Written Answers

The following are questions tabled by Members for written response and the ministerial replies as received on the day from the Departments [unrevised].
Questions Nos. 1 to 6, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 7 to 14, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 15 to 24, inclusive, answered orally.

Nuclear Proliferation

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

25 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the role he envisages playing in promoting Ireland’s traditional support for nuclear non-proliferation and if he plans any specific initiatives in that regard targeted at countries which may be undertaking the construction of nuclear weapons. [5353/11]

Nuclear weapons pose an existential challenge to humanity and achieving their elimination is a fundamental global challenge. Nuclear non-proliferation and implementation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty have been priorities of Irish Governments for over 50 years. We have a proud record of engagement and achievement in this critically important field and I am committed to maintaining this tradition.

The NPT, the primary international mechanism for controlling the spread of nuclear weapons, is reviewed every five years. The 2010 review conference adopted forward-looking action plans across all three pillars of the Treaty, disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. Full implementation of these plans would considerably reinforce the non-proliferation regime and I intend to promote this, bilaterally and multilaterally, in the period ahead.

The International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna plays a key role in overseeing and regulating the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and the Government is committed to strong support for its work. Full compliance with all obligations under the IAEA statute, with safeguards obligations and with Security Council resolutions are essential to establishing international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of nuclear programmes, particularly that of Iran. Ireland is firmly of the view that all States should adopt a Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement, together with an Additional Protocol to that agreement, to enable the Agency to reach comprehensive conclusions on a State's exclusively peaceful use of nuclear energy.

The Government is also fully supportive of efforts by the E3 +3 to achieve a comprehensive negotiated long-term solution which restores international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme, while respecting its legitimate right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Northern Ireland Issues

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

26 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs his strategy of engagement with Northern Ireland issues and his views on joint North-South investments. [5351/11]

Maintaining and strengthening peace and reconciliation on the island of Ireland is a key priority for the Government. We are committed to the full and effective implementation of the Good Friday and St Andrews Agreements and intend to engage actively and constructively with the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly, civil society and all sides of the community.

The Taoiseach had a meeting with the First and deputy First Ministers in Washington last week and also took the opportunity to have initial contacts with the leaders of the SDLP and the Ulster Unionist party.

I intend to have meetings with the political parties in Northern Ireland in the near future. In those discussions I will underline this Government's intention to work with them to ensure that the full potential of the Good Friday Agreement is realised for the benefit of all of the people on this island.

One of the areas of greatest opportunity in this regard is North South cooperation. The Programme for Government underlines our commitment to working with our colleagues in the North to develop greater economic cooperation and to accelerate the process of economic recovery and job creation on this island. Both jurisdictions on the island face a number of common challenges.

Economic cooperation with Northern Ireland offers a significant opportunity to strengthen our competitiveness, achieve economies of scale in delivering services to communities on both sides of the border, overcome structural economic problems, tackle unemployment, and to reduce the problems deriving from our peripheral location in Europe.

I look forward to an early meeting of the North South Ministerial Council after the Assembly elections where the Government and the Executive can look at how we can cooperate to compete internationally, replicating in other areas the success we have seen with all-island bodies such as Tourism Ireland.

A good relationship with the British Government as the co-guarantor of the peace process is also essential and I have already been in touch with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and plan to meet him soon.

Humanitarian Assistance

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Ceist:

27 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the aid plans that have been put in place to offer assistance to the people of Japan following the earthquake and tsunami which have hit there. [5284/11]

A devastating earthquake measuring 9.0 on the Richter scale struck Japan on the afternoon of Friday, 11 March, causing widespread damage and triggering a massive tsunami.

The twin disasters ravaged the northeast of the country leaving thousands of people dead and many thousands more destitute. More than 500,000 people were evacuated from their homes and many of these have been forced to take refuge in community centres and temporary shelters.

Engineers have also been battling to save the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, 220 km from Tokyo, where the tsunami caused significant damage. There have been a number of explosions at the facility as well as radiation leaks.

With some estimates placing the cost to the Japanese economy at $200 billion (dollars), the recovery and reconstruction effort is likely to be long and difficult.

Japan's disaster response capability has been stretched to the limit by the scale of the emergency and last week they appealed to the EU for assistance. Support was specifically requested for the Japanese Red Cross, which has deployed 84 mobile medical teams and 735 staff members to the affected areas.

The Government responded immediately to this request by agreeing to provide €1 million to the Japanese Red Cross, which will provide relief for people left injured or homeless by the disaster.

The Government has also made available our emergency stockpiles in Subang, Malaysia. These are composed of emergency shelters, blankets and water and sanitation equipment and provide a basic infrastructure to those who have lost their homes. Irish Aid officials are also in ongoing contact with the EU and United Nations with a view to assessing how Ireland might further contribute to the relief operation.

Ambassadors Conference

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

28 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the scheduled meetings to be held in Dublin in 2011 involving all our heads of mission and the agenda identified for these meetings. [5350/11]

The Government has given a commitment that we will get the economy moving, restore confidence in the economy, fix our banking system and support the protection and creation of jobs. It is also our declared intention to re-build Ireland's reputation on the international stage. We are determined to restore Ireland's standing as a respected and influential member of the European Union and as part of the wider international community. Our Embassy network has a vital role to play in the repair of our reputation. We have made a firm commitment, therefore, in the new Programme for Government to "recall all Ireland's Ambassadors within 100 days of this new Government for briefings on a new approach to promoting and marketing Ireland as a country to do business in."

Work is underway in my Department on arrangements for this Ambassadors' Conference and we will be making an announcement on the timing and agenda shortly. While the emphasis will be on trade and restoring Ireland's reputation, I would expect the meeting to address all aspects of my Department's activities.

The promotion of enterprise and trade has always been an important component of our Embassy network. In recent times, this has been augmented by actions to brief key opinion formers in the international media, in host Governments and in civic society about our policies and in instilling confidence in the economy. In doing so, my Department and our Embassies work closely with State Agencies such as the IDA, Enterprise Ireland, Tourism Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland, Bord Bia and Culture Ireland. It has been normal practice for these agencies to be involved in Heads of Missions meetings and I would intend that this be the case with the forthcoming meeting.

European Council Meetings

Niall Collins

Ceist:

29 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Taoiseach the Ministers he intends to include in the formal delegations for different scheduled European Council meetings. [5205/11]

I will lead the Irish delegation to meetings of the European Council. The composition of the rest of the delegation, including participation if any by Ministers, will be determined as required.

Cabinet Committees

Niall Collins

Ceist:

30 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Taoiseach if the new Economic Council is established as a Cabinet Committee and the formal arrangements that are intended for its work in terms of support, regularity of meetings and location. [5206/11]

Ceist:

35 Deputy Michael P. Kitt asked the Taoiseach the likely frequency of meetings of the new Cabinet committee to co-ordinate economic affairs. [5377/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 30 and 35 together.

The Government Economic Management Council has been established with the status of a Cabinet Committee and comprises the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

The Council will manage the Government's Programme in respect of economic planning and budgetary matters, the economic recovery programme (including the representation of Ireland internationally in negotiations with the EU, ECB and IMF Troika), the integration of the work of Government Departments and agencies in these matters, as well the co-ordination of banking policy.

It is anticipated that the Council will normally meet on a weekly basis and it will be provided with appropriate support and expertise as required to ensure that it can carry out its functions.

Ministerial Responsibilities

Niall Collins

Ceist:

31 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Taoiseach the rights in relation to consultation and circulation of materials which have heretofore been reserved to the Minister for Finance will remain or be shared with the Minister for public expenditure and reform. [5210/11]

Procedures regarding consultation and circulation of materials will be reviewed to take account of the new Ministerial responsibilities, and any changes required, whether in legislation or procedures, will be implemented. In the meantime, the two Ministers are working very closely together and will be consulted and circulated with materials on the same basis. In addition, the Government has established the Government Economic Management Council, of which both Ministers are of course members, along with the Tánaiste and myself, to ensure the coordination of economic policy and the preparation of economic policy decisions in advance of consideration by the Government.

Ministerial Staff

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

32 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Taoiseach the arrangements he has put in place for constituency offices within his Department. [5238/11]

The Government Chief Whip, the Minister of State for European Affairs and I are currently finalising arrangements for our constituency offices in the context of the Government decision last week to reduce permitted staffing levels.

My constituency office will be based in Castlebar while the Government Chief Whip's constituency office will be based in Enniscorthy. In both cases some staff may be based in Government Buildings. The constituency office of the Minister of State for European Affairs will be located in Government Buildings.

Ministerial Responsibilities

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

33 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Taoiseach the specific powers he intends to delegate to Ministers of State in his Department. [5257/11]

My statutory functions in relation to the Central Statistics Office under the Statistics Act 1993, the Civil Service Regulation Acts 1956 to 2005 and the Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act 2004 have been delegated to the Government Chief Whip, Deputy Paul Kehoe.

I do not propose to delegate statutory functions to the Minister of State for European Affairs, Deputy Lucinda Creighton.

Constitutional Convention

Michael Moynihan

Ceist:

34 Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Taoiseach if it is his intention to establish the proposed constitutional convention on a statutory basis and, if so, the timetable he envisages for same. [5374/11]

As the Deputy will be aware, the Government for National Recovery Programme contains a proposal to establish a Constitutional Convention to consider comprehensive constitutional reform and to report within 12 months.

Work has commenced on the preparation of detailed proposals for the establishment of the Convention, and these will be considered by Government when ready. They will address matters such as the structure, composition and terms of reference of the Convention, including the basis on which it will be established.

Question No. 35 answered with Question No. 30.

Foreign Conflicts

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

36 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will advise persons (details supplied) regarding aid to Libya. [5104/11]

The humanitarian situation in and around Libya is extremely worrying. More than 250,000 people, mostly migrant workers, are thought to have fled across the country's borders and into Tunisia and Egypt in recent weeks, prompting a major international relief effort. At the same time, the situation within the country gives cause for real concern with widespread reports of civilian deaths and casualties. The violence has also sparked fears of much larger population movements and for the availability of food.

Humanitarian access to western Libya and areas under the control of the regime has been very limited, making it extremely difficult to assess the needs of the population or prevent further suffering. Together with our EU and UN partners, we have emphasised the need to place concerted pressure on the Libyan Government to permit full and unhindered access for humanitarian agencies.

The Irish Government, through Irish Aid, has also committed nearly €400,000 in response to the crisis, through both direct funding and in-kind assistance. This assistance has included the transport of 18,500 blankets and 100 tents for distribution by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) as well as €250,000 for the International Organisation for Migration to help transport some of those stranded at border areas back to their countries of origin. My Department stands ready to provide further support in response to the needs identified by the United Nations and other aid agencies such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (ICRC).

The ICRC, which works to prevent and alleviate human suffering and to provide emergency medical services to people affected by disasters or conflicts, is currently working with the Libyan Red Crescent in areas such as Benghazi. Proposals regarding the delivery of medical supplies or equipment from Ireland may usefully be addressed to the ICRC, or to the Irish Red Cross in Dublin.

Ambassadors Conference

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

37 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs if the meeting of ambassadors proposed in the programme for Government will replace the traditional autumn meeting. [5201/11]

Meetings of Ambassadors are convened as necessary. It has not been the practice, however, to hold them annually. The last such meeting took place in September 2009. The Government attaches major priority in its Programme to ensuring that the resources of the diplomatic network are fully mobilised to aid the repair of our international reputation. Accordingly, it has decided to recall all of our Heads of Missions overseas within the first 100 days of this Government's term of office for briefings on our new approach to promoting and marketing Ireland. Work is underway in my Department on arrangements for this Ambassadors' Conference and we will be making an announcement on the timing and agenda shortly.

This is the only general meeting with Ambassadors that is being planned in this year.

Ministerial Travel

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

38 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs his proposed travel itinerary for the next month. [5202/11]

My travel schedule will be designed to ensure the effective and vigorous fulfilment of my responsibilities as Minister for Foreign Affairs, in particular active pursuit of Ireland's foreign policy objectives, working to rebuild our international reputation and promotion of our economic interests overseas. The majority of my travel arises directly from Ireland's active and committed membership of the EU and UN, including monthly EU Council meetings.

Since assuming office, I have already undertaken certain important engagements abroad. I attended the Informal Meeting of EU Ministers for Foreign Affairs in Budapest on 11/12 March. On 15th March, I travelled to New York on an official St. Patrick's Day visit. My programme included participation in an Enterprise Ireland/Bank of America Technology Innovation Event which brought together 20 Irish hi-tech companies with some of the leading technology companies in the US. I also met senior business figures at the Ireland-US Council Luncheon as well as Irish networks based in the US. On 18th March, I travelled to Washington and met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Ministerial Staff

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

39 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the specific arrangements, including staffing, which he will put in place to assist him in his wider governmental and political responsibilities. [5203/11]

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

40 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the arrangements he has put in place for constituency offices within his Department. [5234/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 39 and 40 together.

As the Deputy will be aware, in light of the current economic circumstances, the Government decided on 15 March to reduce the staffing levels in Ministers' private and constituency offices.

The new limits for Ministerial Offices are as follows:

Each Minister of the Government may have a maximum of 8 staff in his/her Private Office (down from 10) and 4 staff in his/her Constituency Office (down from 6).

Each Minister of State may have a maximum of 5 staff in his/her Private Office (down from 7) and 3 staff in his/her Constituency Office (down from 5).

Each Minister of State who is assigned to more than one Department may have a total of 7 staff in their Private Office (down from 9).

All other arrangements are currently under consideration and will be settled in the near future with a view to facilitating implementation of the commitments and priorities set out in the Programme for Government.

Ministerial Responsibilities

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

41 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the specific powers he intends to delegate to Ministers of State in his Department. [5253/11]

As the Deputy will be aware, the Taoiseach made an announcement on 10 March 2011 appointing two Ministers of State to my Department. Deputy Lucinda Creighton will have responsibility for European Affairs and Deputy Jan O'Sullivan will have responsibility for Development and Trade.

The Minister for Finance, in consultation with the relevant Ministers, is to bring proposals to Government dealing with the changes in titles and functions of Departments, including the addition of the Trade function to the Department of Foreign Affairs. Following this, the necessary arrangements will be put in place to delegate powers to Ministers of State, as appropriate.

Question No. 42 answered with Question No. 23.

Ministerial Staff

Niall Collins

Ceist:

43 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Finance if he will give a guarantee to the Irish people that all support staff, including civilian drivers, currently engaged by himself, his Ministers and Ministers of State, will not be former civil or public servants or State employees who are already in receipt of a pension from their previous State employment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5179/11]

As the Deputy may be aware, the Government recently announced a number of cost saving measures relating to the personal appointees of Ministers and Ministers of State. These measures include a reduction in the number staff allowed in each Minister and Minister of State's Private and Constituency Office.

The selection of Ministerial appointees is a matter for individual Ministers having regard to the particular skills, experience and capability required. The current guidelines for appointments to such positions provide that the specific sanction of the Taoiseach is required for appointments of persons from outside the civil service and application for the Taoiseach's sanction is made directly to the Taoiseach's Private Office.

Former civil and public servants who retired under the Incentivised Early Retirement Scheme are not permitted to take up any employment in the same sector from which they have retired, except in exceptional circumstances. In general, former civil or public servants being re-engaged are subject to abatement, so that they receive no more by way of pension and salary than they would have received had they remained in their former employment.

Universal Social Charge

Ciaran Lynch

Ceist:

44 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Finance if he will rectify the anomaly whereby a person (details supplied) who has retired on grounds of ill health is required to pay the universal social charge on a pension which is smaller than an illness benefit payment which is not subject to USC; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5181/11]

The position is that the Universal Social Charge (USC) is applied at the following rates:

2% on the first €10,036 (€193 per week)

4% on the next €5,980 (€193.01 to €308.00 per week) and

7% on the balance.

For persons aged 70 years and over or with an entitlement to a full medical card the USC is applied at the following rates:

2% on the first €10,036 (€193 per week)

4% on the balance.

Furthermore, it should be noted that payments from the Department of Social Protection are exempt from the USC. Also, where an individual's total income which is chargeable to the USC, is below €4,004 in a year of assessment, the USC would not apply.

I would point out that one of the commitments of the new Programme for Government is to carry out a review of the USC. I can assure the Deputy that this will be completed in time for Budget 2012.

Departmental Responsibilities

Niall Collins

Ceist:

45 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Finance the timescale he envisages in bringing before the Dáil any instruments or resolutions which may be required to complete the transfer of responsibilities between existing and new Departments. [5204/11]

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

46 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Finance the number and names of the Government Departments that will be in place on 31 March 2011. [5369/11]

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

52 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the details of arrangements which have been made to determine which statutory functions reserved for the Minister for Finance are to fall within the powers of the Minister for public expenditure and reform; and the outcome of any such arrangements. [5197/11]

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

57 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Finance the details of all arrangements which have been made to determine which statutory functions reserved for him are to fall within the powers of the Minister for public expenditure and reform; the outcome of any such arrangements and the timeline for such arrangements to come in to place. [5241/11]

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

60 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Finance the specific powers he intends to delegate to Ministers of State in his Department. [5252/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 45, 46, 52, 57 and 60 together.

It is envisaged that the transfer of Public Expenditure and Reform functions from the Department/Minister for Finance to the Department/Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform will require primary legislation. Work on the legislation has commenced and is being given top priority. Discussions are still proceeding about the transfer of staff and functions and, in the circumstances, it is not possible to give a definitive answer in relation to the specific functions which will transfer and those which will remain with the Minister for Finance.

Transfers of Departmental functions are carried out by Government Order under powers contained in section 6(1) of the Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act 1939, while in some cases primary legislation may be needed. This aspect of the changes announced by the Taoiseach is still being examined in Departments. Each Order needs to be carefully drafted so that all relevant legislation is listed in the Schedule to the Order. The Departments which currently hold the functions which are being transferred to another Department are fully engaged in this task at present. The draft Orders will need to be finalised and settled in the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel before they can be brought to Government.

Once this process has been finalised, I will bring the necessary Orders to Government. At this stage, I cannot give a precise date for the formal transfer of functions as this depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of the legislation governing the particular functions. Pending such Orders, arrangements are as heretofore including the name and number of Departments which existed on 8 March 2011.

I can assure the Deputy that everyone involved in the process, both in my own Department and in the other Departments concerned, is making every effort to complete it at the earliest possible date and I hope that it can be brought to conclusion within a matter of weeks. The Orders will be published in Iris Oifigiuil and laid before the House without delay when made by the Government.

Legislative Programme

John McGuinness

Ceist:

47 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Finance if the Construction Contracts Bill will be debated by Dáil Éireann as soon as possible; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5041/11]

The Deputy will be aware that the Construction Contracts Bill which was introduced by Senator Feargal Quinn passed Committee and remaining stages in the Seanad on 8 March. I understand that the Seanad debate highlighted a number of matters relating to the Bill that require further consideration. It would also be imperative that the full regulatory impact of such a piece of legislation be fully assessed.

I will now be examining the Bill and will then decide how best to proceed. It is important that a solution to this problem must not place an unnecessary regulatory or cost burden on the parties to the dispute, other parties involved in the project, or the State.

Departmental Reports

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

48 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Finance if he has received a copy of the report of the Review Group on State Assets and Liabilities and if not, when he expects to receive a copy of the report. [5057/11]

I have not yet received the final Report of the Review Group on State Assets and Liabilities. The Group is in the process of finalising the Report and I expect that it will be submitted shortly.

Semi-State Bodies

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

49 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Finance his views on the sale of Coillte forestry or land in whole or in part if such an action was recommended by the Review Group on State Assets and Liabilities. [5058/11]

The future of Coillte, including its forestry and land holdings, will be considered by Government in light of commitments made in the Programme for Government. When considering the issue, Government will also take account of any recommendations on Coillte contained in the Report of Review Group on State Assets and Liabilities, which is currently being finalised.

Departmental Reports

Olivia Mitchell

Ceist:

50 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance if he will clarify the circumstances of the commissioning of a report (details supplied); the actual authors of this report; when it was commissioned and by whom; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5164/11]

The Report of the Independent Review Panel: Strengthening the Capacity of the Department of Finance was commissioned by the Minister of Finance, following his commitment at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Finance and Public Service that a review would be carried out to assess the Department of Finances policy advice and performance over the past 10 years and to make recommendations on how best the Department might adapt to meet the challenges of the future. On 10th September 2010, the Minister announced the composition of the Review Panel and its terms of reference. The members were:

Mr Rob Wright, Chairman, former Secretary General, Department of Finance, Canada

Mr Hans Borstlap, former Director General, Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, Netherlands

Mr John Malone, former Secretary General, Department of Agriculture and Food, Ireland.

Mr Pat McArdle provided support and assistance to the Panel. The Report provides a set of recommendations to modernise management, reform existing organisational structures and increase substantially technical economic and other skills, some of which are matters for consideration by Government. The Report was published on 1 March and is available on the Department's website http://www.finance.gov.ie

Commencement of Legislation

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

51 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance his plans to sign the commencement order bringing section 13 of the Finance Act 2011 into effect. [5174/11]

Section 13 of the Finance Act 2011 provides for income tax relief at the standard rate for expenditure incurred by individuals on a range of works that are carried out to improve the energy efficiency of residential premises situated in the State. Relief will be available for qualifying expenditure of up to a maximum of €10,000 for single individuals, or up to a maximum of €15,000 per qualifying property. The scheme will be operated primarily by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, in conjunction with the Revenue Commissioners. The maximum amount of expenditure that will qualify for relief in any one tax year is €150 million. Relief will be given by way of repayment in the tax year following that in which the work was completed and the expenditure incurred.

Due to the truncated timetable for Finance Bill 2011, it was not possible to consider a number of potential legislative amendments to the scheme. These will be addressed in the next Finance Bill. In addition, the previous Minister made a commitment to publish an Ex-Ante Economic Impact Assessment of the scheme before commencing it via Ministerial order. My officials are currently working on this assessment and it will be published as soon as it has been completed.

Pending the completion of the assessment and the introduction of the legislative changes required in the next Finance Bill, it is not possible to indicate when a Commencement Order bringing section 13 of the Finance Act 2011 into effect will be signed.

Question No. 52 answered with Question No. 45.

Departmental Responsibilities

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

53 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the arrangements that will be in place to assist him in relation to the public expenditure elements of budget preparations. [5198/11]

Ceist:

68 Deputy Michael P. Kitt asked the Minister for Finance the role to be played by the sectoral policy division of his Department in the development of his budgetary policies. [5376/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 53 and 68 together.

As part of the restructuring of Government Departments, the former Sectoral Policy Division of the Department of Finance is transferring into the Department of Public Expenditure & Reform. While the operational and organisational details are now being finalised, the Department of Public Expenditure & Reform will oversee and manage the development of Government expenditure policy, and monitor and supervise the spending undertaken by other Government Departments.

Of course, the development of policy on public expenditure is a major component of overall budgetary strategy, and as such I will be working closely with the Minister for Public Expenditure & Reform, both on an ongoing bilateral basis and in the context of the Government Economic Management Council. Extensive liaison will continue between the officials of our respective Departments, to ensure that the budget process continues to be managed smoothly and efficiently, taking account of this Government's budgetary reform agenda.

Budgetary Process

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

54 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the elements of the budget process which will no longer be under his control. [5199/11]

It is the Government's intention that the Department of Finance will be reconfigured as two departments — a restructured Department of Finance which will, broadly speaking, encompass two of the existing divisions: Budget, Taxation and Economic Division and Financial Services Division, and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform which will also comprise, in broad terms, two existing divisions, one dealing with Public Service Management and Development and the other, Sectoral Policy Division, dealing with public expenditure. The latter Department will have responsibility for Government policy relating to public sector reform. A range of corporate support services will continue to be shared between the two Departments.

The two Departments will be legally separate entities with distinct reporting relationships to each Minister. Legislation is currently being prepared to give effect to this. Both Ministers are full Cabinet Ministers with full Cabinet responsibilities.

As I have indicated previously, I will be working very closely with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, both on an ongoing bilateral basis and in the context of the Government Economic Management Council.

While the operational and organisational details of the transfer of functions are currently being finalised, the development of policy on public expenditure is and will continue to be a major component of overall budgetary strategy. Within the revised configuration, the Budget process itself will remain predominantly under the direction of the Department of Finance, with specific tasks assigned between the two Departments as appropriate.

A high degree of liaison will continue between the officials of our respective Departments to ensure that the budget process continues to be managed smoothly and efficiently, taking account of this Government's budgetary reform agenda.

Financial Institutions Recapitalisation

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

55 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will require the formal consent of another Minister in addition to normal Cabinet clearance for any public funding to be allocated to financial institutions. [5200/11]

The allocation of public funding to financial institutions will follow normal cabinet clearance procedures.

However, the Deputy may also be enquiring about the formal role of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. It is intended that the Minister for Finance will retain responsibility for overall budget, tax and spending parameters while the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform will be responsible for managing public expenditure within the overall envelope set by the Minister for Finance. The transfer of Public Expenditure and Reform functions from the Department/Minister for Finance to the Department/Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform will require primary legislation. The precise functions and responsibilities which are being transferred to the new Department/Minister will be clearly identified in the legislation to ensure that there is a sound legal basis underpinning the new Department and Ministerial responsibilities, as well as providing clarity of roles and responsibilities. The preparation of this legislation is being afforded high priority by the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel and the Bill will be presented to this House at the earliest possible date.

I can assure the Deputy that both the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and I are anxious to ensure that there is a high level of information sharing between the two offices.

Ministerial Staff

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

56 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the arrangements he has put in place for constituency offices within his Department. [5233/11]

Both the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform and I, and our colleague the Minister of State in the Department, are in the process of making arrangements for the staffing of our respective constituency offices. As the Deputy may be aware, the Government recently decided to limit the number of staff in a Minister's constituency office to 4, and the number of staff in a Minister of State's constituency office to 3.

Question No. 57 answered with Question No. 45.

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

58 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Finance the economic and other expertise that will be available to the Minister for public expenditure and reform when taking decisions about public expenditure; if he intends to recruit advisers in this area and if so, the number of same; the qualification level of same; the timescale and procedure for recruitment; and the cost per adviser. [5242/11]

The economic, analytical and other expertise currently within my Department is also available to my colleague, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. In consultation with Minister Howlin, I will keep under review whether specialist expertise and advice may be required in order to supplement current resources. Under Section 11 of the Public Service Management Act, 1997 each Minister may appoint a maximum of 2 Special Advisers. The appointment of Advisers is currently under consideration. Special Advisers are appointed by the Government at the request of a Minister. When appointments have been made, I will be in a position to provide details of the appointees' qualifications and remuneration.

Ministerial Responsibilities

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

59 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Finance if he will retain any role in relation to decisions on tax reliefs on specific policy purposes. [5244/11]

I will retain responsibility, in conjunction with the Government and the Oireachtas, for all tax policy issues.

Question No. 60 answered with Question No. 45.

Tax Code

Niall Collins

Ceist:

61 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Finance where a person is in receipt of proceeds from the compulsory acquisition of farmlands by the National Roads Authority and they subsequently re-invest this money in similar agricultural land, if any capital gains tax liability arises from the initial disposal to the NRA; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5268/11]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a disposal to the National Roads Authority of farmlands under compulsory purchase is within the charge to Capital Gains Tax in the normal way.

Compensation money for any kind of damage or injury to farmlands, such as injurious affection or disturbance, is also included within the charge. This charge is unaffected, under existing legislation, by a subsequent reinvestment of proceeds in similar agricultural land: there is no "roll-over" relief. In the case of a compulsory purchase the chargeable gain is deemed to accrue on the day the compensation is received by the person disposing of the land.

Tax Collection

Jack Wall

Ceist:

62 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will be furnished with a P21 for 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5307/11]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they have written to the person concerned for the necessary details. On receipt a PAYE Balancing Statement (P21) for the year 2010 will issue to the person concerned.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

63 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance if a person (details supplied) can be furnished with a P21 for 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5323/11]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they have written to the person concerned for the necessary details. On receipt, a PAYE Balancing Statement (P21) for the year 2010 will issue to the individual.

National Asset Management Agency

Ciaran Lynch

Ceist:

64 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Finance his views on the difficulties being encountered by house buyers in obtaining a letter of release on property that is National Assets Management Agency owned; the measure that will be taken to speed up the process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5324/11]

NAMA has directed all participating institutions to ensure that all credit applications are forwarded to it within ten business days of being received from debtors. NAMA, in turn, aims to respond to applications within ten business days of receiving them from institutions. Accordingly, in normal circumstances, a debtor credit application should, therefore, be processed within twenty business days of being submitted by the debtor to the institution and, in the case of letters of release, this process would be further expedited.

I understand that the Deputy may be referring to an exceptional case where an issue with the paperwork resulted in a delay in the submission of the credit application by the participating institution to NAMA. NAMA have advised that letters of release would normally be processed more quickly. NAMA will ensure that they put procedures in place to ensure that all letters of release are dealt with in an expedited manner in future.

Tax Code

Ciaran Lynch

Ceist:

65 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Finance if he will confirm that full equal treatment, from the start of this financial year, will be applied in respect of income tax, inheritance tax, gift tax and all other taxation matters in regard to persons entering into relationships under the Civil Partnership Act; when the appropriate legislative provisions regarding taxation will be introduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5368/11]

The position is that legislation to provide the same tax treatment for civil partners as that provided for spouses is currently in preparation. It is intended that the legislation will have effect for the tax year 2011. As the Deputy is aware the shortened timescale for this year's Finance Act meant that it was not possible to include the legislation in that Act but it is intended that the legislation will be put before the House shortly as a Bill or as part of a Finance (No. 2) Bill 2011.

Departmental Expenditure

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

66 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Finance the estimated costs for the jobs fund items listed on page eight of the programme for Government. [5370/11]

The Government is committed to resourcing a Jobs Fund within its first 100 days in the Programme for Government. The details of individual measures, including the Jobs Fund items referred to at page 8 of the Programme for Government, are currently being considered by the Government for the purpose of delivering on this commitment.

Universal Social Charge

Robert Troy

Ceist:

67 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Finance the nature of the review of the universal social charge to be undertaken under the Programme for Government; and the time scale of the review. [5373/11]

There is a commitment in the new Programme for Government to carry out a review of the Universal Social Charge (USC).

The terms of reference of the review have yet to be finalised. However, I expect these to be finalised shortly. I would anticipate that the review will be completed in time for Budget 2012.

Question No. 68 answered with Question No. 53.

Auditing of Accounts

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

69 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Finance if the reference to audited accounts in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles in page 24 of the programme for Government is intended to replace existing auditing procedures; and the extent to which this is intended to mark a departure from past Exchequer practice. [5378/11]

The Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) has a wide audit remit covering the Central government area, Third level education bodies, non-commercial Semi State and Health sector bodies. Commercial State bodies are audited by private sector firms. The accounts of all bodies disclose the basis on which the accounts have been prepared whether cash or accrual. The C&AG conducts his audits in accordance with the most recent update of the International Audit standards including consideration of compliance with the disclosed basis of accounting. Private sector firms follow the same principle of auditing the accounting base in line with international standards.

In this context, the reference to ‘audited accounts in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles' will not impact on the principles underlying the current approach to audit of public bodies.

Departmental Staff

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

70 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Finance the time scale he envisages for the recruitment of an external person to head his Budget and Economic Policy Division. [5379/11]

I wish to inform the Deputy that no decision has been made regarding the timescale for the recruitment of an external person to head the Budget and Economic Policy Division in my Department. However, the matter will be kept under review.

School Placement

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

71 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills when school placement at a school (details supplied) in County Kildare will be offered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4872/11]

The selection and enrolment of pupils in schools is the responsibility of the authorities of the individual school. My Department's main responsibility is to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking school places in an area. However, this may result in some pupils not obtaining a place in the school of their first choice. As schools may not have a place for every applicant, a selection process may be necessary. This selection process and the enrolment policy on which it is based must be non-discriminatory and must be applied fairly in respect of all applicants.

Under section 15(2)(d) of the Education Act, 1998, each school is legally obliged to disclose its enrolment policy and to ensure that as regards that policy that principles of equality and the right of parents to send their children to a school of the parents' choice are respected.

Section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 provides for an appeal by a parent or guardian to the Secretary General of my Department, or in the case of a Vocational Educational Committee (VEC) school to the VEC in the first instance, where a Board of Management of a school, or a person acting on behalf of the Board, refuses to enrol a student in a school. My Department has no authority to compel a school to admit a pupil, except in the case of an appeal under section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 being upheld.

The National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) is the statutory agency which can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child. The NEWB will be able to offer assistance and advice on securing a school placement within the pupil's area. The contact details for the NEWB in your area is NEWB, Block 3, South Dublin County Council, Tallaght Dublin 24, Tel: 01 4635513.

Special Educational Needs

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

72 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will be offered a special needs assistant on a one to one basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4901/11]

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

I have arranged for the details supplied to be forwarded to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply.

All schools have the names and contact details of their local SENO. Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available on www.ncse.ie.

FÁS Training Courses

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

73 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a FÁS course will be arranged in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5047/11]

Responsibility for the administration of individual cases in FÁS are operational matters for the Agency as provided for in the Labour Services Act, 1987 as amended.

Special Educational Needs

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

74 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will support the need for special needs assistants and provide all children with a disability the maximum support in 2011. [5124/11]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

89 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will end the cap on special needs assistants and if he will provide all children with a disability the maximum support in 2011. [5099/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 74 and 89 together.

The Programme for Government clearly states that education will be a priority for this Government and that we will endeavour to protect and enhance the educational experience of children, young people and students. To that end, we will endeavour to protect frontline services in education.

However, the fiscal position is difficult and it is necessary to ensure that educational services are delivered within the resources available. I intend to prioritise and support special educational services. However, I do not intend to re-visit the previous Government's decision to place a cap on the number of whole time equivalent Special Needs Assistant (SNA) posts in schools. This number is 10,575 whole time equivalent (WTE) posts. To put this number in context, there were 10,543 wte posts in place at the end of 2010, 10,342 at end 2009; 10,442 at end 2008 and 9,824 at end 2007. In addition, there are some 60 child care workers in schools.

It is considered that with equitable and careful management and distribution of these resources that there should be sufficient posts to provide access to SNA support for all children who require such care support to attend school, in accordance with Departmental criteria.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. My Department and I will be glad to consider any suggestions from school management or parent representative organisations as to how the allocation of SNA resources can best be managed within the context of the overall limit on SNA numbers established. In this regard I am committed to making whatever improvements are possible to the resource allocation system.

The NCSE has issued a circular to all schools advising of the allocation process for the 2011/2012 school year. A key feature of the amended scheme will be to provide for an annual allocation of Special Needs Assistant support to eligible schools.

Higher Education Grants

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

75 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will support the case of a person (details supplied) regarding a grant. [5149/11]

My Department understands that the candidate in question applied to his grant awarding authority on 27 August 2010 to be assessed for a student grant. My Department also understands that the candidate did not provide the necessary supporting documentation outlined in the student grant schemes relative to his circumstances and that the grant awarding authority has written to him since requesting this.

The Deputy will appreciate that as my Department has a role to play in the student grant appeal process, it cannot become involved with student grants at the assessment of eligibility stage. In the circumstances, my Department's advice to the candidate would be to make arrangements to provide his grant awarding authority with the documentation needed as soon as possible or to make contact with his grant awarding authority if he has any difficulty sourcing this documentation so that a decision can be taken on how to proceed with his application.

School Completion Programme

John McGuinness

Ceist:

76 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills if, in the context of the review of the children at risk fund and the school completion programme, he will ring-fence funding for a centre (details supplied) in County Kilkenny and have that programme examined as a stand-alone project in view of the fact that the centre and what it offers under the CAR funding is recognised as being at the cutting edge of service provision in this area nationally; if his officials will visit the centre; if his Department’s recent report commending the centre on its services and value for money will now be considered in support of the proposal to consider the “Three to University” project as a pilot project. [4859/11]

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 my Department to determine future funding arrangements and possible mainstreaming of appropriate projects. As a result of this evaluation, funding of €133,000 issued to the Project in December 2010 for the 2011 calendar year and a process commenced to integrate the Project with the Kilkenny City School Completion Programme Project as both projects share the same aims and objectives.

The "Three to University" Project covered by this Centre is a 4 Step Programme. Step 1 is an Early Learning Centre which deals with children under six years of age. Step 2 is a Homework Club for Primary School children while Step 3 is a Study Support Programme for Post Primary Children. Finally Step 4 deals with Men's and Women's Groups. Funding provided by my Department for the current year is in respect of Steps 2 and 3 of this Project.

I am pleased to inform you that a member of the National Coordination Team for the School Completion Programme has met with the Project in question and Kilkenny School Completion Programme regarding integration of both Projects. Agreed arrangements are now in place for the integration of the project with Kilkenny School Completion Programme from September 2011.

Redundancy Payments

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

77 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Education and Skills when redundancy payment will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4860/11]

I can confirm that an application for redundancy has been received by my Department from the person referred to by the Deputy.

Applications for redundancy are being received on an ongoing basis and are processed in date order of receipt. The application in question will be dealt with as soon as possible.

Schools Refurbishment

Dan Neville

Ceist:

78 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views regarding a school (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4861/11]

I understand 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 being processed in my Department, as outlined in the Circular governing the operation of the Scheme, and the school authority will be notified of the decision on the application shortly.

Local Employment Services

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

79 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills when placement will be offered to attend a course in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4862/11]

The individual to which you refer is a client of the Local Employment Service. I understand that he was to get back in contact with his Local Employment Services Officer in relation to the Sports Management course he is interested in pursuing, but to date he has not done so.

I have been informed that he has not as yet made an application for this course and should he wish to do so he should contact his Local Employment Services Officer.

Special Educational Needs

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

80 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a special needs teacher will be provided in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Sligo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4863/11]

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

I have arranged for the details supplied to be forwarded to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply.

All schools have the names and contact details of their local SENO. Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available on www.ncse.ie.

Schools Building Projects

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

81 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if provision will be made for a second level Educate Together school (details supplied) in Celbridge, County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4864/11]

My Department has recently announced plans to open at least 13 new post-primary schools over the next five years in the following locations — Gorey, Doughiska (Galway), Lucan (Clonburris), Kingscourt, Ashbourne, Mulhuddart, Blanchardstown West, Drogheda, Claregalway, Maynooth, Naas, Navan and North County Dublin/South County Louth.

The Forward Planning Section of my Department is currently examining all areas of the country to determine where additional provision will be required at both primary and post primary level up to 2017. Overall post-primary requirements in the Celbridge area will be fully considered in this context.

The Programme for Government gives a commitment to move towards a more pluralist system of patronage at second level, recognising a wider number of patrons. It is my intention to prioritise this policy in the weeks and months ahead.

Higher Education Grants

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

82 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a third level education grant will be awarded to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4865/11]

The responsibility for deciding on eligibility for a student grant is a matter for the relevant grant awarding authority, in this case Kildare VEC. My Department understands that the student in question was awarded a grant on 19 January last.

School Management

Ciaran Lynch

Ceist:

83 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Education and Skills the procedure open to a parent who wishes to challenge a management decision made by the principal of a primary school in regard to an operational matter; the formal complaint procedures available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4998/11]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the 1998 Education Act provides the legal framework for the delivery of education to children through recognised schools. All recognised schools are legally owned by the school patrons or trustees; and managed by a school's Board of Management which is also the employer of teachers in a school.

Currently, parents wishing to challenge a management decision made by a principal of the primary school should contact the school's board of management. If a parent wishes to make a complaint against a teacher or school they should contact the relevant school authorities. The complaint procedures adopted by most schools are those that have been agreed between the teacher unions and school management bodies. The details of these procedures for primary schools are set out below.

While the Minister for Education and Skills provides funding and policy direction for schools, neither I nor officials of my Department have powers to investigate individual complaints, except where the complaint involves a refused enrolment, expulsion or suspension, in accordance with Section 29 of the 1998 Education Act.

Section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 provides for an appeal by a parent or guardian to the Secretary General of my Department, or in the case of a Vocational Educational Committee (VEC) school to the VEC in the first instance, where a Board of Management of a school, or a person acting on behalf of the Board, refuses to enrol a student in a school, expels a student or suspends a student for 20 or more days in any school year.

The Office of the Ombudsman for Children may independently investigate complaints about schools recognised with the Department of Education and Skills, provided the parent has firstly and fully followed the school's complaints procedures. The key criterion for any intervention by the Ombudsman for Children is that the action of the school has had a negative affect on a child. The office can be contacted at Ombudsman for Children's Office, Millennium House, 52-56 Great Strand Street, Dublin1, (Ph) 1800 20 20 40 or (01) 8656800, E-mail oco@oco.ie.

Further guidance to parents on progressing a concern in relation their child's school is available on the Guide to Services Page of my Department's website at www.education.ie

INTO/CPMSA Complaints Procedure Guidelines for Primary Schools.

INTO / CPSMA COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE

The Irish National Teachers' Organisation and the Catholic Primary School Managers' Association reached agreement in 1993 on a procedure for dealing with complaints by parents against teachers. The purpose of the procedure is to facilitate the resolution of difficulties where they may arise in an agreed and fair manner. The agreement lays out in five stages the process to be followed in progressing a complaint and the specific timescale to be followed at each stage.

Introduction

Only those complaints about teachers which are written and signed by parents/guardians of pupils may be investigated formally by the Board of Management, except where those complaints are deemed by the Board to be:

(i) on matters of professional competence and which are to be referred to the Department of Education;

(ii) frivolous or vexations complaints and complaints which do not impinge on the work of a teacher in a school; or

(iii) complaints in which either party has recourse to law or to another existing procedure.

Unwritten complaints not in the above categories may be processed informally as set out in Stage 1 of this procedure.

Stage 1

1.1 A parent/guardian who wishes to make a complaint should, unless there are local arrangements to the contrary, approach the class teacher with a view to resolving the complaint.

1.2 Where the parent/guardian is unable to resolve the complaint with the class teacher she/he should approach the Principal with a view to resolving it.

1.3 If the complaint is still unresolved the parent/guardian should raise the matter with the Chairperson of the Board of Management with a view to resolving it.

Stage 2

2.1 If the complaint is still unresolved and the parent/guardian wishes to pursue the matter further she/he should lodge the complaint in writing with the Chairperson of the Board of Management.

2.2 The Chairperson should bring the precise nature of the written complaint to the notice of the teacher and seek to resolve the matter between the parties within 5 days of receipt of the written complaint.

Stage 3

3.1 If the complaint is not resolved informally, the Chairperson should, subject to the general authorisation of the Board and except in those cases where the Chairperson deems the particular authorisation of the Board to be required:

(a) supply the teacher with a copy of the written complaint; and

(b) arrange a meeting with the teacher and, where applicable, the Principal Teacher with a view to resolving the complaint. Such a meeting should take place within 10 days of receipt of the written complaint.

Stage 4

4.1 If the complaint is still not resolved the Chairperson should make a formal report to the Board within 10 days of the meeting referred to in 3.1(b).

4.2 If the Board considers that the complaint is not substantiated the teacher and the complaint should be so informed within three days of the Board meeting.

4.3 If the Board considers that the complaint is substantiated or that it warrants further investigation it proceeds as follows:

(a) the teacher should be informed that the investigation is proceeding to the next stage;

(b) the teacher should be supplied with a copy of any written evidence in support of the complaint;

(c) the teacher should be requested to supply a written statement to the Board in response to the complaint;

(d) the teacher should be afforded an opportunity to make a presentation of case to the Board. The teacher would be entitled to be accompanied and assisted by a friend at any such meeting;

(e) the board may arrange a meeting with the complainant if it considers such to be required. The complainant would be entitled to be accompanied and assisted by a friend at any such meeting; and

(f) the meeting of the Board of Management referred to in (d) and (e) will take place within 10 days of the meeting referred to in 3.1(b).

Stage 5

5.1 When the Board has completed its investigation, the Chairperson should convey the decision of the Board in writing to the teacher and the complainant within five days of the meeting of the Board.

5.2 The decision of the Board shall be final.

5.3 This Complaints Procedure shall be reviewed after three years.

5.4 CPSMA or INTO may withdraw from this agreement having given the other party three months' notice of intention to do so.

In this agreement ‘days' means schools days.

Higher Education Grants

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

84 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will reverse the cuts to third level grants, the impact of which will force thousands of students out of college. [5005/11]

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

95 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will reverse recent changes to distance criteria for third level students availing of grant aid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5168/11]

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

101 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will reverse the proposed changes in budget 2011 relating to third level student grant schemes. [5182/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 84, 95 and 101 together.

I understand that the changes to the student grant schemes introduced under Budget 2011 were designed to manage additional cost pressures arising from a significant increase in the number of students qualifying for grants, a proportionate increase in the number of students qualifying for higher rates of grants and payment of the Student Service Charge on behalf of grant-holders.

The Deputies will appreciate that the current economic circumstances of the country are such that I am not in a position to reverse these changes at this time.

However, I do understand the fears and concerns of students in this regard and I will take account of these in considering any future changes as part of the budgetary process for 2012 and beyond, having regard to the position of the public finances.

School Accommodation

Niall Collins

Ceist:

85 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application for funding by a school (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5074/11]

I can confirm that the school to which the Deputy refers has recently applied to my Department seeking funding to provide additional accommodation.

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.

EU Funding

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

86 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding employees of a former company (details supplied) availing of the European Globalisation Fund. [5091/11]

I can confirm that my Department has received an application for major capital funding from the school to which the Deputy refers. The application has been assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria for large scale building projects and assigned a band rating of 2.1.

Information in respect of the current school building programme along with all assessed applications for major capital works, including the project referred to by the Deputy, is available on my Department's website at www.education.ie.

The priority attaching to individual projects is determined by published prioritisation criteria, which were formulated following consultation with the Education Partners. There are four band ratings under these criteria, each of which describes the extent of accommodation required and the urgency attaching to it. Band 1 is the highest priority rating and Band 4 is the lowest. Documents explaining the band rating system are also available on my Department's website.

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

In the meantime I wish to advise the Deputy that approval was given towards an all-in devolved grant in the amount of €100,000 in June 2009 to provide an additional 80m2 mainstream classroom. In addition a further grant of €152,394.00 was sanctioned in June 2010 to renovate two classrooms at the school.

Also in June 2010, a grant of €25,078 was sanctioned for security works under emergency works funding. In addition the school was granted €50,981.04 under the Summer Works Scheme in 2006 for a mechanical upgrade and €81,279.90 under the Summer Works Scheme in 2010 for roof works.

Schools Building Projects

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

87 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a school (details supplied) in County Kerry which was promised a new school in 2007, will be included in the next capital programme for school buildings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5092/11]

I can confirm that my Department has received an application for major capital funding from the school to which the Deputy refers. The application has been assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria for large scale building projects and assigned a band rating of 2.1.

Information in respect of the current school building programme along with all assessed applications for major capital works, including the project referred to by the Deputy, is available on my Department's website at www.education.ie.

The priority attaching to individual projects is determined by published prioritisation criteria, which were formulated following consultation with the Education Partners. There are four band ratings under these criteria, each of which describes the extent of accommodation required and the urgency attaching to it. Band 1 is the highest priority rating and Band 4 is the lowest. Documents explaining the band rating system are also available on my Department's website.

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

In the meantime I wish to advise the Deputy that approval was given towards an all-in devolved grant in the amount of €100,000 in June 2009 to provide an additional 80m2 mainstream classroom. In addition a further grant of €152,394.00 was sanctioned in June 2010 to renovate two classrooms at the school.

Also in June 2010, a grant of €25,078 was sanctioned for security works under emergency works funding. In addition the school was granted €50,981.04 under the Summer Works Scheme in 2006 for a mechanical upgrade and €81,279.90 under the Summer Works Scheme in 2010 for roof works.

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

88 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the commitment for a new building in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Kerry will be kept; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5093/11]

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.

Question No. 89 answered with Question No. 74.

School Accommodation

Niall Collins

Ceist:

90 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a grant application in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5106/11]

I can confirm that the school to which the Deputy refers has recently applied to my Department seeking funding to provide additional accommodation.

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.

Physical Education Facilities

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

91 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a lease in respect of a club (details supplied). [5135/11]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the Chief State Solicitor's Office have advised my Department that they recently forwarded a draft lease in relation to the former Greendale Community School Campus including the sports hall facility to the solicitors acting for the City of Dublin VEC. Pending execution of the lease, the VEC has been requested to make further contact with the club referred to by the Deputy with a view to drawing-up a side agreement between the VEC as landlord and the club as tenants to regularise the club's current and future access to the sports hall facility.

Schools Building Projects

Noel Coonan

Ceist:

92 Deputy Noel Coonan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application for building works in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Tipperary; when a decision will issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5150/11]

The tender process for the appointment of a Design team on the school building project referred to by the Deputy is coming to a close. The tender process has been conducted by the schools Board of management with support and assistance from my Department.

Notifications to the successful and unsuccessful candidates are expected to be issued shortly by the Board of Management. Following which, and subject to no issues arising, appointment of the Design team will be completed and the process of Architectural Planning will commence.

Schools Refurbishment

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

93 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a school (details supplied) in County Kerry will qualify for funding under the summer works scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5166/11]

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

96 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a school (details supplied) in County Kerry will qualify for funding under the summer works scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5169/11]

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

97 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a school (details supplied) in County Kerry will qualify for funding under the summer works scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5170/11]

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

98 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a school (details supplied) in County Kerry will qualify for funding under the summer works scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5171/11]

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

99 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a school (details supplied) in County Kerry will qualify for funding under the summer works scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5172/11]

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

100 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a school (details supplied) in County Kerry will qualify for funding under the summer works scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5173/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 93 and 96 to 100, inclusive, together.

I understand that the schools referred to by the Deputy have submitted applications for the works in question under the 2011 Summer Works Scheme. Applications for funding under the scheme are being processed in my Department, as outlined in the Circular governing the operation of the Scheme, and the school authorities in question will be notified of the decisions on their applications shortly.

School Transport

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

94 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will reverse changes to the school transport system announced in budget 2011 that will affect eligibility for school transport for students of schools in areas where amalgamations of schools have taken place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5167/11]

Given the major financial constraints facing the country, it is not my intention at this stage to reverse the changes to school transport as announced in Budget 2011.

Question No. 95 answered with Question No. 84.
Questions Nos. 96 to 100, inclusive, answered with Question No. 93.
Question No. 101 answered with Question No. 84.

Schools Recognition

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

102 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to provide stand-alone status to an educational institution (details supplied) in County Cork. [5183/11]

I have no plans to provide stand-alone status to the educational institution referred to by the Deputy.

By way of background, the institution is operated as a Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) centre by the VEC. Its recognition as a stand-alone PLC centre would require additional financial and staffing resources in terms of teacher allocations and management structure, including Principal, Deputy Principal and posts of responsibility. In the context of the current budgetary situation, the moratorium on public sector recruitment and the Employment Control Framework it would be very difficult to provide these additional resources.

In addition, generally in order to qualify for consideration for stand alone status, an approved allocation of at least 500 approved PLC places is required. County Cork VEC has been allocated a total 1,334 approved PLC places for the 2010/2011 academic year and further distribution of those places to PLC centres under its remit is a matter for the VEC. Information from the 'October Returns' indicates that total 2010/2011 PLC enrolment in County Cork VEC is 1,611 and total PLC enrolment in the centre referred to is 502 learners.

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

103 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to provide stand-alone status to an educational institution (details supplied) in County Cork. [5184/11]

This issue is currently the subject of correspondence between the acting CEO of County Cork Vocational Education Committee (VEC), which is responsible for the educational institution referred to by the Deputy, and my Department.

By way of background, the institution is operated as a Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) centre by the VEC. Its recognition as a stand-alone PLC centre would require additional financial and staffing resources in terms of teacher allocations and management structure, including Principal, Deputy Principal and posts of responsibility. In the context of the current budgetary situation, the moratorium on public sector recruitment and the Employment Control Framework it would be very difficult to provide these additional resources.

In addition, generally in order to qualify for consideration for stand alone status, an approved allocation of at least 500 approved PLC places is required. County Cork VEC has been allocated a total 1,334 approved PLC places for the 2010/2011 academic year and further distribution of those places to PLC centres under its remit is a matter for the VEC. Information from the 2010/2011 'October Returns' indicates that total PLC enrolment in County Cork VEC is 1,611 and total PLC enrolment in the centre referred to is 277 learners.

Ministerial Staff

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

104 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the arrangements he has put in place for constituency offices within his Department. [5230/11]

At a Government meeting held on 15 March 2011 it was decided to reduce the number of staff permitted at Ministers' constituency offices from 6 to 4 and Ministers of State's constituency offices from 5 to 3.

The staffing of these offices at my Department will be in accordance with these reduced parameters.

Ministerial Responsibilities

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

105 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Education and Skills the specific powers he intends to delegate to Ministers of State in his Department. [5249/11]

Mr Ciarán Cannon T.D. has been appointed Minister of State in my Department and will have responsibility for the areas of skills and training, further education, educational disadvantage and school transport. Mr Seán Sherlock T.D. has also been assigned to my Department and will have responsibility for oversight of the implementation of the specific range of commitments in the Strategy for Science Technology and Innovation that come under the responsibility of the Minister for Education and Skills. This will include oversight of the research funding programmes under the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS) and Irish Research Council for Science and Technology (IRCSET). In exercising these delegated functions, the Ministers of State will have regard to the overall responsibilities of the Minister for Education and Skills in relation to the wider policy and budgetary framework, and the determination of priorities within that, for the Department of Education and Skills.

Coistí Gairmoideachais

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

106 D’fhiafraigh Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Oideachais agus Scileanna cén polasaí atá ag an Roinn Oideachais lena chinntiú go mbeidh Gaeilge ag na príomhfheidhmeannaigh ar na coistí gairmoideachais a bheidh ar an nGaeltacht; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [5298/11]

Is mian liom a chur in iúl don Teachta gurb í an tSeirbhís um Cheapacháin Phoiblí a leagann amach na cáilíochtaí atá riachtanach chun Príomhfheidhmeannach buan a cheapadh ar Choiste Gairmoideachais (CGO). I measc na gcáilíochtaí sin tá riachtanas go mbeadh Gaeilge agus Béarla araon ag iarrthóir. Cruthaítear go bhfuil Gaeilge ag iarrthóir trí bhéaltriail inniúlachta a chur ar an iarrthóir agus éilítear marc pas de 65% chun go mbeadh iarrthóir intofa dona c(h)eapadh. Tá feidhm ag an riachtanas seo i gcás ceapachán Príomhfheidhmeannach buan insna CGOanna go léir, ní insna CGOanna amháin sin a bhfuil Gaelcholáistí iontu nó insna CGOanna amháin a chuimsíonn ceantair Gaeltachta.

School Provision

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

107 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps he will take to address the shortage of gaelscoil places; and if he will approve funding for a new gaelscoil to meet the high level of demand in Dublin 12. [5331/11]

You will appreciate that at present new schools are only being opened where there is a demographic demand for them. Based on demographics it would appear that a new school is not required in the Dublin 12 area. The demand for such new schools therefore arises out of the desire for further choice of educational provision by parents in the area. Providing for such diversity of provision is one of the issues that we need to address in primary education.

The Programme for Government contains a committment to hold a time limited Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary Sector to enable all stakeholders including parents to engage in open debate on change of patronage in communities where it is appropriate and necessary.

This is also one of the topics raised in a review of the procedures for the establishment of new primary schools undertaken by the Commission on School Accommodation. The Commission's report is finalised and is to be published in the near future. My Department will now need to consider the issues raised in that report.

Schools Building Projects

John McGuinness

Ceist:

108 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress made regarding an application under the emergency works grant scheme in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if he will expedite the matter. [5333/11]

An application under the Emergency Works Scheme was received from the school mentioned by the Deputy. The works included new traffic management measures and a new playground.

The purpose of the Emergency Works Scheme is solely for unforeseen emergencies or to provide funding to facilitate inclusion and access for special needs pupils. An emergency is deemed to be a situation which poses an immediate risk to health, life, property or the environment, which is sudden, unforeseen and requires immediate action and in the case of a school, if not corrected would prevent the school or part thereof from opening.

As the scope of works for this project is outside the terms of the Emergency Works Scheme, the school has been informed that it cannot be considered for emergency funding.

Schools Refurbishment

Michael Creed

Ceist:

109 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a school (details supplied) in County Cork will receive assistance under the summer works scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5430/11]

Michael Creed

Ceist:

110 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a school (details supplied) in County Cork will receive assistance under the summer works scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5433/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 109 and 110 together.

I understand that the schools referred to by the Deputy have submitted applications for the works in question under the 2011 Summer Works Scheme. Applications for funding under the scheme are being processed in my Department, as outlined in the Circular governing the operation of the Scheme, and the school authorities in question will be notified of the decisions on their applications shortly.

Physical Education Facilities

Michael Creed

Ceist:

111 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Education and Skills the supports that are available for a Gaeltacht school that wishes to develop a new playing pitch; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5437/11]

All schools are eligible to submit an application for major capital funding for sporting facilities to my Department. Any application received will be assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria for large scale building projects. However, in light of the many demands on the capital budget of my Department, it is unlikely that a high priority will be assigned to such an application.

The published prioritisation criteria were formulated following consultation with the Education Partners. There are four band ratings under these criteria, each of which describes the extent of accommodation required and the urgency attaching to it. Band 1 is the highest priority rating and Band 4 is the lowest. Documents explaining the band rating system are available on the Department's website, www.education.ie.

My Department also operates the Summer Works Scheme under which necessary small-scale works to improve the integrity of buildings and their external environment that, ideally, can be delivered during the summer months are eligible for funding.

Special Educational Needs

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

112 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding education in respect of a person (details supplied). [5442/11]

An application to retain this child in school for an extra year has been made by the child's parents directly to the Department of Education and Skills. My Department has advised Special Schools that it will consider requests from schools who wish to retain students who are over 18 years of age, for an extra school year, in circumstances where they are following courses leading to accreditation at a level of FETAC 3 or above. It is open to the parents of the pupil in question to raise the issue of extension of enrolment directly with the school authorities.

The Department will liaise with the school concerned regarding this matter and this application will be considered in the context of the Department's policy in this regard, as set out above.

Enterprise Support Services

Billy Timmins

Ceist:

113 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the assistance available to a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5062/11]

Billy Timmins

Ceist:

118 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the assistance available to a person (details supplied) setting up a new business; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5012/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 113 and 118 together.

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation does not provide direct funding or grants to businesses but provides funding to a number of State Agencies, including the County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) and Enterprise Ireland, through whom assistance is delivered directly to businesses. The CEB's unique role positions them as a first point of contact for persons wishing to set up in business.

I would advise the promoter to contact their local CEB; the Wicklow County Enterprise Board in the first instance to discuss what options may be available to them and their proposed business venture. The Board is located at the Wicklow County Campus, Clermont House, Rathnew, Co. Wicklow; Phone No: 0404 30800, Fax No: 0404 30899: Email: enterprise@wicklowceb.ie; Website: www.wicklowceb.ie

To be eligible for CEB grant support an enterprise must be in the commercial sphere, must demonstrate a market for the proposed product/service, must have a capacity for growth and new job creation and must not employ more than 10 people. CEBs can provide both financial and non-financial assistance to a project promoter. The forms of financial assistance, which are available, subject to certain restrictions and conditions, include Priming Grants, Business Expansion/Development Grants, and Feasibility/Innovation Study Grants. The CEBs give priority to enterprises in the manufacturing or internationally traded services sector and must always give consideration to any potential for deadweight and displacement arising from a proposed enterprise.

In addition, the CEBs deliver a range of non-financial supports to improve management capability development within micro-enterprises designed to help new and existing enterprises to operate effectively and efficiently so as to last and grow.

Ministerial Staff

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

114 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the arrangements he has put in place for constituency offices within his Department. [5231/11]

The arrangements for constituency offices within my Department are not fully in place but I can assure the Deputy that they will be in accordance with the new arrangements for Ministers' constituency offices announced by the Government on 15 March 2011.

Ministerial Responsibilities

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

115 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the specific powers he intends to delegate to Ministers of State in his Department. [5250/11]

The Government has assigned two Ministers of State to assist me in the performance of my functions as Minister for Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation. Mr. John Perry, T.D., has been assigned responsibility for the Small Business portfolio, while Mr. Sean Sherlock, T.D., has been assigned responsibility for Research and Innovation.

The detailed range of duties and associated legislative provisions that will accompany each portfolio are currently being finalised within the Department. The aim is to have the necessary Delegation of Functions Orders drafted and presented to Government for approval in early April. A notice will be published in Iris Oifigiúil once the Orders have been made by the Government.

Enterprise Support Services

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

116 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the position regarding funding in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 13; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5362/11]

The Department does not provide direct funding or grants to businesses but rather provides funding to a number of State Agencies, including the County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) and Enterprise Ireland, through whom financial and/or non-financial assistance is delivered directly to businesses. The role of the CEBs is to develop indigenous potential and stimulate economic activity at a local level primarily through the provision of financial and technical support for the development of small and micro-enterprises. The Boards form a nationwide support network for small business.

The CEB's unique role positions them as a first point of contact for persons wishing to set up in business. The promoter should therefore in the first instance contact their relevant local CEB to discuss what options may be available to them and their proposed business venture. Contact details for each individual Board can be obtained through the CEBs' national website address at www.enterpriseboards.ie.

To be eligible for CEB financial (grant) support an enterprise must be in the commercial sphere, must demonstrate a market for the proposed product/service, must have a capacity for growth and new job creation and must not employ more than 10 people. The forms of financial assistance, which are available from the CEBs, subject to certain restrictions and conditions, include Priming Grants, Business Expansion/Development Grants, and Feasibility/Innovation Study Grants.

The Boards are required to give priority to enterprises in the manufacturing or internationally traded services sector, which over time can develop into strong export entities and graduate to the Enterprise Ireland portfolio. It is considered inappropriate to support other areas such as retail enterprises, personal services (e.g. hairdressers, gardeners, etc), professional services (accountants, solicitors, etc) lacking export potential, construction, etc, as it is considered that these generally give rise to unacceptable deadweight (where projects would have proceeded anyway) and/or displacement (where the projects simply displace business from other players in the market) concerns. Decisions on individual applications for assistance from the CEBs are made independently by the relevant Board, subject to eligibility criteria, on the advice of their evaluation committee.

Not all projects will be eligible for financial assistance, however, even where this is the case, a project promoter may wish to engage with their local CEB as, in addition to financial assistance, the CEBs deliver non-financial supports such as one-to-one mentoring and a range of training programmes to improve management capability development within micro-enterprises designed to help new and existing enterprises to operate effectively and efficiently so as to last and grow, which may be available as appropriate to the needs of the promoter's business.

Intellectual Property Policy

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

117 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the steps taken in recent years concerning the development of national policies relating to intellectual property; and the nature of any proposals currently under consideration or likely to be reported on during 2011. [5371/11]

The Innovation Taskforce Report, and a Review of Existing IP Supports which was commissioned by my Department and Forfas and published last summer, both called for a clear and consistent national policy for the ownership of and access to State supported IP, to enable entrepreneurs and enterprises engage in the optimal exploitation of R&D.

Ireland's IP policies and guidelines are in line with international practice. However, by enhancing these policies and supports, in line with the recommendations in the above reports, we can maximise the opportunities for commercialisation of State supported IP and give Ireland a competitive advantage over many other countries, as an attractiveplace in which to undertake innovative activity.

The implementation of the recommendations of these reports is a priority for my Department. Last June, an Intellectual Property Implementation Group under the Chairmanship of Mr. Jim Mountjoy and comprising technology transfer practitioners and industry representatives from various sectors, was established to drive the implementation of these recommendations. This Group is currently working to develop proposals for a clear and consistent system to maximise the opportunities for industry and entrepreneurs to commercialise intellectual property created in Ireland's third level institutions.

In tandem with the development of these proposals, an IP Policy Group, chaired by my Department and comprising representatives from key research funding agencies, is currently developing and clarifying existing IP policies. The development of a clear intellectual property policy will help Ireland support the commercialisation of Irish research and development and so maximise the return on public investment.

The work of both Groups is expected to be completed in summer 2011.

In the area of patents, my Department continues to make it easier for enterprises to patent their innovations. I expect to introduce an amendment to the Patents Act to the Oireachtas shortly, with a view to lowering the current high translation costs for patents. Additionally, after recently consulting stakeholders in a review of the 1992 Patents Act, several reforms of the patenting process are under consideration and will be explored in a Regulatory Impact Assessment in 2011. At EU level, Ireland is actively participating in the enhanced cooperation process for a unitary patent that will further reduce translation requirements and costs for Irish innovators wishing to protect their patents across Europe.

Proposals to make a technical amendment to the Trade Marks Act, 1996, to enable Ireland to accede to the Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks, are under consideration.

We also expect, during the year, to review our domestic application of copyright legislation to see if there are any changes we can make in terms of further flexibilities, within the existing EU framework.

Question No. 118 answered with Question No. 113.

Social Welfare Benefits

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

119 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection when rent support will be reinstated in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4896/11]

The Health Service Executive has advised that payment of rent supplement to the person concerned is currently under review. The Executive further advised that the person concerned was requested to provide further information in relation to her employment on 28 January 2011 and that this has not been provided to date. A decision will be made on her future entitlement to rent supplement when the information has been provided.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

120 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection when rent allowance will be awarded in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4902/11]

The Health Service Executive has advised that the person concerned was refused rent supplement on the 24 January 2011 as her income was deemed sufficient to meet her household needs.

Redundancy Payments

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

121 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding the payment of statutory lump sum redundancy in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [5040/11]

On 1 January 2011, my 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 wish to advise the Deputy that there is no record of a valid redundancy claim on the Redundancy Payments System in respect of the individual in question. It is normal practice not to enter incomplete claims on the system as these claims cannot be processed until the necessary documentation is submitted. Forms are returned in order for missing details and/or supporting documentation to be submitted. Submission of correctly completed redundancy claim forms (RP50s) with all of the required documentation greatly facilitates the processing of claims.

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

122 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding the payment of a redundancy rebate in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [5105/11]

On 1 January 2011, the Department of Social Protection assumed responsibility from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation for administering the redundancy payments scheme.

The position in relation to this matter is that the company in question sought a redundancy rebate in respect of an employee of the company. This request was received in April 2009. Following failure by the company to respond to requests from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation to confirm that statutory redundancy had been paid to the employee concerned, payment issued on behalf of the employer to the employee from the Social Insurance Fund (SIF). In such cases, the employer is liable for 40% of the payment.

Subsequently, following contact from the Employment Appeals Tribunal regarding an application from the employee for a declaration of redundancy, the company paid the employee his entitlements. This resulted in the employee being paid twice in respect of the same redundancy. The redundancy rebate, however, is due only in respect of one payment.

In the interim, the company had agreed with the Revenue Commissioners that it would agree to pay outstanding tax monies from the redundancy rebate it was owed. This offset arrangement was facilitated in this case and the money, less the 40% liability in respect of the payment to the employee, was paid directly to the Revenue Commissioners from the SIF.

The issue of the double payment is a matter for the company to resolve with its former employee and the Department has no further function in the matter.

Niall Collins

Ceist:

123 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding redundancy payment in respect of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5107/11]

On 1 January 2011, my 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 7 March, 2011 and is pending processing.

Social Welfare Benefits

Niall Collins

Ceist:

124 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for domiciliary care allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5108/11]

An application for domiciliary care allowance was received on the 29th June 2010. This application was referred to one of the Department's Medical Assessors who found that the child was not medically eligible for the allowance. A letter issued on the 9th September 2010 advising of the decision.

Redundancy Payments

Jack Wall

Ceist:

125 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection the options available to a person who has been made redundant who cannot get their former employer to complete a RP 50 redundancy form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5305/11]

On 1 January 2011, the Department of Social Protection assumed responsibility for making redundancy payments from the Social Insurance Fund.

It is up to the employer in the first instance to make statutory redundancy payments to all eligible employees. If an employer is unable to make these payments, employees may claim from the Social Insurance Fund. In order to do this the employer must sign an RP50 form and submit certain financial documentation to the Redundancy Payments section of my Department. If the employer refuses to sign this form or submit the necessary documentation then the employee may take a case to the Employment Appeals Tribunal against his/her former employer by completing a Form T1(a) and submitting it to the Department of Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation, EAT Section.

Social Welfare Benefits

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

126 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection when jobseeker’s payment will be awarded in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4906/11]

The person concerned has been awarded jobseeker's allowance from 10th February 2011.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

127 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for jobseeker’s allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4910/11]

A decision will be made in this case within the next two weeks and the person concerned will be notified of the outcome.

Social Welfare Appeals

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

128 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection when a review of an application for jobseeker’s allowance will be undertaken in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4921/11]

Mr. Sanko applied for jobseeker's allowance on 18 December 2008. A decision was issued on 4 January 2010 stating that Mr. Sanko was not entitled to jobseeker's allowance on the grounds that he was not habitually resident in the State.

Mr. Sanko appealed this decision on 19 January 2010. The Appeals Office wrote to Mr. Sanko on 10 January 2011 stating the original decision had been upheld and the appeal has been disallowed.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

129 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection when a review of an application for jobseeker’s allowance will be undertaken in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4922/11]

Ms. Asiedu applied for jobseeker's allowance on 18 December 2008. A decision was issued on 5 January 2010 stating that Ms. Asiedu was not entitled to jobseeker's allowance on the grounds that she was not habitually resident in the State.

Ms. Asiedu appealed this decision on 21 January 2010. On 11 January 2011, the Appeals Office wrote to Ms. Asiedu stating that the original decision had been upheld and the appeal was disallowed.

Ms. Asiedu wrote to the Appeals Office on 12 January 2011 looking for a review of the decision. On 1 March 2011, the Appeals Office wrote stating that as no new facts or evidence was submitted which would warrant a revision of the decision; the Appeals Officer is satisfied that the decision should stand.

Social Welfare Benefits

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

130 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the rate of jobseeker’s allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4926/11]

The person concerned was awarded jobseeker's allowance at the weekly rate of €14.80. This consisted of a personal rate of €188.00 plus €124.80 qualified adult allowance less weekly means of €298.00 in respect of his partner's earnings.

The jobseeker's allowance claim is currently suspended as he is attending a FÁS course.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

131 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection when jobseeker’s allowance will be awarded in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4927/11]

The person concerned will be contacted by an inspector within the next two weeks to finalise an assessment of his means. He will be notified of the outcome as soon as possible.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

132 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason spouses of those who receive disability allowance who are not in receipt of a payment in their own right cannot avail of community employment places as is the case for all other social welfare payment recipients whose spouse can avail of the offer of a community employment scheme placement; if this is discriminatory; and her views on same. [4928/11]

An unemployed person who qualifies for the Community Employment (CE) programme under dependant Allowance, Jobseekers Benefit or Farm Assist but who does not wish to join CE, may be able to transfer eligibility to his/her spouse. In this regard, qualified adult dependants of eligible persons aged 25 and over, may avail of the Spousal Swap option. This involves the person and their dependant exchanging places, the dependant inheriting the age and entitlements of the eligible person, and ensuring that no losses are incurred in their relative entitlements as a result of this exchange.

As the eligibility criteria for Community Employment are currently implemented, the position for Spousal Swaps for those in receipt of Jobseekers Allowance, Jobseekers Benefit or Farm Assist differ from Disability Allowance given the intrinsic link between the disability payments and the claimant. It is also unlikely that any financial advantage would result to a claimant in receipt of Disability Allowance as the earnings disregard would not be applied to their spouse's income given that the rehabilitative nature of the employment can only apply to the claimant.

Social Welfare Appeals

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

133 Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection her plans regarding reducing the length of time it takes to have an appeal heard at an oral hearing by the social welfare appeals office; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4947/11]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that the average waiting for an appeal dealt with by way of a summary decision is 27.4 weeks, while the average time to process an oral hearing is 45.6 weeks. These processing times are calculated from the registration date of the appeal to the date of its finalisation and include all activities during this period including:

time spent in the Department for comments by the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal put forward by the appellant,

any further investigation by the Department's Inspectors,

any further examination or assessment by the Department's Medical Assessors that is deemed necessary.

A considerable period of time is added to the process when an oral hearing is required because of the logistics involved in this process. The annual intake of appeals has increased from 14,070 in 2007 to 32,432 in 2010, an increase of 18,362 (130.5%).

A number of initiatives have been taken in recent years to deal with backlogs in the Social Welfare Appeals process which have occurred as a result of these increases. 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. As a result, 8 of these Officers have been employed since July of last year giving the equivalent of 3 full time staff. An additional 9 Appeals Officers have now been assigned to the Office and these will be taking up duty in early April.

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 way of oral hearing was reduced from 59% in 2009 to 31.5% in 2010

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.

Social Welfare Benefits

Jack Wall

Ceist:

134 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application to transfer rent supplement in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5110/11]

The Health Service Executive has advised that payment of rent supplement ceased as the person concerned moved address. If the person concerned wishes to make an application for rent supplement in respect of her new address then she should contact the Executive.

Redundancy Payments

Noel Coonan

Ceist:

135 Deputy Noel Coonan asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a redundancy application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; when payment will issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5116/11]

On 1 January 2011, the Department of Social Protection 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 13 December 2010 and is pending processing.

Social Welfare Benefits

James Bannon

Ceist:

136 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for jobseeker’s allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Longford; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5141/11]

The person concerned made an application for Jobseeker's Allowance on 2 February 2011. The payment of Jobseeker's Allowance is subject to a means test. He was interviewed by a Social Welfare Investigator on 15th March, 2011 and was requested to produce certain documentation in support of his application. When this information is forthcoming a decision on his application will be immediately made.

James Bannon

Ceist:

137 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for disability allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Longford; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5142/11]

The person concerned applied for disability allowance on 25 January 2011. His claim is currently being integrated and he will be notified directly of the outcome.

James Bannon

Ceist:

138 Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for jobseeker’s allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5143/11]

The person concerned made an application for Jobseeker's Allowance on 21 February 2011. The payment of Jobseeker's Allowance is subject to a means test and her application has been forwarded to a Social Welfare Inspector for investigation.

Social Welfare Appeals

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

139 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision on an appeal for a disability allowance will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry. [5151/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 22 December 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 08 March 2011 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.

Redundancy Payments

Noel Coonan

Ceist:

140 Deputy Noel Coonan asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a redundancy application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; when payment will issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5159/11]

On 1 January 2011, the Department of Social Protection 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 4 March 2011. This claim is pending processing.

Social Welfare Appeals

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

141 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection when a domiciliary care allowance appeal will be decided in respect of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5163/11]

An application for domiciliary care allowance was received on the 19th October 2010. This application was referred to one of the Department's Medical Assessors who found that the child was not medically eligible for the allowance. A decision letter issued on the 4th January 2011. The person concerned subsequently lodged an appeal against this decision. The application is currently being reviewed prior to a submission being prepared for the Social Welfare Appeals Office.

Michael Creed

Ceist:

142 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a claim for domiciliary care allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5176/11]

An application for domiciliary care allowance was received on the 8th November 2010. This application was referred to one of the Department's Medical Assessors who found that the child was not medically eligible for the allowance. A decision letter issued on the 18th January 2011. The person concerned subsequently lodged an appeal against this decision. The application is currently being reviewed prior to a submission being prepared for the Social Welfare Appeals Office.

Social Welfare Benefits

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

143 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection if a means test for social welfare entitlements will be carried out in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5180/11]

The person concerned is currently in receipt of Jobseeker's Benefit at the graduated rate of €203.30 per week.

He may be entitled to a higher rate of Jobseeker's Allowance and his file has been forwarded to a Social Welfare Inspector for an assessment of means and he will be notified of the outcome as soon as possible.

Social Welfare Appeals

Jack Wall

Ceist:

144 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5185/11]

An application for domiciliary care allowance was received on the 29th June 2010. This application was referred to one of the Department's Medical Assessors who found that the child was not medically eligible for the allowance. A decision letter issued on the 7th September 2010 where the customer was advised of the decision. The person concerned subsequently lodged an appeal against this decision and she was informed by the Social Welfare Appeals Office on the 21st February 2011 that the appeal had not been allowed.

The decision/appeal process for this application is now complete. All the information available at that time was provided to the appeals officer before the appeal was considered.

Social Welfare Benefits

John McGuinness

Ceist:

145 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason rent allowance must be collected from a post office in County Kilkenny rather than paid through the post office account or bank account in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; if this decision will be reversed as it is causing undue hardship; if this is not discrimination as the Department insists on paying others through banks and post office accounts or at least gives an option and if she will explain the reasoning behind the decision in the letter from the community welfare officer which advises that one must collect one’s rent allowance each week otherwise one loses the benefit. [5216/11]

When the decision to award a rent supplement has been made it is a matter for the Community Welfare Officer to decide the method of payment having regard to the client's preferences and personal circumstances. Where payment is made by Electronic Information Transfer at a post office, the payment must be collected within six days; failure to collect the payment within the specified period will result in it being returned to the Department.

If the person concerned wishes to have his payment method changed then he should contact his local community welfare officer.

Ministerial Staff

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

146 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection the arrangements she has put in place for constituency offices within her Department. [5237/11]

My constituency office is located in the Department's Headquarters building in Store Street, Dublin 1. Arrangements for staffing of the constituency office are being finalised and comply with the recently amended Department of Finance Guidelines on Staffing of Ministerial Offices.

Social Welfare Appeals

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

147 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will issue on an application for disability allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5260/11]

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.

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

Michael Creed

Ceist:

148 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason persons (details supplied) are having their mortgage allowance refused at a time when their mortgage repayments are in fact increasing; and if she will review the matter. [5278/11]

The Health Service Executive has advised that the mortgage interest supplement of the person concerned was reviewed in January 2011. The Executive further advised that the person concerned has been awarded mortgage interest supplement of €31.70 per week which is his full entitlement based on the household income and the required contribution from the non-dependent household member.

Civil Registration Service

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

149 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Social Protection the progress made to date regarding a possible change of law in relation to the registration of deaths occurring abroad; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5286/11]

The administration of the Civil Registration Service is statutorily a matter for the Registrar General. I have made enquiries with the Registrar General and he has informed me that the general review of the provisions of the Civil Registration Act 2004 is expected to be completed by the middle of this year. The review will include the provisions in relation to the registration of deaths.

The provisions and procedures governing the registration of deaths in Ireland are contained in Part 5 of the Civil Registration Act, 2004.

Where the death of an Irish citizen domiciled in the State occurs abroad, the death may be registered here if there was not at the time of the death a system of registration of deaths in the place where the death occurred, or such a system that applied to such a death, or it is not possible to obtain copies of or extracts from civil records of the death.

Where an Irish citizen dies abroad and the death is registered by the civil authorities of the place where the death occurred, a certified copy of the death registration, translated, if necessary, is sufficient for all legal and administrative purposes here and there is no necessity for the event to be entered in the register of deaths in the State.

However, it is appreciated that registration here of the deaths abroad of Irish citizens would be significant to the relatives of the deceased and it is in this context that a commitment has been made to review the existing provisions of the Civil Registration Act, 2004, in relation to this issue.

There is a range of issues to be considered in relation to the scope and implementation of any proposed amendment on this matter. Some of these issues may have cross-departmental implications and these need to be considered also.

Flood Relief

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

150 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Social Protection the progress made with the relocation scheme for those whose houses were flooded in November 2009; when a decision will be made in relation to relocation money for these persons; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5292/11]

The Government has provided various types of support to people affected by the November 2009 flooding. Humanitarian Aid payments were made, both in the immediate aftermath of the flooding and subsequently to enable eligible households to resume living at their homes. Flood relief works were also undertaken in some of the affected areas and other works are at an advanced state of preparation. Discussions took place with representatives of the insurance industry regarding giving households access to appropriate house insurance at a reasonable cost.

The Government is aware that for various reasons, a small number of people have been unable to resume living at their home and others, while they have resumed living at their home, are still faced with significant problems arising from the flooding. The Government is also aware that some householders who are continuing to experience significant housing problems as a result of the November 2009 flooding are considering the possibility of relocating rather than resuming living at their original home.

In light of this, the Government has decided that support may be available in such cases where:

1. Serious and permanent damage has been caused to the family home by the November 2009 flooding;

2. There is a high probability of a recurrence of serious flooding because of flood depth, duration or frequency on a scale that could further damage the family home;

3. The house cannot be protected from flooding at an economically feasible cost;

4. The household is unable to secure insurance against flooding as a result of the November 2009 floods.

Support will only be considered for relocation in cases where the cost of remedial works would exceed the cost of relocation, as determined by the Office of Public Works (OPW). The following considerations will also apply:

1. The gross cost of relocation underpinning the level of support provided will not exceed the cost of providing a reasonable home in the area in question, as determined by the local authority;

2. The existing house must be demolished and the site must be rehabilitated, which may require planning permission from the local authority;

3. If the household has settled a claim with their insurance company, the funds provided in settlement of that claim will be taken into account in determining the amount of funding, if any, provided for relocation. Beneficiaries will be required to instruct their insurance company to provide information in that regard.

The households in question have been visited by officials from the Department and a report of their individual circumstances has now been completed. The OPW is to provide a detailed report for each household outlining the problems in the areas in question, what works if any have been completed in the area or are planned for the area. OPW is also to provide an assessment of the likelihood of future flooding having regard to the works that have already taken place or are scheduled to take place. An initial batch of these reports has been received from the OPW with the balance expected shortly. When all of this information is received it will be collated and decisions on any further assistance for the households in question will then be taken.

Social Welfare Benefits

Jack Wall

Ceist:

151 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding mortgage interest supplement in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5329/11]

Jack Wall

Ceist:

152 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason dietary allowance has ceased in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5330/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 151 and 152 together.

The Health Service Executive advised that the person concerned made an application for mortgage interest supplement approximately twelve months ago. The Executive requested the person concerned to provide further information in order to process her application but has not received the requested information to date. A decision will be made on her application for mortgage interest supplement when the information has been provided.

The Executive further advised that payment of diet supplement ceased approximately 12 months ago. If the person concerned wishes to make a new application for diet supplement she should contact the community welfare officer at her local health centre.

Social Welfare Appeals

Jack Wall

Ceist:

153 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5334/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 26 February 2011. 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.

Tom Hayes

Ceist:

154 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision on an appeal for carer’s allowance will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5344/11]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer having fully considered all the evidence, including that adduced at oral hearing, has allowed the appeal of the person concerned. The person concerned has been notified of the decision.

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

Jack Wall

Ceist:

155 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) in County Kildare has only been awarded rent supplement from 15 November 2010 when the person made her application from October; if the person is entitled to a deposit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5345/11]

In order to qualify for rent supplement an applicant must normally be in receipt of a social welfare payment. The Health Service Executive has advised that the person concerned has been awarded rent supplement from 15 November 2010, the date from which her jobseeker's benefit commenced.

An exceptional needs payment (ENP) may be made to help meet an essential once-off cost, such as a payment of a rent deposit, which the applicant is unable to meet out of his/her own resources. There is no automatic entitlement to this payment and each application is determined by the Executive based on the particular circumstances of the case taking account of the nature and extent of the need. Such payments are confined to occurrences which the Executive considers to be unexpected, unforeseen or exceptional. If the person concerned wishes to make an application for an exceptional needs payment she should contact the Executive.

Social Welfare Appeals

Dan Neville

Ceist:

156 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Social Protection if farm assist payment will be paid without further delay in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [5355/11]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an oral hearing of this case took place on 02 December 2010 following which the Appeals Officer referred the case to a Social Welfare Inspector for clarification of certain aspects. The case has now been referred back to the Appeals Officer who is now considering the appeal in the light of all the evidence submitted, including that adduced at the oral hearing. The person concerned will be notified of the Appeals Officer's decision when the appeal has been determined.

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

157 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection when back to school allowance will be granted in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4839/11]

Applications for the back to school clothing and footwear allowance (BSCFA) may be made between the beginning of June and the end of September each year. A person may qualify for payment of the allowance if s/he is in receipt of a social welfare or health service executive payment, is participating in an approved employment scheme or attending a recognised education or training course and has household income at or below certain specified levels. There is no record of an application for BSCFA having been received from the person concerned.

Social Welfare Appeals

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

158 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection when a review will be undertaken of an application for domiciliary care allowance under appeal which was subsequently refused in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare. [4842/11]

An application for domiciliary care allowance was received on the 20th October 2009. This application was referred to one of the Department's Medical Assessors who found that the child was not medically eligible for the allowance. A letter issued on the 25th November 2009 where the customer was advised of the decision. The person concerned subsequently lodged an appeal against this decision and she was informed by the Social Welfare Appeals Office on the 7th December 2010 that the appeal had not been allowed.

The decision/appeal process for this application is now complete. All the information available at that time was provided to the appeals officer before the appeal was considered.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

159 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for domiciliary care allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4844/11]

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.

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

160 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if mortgage assistance will be offered to persons (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4846/11]

The Health Service Executive has advised that the person concerned is not currently eligible for mortgage interest supplement as he has entered into an arrangement with his bank whereby no repayments are due to be made for the period October 2010 to April 2011. The Executive has advised the person concerned to make an application for mortgage interest supplement when repayments are due to recommence on his mortgage.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

161 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if back to education allowance will be awarded in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4848/11]

The person concerned is in receipt of the back to education allowance since September 2008.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

162 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection when carer’s allowance will be awarded in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4905/11]

The person concerned is currently in receipt of Carer's Allowance in respect of one care recipient. Her application for an increase in her Carer's allowance is currently being investigated and she will be notified directly of the outcome.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

163 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection when mortgage support will be reviewed in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4911/11]

The Health Service Executive has advised that the mortgage interest supplement of the person concerned was reviewed recently. The Executive further advised that the person concerned has been awarded mortgage interest supplement of €119.60 per month which is his full entitlement based on his personal circumstances.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

164 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection when fuel allowance will be awarded in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4912/11]

The person concerned has been in receipt of a fuel allowance from 20th January 2011.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

165 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding entitlement to social welfare payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4914/11]

The person concerned was paid jobseeker's benefit to 28th October 2009 when his entitlement was exhausted. He should call to his local social welfare office to establish his current entitlements.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

166 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for one parent family allowance in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4916/11]

The person concerned applied for one-parent family payment from 30th September 2010. Her claim was disallowed on the grounds that she is not considered to be habitually resident in the state. No appeal was lodged.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

167 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason rent supplement was reduced in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; if same will be reviewed at an early date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4917/11]

The Health Service Executive has advised that the rent supplement payment of the person in question has not recently been reduced but is under review. The Executive will contact the person concerned directly when the review has been completed.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

168 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection when rent support will be awarded in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4924/11]

The Health Service Executive has advised that payment of rent supplement ceased as the person concerned has moved address. If the person concerned wishes to make an application for rent supplement in respect of her new address then she should contact the Community Welfare Officer at her local health centre.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

169 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 she will make a statement on the matter. [4938/11]

The Health Service Executive has advised that it has received an application for mortgage interest supplement from the person concerned and that a decision is expected on his application shortly. The Executive will contact the person concerned with the outcome.

Money Advice and Budgeting Service

Ciaran Lynch

Ceist:

170 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Social Protection the amount allocated to the Money Advice and Budgeting Service in each year since 2000; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4964/11]

The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) assists people who are over-indebted and need help and advice in coping with debt problems. Responsibility for MABS transferred to the Citizens Information Board (CIB) in July 2009 and funding now forms part of the overall CIB allocation. Funding to MABS from 2000 to date is set out below.

Year

Allocation

€m

2000

5.77

2001

8.47

2002

9.70

2003

9.87

2004

11.40

2005

13.62

2006

16.42

2007

17.67

2008

17.95

2009

17.67

2010

18.22*

2011

18.36*

*As part of the total CIB allocation.

Social Welfare Benefits

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

171 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for mortgage interest supplement in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan; if she will expedite a response; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5051/11]

One of the conditions for receipt of a mortgage interest supplement is that the loan agreement was entered into at a time when, in the opinion of the Health Service Executive, the claimant was in a position to meet the repayments. The Executive has advised that the person concerned was refused mortgage interest supplement on 27 March 2009 as this condition was not satisfied.

The Executive further advised that the person concerned made a new application for mortgage interest supplement on 24 January 2011. However, no decision has been made on his application to date. The Executive will contact the person concerned directly when a decision has been made.

Question No. 172 withdrawn.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

173 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding housing and rent supplement in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [5085/11]

The Health Service Executive has advised that there is no record of an application for rent supplement from the person concerned. If the person concerned wishes to make an application for rent supplement then she should contact the Community Welfare Officer at her local health centre.

Ministerial Staff

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

174 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport the arrangements he has put in place for constituency offices within his Department. [5239/11]

At this stage, any final arrangements for constituency offices within my Department are not yet in place. However, I can assure the Deputy that the numbers that will serve in my constituency office and in the constituency office of the Minister of State in my Department will comply with the revised instructions/guidelines on the matter agreed by the Government. My former Dáil Secretary and Parliamentary Assistant will serve in my constituency office.

Ministerial Responsibilities

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

175 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport the specific powers he intends to delegate to Ministers of State in his Department. [5258/11]

The government at its meeting of 10 March 2011, on the nomination of the Taoiseach, appointed Mr. Dinny McGinley, T.D., as Minister of State with responsibility for Gaeltacht Affairs at the Department of Arts, Heritage & Gaeltacht Affairs. My Department will soon be retitled the Department of Arts, Heritage & Gaeltacht Affairs following the execution of the necessary government orders.

The process of transferring functions from one Department to another is carried out by means of Government Orders. Each Order needs to be carefully drafted so that all relevant legislation is listed in the Schedule to the Order. The Departments which currently hold the functions which are being transferred to my Department are fully engaged in this task at present. The draft Orders will need to be finalised and settled in the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel before they can be brought to Government.

Once this process has been finalised, it is the Minister for Finance who brings the necessary Orders to Government. At this stage, I cannot give a precise date for the formal transfer of functions as this depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of the legislation governing the particular functions.

I can assure the Deputy that everyone involved in the process, both in my own Department and in the other Departments concerned, is making every effort to complete it at the earliest possible date and I hope that it can be brought to conclusion within a matter of weeks.

On completion of this process a further order will be required to delegate functions to the Minister of State.

Sports Capital Programme

Michael Creed

Ceist:

176 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport the financial supports available to a Gaeltacht community that wishes to develop a new playing pitch all-weather facility; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5438/11]

Grants for the provision of playing pitches in Gaeltacht areas are currently a matter for the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs.

Semi-State Bodies

Michael Moynihan

Ceist:

177 Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if the holding company to manage the State’s holdings of the semi-State bodies mentioned on page 14 of the programme for Government is the same as NewERA. [5372/11]

As set out in the document Government for National Recovery 2011-2016, it is proposed to establish a New Economy and Recovery Authority (New ERA). New ERA is envisaged to have an ambitious agenda with a particular focus on management of investments over the next 4 years in Next Generation infrastructure by streamlined and restructured Commercial State Companies.

The precise structure and remit of the "New Economy and Recovery Authority" will be developed urgently in consultation with the Department of Finance, Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, relevant State Companies and industry as appropriate.

Subject to this consultation, it is anticipated that New ERA would perform the role of a holding company of the State's stake in the Commercial State Companies as referred to on page 14 of Government for National Recovery 2011-2016.

Offshore Exploration

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

178 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will reverse the decision to approve the construction of the Corrib gas pipeline (details supplied) taken on the day of the general election and instead take action to ensure that the principal benefactor from this natural resource is the Irish people. [5044/11]

An application, pursuant to section 40 of the Gas Act, 1976, and Section 13 of the Petroleum and Other Minerals Development Act to construct the Corrib Gas Pipeline was submitted by Shell E & P Ireland Limited on behalf of the Corrib Partners on 31 May, 2010.

The detailed assessment of the application undertaken by my Department established that:

The pipeline may be considered safe and the Minister could, were he so minded, permit consent for construction subject to conditions that would ensure compliance with commitments made in submissions, regulations and national/international Standards.

The proposed construction activities and operation of the pipeline would not adversely affect the integrity of the Natura 2000 sites provided that the pipeline was constructed and operated:

within the planned parameters defined in the Application materials; and

in accordance with all proposed environmental conditions.

Subject to the specified engineering conditions, there are no engineering reasons consent to construct should not be given in accordance with the Application.

Having considered the foregoing the Minister granted his consent.

It is my understanding that the statutory process concerning the applications submitted by Shell E & P Ireland Limited as provided for in the Gas and Petroleum Acts has been followed and that the consents granted are valid consents. Accordingly, the issue of revocation does not arise.

Postal Services

Michael Creed

Ceist:

179 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the position regarding the introduction of a postcode system and the consideration, if any, given by him to the fact that ESB Networks already has a unique identifier for each address in the country by virtue of the MPRN used for electricity supply; if he has investigated the possibility of this system being used to assist in the introduction of a cost-efficient postcode arrangement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5175/11]

Ireland is the only country in the EU and OECD which does not have a national postcode system. The Department is currently engaged in the procurement process to appoint a postcode management licence holder. Under procurement rules it is not open to the Department to unilaterally select a particular service provider in this regard.

The procurement is seeking to appoint a supplier to fulfil the role of Postcode Management Licence Holder who will be responsible for establishing, operating and maintaining the Irish National Postcode System. The framework for the postcode system is the 6 digit alphanumeric model, publicly available and accessible model as recommended by the National Postcode Project Board in 2006. The model will be capable of being further refined into a location-based code.

The Report of the National Postcode Project Board deals with the selection of a National Postcode System. It is available on my Department's website www.dcenr.ie.

Ministerial Staff

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

180 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the arrangements he has put in place for constituency offices within his Department. [5227/11]

The exact staffing arrangements for my Constituency Office have yet to be finalised but will comply with the new reduced numbers as agreed at the Government meeting of 15 March 2011.

Ministerial Responsibilities

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

181 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the specific powers he intends to delegate to Ministers of State in his Department. [5246/11]

The Minister of State appointed by the Government to my Department and the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government has been assigned responsibility for the New ERA Project as set out in the document Government for National Recovery 2011-2016. This Project encompasses key areas of the Energy and Communications brief in my Department and the Minister of State and I will work closely together in progressing the New ERA Project.

Inland Fisheries

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

182 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his plans to give permission to Inland Fisheries Ireland to employ staff in 2011 to continue with the work of trying to control African pond weed in Lough Corrib, otherwise known as lagarosiphon weed, in view of the fact that money has been made available by the Office of Public Works, Galway City Council and Galway County Council for this work in 2011; if his attention has been drawn to the damage being done to Lough Corrib by this weed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5291/11]

The negative impact of invasive aquatic species it is widely acknowledged. I can confirm that funding has been made available to Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) to continue in efforts at controlling the Lagorosiphon major weed in Lough Corrib. At present, IFI have a number of research staff employed on the project, which will continue to focus on control and containment. Work on the systematic removal of the weed using a wide range of tried and tested, as well as new and innovative, methods are being conducted over a three year period.

The contracts of three temporary personnel involved in cutting and clearing the weed, which was mainly done by scuba diving, expired in December 2010. It was not possible to renew these contracts because of the Public Service Staffing moratorium. Notwithstanding the ongoing constraints on public expenditure, IFI has indicated it will continue to prioritise this work from its available resources and is considering options for undertaking works to control this invasive species this year.

Local Authority Funding

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

183 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding rates arrears in respect of a person (details supplied). [5271/11]

Local authorities are under a statutory obligation to levy rates on any property used for commercial purposes in accordance with the details entered in the valuation lists prepared by the independent Commissioner of Valuation under the Valuation Act 2001. The determination of the annual rate on valuation (ARV), which is applied to a property valuation to calculate rates, is a decision taken locally by the elected members of a local authority in their annual budget. Under rating law, the person in occupation of the property on the date of the making of the rate is liable for the rate for that year in entirety, regardless of when the property is vacated.

The levying and collection of rates are matters for each individual local authority and any query in relation to the billing in respect of a specific property is a matter for the local authority in question.

I am acutely aware of the pressures on small and medium sized businesses at the present time. My Department, this year and in recent years, has requested local authorities to exercise restraint in setting commercial rates to support competitiveness in the economy and protect the interests of communities. Local authorities have responded positively to these requests. Annual rates on valuation declined by a national average of 0.62% in 2010 and a similar reduction in 2011 is evident from the local authority budgets received in my Department to date. I will continue to keep the approach to rates by local authorities under regular review.

International Agreements

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

184 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans to sign and ratify the Council of Europe Convention on the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at Local Level. [5435/11]

The Council of Europe Convention on the Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at Local Level (agreed in 1992) has to date been signed and ratified by eight of the 47 member states, and signed by a further five. There are no proposals at this stage for Ireland to sign or ratify the Convention.

Turbary Rights

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

185 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will clarify the position regarding the continuation or not of turf cutting on 32 designated raised bogs in view of the media reports (details supplied) concerning the ending of the derogation. [5014/11]

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

186 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government in view of the statement by his predecessor in April 2010 that the derogation permitting turf cutting was to end on the 75 natural heritage area bogs designated in 2004, if the sentence in the programme for Government that will allow an exemption for domestic turf cutting on 75 national heritage area sites subject to the introduction of agreed national code of environmental practices represents a resiling from this position. [5016/11]

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

187 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the steps he took to ensure the ban on mechanised peat extraction for domestic purposes in the 32 special area of conservation raised bogs in 2010 was enforced; and if he will provide details of any breaches of which he is aware. [5017/11]

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

196 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding the proposed ending of the derogation for mechanised peat extraction for domestic purposes relating to the 23 designated raised bogs that was scheduled to end in 2011. [5015/11]

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

197 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the steps he will take to enforce any ban on mechanised peat extraction on designated raised bogs should breaches arise. [5018/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 185 to 187, inclusive, 196 and 197 together.

Under the 1992 Habitats Directive Ireland agreed to protect various natural habitats which are of international importance, including by designating areas as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) for their protection. Once designated, Ireland is obliged to monitor, protect and, where necessary, restore those habitats and species which are under threat. 55 sites have been designated as SACs for the conservation of raised bog habitat. In 2004, Ireland also designated 75 raised bogs as Natural Heritage Areas (NHAs) under the Wildlife Acts.

In 1999, arrangements were announced for the protection of the 31 raised bog sites that had been designated as SACs at that time. This included a 10-year national derogation during which domestic turf cutting could continue subject to certain restrictions. A similar 10-year derogation applied to the further 24 raised bog SACs and 75 raised bog Natural Heritage Areas (NHAs) designated after 1999.

In May 2010, the Government confirmed the end of the derogation for domestic turf cutting in these 130 Raised Bog conservation sites, on a phased basis, with restrictions being implemented on 31 bogs from 2010. The previous Government did not take any decision to amend or reverse their decision of May 2010.

An interim compensation scheme was put in place and land / turbary right owners that could be readily identified were notified directly of the restrictions and the compensation scheme. Advertisements were placed in local newspapers and on local radio.

My Department continued to monitor bogs in designated areas following the Government decision ending the derogation. In a number of cases contractors coming onto bogs to begin turf cutting discontinued their activities on having the situation explained to them.

The Programme for Government contains a commitment to the establishment of independent mediation between all relevant stakeholders with the specific objective of facilitating resolution to 55 Special Area of Conservation designated SAC bogs and to outstanding issues associated with turf cutting on blanket bogs.

I am giving early and urgent attention to this issue, and am currently working with my colleague Mr Jimmy Deenihan, TD, who will have responsibility for this matter as Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs, in developing comprehensive proposals for Government reflecting the commitment in the Programme for Government. These proposals will also form the basis of Ireland's response to a recent Letter of Formal Notice from the European Commission regarding Ireland's alleged breaches of the Habitats and Environmental Impact Assessment Directives in relation to the issue of peat extraction.

The European Commission has also expressed concern regarding turf-cutting on raised bog Natural Heritage Areas. In addressing this issue, and achieving compliance with European law, we will also seek to accommodate the rights and wishes of turbary right owners in these sites, in accordance with the provisions of the Programme for Government of the Habitat Directive.

This Government will seek to resolve the long-standing issues regarding peat extraction on protected sites by working with local communities to address legitimate concerns while ensuring that Ireland is in compliance with EU environmental legislation. The proposals which are now being developed will put in place a range of measures designed to meet these twin aims.

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

188 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, further to Parliamentary Question No. 225 of 4 November 2010, if he will re-examine the reply to same and inform this Deputy of the steps he proposes to take to ensure that projects for the extraction of peat meet the requirements of this judgment. [5019/11]

My Department is currently reviewing certain aspects of planning regulations relevant to the application of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive both in the context of Ireland's proposals to address the findings of a European Court of Justice case on on-farm developments as well as broader application of environmental impact assessment for peat extraction. I note the continuing concern expressed in successive questions by the Deputy in respect of the environmental impact assessment of peat extractions. As part of the above mentioned review, my Department is preparing new regulations which will, inter alia, address peat extraction and EIA. These will be submitted to the Oireachtas for approval by positive resolution in the near future.

Water and Sewerage Schemes

Ceist:

189 Deputy Michael P. Kitt asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when sanction will be given for the commencement of the Milltown-Claregalway sewerage scheme, County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5043/11]

The Claregalway and Milltown Sewerage Schemes have been amalgamated by Galway County Council into a single project that is included in my Department's Water Services Investment Programme 2010-2012, a copy of which is available in the Oireachtas Library. This project, under which the Council will provide new waste water treatment plants and collection networks at both locations at an estimated cost of €13.5 million, is amongst the list of contracts in the county to advance to construction by 2012.

My Department is currently examining the contract documents for the combined Claregalway and Milltown Scheme and a decision on those documents will be conveyed to the Council as soon as possible. Once approved, the Council will then be in a position to seek tenders for the combined scheme.

Ministerial Staff

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

190 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the arrangements he has put in place for constituency offices within his Department. [5232/11]

Arrangements for the staffing of the constituency offices in my Department are not yet finalised. However, the Constituency Offices, along with the Private Offices, will be staffed in accordance with the agreed reduced staffing limits decided by the Government last week.

Ministerial Responsibilities

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

191 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the specific powers he intends to delegate to Ministers of State in his Department. [5251/11]

Mr. Willie Penrose, TD, has been appointed Minister of State at my Department, with responsibility for Housing and Planning. In addition, Mr. Fergus O'Dowd, TD, has been appointed Minister for State at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and at my own Department with responsibility for the NewERA Plan. I will be delegating comprehensive housing and planning functions to Minister of State Penrose, and water services functions appropriate to his responsibility for "Irish Water", a new utility to be established under NewERA, to Minister of State O'Dowd.

Road Network

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

192 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the progress that has been made in the preparation of a proposal or discussion document that has been worked on in consultation with Galway County Council in regard to the proposed R336 scheme west of Galway to Screeb; his plans to arrange a meeting with CION officials; when this meeting will take place; the person who will be on the delegation to meet the CION officials; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5296/11]

My Department and Galway County Council have been in discussion regarding this proposed roads project insofar as it may impact on areas designated for conservation purposes under European law. The County Council has prepared a detailed document in this regard and my Department has provided appropriate advice and guidance. The European Commission has agreed to meet with officials from Galway County Council in regard to the project during the coming weeks. It has not yet been decided who from my Department will attend this meeting.

Turbary Rights

Noel Coonan

Ceist:

193 Deputy Noel Coonan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding the purchase of bog lands (details supplied) in County Tipperary; the reason for the delay in processing this application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5361/11]

Contracts of sale in this case were executed on my behalf in October 2008. However, before the sale was closed it was discovered that the vendor had rented the land in question, and the associated turbary rights, to a third party. The Chief State Solicitor's Office advised that a deed of variation would be required and they are working to resolve this matter. I am advised that this will facilitate closure of the sale.

Public Procurement

John Deasy

Ceist:

194 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the changes in the tender process as it pertains to building or construction contracts awarded by local authorities over the past 24 months; and the pertinent departmental circulars which are relevant to any such changes over that period. [5384/11]

All capital investment projects funded by my Department are subject, inter alia, to EU and national public procurement requirements and guidance, as set out by the Department of Finance, relating to capital project management in the public sector. It is a matter for local authorities, as contracting authorities, to administer procurement processes in accordance with the relevant requirements and guidance.

The Department of Finance has published a suite of contract documentation to be used by public contracting authorities in the procurement of public works contracts. The relevant documentation is available online at www.constructionprocurement.gov.ie. These standard forms of contract are used by local authorities engaged in projects funded under my Department’s capital programmes. Relevant circulars, published by the Department of Finance and available on the website, include:

Circular 10/10 — Facilitating SME Participation in Public Procurement;

Circular 07/10 — Construction Contracts and Conditions of Engagement Approval;

Circular 06/10 — The New Capital Works Management Framework;

Circular 04/08 — Construction Procurement Reform (Short Public Works Contracts and other measures).

My Department has brought these circulars to the attention of local authorities.

Electoral System

Joe Costello

Ceist:

195 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will consider establishing a Dáil constituency or Seanad panel for Irish emigrants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5389/11]

The programme for Government sets out a comprehensive range of constitutional reform measures, including putting to the people, for decision by referendum, a proposal for the abolition of the Seanad and a review of the Dáil electoral system by a Constitutional Convention. I will bring forward proposals for change to electoral law in light of the decisions for change which may arise from these processes.

Questions Nos. 196 and 197 answered with Question No. 185.

Citizenship Applications

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

198 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding an application for citizenship in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5021/11]

Officials in the Citizenship section of my Department inform me that there is no record of an application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's question. I should remind the Deputy that queries in relation to the status of individual Immigration cases may be made direct to INIS by Email using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. The service enables up-to-date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek this information through the more administratively expensive Parliamentary Questions process.

Asylum Applications

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

199 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding residency in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Louth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5024/11]

I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that the person concerned made an application for Family Reunification on behalf of her husband in January 2010. The application was forwarded to the Refugee Applications Commissioner for investigation as required under Section 18 of the Refugee Act 1996. This investigation has been completed and the Commissioner has forwarded a report to INIS.

This application is currently under consideration and the person's legal representative will be contacted shortly by INIS. I should remind the Deputy that queries in relation to the status of individual Immigration cases may be made direct to INIS by email using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. The service enables up-to-date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek this information through the more administratively expensive Parliamentary Questions process.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

200 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding residency in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 6; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5025/11]

I refer the Deputy to the reply given to his Parliamentary Question No. 969 of Wednesday 29 September, 2010. The status of the person concerned, as set out in that reply, remains unchanged. The person concerned is the subject of a Deportation Order, signed on 12 July 2004, following a comprehensive and thorough examination of his asylum claim, and a detailed examination of the representations he submitted for consideration under Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended).

The effect of the Deportation Order is that the person concerned must leave the State and remain thereafter out of the State. The enforcement of the Deportation Order is an operational matter for the Garda National Immigration Bureau. I should remind the Deputy that queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to INIS by email using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. The service enables up-to-date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek this information through the more administratively expensive Parliamentary Questions process.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

201 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding an application for residency in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wexford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5026/11]

Arising from the refusal of his asylum application, and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was notified, by letter dated 11 November 2009, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why a Deportation Order should not be made against him. In addition, he was notified of his entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006.

The person concerned submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection and this application will be considered first. When consideration of this application has been completed, the person concerned will be notified in writing of the outcome. In the event that the application for Subsidiary Protection is refused, the position in the State of the person concerned will then be decided by reference to the provisions of Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. All representations submitted will be considered before the file is passed to me for decision. Once a decision has been made, this decision and the consequences of the decision will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned.

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

Asylum Support Services

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

202 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if accommodation in Dublin will be offered to a person (details supplied) in County Wexford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5027/11]

The housing requirements of individual asylum seekers are dealt with on a case by case basis by the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) of my Department. Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases, including accommodation status at the RIA, can be made directly to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS), of which the RIA is a division, by Email using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specially established for this purpose. This service enables up-to-date information on such cases to be obtained promptly by Oireachtas representatives.

Residency Permits

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

203 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding an application for residency in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 2; if a review can or will be undertaken in this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5028/11]

I refer the Deputy to the Reply given to his Parliamentary Question No. 1108 of Wednesday, 25 September 2010, Parliamentary Question No. 149 of Thursday, 25 November 2010 and Parliamentary Question No. 517 of Wednesday, 12 January 2011. The status of the person concerned, as set out in that reply, remains unchanged.

The person concerned is the subject of a Deportation Order following a comprehensive and thorough examination of his asylum claim and a detailed examination of the representations he submitted for consideration under Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended). If there has been a change in the circumstances of the person concerned, or new information has come to light which has a direct bearing on his case, there remains the option of applying to me for revocation of the Deportation Order pursuant to the provisions of Section 3 (11) of the Immigration Act, 1999, as amended. However I wish to make clear that such an application would require substantial grounds to be successful.

The effect of the Deportation Order is that the person concerned must leave the State and remain thereafter out of the State. The enforcement of the Deportation Order is an operational matter for the Garda National Immigration Bureau. I should remind the Deputy that queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to INIS by Email using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. The service enables up-to-date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek this information through the more administratively expensive Parliamentary Questions process.

Asylum Applications

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

204 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding residency in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5029/11]

Arising from the refusal of her asylum application, and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was notified, by letter dated 31 August 2009, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of her. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why a Deportation Order should not be made against her. In addition, she was notified of her entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006.

The person concerned submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection. When consideration of this application has been completed, the person concerned will be notified in writing of the outcome. In the event that the application for Subsidiary Protection is refused, the position in the State of the person concerned will then be decided by reference to the provisions of Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. All representations submitted will be considered before the file is passed to me for decision. Once a decision has been made, this decision and the consequences of the decision will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned.

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

205 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding an application for residency and leave to remain in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 22; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5030/11]

Arising from the refusal of his asylum application, and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was notified, by letter dated 9 February 2009, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why a Deportation Order should not be made against him. In addition, he was notified of his entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006.

The person concerned submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection. When consideration of this application has been completed, the person concerned will be notified in writing of the outcome. In the event that the application for Subsidiary Protection is refused, the position in the State of the person concerned will then be decided by reference to the provisions of Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. All representations submitted will be considered before the file is passed to me for decision. Once a decision has been made, this decision and the consequences of the decision will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned.

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

206 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding an application for leave to remain in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Longford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5031/11]

The persons concerned are a wife and husband. They lodged separate asylum applications, in 2008 and in 2007 respectively. Arising from the refusal of their respective asylum applications, and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), they were separately notified, she by letter dated 25 November 2009 and he by letter dated 13 May 2009, that the Minister proposed to make Deportation Orders in respect of them. They were each 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 Deportation Orders should not be made against them. In addition, they were notified of their respective entitlements to apply for Subsidiary Protection in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006.

The persons concerned submitted individual applications for Subsidiary Protection and these applications will be considered first. When consideration of these applications has been completed, the persons concerned will be notified in writing of the outcomes. In the event that the applications for Subsidiary Protection are refused, the positions in the State of the persons concerned will then be decided by reference to the provisions of Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. All representations submitted will be considered before the files are passed to me for decision. Once decisions have been made, these decisions and the consequences of the decisions will be conveyed in writing to the persons concerned.

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

207 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding an application for residency or leave to remain in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5032/11]

Arising from the refusal of his asylum application, and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was notified, by letter dated 14 November 2005, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why a Deportation Order should not be made against him. He was subsequently notified of his entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006.

The person concerned submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection in the State and, following consideration of this application, it was determined that the person concerned was not eligible for Subsidiary Protection in the State. The person concerned was notified of this decision by letter dated 8 March 2011. The position in the State of the person concerned will now be decided by reference to the provisions of Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. All representations submitted will be considered before the file is passed to me for decision. Once a decision has been made, this decision and the consequences of the decision will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned.

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

208 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding an application under subsidiary protection in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5033/11]

Arising from the refusal of his asylum application, and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was notified, by letter dated 27 July 2009, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why a Deportation Order should not be made against him. In addition, he was notified of his entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006.

The person concerned submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection. When consideration of this application has been completed, the person concerned will be notified in writing of the outcome. In the event that the application for Subsidiary Protection is refused, the position in the State of the person concerned will then be decided by reference to the provisions of Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. All representations submitted will be considered before the file is passed to me for decision. Once a decision has been made, this decision and the consequences of the decision will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned.

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

209 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the current or expected position regarding residency in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5034/11]

Arising from the refusal of her asylum application, and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was notified, by letter dated 29 November 2006, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of her. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons a Deportation Order should not be made against her. In addition, she was notified of her entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006.

The person concerned submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection. When consideration of this application has been completed, the person concerned will be notified in writing of the outcome. In the event that the application for Subsidiary Protection is refused, the position in the State of the person concerned will then be decided by reference to the provisions of Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. All representations submitted will be considered before the file is passed to me for decision. Once a decision has been made, this decision and the consequences of the decision will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned.

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

210 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding an application for residency and leave to remain in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5035/11]

Arising from the refusal of his asylum application, and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was notified, by letter dated 16 February, 2009, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons a Deportation Order should not be made against him. In addition, he was notified of his entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006.

The person concerned submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection. When consideration of this application has been completed, the person concerned will be notified in writing of the outcome. In the event that the application for Subsidiary Protection is refused, the position in the State of the person concerned will then be decided by reference to the provisions of Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. All representations submitted will be considered before the file is passed to me for decision. Once a decision has been made, this decision and the consequences of the decision will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned.

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

211 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the current or expected residency status in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 24; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5036/11]

Arising from the refusal of his asylum application, and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was notified, by letter dated 10 September, 2008, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons a Deportation Order should not be made against him. In addition, he was notified of his entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in accordance with the provisions of the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006.

The person concerned submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection. When consideration of this application has been completed, the person concerned will be notified in writing of the outcome. In the event that the application for Subsidiary Protection is refused, the position in the State of the person concerned will then be decided by reference to the provisions of Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. All representations submitted will be considered before the file is passed to me for decision. Once a decision has been made, this decision and the consequences of the decision will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned.

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

212 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding an application for residency in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5037/11]

Arising from the refusal of his asylum application, and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was notified, by letter dated 13 January 2006, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons a Deportation Order should not be made against him. He was subsequently notified of his entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006.

The person concerned submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection. When consideration of this application has been completed, the person concerned will be notified in writing of the outcome. In the event that the application for Subsidiary Protection is refused, the position in the State of the person concerned will then be decided by reference to the provisions of Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. All representations submitted will be considered before the file is passed to me for decision. Once a decision has been made, this decision and the consequences of the decision will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned.

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

213 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding current residency status in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5038/11]

Arising from the refusal of his asylum application, and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was notified, by letter dated 30 September 2005, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons a Deportation Order should not be made against him.

Representations have been received on behalf of the person concerned and these representations will be fully considered, under Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act, 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act, 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement, before the file is passed to me for decision. Once a decision has been made, this decision and the consequences of the decision will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned.

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

214 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding residency in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5039/11]

Arising from the refusal of her asylum application, and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was notified, by letter dated 10 July, 2007, that the Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of her. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons she should not have a Deportation Order made against her. She was also notified of her entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in accordance with the provisions of the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006.

The person concerned submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection and, following consideration of this application, it was determined that she was not eligible for Subsidiary Protection. The person concerned was notified of this decision by letter dated 25 April, 2008.

The position in the State of the person concerned now falls to be decided by reference to the provisions of Section 3(6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and Section 5 of the Refugee Act 1996 (as amended) on the prohibition of refoulement. All representations submitted will be considered before the file is passed to me for decision. Once a decision has been made, this decision and the consequences of the decision will be conveyed in writing to the person concerned.

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

Proposed Legislation

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

215 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform his plans to progress the Spent Convictions Bill; his plans to make significant amendments and the expected timeframe for the completion of same. [5045/11]

The Deputy will be aware that the Spent Convictions Bill 2007 lapsed in the normal way upon the dissolution of the last Dáil. He will also recall that the principles and objectives of that Bill attracted broad support in the House when debated at Second Stage. I share in that consensus and I can inform the Deputy that I propose to proceed with legislation in this area. However, before doing so, I wish to take a fresh look at the proposal, to enhance its operational aspects and to establish very clearly its scope. I expect to be in a position to proceed with my proposals later this year.

Garda Vetting Services

Jack Wall

Ceist:

216 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding an application for Garda clearance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5158/11]

I am informed by the Garda Authorities that two applications for vetting in respect of the person to whom the Deputy refers have been received by the Garda Central Vetting Unit and are in the course of being processed. A response will issue to the registered organisations in due course.

Citizenship Applications

Jack Wall

Ceist:

217 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding an application for Irish citizenship in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5178/11]

I can inform the Deputy that my predecessor approved the application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person in question and the applicant was informed of this in a letter dated 17 January 2011.

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

Parking Regulations

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

218 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding illegal parking at a location (details supplied) in Dublin 9. [5193/11]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the area referred to is within Clontarf Garda Sub-District. Local Garda management is not aware of any specific complaints of illegal parking in the area. A member of the local Community Policing Unit is specifically assigned to the area referred to and will raise the issue of illegal parking with local residents. The matter will be closely monitored, and any breaches of the parking regulations detected will be addressed.

The area is the subject of regular patrols by uniform and plain clothes personnel, including the Community Policing Unit and Mountain Bike Unit, supplemented as required by Traffic Corps personnel.

Local Garda management closely monitors and keeps under review patrols and other operational strategies in place, in conjunction with crime trends and policing needs of the communities in the area, to ensure optimum use is made of Garda resources and the best possible Garda service is provided to the public. The situation is kept under review.

Road Traffic Offences

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

219 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding speeding at a location (details supplied) in Dublin 3. [5194/11]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the area referred to is within Clontarf Garda Sub-District. Local Garda management is not aware of any specific complaints regarding speeding in the area. A member of the local Community Policing Unit is specifically assigned to the area and will contact local residents to ensure that issues arising are dealt with appropriately.

The area is the subject of regular patrols and checkpoints by uniform and plain clothes personnel, including the Community Policing Unit, the Mountain Bike Unit and Divisional Traffic Corps personnel.

Local Garda management closely monitors and keeps under review patrols and other operational strategies in place, in conjunction with crime trends and policing needs of the communities in the area, to ensure optimum use is made of Garda resources and the best possible Garda service is provided to the public. The situation is kept under review.

Ministerial Staff

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

220 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the arrangements he has put in place for constituency offices within his Department. [5236/11]

I can inform the Deputy that I am in the process of establishing a Constituency Office in the Department of Justice and Law Reform. I will not have a Constituency Office in the Department of Defence.

Ministerial Responsibilities

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

221 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the specific powers he intends to delegate to Ministers of State in his Department. [5255/11]

The precise allocation of responsibilities and powers to my Ministers of State will only become clear following the formal transfer of certain functions from the current Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs to my Department. I expect this to take place in the near future.

Garda Recruitment

Michael Creed

Ceist:

222 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if he is satisfied that the issue of an upper age limit on recruitment for new members of the Garda Síochána does not constitute age discrimination; if he will consider granting an exemption from this upper age limit to those that are already working as members of the Garda Reserve; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5277/11]

Recruitment to An Garda Síochána is governed by Statutory Regulations, namely the Garda Síochána (Admission & Appointments) Regulations 1988/2005. The recruitment age was considered as recently as 2004 when, on the recommendation of the Garda Commissioner, the maximum recruitment age was increased from 26 to 35 years.

This upper age limit of 35 was set having regard to equality legislation and also took into account the following criteria:

(1) The cost of training

(2) The need for recruits to serve for a sufficient period of time as full members of the service to recoup this cost.

(3) The operational requirements of the service in terms of having an age profile appropriate to the physical demands placed on members in the course of their duty.

Consideration is being given to changing the upper age limit, in limited circumstances, in a way which would be beneficial to An Garda Síochána. The Deputy will also be aware that the Garda Síochána (Admissions and Appointments) (Amendment) Regulations 2006, allow the Public Appointments Service to give due recognition to any satisfactory service by a person as a reserve member of the Garda Síochána.

Citizenship Applications

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

223 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 924 of 29 September 2010 and No. 167 of 1 February 2011 when the outstanding information will issue. [5427/11]

I can advise the Deputy that a further letter in relation to the information requested is being issued from my Office today.

Sale of Alcohol

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

224 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 310 of 25 January 2011, the position regarding same. [5428/11]

Section 14 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008 makes provision for the test purchasing of alcohol products. The primary objective of the scheme, which entered into force on 1 October 2010, is to enable An Garda Síochána to target those licensed premises which are suspected of engaging in illegal sales of alcohol to young people.

It also provides that the Minister for Justice and Law Reform shall issue guidelines in respect of the procedures to be followed with respect of the practical operation of the scheme following consultation with the Garda Commissioner and the Minister for Health and Children. I am informed by the Garda authorities that, up to 17 March, 2011, section 14 of the 2008 Act has been invoked in respect of 29 licensed premises. Statistics provided are operational and liable to change.

Visa Applications

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

225 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if persons entering the State on student visas are being required to carry €3,000 cash on their person as a result of the new regime for non-EEA students; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5431/11]

There has always been a requirement for full time non-EEA students to demonstrate access to sufficient funds to support themselves during their period of study in Ireland. In that regard from 1 April 2011 all non-EEA students will be required to demonstrate that they have access to €3,000 at first registration. The Guidelines for Degree Programme Students and the Guidelines for Language and Non-Degree Programme Students, as published on the website of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service, www.inis.gov.ie, clearly state that students must provide a bank statement, from an Irish bank, showing that they have access to €3,000 at first registration. This is a welfare condition to ensure that a student can support themselves in the initial months of their stay in Ireland. In that regard the student is not required to carry €3,000 cash on their person. This condition applies to all non-EEA students irrespective of whether or not their nationality requires a visa for the purposes of entering the State.

Asylum Applications

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

226 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if records are kept of the number of asylum seekers with a disability; the methodology used to identify the presence of a disability and the services available to asylum seekers with a disability. [5436/11]

On the question of the methodology used to identify persons with a disability, I am advised by the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner (ORAC) that information is sought from asylum applicants when completing their application questionnaire in relation to whether they have a disability or medical condition which is relevant to, or may affect their asylum application, or which would necessitate the provision of special facilities during their asylum interview. They are further queried at interview stage in relation to any issues which may inhibit their ability to engage in the refugee status determination process. In this context the Commissioner has also informed me that a number of personnel from all front line units have received disability awareness training, with the most recent training provided in September 2010.

The information requested by the Deputy in relation to the number of asylum seekers with a disability is not readily available as aggregate figures in respect of the questionnaire data are not maintained by the ORAC. All asylum seekers are provided with the same medical services as are available to the general population. Details in relation to the services available to persons with a disability are primarily a matter for the HSE.

Citizenship Applications

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

227 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding an application for citizenship in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 22; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5020/11]

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

Residency Permits

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

228 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding residency in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 24; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5022/11]

I am informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that the person referred to is the subject of a Family Reunification application made in March 2009. The case is currently under consideration by INIS. I understand that some further information is necessary in order to progress the application and INIS are in ongoing contact with the person's legal representative in this regard.

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

Asylum Applications

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

229 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the position regarding an application for residency in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cavan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5023/11]

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

He has been evading his deportation since 16 March 2010 and should he come to the notice of the Garda authorities, he would be liable to arrest and detention. He should, therefore, present himself to the Garda National Immigration Bureau without any further delay. The enforcement of the Deportation Order is an operational matter for the Garda National Immigration Bureau.

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

Grant Payments

Michael Creed

Ceist:

230 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will receive a REP scheme payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4849/11]

My Department has no record of a REPS 4 application from the person named.

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

231 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when REP scheme 4 payments will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry. [4850/11]

The person named commenced in REPS 4 on 1 April 2008 and payments have issued for the 2008 and 2009 scheme years. The 2010 REPS 4 application is currently under examination following an issue in relation to areas declared on the Single Payment application. My officials have written to the person named to resolve the issue.

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

232 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when REP scheme payments will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry. [4851/11]

The person named commenced in REPS 4 on 1 January 2010. The 2010 REPS 4 application is currently under examination following the discovery of an issue relating to re-digitisation of land parcels. My officials have written to the person named regarding the matter.

Departmental Schemes

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

233 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will uphold the recommendations of the Ombudsman in relation to the lost at sea scheme; if he will compensate a family (details supplied) as per the recommendations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4852/11]

In November 2004, a member of the family in question made a complaint to the Ombudsman that the decision to refuse his family's application under the Lost at Sea Scheme was unfair.

After extensive examination and correspondence between the various parties, the Ombudsman found for the complainant in her first draft report, and made a recommendation to award substantial monetary compensation to the family. The Ombudsman concluded that the particular family did not meet at least two of the conditions of the scheme but that it had been adversely affected by the failure of their application.

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, which assumed responsibility for fisheries and aquaculture in October 2007, rejected both the Ombudsman's findings and her recommendation to award monetary compensation in the amount specified or any amount. The Department stated that the scheme was administered fairly and that there was no basis for payment of monetary compensation as the conditions of the scheme were not met in the case of this application.

On 14 December 2009, the Ombudsman submitted a Special Report to each House of the Oireachtas in accordance with Section 6(5) and 6(7) of the Ombudsman Act 1980.

The Ombudsman's Special Report received extensive debate time in both the Dáil and in Seanad Éireann, as well as having been thoroughly analysed and considered in a series of meetings by the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and reports issued to both Houses thereon.

It was the decision of the Joint Committee that it was not in a position to recommend acceptance of the Ombudsman's special report to the Houses of the Oireachtas.

John McGuinness

Ceist:

234 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny was refused support under the agri-environment options scheme; if the person's case will be reviewed based on the fact that a genuine error was made in the application. [4853/11]

The person named submitted an application for the Agri-Environment Options Scheme on 10 May 2010.

One of the eligibility conditions of the Agri-Environmental Options Scheme requires that farmers with lands designated as Special Areas of Conservation or Special Protection Areas submit a sustainable management plan drawn up by a planner with their application. The person named farms land designated as a Special Area of Conservation and did not comply with this eligibility requirement. The person named was informed in writing that his application was not successful and advised of the appeals procedure open to him.

Grant Payments

John McGuinness

Ceist:

235 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if REP scheme payments will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny without delay. [4854/11]

The above named joined REPS 4 in June 2009 and received his year 1 payment in April 2010. Following an SPS inspection the year 2 payment has been processed and payment will issue within 10 days.

John McGuinness

Ceist:

236 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if REP scheme 4 payments will be issued in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4855/11]

The person named commenced in REPS 4 on 1 October 2009 and payment has issued for the 2009 scheme year. His 2010 REPS 4 application is currently under examination following the submission of an adjusted plan.

John McGuinness

Ceist:

237 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will expedite approval for a forestry application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; the reason for the delay in same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4856/11]

I understand that a technical afforestation (FEPS) approval issued to the person in question on 14 March 2011.

John McGuinness

Ceist:

238 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if REP scheme payments will be made in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Carlow; and if the matter will be expedited as it dates back to November 2010. [4857/11]

The above named commenced REPS 4 in December 2009 and received his year 1 payment that same month. The file is being examined by my officials.

Michael Creed

Ceist:

239 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will be paid the REP scheme 4 grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4858/11]

The person named commenced in REPS 4 on I May 2009 and has received payment for the year 2009. His 2010 payment application is being processed and payment will issue within two weeks.

Forestry Sector

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

240 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if Coillte has sold trees to any pension company; and if so, the value and the extent of the trees sold to date. [5004/11]

Since is its establishment in 1989 Coillte has sold approximately 11,500 hectares (approx 3% of its estate) of immature forests to forestry investment funds, realising €80 million.

The sale agreements confer rights on the purchaser to harvest timber at maturity. Coillte retains ownership of the land, carbon rights and other assets. Coillte also manages these forest plantations on behalf of the purchasers.

Semi-State Bodies

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

241 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will provide a guarantee that Coillte land or other assets will not be sold off in whole or in part to private investors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5011/11]

Coillte is one of 28 commercial state bodies that are currently being reviewed by the Review Group on State Assets and Liabilities chaired by Mr. Colm McCarthy. No decisions have yet been taken by the Government about the future of Coillte.

Genetically Modified Organisms

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

242 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his plans to revert to Ireland’s previous stance in the EU on GM crops and foods. [5046/11]

I wish to inform the Deputy that responsibility for issues relating to the cultivation of GM crops in Ireland rests with my colleague Mr Phil Hogan, T.D. Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government while responsibility for GM foods rests with the Minister for Health and Children Dr James Reilly, T.D. I have responsibility for issues relating to GM animal feed.

All applications for authorisation by the EU to place feed products consisting of, or containing, genetically modified ingredients on the markets of Member States will be considered on a case by case basis. However, I see no reason to impede the availability of feed products that have been deemed to be safe by EFSA.

Approval of these products will provide options for our producers and consumers, but ultimately it is they who will decide whether these products are actually used. This seems to me a balanced and rational way to deal with the issue of genetically modified feed products.

Grant Payments

Pat Breen

Ceist:

243 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when REP scheme payments will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5129/11]

The person named commenced in REPS 4 on 1 May 2008 and has received 100% payment for scheme years 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

244 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a grant for a milk parlour will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry. [5130/11]

The person named is an applicant under the Farm Improvement Scheme. Tax clearance is outstanding in relation to one of the contractors employed to carry out the investment works concerned and my Department cannot further process the payment claim until this outstanding documentation is received. My Department has been in contact with the person named regarding the matter.

Pat Breen

Ceist:

245 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food further to Parliamentary Question No. 96 of 8 December 2010, when payment will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5131/11]

An application under the 2010 Single Payment Scheme/Disadvantaged Areas Scheme was received from the person named on 13 May 2010. Payments under the 2010 Single Payment Scheme and Disadvantaged Areas Scheme have commenced nationally on 18 October 2010 and 22 September 2010 respectively.

The person named submitted an application with 8 land parcels, 4 of which required re-digitisation. My Department has completed this process. Payments under the Single Payment Scheme were made to the applicant in respect on eligible land parcels on 18 October 2010 and 1 December 2010, with the final balancing payment mad on 16 December 2010. An advance payment under the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme was made on 21 September 2010 and the balancing payment issued to the applicant on 22 December 2010.

Pat Breen

Ceist:

246 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. [5132/11]

The person named commenced REPS 4 in June 2009 and received his year 1 payment in December of that year. Payment for the 2010 year was issued to the person named on 8th March 2011.

Noel Coonan

Ceist:

247 Deputy Noel Coonan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the position regarding a dairy efficiency scheme payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; when payment will issue; the reason for the delay in issuing same; if all required documentation has been submitted in this case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5133/11]

Article 68(1) of Council Regulation (EC) 73/2009 makes provision for the use of unused Single Payment Scheme funds to address specific disadvantages affecting farmers; in recognition of dairying being an economically vulnerable type of farming, it was decided that €18 million of these unused funds would be used to support a three-year Dairy Efficiency Programme. The Programme encourages efficiency gains on dairy farms through an expansion in the level of participation in discussion groups. A total of up to €6 million per annum will be made available to eligible participants in each of 2010, 2011 and 2012.

My Department is currently in the process of reconciling the 2010 returns, with a view to establishing the precise number of eligible participants, following which the payment rate for 2010 will be established, with payments issuing shortly thereafter to those confirmed eligible. The person named is a participant in the Programme and returns received from the Group Facilitator have confirmed eligibility for payment, which will issue directly to the nominated bank account of the person named once payments commence.

Noel Coonan

Ceist:

248 Deputy Noel Coonan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the position regarding a REP scheme payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; when payment will issue; the reason for the delay in issuing same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5134/11]

The person named commenced in REPS 4 on 1 August 2008 and has received 100% payment for scheme years 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Semi-State Bodies

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

249 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his plans not to sell off our forests and woodlands in view of the fact that they are a national asset. [5160/11]

Coillte is one of 28 commercial state bodies that are currently being reviewed by the Review Group on State Assets and Liabilities chaired by Mr. Colm McCarthy. No decisions have yet been taken by the Government about the future of Coillte.

Grant Payments

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

250 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when national reserve entitlements and any other outstanding payment will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5162/11]

The person named submitted an application for consideration of an allocation of entitlements under the New Entrant category of the 2010 National Reserve. This category caters for farmers who commenced farming after 15 May 2008. Successful applicants under this category are required to meet certain criteria in relation to income limits and educational qualifications. My Department has now received confirmation from Teagasc that the person named has attained the educational qualifications required.

The person named is now eligible and has been allocated National Reserve entitlements. A letter outlining full details of the allocation has been issued to him and payment will follow shortly.

Departmental Schemes

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

251 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his plans to introduce incentives for farmers to adopt rainwater harvesting measures on their farms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5165/11]

A Rainwater Harvesting Scheme was introduced by my Department on 8 March 2011 in order to provide grant-aid for the installation of equipment for rainwater harvesting and treatment. The rate of grant-aid is 40% up to a maximum eligible investment ceiling of €25,000, i.e. a maximum grant of €10,000.

Details of the terms and conditions of the Scheme and the relevant grant application form are available on my Department's website.

Pigmeat Sector

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

252 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will take any measure to support the pig industry at present, which is in a crisis due to a severe increase in the cost of feed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5186/11]

The pig industry is a valuable component of the overall agri-food sector, and has a farm gate value in excess of €300 million. The sector supports approximately 7,000 jobs including production, slaughter, processing, feed manufacture and services and these are dispersed around the country.

Following a difficult year in 2009 prices began to recover early last year. This continued in the second quarter of the year to the extent that year on year prices exceeded 2009 levels in early July 2010. This recovery continued and, while the usual seasonal decline following the end of the barbecue season was again experienced, it was not to the same extent as in previous years. As a result, annual 2010 prices remained above 2009 levels and in the week ending 13th March, 2011 are still over 10% ahead of the same week last year. In general, Irish price movements over recent years have mirrored those of the EU as a whole.

Notwithstanding that, I am aware of the acute difficulties currently being experienced by the pig sector in Ireland and elsewhere.

The biggest issue for producers at the moment remains feed costs, most notably cereals and compound feed and this is an EU and indeed a global issue.

Difficulties in maintaining credit facilities with suppliers and banks are exacerbating this situation. My Department met with the Irish Banking Federation in January and impressed upon them the necessity of improving and maintaining the credit flow to pig farmers.

There have also been a number of initiatives taken at EU level, following calls from Ireland and other Member States for support for the sector. The Aids to Private Storage scheme introduced in January 2011 has helped to underpin an upward trend in price and the Irish producer price is approximately €135/100kgs at present. This scheme, having taken 142,000 tonnes of pigmeat off the market, was suspended with effect from 22 February.

Furthermore, at February's meeting of the Management Committee for the Common Organisation of the Agricultural Markets (Animal Products Sector) Member States agreed to temporarily suspend import duties on certain cereals for the 2010/2011 marketing year. This decision, and the decision to release of significant volumes of cereals from EU intervention stocks, were intended to alleviate upward pressure on cereal prices.

In addition my officials are contributing to the work of the EU Commission's Enlarged Advisory Group on Pigmeat, which will have its final meeting in April with a discussion on market measures, before reaching conclusions. Ireland was among the Member States that called for the establishment of this Group.

I am convinced that the pigmeat sector in Ireland has a very positive future. Increasing global population and the emergence of new markets in the Far East and elsewhere will result in a steady increase in the demand for pigmeat worldwide in the period to 2020. The key challenge for the sector in Ireland is to position itself to take advantage of this opportunity.

For my part, I can assure the Deputy that at EU level I will continue to highlight the difficulties being experienced in the pig sector at present, and to seek the deployment of appropriate market supports as required, and that domestically, it is my firm intention to ensure that all of the stakeholders in this very important sector act in a collaborative way to implement the recommendations of the Food Harvest 2020 Report in order to secure the long term viability of the sector.

Grant Payments

John O'Mahony

Ceist:

253 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive the payment for REP scheme 4; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5189/11]

Having completed REPS 3, the person named began REPS 4 in January 2010. An issue has arisen in relation to the area claimed by the person named under in the REPS 4 application. The file is currently under examination and my officials will be in contact with the person named when this examination is complete.

John McGuinness

Ceist:

254 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if REP scheme payments will be paid in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny [5212/11]

The person named commenced in REPS 4 on 1 June 2009 and has received payment for 2009. The 2010 REPS 4 application is being examined, following an issue arising from a cross-check with Single Payment application of the person named.

John O'Mahony

Ceist:

255 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the number of the 2,897 farmers in County Mayo currently in REP scheme four who have received their full payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5222/11]

To date, 1,808 REPS 4 farmers in County Mayo have received their full 2010 payment. A further 29 have received 75% of their payment. Processing of REPS 4 files continues and payments are being made on an ongoing basis.

Ministerial Staff

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

256 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the arrangements he has put in place for constituency offices within his Department. [5226/11]

The Government has established new guidelines on staffing of Ministerial offices, including a Minister's Constituency Office. These guidelines provide that the number of staff in a Minister's Constituency offices may not exceed four. In the case of a Minister of State's constituency offices the number of staff may not exceed three.

I will finalise my Constituency Office arrangements in the very near future in accordance with the guidelines.

Ministerial Responsibilities

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

257 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the specific powers he intends to delegate to Ministers of State in his Department. [5245/11]

Preparations are being made to delegate responsibilities for food, food safety, horticulture, the thoroughbred horse racing and breeding industry and the greyhound industry to Minister of State McEntee.

The legal instrument giving effect to these delegated functions will be published in due course.

Grant Payments

John O'Mahony

Ceist:

258 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a decision will issue on an appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5261/11]

An application under the 2010 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme was received from the person named on 14 May 2010.

The Terms and Conditions governing the Scheme require, inter alia, that applicants maintain a minimum stocking density on their holding of 0.15 livestock units per forage hectare declared, for at least three consecutive months, during the calendar year of application. However, where the holding of an applicant is identified as not meeting this minimum requirement, the person in question is invited to submit evidence of satisfactory stocking i.e. Flock Register, Horse Passports or details of a REPS or Commonage Framework Plan, which provides for a lower stocking level. The person named submitted his flock register to my Department and following further examination, it was revealed that the person named did not maintain the minimum stocking density for the required three consecutive month period and, therefore, does not qualify for payment under the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme.

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

259 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when REP scheme payments will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5269/11]

The person named commenced in REPS 4 on 1 May 2008 and payments have issued for year 1 and year 2. His 2010 REPS 4 application is currently under examination following the submission of an adjusted plan.

Fertilizer Prices

Michael Creed

Ceist:

260 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in view of the increasing price of fertiliser the possibility he sees for the re-establishment of a fertiliser manufacturing industry here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5280/11]

In 2002, Irish Fertiliser Industries ceased manufacturing inorganic fertiliser in Ireland as it was no longer considered to be a financially viable industry.

All inorganic fertiliser used is now imported and blended in Ireland.

The main raw materials required to produce fertilisers are natural gas for the manufacture of ammonia, rock phosphate for the production of phosphate fertilisers, and potash.

In comparison to the major fertiliser producing regions, Ireland would be at a significant cost disadvantage regarding fertiliser production.

Milk Quota

Michael Creed

Ceist:

261 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the initiative he proposes regarding the looming financial crisis in the dairy sector for farmers who are over quota for the milk year; the contacts which he has initiated at European level on this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5281/11]

At the outset I want to emphasise that of course the primary responsibility for producing within quota and ensuring the avoidance of super levy rests with every individual milk producer. It is up to dairy farmers, who are familiar with the rules of the quota regime, to make the right decisions and protect themselves from exposure to potentially very damaging fines. The rules are very clear, and were confirmed as recently as last December by the European Commission.

Having said that, I want to see a soft landing for farmers in Ireland and in other Member States. My officials have raised the matter with the commission on a number of occasions in recent months, and I used the opportunity provided by my attendance at the Council of Agriculture Ministers last week to ask the Commission to consider whether a more flexible approach might be adopted for the limited number of Member States, including Ireland, likely to have a super levy problem in the run up to 2015. I also raised the matter in a bilateral meeting I had with Commissioner Ciolos prior to the Council meeting. I intend to continue to raise the issue with Member State colleagues and with the Commission. However, the Commission has resisted attempts to revisit this issue, and there is, in any event, no guarantee that a majority of Member States will support calls for a more flexible milk quota regime. Therefore Irish dairy farmers must continue to operate on the assumption that no further changes will be made to the quota arrangements agreed in the context of the CAP Health Check.

Michael Creed

Ceist:

262 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if in view of the changing profile of dairy farmers he will reconsider the definition of category A and category B milk suppliers which govern entitlement to flexi-milk; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5282/11]

All aspects of the milk quota regime are subject to ongoing review by my Department, in consultation with the relevant stakeholders. In the coming weeks a number of matters will be discussed with the Milk Quota Review Group, and while discussion will focus in particular on the outcome of this year's Milk Quota Trading Scheme, the operation of flexi-milk and other schemes will also form part of those discussions.

Grant Payments

John O'Mahony

Ceist:

263 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive their REP scheme 4 payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5283/11]

The person named commenced REPS 4 on 1 February 2008. He received his first year's payment in 2009 and his second early in 2010. His REPS 4 2010 payment will issue within two weeks.

John Deasy

Ceist:

264 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the reason a person (details supplied) in County Waterford who received payment under the suckler welfare scheme in 2008 has not received any payment for 2009 or 2010; if he will have the matter examined; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5365/11]

The person named registered 16 animals for 2009 and 12 animals for 2010 under the Suckler Welfare Scheme. Under the Terms and Conditions of the Scheme, a gradual weaning procedure must be followed for herd of more than 10 suckler cows. Calves must be weaned in at least two separate groups with each group being removed with a minimum interval of five days between the removal of the first group and the last group.

The person named weaned all his 2009 born animals on 10 November 2009 and all his 2010 born animals on 20 September 2010. As this practice contravened the requirements of both the 2009 and 2010 Schemes, payment could not be made to the applicant. The person named was written to by my Department advising him of the decision and informing him of his right to seek a review of this decision.

Michael Creed

Ceist:

265 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will receive a singe farm payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5429/11]

An application under the Single Payment Scheme/Disadvantaged Area Scheme was received from the person named on 13 May 2010. This application was selected for a Ground Eligibility and Full Cross Compliance inspection.

During the ground inspection discrepancies were found in relation to parcels H15505001, H15505040, H15505021, H15505041 and H15505064 in that these parcels were not being farmed or managed by the person named. The claimed area for the Single Payment Scheme of 21.34ha was reduced to 6.54ha. As there is an over declaration of over 50%, no payment will be made under the Single Payment Scheme for 2010 and an administrative fine equivalent to the amount of aid payable on the difference between the area declared and the area found will be deducted from any payment due in the subsequent three years.

Under the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme 21.13ha was claimed, of which 14.85ha was Mountain Disadvantaged Area and 6.28ha was Less Severely Disadvantaged Area. At inspection, no eligible area was found for Mountain Disadvantaged Area and 6.54ha was found for Less Severely Disadvantaged and 6.28ha was put forward for payment.

The person named was informed of these findings on the 17 January 2011 and of his right to seek a review of this decision within 21 days and of his right to appeal the outcome of any such review to the Independent Agriculture Appeals Office.

To date no review has been sought.

Michael Creed

Ceist:

266 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will receive payment under the farm waste management scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5432/11]

The person named has received two instalments of grant-aid under the Farm Waste Management Scheme. However, a decision on payment of the final instalment of 20% due under the Scheme has been deferred pending the completion of an investigation into the status of part of the supporting documentation submitted with the payment claim concerned. No decision will be taken in relation to payment/recoupment of the grant concerned until this investigation is completed.

Departmental Offices

Sean Conlan

Ceist:

267 Deputy Seán Conlan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when the decision was made to close his Department’s DVO office in Ballybay, County Monaghan; if he will now examine and review this decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5444/11]

The Local Office Reorganisation Plan was announced by Government on 15 July 2009. Under the plan 58 local offices are to be reduced in number to 16 enhanced regional offices to improve delivery of my Department's services by widening services to include District Veterinary, Forestry and Agricultural Environment and Structures support services at all regional offices, thereby concentrating resources and professional expertise with greater effect and more efficiently.

Since this announcement of the plan on 15 July 2009 my Department has been implementing the rationalisation in a phased basis. The final phase, phase 4 of 4, which includes the DVO based at Ballybay, is to be implemented within the next two months which will see the closure of the public offices in Ballybay. However the Ballybay office will remain in operation dealing with non-DVO related business.

Departmental Schemes

Michael Creed

Ceist:

268 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the process used by him for the distribution of cheese to voluntary organisations and persons; the safeguards in place to ensure that the scheme is not abused; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4946/11]

I consider the Charity Scheme, which is funded by the European Commission, to be an important means of contributing towards the well-being of the poorer citizens of the community. The procedures for implementing the scheme in each member state are set out in Commission Regulation (EU) No. 807/2010.

In Ireland the product is made available to charitable organisations for distribution to those in need. A declaration signed by a Garda, a Peace Commissioner or a Member of the clergy, must be made by each charity confirming their charitable status and their intended use of the product. Charities make an application to my Department for their required amount of product and their preferred location for collection and my officials make a decision based on the application received.

Records are kept by the charities of the use and distribution of the product which are subject to an annual risk based audit by officials of my Department. The latest tranche of product made up of 110 tonnes of Cheddar Cheese is now available for distribution to charities from cold stores located in Cork, Waterford, Dublin, Portlaoise and Sligo.

Semi-State Bodies

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

269 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if the proposed merger of Coillte and Bord na Móna in a new biotechnology company will entail either company selling any of the land currently under its control; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5003/11]

The merger of Coillte and Bord na Móna forms part of the Programme for Government and will be a matter for consideration by the Government.

In addition, Coillte and Bord na Móna are among 28 commercial state bodies that are currently being reviewed by a Review Group on State Assets and Liabilities chaired by Mr. Colm McCarthy. No decisions have been taken by the Government about these companies.

Grant Payments

Michael Creed

Ceist:

270 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will receive payment in respect of his REP scheme 4 application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5007/11]

The above named began REPS 4 in June 2009 and received his first year payment in April 2010. Following an inspection relating to his second year payment the file is currently under examination. My officials have contacted the person named and are awaiting a reply.

Care of the Elderly

Niall Collins

Ceist:

271 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Health and Children the mechanism that will be put in place to coordinate policy in relation to older persons. [5208/11]

I would like to reassure the Deputy that policy in relation to older persons is a priority for the Government. As positive, active, healthy ageing must not be considered to be solely a health issue, it is a matter for every Minister to consider the wide range of issues which directly impact on the lives of older people and on the ageing process. While policy in relation to the health services is a matter for me as Minister, I would also like to remind the Deputy that I intend to complete the National Positive Ageing Strategy which will establish the strategic framework for future policies, programmes and services for older people in Ireland. It is envisaged that the National Positive Ageing Strategy will set out a common framework for the development of operational plans by Government Departments clearly setting out their objectives relating to older people, as well as the development of ongoing mechanisms designed to monitor progress and identify challenges facing older people in the future.

Health Services

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

272 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when speech and language therapy will be offered to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4866/11]

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

Medical Cards

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

273 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a medical card will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4867/11]

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

Health Services

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

274 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when ongoing six weeks on, six weeks off, speech and language therapy will be offered to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4868/11]

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

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

275 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when orthodontic treatment will be offered to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4869/11]

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

Medical Cards

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

276 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding an application for a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 2; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4870/11]

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

Health Services

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

277 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will be referred for orthodontic treatment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4871/11]

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

Hospital Services

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

278 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Health and Children his plans to restore breast cancer services to Sligo General Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4873/11]

I am committed to putting quality at the heart of our healthcare system and to ensuring that quality and optimal care are paramount in decisions about the provision of services throughout the health system. I will shortly meet Dr Susan O'Reilly, Director of the National Cancer Control Programme, to discuss a range of strategic issues in relation to cancer services, including the provision of breast cancer services at Sligo General Hospital.

Medical Cards

John McGuinness

Ceist:

279 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if a medical card will be approved and issued in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [4875/11]

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

Health Services

John McGuinness

Ceist:

280 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if an early appointment will be arranged in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny and if he will expedite the matter. [4876/11]

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

Medical Cards

John McGuinness

Ceist:

281 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if a medical card will be issued immediately in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [4877/11]

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

John McGuinness

Ceist:

282 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if a medical card will be granted in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny and if the matter will be expedited. [4878/11]

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

Medical Aids and Appliances

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

283 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when custom shoes will be provided in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4879/11]

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

Hospital Charges

John McGuinness

Ceist:

284 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will expedite a response to the review of inpatient charges in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Carlow, and ensure the arrangements that are in place continue; and if he will specify a timeframe for the decision. [4880/11]

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

Medical Cards

John McGuinness

Ceist:

285 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if a medical card will be approved on appeal for a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; the reason care was granted and then withdrawn after a short period; and if he will expedite a response. [4881/11]

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

John McGuinness

Ceist:

286 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if a full medical card will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if a response will be expedited. [4882/11]

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

John McGuinness

Ceist:

287 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if a full medical card will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; the reason the card was not issued on renewal in view of the fact that their case for the card was already established when the original card was issued; if their spouse will also be included on the card in view of the fact that they too have medical problems; and if she will expedite the matter. [4883/11]

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

Hospital Services

John McGuinness

Ceist:

288 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if an operation will be arranged as a matter of urgency in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Carlow; and if he will expedite the matter. [4884/11]

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

Medical Cards

John McGuinness

Ceist:

289 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if a medical card will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if he will expedite the matter. [4885/11]

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

John McGuinness

Ceist:

290 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if a full medical card will be issued on appeal to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if he will expedite the matter. [4886/11]

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

John McGuinness

Ceist:

291 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if a full medical card will be issued in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if the matter will be expedited. [4887/11]

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

John McGuinness

Ceist:

292 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will review an application for a medical card which was refused in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny with a view to granting the card immediately. [4888/11]

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

John McGuinness

Ceist:

293 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if a medical card will be issued as a matter of urgency in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Carlow; and if the matter will be expedited. [4889/11]

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

John McGuinness

Ceist:

294 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if a medical card will be issued immediately on appeal to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [4890/11]

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

Health Services

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

295 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when dental services will be offered to persons (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4891/11]

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

Health Service Allowances

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

296 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when mobility allowance will be granted to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4892/11]

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

Medical Cards

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

297 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a medical card application will be reviewed in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4893/11]

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

Health Services

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

298 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when long-term care will be offered to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4894/11]

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

Home Help Service

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

299 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if an increase in home help hours will be organised in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4895/11]

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

Health Services

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

300 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if an earlier appointment will be offered to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4897/11]

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

Hospital Services

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

301 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if an earlier hospital appointment will be offered to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4898/11]

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

Health Services

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

302 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children if an earlier appointment will be offered to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4899/11]

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

Hospital Accommodation

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

303 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children when a hospital bed will be arranged in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4900/11]

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

Child Care Services

Olivia Mitchell

Ceist:

304 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will ensure that the seven school leavers from a school (details supplied) in County Dublin will in fact have a day service available to them next September; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4945/11]

As this matter relates to service matters, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Prescription Charges

Niall Collins

Ceist:

305 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) who has a long-term illness card must pay the 50 cent charge on prescription items. [4994/11]

Medical card holders are required to pay a 50 cent charge for medicines and other prescription items supplied to them by community pharmacists, subject to a cap of €10 per month for each person or family. Charges are not payable in respect of items supplied under the Long Term Illness Scheme.

It is my intention, subject to Government approval, to introduce legislation to abolish prescription charges for medical card holders.

Medical Cards

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

306 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a medical card application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan; if he will ensure that this application is processed as quickly as possible; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5068/11]

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

Health Services

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

307 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the motorised transport grant application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan; if he will ensure that this application is processed as quickly as possible; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5069/11]

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

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

308 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding treatment in respect of a person (details supplied). [5103/11]

I have no role to play in the day to day operations of the VHI or any private health insurance company, including decisions in respect of treatment abroad.

If the individual in question is not satisfied with the decisions made in this case, they may contact the Health Insurance Authority (www.hia.ie — Canal House, Canal Road, Dublin 6, Lo-Call 1850 929 166).

Medical Cards

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

309 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a medical card appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9. [5118/11]

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

Health Services

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

310 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will provide adequate resources in respect of an organisation (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [5119/11]

I have responsibility for the implementation of the National Childcare Investment Programme 2006-2010 (NCIP) which included a capital grant programme to develop childcare facilities. I also have responsibility for implementing the free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme, which provides capitation funding to pre-school services providers participating in the free pre-school scheme.

The organisation in question was successful in its application for capital funding under the NCIP and funding amounting to €960,000 has been approved to assist the organisation in developing a childcare facility. I understand that more than €300,000 of this funding has been drawn down to date. The organisation in question is participating in the ECCE programme, which was introduced in January 2010. I understand that capitation funding amounting to €42,525 has been paid to the organisation to date in respect of the pre-school year which commenced in September 2010. A further payment in respect of the final term of this pre-school year is due to be paid to the organisation shortly.

Hospital Services

Sean Fleming

Ceist:

311 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Health and Children when a scan will be scheduled in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Laois; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5120/11]

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

Health Services

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

312 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding support for a family (details supplied) in County Dublin. [5121/11]

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

Home Help Service

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

313 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding home support in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [5122/11]

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

Health Services

Pat Breen

Ceist:

314 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 356 of 12 January 2011, the reason hours have been reduced in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5123/11]

I understand that the Health Service Executive responded to the Deputy's previous question in a reply dated 22 February 2011. My Department has asked the HSE to update the Deputy in relation to the child referred to in his question.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

315 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will support the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9. [5125/11]

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

Mental Health Services

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

316 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will make mental health a priority in 2011. [5126/11]

The Government for national recovery has prioritised the reform of the mental health service in line with ‘A Vision for Change’.

Home Help Service

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

317 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will support the case of persons (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [5127/11]

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

Health Service Allowances

Noel Coonan

Ceist:

318 Deputy Noel Coonan asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a back-to-school clothing and footwear payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; when payment will issue; the reason for the delay in issuing same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5128/11]

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

Medical Cards

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

319 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied). [5136/11]

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

Prescription Charges

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

320 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding prescription charges in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [5138/11]

Medical card holders are required to pay a 50 cent charge for medicines and other prescription items supplied to them by community pharmacists, subject to a cap of €10 per month for each person or family. It is my intention, subject to Government approval, to introduce legislation to abolish prescription charges for medical card holders.

Health Services

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

321 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding funding in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [5139/11]

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

Medical Cards

Jack Wall

Ceist:

322 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a medical card appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5145/11]

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

National Lottery Funding

John McGuinness

Ceist:

323 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will expedite consideration of an application for funding in respect of an organisation (details supplied) in County Waterford. [5156/11]

My Department has received an application for funding from the 2011 National Lottery allocation from the organisation in question. This is one of a large number currently being assessed by my Department, and the Deputy will be informed of the outcome of the application as soon as a decision has been made.

Hospitals Building Programme

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

324 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will support the proposed dedicated 34-bed cystic fibrosis unit at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin. [5190/11]

A new ward block to replace existing accommodation is being developed at St Vincent's University Hospital and this will provide single room en-suite inpatient accommodation and a dedicated day unit for people with CF, including 12 single day treatment rooms with en-suite sanitary facilities.

I am wholly committed to the completion of this project, and together with St Vincent's University Hospital and the HSE, we are taking every possible step in order to ensure earliest possible delivery of the new ward block.

This new building will provide 100 new inpatient beds in total. It will accommodate the needs of patients with cystic fibrosis and many other patients whose medical requirements necessitate single en suite facilities. This reflects best practice in terms of infection control.

Completion for service delivery is expected in early 2012. The project is on track and within budget.

There are currently 63 beds at St. Vincent's Hospital used for respiratory/cystic fibrosis services. The physical infrastructure has been significantly enhanced through the refurbishment in 2008 of accommodation to provide eight single en suite rooms for the exclusive use of people with cystic fibrosis.

The hospital's management works closely with the cystic fibrosis clinicians to ensure that the needs of cystic fibrosis patients requiring inpatient treatment are met within the overall bed complement at the hospital. The hospital currently treats over 50% of the CF adult population.

The HSE is now working with St. Vincent's to identify opportunities for patients who do not require tertiary level care to be treated close to home where adult services have been developed in the other specialist centres.

Medical Cards

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

325 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3. [5191/11]

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

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

326 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason persons in receipt of medical cards are not allowed to move to another doctor (details supplied). [5192/11]

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

Health Services

Jack Wall

Ceist:

327 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the delivery of dental care at a health centre (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5195/11]

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

Hospital Services

John McGuinness

Ceist:

328 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if an early appointment will be arranged in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Waterford. [5213/11]

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

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

329 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Kerry may expect to have a scan carried out at Kerry General Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5225/11]

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

Ministerial Staff

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

330 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the arrangements he has put in place for constituency offices within his Department. [5235/11]

As yet I have not made any such arrangements, but will do so in the near future. All arrangements made will fully comply with recent decisions of the Government to reduce the overall staffing levels of both private and constituency offices for both Ministers and Ministers of State.

Departmental Functions

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Ceist:

331 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Health and Children the details of all administrative responsibilities which will be solely under the direction of the Minister for Children. [5243/11]

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

342 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the instructions he has given concerning the formal establishment of his Department and the time scales likely to be involved. [5381/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 331 and 342 together.

Transfers of Departmental functions are carried out by Government Order under powers contained in section 6(1) of the Ministers and Secretaries (Amendment) Act 1939, while in some cases primary legislation may be needed. My officials, in co-operation with officials who will be assigned to the new Department of Children, are fully engaged in this task at present.

Relevant instruments will need to be finalised and settled in the Office of Parliamentary Counsel before they can be brought to Government and until all the relevant details are worked out, it is not possible to provide full details of the responsibilities and functions that will be allocated to the new Department.

Ministerial Responsibilities

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

332 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health and Children the specific powers he intends to delegate to Ministers of State in his Department. [5254/11]

Ministers of State have been appointed at my Department as follows:

Ms Roisin Shortall, T.D. has responsibility for Primary Care, and

Ms Kathleen Lynch, T.D. has responsibility for Disability, Equality and Mental Health (her remit is shared between my Department and the Department of Justice, Equality and Defence).

The precise details of the functions that will be encompassed by the above assignments have not yet been finalised but this is being addressed as a priority and the position will be clarified as soon as possible.

Services for People with Disabilities

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

333 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will support the case of a group (details supplied) which is seeking therapy services for persons with special needs. [5267/11]

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

Health Services

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

334 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a care plan in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3. [5270/11]

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

Preschool Services

Michael Creed

Ceist:

335 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will consider granting greater flexibility to parents and preschool operators with regard to the age criteria at which children are eligible for the free preschool year; the consultations, if any, which he has had with parents or the representatives of preschool operators on this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5279/11]

The free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme, which was introduced in January 2010, provides for a free pre-school year to eligible children in the year before they commence primary school.

Approximately 4,300 pre-school 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 pre-school year. Children qualify for the free pre-school year where they are aged more than 3 years 2 months and less than 4 years 7 months in September of the relevant year. This means that children born between 2 February 2006 and 30 June 2007 were eligible for the free pre-school year which commenced in September 2010 and children born between 2 February 2007 and 30 June 2008 will be eligible in September 2011. There is no provision under the scheme to enrol children who are below the qualifying age.

The scheme includes 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.

The objective of the ECCE scheme is to make early learning in a formal setting available to all children in the year before they commence primary school. Services participating in the pre-school year are expected to provide appropriate age related activities and programmes to children within a particular age cohort. It is necessary, therefore, to target the pre-school year at a particular age cohort and to set minimum and maximum limits to the age range within which children participate in the scheme. In setting the minimum and maximum age limits, account was taken of a number of factors, including the variation in school admission policies and the fact that the majority of children commence primary school between the ages of 4 years 6 months and 5 years 6 months.

Medical Cards

John McGuinness

Ceist:

336 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children if a medical card will be issued immediately in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if he will expedite the matter. [5301/11]

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

Nursing Homes Support Scheme

Pat Breen

Ceist:

337 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 220 of 18 January 2011, the position regarding an application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5302/11]

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

Medical Cards

Jack Wall

Ceist:

338 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children when a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will receive their valid medical cards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5325/11]

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

Services for People with Disabilities

Billy Timmins

Ceist:

339 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding concerns of mothers of autistic children (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5366/11]

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

Health Insurance

Ceist:

340 Deputy Michael P. Kitt asked the Minister for Health and Children the time scale he envisages for action on risk equalisation in the current health insurance market; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5375/11]

The Government is committed to protecting a community rated private health insurance market through a range of measures including risk equalisation. A system of risk equalisation is particularly necessary in the Irish market because, for historical reasons, one of the insurers, VHI, has a greatly disproportionate share of older customers. VHI has a 64% share of the private health insurance market but an 82% share of the over 60 years age group and a 92% share of the over 80 years age group.

A risk equalisation scheme was put in place by legislation but following a challenge by BUPA, the scheme was struck down by the Supreme Court in July 2008. In response, a temporary scheme of tax relief/community rating levy was introduced in January 2009. This provides a significant degree of support for the cost of health insurance claims by older people. It allows insurers, with additional costs arising from insuring older people, to be compensated for up to, but no more than, 65% of a proportion of these additional costs. The scheme is designed to be Exchequer neutral and by the end of 2011 it is estimated that some €159m will have been transferred to the VHI in respect of its higher risks. This is a key action to help protect community rating pending the introduction of a full risk equalisation scheme.

The Government is preparing to put in place a risk equalisation scheme that will equalise risk as far as possible, including in relation to the key risk factors of age, health status and gender. The scheme will be designed to be legally robust and to be fully in accordance with the requirements of both Irish and European law. It will replace the existing temporary scheme and will be put in place as soon as possible.

Departmental Staff

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

341 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health and Children who is the Accounting Officer of his Department. [5380/11]

The Secretary General, Mr Michael Scanlan, is the Accounting Officer for the Department of Health and Children.

Question No. 342 answered with Question No. 331.

Medicinal Products

Olivia Mitchell

Ceist:

343 Deputy Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Health and Children if the drug Herceptin is available to cancer patients on a needs basis or if there is a finite budget for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5382/11]

I have asked the Health Service Executive to confirm the position to me and will revert to the Deputy as soon as I receive the information.

Health Services

Pat Breen

Ceist:

344 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No 204 of 18 January 2011 the position regarding an application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5388/11]

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

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

345 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 161, 162 and 245 of 29 June 2010, when a reply will issue from the Health Service Executive. [5424/11]

My Department has been advised by the HSE that a response will be issued to the Deputy on the 23rd of March 2011, and that an email will be sent to the Deputy to advise of this on that date.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

346 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No. 164 of 29 June 2010, when the outstanding information will issue from the Health Service Executive. [5425/11]

My Department has been advised by the HSE that a response was issued to the Deputy on 14th March 2011, and that an email was sent to the Deputy to advise of this on that date.

Departmental Correspondence

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

347 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children further to Parliamentary Question No 222 of 29 June 2010 and 151 of 3 November 2010, when a reply will issue from the Health Service Executive. [5426/11]

My Department has made further enquiries of the HSE regarding a progress report on the matters referred to by the Deputy and a response is still awaited. I will revert to the Deputy on receipt of this report.

Child Care Services

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

348 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children his plans to fund a missing children’s 116000 hotline number. [5434/11]

The Office of the Minister for Children has been involved in ongoing discussions with other Government Departments and NGOs in relation to the development of a hotline for missing children. However the issue of the children who go missing is a matter for the Garda Síochána.

Constitutional Amendment on Children

Ceist:

349 Deputy Michael P. Kitt asked the Minister for Health and Children his plans to have a constitutional referendum on children’s rights in October 2011 with the presidential election; if the office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, the office of the Ombudsman for Children and the post of special rapporteur for child protection will be strengthened; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5441/11]

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs presented a copy of the third and final report of the Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children to Cabinet in March 2010. The Cabinet decided that, in view of the complex nature of the issues involved, all Ministers and Government Departments, as well as the Attorney General, should consider the report and examine the implications of the proposed wording for their individual areas of responsibility. A new wording, which takes into account the proposals put forward by the Committee, and concerns which have arisen, has been drafted by the Attorney General's Office with policy support provided by the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs.

On January 12th, the Government approved the policy objectives now proposed for the amendment of the Constitution in relation to Children's Rights; the wording for the referendum; the drafting of a referendum bill. It was envisaged that a referendum would be held on the same day as the General Election based on Departmental assumptions of a General Election date of 25th March. However the bringing forward of that date meant that a referendum was not logistically possible.

The Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs is giving consideration to the following tasks in preparation for the holding of a referendum possibly in conjunction with the Presidential Election later this year; drafting of a referendum bill; preparation of a policy paper on the adoption legislation proposals; undertaking research into public awareness and understanding of the issues involved. There are currently no plans to expand on the Offices mentioned by the Deputy.

Health Services

John McGuinness

Ceist:

350 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding plans to deliver palliative care services in the south east and in particular the provision of a hospice in Kilkenny city through the assistance of a fund (details supplied); the time line for delivery of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4991/11]

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

Medical Cards

Joe Costello

Ceist:

351 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will reconsider his decision to refuse to renew the medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5055/11]

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

Joe Costello

Ceist:

352 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will reconsider his decision to refuse to renew the medical card in view of new information provided in their appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 7; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5056/11]

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

Health Services

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

353 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children the financial supports available to a person (details supplied). [5065/11]

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

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

354 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children his views on a matter (details supplied). [5066/11]

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

National Car Test

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

355 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Transport if he will review the decision to introduce an annual national car test for vehicles of ten years of age or older; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5187/11]

My predecessor approved the introduction of an annual national car test for vehicles of ten years of age or over in August 2009. This measure was introduced on foot of road safety concerns. The annual national car test is due to commence on 1st June of this year. I have no plans at this stage to review this matter.

Ministerial Staff

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

356 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Transport the arrangements he has put in place for constituency offices within his Department. [5240/11]

The final arrangements for constituency offices in my Department have not yet been completed. Following the decision of the Government on 15 March 2011, there will be no more than four staff in my constituency office and no more than three staff each in the constituency offices of the Ministers of State at my Department, Minister Kelly and Minister Ring.

It should be noted that this marks a considerable reduction from the levels of staffing permitted under the previous government where there were a maximum of six staff in each Minister of Government's office and four in each Minister of State's constituency office. The reduction in staff assigned to Ministers' private and constituency offices is in the order of 25% and sets a good example for Government Departments and Agencies seeking to implement reductions in staff under the Croke Park Agreement and Programme for Government.

Ministerial Responsibilities

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

357 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Transport the specific powers he intends to delegate to Ministers of State in his Department. [5259/11]

At the Government meeting on the 10th of March, Alan Kelly TD was appointed Minister for State at my Department with specific responsibility for Public and Commuter Transport. Michael Ring TD was appointed Minister for State with specific responsibility for Tourism and Sport. Statutory delegation of specific functions will take place over the coming weeks.

Local Authority Services

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

358 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Transport his plans to instruct all local authorities to cease filling in potholes with tar and chips and alternatively to repair damaged roads with macadam type surfaces which are much more durable and which provide much better value for money; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5287/11]

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

361 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Transport his plans to instruct local authorities to cease the traditional practice of surface dressing with tar and chips on roads that were never surfaced with a macadam surface and replace this with a practice of laying macadam surface first and over-laying this surface with tar and chips; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5290/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 358 and 361 together.

As the Deputy will be aware, the improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of each local authority, in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from local authorities own resources and are supplemented by State road grants. The initial selection and prioritisation of projects to be funded is also a matter for the local authority.

Local authorities have been provided with a number of best practice documents and are required to follow the guidelines in these documents when carrying out grant aided works on regional and local roads. These best practice documents are available on the Department's website www.transport.ie.

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

359 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Transport if local authorities will be permitted to reprioritise the roads programme this year in view of the damage caused by the severe winter weather to enable work to be carried out on the roads that have suffered most damage this winter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5288/11]

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

360 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Transport the criteria that has been laid down that minimum lengths of road have to be resurfaced out of face will be rescinded so that the roads that have suffered most damage in the recent bad weather can be repaired; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5289/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 359 and 360 together.

As the Deputy will be aware, the improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of each local authority, in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from local authorities own resources and are supplemented by State road grants. The initial selection and prioritisation of projects to be funded is also a matter for the local authority.

Local authorities have been provided with a number of best practice documents and are required to follow the guidelines in these documents when carrying out grant aided works on regional and local roads. These best practice documents are available on the Department's website www.transport.ie.

Question No. 361 answered with Question No. 358.

Rail Network

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

362 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Transport the progress that has been made with the planning of the re-development of the western rail corridor from Athenry to Tuam, County Galway; the funds approved for this work; when this planning work will conclude; when construction will begin on this section of line; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5293/11]

In November 2010, the National Recovery Plan set out new capital budgets for the Department of Transport in the period 2011-2014. The new allocations mean that it will not now be possible to meet the original timeline for all Transport 21 projects.

Under the plan, there is provision for some initial planning and design for Phase 2 of the Western Rail Corridor but further progress will be dependent on a review of the performance of Phase 1 and a full economic assessment of Phase 2.

In this regard, my Department has received an application for funding from Iarnród Eireann for the detailed design and tender preparation stage for Phase 2, Athenry to Tuam.

This will be considered in light of revised priorities having regard to the new Programme for Government including, in particular, the proposed new National Development Plan 2012-2019.

Road Network

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

363 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Transport when work is due to commence on the Gort to Tuam motorway project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5294/11]

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

Noting this I have referred the Deputy's question to the NRA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you don't receive a reply within 10 working days.

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

364 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Transport his plans regarding the Galway city bypass; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5295/11]