Adjournment Debate

Passport Applications

I thank the Ceann Comhairle and the Acting Chairman, Deputy Tom Hayes, for allowing me the opportunity to raise the need for the Minister for Foreign Affairs to review procedures at the Passport Office, with particular reference to the need to cater for the increased public demand, notwithstanding modern security requirements, if he will ensure the redeployment of whatever staff are required to ensure the delivery of a fast, effective and efficient service, if he will take immediate steps to address those issues and if he will make a statement on the matter.

That is not a criticism of the Minister. He inherited the problems to which I refer. Neither is it a criticism of the staff of the Passport Office because the problem has existed for six or seven years and has gradually become worse. It is essential that every Department would address issues that impede progress, economic development and recovery and the delivery of services at this sensitive time.

Countless situations arise where people who have a need for a passport in a hurry cannot get one for various reasons. There may be a need for the redeployment of staff within the system. There is an embargo on recruitment in the public service but that has nothing to do with the problem. We must respond to the current needs that arise, whatever they are.

I urge the Minister to take whatever action is necessary to identify the issues that are causing the problems, logjams and delays. There is a huge degree of frustration among staff in the Passport Office. They constantly feel under attack. That is understandable because the volume of work which is coming their way is creating a problem. The tendency in such situations is for people to go into decline, to resile from the situation and to exacerbate the problem further. It does not make for good job satisfaction and there must be some degree of job satisfaction involved in one's work.

At present, the public requires a service whether it is for business or pleasure. Every Department has in some small way an opportunity to turn the dial, as it were, to tweak and improve the system by identifying the issues that are causing a problem. I ask that it would be done as a matter of urgency at this juncture in the economic situation because unless action is taken we will have continued frustration on the part of the general public, the staff in the Passport Office and continuous erosion of our economic competitiveness as a result. I ask the Minister to take immediate steps to address the issue.

I thank Deputy Durkan for raising the issue. I am responding on behalf of the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Gilmore. I hope I will be able to assure the Deputy that we are taking action in the Department.

There are currently 51,628 passport applications in the system being processed across the Passport Offices in Molesworth Street, Balbriggan, Cork and London. The figures show an increase in passport demand of 12% in comparison to 2009. Whereas the exact reason for the increase in demand is unclear it is noticeable that passport applications for children are running at a level 18% higher than in the same period in recent years. Discussions with customers have also suggested that much of the demand relates to last minute travel plans made for holiday reasons.

At present the passport service is receiving an average of approximately 4,200 applications per day. There is an unprecedented level of demand in the system, with the number of applications received in four recent days from Irish residents alone at more than 5,200, exceeding by 700 the highest number of applications previously received for any one single day since records were maintained.

The passport service is also coping with an unprecedented demand for passports at short notice, with approximately 350 people per day, on average, coming to the public office seeking passports within a period of less than ten days. On 30 May, more than 600 people submitted applications for a short notice service at the public offices in Molesworth Street and Cork. In the context of the large number of customers using the public counter service, it is not always possible to accommodate all requests for a short notice service. Citizens are advised that the public counter services should only be used in cases of genuine emergency. Priority at the public counters will be given to those who have a necessity to travel for reasons of family emergency, that is, where travel is necessitated by the death, illness or welfare of a family member.

It should also be stressed that to protect the integrity of the system and the quality of the passport, the passport service cannot provide standard passports within a single day. The shortest turnaround time available is three working days for applications received over the public counter accompanied by proof of travel, other than in cases of genuine emergency.

There has been some media commentary on the scale of the delays, some of which has been inaccurate. Whereas the delay of three working days in processing passport express applications is regretted, it is three working days and not the many weeks suggested by some media commentators. Passport express applications are still being produced within a maximum of 13 working days. Equally, more than 70% of applications submitted on the island come through the express service and, accordingly, the number of citizens experiencing weeks of delay has also been overstated in places.

It is regrettable that due to the overwhelming number of applications, those submitted through other channels, that is, through the ordinary post system or from Ireland's overseas missions, do not attract a guaranteed turnaround time and are currently taking more than six weeks to be processed. During the peak summer period, application processing times for the services can lengthen. In such circumstances, priority continues to be given to applications made through the passport express service. Notice of the current extended turnaround time and its likely duration has been published on the passport service website,www.passport.ie. The Passport Office has also informed An Post of the situation so customers can be advised at the point of application.

In January, a series of changes to passport application procedures for first-time adult applicants and those reporting passports lost or stolen were introduced. The changes required that applicants in those categories submit additional documentary evidence to establish identity and entitlement to an Irish passport. The additional documents sought include forms of photographic identification, proof of use of the name of the applicant and proof of residence at the applicant's address. In particular, in the light of recent high profile international incidents relating to passport fraud, the measures were introduced to protect the integrity and international reputation of the Irish passport. Whereas the new measures have had some impact on the time taken to process applications, the impact primarily relates to only a small subset of the overall application demand. Additionally, I should stress that they have been implemented with a degree of commonsense balanced with the overall need to protect against identity theft and passport fraud.

From the start of April the Department took on additional temporary staff to work in the passport service. There are now 85 additional temporary staff in place, and they have been trained in passport processing. In conjunction with some seasonal overtime and other measures under consideration the passport service is seeking to return passport turnaround times to normal levels at the earliest opportunity. In the interim I strongly appeal to the public to assist the passport service by checking the validity of their passports before making bookings to travel abroad. A valid passport should be the first item on any check list when considering foreign travel. I hope the information offers some assurance to Deputy Durkan.

If I might make an observation, I suggest the Department or the Passport Office should consider placing an advertisement in local papers at certain times of the year, exhorting people to apply in time for their passports, to try to avoid the peak and valley problem.

The Minister can take up that issue.

I will certainly pass on that suggestion to the Minister.

School Transport

The rules for the primary school transport scheme will change as a result of budget 2011 and these changes will come into effect for the school year 2011-12. The main changes are the introduction of an annual charge, the removal of eligibility under the central closed school rules for certain children living less than 3.2 km from the school, and a minimum of ten eligible children required to retain a transport service in a respective area.

These changes, when implemented, will cause problems and place pressure on children, parents, teachers and bus providers. Traffic hazards will also result where a service is withdrawn. In one part of north Kerry, some ten services have already been removed. This will cause hardship and the extra cars on the roads will give rise to safety issues at schools. The changes go against the commitment given over 30 years ago when primary schools were amalgamated or closed. Negotiations between the various parties and the Department at the time came to an agreement that a service would be provided, but now that agreement is being broken. The guarantees given then created a sense of trust and commitment, but that exists no longer.

Last night, the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport, Deputy Jimmy Deenihan, Deputy Arthur Spring and I attended a meeting in Listowel which was attended by more than 400 people, from north Kerry, parts of Limerick, south Kerry and even one from Clare. There is absolute fear and dissatisfaction across the spectrum at what is being proposed and with what has been done. I understand the Minister of State, Deputy Cannon, is due to meet the people in the area in Listowel in a few weeks time. People are worried, concerned and fearful. Up to 40 people who attended the meeting last night spoke on the subject, but not one of them mentioned the fee of €50. Therefore, the issue is not the fee but the service, which if reduced will have a huge impact. Many of the contributors from the floor mentioned children travelling to school who currently have transport, but who, because of the implementation of the value for money review, will not have transport to school for the 2012-2013 school year, while their brother or sister may remain eligible. This issue is causing significant problems.

The proposals are also full of contradictions. With effect from 2011-12, there will be a charge of €50 for each eligible children, but eligible children who hold a medical card will not have to pay the charge. If there are seats available, a child who is not eligible to use the transport, can use it for a fee of €200 per annum. Children on medical cards who are not eligible will also have to pay the €200 if a seat is available for them, but will pay nothing if they are eligible. The proposals are full of contradictions and are causing a huge problem in rural Ireland. I submitted a question on this issue to the previous Minister of State, former Deputy Seán Haughey, and he responded that under the four-year national recovery plan, some €4.5 million in savings would need to be secured in 2011, rising to €17 million in 2014, through a combination of increases in charges and the implementation of measures identified in the value for money review of the school transport scheme.

Is it intended that these measures will be implemented and are we talking about taking €17 million from the school transport scheme? Can the Minister of State provide a guarantee that he will look at this issue in a positive manner that will reassure people? A principal teacher at the meeting last night drew a diagram for us showing the radius of the respective schools and demonstrated that some two thirds of areas within that area were not eligible for transport. This is another problem. We face safety problems, eligibility problems and the 3.2 km problem, yet not one person at the meeting last night mentioned the cost of €50. I thank the Chair for taking this matter on the Adjournment.

I thank Deputy Ferris for raising this matter.

The Deputy refers to the changes in the primary transport scheme announced in budget 2011 by the previous Fianna Fáil-Green Party Government. These changes derive from recommendations in the value for money review of the school transport scheme and relate to the introduction of charges, changes to the "closed school rule" and changes to the minimum numbers required to establish or maintain a service.

I will now give more detailed information on the proposed changes. With effect from the 2011-12 school year, a transport fee of €50 per annum will be introduced for eligible primary school pupils, with a maximum family charge for eligible primary pupils only of €110 per annum. Eligible children who hold a valid medical card are exempt from paying the charge. Evidence suggests that school transport charges compare very favourably with the charges being levied by the private sector. While the charges vary from area to area, some parents are paying between €20 and €25 per child per week, which equates to between €730 and €915 per child per school year at primary level. It is worth noting that the actual cost to the State of providing bus transport per child nationally is approximately €1,020 per annum.

As a consequence of the introduction of charges, parents now have to apply directly to Bus Éireann, which operates the school transport scheme on behalf of the Department, for school transport for their children. The charge is being introduced to ensure that school transport provided for eligible primary pupils is fully utilised in a cost effective manner.

The Deputy will be familiar with the closed school and central school rules for school transport eligibility purposes introduced in the 1960s in circumstances where a primary school or a number of primary schools closed and were amalgamated. No time limit has been applied to the closed school or central school rule. In some cases, the primary school in question was closed up to 40 years ago and amalgamated with another school. In some instances, a newer school has subsequently been built in the general area of the original closed school. Under the current primary school transport scheme, however, the transport provided is to the amalgamated school only, even in circumstances where there is actually a newer school closer to the pupil's home. A pupil in these circumstances is not eligible for free transport to the newer school.

With regard to forward planning policy to meet pupil places annually, the Department of Education and Skills assesses school accommodation needs in each area based on local demographic trends, current and projected enrolments, recent and planned housing developments and the capacity of existing schools to meet demand for places. The closed school rule can operate to distort parental decisions and results in pupils travelling longer distances than necessary were they to go to the nearest school.

The specific changes announced in the closed school rule are as follows. From the commencement of the 2011-12 school year, the distance criteria will be applied to all pupils attending primary schools and the exemption under the closed school rule will cease. This means that children who reside less than 3.2 km from the school of attendance and who are availing of free transport to that school under the closed school rule will no longer be eligible for school transport. From the 2012-13 school year, eligibility based on the closed school rule and the central school rule will cease for all new children entering primary schools. It is, however, important to emphasise that existing primary pupils availing of transport under the closed school rule will retain transport eligibility for the duration of their schooling, provided the requisite distance is met. Moreover, given that the change in question will not come into being until September 2012, all new pupils enrolling this September will be eligible under the closed school rule.

To put this issue fully into context drawing on the report of the value for money review of the school transport scheme, the following facts are relevant. In the 2009-10 school year, transport services under the closed school rule operated to more than 800 primary schools with almost 26,000 children, representing 54.4% of mainstream tickets issued, deemed eligible for school transport under this rule. According to sample studies undertaken for the value for money review estimates, applied nationally, in the majority of cases where such transport has been provided pupils already attend their nearest primary school. While the application of the closed school rule is referred to in these cases, it does not mean that they are not travelling to their nearest school. The transport of such a significant number of children, some of whom would not qualify for transport on the basis of the distance criterion alone, involves a cost.

Regarding the application of the distance rule, Bus Éireann is undertaking a detailed assessment of pupils attending each school concerned. Parents affected will be notified by Bus Éireann of changes to their transport eligibility with effect from the 2011-12 school year.

Families who are no longer eligible for school transport as they reside less than 3.2 km from the school of attendance may apply for concessionary transport, in circumstances where there are spare seats available when all eligible children have been catered for, on payment of the charge of €200.

I will quickly conclude. I want to address some of the points Deputy Martin Ferris raised.

Regarding the minimum numbers required to establish a service — this is particularly pertinent to the points the Deputy was making — the changes mean that services under the minimum numbers — either single services or which are part of double-tripping arrangements — will be discontinued. A pick-up density of pupils in a distinct locality on a particular route — increasing from the current minimum of seven to ten eligible children — will be required to establish or retain services. This brings the minimum numbers required to establish services back to 2002 levels.

Bus Éireann is undertaking a detailed examination of all such services to establish the routes in question and parents or guardians of pupils affected will be notified of changes in due course.

Employment Support Services

I thank the Ceann Comhairle for allowing me to raise this issue. Most Members will be aware of the new Tús scheme that has been announced. It has been welcomed in many communities and we look forward to it being established and introduced. I have previously raised with the Minister and am glad to raise in the House that the eligibility criteria for applicants, especially for the position of supervisor, are excessively restrictive.

I will give some examples. One gentleman, who was unemployed from January 2010 until February 2011, commenced a FÁS course and as a result has now been told he is not eligible. In effect he appears to have been punished for taking on the FÁS course by being excluded from the recruitment process for supervisors for the Tús programme.

I received another query from a woman who was also very interested in the position of supervisor. She is currently signing on but not in receipt of job seeker's allowance. She was means tested resulting in her no longer being eligible for job seeker's allowance. That said, she was still allowed to sign on, keep her records alive and get credits. Officially she is unemployed but technically is not receiving a payment. However, she is ineligible to apply as a supervisor.

Another gentleman who telephoned me was in receipt of job seeker's allowance for approximately 14 months and three weeks ago he was offered a full- time job, which he took. He is not happy there and not certain he wants to stay. He would be very interested in the supervisory position.

I understand the well-intentioned efforts of the Minister and her Department but the reality on the ground is that too many people have been adversely and unfairly affected by the excessively restrictive guidelines attached to this scheme. I respectfully request the Minister to take on board the evidence to date which suggests that a substantial number of eminently qualified and suitable applicants have been excluded from the competition for posts at both supervisory and participatory levels. I am particularly concerned about the effect the excessively prescriptive eligibility criteria will ultimately have on the success of the scheme owing to the negative effect it will have on the quality of the supervisors, who will be very important to the success of the scheme.

I understand that the number of applications for the very important supervisory positions have been below what was anticipated. This substantiates my argument that the Minister should re-examine the eligibility criteria for the positions.

It is extremely difficult for me to explain to a former site manager who worked in the construction sector and has unfortunately now been unemployed for more than 16 months that he is not eligible to apply for the position of supervisor because he undertook a FÁS course to up-skill and improve his prospects of gaining employment. It seems ridiculous that the State would punish anyone for taking the opportunity to improve his or her prospects through FÁS training courses and that this would subsequently be used as grounds to exclude him or her from advertised positions such as those in the Tús programme.

I earnestly ask the Minister to address this anomaly to allow a fuller pool of candidates to apply for the positions advertised under the Tús programme, in particular the supervisory positions.

I thank the Deputy for affording me the opportunity to discuss this matter.

Tús is a community work-placement initiative which will provide up to 5,000 short-term, quality work opportunities for those who have been unemployed for more than a year. The placements will be with community-sector organisations to support the delivery of their services. The Government has allocated €30 million for this initiative in 2011 with full-year costs growing to €100 million in 2012.

The first supervisors have been employed this week. Over the course of the next fortnight, the 100 or so supervisory or team leader posts will be filled and the first 60 or so participants will commence work with local development companies across the country. The criteria applying to recruitment to the supervisor or team leader position and to the selection of participants for work placements are the same. In order to qualify, a person must satisfy the following conditions. He or she must be unemployed and in receipt of a jobseeker's payment for at least 12 months, currently in receipt of jobseeker's allowance — this is the difficulty to which the Deputy refers — and fully unemployed.

As I have said before, this country faces many challenges at present with unemployment presenting a significant and urgent issue. The need has never been greater for innovative thinking and focus on how we can provide opportunities for those who have lost employment. Tús presents one of a range of opportunities to meet the Government's aim of keeping people work ready and, at the same time, providing and supporting valuable support services in the community and voluntary sectors.

The availability of job opportunities, even short-term work placements with some financial incentives, is important. In addition to any financial benefit, we all know the benefits to the individual and his or her family of being involved in work.

The following are some of the key features of Tús. Some 5,000 work placements are being identified in the not-for-profit, community and voluntary sectors. Local development companies have been working to identify quality work placements within suitable organisations across a broad range of services of benefit to communities. Participants will be paid their social welfare entitlements plus an additional €20 per week. Those under 25 years of age will be paid the maximum jobseeker's allowance plus €20 per week. This will make Tús attractive to this age group. Participants will work for 19.5 hours per week with some degree of flexibility in terms of the schedule of hours.

Recruitment to the supervisory or team leader positions with local development companies has been ongoing for some weeks.

These personnel will be in place shortly. The Department has in place arrangements to randomly select participants from the live register who meet the criteria. This selection will be undertaken at local level in co-operation with each of the local development companies.

It is important that we maintain the focus on the long-term unemployed. For this reason, eligibility is at present confined to those on the live register for 12 months and in receipt of the jobseeker's allowance. These provisions are to ensure a targeted approach to those currently affected by long-term unemployment. As with all new initiatives, the operation of the scheme, including the eligibility criteria being applied, will be kept under review and will inform the evaluation process in due course.

I listened to what the Deputy had to say with interest. If we need to extend the scope for the recruitment of supervisors, I will review the matter. The current criteria for the scheme are being addressed by my Department and individuals are interested. When I entered Government, I was very surprised to learn that, although there were 5,000 places in the Tús scheme, which was announced around the time of the budget, and a comparable number of supervisors, not one person had actually been engaged either as a supervisor or as a participant. I have been to Tullamore to meet the local development managers. I have met them here also and am really anxious that we get this scheme up and running. Based on what the Deputy said, I will keep the scheme under review to determine how it is progressing. I appreciate his insights and those of other Deputies.

Job Creation

I thank the Ceann Comhairle for the opportunity to raise this most important issue. A significant employer in Dundalk, Vodafone, has in the past week or so announced significant job losses. At a time when job preservation is a clear priority everywhere, this is a serious blow to the town. Over 100 positions are to be lost because Vodafone is simply moving its operation out of the town to a location somewhere else across the globe where wages are apparently much lower. There will be a serious net loss for the local economy in Dundalk.

Dundalk is a trading town and the retail sector moves north or south depending on where the advantage lies. Consequently, jobs in this segment of the economy are always somewhat vulnerable. The loss of over 100 positions represents a major blow. Many of those employed felt they were in secure, reasonably well-paid employment and that they were in positions that would allow them to plan for the medium and longer term. Finding alternative employment is extremely difficult at this time.

The job losses are a very bad blow for Dundalk and it behoves the Government to focus on the town and County Louth as a whole. It must consider the industrial investment plans for the area and say to the locals that it realises the job losses represent a very severe blow. The town needs a replacement industry or employment opportunity as quickly as possible.

My clear understanding was that the outgoing Government had significant industrial projects in the pipeline for the town. I ask the Minister of State, Deputy John Perry, to elaborate on this and tell us when he expects those projects to be announced for Dundalk.

The local IDA Ireland office in the town is seriously undermanned. Owing to retirements, positions remain unfilled. While it is fine to call for the establishment of task forces, the reality is that the personnel employed in IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland are at the coalface of the efforts to attract foreign direct investment or investment generally to places such as the north east. If these offices are not manned and operating at full tilt, the prospect of industrial announcements and job creation will be somewhat diminished. I exhort the Minister of State to address this matter as quickly as possible with his Department. If the moratorium on recruitment is causing the blockage in the system, it needs to be addressed. We need to introduce flexibility to ensure senior management personnel are in the IDA Ireland and doing their best to ensure investment decisions are acted upon as quickly as possible.

I thank the Deputy for raising this important issue on the Adjournment. Losing a blue-chip company such as Vodafone is a huge blow for the Dundalk region. I am very concerned about the job losses that have occurred in the area and about the impact they have had on the workers concerned, their families and the affected communities.

Job creation is central to our economic recovery, and the programme for Government has job creation at its core. The role of my Department is to ensure that we have the right policies in place that will support and grow our enterprise base in order to facilitate both job creation and job retention. The programmes supported by my Department and its agencies will be critical in achieving economic growth through promoting the export potential of enterprise in Ireland and driving our smart economy. The allocation of €508 million in funding for 2011 will ensure that the core programmes of the enterprise agencies are sustained and targeted in addition to driving investment in research and development. This investment in the enterprise development agencies will drive recovery in the economy by facilitating the winning of foreign direct investments, the growth of indigenous exports and the creation of sustainable jobs.

The State development agencies, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland, as well as Louth County Enterprise Board, will continue to promote Dundalk and the surrounding area for industrial projects and enterprise development. These activities will, in turn, create and protect jobs in the area. I listened very actively to what Deputy Kirk stated about the very disappointing loss of a blue-chip company.

Enterprise Ireland will support job creation through a number of interventions, such as assisting the establishment and growth of high-potential start-up companies and supporting companies to target new opportunities in overseas markets. In 2010, Enterprise Ireland paid €6.4 million to companies in County Louth in the engineering, food, consumer products and ICT sectors. To date in 2011, Enterprise Ireland has paid over €650,000 to client companies in the county. At present, there are 181 Enterprise Ireland client companies in County Louth employing over 4,200 people. The agency has also approved funding for six community enterprise centres in County Louth, under the community enterprise centre scheme, which can be very successful in conjunction with the local partnership companies.

County Louth has the largest concentration of IDA Ireland-supported companies in the north-east region with more than 1,600 people employed in 23 companies. IDA Ireland is actively marketing County Louth for new inward investment, particularly the gateway town of Dundalk in addition to Drogheda. In 2011 to date, there have been 11 site visits to County Louth and the majority of these would have been to the Dundalk area. The region is being targeted by IDA Ireland for new investment in the pharma, clean technologies, globally traded businesses and financial services sectors. IDA Ireland has developed a major land bank at Mullagharlin, to the south of Dundalk. This is particularly targeted at bio-pharma type activities for which the town is being actively marketed. In addition, Finnabair Business Park has in recent years undergone major site development works to bring it up to flagship standard. Two of the buildings on the site are partially occupied, while the third is available for marketing.

Since its inception in 1993 to the end of 2010, Louth County Enterprise Board has issued over €5.2 million in grant assistance to almost 600 clients. There are nearly 900 people employed full time in CEB-assisted companies in County Louth. The board works with other agencies in the area to develop and assist enterprise projects. In this context, an enterprise centre for creative industries will begin construction in Dundalk in June with support from the board, Dundalk District Council, Enterprise Ireland and other funders, at a total cost of €1.52 million. This facility will provide 22 workspace units for new enterprises, in addition to training and communal networking space. From information currently available, Louth County Enterprise Board has approved €172,000 in grant support to date in 2011 for 14 micro-enterprise projects, of which €107,500 was approved for seven projects in the Dundalk area. In addition, the board provides Start Your Own Business training, in which I am very interested, for 150 participants annually, in addition to running business training modules and seminars for small businesses in the county.

The jobs initiative announced on 10 May focuses our limited resources on measures that offer the greatest potential for expansion and employment creation in the domestic economy. It focuses on labour intensive areas that will generate jobs quickly. The intention of the measures announced is to target resources at key sectors of the economy that can assist in getting people back to work, provide opportunities for those who have lost their jobs to re-skill, and build the confidence that will encourage consumers to spend. The initiative represents a very positive intervention to support those entrepreneurs and business people who will create jobs and rebuild the economy.

My colleague, the Minster for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, has announced new initiatives to get lines of credit flowing to business. This is the backbone of the economy. First, a partial loan guarantee scheme will be in operation by the autumn. This measure will be of particular help to the innovative companies we are trying to encourage as part of the growth strategy. For every €400 million guaranteed by the State an additional 4,500 companies can get further credit that will, in turn, create more than 8,000 jobs.

Second, a micro-finance fund will provide funding for small loans to start-up companies. We recognise that many start-up companies lack the small amounts of finance that can be the difference between success and failure. This commitment on a micro-finance fund is the Government's contribution to filling this gap in the availability of enterprise finance in the market.

Third, from 1 July all Government bodies, excluding commercial semi-State bodies, will be required to pay suppliers within 15 days of receipt of a valid invoice. Given that the public sector enters contracts with suppliers worth €15 billion each year, the importance of such a policy becomes clear for all the companies which do business with the State.

The actions to be taken across government will stimulate the economy, facilitate enterprise and encourage job creation, including in County Louth. We very much appreciate the points the Deputy made in this regard.

The Dáil adjourned at 9.15 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday, 1 June 2011.