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 106, inclusive, held out.

Tourism Industry

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

107 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Taoiseach the basis on which visitor statistics are complied from the point of view of tourism; if the length of time spent in the State or the purpose of the trip is relevant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3726/11]

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) conducts three tourism surveys:

the Country of Residence Survey (CRS)

the Passenger Card Inquiry (PCI) and

the Household Travel Survey (HTS).

The data collected is used to meet the national and EU requirements in compiling tourism statistics.

The CSO estimates the number of overseas visitors to Ireland using passenger numbers supplied by the airport authorities and shipping companies combined with the large scale sample survey conducted in Irish airports and seaports.

The Country of Residence Survey is a continuous sample survey which interviews incoming and departing passengers. This provides country of residence breakdowns for passengers, which are then applied to the total passenger numbers, giving estimates of overseas visitors to Ireland as well as Irish visits abroad.

The Passenger Card Inquiry is also a sample survey of selected overseas flights and sailings. Data is collected from travellers through a self completion form. The journey purpose, nights spent away from home, expenditure and other trip details are collected from arriving and departing passengers.

The Central Statistics Office estimates the number of overnight domestic trips in Ireland using the Household Travel survey. Households are sampled from the electoral register and the data is collected using a self completion postal form.

Data on the purpose and destination of the journey, nights spent, expenditure and other trip details are collected. Data on cross border tourism to Ireland is not currently collected by the CSO.

The most recently published figures for overseas visitors to Ireland from the CRS relate to quarter 3, 2010. The next release is scheduled for February 2011 and will contain data for October, November and December 2010 as well as 2010 annual data. Journey purpose is important when determining whether a trip to or from Ireland qualifies as a tourism trip. A Visitor is defined as

‘any person travelling to a place other than that of his/her usual environment for less than twelve months and whose main purpose is other than the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the place visited'.

Where the purpose of journey of a trip can be determined to fall outside of the definition, these trips are then excluded from overall tourism estimates.

The purpose of journey is also important for expenditure estimates. Trips for holiday and business purposes would often have a higher daily expenditure than trips spent visiting friends and relatives for example.

Length of stay is closely correlated with purpose of visit and expenditure. For instance business trips often have a shorter average length of stay than holiday trips, while expenditure on trips is closely related to length of stay, with longer trips on average having a lower average daily spend.

Tourism surveys are also conducted on behalf of Fáilte Ireland (FI). These include the survey of travellers (SOT), which collects additional detail from overseas visitors to Ireland to that collected in the CSO's PCI survey. FI's Hotel Survey collects information from accommodation establishments on bed nights sold and residency of guests.

Schools Recognition

Brendan Kenneally

Ceist:

108 Deputy Brendan Kenneally asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills when permanent recognition will be given to a school (details supplied) in County Waterford, bearing in mind the school authorities have complied with every request made of them by her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4498/11]

I can confirm that the school to which the Deputy refers has made an application to my Department for Permanent Recognition. The application is currently being assessed. The school authority has recently provided additional informaton to my Department, which will help inform the assessment process. A decision on the school's application will be conveyed to the school authority in due course when the assessment is complete.

Site Acquisitions

Simon Coveney

Ceist:

109 Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she has made any purchases of land in County Cork in the past three months; and if so the land that has been purchased and the purpose and the cost of same. [4512/11]

I wish to advise the Deputy that in the past three months my Department concluded two acquisitions in County Cork, the details of these sites are set out below. Due to commercial sensitivities pertaining to site acquisitions generally it is not the Department's policy to provide details of the purchase cost of sites so recently acquired. The Deputy might also note that both schools were included in my recent announcement regarding my Department's school building work programme for 2011.

County

Site Location

School

Roll No.

Cork

Carriganarra, Ballincollig

G.S. Uí Ríordáin

19839R

Cork

St Patrick’s Hill, Cork

St Angela’s College

62640M

Departmental Funding

Phil Hogan

Ceist:

110 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will review the funding arrangements in respect of an organisation which funded various schemes under the children at risk programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4514/11]

My Department launched the DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) initiative which brought together a range of programmes and supports aimed at tackling educational disadvantage in some 876 schools throughout the country. Through DEIS an additional€40 million was provided bringing the allocation for disadvantage in schools to in excess of €200 million. In light of this additional investment, a decision was taken in Budget 2009 to discontinue the Children at Risk Fund.

The project to which the Deputy refers was among a number of projects evaluated by the Evaluation, Support and Research Unit in conjunction with the Inspectorate of the Regional Directorate of this Department in 2009, to assist in determining future funding arrangements and possible mainstreaming of appropriate projects or models of intervention.

A final allocation of €133,000 was made to this Project in December 2010 to support the project through 2011. A process has commenced to integrate the project with the Kilkenny City School Completion Programme Project. It is expected that the integration of the projects will ensure the efficient delivery of services to children most at risk in Kilkenny. The integration process will also identify any potential overlap or duplication of service.

The School Completion Programme is a major component of DEIS, the Department's Action Plan for Educational Inclusion. The Programme identifies and supports children who are at risk of early school leaving. The supports are provided through 124 local projects and include interventions on school attendance, literacy/numeracy, after school, homework, holiday time supports as well as social and sporting interventions.

The National Coordination Team for the School Completion Programme has commenced work on the integration of both projects and a meeting with the project to which the Deputy has referred refers will be arranged shortly.

Schools Building Projects

Brendan Kenneally

Ceist:

111 Deputy Brendan Kenneally asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills in view of the announcement that a school (details supplied) in County Waterford has been approved to design stage, when it is expected it will proceed to tender and completion; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4558/11]

I am pleased to advise the Deputy that a project to provide a new school building for the school to which he refers has been announced as one of the projects to commence the process of appointing a design team under my Department's 2011 Multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme.

My officials will be in further contact with the school authority in due course relating to the steps to be taken to progress the project. It is not possible, at this early stage in the process, to indicate when the project will proceed to tender and completion.

Schools Refurbishment

Phil Hogan

Ceist:

112 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills when money will be allocated for a school (details supplied) in County Kilkenny for the purpose of renovations and extension; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4561/11]

The school referred to by the Deputy has applied for funding under my Department's Summer Works Scheme and Emergency Works Scheme. Both applications are currently being assessed and the school authorities will be informed of the outcome as quickly as possible.

School Accommodation

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Ceist:

113 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application under the devolved scheme for a school (details supplied) in County Laois; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4562/11]

I can confirm that the school to which the Deputy refers has recently applied to my Department seeking funding to provide a permanent classroom and resource room. This application is currently being assessed. Officials in my Department will convey a decision on the application to the school authority when the assessment process has been completed.

Redundancy Payments

Michael Ring

Ceist:

114 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive a redundancy payment. [4564/11]

The person referred to by the Deputy will receive their redundancy payment on the 17th February.

Special Educational Needs

Jack Wall

Ceist:

115 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will provide a list of primary and secondary schools in County Kildare that employed special needs assistants; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4586/11]

The information requested by the Deputy on Co. Kildare schools that employed special needs assistants is not readily available. The Deputy will be aware that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), for allocating special needs resources to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. The NCSE will continue to support schools, parents, children and teachers and special needs assistants will continue to be deployed to schools to meet children's needs in line with my Department's policy.

Schools Refurbishment

Michael Creed

Ceist:

116 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she has received an application under the summer works scheme from a school (details supplied) in County Cork; if funding will be made available for same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4605/11]

I can confirm that the school referred to by the Deputy has submitted an application for works under the 2011 Summer Works Scheme. Applications for funding under the scheme are currently being processed in my Department, as outlined in the Circular governing the operation of the Scheme, and the school authority in question will be notified of the decision on the application later in the year.

School Transport

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

117 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the entitlement of a student (details supplied) to use school transport. [4628/11]

My Department is responsible for the provision of school transport within this jurisdiction. Under the terms of the Department's Post Primary School Transport Scheme, a pupil is eligible for transport if s/he resides 4.8 kilometres or more from her/his local post primary education centre.

Traditionally a small number of pupils travelling from Northern Ireland have been facilitated with concessionary school transport to schools in this jurisdiction. This concessionary transport is dependant on the availability of spare seats, subject to a charge and the pupils must make their own way to a pick up point in this jurisdiction. The Chief Executive Officer of the Vocational Education Committee acts as Transport Liaison Officer (TLO) and is responsible for the day to day administration of the Post Primary School Transport Scheme at local level. In this regard the family concerned should liaise with the relevant TLO to establish the position with regard to the availability of concessionary transport.

Recognition of Qualifications

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

118 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills if she will support the case of a person (details supplied). [4630/11]

Considerable efforts are made by my Department and institutions and bodies in the education sector to maintain and extend the recognition of Irish qualifications globally. Equally, systems are in place to facilitate the recognition of quality-assured foreign qualifications in Ireland. However, the Deputy will understand that I am unable to assist individual citizens in seeking employment in other countries.

Students from outside the European Economic Area may work on a part time basis during their period in Ireland on a student visa. Graduates from programmes at Level 7 and above on the National Framework of Qualifications may apply for a six month extension to this student permission, during which they can work full time. This is to provide an opportunity to secure qualifying employment for a Green Card or Work Permit.

Schools Refurbishment

Noel Coonan

Ceist:

119 Deputy Noel J. Coonan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a summer works scheme application in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Tipperary; when funding will be supplied; if she will provide a timeframe for the completion of works; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4634/11]

I can confirm that the school referred to by the Deputy has submitted an application for works under the 2011 Summer Works Scheme. Applications for funding under the scheme are currently being processed in my Department, as outlined in the Circular governing the operation of the Scheme, and the school authority in question will be notified of the decision on the application later in the year.

Schools Building Projects

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

120 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the proposed new school at a location (details supplied) in County Dublin. [4660/11]

On the 24 January 2011, I announced the school building work programme for 2011 and also my Department's plans to establish a further nine new post primary schools which will open between 2012 and 2016. These nine areas which have been identified as requiring additional post primary provision are Ashbourne, Dublin — West Blanchardstown, Dublin — Mulhuddart, Drogheda, Claregalway, Maynooth, Naas, Navan, North County Dublin/South County Louth.

The Forward Planning Section of my Department is continuing to analyse 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 Rush area, including the case for the provision of a new post-primary school will be considered in this context. Schools Capital Appraisal Section will identify the means by which the need in the Rush area will be met commensurate with demand.

Departmental Staff

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

121 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance if he will lift the recruitment embargo on clerical officers to speed up the processing of social welfare claims. [4648/11]

The Government is committed under the National Recovery Plan to reducing the size of the civil and public service and to ensuring staff resources are used more efficiently through the implementation of new business processes and redeployment of surplus staff to areas of critical need. In this regard over 500 staff have already been redeployed from other Government Departments and Offices to the Department of Social Protection to prioritise the processing of claims and to assist with the additional work arising from increases in the Live Register. There are no plans to undertake any general recruitment of Clerical Officers at this point in time. Any issues in relation to delays with individual claimants are a matter for the Minister for Social Protection and his Department.

Tax Collection

Jack Wall

Ceist:

122 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding an application for a tax rebate in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4502/11]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they have no record of receipt of an application for a tax rebate from the person concerned. They are writing to the person concerned in relation to the matter and on receipt of a reply necessary reviews will be carried out and any tax overpaid will be refunded.

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

123 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will address a query regarding the taxation of an investment (details supplied). [4523/11]

Under the gross roll-up regime introduced in Finance Act 2000, investments in life assurance policies may accumulate without the imposition of tax. However, an exit tax applies to the income or gains arising when a chargeable event occurs, such as the receipt of payments from, or the disposal of investments in a life policy, or the ending of each 8-year period following the acquisition of that policy (i.e. a deemed disposal). The rate of exit tax applying depends on when the chargeable event, including a deemed disposal, occurs. The exit tax up to 1 January 2009 was the standard rate of income tax (20%) plus 3% i.e. 23%, which increased to 26% (20% +6%) from January 2009 until 8 April 2009 when the rate was further increased to 28%. The Finance Bill 2011 provides for a rate of 30% to apply from 1 January 2011.

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that it is unclear from the documentation provided whether the policy in question was encashed before the first guarantee date of 22 February 2009. However, the above information should be of assistance as regards the exit tax applying on any chargeable event arising. The Revenue Commissioners have also advised that, on receipt of documentation issued by the insurance company outlining any tax deducted, further clarification will be provided.

Tax Code

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

124 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will support a matter (details supplied). [4532/11]

Section 23 of the Finance Bill 2011 as passed provides for the progressive restriction and eventual abolition of the use of accelerated capital allowances under the various property and area-based tax incentive schemes. This includes the scheme for qualifying residential units associated with registered nursing homes. At the time of the Budget last December I undertook to have an economic impact assessment carried out on the possible effects of this measure in advance of the final closing-off of all these reliefs by the end of 2014. During the period between the Budget and the Finance Bill there was a significant level of concern expressed by individuals and groups, in particular regarding the downstream effects of the changes on the economy, and on employment. In order to take due account of these concerns I proposed that the economic impact assessment should be undertaken in advance of the commencement of the provisions. Thus, the restrictions in the Bill would now be commenced by Ministerial order not earlier than 60 days after the publication of the results of this economic impact assessment.

It will be a matter for the Minister for Finance of the day to decide whether or not to commence these provisions in whole or in part in the light of the outcome of the impact assessment at that time.

Banks Recapitalisation

Michael D. Higgins

Ceist:

125 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Finance if there have been any further in camera court proceedings since 23 December 2010 concerning any aspect of the injection of State funding into any bank in the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4548/11]

On 23 December 2010 an application was made to the High Court for a Direction Order under section 9 of the Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Act 2010. No additional applications have been made under the Act since that date. The power to apply to the High Court for a Direction Order will remain in place until 31 December 2012, as provided for in the Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Act 2010. Under the terms of the Act, an application to the Courts for a further Direction Order can only be made if the Minister for Finance, after consulting with the Governor of the Central Bank, considers it necessary for achieving the purpose of the Act specified in the proposed Direction Order.

Health Services

Jack Wall

Ceist:

126 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application for mortgage interest relief from the community welfare officer in respect of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4491/11]

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

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Ceist:

127 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the position regarding negotiations between her and Thalidomide survivors; if all survivors have been engaged with; the progress made with regard to the introduction of additional supports for Thalidomide victims; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4503/11]

The previous Minister's offer in December 2010 to provide ex gratia payments was made in good faith with the knowledge that, if not taken up by survivors, the monies would have to revert to the Exchequer by the end of 2010. The Minister engaged with the two representative groups of Thalidomide survivors. The Minister informed the survivors' representatives that acceptance of the offer would not preclude survivors from entering into negotiations with any future Government and would not affect any legal strategy they may wish to pursue. In the event, the offer of the ex gratia payment was rejected by the two groups.

The Department is currently finalising the voluntary disclosure of records relating to the circumstances surrounding thalidomide in the 1950s/1960s and the arrangements made in the 1970s relating to the survivors of thalidomide. It is hoped to release these records in the very near future.

In addition, the Health Service Executive in conjunction with Dr Paul O'Connell, Consultant Neurologist, is currently finalising the details of the special care packages and the associated process to assess the health needs of survivors. My Department is prepared to involve survivors and their representatives in the process should they choose to participate.

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

128 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the rights of patients who received titanium hips that have proved faulty; her plans to set up a body that would assess the damage done to persons and to recompense them accordingly; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4506/11]

I have no plans to establish a body as proposed by the Deputy. The HSE is addressing this matter and accordingly I have asked the HSE to respond directly to the Deputy.

Medical Cards

Jack Wall

Ceist:

129 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application for a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare. [4509/11]

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

Health Services

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

130 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the position regarding necessary dental procedures for a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [4515/11]

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

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

131 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she will support the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9. [4529/11]

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

Hospital Services

Billy Timmins

Ceist:

132 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a hospital appointment in respect of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4565/11]

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

Health Services

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Ceist:

133 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she will consider correspondence (details supplied); if she will ensure that the Health Service Executive will provide the necessary interventions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4584/11]

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

Ciaran Lynch

Ceist:

134 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the dental treatment a person (details supplied) in County Cork is entitled to; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4585/11]

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

Medical Cards

Ciaran Lynch

Ceist:

135 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if a full medical card will be granted as a matter of urgency in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4599/11]

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

Prescription Charges

Mary Upton

Ceist:

136 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 94 of 20 January 2011 if the prescription charge should be applied twice to the same medication (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4601/11]

Medical card holders are required to pay a 50c charge per item for medicines and other prescription items supplied to them by community pharmacists. As the dosage prescribed requires two separate pack sizes it is classed as two individual items and as such incurs a 50c charge per item.

Health Services

Mary Upton

Ceist:

137 Deputy Mary Upton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if a payment will be restored to persons (details supplied) in Dublin 12; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4602/11]

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

Billy Timmins

Ceist:

138 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application in respect of a support centre (details supplied) and if the Health Service Executive will approve same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4607/11]

The Deputy's question relates to service delivery matters and accordingly I have asked the HSE to respond directly to him.

Child Care Services

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

139 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she will support the setting up the European Missing Childline number of 116000. [4608/11]

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.

Ciaran Lynch

Ceist:

140 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she will grant a second year of pre-school education to a child (details supplied) under the early childhood care and education scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4614/11]

I have responsibility for the implementation of the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme which was introduced in January 2010.

The ECCE scheme is a universal scheme which provides children with a free pre-school year prior to commencing primary school. There is no entitlement under the scheme to any additional provision. The scheme does, however, include a number of provisions to take account of children with special needs. These include an exemption from the upper age limit for qualification under the scheme where a child is developmentally delayed and would benefit from starting primary school at a later age. In addition, children with special needs can apply to have the pre-school year split over two years on a pro-rata basis, for example availing of the scheme for 2 days a week in the first year and for 3 days a week in the second year.

It is recognised that the introduction of the scheme has raised a number of issues in relation to service provision and supports for children with special needs and the need to ensure a coherent approach across both specialist and mainstream settings. While many children with special needs may require specialist services, others will benefit from attending mainstream services or a mixture of the two. To achieve these outcomes, earlier this year this Office asked the Office of Disability and Mental Health to set up a Working Group to look at existing services and supports and the allocation of resources for pre-school children with special needs. This Group is expected to report shortly following which the arrangements for children with special needs under the ECCE scheme will be further considered.

In the meantime while the scheme as initiated does not provide for any additional provision for children with special needs, a limited number of children with severe disabilities who had availed of the scheme in the introductory short-year period of January to June 2010, were approved on an exceptional basis for re-entry to the scheme in September 2010, the first full year of the scheme. Each request was examined taking account of the information provided in detailed assessment reports. In the case referred to by the Deputy, the information provided to my Office did not confirm a diagnosis of severe disability for the child in question and re-entry to the scheme was not approved.

Medical Cards

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

141 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the reason a person (details supplied) in County Meath has been refused a medical card; and if she will reverse this decision immediately in view of the fact that the person cannot afford to visit a doctor due to low income and medication expenses. [4622/11]

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

Hospital Waiting Lists

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

142 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) will receive an appointment to see an ear, nose, throat specialist. [4623/11]

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

Health Services

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

143 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) will be supplied with hearing aids. [4624/11]

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

Billy Timmins

Ceist:

144 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4637/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 143 and 144 together.

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

Child Care Services

Michael D'Arcy

Ceist:

145 Deputy Michael D’Arcy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if an application can be made for a child (details supplied) in County Wexford already on the early childhood care and education scheme in one Montessori school to switch to another Montessori school at this time; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4659/11]

I have responsibility for the implementation of the free Preschool Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme which was introduced in January 2010. This is a universal scheme which provides children with a free preschool year prior to commencing primary school.

Approximately 4,300 preschool services, 95% of those operating in the State, are participating in the ECCE scheme and 63,000 children, or 94% of the eligible cohort, are availing of the preschool year. Services participating in the scheme are contracted by my Office to provide the preschool year in return for the payment of an annual capitation fee. The capitation fee is paid to services on a term by term basis in respect of all eligible children enrolled with them at the start of that term.

Children are normally enrolled for the preschool year in a service in September of each year and, in the vast majority of cases, will complete the year in that service. However it is recognised that cases will arise where a parent will wish to move their child to another service, during the course of the year. The scheme accommodates this as far as possible by allowing transfers between services to be made at the start of each term with a consequent transfer in capitation funding. When account is taken of the fact that the services are required to employ specified numbers of qualified Preschool Leaders and Preschool Assistants, it is considered that this approach provides a reasonable balance for all parties.

To apply for a transfer, the parent in question should request the preschool provider currently being attended to complete and submit a Transfer Form to the Child-care Directorate of my Office, at least three weeks before the end of this term and preferably by 4 March 2011.

Health Services

Sean Sherlock

Ceist:

146 Deputy Seán Sherlock asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she will expedite an appointment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4662/11]

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

Medical Cards

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

147 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9. [4668/11]

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

EU Directives

Beverley Flynn

Ceist:

148 Deputy Beverley Flynn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the implementation of the EU Blood Directive; her views on the latest Commission report on the matter; the position proposed to a renewed definitive for principal of voluntary donations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4673/11]

Four European Directives have been introduced since 2004 to ensure that Member States have in place standards of quality and safety for the collection, testing, processing, storage and distribution of human blood and blood components. This legislation ensures that the blood supply throughout Europe meets the standards specified.

Blood requirements set out in EU Directives 2002/98/EC and 2004/33/EC relating to quality and safety for the collection, testing, processing, storage and distribution of human blood and blood components and certain technical requirements are regulated under SI No. 360 of 2005 (Quality and Safety of Human Blood and Blood Components). These Regulations, which were transposed into Irish law in July 2005, designate the Irish Medicines Board (IMB) as the Competent Authority and require all blood establishments be authorised by the IMB and hospital blood banks to be accredited to ISO 15189 standard.

EU Directive 2005/61/EC relating to human blood and blood component traceability requirements and notification of serious adverse reactions and events was transposed by SI No. 547 of 2006 and EU Directive 2005/62/EC regarding community standards and specifications relating to a quality system for blood establishments was transposed by SI No. 562 of 2006. The IMB has implemented the legislation and all blood establishments and blood banks comply with the requirements.

The latest Commission report on the matter dated the 19 January 2010, reported a satisfactory implementation of Directive 2002/98/EC. Member States, including Ireland, had successfully designated and set up their competent authorities, as well as inspection systems, control measures and haemovigilance systems.

The report further stated that Member States had to finalise the accreditation/designation/ authorisation/licensing process for all blood establishments. I can confirm that all four Irish blood establishments are authorised by the Irish Medicines Board.

The principles governing voluntary and unpaid donation of blood and blood components are set out in article 20 of Directive 2002/98/EC. It states that Member States shall take the necessary measures to encourage voluntary and unpaid blood donations with a view to ensuring that blood and blood components are, in so far as possible, provided from such donations.

Currently the Irish Blood Transfusion Service (IBTS) operates to an internal policy of voluntary and unpaid donation from all donors.

Adoption Services

Olivia Mitchell

Ceist:

149 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if the Health Service Executive will reassess the suitability of adopting parents who have already been assessed either by Pact, Cunamh or the Adoption Authority; if the existing recommendations based on these cases will be endorsed, or failing that, if these cases will be fast-tracked; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4707/11]

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

Marine Safety

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

150 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Transport if he will release the preliminary findings into the report in relation to the tragedy of the Evelyn Marie which sank off the coast of County Donegal in 1975 and the Carraig Úna which sank off the same spot in 1976 which resulted in the loss of 11 lives; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4516/11]

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

151 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Transport if the findings of the reports into the sinking of the Evelyn Marie in 1975 and the Carraig Úna in 1976 are covered under the Freedom of Information Act; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4517/11]

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

152 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Transport the reason there was no formal inquiry into the sinking of the Evelyn Marie in 1975 and the Carraig Úna in 1976; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4518/11]

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

In relation to the publication of the Reports of Preliminary Inquiries into marine casualties, I refer the Deputy to the reply given to Questions Nos. 253 and 257 answered on 18 January 2011. The position is unchanged.

No formal inquiry was held into the sinking of the Evelyn Marie or the Carraig Una. The Nautical Surveyor who undertook both Preliminary Inquiries, noting the absence of survivors and the inability to establish the cause of either sinking, recommended that a Formal Investigation into the marine casualties not be held. The then Minister concurred with that recommendation.

The Freedom of Information legislation applies to records created after 21 April 1998; that legislation is not therefore applicable to the Preliminary Inquiry Reports into the sinking of the Evelyn Marie and the Carraig Una.

Pensions Provisions

Joe Behan

Ceist:

153 Deputy Joe Behan asked the Minister for Transport if he will assist a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4513/11]

A once-off reduction is applied to gross annual public service pensions using a set of rates and income bands, which was introduced under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2010. The reductions apply to all pensioners. Proposals to alter the provisions are a matter for the Department of Finance.

Registration Procedures

Joe Costello

Ceist:

154 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Transport if he will consider changing the procedure for the registration of new coaches in the State along the lines proposed in correspondence (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4553/11]

The changes of procedure referred to by the Deputy will involve consideration and discussion by the agencies currently dealing with the processes. I will request the Road Safety Authority to examine the issue, in consultation with other stakeholders, and report to me.

Prisoner Releases

Joe McHugh

Ceist:

155 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will explain the circumstances of temporary release and or early release for persons on six months prison sentences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4486/11]

I can advise the Deputy that the overriding concern in considering applications for temporary release is the safety of the public. 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 any sentenced prisoner, including prisoners of the nature described by the Deputy.

Temporary release arrangements, in accordance with the Criminal Justice Act 1960 as amended by the Criminal Justice (Temporary Release of Prisoners) Act 2003, can operate similar 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 reintegration of offenders compared with their return to the community on the completion of their full sentence.

The Irish Prison Service has also judiciously used temporary release as a means of reducing numbers in times of serious overcrowding. 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.

Citizenship Applications

Pat Breen

Ceist:

156 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding an application for naturalisation in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4540/11]

Applications for certificates of naturalisation from the persons referred to in the Deputy's Question were received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in February 2007 and my predecessor decided to defer making any final decision on both applications until January 2011. The persons concerned were notified of this and the reasons for it in letters issued on 2 September, 2009. The applications are being re-processed in the normal way and will be re-submitted to me for decision in due course.

Garda Training

Michael D. Higgins

Ceist:

157 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 49 of 8 December 2010, the rules and regulations which apply to the use of batons by gardaí; the location at which citizens of this State can publicly access such rules; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4547/11]

There are no specific legislative regulations which apply to the use of batons by members of An Garda Síochána. All members of An Garda Síochána receive training in the use of batons before issue.

The use of force is regulated by common law and disparate statutory provisions. At common law any person could use reasonable force in self defence, to effect an arrest or to prevent crime. The Non-Fatal Offences against the Person Act 1997 does not confer a power to use force but protects the user of force against criminal liability when reasonable force is used in certain circumstances, namely, self-defence, defence of property, to prevent crime or a breach of the peace and to effect a lawful arrest.

There are internal Garda regulations governing the use of batons. The regulations provide that care must be taken to avoid striking anyone deliberately on the head and that the legs and arms should be aimed at, these being parts of the body least likely to suffer serious injury. They also provide that no more force is used than is necessary to secure the legal object to be achieved. Garda regulations regarding the use of batons are not available to the public as they are internal operational policy documents.

Residency Permits

Joe Costello

Ceist:

158 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will review the request for residency in respect of a person (details supplied). [4557/11]

The person concerned arrived in the State on 12th July, 2006, and was granted permission to remain, on student conditions, until 29th July, 2008. She was subsequently granted permission to remain in the State for a four month period to enable a prospective employer to apply for a Work Permit on her behalf. My Department's records indicate that an application for a Work Permit was lodged with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation but this application was refused. The person concerned was also refused permission by my Department to set up in business in the State.

An application for permission to remain in the State based on her relationship with an Irish national was received from the person concerned on 7th June, 2010. However, this application was not supported by the necessary documentation and, as such, could not be approved. The permission to remain granted to the person concerned expired on 26th February, 2010 and she has been illegally resident in the State since that date.

Given that the person concerned had no legal basis to remain in the State beyond 26th February, 2010, in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) she was notified, by letter dated 14th January, 2011, of the Minister's proposal 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. Representations have been submitted on behalf of the person concerned.

The 15 working day period referred to in my Department's letter of 14th January, 2011 expires on 7th February, 2011. It is open to the person concerned, until that latter date, to submit any further representations she would wish to have considered before a final decision is made in her case. Once a decision has been made, this decision and the consequences of the decision will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned. In any event, the case of the person concerned will not be further processed until the 15 working day period referred to has elapsed.

Garda Equipment

Joe McHugh

Ceist:

159 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the cost incurred by him for the purchasing of Garda shirts; if he will provide a per shirt price and a total purchase cost for each year since 2007; if he will provide the same figures for purchased Garda jumpers, purchased Garda trousers, purchased Garda jackets, purchased prison officer trousers, purchased prison officer jackets, purchased prison officer trousers, purchased prison officer vests; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4568/11]

A contract for the provision of the complete Garda operational uniform was awarded in 2008 and a contract for the provision of the Prison Officer uniform was awarded in 2009 by the National Procurement Service (formerly the Government Supplies Agency) following an EU competitive procurement process. I am advised that, for commercial competition reasons, it would not be appropriate to provide details of the cost of individual items of the Garda or the Prison Officer uniforms under these contracts.

Citizenship Applications

Michael Ring

Ceist:

160 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive a decision on their application for citizenship. [4581/11]

A valid application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in November 2006. The application is being processed in the normal way with a view to establishing whether the applicant meets the statutory conditions for the granting of naturalisation and will be submitted to me for decision in due course. While the average time from application to decision is 26 months, processing requirements and time taken to carry out necessary checks vary from case to case.

Garda Vetting of Personnel

Olwyn Enright

Ceist:

161 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if his attention has been drawn to the difficulties being experienced by an organisation (details supplied) as a result of delays in obtaining Garda vetting information; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4590/11]

The Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU) provides employment vetting to organisations in Ireland registered with the Gardaí for this purpose and which employ persons in a full-time, part-time, voluntary or training capacity to positions where they would have substantial, unsupervised access to children and/or vulnerable adults.

The employment vetting service provided by gardaí has been expanded greatly in recent years as part of a phased programme to roll-out the service to an increasing number of organisations. Within this programme the vetting service has now been extended to over 18,000 organisations. The GCVU has managed a substantial increase over recent years in the numbers of vetting applications it receives from around 188,000 in 2007 to almost 292,000 in 2010.

I am informed by the Garda Authorities that no request for registration has been received from the organisation to which the Deputy refers. However, Garda vetting services are provided to prospective employees at the organisation under the auspices of FÁS, which is a registered organisation with the Vetting Unit.

Garda Training

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

162 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of gardaí that are being trained in drug impairment testing; when this training will be completed; when will the recently announced roadside drug testing come into effect; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4592/11]

The Road Traffic Act 2010 provides for preliminary impairment testing and the regulations to give effect to the relevant sections are being prepared. An implementation group, involving representatives from the Department of Transport, the Medical Bureau of Road Safety and An Garda Síochána, has been set up to prepare for the implementation of the programme and training will be provided in every Garda Division as part of that process.

Some 80 Garda Instructors from all Garda Divisions will participate in an accredited Certificate course in Drug Recognition and Field Impairment Testing. Upon completion of their training, these Garda instructors will deliver a two day training programme to all operational members of the force. This national training programme is scheduled to commence in May 2011 and will be rolled out to all Divisions as soon as is practicable.

Prison Committals

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

163 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of persons committed to prison for non-payment of fines and non-payment of debt in 2010; if he will provide comparative figures for the previous three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4593/11]

The information requested by the Deputy in relation to 2010 is currently being compiled and will be published in the Irish Prison Service Annual Report for 2010. However, I can inform the Deputy that the provisional figure (which is subject to change) for 2010 is 6,681 for fines. The corresponding figure for debt is 5.

I can also advise the Deputy that the number of such persons actually held in custody at any one time is a small fraction of the overall prisoner population. To illustrate this point, 21 prisoners or 0.4% of the prison population on 31 January 2011 fell into this category.

Figures for the previous three years are outlined in the following:

Year

Fines

Debts

2009

4,806

162

2008

2,520

255

2007

1,335

201

The Deputy may also wish to note that the Fines Act 2010 includes provision for the payment of fines by instalment. Section 15, when commenced, will allow a person on whom a fine has been imposed to make an application to the court to pay a fine in this way. It will be possible to pay a fine over a period of 12 months and exceptionally, over a 2 year period. These provisions will be commenced as soon as necessary enhancements have been made to the Courts Service ICT system.

Section 14 of the Act has however been commenced with effect from 4 January, 2011. This requires the court to take into account the person's financial circumstances before determining the amount of the fine, if any, to be imposed.

Garda Complaints Procedures

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

164 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will support the case of a person (details supplied). [4595/11]

I understand that the person to whom the Deputy refers has made a complaint in relation to this matter to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission. The Ombudsman Commission is statutorily independent in its examination of complaints and I have no role in the matter.

Garda Investigations

Michael D. Higgins

Ceist:

165 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform his views on reports that an undercover British police officer infiltrated some legitimate community protest groups in recent times; his further views that activities whereby measures in the enforcement of law would mirror those breaking the law is inappropriate; if there is truth to rumours that there was agreement between those charged with administering the law in our own jurisdiction and those in another jurisdiction; his views on this matter and if he will clarify the foregoing as a matter of urgency. [4616/11]

I am aware of reports which have appeared in relation to the activities of the individual in question. The position with regard to these reports is, as with any other person, that the individual in question, for so long as he may have been here, would have been completely subject to our laws. Any person who may have information that the individual in any way contravened those laws should make that information available to the appropriate authorities. Nevertheless, in view of the reports which have appeared, a report has been sought by my Department from the Garda authorities in the matter. When that report is to hand I will consider whether, and what, further action may be necessary.

Legal Services Ombudsman

Niall Collins

Ceist:

166 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform when it is expected that a Legal Ombudsman will be appointed. [4617/11]

The Memorandum of Understanding on Specific Economic Policy Conditionality related to the EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support to Ireland includes a commitment to legislate for the appointment of an independent regulator of the legal profession. My Department is currently considering the implications of this commitment, if any, for the appointment of the Legal Services Ombudsman, the recruitment process for which is well under way.

Citizenship Applications

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

167 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he will provide the top 20 nationalities of successful applicants for citizenship for each year from 2000 to 2010. [4629/11]

I refer the Deputy to my answer to Parliamentary Question No. 302 of 25 January 2011. Further information in relation to naturalisation applications will be forwarded to the Deputy shortly.

Bernard Allen

Ceist:

168 Deputy Bernard Allen asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform when a decision will issue on an application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [4632/11]

A valid application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in November 2008. The application is being processed in the normal way with a view to establishing whether the applicant meets the statutory conditions for the granting of naturalisation and will be submitted to me for decision in due course. While the average time from application to decision is 26 months, processing requirements and time taken to carry out necessary checks vary from case to case.

Court Procedures

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

169 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if a plaintiff-in-person can be denied access to a court if they lack the ability to pay. [4661/11]

There is nothing to prevent a person from representing himself or herself before a court in civil cases. However, the function of the Legal Aid Board is to provide legal aid and advice in civil cases to persons of modest means at little cost.

A person who, for whatever reason, has to attend court or is contemplating court action may wish to access information via the Courts Service website (www.courts.ie). There are leaflets on "Going to Court" available in any courthouse.

Departmental Expenditure

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

170 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the amount of money spent on an inquiry (details supplied). [4669/11]

I can inform the Deputy that €943,858.25 was incurred by my Department in connection with the operation of the independent examination of the Stardust victims committee's case for a reopened inquiry into the Stardust fire disaster. In addition, my Department provided €424,300 to meet the legal, expert and other costs of participation by the Victims Committee.

As the Deputy will appreciate, my Department is not involved in the provision of health and social services in the community and as such has no information on assistance provided to the victims and their families from general programmes of this nature. However, in line with the discretionary recommendation made by Mr. Paul Coffey SC, my Department has put in place arrangements to respond to outstanding medical or counselling needs on the part of the victims and their families. A public notice was placed in newspapers inviting persons who wished to access such services through this channel to register their interest and information was also supplied to the Victims Committee for dissemination. Up until the end of 2010, €12,978.50 has been incurred in the provision of counselling services to the small number of people who have expressed an interest in availing of these arrangements.

In addition, the Deputy will also recall that my Department oversaw and funded the arrangements which led to the successful identification of 5 previously unidentified victims. A total of €177,820.53 was incurred in connection with the exhumation, forensic and funeral costs associated with the identification process.

Redundancy Payments

Pat Breen

Ceist:

171 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Social Protection when payment will issue to a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4531/11]

On 1 January 2011, the Department assumed responsibility for making redundancy payments from the Social Insurance Fund. There are two types of redundancy payment made from the fund i.e. rebates to those employers who have paid statutory redundancy to eligible employees and statutory lump sums to employees whose employers are insolvent and/or in receivership/liquidation. I can confirm that a statutory redundancy lump sum claim in respect of the individual concerned was received on 14 July, 2010. This claim is pending processing. Lump sum claims dating from June 2010 are currently being processed.

Social Welfare Benefits

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Ceist:

172 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will request the Health Service Executive and other State agencies to support a person (details supplied) now resident in the State with extended family in the aftermath of having care in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4571/11]

The HSE has advised that the person concerned was refused a basic weekly payment under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme in July 2010 as she was not considered habitually resident in the State, a decision that was upheld by the Appeals Office in the HSE in January 2011.

Olwyn Enright

Ceist:

173 Deputy Olwyn Enright asked the Minister for Social Protection if an appeal regarding a claim for mortgage interest supplement has been received in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4598/11]

Supplementary welfare allowance which includes mortgage interest supplement is administered on behalf of the Department by the Health Service Executive (HSE).

The HSE has advised that the mortgage interest supplement claim for the person concerned was suspended for the period October 2010 to December 2010 pending receipt of documentation clarifying the employment status of the applicant. The HSE has stated that according to its records it has no record of having received an appeal against the decision to suspend the payment from the person concerned.

The HSE also advised that payment of mortgage interest supplement was re-instated from January 2011 and that the issue of any payment of arrears for the period October 2010 to December 2010 will be addressed upon receipt of the outstanding documentation.

The HSE has further advised that as a result of a change in circumstances it is currently reviewing the entitlement of the person in question and that it will advise the person concerned of its decision in due course.

FÁS Training Programmes

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

174 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will readjust the assessment of the live register figures to include persons who are aged 18 years or over but who are not entitled to any social welfare payment because their parents are currently employed, and are therefore not registered in any form to enable them to participate in FÁS courses; if the appropriate amendment will be made to enable them, once registered, to be eligible for participation in such FÁS courses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4657/11]

This is a matter for the Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills.

Social Welfare Code

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

175 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding reductions in welfare and benefit payments (details supplied). [4670/11]

The changes in the rates of social welfare payments announced by the Minister for Finance in his Budget Statement on 7 December 2010 have been provided for in the Social Welfare Act 2010. This Act was signed by the President on 17th December 2010 and the revised rates of payment took effect from the first week in January 2011.

Social Welfare Benefits

Jack Wall

Ceist:

176 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for mortgage interest relief in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4490/11]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised that it has received an application for mortgage interest supplement from the person concerned in August 2010. The HSE has further advised a decision on entitlement cannot be made pending receipt of documentation indicating which elements of the mortgage loan and value thereof are in respect of the purchase, essential repair or improvement of his residence.

The HSE has advised that according to its records, it has not yet received the documentation requested. The person concerned should contact his local Community Welfare Office if he wishes to pursue his application.

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

177 Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Social Protection the supports a person who fulfils the financial criteria for help from their community welfare officer and whose spouse is seriously ill is entitled to; if they are entitled to the full cost of accommodation with receipts provided while they are visiting their spouse in hospital; if they are entitled to the full cost of items that those in charge of the spouses' care deem them to need on their discharge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4505/11]

Under the supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) scheme a number of supplements are available to individuals to assist them where costs cannot be met from their own resources including diet supplement, heating supplement and travel supplements. In addition exceptional needs payments (ENP) may also be made to help meet essential, once-off non-recurring costs.

There is no automatic entitlement to supplements or ENPs payments. Each application is determined by the Health Service Executive (HSE) based on the particular circumstances of the case. Eligible people would normally be in receipt of a social welfare or HSE payment.

All applications for supplements or ENPs can be made by contacting the community welfare officer at the local Health Centre. This officer can also advise on any other possible entitlements a person may have.

Question No. 178 withdrawn.

Social Welfare Appeals

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Ceist:

179 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will issue on an appeal of a decision for carer’s allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4524/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 16 December 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.

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.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

180 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social Protection when an appeal will be heard in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [4527/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 29 November 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.

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

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

181 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will support the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9. [4530/11]

Mortgage interest supplement is administered on behalf of the Department by the Community Welfare Services Division of the Health Service Executive (HSE).

The HSE has advised that it refused payment of a mortgage interest supplement in September 2008 to the person concerned on the grounds that the amount of interest payable was in excess of what it considered to be reasonable to meet the residential requirements of the person concerned and that it did not consider it was reasonable to award the supplement having regard to the amount of the arrears outstanding on the loan.

In March 2009, the Social Welfare Appeals Office determined that as an exceptional measure a monthly payment should be paid to the person concerned for the period September 2008 to July 2009 to allow the person time for a legal issue surrounding the property to be resolved. The HSE has advised that it provided assistance toward her mortgage for the period September 2008 to July 2009 when all payments ceased.

The HSE has further advised that as of January 2011 they understand that the person is receiving assistance from the Northside Community Law Centre and that the legal matter is still unresolved.

Social Welfare Appeals

Michael Ring

Ceist:

182 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social Protection when an appeal for disability allowance will be heard in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [4544/11]

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 in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 26 October 2010 and the appeal will be referred to an Appeals Officer in due course, who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing.

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

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

183 Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will review his decision to freeze the payment to private sector operators until 2014 in respect of the free travel scheme taking into account that there has been a large increase in free travel usage of this service since the last survey was carried out in 2008 and the fact that these private operators are not subsidised, in contrast to Bus Éireann, Dublin Bus and Irish Rail who have and will continue to have revenue and capital support from the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4549/11]

The free travel scheme permits free travel on most CIE public transport services, Luas and a range of services offered by over 90 private operators in various parts of the country at an annual cost to the exchequer of some €74 million in 2010.

As outlined in The National Recovery Plan 2011-2014, funding for the free travel scheme is now frozen at 2010 levels of expenditure for the duration of the plan. In implementing this measure, my priority is to ensure that the beneficiaries of the scheme, namely the elderly and disabled, are not adversely impacted in this tighter funding situation. In the circumstances, my Department is not currently in a position to consider applications for increased payments under the scheme.

Brendan Kenneally

Ceist:

184 Deputy Brendan Kenneally asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) in County Waterford has been refused family income supplement when they were in receipt of this payment previously and their circumstances have not changed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4554/11]

Legislation covering the FIS scheme is contained in Part 6 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005.

Section 227 (a) provides that:

"Family" means:

where that person is living with or wholly or mainly maintaining his or her spouse, that spouse, and a child or children

This definition only provides for payment of FIS where that person is considered to be part of a family, as defined. Specifically a separated person is required either to have a qualified child residing with him/her or to be “wholly or mainly maintaining his or her spouse”, i.e. the adult with whom the child normally resides, to qualify as part of the family for FIS purposes.

The person concerned applied for FIS in September 2010 and his application was refused as he was deemed not to be wholly maintaining his spouse with whom the children are resident.

The person concerned was previously in receipt of FIS from September 2008 to September 2009 and was also separated at that time. While there has been no change in the legislation concerning separated couples and FIS, prior to June 2009 the practice was to pay FIS to separated parents who were maintaining their children only. As there was no legislative basis for this practice it was discontinued.

Social Welfare Appeals

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Ceist:

185 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will provide supports to a person (details supplied) who has left a care setting in Northern Ireland to take up residence in the State with extended family members; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4572/11]

The jobseeker's allowance claim of the person concerned was disallowed by a Deciding Officer of the Department on the grounds that she did not satisfy the habitual residence conditions.

An appeal was registered on 25 January 2011 and the Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the appeal will be referred to an Appeals Officer in due course, who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing.

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.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

186 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an appeal against the decision to refuse an application for disability allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4582/11]

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 for the hearing have been made.

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.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

187 Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Social Protection when an appeal against an illness benefit claim disallowance will be heard in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [4619/11]

Payment of illness benefit to the person concerned was disallowed by a Deciding Officer following an examination by a Medical Assessor of the Department who expressed the opinion that she was capable of work.

An appeal was registered on 12 January 2011 and the Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that, in accordance with statutory requirements, the Department was asked for the documentation in the case and the Deciding Officer's comments on the grounds of the appeal. In that context, an examination by another Medical Assessor will be carried out. The person concerned will be notified when arrangements for the examination have been completed.

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.

Departmental Research

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

188 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will conduct research into the impact of the budget 2011 cuts on individuals, families and local retail; if he will outline the nature of the research; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4642/11]

I have no plans at present to initiate further research on the impact of the social welfare changes announced in Budget 2011. However, the leading independent economic and social research body in Ireland, the ESRI, has examined, in detail, the impact of tax and welfare changes in recent budgets.

The Institute highlighted the necessity to get the facts right, so that debate can be based on solid evidence. Their analysis showed broadly similar percentage losses in incomes — between 2 and 3 per cent — across both low and high income groups as a consequence of the Budget 2011. When the changes introduced over the period 2009 to 2011 are examined, the ESRI concludes that these have been strongly progressive with reductions in top incomes of close to 10 per cent, middle incomes by about 5 per cent and the poorest groups by 2 to 3 per cent.

Social Welfare Code

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

189 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection the steps he will take to ensure that Irish persons who are currently considering emigrating will not be frozen out of the social welfare system upon return. [4643/11]

The determination of a person's habitual residence is made in accordance with Section 246 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005, as amended.

Subsection (4) specifically directs the deciding officer to "take into consideration all the circumstances of the case, including, in particular, the following:

(a) the length and continuity of residence in the State or in any other particular country;

(b) the length and purpose of any absence from the State;

(c) the nature and pattern of the person's employment;

(d) the person's main centre of interest, and

(e) the future intentions of the person concerned as they appear from all the circumstances."

These five specified factors have been derived from European Court of Justice case law which examined the concept of habitual residence in the context of social welfare benefits. The Department's guidelines go on to point out that "No single factor is conclusive. The evidential weight to be attributed to each factor will depend on the circumstances of each case. It is necessary to weigh up all the information and balance the evidence for and against an applicant satisfying the habitual residence condition".

The current guidelines regarding determination of habitual residence address the issue of returning emigrants very specifically under the heading: Resuming previous residence.

"A person who had previously been habitually resident in the State or within the Common Travel Area and who moved to live and work in another country and then resumes his/her permanent residence in the State may be regarded as being habitually resident immediately on his/her return to the State.

In determining habitual residence in such cases the deciding officer should take account of:

purpose of return e.g. expiry of foreign residence permit

the applicant's stated intentions

verified arrangements which have been made in regard to returning on a long-term basis e.g. transfer of financial accounts and any other assets

length and continuity of the previous residence in the State

the record of employment or self employment in another State and

whether s/he has maintained links with the previous residence and can be regarded as resuming his/her previous residence rather than starting a new period of residence."

The information sought from an applicant who has returned to the State will therefore include such elements as: how long they were previously resident here, why they left, how long they lived in various countries abroad and why they lived there, why they have returned, and whether they own property in Ireland or abroad. It is generally found that this information is sufficient to enable the deciding officer to determine whether their present circumstances in Ireland indicate a temporary visit or habitual residence.

Social Welfare Appeals

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

190 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection if he will take emergency action to speed up the processing of appeals for domiciliary care allowance which are taking an average of 13.3 weeks and 49.1 weeks for summary and oral appeals respectively and in some cases much longer especially considering the high rate of appeals being successful, 54% in 209 and 36% in 2010, which means that the carers of children and others with disabilities who are entitled to the payment are being forced to go without it for long periods. [4644/11]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

191 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason for the sharp decrease in the success rate of appeals for domiciliary care allowance from 54% in 2009 to 36% in 2010. [4645/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 190 and 191 together.

Domiciliary Care Allowance was transferred to the Department from the HSE in 2009. In that year 11 Domiciliary Care Allowance appeals were processed by the Appeals Office compared to 652 in 2010. Each appeal is dealt with on its own merits after the Appeals Officer considers all the evidence and, consequently, the Social Welfare Appeals Office is not in a position to advance reasons why the rates for successful appeals rise or fall by comparison of one year with another.

Overall, the annual intake of appeals has increased from 14,070 in 2007 to 32,432 in 2010, an increase of 18,362 (130.5%) and this has impacted on the length of time to process appeals. In recognition of these increases, a number of initiatives have been introduced which, while not eliminating the time lags, have significantly increased the number of cases finalised in 2010 (28,166) in comparison to those finalised in 2009 (17,787). Of these cases, 17,499 were decided by Appeals Officers in 2010, as opposed to 10,027 in 2009.

The Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2010 facilitated the use of experienced retired former Appeals Officers, on a strictly temporary basis to assist in reducing the backlog of Social Welfare Appeals cases.

In conjunction with the provision of extra staff, more emphasis is now placed on dealing with appeals on a summary basis so as to increase productivity. As a result, the number of appeals dealt with by Appeals Officers by way of oral hearing was reduced from 59% in 2009 to 31.5% in 2010.

A project to improve the business processes in the office was also 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.

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.

Community Employment Schemes

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

192 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection his plans to increase the number of community employment places available. [4646/11]

The aim of the Community Employment (CE) scheme remains as an active labour market programme with the emphasis on progression into employment and/or further education and training. The programme is managed within this context, subject to the availability of resources and the needs of participants and the community.

Within the current budgetary constraints, the number of places on CE was increased to 23,300 in 2010. The budgetary provision for CE in 2011 will allow FÁS to continue the programme at the same level as 2010. In delivering these places, FÁS 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.

Price Inflation

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

193 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection his plans to respond to a number of flagged price hikes of essential goods including the price of quality meat and the price of electricity. [4647/11]

The Government is very mindful of the impact of price rises in any area but particularly where essential goods and services are concerned. As the Deputy will appreciate it is not feasible to have the social welfare system respond when prices of particular goods increase, as it is necessary to consider the adequacy of payments in the aggregate. In that regard, I would like to point out that the annual average rate of inflation for 2010 per the CSO was negative (-1%). While there have been some increases in inflation in recent months, consumer prices are back at April 2007 levels. After Budget 2011, most working age rates of payment to those aged between 25 and 66 will be €2.20 higher than in 2007.

I would also like to point out that with regard to persons in receipt of household benefits, the electricity allowance is based on units of electricity and not cost and accordingly these people are protected from increased prices for a portion of their usage.

Over the period from 2004 to 2011, the weekly rates of social welfare payments have increased significantly, as follows;

Carer's Allowance (aged under 66) has increased by 46.1%.

Jobseeker's Allowance, Disability Allowance and One Parent Family Payment have increased by 39.5%.

State Pension Contributory has increased by 37.7%.

State Pension Non Contributory has increased by 42.2%.

Over the same period, the cost of living has increased by just under 12%.

This data includes the impact of the reductions in certain payments in the last two budgets. I fully appreciate the changes made are not easy for those affected but believe that if the Government had not taken the steps to reduce overall public expenditure and restore stability to the public finances, we would have run the risk of making the economic and social situation far worse for everyone, including welfare recipients.

Social Welfare Appeals

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

194 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) will receive a hearing on their appeal of social welfare benefit. [4671/11]

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. In order to be fair to all appellants, oral hearings are arranged in strict chronological order.

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

Beverley Flynn

Ceist:

195 Deputy Beverley Flynn asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) in County Mayo was refused domiciliary care allowance. [4674/11]

Eligibility for Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) is not based primarily on the impairment or disease, but on the resulting lack of function of body or mind necessitating a degree of substantial extra care and attention. Children with ADHD, or any other condition, do not automatically qualify for a payment under the scheme. Every application is assessed by one of the Department's medical assessors and an individual medical opinion, based on the information submitted by the applicant in support of the claim, is offered in each case. The deciding officer then makes a decision having considered the medical opinion provided and all the other information available.

In the case in question an application for DCA was refused on the grounds that the child did not satisfy the medical criteria for the scheme. The case was subsequently reviewed by a different medical assessor who supported this opinion.

Pension Provisions

Pat Breen

Ceist:

196 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the reason a person (details supplied) in County Clare is in receipt of a reduced payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4539/11]

While my Department has overall responsibility for the Local Government (Superannuation) (Consolidation) Scheme 1998, the payment of pensions to retired staff, under the terms of the scheme is a matter for each local authority and payment queries should be directed to the relevant local authority in the first instance.

However, in view of the particular circumstances outlined in the extra details supplied with the parliamentary question I asked Officials at my Department to contact counterparts in the relevant local authority. I understand that the matter has now been resolved.

Contract Payments

John Cregan

Ceist:

197 Deputy John Cregan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if payment will issue to a company (details supplied) from County Limerick who carried out works as sub-contractors to a premises in County Wexford after the contract had been awarded to another company; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4550/11]

My Department is not a party to the contract and has no role in the matter.

Social Housing

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

198 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the criteria for social housing in respect of non EEA nationals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4655/11]

The latest guidance to local authorities in respect of access to social housing supports for non-Irish nationals, including non-EEA nationals, is set out in my Department's Circular SHIP 2010/19 of 24 September 2010. A copy of the Circular is available in the Oireachtas library.

Natural Gas Grid

Michael D. Higgins

Ceist:

199 Deputy Michael D. Higgins asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if, further to Parliamentary Question No. 228 of 4 November 2010 and No. 82 of 8 December 2010, he will provide references for the best international engineering gas leakage detection practice he refers to; the details and specifications the developer has proposed for systems which would detect a leak; if he will outline any peer-reviewed studies proving the detection success rate in varying environmental conditions of such systems proposed by the developer; if those studies were independent studies; his level of confidence in the veracity of their findings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4546/11]

In order to clarify the matter for the Deputy, as outlined in responses to Question No. 228 of 4 November 2010 and Question No. 82 of 8 December 2010, it is the overall design and construction of the Corrib Gas terminal that is based on best international engineering practice for gas processing terminals. Notwithstanding the fact that the terminal is designed to ensure against a leak of gas, the developer has proposed that detection systems are installed. The proposed systems are standard and involve proven fire and gas detection systems.

Semi-State Bodies

Jim O'Keeffe

Ceist:

200 Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he has made any proposals to the Department of Finance for change in the remuneration of the chief executive officers of the commercial semi-State bodies for which he has responsibilities when current levels of remuneration appear to be excessive; his views on this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4591/11]

I can inform the Deputy that in the context of the Minister for Finance's budget day reference to the levels of remuneration of the chief executive officers of the commercial State bodies, my Department has engaged, and will continue to engage with the Department of Finance on the matter. As the Deputy may be aware the contracts, including remuneration provisions, of all chief executive officers of the commercial State agencies under the aegis of my Department must be approved by myself and by the Minister for Finance.

Child Care Services

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

201 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will support the proposed European missing child line number of 116000. [4609/11]

The allocation of specific numbers in the 116 number range of numbers, which are reserved for services of social value, is managed in Ireland by the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg). In July 2007 ComReg published the range of numbers and the services for which they are available. In November 2007 ComReg advertised the existence of the range of numbers beginning with 116. 116000 is reserved as a "hotline" for missing children. The November 2007 advertisement invited suitable applicants to apply for the setting up of services. I am advised by ComReg that no organisation has yet applied for the missing children hotline number 116000. It is important to note that while ComReg has a role, as outlined above, I have no function in the provision of such services of social value.

Foreshore Licences

John O'Mahony

Ceist:

202 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a foreshore lease will issue to facilitate the construction of a slipway (details supplied) in County Mayo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4478/11]

The Minister of State, Deputy Connick, approved the granting of a foreshore lease under Section 2 of the Foreshore Act, 1933 to Mayo County Council for the construction of a slipway at Kilcummin Pier, Killala, Co Mayo on 17 June 2010. The Chief State Solicitor's Office is presently drafting the aforementioned lease.

Grant Payments

Pat Breen

Ceist:

203 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4504/11]

An application under the 2010 Single Payment Scheme was received from the person named on 7 May 2010. Advance payments under the 2010 Single Payment Scheme commenced nationally on 18 October 2010. The person named submitted an application with 16 land parcels, 7 of which required re-digitisation. My Department has completed this re-digitisation process. Payments to the person named were made under the Single Payment Scheme on 18 October 2010, 1 December 2010 and the final balancing payment issued on 13 January 2011.

Departmental Staff

Pat Breen

Ceist:

204 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when agreement on the redeployment of staff at the local agricultural office in Ennis, County Clare will be finalised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4545/11]

The process of redeployment of staff from the Ennis local office is ongoing. While every effort has been made to identify redeployment opportunities in Ennis it has not proved possible to accommodate staff locally. In these circumstances the terms of the Croke Park Agreement are being invoked and the details of all staff to be redeployed will be registered on the Public Appointments System (PAS). As vacancies arise, offers will be made to eligible staff. The process of registration will commence shortly. It is not possible to say when the process of redeployment will be complete for this office.

Grant Payments

Seymour Crawford

Ceist:

205 Deputy Seymour Crawford asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan will be paid their REP scheme payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4552/11]

The person named commenced in REPS 4 on 1 November, 2008 and has received payment for the years 2008 and 2009. His 2010 payment application has now been processed and payment will issue shortly.

Phil Hogan

Ceist:

206 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a single farm payment will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4559/11]

An application under the 2010 Single Payment Scheme was received from the person named on 13 May 2010. The 50% advance payment, which issued on 18 October and the further 30% payment, which issued on 1 December, were both on the basis of those parcels cleared for payment at that stage, as a number of other land parcels listed on the application of the person named required re-digitisation. This process was recently completed, following which the balancing payment due issued directly to the nominated bank account of the person named on 31 January.

Phil Hogan

Ceist:

207 Deputy Phil Hogan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a forestry payment will be awarded in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Carlow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4574/11]

It is intended that the annual forestry premium payments will issue before the end of April to applicants who have returned the claim form for their forestry payment (Form 4) before then.

John O'Mahony

Ceist:

208 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason a person (details supplied) has not received their installation aid payment as their appeal was allowed on two occasions by the appeals commission. [4613/11]

This case concerns the lodgement of an application for grant-aid under the Young Farmers' Installation Scheme after the decision to suspend the Scheme for new applications on 14 October 2008.

Legal advice is being obtained by my Department in relation to the validity of the decisions taken by the Agriculture Appeals Office. No decision will be taken in relation to payment in the case concerned until this advice has been received.

John Perry

Ceist:

209 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will ensure that a person (details supplied) in County Sligo will receive their full and corrected area aid payments in view of the fact that they received an incorrect 50% payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4626/11]

An application under the 2010 Single Payment Scheme was received from the person named on 14 April 2010. The 50% advance payment, which issued on 18 October, was on the basis of those parcels cleared for payment at that stage as a number of other land parcels listed on the application of the person named required re-digitisation. Following re-digitisation, two land parcels were found to be over-claimed and, following correspondence, the person named confirmed that he was not entitled to declare the area claimed for these parcels. Consequently, the appropriate reduction penalty was applied, as per the Terms and Conditions of the Scheme. The balancing payment, which issued on 1 December, was calculated on this basis.

Consultancy Contracts

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

210 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food where the literature for the agri environment options scheme, formerly REP scheme, is printed. [4636/11]

The contract for printing the 2010 Agri-Environment Options Scheme documentation was awarded to Creative Design and Print, Westpoint, Wexford following a competitive tendering process carried out in accordance with relevant national procurement guidelines.

Grant Payments

Tom Sheahan

Ceist:

211 Deputy Tom Sheahan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when the new entrants grant of €5,000 through the National Reserve will issue in respect of a person (details supplied). [4639/11]

The person named applied for Category B of the 2010 National Reserve. Category B caters for Farmers who commenced farming after 15th May 2008. Applicants are also required to meet certain other criteria including income limits and educational qualifications.

The number of entitlements to be allocated may not exceed the number of eligible hectares acquired and declared on the 2010 Single Payment application for which the applicant does not already hold single payment entitlements. The maximum allocation under the 2010 National Reserve will not exceed €5,000.

The person named has been deemed eligible under Category B and an allocation under the 2010 National Reserve will be made in early February.

Jimmy Deenihan

Ceist:

212 Deputy Jimmy Deenihan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when single farm payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4641/11]

An application under the 2010 Single Payment Scheme/Disadvantaged Areas Scheme was received from the person named on 12 May 2010. Maps submitted by the person named outlining required changes to land parcel boundaries declared by him in the 2010 application were found to be overlapping with the land under a forestry contract. Following clarification received from the relevant parties this issue is now resolved and the Single Farm Payment due to the applicant will issue shortly.

Job Creation

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

213 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the position regarding jobs created in County Louth in the past three years; the moneys invested by the State in each case; the number of jobs created; and the location of each project. [4474/11]

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

214 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the capital expenditure by the job creating agencies in job creation for County Louth; the individual funding for each year since 2008 for Drogheda, Dundalk and Ardee; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4475/11]

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

215 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the number of jobs lost in County Louth in the past five years; the location of each; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4476/11]

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

216 Deputy Fergus O’Dowd asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the number of visits made by all job creating agencies by location in County Louth for each year since 2008 to date in 2011 for the purpose of job creation; the priority allocated by the Industrial Development Agency to each such area; the land bank held in each area; the cost of same; if the land bank has been serviced and the cost of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4477/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 213 to 216, inclusive, together.

Details of the figures for job created and lost in companies supported by Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland in Co. Louth for the period in question are set out in Tables A and B. As statistical information in relation to County Enterprise Boards is collated annually, figures in respect of 2010 are currently being collated and should be available within the first quarter of 2011. Statistical information on jobs existing in companies assisted by Louth County Enterprise Board in 2008 and 2009 is set out in Table C.

The Capital expenditure by Enterprise Ireland on Community Enterprise Centres for job creation in Co. Louth since 2008 is outlined in Table D.

Statistical information in relation to grants by Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland and Louth County Enterprise Board during 2008 and 2009 is set out in Table E.

Information in relation to grants paid by Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland in Co. Louth between 2008 and 2010 in respect of client companies in Drogheda, Dundalk and Ardee is set out in Table F.

Site visits from potential investors normally relate to projects which are mobile and, more often than not, are from overseas. The Enterprise Ireland and CEB portfolios of indigenous client companies are, of their nature, not very mobile, however, Enterprise Ireland has a remit for visiting itineraries for the food and natural resources sectors. In 2009, Enterprise Ireland facilitated one site visit to Co. Louth by a company in the food sector. This company made a decision in 2010 to open a production facility on the Finnabair Business Park, Dundalk. In 2010, the agency facilitated a site visit from an Irish company that wished to expand. The company was shown buildings in Cavan, Drogheda and Dundalk but has not yet made a decision as to its preferred location. In 2010, the agency facilitated a food company interested in locating to Co. Louth. The company was shown sites and buildings in Drogheda and Dundalk, and is expected to make a decision this month regarding its preferred location.

The number of site visits by IDA Ireland client companies to Co. Louth amounted to 23 in 2008; 29 in 2009; 18 in 2010 and 2 so far, in 2011.

There is a total of 250 acres of land available in Co. Louth as follows:

150 acres at Mullagharlin, Dundalk (Dundalk Science & Technology Park);

20 acres available in Finnabair Business Park, Dundalk with a €5m contract completed to bring the park to "flagship" standard;

Site development works on IDA's new 63 acre Business & Technology Park in Drogheda has been completed;

2.5 acres at Marley's Lane, Drogheda.

The buildings which are owned or being marketed by IDA in the County are:

3 × 30,000 sq. ft. offices completed during 2006 at Finnabair Business Park with approximately 50,000 sq ft occupied (some temporary);

There is 60,000 sq ft available in Drogheda in various configurations;

Approximately 250,000 sq ft still available in the former Xerox complex in Dundalk;

Incubator units available in the Regional Development Centre, DKIT Campus, Dundalk;

A variety of good quality units, both office and potentially manufacturing are available in The Brewery Business Park (formerly McArdles Brewery).

The capital spend by IDA in the Louth area from 2008 to 2010 for site development amounted to €4,099,925.

Table A: Jobs created by Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland client companies in Co. Louth

2008

2009

2010

Enterprise Ireland

447

318

258

IDA Ireland

121

34

72

Table B: Jobs lost in Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland client companies in Co. Louth

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

Enterprise Ireland

239

363

635

883

524

IDA Ireland

287

172

433

277

337

Table C: Louth County Enterprise Board

2008

2009

Number of jobs existing in CEB-supported companies*

1,212.50

973.50

*Based on CEB Annual Employment Survey.

Table D: Capital expenditure by Enterprise Ireland on Community Enterprise Centres in County Louth since 2008 to assist with job creation

Name of Enterprise Centre

Status of Project

Amount Paid

Scheme Approved Under

Louth Craftmark Enterprise Centre

Due to commence 1st Quarter 2011

€25,000

CEC 2007-2009 2nd Round

Table E: Enterprise Agencies and CEB Grants Paid in Co. Louth

Grant Paid

2008

2009

2010

IDA Ireland

1,245,000

282,900

310,000

Enterprise Ireland

1,979,237

5,750,297

6,411,017

CEB

738,323

619,296

Table F: Grants by the Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland

IDA Ireland Payments by Town 2008

IDA Ireland Payments by Town 2009

IDA Ireland Payments by Town 2010

Enterprise Ireland Payments by Town 2008

Enterprise Ireland Payments by Town 2009

Enterprise Ireland Payments by Town 2010

Drogheda

1,005,000

52,900

130,000

478,507

1.6 m

1.5 m

Dundalk

240,000

230,000

180,000

855,720

2.5 m

3.2 m

Ardee

0

0

0

492,750

758,495

489,438

Work Permits

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

217 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the position regarding a spousal work permit application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [4522/11]

My Department processes applications in respect of the different types of employment permits — Green Cards Permits, Work Permits, Spousal/Dependant Permits and Intra-company Transfer Permits. All applications are processed in line with the Employment Permits Act 2006.

I wish to advise the Deputy that the Employment Permits Section wrote to the applicant on 27th January 2011 requesting some additional information in relation to this case. On receipt of that information a decision will be made on this application.

Defence Forces Personnel

John Perry

Ceist:

218 Deputy John Perry asked the Minister for Defence if he will ensure that the allowance paid to Permanent Defence Force cadre staff in respect of working in conjunction with the Reserve Defence Force will not be abolished in view of the financial hardship this will cause to many members; if he will ensure that the allowance is retained in view of the fact that it has been in existence for over 40 years; the future plans for the RDF should this allowance be abolished; if the RDF will also be abolished; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4575/11]

The allowance referred to in this question is a matter subject to litigation in the High Court. In those circumstances it would be inappropriate for me to comment on that portion of the question. A Value for Money review of the reserve is presently underway. It is expected that the findings of the review will contribute to the development of future plans for the reserve.