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 13, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 14 to 37, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 38 to 46, inclusive, answered orally.

Hospital Services

Michael Colreavy

Ceist:

47 Deputy Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for Health and Children the reason cancer services at Sligo General Hospital have not yet been restored; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13458/11]

Sligo General provides a significant range of cancer services. These include surgery for non-melanoma skin cancer and colorectal cancer, and chemotherapy services. Sligo has also been selected as one of the 15 candidate colonoscopy centres for the colorectal cancer screening programme to be launched next year.

Chemotherapy is still provided to all cancer patients in Sligo. I am pleased to confirm that recruitment of a second permanent medical oncologist is in train. For breast cancer patients specifically, there is a specialist breast nurse in place and detailed clinical pathways have been worked out for Sligo patients presenting with post-operative infection or other conditions, so as to minimise the need to travel to Galway.

Breast cancer diagnosis and breast surgery are the only cancer services to have ceased at Sligo General. Since November 2009, women in the Sligo area are provided with breast cancer diagnosis and surgery at Galway. As one of the two designated centres for the HSE West region, Galway has a critical mass of expertise, sufficient throughput of cases and relevant multi-disciplinary specialist skills in cancer services which, as outlined by international evidence, achieve the best outcomes for patients. It is important to note that some 96% of women who attend the Galway unit do not have cancer, and only one visit is normally necessary. For the small number diagnosed with breast cancer, some 85% will require radiotherapy as well as surgery, which would involve treatment in Galway in any event. A survey that was undertaken at Galway last year showed that of those resident in Sligo, 95% described the Galway service as either good or excellent.

I am continuing to explore with the National Cancer Control Programme how services can best be organised for the benefit of patients having regard to my commitment to putting quality at the heart of our healthcare system and to ensuring that quality and optimal care are paramount in decisions about the provision of services throughout the health system. I have recently met with Dr Susan O'Reilly, Director of the National Cancer Control Programme, and I will continue our discussions in this regard. My key concern remains the achievement of the best possible outcomes for patients generally and women in particular.

Robert Troy

Ceist:

48 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health and Children his plans to implement any significant changes in hospital funding methodologies during 2011. [13420/11]

This Government is embarking on a major programme of reform for the health system, the ultimate objective of which is to ensure equal access to healthcare based on need, not income. This objective will be achieved through a single-tier health service supported by universal health insurance.

One of the key elements of the reform programme is financial reform of the acute hospital sector. We have committed to introducing a "Money Follows the Patient" funding system for hospitals, which is more efficient than the current system of block grant allocations. Significant groundwork and careful planning is required in order to prepare the sector for "Money Follows the Patient". However, there are a number of initiatives already underway in 2011 which will help underpin the development of a future "Money Follows the Patient" funding system. These include a project to develop a patient level costing process which involves tracing resources actually used by individual patients from the time of entry and admission to hospital until time of discharge. The HSE is also looking at alternative funding mechanisms for selected elective orthopaedic procedures.

The health reform process is a comprehensive and complex task that requires careful planning and sequencing. The introduction of "Money Follows the Patient" will have to be implemented in a phased manner which takes account of other elements of the reform programme. Of particular significance in this regard are the creation of a Special Delivery Unit to deal with waiting times, and the establishment of HSE hospitals as independent not for profit trusts.

Medical Cards

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

49 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Health and Children the way a person (details supplied) who is suffering from chronic illness and has been in receipt of a medical card for the past four years has been denied a medical card this year despite no increase in the household income; the way it can be the case that on appealing this they have been informed that the appeal could take four or five months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13441/11]

The person (details supplied) was refused a medical card as their means were in excess of the national income guidelines for such cards. However, their means were within the income guidelines for a GP visit card, and a GP visit card was granted. The person appealed the decision not to grant a medical card. During the appeal process the person retained their medical card. The person supplied additional information to the HSE for the appeal process and the result of the appeal was that a medical card was granted on grounds of "undue hardship". The HSE informs me that the length of time an appeal takes can vary for each appeals office. The HSE was unable to provide an average waiting time as this data is not collected.

Child Care Services

Seán Crowe

Ceist:

50 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Health and Children his plans to improve the quality of the preschool year by implementing standards and reviewing training options; if he has an implementation plan for this; and the methodology that will be used to review training options. [9843/11]

The free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme was introduced by this Department in January 2010 and provides a free pre-school year to all eligible children. Already, 94 per cent of children in the year before primary school are participating in the programme. Participating services are required to adhere to the principles of Siolta, the national framework for early learning, and are encouraged to implement Aistear, the national curriculum for children aged from birth to six years.

The ECCE programme also introduced a requirement for Pre-School Leaders to hold an early childhood qualification equivalent to a full FETAC Level 5 award. During the period January 2010 to August 2012, this requirement has been deemed to be met where a Leader holds the four core modules of the full Level 5 award. To assist staff in this category to meet the full requirement in advance of the September 2012 deadline, arrangements have been put in place by the Department to provide a subsidised training initiative over the course of the next 12 months. The accredited course is being delivered on-line and will be available outside of working hours.

A subsidy of €50 per module is being provided which will reduce the cost per module required to €125. Provision has been made for up to 400 students, taking up to 4 modules each, to avail of the training subsidy. The minimum levels of qualifications required under the ECCE programme are expected to increase over time, supported by opportunities for better and more flexible training provision to meet the needs of the existing workforce.

Looking to the longer term, the Workforce Development Plan for the Early Childhood Care and Education sector, published in December 2010 by the Early Years Education Policy Unit of the Department of Education and Skills, sets the scene for the future development of standards and training. It details the existing profile of the ECCE workforce and the qualification held as well as identifying the range of actions which need to be taken to upskill staff to enable them to fully engage with, and implement, the national practice frameworks for early learning of Síolta and Aistear. The Workforce Development Plan is overseen by the Department of Education and Skills and will involve actions by a wide range of agencies including FETAC, HETAC, the universities and education and training providers such as the Vocational Education Committees (VECs) and FÁS.

Since December 2010, the following steps have been taken:

occupational role profiles for the ECCE workforce and associated award levels on the National Framework for Qualifications (NQF), have been agreed;

an extensive review of current FETAC awards offered in this area has been conducted, culminating in the publication in March 2011 of Common Award Standards for Early Childhood Care and Education, at FETAC levels 4, 5, and 6 on the NQF;

work on programme development against the new award standards is at an advanced stage and the first programmes of learning are expected to be available this Autumn, through the VECs and will be validated and monitored by FETAC.

Primary Care Strategy

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

51 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Health and Children the action he will take to recover funds which have been allocated to support primary care teams; and the number of primary care teams that are currently in operation. [13417/11]

The development of Primary Care Teams and Primary Care Centres is a priority under the Programme for Government. The aim is to provide up to 95% of health and social care in local communities. This will be achieved by increasing activity in the primary care setting and redirecting services away from acute hospitals to the community. The Health Service Executive has reported that 366 Primary Care Teams were operating by the end of March 2011 and providing services for over 2.9 million people. The HSE's definition of an operating Team is one which is holding clinical team meetings on individual client cases, where GPs and HSE staff are involved.

These Primary Care Teams are at different stages of development with significant variations in the number of clinical team meetings held, the number of patients discussed and the number of Patient Care Plans agreed. It is a key priority for this Government that all Teams are fully functional. I have met with the HSE on a number of occasions in recent weeks and have asked HSE officials to make significant progress on this issue over the next 12 months. As a first step, the HSE has been asked to identify precisely how many Teams are currently fully operational.

Smoking Ban

Michael Moynihan

Ceist:

52 Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Health and Children the estimates for the public health impact of the implementation of the workplace smoking ban. [13424/11]

Since the introduction of the workplace smoking ban in March 2004, compliance with the legislation has consistently been over 96% indicating the success of this important public health measure. In 2005 the Research Institute for a Tobacco Free Society examined the effect of the workplace ban on environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) exposure in 42 Dublin bars and among 73 bar workers. The study found an 83 percent reduction in air pollution in bars, an 80 percent decrease in airborne carcinogens for patrons and staff, and an improvement in the respiratory health of bar workers.

The self-reported workplace exposure to ETS was over 40 hours per week pre-ban, but dropped to about 25 minutes post-ban, showing a 99 percent decrease in exposure. These results confirm the success of the total ban on smoking in the workplace. Based on this research the European Respiratory Society in Brussels estimated that if all European countries were to adopt a similar policy, between 5 to 10 million premature deaths from smoking could be prevented over the next generation.

A study presented in 2011 on hospital admissions due to acute pulmonary disease found that emergency admissions due to respiratory illness dropped significantly in Ireland after the implementation of the workplace smoking ban. The most significant reduction was in emergency admissions due to cardiopulmonary disease, an illness that affects both the heart and lungs. Admissions among these patients went down by 13 percent after the workplace ban. http://searchtopics.independent.ie/topic/Coloradohttp://searchtopics.independent.ie/topic/COPD This study further emphasises the benefit of reducing exposure to ETS and the extent to which the implementation of the workplace ban improves general health.

Despite these considerable improvements as a result of the workplace ban, I must acknowledge that I am somewhat disappointed that the smoking prevalence rates have not reduced more significantly since the introduction of the ban. My Department is currently undertaking a review of tobacco policy. This review, when completed, will include proposals aimed at further reducing smoking initiation and prevalence rates.

Hospital Services

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

53 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Health and Children when the review being carried out by him into the transfer of services at the Orthopaedic Hospital, Cork, will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13459/11]

I am committed to ensuring that acute hospital services at national, regional and local level are provided in a clinically appropriate and efficient manner. In particular I want to ensure that services are provided safely and in the setting most appropriate to patients' needs. I want to see a health system that is providing a service quickly, efficiently and safely. I have made it clear to the HSE since I became Minister that I expect to be briefed on any plans to withdraw services and pending such briefing I have instructed the HSE not to withdraw services.

I believe we have to be open and transparent in how we approach these matters and in making sure that people are consulted and are aware of what is happening. I also believe there must be strong clinical leadership at the head of the development of hospital networks. In order to fully consider the issues involved, I have recently held discussions with the Health Service Executive including senior clinicians, on the organisation of acute services in the Cork/Kerry network. One of the issues discussed was the possible relocation and expansion of regional orthopaedic services.

I believe that the plan for the acute hospital services in Cork and Kerry has been developed in a inclusive and open manner and will result in improved and increased services for the region as a whole. This will include extra operating capacity and, crucially, the re-establishment of paediatric orthopaedic services in the Cork and Kerry region. There will be extra operating capacity in the network and paediatric orthopaedic surgery will be available again in Cork for the first time since 2008. Children will no longer have to travel to Dublin for these services.

I am awaiting some further clarification on the future role of St Mary's Orthopaedic Hospital. As for all acute services, I believe that we should look at the future of the hospital in the wider context of hospital networks, functioning as part of a coordinated system and, in this case, as a health campus serving the local community.

Sean Fleming

Ceist:

54 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Health and Children the steps he has taken towards the establishment of the special delivery unit aimed at improving access to the emergency and elective care system. [13413/11]

As Minister for Health, I am determined to address the issues which cause unacceptable delays in patients receiving treatment in our hospitals. The Government is committed to establishing a Special Delivery Unit (SDU) to improve access to the emergency and elective care system. Extensive work is currently being undertaken in designing the Unit, which will be modelled, in part, on the successful special delivery unit in Northern Ireland that substantially reduced waiting lists over two to three years.

Constitutional Amendments

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

55 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Health and Children when the proposed referendum on children’s rights will be held. [8369/11]

One of the priorities of the programme for Government is to hold a referendum to amend the Constitution to ensure that children's rights are strengthened, along the lines recommended by the All-Party Oireachtas committee. The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs is currently considering this issue, with the Attorney General, and will bring it to Government in the coming months. A specific date for the Referendum has not yet been agreed.

Health Services

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

56 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will respond to plans by the Health Service Executive to cut an additional €17.59 million across all services in the mid-west region including €5 million in funding for primary care services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13411/11]

The Health Service Executive is not planning to cut funding for the HSE West (Mid West Area) in 2011. The budget for health services in the Mid West Area for this year was allocated in January at €605m and this remains unchanged. What is apparent from the April accounts is that the Mid West Area is overspending by approximately €4m a month for the first four months of this year. While service pressures are highest in the 1st Quarter, it is clear that corrective action is urgently required to address what is potentially a major financial problem.

The core objective in the Mid West Area remains the delivery of the 2011 service plan activity and performance targets. These provide for a similar volume of services to that provided in 2010, but within the budget allocated for this year. A range of cost containment plans and control measures have been prepared by management in order to address the financial challenge. These measures are targeting non front-line service areas in the first instance in order to ensure that services for patients and clients are protected. This includes measures to improve productivity, secure better procurement and value for money and deliver efficiencies under the Croke Park Agreement.

The package of cost containment plans with a value of €17m in the current year includes measures to address areas such as:

Streamlining management structures and functional supports

Streamlining service delivery

Improving day case activity levels

Improving same day admission for services and operating theatre efficiency

Reducing average length of stay

Controlling overtime, agency and on-call costs

Reducing absenteeism

Controlling travel and subsistence costs, legal costs and professional fees

Securing better pricing for non pay items and consumables

Improving income collection

All areas of expenditure and income generation are being examined across the services to ensure that maximum value for money and efficiency is being achieved. Measures that do not have front line service implications are being implemented in the first instance. Measures that have a potential to impact on front line patient or client services will only be considered following a full evaluation and impact assessment and consideration at a national level.

Departmental Reports

David Stanton

Ceist:

57 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children the progress he has made in relation to beginning a health study for the Cork Harbour region; when he expects such a study to be under way; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13407/11]

Sandra McLellan

Ceist:

301 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Health and Children his plans to investigate the relationship between the toxic waste at the former ISPAT site at Haulbowline, County Cork, and general population health in the surrounding area; if he will conduct such an investigation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13263/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 57 and 301 together.

At the outset, I would like provide some details as to what has happened to date in regard to this matter. In 2008, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government commissioned an independent report on the site conditions at Haulbowline. The assessment involved analysis of soil, slag, dust, surface and ground water samples for all likely contaminants to determine if there was a threat to human health or the environment and to assist in securing the site from a health and safety perspective pending the Government's decision as to its future use. The report was published in late 2008 and, based on the monitoring works undertaken, concluded that there were no identified risks to the residential inhabitants of Cork Harbour associated with the presence of waste materials at the East Tip on Haulbowline Island. In the light of this finding, the then Minister for Health and Children confirmed that it was not proposed to conduct a baseline health survey for the Cork Harbour region.

The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government continues to oversee an annual Dust Impact Assessment Report in relation to the Haulbowline site. The 2010 report, published in March 2011, stated that "overall it can be concluded that the site activities on the former Irish Steelworks Site at Haulbowline, Cobh, is having no significant impact on the receiving environment in terms of fugitive dust emissions". I visited Cork on 29 April 2011 and during my visit the matter of the Haulbowline site was raised directly with me. Following on from this, and bearing in mind the extensive nature of the investigations undertaken to date, I have asked the Chief Medical Officer of my Department to advise me if the matter should be investigated further. I expect the Chief Medical Officer's consideration of this matter will be completed within 4-6 weeks.

Suicide Prevention

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

58 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Health and Children his views on whether community engagement through volunteering is an effective way to respond to the problem of suicide; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13279/11]

The evidence base for the use of volunteers in the delivery of services is not extensive. However, there are some reports of instances where the presence of volunteers in health care facilities improves the patient's experience of the facility and their time in it. There is also some evidence that volunteering can have positive health effects, particularly for older people. For my own part, I believe that the great strength of voluntary activity is that it emerges from within our communities and is therefore a unique manifestation of community spirit. It reflects a sense of belonging to the community and a willingness to accept social responsibility.

Reach Out, our National Strategy for Action on Suicide Prevention, recognises that the voluntary sector and community groups have an important role to play across all aspects of suicide prevention, from health promotion to crisis interventions and bereavement support. There are many local groups working in suicide prevention which have been established as a result of a personal or community tragedy. These groups have a significant role to play in bringing enthusiasm and a measure of personal experience to this difficult area.

I am of the view that all local voluntary efforts should be coordinated through professional structures such as the local resource officers for suicide prevention in the HSE, as it is important that these voluntary groups understand the difficulties and potential dangers of working with vulnerable people. The HSE's National Office for Suicide Prevention delivers various training programmes to volunteers and staff of voluntary organisations and community groups working in the area of suicide prevention.

Health Services

David Stanton

Ceist:

59 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health and Children his policy in relation to the treatment of persons with diabetes in particular any proposals he has to improve policy in relation to young children and adolescents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13406/11]

The HSE established a National Clinical Programme for Diabetes within the Clinical Strategy and Programmes Directorate. A clinical lead is in charge of the programme and a multidisciplinary working group, representing a number of nursing and allied health professionals, podiatrists and GPs, as well as the Diabetes Federation of Ireland are working through a number of key projects. The key deliverables for the 2011 programme are the implementation of projects such as Diabetes Retinopathy Screening and a multi-disciplinary foot care package for patients with Diabetes. The HSE has also established a National Clinical Programme for Paediatrics, which will examine in detail the whole area of improved services for children and adolescents and develop solutions to address the issues identified.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Sandra McLellan

Ceist:

60 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Health and Children if his attention has been drawn to delays in respect of audiology referrals at Waterford Regional Hospital with patients waiting for a minimum of three years; if he will furnish details of the numbers of persons on regional waiting lists; and if he will indicate the action he will take to reduce waiting times [13462/11]

The HSE recently published the report of the National Audiology Review Group. The report contains a comprehensive set of recommendations to address the inconsistencies and inadequacies in audiology services. Work is now underway to improve access and deliver high quality, consistent audiology services around the country. In addition to the estimated €11 million exchequer funding available for audiology services annually, this year the HSE is investing an additional €3.7 million to begin the implementation of the recommendations of the Review Group. This will provide for the first phase of a National Newborn Hearing Screening programme, which will commence in Cork later this month, and for the appointment of a number of key posts to lead the development of audiology services nationwide.

In relation to audiology services in the south east, Waterford Regional Hospital is the main unit for referrals in the region. Paediatric third tier screening is provided at Waterford Regional Hospital by an audiological scientist. The service is experiencing some difficulty at the moment due to sick leave. Recruitment of a locum scientist is underway through the regional disabilities office in Cork. The HSE plan to employ additional scientists for the neonatal screening service and to assist with third tier screening waiting lists.

As Minister for Health, I am determined to address the issues which cause unacceptable delays in patients receiving treatment in our hospitals. The Government is committed to establishing a Special Delivery Unit (SDU) to improve access to the emergency and elective care system. The SDU is a Government priority and is one of the commitments from theProgramme for Government 2011-2016 to be achieved within the first 100 days. Extensive work is currently being undertaken in designing the Unit, which will be modelled, in part, on the successful special delivery unit in Northern Ireland that substantially reduced waiting lists over two to three years.

Details in respect of the audiology national waiting lists as of June 2010 are set out below.

National Audiology Waiting NumbersJune 2010

New Referrals Waiting

Reviews

Awaiting Fits

Adult

Total Dublin/Wicklow/Kildare

731

512

189

Total North East Region

389

685

88

Total Western Region

193

188

122

Total Midlands Region

427

185

49

Total Midwest Region

648

2,055

216

Total Northwest Region

221

3,203

243

Total Southeast Region

526

306

207

Total Southern Region

1,221

858

191

Total National Adults

4,356

7,992

1,305

Children

Total Dublin/Wicklow/Kildare

208

215

18

Total North East Region

205

130

6

Total Western Region

1,082

479

6

Total Midlands Region

216

88

3

Total Midwest Region

693

476

0

Total Northwest Region

376

1,195

5

Total Southeast Region

436

360

4

Total Southern Region

1,189

1,169

14

Total National Children

4,405

4,112

56

Children under the age of 4

Total Dublin/Wicklow/Kildare

361

147

8

Total North East Region

532

33

0

Total Western Region

397

217

5

Total Midlands Region

424

81

0

Total Midwest Region

639

177

0

Total Northwest Region

N/A

N/A

N/A

Total Southeast Region

450

124

0

Total Southern Region

0

0

0

Total National Under 4

2,803

779

13

Total Adults Awaiting Appt

13,653

Total Children Awaiting Appt

12,168

Cancer Incidence

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Ceist:

61 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Health and Children the next set of priorities under the national strategy for cancer control. [13415/11]

A Strategy for Cancer Control in Ireland, containing 55 recommendations, was published in 2006 and significant progress has been made in implementing these recommendations. The focus of the Strategy is on the development of a culture of quality, measurement, outcomes, education and research and increased service capacity. The National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) was established by the HSE in 2007 to give effect to the Strategy and is working to ensure that designated cancer centres for individual tumour types have adequate case volumes, expertise and concentration of multi-disciplinary specialist skills to optimise patient outcomes.

The NCCP has made considerable progress in centralising surgical services into the eight designated cancer centres and in the reorganisation and enhancement of services. As well as the centralisation of breast cancer diagnosis and surgery, its reorganisation of lung and prostate cancer diagnosis and surgery is almost complete, including the establishment of Rapid Access Diagnostic Clinics in most cancer centres. In addition, significant progress has been made in the reorganisation of rectal cancer surgery; a National Centre for pancreatic surgery has been established in St Vincent's with a satellite unit in Cork; and brachytherapy for ocular cancer is now in place in St. Luke's Hospital in conjunction with the Royal Victoria Eye & Ear Hospital.

In relation to screening, BreastCheck provides free mammograms to all women aged 50-64. A priority in the Programme for Government is that screening will be extended to cover the age range 65 — 69. CervicalCheck provides free smear tests to women aged 25 to 60 years. The national HPV vaccination programme commenced in May 2010. During 2010 all girls in second year of school and those who entered first year in September were offered HPV vaccination. I recently announced plans for a catch-up programme for girls in secondary school, as also provided for in the Programme for Government. This will result in all unvaccinated girls in the senior cycle of second level schools being offered the HPV vaccine. In addition, preparations for the introduction in 2012 of a national colorectal cancer screening programme are at an advanced stage.

Notwithstanding the achievements above, the further reorganisation of acute cancer services is a work in progress and will continue to be given high priority. Lifestyle choices can reduce the risk factors for many diseases including cancers. This issue spans a number of policy areas across my Department. In this context the Office of the Chief Medical Officer is preparing a framework for Public Health Policy. This initiative will form the basis of our future public health policy and health care programmes. It will promote healthier lifestyles, as well as improving the environment where we live and work. It will also help prevent the emergence of risk factors and reduce chronic diseases and their burden to families and society.

National Drugs Strategy

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

62 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Health and Children in view of responsibility for drugs being transferred from the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs to his Department, if he will outline his strategy for tackling the drugs problem; and the way he will address concerns that the area has been removed from a community development context for the first time in 16 years. [13416/11]

Seán Crowe

Ceist:

84 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will agree to immediately appoint a Minister with sole responsibility for the national drugs strategy in order to show a public commitment to communities across Ireland, that are forced to live on a daily basis with the ongoing drug crisis, that he is determined to stop the widespread proliferation of illegal drugs into communities here. [8363/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 62 and 84 together.

The Government decided to transfer the functions of the former Department for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs in relation to the National Drugs Strategy to the Department for Health with effect from 1 May 2011. The Minister has asked me to take the lead role in this area.

The Government is committed to addressing problem drug use in a comprehensive way, as is clear from the Programme for Government (Government for National Recovery 2011-2016). Our overall strategic objective is to tackle the harm caused to individuals and society by the misuse of drugs through a concerted focus on supply reduction, prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and research. The actions set out in the National Drugs Strategy 2009-2016 facilitate a planned and monitored approach to achieving the overall strategic aims. The implementation of these actions are being pursued vigorously across a range of Departments and Agencies in conjunction with the community and voluntary sectors. Progress will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.

Health Service Contracts

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

63 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children when the contracts between the Health Service Executive and clinical dental technicians will be finalised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13454/11]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) plans to proceed with contracts for services with Clinical Dental Technicians and is due to meet their representative body shortly to discuss any outstanding issues.

Dental Treatment Services

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

64 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will reverse the cutbacks to dental treatment schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13463/11]

Given the current difficult position of the public finances, the budget for the Dental Treatment Services Scheme (DTSS) has been capped at the 2008 level of €63 million. While it is not possible to increase spending on the DTSS, the HSE is working to ensure that patients with special needs, high risk patients and those who have greater clinical needs are prioritised for treatment.

General Practitioner Services

Liam Twomey

Ceist:

65 Deputy Liam Twomey asked the Minister for Health and Children the policies he will be implementing to ensure that there will be enough qualified general practitioners to ensure the smooth roll-out of the primary care policy as announced in the programme for Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13281/11]

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

66 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Health and Children the action he proposes to take to increase the number of general practitioners, GPs; the numbers of GPs in the medical card scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13465/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 65 and 66 together.

There are some 2,600 General Practitioners (GPs) in active practice (full and part time) in the State with another 300 doctors working as locums. On 5th May 2011, the HSE had contracts with 2,276 GPs for the provision of services to medical card and GP visit card patients under the General Medical Services (GMS) Scheme. The Programme for Government provides that during the term of this Government, GP training places will be increased, GPs will be encouraged to defer retirement and GPs will be recruited from abroad. In addition, the EU/IMF programme provides for the elimination of restrictions on the number of GPs qualifying and the removal of restrictions on GPs wishing to treat public patients.

With effect from 1st July 2010, the number of GP training places increased from 120 to 157 per annum. The GP training programme is of four years duration — two years spent in hospital posts and two years in an approved general practice. One of the enabling steps which resulted in the increase to 157 training places was the setting up of an additional GP training programme in Dublin's North Inner City, an area identified by both the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) and the HSE as requiring additional GPs. The HSE is in discussion with the ICGP to identify a fast track mechanism of up-skilling doctors who are not eligible for GMS contracts because they are not fully qualified.

The EU/IMF programme provides for the removal of restrictions on GPs wishing to treat public patients by the end of the 3rd quarter in 2011. The Department is preparing proposals for consideration by the Government in relation to this commitment.

In relation to GP retirement, it is worth noting that GPs who hold a contract or contracts under the GMS Scheme and/or the Maternity and Infant Care Scheme and/or the Primary Childhood Immunisation Programme may from 1st October 2009 continue to hold their contract(s) until their 70th birthday. Similar arrangements also apply to new contract holders. At the end of April 2011, 24 GPs who were due to retire in 2009/2010 and 11 who were due to retire in 2011 had benefited from this extension. It is also intended that additional practice nurses will be employed and will be able to undertake certain work currently carried out by GPs.

All vacant GMS posts are advertised on the HSE website. It is expected that the removal of restrictions on access to GMS contracts will provide an incentive for GPs from abroad to come to practice here. The continued expansion of Primary Care Teams and Primary Care Centres will also assist in attracting GPs.

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

67 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health and Children the time line for abolishing restrictions on general practitioners who wish to obtain general medical service contracts; and when he will introduce legislation reducing the rate of remuneration for GPs. [13412/11]

The EU/IMF programme provides for the introduction of legislative changes to remove restrictions to trade and competition in sheltered sectors by the end of the 3rd quarter in 2011, including removing restrictions on GPs wishing to treat public patients. The Department is preparing proposals for consideration by the Government in relation to this commitment.

During 2009 and 2010, fees payable to certain health professionals were reduced under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009 (FEMPI). In relation to General Practitioners (GPs), S.I. No. 262 of 2009 came into effect on 7th July 2009. This applied an 8% reduction to a range of GP fees and allowances, which resulted in a full year saving in the region of €34 million. S.I. No. 638 of 2010 came into effect on 22nd December 2010. This applied various reductions to a range of GP fees and allowances, which will result in full year saving in the region of €44 million.

Child Care Services

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

68 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Health and Children the way the new child welfare and protection agency promised in the programme for Government will be established; the process involved; and a time line for each of the steps to be undertaken. [13419/11]

The Government is committed to fundamental reform of the delivery of child protection services and in this context a new agency with dedicated responsibility for this service is to be established. Preliminary work has commenced on a range of matters relating to the establishment of the new agency including consideration of the various functions to be discharged, the legal framework necessary to underpin the establishment of the agency and the associated governance and staffing arrangements. Minister Fitzgerald will make a further announcement in this regard at an early date.

Health Service Staff

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

69 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Health and Children the way he proposes to maintain services at St. Columcille’s Hospital, Loughlinstown and at all other health centres in Wicklow and south County Dublin, in view of the proposed redeployment of a number of staff under the Croke Park deal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13442/11]

The HSE recognises that it is of paramount importance that there is no impact on services to patients as a result of the recent redeployment of staff from St. Columcille's Hospital, Loughlinstown and community services. This redeployment is being carried out in line with the agreed health sector redeployment protocol, provided for under Chapter 6 of the Public Service Agreement. This protocol allows for the redeployment of staff, in order to maximise the efficient and effective deployment of resources, while also recognising the rights, entitlements and needs of employees, and ensuring commitment to the development and maintenance of positive working environments. Individuals also have the right to appeal their redeployment.

All areas within the HSE are subject to essential redeployment, with the exception of some agreed key posts. The HSE is committed to the maintenance of front-line, essential services at these locations. To that end, staff which are being redeployed in these locations are those engaged in administrative duties, rather than working in front-line service delivery.

To date, the HSE report that there has been considerable co-operation with the transfer of services and staff. However, it is inevitable that there will be some issues that will need to be further reviewed and managed, within the community and hospital setting. At this juncture, it is not possible for the HSE to determine the overall impact, until all redeployments and appeals have been completed but HSE management will continue to work with staff throughout this exercise.

Hospital Services

Robert Troy

Ceist:

70 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health and Children if he has given any instructions to the Health Service Executive regarding the retention of any acute hospital service in any part of the country. [13421/11]

I am committed to ensuring that acute hospital services at national, regional and local level are provided in a clinically appropriate and efficient manner. In particular I want to ensure that as many services as possible can be provided safely in smaller, local hospitals. We need to ensure the most appropriate organisation of acute services in each region. I believe that the clinical programmes being developed by the HSE are vital in this regard. These inter-related programmes aim to improve service quality, effectiveness and patient access and to ensure that patient care is provided in the service setting most appropriate to individuals' needs.

In addition, in order to address the issues which are causing unacceptable delays in patients receiving treatment in our hospitals, I am prioritising the establishment of a Special Delivery Unit as promised in theProgramme for Government 2011-2016. Extensive work is currently being undertaken by my Department in designing this Unit, based on a similar initiative in Northern Ireland which substantially reduced waiting lists over two to three years.

I made it clear that I expect to be briefed by the HSE where there are any proposals to withdraw services from individual hospitals. The Secretary General of my Department has written to the CEO of the HSE asking him to make the necessary arrangements and briefings are in train from senior management in the HSE. I have also made it clear that patient safety must be the overriding priority. I want patients to be treated at the lowest level of complexity that is safe, timely, efficient and as near to home as possible. These are the factors which will inform our future decisions on the provision of acute hospital services.

Medical Cards

Dessie Ellis

Ceist:

71 Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Health and Children if he and/or the Health Service Executive has sought to ascertain the extent to which charges are being levied inappropriately on medical card patients by general practitioners, for example, for blood tests; the action he proposes to take to eliminate this practice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13456/11]

Under the General Medical Services (GMS) contract, a general practitioner (GP) is expected to provide his/her patients who hold medical cards or GP visit cards with all proper and necessary treatment of a kind generally undertaken by a GP. Where blood tests form part of the investigation and necessary treatment of patients' symptoms or conditions, these should be provided free of charge to medical card and GP visit card holders. The HSE also points out that, in many GP surgeries, it is the practice nurse who takes blood samples. The HSE significantly subsidises the cost of employing practice nurses.

I would be most concerned if it were to emerge that GMS patients are being charged inappropriately by GP contractors. If the HSE is made aware of specific cases where GMS patients are being charged by GP contractors, it will arrange to have such cases investigated as appropriate. A report has been requested from the Primary Care Unit Managers in the HSE on the extent of complaints received and the status of same.

Health Service Staff

Clare Daly

Ceist:

72 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of staff employed in the Health Service Executive; the way that compares with the numbers employed in March 2008 before the moratorium on recruitment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13409/11]

Employment Control Frameworks (ECFs) have been used for a number of years in the health sector to control numbers employed in line with Government policy. The current ECF provides for the moratorium on recruitment (introduced in March 2009) in order to achieve the reduction targets specified in the frameworks. However, it also provides for targeted growth in a number of specified grades to allow key front line services to be maintained, insofar as possible, and to support the development of services in relation to disability, mental health, cancer and child care. These exemptions are subject to certain conditions being met by the HSE and employers concerned.

The table sets out the numbers employed in the public health service before and after the introduction of the moratorium on recruitment in March 2009.

Numbers employed in the public health service

Date

Total WTE excl. career break

31/03/2008

110,297

31/12/2008

111,025

31/03/2009

111,770

31/12/2009

109,753

31/12/2010

107,972

30/04/2011 (latest available data)

105,595

Hospital Services

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

73 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the extent to which adequate nursing and medical staff is available throughout the public and private hospital sectors; the extent to which the facilities in either sector are currently in abeyance or for whatever reason not functioning; if closure of wards or beds particularly affects the public and private sector to a lesser or greater extent; the action he will take to address issues arising; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13402/11]

The National Service Plan 2011 commits the HSE, within the limits of its Voted allocation of €13.456bn, to delivering activity levels for 2011 which are broadly in line with 2010 levels. This is being facilitated by the continued pursuit of improved efficiency in the way acute hospital services are delivered. In particular, the focus is on reducing inpatient care activity levels through the provision of more appropriate service responses, delivering a shift to care on a day case basis where appropriate, and on performance improvements such as surgery on the day of admission and reducing inappropriate lengths of stay. Specific targets under these headings are included in the HSE's 2011 National Service Plan.

In order to maintain tight control on the cost of providing public services while protecting front-line services as far as possible, the 2011-2014 Employment Control Framework for the health sector is designed to reduce the numbers of management and administrative staff and non-frontline staff employed. The Framework obliges the HSE to achieve specified annual reductions in numbers.

The Framework also allows the redeployment of staff from the Hospital and HSE Corporate settings to the Primary Community and Continuing Care settings, to facilitate the development of integrated health care. However in this context the Framework allows for the targeted growth of certain grades which are exempt from the moratorium on recruitment (including Medical Consultants, Physiotherapists and Advanced Nurse Practitioner/Clinical Nurse Specialists). It also provides for the filling of non-exempted posts on exceptional grounds in order to maintain essential services and to meet priority service change/reorganisation requirements.

The information I have provided to the Deputy refers only to the public health system. My Department does not have a role to play in relation to staffing levels in the private sector; therefore I am not in a position to comment on private hospital staffing levels or services in this regard.

North-South Ministerial Council

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Ceist:

74 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Health and Children when he will meet his counterpart in the Six Counties to address the potential for greater all-Ireland co-operation in health care; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13460/11]

Both Health Ministers meet under the auspices of the North-South Ministerial Council. I plan to attend the next North-South Ministerial Council Plenary meeting scheduled for 10 June. A North-South Ministerial Council health sectoral meeting will be scheduled for the coming months. This will provide a specific opportunity to review existing arrangements for co-operation in health and explore areas for collaboration where mutual benefit for both populations is demonstrated.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

75 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will take immediate action to address the 12 to 18 month waiting lost for endoscopy at Crumlin children’s hospital, Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13455/11]

A statement on the issue of waiting times for endoscopies was issued by Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin on 24 May 2011. A copy of this statement was forwarded to my office on the same day. There has been a very significant increase nationally in the number of children presenting to Crumlin Hospital with possible bowel diseases which has led to an increased demand for diagnostic endoscopies.

The hospital has provided extra theatre time to consultants to carry out additional endoscopies in 2010 and 2011. Despite extra theatre time being made available, there remains a challenge to keep pace with growing demand for these procedures. In order to address this challenge, the hospital is taking a number of further steps. The Clinical Director for the three Dublin children's hospitals has been working to identify opportunities available over the three sites to improve capacity for endoscopies.

Crumlin Children's Hospital is also making use of the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) to address the waiting time issue. In 2010, the hospital referred 45 patients for endoscopies to the NTPF. This year, to date, the hospital has referred a further 40 patients to NTPF. The hospital is currently carrying out a validation exercise in relation to waiting lists for endoscopies. The Clinical Director and senior hospital management are actively working with the Gastroenterology Service in Crumlin in relation to the waiting list process for endoscopies. I have been assured by the hospital that all patients are assessed and prioritised on the basis of their clinical needs.

Health Insurance

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

76 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Health and Children if he has commissioned any external studies regarding the implementation of universal health insurance. [13423/11]

This Government is embarking on a major reform programme for the health system, the ultimate objective of which is to ensure equal access to healthcare based on need, not income. This objective will be achieved through a single-tier health service supported by universal health insurance. The health reform process is a comprehensive and complex task that requires careful planning and sequencing. I have not commissioned an external study regarding the implementation of universal health insurance. Rather, officials in my Department are currently giving careful consideration to the reform programme with a view to developing implementation proposals.

As part of this process my officials organised a seminar on Universal Health Insurance which was attended by experts from the Dutch Health Ministry, the World Health Organisation and the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies. Furthermore, next month, my officials will be undertaking a study visit to the Netherlands to examine in more detail the Dutch health reform programme. A similar visit to Germany is also in the process of being arranged. Such seminars and visits provide an important opportunity for my officials to understand the achievements and learnings associated with the Dutch health reforms as well as considering international best practice in healthcare reform.

It is envisaged that there will be ongoing examination of the experience of health reform in a range of countries. It is worth noting however, that this Government's reform implementation proposals will be designed to fit the Irish system and to obtain the best outcomes for Irish patients.

Constitutional Amendments

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

77 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Health and Children if he remains committed to the time line provided in an interview on a programme (details supplied) during a recent visit to County Donegal of holding the children’s referendum within the next 12 months. [13418/11]

One of the priorities of the programme for Government is to hold a referendum to amend the Constitution to ensure that children's rights are strengthened, along the lines recommended by the All-Party Oireachtas committee. The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs is currently considering this issue, with the Attorney General, and will bring it to Government in the coming months. A specific date for the Referendum has not yet been agreed.

Public Sector Pay

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

78 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will reverse the pay cut, imposed without consultation or agreement, on fourth year undergraduate nurses and midwives undertaking the rostered clinical placement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13453/11]

I have approved a review of the decision to abolish payments to student nurses during their 4th year pre-registration rostered placement. The nursing unions have been invited to contribute to the review process. My Department has advised the unions that submissions will be accepted up to the 3rd June, 2011.

Health Service Staff

Sean Fleming

Ceist:

79 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Health and Children when he expects the Health Service Executive to complete an investigation into the way an unregistered nurse was able to continue practising at Letterkenny Hospital, County Donegal; and if it has been confirmed to him that no other such cases exist around the country. [13414/11]

The HSE has appointed two independent experts, both with many years experience in nursing practice, to carry out a review into this matter. The investigation commenced on the 5th of May and it is anticipated that it will be complete, at the latest, by the 1st August.

The responsibility to register with An Bord Altranais is a matter for each individual nurse as a member of the nursing profession. In addition, each practising nurse is required to renew their registration with An Bord Altranais on an annual basis. The review will seek to establish why the necessary processes and checks, in keeping with HSE policy, did not identify that this individual's registration had lapsed. Since becoming aware of this issue the HSE has checked, and is satisfied, that all nurses working in other Sexual Assault Treatment Units around the country are actively registered.

In addition, an extensive check across all HSE services is underway to provide an assurance that nurses who have been removed from the register, maintained by An Bord Altranais, are not practising within the HSE. As a result, a very small number of cases across the country were identified where registrations had lapsed for varying degrees of time; all of the nurses are now back on the register. The matter of more expediently identifying and dealing with these cases, as they arise, is currently being addressed.

Medical Cards

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

80 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of civil and public servants who have a general practitioner visit card; the number of civil and public servants who have a medical card; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9666/11]

Applicants for a medical card or a general practitioner visit card are not required to provide a description of their occupation. The information sought by the Deputy cannot be provided as it is not collected from medical card applicants.

Nursing Homes Support Scheme

Clare Daly

Ceist:

81 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health and Children with regard to the fair deal scheme, if he will provide the exact amount paid out by the Health Service Executive to private nursing homes since the beginning of the scheme; the exact amount received from elderly persons in receipt of the State aid in the same period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13408/11]

The HSE has paid over €740 million to private nursing homes between October 2009 and April 2011. This includes payments in respect of contract beds and subvention. In addition, private nursing home residents who are in receipt of financial support under the Nursing Homes Support Scheme pay their contribution to the cost of care directly to the private nursing home. During the same period, the HSE has taken in over €96 million in resident contributions from individuals in public nursing homes.

Accident and Emergency Services

Liam Twomey

Ceist:

82 Deputy Liam Twomey asked the Minister for Health and Children if accurate figures are available to him regarding the extent of emergencies such as trauma and medical emergencies; the way that this is impacting on planning for the future of the ambulance services and resourcing accident and emergency departments here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13280/11]

Emergency departments are the front line for our health services and have a higher public awareness profile than virtually any other service. Almost 1.2 million individual emergency presentations were made to acute hospitals during 2010, with almost 370,000 emergency admissions recorded.

While the numbers presenting to emergency departments in 2010 were broadly the same as 2009, overall hospital activity has grown significantly in the past four years, in line with policy objectives. This places particular pressure on admissions through the traditional route of the emergency department. There has been:

an increase of over 30% in day cases (up by 169,000 since 2006 and by 52,000 in 2010), which now outnumber inpatient discharges;

a 28% increase in outpatient attendances anticipated by year end (by 760,000 since 2006 and by 162,000 in 2010), at a time when bed capacity and staffing is contracting because of the financial environment and staff moratoriums.

a relatively constant level of inpatient discharges over this period (-0.59%).

a reduction in average length of stay from 6.4 days to 6.1 days.

In addition, preliminary data on activity to the end of April 2011 highlights the following when compared with the same period in 2010:

an increase of 1.5% in ED presentations (+5614)

an increase of 3.7% in emergency admissions (+4535)

an increase of 1.1% in inpatient discharges (+2053)

an increase of 2.6% in day case rates (+6226).

The HSE has undertaken a range of actions since 2006 to deal with emergency department issues. The approach and actions have been informed by a range of national and international reports and literature, much of which aligns on key messages, including surge protocols and the need to adopt a whole system approach, with a specific focus on:

internal hospital processes and factors that can influence bed occupancy/utilisation and length of stay

the capacity of primary and community services to respond and avoid unnecessary admissions to acute care and to facilitate earlier discharges

the need to prevent and manage chronic illness to reduce demand on the acute setting.

Trauma and medical emergency figures are available to the National Ambulance Service through its command and control systems. Utilising this and other data, the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council published a recent Spatial Analysis Report of the country. These types of data and reports are considered by the National Ambulance Service in the planning, allocation and deployment of pre-hospital emergency care resources.

Outturn 2010

Target 2011

Target YTD

January

February

March

April

Actual YTD

% Var YTD Actual v Target

Same Period Last Year

% Var YTD v YTD last year

Emergency Presentations National Total

1,178,523

1,199,900

288,928

95,727

90,355

103,703

100,315

289,785

0.3%

283,724

2.1%

ED Attendances National Total

1,181,198

N/A

N/A

90,062

85,350

97,753

94,754

273,165

N/A

266,074

2.7%

Emergency Admissions National Total

369,031

361,400

90,788

31,958

29,762

33,083

31,555

94,803

4.4%

91,439

3.7%

Care of the Elderly

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

83 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health and Children the total number of beds available in public and private nursing homes for persons in need of ongoing long-term or respite care; the extent to which such places are fully occupied; the number of beds and/or wards closed or unoccupied for whatever reason in both sectors; the degree to which the inadequacies of the fair care scheme affect the situation; his plans to address these issues with particular reference to a review of the fair care scheme so as to provide for a more equitable and accessible system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13401/11]

It is estimated that the total number of private/voluntary beds at present is 20,500 (Source: Nursing Homes Ireland Annual Private Nursing Home Survey 2009/2010), of which approximately 19,500 are long-stay beds. The Survey also reports that average occupancy in 2009/2010 in private nursing homes was 86.4%. Occupancy levels in public units average 95%. The 95% occupancy level in the public units amount to almost full capacity as at all times a number of beds are empty due to turnover, i.e. when a resident vacates a bed there is time involved in readying the room for the next occupant etc., and other beds are closed due to maintenance works etc. The HSE Register of Public Residential Care Beds states that, at end-March, there were 359 beds temporarily closed.

A fundamental principle enshrined in the Nursing Homes Support Scheme is that of patient choice. Once a person receives approval for financial support, they can choose to enter any nursing home that is participating in the scheme in any part of the country, subject to the nursing home having an available bed and being able to cater for the person's particular needs. This applies to public, private and voluntary nursing homes alike. Therefore, the scheme is considerably more equitable and accessible than the system it replaced.

A full examination of the funding for the Nursing Homes Support Scheme is under way, conducted jointly by the Department of Health and the HSE. This examination is to be completed by Friday June 3rd, 2011. In the meantime, applications for financial support under the scheme will continue to be accepted and processed. However decisions to grant approval will be subject to the availability of funding.

Question No. 84 answered with Question No. 62.

Ministerial Staff

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

85 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Taoiseach the names of the special advisers appointed to his office since 9 March 2011; their specific role and the level of salary they will be earning. [13394/11]

There are five Special Advisers appointed in my Department, four of whom are my Special Advisers and one of whom is Special Adviser to the Government Chief Whip. In general, the primary function of Special Advisers is to help achieve the Government's objectives and secure the implementation of the Programme for Government. My Special Advisers are tasked with giving me advice and keeping me informed on a wide range of issues, as well as performing such other functions as may be directed by me from time to time.

My Chief of Staff Mark Kennelly, among his other duties, will work closely with the Northern Ireland Division of my Department to ensure that I am full briefed on all developments. The salary of the Adviser to the Government Chief Whip, Mark O'Doherty, is currently being finalised. The salary levels of my Advisers are as follows:

Salary

Mark Kennelly

168,000

Andrew McDowell

168,000

Paul O’Brien

80,051

Angela Flanagan

80,051

Irish Communities Abroad

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

86 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the steps he will take to help the undocumented Irish in the USA; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13283/11]

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

87 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the discussions he has had to date regarding the undocumented Irish in the United State of America; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13367/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 86 and 87 together.

Addressing the situation of the undocumented Irish and reforming our migration arrangements with the United States are important priorities for the Government in its relationship with the US Administration and Congress. The Taoiseach and I discussed the question of Irish immigration with President Obama when we met with him on 23 May in Dublin. Responding to our concerns, the President expressed his interest in achieving progress on immigration issues.

I also discussed the issue of Irish immigration with Secretary of State Clinton during our meeting on 18 March and with the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform and the Coalition of Irish Centres in New York on 16 March. The Taoiseach raised the issue of the undocumented and the potential for the continued development of Ireland's migration arrangements with the US with President Obama during his St Patrick's Day visit to Washington. The Taoiseach also met with the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform on 5 May when in New York.

I am encouraged by President Obama's continued commitment to addressing the question of immigration reform. Speaking on 10 May, the President, in an address dedicated to the issue of immigration, reiterated his call for comprehensive reform of the system, and particularly called for the passage of the DREAM Act. Under the DREAM Act qualifying undocumented young people seeking to go to college or join the US military, and who were brought illegally to the US as children, would be eligible to seek regularisation of their status. The re-introduction of the DREAM Act to Congress on 11 May is a welcome development and can be seen as an initial step in the process.

I am very aware of the difficult situation facing those who are undocumented and living in the USA, as well as the distress caused to families in both Ireland and the US. The most realistic long term solution for our undocumented citizens remains through comprehensive immigration reform.

The inclusion of Ireland in an amended reciprocal E3 visa scheme, which would allow Irish people with a certain level of education to work in the US on a two year renewable visa, is the most effective way of creating new opportunities for Irish citizens in the USA. The introduction of such a scheme, which has attracted support from a number of members of Congress from both parties, will require the passage of legislation in Congress. The successful passage of E3 visa legislation would strengthen the human bridge between the two countries, which underpins our excellent existing bilateral relations, and provide a mechanism for Irish nationals seeking to work in the USA in the future. It is the case, however, that the E3 would not provide a solution to the undocumented Irish in the US.

I am very aware of the enormous political challenges that face efforts to pass any immigration related legislation at the current time, including the E3 proposal. These difficulties were clearly demonstrated by the failure of efforts to pass the limited DREAM Bill at the end of 2010 — a measure that had enjoyed strong public and political support. My Department, and the Embassy in Washington in particular, will continue to work very actively on the issue with the US Administration, Congressional leaders and Irish immigration reform advocates.

Ministerial Staff

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

88 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the names of the special advisers appointed to his office since 9 March 2011; their specific role and the level of salary they will be earning. [13390/11]

The approval of the Minister for Finance for the following appointments has been requested by my Department:

Name

Title

Salary Scale

Mark Garrett

Special Advisor

Details awaited from Department of Finance

Jean O’Mahony

Special Advisor

Principal Officer Standard Scale €80,051- €98,424 per annum.

Colm O’Reardon

Special Advisor

Details awaited from Department of Finance

Special Advisers are appointed under the terms of Section 11 of the Public Service Management Act, 1997 and are required to perform any duties that may be assigned to them from time-to-time by the relevant Minister as appropriate to the positions they hold. Those duties include providing advice as well as monitoring, facilitating and securing the achievement of Government objectives relating to the Department concerned.

Passport Applications

Michelle Mulherin

Ceist:

89 Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of passports issued from the Passport Office each year for the past five years; the staffing levels and average waiting times for each year; the amount of ordinary fees paid for passports by applicants and the amount of additional fees paid for the express service in respect of each year. [13397/11]

A breakdown of passports issued and total passport income is appended for the years 2007-2010 and 2011 year to date. Demand for passport services is highly seasonal, with almost 50% of applications being received in the four months April-July each year. Incentives aimed at spreading demand more evenly throughout the year have proven unsuccessful and each year the Department employs temporary clerical staff (TCOs) to help the Passport Office meet the exigencies of the service.

The Passport Offices in Molesworth Street, Balbriggan and Cork are currently staffed approximately as follows (based onfull-time equivalents ): 1 Principal Officer; 3 Assistant Principal Officers; 12 Higher Executive Officers; 49 Executive Officers/Staff Officers; 246 Clerical Officers; 6 Services Officers and 85 TCOs. The number of sanctioned posts has remained static since an additional 127 permanent posts were sanctioned by the Department of Finance in July 2006. However, the actual number of staff varies considerably depending on the time of year.

Additional fees for the express service are paid directly to An Post, for services provided by that company, and accordingly information in respect of these fees is not held by the Department. However, I have appended information in respect of the total number of applications received through the passport express service.

The average time to process a passport submitted through the Passport Express and Northern Ireland Passport Express services available through the post offices is ten days. It takes on average four — six weeks to process all other applications. During the peak summer period, application processing times for this service can lengthen. In such circumstances, priority continues to be given to applications made through the Passport Express Service.

Due to a surge in demand, the turnaround time for passport express applications received through the Passport Express system is currently running between 11 and 13 working days and the processing period for ordinary post applications is currently six weeks or longer. This contrasts with the situation in 2010 when, as a result of industrial action, it proved necessary to withdraw all guarantees for passport express applications.

Year

Passports Issued

Passport Express Applications

Passport Income

Temporary Staff

2007

601,000

345,021

30,544,000

147 from January

2008

576,617

324,870

29,721,000

88 from February

2009

572,783

315,013

31,872,000

39 from June

2010

603,753

353,790

33,122,000

52 from June

2011 to 20 May

233,379

171,828

14,899,000

85 from March

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

90 Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs with regard to the recent increase in waiting times for passport applications, the number of passport printing machines currently operating here; his plans to improve resources within his Department to reduce the lengthening waiting times for applicants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13542/11]

Due to a surge in demand, the turnaround time for passport express applications received through the Passport Express system is currently running between 11 and 13 working days. It normally takes 10 working days. During the peak summer period, application processing times for this service can lengthen and the processing period for ordinary post applications is currently six weeks or longer. Passport demand in general is currently running at a level 13% higher than the same period in earlier years. At present the Passport Service is receiving an average of 4,260 applications per day. This is an unprecedented level of demand, with the number of applications received from Irish residents alone in four recent days at over 5,200, exceeding by 700 the highest number previously for any one single day.

The Passport Service, through seasonal overtime and the additional output provided by recruited temporary staff, is working to bring processing times back to normal levels at the earliest opportunity. Last year the Molesworth Street passport production line was destroyed as a result of a water leak from the offices of another occupant of the building. The Passport Service is now operating with two production lines out of the primary site based in Balbriggan. The machines located in Balbriggan are capable of fulfilling current demand but the absence of a production facility in Molesworth St. can delay the turnaround time for urgent applications made to the Dublin office. It is expected that the replacement machine in Molesworth Street will be operational later in the Summer.

EU Enlargement

Michael Creed

Ceist:

91 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs his views on European Union enlargement; his further views on the current state of negotiations regarding Turkey’s membership of the European Union and the progress if any on the normalisation of bilateral relations between Turkey and the republic of Cyprus; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13577/11]

Our approach to EU enlargement is positive. Expanding the Union encourages a more prosperous and stable Europe and the process itself is equally beneficial to candidate countries in inspiring them to achieve economic and political reforms and to strengthen their democratic values.

Respect for these norms as set out in the Treaties, the adoption of a European perspective which those values reflect, strict adherence to membership conditions, and the capacity of the EU itself to integrate the new member are all important factors in assessing the pace and progress of an applicant's accession. It follows that the exact timing of completion of that process is variable and dependent on the candidate meeting in full the benchmarks demanded in the negotiation phase.

These factors underpin this Government's supportive approach to Turkey as an EU candidate. Accession may follow once that country fulfils the established membership criteria and provided that EU member States and the European Commission are satisfied that all the conditions have been met. There are, moreover, potential gains to be had from increasing the size of the single market and for trade opportunities which can flow from Turkish accession; that country is a significant economic and political regional power and the Union's reach and influence in the Middle East and Central Asia could be thereby enhanced.

However, the pace of progress in the negotiations to date has been slow, due to a number of factors. Only 13 of the 35 chapters that comprise the accession dossier have been opened; no chapter is currently under negotiation, and there continue to be significant obstacles to progress. Turkey's failure to implement the Ankara Protocol, under which it would open ports and airports to traffic from Cyprus, and to normalise relations with Cyprus is, as the Deputy, mentions, a serious concern. We are supportive of the UN-sponsored negotiations which are attempting to establish a fair, comprehensive and viable settlement but see no real advance in accession likely while this matter is unresolved.

Turkish internal reforms, which are required under the accession process, are happening, albeit more slowly of late due to upcoming parliamentary elections. However, I remain confident that the prospect of accession will continue to stimulate fundamental reform, to strengthen democracy and human rights, and to provoke further modernisation in that society.

Consular Services

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

Ceist:

92 Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the position regarding the detention abroad of an Irish citizen (details supplied). [13594/11]

As the Deputy may be aware, our Embassy in New Delhi, which covers Sri Lanka, was notified in September 2007 that the person mentioned by him had been arrested on arrival at Colombo Airport, "under suspicion for involvement in terrorist activities" under order from the Ministry of Defence of Sri Lanka. I am informed that to date the person concerned has not been formally charged and the Sri Lankan authorities have indicated that the investigations into his activities are active and ongoing.

As mentioned in the Deputy's correspondence, my Department, through our Embassy in New Delhi and our Consular Assistance Section has provided and continues to provide extensive consular assistance to the person concerned and to his family here in Ireland. Our current and our previous Ambassador in New Delhi and our Honorary Consul in Sri Lanka have visited him in prison on numerous occasions and continue to raise his case at the highest level with the authorities there. The Honorary Consul, in fact, visited him in prison on our behalf as late as last Thursday the 26th.

I can assure the Deputy that my Department continues to call for him to be brought to trial or released as soon as possible and we maintain a high level of interest and involvement in his case. I can confirm to the Deputy that my officials remain in close and direct contact with the wife and family of the person mentioned by him and they liaise directly with her on any request for assistance or on any development on his case.

Passport Applications

John O'Mahony

Ceist:

93 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs his plans to open a passport office in the west of Ireland; if any reports have been commissioned on this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13646/11]

The Passport Service provides a comprehensive range of options for citizens to apply for passports. In addition to the public counter service in Dublin and Cork applications may be made by express post through some 1,000 post offices across the country, including in over 60 in the Deputy's county of Mayo. Given the current financial pressures on my Department, I have no plans to open additional regional passport offices at this time.

John O'Mahony

Ceist:

94 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the number of passport applications received and granted to persons living in counties Mayo, Galway, Roscommon, Sligo and Leitrim in 2009, 2010 and to date in 2011 in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13647/11]

The Passport Service database records and collates data on applicants by place of birth rather than place of residence. In many cases this information is incomplete or inaccurate e.g. applicants may specify place of birth as Ireland rather than their county of birth. It is therefore not possible to provide the information sought by the Deputy.

Waiver Applications

Billy Timmins

Ceist:

95 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding an application for a waiver which was received in the Chief State Solicitor’s Office approximately a year ago in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; if this can be dealt with as a matter of urgency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13256/11]

The Office of Public Works advises that this application for a waiver is currently being processed by the Chief State Solicitor's Office as a matter of priority.

Departmental Reports

Sandra McLellan

Ceist:

96 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Finance the specific date on which the report from the Office of Public Works chaired working group regarding the former ISPAT site at Haulbowline will be published; when this report will be made public; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13261/11]

The Working Group looking at the future use of Haulbowline, County Cork, has concluded its deliberations. The final report has been forwarded for submission to Government. It will be a matter for Government to decide whether to publish this report.

Illicit Trade in Tobacco

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

97 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Finance his views on the Europol report on criminal activity in the European Union which describes Ireland as one of the preferred destinations for cigarette smuggling because of its high taxes on tobacco. [13300/11]

The Europol EU Organised Crime Threat Assessment (OCTA 2011) reported that preferred destinations for cigarette smuggling within the EU are countries with comparatively high taxes on tobacco such as the Scandinavian countries, Germany, Spain, the UK and Ireland. It has been the policy of successive governments to maintain comparatively high excise rates and thereby high prices for cigarettes as part of the national health policy on cigarette smoking. However, the level of cigarette smuggling in a given country is influenced by a variety of factors, of which price is only one. These factors also include geographical location, population demographics, the level of cross border trade, price differential with neighbouring countries and general accessibility by air, sea, road and rail.

I am informed that the Revenue Commissioners, who are responsible for the collection of tobacco products tax, have deemed the tackling of the illicit trade in cigarettes and tobacco products to be a high priority area. The strategy employed by Revenue to tackle this illicit trade is multi-faceted. It includes ongoing analysis of the nature and extent of the problem, developing and sharing intelligence on a national, EU and international basis, ongoing review of operational policies, development of analytics and deployment of detection technologies, optimum deployment of resources at point of importation and internally to intercept the contraband product and to prosecute those involved.

Interception at the point of importation is achieved through a combination of risk analysis, profiling, intelligence, and the screening of cargo, vehicles, baggage and postal packages. Revenue enforcement officers also target this illicit trade at the post-importation level by carrying out intelligence-based operations and random checks at retail outlets, markets and private and commercial premises. Revenue and An Garda Síochána also carry out regular multi-agency operations, particularly in relation to large maritime importations and in checks at inland markets.

Revenue enforcement officers are deployed at all key ports and airports. Personnel deployed at these locations are regularly supported by additional staff from other areas when specific operations are taking place. Interception at the point of importation is achieved through a combination of risk analysis, profiling, intelligence, and the screening of cargo, vehicles, baggage and postal packages.

In July of last year Revenue launched a nationwide tobacco operation, which concentrated additional Revenue resources at ports, airports and at various retail points for the purpose of identifying illicit tobacco products. This resulted in 561 seizures totalling 13.7m cigarettes and 195 kgs tobacco in the course of the two-week period of the operation. Two subsequent 3-day operations during 2010 resulted in the seizure of over 1.76m cigarettes and 175 kgs of tobacco. In two similar operations carried out in 2011, a total of 580 seizures were made, comprising 7.4m cigarettes and 167kgs tobacco.

The Revenue Commissioners have established a high level internal group, chaired at Commissioner level, to examine the risks related to tobacco products tax and to oversee and optimise the detection of counterfeit and contraband tobacco products. This group has promoted a number of initiatives aimed at counteracting the illicit trade in tobacco. These include adoption of a comprehensive tobacco strategy and action plan, improved profiling of passengers and freight to identify tobacco smugglers and the establishment of a confidential tobacco hotline via which members of the public and the retail trade may report illicit trade. It also co-ordinates national blitz-style operations.

In terms of detection equipment, a second mobile X-ray container scanner, to augment the one first deployed in 2006, was commissioned by Revenue in January 2010 and is now fully operational. Smaller baggage/parcel scanners are deployed at all major ports, airports and postal depots. In addition to the x-ray equipment, Revenue also uses a tobacco detection dog. This strategy has resulted in the seizure of a total of 178.3m cigarettes with a retail value of approximately €75.3m the period January to December 2010. In addition, during the period January 2011 to date, a total of 42.8m cigarettes were seized by Revenue.

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

98 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Finance when he intends to increase the penalty for tobacco smuggling as proposed in the programme for Government. [13301/11]

I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the penalties for tobacco smuggling are contained in Section 119 of the Finance Act 2001. That Section sets out the various actions that constitute offences of evasion or attempted evasion of excise duty. The court penalties when this provision was introduced in 2001 were, on summary conviction a fine of £1,500 or, at the discretion of the court, imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or both the fine and imprisonment. On conviction on indictment the penalty was a fine of three times the value of the excisable products concerned, or £10,000, whichever was the greater, or at the discretion of the court, imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or both the fine and imprisonment.

Since the introduction of this provision the monetary penalty on summary conviction has been increased on two occasions and now stands at €5,000. By virtue of Section 99 of the Finance Act 2010, the monetary penalty on conviction on indictment under this provision was substantially increased to a fine not exceeding €126,970, or where the value of the excisable products concerned is greater than €250,000, to a fine not exceeding three times the value of the products. The custodial penalties are unchanged. The precise penalty imposed on conviction in each case is of course solely a matter for the Courts.

I will be reviewing the existing penalties in relation to the smuggling and sale of illicit tobacco products to determine which of the penalties should be increased in line with the Programme for Government. In this context I will be consulting the Revenue Commissioners.

National Statistics

Peter Mathews

Ceist:

99 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Finance the national debt, GDP, GNP, total expenditure and total interest cost of servicing the national debt each year from 1980 to date in tabular form; the projections for the remainder of the decade; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13334/11]

The data requested by the Deputy for the period 1980-2015 is set out in the table. The current forecast horizon is out to 2015 and so forecasts post 2015 are not available at present. For consistency, the figures are presented in billions of euro, rounded to one decimal place.

The national debt and national debt interest figures for the years 1980-2009 are set out in the 2010 and earlier editions of the Budgetary & Economic Statistics publication. The 2010 national debt and national debt interest figures have been supplied by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA). The 2011-2015 national debt and national debt interest figures are forecasts prepared jointly by the Department of Finance and the NTMA.

The nominal GDP and GNP figures for the years 1980-2004 are from the September 2010 edition of the Budgetary & Economic Statistics publication. The 2005-2010 figures are from the CSO Quarter 4 2010 Quarterly National Accounts publication. The 2011-2015 figures are the Department of Finance forecasts as contained in the recently published Stability Programme Update (SPU).

Finally, the total expenditure figures for the years 1980-2009 are those in Table 1 of the 2010 and earlier editions of the Budgetary & Economic Statistics publication. The 2010 figure is based on the estimated outturns for gross voted current and capital expenditure as per the 2011 Revised Estimates Volume and non-voted current and capital expenditure figures as per the end-December 2010 Exchequer Statement. The 2011-2015 figures are Department of Finance estimates, as per the recently published SPU.

Year

National Debt

GDP at Current Market Prices

GNP at Current Market Prices

Total Expenditure

National Debt Interest

€ billion

€ billion

€ billion

€ billion

€ billion

1980

10.0

13.0

12.5

6.2

0.7

1981

12.9

15.7

15.1

8.0

1.0

1982

14.8

18.7

17.5

9.8

1.5

1983

18.3

20.6

19.1

10.8

1.7

1984

21.4

22.8

20.7

11.5

2.0

1985

23.5

24.7

22.2

12.4

2.3

1986

27.4

26.4

23.8

13.1

2.3

1987

30.1

28.2

25.6

13.4

2.5

1988

31.3

30.1

26.9

13.2

2.5

1989

31.5

33.4

29.5

13.3

2.5

1990

31.8

36.2

32.0

14.2

2.7

1991

32.2

37.6

33.6

15.4

2.7

1992

33.5

40.1

35.6

16.6

2.7

1993

36.0

43.2

38.5

18.1

2.6

1994

37.1

46.4

41.7

19.4

2.7

1995

38.4

53.1

47.0

20.6

2.7

1996

38.0

58.8

51.9

22.6

2.8

1997

39.0

68.0

59.5

23.7

3.1

1998

37.5

78.5

68.5

25.4

2.7

1999

39.9

90.4

76.8

28.1

2.4

2000

36.5

105.0

89.5

31.0

2.1

2001

36.2

117.1

98.2

36.0

1.9

2002

36.4

130.5

106.8

40.0

1.7

2003

37.6

140.0

118.3

43.0

1.8

2004

37.8

149.3

126.5

45.7

1.7

2005

38.2

162.3

138.1

50.7

1.7

2006

35.9

177.3

154.1

56.1

1.9

2007

37.6

189.4

162.9

62.9

1.6

2008

50.4

180.0

154.7

68.7

1.5

2009

75.2

159.6

131.2

75.8

2.5

2010

93.4

153.9

124.9

69.1

3.5

2011 Forecast

122.0

156.1

125.9

68.6

5.2

2012 Forecast

139.0

160.9

128.9

68.9

7.2

2013 Forecast

153.0

167.4

133.5

67.8

8.0

2014 Forecast

162.0

174.7

138.7

66.8

8.7

2015 Forecast

169.0

182.7

144.3

67.4

9.2

Freedom of Information

John O'Mahony

Ceist:

100 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Finance his plans to extend the Freedom of Information Act; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13483/11]

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is currently carrying out preparatory work to implement the commitments in the Programme for Government in relation to the Freedom of Information Acts. When this work is completed the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin T.D. will bring proposals to the Government.

Flood Relief

Michael McCarthy

Ceist:

101 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a progress report on plans for a flood relief scheme in Skibbereen, County Cork; the timescale for the completion of the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13540/11]

Cork County Council appointed consultants in 2010 to undertake a Feasibility Study on the flooding situation in Skibbereen and to prepare a Draft Flood Risk Management Plan, following approval from the Office of Public Works of its application for funding under OPW's Minor Flood Works Scheme. OPW has allocated funding of €239,000 to the Council for this commission.

The OPW understands that the Study is well underway and a first Public Information Gathering Day has already taken place. The required surveys of the flood plain and the river channel are also progressing. The Study, which is expected to be completed towards the end of this year, will provide the basis on which further decisions will be made in relation to any possible flood relief measures for the town. The Council has made a further application to OPW under the Minor Flood Works Scheme for river cleaning in the town, and this application is currently being considered.

State Savings Products

Kevin Humphreys

Ceist:

102 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance if the moneys raised from the national solidarity bond are being used to fund current spending since the EU-IMF bailout deal; if he will consider using future moneys raised from the bond to fund a programme of strategic investment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13233/11]

The National Solidarity Bond is one product in the range of National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) State Savings products offered by the NTMA to personal savers through the post office network. The suite of NTMA State Savings products also includes Savings Certificates, Savings Bonds, Prize Bonds, Instalment Savings and Deposit Accounts such as the Ordinary Deposit Account and the Deposit Account Plus. All NTMA State Savings money is used to fund the Exchequer and forms part of the National Debt.

The purpose of all moneys raised through borrowing by the NTMA (including the NTMA State Savings products and borrowing from the EU/IMF) is to meet the overall gap between total expenditure and total revenue and, as such, borrowing does not relate to any specific expenditure item. As stated in the Programme for Government, we are committed to a radical overhaul of the wider Exchequer capital programme in line with our changed economic and social needs and are examining options for a commercially-financed NewERA strategic investment programme in key networks of the economy. Together with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, I am currently considering how best to progress this matter.

Pension Provisions

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

103 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance, further to Parliamentary Question No. 100 of 16 June 2010, the date in 2011 on which he proposes to introduce this legislation; if a title for the Bill has been introduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13237/11]

The legislation in question, to which my predecessor in this post referred in replies to the Deputy through parliamentary questions numbered 100 of 16 June 2010 and 87 of 7 October 2010, is to do with the extension of the option to invest in an Approved Retirement Fund (ARF) to all members of Defined Contribution pension schemes in respect of the main benefits from those schemes. The extension of the ARF option has been provided for by Section 19 of the Finance Act 2011. The Deputy was particularly concerned about individuals who invested some or all of their pension funds in an Approved Minimum Retirement Fund (AMRF) because they did not satisfy the specified income requirement at retirement (which would have enabled them to invest in an ARF) but who might subsequently satisfy that requirement at a later time.

Section 19 Finance Act 2011 provides that the guaranteed income requirement, if not satisfied at the time of retirement, may be satisfied at any time after retirement (and before age 75) at which point the AMRF becomes an ARF. Moreover, for individuals who retired before the date of the passing of Finance Act 2011 and who had an AMRF before that date, the guaranteed income requirement which operated before the passing of the Act (€12,700 per annum) will continue to apply for a 3 year period for such individuals.

EU-IMF Fund

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

104 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the content, implications and cost of the modifications to the conditions underpinning the EU loans to the State under the EU/IMF support programme agreed with the EU/ECB/IMF; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13250/11]

Following the formal review mission, which concluded in mid-April, the EU/IMF Programme was updated to take account of implementation and developments since the programme was first agreed in November 2010. It was also amended to reflect Government policy priorities. The revisions were approved by Eurogroup, ECOFIN and the IMF Executive Board on the 16th and 17th of May 2011. The conditions are set out in the programme documents comprising the Letters of Intent to the EU and the IMF, the Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies (MEFP), the Technical Memorandum of Understanding (TMU), and the Memorandum of Understanding on Specific Economic Policy Conditionality (MoU EPC). The text is available on the Department of Finance website (www.finance.gov.ie/documents/publications/other/2011/draftmoumay2011.pdf). There were a significant number of changes to the text, many of which represented a rationalisation and tidying up of the initial draft.

Key changes included the restoration of the cut made in the National Minimum Wage, provision for the Jobs Initiative, which I subsequently announced on the 10th of May, provision for the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure and agreement that the NAMA II transfers would not now proceed. Instead, the banks will be required to develop alternatives for deleveraging these loans. The commitments in respect of banking were updated to take account of the results of the PCAR and PLAR exercises and also, the Government's announcement on Banking restructuring of 31 March this year.

In addition to the changes outlined above, there were a large number of other changes, many of them technical and some new conditions were included and others were elucidated. In most cases the conditions were not entirely new. For example there is now a requirement that the Department of Social Protection will submit to Government by the end of March 2012 a comprehensive programme of reforms that can help better targeting of social support to those on lower incomes, and ensure that work pays for welfare recipients. This requirement builds on the condition in the original MoU EPC to tackle unemployment and poverty traps. It also reflects commitments made in the National Recovery Plan and the Programme for Government where it states that:

"The Commission on Taxation and Social Welfare will examine and make recommendations on the interaction between taxation and the welfare system to ensure that work is worthwhile. In particular, it will examine family and child income supports, and a means by which self-employed people can be insured against unemployment and sickness."

Another example is the inclusion of the requirement to complete the comprehensive review of expenditure by the end of September this year. The original Programme already contained commitments for budgetary corrections of EUR3.6 billion in 2012 and EUR3.1 billion in 2013 assigned in a ratio of approximately 2:1 between expenditure and taxation measures. The revised text notes this pre-existing commitment, and the detailed measures which accompany it. It then goes on to say, in respect of 2012 that "a Comprehensive Review of Expenditure (CRE) is underway and will be completed in September 2011. The budgetary measures outlined will be examined by the Government in the light of the findings of the Review and the Programme for Government. Based on the CRE and in consultation with the European Commission, the IMF and the ECB, the government will introduce budgetary changes which will aim to fully realise efficiencies identified, while remaining fiscally neutral". Similar text is included for Budget 2013.

In relation to the question of the cost of modifications to the conditions, the overall fiscal targets remain in place and the resources available to deliver all the conditions/actions required under the EU/IMF Programme are unchanged. It should be noted that the fiscal consolidation targets are unchanged. The detailed quarterly Exchequer primary deficit and net debt targets for the remainder of 2011 have been amended slightly and initial targets have been set for the first quarter of 2012.

There is one potential cost that the Government is fully cognisant of at all times and that is the potential cost of failing to comply fully with the fiscal targets and the conditionality of the Programme which could be very high for the Irish economy and people. This is why the Government is fully committed to the full delivery of all the requirements of the Programme.

State Companies

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

105 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Finance if he has appointed a committee to examine the accounts and cost base of the semi-States, a bord snip for the semi-States; if he will recommend ways to reduce costs and improve efficiencies in each company with a view to passing on any savings to customers as committed to in the NewERA semi-State investment and reform programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13326/11]

The Review Group on State Assets and Liabilities, established by my predecessor in July 2010 and chaired by Mr. Colm McCarthy, recently completed an examination of, inter alia, the accounts and the cost base of the commercial State bodies. The Review Group's report was distributed to all members of the Oireachtas at the time of its publication in April. On foot of the Group's report, my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform has sought the views of Departments on its recommendations. After considering these views, the Minister intends to bring proposals to Government.

Tax Reliefs

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

106 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance the amount that would potentially be raised by reducing the pension earnings contribution ceiling to €75,000; and if the figure is not known, the steps he will take to identify this figure. [13329/11]

I assume the Deputy is referring to the current annual earnings cap of €115,000. This cap acts, in conjunction with age-related percentage limits of annual earnings, to put a ceiling on the annual amount of tax relief an individual taxpayer can obtain on employee or personal pension contributions. I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the full year yield to the Exchequer arising from reducing the earnings cap to the amount mentioned in the question is currently estimated to be of the order of €100 million. This figure is provisional and subject to revision. A breakdown of the figures by reference to income levels is available only in respect of the tax relief for contributions to Retirement Annuity Contracts (RACs) and Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs) and to the extent that these contributions are included in the personal tax returns of tax payers.

With regard to occupational pension schemes (schemes set up by employers), the figures in respect of employee contributions are available only in aggregate form. Information on such contributions is not captured in such a way as to make it possible to associate contributions with individual income levels. For that reason the estimated yield to the Exchequer in respect of these contributions is extremely tentative. The estimated yield is based on assuming that tax relief which would be affected by the changes mentioned in the question is currently allowed at the top income tax rate of 41% and at the maximum age-related percentage limit of earnings. The figure provided could therefore be regarded as the maximum Exchequer yield in respect of those taxpayers.

Civil Service Staff

Frank Feighan

Ceist:

107 Deputy Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Finance if the Public Appointments Service has a panel or an established list of employees requiring redeployment to different Departments; if it approached the departmental offices based in counties Leitrim, Roscommon or Cavan to establish if vacancies exist in these areas, which could accommodate individuals based in Dublin which would improve efficiency and staff welfare; if a list will be made available to staff; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13360/11]

The Public Service Agreement 2010-14 (the "Croke Park" Agreement) provides for agreed redeployment arrangements to apply in the Civil Service and in other parts of the public service. The initial focus is on redeployment within the relevant employment or sector and it is only when this is not possible, that redeployment in another sector is considered. The purpose of redeployment is to ensure that in the context of a reduction in numbers serving in the Public Service, it will be possible to move staff to certain designated priority areas in accordance with Government policy.

The Public Appointments Service (PAS) has put in place a system of Resource Panels for Civil Service and State Agency staff to support redeployment. Posts to be filled by redeployment are offered in the first instance to the relevant panel or panels. The agreed arrangements provide that staff can be moved within a 45km radius of their work or home location. Staff based in Dublin would not therefore be liable for redeployment to Leitrim, Roscommon or Cavan.

The Government is committed to reducing public service numbers by some 24,000 in the period to 2015. The moratorium on Public Service recruitment and promotion is one of the policy instruments in use to ensure that the Government targets are met. Exceptions to the moratorium require the prior sanction of the Minister for Finance. However, the moratorium does not preclude public service organisations from reorganising work or redeploying staff internally to meet operational needs.

Where it is decided to fill a post in a Department's regional office, whether for operational reasons or by way of an exception to the moratorium, redeployment options would be explored in the first instance. If redeployment is not possible, the post would generally be offered to Civil Service staff who had already indicated an interest in that location, whether directly to the Department concerned or through the Central Applications Facility for decentralisation. The appointee's post might then either be filled from the redeployment panels or suppressed as appropriate.

Pension Provisions

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

108 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Finance his views on a matter regarding private pensions (details supplied). [13377/11]

I note the concerns raised by the Deputy's constituent in the matter of the pension fund levy. From the details supplied, I also note that the individual concerned has already retired and is in receipt of a pension in payment. I am not in position to say, on the basis of the details provided, whether the person will be impacted at all by the levy and, if so, to what extent. As to the legal position regarding the levy, that would be a matter for the courts to decide on any issues put before them. I obtained legal advice in relation to the levy and the scheme being introduced has taken account of that advice.

The levy is a relatively small charge on the significant assets of pension funds much of which are represented by investments outside of Ireland. It is for a temporary 4 year period only and pension funds are being asked to make a contribution to getting the domestic economy moving again over that period. This is a reasonable and targeted tax measure being introduced to fund the various measures set out in the Jobs Initiative. The country is facing an economic and unemployment crisis and the Jobs Initiative will help tackle that crisis.

Fiscal Policy

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

109 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the size of the structural deficit in national budgets between 2006 and 2011 as a percentage of GDP and in monetary terms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13380/11]

The latest estimates of the structural deficit, both as a percentage of GDP and in monetary terms, are presented in the table below. These figures were compiled on the basis of economic and budgetary forecasts produced this spring, and were published in the latest Stability Programme Update submitted to the EU Commission at the end of April.

Table 1: Structural Balance

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

Structural balance (% GDP)

+2.3

-1.5

-7.3

-9.3

-10.0

-8.3

Structural balance (€ million)1

+4,100

-2,850

-13,150

-14,850

-15,400

-12,950Source: Department of Finance, Ireland — Stability Programme Update, April 2011

1To the nearest €25 million.

Estimates of the structural deficit are determined on the basis of the harmonised 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 an annex in the latest Stability Programme Update. 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.

Ministerial Staff

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

110 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Finance the names of the special advisers appointed to his office since 9 March 2011; their specific role and the level of salary they will be earning. [13389/11]

Since my appointment as Minister for Finance on 9 March 2011 the relevant details are as follows:

Name

Title

Salary (per annum)

Duties

Mary Kenny

Special Adviser

€83,337

Any duties which may be assigned to her from time to time as appropriate to the position of Special Adviser as set out in Section 11 of the Public Service Management Act 1997.

My colleague, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform has appointed the following since 9 March 2011:

Name

Title

Salary (per annum)

Duties

Anne Byrne

Special Adviser

€83,337

Any duties which may be assigned to her from time to time as appropriate to the position of Special Adviser as set out in Section 11 of the Public Service Management Act 1997.

Ronan O’Brien

Special Adviser

€114,000

Any duties which may be assigned to him from time to time as appropriate to the position of Special Adviser as set out in Section 11 of the Public Service Management Act 1997.

Financial Services Regulation

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

111 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the average length of time it is currently taking the Financial Services Ombudsman to deal with new complaints submitted to the body by personal customers of financial services. [13434/11]

I would like to refer the Deputy to Parliamentary Question No. 12472/11 on this topic which I answered on Tuesday 24 May 2011. The Financial Services Ombudsman has advised me that, at present, the average length of time from receipt of a complaint to the issuing of a finding is 11 months. I should point out that the Financial Services Ombudsman is independent in the carrying out of his duties. I have no role in the day to day workings of the office.

Pension Provisions

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

112 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding pensions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13478/11]

How the pension fund levy will affect individual pensions will be a matter for individual pension scheme trustees and administrators. The chargeable persons for the purpose of the pension fund levy will be the scheme administrators, that is the trustees or other persons having the management of the assets of the pension schemes or plans. Where pension scheme assets are, for example, held in the form of contracts of assurance with life offices, the insurer will be the chargeable person. It will be up to those trustees and administrators to decide whether and how the levy should be passed on and who should be impacted and to what extent, given the particular circumstances of the pension schemes or pension plans for which they are responsible. In that regard, legislative provision has been made to allow pension scheme trustees or administrators the option to adjust the benefits payable under pension schemes or plans.

Financial Services Regulation

John O'Mahony

Ceist:

113 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Finance the way that persons who hold neither a passport nor a driving licence can prove their identity in order to open a bank account; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13482/11]

I assume that the Deputy's question relates to the obligation on financial institutions and others to identify their customers under Anti Money Laundering legislation. The Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Act 2010 requires customers to be identified on the basis of documents, including documents from a Government source, or information that a credit institution has reasonable grounds to believe can be relied upon to confirm the identity of the customer. As the Act does not prescribe specific documents, this requirement will be supplemented by guidelines which will give examples of the type of documents which may be accepted for identification purposes. The range of acceptable documents under the revised guidelines — which are being finalised at present — will be broader than under the existing guidelines.

Under existing arrangements, a credit institution may use one of the following methods, as an alternative to a passport/driving licence, to verify a person's name:

Identification form with photograph signed by a member of An Garda Síochána or

Documentation/cards issued by a Government Department showing the name of the person and

a letter/statement from a person in a position of responsibility (e.g. a solicitor, accountant, doctor, minister of religion, teacher, social worker, community employment scheme supervisor) who is in a position to confirm the person's identity to the credit institution. In such instances, the person providing the letter/statement must present himself/herself to the relevant credit institution providing proof of his/her own identity and verifying his/her status to the credit institution. In general, any measures adopted by credit institutions should not deny a person access to financial services solely on the grounds that the person does not possess certain specified identification documentation.

National Asset Management Agency

Joe Costello

Ceist:

114 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Finance the number of hotels whose loans have been transferred to the National Asset Management Agency; the number of bedrooms in those hotels; the number of those hotels which are open for business; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13547/11]

I am informed by NAMA that it has acquired loans secured by some 83 hotels located within the State, of which 78 are open for business. The total number of rooms in the 83 hotels is estimated to be of the order of 8,500. I am further informed by NAMA that it will be developing a comprehensive strategy to deal with the hotels that are within its portfolio. NAMA has acknowledged that there are hotels that have been built with the wrong grading and in the wrong location. Ultimately, the long-term future of those hotels may not be as hotels and alternative uses will have to be found for them.

Pension Provisions

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

115 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he consulted with the Pensions Board in advance of deciding to impose a levy on pension funds; if he will publish any contribution or submission made by the board on this proposal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13548/11]

There was no formal consultation by me or my Department with the Pensions Board in advance of the Government's decision to introduce the pension levy to fund the Jobs Initiative. Officials of my Department and the Revenue Commissioners have had contact with a wide number of interested parties in both the public and private sector, including the Pensions Board, about the practical, logistical and other issues surrounding the introduction of the levy. I do not propose to publish the details of any contributions from the Pensions Board to this process at this time.

Financial Services Regulation

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

116 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance if he will report on the credit union commission; the size of the commission and the way its membership will be decided; the way the Irish League of Credit Unions, the Credit Union Development Association and credit union management and staff will be represented on this body; when it will commence its work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13593/11]

The Programme for National Government 2011-2016 sets out the Government's position with regard to the credit union sector. The Government recognises the importance of credit unions as a volunteer cooperative movement and the distinction between them and other financial institutions. In the Programme for Government, it was agreed that a Commission on Credit Unions would be set up to review the future of the movement and make recommendations in relation to the most effective regulatory structure for it. This will take into account their not-for-profit mandate, their volunteer ethos and community focus, while paying due regard to the need to fully protect depositors' savings and financial stability.

The Deputy will also be aware that, under the EU/IMF Programme of Support for Ireland, we have certain commitments in relation to the credit union sector. One of these commitments is to have the Commission on Credit Unions established by end-May 2011. The Terms of Reference for the Commission was discussed at Cabinet today and the Government will make an announcement regarding its establishment in due course. This announcement will include details of the Commission's membership. I intend that the Commission will have its inaugural meeting in mid-June and begin its work immediately.

Tax Collection

Michael Creed

Ceist:

117 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Finance if a person (details supplied) in County Cork is entitled to a refund of income tax paid in respect of maternity benefit payment in 2006 and if the Revenue Commissioners will make arrangements for payment of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13668/11]

The position is that the person in question may be precluded from receiving a refund of income tax because of the general four-year time limit on claims to repayments of tax imposed by Section 865 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997. The effect of this provision is that repayment claims in respect of the 2006 tax year needed to be made by 31 December 2010. I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that there is however some lack of clarity in the particular circumstances of this case, and therefore the Revenue Commissioners advises that the person in question should contact Mr Diarmuid O'Connor at Revenue House, Blackpool, Cork, telephone 021 6027506 to discuss the matter.

School Transport

Michael McCarthy

Ceist:

118 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views regarding a school bus service (details supplied); if his attention has been drawn to the fact that parents in the area are willing to pay for the service if it is available to them and if the particular service can be maintained on the basis that it will have the minimum numbers required to maintain the service in 2012. [13381/11]

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. These changes include the requirement that a minimum of 10 eligible pupils, residing in a distinct locality, will be required to retain or establish a school transport service from the 2011/12 school year. As is currently the position, families of eligible pupils, for whom there is no school transport service available, may apply for the remote area grant towards the cost of making private transport arrangements. Decisions in relation to the retention or establishment of school transport services will be made when all applications for school transport, for the 2011/12 school year, have been received and assessed.

Training and Work Experience Programmes

Sean Fleming

Ceist:

119 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills the details under the jobs initiative of plans to deal with redundant apprentices; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13471/11]

Under the Jobs Initiative there were no additional plans to deal with redundant apprentices. However, FÁS has, in consultation with the relevant stakeholders, put in place a number of measures to enable registered redundant apprentices to progress in their apprenticeships. The ‘Redundant Apprentice Placement Scheme' was introduced by FÁS in 2010 to provide work placement opportunities for redundant apprentices to complete their on-the-job training at Phases 3, 5 and 7. The scheme has been broadened in 2011 to include placements with employers in both the private and the public sectors. The scheme, for which €7.3m in funding is being provided, aims to provide work placements for up to 1,000 apprentices in 2011.

Employers in the private sector and, for the first time, the public sector, may participate in the 2011 scheme provided they meet the eligibility criteria. The 2011 scheme requires no wage contribution from the employer but instead a standard training allowance of €260 at Phase 3, €350 at Phase 5 and €400 at Phase 7 is paid to the redundant apprentice by FÁS. Eligible redundant apprentices are referred by FÁS to approved employers to participate in the scheme. The maximum period of placement is 26 weeks at Phase 3, 26 weeks at Phase 5 and 12 weeks at Phase 7.

Other initiatives taken by FÁS to assist redundant apprentices to progress in their apprenticeships include ‘Changes in Progression Rules' whereby redundant apprentices unable to complete their relevant on-the-job training phases are now permitted to progress to the next Off-the-Job training phase. Under the ‘Phase 7 Equivalent Assessments Scheme', redundant construction trade apprentices unable to complete on-the-job Phase 7 Assessments at an employer may undertake Phase 7 Equivalent Assessments at a FÁS Training Centre. The ‘Recognition of Prior Learning Scheme' allows redundant apprentices who have successfully completed all apprenticeship training Phases 1 to 7, but who have not completed the statutory four years in employment as an apprentice, to validate their competence by submitting a portfolio of evidence of trade related work experience gained at home and/or abroad and/or trade related training and education.

Under the ‘Fee Waiver Scheme', FÁS day and/or evening courses fees are waived for redundant apprentices. Under the EU ‘Leonardo da Vinci Lifelong Learning Programme', 12 redundant apprentices commenced on-the-job training with employers in Germany in February 2011.

A number of new programmes for redundant apprentices and craftspersons are currently being developed or implemented by FÁS in conjunction with the Higher Education Authority and Institutes of Technology. These programmes include a post-Phase 6 Certificate in Craft Transferable Skills, a special course in Advanced Skills for Redundant Plastering Craftspersons, a Certificate in Entrepreneurship for Redundant Craftspersons and short duration courses to prepare apprentices to repeat their outstanding assessments.

European Globalisation Fund

Patrick O'Donovan

Ceist:

120 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a breakdown of the agencies that received funds from the European Globalisation Fund (details supplied); the sum each agency received and the way each agency distributed the funding. [13635/11]

At the end of March 2011, some 1,919 beneficiaries had been provided with personalised services under the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) programme in support of redundant workers at the Dell Computer manufacturing plant in Raheen, Co. Limerick and at relevant ancillary enterprises. These beneficiaries are broken down as follows:—

1,050 through FÁS programmes;

328 through Vocational Education Committees programmes;

371 through public and private third level educational institutions and colleges;

170 through the City and County Enterprise Boards. In addition, guidance services were provided to 2,529 beneficiaries.

Ireland is required to use the EGF financial contribution received from the EU budgetary authorities before 29 June 2011 and must send its final report for the execution of the financial contribution to the European Commission not later than 29 December 2011. In this context, it is not yet possible to provide a detailed breakdown of expenditure on the EGF programme in advance while claims from various service providers are still awaited or are being processed and any relevant reconciliations between national and EU funding still need to be assessed and verified.

FÁS Training Programmes

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

121 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will re-open the FÁS training centre on Bannow Road in Cabra, Dublin, as part of the jobs initiative training and re-skilling proposals; if this is not his intention, his views on the matter; his plans for the Bannow Road site; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13655/11]

During 2010 FÁS received a report from a firm of structural engineers commissioned to examine the condition of the roof structure of the Cabra Training Centre. This report raised concerns from a Health and Safety perspective and it was decided by FÁS to permanently close the centre in December, 2010. FÁS is currently considering options for the disposal of the site.

The staff, courses and services delivered through Cabra Training Centre have been redeployed within the FÁS Training Centre network (including the increased provision of courses in Finglas Training Centre) to ensure that training needs continue to be met. For those clients seeking career guidance and support, alternative FÁS Employment Services Offices are located in Blanchardstown, Ballyfermot, Baldoyle, Crumlin, D'Olier Street, Parnell Street and Finglas. Any persons seeking a FÁS service from the Cabra area will be accommodated in these offices.

State Examinations

Anne Ferris

Ceist:

122 Deputy Anne Ferris asked the Minister for Education and Skills if Irish will remain compulsory for the leaving certificate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13231/11]

This Government is committed to supporting the overall thrust of the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030, and to the delivery of the goals and targets proposed. As part of this, a thorough reform of the Irish curriculum and the way Irish is taught at primary and second level will be undertaken. The priority is to take steps to improve the quality and effectiveness of the teaching of Irish. When these steps have been implemented, the question of whether Irish should be optional at Leaving Certificate will be considered.

A revised Leaving Certificate curriculum in Irish began in all schools in September 2010 for first examination in 2012. The revised programme provides for an increase in the proportion of marks available for oral assessment to 40%, and is aimed at promoting a significant shift in emphasis towards Irish as a spoken language, where students can communicate and interact in a spontaneous way, and where Irish is spoken every day in schools. The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment has been asked to review this syllabus in the light of the experiences of students in the first examination.

European Globalisation Fund

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

123 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills when drawing down the European Globalisation Fund in the provision of up-skilling for former SR Technics workers, if when seeking that funding it was anticipated that it would be sufficient to complete the courses; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that changing at this stage would terminate prior to receiving accreditation for many of those who are participating in the course; if alternative funding is being considered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13238/11]

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

124 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the European Globalisation Fund in respect of persons (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13241/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 123 and 124 together.

Third level programmes were included in the application for EGF funding for the former workers at SR Technics in recognition of the potential such longer term interventions have in equipping participants with specialised and comprehensive skills sets and qualifications which can significantly assist them to re-enter the labour market. While the duration of such programmes in most cases exceeds the maximum EGF programme period of 2 years, securing EU co-funding to engage redundant workers onto a path of long term learning and upskilling against the backdrop of considerable national budgetary constraints, was considered to have significant benefit towards contributing to the development, education and future employment prospects of the individuals concerned.

The co-funding of relevant education and training measures through the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) in support of redundant S R Technics workers is strictly time limited to finish on 9 October 2011. This end date is determined at two years from the date of application in accordance with the regulations governing the operation of the fund, and cannot be extended. This position has always been made clear to both service providers and to beneficiaries of EGF support, including the former S R Technics staff in question. It was also therefore always clear to the former SR Technics workers that the full duration of the course would not be funded by the State and that funding would end before accreditation is achieved.

In relation to the question of alternative funding, officials from my Department met a delegation of the former workers last month and discussed in detail both the position in relation to EGF funding and the full range of options and supports that are available to students generally, including former S R Technics staff, who wish to pursue education programmes in the publicly funded higher education system. I have also written to a member of the delegation re-emphasising the position as outlined.

The Department of Social Protection has already confirmed that if the students remain on the programme on a full-time basis beyond the EGF cut-off date that they will be entitled to retain their Back to Education Allowance. This would be a considerable advantage to the students in terms of providing income support while progressing in education. It should also be noted that All Hallows College has been extremely helpful in running what was originally a part-time course on a full time basis under the EGF programme in order to accelerate students' progress on a modular basis and maximise the scope for them to benefit from the EU funding available. It is open to the students to engage with All Hallows College to seek a reduced course fee for continuance of the course full time but at their own expense.

Alternatively, the relevant students could potentially transfer to other full time courses in the public system which are part of the Free Fees Scheme without losing their Back to Education Allowance. The accreditation of learning gained at All Hallows College prior to any such transfer is a matter for the college in conjunction with the Higher Education Authority.

Student Support Schemes

Dan Neville

Ceist:

125 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Education and Skills the financial or grant assistance available to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick studying to be a paramedic at a training institute in County Galway. [13245/11]

Under my Department's student grant schemes, eligible candidates may receive funding provided they are attending an approved course at an approved institution as defined in the relevant scheme. I understand that the college referred to by the Deputy is a private college and is not on the list of approved institutions for student grant purposes. The Deputy will appreciate that, in the current economic climate, I am not in a position to consider any such extension of the list of approved institutions.

However, Section 473A, Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997, as amended by Section 11 of the Finance Act 2011 provides for the introduction of tax relief for fees paid in publicly funded colleges here and in other EU Member States as well as in private colleges in the State. This relief, which applies at the standard rate of tax, is available to full-time and part-time students and includes distance education courses offered by publicly funded colleges in other EU Member States. Further details on claiming this relief are available from the Revenue Commissioners' website atwww.revenue.ie.

School Curriculum

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

126 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills when the new agricultural science leaving certificate syllabus will be introduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13248/11]

Work on a revised syllabus for Agricultural Science has largely been completed by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA). However, the assessment arrangements for the revised syllabus have not yet been finalised as they will have to be considered in the context of the assessment of other senior cycle science subjects, including the introduction of a second assessment component. The NCCA is currently engaging in a public consultation process on revised syllabuses for Leaving Certificate Physics, Chemistry and Biology prior to submitting its advice to my Department.

Íocaíochtaí Deontas

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

127 D’fhiafraigh Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Oideachais agus Scileanna an gceadófar airgead faoin scéim oibreacha samhraidh do scoil (sonraí tugtha) de bharr chomh tais agus atá an scoil agus an drochthionchar a d’fhéadfadh sé imirt ar shláinte na ngasúr sa scoil. [13278/11]

Táim ábalta a dheimhniú go ndearna an scoil dá dtagraíonn an Teachta iarratas ar chuid de na fuinneoga a athrú faoin Scéim Oibreacha Samhraidh 2011. Fógraíodh liosta de 453 scoil an 30 Márta 2011. Faoi mhaoiniú Scéim Oibreacha Samhraidh na bliana seo tugadh tosaíocht d'iarratais ó scoileanna ar oibreacha gáis, meicniúla agus leictreachais agus tá aiféala orm nár roghnaíodh iarratas na scoile atá i gceist. Tá litir á chur sin in iúl seolta chuig an scoil. Cé go bhfuil maoiniú breise curtha ar fáil do thionscadail scoile faoi Thionscnamh Post an Rialtais tá aiféala orm nár éirigh leis an iarratas dá dtagraítear dó faoin Tionscnamh mar gur ghá tosaíocht a thabhairt do chatagóirí oibre ar chinn eile.

School Staffing

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

128 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has given any consideration to having a voluntary national redeployment panel for teachers who are employed by vocational education committees and who wish to transfer from one VEC district to another; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13286/11]

The current redeployment arrangements apply in schools and VECs who have a surplus of permanent and/or CID holding teachers. The redeployment scheme that was introduced this year includes provision for further discussions with the relevant stakeholders in Autumn 2011 with a view to having a pilot scheme in operation as soon as is practicable for transfers on a voluntary basis.

Redundancy Payments

Eamonn Maloney

Ceist:

129 Deputy Eamonn Maloney asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a redundancy payment will be processed in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 24; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13304/11]

The redundancy payment for the person referred to by the deputy, will be paid to her on the 09th June 2011. My Department will advise the person referred to on the matter in the near future.

School Staffing

Derek Keating

Ceist:

130 Deputy Derek Keating asked the Minister for Education and Skills in view of the recent circular 30/2011 to schools in the Lucan area of County Dublin and the impact that this will have on a school (details supplied), if his attention has been drawn to the fact that since 2008 this school, like others in the area, has increased its pupil population by more than 300% in three years; if his further attention has been drawn to the fact that more than 30 different languages other than English and Irish is the first language of children attending; if he will review this plan of appointments of learning support resource teacher posts and work with schools in dealing with the impact of circular 30/2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13315/11]

Department Circular 30/2011 sets out the arrangements for the deployment of resource teaching posts in schools for the 2011/12 school year. The purpose of this circular is to inform schools of the arrangements that are being put in place for the 2011/12 school year in respect of their NCSE approved resource hours so that posts are deployed in line with authorised allocations.

The Department's approach has allowed schools "roll-over" all their existing full-time posts on the condition that any surplus capacity in these posts is shared with other local schools. If the "roll-over" arrangements are not sufficient to meet a school's NCSE approved allocation they must firstly contact their local schools for any surplus capacity and then, if necessary, there is an application process to the Department under the circular. My Department has also received an application for language support for the school referred to by the Deputy. The application has been processed and the school has been advised of their allocation for the 2011/2012 school year accordingly.

School Accommodation

Patrick O'Donovan

Ceist:

131 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Limerick. [13343/11]

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

School Transport

Michael Moynihan

Ceist:

132 Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the school bus service for a school (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13358/11]

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. These changes include the requirement that a minimum of 10 eligible pupils, residing in a distinct locality, will be required to retain or establish a school transport service from 2011/12 school year. As is currently the position, families of eligible pupils, for whom there is no school transport service available, may apply for the remote area grant towards the cost of making private transport arrangements. Decisions in relation to the retention or establishment of school transport services will be made when all applications for school transport, for the 2011/12 school year, have been received and assessed.

School Staffing

John Deasy

Ceist:

133 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the present requirements for teachers in relation to redeployment panels at primary level; the criteria for inclusion in these panels; the level of temporary service and substitute teaching on a full-time basis that is acceptable for inclusion in the individual panels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13370/11]

The redeployment panels that have been published consist solely of surplus permanent-CID teachers who are fully registered with the Teaching Council. The next stage of the redeployment panels will consist of fixed-term primary teachers who are fully registered with the Teaching Council and who have a minimum of five years service.

The supplementary panels consist of fixed-term teachers who are fully registered with the Teaching Council and who have between three and five years service. The supplementary panels will recognize as appropriate, substitute service. The supplementary panel becomes operational when the main panel is cleared. 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

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

134 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Education and Skills the names of the special advisers appointed to his office since 9 March 2011; their specific role and the level of salary they will be earning. [13386/11]

Since I have taken office I have appointed 2 special advisers as follows:

Mr. John Walshe — Salary €92,672 per annum.

Mr. Walshe has extensive experience of the education sector and he will assist me in formulating future educational policy.

Ms. Deirdre Grant

Ms. Grant has been appointed as Director of Communications. She formerly worked in media relations. She will assist me in promoting educational policy, monitoring the media coverage of educational issues and utilising media to inform the general public of developments in education and broader skills area. She will be responsible for Department press and media relations. Ms. Grant's salary has yet to be finalised. When this matter has been concluded I will inform the Deputy accordingly.

Special Educational Needs

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

135 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will review the decision not to make an item of equipment available to a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [13400/11]

As the Deputy will be aware, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating Resource Teachers and Special Needs Assistants to schools to support children with special educational needs. SENOs also make recommendations to my Department where assistive technology is required. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. The NCSE has advised my Department that the pupil in question does not meet my Department's criteria for the allocation of a laptop.

All schools have the names and contact details of their local SENO. Parents may also contact the SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available onwww.ncse.ie. It is open to the school and/or parents to contact the SENO in the context of supports that may be available to support the pupil in question.

Schools Refurbishment

Ciara Conway

Ceist:

136 Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the emergency works application in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Waterford which urgently requires funding to carry out much needed repairs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13436/11]

An application under my Department's Emergency Works Scheme for window replacement has been received from the school referred to by the Deputy. The purpose of the Emergency Works Scheme is solely for unforeseen emergencies or to provide funding to facilitate inclusion and access for special needs pupils. An emergency is deemed to be a situation which poses an immediate risk to health, life, property or the environment which is sudden, unforeseen and requires immediate action and in the case of a school if not corrected would prevent the school or part thereof from opening. As the scope of works for this project is outside the terms of the Emergency Works Scheme it cannot be considered for emergency funding. The school has been informed of the decision.

Higher Education Grants

Joe Costello

Ceist:

137 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will outline the present regime of higher education grants; if he has any proposals to change the funding levels and the distance requirements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13479/11]

In terms of regime, the Deputy will probably be aware that, currently, there are four student grant schemes administered by 66 grant awarding bodies (local authorities and VECs) on my Department's behalf. However, earlier this year, the Student Support Act became law. This paves the way to consolidate the four existing schemes into a single unified scheme and I intend that this will happen for the 2011-12 academic year. In addition, plans are well underway to replace the 66 grant awarding bodies with one single authority.

I have approved the appointment of the CDVEC to operate this centralised body on a transitional basis subject to the agreement of an operational plan with my Department. The single authority will be operative from 2012. It will accept all new applications initially. Existing grant awarding bodies will continue to deal with the renewal of existing grants on a wind-down basis over three to four years. I will also be establishing an independent appeals board commensurate with the provisions of the legislation.

In tandem with these developments, the on-line application facility for students and the payment of grants by EFT continues to be rolled out. Taken together, I expect that these developments will make it easier for students to apply for a grant. They will also ensure consistency of treatment of applications and the timely payment of grants.

With regard to funding levels, the Deputy will be aware that the student grant measures announced in Budget 2011 by the previous Fianna Fáil-Green Party Government began to come into effect from January this year when a reduction of 4% in the rates of grant was applied to all student grant recipients. Further to this, budget measures that will come into effect from next September for the 2011-12 academic year will change the assessment of the qualifying distance criterion for the non-adjacent rate of grant from 24 kilometres to 45 kilometres and mature students will no longer have an automatic entitlement to the non-adjacent rate of grant.

I regret that given current economic circumstances I am not in a position to reverse any of these changes to the student grant schemes including that relating to the qualifying distance criteria for the non-adjacent rate of grant. I understand the concerns of students with regard to these measures and I will take account of these in considering any future changes as part of the budgetary process for 2012 and beyond, having regard to the position of the public finances.

Language Schools

Dominic Hannigan

Ceist:

138 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the grants available for setting up an international language school to teach English to international students; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13484/11]

English language schools targeted at international students are primarily operated by the private sector. There are no grants available from my Department to fund the start up costs of such schools.

Special Educational Needs

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

139 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of special needs assistants that schools in the Dublin central constituency will lose in the next academic year 2011-12; and if he will provide details of the schools affected. [13489/11]

I wish to inform the Deputy that there has been no overall reduction in the number of Special Needs Assistants in our education system. The Deputy will be aware that it is necessary to ensure that educational services are delivered within the resources available due to the current fiscal position. I intend to prioritise and support special educational services. However, I cannot re-visit the previous Government's decision to place a cap on the number of posts available under the Special Needs Assistant (SNA) scheme. 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.

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.

School Staffing

Tom Barry

Ceist:

140 Deputy Tom Barry asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will allocate an additional English language teaching provision as a matter of urgency for a school (details supplied) in County Cork. [13524/11]

Significant support is given to schools by way of language support provision. The level of extra teaching support provided in respect of language support to any school is determined by the numbers of eligible pupils enrolled and the associated assessed levels of those pupils' language proficiency. This is done through an annual application process in the Spring-Summer of each year. My Department has received an application for part-time language support in respect of the school referred to by the Deputy for the 2011-2012 school year. Such applications relate to schools who have less than 14 eligible pupils for language support

Having regard to the overall level of demand for language support and other upward pressures on teacher numbers, the Department is not in a position at this stage to process and approve applications for part-time language support posts. This application will be considered in the Autumn when a clearer picture will have emerged in relation to how the Department is managing with the overall limits on teacher numbers.

Departmental Properties

Joe Costello

Ceist:

141 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a school (details supplied) in Dublin 7 has been transferred to his Department; if he has plans for its use; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13529/11]

I am assuming that the Deputy is referring to the former premises of the school to which he refers. I can confirm to the Deputy that this property is not in my ownership and a technical examination completed by my Department has determined that the property is not suitable for future school accommodation. As such it is not my intention to pursue a transfer of all or part of this property to my Department for educational use.

Home-School Liaison Scheme

Joe Costello

Ceist:

142 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will clarify the appointment of home school community liaison co-ordinators for 2011-12; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13530/11]

I wish to advise the Deputy that there is no curtailment to Home School Community Liaison (HSCL) Services, which is a major component of DEIS, (Delivering Equality of Opportunities in Schools), the action plan for educational inclusion. The current provision of HSCL services will remain in the 200 post primary and 345 urban primary schools participating in DEIS. The process of allocating teaching resources to schools for the 2011-12 school year and the arrangements for filling vacant or new teaching positions takes place in the context of the Programme for National Recovery, the EU-IMF Programme of Support for Ireland and the Public Service Agreement 2010-2014.

In relation to the Programme for National Recovery and the EU-IMF Programme of Support for Ireland it is necessary for my Department to exercise additional control and reporting measures this year to ensure that the number of teachers employed in schools is consistent with those programmes. The existing arrangements continue to remain in place whereby schools can only fill their vacancies from the surplus permanent and CID holding teachers. It is not possible to permit schools to fill vacancies in any other manner until the surplus permanent teachers are redeployed.

Schools with HSCL co-ordinator vacancies were requested to hold off making new appointments. Although HSCL co-ordinator appointments are made internally from among the staff of schools, the filling of the replacement post for the teacher deployed to undertake HSCL duties may have implications in relation to panel arrangements. Given that there are currently 248 surplus permanent and CID holding teachers remaining on panels my Department will not decide until 10 June 2011 (at the earliest) in relation to giving schools authority to commence recruitment in any other manner. My Department may decide at that stage to prioritise schools that have fully cooperated with the redeployment process.

Discussions with the relevant education partners also include devising whatever additional arrangements are necessary to facilitate the redeployment of any remaining permanent and CID holding teachers (including 21 surplus permanent teachers that do not currently have access to a redeployment panel).

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

143 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason schools have been instructed not to fill vacant home-school community liaison posts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13533/11]

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

144 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he is committed to maintaining the home-school community liaison scheme in its current form staffed by fully qualified teachers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13534/11]

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

I wish to advise the Deputy that there is no curtailment to Home-School Community Liaison (HSCL) Services, which is a major component of DEIS, (Delivering Equality of Opportunities in Schools), the action plan for educational inclusion. The current provision of HSCL services will remain in the 200 post primary and 345 urban primary schools participating in DEIS. The process of allocating teaching resources to schools for the 2011-12 school year and the arrangements for filling vacant or new teaching positions takes place in the context of the Programme for National Recovery, the EU-IMF Programme of Support for Ireland and the Public Service Agreement 2010-2014.

In relation to the Programme for National Recovery and the EU-IMF Programme of Support for Ireland it is necessary for my Department to exercise additional control and reporting measures this year to ensure that the number of teachers employed in schools is consistent with those programmes. The existing arrangements continue to remain in place whereby schools can only fill their vacancies from the surplus permanent and CID holding teachers. It is not possible to permit schools to fill vacancies in any other manner until the surplus permanent teachers are redeployed.

Schools with HSCL coordinator vacancies were requested to hold off making new appointments. Although HSCL co-ordinator appointments are made internally from among the staff of schools, the filling of the replacement post for the teacher deployed to undertake HSCL duties may have implications in relation to panel arrangements.

Given that there are currently 248 surplus permanent and CID holding teachers remaining on panels my Department will not decide until 10 June 2011 (at the earliest) in relation to giving schools authority to commence recruitment in any other manner. My Department may decide at that stage to prioritise schools that have fully co-operated with the redeployment process. Discussions with the relevant education partners also include devising whatever additional arrangements are necessary to facilitate the redeployment of any remaining permanent and CID holding teachers (including 21 surplus permanent teachers that do not currently have access to a redeployment panel).

Proposed Legislation

Clare Daly

Ceist:

145 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will take action to amend the anomaly whereby section 19(2) of the Education (Welfare) Act 2000 allows for a parent to act on their own whereas section 6(1) of the Guardianship of Infants Act specifies that the father and mother of an infant shall be guardians of the infant jointly. [13554/11]

Section 6 (1) of the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964 provides that the father and mother of an infant shall be guardians of the infant jointly. Section 19(2) of the Education (Welfare) Act 2000 provides that a parent who has applied to enrol their child in a school may be required to provide that school with such information as may be prescribed by the Minister. The Act does not distinguish between parents who act in concert and those who do not.

The Education Welfare Act 2000 provides that "parent" shall be interpreted to include — "a foster parent, a guardian appointed under the Guardianship of Children Acts, 1964 to 1997, or other person acting in loco parentis who has a child in his or her care subject to any statutory power or order of a court and, in the case of a child who has been adopted under the Adoption Acts, 1952 to 1998, or, where the child has been adopted outside the State, means the adopter or adopters or the surviving adopter”.

In the event that a disagreement arises between parents or guardians in relation to the enrolment of a child, it is a matter to be resolved between the parents-guardians concerned. Where joint guardians cannot reach an agreement on an issue concerning the child then an application can be made to the court under the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964 and the court will make a decision in the child's best interest. I have no plans to amend the Education Welfare Act in this regard.

School Staffing

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

146 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the application by a school (details supplied) in County Cork to have an additional mainstream teacher appointed to the school for the beginning of the next school year to cope with the high enrolment of infants to the school. [13572/11]

The key factor for determining the level of staffing resources provided at individual school level is the staffing schedule for the relevant school year and pupil enrolments on the previous 30 September. The staffing schedule for the 2011-2012 school year was published on my Department's website in March 2011.

The staffing schedule also includes an appeals mechanism for schools to submit an appeal under certain criteria to an independent Appeal Board. Details of the criteria for appeal are contained in the staffing schedule, Circular 0019/2011. This school appealed their allocation of mainstream teaching posts for the 2011-2012 school year. The Primary Staffing Appeal Board considered the case at its meeting on 25 May 2011 and refused the appeal. The Board operates independently of the Department and its decision is final.

Schools Building Projects

Joanna Tuffy

Ceist:

147 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application for extension works at a school (details supplied) in County Dublin; the progress of the proposed extension; the likely time-frame for its completion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13581/11]

In January 2011 my Department authorised the project referred to by the Deputy to complete Stage 2(b) -Detailed Design, which includes Tender Documents, and Statutory Approvals (Planning Permission, Fire certificate and Disability Access Certificate). Upon completion of stage 2(b) the Design Team will submit same to the Department for review. Thereafter the Department will be in contact with the Board of Management with regard to progressing the project to tender and construction stage.

Home-School Liaison Scheme

Sean Fleming

Ceist:

148 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will consider retaining rural co-ordinators under the delivering equality in education scheme in view of the fact that the abolition of the service does not affect urban schools in the DEIS scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13592/11]

The decision to remove the Rural Co-ordinator Service from 331 rural DEIS schools was a measure taken by the last Government to secure some €24 million in savings in the 2011-2012 school year. The service will therefore be discontinued with effect from 31 August 2011.

I do not intend to revisit the decision of the previous Government to withdraw rural coordinator posts. The Deputy will understand that Ireland is effectively now in economic receivership because of the disastrous legacy of the last Government. The requirements to make expenditure savings and to ensure that staffing numbers remain within the Public Service Employment Control Framework prevent me from re-visiting this decision.

This measure will not affect the provision of HSCL services which remain in 200 post primary and 345 urban primary participating in DEIS. DEIS rural primary schools will continue to receive the following supports:

additional capitation funding based on level of disadvantage.

additional funding for schools books.

access to the School Meals Programme.

access to numeracy-literacy supports and measures.

access to planning supports.

access to a range of professional development supports.

The set of measures included in the National Recovery Plan 2011 to 2014 impacts on every sector of the public service and will unquestionably lead to significant challenges for schools as well as my Department in the coming years. The major challenge will undoubtedly be to seek improved outcomes for children with fewer resources.

Departmental Agencies

Seán Kenny

Ceist:

149 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of persons employed by FÁS by grade and the pay scale by grade. [13598/11]

The number of persons employed by FÁS as at 27th May 2011 was 1,923.98 (full-time equivalents). The following table provides a breakdown by grade, with pay scale by grade.

Pay Scale

Grade

FTE* Total

Min. Point

Max. Point (including LSI**)

No. of points on scale

01

1.00

189,115.00

189,115.00

1

03

4.00

134,523.00

153,885.00

4

04

22.00

84,132.00

103,472.00

7

05

1.00

92,876.00

98,658.00

3

06

69.80

65,130.00

84,517.00

10

07

127.04

57,964.00

74,311.00

11

08

771.38

35,802.00

58,187.00

17

09

145.56

31,429.00

53,038.00

17

10

137.82

27,016.00

47,890.00

17

11

559.35

23,177.00

37,341.00

14

13

85.03

25,061.92

29,079.96

5

Total

1,923.98

*FTE: Full time equivalents

**LSI: Long service increments

Special Educational Needs

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Ceist:

150 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will consider documentation in relation to a person (details supplied); if he will approve home school tuition funding as requested; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13611/11]

As the Deputy is aware the home tuition scheme provides funding to parents to provide education at home for children who, for a number of reasons such as chronic illness, are unable to attend school. The scheme was extended in recent years to facilitate tuition for children awaiting a suitable educational placement and also to provide early educational intervention for pre-school children with autism. The child to whom the Deputy refers is not eligible for home tuition as she is enrolled in a special class. However I have requested that my officials liaise with both the National Council for Special Education and the school in question to ensure that they are accessing the range of supports that are available to them to meet the individual needs of children.

The Deputy will be aware that my Department has also responded to the need to provide teachers with continuing professional development in special education. This has been a key priority in recent years. The establishment of the Special Education Support Service (SESS) to provide expert support, professional development and training opportunities in special education for school staff has been very significant. Furthermore the National Educational Psychological Support Service is available to provide advice and support to schools.

Niall Collins

Ceist:

151 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the provision of resource teaching hours in September 2011 in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry. [13636/11]

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 support 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 a temporary suspension of the allocation of additional resource teaching support hours.

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 was 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.

Research Funding

Seán Kyne

Ceist:

152 Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the procedure followed by the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology in allocating research funding on behalf of his Department in the areas of science, technology and engineering and if there are any mechanisms in place to ensure an appropriate balance of funding across the State. [13639/11]

The Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (IRCSET) primarily funds PhD scholarships and early stage postdoctoral fellowships. Selection is on the basis of excellence following assessment by expert independent panels, whose membership is primarily international. IRCSET has in place a robust and transparent assessment protocol based on international best practice. A detailed description of the application process and criteria for the various schemes is published on the IRCSET website —www.ircset.ie. IRCSET does not place any emphasis on distributing awards on an institutional or regional basis. Similarly, there is no emphasis on funding one discipline over another. The awards are made solely on the basis of academic excellence and in accordance with published assessment criteria.

School Accommodation

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

153 Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application by a school (details supplied) in County Sligo. [13644/11]

My Department has no record of an application for additional accommodation from the school in question. Should an application be received it will be assessed and the school authorities will be notified of the outcome. The application form concerned can be downloaded from my Department's website onwww.education.ie.

School Transport

Mick Wallace

Ceist:

154 Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he plans to review measures taken by the last Government to charge €200 per annum for school transport to all children within a two mile radius of the school regardless of them holding a medical card; if he will review the cases of two schools (details supplied) in County Wexford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13651/11]

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 Value for Money Review of the scheme. One of the changes, which takes effect from the beginning of the 2011-12 school year, is that the distance eligibility criterion will be applied uniformly to all pupils attending primary schools and the exemption under the ‘Central-Closed School Rule' (CSR) will cease. This means that children who reside less than 3.2 kilometres from their school of attendance and who are currently availing of free transport to that school under the CSR will lose their transport eligibility.

Primary school pupils who are not eligible for school transport may apply for concessionary transport at an annual charge of €200 per pupil, subject to a family maximum of €650 per annum. Given the major financial constraints facing the country, I regret that 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.

Mick Wallace

Ceist:

155 Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will reverse the decision to increase the number of children needed in a distinct locality on a particular bus route from seven to ten to retain transport to the local primary school; his plans to determine the number of children that will not be able to attend school without the school transport scheme, as mentioned in the value for money review; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13652/11]

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 Value for Money Review of the scheme. These changes include the requirement that a minimum of ten eligible pupils, residing in a distinct locality, will be required to retain or establish a school transport service from the 2011-12 school year. As is currently the position, families of eligible pupils, for whom there is no suitable school transport service available, may apply for the remote area grant towards the cost of making private transport arrangements.

Decisions in relation to the retention or establishment of school transport services will be made when all applications for school transport, for the 2011-12 school year, have been received and assessed. Given the major financial constraints facing the country, I regret that 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.

Ministerial Staff

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

156 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation the names of the special advisers appointed to his office since 9 March 2011; their specific role and the level of salary they will be earning. [13387/11]

Mr. Conor Quinn, Special Adviser has been appointed to my office with effect from 30 March 2011. His role is to provide advice to me as Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation on press and communications matters and to carry out any other functions I may direct from time to time. Mr. Quinn was placed on the first point of the Principal Officer (standard) pay scale, i.e. €80,051 — €83,337 — €86,604 — €89,898 — €92,672.

Pension Fund Assets

Peter Mathews

Ceist:

157 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Social Protection the value of foreign Government debt held by Irish pension funds; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13332/11]

Peter Mathews

Ceist:

158 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Social Protection the value of foreign equities held by Irish pension funds; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13333/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 157 and 158 together.

Irish pension schemes hold a variety of asset types and in line with the practice of diversification of assets these investments are held both in Ireland and abroad. Industry estimates indicate that approximately 60 per cent of pension fund assets are held in equities with approximately 30 per cent held in bonds. While the exact breakdown in terms of whether these are domestic or foreign holdings is not available, it is estimated that the domestic holding is quite low, possibly less than 5 per cent of each of those asset classes.

Of course we would like to see greater investment in Irish assets where possible. In particular, we do want to encourage schemes to invest more in Irish bonds. The sovereign annuity initiative is one way in which schemes will be able to do that. Since the legislation was enacted a number of technical issues have emerged and work has been ongoing to address these and they are now being resolved. Simultaneously, the Pensions Board has been developing guidelines to assist potential providers of sovereign annuity products, which will be available shortly.

Social Welfare Appeals

Jack Wall

Ceist:

159 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an appeal against the decision to refuse an application for a clothing allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13580/11]

Under the supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) scheme an exceptional needs payment (ENP) may be made by the Health Service Executive (HSE) to help meet an essential, once-off cost which the applicant is unable to meet out of his/her own resources. There is no automatic entitlement to this payment. Each application is determined by the HSE based on the particular circumstances of the case. Eligible people would normally be in receipt of a social welfare or HSE payment.

The HSE has advised that the application for assistance from the person concerned was refused as the need was not established. The person concerned was advised in writing of her right to appeal the decision to the relevant appeals office in the HSE. An appeal has been lodged with the Appeals Office in the HSE and the person will be notified of the outcome in writing when a decision has been reached.

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

160 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a domiciliary care allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [13586/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the appeal from the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer who proposes to hold an oral hearing in this case. 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. This has significantly impacted on the processing time for appeals which require oral hearings and, in order to be fair to all appellants, they are dealt with in strict chronological order. In the context of dealing with the considerable number of appeals now on hands, the Department has made a further nine (9) additional appointments to the office in recent weeks.

While every effort is being made to deal with the large numbers awaiting oral hearing as quickly as possible, it is not possible to give a date when the person's oral hearing will be heard, but s/he will be informed when arrangements have been made. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Community Employment Scheme

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

161 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a FÁS scheme in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [13720/11]

As Minister for Social Protection I do not have a role in the administration of individual cases in regard to the operation of the Community Employment programme. The administration of individual cases under CE is a day-to-day matter for FÁS as part of its responsibility under the Labour Services Act, 1987, as amended by Part 3 of the Social Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2010. I am advised by FÁS that the individual in question has been granted an extension until December 2011 which will be her finish date. FÁS has further advised that nearer to her finish date on CE she should contact her local FÁS Employment Services Office to discuss further employment and training options that may be available to her.

Social Welfare Appeals

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

162 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will be made on the application for invalidity pension in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13225/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the appeal from the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer who proposes to hold an oral hearing in this case. 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. This has significantly impacted on the processing time for appeals which require oral hearings and, in order to be fair to all appellants, they are dealt with in strict chronological order. In the context of dealing with the considerable number of appeals now on hand, the Department has made a further nine (9) additional appointments to the office in recent weeks.

While every effort is being made to deal with the large numbers awaiting oral hearing as quickly as possible, it is not possible to give a date when the person's oral hearing will be heard, but s/he will be informed when arrangements have been made. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

163 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will be made on the application for invalidity pension in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13230/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the appeal from the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer who proposes to hold an oral hearing in this case. 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. This has significantly impacted on the processing time for appeals which require oral hearings and, in order to be fair to all appellants, they are dealt with in strict chronological order. In the context of dealing with the considerable number of appeals now on hand, the Department has made a further 9 additional appointments to the office in recent weeks.

While every effort is being made to deal with the large numbers awaiting oral hearing as quickly as possible, it is not possible to give a date when the person's oral hearing will be heard, but s/he will be informed when arrangements have been made. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Social Welfare Benefits

Simon Harris

Ceist:

164 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Social Protection if a person (details supplied) is eligible for mortgage interest supplement payments in view of the specific circumstances that have been communicated by the person to the Health Service Executive. [13236/11]

Under the qualifying conditions for mortgage interest supplement the amount of mortgage interest payable by the claimant should not exceed such amount as the Health Service Executive (HSE) considers reasonable to meet the applicant's residential and other needs. Where such circumstances arise, the Executive may award the supplement for a period of no more than 12 months.

The HSE has advised that it awarded a mortgage interest supplement to the person concerned for a 12 month period from September 2009 to August 2010 on the grounds that the amount of mortgage interest payable in this case was in excess of what it considered reasonable to meet the residential needs of the person concerned. The payment of mortgage interest supplement was terminated from September 2010. The HSE has further advised that this decision has been appealed to its designated Appeals Officer and a decision on entitlement will be made in due course.

Social Welfare Appeals

Áine Collins

Ceist:

165 Deputy Áine Collins asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason for the delay in deciding the appeal for domiciliary care allowance in respect of a person (details supplied). [13244/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 08 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 21 February 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.

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. This has significantly impacted on the processing time of appeals and, in order to be fair to all appellants, they are dealt with in strict chronological order. In the context of dealing with the considerable number of appeals now on hand, the Department has made a further nine (9) additional appointments to the office in recent weeks. 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.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

166 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision will issue on a domiciliary allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan. [13252/11]

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 partially allowed the appeal of the person concerned. Notification of the Appeals Officers decision has issued to the person concerned. The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Jack Wall

Ceist:

167 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a clothing allowance appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13309/11]

Under the supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) scheme an exceptional needs payment (ENP) may be made by the Health Service Executive (HSE) to help meet an essential, once-off cost which the applicant is unable to meet out of his/her own resources. There is no automatic entitlement to this payment. Each application is determined by the HSE based on the particular circumstances of the case. Eligible people would normally be in receipt of a social welfare or HSE payment. The HSE has advised that an appeal against its decision to refuse the application for assistance has been made and the person concerned will be notified of the outcome in due course.

Social Welfare Benefits

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

168 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if and when carer’s allowance will be restored in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare in view of the issues of contention that have been restored; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13320/11]

The person concerned is in receipt of carer's allowance in respect of one care recipient. An additional application for carer's allowance in respect of a second care recipient was made and was refused on the 15th April 2011. It was determined that full time care and attention was not being provided and that the claimant had been working more than 15 hours a week. The claimant was notified of the decision and of their right of review or appeal, within 21 days to the independent social welfare appeals office.

Given that we now understand that the claimant is no longer working for over 15 hours per week and that circumstances surrounding the care of the second care recipient may have changed, her claim will be reviewed. She will be notified of the outcome of the review in due course.

One of the statutory conditions for the receipt of carer's allowance is that the carer must not be working outside of the home for 15 hours a week or more. The claimant has therefore been assessed with an overpayment for the period of time during which she was working over 15 hours per week. Again the person concerned was notified of the decision and of their right of review or appeal, within 21 days to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office.

Social Welfare Code

Anne Ferris

Ceist:

169 Deputy Anne Ferris asked the Minister for Social Protection her plans to introduce a financial assistance scheme for self-employed persons whose businesses have failed as a result of the economic downturn; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13323/11]

I plan to keep the position of this group under review. Self-employed workers whose businesses cease or if they are on low income as a result of a downturn in demand for their services, have access to social assistance-based payments, such as jobseeker's allowance, subject to a means test . In assessing the means of a self-employed person, a flexible approach is adopted, 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.

Pension Provisions

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

170 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will conduct and publish a cost-benefit analysis of using the PRSI system not only to collect the auto-enrolment pension contributions that are proposed by the national pensions framework but also to manage that money and make payments rather than handing those responsibilities over to the private pension industry considering the inefficiencies that are typical of it. [13330/11]

Increasing pensions coverage, particular amongst the lower paid and those with gaps in their employment, is a priority for the Government. The introduction of an auto-enrolment system is one of the best ways in which we can do this. An inter-departmental/agency group, chaired by the Department of Social Protection is developing the legislative, regulatory and administrative infrastructure required to introduce a number of pension reforms in the National Pensions Framework, including auto-enrolment.

It is envisaged that contributions for an auto-enrolment system will be collected through the PRSI system and the Government will decide how those investment funds will be selected and managed. It is expected that a competitive process will be run by the State which will also ensure that charges are kept to a minimum. It is intended that the auto-enrolment scheme will be introduced in 2014 but only if it would be prudent given the economic conditions prevailing at that time.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

171 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection the steps she is taking to identify the level and scale of costs in the private pensions industry. [13331/11]

The overall objective of the pension system is to provide an adequate basic standard of living through direct state supports and to encourage people to make supplementary pension provision for themselves so that they can have an adequate income in retirement. A system which delivers on this objective must be sustainable and affordable. The charges associated with the provision of private pensions are an important element in achieving these objectives in an effective and efficient manner.

I have asked the Implementation Group for the National Pensions Framework to bring forward their work on examining the options to bring greater simplification and transparency to the issue of pension charges. In the initial phase the group will endeavour to collect as much information as possible in relation to the level of costs and charges that currently apply. This will assist future decisions in this area.

Ministerial Staff

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

172 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Social Protection the names of the special advisers appointed to her office since 9 March 2011; their specific role and the level of salary they will be earning. [13393/11]

I have not yet appointed any special advisers to my office.

Social Welfare Code

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

173 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Social Protection her views on a matter (details supplied) regarding self-employed persons; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13477/11]

A self-employed person, who previously paid Class A contributions, may still have access to short-term social insurance schemes for a limited period of time, where they have the required number of paid Class A contributions in the relevant tax year. The relevant tax year is the second last complete contribution (tax) year prior to the date on which a claim for benefit is made. Thereafter a self-employed worker has access to social assistance-based payments, such as jobseeker's allowance, subject to a means test, if they are on low income as a result of a downturn in demand for their services or should their business cease. Contributions previously paid at Class A together with PRSI paid as a self-employed contributor will both be reckonable to establish entitlement to the Contributory State Pension upon retirement.

Social Welfare Appeals

Sandra McLellan

Ceist:

174 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will review an appeal for disability allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13498/11]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer, having fully considered all the evidence, allowed the appeal of the person concerned by way of summary decision. 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.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

175 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection, further to Parliamentary Question No. 175 of 10 May 2011, considering the average processing times are calculated employing the dates of finalisation, the reason it has not been possible in the past to provide figures for the longest processing times across various schemes in response to parliamentary questions on same and if she will now provide a breakdown of the longest waiting times for a decision on appeals for each scheme. [13501/11]

I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that the report referred to by the Deputy is a report produced by the appeals computer system which generates the average processing times for appeals by scheme. The system works by calculating the number of days for each case from registration to finalisation and averages the total.

No report is available which shows the longest individual waiting times for decided cases and to design such a report would require an enhancement to the suite of reports currently available from this system. I am also advised that such information may in any event be of little value as the longest awaiting appeals are generally held up by extraordinary circumstances such as court proceedings.

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

Social Welfare Benefits

Simon Harris

Ceist:

176 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Social Protection if a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow is entitled to receive rent supplement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13504/11]

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised that the person concerned was refused rent supplement. The HSE further advised that the person concerned appealed the decision to the HSE Appeals Office and to the Social Welfare Appeals Office; both offices upheld the decision to refuse rent supplement.

Departmental Schemes

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

177 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason persons who have been in receipt of jobseeker’s allowance and subsequently take up work on a FÁS scheme lose their entitlement to apply to the Tús scheme; her views on whether this is a disincentive to unemployed persons availing of the FÁS scheme and if she will amend the Tús eligibility requirements accordingly. [13506/11]

Tús is a community work placement initiative which will provide up to 5,000 short-term, quality work opportunities for those who are unemployed for more than a year. Some €30 million has been provided in the Department's Estimates in 2011 to fund the roll-out of the initiative. This initiative is delivered through the network of local development companies and Údarás na Gaeltachta in Gaeltacht areas. Participants will, in the first instance, be identified by the Department of Social Protection by applying the following conditions:

A person must be unemployed and in receipt of a jobseeker's payment for at least 12 months, and

Currently be in receipt of jobseekers allowance, and

Be fully unemployed.

The purpose of Tús is to focus on those people who are long-term unemployed. For this reason, eligibility is at present confined to those on the Live Register for 12 months and in receipt of jobseeker's allowance. These provisions are to ensure a targeted approach to those currently affected by long-term unemployment. Persons already in employment are not eligible for these positions. The operation of the scheme, including eligibility criteria, will be kept under review and will inform the evaluation process in due course.

Social Welfare Code

Tom Hayes

Ceist:

178 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason domiciliary care allowance claimants caring for small children, some as young as five years of age with epilepsy, are being refused despite the level of care and supervision needed by these children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13571/11]

Eligibility for domiciliary care allowance is not based primarily on the medical or psychological condition, but on the resulting lack of function of body or mind necessitating the degree of extra care and attention required. Children with epilepsy, or any other condition, do not automatically qualify for a payment under the scheme. Each application is assessed on an individual basis taking account of the evidence submitted.

The Department uses a set of consistent and objective guidelines in determining the medical eligibility of children for the scheme. Every application is assessed by one of the Department's medical assessors and an individual medical opinion, based on the information submitted by the applicant in support of the claim, is offered in each case. The deciding officer then makes a decision having considered the medical opinion provided and all the other information available.

In the case of an application which is refused on medical grounds, the applicant may submit additional information and/or ask for the case to be reviewed by a different Medical Assessor specially designated for this task. Where a person is not satisfied with the decision of a he/she may appeal the decision to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.

Joe Carey

Ceist:

179 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will allow those in receipt of the carer’s allowance to work up to 19.5 hours per week instead of the current 15 hours per week without affecting their entitlements; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13576/11]

A qualifying condition for the payment of carer's allowance is that the person receiving care is medically assessed as needing care on a full-time basis. While carers may work up to fifteen hours per week, any further expansion would necessarily dilute the very notion of ‘full time care and attention' and could directly impact on the person who needs that care. For this reason I have no plans for a further increase in the hours of work allowed from the current fifteen per week. When a person's caring responsibilities cease, they may transfer to another payment such as jobseeker's allowance and have their time spent in receipt of carer's allowance counted towards the community employment qualifying period.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

180 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection if she has considered extending the home-makers scheme disregard to apply to the State pension transition. [13584/11]

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

181 Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection the steps she will take to transform the home-makers disregard into credits and award these retrospectively to 1973. [13585/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 180 and 181 together.

The homemaker's scheme makes qualification for State pension (contributory) easier for those who take time out of the workforce for caring duties. The scheme which was introduced in and took effect from 1994 allows up to 20 years spent caring for children under 12 years of age or incapacitated adults to be disregarded when a person's social insurance record is being averaged for pension purposes.

To be eligible for the homemakers scheme, a person must permanently live in the State, be aged under 66, have started insurable employment or self-employment on or after the age of 16 and before the age of 56, not work full-time, although a person can work and earn less than €38 gross per week, care for a child (under 12) or an incapacitated person on a full-time basis.

The scheme will not, of itself, qualify a person for a pension. The standard qualifying conditions, which require a person to enter insurance ten years before pension age, pay a minimum of 260 contributions at the correct rate and achieve a yearly average of at least 10 contributions on their record from the time they enter insurance until they reach pension age, must also be satisfied. The aim of the National Pensions Framework is to deliver security, equity, choice and clarity for the individual, the employer and the State. It also aims to increase pension coverage, particularly among low to middle income groups and to ensure that State support for pensions is equitable and sustainable.

One of the changes outlined in the Framework will introduce a system of homemaker's credits to replace the current disregard from 2012 and allow backdating to 1994 for the purpose of the averaging system that will continue until 2020. This means that people reaching pension age after the credits are introduced will have credits rather than disregards applied to their records to cover periods of care since 1994 (up to a maximum of 20 years). This represents a significant improvement, particularly for women and those who take time out of the workforce for caring duties.

Upon introduction of the total contributions approach in 2020, the maximum number of credits applicable for pension purposes will be 520 (i.e. 10 years). It is intended that a standard approach will apply to the various categories of people who receive credited contributions, including jobseekers and people with disabilities. An implementation group chaired by my Department is developing the legislative, regulatory and administrative infrastructure required to put the necessary reforms into operation. There are no plans to introduce the changes outlined by the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

182 Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) in County Leitrim was refused carer’s allowance. [13642/11]

The person concerned made an application for carer's allowance which was received on the 30th April 2011. On the 21st May 2011, following an assessment by the Department's medical assessor of the medical evidence supplied, the application was refused on the grounds that the care recipient is not so disabled as to require full-time care and attention as prescribed in the social welfare legislation. The person concerned was notified of the decision and of their right of review or appeal, within 21 days to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office.

Social Welfare Appeals

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

183 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Social Protection if an appeal will be expedited in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry. [13718/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 22 December 2010. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 08 March 2011 and the appeal will be referred to an Appeals Officer, in due course, who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing.

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. This has significantly impacted on the processing time of appeals and, in order to be fair to all appellants, they are dealt with in strict chronological order. In the context of dealing with the considerable number of appeals now on hand, the Department has made a further 9 additional appointments to the office in recent weeks. 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.

Bog Purchase Scheme

Pat Breen

Ceist:

184 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport when a decision will issue on an application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13523/11]

In May 2010, the voluntary bog purchase scheme was closed to new applicants. Processing of applications on hand has been slower than anticipated due to capacity constraints in undertaking the conveyance work involved.

The Government recently announced a number of decisions regarding the future management of peatlands in Ireland and, in particular, the protection of bogs designated as Special Areas of Conservation and Natural Heritage Areas. In addition to the establishment of an independent Peatlands Council, the Government has announced a compensation package for turf-cutters in sites where continued turf cutting is no longer possible for reasons of environmental protection. 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 the availability of alternative compensation arrangements.

Inland Waterways

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

185 Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport the reason public berths recently taken in charge by Waterways Ireland at Leitrim village from a local development company (details supplied) has not been patrolled by officers representing Waterways Ireland; the reason a boat, sunk since January 2010 has not been recovered and removed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13640/11]

I am informed by Waterways Ireland that all of the works on the proposed public jetty at Leitrim village have not yet been completed by the developer to the satisfaction of Waterways Ireland. I understand that this has been the case for some time and there has been ongoing correspondence between the legal representatives for Waterways Ireland and the developer in an attempt to move matters to a resolution. Waterways Ireland has continued to follow up on this list of outstanding matters but to date have been unable to have these matters resolved.

I understand that Waterways Ireland did not at any stage take control of the jetty and, until the list of outstanding works has been completed, the jetty is deemed a private development in the ownership of the developer and is not the responsibility of Waterways Ireland. When all the works have been completed by the developer to the satisfaction of Waterways Ireland, it is intended that the jetty shall be transferred to Waterways Ireland for use as a public jetty and the Shannon Navigation Bye-laws shall be implemented in its management.

I am advised that the boat which sank at this jetty is the responsibility of the developer, who has management responsibility for the jetty. When Waterways Ireland was made aware of the situation on 17th December 2010, it made every effort to contact the registered owner of the boat. I understand that the boat is now afloat alongside the jetty.

Job Creation

Sandra McLellan

Ceist:

186 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport his plans to maximise the employment opportunities for artists in the interactive media games and digital graphics industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13270/11]

I refer the Deputy to my answer to Priority Question No. 30 of 11 May 2011 in which I stated to the House that I hope shortly to publish a review of the Irish audio visual production content sector in Ireland which includes interactive media games and digital graphics industry.

Departmental Funding

Liam Twomey

Ceist:

187 Deputy Liam Twomey asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport the amount of funding available for a centre (details supplied) in County Wexford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13340/11]

Funding of €136,683 was paid to the organisation mentioned in the details supplied by the Deputy under An Scéim Phobail Gaeilge 2008-2010 which is administered by Foras na Gaeilge. The funding was in respect of salary costs for a development officer, other administration costs and a programme of activities. No capital funding was approved. I understand from Foras na Gaeilge that the organisation has not been approved for funding under An Scéim Phobail Gaeilge 2011-2013 as it did not fulfil the pre-selection conditions of the scheme.

Ministerial Staff

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

188 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport the names of the special advisers appointed to his office since 9 March 2011; their specific role and the level of salary they will be earning. [13395/11]

I am currently in the process of appointing Mr Seán Mac Cárthaigh as one of my special advisers. Mr. Mac Cárthaigh's principal role will be to co-ordinate the implementation of the elements of the Programme for Government relevant to this Department and to provide advice to me in relation to my Arts, Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht responsibilities. I propose to appoint a second adviser in due course.

Imeachtaí Comórtha

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

189 D’fhiafraigh Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Turasóireachta, Cultúir agus Spóirt ar ceadaíodh airgead ag aon am do Chomóradh 75 bliain Ráth Chairn Contae na Mí, i 2010; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [13403/11]

Cheadaigh mo Roinnse deontas €20,000 (nó 50% den chostas, cibé acu ba lú) do Chomharchumann Ráth Chairn ar 31 Lúnasa 2010 mar chabhair chun clár imeachtaí a eagrú a raibh sé mar chuspóir aige ceiliúradh a dhéanamh ar an dtréimhse 75 bliain ó bunaíodh an Ghaeltacht ansin. Sainíodh go sonrach mar choinníoll den deontas gur i leith leabhair staire, deilbhe agus léarscáile a raibh an deontas á cheadú, seachas ar chostais a bhain le gnéithe eile den chlár imeachtaí a bhí leagtha amach.

Ní raibh ar chumas mo Roinne an deontas a íoc leis an gComharchumann go fóill os rud é nár soláthraíodh fianaise do mo Roinn gur comhlíonadh an coinníoll a bhain leis an ndeontas. Lorg an Comharchumann achomharc ar an gcinneadh sin agus tá an t-achomharc idir lámha ag mo Roinn faoi láthair.

Scéimeanna Caipitil

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

190 D’fhiafraigh Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Turasóireachta, Cultúir agus Spóirt cé mhéid airgid atá ar fáil i 2011 do na scéimeanna caipitil sa Ghaeltacht, an caiteachas go dáta; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [13405/11]

Mar is eol don Teachta, rinneadh laghdú mór ar an riar caipitil do mo Roinn don bhliain 2011, lena n-áirítear na scéimeanna caipitil Gaeltachta. Táim muiníneach, áfach, go n-éireoidh le mo Roinn a cuid tosaíochtaí a bhaint amach laistigh den riar caipitil a tugadh.

Léiríonn an tábla thíos an riar atá ar fáil i 2011 do na scéimeanna caipitil sa Ghaeltacht agus an caiteachas atá déanta go dáta.

Scéim

Riar Airgid do 2011

Caiteachas go Dáta

Deontais Tithíochta

1,000,000

437,465

Áiseanna Caitheamh Aimsire

1,300,000

316,668

Bóithre Gaeltachta

130,000

0

Grúpscéimeanna Uisce

20,000

0

Muiroibreacha

50,000

0

Iomlán

2,500,000

754,133

Fisheries Protection

Tom Fleming

Ceist:

191 Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources when the Cromane salmon draft net fishery will be opened in Castlemaine Harbour, Country Kerry, in 2011. [13255/11]

As the Deputy may be aware there is a statutory public consultation process currently underway in relation to the proposal to re-open the commercial draft net fishery in Castlemaine Harbour. The closing date for the receipt of submissions is 19 June 2011. I will make a decision on the matter as soon as possible thereafter.

Telecommunications Services

Michael McCarthy

Ceist:

192 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will provide a progress report on plans for a high-speed broadband connection scheme in Skibbereen, County Cork; the timescale for the completion of the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13539/11]

I am assuming the Deputy is referring to the Metropolitan Area Network in Skibbereen which, as with all the Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs) throughout the country 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. e|net remains available at all times to discuss the options for connection to the MAN with interested parties.

In addition, under the NewERA proposals in the Programme for Government there is a commitment to co-invest with the private sector and commercial Semi State sector to provide Next Generation Broadband to every home and business in the State. Consideration of how best to develop these proposals, is currently being advanced by my Department with other stakeholders across Government.

In order to accelerate the development of high speed broadband, my colleague Minister of State O'Dowd and I intend to engage intensively with industry. The discussions will focus on identifying private and State sector investment plans, removal of barriers to investment where appropriate, and establishing appropriate targets and programmes. The Next Generation Broadband Taskforce (NGBT), which includes representatives of large and smaller telecommunications network providers, will consider how best to roll out Next Generation Broadband. The NGBT will meet shortly to discuss policy and related matters. I expect that the NGBT will be helpful in terms of identifying the optimal policy position to deliver wider customer access to high-speed broadband.

Offshore Exploration

Joe Carey

Ceist:

193 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the research that will be undertaken by him into all relevant implications of exploration by commercial interests for natural gas here using techniques called hydraulic fracturing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13583/11]

Earlier this year, my Department granted onshore Petroleum Licensing Options to three companies over parts of the North West Carboniferous and the Clare Basins. The Licensing Options specifically exclude exploration drilling but may include shallow geological sampling. The Options are designed to allow the companies assess the natural gas potential of their acreage largely based on desktop studies of existing data from previous petroleum exploration activity.

Exploration activity under these authorisations is at an early stage and there is no certainty that it will lead to applications for follow-on exploration licences that would be required before exploration wells could be drilled. In the event hydraulic fracturing was envisaged as part of a possible future exploration or production programme, then that activity would be subject to an environmental impact assessment, including an appropriate public consultation phase.

State Property

Billy Timmins

Ceist:

194 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will outline where the State lands are as referred to in the attached letter of 31 March 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13615/11]

The lands in question are the former mine lands at Avoca, County Wicklow that have come into State ownership. It had been brought to the attention of my Department by a member of the public that the matters referred to in the letter, i.e. the alleged unauthorised entry onto State lands, which have been fenced and signposted as containing hazards, was taking place.

Having regard to the potential hazard to the public that was reported in relation to people being brought onto the site, The Chief State Solicitor's Office (CSSO) was instructed by my Department to pursue the issue and that Office has been in subsequent correspondence with the tour operator. As the matter is being dealt with by the CSSO, I have nothing further to add.

Telecommunications Services

Simon Harris

Ceist:

195 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his plans to ensure broadband capability in an area (details supplied) in County Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13235/11]

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. Therefore, the State only intervenes in the area of broadband provision in cases of clear market failure. Broadband services are available in the area referred to in the Deputy's question. Details of broadband services available in each county can be found on ComReg's website,www.callcosts.ie.

Public Procurement

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

196 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he has the responsibility to ensure that all agencies and semi-State companies under the aegis of his Department adhere to the public procurement procedures laid down by the Department of Finance; the systems in place to investigate any concerns raised by the public in relation to adherence to these procedures; the general systems in place in his Department to have oversight of this responsibility; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13288/11]

The procurement activities of the bodies and agencies operating under the aegis of my Department are day-to-day operational matters for those bodies and agencies. It is the responsibility of the board of each agency and company to satisfy itself that the requirements for public procurement are adhered to. Each body and agency submits an Annual Report to my Department under the Code of Practice for the Corporate Governance of State-sponsored Bodies of which compliance with procurement requirements is an integral component. My Department keeps all of the bodies and agencies operating under its aegis fully up to date with the Department of Finance's procurement guidelines and their obligations in that regard. As the Deputy will be aware, public bodies are required to comply with EU public procurement rules when procuring goods and services.

Telecommunications Services

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

197 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the oversight systems he has in place to ensure that the services delivered under the national broadband scheme are as per the agreement with the provider and in particular the systems put in place to ensure that customer service was put in place for persons who are experiencing difficulties with the delivery of this service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13366/11]

My Department entered into a contract with 3, a Hutchison Whampoa company, for the delivery of the National Broadband Scheme (NBS) in late December 2008. Since then, 3 has progressed its network roll out and since October 2010, NBS broadband services are available in all of the 1,028 designated Electoral Divisions covered under the Scheme, in line with contractual commitments. My Department has put in place robust monitoring arrangements to ensure that the NBS network delivers the minimum specified service or better to all users. Performance delivery data, which is submitted to my Department on a monthly basis or as required, is critically analysed by independent technical consultants, Analysys Mason Limited.

The monitoring arrangements provide information on a wide range of key indicators including the broadband excess availability in each cell of the network, the number of customers resident in that cell and actual contention and latency values. Utilisation thresholds are set for each element of the network and upgrades of the network and its capacity are automatically triggered at contractually agreed levels of traffic to ensure that the quality of the broadband service is maintained. In addition, a sample selection of customers is monitored for quality on a monthly basis. Download and upload speeds are sampled at a number of locations monthly to ensure that minimum speeds are met or exceeded.

The National Broadband Scheme contract guarantees service levels and imposes a service credit regime on 3 with significant financial consequences in the event that minimum specification service levels are not met. The contract also provides for independent monitoring and audit at any stage during the contract with a view to verifying that the services are being provided in accordance with the contract.

In relation to customer service, 3 operates a dedicated customer care facility for the duration of the scheme. Customers can contact this customer care facility 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by phone at 1800 944 791 (free of charge), via e-mail to NBSenquiries.ie@3mail.com or by post to 3 Customer Services, Hutchison 3G Ireland Ltd, PO Box 333, Dublin 2. Additionally, a team of field engineers has been established to address NBS installation and maintenance issues at customer premises. My Department also operates a dedicated NBS mailbox, which NBS customers can contact by e-mail, at nationalbroadbandscheme@nbs.ie, with any comments they may have about their NBS service. Information on the NBS is also available atwww.three.ie/nbs.

Ministerial Staff

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

198 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the names of the special advisers appointed to his office since 9 March 2011; their specific role and the level of salary they will be earning. [13383/11]

The Government appointed Mr. Finbarr O'Malley and Mr. Simon Nugent as my Special Advisers with effect from 28 March 2011 and 11 April 2011 respectively. My Department received sanction from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to appoint Mr. O'Malley at a salary rate of €83,337 per annum and Mr. Nugent at a salary rate of €97,200 per annum. My Advisers will undertake duties appropriate to the position of Special Adviser as set out in section 11 of the Public Service Management Act 1997.

Missing Children

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

199 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his plans for the setting up of the 116000 EU hotline number for missing children; if he will expedite the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13481/11]

I do not have a policy function in relation to the provision of a service for reporting missing children. The allocation of specific numbers in the 116 number range, which are reserved for services of social value, is managed in Ireland by the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg). The role of ComReg is limited to the assignment of the number to an appropriate service provider. Once the number has been assigned, it is a matter for the service provider to provide the service. Neither ComReg nor my Department has any function in providing such services or the remit to require any organisation to provide the service.

While the number 116000 has been specifically reserved for a hotline for missing children, it will not become operational until it is assigned to an appropriate service provider. ComReg has published an information notice on its website which makes all relevant information available to potential applicants who may wish to provide the 116000 service. It also issued corresponding national press advertisements inviting applications for the number in question. Unfortunately, to date, no applications have been received in respect of the 116000 service.

The Department of Justice, Equality and Defence and the Department of Health and Children, have policy functions in the area of missing children and child protection respectively and the question of providing a missing children's hotline has been raised with them. Officials from my Department are continuing to engage with those Departments on this issue.

Telecommunications Services

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

200 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the action he will take to stop unsolicited text messages; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13486/11]

The sending of unsolicited text messages for direct marketing purposes without the consent of the mobile phone subscriber or user is an offence under national legislation. The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner has statutory responsibility for monitoring compliance in this area. Any complaint regarding the receipt of unsolicited text messages should be directed to it for investigation and appropriate follow-up enforcement action.

If a person has unwittingly subscribed to a service on their mobile phone, which incurs an ongoing charge on their telephone bill, it is probable that they have subscribed to a premium rate service. The Commission for Communications Regulation has statutory responsibility for the regulation of premium rate services. Any complaint regarding such services should be directed to that body. Comprehensive information on the rights of individuals and complaints procedures is available on the websites of these bodies.

Eamonn Maloney

Ceist:

201 Deputy Eamonn Maloney asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the position regarding the provision of adequate broadband services in areas (details supplied) in south Dublin. [13522/11]

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 the broadband services available in each county can be found on ComReg's website,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 existing service providers are 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. The areas of south Dublin referred to in the Deputy's question were deemed to be adequately covered by existing commercial operators and were therefore excluded from the scheme.

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 are not capable of receiving broadband services. This is primarily due to technical and other reasons, such as suitability of a telephone line, distance from an enabled exchange or no line of sight etc. The European Commission has set aside a portion of the European Economic Recovery Programme funding for rural broadband initiatives. Using this funding, which will be augmented by an Exchequer contribution, earlier this month I formally launched a Rural Broadband Scheme. This scheme aims to identify the remaining individual premises in rural Ireland, outside of the NBS areas, that are unable to obtain a broadband service and to provide a basic broadband service to those premises where requested. Information in relation to acceptance of applications and the process of qualification under the scheme is available on my Department's website,www.dcenr.ie, or by contacting my Department on lo-call 1850 678100.

In addition, under the NewERA proposals in the programme for Government, there is a commitment to co-invest with the private sector and commercial semi-State sector to provide next generation broadband to every home and business in the State. Consideration of how best to advance these proposals is being advanced by my Department with other stakeholders across Government.

Energy Conservation

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

202 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will respond to correspondence (details supplied) regarding the domestic installation market; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13570/11]

I understand that officials from the Sustainable Authority of Ireland (SEAI) have met representatives of the association on a number of occasions. However, the presence of the energy suppliers in the retrofit market requires clarification. First, just one energy supplier is processing applications on behalf of customers. This is being undertaken on a trial basis with a view to designing an appropriate industry wide solution. The number of applications processed to date through this mechanism is approximately 300, which when compared to the 18,000 applications of a similar type represents a fraction of the total market. In other words, the vast majority of work and resultant employment arising from Exchequer aid being provided under the National Retrofit Scheme is being undertaken by the private sector. This situation will also pertain in respect of the additional €30 million provided for the scheme in the recent Jobs Initiative.

A second issue circulating is that energy suppliers have access to alternative funding arrangements from the Government. This is not the case. Any funding that the SEAI receives from my Department is made available on an open and transparent basis, as is evidenced by the Support for Exemplar Energy Efficiency Projects and Energy Efficiency Retrofit Fund programmes run by the SEAI in recent years. Some companies have private arrangements with finance houses, which they leverage to provide a one-stop-shop approach for customers. This is to be encouraged as it reduces the burden for customers seeking to improve the energy efficiency of their homes and represents a model for future activity.

In launching Better Energy: The National Upgrade Programme on 11 May last, I made reference to the importance of access to finance. The Government has demonstrated its commitment to this area by allocating an additional €30 million to the retrofit programme, which will support a further 2,000 jobs this year. While State support helps develop the overall market and incentivise action, it is not the long-term solution. Sustainable markets must develop, based on sound economics and available financing from the banks. Government has given a clear direction that support for domestic energy efficiency measures will cease after 2013. This is the right decision, as the retrofit market needs to wean itself off State subsidies and identify new ways of attracting consumers.

In this regard, I have directed my officials to bring forward a pay-as-you-save scheme that will seek to reduce or eliminate the upfront cost of retrofit measures for consumers. Key partners in the development of this innovative financing mechanism will be the pillar banks, which I anticipate will be willing and active participants. I stress that in this scenario, the resultant work will continue to be available to all participants in the retrofit industry.

Departmental Staff

Seán Kenny

Ceist:

203 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the number of persons employed by his Department by grade; and the pay scale of each grade in his Department. [13609/11]

Table 1 gives details of all employees of the Department by Grade. Pay scales for general service grades are available atwww.finance.gov.ie/documents/circulars/circular2009/circ282009.pdf. Table 2 details salary scales for our technical grades. Table 3 details salary scales for ministerial staff.

Table 1

Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources staff number per Grade 31/04/2011

Grade

FTE

Secretary General

1

Deputy Secretary General

1

Assistant Secretary

3

Principal Officer

15

Assistant Principal Officer

34.6

Administrative Officer

4

Higher Executive Officer

36.5

Executive Officer

46

Staff Officer

1

Clerical Officer/Typist

46

Systems Analyst

4

Junior Systems Analyst

2

Services Officer

6.5

Service Attendant

1

Storekeeper

1

Chief Technical Advisor (Energy)

1

Director of Comms

1

Assistant Director of GSI

1

Engineer in Communications

1

Sen Laboratory Technicians

1

Laboratory Technician

1

Staff Engineer

2

Assistant Staff Engineer

1

Executive Engineer

2

Principal Geologist

3

Senior Geologist

10.6

Super Cartography

3.5

Assistant Super Cartography

2

Chief Super Mapping

2

Super Mapping

1

Petroleum Exploration Specialist

2

Technical Assistant

1

Professional Accountant Grade 1

1

Geologist

3.6

Project Geologist

2

Geological Asst

6

Lab Technician

1

Legal Advisor (AP)

1

Personal Assistant to the Minister

1

Special Adviser to Minister (PO Standard Scale)

1

Special Advisor (PO Higher Scale)

1

Personal Secretary to the Minister

1

Personal Assistant to Minister of State

1

Personal Secretary to the Minister of State

1

Civilian Driver (€631.75 per week)

4

Table 2

Professional and Technical Pay Scales for Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

1364(1)

C49

ASST DIR GEOLOGICAL SURVEY

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€78,939.00

€82,493.00

€86,036.00

€89,588.00

€92,672.00

€95,550.00

NMAX

LSI1

€98,424.00

LSI2

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

61364(9)

O52

ASST DIR GEOLOGICAL SURVEY — PPC

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€82,964.00

€86,701.00

€90,434.00

€94,170.00

€97,416.00

€100,447.00

NMAX

LSI1

€103,472.00

LSI2

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

1101(Y)

B93

ASST DIRECTOR OF COMM BUSINESS TECH

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€80,051.00

€83,337.00

€86,604.00

€89,898.00

€92,672.00

€95,550.00

NMAX

LSI1

€98,424.00

LSI2

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

61101(8)

O11

ASST DIRECTOR OF COMM BUSINESS TECH PPC

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€84,132.00

€87,595.00

€91,033.00

€94,496.00

€97,417.00

€100,446.00

NMAX

LSI1

€103,472.00

LSI2

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

7055(6)

I45

ASST SUPERINTENDENT OS & GSI

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€36,343.00

€37,282.00

€38,119.00

€38,926.00

€39,726.00

€40,550.00

NMAX

€41,804.00

€43,060.00

LSI1

LSI2

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

67055(3)

S62

ASST SUPERINTENDENT OS & GSI -PPC

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€38,219.00

€39,210.00

€40,087.00

€40,934.00

€41,781.00

€42,641.00

NMAX

€43,967.00

€45,292.00

LSI1

LSI2

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

7296(6)

J11

CARTOGRAPHER ORD SURV AND GSI

01 Jan 2010

Weekly

Budget 2009

€539.12

€557.76

€573.52

€588.29

€603.61

€619.33

€634.98

€651.67

€666.82

€683.32

€705.89

€727.75

NMAX

LSI1

€749.65

LSI2

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

67296(3)

S94

CARTOGRAPHER ORD SURV AND GSI — PPC

01 Jan 2010

Weekly

Budget 2009

€566.91

€586.37

€603.01

€618.49

€634.64

€651.15

€667.66

€685.15

€701.20

€718.47

€742.28

€765.35

NMAX

LSI1

€788.38

LSI2

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

3185(2)

E12

CHIEF SUPERINT MAPPING

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€45,800.00

€47,983.00

€50,171.00

€52,356.00

€54,541.00

€56,722.00

€58,914.00

€61,104.00

€63,030.00

€64,956.00

€67,051.00

€69,132.00

NMAX

LSI1

LSI2

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

63185(X)

P81

CHIEF SUPERINT MAPPING — PPC

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€48,165.00

€50,469.00

€52,773.00

€55,070.00

€57,374.00

€59,671.00

€61,973.00

€64,280.00

€66,287.00

€68,260.00

€70,448.00

€72,642.00

NMAX

LSI1

LSI2

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

312(3)

A91

CHIEF TECHNICAL ADVISOR

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€93,197.00

€97,015.00

€100,853.00

€104,158.00

€107,409.00

€110,665.00

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

60312(Y)

N34

CHIEF TECHNICAL ADVISOR — PPC

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€97,968.00

€101,993.00

€106,032.00

€109,507.00

€112,935.00

€116,386.00

NMAX

LSI1

LSI2

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

5355(4)

G55

CHIEF TECHNOLOGIST

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€55,678.00

€58,205.00

€60,430.00

€62,660.00

€64,935.00

€67,124.00

€69,353.00

€71,512.00

€73,685.00

NMAX

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

65355(1)

R43

CHIEF TECHNOLOGIST — PPC

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€58,570.00

€61,228.00

€63,569.00

€65,907.00

€68,239.00

€70,522.00

€72,871.00

€75,144.00

€77,432.00

NMAX

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

274(7)

A81

DIRECTOR GEOLOGICAL SURVEY

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€85,957.00

€89,399.00

€92,853.00

€96,295.00

€99,236.00

€102,335.00

NMAX

LSI1

€105,429.00

LSI2

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

60274(4)

N26

DIRECTOR GEOLOGICAL SURVEY -PPC

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€90,355.00

€93,972.00

€97,607.00

€101,234.00

€104,327.00

€107,584.00

NMAX

LSI1

€110,844.00

LSI2

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

61062(3)

W06

DIRECTOR OF COMM BUSINESS TECH PPC

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€90,355.00

€93,972.00

€97,607.00

€101,234.00

€104,327.00

€107,584.00

NMAX

LSI1

€110,844.00

LSI2

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

1062(6)

U88

DIRECTOR OF COMM BUSINESS TECHNOLOGY

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€85,957.00

€89,399.00

€92,853.00

€96,295.00

€99,236.00

€102,335.00

NMAX

LSI1

€105,429.00

LSI2

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

9311(4)

M13

DRILLER LAB TECHNICAN

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€33,036.00

€34,325.00

€35,482.00

€36,606.00

€37,781.00

€38,979.00

€40,117.00

€41,311.00

€42,504.00

€43,699.00

€44,897.00

€46,128.00

€47,364.00

€48,619.00

€49,572.00

NMAX

LSI1

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

69311(1)

U46

DRILLER LAB TECHNICAN — PPC

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€34,736.00

€36,091.00

€37,307.00

€38,496.00

€39,730.00

€40,989.00

€42,190.00

€43,442.00

€44,701.00

€45,958.00

€47,218.00

€48,521.00

€49,818.00

€51,134.00

€52,146.00

NMAX

LSI1

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

4183(1)

F33

ELECTRONICS OFFICER

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€55,863.00

€57,165.00

€58,456.00

€59,757.00

€61,054.00

€62,351.00

€63,644.00

€64,956.00

€67,051.00

€69,132.00

NMAX

LSI1

LSI2

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

64183(9)

Q59

ELECTRONICS OFFICER — PPC

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€58,765.00

€60,132.00

€61,494.00

€62,862.00

€64,227.00

€65,590.00

€66,916.00

€68,260.00

€70,448.00

€72,642.00

NMAX

LSI1

LSI2

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

6266(9)

H53

EO TRAINEE ANALYST HIGHER

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€29,024.00

€31,094.00

€32,679.00

€34,219.00

€35,749.00

€37,247.00

€38,760.00

€40,233.00

€41,749.00

€42,760.00

€44,187.00

€45,251.00

€46,315.00

€47,379.00

NMAX

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

66266(6)

S05

EO TRAINEE ANALYST HIGHER PPC

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€30,516.00

€32,687.00

€34,360.00

€35,977.00

€37,588.00

€39,166.00

€40,760.00

€42,311.00

€43,909.00

€44,967.00

€46,473.00

€47,591.00

€48,713.00

€49,837.00

NMAX

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

6265(Y)

H52

EO TRAINEE ANALYST STANDARD

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€29,024.00

€31,094.00

€32,679.00

€34,219.00

€35,749.00

€37,247.00

€38,760.00

€40,233.00

€41,749.00

€42,760.00

€44,187.00

€45,616.00

NMAX

LSI1

LSI2

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

66265(8)

S04

EO TRAINEE ANALYST STND -PPC

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€30,516.00

€32,687.00

€34,360.00

€35,977.00

€37,588.00

€39,166.00

€40,760.00

€42,311.00

€43,909.00

€44,967.00

€46,473.00

€47,975.00

NMAX

LSI1

LSI2

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

4195(5)

F36

EXECUTIVE ENGINEER

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€30,738.00

€33,526.00

€36,327.00

€39,122.00

€41,927.00

€43,659.00

€45,387.00

€47,117.00

€48,840.00

€50,570.00

€52,299.00

€54,027.00

€55,757.00

€57,686.00

€59,604.00

NMAX

LSI1

LSI2

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

64195(2)

Q62

EXECUTIVE ENGINEER — PPC

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€32,317.00

€35,254.00

€38,200.00

€41,148.00

€44,096.00

€45,915.00

€47,731.00

€49,556.00

€51,372.00

€53,193.00

€55,013.00

€56,830.00

€58,656.00

€60,681.00

€62,701.00

NMAX

LSI1

LSI2

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

5254(X)

G37

GEOLOGIST

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€30,738.00

€33,526.00

€36,327.00

€39,122.00

€41,927.00

€43,659.00

€45,387.00

€47,117.00

€48,840.00

€50,570.00

€52,299.00

€54,027.00

€55,757.00

€57,686.00

€59,604.00

NMAX

LSI1

LSI2

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

65254(7)

R34

GEOLOGIST — PPC

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€32,317.00

€35,254.00

€38,200.00

€41,148.00

€44,096.00

€45,915.00

€47,731.00

€49,556.00

€51,372.00

€53,193.00

€55,013.00

€56,830.00

€58,656.00

€60,681.00

€62,701.00

NMAX

LSI1

LSI2

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

7774(7)

K31

HEAD SERVICES OFFICER

01 Jan 2010

Weekly

Budget 2009

€536.22

€554.24

€571.97

€589.80

€607.56

€625.33

NMAX

€646.52

€669.87

LSI1

LSI2

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

67774(4)

T65

HEAD SERVICES OFFICER — PPC

01 Jan 2010

Weekly

Budget 2009

€563.97

€582.68

€601.37

€620.09

€638.78

€657.50

NMAX

€679.80

€704.36

LSI1

LSI2

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

5061(X)

F78

HEO SYSTEMS ANALYST HIGHER

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€46,426.00

€47,730.00

€49,035.00

€50,347.00

€51,653.00

€53,532.00

€54,766.00

€56,007.00

€57,251.00

NMAX

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

65061(7)

Q94

HEO SYSTEMS ANALYST HIGHER PPC

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€48,831.00

€50,204.00

€51,581.00

€52,955.00

€54,329.00

€56,314.00

€57,614.00

€58,918.00

€60,224.00

NMAX

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

5060(1)

F77

HEO SYSTEMS ANALYST STANDARD

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€43,816.00

€45,125.00

€46,426.00

€47,730.00

€49,035.00

€50,347.00

€51,653.00

€53,532.00

€55,415.00

NMAX

LSI1

LSI2

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

65060(9)

Q93

HEO SYSTEMS ANALYST STND — PPC

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€46,081.00

€47,458.00

€48,831.00

€50,204.00

€51,581.00

€52,955.00

€54,329.00

€56,314.00

€58,294.00

NMAX

LSI1

LSI2

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

7685(6)

K14

MAPPING DRAUGHTSPERSON

01 Jan 2010

Weekly

Budget 2009

€431.90

€444.59

€460.15

€475.66

€491.28

€506.99

€522.60

€538.28

€553.18

€567.72

€582.36

€596.97

€611.59

€631.93

€652.24

NMAX

LSI1

LSI2

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

67685(3)

T60

MAPPING DRAUGHTSPERSON — PPC

01 Jan 2010

Weekly

Budget 2009

€454.61

€468.07

€484.39

€500.73

€517.19

€533.62

€550.03

€566.11

€581.49

€596.84

€612.23

€627.58

€643.04

€664.42

€685.84

NMAX

LSI1

LSI2

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

137(6)

A49

PETROLEUM EXPLORATION SPEC

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€72,241.00

€75,131.00

€78,009.00

€80,893.00

€83,765.00

€86,652.00

€89,532.00

€92,411.00

€95,271.00

€98,132.00

€100,965.00

€102,320.00

NMAX

€105,511.00

€108,692.00

LSI1

LSI2

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

60137(3)

N01

PETROLEUM EXPLORATION SPEC -PPC

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€75,909.00

€78,956.00

€81,986.00

€85,018.00

€88,045.00

€91,079.00

€94,112.00

€97,141.00

€100,154.00

€103,166.00

€106,148.00

€107,579.00

NMAX

€110,933.00

€114,278.00

LSI1

LSI2

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

2364(7)

D83

PRINCIPAL GEOLOGIST

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€65,247.00

€67,219.00

€69,195.00

€71,169.00

€73,135.00

€75,476.00

NMAX

€78,146.00

€80,814.00

LSI1

LSI2

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

62364(4)

P58

PRINCIPAL GEOLOGIST — PPC

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€68,553.00

€70,626.00

€72,706.00

€74,781.00

€76,853.00

€79,319.00

NMAX

€82,126.00

€84,935.00

LSI1

LSI2

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

3044(9)

D91

SENIOR GEOLOGIST

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€55,863.00

€57,165.00

€58,456.00

€59,757.00

€61,054.00

€62,351.00

€63,644.00

€64,956.00

€67,051.00

€69,132.00

NMAX

LSI1

LSI2

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

63044(6)

P64

SENIOR GEOLOGIST — PPC

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€58,765.00

€60,132.00

€61,494.00

€62,862.00

€64,227.00

€65,590.00

€66,916.00

€68,260.00

€70,448.00

€72,642.00

NMAX

LSI1

LSI2

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

67000(6)

X74

SENIOR LABORATORY ANALYST -PPC

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€47,842.00

€50,047.00

€52,001.00

€54,001.00

€56,059.00

€58,088.00

€60,173.00

€62,238.00

€64,315.00

NMAX

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

7000(9)

X73

SENIOR LABORATORY ANALYST

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€45,489.00

€47,583.00

€49,437.00

€51,339.00

€53,296.00

€55,218.00

€57,202.00

€59,164.00

€61,136.00

NMAX

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

8315(1)

L19

SERVICES ATTENDANT

01 Jan 2010

Weekly

Budget 2009

€398.74

€405.29

€416.47

€432.43

€453.24

€469.40

€489.28

€505.57

€524.65

NMAX

LSI1

LSI2

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

68315(9)

U10

SERVICES ATTENDANT — PPC

01 Jan 2010

Weekly

Budget 2009

€416.49

€423.54

€438.10

€455.18

€477.08

€494.13

€515.05

€532.14

€552.08

NMAX

LSI1

LSI2

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

2135(Y)

D35

STAFF ENGINEER

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€65,247.00

€67,219.00

€69,195.00

€71,169.00

€73,135.00

€75,476.00

NMAX

€78,146.00

€80,814.00

LSI1

LSI2

Grade Code

Hrms Code

Grade Title

Date Effective

Weekly/Annual

Nature of Inc

62135(8)

P15

STAFF ENGINEER — PPC

01 Jan 2010

Annual

Budget 2009

€68,553.00

€70,626.00

€72,706.00

€74,781.00

€76,853.00

€79,319.00

NMAX

€82,126.00

€84,935.00

LSI1

LSI2

Table 3

Pay Scales for Personal Secretary and Personal Assistant

Point

Personal Secretary Rate

Personal Assistant Rate

1

456.50

43,715

2

484.19

45,485

3

517.06

47,304

4

562.32

48,520

5

607.61

49,790

6

655.33

51,365

7

702.38

52,925

8

746.36

9

791.20

10

833.84

11

865.47

12

880.41

LSI 1

899.48

54,490

LSI 2

915.20

56,060

Local Authority Funding

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

204 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the financial assistance available to a local authority for works (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13253/11]

I refer to the reply to Question No. 85 of 19 May 2011 which sets out the position in relation to this matter.

Toxic Waste

Sandra McLellan

Ceist:

205 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the cost, in 2008, 2009, 2010 and to date in 2011, of dealing with all State responsibilities relating to the former Ispat site at Haulbowline, County Cork; if he will provide a breakdown of these costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13262/11]

Between 2004 and 2010, my Department had an interim role in the management of the former Ispat site in a manner that is consistent with good practice and minimisation of risk to human health and the environment. In that context, my Department arranged for the decontamination and demolition of buildings on the site and, post-demolition, for the procurement of a contractor to carry out site surface clearance, back-filling of voids and the disposal of surface wastes. The costs incurred by my Department from 2008 to 2010 were: 2008, €43.206 million; 2009, €0.714 million; and 2010, €2.029 million. In 2008, the bulk of the expenditure related to the disposal of hazardous material abroad as the facilities to handle such material were not available in Ireland. In 2009 and 2010, expenditure included meeting ongoing site monitoring costs, and a financial settlement last year in relation to a court case taken by former contractors involved in site surface clearance, which was settled for €1.8 million plus costs. No payments have been made to date in 2011.

Voluntary Sector

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

206 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will introduce a national policy on volunteering to coincide with the European Year of Volunteering 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13279/11]

My Department funds a network of 22 Volunteer Centres nationally. It also funds Volunteer Centres Ireland (VCI) and Volunteering Ireland, which are the umbrella bodies responsible for developing best practice within the network. VCI and its member centres encourage all community and voluntary organisations that work with volunteers to have in place a suitable volunteer policy. The development of a volunteer policy is an integral part of the management training currently provided by Volunteer Centres to organisations engaging volunteers.

There are a number of charters on volunteering available within the community and voluntary sector. One such charter is the Charter for Effective Volunteering, which has been developed by Volunteering Ireland and is widely used within the sector. It is important that each individual community and voluntary organisation adapts a charter to suit the particular needs of its organisation and its overall context. One of the key objectives of the European Year of Volunteering is to work towards an enabling environment for volunteering, which includes the development of a National Policy on Volunteering. The Irish national steering group for the European Year of Volunteering, on which my Department is represented, is working with the national co-ordinating body for the year, Volunteering Ireland, to bring forward the development of a National Policy on Volunteering in line with initiatives taken in this area by the European Commission.

Building Regulations

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

207 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 62 to 64, inclusive, of 24 March 2011, if he will provide the full briefing notes and advice he received regarding the issues raised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13868/11]

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

222 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide a briefing to Government and Opposition Deputies on the pyrite problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13497/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 207 and 222 together.

The reply to Questions Nos. 62, 63 and 64 of 24 March last dealt comprehensively with the matters raised therein. I will be happy to respond to any additional concerns which Deputies may have in relation to those aspects of the pyrite problem for which my Department has responsibility. As I indicated in the reply to Question No. 133 of 25 May last, I am available to meet a representative group to discuss what can be done to help home owners deal with outstanding issues, particularly in the context of the High Court judgment that was delivered on 25 May and the relevant departmental responsibilities.

Motor Taxation

Billy Timmins

Ceist:

208 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the position regarding taxing business vehicles (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13226/11]

The position regarding the taxation of goods vehicles has not changed. To be taxed as a goods vehicle, a vehicle must be constructed or adapted for that purpose and used solely in the course of trade or business. If a vehicle is adapted, it must have the same characteristics as a goods vehicle in relation to space and accommodation for carrying goods and it must have limited seating capacity. The vehicle must also be used in the course of trade or business. Under section 2 of the Finance (Excise Duties) (Vehicles) Act 1952, if a vehicle is used in a condition or manner which would attract motor tax at a higher rate, tax becomes payable at that rate. In other words, if a goods vehicle is used at any time in a private capacity, it must be taxed at the private rate of motor tax.

Under Article 3 of the Road Vehicles (Registration and Licensing) (Amendment) Regulations 1992, a licensing authority must be satisfied that it is authorised to issue the licence applied for and accordingly, that it is the appropriate licence for the vehicle. It is thus open to a motor tax office to seek backing documentation to support an application for a goods vehicle licence, which is in effect a concessionary rate of tax. Such documentation could include, but is not limited to, a certificate of commercial insurance, evidence of registration for VAT or a Tax Clearance Certificate, or any other document that would assist in satisfying the licensing authority as to the basis for the application. It would not be expected that any person genuinely using a vehicle in the course of trade or business would have any difficulty providing such documentary evidence if requested to do so.

Form RF 111A Goods Declaration Form, which has been in existence for a number of years and is not a new requirement, constitutes the statement by the applicant that the vehicle is being used in the course of trade or business. This declaration should not need to be sought at every renewal once particulars of the vehicle have not changed, but it is normally sought at the time of first taxing as a goods vehicle and on change of ownership.

While the legal provisions governing the taxation of goods vehicles have not changed, evidence was brought to the Department's attention that high-powered, high-specification vehicles that would not normally fall into the goods vehicle category are being increasingly claimed as goods vehicles. In that regard, it is important that motor tax offices follow the requirements to ensure a vehicle is correctly taxed. If a concessionary rate of tax is being claimed in circumstances where it is not warranted, the concomitant loss of income would in the normal course of events have to be recouped elsewhere. In this regard, all road users should pay their fair share of motor tax in line with the relevant legal provisions. I intend to review the taxation classes currently in place for motor vehicles. I expect to complete that review later this year.

Departmental Programmes

Peter Mathews

Ceist:

209 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, further to Parliamentary Question No. 107 of 4 May 2011, the contact details of the local development company responsible for the Knocklyon area in south Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13232/11]

The Dodder Valley Partnership is responsible for delivering the Local Community Development Programme for the Knocklyon area of south Dublin. The company is based in Killinarden Enterprise Park, Tallaght, Dublin 24. It can be contacted by phone at (01) 4664200 and by e-mail at info@doddervalley.ie.

Community Development

Simon Harris

Ceist:

210 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the role of the local action groups; the services falling under their remit; the make-up of their boards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13234/11]

There are 52 Integrated Local Development Partnerships (also known as Local Development Companies), 36 of which are known as Local Action Groups or LEADER companies. These not-for-profit companies were established to promote and facilitate the development of their own specific areas. Many of the group areas of activity coincide with county boundaries, others are based in urban areas and some cover areas bridging two or more counties. The boards of these companies are drawn from community, farming and enterprise organisations as well as State agencies and Local Authorities. The companies are contracted by my Department and other Departments to deliver a diverse range of programmes and initiatives. The companies deliver three main programmes that relate to my Department.

Some 36 Local Development Companies (Local Action Groups) are contracted, on my Department's behalf, to deliver Axes 3 and 4 (LEADER) of the Rural Development Programme throughout the country. The groups are the principal decision-makers in relation to the allocation of project funding under this programme. Decisions are made in the context of the local development strategy of the individual groups and in line with Departmental operating rules and EU regulations. The main objectives of the programme are to improve the quality of life in rural areas and facilitate the diversification of the rural economy.

The individual measures and indicative allocations are as follows: diversification into non-agricultural activities for farm families, €16.66 million; support for business creation and development, €48.26 million; encouragement of tourism activities, €45.4million; basic services for the economy and the rural population, €49.61 million; village renewal and development, €54.2 million; conservation and upgrading of the rural heritage, €51.7 million; training and information on adapted and new skills, €29.45 million; and implementing co-operation projects, €10.7 million.

My Department also delivers the Local and Community Development Programme, the objective of which is to tackle poverty and social exclusion through partnership and constructive engagement between the Government and its agencies and people in disadvantaged communities. The programme is underpinned by four high level goals: to promote awareness, knowledge and uptake of a wide range of statutory, voluntary and community services; to increase access to formal and informal educational, recreational and cultural development activities and resources; to increase peoples' work readiness and employment prospects; and to promote engagement with policy, practice and decision making processes on matters affecting local communities. The Local and Community Development Programme is delivered at a local level through all 52 Local Development Companies and a number of alternative structures. Funding of some €63 million has been made available for the programme in 2011. The programme allocation has been maintained at close to 2010 levels.

Some 14 of the 52 Local Development Companies also deliver the walks scheme on behalf of my Department. This scheme has been developed as an innovative response to the provision of recreation trails that are sustainable and maintained on an ongoing basis. It is implemented by a team of 12 rural recreation officers who are directly employed by the Local Development Companies and involves payment to 1,804 landholders to maintain 888 km on 40 trails.

Litter Pollution

Kevin Humphreys

Ceist:

211 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will introduce a national “name and shame” scheme for those convicted of littering offences; if it will require legislation in view of the fact that a previous scheme run by Dublin City Council was unable to continue as the local authority did not have sufficient powers to publish this information; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13243/11]

The Data Protection Commissioner has indicated to my Department that actions taken by local authorities in publishing the names and addresses of persons fined or convicted as a result of littering or illegal dumping, whether by publication on their websites or by notices published in the local press and paid for by the local authority, would be in breach of the principles of data protection. These principles are contained in the Data Protection Act 1988, as amended by the Data Protection (Amendment) Act 2003, and in particular, by section 2A of that Act. Data protection legislation is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality.

Local Authority Funding

Sandra McLellan

Ceist:

212 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his plans to support the full implementation of the Cobh landslide programme, County Cork.; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13264/11]

My Department has provided significant financial assistance to Cobh Town Council for stabilisation works, necessary to ensure public safety, since the early 1980s. My Department remains committed to the stabilisation programme in Cobh. In order to ensure the best use of available resources and to gain a long-term expert view of the required works, my Department requested that an independent expert report be commissioned jointly by Cork County Council and Cobh Town Council. The councils appointed Malachy Walsh & Partners Consulting Engineers to assess the retaining structures in Cobh and to recommend remediation proposals, prioritising those works of greatest urgency. Since the finalisation of the consultants report my Department has engaged with both councils.

A number of site visits have taken place to ensure an appropriate programme of works is put in place so that the necessary public safety works are progressed as soon as possible. The two councils have prepared a prioritised scheme of works, to begin in 2011, which is organised into three groups for project management purposes. The tendering process for this work is in progress. It is expected that work on site will begin in July of this year. My Department has offered grant assistance for these works and sanctioned the employment of a Senior Resident Engineer and a clerk of works, on a fixed-term basis, to oversee the project. My Department will continue to engage with the local authorities to ensure that the accelerated delivery timetable for completion of these works is achieved.

Fire Stations

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

213 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the position regarding applications for fire stations (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13273/11]

The provision of fire services in local authority areas, including the establishment and maintenance of fire brigades, the assessment of fire cover needs and the provision of premises, is a statutory function of the individual fire authorities under the provisions of the Fire Services Act 1981. My Department supports the local fire authorities through setting of general policy, providing training support, issuing guidance on operational and other related matters and providing capital funding.

In order to enhance the capacity of the fire service, Donegal County Council submitted a comprehensive plan in March 2000 to replace all the fire stations in the county. The Council, in partnership with my Department, has made substantial progress in implementing this plan. It has replaced 12 fire stations following investment of some €11 million under the fire service capital programme. The following towns in County Donegal are now served by modern fire stations with full facilities: Milford (1998); Buncrana (2000); Letterkenny (HQ) and An Fál Carrach (both in 2003); Carndonagh and Donegal town (both in 2004); Killybegs (2005); An Clochán Liath, Glenties and Moville (all three in 2007); and most recently Gaoth Dobhair and Stranorlar (2009).

In 2007, an independent capital appraisal examined a number of options in relation to upgrading facilities at Ballyshannon and Bundoran. The appraisal recommended that the most economically and operationally advantageous option would be the amalgamation of the existing fire stations into a combined three bay station at Finner, located next to the by-pass and affording excellent access to both towns. This proposal, however, did not progress and approval in principle for the replacement of both stations was conveyed to Donegal County Council in July 2009. It is understood that potential sites have been identified by the Council.

In common with other capital programmes, my Department has commenced a Capital Expenditure Review of the fire services capital programme. Given the revenue cost overheads associated with each fire station, in partnership with Donegal County Council, all options in relation to the upgrading of facilities at Ballyshannon and Bundoran fire stations, including the amalgamation option, will need to be considered as part of this review. Further investment in the fire service in Ballyshannon and Bundoran will be considered within the current constraints on the fire services capital programme and will have regard to the Capital Expenditure Review, the fire authority's priorities, the extent of previous investment, the spread of existing facilities and the totality of demands from fire authorities countrywide.

Waste Disposal

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

214 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government in view of the increasingly problematic issue of waste and illegal dumping in Dublin and elsewhere, if he will consider strengthening legislation or look at new legislation to ensure proper waste disposal; the number of incidents of illegal waste activity that have been reported to Dublin City Council; and the actions taken on same. [13285/11]

Enforcement actions against illegal waste activity are matters for the local authorities and the Office of Environmental Enforcement (OEE) within the Environmental Protection Agency. My role as Minister is,inter alia, to ensure the necessary legislative provisions are in place to enable the relevant authorities to discharge their enforcement functions effectively and that appropriate penalties are available to be applied where transgressions arise. The 2005 report of the OEE, The Nature and Extent of Unauthorised Waste Activity in Ireland, identified the unauthorised collection and dumping of waste as a problem area which needed to be further tackled. The report drew attention to the measures already being taken, including the appointment of 120 additional enforcement officers funded by my Department across the local authorities.

In 2008, there were 8,151 waste enforcement notices issued and 695 prosecutions initiated. Overall, this represents a significant quantum of enforcement, consistent with the findings of an OEE report, Focus on Environmental Enforcement in Ireland, covering the period 2006 to 2008, which indicates that the handling of waste-related complaints has significantly improved. Specific information on the number of complaints regarding illegal dumping received by Dublin City Council and the actions taken in response may be obtained from the Council.

I am generally satisfied with the adequacy and appropriateness of the available enforcement powers and the maximum penalty of a fine of up to €15 million and/or imprisonment for up to ten years for waste-related offences. While I have no immediate plans for legislative change in these matters, I am keeping performance in this area under regular review. In that context, I will also be considering all relevant recommendations in the report of the EPA Review Group which I have recently published and which is available on my Department's website,www.environ.ie.

Local Authority Housing

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

215 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the allocation that has been provided to local authorities for the provision of one-off rural local authority houses in 2011; if he has issued any directive in relation to this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13287/11]

Funding for one-off rural dwellings is included within the general allocation for the provision of local authority housing within each housing authority's social housing investment programme. There is no separate provision for one-off rural housing.

Community Development

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

216 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will insist on co-funding on a 50:50 basis from the local authorities towards the cost of supporting the community forums in view of the reduction in funding from him this year and the new responsibility of the Department for community; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13289/11]

Our current economic circumstances mean that public expenditure has had to be substantially reduced across Departments, Agencies and programmes. As a result there are competing demands for very scarce resources from a wide range of genuine interests. The priority in these circumstances is to limit to the greatest extent possible the impact of expenditure reductions on essential services and on those most in need.

In this context, following review, a provision of €587,000 was provided in my Department's Vote for 2011 to support the Community and Voluntary Fora in each county/city council area. This funding is in addition to the financial support provided by local authorities for the participation by Fora representatives on County/City Development Boards, Strategic Policy Committees and Joint Policing Committees. Local authorities are providing additional supports to Community and Voluntary Fora. However, the provision of matched funding by local government to a Community and Voluntary Forum is a matter for each county/city council concerned, in line with its estimates process having regard to competing priorities and demands.

Ministerial Staff

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

217 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the names of the special advisers appointed to his office since 9 March 2011; their specific role and the level of salary they will be earning. [13388/11]

In accordance with the Instructions on Ministerial Appointments for the 31st Dáil, Ms Claire Langton was appointed as a special adviser to my office on 10 March 2011. Ms Langton has been placed on the first point of the Principal Officer (standard scale) in accordance with the instructions. My colleague, the Minister of State with responsibility for Housing and Planning, Deputy Penrose, is arranging for the appointment of special advisers. These will be completed as soon as possible. All special advisers appointed to my Department are required to perform any duties, which may be assigned to them from time to time as appropriate to the position of special adviser as set out in section 11 of the Public Service Management Act 1997. Their functions will include the provision of advice and the monitoring, facilitation and provision of assistance in securing Government objectives that relate to the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government.

Rural Development Programme

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

218 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the amount allocated to each integrated company under each measure under the rural development programme and the amount spent to date by each company under each measure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13428/11]

My Department is responsible for the delivery of Axes 3 and 4 of the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 (RDP), for which overall funding of the order of €427 million is available. The main objectives of the Programme are to improve the quality of life in rural areas and facilitate the diversification of the rural economy. Some 36 Local Action Groups are contracted on my Department's behalf to deliver the RDP throughout the country. These groups are the principal decision-makers in relation to the allocation of project funding. Such decisions are made in the context of the individual group's local development strategy and in line with my Department's operating rules and EU regulations.

The Programme has registered project activity of approximately €112 million, which includes €32 million in firm contractual commitments. A significant portion of those firm commitments are expected to mature during 2011. Expenditure to date amounts to over €70 million, which includes funding for a diverse range of projects from support for micro-enterprise in rural areas to the building and maintenance of community infrastructure and the provision of training in a variety of disciplines for rural dwellers. The Programme has been allocated €62 million in total for 2011 and, notwithstanding current challenging economic circumstances, project activity is accelerating and I am confident that full spend will be achieved in 2011. The following tables detail LAG measure allocations and expenditure to date.

Avondhu/ Blackwater Partnership Ltd

Ballyhoura Development Ltd.

Carlow County Development Partnership Limited

Breffni Integrated Ltd Cavan/Monaghan

Measure

Allocation

Spend to date

Allocation

Spend to date

Allocation

Spend to date

Allocation

Spend to date

311 — Diversification into non-agricultural activities

540,000.00

11,250.00

350,000.00

17,009.03

655,000.00

0.00

785,000.00

58,631.62

312 — Business creation and development

1,323,000.00

36,925.00

1,470,000.00

384,354.21

680,000.00

235,569.16

1,405,000.00

101,974.11

313 — Encouragement of tourism activities

675,000.00

135,554.50

1,340,000.00

266,725.18

1,300,000.00

283,858.73

1,795,000.00

371,389.45

321 — Basic Services for the economy and rural population

970,000.00

774,267.97

1,585,000.00

761,771.34

320,000.00

183,738.75

1,400,000.00

367,593.70

322 — Village renewal and development

754,000.00

218,935.37

900,000.00

71,861.87

879,000.00

265,604.69

984,000.00

0.00

323 — Conservation and upgrading of the rural heritage

1,306,000.00

306,429.46

1,116,000.00

87,738.55

1,565,000.00

12,290.40

1,368,000.00

13,975.15

331 — Training and information

595,000.00

26,710.00

1,240,000.00

162,414.20

760,000.00

136,915.89

585,000.00

14,436.53

341 — Skills acq, animation and implementation of local development strategies

728,248.00

8,250.00

937,816.00

0.00

713,542.00

0.00

966,095.00

0.00

421 — Implementing co-operation projects

355,000.00

4,687.50

400,000.00

12,650.99

230,000.00

0.00

340,000.00

3,700.00

431 — Running the LAG, acquiring skills and animating the territory

1,811,562.00

675,191.36

2,334,703.00

1,029,587.50

1,775,635.00

711,055.06

2,407,023.00

757,412.95

Totals

9,057,810.00

2,198,201.16

11,673,519.00

2,794,112.87

8,878,177.00

1,829,032.68

12,035,118.00

1,689,113.51

Cill Dara Ar Aghaidh Teoranta

Clare Local Development Company Limited

Comhar na nOileáin Teoranta

Donegal Local Development Company

Measure

Allocation

Spend to date

Allocation

Spend to date

Allocation

Spend to date

Allocation

Spend to date

311 — Diversification into non-agricultural activities

642,000.00

209,422.62

500,000.00

72,308.00

320,000.00

0.00

620,000.00

49,374.85

312 — Business creation and development

955,000.00

59,476.03

1,990,000.00

598,926.00

262,000.00

106,065.00

1,195,000.00

43,557.90

313 — Encouragement of tourism activities

665,000.00

2,736.75

1,550,000.00

242,251.00

790,000.00

31,384.99

1,130,000.00

27,769.77

321 — Basic Services for the economy and rural population

2,250,000.00

148,511.56

1,405,000.00

549,885.00

390,000.00

84,546.54

1,950,000.00

471,949.21

322 — Village renewal and development

1,307,000.00

1,202.80

1,129,000.00

80,315.00

532,000.00

181,704.00

1,714,000.00

120,546.30

323 — Conservation and upgrading of the rural heritage

1,414,000.00

11,619.55

2,178,000.00

33,802.00

558,000.00

40,262.85

1,548,000.00

225,883.12

331 — Training and information

1,295,000.00

67,213.07

960,000.00

57,950.00

300,000.00

115,119.37

450,000.00

35,365.31

341 — Skills acq, animation and implementation of local development strategies

987,958.00

0.00

1,125,823.00

0.00

381,932.00

0.00

1,033,521.00

0.00

421 — Implementing co-operation projects

310,000.00

0.00

385,000.00

8,500.00

180,000.00

0.00

625,000.00

10,302.02

431 — Running the LAG, acquiring skills and animating the territory

2,456,490.00

782,843.47

2,805,706.00

906,094.73

928,483.00

430,329.20

2,566,380.00

905,666.01

Totals

12,282,448.00

1,283,025.85

14,028,529.00

2,550,031.73

4,642,415.00

989,411.95

12,831,901.00

1,890,414.49

Fingal LEADER Partnership Ltd

FORUM Connemara Ltd

Galway Rural Development Company Ltd.

Inishowen Development Partnership

Measure

Allocation

Spend to date

Allocation

Spend to date

Allocation

Spend to date

Allocation

Spend to date

311 — Diversification into non-agricultural activities

235,000.00

75,116.87

240,000.00

19,950.00

585,000.00

22,920.72

220,000.00

4,837.50

312 — Business creation and development

920,000.00

60,271.80

1,250,000.00

162,761.03

1,165,000.00

187,715.09

895,000.00

38,539.17

313 — Encouragement of tourism activities

694,000.00

0.00

1,515,000.00

206,119.79

1,470,000.00

83,705.64

830,000.00

51,875.42

321 — Basic Services for the economy and rural population

750,000.00

55,385.47

830,000.00

13,259.73

1,753,000.00

872,664.41

970,000.00

531,657.94

322 — Village renewal and development

1,039,000.00

2,341.35

939,000.00

119,121.96

2,163,000.00

239,466.75

1,193,000.00

67,850.39

323 — Conservation and upgrading of the rural heritage

907,000.00

9,795.00

1,065,000.00

14,150.49

2,325,000.00

44,053.40

1,062,000.00

175,535.48

331 — Training and information

825,000.00

95,969.95

880,000.00

61,728.85

1,150,000.00

99,029.40

580,000.00

76,643.25

341 — Skills acq, animation and implementation of local development strategies

633,424.00

0.00

776,172.00

7,750.00

1,225,338.00

0.00

673,914.00

0.00

421 — Implementing co-operation projects

210,000.00

2,792.77

240,000.00

2,500.00

370,000.00

0.00

205,000.00

0.00

431 — Running the LAG, acquiring skills and animating the territory

1,553,356.00

510,927.71

1,933,793.00

527,895.08

3,051,597.00

828,586.50

1,657,229.00

578,717.95

Totals

7,766,780.00

812,600.92

9,668,965.00

1,135,236.93

15,257,935.00

2,378,141.91

8,286,143.00

1,525,657.10

I.R.D Duhallow Ltd

Kilkenny LEADER Partnership Co Ltd

Laois Community and Enterprise Development Company Ltd

Leitrim Integrated Development Company

Measure

Allocation

Spend to date

Allocation

Spend to date

Allocation

Spend to date

Allocation

Spend to date

311 — Diversification into non-agricultural activities

125,000.00

58,422.00

450,000.00

90,062.29

700,000.00

75,352.00

330,000.00

24,644.63

312 — Business creation and development

1,260,000.00

143,418.00

1,680,000.00

529,855.59

1,630,000.00

108,485.00

1,220,000.00

118,169.02

313 — Encouragement of tourism activities

1,165,000.00

220,079.00

1,655,000.00

112,942.56

1,090,000.00

162,841.56

1,126,000.00

153,461.42

321 — Basic Services for the economy and rural population

1,257,000.00

598,815.00

785,000.00

217,646.33

695,000.00

410,835.17

1,170,000.00

492,715.22

322 — Village renewal and development

1,484,000.00

203,022.00

2,250,000.00

32,433.51

945,000.00

0.00

1,754,000.00

12,971.25

323 — Conservation and upgrading of the rural heritage

1,348,000.00

251,960.00

208,000.00

27,071.10

1,058,000.00

43,218.00

1,508,000.00

219,814.08

331 — Training and information

670,000.00

106,969.87

775,000.00

162,691.06

1,480,000.00

39,908.67

575,000.00

25,634.00

341 — Skills acq, animation and implementation of local development strategies

833,754.00

0.00

925,983.00

0.00

886,887.00

0.00

883,398.00

0.00

421 — Implementing co-operation projects

110,000.00

28,590.00

490,000.00

5,061.53

310,000.00

5,915.21

110,000.00

10,600.00

431 — Running the LAG, acquiring skills and animating the territory

2,063,189.00

751,512.88

2,304,746.00

906,452.54

2,198,721.00

667,588.22

2,169,099.00

730,560.97

Totals

10,315,943.00

2,362,788.75

11,523,729.00

2,084,216.51

10,993,608.00

1,514,143.83

10,845,497.00

1,788,570.59

Longford Community Resources Ltd

Louth LEADER Partnership

Mayo North East LEADER Partnership Co Teo

Meath Community Rural and Social Development Partnership Limited

Measure

Allocation

Spend to date

Allocation

Spend to date

Allocation

Spend to date

Allocation

Spend to date

311 — Diversification into non-agricultural activities

195,000.00

17,734.50

700,000.00

0.00

230,000.00

11,718.28

420,000.00

152,544.45

312 — Business creation and development

895,000.00

0.00

1,285,000.00

4,195.20

1,265,000.00

44,692.42

1,486,000.00

204,252.74

313 — Encouragement of tourism activities

565,000.00

30,633.25

950,000.00

93,281.97

1,070,000.00

211,692.12

1,140,000.00

309,188.30

321 — Basic Services for the economy and rural population

1,385,000.00

487,875.06

770,000.00

477,995.98

1,386,000.00

634,930.47

1,480,000.00

111,279.68

322 — Village renewal and development

1,559,000.00

151,669.66

1,040,000.00

278,428.20

1,395,000.00

246,595.29

1,664,000.00

70,102.05

323 — Conservation and upgrading of the rural heritage

742,000.00

42,035.90

803,000.00

57,277.16

1,457,000.00

313,469.47

1,799,000.00

42,690.42

331 — Training and information

690,000.00

198,398.55

510,000.00

23,011.33

625,000.00

95,200.57

855,000.00

214,007.30

341 — Skills acq, animation and implementation of local development strategies

707,288.00

8,437.93

710,852.00

0.00

873,515.00

36,169.95

1,025,017.00

0.00

421 — Implementing co-operation projects

233,000.00

8,000.00

303,000.00

0.00

300,000.00

13,338.64

330,000.00

0.00

431 — Running the LAG, acquiring skills and animating the territory

1,742,822.00

515,271.77

1,767,963.00

653,212.46

2,150,379.00

715,859.44

2,579,754.00

1,034,475.55

Totals

8,714,110.00

1,460,056.62

8,839,815.00

1,587,402.30

10,751,894.00

2,323,666.65

12,778,771.00

2,138,540.49

Meitheal Forbartha na Gaeltachta Teoranta

North & East Kerry LEADER Partnership Teoranta

North Tipperary LEADER Partnership Co

Offaly Integrated Local Development Company Ltd

Measure

Allocation

Spend to date

Allocation

Spend to date

Allocation

Spend to date

Allocation

Spend to date

311 — Diversification into non-agricultural activities

560,000.00

0.00

305,000.00

8,665.00

605,000.00

94,188.98

300,000.00

13,409.10

312 — Business creation and development

1,680,000.00

236,937.91

970,000.00

46,829.36

960,000.00

81,205.85

1,230,000.00

61,063.21

313 — Encouragement of tourism activities

1,700,000.00

362,041.94

1,075,000.00

33,250.00

990,000.00

83,124.25

1,340,000.00

236,796.03

321 — Basic Services for the economy and rural population

2,175,000.00

524,390.43

1,160,000.00

854,487.28

950,000.00

577,406.00

1,565,000.00

524,568.81

322 — Village renewal and development

2,451,000.00

71,536.18

1,588,000.00

143,811.95

1,394,000.00

125,200.21

1,595,000.00

537,354.65

323 — Conservation and upgrading of the rural heritage

2,270,000.00

55,857.48

1,409,000.00

29,103.25

1,224,000.00

283,987.70

1,393,000.00

94,124.41

331 — Training and information

1,160,000.00

122,399.33

720,000.00

66,083.29

595,000.00

82,909.22

460,000.00

59,182.00

341 — Skills acq, animation and implementation of local development strategies

1,387,048.00

0.00

855,106.00

0.00

788,407.00

0.00

933,392.00

0.00

421 — Implementing co-operation projects

440,000.00

28,228.64

365,000.00

27,990.00

260,000.00

26,044.87

400,000.00

14,500.00

431 — Running the LAG, acquiring skills and animating the territory

3,455,761.00

1,214,399.39

2,111,776.00

698,160.77

1,941,601.00

607,038.58

2,304,097.00

706,593.07

Totals

17,278,809.00

2,615,791.30

10,558,882.00

1,908,380.90

9,708,008.00

1,961,105.66

11,520,489.00

2,247,591.28

Roscommon Integrated Development Company

Sligo LEADER Partnership Co

South and East Cork Area Development Partnership Ltd.

South Kerry Development Partnership Limited

Measure

Allocation

Spend to date

Allocation

Spend to date

Allocation

Spend to date

Allocation

Spend to date

311 — Diversification into non-agricultural activities

1,214,000.00

81,768.72

284,000.00

85,550.55

205,000.00

40,926.13

340,000.00

42,216.86

312 — Business creation and development

1,754,000.00

212,363.67

1,160,000.00

134,799.00

720,000.00

374,707.59

1,800,000.00

154,498.82

313 — Encouragement of tourism activities

1,680,000.00

89,170.05

1,075,000.00

114,193.40

1,220,000.00

154,413.01

1,265,000.00

60,955.87

321 — Basic Services for the economy and rural population

1,285,000.00

438,064.14

1,265,000.00

918,552.75

1,310,000.00

393,964.94

2,550,000.00

523,343.70

322 — Village renewal and development

1,347,000.00

73,693.36

1,643,000.00

400,659.49

1,568,000.00

37,505.60

1,173,000.00

14,739.29

323 — Conservation and upgrading of the rural heritage

1,173,000.00

74,133.12

1,492,000.00

270,557.13

1,548,000.00

14,000.00

900,000.00

34,663.93

331 — Training and information

575,000.00

105,913.30

730,000.00

187,910.62

810,000.00

70,194.25

615,000.00

14,425.46

341 — Skills acq, animation and implementation of local development strategies

1,037,417.00

0.00

876,939.00

0.00

862,196.00

2,238.50

1,003,534.00

0.00

421 — Implementing co-operation projects

205,000.00

14,960.00

185,000.00

8,000.00

270,000.00

10,100.00

250,000.00

5,100.00

431 — Running the LAG, acquiring skills and animating the territory

2,567,604.00

943,825.29

2,177,734.00

690,249.53

2,128,298.00

838,440.32

2,474,133.00

865,277.57

Totals

12,838,021.00

2,033,891.65

10,888,673.00

2,810,472.47

10,641,494.00

1,936,490.34

12,370,667.00

1,715,221.50

South Tipperary Local Development Company Ltd

South West Mayo Development Company Ltd

Waterford LEADER Partnership Ltd

West Cork Development Partnership ltd

Measure

Allocation

Spend to date

Allocation

Spend to date

Allocation

Spend to date

Allocation

Spend to date

311 — Diversification into non-agricultural activities

575,000.00

90,262.01

400,000.00

56,448.56

250,000.00

44,170.76

425,000.00

156,644.39

312 — Business creation and development

1,185,000.00

289,006.56

1,815,000.00

202,574.68

1,310,000.00

11,243.73

1,700,000.00

136,000.89

313 — Encouragement of tourism activities

1,055,000.00

91,371.93

860,000.00

281,219.57

1,725,000.00

240,982.09

1,480,000.00

434,278.53

321 — Basic Services for the economy and rural population

1,115,000.00

448,998.99

1,810,000.00

1,281,950.16

1,140,000.00

600,026.38

1,450,000.00

720,905.15

322 — Village renewal and development

1,749,000.00

28,508.82

1,304,000.00

16,052.56

1,065,000.00

13,639.00

2,063,000.00

98,183.72

323 — Conservation and upgrading of the rural heritage

1,268,000.00

84,833.34

1,370,000.00

57,385.87

1,203,000.00

0.00

1,722,000.00

103,410.80

331 — Training and information

750,000.00

109,495.66

670,000.00

67,813.56

800,000.00

18,402.96

1,395,000.00

313,301.27

341 — Skills acq, animation and implementation of local development strategies

897,950.00

0.00

987,006.00

0.00

858,815.00

3,350.00

1,185,920.00

0.00

421 — Implementing co-operation projects

290,000.00

31,223.23

504,000.00

15,638.64

95,000.00

0.00

260,000.00

0.00

431 — Running the LAG, acquiring skills and animating the territory

2,221,237.00

676,060.43

2,430,001.00

838,440.32

2,111,704.00

706,149.26

2,920,229.00

1,031,668.54

Totals

11,106,187.00

1,849,760.97

12,150,007.00

2,817,523.92

10,558,519.00

1,637,964.18

14,601,149.00

2,994,393.29

West Limerick Resources Ltd.

Westmeath Community Development Ltd.

Wexford Local Development

Wicklow Community Partnership

Measure

Allocation

Spend to date

Allocation

Spend to date

Allocation

Spend to date

Allocation

Spend to date

311 — Diversification into non-agricultural activities

345,000.00

3,350.00

325,000.00

0.00

325,000.00

63,961.93

300,000.00

22,875.00

312 — Business creation and development

1,410,000.00

284,121.26

925,000.00

42,290.75

1,340,000.00

505,026.87

1,190,000.00

65,625.00

313 — Encouragement of tourism activities

840,000.00

7,810.00

1,435,000.00

155,576.33

1,460,000.00

285,567.19

1,165,000.00

162,316.00

321 — Basic Services for the economy and rural population

1,405,000.00

321,275.49

1,544,000.00

343,814.00

1,100,577.59

853,647.77

1,355,000.00

651,707.00

322 — Village renewal and development

1,155,000.00

128,109.35

1,405,000.00

40,352.29

1,616,000.00

241,160.47

1,450,000.00

105,582.00

323 — Conservation and upgrading of the rural heritage

1,148,000.00

134,415.31

1,387,000.00

38,329.42

2,127,422.41

25,276.27

1,325,000.00

57,384.00

331 — Training and information

615,000.00

50,025.70

600,000.00

61,709.47

720,000.00

37,630.49

960,000.00

43,085.00

341 — Skills acq, animation and implementation of local development strategies

810,201.00

0.00

888,648.00

0.00

1,003,452.00

0.00

893,448.00

0.00

421 — Implementing co-operation projects

270,000.00

4,687.50

280,000.00

11,275.00

320,000.00

1,100.00

270,000.00

0.00

431 — Running the LAG, acquiring skills and animating the territory

1,999,550.00

707,461.49

2,197,412.00

753,754.79

2,503,113.00

832,233.50

2,227,112.00

726,213.35

Totals

9,997,751.00

1,641,256.10

10,987,060.00

1,447,102.05

12,515,565.00

2,845,604.49

11,135,560.00

1,834,787.35

Noise Pollution

Dominic Hannigan

Ceist:

219 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his plans to continue the work of the previous Minister on noise pollution legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13437/11]

Dominic Hannigan

Ceist:

220 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his plans to extend powers to gardaí to enable them to stop noise pollution if requested by a member of the public; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13438/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 219 and 220 together.

The previous Government proposed to introduce legislation to address noise pollution. However, a Bill had not been finalised for publication. The current Programme for Government includes a commitment to address noise pollution through the introduction of fixed payment notices (also known as on the spot fines) and provision for mediation between neighbours. Submissions received as part of the previous public consultation process on noise, which was undertaken in 2008, will be taken into account by my Department as the approach to new noise legislation is considered, including proposals to extend powers to gardaí to address noise nuisance.

Social and Affordable Housing

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

221 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, further to Parliamentary Question No. 246 of 24 May 2011, if this policy applies also to persons holding a Stamp 4 who have been granted long-term residency by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service as a result of having lived and worked here for five years pursuant to valid employment permits; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13443/11]

I refer to the response to Question No. 246 of 24 May last. My Department will liaise with the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service to review the guidance to local authorities on these issues. The review will clarify the policy in relation to persons who have already been granted long-term residency by INIS.

Question No. 222 answered with Question No. 207.

An Taisce Funding

Billy Timmins

Ceist:

223 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the amount of funding allocated to An Taisce for each of the years 2003 to 2011; if funding was ever stopped or withdrawn during that period and if so the reason for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13508/11]

My Department has since 2003 continued to provide funding to An Taisce in respect of a range of environmental activities which it has undertaken, including the National Spring Clean initiative; surveying in respect of the Irish Business Against Litter initiative; the Green Schools initiative; and the Blue Flag Awards. Details of the funding provided in the relevant years are set out in the table.

Year

Amount

2003

448,651

2004

537,116

2005

519,941

2006

686,866

2007

895,958

2008

997,546

2009

700,229

2010

825,739

2011 (allocation)

520,000

Planning Issues

Billy Timmins

Ceist:

224 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the composition of An Bord Pleanála; when the positions are due for change; the criteria for appointment to the board; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13509/11]

Seán Kyne

Ceist:

232 Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the length of time An Bord Pleanála is taking to process planning applications and if any mechanisms exist or could be implemented to fast-track decisions relating to schools and community facilities. [13638/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 224 and 232 together.

An Bord Pleanála has a statutory objective to determine appeals and referrals within 18 weeks. The compliance rate with the statutory objective time period for normal planning appeals stood at 82% at the end of April 2011. The board operates a priority system for planning appeals. The priority system seeks to ensure that cases relating to schools and community facilities are not subject to any avoidable delay for determination. The Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2010 introduced a range of measures to improve the throughput and performance of An Bord Pleanála. The performance of An Bord Pleanála also remains under ongoing review through mechanisms in place under the Croke Park agreement.

The board comprises a chairperson and up to nine ordinary members. The Minister may increase or reduce the number of ordinary members as the level of demand on the board's services requires. Appointments to the board of An Bord Pleanála are made in accordance with sections 105 to 107 of the Planning and Development Acts 2000-2010 and Articles 56 to 65 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, as amended. The current membership of the board and details of the expiry of their terms of office are outlined in the table.

Board member

Appointment made by:

Date of Expiry of Appointment

John O’Connor (Chairperson)

Government

12/06/2011

Karl Kent(Deputy Chairperson)

Panel C

31/12/2011

Angela Tunney

Panel B

06/11/2011

Brian Swift

Panel C

02/12/2011

Jane Doyle

Panel C

31/12/2011

Conall Boland

Panel A

31/12/2011

Mary MacMahon

Panel D

26/11/2011

Fionna O’Regan

Panel A

06/02/2016

Panel A is the Physical Planning, Engineering and Architecture panel, panel B is the Economic Development and Construction Industry panel, panel C is the Local Government, Trade Unions and Farming panel and panel D is the Environment and Amenities, Voluntary Bodies, Charities, Rural and Community Development, Irish Language Interest, Disabilities and Young People panel. In addition to appointments from the panel system, under section 106(1)(e) of the Act, the Minister may appoint an environmental and sustainability expert to the board. The relevant statutory requirements towards the appointment of a new Chairperson to the board are being pursued as the current Chairperson is due to retire on 12 June 2011. The post of Deputy Chairperson is filled from within the ranks of the existing board members.

Local Authority Housing

Joanna Tuffy

Ceist:

225 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, further to Parliamentary Question No. 239 of 24 May 2011, if he will provide details of the incremental purchase scheme; if there will be discounts for tenants of many years standing in respect of the market value of the house; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13527/11]

The incremental purchase scheme, which will replace the tenant purchase scheme for existing local authority housing, will be introduced following the enactment of primary legislation. It is not possible at this stage to specify the terms of the new scheme but the intention is that it will be modelled on the incremental purchase scheme introduced in June 2010 for newly built social housing. That scheme allows social housing tenants and households that qualify for social housing support to avail of attractive discounts — between 40% and 60% of the total cost of the house, depending on income — to purchase a new social housing unit. There is no provision in the scheme for discounts related to length of tenancy. The scheme is structured to make it attractive for households to put down long-term roots in the community and to commit to an area, thereby contributing to more stable and integrated communities.

Walks Scheme

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

226 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the current status of the walks scheme; his future plans to fund and continue same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13532/11]

The walks scheme is operating on 40 trails that are managed by 14 Local Development Companies around the country. The scheme involves 1,804 participant landholders who are contracted to carry out maintenance work on the trails. In 2011, payments to the landholders will amount to some €1.9 million. The position in regard to new participants will be kept under review in light of the Comprehensive Expenditure Review now under way and the funds available to my Department.

Water and Sewerage Schemes

Michael McCarthy

Ceist:

227 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide a progress report on a planned sewerage scheme for the Skibbereen area; a timescale for completion of the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13537/11]

The Water Services Investment Programme 2010-2012, a copy of which is available in the Oireachtas Library, provides for the development of a comprehensive range of new water services infrastructure in County Cork. The West Cork Grouped DBO Scheme, which involves the construction of new waste water treatment plants at Skibbereen, Dunmanway, Baltimore and Schull, is included in the programme among the list of contracts in the county to start in the period 2010-2012. The Skibbereen sewerage network has been completed since 2009. Treatment facilities are in place on a interim basis pending the construction of the waste water treatment plant for Skibbereen. Earlier this year, my Department approved funding to allow Cork County Council to place the Wastewater Treatment Plant Design Build Operate contract for the West Cork Grouped DBO scheme with the recommended contractor at a cost of €6.9 million. I understand that the contract is now under way and that construction of the Skibbereen Wastewater Treatment Plant has commenced.

Housing Management Companies

Peter Mathews

Ceist:

228 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the protection in place for purchasers of apartments in order that they are aware of any shortfall in the finances of the management company and any future outlay to rectify building deficits; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13544/11]

The recently enacted Multi-Unit Development Act 2011 requires an owners' management company to prepare and furnish to each member an annual report including, among other things, a statement of income and expenditure relating to the period covered by the report, a statement of the assets and liabilities of the owners' management company and, where applicable, details relating to the operation of any sinking fund established for refurbishment, improvement and non-recurring maintenance. I have no function in relation to this legislation which comes within the remit of my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality.

Alternative Energy Projects

Michael Creed

Ceist:

229 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the planning regulations as they apply to wind turbines with vertical axis blades; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13578/11]

The Planning and Development Regulations 2001 to 2008 deal with the issue of wind turbines with vertical axis blades. The 2001 regulations set out the development thresholds for wind turbines which require an Environmental Impact Assessment. The 2007 regulations provide exemptions from planning permission requirements in respect of certain classes of micro-renewable technologies for domestic use. The exemptions apply to solar panels and other micro-renewable technologies such as wind turbines, heat pumps and biomass, subject to certain conditions in each case.

The 2008 regulations provide for planning exemptions for specified renewable technologies in the industrial, business and agricultural sectors. Wind turbines are included in the classes of micro-renewable technology exemptions applicable to agricultural sites. My Department also issued Wind Energy Development Guidelines in June 2006. These guidelines recommend an approach which seeks to identify, within the development plan process, key areas where wind energy resources are good and are capable of being exploited. Copies of the relevant statutory instruments and Wind Energy Development Guidelines are available on the Department's website,www.environ.ie.

Planning Issues

Dominic Hannigan

Ceist:

230 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his plans to legislate for a maximum allowable height of hedges and trees in the gardens of private dwellings in urban areas; his plans to address the issue of overhanging trees and hedges within urban areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13579/11]

Planning legislation does not place restrictions on the height of hedges or trees nor does it make any particular provision for recognition of a right to light or remedy from any other nuisance which may be caused by trees in an urban residential area. Complaints relating to matters such as trees or shrubs overhanging a property are normally addressed, where necessary, under civil law between the parties concerned.

Departmental Staff

Seán Kenny

Ceist:

231 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the number of persons employed by his Department by grade; and the pay scale by grade. [13606/11]

Some 1190.43 staff were employed in my Department at 30 April 2011. Details are outlined in the table that follows this reply. Orders providing for the transfer of the heritage function from my Department to the new Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the transfer of community functions from the former Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs to my Department will affect these numbers. I expect the transfer of staff consequent on the transfer of functions will be finalised shortly and will involve changes in staff numbers serving with a net overall reduction of some 371 staff. Pay scales for these grades are in accordance with those prescribed by the Department of Finance.

Grade

Pay Scale

Number Serving

ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER (AO)

AO HIGHER SCALE — PPC

3.00

AO STANDARD SCALE — PPC

5.60

ADVISORY COUNSEL GRADE 3 — PPC

1.00

ASST PRINCIPAL

48.50

ASST PRINCIPAL — PPC

22.50

ASST PRINCIPAL HIGHER

18.33

ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL OFFICER

ASST PRINCIPAL HIGHER — PPC

1.40

ASSISTANT SECRETARY

ASSISTANT SECRETARY

6.00

CIVILIAN DRIVER

CIVILIAN DRIVER

1.00

CLERICAL OFF

44.98

CLERICAL OFF — PPC

64.00

CLERICAL OFFICER

CLERICAL OFFICER HIGHER SCALE

24.23

VISUALLY IMPAIRED TELEPHONIST

VISUALLY IMPAIRED TELEPHONIST

1.00

CLEANER PART- TIME

0.81

CLEANER

1.00

CLEANER

CLEANER — PPC

1.00

EO HIGHER SCALE

31.20

EO HIGHER SCALE — PPC

3.60

EO — HTO

1.00

EO STANDARD SCALE

27.90

EO STANDARD SCALE — PPC

74.90

EXECUTIVE OFFICER (EO)

EO TRAINEE ANALYST HIGHER

1.00

HEO HIGHER SCALE

36.90

HEO HIGHER SCALE — PPC

1.00

HEO STANDARD SCALE

39.23

HEO STANDARD SCALE — PPC

52.30

HIGHER EXECUTIVE OFFICER (HEO)

HEO — INSPECTOR

2.00

PRINCIPAL

14.00

PRINCIPAL — PPC

8.00

PRINCIPAL OFFICER

PRINCIPAL HIGHER

8.80

SECRETARY GENERAL

SECRETARY GENERAL ENVR. AND LO

1.00

STAFF OFFICER

7.73

STAFF OFFICER

STAFF OFFICER — PPC

4.00

CRIERS TO CIRCUIT CRT JUDGE

1.00

CRIERS TO CIRCUIT CRT JUDGE

CRIERS TO CIRCUIT CRT JUDGE — PPC

2.00

HEAD SERVICES OFFICER

HEAD SERVICES OFFICER

1.00

SERVICES ATTENDANT

2.73

SERVICES ATTENDANT

SERVICES ATTENDANT — PPC

2.00

SERVICES OFFICER

18.00

SERVICES OFFICER

SERVICES OFFICER — PPC

8.80

ARCHAEOLOGIST

14.63

ARCHAEOLOGIST

ARCHAEOLOGIST — PPC

8.50

ARCHITECT

ARCHITECT — PPC

2.73

ARCHITECTURAL ASST GRADE 1

ARCHITECTURAL ASST GRADE 1 — PPC

2.80

ARCHITECTURAL/ENG INSPECTOR

2.00

ARCHITECTURAL/ENG INSPECTOR

ARCHITECTURAL/ENG INSPECTOR — PPC

11.00

ASSISTANT FIRE ADVISOR

ASSISTANT FIRE ADVISOR

1.00

ASST AUDITOR ENVIRONMENT — PPC

9.00

ASSISTANT AUDITOR ENVIRONMENT

ASST AUDITOR ENVIRONMENT HIGHER

2.60

ASSISTANT STAFF ENGINEER

ASST STAFF ENGINEER

1.00

AUDITOR ENV

10.80

AUDITOR ENVIRONMENT (ENV)

AUDITOR ENV — PPC

7.00

BUILDING SURVEYOR

BUILDING SURVEYOR

1.00

CONSERVATION RANGER

10.00

CONSERVATION RANGER

CONSERVATION RANGER — PPC

66.00

DIRECTOR METEOROLOGICAL SRVS

DIRECTOR METEOROLOGICAL SRVS

1.00

DISTRICT CONSERVATION OFFICER

DISTRICT CONSERVATION OFFICER

15.60

ENG GR 3 MECH/HEATING/ELEC

ENG GR 3 MECH/HEATING/ELEC — PPC

2.00

ENGINEER GRADE 1 CIVIL

4.00

ENGINEER GRADE 1 CIVIL

ENGINEER GRADE 1 CIVIL — PPC

1.00

ENGINEER GRADE 2 CIVIL

ENGINEER GRADE 2 CIVIL

2.00

ENGINEER GRADE 3 CIVIL

ENGINEER GRADE 3 CIVIL — PPC

3.00

HOUSING INSPECTOR

2.00

HOUSING INSPECTOR

HOUSING INSPECTOR — PPC

3.00

INSPECTOR PLANNING

1.00

INSPECTOR PLANNING

INSPECTOR PLANNING — PPC

1.00

INSPECTOR & ENG FISHERIES

INSPECTOR & ENG FISHERIES

1.00

INSPECTOR GRADE 1

5.00

INSPECTOR GRADE 1

INSPECTOR GRADE 1 — PPC

5.00

INSPECTOR OF AUDITS

INSPECTOR OF AUDITS

1.00

LIBRARIAN

LIBRARIAN — PPC

1.00

METEOROLOGICAL OFF HIGH SCL

9.50

METEOROLOGICAL OFF HIGH SCL — PPC

4.00

METEOROLOGICAL OFF STAN SCL

9.00

METEOROLOGICAL OFFICER

METEOROLOGICAL OFF STAN SCL — PPC

38.00

METEOROLOGIST

12.50

METEOROLOGIST — PPC

12.10

METEOROLOGIST HIGHER SCALE

6.00

METEOROLOGIST

METEOROLOGIST HIGHER SCALE — PPC

1.00

PRINCIPAL ADVISER

PRINCIPAL ADV HIGHER LEVEL

4.00

PRINCIPAL AUDITOR

PRINCIPAL AUDITOR

6.00

PRINCIPAL METEOROLOGICAL OFFICER

PRINCIPAL METEOROLOGICAL OFF

9.00

PROFESSIONAL ACCOUNTANT

PROFESSIONAL ACCOUNTANT GR 1 — PPC

1.00

QUANTITY SURVEYOR GRADE 1

QUANTITY SURVEYOR GRADE 1

1.00

SENIOR ADVISER

10.00

SENIOR ADVISER

SENIOR ADVISER — PPC

4.00

SENIOR ARCHAEOLOGIST

5.73

SENIOR ARCHAEOLOGIST

SENIOR ARCHAEOLOGIST — PPC

1.00

SENIOR ARCHITECT

SENIOR ARCHITECT

4.00

SENIOR ASSISTANT FIRE ADVISOR

SENIOR ASSISTANT FIRE ADVISOR

1.00

SENIOR BUILDING INSPECTOR

SENIOR BUILDING INSPECTOR

2.00

SENIOR MET OFFICER HIGH SCL

20.00

SENIOR MET OFFICER HIGH SCL — PPC

1.00

SENIOR MET OFFICER STAN SCL

16.00

SENIOR MET OFFICER

SENIOR MET OFFICER STAN SCL — PPC

18.00

SENIOR METEOROLOGIST

SENIOR METEOROLOGIST

7.00

SENIOR PHOTOGRAPHER

SENIOR PHOTOGRAPHER

1.00

SENIOR TECHNICAL ASSISTANT

SENIOR TECHNICAL ASSISTANT

1.00

STATISTICIAN

STATISTICIAN — PPC

2.00

SUPERVISING HOUSING INSP

4.00

SUPERVISING HOUSING INSPECTOR

SUPERVISING HOUSING INSP — PPC

5.00

SURVEY CONTROLLER

2.60

SURVEY CONTROLLER

SURVEY CONTROLLER — PPC

1.00

WILDLIFE INSPECTOR GRADE 1

3.00

WILDLIFE INSPECTOR GRADE 1

WILDLIFE INSPECTOR GRADE 1 — PPC

1.00

WILDLIFE INSPECTOR GRADE 2

7.00

WILDLIFE INSPECTOR GRADE 2

WILDLIFE INSPECTOR GRADE 2 — PPC

11.00

WILDLIFE INSPECTOR GRADE 3

3.00

WILDLIFE INSPECTOR GRADE 3

WILDLIFE INSPECTOR GRADE 3 — PPC

15.00

Craft Chargehand

Standard Payscale for Craft Chargehand

3.50

Craft Foreperson

Standard Payscale for Craft Foreman

3.00

Craftworker Basic

Standard Payscale for Basic Craft Worker

9.50

Foreperson Grade 1

Standard Payscale for Foreman Grade 1

1.00

Foreperson Grade 3

Standard Payscale for Foreman Grade 3

3.00

Guide

Clerical Officer Standard Scale

30.20

Guide — Head

Clerical Officer Standard Scale

7.00

Guide — Supervisor

Staff Officer

5.00

Horticultural Assistant

Clerical Officer Standard Scale

1.00

Horticultural Foreperson

Standard Payscale for Craft Foreperson

1.00

Office Foreperson

Standard Payscale for Craft Foreperson

1.00

Rural General Operative Band 2

Standard Payscale for Rural GO Band 2

32.00

Rural General Operative Band 3

Standard Payscale for Rural GO Band 3

23.50

Special Needs Student

Minimum wage

2.60

Storekeeper Clerk in Charge

Standard Payscale for Storekeeper Clerk in Charge

6.60

Storekeeper Grade 1

Standard Payscale for Storekeeper Grade 1

6.00

Stores Office Supervisor

Standard Payscale for Stores & Officer Supervisor

2.00

Total Number of Staff Serving

1,190.43

Note: Number serving reflects full-time equivalents.

Question No. 232 answered with Question No. 224.

Planning Issues

Dominic Hannigan

Ceist:

233 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the amount of time that an objector to planning permission has to comment on further information once they receive a letter notifying them that further information has been sought and received by the council; the onus that is on the planning permission applicant to put the notice of further information in the paper so that the community is aware of the latest development on the planning application; the length of time a council has to make a decision on receipt of further information from a planning applicant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13648/11]

Under Articles 35(1)(a) and 35(1)(b) of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001 to 2011, where a planning authority deems that further information received by it in connection with a planning application contains significant additional data, it must require the applicant to erect a site notice and publish a notice in an approved newspaper publicising the fact of the further information and the fact that submissions or observations may be made in writing to the planning authority not later than 2 weeks after receipt by the planning authority from the applicant (as also required by the Regulations) of copies of the site and newspaper notices in question, or not later than 5 weeks in the case of an application accompanied by an Environmental Impact Statement.

Article 35(1)(d) of the Regulations also provides that where significant further information is received, a planning authority must, as soon as possible, notify any person who made a submission or observation in relation to the original planning application, informing him/her that an additional submission or observation in relation to the further information may be made in writing to the authority not later than 2 weeks after receipt of the newspaper notice and site notice by the planning authority.

Under Section 34(8)(b) and (c) of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, where a planning authority, within 8 weeks, serves notice on the applicant requiring the submission of further information, the authority must make its decision on the application within 4 weeks of the receipt of the further information (8 weeks in the case of an application accompanied by an environmental impact statement); or if the planning authority considers that the further information submitted contains significant additional data which would require publication by way of newspaper and site notices, in accordance with the Planning Regulations, within 4 weeks of copies of those newspaper and site notices being given to the planning authority.

Employment Rights

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

234 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he has received communication from the European Commission through the EU pilot system in relation to the compatibility of section 22 of the Building Control Act 2007 with European law on free movement of workers; if he has or will reply to this communication; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13654/11]

I can confirm that my Department received the communication in question and that a comprehensive response was returned to the European Commission via the EUPILOT system on 10 March 2011.

Water and Sewerage Schemes

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

235 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government when he will make funding available for the Glenville waste water treatment plant, Glenville, County Cork in view of the fact that it is currently in breach of EU guidelines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13656/11]

The Water Services Investment Programme 2010-2012, a copy of which is available in the Oireachtas Library, provides for the development of a comprehensive range of new water services infrastructure in County Cork. While provision is made to commence contracts to the value of over €231 million in the county during the period of the programme, it was not possible to include the Glenville Sewerage Scheme among the priority contracts and schemes selected for inclusion.

The first annual review of the main Water Services Investment Programme is currently under way. Cork County Council has submitted an application to my Department to have a waste water treatment plant contract for Glenville Sewerage Scheme included in the programme under the review mechanism, which is being carried out using strictly defined criteria. The Council's application is under examination, together with review applications from all water services authorities, and a decision will be made in the near future.

Local Authority Housing

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

236 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the additional funding he will allocate to the housing services for which he is responsible for the refurbishment of bedsitter accommodation in the Dublin city area and throughout the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13667/11]

All rental properties being let for the first time after 1 February 2009 have to comply with the minimum standards regulations for the rental sector, including local authority units, and no new bedsits can be rented. However, in so far as existing accommodation is concerned, a period of four years to 31 January 2013 has been allowed for landlords, including local authorities, to undertake the necessary remedial works to ensure compliance with the minimum standards regulations. My Department has allocated some €78 million in 2011 to local authorities for the maintenance and improvement of their stock. These improvement works programmes include remedial action necessary to convert bedsits. It is a matter for Dublin City Council and other authorities, within their own improvement works allocation, to determine their improvements works programme including any remedial works to convert bedsits.End of Take

Visa Applications

Paul Connaughton

Ceist:

237 Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason persons (details supplied) cannot receive a visa to visit Ireland from the Philippines in view of the fact their parents have been living in Ireland since 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13521/11]

Based on the information supplied by the Deputy, I am informed by officials in my Department that they can find no record of a current visa application for the persons referred to. When completing an on-line visa application the applicant is assigned a unique visa transaction number. This detail must be provided where a query on the status of a visa application arises. The provision of this unique visa transaction number ensures that accurate and up to date information is provided to the authorised enquirer. If the Deputy can provide the relevant detail, I will ensure officials in the Visa Office make further enquiries and respond to the Deputy directly.

Information on the visa application process is available on the website of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service,www.inis.gov.ie. I 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 Investigations

Noel Grealish

Ceist:

238 Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when a file is forwarded by An Garda Síochána to the Director of Public Prosecutions and the DPP makes a recommendation for prosecution, if the contents of either the Garda file which was forwarded to the DPP or the file in the DPP’s office may be made available to the families of the victims; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13259/11]

As Minister for Justice and Equality, I have no role in relation to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions or the conduct of prosecutions. It is also the case that the Director of Public Prosecutions is independent in the exercise of his functions.

Deportation Orders

Sandra McLellan

Ceist:

239 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of deportation orders signed on Tuesday, 8 March 2011. [13265/11]

The signing of deportation orders is the culmination of a lengthy process during which time the full details of each application is examined and due consideration given to all aspects of the case, including the legal requirements, by officials of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS). This process also includes review of the relevant papers and submissions at more senior levels within INIS before being presented to the Minister for decision.

The number of deportation orders considered by the Minister at any given time is dependent on the volume of cases duly processed by INIS and the availability of the Minister taking into account his other commitments. The working practices of Ministers in this respect obviously vary also with the individual office holder. In some instances the practice has been to consider smaller numbers of cases on a more regular basis whereas for others a larger number can tend to be dealt with on a less frequent basis. Approximately 200 cases were signed by the then Minister on the date referred to by the Deputy.

Scaoileadh Priosúnaigh

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

240 D’fhiafraigh Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Dlí agus Cirt agus Comhionannais an bhfuil an chumhacht aige cead a thabhairt duine atá i bpríosún a scaoileadh amach, ar choinníoll go ndéanfadh an duine sin seirbhís pobail, sa chás go gceapann sé go bhfeilfeadh pionós mar sin níos fearr don té a bheadh i bpríosún, gur mó leas ina thuairim a dhéanfadh sé don phríosúnach, nach mbeadh aon chontúirt don phobal i gceist agus go sábhálfadh sé airgead ar an Stát; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [13277/11]

Tá an Dara Céim den mBille um Cheartas Coiriúil (Seirbhís Pobail) (Leasú) 2011, atá ceaptha chun úsáid Orduithe Seirbhíse Pobail a leathnú, curtha i gcrích cheana féin. Cuirfear tús le Céim an Choiste den mBille nuair a bheidh an coiste cuí curtha ar bun. Tugann an Bille seo éifeacht do ghealltanas an Rialtais córas gearrtha pianbhreitheanna a áirithíonn sochaí níos sábháilte a chur ar bun ar chostas níos ílse don cháiníocóir. Léiríonn sé prionsabal an tsrianta maidir le coimeád a úsáid, ar bunphrionsabal de chuid dhlí agus bheartas na hEorpa i leith príosún é. Tá mar aidhm aige, freisin, tearc-úsáid Orduithe Seirbhíse Pobail inár gcóras peannaideach a leigheas.

Cuireann an Bille dualgas níos troime ar bhreithiúna i dtrialacha breithniú a dhéanamh ar Ordú Seirbhíse Pobail a ghearradh ar chiontóirí arna gciontú i gcásanna ina bhfuil breithniú á dhéanamh ar phríosúnú suas le 12 mí mar phianbhreith. Mar atá luaite agam roimhe seo, tá breithniú á dhéanamh agam, freisin, ar chóras go bhféadfadh sé, tar éis molta ón mBord Parúil, go ndéanfadh príosúnaigh chuí ar ar ghearradh cúig bliana nó níos mó mar phianbhreith obair de chineál seirbhíse pobail a ghabháil orthu féin ar feadh tréimhse mar mhalairt ar an gcuid deiridh dá bpianbhreith a chur isteach i gcoimeád. Tá iarrtha agam ar mo Roinn iniúchadh a dhéanamh ar threoirscéim a thabhairt isteach ag baint leasa as forálacha an Achta um Cheartas Coiriúil 1960, arna leasú leis an Acht um Cheartas Coiriúil (Scaoileadh Sealadach Príosúnach) 2003.

Garda Stations

Arthur Spring

Ceist:

241 Deputy Arthur Spring asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if there is a maximum area in square kilometres that a station, with one garda assigned to it, is expected to patrol. [13292/11]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities that there is no set maximum area in square kilometres that a station, with one Garda assigned to it, is expected to patrol. Senior Garda management continually monitor available resources and policing initiatives to ensure the service being provided by Garda personnel is maintained at the highest level possible.

Missing Persons

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

242 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of children and adults classified as missing; and the position regarding a missing person (details supplied). [13303/11]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that 230 adults and 311 children were reported missing in the State from 2000 to 2010 who remain untraced. All incidents where people have been reported missing remain under investigation until such time as the person is located. The District Officer (Superintendent) in the area where a person has gone missing takes direct responsibility for all investigations and searches carried out. Local investigation teams are appointed by the District Officer, and all means necessary, including the services of specialist units, are deployed to assist in these investigations, as considered appropriate. The services of Interpol and Europol can also be availed of during such investigations, if necessary.

The Garda Missing Persons Bureau, which is responsible for all data relating to missing persons, provides expert assistance and advice to District Officers in all high risk missing person cases. The Garda authorities are satisfied that adequate resources, including staff and technology, are in place to deal with this issue and investigations are carried out in line with best international practice. I am informed by the Garda authorities that the investigation into the missing person referred to by the Deputy has been ongoing since her disappearance. All information received pertaining to her disappearance is followed up and thoroughly investigated, and the services of Interpol and Europol have been utilised. I am further informed that the family member in question has been kept appraised of developments in the investigation.

Garda Investigations

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

243 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding a case in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Meath. [13312/11]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that a statement of complaint made on behalf of the person referred to by the Deputy has been received and the matter is under investigation. An investigation file is currently being prepared and will be submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions for directions. The Deputy will appreciate that, as the matter is under investigation, it would not be appropriate for me to comment further at this time.

Garda Reserve

Seamus Kirk

Ceist:

244 Deputy Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he intends to expand the powers of members of the Garda Reserve to include powers attested to all gardaí under sections 4, 6 and 8 of the Public Order Act; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13342/11]

The range of powers and duties of Reserve gardaí is a matter for the Garda Commissioner to determine under section 15(5) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005. The role of the Garda Reserve has, as recommended by the Garda Inspectorate, been under review and I look forward to the outcome of that review. The Government remains strongly committed to the development of the Reserve.

Organised Crime

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

245 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if any Garda investigation has been undertaken into alleged criminality associated with some operations of the collection and sale of used clothes; the number of used clothes companies or groups in operation here; if these operations are licensed; if not, the reason for same; if there are any regulations governing the operation of used clothes collections; if he is considering any new legislation in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13345/11]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that they are aware of the potential involvement of organised crime gangs in the collection and sale of used clothes and that intelligence-led operations are in place to target and disrupt any such activity. Section 6 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud) Offences Act 2001, which provides for the offence of making gain or causing loss by deception, may apply to the type of activity referred to by the Deputy.

Certain collectors of clothing may attempt to convey the impression that they are charitable in nature, when this may not actually be the case. The Revenue Commissioners publish alist of organisations that have qualified for charitable tax exemptions on their website,www.revenue.ie. I recommend that members of the public check this list if they have concerns about the authenticity of any collector. The Charities Act 2009 will, when fully commenced, address this situation.

The new statutory regulatory regime for charities will be a Charities Regulatory Authority with extensive regulatory powers and a publicly accessible Register of Charities, upon which any charity operating in Ireland must be registered. It will be an offence for any organisation that is not on the Register of Charities to describe itself or its activities in such a way as to lead the public to assume that the organisation is a registered charity. This will limit the scope for non-charities to suggest that they are charitable in nature. By checking the register, the public will be in a position to distinguish between charitable and non-charitable collections and to make better informed decisions about which collections they choose to support. The commencement of this provision is contingent upon both the new authority and the Register of Charities being in place, and my Department is rolling out an implementation plan for the Act. I have no role in the licensing of commercial operations of the type referred to.

Ministerial Staff

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

246 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the names of the special advisers appointed to his office since 9 March 2011; their specific role and the level of salary they will be earning. [13392/11]

The Public Service Management Act 1997 provides for the appointment of two special advisers to assist Ministers in performing their roles and achieving the objectives of the Government. Ms Jane Lehane and Mr. Thomas Cooney have been appointed as my special advisers. They are both paid at the Principal Officer Standard Scale (€80,051-€98,424) and their role is to advise me on policy-related matters.

Residency Permits

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

247 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13399/11]

Arising from the refusal of his asylum application, and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was notified, by letter dated 24 August 2009, that the then Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why a Deportation Order should not be made against him. In addition, he was notified of his entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006.

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

I remind the Deputy that queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly 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.

Prison Committals

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

248 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of prisoners in Irish prisons aged 80 years or older; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13425/11]

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

249 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of prisoners in Irish prisons aged 70 years and older; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13426/11]

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

250 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of prisoners in Irish prisons aged 60 years and older; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13427/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 248 to 250, inclusive, together.

The information requested by the Deputy, which relates to the number of prisoners who fall into specific age categories, is set out in the table:

Institution

Age 60 to < 70

Age 70 to < 80

Age 80+

Total

Arbour Hill

14

4

1

19

Castlerea

8

3

1

12

Cloverhill

7

1

8

Cork

4

4

Limerick

1

1

Loughan House

1

1

Midlands

18

5

23

Mountjoy Female

2

2

Mountjoy Male

1

1

Portlaoise

7

7

Shelton Abbey

2

2

Training Unit

4

4

Wheatfield

13

3

2

18

Total

82

16

4

102

Garda Deployment

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

251 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the projected cost of Garda involvement in the visits of Queen Elizabeth II and President Barack Obama. [13431/11]

The Garda Commissioner is the Accounting Officer for the Garda Vote. In that context, I have been informed by the Garda authorities that a large proportion of the financial claims arising in respect of the visits mentioned by the Deputy have yet to be processed and, accordingly, they are not currently in a position to provide projected figures for the overall costs involved.

Citizenship Applications

Joe Costello

Ceist:

252 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will waive the requirement for a birth certificate for an application for naturalisation in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 7; if some other form of identification could be considered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13470/11]

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 June, 2008. Documentation received from the person concerned has been accepted and the application is at an advanced stage of processing. It will be submitted to me for a decision as expeditiously as possible.

As I outlined in response to Question No. 69 of 7 April last, I have initiated steps within my Department to provide for speedier processing of applications to bring about a substantial reduction in the processing timescale. The new arrangements will be publicly announced once my Department is in a position to implement them. The granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is a privilege and an honour which confers certain rights and entitlements not only within the State but also at European Union level and it is important that appropriate procedures are in place to preserve the integrity of the process.

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 Investigations

Seán Kenny

Ceist:

253 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the action that has been taken by An Garda Síochána to apprehend those responsible for the ongoing attacks on a home (details supplied). [13505/11]

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the area referred to is within the Coolock Garda Sub-District. Local Garda management is aware of difficulties being experienced by the residents referred to, and a number of incidents are currently under investigation. Two community gardaí have been specifically allocated to the area and regularly meet local residents to address any issues that arise. The area is the subject of regular patrols by uniform and plain clothes personnel, including the Community Policing Unit and Mountain Bike Unit and local Detective and Drug Unit personnel, supplemented as required by the Divisional Crime Task Force and Traffic Corps personnel.

Local Garda management closely monitors and keeps under review patrols and other operational strategies in place, in conjunction with crime trends and policing needs of the communities in the area, to ensure optimum use is made of Garda resources and the best possible Garda service is provided to the public. Current policing plans in the area are designed to address issues of crime and public order offences. Community policing is a central feature and core value of Garda policing policy, and current policing strategies are predicated on the prevention of crime, public order offences and anti-social behaviour.

Citizenship Applications

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

254 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Justice and Equality, further to Parliamentary Question No. 259 of 24 May 2011, his plans to ensure that detailed updates are made available by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service on individual cases, including details of the current status of the application; the projected timeframe for decision on the next stage of the process or on the conclusion of the process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13507/11]

As I outlined in response to Question No. 69 of 7 April last, I have initiated steps within my Department to provide for speedier processing of applications for citizenship to bring about a substantial reduction in the processing timescale. These new arrangements will be publicly announced once my Department is in a position to implement them. The granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is a privilege and an honour which confers certain rights and entitlements not only within the State but also at European Union level and it is important that appropriate procedures are in place to preserve the integrity of the process.

Housing Management Companies

Peter Mathews

Ceist:

255 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to amend the Multi-Unit Developments Act to ensure that purchasers are aware of any shortfall in the finances of the management company and any future outlay to rectify building deficits; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13543/11]

Section 17 of the Multi-Unit Developments Act 2009 imposes specific reporting obligations on owners' management companies. Subsection (1) requires such a company to prepare an annual report and to hold a meeting at least once a year to consider its contents, while subsection (2) specifies various matters to be included in that report. These include details of income and expenditure as well as assets and liabilities. The report must include specific details of the annual service charge and the basis on which it was calculated, and similar data in respect of sinking fund contributions.

It must also indicate the level of the sinking fund and provide details of any planned expenditure on refurbishment, improvement or maintenance of a non-recurring nature. The objective is to ensure increased transparency for apartment owners in the multi-unit development concerned and improved protection for intending purchasers. The Law Society's Standard Objections and Requisitions on Title already provides in the case of apartment sales that a vendor's solicitor must furnish a copy of the accounts of the owners' management company for the previous year, including details of any sinking fund and the level of the service charge. Moreover, on closing the sale, the vendor's solicitor must provide a receipt for the latest payment of the service charge.

Adoptive Leave

Clare Daly

Ceist:

256 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will consider amending the Adoptive Leave Act 2005 to allow either parent to take adoptive leave. [13549/11]

The issue of principle raised by the Deputy's question goes beyond adoptive leave as any proposal to allow either parent avail of such leave would require consideration of maternity leave issues also. I refer the Deputy to my reply to Question No. 115 of 19 May last: "there is currently no general entitlement to paternity leave in Irish law". The position is unchanged since then. There are no plans to amend the Adoptive Leave Act 2005 as suggested. However, the wider issue will continue to be kept under review. This is the reply to Question No. 115 of 19 May 2011:

The Adoption Leave Acts 1995 and 2005 provide an entitlement to adoptive leave to an employed adopting mother or to a sole male adopter. These provisions closely follow the provisions for maternity leave in the Maternity Protection Act 1994. There is currently no general entitlement to paternity leave in Irish law. Both the Employment Equality Act 1998 and the Equal Status Act 2000 contain (at Section 17 and Section 14 respectively) savers for other enactments, including the Adoptive Leave Act and Maternity Protection Acts.

Proposed Legislation

Clare Daly

Ceist:

257 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will consider making an amendment to section 23 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997 to substitute the word “parent” with “parents”. [13550/11]

There are no plans to amend section 23 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997. Section 23 provides for a minor of 16 or more to consent, as if he or she were of full age, to medical treatment that would in the absence of consent constitute a trespass to the person. Changing the reference from "parent" to "parents" would not have any effect on those circumstances where parental consent is required. Simply put, section 23 defines a certain set of circumstances where parental consent (whether of one or both parents) will not be required.

Clare Daly

Ceist:

258 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will consider legislating to impose sanctions on family law solicitors who have certified but failed to inform their clients about the possibility of mediating dispute as required under section 20(2) of the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964 as amended by section 11 of the Children Act 1997. [13555/11]

Under the law as it stands, a solicitor who falsely certifies that he or she has informed a client of the possibility of engaging in mediation in a child custody, guardianship or access dispute, as required under Section 20(2)(b) of the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964 (inserted by Section 11 of the Children Act 1997), may face a complaint of misconduct and be the subject of disciplinary action by either the Law Society or the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. Section 40 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 provides that the hearing of family law proceedings in private does not preclude the proper use of documents prepared for the purposes of those proceedings by a body empowered by law to conduct enquiries or investigations.

The Solicitors Acts 1954 to 2008 make detailed provision for the investigation of complaints against solicitors. Complaints of misconduct may be made to the Law Society which may itself investigate complaints lodged directly to it by members of the public, and apply a range of sanctions, or refer more serious complaints to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. Every client of a solicitor has the right, also, to make a direct complaint of misconduct to the Tribunal.

The Tribunal is an independent statutory tribunal appointed by the President of the High Court. It examines complaints of misconduct against solicitors and reports to the High Court. Where there is a finding of misconduct, the Tribunal can itself impose a sanction on the solicitor ranging from admonishment to a direction to pay restitution of a sum not exceeding €15,000 to an aggrieved party. In more serious cases the Tribunal may refer its finding and recommendation to the High Court to ultimately decide on the nature of the sanction to be imposed on the solicitor. The powers of sanction available to the High Court range up to striking the solicitor off the roll.

Garda Deployment

Seán Kenny

Ceist:

259 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of gardaí by rank in the Criminal Assets Bureau, Garda National Immigration Bureau and the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation. [13602/11]

I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that the personnel strength of the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB), Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) and the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI) broken down by rank, on the latest date for which figures are readily available, was as set out in the table:

Unit

C/Supt

Supt

Insp

Sgt

Gda

CAB

1

1

2

5

27

GNIB

1

2

5

19

151

NBCI

1

5

8

27

123

Responsibility for the allocation of resources, including personnel, within the Force rests with the Garda Commissioner, in consultation with his senior management team. Resource levels are constantly monitored, in conjunction with crime trends and other demands made on An Garda Síochána. The situation is kept under continuing review to ensure optimum use is made of these resources and the best possible Garda service is provided to the public.

Garda Transport

Seán Kenny

Ceist:

260 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of marked and unmarked Garda vehicles that are allocated to each Garda station in the Dublin region; and the number of Garda vans allocated. [13603/11]

I have asked the Garda Commissioner for the information sought in the Deputy's Question. I will revert to the Deputy as soon as the information becomes available.

Seán Kenny

Ceist:

261 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of Garda public service vehicle inspectors in each Garda district or division; and his plans to increase the number. [13604/11]

I have requested this information from the Commissioner and I will revert to the Deputy immediately upon its receipt.

Garda Deployment

Seán Kenny

Ceist:

262 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of Garda forensic collision investigators in each Garda district or division; and his plans to increase this number. [13605/11]

I am informed by the Garda Authorities that there are currently 54 Forensic Collision Investigators assisting in traffic collision investigation.

Region

Sergeants

Gardaí

Dublin Metropolitan Region

6

Eastern Region

8

Northern Region

4

9

South East Region

1

3

Southern Region

1

11

Western Region

3

7

Garda College

1

Total

10

44

Garda Vetting of Personnel

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

263 Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to improve the process of Garda clearance in the Sligo region. [13643/11]

The Garda Central Vetting Unit, based in Thurles, provides centralised vetting for all registered organisations nationwide. The organisation of concern to the Deputy is registered with the GCVU. The length of time currently being taken to process vetting applications is a matter which I am determined to bring down to an acceptable level. 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.

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 the process of recruiting these is underway. 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. 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 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. The GCVU has managed a substantial increase over recent years in the numbers of vetting applications it receives from around 188,000 in 2007 to almost 292,000 in 2010. At present, there are approximately 55,000 applications in the course of being processed.

Liquor Licensing Laws

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

264 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to the contents of a report (details supplied); his views on the findings and financial conclusions of the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13653/11]

The increase in fees applicable to Special Exemption Orders provided for in the District Courts (Fees) Order 2008 (S.I. No. 202 of 2008) was the first such increase since 2004. The current court fee is €300. The report referred to by the Deputy which was commissioned by the Irish Nightclub Industry Association has been brought to my attention. While I am aware of the pressures on licensees, I am also aware that there is a need to maintain a balance in this matter having regard to the considerable costs to the State which arise from late night drinking.

Earcaíocht Fórsaí Cosanta

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

265 D’fhiafraigh Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Cosanta cén uair a thosóidh earcaíocht san arm arís agus na cathláin den arm a bheidh i gceist. [13404/11]

Cuireadh earcaíocht sna Buan-Óglaigh ar fionraí i dtreo dheireadh 2008 go dtí go mbeadh athbhreithniú déanta ar na bealaí is fearr leis an laghdú 3% ar chostais párolla, a cuireadh i bhfeidhm ar Óglaigh na hÉireann, mar a rinneadh i réimsí eile sa tseirbhís phoiblí, a bhaint amach. Laistigh den gcomhthéacs, comhdhlúthú a dheánamh ar airgeadas poiblí tá an Rialtas dírithe ar éifeachtacht oibríochta Óglaigh na hÉireann a choinneáil. Chuige sin, rinneadh sprioc-earcaíocht i 2010 agus tá sin ag leanúint i 2011.

Deir na hÚdaráis Mhíleata go bhfuil ar an iomlán 265 Earcach Ginearálta Seirbhíse liostáilte go dtí seo i 2011. Tá 19 earcach fós le hearcú i mbuíon earcach na Seirbhíse Cabhlaigh agus tá siad sin le liostáil sna seachtainí atá romhainn. Níl aon phleananna ann le tuilleadh earcaíochta seirbhíse ginearálta a dhéanamh sna Buan-Óglaigh faoi láthair. Glacfar isteach le 30 dalta ón Chomórtas Daltais in 2011 agus líonfar roinnt ceapachán teicniúil freisin.

Le tacaíocht ón gCeann Foirne agus laistigh d'acmhainní atá ar fáil, tá rún agam cumas na heagraíochta Cosanta a choinneáil le go mbeidh sé ábalta feidhmiú go héifeachtach i ngach ról is ag an am céanna ag cur le geilleagair seirbhíse poiblí riachtanacha. Comhairlítear dom go bhfuil ar chumas Óglaigh na hÉireann, ag an tráth seo, tabhairt faoi na tascanna atá leagtha amach dó ag an Rialtas sa bhaile agus thar lear.

Defence Forces Reserve

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

266 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Defence the reason the Reserve Defence Forces were not used during the recent high profile visits (details supplied). [13444/11]

Security arrangements for the visits of Queen Elizabeth II and the President of the United States were primarily an operational matter for An Garda Síochána. Amongst the roles assigned to the Defence Forces in the White Paper on Defence (2000) is the provision of Aid to the Civil Power (ATCP) — meaning in practice to assist, when requested, An Garda Síochána. In relation to these two hugely successful visits, the role played by the Defence Forces included search, surveillance and security operations on land, at sea and in the air as requested by, and in support of, An Garda Síochána.

In this context, there was no requirement for the Reserve Defence Force (RDF) to provide capacity to augment the Permanent Defence Force (PDF). The Defence Forces were also involved in the provision of ceremonial duties as part of Queen Elizabeth's State visit. The RDF was not used in this regard as the PDF were in a position to carry out all tasks assigned to them. In these circumstances, the additional costs that would have been involved in calling on members of the RDF to participate in what were lengthy preparations for the two visits could not be justified.

Defence Forces Personnel

Joe Costello

Ceist:

267 Deputy Joe Costello asked the Minister for Defence the position regarding the termination of service in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13517/11]

As the person referred to has initiated legal proceedings by way of judicial review in this matter, I cannot comment in regard to any issue in this case. The person would be best advised to consult his legal representative regarding the status of his case.

Animal Welfare

Jack Wall

Ceist:

268 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if his attention has been drawn to the concerns of a person (details supplied) in County Laois regarding animal welfare; the actions he will take to alleviate such concerns; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13282/11]

I am aware of the issues raised by the person to whom the Deputy refers. There has been extensive contact between the individual concerned and officials from my Department. It is my understanding that the complaints made by this individual to the relevant regulatory bodies, North and South, have been investigated and the outcome of those investigations have been made known to the complainant.

My Department's responsibility, which is set down in legislation, extends to the welfare and protection of farmed animals only i.e. animals normally bred or kept for the production of food or for use in or for the purpose of farming. The relevant legislation in this area is the Protection of Animals Kept for Farming Purposes Act 1984 and the European Communities (Welfare of Farmed Animals) Regulations 2010, S.I. No. 311 of 2010. Animals "used in competitions/shows, cultural or sporting events or activities while so being used" are outside the scope of S.I. No. 311 of 2010. Accordingly it is clear that the complaints forwarded by the named individual to this Department are not covered by this legislation and thus fall outside the remit of the Department.

My Department must act at all times in accordance with legislation. The principal statutes governing cruelty to all animals, including horses, in this country are the Protection of Animals Acts 1911 and 1965. Responsibility for pursuing cases under this legislation rests with An Garda Síochána, who may on receipt of a complaint investigate and bring a prosecution against any person alleged to have committed an offence under these Acts.

This Department has clarified its position in this matter both verbally and in writing in recent months by way of direct contact with the individual and also in a response issued to earlier representations made on his behalf. I have written to this person (12th May 2011) and explained to him that my Department has no role, or jurisdiction, in resolving the issues referred to and that it is for him to decide if he wishes to report these matters to the Gardaí or indeed if he wishes to institute civil proceedings. Officials from my Department have met with the person named last week to explain the Department's position.

Departmental Schemes

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

269 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when inspections under the Burren farming for conservation project are due to take place. [13246/11]

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

270 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when payments will commence under the Burren farming conservation project. [13247/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 269 and 270 together.

The Burren Farming for Conservation Programme is one of three schemes introduced by my Department using funding made available following the CAP Health Check; a total of €1 million per annum was provided for this Scheme out of the total amount available of €25 million, with the balance divided between the Grassland Sheep Scheme (€18 million) and the Dairy Efficiency Programme (€6 million). These Schemes are each projected to have a three-year life span — 2010, 2011 and 2012. My Department is currently finalising its verification checks and carrying out the required on-the-spot inspections at farmer level with regard to the Burren Farming for Conservation Programme. It is intended to issue payments to all applicants in the coming weeks.

Animal Diseases

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

271 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the costs incurred year on year since scrapie testing of sheep commenced; the percentage of slaughtered sheep tested each year; the percentage of those that tested positive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13249/11]

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the table. The testing concerned is a requirement under Regulation (EC) 999/2001.

Year

Healthy Slaughter

Number of Tests

Number of Positives

Number of Tests

Number of Positives

Cost of Testing

Sheep

Healthy Slaughter

Healthy Slaughter

Fallen Animals

Fallen Animals

2002

3,307,500

54,813(1.65%)

13

5,222

33

2,772,431.00

2003

3,159,000

51,588(1.63%)

10

2,843

17

1,379,013

2004

3,565,400

10,686(0.3%)

5

9,632

37

666,990

2005

3,613,100

10,689(0.3%)

1

10,374

21

677,277

2006

3,487,900

41,677(1.19%)

9

13,677

36

2,074,731

2007

3,263,700

26,970(0.83%)

3

16,184

23

1,603,765

2008

2,919,100

11,687(0.4%)

3

10,747

7

811,560

2009

2,730,100

8,176(0.3%)

2

8,713

10

741,007

2010

2,382,900

11,026(0.46%)

2

10,408

22

756,189

Fisheries Protection

Tom Fleming

Ceist:

272 Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if Castlemaine Harbour, County Kerry, will be opened to the sourcing of mussel seed in 2011 prior to the seed being destroyed by predators; and if he can provide a date for this reopening. [13257/11]

Castlemaine Harbour area is a designated Special Area of Conservation under the EU Habitats Directive and a Special Protection Area under the EU Birds Directive. This highly protected environmental status requires that before the mussel seed fishery in Castlemaine Harbour can be opened, the fishery must be subject to an appropriate assessment of its potential to impact on the conservation objectives for the site and any necessary mitigating measures taken. The European Communities (Habitats and Birds) (Sea-fisheries) Regulations 2009 (S.I. No. 346 of 2009) set out the statutory procedure for this process.

On 7 April 2011, I received the draft Fisheries Natura Plan for Castlemaine Harbour required by the Regulations. The Plan was drafted by the Secretariat of the Bottom Grown Mussel Consultative Forum, in consultation with industry members in the Castlemaine Harbour area, the Committee of Management of the Castlemaine Harbour Co-operative Society Limited and Bord Iascaigh Mhara. On receipt, I Immediately forwarded the Plan to the Marine Institute for appropriate assessment, in accordance with the Regulations. I received the completed Appropriate Assessment Report from the Marine Institute on 4 May 2011. Again, as required by the Regulations, I immediately published the Plan and Appropriate Assessment Report for public consultation. I am required to allow one month for this consultation and so the closing date for receipt of submissions is set for 6 June 2011.

Following the completion of the public consultation I am required to consider the plan, Appropriate Assessment Report and all public submissions before reaching my statutory decision on whether the fishery can open and under what conditions, if any. I expect to make that decision during the month of June. As in previous years, a technical advisory committee will be convened to consider the Plan, Appropriate Assessment Report and public submissions and to make recommendations to me. This Committee will comprise representatives of fishermen in Castlemaine Harbour, environmental NGOs, Bord Iascaigh Mhara, the Marine Institute and the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority and will be chaired by my Department. The Committee is scheduled to meet on 10 June. I will make a decision on a Fisheries Natura Plan having taken full consideration of all the submissions made and the views of the Technical Advisory Committee as early as possible.

The Spring seed mussel fishery nationally is scheduled is close on 31 May, as recommended to me by the Bottom Grown Mussel Consultative Forum, which includes considerable industry representation. The Forum recommended to me that the fishery should open again on 19 August for the main fishery. However, if there is evidence of a significant threat of predation on the seed before that date, I will consider the advice of the Forum on the desirability of an earlier opening.

Pigmeat And Poultry Sectors

Sandra McLellan

Ceist:

273 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his plans to ensure Irish pig and poultry farmers receive a fair price for a quality product; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13266/11]

The Deputy will be aware that prices are a function of the supply and demand dynamics in the market place and my Department has no role in how they are determined. Having said that, it is important to note that there are a number of EU measures in place to support prices.

At European level a number of market supports are in place and are utilised on an ongoing basis. Export refunds, intervention and Aid to Private Storage together with various income stabilisation measures are activated in order to alleviate supply side difficulties and to support prices as and when required. These have been especially useful in assisting pig producers in the light of the recent pressure on returns arising from increases in cereal and feed costs. In recent weeks pig prices have recovered somewhat and presently stand at €146.70 per 100 kg, an increase of €17.49 per 100 kg or 13.54%.

The Enlarged Advisory Group on Pigmeat met on a number of occasions in recent months and considered a range of topics designed to support the sector and better position it to deal with challenges and avail of opportunities in the future. A number of initiatives were proposed and the Commission is to submit proposals as part of the process of CAP reform in due course.

Food Labelling

Sandra McLellan

Ceist:

274 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his plans to ensure that imported pig and poultry products are not presented to the consumer at the point of sale as Irish; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13267/11]

Sandra McLellan

Ceist:

276 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his plans to ensure complete pig and poultry supply chain assurance from producer to consumer. [13269/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 274 and 276 together.

The Minister for Health and Children has overall responsibility for the general food labelling legislation. Responsibility for the enforcement of this legislation rests with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (F.S.A.I.). This is done through service contracts between the F.S.A.I. and my Department, The Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, the Health Service Executive and the Local Authority Veterinary Service.

Under the general labelling Directive (2000/13/EC), the place of origin of the foodstuff must be given only if its absence might mislead the consumer. Under EU legislation, specific country of origin labelling is only required in the case of beef, unprocessed poultry and fruit and vegetables. For the purposes of international trade, origin is deemed to be the place where the product last underwent a "substantial transformation".

Ireland has favoured the extension of mandatory origin or provenance labelling to meats other than beef, including pig meat and poultry, and including where such meats are ingredients in processed products and has lobbied for this with the European Commission for many years. A draft EU Commission Regulation,Food Information for the Consumer which, inter alia, relates to mandatory country of origin/place of provenance labelling is currently at Second Reading Stage in the European Parliament with discussions ongoing between the Parliament, Council and the Commission. This Regulation makes provision for the extension of the mandatory origin/provenance labelling requirements to other meats including both pig meat and poultry meat.

In relation to the integrity of the supply chain, Irish pig and poultry production is governed by European regulations which operate along the entire production chain. These are designed to provide assurance in relation to food safety, traceability, animal welfare and the protection of the environment. The food business operators have primary responsibility to comply with the regulations and they are strictly enforced by my Department and the FSAI and provide the necessary assurances in relation to the quality and safety of the product that ends up on customer's plates.

Finally, I recognise that operators at all levels of the food chain, from producer to retail level, have a critical role to play in providing supply chain assurance to the consumer, and a common interest in ensuring that the integrity of that chain is maintained. In this regard I met recently with farmers, processors and retailers to discuss this and a range of other important issues in relation to the pigmeat sector. I can assure the deputy that I will continue to engage in a pro active and positive way with these stakeholders to ensure that the future development of this very important sector is built on sound foundations which have a strong focus on meeting consumer demands at their core.

Departmental Agencies

Sandra McLellan

Ceist:

275 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the current staffing compliment at Bord Bia; the number of unfilled vacancies; and the period for which they have been vacant. [13268/11]

Operational matters relating to An Bord Bia are the responsibility of the board of An Bord Bia and my own Department has responsibility in relation to policy matters. I understand from An Bord Bia that the number of people (full-time equivalent) currently employed by An Bord Bia is 92.8 representing a reduction of 11.5 since 2009. Some 5.5 vacancies were not filled in 2009, a further five in 2010 and one in 2011. Bord Bia is close to reaching its Employment Control Framework target of 91 posts by the end of 2011.

Question No. 276 answered with Question No. 274.

Tionscal na hIascaireachta

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

277 D’fhiafraigh Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Talmhaíochta, Iascaigh agus Bia an bhfuil cosc ar áisíneachtaí forbartha ar nós Údarás na Gaeltachta deontais a cheadú do thionscal na mbradán feirme ag eascairt ó fhorálacha maidir le bradáin fhiáine a chosaint ó mhíolta mara atá sa Chlár Náisiúnta um Bhia na Mara a foilsíodh i 2010; agus an gceapann sé go bhfuil sé réasúnach nach bhfuil cead deontais a thabhairt do thionscnaimh atá ceadúnaithe ag a Roinn féin; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [13276/11]

Seoladh an Clár Náisiúnta um Bhia na Mara i mí Iúil 2010 chun cúnamh deontais a chur ar fáil ó mhaoiniú an Státchiste do ghnéithe áirithe de thionscal na hiascaireachta, lena n-áirítear dobharshaothrú. Le linn an phróisis chomhairliúcháin phoiblí agus reachtúil ar an mheasúnú straitéiseach comhshaoil a rinneadh ar an gClár seo, bhí imní ar na Bord Iascaigh Láir agus Réigiúnacha agus ar an Roinn Cumarsáide, Fuinnimh agus Acmhainní Nádúrtha maidir leis an tionchar diúltach a bheadh ag míolta mara a thagann ó fheirmeacha bradán ar shalmainidí fiáine imirceacha. D'aontaigh an tAire a bhí ann ag an am leis an Aire Cumarsáide, Fuinnimh agus Acmhainní Nádúrtha nach dtabharfaí aon chúnamh airgeadais le linn an Chláir Náisiúnta seo do shealbhóirí na gceadúnas dobharshaothraithe bradán mara go dtí go réiteofaí go sásúil an cheist agus gur mar bheart réamhchúraim a bhí mé á dhéanamh sin.

Chuir mo Roinn doiciméad beartais dar teideal "A Strategy for Improved Pest Control on Irish Salmon Farms" le chéile, agus rinneadh é sin i gcomhairle le Foras na Mara agus le BIM in 2008. Sa Straitéis bhí roinnt moltaí chun rialú níos fearr a dhéanamh ar mhíolta mara, lena n-áirítear Grúpa Forfheidhmiúcháin Náisiúnta a bhunú chun maoirsiú a dhéanamh ar fhorfheidhmiú na Straitéise agus ar a cuid moltaí. Bunaíodh an Grúpa i mí na Nollag 2008 agus d'fhoilsigh an Roinn a tuarascáil i mí na Nollag 2010. Thángthas ar an gconclúid sa Tuarascáil go raibh na leibhéil de mhíolta mara i bhformhór na láithreán dobharshaothraithe bradán faoi na leibhéil a d'éileodh cóireáil a dhéanamh orthu agus, i ngach cás nuair a eisíodh fógraí chun cóireáil a dhéanamh, cuireadh pleananna cóireála éifeachtacha i bhfeidhm. Ag éirí ó na torthaí dearfacha, rinneadh sraith moltaí sa tuarascáil inar cuimsíodh cóireálacha, cleachtais maidir le monatóireacht agus bainistíocht a dhéanamh ar ghalair d'fhonn leanúint den dul chun cinn atá déanta go dtí seo.

In ainneoin na gconclúidí dearfacha a bhí ag an nGrúpa Forfheidhmiúcháin Náisiúnta, tuigim gur mian le hIascaigh Intíre na hÉireann agus leis an Roinn Cumarsáide, Fuinnimh agus Acmhainní Nádúrtha tuilleadh dul chun cinn a fheiceáil ó thaobh míolta mara a chur faoi smacht sula féidir an imní atá orthu faoi shalmainidí fiáine imirceacha a mhaolú. Tá BIM agus Foras na Mara fós ag obair leis an tionscal dobharshaothraithe bradán chun leanúint den dul chun cinn atáthar a dhéanamh leis an Straitéis míolta mara a chur i bhfeidhm.

Grant Payments

Pat Breen

Ceist:

278 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the position regarding an application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13305/11]

The person named registered forty-three animals under the 2010 Suckler Welfare Scheme. Payment has been made in respect of thirty-four of the animals and a further four are ineligible as, the validation checks undertaken by my Department, established non-compliance with the Terms and Conditions of the Scheme. The remaining five animals have queries associated with them. Letters have issued from my Department to the person named seeking clarification on the issues surrounding these five animals.

Paul Connaughton

Ceist:

279 Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a person (details supplied) in County Galway will receive the second part of their REP scheme payment. [13317/11]

The person named commenced REPS 4 in June 2009 and received the first years payment in full. Some 75% of the year 2 payment was made in March 2011. Payment of the final 25% cannot be made until outstanding checks are finalised and compliance with the scheme conditions has been fully established. Payment will issue at the earliest possible date once all checks have been completed.

Question No. 280 withdrawn.

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

281 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a payment will issue on an application for the farm improvement scheme in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13325/11]

The person concerned is an applicant under the Farm Improvement Scheme. Payment of the grant will take place when it has been determined that all the terms and conditions of the Scheme have been complied with. The checks concerned should be completed in the near future.

Harbours and Piers

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

282 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will meet a delegation (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13341/11]

My Department has a system in place whereby a Harbour Users Forum is held regularly in each of the six Fishery Harbour Centres including Howth. This forum is facilitated by the representatives of my Department at a senior level and provides an opportunity for discussion and clarification in relation to any matter pertaining to the Fishery Harbour Centre. Arrangements for representation at the Harbour Users Forum can be made through my staff in the Sea Fisheries Administration Division (Clonakilty) of my Department.

Grant Payments

Tom Hayes

Ceist:

283 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when an application for transfer of entitlements will be finalised in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13344/11]

Two applications for the transfer of entitlements under the 2011 Single Payment Scheme from the person named were submitted on the 9 May 2011. During processing of the first application, it was necessary for an official of my Department to write to the person named seeking clarification on the unit value of the entitlements. A reply was received on the 25th May 2011 and the application was fully processed on the 26th May 2011. During the processing of the second application, it was necessary for an official of my Department to write to the transferees of the entitlements requesting an additional signature on the Transfer application form. Upon receipt of the requested information the application will be processed.

Departmental Agencies

Noel Harrington

Ceist:

284 Deputy Noel Harrington asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food his plans to replace staff in the BIM training school in Castletownbere, County Cork, in order that the full course may be offered to many applicants seeking to undertake and complete the full skipper ticket; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13355/11]

BIM is an independent statutory body tasked with providing vocational training to the seafood industry. BIM has advised my Department that the demands of delivering the 14 week intensive course leading to the Skipper Full Certificate of Competency require the availability of two Master Mariner plus other instructors with maritime qualifications satisfying the requirements of the Marine Survey Office of the Department of Transport.

Following the retirement of a Master Mariner in Greencastle in December 2010, BIM have commenced discussions with my Department on addressing the personnel needs of delivering the Skipper Full Certificate course in the context of BIM's Employment Control Framework targets which have been set by the Department of Finance. BIM advises that in the interim it intends to seek instructors on a service supply basis on the Government's eTenders site as a matter of urgency.

Grant Payments

Seamus Kirk

Ceist:

285 Deputy Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a farm waste management grant will be awarded in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan. [13356/11]

The person concerned is an applicant under the Farm Waste Management Scheme and received approval for the completion of a number of items under the Scheme, including a slatted house, slurry storage tank and associated facilities. A number of issues have arisen in relation to the claim submitted by the person named. These are under examination in my Department and a decision will be made as soon as possible.

Seamus Kirk

Ceist:

286 Deputy Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when a sheep subsidy payment will be awarded in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Louth. [13357/11]

As processing of the application under the Grassland Sheep Scheme received from the person named on the 17 May 2010 has now been finalised, the payment due will issue shortly.

Animal Welfare

Peter Mathews

Ceist:

287 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will ensure the Irish Greyhound Board is prevented from exporting greyhounds to China via a third country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13369/11]

Following a meeting of my colleague Minister of State Shane McEntee, TD, with the Chairman and Chief Executive of Bord na gCon on 3rd May 2011, it was agreed that Bord na gCon would drop its proposal to export greyhounds to China.

Ministerial Staff

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

288 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the names of the special advisers appointed to his office since 9 March 2011; their specific role and the level of salary they will be earning. [13382/11]

I have listed the details of the special advisers appointed in my Department since the 9th March, 2011 in the table:

Name

Role

Salary

Fergal Leamy

Special Adviser with particular responsibility for advising on matters relating to Food Harvest 2020 and General Strategy, Expenditure Reviews and McCarthy Report, Food and Food Safety, Planning and Functional areas, Veterinary and Inspection.

130,000

Aine Kilroy

Special Adviser with particular responsibility for advising on matters relating to Marine and Fisheries, EU negotiations (CAP, CFP, MERCUSOR), First 100 days, Farm Payments, HRI, Forestry, Horticulture, Greyhounds.

80,051

Grant Payments

Michael Moynihan

Ceist:

289 Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he expects the consolidation application to be finalised in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [13440/11]

My Department has no record of receiving an application under the consolidation measure of the 2010 or 2011 Single Payment Scheme from the person named. The closing date for receipt of applications under this measure of the 2010 Single Payment Scheme was the 17th May 2010 and the closing date under the 2011 Scheme was 16th May 2011.

Pat Breen

Ceist:

290 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13500/11]

The person named has been approved into the AEOS scheme with a start date of 1 September 2010. Under the EU Regulations governing the Agri-Environment Options Scheme and other area-based payment schemes, a comprehensive administrative check, including cross-checks with the Land Parcel Identification System, must be completed before any payment can issue. I expect that payments to participants in the scheme in respect of 2010 will commence in August and that payments in respect of 2011 for AEOS1 participants will commence in October.

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

291 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when payment will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13503/11]

The person named has been approved into the AEOS scheme with a start date of the 1st November 2010. Under the EU Regulations governing the Agri-Environment Options Scheme and other area-based payment schemes, a comprehensive administrative check, including cross-checks with the Land Parcel Identification System, must be completed before any payment can issue. I expect that payments to participants in the scheme in respect of 2010 will commence in August and that payments in respect of 2011 for AEOS1 participants will commence in October.

Milk Quota

Michael Creed

Ceist:

292 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if the agreement which was entered into by his predecessors with representatives of a group (details supplied) who campaigned for access for additional milk quota has been honoured in full in terms of additional milk quota to these farmers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13575/11]

The Milk Rights Group was set up to lobby on behalf of its members for parity of treatment with plaintiffs whose cases were considered by the Supreme Court in 1997, and who were successful in their actions in relation to the method of quota allocation on the introduction of the milk quota/super levy regime in 1984. My Department does not accept that it has any liability other than in cases that have been determined by the courts.

Under a scheme announced in 2001, my Department allocated a significant amount of additional quota under the AGENDA 2000 agreement to persons, including members of the Milk Rights Group, whose circumstances were similar to those of the aforementioned plaintiffs. These special allocations took account of the volume of extra quota that the High Court had determined might have been granted to producers in general who were pursuing dairy investment plans around 1984.

Departmental Agencies

Seán Kenny

Ceist:

293 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the number of staff employed by the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority by grade. [13599/11]

The Sea Fisheries Protection Authority is an independent statutory body. The 2011 Authority total staff is 97. The internal staffing arrangements are a matter for the Authority. The Department has forwarded the request to the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority for its consideration and for a direct reply to the Deputy.

Ministerial Staff

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

294 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs the names of the special advisers appointed to her office since 9 March 2011; their specific role and the level of salary they will be earning. [13384/11]

The details requested by the Deputy in respect of the special advisors appointed to my office since 9 March 2011 is outlined in the table:

Name

Role

Salary

Jennifer Carroll Mac Neill

Special Adviser

Principal OfficerStandard Scale

Marion Mannion

Special Adviser

Principal OfficerStandard Scale

The principal role of my advisors is to assist in co-ordinating the implementation of the elements of the Programme for Government relevant to my Department and to provide advice to me in relation to my Ministerial responsibilities.

Voluntary Sector Funding

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

295 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will consider a request for funding from Western Alzheimers in view of the fact that a previous parliamentary question was referred to the Health Service Executive and that the HSE in its reply said it was its understanding that the request was made to the Department of Finance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13430/11]

I understand that the matter raised by the Deputy relates to a request for funding to assist towards overall financial pressures at the Western Alzheimers organisation. The Deputy will appreciate, as indicated previously, that the Health Service Executive has operational responsibility for the planning and delivery of services at national and local level, including the question of grant-aid in this type of case. While the original approach by the organisation was directed to the Department of Finance, the appropriate course of action, given the nature of the request, is for Western Alzheimers to pursue the specific issue directly with the HSE.

Departmental Agencies

Seán Kenny

Ceist:

296 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Health and Children the number of staff employed by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland by grade. [13599/11]

The number of staff by grade employed by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland is as follows:

Grade

Whole Time Equivalents

Administrative Assistant

15.04

Senior Administrative Assistant

9.60

Technical Executive

24.00

Senior Technical Executive

4.00

Press & PR

1.00

Chief Audit Manager

1.00

Agricultural Officer

0.80

Veterinary Officer

2.00

Manager

9.50

Chief Specialist

6.00

Director

3.00

CEO

1.00

Health Insurance

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

297 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health and Children when he will publish a detailed plan for the implementation of universal health insurance. [13619/11]

The Government is committed to implementing a comprehensive programme of health reform, the ultimate objective of which is to ensure equal access to healthcare based on need, not income. This objective will be achieved through a single-tier health service supported by universal health insurance. The key policy principles of the reform programme are as follows. Firstly, the reform will involve significant strengthening of primary care services to deliver universal primary care with removal of cost as a barrier to access for patients. This will be achieved on a phased basis to allow for the recruitment of additional doctors, nurses and other primary care professionals.

In parallel to the development of primary care, there will also be significant reform of the acute hospital sector. I am committed to tackling the issue of waiting times and waiting lists by introducing new initiatives such as the Special Delivery Unit. A more transparent and efficient "Money Follows the Patient" funding mechanism and a purchaser/provider split will also be introduced. In the latter case, this will involve establishing hospitals as independent, not for profit trusts. Once the key building blocks, such as a strengthened primary care system and "Money Follows the Patient" funding, have been put in place, the health sector will be ready for universal health insurance.

Undertaking this comprehensive reform process is a complex task which must be carefully planned and sequenced. Officials in my Department are currently giving careful consideration to the reform programme with a view to developing implementation proposals for the phased introduction of the above reforms. Officials are also engaged in enhancing their understanding of the application of universal health insurance as well as considering best practice in healthcare reform.

In that regard, officials organised a seminar on universal health insurance which was attended by experts from the Dutch Health Ministry, the World Health Organisation and the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies. Furthermore, officials will shortly be undertaking a study visit to the Netherlands to examine in more detail the Dutch health reform programme. A similar visit to Germany is also in the process of being arranged. I will be communicating on an ongoing basis as the detailed arrangements for examination and implementation of the reforms are progressed.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

298 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health and Children when his attention was first drawn to the 12 to 18 month waiting list for endoscopy at Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin, Dublin; if he has ascertained the resource needs and other issues which need to be addressed; the immediate action he proposes to take to address this delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13692/11]

A statement on the issue of waiting times for endoscopies was issued by Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin on 24 May 2011. A copy of this statement was forwarded to my office on the same day. There has been a very significant increase nationally in the number of children presenting to Crumlin Hospital with possible bowel diseases which has led to an increased demand for diagnostic endoscopies.

The hospital has provided extra theatre time to consultants to carry out additional endoscopies in 2010 and 2011. Despite extra theatre time being made available, there remains a challenge to keep pace with growing demand for these procedures. In order to address this challenge, the hospital is taking a number of further steps. The Clinical Director for the three Dublin children's hospitals has been working to identify opportunities available over the three sites to improve capacity for endoscopies.

Crumlin Children's Hospital is also making use of the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) to address the waiting time issue. In 2010, the hospital referred 45 patients for endoscopies to the NTPF. This year, to date, the hospital has referred a further 40 patients to NTPF. The hospital is currently carrying out a validation exercise in relation to waiting lists for endoscopies. The Clinical Director and senior hospital management are actively working with the Gastroenterology Service in Crumlin in relation to the waiting list process for endoscopies. I have been assured by the hospital that all patients are assessed and prioritised on the basis of their clinical needs.

Health Services

Sean Fleming

Ceist:

299 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will seek a reorganisation of services in the Health Service Executive Dublin mid-Leinster area for children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13242/11]

The information sought by the Deputy is not readily available. However, I have asked the Health Service Executive to supply this information to me and I will forward it to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

300 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Health and Children the average waiting time for an appointment with each specialist located at a hospital (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13251/11]

The average waiting time in the hospital referred to by the Deputy varies by specialty and between urgent and routine appointments. Depending on the specialty and degree of urgency, a number of consultants see urgent patients within a week. However, the average waiting time for routine appointments differs according to consultant and individual circumstances.

As Minister for Health I am determined to address the issues which cause unacceptable delays in patients receiving treatment in our hospitals. The Government is committed to establishing a Special Delivery Unit (SDU) to improve access to the emergency and elective care system. The SDU is a Government priority and is one of the commitments from theProgramme for Government 2011-2016 to be achieved within the first 100 days. Extensive work is currently being undertaken in designing this Unit, based on an initiative in Northern Ireland, which substantially reduced waiting lists over two to three years.

Question No. 301 answered with Question No. 57.

Missing Children

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

302 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will provide funding and resources to set up the 116000 EU hotline number for missing children in view of the number of children who go missing here. [13291/11]

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

331 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the missing children hotline number (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13525/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 302 and 331 together.

The purpose of the 116000 phone number is to provide a contact number to families if children go missing. While the Office of the Minister for Children was involved in ongoing discussions with other Government Departments in relation to the development of a hotline for missing children, the establishment of the hotline for missing children is a matter for the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources The issue of missing children is a matter for the Garda Síochána.

Health Services

Tom Fleming

Ceist:

303 Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding orthodontic treatment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry. [13293/11]

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

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

304 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Health and Children his plans to reverse the decision of the Health Service Executive to terminate all funding to the Rape Crisis Network Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13294/11]

The HSE has been considering changes in the arrangements for funding organisations that provide domestic, sexual andgender-based violence services, including the Rape Crisis Network Ireland. However, it has been decided to extend the current funding to this Network until 1st August to allow me to review these proposals.

Health Service Staff

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Ceist:

305 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will confirm the Health Service Executive guidelines for providing accommodation such as hotel rooms or rented accommodation to senior staff; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13297/11]

Arrangements are in place in the HSE whereby staff may claim travel and subsistence payments in respect of relevant expenses incurred in the course of official duties. Subsistence rates are prescribed in respect of overnight stays away from the employee's home. Similarly, travel rates are set at a fixed amount per mile/kilometre travelled. The Executive issues circulars across the organisation from time to time, setting out the applicable rates. All travel and subsistence claims must be signed off by the appropriate line-manager, who must be satisfied that they are in order, prior to their approval. The Executive also has a foreign travel policy in place. This policy highlights the importance of ensuring economy and value for money in all travel arrangements.

Ambulance Service

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Ceist:

306 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will confirm that a sub-group was established as set out in the Health Service Executive management team minutes of 2 December 2008, under agenda item 8 titled Ambulance Strategy; if he will further confirm the number of times that this sub-group met between December 2008 and March 2010; if these meetings were minuted; if he will release these minutes to public scrutiny; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13298/11]

I am aware of the subgroup to which the Deputy refers. I understand that the group was established by the HSE National Ambulance Service in order to progress improved management and integration of ambulance services. As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Hospital Services

Jack Wall

Ceist:

307 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children, further to Parliamentary Question No. 384 of 12 April 2011, the progress made regarding a person (details supplied) to address medical needs and the fact that due to the medical procedure needed the person cannot use the National Treatment Purchase Fund system despite the fact that the person is now waiting four years for such a procedure; if the person can be transferred to another hospital in the State that can facilitate such a medical procedure or if the Health Service Executive will investigate the position of being transferred to a hospital outside the State that has such facilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13307/11]

I understand that the HSE responded to the Deputy in relation to this case on the 15th April. At that time the HSE advised that there was no record of this patient waiting for treatment at the Mater Hospital. I can also confirm that this patient is currently not on an NTPF waiting list. As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Health Services

Jack Wall

Ceist:

308 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children if a person (details supplied) may obtain treatment under the E112 system; if he will determine the procedure the person has to follow to ensure receipt of such a referral; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13308/11]

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

Medical Cards

Billy Timmins

Ceist:

309 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; if this will be renewed as a matter of urgency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13310/11]