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 17, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 18 to 37, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 38 to 46, inclusive, answered orally.

Defence Forces Personnel

Robert Troy

Ceist:

47 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Defence if he is still committed to ensuring that at least 10% of the Defence Forces will be women as set out in Fine Gael’s election manifesto; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8385/11]

The Government is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for men and women throughout the Defence Forces and to the full participation by women in all aspects of Defence Forces activities. Unlike many other national armed forces, the Defence Forces have no restrictions as regards the assignment of men or women to the full range of operational and administrative duties. All promotions and career courses are open to both genders on merit. The Defence Forces prides itself on providing a gender neutral working environment. Policies on equality are being constantly communicated to all ranks. The military authorities are alert and vigilant to this issue and are committed to addressing this matter in a continuing and proactive manner.

The number of female personnel serving in the Permanent Defence Force on 31 March 2011, the last date for which figures are available, was 572, of which 472 were serving in the Army, 32 in the Air Corps and 68 in the Naval Service. In terms of ranks the breakdown of female personnel serving on 31 March 2011 was 149 Officers, 168 Non Commissioned Officers and 255 Privates. The percentage of female personnel serving on 31 March was 5.90% of the overall strength of the Force on that date. I have asked my officials in consultation with the Military authorities, to consider what other initiatives might be further considered to support an increase in the number of female personnel serving in the Permanent Defence Force.

Public Sector Staff

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

48 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Taoiseach the size and relative percentage of the workplace represented by public sector jobs here from 2001 to 2011; the way this compares with the similar figures for our 26 EU partner nations throughout the same decade; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8226/11]

The Earnings, Hours and Employment Costs Survey (EHECS) is the official source of estimates of the number of employees in the public sector. Prior to the introduction of EHECS to all sectors of the economy in 2008 employment estimates were produced from a separate quarterly public sector survey. The data from these two sources differed slightly in coverage but they have been combined to estimate a comparable employment series from Q4 2001 up to Q4 2010, the latest period for which estimates are available. These estimates are presented in table 1 below.

Also presented are the estimated total number of employees in the state from the Quarterly National Household Survey. These estimates have been derived excluding commercial semi-State employment so as to be as close as possible to the definition of the ‘General Government Sector' as utilised in the compilation of the National Accounts although minor differences in coverage may still exist.

Comparable estimates are not available for other EU member states as EU data collection in relation to employment is based on the NACE classification which classifies employment according to the field of activity of the employer rather than whether the employer is in the public or private sector. It is not possible to clearly identify overall public sector employment through the NACE classification as it is spread across a number of areas of economic activity. In relation to the National Accounts while information on the overall compensation of employees in the General Government Sector is collected, at this point in time Eurostat does not collect and compile comparable statistics on the overall level of employment in the General Government Sector for EU member states.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) undertakes a periodic data collection exercise regarding the level of Public sector employment in different countries. However estimates are not submitted by all countries and comparability of those estimates submitted to the ILO cannot be guaranteed.

Table 1

Public Sector Employment Q4 2001-Q4 2010

Q4 2001

Q4 2002

Q4 2003

Q4 2004

Q4 2005

Q4 2006

Q4 2007

Q4 2008

Q4 2009

Q4 2010

Total public sector (excluding commercial semi state)

309,000

324,300

327,800

335,700

341,800

354,400

367,500

381,900

364,000

361,400

Total employees (QNHS)

1,442,100

1,463,700

1,501,600

1,570,000

1,675,400

1,737,300

1,761,100

1,679,000

1,550,700

1,516,000

Percentage Public Secto

21%

22%

22%

21%

20%

20%

21%

23%

23%

24%

Source CSO

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

49 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Taoiseach the total cost and the cost relative to GDP and GNP of the public sector workforce in the period 2001 to 2011; the way these indices compare with the similar figures for our 26 EU partner nations throughout the same decade; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8227/11]

The information requested by the Deputy is contained in the tables below. The definition of public sector used is the "General Government Sector" as defined internationally for the compilation of National Accounts. The definition excludes commercial semi state bodies. The figures relate to wages and salaries, including employers' contributions to pension and social security funds. The most recent year for which internationally comparable annual data are available on the Eurostat website is 2009. The most up to date information for Ireland, including data for 2010, have been incorporated in the tables.

Internationally comparable data for GNP are not available. However, Table 3 presents data for GNI (Gross National Income). This is equivalent to GNP plus EU subsidies minus EU taxes.

Table 1: Compensation of Employees (€m) in the General Government Sector: EU Member States and EU, 2000 to 2010*

Country/Year

2010*

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

European Union (27 countries)

1,323,424

1,312,652

1,285,378

1,241,075

1,192,914

1,141,543

1,093,512

1,061,019

1,008,971

966,598

Belgium

43,288

41,635

39,324

37,859

36,422

34,661

33,833

32,532

30,326

29,039

Bulgaria

3,286

3,254

2,722

2,318

2,420

2,046

1,864

1,604

1,351

1,436

Czech Republic

11,109

11,210

9,673

8,906

7,989

6,966

6,725

6,219

5,076

4,346

Denmark

43,280

40,140

38,147

37,283

35,884

35,116

33,977

32,818

31,248

29,690

Germany

177,640

170,720

168,310

168,270

168,900

169,590

169,240

168,680

166,220

166,110

Estonia

1,773

1,830

1,527

1,242

1,104

985

889

798

710

665

Ireland

18,140

19,572

20,309

19,008

17,353

15,721

13,671

12,560

11,273

9,819

8,361

Greece

31,762

28,761

26,430

24,324

22,384

21,345

18,641

17,308

15,180

14,445

Spain

125,164

118,387

107,835

98,261

91,011

84,595

78,691

72,889

68,728

64,728

France

254,326

247,268

241,736

234,489

228,208

220,725

215,626

208,484

199,206

192,305

Italy

171,578

169,813

163,989

163,220

156,542

149,866

144,749

137,621

131,647

124,306

Cyprus

2,644

2,427

2,269

2,164

2,011

1,885

1,828

1,539

1,428

1,363

Latvia

2,242

2,770

2,248

1,612

1,308

1,174

1,069

1,039

954

917

Lithuania

3,411

3,475

2,834

2,504

2,153

1,968

1,787

1,711

1,590

1,502

Luxembourg

3,031

2,805

2,653

2,508

2,379

2,224

2,075

1,939

1,785

1,661

Hungary

10,499

12,258

11,621

10,933

11,178

10,382

9,807

8,634

6,586

5,442

Malta

831

832

707

678

667

661

652

649

640

547

Netherlands

57,130

54,575

52,273

50,216

49,543

48,909

48,040

45,599

42,820

39,647

Austria

27,174

25,970

24,783

23,999

22,884

21,912

21,559

21,041

20,954

22,866

Poland

31,788

36,246

29,909

26,712

24,563

20,547

20,461

22,543

22,681

18,738

Portugal

20,707

20,300

20,271

20,812

21,312

20,125

19,360

19,737

18,449

17,281

Romania

12,558

14,295

11,720

9,059

6,978

4,968

4,297

4,139

3,764

3,203

Slovenia

4,399

4,112

3,641

3,481

3,306

3,146

3,016

2,841

2,680

2,423

Slovakia

4,948

4,481

3,730

3,284

2,803

2,739

2,612

2,373

2,092

1,942

Finland

25,429

24,676

23,239

22,350

21,671

20,731

19,915

19,070

18,075

17,278

Sweden

44,591

49,162

50,372

48,176

46,493

46,130

44,689

41,916

39,454

40,873

United Kingdom

189,264

200,944

224,408

219,065

207,081

194,476

175,549

176,025

165,509

155,485

*Annual data for other EU Member States not available for 2010.

Source: Central Statistics Office and Estat.

Table 2: Compensation of Employees in General Government Sector as a Percentage of GDP: EU Member States, 2000 to 2010*

Country/Year

2010*

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

European Union (27 Countries)

11.2

10.5

10.4

10.6

10.8

10.8

10.8

10.7

10.5

10.5

Belgium

12.8

12.1

11.7

11.9

12.0

11.9

12.3

12.1

11.7

11.5

Bulgaria

9.4

9.2

8.8

8.8

10.4

10.0

10.1

9.4

8.7

10.2

Czech Republic

8.1

7.6

7.6

7.8

8.0

7.9

8.3

7.8

7.4

7.1

Denmark

19.5

17.2

16.8

17.0

17.3

17.8

18.0

17.8

17.4

17.1

Germany

7.4

6.9

6.9

7.2

7.5

7.7

7.8

7.9

7.9

8.1

Estonia

12.8

11.4

9.6

9.3

9.9

10.2

10.2

10.3

10.2

10.8

Ireland

11.8

12.3

11.3

10.0

9.8

9.7

9.2

9.0

8.6

8.4

8.0

Greece

13.5

12.1

11.6

11.5

11.5

11.5

10.8

11.1

10.4

10.5

Spain

11.9

10.9

10.2

10.0

10.0

10.1

10.1

10.0

10.1

10.3

France

13.3

12.7

12.8

13.0

13.2

13.3

13.5

13.5

13.3

13.3

Italy

11.3

10.8

10.6

11.0

11.0

10.8

10.8

10.6

10.5

10.4

Cyprus

15.6

14.0

14.2

14.7

14.7

14.8

15.5

13.8

13.2

13.5

Latvia

12.1

12.0

10.6

10.0

10.0

10.5

10.7

10.5

10.2

10.8

Lithuania

12.9

10.8

9.9

10.4

10.3

10.8

10.8

11.4

11.7

12.1

Luxembourg

8.0

7.1

7.1

7.4

7.9

8.1

8.0

8.1

7.9

7.5

Hungary

11.3

11.5

11.5

12.2

12.6

12.5

13.2

12.2

11.0

10.6

Malta

14.2

14.1

12.9

13.4

13.9

14.7

14.7

14.5

14.9

13.0

Netherlands

10.0

9.2

9.1

9.3

9.6

10.0

10.1

9.8

9.6

9.5

Austria

9.9

9.2

9.1

9.3

9.4

9.4

9.7

9.6

9.9

11.0

Poland

10.2

10.0

9.6

9.8

10.0

10.1

10.7

10.8

10.7

10.1

Portugal

12.3

11.8

12.0

13.0

13.9

13.5

13.5

14.1

13.8

13.6

Romania

10.7

10.2

9.4

9.3

8.7

8.1

8.2

8.5

8.3

7.9

Slovenia

12.4

11.0

10.5

11.2

11.5

11.6

11.7

11.6

11.8

11.3

Slovakia

7.8

6.9

6.8

7.4

7.3

8.1

8.9

9.1

8.9

8.8

Finland

14.9

13.4

12.9

13.5

13.8

13.6

13.7

13.3

13.0

13.1

Sweden

15.3

14.8

14.9

15.1

15.6

15.8

16.0

15.7

15.5

15.2

United Kingdom

12.1

11.1

10.9

11.2

11.3

11.0

10.7

10.3

10.1

9.7

*Annual data for other EU Member States not available for 2010.

Source: Central Statistics Office and Estat.

Table 3: Compensation of Employees in General Government Sector as a Percentage of GNI: EU Member States, 2000 to 2010*

Country/Year

2010*

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

European Union (27 Countries)

11.3

10.5

10.4

10.6

10.8

10.7

10.8

10.7

10.6

10.5

Belgium

12.6

11.9

11.6

11.8

11.9

11.8

12.1

12.0

11.5

11.3

Bulgaria

9.9

9.7

9.5

9.4

11.0

10.2

10.3

9.4

9.1

10.7

Czech Republic

8.6

7.9

8.2

8.2

8.3

8.4

8.7

8.1

7.6

7.2

Denmark

19.1

17.0

16.6

16.7

17.1

17.7

18.1

18.0

17.7

17.5

Germany

7.3

6.8

6.8

7.1

7.4

7.6

7.9

8.0

7.9

8.1

Estonia

13.1

12.0

10.4

9.8

10.3

10.7

10.8

10.7

10.6

11.2

Ireland

14.4

14.8

13.0

11.6

11.2

11.2

10.7

10.5

10.4

9.9

9.2

Greece

13.9

12.5

12.0

11.8

11.7

11.6

10.9

11.0

10.3

10.4

Spain

12.2

11.2

10.5

10.2

10.2

10.2

10.2

10.1

10.3

10.4

France

13.2

12.6

12.6

12.9

13.1

13.2

13.4

13.4

13.1

13.2

Italy

11.5

11.0

10.7

11.0

11.0

10.8

10.9

10.7

10.6

10.5

Cyprus

15.9

15.0

15.1

15.5

15.4

15.5

15.9

14.2

14.0

14.5

Latvia

11.2

12.1

11.0

10.4

10.2

10.7

10.8

10.4

10.2

10.8

Lithuania

12.6

11.1

10.3

10.7

10.5

11.1

11.1

11.5

11.9

12.4

Luxembourg

11.3

9.4

8.8

9.7

9.1

9.3

10.4

9.7

8.9

8.7

Hungary

11.9

12.3

12.4

12.9

13.3

13.2

13.8

12.8

11.6

11.1

Malta

15.3

14.7

13.5

13.9

14.5

14.9

14.8

14.4

14.7

13.3

Netherlands

10.3

9.3

9.0

9.1

9.6

9.7

10.0

9.7

9.5

9.3

Austria

10.0

9.3

9.2

9.4

9.5

9.5

9.7

9.7

10.1

11.2

Poland

10.6

10.2

10.0

10.1

10.2

10.3

10.8

10.8

10.7

10.1

Portugal

12.8

12.2

12.4

13.4

14.1

13.7

13.7

14.3

14.1

13.9

Romania

10.8

10.5

9.7

9.6

9.0

8.5

8.4

8.6

8.4

7.9

Slovenia

12.7

11.3

10.8

11.3

11.6

11.7

11.8

11.6

11.8

11.3

Slovakia

8.0

7.1

7.0

7.6

7.5

8.4

9.3

9.2

8.9

8.9

Finland

14.6

13.3

12.9

13.4

13.7

13.5

13.8

13.3

13.0

13.2

Sweden

15.1

14.2

14.6

14.9

15.5

15.8

15.8

15.8

15.7

15.4

United Kingdom

11.9

10.9

10.8

11.2

11.1

10.8

10.5

10.1

10.0

9.7

*Annual data for other EU Member States not available for 2010.

Source: Central Statistics Office and Estat.

National Statistics

Brian Stanley

Ceist:

50 Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Taoiseach the percentage distribution of those aged 65 years and over, in the CSO EU SILC equivalised income deciles for each of the years 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. [8539/11]

The table below shows the percentage distribution of persons aged 65 years or over across the published SILC net disposable equivalised income deciles.

Table 1: Percentage distribution of those aged 65 years and over by net disposable equivalised income deciles by year

Distribution across deciles

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Age group 65+

Decile

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

State

Weekly threshold (€)

<209.91

<255.28

<289.58

<335.49

<385.33

<443.96

<509.04

<595.82

<740.49

>740.49

2009

8.01

8.78

22.75

15.7

8.76

10.29

8.39

5.27

5.14

6.9

100

Decile

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

State

Weekly threshold (€)

<212.67

<256.19

<296.49

<341.17

<397.82

<450.92

<524.45

<612.25

<769.99

>769.99

2008

7.29

11.77

27.08

14.47

7.74

7.12

7.57

6.16

5.19

5.62

100

Decile

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

State

Weekly threshold (€)

<198.09

<240.69

<278.48

<321.19

<379.33

<440.32

<516.69

<606.31

<772.94

>772.94

2007

6.47

19.98

23.29

10.41

8.49

8.01

9.34

5.97

4.72

3.33

100

Decile

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

State

Weekly threshold (€)

<174.32

<212.73

<248.19

<291.10

<337.48

<389.60

<448.30

<536.77

<683.45

>683.45

2006

5.1

17.1

27.1

13.5

8.0

7.0

7.8

5.9

4.9

3.7

100

Decile

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

State

Weekly threshold (€)

<156.90

<197.48

<231.55

<275.75

<319.98

<372.68

<425.13

<493.51

<623.27

>623.27

2005

6.61

17.44

28.4

12.93

7.52

7.82

6.19

5.12

4.3

3.67

100

Census 2011

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

51 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Taoiseach his view on the anecdotal evidence that census enumerators are finding it difficult to access some housing and apartment complexes; if he is confident that all residents will be able to partake in census 2011 in view of the significant number of voters in Dublin North-East who were not registered to vote in the general election 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8047/11]

5,344 field staff have been employed to conduct the field operation for the census, made up of 4,854 enumerators, 440 field supervisors and 50 senior managers. All enumerators have been instructed to deliver a census form in person to an adult person in each household in their designated area. Where nobody in the household can be contacted after three visits the enumerator is instructed to leave a calling card containing his/her mobile phone number.

Under the Statistics Act 1993 census field staff are entitled to gain access to all apartment complexes to perform their duties. To assist field staff in this task all Regional and Field Supervisors have been provided with a list of gated complexes in their area. Supervisors were directed to make contact with the relevant management companies to arrange access for their local enumerator by requesting in advance gate codes, key fobs and/or the contact names of security personnel. In difficult situations where no help was forthcoming supervisors were further instructed to, among other things, make contact with local Garda, local fire or ambulance services or to seek out other contacts such as postal and other delivery personnel. Finally all field staff have been encouraged to use their initiative on the ground by making contact with residents, local taxi companies, fast food companies etc.

The CSO is confident that the steps outlined above will achieve the stated goal of the census which is 100 per cent enumeration. In the small number of situations where householders in gated complexes have had no contact from their enumerator they are encouraged to contact the census helpline, which has been extensively advertised both on the census.ie website and in the media. In these situations census HQ staff will take their details and pass them on to their local enumerator to ensure that the relevant contact is made.

Public Procurement

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

52 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Taoiseach the position regarding the awarding of the printing contract for census 2011 to a company (details supplied) particularly in view of it being a wholly-owned subsidiary of a US contractor and its association with human rights issues at Abu Ghraib prison; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8019/11]

The printing contract for the 2011 census was part of a comprehensive census tender which was published on etenders in April 2009. The tender covered the software solution for the processing system, which was based on the system used for the 2006 census, the provision, installation and commissioning of the necessary hardware to carry out the processing and the printing of the census forms and enumerator record books.

Following an open public tender the contract was awarded to a UK company, CACI (UK) Ltd. in July 2009. The printing of the census forms and enumerator record books was sub-contracted by CACI (UK) Ltd. to an Irish based printer DCK Ebrook. All Irish census forms were printed in Ireland on site at DCK Ebrook facilities in Walkinstown between April and August 2010.

Departmental Staff

Michael Creed

Ceist:

53 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Taoiseach the number of staff employed directly in his Department in 1995, 2000, 2005 and 2010; if he will provide details regarding the numbers in each Civil Service grade for the same years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8169/11]

The tables beneath provide the information requested by the Deputy.

Year 1995

Grade

Number of WTEs Employed

Secretary General

2

Assistant Secretary

3

Principal Officer

8

Assistant Principal

14

Higher Executive Officer

14

Administrative Officer

7

Executive Officer

11

Staff Officer

9

Clerical Officer

16.5

Clerical Assistant (including Clerical Assistant typist)

25.5

SVO (Support Staff)

23

Paperkeeper

1

Total

134

Year 2000

Grade

Number of WTEs Employed

Secretary General

2

Assistant Secretary

5

Principal Officer

8

Assistant Principal

18.5

Higher Executive Officer

17.5

Administrative Officer

12

Executive Officer

11.5

Staff Officer

10.5

Clerical Officer

46

SVO (Support Staff)

24

Total

155

Year 2005

Grade

Number of WTEs Employed

Secretary General

1

Second Secretary

1

Assistant Secretary

4

Director

1

Principal Officer

11.5

Assistant Principal

28.78

Higher Executive Officer

20.4

Administrative Officer

18.1

Executive Officer

22.3

Staff Officer

11.2

Clerical Officer

47

SVO (Support Staff)

21

Total

187.28

Year 2010

Grade

Number of WTEs Employed

Secretary General

1

Assistant Secretary

4

Principal Officer

14.6*

Assistant Principal

21.35

Higher Executive Officer

22.3

Administrative Officer

9

Executive Officer

20.2

Staff Officer

10.43

Clerical Officer

39.5

SVO (Support Staff)

19.58

Total

161.96

*Includes 4 Principal Officers seconded into the Department.

Official Engagements

Eoghan Murphy

Ceist:

54 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Taoiseach when he will make a State visit to China. [8170/11]

The Government attaches great importance to developing our trade and bilateral links with our Asian partners and in particular with China. We look forward to building on the excellent bilateral relations that exist between our two countries and further enhancing our trade, investment, education and tourism links with China. In this context, I very much hope to be in a position to travel to China, perhaps later this year, though of course this is a matter for agreement with the Chinese authorities. Contact between our respective administrations is continuing, including through our Embassy in Beijing, to see if a visit can be confirmed on mutually acceptable dates.

Ministerial Staff

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

55 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Taoiseach the numbers, duties and grades of all persons within his Department who are assigned to work on constituency matters for him and any other Ministers assigned to his Department. [8247/11]

Staff working in my constituency office and the constituency offices of both the Government Chief Whip and the Minister of State for European Affairs deal with matters raised by constituents. There are two Personal Assistants and one Personal Secretary working in my constituency office based in Castlebar and one Executive Officer and one Personal Assistant working in my constituency office in Government Buildings. There is one clerical vacancy to be filled in my constituency office in Government Buildings.

The Government Chief Whip has one Personal Secretary based in his constituency office in Enniscorthy. There is one Personal Assistant vacancy yet to be filled and one other vacancy to be filled. The Minister of State for European Affairs has her constituency office located in Government Buildings. The staff consists of one Personal Secretary and two Clerical Officers.

Official Engagements

Seán Kenny

Ceist:

56 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Taoiseach the foreign leaders he expects to invite here over the next few months. [8485/11]

I met with my European Union counterparts at the European Council meetings on 11 March and 24/25 March, and will do so again at future meetings. I expect to meet with some of them bilaterally, possibly in Dublin, over the coming months but no firm arrangements have been finalised yet. I invited President Obama to visit Ireland when I met him in Washington on St. Patrick's Day, and am very pleased that he has accepted my invitation and will visit towards the end of May. President McAleese extended an invitation to Queen Elizabeth to make a State visit to Ireland. This invitation was accepted, and I look forward to meeting the Queen during her State visit next month.

Military Neutrality

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

57 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs his plans to change Ireland’s traditional policy of neutrality, which in popular consciousness is not purely limited to our non-membership of military alliances. [8388/11]

The Government is fully committed to protecting Ireland's traditional policy of military neutrality, characterised by non-participation in military alliances. This policy has been underpinned by a set of complementary values which includes the protection of human rights; support for development; and the promotion of disarmament and the elimination of weapons of mass destruction.

Over the years, this approach has helped us to speak with a distinctive and independent voice on many of the key challenges facing the world in relation to the maintenance of international peace and security. Successive Governments have not interpreted neutrality as meaning that Ireland should avoid international engagement. Rather, they have considered that it enhances our capacity to make a direct and significant contribution to the promotion of global peace and stability through the United Nations, the European Union and in bilateral action. There is no doubt that our non-membership of military alliances strengthens our acceptability in areas which are experiencing conflict. This enables us to make a highly regarded contribution to international peace operations, authorised by the United Nations, whether these operations are undertaken under direct UN command or are led by the European Union or by NATO.

Natural Disasters

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

58 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will respond to correspondence (detail supplied) regarding the humanitarian crisis in Japan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8162/11]

One month after the devastating magnitude 9 earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 25,000 people in north-eastern Japan, the country's authorities are continuing to undertake a massive recovery operation and to bring help to the 170,000 people who remain homeless as a result of the disaster. A further 80,000 people living within a 20 kilometre radius of the Fukushima nuclear power plant which was badly damaged as a result of the tsunami, have also been ordered to evacuate their homes, as workers inside the facility attempt to remove contaminated water and cool the plant's reactor.

The Government responded swiftly to the emergency through the decision on 16 March to allocate €1 million to the Japanese Red Cross, which has been central to the emergency response operation. In addition, the Government placed Irish Aid's Rapid Response Corps – a roster of highly skilled humanitarian personnel – on standby to assist and offered the use of emergency shelter, water and sanitation equipment from our pre-positioned stockpiles in Dubai and Malaysia. At this stage however, the Japanese authorities have indicated that they are unlikely to require this additional support as they now have sufficient resources available within Japan to procure relief supplies and to deliver them to the worst affected areas.

As I have noted elsewhere, Japan has a long history of coping with natural disasters and has one of the best-developed systems of civil protection anywhere in the world. While many thousands of people remain in evacuation centres, the Government of Japan has already developed detailed plans to provide them with accommodation and has requested the housing industry to build 30,000 temporary homes by mid-May. With the vast majority of towns and cities in Japan left undamaged by the disaster, some 42,000 pre-existing housing units have also been made available by local or public authorities across the country to accommodate the displaced. At this stage, it is not anticipated that accommodation will be required overseas given the significant resources which Japan itself is able to devote to this operation. The Government continues to monitor the situation in Japan and remains ready to offer further support should the Japanese consider this necessary.

Passport Applications

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

59 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will review a matter (details supplied) regarding passports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8171/11]

The arrangement whereby citizens aged 65 and over were exempted from passport fees was introduced in 2005. The decision to re-introduce fees for citizens aged 65 or over was announced in the Budget last December. This budgetary measure took effect from 11 April 2011, which was the date set out in the Statutory Instrument 47/2011 signed by the then Taoiseach and acting Minister for Foreign Affairs on 3 February 2011. Based on an estimated figure of 30,000 applications from those aged 65 or over during 2011, the cost of exempting those aged 65 and over from passport fees was estimated to be €2.4 million in 2011 in terms of lost revenue. This figure is based on a figure of 45,000 persons aged 65 and over having applied in the full year in 2010. All passport applicants aged 18 years or over pay the same fee for a ten year passport.

Introducing an arrangement whereby adults of any age would be eligible to apply for a passport for a period of less than 10 years would increase the total demand for passports on an ongoing basis and would require the recruitment of additional staff in the Passport Offices to cope with increased demand. A reduced term of validity for children's passports is necessary as children's appearances change significantly within a short period of years, which can lead to uncertainty regarding the identity of the passport holder. This is not generally the case for adults of any age and it is the norm internationally to provide standard validity passports to all adults.

In addition, were the Passport Office to charge a reduced fee, this would increase further the gap between the revenue generated through passport fees and the cost of producing passports. Any shortfall would have to be met by the taxpayer. For these reasons, I have no plans to introduce a passport of less than 10 year validity for adult applicants, regardless of age. I would emphasise that the annualised fee for a standard Irish passport compares favourably with many other jurisdictions. At €8 per year the Irish passport fee compares with approximately €9 per year for a British passport, €9 per year for a French passport, €8 per year for a Danish passport, €10 per year for a United States passport and €15 per year for an Australian passport.

Ministerial Staff

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

60 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the numbers, duties and grades of all persons within his Department who are assigned to work on constituency matters for him and any other Ministers assigned to his Department. [8243/11]

The following are the intended staffing arrangements for my constituency office and those of Minister of State O'Sullivan and Minister of State Creighton. These arrangements will be in line with the Government's decision on 15 March 2011 to reduce maximum permitted constituency office staffing levels for Ministers of the Government and Ministers of State. Staff members appointed to Ministerial Offices are required to perform any duties that may be assigned to them from time to time as appropriate to their grades and posts.

Office of the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade

1 Personal Assistant

1 Personal Secretary

2 Clerical Officers

Minister of State for Trade and Development

1 Personal Assistant

1 Personal Secretary

1 Clerical Officer

Minister of State for European Affairs

1 Personal Secretary

2 Clerical Officers

Departmental Staff

Seán Kenny

Ceist:

61 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of staff and their grades in each Irish embassy and honorary consul office. [8486/11]

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the table below. The figures take account of officers of other Government Departments serving in our Missions abroad, most notably Ireland's Permanent Representation to the EU in Brussels and in Visa Offices operated within Embassies by staff seconded from the Department of Justice and Equality. Those include some staff whose salaries and other costs are borne by their parent Departments. Positions marked with an asterisk are filled by personnel engaged through local employment agencies and not directly employed by the Missions.

The figures exclude programme staff employed locally by Irish Aid. Also excluded are Irish Honorary Consuls and their staff none of whom are State employees. The Irish diplomatic and consular network is relatively modest in scale compared with countries of similar size and international profile. Overall, diplomatic relations are maintained with 176 countries through a network of 75 Missions, including non-resident accreditations. As the table indicates, Missions are generally small. Over half of our offices have two or fewer diplomatic officers; seven operate with only one.

Mission

Grades and Numbers

Abu Dhabi (including Visa Office)

1 Counsellor (Ambassador)1 Third Secretary1 Higher Executive Officer3 Executive Officers1 Personal Assistant1 Clerk Secretary2 Clerk Secretaries1 Driver/Administrator1 Driver/Messenger

Abuja (including Visa Office)

1 Counsellor (Ambassador)1 Third Secretary1 Higher Executive Officer3 Executive Officers1 Office Manager1 Personal Assistant1 Clerk Secretary4 Driver/Messengers3 Visa Assistants1 Attaché

Addis Ababa

1 Counsellor (Ambassador)1 Senior Development Specialist2 Development Specialists1 Third Secretary1 Personal Assistant2 Clerk Secretaries1 Driver/Messenger

Ankara

1 Counsellor (Ambassador)1 First Secretary1 Third Secretary1 Personal Assistant2 Clerk Secretaries1 Driver/Messenger

Athens

1 Counsellor (Ambassador)1 First Secretary1 Third Secretary3 Clerk Secretaries1 Driver/Messenger

Atlanta

1 First Secretary (Consul General)1 Clerk Secretary

Beijing (including Visa Office)

1 Assistant Secretary (Ambassador)1 Counsellor1 First Secretary1 Third Secretary1 Higher Executive Officer2 Executive Officers1 Clerical Officer1 Office manager1 Receptionist*3 Interpreters*5 Administration Staff*3 Driver/Messengers*2 Maintenance Officers*3 Cleaners*

Berlin

1 Assistant Secretary (Ambassador)1 Counsellor2 First Secretaries1 Assistant Principal Officer1 Third Secretary1 Personal Assistant4 Clerk Secretaries1 Driver/Messenger

Berne

1 Assistant Secretary (Ambassador)1 Third Secretary2 Clerk Secretaries1 Driver/Messenger

Boston

1 First Secretary (Consul General)1 Third Secretary1 Senior Clerk Secretary2 Junior Clerk Secretaries

Brasilia

1 Counsellor (Ambassador)1 Third Secretary1 Personal Assistant1 Office Manager1 Clerk Secretary1 Driver/Messenger

Bratislava

1 Counsellor (Ambassador)1 Higher Executive Officer1 Personal Assistant1 Clerk Secretary1 Driver/Messenger

Brussels — Embassy (including Partnership for Peace Liaison Office)

1 Assistant Secretary (Ambassador)1 Counsellor3 Principal Officers/Irish Military equivalents2 Assistant Principal Officers/Irish Military equivalents1 First Secretary1 Higher Executive Officer1 Clerical Officer3 Clerk Secretaries1 Driver/Messenger

Brussels — Permanent Representation of Ireland to the European Union

1 Assistant Secretary (Permanent Representative)1 Assistant Secretary (Deputy Permanent Representative)1 Brigadier General3 Counsellors9 Principal Officers8 First Secretaries21 Assistant Principal Officers/Irish Military equivalents4 Third Secretaries2 Higher Executive Officers5 Executive Officers21 Clerical Officers

Brussels — Permanent Representation of Ireland to the European Union —contd.

3 Clerk Secretaries2 Driver/Messengers1 Messenger

Bucharest

1 Counsellor (Ambassador)1 First Secretary1 Personal Assistant*3 Clerk Secretary*1 Driver Messenger*

Budapest

1 Counsellor (Ambassador)1 First Secretary1 Personal Assistant2 Clerk Secretaries1 Driver/Messenger

Buenos Aires

1 Counsellor (Ambassador)1 Third Secretary1 Personal Assistant1 Clerk Secretary0.6 Consular Assistant*1 Driver/Messenger

Cairo

1 Counsellor (Ambassador)1 First Secretary1 Third Secretary1 Office Manager1 Personal Assistant /Accounts Clerk2 Clerk Secretaries2 Driver/Messengers1 Messenger

Canberra

1 Counsellor (Ambassador)1 First Secretary1 Office Manager1 Senior Clerk1 Clerk Secretary1 Receptionist2.5 Passport Officers1 Driver/Messenger

Chicago

1 Counsellor (Consul General)1 Third Secretary3.4 Clerk Secretaries

Copenhagen

1 Second Secretary (Ambassador)1 Third Secretary1 Personal Assistant2 Clerk Secretaries1 Driver/Messenger0.4 Office Cleaner

Strasbourg — Council of Europe

1 Assistant Secretary (Ambassador)1 Third Secretary1 Office Manager1 Driver/Messenger1 Administrative Assistant

Dar-Es-Salaam

1 Counsellor (Ambassador)1 Senior Development Specialist2 Development Specialists1 Third Secretary1 Personal Assistant1 Clerk Secretary1 Driver/Messenger

Dili

1 Development Specialist (Head of Mission)1 Executive Officer1 Clerk Secretary

Freetown

1 First Secretary (Head of Mission)1 Third Secretary1 Driver/Administrator

Edinburgh

1 First Secretary (Consul General)1 Clerical Officer1 Clerk Secretary

Geneva PMUN

1 Assistant Secretary (Ambassador)1 Principal Officer2 First Secretaries1 Assistant Principal Officer1 Third Secretary1 Higher Executive Officer1 Executive Officer2 Clerical Officers1 Personal Assistant1 Clerk Secretary1 Driver/Messenger

Hanoi

1 Principal Officer (Ambassador)1 Senior Development Specialist1 Development Specialist1 First Secretary1 Clerical Officer1 Personal Assistant1 Clerk Secretary1 Driver/Messenger

Helsinki

1 Counsellor (Ambassador)1 Third Secretary2 Clerk Secretaries1 Driver/Messenger

Holy See

1 Deputy Secretary (Ambassador)1 Third Secretary1 Office Manager1 Clerk Secretary1 Driver/Messenger

Kampala

1 Counsellor (Ambassador)1 Senior Development Specialist1 Development Specialist1 Third Secretary1 Personal Assistant2 Clerk Secretaries1 Driver/Messenger

Kuala Lumpur

1 Assistant Secretary (Ambassador)1 First Secretary3.5 Clerk Secretaries2 Driver/Messengers

Lisbon

1 Assistant Secretary (Ambassador)1 First Secretary2 Clerk Secretaries1 Driver/Messenger

Lilongwe

1 Counsellor (Ambassador)1 Principal Development Specialist1 Development Specialist1 Third Secretary1 Clerk Secretary

Ljubljana

1 Counsellor (Ambassador)1 Third Secretary1 Personal Assistant1 Clerk Secretary1 Driver/Messenger

London (including Visa Office and Passport Office)

1 Deputy Secretary (Ambassador)2 Counsellors1 Principal Officer3 First Secretaries3 Assistant Principal Officers2 Third Secretaries4 Higher Executive Officers2 Executive Officers17 Clerical Officers3 Services Officers1 Garda Liaison Officer1 Personal Assistant8 Clerk Secretaries2 Driver/Messengers1 Maintenance Officer

Lusaka

1 Principal Officer (Ambassador)1 Senior Development Specialist1 Third Secretary1 Personal Assistant1 Clerk Secretary1 Driver/Messenger

Luxembourg

1 First Secretary (Ambassador)1 Personal Assistant2 Secretary/Typists1 Driver/Messenger

Madrid

1 Assistant Secretary (Ambassador)1 First Secretary1 Third Secretary1 Executive Officer1 Garda Liaison Officer1 Personal Assistant3 Clerk Secretaries4 Secretaries1 Driver/Messenger

Maputo

1 Counsellor (Ambassador)1 Senior Development Specialist2 Development Specialists1 Third Secretary1 Personal Assistant1 Clerk Secretary1 Driver/Messenger

Maseru

1 Principal Officer (Ambassador)1 Senior Development Specialist1 Clerk Secretary1 Driver Messenger

Mexico

1 Counsellor (Ambassador)1 First Secretary1 Third Secretary1 Personal Assistant2 Clerk Secretaries1 Driver/Messenger1 Driver/Messenger*

Moscow (including Visa Office)

1 Assistant Secretary (Ambassador)1 First Secretary1 Third Secretary1 Higher Executive Officer3 Executive Officers2 Clerical Officers2 Secretary/Translators5 Clerk Secretaries2 Driver/Messengers1 Electrician/Handyman

New Delhi (including Visa Office)

1 Assistant Secretary (Ambassador)1 Assistant Principal Officer1 Third Secretary1 Higher Executive Officer3 Executive Officers1 Office Manager1 Executive Assistant1 Visa Manager3 Clerk Secretaries3 Visa Clerks1 Driver/Messenger1 Messenger

New York CG

1 Counsellor (Consul General)2 First Secretaries1 Third Secretary1 Executive Officer1 Personal Assistant8 Clerk Secretaries1 Receptionist1 Driver/Messenger1 Messenger

New York PMUN

1 Deputy Secretary (Ambassador)2 Counsellors5 First Secretaries1 Third Secretary1 Executive Officer1 Personal Assistant4 Clerk Secretaries1 Driver/Messenger

Nicosia

1 First Secretary (Ambassador)1 Clerical Officer1 Personal Assistant1 Clerk Secretary1 Driver/Messenger

Oslo

1 Assistant Secretary (Ambassador)1 Third Secretary1 Personal Assistant1 Clerk Secretary1 Driver/Messenger

Ottawa

1 Assistant Secretary (Ambassador)1 First Secretary1 Third Secretary1 Personal Assistant1 Clerk Secretary1 Visa/Accounts Officer1 Administrator1 Driver/Messenger

Paris

1 Assistant Secretary (Ambassador)1 Counsellor1 First Secretary1 Assistant Principal Officer2 Third Secretaries1 Garda Liaison Officer1 Personal Assistant8 Clerk Secretaries1 Driver/Messenger1 Messenger

Paris OECD

1 Counsellor (Ambassador)1 First Secretary1 Personal Assistant

Prague

1 Deputy Secretary (Ambassador)1 First Secretary4 Clerk Secretaries1 Attaché1 Driver/Messenger

Pretoria

1 Assistant Secretary (Ambassador)1 First Secretary1 Development Specialist1 Assistant Principal1 Third Secretary4 Clerk Secretaries1 Consular Officer1 Consular Assistant*2 Driver/Messengers

Ramallah

1 Counsellor (Representative)1 Third Secretary1 Office Manager1 Clerk Secretary1 Driver/Administrator1 Driver/Messenger

Riga

1 First Secretary (Ambassador)1 Personal Assistant*1 Consular Assistant*

Riyadh

1 Counsellor (Ambassador)1 First Secretary1 Personal Assistant1 Office Manager2 Clerk Secretary3 Driver/Messengers1 Maintenance/Technician

Rome

1 Assistant Secretary (Ambassador)1 Principal Officer1 First Secretary1 Third Secretary1 Personal Assistant4.8 Clerk Secretaries2 Driver/Messengers

San Francisco

1 Assistant Principal Officer (Consul General)1 Third Secretary1 Office Manager2 Clerk Secretaries

Seoul

1 Assistant Secretary (Ambassador)1 First Secretary1 Personal Assistant1 Office Manager1 Receptionist1 Driver/Messenger

Shanghai

1 Counsellor (Consul General)1 Third Secretary1 Clerical Officer1 Receptionist*1 Personal Assistant/Interpreter*1 Visa Clerk*1 Driver/Messenger*

Singapore

1 Assistant Secretary (Ambassador)1 Third Secretary1 Administrative Officer1 Personal Assistant1 Clerk Secretary1 Clerk Secretary*1 Driver/Messenger

Sofia

1 Counsellor (Ambassador)1 Third Secretary3 Clerk Secretaries*1 Driver/Messenger*

Stockholm

1 Assistant Secretary (Ambassador)1 Third Secretary1 Personal Assistant2 Clerk Secretaries1 Driver/Messenger

Sydney

1 First Secretary (Consul General)1 Third Secretary1 Personal Assistant1 Consular/Passport Officer1 Consular Officer/Receptionist

Tallinn

1 First Secretary (Ambassador)1 Personal Assistant1 Clerk Secretary

Tehran

1 Counsellor (Ambassador)1 Third Secretary1 Personal Assistant1 Clerk Secretary2 Driver/Messengers

Tel Aviv

1 Counsellor (Ambassador)1 First Secretary1 Personal Assistant2 Clerk Secretaries1 Driver/Messenger

The Hague

1 Assistant Secretary (Ambassador)1 First Secretary1 Third Secretary1 Garda Liaison Officer1 Personal Assistant3 Clerk Secretaries1 Driver/Messenger

Tokyo

1 Assistant Secretary (Ambassador)1 First Secretary1 Third Secretary1 Office Manager1 Press & Cultural Attaché5 Clerk Secretaries1 Driver/Messenger

Valletta

1 First Secretary (Ambassador)1 Personal Assistant*1 Clerk Secretary*

Vienna Embassy

1 Assistant Secretary (Ambassador)1 First Secretary1 Third Secretary3 Clerk Secretaries1 Secretary/Administrative Assistant1 Driver/Messenger

Vienna OSCE

1 Assistant Secretary (Ambassador)2 First Secretaries1 Third Secretary1 Attaché1 Personal Assistant3 Clerk Secretaries1 Driver/Messenger

Vilnius

1 Counsellor (Ambassador)1 Third Secretary1 Personal Assistant*0.5 Clerk Secretary*1 Driver/Messenger*

Warsaw

1 Assistant Secretary (Ambassador)1 First Secretary1 Third Secretary1 Agriculture Inspector1 Personal Assistant2 Receptionist/Secretary/ Translators1 Driver/Messenger

Washington

1 Second Secretary (Ambassador)2 Counsellors1 Principal Officer2 First Secretaries1 Assistant Principal Officer1 Third Secretary1 Executive Officer2 Clerical Officers1 Agriculture Inspector1 Personal Assistant5 Clerk Secretaries1 Driver/Messenger1 Caretaker/Messenger

Official Engagements

Seán Kenny

Ceist:

62 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the counterparts that he expects to invite here over the next few months. [8487/11]

As Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade I intend to meet regularly with my foreign counterparts at EU and international level, both abroad and here in Dublin. I have already met my EU counterparts at the Gymnich informal meeting of Foreign Ministers in Budapest on 11-12 March, and again at last week's meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council. I will continue to engage with my counterparts at Council meetings in the coming months, and will again meet them in an informal setting in Poland on 2-3 September. I would hope to have a number of bilateral meetings en marge of the 25-6 May OECD meeting in Paris, including with the French Foreign Minister, Alain Juppé.

I am in regular contact with various members of the British Government, including Deputy Prime Minister Clegg and Foreign Secretary Hague, both of whom I expect to meet for bilateral meetings next month, and with Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Owen Paterson with whom I met yesterday in Dublin. I am also in contact with Secretary of State Clinton who I met last month in Washington. I will be Chair-in-Office of the OSCE in 2012. Ireland is currently in the OSCE Troika with Lithuania, the current Chair-in-Office, and Kazakhstan, last year's Chair. In terms of preparation, I expect to address the OSCE's Permanent Council in Vienna later this year to provide an outline of our Chairmanship priorities. A Ministerial Troika meeting with the Kazakh and Lithuanian Foreign Ministers is also planned for the coming months.

In addition, I intend to avail of the opportunity of the Ministerial Week of the UN General Assembly in New York in September to schedule and conduct a round of bilateral meetings with the Foreign Ministers of a number of key partner countries for Ireland. I will, of course, continue to take every opportunity during meetings with my counterparts to actively pursue the Government's key objective of restoring economic growth through trade promotion, particularly in relation to priority and emerging markets.

Passport Applications

Michelle Mulherin

Ceist:

63 Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the shortest period within which an emergency passport can be issued for the purposes of business. [8530/11]

The standard processing time for all passports received through the Passport Express Service or over the counter in the Passport Office in Dublin City Centre or in Cork is 10 working days. Applicants can ask to have an application expedited in the case of urgent business. In such cases, the Passport Office may issue a passport within 3 working days. A fee of €55, which is additional to the applicable fee for the issue of a passport, must be paid by the applicant. When applying through a public office, the applicant must state clearly at the time of application that the passport is needed urgently and must provide satisfactory evidence of the need to expedite the application. An expedited service is not provided in cases where the applicant is a first time adult applicant or cannot produce his/her previous passport due to loss or theft.

Statutory Instrument 47/2011 provides for the issue of an emergency passport outside of normal hours for an additional emergency fee of €110. An emergency passport duty officer service operates on Friday evenings and on Saturdays and Sundays through my Department's offices in Dublin and in Cork. Citizens abroad would need to make an appointment through an Irish diplomatic mission. In cases of genuine emergency, a temporary passport with limited validity of no more than 11 months can be issued on a same day basis.

Emigrant Support Services

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

64 Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will provide a list of the amounts drawn down to date of the emigrant services grants for 2009 and 2010 for Britain. [8572/11]

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

65 Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the procedures in place to ensure that the emigrant services grants, particularly for 2009 and 2010, have been spent in the areas that they have been applied for and benefit the target groups in the applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8573/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 64 and 65 together.

Through the Emigrant Support Programme (ESP), my Department provides funding to not-for-profit organisations and projects to support Irish communities overseas, with a particular focus on initiatives that address the needs of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable Irish emigrants. Details of all grant recipients since 2006 can be found on my Department's website. €8,459,319 was provided to British-based organisations in 2009 and €8,135,668 in 2010 — a full list of grant recipients is set out in the table. Two organisations who drew down funding in 2009 subsequently returned money to the Department. The first returned stg£4,085 due to an under-spend on their capital project while the second returned stg£3,600 due to the cancellation of their proposed project.

As elsewhere, the emphasis of the programme's funding in Britain is on supporting frontline welfare services. The organisations funded provide a range of services, ranging from informal community networking groups for senior citizens to outreach services and advice in accessing entitlements. This support has had a very tangible and positive impact on Irish communities in Britain, in particular on the lives of our vulnerable citizens, a point acknowledged by the Simon Community and the British-Irish Inter-parliamentary Body, amongst others. In addition to supporting frontline services, the ESP has also supported a number of community and heritage projects and, through capital grants, invested in the strategic futures of these communities.

With regard to the procedures that are in place to ensure that the emigrant services' grants have been spent appropriately, I should point out that a stringent set of crtieria is in place to ensure appropriate use of approved funding. Once an application has been approved, organisations are required to sign a Terms and Conditions Contract which specifically sets out the terms of use of the grant and obliges them to return a monitoring and evaluation report to the Department within an agreed timeframe. The evaluation report allows the Department to measure progress on projects against the terms of the funding. Our Embassies also play a key role by remaining in regular contact with recipient organisations, including conducting formal and informal monitoring visits and meetings as required.

A 2007 Value for Money and Policy Review of the Programme, conducted by Goodbody Economic Consultants, found that the systems implemented to administer and monitor the Emigrant Support Programme worked well and the key recommendations made in the report have since been implemented. A 2009 audit of a number of ESP-funded organisations in Britain and the US by the Department's Audit Unit expressed satisfaction with the operation of the programme in respect of these organisations. All aspects of Departmental expenditure are reported on annually to the Public Accounts Committee and subject to unscheduled verification by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Emigrant Support Programme Grants to British-based organisations in 2009

Name of Organisation

2009 (€)

Acton Homeless Concern (London)

51,435.87

Age Concern Hillingdon (Middlesex)

8,020.10

Aisling Project (London)

113,382.42

Bell Farm Christian Centre (Middlesex)

11,271.35

Benefits Advice Shop (Denbighshire)

5,843.85

Birmingham Irish Community Forum

139,189.49

Blackfriars Advice Centre (London)

22,692.46

Bolton Irish Community Association

20,760.52

Brent Adolescent Centre (London)

31,485.79

Brent Irish Advisory Service (London)

196,255.74

Brian Boru Club (Wigan)

31,594.95

Bristol Playbus Project

18,855.77

Causeway Irish Housing Association (London)

25,691.19

Celtic & Irish Cultural Society (Crawley)

20,278.17

Central & Cecil Housing Trust (London)

63,013.15

Central Eltham Youth Project (London)

27,230.95

Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann (Liverpool)

173,211.26

Conradh na Gaeilge, Glaschú (Glasgow)

38,904.35

Corby Irish Centre

49,293.73

Council of Irish County Associations (London)

11,346.23

Coventry Irish Society

130,659.78

Cricklewood Homeless Concern (London)

220,273.82

Derby Irish Association

31,126.02

Dewsbury Celtic RLFC

54,851.63

Dewsbury Irish National League Club

4,101.80

Eastleigh & District Irish Society

36,724.26

Edinburgh Cyrenians

18,750.48

Eireanns Ways (Glasgow)

4,084.64

Emerald Circle Club (Harrow)

3,506.31

Emerald Senior Citizens Group (Wolverhampton)

8,181.39

Equinox (London)

32,054.70

Federation of Irish Societies (London)

659,215.98

Forest Bus (Southampton)

5,728.67

Friends, Families and Travellers (Brighton)

17,643.76

Full Irish Festival and Funday (Cheshire)

5,162.53

Gael Music (Reading)

8,509.67

Garngad Irish Heritage Group

7,942.36

GEAR Project (Gloucester)

23,375.41

Greenwich Irish Pensioners Association (London)

6,661.99

Halifax and District Irish Society

20,102.85

Halifax Irish Centre

20,774.14

Haringey Irish Cultural and Community Centre (London)

177,202.15

Haringey Irish Pensioners

3,971.18

Harps Community Project (Glasgow)

40,846.43

Haslingden IDL Club

5,750.35

Huddersfield Irish Centre

7,409.09

Huddersfield St. Patrick’s Day Parade Association

5,843.85

Immigrant Counselling and Psychotherapy (ICAP) (London)

205,650.50

IN-GB Association — Ireland Network Great Britain (London)

5,843.85

Irish Centre Housing (London)

114,708.32

Irish Chaplaincy in Britain (London)

219,069.09

Irish Charitable Trust (London)

193,022.44

Irish Community Care Manchester

198,194.25

Irish Community Care Merseyside

311,472.86

Irish Cultural Centre, Hammersmith

248,900.78

Irish Diaspora Foundation (Manchester)

65,919.82

Irish Elderly Advice Network (London)

102,619.21

Irish Heritage (Surrey)

11,687.70

Irish in Greenwich (London)

225,621.79

Irish Network (Stevenage)

29,175.70

Irish Oral History Archive (London)

83,688.64

Irish Repertory Theatre and Film Company (London)

6,070.23

Irish Traveller Movement in Britain (London)

136,000.45

Irish Tuesday Club (Liverpool)

5,165.97

Irish Welfare & Information Centre (Birmingham)

241,975.22

Irish World Heritage Centre (Manchester)

43,172.04

Kilburn Irish Pensioners

6,598.48

Lancashire Federation of IDL Clubs

876.58

Leeds Gypsy & Traveller Exchange

52,809.03

Leeds Irish Centre Charity

32,447.55

Leeds Irish Health & Homes

171,183.98

Leeds St. Patrick’s Day Parade & Celebrations

11,913.54

Leicester & Leicestershire Irish Forum

46,598.88

Lewisham Irish Community Centre

57,186.85

Lewisham Irish Pensioners Association

10,402.06

Liverpool Irish Festival Society

4,967.27

London Gypsy and Traveller Unit

110,270.54

London Irish Amateur Rugby Club

10,438.53

London Irish Centre Charity

579,688.28

London Irish Music School

7,597.01

London Irish Pensioners Choir

4,242.64

London Irish Women’s Centre

88,639.55

Luton Irish Forum

287,327.26

Manchester Irish language Group

876.58

Mansfield & Dukeries Irish Association

4,675.08

Marian Senior Citizens Club (London)

3,623.19

Milton Keynes Irish Centre

37,857.65

Momentum Care Irish Elders Centre (Glasgow)

111,348.76

Monica’s Place (Birmingham)

35,063.11

New Horizon Youth Centre (London)

66,975.56

NOAH Enterprise (Luton)

136,811.59

North London Action for the Homeless

6,851.33

North Wales Irish Society

7,012.62

Northampton Irish Support Group

70,814.63

Nottingham Irish Studies Group

1,168.77

Nottingham St. Patrick’s Day Parade Festival Association

10,778.92

Our Lady Help of Christian Homeless Project (London)

65,234.92

Over 60’s Pensioners Club (Camden, London)

2,199.49

Oxford Irish Society

2,507.42

Portsmouth Irish Society

1,633.57

Queen’s Park Senior Citizen Group (London)

4,675.08

Reading and District Irish Association

55,944.06

Rotherham Irish Society

3,214.12

Safe Start Foundation (Middlesex)

132,750.89

Sandwell Irish Community Association

15,884.72

Sandwell Irish Society

38,569.42

Sheffield Irish Association

8,118.04

SIFA Fireside (Birmingham)

46,750.82

Solace Women’s Aid (Camden Women’s Aid) (London)

48,221.48

Southwark Irish Culture & Arts Development

10,518.93

Southwark Irish Pensioners Project

199,011.22

Southwark Irish Youth

8,181.39

Southwark Travellers Action Group

87,657.78

St. Catherine’s Mercy Centre (Edinburgh)

6,094.06

St. Michael’s Irish Centre (Liverpool)

97,175.45

St. Mungo’s Community Housing Association Ltd London)

34,642.03

St. Patrick’s Day Festival Committee (Coatbridge)

7,698.23

St. Patrick’s Senior Tuesday Club (Leamington Spa)

5,105.80

St. Theresa’s House (Peterborough)

28,629.94

Streetwork UK (Edinburgh)

35,063.11

Tara Irish Pensioners (London)

2,219.50

The Connection at St. Martin’s (London)

23,375.41

The Emerald Centre (Leicester)

52,627.40

The Golden Shamrock Club (Nottingham)

11,898.08

The Hibernian Society (Reading)

44,413.28

The Irish Arts Foundation (Leeds)

100,251.29

The Maya Centre (London)

22,692.46

The Passage (London)

41,981.05

The Simon Community (London)

17,531.56

The Warrington Irish Club

35,899.40

Tyneside Irish Centre

66,440.27

Tyneside Irish Cultural Society

25,128.56

Watford and District Irish Association

24,161.86

Total

8,459,319.35

Emigrant Support Programme Grants to British-based organisations in 2010

Name of Organisation

2010 (€)

Acton Homeless Concern (London)

56,401.55

Age Concern Hillingdon (Middlesex)

9,895.73

Aisling Project (London)

117,616.39

Basingstoke Irish Society

19,503.34

Bell Farm Christian Centre (Middlesex)

12,124.15

Benefits Advice Shop (Denbighshire)

6,053.27

Birmingham Irish Community Forum

87,698.84

Blackfriars Advice Centre (London)

23,257.17

Bolton Irish Community Association

8,474.58

Bradford Irish Club Ltd

6,053.27

Brent Adolescent Centre (London)

33,595.64

Brent Irish Advisory Service (BIAS)

224,296.80

Brian Boru Club (Wigan)

44,552.06

Bristol Playbus Project

9,111.21

Causeway Irish Housing Association (London)

28,323.23

Celtic & Irish Cultural Society (Crawley)

21,823.47

Central & Cecil Housing Trust (London)

62,218.72

Central Eltham Youth Project (London)

29,097.96

Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann (Liverpool)

174,753.88

Conradh na Gaeilge, Glaschú (Glasgow)

41,939.86

Corby Irish Centre

34,622.73

Council of Irish County Associations (London)

6,133.17

Coventry Irish Society

152,345.04

Cricklewood Homeless Concern (London)

207,287.83

Derby Irish Association

36,372.45

Edinburgh Cyrenians

16,525.22

Emerald Circle Club (Harrow)

3,637.25

Emerald Senior Citizens Group (Wolverhampton)

8,474.58

Equinox (London)

31,855.34

Federation of Irish Societies

686,435.26

Feith an Cheoil School of Irish Traditional Music (Middlesex)

4,849.66

Forest Bus (Southampton)

6,207.57

Friends, Families and Travellers (Brighton)

12,555.77

Full Irish Festival and Funday (Cheshire)

5,455.87

Gael Music (Reading)

4,243.45

Garngad Irish Heritage Group

10,911.74

GEAR Project (Gloucester)

24,213.08

Greenwich Irish Pensioners Association (London)

6,900.73

Halifax and District Irish Society

20,823.24

Halifax Irish Centre

16,973.81

Haringey Irish Cultural and Community Centre (London)

190,922.65

Harps Community Project (Glasgow)

40,009.70

Haslingden IDL Club

4,564.16

Huddersfield Irish Centre

7,007.76

Immigrant Counselling and Psychotherapy (ICAP) (London)

225,894.76

IPN Scotland

1,193.89

Irish Chaplaincy in Britain (London)

223,609.51

Irish Charitable Trust (London)

200,230.36

Irish Community Care Manchester

214,529.06

Irish Community Care Merseyside

299,401.94

Irish Community Services/ Irish in Greenwich)

244,236.18

Irish Cultural Centre, Hammersmith

252,179.18

Irish Diaspora Foundation (Manchester)

68,778.49

Irish Elderly Advice Network (London)

106,007.26

Irish Heritage (Surrey)

11,016.95

Irish Network (Stevenage)

5,232.86

Irish Oral History Archive (London)

97,743.34

Irish Pensioners Choir

4,000.97

Irish Repertory Theatre and Film Company (London)

7,516.97

Irish Traveller Movement in Britain (London)

139,384.85

Irish Tuesday Club (Liverpool)

8,491.53

Irish Welfare & Information Centre (Birmingham)

215,436.47

Irish World Heritage Centre (Manchester)

39,876.51

Kilburn Irish Pensioners

5,435.84

Lancashire Federation of IDL Clubs

2,267.22

Leeds Gypsy & Traveller Exchange

56,351.09

Leeds Irish Centre

72,639.23

Leeds Irish Health & Homes

180,071.53

Leeds St Patrick’s Day Parade Association

12,210.01

Leicester & Leicestershire Irish Forum

71,013.32

Lewisham Irish Community Centre

60,468.63

Lewisham Irish Pensioners Association

10,463.14

Liverpool Irish Festival Society

9,456.84

London Gypsy and Traveller Unit

116,698.59

London Irish Amateur Rugby Club

12,609.12

London Irish Centre Charity

605,127.12

London Irish Music School

4,849.66

London Irish Women’s Centre

90,506.05

Luton Irish Forum

122,566.59

Manchester Irish Education Group

1,271.19

Manchester Irish Language Group

909.31

Mansfield & Dukeries Irish Association

6,053.27

Marian Senior Citizens Club (London)

3,753.03

Milton Keynes Irish Centre

19,297.82

Momentum Care Irish Elders Centre (Glasgow)

116,570.22

Monica’s Place (Birmingham)

60,532.69

New Horizon Youth Centre (London)

46,263.34

NOAH Enterprise (Luton)

132,088.38

North London Action for the Homeless

8,600.50

North Wales Irish Society

7,516.97

Northampton Irish Support Group

70,641.37

Nottingham St Patrick’s Day Parade & Festival Association

9,302.87

Over 60’s Pensioners Club (Camden, London)

1,212.42

Oxford Irish Society

2,445.52

Queen’s Park Senior Citizen Group (London)

4,152.52

Rotherham Irish Society

3,637.25

Safe Start Foundation (Middlesex)

136,054.42

Sandwell Irish Community Association

16,779.83

Sandwell Irish Society

42,021.10

SanKTus (formerly Our Lady Help of Christian’s Welfare )

67,670.95

Sheffield Irish Association

6,332.03

SIFA Fireside (Birmingham)

48,426.15

Slough Irish Society

35,077.48

Solace Women’s Aid (Camden Women’s Aid) (London)

51,527.64

Southwark Irish Culture & Arts Development

9,578.08

Southwark Irish Pensioners Project

209,975.79

Southwark Travellers Action Group

90,925.07

St Patrick’s Day Festival (London)

8,357.21

St Patrick’s Day Festival Committee (Coatbridge)

7,880.70

St. Catherine’s Mercy Centre (Edinburgh)

6,062.08

St. Michael’s Irish Centre (Liverpool)

71,515.52

St. Patrick’s Senior Tuesday Club (Leamington Spa)

6,053.27

St. Theresa’s House (Peterborough)

31,188.17

Streetwork UK (Edinburgh)

36,319.61

Tara Irish Pensioners (London)

1,210.65

The Connection at St Martin’s (London)

24,248.30

The Emerald Centre (Leicester)

56,934.62

The Golden Shamrock Club (Nottingham)

11,585.84

The Hibernian Society (Reading)

41,162.23

The Huddersfield St Patrick’s Day Parade Association

5,811.14

The Irish Arts Foundation (Leeds)

103,994.91

The Irish Club Warrington

8,777.24

The Maya Centre (London)

24,248.30

The Passage (London)

44,173.83

Tuesday Club Leeds Irish Centre

7,263.92

Tyneside Irish Centre

43,268.77

Tyneside Irish Cultural Society

26,029.06

West Hampstead Women’s Centre

7,352.09

Total

8,135,669

Motor Vehicle Registration

Billy Timmins

Ceist:

66 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Finance the changes, if any, that have taken place or are about to take place for the registration of tractors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8180/11]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a number of changes have taken place recently in relation to the registration of vehicles, including tractors. Section 61 of the Finance (No. 2) Act of 2008, made provision to allow Revenue to appoint a competent person to carry out a pre-registration examination on all vehicles presented for registration, in order to ascertain that all the conditions necessary for the registration of the vehicle and the proper administration of vehicle registration tax (VRT) have been complied with, before the vehicle could be registered. Section 109 of the Finance Act 2010, subsequently provided that Revenue could authorise a competent person to declare the vehicle details to Revenue and to collect, on behalf of Revenue, the VRT due on vehicles.

The provisions of these Acts were implemented with effect from 1 September 2010 when the NCTS, acting as a competent person appointed by Revenue, took on the role of conducting a pre-registration examination of all vehicles presented for examination in accordance with the legislation. Like other vehicles, tractors must, in the normal course of events, be presented at an NCT Centre for a pre-registration inspection. However, Revenue became aware that there were a number of tractors already in the State that, for whatever reason, were not registered in accordance with the legislation in place before 1 September 2010. It was recognised that the new legislation may place a burden on the owners of those vehicles to fulfil their registration obligations. Additionally, there may have been a number of people who, because they were not aware of the impending change, despite the extensive advertising campaign run by Revenue, that were not in a position to register their tractor immediately after import. For these reasons, Revenue did, as an interim measure until the end of 2010, waive the requirement for a tractor to be presented for examination at registration.

Directive 2003/37/EC relating to type approval of tractors was transposed into Irish law in Statutory Instrument 773 of 2005. This Instrument required that all new tractors must have a Certificate of Conformity as a prerequisite of registration. The provisions of this Instrument were fully implemented in September 2010 as part of the new registration regime. Therefore, from 1 September 2010, it was not possible to register in the State a new tractor, i.e. one that not been previously registered elsewhere, unless it was type approved in accordance with Directive 2003/37/EC and had been issued with a Certificate of Conformity.

In accordance with the provisions of the Finance Act 2010, the basis on which VRT was charged was changed on 1 January 2011, from a system of vehicle categorisation used by Revenue since the introduction of VRT, to the system of classification used by vehicle manufacturers when declaring vehicles for type approval purposes in Europe. While the new system did not have any impact on the rate of VRT charged on tractors nor on the registration procedures relating to tractors, it did, among other things facilitate the registration process in the State and in particular, the compliance with EU Directives in relation to registration.

From 28 March 2010, the Commissioners introduced an initiative that facilitated the registration of used vehicles by authorised traders. This initiative allowed authorised traders to have a pre-registration examination carried out on vehicles in stock, long before a sale is agreed. Then, when at some later date one of these previously examined vehicles are sold, the authorised dealer could complete the registration process in his own premises and pay the vehicle registration tax due, through Revenue's On-line Service (ROS).

It was decided that because of these additional changes to the registration process, the waiver in relation to tractors would be extended to allow the changed procedures and practices to bed down and thus minimise the impact of the new registration obligations on the agricultural sector. This waiver is now scheduled to cease at the end of June 2011 and from then on, tractors, like all other mechanically propelled vehicles, will be obliged to undergo a pre-registration inspection before they are registered for use in the State. In the meantime, the relevant documentation relating to the tractor and the registered owner must be presented for examination at an NCT Centre. The Deputy should also note that in accordance with Section 48 of the Finance Act 2011, the VRT rate for certain vehicles, including tractors, will be increased from €50 to €200 on 1 May 2011.

Financial Services Regulation

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

67 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Finance his plans to establish a task force on the future of the financial services sector. [8277/11]

The Programme for Government sets out that the Government is committed to the future development of the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) as a source of future employment growth subject to appropriate regulation. More than 32,000 people are directly employed in international financial services, in over 500 firms. Substantial indirect employment is also generated, and the sector contributes €2.1bn in corporate and payroll taxes to the Exchequer. Accounting for 10% of multinational employment, international financial services represents an estimated 7.4% of GDP, and 5% of EU international financial services activity is carried out from Ireland.

The fundamental goal of public policy in relation to the IFSC is to develop the international financial services industry in Ireland, built upon sustainable, responsible and internationally respected foundations, to maximise not only the number of jobs, but also the quality of employment and the future sustainability and growth prospects of the industry.

The Government believes that it is necessary to continue to adopt, articulate and implement a clear vision for the development of the IFSC to demonstrate Ireland's commitment to the promotion and growth of its international financial services industry. As part of this, work is underway on the preparation of a new strategic review for the development of the international financial services industry. Advancing the key recommendations of the Strategy through the structure of the IFSC Clearing House Group and other IFSC Working Groups will ensure that progress is advanced.

Proposed Legislation

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

68 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Finance his plans to introduce legislation to protect the interests of subcontractors; if he will ensure the inclusion of an effective exclusion from all public works tendering by contractors who have been shown to have failed to honour their commitments to contracts with subcontractors engaged by them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8328/11]

Under a public works contract the contractual relationship is between the public body and the main contractor. A public body has no contractual ties with a subcontractor engaged by a main contractor. Any contractual relationship is exclusively a matter between the main contractor and its sub-contractor. In addition, I would point out that public procurement rules are governed by EU Directives with which Irish procurement rules must comply. In this regard, the extent to which a tenderer can be automatically excluded from tendering for public works projects is confined to specified cases such as where convictions have been obtained or where grave professional misconduct can be proven.

However, the Deputy may be aware that the Construction Contracts Bill 2010 was introduced by Senator Feargal Quinn and passed Committee and remaining stages in the Seanad on 8 March 2011. The purpose of which is to help address the issue of non-payment to construction sector sub-contractors who have completed work on construction projects. I am now examining the Bill and will decide how best to proceed. It is important that a solution to the problem of non-payment must not place an unnecessary regulatory or cost burden on the parties to the dispute, other parties involved in the project, or the State. This Bill has moved to the Order Paper of the Dáil.

Tax Code

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Ceist:

69 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Finance if he will engage with his counterpart in the UK Government to address the difficulties and ensure the speedy receipt of tax and family credits to workers who reside in a Border county but who work in the Six Counties. [8351/11]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they have public offices in Sligo, Letterkenny, Monaghan and Dundalk that handle a range of queries including those relating to cross-border employments from Irish resident individuals. I am further advised that the majority of queries from Irish resident cross-border workers are relatively straightforward and are resolved without difficulty. Furthermore, the Revenue Commissioners advise that they are not aware of Irish resident cross-border workers experiencing the particular difficulties raised by the Deputy. However if the Deputy has details of individual cases of delays in the payment of tax and family credits administered by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, the taxpayers in question should be advised to contact their local HM Revenue and Customs office.

Local Authority Charges

Áine Collins

Ceist:

70 Deputy Áine Collins asked the Minister for Finance when a decision will issue on a rates exemption application in respect of a person (details supplied). [8352/11]

The Commissioner of Valuation is independent in the exercise of his duties under the Valuation Act 2001 and I, as Minister for Finance, have no function in decisions in this regard. However, I am informed by the Valuation Office that they received an application to have a pre-school facility exempted from rates on the grounds that it is exclusively used under the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme to provide sessional places for 38 weeks of the year. The Commissioner has appointed a revision officer to examine the application in order to determine if it meets the qualification criteria for exemption.

The Revision Officer is considering the case and a decision is imminent. A notice of the decision will issue to the applicant, who, if dissatisfied with the decision, will have the right to make representations in respect of the proposed revision and will have 28 days to do so, from the date of issue of the certificate.

Departmental Reports

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

71 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Finance if the report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes on State assets and liabilities will be published or made available to Dáil Éireann. [8134/11]

I presume that the Deputy's question refers to the Report of the Review Group on State Assets and Liabilities. The Government intends to consider the Report this week and I expect that it will be published shortly thereafter.

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

72 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Finance the proposals the report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes on State assets and liabilities has made in respect of Coillte and land and forestry under Coillte control. [8135/11]

I presume that the Deputy's question refers to the recommendations in the Report of the Review Group on State Assets and Liabilities. The Government intends to consider the Report this week and I expect that its recommendations, including those with respect to Coillte, will be made public shortly thereafter.

Tax Reliefs

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

73 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Finance his plans to include mortgage holders who took out mortgages in 2009 in any new proposals for mortgage interest relief on the basis that in parts of the country prices did not fall significantly until after 2009, that tracker mortgages were not available in 2009 and therefore mortgage holders had to take out dearer variable mortgages, that the banks have increased the rates on variable mortgages significantly since to cover the increase in the cost of money due to their own recklessness and to cover the loss on tracker mortgages; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8157/11]

Paschal Donohoe

Ceist:

96 Deputy Paschal Donohoe asked the Minister for Finance his views on increasing the mortgage tax relief period from seven years to 14 for those who purchased their homes between 2004 and 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8522/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 73 and 96 together.

There is a commitment in the Programme for Government to help homeowners in distress to weather the recession. The Government will examine a number of proposals, outlined in the Programme for Government, in relation to this commitment. One of these proposals relates to making amendments to mortgage interest relief for homeowners in distress. When this proposal has been thoroughly examined and analysed and the findings and recommendations are presented to me, I will decide on the appropriate action to be taken. However, it is unlikely that any measures will be introduced before Budget 2012.

Departmental Staff

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

74 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the number of persons in his Department who have applied for transfers to the social protection offices in Donegal town; if he will provide a detailed breakdown of the number of applicants; if he will provide a detailed breakdown of the time waiting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8167/11]

In respect of my Department, no applications for transfer to the Department of Social Protection Offices in Donegal were received.

Tax Collection

Jack Wall

Ceist:

75 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding an application for a P21 in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8201/11]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a PAYE Balancing Statement P21 for the year 2010 has recently issued to the person concerned.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

76 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding an application for a P21 for 2010 in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8202/11]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a PAYE Balancing Statement P21 for the year 2010 has recently issued to the person concerned.

Fiscal Policy

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

77 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance the size of the structural deficit in national budgets between 2006 and 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8224/11]

The latest published estimates of the structural deficit are presented in the table. These figures were compiled on the basis of economic and budgetary forecasts produced last autumn, and were published in graph format by my Department as an annex to the previous Government's national recovery plan.

Table 1: Structural Balance, % of GDP

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

Headline GGB

+3.0

+0.2

-7.3

-11.9

-11.7

-9.2

Structural balance

+2.1

-1.6

-7.2

-9.2

-9.0

-7.9

Source: Department of Finance, The National Recovery Plan 2011-2014, Autumn 2010

I would point out to the Deputy that my Department is currently updating its economic and budgetary projections in the context of the Stability Programme Update, which will be published and submitted to the EU Commission at the end of April. Updated estimates of the structural balance will be published with this, incorporating changes in the methodology as appropriate. Estimates of the structural deficit are determined on the basis of the harmonized methodology, developed jointly by the EU Commission and the Member States, to decompose the headline deficit into its cyclical and structural components. This structural deficit, by definition, excludes all one-off measures, which in an Irish context are primarily composed of fiscal supports to the banking sector.

In practice, all estimates of the structural position are subject to considerable uncertainty, the sources of which have been outlined in previous Stability Programme Updates. Nevertheless, it is clear that a significant part of the deficit is structural in nature, and so will not be eliminated with economic recovery. Therefore, ongoing fiscal consolidation is required to adequately address the budget deficit and thereby put the public finances on a sustainable footing.

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

78 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance the amount of budget income spent on bank recapitalisation and interest payments in national budgets between 2008 and 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8225/11]

In relation to State support for the banking sector, in 2009 the Exchequer funded a €4 billion capital injection into Anglo Irish Bank. In 2009 also, the National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF) provided for the separate €3.5 billion recapitalisations of Allied Irish Banks (AIB) and Bank of Ireland (€7.0 billion in total). The 2010 one per cent of GNP Exchequer contribution to the NPRF was frontloaded into 2009 to assist with these recapitalisations.

In 2010, €25.3 billion was committed to be provided to Anglo Irish Bank by way of Promissory Note. The terms of the Promissory Note provides, inter alia, that 10 per cent shall be paid to the Note holder each year. The first such payment, amounting to €2.53 billion, was made to the institution in March 2011. There was no Exchequer expenditure associated with this Promissory Note in 2010.

In 2010, €5.3 billion was also committed to be provided to Irish Nationwide Building Society (INBS) by way of Promissory Note. Like the Anglo Note, the terms of the INBS Promissory Note also provides, inter alia, that 10 per cent shall be paid to the Note holder each year. The first such payment, amounting to €530 million, was made to the institution in March 2011. There was no Exchequer expenditure associated with this Promissory Note in 2010. The combined payment to Anglo Irish Bank and INBS in March 2011 was €3.06 billion and this sum is provided for in the end-March 2011 Exchequer Statement under Note 6 "Non-Voted Capital Expenditure”.

In 2010, €250 million was also committed to be provided to Educational Building Society (EBS) by way of Promissory Note. Payment of the original principal sum will be made in equal annual instalments of €25 million, beginning in June 2011. There was no Exchequer expenditure associated with this Promissory Note in 2010. In 2010 also, the NPRF injected a further €3.7 billion in capital into AIB. As this injection was sourced from the NPRF, it did not impact on Exchequer spending in 2010. Finally, in 2010, the Exchequer provided €625 million to EBS by way of a special investment share and €100 million to INBS by way of a special investment share. This method of investment gave the State extensive powers and full economic ownership of the two building societies.

As regards interest payments, Exchequer interest payments on the national debt amounted to €1.5 billion in 2008, €2.5 billion in 2009, and €4.1 billion in 2010. Budget 2011 projected that Exchequer interest costs on the national debt would total €4.2 billion in 2011, with an additional €0.6 billion in national debt interest expenditure being sourced from the Capital Services Redemption Account (CSRA), bringing total debt interest expenditure in 2011 to an estimated €4.8 billion at Budget time.

Exchequer debt interest costs in the first quarter of 2011 were €791 million. In addition, a further €577 million in interest expenditure from the CSRA was used to fund debt interest costs in the first quarter of 2011. The full debt interest cash cost (including CSRA) was therefore €1,368 million. My Department is in the process of revising its macroeconomic and fiscal forecasts, including debt interest projections, as part of the Stability Programme Update which must be submitted to the European Commission by the end of April.

Ministerial Staff

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

79 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Finance the numbers, duties and grades of all persons within his Department who are assigned to work on constituency matters for him and any other Ministers assigned to his Department. [8242/11]

In my Department 4 people, detailed below, are assigned to work on constituency matters.

1 Personal Assistant

1 Executive Officer (EO)

2 Clerical Officers (CO)

My colleague, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform also has 4 people, detailed below, assigned to work on constituency matters.

1 Personal Secretary

1 Personal Assistant

2 Clerical Officers (CO)

Their roles require that they provide a range of duties associated with constituency matters for the relevant Minister.

Appointments to State Boards

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

80 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Finance the arrangements which have been made to advertise vacancies on State boards. [8250/11]

The Government has agreed that Departments will invite expressions of interest in vacancies on bodies under their aegis on their own websites.

Tax Code

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

81 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the expected reduction in VAT Exchequer receipts for the remainder of 2011, if the lower VAT rate is reduced from 13.5% to 12% from 1 July 2011; and the corresponding effect in VAT receipts for the full calendar year 2012 arising from the rate reduction. [8272/11]

The Government has committed in the Programme for Government, to lower the 13.5% reduced rate of VAT to 12% up to the end of 2013. It is estimated that a reduction of 1.5% in the reduced VAT rate with effect from 1 July 2011 would reduce Exchequer receipts for 2011 by €118m. The cost of reducing the rate to 12% in 2012, and in a full year, would be €353 million.

Banks Recapitalisation

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

82 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Finance his plans to pursue the objective of obtaining a medium term affordable facility from the European Central Bank to replace emergency funding to Ireland’s banks. [8278/11]

I would draw the Deputy's attention to the supportive statement issued by Governing Council of the ECB following the publication of the capital and liquidity assessments of the Irish banks on 31 March. The Council stated that the Eurosystem would continue to provide liquidity to banks in Ireland. In addition, the Council announced that it would accept securities under Irish Government guarantee irrespective of the credit rating. These positive moves by the ECB are a recognition of Ireland's efforts to deal with the banking crisis and clear evidence that the ECB's commitment is not merely short term. The issue of a more formal medium term arrangement will be kept under review.

Fiscal Policy

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

83 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Finance, in view of the fact that the International Monetary Fund has revised downward its estimate for growth in this country over the next three years and the EU is expected to do likewise, if further expenditure cuts or tax increases will be necessary to meet the target of reducing the budget deficit to 3% of GDP by 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8279/11]

I have noted that the IMF, in its most recent World Economic Outlook (WEO), has revised downwards its forecast for real GDP growth in Ireland to 0.5 per cent in 2011. I would point out, however, that there has been no change to the IMF's forecasts for 2012 and further out. It is normal that economic forecasts are reviewed from time to time as additional information becomes available. Indeed, there has been quite a significant economic data flow since the IMF published its previous set of forecasts in November. My own Department is currently in the process of updating its forecasts, which it will submit to the European Commission by end-April as part of the new EU Semester and as is the norm these forecasts will be published.

The Programme for Government indicated that it is appropriate to adhere to the aggregate budgetary adjustment for the combined period 2011-2012. In preparation for Budget 2013, we will review progress on deficit reduction, in terms of achieving the objective of reaching the 3 per cent of GDP deficit target by 2015. This is a sensible course of action given the current unusual degree of uncertainty surrounding the short and medium term economic growth outlook. The Government is firmly committed to meeting the 3 per cent of GDP deficit target and to implementing the necessary fiscal consolidation to ensure it is met. It is, however, too early to speculate on what measures might be needed in later years.

Banks Recapitalisation

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

84 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a breakdown of the €30 billion loans which he expects the recapitalised Irish banks to make over the next three years between small and medium enterprises, large corporations and mortgages. [8280/11]

The core pillar banks are expected to provide new lending in excess of €30 billion in the next 3 years. SME and new mortgage lending for these banks is expected to be in the range of €16-€20 billion over the 3 year period.

Mortgage Arrears

Simon Harris

Ceist:

85 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Finance the procedures and protocols in place to assist struggling mortgage holders to avoid home repossession; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8288/11]

The Deputy will be aware that the Expert Group on Mortgage Arrears and Personal Debt produced two Reports, an Interim Report published in July 2010 and a Final Report published in November 2010. All of the Expert Group's recommendations are listed in Chapter 2 of the Final Report. They can be accessed at www.finance.gov.ie. Since the publication of the Reports, the Code of Conduct for Mortgage Arrears (CCMA) has been revised by the Central Bank to reflect many of the recommendations of the Expert Group, including key recommendations relating to the introduction by all regulated lenders of a standardised Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process (MARP). The most significant changes in the revised CCMA include:

Borrowers in arrears who co-operate with the Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process (MARP) are not charged penalty interest charges;

Harassment of borrowers through unsolicited communications is outlawed;

Borrowers in financial difficulties, but not in arrears, are allowed to come under the MARP; and

When a lender is determining the 12 month period it must wait before applying to the courts to commence legal action, it must exclude any time period during which a borrower is complying with the terms of an alternative repayment arrangement, making an appeal to the internal appeals Board or making a complaint to the Financial Services Ombudsman under the CCMA.

The revised CCMA was published on 6 December 2010 and came into effect on 1 January 2011. The revised CCMA can be accessed at www.centralbank.ie. Lenders are required to comply with the CCMA as a matter of law but have been given a period of six months grace ending on 30 June 2011 to put in place the requisite systems and training of staff necessary to support the implementation of the MARP. In addition, the Central Bank has also written to lenders to issue directions under Section 149 of the Consumer Credit Act 1995 which will mean that lenders cannot impose arrears charges or penalty interest on borrowers who are co-operating with the MARP.

The Deputy will also be aware of the existing importance of the Mortgage Interest Supplement (MIS) Scheme and the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) in assisting consumers who have fallen into arrears or who are experiencing difficulties servicing their mortgage repayments. The MIS Scheme currently supports approximately 18,000 mortgage-holders. The scheme has grown very substantially since 2007 when approximately 4,000 mortgage-holders were MIS recipients. MABS provides a national, free, confidential and independent service operating from 53 offices nationwide. Its resources have been increased in recent times and in 2010 it provided services to approximately 21,000 clients while it also assisted many thousands of citizens through its telephone helpline service.

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

86 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide details of the financial institutions which are currently implementing the recommendation of a deferred interest scheme as set out by the expert group on mortgage arrears and personal debt; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8374/11]

The Central Bank has advised me that the following lenders have notified the Bank of their intention to implement the recommendation of a Deferred Interest Scheme (DIS), as set out in the final report of the Expert Group on Mortgage Arrears and Personal Debt:

Allied Irish Banks,

AIB Mortgage Bank,

Bank of Ireland,

ICS Building Society,

EBS,

Haven Mortgages,

Irish Nationwide Building Society,

Permanent TSB,

Springboard Mortgages

Start Mortgages.

As at the end of December 2010, these named institutions held a market share of approximately 65% of the value of outstanding owner-occupier mortgages in the State. The date at which lenders will be in a position to offer a DIS to borrowers varies. Some institutions expect to be in a position to offer the scheme by the middle of 2011.

Banks Recapitalisation

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

87 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if the recent bank stress tests involved an examination, on a sample basis, of the actual documentation underpinning individual commercial loans. [8375/11]

The bank stress testing exercise, the results of which were announced by the Central Bank of Ireland on 31 March last, did include a detailed review of loan files on an appropriate sampling basis. As the Deputy will be aware, the Financial Measures Programme ("FMP") announced on 31 March 2011 included an independent loan loss assessment exercise performed by BlackRock Solutions ("BlackRock"), the results of which have informed the calculation of capital requirements for AIB, Bank of Ireland, EBS and ILP under the PCAR.

BlackRock performed a comprehensive review of the loan portfolios of the PCAR banks, with the assistance of a number of accountancy firms, legal firms, and credit experts. The Central Bank also appointed The Boston Consulting Group, an international consultancy firm, to provide oversight and challenge to BlackRock's work and to ensure consistency across institutions and portfolios. To perform the loan loss assessment, loss models were custom-built for the banks' portfolios as of 31 December 2010. A data integrity and verification exercise was performed to ensure robust outputs from the loan loss assessment models. The accountancy firms, hired by BlackRock, carried out four specific activities including a loan file sampling and testing.

A detailed and comprehensive review of asset quality was carried out as part of the PCAR exercise. BlackRock and its subcontractors conducted in-depth assessments of loan portfolios by reviewing loan files and, in some cases, work-out capacity. By examining and reviewing loan files, a more accurate assessment of the value of the underlying collateral was possible, enabling a refinement of loan loss assessment assumptions. The loan file reviews focused on large loans and impaired assets. The number of files sampled varied across portfolios and banks but was sufficiently large to allow BlackRock to elicit qualitative and quantitative findings that were subsequently incorporated into their loan loss assessments.

In relation to corporate lending BlackRock loan loss assessments were based on a combination of manual loan file reviews and a more statistical probability of default/loss given default approach. These detailed manual file reviews covered 75% (by value) of loans of over €50 million and involved a full, fundamental reassessment of the loan. The results of the review informed forecasting assumptions for the remaining portfolio.

BlackRock also performed a bottom-up analysis on the larger facility exposures (˜20% of the portfolio) with a view to achieving maximum risk-based coverage. The rest of the portfolio was modelled where data permitted. As with corporate loans, BlackRock performed detailed manual file reviews for 75% by value of Commercial Real Estate loans over €50 million. An additional 200 individual CRE loans were also reviewed.

Mortgage Arrears

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

88 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance his views on Allied Irish Banks proposal to write off certain stressed residential mortgage loans; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8376/11]

I note that the Chairman of AIB has said that they are internally examining a number of measures including intergenerational mortgages and partial write off of the mortgage where the bank takes an equity share in the house. However, AIB will require the approval of the Central Bank and the Government before any of these measures are brought into effect. In assessing the suitability of any new measures three considerations will be taken into account. Firstly, any new measures should only be available to those who have genuinely tried everything to meet their obligations. Secondly, any assistance to mortgage holders must be very carefully targeted to ensure that there are no additional unnecessary costs being imposed on the tax payer. Thirdly, as a scheme open to everyone would be completely unaffordable, it would be necessary to ensure that appropriate limits with respect to costs are clearly set out and adhered to.

It should be remembered that most people are paying their mortgages in full and on time. In previous periods of difficulty, defaults on mortgages were few and today, almost three years into the financial crisis, we see very few repossessions.

Tax Collection

Jack Wall

Ceist:

89 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare has received all tax back due; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8411/11]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that PAYE Balancing Statements (forms P21) for the years 2007 to 2010 will issue to the person concerned shortly. Additional information has been requested from the person concerned regarding their income for 2011. On receipt of this information a review will be carried out for 2011.

Departmental Properties

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

90 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance when the Office of Public Works will be in a position to transfer land to Kerry County Council for the provision of Derrynane Abbey Island burial ground; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8433/11]

The Office of Public Works is continuing to progress this matter, and hopes to meet, in the immediate future, with officials from Kerry County Council in order to expedite this matter.

Tax Code

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

91 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Finance if there will be an increase in import duty on motor vehicles. [8437/11]

As there is no import duty applied to motor vehicles, I take the Deputy to mean the vehicle registration tax (VRT) payable on first registration of both new vehicles, and second hand vehicles which are imported into Ireland. I have no plans at present to immediately increase VRT.

Tax Collection

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

92 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the amount that can be saved by the State if the number on the live register falls to an average of 405,000 in 2011 in terms of average taxation receipts if these persons were to go into employment at the average industrial wage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8449/11]

As an individual's income tax contribution is based on a number of unique factors such as their taxable income and personal circumstances, it is not possible to state with absolute confidence the effect that a decrease in live register figures would have on the total labour taxes yield. Having said that, it is possible to make an estimate on the basis of reasonable, if somewhat stylised, set of assumptions.

The average tax, employee PRSI, employer PRSI and Universal Social Charge yield per annum for an individual earning the average industrial wage is €8,023. This is approximately €8 million per 1,000 employees per annum. The following assumptions were made:

The average industrial wage for 2010 of €32,089 is based on Quarter 1 weekly figures from CSO Earnings Hours and Employment Costs Survey for production, transport, craft and other manual workers grossed up;

The breakdown by marital status broadly follows the economy wide breakdown in 2010;

The yield is based on a full calendar year.

No account was taken for:

Employees' pension contributions or other salary sacrifice arrangements

Minor tax credits or income tax reliefs such as health expenses relief, rent relief, trade union subscriptions.

EU-IMF Fund

Peter Mathews

Ceist:

93 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Finance the amount of money drawn down from the International Monetary Fund denominated in special drawing rights; the amount of annual interest charged on this money denominated in SDRs; the date by which this money must be repaid to the IMF; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8499/11]

Peter Mathews

Ceist:

94 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Finance if borrowings from the International Monetary Fund will be repaid in euro or in special drawing rights; if they are being repaid in SDRs if the National Treasury Management Agency has purchased currency forwards to reduce the Exchequer’s risk to currency fluctuations; and if so the price of the currency forwards purchased; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8500/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 93 and 94 together.

The first drawdown of IMF funds under the Programme took place on 18 January 2011. The amount was SDR 5,012,425,200, equivalent to some €5.8 billion at the time of drawdown. All funds drawn from the IMF under the Programme will be repaid by a series of twelve equal semi-annual capital repayments, beginning 4.5 years after the drawdown and finishing on the tenth anniversary of the drawdown.

Interest will be paid quarterly at the IMF's standard interest applying to countries which draw on its Extended Fund Facility. This rate is set by reference to the IMF's basic rate of charge plus surcharges which vary based on the amount of funds drawn relative to a country's IMF quota and the duration for which funds are outstanding. The SDR interest rate is calculated weekly by the IMF with reference to financial instruments of each component currency in the SDR basket, expressed as an equivalent annual bond yield: three-month Eurepo rate; three-month Japanese Treasury Discount bills; three-month UK Treasury bills; and three-month US Treasury bills. Up to a threshold of three times a country's IMF quota, a margin of 1% over the SDR rate is payable. On all funds beyond that threshold, an additional margin of 2% is payable plus a further margin of 1% if the funds are outstanding for more than three years.

In view of this calculation method, the annual interest cost is variable and is also influenced by market related activities undertaken by the NTMA. The annual interest amount will be known with certainty when the full year interest payments have been made. Based on current market conditions, the NTMA has estimated an effective average annual cost of around5.20%, taking into account quota revisions and the cost of hedging and assuming drawdown of the full €22.5 billion available from the IMF.

The IMF facility is denominated in special drawing rights. The SDR is a basket of four currencies, Euro, US Dollar, Sterling and Japanese Yen. The obligation is to repay SDRs, i.e. the value of the currency amounts in the SDR basket on the due dates. The details of which currencies will be used to effect the payment of the value of the SDR on each repayment date will be discussed with the IMF prior to the payment date. The NTMA has in place a programme to hedge its liabilities in respect of the non-euro currency component of the SDR borrowings from the IMF. Detailed pricing information is commercially sensitive and not disclosed by the NTMA.

Banks Recapitalisation

Jerry Buttimer

Ceist:

95 Deputy Jerry Buttimer asked the Minister for Finance the date on which the chairman of AIB plans to start the process of voluntary redundancies for the 2,000 staff in view of the recent announcement by the AIB group. [8513/11]

Detailed discussions on all aspects of these proposals – e.g. voluntary, compulsory, terms and conditions, duration, level, etc – will have to be undertaken with all relevant parties. The Government will treat all stakeholders, including the taxpayer, with respect and consideration in these discussions. However it is not possible to be precise on the details or timing at this stage. The initial thrust of any reduction in numbers, which is an inevitable consequence of the downsizing of the banks, will be, as always, to seek voluntary redundancies. The wider impact on other covered institutions, which have to embark on similar plans, will also need to be considered.

Question No. 96 answered with Question No. 73.

Pension Provisions

Ciara Conway

Ceist:

97 Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Finance when a decision will issue on the pensions insolvency payment scheme and the details of the same with respect to former workers of a company (details supplied); if former workers under the age of 50 years will be included in the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8549/11]

The Statutory Instrument under the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2009 giving effect to the Pensions Insolvency Payment Scheme (PIPS) was signed by the then Minister for Finance on the 18th January 2010 and came into operation from 1st February 2010. It is a pilot scheme and will be in operation for three years. I can confirm that an application to the Pension Insolvency Payment Scheme from the Waterford Wedgwood pension scheme trustees has been received and is under consideration. Discussions have taken place with the trustees and staff representatives about a number of aspects of the application. I hope to be in a position to respond to the application shortly.

The purpose of the PIPS scheme is to give a better return to those pension funds in deficit where the employer has also become insolvent. Once a pension scheme has applied, my Department requests the NTMA to quote a cost for providing annuities to existing pensioners. It is envisaged that the cost to the pension fund would be less than buying an annuity on the open market. The savings made from securing the pensioners benefits through the State rather than through an insurer should then be put towards the pensions for active and deferred members and will help reduce the shortfall in the scheme. In this way the PIPS scheme will benefit those who are not already on pension, irrespective of age.

Mortgage Arrears

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

98 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance his views on a matter regarding negative equity mortgages (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8580/11]

The Final Report of the Expert Group on Mortgage Arrears and Personal Debt contained the following recommendation: “The Group notes that, for some mortgage holders who are in negative equity, trading down would produce a reduction in mortgage debt and more affordable monthly payments. The Group recommends that further consideration should be given by lenders to facilitating trading down by borrowers in this situation. Such options would have to meet relevant prudential standards, with appropriate controls in place, and be in the customers’ best interest.”

Trading down means selling a current property and buying a cheaper one. Trading down may be an option to reduce the level of mortgage repayments, resulting in more affordable monthly repayments. This recommendation is aimed at helping mortgage holders remain as home owners while reducing their level of repayments. There will also be situations where mortgage holders in negative equity may wish to move home, for example, to take up new employment opportunities. There is merit in facilitating house moves by those in negative equity in certain situations and subject to certain criteria set down by the Central Bank.

Ultimately, these are matters for lenders and the Central Bank to decide upon. Any lender planning to provide a negative equity type product must notify the Central Bank in advance to ensure that appropriate measures and controls are taken as the Central Bank must be satisfied that such a product meets relevant prudential standards and does not lead to consumers being over exposed.

Education and Training Programmes

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

99 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Education and Skills the date on which the new graduate and apprentice internship scheme will be established. [8276/11]

The Programme for Government contains proposals to support a Jobs Initiative which will provide additional places in training, work experience and educational opportunities for those who are out of work. This will include an Internship Scheme which will be under the remit of the Department of Social Protection. Further details regarding the Jobs Initiative and an Internship Scheme will be announced shortly by the Government.

Special Educational Needs

Peter Mathews

Ceist:

100 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to make a start on the implementation of the 2001 Government task force report on autism; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8148/11]

The Deputy will be aware that in its October 2001 report, the Task Force on Autism made many recommendations concerning broad educational provision for children on the autistic spectrum from pre-school through to third level. I am pleased to advise the Deputy that these recommendations have provided a basis for the development of educational services and supports for children with autism including the establishment of a range of options for children with autism spectrum disorders, training for teachers in autism-specific approaches and interventions and early educational intervention. In responding to the recommendations, my Department has given priority to implementing the core legislative and structural measures required to underpin service development and delivery.

My Department's policy is focused on ensuring that all children including those with autism can have access to an education appropriate to their needs, preferably in school settings through the primary and post primary school network. This facilitates access to individualised education programmes, fully qualified professional teachers who may draw from a range of autism-specific interventions, special needs assistants, and the appropriate school curriculum with the option where possible of full/partial integration and interaction with other pupils.

As each child with autism is unique it is important that children have access to a range of interventions so their broader needs can be met. For example some children may be supported in a special class attached to a mainstream school. These students have the option, where appropriate, of full/partial integration and interaction with other pupils. Other children may have such complex needs that they are best placed in a special school. Students with special educational needs have access to a range of support services including additional teaching and/or care supports. In special schools and special classes, students are supported through lower pupil teacher ratios. Special needs assistants may also be recruited specifically where pupils with disabilities and significant care needs are enrolled.

Reflective of the important role of continuing professional development and as recommended by the Task Force on Autism my Department has put in place a training programme for teachers in autism-specific interventions including Treatment and Education of Autistic Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH), Picture Exchange Communications System (PECS) and Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) through the Special Education Support Service.

Foireann Scoile

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

101 D’fhiafraigh Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Oideachais agus Scileanna cé mhéid scoil i ngach contae nach bhfuil ann ach príomhoide mar mhúinteoir ranga; cé mhéid scoil i ngach contae nach bhfuil de mhúinteoirí ranga ann ach príomhoide agus cúntóir amháin; cad iad ainmneacha na scoileanna sin agus an uimhir rolla agus líon na scoláirí i ngach scoil acu; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [8153/11]

Áiríonn Rannán na Staitisticí ar shuíomh gréasáin mo Roinne eolas forleathan a bhaineann le rollúcháin daltaí, méideanna na ranganna, méideanna na scoileanna agus an líon múinteoirí. Baineann na figiúirí is déanaí a foilsíodh leis an scoilbhliain 2009/10. Tá eolas staitisticúil i leith na scoilbhliana 2010/11 in úd a fhoilsithe i Meán Fómhair 2011.

Special Educational Needs

Dominic Hannigan

Ceist:

102 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if there is a timeline for the review of the allocation of special needs assistants hours currently under way between him and the National Council for Special Education; the length of time the current pause on sanctioning additional resource teaching support hours will be in place; his plans for the academic year 2011-12 with regard to SNA support in schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8173/11]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating resource teachers and SNAs to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. This now includes a requirement for the NCSE to have regard to an overall cap on the number of SNA posts.

This number is 10,575 whole time equivalent (WTE) posts. This is a significant number of posts and unlike other areas of the public sector vacancies are being filled up to this number. It also represents continual increases in the number of SNAs over recent years. For example, there were 10,543 WTE SNA posts in place at the end of 2010 and 10,342 at end 2009. 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 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. The NCSE asked schools to submit all applications for SNA support to them by 18th March, 2011 and intend to inform schools of their annual SNA allocation as soon as possible, in advance of the coming school year.

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.

In respect of the allocation of Resource Teaching hours, the Department of Education and Skills (DES) is required to ensure that the overall allocation of teaching posts does not exceed the targets set out in the Governments Employment Control Framework. The DES had planned for a certain amount of increased growth in teacher numbers across the school sector in 2011, in line with increased demographic growth. In respect of resource teaching hours for children with special educational needs, allowance was made for growth in 2011 over and above normal demographic increase levels. In 2010 the total number of Whole Time Equivalent (WTE) posts provided for resource hours teaching (including under the General Allocation Model) was approximately 9,600 WTE posts. By comparison approximately 9,950 WTE posts are provided for 2011. There has therefore not been a reduction in the overall number of resource hours/posts being provided for in 2011.

The DES requested the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) to provide data on the numbers and rate of application for additional resource teaching hours to date this year so that this information can be considered in the context of the Department's Employment Control Framework obligations. The NCSE has also been asked to pause sanctioning additional resource teaching support hours to allow for collection and consideration of this data by the DES, in conjunction with the NCSE. It should be noted that this is a temporary suspension of the allocation process in order to allow for consideration and analysis of this issue prior to any decisions being made.

The NCSE has issued a Circular to schools advising them that the final date for schools to submit any outstanding, completed, applications for resource teaching supports is 13th May 2011. On receipt of all outstanding applications the DES and NCSE will be in a position to consider resource allocation for the coming school year, in the context of the Department's Employment Control Framework obligations. Schools will be notified of their allocations as soon as possible. In the interim, children who are eligible for resource/ learning support teaching can receive this tuition through the existing learning support provision in schools, either though the General Allocation Model or existing Learning Support provision.

School Staffing

John Deasy

Ceist:

103 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide details of the qualifying criteria which will enable secondary schools to qualify for additional teacher equivalent units; his plans to introduce a review system to allow schools to make their own individual case pertaining to their circumstances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8176/11]

Teacher allocations to all second level schools are approved annually by my Department in accordance with established rules based on recognised pupil enrolment. In accordance with these rules each school management authority is required to organise its subject options within the limit of its approved teacher allocation. The deployment of teaching staff in the school, the range of subjects offered and ultimately the quality of teaching and learning are in the first instance a matter for the school management authorities. The criteria for the allocation of teaching posts at post-primary level, including the appeals mechanism, is published on my Department's website at www.education.ie.

Teaching Qualifications

Joe McHugh

Ceist:

104 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to enable an organisation (details supplied) to conduct accredited courses in post-primary education; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8187/11]

The Teaching Council has statutory responsibility under the Teaching Council Act, 2001 (Section 38) to review and accredit programmes of initial teacher education in Ireland. The Council is independent in carrying out assessments of such programmes and my Department has no role in the matter. I am informed by the Council that the organisation to which the Deputy refers has submitted a Post Graduate Diploma in Education (Post-primary) programme to the Teaching Council for accreditation. The process of review is at an advanced stage and it is hoped that the Council will be in a position to consider the review outcome shortly.

School Curriculum

Peter Mathews

Ceist:

105 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Education and Skills the funding or grants available for teaching music in primary schools as part of the curriculum; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8199/11]

Music is a core part of the arts curriculum in all classes in all primary schools and comprises listening and responding, performing and composing activities. A revised primary curriculum in Music was introduced in 2005, supported by a national programme of professional development for teachers. I am very aware of the excellent work being done by schools using music as a key vehicle to promote inclusion and effective learning. As with other areas of the curriculum, the operational costs of providing music in the curriculum are funded from the capitation grants paid to schools. There are no additional grants for this purpose.

Schools in DEIS and School Completion Projects are provided with additional funding and have discretion as to how best to spend these funds within a framework of guidelines set out by my Department. The guidelines provide that funding may be used on initiatives to support retention, supporting and engaging parents and the wider community, co-operation with the youth sector, promoting cross curricular literacy initiatives, music, dance, drama, and promoting social, sport and leisure activities which impact on children's learning. Music education projects fall well within the parameters of what can be funded under DEIS and the School Completion Programme.

National Schools receive an Ancillary services grant of €147 per pupil plus a capitation grant of €190 per pupil; the grants are based on school enrolments on the 30th September. Post-primary schools receive school services grant of €201 per pupil plus capitation grant of €328 per pupil. Enhanced capitation of €14.07 million (€10.767million at primary level & €3.302 million at post primary level) was allocated to DEIS schools in the current school year, ranging from €500 to €96,000 at primary level and €1,300 to €56,000 at post primary level. The calculation of this enhanced capitation is based on the enrolment of the school and its level of educational disadvantage relative to other schools. Guidelines issue to schools on how this additional funding should be utilised.

Other than the additional resources available through DEIS and the School Completion Programme to schools designated as disadvantaged, my Department is not in a position at this time to provide additional funding to support additional Music provision in primary schools. However, a partnership between U2, Music Network, the International Funds for Ireland and the education sector is enabling a series of music education partnerships to be established around the country on a phased basis to provide vocal and instrumental music tuition for young people. The initiative was made possible by a donation of €5m from U2, and a commitment from the Ireland Funds to raise €2m. These contributions will fund the initiative in the early years of development, with the intention that programmes will be continued into the future with Exchequer funding when the donations cease.

The initiative is being managed by a company called Music Generation (www.musicgeneration.ie). A call for proposals was issued on 17 January 2011 seeking applications from local Music Education Partnerships across the country who wish to apply for funding. Music Generation aims to help children and young people to access music education in their own locality. The focus is on co-ordinated area-based provision as part of a partnership, not on funding for individual schools.

Funding for up to twelve Music Education Partnerships will be awarded by Music Generation on a phased basis from 2011-2015, most likely in three locations at a time. Music Education Partnerships are eligible to apply for 50% funding, up to a maximum of €200,000 per annum over three years. The closing date for Round 1 applications was March 31st, 2011, but there will be further rounds of the initiative each year until 12 partnerships are established. The lead partner in the Music Education Partnership must be a statutory agency.

The provision of music in the school curriculum, supplemented by an expanding network of music education partnerships, and the provision of some 68,000 hours of music tuition provided in certain locations in the form of co-operation hours through the VEC system, allied with flexible funds for DEIS and School Completion Programme schools together form part of the strategy to widen access to music education for young people in the period ahead.

Adult Literacy

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

106 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will detail the direct funding provided for adult literacy initiatives in 1997 and in 2010; and the number of persons participating in State-funded adult literacy courses in each of those years. [8208/11]

My Department provides funds to Vocational Education Committees (VECs) which deliver adult literacy services. That funding has increased from €1 million in 1997 to €30 million in 2010. The number of adult literacy participants that received tuition increased from 5,000 to 50,000 in the same period.

Psychological Service

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

107 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will detail the number of full-time equivalent educational psychologists employed in the 1996/97 school year and in the current school year; and the number of pupils receiving an assessment in each of those years. [8209/11]

I can inform the Deputy that all primary and post-primary schools have access to psychological assessments either directly through my Department's National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) or through the Scheme for Commissioning Psychological Assessments (SCPA). Schools that do not currently have NEPS psychologists assigned to them may avail of the SCPA, whereby the school can have an assessment carried out by a member of the panel of private psychologists approved and paid for by NEPS.

By way of background, NEPS, in common with many other psychological services and best international practice, has adopted a consultative model of service. The focus is on empowering teachers to intervene effectively with pupils whose special needs range from mild to severe and transient to enduring. Psychologists use a problem solving and solution focused consultative approach to maximize positive outcomes for these pupils. NEPS encourages schools to use a continuum based assessment and intervention process whereby each school takes responsibility for initial assessment, educational planning and remedial intervention for pupils with learning, emotional or behavioural difficulties.

Teachers may consult their NEPS psychologist should they need to at this stage in the process. Only in the event of a failure to make reasonable progress, in spite of the school's best efforts in consultation with NEPS, will the psychologist become involved with an individual child for intensive intervention. This system allows psychologists to give early attention to urgent cases and also to help many more children indirectly than could be seen individually. It also ensures that children are not referred unnecessarily for psychological intervention.

Prior to 1999 an educational psychology service was provided to schools by Inspectors of Guidance & Counselling as part of my Department's Inspectorate Division. In 1995/96 some 4 whole-time equivalent (w.t.e.) Senior Inspectors and 35.5 w.t.e Inspectors were employed in this capacity. It is not known how many assessments would have been undertaken by these officers in 1995/96 but the focus of the service and the context in which it operated was essentially different to that which pertains currently with particular attention being paid to the support of guidance counsellors in post-primary school and a more limited engagement with primary schools.

NEPS was established in 1999 and currently NEPS employs 174 (167.3 w.t.e.) psychologists at Director, Regional Director, Senior Psychologist and Psychologist grades. The figures for the number of named pupils referred to the service in the current year are not yet available as such referrals are still ongoing. In the previous academic year some 7,888 referrals were undertaken by NEPS 149.4 w.t.e. psychologists and an additional 2,400 referrals catered for under the SCPA referred to previously. Additionally NEPS psychologists offer general advice and guidance on unnamed pupils and it is estimated that a further 7,500 pupils would have so benefitted from this input in that year. NEPS psychologists also made recommendations on applications from some 4,100 students under the Reasonable Accommodation for Certificate Examinations on behalf of the State Examinations Commission and assisted in almost 100 critical incidents (instances of trauma connected with schools) at the behest of school authorities.

Adult Literacy

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

108 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the surveys that have been carried out on adult literacy rates since the major report published in 1997 and his plans in this regard. [8210/11]

The last major survey of adult literacy in Ireland was the survey referred to by the Deputy — the OECD International Adult Literacy Survey (IALS) which was carried out in 1995 and published in 1997. My Department is funding Ireland's participation in a new international adult literacy survey — the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). PIAAC is being organised by the OECD and is being administered in Ireland by the Central Statistics Office (CSO). The survey is scheduled to be conducted in August 2011 and results are expected to be published in 2013.

PIAAC involves surveying adults (between the ages of 16-64) in their homes on a range of skills covering the interest, attitude and capacity of individual adults to access, manage, understand, integrate and evaluate various types of information (principally text and numerical) as well as to respond and communicate with others in the information age. It will focus on the key cognitive and workplace skills that are required for successful participation in the economy and society of the 21st century.

School Staffing

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

109 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills the criteria issued to boards of management in relation to the filling of temporary teaching posts in schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8212/11]

I assume the Deputy is referring to Circular 19/2011 which commences the redeployment process for surplus permanent teachers at primary level. This circular, which is available on my Department's website, sets out the detailed arrangements for the operation of the redeployment process. The process of allocating teaching resources to schools for 2011/2012 and the arrangements for filling vacant or new teaching posts, including temporary posts, takes place in the context of the EU/IMF Programme of Support for Ireland and the Public Service Agreement 2010/2014.

It is necessary for my Department to exercise additional control and reporting measures this year to ensure that the numbers of teachers employed in schools is consistent with the EU/IMF Programme of Support for Ireland. This requires that all permanent and fixed term positions are in the first instance made available to those surplus teachers with either permanent contracts or contracts of indefinite duration. It is the intention of the Department to restore recruitment from fixed-term teachers on the main panels, supplementary panels or public advertisement at the earliest possible opportunity, after all the surplus permanent teachers have been redeployed.

Ministerial Staff

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

110 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Education and Skills the numbers, duties and grades of all persons within his Department who are assigned to work on constituency matters for him and any other Ministers assigned to his Department. [8239/11]

At a Government meeting held on the 15th March, 2011, it was decided to reduce the number of staff permitted at Ministers' constituency offices from 6 to 4 and Minister of State's constituency offices from 5 to 3. There are currently 2 officers in my Constituency Office. Their grades are as follows: 1 Higher Executive Officer; 1 Staff Officer. There is currently 1 (0.8 full time equivalent) officer, at Staff Officer grade, in the Constituency Office of the Minister of State at my Department. The duties of the above staff, who are all civil servants, are appropriate to their grade. Further appointments will be in accordance with the above Government Decision.

Company Closures

Noel Grealish

Ceist:

111 Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding unpaid subcontractors who were working on a project under a company (details supplied) which has gone into receivership; if any funds have been made available to the university, which were not handed over to this company; if this will be made available to pay subcontractors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8296/11]

In the period prior to the appointment of the Receiver in this case, the University in question discharged all of its financial responsibilities under its contract with the main contractor directly to the contractor as normal. Any monies now owed by the main contractor to sub contractors fall to be addressed by the Receiver. In these circumstances, the University is unable to assist the sub contractors other than to advise that they contact the Receiver directly in these matters.

Schools Building Projects

Noel Grealish

Ceist:

112 Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application under the school building programme by a school (details supplied) in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8297/11]

The brief for the building project to which the Deputy refers was revised in 2007 from an extension/refurbishment of existing accommodation to one intended to provide two new schools on the existing site. The Deputy will note that this project was not included in the 2011 school building work programme announced earlier this year. The progression of all large scale building projects, including this project, from initial design stage through to construction phase will continue to be considered in the context of the Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme.

FÁS Training Programmes

Joe McHugh

Ceist:

113 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will describe and explain a process (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8311/11]

The new system of tendering for FÁS courses will require registration on a Contracted Training Tender List (CTTL). All training providers, including those currently on the CTTL, who wish to register on the CTTL will have to meet the requirements of a new pre-qualification process which will be managed by the FÁS Procurement Department in conjunction with the FÁS Training, Policy & Development Services (TPDS) Division.

FÁS Procurement Department will shortly advertise on the Government e-tender website seeking expressions of interest from qualified training providers to form part of a panel. FÁS may add to this panel at regular intervals. This panel will form the basis of the CTTL. Providers may apply for multiple regions and several training domains. The outcome of the pre-qualification exercise will be a list of valid providers that are qualified to deliver training on behalf of FÁS by domain and region, for example forklift driving in Letterkenny, ECDL in Tralee. All successful applicants will receive a document detailing the rules which will be developed by the Training, Policy & Development Services (TPDS) Division. They will also be invited to attend a briefing session where operational procedures and other required information will be disseminated. All providers must agree to operate within these parameters before they are awarded any contract.

Every training course required by individual FÁS Regions will be procured by requesting tenders from randomly selected eligible suppliers on the CTTL panel. Tender returns will be scored using a MEAT (Most Economical Advantageous Tender) process. The highest scoring tenderer will be offered the contract where the conditions of the contract are met. All contractors on the list will receive an opportunity to tender before any contractor will be requested to tender a second time.

School Staffing

Joe McHugh

Ceist:

114 Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the status of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8313/11]

In accordance with the Education Act 1998, teachers are employed by the management authority of each individual school. Accordingly, a teacher' s status/position in a school is a matter for the management authority concerned. The sick leave scheme for teachers is the subject of a collective agreement reached at the Teachers' Conciliation Council and the terms are set out in Circular Letter 0060/2010.

School Text Books

Clare Daly

Ceist:

115 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to high mark-up on the prices of school books here, which adds further financial burden to parents putting children through school; if his further attention has been drawn to the fact that awarding of licences to several big publishing companies contributes to this situation; and if he will examine this issue. [8338/11]

My Department has no role in the production and publication of school text books. Accordingly, I am not in a position to speculate on the cost of school books, which is determined on a commercial basis by the educational publishers who commission them. I can also confirm that my Department does not administer any licensing scheme, and I am unaware of any licensing scheme run by any other Department.

My Department intends to issue funding to primary schools in April and to post-primary schools in June to enable them to provide assistance for school books. Details of the funding were notified to schools by circulars 0023/2011 (primary level) and 0024/2011 (post-primary level), which are available on my Department's website. In these circulars, schools are urged to use this funding to establish book rental schemes, as these are the most effective means of lowering costs for all students.

Funding will be allocated on the following basis: — €11 per pupil in primary schools; — €21 per pupil in primary schools within the Delivering Equality in Schools (DEIS) scheme; — €24 per pupil in post-primary; or — €39 per pupil in post-primary schools within the DEIS scheme. This funding arrangement affords schools the autonomy to utilise funding in the most effective way based on their particular knowledge of their student needs. The previous system required schools to apply each year to my Department for a book grant, which resulted in a significant administrative burden, both for schools and my Department.

School Placement

John Lyons

Ceist:

116 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Education and Skills if it will be possible for a person (details supplied) in Dublin 11 to be allowed to finish the second year of their leaver’s programme at a school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8342/11]

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department has recently written to all Special Schools to advise them that it will consider requests from school authorities 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. As such, I would ask the Deputy to advise the parents of the pupil in question to raise the issue of extension of enrolment directly with the school authorities, so that they might make an application to retain the student to my Department, who will consider such a request in accordance with the criteria outlined above.

School Transport

Jim Daly

Ceist:

117 Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a school (details supplied) in County Cork which serves the educational needs of a minority community which will be curtailed by the proposed reduction in the minimum numbers required for school transport service with the loss of two bus routes currently serving the school. [8355/11]

The changes to the school transport scheme were announced in the 2011 Budget by the previous Fianna Fáil-Green Party Government and derive from a recommendation in the recently published Value for Money Review of the scheme. From the beginning of the 2011/12 school year, services under the minimum numbers, either single services or which are part of double tripping arrangements, will be discontinued. A pick up density of 10 eligible pupils in a distinct locality on a particular route will be required to establish or retain services.

The details of the routes and the number of buses required will only be finalised later this year when applications/payments/exemptions have been processed by Bus Eireann. As is currently the case, where an eligible pupil cannot avail of a service, eligible families can apply for the transport grant (traditionally called the remote area grant) which is payable based on distance travelled up to a maximum of 9.7 kilometres. Given the major financial constraints facing the country, I cannot reverse the changes to school transport as announced by the previous government in Budget 2011. We all have to understand the legacy of economic mismanagement which the last Government gave to the country.

School Staffing

Ciara Conway

Ceist:

118 Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding incremental credit rights in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8360/11]

The scheme of incremental credit for primary teachers is the subject of a collective agreement reached at Teachers' Conciliation Council and the terms are set out in Circular letter 10/2001. The application for incremental credit submitted by the person referred to by the Deputy was for service given in a private institution outside the European Union. The school in which the service was given did not offer a range of studies incorporating all of the courses prescribed on the national curriculum of the country in which it was located. The service given did not, therefore, meet the criteria of the scheme. The person concerned was notified in writing of my Department's decision on the 13 December 2010.

Schools Refurbishment

Sean Fleming

Ceist:

119 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a school (details supplied) in County Carlow will be approved under the summer works scheme; when announcements on this matter are expected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8398/11]

I can confirm that the school in question submitted an application for the works referred to by the Deputy under the 2011 Summer Works Scheme. A list of 453 successful schools was announced on 30 March 2011 and I regret that the application made by the school referred to by the Deputy was not selected. A letter to this effect has issued to the school.

Applications from schools for gas, mechanical and electrical works were prioritised for Summer Works funding this year. Unfortunately, due to the scale of demand for funding under the scheme, it was not possible to grant aid all applications. The capital budget allocated for the Summer Works Scheme has been reduced this year and it has been necessary to prioritise some categories of works over others. My Department has sought to prioritise the funds that are available towards works that are most relevant to the health and safety of staff and students alike in our schools.

Educational Disadvantage

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

120 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills when he will publish the review of delivering equality and opportunity in schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8424/11]

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

121 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will support changes to the delivering equality and opportunity in schools programme in order that it takes into account rural disadvantage as much as urban disadvantage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8425/11]

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

122 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will support changes to delivering equality and opportunity in schools programmes in order that the money follows disadvantaged students as opposed to disadvantaged schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8426/11]

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

123 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills the current weaknesses he perceives in the delivering equality and opportunity in schools programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8427/11]

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

124 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of voluntary schools currently under the delivering equality and opportunity in schools programme; the number of vocational education committee schools under the delivering equality and opportunity in schools programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8428/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 120 to 124, inclusive, together.

DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools), the action plan for Educational Inclusion was launched on 30 May 2005 and has been rolled out on a phased basis – commencing during the school year 2005/2006. The action plan provides for a standardised system for identifying levels of disadvantage and an integrated School Support Programme (SSP). The process of identifying primary and second-level schools for participation in DEIS was managed externally by the Educational Research Centre (ERC) on behalf of my Department and was supported by quality assurance work, co-ordinated through the Department's regional offices and the Inspectorate. The identification process was also supported by an Advisory Group which included representatives of the INTO and the Irish Primary Principals' Network.

A comprehensive evaluation of DEIS has been underway since the roll out of supports commenced in 2006. The Department commissioned the Educational Research Centre to undertake this evaluation and a report of this evaluation from the ERC is expected shortly. This report is the second in a series of reports concerning the ERC's ongoing evaluation of DEIS. A previous evaluation report on DEIS focusing on rural disadvantage is available for download on the Educational Research Centre website (www.erc.ie). I envisage that the next report from the ERC will also be made available following consideration within my Department and by the representative Advisory Group.

The Department's Inspectorate has also conducted an evaluation of the implementation of DEIS in a number of primary and post primary schools. The report from this exercise is also expected in the near future. It is expected that these evaluations will clarify any potential weaknesses in the processes of selecting the participating schools, the configuration and merits of the support programme and in the implementation process.

Evidence strongly suggests that disadvantage associated with rural poverty does not have the same impact on educational achievement as is the case in the urban context. While urban and rural disadvantage share many characteristics, such as poverty, unemployment and poor housing conditions such disadvantage in a rural context does not have the same impact on educational performance. Evidence from the recent evaluation of DEIS rural primary schools found that children attending DEIS rural primary schools are performing almost at the national averages in literacy and numeracy. There is no evidence that additional teaching supports for these schools will make any meaningful difference to educational achievement. Nonetheless some 331 rural DEIS primary schools are supported with additional financial provision; access to the school meals programme; access to after-school and holiday programmes; access for teachers to a range of professional development programmes to assist in supporting the educational needs of children in these schools.

All publicly funded schools continue to be supported through the allocation of general and specifically targeted learning and resource supports at an overall cost exceeding some €600m. These supports are provided to address the learning needs of those who are identified as requiring additional supports. There is no evidence to support a case that DEIS related supports should be provided to schools with few disadvantaged children. While such children may suffer poverty or social disadvantage, this does not automatically translate as achievement disadvantage and where it does it should be addressed through the learning and resource supports provided.

There is significant evidence from research, both in Ireland and elsewhere, that the achievement disadvantages associated with poverty are exacerbated when large proportions of pupils in a school are from poor backgrounds (a ‘social context' effect). It is appropriate, therefore, from a policy point of view, to target resources at schools in which disadvantage is most concentrated. DEIS supports are designed to meet the additional needs of schools in recognition of the concentrated nature of their disadvantage.

DEIS was the outcome of the first full review of all programmes for tackling educational disadvantage that had been in place in the preceding twenty years. The DEIS plan has been warmly received across the education sector. That is not to say that there are not improvements that can be made in any renewal of DEIS. The implementation and evaluation of DEIS has been continuously supported by ongoing consultation with Education Partners and stakeholders. In addition there is a commitment to consult widely on any new process for the identification of schools and the renewal of DEIS.

In the current climate my Department's main focus is to retain, where possible, key resources in the schools targeted under the DEIS initiative. This approach is in line with the broad thrust of the recommendations of the Comptroller and Auditor General in his report on Primary Disadvantage in 2006, which suggested that the Department should focus its educational disadvantage measures on those schools serving the most disadvantaged. The list of all schools in the DEIS programme is available on my Department's website: www.education.ie. There are 200 post primary schools in the DEIS programme. The breakdown between the sectors is as follows: Community & Comprehensive Schools 26; Voluntary Secondary Schools 48 and VEC schools 126.

Redundancy Payments

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

125 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a breakdown in the calculation of redundancy payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare. [8431/11]

A breakdown of the calculation of the redundancy payment made to the person referred to by the Deputy will be provided to her by my Department.

School Transport

Sandra McLellan

Ceist:

126 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will ensure that new entrants whose nearest school is the closed school in Ladysbridge, County Cork, will be allowed to continue to be eligible for transport to a school (details supplied). [8432/11]

The changes to school transport services were announced in the 2011 Budget by the previous Fianna Fáil-Green Party Government and derive from a recommendation in the recently published Value for Money Review of the scheme. The change to the closed school rule, referred to by the Deputy, means that the distance criteria will be applied uniformly and equitably on a national basis. All pupils travelling to a Central School/School of Amalgamation including those children starting school in September 2011, will continue to be eligible for transport to that Central School/School of Amalgamation school for the duration of their primary education, provided they meet the distance criterion.

From the 2012/2013 school year, school transport eligibility for all pupils newly entering national schools will be determined by reference to the nearest national school, having regard to ethos and language. Existing eligible primary pupils availing of transport under the Rule in question will retain transport eligibility for the duration of their schooling, provided the requisite distance criterion is met. Given the major financial constraints facing the country, I cannot reverse the changes to school transport as announced by the previous government in Budget 2011. We all have to understand the legacy of economic mismanagement which the last Government gave to the country.

School Staffing

Michael Creed

Ceist:

127 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Education and Skills the situation regarding access rights for teachers to the supplementary panel; the reason he has decided to change the criteria which previously permitted the requisite three years to consist of teaching experience acquired through parental leave, maternity leave and fixed term contracts but is now prioritising fixed term contract holders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8446/11]

My Department has not made changes to the supplementary panel which is made up of teachers with fixed term and/or substitute service. My Department has prioritised permanent and contract of indefinite duration (CID) holding teachers within the main redeployment panels so that all vacancies are offered in the first instance to these teachers. The purpose of this is to maximise the opportunities for the redeployment of these permanent and CID holding teachers.

The process of allocating teaching resources to schools for 2011/2012 and the arrangements for filling vacant or new teaching posts takes place in the context of the EU/IMF Programme of Support for Ireland and the Public Service Agreement 2010/2014. It is necessary for my Department to exercise additional control and reporting measures this year to ensure that the numbers of teachers employed in schools is consistent with the EU/IMF Programme of Support for Ireland. It is the intention of the Department to restore recruitment from fixed-term teachers on the main panels, supplementary panels or public advertisement at the earliest possible opportunity, after all the surplus permanent teachers have been redeployed.

Jerry Buttimer

Ceist:

128 Deputy Jerry Buttimer asked the Minister for Education and Skills when the vacant post of director of adult education in a school (details supplied) in County Cork will be filled. [8463/11]

When the moratorium was introduced the Government exempted Principal and Deputy Principal posts in all primary and post-primary schools and these continue to be replaced in the normal manner. The impact of the moratorium is therefore limited to the Director of Adult Education, Assistant Principal and Special Duties allowances payable to teachers on promotion. Vacancies at this level arise due to retirements in the specific grades and typically also from the knock on effect of filling Principal and Deputy Principal posts.

Some further limited alleviation was introduced for schools that are acutely affected by the impact of the moratorium. The alleviation arrangements are set out in Circular 42/2010. Most of the alleviation arrangements are already in place. Any remaining applications, which include the school referred to by the Deputy, will be examined and prioritised as soon as possible. Individual schools will be notified in due course.

FÁS Training Programmes

Dominic Hannigan

Ceist:

129 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of persons in County Meath who have finished FÁS training courses in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010; the number of persons who have yet to be awarded qualification since they finished their training; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8464/11]

People from Co. Meath participate on FÁS training courses in all regions throughout the 26 counties. The numbers are set out in the table. Requests for certification are processed in the region in which the training takes place and the methodology used varies depending on the programme type. To establish who has yet to be awarded certification would require significant resources and time. Unfortunately, it is not possible to provide this information at this time.

Region

2007

2008

2009

2010

Total

City Centre

309

237

271

138

955

Fingal

132

129

259

327

847

South Dublin

18

29

52

188

287

Midlands

50

60

78

77

265

Mid West

16

10

15

7

48

North East

786

936

1,265

1,494

4,481

North West

44

48

25

19

136

South East

10

16

27

36

89

South West

14

26

22

32

94

West

6

5

1

7

19

Total

1,385

1,496

2,015

2,325

7,221

Training and Work Experience Programmes

Dominic Hannigan

Ceist:

130 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of training and work experience activation places funded by him in County Meath in 2010, broken down by type of course or work experience programme; the funding allocated to each type of course or programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8465/11]

In 2010, the Government funded 6,195 training, education and work experience places in County Meath at a cost of €27.8 million. FÁS, the main training provider for the unemployed, provided 1,979 training and work experience places at a cost of €17.7 million in County Meath last year. The Labour Market Activation Fund provided 880 activation places in County Meath to the unemployed in 2010. This Fund was launched in March 2010, in order to assist in the creation of training and education provision for specific priority groups among the unemployed.

The Further Education Sector also provided 3,336 education places in County Meath in 2010. These education places were also open to the unemployed and included full-time places through the Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS), Youthreach, Senior Traveller Training Centre (STTC), Post Leaving Certificate programmes and part-time places through the Back to Education Initiative, Adult Literacy and Community Education. I have detailed in the table the number of activation and work experience places available in County Meath, in 2010.

Type of Course/Programme

Number of Places

Funding 2010

FÁS Activation and Work Experience Places

Technical Employment Support Grant

345

148,487

Specific Skills Training

450

2,072,412

Local Training Initiative

156

684,716

Specialist Training Providers

81

1,014,125

Community Training Centre

93

582,718

Community Employment

828

13,166,281

Work Experience Programme

26

0

Total FÁS Activation and Work Experience Places

1,979

17,668,740

Labour Market Activation Fund

Science IT Smart Skills — level 5, County Meath VEC

100

345,000

Smart Skills — FETAC level 3, County Meath VEC

600

1,236,000

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

40

118,330

Wood Energy and Biomass Training programme, level 5 — Meath Partnership

60

128,575

Artisan Food Skills Development — FETAC level 4 — Meath Partnership

80

128,575

Total Labour Market Activation Fund places

880

€1,956,480

Further Education Places — Co. Meath VEC

Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS)

70

1,215,541

Youthreach

185

3,131,547

Senior Traveller Training Centre programme (STTC)

30

866,097

Post Leaving Certificate programme (PLC)

328

1,649,105*

Back to Education Initiative (BTEI)

746

469,687

Adult Literacy

1,545

642,315

Community Education

432

250,450

Total Further Education Places

3,336

8,224,742

Total Activation and Work Experience Places

6,195

27,849,962

*This is an estimated figure which includes Teacher Pay, Capitation and Maintenance Grants.

School Placement

Peter Fitzpatrick

Ceist:

131 Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will find a place for a student (details supplied) in County Louth who has been unable to enrol at a secondary school in Dundalk. [8495/11]

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, Floor 1, Grove Court, Blanchardstown Dublin 15, Tel: 01 8103261. I understand that the parents of the student in question have submitted an Appeal under Section 29. My officials are liaising with the school authorities on the matter.

Schools Refurbishment

David Stanton

Ceist:

132 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount of money allocated under the 2009 and 2010 summer works schemes respectively; the amount of the budget which was expended each year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8501/11]

The funding allocated to the 2009 Summer Works Scheme amounts to €109m with expenditure incurred in 2009 of €100.7m; in 2010 of €6.4m and to date in 2011 a sum of €0.5m. The funding allocated to the 2010 Summer Works Scheme amounts to €138m with expenditure incurred in 2010 of €124.5m and to date in 2011 a sum of €6m.

School Patronage

Paudie Coffey

Ceist:

133 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to open a second level Educate Together school in Waterford city; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8502/11]

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 address this policy and I will consider the role that all patron bodies, including Educate Together, can play in ensuring our education system caters for a pluralism of choice which reflects the needs of Ireland today and into the future.

Teachers’ Remuneration

Paschal Donohoe

Ceist:

134 Deputy Paschal Donohoe asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding salary arrangements in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 7; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8509/11]

The case referred to by the Deputy is being examined by officials of my Department at present. The person referred to by the Deputy will be advised of the position as soon as possible.

School Curriculum

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

135 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Education and Skills when politics will become examinable in the secondary school curriculum; when will the intake for teachers in the relevant training colleges be opened for this new subject; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8519/11]

The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment has been progressing the development of a new subject "Politics and Society" , which is proposed as an optional examinable full subject in the Leaving Certificate. A draft syllabus has been developed by the Council and was published for consultation. The syllabus is currently being revised in the light of the feedback. After this process has been completed, the Council's formal proposals on the matter will be submitted to me, and will be considered in the light of overall system needs and priorities.

It should be noted that education for citizenship is covered extensively in the curriculum for primary schools as part of Social Personal and Health Education. At second level, Civic Social and Political Education is a mandatory subject for all pupils in the junior cycle. It is examined in the Junior Certificate by means of a written terminal examination and an innovative action project which is designed to give students a practical experience of active citizenship.

The Teaching Council has a statutory role in relation to the review of standards required for entry into the teaching profession, including the standards of knowledge, skill and competence required for the practice of teaching. In the context of Section 38 of the Teaching Council Act, the Teaching Council, in 2009, commenced its process of reviewing and accrediting the teacher education programmes in Ireland, of which there are over 40, and this process is continuing with the second round of reviews taking place this year.

The review of the four programmes in both 2009/2010 and in 2010/2011 marks a significant first step for the Council and for all the partners in education who have contributed to the development of the Council's Review and Accreditation Strategy. The Council has also recently engaged in an open consultation process on its draft policy on the continuum of teacher education. The outcome of the pilot reviews is shaping the Council's proposals on the teacher education continuum as a whole. Emerging needs as a result of curriculum developments will be taken account of as part of the Council's ongoing work.

Higher Education Grants

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

136 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an aspect of the higher education grant scheme (details supplied). [8521/11]

The decision on eligibility for a student grant is a matter for a student's local grant awarding body — the relevant local authority or VEC. In the absence of all of the relevant details that would be contained in an individual's application form and the necessary proofs that must be provided, the Deputy will appreciate that it would not be possible for me to say how a student would be assessed by his or her grant awarding body and whether or not they would qualify for a grant.

However, in relation to the specific clauses in the 2010 student grant schemes governing the issues raised by the Deputy, the position is that a student may be assessed as an independent mature student if he/she has attained the age of 23 on the 1st of January of the year of first entry to an approved course or of re-entry following a break in studies of at least three years and is not ordinarily resident with his/her parents from 1 October 2009. Otherwise he/she would continue to be assessed on the basis of his/her parents' income.

Special Educational Needs

Michelle Mulherin

Ceist:

137 Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps he wiil take to immediately assist in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo who cannot now attend at a school owing to lack of provision of the necessary support services for their education. [8531/11]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the enrolment of a child in a school is a matter in the first instance for the parents of the child and the Board of Management of a school. My Department has no role in relation to processing applications for enrolment in schools.

The National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) is the statutory agency which assists parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child. The NEWB will try to help parents to find an alternative school placement if their child has been unable to secure a placement to date. The Deputy may be aware that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), is responsible for processing applications from schools for special educational needs supports. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support.

In considering applications for teaching and SNA support for individual pupils, the SENOs take account of the needs identified in the professional reports and decide whether the circumstances come within the Department's criteria. They then consider the resources available to the school to identify whether additionality is needed or whether the school might reasonably be expected to meet the needs of the pupil from its current level of resources.

Officials at my Department have been in contact with the NCSE regarding the matter referred to by the Deputy and have been advised that the SENO with assigned responsibility for the school in question is liaising with the school authorities and the pupil's father in relation to an application for supports for this pupil and with regard to the pupil's educational placement. 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.

John Lyons

Ceist:

138 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will consider a proposal from an organisation (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8537/11]

I wish to advise the Deputy that a proposal for an academy for children with autism has been received by officials in my Department who will revert to the organisation in question shortly. However it is important to emphasise that the proposal will be considered in the context of my Department's policy in this regard.

My Department's policy is focused on ensuring that all children including those with autism can have access to an education appropriate to their needs, preferably in school settings through the primary and post primary school network. This facilitates access to individualised education programmes, fully qualified professional teachers who may draw from a range of autism-specific interventions, including ABA, special needs assistants, and the appropriate school curriculum with the option where possible of full/partial integration and interaction with other pupils. As each child with autism is unique it is important that children have access to a range of interventions so their broader needs can be met.

My Department's policy is to provide for children with special educational needs, including autism, to be included in mainstream schools unless such a placement would not be in their best interests or the interests of the children with whom they are to be educated. Some children may be supported in a special class attached to a mainstream school. These students have the option, where appropriate, of full/partial integration and interaction with other pupils. Other children may have such complex needs that they are best placed in a special school. Students with special educational needs have access to a range of support services including additional teaching and/or care supports. In special schools and special classes, students are supported through lower pupil teacher ratios. Special needs assistants may also be recruited specifically where pupils with disabilities and significant care needs are enrolled.

Reflective of the important role of continuing professional development my Department has put in place a training programme for teachers in autism-specific interventions including Treatment and Education of Autistic Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH), Picture Exchange Communications System (PECS) and Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) through the Special Education Support Service.

The Deputy will be familiar with the ABA pilot scheme which was funded by my Department for the past decade. All of the centres which participated in this scheme have been granted recognition as special schools for children with autism. These schools will operate in line with my Department's policy. I am pleased to update the Deputy that following their recognition the new schools are currently progressing well in the transitional phase. Eight schools have opened and the remaining five are scheduled to open shortly. It is my intention to continue to support this transitional process.

The pilot scheme was established in the absence of a network of school-based special classes for children with autism which is now available. The Deputy will be aware that the establishment of this network of autism-specific special classes in schools across the country to cater for children with autism has been a key educational priority in recent years. In excess of 430 classes have now been approved around the country at primary and post primary level, including many in special schools.

John Lyons

Ceist:

139 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to a situation regarding the resource allocation of a school (details supplied) and the way it is likely to lead to a number of students with mild general learning difficulties being taught in general class as of September 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8540/11]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating resource teaching hours to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. In respect of the allocation of Resource Teaching hours, the Department of Education and Skills (DES) is required to ensure that the overall allocation of teaching posts does not exceed the targets set out in the Governments Employment Control Framework.

The DES had planned for a certain amount of increased growth in teacher numbers across the school sector in 2011, in line with increased demographic growth. In respect of resource teaching hours for children with special educational needs, allowance was made for growth in 2011 over and above normal demographic increase levels. In 2010 the total number of Whole time Equivalent (WTE) posts provided for resource hours teaching (including under the General Allocation Model) was approximately 9,600 WTE posts. By comparison approximately 9,950 WTE posts are provided for 2011. There has therefore not been a reduction in the overall number of resource hours/posts being provided for in 2011.

My Department has requested the NCSE to provide data on the numbers and rate of application for additional resource teaching hours to date this year so that this information can be considered in the context of the Departments Employment Control Framework obligations. The NCSE has also been asked to pause sanctioning additional resource teaching support hours to allow for collection and consideration of this data by the DES, in conjunction with the NCSE. It should be noted that this is a temporary suspension of the allocation process in order to allow for consideration and analysis of this issue prior to any decisions being made.

The NCSE issued a Circular to schools advising them that the final date for schools to submit any outstanding, completed, applications for resource teaching supports is 13th May 2011. On receipt of all outstanding applications the DES and NCSE will be in a position to consider resource allocation for the coming school year, in the context of the Departments Employment Control Framework obligations. Schools will be notified of their allocations as soon as possible.

Applications for resource teaching for any new entrants to the school referred to by the Deputy will be considered in the context outlined above. The school should submit all of its applications for resource teaching supports to the NCSE by 13th May 2011, so that the overall resource allocation for the school can be considered for September. In the interim, children who are eligible for resource/ learning support teaching will receive this tuition through the existing learning support provision in schools.

Schools Refurbishment

Tom Fleming

Ceist:

140 Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will make available in 2011 the necessary funding to carry out the essential roof remedial work to a school (details supplied). [8563/11]

I can confirm that the school in question submitted an application for the works referred to by the Deputy under the 2011 Summer Works Scheme. A list of 453 successful schools was announced on 30 March 2011 and I regret that the application made by the school referred to by the Deputy was not selected. A letter to this effect has issued to the school.

Applications from schools for gas, mechanical and electrical works were prioritised for Summer Works funding this year. Unfortunately, due to the scale of demand for funding under the scheme, it was not possible to grant aid all applications. The capital budget allocated for the Summer Works Scheme has been reduced this year and it has been necessary to prioritise some categories of works over others. My Department has sought to prioritise the funds that are available towards works that are most relevant to the health and safety of staff and students alike in our schools.

Tom Fleming

Ceist:

141 Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will make available in 2011 the necessary funding to provide new windows to a school (details supplied). [8564/11]

I can confirm that the school in question submitted an application for the works referred to by the Deputy under the 2011 Summer Works Scheme. A list of 453 successful schools was announced on 30 March 2011 and I regret that the application made by the school referred to by the Deputy was not selected. A letter to this effect has issued to the school.

Applications from schools for gas, mechanical and electrical works were prioritised for Summer Works funding this year. Unfortunately, due to the scale of demand for funding under the scheme, it was not possible to grant aid all applications. The capital budget allocated for the Summer Works Scheme has been reduced this year and it has been necessary to prioritise some categories of works over others. My Department has sought to prioritise the funds that are available towards works that are most relevant to the health and safety of staff and students alike in our schools.

Special Educational Needs

Sean Fleming

Ceist:

142 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the reduction in special needs assistants in a school (details supplied) in County Carlow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8566/11]

Firstly, I wish to advise the Deputy that Special Needs Assistant (SNA) allocations are not permanent, as the level of SNA support allocated to a school may be increased or decreased as pupils who qualify for SNA support enrol or leave a school. They are also decreased where a child's care needs may have diminished over time.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating resource teachers and SNAs to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support, which now includes a requirement for the NCSE to have regard to an overall cap on the number of SNA posts.

This number is 10,575 whole time equivalent (WTE) posts. This is a significant number of posts and unlike other areas of the public sector vacancies are being filled up to this number. It also represents continual increases in the number of SNAs over recent years. For example, there were 10,543 WTE SNA posts in place at the end of 2010 and 10,342 at end 2009. 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 NCSE recently issued a circular to all schools advising of the SNA allocation process for the 2011/2012 school year. A key feature of the amended scheme will be to provide for an annual allocation of SNA support to eligible schools. The NCSE are considering applications for additional SNA support in the context of this process for the 2011/12 school year. Schools are currently engaging with the NCSE in this regard ahead of the next school year and the NCSE will review the SNA staffing requirements for schools, taking into account all of the students who will be attending school from September next and any new students that the school are intending to enrol.

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.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

143 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will support the case of a school (details supplied). [8648/11]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is an independent agency with responsibility for determining the appropriate staffing levels in relation to the support of pupils with special educational needs in mainstream and special schools. The NCSE operates within my Department's policy in allocating this support. Officials at my Department have been in contact with the NCSE regarding the matter referred to by the Deputy and have been advised that the NCSE has not notified the school of a reduction in its level of teaching staff. I have arranged for the details supplied to be forwarded to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply.

Employment Rights

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

144 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation if his attention has been drawn to alleged serious irregularities in relation to the terms and conditions of employment on the site of a large extension to a school (details supplied) in County Limerick; in view of the fact that the State is paying for the extension if he will investigate this as a matter of urgency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8183/11]

I thank the Deputy for drawing this matter to my attention and I have forwarded details of the complaint to which the Deputy referred directly to the National Employment Rights Authority for investigation. Any employees, who believe that their employment rights are being breached, may present a complaint, in confidence, to the National Employment Rights Authority, which is responsible for monitoring compliance with Employment Rights Legislation. The National Employment Rights Authority may be contacted at The National Employment Rights Authority, O'Brien Rd, Carlow, lo-call: 1890 80 80 90; or at www.employmentrights.ie.

Ministerial Staff

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

145 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the numbers, duties and grades of all persons within his Department who are assigned to work on constituency matters for him and any other Ministers assigned to his Department. [8240/11]

The table below outlines the numbers, grades and duties of all persons within my Department who are assigned to work on constituency matters. This also includes Ministers of State at my Department.

Minister

Numbers

Grade

Duties

Richard Bruton

1

Personal Secretary (Ministerial Appointee)

Performing general secretarial duties including the handling of enquiries made to my Constituency Office.

1

Clerical Officer (Civil Servant)

Sean SherlockMinister of State for Research & Innovation

111

Personal Assistant (Ministerial Appointee)Personal Assistant (Ministerial Appointee)Clerical Officer (Civil Servant)

Performing general secretarial duties including the handling of enquiries made to Minister of State Sherlock’s Constituency Office.

John PerryMinister of State for Small Business

1.5w/sharer.5w/sharer

Personal Assistant (Ministerial Appointee)Personal Secretary (Ministerial Appointee)Personal Secretary (Ministerial Appointee

Performing general secretarial duties including the handling of enquiries made to Minister of State Perry’s Constituency Office.

Export Trade Council

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

146 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the date on which the export trade council will be established. [8275/11]

As soon as the transfer of certain trade functions to the new Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has been effected, the nature, structure, future role and timelines of the proposed Export Trade Council will be considered as a matter of urgency. The Government is conscious of the need to avoid establishing new groups and bodies unless absolutely necessary, and will therefore consider whether any amendments to the membership and terms of reference are needed to re-align the existing Foreign Trade Council with the objectives of this Government.

Appointments to State Boards

Seán Kenny

Ceist:

147 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the appointments his predecessor made to State agencies and State boards under the remit of his Department in 2009, 2010 and to date in 2011. [8493/11]

The following appointments were made to State Boards by my predecessor in 2009, 2010, and 2011.

Board

2009

2010

2011

PIAB

10

2

1

IAASA

5

4

3

IDA Ireland

2

3

2

Enterprise Ireland

2

2

0

Shannon Development

3

2

0

NSAI

3

4

0

Forfás

2

6

2

SFI

2

2

0

H.S.A.

0

12

0

NCA

0

4

0

LRC

7

0

0

The Competition Authority

1

3

4

FÁS

3

11

0*

*The responsibility for FÁS has transferred to the Department of Education and Skills with effect from 01 May 2010.

Question No. 148 withdrawn.

Employment Support Services

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

149 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection when she expects the promised national employment and entitlements service to be established. [8281/11]

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

187 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection the functions of the new national employment and entitlements service; the timeframe for its implementation; and the division of responsibilities among the different Departments in relation to this new body. [8644/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 149 and 187 together.

The Programme for Government states that a new National Employment and Entitlements Service will be established under the management of the Department of Social Protection. The objective is to integrate all employment and benefit support services in a single delivery unit which will provide a ‘one stop shop' for people wishing to establish their benefit entitlements, seek employment and / or seek advice about their training options. The focus is very much on the individual, his / her right to a payment and the corresponding responsibility to engage in employment, training or upskilling, as appropriate. This should improve a person's life chances.

It is clear that we are talking about a multi-annual programme of work which will involve the development of a new service, the assignment of functions to the service and the development of its organisation process and operational systems. A number of streams of work are already underway which will facilitate the establishment of the integrated service. The administration of the supplementary welfare allowance scheme has already been transferred to the Department of Social Protection with the secondment of the Community Welfare Service from the Health Service Executive at the beginning of this year. The intention is to have the staff fully integrated with the Department by the end of September this year. The transfer and integration of the employment and community employment services of FÁS to the Department is also underway and it is envisaged that the integration of staff will commence later this year.

A key objective of the Government in relation to the new service is that it will offer users a high level of personalised employment support and prioritise the provision of more intensive support for those on the live register who are identified as being most at risk of long-term unemployment. This will be achieved through the use of proactive approaches and modern case management systems.

A number of pilot projects are already underway in relation to the development of case management, the identification of those who are most at risk of falling into long-term unemployment, as well as improving information exchanges and communications between the different bodies which currently provide social welfare and employment services. These pilot projects will be completed and evaluated in the coming months after which approaches will be developed for their rollout nationwide.

Social Insurance

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

150 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection the estimated reduction in income for the remainder of 2011 from a halving of the lower rate of employer PRSI of 8.5% from 1 July 2011 and the corresponding reduction in income for the full calendar year 2012. [8283/11]

It is estimated that the reduction to the Social Insurance Fund, as a result of halving the rate of employer's Class A PRSI from 8.5% to 4.25% from 1 July 2011, would be in region of €75 million. The estimated 2012 full year reduction in Social Insurance Fund income caused by lowering the employer's Class A rate to 4.25% would be €174 million.

Social Welfare Benefits

Niall Collins

Ceist:

151 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application to the Health Service Executive south in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [8305/11]

The Health Service Executive has advised that before entitlement to rent supplement can be considered for this person she must have her housing need assessed by her local authority.

Social Welfare Code

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

152 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will bring forward an emergency amendment to assist previously self-employed persons who through no fault of their own may owe money to the Revenue and because of current legislation are unable to access their non-contributory old age pension. [8412/11]

I understand that the Deputy is referring to contribution conditions for the state pension (contributory). With effect from 1st January 2010, changes were introduced in the legislation and qualifying conditions governing the eligibility for state pension (contributory) of self-employed contributors. The relevant legislation is Section 110 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005, as amended by Section 9 of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2009.

The changes apply to state pension (contributory) claims received on or after 1st January 2010 under Sections 109 and 110 of the 2005 Act, where the applicant had been a self-employed contributor. Where a claim is received on or after 1st January 2010, a pension can only be awarded with effect from the date that the claimant has fully discharged all determined Class S contribution liabilities, even where this date may be after their 66th birthday. These provisions are consistent with the contributory and solidarity principles which underpin the social insurance system. There are no plans to change these provisions.

Social Welfare Benefits

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

153 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Social Protection the amount that can be saved by the State if the number on the live register falls to an average of 405,000 in 2011 in terms of social welfare payments; the amount that can be saved by the State if the number on the live register falls to an average of 405,000 in 2011 in terms of other savings; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8448/11]

The average Live Register underpinning the 2011 Budget is 405,000. The 2011 REV provides for Exchequer resources to support this average.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

154 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will support the case of a family (details supplied) in Dublin 11. [8651/11]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised that it has not received an application for mortgage interest supplement from the person concerned. The HSE has forwarded a mortgage interest supplement application form to the person concerned at the address provided.

Departmental Programmes

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

155 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will review the case of an organisation (details supplied) regarding funding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8141/11]

The Deputy will recall that he raised this matter earlier this month. The position regarding the support that is available to this company from the community services programme is being examined with a number of other requests. The Deputy will appreciate that decisions can only be made within the funds allocated to the programme and the merits of the case put forward by the company.

The community services programme is not designed to cover the full operating costs of supported service providers or to compensate service providers where they experience higher wage costs because of sectoral agreements. Where such conditions exist, the programme's requirement is that such costs are met by the service provider by developing non-public forms of income such as charging fees, trading or fund-raising. In the event that sufficient funding cannot be generated, the company may have to explore other alternatives or diversify their operations.

Departmental Schemes

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

156 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Social Protection the discussions she has had with Departments, local authorities and other State agencies in relation to providing matching materials money for work to be carried out by the rural social scheme, TÚS, and community employment schemes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8158/11]

The Deputy will be aware that the rural social scheme, Tús and the community employment programme are delivered locally either through local development companies or community based sponsor groups which have significant linkages to local authorities and State agencies. Primary responsibility for the provision of resources in the forms of materials or similar inputs is a matter for the sponsoring organisations. The processes and engagement between local authorities, state agencies and sponsoring organisations involved in the delivery of these programmes is an essential element in ensuring that the employment supports provided by the Department is matched by local efforts to provide the funds required for materials and similar inputs. Should these local processes prove to need improvement, I will consider if a more structured engagement with local authorities and State agencies is required.

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

157 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of participants on the TÚS programme broken down by sponsor companies and Údarás na Gaeltachta; when she expects the full complement of 5,000 places to be filled; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8159/11]

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

158 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Social Protection the progress that has been made in rolling out the special module of the TÚS scheme for coaching, with the sporting organisations; the number employed by each organisation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8160/11]

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

162 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Social Protection her plans to change or amend the TÚS community work placement initiative to ensure that similar entry candidates to the rural social scheme and community employment would apply to TÚS which now consists of a workforce programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8222/11]

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

163 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Social Protection her plans to change or amend the TÚS community work placement initiative so that similar training resources to the rural social scheme and community employment will apply to TÚS; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8223/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 157, 158, 162, and 163 together.

The Minister for Finance announced the introduction of a community work placement initiative for up to 5,000 persons in his Budget statement to Dáil Éireann on the 7th December 2010. Tús will provide short-term, quality work opportunities for those who are unemployed for more than a year. Tús will be delivered at local level by local development companies and by Údarás na Gaeltachta. The allocation to each company is set out in the table.

Promotion of Tús to potential work placement providers has been underway for some weeks as part of a process of identifying suitable work placements and local development companies are currently recruiting supervisory staff. My department continues to work with proposals from sporting organisations in respect of games development opportunities and a significant allocation is available where Tús matches the objectives of the sporting organisation. The random selection of participants by my Department will commence once the necessary arrangements have been put in place by the local development companies and will take some months to reach the target of 5,000 placements.

There are a number of significant differences in the aims, focus, participant selection and operation of Tús and those of the community employment programme and the rural social scheme. I have no proposals to introduce a training element or to provide for self selection or to make any other changes to this initiative at this time.

Table

Tús — Allocation of Participants to Implementing Bodies

Implementation Body

County Covered

Tús Allocation

Carlow County Development Partnership

Carlow

80

Breffni Integrated

Cavan

80

Clare Local Development Company

Clare

100

Avondhu/Blackwater Partnership

Cork

60

IRD Duhallow

Cork

40

South and East Cork Area Development Partnership

Cork

120

West Cork Development Partnership

Cork

80

Comhar Chathair Chorcaí Teoranta

Cork City

100

Donegal Local Development Company

Donegal

120

Inishowen Development Partnership

Donegal

60

Ballyfermot Partnership Company The

Dublin City

40

Ballymun Partnership The

Dublin City

40

Canal Partnership The

Dublin City

20

Dublin Employment Pact Limited

Dublin City

120

Northside Partnership

Dublin City

120

Rathmines Community Partnership

Dublin City

100

Tolka Area Partnership (Finglas/Cabra)

Dublin City

60

Blanchardstown Area Partnership The

Dublin Fingal

80

Fingal Leader Partnership Company

Dublin Fingal

140

CPLN Partnership

South Dublin

80

Dodder Valley Partnership (Tallaght)

South Dublin

140

Southside Partnership DLR

DunLaoghaire/Rathdown

180

Forum Connemara

Galway

20

Galway Rural Development Company The

Galway

120

Galway City Partnership

Galway City

80

Údarás na Gaeltachta/Comhar na nOilean Teoranta

Dgal Galw, Kry & Mayo

120

North and East Kerry Leader Partnership Teoranta

Kerry

80

South Kerry Development Partnership

Kerry

40

Cill Dara Ar Aghaidh Teoranta

Kildare

180

Kilkenny Leader Partnership Company County

Kilkenny

80

Laois Community and Enterprise Development Company

Laois

100

Leitrim Integrated Development Company

Leitrim

40

Ballyhoura Development

Limerick

80

West Limerick Resources

Limerick

80

People Action Against Unemployment (PAUL)

Limerick City

80

Longford Community Resources

Longford

60

Louth Leader Partnership

Louth

180

Mayo North East Leader Partnership Company Teoranta

Mayo

60

South West Mayo Development Company

Mayo

60

Meath Community Rural & Social Development Partnership

Meath

100

Monaghan Integrated Development

Monaghan

60

Offaly Integrated Local Development Company

Offaly

100

Roscommon Integrated Development Company

Roscommon

60

Sligo Leader Partnership Company County

Sligo

60

North Tipperary Leader Partnership

Tipperary NR

60

South Tipperary Local Development Company

Tipperary SR

100

Waterford Leader Partnership

Waterford

80

Waterford Area Partnership

Waterford City

80

Westmeath Community Developments

Westmeath

100

Wexford Local Development

Wexford

180

Bray Area Partnership

Wicklow

40

Wicklow Community Partnership County

Wicklow

100

National Organisations (not yet confirmed)

240

Supervisory positions

220

Total

5,000

Departmental Staff

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

159 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons in her Department who have applied for transfers to the social protection offices in Donegal town; if she will provide a detailed breakdown of the number of applicants; if she will provide a detailed breakdown of the time waiting; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8166/11]

Prior to the introduction of the Decentralisation Programme, the names of clerical officers and staff officers applying for a transfer to a particular location were recorded, in order of date of receipt, on the Department's central transfer list. The Central Applications Facility (CAF) was established to record expressions of interest from all grades in relation to locations which were associated with the Decentralisation Programme, including Donegal town and is administered by the Public Appointments Service. The earliest application received on the CAF for Donegal town is September 2004.

While the Department has an existing local office in Donegal town, the relatively small size of the office means that there is no significant movement of staff. Details of the applications held on both the Department's central transfer list and the CAF list for Donegal town are shown in tabular format below. It should be noted that when filling vacancies at clerical officer and staff officer level priority is given to the Department's central transfer list.

Central Transfer List — Donegal Town

Grade

Total No. of applications

Detailed breakdown by year of application

Numbers of Staff

Clerical Officer

90

1998

2

1999

3

2000

8

2001

12

2002

22

2003

17

2004

26

Staff Officer

1

2003

1

CAF Transfer List — Donegal Town

Grade

No. of applications

Date of Earliest Application

Principal Officer

2

September 2004

Assistant Principal

3

September 2004

Higher Executive Officer

4

September 2004

Executive Officer

9

September 2004

Staff Officer

3

September 2004

Clerical Officer

31

September 2004

Service Grade

1

September 2004

Total

53

Of the 53 applications to CAF, 28 applications were made in September 2004 while the remaining 25 applications were received between September 2004 and October 2009, when the CAF list was last updated.

Departmental Programmes

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

160 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will change the criteria for qualification for community enterprise schemes to accommodate individuals over the age of 65 years who wish to participate in same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8186/11]

I understand that the Deputy is referring to the community services programme (CSP) which is funded by my Department. The CSP is designed to address locally identified gaps in the provision of services and to exploit the potential of community assets and resources to improve community well-being. CSP support is designed in such a manner that service providers are required to offer employment opportunities to people from specific target groups. The target group includes people with disabilities, Travellers, recovering drug users, persons who are long-term unemployed and lone parents. A person over the age of 65 years of age is ineligible for support from the programme.

Not all persons employed by a CSP supported service provider are funded by the programme and in such circumstances the criteria to engage persons under 65 do not apply. In general, my Department would encourage service providers to offer employment opportunities to those most in need of work and not in receipt of other income by way of pensions or other part-time work. The programme supports an estimated 2,700 people in some 450 service providers across the State. The programme is not designed to cover the full operating costs of supported service providers. A key requirement of the programme is that each service provider must develop non-public forms of income generation by way of charging fees, trading or fund-raising.

Employment Support Services

Peter Mathews

Ceist:

161 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Social Protection the funding or grants available to a group of unemployed persons who have set up a networking group in an attempt to find employment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8205/11]

Given the changing nature of the composition of the Live Register in recent years it is recognised that different approaches are required. For some, such as senior managers and executives who are in the unfortunate position of having lost their job, it can be important to provide the opportunity for individuals to keep in touch, avail of support and attend networking events or professional seminars that keep them in contact with the labour market. Accordingly FÁS, in the last two years, has facilitated the executive networking and support programme that operates in a number of FÁS Training Centres. Key competencies that are developed and supported through the programme include:

Networking and building bonds

Skills Analysis/Audit

Personality Profiling

Improving Self Confidence

Enhanced Job Seeking Skills and following up leads

C.V. Upgrading and Interview Preparation

Upgrading of Presentation skills (Impacting)

Influencing and communication

In addition FÁS currently funds 53 Job Clubs throughout the country. Job Clubs provide training to assist participants who are ready for work to develop skills which they can use to find a job. This active, practical and participative process takes place under the guidance and supervision of the Job Club leader. These Job Clubs generally have the capacity to facilitate additional participants and/or provide assistance to groups of unemployed persons. Anyone who is ready to work and is between 16 and 64 years of age can join a Job Club. Participants do not have to be on a social welfare payment, but if they are it will not be affected by becoming a member of a Job Club. Networks, such as the one referred to in the question, should contact their local FÁS in relation to advice and support.

Questions Nos. 162 and 163 answered with Question No. 157.

Ministerial Staff

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

164 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Social Protection the numbers, duties and grades of all persons within her Department who are assigned to work on constituency matters for her and any other Ministers assigned to her Department. [8246/11]

Four staff, consisting of 1 personal assistant, 1 personal secretary, 1 executive officer and 1 clerical officer, are assigned to my constituency office to provide me with administrative and secretarial support. There are no other Ministers assigned to the Department.

Question No. 165 withdrawn.

Social Welfare Benefits

Clare Daly

Ceist:

166 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Social Protection her views on the current procedure for claiming disability allowance, whereby claimants have to send their private medical records to a general address at the disability allowance department for their claim to be assessed, instead of attending a doctor appointed by the Department with their medical records and having their claim assessed on that basis; the percentage of disability claims that are denied; the percentage of denied claims that are appealed; the length of time the appeal process takes; the percentage of denied claims accepted during the appeals process; the percentage of all claims that are actually seen by a doctor; her plans to cut the initial waiting time for a decision to be made, which now stands at approximately five months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8335/11]

Disability allowance is a weekly allowance paid to people with a specified disability who are aged over 16 and under 66. The disability must be expected to last for at least one year. To qualify, a claimant must satisfy a medical assessment, a means test and be habitually resident in the state.

The current procedure for determining if applicants satisfy the medical condition is that claimants submit a medical report completed by their doctor. The medical report is integrated into the application form for disability allowance. The medical report is desk assessed by medical assessors (MAs) who are qualified doctors employed by the department. This process involves the examination by a MA of all general practitioner and consultant reports provided on and with the application form. Following examination of all the available medical evidence, the MA provides a medical opinion of the claimant's eligibility for the scheme to a deciding officer. The deciding officer uses this opinion to assist in the decision as to a claimant's eligibility for disability allowance, taking account of the other eligibility criteria mentioned – income levels and residency.

All applications are desk assessed by a fully qualified doctor. However, in very exceptional circumstances, the medical assessor may decide that an in-person examination is required. In 2010, the number of disability allowance applications disallowed was 10,316. This represents 54% of all new disability allowance claims decided in 2010 and includes claims disallowed on income and residency grounds. Statistics are not kept of the numbers disallowed solely on medical grounds.

As regards appeals, the social welfare appeals office (SWAO) dealt with a total of 2,786 appeals in 2010. Of these, 2,074 cases involved a refusal on medical grounds although there may have been multiple grounds for the refusal. Of these 2,074 cases, 861(41%) were allowed, 1,196(58%) were disallowed and 17(1%) were partially allowed.

The average time taken to process disability allowance appeals decided by summary decision during 2010 was just under 31 weeks. The average time taken to process all disability allowance appeals involving oral hearings was just over 51 weeks. These processing times are calculated from the registration date of the appeal to the date of its finalisation. The times reflect all activities during this period including time spent by the Department providing comments by the deciding officer on the grounds of appeal put forward by the appellant, any further investigation by the Department's inspectors and any further examination or assessment by the Department's MAs that is deemed necessary in order to fully consider the appeal. A considerable period of time is added to the process when an oral hearing is required because of the logistics involved in this process.

As regards the processing of disability allowance claims, the processing time for individual claims may vary in accordance with their relative complexity in terms of the three main criteria which a claimant must fulfil in order to qualify. Certain claims have to be referred to social welfare inspectors for means investigation and this can add to the overall processing times. In addition, factors outside the Department's control can have an impact, for example, the supply of relevant information by the customer, employers or other third parties.

The average length of time to award a disability allowance claim in March 2011 was 16 weeks. People who have urgent income support needs while awaiting a decision on their DA claim can apply for the means tested supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) from their local Community Welfare Officer. The Department is committed to delivering the best possible service to its customers. Operational processes and procedures and the organisation of work are continually reviewed in all areas of the Department, including disability allowance section, to ensure that claims are processed and decided in the most efficient and expeditious way possible, having regard to the eligibility conditions that apply to each scheme.

Social Welfare Appeals

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

167 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a jobseeker’s allowance application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo. [8339/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 22 January 2011. 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 29 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.

Ray Butler

Ceist:

168 Deputy Ray Butler asked the Minister for Social Protection if domiciliary care allowance will be awarded in respect of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8341/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 8th 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 14th February 2011 and the appeal will be referred in due course to an Appeals Officer, who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing. 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

Jim Daly

Ceist:

169 Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of applications received for domiciliary care allowance for carers or parents of children diagnosed within the autism spectrum between 1 January 2010 and 31 December 2010; the number of these applications that were granted, refused and still pending; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8345/11]

The complete figures for 2010 are not available at present. However, in the period 1st January to 30th June 2010 a total of 220 domiciliary care allowance applications were processed with a medical condition within the autism spectrum. Of these, 136 (62%) were deemed to satisfy the medical criteria, with 84 (38%) not satisfying the criteria.

Social Welfare Appeals

Jim Daly

Ceist:

170 Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Social Protection the waiting time for appeals for applications for domiciliary care allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8346/11]

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

188 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of appeals for the domiciliary care allowance that are pending; and the range of waiting times for each. [8645/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 170 and 188 together.

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that as of 31 March 2011, there are 1,514 Domiciliary Care Allowance appeals pending. The average waiting time for a domiciliary care appeal dealt with by way of a summary decision in 2010 was 26.8 weeks, while the average time to process an oral hearing was 49.1 weeks. These processing times are calculated from the registration date of the appeal to the date of its finalisation. These 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 and any further investigation, examination or assessment by the Department's inspectors and medical assessors, that is deemed necessary.

As can be seen from the figures, a considerable period of time is added to the process when an oral hearing is required because of the logistics involved in this process. In order to be fair to all appellants, these appeals are dealt with in strict chronological order. There has been a very significant increase in the number of appeals received by the Social Welfare Appeals Office since 2007 when the intake was 14,070 to 2010 when the intake rose to 32,432. In the context of dealing with the considerable number of appeals now on hands, the Department has made a further 9 additional appointments to the office in recent weeks.

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 Code

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Ceist:

171 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to the fact that Irish citizens returning home or relocating from the Six Counties are being denied vital access to social welfare support because of the interference by the Department of Social Protection with the habitual residence condition and the assurances she will give that this injustice will cease to continue. [8349/11]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

181 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection if the fact that a person has not arranged employment before entering the State or does not have a history of employment in the State is considered a reason to determine that they do not satisfy the habitual residence condition and discriminates against people with disabilities who are unable to work. [8496/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 171 and 181 together.

The habitual residence condition was introduced in order to ensure that a person, who has had no attachment to the work force since arrival in Ireland and whose habitual residence is elsewhere, would not be entitled to payment under certain exchequer-funded schemes on arrival in Ireland. Decisions concerning habitual residence are subject to five factors which have been laid down by the European Court of Justice, and which are now incorporated into our domestic social welfare legislation. The five factors are:

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

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

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

(d) the person’s main centre of interest; and

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

There is currently no discrimination on grounds of nationality in social welfare legislation and to introduce such a provision would be contrary to the equality principles that Ireland has adopted in our own equality legislation, and that we are obliged to respect by virtue of other international conventions.

Irish nationals returning to live here on a permanent basis should experience no difficulty in demonstrating that they satisfy the requirements of the Habitual Residence Condition. As regards the situation of someone who has never worked here, all factors are taken into account; employment is one factor, but the decision depends on all the circumstances of the case, including whether the person had a legal right of residence here.

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Ceist:

172 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Social Protection her plans to extend eligibility of families to avail of the family income supplement to those who reside in Border areas and work in the Six Counties. [8350/11]

The social security rights of people moving around the EU are governed by EU Regulations 883/2004 and 987/2009. These Regulations are designed to co-ordinate the social security systems of the various Member States so that people and their families are not disadvantaged when they move within the EU. A key principle of the co-ordination system is that persons moving to different Member States are subject to the same obligations and enjoy the same benefits as the nationals of those Member States. With few exceptions, it is the country of employment which receives the social security contributions and which is generally responsible for the payment of benefits.

The persons referred to by the Deputy are, for the purposes of the EU Regulations, regarded as frontier workers and special provisions apply to the payment of benefits to them and their families. With regard to payment of family benefits the Member State of employment is the competent State. Accordingly, in the circumstances referred to, the primary responsibility for payment of family benefits rests with the Northern authorities. A supplementary payment may also be made by this Department based on the residence of the family if the total package of family benefits payable here was higher than that due from the Northern authorities. However, Family Income Supplement would not be payable as part of this calculation as it is payable only to those working in the State. There are no plans to change the current situation.

Áine Collins

Ceist:

173 Deputy Áine Collins asked the Minister for Social Protection the criteria which allow a farmer to qualify for farm assist and consequently qualify to work on a rural social scheme. [8359/11]

Farmers aged between 18 and 66 years may apply for farm assist. The scheme is means-tested, taking into account both the farm and off-farm income of the farmer and his/her spouse or partner. In carrying out the means test for farm assist, the Department seeks to establish the likely income of the farmer in the coming 12 months. In doing this, the income in the previous 12 months is examined and allowance is made if there are factors which would affect anticipated income in the future, for example a drop in the price of milk, increased fodder or farming costs.

In order to qualify for a place on the rural social scheme, an individual must have a valid herd number and be in receipt of a qualifying social welfare payment, one of which is farm assist. Participants are required to work 19.5 hours per week with flexibility allowed for on-farm activity. Individuals who are interested in participating on the scheme are advised to contact their local implementing body, who can advise them of the availability of vacancies on the scheme. A list of implementing bodies is available on www.welfare.ie .

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

174 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding persons who were self-employed who now find themselves ineligible for any social benefits; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8362/11]

Self-employed people pay PRSI class S contributions which provide cover for long-term benefits such as State pension (contributory) and widows/widowers pension (contributory). Employees are covered by PRSI classes A, E, H and P, which provide cover for the above benefits as well as for short-term contingencies such as jobseeker's and illness benefits.

PRSI coverage is related to the risks associated with employment or self-employment, the annualised system of contributions for self-employed people and the practicalities of administering and controlling access to short-term payments for self-employed people. Self-employed people pay class S contributions at a rate of 4% per annum, a much lower rate compared to the 14.75% full Class A contributions paid by employees and their employers, and this is reflected in the narrower range of benefits they receive. A system of separate arrangements for employed and self-employed workers within a social insurance context is common in other European social protection systems.

There are no plans to extend cover for short-term benefits to self-employed contributors but I will keep the provision for the group under review. Any such measure would have significant financial implications and would have to be considered in the context of a much more significant rise in the rate of contribution payable.

Self-employed workers who do not qualify for a social insurance-based benefit may establish entitlement to social assistance-based payments such as jobseeker's allowance, subject to a means test. They can apply for the means-tested jobseeker's allowance if their business ceases or if they are on low income as a result of a downturn in demand for their services. A self-employed person's means are assessed in a flexible manner, taking account of the individual's particular situation and the overall economic circumstances. As it is more difficult to predict exactly what level of income a self-employed person might earn in the coming year, their income and activity levels in the last 12 months are generally used as a guide to estimate their likely future earnings. However it is not simply assumed that the previous year's earnings will be received in the coming year.

Eric J. Byrne

Ceist:

175 Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Minister for Social Protection if it is envisaged that mortgage payments will be counted as an outgoing when calculating a person’s entitlement to jobseeker’s allowance. [8401/11]

Jobseeker's Allowance is a means tested social assistance scheme operated by my Department. For means test purposes, account is taken of the income and assets of both the claimant and his or her spouse/partner including the earnings of the spouse. Where a spouse/partner has earnings from employment, earnings less PRSI contributions, pension contributions and trade union subscriptions are assessed as means. Mortgage payments are not deducted from earnings for means assessment purposes. There are no plans to alter these arrangements.

Social Welfare Benefits

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

176 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of medical doctors currently on the live register and receiving social welfare payments. [8438/11]

The information requested by the Deputy in relation to the number of medical doctors currently on the live register is not readily available within my Department. I can, however, provide the Deputy with data in relation to the general area of health industries currently on the live register. This is set out in the tabular statement.

Live Register Analysis for Week Ending 27/03/2011

Health and Related Industries

Number of Doctors

Childcare and Related Occupations

5,299

Health and Related Occupations

3,473

Health Associate Professionals

2,218

Health Professionals

2,775

Homehelp

772

Total:

14,537

Social Welfare Code

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

177 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will continue to pay benefits to unemployed persons on FÁS training courses; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8457/11]

Under social welfare legislation a person who receives a jobseeker's payment must be, inter alia, available for and genuinely seeking work in respect of each day for which unemployment is claimed. Accordingly, a person who is engaged on a full-time training course would not satisfy the required legislative conditions to receive a jobseeker’s payment.

However, as FÁS training courses can enhance a person’s employability, separate arrangements apply in respect of trainees. Under these arrangements, people in receipt of jobseeker’s payments instead receive a FÁS training allowance for the duration of the training course. The training allowance amount payable is set with reference to the maximum social welfare rate appropriate to the trainee’s circumstances, with an additional amount of €20 per week payable in addition to this. The area that deals with training in FÁS has its own annual budget to operate this system of allowances.

This arrangement has several advantages. From the trainee's viewpoint, the additional €20 assists towards any transaction costs associated with attending the course. For people who are in receipt of a reduced rate of jobseeker's payment, due, for example, to a means assessment or the application of a graduated rate, the level of payment of the training allowance, at a rate equivalent to maximum jobseeker's rate, can provide a strong financial incentive to participate in training. Additionally, the fact that people leave the Live Register for the duration of the training course can be an important psychological factor in ultimately assisting the transition from welfare to work. These arrangements have been in place for many years and there are no plans at present to change them.

Social Welfare Benefits

Dominic Hannigan

Ceist:

178 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons in County Meath who have availed of the mortgage interest supplement in the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010; the level of funding for the mortgage interest supplement in County Meath in the aforementioned years in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8461/11]

The number of recipients of mortgage interest supplement in County Meath at the end of 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 is shown in the following table. Expenditure on mortgage interest supplement is not available on a county basis.

Number of Recipients of Mortgage Interest Supplement in County Meath, end 2007, end 2008, end 2009 and end 2010

Year

Recipients

2007

169

2008

438

2009

998

2010

1,333

Dominic Hannigan

Ceist:

179 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Social Protection the total expenditure in 2009 and 2010 on jobseeker’s benefit and jobseeker’s allowance in County Meath; if she will provide a breakdown of same on a social welfare administration office basis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8462/11]

Expenditure on jobseeker's benefit amounted to €2.005 billion in 2009. Expenditure on jobseeker's allowance for the same period amounted to €1.734 billion. Data for 2010 has not been published to date, however, provisional figures indicate that expenditure for jobseeker's benefit amounted to €1.3 billion in 2010 while expenditure on jobseeker's allowance amounted to €2.8 billion during the same period. A breakdown of these figures on a county basis or by administrative office is not maintained within my Department.

Social Welfare Appeals

Dan Neville

Ceist:

180 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Social Protection if an oral hearing will be set up as soon as possible in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; the date and time for the oral hearing for disability allowance. [8483/11]

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 disallowed 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.

Question No. 181 answered with Question No. 171.

Social Welfare Benefits

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

182 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection the options available to a person (details supplied) in County Cork for financial support to prevent the disconnection of their electricity. [8497/11]

Under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme, an exceptional needs payment may be made by the Health Services Executive (HSE) to help meet an essential, once-off cost which the applicant is unable to meet out of his/her own resources. The HSE has advised that it has not received an application for financial assistance under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme from the person concerned. The HSE will forward an application form for supplementary welfare allowance to the person concerned.

Paudie Coffey

Ceist:

183 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an appeal for rent allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Waterford; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8517/11]

The Health Service Executive has advised that no decision has been made on her application for rent supplement. The HSE has requested the person concerned to provide further information in order to process her application for rent supplement. A decision will be made on her application when the requested information has been provided.

Pat Breen

Ceist:

184 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8557/11]

An application for domiciliary care allowance (DCA) was received on the 24th March 2011. This application has been forwarded to one of the Department's Medical Assessors for a medical opinion. Upon receipt of this opinion a decision will issue to the customer. Currently it takes approximately eight weeks to process an application for DCA.

Departmental Staff

Sean Fleming

Ceist:

185 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Social Protection if medical assessors, doctors, nurses and so on, who carry out medical assessments in respect of applications for social welfare payments are being replaced when they leave work and are these posts subject to the recruitment moratorium; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8565/11]

Government policy dictates that a moratorium applies on the filling of any posts, with exceptions in very limited circumstances only. In view of the importance of the medical assessor post for the control function of the Department, the Department of Finance has approved the filling of medical assessor vacancies as an exception to the general moratorium principle. Arrangements are in place to provide for the presence of nurse attendants at medical in-person assessments — the majority of nurse attendants are engaged on a fee per session basis and as such are not employees of the Department.

Social Welfare Benefits

David Stanton

Ceist:

186 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons in receipt of child benefit who are asked to fill out forms in respect of continuing to qualify to receive child benefit; the number of times per annum that these forms are requested; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8576/11]

The child benefit scheme has, in recent years, experienced significant expansion in the volume of claims received, the rates of payment and the diversity of the customer base. The main reason for undertaking reviews is to ensure that customers are made aware of their obligations with regard to their continued entitlement to child benefit. The control policy for the child benefit scheme has been reviewed to ensure that controls against fraud and abuse of the scheme continue to be effective and relevant. As a result of this review, enhanced and updated control measures have been devised and implemented, which include the automated issue of forms (certificates) to selected groups of customers for completion to confirm they continue to satisfy the conditions for receipt of child benefit.

Employment certificates are issued every four months, to everyone paid under EU regulation 1408/71, irrespective of nationality (and including Irish nationals), to ensure that these customers continue to qualify for child benefit from this State. Residency certificates are issued every four months to all non-Irish national customers, living with their children in Ireland and to all nationalities who are paid Irish child benefit based on their entitlements under EU regulation 1408/71. These groups amount to some 76,000 customers. Certificates have also been issued to some 230,000 Irish customers over the past year asking them to confirm their details and their ongoing entitlement to child benefit. In 2010, a total of 520,000 certificates issued under the various control programmes. The total savings from child benefit control activity was €89M in 2009 and €106M in 2010.

Question No. 187 answered with Question No. 149.
Question No. 188 answered with Question No. 170.

Departmental Functions

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

189 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection if the transfer of the community services programme and the rural social scheme from the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs to her Department is now complete; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8646/11]

From 1st September 2010 policy and funding responsibility for the community services programme and the rural social scheme transferred to the Department of Social Protection. The transfer of functions was provided for in the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2010.

Proposed Legislation

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

190 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason for the delay in the publication of a gender recognition Bill considering that the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs was reportedly close to producing proposals before Christmas; further to Parliamentary Question No. 34 of 30 March 2011, if she will detail the nature of the consultation, research and discussion that she indicated in response to the above has yet to take place including the groups and individuals it will involve and a clear timeframe for same. [8653/11]

The issue of gender recognition is being dealt with by the Gender Recognition Advisory Group which was established by the previous Minister for Social Protection following a Government decision. The group is made up of representatives from various Departments and Offices of State, including the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs. The group has engaged in an extensive public consultation process and has met with a number of groups and individuals representing the interests of transgender persons. The group has also met with a number of experts in the field.

While I am not privy to the detailed workings of the group, it would be normal that the report of the group would contain the information requested by the Deputy, and I consider it appropriate to await the publication of the report before making any further comment. I understand that the vast bulk of the consultation, research and discussion has taken place, that the drafting of the report is at an advanced stage and that it will be submitted to me in the coming weeks.

As the Deputy will be aware, the legal recognition of transgender persons is a complex area touching on many facets of the person's life. For this reason, it is considered that extensive consultation and research is necessary to identify the issues requiring legislative reform and to enable proposals to be made that are comprehensive and in accordance with best international practice. Legal recognition of transgender persons requires the most careful of consideration, as it not only touches on the lives of transgender persons, but also on their families. Legislative proposals will receive a high priority following receipt of the report of the group.

Ministerial Staff

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

191 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport the numbers, duties and grades of all persons within his Department who are assigned to work on constituency matters for him and any other Ministers assigned to his Department. [8248/11]

The number of staff currently assigned to work in my constituency office is 4. They are engaged in normal constituency duties. The grades of the staff are 1 Executive Officer, 1 Clerical Officer, 1 Personal Assistant and 1 Personal Secretary. The numbers employed are in line with the recently issued guidelines on the staffing of Ministers Offices.

Fisheries Protection

Noel Harrington

Ceist:

192 Deputy Noel Harrington asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his plans to allow island-based small fishing boats a preferential allocation of salmon fishing rights when the ban has had a much greater economic impact on island communities than on the mainland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8322/11]

As the Deputy is aware, the primary motivation in aligning the management of the wild salmon fishery with the scientific advice to cease mixed stock fishing at sea, is the conservation of the wild salmon stocks. It is vital to afford every protection to the at-risk salmon stocks and to clearly prioritise conservation over catch. Ireland must fulfil its obligations under the Habitats Directive, namely to maintain or restore fish stocks, protected by the Directive, to favourable conservation status.

I am advised that there can be no question of relaxing the conservation measures other than in rivers where stocks are meeting conservation limits and where it is established that significant numbers of fish destined for other rivers are not intercepted. It is not envisaged, for these reasons due to the constraints of the Habitats Directive that drift netting in the open seas will be licensed in the future. I am conscious of the impact of the cessation of the seasonal wild salmon fishery on island communities. This was addressed, I understand, in the allocation of funds made available through the Community Support Scheme funded from the Salmon Hardship Fund.

Ministerial Staff

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

193 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the numbers, duties and grades of all persons within his Department who are assigned to work on constituency matters for him and any other Ministers assigned to his Department. [8237/11]

There are currently four staff working in my constituency office within my Department in the grades of Personal Assistant, Personal Secretary, Executive Officer and Clerical Officer. The Minister of State at my Department currently has three staff engaged on constituency matters, two Personal Secretaries (each work sharing 50%) and a Personal Assistant. These staff provide assistance to me and the Minister of State on various constituency matters.

Telecommunications Services

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

194 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources when the rural broadband scheme will be rolled out; the details of the scheme; the number of dwellings he expects to be serviced by the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8263/11]

The European Commission has set aside a portion of the European Economic Recovery Programme (EERP) funding for rural broadband initiatives. Using this funding, which will be augmented by an Exchequer contribution, I intend to formally launch a Rural Broadband Scheme in the coming weeks. This scheme will aim to provide a basic broadband service to the small percentage of premises throughout the country that are not currently capable of receiving a broadband service through existing commercial operators or through interventions such as the National Broadband Scheme.

It is not possible therefore to make a dependable estimate of the number of households which are likely to be able to avail of the scheme. A key part of the scheme will be to identify those premises seeking a broadband service and to confirm that the premises in question cannot obtain a broadband service in the current market. In a fully liberalised market it is essential to intervene only where the market is unable to provide a service and the Department will be consulting fully with the existing service providers in this respect. Information in relation to acceptance of applications and the process of qualification under the scheme will be made available when the scheme is launched.

Electricity Generation

Michael McCarthy

Ceist:

195 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will address issues raised by a person (details supplied) in relation to the REFIT scheme; the position regarding assessment of the situation as it relates to the person; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8300/11]

The commercial operator in question owns a 4.62MW windfarm based in County Cork which was built in 1999 under the Alternative Energy Requirement (AER) 3 competitive tendering scheme. The operator entered a 15-year power purchase agreement with ESB which was the sole contracting partner (as Public Electricity Supplier) for all AERs. The AER scheme is funded under the Public Service Obligations levy.

In late 2008, after some 9 years in AER, the operator took a commercial decision to withdraw from the AER support scheme and participate in the Single Electricity Wholesale Market (SEM) on a stand alone commercial basis. One of the agreed conditions of withdrawing from the AER scheme is that operators/companies have no right of return. The REFIT support scheme which succeeded the AER Scheme is in place to underpin new renewable energy projects and existing operators are not eligible for the Scheme.

Energy Conservation

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

196 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his plans to increase the maximum grant allocation to persons under the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland home energy saving grant. [8307/11]

The Home Energy Savings Scheme which is administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland is available to owners of homes built before 2006, including landlords and owners of multiple properties. The scheme provides grants of up to 40% of the typical cost of upgrade measures, including roof insulation, wall insulation, boiler upgrades and heating control upgrades. There are no plans to increase the maximum grant allocation under this programme. The grant levels set are considered to be optimal given the level of energy savings that can be realised from their implementation, and represent the most cost-effective use of available budgetary resources.

Telecommunications Services

Michael McCarthy

Ceist:

197 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will provide an update on the Skibbereen, County Cork, metropolitan area network project; when work will commence on connecting the fibre optic cable to the national system; if a supplier has been secured for the provision of the backhaul to the MAN system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8478/11]

All the metropolitan area networks (MANs) including the MAN in Skibbereen are managed and operated by e|net who were appointed following a procurement process and who make the networks available to the telecommunications sector. All connections to the MANs are wholesale connections which may be used by the relevant service provider to provide services to multiple end users.

In the case of the Skibbereen MAN, e|net has been exploring various backhaul options with operators in the area. In the event that a business premises in Skibbereen wants broadband services delivered over a fibre connection, e|net would set out the possible options and costs. However, there has been insufficient market demand for fibre connections in Skibbereen to date. e|net remains available at all times to discuss the options for connection to the MAN with interested parties.

Sean Fleming

Ceist:

198 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his plans to improve the quality and availability of broadband in rural parts of County Laois; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8512/11]

The provision of broadband services is in the first instance a matter for private sector service providers operating in Ireland's fully liberalised telecommunications market. Broadband services are provided by private service providers over various platforms including DSL (i.e. over telephone lines), fixed wireless, mobile, cable, fibre and satellite. Details of broadband services available in each county can be found on ComReg's website at www.callcosts.ie.

In cases of market failure the Government will intervene, where it is appropriate and possible to do so. The National Broadband Scheme (NBS) represents such an intervention. EU State Aid and competition rules govern how states can intervene in areas where there are existing service providers operating. Accordingly, the NBS is prohibited from providing a service in served areas where to do so would give rise to an unacceptable level of market distortion. I am pleased to say that under the NBS broadband is now available in all Electoral Divisions in the NBS Coverage Area including in County Laois.

It continues to be a priority of the Government that there will be broadband coverage across the entire country. I am aware that there continues to be a small percentage of premises throughout the country that will not be capable of receiving broadband services. This is primarily due to technical and other reasons (suitability of a telephone line, distance from an enabled exchange, no line of sight etc.).

The European Commission has set aside a portion of the European Economic Recovery Programme (EERP) funding for rural broadband initiatives. Using this funding, which will be augmented by an Exchequer contribution, I intend to formally launch a Rural Broadband Scheme shortly. This scheme will aim to provide a basic broadband service to individual un-served rural premises outside of the NBS areas. Information in relation to acceptance of applications and the process of qualification under the scheme will be made available in due course when the scheme is launched.

Prospecting Licences

Ann Phelan

Ceist:

199 Deputy Ann Phelan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will consider changing the old royalty-free tax regime applying to existing oil and gas exploration licences. [8520/11]

Ireland competes with other countries, both in Europe and further afield, to attract mobile international exploration investment. To that end, it is important that Ireland maintains a licensing regime that appropriately reflects both the risks and rewards of investing in petroleum exploration in the Irish offshore, while ensuring the State receives a fair share of profits where a commercial discovery is made. It is also important that the actual choice of fiscal instruments used does not put Ireland at a relative disadvantage when seeking to attract mobile international exploration investment to Ireland.

Ireland's fiscal terms are tax based and do not include royalty payments. In 1987, Ireland followed the lead of other countries such as the UK and Norway in moving away from a royalty based payments system to a tax based system. Under a tax based system the return to the State is linked directly to the profitability of the individual oil or gas field, as compared to a royalty system where payments are linked to the actual volume of production and do not take account of differences in development cost or actual profitability.

I do not consider that Ireland should move from a tax based fiscal licensing regime to a royalty based regime. A comprehensive review of Ireland fiscal terms was carried out in 2007. This review, which was underpinned by independent economic analysis, considered the appropriateness of Ireland's licensing terms in comparison to other European countries that Ireland competes with for exploration investment. The outcome of that review was the introduction of a profit resource rent tax of up to 15% on top of the 25% corporation tax rate that already applies. The revised licensing terms apply to exploration licences issued since 1st January 2007.

Tax Code

Ciaran Lynch

Ceist:

200 Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will rectify the anomaly whereby the executor of a will who is a home owner is deemed liable for non-principal private residence charge even if not a beneficiary of the will because the estate vests in the executor during the course of the probate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8144/11]

The Local Government (Charges) Act 2009, which introduced the €200 charge on non-principal private residences, levies the charge on owners of certain residential properties. Legal advice has been sought in relation to the correct approach to be taken where an owner has died and the estate has not yet been vested in a beneficiary. The advice received is to the effect that in such cases there would be no person who would meet the definition of owner in the Local Government (Charges) Act 2009 until either probate has been granted or letters of administration have issued in respect of a property. In a probate case, the legal advice is that the executor would then become the owner for the purposes of the Act until the property becomes vested in the beneficiary. I have no plans to amend the charge on non-principal private residences in this respect at present.

Local Authority Housing

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

201 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans regarding section 90 of the Housing Act 1966 and the Housing (Sale of Houses to Long-standing Tenants) Regulations 2011; and his plans regarding the incremental purchase scheme. [8172/11]

Part 3 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provision) Act, 2009 provides for an incremental purchase scheme in respect of newly-built houses reserved by housing authorities for the purpose. Regulations to implement the Incremental Purchase Scheme for new homes were made in June 2010.

A new tenant purchase scheme under the provisions of section 90 of the Housing Act, 1966 — the 2011 Tenant Purchase Scheme — was introduced recently to allow local authority tenants to avail of a discount of up to 45% on the market price of a house they are eligible to purchase under the scheme. This scheme applies only to tenants of 10 years standing or longer, and will be open for applications only until the end of this year, 2011. The new scheme does not replace the existing 1995 Tenant Purchase Scheme, which remains in place for tenants with up to 10 years tenancy and provides for a maximum discount of 30%.

However, as announced in June 2010, it remains the intention that the tenant purchase arrangements be wound down in 2012 to be replaced by a new scheme based on the incremental purchase model. This change will require amending legislation. I will consider this issue in more detail as part of the wider review of social housing policy generally which will be undertaken in the coming months. My Department has recently reminded housing authorities to inform all existing tenants of houses of the decision to end the tenant purchase scheme in 2012 so that they have sufficient time to apply to purchase their home under the existing scheme if they so wish.

Ministerial Staff

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

202 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the numbers, duties and grades of all persons within his Department who are assigned to work on constituency matters for him and any other Ministers assigned to his Department. [8241/11]

While arrangements for the staffing of the Constituency Offices in my Department are not yet finalised, these Offices, along with the Private Offices, will be staffed in accordance with the agreed reduced staffing limits decided by the Government. Under the Instruction on Ministerial Appointments for the 31st Dáil, I am currently arranging for the appointment of a Personal Secretary who will be assigned to work on constituency matters, along with an Executive Officer and Clerical Officer from my Department's existing staff complement.

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Mr. Willie Penrose, T.D., is arranging for the appointment of a Personal Secretary and Personal Assistant who will be assigned to work on constituency matters, along with a Clerical Officer from my Department's existing staff complement. Minister of State O'Dowd has no staff assigned to constituency matters in my Department.

Proposed Legislation

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

203 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government his plans to introduce legislation or a policy framework to support the voluntary work of residents’ associations around the country in the work of maintaining their residential estate. [8261/11]

My Department already operates several programmes that support, facilitate and encourage voluntary work for the maintenance and improvement of our living environment. I have recently announced a once-off initiative – Civic Responsibility Week — which will run from 9 to 15 May next, for which I will provide funding totalling €350,000 to local authorities to help improve the visual amenity of their areas, in conjunction with community groups, businesses and the general public.

The Tidy Towns competition (www.tidytowns.ie), operated by my Department, has been the catalyst for intensive voluntary effort for the improvement of our towns and villages since the competition's inception in 1958. In 2010, 764 towns and villages entered the competition, which encourages Tidy Towns groups and local authorities to work closely with each other.

National Spring Clean (www.nationalspringclean.org), which runs each year throughout the month of April, involves thousands of volunteers cleaning up our countryside and cities, towns and villages. This initiative is run by An Taisce and is co-financed by my Department. Local authorities play a central role and co-ordinate and assist events at local level. 2010 was the 12th anniversary of the campaign and was a resounding success with over 525,000 volunteers participating in 5,362 various events.

The Green Home initiative (www.greenhome.ie), operated by An Taisce, is a framework to support and encourage all householders to reduce their environmental impact and to live in a more sustainable manner. This initiative is supported by the EPA under the National Waste Prevention Programme, which is funded from the Environment Fund.

My Department is also currently developing a Greening Communities initiative in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency, local authorities, An Taisce and other environmental non-Governmental organisations, and other groups. This initiative will seek to integrate and build upon existing programmes, such as those outlined above. I have no plans to introduce any new legislation in this area and I am satisfied that the suite of measures being funded by my Department, coupled with the legislative measures available to local authorities, particularly in the Litter Pollution and Waste Management Acts, can assist residents' associations to take steps to improve their environments.

Grant Payments

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

204 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he will provide extra top-up compensation to the farmers in the Nephin Beg, Maumturk and Twelve Bens areas who were destocked, in view of the reduction of the agri-environment option scheme grant to €4,000 maximum; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8299/11]

The rate of top-up compensation for farmers who were de-stocked in the Owenduff/Nephin Beg and Twelve Bens/Maumturk was agreed between my Department and representatives from the farming organisations, and remains in place. The reduction in the grant for the Agri-Environment Options Scheme is a matter for the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries & Food.

Building Regulations

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

205 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, further to his correspondence of 5 April 2011 to this Deputy in reply to correspondence concerning the Building Control Bill 2005, if he will issue a substantive reply; when he will do so; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8325/11]

Fire Service

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

206 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if the pay of a chief fire officer is linked to the pay of a principal officer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8348/11]

The salaries of Chief Fire Officers are aligned to those of engineers in local authorities. The salary scales are set out in the table.

Chief fire Officer (Dublin City Council)

Chief Fire Officer

Point

Rate 01/01/2010

Point

Rate 01/01/2010

1

78,368

1

73,223

2

81,185

2

74,957

3

83,995

3

76,685

4

86,809

4

78,417

5

89,623

5

80,148

LSI 1

92,583

6

81,886

LSI 2

95,540

LSI 1

84,500

LSI 2

87,117

Departmental Agencies

Eric J. Byrne

Ceist:

207 Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the housing agencies with which the National Building Agency has been amalgamated; the status of the housing and sustainable communities agency and the position regarding the redeployment of staff from the National Building Agency to other agencies. [8409/11]

As part of the rationalisation of state agencies the NBA is due to be wound up over the course of 2011. A new housing agency, the Housing and Sustainable Communities Agency (established on an administrative basis last year), has taken on some of the functions of the NBA, in particular those relating to project management, regeneration and procurement. As part of this process 18 NBA staff have received offers of positions with the new housing agency, 17 of which have been accepted. In addition to this, 4 NBA staff have redeployed to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland and a further 6 have received offers from 2 other agencies, which are currently under negotiation with the Department of Finance. All remaining staff (28) have been referred to the Public Appointments Service (PAS) redeployment system, as provided for under the Croke Park agreement.

The Housing and Sustainable Communities Agency is expected to receive full statutory underpinning over the coming months, following the enactment of the Local Government (Corporate Bodies) (Amendment) Bill, which is on the Government's priority legislation list.

Social and Affordable Housing

Niall Collins

Ceist:

208 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding an application for funding in respect of a project (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8436/11]

A proposal was received from Clúid Housing Association under my Department's Capital Loan and Subsidy Scheme (CLSS) in April, 2009 to provide 11 housing units at Ardagh, County Limerick, costing an estimated €2.350 million. Due to the high level of capital commitments on approved projects at that time and the competing demands for the available funding the proposal was not approved. In the interim, a decision was made to discontinue the CLSS.

In June 2010, my Department issued a Call For Proposals under the Capital Assistance Scheme to approved housing bodies to submit, through the relevant local authority, proposals for meeting the accommodation needs of persons with specific categories of housing need, including older persons and persons with a disability. No such proposal was received in respect of a housing scheme for the elderly at Ardagh.

Motor Taxation

Paudie Coffey

Ceist:

209 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, in the interests of retention of public services and achieving new efficiencies in the administration of motor tax, if he will explore the possibility of transferring the responsibilities for the collection of motor tax and issuing motor tax discs from local authorities to the post office service, similar to that in the UK; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8455/11]

The Road Vehicles (Registration and Licensing) (Amendment) Regulations 1992 provide that an application for a vehicle licence must be made to a licensing authority. A licensing authority is defined in the Road Vehicles (Registration and Licensing) Order 1958 as amended by the Motor Vehicles (Duties and Licences Act) 2003 as a county council, a corporation of a county borough or the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. The Local Government (Roads Functions) Act 2007 and the Road and Road Vehicles (Transfer of Departmental Administration and Ministerial Functions) Order 2007 transferred certain motor tax functions to the Minister for Transport. Under current legislative provisions it is not possible for any other party to issue vehicle licences. However, I have all matters relating to motor tax policy under review.

Turbary Rights

Frank Feighan

Ceist:

210 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding farmers who have signed contracts for sale of bogland in special areas of conservation and who have not to date, five years later, received payment; and in view of the fact that a new compensation scheme for bog owners in SAC areas has been introduced, when may those farmers expect to receive payment. [8473/11]

In May 2010, the voluntary bog purchase scheme was closed to new applicants; however, there are a number of applications still on-hand. Completion of sales has been slower than anticipated due to capacity constraints in undertaking the conveyancing work involved. My Department will be writing to all remaining applicants under the voluntary purchase scheme in the coming weeks to outline their options in light of recent policy decisions regarding the availability of alternative compensation arrangements.

Foreshore Licences

Jim Daly

Ceist:

211 Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding a foreshore licence application in respect of a club (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8508/11]

This application was referred to the Chief State Solicitor's Office for legal advice in February 2011 following a challenge to the State's ownership of the foreshore concerned; the applicant was advised of this referral at the time.

Building Regulations

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

212 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government the position regarding aspects of the Building Control Act 2007 (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8514/11]

I refer to the reply to Question No 58 of 24 March 2011 which comprehensively addressed the issues regarding the registration of the title of Architect.

Grant Payments

Michael Moynihan

Ceist:

213 Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government when a payment under the hen harrier protection scheme will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [8543/11]

My Department is awaiting the requisite annual payment application form and compliance report from the concerned person's approved scheme planner. Once these documents are received, and demonstrate that the person is compliant with the terms of the plan, the payment will issue.

Citizenship Applications

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

214 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding naturalisation. [8149/11]

I have no plans to reduce the fee payable on the granting of citizenship.

Garda Recruitment

John O'Mahony

Ceist:

215 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when recruitment for An Garda Síochána will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8131/11]

John O'Mahony

Ceist:

216 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if persons already on the panel for recruitment for An Garda Síochána will be called when recruitment commences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8132/11]

Joe Higgins

Ceist:

217 Deputy Joe Higgins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when the embargo on Garda recruitment will be lifted. [8147/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 215 to 217, inclusive, together.

I refer the Deputies to my reply below to Parliamentary Question No. 6084/11 of 30 March 2011. The position remains unchanged since then.

As the moratorium on Public Service Recruitment continues to apply to An Garda Síochána, no date has been fixed for future intakes into the Garda College or for the commencement of a recruitment competition. A decision on when recruitment will re-commence will take into account the rate of retirement in the Garda Síochána and Government targets for reductions in public service numbers.

Candidates who have been successful at stages one and two of the previous recruitment process have had their names forwarded by the Public Appointments service to the Commissioner. These candidates will be eligible, subject to successfully undergoing the medical examination, the physical competency test and character vetting, for any future intakes into the Garda College when recruitment resumes.

Visa Applications

John O'Mahony

Ceist:

218 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason a person (details supplied) was refused a short-stay visa to visit their family; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8152/11]

The visa application referred to by the Deputy was received in the Visa Office, Dublin on the 6 April 2011 having been forwarded by the Embassy of Ireland, Cairo for decision on the 30 March 2011. The application is currently awaiting consideration by a Visa Officer. Applicants are advised to apply at least eight weeks prior to the proposed date of travel. Visa Officers are currently considering ‘visit' visa applications received in the Visa Office, Dublin on the 16 March 2011. Following standard practice, once a decision on the application referred to has been made, the applicant will be informed by way of written correspondence. Details of the decision will also be made available on the website of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (www.inis.gov.ie) in a manner which protects the confidentiality of the application and the identity of the applicant.

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

Garda Vetting of Personnel

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

219 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when an application for Garda vetting was received in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Donegal and when it will be processed. [8165/11]

I am informed by the Garda Authorities that the Garda Central Vetting Unit has no record of a vetting application in respect of the person to whom the Deputy refers. In the circumstances, I can only suggest that the person seeks clarification from the organisation submitting the application.

Peter Fitzpatrick

Ceist:

220 Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will review the Garda vetting procedures for personnel employed in children’s health care units with a view to substantially reducing the time taken for each application. [8188/11]

I do have concerns at the length of time currently being taken to process vetting applications. I recognise that it is important to process these applications within a reasonable time frame both for the benefit of the applicants and the organisations involved. I am informed by the Garda authorities that at present there are a total of five Gardaí, 76 full-time Garda civilian personnel and ten temporary civilian personnel assigned to the Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU). This represents a very significant increase in the level of personnel assigned to the unit, which stood at only 13 before the current process of development in Garda vetting began in 2005.

A number of immediate measures are being taken to improve the situation. The sanction of the Department of Finance has been obtained to retain the services of ten temporary employees in the GCVU. A further sanction has been obtained to engage an additional ten temporary employees for the Unit and these are now being recruited. This should have an impact on processing times. In addition, further steps are under consideration with a view to alleviating the pressure on the staff of the GCVU and to reduce the time taken for the processing of applications.

The GCVU, based in Thurles, Co. Tipperary, provides a centralised employment vetting to organisations in Ireland registered with the Garda Síochána for this purpose and which employ or engage persons in a full-time, part-time, voluntary or training capacity to positions where they would have substantial, unsupervised access to children and/or vulnerable adults. This, of course, includes the healthcare sector. I am informed by the Garda Authorities that, at present, the average processing time for vetting applications received at the GCVU is approximately 10 weeks.

The service has been expanded greatly in recent years as part of an ongoing, phased programme to roll-out vetting to an increasing number of organisations in the child and vulnerable adult care sectors. This target group is the clear policy priority. Within this programme the vetting service has now been extended to over 18,000 organisations. The GCVU has managed a substantial increase over recent years in the numbers of vetting applications it receives. The figures since 2006 are as follows:

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

137,600

187,864

218,404

246,194

291,938

The average processing time for vetting applications fluctuates in line with periods of increased demand. In processing an individual vetting application, additional time may be required in cases where clarification is needed as to the details provided or where other enquiries need to be made, for example, when the person in question has lived and worked abroad. There will always be a reasonably significant time period required to process a vetting application. Registered organisations have been advised to take account of this in their recruitment and selection process. However, the Gardaí make every effort to reduce the time to the minimum possible consistent with carrying out what are very necessary checks.

Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal

John McGuinness

Ceist:

221 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Justice and Equality, further to Parliamentary Question No. 182 of 30 June 2010, if this application has been decided upon; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8216/11]

I can inform the Deputy that under the terms of the Scheme of Compensation for Personal Injuries Criminally Inflicted, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal is entirely independent in the matter of individual applications that fall to be considered under the Scheme. However, to assist the Deputy, I have had enquires made with the Tribunal on his behalf. I understand from the Tribunal that the tragic incident in this case gave rise to three applications to the Tribunal and that all three applications have been submitted to a member of the Tribunal for decision. I am informed by the Tribunal that the applicant will be notified directly as soon as the decisions become available.

Ministerial Staff

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

222 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the numbers, duties and grades of all persons within his Department who are assigned to work on constituency matters for him and any other Ministers assigned to his Department. [8245/11]

There is 1 Personal Secretary and 2 Clerical Officers in my constituency office. The staff concerned handle and process representations made to me on matters of concern to constituents.

Garda Investigations

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

223 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding a traffic incident in respect of persons (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [8259/11]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that local Garda management is aware of the incident referred to, which occurred on 8 April, 2011 and was reported to Coolock Garda Station. It is currently being investigated by Gardaí who have spoken to the complainants, who will be kept informed of the progress of the investigation. As the investigation is ongoing, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further at this time.

Liquor Licensing Laws

Peter Mathews

Ceist:

224 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to tackle the promotion and sale of cheap alcohol; his further plans to amend opening hours for off-licences; his plans to sign section 16 of the Liquor Act 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8270/11]

The position is that section 16(1)(b) of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008 provides for the making of regulations to prohibit or restrict licensees from selling or supplying alcohol products at a reduced price or free of charge on the purchase of any quantity of alcohol or any other product or service. Draft regulations have been drawn up but have not been implemented to date pending agreement on a joint North/South approach to restricting alcohol promotions. Preliminary discussions on such a joint approach have already taken place between officials on both sides and I am confident that agreement can be reached at ministerial level without undue difficulty. Such a joint approach is needed in order to ensure that the effectiveness of measures introduced by regulations under section 16 would not be undermined or substantially offset by increased cross-border purchasing of alcohol.

As regards below-cost sales of alcohol, the position is that the previous Government agreed in March 2009 to include alcohol in the National Substance Misuse Strategy and a Steering Group was subsequently established to develop proposals for integrating alcohol misuse into that Strategy. I understand that the Steering Group, which operates under the aegis of the Department of Health, has been examining a range of issues relating to alcohol availability and pricing and is due to submit its report, including policy recommendations, later this year.

The Government Alcohol Advisory Group made recommendations for restricting the hours during which alcohol could be sold for consumption off the premises in their March 2008 Report. The Group had been requested to examine the public order aspects of excessive alcohol consumption and had recommended restrictions with a view to reducing the incidence of public order offences. The Group's recommendations were subsequently given statutory effect in the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008. Under section 4 of the Act, such sales are permitted only between 10.30 a.m. (12.30 p.m. on Sundays) and 10.00 p.m.

Citizenship Applications

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

225 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will review an application in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3. [8308/11]

A valid application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to in the Deputy's Question was received in the Citizenship Division of my Department in November 2009. The application is currently 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 25 months, processing requirements and time taken to carry out necessary checks vary from case to case. In response to Parliamentary Question Number 7104/11 of the 7th April last, I outlined that I have initiated steps to provide for speedier processing of applications.

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.

Courts Service

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

226 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the steps he will take or the legislation he will introduce to protect those in ward of court who have lost on investments made by the Courts Service. [8316/11]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

227 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the controls or due diligence audits being carried out on investments made by the Courts Service; the persons that monitor these investments and if he will confirm if the Courts Service still invests in the shares and stocks market. [8317/11]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

228 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his proposal for those who were granted ward of court status and substantial awards which are now nearly worthless some of whom are denied allowances, medical cards, free fuel and so on and on whom the universal social charge applies. [8318/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 226 to 228, inclusive, together.

Jurisdiction in Wards of Court matters is vested in the High Court. The Courts are, subject only to the Constitution and the law, independent in the exercise of their judicial functions and, therefore, it is not open to me as Minister to comment in any way. Section 4(3) of the Courts Service Act 1998 Act provides that the Courts Service is independent in the performance of its functions, which are specified in section 5 and includes the management of the Courts.

Court funds which are held for the benefit of Wards of Court are private funds under the control of the Courts Service which, through its offices in the High, Circuit and District Courts, has responsibility for the management and investment of funds in court. These funds, which currently amount to approximately €1.137 billion at 30th September 2010, are managed in a fiduciary capacity by the Courts Service on behalf of more than 18,000 beneficiaries. Approximately 2,300 of these are wards of court. Also included are minors and various categories of litigant. Funds under the control of the Courts are required by law to be invested in accordance with the Trustee (Authorised Investments) Act 1958 and the orders made thereunder.

The Courts Service operates a conservative investment policy. Over 98% of court funds are held in cash based assets, with 1% invested in bonds and only 1% exposure to equities. All investments carry some degree of risk. In line with international experience, court funds were impacted by the turbulence on world financial markets, particularly in 2008. Despite the impact of the credit crisis, very few actual losses were incurred in individual cases. All funds have fully recovered to pre-financial crisis levels.

A major modernisation programme for the governance and management and investment of court funds commenced in 2003 and has resulted in:

improved governance through the establishment of an Investment Committee, chaired by the President of the High Court. Its membership includes external independent experts. Annual financial statements are audited by independent external auditors and published on the Courts Service website at www.courts.ie;

access to independent investment and risk management advice through the engagement of independent investment advisors to ensure its investment policies are in compliance with the relevant legislation and best practice;

investment strategies have been implemented to ensure a consistent approach to the investment of all court funds. The unitised funds used have been approved by the Financial Services Regulatory Authority;

following a competitive EU procurement independent external fund managers were appointed in 2003 to manage these funds. The performance of the fund managers is monitored by both the investment advisors and the Investment Committee on a regular basis.

While there will always be fluctuations in the value of investments from time to time, over the seven year period of the new investment strategies being in operation, there has been good investment performance. In the most recent financial year, ended 30th September 2010, all court funds experienced positive investment performance. The cumulative investment growth since the new funds were established in 2003 has ranged from 18.5% to over 40%. This represents strong growth despite the impact of the credit crisis on financial markets. Finally, the Deputy may be interested in the Report and Financial Statements of the Office of the Accountant of the Courts of Justice for the year ended 30 September, 2010 which are published on www.courts.ie.

Citizenship Applications

Paudie Coffey

Ceist:

229 Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding a naturalisation application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Waterford; when the application will be finalised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8332/11]

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 September 2008. The application is currently 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 25 months, processing requirements and time taken to carry out necessary checks vary from case to case. In response to Parliamentary Question Number 7104/11 of the 7th April last, as seen below, I outlined that I have initiated steps to provide for speedier processing of applications.

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.

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 October 2009. The application is currently 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 25 months, processing requirements and time taken to carry out necessary checks vary from case to case.

I am unhappy with the length of time it takes to process citizenship applications. I have initiated steps within my Department to provide for a speedier processing of applications and to bring about a substantial reduction in the time scale. When the Department is in a position to implement these new arrangements an announcement will be made.

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.

Garda Complaints Procedures

Clare Daly

Ceist:

230 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to the fact that many complaints which are referred to the Garda ombudsman are actually investigated by gardaí themselves due to lack of resources; his plans to increase the resources of the Garda ombudsman services or to give the ombudsman greater power to actually discipline gardaí; in view of the above issues, his views that the most recent policing problems at a location (details supplied) whereby women protesters in the custody of gardaí were spoken about in terms of sexual violence should be investigated independently, not by other gardaí, and that an independent, international investigation of the policing of the project should take place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8336/11]

The Garda Síochána Act 2005 sets out the role of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC). The Act establishes GSOC as a key element of the policing framework. This role is essential in ensuring that public confidence in the Gardaí is safeguarded. An effective police complaints system must be capable of dealing appropriately and proportionately with a diverse range of allegations against the police in accordance with the seriousness of the complaint and its possible implications. As such, GSOC employs a number of different methods of investigation depending on the nature of the complaint. If a complaint warrants a formal investigation:

GSOC may decide to refer the complaint to the Garda Commissioner for investigation under the Disciplinary Regulations. If complainants are not happy with the outcome of such an investigation, they can request that the Garda Ombudsman conduct a review of the case;

As well as referring a complaint to the Garda Commissioner as above, GSOC actively supervises some of these Garda investigations; In addition, GSOC can take over either unsupervised or supervised investigations and process them itself, should it feel that such a step is required;

GSOC may also conduct investigations of its own from the beginning. In addition, Direct investigations by GSOC will always be carried out in cases involving the death of, or serious harm to, a person as a result of Garda operations or while in the custody or care of An Garda Síochána, or in cases involving potential criminality.

GSOC is not empowered to take disciplinary action against a member of the Garda Síochána — it is empowered to recommend disciplinary action to the Garda Commissioner. Under section 26 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 it is the Commissioner who has statutory responsibility for the direction and control of the Garda Síochána. GSOC has significant powers to enable it to perform its statutory functions. In direct investigations, its investigating officers have designated police powers. It has the authority to make recommendations to the Garda Commissioner concerning disciplinary proceedings, and also to send a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) where it feels that the conduct under investigation may constitute an offence.

In relation to the particular incident to which the Deputy refers, GSOC responded quickly and commenced an investigation on April 5th 2011 under Section 102(4) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005. This section of the Act empowers GSOC to investigate matters where the Commission feels it is in the public interest to do so. The investigation is being conducted by GSOC designated officers. I have been informed that the investigation has been given high priority and it is hoped that it will be concluded at an early stage. I have full confidence in the independence and effectiveness of GSOC in investigating Garda conduct, and I see no basis for the suggestion that there should be an international investigation of the policing of this protest.

Departmental Internships

Clare Daly

Ceist:

231 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans for allowing students who apply to do so to carry out internships in Departments while they are still in college, in order to gain experience in the areas in which they are studying. [8337/11]

I am pleased to say that my Department has been offering internship opportunities for a number of years, focusing primarily, but not exclusively, on law graduates and final year law students. The Department has also been actively engaging with the FÁS Work Placement Programme (WPP) and has given work experience to a number of unemployed graduates under the Programme. I am committed to building on these solid foundations to provide work experience in a range of areas across the Justice and Equality sectors into the future.

Citizenship Applications

Patrick O'Donovan

Ceist:

232 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding a naturalisation application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wexford; when a decision will issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8416/11]

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 March 2010. The application is currently 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 25 months, processing requirements and time taken to carry out necessary checks vary from case to case. In response to Parliamentary Question No. 71 of 7th April last, I outlined that I have initiated steps to provide for speedier processing of applications.

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

John Lyons

Ceist:

233 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding the EU treaty rights application in respect of a person (details supplied); and when a decision is expected on this application. [8429/11]

I am informed by the Immigration Division of my Department that the person concerned made an application for a residence card as the non EU family member of an EU citizen. The person referred to by the Deputy was informed of the decision to refuse this application on 2 December, 2010. A request by the applicant for a review of this decision was received on 17 December, 2010. All applications for review are dealt with in chronological order of date of receipt and the decision to refuse this application remains under review. Each application for review is examined on its own merits and a decision on the outcome of this review will be communicated as soon as possible.

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.

Detention Centres

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

234 Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to the food procurement policies of detention centres (details supplied); if these goods are sourced from outside the State; and if so, the rationale for same. [8450/11]

The procurement processes used by Children Detention Schools follow EU policies and regulations in accordance with guidelines from the Department of Finance. These policies and regulations require that procurement of services, such as the provision of foodstuffs, in excess of a certain cost threshold, must be open to bidders across the European Union.

An Invitation to Tender for the Provision of Foodstuffs to the Children Detention Schools issued in November 2009 on E-tenders, (the Government's on-line tendering site) and in the Official Journal of the European Union. There were six contract categories awarded to preferred bidders in 2010, of which five have headquarters in the State and one, in relation to dry goods, was awarded to a company which operates across the country and has its headquarters in Co. Down. The contracts in question will run for a period of two years. The selection of the preferred bidders was based on the response to the criteria set out in the Invitation to Tender and on the best prices being quoted. Information on procurement is available on the National Procurement Service website, www.procurement.ie.

Private Security Authority

Dominic Hannigan

Ceist:

235 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of organisational licences and individual licences issued by the Private Security Authority in each of the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010; the revenue emanating from these licences, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8466/11]

Dominic Hannigan

Ceist:

236 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of staff employed by the Private Security Authority; the number of these involved in investigation of licences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8467/11]

Dominic Hannigan

Ceist:

237 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of complaints received by the Private Security Authority in each of the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8468/11]

Dominic Hannigan

Ceist:

238 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of cases referred to the Garda by the Private Security Authority in 2009 and 2010; the number which went to prosecutions; the number which have failed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8469/11]

Dominic Hannigan

Ceist:

239 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of cases the Private Security Authority has taken against persons or organisations for operating without a licence in the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8470/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 235 to 239, inclusive, together.

The Private Security Authority (PSA), an independent body under the aegis of my Department, is responsible for the licensing and regulation of the Irish security industry. I have been informed by the Authority that since commencing licensing in 2006, the PSA has processed over 57,500 applications. As a result, there are currently over 730 contractors and over 27,000 individuals licensed to provide certain security services. The Authority has transformed the security industry in Ireland by improving standards, setting training requirements and ensuring that criminal record checking has been carried out for those working in the sector.

Two types of licences are issued by the Authority — one for contractors and one for individuals. The first table provides details of the number of contractor licences in each of the sectors currently licensed by the Authority. The number of contractors licensed is greater than the number of contractors mentioned above (730), as some contractors operate in more than one sector.

Table 1 — Contractor Licences issued for each sector between 2007 and 2010

Year Licence Issued

Door Supervisor

Security Guard (Monitoring)

Security Guard (Static)

Installer (Intruder) Alarms

Cash In Transit

Total

2006

45

15

251

282

0

593

2007

53

19

278

490

0

840

2008

56

22

254

501

0

833

2009

71

26

263

491

0

851

2010

71

29

239

494

23

856

The first licences for individuals were issued by the Authority in 2008. Table 2 outlines the number of licences granted in this regard. As with contractor licences, some individuals will hold a licence for both sectors. Both contractor and individual licences are issued for a 2 year period.

Table 2 — Individual Licences issued for each sector between 2008 and 2010

Year Licence Issued

Door Supervisor (Licensed Premises)

Security Guard (Static)

Total

2008

5,035

13,828

18,863

2009

8,647

20,069

28,716

2010

8,931

19,373

28,304

The revenues received by the Authority from licence fees for the years since 2007 are set out in the following table. Over the period 2007-2010 the Authority received €9.67 million in funding from the Exchequer while fee income amounted to €9.76 million.

Table 3 — Total Licence fees received by the Authority between 2007 and 2010

Year

Contractor

Individual

Total

2007

392,253

1,905,168

2,297,421

2008

2,019,000

750,590

2,769,590

2009

716,294

1,146,939

1,863,233

2010

1,454,300

1,373,163

2,827,463

The Authority has a staff of 34 headed by the Chief Executive Officer. The number of staff assigned to Enforcement Division is nine, of which four are full time Inspectors appointed under Section 14 of the Private Security Services Act 2004.

The Authority receives formal complaints made in accordance with Section 39 of the aforementioned Act and a large number of ‘informal complaints'. The total number of formal complaints received by the Authority for the period in question is 41 and table 4 outlines the breakdown, per annum, of those received. The wearing of an Identity Badge by licensed individuals became mandatory on 1 September 2009 and the Deputy will note that, since then, there has been a substantial increase in the number of formal complaints against licensed individuals. During the same period, 2007 to 2010, the Authority received over 3,300 informal complaints through its reporting mechanisms. The number of such reports is also set out as follows as are the number of cases investigated and completed by the Authority.

Table 4 — Complaints and Investigations between 2007 and 2010

Year

Number of formal complaints

Number of informal complaints received

Number of cases investigated and completed

2007

1

1,230

1,802

2008

2

853

1,644

2009

10

704

1,620

2010

28

526

1,828

With regard to the Deputy's query regarding the number of cases referred by the Authority to the Gardaí, I would like to clarify that An Garda Síochána does not take prosecutions on behalf of the Authority. Instead, the Authority brings its own prosecutions under the Private Security Services Act 2004. The relevant details are outlined as follows:

Table 5 — Prosecution cases between 2007 and 2010

Year

No. of cases successfully prosecuted

No. of cases where prosecution was unsuccessful

2007

11

2

2008

6

2

2009

7

0

2010

7

1

Garda Deployment

Seán Kenny

Ceist:

240 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of gardaí by rank in each local and district drugs unit. [8490/11]

The most recent readily available statistics relate to the strength of each Divisional Drug Unit as of 28th February 2011 and these are set out in the following table. It should be noted that Divisional drug units are supported in their operations by members of the Garda National Drugs Unit, the strength of which was 52 on the same date.

Division

Total

DMRNC

0

2

11

13

DMRN

0

4

29

33

DMRE

0

2

11

13

DMRS

0

4

26

30

DMRW

0

5

31

36

Waterford

0

1

8

9

Wexford

0

1

11

12

Kilkenny/Carlow

0

2

9

11

Tipperary

0

0

8

8

Cork City

1

3

23

27

Cork North

0

0

8

8

Cork West

0

1

5

6

Kerry

0

1

9

10

Limerick

0

3

18

21

Donegal

1

1

9

11

Cavan/Monaghan

0

2

9

11

Sligo/Leitrim

0

1

6

7

Louth

0

1

6

7

Clare

0

1

8

9

Mayo

0

1

5

6

Galway

0

1

11

12

Roscommon/Longford

0

1

6

7

Westmeath

0

1

8

9

Meath

0

1

9

10

Kildare

0

2

4

6

Laois/Offaly

0

0

2

2

Wicklow

0

2

9

11

Total

2

46

316

364

Seán Kenny

Ceist:

241 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of gardaí by rank in each crime scene investigation unit. [8491/11]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that on the latest date for which figures were readily available, there were 160 scenes of crime examiners. The following table provides the Garda personnel qualified as Scenes of Crime Examiners in each Garda Division nationwide.

Scenes of Crime Unit

Division

Sergeant

Gardaí

D/Gardaí

DMR North Central

1

5

0

DMR South Central

1

7

1

DMR North

1

5

2

DMR South

1

7

0

DMR East

1

7

0

DMR West

1

8

0

Cavan Monaghan

1

4

0

Donegal

1

5

0

Louth

1

4

0

Sligo Leitrim

1

4

0

Cork City

1

4

2

Cork North

0

3

0

Cork West

0

3

0

Kerry

1

3

1

Limerick

0

5

0

Kildare

1

4

0

Laois Offaly

1

5

0

Meath

1

4

0

Westmeath

1

4

0

Wicklow

0

5

0

Clare

1

4

0

Galway

1

7

0

Roscommon/Longford

2

5

0

Mayo

1

4

0

Carlow/Kilkenny

0

4

0

Tipperary

1

4

0

Waterford

0

5

0

Wexford

0

3

0

Divisional Scenes of Crime personnel and Senior Investigating Officers investigating serious crime are supported by expert personnel attached to the Garda Technical Bureau comprising the following personnel :

Superintendent

Inspector

Sergeant

Gardaí

Civilians

1

3

14

70

7

Visa Applications

Seán Kenny

Ceist:

242 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons refused entry into Ireland by each port of entry for the years 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and to date in 2011; the nationality of the persons refused entry and the reasons they were denied entry. [8492/11]

Section 4 of the Immigration Act, 2004, empowers an immigration officer, on behalf of the Minister, to authorise a non-national to land or be in the State. Sub-section (3) of Section 4 enumerates, at (a) to (k), eleven circumstances which an immigration officer may, on behalf of the Minister, have regard to in refusing to give such authorisation. The following table shows the number of persons refused permission to enter the State each year from 2007 to date in 2011 (valid to 31 March, 2011) by each Port of entry:

Port

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

Border with N. Ireland

1

6

12

16

21

Cobh

2

2

1

Cork Airport

18

123

160

188

231

Cork Port

6

2

3

3

Donegal Int’l Airport

2

4

Drogheda

5

3

6

Dromad

1

Dublin Airport

507

2,017

2,717

3,773

4,214

Dublin Port

4

135

119

139

181

Dún Laoghaire

32

41

167

221

Dundalk

103

502

545

725

595

Galway Airport

3

9

11

Kerry Airport

14

9

20

14

Knock Int’l Airport

6

12

15

12

Limerick

1

2

Monaghan

1

3

7

8

Other

3

28

35

57

45

Rosslare Port

12

94

68

115

143

Shannon Airport

3

50

119

132

152

Sligo Airport

1

2

Waterford Port

3

Waterford Reg. Airport

9

11

Total

660

3,031

3,857

5,380

5,854

The following table shows the number of persons refused permission to enter the State for each year from 2007 to date in 2011 (valid to 31 March, 2011), under each specific subsection of the Immigration Act, 2004:

Subsection.

Reason for refusal

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

a

That the non-national is not in a position to support himself or herself and any accompanying dependants.

65

279

514

737

558

b

That the non-national intends to take up employment in the State, but is not in possession of a valid employment permit (within the meaning of the Employment Permits Act 2003).

16

86

179

214

136

c

That the non-national suffers from a condition set out in the First Schedule;

0

0

0

1

2

d

That the non-national has been convicted (whether in the State or elsewhere) of an offence that may be punished under the law of the place of conviction by imprisonment for a period of one year or by a more severe penalty.

0

8

7

5

7

e

That the non-national, not being exempt, by virtue of an order under Section 17, from the requirement to have an Irish visa, is not the holder of a valid Irish visa

179

917

1,009

1,221

1,074

f

That the non-national is the subject of — (i) a deportation order (within the meaning of the Act of 1999) or (ii) an exclusion order (within the meaning of that Act), or (iii) a determination by the Minister that it is conducive to the public.

2

32

37

42

22

g

That the non-national is not in possession of a valid passport or other equivalent document, issued by or on behalf of an authority recognised by the Government, which establishes his or her identity and nationality

182

913

1,006

1,215

1,384

h

That the non-national — (i) intends to travel (whether immediately or not) to Great Britain or Northern Ireland, and (ii) would not qualify for admission to Great Britain or Northern Ireland if he or she arrived there from a place other than the

99

309

418

639

497

i

That the non-national, having arrived in the State in the course of employment as a seaman,