Written Answers.

The following are questions tabled by Members for written response and the ministerial replies as received on the day from the Departments [unrevised].
Questions Nos. 1 to 6, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 7 to 51, inclusive resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 52 to 60, inclusive, answered orally.

Departmental Expenditure

Brian O'Shea

Ceist:

61 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills with regard to the forthcoming budget, the expected proportion of reductions in expenditure between pay and non-pay aspects of her Department’s Vote; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41290/10]

The Deputy will appreciate that I am not in a position to comment on the specifics of budgetary matters in advance of its formal announcement. The Deputy will be aware however that the €8.59 billion current expenditure allocation for my Department for 2010 accounts for some 16% of Government gross voted current expenditure (the third largest after Social Protection and Health). Almost 75% of this current allocation, or €6.39 billion, is accounted for by pay and pensions — €5.4 billion on pay and just under €1 billion on pensions. The number of employees in the education sector accounts for approximately one third of total public sector numbers, more than 70% of which are teachers and special needs assistants. Non-pay expenditure accounts for the balance of €2.2 billion of current expenditure. This non-pay component covers all areas, from funding for our schools and universities, to support for those students that are less well off; from the cost of providing school transport, to our investment in research and development; and from training allowances on FÁS and other courses, to day-to-day office running costs. The Government has made it clear that difficult decisions will be necessary across the broad spectrum of public expenditure in order to secure the significant level of savings required. This will obviously impact on sectors of public expenditure, including the education sector. The choices involved in securing significant savings on my Department's Vote are extremely difficult. The Government will, however, seek to ensure that the necessary savings are achieved in a fair and equitable way.

Ministerial Travel

Joe Costello

Ceist:

62 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will provide an update on her recent visit to the United States of America; the locations she visited, with whom she met and the outcomes that will arise from the visit; if she has received a report from Enterprise Ireland detailing the benefits of her presence on this trade mission; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41294/10]

The Government recently published its five year international education strategy, Investing in Global Relationships, which outlines the strategic importance of international students to the Irish economy, and to long-term business relationships with our current and future trading partners. The USA remains the single most important country of origin for international students in Irish higher education institutions, but the vast majority are here on short-term programmes of one or two semesters. The US-based Institute of International Education recorded a 19% increase in the number of students studying in Ireland on short-term study abroad programmes in the 2008/2009 academic year, making us the ninth largest destination for US students, and the fastest growing destination after China. In this context, there is clearly potential to attract a greater number of US students to Ireland for full degree programmes. The education mission was the initial step in a process of targeting prospective students in this cohort. The aim of the education mission was primarily to target high school counsellors, who play a key role in guiding students about their higher education options, in Boston and Chicago and then visit the national conference of high school counsellors in St. Louis. Given the unavailability of a pair in the House, I was unable to travel on the Boston leg, and so the Secretary General of my Department was asked at short notice to lead the delegation. Once a pairing arrangement was in place, I joined the mission at the earliest possible occasion, leading the Chicago and St. Louis legs. Major engagements included:

Interviews with media outlets, including a group of Irish American media publishers;

working dinners with current and prospective IDA clients and Irish-American philanthropic organisations in Chicago and with the business and academic community in St Louis;

a promotional address and networking event with high school counsellors in Chicago;

meetings with senior leaders in the National Association for College Admission Counselling and the National Association of High School Scholars;

a visit to the Irish pavilion at the National Association of High School Scholars fair;

an economic address to the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago;

meetings with Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago and the President of the Chicago Board of Education;

a meeting with the senior leadership of Fontbonne University in St Louis.

It would not be usual to receive a written report detailing the benefits of Ministerial participation. However, officials from my Department have met Enterprise Ireland to discuss effective follow-up to the mission, as part of the implementation process for the international education strategy.

Departmental Expenditure

Mary Upton

Ceist:

63 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the amount of the €578 million allocated in the 2010 schools capital budget that has been spent at 31 October 2010; if she anticipates all the money allocated will be spent; if not, will unspent money be returned to the Department of Finance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41287/10]

The Exchequer expenditure figures for October 2010 were published last week. Education capital expenditure of €456m (including €75m Capital carryover) is running €102m behind profile at present. The school building budget is less than €50million behind profile. The substantial reduction in construction prices has meant that my Department is achieving greater value for taxpayers' money. Contract prices are now sometimes up to 40% lower than when they were at their peak and a significant proportion of this is an additional reduction on 2009 average prices. Furthermore, difficulties within the construction industry linked to very low tender prices are creating delays, for example, confirmation of the availability of a bond prior to a contract being awarded is taking much more time. In addition, the costs of sites have been reducing and there have also been some delays in completing planned site transactions arising from legal and planning issues. There are 32 major projects commencing on site in the second half of the year. This is a significant number of sites progressing through tender and to construction. In total, it is expected that by the end of 2010, 53 new schools will have commenced on site this year. This compares to projects for 34 schools going on site last year. As I mentioned at the Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills in June, I had asked my officials in June to draw up possible contingency plans in the context of the expenditure challenges. I am looking at possible revised expenditure allocations at the moment to compensate for the softening of expenditure on schools capital within the Department's overall capital budget. The Department's current budget is very tight this year and there is very little contingency available if unexpected expenditure arises in the next eight weeks. This may arise in the area of pensions for example where a number of late applications for retirement may be received. Therefore, it may be necessary for me to take a prudent approach and set aside a small amount of the capital budget to cover for recurrent spending contingencies. This will be kept under constant review. The main other areas where the Department's capital expenditure is running behind profile are ICT Grants and higher education. In terms of ICT grants, €24million was allocated to almost 3,300 primary schools last week and the funding has issued. There is no underspend in this area. The budget for higher education institutions is some €32million behind profile. This is a matter of the timing of the issuing of payments. It would not be expected at this time of the year that the entire capital budget would be spent. The Government is continuing to roll out a vastly improved infrastructure for those at all stages of their education.

Post-Primary Education

Michael Noonan

Ceist:

64 Deputy Michael Noonan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the steps she will take to ensure greater participation of males in senior cycle in post-primary schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41358/10]

Improvements in the numbers of students leaving school early have been recorded in recent years. For example, the latest Retention Report published by my Department in November 2009 shows yearly improvements in second level retention rates for both male and female and it shows an increase in the numbers of boys completing Leaving Certificate within six years of entry from 73% for those who entered in 1995 to 77% for those who entered in 2001. The corresponding figures for females were 84% to 86% respectively. Similarly, the Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) conducted by the Central Statistics Office shows a decrease in the proportion of male early school leavers from 18.0% in 2002 to 14.4% in 2009 while the proportion of female early school leavers decreased from 11.2% to 8.2% over the same period. My Department has adopted a broad-based approach to tackling early school leaving. Enhancing attendance, progression, retention and attainment are central elements of DEIS, the action plan for educational inclusion. Targeted interventions include the School Completion Programme, Home School Community Liaison services, additional funding for pupils at risk of early school leaving and alternative curricular options. The School Completion Programme (SCP) currently targets approximately 36,000 young people, in 124 projects across the country. The programme targets more male than female students, which reflects national trends on school completion. With this in mind, gender specific interventions have been developed to cater for the separate needs of both boys and girls. The programme places an emphasis on the development of Sports clubs as well as recreational and extra curricular activities which specifically engage the interests of boys. Officials of my Department have recently commenced discussions with the Irish Sports Council with a view to developing this work. My Department has also widened the range of curricula available to students by promoting the Junior Certificate Schools Programme, the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme, and the Leaving Certificate Applied Programme in addition to the traditional Junior and Leaving Certificate curricula. I would like to assure the Deputy that we have greatly intensified our efforts in recent years to keep more young people in school and I will continue to prioritise further progress in this area.

Programme for Government

Bernard Allen

Ceist:

65 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she is committed to the delivery of the renewed programme for Government commitments on education for 2011; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41297/10]

The Renewed Programme for Government was agreed in October 2009 and significant progress has been made since then in delivering on the twenty-seven commitments contained in the programme relating to my Department. My Department has a significant role to play in relation to another eleven commitments that are the lead responsibility of other Government Departments. The programme is intended to provide the political basis for Government action until 2012. To date, a number of important commitments have already been achieved or are underway. These include commitments in relation to the roll out of Project Maths, the review of initial teacher education programmes, the review of the manner in which Special Needs Assistants are allocated, the integration of the Home School Community Liaison Scheme, the School Completion Programme and the Visiting Teacher for Travellers Service under the National Educational Welfare Board. There are other commitments in respect of which significant progress has been made. These include the objective of completing a Higher Education Strategy to deliver a longer term vision and shorter term policy objectives for that sector. I can assure the Deputy that the Government remains committed to the delivery of the commitments in the renewed programme, insofar as resources will allow. This was made clear at the time the renewed programme was announced. Given the deterioration in the public financial position, the Government has stated that difficult decisions will be necessary across the board, in the context of formulating the budgetary position for 2011 and for the period up to 2014. In relation to my own Department this requires a full review of all elements of education expenditure, including those mentioned in the Programme for Government. This is being done as part of the budgetary process, which the Deputy will appreciate is carried out on a strictly confidential basis. It would, therefore, not be appropriate for me to comment on specific issues in advance of the formal announcements involved. The Government will, however, seek to ensure that necessary expenditure savings are achieved in a far and equitable way.

Departmental Reports

Pat Rabbitte

Ceist:

66 Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of proposals contained in the Cromien report from 2000 that are currently under consideration for implementation by her Department; the number that have already been implemented; in respect of both sets of proposals if she would identify same; the other measures she will implement to improve the operational effectiveness of her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41280/10]

While the Cromien Report contained a wide range of recommendations it is important to stress that the report was discursive in nature and in some instances presented a range of options for further consideration. For this reason defining the precise number of recommendations is not a clear cut task but it would be fair to say that there are in the order of 80 recommendations and my Department has in whole or in part implemented 60. That is not to say that 20 remain to be implemented. On the contrary many of these have been overtaken by events or in some instances rejected by my Department in favour of alternative approaches.

In June 2001 the Government approved a programme of structural reform of the Department arising from some of the recommendations in Mr. Cromien's report. The main elements of this structural reform were:

i. The establishment of the State Examinations Commission.

ii. The establishment of a National Council for Special Education.

iii. The establishment of a framework of regional offices of the Department of Education and Science.

iv. The enactment of legislation, to extend the remit of the Higher Education Authority to co-ordinate and fund the Institutes of Technology.

A network of 10 regional offices was established under the auspices of a Directorate of Regional Services. However, following a review of the Regional Office operations in 2009 it was decided to cease the service in early 2010 and to re-allocate staff to priority work in the Department.

Officials are allocated work in their current offices and deal with certain priority issues such as the National Drugs Strategy, Limerick Regeneration and Dormant Accounts as well as other priority areas. The Department continues to be represented on key strategy national committees such as the Rapid Programme.

In addition to the reforms approved by Government arising from the Cromien Report, the Department has introduced regulatory reform and appellate processes to under-pin key allocation functions that are in line with the tenets of the Report such as:

The establishment of an independent Appeals Boards in connection with teacher allocations at primary and post primary levels.

The establishment of a School Transport Appeals Boards.

The establishment of the National Teaching Council to promote and support teaching as a profession at both primary and post primary level.

The establishment of the National Education Welfare Board in 2002.

The Student Support Bill 2008 which when enacted will provide for an appeal process to enable students/parents that are dissatisfied with the outcome of an application to appeal the decision.

My Department in recent years in order to achieve greater efficiencies has set up a Central Payroll Division, catering for approximately 70,000 school based employees, along with a web based online claims systems for primary and second level schools.

These measures represent the main structural reforms made by my Department in the last ten years. My Department has submitted an initial "Action Plan for Change" to the Department of Finance with modifications to certain areas of operation in accordance with the terms of the Croke Park Agreement.

In addition to this my Department is currently participating in the third phase of the Organisational Review Programme (ORP). The ORP is a public service modernisation initiative under the auspices of the Department of the Taoiseach.

The purpose of the ORP is to review the current and likely future capacities of individual Government Departments and major Offices in the three key areas of developing strategy, managing delivery and conducting evaluations.

Departmental Funding

Lucinda Creighton

Ceist:

67 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the reason approximately only €8.4 million out of €32 million has been drawn down from the labour market activation fund; the number of participants that have benefited from the first tranche of funding; the number of participants who have benefited from the fund; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41379/10]

Arthur Morgan

Ceist:

85 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of training places that have so far been created under the activation fund; the number of persons who have so far taken up training places under this fund; the kind of training being made available to the unemployed; the areas these training programmes are being concentrated in; if she will provide a list of courses being provided under the scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36181/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 67 and 85 together.

As part of Budget 2010, the Government announced the creation of a €20 million Labour Market Activation Fund, intended to deliver 3,500 places on training and education programmes for the unemployed. Its objective was to stimulate innovation in the provision of training and activation measures for jobseeker's seeking to up-skill and get back into work. The Fund is being targeted to specific priority groups among the unemployed: the low skilled, and those formerly employed in declining sectors — construction, retail and manufacturing sectors, with particular emphasis on the under 35's and the long-term unemployed. In order to leverage to maximum effect the potential of the market for efficient and value-for-money delivery of full or part-time education and training provision, an open tender competition was launched in March 2010. Some 370 tenders were received from public, private, voluntary and not-for-profit organisations, demonstrating a level of response and quality of proposals that exceeded the most optimistic expectations. Offers of funding were initially made to 26 organisations (Phase 1 projects). On 5th August, an additional allocation of €12 million, was made available by the Department of Education and Skills, enabling funding to be offered to 33 additional projects (Phase 2). This brought total funding to €32 million for 59 projects proposing to provide up to 12,000 education and training places for the unemployed (see Appendix A for list of these courses). Twenty-six projects providing for over 6,500 education and training places, in all geographical regions, benefited from the initial fund of €20 million. In the main, Phase 1 projects are meeting their interim targets. As of mid-October some 3,441 or 52% of Phase 1 places were already filled, with further courses coming on stream between November 2010 and January 2011. On the basis of current information, it appears that the targets for places to be provided as set out in tenders by projects can be largely met. Thirty-three projects providing for some 5,400 places in all geographic regions benefited from the second tranche of funding allocated in August. Many projects are still in the process of recruiting participants, and some have yet to sign contracts with the Department of Education and Skills. It is therefore not possible yet to state the total number of beneficiaries from the Fund. Contractual terms provide for payments to projects in three tranches — 40% on contract signature, 30% six weeks after programme start subject to achievement of interim activity and expenditure targets, and 30% on programme completion subject to achievement of education and training provision contracted for. As of end October 2010, €8.4 million had been paid to projects. It is anticipated that by year's end some €18 million will have been drawn from the Fund. The balance, €14 million, represents the liability to projects for payments that fall due during 2011, subject to them meeting the delivery terms of the contract.

Tender Name

Name of Project

Participant No’s

Focus Ireland

Three programmes — Food Industry; Warehousing, Social sector — FETAC level 5 — Dublin Inner City

45

Institute of Technology, Tralee

Eight programmes levels 6-8 — Co. Kerry and South-West Region

160

Career Decisions Ireland

Diploma in Career Coaching and Guidance, HETAC level 7 — Limerick, Athlone, Galway, Dublin

100

University of Limerick, Kemmy Business School

Five programmes — levels 6-8, Mid-West Region

100

Co. Meath VEC

Science IT Smart Skills — level 5, Co. Meath

100

National Adult Literacy Agency

Write On 4 Work — level 3 recognition for prior learning — Nationwide

500

Digital Skills Academy

Multi-region WebActivate Programme, level 6 — Cork, Galway, Limerick, Dublin

200

National Council for Exercise and Fitness (University of Limerick)

Certificate Health and Fitness, Mid-West Region

50

City of Dublin VEC

Progression Pathways Programme Level 3 & 4

725

Co Galway & Mayo VECs

Programmes on Tourism, Energy, Media, and Aquaculture, Levels 3 & 4 — Counties Mayo, Galway

320

Innovo Training & Development

The Enterprise Evolution Programme — Level 8

80

Co. Dublin VEC

Labour Market Activation Programme — levels 3 to 5, Greater Dublin Area

750

Shannon Consortium, Ennis

Foundation Certificate — level 5, Ennis

30

Shannon Consortium, Limerick

Foundation Certificate — level 5, Limerick City

50

JMD Consulting

Ecotourism Training — levels 3-5 and professional body certification — Carlow, Wicklow, Kildare, Wexford

60

Carlow IT

Bachelor of Engineering in Mech Engineering, Carlow, levels 7 and 8

24

First Step Microfinance

10 regional training networks — level 6 — Nationwide

200

Innopharma Labs

Upskilling people for the pharmaceutical industry — level 7+ — Dublin

100

Meath Partnership

Eco-Tourism 7 E-business Training Programme — level 5 and National Certificate in Tourism — Co. Meath

40

Letterkenny Institute of Technology

Higher Diploma in Computing — Level 8, Letterkenny, Killybegs

20

Tipperary Institute

Eight programmes levels 6-8 — Clonmel & Thurles, Co. Tipperary

80

Career Decisions Ireland

Career 2 Fit Career Guidance Programme — level 3 credit — Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Donegal, Louth

1,000

ICBE — Irish Centre for Business Excellence

10 × 4-month training programmes — levels 5 and 6

300

Limerick Institute of Technology

Four BSc courses levels 7 and 8 — Limerick City and Mid-West Region

55

Meath Partnership

Wood Energy and Biomass Training programme, level 5, Co. Meath

60

TBG Learning

Job Fit, level 3+, — Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway, Castlebar, Dundalk, Waterford, Athlone

1,440

Organisation

Name of Programme

Target Numbers

Alaymont Ltd., Dun Laoghaire

Three Programmes: Passive House Construction; Insulation Installer; Green Construction

357

An Tochar Adult Education Centre, Co. Kerry

Certificate in Hotel and Catering

20

Carlow Institute of Technology

Higher Diploma in Business (Management)

60

Carlow Institute of Technology

Special Purpose Award Cert in Good Manufacturing Practice — Pharmaceutical

20

City of Galway VEC

Core Skills — FETAC Levels 3-5

45

Co Clare VEC

Courses from FETAC Level 3-5 aimed at Enterprise; Self Employment; Customer Service; Caring/Healthcare; Tourism/Food; Marine Tourism; Green Economy/ Ecology and Environment Protection and Renewable Energies Sectors

104

Co Offaly VEC

Working Together to Get Offaly Working — FETAC level 3 and 4 foundation courses and FETAC level 5 courses in Science;, Information Technology; Business; Healthcare Support; Childcare; and Renewable Energies

140

Co. Donegal VEC

FETAC level 5 Certificate in Renewable Technology

15

Co. Meath VEC

Smart Skills — FETAC level 3

600

Comhchoiste Ghaeltacht Uibh Rathaigh, Co. Kerry

Courses in Healthcare Support and Business Administration — FETAC level 5

40

Cultivate/ /NICER Training, Dublin

Sustainability and the Green Economy — NFQ levels 4-6

1,570

Digi Media, Dublin

Suite of digital media skills courses — levels 4 and 5

100

Institute of Technology Tallaght

BSc in Pharmaceutical Technology — HETAC level 7

20

Dublin City University and DCU Ryan Academy

Business Innovation Programme — Level 8 Diploma Award

120

Dublin Institute of Technology

Provision A-24 programmes; Provision B — HC courses

910

Dun Laoghaire VEC

Green Technology and Practice — FETAC level 5

60

Dun Laoghaire VEC

Introduction to PC Maintenance with Warehouse Operations — FETAC level 4

15

Dundalk Institute of Technology, Louth

Higher Diploma in Science in Computing — HETAC level 8

40

Dundalk Institute of Technology, Louth

3 Programmes leading to Certificates/Diploma in Business — levels 6-8

90

Financial Services Ireland/IBEC, Dublin

International Financial Services Sector Transition programme — credits at NFQ level 7

100

Fledglings Education & Training, Jobstown, Dublin 24

Early Years Educator and Parent Support Worker Skills — FETAC level 5

20

Institute of Technology, Blanchardstown

Digital Media Programme — FETAC level 4

40

Institute of Technology, Blanchardstown

Certificate in CAD and Manufacturing — HETAC level 8

16

Institute of Technology, Blanchardstown

Higher Certificate Sustainable Electrical Technology — HETAC level 6

32

Joe Hayes, Ballinasloe

Upskilling in de-boning and trimming techniques — NFQ levels 5/6 National Certificate in Butchery Skills

50

Letterkenny Institute of Technology

Certificate in Wind Energy Technology — NFQ level 6

18

Meath Partnership

Artisan Food Skills Development — FETAC level 4

80

Network Solutions

Training programme to produce productive Air Blown Fibre Optic cable installation and repair technicians

50

TBSP, Rostrevor, Co. Down

Career Development with Certificate in Logistics

125

Tolka Area Partnership, Finglas, Dublin

Young Peoples Skills Foundation Initiative — FETAC level 4

40

Waterford Area Partnership Ltd

Make it Your Business Enterprise Programme — FETAC level 5

60

Waterford City VEC

General Education/Technical skills

20

National College of Ireland, Dublin

Foundation Programme in Business Studies, Entrepreneurship Programme, Cert in Web Technologies and Higher Diploma in Web Technologies — NFQ levels 5-8

450

Vocational Education Committees

Jimmy Deenihan

Ceist:

68 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the timeline for the restructuring of the vocational education committee sector; the staffing changes that will be achieved under the proposal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41321/10]

The Government has decided to reduce the overall number of VECs from 33 to 16 and to merge particular city and or county VECs. Implementation of these changes will be carried out by officials of my Department working directly with the VECs and other stakeholders. This project will have a timeframe for implementation of approximately 18 months. Many of the detailed aspects of the restructuring, including the number of administrative staff which each of the new VEC entities will have, will fall to be considered and worked through by my Department in conjunction with the VECs involved in any one merger before decisions are taken. Implementation will involve consultation with the unions representing employees in the sector and other stakeholders. The Croke Park Agreement provides the basis upon which the precise detail of staff redeployment will operate and will be worked through in consultation with the unions that are a party to that agreement.

School Staffing

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

69 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will rule out any further reductions in the number of special needs assistants posts in budget 2011; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41263/10]

The Deputy will appreciate that the preparation of the Budget is carried out on a strictly confidential basis and as a result it would not be appropriate for me to comment specifically on this matter in advance of the formal announcements involved. The Government has made it clear that difficult decisions will be necessary across the broad spectrum of public expenditure in order to secure the significant level of savings required. This will obviously impact on sectors of public expenditure, including the education sector. The Government will, however, seek to ensure that the necessary savings are achieved in a fair and equitable way. I can, however, confirm for the Deputy that I am very supportive of the SNA scheme. It has been a key factor in both ensuring the successful integration of children with special educational needs into mainstream education and providing support to pupils enrolled in special schools and special classes.

Schools Building Projects

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

70 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if the design team to initiate the architectural planning of the extension to a college (details supplied) in County Cork has been appointed in view of the fact that many commitments have been given regarding same and if she will now confirm that there will be no further delay. [41085/10]

I can confirm that the school to which the Deputy refers applied to my Department for large scale capital funding for an extension. In accordance with the published criteria for large scale building projects, the project for this school has been assigned a Band 2 rating. Information in respect of the current school building programme along with all assessed applications for major capital works, including this project, is available on the Department's website at www.education.ie. The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project, from initial design through to construction phase will be considered in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. However, in the light of current competing demands on the capital budget of my Department, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of this project at this time.

Pension Provisions

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

71 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the deficit in the FÁS pension fund; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36396/10]

General Government policy is that public service pensions in the non-commercial semi-State sector are administered on a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) basis and the pre-funding for pensions in this sector is via the National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF). Following a Government Decision (S29075C) concerning certain universities' and non-commercial State Bodies' schemes, the FÁS closed superannuation scheme was converted to a Pay-As-You-Go scheme. The FÁS closed superannuation scheme relates to former employees of ANCO who made contributions to a Fund that was managed by FÁS. The assets of the Fund were transferred to the NPRF on 31 December 2009 on foot of a Transfer Order made under the Financial Measures (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009. As the scheme is now administered on a PAYG basis, the question of a deficit does not arise.

School Staffing

Joe Carey

Ceist:

72 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of special needs assistants withdrawn from both primary and post-primary schools since the commencement of the National Council for Special Education’s review of SNAs began; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41307/10]

The Deputy may be aware that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has published its report on the Review of Special Needs Assistant (SNA) Allocation to Schools April 2009-March 2010 on its website www.ncse.ie. The NSCE has since carried out a number of further reviews of SNA allocation of schools, bringing the total number of schools reviewed as at September 2010 to 3,056. Of this number, 2,363 were primary schools, 588 post-primary schools and 105 were special schools. To date, 9,829 SNA posts have been reviewed and 9,395 SNA posts remain in the schools concerned. 434 SNA posts have been withdrawn from schools — in these cases, either the students for whom the posts were originally allocated had left the school or the students' care needs had diminished over time. Of 2,363 primary schools reviewed 1,261 schools had no change in their SNA level, 704 had a decrease in SNA level, and 398 schools had an increase in their SNA level. Of 588 primary schools reviewed 304 schools had no change in their SNA level, 158 had a decrease in SNA level, and 126 schools had an increase in their SNA level. Of 105 special schools reviewed 54 schools had no change in their SNA level, 29 had a decrease in SNA level, and 22 schools had an increase in their SNA level. The full updated report will be published by the NCSE shortly on its website www.ncse.ie. A small number of schools remain to be reviewed and the NCSE has indicated that these will be reviewed early in the 2010/11 academic year. There are currently in excess of 10,000 SNAs in schools compared with just 300 in 1997. I wish to emphasise that the criteria governing the allocation of SNA posts has not changed, and that SNA posts continue to be retained, and new posts sanctioned, where the care needs of pupils meet the criteria for the scheme.

Schools Building Projects

Ciaran Lynch

Ceist:

73 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills her plans to reorganise the school planning and building unit in Tullamore, County Offaly to enable it to manage the planning and construction of school buildings in an efficient manner; the date on which she will implement these proposals; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41278/10]

I can confirm to the Deputy that there was a significant reorganisation of the Planning and Building Unit of my Department in 2008. This reorganisation involved the development of expertise in relation to forward planning of future school accommodation needs, the acquisition and implementation of a Geographic Information System, the development of an inventory of school accommodation, the establishment of a dedicated site acquisition team and the establishment of a team to oversee the delivery of modular buildings in areas of rapid population growth. Improved cooperation with local authorities in relation to identification of areas of population growth as well as identification and acquisition of suitable sites for additional school accommodation has also been facilitated by the new structures. I have previously announced that I have asked the officials in the Planning and Building Unit to explore new methods of delivery of projects. I have recently announced the involvement of Louth County Council in the management of the delivery of a school building in Drogheda and I look forward to announcing projects to be delivered by certain VECs in the coming weeks. County Monaghan VEC is already advancing with a major project in this regard. The current structures in the Planning and Building Unit will be kept under review and will be changed as needed in the light of experience.

Online Text Books

Tom Hayes

Ceist:

74 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will support the provision of online text books for primary and post-primary schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41338/10]

I support the provision of digital content for schools including the availability of text books on-line for both primary and post primary schools. As the Deputy will be aware, learning related digital content can take several forms such as content created by publishing companies for use in schools, learning content available on the national education portal site Scoilnet and content created by and shared among teachers and students. The availability of high-quality curriculum-related digital resources continues to be a priority under the ICT in Schools Programme of which on-line text books is an important component. My Department is committed to working with the Irish educational publishing industry and, with the Industry's co-operation and initiative, a number of demonstration projects and initiatives are already underway in schools. The Smart Schools Report recommends that the National Centre for Technology in Education, the technology sector and the education publishers explore the development of world class digital educational content. The Report also recommends that the NCTE should work with both public and private organisations to make the wealth of digital archives that are available accessible to schools. The NCTE and officials in my Department have held a number of meetings with publishers in order to progress these recommendations. The ICT Advisory Group, set up by my Department and which includes Industry representation, is currently examining, through its committee on digital content, how digital textbooks can be designed: what level of interactivity they should have and how teacher or student-generated content can add to the resource. The question of costs for any desirable digital learning resource such as textbooks remains unresolved. The cost of textbooks has traditionally been borne by parents and students. The Irish industry own the Intellectual property rights — unlike other countries where education authorities own the content and, consequently, can save money by quickly switching to online delivery as is the case in California. However, a simple digitised textbook is not the best answer in a 21st century learning environment where interactivity and student-generated content is desirable. In Europe the educational publishing industries are working to determine what an interactive digital learning resource should be and how it will be priced and offered to its market. European Schoolnet — a network of 31 Ministries of Education and of which Ireland is an active member — are currently establishing a working group to propose solutions to these issues.

My Department will continue to work with the publishers and other suppliers of digital content to ensure that new and exciting forms of digital content will be accessible for schools.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

75 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the steps she will take to address the issue of overcrowding in classrooms resulting in high pupil-teacher ratio; the extent to which the pupil-teacher ratio here compares with adjoining or EU jurisdictions; if she has had discussions with various school authorities with a view to identifying the areas currently having the highest pupil-teacher ratio; her plans to address this issue in the short to medium term; if she expects the pupil-teacher ratio to improve in the coming year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41380/10]

The criteria used for the allocation of teachers to schools is published annually on my Department's website. In terms of the position at individual school level the key factor for determining the level of resources provided by my Department is the pupil enrolment at the 30 September of each year. While the staffing schedule allocates on the basis of an average number of pupils each individual school decides on how to arrange its classes. The latest available international comparisons as published in Education at a Glance 2010 relate to 2008. A direct comparison is not easily done due to differences in methodology used in different countries. This OECD publication shows the pupil teacher ratio for Ireland at primary level at 17.8 compared to the OECD average of 16.4. The pupil teacher ratio for Ireland at post-primary level is 12.8 compared to an OECD average of 13.7. The Government is currently working on the estimates process for December's budget. We will also be setting out in some detail our budgetary plans for the next 4 years. It is only by taking the difficult decisions now that we can ensure that our economy returns to growth again. This will put the delivery of our public services on a more sustainable basis rather than on our current reliance on borrowed money. My Department cannot give any guarantees in relation to budgetary impacts on education. Clearly, my Department as one of the large spending Departments will have to play its part in the budgetary process. However, as a Government we will be doing our best to minimise the impact for front-line public services.

Third Level Drop-out Rates

Simon Coveney

Ceist:

76 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills her views on the recently published Higher Education Authority report which indicates that college drop out rates are linked to maths competency; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41313/10]

The HEA report on progression rates in higher education highlighted a number of factors that strongly influence the likelihood of a student's progression from first year into second year. The factor found to most influence likely progression from first year into second year is the prior educational attainment of the student, with good performance in Leaving Cert mathematics particularly increasing a student's chances of successfully progressing into second year of their higher education course. This finding again underlines the importance of improving the standard of mathematics at second level and a number of steps are being taken to advance this key objective educational policy objective.

The Project Maths initiative, which, is designed to encourage better understanding of Maths, to reinforce the practical relevance of maths to everyday life and to ensure better continuity between primary and second level, and junior and senior cycle, began in all schools in September 2010, building on a pilot in 24 schools which started in 2008. It will be implemented on a phased basis over the period to 2015, supported by comprehensive investment in professional development for teachers, including the provision of post graduate programmes. Its work will also be supported by an industry-education partnership, the Project Maths Implementation Support Group, which submitted its report to me earlier this year. Some €5m is being invested in Project Maths in 2010, building on €3m in 2009. This investment will continue on an ongoing basis to at least 2013, with the post graduate programmes continuing thereafter in line with demand. The introduction of a scheme of bonus points from 2012 for university entrants who take higher level Leaving Certificate Maths was also announced in October 2010. DIT and the Board of the Institutes of Technology Ireland have also expressed support for the introduction of bonus points for maths which I hope will also encourage the take up of higher level maths by students.

Departmental Programmes

Michael Ring

Ceist:

77 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills her views on whether the 2,000 places sanctioned under the work placement programme are sufficient in view of the fact that over 440,000 persons are unemployed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39987/10]

Arthur Morgan

Ceist:

96 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the progress of the work placement programme; the take-up of people on this programme; the number of places still available in the two streams; her plans to amend and re-evaluate the scheme in any way to ensure that it meets the needs of graduates and the unemployed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36180/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 77 and 96 together.

Last year, the Government introduced the FÁS Work Placement Programme (WPP) to provide valuable work experience to graduates and non-graduates who are unemployed. The Work Placement Programme provides up to 9 months work experience to unemployed individuals and is open to employers from all sectors of the economy, including the private, public and the community and voluntary sectors. Under the criteria of the programme, potential participants are informed that participation is voluntary and unpaid. However, participants may be able to retain their existing social welfare entitlements for the duration of their placement, subject to individuals satisfying the qualifying requirements of the Department of Social Protection. The programme was reviewed in November 2009, with revised criteria coming into operation from 1st December 2009. The revised criteria considerably increased the accessibility of participants and providers to the programme. The purpose of the Work Placement Programme is to ensure that unemployed individuals are kept close to the labour market and are given the opportunity to enhance their future employment prospects. The programme provides an opportunity for unemployed individuals to enhance existing skills and also to develop new skills in a real work environment so that they will be better positioned to avail of future employment opportunities in the labour market. The programme provides the unemployed with the opportunity to take up a placement in their chosen occupation and gain valuable experience or to work in another sector that may hold better future employment prospects. There are two streams under the programme, the first is for unemployed graduates who have attained a full award at level 7 or above on the National Framework of Qualifications. The second stream, is open to all other unemployed individuals. Since the start of the programme a total of 2,200 people have commenced a placement under the programme. However, as of the 27th October 2010, 1,463 participants were on the programme, 692 on the graduate stream and 771 on the non-graduate stream. It should also be noted that there are a further 1,369 placements potentially available to be filled, 674 on the graduate stream and 695 on the non-graduate stream. My Department is monitoring the progress of the Work Placement Programme on an ongoing basis to ensure that the programme meets the requirements of the unemployed, including unemployed graduates. This is also feeding into further policy and programme development work in the labour market area.

Departmental Reports

Michael D. Higgins

Ceist:

78 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the reasons she has not yet published the Hunt report, which was effectively completed by August this year; when she will officially publish the report; if she will proceed with the implementation of its proposals; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41266/10]

The terms of reference for the High Level Group which was established to develop proposals for a new national strategy for higher education provided for an extensive examination of all issues relating to the future development of the higher education sector. The Group has now completed its work and I am now consulting with my Government colleagues in relation to its report. The timeframe for publication of the report will be decided in that context.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Seymour Crawford

Ceist:

79 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of additional teachers she expects to provide in the primary school sector taking into account the continuing increase in pupil numbers; her views on the fact that a number of young persons went to training college on the understanding and anticipation that they would get employment in a situation where education is deemed to be one of our strongest assets and yet they see temporary posts being filled by un-trained personnel or retired teachers; her views that such a situation is unfair to those who were encouraged into training and the action she will take to ensure this practice is curtailed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41087/10]

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

90 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will rule out any reduction in teaching posts in budget 2011; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41264/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 79 and 90 together.

Pupil numbers at both primary and post-primary level continue to increase. The criteria used for the allocation of teachers to schools is published annually on my Department's website. In terms of the position at individual school level the key factor for determining the level of resources provided by my Department is the pupil enrolment at the 30 September of each year. Unlike other areas of the public service schools can continue to fill these teaching posts in the normal manner. While the primary staffing schedule allocates on the basis of an average number of pupils each individual school decides on how to arrange its classes. The Government is currently working on the estimates process for December's budget. We will also be setting out in some detail our budgetary plans for the next 4 years. It is only by taking the difficult decisions now that we can ensure that our economy returns to growth again. This will put the delivery of our public services on a more sustainable basis rather than on our current reliance on borrowed money. My Department cannot give any guarantees in relation to budgetary impacts on education. Clearly, my Department as one of the large spending Departments will have to play its part in the budgetary process. However, as a Government we will be doing our best to minimise the impact for front-line public services. In relation to the issue of employment of newly qualified teachers, my Department recently issued a reminder to school authorities calling on schools to give priority to newly or recently qualified teachers when making appointments for periods of substitution and other temporary appointments. It is the policy of my Department that only qualified personnel should be employed by schools. Circular 40/2010, which issued earlier this year, directs schools to ensure that teachers proposed for appointment to publicly paid teaching posts are registered with the Teaching Council and have qualifications appropriate to the sector and suitable to the post for which they are proposed. Section 30 of the Teaching Council Act 2001, which has not yet been commenced, provides that only registered teachers can be remunerated out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas. While it is still the aim of the Minister that all teachers in schools be registered with the Council (and therefore fully qualified), it is apparent that to commence Section 30 as it stands could have a serious negative impact for a small number of schools where, in specific circumstances, unqualified personnel are required in the short term. Section 12 of the Education (Amendment) Bill 2010 is necessary for the amendment of Section 30 of the Teaching Council Act to allow for the employment, only in certain exceptional and limited circumstances, of persons who are not registered teachers under the Act.

Site Acquisitions

David Stanton

Ceist:

80 Deputy David Stanton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 105 of 29 September 2010, the further progress, if any, in the provision of permanent sites with accommodation for two schools (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41376/10]

As the Deputy is aware my Department is engaged in the process of acquiring a site and to this end has applied for planning permission as part of the exchange of contracts. My officials have arranged a meeting with the planning authority in the coming weeks to discuss and address issues raised by them on foot of the application.

Graduate Unemployment

Tom Sheahan

Ceist:

81 Deputy Tom Sheahan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the policy she will pursue to ensure that very high graduate unemployment, which is indicated by the 30% of graduates from University College Dublin in 2009 who are unemployed according to a UCD survey will find work including placement internship training opportunities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41369/10]

The Government acknowledges unemployment is a significant problem and is committed to tackling it. It should be noted that the Quarterly National Household Survey from Q2 2010 shows that 75% of those who are unemployed possess PLC or lower qualifications and unemployed people with 3rd level education account for 21%. It should also be noted that people with higher skills and education attainment are more employable and therefore more likely to secure employment. The Government in order to minimise the drift into very long-term unemployment has decided to prioritise four priority cohorts of the unemployed. The four cohorts who are most at risk of becoming distant from the labour market, are:

People with low skills or education levels;

People who are on the Live Register for over one year;

People who are under 35 years of age,

People who were previously employed in the construction, manufacturing and wholesale/ retail trade.

Recent graduates therefore mainly fall into the priority cohort of under 35 and can avail of priority access to training and education opportunities that are available to the unemployed. However, the Government does recognise that at present there is a lack of employment opportunities for young graduates entering into the labour market, and therefore many young graduates may become distant from the labour market without relevant work experience. To address this situation the Work Placement Programme (WPP) was introduced last year. This programme provides participants with a nine month work placement and it is aimed at graduates and non-graduates. The programme offers participants the opportunity to apply their knowledge and develop their skills in a working environment. The programme has been promoted to graduates at various college graduate fairs, several Grad Ireland sponsored events, and via relevant graduate publications and websites. To date 1,106 graduates have commenced under the programme. My colleague Minister O'Keeffe has also introduced a number of initiatives for graduates to gain valuable work experience and to retain a talented pool of graduates in Ireland. This year Enterprise Ireland introduced two initiatives to support graduates, including, the Graduates 4 International Growth (Pilot Programme) and the Enterprise Ireland International Graduate Programme. The Graduates 4 International Growth (G4IG) programme, which was launched on 30 August 2010, aims to place 50 top-level college graduates in export-led Irish firms. It is 18 months in duration, with participants based for a minimum of 12 months in an overseas market. It has a strong focus on action learning and project work coupled with skills modules on relevant topics such as cultural diversity, market development/strategy, sales and marketing. The programme matches graduates who show potential with ambitious internationally trading companies and provides them with a structured means of developing new skills in business development, while also delivering a key project for the companies involved. Enterprise Ireland's International Graduate Programme involves a placement of 2 years. This programme aims to provide 15 graduates with in-depth overseas marketing and business strategy know how. Graduates with primary and post-graduate degrees across disciplines such as business, social science, science, manufacturing technology and engineering who would like to make a career in international Irish businesses are eligible. Graduates taking part in the 2010 International Graduate Programme commenced working in their overseas locations on 27 September. Applications for the 2011–2013 programme will be invited in October 2010 and the closing date will be 31 January 2011. The Government remains committed to addressing Ireland's unemployment problem and continues to actively explore new measures including internship and upskilling programmes for graduates.

Student Registration Fee

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

82 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will rule out any increase in the student registration fee in budget 2011; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41262/10]

Brian O'Shea

Ceist:

124 Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will address the concerns of persons (details supplied) in County Waterford; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41392/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

164 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which she has evaluated the impact of increased university registration or tuition fees on families attempting to make third level provision for their children having particular regard to the Government’s repeated aspirations to ensure the availability of larger numbers of graduates capable of achieving higher levels of employment in the future; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41675/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 82, 124 and 164 together.

As I am sure the Deputy will appreciate, I am not in a position to comment on budgetary proposals. Speculation on any decision in relation to student registration fees is just that, speculation. The Student Services Charge is levied by the Higher Education institutions to defray the costs of examinations, registration and student services. Students eligible under the means-tested student grant schemes do not have to pay this charge. It is paid on their behalf under my Department's student grant schemes in addition to any maintenance grant and tuition fee support they are entitled to. Some 43% of undergraduate students fall into this category and do not have to pay the charge. The Government is conscious however, that for those in income groups just above the grant eligibility threshold, any increase in the charge would be an important affordability consideration. However, research also indicates that a range of complex factors that extends beyond financial barriers, such as societal and cultural issues, parental and teacher expectations and previous academic attainment, are also factors that impact on the participation rate of various income groups. Participation growth in Irish higher education has been significant over the past three decades, with the number of new entrants almost trebling in that period. The expansion of higher education opportunities continues to be an important policy priority for government. In the last three years higher education institutions have sought to respond to the increases in demand from school leavers and adults returning to education, including unemployed people, by increasing the number of full time places they offer and also by expanding part time and other flexible types of provision. The Government is committed to ensuring that opportunities to engage in higher education continue to be made available to potential learners and that access to higher education will continue to be determined by a student's ability and not their financial circumstances. A key challenge for the development of the sector will be in enabling it to meet future demand on a sustainable funding basis, without compromising on quality. A widening of the funding base for the sector, to reduce the relatively high level of dependence on the Exchequer, is one of the issues to be considered in that context.

Public Sector Pay

Sean Sherlock

Ceist:

83 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she has submitted proposals to the Croke Park public service agreement implementation body chaired by Mr. P. J. Fitzpatrick; if she will outline those proposals; the position regarding implementation of the agreement between her Department and the relevant trade unions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41271/10]

I can inform the Deputy that my Department has submitted its draft Public Service Agreement 2010-2014 Action Plan to the Department of Finance for inclusion in an overall Civil and Public Service Action Plan. I understand that the composite Action Plan is currently being prepared by the Department of Finance for submission to the Implementation Body in the near future. My Department's draft Action Plan has been brought to the attention of the relevant trade unions at Departmental Council level.

Departmental Bodies

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

84 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills her plans for the reorganisation of FÁS; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41086/10]

The reorganisation and reform of FÁS and of the State's provision of training and employment services is a process that I initiated over a year ago. The first phase involved the putting in place of a stronger board and corporate governance structure in FÁS and this was provided for in the Labour Services (Amendment Act), 2010. The second phase, announced by the Taoiseach, involves the division of responsibility for training and employment programmes and services between the newly mandated Departments of Education and Skills and Social Protection. These changes will improve the delivery of employment, training and community services to the public by bringing together related responsibilities in these areas. The Employment Programmes and Services and Skills Training (Transfer of Departmental Administration and Ministerial Functions) Order of 2010, which came into force on 1 May 2010, provided for the reallocation of responsibility for FÁS as an Agency and its related funding from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation to the Department of Education and Skills. The Department of Social Protection will, following the commencement of the relevant sections of the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2010, assume funding and overall responsibility of FÁS employment services and employment programmes. The Social Welfare and Pensions Bill, 2010, which is due to be published shortly, will provide for the full transfer of FÁS employment services and employment programmes to the Department of Social Protection and this would include the transfer of relevant FÁS staff, property, land as well as certain rights and responsibilities to that Department. This will amend the Labour Services Act, 1987. In the period between the commencement of the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2010 and the commencement of the relevant sections of the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill, 2010, a Service Level Agreement (SLA) will be put in place between the Department of Social Protection and FÁS. Officials from my Department, FÁS and the Department of Social Protection are working closely together to advance this agenda. The third phase involves the re-structuring and re-mandating of FÁS as a world-class skills and training provider. I met with the Board of FÁS this morning to discuss its proposal for a new training agency. Work has commenced on this process and will continue in tandem with the integration of the employment programmes and employment services into the Department of Social Protection.

Question No. 85 answered with Question No. 67.

Departmental Programmes

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

86 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will provide the details of the TBG Learning report on the JobFit programme due at the end of October; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41375/10]

The terms of contracts with projects under the Labour Market Activation Fund, 2010 require that they submit to my Department detailed interim and final activity and financial reports on their programmes. I can confirm that an interim report in respect of the TBG Learning programme JobFit has been received in my Department. These reports indicate that training activity and expenditure are in line with expectations for the programme. The JobFit programme is being delivered in the following locations in Dublin: at Blanchardstown, Smithfield and Tallaght; as well as in Athlone, Castlebar, Cork, Dundalk, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick and Waterford. In excess of 900 participants commenced the programme, 174 of whom have already completed it. To date, 70 participants left the programme to take up employment, while another 18 participants went on to pursue Further/Higher Education opportunities.

School Staffing

Ulick Burke

Ceist:

87 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of unqualified and untrained personnel at present employed in primary schools and second level schools; if she will instruct the principals of these schools or the boards of management to advertise these positions so as to give fully trained unemployed teachers the opportunity to apply for these positions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41390/10]

There are currently 90 personnel employed in temporary full-time positions in primary schools and 150 employed in regular part-time posts that are in receipt of the unqualified rate of pay. There are 92 personnel employed in temporary and regular part-time positions in secondary, community and comprehensive schools at present that are in receipt of the unqualified rate of pay. These figures do not include people employed on a casual substitute basis or those employed in place of teachers in the vocational education sector. It is the policy of my Department that schools should only employ people who are on the register of teachers maintained by the Teaching Council. An integral part of the registration process is an assessment of a person's qualifications. Unqualified personnel should not be appointed except in the most exceptional circumstances and then only when all avenues for recruiting qualified personnel have been exhausted. This should only be for quite limited time periods. Earlier this year my Department directed schools that persons proposed for appointment to publicly paid teaching posts must be registered with the Teaching Council and have qualifications appropriate to the sector and the post. Only where an employer can satisfactorily demonstrate that every reasonable effort has been made to recruit an appropriately qualified and registered teacher, an unqualified or unregistered person may be recruited pending the recruitment of an appropriately qualified and registered teacher. In addition, a reminder recently issued to school authorities to prioritise qualified teachers, particularly newly or recently qualified teachers, when making substitute and other temporary appointments. I believe that first call must be given to teachers who are not in work and I appreciate the efforts of those schools who have responded positively to date.

The Education (Amendment) Bill, currently before the House, will provide for the first time for regulations to limit the engagement of unregistered people and will require schools to prioritise the employment of registered teachers over unregistered people while still ensuring that schools can operate.

Education Reform

Catherine Byrne

Ceist:

88 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she has undertaken any initiative to promote the reforms in education which have been sought by the leaders of some of the key foreign investors in the information communication technology area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36438/10]

The Report Smart Schools Smart Economy sets out a range of recommendations which are designed to strengthen the integration of ICT in teaching and learning in primary and post primary schools. The Report recommends an investment of €150m over 3 years to improve the ICT infrastructure, expand professional development for teachers, enhance the digital content available in support of the curriculum and provide enhanced broadband for schools. The Report welcomes the ICT framework which has been developed by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment. This sets out a structured approach for schools in using ICT. It identifies objectives, learning outcomes and learning opportunities for students across the system which will support students to create, communicate and collaborate, think critically and creatively, and develop the skills to use ICT in a variety of formats.

Since November last year over €67m has been provided in ICT grants to schools to assist them to reach the recommended baseline of ICT equipment. Schools are being asked to prioritise their investment to ensure that each classroom is equipped with a teaching computer, a long range wireless mouse and keyboard, and a fixed digital projector, and that, at second level, ICT equipment supports Project Maths, and specialist classrooms or laboratories for subjects with practical dimensions, such as science and technology. In relation to educational reforms, as revised syllabuses come on stream in senior cycle, it is national policy to strengthen the ICT dimension and embed five key skills — information processing, communications, critical and creative thinking, working with others and being personally effective. A second assessment component is also being included to strengthen practical, project and portfolio assessment. This is important in promoting critical skills such as communications, planning, research and evaluation. Of the 34 Leaving Certificate subjects available, 18 are now assessed through oral, practical, project or portfolio work in addition to a written examination.

Leaving Certificate Technology and a revised syllabus in Leaving Certificate Design and Communications Graphics, both of which include significant Computer Aided Design elements, were examined for the first time in 2009. A major programme of reform is also under way under Project Maths in both junior and senior cycle. In addition to national programmes of professional development, a range of evening courses are being provided for teachers to show them how to use readily available software to teach geometry, trigonometry and statistics for both Junior and Leaving Certificate. On-line resource materials are also being provided for teachers and students.

A review of junior cycle by the NCCA is currently under way. The Council has been asked to advise on the scope for reform which would provide for a more active learning experience for students, promote real understanding, creativity and innovation, and provide for appropriate evidence of learning in a context where the Junior Certificate is no longer being a high stakes environment. The Council has published a paper Innovation and Identity — Ideas for a new Junior Cycle, which set out a range of possible directions for change, and has launched a public consultation process on the matter. The feedback from the consultation process, together with reviews of international practice, will inform the proposals which the NCCA will make. These will be presented at a symposium to be organised by the Council towards the end of the year.

Schools are also working actively to promote enterprise education as an examinable component of the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme, within the curriculum in Business Studies, through such initiatives as Mini-Company in Transition Year and within the Leaving Certificate Applied programme. In 2010 some 14500 students participated in the Student Enterprise and Mini-Company competitions, 6000 students took part in the Young Social Innovators Programme. My Department continues to work closely with the information communication technology industry following on from the publication of the Smart Schools Report last year which was prepared by a Joint Industry Advisory Group. The Smart Schools Report recommended the establishment of the ICT in Schools Steering Group. This group is chaired by Paul Rellis, Head of Microsoft Ireland and has met on five occasions. The group is made up of key stakeholders including Government departments, industry, schools, teachers, students and parents. The establishment of the Steering Group signifies a strong partnership between the education sector and industry with the shared objective of enhancing ICTs role in the education system.

Community Employment Schemes

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

89 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if any community employment scheme participants in receipt of either disability or one parent payments have requested and been refused an extension; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40075/10]

The length of time a person can remain on Community Employment (CE) is dictated by a number of factors, in line with the guidelines for CE:

What age the person is;

How long they have been in receipt of a qualifying Department of Social Protection (DSP) payment;

Previous participation on CE since 3rd April 2000;

Whether they are considered job-ready at the end of each year's CE participation;

Budgetary limitations/place availability limitations.

The maximum participation limits for CE are three years for those under 55 years of age, and six years for those of 55 to 65 years of age.

Persons in receipt of a qualifying disability-related DSP payment are eligible for one additional year on top of these two limits, i.e., four years for those under 55 and seven years for those of 55 to 65.

Persons in receipt of a qualifying DSP payment for 12 months (on entry to CE) may participate on CE for one year before having to leave CE and re-qualify, subject to the age-related maximum participation caps above. In exceptional circumstances, a percentage of participants may be retained for an additional subsequent year, subject to budget limits and personal training needs.

Persons in receipt of a qualifying DSP payment for three years or more (on entry to CE) may be eligible for up to three years on CE, subject to annual renewal, based on job-readiness assessment and personal training requirements. There is no entitlement to remain for the 3 years if the person is considered job-ready when assessed by the CE supervisor at the end of each annual contract. At the end of the 3 years, if fully utilised, the person will have to leave CE.

FÁS has indicated that certain CE participants receiving Illness Benefit (previously known as Disability Benefit) and One Parent Family payment have requested and been refused an extension. However, FÁS does not gather statistics on the numbers of CE participants refused extensions, regardless of eligibility category or reason for refusal. The receipt of Illness Benefit or One Parent Family Payment has no bearing on the granting or otherwise of a further year on CE.

Question No. 90 answered with Question No. 79.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

91 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills in view of the motion proposed by this Deputy and agreed by the Joint Committee on Social Protection which calls on her not to withdraw or reduce the disability or one parent payments benefits of community employment scheme participants, if she will now allay the fears of those who would be affected and make the requested commitment [40074/10]

Jack Wall

Ceist:

122 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the discussions she has had in relation to possible changes that would affect community employment schemes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39297/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 91 and 122 together.

There are no proposals currently under consideration in regard to making changes to the national operation of the Community Employment Scheme. Within the current very difficult budgetary constraints, the number of places on CE have been increased to 23,300 in 2010. In delivering these places, FAS will continue to operate flexibly in the management of this allocation in order to maximise progression to the labour market, while at the same time facilitating the support of community services.

Issues concerning the withdrawal or reduction of welfare payments are a matter for the Minister for Social Protection.

Employment Support Services

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

92 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the steps she is taking to assist the 88,663 persons under 25 years who are on the live register to find employment or to access retraining; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36383/10]

Last year, the Government decided to prioritise four cohorts of the unemployed for support and assistance. The four cohorts are; the low skilled; those under 35 years of age; those on the Live Register for longer than 1 year and those suffering from structural unemployment in the manufacturing, construction and retail sectors.

This year, the total number of training and work experience activation places for the unemployed delivered by FÁS, the Labour Market Activation Fund and Skillnets will be approximately 160,000. This compares to the 66,000 places that were delivered in 2008. To facilitate young people, FÁS is also prioritising services for the under 25s.

Included in this provision, is the €32 million Labour Market Activation Fund will provide approximately 12,000 activation places for the unemployed. Almost sixty organisations were successful in the Labour Market Activation's Fund's tendering process, as their proposals had to improve the employabiliy and enhance the skills of unemployed persons from the priority cohorts, including those under 35 years of age.

Also included is the Work Placement Programme that was launched last year, as a way of providing work experience for the unemployed in a real work environment. This Programme provides work experience placements for periods up to nine months. As of 27th October 2,200 people had commenced a placement under the Work Placement Programme. The total number of participants aged under 25 currently on the programme is 474.

In relation to redundant apprentices, FÁS has introduced a number of measures which have assisted over 4,000 redundant apprentices with on and off-the-job training. A recent initiative was also introduced with the Department of Defence and the Air Corp to facilitate 30 redundant formerly employed in SR Technics to complete their mechanical apprenticeship.

In addition to the training and employment provision for the unemployed, the State is also investing significantly in the Further and Higher Education sectors. This year the Government is providing 170,000 full time and part time Further Education places and 156,000 full time Higher Education places. In the Higher Education sector all the programmes covered by the free fees scheme are open to unemployed people. Specific initiatives for the unemployed include almost 1,800 unemployed people supported on part-time undergraduate and postgraduate programmes from September 2009 in areas of the ‘Smart Economy'.

For early school leavers, there are 6,000 places available under the Youthreach Programme. The programme provides participants with two years integrated education, training and work experience. The programme facilitates early school leavers with opportunities to acquire certification and progress to further training or employment

In addition to providing increased education and training places, the Government has adopted measures to encourage and incentivise unemployed people under 25 years of age to participate in full time education or training. Unemployment benefit has been reduced to €100 per week for those unemployed under 23 and to €150 per week for those aged 24 and 25. However, as an incentive to upskill them, should these individuals participate in full time education and training programmes then they will receive the full normal weekly allowance of €196.

This Government will continue to explore all possibilities in relation to supporting young unemployed individuals.

Departmental Expenditure

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

93 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she has examined fully the major role of the educational system in the future of the economy with particular reference to the need to ensure that budgetary cuts do not permanently undermine the concept of investment in this vital sector; if she will ensure that the needs of primary, second and third level pupils and students are kept to the fore and that the requirements of schools catering for children with special needs are adequately provided for; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41381/10]

The Deputy will appreciate that the preparation of the Budget is carried out on a strictly confidential basis and as a result it would not be appropriate for me to comment on specific matters in advance of the formal announcements involved. The Government has made it clear that difficult budgetary decisions will be necessary across the broad spectrum of public expenditure in order to secure the significant level of savings required. This will obviously impact on all sectors of public expenditure, including the education sector. The Government will, however, seek to ensure that the necessary savings are achieved in a fair and equitable way, and that the important role of the education system in the future of the economy is recognised.

Third Level Access

Lucinda Creighton

Ceist:

94 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the progress since 2007 in making universities here accessible to persons from disadvantaged areas and lower socioeconomic groups; the numbers and percentages of university students from such backgrounds in each of the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41378/10]

While the information requested by the Deputy is not readily available in the format requested, I can provide information on percentage participation rates in the various categories of students from 1998 and provide details of the new targets that have been set in the National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education 2008-13.

In 1998 the overall participation rate in higher education was 44%. By 2004 it had risen to 55%. The HEA estimates that in 2007 participation rose to 64% of the relevant age cohort. A target of 65% has been set by the National Access Plan for 2013 and a target of 72% by 2020.

In 1998 mature students represented 5% of entrants to higher education; in 2006 this had increased to 13%. A target of 20% by 2013 has been set in the National Access Plan 2008-13.

In 1998 just 23% of young people aged 17-19 from a socio-economic disadvantaged background entered higher education. By 2004 this had increased to 33%. A new target of 45% participation by 2020 has been set in the National Access Plan 2008-13.

A mid-term review of the Plan is currently underway and it is intended that this will be completed by the end of 2010.

Aitheantas Scoile

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

95 D’fhiafraigh Deputy Fergus O’Dowd chun a fhiafraí den Tánaiste agus Aire Oideachais agus Scileanna sa chomhthéacs gur osclaíodh bunscoileanna nua san Uaimh, Co. na Mí, sa Nás, Co. Chill Dara, agus i mBaile Brigín, Co. Bhaile Átha Cliath, ar an gcéad lá den scoilbhliain acadúil i mbliana (an 30 Lúnasa 2010), cé mhéad spáis a bhí ar fáil sna scoileanna eile ar na bailte céanna; an raibh gá le scoileanna nua a oscailt sna bailte sin; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [41084/10]

Mar a chuir me in iúl cheana don Teach seo, tá an Coimisiún um Chóiríocht Scoileanna faoi láthair ag athbhreithniú na nósanna imeachta do bhunscoileanna nua a bhunú.

Nuair a d'fhógair an tAire a chuaigh romham go raibh an t-athbhreithniú ag tosnú, dúirt sé nach mbunófaí bunscoil nua ar bith go dtí go mbeadh an t-athbhreithniú curtha i gcrích ach amháin i gcásanna ina raibh gá le scoileanna nua de bharr deimeagrafaice méadaithe.

Tar éis na hanailíse mionsonraithe, agus tar éis dul i gcomhairle le comhlachtaí pátrúnachta i rith 2009, chonacthas do mo Roinnse gur den chríonnacht é pleanáil a dhéanamh do bhunscoileanna nua sna limistéir dá dtagraíonn an Teachta, a thosnódh ag obair i Meán Fómhair 2010, chun freastal ar an éileamh méadaithe sna limistéir sin.

Roimh Meán Fómhair 2010 bhí dhá Phobalscoil Náisiúnta i mBaile Átha Cliath ag obair mar chuid den chéim phíolótach den tsamhail nua Pobalscoile Náisiúnta. Ag fógairt rollaithe amach na samhla píolótaí seo go dtí Baile Brigín, An Uaimh agus An Nás dúirt an tAire a chuaigh romham, an tAire O'Keeffe, go raibh sé ag cuimhneamh ar an mbeartas a bhí luaite aige an tsamhail phíolótach Pobalscoile Náisiúnta a leathnú i 2010. D'fhonn an tsamhail a mheasúnú go hiomlán i suíomhanna éagsúla, bhí an tAire tiomanta, mar aidhm pholasaí, don tsamhail phíolótach Pobalscoile Náisiúnta a leathnú go dtí roinnt suíomhanna nua i 2010. Trí líon teoranta scoileanna breise a chur leis na scoileanna píolótacha, cuirfear leis an deis a bheidh ann chun ceisteanna féideartha praiticiúla a shainaithint agus réitigh nua a thriail, agus leis an gcumas chun cinntí dea-chomhairlithe a dhéanamh faoi rollú amach na samhla nua pátrúnachta i suíomhanna eile amach anseo. Cruthófar deis chun an tsamhail a mheasúnú i suíomhanna éagsúla roimh do mo Roinnse cinntí a dhéanamh faoi rollú amach a dhéanamh uirthi.

Question No. 96 answered with Question No. 77.

Higher Education Grants

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

97 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the level of delay in the processing of student grants; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41265/10]

Ulick Burke

Ceist:

129 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of applications for student maintenance grants received by local authorities and vocational educational committees; the number of these paid to each county council and VEC and the number now under appeal or refused to date in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41453/10]

Lucinda Creighton

Ceist:

175 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of grant awarding authorities that are still processing student grants for the 2010-11 academic year; the percentage of applications processed and not processed by each awarding body; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41715/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 97, 129 and 175 together.

The process of assessing and paying third level or further education grants is a matter for the relevant local authority or VEC.

I am aware that the timing of payment varies between the 66 awarding authorities depending on a number of variables including the volume of applications received, staffing resources and whether or not properly completed application forms have been submitted. Work prioritisation across different functions, and how available staff are deployed to execute those functions are matters for the management of each VEC and local authority concerned.

This year's student grant schemes include a number of significant administrative and service improvements aimed at addressing the issue of delay, which include an initial roll-out of a new online grant application system. The new system, introduced in both Irish and English, is already operating in 11 grant awarding authorities. Building on this initial phase for the current academic year, the ultimate aim will be to make it available to all applicants nationally.

Key among the other improvements introduced are a complete overhaul of the grant application form, streamlined administrative processes, advance payments to awarding authorities and publication of the grant schemes some two months earlier than last year. The Student Support Bill, which will provide for a fundamental and radical restructuring of the whole student grants administration function and provide for a single unified scheme is now listed to be taken at Committee Stage on 25 November 2010.

A number of amendments to the Bill relating to legal and policy issues have arisen since Second Stage. These are being finalised with the Attorney General's Office.

In addition, possible options for a more significant centralisation of functions have been explored in line with the Government's wider programme of public service reform and it has been decided that the grants function will be administered by a single Grant Awarding Authority. The intention is to have any amendments arising from the Government decision on this issue sufficiently advanced with the Attorney General's Office to be dealt with at Committee Stage to prevent any further delay in the passage of the Bill.

The following table attached details the number of new student grant applications received, fully processed, refused, the number paid and the percentage processed by the local authorities and Vocational Educational Committees for the 2010/11 academic year as at end October 2010. It should be noted that the difference between the numbers of new applications received and the numbers fully processed include incomplete applications and those submitted without the required supporting documentation. The information has been supplied to my Department by the local authorities and the Vocational Education Committees. Information in relation to the number of appeals made to grant awarding authorities is not collected by my Department.

Awarding Authorities — Processing Position as at week ending 29.10.10 (unless otherwise stated)

Local Authorities

New Applications Received

New Applications where Processing is Complete*

New Payments Made

New Applications Refused

% of New Applications Processed

Carlow Co. Council

221

171

115

23

77.4%

Cavan Co. Council

277

174

136

17

62.8%

Clare Co. Council

659

329

77

19

49.9%

Cork City Council

734

393

208

65

53.5%

Cork Co. Council

1,612

403

120

73

25.0%

Donegal Co. Council

865

518

166

89

59.9%

Dublin City Council

2,318

1,448

421

295

62.5%

Dun/Rath Co. Council

743

342

120

70

46.0%

South Dublin Council

806

385

148

69

47.8%

Fingal Co. Council

1,000

354

0

50

35.4%

Galway Co.Council

2,457

989

691

84

40.3%

Kerry Co. Council

698

537

340

62

76.9%

Kildare Co. Council

1,020

365

150

2

35.8%

Kilkenny Co. Council

426

363

235

40

85.2%

Laois Co. Council

386

357

226

51

92.5%

Leitrim Co. Council

217

159

87

14

73.3%

Limerick Co. Council

711

118

4

35

16.6%

Limerick City Council

283

156

0

9

55.1%

Longford Co. Council

205

157

93

16

76.6%

Louth Co. Council

581

171

35

24

29.4%

Mayo Co. Council

620

381

131

23

61.5%

Meath Co. Council

720

211

81

89

29.3%

Monaghan Co. Council

320

273

140

35

85.3%

Offaly Co. Council

300

201

125

27

67.0%

Roscommon Co.Council

445

374

286

28

84.0%

Sligo Co. Council

291

216

120

21

74.2%

Tipperary (NR) Council

306

180

96

11

58.8%

Tipperary (SR) Council

424

266

130

24

62.7%

Waterford City. Council

180

94

29

22

52.2%

Waterford Co. Council

537

380

317

23

70.8%

Westmeath Co. Council

390

248

0

35

63.6%

Wexford Co. Council

494

247

123

31

50.0%

Wicklow Co. Council

776

507

159

53

65.3%

VECs

New Applications Received

New Applications where Processing is Complete*

New Payments Made**

New Applications Refused

% of New Applications Processed

Co. Carlow VEC

267

252

67

10

94.4%

Co. Cavan VEC

1,115

291

166

46

26.1%

Co. Clare VEC

1,202

632

195

118

52.6%

Co. Cork VEC

2,464

295

0

58

12.0%

City of Cork VEC

1,116

551

78

156

49.4%

Co. Donegal VEC

2,032

777

340

123

38.2%

City of Dublin VEC

2,543

1,274

198

396

50.1%

Co. Dublin VEC

2,708

569

49

150

21.0%

Dun Laoghaire VEC

355

238

78

55

67.0%

City of Galway VEC

583

476

174

47

81.6%

Co. Galway VEC

1,873

866

89

83

46.2%

Co. Kerry VEC

1,781

1092

364

159

61.3%

Co. Kildare VEC

1,286

492

0

108

38.3%

Co. Kilkenny VEC

812

458

131

72

56.4%

Co. Laois VEC

696

361

84

48

51.9%

Co. Leitrim VEC

397

279

65

22

70.3%

City of Limerick VEC

552

371

0

57

67.2%

Co. Limerick VEC

976

404

87

71

41.4%

Co. Longford VEC

708

480

152

76

67.8%

Co. Louth VEC

1,030

628

144

92

61.0%

Co. Mayo VEC

1,513

444

108

9

29.3%

Co. Meath VEC

1,281

687

66

128

53.6%

Co. Monaghan VEC

830

577

158

83

69.5%

Co. Offaly VEC

733

502

67

78

68.5%

Co. Roscommon VEC

800

586

222

73

73.3%

Co. Sligo VEC

914

220

89

10

24.1%

Co. Tipperary NR VEC

911

505

202

95

55.4%

Co. Tipperary SR VEC

791

551

176

45

69.7%

Co. Waterford VEC

499

284

75

43

56.9%

City of Waterford VEC

565

123

65

20

21.8%

Co. Westmeath VEC

906

607

135

123

67.0%

Co. Wexford VEC

1,750

716

372

215

40.9%

Co. Wicklow VEC

1,019

435

94

68

42.7%

*New Applications where Processing is Complete — refers to the number of new applications which were awarded, refused, transferred or cancelled. It does not include a figure for where documentation is outstanding or where processing has yet to commence.

**New Payments Made — under the VECs refer to the number of payments to new applicants under the VEC and PLC schemes. It does not include the number paid under the TLT scheme which are paid directly by the institutions being attended.

Information from Limerick City Co, Clare VEC, Kildare VEC, Tipperary South Co Co, Waterford Co Co and Wexford VEC refers to week ending 05.11.10.

This information has been supplied to the Department by the local authorities and the Vocational Education Committees.

School Placement

David Stanton

Ceist:

98 Deputy David Stanton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 218 of 29 September 2010 the further progress made by her Department regarding the provision of additional second level school places in the east Cork area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41377/10]

As I have previously outlined to the Deputy, the Forward Planning Section of my Department is in the process of analysing all areas in the country in order to determine the level of additional provision which will be required at both primary and post primary level up to 2017. Overall post-primary requirements in the East Cork area will be considered in this context.

The delivery of any extra provision required following those deliberations will be considered in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme.

School Staffing

Seymour Crawford

Ceist:

99 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the discussions she has had with the representatives of the privately run Protestant secondary schools, especially in the Border areas, regarding the cuts that were imposed on them by her; if she will ensure that these smaller rural schools will be provided with sufficient funds and structures to allow them maintain a proper level of staffing; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41088/10]

I wish to assure the Deputy that I am committed to supporting education in schools under Protestant management, while at the same time ensuring that funding arrangements are in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. In this regard, I had a useful meeting with Protestant educational representatives on 9 September last. At the conclusion of that meeting, we agreed to continue our discussions on funding issues pertaining to Protestant fee-charging schools. Since then, my officials have had further meetings with the educational representatives and will continue to do so. I am committed to continuing this engagement with members of the Protestant community, as I believe that these issues are best resolved collaboratively.

Tourism Statistics

Jimmy Deenihan

Ceist:

100 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Taoiseach if she has had discussions with the Central Statistics Office and the Department of Finance with a view to reaching staffing arrangements which will allow a return to the monthly publication of tourism visitor numbers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41532/10]

No communications have taken place between the Central Statistics Office and the Department of Finance regarding enumerator numbers employed at Irish sea and airports. However, the CSO met with representatives from the Dept. Tourism, Culture & Sport, Tourism Ireland, Failte Ireland and the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation on October 28th last to ascertain minimum stakeholder requirements. CSO is not currently in a position to meet all stakeholder requirements, but at this meeting a number of changes were agreed upon to improve the level of service available within the current constraints.

Departmental Expenditure

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

101 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Taoiseach if he will provide an itemised list of payments made to external solicitors and to external barristers whose services were procured directly by the Department and by each agency and body under its aegis in the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010; the reason for each such procurement and if such services were procured through competitive tendering processes in every instance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41053/10]

The table details all payments made to external solicitors and barristers whose services were procured directly by my Department or by agencies or bodies under its aegis, in the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010, the reason for such procurement and details of the procurement procedure completed in each case:

The Commission of Investigation (Dublin and Monaghan Bombings 1974)

Year

External Solicitor/ External Barrister

Amount

Reason for Procurement

Details of Procurement process completed

Jan-March 2007

Patrick MacEntee SC

229,900.00

Mr. MacEntee SC was the Sole member of the Commission of Investigation

N/A

Jan-March 2007

Felix McEnroy SC

50,127.90

Mr. McEnroy SC assisted Patrick MacEntee SC in carrying out his work in relation to the Commission of Investigation

N/A

2007

Éanna Hickey

406.56

Legal services rendered in respect of the Commission of Investigation

N/A

2008

Éanna Hickey

1,426.59

Legal services rendered in respect of the Independent Commission of Inquiry into Dublin, Monaghan and Dundalk bombings

N/A

NESF

Year

External Solicitor/ External Barrister

Amount

Reason for Procurement

Details of Procurement process completed

2007

Mason Hayes Curran

4,446.75

Legal advice re considerations surrounding mental health employment law for the NESF Report on Mental Health and Social Inclusion

YES

2008

Mason Hayes Curran

9,081.38

Legal advice re a recruitment issue

YES

NESDO

Year

External Solicitor/ External Barrister

Amount

Reason for Procurement

Details of Procurement process completed

2007

Mason Hayes Curran

8,288.50

Advice concerning implications of NESDO Act

YES

2007

Mason Hayes Curran

7,773.17

Legal advice re employment law

YES

2007

Mason Hayes Curran

3,574.09

Legal advice re public procurement

YES

2007

Mason Hayes Curran

2,627.25

Legal advice on procurement considerations re Futures Ireland Project

YES

2008

Mason Hayes Curran

336.50

Legal advice re procurement of NESDO IT System

YES

NESC

Year

External Solicitor/ External Barrister

Amount

Reason for Procurement

Details of Procurement process completed

2008

Mason Hayes Curran

841.25

Legal advice on a Memorandum of Undestanding

YES

NCPP

Year

External Solicitor/ External Barrister

Amount

Reason for Procurement

Details of Procurement process completed

2008

Mason Hayes Curran

7,742.16

Legal advice on National Workplace Surveys contracts for ESRI and Amarach

YES

Departmental Reports

Jimmy Deenihan

Ceist:

102 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Taoiseach the number of reports commissioned by his Department for the years 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; the average cost spent on commissioning, preparing and submitting reports per year from 2004 to 2010, inclusive; the percentage of reports per year whose recommendations were unimplemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41090/10]

The information sought by the Deputy is set out in the table.

Some reports commissioned by my Department have contributed to the development and formulation of Government policy and planning by providing analysis and feedback in areas such as better regulation, quality customer service, pensions and the annuities market. Recommendations are being implemented as appropriate.

Other reports have focussed on my Department's internal systems and procedures while there have also been a number of surveys of civil service customers and my Department's staff.

Year

Reports commissioned

Average cost of commissioning, preparing and submitting reports

2004

1. Redress for Civil Service Customers — International Approaches

50,510

2. Reports for EU Presidency Conference — the Contribution of Better Regulation to Social Progress and Quantifying the Impacts of Regulation

2005

1. Report on Affordable Housing

29,519

2. Irish Civil Service Customer Satisfaction Survey 2005

3. Review of the Special Initiatives under Sustaining Progress

4. Usability & Accessibility Review of Department’s Websites

2006*

1. Irish Civil Service Business Customer Satisfaction Survey 2006

17,847

2007

1. Review of the Irish Annuities Market

84,356

2. Evaluation of Customer Charters

3. ERSI Business Regulation Survey

4. Employee Opinion Survey

2008

1. Report on the Review of the Operation of Regulatory Impact Analysis

108,686

2. Report on the Review of the Economic Regulatory Environment

3. A Regulatory Impact Analysis of the Transposition of the Optional Pensions Provisions of the Transfer of Undertakings Directive

4. Knowledge Management Report -To advise the Department on Knowledge Management principles

5. Evaluate and present a report on virtualisation options for eCabinet System

2009

1. Survey of Civil Service General Public Customers

46,117

2. Garda Boundaries Realignment Project

3. Irish Civil Service Business Satisfaction Survey

*The report by the OECD of the Irish Public Service "Towards an Integrated Public Service" has not been included in the table. In this case the Government made an additional contribution towards the work of the OECD of 550,000 rather that a direct payment towards the publication of the Report. This is in keeping with the OECD’s status as an international organisation funded by member state contributions and by additional voluntary contributions towards projects in which countries have a particular interest.

Telecommunications Services

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

103 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Taoiseach if his Department operates any number utilising the lo-call designation, 1890; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that use of this number can impose additional costs on mobile phone users; if he will ensure that where such numbers are advertised in the press, online or in literature that this additional cost is noted, and that a standard geographic phone number is also given; if this is not currently done, if he will ensure that this will be done; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41247/10]

My Department operates Lo-Call 1890 (non geographic) numbers, in addition to standard geographic numbers. A note to the effect that rates charged for the use of the 1890 (LoCall) numbers may vary among different service providers is included on my Department's website and telephone directory entries. My Department is taking steps to ensure that this note is included in all other applicable literature.

Daylight Savings Time

Olivia Mitchell

Ceist:

104 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Taoiseach the cost in man hours, of changing clocks from summer time to winter time and vice versa in public buildings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41736/10]

The Office of Public Works carries out this task on my Department's behalf and their records indicate that the cost in man hours of changing clocks from summer time to winter time and vice versa is six hours.

FÁS Training Programmes

John Cregan

Ceist:

105 Deputy John Cregan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the reason single participants on FÁS schemes are being deducted 5.5% from their weekly income when the original deduction was meant to be 4.1% for all FÁS participants. [41524/10]

As outlined in the table, Community Employment (CE) scheme participant standard payments are made up of the individual's social welfare entitlement and a participation bonus. The Jobseeker's Allowance was reduced by 4.1% and the participation bonus by 18% in the December 2009 budget.

However, CE participants continue to receive a €20 per week participation bonus over the Jobseeker's Allowance while gaining worthwhile work experience and certified training customised to their individual needs, as identified through their Individual Learning Plan (currently amounting to €500 p.a., per participant for relevant training). In addition, the CE Return to Education budget provides additional funds to enable participants to improve their basic literacy and numeracy skills.

Social Welfare Element

Participation Bonus Element

Total

CE Allowance 2009

€204.30

€24.40

€228.70

CE Allowance 2010

€196.00

€20.00

€216.00

% Change

4.1%

18.0%

5.6%

European Globalisation Fund

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

106 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if a person (details supplied) in County Limerick will qualify for funding under the European Globalisation Fund. [41530/10]

The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) application approved in support of redundant workers at the DELL computer manufacturing plant in Raheen, Co. Limerick also encompasses redundant workers at a number of ancillary enterprises. Only workers of those specific enterprises, and who meet all relevant EGF criteria, are eligible for EGF co-financed supports in the areas of training, upskilling, educational opportunities and enterprise supports.

The company with whom the person in question was employed is not one of the ancillary enterprises encompassed by the approved EGF application. As such no former employee of this company is eligible for EGF co-financed support. This position was communicated to the person in question by my Department last month.

Departmental Bodies

Ruairí Quinn

Ceist:

107 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the restructuring of FÁS; when the board of FÁS is expected to present a new blueprint for the future direction of the agency to her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41461/10]

The reorganisation and reform of FÁS and of the State's provision of training and employment services is a process that I initiated over a year ago.

The first phase involved the putting in place of a stronger board and corporate governance structure in FÁS and this was provided for in the Labour Services (Amendment Act), 2010.

The second phase, announced by the Taoiseach, involves the division of responsibility for training and employment programmes and services between the newly mandated Departments of Education and Skills and Social Protection. These changes will improve the delivery of employment, training and community services to the public by bringing together related responsibilities in these areas.

The Employment Programmes and Services and Skills Training (Transfer of Departmental Administration and Ministerial Functions) Order of 2010, which came into force on 1 May 2010, provided for the reallocation of responsibility for FÁS as an Agency and its related funding from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation to the Department of Education and Skills.

The Department of Social Protection will, following the commencement of the relevant sections of the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2010, assume funding and overall responsibility of FÁS employment services and employment programmes.

The Social Welfare and Pensions Bill, 2010, which is due to be published shortly, will provide for the full transfer of FÁS employment services and employment programmes to the Department of Social Protection and this would include the transfer of relevant FÁS staff, property, land as well as certain rights and responsibilities to that Department. This will amend the Labour Services Act, 1987.

In the period between the commencement of the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2010 and the commencement of the relevant sections of the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill, 2010, a Service Level Agreement (SLA) will be put in place between the Department of Social Protection and FÁS.

Officials from my Department, FÁS and the Department of Social Protection are working closely together to advance this agenda.

The third phase involves the re-structuring and re-mandating of FÁS as a world-class skills and training provider. I met with the Board of FÁS this morning to discuss its proposal for a new training agency. Work has commenced on this process and will continue in tandem with the integration of the employment programmes and employment services into the Department of Social Protection.

School Curriculum

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

108 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills her views on the proposal from an organisation to make transition year a community service year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41043/10]

The key aim of the Transition Year Programme is to provide for a strong focus on personal development, collaborative and experiential learning, learning in the community and work experience. The programme is also designed to enable students to experience a wide range of educational inputs, and sample subjects which have not been taken at lower second level. It is a maturing process and a chance to engage in group work, project work and self directed learning. Schools are free to devise a flexible modular programme within an overall framework set out by the Department of Education and Science. Within this context, there is scope within the social outreach aspects of the programme for initiatives such as engaging with the elderly to be pursued. Initiatives promoting inter generational solidarity have been provided in the past in programmes such as Transition Year, and some 6000 students annually take part in the Young Social Innovators Programme. Within the overall framework set out by the Department for Transition Year, decisions on the format and content of the programme to be offered are made locally by schools, and this will continue to be case. I am satisfied that there are key benefits from promoting inter-generational solidarity and co-operation in a way which meets social awareness and communications objectives of the Transition Year Programme. However, it is also important that schools have the flexibility to provide for school based innovation and creativity in the development of the programme. Organisations wishing to promote initiatives in this area are welcome to arrange for the development of Transition Units, using the module descriptor format which has been developed by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment for this purpose. These can be progressed in consultation with the NCCA and the Co-ordinator of the Transition Year Programme within the Professional Development Service for Teachers.

Residential Institutions Redress Board

Kathleen Lynch

Ceist:

109 Deputy Kathleen Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No 104 of 27 October 2010, the date and publications in the UK in which the Residential Institutions Redress Board placed advertisements; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41069/10]

Having sought information from the Residential Institutions Redress Board, I can advise the Deputy that between 2002 and 2005, as well as distributing 7,500 leaflets and 7,500 pamphlets to the network of Irish Societies, and holding 12 information days throughout England, the Board placed advertisements in the selected U.K. publications listed in April and November 2004, July 2005 and November 2005.

London Evening Standard

Birmingham Evening News

Manchester Evening News

Liverpool Echo

Glasgow Evening Times

Glasgow Herald

Edinburgh Evening News

Edinburgh Herald & Post

Scottish Daily Record

News of the World

Mail on Sunday

Sunday Mirror

Irish Post

Irish World

Belfast Telegraph

Irish News

Belfast Newsletter

TOTAL 68 entries

Departmental Expenditure

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

110 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the reason for her recent notification that a facility (details supplied) is to be closed by her Department; if she has assessed the impact on the members of the club; if she will indicate the savings this will generate and her plans for this building if it is vacated. [41095/10]

My Department has recently concluded its examination of the long term use of the building referred to by the Deputy and has determined that it is not going to continue with the operation of the facility. Accordingly, the Board of Management were advised that in the circumstances it would be appropriate to make the Caretaker post in respect of the facility redundant. I am advised that as part of the examination of the operation of the facility, it is both the Department and the school authorities understanding that the facility is used on a pay per play basis with their being no membership fees, no club officers nor rules/constitution that would normally be expected of a Club. I am advised that to date expenditure this year, including salaries and running costs, comes to approximately €47,000. In terms of the future use of the building, further consultations with the school authorities will be required.

Site Acquisitions

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

111 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the progress that has been made in acquiring a site for permanent buildings for a school (details supplied) in Dublin 15; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41133/10]

My Department is awaiting contracts from Fingal County Council. Once this acquisition is concluded, the proposed building project will be considered in the context of the capital budget available to my Department for school buildings generally.

Schools Building Projects

Emmet Stagg

Ceist:

112 Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 53 of 14 October 2010, and given that agreement has been reached with Naas Town Council on the purchase of a site, if she will now approve the appointment of a design team for a school (details supplied) in Naas, County Kildare. [41155/10]

My Department is awaiting contracts from the Council for the acquisition of a site in the Naas area for future educational use. Pending the acquisition of this site, the Deputy will appreciate that I am not in a position to comment further.

Telecommunications Services

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

113 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if schools and third level institutions can avail of the e-government tariff for telephone bills; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41185/10]

All non commercial bodies including all bodies and agencies in the education sector can avail of the Government's Fixed Voice and Voice over IP Framework agreement for the supply of Fixed Voice and Voice over IP Communications and Associated Products & Services. Information is available on the Department of Finance website at http://ictprocurement.gov.ie My Department understands that a number of schools and third level institutions have availed of the framework to date.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

114 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills when the census of primary school class sizes for 2010 will be available; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41198/10]

The collection and processing of the National School Annual Census forms is currently taking place. Class size data for the 2010/2011 school year will be published on September 1st 2011.

Schools Building Projects

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

115 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills when she will facilitate a meeting between the school building section in Tullamore and the board and principal of a school (details supplied) in Dublin 15 who are keen to advance their redevelopment project; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41199/10]

The project referred to by the Deputy is currently at an early stage of Architectural Planning. Officials from my Department have recently been in contact with the school authority and correspondence has issued requesting some additional information. Upon receipt of this information, my Department officials will liaise directly with the school and it's design team and, if necessary, a project development meeting with the school and it's design team will be arranged.

FÁS Training Programmes

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

116 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of persons in permanent employment with FÁS; the number directly employed in the position of training instructor directs; the number that were employed in administration indirects; the number that were employed in management roles indirects; the number of additional part-time, and or temporary staff employed in management and or administration; the number of training centres that were operated to full capacity by location and numbers for each such centre; the number of classrooms and workshops that were or are idle in each such FÁS centre by location for each such year and on the following dates 1 October 2010, 1 October 2009 and 1 October 2008 in tabular form. [41205/10]

The information requested by the Deputy is being researched. I will respond to him substantively as soon as possible.

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

117 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of qualified, experienced training instructors that have been transferred from training to administration duties over the past 12 months. [41206/10]

The information requested by the Deputy is being researched. I will respond to him substantively as soon as possible.

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

118 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of private training contractors currently engaged by FÁS compared to 2008 and 2009 figures. [41207/10]

The information requested by the Deputy is being researched. I will respond to him substantively as soon as possible.

School Staffing

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

119 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of special needs assistants employed in primary, special and post-primary schools in Dublin city and county in each of the past five years to date in 2010; the number of special needs pupils benefiting in the area in each of those years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41222/10]

The information requested by the Deputy on the number of special needs assistants employed in primary, special and post primary schools in Dublin City and County is not readily available. The number of Special Needs Assistants employed nationally in each of the past five years and on 30th September 2010 is available in the following table. The details for each of the past five years are the December figures for the year in question. The primary schools information is inclusive of the special schools details. As the Deputy may be aware, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) took over responsibility for processing resource applications for children with disabilities who have special educational needs in 2005. Under these arrangements, the NCSE, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) process applications from schools for additional supports such as teaching and Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support at primary and post primary level. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. SNAs are allocated to schools to enable them to support pupils with disabilities who also have significant care needs. The allocation for any school and any adjustments to that allocation depends on a number of factors such as the number of pupils with care/medical needs leaving, the number of new pupils and the changing needs of the pupils. While SNA posts may be allocated to schools in line with my Department's criteria, SNA posts may also be adjusted where a child may leave or move school, or may achieve a greater level of independence. The National Council for Special Education may be able to assist the Deputy with information regarding the number of special needs pupils benefitting nationally. I wish to confirm for the Deputy that my Department is very supportive of the SNA scheme. It has been a key factor in both ensuring the successful integration of children with special educational needs into mainstream education and providing support to pupils enrolled in special schools and special classes.

Number of Special Needs Assistants

Year

Number of Special Needs Assistants in Primary schools

Number of Special Needs Assistants in Post Primary Schools, including VECs.

2005

6,273

1,021

2006

6,974

1,416

2007

8,038

1,786

2008

8,440

2,002

2009

8,392

1,950

30/09/2010

8,141

2,065

Telecommunications Services

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

120 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if her Department operates any number utilising the lo-call designation, 1890; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that use of this number can impose additional costs on mobile phone users; if she will ensure that where such numbers are advertised in the press, on-line or in literature that this additional cost is noted, and that a standard geographic phone number is also given; if this is not currently done, if she will ensure that this will be done; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41239/10]

My Department does not operate any number/s utilising the Lo-Call designation, 1890.

Schools Amalgamation

Jimmy Deenihan

Ceist:

121 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the amalgamation of schools (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41256/10]

In 2004, agreement to amalgamate was reached by the two primary schools in the area referred to by the Deputy. Due to accommodation concerns the amalgamation did not progress at that time. A technical inspection was carried out on the existing school buildings to determine which would be suitable to accommodate the amalgamated school. The report following this inspection concluded that neither of the locations would be suitable. The progression of this building project and the acquisition of a site required to facilitate the amalgamation, will be considered in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. However, in light of current competing demands on the capital budget of my Department, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of the project at this time.

Question No. 122 answered with Question No. 91.

School Curriculum

Mary Upton

Ceist:

123 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will identify schools where the provision of arts needs to be upgraded; if she is will install a programme to provide recent arts graduates a contract to work in these schools, to ensure that every child has access to arts during school; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36710/10]

Arts education (visual arts, music and drama) is one of the seven curriculum areas that comprise the primary curriculum, which was revised in 1999. Therefore all primary school children have access to an arts programme. At second level there are approved syllabuses for Junior Certificate in Music and Art, Craft and Design. In the senior cycle there are syllabuses in Music and Art. Modules in the Arts are also available as part of the Leaving Certificate Applied. In the Transition Year programme, schools offer a variety of modules which stimulate pupils' interest in the Arts in general and which, in many cases, give them the opportunity to interact with practising artists in their own classrooms and in other contexts. In addition to supporting curricular provision for the arts at primary and second level, my Department aids the arts through the provision of some 68,000 teaching hours to a number of schools of music operated by VECs and through co-operation (teaching) hours to VECs which support work with other institutions. In addition, two Music Education Partnerships are funded in Donegal and Dublin City VECs. A further initiative in Music for young people of school age will shortly be launched by Music Generation, a subsidiary company of Music Network, supported by donations from U2 and the Ireland Funds. The Artists in School Guidelines, developed jointly by the Arts Council and my Department, and issued to all schools in 2006, are an important resource in informing schools of how best to plan, implement and evaluate partnerships with local artists and organisations which will provide stimulating and interesting learning experiences for children. This type of initiative could be further strengthened through work experience programmes in schools for arts graduates. The Public Service Agreement 2010-14 provides that there will be full support in the Civil Service and State agencies for programmes and initiatives to support and assist the unemployed, including the FÁS Work Placement Programme. It should be noted that the FAS scheme is structured on the basis of applications being made to FAS directly by those offering a work placement. The programme has been made available to VECs and higher education institutions. Arrangements for schools to participate in the programme are currently under consideration.

Question No. 124 answered with Question No. 82.

Special Educational Needs

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

125 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of general assessments and reviews of the provision of education and related support services to children with disabilities which have been performed by the National Council for Special Education; the detail and recommendations of each report; if the council had performed a review of the implementation of the EPSEN Act 2004 or if she has any plans to do so; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41404/10]

As the Deputy will be aware, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), for allocating resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support.

I have arranged for the matter raised by the Deputy regarding reviews undertaken by the NCSE to be forwarded to them for their attention and direct reply in this regard.

The Deputy will be aware that the Renewed Programme for Government commits to the development of a costed multi-annual plan to implement some priority aspects of the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN) Act, 2004, focussing on measurable, practical progress in education and health services for children with special needs. All parts of the EPSEN legislation, which have not been commenced to date, will be considered during this process. This process requires consultation with the education partners as well as the Health Service Executive (HSE), the Department of Health and Children (DoHC) and the NCSE.

FÁS Training Programmes

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

126 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if participants on FÁS training courses are provided with lunchtime refreshments free of charge by the training agency; if she will provide details of same; the amount that has been spent on refreshments in this regard during each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41424/10]

The information requested by the Deputy is being researched. I will respond to him substantively as soon as possible.

School Placement

Arthur Morgan

Ceist:

127 Deputy Arthur Morgan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of secondary school places in Navan; if any secondary school pupils have been directed away from Navan areas due to lack of places; the number of secondary school pupils that have been directed away from Navan areas because of lack of places; the additional secondary school space provision planned for each of the next four years; the number of secondary school pupils seeking places that are anticipated for each of the next four years; if she will provide this information in tabular form for all secondary schools in the Navan area; the general position on secondary school education provision in Navan; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41440/10]

There are 4 post primary schools serving the Navan area, with a combined enrolment of 2,556 pupils in the 2009/10 school year. Enrolments at post-primary level in Navan have increased in recent years. These post-primary schools serve up to 20 primary feeder schools. Based on the numbers feeding through from the primary feeder schools it would appear that enrolments will continue to increase in the short to medium term. The Forward Planning Section of my Department is in the process of analysing all areas in the country in order to determine the level of additional provision which will be required at both primary and post primary level up to 2017. Overall accommodation requirements in the Navan area will be considered in this regard. The progression of all large scale building projects arising from Forward Planning Section's analysis will be considered in the context of my Department's School Building and Modernisation Programme.

Schools Building Projects

Ulick Burke

Ceist:

128 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of school projects at primary and second level announced to go to construction during 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009; the number of each that have been completed; the cost of capital expenditure for each of the years; the amount in each allocation that was spent on pre-fabricated buildings; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41452/10]

In 2009, there were 37 projects for primary schools and 16 projects for post-primary schools announced to progress to tender and construction. Of these, 10 primary projects and 1 post-primary project have reached practical completion. A further 30 projects are currently under construction of which 19 are primary projects and 11 are post-primary projects. There are 9 projects at tender stage, of which 6 are primary projects and 3 are post-primary. The remaining 3 projects, 2 of which are primary and 1 post-primary are currently progressing through architectural planning. The overall capital expenditure for primary schools in 2009 was 328.9 million euro. The overall capital expenditure for post-primary schools in 2009 was 197 million euro. In 2009, the overall expenditure on purchase of temporary accommodation for primary schools was 12.2 million euro. In the same year (2009), the overall expenditure on purchase of temporary accommodation for post-primary schools was 3.8 million euro. In 2008, there were 65 projects for primary schools and 8 projects for post-primary schools announced to progress to tender and construction. Of these, 49 primary projects and 5 post-primary projects have reached practical completion. A further 14 projects are currently under construction of which 11 are primary projects and 3 are post-primary. There are 3 projects at tender stage, all of which are primary projects. The remaining 2 projects, both primary, are progressing through architectural planning. The overall capital expenditure for primary schools in 2008 was 488.8 million euro. The overall capital expenditure for post-primary schools in 2008 was 155.3 million euro. In 2008, the overall expenditure on purchase of temporary accommodation for primary schools was 17.4 million euro. In the same year (2008), the overall expenditure on purchase of temporary accommodation for post-primary schools was 3.4 million euro. In 2007, there were no primary school projects and 22 post-primary school projects announced to progress to tender and construction. Information in respect of these projects is currently being compiled and will shortly be forwarded to the Deputy. The overall capital expenditure for primary schools in 2007 was 398.6 million euro. The overall capital expenditure for post-primary schools in 2007 was 247.5 million euro. In 2007, the overall expenditure on purchase of temporary accommodation for primary schools was 1.9 million euro. In the same year (2007), the overall expenditure on purchase of temporary accommodation for post-primary schools was 2.5 million euro. In 2006, there were 99 primary school projects and 10 post-primary school projects announced to progress to tender and construction. Information in respect of these projects is currently being compiled and will shortly be forwarded to the Deputy. The overall capital expenditure for primary schools in 2006 was 244.9 million euro. The overall capital expenditure for post-primary schools in 2006 was 249.5 million euro. In 2006, the overall expenditure on purchase of temporary accommodation for primary schools was 2.2 million euro. In the same year (2006), the overall expenditure on purchase of temporary accommodation for post-primary schools was 1.2 million euro. In 2005, there were 89 primary school projects and 33 post-primary school projects announced to progress to tender and construction. Information in respect of these projects is currently being compiled and will shortly be forwarded to the Deputy. The overall capital expenditure for primary schools in 2005 was 266.7 million euro. The overall capital expenditure for post-primary schools in 2005 was 234.6 million euro. In 2005, the overall expenditure on purchase of temporary accommodation for primary schools was 4.4 million euro. In the same year (2005), the overall expenditure on purchase of temporary accommodation for post-primary schools was 2 million euro.

Question No. 129 answered with Question No. 97.

School Transport

Ulick Burke

Ceist:

130 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if the report on school transport will recommend the abolition of the school catchment areas as at present structured; if she will abolish the concessionary requirements or if she will re-draw the catchment boundaries to take into account the population changes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41454/10]

As the Deputy is aware, the School Transport scheme was approved by Government as a topic for inclusion as part of the 2009-2011 round of Value for Money Reviews. This review looked at the original objectives of the scheme, whether these objectives remain valid today, the extent to which the objectives are being achieved, and whether there are possibilities for economies or efficiencies that would improve the value for money of the scheme. In this context, the review also looked at fundamental issues such as eligibility criteria and catchment boundaries, with a view to achieving efficiencies and value for money in the Scheme. While the report of the Value for Money Review of the School Transport Scheme, which will outline the recommendations of the Steering Committee on catchment boundaries, has recently been finalised, it is to be considered by Government in advance of publication.

Mature Student Allowance Schemes

Ulick Burke

Ceist:

131 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will take responsibility for the processing of the back to education and mature students allowance schemes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41455/10]

The Department of Social Protection administers various schemes that allow individuals to return to full-time or part-time education while continuing to receive income support. The study programmes which they can undertake range from basic foundation courses through to third level postgraduate courses. There are no plans to transfer income support based schemes to my Department.

My Department has no mature student allowance schemes. However, my Department funds four grant schemes for students attending third level and Post Leaving Certificate courses. Students who meet the prescribed conditions of funding including those which relate to age, residence, means, nationality and previous academic attainment are eligible to receive support. Mature students can apply to have their eligibility for a grant assessed under these schemes.

Teacher Training

Ulick Burke

Ceist:

132 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of students at training colleges here and participating in Hibernian College’s programme for primary teacher qualifications; the number that graduated each year since 2005; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41456/10]

The demand for primary teachers is influenced by a number of factors including: the application of the agreed staffing schedule; demographic trends; the number of teachers opting to take career breaks or to retire; the number of secondments approved, and so on. The level of student intake to the Colleges of Education is determined annually taking into account these factors as well as available resources.

There are currently 3,769 students participating in undergraduate and postgraduate programmes to become primary school teachers in the State Funded Colleges of Education. Hibernia College have indicated that approximately 1,050 students, from three separate course intakes, are currently registered on the Higher Diploma in Arts in Primary Education. The graduate numbers from the State funded Colleges of Education and Hibernia College are shown in the table.

Graduates

State Colleges

Hibernia

2005

1,257

394

2006

1,198

469

2007

1,254

483

2008

1,358

494

2009

1,513

532

2010

1,552

647

Special Educational Needs

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

133 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will deal with a matter (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41489/10]

As the Deputy will be aware, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), for allocating resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support.

Schools apply to their local SENO for SNA resources as new pupils who would qualify for such support are enrolled or as the changing care needs of existing pupils emerge. The allocation for any school and any adjustments to that allocation depends on a number of factors such as the number of pupils with care/medical needs leaving, the number of new pupils and the changing needs of the pupils. While SNA posts may be allocated to schools in line with my Department's criteria, SNA posts may also be suppressed where a child may leave or move school, or may achieve a greater level of independence.

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

Schools Utilities

Ulick Burke

Ceist:

134 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will consider grant aid to schools for the provision of rain water harvesting and the provision of an appropriate wind turbine to supply power to large schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41496/10]

Rainwater harvesting systems were first introduced for major school building projects in 2008. Since then all major school building projects, where site conditions and circumstances allow and where economically viable to do so, can incorporate a rainwater harvesting system into their brief. While fitting the systems in new schools during construction is relatively straightforward, retrofitting them in existing schools is much more difficult and expensive because of the various dedicated pipe work systems both within the building and externally underground and the amount of making good work that is required in each instance.

For existing buildings it is more cost effective to minimise the demand for water firstly through installing measures to reduce water usage such as push type spray taps, low flushing toilets, urinal controls, repairing leaks etc. To this end, as part of the Summer Works Scheme 2010, schools were invited to apply for Water Conservation measures and I recently announced a list of schools whose applications under this scheme were successful. This list is also available on my Department's website, www.education.ie.

The application of wind energy schemes in schools has been explored by my Department and the results indicate that given the scale of application to match demand and capacity in a meaningful way, schools are better to connect to one of the main wind energy electrical suppliers to maximise the potential of green electricity. It must be remembered that a sustainable solution involves the matching of a sustainable resource with the end users' needs and not just the application of the resource. The situation with regard to wind energy is kept under review given improvements in technology and in the market place.

School Transport

Ulick Burke

Ceist:

135 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will consider further extending the use of the school bus fleet during the hours between morning collection and evening return collection. [41497/10]

One of the main objectives of the school transport scheme is to provide a basic level of service for children who live long distances from school and who might otherwise experience difficulty in attending regularly. The school transport scheme which is operated by Bus Éireann on my Department's behalf is a very significant national operation involving about 42 million journeys and over 82 million kilometres on 6,000 routes every school year. The service is delivered using a mix of Bus Éireann, both school transport and road passenger vehicles, private contractor vehicles including private operator scheduled services, and Dublin Bus, Irish Rail, DART and LUAS where practical.

In line with the Programme for Government, my Department in consultation with Bus Eireann and other Departments is actively considering how vehicles which provide services under the School Transport Scheme could feasibly be utilised to provide other services that would benefit the wider community after children have been brought to school in the morning and before they are collected from school in the afternoon. Consideration of such arrangements will not impinge, however, on the core function of the scheme, namely the provision of school transport for families availing of transport under the School Transport Scheme or the standard of these services.

Third Level Access

Ulick Burke

Ceist:

136 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of students participating at third level who have entered through access programmes at first year, second year, and third year in courses involved at university, institute or other educational institutions or training centres; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41498/10]

14 Higher Education institutes participate in the Higher Education Access Route programme (HEAR) for students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Details of students enrolled through this programmes for the 2008/09, 2009/10 and 2010/11 academic years are set out below. Data on retention rates is not currently available. In addition, many Institutes of Technology have access programmes but the Higher Education Authority has advised that information on levels of enrolment through those programmes is not readily available.

2010 Entry HEAR: 1,009 Acceptances [1,294 Offers]

2009 Entry HEAR: 682 Acceptances [871 Offers]

2008 Entry HEAR: 682 Acceptances [871 Offers]

Special Educational Needs

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

137 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will investigate a matter (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41509/10]

Procedures for the appointment of Special Needs Assistants (SNA) are set out in Department Circulars 05/2001 and SNA 03/03. These Circulars specify that the minimum qualification necessary for appointment as an SNA is an award of Grade D (or pass) in Irish, English and Mathematics in the Intermediate Certificate/Junior Certificate or Day Vocational Certificate Examination or in an examination of equivalent standard. In this context, a qualification of equivalent standard is any qualification at Level 3 or higher on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) established by the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI), provided that the qualification, or a combination of such qualifications, certifies to the achievement of a minimum of a pass in the subjects Irish, English and Mathematics. With regard to the means by which a person may attain the necessary educational requirements, local education service providers (e.g. Vocational Education Committees) may be able to assist with access to an appropriate course or courses which will, on successful completion, lead to an award of the required standard.

Departmental Bodies

Michael Ring

Ceist:

138 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills, further to her recent announcement regarding the replacement of FÁS with a new State training agency early next year, the effect this will have on participants who are currently partaking in FÁS schemes and if these courses will remain in place. [41513/10]

Michael Ring

Ceist:

139 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills, further to her recent announcement regarding the replacement of FÁS with a new State training agency early next year, if the current practice that those eligible to remain on FÁS schemes for a further six years if over 55 will remain the practice. [41515/10]

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

The Employment Programmes and Services and Skills Training (Transfer of Departmental Administration and Ministerial Functions) Order of 2010, which came into force on 1 May 2010, provided for the reallocation of responsibility for FÁS as an Agency and its funding related to training and skills from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation to my Department. Responsibility for the employment service and community service activities of FÁS and its related funding has also transferred to my Department on an interim basis.

The Department of Social Protection will, following the commencement of the relevant sections of the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2010, assume funding and overall responsibility of FÁS employment services and employment programmes including Community Employment. The Board of FÁS has recently submitted its proposal for a new Agency and is working with my Department to further develop and enhance the proposal in order to create an agency that provides high quality vocational training so as to deliver a workforce with the practical skills needed by the economy.

Special Educational Needs

Olivia Mitchell

Ceist:

140 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she is aware that despite a meeting with her predecessor and officials from her Department, a school (details supplied) in Dublin 24 has still received no response to its requests for special needs assistant support for pupils admitted in September 2010 and that there has been no recognition of the new autism unit where pupils with challenging behaviour lack vital and promised support and if she will intervene to resolve this ongoing problem. [41562/10]

As the Deputy is aware, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is an independent agency with responsibility for determining the appropriate staffing levels in relation to the support of pupils with special educational needs in all mainstream and special schools. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support and conveys decisions on applications directly to schools without recourse to my Department. The NCSE has advised that it has, within the last week, processed the school's application for additional supports

School Accommodation

Joanna Tuffy

Ceist:

141 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills her plans for a new community college in Ashbourne, County Meath; if she will acknowledge the need for a new secondary school in Ashbourne; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41585/10]

The most recent projections used by my Department would see enrolments at post-primary rise from current levels of c312,200 pupils to between 331,500 and 336,600 pupils by the year 2017. It is within this context that the Forward Planning Section of my Department is in the process of analysing all areas in the country in order to determine the level of additional provision which will be required at post-primary level up to 2017. Overall school accommodation requirements in the Ashbourne area will be fully considered in this regard.

In addition to this I have recently announced the setting up of a new framework in relation to the establishment of new second-level schools and their patronage, whereby an expert Group to be known as the Second-Level Patronage Advisory Group will consider applications for new schools and advise me in relation to those applications, having undertaken survey work of parental views and using the criteria to be set down. The progression of all large scale building projects arising from Forward Planning Section's analysis will be considered in the context of my Department's School Building and Modernisation Programme.

Departmental Agencies

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

142 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the annual budget for FETAC for each of the past four years, and for each of those four years to provide the following information: the number of staff employed and the type of work in which they are engaged including their Civil Service grade; the number of external examiners and authenticators contracted by FETAC for each such year and the cost of their services to FETAC; the number of course providers registered with FETAC for each such year and the extent of the monitoring of providers’ compliance with their quality assurance agreements with FETAC by FETAC staff or others contracted by it to do such monitoring; the number of such course providers removed as a result of such monitoring; the targets set by FETAC for such monitoring for each such year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41594/10]

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

Departmental Programmes

Ruairí Quinn

Ceist:

143 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills with regard to the labour market activation fund administered by her Department, if one of the projects under this fund (details supplied) employs a substantial proportion of staff from the United Kingdom for the purpose of administrating this scheme here; if her Department is satisfied that these staff are qualified in line with her Department’s policies concerning the delivery of career guidance services here; if she is satisfied that this is a worthy use of scarce public moneys; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41597/10]

As part of Budget 2010, the Government announced the creation of a €20 million Labour Market Activation Fund, intended to deliver 3,500 places on training and education programmes for the unemployed. Its objective was to stimulate innovation in the provision of training and activation measures for jobseeker's seeking to up-skill and get back into work. The Fund is being targeted to specific priority groups among the unemployed: the low skilled, and those formerly employed in declining sectors — construction, retail and manufacturing sectors, with particular emphasis on the under 35's and the long-term unemployed. In order to leverage to maximum effect the potential of the market for efficient and value-for-money delivery of full or part-time education and training provision, an open tender competition was launched in March 2010. Some 370 tenders were received from public, private, voluntary and not-for-profit organisations. Offers of funding were initially made to 26 organisations. My Department has subsequently, in August, made funding available to a further 33 projects. This was an EU-wide procurement process and was conducted according to European Union public procurement principles. These require that providers throughout the EU are afforded the opportunity to participate in the competition. Tenders were assessed by an independent Committee of experts, lead by the Chairperson of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs. The Committee included representatives of Enterprise Ireland, the HEA, FAS, Pobal, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and the Department of Education and Skills. TBG Learning were among 26 organisations initially selected for funding. It is a UK-based training provider which has been contracted to provide programmes of 12 weeks duration for 1,500 unemployed people under the Labour Market Activation Fund. The company is wholly owned by the Rehab Group. The JobFit programme includes training elements, such as FETAC level 3 courses in Preparation for Work, work placements with local employers and assistance with searching for a job. TBG has recruited over 80 tutors to deliver its programme nationwide. All were resident in Ireland when recruited, and while they include a number of nationalities, are predominantly Irish citizens. JobFit staff hold a range of qualifications relevant to their roles, and many have worked in Ireland in the community, education, training, voluntary and business sectors. They have a broad range of expertise and understanding of these sectors, and an extensive network of local contacts in the communities in which they work. The capacity to deliver accredited programmes to the unemployed, including components to assist and advise participants in preparing for employment such as career guidance, are elements that would have been take into account in the accreditation of the programme being offered. Therefore, on that basis, I would not have concerns about the provider in this regard. TBG Learning has over 25 years' experience in the UK of providing programmes like JobFit, for people who are unemployed, and seeking to enter or re-enter the workforce. Some 30,000 people benefit each year from the training and support provided by TBG Learning, with 2,500 people walking into jobs, 16,000 people gaining qualifications and others progressing onto further education. I am satisfied that the programme being delivered by this provider represents good use of public monies having regard to all of the elements of the programme including, in particular, the benefits to the participants in terms of acquisition of skills, work experience and a recognised award on completion.

Schools Building Projects

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

144 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the application for large scale capital funding in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Kildare given that application for same was made 11 years ago; her plans to progress same given the long time elapsed since application for same was made by the school and school authorities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41655/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

146 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 177 of 3 June 2010, the position regarding an application for large scale capital funding; her plans to progress same given the long period of time elapsed since application for same was made by the school and school authorities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41657/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

152 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding and progress over the summer period in respect of an application for large scale funding in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41663/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

158 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the progress over the past three months in regard to an application for large scale capital funding by a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; when this matter is likely to proceed given increased demands on the school in question; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41669/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 144, 146, 152 and 158 together.

I can confirm that the schools to which the Deputy refers have made applications to my Department for large scale funding. The applications have been assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria for large scale capital projects and assigned an appropriate band rating. Information in respect of the current school building programme, along with assessed applications for major capital works, including the projects referred to by the Deputy, is available on my Department's website at www.education.ie. The progression of all large scale building projects, including projects for these schools, from initial design through to construction phase will be considered in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. However, in the light of current competing demands on the capital budget of my Department, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of these projects at this time.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

145 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No 176 of 3 June 2010, the progress on this matter over the past three months to date; when she will make a decision on this proposal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41656/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

151 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills regarding the urgent need for long-term accommodation needs of a school (details supplied) in County Kildare when it is likely she and her Department will make a decision on this proposal which was submitted by the school some considerable time ago; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41662/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 145 and 151 together.

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the school to which he refers has been approved funding on a devolved basis to construct four mainstream classrooms. A letter regarding this matter issued to the school authority in September 2010.

Question No. 146 answered with Question No. 144.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

147 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 178 of 3 June 2010, when it is likely that this project will progress to construction given increased demands on the school; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41658/10]

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the project to which he refers commenced construction in July.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

148 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if provision has been made for the necessary temporary accommodation at a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41659/10]

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the school to which he refers was approved capital funding in May 2010 to provide three additional classrooms. The school authority has the option of purchasing prefabs or constructing permanent accommodation with the grant aid approved and it has advised that it intends providing permanent accommodation. The school authority wrote to my Department recently seeking an increase in the level of grant aid and my officials have sought further information in support of the application. The matter will be considered further when this information is received and considered and a reply will then issue to the school authority.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

149 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a schools building project (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41660/10]

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the project, for the school to which he refers, commenced construction in September 2009 and is expected to be completed in early 2011.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

150 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the progress in the past six months to date of the advancement of a schools building project in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41661/10]

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the project, for the school to which he refers, commenced construction in August.

Question No. 151 answered with Question No. 145.
Question No. 152 answered with Question No. 144.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

153 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 184 of 3 June 2010 her plans to advance this project in the next six months; the band rating in respect of the school (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41664/10]

I can confirm that the school to which the Deputy refers made an application to my Department for large scale capital funding for an extension. The application has been assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria for large scale building projects and assigned a Band 2 rating. Information in respect of the current school building programme along with assessed applications for major capital works, including the project referred to by the Deputy, is available on my Department's website at www.education.ie. The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project, from initial design through to construction phase will be considered in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. However, in the light of current competing demands on the capital budget of my Department, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of this project at this time.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

154 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills when an application was first made by a school (details supplied) in County Kildare in respect of an application for large scale capital funding; the progress of same on a year-by-year basis since application was submitted to her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41665/10]

The school to which the Deputy refers originally applied to my Department for large scale capital funding in 2001. The application has been assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria for large scale capital projects and has been assigned a Band 2 rating. Information in respect of the current school building programme along with assessed applications for major capital works, including the project referred to by the Deputy, is available on my Department's website at www.education.ie. The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project, from initial design stage through to construction phase will be considered in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. However, in light of current competing demands on the capital budget of the Department, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of the project at this time

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

155 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills when a school (details supplied) in County Kildare will be granted funding under the application for large scale capital funding given increased demands on the school; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41666/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

156 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the likely time scale for granting of funding to a school (details supplied) in County Kildare given increased demands on the school; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41667/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 155 and 156 together.

I can confirm that the school to which the Deputy refers made an application to my Department for large scale capital funding for an extension. The application has been assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria for large scale building projects and assigned a Band 2 rating. Information in respect of the current school building programme along with assessed applications for major capital works, including the project referred to by the Deputy, is available on my Department's website at www.education.ie. The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project, from initial design through to construction phase will be considered in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. However, in the light of current competing demands on the Department's capital budget, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of this project at this time.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

157 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills when a new school (details supplied) will be ready for occupation; if the projected completion date is in line with previous expectations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41668/10]

As the Deputy will be aware, the original contractor appointed for this project went into receivership and a completion contractor was subsequently appointed. The contract with the completion contractor commenced in April and it is envisaged that the new school will be ready for occupation early next year.

Question No. 158 answered with Question No. 144.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

159 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding building works at a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41670/10]

The school in question received grant aid in 2007 to provide four resource rooms under my Department's Permanent Accommodation Scheme. I am pleased to inform the Deputy that construction works on the four additional resource rooms has been completed.

Schools Recognition

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

160 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which she has reviewed temporary recognition of a school (details supplied) in County Kildare with the objectives of permanent recognition; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41671/10]

The school to which the Deputy refers currently operates with provisional recognition and has applied to my Department for permanent recognition status. My Department is prepared to consider the school's application subject to conditions as set out in a letter that issued to the school authority in June 2010 which included a requirement in relation to enrolments at the school and a satisfactory report from the Inspectorate as to the continued viability and operation of the school.

My Department's Inspectorate has been requested to visit the school in this regard and to provide a report on the matter. The question of permanent recognition will be considered following receipt and consideration of the Inspector's Report and a decision will be conveyed to the school authority in due course.

Schools Building Projects

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

161 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills when she received an application for large scale capital funding in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; when this matter is likely to proceed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41672/10]

The school to which the Deputy refers originally applied to my Department for large scale capital funding in September 2007.

The application has been assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria for large scale capital projects and assigned a Band 3 rating. Information in respect of the current school building programme along with assessed applications for major capital works, including the project referred to by the Deputy, is available on my Department's website at www.education.ie.

The progression of all large scale building projects, including the project for this school, from initial design through to construction phase will be considered in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. However, in the light of current competing demands on the capital budget of my Department, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of the project at this time.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

162 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; when this matter is likely to proceed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41673/10]

The project to which the Deputy refers commenced construction last January and is expected to reach substantial completion in early 2011.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

163 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application for major capital funding made by a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41674/10]

As the Deputy has been informed previously, the school to which he refers has not applied to my Department for large scale capital funding and it has indicated to my Department that it is not in need of such funding.

Question No. 164 answered with Question No. 82.

Bullying in Schools

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

165 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which any special attention is paid to school bullying with particular reference to the need for her Department to monitor such incidents and put in place measures to address the issue where and as necessary; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41676/10]

Under the Education (Welfare) Act 2000, all of our schools are required to have in place a Code of Behaviour and this code must be drawn up in accordance with the guidelines of the National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB). The NEWB guidelines were issued to schools in 2008 and make it clear that each school must have policies to prevent or address bullying and harassment and that schools must make clear in their code of behaviour that bullying is unacceptable.

The guidelines further state that as well as making explicit that bullying is prohibited in the school, and having an anti-bullying policy, the code of behaviour should indicate what action the school will take in relation to alleged breaches of the school's bullying policy.

Every school therefore must have in place, a policy which includes specific measures to deal with bullying behaviour, within the framework of the school's overall school code of behaviour. Such a code, developed through consultation with the whole school community and properly implemented, can be the most influential measure in countering bullying behaviour in schools.

My Department has also issued Guidelines on Countering Bullying Behaviour as an aid to schools in devising measures to prevent and deal with instances of bullying behaviour. These guidelines were drawn up following consultation with representatives of school management, teachers and parents, and are sufficiently flexible to allow each school authority to adapt them to suit the particular needs of their school.

As a further aid to post primary schools, my Department published a template that can be used by post-primary schools in developing an anti-bullying policy. The anti-bullying policy template is based primarily on the key document Guidelines on Countering Bullying Behaviour. However, it also takes account of more recent legislative and regulatory changes, and reference is made to issues of contemporary concern such as the need to tackle text bullying, cyber-bullying and homophobic bullying.

Responsibility for tackling bullying falls to the level of the individual school, as it is at local level that an effective anti-bullying climate must be established and at that level that actions should be taken to address allegations of bullying.

There is no requirement for local school authorities to report incidents or allegations of bullying to my Department. My Department does receive a number of complaints and queries from parents regarding matters such as bullying, involving schools. It important to highlight that in many of these instances, parents are seeking guidance from the Department on how to resolve an issue or an alleged incident within a school. In dealing with complaints the Department's role is to provide advice to parents and students on the operation of schools' complaints procedures and to clarify for parents and pupils how grievances and complaints against schools can be progressed.

When a Whole School Evaluation (WSE) is conducted by my Department's Inspectorate, the code of behaviour, including its anti-bullying policy is reviewed by the inspection team to check that it is in line with the Department's guidelines. Inspectors normally meet with the principal, the board, post-holders, year heads, class teachers, programme co-ordinators, the pastoral care team, representatives of the students and parents. During these meetings there is a particular emphasis on the quality of student care and support. The inspectors' evaluation is also informed by observations in classroom settings and throughout the school. Where there are weaknesses in a school's policy or implementation of policies clear recommendations for improvement are made and are included in the published report of the inspection.

Revised procedures for WSE in primary schools have recently been put in place. A new element of the revised WSE process involves the issuing of questionnaires directly to pupils and parents. Children and parents will be asked to respond to questions about how the school deals with bullying, discipline in the school and whether or not the school provides a safe environment for children. This enhanced engagement with parents and pupils through questionnaires aims to further support all schools to implement effective measures to counter bullying. The education of students in both primary and post-primary schools in relation to anti-bullying behaviour is part of the Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) curriculum. SPHE is now a compulsory subject both at primary level and in the junior cycle of post-primary schools.

Since 2001, national professional development support services have provided ongoing support to schools in planning policies on child protection and the code of behaviour and in supporting teachers and principals in the implementation of SPHE. In addition, training on The Stay Safe Programme is offered on an ongoing basis to primary schools.

Other measures in place include the Webwise Internet Safety Initiative, the EU Safer Internet Programme campaign and the establishment of the National Behaviour Support Service (NBSS) which is currently working with over 70 Post Primary Schools to promote and support positive student behaviour.

As the ranges of measures in place demonstrate, my Department is strongly committed to ensuring that schools tackle bullying in all of its forms.

School Staffing

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

166 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of teaching posts to be filled throughout the country; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41677/10]

In terms of the position at individual school level the key factor for determining the level of resources provided by my Department is the pupil enrolment at the 30 September of each year. While the staffing schedule allocates on the basis of an average number of pupils each individual school decides on how to arrange its classes.

The recruitment, selection and appointment of teachers to all schools is a matter for each individual school authority as employer. Unlike other areas of the public service teaching vacancies continue to be filled in schools in the normal manner.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

167 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the average pupil-teacher ratio at schools throughout Leinster; if she will provide the schools currently with the best and worst ratios; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41678/10]

Extensive statistical information is available on my Department's website including data in relation to pupil teacher ratios. Pupil Teacher Ratio in respect of all schools is only available at national level and not disaggregated by province or individual school level.

Schools Building Projects

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

168 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which the school building programme for 2010 has been met; the number of capital projects provided for initially but not proceeded with; the reason for same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41679/10]

It is expected that by the end of 2010, major building projects for 53 schools on the school building programme will have commenced on site this year. This compares to projects for 34 schools going on site last year and is therefore a 56% increase in on site commencements compared to last year. There are nearly as many major building projects going on site in the second half of this year as in the whole of last year.

Of the 52 projects announced earlier this year to go to tender and construction, all are being proceeded with: 26 are at an advanced stage of architectural planning, 24 are at tender stage and 2 are currently under construction.

Special Educational Needs

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

169 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the total number of children recorded with attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Asperger’s and autism; the extent to which the full requirement in respect of remedial, resource or other special teaching requirements are being met, nationally and on a county basis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41680/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

170 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the total number of children with special needs teaching requirements currently recorded in each county throughout the country; the number of such requirements currently being met; her plans to meet the full requirement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41681/10]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

171 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the number of special needs school places provided for on a county basis throughout the country in each of the past five years and to date in 2010; the likely requirements and provision over the next five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41682/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 169, 170 and 171 together.

Each national school has an allocation of learning support/resource teacher hours to assist schools in making appropriate provision for pupils with learning difficulties and high incidence special educational needs. Each post-primary school has an allocation of learning support teaching hours. It is a matter for school authorities to determine how these hours are utilised to support eligible pupils. My Department does not hold details of the percentage of students being supported through this mechanism. However, it can be assumed generally that pupils who perform at or below the 10th percentile on a standardised test of reading and/or mathematics would qualify for such support. Pupils with more significant needs may qualify for additional teaching and special needs assistant support through the National Council for Special Education (NCSE).

The Deputy will also be aware that the NCSE is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), for allocating resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools to support students with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support.

Additional teaching and SNA supports are allocated as necessary by the NCSE in line with my Department's policy to support children with special educational needs. Additional teaching resources are sanctioned by the NCSE in respect of all eligible schools.

The NCSE has advised my Department that additional resource teaching hours were in place in schools in the 09/10 school year in respect of over 34,000 pupils. A county by county breakdown of these hours is not readily available in my Department.

There are currently over 9,000 resource and learning support teachers employed in mainstream schools, over 500 teachers in special classes and over 1,100 special school teachers.

As the number of special needs school places would include those in receipt of learning support, it is not possible for my Department to advise of the number of school places allocated for children with special educational needs. I have arranged for a list of all special classes and special schools to be sent to the Deputy.

School Enrolments

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

172 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the total number of children expected to enrol at primary and second level schools in each of the next five years; the degree to which adequate classroom accommodation and provision of teaching staff is being provided; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41683/10]

The most recent projections used by my Department would see the projected enrolments at post-primary level increase from the current total enrolment (excluding PLCs) of circa 312,200 pupils to an expected enrolment of between 331,500 and 336,600 pupils by the year 2017. At primary level, the most recent projections would see an increase in enrolments from the current total enrolment of circa 505,600 pupils to an expected enrolment of circa 567,300 by 2017. It is within this context that the Forward Planning Section of my Department is in the process of analysing all areas in the country in order to determine the level of additional provision which will be required at both primary and post primary level up to 2017. The progression of all large scale building projects arising from Forward Planning Section's analysis will be considered in the context of my Department's School Building and Modernisation Programme. The staffing position at individual school level is determined by reference to the school's valid enrolment on 30 September of each year. The criteria for the allocation of teaching posts to schools is based on the staffing schedule which is published annually by my Department.

Schools Building Projects

John Perry

Ceist:

173 Deputy John Perry asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will ensure that the tendering process for the construction of a new school (details supplied) in County Sligo, will be extended to include the top ten tenders for consideration as is the norm with her Department’s construction projects; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41687/10]

In relation to the project to which the Deputy refers, the original OJEU contract notice for the prequalification of contractors issued on the basis that a set number of contractors would pre-qualify; therefore it is not possible to extend the pre-qualification list in this case.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

174 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a matter (details supplied). [41689/10]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the Office of Public Works acquired the land in question on behalf of my Department. The price paid for the land was based on the market conditions prevailing at the time of purchase. I am advised that my Department is not aware of any lobbying referred to by the Deputy on this matter.

Question No. 175 answered with Question No. 97.

Daylight Savings Time

Olivia Mitchell

Ceist:

176 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the cost in man hours, of changing clocks from summer time to winter time and vice versa in public buildings; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41728/10]

There is no cost associated with changing clocks from summer time to winter time in my Department.

Departmental Expenditure

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

177 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance his plans to issue a directive so that professional fees for doctors, solicitors and other professional fees are reduced in line with the drop in income of consumers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41161/10]

Professional fees paid by Government have already been subject to reductions in 2009 and in 2010. The question of a further reduction in professional fees is a matter for consideration by the Government in the context of the forthcoming Budget.

Tax Code

James Bannon

Ceist:

178 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Finance if the purchaser of a new property, subject to section 23 or rural renewal scheme tax relief, at a current fire sale price, is entitled to the full scale previously sanctioned tax breaks, based on the original intended sale price, or is this adjusted down to reflect the reduction in the final and actual sale price, or if the original tax concession based on approximately 90 per cent of the construction costs remain unchanged on finished properties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41033/10]

The amount of "section 23 type relief" which is available on any particular rented residential property is always calculated as a proportion of the price actually paid by the purchaser for that property. In essence, a proportion of the cost to the builder/developer, which is attributable to his/her acquisition of the site, is taken outside the scope of the relief. The figure of 90%, in the case the Deputy has referred to in his question, implies that 10% of the total costs to the builder/developer related to site costs.

In these circumstances, the amount of section 23 relief available would be calculated at 90% of the price paid by the purchaser, whether that be a fire-sale price or otherwise. It is not based on the price at which the property might originally have been on the market. This is on the assumption that all the construction costs were incurred in the appropriate qualifying period since these schemes have by now all been terminated.

Ned O'Keeffe

Ceist:

179 Deputy Edward O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance if he will assist in having a specific refund made to a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [41041/10]

I have been informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the claim for a refund in this case was not due in accordance with Section 865 Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997 (4)(b)(ii) which provides that a claim for repayment of tax under the Acts for any chargeable period shall not be allowed unless it is made, in relation to any chargeable period beginning on or after 1 January 2003, within 4 years after the end of the chargeable period to which the claim relates.

The claim was made by the person in question in September 2010 and was for the period July/ August 2010. The invoices to support this claim were requested and they were all dated 20th June 2006. This is outside the 4-year rule for repayments.

If the person would like to speak to a Revenue official they may contact Ms. Imelda Hanlan, Revenue House, Blackpool, Cork on telephone 021 6027264.

Customs and Excise

John O'Mahony

Ceist:

180 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Finance the number of private aircraft searched by customs authorities at Ireland West, Carrickfinn, Sligo and Galway airports sine 1 January 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41049/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the decision on whether or not to search private aircraft at the listed airports is taken following profiling, review of intelligence and interview with the crew/passengers.

A selection of private aircraft has been targeted in the period in question, involving Customs staff assembling a profile of the aircraft and passengers, undertaking covert surveillance and interviewing connected persons. However, it is not appropriate to publish precise details of such enforcement activities as this could prejudice current and future operations.

In line with best practice in customs administration worldwide, Revenue regards the development of information and intelligence as critical to the detection of evasion and drug smuggling. This is very important in the case of Ireland and other EU Member States where the operating environment for Customs has been shaped to a significant degree by the introduction of the Internal Market and the related principles of freedom of movement within the EU. Of specific relevance is the abolition of routine and systematic Customs checks on goods and passengers moving within any part of the EU. The approach has, of necessity, been to balance the freedom of movement principle in regard to people and goods with the need to control smuggling.

The Table sets out the number of Customs checks overseeing all aircraft and flights at the listed airports for the period in question. Attendance by Customs officers is selective and targeted and is based on analysis of seizure trends, traffic frequency, routes and other risk indicators as well as specific intelligence. A drugs detector dog is frequently in attendance. Flights with origins and destinations with a high-risk rating attract particular interest.

2010 (to end Oct)

Ireland West Airport, Knock

1,506

Donegal

57

Galway

151

Sligo

30

John O'Mahony

Ceist:

181 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Finance the number of full time customs staff at Ireland West, Carrickfinn, Sligo and Galway airports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41050/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that Customs Officers are not permanently based at Ireland West, Carrickfinn, Sligo, or Galway Airports. Customs controls at such airports are risk-based and are carried out by Revenue enforcement staff on mobile patrol. Attendance by these officers is selective and targeted and is based on analysis and evaluation of national and international seizure trends, traffic frequency, routes and other risk indicators. Attendance can also be as a result of specific intelligence. Flights with origins and destinations with a high-risk rating attract particular interest. These attendances cover the full range of flight times and are kept under constant review in particular to take account of emerging smuggling trends and any traffic increases at these airfields. A drugs detector dog is frequently in attendance.

In addition to drugs enforcement work, other duties are undertaken by officers in attending airports/aerodromes, including controls against the smuggling of excise products, the clearance of aircraft and passengers arriving from third countries, spot checks on EU flights and checks on private aircraft.

In line with best practice in customs administration worldwide, Revenue regards the development of information and intelligence as critical to the detection of evasion and drug smuggling. This is very important in the case of Ireland and other EU Member States where the operating environment for Customs has been shaped to a significant degree by the introduction of the Internal Market and the related principles of freedom of movement within the EU. Of specific relevance are the abolition of routine and systematic Customs checks on goods and passengers moving within any part of the EU. The approach has, of necessity, been to balance the freedom of movement principle in regard to people and goods with the need to control smuggling. Up to the end of October 2010, Customs staff carried out a total of 1,744 checks on the Airports at Ireland West, Carrickfinn, Sligo, and Galway.

Tax Collection

Kieran O'Donnell

Ceist:

182 Deputy Kieran O’Donnell asked the Minister for Finance the number of persons eligible to pay PAYE in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010 in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41113/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the relevant information available on the numbers of total income earners on PAYE tax records, the corresponding number who are actually liable to PAYE income tax for the years 2005 to 2010 inclusive, are as follows.

Numbers of PAYE income earners and taxpayers 2005 to 2010

Year

PAYE Income Earners

PAYE Taxpayers

2005

1,958,000

1,238,100

2006

2,136,400

1,269,100

2007

2,252,900

1,277,000

2008

2,228,800

1,266,000

2009

2,057,000*

1,166,900*

2010

1,987,300*

1,108,300*

*Provisional and likely to be revised.

Figures for numbers of income earners and taxpayers are rounded to the nearest hundred.

The figures for numbers of income earners and taxpayers for the years 2005 to 2008 inclusive are based on incomes data derived from income tax returns held on Revenue records and have been grossed-up to an overall expected level to adjust for incompleteness in the numbers of returns on record at the time the data were extracted for analytical purposes. The numbers for the years 2009 and 2010 are estimates from the Revenue tax-forecasting model using actual data for the year 2008, adjusted as necessary for income and employment trends in the interim. These are, therefore, provisional and likely to be revised.

A married couple which has elected or has been deemed to have elected for joint assessment is counted as one tax unit.

Kieran O'Donnell

Ceist:

183 Deputy Kieran O’Donnell asked the Minister for Finance the number of persons paying income tax in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010; the relevant income tax yield in each year in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41114/10]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the relevant information available on the numbers of total income earners on the income tax records, the corresponding number who are actually liable to income tax and the figures of net receipts from income tax for the years 2006 to 2010 inclusive, are as follows.

Numbers of all income earners and income taxpayers and net receipts of income tax 2006 to 2010

Tax Year

Income earners

Income Taxpayers

Income tax net receipts

€m

2006

2,370,700

1,445,200

12,375

2007

2,489,100

1,457,300

13,582

2008

2,459,200

1,429,000

13,195

2009

2,287,000*

1,300,200*

11,839

2010

2,220,300*

1,237,500*

8,622†

*Provisional and likely to be revised.

†Figures of Exchequer receipts as at end October.

Income tax net receipts for 2009 and 2010 include associated receipts from the Income Levy.

Figures for numbers of income earners and taxpayers are rounded to the nearest hundred and figures for net receipts are rounded to the nearest million.

The figures for numbers of income earners and taxpayers for the years 2006 to 2008 inclusive are based on incomes data derived from income tax returns held on Revenue records and have been grossed-up to an overall expected level to adjust for incompleteness in the numbers of returns on record at the time the data were extracted for analytical purposes. The numbers for the years 2009 and 2010 are estimates from the Revenue tax-forecasting model using actual data for the year 2008, adjusted as necessary for income and employment trends in the interim. These are, therefore, provisional and likely to be revised.

A married couple which has elected or has been deemed to have elected for joint assessment is counted as one tax unit.

Tax Yield

Kieran O'Donnell

Ceist:

184 Deputy Kieran O’Donnell asked the Minister for Finance the yield from PAYE in the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41115/10]

The information the Deputy has requested is detailed in the following table. The figures are only available from the Revenue Commissioners on a Net Receipts basis. Revenue Net Receipts differ from Exchequer Receipts due to timing and accounting differences.

End-Oct 2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

PAYE Receipts (€m)

6,470

8,488

10,069

10,155

9,389

PAYE receipts are collected as part of income tax. Budget 2010 estimated that €11.5 billion in income tax would be collected this year. At end-October, Exchequer income tax receipts, at €8.6 billion, were €369 million below target for the year to date. Approximately €200 million of this shortfall was attributable to PAYE, reflecting weakness in the labour market.

Tax Code

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

185 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance if excise and VAT is applied to natural gas and oil used for electricity generation. [41132/10]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the position is as follows: Mineral oil that is used for the generation of electricity is exempt from Mineral Oil Tax (excise duty on mineral oils), and natural gas used for that purpose is exempt from the Natural Gas Carbon Tax introduced with effect from 1 May 2010.

The VAT treatment of natural gas used in the generation of electricity depends on whether the gas is imported through the natural gas distribution system or sourced on the home market. The importation of natural gas through the natural gas distribution system is exempt from VAT in accordance with paragraph 13 to Schedule 1 to the Value Added Tax Act, 1972. Natural gas sourced on the home market and hydrocarbon oil of a kind used in the generation of electricity are subject to VAT in accordance with paragraphs 17(3) and 17(4) respectively of Schedule 3 to the Value Added Tax Act, 1972. However, as the onward supply of electricity is subject to VAT, deductibility is allowed in respect of the VAT incurred on inputs.

Customs and Excise

John O'Mahony

Ceist:

186 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Finance the number of coastal patrols carried out by the cutter boats between 1 January 2009 and 31 October 2010 between and including counties Clare and Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41145/10]

John O'Mahony

Ceist:

187 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Finance his plans for the cutter vessel to patrol the west coast between now and the end of December 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41146/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 186 and 187 together.

I have been informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the Customs Cutters spent seventy days on patrol in the coastal area from Clare to Donegal in the period 1 January 2009 to 31 October 2010.

The deployment of Customs Cutters is operationally sensitive and it is not in the interest of anti-smuggling efforts to give advance notification of patrol deployments. The Customs Service is committed, in cooperation with the Naval Service, to making available the appropriate resources to respond to all maritime operations requirements.

Bank Charges

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

188 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance if he has imposed a 50 cent charge on banks to write cheques for customers who are old age pensioners; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that banks are stating that this is a levy imposed by Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41160/10]

A Stamp Duty on "bills of exchange", which include cheques, has existed for many years. The current rate of Stamp Duty on cheques and drafts is 50 cent, which applies to all bank customers, including pensioners, who use the products. Outside of the use by customers of these products — that is, writing cheques on their own accounts — I am not clear about the Deputy's statement that banks are charging 50 cent to write cheques for customers in the circumstances outlined by the Deputy. If a customer wishes to query a particular bank charge, s/he should pursue the matter with her/his financial institution in the first instance.

Departmental Contracts

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

189 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance the role the national public procurement operations unit has in negotiating contracts for telecommunications and energy services for Departments, Government agencies and public bodies; if consideration has been given to awarding a single contract to supply energy and telecommunications to all public bodies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41183/10]

The National Public Procurement Operations Unit has been renamed as the National Procurement Service (NPS) since early 2010, and has within its remit the organisation and procurement of goods and services commonly used across the public service.

Energy

Given the significant expenditure on energy across the public service, the NPS has targeted this category as one appropriate for particular market intervention. The energy market comprises six sub-markets: Electricity; Natural Gas; Automotive fuel — through a procurement charge card; Bulk Liquid Fuels — Petrol, Diesel and Central Heating Oil; Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) — Bottled Gas; Solid Fuel. The NPS is involved in each one of these sub-markets, as follows:

Electricity and Natural Gas

The NPS has conducted a major consultation process involving all energy stakeholders including: the Commissioner for Energy Regulation (CER); Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources; energy providers; and public service clients. Due to the nature of the energy market, the need to encourage greater competition and the potential size of the public service demand, it was apparent that there was a distinct risk that a single public service contract would distort the market. The NPS concluded that the optimum procurement strategy for electricity and natural gas would, therefore, be through the use of multi party framework agreements.

The NPS conducted an EU competitive tender process, which has resulted in Electricity and Natural Gas framework agreements being put in place on 29 October 2010. These framework agreements cater for all public service sectors for a period up to four years. Mini-competitions will be held for sectoral requirements on an ongoing basis. The NPS has commenced this mini-competition process, with tenders being invited from the framework participants for the central government sector. This competition will embrace some 950 sites.

Automotive fuel

A contract for the supply of automotive fuel through a procurement charge card to the public service was put in place in May 2009, and will run for a three-year period.

Bulk Liquid Fuels and Liquid Petroleum Gas

The NPS inherited contracts for Bulk Liquid Fuels and Liquid Petroleum Gas from the Government Supplies Agency. These contracts accommodate central government departments only, and will be replaced in 2011 with framework agreements accommodating the broader public service. The framework agreements will operate with ongoing sectoral mini-competitions along the lines of the electricity and natural gas markets.

Solid Fuel

Traditionally, solid fuel has consisted of coal and turf, for which there is currently insufficient demand to warrant a centralised supply arrangement. As more environmentally friendly or ‘Green' alternatives emerge, the need for new procurement arrangements will be considered.

Telecommunications

The Centre for Management and Organisation Development (CMOD) in the Department of Finance has responsibility for telecommunications and technology policies, procurements, and expenditure sanction. CMOD operates multi-vendor procurement frameworks, which have been established, following open EU procurement exercises, for mobile voice and data, and for fixed voice and Voice over IP (VoIP) services. Additionally, CMOD has standardised the procurement approaches to be used by all public bodies for fixed data services. These approaches have made procurement considerably easier for both the public bodies and the vendors concerned. Additionally, procurement and administrative cost savings in the range of 35-50% have been realised — actual savings are dependent on matters such as the size of the body, its geographic dispersal, user types, user volumes, call and data transfer types, etc. Accordingly, the Government has made it mandatory for public bodies to use these procurement mechanisms and standards for voice and data communications services. As a result of this approach, 16 different telecommunications service providers are connected to Government Networks, and competing to provide services to public bodies.

Such is the dependence on telecommunications and networking infrastructures that all public bodies now need to ensure resilient provision of telecommunications and data communications service provision. The Department is satisfied that no single telecommunications provider can provide the level of diversity needed. From 2002-2007, public bodies did procure most telecommunications services under a single contract that had been put in place on foot of an open EU procurement exercise. However, that approach did not yield the types of savings and the innovation of products and services that have accrued from the multi-vendor approach set out above. Furthermore, it is likely that a single contract approach would lead to considerable contraction in the telecommunications market, as only a small number of companies would be in a position to satisfy all requirements and the geographic spread of public bodies. There is no evidence to suggest that this would result in cheaper prices or greater efficiencies. The experience previously suggests the opposite.

Finally, as part of the Government's commitment to supporting Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), the Department issued a new Circular "10/10:Facilitating SME Participation in Public Procurement". This Circular requires all public bodies to award contracts in "lots", where this can be done without compromising efficiency and value for money, to be aware of the potential of SMEs as suppliers of innovative solutions, to include smaller businesses, where these could meet requirements or compete for particular lots, and to encourage joint bidding among SMEs and sub-contracting in the case of larger contracts.

Public Sector Staff

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

190 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Finance the average wage and total number of staff employed in the public service each year from 2007 to 2010 broken down by job title and grade; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41223/10]

Across the Civil and Public Service, there are many grades and job descriptions specific to the sector or to the particular Department or public body. I would like to draw the Deputy's attention to the booklet entitled ‘Analysis of Exchequer Pay and Pensions Bill 2005-2010' published by my Department in June, 2010 and available on my Department's website. Contained in this booklet is the cost to the Exchequer in pay and pensions in all sectors across the Public Service along with associated numbers for each sector. A copy of this booklet has been forwarded to the Deputy. My direct area of responsibility is the Civil Service. The current rates of pay in the Civil Service for general service grades and grades common to two or more Departments are shown in Circular 28/2009 which is available on my Department's website. Questions about the pay of individual grades in other areas of the Public Service should be addressed to the appropriate Minister.

Telecommunications Services

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

191 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance if his Department operates any number utilising the Lo-call designation, 1890; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that use of this number can impose additional costs on mobile telephone users; if he will ensure that where such numbers are advertised in the press, on-line or in literature that this additional cost is noted, and that a standard geographic telephone number is also given; if this is not currently done, if he will ensure that this will be done; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41242/10]

My Department is aware that calls to LoCall numbers from mobile phones do impose additional costs. My Department does operate one Lo-Call number. However, this number is accompanied in advertisements by standard geographic numbers for all services operated by my Department. While the advertisements do not highlight the cost differential at present, it is intended that future iterations of advertisements will include this warning. My Department has advised all other bodies of this cost differential and has advised them of the need to provide standard geographic numbers where possible when advertising Lo-Call numbers.

Additionally, my Department is working with the telecommunications service providers to devise an alternative, less costly mechanism for making national calls from mobile phones.

National Asset Management Agency

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

192 Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the provisions in place to pay salaries to developers involved in the National Asset Management Agency; the way the salaries will be decided and if they will be capped. [41252/10]

NAMA has advised that it is currently reviewing business plans for the largest 30 debtors whose loans it has acquired. Part of that process involves addressing the unsustainable and unrealistic level of debtor overheads which had been permitted by the participating institutions. As part of the debtor business plan process, NAMA has typically required debtors to reduce their business overheads by between 50% and 75%. These reduced overheads have to cover a broad array of expenses, including salaries for relevant executives. NAMA does not specify the salary of any individual but the level of business overheads permitted by NAMA will reflect the business activity of each debtor and the requisite added value that a debtor can add in terms of achieving the financial and other targets set by NAMA.

NAMA has a commercial remit to manage its portfolio of over €70 billion and it has to consider, on a case-by-case basis, the overhead costs associated with leaving a debtor in place to manage his business versus the commercial alternative of appointing an insolvency expert. NAMA will, where necessary, enforce against debtors but it is not a cost-free alternative and would not be, in all instances, in the best interest of taxpayers.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

193 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Finance if recent indications to the effect that 25% of the property owners in National Assets Management Agency are currently paying the interest on their loans, whether this is based on the original level of indebtedness to the banks and-or NAMA’s liability to such institutions; whether all of the said 25% or only portion of same are deemed to be meeting the full interest payments due while others make partial payments; if an indication can be given at this stage of the number of portfolios assumed or expected to be in a position to repay 100% of their original bank loan with or without interest; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41411/10]

The recently-published NAMA Quarterly Report for the second quarter indicated that 29% of NAMA loans (by reference to nominal loan values) were performing as at the end of June 2010. Performing loans are defined as loans which, by reference to original contractual obligations, are not in arrears or where the arrears are outstanding for less than 30 days. For all debtors, the original loan payment obligations due to the participating institutions remain outstanding after transfer of the loans to NAMA.

As yet, there is insufficient data available to NAMA to enable the Agency to estimate the proportion of its overall portfolio that will be fully performing.

Departmental Contracts

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

194 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding a procurement matter (details supplied). [41423/10]

There is no general requirement that companies applying for public contracts provide three year financial statements of accounts. Under public procurement guidelines, contracting authorities are required to ensure that recently established firms, or firms with no previous experience of public contracts, are not excluded from public tendering. It is, of course, essential that contractors performing public contracts be of sufficiently sound economic and financial standing. The general position is that criteria used to determine the appropriate level of financial capacity must be proportionate and relevant to the needs of the particular contract. Various forms of evidence of financial capacity may be sought, such as bankers' statements, extracts from balance sheets, proof of access to professional indemnity, public liability and employer liability insurance, performance bonds or demonstrable access to resources of third parties. My Department recently re-iterated these conditions in guidelines to public bodies which are aimed at facilitating greater participation by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in public procurement opportunities. As part of these provisions, the documentary evidence need only be produced when a tenderer has been short-listed or is coming under consideration for the award of a contract.

Departmental Reports

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

195 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance if he has received the final report from the expert group on mortgage arrears and personal debt; when will he publish the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41490/10]

The Deputy will be aware that the Expert Group submitted its Interim Report to me in early July. The Government having considered the Report decided to accept all of the recommendations. I understand that good progress has been made in regard to the implementation of the recommendations. Since then the Expert Group has been working towards completion of its Final Report. I am informed that in the next phase of their work, the Expert Group are considering a number of very complex and sensitive issues and are anxious to ensure that the Final report reflects the most thorough examination and informed appraisal of these issues. This has necessitated extensive consultation with various stakeholders.

I expect to receive the Report very shortly.

I plan to bring the latest recommendations of the Expert Group before Government as soon as possible after I receive the Report, after which the Report will be published.

Banking Sector Regulation

Olivia Mitchell

Ceist:

196 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance his views on the decision of Bank of Ireland, a partially State-owned and fully State-guaranteed bank, to donate the proceeds of the sale of some of its art collection to charity and if this is consistent with the National Asset Management Agency position which has prohibited certain developers from making charitable contributions while indebted to the taxpayer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41551/10]

As I have previously said, the management of assets by Bank of Ireland, including the holding or display of artworks, is a matter for the Board of the Bank. I understand that the Bank's art collection dates back to the early 1970s and its primary purpose was to support emerging Irish artists rather than to create a corporate collection per se. Many of the important works were already donated to the State through two substantial donations in 1999 and 2008 to the Irish Museum of Modern Art. A further twelve works will be now be donated to the IMMA in advance of the upcoming sale of part of the BOI art collection.

I am advised that NAMA has no difficulty with a debtor making donations to charity if he has a surplus available after payment of interest, employee salaries, etc. What is not acceptable to the Agency is the making of charitable donations while the debtor is unable to meet debt servicing obligations.

Public Procurement

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

197 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 181 of the 2 November 2010, if he will provide a detailed breakdown by organisation and the nature of each savings of the €35 million referred to in his answer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41555/10]

The Office of Public Works (OPW) has confirmed that the information required will involve considerable analysis and correlation. OPW will revert directly to the Deputy as soon as the relevant data has been compiled.

Flood Relief

Ulick Burke

Ceist:

198 Deputy Ulick Burke asked the Minister for Finance if he has given consideration to a submission made by a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary regarding an engineering process which has been outlined to his Department regarding flooding of domestic houses throughout the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41564/10]

The material and detailed engineering process to which the Deputy refers was supplied to the Office of Public Works. It is being examined by the Engineering Services division of the Office.

National Asset Management Agency

Lucinda Creighton

Ceist:

199 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Finance the number of enforcement actions the National Asset Management Agency has taken against developers where viability is not being demonstrated or where the borrower is not co-operating with the process; the number of court proceedings the agency has taken against borrowers; the numbers of enforcement proceedings against debtors whose loans have not yet transferred to the agency, that have been initiated by participating institutions and authorised by the agency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41714/10]

NAMA has given its authorisation to participating institutions to initiate enforcement proceedings against fifteen debtors whose loans have yet to transfer. In the case of one other debtor whose loans have been acquired, NAMA has initiated proceedings directly.

Pension Provisions

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

200 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Finance his estimate of the cost of pension increases for all public and Civil Service pensioners in each of the past three years with a breakdown by income categories above €100,000, €75,000 to €100,000, €50,000 to €75,000, €25,000 to €50,000, and 0 – €25,000; and the projected cost in 2011 with a similar breakdown. [41718/10]

The Minister for Finance has statutory responsibility for civil service pensions and for pensions paid from the Central Fund. Statutory responsibility for other public service pension schemes is a matter in the first instance for the respective Ministers in other Departments, as appropriate. The data is currently being prepared and will be provided to the Deputy as soon as possible as it could not be finalised in the time scale given.

State Property

David Stanton

Ceist:

201 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 196 of 2 November 2010 the details of the two leases which the office of Public Works holds for Park House; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41719/10]

The Commissioners of Public Works hold two separate Leases on Park House, North Circular Road, Dublin 7, details as follows:

Lease 1:

Expiry Date: 9th April 2013.

Demise: 1305 sq.m.

Rent: €340,000 per annum inclusive of 30 car spaces.

Occupants: Department of Defence, Department of Justice & Law Reform and Special Olympics Ireland.

Lease 2:

Expiry date: 9th April, 2013.

Demise: 345 sq.m.

Rent: €92,778 per annum inclusive of 6 car spaces.

Occupants: Defence.

The Landlord for both leases is Soldus Realty Limited.

Daylight Savings Time

Olivia Mitchell

Ceist:

202 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance the cost in man hours, of changing clocks from summer time to winter time and vice versa in public buildings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41731/10]

Arrangements for changing clocks to both winter and summer times are dealt with at local level by staff working in individual buildings. Such arrangements may, on occasion, include specific requests to OPW due to the positioning of clocks in order to deal with the matter in a safe way. The man hours and the associated cost involved in each individual task is minimal in nature.

Tax Code

Seymour Crawford

Ceist:

203 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Minister for Finance his views on whether the air travel tax has had a major effect and has ill served the industry; if he will ensure removal of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36639/10]

The air travel tax was one of a number of Budgetary measures introduced that was necessary in the context of an overall response to the fiscal challenges we face and represents a genuine effort to broaden the tax base in a fair and equitable manner. I have stated before that the impact of the tax on passenger numbers is being overstated. As the Deputy will be aware, both Germany and Austria have announced plans to introduce an air travel tax with effect from 1 January 2011.

Missing Persons

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

204 Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Health and Children if funding in respect of a helpline for missing children is under consideration in the forthcoming budget; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41426/10]

The issue of children who go missing is primarily a matter for the Garda Síochána. A hotline for missing children is in operation in some EU Member States. My Office is currently involved in discussions with other relevant Government Departments in relation to the establishment of this service. I will keep the Deputy informed of developments in this regard.

Health Services

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

205 Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that a person (details supplied) has received no direct provision payment from a local community welfare officer for the past seven weeks; the steps she will take to restore direct provision payment to this person; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41503/10]

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

Medical Cards

Ciaran Lynch

Ceist:

206 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children when a decision will issue on an appeal for a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41038/10]

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

Ciaran Lynch

Ceist:

207 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Health and Children when a decision will issue on an appeal for a medical card renewal in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41047/10]

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

Health Services

Pat Breen

Ceist:

208 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Clare has not been facilitated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41064/10]

As the Deputy's question relates to service matters, I have arranged for the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy.

Children in Care

Charles Flanagan

Ceist:

209 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason a Health Service Executive audit of children who died in State care will only consider the past ten years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41079/10]

The Independent Review Group on Child Deaths was established by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs on March 8th 2010.

The Group was asked to examine certain child deaths and to:

provide on an anonymised basis key summary information regarding each child and the circumstances leading up to their death;

focus, in particular, on the relevant involvement of State services with the child and his/her family;

examine the strengths and weaknesses of such involvement,

in so far as lessons were or can be identified from these reports/reviews, including common issues presenting, make recommendations as to how child protection responses can be strengthened; and if considered useful, comment on the nature of the reports/reviews available for its consideration

The aim of the Group is to inform future practice and policy development in relation to child welfare and protection and to make recommendations on how child protection can strengthened. Given that the work of the group relates to key learning, it was not felt that it would be helpful to undertake an examination of cases more than 10 years old.

The Group's Report will be presented to the Minister who will lay the document before the Houses of the Oireachtas and publish it.

Hospitals Building Programme

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

210 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support a matter (details supplied). [41080/10]

Adequate funding has been earmarked for the development in the multi-annual capital programme of the Department of Health and Children and the HSE. That funding remains in place and will be used.

The contract for construction of the new facility was signed on the 14 October 2010. The site has been handed over to the contractor. An architect has been appointed, the contractor, design team and project manager are on site and construction work has commenced. The site had previously been cleared in readiness for construction to begin. It is expected that construction of the building will take 18 months. Completion is expected as early as possible in 2012.

As the remaining questions asked by the Deputy are service matters they have been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

John O'Donoghue

Ceist:

211 Deputy John O’Donoghue asked the Minister for Health and Children if funding will be made available to renovate a premises (details supplied) to facilitate the closure of St. Finian’s Hospital, Killarney; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41101/10]

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

Hospital Accommodation

Charles Flanagan

Ceist:

212 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of beds currently available for cystic fibrosis inpatients at St. Vincent’s Hospital; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that patients with cystic fibrosis are currently being admitted on trolleys in the accident and emergency unit at the hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41102/10]

The refurbishment of accommodation to provide eight single en-suite rooms for patients with cystic fibrosis was completed in August 2008 and the beds are now operational. This brings the total level of in-patient accommodation for the treatment of respiratory patients (including people with CF) at the hospital to 63 beds. The hospital currently treats over 50% of the CF adult population.

The Deputy's questions regarding the admission of cystic fibrosis patients on trolleys in Accident and Emergency is an operational issue and has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Health Services

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

213 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support a matter (details supplied). [41103/10]

I have referred this matter to the HSE for direct reply.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

214 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of a person (details supplied). [41104/10]

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

Hospital Waiting Lists

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

215 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an appointment for surgery in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [41107/10]

The scheduling of patients for hospital treatment is a matter for the consultant concerned in each case and is determined on the basis of clinical need. Should the patient's general practitioner consider that the patient's condition warrants an earlier appointment, he/she would be in the best position to take the matter up with the consultant involved.

The management of hospital services generally, including out-patient waiting lists, is a matter for the Health Service Executive and the individual hospitals concerned. Therefore, the Executive is the appropriate body to consider the particular case raised by the Deputy. My Department has requested the Parliamentary Affairs Division of the Executive to arrange to have the case investigated and to reply directly to the Deputy.

Nursing Home Accommodation

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

216 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will respond to a query regarding the provision of nursing home accommodation (details supplied). [41109/10]

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

Hospital Accommodation

Charles Flanagan

Ceist:

217 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children if the new cystic fibrosis unit at St. Vincent’s Hospital is proceeding on schedule; the building work that has taken place to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41118/10]

St Vincent's University Hospital and the HSE are working to ensure the earliest possible delivery of the new ward block.

The contract for construction of the new facility was signed on the 14 October 2010. The site has been handed over to the contractor. An architect has been appointed, the contractor, design team and project manager are on site and construction work has commenced. The site had previously been cleared in readiness for construction to begin. It is expected that construction of the building will take 18 months. Completion is expected as early as possible in 2012.

General Practitioner Services

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

218 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Health and Children if it is still the case the Dub-Doc scheme will not accept patients whose general practitioner is not a member of the co-op but will accept patients who have no GP; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41123/10]

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

220 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Health and Children the way the Health Service Executive intends to provide a doctor on call service in North Dublin when the current contract for the Dub-Doc scheme expires in January and no contract is in place to replace same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41125/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 218 and 220 together.

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

Health Service Reform

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

219 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress that has been made in moving to an 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., five days over seven work pattern as provided for in the Croke Park agreement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41124/10]

The Public Service Agreement 2010-2014 (the "Croke Park Agreement") provides a framework for public service management and staff to work together to deliver an ongoing reduction in the cost of delivery of public services, while maintaining and improving the quality of services delivered to the public, in return for commitments on pay and security of employment for public servants. The Implementation Body has been established to drive the implementation of the Agreement across all sectors and ensure that early, robust and verifiable reforms are secured, which lead to sustainable and verifiable savings in the cost of public service delivery.

Against the background of reduced budgets and staffing resources in the health sector, the challenge for the Health Sector will be to not only to maintain the level, quality and safety of services, but to expand the range of services that can be easily accessed by patients and clients in their own communities. This will require changes in work practices and attendance patterns, as well as in staffing ratios and rostering arrangements in order to increase efficiency, and to achieve significant savings in non-pay fixed costs such as overtime, premium payments and agency spend.

The Agreement provides for a wide range of measures to bring these changes about, including the introduction of an extended working day covering the period 8am to 8pm and the introduction of new arrangements to support the delivery of services over an extended period, up to and including 24/7 for all grades in service locations, where this is identified as needed to meet service requirements (2.9.12 and 2.9.13 of the Agreement). There is also detailed consultation and adjudication processes to be followed to support the successful implementation of these measures, which are to be completed within very tight timeframes. It should be noted that with effect from 16 December 2008, all new employees of the HSE and HSE funded agencies are already liable to work rosters necessary to deliver extended services beyond Monday to Friday, including weekends, where flexibility is required to address real service demands. New employees include existing staff appointed to promotional posts and staff on renewed temporary contracts.

Each sector was requested by the Implementation Body to provide an action plan as to how proposed changes were to be implemented in their respective sector. My Department worked closely with the HSE to develop the action plan for implementation of the Agreement across the health sector. The Health Sector Action Plan is available to view on my Department's website, www.dohc.ie.

The Action Plan recognises that the Public Service Agreement enables the Health Sector to protect services to patients/users, in as far as is possible, within the context of whatever expenditure decisions are made by Government for 2011 and subsequent years. The Plan also takes account of the fact that the implementation of reform is a dynamic process, and one which will allow identification of changes which may be required in the way services are delivered and the associated changes in work practices, on an ongoing basis.

The Implementation Body also established the Health Sector Implementation Body (HSIB), a joint union/management group with an independent Chair, Mr. Pat Harvey. The HSIB is responsible for driving the implementation of the Action Plan and will be required to report on progress to the Implementation Body. The HSIB has met three times to date, with further meetings scheduled later this month and again in December. Local structures are also being put in place at regional level across the HSE, which will mirror those of the Health Sector Implementation Body.

Question No. 220 answered with Question No. 218.

General Practitioner Co-operatives

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

221 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason the Health Service Executive advertised a contract for nurse triage for NEDOC; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41126/10]

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

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

222 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Health and Children if the Health Service Executive has carried out an analysis of the cost of general practitioner run out-of-hours co-ops and HSE run co-ops and which model is the least expensive; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41127/10]

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

Health Services

Pat Breen

Ceist:

223 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children when an application will be processed in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41144/10]

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

Medical Cards

John McGuinness

Ceist:

224 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will expedite an application for a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [41153/10]

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

Hospitals Building Programme

Seán Barrett

Ceist:

225 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Health and Children when the proposed new 151 sq.m extension to the National Rehabilitation Hospital at Rochestown Avenue, Dún Laoghaire, County Dublin is likely to receive funding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41176/10]

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.

Telecommunications Services

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

226 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Health and Children if voluntary and Health Service Executive hospitals can avail of the e-Government tariff for telephone bills; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41184/10]

I presume the Deputy is referring to the national frameworks contracts operated by the Department of Finance in conjunction with the Government Networks Programme Board (GNBP) for mobile communications and fixed line telephony services details of which are to be found at www.ictprocurement.gov.ie. My understanding is that extensive use is being of the mobile contracts by both the HSE and the voluntary health agencies. The fixed framework came into being in February of this year and so far the HSE have awarded a contract for their international tariffs. The rest of the traffic will be put out to the framework once a detailed examination of fixed line has been completed.

Departmental Property

Mary Upton

Ceist:

227 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Health and Children the action she plans to take in relation to the allegation by a person (details supplied) that they have rights to the ground rent of a facility; if she will ensure that proceedings are taken as appropriate to establish the ownership and rights in relation to the area; if she will ensure, that if necessary and appropriate, an injunction is taken by her Department to prevent the person from providing misleading information to the general public in relation to their rights and furthermore to prevent them from being a nuisance in so far as they have appointed persons to collect money on their behalf, alleging that they have rights to the site; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41210/10]

Management of the Health Service Executive property portfolio is a service matter. Therefore your question has been referred to the Executive for direct reply.

Health Services

Shane McEntee

Ceist:

228 Deputy Shane McEntee asked the Minister for Health and Children the average waiting list for orthodontic treatment in counties Meath, Cavan, Dublin and Louth. [41216/10]

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

Departmental Agencies

Olivia Mitchell

Ceist:

229 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 281 of 12 October 2010, when a reply will issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41218/10]

I understand from the HSE that a reply issued to the Deputy on 8th November, 2010.

Telecommunications Services

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

230 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Health and Children if her Department operates any number utilising the Lo-call designation, 1890; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that use of this number can impose additional costs on mobile phone users; if she will ensure that where such numbers are advertised in the press, online or in literature that this additional cost is noted, and that a standard geographic phone number is also given; if this is not currently done, if she will ensure that this will be done; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41244/10]

My Department operates an Eircom 1890 Lo-call number which terminates at the Department's general number 01- 6354000. Callers from land lines using the Lo-call number are only charged the price of a local call regardless of the geographical location they call from within Ireland.

This number is advertised on the Department's website and also in Eircom's telephone directory. My Department will immediately update the information on our website to advise callers of the additional cost when calling from a mobile phone. Other listings will be similarly adjusted as soon as updating cycles can accommodate this.

Nursing Home Inspections

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

231 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of Health Information and Quality Authority staff performing nursing home inspections who have a qualification and previous work experience relating to care of the elderly; the number of such staff without such experience; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41403/10]

Under the Health Act, 2007 statutory responsibility is given to the Chief Inspector of Social Services, part of the Health Information and Quality Authority for inspecting and registering categories of designated centres, including nursing homes for older people. Currently, there are 46 inspectors undertaking inspections of residential care centres for older people in Ireland. All inspectors have at least a degree level qualification in relevant health or social care field, for example nursing, social or occupational health, or have substantial relevant experience in the related area of regulation, inspection and enforcement. In addition all inspectors have successfully completed a comprehensive training programme in all areas relevant to the regulation and inspection of designated centres for older people.

Departmental Meetings

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

232 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she and the Health Service Executive met with a foundation (details supplied) on 12 October 2010 or whether the meeting was attended by their respective representatives; the extent to which the respective Departments have agreed to meet the requirements of the foundation in 2010; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41412/10]

I met with the Jack and Jill Foundation on Tuesday 12th October last. The Health Service Executive was also represented at the meeting. We discussed a range of issues including additional State funding. I will continue to engage with the Jack and Jill Foundation.

Both the Minister and I and the Health Service Executive recognise the valuable contribution that the many agencies and charities make in the provision of health and personal social services to people with a disability. Reflecting the current economic situation the health sector must manage service levels within available resources. The HSE together with the ‘non-statutory organisations' who provide services on behalf of the HSE, will continue to review how these services are provided in order to protect the delivery of front line services as much as possible. In the current environment, this is a challenge for all, including the HSE and non statutory charity organisations. The HSE will continue to work closely with all agencies and bodies in the sector, including Jack and Jill, to provide whatever assistance it can from within its resources, in the context of the annual Service Level Agreement arrangements.

The very difficult financial position facing the country will obviously require very careful management across all areas of expenditure, including the disability sector. Notwithstanding this difficult financial environment, the Government is determined to do everything possible to protect patient services, to respond to priority demographic and other needs, and to support ongoing reform of the public heath services within the resources available for health.

Health Services

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

233 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [41428/10]

I understand the Deputy asked the same question on the 20/10/2010 and received a reply dated 29/10/2010 from the HSE. As this is a service matter it has again been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Pat Breen

Ceist:

234 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children when an application will be processed in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41441/10]

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

Noel Coonan

Ceist:

235 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 257 of 19 October 2010, the number of north Tipperary-south Offaly applicants currently awaiting payment under the back to school clothing and footwear scheme in the Health Service Executive mid west region; the reason for the delay in processing payments; when it is envisioned that all applicants will be paid under the scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41468/10]

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

Health Service Staff

Noel Coonan

Ceist:

236 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Minister for Health and Children her plans to reinstate a community welfare officer to an area (details supplied) in County Tipperary; if the officer will be reinstated this month; the reason this has not happened to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41469/10]

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

Hospital Waiting Lists

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

237 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Roscommon will be called for a procedure; the reason for the delay in same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41487/10]

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

Michael Ring

Ceist:

238 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be admitted to a hospital. [41501/10]

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

Medical Cards

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

239 Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason it takes four days for the Health Service Executive primary care reimbursement service medical card system to be updated when a medical card review is rolled over by the local medical card office and if she will ask the HSE to have this matter resolved as soon as possible [41502/10]

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

Health Service Staff

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

240 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if she or the Health Service Executive will have any power or authority to refuse any applications under the voluntary redundancy scheme or the voluntary early retirement scheme to personnel who are considered essential to the running of the service or specific sections of the service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41519/10]

On 1 November 2010 I announced that the Government has decided to approve a voluntary early retirement scheme and a voluntary redundancy scheme for certain categories of staff in the public health service.

The purpose of the schemes is to achieve a permanent reduction in the numbers employed in the public health sector from 2011 onwards and to facilitate health service reform. The Government has decided that funding of up to €400m will be made available in 2010 to fund the up-front costs of both schemes.

The VER and VRS schemes are open to employees management and administrative staff and general support staff but priority will be given to management and administrative grades. The exact grades covered by the two schemes are set out in detail in the relevant Circular (Circular 7/2010). There is general acceptance of the need to reduce the numbers of management and administrative staff in the health service. For that reason, all applications from management and administrative staff to avail of the schemes will be approved. Approval for applications from support staff will depend on the numbers of management and administrative staff who apply and the overall cap on costs not being breached.

I am happy to report that there is a high level of interest in the schemes. However it is not possible to predict, as yet, to what extent the current level of enquiries will translate into actual applications ahead of the closing date of 19 November. The HSE already have a process in place to track and monitor applications around the country and across services which will allow them to identify areas where service gaps may emerge and to address them. The HSE and health service employers will be looking to the provisions of the Croke Park agreement to ensure they continue to deliver services with reduced numbers and I understand that an engagement with the relevant trade unions has already begun.

While the implementation of the schemes will challenge the health service over the coming months, I believe that it will lead to a more efficient health service in the long term.

Health Services

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

241 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the respite services provided to adults with intellectual disabilities in the mid west region have not been fully restored; the action she will take to have them fully restored so that families in the mid west receive an equivalent level of service as those in other parts of the country; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41521/10]

As the Deputy's question relates to service matters, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy.

Child Abuse

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

242 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health and Children when the review of all serious child neglect cases in County Roscommon commenced; the timetable for the completion of the review by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41566/10]

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

Hospital Waiting Lists

James Reilly

Ceist:

243 Deputy James Reilly asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Dublin will be given a date for a procedure sooner than advised; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41583/10]

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

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

244 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason there are different waiting times for different hospitals when it comes to persons seeking the assistance of the National Treatment Purchase Fund for a procedure or operation for which they have been waiting the requisite three months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41586/10]

The primary remit of the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) is to offer surgical procedures to public patients who have been waiting longest for surgery. Once a person has been waiting for longer than three months, he or she may be eligible for treatment through the Fund.

Where hospitals have significant numbers on a waiting-list, the Fund prioritises the provision of treatment to those waiting longest, in advance of patients who may have been waiting for a significantly shorter period.

Health Services

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

245 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an assessment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [41589/10]

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

Medical Aids and Appliances

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

246 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the provision of a special device for a person (details supplied) in Cork City. [41590/10]

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

Long-Term Illness Scheme

Noel Ahern

Ceist:

247 Deputy Noel Ahern asked the Minister for Health and Children the situation regarding the long-term illness card and if narcolepsy qualifies as being in the family of conditions approved under epilepsy; if narcolepsy can be allowed as covered under epilepsy or any other listed condition; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41593/10]

Narcolepsy is not an eligible condition under the Long Term Illness Scheme. There are no plans to extend the list of eligible conditions covered by the scheme.

Under the Drugs Payment Scheme no individual or family pays more than €120 per calendar month towards the cost of approved prescribed medicines. The scheme is easy to use and significantly reduces the cost burden for families and individuals incurring ongoing expenditure on medicines.

In addition, people who cannot, without undue hardship, arrange for the provision of medical services for themselves and their dependants may be entitled to a medical card. In the assessment process, the Health Service Executive can take into account medical costs incurred by an individual or a family. Those who are not eligible for a medical card may still be able to avail of a GP visit card, which covers the cost of general practice consultations.

Health Services

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

248 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children when approval will be given for replacement speech and language therapists in an organisation (details supplied) in County Limerick, where children suffering from autism are currently without this essential service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41596/10]

As the Deputy's question relates to service matters, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

249 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the extent to which school medical examinations are carried out on a methodical basis at all schools throughout the country; the extent of the diagnosis and follow up arising therefrom; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41685/10]

As the Deputy's question relates to a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Foster Care

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

250 Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Health and Children if she has made provision for grant aid for persons who are designated to become foster parents to undertake necessary home improvements. [41686/10]

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

Child Care Services

Jack Wall

Ceist:

251 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children her views in relation to a matter (details supplied); the actions she proposes to take to assist the persons in question; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41691/10]

Jack Wall

Ceist:

252 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on a matter (details supplied); the actions she proposes in seeking to address the concerns raised; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41692/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 251 and 252 together.

The new Childcare Education and Training Scheme (CETS) was introduced in September of this year and is being implemented by my Office, on behalf of FAS and the Vocational Educational Committees (VECs) under the Department of Education and Science in place of their previous childcare support schemes.

Under the previous FAS and VEC schemes, qualifying students and trainees were given a weekly Childcare Allowance of up to €63.50 per child as a contribution to their childcare costs. Under the new scheme, qualifying students and trainees can avail of childcare places free of charge and almost 3,000 full-time equivalent childcare places have been contracted in some 600 services throughout the State. This is the same number of places as previously provided for and places have been selected on the basis of information provided to my Office by FAS and the Department of Education and Skills. The eligibility criteria are unchanged and continue to be determined by FAS and the VECs.

Childcare services which were already in contract with my Office under either the free Pre-School Year under the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme and/or the Community Childcare Subvention scheme, were written to in June of this year and invited to apply for entry to the CETS scheme with effect from September 2010. Applications were returned to the City and County Childcare Committees in the first instance and then forwarded to my Office for approval. I understand that the service in question was not a participant in either the ECCE or Community Childcare Subvention scheme at that time and did not apply to enter the CETS scheme.

As the CETS scheme replaced two previously existing childcare support schemes, a flexible approach has been taken to ensure that the allocation of places matches the demand in each area from student and trainees with childcare requirements. This has included some adjustments being made to the initial allocation of places since the scheme commenced in September and, in some cases, the inclusion of services which were late in applying for entry. I understand that my Office has no record of an application having been received from the service referred to by the Deputy. However, should the service make a late application to my Office to enter the scheme, it will be processed and advised of the outcome in a matter of days. Assuming the service in question is admitted to the scheme, it would be open to the qualifying FAS trainee referred to by the Deputy to avail of the childcare support through this service.

Health Services

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

253 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin. [41717/10]

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

Daylight Saving Time

Olivia Mitchell

Ceist:

254 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Health and Children the cost in man hours of changing clocks from summer time to winter time and vice versa in public buildings; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41733/10]

There is no cost to my Department for the changing clocks from summer time to winter time and vice versa. I have forwarded your question to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

Road Network

Rory O'Hanlon

Ceist:

255 Deputy Rory O’Hanlon asked the Minister for Transport if the cross-Border study on the Ballynacarry bridge between County Monaghan and County Armagh has now been completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41071/10]

I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme element of Transport 21. The construction, improvement and maintenance of individual national roads is a matter for the National Roads Authority (NRA) under the Roads Acts 1993 to 2007 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

Telecommunications Services

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

256 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Transport if his Department operates any number utilising the Lo-Call designation, 1890; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that use of this number can impose additional costs on mobile phone users; if he will ensure that where such numbers are advertised in the press, on-line or in literature that this additional cost is noted, and that a standard geographic phone number is also given; if this is not currently done, if he will ensure that this will be done; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41249/10]

My Department operates a number of Lo-Call numbers. It is in general the practice of the Department to publish both Lo-Call and standard landline contact information together thus enabling callers to use whichever number is appropriate based on their individual contractual arrangements with mobile telephony providers. Given the variety and rapid changing nature of such contractual arrangements, I do not believe that it is appropriate to place the warning mentioned by the Deputy.

Daylight Saving Time

Olivia Mitchell

Ceist:

257 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Transport the cost in man hours of changing clocks from summer time to winter time and vice versa in public buildings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41738/10]

The bulk of the computerized equipment used in my Department has an automatic update facility. This and general advances in technology in recent years has ensured that any impact of the time change on working hours in the Department is negligible.

Visa Applications

Michael Noonan

Ceist:

258 Deputy Michael Noonan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform when a decision will issue on an application for a visa in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41171/10]

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the visa application referred to has been approved.

Prison Procedures

Joe Carey

Ceist:

259 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the type of control and restraint procedures in both adult and juvenile prisons as set out in the Control and Restraint handbook; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41056/10]

I am informed that the Irish Prison Service Control and Restraint Handbook is a confidential document which is only available to select Irish Prison Service Control and Restraint Instructors. The handbook was developed in 1993 and is regularly reviewed and updated, both internally and by an external expert, from another jurisdiction. As the release or wider publication of the information contained within this document could prejudice the effectiveness of operating control and restraint procedures within the prisons and mindful of prison security and prisoner safety, I regret to inform the Deputy that it is not possible to provide him with details of its contents.

Anti-social Behaviour

Charles Flanagan

Ceist:

260 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the progress that has been made in respect of the review of anti-social behaviour orders; the measures in place to tackle anti-social behaviour; his plans to tackle anti-social behaviour; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41077/10]

Strong provisions are in place to combat anti-social behaviour. The Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 modernised the law in this regard. Because of concerns about the abuse of alcohol and its contribution to public order offending and broader social problems, further provisions were brought forward to deal with alcohol abuse and its effect on public order in the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2003. The Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 2003 also provides the Gardaí with powers to deal with late night street violence and anti-social conduct attributable to excessive drinking.

The Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008 gives further powers to the Gardaí to tackle misuse of alcohol. Gardaí have the power to seize alcohol to prevent underage drinking in public places and to forestall public disorder or damage to property. Gardaí may also issue fixed charge notices for the offences of intoxication in a public place and disorderly conduct in a public place. These notices are a more efficient and effective use of Garda resources and avoid court proceedings when an offender pays the penalty.

One of the policing priorities which I set for An Garda Síochána in 2010 was to achieve the maximum levels of safety for local communities. Following on from this, the Garda Síochána Policing Plan for 2010 includes as one of its key actions the reduction of public disorder, assaults and criminal damage by focusing on a range of measures. These include identifying and proactively targeting local ‘hot spots', a faster response to reports of public disorder and antisocial behaviour, adopting a low tolerance stance to alcohol and drug related anti-social behaviour and youth crime, the introduction of a youth crime case management system. The Garda's Operation Encounter has been in operation since 2002 to target public disorder and anti-social behaviour, and it specifically targets offences contrary to the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 and the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1988. In the region of 615,000 offences have been detected since the commencement of the Operation. An Garda Síochána participate fully in the joint policing committees established in each local authority area, all of which attach importance to combating anti-social behaviour in their areas.

CCTV plays an important role in supporting the work of An Garda Síochána in deterring anti-social behaviour. Garda CCTV systems are deployed at a wide range of locations throughout the country on the basis of operational needs. In addition, my Department has provided financial assistance towards the capital costs of establishing community-based CCTV systems.

The Garda Adult Cautioning Scheme enables warnings to be issued to offenders in certain circumstances (specified by the Director of Public Prosecutions), instead of their being prosecuted. This reduces the volume of cases prosecuted through the courts by An Garda Síochána and allows less serious offenders, who are considered unlikely to re-offend, to have their cases dealt with expeditiously. It also forces offenders to confront the reality of the offences they have committed. Most of the offences covered by the Scheme are public order and anti-social behaviour offences and include offences under the Public Order Act 1994.

Tackling youth crime is a key priority for this Government. The Government's policy on youth crime is set out in detail in the National Youth Justice Strategy 2008 — 2010. This strategy is underpinned by the principles of the Children Act 2001, as amended. The approach adopted involves the deployment of Garda juvenile liaison officers, community Gardaí and the use of measures such as the Garda Diversion Programme, Garda youth diversion projects, young persons probation projects and community sanctions, in addition to the incremental process of warnings, good behaviour contracts and anti-social behaviour orders under the Criminal Justice Act 2006.

An Garda Síochána works very closely with local authorities in enforcing the provisions of housing legislation in respect of anti-social behaviour by persons provided with local authority housing and related matters.

Part 11 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 provides for civil proceedings in relation to anti-social behaviour by adults, and Part 13 of the Act relates to anti-social behaviour by children. These provisions set out an incremental procedure for addressing anti-social behaviour. For children, these range from a behaviour warning from a member of An Garda Síochána, to a good behaviour contract involving the child and his or her parents or guardian, to referral to the Garda Juvenile Diversion Programme and to the making of a behaviour order by the Children Court, and for adults they provide for a behaviour warning and a civil order.

The range of legislative, policy and operational measures which target anti-social behaviour, including those provided for in the Criminal Justice Act 2006, are under constant review by my Department, in consultation with other relevant Departments and the Garda authorities.

Charles Flanagan

Ceist:

261 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform his views in respect of recent proposals (details supplied) regarding the establishment of dedicated anti-social behaviour units; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41078/10]

Tackling youth crime, including antisocial behaviour, is a key priority for the Government. The Government's policy on youth crime is set out in detail in the National Youth Justice Strategy 2008-2010. This strategy is underpinned by the principles of the Children Act 2001. The approach adopted by the Government involves an incremental process of diversion from the formal criminal justice system, community sanctions as alternatives to custody and detention as a last resort. In the case of anti-social behaviour the diversion process includes the use of warnings, good behaviour contracts and anti-social behaviour orders, where appropriate.

This approach confronts youth crime and related behaviours in an incremental way. An Garda Síochána, especially Juvenile Liaison Officers and Community Gardaí, operate the Garda Diversion Programme. They have the support of 100 Garda Youth Diversion Projects across the country. These community based projects, which are funded by the Irish Youth Justice Service and delivered in collaboration with An Garda Síochána and voluntary youth organisations, have a clear role in intervening to challenge bad behaviour and to promote good behaviour. The projects have re-focused their approach to tackling the offending behaviour following the publication in 2009 of a study by the Irish Youth Justice Service on designing effective local responses to youth crime. This report is available on the IYJS website. The implementation of the reports findings are well advanced and are specifically designed to target behavioural change in the children attending the projects.

There are strong legal provisions in place to combat anti-social behaviour. They provide the Gardaí with powers to deal with late night street violence and anti-social conduct attributable to excessive drinking. Gardaí have the power to seize alcohol in the possession of an under 18 year old which they suspect is for consumption in a public place. They can also seize alcohol where they reasonably believe that there is the danger of public disorder or damage to property and require the person to leave the place. Gardaí may also issue fixed charge notices for the offences of intoxication in a public place and disorderly conduct in a public place. These notices are a more efficient and effective use of Garda resources and avoid court proceedings when an offender pays the penalty. An Garda Síochána works to reduce public disorder by identifying and proactively targeting local hot spots and responding quickly to reports of public disorder and anti-social behaviour.

A proposal for "dedicated antisocial behaviour units", referred to by the Deputy was mentioned in a recent newspaper article. The article appears to have overlooked the key role of An Garda Síochána in tackling anti-social behaviour which I have outlined above and it also appears to have misunderstood the role of Garda Youth Diversion Projects. I have no plans for the establishment of such units.

Visa Applications

Ruairí Quinn

Ceist:

262 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the percentage of visa decisions, excluding appeals, reviewed each month either by a senior official in his Department or by senior management in the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service; how these visa decisions are chosen for review; of those reviewed in the past 12 months, the percentage found to be unreasonable and subsequently overturned; the actions taken if an official’s decision in the first instance is found to be unreasonable; if he will provide a copy of the regulations concerning the review procedure of visa decisions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41091/10]

As stated in my reply to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 156 and 157 of 24 June 2010, a percentage of decisions made by Visa Officers are reviewed weekly by a more senior official. While the number of visa applications fluctuate from week to week, on average 10% of decisions are selected for review. While records are not kept in such a way as to indicate definitively the number of such reviews which have resulted in a change to the original decision, I can inform the Deputy that the number of such changes is very low. The purpose of the review is to assure the quality of the Visa Officers' work and to ensure that all guidelines are being adhered to; there is also a training and mentoring aspect to this approach. A percentage of each Visa Officer's decisions are selected with the aim of ensuring that weekly reviews cover all visa categories — study, visits, join family, business and events.

Where processing issues are identified during these reviews, these are discussed by the Visa Processing Supervisor and the Visa Officer concerned, the goal being to raise awareness of the need to adhere strictly to the guidelines throughout the processing stage. If necessary, the original decision is changed from refusal to grant of visa, or vice versa. An added safeguard is in place in that, at any stage during the processing procedure, Visa Officers may refer applications to their Supervisor for a second opinion in order to ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that a correct decision is reached. This is particularly the case in instances where matters of a more complex nature arise or where no previous precedent arises. It should also be noted that refusal decisions are generally made on the basis of a number of refusal reasons within the application.

As the Deputy is aware, where an applicant is not satisfied with the decision at first instance, it is open to that applicant to lodge an appeal of the decision to refuse a visa within two months of the date of refusal. A visa appeal is free of charge to the applicant.

As with all visa applications in all countries worldwide, the central concern is to strike an appropriate balance between protecting the country's vital national interests by maintaining an effective immigration regime, while at the same time not placing unnecessary or unreasonable obstacles in the way of those who intend travelling for legitimate purposes and who are likely to abide by the terms of their visa. Each visa application is decided on its individual merits and every effort is made to achieve this balance.

Finally, the Irish visa regime operates in exercise of permissive powers conferred on the Minister by the Immigration Act 2004 and the Immigration Act 2004 (Visa) (No.2) Order 2009. The visa processing guidelines and procedures are administrative in nature, are widely publicised on our website, and are essentially based on experience, investigation and verification of the information provided by each applicant, cooperation and information sharing with the immigration services of other countries, best practice and local knowledge. They are not specifically provided for in either primary or secondary legislation. The Immigration Residence and Protection Bill 2010 currently at Committee stage will, when enacted, set out statutory procedures to be followed in dealing with applications for visas.

Ruairí Quinn

Ceist:

263 Deputy Ruairí Quinn asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform, further to Parliamentary Question No. 156 of 24 June 2010, if he will confirm that visa officials are not qualified to carry out their own English tests by phone or interview; the reason the discretion for acceptance of a student on an educational course has been removed from education institutions and now rests solely with the deciding officer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41092/10]

I can advise the Deputy that Visa Officers, in considering visa applications, do not carry out English language tests by telephone or face-to-face interview. The question, therefore, of their proficiency to carry out English language tests does not arise.

The Deputy may be aware that there are a number of accredited organisations involved in testing and providing certification in English language proficiency. As mentioned in my response to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 156 and 157 of 24 June 2010, it is recommended that Study Visa applicants, regardless of nationality or educational background, undertake the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) English Language Test or a recognised equivalent. Where English language proficiency is established by Study Visa applicants, they are advised to provide original certification of this with their visa application. Along with a range of other investigations and checks, it is part of the routine investigative role of the Visa Officer to check into the validity of this certification. As part of this wider investigative role, or for the purposes of clarification of aspects of the visa application, a Visa Officer may very occasionally conduct a face-to-face interview with any visa applicant (including a study visa applicant), or an interview over the telephone where the applicant is face-to-face with an Honorary Consul. Such contact with visa applicants is a routine part of the visa application process for most countries around the world.

My Department has no role in selecting or recruiting students for programmes of study in Irish schools and colleges. This is the task of the schools and colleges themselves, and is often done with the assistance of a local agent. While evidence of acceptance on a course of study (from the educational provider) is a prerequisite in considering a Study Visa application, discretion rests, as has always been the case, with the Visa Officer as to whether a visa should be granted having regard to all relevant factors.

Finally, my Department continually examines ways in which the visa process can facilitate the promotion of Ireland's economic and other interests, while at the same time considering the needs of an effective immigration regime. In this respect, as the Deputy will be aware, a document entitled "New Immigration Regime For Full Time Non-EEA Students" was launched by the Government on 22 September. This was in tandem with the Government's five-year strategy document "Investing in Global Relationships: Ireland's International Education Strategy 2010-15". Copies of these documents are available from the websites of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service and the Department of Education and Skills respectively.

Road Traffic Offences

Tom Hayes

Ceist:

264 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of arrests that have been made in relation to lorries or trucks travelling at more than 80 km/h each year since 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41105/10]

The Gardaí issue fixed charge notices in respect of speeding offences involving lorries or trucks so the question of arrests in respect of the offences themselves does not generally arise.

If the Deputy clarifies precisely what information is being sought, I will pursue the matter.

Garda Vetting

Sean Sherlock

Ceist:

265 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the numbers of persons awaiting a decision on Garda clearance; the number of applications that are in respect of a job application; the average processing time of applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41134/10]

The Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU) provides employment vetting for a large number of organisations in Ireland which are registered with the Gardaí for this purpose.

Since 2004 the service has been, and continues to be, extended to organisations working with children and/or vulnerable adults. Over that period there has been a substantial increase in the numbers of vetting applications received by the GCVU. In 2007 it received 187,864, rising to 218,404 in 2008. In 2009 it received over 246,000 applications. I am informed by the Garda Authorities that at the end of October there were over 60,000 vetting applications in the course of being processed and that the current average processing time for vetting applications received at the GCVU is approximately 12 weeks.

The GCVU does not maintain records of placements or employment received by vetting subjects with the organisations which have sought the vetting. That is a matter for the organisations themselves. It is, therefore, not possible to give the information sought by the Deputy.

Taxi Licences

Olivia Mitchell

Ceist:

266 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the reason a taxi licence application to the Garda carriage office in Santry has not been processed in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 16, despite the fact that the application was submitted on 11 May 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41164/10]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that an application from the person referred to was received on 11 May, 2010 and is currently being processed in accordance with standard procedures, which in this instance has necessitated additional enquiries.

I am further informed that the applicant has been kept fully informed on the current status of his application and the reason for the delay.

Closed Circuit Television Systems

Charles Flanagan

Ceist:

267 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the cost of maintaining and upgrading the Garda closed circuit television network in each of the years from 2005 to 2009 and to date in 2010, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41169/10]

Garda CCTV schemes are planned and implemented on the basis of the Garda Commissioner's identified operational needs and priorities.

On the basis of information provided by the Garda authorities, the information requested by the Deputy is outlined in the table:

Year

Capital Expenditure

Maintenance

2005

45,665

127,101

2006

279,349

586,663

2007

1,458,758

315,554

2008

6,134,113

389,163

2009

2,539,686

436,012

Total

10,457,751

1,854,493

The Deputy will appreciate that it is not possible to provide the costs for 2010 at this stage.

Departmental Correspondence

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

268 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will support the case of a person (details supplied). [41200/10]

I have requested a report from the Garda authorities in relation to the matter referred to by the Deputy. I will contact the Deputy again when the report is to hand.

Garda Transport

Brian Hayes

Ceist:

269 Deputy Brian Hayes asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of Garda cars and vans per Garda district that are currently in operation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41224/10]

The detailed allocation of Garda resources, including transport, is a matter for the Garda Commissioner to decide in accordance with his identified operational requirements and priorities.

On the basis of information provided by the Garda authorities, the information requested by the Deputy is outlined in the table:

District

Cars

Vans

Total

Abbeyleix

4

0

4

Angelsea Street

53

9

62

Ardee

4

0

4

Ashbourne

15

1

16

Askeaton

6

0

6

Athlone

10

2

12

Baileboro

8

0

8

Balbriggan

11

2

13

Ballina

7

2

9

Ballinasloe

7

1

8

Ballyconnell

4

0

4

Ballymote

5

0

5

Ballymun

41

17

58

Ballyshannon

12

3

15

Baltinglass

10

0

10

Bandon

16

2

18

Bantry

6

0

6

Belmullet

4

0

4

Birr

6

1

7

Blackrock

19

2

21

Blanchardstown

47

3

50

Boyle

5

0

5

Bray

21

3

24

Bridewell

9

3

12

Bruff

6

1

7

Buncrana

13

2

15

Caherciveen

6

0

6

Cahir

10

0

10

Carlow

12

2

14

Carrick On Shannon

8

1

9

Carrickmacross

7

1

8

Castlebar

9

3

12

Castlerea

5

2

7

Cavan

9

2

11

Claremorris

10

0

10

Clifden

6

0

6

Clonakilty

7

1

8

Clondalkin

27

5

32

Clonmel

9

1

10

Cobh

6

2

8

Coolock

30

3

33

Crumlin

23

6

29

DMR Traffic — Dublin Castle

21

5

26

Donnybrook

10

5

15

Drogheda

11

3

14

Dundalk

19

1

20

Dungarvan

8

1

9

Dun Laoghaire

16

8

24

Ennis

16

4

20

Enniscorthy

10

2

12

Ennistymon

4

1

5

Fermoy

11

2

13

Fitzgibbon Street

20

4

24

Galway

33

9

42

Glenties

6

1

7

Gorey

9

1

10

Gort

2

0

2

Granard

5

0

5

Gurranabraher

8

1

9

Kanturk

6

1

7

Kells

9

0

9

Kevin Street

15

4

19

Kildare

18

1

19

Kilkenny

14

3

17

Killaloe

4

0

4

Killarney

5

3

8

Kilrush

4

2

6

Laytown

4

1

5

Leixlip

9

0

9

Letterkenny

19

6

25

Limerick City North

35

10

45

Limerick City South

11

2

13

Listowel

8

1

9

Longford

9

2

11

Loughrea

6

0

6

Lucan

18

6

24

Macroom

10

1

11

Mallow

8

1

9

Manorhamilton

6

0

6

Mayfield

7

4

11

Midleton

8

1

9

Milford

7

1

8

Monaghan

17

5

22

Mullingar

28

7

35

Naas

14

5

19

Navan

11

3

14

Nenagh

5

1

6

New Ross

9

0

9

Newcastlewest

6

1

7

Pearse Street

23

4

27

Portlaoise

20

1

21

Raheny

19

2

21

Roscommon

8

4

12

Salthill

12

1

13

Sligo

21

6

27

Store Street

24

5

29

Swinford

8

0

8

Tallaght

27

5

32

Templemore

9

3

12

Terenure

13

2

15

Thomastown

12

2

14

Thurles

9

1

10

Tipperary

2

1

3

Togher

11

2

13

Tralee

11

3

14

Tramore

7

0

7

Trim

6

1

7

Tuam

11

0

11

Tullamore

14

3

17

Waterford

22

4

26

Westport

5

1

6

Wexford

14

2

16

Wicklow

12

2

14

Total

1,392

258

1,650

Daylight Saving Time

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

270 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he has contacted his counterpart in the British Government on current UK proposals to move to central European time; if so, if he will indicate the status of this proposal and whether the British Home Secretary has indicated to him the likely timeframe for the implementation of this proposal; his views on the likely impact of the abolition of winter time on the Republic of Ireland, especially in the Border region; if he will ask an Oireachtas committee to prepare an urgent study on this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41225/10]

I can inform the Deputy that my Department, in accordance with EU Directive 2000/84/EC, compiled and communicated submissions in respect of this issue to the European Commission from a number of relevant Departments and semi-state bodies in July 2007.

Following consideration of the information made available to it from Member States, the European Commission reported that it took the view that the analysis set out in the proposal for the directive remained valid and that no member state had expressed a wish to abandon summer time or change the provisions of the current directive. Accordingly, I can advise the Deputy that there are no plans to change the present summer time arrangements.

I also wish to inform the Deputy that I have not had discussions with the British Government regarding proposals to change their time zone to central European time.

Telecommunications Services

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

271 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if his Department operates any number utilising the lo-call designation, 1890; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that use of this number can impose additional costs on mobile phone users; if he will ensure that where such numbers are advertised in the press, online or in literature, this additional cost is noted and a standard phone number is also given; if this is not currently done, if he will ensure that this will be done; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41245/10]

I can inform the Deputy that my Department currently operates four telephone numbers utilising the Lo-call designation, ‘1890'. These Lo-call numbers and the standard land-line phone numbers for my Department are listed in the State Directory.

On our advertisement in the State Directory, a note is included with the following information "Note that the rates charged for the use of the 1890 (Lo-call) numbers may vary among different service providers". This note has also been added to my Department's website. My Department will in future ensure, where possible for all Lo-call numbers advertised in the press, on-line or in literature, that this additional cost is noted and that a standard land-line phone number is also given.

Asylum Support Services

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

272 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if women in direct provision centres have been consulted directly to establish their views on whether women-only centres are warranted or desirable for they and their children’s safety. [41400/10]

The Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) of my Department is responsible for the accommodation of asylum seekers in accordance with the Government policy of direct provision. The RIA currently operates 46 accommodation centres across the State. Of these 46 centres, 3 are for family accommodation only, 28 (such as Mosney) are a mix of family and single accommodation and 15 are for single persons only.

In procuring and managing its accommodation, the RIA must take into consideration overall demand for accommodation and the changing profile of family groups. The RIA has always found that the accommodation of single women at family centres is the optimum for their accommodation needs. Experience has shown that family centres also allow for life events, such as newborn children, children reaching adulthood (both male and female) or the arrival into the State of spouses, partners and children (including adult children) to join a single or family unit, as well as relationships which break up. This minimises, to the greatest extent possible within the direct provision structure, the upheaval to residents over time. Single male centres do not experience this level of change as, normally, the movement would be of the single male towards a family unit where such life events arise.

RIA is charged with providing the ‘best accommodation fit' for its residents having regard to the overall business needs and logistical and value for money challenges across its portfolio generally. In that context, there is a limit to which individual preferences, whether established by direct consultation or otherwise, can be met. Moreover, these preferences are subject to constant change. The RIA is mindful of the needs of men, women and children who require RIA assistance and this is reflected in the accommodation structure, security, health and safety arrangements, child protection, Garda vetting and parenting policies. In addition, the RIA works with HSE services locally to facilitate access to public health nurses, GPs and other services on-site or in the community.

Departmental Staff

John O'Mahony

Ceist:

273 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 201 of 20 October 2010, when this information will be supplied; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41401/10]

The information sought by the Deputy in respect of my Department, and the agencies and executive offices staffed by it, is set out as follows. In 2008 the Department employed a total of 43 staff on fixed term contracts at a total salary cost of approximately €1.8 million. In 2009 the Department employed a total of 33 staff on fixed term contracts at a total salary cost of approximately €1.4 million. These figures do not include individuals who were appointed to cover temporary shortfalls arising from staff absences on term time etc. It also excludes individuals who were appointed on work placements or under intern schemes.

Residency Permits

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

274 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding an application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 2; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41405/10]

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 9 February 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 accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006.

The person concerned submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection. 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.

I should remind the Deputy that queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to INIS by Email using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. The service enables up-to-date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek this information through the more administratively expensive Parliamentary Questions process.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

275 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding an application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 2; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41406/10]

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 11 August 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 accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006.

The person concerned submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection. 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.

I should remind the Deputy that queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to INIS by Email using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. The service enables up-to-date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek this information through the more administratively expensive Parliamentary Questions process.

Refugee Status

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

276 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding an application for leave to remain here in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41407/10]

I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that the person concerned is the subject of a Family Reunification application made in November 2009.

The application was forwarded to the Refugee Applications Commissioner for investigation as required under Section 18 of the Refugee Act 1996. This investigation is completed and the Commissioner has forwarded a report to INIS.

This application will be considered by INIS and a decision will issue in due course. Applications are currently taking approximately 19 months to process.

I should remind the Deputy that queries in relation to the status of individual Immigration cases may be made direct to INIS by Email using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. The service enables up-to-date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek this information through the more administratively expensive Parliamentary Questions process.

Deportation Orders

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

277 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding an application for leave to remain under subsidiary protection application in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41408/10]

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 7 October 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 accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006.

The person concerned submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection. 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.

I should remind the Deputy that queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to INIS by Email using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. The service enables up-to-date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek this information through the more administratively expensive Parliamentary Questions process.

Residency Permits

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

278 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 2; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41409/10]

I refer the Deputy to my detailed Replies to his recent Parliamentary Questions, Nos. 970 and 1090 of Wednesday, 29th September, 2010 and No. 369 of Tuesday, 12th October, 2010, in this matter.

The position in the State of the person concerned will now 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.

I should remind the Deputy that queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to INIS by Email using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. The service enables up-to-date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek this information through the more administratively expensive Parliamentary Questions process.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

279 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the current or expected residency status in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Louth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41410/10]

I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that the person referred to by the Deputy has no application pending for residency. The person concerned is the subject of a Deportation Order, signed on 27 October 2010, following a comprehensive and thorough examination of his asylum claim and his application for subsidiary protection, and a detailed examination of the representations he submitted for consideration under Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended).

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 Garda National Immigration Bureau.

I should remind the Deputy that queries in relation to the status of individual Immigration cases may be made directly to INIS by Email using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. The service enables up-to-date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek this information through the more administratively expensive Parliamentary Questions process.

Garda Recruitment

Seán Ardagh

Ceist:

280 Deputy Seán Ardagh asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform when the next intake from the Garda recruitment panel will take place; when the next Garda training programme will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41425/10]

Shane McEntee

Ceist:

281 Deputy Shane McEntee asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform when the next batch of Garda recruits will be sent to Templemore for training and the number of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41451/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 280 and 281 together.

The general moratorium on recruitment and appointments in the Public Service continues to apply to the Garda Síochána. The purpose of initiating a Garda recruitment campaign at this time is to begin a process of establishing a panel of approved candidates who will be available to meet future Garda recruitment needs in line with Government policy. This forward planning is necessary given the lead time involved both in establishing such a panel and in training recruits to the point of attestation. The Garda recruitment process is managed by the Public Appointments Service on behalf of the Commissioner and I have no function in that matter.

Prison Accommodation

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

282 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the cost of security on a site (details supplied) for 2010; the corresponding figure for the previous year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41463/10]

The cost of the provision of security at the site for the new prison development at Thornton Hall, Kilsallaghan, County Dublin in 2009 was €2,724. The cost to September 2010 was €2,702. I am advised by the Irish Prison Service that the requirement for security at Thornton Hall is reviewed on a regular basis having regard to the level of construction related activity taking place at the site.

Taxi Regulations

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

283 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will deal with a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41476/10]

I am informed by the Garda authorities, which assist the Commission for Taxi Regulation and issue small public service licences, that they have received no reports of cloning of taxi plates. Any such reports received will be investigated.

Garda Operations

Ciaran Lynch

Ceist:

284 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if section 99 of the Charities Act 2009 has been enabled and if it is being implemented by the Garda Síochána; the number of prosecution to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41480/10]

The Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs is responsible for the Charities Act 2009 and he has advised me that section 99 of the Act has been brought into operation. I have also been informed, however, that the section is the subject of a constitutional challenge which is currently pending on appeal before the Supreme Court.

Proposed Legislation

Charles Flanagan

Ceist:

285 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 365 of 2 February 2010, if he has reviewed the matter of cash for gold outlets; his plans to regulate the industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41546/10]

Neither my Department nor the Garda Síochána have any function in relation to the regulation of legal transactions in jewellery and gold. The informal purchase of jewellery and precious items is not specifically regulated in criminal legislation; however, the circumstances under which they are bought or sold may indicate the commission of certain offences. For example, the handling of stolen property and or the possession of stolen property which are offences under Sections 17 and 18 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act, 2001 respectively may be indicated through the specific circumstances under which transactions are effected.

The Garda Síochána enforce the provisions of the criminal law in respect of theft and robbery, including the theft and robbery of jewellery and gold. Garda management is aware that a number of outlets have been established in various areas that are buying gold for cash. A number of established jewellers are also buying gold and jewellery for cash.

If members of the public have suspicions that goods being sold or traded may be stolen the correct action is for these suspicions to be referred to the Garda Síochána for investigation.

The issue of whether the operation of the outlets in question contributes to the commission of offences is being kept under review.

Prison Visiting Committees

Alan Shatter

Ceist:

286 Deputy Alan Shatter asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will provide details of the cost in each of the past three years in respect of each of the 15 prison visiting committees; the expenses paid to each member of each prison visiting committee; if he will detail all other costs in each of the past three years connected with each visiting committee’s work and the drafting and publication of all prison visiting committee reports [41565/10]

A Visiting Committee is appointed to each prison under the Prisons (Visiting Committees) Act, 1925 and Prisons (Visiting Committees) Order, 1925. The function of Visiting Committees is to visit at frequent intervals the prison to which they are appointed and hear any complaints which may be made to them by any prisoner. They report to me any abuses observed or found by them in the prison and any repairs which they think may be urgently needed. The Visiting Committee members have free access either collectively or individually to every part of their prison.

Members of the 14 Visiting Committees are appointed by the Minister for Justice and Law Reform for a term not exceeding three years. A new expenses regime was brought into effect on 1 January, 2006. This new system replaced a travel and subsistence expense type system and provides for a per diem payment at a current rate of €142.50 per visit or meeting, which is subject to tax, and a vouched travel expenses allowance of up to € 30 per visit / meeting. The compilation of statistics relating to amounts paid to individual visiting committee members by way of travel and subsistence for each of the past four years would require a disproportionate and inordinate amount of staff time and effort to prepare and could not be justified in current circumstances where there are other significant demands on resources.

However, the following table sets out the total expenditure paid out to the Visiting Committees over each of the past six years.

Year

Total

2004

338,540.58

2005

278,646.86

2006

234,359.00

2007

254,400.00

2008

262,650.00

2009

250.350.00

Official Transport

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

287 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of official cars in use for court judges in 2008, 2009 and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41592/10]

An Office Holder car is provided, pursuant to a long standing arrangement, for the Chief Justice. Garda drivers are provided for judges under specific circumstances. It is not the practice and it would be contrary to the public interest to disclose the extent and level of protection afforded to members of the judiciary.

Refugee Appeals Tribunal

John Perry

Ceist:

288 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the reason close scheduling of appeal hearings has continued over the past ten years at the Refugee Appeals Tribunal, despite repeated complaints and requests by applicants’ legal representatives to change same, in order to give more time between each appeal hearing and accordingly to eliminate additional costs; if he will request the authorities at the Refugee Appeals Tribunal to change this scheduling procedure to eliminate unnecessary costs and make savings in all Departments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41693/10]

John Perry

Ceist:

289 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will provide, for the period 1 January 2010 to 31 October 2010, the number of appeal hearings that were late starting due to the overrunning of previous appeal hearings; the time period each such appeal was late commencing; the additional cost of interpreters for each such time delay; the number of appeal hearings that had to be completely adjourned by reason of time constraints due to this over scheduling and the amount of the additional costs to the taxpayer in having to re-attend on new hearing dates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41694/10]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 288 and 289 together.

Firstly, I would point out that the Refugee Appeals Tribunal is statutorily independent in the performance of its functions under the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended). The Chairman of the Tribunal is obliged under the Act to ensure that the business of the Tribunal is managed efficiently and that the business assigned to members is disposed of expeditiously. Accordingly it would not be appropriate for me to interfere with or instruct the Tribunal in this regard.

I am advised by the Chairman that there is no policy of "close scheduling" in the Tribunal. The Tribunal endeavours, in co-operation with Members, to manage the complex task of scheduling in the most efficient way possible. It is difficult to forecast with accuracy the duration of hearings given the nature of the task, i.e. a hearing may take an unexpected direction and evidence given may be lengthier and more time consuming than anticipated. Members of the Tribunal are given three weeks notice of their hearing schedule. Where a Member advises that the time allocated for a hearing may be insufficient, the Tribunal will adjust the schedule accordingly.

Records are not maintained in the Tribunal in relation to the information sought by the Deputy concerning late commencement of hearings.

John Perry

Ceist:

290 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the additional cost to the taxpayer for a rescheduled hearing (details supplied) to include travelling expenses, subsistence allowance, attendance fee in respect of the applicant, his legal representative, witnesses and interpreter, for a new re-scheduled hearing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41695/10]

The Deputy will be aware that owing to the confidentiality provisions of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended), it is not the practice to comment in any respect in relation to asylum applications which might be pending. Details in relation to the overall costs to the taxpayer arising from the attendance of applicants at Tribunal hearings are not readily available as the costs involved are spread across various services including the Community Welfare Officer Service, the Refugee Legal Service, the Reception and Integration Agency and the Refugee Appeals Tribunal itself.

Subsidiary Protection

John Perry

Ceist:

291 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform since the introduction of subsidiary protection in October 2006 under the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006, the number of persons that have applied for such subsidiary protection under these regulations; the number of persons that have been granted such subsidiary protection under these regulations; the number of persons that have been refused subsidiary protection; the number of applications still outstanding in which no decision has yet been made, for the period October 2006 to December 2006, and the years 2007, 2008, 2009 to 31 October 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41696/10]

Subsidiary Protection (SP) under the provisions of the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations, 2006 is a form of international protection offered to those persons who do not meet the criteria for recognition as a refugee but who nonetheless claim a risk of serious harm in their country of origin if repatriated there. Each application for Subsidiary Protection in the State is considered on the basis of its individual merits, having regard for the claims made by the applicant and measured against objective, reputable, up to date information relating to the applicant's country of origin.

A total of 6,356 applications for Subsidiary Protection have been made by failed asylum seekers between October 2006 and October 2010. Grant decisions have been made in 34 cases and refusal decisions in 1,609 cases. 38 applications made in 2006 are outstanding as are 402 made in 2007, 623 made in 2008, 1,529 made in 2009 and 1,132 up to October in 2010. I must point out that not all applications are eligible for consideration and other applications are not processed because the applicant has left the process for various reasons.

Prison Medical Service

Lucinda Creighton

Ceist:

292 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of reports and complaints relating to influenza, smallpox, swine flu and tuberculosis in all prisons here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41707/10]

I can inform the Deputy that in the last three years there were only three confirmed cases of Tuberculosis and only one of Swine Flu amongst the prisoner population. In relation to Smallpox, the World Health Organisation certified the eradication of this disease in 1979. This was endorsed by the World Health Assembly in 1980.

As the gathering of information on the number of influenza cases throughout the prison estate would require accessing each individual prisoner's medical record, the gathering of such information would require a disproportionate and inordinate amount of staff time and effort and could not be justified in current circumstances where there are other significant demands on resources.

Temporary Release of Prisoners

Lucinda Creighton

Ceist:

293 Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of persons here who have been granted temporary release from prison and who cannot be accounted for as of 26 October 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41710/10]

The vast majority of the persons referred to are at large because of a technical breach, i.e., failing to sign on at the prison at an allotted time having been granted temporary release. I can advise the Deputy that the number of persons who have been granted temporary release from prison and were classified as unlawfully at large as of 26 October 2010 was 539. A significant number are unlawfully at large for only a short period of time; in this context, it should be noted that of the above total, 71 prisoners returned within the following seventy two hours.

The Gardaí are informed where prisoners are unlawfully at large and have the power to detain, arrest and return such persons to prison. I can also advise the Deputy that ongoing contact takes place between the Gardaí and the Prison Service in relation to persons at large.

The Criminal Justice Act 1960, as amended by the Criminal Justice (Temporary Release of Prisoners) Act 2003 provides that the Minister may approve the temporary release of a sentenced prisoner. This discretionary instrument assists in gradually preparing suitable offenders for release and in administering short sentences, and is an incentive to well-behaved prisoners.

Temporary release arrangements operate similarly to a system of parole, which is a feature of prison systems worldwide. They are an important vehicle for re-integrating an offender into the community in a planned way. The generally accepted view is that the risk to the community is reduced by planned re-integration of offenders compared with their return to the community on the completion of their full sentence. Each case is examined on its own merits and the safety of the public is paramount when decisions are made. In addition, all releases are subject to conditions, which in the vast majority of cases include a requirement to report on a regular basis to the offender's Garda Station. Of course, any offender who breaches his or her conditions may be arrested and returned to prison immediately by the Gardaí.

Daylight Saving Time

Olivia Mitchell

Ceist:

294 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the cost in man hours, of changing clocks from summer time to winter time and vice versa in public buildings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41734/10]

I wish to inform the Deputy that the information requested is not available. I also wish to inform the Deputy that the overwhelming majority of clocks in my Department, such as those on computer and telephone systems, are electronic in nature and the time adjustments concerned take place automatically giving rise to no additional costs.

Good Friday Agreement

Eamon Gilmore

Ceist:

295 Deputy Eamon Gilmore asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he has raised with the British Prime Minister the commitment contained in the Good Friday Agreement that consideration would be given to the introduction of a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland; the response he has received; if he will give a commitment to raise this matter at his next meeting with the Prime Minister; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41128/10]

I meet regularly with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to discuss developments in Northern Ireland and to review our shared responsibilities as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement. The Government remains firmly committed to ensuring the full and effective implementation of all aspects of the Agreement, including the provision for a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland. At meetings with the Secretary of State, I have stressed the importance of ensuring that a Bill of Rights, separate and specific to the present and historical context of Northern Ireland, is enacted. The Government has made clear, in all contacts with the British Government, that this issue remains a priority and we will continue to press for early progress in this regard.

Passport Applications

Seán Barrett

Ceist:

296 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the reason for the delay in renewal of a passport in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41098/10]

A passport application from the person in question was received in the office of the Consulate General of Ireland in Sydney, on 29 September, 2010. The application was incomplete and there were problems with the photographs. The consulate contacted the applicant that same day and advised that further documentation and new photographs were required. No response was received from the applicant so the consulate made contact with her again on 5 October, 2010. New photographs and additional documents were received in the consulate on 15 October, 2010. The application was dealt with on that day and submitted to Dublin for processing

Properly completed applications submitted at Irish missions abroad take between four and six weeks to process. It is expected that this passport will be available in the Consulate by 22 November, 2010. Once received by the consulate, it will be dispatched directly to the applicant.

International Agreements

Seán Barrett

Ceist:

297 Deputy Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs when the EU-Korea free trade agreement will be ratified at EU level and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41106/10]

On 6 October 2010, the European Union and the Republic of Korea signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in Brussels, immediately prior to the start of the fifth summit meeting between the two sides. Earlier, in May, both sides had signed an EU-Korea Framework Agreement, which provides a broad platform for bilateral cooperation, including on global political and economic issues.

The FTA itself is the most comprehensive free trade agreement ever negotiated by the EU. It eliminates tariffs on nearly all industrial products within 3 years, as well as eliminating tariffs on agricultural products. It will significantly liberalise trade in services, including telecommunications and financial services. The FTA will also open new opportunities for EU exporters in the Korean public procurement market, where EU companies will be better able to compete against local enterprises. Other issues of importance to exporters, such as trade facilitation (smoother customs procedures), clarity of regulation, dispute resolution and recognition of standards are also addressed in the FTA.

The FTA opens opportunities for Irish exporters of goods and services. Many of our top exports to South Korea will benefit from the liberalisation of trade provided for in the FTA. The main products in this regard include pharmaceuticals, electronics, medical devices and spirits.

It is proposed that Ireland will ratify both the FTA and the Framework Agreement in 2011 and that the necessary motions requesting Dáil Éireann to approve the terms and conditions of both Agreements will be submitted by the middle of next year.

The FTA will provisionally enter into force on 1 July 2011. Provisional application of the FTA will secure the principal benefits of the Agreement for European exporters at the initial stage pending the conclusion of internal ratification procedures by each EU Member State. The FTA will enter into force definitively on the first day of the month following the date that confirmation has been received that the relevant ratification procedures have been completed in all 27 EU Member States.

As required under the Lisbon Treaty, the Korea FTA has been referred to the European Parliament for its assent and I understand that the matter is currently being considered by the International Trade Committee (INTA). The European Parliament and the Council are also required to approve safeguard measures accompanying the FTA which protect the EU against any possible surges in imports from Korea that could undermine EU producers. Work is underway to get agreement between the Council and the European Parliament with a view to having the Safeguard Regulation adopted well in time for 1 July 2011.

Telecommunications Services

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

298 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if his Department operates any number utilising the lo-call designation, 1890; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that use of this number can impose additional costs on mobile phone users; if he will ensure that where such numbers are advertised in the press, online or in literature that this additional cost is noted, and that a standard geographic phone number is also given; if this is not currently done, if he will ensure that this will be done; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41243/10]

I am aware that the Lo-Call service operated for the Department's main number and Passport Offices can impose a higher cost on mobile phone users. In mid 2009 a note was added to electronic publications indicating that rates for Lo-Call services may vary among different services providers. A similar notice will be included in any new literature published. All publications include both standard geographic and Lo-Call numbers.

Product Labelling

Michael D. Higgins

Ceist:

299 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the position regarding plans aimed at drafting guidelines for retailers in labelling of goods from illegal Israeli settlements and his views on the reason Ireland has fallen behind other countries on this front which have already implemented such guidelines [41254/10]

While regulation of food labelling is not the responsibility of the Department of Foreign Affairs, I share the view of the Deputy that many Irish consumers would wish to be aware if they were being asked to purchase produce originating in illegal Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories. I therefore instructed my officials to initiate contacts on the matter with the responsible Government Departments. I understand from these contacts that the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, and the Department of Health and Children have received no requests from retailers to produce advice or guidelines in this matter, and that there has been little pressure on the matter from consumers or the general public. Accordingly, this is not regarded by them as a priority concern.

I am not aware of guidelines having been issued in EU countries, other than in the UK, where the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) issued advice in December 2009 for retailers who wished to distinguish in food labelling between Palestinian produce from the West Bank and produce from Israeli settlements.

The UK move came in response to pressure from consumers, charities and NGOs, and at the request of major retailers. It involved a two year process of consultation between concerned Departments and bodies, led by DEFRA, in which the Foreign and Commonwealth Office participated to advise on the political background. It consisted of simple and straightforward technical advice, suggesting how such labelling might be worded, for use by producers and retailers who wished to do so. It had no legal force, but was helpful to some UK retailers who wished to adopt more informative labelling, but felt more comfortable doing so in the context of Government advice.

It is important to be clear that, just as in the UK, there is nothing to stop Irish retailers now, if they wish, from clearly labelling goods to distinguish settlement produce. They could do so along the same simple and obvious lines as in the DEFRA guidelines, as either ‘Produce of the West Bank (Palestinian produce)' or ‘Produce of the West Bank (Israeli settlement)', or any similar wording.

Human Rights Issues

Michael D. Higgins

Ceist:

300 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on the situation of Saharawi citizens who, in protest at state activity, have established refugee camps and are under threat of intervention from the Moroccan army and police forces [41255/10]

I am deeply concerned about reports concerning the protest camp set up by Saharawi demonstrators on the outskirts of Laayoune in early October. According to these reports, the Moroccan security forces entered the camp yesterday morning to disperse the protestors and the camp is now effectively closed. At least two officials are reported to have been killed and an unconfirmed number of people injured in the incident. It was notable that the demands of those who established the protest camp centred on equal rights and treatment for the Saharawi people, rather than the issues of sovereignty or the status of the territory. I regret the death and violence which has occurred and the excessive reaction of the Moroccan security forces to what had been a peaceful protest on the part of Saharawi activists. I call on all sides to act responsibly and ensure that this situation does not deteriorate further or impact negatively on the informal peace talks which were due to begin in New York. I would also call on both sides to cooperate fully in promoting practical confidence-building measures such as family reunion flights between Laayoune and the refugee camps in Tindouf which were regrettably suspended some weeks ago.

Ireland continues to support the right to self-determination of the people of Western Sahara, as well as the continuing engagement of the United Nations in the search for a political solution in the territory based on the principle of self-determination. UN Secretary General Ban's Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, Christopher Ross, is continuing his efforts to bring about substantive negotiations on the future of the Western Sahara.

Mr Ross has recently completed a tour of the region in an effort to resolve some of the issues preventing constructive engagement between Morocco and the Polisario. He is this week hosting a further round of informal discussions in New York. Previous rounds of informal talks were held in New York and Austria, most recently in February this year. It is my hope that the two sides use this opportunity to engage in constructive dialogue: it is unfortunately clear that in the previous rounds of talks there has been no real engagement between the two sides on the substantive issues. I regret that the start of the latest round of informal talks now appears to have been delayed due to yesterday's events in Laayoune. The critical blockage remains Morocco's refusal to allow a referendum in the territory which would include an option of independence for the people of the Western Sahara. This has been provided for in a number of UN peace plans, and it is difficult to see that there can be any genuine self-determination without such a referendum. Ireland will continue its dialogue with both Morocco and the Polisario, through their representatives based here in Ireland, to encourage support for the UN Secretary General's good offices mission and the efforts of Personal Envoy Ross to achieve some measure of political progress and increased confidence between both sides.

Passport Applications

Mary Upton

Ceist:

301 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs further to Parliamentary Question No. 386 of 27 October 2010 (details supplied), where a child with an Irish birth certificate can be issued with a passport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41535/10]

Following a recent review of their guidelines, the Department of Justice and Law Reform have confirmed that where a child is born in the State after one of their parents has been granted refugee status, section 6A(2)(d)(i) of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended, applies and the child therefore has an entitlement to Irish citizenship. The Passport Office has now approved the application for the person named and will make contact with the applicant's parents to confirm this position. A passport will issue in the coming days.

Daylight Saving Time

Olivia Mitchell

Ceist:

302 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the cost in man hours, of changing clocks from summer time to winter time and vice versa in public buildings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41732/10]

Arrangements for changing clocks to both winter and summer time are generally dealt with at local level by staff in individual buildings occupied by my Department. There are no specific costs associated with this task.

Social Welfare Appeals

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

303 Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason for the delay in considering an appeal on behalf of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9 and if he will ensure that this appeal is processed as soon as possible. [41543/10]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 07 July 2010. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received back in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 21 October 2010 and the appeal will be referred in due course to an Appeals Officer who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing.

There was a 46% increase in the number of appeals received by the Social Welfare Appeals Office in 2009 when compared to 2008, which in itself was 27% greater than the numbers received in 2007. There was an increase of a further 44% in the number of appeals received in the first eight months of 2010. These increases have caused delays in the processing of appeals. In order to be fair to all appellants, oral hearings are arranged in strict chronological order.

A number of initiatives have been put in place to enhance the capacity of the office to deal with the current caseload and inflows. In that regard:

3 additional Appeals Officers have been assigned to that Office since January 2009,

A number of additional staff were assigned to the administration area of the Office,

The organisation of the Appeals Officer's work has been changed so as to increase productivity,

A project to improve the business processes in the office was undertaken which has resulted in a number of improvements being implemented, and

Significant enhancements have been made to the office's IT and phone systems.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Social Welfare Benefits

Pat Breen

Ceist:

304 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Social Protection when an application will be processed in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41062/10]

The person in question has been awarded domiciliary care allowance following a review of her application on 26th October 2010. Her monthly payment, including any arrears due, will commence from 16th November 2010.

John McGuinness

Ceist:

305 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Social Protection if arrears of payment of mortgage interest relief due to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny will be expedited. [41148/10]

The Health Service Executive has advised that they are currently calculating the amount of arrears due to the person concerned and that payment will issue to the person concerned in due course.

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

306 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Social Protection if an application for mortgage interest supplement can be expedited in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41180/10]

The Health Service Executive has advised that they are currently calculating the amount of arrears due to the person concerned and that payment will issue to the person concerned in due course.

Social Welfare Appeals

Frank Feighan

Ceist:

307 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will issue on a carer’s allowance application in respect of a person (details supplied) in view of the fact that this appeal was lodged six months ago. [41194/10]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 17 May 2010. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received back in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 06 September 2010 and the appeal will be referred, in due course, to an Appeals Officer who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing.

There was a 46% increase in the number of appeals received by the Social Welfare Appeals Office in 2009 when compared to 2008, which in itself was 27% greater than the numbers received in 2007. There was an increase of a further 44% in the number of appeals received in the first eight months of 2010. These increases have caused delays in the processing of appeals. In order to be fair to all appellants, oral hearings are arranged in strict chronological order.

A number of initiatives have been put in place to enhance the capacity of the office to deal with the current caseload and inflows. In that regard:

3 additional Appeals Officers have been assigned to that Office since January 2009,

A number of additional staff were assigned to the administration area of the Office,

The organisation of the Appeals Officer's work has been changed so as to increase productivity,

A project to improve the business processes in the office was undertaken which has resulted in a number of improvements being implemented, and

Significant enhancements have been made to the office's IT and phone systems.

In addition, it was decided to use experienced retired staff strictly on a short term basis to supplement the current resources and the services of eight retired officers have now been secured on a part-time basis and have been operating since July.

I am assured by the Chief Appeals Officer that she is keeping current processes under continuous review with a view to achieving a more effective throughput of appeals, while ensuring that any progress does not conflict with due process in terms of the rights of appellants and adherence to the requirements of natural justice.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Dinny McGinley

Ceist:

308 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Social Protection when an oral hearing will be heard in respect of an appeal by a person (details supplied) in County Donegal in relation to their disability allowance. [41214/10]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the appeal from the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer who proposes to hold an oral hearing in this case. The person concerned will be informed when arrangements have been made.

There was a 46% increase in the number of appeals received by the Social Welfare Appeals Office in 2009 when compared to 2008, which in itself was 27% greater than the numbers received in 2007. There was an increase of a further 44% in the number of appeals received in the first eight months of 2010. These increases have caused delays in the processing of appeals. In order to be fair to all appellants, oral hearings are arranged in strict chronological order.

A number of initiatives have been put in place to enhance the capacity of the office to deal with the current caseload and inflows. In that regard:

3 additional Appeals Officers have been assigned to that Office since January 2009,

A number of additional staff were assigned to the administration area of the Office,

The organisation of the Appeals Officer's work has been changed so as to increase productivity,

A project to improve the business processes in the office was undertaken which has resulted in a number of improvements being implemented, and

Significant enhancements have been made to the office's IT and phone systems.

In addition, it was decided to use experienced retired staff strictly on a short term basis to supplement the current resources and the services of eight retired officers have now been secured on a part-time basis and have been operating since July.

I am assured by the Chief Appeals Officer that she is keeping current processes under continuous review with a view to achieving a more effective throughput of appeals, while ensuring that any progress does not conflict with due process in terms of the rights of appellants and adherence to the requirements of natural justice.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Dinny McGinley

Ceist:

309 Deputy Dinny McGinley asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an appeal of jobseeker’s allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Donegal. [41215/10]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 11 September 2010. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Social Welfare Services on the grounds of appeal be sought. When received, the appeal in question will be 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 functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Telecommunications Services

Leo Varadkar

Ceist:

310 Deputy Leo Varadkar asked the Minister for Social Protection if his Department operates any number utilising the lo-call designation, 1890; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that use of this number can impose additional costs on mobile phone users; if he will ensure that where such numbers are advertised in the press, online or in literature that this additional cost is noted, and that a standard geographic phone number is also given; if this is not currently done, if he will ensure that this will be done; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41246/10]

The Department currently operates nine LoCall Numbers from its headquarters buildings dealing with customers on a national basis. These LoCall numbers were introduced to streamline telephone services and reduce the costs incurred by customers contacting these offices. The Department receives approximately half-a-million telephone calls per month across the network of Local Offices and headquarters buildings. I am aware that customers calling 1890 (LoCall) numbers from mobile phones may incur additional changes and that tariffs may vary between service providers. Where Departmental LoCall numbers are advertised on the Department's website www.welfare.ie, or in Departmental literature, they are accompanied by a note explaining that rates charged for the use of 1890 numbers may vary among different service providers. An alternative, standard number is also provided which can be used by customers calling the Department from their mobile phones. Where LoCall numbers are used in the Department's press advertisements alternative information sources and communication channels are listed such as email and SMS (text) services, the www.welfare.ie website, and the network of Local and Branch Offices. Where the advertisement specifically concerns Local Office arrangements the relevant geographic phone number is provided.

I am satisfied that the Department provides a range of customer contact channels including telephony services, online services and the network of Local and Branch Offices which ensure that customers can access information and services in the most cost effective way, and that, insofar as is possible, customers are made aware of the cost of and alternatives to the Department's LoCall telephony service.

Social Welfare Benefits

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

311 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection if funding remains available under the technical assistance and training fund for successful applicants under the back to work enterprise self-employed scheme. [41260/10]

The Technical Assistance and Training Scheme allows the Department of Social Protection to provide support to Back to Work Enterprise Allowance recipients who are engaging in self employment projects to enhance their chances of success to become independent of the social welfare system. This is a discretionary scheme and there is not an entitlement to the Technical Assistance and Training Scheme as of right.

Where appropriate, the fund can also be used to provide support to other social welfare customers who may require assistance in accessing the labour market or who are trying to establish an enterprise and need training or other supports.

Take up of the Technical Assistance and Training Scheme in 2010 has been very positive. The budget for the scheme at the start of this year was €3 million. The Department has reviewed funding for the scheme for the remainder of 2010 and the allocation has been increased by over 35% to take account of increased demand.

Catherine Byrne

Ceist:

312 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons currently in receipt of the State pension non-contributory; the cost to the State in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41388/10]

Éamon Ó Cuív