate a broad public debate on the future CFP reform. A summary of this consultation process will be published in 2010. It will be followed by a legislative proposal to the Council and the European Parliament to be adopted in 2011, with a view to its entering into force in 2012. It is clear that every aspect of the CFP is up for review and will require detailed attention.

An exchange of views on the Green Paper took place at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on the 25 May 2009. Indeed a further informal discussion was engaged in at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council last week so this is an ongoing process. I welcome the Commissions Green Paper on the reform of the CFP and acknowledge the importance of the process we are embarking on, as it will culminate in the shaping of the strategic blueprint for the European fishing industry for the next decade.

In the current economic climate, we need a policy that both simplifies and reduces the administrative burden while at the same time strengthens and supports the industry's capacity to maximise employment in coastal communities dependant on fishing. This will be a key objective for Ireland. In addition we will be pursuing initiatives that will deliver and sustain jobs in coastal communities rather than those that promote the concentration of wealth and delivery of excessive profits for a few big international businesses. I support a system which maintains strong economic links between national quotas and the traditional fishing communities which these quotas were allocated to assist. This will be a key area for Ireland in the forthcoming discussions on the CFP. It is critical that we in Ireland have a broad and in depth review of the policy taking account of the views of all interested stakeholders. The CFP review has been on the agenda at a number of formal and informal meetings with industry. It has always been my clear intention that the review process in Ireland would be an all inclusive one, facilitating the exchange of views from all interested parties.

Back in May, Minister Killeen appointed Dr. Noel Cawley to oversee consultations with Irish stakeholders on the reform of the CFP. Advertisements were placed in national and relevant fishing newspapers seeking submissions from interested parties for review by Dr. Cawley. Minister Killeen, Dr. Cawley and my Department have been involved in a series of consultations with various fishing organisations around the country over the last few months, in an effort to formulate Ireland's national position.

The Federation of Irish Fishermen (FIF) held a conference in Dublin on the CFP Review in Dublin on Friday the 9th of October. This seminar brought together a large gathering of fishermen from all around the country to listen to contributions from a broad range of experts on the field of fisheries. The FIF have pursued its own process to develop its position on the matter, and the result of their deliberations will also feed into Dr. Cawley's work programme and the formulation of Ireland's position.

All of the submissions received by Dr. Noel Cawley will now have to be evaluated in order to compile a detailed and informed submission to the EU Commission by the end of the year or by the latest very early in the New Year. Under the planned EU timetable for the review, a summary of the consultation process will be published in 2010. It will be followed by a legislative proposal to the Council and the European Parliament to be adopted in 2011, with a view to its entering into force in 2012.

Common Agricultural Policy.

Niall Blaney

Ceist:

49 Deputy Niall Blaney asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his views on where there is further scope for the allocation of additional quota to young farmers as a result of the outcome of the Common Agricultural Policy health check; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43453/09]

The Deputy will be aware that at the end of September I announced the allocation of milk quota to 70 new entrants to dairying. The opportunity to introduce this scheme arose from the availability of the first of five annual increases of one per cent in milk quotas agreed under the CAP Health Check. I was delighted to be able to avail of this opportunity and I was equally delighted with the success of the scheme. When I announced the results I stated my intention to consider what further scope might be available to allocate quota to young farmers when the next one per cent falls due for allocation in 2010. This process will be informed by a full review of the operation of this year's scheme, which will be conducted shortly.

Question No. 50 answered with Question No. 44.
Question No. 51 answered with Question No. 23.

Rural Environment Protection Scheme.

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

52 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the date for the payment of the first 75% instalment of REP scheme 4 for 2009 and the remaining25%. [43640/09]

REPS 4 is a measure under the current Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 and is subject to EU Regulations which require detailed administrative checks on all applications, including plan checks, to be completed before the first 2009 payments issue. Processing of applications is at an advanced stage. I hope to be in a position to release the 75% payment due on valid applications in mid December, and the remaining 25% once the last of the on-the-spot inspections for 2009 has taken place.

Departmental Offices.

Brian O'Shea

Ceist:

53 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the measures he is taking to accommodate farmers in counties where his Department’s offices are due to close. [43638/09]

On 15th July, the Government approved my plan for a reorganisation of my Department's Local Office Network. The plan involves reducing, from 57 to 16, the number of offices from which the Department will operate District Veterinary, Forestry and Agricultural Environment and Structures support services in the future.

The decision to close some forty offices of the Department was made only after we had completed a detailed study of the Department's operations at local level. Decisions were made in relation to the overall strategy and against a background of major changes in the Department's operating environment in recent years brought about by the impact of the Single Farm Payment, benefits derived from substantial investment in Information Communications Technology and significant reductions in the incidence of disease.

Improvements in business processes, information technology and communications will allow the Department to provide to all of our clients, such services as those referred to earlier, from the 16 enhanced offices set out in the plan. In essence, the new structure was designed to improve and enhance service delivery by integrating into regional offices a range of services that were previously delivered from a much larger number of local offices, thus delivering better levels of customer services through new regional ‘ one stop shops'.

Climate Change Policy.

Ciarán Cuffe

Ceist:

54 Deputy Ciarán Cuffe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the action taken to proof agriculture here against climate change in view of the upcoming Copenhagen summit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43456/09]

In December 2008, the EU set itself the twin targets of increasing the share of renewables in energy use to 20% and reducing its overall greenhouse gas emissions to at least 20% below 1990 levels by 2020. At the Conference of the Parties being held in Copenhagen next month, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is hoping to finalise their ongoing efforts to secure an international agreement on global greenhouse gas emissions reductions. The EU is prepared to scale up its emissions reduction commitment, from 20%, to as much as 30%, as its contribution to securing a fair and ambitious agreement.

Ireland is committed to reducing non-trading sector emissions, which includes emissions from the agriculture sector, by 20%, relative to 2005 levels by 2020. To assist the Government in identifying the most appropriate means of achieving Ireland's non-trading sector target, the Cabinet Committee on Climate Change and Energy Security is examining the emissions reduction potential of the non-trading sector and will report to Government on the optimum alternatives to achieve this goal.

In tandem, my colleague, the Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government is in the process of developing a national climate change adaptation framework strategy and a new climate change bill, which will include specific provisions on climate change adaptation. This planned adaptation framework and proposed legislation will provide a mechanism for the integration of adaptation issues into decision making at both national and local level.

Dairy Sector.

Simon Coveney

Ceist:

55 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the action he will take to assist the dairy industry in introducing efficiencies in the effective collection and processing of milk; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43573/09]

The Government is committed to ensuring that the Irish dairy sector reaches its full potential. One of the major challenges in the medium term will be to ensure that Irish farming and the agrifood sector is at the heart of an evolving high-value food market, which is focused on quality and innovation. This is at the core of Government strategy which sets out a series of actions to develop a competitive, innovative and consumer focused agri food sector. As part of this overall strategy, my Department provided funding of €114 million towards investment in dairy processing, which will generate an estimated capital spend of €286 million at full production. By stimulating necessary investment in the sector the Fund will help ensure the long-term competitiveness of the dairy industry in Ireland.

The Prospectus Report published six years ago called for significant investment to ensure the successful implementation of a dairy consolidation programme. In addition to increased investment in R&D and marketing, the report recommended significant up-front costs in capital investment requirements.

The dairy industry itself is ultimately responsible for introducing efficiencies at processor level and has already made substantial investment as part of the government supported Dairy Investment Fund. In the past year the industry has engaged in ongoing and wide ranging consultation with a view to restructuring milk processing in Ireland. I will continue to assist the dairy sector in any way possible. Our objective must be to improve competitiveness, scale and cost efficiency at processing level that allows Irish operators compete on international markets.

Climate Change Policy.

Ciarán Cuffe

Ceist:

56 Deputy Ciarán Cuffe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the measures taken to prepare agriculture for climate change and peak oil; the potential consequent effects on food security in this country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43457/09]

The purpose of the EU climate action and renewable energy package is to deliver the European Union's ambitious commitments to fight climate change and promote renewable energy up to 2020 and beyond. Ireland demonstrated its support for these proposals when, along with Denmark and Luxembourg, we agreed to accept the highest greenhouse gas emissions reduction target, to reduce, by 2020, our overall emissions by 20% compared to 2005 levels. Ireland also agreed to increase the share of renewables in energy use to 16% and remains fully committed achieving both targets.

The EU Emissions Trading Scheme will address emissions reductions from participating installations in Ireland's emissions trading sector, including emissions from many dairy, food and drinks processors. To assist the Government in identifying the most appropriate means of achieving emissions reductions in the remainder of the economy, Ireland's non-trading sector, which includes emissions from primary agriculture, the Cabinet Committee on Climate Change and Energy Security is examining the emissions reduction potential of the entire non-trading sector and will report to Government on the optimum alternatives to achieve this goal.

In tandem, my colleague, the Minister for Environment Heritage and Local Government, is in the process of developing a National Climate Change Adaptation Framework Strategy and a new Climate Change Bill, which will include specific provisions on climate change adaptation. This planned adaptation framework and proposed legislation will provide a mechanism for the integration of adaptation issues into decision making at both national and local level.

The world's population is expected to increase from 6.7 billion people today to 9.3 billion by 2050. However, the number of chronically undernourished people on the planet now stands at over 1 billion, or one person in every six. The UN estimates that, by 2050, an increase of 70% in current food output will be required to eliminate hunger and meet the food needs of the burgeoning world population. I am acutely aware that, as a substantial producer and exporter of high quality, sustainably produced food, Ireland must exploit our natural advantages and expertise in food production, in order to assist in meeting the long-term increased global demand for food. Accordingly, at Ireland's request, the European Council conclusions, which determine the EU's negotiation position for Copenhagen, reiterate the need to ensure food security and stress the need to adequately consider agriculture in a Copenhagen agreement, and in the long term.

Farm Improvement Scheme.

Michael D. Higgins

Ceist:

57 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when farmers who are locked out of the farm improvement scheme will have their applications processed. [43629/09]

The Farm Improvement Scheme was introduced by my Department in July 2007 with funding of €79 million as agreed under the 2006 Partnership Agreement, Towards 2016, and was suspended on 31 October 2007 as applications received had reached this level of funding. 12,675 applications were received from farmers prior to the closing date of the Scheme and these applications have been processed within my Department up to the level of funding available.

I have recently announced that, in the case of on-farm investment schemes, I intend to introduce support for a number of specific categories of farmers which shall be focused on supporting productive investment. Applications for grant-aid under these schemes, which are currently being considered by the EU Commission, will be subject to both eligibility and assessment criteria in order to determine those which will be approved for grant-aid. Applicants who did not receive approval under the Farm Improvement Scheme will be eligible to apply for the various schemes, when introduced, where they comply with the specific eligibility criteria laid down in the schemes concerned.

Departmental Programmes.

Eamon Gilmore

Ceist:

58 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when new grant aid schemes will be introduced that were announced on 8 July 2009. [43628/09]

A new scheme called the "Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme" has been proposed under Ireland's revised Rural Development Programme which was submitted to the EU Commission last July. The proposed scheme includes measures to assist dairy enterprises and sheep enterprises. A water management scheme is also proposed. Animal welfare issues relating to pigs and poultry will also be addressed with support provided to help producers to comply with welfare standards applicable in 2012 and 2013. It is also proposed to fund bio energy measures through establishment grants for willow and miscanthus.

The Commission has raised some queries relating to these proposals and negotiations are ongoing regarding the final format of the revised Programme. Commission approval for these Schemes is expected by mid December. Matching national funds must be provided to draw down the EU funds available for these schemes and the timing of their introduction will therefore depend on the outcome of the normal estimates process.

Rural Environment Protection Scheme.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

59 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the steps he is taking to support REP scheme three; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43544/09]

Payments to all REPS 3 participants will continue, subject to their compliance with the terms and conditions of the scheme,for the duration of the contract period and at the rates agreed in the contracts.

Question No. 60 answered with Question No. 27.

Agrifood Sector.

Margaret Conlon

Ceist:

61 Deputy Margaret Conlon asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his views on the need for a comprehensive medium term plan for the agrifood and fishing sector here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43445/09]

As I have previously indicated on a number of occasions, a new development plan for the period to 2020 is required to maintain the impetus gained from the Agri Vision 2015 and the Agrifood 2010 strategies. Work on this plan is already well advanced and I expect the public consultation element to commence in December. At this stage, it is too early to anticipate its contents but I expect that it will have a strong emphasis on the critical issues of competitiveness, environmental sustainability and food security.

Dairy Sector.

John Cregan

Ceist:

62 Deputy John Cregan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he expects the high level group, established by the EU Agriculture Commissioner, to report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43440/09]

At the special Council of Ministers meeting on the 5th of October my colleagues and I had a thorough discussion on the need for measures to manage the dairy market in the period up to and beyond quota abolition in 2015. At that meeting it was agreed to set up a High Level Group of Member States, chaired by the EU Commission's Agriculture Director General, to examine the type of arrangements to be put in place.

The Commission High level Group will examine medium term and long term ways of stabilising dairy farmer's incomes and improving market transparency. The Group is tasked with delivering a comprehensive report by June 2010, and it is due to meet about eight further times before then, having already met twice. It will examine means through which contractual arrangements in the supply chain can contribute to the highest possible returns for producers. This would give them more bargaining power in the process and provide a buffer against extremes of market volatility such as those that are being experienced at present. The Group will also examine existing market instruments and consider what other means, including a dairy futures market, could contribute to the objective of price stability in the longer term.

I established a Consultative Group so that I could hear the views of the experts here on issues emerging at the High Level Group. In particular the ideas, knowledge and expert opinion of the Irish dairy sector will provide key perspectives on how the sector needs to be developed and supported into the future. The consultative group is representative of the broad dairy sector in Ireland and all the main stakeholder organisations are participating in it. The first meeting of the Consultative Group took place on the 2nd of November and was chaired by the Secretary General of my Department. I intend the group to meet regularly and it will follow the progress of the Commission High Level Group, and I look forward to receiving constructive input from them.

Common Fisheries Policy.

Seán Connick

Ceist:

63 Deputy Seán Connick asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his views on the outcome of the EU Fisheries Council meeting on 13 November 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43437/09]

I am assuming that the Deputy is referring to the Fisheries Council attended by my colleague Tony Killeen T.D., Minister of State in the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, last Thursday and Friday as there was no Fisheries Council meeting on the 13th of November.

Each year EU and Norway negotiate access to fish stocks, in each others waters and changing stock patterns mean that there is increasing pressure for Norway's access to mackerel to be increased. There is growing concern that the EU will agree to increase Norway's share of the stock which would reduce Ireland's quota for 2010 and future years. At last weeks Fisheries Council Minister Killeen set down a strong marker to make sure that the important mackerel fishery was protected and that Ireland's share of the fishery is maintained. The mackerel fishery is very important to Ireland and in 2009 we had a quota of 62,000 tonnes worth an estimated €65 million at the quayside. Norway has demanded an increased share of the overall EU TAC which Ireland is totally opposing and is also seeking to be allowed to fish that quota in EU waters.

Minister Killeen made it clear to his fellow Ministers and to Commissioner Borg, the importance of the mackerel fishery for Ireland and that we needed to work together to prevent any reduction in the EU's share of the mackerel quota. Minister Killeen also informed the Council that Ireland was prepared to discuss mutually acceptable arrangements that would increase the access for Norwegian vessels in return for a long term agreement on the share out between EU and Norway that protected the interests of Irish fishermen.

The Fisheries Council also discussed new conservation measures on mesh sizes and closed areas. These measures are important to deliver on our overall objective of conserving fish stocks and promoting sustainable fishing practices. It was agreed to continue the existing measures for a further 18 months to allow for more detailed discussions with fishermen. Minister Killeen was strongly in favour of the need to strengthen the current conservation rules while ensuring that the new measures, which can be very technical and complex, would allow for economic fisheries that protect the livelihood of fishermen. Minister Killeen was disappointed that the Council's failure to reach an overall agreement has resulted in the continuation of measures applied last December for the waters off the North West coast. Some changes to the existing regime were achieved by Minister Killeen; however, Council was not prepared to make the substantive changes sought by him in this interim period.

Sheep Sector.

David Stanton

Ceist:

64 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the new initiatives he plans to put in place to support the sheep sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43545/09]

My Department already provides significant support to the sheep sector through the Single Farm Payment, the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme and REPS. In addition, this year Bord Bia will spend up to €1 million on the promotion of sheep and lamb at home and abroad, and Teagasc has allocated almost €1.5 million for sheep research.

Earlier this year, I made a decision to assign €7 million from this year's Single Farm Payment National Reserve to hill sheep farmers, in the form of an Uplands Sheep Payment Scheme. Last week I announced that payments under this scheme will commence in early December — payments in the region of €5 million will be made by the end of the year, with the remainder being paid in early 2010. This Scheme should benefit some 13,000 hill sheep farmers.

I also took the needs of the sheep sector into account in deciding how to use unspent CAP funds for the next three years. Of the €25 million or so available annually from next year, I have decided to allocate €18 million per year to sheep farmers, under a new Grassland Scheme. Also, under the proposed amendments to the Rural Development Programme Ireland 2007 -2013, an indicative figure of €8 million has been allocated for sheep fencing and mobile handling facilities to assist sheep farmers in reducing labour input. A decision from the EU Commission on the amended programme is expected in mid December 2009.

All of these supports complement the work being undertaken by my Department, its state agencies and the industry, on foot of the recommendations of the Sheep Industry Development Strategy Group — "the Malone Report". This report provides a clear blueprint for the development of a more profitable sheep sector in Ireland and covers production, processing and marketing. While most of the recommendations in the Malone Report fall to be implemented by the industry itself, my Department is playing its part by providing assistance for areas such as breeding and quality assurance. In addition, the support being provided for processing facilities under the beef and sheepmeat capital investment fund underlines the Government's commitment to the sector.

I am confident that every effort is being made to support this sector and that it will benefit considerably from all of the initiatives just outlined.

Food Aid Programme.

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

65 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has drawn down Ireland’s full allocated budget under the European food aid programme for the most deprived. [43621/09]

Ireland was allocated the sum of €376,977 in 2009 for the purchase on the open market of cheese for distribution as part of the European Food aid Programme for the most deprived. 68 tonnes of cheese were distributed to charities, which represented a full draw down of the allocated budget. Ireland has been allocated a budget of €818,816 for 2010 which will be used to exchange 350 tonnes of butter that are held in intervention stocks for other dairy products which will be distributed to charities for the benefit of the most deprived in the community. The first products will be available before Christmas with the remainder being distributed in the New Year.

Farm Investment Schemes.

Máire Hoctor

Ceist:

66 Deputy Máire Hoctor asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the details of the new targeted scheme for on-farm investment announced as part of a revised rural development programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43450/09]

As part of proposals in relation to the use of unspent Single Payment Scheme and Modulation funds and the European Economic Recovery Programme, I have announced that, in the case of on-farm investment schemes, I intend to introduce support for a number of specific categories of farmers which shall be focused on supporting productive investment. The measures shall include: A scheme for dairy farmers to make the necessary investment to adjust to expanding dairy opportunities and promote the operation of cost-effective commercial operations by such farmers; Aid for sheep fencing and handling facilities to assist sheep farmers in reducing labour input in a vulnerable sector; Aid for farmers for water harvesting and conservation equipment, which will reduce water costs on farms; Animal welfare grants (a) for pig producers to assist in the conversion to loose housing for sows; and (b) for poultry producers to assist in the conversion to enriched cages, free range or barn systems.

The measures will be strictly cash-limited and are currently being considered by the EU Commission. The measures will be introduced as soon as relevant EU approval has been obtained and following agreement on the specific cash-limits available for each measure.

Direct Payment Schemes.

Máire Hoctor

Ceist:

67 Deputy Máire Hoctor asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his spending proposals for the use of the unspent single payment scheme funds, announced in the context of a revised rural development programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43451/09]

Under the agreement reached in November 2008 on the Health Check of the CAP, I together with support from several of my counterparts in other Member States, secured approval to use previously inaccessible unspent Single Payment System funds to address, among other things, specific disadvantages affecting certain sectors in economically vulnerable or environmentally sensitive areas. Member States could also provide support to farmers for specific agricultural activities providing agri-environmental benefits.

Resulting from this agreement Ireland gained access to in the region of €25million in additional funding for each of the next three years 2010, 2011 and 2012 for these targeted measures. In considering how these monies might be best spent my objective was to achieve the most effective and efficient outcome for Irish agriculture. With this in mind and having consulted widely with all relevant stakeholders including the farming organisations and having regard to the provisions of the regulations, I decided to allocate the available funds as follows: €18m each year for the next three years on a Grassland Scheme to support incomes in the sheep sector, €6m each year for the next three years on a Grassland Dairy Efficiency Programme aimed at encouraging a significant improvement in efficiencies on dairy farms, and €1m for each of the three years 2010, 2011 and 2012 to support high environmental value farming, with tourism spin-off, in the Burren, Co. Clare, continuing and mainstreaming the pilot scheme operated by the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

In addition to this agreement I successfully negotiated for the use of the national reserve element of these funds from 2009. In this regard I have already announced that approximately €7 will be paid to hill sheep farmers as a once off payment in the form of an Uplands Sheep Payment, benefiting 13,000 hill sheep farmers. Payments worth in the region of €5m will be made before the end of the year with the remaining €2m being paid in early 2010.

Bovine Disease Controls.

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

68 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the progress being made in relation to new TB tests and the vaccination of badgers. [43639/09]

In accordance with EU rules (Directive 64/432/EEC), the tuberculin skin test (Single Intradermal Comparative Tuberculin Test ) must be used by Member States for the purpose of testing herds for bovine TB. Due of the level of herd incidence of TB in Ireland, EU rules provide that herds must have one such test per annum, with follow-up testing in herds that have their status suspended/withdrawn.

With regard to new tests, I assume that the Deputy is referring to a blood test, known as the Enferplex assay, which is currently being researched by Enfer Scientific in conjunction with my Department. It is hoped that, when developed, the Enferplex could be another diagnostic assay for TB. Indeed, if the sensitivity and specificity of the assay match or surpass that of the skin test it could possibly, in time, function as a screening test to replace the skin test. However there are a number of milestones to be passed before this desired outcome can be achieved. The current phase of the project during 2009 involves DVOs taking blood samples for analysis from herds undergoing high risk or consequential test type tests (i.e. not round tests) and which represent the whole of Ireland. The results from tests conducted by the company on these samples will be compared with that of the skin test. Enfer Scientific and my Department have agreed to continue to perform the assay at least until the end of this year in order to gather sufficient data to determine the merits of the multiplex assay. Accordingly, the data from this current project will not be available for analysis until 2010. In view of the possibility that the data may indicate that refinement of the multiplex assay will be necessary, samples collected to date are being held as a sample bank to facilitate further assay development.

I should point out that there is no possibility that the Enfer test can entirely substitute for the annual tuberculin skin testing until such time as it becomes accepted under Directive 64/432/EEC. In this regard, it is noteworthy that Ireland commenced research into the use of the Interferon-gamma assay for TB in 1991 but it was only approved by the EU for use as an adjunct to the skin test in 2002 with the objective of facilitating the early removal of additional infected animals in problem herds.

With regard to the vaccination of badgers, while the TB eradication programme includes a badger removal strategy aimed at reducing the incidence of TB in wildlife and the opportunities for contact between cattle and wildlife, the long- term objective of my Department is to develop a vaccine for badgers and considerable research has already been conducted in collaboration with UCD on the development of such a vaccine. Research to date has demonstrated that oral vaccination of badgers in a captive environment with the BCG vaccine generates high levels of protective immunity against challenge with bovine TB. The work programme has now reached a stage where it is necessary to test the vaccine under conditions of natural transmission of infection. A three year field trial in Kilkenny, where vaccine will be delivered orally, by hand, to badgers has recently commenced to test the efficacy of the vaccine in a large number of badgers over a wide geographic area. Success in the field trial will lead to the eventual implementation of a vaccination strategy as part of the national control programme. However, it will be some years before the benefits of a vaccine can be seen (2013 at the earliest) and therefore targeted badger removal will continue in the medium term.

Question No. 69 answered with Question No. 27.

Grant Payments.

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

70 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will confirm that those whose applications had been received for the early farm retirement scheme will be accommodated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43433/09]

All applications received up to the closing date of 30 October 2009 are being examined in my Department at present. The number of valid applications that can be accepted will be determined by the funds available.

Live Exports.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

71 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the steps he is taking to support a live cattle trade to Britain; the numbers exported to date in 2009; the corresponding figure for 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43432/09]

The live export trade is an important element of Ireland's meat and livestock industry providing a complement to the beef trade.

The following table sets out the exports of live cattle in 2009 to the United Kingdom and the corresponding figures for 2008.

Destination

1 January-15 November 2009

1 January-15 November 2008

Northern Ireland

72,249

30,146

Great Britain

9,311

1,808

United Kingdom

81,560

31,954

Bord Bia continues to work closely with the industry in monitoring and developing emerging opportunities and in resolving any outstanding difficulties for Irish livestock in the United Kingdom, the Continent and international markets. This includes contact with leading retailers in Britain to establish their interest in cattle born in Ireland and finished in Britain.

Animal Diseases.

Ned O'Keeffe

Ceist:

72 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the progress made to date by Animal Health Ireland in achieving and maintaining the highest standards of animals health; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43447/09]

My Department has no direct responsibility for the day to day activities of Animal Health Ireland (AHI). AHI operates independently of my Department. It is a company limited by guarantee with its own Board of Directors and a Chief Executive. AHI will be responsible for the wide dissemination of information to stakeholders in relation to its programme of activities. AHI aims to improve through a coordinated national approach to animal health, overall animal health standards. Higher animal health standards will secure improved profitability for farmers and international competitiveness of Irish livestock products through a coordinated national approach to animal health.

AHI came about as a result of a commitment by all interested parties to work together on an initiative to address a range of animal health and related issues. The most innovative aspect of this initiative is that it is industry-led and driven and it is part-financed by industry and my Department — up to a max of €0.5m per annum, for a period of 5 years, subject to a matching contribution being made by the industry. Consequently, the approach represents a substantial departure from the classic current Government-led model for animal health that has operated in this country to date.

Organic Farming.

Mary White

Ceist:

73 Deputy Mary Alexandra White asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the size of the domestic market for organic fruit and vegetables; the percentage of this produce produced domestically; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43458/09]

The latest Bord Bia figures indicate that in 2009, the organic fresh produce market in the Ireland will be worth approximately €43 million. It is estimated that about 30% of this is produced domestically.

Common Agricultural Policy.

Niall Collins

Ceist:

74 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his views on the terms of the Common Agricultural Policy health check, particularly in relation to quotas, if it should be revisited in the context of the pressure on dairy prices; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43435/09]

At the outset I would like to point out that I and my Government colleagues have been fully engaged in dealing with the current dairy market difficulties while at the same time trying to ensure that the industry is well-placed to take advantage of the upturn in dairy markets when it arrives. A revisiting of last November's CAP Health Check agreement would do nothing to achieve either objective.

The Health Check agreement had two key elements, namely, supply control and market support. Taking the issue of supply control, or milk quotas, first, the agreement provided the framework for the EU milk quota regime leading up to its abolition in 2015. There was a wide divergence of views among Member States in the months preceding the final negotiations as to the best course of action in relation to milk quotas. Commissioner Fischer Boel had made it clear that she would not be proposing the continuation of the quota regime beyond 2015. The question was whether, and to what extent, milk quotas should be increased in order to prepare for their abolition.

Many of our colleagues argued in favour of annual quota increases of up to five per cent, while others were opposed to any increase. I adopted an ambitious approach that would facilitate the maximum possible fulfilment of the production potential in the Irish dairy herd. In that context I believe the decision to increase quotas by 1% each year from 2009 to 2014 was a good outcome. So also was the downward adjustment in the butterfat co-efficient that equates to a further potential 2% rise in quotas in 2009. When the 2% quota increase in 2008 is taken into account, the result is a cumulative increase of 9.3% in Ireland's milk quota by 2014 compared to 2007. This will help our dairy farmers to maximise their production potential, and to maximise the natural advantage they possess in the form of a grass-based production system. This in turn will lead to efficiency gains and help to achieve a competitive edge in an increasingly volatile world market.

If, on the other hand, EU production is constrained by quotas, it will prevent Ireland from benefiting from future upturns in dairy markets. In that scenario the only winners would be our global competitors, which is why I did not add my voice to recent calls for a reversal or freezing of the agreed quota increases. Indeed I actively counselled against such a course of action.

It has been suggested by some groups that the quota increases are the cause of the current low prices for milk. This is a flawed argument. In its report to the Council in June, the Commission said that milk production in the quota year 2008/09 had fallen by 0.6 per cent compared to the previous year and that, overall, production was 4.2 per cent below quota by 31st March 2009. Statistics for the 2009/2010 quota year thus far indicate a similar trend. Indeed, here in Ireland production was just over ten per cent below quota at the end of October. Therefore to attempt to attribute the current market weakness to the additional quota allocated as part of the Health Check is patently wrong. The problem lies in the mismatch of supply and demand that arose as a result of the increase in supply that followed the high prices of late 2007 and early 2008, and a contraction of demand arising from the combined effects of the global financial crisis and recession.

This brings me to the other key dairy element in the Health Check, which was, of course, market support. In the negotiations I strongly defended the view that quota increases must be matched with effective dairy market management measures during the transition to a post-quota EU dairy market. I therefore called for the continuation of such measures and, above all, those schemes that are especially important for Ireland. In the event, I managed to have these schemes maintained in the face of powerful opposition and they have been used to the maximum possible extent by the Commission in recent months to help support the market.

Job Losses.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

75 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the position regarding an application for statutory redundancy in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43490/09]

My Department administers the Social Insurance Fund (SIF) in relation to redundancy matters on behalf of the Department of Social and Family Affairs. There are two types of payment made from the SIF — rebates to those employers who have paid statutory redundancy to eligible employees, and statutory lump sums to employees whose employers are insolvent and/or in receivership/liquidation.

I can advise the Deputy that the Redundancy Payments Section of my Department received an application for a statutory lump sum claim for the person concerned on 15th May 2009. In this case, as in all cases where the employer claims inability to pay the employee's statutory redundancy, the Department requires the employer to provide sufficient proof to substantiate the claim.

I understand that following receipt of the required information in October, the lump sum claim in question is being processed and payment is expected to issue within the next two to three weeks.

Trade Union Sector.

John McGuinness

Ceist:

76 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the protection in existing legislation for rank and file union members when there is evidence or a reasonable suspicion that corporate governance within a trade union is weak or inadequate; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that there is growing concern among the members of at least two unions regarding the financial affairs of their organisations; if she will investigate the matter; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43519/09]

My attention has been drawn to newspaper reports in relation to two trade unions where questions have arisen with regard to their financial affairs. In respect of one of these unions the Registrar of Friendly Societies was contacted directly about the situation.

The legislative position regarding corporate governance for trade unions can be split broadly into financial and non-financial governance. The non-financial aspects cover issues such as registration of rules and the titles and names of officers, investigation of complaints of discriminatory treatment against a non-contributor to a political fund, or concerning the operation of secret ballots or amalgamations of trade unions.

With regard to financial governance, provision is made for the making of annual returns by trade unions, specifying the receipts, funds, effects and expenditure of the trade union, which are lodged on the public file of the union concerned and are then available to inspection by the public. In addition, the rules of each trade union must contain a provision for the inspection of the books by every person having an interest in the funds of the union.

Neither the Registrar of Friendly Societies nor I have powers of investigation in respect of these financial governance issues. The Registrar has the statutory power to refer a matter to the court in relation to wilful or fraudulent withholding of money. This option is also available to any person acting on behalf of a trade union, which would include union members.

I think it is fair to say that the statutory provisions currently in force relating to financial governance matters in trade unions place considerable reliance on the active involvement of the members of trade unions. In this, these provisions reflect the historical period from which they originate. As the Deputy will be aware, my Department is currently carrying out reviews of the existing legislation relating to industrial and provident societies (co-operative societies) and friendly societies, which also date mainly from the late 19th century and are administered by the Registrar of Friendly Societies. I have now directed my Department to extend the scope of these reviews to include the functions of the Registrar of Friendly Societies under the Trade Union Acts.

FÁS Training Programmes.

Joanna Tuffy

Ceist:

77 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of private sector employers who have applied for and been approved for the FÁS work placement scheme to date in 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43649/09]

Joanna Tuffy

Ceist:

78 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the number of public sector bodies which have applied for and been approved for the FÁS work placement scheme to date in 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43650/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 77 and 78 together.

As at 24th November 2009, 282 Private Sector bodies and 40 Public Sector bodies have applied for and been approved under the Work Placement Programme.

Employment Rights.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

79 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 199 of 3 November 2009 and 135 of 18 November 2009, if she will provide a list of the persons who attended the meetings; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43758/09]

I understand that the following individuals have been in attendance at one or other of the informal meetings of the Review Group on Employee Representation held to date (on 14th September and 13th October, 2009): On behalf of the Department of the Taoiseach: Mr Dermot McCarthy (Chair); Mr Philip Kelly; and Mr Colin Menton; On behalf of my Department: Mr Dermot Curran; Mr Paul Cullen; and Mr Michael Greene; On behalf of the Department of Finance: Mr Peter Brazel; On behalf of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions: Mr David Begg; Ms Esther Lynch; Ms Patricia King (SIPTU); Mr Shay Cody (IMPACT); and Ms Louise O'Donnell (IMPACT); and On behalf of the Irish Business and Employers' Confederation: Mr Brendan McGinty; Mr Tim O'Connell; Mr Loughlin Deegan; and Ms Rhona Murphy. I also understand that there is scope for additional representatives from the relevant Government Departments, IBEC and ICTU to attend meetings of the Review Group as appropriate.

Employment Rights.

Sean Fleming

Ceist:

80 Deputy Seán Fleming asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment when an appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Laois will be held with the employment appeal tribunal in view of the delays; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43762/09]

The Employment Appeals Tribunal is an independent, quasi-judicial body under the aegis of my Department. As an independent body, I have no role in the day to day operation of the Employment Appeals Tribunal. The person may wish to make direct contact with the Employment Appeals Tribunal Secretariat by email to eat@entemp.ie or by telephone to 01 631 3006.

Tax Collection.

Michael Creed

Ceist:

81 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Finance the moneys paid to farmers in VAT refunds each year for the past five years; the number of farmers who claimed refunds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43742/09]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the following table sets out the number of claims and the monies paid to farmers in VAT refunds each year for the past five years. These figures relate to farmers who are not registered for VAT. Farmers who are registered for VAT account for their VAT transactions, including any refunds due to them through the normal VAT system.

Year

Number of Claims

Amounts Paid

2005

13,430

31,885,636

2006

14,207

38,468,507

2007

15,430

59,941,194

2008

23,259

154,747,299

2009 (Year to date)

25,184

165,685,666

Vehicle Registration Numbers.

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

82 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Finance his views on correspondence from a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43810/09]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that under the Finance Act 1992 they have responsibility for the legislation governing vehicle identification marks (registration plates) in the State. Section 131(6)(a) of that Act provides that the identifying mark (registration number) assigned to a vehicle, that has been registered in the State, must be displayed in the format prescribed by the Revenue Commissioners.

The format, dimensions and technical specifications of identification marks to be displayed on vehicles in the State are set out in Statutory Instrument (S.I.) 318/92 as amended by S.I. 432/99. These regulations and the requirements therein have been widely publicised by Revenue. The owner of a vehicle is responsible for ensuring that the vehicle registration plate conforms with the requirements specified in the regulations, and it is an offence under Section 139(1)(b) of the Finance Act 1992 to be in possession of a vehicle displaying a registration plate in a format other than as prescribed by law. The penalty for such an offence is €5,000 on summary conviction.

The Deputy may wish to note that Revenue mobile units and An Garda Síochána are actively engaged in the detection of vehicles displaying non-conforming registration plates. Furthermore, a vehicle displaying non-conforming registration plates will fail the National Car Test, which is regulated by the Road Safety Authority. There are no plans to impose further regulatory control in this area at this time.

Banking Sector Regulation.

Kieran O'Donnell

Ceist:

83 Deputy Kieran O’Donnell asked the Minister for Finance if the established guideline of €500,000 in salary for bank chief executive officers includes stock options, relocation expenses, other expenses, pension payments and performance related payments; the forms of remuneration that are explicitly included in the composition of the guideline; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43465/09]

As the Deputy is aware, the report of the Covered Institutions Remuneration Committee (CIROC) was placed before the House on 13 March 2009. The Government considers the CIROC recommendations regarding remuneration of chief executives including bonuses, pensions, long term incentive plans, which includes stock options, are appropriate but that basic salary level should be capped at €500,000 or the salary amount recommended by CIROC which ever is the lower. Any deviation from this should be in very exceptional circumstances and with my agreement.

Kieran O'Donnell

Ceist:

84 Deputy Kieran O’Donnell asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the employment contract between a bank (details supplied) and its managing director; if he will request same in view of the State’s shareholding in the bank; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43466/09]

The Deputy will be aware that I have intervened in the matter of the level of salary for the incoming managing director to ensure that it is in line with the CIROC recommendations and the Government's cap on basic salary of €500,000.

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

85 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Finance if persons recently appointed to the boards of banks covered by the National Asset Management Agency are paid from the Exchequer; if he will provide details of same. [43484/09]

The Exchequer is not paying the relevant director's fees to any person in respect of their service as a board director, even where the persons concerned are nominated by me.

Tax Collection.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

86 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare is entitled to a tax rebate or other payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43538/09]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that they are not in a position to provide a detailed reply on this matter within the timeframe for answering Parliamentary Questions. Accordingly, they will contact the Deputy directly on this issue at an early date.

Tax Code.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

87 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance the estimate yield from lowering the threshold for the application of the minimum effective income tax of 20% to all incomes above €250,000, all incomes above €200,000, all incomes above €150,000 and all incomes above €100,000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43674/09]

It is assumed that the Deputy is referring to the restriction of reliefs measure relating to higher income earners announced in Budget 2006, which came into operation from 1 January 2007. It is estimated by the Revenue Commissioners that reducing the existing threshold of €500,000, at which the full restriction applies, to the stated amounts, would result in the following full year yields to the Exchequer. These estimates are based on personal income tax data for 2007, the latest year for which the relevant information is available.

New thresholds & marginal relief limits

Full year yield

€m

125,000 – 250,000

8.7

100,000 – 200,000

11.2

75,000 – 150,000

13.8

50,000 – 100,000

15.5

Public Works Projects.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

88 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance if he will report on the involvement to date of the Office of Public Works in implementing the Towards a Liffey Valley Park report; the proposals to establish an OPW co-ordinated steering group as recommended in the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43675/09]

This report arose from a study undertaken on behalf of a Steering Group comprising representatives of the County Councils of Fingal, Kildare, South Dublin, Dublin City Council and the Office of Public Works (OPW). It is a matter for each public body to consider making progress from within its own resources. For its part OPW, contributes to the objectives of the study through on-going management of historic properties, in State ownership along the Valley. For example, a major improvement scheme is being carried-out at Castletown House and Park and programmes of improvement and maintenance are in progress at the Phoenix Park and War Memorial Park, Islandbridge.

Further progress on implementing aspects of the report at a National level is dependent on the provision of resources, particularly through the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. Consideration of the establishment of an overarching implementation group must await developments in this respect.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

89 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 135 of 12 November 2009, the reason the Castleknock Gate of the Phoenix Park is being removed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43723/09]

The Castleknock Gate was damaged in a collision with a commercial vehicle some time ago. The works at Mountjoy provided an opportunity to repair, realign and repaint the gate, which has now been re-hung.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

90 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance the reason the works in the Phoenix Park do not include the resurfacing of the road; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43725/09]

It is considered that carrying out the necessary works, in tandem with the works on Mountjoy roundabout and the associated traffic diversions, would be unduly disruptive of traffic. However, these works are regarded as a priority and will be carried out as soon as possible after the end of Operation Freeflow in early 2010, subject to the availability of funding.

Pension Provisions.

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

91 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance if he will respond to a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43739/09]

The position of women who resigned from the civil service on marriage as regards civil service pension entitlements is as follows. A woman appointed to the civil service from a competition advertised prior to 1 February 1974 who had at least 5 years' actual reckonable service prior to marriage, and who resigned from the civil service on or shortly before marriage, or within 2 years after the date of marriage, was paid a marriage gratuity which, if applied for and awarded, was in lieu of any other civil service superannuation benefit. The amount of the gratuity was 1 month's pay for each year of actual reckonable service (pro-rata for part of a year) up to the date of marriage, subject to a maximum of 12 months' pay.

A woman who received a marriage gratuity who was subsequently reappointed to the civil service in an established capacity could refund the gratuity, in which case all prior service would be aggregated with subsequent service for superannuation purposes. Any social welfare pension entitlements of the women concerned are a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Social and Family Affairs.

Financial Services Staff.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

92 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance if the position of chief executive officer or managing director of a bank (details supplied) was advertised in the international press; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43741/09]

This is a matter for the bank in the first instance. I am aware that a search was carried out using professional recruitment consultancy services, and that this search was extensive and international in nature.

Tax Collection.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

93 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare has been granted tax rebates for the years 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43753/09]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that they are not in a position to provide a detailed reply on this matter within the timeframe for answering Parliamentary Questions. Accordingly, they will contact the Deputy directly on this issue at an early date.

Flood Relief.

Tom Hayes

Ceist:

94 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Finance the status of the Clonmel flood relief scheme; the amount of funding spent on this scheme to date; the amount of funding allocated to the scheme; if the next phase in the flood relief scheme will be fast tracked to prevent further flood damage during the process of building these works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43778/09]

The Clonmel Flood Relief Scheme was divided into three phases — Clonmel West, North and East. The Clonmel West scheme was confirmed by the Minister for Finance in 2007 and the Civil Works on this phase are now nearing completion with substantial completion due early in 2010. The estimated cost for the Clonmel West Scheme is €21.2 million and OPW is committed to this funding. The decision has been taken to implement the North and East phases simultaneously and the estimated cost for these phases is €29 million. Contract documents are currently being prepared to invite submissions from Civil Engineering Contractors to carry out the next phases of the flood relief works in Clonmel and it is proposed to submit these schemes to the Minister for Finance for Confirmation early in 2010. To date, €16.2 million has been expended on the construction of the Clonmel West scheme and in the preparation of all the schemes.

Tax Code.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

95 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Finance if a charge (details supplied) will be made allowable as a business expense for properties. [43792/09]

Under the provisions of the tax Acts, a person in receipt of rental income is assessed to income tax on the net amount of the rents received (i.e. the gross rents less allowable expenses incurred in earning those rents). In computing the net amount of the rents received, only those deductions that are specified in section 97(2) of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 are allowable. The main deductible expenses are:

Any rent payable by the landlord in the case of a sub-lease;

The cost to the landlord of any goods provided or services rendered to a tenant;

The cost of maintenance, repairs, insurance and management of the property;

Interest on borrowed money used to purchase, improve or repair the property; and

Payment of local authority rates in the case of rateable properties used for commercial purposes.

As payment of the new local authority charge for residential properties is not included on the list of allowable deductions, it is not an allowable expense in computing taxable rental income. As the Deputy will appreciate, in line with normal practice, I cannot make any further comment in relation to particular tax measures in advance of the Budget.

Tax Collection.

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

96 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Finance when a VAT refund will be awarded to a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43832/09]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that in the particular circumstances concerned the individual is required to register for Income Tax. The individual concerned has been advised of this on three separate occasions by the Revenue Commissioners together with details on how to register. I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that until he complies with this obligation it will not be possible to process the claim any further.

Flood Relief.

Joanna Tuffy

Ceist:

97 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Finance the amount that was spent by him on flood relief works in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43854/09]

Since the Office of Public Works became the Lead Agency in relation to Flood Management in Ireland in 2004, following the publication of the Flood Policy Review Group Report, the following expenditure for flood relief activities has been incurred.

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

€15.4M

€16.2M

€14.2M

€23.1M

€24.9M

Expenditure for 2009 is currently at €24.5M with an anticipated outturn in the region of €38 M.

The figures include construction works, preparation of studies, and contributions to Local Authorities for major works being undertaken directly by them. Since January of this year, OPW has also assumed Lead Agency responsibility for Coastal Protection, so there will be extensive expenditure in this area in coming years in addition to the normal expenditure. Recently, a Minor Works Programme has been introduced which will involve OPW providing funding to Local Authorities who are implementing such minor works for flood prevention measures.

OPW will continue to implement the Government's flood policy and future expenditure will depend on the available financial resources. OPW has profiled in excess of €200 Million on its current projects up to 2014.

Joanna Tuffy

Ceist:

98 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Finance the steps that have been taken by him on the development of better flood management systems since the adoption of the report of the flood review group 2004. [43855/09]

The report of the review group, which was adopted by the Government in late 2004, recommended that flood risk management policy should address both existing and future risk and that there should be increased focus on non-structural measures to complement traditional reliance on works. Substantial progress has been made by the Office of Public Works, as lead agency for implementing the recommendations of the report, on improving flood management systems.

The OPW has commenced the Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management Studies programme. The Lee CFRAMS is the primary pilot project for the National CFRAM programme, and amongst the stated objectives for it are to:

Identify viable structural and non-structural measures and options for managing the flood risks for localised high-risk areas and within the catchment as a whole; and

Prepare a strategic Catchment Flood Risk Management Plan (CFRMP) and associated Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) that sets out the measures and policies that should be pursued by the Local Authorities and the OPW to achieve the most cost effective and sustainable management of flood risk within the Lee catchment.

OPW has also begun pilot studies for the Rivers Dodder and Suir and the Fingal East Meath area. OPW will be commissioning Flood Risk Assessments and Management studies (CFRAMS) for all of the River Catchments. The end result of these studies will be a Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management Plan. The programme, which will be completed over the next 6 years, will develop for each catchment maps indicating the predicted extents of areas that would be affected by flood events of varying severity and will produce plans for dealing with the risk where it is feasible.

The OPW, in conjunction with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, developed a Protocol on Flood Emergencies that supports the Framework for Major Emergency Management that has been put in place to facilitate co-ordination between front line agencies in responding to major flood events.

The OPW, again with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, has produced draft Guidelines on the Planning System and Flood Risk Management that will assist planning authorities to take cognisance of flood risk with a view to preventing unsustainable development through appropriate planning decisions. The Guidelines will be published shortly. To facilitate planning authorities in implementing the Guidelines, and to as an aid to the emergency services and the public, the OPW developed a dedicated website, www.floodmaps.ie, which provides data on areas that are prone to flooding. Another website developed by the OPW, http://www.flooding.ie/www.floodmaps.ie, provides practical advice to the public in relation to preparing for and coping with floods.

In order to provide engineers with the best methodologies and tools for assessing flows when designing developments, the OPW commissioned an important research programme, which will be completed shortly. As part of the implementation of major flood relief projects for Mallow, Fermoy and Clonmel, where demountable structures are an integral part of the scheme, the OPW has developed early warning systems to enable the Local Authorities to take the appropriate action to erect the defences. The OPW is also commissioning a project to establish the feasibility of implementing a national flood warning system and the resources that such a system would require.

Tax Code.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

99 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance if and when an income tax refund under MED1 or MED2 will be awarded in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; if allowance will be made in respect of equipment for home physiotherapy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43896/09]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that they are not in a position to provide a detailed reply on this matter within the timeframe for answering Parliamentary Questions. Accordingly, they will contact the Deputy directly on this issue at an early date.

Health Service Staff.

Joe McHugh

Ceist:

100 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount she has spent on the education of student nurses from 2004 to date in 2009; the amount spent on the education of student nurses at a college (details supplied) in County Donegal from 2004 to date in 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43511/09]

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

Child Care Services.

Ciaran Lynch

Ceist:

101 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on whether allowances should be made for the variation in cost between urban and rural areas to the early childhood care education scheme; the reason the scheme provides for 38 weeks rather than the 43 weeks of the primary school year; the reason there is a requirement that children at a young age should attend for the full five days; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43757/09]

I have responsibility for the implementation of the free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme which is being introduced in January 2010. The standard capitation fee which will be paid to participating services is €2,450 per annum. A higher capitation fee of €2,850 per annum is available to sessional playschool services with more highly qualified staff. A wide of range of factors contribute to the individual operational costs of services in any sector, including pre-school service providers. It is not possible to take full account of individual circumstances when establishing a national scheme. Some 4,200 services will participate in the ECCE scheme, a fact which bears out that the capitation rates provided for are reasonable and will accommodate 90% of the pre-school services operating in the State. The pre-school year can be provided under a number of options. Services participating in the scheme as sessional playschool services will generally be required to be open for three hours a day, five days a week. They will be expected to operate for 183 days, which is the equivalent of 36.6 working weeks and is the same number as that required for national primary schools. If for a good reason a sessional service is unable to operate over five days, however, it will be allowed to provide the free pre-school year for three and a half hours a day, for four days, over 41 weeks. Further flexibility is provided for in that a full or part-time service may choose to provide a sessional service over 38 weeks of a year, or two sessional services each day, while a sessional service may choose to provide two hours 15 minutes per day over 50 weeks.

The objective of new scheme is to provide all qualifying children with a full year of pre-school early education in the year before they commence primary school. Services participating in the scheme will generally be required to provide the free pre-school provision on five days each week and will be required to give priority to parents using the service on this basis. This is considered the most appropriate framework to ensure that children receive an appropriate level of learning involving appropriate programme based activities. A regular pattern of pre-school attendance, for periods up to 15 hours each week, is in line with international practice in this area, and is currently the norm for the majority of sessional playschools operating in the State and availed of by parents who can afford to pay. As the scheme is being offered free of charge it is expected that the majority of parents will choose to avail of the maximum number of hours of the pre-school provision. To allow services to adjust to the requirements of the new scheme, transitional arrangements will apply during the initial period, from January to August 2010. During this period services which are already accommodating children on a pro rata basis, may continue to do so and the capitation grant will be set by reference to the number of children attending per day rather than the total number of children per week. However, for reasons already stated, these transitional arrangements will not extend beyond September 2010 when the first full year of the scheme comes into effect.

Under Age Drinking.

Mary Upton

Ceist:

102 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to address the problem of under age drinking; the resources she plans to dedicate to this issue; if she is satisfied with the progress of the implementation of the various recommendations that have been made to date to deal with this problem; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43771/09]

Mary Upton

Ceist:

103 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on the sponsorship of sporting events by the drinks industry; her further views that promotion of alcohol in association with sport might have a negative influence on under age persons in relation to their decision to drink; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43807/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 102 and 103 together.

The problem of under age drinking cannot be addressed in isolation from the need to tackle alcohol-related problems across the adult population. The Government is continuing to identify and implement new measures through legislation and through various codes (advertising, sponsorship, sales and display of alcohol in supermarkets, etc.) to seek to protect children and young people from the harms caused by alcohol misuse. The Government continues to support initiatives such as the Young People's Facilities and Services Funding to assist in the development of preventative strategies/initiatives in a targeted manner through the development of youth facilities, (including sport and recreational facilities) and services in disadvantaged areas where a significant substance misuse problem exists or has the potential to develop. In order to provide significantly greater protection for children and young people, strengthened codes on advertising and sponsorship, came into effect on 1 July last year. Under these codes, the Irish alcohol industry may not sponsor any sporting competitions, leagues, events or competitors where such events are designated specifically for participants under 18 years of age. Earlier this year the Government agreed to the establishment of a Working Group to deliver on the commitment in the programme for Government to "discuss the question of the sponsorship of sporting events by the alcohol industry with a view to phasing it out". The report of this Working Group is being finalised at present. In the area of legislation, the 2008 Intoxicating Liquor Act increased the penalties for selling alcohol to an under age person. The Act also permits the Garda Síochána to seize alcohol which is in possession of a person who appears to be under the age of 18 which is being consumed, or intended to be consumed, in a place other than a private residence. In addition, the Act permits the Garda to engage in the test purchasing of alcohol. Guidelines on the practical operation of test purchasing of alcohol have been prepared by a Working Group chaired by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

Hospital Waiting Lists.

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

104 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) will be called for surgery; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43429/09]

The management of waiting lists generally 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. The National Treatment Purchase Fund arranges treatment for patients who have been on a surgical waiting list for more than three months. It is open to the person in question or anyone acting on their behalf to contact the Fund directly in relation to their case.

Domiciliary Care Allowance.

Beverley Flynn

Ceist:

105 Deputy Beverley Flynn asked the Minister for Health and Children if any applicants for domiciliary care allowance have had their applications backdated; and if she will supply a breakdown on a county basis showing the number of applicants whose payments were backdated year by year. [43431/09]

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 to the Deputy.

Hospital Accommodation.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

106 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will support a matter (details supplied). [43468/09]

The new ward block to replace existing accommodation is being developed at St. Vincent's University Hospital, the national tertiary centre for the treatment of adult patients with cystic fibrosis. This facility will provide single room en-suite in-patient accommodation (100 rooms) and a dedicated day unit for people with CF, including 10 single day treatment rooms with en-suite sanitary facilities. Site clearance work has already commenced. It is intended that the building will be operational as early as possible in 2011

Medical Cards.

Ned O'Keeffe

Ceist:

107 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application for an over 70 years medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [43470/09]

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

Ned O'Keeffe

Ceist:

108 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application for a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [43472/09]

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

Hospital Accommodation.

Seymour Crawford

Ceist:

109 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of beds in use in a hospital (details supplied) in County Monaghan for 2006, 2007 and 2008;the changes which have taken place over the past number of weeks in November 2009; the number of bed spaces in place on 1 January 2010; her views on when patients pass on they are not being replaced and the beds are being removed; her further views on whether this is unacceptable in a nationally recognised nursing home; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43477/09]

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

Adoption Services.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

110 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children the transitional measures she intends to introduce in the Adoption Bill 2009 to ensure that couples who are in an advanced stage (details supplied) of adopting a child from a non-Hague signatory country, will be able to complete their adoption; her views on introducing a clause that would allow a couple who has adopted from a non-Hague signatory country, to be allowed to adopt a second child from that country; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43478/09]

The Adoption Bill, 2009, is designed to give force of law to the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption. The new legislation, which incorporates the provisions of the Hague Convention, is designed to provide a framework to ensure that appropriate procedures have been followed and that all adoptions are effected in the best interests of the child. Future intercountry adoption arrangements will be governed by the terms of the Adoption Bill 2009, when enacted. The current policy position, as set out in the Adoption Bill 2009, is that for an adoption to be registered under the Bill it must be effected in a contracting State to the Hague Convention or in a country with which Ireland has a bilateral agreement. For non-Hague countries only those adoptions effected prior to the commencement of the new law can be registered on the Register of Inter-Country Adoptions to be established under the Bill. The issue of transitional measures for prospective parents who are at a definable stage in the adoption process when the Bill is enacted and who wish to continue to adopt a child from a non-Hague, non-bilateral country, is being examined. Prospective adoptive parents have waited a long time and it is my intention to be as flexible as possible in relation to applicants. The issue of a "grandfather" clause was previously given careful and detailed consideration in the preparation of the legislation and it was decided against including such a provision in the Bill as it would represent a considerable dilution of the intent of the legislation in terms of setting improved standards for inter-country adoption.

Health Services.

John Cregan

Ceist:

111 Deputy John Cregan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will confirm that sleep apnoea sufferers who rent CPAP machines are entitled to have this rental refunded under the drugs subsidy scheme; if there are specific guidelines regarding payment of this refund in each Health Service Executive Region; and if these payments are awarded without delay. [43480/09]

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

Health Insurance.

James Reilly

Ceist:

112 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the percentage increase in VHI premiums sanctioned by her per annum from 1997 to 2008 in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43482/09]

Increases in prices of health insurance plans are a matter for the VHI Board, as provided for by the Voluntary Health Insurance (Amendment) Act 1996. The Act provided that any such increases were notified to the Minister and, if circumstances necessitated it, a justified veto could be applied. This provision was subsequently repealed by the Voluntary Health Insurance (Amendment) Act 2008 and I now have no role in the pricing of health insurance plans by VHI. It is a matter for the VHI Board to determine the levels of the increases which they introduce having regard to business considerations, the increasing cost pressures it faces and the need to accrue reserves. There are several underlying cost pressures in private health insurance, such as medical inflation, the aging of the insured population, increased volume in activity, and increases in the prices of public hospital beds. The data requested in tabular form is set out below. It should be noted that VHI had no price increase in 2008.

VHI Price increases 1997-2008

Date

Total Increase

%

Sep-97

9.00

Sep-98

9.00

Sep-99

9.40

Feb-01

6.50

Sep-01

9.00

Sep-02

18.00

Sep-03

8.00

Date

Total Increase

Base Plans

PLAN A

PLAN B

B XS

PLAN C

PLAN D

PLAN E

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Sep-04

3.80

3.80

3.80

3.80

3.80

3.80

3.80

Sep-05

12.61

12.50

12.50

10.50

12.50

16.00

16.00

Sep-06

12.50

10.65

12.36

12.35

12.44

14.73

14.74

Sep-07

8.50

9.50

8.50

9.40

10.30

13.60

11.90

Date

Option Plans

PLAN A

PLAN B

PLAN C

%

%

%

Sep-04

2.50

2.50

2.50

Sep-05

12.00

12.00

9.00

Sep-06

10.49

12.29

11.93

Sep-07

7.50

8.50

8.30

VHI also have a number of plans which are only available since 2005, these are outlined below.

Date

Lifestage Plans

First Plan

First Plan 2

First Plan +

First Plan + 2

Family Plan

Family Plan 2

Family Plan +

Family Plan + 2

Forward Plan

Forward Plan 2

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Sep-05

11.29

11.52

11.32

11.54

11.87

Sep-06

12.33

12.35

12.83

12.70

12.41

Sep-07

4.00

4.00

4.00

4.00

4.00

4.00

4.00

4.00

8.00

7.80

Vaccine Damage Steering Group.

James Reilly

Ceist:

113 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children if the recommendations of the vaccine damage steering group report, published on 17 November 2009, have been accepted by her; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43497/09]

James Reilly

Ceist:

116 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps she will take on foot of the recommendations in the vaccine damage report released recently; if she plans to implement the recommendations; the recommendations she intends to implement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43505/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 113 and 116 together.

My Department is currently considering the recommendations of the Vaccine Damage Steering Group in detail.

Medical Cards.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

114 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in County Galway will be entitled to receive a medical card under EU regulations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43500/09]

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

Joe Costello

Ceist:

115 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the renewal of a medical card application in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 1; the provisions in place for extending cover to applicants awaiting a decision; if cover will be extended for them; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43502/09]

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

Question No. 116 answered with Question No. 113.

Hospital Services.

Joe McHugh

Ceist:

117 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will supplement Letterkenny General Hospital’s annual budget in order to keep Letterkenny Hospital’s day services open; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that an unanticipated extra number of patients attended Letterkenny Hospital in 2009; her views on if this merits the requested financial supplement; if she will acknowledge that closing day services is difficult for patients; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43529/09]

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

Health Service Recruitment.

Joe McHugh

Ceist:

118 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of full-time and part-time positions that remain vacant in the health sector due to the public sector recruitment embargo; if he will categorise these positions into internal health sectors in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43655/09]

The Government decision on the moratorium on recruitment, promotion, or payment of an allowance for the performance of duties at a higher grade is being implemented in the health sector in such a way as to ensure that key services are maintained insofar as possible in the health services, particularly in respect of children at risk, older people and persons with a disability. The employment control framework specifically exempts staff in the following front line grades in the health sector from the moratorium: Medical Consultants, Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Clinical Psychologists, Behaviour Therapists, Counsellors, Social Workers, and Emergency Medical Technicians. The framework actually allows for a growth in the number of those posts within the overall approved employment ceiling (111,800 whole time equivalents) for the health sector. The framework also includes provision for the creation of 225 new development posts this year for cancer, mental health and disability services. Following a submission from the Health Service Executive earlier this year, it was agreed that special provisions would also apply in relation to Clinical Engineering Technicians, Dosimetrists, Physicists, and Radiation Therapists, which are specialist grades under the National Cancer Control Programme.

The focus on these key grades is in line with existing Government policy on the prioritisation of certain development areas, for which significant funding has already been provided. The overall result will be to assist in the reorientation of health employment to services delivered in primary and community care. The HSE will focus on the scope that exists within the health services for reorganising and restructuring of work to minimise the impact on essential service delivery. The redeployment and reassignment of existing staff will also support the reorientation of care from hospitals to the community and to facilitate the development of integrated care. It is seeking a high level of flexibility from staff and unions to achieve this. The operation of the framework, including the moratorium on recruitment, is kept under review by my Department, in consultation with the Department of Finance and the Health Service Executive. As the number of vacant positions is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Joe McHugh

Ceist:

119 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of full-time and part-time positions that remain vacant in County Donegal health services due to the public sector recruitment embargo; if he will categorise these vacancies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43657/09]

The Government decision on the moratorium on recruitment, promotion, or payment of an allowance for the performance of duties at a higher grade is being implemented in the health sector in such a way as to ensure that key services are maintained insofar as possible in the health services, particularly in respect of children at risk, older people and persons with a disability. The employment control framework specifically exempts staff in the following front line grades in the health sector from the moratorium: Medical Consultants, Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Clinical Psychologists, Behaviour Therapists, Counsellors, Social Workers, and Emergency Medical Technicians. The framework actually allows for a growth in the number of those posts within the overall approved employment ceiling (111,800 whole time equivalents) for the health sector. The framework also includes provision for the creation of 225 new development posts this year for cancer, mental health and disability services. Following a submission from the Health Service Executive earlier this year, it was agreed that special provisions would also apply in relation to Clinical Engineering Technicians, Dosimetrists, Physicists, and Radiation Therapists, which are specialist grades under the National Cancer Control Programme. The focus on these key grades is in line with existing Government policy on the prioritisation of certain development areas, for which significant funding has already been provided. The overall result will be to assist in the reorientation of health employment to services delivered in primary and community care. The HSE will be focussing on the scope that exists within the health services for reorganising and restructuring of work in order to minimise the impact on essential service delivery. The redeployment and reassignment of existing staff will also support the reorientation of care from hospitals to the community and to facilitate the development of integrated care. It is seeking a high level of flexibility from staff and unions to achieve this. The operation of the framework, including the moratorium on recruitment, is kept under review by my Department, in consultation with the Department of Finance and the Health Service Executive. As the number of vacant positions in Donegal is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Medical Cards.

John McGuinness

Ceist:

120 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children the funding that is available to medical card holders who cannot obtain the drug macushield on the medical card and cannot afford to purchase it; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43663/09]

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

Hospital Procedures.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

121 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of patients who have had to access or be transferred to facilities outside here over the past five years to secure specialised surgical address of their condition due to the fact that the specialty is not available in this jurisdiction or north of the Border; the specific surgical specialties that have been accessed overseas over the same period due to the fact that they are not provided here; the explorative efforts employed to assess the potential of having some of these specialist services located here based on the potential throughput or take up by patients presenting across the whole country rather than the measurement based on two back to back populations inhabiting the same landmass; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43667/09]

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

Medical Cards.

Paul Connaughton

Ceist:

122 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an over 70 years medical card application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43671/09]

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

Jack Wall

Ceist:

123 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a medical card renewal application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; when a decision will be made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43672/09]

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

Health Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

124 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if full assessment will be undertaken regarding the ongoing treatment for a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43698/09]

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

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

125 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason for the lack of care and services for a person (details supplied) in Dublin 13. [43702/09]

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

Child Care Services.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

126 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Question No. 250 of 20 October 2009, when a reply will issue from the Health Service Executive. [43703/09]

My office is advised by the HSE that it is actively pursuing the issues raised by the Deputy and that a reply will issue as soon as possible.

Hospital Accommodation.

Olwyn Enright

Ceist:

127 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason beds are closing in hospitals serving an area (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43726/09]

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

Vaccination Programme.

Pat Breen

Ceist:

128 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will arrange, in conjunction with the Health Service Executive, for a second clinic to open in County Clare in view of the increased demand for vaccination against swine flu; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43740/09]

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

Pat Breen

Ceist:

129 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of General Practitioners in County Clare who are providing the vaccine against swine flu; the number of GPs who have not signed up to provide the vaccine; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43743/09]

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

Adoption Services.

Dan Neville

Ceist:

130 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children if, in the matter of inter country adoptions of children from Vietnam, she foresees a bilateral agreement with Vietnam and Ireland in place before he Adoption Bill is passed; if there will be a shorter waiting time for assessments; if, in agreeing to introduce agencies to assess applicants, this will result in applicants having to apply to the Health Service Executive in the first instance but as the Bill provides that such independent agencies must refer all completed assessments back to the HSE for final approvals this will result in another waiting list in the HSE; if the HSE will be asked to manage applications in a manner which will reduce waiting times; if she will introduce a grandfather clause which would allow adoptive applicants to conduct a subsequent adoption from a country they have already adopted from; if a sole applicant wishing to adopt will have the same statutory right to an assessment as married applicants in view of the fact that there is a change in the nature of family structures here ; if it will be possible to adopt children from non-Hague or non-bilateral countries in view of the fact that the Hague Convention requires member states to operate to the Hague Convention standards but does not preclude adoption from non-Hague Convention countries. [43761/09]

The Adoption Bill 2009 is designed to give force of law to the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption. The new legislation, which incorporates the provisions of the Hague Convention, is designed to provide a framework to ensure that appropriate procedures have been followed and that all adoptions are effected in the best interests of the child. Future intercountry adoption arrangements will be governed by the terms of the Adoption Bill 2009 when enacted. The issue of transitional measures for prospective parents who are at a definable stage in the adoption process when the Bill is enacted and who wish to continue to adopt a child from a non-Hague, non-bilateral country, is being examined. Prospective adoptive parents have waited a long time and it is my intention to be as flexible as possible in relation to applicants. I received the UNICEF report, Adoption from Vietnam: Problems and Challenges, which was carried out by the International Social Service on 23 November. This report will be considered by Government and it will inform decisions with regard to future adoptions from Vietnam.

In relation to the issue of assessments, I acknowledge that persons applying for inter-country adoption are currently experiencing unacceptably long delays as regards waiting times for assessment. Requests for assessment for inter-country adoption are continuously increasing and Ireland has one of the highest rates for inter-country adoption in Europe. The Health Service Executive has responsibility for the assessments of applicants for adoption through its social work service. I have asked the Health Service Executive to do everything possible to reduce waiting times and assessment times for prospective adopters which currently are excessively long. Assessment involves a number of stages and would generally include an initial assessment, a considerable level of education/preparation work, including an exploration with prospective adoptive parents of the challenges and issues that are likely to arise when undertaking adoption) and a home study assessment. The length of the assessment process can vary between applicants depending on the particular circumstances of each case, bearing in mind at all times the best interests of the child. Applicants found to be suitable to be adoptive parents are granted a Declaration of Eligibility and Suitability by the Adoption Board and may then pursue the adoption of a child abroad with the selected sending country. Steps are being taken to improve the process. Monthly information meetings are assisting prospective applicants in self-selecting if they are suitable adoptive parents and have resulted in reduced waiting lists. More significantly, they are ensuring that those applicants who are eligible and suitable are being given a more expedient service.

The Health Service Executive has also introduced a nationwide system of application to reduce the waiting lists by over 35% in the coming 12 months. Under this new system, which was introduced in Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow in September 2008, prospective applicants are invited to provide their complete pack of documentation at the point of application and these are then screened by the administration and social work teams with a view to highlighting any areas of concern as quickly as possible. This affords suitably motivated prospective applicants the opportunity to progress their application while others who are considered less suitable are fully informed before proceeding. My office is continuing to work to create the appropriate legislative, policy and administrative frameworks to ensure a well regulated regime of adoption. The aim is to support children for whom adoption services are devised and provided and, also, to protect prospective adoptive parents. As regards the issue of introducing a ‘grandfather' clause in the new legislation, this issue was previously given careful and detailed consideration in the preparation of the legislation and it was decided against including such a provision in the Bill as it would represent a considerable dilution of the intent of the legislation in terms of setting improved standards for inter-country adoption. Section 10 of the Adoption Act 1991 allows for a sole applicant to adopt a child. This provision has been carried forward in the Adoption Bill 2009.

Psychological Service.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

131 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children when a child (details supplied) in Dublin 11 will obtain a psychological assessment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43767/09]

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.

Health Services.

Billy Timmins

Ceist:

132 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the case of a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43769/09]

I understand that the Health Service Executive has responded to the Deputy following his parliamentary question of 6 October 2009 which related to the same person. The HSE has outlined the current position regarding the waiting time criteria set by the National Treatment Purchase Fund for patients on the AMNCH waiting list. If the person's condition has deteriorated significantly, he should contact his general practitioner who may decide to request the consultant to reassess the case to determine if more immediate attention is warranted.

National Treatment Purchase Fund.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

133 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the amount of money paid by her to the National Treatment Purchase Fund in 2007 and 2008; the number of procedures carried out on foot of those payments in tabular format; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43773/09]

Michael Ring

Ceist:

137 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the payments made by her to the National Treatment Purchase Fund to date in 2009; the projected final amount for 2009; the expected number of procedures to be carried out on foot of those payments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43786/09]

Michael Ring

Ceist:

138 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will confirm that moneys are owed to hospitals by the National Treatment Purchase Fund for procedures carried out at those hospitals under the scheme; the amount in question; when they are expected to be paid; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43787/09]

Michael Ring

Ceist:

139 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of procedures and the expenditure per year of procedures carried out outside the State under the National Treatment Purchase Fund in 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43788/09]

Michael Ring

Ceist:

140 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children if moneys are owed to hospitals outside the State from the National Treatment Purchase Fund for procedures carried out under that scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43789/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 133 and 137 to 140, inclusive, together.

To date, the National Treatment Purchase Fund has provided over 150,000 public patients with in-patient procedures and out-patient appointments. The median waiting time for medical and surgical patients is now 2.4 months, down from 2.5 years in 2002 and the shortest median waiting time recorded by the NTPF. The Fund envisages achieving targets for 2009 of 18,875 inpatients treated, 2,500 MRIs provided and 5,600 first time outpatient appointments arranged. At my request, the NTPF is working actively with the HSE to focus on people waiting more than 12 months for treatment. I am pleased to say that the number of such cases fell from 4,637 in December 2007 to under 971 in October 2009. The two organisations continue to work on this issue, with a view to ensuring that no person is on a waiting list for surgery for longer than 12 months. With regard to the Deputy's query concerning payment of hospitals for NTPF procedures, the NTPF agrees payment terms contractually with each hospital. Prices are negotiated in advance of treatment and include costs for the entire episode of care, including routine visits before and after surgery, medical professional fees and hospital accommodation. The NTPF is invoiced on completion of treatment and it then processes payments without undue delay. Where an institution has an issue over payments, it should contact the NTPF directly. The figures requested by the Deputy are set out in the following table:

NTPF Activity 2007-2009

Year

Allocation

Total number of patients treated

Numbers treated abroad (UK and Northern Ireland)

Cost of treatment abroad

€m

€m

2007

91.75

32,638

848 (inc. 82 UK)

3.397

2008

104.64

36,269

710 (inc. 2 UK)

2.289

2009

90.30 (€89.50 to date)

26,975 (estimated)

1,024 (Nil UK)

2.036

Medical Cards.

Paul Connaughton

Ceist:

134 Deputy Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an over 70 years medical card review in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43776/09]

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

Hospital Accommodation.

Olwyn Enright

Ceist:

135 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason patients are being transferred out of wards at a hospital (details supplied) in County Laois; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43780/09]

Olwyn Enright

Ceist:

136 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason wards at a hospital (details supplied) in County Laois are closing; the future plans for this hospital; if her attention has been drawn to the concerns amongst patients and staff at this hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43781/09]

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

Questions Nos. 137 to 140, inclusive, answered with Question No. 133.

Care of the Elderly.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

141 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the problem created by the death of final caregivers resulting in an admission to residential care without funding; the impact which this has on respite care; if she has conducted an assessment of the way the Health Service Executive handles this problem; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43795/09]

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.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

142 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has calculated the unit costs of care across different providers of residential services; if she has instructed the Health Service Executive to ensure that in imposing savings they do not equally penalise service providers who are already cost effective; and if she will seek a report from the HSE on the cost effectiveness of the proposed budgetary savings for an organisation (details supplied) in County Kildare. [43797/09]

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.

Community Care.

Tom Hayes

Ceist:

143 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Health and Children the way in which she intended homecare packages to be used for persons in the community; the services they were meant to cater for; if recommendations for allocating homecare packages and relevant criteria for individual assessment, as well as for assessing the groups providing these packages was provided to the Health Service Executive; if she is satisfied with the differences in using this funding here; if she has plans to change the way this funding is managed; her views on the fact that homecare packages are unavailable, recycled among persons, or simply subsumed into home help funding in some areas. [43815/09]

Government policy in relation to older people is to support people to live in dignity and independence in their own homes and communities for as long as possible and where this is not feasible for whatever reason, to support access to quality, long-term affordable residential care.

The Home Care Package Initiative was introduced in 2006 and rolled out by the Health Service Executive (HSE) over 2006-8. This year, the HSE will invest in the region of €120m to provide packages to some 8,700 people at any one time or around 11,500 people during the course of the year. The purpose of such packages is to provide supports over and above existing mainstream community services to help maintain older people at home and in their communities. They are targeted particularly at older people at-risk of inappropriate admission to acute hospital or long-term residential care, or those requiring discharge home from acute hospital. They were designed to be as flexible as possible to best meet the needs of each individual. These criteria were indicated to the HSE when packages were introduced and have been the basis for administering the programme since.

A recent report by the National Economic and Social Forum, entitled “Implementation of the Home Care Package Scheme” indicated that while the HSE was successful in implementing HCPs from a policy point of view, and such packages made a difference to individual recipients, further improvements could be undertaken on a more standardised approach to the planning and delivery of packages.

In accordance with both a recommendation of the Long Term Care Working Group, and a commitment under “T 2016”, the Department earlier this year commissioned an independent Evaluation of Home Care Packages. This report, by PA Consulting, was received recently in the Department and will be published in the coming days. The report will help inform future policy and service direction for services for older people generally, including improvements to be introduced in 2010 to the Home Care Package Initiative provided by the HSE.

The Department is satisfied that the funding for HCPs has been used as intended by the HSE but accepts the need for a more standardised approach to various aspects of the programme. Home Care Packages are a limited resource involving by their nature a significant Home-Help component, and the need to recycle packages to new recipients as resources allow.

The Department, and the HSE, are at present finalising the implementation of the recommendations of the PA report on Home Care Packages in 2010 including: agreeing national standardised access and operational guidelines for delivery of Home Care Packages; and the adoption and dissemination by the HSE of a voluntary code of Quality Guidelines for Home Care Support Services for Older People, which will apply to public and private providers.

Children in Care.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

144 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health and Children the number and location of all high support beds for troubled young persons; and her plans for this sector in the future. [43821/09]

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

Social Welfare Benefits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

145 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the locations in County Kildare at which community welfare officials are available to meet persons requiring supplementary welfare payments; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43898/09]

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

Health Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

146 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when orthodontic treatment will be offered to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43899/09]

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

Nursing Home Subventions.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

147 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the way a person who has made a will to bequeath their home to a non-relative five years before the enactment of the Nursing Home Bill 2009 is expected to be affected by the act; if the beneficiary is affected; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43901/09]

A will is a legal instrument which enables a person to make decisions on how their estate will be managed and distributed after their death. However, the presence of a will does not preclude a person from disposing of their estate prior to their death.

As such, a person such as that described by the Deputy can still apply for the Nursing Homes Support Scheme if they wish. If they avail of the Nursing Home Loan, this debt would be discharged from their estate prior to it being distributed to the beneficiaries of the will.

Medical Cards.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

148 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a medical card will be updated in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43902/09]

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:

149 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a medical card will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43903/09]

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

Departmental Properties.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

150 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Transport his views on a facility (details supplied) in County Mayo. [43721/09]

Michael Ring

Ceist:

154 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Transport the reason a group (details supplied) in County Mayo cannot avail of a new purpose built facility; the reason they are not allowed into the facility; the further reason for the delay; the way this matter will be resolved. [43720/09]

I propose to answer Questions Nos. 150 and 154 together.

Legal and contractual matters are in the course of being resolved in order to allow the group in question to move into the facility referred to. The party concerned has assured my Department that the outstanding issues will be dealt with in the appropriate manner as quickly as possible.

Light Rail Project.

Joe McHugh

Ceist:

151 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Transport if he will report on the progress of the DART underground project; the stage the project is at; the associated works that have been completed; when the project will be fully finished; the moneys that have been spent to date; the amount of money which will be needed on top of the €20 million to complete the project; the exact location of the DART underground project, that is the location at which it starts and it finishes in terms of trans-European transport network funding allocation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43666/09]

I refer the Deputy to my answer to Dáil question no. 284 on 24 November 2009. The table, containing the start and end location points, was contained in the application for Ten-T funding for the DART Underground project.

Start Point

Intem. Point 1

Intem. Point 2

Intem. Point 3

Intem. Point 4

Intem. Point 5

. . .

Intem. Point N

End Point

Long (X)

6 18 West

6 14 West

Lat (Y)

53 20 North

53 21 North

Issues relating to the commencement and completion dates of Transport 21 projects in planning, including matters relating to the start and end location points of the DART Underground, will in be determined by the outcome of public consultation, the statutory planning approval process, the public procurement process and the availability of financial resources determined by the funding allocation available during the current difficult economic climate.

Taxi Regulations.

David Stanton

Ceist:

152 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Transport his plans for the provision of subsidies to assist accessible taxi licence holders in upgrading their vehicles to comply with new standards which will apply from 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43696/09]

David Stanton

Ceist:

153 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Transport if the figure of 6% is correct for the number of taxis in the taxi fleet which are accessible for people with disabilities; the action he will take in order that 100% of taxis in cities will be wheelchair accessible by 2012 as per the commitment in the Programme for Government in 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43697/09]

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

The regulation of the taxi industry, including measures to improve taxi services for people with disabilities, is, in accordance with the Taxi Regulation Act 2003, a matter for the Commission on Taxi Regulation. I understand from the Commission that the total number of wheelchair accessible cabs has increased from 840 in 2000 to 1,600 at the end of 2008 (or 6% of the total fleet). In the context of the package of reform measures for the taxi industry which it recently announced, the Commission, as part of the measures to improve taxi services for people with disabilities, submitted proposals to my Department to incentivise the upgrading of the wheelchair accessible fleet. These are currently under consideration.

Question No. 154 answered with Question No. 150.

Appointments to State Boards.

Phil Hogan

Ceist:

155 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Transport when a Chairman to Dublin Port Company will be appointed; his views on whether it is inconsistent to be insisting on certain appointments to the boards of financial institutions in the interests of proper corporate governance, when a company within his remit has been without a chairman for almost twelve months; the reasons for the delay in filling this role; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43745/09]

Dublin Port Company currently has a board with seven directors and one vacancy. There is no Ministerially appointed chairman at present. However, in the absence of such a chairman, the Articles of Association provide for the board to select a chairman from among the directors. The board continues to follow all the usual corporate governance procedures. I hope to be in a position to fill the vacancy soon.

Departmental Correspondence.

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

156 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Transport his view on a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43755/09]

The individual referred to in the correspondence submitted by the Deputy wrote directly to me and I received the correspondence on the 20th November. I will respond to the correspondence in the normal manner and I will copy my reply to the Deputy for his information.

Departmental Funding.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

157 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the funding available to groups working with migrant youth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43785/09]

The funding provided by my Office is focused on bodies such as local authorities, major national sporting bodies and other groups implementing measures on a significant scale to promote integration of immigrants.

To date this year, I have approved funding of €397,000 for sporting bodies. In addition, I have approved a grant of €35,000 for HSE Community Games. I am considering other applications from sporting bodies. Obviously all of this expenditure will be for the benefit of young people and, as part of this, will also help to promote the participation of their parents in sporting and other community organisations.

The funding provided by my Office to the other organisations referred to in the first paragraph above is also available for work with migrant youth.

Tomorrow, 27 November, Pobal will, on behalf of my Office, launch calls for applications for grants from the European Fund for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals and the European Refugee Fund. Under both Funds, projects that address the specific needs of youth qualify for up to 75% financing.

Citizenship Applications.

John O'Mahony

Ceist:

158 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when a decision will be made on the application for citizenship in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [43428/09]

A valid application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in November 2006.

All valid applications are dealt with in chronological order as this is deemed to be the fairest to all applicants.The average processing time from application to decision is now at 24 months. More complicated cases can at times take more than the current average, while an element of straight forward cases can be dealt with in less than that timescale. Officials in the Citizenship Division inform me that processing of the application is at an advanced stage and the file will be submitted to me for a decision in due course.

The length of time taken to process each application should not be classified as a delay, as the length of time taken for any application to be decided is purely a function of the time taken to carry out necessary checks. There is a limit to the reduction in the processing time that can be achieved as applications for naturalisation must be processed in a way which preserves the necessary checks and balances to ensure that it is not undervalued and is only given to persons who genuinely satisfy the necessary qualifying criteria.

Crime Prevention.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

159 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will support a matter (details supplied). [43469/09]

The Government has introduced an extensive package of criminal justice legislation this year targeted at those engaged in serious crime, including the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009 by which all organised crime offences will be tried in the Special Criminal Court unless the DPP directs otherwise; the Criminal Justice (Surveillance) Act 2009, which provides a statutory framework for evidence obtained by means of covert surveillance to be used in criminal trials; and the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 which further tightens the legislative provisions relating to the use of weapons.

All of these provisions are very new pieces of legislation aimed at tackling serious crimes but I can assure the Deputy that An Garda Síochána are already actively making use of these new legislative measures.

I am sure the Deputy will understand that given the seriousness of the offences being dealt with though this range of legislation that a full and thorough investigation of individuals and their activities must be conducted before charges can be brought against them. Therefore it is too early at this stage to provide details as sought by the Deputy.

Services for People with Disabilities.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

160 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will support a matter (details supplied). [43475/09]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to his Question No. 726 of 3 November 2009. I have nothing further to add to the details of that reply.

Garda Transport.

Charles Flanagan

Ceist:

161 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if it is the case that a garda, with the permission of the chief superintendent, may drive a Garda vehicle or a private vehicle without attending a requisite training course; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43492/09]

Charles Flanagan

Ceist:

162 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if it is the case that members of the Garda Síochána are permitted to drive either garda or private vehicles on duty while not holding a current driving licence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43493/09]

Charles Flanagan

Ceist:

163 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on the use of bus lanes by gardaí in non emergency situations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43494/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 161 to 163, inclusive, together.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that members of the Garda Síochána are allowed to drive official vehicles on the authorisation of a Chief Superintendent (a) where they hold at least a class B Driving licence or, (b) where they have completed an official driving course and have been issued with a Certificate of Competency.

Section 38 of the Road Traffic Act 1961 provides for the prohibition of driving a mechanically propelled vehicle without a driving licence. Subsection (6) provides that this requirement does not apply in relation to a member of the Garda Síochána driving a mechanically propelled vehicle in the course of his or her duty.

Section 27 of the Road Traffic Act 2004 and regulations made under that Act, relating to vehicles and requirements, restrictions and prohibitions relating to the driving and use of vehicles, provide certain exemptions from the requirements of road traffic legislation for the use by a member of the Garda Síochána of a vehicle in the performance of his or her duties.

The Road Traffic (Traffic and Parking Regulations) 1997-2005 provide for the use by Gardaí of bus lanes in the course of their duty.

The report of the Garda Síochána Inspectorate on roads policing made a number of recommendations relating to Garda driving and these are being considered by the Commissioner.

International Agreements.

Joe McHugh

Ceist:

164 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on whether the Schengen Agreement should apply here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43532/09]

The Schengen Convention is an agreement among European states which allows for the abolition of systematic border controls between participating countries. It also includes provisions on common policy on the temporary entry of persons, the harmonisation of external border controls, and cross-border police and judicial co-operation.

Ireland has successfully applied to take part in the police and judicial co-operation aspects of the agreement. These provisions will come into effect only after a range of technical and legislative measures have been put in place. The measures which will enable Ireland to meet its Schengen requirements are currently being progressed.

Ireland has not, however, applied to participate in the Schengen arrangements to the extent that they deal with the abolition of border checks. This decision has been taken to maintain the common travel area (CTA) with the United Kingdom which remains a priority for Ireland. The common travel area could not continue to operate if Ireland were to remove border checks with Schengen States generally while the United Kingdom did not do so. To do so would result in a situation where the land border with Northern Ireland would become the border between the Schengen area and the United Kingdom.

Legislative Programme.

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

165 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans to review the current legislation covering maintenance orders in view of the financial impact which it is having on persons who are unemployed and unable to meet such commitments; his further plans to introduce a mechanism to allow for a re-evaluation of the rates of payment based on the ability to pay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43533/09]

I assume the Deputy is referring to provisions in the law to permit variation of an order of the court to pay maintenance to a dependent spouse or children. There are already provisions in existing law under the Family Law (Maintenance of Spouses and Children) Act 1976, the Family Law Act 1995 and the Family Law (Divorce) Act 1996 to allow a maintenance creditor or a maintenance debtor to seek variation or discharge of an order when the financial circumstances change.

Separation and maintenance agreements made between parties also normally contain provision for variation of maintenance to allow for changes in financial circumstances.

International Agreements.

Pat Breen

Ceist:

166 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when he expects to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on Human Trafficking; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43534/09]

I expect that the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings will be ratified early in 2010.

My Department is currently in the process of finalising arrangements to prepare for ratifying the Convention. Following completion of that process it will then be necessary to seek the approval of both the Government and the Dáil to ratification.

Illegal Immigrants.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

167 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding an application for permission to remain in the State in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43535/09]

I wish to inform the Deputy that the person concerned has been residing in the State without permission since 1 September, 2009 and his case will now be dealt with under section 3 of the Immigration Act, 1999. I have arranged for officials within my Department to write to the person concerned in this regard.

Garda Strength.

Joanna Tuffy

Ceist:

168 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of gardaí who have applied and been approved for the incentivised early retirement scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43653/09]

The incentivised scheme for early retirement (I.S.E.R.) announced by the Department of Finance on the 30 April 2009 does not apply where the relevant pension scheme provides for faster accrual rates of service which allow staff to retire with full pension after less than 40 years' actual service. Members of An Garda Síochána already enjoy enhanced superannuation terms where service in excess 20 years is doubled, so that 30 years actual pensionable service equates to 40 years for the calculation of superannuation benefits.

Joe McHugh

Ceist:

169 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his views on whether garda numbers in areas close to the border should reflect local population sizes across the border in view of the fact that there is free movement of persons across the border; if he will take this matter into consideration when next assigning garda officers; his views on whether rural parts of counties Louth, Monaghan, Cavan, and Donegal are close to densely populated parts of the northern jurisdiction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43669/09]

The Garda Commissioner, with his senior managers and Divisional Officers, arranges for the allocation of Garda personnel throughout the State. Garda management is aided in this by a distribution model known as the Garda Establishment Redistribution Model (GERM).

I am advised by the Commissioner that this model indicates the most effective means to distribute Garda personnel and acts as a guide to Garda management decision making. It takes into account many different policing variables, including crime trends, socio-economic factors, census information and the minimum establishment required for each District. The allocation of Garda personnel is determined by these factors and also takes account of the policing requirements of each individual Division.

Citizenship Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

170 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if applications for citizenship will be fully checked when submitted rather than waiting for up to two years after which if everything is not in order, the process must start again; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43694/09]

An initial examination of each application for a certificate of naturalisation is carried out upon receipt to determine that the application form is completed fully and correctly and that all requested supporting documentation has been submitted. A significant number of applications are initially found to be invalid for a variety of reasons and these are now being dealt with and returned to the applicant within a week. The process as operated ensures that invalid and ineligible applications are identified as early as possible in the process.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

171 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding an application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43695/09]

The person concerned claimed asylum in the State on 3/1/2007 and had his claim examined by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and the Refugee Appeals Tribunal, following which it was recommended that he should be recognised as a refugee.

Based on this recommendation, the person concerned was advised of my decision to issue him with a formal declaration of refugee status by letter dated 24/7/2008. This communication also advised the person concerned of the rights and entitlements accompanying refugee status in the State. The person concerned continues to hold the status of refugee in the State.

Garda Stations.

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

172 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans to refurbish and upgrade a premises (details supplied) in County Westmeath; his plans regarding the provision of additional accommodation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43710/09]

The programme of replacement and refurbishment of Garda accommodation is based on agreed priorities established by An Garda Síochána and progressed by the Office of Public Works, which has responsibility for the provision and maintenance of Garda accommodation.

I have been advised by the Garda authorities that there are no plans to carry out refurbishment works at the existing Garda station referred to by the Deputy. However, local Garda management have identified a potential site for a new area headquarters station. The progression of the project is dependent on available resources and overall priorities determined by the Garda authorities.

Legislative Programme.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

173 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans to introduce legislation regarding the enforcement of maintenance orders following recent legal decisions in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43718/09]

Following a judgment of the High Court earlier this year the Enforcement of Court Orders Act 2009 already amends the law contained in the Enforcement of Court Orders Act 1940 as it applies to money orders, including orders to pay maintenance. Operation of the new legislation is being monitored in my Department.

Garda Investigations.

George Lee

Ceist:

174 Deputy George Lee asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if the gardaí have investigated an incident that occurred after a licensed premises closed (details supplied) in Dublin 14; the progress of the Garda investigation; the details of the condition of the victim; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43751/09]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the area referred to is in the Rathfarnham Garda Sub-District. I am further informed that local Garda management is not aware of an incident which corresponds with the details provided by the Deputy. Any such incident reported to Gardaí would be subject to investigation.

Garda Stations.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

175 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans in respect of Santry Garda station, Dublin 9; if the station is to be retained on Shanowen Road; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43770/09]

The formulation of proposals in relation to the opening and closing of Garda stations is a matter, in the first instance, for the Garda Commissioner in the context of his annual policing plans, as provided for in section 22 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005.

I have been advised by the Garda authorities that, with the opening of the new Garda station in Ballymun in September 2008, the Divisional Headquarters has been located there. Since then Santry Garda Station continues to operate as a station in the DMR North Division and there are no plans to change the position at this time.

Garda Deployment.

Charlie O'Connor

Ceist:

176 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if additional resources will be provided to the Garda Síochána in Tallaght to ensure an effective response to a problem in an estate (details supplied) in Dublin 24; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43814/09]

The area referred to by the Deputy comes within the Tallaght Garda District and local Garda Management is aware of difficulties being experienced by residents with anti-social behaviour, including drunkenness and criminal damage and is working very closely with the Local Authority, the Health Service Executive, statutory and non-Governmental Organisations and with the local community to resolve these issues.

These difficulties have been identified by local Garda Management and personnel are briefed on a daily basis with targeted patrols being conducted in the area by uniform and plain-clothes personnel, including the District Detective and Drugs Units, the Community Policing and Mountain Bike Units, the Divisional Crime Task Force and Traffic Corps personnel. Two (2) members of the local Community Policing Unit are allocated to this specific area and continue to work closely with the community.

Citizenship Applications.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

177 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding an application for naturalisation by a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43817/09]

An application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in August 2006.

Officials in the Citizenship Division inform me that documentation was requested from the person concerned on 7 November, 2008 and again on 14 May, 2009. To date, no reply has been received. Further processing of the application will commence once the requested documentation is received.

Juvenile Offenders.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

178 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number and location on all places for remand, detention and assessment in relation to the youth justice system; the proposals for change; the location at which it is planned to provide such places in the future; the precise number concerned in respect of each of those categories. [43818/09]

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

179 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of the existing remand, detention and assessment beds which will transfer to Oberstown in view of his plans to move the Finglas child and adolescent centre; the reason no discussions on these proposals have taken place in the Labour Relations Commission; if unions representing staff in Finglas have been informed of the proposals; and the manner in which staff in Finglas will have an input into plans for the transfer of existing services. [43819/09]

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

180 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the plans for the use of the existing buildings in Finglas following the proposed transfer of services from the Finglas child and adolescent centre in 2010. [43820/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 178-180 inclusive together.

I refer the Deputy again to my response to Parliamentary Question No. 262 on 10 November, 2009.

I would just add that the four Schools have a total certified accommodation capacity of 77 beds of which 61 are currently operational. All four Schools provide both remand and committal beds and each can provide an assessment service, if requested by the courts, while a young person is on remand. There are a total of 16 remand and committal beds in the Finglas Child & Adolescent Centre with 11 of those beds occupied on Monday 23 November, 2009. I am informed by the Irish Youth Justice Service that there are sufficient surplus beds, both remand and committal, in Oberstown to accommodate children as the phased transfer from Finglas takes place.

I am also informed that discussions, facilitated by the Labour Relations Commission, commenced last Friday. Those discussions are focused on the closure of the Centre by the end of March, 2010, the transition to Oberstown, and the arrangements that need to be made. The site will then be returned to the Office of Public Works to determine its appropriate future use (as recommended by the Working Group).

Citizenship Applications.

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

181 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding an application for naturalisation by a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43834/09]

A valid application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in July 2007.

All valid applications are dealt with in chronological order as this is deemed to be the fairest to all applicants.The average processing time from application to decision is now at 24 months. More complicated cases can at times take more than the current average, while an element of straight forward cases can be dealt with in less than that timescale. Officials in the Citizenship Division of my Department inform me that processing of application is in the final stages and the file will be submitted to me for a decision in due course.

The length of time taken to process each application should not be classified as a delay, as the length of time taken for any application to be decided is purely a function of the time taken to carry out necessary checks. There is a limit to the reduction in the processing time that can be achieved as applications for naturalisation must be processed in a way which preserves the necessary checks and balances to ensure that it is not undervalued and is only given to persons who genuinely satisfy the necessary qualifying criteria.

Garda Strength.

Joanna Tuffy

Ceist:

182 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of full-time gardaí in the force at the end of 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43846/09]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the personnel strength of An Garda Síochána as at 31 December 2007, 2008 and 31 October 2009 was 13,755, 14,412 and 14,634 respectively.

Citizenship Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

183 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding citizenship in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43872/09]

Section 6A of the Act, as inserted by section 4 of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 2004 provides that a person born in the island of Ireland shall not be entitled to be an Irish citizen unless a parent of that person has, during the period of 4 years immediately preceding the person's birth, been resident in the island of Ireland for a period of not less than 3 years or periods the aggregate of which is not less than 3 years. The section does not apply to certain persons including those born to parents one of whom is at the time of the persons birth an Irish citizen, British citizen or a person entitled to reside without restriction. For the purpose of calculating reckonable residence under section 6A certain residence is excluded from consideration including unlawful residence, residence covered by a permission granted under Section 4 of the Immigration Act, 2004 for the purpose of study and residence covered by a provisional permission granted pending determination of an asylum application.

In determining if a child who has applied for a passport to the Passport Office of the Department of Foreign Affairs on the basis that they have an entitlement to Irish citizenship is entitled to a passport, the Passport Office makes an assessment of the parent's reckonable residency through an examination of their permission stamps. If the parents do not have sufficient residency and the child does not have an entitlement to citizenship, then it will be open to the parent of the child to make an application for a certificate of naturalisation on their behalf under section 15 of the 1956 Act, when the child has 5 years reckonable residency in the State.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

184 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the residency status in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43873/09]

I wish to inform the Deputy that the person concerned was granted permission to remain in the State in 2001 under the arrangements then in place for the parents of Irish citizen children. The permission granted is currently valid until April of 2010.

Deportation Orders.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

185 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason a deportation order has issued in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43874/09]

The person concerned made an application for a declaration of refugee status on 27 January 2003, including her two eldest children as dependants in her application. This application was ultimately unsuccessful, and on 30 December 2003, the person concerned was informed that the Minister was proposing to make deportation orders in respect of her, and her dependants.

The third child of the person concerned was born in the State on 11 August 2007. However, by virtue of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 2004, this child is not an Irish Citizen. An application for a declaration of refugee status was made on behalf of this child on 5 September 2007. This application was ultimately unsuccessful, and on 15 March 2008, the Minister notified the applicant that he was proposing to make a deportation order in his respect.

The fourth child of the person concerned was born in the State on 25 June 2008. However, by virtue of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 2004, this child is not an Irish Citizen. An application for a declaration of refugee status was made on behalf of this child on 28 July 2008. This application was ultimately unsuccessful, and on 13 November 2008, the Minister notified the applicant that he was proposing to make a deportation order in his respect.

The Minister made deportation orders in respect of the person concerned and her four children on 23 September 2009.

The person concerned, and her four children, instituted Judicial Review proceedings on 20 October 2009, challenging the deportation orders made in their respect. Accordingly, as this matter is sub judice, I do not propose to comment further.

Citizenship Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

186 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress of an application for citizenship in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43875/09]

A valid application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in April 2008.

All valid applications are dealt with in chronological order as this is deemed to be the fairest to all applicants.The average processing time from application to decision is now at 24 months. More complicated cases can at times take more than the current average, while an element of straight forward cases can be dealt with in less than that timescale. However, I understand that the person concerned is a refugee. In accordance with the Government's obligations under the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, every effort is made to ensure that applications from persons with refugee status are dealt with as quickly as possible. Officials in the Citizenship Division inform me that further processing of the application has commenced and the file will be submitted to me for a decision in due course.

The length of time taken to process each application should not be classified as a delay, as the length of time taken for any application to be decided is purely a function of the time taken to carry out necessary checks. There is a limit to the reduction in the processing time that can be achieved as applications for naturalisation must be processed in a way which preserves the necessary checks and balances to ensure that it is not undervalued and is only given to persons who genuinely satisfy the necessary qualifying criteria.

Refugee Status.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

187 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform how a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3 will receive a passport from their home country in view of the fact that they have not got a travel document to travel to the UK for passport renewal; if such travel will militate against their application for citizenship; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43876/09]

The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) informs me that the person in question was refused Refugee Status and is therefore not entitled to be issued with an Irish Travel Document. The person concerned was granted temporary permission on 05 June 2009 to remain in the State for one year until 05 June 2010.

In exceptional cases an application for an Irish temporary travel document may be considered. In all such cases INIS must be satisfied that there is no alternative open to the applicant before an Irish temporary travel document will issue.

An application for an Irish temporary travel document will only be considered by the Immigration Services Section in INIS on receipt of a fully completed application form. Supporting documentation accompanying any such application should include original correspondence from the relevant consular authority outlining the steps necessary to be followed by the person to facilitate the procurement of a national passport if their presence is required outside the State.

I am informed by the Immigration Services Section of INIS that the person concerned was refused an Irish temporary travel document on 17 September 2009 as the application was not accompanied with the requisite supporting documentation. The person concerned was advised to contact his own consular authority to establish the procedures for renewal of an Angolan passport for persons resident in Ireland. He was further advised to ascertain if the Angolan authorities would issue him with an emergency travel document should his presence outside of the State be necessary.

It remains open to the person in question to submit a new application accompanied with the relevant supporting documentation to the Travel Document Unit of INIS which is located at 13-14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2.

I am advised by the Citizenship Division of my Department that they have no record of having received an application for citizenship from the person concerned. Information detailing the requirements for citizenship can be found on the INIS website www.inis.gov.ie .

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

188 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding an application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43877/09]

I have been informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that the person referred to by the Deputy was contacted by them on 10th February 2009 and was given permission to remain in the country for a four month period to facilitate them in obtaining a work permit. This person currently has permission to remain in the State until 29 June 2010 in accordance with their stated activities in the State. To date no further application for residency has been received by that Division.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

189 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding an application for residency or citizenship in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath. [43878/09]

I am informed by the Immigration Division of my Department that the person concerned made an application for residence in the State based on his marriage to a French national on 17 June 2009. The legal representative for the person concerned was informed of the decision to refuse this application on 20 August 2009. The decision to refuse this application is currently under review.

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.

Citizenship Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

190 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9 will be considered for citizenship; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43879/09]

The Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended provides that the Minister may, in his absolute discretion, grant an application for a certificate of naturalisation provided certain statutory conditions are fulfilled. One such condition is that the Minister must be satisfied that the applicant is of good character. In pursuance of this condition, the Citizenship Division of my Department routinely receive reports from an Garda Síochána on each applicant.

An application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Division in January 2006 and the Minister decided to refuse the application. The person concerned was informed of this in a letter issued to him on 15 June, 2009.

There is no appeals process under the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended.

It is open to the person concerned to lodge a new application for a certificate of naturalisation if and when he is in a position to meet the statutory requirements. However, in doing so he should bear in mind the reasons for refusal of his previous application.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

191 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if long-term residency will be extended to meet an employer’s request in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43880/09]

Officials in the long term residency section of my Department inform me that there is no record of an application from the person in question.

The Deputy should note that reference number provided refers to a different person.

Deportation Orders.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

192 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding an application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 22; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43881/09]

The person concerned applied for asylum on 27 November 2007. Her application was refused following consideration of her case by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner and, on appeal, the Refugee Appeals Tribunal.

The person concerned was informed, by letter dated 6 March 2009, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of her. She was given three options in accordance with Section 3(3)(b)(ii) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended), to be exercised within 15 working days. Namely, to leave the State voluntarily, to consent to the making of a Deportation Order or to make representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why she should be allowed to remain temporarily in the State i.e. why she should not be deported.

By correspondence dated 6 April 2009, an application for Subsidiary Protection was made on behalf of the person concerned by her legal representative. Following consideration of the information submitted, the application was refused. The person concerned and her legal representative were notified of this decision by letter dated 20 May 2009.

Her 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 her behalf by her legal representative for permission to remain in the State. On 27 May 2009, I refused permission to remain temporarily in the State and instead signed a Deportation Order in respect of her.

Notice of this Order was served by registered post requiring her to ‘present' to the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB), 13-14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2. The person concerned continues to meet the presentation requirements of the Garda National Immigration Bureau (G.N.I.B.) in accordance with Section 8(1)(b) of the Immigration Act 1999, as amended. She last presented on 19th November 2009 and she is due to present again on 30th November 2009.

I am satisfied that the applications made by the person concerned for asylum and 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 her is justified.

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, and remains, an operational matter for the GNIB.

Immigration Act 1999.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

193 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the reason a request for two passport-size photographs and a copy of current passport was issued to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare in connection with consideration of their case under section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 as amended; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43882/09]

It is my Department's practice to seek to obtain the documentation referred to by the Deputy from persons whose cases are falling due for consideration under Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended). Such documentation is sought so that documentary evidence as to an individual's identity and nationality is to hand in advance of a decision being made. Where such documentation is submitted and a favourable decision is made, this can assist the subsequent registration process. The Deputy might wish to note that a favourable decision was made in the case of the person concerned.

The registration process applicable to non-national persons is founded on the provisions of Section 9(2) of the Immigration Act 2004.

Citizenship Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

194 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when eligibility for application for citizenship will be achieved in the case of persons (details supplied) in Dublin 24 in view of the fact that they have lived here since 1995 and 1996 respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43883/09]

Valid applications for certificates of naturalisation from the persons referred to in the Deputy's Question were received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in November 2006 and May 2006.

All valid applications are dealt with in chronological order as this is deemed to be the fairest to all applicants.The average processing time from application to decision is now at 24 months. More complicated cases can at times take more than the current average, while an element of straight forward cases can be dealt with in less than that timescale. Officials in the Citizenship Division inform me that processing of both applications is at an advanced stage and the files will be submitted to me for a decision in due course.

The length of time taken to process each application should not be classified as a delay, as the length of time taken for any application to be decided is purely a function of the time taken to carry out necessary checks. There is a limit to the reduction in the processing time that can be achieved as applications for naturalisation must be processed in a way which preserves the necessary checks and balances to ensure that it is not undervalued and is only given to persons who genuinely satisfy the necessary qualifying criteria.

Passport Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

195 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if a travel document renewal will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 7; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43884/09]

The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) informs me that the person in question was refused Refugee Status and is therefore not entitled to be issued with an Irish Travel Document. The person concerned was granted temporary permission on 10 January 2008 to remain in the State for three years until 10 January 2011.

In exceptional cases an application for an Irish temporary travel document may be considered. In all such cases INIS must be satisfied that there is no alternative open to the applicant before an Irish temporary travel document will issue.

An application for an Irish temporary travel document will only be considered by the Immigration Services Section in INIS on receipt of a fully completed application form. Supporting documentation accompanying any such application should include original correspondence from the relevant consular authority outlining the steps necessary to be followed by the person to facilitate the procurement of a national passport if their presence is required outside the State.

I am informed by the Immigration Services Section of INIS that the person concerned was previously facilitated on two occasions, once in May 2008 and again in February 2009, with an Irish temporary travel document primarily to allow the holder to travel for the purpose of obtaining their national passport.

The person concerned has failed to use the temporary travel document to procure their national passport despite it containing immigration stamps evidencing international travel during its period of validity.

The person concerned should be advised to contact his own consular authority to establish the procedures for procuring an Angolan passport for persons resident in Ireland. The person concerned should be further advised to ascertain if the Angolan authorities will issue him with an emergency travel document should his presence outside of the State be necessary.

It remains open to the person in question to submit a new application accompanied with the relevant supporting documentation to the Travel Document Unit of INIS which is located at 13-14 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

196 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when it will be possible to regularise the residency position in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43885/09]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 705 of 16 September 2009.

Further to the position as set out in that reply, I am informed that the person concerned registered with the Garda National Immigration Bureau in May of 2008 and currently has permission to remain in the State under Stamp 4 conditions until 24 January, 2010. I wish to inform the Deputy that a person resident in the State under Stamp 4 conditions is entitled to work without the need for a work permit and to set up a business without seeking the permission of the Minister.

The issues raised in respect of higher education grants and social welfare payments do not fall within the remit of this Department.

Asylum Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

197 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the residency status in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43886/09]

The person concerned and her infant child applied for asylum on 29 March 2007. The infant child was included in his mother's asylum application. The person concerned gave birth to another child in the State in early 2007 and this child was also included in his mother's asylum application. In accordance with Section 9 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended), the person concerned, and her children, were entitled to remain in the State until her application for asylum was decided. 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.

Arising from the refusal of her asylum application, and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was notified, by letter dated 6 March 2008, 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 Deportation Orders should not be made in respect of her and her children. 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 initiated Judicial Review Proceedings in the High Court challenging the decision of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal in her case. On 22 October 2009, the High Court refused the Judicial Review Leave Application with the consequence that the earlier decisions of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal and the Minister stood.

Subsequently, the legal representative of the person concerned was informed, by letter dated 4 November 2009, that the person concerned could submit, within 15 working days, an application for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 518 of 2006) and/or make representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why Deportation Orders should not be made in respect of her and her children.

The 15 day period referred to in my Department's letter of 4 November 2009 expires on 26 November 2009. It is open to the person concerned to make representations and/or apply for Subsidiary Protection within that period. In any event, the case of the person concerned will not be further processed until the 15 day period referred to has elapsed.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

198 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, further to Question No. 278 of 17 November 2009, if he will review the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare as reference was made to application for permission to remain in the State dated 20 June 2008 which should have read 20 June 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43887/09]

I would like to assure the Deputy that the date given in my previous reply was correct i.e. the person concerned submitted what can only be termed as an application for permission to remain in the State on the basis of his parentage of an Irish-born child on 20 June 2008. This application was essentially a copy of a similar application submitted in October 2006, some 18 months after the closing date for receipt of completed applications under the IBC/05 Scheme i.e. 31 March 2005.

In light of the fact that the information given in my earlier Reply was correct, there is no basis for any review of the case of the person concerned. Instead, the case of the person concerned will be determined as set out in the concluding paragraph of my earlier reply.

Residency Permits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

199 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position regarding an application for citizenship or residency in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43888/09]

The person concerned has been granted temporary Leave to Remain in the State for a three year period to 17 November 2012. This decision was conveyed to the person concerned by letter dated 18 November 2009.

Officials in the Citizenship Division of my Department inform me that there is no record of an application for a certificate of naturalisation having been received from the person concerned.

Deportation Orders.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

200 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he will review the decision to deport in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Louth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43889/09]

The person concerned applied for asylum on 15 August 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 17 January 2007, 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 received from the person concerned.

On 8 May 2007 the person concerned submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection in the State in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 518 of 2006). Following consideration of the information submitted, the application was refused. The person concerned and his legal representative were notified of this decision by letter dated 23 July 2009.

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 5 November 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 leave the State by 29 November 2009.

I am satisfied that the applications made by the person concerned for asylum, for temporary leave to remain in the State and for Subsidiary Protection, 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. The enforcement of the Deportation Order is an operational matter for the GNIB.

Citizenship Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

201 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in the matter of an appeal against a decision in respect of citizenship or residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43890/09]

The person concerned has been granted temporary Leave to Remain in the State for a three year period to 24 September 2010. This decision was conveyed to the person concerned by letter dated 24 September 2007 sent to the last notified address of the person concerned.

Asylum Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

202 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the status in the application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 2; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43891/09]

The person concerned applied for asylum on 17 October 2007. In accordance with Section 9 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended), the person concerned was entitled to remain in the State until his application for asylum was decided. 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.

Arising from the refusal of his asylum application, and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was notified, by letter dated 27 March 2009, 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 a Deportation Order should not be made against him. 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 application for Subsidiary Protection is refused, the position in the State of the person concerned will then be decided by reference to the provisions of 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. All representations submitted will be considered before the file is passed to me for decision. Once a decision has been made, this decision and the consequences of the decision will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

203 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the status in the application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43892/09]

The person concerned applied for asylum on 2 May 2007. In accordance with Section 9 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended), the person concerned was entitled to remain in the State until her application for asylum was decided. 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.

Arising from the refusal of her asylum application, and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was notified, by letter dated 18 September 2009, 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 a Deportation Order should not be made against her. 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 application for Subsidiary Protection is refused, the position in the State of the person concerned will then be decided by reference to the provisions of 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. All representations submitted will be considered before the file is passed to me for decision. Once a decision has been made, this decision and the consequences of the decision will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

204 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the status of 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. [43893/09]

The person concerned applied for asylum on 2 March 2009. In accordance with Section 9 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended), the person concerned was entitled to remain in the State until his application for asylum was decided. 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.

Arising from the refusal of his asylum application, and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was notified, by letter dated 19 October 2009, 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 a Deportation Order should not be made against him. 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 position in the State of the person concerned now falls to be decided by reference to the provisions of 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. Any representations submitted will be considered before the file is passed to me for decision. Once a decision has been made, this decision and the consequences of the decision will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned.

Citizenship Applications.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

205 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the position in the matter or residency status and citizenship in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43894/09]

The person to whom the Deputy refers was granted permission to remain in the State in 2001 under the arrangements then in place for the non-EEA parents of Irish citizen children. I am informed that the permission granted is currently valid until 3 May, 2010.

A valid application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in May of 2007. Officials there inform me that processing of the application is in the final stages and the file will be submitted to me for decision in due course.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

206 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if a copy of grant citizenship in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15 exists in the immigration section of his Department; if a copy will issue in view of the fact that the original was mislaid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43895/09]

A certificate of naturalisation was issued to the person referred to in the Deputy's Question in June 2003. Officials in the Citizenship Division of my Department inform me that they received a request from the person concerned to have a copy of his certificate re-issued on 28 August, 2009. The appropriate questionnaire in relation to lost certificates of naturalisation was issued to the person in question on 28 August, 2009, along with a request for further documentation. This request was re-issued on 2 October, 2009. To date, no reply has been received. On receipt of the documentation requested a statement confirming when the person concerned acquired their certificate of naturalisation will issue.

Foreign Conflicts.

Charlie O'Connor

Ceist:

207 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will report on his efforts to assist in finding a solution to the division of Cyprus; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43523/09]

Ireland takes an active interest in the successful resolution of the Cyprus problem. The United Nations has the lead role in the search for a comprehensive settlement. The Government fully supports the leadership of the UN Secretary General in this important work.

We welcomed the resumption of talks in September 2008, under the auspices of the United Nations Secretary General's Special Envoy, Mr. Alexander Downer, aimed at reaching a comprehensive settlement. So far, fifty meetings have been held between President Christofias and Mr. Mehmet Ali Talat, representing the Turkish Cypriot community in Northern Cyprus, in the current negotiating process.

We maintain close contact with the Cypriot and Turkish governments through our Embassies in Nicosia and Ankara and their Embassies in Dublin and at meetings of international organisations. I have regular contact with my Cypriot colleague, Mr Markos Kyprianou, at Council meetings in Brussels.

We will continue to encourage progress towards the achievement of the objective of a bizonal, bicommunal federal State through an honourable, balanced and durable settlement protecting and guaranteeing the basic rights of all Cypriots.

Charlie O'Connor

Ceist:

208 Deputy Charlie O’Connor asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his plans to visit the Middle East to pursue his interest in peace in that region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43524/09]

The pursuit of peace in the Middle East has been a key concern of successive Irish Governments, and an issue to which I have attached a high priority. I have made two extended visits to the region as Minister for Foreign Affairs. In July 2008 I visited Egypt, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and in February of this year I visited Syria, Lebanon and, in the Gulf, the United Arab Emirates. I also attended the Gaza reconstruction conference in Egypt in March 2009.

These visits have given me a valuable opportunity to see the problems on the ground, to discuss the situation with a wide range of actors, to hear from local leaders how they see their difficulties and opportunities, and to impress upon them our views here in Ireland and in the EU.

I intend to visit the region again to continue these discussions, but no dates for a visit have yet been established. The pace of local developments, and the availability of key interlocutors, are of course important factors.

Sports Capital Programme.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

209 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if he will support a matter (details supplied). [43476/09]

It would appear that the substance of the submission in question relates to matters that are not within the remit of my Department but are more relevant to the appropriate local authority. However, the Deputy will be aware that under the sports capital programme, which is administered by my Department, funding is allocated to sporting and community organisations at local, regional and national level throughout the country. The club in question received an allocation of €130,000 under the Programme in 2004 for floodlighting. Of the total allocation, €42,385 remains to be drawn down subject to compliance with the terms and conditions of the Programme. No application was made by the club under the Sports Capital Programme in subsequent years and no decision has been taken about the timing of future rounds of the Programme.

Community Development.

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

210 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if he will circulate the new programme as presented by the centre for effective services on community development projects; the plans if partnerships are unwilling to align with CDPs; and when the performance review of CDPs will be completed and published. [43481/09]

I refer the Deputy to Question No. 104 of 17 November 2009.

The outline of the new Programme has been circulated to stakeholders and a copy is attached to this reply. This may be subject to some minor changes.

I am committed to the new programme and to implementing it in the best possible way. My Department will engage positively and constructively with all stakeholders in this process.

AIM The Local and Community Development Programme aims to tackle poverty and social exclusion through partnership and constructive engagement between Government and people in disadvantaged communities.

Goal 1

Objectives

Outcomes

Example indicators

Example activities

Promote awareness, knowledge and uptake of a wide range of statutory, voluntary and community services

1.Raise awareness and knowledge of services in the local community

1. Increased awareness, knowledge and willingness to use services

1. Increase in awareness of services in local area Q

Joint strategy to tackle identified local issue, e.g. joy-riding

Older people’s health initiative

One stop information shops

Statutory voluntary and community services network

2. Develop and sustain strategies and mechanisms for improved access to local services

2. Increased uptake of a wide range of services within local communities

2. Increase in understanding of what local services do or provide Q and q

3. Develop and sustain strategies and mechanisms to better co-ordinate local services

3. Increased and improved joint planning and delivery between local service providers

3. Improvement in quality of joint planning q

4. Increased incidence of joint delivery Q

5. Increase in use of local services Q

Q = quantitative; q = qualitative.

AIM The Local and Community Development Programme aims to tackle poverty and social exclusion through partnership and constructive engagement between Government and people in disadvantaged communities.

Goal 2

Objectives

Outcomes

Example indicators

Example activities

Increase access to formal and informal educational, recreational and cultural activities and resources

1. Work with providers to improve access to a wide range of opportunities

1. Increased accessibility of educational, recreational and cultural activities

1. Increase in number of accessible educational, recreational and cultural activities available to local people Q

Breakfast clubs and after school projects

Intercultural groups

Community arts and recreational activities

Education fairs

2. Increase awareness and support access to opportunities for learning and development

2. Increased uptake of a wide range of educational, recreational and cultural activities

2. Increase in number of residents participating in local educational, recreational and cultural activities Q & q

3. Increase in number of new participants in local educational, recreational and cultural activities Q & q

Q = quantitative; q = qualitative.

AIM The Local and Community Development Programme aims to tackle poverty and social exclusion through partnership and constructive engagement between Government and people in disadvantaged communities.

Goal 3

Objectives

Outcomes

Example indicators

Example activities

Increase in people’s work readiness and employment prospects

1. Develop and sustain a range of services to support, prepare and assist people to enter the labour market

1. People are better prepared for the labour market

1. Increase in number of local residents attending and participating in local activities designed to improve preparation for work Q & q

One to one support

Job clubs and enterprise centres

Work experience and placements

Upskilling, training and mentoring

Local jobs fair

2. Develop and sustain strategies with local enterprises to increase local employment prospects

2. Local strategy in place to develop local employment prospects

2. Increase in numbers of new participants in activities designed to improve preparation for work Q

3. Improved employer perceptions of the employability of local people q

4. Increase in numbers of local residents feeling prepared for work Q & q

5. Increase in strategies and initiatives by local employers to enhance employment prospects Q

Q = quantitative; q = qualitative.

AIM The Local and Community Development Programme aims to tackle poverty and social exclusion through partnership and constructive engagement between Government and people in disadvantaged communities.

Goal 4

Objectives

Outcomes

Example indicators

Example activities

Promote engagement with policy, practice and decision making processes on matters affecting local communities

1. Promote dialogue between funders, providers and local communities

1. Effective structures and processes in place for dialogue between policy makers, providers and local communities

1. Increase in mechanisms promoting information sharing and dialogue effectively Q

Support for community forums

Establishing new groups around issues

Community leadership programme

Youth participation project

Debates, visiting speakers, political literacy programmes

Volunteer training

Q = quantitative; q = qualitative.

AIM The Local and Community Development Programme aims to tackle poverty and social exclusion through partnership and constructive engagement between Government and people in disadvantaged communities.

Goal 4

Objectives

Outcomes

Example indicators

Example activities

2. Develop and sustain opportunities for communities of place and interest to identify issues and voice concerns

2. Greater engagement in policy and decision making processes by the community

2. Increase in number and diversity of local people participating effectively ion local committees and other decision-making forums Q

3. Improved understanding of local community concerns and priorities by policy makers and service providers

3. Increase in perceptions of local groups and residents of greater engagement Q

4. Increase in number and range of local service providers participating in local community fora Q

5. Increase in understanding of local issues by policy makers and service providers Q

6. Increase in local people’s understanding of policy, practice and decisions making-processes q

Q = quantitative; q = qualitative.

Departmental Funding.

Joe McHugh

Ceist:

211 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if grants or financial supports are available to a group (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43495/09]

The group in question received funding under the previous LEADER programme 2000-2006 for ECDL / OCR Accreditation training. They have not applied for funding under the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013.

Rural dwellers can apply for Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 funding under the following measures:

Diversification into non-agricultural activities for farm families;

Support for business creation and development;

Encouragement of tourism activities;

Basic services for the economy and rural population;

Village renewal and development;

Conservation and upgrading of the rural heritage;

Training and information on adapted and new skills.

I would advise the group in question to contact their local Action Group — Inishowen Development Partnership at Pound St., Carndonagh, Inishowen, Co Donegal who will be able to advise them.

Joe McHugh

Ceist:

212 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the funding options available to a group (details supplied) in County Donegal who want to establish a language and cultural tourism project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43509/09]

As conveyed by my Department to the Deputy's office, further details will be required regarding the group referred to before I am able to provide the information requested by the Deputy.

Cruthú Fostaíochta.

Dinny McGinley

Ceist:

213 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Dinny McGinley den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta cad é mar a sheasann cás tionscail (sonraí tugtha); an uimhir daoine atá fostaithe sa tionscal faoi láthair; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [43520/09]

Tá sé curtha in iúl dom ag Údarás na Gaeltachta gur comhlacht neamhspleách príobháideach é an comhlacht atá i gceist ag an Teachta, a fuair cúnamh deontais ón Údarás idir 1988 agus 2009. Tuigtear dom go bhfuair an tÚdarás scéal ón gcomhlacht le déanaí go bhfuil seisear as an naonúr fostaí le ligean chun siúil ag deireadh na míosa seo mar gheall ar dheacrachtaí a bhaineann le margaí. Is trua liom an caillteanas fostaíochta seo ach tuigim ón Údarás go bhfuil iarrachtaí á ndéanamh ag an gcomhlacht gnóthaí eile dá chuid a fhorbairt d'fhonn na poist eile a choinneáil agus fostaíocht nua a chruthú thar thréimhse. Tuigtear dom freisin go bhfuil pá iomarcaíochta sa bhreis ar phá reachtúil le híoc leis na fostaithe atá le ligean chun siúil. Beidh an tÚdarás ag coinneáil súil ar dhul chun cinn an chomhlachta seo sa tréimhse amach romhainn.

Íocaíochtaí Iomarcaíochta.

Dinny McGinley

Ceist:

214 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Dinny McGinley den Aire Gnóthaí Pobail, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta an bhfuil foirmeacha iarratais iomarcaíochta ó chomhlacht (sonraí tugtha) curtha ar aghaidh chuig an Roinn chuí, an méid iar-oibrí atá i dteideal íocaíochta iomarcaíochta cé go bhfuil an tionscal dúnta le beagnach dhá bhliain; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [43521/09]

Tá sé curtha in iúl dom ag Údarás na Gaeltachta gur ceapadh glacadóir ar an gcomhlacht atá i gceist ag an Teachta i 2008. Is faoin nglacadóir atá sé déileáil le ceisteanna iomarcaíochta. Tuigim ón Údarás gur chomhlíon an glacadóir na riachtanais i gcás beirt de na hiarfhostaithe ach go bhfuil riachtanais bheirt iarfhostaí eile nach bhfuil socraithe go fóill. Tá an tÚdarás le leanúint lena iarrachtaí socruithe cuí a bheith déanta i leith na beirte seo.

Public Procurement.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

215 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs his views on whether a monopoly has been created in respect of a service (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43540/09]

The procurement of the services in question, including the specific service referred to by the Deputy, is carried out by my Department in accordance with relevant EU and national directives and guidelines, having regard in particular to the following specific obligations:

equal treatment of tenderers;

transparency in the tender procedure;

proportionality in decision;

mutual recognition of bidders from different Member States, and

non-discrimination.

As the selection process for each competition is by way of public tenders open to all competitors, the question of creating a monopoly does not arise.

Departmental Funding.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

216 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the costs incurred in completing a feasibility study (details supplied); when will the findings of this study be implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43542/09]

The study referred to by the Deputy was compiled at a cost of €72,552 (excluding VAT).

While steps to address the findings of the study are in hand on a number of fronts, the Deputy will appreciate the constraints imposed by a Question put down in ‘details supplied' format in terms of providing specific information in the matter. Accordingly, I am arranging that the relevant information be supplied directly to the Deputy.

Departmental Programmes.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

217 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if there is a future for the RAPID programmes; if their funding will be protected in budget 2010; the changes he is planning to make to RAPID in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43705/09]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

218 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the concerns among RAPID co-ordinators in Dublin (the projects funded through the RAPID programme in the south west inner city, south inner city, Ballyfermot and Lower Crumlin) regarding their funding in view of the fact that this is having a detrimental effect on their planning for 2010 and undermining their confidence to deliver on their mandate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43706/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 217 and 218 together.

The Government is committed to the RAPID Programme. This was confirmed by a Government decision taken in May 2009 and by the revised Programme for Government 2009.

As has been indicated to the House on a number of occasions, it is a matter for individual Departments to report on the provision of funding and progress on delivery with respect to projects under their responsibility in the RAPID areas. In support, Pobal collects data from each RAPID area in respect of funding allocations received by projects from Government Departments and local state agencies. The latest data in respect of the programme is available on Pobal's website under the RAPID section —http://www.pobal.ie/Funding%20Programmes/Rapid/Pages/Funding.aspx — and the Deputy may find it useful to access this information.

The 2010 budget for RAPID within my Department will be determined as part of the estimates process, which is currently underway.

I am not aware of the specific concerns to which the Deputy refers; however, I hold formal meetings with all the RAPID Coordinators as well as the Chairpersons of the RAPID Area Implementation Teams several times a year. The next such meeting is scheduled to take place in January next, and I anticipate that progress in relation to individual RAPID areas will be discussed at that meeting.

Community Projects.

Mary Upton

Ceist:

219 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs the projects funded by him to prevent under-age drinking; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43808/09]

The Deputy will appreciate that responsibility for alcohol policy lies with my colleague Deputy Mary Harney, Minister for Health and Children.

In this context, funding for alcohol prevention measures is being provided through the Dormant Accounts Fund. A list of the projects relevant to tackling underage drinking is being compiled by the Department of Health and Children and will be provided separately to the Deputy.

In the case of my own Department, the work of the Local and Regional Drugs Task Forces focuses on a range of measures that target drug misuse in their areas. These include drugs awareness and prevention projects which, in some cases, can also include underage drinking.

Money Advice and Budgeting Service.

Tom Hayes

Ceist:

220 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the length of time people are spending on the waiting list for the Money Advice and Budgeting Service in every office; the number of cases that have been dealt with by every office since the beginning of 2009; how this compares with the past three years; if there are vacancies in the service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43715/09]

The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) is the main Government funded service which provides assistance to people who are over-indebted and need help and advice in coping with debt problems. The role of money advisors is to help clients to assess their financial situation, make a budget plan and deal with creditors. The MABS is now dealing with increasingly complex debt situations in respect of clients who are presenting with multiple creditors/debts. It is important that people coping with debt difficulties take early action and approach MABS for help and guidance. This can be the first positive step for people in addressing debt difficulties.

There are 52 independent MABS companies operating the local MABS services from 65 locations throughout the country, with national support provided by the MABS NDL. In addition, the MABS National Telephone Helpline is available from 9am to 8pm Monday to Friday and the MABS website can be accessed 24 hours a day at www.mabs.ie.

In 2009, to the end of October, some 16,320 new clients approached MABS for assistance with debt difficulties. This compares with 16,600 new clients in 2008; 12,734 new clients in 2007 and 11,460 in 2006. The MABS telephone helpline commenced operation in September 2007 and in 2008 dealt with almost 11,000 callers. In the period to the end of October 2009 the helpline has dealt with some 20,800 calls.

Funding of €18 million has been provided to MABS to deliver its services in 2009. An additional 19 staff are currently being recruited which will bring the number of MABS staff to 271. Eleven new staff are already in place and the remainder will be appointed shortly.

The capacity of the LoCall telephone helpline has also been strengthened and MABS NDL, the national support company, has introduced a number of community education initiatives. For example, one initiative involves a money management education programme for people facing redundancy to inform them about managing on a reduced income and how to avoid getting into debt.

All MABS companies operate an appointment system for clients. Clients with urgent difficulties are prioritised for attention and are dealt with promptly. Less urgent cases are referred to the MABS Helpline and to the MABS website in the first instance. Over 90% of callers to the Helpline find that their money management and budgeting issues can be resolved with the assistance of the helpline advisor. Some 10% of callers are referred to the local MABS for assistance.

From first point of contact to first appointment with a money advisor the average waiting time is currently 4.5 weeks. This is the average nationally and there are fluctuations between offices. During the waiting period clients are assessed and those in need of immediate assistance are given a priority appointment, others are provided with assisted self-help to ensure that they have taken steps to assess their situation and if appropriate they are supported to take holding action with their creditors.

I am satisfied that MABS provides a high quality personal money advice and budgeting service to members of the public who may have difficulty in coping with the burden of indebtedness. The additional resources, which have been provided to the offices with the longest waiting lists, will all be in place in early December and this will assist them meet the demand for their services.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

221 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when rent support will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43904/09]

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.

It is a requirement of the rent supplement scheme that a person makes an application, on being so required by the Executive, to a housing authority to be assessed for a housing need.

The Health Service Executive has advised that the person concerned is in receipt of rent supplement for accommodation which provides for his personal needs. The Executive has further advised that the person concerned requested an increase for the purpose of seeking alternative accommodation to include accommodation in respect of his son who he has guardianship of.

The Executive has requested the person concerned to apply to his local housing authority for an assessment of his housing needs. A decision on any increase in his entitlement to rent supplement will be made on completion of the housing needs assessment.

Question No. 222 withdrawn.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

223 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive a child dependant allowance increase in their jobseeker’s benefit payment. [43474/09]

The person concerned does not qualify for a qualified child increase as his ex-spouse who is in receipt of a social welfare payment receives an increase for that child. If the position with regard to the residency of the child has changed it is open to him to contact his Local Social Welfare Office to have his case reviewed.

PRSI Refunds.

Noel Coonan

Ceist:

224 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when an application for a refund of PRSI contributions by a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary will issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43489/09]

The application for a refund of PRSI was received from the person concerned on 16 November 2009 as she paid PRSI on her full salary while in receipt of Illness Benefit payments for the years 2006, 2007 and 2008.

The Department endeavours to process applications for refunds of PRSI as soon as possible. However, as the volume of applications for refunds of PRSI has increased dramatically in recent years this has inevitably given rise to a backlog in processing refund applications. The application will be dealt with as soon as possible.

Social Welfare Appeals.

Brian O'Shea

Ceist:

225 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when an illness benefit and invalidity pension appeal hearing will be heard in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Waterford; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43512/09]

The claim for illness benefit by the person concerned was disallowed by a Deciding Officer of the Department following an examination by a Medical Assessor who expressed the opinion that she was capable of work. Her application for invalidity pension was similarly disallowed.

She appealed this decision and was examined by a second Medical Assessor who also expressed the opinion that she was capable of work.

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that, in accordance with the statutory requirements, the Department was asked for the documentation in each case and the Deciding Officers' comments on the grounds of the appeals. When received, the appeal in question will be referred to an Appeals Officer for early consideration.

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

Question No. 226 withdrawn.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

227 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the position regarding a review of jobseeker’s payment in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare. [43692/09]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that, in accordance with statutory requirements, the relevant Departmental papers and comments on the grounds of appeal in the case of the person concerned have been sought. When received, the appeal in question will be referred to an Appeals Officer for early consideration.

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

Social Welfare Benefits.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

228 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reason a person (details supplied) in County Mayo has not received jobseeker’s benefit; and the reason for the delay. [43748/09]

The person concerned applied for jobseeker's benefit on 19 October 2009. His claim was forwarded to a Social Welfare Inspector for enquiries regarding his employment record and jobseeker's benefit entitlement as a self-employed person. When enquiries are completed a decision will be made as soon as possible and he will be notified of the outcome. He is currently in receipt of a disablement pension at the weekly rate of €70.60.

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.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

229 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of persons who commenced drawing unemployment or jobseeker’s benefit in each of the months from January 2007 to date in 2009; if she will compare those numbers to the numbers drawing unemployment or jobseeker’s allowance in those months in tabular format; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43774/09]

Michael Ring

Ceist:

230 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the number of persons who ceased drawing unemployment or jobseeker’s benefit in each of the months from January 2007 to date in 2009 in tabular format; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43775/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 229 and 230 together.

The statistics requested by the Deputy are not readily available. However, I will revert to him by letter as soon as possible.

Social Welfare Appeals.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

231 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the date an appeal for carer’s allowance was received by the social welfare appeals office for a person (details supplied) in County Mayo; the reason it has taken over ten months without an oral hearing being scheduled to finalise the case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43790/09]

A carer's allowance appeal from the person concerned was opened on 07 January 2009 and I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that this case has been considered by an Appeals Officer who proposes to hold an oral hearing. The logistics in arranging an oral hearing can add at least 8 weeks to normal processing times.

There has been a 44% increase in the number of appeals received by the Social Welfare Appeals Office to 25 November 2009 when compared to the same period in 2008, which in itself was 27% greater than the numbers received in 2007. This has caused delays in the processing of appeals and, in order to be fair to all appellants, oral hearings are arranged in strict chronological order. The person concerned will be informed when arrangements have been made.

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

Departmental Funding.

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

232 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if she will provide details of the grant aid provided in each of the past three years to an organisation (details supplied) in Dublin 17; the activities for citizens in the area that have been made possible by the funding; the scale of the possible cuts in budget that have been communicated to the organisation and her assessment of the impact on service they will have; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43796/09]

The Department has supported the organisation in question over a period of many years. Funding of €410,000 was provided in 2007, €431,000 was provided in 2008, and €386,250 was provided in 2009. This funding is provided under the "Grants for the Development and Promotion of Information and Welfare Rights".

The organisation deals with requests for information, advice and assistance in a number of areas such as family law, consumer issues, wills and probate, employment, housing and Social Welfare. The total number of requests dealt with in 2007 was 2,260. In 2008 a total of 2,300 requests were handled.

In considering the allocation of funding under this scheme for 2010, the Department recently advised the Centre that an efficiency saving would be required on their current budget allocation.

Question No. 233 withdrawn.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

234 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reason the back to education allowance does not cover participants in the labour market activation programme; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that participants who start the course in receipt of jobseeker’s benefit but who subsequently move to jobseeker’s allowance at a reduced rate are faced with financial hardship, particularly where they have dependants; and if she will review the terms of the scheme. [43809/09]

The Department's back to education programme includes the back to education allowance (BTEA) and the part-time education option (PTEO). The back to education allowance is a second chance educational opportunities scheme for people on welfare payments who wish to participate in full time education and who would not otherwise be able to do so.

In a joint initiative announced earlier this year between the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment, the Department of Education and Science and the Higher Education Authority, 1,500 part-time undergraduate places and 1,000 part-time postgraduate places are being provided to people who are unemployed and on the live register for at least 6 months or have an entitlement to statutory redundancy.

A jobseeker who wishes to participate in a part-time course may do so under the Department's part-time education option (PTEO). Participants may continue to receive their existing social welfare entitlements provided they continue to satisfy all the existing terms and conditions of their jobseeker scheme including availability for work. Approval to undertake a course must be obtained in advance from the local social welfare office.

Participation in a part-time course does not attract any increase in the rate of payment or any extension of the payment period. A participant whose entitlement to jobseeker's benefit ceases during the period on the course is eligible to apply for jobseeker's allowance. Someone who qualifies for that allowance at reduced rate would have assessable means. In such a case, the combination of the assessable means and the reduced rate of jobseeker's allowance would normally exceed the rate payable to a participant who qualifies for maximum rate.

Social Welfare Appeals.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

235 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when an oral hearing will be heard regarding a disability allowance appeal for a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [43813/09]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that, following receipt of the relevant Departmental papers including comments on the grounds of appeal, the appeal from the person concerned has been referred to an Appeals Officer for consideration. As part of this consideration, the Appeals Officer will decide if an oral hearing is appropriate in this case.

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

Social Welfare Benefits.

John Deasy

Ceist:

236 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the medical criteria required for automatic entitlement to domiciliary care allowance; if this includes autistic spectrum disorder; if not, her views on the fact that this diagnosis should be included; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43848/09]

In order to qualify for Domiciliary Care Allowance a child must have a disability so severe that it requires the child needing care and attention and/or supervision substantially in excess of another child of the same age. This care and attention must be given by another person, effectively full-time so that the child can deal with the activities of daily living. The child must be likely to require this level of care and attention for at least 12 months.

Eligibility for the allowance is not based primarily on the medical or psychological condition, but on the resulting lack of function of body or mind necessitating the degree of extra care and attention required. Applications — including those for autistic spectrum disorder — are assessed on an individual basis taking account of the evidence submitted. As such it is not possible to say if a child with autism or any other intellectual disability will qualify for a payment under the scheme.

Social Welfare Appeals.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

237 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs when jobseeker’s allowance appeal will be determined in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43905/09]

The person concerned applied for jobseeker's allowance on 10 June 2009. The application was disallowed as his total weekly means were greater than the weekly rate of payment for the scheme. A notice of appeal was accepted by the Social Welfare Appeals Office in respect of the person concerned on 10 October 2009.

As part of the appeals process the local office requested an inspector to review the means assessment. The inspector has completed the review and has submitted a report to the local office. A deciding officer will prepare a submission for the appeals office as soon as possible.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

238 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the reason one parent family allowance payment has not been awarded in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; if she will review this case with a view to an early resolution; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43909/09]

The person concerned claimed one parent family payment from 21 May 2009. His claim was disallowed on 11 September 2009 as he failed to disclose his means.

He lodged an appeal on 30 September 2009 and his file was sent to an inspector for a review of his case. The inspector contacted the person concerned on 9 October 2009 and requested a P45 or a letter from his employer and bank statements. He stated that he would send the documents directly to the inspector within a matter of days. The inspector contacted him by phone again on 9 November 2009. He stated he would send in the required documents by registered post. A number of the documents required are still outstanding.

The Inspector has provided him with her mobile phone number to contact her if he has any difficulty in furnishing the details.

Social Welfare Benefits.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

239 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs the position regarding an entitlement to social welfare payment in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43910/09]

The person concerned claimed jobseeker's allowance from 17 July 2009. One of the qualifying conditions for receipt of jobseeker's allowance is that a person must be habitually resident in the state. A deciding officer decided that he is not habitually resident in the state.

The person concerned was notified of the decision on 20 November and of his right to appeal against the decision within 21 days of the notification.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

240 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social and Family Affairs if and when one parent family allowance will be awarded in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43911/09]

There is no record in the Department of a claim for One Parent Family Payment or any other Social Welfare payment from the person concerned.

The person concerned should contact the Social Welfare Local Office, Kennedy House, Kennedy Street, Navan, Co. Meath (Tel: 046 9077010) as soon as possible.

Departmental Expenditure.

Phil Hogan

Ceist:

241 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Defence the amount that has been spent on establishing the office of emergency planning; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43731/09]

The Office of Emergency Planning was established, following a Government decision in October 2001, as a joint civil and military Office within my Department. The Office supports the work of the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning, which I chair, and continues to work with Government departments and agencies to ensure effective coordination, the sharing of information and the best possible use of resources. There is no specific budgetary allocation for the Office of Emergency Planning as the funding for the Office is included in the Defence Vote.

Departmental Offices.

Phil Hogan

Ceist:

242 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Defence the number of times the emergency centre of the office of emergency planning has been used since its establishment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43732/09]

The National Emergency Coordination Centre has been used on an ongoing basis since it was established in mid 2007. The Centre is available to all government departments and agencies for use in emergency planning and response. It is the venue for meetings of the Governmental Task Force on Emergency Planning, the Interdepartmental Working Group on Emergency Planning and the National Steering Group for the implementation of the Framework for Major Emergency Management. During the pork crisis in December 2008, the Centre was used by the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Food as a Call Centre. The Centre was activated at the request of the Department of the Environment Heritage and Local Government as the current flooding crisis developed and it has been in daily use over the past week as the venue for meetings of the National Response Coordination Committee on Flooding. It has also been used by a wide range of departments and agencies to hold training courses and exercises.

Flood Relief.

Phil Hogan

Ceist:

243 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Defence if the Office of Emergency Planning had a role in the response to the widespread flooding here which caused damage and disruption across cities and rural areas; if so, the nature of their response and role; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43733/09]

The Office of Emergency Planning was established as a joint civil and military office within the Department of Defence. The Office supports the work of the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning, which is chaired by the Minister for Defence and it works with other departments and agencies to ensure effective coordination and the best possible use of resources. A key area of activity for the Office is the oversight of emergency planning across government departments in order to refine and develop the arrangements that exist. As part of that process the Office developed a ‘Roles and Responsibilities' document, which was submitted to Government in December, 2008. This document sets out the lead department, and the departments and agencies that will be required to provide support, in more than forty emergency scenarios.

As outlined in the ‘Roles and Responsibilities' document, the Department of the Environment Heritage and Local Government has the lead role in coordinating the national level response to the widespread flooding that has occurred. That Department has chaired meetings of the National Response Coordination Committee on Flooding, which is comprised of those departments and agencies that have a supporting role in the response. The Office of Emergency Planning is a member of that Committee.

The Office of Emergency Planning is responsible for the management of the National Emergency Coordination Centre. The Centre was activated, at the request of the lead department, as the flooding crisis developed. It has been in daily use since 20 November as the venue for meetings of the National Response Coordination Committee on Flooding. Also, the Office manages the website emergencyplanning.ie which contains advice and guidance on flooding issues.

Phil Hogan

Ceist:

244 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Defence how the Defence Forces were involved in flood relief operations in November 2009; the person who officially requested assistance from the Defence Forces in each area; if the Defence Forces have adequate supplies and resources to prepare for widespread flooding and to deal with flooded areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43734/09]

Emergency planning in this country is developed on the ‘lead department' principle. This means that each department is responsible for planning for emergencies that fall within its area of responsibility. The Framework for Major Emergency Management is the document that sets out a structure enabling the Principal Response Agencies (An Garda Síochána, the Health Service Executive and Local Authorities) to prepare for, and make a coordinated response to, major emergencies resulting from events such as severe weather. In an effort to alleviate the problems caused by the recent flooding around the country, the Defence Forces have assisted an Garda Síochána, in their role of Aid to the Civil Power and have assisted local authorities and the HSE in their role of Aid to the Civil Authority.

Requests for aid to the civil power are normally made by a member of an Garda Síochána not below the rank of Inspector. Requests for assistance to local authorities were received from county engineers and directors of services. Requests for assistance from the HSE were received from Chief Emergency Management Officers. Approximately 150 Defence Forces personnel have been deployed in the field 24/7 with approximately 600 personnel involved in rotations and additional stand-by personnel. Stand-by personnel are at one and two hours notice to move. All Brigades, DFTC, the Naval Service and the Air Corps are contributing to the relief effort.

A very wide range of assets have been deployed including boats, troop carrying vehicles, high clearance vehicles, 4×4s, and Heavy Drops (Dropping container loads of water at various locations). They are also providing pumping facilities and have two water purification plants on stand-by. The LE Orla is deployed in Cork providing communications and back-up support and also Rigid Boats. The Naval Service is also providing back-up to Army Engineers and providing pumping capacity. The Air Corps has provided aerial reconnaissance support to local authorities and air transport. They remain on stand-by, for reconnaissance, transport, rescue and recovery tasks. The Office of Emergency Planning is providing support to the interdepartmental group and the National Emergency Coordination Centre has been active throughout the crisis.

Civil Defence, which comes under the aegis of my Department, has also been fully engaged in supporting the emergency services in accordance with their roles and capabilities under the Emergency Management Framework. Major activities include evacuation, transport, rescue, pumping, sandbagging, transport, welfare and manning of control centres. The major Defence Forces commitments were as follows:

The main locations where the Defence Forces have provided assistance include Cork City, Limerick (Shannon Banks), Ennis, Ballinasloe, Athlone and now Athy. Assistance has also been provided in Bantry, Carlow, Clonakilty, Clonmel, Kilkenny and Longford. The main effort was in Cork City where there are in excess of 200 Defence Forces personnel deployed giving assistance to the local authority with engineer support (Lee Fields pumping station), support to the local population with distribution of drinking and sanitation water to approx 22 locations on the North side of the City, assistance to the HSE (Mercy Hospital) and sandbagging duty. They also deployed portable lighting.

The Naval Service provided engineer support in the form of engineer teams with water pumps. The LE Orla is providing back up assistance incl communications and catering. RIBs are being provided to support river search. The Defence Forces responded to requests for assistance from Roscommon County Council to evacuate civilian personnel due to flooding from the Shannon in the Athlone area (Clonbunny, Clanowen and Carrick O'Brien). The Defence Forces have the following resources committed (either deployed or on stand-by for deployment) to providing assistance: 600 personnel, 77 trucks and specialist vehicles, 4 water pumps, 6 RIBs or boats, 1 Naval Ship, 1 helicopter, 50,000 sandbags. The Air Corps provided assistance to the civilian authorities in the form of inspection by air of badly affected areas.

While support was concentrated in the South and the West, being the areas worst affected by the floods, the Defence Forces also provided assistance to the civil authorities in parts of Leinster. The Defence Forces have met all demands placed on them in response to the current flooding crisis. As in all cases of services that the Defence Forces can provide in emergency support, the services are demand-led and provided on an "as available basis", having regard to both current and contingent Defence Forces operational commitments. The capacity of the Defence Forces to assist the authorities in dealing with major emergencies is kept under constant review.

The work of the Taskforce on Emergency planning in providing support for improved emergency planning and response across the whole of Government has been a key enabler in ensuring that we have appropriate arrangements in place to respond to major disasters like we are witnessing today. As Chair of the Taskforce on Emergency Planning, I would like to take this opportunity to thank and congratulate the Defence Forces, Civil Defence, all the emergency services, Departments, agencies and volunteers who responded magnificently and who have contributed so extensively to tackling this major emergency which has wreaked devastation on so many communities in the South and West of the Country.

Phil Hogan

Ceist:

245 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Defence if the Defence Force have an action plan in place to deal with various functions as a result of front line public service industrial action; if the Defence Force will manage multiple emergencies across the front line services if such a situation develops; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43735/09]

The Government's White Paper on Defence (February 2000) sets out the roles the Defence Forces might play in the provision of support and services in Aid to the Civil Power (meaning in practice to assist, when requested, an Garda Síochána), and the provision of assistance to the Civil Authorities for a range of emergency situations. Many of the services that the Defence Forces can provide in emergency support services are demand-led and provided on an "as available basis", having regard to both current and contingent Defence Forces operational commitments. The capacity of the Defence Forces to assist these authorities in dealing with major emergencies is kept under constant review. The Defence Forces strive to ensure the responsiveness and effectiveness of the services through close cooperation and coordination on an ongoing basis. Plans and procedures are updated as necessary. Training and preparation for such events is also provided for in the Defence Forces Annual Training Plan.

Departmental Bodies.

Jimmy Deenihan

Ceist:

246 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Defence the number of times the inter-departmental working group on emergency planning task force met to date in 2009; the contingencies regarding cover for essential services in the event of public service strikes; if additional planning had been put in place to cover essential services on 24 November 2009; the additional training that has taken place in preparation for threatened further public service strikes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43822/09]

Jimmy Deenihan

Ceist:

248 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Defence the number of meetings attended by him in his role as chairman of the Government task force on emergency planning to date in 2009; the number of meetings chaired by him as head of the Government task force on emergency planning in September, October and November 2009; if other members of the Government attended these meetings for the period September to November 2009; the members of the Government that attended these meetings; the frequency of their attendance in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43824/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 246 and 248 together.

The Inter-Departmental Working Group on Emergency Planning (IDWG) has met on two occasions to date in 2009. The role of the Group is to support the work of the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning. It is chaired by the Office of Emergency Planning and is a forum for developing strategic guidance for all those involved in emergency planning. Business Continuity Planning is an issue that has been raised at the IDWG on a number of occasions during the year and it has been discussed with each department during the annual emergency planning oversight process. Business Continuity Planning is a process that identifies potential threats to an organization and provides for prevention and mitigation measures to minimize disruption to essential services. All government departments have assured the Office of Emergency Planning that they have Business Continuity Plans in place or are at an advanced stage in their development.

Also, in May of this year, the Office of Emergency Planning hosted a workshop on business continuity planning. The workshop was attended by a wide range of departments and agencies and was facilitated by the Dublin City Council's Risk Management Unit. Three meetings of the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning have been held in 2009 to date. The meetings were in January, April, and the most recent meeting was held on 30 September. I chaired the January and April meetings of the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning. The September meeting coincided with a Government meeting. The meeting included comprehensive presentations on the pandemic influenza situation from the Health Service Executive and from an international public health expert. I was briefed on these after the Government meeting.

Defence Forces Property.

Jimmy Deenihan

Ceist:

247 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Defence the number of military installations owned by the State or the Defence Force; the number of military installations operable; the number of closed military installations in State ownership; the annual maintenance costs associated with closed military installations in State ownership for the years 2004 to date in 2009; the security costs associated with closed military installations in State ownership for the years 2004 to date in 2009; the amount of lands in State ownership for defence or Defence Force use; if an assessment has been carried out as to the need for all the lands in State ownership for defence or Defence Force uses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43823/09]

The Defence property portfolio consists of a diverse range of facilities from conventional military barracks to forts, camps, dwelling houses and training lands. The principal assets are 23 permanently occupied barracks. The Department also owns 26 premises that are used by the Reserve Defence Forces. A further 51 properties are rented for use by the Reserve. The property portfolio also includes a total of 150 married quarters that are mainly located within the Curragh Camp. The policy is that these should be phased out in a managed and orderly way.

The land included in the property portfolio amounts to approximately 20,000 acres, predominantly located at the Curragh, the Glen of Imaal and Kilworth Camp, and is used for military training. Details of all properties owned or rented by the Department are contained in the attached tabular statement. The modernisation process in Defence identified that the dispersal of personnel over an extended number of locations is a major impediment to essential collective training and imposes increased and unnecessary overheads on the Defence Forces in terms of barrack management, administration, maintenance and security. The consolidation of the Defence Forces formations into a smaller number of locations is a key objective of the White Paper on Defence.

The Department and the Defence Forces continually review Defence Forces requirements in relation to barracks, infrastructure and other military installations. A total of ten barracks have been closed over the past 10 years. The security costs associated with closed military installations is as follows:

Nil

€123

€43,625

€183,248

€183,839

€12,874

In respect of maintenance costs my Department does not differentiate between the costs of closed military installations and lands occupied by the Military. As a result it is not possible to give figures for the cost of maintaining closed military installations from 2004 to 2009.

A comprehensive VFM review of military training lands and firing ranges is due to be concluded shortly. I understand that the consultants report will identify opportunities for further consolidation and rationalisation of training land requirements, while pointing to additional requirements in some areas. The report of the consultants will inform the future development of defence training lands and range infrastructure. As is the case in other areas of the defence portfolio, those lands that are surplus to requirements will be disposed of for the benefit of the Defence Forces.

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENCE — Property Portfolio

Permanently Occupied Posts

County

Location

Name

Acreage

Brigade

1

Cavan

Cavan Town

Dún Uí Néill

16.25

Western

2

Cork

Cork City

Collins

59.80

Southern

3

Cork

Haulbowline

Naval Base

84.00

Southern

4

Donegal

Ballyshannon

Finner Camp

840.00

Western

5

Dublin

Arbour Hill

St Bricins

3.00

Eastern

6

Dublin

Baldonnel

Casement Aerodrome

685.00

Eastern

7

Dublin

Blackhorse Ave

McKee Barracks

45.00

Eastern

8

Dublin

Rathmines

Cathal Brugha

46.00

Eastern

9

Galway

Renmore

Dún Uí Mhaoilíosa

74.00

Western

10

Kilkenny

Kilkenny City

Stephen’s Barracks

14.00

Southern

11

Kildare

Curragh

Ceannt Barracks

Curragh

12

Kildare

Curragh

Clarke Barracks

Curragh

13

Kildare

Curragh

Connolly Barracks

Curragh

14

Kildare

Curragh

McDermott Barracks

Curragh

15

Kildare

Curragh

McDonagh Barracks

Curragh

16

Kildare

Curragh

Pearse Barracks

Curragh

17

Kildare

Curragh

Plunkett Barracks

Curragh

18

Limerick

Limerick City

Sarsfield Barracks

14.80

Southern

19

Louth

Dundalk

Aiken Barracks

18.00

Eastern

20

Meath

Gormanston

Gormanston Camp

261.00

Eastern

21

Tipperary

Clonmel

Kickham Barracks

11.00

Southern

22

Westmeath

Athlone

Custume Barracks

13.00

Western

23

Westmeath

Mullingar

Columb Barracks

23.75

Western

Reserve Defence Force Premises — Owned

County

Location

Acreage

Brigade

1

Carlow

Mhuine Beag

0.44

Southern

2

Cork

Fermoy

13.50

Southern

3

Mallow

0.07

Southern

4

Skibbereen

0.50

Southern

5

Youghal

0.11

Southern

6

Donegal

Milford

0.50

Western

Mullins Donegal Town

Western

7

Galway

Ballinasloe

0.50

Western

8

Clifden

0.04

Western

9

Gort

0.20

Western

10

Loughrea

0.23

Western

11

Kerry

Killorglin

0.25

Southern

12

Listowel

0.22

Southern

13

Laois

Portlaoise

0.07

Southern

14

Leitrim

Manorhamilton

0.25

Western

15

Longford

Longford Town

Western

16

Louth

Drogheda

0.40

Eastern

17

Mayo

Westport

0.50

Western

18

Meath

Kells

0.25

Eastern

19

Navan

0.50

Eastern

20

Roscommon

Roscommon town

0.80

Western

21

Tipperary

Thurles

0.19

Southern

22

Tipperary

Templemore McCann Barracks (part)

0.39

Southern

23

Waterford

Dungarvan

0.10

Southern

24

Waterford City

Military Barracks

0.80

Southern

25

Wexford Town

Military Barracks

1.00

Southern

26

Wicklow

Murrough

0.23

Eastern

Reserve Defence Forces — Rented Property

County

Name

Location

F/T or P/T

Brigade

1

Carlow

Community Hall

Borris

P/T

Eastern

2

St. John’s community Centre

Hacketstown

P/T

Eastern

3

St. Patrick’s GAA

Tullow

P/T

Eastern

4

Clare

Community Centre

Doonaha

P/T

Southern

5

Community Centre

Milltown Malbay

P/T

Southern

6

Cork

Town Hall

Bandon

P/T

Southern

7

Parochial Hall

Bantry

P/T

Southern

8

Beara Sports Hall

Castletownbere

P/T

Southern

9

Community Hall

Charleville

P/T

Southern

10

Industrial Hall

Clonakilty

P/T

11

St. Patrick’s Hall

Dunmanway

P/T

Southern

12

Parish Hall

Kilworth

P/T

Southern

13

Millstreet GAA

Millstreet

P/T

Southern

14

Donegal

St. Finian’s Hall, Station Rd

Falcarragh

P/T

Western

15

Moville Road

Carndonagh

F/T

Western

16

Community Hall, Massinass

Creeslough

P/T

Western

17

Galway

Community Centre

Glenamaddy

P/T

Western

18

Headford College

Headford

P/T

Western

19

Parochial House

Carraroe

P/T

Western

20

Community Centre

Oughterard

P/T

Western

21

Kilkenny

Dunamaggin

P/T

Southern

22

Leitrim

Mayflower Ballroom

Glenfarne

P/T

Western

23

Community Hall

Carrawallen

P/T

24

Drumsna

F/T

25

Limerick

Community Hall

Abbeyfeale

P/T

Southern

26

Community Centre

Boher

P/T

Southern

27

Town Hall

Hospital

P/T

Southern

28

Community Centre

Pallaskenry

P/T

Southern

29

Community Centre

Rathkeale

P/T

Southern

30

Community Centre

Pallas Green

P/T

Southern

31

Parochial Hall

Kilmallock

P/T

Southern

32

Mayo

Community Centre

Roundfort Hollymount

P/T

Western

33

Town Hall

Claremorris

P/T

Western

34

Community Centre

Swinford

P/T

35

Bohernasup

Ballina

P/T

Western

36

Meath

Community Centre

Oldcastle

P/T

Eastern

37

Scoil Mhuire

Trim

P/T

Eastern

38

Monaghan

7 Main street

Carrickmacross

F/T

Eastern

39

Monaghan GAA

Monaghan Town

P/T

40

Offaly

St. Mary’s Hall

Ferbane

P/T

Eastern

41

Kilcruttin Business Park

Tullamore

F/T

Eastern

42

Sligo

Unit 12 B, Business Park

Cleveragh

F/T

Western

43

Community Centre

Tobercurry

P/T

Western

44

Tipperary

St. Patrick’s Hall

Ballymacarbry

P/T

Southern

45

Waterford

Community Hall

Villierstown

P/T

Southern

46

Wexford

St. Aidan’s Hall

Bunclody

P/T

Eastern

47

Community Hall

Cortnacuddy

P/T

Eastern

48

Community Hall

Cushinstown

P/T

Eastern

49

Scout Hall

Gorey

P/T

Eastern

50

Wicklow

Parochial Hall

Tinahely

P/T

Eastern

51

Community College

Arklow

P/T

Eastern

Training Facilities — Owned

County

Location

Name

Acreage

Brigade

1

Clare

Lahinch

Lahinch Camp

5.19

Southern

2

Cork

Bere Island

Bere Island

176.5

Southern

3

Kilworth

Kilworth

3352

Southern

4

Whitegate

Fort Davis

74

Southern

Kildare

Curragh

Curragh lands

4780

Curragh

5

Kerry

Tralee

Ballymullen

15

Southern

6

Wicklow

Glen of Imaal

Coolmooney Camp

241

Curragh

7

Glen of Imaal

Artillery Range

6617

Curragh

8

Kilbride

Camp and Range

1574

Eastern

Firing Ranges — Owned

County

Location

Name

Acreage

Brigade

1

Galway

Oranmore

534

Western

2

Louth

Dundalk

Red Barns

13.5

Eastern

3

Roscommon

Carna

283

Western

4

Cushla

139

Western

5

Tipperary

Kilcoran

13.5

Southern

6

Templemore

Barnane

10

Southern

7

Wicklow

Bray

Kilpeddar

98

Eastern

Other Property — Owned

County

Location

Name

Acreage

Brigade

1

Cork

Beal na Blath

Collins Memorial Plot

0.01

Southern

2

Whitegate

Curtain’s Well

0.25

Southern

3

Dublin

Collins Barracks

Esplanade

0.5

Eastern

4

Islandbridge

Army Boat Club

1

Eastern

5

Kildare

Blackrath

Leased Out

35.5

Curragh

7

Roscommon

Boyle

Military Barracks

0.5

Western

8

Westmeath

Athlone

Garynafeala Lands

14.75

Western

9

Wicklow

Seskin

Range Warden’s Post

1

Curragh

Question No. 248 answered with Question No. 246.

Flood Relief.

Pat Breen

Ceist:

249 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if, in view of the recent flooding in County Clare he will provide emergency funding to the town councils in Ennis and Kilrush and to Clare County Council to facilitate remedial works and to compensate families whose homes were flooded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43467/09]

My Department will shortly ask the local authorities for reports on the consequences of the flooding and an assessment of the remedial works required. The reports, when received, will form part of the consideration of funding allocations for 2010. I will circulate these reports to other Government Departments and Agencies for consideration and any action which may be needed to address the matters raised for which they have responsibility.

I am conscious that in addition to the trauma caused by the flooding, people also suffer financial loss arising from the damage caused to their property. The supplementary welfare allowance scheme, which is administered by the Community Welfare Division of the Health Service Executive on behalf of the Department of Social and Family Affairs, is designed to provide immediate and flexible assistance for those in need who do not qualify for payment under other State schemes. The Government has announced the provision of €10 million for emergency flood relief to be administered by the Department of Social and Family Affairs and €2 million for the agricultural sector.

Housing Developments.

Joe McHugh

Ceist:

250 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will publish periodical lists of unfinished private housing developments; his views on the fact that many estates here have been left unfinished by developers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43526/09]

The recently published Fifth Annual Report on Service Indicators in Local Authorities 2008 includes a new indicator in relation to the taking in charge of estates. The indicator includes information on the number of residential estates for which the planning permission has expired, in respect of which formal written requests for taking in charge were on hands at the beginning of the year in question; the number of estates that were taken in charge in the year in question; and the number of estates in respect of which enforcement action was taken.

The 2008 Report, published by the Local Government Management Services Board and available to download at www.lgmsb.ie identifies that there were 1,062 requests on hand for taking in charge of estates at the start of 2008. Of this number, 364 estates were not completed to the satisfaction of the planning authority in line with the planning permission. In the case of 73 estates, the bond was called in and in the case of 21 estates, works were undertaken by the authority to bring the estate to taking in charge standard. In total, 316 estates were taken in charge in 2008.

The developer of a residential estate is statutorily required to complete this development in accordance with the terms of the planning permission. A development which has not been completed in accordance with the planning permission is unauthorised development. Enforcement of planning control is a matter for the planning authority, which has substantial enforcement powers under the Planning Act.

Section 180 of the Planning Act provides that where estates have not been completed to the satisfaction of the planning authority and enforcement proceedings have not been commenced within the relevant period, the planning authority must, if requested to do so by the majority of the residents of the estate, initiate the procedures for taking the estate in charge. The decision as to whether to take the estate in charge is ultimately one for the discretion of the elected members.

Local Authority Funding.

Joe McHugh

Ceist:

251 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the outstanding development charges owed to each Irish local authority including city councils, county councils, town councils, and urban district councils in tabular format; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43527/09]

I refer to the reply to Question No. 378 of 10 November 2009. The position is unchanged.

Staffing Levels.

Joe McHugh

Ceist:

252 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of full time and part time positions in his Department and in County Donegal County Council that are temporarily and permanently vacant due to the public sector recruitment embargo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43659/09]

By the end of 2009 my Department will have approximately 150 fewer staff than in January 2009. This is arising from the moratorium on recruitment and the uptake of the Incentivised Career Break and Incentivised Early Retirement Schemes. In the context of the current Government policy on public sector staffing numbers, my Department is engaging with the Department of Finance in order to agree a revised staffing complement for this Department.

In regard to the Local Authorities, my Department has a delegated sanction from the Department of Finance for implementation of the general moratorium on the filling of public sector posts in the Local Authority Sector, on the condition that the overall staffing levels in the local authority sector are to be reduced significantly by the end of 2010 in adherence with the Government's Policy on Staffing and Numbers in the Public Sector. Under the new arrangements which issued to the local authority sector on 20 August 2009, Local Authorities are expected, where vacancies arise, to consider options for reorganisation and reallocation of work to meet requirements. Any exceptions to this principle, which will arise in very limited circumstances, require sanction from my Department. The number of local authority positions that have become temporarily and permanently vacant in the local authority sector is not held by my Department.

Departmental Advertising.

Phil Hogan

Ceist:

253 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the number of media campaigns which involved broadcast, print and any other media, undertaken by his Department in 2009; the allocated cost of each campaign; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43660/09]

My Department carries out a number of media campaigns relevant to its remit, in order to promote awareness and behaviour change or to provide information. Details of media campaigns undertaken in 2009 along with the associated costs are set out in the following table. In addition to such campaigns, my Department routinely advertises in newspapers and on radio for various statutory purposes and for public information, for example, notification in regard to Special Protection Areas and the Register of Electors.

Advertising Campaign

Cost (including VAT)

National Climate Change Awareness Campaign

2,362,000

Non-Principal Private Residences Charge

44,400

National Biodiversity Week 2009

4,800

Fire Safety Promotion Media Campaign

637,000

Phil Hogan

Ceist:

254 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the reason for a broadcast media campaign for the raising of awareness of special designation areas along coastal areas in view of the fact that all affected landowners were contacted directly; the person who drafted and approved the text of the broadcast advert; the cost of the campaign; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43661/09]

Radio and newspaper advertisements were recently placed to notify the public of the proposed designation of seven Special Protection Areas in coastal areas of County Dublin. In addition, affected landowners that were readily identifiable were notified directly. This approach is the standard procedure when any candidate Special Area of Conservation, Special Protection Area or Natural Heritage Area is proposed for designation, and is a statutory requirement under the European Communities (Natural Habitats) Regulations, 1997, and the Wildlife (Amendment) Act, 2000. It serves to ensure that as many landowners as possible, along with other potentially affected parties, are fully informed of the Minister's intentions and the implications of the proposed designation.

The format of the advertisement is standardised but adapted to the specifics of the sites in question. Content is drafted by my Department and agreed by me as part of my approval of the proposed designations. Every effort is made to minimise the costs involved, and this is achieved by grouping designations for the purposes of advertising. In this case, the cost of the broadcast advertising was just under €23,000 for these seven sites.

Building Regulations.

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

255 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will respond to a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43665/09]

Since 1 June 1992, all new, extended or materially altered buildings, including those which have timber frame structures, must be built in compliance with the requirements of the national Building Regulations. Primary responsibility for compliance with the requirements of the Building Regulations rests with the designers, builders and owners of buildings. Implementation and enforcement of the building control system is a matter for the local building control authority. My Department has no function in assessing, checking or testing compliance, or otherwise, of specific works or developments.

An Irish standard for Timber Frame Dwellings, I.S 440, was published in June 2009 by the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) which specifies the requirements for timber frame construction for dwelling houses and apartment blocks. It specifies all the requirements which must be adhered to for materials, design, manufacture, construction details, site work and quality control. The Technical Guidance Document to Part A of the Building Regulations will be revised to refer to IS 440, as part of an overall review of Part A in 2010. Where works are carried out in accordance with this guidance, this will, prima facie, indicate compliance with the Regulations.

Housing Grants.

Seán Connick

Ceist:

256 Deputy Seán Connick asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding an application for funding under the capital assistance scheme for voluntary housing associations from an organisation (details supplied) in County Wexford; when a decision on this application will be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43707/09]

An application for funding under my Department's Capital Assistance Scheme for voluntary and co-operative housing was received from the organisation in question on the 20th November 2009. The application will be considered in the light of, inter alia, the estimates provision for new projects in 2010 and the relative priority afforded to the project by Wexford County Council.

Tom Hayes

Ceist:

257 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if funding has been released to local authorities to pay for disabled persons grants in 2010; the amount of funding; if this will be sufficient to cover the backlog of these approved cases. [43716/09]

Allocations totalling €79.562 million for 2009 were notified to local authorities under the Housing Adaptation Grant Scheme for Older People and People with a Disability, the Mobility Aids Grant Scheme and the older Disabled Persons and Essential Repairs Grant Schemes on 7 May 2009. Having regard to the continued priority which the Government attaches to these schemes and following an evaluation of the ongoing level of demand for grants, the level of expenditure to date and the capacity of local authorities to process and approve additional applications in the current year, I approved a supplementary allocation of approximately €12.5 million to some 26 local authorities on 12 October, 2009. Next year's allocations to local authorities will be determined in the context of, inter alia, the overall level of demand under the suite of Grants for Older People and People with a Disability and estimates provision for these grants in 2010.

Water and Sewerage Schemes.

Joe McHugh

Ceist:

258 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will report on a sewerage treatment plant (details supplied) in County Donegal; the towns and villages that dispose of waste at this sewerage treatment plant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43724/09]

The management of the Letterkenny waste water treatment plant is a matter for Donegal County Council under the direction and supervision of the Environmental Protection Agency. I have no direct function in the matter.

Environmental Policy.

Deirdre Clune

Ceist:

259 Deputy Deirdre Clune asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans to address the problem of poster ties being left on poles when posters have been removed after elections and referenda; his views on the problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43752/09]

I am aware of the problem caused by the non-removal of cable ties following elections and referenda. My Department held a public consultation in autumn 2008 regarding the control of postering for elections and referenda. There were 117 submissions made, containing a variety of recommendations, including measures to tackle the cable tie issue. On foot of this consultation, a number of local authorities pilot — tested several of the recommendations during the local and European elections this year, in order to assess the practical issues involved with their implementation.

Following on from this, a number of measures which could address the non-removal of cable ties are now being actively considered by my Department, including the colour coding of cable ties, the use of biodegradable cable ties and a requirement to have the names of candidates printed on the cable ties. The outcome of this assessment will inform any future policy development in this area.

Departmental Expenditure.

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

260 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 373 of 17 November 2009, if he will provide a breakdown of the administration costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43759/09]

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

261 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 373 of 17 November 2009, if he will provide the same figures for the years 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007; the estimated revenue and expenditure for 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43760/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 260 and 261 together.

The revenue from the sale of dog licences and the cost of providing the local authority dog control services for the years 2004 to 2007 are as follows:

Year

Revenue

Cost of Delivery of Service

€m

€m

2004

2.5

4.0

2005

2.5

4.2

2006

2.6

4.7

2007

2.9

5.4

The dog control services operated by local authorities include, dog wardens, dog pounds/shelters, inspections, dealing with stray dogs including collection, return, rehousing or disposal together with enforcement and related activities. The estimated revenue and expenditure for 2009 are not yet available. The breakdown of costs associated with dog control services is a matter for individual local authorities.

Natural Heritage Areas.

Frank Feighan

Ceist:

262 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if a prosecution will be taken by him regarding a report (details supplied). [43842/09]

Frank Feighan

Ceist:

263 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a major landslide may occur in a designated national heritage area (details supplied). [43843/09]

Frank Feighan

Ceist:

264 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the person responsible for the enforcement of National Heritage Area SI No. 473/2005. [43844/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 262 to 264, inclusive, together.

I understand that the wind-farm development referred to in the question was granted planning permission before the site was designated as a Natural Heritage Area (NHA). Subsequent to the designation of the site, the developers have approached my Department's National Parks and Wildlife Service to discuss how best to progress this development. My Department continues to consult with the developers to minimise and mitigate any impacts on the Natural Heritage Area.

I have no plans to instigate any prosecutions or exercise any other power open to me in regard to this case at this stage. However, I will be keeping the matter under review.

Building Control Act.

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

265 Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his views in view of the recent launch of the register of Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland on whether it is fair and equitable that a RIBA qualified architect practising here will be refused membership of the new register unless they complete a one-year course at a cost of €11,500 and then apply for membership with another association at a cost of €4,500 for a technical assessment; his further views on the fact that these are highly prohibitive costs for members of an industry which is suffering under the pressures of the current economic climate to find the resources to cover these costs when they are already the holders of an internationally recognised qualification; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43847/09]

Section 14 of the Building Control Act 2007 sets out the eligibility criteria for registration of the title of "Architect". Sections 15 and 16 set out specific criteria in respect of nationals from certain other states.

It would be a matter for the Admissions Board, established by the Registration Body provided for in Section 13 of the 2007 Act, to make a decision on whether an application submitted is within the remit of Sections 15 or 16.

Housing Grants.

Joanna Tuffy

Ceist:

266 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the amount of money allocated for home insulation grants and the greener home schemes in the years 2006, 2007, 2008 and to date in 2009 in tabular form; the amount allocated in grants under each heading; the number of applicants who applied for and availed of these grants in each year; the amount of funding remaining unused in each of the years to date in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43643/09]

The following table sets out the relevant figures for the Greener Homes Scheme (GHS) from its inception in 2006 to the present date, and also sets out the figures for the Home Energy Savings Scheme (HESS) for 2008 and 2009. The 2008 figures for HESS are for the pilot ‘Insulation Scheme', which was used to establish some of the principles and processes required to deliver the larger HESS programme. The figures for 2009 are the latest available for the year to date.

Allocations and Expenditure Associated with the Greener Homes and Home Energy Savings Schemes

2006

2007

2008

2009 (to date)

Greener Homes

Total Allocation (€)

€5m

€28.221

€22.5m

€15.345m

Total Spend (€)

€5m

€27.8m

€22.5m

€10.017

Underspend (€)

0

€0.421m

0

*

Number of Grants Paid

1,341

8,385

9,643

6,151

Home Energy Savings Scheme

Total Allocation (€)

€5m

€47.000m

Total Spend(€)

€1.4m

€13.057m

Underspend (€)

€3.6m

*

Number of Grants Paid

711

11,320

*Full year position will not be known until end year.

Communications Masts.

Joe McHugh

Ceist:

267 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will request a company (details supplied) to meet a local group in County Donegal that has identified an alternative site for a radio mast; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43662/09]

I have no statutory function in regard to issues relating to the siting of telecommunication masts; these are matters for the relevant local authorities under the aegis of my colleague, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. Therefore it would not be appropriate for me to request a commercial company to meet with any group regarding such matters.

Postal Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

268 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he plans to encourage the broadening of services available through An Post throughout the entire country, urban and rural within the context of economic requirements, EU directives and public service obligations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43676/09]

The Government's core policy goal for the postal sector is to ensure that Irish customers, both business and residential, enjoy competitively priced, high quality postal services.

An Post has a statutory obligation to provide a universal postal service, including the provision of a delivery to the home or premises of every natural or legal person not less than five days per week. This is set out in the European Communities (Postal Services) Regulations 2002 (SI 616 of 2002).

Furthermore, An Post is obliged to ensure that the universal service evolves in response to technical, economic and social environment and to the needs of users.

Decisions regarding new products and services offered by An Post are a matter for the Board & management of An Post and not one in which I have a direct role.

Telecommunications Services.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

269 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources when he expects broadband quality, speed and availability here to be comparable to the best in Europe; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43677/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

273 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the steps he has taken or intends to take, directly or in association with the regulator, to address areas of infrastructural deficiency in the communications sector here; the degree to which wire, cable and wireless systems will be incorporated in such a programme with a view to ensuring state of the art quality and availability prevails; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43681/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

274 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the extent to which he has given consideration to directly or in consultation with the regulator bringing about a dramatic improvement in the standard and quality of the telecommunications sector as a means of improving competitiveness, attracting foreign investment and encouraging economic recovery; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43682/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 269, 273 and 274 together.

Government policy pertaining to the electronic communications market in Ireland including the provision of broadband services and the underlying telecommunications infrastructure is set out in "Next Generation Broadband — Gateway to a Knowledge Ireland", which I published in June 2009.

The policy paper was developed in accordance with various key principles, which are crucial to the development of the market including (i) competition, at platform and service levels, which drives innovation and investment (ii) investment certainty for service providers considering investing in network infrastructure, (iii) investment intervention by Government only to bridge any digital divide (e.g. the Metropolitan Area Networks Programme, the Schools Broadband Programme, and most recently, the National Broadband Scheme) and (iv) appropriate regulation. The policy paper sets out the Government's position that investment in telecommunications services including alternative and emerging infrastructure is a matter for participating service providers, facilitated where appropriate and possible, by Government, in order to deliver universal broadband access by the end of 2010 and at speeds equal to or in excess of comparable EU regions by 2012.

The existing policy has facilitated significant progress in recent years in broadband roll out and broadband speeds over existing and emerging telecommunications infrastructure and my focus will be on continuing the implementation of this policy. The relevant service providers operate in a fully liberalised market, regulated, where appropriate, by the independent Commission for Communications Regulation, ComReg.

The role of the Government is to formulate regulatory and infrastructure policies to facilitate the provision of high quality telecommunications infrastructure and services, by the competing telecommunications service providers. The statutory responsibility for the regulation of the electronic communications sector is the responsibility of ComReg in accordance with the requirements of the Communications Regulation Act 2002 and the Regulations, which transpose the EU Regulatory Framework for Electronic Communications.

Offshore Exploration.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

270 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the number of oil, gas or drilling or exploration onshore and offshore that is currently in hand or proposed. [43678/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

272 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the number of oil, gas or other mineral exploration licences that have been issued in each of the past five years to date in 2009; the number activated; the number of sites under exploration, pending or abandoned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43680/09]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 270 and 272 together.

There are a total of 27 active Petroleum Exploration Licences and 3 Licensing Options at present. Exploration activity related to the agreed work programmes for each licence is ongoing. The majority of exploration activity takes place outside of the winter months and as a result there are no applications with the Department to undertake any drilling or to conduct exploration surveys at this time.

Details of the number of Mineral Prospecting Licences and Petroleum Exploration Licences granted in the period 2004 to 2009 are contained in the following table:

Licences Granted Years 2004-2009

Year

Prospecting Licences (Minerals) Petroleum Exploration Licences (Oil and Gas)

2004

263

2005

517

2006

1,654

2007

1,435

2008

915

2009 to date (January to October)

581

Twenty-two of the Petroleum Exploration Licences issued between 2004 to date are still active and there is a total of four hundred and eighty-three active Prospecting Licences.

Details of Mineral Prospecting Licences can be found in the six-monthly report to the Oireachtas, which the Minister is obliged to lay before the House under the Minerals Development Acts, 1940 to 1999. The last such report was in respect of the six-month period ended 30 June 2009. This report is also available on the Department's website. Information on petroleum licences can be obtained from the Department's Internet IPAS website at http://gis.dcenr.gov.ie/internetIPAS.

Mineral Exploration.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

271 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the extent of discovery in each of the past five years to date in 2009 of commercially viable ores; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43679/09]

Minerals exploration and development is undertaken by private enterprise and regulated under the Minerals Development Acts, 1940 to 1999. New exploration is continually undertaken as part of my requirements to holders of Prospecting Licences, of which there are currently 483. Details of these Licenses can be found in the six-monthly report to the Oireachtas, which I am obliged to lay before the House under the Minerals Development Acts, 1940 to 1999. The last such report was in respect of the six-month period ended 30 June 2009.

While there have been no new commercially viable mineral discoveries in the past five years there have, however, been some encouraging results.

Question No. 272 answered with Question No. 270.
Questions Nos. 273 and 274 answered with Question No. 269.

Energy Costs.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

275 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the degree to which he has had discussions with the energy regulator with a view to the reducing of energy prices as a means of stimulating the economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43683/09]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

278 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his views on encouraging a further reduction in gas and electricity prices in view of the need to make the economy more competitive by way of reducing energy costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43686/09]