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Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Tuesday, 18 Oct 2011

Vol. 744 No. 1

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 21, inclusive, answered orally.
Questions Nos. 22 to 38, inclusive, resubmitted.
Questions Nos. 39 to 50, inclusive, answered orally.

Ministerial Meetings

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

51 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will provide an update on the North-South meetings and other engagements he has had with his counterpart from the Northern Assembly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29861/11]

Since my appointment as Minister, I have met with my counterpart, Ms Carál Ní Chuilín, MLA, Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, on a number of occasions, both formally and informally.

The Deputy will, of course, be aware that my Department and the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure co-fund and co-sponsor two North-South Implementation bodies. These are Waterways Ireland and An Foras Teanga (comprising Foras na Gaeilge and the Ulster Scots Agency/Tha Boord o Ulstèr- Scotch). The Deputy will also be aware that there are a number of functional areas that come within the ambit of my Department that also come within the ambit of the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure in Northern Ireland, including responsibility for arts, culture, museums and galleries, language and commemorations. Indeed, officials of my Department are currently exploring with their colleagues in the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure potential mechanisms to enhance co-operation across all of these areas.

The most recent formal meeting between Minister Ní Chuilín and myself was at the NSMC Inland Waterways and Language sectoral meetings on 12 October last, directly following which we attended an event to launch the 18th William Kennedy Piping Festival in Armagh. The Deputy will be aware from previous replies to Parliamentary Questions that I also met Minister Ní Chuilín at the NSMC Inland Waterways and Language sectoral meetings on 7 July 2011.

In addition, I met Minister Ní Chuilín on National Famine Commemoration Day, which was held in Clones, Co. Monaghan on 10 September 2011, and also in the context of a recent Waterways Ireland Conference in Dublin Castle on 14 September 2011. We also met at the unveiling of newly installed artwork at the NSMC offices in Armagh on 28 September last. I should say that both Deputy Dinny McGinley, Minister of State at my Department, and myself have separately met Minister Ní Chuilín on a range of issues in Belfast. The next scheduled formal meeting between Minister Ní Chuilín and myself will take place on 7 November 2011.

Question No. 52 answered with Question No. 48.

State Collections

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

53 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the steps he will take to maximise the use of State exhibits and exhibitions currently held in storage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29503/11]

The Deputy will appreciate that the management of exhibitions and exhibition material is an operational matter for which the individual institutions have responsibility and this is reflected, in particular, in the legislative basis under which the national institutions such as the National Museum, National Gallery and National Library operate. I am, however, arranging to have the Deputy's interest in these matters conveyed to the Directors of the relevant institutions.

Arts Policy

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Ceist:

54 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht how he plans to maximise participation in the arts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29856/11]

Government policy on the Arts is set out in the Programme for Government and aims to promote and strengthen the arts in all its forms, increase access to and participation in the arts, and make the arts an integral and valued part of our national life.

Responsibility for the promotion of the arts at all levels throughout the country is primarily devolved to the Arts Council. The Arts Council is the principal agency through which State funding is channelled to the arts. Under the Arts Act 2003, the general functions of the Council include the following:

to stimulate public interest in the arts;

to promote knowledge, appreciation and practice of the arts; and

to assist in improving standards in the arts.

The Arts Council is a statutorily independent body funded by my Department and is independent in its day-to-day operations, including in relation to its funding decisions. For 2011 the Exchequer allocation to the Arts Council is €65.127 million.

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

55 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the number of persons employed in the arts; his plans for job creation in the arts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29879/11]

Joan Collins

Ceist:

62 Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht his plans for sustained funding and job creation in the arts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29853/11]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

292 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the total number of persons employed directly or indirectly in the arts at present; if he will endeavour to ensure that such numbers are retained or expanded, with particular reference to both the economic and cultural benefit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30139/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 55, 62 and 292 together.

The arts and culture sectors continue to offer vital opportunities for the provision of important cultural, social and employment benefits to communities throughout the country. As the Deputies will appreciate, the nature of employment within the arts sector encompasses a very wide range of activities. Its scope can include those engaged in the arts practice within specific artistic genres and can also encompass areas which flow from such artistic pursuits. It may also embody the whole industrial creative sectors — the foundation of which lie in the pure arts areas. Accordingly, there are differentiated sets of figures which reflect the differing basis from which employment numbers are derived.

Using data compiled by DKM consultants in 2009, "Economic Impact of the Arts, Culture and Creative Sectors", which examined available statistics on the arts and culture sector, employment in the arts, culture and creative industries areas was demonstrated as being of the order of 170,000. It may be noted that this study took a wide definition of the arts and included part of the broad cultural and creative industries, including direct, indirect and induced employment numbers, and also took into account those employed, for instance, in the advertising sector, architecture, fashion and design, and cultural tourism.

The Government appreciates and values the contribution the arts sector makes to the internationally renowned artistic reputation of this country. Within the current economic constraints, that investment in the arts, culture and creative sectors is more important than ever, having regard to the employment intensity of the sector. In the context of the 2012 Estimates, I will, of course, be endeavouring to maximise continuing Government support for the arts.

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

56 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the role he sees for the arts in mental well-being; his efforts to see that potential realised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29865/11]

The Deputy will appreciate that I have no statutory responsibility in relation to mental health, which is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Health. However, the Deputy may find the www.artsandhealth.ie website of interest. This website is funded by the Arts Council, which is statutorily independent in its funding decisions.

Question No. 57 answered with Question No. 46.

National Monuments

Sandra McLellan

Ceist:

58 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht his plans for the continued protection of post-1700 monuments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29860/11]

Sandra McLellan

Ceist:

301 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht his plans for the continued protection of post-1700 monuments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29905/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 58 and 301 together.

I can assure the Deputy that there are no proposals to remove the protection of the National Monuments Acts from any category of monument. My Department's National Monuments Service is reviewing the policy for including monuments in the Record of Monuments and Places (RMP) because the current RMP, drawn up more than 10 years ago, is not consistent across all counties, where post-1700 AD monuments are concerned.

The objective of this current review is to bring about greater consistency across the board. This is only one element of a wider strategy to improve the management, protection, presentation and appreciation of Ireland's unique archaeological heritage. My Department is working to provide high quality, accurate and accessible information through its dedicated website www.archaeology.ie. A comprehensive new Monuments Bill is also being drafted to consolidate, modernise and improve the legislative code for the protection and regulation of our archaeological heritage. In addition, detailed guidance is being developed on archaeological best practice and procedure, based on comprehensive recommendations from an expert review group that has been engaged in an intensive examination of practice over a number of years.

There are obviously issues that will arise as to how, and under which legislation, certain structures should be best protected. There is no question, however, of the current Record of Monuments and Places (RMP) being revised until the review has been completed. When draft policy and criteria for updating the RMP have been developed, my Department will consult with interested parties before any decisions are made.

Arts Funding

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

59 Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht his plans to prioritise supports and funding for independent arts centres here into the future in view of the important role that such centres play within communities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29862/11]

Primary responsibility for the promotion of the arts at all levels throughout the country is devolved to the Arts Council. The Council is funded by my Department and is independent in its day to day operations, including funding decisions. The allocation to the Arts Council for 2011 is €65.16m. My Department has no statutory responsibility for the ongoing funding of independent arts centres.

Under the ACCESS programme, my Department is responsible for the provision of capital monies for arts centres, galleries, theatres, etc. A total of €7.8m was allocated in 2011 for regional arts capital projects throughout the country. Many projects have already been completed, are open to the public and are providing resources for local communities. A list of the successful ACCESS II projects and the amount of grant aid allocated to each project is available on my Department's website.

National Asset Management Agency

Michael Colreavy

Ceist:

60 Deputy Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the progress that has been made to date in securing properties under the control of NAMA that may be suitable for use as local arts facilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29866/11]

As I mentioned in replies to previous Parliamentary Questions, I have met the chair and chief executive of NAMA in relation to the potential use of NAMA buildings for cultural purposes. As the Deputy and the House will, however, appreciate, NAMA is required to deal with a range of sensitive financial matters in carrying out its functions and is restricted in regard to the information it may make available in relation to assets.

Turbary Rights

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

61 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the step he will take to minimise the impact of the ban on turf cutting on individuals and families; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29502/11]

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

294 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the extent to which an amicable settlement has been found with traditional turfcutters who are affected by various EU and other conservation measures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30141/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 61 and 294 together.

Further to Ireland's obligations under EU law to protect rare and threatened natural habitats, it is clear that further turf-cutting and conservation of Ireland's 53 raised bog Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) is incompatible. Earlier this year, the Government announced a compensation package for those affected by the cessation of turf cutting in these 53 raised bog SACs. The package offers qualifying turf-cutters the option of a financial payment of €1,000 per year index linked, for a period of 15 years or, where feasible, their relocation to a non-designated bog, where they can continue to cut turf.

In April, the independently chaired Peatlands Council was established, comprising representatives of turf-cutting interest groups, environmental groups, Bord na Móna and my Department. The remit of the Council includes an opportunity to review the compensation arrangements, to make proposals and to provide advice to me. As part of its contribution, one of the turf-cutting representative groups, the IFA, proposed that the State would provide a delivery of turf to those who must stop turf-cutting as an alternative to a financial payment. My Department is now making arrangements to include this as an element of the compensation arrangements. The Council has also proposed an approach that would focus on the long-term energy requirements of affected turf-cutters and this proposal is also being explored.

In terms of relocation, following lengthy discussions between affected turf-cutters, Bord na Móna and my Department, agreement has been reached on the terms and conditions for relocation from the first of the 53 raised bogs to an alternative undesignated bog, where the turf-cutters involved will be cutting in 2012. This relocation can now be used as a template for other groups who wish to continue cutting on alternative bogs.

The Peatlands Council has shown that it can be a vehicle to deliver results and a credible forum where the interests of turf-cutters can be represented and accommodated. While one group — the Turf-Cutters and Contractors Association (TCCA) — has withdrawn from the Peatlands Council, it had been working, with the assistance of my Department, to explore relocation sites for the 53 SACs. I would still welcome any proposals which the TCCA wish to propose to the Peatlands Council and my Department in this regard.

It is also intended that the Peatlands Council will be the vehicle for the drawing up of a Peatlands Strategy, which my Department is undertaking, and where longer-term issues regarding the future use of Ireland's peatlands will be set out. Interested parties can make their views known by writing directly to the Peatlands Council or by having their views directed to it through one of the representative groups sitting on the Council.

Question No. 62 answered with Question No. 55.

Museum Projects

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

63 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the contact or discussions between him and the Bank of Ireland on making the Bank of Ireland premises in College Green, Dublin 2, available as a public building for use for cultural purposes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29857/11]

I refer the Deputy to my previous replies on this matter on 24 May, 2 June and 14 September 2011. I have met the Chair and Chief Executive of Bank of Ireland and had a constructive engagement on the issues. That engagement will continue.

Arts Policy

Seán Crowe

Ceist:

64 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the efforts he has made in co-operation with the Department of Education and Skills to increase participation in the arts at primary and secondary school level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29859/11]

Since assuming the role of Minister for the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, I have had discussions with the Minister for Education and Skills to explore ways to improve participation in the arts within the education system. Arising from these discussions, senior officials from my Department and the Department of Education and skills are now examining a number of initiatives to address arts in education.

Irish Museum of Modern Art

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

65 Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if, in view of the planned closure of the Irish Museum of Modern Art from November 2011 to January 2013, he will provide an outline of the schedule of works; the position regarding staff during renovations; if he will give confirmation that it will open again; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29880/11]

The primary purpose of the works at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) is to upgrade to modern standards the fire, safety and security systems in the premises. The work will be carried out in different phases over the course of 2012 and will consist of external works in the grounds to install new security infrastructure, the provision of a new security room within the building, rewiring for the new systems on the three floors of the East, West and South wings, which will involve the stripping out of all the old systems, lifting of floorboards, taking down ceilings and their subsequent reinstatement, and the installation of additional fire stopping measures.

IMMA will retain a presence at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham (RHK) site during its closure via its exhibition programme in the New Galleries and the Artists' Residency Programme. The café, bookshop and grounds will also remain open to visitors. All other IMMA staff will move to alternative accommodation during the period of the closure of the RHK site and this process has just commenced in relation to administrative staff. The works are due to be completed in time for IMMA/RHK to re-open in early 2013. Meanwhile, IMMA, my Department and OPW are working to relocate the IMMA exhibition programme to the site used by Dublin Contemporary 2011 at the National Concert Hall complex at Earlsfort Terrace for Spring 2012.

Appointments to State Boards

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

66 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Taoiseach if he will provide a list of all appointments to State boards, including any appointments to the position of chairperson (shown separately) he has made since coming to office; the details of any remuneration or expenses arrangement that applies in respect of each appointment; the vacancies on the boards that were publicly advertised; and the prospective nominees that went before the Oireachtas committee for questioning. [29513/11]

The National Economic and Social Development Office (NESDO) was established under the NESDO Act 2006 and is the body corporate for the National Economic and Social Council (NESC). It has been the previous practice to appoint the Secretary General of my Department as Chairperson of the NESC. Since entering office, in accordance with that practice, I appointed Martin Fraser, Secretary General of my Department as Chair of the NESC on 1 August.

I also appointed the following experts to the NESC in June:

Prof. Edgar Morgenroth, Economic and Social Research Institute

Prof. John McHale, National University of Ireland, Galway

Prof. Mary Day, Queen's University Belfast

Prof. Anna Davis, Trinity College

Prof. Seán Ó Riain, National University of Ireland, Maynooth

Dr. Michael O'Sullivan, Credit Suisse — London

Ms Mary Walsh, Charted Accountant

Dr. Michelle Morris, University College Dublin was appointed in July. The appointments were not publicly advertised but were made following careful consideration of the necessary skills, knowledge and expertise relevant to the functions of the Council. No remuneration is payable to persons for their membership of NESC, though members may claim expenses in accordance with the relevant Department of Public Expenditure circulars.

Croke Park Agreement

Simon Harris

Ceist:

67 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Taoiseach the position regarding the Croke Park agreement; if he has received implementation plans for this agreement from his Department and each State agency under his remit; the status of these implementation plans; the discussion he has had with the EU and IMF regarding the agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29691/11]

Under the Public Service Agreement 2010-2014 (the Croke Park Agreement), detailed action plans have been developed across each sector of the public service to underpin the change and reform process envisaged by the Agreement. The Action Plan developed by my Department was finalised in January 2011 and published on its website. In May my Department reported for the first time on progress in implementing the Agreement, and is due to submit a second progress report to the Implementation Body shortly.

The National Economic and Social Development Office (NESDO) is the only State Agency under the aegis of my Department. The NESDO, which was established under the NESDO Act 2006, is the body corporate for the National Economic and Social Council (NESC). The Office developed an Action Plan under the Public Service Agreement 2010 — 2014 in January 2011 and its first progress report on implementing the Agreement was presented in May. Their second updated progress report is expected shortly. Responsibility for the Croke Park Agreement in general is a matter for the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, and I understand that he has responded to the wider issues raised in this question in a reply to a similar question on 12 October 2011.

Pension Provisions

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

68 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach the saving to the Exchequer if all existing public service pension payments to former employees of State agencies under the aegis of his Department were capped at €35,000 per year. [29787/11]

The National Economic and Social Development Office (NESDO) is the only State Agency under the aegis of my Department. The NESDO, which was established under the NESDO Act 2006, is the body corporate for the National Economic and Social Council (NESC). No former employees of the NESDO/NESC are in receipt of public service pension payments so the question of savings does not arise.

Appointments to State Boards

Sean Fleming

Ceist:

69 Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Taoiseach his role in relation to appointments to all State boards and agencies; his views on introducing a cap or ceiling to the number of boards on which one person can serve; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29982/11]

I appoint members to the National Economic and Social Council and the National Statistics Board.

The National Economic and Social Development Office (NESDO) was established under the NESDO Act 2006 and is the body corporate for the National Economic and Social Council (NESC). The Act provides for the appointment by me of the Council on the basis of nominations received from representatives of trade unions, business and employers, farmers' organisations, environmental sector and community and voluntary sectors.

The Act also provides for the appointment by me of a number of public servants and a number of independent experts to the Council: the number of independent experts was increased to eight in the National Economic and Social Council (Alteration of Composition) Order 2010. I appointed seven independent experts in June and one in July. I recently appointed Martin Fraser, Secretary General in my Department, as Chairperson of the Office and the Council. The Statistics Act 1993 provides that I appoint seven of the eight members of the National Statistics Board. The Act provides that the Board consists of eight members, comprising the Director General of the CSO, who is appointed by the President on my nomination, and seven persons appointed by the Taoiseach as follows:

(a) five persons of proven ability and experience in relevant fields, two nominated by the Taoiseach and three nominated by such organisation or organisations as the Taoiseach considers representative of the users of official statistics and providers of information under the Act,

(b) an Assistant Secretary or equivalent or higher grade in the Department of the Taoiseach, and

(c) an Assistant Secretary or equivalent or higher grade in the Department of Finance . It also provides that the Chairman shall be appointed by the Taoiseach from among the members of the Board appointed under (a) above.

As has been the precedent, these functions in relation to the National Statistics Board have been delegated to the Chief Whip under the Statistics (Delegation of Ministerial Functions) Order 2011. No appointments have been made to the National Statistics Board since the Government took office.

The Deputy will be aware that the Government has put new arrangements in place for the making of appointments to State boards. Departments invite expressions of interest in vacancies on the boards of bodies under their aegis on their websites. Ministers are not confined to considering those who make expressions of interest but must ensure that all appointees have the relevant qualifications. In addition, those being proposed for appointment as Chairperson of State boards are required to make themselves available to the appropriate Oireachtas Committee to discuss the approach they will take to their role as Chairperson and their views about the future contribution of the body in question. Following that discussion, decisions are taken by the Minister or the Government, as appropriate, to confirm the nominee as Chairperson. The Government will continue to keep the arrangements for appointments to State boards under review.

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

70 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach the saving to the State if all State agency board members’ annual payments were rescinded and instead board membership was awarded without remuneration. [30261/11]

The only saving that would arise in relation to appointments made by me relates to the National Statistics Board. Some €32,918 would be saved if the annual stipend payments to the members of the National Statistics Board were rescinded.

State Visits

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

71 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if an invitation has issued to the Pope to visit here in 2012; if so, the issues that are anticipated in view of the range of reports of clerical child sexual abuse and the recent exchange between him and the Papal Nuncio; if not, if an invitation is under active consideration; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29514/11]

An invitation has not issued nor is one currently under active consideration. As to the other matters raised in the question, I would refer the Deputy to the Statement of 8 September by the Government of Ireland on the response of the Holy See regarding the report of the Commission of Investigation into the Catholic Diocese of Cloyne, which states

The Government of Ireland thanks the Holy See for its response of 3 September regarding the report of the Commission of Investigation into the Catholic Diocese of Cloyne (the Cloyne Report) and the representations made to it by the Tánaiste in this regard in his meeting with the Apostolic Nuncio on 14 July 2011. The Government acknowledges and welcomes the statement in the response that the Holy See is sorry and ashamed for the terrible sufferings which the victims of abuse and their families have endured. The victims of abuse and their families must remain foremost in our considerations.

Having considered carefully the Cloyne Report and the response of the Holy See, the Government of Ireland remains of the view that the content of the confidential letter in 1997 from the then Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Storero, to the Irish Bishops, regardless of whether or not it was intended to do so, provided a pretext for some members of the clergy to evade full cooperation with the Irish civil authorities in regard to the abuse of minors. This is a matter of great concern to the Irish Government.

The Government of Ireland notes the comments in the Holy See's response on the political debate which ensued in Ireland after the publication of the Cloyne Report and in particular the statements made by the Taoiseach and other political leaders. The Government of Ireland must point out that the comments made by the Taoiseach and other political leaders accurately reflect the public anger of the overwhelming majority of Irish people at the failure of the Catholic Church in Ireland and the Holy See to deal adequately with clerical child sexual abuse and those who committed such appalling acts.

It is the Government of Ireland's hope that, in spite of outstanding differences, lessons have been learned from appalling past failures. In this regard, it welcomes the commitment in the concluding remarks of the Holy See's response to a constructive dialogue and cooperation with the Government. In welcoming this commitment, the Government expects the fullest cooperation from the Holy See, the Catholic Church in Ireland and all other relevant bodies with a view to ensuing that Ireland is a society fully safe for children and minors and that all of those with responsibility for the welfare and care of children in this country are fully subject to Irish laws and requirements.

Global Irish Economic Forum

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

72 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the cost benefit of Farmleigh’s conference on job creation in 2010. [28890/11]

The first meeting of the Global Irish Economic Forum was held at the Farmleigh Estate in Dublin from 18-20 September, 2009. It was convened by the then Government with two broad goals: to explore how the Irish at home and abroad could work together and contribute to our economic recovery; and to examine ways in which Ireland and its global community could develop a more strategic relationship with each other. Some 130 leading Irish connected individuals living abroad from the business and cultural sectors attended the Forum. The overall cost of the Forum was €330,000. The formal report of the Forum sets out 59 specific and medium term objectives identified at the 2009 Forum. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade published updates in April and October, 2010 and in April 2011. These updates, which are available on the Forum's website www.globalirishforum.ie, demonstrate the significant number of proposals that have either been fully or substantively delivered by Government.

Some of the initiatives were general or thematic in nature and covered a range of sectors including: innovation; education; tourism; culture; diaspora engagement and network development. Other proposals were more specific and project orientated. The report "The First Global Irish Economic Forum — Two Years On" was prepared for participants at the 2011 Forum and provides an indication of the progress achieved on a number of the key initiatives, and a copy is being forwarded to the Deputy.

In addition to the specific initiatives, one of the most significant long term outcomes from the 2009 Forum was the significant increase in awareness it generated here within the public and private sectors of the importance of the Diaspora as a source of soft power. As a direct consequence of the Forum, many private and public sector entities now include a Diaspora dimension in their business planning strategies.

The Deputy will also wish to note that the Comptroller and Auditor General included a chapter on the 2009 Forum in his 2010 Annual Report which noted a "reasonable level of tracking and reporting". The second Global Irish Economic Forum took place in Dublin Castle on 7- 8 October, 2011 and the formal report of the Forum will be available shortly.

Croke Park Agreement

Simon Harris

Ceist:

73 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the position regarding the Croke Park agreement; if he has received implementation plans for this agreement from his Department and each State agency under his remit; the status of these implementation plans; the discussion he has had with the EU and IMF regarding the agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29686/11]

The Public Service Agreement, 2010-2014 (the Croke Park agreement) provides a framework for public service management and staff to work together to reduce the cost of delivery of public services while also maintaining or improving the quality of those services. An Implementation Body was established to drive the implementation of the Agreement across all sectors and ensure that early, robust and verifiable reforms were secured which would in turn lead to verifiable and sustainable savings in the cost of public service delivery. My Department's initial Action Plan under the Croke Park Agreement was submitted to the Implementation Body in October 2010, followed by a second iteration in early January 2011. The initiatives in the Action Plan, which build on on-going reforms in the Department's business processes, are kept under continuous review and have yielded significant savings in the administrative costs of running the Department. These reforms are contributing to the effort to meet the challenge of maintaining the range, quality and geographic scope of the policy, programme management, promotional and front-line citizen services provided by the Department with the reduced resources available.

The Department regularly reports to the Implementation Body, most recently this week, on progress made in implementing the actions specified in our Action plan as well as on savings being achieved. These progress and savings reports are published on the Department's and the Implementation Body's websites. My Department is fully cognisant of the extremely difficult economic and budgetary circumstances facing the State. Under my direction, it remains fully committed to ensuring that its responsibilities are fulfilled and that the frontline services it provides to the public are delivered as cost-effectively as possible. It is working hard to achieve reforms and savings within the specified timeframes and I am very satisfied with the progress being made in this regard. There are no State bodies under the aegis of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform has overall responsibility for coordinating the implementation of the Croke Park Agreement and for leading any discussions that may be appropriate with representatives of the EU or the IMF on that subject.

Pension Provisions

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

74 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the saving to the Exchequer if all existing public service pension payments to former employees of State agencies under the aegis of his Department were capped at €35,000 per year. [29781/11]

There are no State agencies under the aegis of my Department. However, I can advise the Deputy that three individuals who retired from the former Agency for Personal Service Overseas (APSO), which was integrated into my Department in 2004, are in receipt of pensions direct from the Department. The annual amount in each case is less than €35,000.

EU Funding

Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

Ceist:

75 Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his view on whether it is appropriate that Israeli arms companies (details supplied) that participate in the construction of Israel’s illegal wall and private companies based in illegal Israeli settlements receive EU funding through the seventh framework programme; the steps he is taking to ensure that such companies will not be able to participate in Horizon 2020; and his view on basing the rules for participation in Horizon 2020 on the UN guidelines for businesses and human rights. [30149/11]

Israel is one of a number of third countries participating as "associated countries" in the Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration activities (2007-2013). Such participation is governed by science and technology agreements concluded with each country concerned. The agreement with Israel was signed on 16 July 2007, with provisional application from 1 January 2007, and entered into force on 17 December 2008. Under the Agreement legal entities established in Israel are eligible for participation under the same conditions as legal entities established in the Member States. Israel makes a financial contribution to the Seventh Framework Programme in proportion to its GDP. This agreement applies for the duration of current Framework Programme. The Association agreement seeks to strengthen scientific and technological cooperation between the EU and Israel through the Framework Programme. Israel is a leader in many high-tech fields, and both the EU and Israel benefit from such exchanges. Israel is a small state with a large military sector, and most Israeli high-tech firms will have links or contracts with the military. However, the EU only funds specific activities targeting civil research that are clearly defined in the annual work programmes. No military research is or can be funded either directly or indirectly under the Framework Programme.

The Decision of the European Parliament and the Council adopting the Seventh Framework Programme provides that research activities supported by the Programme should respect fundamental ethical principles including those reflected in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. All proposals submitted for funding are subject to ethical review. The Government's position on Israel's security wall is clear: Israel is entitled to build such a wall if it wishes, on its own territory, but we do object to the large sections of it which are built on Palestinian land. Our problem is therefore not with the wall as such, or the companies involved in building it, as with the decisions of the government as to where it should run.

The EU has a clear position that the Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory are illegal, and a barrier to peace. I would agree that EU research funding should be consistent with wider EU policies. If the Deputy has evidence that funding to companies actually based in settlements has taken place I would be glad to see it. I understand that the rules for participation in the next Framework Programme — Horizon 2020 — will be set out in a Regulation of the Council and the European Parliament following a proposal from the Commission. When the Commission proposals are available they will be examined to ensure that procedures are in place to ensure that funding provided is consistent with wider EU policies.

Departmental Appointments

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

76 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Finance the reason he has decided not to reappoint a person (details supplied) to the European Court of Auditors. [29515/11]

Having taken all relevant factors into account, the Government has nominated Mr. Kevin Cardiff, Secretary General at the Department of Finance, for appointment to the European Court of Auditors. Mr. Cardiff will attend a hearing of the European Parliament's Budgetary Control Committee before his nomination goes to the Council for approval. As the Taoiseach said in the Dáil last week, "Mr. Cardiff carries with him a long career of distinguished public service here and the credentials to do a first class job in respect of the European Court of Auditors."

Appointments to State Boards

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

77 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Finance the remuneration of each of the five members of the Fiscal Advisory Council. [30013/11]

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

102 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the operating budget for the Fiscal Advisory Council for 2011 and the expected operating budget for the council for 2012, including salaries, premises, communication and administration costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29997/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 77 and 102 together.

In the Revised Estimates for Public Services 2011 published in July, the Fiscal Advisory Council was provided with an allocation of €300,000 for 2011. As the Council was established at the end of June, this covers the six month period of July to December 2011 and covers a number of costs associated with establishing the Council. The Estimates for 2012 are currently being considered and final allocations will be set out in the Revised Estimates for Public Services 2012 as is normally the case. However, at the time of establishment, it was envisaged that the Council’s annual allocation would be between €400,000 and €650,000.

There are five members of the Fiscal Advisory Council. Two of the Council's members are Irish public servants and they are not paid for their service on the Council. In the case of the remaining three members of the Council, a stipend of €5,000 will be paid.

Betting Regulations

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

78 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance if he will extend the opening hours of licensed bookmaking premises, which it is estimated would result in additional betting duty of €5.28 million per annum to the Exchequer. [30074/11]

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

113 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Finance his plans to extend the opening hours for betting shops for trading in the winter months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30151/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 78 and 113 together.

The proposed Betting (Amendment) Bill, which is being drafted at present, will amend the 1931 Betting Act to inter alia establish the regulatory framework for the licensing of remote bookmakers and betting exchanges, including measures to enforce the regulatory framework. The extension of the opening hours of retail betting shops over the winter period is being considered in that context.

An estimate of the potential tax revenue the extension of the opening hours would generate is not possible to predict as it would depend on a number of factors not least the number of betting shops that would avail of the new opening hours. I note that the representative body of bookmakers has estimated potential additional revenue of around 5 million euro which would include betting duty, PAYE, PRSI etc.

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

79 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance if he will license the use of technology in betting shops, which, it is estimated, could bring in between €2 million and €4 million per annum to the Exchequer, and upwards of €10 million to the Exchequer if applied to machines in all other locations. [30075/11]

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

112 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Finance his plans to review betting legislation, particularly in relation to the possible introduction of new technology into betting shops; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30150/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 79 and 112 together.

I will not be amending the betting legislation to allow for the introduction of gaming or any other type of gambling other than that of bookmaking into betting shops. The Deputy may be aware that the Minister for Justice and Equality is currently preparing a comprehensive Bill on gambling; however, the Minister has stated that new legislation will prohibit fixed odds betting terminals.

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

80 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance if he will reform the approach to betting taxation to combine a licensing system applied to all operators, be they in shops, over the telephone, or online, with taxation on profits and not on turnover. [30076/11]

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

114 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Finance when it is proposed to introduce the necessary legislation to tax online betting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30152/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 80 and 114 together.

The proposed Betting (Amendment) Bill, which is being drafted at present, will amend the 1931 Betting Act to inter alia establish the regulatory framework for the licensing of remote bookmakers and betting exchanges, including measures to enforce the regulatory framework. The drafting of the Bill, which is fairly complex, is well advanced. The Finance Act 2011 contained measures to allow for the extension of the 1% betting duty to remote bookmakers and for a 15% gross profit tax to betting exchanges. The taxation provisions are subject to a Ministerial Commencement order which can only be commenced when the Betting (Amendment) Bill is enacted.

Customs and Excise

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

81 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Finance the amount it is costing the Exchequer to supply the security measures currently in place for the facilitation of the Smithfield horse fair, Dublin, in terms of Customs and Excise officials; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30148/11]

The Revenue participation in operations in Smithfield are part of our ongoing efforts to counteract the shadow economy with a focus on tax, customs and excise duty evasion. Many of the personnel participating on the operations did so as part of their normal duties. Some staff who took part in the operations were eligible for overtime and travel and subsistence payments. In 2011 these payments amounted €1,736 for overtime and €127 for travel & subsistence.

Financial Transactions Tax

Kevin Humphreys

Ceist:

82 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Finance his views on a European-wide financial transaction tax, FTT; if he will provide any briefing documents drawn up by him on the FTT to this Deputy; if he has conducted an economic impact assessment on the FTT for Ireland; if not, his plans to conduct one; if he has made any submission to the EU Commission on President Barroso’s proposals for an FTT; if he will provide a copy of such to this Deputy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29457/11]

The European Commission recently published its proposal for a Financial Transactions Tax, or FTT. My Department is analysing the detailed proposals contained in the draft Directive. The draft Directive will now be subject to detailed discussions at EU level and, as always, we will participate constructively in those discussions. There is no consensus as yet among European Member States on this issue, either about whether an FTT should be introduced, or what precise form it should take.

It is important that any proposal does not have the effect of encouraging relocation of activity or damaging the EU's competitiveness in financial services. It is for this reason that there is an emerging view that the EU and other international groupings, such as the IMF and G20, should move together in a global manner to avoid the danger of financial sector business gravitating to jurisdictions where taxes are not levied on financial transactions. Indeed the Commission has indicated that it sees its proposal as part of a wider development in this area.

In my view any tax would be best applied on a wide international basis to include the major financial centres. I also think it important that the proposed Directive would apply on an EU wide basis to prevent any distortion of activity within the European Union.

The Commission is proposing that the FTT should be an "own resource" tax imposed centrally to fund the EU and will be developing proposals in the context of the future of the EU Budget. However, we will need to assess the impact of this on our contribution vis-à-vis the current system based on Gross National Income.

My Department has not conducted an impact analysis as yet but it is consulting with various parties on the possible impact of an FTT. The EU Commission published an impact analysis simultaneously with the Directive and this is available on the Commission's website. I have not made a submission to the Commission on the proposal as yet since we will be participating, as is normal, in the detailed discussions within the Council.

Civil Service Staff

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

83 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Finance the severance or pension arrangement that will be put in place for a person (details supplied) if they depart from their position as Secretary General of his Department to take up a position with the European Court of Auditors; if they will be entitled to receive a pension; and if they will receive severance pay or any other payments or allowances. [29482/11]

On resignation from the Civil Service, the person will take up a post with the European Court of Auditors. Given that he is being assigned to a position abroad, he will not be entitled to the enhanced superannuation provisions under the TLAC retirement terms for Secretaries General provided for in the Government decision of 5 March 1987. He will in due course be eligible for the standard Civil Service superannuation benefits, which will not include severance or added years on foot of the aforementioned TLAC terms.

Banking Sector Remuneration

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

84 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance, further to Parliamentary Questions No. 92 of 30 June 2011 and No. 92 of 21 July 2011, if he will investigate the reason the information on bonus payments at Anglo Irish Bank which he promised would be made available to the questioner was never made available but appeared in the print media in recent days following a leak in his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29489/11]

The assessment of the report into bonus payments at Anglo Irish Bank has taken longer than expected. However, the assessment has now been finalised and I will be in a position to make the information available to the Deputy within the next week. I regret the delay in this instance. I can assure the Deputy, however, that details of the report have not been leaked by anyone in my Department. The assessment and categorization of payments has just been completed by the Department in conjunction with the bank. The information will, as a matter of courtesy and respect be provided to the Deputy in the first instance.

EU-IMF Programme

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

85 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Finance the progress he has made in negotiations with the troika to achieve agreement for partial proceeds from the sale of the State assets to be used to fund domestic investment and stimulus. [28642/11]

The fourth quarterly review of the EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support for Ireland is still under way and is due to finish on 21st October 2011. The review comprises a series of meetings to evaluate all the elements of the programme covering fiscal developments including the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure and potential asset disposal, the macroeconomic outlook, progress on commitments in restructuring the financial sector and structural reform. Under the EU/IMF Programme, the Government is committed to considering options for an ambitious programme of asset disposals, based on the Programme for Government and the report of the Review Group on State Assets and Liabilities, and to preparing a draft programme of asset disposals in this context to be discussed with the External Partners in advance of taking final decisions on the programme to be pursued.

This draft programme is to include the identification of the potential assets to be disposed, any necessary regulatory changes and a timetable for implementation. As a signal of its intent in this area, the Government has announced that it is prepared to dispose of a minority stake in the Electricity Supply Board.

The use of the proceeds of any such asset disposals is a key issue for discussion with the External Partners. This is something on which we will continue to engage with the External Partners. The Government has already signalled its wish to retain some of the proceeds for reinvestment in job creation initiatives in the economy as part of the NewERA programme. Beyond this, I will not be in a position to comment any further until our discussions with the External Partners on the matter are completed.

Banking Sector Regulation

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

86 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance if he anticipates further stress tests for Irish banks in view of the likely impact of new stress tests in other EU countries on peripheral countries’ sovereign debt and the further impact on contingent convertible bonds and the capitalisation of Irish banks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29589/11]

The Central Bank has informed me that there are no formal proposals from the European authorities or otherwise in this regard. They have also advised me that as agreed in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and the Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies (MEFP) with our external partners, a further Prudential Capital Assessment Review (PCAR 2012) will be carried out in 2012 to assess the adequacy of the capital of the banks at that time as part of an ongoing programme of capital review.

National Asset Management Agency

Dominic Hannigan

Ceist:

87 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Finance if he has drawn up any plans to make amendments to the governing legislation of the National Asset Management Agency to include additional objectives to the agency’s remit; if a social dividend is one of these objectives; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29594/11]

I stated in the Seanad recently that I do not propose to change the NAMA legislation yet and that in the last three months, NAMA has been working more efficiently than was previously the case. The Deputy will also be aware that a senior international banker has been examining NAMA. I will consider his advice before deciding whether to initiate any changes to the objectives of NAMA.

Croke Park Agreement

Simon Harris

Ceist:

88 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding the Croke Park agreement; if he has received implementation plans for this agreement from his Department and each State agency under his remit; the status of these implementation plans; the discussion he has had with the EU and IMF regarding the agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29685/11]

Under the Public Service Agreement 2010-2014, detailed action plans have been developed across each sector of the public service to underpin the change and reform process envisaged by the Agreement. The Action Plans were first developed in October 2010 and subsequently revised in January 2011. Public service bodies in each sector were required to prepare their first detailed report on the progress being made in implementing their Action Plans last May and this formed part of the first annual review of the Agreement undertaken by the Implementation Body.

The second phase of progress reporting on the Agreement is under way at present. The Department of Finance will be submitting a return to the Implementation Body as part of this process. The return will reflect the functions of the Department of Finance following the establishment of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. It should be noted that it is the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform which has the responsibility for receiving the implementation plans for each Department and State Agency as well as the onward transmission to the Implementation Body of the aggregate material.

Sectors are due to submit updated progress reports to the Implementation Body during October. These sectoral reports will be examined by the Body and published on its website (www.implementationbody.gov.ie). It is expected that action plans will need to be revisited later in the year when decisions have been taken by Government on the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure.

The Government has indicated that the Public Service Agreement represents a key enabler to meeting its fiscal targets under its obligations under the EU/IMF Joint Programme of Assistance. The quarterly returns made to date by the Government under the Programme on public service numbers and the pay bill have indicated that the numbers of public servants are falling and we are on track to meet the existing target of 302,000 public service posts by end 2011. Similarly, the Exchequer pay bill return for the first six months is in line with the 2011 pay bill targets. The Government has indicated that it wishes to honour the commitments given in the Public Service Agreement. However, this will only be possible if the Agreement is implemented in full.

Pension Provisions

John Lyons

Ceist:

89 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Finance the rules governing access to an approved minimum retirement fund before the age of 75 years; and, specifically with regard to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 11, if a new guaranteed income requirement applies. [29730/11]

John Deasy

Ceist:

94 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Finance the number of persons in receipt of approved retirement funds; the number in receipt of approved minimum retirement funds; his plans to change the existing ruling whereby a person is unable to access their retirement fund until they reach 75 years of age; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29868/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 89 and 94 together.

These questions relate to the flexible options on retirement first introduced in Finance Act 1999. Prior to that Act, any person taking a pension under a defined contribution (DC) scheme or a Retirement Annuity Contract was required to purchase an annuity with their remaining pension pot after drawing down the appropriate tax-free lump sum. Finance Act 1999 introduced significant changes which gave a considerable degree of control, flexibility and personal choice to certain categories of individuals in relation to the drawing down of benefits from their pension plans. These choices include the options to purchase an annuity, to receive the balance of the pension fund in cash (subject to tax, as appropriate), to invest in an approved retirement fund (ARF) or an Approved Minimum Retirement Fund (AMRF), subject to certain conditions.

Access to these flexible options was extended to all main benefits from retirement benefit schemes (other than Defined Benefit arrangements) in Finance Act 2011. The changes made in Finance Act 2011 have particular relevance for ordinary members of occupational DC pension schemes in respect of the main benefits from such schemes, as up to the passing of the Act, the only option available to them in respect of those benefits had been the purchase of a retirement annuity after taking the tax-free lump sum. These individuals now have the choices referred to above depending on their particular circumstances. It should be borne in mind, however, that the option to invest in an ARF or AMRF as opposed to purchasing an annuity may not be appropriate for everyone.

Under the regime the options to — invest in an ARF, or — receive the balance of the pension fund in cash (subject to tax, as appropriate) are subject to conditions. The conditions include the requirements that the individual be over 75 years of age or, if younger, that the individual has a guaranteed level of pension income (specified income) actually in payment for life at the time the option to effect the ARF or cash option is exercised. Finance Act 2011 increased the guaranteed level of pension income required from the previous fixed amount of €12,700 introduced in 1999, to a variable amount equal to 1.5 times the maximum annual rate of the State Pension (Contributory) bringing the "specified income" limit to €18,000 per annum at present.

The purpose of the specified income limit is to ensure, before an individual has unfettered access to their remaining retirement funds via an ARF for example, that they have the security of an adequate guaranteed income throughout their retirement. The change to the specified income limit introduced in Finance Act 2011 was strongly signalled in the National Pensions Framework published in March 2010.

Where the minimum specified income test is not met, and an individual does not wish to purchase an annuity, then an AMRF must be chosen into which a "set aside" amount must be invested from the pension fund equal to 10 times the maximum annual rate of State Pension (Contributory) — €119,800 at present — or the remainder of the pension fund, after taking the tax-free lump sum, if less. Prior to Finance Act 2011, the "set aside" amount was fixed at the first €63,500 of the pension fund or the remainder of the fund after the tax-free lump sum, if less than that amount. The purpose of an AMRF is to ensure a capital or income "safety net" for individuals with pension income below the specified income limit throughout the period of their retirement. The funds in an AMRF can be used by the owner at any time to purchase an annuity. On death of the AMRF owner, the AMRF automatically becomes an ARF and any remaining funds may be passed on in a tax efficient way to a surviving spouse and/or children.

Prior to Finance Act 2011, if the minimum specified income test was not met at the time the option to effect the ARF or cash option was exercised and the individual placed a "set aside" amount in an AMRF, that capital sum was effectively "locked in" and could not be accessed by the individual, other than to purchase an annuity, until he or she reached 75 years of age (at which point the AMRF automatically becomes an ARF) though any income generated by the fund could be drawn down subject to tax. This was the position even if the minimum specified income test was met after retirement. Finance Act 2011 changed this rule so that where the minimum specified income test is met at any time after retirement and before age 75, the AMRF automatically becomes an ARF with full access to the funds.

As a transitional measure, Finance Act 2011 allows the previous lower guaranteed income requirement of €12,700 per annum to continue to apply for a period of 3 years from the date that Act was signed into law (6 February 2011)—

for individuals who had retired before that date and who already had an AMRF, and

for individuals who availed of the deferred annuity purchase option, had exercised the ARF (or cash) option within one month of the date of passing of Finance Act 2011 and who in exercising that option had transferred the requisite amount to an AMRF within that one month period.

This means that if such individuals satisfy the guaranteed income requirement of €12,700 within that three-year period their AMRF becomes an ARF. After this three-year period expires, the new higher guaranteed income test will have to be satisfied before the AMRF can become an ARF. The amount of guaranteed income required to meet the test will change in line with any future change in the maximum annual rate of State Pension (Contributory).

Where individuals do not meet the new specified income test and choose not to take the AMRF option, they can of course purchase an annuity. Depending on the particular scheme rules, the annuity can be designed to include features that best suit the individual's particular needs, in terms of how long the annuity payments may be guaranteed after death, whether they revert to a dependant after death and whether they remain at the same level or increase during payment.

There is no general requirement for data on the number of persons with ARFs or AMRFs to be returned to my Department or to the Revenue Commissioners. I am not, therefore, in a position to provide information on this point.

The Budget and Finance Act 2011 changes seek to ensure that those in pension arrangements to whom the flexible ARF options on retirement have been extended will have choices which best suit their particular circumstances. In making the changes, however, there was also a concern to ensure that the parameters and rules governing the extension are set in a way that avoids an increase in the risk of income poverty in old age. 1 The deferred annuity purchase option was introduced with effect from 4 December 2008 for members of defined contribution occupational pension schemes and allowed them to defer the purchase of an annuity for an initial period of 2 years, in light of the fact that pension funds had been adversely affected by the falls in equity markets and the more general falls in assets values. The deferral option was operated administratively by the Revenue Commissioners. The period of deferral was subsequently extended to 6 March 2011 i.e. one month beyond the passing into law of the Finance Act 2011.

National Pensions Reserve Fund

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

90 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Finance if, in respect of the National Pensions Reserve Fund, he will provide the total fund value size of each six month stage since 31 December 2006 (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29745/11]

The National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF) was established on 2 April 2001 under the National Pensions Reserve Fund Act 2000 for the purpose of meeting as much as possible of the cost to the Exchequer of social welfare pensions and public service pensions to be paid from the year 2025 until the year 2055, or such other year as may be specified by order. Subsequent amendments to the National Pensions Reserve Fund Act provide that the Minister for Finance may direct the National Pensions Reserve Fund Commission to invest in certain credit institutions, to buy Government bonds and, until 2013, to provide money to the Exchequer for capital purposes.

The total value of the Fund for the dates requested by the Deputy are set out in the following table:

Date

Published Value of NPRF (€bn)

31 December 2006

18.900

30 June 2007

21.032

31 December 2007

21.153

30 June 2008

19.462

31 December 2008

16.142

30 June 2009

19.406

31 December 2009

22.335

30 June 2010

24.062

31 December 2010

22.686

30 June 2011

20.828

Banking Sector

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

91 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the position held by a person (details supplied) on the day Anglo Irish Bank was nationalised in 2009; the position they held the day after Anglo Irish Bank was nationalised in 2009 and the position held by the same person currently in Anglo Irish Bank; the roles and responsibilities held by this person in each case; the number of staff under their management in each case; the name of the person to whom they reported in each case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29759/11]

As the Deputy is aware the Board of the bank is responsible for the day to day operation of the bank, including the appointment of and assignment of staff within the bank. The Minister's approval is required in relation to the appointment of senior management at the bank. The person to whom the Parliamentary Question refers is not or and has never been a member of the senior management team of the bank.

Public Service Pensions

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

92 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Finance the saving to the Exchequer if all existing public service pension payments to former employees of State agencies under the aegis of his Department were capped at €35,000 per year. [29780/11]

In response to the Deputy's question, based on 2011 figures there would be a saving of €638,000 per annum to the Exchequer if pension payments to former employees of the National Treasury Management Agency, National Pensions Reserve Fund, National Development Finance Agency, National Asset Management Agency and State Claims Agency were capped at €35,000 per year.

State Investment Fund

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

93 Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Finance when the proposed State investment fund or bank, as per the programme for Government, will be established. [28874/11]

Following a decision by the Government, I, along with my colleagues Mr Brendan Howlin, TD, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, and Mr Fergus O'Dowd, TD, Minister of State for NewERA, announced on Thursday, 29 September, the establishment of NewERA and the Strategic Investment Fund under the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA). The Strategic Investment Fund, which will be the forerunner of the Strategic Investment Bank, will, following appropriate legislative changes to the investment policy of the National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF), channel commercial investment from the NPRF towards productive investment in the Irish economy. As well as money from the NPRF, the Fund will seek matching commercial investment from private investors and target investment in areas of strategic significance to the future of the Irish economy. It will comprise a series of sub-funds targeted at commercial investment in critical areas of the Irish economy, including infrastructure, venture capital and provision of long-term capital for SMEs. The NPRF will take a lead role in the development and implementation of each sub-fund.

Question No. 94 answered with Question No. 89.

Tax Collection

Jack Wall

Ceist:

95 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Finance if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare is entitled to a tax rebate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29897/11]

I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that, based on records available, no tax rebate is due to the person concerned as no tax has been paid during the tax years 2007 to date.

Tax Reliefs

Simon Harris

Ceist:

96 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Finance the reason a person (details supplied) in County Dublin is being denied rent relief for the property in which the person is currently living in as a family home, in view of the fact that the person does not enjoy the use of any other residential premises; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29947/11]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the taxpayer had previously claimed, and was granted, rent tax credit for all years from 2007 to 2010 inclusive. No claim has been submitted for 2011.

Pension Provisions

John Halligan

Ceist:

97 Deputy John Halligan asked the Minister for Finance if he will clarify a matter (details supplied) regarding pensions. [29956/11]

The stamp duty levy of 0.6% applies to the market value, on the valuation date, of assets under management in pension funds and pension plans approved under Irish tax legislation. I cannot say what the precise impact of the levy will be on individual funds, schemes or members as this depends on whether and to what extent pension fund trustees and Life Offices decide to pass on the levy to individual members, given the particular circumstances of the pension funds or pension plans that they are responsible for.

I can say that the Finance (No 2) Act 2011 provisions which introduced the levy include certain safeguards in this area. The payment of the levy is treated as a necessary expense of a scheme and the trustees or insurer, as appropriate, will be entitled where needed to adjust current or prospective benefits payable under a scheme to take account of the levy. However, should the option of reducing scheme benefits be taken, it must essentially be applied in an equitable fashion across the different classes of scheme members that could include active, deferred and retired members. In no case may the reduction in an individual member's or class of member's benefits exceed the member's or class of member's share of the levy.

The Revenue Commissioners are also afforded oversight authority to review, where they consider it appropriate, instances where benefits are adjusted as a result of the payment of the levy to ensure that any such adjustment is in keeping with the requirements of the levy legislation. In undertaking any such review Revenue may consult with appropriate experts as they see fit. However, before Revenue could act in that regard, instances of concern on foot of actual adjustments made would first have to be brought to their attention.

As regards the questionable basis for applying the levy, the levy is a relatively small charge on the significant assets of pension funds, much of which are represented by investments outside of Ireland. As the legislation introducing the levy makes clear, it is for a temporary four 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 and applying a temporary levy to pension funds is less damaging economically than raising other taxes.

Tax Collection

Dan Neville

Ceist:

98 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Finance, further to Parliamentary Question No. 19 of 21 September 2011, if a decision has been made on the internal review in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [29975/11]

The Internal Review has finished and its conclusions were issued on the 26th September 2011. The decision was that the person in question would qualify if the conditions to Section 472 Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 were met. These conditions are: the employee is a "specified employed contributor" as defined in Section 472 or that the Income Tax (Employments) (Consolidated) Regulations 2001 have been complied with by her employer; the employee is a full time employee (i.e. is required to devote, throughout the year of assessment, substantially the whole of his/her time to the duties of the office or employment and the individual does in fact do so); and the amount of emoluments paid to the employee in the year of assessment is not less than €4,572.

Revenue needs to carry out a brief inspection of the records of the employer to ensure that the Income Tax (Employments) (Consolidated) Regulations 2001 have indeed been complied with. This inspection should be carried out shortly.

Financial Products

Peter Mathews

Ceist:

99 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding a matter (details supplied) regarding negative equity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29977/11]

The Central Bank has advised me that they wrote to all mortgage lenders to ascertain whether they were offering, or intended to offer, a mortgage product that would allow home owners to sell their existing home and transfer the negative equity portion of the original loan to the new loan. The Central Bank was concerned as to whether such products were in the long term interest of consumers as it could lead to indebtedness at a time when there was no certainty over the direction of future property values. In addition consumers would be moving to a new product and consequently those on tracker mortgages would move to fixed or standard variable rates which were generally higher than existing tracker rates. The higher rates would impact on the continued affordability of such mortgages and there would also be an increase in the loan to value ratios of many mortgages.

In response to the Central Bank's letter, only a small number of mortgage lenders said that they would consider offering such a facility, but it would be on an exceptional basis, would only be considered following an approach from an existing customer and would be subject to strict criteria in relation to debt service ratio, net disposable income, loan to value ratios, income multiples, credit history, transparency and suitability. A trial period commenced in mid-2011 and is due to be assessed by the Central Bank and the institutions involved before the end of the year. Any institution offering such a facility may only do so in accordance with criteria agreed in advance with the Central Bank and subject to a trial period. Consequently any arrangement that might be agreed with a customer would have to be in the context of the parameters set out above and not as a result of the introduction of a negative equity type product.

Tax Yield

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

100 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the amount the income levy in place last year would have returned in a full year if all those under the tax net were excluded from it. [29978/11]

The Income Levy was collected by the Revenue Commissioners as a component of Income Tax. I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that it is estimated that €1,446 million was collected from the Income Levy in the calendar year 2010. However, as is normal, it would have been expected that the total Income Levy liability for the income tax year 2010 would be higher at €1,710 million and the difference would have been collected in 2011/12.

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the estimated full year cost to the Exchequer of applying an exemption from the Income Levy for income earners outside the income tax net in 2010, in addition to the pre-existing Income Levy exemptions, would be in the order of €215 million in 2010.

These figures are estimates from the Revenue tax-forecasting model using actual data for the year 2009 adjusted as necessary for income and employment trends for the year 2010. They are, therefore, provisional and may be revised.

Departmental Transport

Seán Kenny

Ceist:

101 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Finance the number of marked and unmarked cars, vans and jeeps that are currently in use by Customs and Excise; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29990/11]

Revenue currently deploys 9 marked vehicles, including 2 mobile scanner units, and 164 other vehicles for operational purposes countrywide. Operations cover a range of Revenue activities including Customs and Excise work. Unmarked vehicles may be temporarily ‘marked' using appropriate signage when operational requirements prove necessary.

Question No. 102 answered with Question No. 77.

National Asset Management Agency

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

103 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Finance the amount of money lent or invested by the Exchequer in the guaranteed financial institutions and the National Asset Management Agency, broken down by institution, to date in 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30048/11]

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

104 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Finance the amount of money lent or invested by the National Pensions Reserve Fund in the guaranteed financial institutions and the National Asset Management Agency, broken down by institution, to date in 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30049/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 103 and 104 together.

In March 2011, the Exchequer provided a combined €3.06 billion to Anglo Irish Bank and INBS, representing the first instalment of the Promissory Notes committed to those institutions in 2010.

In June 2011, the Exchequer provided €25 million to EBS, representing the first instalment of the Promissory Note committed to that institution in 2010.

In 2011, at the direction of the Minister, the NPRF liquidated assets in order to set aside €10 billion in cash to meet the Fund's proposed contribution to the EU/IMF Programme of Financial Support for Ireland.

In July 2011, at the direction of the Minister, the NPRF invested the above mentioned €10 billion, €8,771 million in Allied Irish Banks and €1,229 million in Bank of Ireland.

€1,051m of the Fund's investment in Bank of Ireland was recouped from the sale of a portion of the investment to private investors. The proceeds from the sale (€1,017 net of transaction fees) are to be transferred to the Exchequer at the direction of the Minister for Finance, €233m was transferred in August. A second and final transfer of €784m is due to be made this month.

In July 2011 the Exchequer injected €3.883bn into AIB and EBS, of which €1.6bn was in the form of contingent capital and €2.283bn via capital contributions.

The Exchequer also injected €985m (net of expenses) of contingent capital into BoI (July 2011).

In July, the Exchequer provided €2.3bn of equity to IL&P, with an additional €0.4bn injected in the form of contingent capital (€2.7bn in total).

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

105 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Finance the amount of money paid by the guaranteed financial institutions and the National Asset Management Agency to the Exchequer and the National Pensions Reserve Fund by way of payment for the guarantee, interest, dividend or any other payment or repayment to date in 2011; the details of such payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30050/11]

The National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF) has also received the following payments in 2011. Directed Portfolio (Public Policy Investments made at the direction of the Minister for Finance) — €214 million in respect of dividends on preferences shares in Bank of Ireland. Discretionary Portfolio (the Fund excluding Public Policy Investments made at the direction of the Minister for Finance) — €200 million in respect of an Irish Life & Permanent mortgage-backed debt, which matured in July 2011; a €5 million interest payment in respect of an Allied Irish Banks Lower Tier 2 bond, which in addition was repurchased for €34 million in June 2011, and a €2 million interest payment in respect of an asset covered security issued by the Bank of Ireland Mortgage Bank.

In addition, and while not paid directly by a financial institution, by end-September €233 million in receipts had been paid into the Exchequer from the sale of part of the State's shareholding in Bank of Ireland. A further €784 million payment is due to be made this month.

Credit Unions

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

106 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance his views regarding the regulation of credit unions (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30066/11]

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

107 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance his view on whether specifying and laying down the total loan amount that can be issued each month is hindering the effectiveness of credit unions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30067/11]

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

108 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance his view on whether linking the total loan amount issued to cash received without reference to assets, reserves, liquidity and so on is hindering the effectiveness of credit unions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30068/11]

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

109 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance his view on whether imposing specific loan terms in addition to existing limits is not helpful to credit unions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30069/11]

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

110 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance his view on the fact that the approximately 400 credit unions are financially healthy, that they have €12 billion in assets, loans of €5 million and €1.7 billion in reserves, but over-regulation is actually threatening the stability of the credit unions by adversely affecting their most important source of income, loan interests; his further views on whether curtailing the ability to lend inhibits their ability to generate income; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30070/11]

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

111 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance his views on whether the banning of all commercial business loans affects the self-employed, tradesmen, farmers and so on; his further view on whether this is affecting the effectiveness of credit unions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30072/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 106 to 111, inclusive, together.

As Minister for Finance, my role is to ensure that the legal framework for credit unions is appropriate for the effective operation and supervision of credit unions. It would not be appropriate for me, as Minister for Finance, to examine or adjudicate on whether the placing of lending restrictions is necessary on a case by case basis. I believe that such action would represent interference in the work of the independent financial regulator.

The Registrar of Credit Unions has imposed lending restrictions on a significant number of credit unions in recent months. Within his independent regulatory discretion, the Registrar acts to support the prudential soundness of individual credit unions, to maintain sector stability and to protect the savings of credit union members. It is on this basis that the Registrar has put lending restrictions in place. Restrictions are imposed on a case-by-case basis and are reviewed regularly. The Registrar advises that no new policy is being implemented and that this is part of normal regulation and supervision of the sector.

The Registrar advises me that the restrictions are structured to allow credit unions to lend a higher number of small value loans to the broader membership, thereby reducing concentration risk. He also advises that initial analysis indicates that the credit unions which are restricted continue to have higher levels of arrears than those which are not and this remains a concern. The Registrar closely monitors and interacts with those credit unions where lending restrictions have been imposed.

Any restriction on a credit union is determined by the Registrar taking account of its financial data including the level of its lending, average loan size, its arrears trends and bad debt provision levels. Credit unions are able to continue to lend to members within their financial capacity to do so. If a credit union can demonstrate an improved financial position then such restrictions can be reviewed. The imposition of these restrictions is not considered lightly and the type of lending restrictions imposed takes account of the particular business profile and financial position of each credit union concerned. The type of lending restrictions can include maximum individual loan size and overall maximum monthly lending limits.

It is important to provide an accurate picture of the degree to which the Registrar has imposed lending restrictions and the type of restrictions being imposed.

About 50% of credit unions are subject to lending restrictions at present. Almost all credit unions with a lending restriction have a maximum individual loan size restriction. Of the credit unions with lending restrictions: 70% can lend €20,000 or more to an individual member; only 9 are restricted to loans of less than €10,000 to an individual member; and just 1 credit union is restricted to lending less than €5,000 per member.

With regard to commercial lending, commercial lending restrictions apply to approximately a third of credit unions. This does not preclude credit unions from lending small business type loans if appropriate in certain circumstances. It goes without saying that a credit union must have the relevant skill and expertise to evaluate and manage this category of lending and the resulting exposure to the credit union.

Question No. 112 answered with Question No. 79.
Question No. 113 answered with Question No. 78.
Question No. 114 answered with Question No. 80.

Appointments to State Boards

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

115 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Finance the saving to the State if all State agency board members’ annual payments were rescinded and instead board membership was awarded without remuneration. [30257/11]

In response to the Deputy's question, savings of approximately €1.121 million could be made if State agency board members' annual payments were rescinded in respect of State agency boards which come under the remit of my Department.

School Accommodation

John McGuinness

Ceist:

116 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to develop new school accommodation (details supplied) in Dublin 24; the contacts he has had in this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29469/11]

I can confirm to the Deputy that my Department is examining the accommodation needs of the school to which he refers. My officials will be in further contact with the school authorities as soon as this process has been completed.

Schools Building Projects

John McGuinness

Ceist:

117 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills the confirmed plans for a new school building (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29470/11]

The provision of a new building for the school to which the Deputy refers necessitates the acquisition of a suitable site. This is actively being pursued by my Department. Due to the commercial sensitivities attaching to site acquisitions generally, I am not in a position to comment further on this aspect of the matter at this time. Once a site has been acquired, the advancement of a building project will be considered in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. However, in light of current competing demands on my Department's capital budget, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of the project at this time.

John McGuinness

Ceist:

118 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will present an update on plans to provide the long awaited extension at a school (details supplied) in Dublin 24; if he appreciates the concerns of the local school community in the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29471/11]

The Major Building Project at this school is at an advanced stage of architectural planning. The design team is working on stage 2(b) of architectural planning, which includes applications for planning permission, fire certificate and disability access certificate and the preparation of tender documents. Planning permission was granted on 22 February 2011. Upon completion of stage 2(b), the design team will submit the required documentation to the Department. Subsequently, assuming no further issues arise, my Department will be in contact with the board of management with regard to the further progression of the project.

Special Educational Needs

Seán Crowe

Ceist:

119 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will reinstate the five special needs assistants that were lost to a school (details supplied) in County Wexford. [29474/11]

The Deputy will be aware that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. This now includes a requirement for the NCSE to have regard to an overall cap on the number of SNA posts. The NCSE has now advised all mainstream schools, including the school referred to by the Deputy, of their SNA allocation for the current school year, taking into account the care needs of qualifying pupils attending the school.

The NCSE recently published statistical information on the allocation of Special Needs Assistant posts and resource teaching hours to Primary Special and Post Primary Schools. The information is provided on a county by county and school by school basis on its website, www.ncse.ie. The school referred to by the Deputy has an allocation of 18 SNA posts and 97.6 Resource Teaching Hours. It is considered that, with equitable and careful management and distribution of these resources, 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 recruitment and deployment of SNAs within schools are matters for the individual Principal or Board of Management. SNAs should be deployed by the school in a manner which best meets the care support requirements of the children enrolled in the school for whom SNA support has been allocated. It is a matter for schools to allocate support as required, and on the basis of individual need, which allows schools flexibility in how the SNA support is utilised. The NCSE will advise schools in the near future of a process to review allocation decisions to ensure correct procedures were followed and they comply with my Department's policy. The merits of individual allocation decisions will not be open to appeal under this mechanism. It will be expected that schools, before requesting a review, will be in a position to demonstrate they have made every effort to manage their allocation of SNA posts to best effect.

Seán Crowe

Ceist:

120 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will reinstate the five special needs assistants that were lost to a school (details supplied) in County Wexford. [29475/11]

The Deputy will be aware that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. This now includes a requirement for the NCSE to have regard to an overall cap on the number of SNA posts. The NCSE has now advised all mainstream schools, including the school referred to by the Deputy, of their SNA allocation for the current school year, taking into account the care needs of qualifying pupils attending the school.

The NCSE recently published statistical information on the allocation of Special Needs Assistant posts and resource teaching hours to Primary Special and Post Primary Schools. The information is provided on a county by county and school by school basis on its website, www.ncse.ie. The school referred to by the Deputy has an allocation of 22 SNA posts and 84 Resource Teaching Hours. It is considered that, with equitable and careful management and distribution of these resources, 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 recruitment and deployment of SNAs within schools are matters for the individual Principal or Board of Management. SNAs should be deployed by the school in a manner which best meets the care support requirements of the children enrolled in the school for whom SNA support has been allocated. It is a matter for schools to allocate support as required, and on the basis of individual need, which allows schools flexibility in how the SNA support is utilised. The NCSE will advise schools in the near future of a process to review allocation decisions to ensure correct procedures were followed and they comply with my Department's policy. The merits of individual allocation decisions will not be open to appeal under this mechanism. It will be expected that schools, before requesting a review, will be in a position to demonstrate they have made every effort to manage their allocation of SNA posts to best effect.

School Transport

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

121 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of bus routes that are operational under the school transport scheme in County Cavan; the number of catchment areas; the number of students on each route; if changes to the school transport scheme mean that students outside a catchment area in which a service has been removed have to get a bus on another route; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29496/11]

I take it that the Deputy is referring to the Post Primary School Transport Scheme. There are seven post primary centres in County Cavan. Bus Éireann, which operates the School Transport Schemes, has advised that in the 2010-11 school year, over 1,600 pupils were accommodated on 58 vehicles operating on 58 routes to post-primary centres in County Cavan. In general, pupils who are availing of catchment boundary transport under the terms of the above scheme have to make their own way to and from a pick-up point within the catchment area of the school they are attending. If the Deputy has a particular case in mind, I will be happy to request a more detailed report from Bus Éireann.

Vocational Education Committees

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

122 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the criteria that were used in making decisions about headquarters in the VEC amalgamations; if the criteria were based on current or future issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29497/11]

In arriving at my decisions on the location of headquarters of merged VECs, I considered a range of factors including the need to ensure the location of a VEC headquarters will, to the greatest extent possible, facilitate staff redeployment under a redeployment scheme within the context of the Croke Park agreement and the need to operate at lowest cost having regard to the accommodation available in existing locations.

Higher Education Grants

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

123 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of students that have been deemed ineligible for student grants due to the fact that their course is at the same level as one previously attended; if he will provide this information on a county basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29498/11]

I regret that the information requested by the Deputy is not collated by the student grant awarding authorities.

Redundancy Payments

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

124 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a redundancy payment will issue to a person (details supplied). [29517/11]

An application for redundancy in respect of the person referred to by the Deputy was received by my Department on 9 September 2011. Redundancy applications are processed in date order of receipt. Every effort is being made to process these applications as quickly as possible. Applications received in December 2010 and January 2011 are currently being processed. The priority of the Department over the past two months has been to ensure replacement teachers and special needs assistants being appointed for the 2011-12 school year are placed on payroll for payment. This process has now been completed. Extra resources are currently being assigned to the redundancy unit to try and ensure special needs assistants who have been made redundant will have their claims for payment processed as quickly as possible. My Department will also now prioritise the processing of redundancy applications from those SNAs who have not obtained alternative employment in a non-teaching capacity in primary, secondary, community or comprehensive schools in the current school year.

Schools Building Projects

Noel Grealish

Ceist:

125 Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will give a commitment that funding will be provided for construction of the school (details supplied) in County Galway in view of the fact that planning permission has been granted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29524/11]

Once a site has been acquired, the advancement of a building project will be considered in the context of my Department's multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. However, in view of the priority being given to school applications for essential mainstream classroom accommodation to meet demographic demands which will be the main focus for capital investment in schools in the coming years, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of the project at this time

The current status of all projects on the school building programme may be viewed on my Department's website at www.education.ie and this will be updated regularly throughout the year.

School Accommodation

John Deasy

Ceist:

126 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application for a multipurpose room in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Waterford. [29549/11]

The school to which the Deputy refers has applied to my Department for funding for the provision of a General Purpose Room. In accordance with the agreed criteria for the prioritisation of projects, the application was assessed and assigned a Band 3 rating.

Given the current financial constraints within which my Department is operating, the position is that priority is being given to school applications for essential mainstream classroom accommodation. In this regard, the delivery of new schools, together with extension projects to meet the demographic demand, will be the main focus for capital investment in schools in the coming years.

The current status of all projects on the school building programme may be viewed on my Department's website at www.education.ie and this will be updated regularly throughout the year.

Third Level Fees

Robert Dowds

Ceist:

127 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on changing the residency requirements for third level fees in order that a student who met the residency requirement at some point during their studies could be subject to lower fees for the remainder of their course. [29575/11]

Currently under the terms of my Department's Free Fee Initiative the Exchequer meets the cost of tuition fees in respect of eligible students who are pursuing full-time undergraduate courses of study which are a minimum of two years duration in an approved higher education institution. The main conditions of the scheme are that students must be first-time undergraduates, hold inter alia EU/EEA/Swiss nationality in their own right, and have been ordinarily resident in an EU/EEA/Swiss state for at least three of the five years preceding their entry to an approved third level course.

I have no plans at present to amend the residency criteria of the Scheme.

Where undergraduate students do not meet the eligibility criteria of the free fees schemes, including the residency requirement, it is the higher education institution concerned that determines, in accordance with its criteria, the appropriate tuition fee (EU or non-EU rate) payable by such students.

Section 473A, Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997, as amended by Section 11 of the Finance Act 2011, provides for tax relief, at the standard rate of tax, for tuition fees paid in respect of approved courses at approved colleges of higher education including certain approved undergraduate and postgraduate courses in E.U. Member States and in non-EU countries. Details are available on the Revenue Commissioners' website at www.revenue.ie.

Special Educational Needs

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

128 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a piece of equipment will be made available to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29582/11]

Under Special Education's Assistive Technology Scheme, the Department provides funding to schools towards the cost of assistive technology for pupils in primary schools and special schools for personal computers and specialist software. However, funding is not provided towards the cost of communication devices.

On 08 September 2011, a letter issued to The Principal of Nagle Rice Primary School sanctioning the following software: Laptop Computer, Printer/Scanner, Clicker 5, Boardmaker and Step by Step. However, the Schools application for Eye Gaze Technology was refused as this is a communication device and does not come under the remit of the Assistive Technology Scheme. I am aware that the HSE has provided once off grants under the Aids & Appliances Scheme for "low and high tech assistive technologies including communication devices and computer access software. This funding is dispersed by local HSE services to local community care clinics or voluntary agencies. Information in relation funding under the Aids & Appliances Scheme is available from Local Health Centres.

Weight of Schoolbags

Kevin Humphreys

Ceist:

129 Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Education and Skills if there is a code of practice in place in schools to reduce the weight of school books that children have to carry home; his plans to work towards resolving this issue or directing schools to provide facilities to allow storage of books overnight; if teachers will be asked to ensure that pupils have to carry home the minimum amount of books; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29593/11]

My Department issued Circular M35/05 in 2005 to highlight the potential health hazard of overweight schoolbags and to outline a range of local measures that could be put in place to help alleviate the problem.

The circular referred to the recommendations of the previously published report of the Working Group on the Weight of School Bags. This report acknowledged that many of the solutions belong at local school level and made various recommendations in this regard, such as optimum use of storage facilities, developing pupil organisation skills and timetabling.

It is a matter for each individual school to determine which particular measures are most suited to its individual circumstances and to how the school concerned organises teaching and learning.

The circular and the report of the Working Group on the Weight of School Bags are available on my Department's website at www.education.ie.

School Curriculum

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

130 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the policy in place on the rights, if any, of children on the autistic spectrum to be taught some level of the Irish language, including children who attend ASD units attached to primary schools and who join mainstream classes for certain subjects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29595/11]

It is policy of my Department that all children attending primary and post-primary schools which are recognised by my Department should be taught Irish at a level appropriate to their ability unless otherwise exempted from the study of Irish in line with the provisions of Departmental circulars 12/96 for the primary sector and M10/94 for the post-primary sector.

Children on the autistic spectrum range from children who are high functioning and who have exceptionally good facility with language to those who are low functioning and may be non-verbal. Those who are at the higher functioning levels would be expected to be taught the full curriculum, including Irish, while those at lower functioning levels may be exempted from learning Irish where their circumstances meet the criteria for the granting of an exemption.

John Lyons

Ceist:

131 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to review the teaching of IT and computer skills at second level, including plans to review the existing curriculum; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29600/11]

John Lyons

Ceist:

132 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to utilise the opportunity provided by a revised junior certificate programme to allow for students to experience courses such as IT, computer science or computer engineering; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29601/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 131 and 132 together.

The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment advises that ICT is not a stand alone subject but rather a tool to be integrated into the teaching and learning of all subjects, and this is in keeping with international practice.

The NCCA has developed an ICT framework for schools setting out the skills which students should acquire at different levels across the curriculum. This is supported by the Council's action website which sets out practical examples of how ICT can be embedded in teaching and learning across the curriculum. The schools ICT programme is continuing, under which €92m was provided in infrastructure grants to schools between November 2009 and the end of 2010. This programme provides investment in professional development for teachers (12,000 places for teachers were provided in 2010 alone), an e-learning handbook for teachers, the schools broadband programme and extensive digital resources on the Scoilnet webset.

I have just received the advice on the NCCA on the future direction of junior cycle, and my officials are examining the proposals at present and identifying the resource implications. Once these have been identified and the Government has been informed, a process of engagement will begin with the partners in education on implementation plans. One of the objectives of the reforms is to promote increased creativity and innovation and better embed ICT across the curriculum. There will also be the opportunity for short courses to be provided by schools, and each subject will be assessed by means of a written examination and a portfolio. Taken together the reforms will present further opportunities for strengthening ICT across the curriculum.

Higher Education Grants

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

133 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills when higher education grants will be processed in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Mayo; and the amount each person will be awarded. [29608/11]

The processing of student grants is carried out by local grant awarding authorities: VECs and local authorities. The students in question should contact their grant awarding authorities to ascertain the position with their applications. The Deputy will appreciate that in the absence of all of the details that would be contained in a student grant application form, it would not be possible for me to say if a student would qualify for a grant or what level of grant they might be entitled to.

School Transport

Pat Breen

Ceist:

134 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason persons (details supplied) in County Clare have not been facilitated regarding their school transport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29620/11]

Under the terms of the Primary School Transport scheme pupils are eligible for school transport if they reside 3.2 kilometres or more from and are attending their nearest national school. The family referred to by the Deputy in the details supplied are not attending their nearest school and are therefore not eligible for school transport under the terms of the scheme. Pupils who are not eligible for school transport may apply for concessionary transport provided there are spare seats available on an existing service. In this case Bus Éireann, which operates the School Transport Schemes, has advised that the service in question is operating to capacity and it is not possible to accommodate the pupils referred to by the Deputy.

Schools Building Projects

Noel Coonan

Ceist:

135 Deputy Noel Coonan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress that has been made in relation to building works in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Tipperary; if construction has commenced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29655/11]

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that this school building project commenced on site earlier this year.

Croke Park Agreement

Simon Harris

Ceist:

136 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the Croke Park agreement; if he has received implementation plans for this agreement from his Department and each State agency under his remit; the status of these implementation plans; the discussion he has had with the EU and IMF regarding the agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29683/11]

In January 2011, my Department submitted a revised Action Plan for implementation of the Public Service Agreement in the Education Sector to the Implementation Body established by the Government to drive and monitor the Agreement's implementation. The Implementation Body published its first review of the Agreement in June 2011 which reviewed progress made and savings achieved in the first year of the Agreement.

My Department has received implementation plans and progress reports for the Agreement from the bodies and agencies under its remit, and these have formed the basis for the Education sector Action Plan and progress reports submitted by my Department to the Implementation Body. The second progress report to the Implementation Body, to report on progress made in the last six months, is in the process of being finalised. The Government has indicated that the Public Service Agreement represents a key enabler to meeting its fiscal targets under its obligations under the EU/IMF Joint Programme of Assistance.

School Inspections

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

137 Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he proposes to carry out a cost-benefit analysis of whole-school evaluations in relation to the amount of peripheral information necessary for inspections and the additional workload applied to our schools in view of the current challenging times in education. [29707/11]

I am pleased to advise the deputy that the Inspectorate of my Department is engaging in a continuing programme of reform and development of the range of inspection models that it employs, in fulfilment of its role under section 13 of the Education Act 1998.

Recent changes to inspection procedures include: a significant reduction in the volume of documentation requested from schools; a stronger focus on evaluating the learner experience in schools and on the quality of teaching across curriculum areas; greater emphasis on internal school self-evaluation and review processes; and the development of unannounced incidental inspection procedures for both primary and post-primary schools.

The reformed school evaluation processes are intended to be fair and reasonable in terms of what is expected of schools (including requests for necessary information) but they are also very clearly focussed on school improvement and ensuring that schools deliver effectively for all learners.

I should also note that the Inspectorate has developed additional materials to support schools in implementing school self-evaluation and is working with a number of pilot schools to develop these materials and processes further. This will ensure that robust processes of internal self-evaluation and external inspection can compliment each other to promote and secure continuing improvement in the work of schools.

School Curriculum

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

138 Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will cost the introduction of Project Maths in relation to the purchase of new textbooks for both junior and leaving certificate students. [29708/11]

Textbooks for schools are generally produced on a commercial basis by educational publishers. My Department has no function in regard to the selection of textbooks. This is a decision made at local level by schools.

It is the case that students would generally have purchased textbooks for maths in any event. My Department does not have an exhaustive list of textbooks available in Mathematics. However, examples of the range available include:

Understanding Maths 1 Junior Cert €20.95,

Understanding Maths 2 Junior Cert €21.95

Maths World 1 & 2 Junior Cert €18.50 each

Maths Volume 1& 2 Leaving Cert €16.30 each

Maths & Focus Lower Foundation Level €27.50

In the case of Project Maths, the website www.projectmaths.ie provides a range of resources for teachers and students, including teacher handbooks, teaching and learning plans, a student CD and booklet and interactive activities to accompany them, and links to additional resources provided by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment. Sample examination papers published by the State Examinations Commission for the Junior Certificate 2011, sample papers for the Leaving Certificate 2010 and 2011, and the actual examination papers for the Leaving Certificate in 2010 are also available at www.examinations.ie.

Teaching Council

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

139 Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will name three measurable improvements in education as a result of the introduction of the Teaching Council. [29709/11]

As the Deputy is aware, the Teaching Council has a wide range of statutory functions and objects, which include the regulation of the profession, the promotion of teaching as a profession, the maintenance and improvement of the standards of programmes of teacher education and training and the professional conduct of teachers and the promotion of the continuing professional development of teachers.

In carrying out its functions, the Teaching Council aims to promote and maintain the highest standards of teaching, learning and professional conduct in our schools. Since its establishment, much work has been done by the Council in the furtherance of its various aims, including, but not limited to, the establishment of the register of teachers, the publication of Codes of Professional Conduct for Teachers, the review of programmes of initial teacher education, preparation for commencement of the remaining sections of the Teaching Council Act 2001, and preparation of advice on a range of teacher education matters. Further detail on some of these follows:

In common with most self-regulated professions, the Teaching Council has established and maintains a register of its members. Currently, over 70,000 teachers are registered. The register stands as a verifiable expression of the standard of teaching, knowledge, skill and competence that teachers aspire to have and maintain. To be registered, a teacher must have attained a satisfactory level of professional qualification and training. Only persons who reach these standards will be able to work as teachers in State funded positions, except in limited time bound circumstances.

The Teaching Council has a statutory role in relation to the review of standards required for entry into the teaching profession, including the standards of knowledge, skill and competence required for the practice of teaching. The recent review of eight programmes of initial teacher education by the Teaching Council has provided an opportunity for the Higher Education Institutions concerned to demonstrate that they offer quality programmes of teacher education, and for the Teaching Council to make appropriate recommendations for the improvement of these programmes.

The Council recently published its policy on the continuum of Teacher Education, which was developed following significant consultation with stakeholders in education. The policy reiterates the critical objectives of promoting quality teaching and learning, as well as the centrality of the core values and professional commitments of the teaching profession. The policy will serve as the Council's framework for its functions relating to teacher education.

The Council recently also published criteria and guidelines for initial teacher education providers. These form a bridge between the Council's policy and the development and implementation of reconceptualised programmes of initial teacher education in Higher Education Institutions, providing clarity for HEIs to enable them to ensure that their programmes meet the Council's accreditation requirements.

Vocational Education Committees

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

140 Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the rationalisation programme of vocational education committees; and if he will list three measurable improvements in education in the vocational sector as a result of the introduction of amalgamations. [29712/11]

The previous Government decided in October 2010 to reduce the overall number of VECs from 33 to 16 and agreed on the merger of particular counties. In June of this year, the Government confirmed a reduction to 16 but decided to revise the configuration agreed by the previous government.

The new VEC structure fits with the Government's policy of reducing the number of agencies and is consistent with the strategic objectives of the transforming public service agenda through service delivery by a smaller number of agencies, each benefiting from efficiencies of greater scale.

This change will better position the sector for future development particularly in the context of the work of SOLAS. It will also facilitate the required reductions, under the public service Employment Control Framework, of administrative staff employed in VECs, while protecting the services provided by VECs.

The new bodies will be better positioned to establish shared services and to provide support services to schools not just within the VEC sector but to primary schools and other second level schools in their areas.

The Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes estimated savings of €3m arising from the rationalisation programme. I am satisfied that a saving of that order is a reasonable projection in the medium term.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Simon Harris

Ceist:

141 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the causes for a geographical area (details supplied) having the most overcrowded primary school classes in the country, according to a recent Irish National Teachers’ Organisation study; his plans to reduce class sizes in this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29714/11]

Stephen S. Donnelly

Ceist:

177 Deputy Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reasons for the discrepancy in average class sizes per county across the country; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that County Wicklow has the highest proportion of children in classes of 30 or more students; if he will give a guarantee that, should there be measures in budget 2012 to increase average class sizes, these will not impact on children who are already in classes of 30 students or more; if his further attention has been drawn to the fact that, according to the OECD, Ireland has the second highest average class sizes in Europe; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30169/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 141 and 177 together.

Class size data for all primary schools is compiled by my Department on an annual basis and is available on the Department's website. The most recently published data relates to the 2010/11 school year. The staffing schedule is the mechanism used for allocating mainstream teaching posts to all schools. It currently operates on the basis of a general average of 1 classroom teacher for every 28 pupils. Schools have autonomy on how these posts are deployed to individual classes.

School authorities are advised in the staffing schedule to ensure that the number of pupils in any class is kept as low as possible, taking all relevant contextual factors into account (e.g. classroom accommodation, fluctuating enrolment etc.) In particular, they should ensure, as far as possible, that there is an equitable distribution of pupils in mainstream classes and the differential between the largest and the smallest classes is kept to a minimum. With over 20,000 individual classes spread across all schools throughout the country there will always be differences in individual class sizes.

At this point I do not propose to give any specific commitment on the allocation of teachers to schools for the 2012/13 school year.

The number of teaching posts that we can afford to fund in schools is a matter that I will have to consider with my colleagues in Cabinet in the context of the next budget and meeting our obligations under the EU/IMF Programme.

The Government will endeavour to protect front-line education services as best as possible. However, this must be done within the context of bringing our overall public expenditure into line with what we can afford as a country. All areas of Government will have to manage on a reduced level of resources. The challenge will be to ensure that the resources that can be provided are used to maximum effect to achieve the best possible outcome for pupils.

School Accommodation

Noel Coonan

Ceist:

142 Deputy Noel Coonan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding funding for a resource room in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Tipperary; if same funding will be provided; when a decision will issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29731/11]

I can confirm that the school referred to by the Deputy was approved funding for a resource room in July 2011. This resource room was in addition to a mainstream classroom approved earlier this year in January.

Pension Provisions

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

143 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills the saving to the Exchequer if all existing public service pension payments to former employees of State agencies under the aegis of his Department were capped at €35,000 per year. [29778/11]

The information sought by the Deputy is being collated and will be forwarded as soon as possible.

Schools Building Projects

Robert Troy

Ceist:

144 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the length of time it will take to progress an application for a new school (details supplied) in County Westmeath in view of the fact that all technical issues are resolved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29790/11]

The major building project at the school referred to by the Deputy was included in the Work Programme for 2011 announced last January. The Design Team are currently working on finalising the Stage 2(b) Submission (Detailed Design) which will then be submitted to my Department for review. Subsequently, assuming no further issues arise, my Department will be in contact with the Board of Management with regard to the further progression of the project.

EU Funding

John Deasy

Ceist:

145 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the €35 million from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund announced for the construction industry will be accessible by self-employed persons whose businesses had been connected to the industry and who now have lost their employment due to the downturn; the criteria for access to this fund and if it only applies to PAYE persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29867/11]

On 7 October 2011, the European Commission approved co-financing of €35.7m under the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) in respect of three applications for assistance submitted in June 2010 for almost 9,000 employees made redundant at enterprises belonging to employers in the construction NACE 41, 43 and 71 sub-sectors between 1 July 2009 and 31 March 2010. These applications still require to be approved by the other EU budgetary authorities of the European Council of Ministers and the European Parliament.

The affected population of almost 9,000 employees were identified based on data held in the statutory redundancy payment system and in the FÁS redundant apprentice system.

Self-employed workers are not currently covered under the EGF Regulation for the period 2007-2013. A new European Commission proposal tabled on 6 October on an EGF Regulation for the period 2014-2020 does however propose the inclusion of self-employed workers. Discussions on the new proposals have not yet commenced at EU level.

School Accommodation

John Deasy

Ceist:

146 Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application for additional accommodation for a school (details supplied) in County Waterford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29869/11]

My Department is currently reconsidering an application for funding from the school referred to by the Deputy for the works in question. A decision will be conveyed to the school authority as soon as this process has been completed.

Special Educational Needs

Mary Mitchell O'Connor

Ceist:

147 Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the setting up of a special class for children with mild to moderate educational disabilities in the Dún Laoghaire area of County Dublin, in view of the fact that a school (details supplied) is oversubscribed for September 2012, leaving many sixth class primary school students in the area with nowhere to go in September; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29870/11]

The Deputy will be aware that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), is responsible for processing applications from primary and post primary schools for special educational needs supports. This includes the allocation of resource teaching hours to schools as well as the establishment of special classes in various geographical areas as required and the discontinuation of such classes where the need no longer exists. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such supports.

Second level schools which have enrolled pupils with an assessed special educational need are allocated additional resource teaching support on the basis of the pupil's special educational needs. Another specific function of the SENO is to identify appropriate educational placements for children with special educational needs. SENOs are a valuable source of support to parents who are actively sourcing a placement for their children. It is open to parents to contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available on www.ncse.ie.

Mary Mitchell O'Connor

Ceist:

148 Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a school place in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29871/11]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the enrolment of a child in a school is a matter in the first instance for the parents of the child and the Board of Management of a school. My Department has no role in relation to processing applications for enrolment in schools. The National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) is the statutory agency which assists parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child. The NEWB will try to help parents to find an alternative school placement if their child has been unable to secure a placement to date.

Where a school refuses to enrol a pupil, the school is obliged to inform parents of their right under Section 29 of the Education Act 1998 to appeal that decision to the Secretary General of my Department. Where an appeal under Section 29 is upheld, the Secretary General may direct a school to enrol a pupil.

The Deputy may be aware that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), is responsible for processing applications from schools for special educational needs supports. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. The SENOs co-ordinate special needs education provision at local level and arrange for the delivery of special educational services. They act as single points of contact for parents of students with special educational needs. Another specific function of the SENO is to identify appropriate educational placements for children with special educational needs. All schools have the names and contact details of their local SENO. Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available on www.ncse.ie.

School Staffing

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

149 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills how the education system will survive the exit of many teachers in February 2012; and if it is possible to extend the redundancy plan until 2012 to facilitate pupils and schools. [29874/11]

The Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Act 2009 provided for a reduction in the remuneration of public servants. Section 3 provided that the reduction in pay would be disregarded in the calculation of pension entitlements for any person who left service before the end of 2010 or a later date specified by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. The Public Service Pension Rights Order 2011 (S.I. No. 80 of 2011) sets 29 February 2012 as the later date. I am not empowered to extend this date which is of general application across the public service.

My Department is conscious of the potential impact of teachers retiring on State examination classes in post-primary schools. It is intended to issue information to schools on re-employing such teachers for the remainder of the school year where this is considered necessary to reduce that impact.

Traveller Training Centres

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

150 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will review a matter regarding the closure of a training centre. [29885/11]

The centre referred to is a Senior Traveller Training Centre (STTC) managed by County Dublin Vocational Education Committee (VEC). In line with the Traveller Education Strategy and the 2008 Value for Money (VFM) Review of Youthreach and STTCs, it was announced in Budget 2011 that an integrated further education provision for Travellers would be implemented through the phasing out of STTCs by June 2012 and replacement places, prioritised for Travellers, being provided under the Back to Education Initiative (BTEI).

I understand that County Dublin VEC has decided to close this centre as part of the implementation of the phasing out process and the learners have been given an opportunity to continue their education programme for this academic year at another STTC managed by the VEC.

Schools Refurbishment

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

151 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills if further consideration will be given to an application for funding towards the provision of toilet facilities at a school (details supplied) in County Cavan; if this application will be urgently reviewed in view of the case made in correspondence to his Department by the secretary of the board of management; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29895/11]

My Department is currently considering an application for funding from the school referred to by the Deputy for the works in question. A decision will be conveyed to the school authority as soon as this process has been completed.

FÁS Training Programmes

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

152 Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the arrangements for training of new employees by employers; if there are interim arrangements with FÁS in such circumstances; if so, the budget available; the arrangements in place between him and the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in respect of such training; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28949/11]

I understand that FÁS Training Services has no mechanism to fund or part-fund the training of new employees or to provide or procure training or assist with providing/procuring training for new employees. However, new employees may enrol on a suitable FÁS night course for a fee.

In addition, through Skillnets, which is funded by my Department from the National Training Fund, employers can benefit from subsidised training for all their employees (both new and existing) by joining a Skillnets network. A full list of Skillnets networks together with contact details and other information can be accessed via www.skillnets.ie/networks.

Also, I understand that FÁS in association with my Department and the Department of Social Protection operates a series of training and employment supports to assist people with disabilities to access and progress in employment.

School Curriculum

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

153 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills his view on the possibility of making computer science a full syllabus subject at primary level and at secondary junior and senior cycle level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29922/11]

I have no plans to make computer science a specific subject in schools. The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment advises that ICT is not a standalone subject but rather a tool to be integrated into the teaching and learning of all subjects, and this is in keeping with international practice. The NCCA has developed an ICT framework for schools setting out the skills which students should acquire at different levels across the curriculum. This is supported by the Council's action website which sets out practical examples of how ICT can be embedded in teaching and learning across the curriculum. The schools ICT programme is continuing, under which €92m was provided in infrastructure grants to schools between November 2009 and the end of 2010. This programme provides investment in professional development for teachers (12,000 places for teachers were provided in 2010 alone), an e-learning handbook for teachers, the schools broadband programme and extensive digital resources on the Scoilnet website.

I have just received the advice on the NCCA on the future direction of junior cycle, and my officials are examining the proposals at present and identifying the resource implications. Once these have been identified and the Government has been informed, a process of engagement will begin with the partners in education on implementation plans. One of the objectives of the reforms is to promote increased creativity and innovation and better embed ICT across the curriculum. There will also be the opportunity for short courses to be provided by schools, and each subject will be assessed by means of a written examination and a portfolio. Taken together the reforms will present further opportunities for strengthening ICT across the curriculum.

Schools Refurbishment

Paschal Donohoe

Ceist:

154 Deputy Paschal Donohoe asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the difficulties facing a school (details supplied) in Dublin 7 in respect of concrete spalling; his view on the funding of repairs and remedial work through either the summer works scheme or the emergency works programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29936/11]

An application under my Department's Emergency Works Scheme for repairs to spalling concrete has been received from the schools 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 schools have been informed of the decision. However, it is open to the schools in question to apply for funding under future rounds of the Summer Works Scheme to have this work carried out.

Teacher Training

Eamonn Maloney

Ceist:

155 Deputy Eamonn Maloney asked the Minister for Education and Skills the current number of students preparing to become primary teachers through the BEd programme in colleges of education; the numbers currently enrolled in the Hibernia College primary teacher programme; the number of graduates from each of these courses in the past three years; his plans to limit primary teacher supply in view of concerns regarding unemployment among newly qualified teachers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29946/11]

Anecdotal evidence indicates that there is an oversupply of teachers currently and that there are newly qualified teachers not yet holding teaching positions in schools. The level of student intake to the state-funded Colleges of Education is determined annually by my Department and it takes account of the supply of, and demand for, primary teachers. The level of intake to these Colleges has decreased in recent years in light of available resources and factors impacting on demand. This situation is subject to review.

My Department has introduced a circular which obliges schools to recruit unemployed teachers ahead of retired ones, in an effort to ease the difficulties for those who cannot find work in the profession.

In addition, the Deputy might also wish to note that the JobBridge National Internship Scheme has recently been extended to teachers. This provides newly-qualified teachers with opportunities to gain experience and to undertake the necessary teaching duties to complete the process of probation and fulfil the requirements for full registration with the Teaching Council.

The statistics requested by the Deputy are set out in the following table with the exception of the data from Hibernia College which will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as it is received from the College. This data does not include the number of graduates from the postgraduate diploma in education (primary).

2011

2010

2009

Primary ITE Providers

Bachelor of Education Years 1-3 Current Enrolment

B.Ed Graduates

B.Ed Graduates

B.Ed Graduates

Mary Immaculate College of Education

1,239

407

377

353

Church of Ireland College of Education

94

31

27

23

St. Patrick’s College of Education

1,261

360

358

365

Froebel College of Education

199

63

75

66

Coláiste Mhuire, Marino

320

85

83

70

3,113

946

920

877

School Accommodation

Alan Farrell

Ceist:

156 Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Education and Skills the schools in Dublin north in which prefabricated buildings are in use at primary and second level; the position of each school on the school building project in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30003/11]

A list of the primary and post primary schools in County Dublin that have rented temporary accommodation is included for the Deputy's attention. My Department does not hold such information in the sub-county format as requested. The Deputy may wish to note that in cases where schools have been approved for additional accommodation, schools have the option of building permanent classrooms or of purchasing prefabricated buildings.

The current status of all projects on the school building programme may be viewed on my Department's website at www.education.ie and this will be updated regularly throughout the year.

Rented Prefabs in Dublin — Primary and Post-Primary

(Please note that one prefab unit may consist of one or more classrooms and/or Ancillary Accommodation) — October 2011

Roll No.

School Name

Address

Town/ Townland

County

Desc. of rental

00697S

St Brigids Mixed Ns

Castleknock

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

00697S

St Brigids Mixed Ns

Castleknock

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

00697S

St Brigids Mixed Ns

Castleknock

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

00697S

St Brigids Mixed Ns

Castleknock

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

00752A

Central Model Senior Mixed NS

Marlborough St

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

01170G

Naul National School

Naul

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

01170G

Naul National School

Naul

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

01170G

Naul National School

Naul

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

01795A

Central Model Infants School

Marlborough St

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

01795A

Central Model Infants School

Marlborough St

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

01795A

Central Model Infants School

Marlborough St

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

06200O

St Mary’s BNS

Grotto Place

Boosterstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

07546J

Our Lady of Lourdes NS

Goldenbridge

Inchicore

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

07546J

Our Lady of Lourdes NS

Goldenbridge

Inchicore

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

07546J

Our Lady of Lourdes NS

Goldenbridge

Inchicore

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

07546J

Our Lady of Lourdes NS

Goldenbridge

Inchicore

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

07546J

Our Lady of Lourdes NS

Goldenbridge

Inchicore

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

07546J

Our Lady of Lourdes NS

Goldenbridge

Inchicore

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

07546J

Our Lady of Lourdes NS

Goldenbridge

Inchicore

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

09492W

Balscadden School

Balscadden

Balbriggan

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

09492W

Balscadden School

Balscadden

Balbriggan

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

09932B

Stanhope St Convent

Stanhope St

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

12014D

St Andrew’s NS

Chapel Hill

Lucan

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

12014D

St Andrew’s NS

Chapel Hill

Lucan

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

12014D

St Andrew’s NS

Chapel Hill

Lucan

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

14180H

Holmpatrick NS

Convent Lane

Skerries

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

16333Q

St. Patricks JNS

Skerries

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

16333Q

St. Patricks JNS

Skerries

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

16461C

St Finian’s NS

Newcastle Lyons

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

16461C

St Finian’s NS

Newcastle Lyons

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

16461C

St Finian’s NS

Newcastle Lyons

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

16461C

St Finian’s NS

Newcastle Lyons

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

16461C

St Finian’s NS

Newcastle Lyons

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

16675V

Mulhuddart NS

Powerstown Road

Tyrrelstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

16675V

Mulhuddart NS

Powerstown Road

Tyrrelstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

16675V

Mulhuddart NS

Powerstown Road

Tyrrelstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

16675V

Mulhuddart NS

Powerstown Road

Tyrrelstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

16675V

Mulhuddart NS

Powerstown Road

Tyrrelstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

16675V

Mulhuddart NS

Powerstown Road

Tyrrelstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

16860Q

Corpus Christi NS

Home Farm Rd

Drumcondra

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

16972E

SS Peter & Paul JNS

Chapel Street

Balbriggan

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

16972E

SS Peter & Paul JNS

Chapel Street

Balbriggan

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

16972E

SS Peter & Paul JNS

Chapel Street

Balbriggan

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17055T

Scoil Naomh Mhuire

Saggart

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17055T

Scoil Naomh Mhuire

Saggart

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17055T

Scoil Naomh Mhuire

Saggart

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17055T

Scoil Naomh Mhuire

Saggart

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17055T

Scoil Naomh Mhuire

Saggart

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17055T

Scoil Naomh Mhuire

Saggart

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17055T

Scoil Naomh Mhuire

Saggart

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17055T

Scoil Naomh Mhuire

Saggart

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17055T

Scoil Naomh Mhuire

Saggart

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17055T

Scoil Naomh Mhuire

Saggart

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17055T

Scoil Naomh Mhuire

Saggart

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17055T

Scoil Naomh Mhuire

Saggart

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17083B

Scoil Mhuire gan Smal

Dublin 8

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17472M

Hedgestown NS

Hedgestown

Lusk

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17559B

St. Mary’s NS

Garristown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17569E

St Oliver Plunkett NS

Balrothery

Balbriggan

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17569E

St Oliver Plunkett NS

Balrothery

Balbriggan

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17691E

Lusk NS

Chapel Rd

Lusk

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17912O

St John Boscos SBS

Navan Rd

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17912O

St John Boscos SBS

Navan Rd

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17912O

St John Boscos SBS

Navan Rd

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17912O

St John Boscos SBS

Navan Rd

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17912O

St John Boscos SBS

Navan Rd

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17953F

Edmondstown NS

Edmondstown

Rathfarnham

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17961E

Lusk NS

Chapel Rd

Lusk

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17961E

Lusk NS

Chapel Rd

Lusk

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17961E

Lusk NS

Chapel Rd

Lusk

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17961E

Lusk NS

Chapel Rd

Lusk

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17961E

Lusk NS

Chapel Rd

Lusk

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17961E

Lusk NS

Chapel Rd

Lusk

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17961E

Lusk NS

Chapel Rd

Lusk

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17961E

Lusk NS

Chapel Rd

Lusk

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17961E

Lusk NS

Chapel Rd

Lusk

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17961E

Lusk NS

Chapel Rd

Lusk

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17961E

Lusk NS

Chapel Rd

Lusk

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17961E

Lusk NS

Chapel Rd

Lusk

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17961E

Lusk NS

Chapel Rd

Lusk

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17977T

Scoil Aine

Raheny

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17978V

Naiscoil Ide

All Saints Drive

Raheny

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

17978V

Naiscoil Ide

All Saints Drive

Raheny

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18046A

Scoil Bhríde BNS

Church Ave

Blanchardstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18046A

Scoil Bhríde BNS

Church Ave

Blanchardstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18046A

Scoil Bhride BNS

Church Ave

Blanchardstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18047C

Scoil Bhride GNS

Blanchardstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18047C

Scoil Bhride GNS

Blanchardstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18047C

Scoil Bhride GNS

Blanchardstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18047C

Scoil Bhride GNS

Blanchardstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18210K

St Michaels House Special School

College St

Baldoyle

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18210K

St Michaels House Special School

College St

Baldoyle

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18210K

St Michaels House Special School

College St

Baldoyle

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18210K

St Michaels House Special School

College St

Baldoyle

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18210K

St Michaels House Special School

College St

Baldoyle

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18210K

St Michaels House Special School

College St

Baldoyle

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18210K

St Michaels House Special School

College St

Baldoyle

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18210K

St Michaels House Special School

College St

Baldoyle

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18386B

Marist NS

Crumlin

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18386B

Marist NS

Crumlin

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18411U

St Marys NS

Bancroft Ave

Tallaght

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18411U

St Marys NS

Bancroft Ave

Tallaght

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18411U

St Marys NS

Bancroft Ave

Tallaght

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18412W

Scoil Phadraic C

Donabate

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18632N

SN Eoin Bosco

Navan Rd

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18763F

St Michaels Special NS

Ballymun Rd

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18763F

St Michaels Special NS

Ballymun Rd

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18763F

St Michaels Special NS

Ballymun Rd

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18778S

St. Mochta’s NS

Porterstown Road

Clonsilla

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18778S

St. Mochta’s NS

Porterstown Road

Clonsilla

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18778S

St. Mochta’s NS

Porterstown Road

Clonsilla

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18778S

St. Mochta’s NS

Porterstown Road

Clonsilla

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18778S

St. Mochta’s NS

Porterstown Road

Clonsilla

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18778S

St. Mochta’s NS

Porterstown Road

Clonsilla

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18778S

St. Mochta’s NS

Porterstown Road

Clonsilla

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18815V

Our Lady of Lourds

Rochestown Ave

Dun Laogharie

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18817C

Scoil Bhride

Ranelagh

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18976W

St Colmcilles BNS

Chapel Lane

Swords

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18976W

St Colmcilles BNS

Chapel Lane

Swords

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18977B

St Colmcilles GNS

Chapel Lane

Swords

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18977B

St Colmcilles GNS

Chapel Lane

Swords

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

18977B

St Colmcilles GNS

Chapel Lane

Swords

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19066L

Loreto Primary

Dalkey

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19220S

Scoil Ide

New Rd

Clondalkin

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19220S

Scoil Ide

New Rd

Clondalkin

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19221U

Scoil Aine

New Rd

Clondalkin

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19221U

Scoil Aine

New Rd

Clondalkin

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19221U

Scoil Aine

New Rd

Clondalkin

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19259W

St. Patricks GNS

Foxrock

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19319O

St Olafs NS

Balally Drive

Dundrum

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19319O

St Olafs NS

Balally Drive

Dundrum

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19319O

St Olafs NS

Balally Drive

Dundrum

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19374W

Our Lady’s Grove NS

Goatstown Rd

Goatstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19374W

Our Lady’s Grove NS

Goatstown Rd

Goatstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19374W

Our Lady’s Grove NS

Goatstown Rd

Goatstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19374W

Our Lady’s Grove NS

Goatstown Rd

Goatstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19390U

St. Marks SNS

Tallaght

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19435Q

St Francis Xavier JNS

Roselawn Rd

Castleknock

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19435Q

St Francis Xavier JNS

Roselawn Rd

Castleknock

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19435Q

St Francis Xavier JNS

Roselawn Rd

Castleknock

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19435Q

St Francis Xavier JNS

Roselawn Rd

Castleknock

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19470S

St Francis Xavier JNS

Coolmine

Castleknock

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19472W

St Marks JNS

Springfield

Tallaght

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19472W

St Marks JNS

Springfield

Tallagh

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19472W

St Marks JNS

Springfield

Tallaght

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19472W

St Marks JNS

Springfield

Tallaght

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19472W

St Marks JNS

Springfield

Tallaght

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19510E

Talbot SNS

Bawnogue

Clondalkin

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19510E

Talbot SNS

Bawnogue

Clondalkin

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19510E

Talbot SNS

Bawnogue

Clondalkin

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19515O

St. Teresa’s NS

Balbriggan Rd

Balbriggan

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19515O

St. Teresa’s NS

Balbriggan Rd

Balbriggan

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19515O

St. Teresa’s NS

Balbriggan Rd

Balbriggan

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19515O

St. Teresa’s NS

Balbriggan Rd

Balbriggan

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19535U

St Cronan’s SNS

Brackenstown

Swords

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19535U

St Cronan’s SNS

Brackenstown

Swords

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19535U

St Cronan’s SNS

Brackenstown

Swords

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19535U

St Cronan’s SNS

Brackenstown

Swords

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19535U

St Cronan’s SNS

Brackenstown

Swords

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19545A

St Patricks JNS

Corduff

Blanchardstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19574H

Divine Word NS

Marley Grange

Rathfarnham

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19574H

Divine Word NS

Marley Grange

Rathfarnham

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19601H

St Philip the Apostle JNS

Mountview

Clonsilla

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19605P

Scoil Mhuire JNS

Blakestown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19624T

St Catherine’s NS

Kenure

Rush

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19624T

St Catherine’s NS

Kenure

Rush

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19624T

St Catherine’s NS

Kenure

Rush

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19625V

Scoil Realt na Mara

Balbriggan Rd

Skerries

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19625V

Scoil Realt na Mara

Balbriggan Rd

Skerries

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19625V

Scoil Realt na Mara

Balbriggan Rd

Skerries

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19628E

St Fiachras SNS

Montrose Park

Beaumount

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19628E

St Fiachras SNS

Montrose Park

Beaumount

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19628E

St Fiachras SNS

Montrose Park

Beaumount

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19636D

St Patricks SNS

Corduff

Blanchardstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19636D

St Patricks SNS

Corduff

Blanchardstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19636D

St Patricks SNS

Corduff

Blanchardstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19636D

St Patricks SNS

Corduff

Blanchardstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19636D

St Patricks SNS

Corduff

Blanchardstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19643A

St Philips SNS

Clonsilla

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19643A

St Philips SNS

Clonsilla

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19652B

Sacred Heart NS

Tallaght

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19660A

Rush NS

Rush

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19660A

Rush NS

Rush

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19660A

Rush NS

Rush

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19660A

Rush NS

Rush

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19662E

St Michael’s Primary School

Dominican Campus

Ballyfermot

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19676P

Scoil Aine Naofa

Esker

Lucan

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19676P

Scoil Aine Naofa

Esker

Lucan

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19757P

St Michaels Special NS

Skerries

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19782O

St Brigids JNS

Brookfield

Tallaght

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19782O

St Brigids JNS

Brookfield

Tallaght

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19782O

St Brigids JNS

Brookfield

Tallaght

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19782O

St Brigids JNS

Brookfield

Tallaght

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19782O

St Brigids JNS

Brookfield

Tallaght

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19785U

St Bernadettes SNS

Quarryvale

Clondalkin

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19785U

St Bernadettes SNS

Quarryvale

Clondalkin

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19785U

St Bernadettes SNS

Quarryvale

Clondalkin

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19785U

St Bernadettes SNS

Quarryvale

Clondalkin

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19817H

Scoil Mhuire

Woodview

Lucan

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19817H

Scoil Mhuire

Woodview

Lucan

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19817H

Scoil Mhuire

Woodview

Lucan

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19817H

Scoil Mhuire

Woodview

Lucan

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19834H

St Aidans NS

Brookfield

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19834H

St Aidans NS

Brookfield

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19834H

St Aidans NS

Brookfield

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19834H

St Aidans NS

Brookfield

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19877C

Holy Family SNS

River Valley

Swords

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19877C

Holy Family SNS

River Valley

Swords

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19878E

Holy Rosary PS

Old Court Avenue

Firhouse

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19878E

Holy Rosary PS

Old Court Avenue

Firhouse

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19878E

Holy Rosary PS

Old Court Avenue

Firhouse

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19878E

Holy Rosary PS

Old Court Avenue

Firhouse

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19878E

Holy Rosary PS

Old Court Avenue

Firhouse

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19878E

Holy Rosary PS

Old Court Avenue

Firhouse

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19878E

Holy Rosary PS

Old Court Avenue

Firhouse

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19878E

Holy Rosary PS

Old Court Avenue

Firhouse

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19878E

Holy Rosary PS

Old Court Avenue

Firhouse

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19907I

Gaelscoil Mologa

Charleville Road

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19949B

Muslim NS

19 Roebuck Rd

Clonskeagh

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20012S

Griffith Barracks Multi D School

The Old Guard House

South Circular Rd

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20012S

Griffith Barracks Multi D School

The Old Guard House

South Circular Rd

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20028K

Setanta Special School

Stillorgan

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20028K

Setanta Special School

Stillorgan

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20028K

Setanta Special School

Stillorgan

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20028K

Setanta Special School

Stillorgan

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20035H

St. Gabriels NS

Cowper St

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20043G

Gaelscoil Chnoc liamhna

Sean Bhothar Chnoc Liamhna

Cnoc Liamhna

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20047O

Gaelscoil Bharra

Ascal an Fhasaigh

Cabra

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20047O

Gaelscoil Bharra

Ascal an Fhasaigh

Cabra

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20139T

Inchicore NS

Sarsfield Road

Inchicore

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20139T

Inchicore NS

Sarsfield Road

Inchicore

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20139T

Inchicore NS

Sarsfield Road

Inchicore

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20152T

North Dublin Muslim School

Cabra

Inchicore

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20152T

North Dublin Muslim School

Cabra

Inchicore

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20152T

North Dublin Muslim School

Cabra

Inchicore

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20168D

Glasnevin Educate Together NS

Church Ave

Glasnevin

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20190T

Holy Trinity NS

Glencairn Drive, The Gallops

Leopardstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20190T

Holy Trinity NS

Glencairn Drive, The Gallops

Leopardstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20190T

Holy Trinity NS

Glencairn Drive, The Gallops

Leopardstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20190T

Holy Trinity NS

Glencairn Drive, The Gallops

Leopardstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20190T

Holy Trinity NS

Glencairn Drive, The Gallops

Leopardstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20190T

Holly Trinity NS

Glencairn Drive, The Gallops

Leopardstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20190T

Holy Trinity NS

Glencairn Drive, The Gallops

Leopardstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20190T

Holy Trinity NS

Glencairn Drive, The Gallops

Leopardstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20190T

Holy Trinity NS

Glencairn Drive, The Gallops

Leopardstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20190T

Holy Trinity NS

Glencairn Drive, The Gallops

Leopardstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20190T

Holy Trinity NS

Glencairn Drive, The Gallops

Leopardstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20190T

Holy Trinity NS

Glencairn Drive, The Gallops

Leopardstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20190T

Holy Trinity NS

Glencairn Drive, The Gallops

Leopardstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20190T

Holy Trinity NS

Glencairn Drive, The Gallops

Leopardstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20190T

Holy Trinity NS

Glencairn Drive, The Gallops

Leopardstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20304I

St. Francis of Assisi

Belmayne

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20308Q

Belmayne ETNS

Belmayne

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20334R

Gaelscoil Ros Eo

Rush

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20334R

Gaelscoil Ros Eo

Rush

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20334R

Gaelscoil Ros Eo

Rush

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20348F

Hollywell ETNS

Swords

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20348F

Hollywell ETNS

Swords

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20348F

Hollywell ETNS

Swords

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20348F

Hollywell ETNS

Swords

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

20348F

Hollywell ETNS

Swords

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

60092U

Clonkeen College

Clonkeen Rd

Blackrock

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

60092U

Clonkeen College

Clonkeen Rd

Blackrock

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

60092U

Clonkeen College

Clonkeen Rd

Blackrock

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

60343T

St Josephs Sec School

Convent Lane

Rush

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

60343T

St Josephs Sec School

Convent Lane

Rush

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

60343T

St Josephs Sec School

Convent Lane

Rush

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

60370W

St Fintan’s High School

Sutton

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

70010V

Balbriggan Community College

Chapel Street

Balbriggan

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

70010V

Balbriggan Community College

Chapel Street

Balbriggan

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

70230M

Killester College

Collins Avenue

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

76062B

Castleknock Community College

Castleknock

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

76062B

Castleknock Community College

Castleknock

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

76085N

Gaelcholaiste Reachrann

Grange Abbey Rd

Donaghmede

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

76085N

Gaelcholaiste Reachrann

Grange Abbey Rd

Donaghmede

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

76085N

Gaelcholaiste Reachrann

Grange Abbey Rd

Donaghmede

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

76085N

Gaelcholaiste Reachrann

Grange Abbey Rd

Donaghmede

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

76130P

Luttrellstown Community College

Luttrellstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

76130P

Luttrellstown Community College

Luttrellstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

76130P

Luttrellstown Community College

Luttrellstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

76130P

Luttrellstown Community College

Luttrellstown

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

81002K

Mount Temple Comprehensive School

Malahide Road

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

81002K

Mount Temple Comprehensive School

Malahide Road

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

81002K

Mount Temple Comprehensive School

Malahide Road

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

01795A

Central Model Infants School

Marlborough St

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

03359N

Ballyroan Boys NS

Ballyroan Road

Rathfarnham

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

19877C

Holy Family SNS

River Valley

Swords

Dublin

Pre-fab Unit

Bullying in Schools

Alan Farrell

Ceist:

157 Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Education and Skills the guidelines he has in place for dealing with all forms of bullying within primary and second level schools; when they were last updated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30004/11]

Alan Farrell

Ceist:

162 Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Education and Skills the guidelines or proposed guidelines he has to deal with social media bullying for children and teenagers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30009/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 157 and 162 together.

Under the Education (Welfare) Act 2000, all schools are required to have in place a Code of Behaviour and this code must be drawn up in accordance with the guidelines of the National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB). The NEWB guidelines were issued to schools in 2008 and make it clear that each school must have policies to prevent or address bullying and harassment and schools must make clear in their code of behaviour that bullying is unacceptable. The guidelines further state that as well as making explicit that bullying is prohibited in the school, and having an anti-bullying policy, the code of behaviour should indicate what action the school will take in relation to alleged breaches of the school's bullying policy.

Every school therefore must have in place a policy, within the framework of the school's overall school code of behaviour, which includes specific measures to deal with bullying behaviour. Such a code, developed through consultation with the whole school community and properly implemented, can be the most influential measure in countering bullying behaviour in schools.

Responsibility for tackling bullying falls to the level of the individual school, as it is at local level that an effective anti-bullying climate must be established and at that level that actions should be taken to address allegations of bullying.

In 1993, my Department issued Guidelines on Countering Bullying Behaviour as an aid to schools in devising measures to prevent and deal with instances of bullying behaviour. These guidelines were drawn up following consultation with representatives of school management, teachers and parents, and are sufficiently flexible to allow each school authority to adapt them to suit the particular needs of their school.

As a further aid to post-primary schools my Department published in 2007 a template that can be used by post-primary schools in developing an anti-bullying policy. The anti-bullying policy template is based primarily on the key document Guidelines on Countering Bullying Behaviour. However, it also takes account of more recent legislative and regulatory changes, and reference is made to issues of contemporary concern such as the need to tackle text bullying, cyber-bullying and homophobic bullying.

When a Whole School Evaluation (WSE) is conducted by my Department's Inspectorate, the code of behaviour, including its anti-bullying policy, is reviewed by the inspection team to check that it is in line with the Department's guidelines. Inspectors normally meet with the principal, the board, post-holders, year heads, class teachers, programme co-ordinators, the pastoral care team, representatives of the students and parents. During these meetings there is a particular emphasis on the quality of student care and support. The inspectors' evaluation is also informed by observations in classroom settings and throughout the school. Where there are weaknesses in a school's policy or implementation of policies clear recommendations for improvement are made and are included in the published report of the inspection.

Revised procedures for WSE in schools have recently been put in place. A new element of the revised WSE process involves the issuing of questionnaires directly to pupils and parents. Children and parents will be asked to respond to questions about how the school deals with bullying, discipline in the school and whether or not the school provides a safe environment for children. This enhanced engagement with parents and pupils through questionnaires aims to further support all schools to implement effective measures to counter bullying.

The Deputy may also be aware that the education of students in both primary and post-primary schools in relation to anti-bullying behaviour is part of the Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) curriculum. SPHE is now a compulsory subject both at primary level and in the junior cycle of post-primary schools. Since 2001, national professional development support services have provided ongoing support to schools in planning policies on child protection and the code of behaviour and in supporting teachers and principals in the implementation of SPHE. In addition, training on The Stay Safe Programme is offered on an ongoing basis to primary schools.

Other measures in place include the Webwise Internet Safety Initiative, the EU Safer Internet Programme campaign and the establishment of the National Behaviour Support Service (NBSS) which is currently working with over 80 post-primary schools to promote and support positive student behaviour.

Mental Health Services

Alan Farrell

Ceist:

158 Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Education and Skills his policies or future proposals to prevent mental health issues in students at primary and secondary level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30005/11]

Alan Farrell

Ceist:

159 Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Education and Skills the resources in place within schools for children with diagnosed or suspected mental health issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30006/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 158 and 159 together.

The Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE) programme is a mandatory part of the curriculum in primary schools and in junior cycle since 2003 and is designed to promote positive mental health. It is supported by comprehensive teacher guidelines and curriculum support services which provide training and advice for schools and a resource directory. Its aim is to foster personal development, health and well being of children, to help them create and maintain supportive relationships, and develop the skills and attitudes for responsible citizenship.

All post-primary schools also provide a guidance and counselling service for their students and they receive ex-quota hours from the Department for this provision. The service includes the provision of individual guidance and counselling for students either at critical stages in their education or at times of personal crisis.

Schools also use Mental Health Matters, a resource pack on mental health for 14 to 18 year olds developed by Mental Health Ireland on an optional basis as a module in the Transition Year Programme, an element of the Leaving Certificate Applied Programme, a component of the SPHE programme or an element of other subjects such as Religion or Home Economics. Psychologists from my Department's National Educational Psychological Service are present in schools across the country and provide a range of supports to school authorities and communities which include both the promotion of positive mental health among the general student body and assistance in supporting pupils with particular social emotional or behavioural difficulties. NEPS promotes the development of structures and supports among teachers and schools care teams which assists and encourages the development of contact and collaboration with the relevant local HSE mental health agencies including the Community Psychology Services and Mental Health Promotion Officers and the referral services of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAHMS).

My Department also provides a range of teaching and care supports for children of school-going age with special educational needs, including children with Emotional Disturbance and Severe Emotional Disturbance. The precise level of support is determined by the special educational needs of the particular child.

Children with Emotional Disturbance/ Severe Emotional Disturbance may be entitled to additional provision in school, either under the terms of the General Allocation Model (GAM) of teaching supports, if the pupil's educational psychological assessment places the pupil in the mild general learning disability/high incidence disability category, or through an allocation of individual additional resource teaching hours if the child is assessed as being within the low incidence category of special need, as defined by my Department's Circular Sp Ed 02/05. Pupils who have care needs may also receive access to Special Needs Assistant support.

It is a matter for each individual school to use its professional judgement to use the resources available to the school to intervene at the appropriate level with such pupils. My Department has provided a range of advice to schools on the matter of whole-school planning by means of various publications including Circular SP ED 02/05, the Learning Support Guidelines and the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) booklet ‘A Continuum of Support'.

Schools should use the guidance in the documents that have been provided to develop policies and procedures to suit the circumstances of the school and the needs of the pupils. It is open to schools to seek advice of their NEPS psychologist to seek further guidance and advice in relation to the establishment of whole-school procedures.

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

Alan Farrell

Ceist:

160 Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which teachers are trained to provide counselling, support and development therapy for children with mental health issues; if there are any proposals in place to improve the availability of counselling services for students within schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30007/11]

Alan Farrell

Ceist:

161 Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Education and Skills if teachers at primary and second level are trained to recognise symptoms of mental health disorder in students; if not, his plans to introduce this at a later date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30008/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 160 and 161 together.

Student teachers in the Primary Colleges of Education are supported across a range of courses to identify children who are at risk from a variety of causes, including those that would contribute to issues around mental health. These courses include Psychology, Sociology, Social Personal and Health Education and aspects of Teaching Studies. While counselling children with mental health issues is best undertaken by professionals in that area and not by teachers, it is important that student teachers have the knowledge and skills needed to identify the need for early intervention.

At post-primary. student teachers have courses in educational psychology and in special education needs. These courses prepare them to recognise common special needs in students and to respond appropriately in their teaching. They also learn about adolescent development and some of the psychological stresses that may occur. They are not specifically prepared to recognise or diagnose any specific mental health disorders, or to determine the appropriate treatment of these disorders.

The Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE) programme is a mandatory part of the curriculum in junior cycle since 2003 and is designed to promote positive mental health. It is already supported by comprehensive teacher guidelines and curriculum support services which provide training and advice for schools and a resource directory. Its aim is to foster personal development, health and well being of children, to help them create and maintain supportive relationships, and develop the skills and attitudes for responsible citizenship. It is designed for implementation in the context of a caring whole-school approach which is supported by the pastoral care structures in schools and provides opportunities to teachers to train in the area of Mental Health.

The Support Service have collaborated with the Mater Child and Adolescent Health Service to develop a resource for schools called "Working Things Out" through SPHE. This resource contains classroom materials on a number of mental health issues and is given to teachers as part of the mental health training course. It also assists teachers in recognising early indications of mental health condition in pupils. The SPHE Support Service is also currently working with the National Office of Suicide Prevention and the HSE to develop guidelines for schools on mental health promotion.

Schools also use Mental Health Matters, a resource pack on mental health for 14 to 18 year olds developed by Mental Health Ireland on an optional basis as a module in the Transition Year Programme, an element of the Leaving Certificate Applied Programme, a component of the SPHE programme or an element of other subjects such as Religion or Home Economics. All post-primary schools also provide a guidance and counselling service which is available for their students and they receive ex-quota hours from the Department for this provision. My Department recognises qualifications specifically for the purpose of guidance at post primary level. The service availability is adequate and includes the provision of individual guidance and counselling for students either at critical stages in their education or at times of personal crisis. My Department funds the provision of ongoing professional support through a Counselling Supervision service, providing advice and sharing practice on issues of concern.

Psychologists from my Department's National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) are present in schools across the country and provide a range of supports to school authorities and communities which include both the promotion of positive mental health among the general student body and assistance in supporting pupils with particular social emotional or behavioural difficulties. NEPS promotes the development of structures and supports among teachers and schools care teams which assists and encourages the development of contact and collaboration with the relevant local HSE mental health agencies including the Community Psychology Services and Mental Health Promotion Officers and the referral services of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAHMS).

Question No. 162 answered with Question No. 157.

Departmental Expenditure

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

163 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills the cost for the printing, posting and administration of payslips to primary school teachers. [30015/11]

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

164 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills the cost for the printing, posting and administration of payslips to secondary school teachers. [30016/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 163 and 164 together.

Details of the costs associated with the printing, posting and administration of payslips to primary and post-primary teachers are set out in tabular format below.

Printing Costs for the Primary and Post Primary Payslips

Primary 2010

€40,758.00

Primary 2011 to date

€36,474.00

Post Primary 2010

€36,474.00

Post Primary 2011 to date

€26,053.00

Postage Costs for the Primary and Post Primary Payslips

Primary 2010

€523,626.66

Primary 2011 to date

€427,311.58

Post Primary 2010

€299,378.28

Post Primary 2011

€219,095.16

Administration Costs (based on average salaries by grade)

Primary 2010

€50,933

Primary 2011 to date

€33,619

Post Primary 2010

€39,432

Post Primary 2011 to date

€25,861

Vocational Education Committees

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

165 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the national criteria for determining head office locations for merging vocational education committees; how the criteria were applied in the decision to locate the head office for Cavan Monaghan Vocational Education Committee in Monaghan town; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30057/11]

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

166 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the projected savings arising from the decision to locate the head office for Cavan Monaghan Vocational Education Committee in Monaghan town; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30059/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 165 and 166 together.

In arriving at my decision in relation to the location of headquarters of the merged VECs, I considered a range of factors including the need to ensure that the location of a VEC headquarters will, to the greatest extent possible, facilitate staff redeployment under a redeployment scheme within the context of the Croke Park Agreement and the need to operate at lowest cost having regard to the accommodation available in existing locations.

The distance between Cavan and Monaghan marginally exceeds the 45 km distance agreed under the Croke Park Agreement in relation to redeployment and may preclude redeployment of staff currently employed in Cavan to Monaghan and vice versa. Consequently, I decided that a sub-office would be required for the foreseeable future. In determining Monaghan as a headquarter location I was aware that both VECs are very closely matched on the criteria mentioned above although Co. Monaghan VEC has marginally more second level schools under its control.

It would be very difficult to accurately predict the savings which will arise from any one particular merger. The Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes suggested that overall savings of €3 million could be realised. The reconfiguration to 16 can, over time, yield such savings in the recurrent cost of the headquarter functions of VECs which, at present, is of the order of €40 million in total.

Departmental Schemes

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

167 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will clarify his plans regarding the school book rental scheme; the arrangements he is proposing to make between schools operating such schemes and the publishers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30080/11]

I have held meetings with educational book publishers, representatives of parents' organisations and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul regarding the cost of school textbooks. I also had a further meeting with the book publishers on 10 October 2011.

The publishers present stated that they were committed to the code of practice where publishers undertook not to publish new or revised editions of textbooks for six years, except in the context of significant change to the curriculum or examinations. Publishers also said they were willing to make minor updates available online in the future. Publishers stated that they would allow discount rates for bulk buying to schools which would support the introduction of book rental or loan schemes in schools. In the context of the concerns raised by the Deputy for jobs in shops where school textbooks are currently sold, it would be open to shops to also offer discounts to schools. I requested publishers not to print workbook-style material within textbooks as this rendered loan or rental schemes impracticable. The publishers undertook to bear my concerns in mind in the development of any new publications.

I recognise that educational publishers are independent commercial companies who compete in an open market for the sale of their textbooks. I recognise that I cannot interfere in the matter of price setting but have sought assurances from publishers they will facilitate schools that wish to purchase bulk stock for the operation of rental schemes. I am pleased to have received this assurance. I am very satisfied with the progress made in my meetings with publishers and I welcome their positive and proactive approach to co-operating with me in reducing the cost of textbooks to students and families. My Department is undertaking a survey of schools to establish the current situation regarding school book rental and loan schemes so that I can consider how I might incentivise the introduction of book loan or rental schemes.

I have invited the National Parents Councils at primary and post-primary levels to provide me with examples of good practice of book rental schemes. My Department is currently preparing guidelines for schools on best practice in the operation of such schemes.

Schools Refurbishment

Seán Kyne

Ceist:

168 Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application under the emergency works scheme in respect of a school (details supplied). [30124/11]

An application under my Department's Emergency Works Scheme for fencing 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.

School Transport

Seán Kyne

Ceist:

169 Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if consideration will be given to the commencement of a trial scheme for public service obligation contracts in the Connemara area by way of public tender for school transport provision which would enable private transport operators to bid. [30125/11]

Generally Public Service Obligation services are operated by Bus Éireann under contract to the National Transport Authority. School transport contracts are a separate matter and in this regard Bus Éireann, which operates the school transport schemes, has advised that an extensive procurement exercise was conducted in summer 2011. This exercise invited applications from operators of large, medium, small buses and taxis who were interested in undertaking, on a contractual basis, the operation of school transport services throughout Ireland. Advertisements were placed on the eTenders website, the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU), and in the local and national newspapers.

It may be interest to the Deputy that some 85% of the vehicles used to provide services under the School Transport Scheme, equivalent to over 3,300 vehicles, are provided by private operators under contract to Bus Éireann.

School Staffing

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

170 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of posts allocated to primary schools in each county for the teaching of English as an additional language. [30129/11]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

171 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of posts allocated to second level schools in each county for the teaching of English as an additional language. [30130/11]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

172 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of appeals submitted this year by primary schools against a decision not to sanction the appointment of a teacher of English as an additional language; and the number of schools to which posts were allocated on appeal. [30131/11]

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

173 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of appeals submitted this year by second level schools against decisions not to sanction the appointment of a teacher of English as an additional language; and the number of schools to which posts were allocated on appeal. [30132/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 170 to 173, inclusive, together.

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. There are currently circa 840 full-time teaching posts in respect of English as an additional language (EAL) allocated to primary schools for the 2011-2012 school year. The corresponding whole time equivalent figure for post primary schools is 200 posts. The final EAL position for all schools will ultimately not be known until later in the Autumn. At that stage the allocation process will be fully completed and the latest appeals to the Staffing Appeals Board will have been considered. 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 language support posts received from primary schools after 6 May 2011. Such applications will be considered shortly when a clearer picture will have emerged in relation to how the Department is managing within the overall limits on teacher numbers. All applications for the appointment of teachers of English as an additional language from post primary schools that had met the criteria laid down in the allocations process were sanctioned.

The allocation process also includes an appeals mechanism for schools to submit an appeal under certain criteria to an independent Appeal Board. To date, 56 primary schools have appealed their EAL allocation to the Primary Staffing Appeal Board of which 21 were successful. The Appeal Board operates independently of the Department and its decision is final. There were no EAL appeals from post primary schools.

School Placement

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

174 Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he decides on the relevant catchment areas for all second level schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30134/11]

Catchment boundaries have their origins in the establishment of free post-primary education in the late 1960s and were determined following consultation with local educational interests. For planning purposes the country was divided into geographic districts each with several primary schools feeding into a post-primary centre with one or more post-primary schools. The intention was and continues to be that these defined districts facilitate the orderly planning of school provision and accommodation needs.

Higher Education Grants

John McGuinness

Ceist:

175 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a grant will be approved by Kilkenny Vocational Education Committee in respect of a person (details supplied) towards the cost of a course. [30156/11]

The processing of student grants is carried out by local grant awarding authorities, the VECs and local authorities. In the circumstances, the student in question should contact his grant awarding authority to ascertain the position with his application.

The Deputy will appreciate that in the absence of all of the details that would be contained in a student grant application form, it would not be possible for me to say if a student would qualify for a grant.

Vocational Education Committees

Stephen S. Donnelly

Ceist:

176 Deputy Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Education and Skills, with regard to the appointment of a new chief executive to lead the new merged Wicklow Kildare Vocational Education Committee, if that position is being filled based on merit or seniority; the process being followed to fill that position; and the criteria being used in making the appointment. [30168/11]

My officials have recently concluded an agreement with SIPTU, the trade unions representing the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of VECS, on a redeployment scheme for CEOs in the context of the Croke Park agreement.

This scheme will be used, in the first instance, for determining the appointment of CEOs to the new VEC bodies, following the enactment of the relevant legislation. The agreed scheme provides an opportunity for those appointed (other than in a temporary acting capacity) in the grade of CEO of a Vocational Education Committee to elect for redeployment to the new CEO positions. Where there is more than one volunteer for any of the new CEO positions, the scheme provides for the position to be offered, in the first instance, to the most senior eligible volunteer.

In the event that the elective process does not result in the filling of all of the posts, the scheme provides for assignment of an existing permanent CEO to a post for which s/he has not volunteered or for appointment of a holder of an analogous post in the Public Service to any of the available positions in accordance with the provisions of the Croke Park agreement.

Question No. 177 answered with Question No. 141.

Stephen S. Donnelly

Ceist:

178 Deputy Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Education and Skills, with regard to the decision to make Wicklow Vocational Education Committee a sub-office of the newly merged VEC for Counties Wicklow and Kildare, the criteria used to decide whether Wicklow or Kildare should host the main VEC centre; the weighting that was allocated to each criterion; how each VEC scored against these criteria; if a cost analysis was done as part of the decision making process; the amount that was forecast to be saved by basing the main VEC centre in Kildare rather than in Wicklow; if he will release the full cost analysis that was done, including all input assumptions; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the staff in Wicklow learned about the decision through the news media; if he is satisfied that this is an appropriate way to treat staff; and the rationale for releasing the decision to the media first. [30171/11]

In arriving at my decision in relation to the location of headquarters of the merged VECs, I considered a range of factors including the need to ensure that the location of a VEC headquarters will, to the greatest extent possible, facilitate staff redeployment under a redeployment scheme within the context of the Croke Park Agreement and the need to operate at lowest cost having regard to the accommodation available in existing locations.

The distance between Naas and Wicklow exceeds the 45km distance agreed under the Croke Part Agreement in relation to redeployment and may preclude redeployment of staff currently employed in Wicklow to Naas and vice versa. Consequently, I decided that a sub-office would be required for the foreseeable future. A cost analysis of leasing arrangements and staff residential addresses having regard to the criteria for redeployment in the context of the Croke Park Agreement would have involved a time consuming exercise which would not have been justified over the longer term, particularly given the decision to maintain both offices for the foreseeable future. Consequently, no such cost analysis was carried out. In determining Naas as a headquarter location I was aware that both VECs are very closely matched on the criteria mentioned above. I am satisfied that geographically, Naas is the most favourable location for the headquarters.

It is regrettable if staff of Co Wicklow VEC were caused any upset on learning about the decision to locate the head office of the merged VEC in Naas and to have a sub office in Wicklow on the news. However, I was aware that my decision in relation to the locations of the headquarters was eagerly awaited by the VECs, their staffs, students and the wider population around the country. In this regard, I am satisfied that it was important to put that decision in the public domain as soon as possible.

Appointments to State Boards

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

179 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills the saving to the State if all State agency board members’ annual payments were rescinded and instead board membership was awarded without remuneration. [30255/11]

Based on current rates as per Department of Finance guidelines, the Chairperson of FÁS is eligible for a payment of €20,520 per annum while eight ordinary members are eligible for payments of €11,970; the Chairperson of the Grangegorman Development Agency is eligible for a payment of €8,978 per annum; the Chairperson of the Higher Education Authority is eligible for a payment of €11,970 per annum while eighteen ordinary members are eligible for payments of €7,695; the Chairperson of Skillnets Ltd is eligible for a payment of €8,978 per annum while ten ordinary members are eligible for payments of €5,985; and the Chairperson of the State Examinations Commission is eligible for a payment of €11,970 per annum while the other four Commissioners are eligible for payments of €7,695. Based on these figures a potential saving of €387,316 could apply if no fees were applicable with regard to the five agencies referred to above.

In addition the Deputy should note that fees paid to boards of the Residential Institutions Redress Board (RIRB) and the Residential Institutions Review Committee (RIRC) up until end of September 2011 total €707,228. Ordinary board members are paid a per diem rate which in both cases is currently €668 per day (pension abatement applies were appropriate). The Chairperson of the RIRC is paid by the Department based on annual salary for a Supreme Court judge subject to abatement.

No fees are paid to board members in relation to any of the other bodies under the aegis of my Department except as outlined above.

Local Authority Charges

Anne Ferris

Ceist:

180 Deputy Anne Ferris asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to review the mechanism for calculating commercial rates, given that valuations only take place every ten years and in view of the current economic climate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29583/11]

The Commissioner of Valuation has sole responsibility for all valuation matters under the Valuation Act 2001 which includes the implementation of the revaluation of all commercial and industrial properties on a nationwide basis. The basis of valuation for all commercial property is net annual value, i.e. the rental value of the property. To ensure equity and uniformity, valuation revisions set for modified or new properties are determined by reference to the values of comparable properties on the same valuation list.

The revision process deals with the physical changes that take place to properties such as new buildings, extensions, subdivisions, exemptions etc and reflect these changes in the valuation lists. Both rating authorities and ratepayers submit requests to the Valuation Office to have rateable valuations amended to take account of these types of changes.

Revaluation is the mechanism whereby economic changes that take place in the property market are reflected in the valuation lists and in individual ratepayers' rates liabilities. The purpose of revaluation is to bring more equity, fairness and transparency to the local authority rating system, and, following revaluation, there will be a much closer relationship between rental value and commercial rates liability and this relationship will thereafter be maintained by means of recurring revaluations provided for in the Act.

The revaluation programme began in November 2005 in the South Dublin County Council area and has since been rolled out to the areas covered by Fingal and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Councils. The revaluation of South Dublin was completed in December 2007, Fingal was completed in 2009 and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown was completed in 2010 and the process is now being rolled out in the Dublin City Council area.

My Departmental officials are reviewing various provisions of the Valuation Act, 2011, to modernise and streamline the valuation process in the interests of both ratepayers and the local authorities. A significant amount of work has already been undertaken and preliminary Heads of Bill have been drafted in conjunction with the Valuation Office and the Attorney General which I hope to bring to Government for approval shortly.

Public Procurement

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

181 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if his attention has been drawn to the amount of printing work that is leaving the State, leading to the closure of printing firms here; if his further attention has been drawn to the VAT position and loss of revenue to the State due to the fulfilling of printing requirements outside the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29767/11]

The National Procurement Service (NPS) is a Business Unit of the Office of Public Works with responsibility for achievement of efficiencies and value for money in the procurement of all goods and services for the Irish public service. Since its establishment in 2009, the NPS has made continuous efforts to ensure that Irish print companies are able to take full advantage of the public procurement opportunities that arise and are available to them. The NPS facilitated a seminar for the Print & Packaging Forum in September 2009, which covered all the issues relating to competing for public procurement contracts, such as the Public Procurement regulations, accessing the market opportunities, the tendering process, and general guidance on how companies should approach the preparation of tenders. Further seminars were delivered to ISME and to Chambers of Commerce in 2010 and 2011. The NPS has also produced a leaflet "Top Tendering Tips for Public Sector Contracts" which is freely available, and has delivered workshops in 2011 on public procurement opportunities in association with Enterprise Ireland and Intertrade Ireland.

In addition, the NPS has put in place a Print Panel for small print requirements (below the new threshold for advertising on eTenders of €25,000). All print companies who are interested in public sector work can and should apply to be placed on the print panel. The response had not been as great as was hoped. Of the 700 or so companies that are involved in print, only around 55 are included in the panel, which is available currently to all public sector buyers on www.procurement.ie, together with instructions on how it can be used for low-value tenders. The opportunities for small print requirements should be enhanced by the fact that the NPS has ceased the use of aggregated contracts for a number of print services including bookwork and printed stationery. One significant development in the area of facilitating the SME sector was the publication by the Department of Finance in August 2010 of Circular 10/10. These guidelines to public contracting authorities aim to ensure that tendering processes are carried out in a manner that facilitates participation by SMEs, while ensuring that all procurement is carried out in a manner that is legal, transparent, and secures optimal value for money for the taxpayer. It addresses the concerns that SMEs have regarding access to public procurement opportunities, and highlights practices that are to be avoided, where they can unjustifiably hinder small businesses in competing for public contracts. The new arrangements include:

greater open advertising of opportunities (threshold now €25,000);

a reduced requirement for paperwork (such as accounts) at the early stages of tendering;

an instruction that suppliers are not to be charged for access to tender opportunities;

an assurance that all criteria used would be appropriate and proportionate; and

an instruction that turnover and insurance levels would be set at proportionate levels.

All of these actions are consistent with the EU-commissioned research carried out by GHK on Evaluation of SMEs' Access to Public Procurement Markets in the EU (September 2010), DG Enterprise and Industry, which notes that SMEs in Ireland secured greater access to public procurement than in other countries.

In addition to the work being done by the NPS and the Department of Finance, Enterprise Ireland is running strategic workshops to assist companies, such as Management Development workshops, which have been run specifically for the print industry, and Strategic & Change Management programmes. Enterprise Ireland also offers assistance with exports, management development, lean manufacturing, research and development, and overseas offices programmes.

There should be no loss of VAT Revenue to the State where printing requirements of Irish businesses are sent outside the State. The purchaser is liable for VAT on goods acquired from other States within the EU.

Local Authority Charges

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

182 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his view on whether there should be an amendment to the Evaluation Act 2001 to allow an employer to appeal a rates evaluation due to a change in economic circumstances; his further view on whether the fact that commercial rates have gone up 45% since 2000 is placing an unbearable burden on small businesses in particular. [30077/11]

The Valuation Act 2001 provides for the valuation of all commercial and industrial property and the Commissioner of Valuation is independent in the performance of his functions under the Act and the making of valuations for rating is his sole prerogative. Under the 2001 Act, the basis of valuation for all commercial property is net annual value, i.e. the rental value of the property.

To ensure equity and uniformity, valuation revisions which are set for modified or new properties are determined by references to the values of comparable properties on the same valuation list.

Under section 28(4) of the Act, a Revision Officer of the Commissioner may carry out a revision of valuation in relation to a particular property only if a material change of circumstances has occurred such as a new building, a change in value due to structural alterations of an existing building, total or partial demolition of a building or a sub-division or amalgamation of relevant property. The definition does not allow for a revision of valuation where the change in value is due to economic factors, differential movements in property values or other external factors such as roads or other infrastructural development in the vicinity of a property.

Revaluation is the mechanism whereby economic changes that take place in the property market are reflected in the valuation lists and in individual ratepayers' rates liabilities. The purpose of revaluation is to bring more equity, fairness and transparency to the local authority rating system. Ideally, occupiers of properties of similar value in the same rating area should have a similar rates liability and following revaluation, there will be a much closer relationship between rental value and commercial rates liability and this relationship will thereafter be maintained by means of recurring revaluations provided for in the Act.

My Department is reviewing various provisions of the Valuation Act 2001, including the appeal procedures, with a view to modernising and streamlining the valuation process in the interests of both the ratepayers and the local authorities. In conjunction with the Valuation Office and the Attorney General, preliminary Heads of Bill have been drafted which I hope to bring to Government shortly for approval.

As the Deputy is aware, the levying of commercial rates is a matter for local authorities and the amount of rates to be collected is a matter for each local authority to decide. Commercial rates provide the means by which local authorities can fund the services essential to communities, and therefore business, across the full range of local activities including roads, water and waste services, fire and emergency, libraries and a range of community, amenity and social activities.

The Government is acutely aware of the pressures on small and medium-sized businesses and the challenging economic environment in which many property and business owners are operating at the moment. In this context, the Government is focused on reducing the costs of doing business to support competitiveness and employment in the economy and to protect the interests of communities. Local authorities have responded positively to requests to exercise restraint in setting commercial rates. Annual rates on valuation have been reduced by an average of 0.6% in 2010 and by a similar level in 2011. My colleague, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government will continue to keep all matters relating to rates under regular consideration.

Heritage Sites

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

183 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the total number of heritage sites or buildings identified and accessible from a tourism or scientific point of view; the extent of interest generated through the marketing of such locations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30137/11]

The Heritage Services of the OPW are responsible for the conservation, maintenance and management of approximately 780 sites that are in State ownership or guardianship. Of these some 69 sites throughout the country are presented to the public by way of a dedicated guide Service. Some of which are fee paying. In 2010 a total of 3.33 million people visited these sites.

Many of the other sites within our care such as, the Phoenix Park, St. Stephen's Green, etc, are not presented by such a guide service but have many thousands of visitors each year.

All of our sites could be considered tourist related and many offer a valuable scientific and educational role and remit. Requests for access to all sites are facilitated where possible for educational, scientific or media purposes.

The marketing of sites is carried by the OPW Visitor Services section who also maintain the "Heritage Ireland" website and together with local Site Managers market these sites and the many events that take place each year.

Vocational Education Committees

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

184 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the input he has had into the process of vocational education committee amalgamation; if VEC amalgamations and the costs associated with some of the new arrangements have any part in the comprehensive spending review; the analysis that has been done by him of proposed changes to the VEC structures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29452/11]

The rationalisation and amalgamation of VECs and the precise mechanics of how that will be implemented is primarily a matter for the Minister for Education and Skills. I support the whole concept of VEC rationalization. I am keen that this approach should both produce significant savings and improve services. The VEC rationalization process has fed into the overall Comprehensive Review of Expenditure in the Education Sector which is currently the subject of detailed discussions between my Department and the Department of Education and Skills. I see the VEC rationalization process as one element in the overall effort to improve services in the education area and, with particular regard to those seeking to move from unemployment back into the labour force, in the area of further education and training.

Freedom of Information

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

Ceist:

185 Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when he plans to legislate for the restoration of the Freedom of Information Act; and when the same remit will be extended to other public bodies as laid out in the Programme for Government. [29485/11]

My Department is engaged in the necessary preparatory work and consultations to give effect to the commitments in the Programme for Government in relation to Freedom of Information. I hope to be in a position to introduce the necessary legislative measures to give effect to the commitments in the Programme for Government in the New Year.

Departmental Staff

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

186 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the salary grade and remuneration awarded to the recently appointed programme director of the new reform and delivery office within his Department; if the salary has been agreed by the top-level appointments committee; and if a special severance gratuity payment and added years have been agreed by him as part of the pension arrangement. [29526/11]

The Programme Director of the new Reform and Delivery Unit is at Assistant Secretary level. The salary scale for this post is €127,796 to €146,191 per annum. This is a TLAC appointment and the salary norms for the grade are set by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. Special severance gratuity payments and added years do not apply to the post.

Pension Provisions

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

187 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the saving to the State if the special severance gratuity payment and added years as agreed by the top-level appointments committee for all existing secretaries general, county managers, CEOs of non-commercial semi-states and office holders, including heads of vocational education committees, were withdrawn. [29543/11]

The special retirement terms provided to Top-level Appointments Committee (TLAC) appointees apply to Secretaries General. The Deputy will be aware that the terms are being reviewed at present. They do not apply to Chief Executive Officers of non-commercial State agencies whose departure terms are subject to a letter dated 26 May 1998 to all Departments. That letter delegated sanction to Departments to operate those terms within specific guidelines. However, the delegated sanction was withdrawn in 2010.

As regards Secretaries General, based on a current pensionable salary of €253,635, one added year would provide about €3,100 in extra pension per annum, and about €9,500 in lump sum. A maximum of 10 added years is possible. The severance cost would be €126,817. As stated above, these terms are being reviewed.

The superannuation terms of County Managers are provided for in Section 78 of the Local Government (Superannuation) (Consolidation) Scheme 1998, as amended by Section 23 of the Local Government (Superannuation) (Consolidation) (Amendment) Scheme 2007. These schemes are the responsibility of the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government.

The savings in respect of Chief Executive Officers of non-commercial State agencies would depend on the level of salary of each individual concerned. In general terms, where the CEO was subject to standard superannuation terms, the saving from not applying added years would be the product of pensionable salary multiplied by the number of added years divided by 80. The particular circumstances of the individual CEO's pension scheme may differ from this. A maximum of 5 added years is provided for in the letter of 26 May 1998.

As regards Vocational Educational Committees, this would be a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Education and Skills.

Officeholders are not given added years.

Appointments to State Boards

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

188 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of persons who hold more than one State agency board position across the aegis of all Departments; their total remuneration; the number of board memberships said persons hold and their names in tabular form; and if such information is collated. [29545/11]

In response to the Deputy's question my Department only records details of appointments made to State agencies that come under the remit of my Department. Details in respect of these bodies are contained in the following table.

State agencies

Name of Body

Current Members

Remuneration details in respect of board members and board chairpersons

An Post National Lottery Company

Mr Donal Connell (Chairperson)*Mr Dermot GriffinMr Micheál Ó MuircheartaighMs Caroline Murphy*Mr James HylandMs Barbara PattonMr Oliver Wilkinson

*No remuneration is paid to Donal Connell or James Hyland as they are on the board of An Post €12,600 per annum for remaining directors

Pension Provisions

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

189 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, further to Parliamentary Question No. 284 of 4 October 2011, if the figure supplied includes retired Oireachtas Members; and if not, if he will supply the number of retired Oireachtas Members in receipt of annual pensions within the pension bands requested in the original question. [29546/11]

It has not been possible to collate the data as requested in the time available. I will however supply the data to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Appointments to State Boards

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

190 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the saving to the State if all State agency board members’ annual payments were rescinded and instead board membership was awarded without remuneration. [29547/11]

In response to the Deputy's question, the only State Agency under the remit of my Department is An Post National Lottery. Savings of approximately €63,000 could be made if State agency board members annual payments were rescinded in respect of the board of that Body.

Civil Service Staff

Robert Dowds

Ceist:

191 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the source of the Civil Service conciliation and arbitration scheme that partially or entirely restricts promotion from professional to administrative grades, or conversely states that certain promotions are to be limited to certain groups. [29625/11]

Robert Dowds

Ceist:

192 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the conciliation and arbitration scheme has a role in respect of internal Civil Service promotions; and if so, the nature of that role. [29626/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 191 and 192 together.

The purpose of the Civil Service Conciliation and Arbitration scheme is to provide means acceptable both to the State and to its employees for dealing with claims and proposals relating to the conditions of service of civil servants and to secure the fullest co-operation between the State, as employer, and civil servants, as employees, for the better discharge of public business.

The scheme also sets out the conditions governing the operation of the General Council, the Departmental Councils, facilitation, arbitration and the procedure for dealing with claims.

The Conciliation and Arbitration (C&A) Scheme for the Civil Service includes provision for discussions relating to the principles governing civil service promotions.

Section 23(f) of the C&A Scheme for the Civil Service provides that principles governing promotion in respect of the general service grades and in professional, scientific and technical grades which are common to two or more Departments may be discussed at General Council.

Section 42(e) of the C&A Scheme for the Civil Service provides that principles governing promotion in respect of departmental grades may be discussed at Departmental Council.

Section 58(1)(a) of the Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act, 2004 provides that the Minister for Finance (now the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform) is responsible for all matters relating to recruitment in the civil service. This includes matters relating to eligibility criteria, staff numbers, grading, pay and all other working conditions of civil servants.

Where appropriate, schemes of promotion agreed under General Council reflect the eligibility criteria as set by the Minister under Section 58 (1).

Public Service Appointments

Robert Dowds

Ceist:

193 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his interpretation of section 58 of the Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act 2004. [29627/11]

Recruitment to the Civil Service and to certain parts of the wider public service is governed by the Public Service Management (Recruitment and Appointments) Act 2004. The Act established the Commission for Public Service Appointments (CPSA) and the Public Appointments Service (PAS). The CPSA sets the standards to apply to the recruitment of persons for positions in the Civil Service and certain other public service bodies. The PAS acts as the centralised recruitment, assessment and selection body for the Civil Service and provides a similar service, when requested, to the local authorities and Health Service Executive, the Garda Síochána, HIQA and certain other public service bodies.

Section 58(1)(a) of the Act provides that the Minister for Finance (now the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform) is responsible for all matters relating to recruitment in the civil service. This includes matters relating to eligibility criteria, staff numbers, grading, pay and all other working conditions of civil servants.

Section 58(1)(b) of the Act provides that in the context of recruitment to the wider public service various Ministers are responsible for these matters within their sectors of responsibility.

Pension Provisions

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

194 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the saving to the Exchequer if all existing public service pension payments to former employees of State agencies under the aegis of his Department were capped at €35,000 per year. [29785/11]

The only State Agency under the aegis of my Department is An Post National Lottery. Pension payments in respect of former employees of An Post National Lottery are dealt with by the Department of Communications and Natural Resources.

Ministerial Staff

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

195 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will provide the pay of all special advisers to Ministers for whom he approved exceptions (details supplied). [29808/11]

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

196 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the name, pay and qualifications of all 14 special advisors to Ministers for whom he approved salary cap exceptions; and to which Minister each of the 14 special advisors has been appointed. [29902/11]

I propose to take questions 195 and 196 together.

The table below sets out the information as requested by the Deputy.

List of Special Advisers above min of PO standard — Oct 2011

Department

Minister/Minister of State

Name of Adviser

Sanctioned Pay Rate

Communications, Energy and Natural Resources

Minister Rabbitte

Simon Nugent

€97,200

Mr Nugent graduated with a BA Mod (Political Science) from Dublin University in 1988. His professional career included 3 years in Brussels working as a European Policy Analyst. Subsequently he worked as Director Policy and then Chief Executive of the Chambers of Commerce of Ireland. Prior to his appointment as Special Adviser to the Minister for Communications Energy and Natural Resources he worked as CEO of the Irish Travel Agents Association. Mr Nugent is a former member of the National Economic and Social Council. He was a Director of Skillnets Ltd for 3 years.

Minister Rabbitte

Finbar O’Malley

€83,337

Mr O’Malley is a barrister and worked previously as advisory counsel in the Office of the Attorney General, as a special adviser in the Office of the Tánaiste and as a legal and policy adviser in the Labour Party.

Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs

Minister Deenihan

Sean Mac Cartaigh

€83,337

Mr. Mac Cartaigh has significant and wide ranging experience both in Ireland and abroad in the areas of Arts and Culture gathered over a number of years and brings this wealth of experience to his role as Ministerial advisor. Prior to assuming the role of Ministerial Advisor Mr. Mac Cartaigh was Director of Public Affairs in the Arts Council.

Education and Skills

Minister Ruairí Quinn

John Walsh

€92,672

Academic Qualifications B.A. 1968, H.Dip 1969, M.Ed 1998 He was Education Editor with the Irish Independent as well as Irish correspondent for a range of international education publications. He also spent a period working as education correspondent with The Irish Times. He is a former consultant to the OECD where he was involved in preparing four publications relating to teacher professional development, student motivation, adult education, and new forms of school management.

Minister Ruairí Quinn

Deirdre Grant

€86,604

Academic Qualifications B.A. Honours Communication Studies 1995. M Phil HIV/Aids and Society 2005. Ms. Grant formerly worked in media relations and is the Director of Communications at the Department.

Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Minister Bruton

Ciaran Conlon

€127,000

Mr. Conlon’s qualifications: BA (Economics) NUI Maynooth, MA (Economics) UCD

Environment, Community and Local Government

Minister Hogan

Sean McKeown

€92,672

Mr McKeown was serving as Chief Executive Officer of the Kilkenny County Enterprise Board. He has served as CEO of the Board since 2003 and in that time he has built up an extensive understanding and know-how in the areas of business, community and local government matters.

Finance

Minister Noonan

Mary Kenny

€83,337

Ms Kenny has over 20 years service in the Houses of the Oireachtas, She has acted to Minister Noonan in the Department of Health from 1994 to 1997. She has also acted as Special Adviser to him during his period as Fine Gael Party Leader.

Public Expenditure and Reform

Minister Howlin

Anne Byrne

€83,337

Diploma on Social Science, Maynooth. Member of the Medical Council 1984-1993, Programme Manager Department of Health 1993-1994, Programme Manager Department of the Environment 1995-1997, Adviser to Leas Cheann Comhairle 2007-2011

Minister Howlin

Rónán O’Brien

€114,000

Education BA (history and politics) — University College Dublin Diploma in Legal Studies — Dublin Institute of Technology Professional and Political Experience 1997-2002: Political advisor / chef de cabinet to Ruairí Quinn TD, leader of the Labour Party 2003-2011: Communications and Marketing Director, Chartered Accountants in Ireland

Health

Minister Reilly

Mark Costigan

€92,672

Mr Costigan has considerable relevant experience for the job. Mr Costigan was for five years the Deputy Government Press Secretary and prior to that he had a distinguished career as a journalist, including holding the position of Political Editor for Today FM.

Social Protection

Minister Burton

Ed Brophy

€127,796

Mr Brophy qualified as a solicitor in 2000 and has extensive professional experience in legal and regulatory affairs. He worked in Endesa Ireland as the Legal and Procurement Director. Previously he was a Senior Associate in Arthur Cox Solicitors. He also has a Masters in Economic Policy.

Transport, Tourism and Sport

Minister Varadkar

Brian Murphy

€105,837

Mr. Murphy was Director of Commercial Affairs with the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association and is A Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland.

Agriculture, Fisheries and Food

Minister Coveney

Fergal Leamy (Has Vacated the Position)

€130,000

Academic Qualifications First class honours in Business and Law, UCD 1999 Professional Experience 1999-2002 Senior Business Analyst, McKinsey and Company, 2002-2005 Head of Commercial Development, Whitbread-David Lloyd Leisure, 2005-2007 Engagement Manager, McKinsey and Company, 2007-2011 Development Director Greencore, CEO Greencore USA, Greencore Integration Lead.

Public Procurement

Simon Harris

Ceist:

197 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will consider awarding additional credits to Irish companies that tender for publicly funded contracts in both the State and semi-state sectors, in recognition of a number of factors including the number of locally employed persons, a company’s skill at providing similar projects in the past and a company’s ability to provide tax clearance and ePace certificates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29945/11]

The award of public contracts is governed by EU Treaty principles and Directives on public procurement. The aim is to promote an open, competitive and non-discriminatory public procurement regime which delivers best value for money. It would be a breach of the rules for a public body to favour or discriminate against particular candidates on grounds of nationality and there are legal remedies which may be used against any public body infringing these rules.

Nevertheless, there is evidence to indicate that more than 90% of public contracts here are won by Irish suppliers. The open market regime also offers opportunities for Irish companies to win business abroad and reliable EU studies indicate that many Irish businesses are successful in this regard.

Public Service Payroll System

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

198 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the initial cost of setting up the Civil Service intranet payroll system CorePay; and the annual cost for running the system, excluding personnel costs. [29986/11]

There is no single central payroll system in the Civil Service. Rather, the common payroll software, CorePay, is used by a large number of Departments/Offices to pay civil and other public service staff (such as teachers, Gardaí, etc.) and pensioners. These include the largest payrolls in the country.

The master contract for this software was put in place by the Department of Finance, following an open procurement exercise. I understand that the initial development costs for Civil Service specific modifications were €117,580 (including VAT).

Annual running costs for CorePay comprise support and maintenance charges and occasional software development costs for non-statutory changes. As each Department/Office is individually responsible for its own payroll, this Department does not have visibility of the full annual costs for CorePay across the Civil Service.

This Department does not operate the payroll software. Instead it avails of payroll services from the Department of Finance on a shared basis. Accordingly, this Department does not pay annual running costs for its payroll. This Department does pay the annual support and maintenance charges for customisations to the software that it funded which are common across the Civil Service. In 2010, these charges amounted to 35,757 euro (including VAT).

The implementation of a single Payroll system for the Civil Service is being considered in the context of implementing a Payroll Shared Service. The further adoption of Shared Services is set out in the Programme for Government as one of the Public Sector Reform initiatives and is consequently included in the Public Service Reform implementation plan being developed. Within this overall approach to Shared Services proposals for moving to Payroll Shared Services, including moving to a single Payroll system for the Civil Service, are currently being developed and it is planned to bring a decision to Government on this matter shortly.

The amount paid to Core by the Office of Public Works from 2000 to date was 597,351.04 euros inc. VAT. This includes Oracle licensing, payslips on line, reporting modules, system modifications and disaster recovery. We estimate the set up cost in 2001/2 (inc. initial software licences, Microsoft windows, consultancy, hardware etc.) to be in the region of 77,000 euros inc.

Estimated annual running cost is 30,000 Euros inc. VAT.

Public Sector Recruitment

Stephen S. Donnelly

Ceist:

199 Deputy Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of derogations from the moratorium on public sector recruitment that have been granted; the circumstances in which these were granted; the number of derogations that have been given specifically in cases of maternity leave; the agencies or working areas in which these were granted; if any cost benefit research has been conducted on the moratorium; if he has an estimate of the saving to the public sector pay bill, including maternity leave cover, due to the moratorium; and if, as part of the ongoing review of the effectiveness of the moratorium, he will consider excluding maternity leave cover from same. [30167/11]

Data relating to moratorium derogations is currently being updated and will be communicated to the Deputy as soon as it is to hand.

As I explained recently in response to the Deputy's other questions, exceptions from the moratorium can be considered in a number of special circumstances relating to the post in question and the nature of the duties involved. However, the reason why a post has become vacant in the first place (whether, for example through retirement, staff movement, or staff leave such as maternity leave) is not a factor in such decision.

The moratorium was introduced in March 2009. By the end 2011 the public service is on target to be almost 19,000 smaller and cost €1.5bn less than 2008 levels. Additional details are set out on my Department's website.

Wage-Setting Mechanisms

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

200 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the position regarding legislation (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29569/11]

On 26 July 2011 the Government agreed a package of radical reforms to the Joint Labour Committee and Registered Employment Agreement wage settling mechanisms. The reform proposals deal with recommendations made and issues raised in the Independent Report on the JLC/REA systems (Duffy/Walsh report) as well as the outcome of the recent High Court ruling in the Grace Fried Chicken constitutional challenge.

The proposed measures will provide for the retention of the JLC and REA systems, subject to the reforms that are required to place them on a more secure legal and constitutional footing. They will also reinstate a robust system of protection for workers in these sectors in the aftermath of the High Court ruling. Heads of a Bill to give effect to the reform proposals have been prepared by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, agreed by Government, and communicated to the Attorney General, who has agreed to give the highest priority to drafting this legislation. It is my intention to have a Bill ready to introduce to the Oireachtas at the earliest possible opportunity this term.

Employment Rights

Robert Dowds

Ceist:

201 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation his views on questions raised in the Universal Periodic Review over the right to collective bargaining here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29577/11]

The Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), established in accordance with Human Rights Council resolution 5/1 of 18 June 2007, held its twelfth session from 3 to 14 October 2011. The review of Ireland was held at the 7th meeting on 6 October 2011. Ireland's delegation was headed by the Minister for Justice and Equality.

In the course of the Working Group's discussion any UN Member State can pose questions, comments and/or make recommendations to the States under review. Norway submitted a question asking whether Ireland is prepared to enact legislation to underpin the right of workers to collective bargaining through their trade unions in line with Ireland's international commitments. Norway subsequently made a recommendation to this effect.

There is a commitment in the Programme for Government to ensure that Irish law on employees' rights to engage in collective bargaining is consistent with recent judgements of the European Court of Human Rights. This process will require consultation with stakeholders, including employer and worker representatives, and a review of the experience of the operation of the existing legislative framework as put in place under the Industrial Relations Acts of 2001 and 2004 and the consequences of the litigation that has arisen in the course of the operation of these Acts.

Ireland's response setting out the consideration given to the Norwegian recommendation will be delivered in the context of our comprehensive report to be provided before the 19th session of the Human Rights Council in March 2012.

Joan Collins

Ceist:

202 Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if all staff employed by the Houses of the Oireachtas are covered by the Working Time Act and all relevant health and safety regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29738/11]

In relation to health and safety, the position is that every worker, in every sector of the economy, is protected by the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and extant statutory instruments relevant to health and safety in the workplace.

The Organisation of Working Time Act 1995 contains specific definitions of employee and employer to whom the Act applies and describes the various circumstances in which the Act is not applicable.

It is the responsibility of all employers, including the Houses of the Oireachtas, to consider the extent to which all employment and health and safety legislation is applicable and to ensure compliance with all related obligations.

National Standards Authority

Patrick O'Donovan

Ceist:

203 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Jobs; Enterprise and Innovation if, in view of remarks (details supplied) made recently at the Coroner’s Court regarding a window blind contributing to the death of a child, regulations are expected to decrease the likelihood of a similar tragedy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29898/11]

The latest European standard EN13120, which has been adopted by the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI), specifies strict obligations on manufacturers of looped mechanism window blinds. These obligations include the provision of a warning notice in a conspicuous position of the risks inherent from cords, chains, tape and similar items.

In addition, the standard requires manufacturers to provide within the product package a device for keeping cords, chains, tape or similar items out of reach of children, or to provide an appropriate safety device (with instructions for its proper installation and use) or to include in the product design a mechanism that shall achieve the same result.

Where the design requires a looped operating mechanism, the manufacturer shall provide the means to limit the risk, either by incorporating this into the product design, or by supplying an appropriate safety device with the product.

Work commenced in 2010 to revise the European standard EN 13120 in order to strengthen requirements in relation to risks of strangulation by young children and Ireland has taken an active role in the working group responsible for this revision. Publication of the revised European standard is expected in 2012.

In addition, and given the specific national concerns in this area, the NSAI proposes that a national standard, more comprehensive than the European standard, will be published late in 2011 on providing guidance for manufacturers and installers as well as consumers on safe window blind products.

This standard will include other important guidance such as information on installation, including safety aspects, as well as training requirements for installers, manufacturers and sales representatives. To this end a committee has been established by the NSAI comprised of representatives of the manufacturing and installation sectors as well as the National Consumer Agency. A draft standard was made available on August 10th last for public consultation. In light of the coroner's report referred to by the Deputy a decision was taken by the NSAI to extend the public consultation until September 30th. The intention is for a revised national Standard to be published before the end of the year.

In light of the above I have no plans to introduce legislation at this time to make it illegal for manufacturers to include looped cords in window blinds. If a ban was proposed, Ireland would have to obtain the approval of the European Commission and other Member States.

Consumer Protection

Jerry Buttimer

Ceist:

204 Deputy Jerry Buttimer asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the reason retail outlets are not required to display on receipts the service charge payable when mobile phone credit is purchased in certain outlets. [29942/11]

While it is the normal practice of retail outlets to provide a receipt, there is no requirement on them to do so under current consumer legislation. There is no direct regulation accordingly of the content of retail receipts, or any requirement to display service or other charges on such receipts.

The report of the Sales Law Review Group that has been published today includes a recommendation that the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation should be empowered to make regulations requiring the issue of a receipt in consumer transactions. In considering this recommendation, I will take full account of the issue raised by the Deputy's question.

Employment Appeals Tribunal

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

205 Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the position regarding an employment appeals tribunal case in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29501/11]

The EAT hearing in question was held on the 29 October 2010. The determination was notified on 21 December 2010. The claim in this redundancy case was allowed in the claimants favour. The payment of the redundancy is now a matter for the employer and/or the Redundancy Section in the Department of Social Protection.

Wage-Setting Mechanisms

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

206 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if, in view of the proposed re-establishment of joint labour committees, he will confirm that new legislation will not contain any proposals to change workers’ pay and conditions in a downward trend; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29570/11]

On 26 July 2011 the Government agreed a package of radical reforms to the Joint Labour Committee and Registered Employment Agreement wage settling mechanisms. The reform proposals deal with recommendations made and issues raised in the Independent Report on the JLC/REA systems (Duffy/Walsh report) as well as the outcome of the recent High Court ruling in the Grace Fried Chicken constitutional challenge.

The proposed measures will provide for the retention of the JLC and REA systems, subject to the reforms that are required to place them on a more secure legal and constitutional footing. They will also reinstate a robust system of protection for workers in these sectors in the aftermath of the High Court ruling.

The report of the Independent Review does not recommend, nor have I proposed, downward adjustments in pay and conditions for the sectors covered by JLCs / REAs.

Heads of a Bill to give effect to the reform proposals have been prepared by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, agreed by Government, and communicated to the Attorney General, who has agreed to give the highest priority to drafting this legislation. It is my intention is to have a Bill ready to introduce to the Oireachtas at the earliest possible opportunity this term.

Departmental Funding

John Lyons

Ceist:

207 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will detail the interaction between him and an organisation (details supplied), including any funding or supports offered to it; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29602/11]

I have not met with the organisation or person referred to although I have agreed to meet representatives of Inner City Enterprise ('ICE') in November, 2011.

On 12 July, 2011 the Minister for Small Business John Perry TD met representatives, including Ms. Evanne Kilmurray, of Inner City Enterprise ('ICE'), in relation to re-establishment of funding for enterprise creation and self-employment in Inner City Dublin, particularly among the Long-term Unemployed, the marginalised and disadvantaged, as well as new residents, in that area. ICE indicated that, while seeking support to act as a funding organisation under the Social Finance Fund or under any Microfinance fund to be established, they were also seeking funds through other sources.

Minister Perry discussed relevant sources of support at local level and recommended engagement with the relevant local stakeholder. The Minister made no commitment to ICE of support or funding by the Department or its agencies.

Work Permits

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

208 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation his views on correspondence regarding a work permit in respect of a person (details supplied). [29633/11]

My Department processes applications in respect of the different types of employment permits and all applications are processed in line with the Employment Permits Act 2006.

I wish to advise the Deputy that this particular application was refused on the 6 October 2011 on the grounds that the application does not appear to meet the criteria of the Spousal/Dependant Permit Scheme. Spousal/Dependant Permits can only be considered where the Spouse/Parent of the proposed employee holds one of the following: — a Valid Green Card Permit, — a valid Work Permit of 12 months or more duration issued prior to the 1st June 2009, — a valid Intra-company Transfer Permit of 12 months or more duration issued prior to the 1st June 2009, — a Work Visa/Work Authorisation, or — a Hosting Agreement. I understand that an appeal in respect of this decision was received in the Employment Permits Section on 4 October 2011 and will be dealt with in sequence.

Finally, issues in relation to applications for Naturalisation are a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality, and are not one in which I have any role.

Croke Park Agreement

Simon Harris

Ceist:

209 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the position regarding the Croke Park agreement; if he has received implementation plans for this agreement from his Department and each State agency under his remit; the status of these implementation plans; the discussion he has had with the EU and IMF regarding the agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29688/11]

Under the Public Service Agreement 2010-2014, my Department, its Offices and the twelve Agencies that come within my Department's remit developed implementation plans in October 2010. The first update on implementation was developed and submitted to the Department of Finance (now the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform) in January 2011. A further report on implementation of the actions identified in these plans was submitted to the Implementation Body Secretariat, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in May 2011. This formed part of the first annual review of the Agreement undertaken by the Implementation Body.

Reporting on progress in the period April to September 2011 is now due and reports for my Departments, its Offices and Agencies are now being submitted to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. No discussions have taken place with the EU and IMF regarding the Public Service Agreement 2010-2014 on the implementation plans for my Department, its Offices or the Agencies under the aegis of my Department.

In general, I am satisfied that good progress is evident in bringing to conclusion the aspects identified in the various implementation plans.

Innovation Task Force

Eoghan Murphy

Ceist:

210 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Jobs; Enterprise and Innovation his position regarding recommendation 9.5 of the report of the innovation task force on introducing an entrepreneurial tax credit. [29723/11]

Eoghan Murphy

Ceist:

211 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Jobs; Enterprise and Innovation his position regarding recommendation 9.6 of the report of the innovation task force on introducing founder share options which are eligible only for CGT treatment. [29724/11]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 210 and 211 together.

As specified in the report of the Innovation Task Force, the Minister for Finance is the lead actor for follow up on these recommendations, as with all recommendations regarding tax.

My Department works closely with the Department of Finance, the Revenue Commissioners, Forfás, IDA, Enterprise Ireland and industry representative organisations in developing tax policy proposals to support enterprise, promote the creation of jobs and to encourage and support innovation. The following principles underpin the elaboration of tax proposals brought forward from the perspective of my Department and its agencies: — Entrepreneurs should have the incentive to set-up new businesses; — Early stage risky yet high potential start-up companies should be able to attract sufficient risk capital; — The tax system should encourage job creation by companies; and — Individuals should have a financial incentive to enter and stay within the workforce. As usual, my Department engages annually in discussions in the Tax Strategy Group on the optimal tax package for the following year's budget, and this is being undertaken for the 2012 Budget.

Eoghan Murphy

Ceist:

212 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation his position regarding key recommendation 9.8 of the report of the innovation task force on launching a marketing campaign to promote Ireland as a start-up hub for innovation and export-oriented companies. [29725/11]

Recommendation 9.8 of the report of the Innovation task Force proposed the launch of a marketing campaign, initially on a pilot basis, to promote Ireland as an excellent location for starting innovative export-oriented companies.

I will shortly be making an announcement about an initiative to attract overseas entrepreneurs to come to Ireland to set up a new company here or develop an innovative idea or service.

I believe that the contribution of foreign entrepreneurs to the Irish economic recovery effort is a resource with considerable potential. Entrepreneurs, not currently living in Ireland, can be encouraged to bring their ideas and entrepreneurial drive to Ireland, and establish an enterprise here. The entrepreneurs may be of the Irish diaspora who are returning to Ireland, non-Irish who have been resident here and subsequently returned home, or indeed people with no previous connection to Ireland. In time, these companies have the potential to develop to become a source of wealth and job creation for this economy.

This initiative will be one more step in orienting Ireland as a start-up hub for innovation and export-oriented companies.

Pension Provisions

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

213 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the saving to the Exchequer if all existing public service pension payments to former employees of State agencies under the aegis of his Department were capped at €35,000 per year. [29783/11]

The capping of existing public service pensions which are already in payment would involve changes in the terms and conditions of employment of former public servants, which is a policy matter for the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

The following additional information was provided under Standing Order 40A

The annual reduction in gross pension payments, if all pensions were capped at a maximum of €35,000 per annum, would be in the order of €6,350,000 gross in respect of the former employees of the agencies under the aegis of my Department. The net saving to the Exchequer would be less than this, taking account of reduced PAYE and other statutory deductions from salary.

Social Welfare Benefits

Nicky McFadden

Ceist:

214 Deputy Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Social Protection her views on the restriction to just one annual examination for persons on the PRSI scheme under the dental treatment benefit scheme. [29525/11]

The Dental Benefit scheme is paid from the Social Insurance Fund (SIF). Due to current economic conditions, the SIF remains under pressure and has required substantial subvention from the Exchequer. As part of a range of cost-saving measures intended to ease this pressure, the range of treatments available under the scheme was reduced in Budget 2010.

The free annual examination remains available to qualifying customers to encourage them to continue attending for regular check-ups and to assist in the early detection of dental-related health issues. Any future consideration of changes to the scheme will have to reflect the economic realities of available funding and competing priorities.

Community Employment Schemes

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

215 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Social Protection her plans to increase the number of years of participation on community employment schemes that applies to persons under the age of 55 years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29652/11]

In general, the maximum participation limit for community employment is one year with the opportunity to extend for a further year if this is considered the most suitable and cost effective measure to assist the client in gaining employment. A person may be eligible for different periods of engagement and extensions on CE due to their age or if they are in receipt of a qualifying disability-related payment from my Department or have previously been engaged on a scheme. Currently, 23,300 work placements are available on CE nationally.

The overall limits on duration spent on CE are strictly enforced to maximise the number of places available for potential clients and to ensure progression. I have no plans to extend the duration on CE.

Social Welfare Benefits

Simon Harris

Ceist:

216 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Social Protection her views on the possibility of reinstating the scale and polish treatments formerly available to PRSI contributors under the dental treatment benefit scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29672/11]

The dental benefit scheme is paid from the Social Insurance Fund (SIF). Due to the current economic conditions, the SIF remains under substantial pressure and as part of a range of cost-saving measures intended to ease this pressure, the range of treatments available under the scheme was reduced in Budget 2010.

The free examination remains available to qualifying customers to encourage them to continue attending for regular check-ups and to assist in the early detection of dental-related health issues. Future consideration of any changes to the scheme, including the re-instatement of the free scale and polish, will have to reflect the economic realities of available funding and competing priorities.

Niall Collins

Ceist:

217 Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Social Protection when a redundancy claim will be paid in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29732/11]

There is no claim for a statutory redundancy lump sum payment registered for the person in question in redundancy section. This may be due to the fact that the application was not registered as a result of incompleteness or because financial information from the person's former employer was not presented with the form RP50.

Community Employment Schemes

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

218 Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will clarify the situation in relation to the instruction given by SIPTU in recent months to the operators of community employment schemes that trainees on community schemes should not perform jobs for which they are qualified; if her attention has been drawn to this fact; if she has given approval or accepted the SIPTU ruling; if FÁS/SOLAS management has advised that it has accepted the SIPTU ruling; the reason an unemployed electrician cannot do a one-hour electrical repair job for the community employment scheme on which they are working; the reason a trainee on a community employment scheme should be denied the opportunity to keep in touch with their qualifications by dictate from SIPTU; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29747/11]

I have been informed by FÁS that the Community Employment National Monitoring Committee, which is made up of representatives of the Social Partners and FÁS staff, meets at regular intervals to ensure that Community Employment projects do not lead to the displacement or replacement of workers/employees. As part of the overall approval process, Community Employment projects obtain approval from the relevant Union as part of the application process. SIPTU recently issued a questionnaire to applying projects. This questionnaire was not agreed by FÁS or the National Monitoring Committee. FÁS met with SIPTU and proposed an alternative document to assist in the process. This document will be circulated shortly to CE sponsors for use in completing their application so as to satisfy FÁS and the Social Partners that none of the positions being applied for will result in the displacement or replacement of any workers/employees.

Jobs Initiative

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

219 Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Social Protection if she has been able to support under the jobs initiative scheme a project (details supplied) which is working closely with many networks and local employment services to assist the long term unemployed to establish their own businesses. [29763/11]

The Deputy will be aware that my Department now operates a number of programmes and interventions to support unemployed people in getting back to work. The organisation mentioned may qualify for support under a number of initiatives operated by my Department. The Jobs Initiative currently supports around 1,400 people in work but has not been open for recruitment for some years. Some 23,300 places have been allocated to community employment nationally and more information about how an organisation could benefit under this scheme is available from FÁS.

The national internship programme, JobBridge, is currently being rolled out and operates across the private, public and voluntary sectors under which eligible employers within the sectors may offer suitable internships. Tús, the community work placement initiative, has begun to roll-out nationally and this is being delivered by the Dublin Employment Pact in the North and South Inner City areas of Dublin. JobBridge and Tús, when fully operational will provide 5,000 internships and work placement opportunities each. Further information on all of these programmes and schemes is available on my Department's website, www.welfare.ie.

Question No. 220 withdrawn.

Redundancy Payments

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

221 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Social Protection the amount paid out in 100% redundancy payments over the past year; the amount recouped by the Exchequer in terms of rebate; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29796/11]

In 2010, the total amount paid from the Social Insurance Fund, under the Redundancy Payments Act 1967, was €469.9 million. Of this amount, €373.2 million was paid out in rebates to employers in respect of redundancy payments made by them to their employees. €96.7 million was the amount paid in lump sums to employees whose employers failed to make such payments.

Departmental Schemes

Alex White

Ceist:

222 Deputy Alex White asked the Minister for Social Protection in view of the important work done in the sector, if she will give assurances on the future funding of the return to education programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29972/11]

Part 3 of the Social Welfare and Pension Act 2010 provides for the transfer of the employment services and community services programmes of FÁS to the Department of Social Protection and for the integration of FÁS staff managing these programmes into the Department. That process of integration is currently under way. The training component of the community employment programme includes the return to education programme.

As with all programmes and schemes, the future funding and operation of the community employment programme will be considered in the context of the Comprehensive Expenditure Review and the Government's deliberations in respect of Budget 2012. It is not possible to give assurances that in relation to particular programmes.

Social Welfare Benefits

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

223 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will give an assurance that carer’s allowance will not be cut further in the upcoming budget. [30079/11]

The Estimate for my Department in 2011 provides for expenditure of over €762 million on carer's allowance (including half rate carer's allowance), carer's benefit, domiciliary care allowance and respite care grant schemes. Recipients of carer's allowance may also be entitled to the household benefits package and free travel.

Sustainable public finances are a prerequisite for maintaining an adequate system of social protection as well as achieving future economic stability and growth. The appropriate level of overall expenditure by my Department in the years ahead will be considered in the context of Budget 2012 and subsequent Budgets.

Redundancy Payments

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

224 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Social Protection when an application for redundancy in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cavan will be dealt with; the waiting time for the payment to issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29453/11]

There is no claim for a statutory redundancy lump sum payment registered for the person in question in redundancy section. This may be due to the fact that the application was not registered as a result of incompleteness or because financial information from the person's former employer was not presented with the form (RP50).

Social Welfare Benefits

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

225 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons that used the text message service to request back to education allowance forms; if all requests were dealt with and forms issued; the number of persons that did not receive forms despite requesting the form in this way; the facility in place for those persons who used the service but did not receive a form and who subsequently missed the deadline; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29454/11]

As there is no facility to request by text message the application form for back to education allowance, I assume that the Deputy is referring to the back to school clothing and footwear allowance.

The Department received some 18,000 text requests for the application form for the back to school clothing and footwear allowance this year and a form was issued in each case.

A sympathetic approach is being adopted in relation to genuine late claims i.e. claims from customers that have an entitlement prior to 30th September 2011. The Department is not aware of any cases where customers did not receive the form in response to a form request and where this caused them to miss the deadline, but if there are any such cases the claims will be accepted and decided.

I can assure the Deputy that all valid claims will be paid.

Gerald Nash

Ceist:

226 Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Social Protection if there are ever any extenuating circumstances whereby a back to work allowance can be extended; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29481/11]

The Department of Social Protection operates a range of employment support measures designed to encourage and support social welfare recipients of working age to reduce their dependency on welfare payments. These include the back to work enterprise allowance (BTWEA). This scheme is designed to provide a monetary incentive for people who are long term dependant on social welfare payments to develop a business.

The BTWEA allows eligible people to develop a business while retaining a reducing proportion of their qualifying social welfare payment. The period for which the allowance is payable is 2 years, the first year at 100% of existing social welfare entitlement and 75% in the second year. There are no circumstances where payment of the BTWEA is extended for more than two years. However, people who previously participated in the back to work enterprise allowance may apply a second time after a period of at least 5 years has elapsed.

It should also be noted that people who are self-employed for up to three days in a week may claim a jobseeker's payment in respect of the remainder of the week, subject to satisfying a means test and being available for full-time work.

The BTWEA in conjunction with other employment support schemes, will continue to be monitored on an ongoing basis to ensure that it continues to meet its objectives.

Redundancy Payments

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

227 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding a redundancy application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo; if all relevant information is in her possession; if not, the information that is outstanding; the amount outstanding; and when payment will be awarded. [29492/11]

I wish to advise the Deputy that the redundancy payments section of my Department received a lump sum claim in respect of the individual concerned from a liquidator in December 2010. This claim was processed and a payment was issued. The claim in question was calculated in respect of a period of employment from 2005 to 2010. An element of this employment period was excluded as redundancy payments section uncovered a previous claim for the employee which was submitted by his former employer in 2004. This rebate claim covered the period of employment from 1997 to 2004. The applicant signed the rebate claim submitted by his former employer.

Additional information has been supplied in respect of the previous employment period and this is being examined to establish if this further information supports a supplementary payment.

Social Welfare Benefits

Jack Wall

Ceist:

228 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for rent subsidy in respect of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29495/11]

The community welfare service (CWS) and the community welfare officers providing it transferred formally to the Department of Social Protection (DSP) from 1 October 2011. The service and the staff are now part of the DSP.

The person concerned has been awarded rent supplement of €637.35 per month from 16 August 2011. This is her full entitlement based on her personal circumstances.

Social Welfare Appeals

Pat Breen

Ceist:

229 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Social Protection, further to Parliamentary Question No. 344 of 14 September 2011, the position regarding an application in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Clare; and if an oral hearing will be facilitated in relation to same. [29528/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 30 August 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office and the appeal was assigned to an Appeals Officer on 14 September 2011 who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Social Welfare Fraud

Patrick O'Donovan

Ceist:

230 Deputy Patrick O’Donovan asked the Minister for Social Protection, further to Parliamentary Question No. 105 of 6 October 2011, the number of times in 2008, 2009, 2010 and to date in 2011 she has invoked section 8 of the Data Protection Act 1988 as a means to combat social welfare fraud. [29535/11]

As I have previously advised the Deputy, my Department has, in the last number of years, been engaged in extensive data matching exercises with a number of other Government Departments and public bodies for control purposes, in line with data protection requirements.

The Department has an extensive legal structure to support the sharing of data for the purpose of controlling the entitlement and payment of benefits. The legislative provisions which allow for the specific sharing of data are contained in section 261 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act, 2005.

In view of this comprehensive social welfare legislation, the Department does not specifically invoke section 8 of the Data Protection Act, 1988, as a means to combat fraud. However, all of the exchanges of data with other agencies are in compliance with both the Department's legislation and with Section 8 of the

Community Employment Schemes

Simon Harris

Ceist:

231 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of community work places that have been allocated under the Tús scheme to a specific geographic area (details supplied); the number of these places that currently remain unfilled; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29536/11]

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. This initiative is being delivered through the network of local development companies and Údarás na Gaeltachta in Gaeltacht areas. Each company has been allocated a specific number of placements to fill based on the level of underlying unemployment in the area covered by each company's operations. In county Wicklow, 100 placements have been allocated to Wicklow Partnership Company Limited and 40 to Bray Area Partnership Limited. Both companies are in the process of profiling and recruiting participants referred by this Department and are on course to fill all identified work placements offered by sponsor organisations. To date, 22 participants are in placement with Wicklow Partnership Company and 7 are in placement with Bray Area Partnership. It is expected that the remaining placements will be filled over the coming weeks as profiling of person referred by my Department and Garda Vetting procedures are completed by each company.

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

232 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection if a person (details supplied) in County Kerry will be eligible to apply for a community employment scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29541/11]

The criteria for participating on community employment are based on individual circumstances related to age, length of time unemployed or absent from the labour market and in receipt of qualifying social welfare payments. Under the current community employment eligibility guidelines the person referred to by the Deputy is not eligible to apply for a CE positions as he has not been in receipt of the relevant payment for the required period. The current arrangements require a person in receipt of illness benefit, to be in receipt of same for a minimum of six months.

Social Welfare Appeals

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

233 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding domiciliary care allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [29548/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 13th August 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by the Social Welfare Services on the grounds of appeal be sought. When received, the appeal in question will be referred to an Appeals Officer for consideration.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Community Employment Schemes

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

Ceist:

234 Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Social Protection the community employment schemes available; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29552/11]

Community employment is an active labour market programme designed to provide opportunities for people who are unemployed to engage in useful work and training on a fixed term basis with a view to progression to the labour market in the short term. Some 1,100 organisations in the community, voluntary and not-for-profit sectors provide work and training placements for participants nationwide.

The criteria for participating on community employment are based on individual circumstances related to age, length of time unemployed or absent from the labour market and in receipt of qualifying social welfare payments. The programme also focuses on those with more limited access to jobs and training opportunities. This latter client group will include lone parents, persons with disabilities, stabilised substance abusers, ex-prisoners, travellers, long- term unemployed persons.

The number of places available was increased to 23,300 in 2010 and remains at this level of 2011. Places are allocated regionally to reflect the underlying level of unemployment. In delivering these places, FÁS will continue to operate with sponsor organisations in a flexible manner in order to maximise progression to the labour market, while at the same time facilitating support for the delivery of community services.

Social Welfare Benefits

Dan Neville

Ceist:

235 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding rent allowance from the Health Service Executive in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29565/11]

The community welfare service (CWS), and the community welfare officers providing it, transferred formally to the Department of Social Protection (DSP) from 1 October 2011. The service and the staff are now part of the DSP.

The person concerned was refused rent supplement for a number of reasons including that the rent payable was in excess of the maximum amount in respect of which a supplement is payable for his family size. In addition, the person in question did not provide the Department's representative with all of the information requested in order to process his claim.

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

236 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of landlords on a county basis in receipt of rent supplement; the amount being paid on a county basis; if each landlord is registered with the Private Residential Tenancies Board; if she ensures that each property is registered before approving payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29573/11]

The community welfare service (CWS) and the community welfare officers providing it transferred formally to the Department of Social Protection (DSP) from 1 October 2011. The service and the staff are now part of the DSP.

Since 2005 rent supplement expenditure has increased from €369 million to €516 million in 2010. The number of persons claiming the allowance increased from almost 60,200 persons in 2005 to some 95,700 as at October 2011, a 59% increase.

Under the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, landlords are legally obliged to register tenancies with the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB). However, not all tenancies are required to be registered with the PRTB as the relevant legislation provides for certain exceptions.

Where registration is required, the landlord has up to one month after the commencement of the tenancy to register it with the PRTB at the standard fee and longer to register at a higher fee. It is therefore not practical for the Department to insist that a tenancy be registered before rent supplement can be paid to the tenant as the establishment of the tenancy will be dependent on rent supplement being awarded.

The Department works closely with the Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB) to help ensure that rent supplement tenancies comply with the statutory system of tenancy regulation and safeguards. The Department advises the PRTB of all new rent supplemented tenancies to assist them in implementing tenancy regulations and co-operates in any initiatives taken by the PRTB to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act.

The number of landlords and expenditure on rent supplement are not available on a county basis. However, the table provides details on the number of rent supplement tenancies in payment at end 2010.

Rent Supplement Recipients

County

Recipients

Carlow

1,484

Cavan

1,029

Clare

1,937

Cork

10,988

Donegal

3,194

Dublin

33,818

Galway

4,829

Kerry

2,339

Kildare

4,409

Kilkenny

1,577

Laois

1,151

Leitrim

530

Limerick

3,896

Longford

715

Louth

2,563

Mayo

3,012

Meath

2,552

Monaghan

598

Offaly

1,273

Roscommon

1,276

Sligo

787

Tipperary

2,680

Waterford

2,332

Westmeath

1,623

Wexford

4,055

Wicklow

2,613

Community Employment Schemes

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

237 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection if there is scope to extend community employment schemes (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29581/11]

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 (CE) 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.

In general, the maximum participation limits for community employment is one year with the opportunity to extend for a further year if this is considered the most suitable and cost effective measure to assist the client in gaining employment. A person may be eligible for different periods of engagement and extensions on CE due to their age or if they are in receipt of a qualifying disability-related payment from my Department or have previously been engaged on a scheme. Extensions of a CE placement have to be requested a minimum of eight weeks before the proposed finish date by the CE Project Supervisor. Once an extension application is received by the local FÁS office, a determination is made as to whether the placement is the most suitable and cost effective measure to assist the client in gaining employment. Clients who are deemed job-ready by the Supervisor are not extended in order to free up the place for another client. If no request for an extension is requested then the person must leave the scheme and re-qualify under the published eligibility rules for any further participation on the CE scheme.

The overall limits on duration spent on CE are strictly enforced to maximise the number of places available for potential clients and to ensure progression. A person may check their eligibility for extensions of the time spent on community employment by contacting their local FÁS office.

Social Welfare Appeals

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

238 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Social Protection when an oral hearing will take place in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29615/11]

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 made 9 additional appointments to the office earlier this year.

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

Jack Wall

Ceist:

239 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) in County Kildare has had their rent supplement reduced; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29632/11]

The community welfare service (CWS), and the community welfare officers providing it, formally transferred to the Department of Social Protection (DSP) from 1 October 2011. The service and the staff are now part of the DSP. Due to a change in circumstances for the person concerned, in that her jobseeker's benefit payment had finished, the person's rent supplement entitlement has been recalculated. Arrears are now due in respect of this recalculation for the months of July to September. Payment in respect of these arrears will be issued to the person concerned shortly.

Employment Support Services

Simon Harris

Ceist:

240 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Social Protection about the funding provided nationally to support local employment services each year; the breakdown of the funding by region; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29676/11]

The Local Employment Service provides a range of services to unemployed people focusing on the provision of practical support, advice, guidance and information relating to employment, training and return to work and welfare rights options. The service is community-based and operated by Local Development Companies in 25 designated disadvantaged areas with funding provided by FÁS. The service is free, voluntary and confidential and tailored to meet local circumstances and the needs of the person. Expenditure by FÁS on the local employment services programmes for the years 2009, 2010 and 2011 is set out in the following table. FÁS has advised that expenditure for the whole of 2011 is expected to be broadly similar to 2010.

Local Employment Services Programme Actual Expenditure by Region € (m)

Region

2011 (to end Sept)

2010

2009

Dublin

6.682

9.466

9.535

North East

1.087

1.555

1.587

South East

1.551

2.211

2.083

South West

1.432

2.041

1.966

Mid West

1.045

1.406

1.333

West

1.102

1.391

1.543

Midlands

0.634

0.894

0.916

Central

0.012

0.014

0.007

Total

13.546

18.978

18.970

Croke Park Agreement

Simon Harris

Ceist:

241 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding the Croke Park agreement; if he has received implementation plans for the agreement from her Department and each State agency under her remit; the status of these implementation plans; the discussion she has had with the EU and IMF regarding the agreement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29690/11]

An action plan was prepared by my Department in accordance with the requirements of the Public Service (Croke Park) Agreement 2010-2014. Action Plans were also prepared by the agencies under the aegis of my Department, namely the Citizens Information Board and the Pensions Board.

My Department's Action Plan and those of the agencies under the aegis of my Department were prepared having regard to the economic and budgetary environment. Full implementation of the Action Plans requires major organisational change, involving changes in structures, business processes, administrative, operating and governance systems, practices and procedures, supported by significant human resource and ICT changes.

My Department is striving to provide an effective service to its customers in the most efficient manner that can reasonably be achieved and is fully committed to delivering on the Action Plans in order to secure service improvements and efficiencies. In accordance with paragraph 1.16 of the Public Service Agreement, a review of the implementation of the Agreement was undertaken in my Department. The progress and savings reports on the implementation of the Action Plan for the period to end March 2011 were submitted to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on 3rd May 2011. Similarly, the progress and savings reports of the agencies under the aegis of my Department were also submitted at that time. A second review of the implementation of the Agreement is currently being undertaken in my Department on the progress achieved over the 6-month period, April 2011 to September 2011, as requested by the Implementation Body.

Following these reviews, I can confirm that all targets to the end of September 2011 have been met and that all actions are currently on schedule for delivery in accordance with the specified timeframes. I wish to advise the Deputy that I have had no discussions with the EU and IMF regarding the Public Service Agreement.

Social Welfare Benefits

John McGuinness

Ceist:

242 Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Social Protection if an application for financial assistance towards travel costs to attend hospital will be granted in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Wexford. [29701/11]

The community welfare service (CWS), and the community welfare officers providing it, formally transferred to the Department of Social Protection (DSP) from 1 October 2011. The service and the staff are now part of the DSP. Under the supplementary allowance scheme (SWA) an exceptional needs payment (ENP) may be made 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 based on the particular circumstances of the case. Eligible people would normally be in receipt of a social welfare or HSE payment. The Department's representative administering SWA has refused an exceptional needs payment in this case and has advised the person concerned of his right to appeal the decision to the relevant appeals office.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

243 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection, further to Parliamentary Question No. 97 of 28 September 2011, the current or expected position in respect of an application for back-to-education allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29713/11]

The person concerned has applied for the back to education allowance (BTEA) in respect of a BTEC Higher National Diploma which is classified as a third level course in accordance with BTEA guidelines. As the person concerned has not been in receipt of a qualifying payment for 234 days he does not satisfy the conditions for receipt of BTEA (third level option).

Employment Support Services

Simon Harris

Ceist:

244 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Social Protection how community employment places in an area (details supplied) have been divided up between community organisations; the rationale for the allocation of these places; her views on whether there should be a greater spread of CE posts across community and voluntary organisations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29717/11]

Community employment helps long-term unemployed people to re-enter the active workforce by breaking their experience of unemployment through a return to work routine. The focus of CE is on developing technical and personal skills to enable a person to return to the open labour market. Persons engaged are provided with work and training placements of 19½ hours duration per week with a not-for-profit community sponsor delivery local services.

FÁS is required to operate within the operational budget set for each programme and the funding allocated for 2011 will allow for the provision of some 23,300 places nationally. If places become available, FÁS uses the following criteria to allocate these places:

number of people on the live register in the area;

extent to which the primary objective of the additional positions will increase the employability of unemployed persons;

whether the service offered by the CE provider is for a disadvantaged group;

whether the local community views the programme of value, as measured by community support;

whether the sponsor has got a record of providing a training plan for each person on the programme; and

whether the sponsor has a record of progressing participants into employment.

Social Welfare Benefits

David Stanton

Ceist:

245 Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Social Protection, further to Parliamentary Question No. 239 of 27 September 2011, the reasons a supplementary welfare allowance mortgage interest supplement payment awarded to a person (details supplied) in County Cork from 12 September 2011 has been stopped; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29721/11]

The community welfare service (CWS) and the community welfare officers providing it transferred formally to the Department of Social Protection (DSP) from 1 October 2011. The service and the staff are now part of the DSP. The mortgage interest supplement claim of the person concerned was suspended while his entitlement was being reviewed. The review has since been completed and arrears have now issued to the person concerned.

Social Welfare Appeals

John Lyons

Ceist:

246 Deputy John Lyons 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 Dublin 9; and if she will expedite a decision on same. [29728/11]

The community welfare service (CWS), and the community welfare officers providing it, formally transferred to the Department of Social Protection (DSP) from 1 October 2011. The service and the staff are now part of the DSP. Under the supplementary allowance scheme (SWA) an exceptional needs payment (ENP) may be made 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 based on the particular circumstances of the case. Eligible people would normally be in receipt of a social welfare or HSE payment.

The Department's representative administering SWA has refused an exceptional needs payment in this case and has advised the person concerned of his right to appeal the decision to the relevant appeals office. To date there is no record of an appeal in this case.

Pension Provisions

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

247 Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Social Protection what the saving to the Exchequer would be if all existing public service pension payments to former employees of State agencies under the aegis of her Department were capped at €35,000 per year. [29786/11]

The savings to the Exchequer arising from the capping at €35,000 per annum of those pension payments which are funded by my Department and made to former employees of the Citizen's Information Board would be €20,044 in 2011. The pensions of staff who retire from the two other agencies of my Department (the Pensions Board and the Office of the Pensions Ombudsman) are not funded through the Vote of my Department and, accordingly, the information requested is not available in my Department.

Social Welfare Benefits

Pat Breen

Ceist:

248 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Social Protection when an application will be processed in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29792/11]

The person concerned should contact Bishop Square Local Office regarding his Jobseeker's application. However, individuals who commence a JobBridge internship can expect to receive their additional top-up payment of €50 per week approximately 3 weeks after commencing the internship.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

249 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason for refusal of payment in respect of an application for carer’s allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath; if this parliamentary question will be taken as lodgement of an appeal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29811/11]

The person concerned was refused carer's allowance on grounds that he has not established that he is providing full-time care and attention as laid down in the carer's allowance guidelines. The Department is satisfied that the care recipient has a requirement for full-time care. He was notified of this decision, the reason for it and of his right of review or appeal within 21days to the social welfare appeals office. If further details are provided by the person in question regarding the extent of the care being provided by him, the decision will be reviewed by a deciding officer.

Social Welfare Appeals

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

250 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection, further to Parliamentary Question No. 127 of 4 October 2011, when an appeal will be heard in respect of an application for carer’s allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29886/11]

Further to my response to Parliamentary Question Ref. No. 127 on 05 October 2011, I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that there is no update to the information given previously. 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.

Paul Connaughton

Ceist:

251 Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Social Protection when an appeal for carer’s allowance will be finalised in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29889/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 16th June 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 06 October 2011 and the appeal will, in due course, be assigned to an Appeals Officer who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Social Welfare Benefits

Jack Wall

Ceist:

252 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for mortgage interest relief in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29892/11]

The community welfare service (CWS) and the community welfare officers providing it transferred formally to the Department of Social Protection (DSP) from 1 October 2011. The service and the staff are now part of the DSP. The person concerned was requested to provide further information to process his application for a mortgage interest supplement. When this information is received a decision will be made on his application.

Social Welfare Appeals

Patrick Deering

Ceist:

253 Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Social Protection when a decision on an application for carer’s allowance will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Carlow; and if she will expedite a response. [29893/11]

The person concerned was refused carer's allowance on grounds that the Department's medical assessor expressed the opinion that the care recipient is not so disabled as to require full-time care and attention as prescribed in regulations. She was notified of this decision, the reason for it and of her right of review or appeal. Additional medical evidence has been received and will be reviewed by a medical assessor in due course. She will be notified directly of the outcome of the review once it is completed.

Social Welfare Benefits

Jack Wall

Ceist:

254 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will receive their arrears of carer’s allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29899/11]

The person concerned has been awarded carer's allowance. Arrears of allowance due from the date of his application for carer's allowance, less any other payment made to him for the intervening period, will issue shortly.

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

255 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding entitlements in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 17; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29921/11]

The community welfare service (CWS), and the community welfare officers providing it, formally transferred to the Department of Social Protection (DSP) from 1 October 2011. The service and the staff are now part of the DSP. Apart from a number of excluded categories, anyone in the State who satisfies a habitual residency condition and a means test, who has registered for employment, unless they have a physical or mental disability, and can prove unemployment may qualify for a weekly payment of supplementary welfare allowance (SWA).

Departmental records show that there are currently no social welfare claims pending for the person concerned. Should the person concerned wish to be considered for assistance from the Department he may make an application for jobseeker's allowance in his designated social welfare local office in Greendale Road, Kilbarrack, Dublin 5. Additionally he may wish to make an application for assistance under the SWA scheme. Applications for SWA can be made to the Department's designated representatives in the local health centre in Foxfield Crescent, Kilbarrack, Dublin 5. Full details in relation to the assistance available can be obtained on the Department's website on www.welfare.ie.

Departmental Expenditure

Damien English

Ceist:

256 Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Social Protection the total departmental expenditure as a percentage of GDP for each of the years 2006 to 2009, inclusive; her estimate for same for 2011; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29927/11]

Social protection statistics are reported at EU level based on the ESSPROS methodology. That has much wider coverage than Department of Social Protection (DSP) expenditure, as it includes health expenditure, public service pensions and other significant expenditures. On that basis, Irish social protection expenditure was 18.3% of GDP in 2006, compared to an EU 27 average of 26.7%. By 2008, Irish expenditure had increased to 22.1% of GDP, while the EU average had fallen back to 26.4%.

The most recent year in respect of which EU-wide comparative data are available is 2008. Given the significant increase in social welfare expenditure and the decrease in GDP since 2008, Irish social protection spending, based on the ESSPROS methodology, is likely to have moved much closer to the EU average by 2011.

DSP expenditure as a percentage of GDP for the years 2006-2010 and an estimate for 2011 of same are in the following tabular statement. This shows that expenditure by my Department has risen from less than 8% of GDP in 2006 to over 13% of GDP in 2010 and is expected to be at a broadly similar level in 2011.

Year

DSP Expenditure as a Percentage of GDP

2006

7.7%

2007

8.2%

2008

9.9%

2009

12.9%

2010

13.5%

2011 (estimated)

13.3%

School Meals Programme

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

257 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Social Protection the total cost of the school meals programme operated by her; and the cost of same for each of the past five years. [29929/11]

The School Meals Programme gives funding towards the provision of food services for disadvantaged children through two schemes. The first is the statutory Urban School Meals Scheme, operated by local authorities and part-financed by this Department. The second is the School Meals Local Projects Scheme through which funding is provided directly to participating schools and local and voluntary community groups who run their own school meals projects. The allocation for the programme for 2011 is €35m. Expenditure on the School Meals Programme for each of the past five years is set out in the following tabular statement.

School Meals Programme Expenditure 2006 to 2010

Year

Urban School Meals Scheme

School Meals Local Projects Scheme

Total

2006

€1.16m

€12.5m

€13.6m

2007

€1.16m

€27.04m

€28.2m

2008

€1.1m

€31.28m

€32.38m

2009

€1.2m

€33.64m

€34.84m

2010

€0.79m

€34.17m

€34.96m

Community Welfare Service

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

258 Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will confirm the legal status of any circulars issued from her to the community welfare service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29933/11]

The community welfare service (CWS), and the community welfare officers providing it, formally transferred to the Department of Social Protection (DSP) from 1 October 2011. The service and the staff are now part of the Department of Social Protection.

The purpose of Circulars issued by my Department is to provide information, guidance, clarification and interpretations to staff on all aspects of the supplementary welfare allowance scheme. All decisions in relation to the supplementary welfare allowance scheme will continue to be based on the legislative provisions as set down in the various Social Welfare Acts and are supported by statutory regulations.

Social Welfare Code

Michelle Mulherin

Ceist:

259 Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Social Protection if endometriosis is recognised as a disability; and the extent to which it is recognised for the purpose of assessing a person’s entitlement to a disability payment. [29935/11]

Endometriosis (WHO ICD-10 code N80.9) is a gynaecological medical condition. It is recognised by the Department of Social Protection as a medical condition which may result in some form of disability. Medical suitability for a disability payment is determined by medical assessment of its severity and expected duration.

Social Welfare Benefits

Jack Wall

Ceist:

260 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an application for rent allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29950/11]

The community welfare service (CWS) and the community welfare officers providing it transferred formally to the Department of Social Protection (DSP) from 1 October 2011. The service and the staff are now part of the DSP.

The person concerned has made an application for rent supplement and has been requested to provide further information in order to process her claim. A decision will be made on her application when the information has been provided.

Live Register

Eamonn Maloney

Ceist:

261 Deputy Eamonn Maloney asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons on the live register at the end of September 2011 who are categorised as teachers; if teachers, when registering, provide information as to their teaching qualifications (that is, primary or post-primary); if this is available as a breakdown of the numbers on the register; and the comparable figures regarding the live register for year ending September 2010. [29957/11]

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the tabular statement. The breakdown of teaching professionals between primary and post-primary teachers and information regarding their teaching qualifications is not available.

Teaching Professionals End September

Live Register

2010 Numbers

% of Live Register

2011 Numbers

% of Live Register

Jobseeker’s Allowance

4,019

.91%

4,185

.96%

Jobseeker’s Benefit

3,735

.84%

3,364

.77%

Credits Only

1,749

.40%

2,165

.49%

Total

9,503

2.15%

9,714

2.22%

Question No. 262 withdrawn.

Community Employment Schemes

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

263 Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Social Protection if a person (details supplied) in County Kildare may take part in a community employment scheme for a position that has come up in their local area for which they are qualified and experienced; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29970/11]

The criteria for participating on community employment are based on individual circumstances related to age, length of time unemployed or absent from the labour market and in receipt of qualifying social welfare payments. The person referred to by the Deputy can establish their eligibility with FÁS at the Newbridge Employment Services Office, Main Street, Newbridge (045 431372). It is a matter for the Board and supervisors of the sponsor group with the support of the local FÁS Development Officer to determine the suitability of a person for a vacant CE position once they have satisfied the eligibility conditions.

Social Welfare Benefits

Jim Daly

Ceist:

264 Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Social Protection the amount of rent allowance that has been paid out by the State for each of the years from 2000 to 2010 in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29971/11]

The rent supplement expenditure for the years 2000 to 2010 is set out in the following tabular statement.

Rent Supplement Recipient Numbers & Expenditure: 2000 to 2010

Year

Recipients

Cost €000

2000

42,683

150,590

2001

45,028

179,438

2002

54,213

252,203

2003

59,976

331,471

2004

57,874

353,762

2005

60,176

368,705

2006

59,861

388,339

2007

59,726

391,466

2008

74,038

440,548

2009

93,030

510,751

2010

97,260

516,861

John Lyons

Ceist:

265 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will confirm that she has received medical documentation from a person (details supplied) in Dublin 9 with regard to their application for an invalidity pension. [29985/11]

Invalidity pension is a payment for people who are permanently incapable of work because of illness or incapacity and who satisfy the contribution conditions.

An invalidity pension application form was received for the person concerned. All medical documentation relating to the application was referred to a medical assessor. The opinion of the medical assessor is that the person concerned is not eligible for invalidity pension as she does not satisfy the medical criteria. The application for invalidity pension was disallowed. She was notified of this decision on 14 October 2011.

Social Welfare Code

Robert Troy

Ceist:

266 Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will review the criteria for the approval of mortgage interest supplement in order to include relief for those who have been disallowed mortgage interest relief because the rate of interest they pay is higher than current limits allow. [29996/11]

The purpose of the mortgage interest supplement scheme is to provide short term support to eligible people who are unable to meet their mortgage interest repayments in respect of a house which is their sole place of residence. The supplement assists with the interest portion of the mortgage repayments only.

At the end of December 2010 there were 17,974 people in receipt of mortgage interest supplement, an increase of 337% over the 2007 figure. There are currently over 18,500 households benefiting from the scheme for which €77.2m has been allocated for 2011.

The community welfare service (CWS), and the community welfare officers providing it, transferred formally to the Department of Social Protection (DSP) from 1 October 2011. The service and the staff are now part of the DSP.

Under the rules governing mortgage interest supplement, it is a condition of entitlement that the amount of the mortgage interest payable by the claimant does not exceed what the Department's representative considers reasonable to meet his or her residential needs.

However, legislative provisions are already in place that allows a Department's representative to award a mortgage interest supplement to a claimant on a discretionary basis for a maximum period of 12 months where the amount of mortgage interest exceeds what the Department's representative considers reasonable to meet his or her residential and other needs. When making a decision in relation to payment of mortgage interest supplement on a discretionary basis, a number of factors have to be considered, including: — Whether there is an indication that the claimant will be in a position to re-assume responsibility for repayments in the near future; — Where the claimant's interest repayment liability combined with projected reduction in interest rates indicate that the interest repayments on the loan may be reduced in the near future and may come into line with local rent or mortgage interest limits; — In accordance with the statutory Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears the claimant has re-negotiated and reached an agreement with the lender for a re-scheduling of the mortgage repayments and capitalisation of any arrears which have accrued.

Simon Harris

Ceist:

267 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will recognise the societal contribution made by carers by reclassifying the carer’s allowance to ensure carers remain eligible for PRSI contribution stamps while exercising their role as carers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30002/11]

The Government is acutely aware and appreciative of the societal contribution made by carers and recognises this in social welfare provision. The estimated expenditure for carers in 2011, including carer's allowance, carer's benefit and respite care grant is approximately €658 million compared to just under €100 million in 2000. This does not include the cost of the household benefits package or free travel which carers also receive.

Since the introduction of the carer's allowance in 1990 payments to carers have been increased and expanded greatly. Even with the reductions announced in the last two budgets for carers under 66, the weekly rate of payment for the carers allowance is still almost 33% higher this year than in 2005 and almost double what it was in 2000.

Recipients of carer's allowance are also eligible for household benefits, free travel and the respite care grant of €1,700.

The means test for carer's allowance has been significantly eased over the years, and is now one of the most generous means tests in the social welfare system, most notably with regard to spouse's earnings. Since April 2008, the income disregard has been €332.50 per week for a single person and €665 per week for a couple. This means that a couple with two children can earn in the region of €35,400 and qualify for the maximum rate of carer's allowance as well as the associated free travel and household benefits. A couple with an income in the region of €59,300 can still qualify for a minimum payment, as well as the associated free travel, household benefits package. These levels ensure that those on average industrial earnings continue to qualify for a full carer's allowance.

The carer's allowance is an income support provided for those who are unable to take up full-time paid employment due to their caring responsibilities. It is not possible simply to reclassify it as earned income, subject to PRSI contributions. Persons in receipt of carer's allowance, carer's benefit and the respite care grant may, however, engage in employment, self employment, training or education outside the home for up to 15 hours per week and still be considered to be providing full-time care and attention for the purposes of the schemes. This means that where a carer remains in employment he or she will continue to pay the appropriate social insurance contribution. Also, any person, including carers, may pay voluntary contributions once they satisfy certain qualifying conditions.

People who qualify for payments such as carer's allowance or carer's benefit may, subject to conditions, qualify for credited contributions for the period they are receiving the payment.

Credited contributions form an integral part of the social insurance system. They are underwritten by the Social Insurance Fund and are designed to protect the social insurance entitlement record of insured workers who — for reasons relating to incapacity, ill-health, unemployment, early retirement, professional training or the provisions of care (i.e. for children, the disabled or the elderly) — are not in a position to make PRSI payments.

In addition, the social welfare pension rights of those who take time out of the workforce for caring duties are protected by the homemaker's scheme which was introduced in 1994. The scheme allows up to 20 years spent caring for children or incapacitated adults to be disregarded when a person's social insurance record is being averaged for pension purposes.

The homemaker's scheme will not of itself qualify a person for a pension. The standard qualifying conditions, which require a person to enter insurance 10 years before pension age, pay a minimum of 260 contributions at the correct rate (rising to 520 from April 2012), 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.

Social Welfare Benefits

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

268 Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of children between the ages of two and four years in respect of whom the back to school clothing and footwear allowance is paid; the cost of this scheme to the Exchequer in the school year 2010-11; and the number of two year old children who attend primary school, or if this allowance is paid in respect of two year olds who attend pre-school facilities. [30014/11]

The Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance (BSCFA) scheme provides a one-off payment to eligible families to assist with the extra costs when their children start school each autumn. The allowance is not intended to meet the full cost of school clothing and footwear but only to provide assistance towards these costs. Expenditure on the scheme in 2010 was €77.4m with some 162,500 payments made in respect of approximately 325,000 children.

The number of children aged 2 to 4 years of age (inclusive) that benefited in 2010 was 63,200. The number of such children for the 2011 scheme will be available when all claims are processed. Statistics are not available regarding the number of these that were attending school or preschool.

The BSCFA scheme was introduced in 1990. This scheme superseded the arrangements which had been in place since 1977 whereby child clothing and footwear payments were made under the exceptional needs provisions of the Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA) scheme. The SWA clothing and footwear scheme had in turn replaced a previous Public Assistance Footwear scheme that had been introduced in 1944.

These previous schemes had been targeted at both school and pre-school children from the age of two years up. When the BSCFA scheme was introduced, the provision to pay the allowance to children from the age of two years up was retained.

At the end of this year's BSCFA scheme a review will be undertaken of all aspects of the operation of the scheme, including eligibility criteria.

Pat Breen

Ceist:

269 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) in County Clare has been refused payment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30055/11]

The community welfare service (CWS), and the community welfare officers providing it, formally transferred to the Department of Social Protection (DSP) from 1 October 2011. The service and the staff are now part of the DSP.

The Department's representative administering the supplementary welfare allowance scheme has refused the person concerned a mortgage interest supplement payment as it is considered that he has sufficient income to meet his mortgage interest costs.

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

270 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Social Protection if any case has ever been referred to her whereby a person has purposely disengaged from his or her place of work in order to have the State pay their mortgage; if she will clarify the provisions made for paying such mortgages if a person is deemed to qualify; if she will clarify the criteria to qualify, and the number of persons availing of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30071/11]

The community welfare service (CWS) and the community welfare officers providing it transferred formally to the Department of Social Protection (DSP) from 1 October 2011. The service and the staff are now part of the DSP.

At the end of December 2010 there were 17,974 people in receipt of mortgage interest supplement, an increase of 337% over the 2007 figure. There are currently over 18,500 households benefiting from the scheme for which €77.2m has been allocated for 2011.

Under the mortgage interest supplement means-test, where a Department's representative is aware that an applicant has deprived himself or herself of an income in order to qualify for supplementary welfare allowance, the weekly value of all income forgone is assessed in full.

The Department is unaware of any instances where applicants have deprived themselves of an income in order to qualify for mortgage interest supplement.

Social Welfare Appeals

John O'Mahony

Ceist:

271 Deputy John O’Mahony asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will receive a reply in respect of their carer’s allowance appeal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30133/11]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 02 June 2011. It is a statutory requirement of the appeals process that the relevant Departmental papers and comments by or on behalf of the Deciding Officer on the grounds of appeal be sought. These papers were received in the Social Welfare Appeals Office on 23 September 2011 and the appeal will, in due course, be assigned to an Appeals Officer who will decide whether the case can be decided on a summary basis or whether to list it for oral hearing.

The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Social Welfare Benefits

Jack Wall

Ceist:

272 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will receive a decision on their application for mortgage interest relief; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30147/11]

The community welfare service (CWS) and the community welfare officers providing it transferred formally to the Department of Social Protection (DSP) from 1 October 2011. The service and the staff are now part of the DSP.

The entitlement to mortgage interest supplement of the person concerned is currently under review. A decision will be made on her entitlement shortly.

Departmental Schemes

Stephen S. Donnelly

Ceist:

273 Deputy Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Social Protection the targets or benchmarks agreed at the outset of the JobBridge scheme in order to assess its ultimate success; if there have been any interim reports against these targets; the measures being taken to ensure that participating firms are not using the scheme to replace paid workers; and the procedures that will be followed at the conclusion of the scheme for evaluating its success. [30170/11]