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].

Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

1 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the budget, the costs spent to date and the benefits of Ireland holding the presidency of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe this year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14793/12]

As Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, I am the Chairperson-in-Office for the duration of our Chairmanship and bear overall responsibility for the executive action of the organisation. Ireland was one of the founding States of the OSCE and we have always recognised the Organisation's vital role in maintaining peace and security in Europe. I am honoured to chair the OSCE this year and greatly look forward to using this role to raise the profile of Ireland, thereby contributing to the restoration of our international reputation.

The budget for our OSCE Chairmanship this year is €7 million, about half of which will be required to host the OSCE Ministerial Council in Dublin this December. This Ministerial meeting is likely to be worth c. €2m to the Irish economy, based on figures from Bord Fáilte on the likely spend per delegate. The total amount spent to date in 2012 is €150,842. In 2011, a total of €729,279 was spent on preparations for the Chairmanship year.

As Chair, we will work consistently to ensure that the OSCE operates at the highest level of efficiency and to keep costs at a minimum. The Secretary General of the OSCE is also very aware of current economic restraints. He is actively examining how the OSCE operates and exploring various reform proposals so as to strengthen its institutional core and capacities.

Ireland will reap several benefits from the Chairmanship of the OSCE, including a significantly raised EU and international profile. It will enhance the reputation we already have for skilled diplomacy and crisis management and expand our conflict resolution and human rights expertise; both important features of Ireland's foreign policy. It will provide us with an opportunity to have close and sustained engagement with major international players, such as the United States, Russia, France and Germany, and with countries with which we would have fewer opportunities for engagement, such as the countries of Central Asia. These links will also allow us to assess and develop trade links across the OSCE area.

Irish Emigrants

Joanna Tuffy

Ceist:

2 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the position regarding aid given to Irish emigrants living in Britain on a yearly basis from 1987 to date in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14862/12]

Since 2004, my Department has provided funding to Irish emigrants living in Britain under the Emigrant Support Programme. Prior to this Irish Government funding was referred to as the Dion fund. The emphasis of the ESP is on supporting culturally sensitive front-line welfare services, targeted at the most vulnerable members of our overseas communities. These services have made a substantive difference to the lives of Irish communities overseas (particularly in Britain and the United States), reducing homelessness, tackling social isolation, and enabling Irish emigrants to access their local statutory entitlements. Between 2004 and 2011 over €93 million has been provided under the Programme of which almost €68 million was paid to organisations in Britain. In 2011, €11.3 million was provided to support over 200 organisations in twenty countries worldwide including €7.8m in respect of 114 organisations in Britain. Recommendations for grants in Britain are agreed in conjunction with the Emigrant Services Advisory Committee (ESAC).

I am pleased that despite the difficult financial situation we face, the Government has maintained funding under the ESP at a significant level (€11.6m) for 2012. The 2012 grant round closed on 29 February and applications for funding are currently being assessed.

The table below sets out the annual breakdown of grants made since 1987 to organisations in Britain who support Irish emigrants living there.

Year

Ir£

Stg£

€ equivalent

1987

250,000

317,434

1988

250,000

317,434

1989

500,000

634,869

1990

500,000

634,869

1991

500,000

634,869

1992

500,000

634,869

1993

500,000

634,869

1994

500,000

634,869

1995

500,000

634,869

1996

550,000

698,355

1997

600,000

761,842

1998

613,000

778,349

1999

750,000

952,303

2000

1,015,000

1,288,784

2001

2,051,000

2,604,232

2002

2,708,000*

2003

2,723,000

2004

4,333,640

2005

4,858,194

7,059,746

2006

6,970,154

10,127,024

2007

7,845,355

11,484,346

2008

8,092,433

10,222,665

2009

7,393,084

8,459,319

2010

6,766,928

8,135,669

2011

6,877928

7,825,234

Total

82,533,459

*In 2002-2004 grants were approved in Euro. Since 2005 ESP grants are approved and paid out in local currency, in an effort to minimise the effect of exchange rate fluctuations.

Joanna Tuffy

Ceist:

3 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the position regarding the task force on Irish emigrants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14863/12]

The Report of the Task Force on Irish Emigrants, published in 2002, proposed a wide range of measures aimed at improving the support provided by the State to Irish emigrants, including pre-departure services, and enhancing the strategic engagement between Ireland and its Diaspora.

The Report led to the establishment of the Irish Abroad Unit within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 2004. This Unit has responsibility for developing Government policy towards Irish communities abroad and the wider Irish Diaspora and management of the annual Emigrant Support Programme (ESP) grant round. Since 2004, over €93m has been provided, through the Emigrant Support Programme, to Irish organisations in some 23 countries worldwide. The emphasis of the ESP is on supporting culturally sensitive front-line welfare services, targeted at the most vulnerable members of our overseas communities. These services have made a substantive difference to the lives of Irish communities overseas (particularly in Britain and the United States), reducing homelessness, tackling social isolation, and enabling Irish emigrants to access their local statutory entitlements.

The Irish Abroad Unit has also transformed the level of engagement between Ireland and business and cultural leaders within the Diaspora through the Global Irish Economic Forum and the establishment of the Global Irish Network. This is consistent with the findings of the Task Force on Irish Emigrants. I am pleased that despite the difficult financial situation we face, the Government has maintained funding under the ESP at a significant level (€11.6m) for 2012. The 2012 grant round closed on 29 February and applications for funding are currently being assessed.

Drug Enforcement

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

4 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Finance the amount of funding allocated to running the joint task force on drug interdiction; and if he will provide an update on their work. [14708/12]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the Joint Task Force established under the Memorandum of Understanding concerning the relationship between the Customs and Excise service of the Revenue Commissioners and the Garda Síochána with respect to Drugs Law Enforcement dated 2 January 1996, and approved by the ad-hoc group in May of 1996, is charged to operate as a partnership. The Joint Task Force arrangements are activated in response to specific operational developments and the Joint Task Force does not therefore exist as a separate permanent structure. The number of personnel allocated to the Joint Task Force from each agency will be determined by the circumstances and requirements of each particular operation.

There is no separate financial allocation to cover the costs of Joint Task Force operations. Such costs are borne by the respective agencies involved and are included in the general operational budgets of the agencies.

In 2011 Joint Task Force operations included fifty-six controlled deliveries which resulted in the seizure of drugs including 205 kilograms of cannabis, 109 kilograms of cocaine, and 7 kilograms of other drugs with an estimated street value in excess of €10 million. These operations also resulted in the arrest of thirty-eight persons in relation to drug trafficking offences. In addition ten intelligence based operations focusing on the smuggling of cannabis, cocaine and other drugs by various means including the maritime, road freight and aviation sectors were carried out.

Tax Collection

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

5 Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Finance the reason the estate of a deceased person (details supplied) in County Sligo has not been dealt with by the Revenue Commissioners despite this person’s being deceased for more than three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14710/12]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that their Sligo Revenue office received notification of the death of the person in question on 4th February 2011 from the solicitors acting on behalf of the estate. Pages 1 to 5 of form CA 24 were also enclosed. The office replied to this correspondence on 28 February 2011 asking for a copy of the Will and Grant of Probate as well as the outstanding pages (6 to 8) of form CA 24. These papers were received on 10th March 2011. Upon examination of the additional pages of form CA 24, a further query was sent to the Solicitors acting on behalf of the estate on 15th March 2011 and a reply was received on 28th April 2011.

Based on the information received, a letter issued on 12th May 2011 to the solicitors acting on behalf of the estate confirming that there was no outstanding pre-death income tax due. If the Deputy considers that there is some other issue outstanding, he should advise Revenue directly and the matter will be examined.

State Banking Sector

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

6 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide a table detailing the number of tracker mortgages currently held by each of the covered institutions and the percentage of these mortgages currently classed as non-performing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14755/12]

I have been informed by individual Institutions that they are unable to provide this information as they do not provide public disclosure on the numbers or arrears levels of specific products. Disclosures in relation to each of the covered institutions' mortgage books is provided in their published Annual statements.

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

7 Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance when he expects AIB to publish the three internal reports on the near collapse of the bank, the O’Connor report, the Promontory report and the Deloitte report; and in the event of the bank being unwilling to publish these reports, if he will give an undertaking to ensure that these three reports are published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14756/12]

AIB has informed me that the documents to which the Deputy refers were not formal investigations intended for publication, nor were they prepared employing the processes and procedures which would be employed had they been undertaken with a view to publication. They would also contain views and opinions which those expressing them would have reasonably and legitimately expected to be treated in confidence. Additionally, some were prepared for, and at the request of, the Central Bank, in the discharge of its supervisory functions and, as the Deputy will, no doubt be aware, stringent statutory obligations of confidentiality apply to the exercise of these functions, both in national and European law. Finally, they are, in the view of AIB, commercially sensitive and I understand that it is not AIB's intention to publish them.

Several detailed independent reviews of the banking crisis and its genesis are, of course, in the public domain e.g. the Honohan, Regling-Watson and Nyberg reports.

Banking Sector Regulation

Simon Harris

Ceist:

8 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Finance his plans to introduce measures to assist persons who acted in good faith in becoming guarantors for mortgages at the height of the boom and now find themselves being pursued by the financial institutions in question; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14767/12]

Simon Harris

Ceist:

9 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Finance if he will outline any rights mortgage guarantors might have in their dealings with financial institutions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14768/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 8 and 9 together.

There are measures in place to assist guarantors of mortgages. I have no plans to introduce additional measures.

The Central Bank has in place a Consumer Protection Code. The Code contains a number of provisions that are relevant to the guarantors of loans to private consumers. For example, provision 4.26 of the Code states that where credit is being offered to a personal consumer, subject to a guarantee, the guarantee documentation must outline the obligations of the guarantor and must contain the following warning statement:

"Warning: As a guarantor of this credit, you will have to pay off the debt amount, the interest and all associated charges up to the level of your guarantee if the borrower(s) do(es) not. Before you sign this guarantee you should get independent legal advice".

Provision 6.8 requires that "where a regulated entity has advanced credit to a personal consumer subject to a guarantee, the regulated entity must notify the guarantor on paper or on another durable medium, if the terms of the credit agreement change". Provision 8.6 requires that "where an account remains in arrears 31 calendar days after the arrears first arose, a regulated entity must, within three business days, inform the personal consumer and any guarantor of the loan, on paper or on another durable medium, of the status of the account". Provision 8.6 goes on to list information that has to be provided to the personal consumer and guarantor under this provision. A copy of the central Bank's Consumer Protection Code is available on the Central Bank's website www.centralbank.ie.

Departmental Staff

Pat Breen

Ceist:

10 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Finance the number of persons who retired from the Civil Service at the end of February 2012 from offices located in County Clare under his remit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14771/12]

I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a total of 7 staff who were based in their offices located in County Clare retired in February 2012 out of a total of 265.

The Revenue Commissioners are constantly reviewing their processes and procedures, including in County Clare, to ensure that they are delivering their services in the most efficient and effective manner. This is currently being done in the context of the recent retirements and the Government's decision on reducing public sector numbers that included reductions to Revenue's Employment Control Framework numbers for 2012.

Tax Code

Gerald Nash

Ceist:

11 Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Finance if he intends to undertake a review process and consultation exercise with regard to residency laws and taxation, in view of the poor tax take from the domicile levy; when such a process will conclude; the amount the State expects to raise from the levy in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14804/12]

As I stated in my recent Budget speech, I intend to keep the contentious issue of so-called "tax exiles" under constant review, and to that end a public consultation will be undertaken on possible changes to our tax residence rules to ensure such individuals make a fair contribution. Measures which will be considered will include possible changes to the day counting rules for residence, supplementing the day counting rules with other criteria, and examination of other related measures, including the Domicile Levy. There was much comment on Committee Stage of the Finance Bill about the small number of individuals who paid the Domicile Levy and the low yield from the tax. It should be noted that if an individual pays more than €200,000 in income tax in a particular year he or she will not be required to pay the levy, even if he or she meets the other conditions. So it is not necessarily the case that certain individuals whom one might expect to pay the levy are not otherwise making a significant tax contribution. An individual can also use any income tax paid in the tax year as a credit against his/her Domicile Levy liability.

The Domicile Levy is payable by an individual who is both an Irish citizen and Irish domiciled whose Irish assets exceed €5 million, whose worldwide income exceeds €1 million and whose liability to Irish income tax for the relevant year is less than €200,000. One reason the levy yield was relatively small is that the combination of the various conditions meant that very few people were obliged to pay it. My announcement in the Budget that the citizenship condition will be removed should have the effect of increasing the number of people who are eligible to pay the levy.

The small number of taxpayers means the levy yield is particularly vulnerable to volatility in the economy which would lead to changes in an individual's income and asset values. I therefore do not propose to project the yield from the levy in 2012. However, the removal of the citizenship condition will only apply from the 2012 tax year onwards. Since the levy for a particular year is payable on or before 31 October of the following year, the removal of the citizenship condition will only affect the Domicile Levy yield from 2013 onwards.

Bank Stress Tests

Shane Ross

Ceist:

12 Deputy Shane Ross asked the Minister for Finance if he will confirm, further to Parliamentary Question No. 123, that the EBA peer review team was aware of and approved all amendments to methodologies and changes to formulas applied by the Irish banks or the Central Bank of Ireland to the stress tests in 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14809/12]

I refer the Deputy to my replies to recent parliamentary questions (Nos. 122 of 22 November 2011, 42 to 44, inclusive, of 6 December 2011 and 166 of 21 February 2012), which address the query raised in his latest question. The position as regards this matter has not changed. I am advised by the Central Bank of Ireland (CBI) that it assisted the European Banking Authority (EBA) in carrying out a European-wide bank solvency stress test in July 2011. The test was applied to three Irish banks in accordance with a methodology that was pre-agreed with the EBA. As a result of the significant restructuring underway in the Irish banking system at the time, the methodology applied by the EBA to the Irish banks differed in some respects to that prescribed to the other European banks participating in the exercise. The differences in methodology were introduced to fully account for the Irish banks requirement to deleverage their balance sheets in the coming years and also to consider the detailed loan loss forecasts produced by BlackRock Solutions on behalf of the CBI earlier in 2011 as part of the Irish PCAR stress tests. By taking account of the negative impact of the asset disposals and the losses forecast by BlackRock, the Irish banks were subject to a much tougher stress test than other banks participating in the European stress test. In addition, Irish, Greek and Portuguese banks were issued with separate cost of funds instructions to account for the impact of the sovereign spreads and external support programmes.

In order to assure quality in the process and the outputs in the European stress test, the EBA assigned a team of independent peer reviewers to verify that methodologies were applied consistently and correctly. This team, which comprised of senior European stress testing experts, worked with the CBI to validate and verify the submissions made by the Irish banks. This iterative process resulted in many clarifications leading to instructions to each of the Irish banks. Once updated submissions were received from the banks, the CBI checked and subsequently forwarded them on to the EBA for further validation and review. The results/submissions made by the Irish Banks were not amended in any way before being forwarded on to the EBA peer review team.

I am further advised by the CBI, that one of their employees expressed a concern over the way in which the EBA stress testing procedure was applied in Ireland. In response, CBI management commissioned an investigation. This investigation was conducted by the CBI's Internal Audit Department under the CBI's ‘speak-up' policy. Based on the report of this investigation, which has been accepted by the employee, CBI Management are satisfied that, while the complaint was made in good faith, there is no reason for concern with the figures provided to the EBA.

Despite the additional conservatism applied to the Irish banks, all three Irish banks passed the European stress test. This is a direct result of applying a much tougher PCAR stress test earlier in 2011, as part of the Irish Financial Measures Programme, and requiring the banks to recapitalise based on the results of that stress test. The PCAR stress test was overseen by a series of independent observers, including the Troika, and was widely regarded by market participants as being credible and a benchmark on information disclosure that other supervisory authorities should follow.

Promissory Notes

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

13 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will confirm whether a restructuring of the IBRC promissory note would require approval from EU heads of Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14825/12]

As the Deputy will be aware, the Promissory Note arrangement is essentially an arrangement between the Government and IBRC. The Government has provided Promissory Notes to IBRC and undertaken to repay the principal and interest payments in accordance with a repayment schedule. However, the Promissory is accepted as collateral for the Exceptional/emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) by the Central bank of Ireland and as such there is an implicit link between the current repayment schedule on the Promissory Note and ELA provided by the Central Bank. Any discussions in relation to ELA would of necessity have to include the ECB. The EU Commission and the EU heads of Government are one step further removed from the initial arrangement between the Government and IBRC. However given our approach to addressing the heavy debt burden, involving the Troika in developing a technical solution or range of solutions and given that possible alternative sources of long-term funding may involve the EU Commission, it is not unreasonable to assume that any solution may require the approval or acquiescence of Member States whether formally at heads of Government level, or less formally through the structures of the European Commission. However, it is important to await the outcome of the technical review to properly assess what is required to get an appropriate solution in place. In the meantime the Government will avail of every opportunity to garner support for the work in hand and for a positive outcome for the country.

Credit Facilities

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

14 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he is concerned by the latest bank watch survey from the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association, ISME, which indicated that while demand for credit remains strong, a high level of refusal of credit is hampering the recovery of the economy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14826/12]

As the Deputy is aware, the Government has imposed lending targets on the two domestic pillar banks for the three calendar years 2011 to 2013. Both banks were required to sanction lending of at least €3 billion in 2011, €3.5 billion this year and €4 billion in 2013 for new or increased credit facilities to SMEs. I can confirm to the Deputy that both banks have achieved their 2011 targets. I should stress that the targets are for approvals of credit and have not been imposed for drawdowns. I would point out that the drawdown of funding is at the discretion of the borrower. There are many factors affecting whether or not funding is drawn down, such as changes in market conditions or company restructuring.

The recent Mazars Survey of SME Lending, conducted on behalf of my Department, found that, in the period April-September 2011, 36% of SMEs surveyed requested bank credit. Excluding pending applications, 70% of these applications were approved or partially approved.

The ISME Quarterly Bank Watch Survey, which was published earlier this week, has a base of 904 respondents but the means of conducting the survey is not explained. It is understood that the survey is internet based, which has obvious difficulties with self-selection of people who have specific complaints, leading to potential bias in the survey. As I mentioned previously, the lending targets for the pillar banks are for loan approvals not drawdowns. ISMEs own figures show that only 66% of firms who were approved for credit have drawn it down either in full or in part. The most frequent reasons cited in the Mazars survey for not availing of approved credit continues to be "not needed at present time", which was cited by 80% of respondents.

I would urge people with viable propositions who are refused credit to go to the CRO and not to let anything discourage them from doing so. The CRO overturns 50% of bank refusals and provides a user-friendly service to borrowers.

Tax Code

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

15 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he will be making a formal submission in response to the letter from nine EU member states seeking the introduction of a financial transactions tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14827/12]

The letter signed by the Finance Ministers of nine EU Member States (Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain) supported the introduction of a Financial Transactions Tax (FTT) and asked the current Danish Presidency of the EU to accelerate discussions on the current draft proposal from the EU Commission. I will not be making a formal submission in response to this letter but I have indicated that I do not favour accelerating the discussions, as Ireland believes the proposal should be given the fullest possible consideration.

The current draft proposal is still being examined at EU Council Working Party level and was discussed at ECOFIN this week. I have made clear in the past my view that, if an FTT cannot be introduced on a global basis, it would be better if it were introduced on an EU-wide basis to prevent any distortion of activity within the Union.

State Banking Sector

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

16 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the projected cost of the redundancy scheme at AIB; the expected payroll saving; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14828/12]

The Deputy will be aware that AIB, as part of its announcement of 8th March 2012 of a voluntary severance programme, stated "as required under the bank's partnership principles with IBOA, a consultation process will begin immediately with trade union representatives." It went on to state that "AIB will not be making any further public comment until the consultation process with staff representatives is concluded." Accordingly, the Deputy will appreciate that it would not be appropriate for me to comment on the issues raised by him in his question.

Financial Products

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

17 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if he expects an improvement in the funding position of covered banks arising from the warehousing of tracker mortgages, resulting in a reduction in the standard variable rate chargeable by such institutions for residential mortgages. [14829/12]

As the Deputy is aware the Government is committed to reviewing the approach to the Promissory notes with a view to reducing the overall cost to the State. The troika have agreed to engage in a process with Irish Officials to produce a common paper which will consider all options for restructuring the notes in terms of the source of funding, the duration of the notes, the interest rate etc.

As part of the discussions with the troika there has been some consideration of looking at not just enhancing the State's debt sustainability but also looking at enhancements to the banking system which could, further down the line, increase the value of the State's shareholding in those banks. At this point in time there are a number of issues under consideration but it is far too early in proceedings to talk about specific outcomes.

Tracker mortgages tend to earn low margins for the banks so removal of them from their balance sheets if this were to occur, would likely improve the profitability of those institutions, putting them on a more sustainable footing.

European Stability Mechanism

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

18 Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the current position in regard to plans to increase the size of the European Stability Mechanism; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14830/12]

The ESM Treaty was signed by Euro Area Member States on 2 February 2012. The original version of the Treaty was signed on 11 July 2011, but it has been modified to incorporate decisions taken by the Heads of State or Government (HoSG) of the Euro Area on 21 July and 9 December 2011, aimed at improving the effectiveness of the mechanism.

The Treaty will have to be ratified by the 17 Euro Area member states; it will enter into force and the ESM will become operational as soon as possible: the target date is July 2012, a year earlier than originally planned. As a permanent mechanism, the ESM will take over the tasks currently fulfilled by the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism (EFSM).

The subscribed capital of the ESM is €700 billion (€80 billion as paid in capital, the rest as callable), and its initial maximum lending capacity is set at €500 billion.

As decided on 9th December 2011, the HoSG will reassess the adequacy of resources under the ESM and the EFSF this month. At the HoSG meeting on 2 March, Member States confirmed their commitment to re-assess the adequacy of the overall ceiling of the EFSF/ESM by the end of the month.

School Accommodation

Simon Harris

Ceist:

19 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount of funding he has provided to a school (details supplied) in respect of renting land and prefabs at its current location; his plans to provide permanent facilities to the school, which is currently located at an unsuitable site in temporary accommodation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14669/12]

Simon Harris

Ceist:

20 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will examine the possibility of asking a vocational education committee organisation to make available current surplus premises to a school (details supplied) which is housed in temporary accommodation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14670/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 19 and 20 together.

I can confirm to the Deputy that my Department is currently providing grant of approximately €107,000 annually towards the rental of temporary accommodation for the school to which he refers. My Department owns the site on which the accommodation is located so the question of land rental does not arise.

The Deputy will be aware that on Monday last, I announced details of 219 new major school building projects where construction is expected to commence over the next five years as part of a €2 billion capital investment programme. I am pleased to advise that a project to provide permanent accommodation for the school in question was included in this announcement.

Schools Building Projects

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

21 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will sanction the extension of facilities at a secondary school (details supplied) in County Mayo under the devolved grant scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14671/12]

I can confirm that the school to which the Deputy refers has applied to my Department for large scale capital funding. In accordance with the published criteria for large scale building projects, the project has been assigned a Band 2.4 rating. Information in respect of the current school building programme along with all assessed applications for major capital works, including this project, is available on the Department's website at www.education.ie.

In view of the need to ensure that every child has access to a school place, the delivery of major school projects required to meet demographic demand will be the main focus for capital investment in the coming years. It is not possible, therefore, to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of the project at this time.

School Staffing

Seán Crowe

Ceist:

22 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will list the primary and post-primary schools on a county basis that are likely to lose three or more teaching posts from their current rota when the new school year commences in September 2012. [14678/12]

Teacher allocations are approved annually in accordance with established rules based on recognised pupil enrolment.My Department has published the staffing arrangements at primary and post primary level for the coming school year, 2012/13. The relevant circulars, Primary 0007/2012 and Post Primary 0009/2012 are available on my Department's website.

At post primary level and in accordance with existing arrangements, where a school management authority is unable to meet its curricular commitments within its approved allocation, my Department considers applications for additional short term support i.e., curricular concessions.

The allocation processes at both primary and post primary level also include an appeals mechanism under which schools can appeal against the allocation due to them under the staffing schedules. The appeal procedures are set out in the circulars referred to above.

For the coming school year the existing staffing appeals criteria have been extended to enable some limited phasing arrangements for schools where the combination of budget and reform measures impact on a particularly adverse manner on a school's overall allocation.

The Appeal Boards operate independently of the Department and their decisions are final. The final staffing position for all schools at primary and post primary level will ultimately not be known until the Autumn. At that stage the allocation process will be fully completed and any appeals to the Staffing Appeal Boards will have been considered.

Seán Crowe

Ceist:

23 Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Education and Skills, with regard to the Breaking the Cycle scheme and the decision to increase the pupil-teacher ratio from 15:1 to 18:1, the reason information published on his Department’s website refers to a pupil-teacher ratio of 20:1. [14679/12]

The new staffing schedules for DEIS Band 1 schools provides for 20:1 in junior schools, 22:1 in vertical schools (schools with junior and senior classes) and 24:1 in senior schools. The staffing schedule for DEIS Band 1 schools in Appendix A of the Staffing Circular 0007/2012 has been applied to each Band 1 school.

In addition, posts from previous disadvantage schemes in Band 1 and Band 2 DEIS schools, which the Government agreed to retain, have been allocated to the schools involved to ensure that each school continues to implement the appropriate favourable pupil teacher ratios from previous disadvantage schemes while not exceeding this entitled for the 2012/2013 school year.

All schools concerned have now been notified of their teaching staff entitlement for the 2012/13 school year.

Schools Building Projects

Dominic Hannigan

Ceist:

24 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the grants a primary school may apply for this year to do work such as insulating the school, obtaining a new front door, window and infrastructure repair, improvement of playground equipment, and building a new school extension; if there are any e-mail lists or websites that a member of the board of management of a school can register with to receive more information on an ongoing basis or to find out when new funding streams become available; his plans for small works grants in schools for the years 2012, 2013 and 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14681/12]

The Deputy will be aware that a Minor Works Grant issued to primary schools last November for the school year 2011/2012 at a cost of €28m. It is open to schools to prioritise the use of these funds to address issues such as those to which the Deputy refers.

The Deputy is also aware that total enrolment in both primary and post-primary schools is expected to grow by almost 70,000 between now and 2018 (over 45,000 at primary level and 25,000 at post primary) and will continue to grow up to at least 2024 at post-primary level.

In this regard, earlier this week I announced details of 219 new major school building projects which will begin over the next five years as part of a €2 billion capital investment programme. These new projects are in addition to 56 major school building projects that I already announced to go on site in 2012.

The priority now is to focus on major school projects and smaller projects devolved to schools to meet the demographic demands. The primary aim will be to ensure that every child will have access to a school place.

In the context of the financial constraints imposed by the need to prioritise available funding for the provision of essential school accommodation, it is not possible for me to advance with a summer works programme this year. It is not envisaged that a Minor Works Grant to primary schools will be issued in 2012 for the school year 2012/2013.

Details relating to the school building programme and developments relating to this may be viewed on the Department's website www.education.ie which is updated regularly.

Michael Creed

Ceist:

25 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has received an application from a school (details supplied) in County Cork for a devolved grant for additional classroom accommodation; if, in view of increasing enrolment, with sufficient numbers to secure employment of a fourth teacher, access issues for a child with special needs, and the willingness of the board of management and the patron to contribute significantly to the cost of additional classroom accommodation, he will sanction a devolved grant application in order that works may begin immediately on this project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14684/12]

The school referred to by the Deputy recently submitted a request for additional accommodation. This application is currently under consideration and a decision will be communicated to the school authorities when this process has been considered.

Michael Creed

Ceist:

26 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Education and Skills if, in view of the requirement to comply with building regulations and the additional costs incurred as a result, he will review the financial allocation to a school (details supplied) in County Cork in respect of the provision of additional classroom accommodation and the shortfall in funding to the board of management arising from this project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14686/12]

The school referred to by the Deputy was allocated devolved funding for the provision of a mainstream classroom and a resource room under my Department's Additional Accommodation Scheme in 2010.

In September 2011, the school sought additional funding for ground works and to build an office/staff room, staff toilet and a disabled access toilet. The additional funding for ground works was approved, however funding for the office/staff room, staff toilet and special needs toilet was refused as the scope of works had been increased above what had been approved by my Department. All additional costs associated with the increase in the scope of works must be funded by the school authority.

I am sure the Deputy will appreciate that there are many competing demands on my Department's capital resources and in this context it must prioritise applications for the provision of much needed additional classroom accommodation.

School Transport

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

27 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a breakdown of those schools in County Donegal which were the designated school for children under the closed school rule but which may now be affected by the proposed school transport changes restricting transport to those students travelling to their nearest school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14704/12]

Bus Éireann has advised that there are over 110 schools availing of transport under the closed school rule in County Donegal, of which some 50 schools have children who may be affected. The list of these schools is below. The cohort of eligible CSR children attending these schools will continue to be eligible for transport, subject to meeting the distance criteria and that there is no change in their circumstances. The cessation of eligibility under that rule applies only in the case of children commencing their primary education from September 2012. It should be noted that the decision to implement this change was announced by the previous Fianna Fáil-Green Party Government in the Budget announced in December 2010.

CSR SCHOOLS — SAMPLE.

County

School

Roll No.

Donegal

Lr Illies NS

01574H

Lettermacaward NS

15847T

Malin NS

14631O

Bridgend NS

19359D

Glenswilly NS

19313C

Raphoe Central NS

161383

Rathmullan NS

15729N

Dooish NS

19333I

Kilclooney new NS

19756N

Culdaff NS

19614Q

Dunkineely NS

18421A

Creevy NS

17268N

Gleneely NS (Killygordon)

18172F

Dristernan NS

18517N

Acres NS

18286U

Lurgybrack NS

16672P

Killygordon NS CofI

18874O

Annagry NS

19343L

Mountcharles NS

18129E

Teevog NS

17533M

Devlinreagh NS (all Irish)

18766L

Luinneach NS

17503U

Killymard NS

17260U

Drung NS

19959E

Welchtown NS Cof I

18703K

Kinlough NS

20079E

Convoy NS

18737E

Kilcar NS

19685Q

Kilbarron NS

10595Q

Barnesmore NS

09660R

Brackey NS

16869L

Muff NS

19280N

Dungloe NS

19553W

Carrigart NS

19251I

Ray NS CofI

14941G

Dromore NS

16349I

Keelogs NS

15770K

St Johnston NS

19518U

Convoy CofI NS

5230

Gortahork NS

16819T

Dore NS

17018N

Creeslough NS St Marys

18371L

Ballintra CofI NS

13872I

Greencastle NS

18791K

Cashel NS Glencolmcille

18652T

Cockhill NS

16789N

Moville NS

20054L

Buncrana NS

19967D

Carrowcannon NS

17704H

Castlefinn NS

14910S

Ballyraine NS

19411C

Schools Refurbishment

Michael Creed

Ceist:

28 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason his Department is insisting under the recently announced replacement of prefabs programme that all new structures must be independent of the existing school campus; if his attention has been drawn to the additional costs this will impose in terms of heating, plumbing and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14717/12]

The reasoning behind my Department insisting that the new permanent structures replacing rented prefabs must be independent of the existing school campus is to ensure that the maximum number of schools benefit from this initiative. While there may be, in some cases, limited potential costs related to the provision of services, my Department's Planning and Building Unit is satisfied that the level of funding being provided to individual schools is sufficient to meet the costs of replacing prefabricated structures with permanent buildings on a stand-alone basis.

Schools Building Projects

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

29 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills when he expects a decision to be made in respect of an application by a primary school (details supplied) in County Sligo for additional funding under the special buildings programme; if he will expedite the decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14721/12]

The school referred to by the Deputy was allocated devolved funding for the provision of a mainstream classroom under my Department's Additional Accommodation Scheme 2011.

In February 2012 the school sought additional funding as a result of planning conditions associated with the building project. My Department's Planning and Building Unit is currently assessing this application and has requested further information from the school authorities. When this information is received a final decision will be communicated to the Board of Management.

School Staffing

Joan Collins

Ceist:

30 Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will confirm that the present figure of 27.11 teachers at a DEIS band 1 school (details supplied) will remain in place. [14722/12]

While difficult choices had to be made to identify savings across my Department's budget, the Government has tried to protect front line services in 2012. The Government has protected the pupil-teacher ratio at primary level, prioritised targeted support for the most disadvantaged schools and maintained the overall number of resource teachers and SNAs to support children with special needs. Budget 2012 provided that all 195 second-level schools in DEIS will be given targeted support by a more favourable staffing schedule of 18.25:1. This is a 0.75 point reduction compared to the existing PTR of 19:1 that applies in non fee-paying second-level schools. The Deputy will be aware however that I have already indicated to the House that the proposed withdrawal of DEIS posts from DEIS second level schools will proceed.

At post primary level and in accordance with existing arrangements, where a school management authority is unable to meet its curricular commitments within its approved allocation, my Department considers applications for additional short term support, i.e., curricular concessions.

The allocation processes also include an appeals mechanism under which schools can appeal against the allocation due to them under the staffing schedules. The appeals criteria have been extended to enable some limited phasing arrangements for schools where the combination of budget and reform measures impact on a particularly adverse manner on a school's overall allocation. Details of the appeal process are set out in Circular 0009/2012 which is available on my Department's website. The Appeal Board operate independently of the Department and its decisions are final. The final staffing position for all schools will ultimately not be known until the Autumn. At that stage the allocation process will be fully completed and any appeals to the Staffing Appeal Boards will have been considered.

Schools Amalgamation

Joe Carey

Ceist:

31 Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress made to date in relation to a school (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14733/12]

As the Deputy may be aware the three post primary schools in the area that he refers to have agreed to amalgamate to form a new Community School. The amalgamation can proceed when a new school building has been provided. In this regard, a site is being progressed by my Department and when the site is secured the building project will be considered for progression. In view of the need to ensure that every child has access to a school place, the delivery of major school projects to meet the demographic demands nationally will be the main focus for capital investment in schools in the coming years. It is not possible, therefore, to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of the project at this time.

School Staffing

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

Ceist:

32 Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of DEIS secondary schools in the State that were not in a position to offer higher level maths and higher level Irish courses in 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14741/12]

Teacher allocations to all second level schools are approved annually by my Department in accordance with established rules based on recognised pupil enrolment. In accordance with these rules each school is required to organise its subject options and, from September 2012 the provision of guidance, from within the limit of its approved teacher allocation. My Department provides some short-term support through the annual curricular concessions process for those schools that have particular short-term difficulties managing their subject provision. As part of the budgetary decisions the Department sheltered DEIS post-primary schools by reducing the pupil teacher ratio to 18.25:1. This is a 0.75 point reduction compared to the existing PTR of 19:1 that applies in non fee-paying second-level schools. Matters in relation to the deployment of teaching staff and the range of subjects offered are dealt with at local school level rather than centrally by my Department. My Department does not therefore have the specific information readily available that is sought by the Deputy.

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

33 Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will review a matter in respect of a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14754/12]

Patrick Nulty

Ceist:

39 Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason there is no dedicated resource teacher allocated, located, and based in one of the three Dublin 15 DEIS band 1 schools (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14787/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 33 and 39 together.

The staffing arrangements for the 2012/13 school year are set out in Primary Circular 0007/2012, which is available on my Department's website. This includes the detail of the reform of the allocation process which is designed to bring a more equitable distribution of existing posts between schools. The new arrangements incorporate a long overdue updating of the GAM (learning support) allocation for all schools. This inevitably involves changes to existing clustering arrangements whereby a teacher is shared between schools. A further change is that schools in any locality are being empowered to cluster and arrange their GAM resources in a manner that best suits their local needs. This should be completed by schools by 16 March.

As part of the reforms to the teacher allocation process existing posts are being used to put in place a network of over 2,500 full-time resource posts in close to 1,700 base schools throughout the country. These posts will be allocated on a permanent basis and the teachers in them will undertake NCSE approved (low incidence) resource hours in the base schools or in neighbouring schools. This approach builds on the interim arrangements that operated in 2011 but in a more structured and transparent manner.

While individual schools may have their own particular preferences the Department has to look at it from a national perspective. The overall objective with these reforms is to enable the teacher allocation and redeployment process to operate more smoothly and efficiently within the new climate of fixed ceilings on teaching posts. The changes are designed to give a more equitable distribution of existing posts between schools, give earlier certainty to schools about their staffing allocations and, where possible, simplify and streamline existing processes and give greater autonomy to schools.

It also has to be borne in mind that the previous clustering arrangements included inherent inefficiencies whereby schools could retain full-time posts on less than 25 hours (some on as low as 19 hours). The new GAM arrangements operate in 5-hour blocks to facilitate, as appropriate, the day to day operation of GAM support between schools and also ensure that full-time GAM posts are fully utilised (25 hours in each post). The Department will also be requiring any surplus capacity in full-time resource posts to be fully utilised before it approves part-time resource posts for neighbouring schools. My Department will be working with schools and the relevant education partners to ensure that the new arrangements operate as efficiently as possible. As the process proceeds this work can take account of any appropriate local arrangements that might be made to further optimise travel arrangements.

Schools Building Projects

Seán Kyne

Ceist:

34 Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will indicate the process followed and the conditions which had to be satisfied in the selection of the locations of new schools and those schools to receive new extensions under the recently announced five year school building plan. [14759/12]

As the Deputy is aware, total school enrolments are expected to grow by around 70,000 students between now and 2018 — by over 45,000 at primary level and 25,000 at post primary. Second level enrolment is expected to continue to rise until at least 2024. Recent birth rate data, published by the CSO shows there were nearly 20,000 births registered in the first quarter of 2011. This is the highest number of births registered in a quarter since the series began in 1960. It is vital that the schooling system is prepared to cope with these increasing numbers. Therefore, the Government's priority is now to focus on major school projects to meet these demographic demands.

The Five Year Plan prioritises new school building projects as well as major extensions in areas where a demographic need has been established. School building projects currently in architectural planning were considered in the context of that programme, taking into account the funding available, the availability of sites in the case of new schools and the progression of other major projects required to meet demographic needs. In that regard, the scheduling of selected projects depends also on when such projects are technically ready to proceed to tender and construction.

In view of the need to ensure that every child has access to a school place, the delivery of major school projects to meet the demographic demands nationally will be the main focus for capital investment in schools in the coming years. The five year programme is focused on meeting those demographic needs.

Higher Education Grants

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

35 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a decision has been made on an appeal in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14762/12]

An appeal from the first named person in respect of whom details were supplied by the Deputy is due for consideration at the next sitting of the Student Grants Appeals Board which is scheduled for the 21st March 2012. My Department issued a decision on an appeal from the second named person in respect of whom details were supplied by the Deputy on the 2nd December 2011.

Special Educational Needs

Dominic Hannigan

Ceist:

36 Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to provide examination support for children who developed narcolepsy after receiving the swine flu vaccine; if he has spoken with the Department of Health regarding their needs during their examinations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14765/12]

I wish to advise the Deputy that officials from my Department, along with officials from the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive (HSE), recently met with representatives of parents of children with narcolepsy to consider the educational supports which may be provided for such children and the criteria for accessing such supports, based on the assessed individual needs of children.

The range of supports which may be provided for children who are suffering from serious medical conditions such as Narcolepsy, based on assessment, include:

Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support, for children who have a medical condition such that they require access to care support in order to be able to attend school;

Home Tuition support which can provide a compensatory educational service to children who have had major disruption to their attendance at school due their medical condition;

Additional Learning Support/Resource Teaching assistance in school;

Assistive Technology support if required;

Special arrangements for State Examinations.

HSE assessments are currently being arranged for the identified children, with assessments being prioritised for children who are due to take state examinations this year. This process is currently underway. The educational supports that may be required can then be considered on the basis of the assessed needs of the children. Officials from my Department are also due to meet with officials from the Department of Health regarding this matter in the near future.

Departmental Schemes

Eamonn Maloney

Ceist:

37 Deputy Eamonn Maloney asked the Minister for Education and Skills the cost of the school book grant scheme for each of the years 2010 and 2011 for the primary national schools and post-primary schools. [14766/12]

The table outlines payments requested by the Deputy, regarding book grants and programme grants in respect of 2010 and 2011.

2010

2011

Primary

Book Grant

€6,870,617

€6,915,374

Deis

€2,251,788

€2,235,765

Non-DEIS

€4,618,829

€4,679,609

Total

€6,870,617

€6,915,374

Post Primary

Book Grant

€7,811,187

€7,968,084

Deis

€2,427,165

€2,503,428

Non-DEIS

€5,383,632

€5,464,656

Leaving Cert Applied

€1,085,493

€1,017,868

Junior Cert Schools Programme

€232,155

€244,363

Transition Year

€2,429,300

€2,510,850

Physics and Chemistry

€472,966

€346,008

Total

€12,030,711

€12,087,173

School Curriculum

Joan Collins

Ceist:

38 Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will review the Irish curriculum in secondary schools and any other subjects that demand a change in books every year. [14770/12]

Syllabus planners in all subjects, including Irish are already very conscious of the need to avoid over-frequent changes to textbooks. Their aim is to minimise the cost burden for parents. School authorities have been advised that books should be changed only to the extent that is absolutely necessary. My Department has consistently encouraged schools to put in place book rental schemes as the most effective means of lowering costs for all parents.

Question No. 39 answered with Question No. 33.

School Staffing

Patrick Nulty

Ceist:

40 Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a school (details supplied) in Dublin 15 with a language support teacher in line with its appeal against the decision to cut this teacher provision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14788/12]

Patrick Nulty

Ceist:

41 Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a school (details supplied) has not been allocated an additional language support teacher despite 40% of student population of the school requiring such support; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14789/12]

Patrick Nulty

Ceist:

42 Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a school (details supplied) in Dublin 15 has not been allocated an additional language support teacher despite a very large percentage of the student population of the school requiring such support. [14790/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 40 to 42, inclusive, together.

From September 2012 the combined resources available for GAM (General Allocation Model) and language support are being merged into a single simplified allocation process. The need to reform the allocation of the GAM arose because the existing system operated on the basis of 2003 enrolments which are long out of date and had been criticised by the Ombudsman for Children. Schools will have autonomy on how to deploy the resource between language support and learning support depending on their specific needs.

The new arrangements also provide for over 370 additional permanent teaching posts to be given to schools with high concentration of pupils that require language support. These arrangements are set out in the Department Circular 0007/2012 which is available on my Department's website. Some of the schools referred to by the Deputy have been allocated some of these posts which reflects the fact that they have high concentrations of pupils that require language support. The full list of all the relevant schools are included as part of the Department Circular 0007/2012.

Further additional temporary language support will also be provided including if necessary to the schools referred to by the Deputy. The mechanism for this is through appeals to the Staffing Appeals Board by any schools that will have high concentrations of pupils that require language support in the 2012/13 school. The closing date for submission of appeals for the April meeting of the Staffing Appeal Board is 23 March, 2012. The Appeal Board operates independently of the Department and its decision is final.

School Curriculum

Gerald Nash

Ceist:

43 Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he is giving consideration to making science compulsory at leaving certificate level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14803/12]

My Department is fully committed to strengthening the quality of science teaching and learning, promoting increased scientific literacy and encouraging more students, both girls and boys, to choose science subjects. I am encouraged by the significant increase in the number of students applying to the CAO for science courses this year.

An important element of the Strategy for Science Technology and Innovation 2006-2013 is to increase the proportions of students studying the physical sciences in senior cycle. Revised draft syllabuses in Physics, Chemistry and Biology have been developed by the NCCA which provide a strong focus on practical investigative approaches and practical assessment, as a follow on from the changes introduced at junior cycle in 2003.

The recent consultation on these syllabi by the NCCA has just concluded. The Department is awaiting the NCCA's proposals on Leaving Certificate Science Syllabuses.

Overall, I am in favour of leaving the decisions on what is offered at the discretion of the school, and of students having a range of options to choose from. Good and enthusiastic science teachers have the opportunity to inspire a real interest in their subject and so ensure that pupils will want to choose to study their science subject in senior cycle.

Schools Building Projects

Seán Kyne

Ceist:

44 Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a primary school (details supplied) in Galway, currently dependent on eight prefabs to cater for more than half of its 450 pupils in Galway city, has been omitted from the five-year schools building plan as announced this week. [14819/12]

In view of the need to ensure that every child has access to a school place, the delivery of major school projects to meet the demographic demands nationally will be the main focus for capital investment in schools in the coming years. The five year programme announced earlier this week is focused on meeting those demographic needs. In that context, it was not possible to advance all applications for capital funding concurrently.

The building project for Gaelscoil Mhic Amhlaigh is currently at an advanced stage of architectural planning and the Stage 2(b) submission (Detailed Design) was approved by the Departments Planning and Building Unit on 10th January 2012. However, in light of current competing demands on the Department's capital budget, it is not possible to progress this project to tender and construction at this time.

Seán Kyne

Ceist:

45 Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason the only secondary school teaching through the medium of English and serving communities in a large geographical area (details supplied), in view of the immense efforts expended by the local community in the design and planning stages, has been omitted from the five-year schools building plan. [14820/12]

The major building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is at an advanced stage of architectural planning. The Design Team are currently working on finalising the Stage 2(b) Submission (Detailed Design and Tender Documents) which will then be forwarded to my Department for review.

In view of the need to ensure that every child has access to a school place, the delivery of major school projects to meet the demographic demands nationally will be the main focus for capital investment in schools in the coming years. The five year programme announced earlier this week is focused on meeting those demographic needs. In that context, it was not possible to advance all applications for capital funding concurrently.

In light of current competing demands on the Department's capital budget, it is not possible at this time to give an indicative timeframe for the progression to tender and construction of the project.

Special Educational Needs

Pat Breen

Ceist:

46 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14824/12]

I wish to advise the Deputy that Special Schools funded by my Department are intended to cater for children and young persons with special educational needs from 4 years until the end of the school year in which they reach their 18th year.

At that point, the Department of Health/Health Service Executive assumes direct responsibility for young adults with special educational needs who are over 18 years. My Department, at that stage, may allocate resources towards an education component of such provision.

However, my Department will consider requests from schools who wish to retain students who are over 18 years of age, for one extra school year, in circumstances where they are following courses leading to accreditation at level FETAC 3 or above. My Department will be writing to all Special Schools shortly to advise them that applications received from schools in respect of individual pupils will be considered in the context of my Departments policy in this regard, as set out above.

Dan Neville

Ceist:

47 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will review a matter in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick. [14832/12]

I wish to advise the Deputy that Special Schools funded by my Department are intended to cater for children and young persons with special educational needs from 4 years until the end of the school year in which they reach their 18th year.

At that point, the Department of Health/Health Service Executive assumes direct responsibility for young adults with special educational needs who are over 18 years. My Department, at that stage, may allocate resources towards an education component of such provision.

However, my Department will consider requests from schools who wish to retain students who are over 18 years of age, for one extra school year, in circumstances where they are following courses leading to accreditation at level FETAC 3 or above.

My Department will be writing to all Special Schools shortly to advise them that applications received from schools in respect of individual pupils will be considered in the context of my Departments policy in this regard, as set out above.

School Staffing

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

48 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills the schools affected by his decision to remove 16 rural legacy posts as and from 31 August 2012; the reason these 16 rural legacy posts are not being saved in the same manner that the urban legacy posts are; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14835/12]

Last January I asked my officials to examine the net impact, in terms of posts, that certain Budget measures would have on DEIS Band 1 and Band 2 primary schools. The main focus of this examination concerned additional posts allocated under disadvantage schemes predating DEIS. The outcome of this report was published last month and is available on my Department's website.

There are 328 DEIS Rural primary schools. This category of educational disadvantage has always differed to Band 1 and Band 2 and so was not within the scope of the review I had asked my officials to consider. DEIS Rural Primary schools have never been allocated preferential pupil teacher ratios as their rural location tends to ensure they have lower class sizes.

Arising from the decisions taken following the review, of the 328 DEIS Rural primary schools, 16 of these schools with legacy posts will lose one teaching post each.

Rural DAS Posts

Roll No.

DEIS BAND

School

Address

County

Disadvantaged Concessionary Posts over quota 2011/2012No. of Posts

17127S

Rural

St Joseph’s NS

Hacketstown

Carlow

1

14631O

Rural

Scoil Cholmcille

Malin, Lifford

Donegal

1

17828C

Rural

Scoil Adhamhnain

Rathbhoth, Leithbhearr

Donegal

1

18652T

Rural

S N An Chaiseal

Gleann Cholmcille

Donegal

1

18766L

Rural

Scoil Cholmcille

Dubhlin Riabach, Carraig Airt

Donegal

1

19518U

Rural

S N Naomh Baoithin

St Johnston, Lifford

Donegal

1

19685Q

Rural

Scoil Chartha Naofa

Chill Chartha

Donegal

1

19912B

Rural

Scoil Mhuire

Glenties

Donegal

1

19932H

Rural

SN Mhic Dara

An Ceathru Rua

Galway

1

19973V

Rural

Scoil Mhuire

Clifden

Galway

1

18449W

Rural

St Conleths N S

Derrinturn, Carbury

Kildare

1

12373I

Rural

S N Eachleime

Beal An Atha

Mayo

1

12569C

Rural

S N Ros Dumhach

Beal Atha An Fheadha

Mayo

1

00984V

Rural

Glenealy 1 N S

Glenealy

Wicklow

1

16874E

Rural

S N Naomh Iosef G

Rathnew

Wicklow

1

18962L

Rural

St Ernans B N S

Rathnew

Wicklow

1

EU Directives

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

49 Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, under Article 19, the social pillar of public procurement EU directive, the percentage and monetary value of public procurement activity being channelled through directive 19 which would be of advantage to people with disabilities; the frequency with which directive 19 has been employed in Ireland; and how aware employers are about directive 19. [14815/12]

The Department of Health has responsibility for policy in relation to rehabilitative training and sheltered work. Responsibility for the delivery of these services rests with the Health Service Executive (HSE). Rehabilitative training and sheltered work is provided largely in accredited training centres that are run by the HSE or by service providers contracted by the HSE and designated sheltered workshops. Rehabilitative training focuses on the development of an individual's life skills, social skills and basic work skills with the objective of enhancing the trainee's quality of life and general work capacity.

The award of public contracts is governed by EU Treaty principles and Directives on public procurement. Article 19 of the EU Directive 2004/18 allows contracting authorities to reserve certain contracts for specific sheltered workshops where most of the employees concerned are people with disabilities that would prevent them from carrying on an occupation under normal conditions. Specifying such conditions is a matter for the contracting authority concerned, having regard to the foregoing considerations. Details of individual contracts or indeed sub-contracts are not held centrally.

In relation to developing awareness of this Article, the National Procurement Service, offer training and support to buyers and suppliers in order to raise awareness of public procurement opportunities for sheltered workshops.

Property Valuations

Dan Neville

Ceist:

50 Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will expedite a valuation (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14834/12]

I am informed by the Valuation Office that an application was received from the Social Welfare Inspector at Newcastle West, Co. Limerick on 10th February, 2012 for the capital value of a property in Newcastlewest (details supplied), the subject of the question.

On inquiry about progress in this case, I have been informed that the request will be expedited and assigned to a Valuer with a view to providing the required valuation which will be reported to the Department of Social Protection without delay.

Island Projects

Arthur Spring

Ceist:

51 Deputy Arthur Spring asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the amount that has been spent by the Office of Public Works on projects on Fenit Island, County Kerry, since 1960; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14763/12]

The Office of Public Works, under its Minor Works and Coastal Protection Scheme, approved funding to Kerry County Council of €360,000 in 2009 and €405,000 in 2010 for rock revetment works to protect the R558 Coast Road directly east of Fenit Harbour. The OPW has not funded any works under the scheme at Fenit Island.

Departmental Staff

Pat Breen

Ceist:

52 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of persons who retired from the Civil Service at the end of February 2012 from offices located in County Clare under his remit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14772/12]

There were no retirements at the end of February 2012 from offices located in County Clare under the remit of my Department.

Sale of State Assets

Dara Murphy

Ceist:

53 Deputy Dara Murphy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, with respect to sale of State assets, the process being taken to establish potential buyers; if a database is being established to identify the bona fides and access to capital of firms or individuals; if the State is endeavouring to get the maximum value of these assets in view of the current market conditions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14779/12]

As I have already told the House on a number of occasions, the sale of State assets under the Governments programme announced last month will be transacted via an open, transparent and competitive process, in order to ensure that the State achieves value for any assets being sold. In that context, the credentials of any potential purchasers will, of course, be established and verified in the course of any competitive tendering process.

There remains a considerable amount of preparatory work to be completed over the remainder of 2012, before the Government will be in a position to initiate a sales transaction. I have already indicated that the Government would not envisage transactions commencing until 2013. However, in the meantime, we have already seen considerable interest being expressed in our asset disposal programme from a wide range of potential investors. I can again assure the Deputy that great care will be taken at all times to ensure any disposals are in the national interest and represent value for the Exchequer.

Information Technology

John Lyons

Ceist:

54 Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, further to Parliamentary Question No. 228 of 6 March 2012, if he supported cloud computing directly prior to the Action Plan for Jobs 2012. [14729/12]

The Programme for Government contains a commitment to make Ireland a leader in the emerging IT market of Cloud Computing by promoting greater use of Cloud Computing in the public sector; organising existing State supports for Cloud Computing into a package to promote Ireland as a progressive place for IT investment; and, establishing an expert group to:- address privacy and security issues arising from the use of cloud computing, review the adequacy of current legislation, and, identify what steps need to be taken to ensure a supportive regulatory environment for Cloud Computing.

In accordance with this commitment, I announced the establishment of a cross Government Implementation Group on Cloud Computing in June 2011. The Group is chaired by the Secretary General of my Department and comprises representatives of Departments and Agencies responsible for aspects of Cloud Computing policy including expenditure, IT Procurement, security, infrastructure and enterprise strategy. The Group has met on three occasions to date and is currently in the process of finalising its report for submission to me. The Group's work was complemented by a parallel process of engagement which resulted in 23 meetings with representative bodies and individual companies being facilitated by my Department.

The establishment of the Cloud Technology Centre, which I referred to in my reply to Parliamentary Question No 228 of 6 March 2012, was formally announced by me in May 2011. The Centre is being jointly established by Enterprise Ireland and IDA. As I indicated in my reply to the earlier question, I am happy that good progress is being made in delivering on this commitment.

In accordance with the Programme for Government, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform has been working to bring about greater promotion of Cloud Computing in the Public Service. The Acton Plans for Jobs reiterates the Minister's commitment to developing a Cloud Computing Strategy for the Public Sector in 2012.

EU Directives

Joanna Tuffy

Ceist:

55 Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the position regarding the EU directive on temporary agency work; when he expects it to be implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14838/12]

European Directive 2008/104/EC on Temporary Agency Work was adopted in 2008 with a transposition date of 5 December 2011. A central aim of the Directive is to ensure protection of temporary agency workers by applying the principle of equal treatment in their basic working and employment conditions.

A Bill entitled the Protection of Employees (Temporary Agency Work) Bill 2011 completed passage in the Dail in mid-February 2012 and commenced consideration in the Seanad on 28 February 2012 and is currently before that House. The Bill is a priority Bill for my Department and I expect that the Bill will be enacted by end March 2012.

Redundancy Payments

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

56 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to the fact that applications were received on 16 and 17 August 2011 to the Government insolvency fund regarding a company (details supplied) in County Cork; the reason liquidation salaries and wages have not been paid to employees of this company; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14657/12]

Insolvency payment claims for 27 former employees of the company were received on 16 August 2011.

The Department is currently processing claims received at the beginning of July 2011, and these claims will be processed in due course. These payments will be made from the Social Insurance Fund.

Money Advice and Budgeting Service

Michelle Mulherin

Ceist:

57 Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Social Protection when, in what manner and on what terms additional staff will be recruited for the Money Advice and Budgeting Service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14674/12]

The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS), under the aegis of the Citizens Information Board, assists people who are over-indebted and need help and advice in coping with debt problems. They provide an excellent service, in particular to those on low incomes and people living on social welfare payments.

There are 53 independent MABS companies with voluntary boards of management employing some 277 money advice staff, operating nationwide. The MABS National Telephone Helpline is available from 9am to 8pm Monday to Friday and the MABS website can be accessed 24 hours a day at www.mabs.ie. In 2012 funding of some €18 million has been provided to support the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS).

In December 2011 sanction was received from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform for the retention of 12 temporary posts within the MABS network for a further two year period.

The resources for MABS will be kept under review in consultation with the CIB.

Social Welfare Appeals

Eric J. Byrne

Ceist:

58 Deputy Eric Byrne asked the Minister for Social Protection when is it expected that an oral hearing will take place on an application for domiciliary care allowance in respect of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14676/12]

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 and 2011 when the intake rose to 32,432 and 31,241 respectively. 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.

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 Code

Michael Creed

Ceist:

59 Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will elaborate on the proposed changes to the social welfare code as they relate to self-employed persons or those formerly self-employed but currently not in receipt of a social welfare payment, and their entitlement to transition year pension payment from January 2014; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14719/12]

State pension (transition) (SPT) and State pension (contributory) (SPC) are social insurance payments made when a person reaches 65 and 66 years of age respectively. They are both based on the person's social insurance record (PRSI) from employment or self employment.

To qualify a person needs to (a) enter insurable employment by age 55 for SPT and age 56 for SPC, (b) have paid 260 full rate social insurance contributions and (c) have a yearly average contributions of at least 10 for SPT and at least 24 for SPC. A person must be retired from employment to qualify for SPT and the payment ceases at age 66 when the claimant transfers to SPC. The yearly average determines the weekly rate of payment. Class S PRSI contributions which are payable by self-employed people are not reckonable for SPT and therefore, the changes proposed in this area will not apply to this cohort.

The challenges facing the Irish pension system are significant. There are currently six people of working age for every pensioner and this ratio is expected to decrease to approximately two to one by 2050. In addition, those aged over 65 will account for a greater proportion of the population while the proportion who are of working age is expected to decline. So the task of financing our increasing number of pensioners will fall to a diminishing share of the population. People are living longer and healthier lives and growing numbers of people want to work, or may need to work beyond State pension age. Recognising that State pensions are very valuable benefits, it is important to ensure that those qualifying have made a sustained contribution to the Social Insurance Fund over a working life thereby ensuring equity in the social welfare system.

In this context there are a number of pension reform measures planned:—

The minimum paid contributions requirement for SPT and SPC will increase to 520 in April 2012 as provided for in legislation since 1997.

As provided for in recent legislation, State pension age will be increased gradually to 68 years. This will begin in 2014 with the standardisation of State pension age at 66 and SPT will no longer be payable to those who reach age 65 in 2014 or later. State pension age will be increased to 67 years in 2021 and to 68 in 2028.

A "total contributions approach" to State pension will be adopted to replace the current averaging system. The proposed date for its introduction is 2020. Under this system, the level of pension paid will be directly proportionate to the number of social insurance contributions made by a person over his or her working life. This change reflects the potential that people now have to accumulate contributions as a result of the comprehensive nature of social insurance coverage which has been in place for 20 years, and the growth in the labour force over that period. Accordingly, a total contributions requirement of 30 years' contributions for a maximum pension will be introduced. Under the new approach, a minimum rate of State pension (contributory) (SPC) will be payable at one third (10/30ths) of the maximum rate, which will be 30/30ths.

A further reform measure was announced in Budget 2012 providing for a change to the rates bands for SPT and SPC which is being introduced from September 2012. From then, the rate band of between 20 and 47 (24 and 47 for SPT) yearly average contributions will be replaced with new rate bands of between:—

(i) 40 and 47 yearly average contributions,

(ii) 30 and 39 yearly average contribution, and

(iii) 20 and 29 yearly average contributions.

Therefore, the rate of SPT or SPC paid to new applicants will be appropriate to the average number of contributions paid over a working life. Those who have fewer contributions will receive a lower rate of pension. The maximum rate is unchanged as is the rate for those with yearly average contributions of between 40 and 47. While existing pension recipients are unaffected, the changes proposed will apply to new claimants from September 2012.

Claimants who qualify for a reduced rate of SPT or SPC and who have income needs may qualify, depending on their means, for another social welfare payment. Details of the new rates bands for SPC are set out in the tables below.

The measures outlined support the social contract between the State and the individual whereby those who pay most in a working life benefit most in retirement.

Changes to Rate Bands

New State Pension (Transition) Rates

Yearly Average Contributions

Personal Rate Per Week (€)

48 or over

230.30

40-47

225.80

30-39

207.00

24-29

196.00

New State Pension (Contributory) Rates

Yearly Average Contributions

Personal Rate Per Week (€)

48 or over

230.30

40-47

225.80

30-39

207.00

20-29

196.00

15-19

150.00

10-14

92.00

Flood Relief

Michael Conaghan

Ceist:

60 Deputy Michael Conaghan asked the Minister for Social Protection the amount of the €10 million humanitarian assistance scheme set up in the aftermath of flooding in October 2011 that has been allocated; how this money has been spent; and if she intends to adjust the criteria for receipt of funding. [14743/12]

The Deputy will be aware that in the immediate aftermath of the severe flooding experienced in October 2011, the Government put in place a humanitarian aid scheme to assist households affected by that flooding.

Since these floods, the Department has been providing individuals with emergency payments to offset their immediate needs such as the purchase of food, clothing, fuel and household goods. Payments have also been made in respect of essential household items such as carpets, flooring, furniture and white goods. Funding towards alternative accommodation costs have also been made in certain cases depending on the circumstances of the families.

Larger payments in respect of longer-term needs, such as assisting with the cost of repairing homes and making them habitable again are also being made. This type of payment will take longer as homeowners must first establish the cost of repair and engage a builder to carry out the repairs. Items not covered by the scheme include losses covered by an insurance policy, loss of inessential or luxury items, commercial or business losses and loss or damage to private rented accommodation or local authority accommodation.

To date 806 payments have been made at a total cost of €515,000.

There are no plans to adjust the criteria for receipt of funding. Any person continuing to experience hardship as a result of the October 2011 floods should contact the local Department of Social Protection representative administering the supplementary allowance scheme who may be able to offer assistance.

Departmental Offices

Clare Daly

Ceist:

61 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will reverse the decision to close the community welfare office service in Malahide, Dublin, from 20 March 2012, forcing residents to attend at Kilbarrack, Dublin, to access this service. [14746/12]

I am very conscious of the need to provide efficient and effective customer facing services at a local level for clients of the Department. However, as the Deputy will be aware, there is currently a moratorium on recruitment across the civil and public service. Where vacancies arise, I assure the Deputy that the Department is expending every effort to continue to source available staff to fill critical vacancies, including those arising from retirements, by way of redeployment, or transfer from within the Department and other Government Departments, taking account of the Employment Control Framework (ECF) target, as determined by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

The staffing needs for all areas within the Department are continuously reviewed, having regard to workloads, management priorities and the competing demands arising, to ensure that the best use is made of all available resources with a view to providing an efficient service to those who rely on the schemes operated by the Department. It was in this context that the decision was made to relocate community welfare services from Malahide to Kilbarrack following the retirement of a staff member and other staffing issues.

As part of a reconfiguration of services, the community welfare clinic currently operating in Malahide will relocate to Kilbarrack Health Centre from Tuesday 20 March 2012. This measure is required in order to maintain continued public access to the service for customers currently covered by the community welfare service in Malahide.

A factor taken into account in the reconfiguration of services was the good public transport services from Malahide to Kilbarrack, with Dart and bus access to Kilbarrack Health Centre, which is 5 minutes walk from the nearest train station or bus stop.

There is also the facility for clients who are unable to travel to Kilbarrack, for example due to illness, to phone the community welfare service in Kilbarrack and discuss their case and, if required, the officer may arrange a visit to the client's home.

In order to offer a more streamlined, efficient and integrated service to clients, the Department is undergoing a process of intensive planning and organisational change in establishing the new National Employment and Entitlements Service (NEES), which will bring together the Community Welfare Service (CWS), the Employment Services and Community Employment Programmes of FÁS, the Rural Social Scheme and Community Services Programme from the former Department of Community, Equality and the Gaeltacht and the Redundancy and Insolvency Schemes from the former Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation. It is the intention that the NEES will integrate all employment and benefit support services in a single delivery unit, to provide a coherent integrated and more personalised service to clients. It is hoped that this integrating process will also deliver new opportunities to support service delivery at the local level.

Fire Service

Gerald Nash

Ceist:

62 Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of retained firefighters who are in receipt of social welfare payments under the jobseeker’s allowance system; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14748/12]

The information requested by the Deputy is not held by the Department. While occupation codes are in use they apply to employment groupings rather than specific jobs.

Departmental Schemes

Robert Dowds

Ceist:

63 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Social Protection if any scheme is in place through which persons working part-time will be considered for an internship for the purposes of improving their employability. [14777/12]

In order to qualify for an internship, an individual must be in receipt of a live jobseeker's claim and have been in receipt of jobseeker's allowance or jobseeker's benefit, or signing for credits, for a minimum of 78 days in the previous six months. Time spent on certain government sponsored training may also be taken into account when calculating eligibility.

Providing they fulfil all JobBridge eligibility criteria regarding jobseeker's allowance/benefit, persons in part-time employment can participate in JobBridge, the National Internship Scheme provided that their employer is not the provider of the internship. The intern must advise their local Social Welfare office of their continued part-time employment while undertaking an internship.

A standard Internship working week will range from 30-40 hours per week. Therefore an intern will be required to participate on the scheme for a minimum of 30 hours and a maximum of 40 hours per week. Hence, an additional requirement is that the part-time employment does not interfere with the minimum weekly hours (thirty) of the internship.

My Department continues to monitor and review the eligibility criteria for the JobBridge programme on an ongoing basis.

Individuals who are not in receipt of social welfare payments and are working part-time may also access the Work Placement Programme wherein there is a minimum requirement to work 25 hours per week with a Host Organisation.

Social Welfare Appeals

Billy Timmins

Ceist:

64 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding invalidity pension in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow; if this will be paid as a matter of urgency; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14791/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 24 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 on 1 February 2012 and the appeal was assigned to an Appeals Officer for consideration on 6 March 2012.

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

Question No. 65 withdrawn.

Social Welfare Benefits

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

66 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding financial support in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [14808/12]

The person concerned was refused mortgage interest supplement on 28 February 2012 as the first mortgage was not obtained to purchase, build or repair the main residence and the second mortgage was obtained for repairs to both residence and commercial property owned at that time. A breakdown of costs and receipts for same has not been provided.

Question No. 67 withdrawn.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

68 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the grounds on which it was decided to refuse an application for disability allowance in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14848/12]

The person concerned was refused disability allowance on the ground that, based upon the medical assessor's opinion of the medical evidence supplied in support of the claim, the person is not medically suitable for disability allowance. The deciding officer accepted this opinion and the person was notified in writing of this decision on 9 September 2011.

Further medical evidence was subsequently supplied and was reviewed by the medical assessor who was of the opinion, based on the information supplied, that the person was not medically suitable for disability allowance. Accordingly, the deciding officer decided that there were no grounds to revise the original decision and the person concerned was notified in writing of this outcome on 2 February 2012.

When conducting an assessment, the medical assessor does not dispute the existence of the certified cause of incapacity but rather s/he assesses the degree to which the loss of function in work-related activities, resulting from disease or injury, affects the person's ability to perform either their own job or alternative types of work.

Social Welfare Appeals

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

69 Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding an appeal for disability allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; if it could be expedited due to their serious illness; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14860/12]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned was registered in that office on 03 January 2012. 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. When received, the appeal in question will be referred in due course 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

Pat Breen

Ceist:

70 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Social Protection if a person (details supplied) in County Clare will be facilitated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14861/12]

The person concerned is 54 years of age and is currently a participant on Community Employment. He is eligible to remain on the programme until 20 April 2012 at which time he will have completed 3 years and the maximum time he is entitled to under the current eligibility criteria. With effect from 3 April 2000, participation on CE is limited, in a person's lifetime to a total of 3 years (156 weeks) for persons under 55 years of age. However, he should contact his local Employment Services Office, in Ennis at 065-6868280 prior to his completion of the programme to discuss alternative training and employment options.

Pat Breen

Ceist:

71 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Social Protection if a person (details supplied) in County Clare will be facilitated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14864/12]

The person concerned is 52 years of age and is currently a participant on Community Employment. He is eligible to remain on the programme until 14 September 2012 at which time he will have completed 3 years and the maximum time he is entitled to under the current eligibility criteria. With effect from 3 April 2000 participation on CE is limited, in a person's lifetime to a total of 3 years (156 weeks) for persons under 55 years of age. However, the person concerned should contact his local Employment Services Office, prior to his completion on the programme to discuss alternative training and employment options.

National Monuments

Patrick Deering

Ceist:

72 Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, further to Parliamentary Question No. 208 of 6 March 2012, the steps being taken to take into State ownership Haroldstown Dolmen in County Carlow. [14699/12]

The Haroldstown Dolmen is included in the statutory Record of Monuments and Places and, as such, is protected under the National Monuments Acts.

Because of resource implications, the State is only ever in a position to acquire, maintain and conserve a relatively small number of heritage properties and monuments. My Department makes such acquisitions from time to time in exceptional circumstances as resources permit and in line with their archaeological, architectural, historical or other special significance. There are no proposals to acquire any such properties at present.

Telecommunications Services

Nicky McFadden

Ceist:

73 Deputy Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the number of qualifying applicants who now remain in the rural broadband scheme since the deadline of 2 March; the length of time it is proposed to allow operators in which to provide services to those remaining; and if any of the €17.9m budgeted for this scheme has been allocated to other projects or purposes. [14660/12]

The Rural Broadband Scheme was launched last year in recognition of the fact that despite the widespread availability of broadband throughout Ireland, there still remained individual premises that were unable to receive broadband provision, mainly due to technical difficulties. This Scheme is aimed at making a basic broadband service available to those individual unserved premises in rural non-National Broadband Scheme areas who wish to avail of such services. Approximately 3,700 applications qualified under the Scheme and the Verification Phase of the Scheme is now under way. Under this phase, the details of applicants have been passed to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who are participating in the Scheme and these companies have responded to my Department indicating where they may be able to offer services.

Letters were issued to applicants on 17 February asking them to give their consent to be contacted by those ISPs who had indicated that they could offer them a service. The deadline for the return of consent forms has been extended to 16 March 2012 and reminder letters have been issued to applicants who have not yet responded.

After the new deadline has passed, my Department will be providing further information to the participating ISPs to enable them to write to applicants with offers of service. I expect that these written offers will be sent out in April and, subject to final agreement with the ISPs concerned, the provision of services to applicants during this phase of the Scheme will be carried out over the period May to July this year.

The response to date by industry suggests that virtually all premises in the country are capable of obtaining a broadband service from a supplier using one of the available technology platforms i.e. DSL, fixed or mobile wireless, cable or satellite. Where a commercial service has been shown to be available, the State cannot intervene with a subvention for alternative services.

While it is not possible to say definitively at this stage what amount, if any, of the EU funding available for this project through the Rural Development Programme will be required, I can assure the Deputy that it is the intention of both the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to ensure that the fund is fully utilised for rural development measures and that there is no loss of funding for Ireland as a whole.

Nicky McFadden

Ceist:

74 Deputy Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if the report of the broadband taskforce will be published, and the date of same; and if there will be a period of public consultation on the report. [14663/12]

The Next Generation Broadband Taskforce (NGBT) has proven to be a very useful forum for detailed discussions with some industry stakeholders on their views regarding the optimal policy required to facilitate investment in next generation broadband infrastructure. The Taskforce is currently finalising its deliberations. I expect it will conclude its deliberation in the coming weeks. The next steps, following completion of the NGBT report, will be to bring the report to Government before consulting with the wider public for their views. Building on the work of the Taskforce, it is my intention to publish a National Broadband Plan for Ireland later this year which will set out a range of policy commitments and actions aimed at accelerating the rollout of high speed broadband across Ireland.

Natural Gas Grid

Arthur Spring

Ceist:

75 Deputy Arthur Spring asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources when the national gas grid will be extended to include the towns of Tralee, Listowel and Killarney, County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14798/12]

The development and expansion of the natural gas network is in the first instance a commercial matter for Gaslink, which is mandated under Section 8 of the Gas Act 1976, as amended, to develop and maintain a national system for the supply of natural gas that is both economical and efficient.

The Commission for Energy Regulation (CER), is statutorily responsible for all aspects of the assessment and licensing of prospective operators who wish to develop and/or operate a gas distribution system within the State under the Gas (Interim) (Regulation) Act 2002. I have no statutory function in relation to the connection of towns to the gas network.

The CER, in 2006, approved a new network connections policy, which created the opportunity to reassess the feasibility of connecting certain towns to the gas network. In order for any town to be connected to the gas network, certain economic criteria need to be met as a prerequisite. The policy framework provides that, over a certain period, the costs of connecting the town to the network are recouped through the actual consumption of gas and the associated tariffs. This is designed to obviate against uneconomic projects which would increase costs for all gas consumers. The policy framework allows for the appraisal of a town either on its own or as part of a regional group of towns.

Having full regard to CER's network connections policy, Bord Gáis Networks, and more recently Gaslink, have carried out a comprehensive assessment of 39 towns not already connected to the national gas network, with detailed economic analysis based on criteria outlined in the policy. The study was published in April 2010 following approval by the CER. The study included an appraisal of Tralee, Listowel and Killarney as a group of towns. The Gaslink report found that 35 towns, including Tralee, Listowel and Killarney, when appraised on an individual basis or as a group, did not qualify for connection on economic grounds.

Gaslink continues to keep under review the towns which did not qualify for connection under the Study, and other towns, on an ongoing basis. The key factor which would qualify a town or group of towns in any future review would be a significant increase in demand for natural gas, usually resulting from the addition of a new large industrial or commercial facility.

Local Authority Charges

Dessie Ellis

Ceist:

76 Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the number of households obliged to pay the household charge in the district electoral divisions of Ballygall A-D and Ballymun A-F, Dublin, and current registration and payment figures in these areas. [14675/12]

The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 and the Local Government (Household Charge) Regulations 2012 provide the legislative basis for the household charge.

The household charge is on a self-assessment basis and it is a matter for an owner of a residential property on the liability date of 1 January, 2012 to determine if he/she has a liability and, if so, that person is required to declare that liability and to pay the household charge by 31 March, 2012.

I understand, from data provided by the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA), that as of 13 March, 2012, a total of 229,650 properties have been registered for payment of the household charge. This equates to some €23 million. The LGMA does not have the sub-national details of the registrations sought in the question.

Job Creation

Alan Farrell

Ceist:

77 Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the level of funding or the possibility of funding available for a voluntary community innovation hub (details supplied) designed to promote and share business to aid job creation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14701/12]

I understand that the group referred to in the Question is a co-operative which offers low-cost office space for micro-enterprises and seeks to encourage members to collaborate on new projects. The development of policy in relation to supporting small businesses and the funding of micro-enterprises are matters for my colleague, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

My Department's Local and Community Development Programme (LCDP) is a key tool in providing a service for the long-term unemployed and disadvantaged groups. This programme operates through Local Development Companies (LDCs) and the services provided by LDCs are flexible, independent, locally based and non-bureaucratic. The Group referred to in the question may wish to contact the relevant Local Development Company for its area to establish the supports that may be available through the company.

In addition, my Department is engaging with local authorities to develop a new sectoral strategy to promote employment and support local enterprise by local government in a number of areas. This includes the identification and dissemination of best practice in relation to local enterprise and business support arrangements.

Register of Electors

Patrick Nulty

Ceist:

78 Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will confirm the regulations regarding the return of application form RFA2 for inclusion in supplement to register of electors to a city or county council; if he will confirm whether only the applicant themselves may return said form under the regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14714/12]

The RFA2 application form is used by persons wishing to be included in the supplement to the Register of Electors. The detailed requirements regarding the inclusion of persons in the supplement are set out in section 15 of, and Part 2 of the Second Schedule to, the Electoral Act 1992. The form allows applicants to provide the information required by these statutory provisions.

An application for inclusion in the supplement to the Register must be signed by the applicant in the presence of a member of the Garda Síochána from the applicant's local Garda station who must first be satisfied as to the person's identity before signing, dating and stamping the form. The Garda may request photographic or other identification. Where the applicant establishes in writing that he is unable to progress the application in this way, the form can be signed by the applicant in the presence of an official of the registration authority who is satisfied as to his or her identity. Again, photographic or other identification may be required. If neither option is viable due to physical illness or physical disability, the application form must be accompanied by a medical certificate.

Unfinished Housing Developments

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Ceist:

79 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his views on correspondence regarding unfinished housing estates (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14727/12]

I am chairing the National Co-ordination Committee on Unfinished Housing Developments to oversee implementation of the Report of the Advisory Group on Unfinished Housing Developments, together with the Government's response to the recommendations. The Committee includes representatives from the Irish Banking Federation, local authorities, the Housing and Sustainable Communities Agency, NAMA and the construction sector.The Committee is meeting on a regular basis with the aim of publishing a report on progress achieved within the next 12 months. In the meantime, work is ongoing on implementation of the Report of the Advisory Group and real progress is already being made with regard to the public safety works required to improve the living conditions of existing residents on some unfinished estates.

One of the recommendations of the Report of the Advisory Group was to encourage submissions from the public aimed at addressing the issues we are facing with regard to unfinished housing developments. The proposals received from NABCO will be examined by the Committee in this regard.

Local Authority Housing

Jack Wall

Ceist:

80 Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the mechanism available to a person (details supplied) to protect their home in view of their financial circumstances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14735/12]

My Department issued comprehensive guidance to local authorities on the treatment of mortgage arrears, including local authority mortgages for shared ownership transactions, in March 2010. That guidance was closely based on the Central Bank's first statutory Code of Conduct on Mortgage Arrears to ensure that cases of local authority mortgage arrears are handled in a manner that is sympathetic to the needs of the particular household, while also protecting the position of the local authority concerned.To reflect the content of the Central Bank's revised Code of Conduct and provide a further suite of options for the sympathetic treatment of mortgage arrears by local authorities my Department is currently preparing updated guidance to local authorities in consultation with the City and County Managers Association.

Where any borrower, either from a local authority or from a private financial institution, is facing difficulties in meeting mortgage repayments, they should engage productively and constructively with the lender to seek to achieve an agreed solution. The services of the Money Advice and Budgeting Service are also available to such borrowers and support is available through the Supplementary Welfare Allowance Scheme.

In addition, Section 34 of Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 provides local authorities with powers to deal flexibly with distressed borrowers.

Local Government Charges

Michelle Mulherin

Ceist:

81 Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government his views on whether two adjoining residential units can operate as one household in circumstances in which the accommodation needs of a family, that is, parents and dependent children, can only be met by occupying the two units and thus such a family would be liable to payment of one household charge per annum; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14736/12]

The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 and the Local Government (Household Charge) Regulations 2012 provide the legislative basis for the household charge.

The household charge is on a self assessment basis and interpretation of the legislation is a matter for legal advice in individual cases and ultimately a matter for the Courts.

Section 2 of the Act provides that residential property means a building that is situated in the State and that is occupied, or suitable for occupation, as a separate dwelling, whether or not the occupier shares, or would be entitled to share, in connection therewith, any accommodation, amenity or facility with any other person, and includes a house, maisonette, flat or apartment (including the form of accommodation commonly known as a bedsit). The household charge is payable in respect of each unit of accommodation that is occupied, or suitable for occupation, as a separate dwelling.

Patrick Deering

Ceist:

82 Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will consider adding two unfinished housing estates (details supplied) in County Carlow to the list for household charge waiver. [14738/12]

As part of the process of preparing the National Housing Development Survey 2011, published by my Department in October 2011, local authorities provided details of all unfinished housing developments in their areas. Unfinished housing developments were divided into four categories as follows: category one, where the development is still being actively completed by the developer, or where no serious public safety issues exist; category two, where a receiver has been appointed; category three, where a receiver has not been appointed and the developer is still in place but effectively inactive; and category four, where the development has been effectively abandoned and is posing serious problems for residents.

Other relevant factors for the purposes of the categorisation process include, inter alia: the state of completion of roads, footpaths, public lighting, piped water and sewerage facilities and open spaces or similar amenities within the development; the extent to which the development complies with the terms of applicable planning permission; the extent to which it complies with the provisions of the Building Control Acts 1990 and 2007; the provisions of the Local Government (Sanitary Services) Act 1964 as they pertain to dangerous places and dangerous structures within the meaning of the Act; the extent to which facilities within the development have been taken in charge by the local authority concerned; and where there is an agreement regarding the maintenance of such facilities, the extent to which this agreement has been complied with.

This categorisation formed the basis for the list of those unfinished developments eligible for a waiver on the annual household charge. Only households in developments in categories three and four are eligible for the waiver from payment of the household charge. This list of developments in which households are eligible for the waiver in 2012 is set out under the Local Government (Household Charge) Regulations 2012. A revised list of estates will be prescribed for 2013 after which time the waiver for unfinished housing developments will end. Throughout this period it is anticipated that the numbers of categories 3 and 4 developments will decrease significantly as my Department continues to work with local authorities and other stakeholders to resolve outstanding issues, including through the Public Safety Initiative.

Gerald Nash

Ceist:

83 Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he or his officials have met senior representatives of An Post in respect of the company’s handling incremental payments for the household charge; if he intends to introduce a system whereby households will be permitted to pay the charge on an incremental basis by instalment at An Post offices; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14745/12]

My Department and I met with the Chief Executive and other senior representatives of An Post yesterday. An Post is assisting in broadening the number of local outlets where the household charge declaration form is available. The declaration form will be available outside the counter in the network of 1,152 local post offices. Persons may complete the declaration and forward it to the central payment bureau at Household Charge, PO Box 12168, Dublin 1.

There is a range of other options available for persons to pay the household charge. An on-line system www.householdcharge.ie is in place in the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) to enable homeowners to pay the household charge by credit/debit card. In addition, homeowners can make payment by cheque, postal order or by credit/debit card by completing the relevant payment details on the declaration form and posting it to Household Charge, PO Box 12168, Dublin 1. Instalment payments were available by direct debit only and persons opting to pay in this way had to register their details before 1 March, 2012.

A bureau is in place in the LGMA to administer the charge on a shared service/agency basis for all local authorities. In addition, all county/city councils have been requested to have arrangements in place for persons to attend their principal offices to pay the household charge up to 31 March, 2012. I am satisfied that there is a comprehensive suite of payment options available to persons to pay the household charge. I have no proposals to provide for instalment payments at post offices.

Fire Services

Gerald Nash

Ceist:

84 Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the number of retained firefighters employed by each local authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14747/12]

The number of retained firefighters employed by each local authority based on the December 2011 quarterly staffing returns from local authorities is outlined in the following table:

Dec-11

Retained Fire-fighters (Headcount)*

Counties

Carlow

46

Cavan

84

Clare

78

Cork

223

Donegal

155

Dun Laoghaire

0

Fingal

0

Galway

106

Kerry

105

Kildare

76

Kilkenny

68

Laois

68

Leitrim

45

Limerick

68

Longford

46

Louth

55

Mayo

119

Meath

72

Monaghan

51

Offaly

50

Roscommon

57

Sligo

41

South Dublin

0

North Tipperary

72

South Tipperary

63

Waterford

80

Westmeath

50

Wexford

63

Wicklow

97

County Total

2,038

City Councils

Cork

0

Dublin

26

Galway

0

Limerick

0

Waterford

13

City Total

39

Overall Total

2,077

Patrick Nulty

Ceist:

85 Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the reason the recruitment panel for Dublin Fire Brigade was discontinued without any consultation with applicants who were on the panel; if he will urgently review this decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14783/12]

Patrick Nulty

Ceist:

86 Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the numbers of staff of Dublin Fire Brigade who have retired for each of past three years up to and including the end of February 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14784/12]

Patrick Nulty

Ceist:

87 Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the amount spent on an annual basis on overtime payments for Dublin Fire Brigade in each of the years 2010, 2011 and 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14785/12]

Patrick Nulty

Ceist:

88 Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if there is a sufficient number of front-line staff in Dublin Fire Brigade to comply with the recommendations of the Farrell Grant Sparks Consulting report 2002; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14786/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 85 to 88, inclusive, together.

Under section 159 of the Local Government Act 2001, each County and City Manager is responsible for staffing and organisational arrangements, including recruitment and day to day operational measures, necessary for carrying out the functions of the local authorities for which he or she is responsible. Under the terms of the moratorium on recruitment, any exceptions in respect of local authorities require prior sanction from my Department. In this regard, it is a matter for City and County managers, in the first instance, to ensure that the reduction in staff numbers is managed so that the appropriate service level is maintained. My Department works very closely with local authorities to ensure that critical posts are filled while overall numbers are reduced.

I understand that the position in relation to staffing in Dublin Fire Brigade is kept under constant review by Dublin City Council management and that the panel which was in place since 2007 expired in December 2011. Dublin City Council has reduced its overall staff numbers from 7,326.15 Whole Time Equivalent (WTE) in June 2008 to 6,072.35 in December 2011, a reduction of 1,254 (17%). In the same period the total number of full time fire fighters in Dublin City Council increased from 825 WTE to 876 WTE. The cost of operational overtime for Dublin Fire Brigade in 2010 was €3.095m and in 2011 it was €3.09m. This is expected to reduce in 2012.

In 2002, the Report of the Review of Fire Safety and Fire Services in Ireland was published by my Department. The principal recommendations included more focus on fire safety, including the introduction of community fire safety initiatives; the enhancement of fire safety legislation, the adoption of a risk-based approach to determining emergency cover as well as new approaches and structures for major emergency management. In addition, the Report called for continued capital investment to improve infrastructure and further development of safety, health and welfare arrangements. Much has been accomplished in the past decade since publication of the Report and the key recommendations of the Report have been implemented.

Joan Collins

Ceist:

89 Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, further to Parliamentary Question No. 113 of 28 September 2011 which confirmed that his Department supports a broad range of social interventions, including community warden schemes, under the sustainable communities fund and as part of the national regeneration programme, if funding will continue to be provided in the current year by his Department for community warden posts in Sligo as part of the overall regeneration programme for the Sligo eastern quadrant; if the number of community warden posts in Sligo will be increased in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14805/12]

My Department is committed to funding the completion of a comprehensive master plan for the Sligo regeneration project together with a number of community based social and physical regeneration measures, including the community wardens scheme. My Department currently provides funding for the employment of two community wardens and there are no proposals to increase this number in 2012.

Building Regulations

Clare Daly

Ceist:

90 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, noting the European Commission response to Question E-012450/2011 regarding the right of building designers whose qualifications do not meet the Article 46 requirements (BCA 2007) to use the title architect in this State, including any persons whose qualifications would be subject to a grandfather clause, if he will meet with building designers (details supplied) seeking an amendment of BCA 2007 to include such a grandfather clause. [14813/12]

Clare Daly

Ceist:

91 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, noting the European Commission response to Question E-012450/2011 regarding the right of building designers whose qualifications do not meet the Article 46 requirements (BCA 2007) to use the title architect in this State, including any persons whose qualifications would be subject to a grandfather clause, if he will amend BCA 2007 to include a grandfather clause for members of an organisation (details supplied). [14814/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 90 and 91 together.

I am aware of the response given by the European Commission on 21 February 2012 to Question No. E-012350/2011 in the European Parliament. I am satisfied that the Building Control Act 2007 is in keeping with the requirements of relevant EU legislation and, in particular, the provisions of Directive 2005/36/EC as regards the free movement of workers within the single market and the recognition by Member States of the qualifications of individuals from other Member States.

I refer to the reply to Question No. 27 of 30 November 2011 which sets out the arrangements already in place under the Building Control Act 2007 for the registration of practically trained persons as architects. To date 31 practically trained persons have been deemed eligible for inclusion on the register of architects. Of these, 6 underwent the technical assessment process and 25 underwent the register admission examination.

I have no plans to amend the Act along the lines suggested and, as such, I do not propose to meet with members of the alliance as requested. I would encourage members of the alliance to pursue the routes to registration which are currently open to them with a view to joining the small and growing numbers of practically trained architects already on the register.

Community Development Programme

Ciara Conway

Ceist:

92 Deputy Ciara Conway asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government how the local and community development programme is being rolled out nationally; if he will detail its success to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14833/12]

In January 2010, the Local and Community Development Programme superseded the Community Development and the Local Development Social Inclusion Programmes.

The objective of the new Programme is to tackle poverty, and social exclusion through partnership, and constructive engagement between Government, and its agencies, and people in disadvantaged communities.

As part of its four high level goals, the Programme supports individuals into employment, and self-employment through education, training, work experience, job placement, enterprise, and the social economy in both urban and rural areas.

The Programme is managed by Pobal on behalf of my Department and is delivered at a local level by the nationwide network of 51 Local Development Companies. This year some €55m has been allocated to the Programme.

In July 2011, a review of the Programme was carried out. The focus of the review was on the performance in relation to a number of high priority indicators concerning leverage of resources (Goal 1), education and training (Goal 2), and labour market activities (Goal 3).

While it is early in the life of the new Programme, the 2010 performance (when examined against a range of indicators, 6 case studies and a random sample of 15 area strategic plans) indicates:

progress on establishing outcomes;

a provision for enhanced monitoring and planning;

a strategic collaboration with other agencies; and

functioning links between providers.

The following information provides figures in relation to the performance of the Programme in 2010:

Out of 30,140 participants, 24,640 were new beneficiaries (82%);

Nearly 43% of participants were long term unemployed;

12,112 individuals received education/training supports;

4,649 individuals participated in accredited courses;

2,324 individuals gained certified qualifications;

4,595 were supported into employment;

1,568 individuals were assisted or placed in employment with slightly more women than men, and 3,027 were supported into self-employment, with the majority of these being men (2,328); and

3,565 people received new enterprise supports.

Overall, I am satisfied that the objectives of the Programme are being met. The programme will continue to support the participation and empowerment of local communities in tackling disadvantage, and will have an emphasis on front-line support, and service provision. Operating and overhead costs are being kept to a minimum, which, in the current climate, is essential and provides for resources to be directed in a targeted, and effective, manner to ensure that those we work to assist will receive maximum benefit.

Rural Development Programme

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

93 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the number of grant applications made to each area’s Leader partnership board in 2011 in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14836/12]

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

94 Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the number and value of grant applications that have been approved by each Leader group in County Cork in 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14837/12]

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

County Cork is served by seven Local Development Companies that deliver Axes 3 and 4 (LEADER) of the Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2007-2013. The table below details the number of applications received as well as the number and value of projects approved by Local Development Companies through the RDP in County Cork in 2011.

Area

Number of applications received in 2011

Number of applications approved in 2011

Value of projects approved in 2011

Avondhu Blackwater Integrated Local Development Body

Avondhu Blackwater Partnership serves the needs of 35 community groups in Blarney, Fermoy, Mallow and their surrounding areas.

49

37

€1,285,179.85

Ballyhoura Development Ltd.

The Ballyhoura Development Area encompasses the geographic area of South and East County Limerick and North East County Cork with a population of 16,793 persons (2006).

44

43

€1,180,28.00

Comhar na nOileáin Teo

The territory covered by Comhar na nOileán incorporates offshore islands of Ireland cut off by tides with permanent residents.

10

12

€216,608.29

IRD Duhallow

IRD Duhallow territory includes North West Cork and South East Kerry.

75

63

€1,471,724.00

Meitheal Forbartha na Gaeltachta Teo

MFG covered the officially designated Gaeltacht areas

0

0

€0

South and East Cork Area Development

SECAD serves an area to the south and east of Cork city within Co Cork.

59

42

€1,189,652.00

West Cork Development Partnership Ltd.

West Cork Development Partnership is located in the south west of the country, adjacent to the designated “Gateway” of Cork city. It includes the entire electoral areas of Bandon, Skibbereen, Bantry and parts of the Macroom electoral area.

45

35

€1,165,048.08

Total

282

232

€4,163,164.14

Road Safety

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

95 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of drivers that have been fined under the 2011 Road Traffic Act for refusing to be tested for alcohol in the aftermath of a serious road collision which has caused death or serious injury; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14661/12]

In the time available it has not been possible for the Garda authorities to supply the information requested by the Deputy. I will be in contact with the Deputy when the information is to hand.

Private Security Authority

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

96 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the term of the appeals board of the Private Security Authority has expired; when new appointments will be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14703/12]

The Private Security Services Act 2004 provides at section 40 for the establishment of a Private Security Appeal Board to hear and determine appeals against decisions of the Private Security Authority. I am in the process of making the necessary arrangements for new appointments following the expiration of the term of the previous Appeal Board.

Closed Circuit Television Systems

Tom Hayes

Ceist:

97 Deputy Tom Hayes asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he intends to reinstate the community CCTV scheme previously administered by POBAL on behalf of his Department; if so, when it will be introduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14705/12]

The community-based CCTV Scheme was first launched in 2005 to provide financial assistance towards the capital costs of establishing a community CCTV system. The Scheme provided for two types of grants: a pre-development grant of up to €5,000 to assist local communities to develop proposals and substantive grants of up to €100,000 towards the capital cost of establishing a system. In addition, separate and matching funding was provided for successful applications from RAPID areas.

To date two major rounds of the Scheme have been advertised, in 2005/2006 and 2007, under which 45 substantive schemes were approved for funding. Over the same period 54 community schemes were awarded pre-development grants.

The funding provided under the previous two rounds has been fully allocated and the installation of a number of the projects grant aided is ongoing. No decision has been made in relation to the possible further extension of the Community Based CCTV Scheme. However, any future plans for such an extension will depend on a number of factors, including the availability of funding, the progression of projects already grant aided and overall policy considerations.

Garda Operations

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

98 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will report on Operation Clean Street; the number of persons arrested and charged to date; the number of successful convictions secured to date; the cost of the operation to date; if this operation is still active; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14711/12]

I have been informed by the Garda authorities that Operation Clean-street was an initiative undertaken by the Garda National Drugs Unit, in conjunction with District and Divisional Garda Management, to target individuals involved in on-street sale and supply of drugs in communities.

Over the past two years the Garda National Drugs Unit has coordinated eleven phases of Operation Clean-street across Garda Districts within the Dublin Metropolitan Region, Carlow, Limerick, Tullamore and most recently in Waterford. The operation has resulted in the arrest of over 400 persons and the detection of almost 750 offences of possession of drugs with intent to supply.

While the particular information requested by the Deputy in relation to the cost of the operation and the number of convictions arising is not readily to hand, and would require a disproportionate amount of Garda time and resources to compile, I am informed that many of the persons charged under the operation have been convicted, with a number of cases remaining before the Courts.

I am further informed that certain phases of this initiative remain ongoing and that the targeting of the on-street sale, supply and distribution of drugs continues in conjunction with District and Divisional Officers.

I can also assure the Deputy that An Garda Síochána is committed to continuing to tackle the supply of drugs at all levels, in keeping with commitments contained in the National Drugs Strategy.

Illegal Immigrants

Clare Daly

Ceist:

99 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons that were part of the mass deportation to Nigeria on 7 March 2012; the number of those deported that were children; and if the Frontex charter company was used to carry out the deportations. [14728/12]

A total of 21 persons, subject to Deportation Orders issued following due process, were removed from Ireland and returned to Lagos, Nigeria on 7th March, 2012 in accordance with the law. The individuals in question were all failed asylum seekers or persons otherwise found to be in breach of their permission to be in the State. A number of the deportees had been convicted of serious criminal offences for which they served prison sentences. The returnees consisted of 7 adult males, 6 adult females and 8 minors. The return was part of an operation led by Austria via Spain to Nigeria and organised through the EU FRONTEX network.

Frontex http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_language (European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union) is the European Union agency for external border security. It is responsible for coordinating the activities of the national border guards in ensuring the security of the EU’s borders with non-member states.

Frontex was established by Council Regulation (EC) 2007/2004. The agency became operational on 3 October 2005 and was the first EU agency to be based in one of the new EU states.

Frontex's mission is to help EU Member States implement EU rules on external border controls and to coordinate operational cooperation between Member States in the field of external border management. While it remains the task of each member state to control its own borders, the Agency is vested with the function to ensure that they all do so with the same high standard of efficiency.

Frontex also assists EU Member States and Schengen-associated countries in the co-ordination of return flights. In the event that somebody is determined by a Member State government to be staying in that country illegally, they may be asked to leave. Many do so voluntarily, but those who do not may be returned to their country of origin by the Member State concerned. In these cases, it is Frontex's role to coordinate repatriation activities between those countries to ensure that humanitarian standards are met and to maximise efficiency and cost-effectiveness in joint return operations. Together with the experts from the Member States and refugee and asylum organisations, Frontex is also involved in identifying best practices in this area.

Frontex is not a company in the manner implied by the Deputy and its operations in Ireland, as elsewhere in the EU, are subject to Council Regulation (EC) 2007/2004.

Spent Convictions

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

100 Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the length of time a conviction remains on a person’s record with respect to applying for Garda vetting or clearance. [14737/12]

There is currently no provision in Irish Law allowing for the expunging of a conviction acquired by a person. The only exception to the general situation relates to Section 258 of the Children Act 2001, which provides for non-disclosure of certain findings of guilt made in relation to persons under 18 years of age.

However, the Deputy may wish to note that drafting of a Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill 2012, which is included on the priority "A" list of Government legislation is almost complete and I expect to be in a position to publish it shortly. The Bill will allow former offenders to withhold details of certain qualifying convictions once certain conditions have been met and an appropriate conviction free period has been completed. Convictions for sexual offences and offences reserved for trial by the Central Criminal Court (e.g. murder and rape) will be excluded from benefiting under the Bill, while persons applying for positions of employment involving the care of children and vulnerable adults will continue to have to disclose all past convictions.

The Deputy will be aware that the Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU) provides employment vetting for a large number of organisations in Ireland which are registered with the gardaí for this purpose and which employ persons in a full-time, part-time, voluntary or training capacity to work with children and/or vulnerable adults. The Garda vetting disclosures are issued to the registered organisations in respect of a particular post or employment in response to a written request and with the permission of the person who is the subject of that request. The primary purpose of the vetting scheme is the protection of children and vulnerable adults and that remains the priority.

Criminal Investigations

Michelle Mulherin

Ceist:

101 Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of all criminal investigations into the management and operation of the affairs of Anglo Irish Bank, EBS, AIB and Bank of Ireland; the number of arrests that have been made arising therefrom and the grounds for same; the number of persons who have been so arrested and the outcome of these arrests; and in each case when it is expected the investigations will be complete. [14799/12]

Michelle Mulherin

Ceist:

102 Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the State and other resources that are being utilised and are available in the criminal investigations of the mismanagement and reckless operation of the affairs of Anglo Irish Bank, EBS, AIB and Bank of Ireland; and the reason the investigations appear to be taking an inordinate length of time compared to similar investigations in the USA. [14800/12]

I propose to answer Questions Nos. 101 and 102 together.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the investigations into Anglo Irish Bank by An Garda Síochána and the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) are ongoing with a full investigation team employed at the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation. I am further informed that there are currently 25 Garda personnel engaged in these investigations, comprising sixteen personnel at the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation, including fifteen Garda investigators and a forensic accountant, as well as nine members of An Garda Síochána seconded to ODCE. All members of An Garda Síochána allocated to such investigations have previous experience in the investigation of fraud related offences, and the investigations are augmented by experienced investigators from ODCE.

The Garda authorities have indicated that to date two investigation files were submitted by the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation to the Law Officers in December, 2010. A supplementary file was submitted in May 2011 and a further investigation file was forwarded in October 2011. The files remain under consideration by the Director of Public Prosecutions, and directions are awaited. Following recent developments additional information has been submitted to the Law Officers to allow matters to be considered further. I am also informed that two persons have been arrested in relation to these investigations.

I am further informed that no complaints have been received by the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation in relation to the other financial institutions referred to by the Deputy.

I can assure the Deputy that I attach the highest priority to the full investigation of white collar crime and bringing the perpetrators of such crime to justice.

Within eight weeks of taking up office, I moved urgently to draft, and seek Government approval to the introduction of, additional legislation. This new legislation, the Criminal Justice Act 2011, was enacted on 2 August. The Act is an important step in delivering on the Government's commitment to tackle white collar crime. Its main purpose is to address delays in the prosecution and investigation of complex white collar crime by improving certain important procedural matters and strengthening Garda investigative powers. The Act's provisions are based on the experiences of those involved in investigations and prosecutions of white collar crime, and in particular on the experiences of those involved in the current investigations. It provides new procedures and powers which will speed up both current and future investigations, including investigations into offences in the areas of banking and finance, company law, money laundering, fraud and corruption.

This Government will continue to provide the necessary legislative and administrative supports for investigations within this jurisdiction. I am being briefed on an ongoing basis on the progress of the investigations and am assured that this remains an absolute priority for An Garda Síochána and that there is sufficient personnel and technical expertise available to assist in the various aspects of this ongoing investigation.

Residency Permits

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

103 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress made to date in the determination of residency and naturalisation in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 8; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14840/12]

In relation to the matter of residency and naturalisation, I am informed that there is no record of any application from the person referred to in the Deputy's question.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

104 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position in regards to residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14841/12]

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that the person in question currently has permission to reside in the State arising from her marriage to an Irish national up until 14 April 2012.

In order to renew this permission, the person concerned should attend with her Irish spouse at her local registration office two weeks prior to the expiry date of her current permission.

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to the INIS by e-mail using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. This service enables up to date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek information by way of the Parliamentary Questions process. The Deputy may consider using the e-mail service except in cases where the response from the INIS is, in the Deputy's view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Asylum Support Services

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

105 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if it might be possible to facilitate the request from a person (details supplied) for transfer from their present accommodation to an area close to that of their spouse; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14842/12]

The Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) is responsible for the accommodation of asylum seekers in accordance with the Government policy of direct provision and dispersal.

The person referred to in the details supplied is currently availing of direct provision accommodation as a single person at Kinsale Road accommodation centre in Cork. The details supplied state that this person's spouse is living in the State. As this person's spouse is not entitled to avail of direct provision accommodation, it remains open to her to make alternative accommodation arrangements with her spouse outside of the direct provision system.

Residency Permits

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

106 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress made to date in the determination of residency in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14843/12]

The person concerned entered the State on a C-Visit Visa on 18 September 2008 and was granted leave to remain in the State until 19 October 2008.

The daughter of the person concerned wrote to the Immigration Division of my Department on 7 October 2008 seeking, on behalf of her father, an extension of his permission to remain in the State. Following consideration of this request, my Department decided that her father's circumstances did not warrant an extension of his C-Visit Visa period and this position was conveyed in writing to the daughter of the person concerned by letter dated 12 January 2009.

Subsequently, in accordance with Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was notified, by letter dated 18th February, 2009, that the then Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why he should not have a Deportation Order made against him.

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

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to the INIS by e-mail using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. This service enables up to date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek information by way of the Parliamentary Questions process. The Deputy may consider using the e-mail service except in cases where the response from the INIS is, in the Deputy's view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

107 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the nature or extent of proof required by him to confirm that the marriage of persons (details supplied) is in conformity with Irish law given that they married in Mauritius and have had a civil ceremony in this country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14844/12]

I wish to advise the Deputy that it is not for my Department to decide whether or not a foreign marriage is in conformity with Irish law.

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS), that the person concerned submitted an application for EU Treaty Rights as the partner of an EU citizen, which was refused on 6th March 2012. This was due to the fact that insufficient evidence of a durable partnership being in existence was provided. No evidence of a civil marriage ceremony having taken place in this country has been submitted to INIS to date. The applicant was given 15 working days from 6 March 2012 to seek a review of this decision, and no request for review has been received to date.

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to the INIS by e-mail using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. This service enables up to date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek information by way of the Parliamentary Questions process. The Deputy may consider using the e-mail service except in cases where the response from the INIS is, in the Deputy's view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

108 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the progress made to date in the determination of residency entitlement in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Donegal. [14845/12]

Arising from the refusal of his asylum application, and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was notified, by letter dated 24 October 2010, that the then Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of him. He was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why a Deportation Order should not be made against him. In addition, he was notified of his entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006.

The person concerned submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection. When consideration of this application has been completed, the person concerned will be notified in writing of the outcome.

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

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to the INIS by e-mail using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. This service enables up to date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek information by way of the Parliamentary Questions process. The Deputy may consider using the e-mail service except in cases where the response from the INIS is, in the Deputy's view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

109 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the current or expected position in the matter of residency entitlement in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14846/12]

Arising from the refusal of her asylum application, and in accordance with the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned was notified, by letter dated 20 June 2007, that the then Minister proposed to make a Deportation Order in respect of her. She was given the options, to be exercised within 15 working days, of leaving the State voluntarily, of consenting to the making of a Deportation Order or of making representations to the Minister setting out the reasons why a Deportation Order should not be made against her. In addition, she was notified of her entitlement to apply for Subsidiary Protection in accordance with the European Communities (Eligibility for Protection) Regulations 2006.

The person concerned submitted an application for Subsidiary Protection and this application will be considered first. When consideration of this application has been completed, the person concerned will be notified in writing of the outcome.

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

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to the INIS by e-mail using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. This service enables up to date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek information by way of the Parliamentary Questions process. The Deputy may consider using the e-mail service except in cases where the response from the INIS is, in the Deputy's view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Proposed Legislation

Simon Harris

Ceist:

110 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he intends to make any amendments to maternity leave regulations in order to allow parents to share this entitlement to leave between them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14865/12]

Simon Harris

Ceist:

111 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he intends to amend adoptive leave regulations to allow either parent to avail of this entitlement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14866/12]

Simon Harris

Ceist:

112 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he has any plans to consolidate the leave entitlements outlined under the Maternity Protections Act, the Adoptive Leave Act and the Parental Leave Act; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14867/12]

Simon Harris

Ceist:

113 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the rights to maternity or parental leave accruing to the parents or adoptive parents of a child; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14868/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 110 to 113, inclusive, together.

The family leave entitlements that currently apply to parents or adoptive parents of a child are outlined in the Maternity Protection Acts 1998 and 2004, the Parental Leave Acts 1998 and 2006 and the Adoptive Leave Acts 1995 and 2005.

My Department is currently preparing proposals for legislation to transpose Council Directive 2010/18/EU of 8 March 2010 implementing the revised Framework Agreement on Parental Leave concluded by BUSINESSEUROPE, UEAPME, CEEP and ETUC and repealing Directive 96/34/EC. The Bill will also consolidate the existing family leave Acts. While I do not intend to provide for sharing of maternity and adoptive leave, as this would take from the existing entitlements of mothers, I should point out that parental leave under the Directive is being increased from 14 to 18 weeks and is available to both parents. The feasibility of introducing further improvements in the family leave area will be considered as work on the Bill progresses.

Military Medals

Sandra McLellan

Ceist:

114 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Defence if it is possible to replace an old IRA medal that was lost in a house fire; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14758/12]

The position is that the Department of Defence receives requests from time to time for the replacement of lost, stolen or destroyed medals awarded to Veterans of the 1916 Rising and the War of Independence. In relation to such requests, it has been settled policy for many years that replacement medals were issued on a once-off only basis on receipt of a bona fide request from the veteran to whom the original medals were awarded. This policy was adopted in the interest of preserving the intrinsic value of the medals and to strictly limit the number of medals issued in any particular case. Although all of the veterans are now deceased, the rationale for restricting the issue of replacement medals is still valid. Apart from the intrinsic value of the medals, their monetary value on the open market is also a factor.

However, in 2006, the then Minister for Defence decided that, where 1916 Rising/War of Independence medals had been lost, stolen or destroyed, official certificates, in both Irish and English, would be issued in such cases confirming that the relevant medal(s) was/were awarded to the named veteran.

If a relative of the old IRA veteran in this case makes contact with the Pensions Administration Section of the Department in Áras an tSáile, Renmore, Galway (telephone 091 743899) and completes and returns to the Department the relevant application form, the details will be verified by the Department and, if in order, the relevant certificates will be issued.

Departmental Reports

Michael McCarthy

Ceist:

115 Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a report into fish farming in Ireland was carried out by, or on behalf of, his Department in 1994; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14695/12]

The precise nature of the report referred to by the Deputy is not clear. However, my Department's records indicate that a report entitled ‘The Sea Trout Working Group 1994' was commissioned by the Department of the Marine, prepared by the Fisheries Research Centre and published in early 1995.

Departmental Properties

Seán Kyne

Ceist:

116 Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will explain the reasoning behind his decision to substantially increase the rental amount it charges a fisheries co-operative (details supplied) in County Galway to an amount first mentioned in 2006 when both purchasing and rental prices for property and premises were significantly higher than today’s market value, in view of the very serious negative effects on employment in the locality the imposition of such an increase will have. [14724/12]

Valuations for properties at each of the six Fishery Harbour Centres are provided by Lisney Auctioneers and Valuers.

The rental valuation currently in place in respect of the Auction Hall at Ros an Mhíl Fishery Harbour Centre reflects the valuation made by Lisney as at 4th August, 2011 and in their professional opinion represents the current market rent.

Pigmeat Sector

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

117 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will consider the introduction of a partial loan guarantee for pig farmers in order to enable them to restructure existing debt, which would be important in the context of ensuring their viability; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14731/12]

The pig sector remains the third largest component of the agri-food sector, with production, prices and exports all growing significantly during 2011. The industry faces a number of challenges in the short and medium term and my Department will continue to assist the sector to resolve these issues.

One of the main issues affecting the industry at present is the availability of credit. This is an issue which predates recent banking difficulties and has long been a feature of the pig sector. My Department is in regular contact with banking representatives and has encouraged them to discuss requirements with sectoral agri-food interests. It is of course important that those seeking credit present a suitable business case with detailed cash flow projections. In this context the Department also facilitated contacts between Teagasc and the banking sector to provide seminars and training in relation to credit application. Any farming enterprises that feel they have not been treated fairly in relation to access to credit can contact the Credit Review Office, who will review their case.

The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation is currently working on the establishment of a Temporary Partial Credit Guarantee Scheme for small business. Primary production in agriculture, horticulture and fisheries are excluded from the scope of the scheme in the light of particular restrictions under the de minimis State Aid rules.

I can assure you that my Department and its agencies will continue to work closely with the industry to ensure that it can continue to develop and grow in accordance with the targets set out in Food Harvest 2020.

Direct Payment Schemes

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

118 Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will furnish a copy of the out-wintering regulations, which are relevant in the context of good agricultural and environmental condition criteria in relation to inspections carried out by his officials under the single payment scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14732/12]

Out wintering of cattle is governed by Cross Compliance (Statutory Management Requirements (SMRs) and Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC).

Under SMR4 (Nitrates) farmers who are stocked at less than 140kg of Nitrates per hectare (equivalent to 1.65 livestock units per hectare) can avail of the option to out winter some animals and thereby reduce the volume of storage required for animal manure provided that the out wintered animals are stocked at less than 1 livestock unit per hectare. The total land area required to meet this requirement must be available to the animals at all times.

The protection of soil structure and permanent pasture from damage by animals at any time of the year is a requirement under GAEC. Therefore, animals out wintered in line with the Nitrates Regulation must not cause poaching or soil erosion. Where conditions do not allow for out wintering through poaching or machinery use then farmers must have sufficient manure storage for the winter period.

Departmental Agencies

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

119 Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, in relation to the beef technology adoption programme, if he will ensure that Teagasc does not increase its fees to members for operating the scheme on their behalf; if he will commit to ensuring that no fees are charged by Teagasc for this role; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14764/12]

This is an operational matter for Teagasc.

I am aware that Teagasc offer a range of Advisory Packages to their clients for which fees are charged including a specific Package aimed at farmers participating in discussion group activities.

I understand the Teagasc Authority agreed a proposal to incorporate the Beef Technology Adoption Programme (BTAP) into the Premium or Discussion Group package with a discount of €95 for clients with less than 50 income units and €75 for clients greater than 50 income units. The BTAP participation fees are €300 (less than 50 income units), €345 (50 to 100 income units) and €395 for farmers with greater than 100 income units. These charges are inclusive of the existing annual client contract fee. I am advised that Teagasc consulted with the relevant farming organisations in relation to the fee structure for the BTAP.

I would add that clients wishing to participate in the BTAP are not obliged to use Teagasc personnel. Private consultants are also available to facilitate beef discussion groups and farmers are free to avail of their services. A list of all discussion group facilitators, comprising both Teagasc and private professionals, is available for consultation on the Department's website.

Grant Payments

Noel Harrington

Ceist:

120 Deputy Noel Harrington asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 457 of 8 November 2011 and 325 of 6 December 2011, when an appeal will be processed in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; when they will receive the full amount due of their agri-environment options scheme payment; the amount of that payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14792/12]

The person named was approved for participation in the Agri-Environment Options Scheme with effect from 1 September 2010.

Under the EU Regulations governing the Scheme and other area-based payment schemes, a comprehensive administrative check, including cross-checks with the Land Parcel Identification System, must be completed before any payment can issue. This application was also randomly selected for an on farm inspection. During this inspection an issue arose in respect of the area claimed under Species Rich Grassland. As a result of this discrepancy the person named was informed that a penalty will be applied. An appeal was received by my Department in relation to this penalty and it is currently under review.

A 75% payment totalling €381.51 issued on 29 December 2011 to the person named in respect of 2010 and any remaining payments due will issue at the earliest opportunity once the appeal has been finalised.

Noxious Weeds

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

121 Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his attention has been drawn to the serious problem with the growth of ragwort around the countryside and roadsides, if he has any plans to deal with the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14839/12]

The Noxious Weeds Act 1936, as amended, provides for the control of the spread of noxious weeds including Ragwort. Under the Act, it is an offence not to prevent the spread of such noxious weeds. The owner, occupier, user or managers of lands on which these weeds are present are subject to the provisions of the Act, including a fine of up to €1,000 on conviction.

My Department actively seeks to enforce the provisions of the Act by issuing Notices to Destroy in all instances where it becomes aware of the presence of noxious weeds.

A total of 26 such Notices were issued in 2010 and a further 35 were issued in 2011. These notices are issued as a result of inspections carried out by my Department or on receipt of complaints made by the public.

Follow-up action may be undertaken by my Department with the land owner to ensure that the notifications are acted upon and that the particular weeds have been dealt with as stipulated in the Notice to Destroy.

Additionally, under the EU Single Farm Payment Scheme, farmers are obliged to keep their lands free from noxious weeds under the cross compliance measures of the scheme. Failure to do so may result in a reduction of their payment entitlements. In the years 2009, 2010 and 2011 penalties under the Single Payment were applied to 27, 31 and 46 farmers, respectively, for failure to take appropriate measures to prevent the proliferation of noxious weeds.

My Department continues to engage with local authorities and the National Roads Authority in relation to the treatment and disposal of noxious weeds on roadsides on an ongoing basis.

My Department has also conducted a number of public awareness campaigns in recent years to raise awareness of noxious weeds and to promote best practice with regard to their control and elimination.

Missing Children

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

122 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs when it is intended to have the 116000 missing children hotline up and running, in view of its importance in relation to finding missing children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14802/12]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

126 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will list the membership of the cross-sectoral project team tasked with advancing the 116000 missing children hotline; the number of times the group has met; the date on which the 116000 missing children hotline will be operational; the funding available for the continued operation of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14869/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 122 and 126 together.

My Department established and is leading a cross-sectoral Project Team, including representatives of my own Department, the Department of Justice and Equality, ComReg and An Garda Síochána to advance this matter. The project team has had three meetings since the 11th January 2012.

Comreg, who have responsibility for allocation of this number in Ireland, received an application to operate the Hotline from the ISPCC. Following cross departmental consultation and an examination of the issues involved by the Project team, Comreg has now allocated the number to the ISPCC. The ISPCC have undertaken to prepare an estimate of ongoing revenue funding costs for consideration by the Project Team.

In the coming months the Project Team will work to ensure that the Hotline becomes operational as soon as possible and operates in a way that supports and augments existing arrangements to secure child protection.

Advertising Standards

Jerry Buttimer

Ceist:

123 Deputy Jerry Buttimer asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the contact she has had with the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland regarding advertising which targets children, particularly advertising that promotes food and drink which are high in fat and sugar; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14665/12]

In August 2011, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) issued a consultation document on a Children's Commercial Communications Code and launched a related public consultation process on how food and drink should be commercially promoted to children in broadcast media.

I have been kept advised of progress on this consultation process.

The BAI has this week advised my Department that it is finalising a new draft code and it intends to initiate a new round of public consultation on this draft code in coming weeks.

I also wish to advise that as part of my Department's commitment to supporting participation by children in decision making, my Department has facilitated a submission by Dáil na nÓg, the national parliament for young people aged 12-18, to the BAI in relation to the consultation document on the Children's Commercial Communications Code.

Adoption Acts

Clare Daly

Ceist:

124 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs with whom responsibility rests for initiating prosecutions for breaches of the 1952 Adoption Act and all subsequent adoption legislation. [14760/12]

The Adoption Act 2010, was commenced on 1 November 2010. Prior to the commencement of this Act, adoption in Ireland was governed by the Adoption Acts 1952, 1964, 1974, 1976, 1988, 1991 and 1998. These Acts were repealed by the Adoption Act, 2010.

Part 15, Chapter 2 of the Adoption Act, 2010, sets out the offences, penalties and proceedings for offences. Having received a report it would be a matter for the Garda Síochána to investigate offences under the legislation. Decisions in relation to prosecution are a matter for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Youth Services

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

125 Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the position regarding advice and support in respect of a club (details supplied) in Dublin 5. [14806/12]

The Youth Affairs Unit of my Department provides a range of funding schemes, programmes and supports to the youth sector. Funding of some €56.626m is available in 2012 to support the provision of youth services and programmes to young people throughout the country including those from disadvantaged communities.

This funding supports the delivery of a range of youth work programmes and services for all young people, including those from disadvantaged communities, by the voluntary youth sector. The main objectives of the Youth Affairs area are to develop and implement coherent, coordinated and relevant youth policies and strategies to support the youth sector in providing effective non-formal education and developmental opportunities for young people through which they can enhance and develop their personal and social skills and competencies.

Support is provided to voluntary youth clubs through the Local Youth Club Grant Scheme and other such similar schemes which are administered by local Vocational Education Committees. The City of Dublin Youth Service Board (CDYSB) provides advice and support to local youth clubs through such a scheme.

The Youth Club referred to by the Deputy should contact CDYSB directly for advice and support at the following address: CDYSB, 70 Morehampton Road, Donnybrook, Dublin 4, Tel: 01-4321100.

Full details of the Schemes and Programmes administered by CDYSB are also available on their Website: www.cdysb.ie.

Other national youth organisations which could be contacted for support and advice are the National Youth Council of Ireland, Foróige and Youth Work Ireland. All of these organisations have dedicated websites with details of the services they offer.

Question No. 126 answered with Question No. 122.

Hospital Charges

Joan Collins

Ceist:

127 Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Health the position regarding inpatient charges in respect of a person (details supplied). [14658/12]

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

Patient Statistics

Jerry Buttimer

Ceist:

128 Deputy Jerry Buttimer asked the Minister for Health the statistics regarding the incidence of childhood type 2 diabetes over the past ten years; the number of cases diagnosed each year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14664/12]

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

Health Service Staff

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

129 Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health the steps the Health Service Executive is taking in Roscommon PCCC to fill vacant posts in the school health programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14713/12]

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

Health Service Allowances

Catherine Byrne

Ceist:

130 Deputy Catherine Byrne asked the Minister for Health if a couple registered as civil partners are entitled to claim together under the drug payment and long-term illness schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14723/12]

Following the commencement of the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010, the Health Service Executive permits couples registered as civil partners to claim together under the Drug Payment Scheme. This issue does not arise in relation to the Long Term Illness Scheme as claims are based on the individual's entitlement under this Scheme.

Services for People with Disabilities

Clare Daly

Ceist:

131 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health the reason the Health Service Executive has cut the starting rate for personal assistants coming into the service and reduced payment for Sundays from double time to time and a half in 2011; and if personal assistant services will be cut in 2012. [14734/12]

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

136 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Health his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding the Health Service Executive National Service Plan 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14753/12]

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

142 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health the reason personal assistance funding has been cut by 3.7% when it is a front-line service and the Health Service Executive 2012 Service Plan details a 3.7% reduction in funding for disability services that is primarily to be achieved through a rationalisation of back-office costs and other non-front-line services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14780/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 131, 136 and 142 together.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) National Service Plan for 2012 provides for a reduction of 3.7% in funding to specialist disability services. However, the Service Plan states that at least 2% of this should not impact on services and needs to be generated from other savings and increased efficiencies.

As part of the ongoing work of the HSE's National Consultative Forum on disability services, the HSE in conjunction with representative organisations, service providers and service users, has begun a process to identify and agree a framework for identifying and implementing cost efficiencies. The goal is to minimise the impact on services. This work will be progressed through the National Consultative Forum. In the interim, and in tandem with the work of the Forum and local discussions with individual agencies, agencies have had 3.7% reduced from their budget. Some reductions in services will be unavoidable even with such efficiencies and will arise in day services, residential and respite services.

The HSE provides a range of assisted living services, including Personal Assistant services, to support individuals to maximise their capacity to live full and independent lives. In 2011, a total of 1.68 million personal assistant / home support hours were provided to 11,571 persons with a physical and/or a sensory disability. Although the funding allocated to disability services has decreased by 3.7%, the HSE aims to minimise the impact this will have on services users and their families as much as possible. The HSE is in the process of negotiating with agencies providing personal assistant services around the unit cost of providing this service. Personal assistance services are provided by agencies grant aided under Section 39 of the Health Act 2004. Staff in such agencies are not public servants and are not encompassed within the arrangement for determining pay rates or terms and conditions of employment, applying to public sector employees.

Health Services

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Ceist:

132 Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Health if he will expedite an application for occupational therapy services in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14744/12]

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

Ambulance Service

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

133 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health the number of intermediate care vehicles in use and the number of intermediate care operatives specifically employed to operate them as part of the intermediate care services in Castleblayney, County Monaghan; the date on which these vehicles were purchased; the date on which they were first put into use; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14749/12]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

134 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health the number of intermediate care vehicles in use and the number of intermediate care operatives specifically employed to operate them as part of the intermediate care service in County Galway; the date on which these vehicles were purchased; the date on which they were first put into use; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14750/12]

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

135 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health the number of intermediate care vehicles in use and the number of intermediate care operatives specifically employed to operate them as part of the intermediate care service in County Limerick; the date on which these vehicles were purchased; the date on which they were first put into use; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14751/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 133 to 135, inclusive, together.

The NAS has developed a new model of service, the intermediate care service, in order to end the current practice of using emergency ambulances for inter-hospital transfers. This model has been developed following engagement with the HSE Clinical Care Programmes and individual hospitals. The foreseeable requirements for an intermediate care service have been based on the needs of hospitals, taking into account the impact of the HSE's Clinical Care Programmes and the Government's Employment Control Framework.

Despite these challenges, the NAS has, over the past year, successfully put in place an intermediate care service in areas such as Limerick, Castleblayney and Galway and has developed plans to put a long term service in place in Mallow, Roscommon and Bantry. Regarding the Deputy's query on the number of posts, as these are service matters, they have been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.

Question No. 136 answered with Question No. 131.

Hospital Staff

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

137 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health the number of consultant neurologists in the public health service in Ireland; the hospitals at which they work; if he considers this to be an adequate number per capita; his plans to deal with this shortfall and a timeline for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14757/12]

The HSE Clinical Programmes Directorate are currently developing appropriate models of care to ensure the delivery of safe and effective services across epilepsy, stroke services and neurology outpatient services. This programme of work is ongoing and will inform the most appropriate structure, staffing and organisation of services.

With regard to the detailed information sought by the Deputy, as they are service matters, they have been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Data Retention

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

138 Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health his plans to store historical and new Guthrie cards at Temple Street Children’s University Hospital, Dublin; the timeline and extent of the upcoming consultation in respect of same; if he has considered an opt-out clause on same, whereby all cards would be stored unless specifically requested by an individual or his or her parent or guardian that it should be destroyed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14761/12]

In late 2009, the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) received a complaint from a member of the public in relation to the retention of Newborn Screening Cards (NSCs). The basis of the complaint (which was upheld by the Data Protection Commissioner) was that the NSCs should not be retained indefinitely without consent as this constituted a breach of the Data Protection Acts 1998 and 2003. During 2010, a number of meetings were convened with the Deputy Data Protection Commissioner and representatives of the HSE, the DoH and CUH and Temple Street Hospital. A policy was agreed in conjunction with the DPC to address both the legislative and ethical requirements of the National Newborn Screening Programme.

In accordance with the policy, from July 1st 2011, the blood portion of the Newborn Screening Card (NSC) will be retained for 10 years and disposed of during the child's 11th year (for the purpose of confirming an initial diagnosis should this be deemed necessary). Parents/guardians are provided with specific information on the retention of the NSC's with regard to their use and written consent is sought in this regard. The changes to the NNBSP since 1st July 2011 bring about compliance with both national and EU data protection legislation, uphold ethical principles and meet ethical obligations with regard to consent, privacy and confidentiality.

The agreed policy also provided for the disposal of archived NSCs older than ten years. Following receipt of representations concerning the proposed destruction of archived Newborn Screening Cards, I requested the HSE to conduct a review of this decision. The report and recommendations of the review group were submitted to my office in January 2012. Having carefully considered the issue, I have accepted the recommendation of the review group, that in order to meet our legal and ethical responsibilities, newborn screening cards older than ten years will be destroyed. The international consensus clearly favours seeking explicit consent (rather than opt out) from an individual and/or their parent/guardian for use of their previously collected biological material (including NCSs) for any other purpose than for which it was collected.

The HSE is developing an information campaign offering members of the public the opportunity to have their screening card returned to them, prior to any destruction of the cards taking place.

Ambulance Service

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

139 Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the withdrawal of public 24 advanced life support cover from 19 March 2012 in Limerick; if his further attention has been drawn to the potential loss of life posed; if there is an alternative to replace this valuable local service which is without question vital to local paramedics; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14773/12]

The National Ambulance Service (NAS) provides pre-hospital emergency care and emergency and some non-emergency patient transport.

Supported by my Department and by HIQA, the NAS is working to improve the management and integration of its services. This includes a reduction to two ambulance control centres nationally, with appropriate technology, a clinical lead for pre-hospital care, development and implementation of new performance indicators for pre-hospital care and development of standard national criteria in relation to non-emergency patient transport. In addition, a number of new service types are being introduced, such as the use of rapid response vehicles where required and intermediate care services, for dedicated stretcher-based transport without the requirement for the use of emergency resources.

The NAS has undergone significant change in order to ensure quality, safety and value for money. In line with other clinical areas, this process is ongoing as clinical needs and standards develop. I believe that these developments are in the best interests of patients, and that they are a key part of the Government's work to ensure high quality emergency care.

NAS deploys resources on a dynamic basis to meet surges in demand and ensure spatial application of emergency cover. Resources in any given area can be supplemented by re-deploying available capacity from surrounding areas.

I am informed by the HSE NAS that the Limerick Rapid Response Vehicle (RRV) was put in place for a trial period of 25 weeks. The trial ends next week, and advanced life support delivery will continue on transfer from the single paramedic response in the RRV to delivery through the ambulance network. Advanced paramedics will continue to be deployed in emergency ambulances under the agreed National Ambulance Service National Framework Agreement Practitioner Deployment, which has been agreed with management and unions.

Hospital Services

Robert Dowds

Ceist:

140 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Health the hospitals in Dublin that provide treatment for patients from the Lucan area with cancer diagnoses. [14775/12]

The Deputy's question relates to service delivery matters and accordingly I have asked the HSE to respond directly to him.

Hospital Transfers

Robert Dowds

Ceist:

141 Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Health the procedures for transferring patients between hospitals in Dublin for specialist treatment. [14776/12]

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

Question No. 142 answered with Question No. 131.

Hospitals Building Programme

Patrick Nulty

Ceist:

143 Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Health how he and the Health Service Executive intend to build the Corduff primary health care centre, Dublin, following the failure of the recent public private partnership tender process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14781/12]

Patrick Nulty

Ceist:

144 Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Health the amount of money in the capital budget that has been allocated for the construction of primary health care centres from 2012 to 2016, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14782/12]

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

Following the publication of the "Infrastructure and Capital Investment 2012-2016: Medium Term Exchequer Framework", the Health Service Executive commenced drawing up its capital programme for the multi-annual period 2012-2016. The Executive is required to prioritise the capital infrastructure projects within its overall capital funding allocation taking into account the existing capital commitments and costs to completion over the period. A draft capital plan for the period 2012-2016 has been submitted to my Department. My Department is reviewing the proposals and following up with the HSE where further details may be required.

The proposed plan requires my approval with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. Details of the plan will be published by the Executive following its approval.

Health Services

Billy Timmins

Ceist:

145 Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Health the position regarding speech therapy in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wicklow. [14794/12]

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

Departmental Reports

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

146 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Health if he has commissioned a report into an outbreak of Clostridium difficile in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, County Louth, in 2010; if that report has been completed; if the report has been forwarded to him; the outcome and findings of that report; if any patient deaths were related or linked to the outbreak; if so, the number of same; if the report will be made public; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14816/12]

The HSE commissioned a report into the outbreak of Clostridium difficile in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda. This report is not yet complete. I have no comment to make on the matter until such time as a final report has been presented to me.

Accident and Emergency Services

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

147 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Health the impact of the measures implemented on foot of recommendations by the special delivery unit for the purposes of reducing waiting times and the number of patients on trolleys in the accident and emergency unit at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, County Louth; with respect to each of the individual measures proposed by the SDU, if he will report on the extent to which the measures were fully implemented; if he will give an assessment of the success of the measures; if measures were not implemented, the reason they were not implemented; if he will provide an overall assessment of the success of the measures in reducing the number of patients waiting on trolleys in the accident and emergency unit; if any or all of the measures remain in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14817/12]

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

148 Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Health his views on whether there is a lack of capacity and resources at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, County Louth, and in hospitals in the Louth-Meath area generally, which is resulting in overcrowding in the accident and emergency unit in Drogheda; the measures he will introduce to tackle this capacity issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14818/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 147 and 148 together.

The Special Delivery Unit (SDU) approved funding for the Louth Meath Hospital Group in October 2011 to facilitate the implementation of an improvement plan to manage the current Emergency Department (ED) overcrowding situation in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda. This involved implementation of the recommendations of the Report of the Acute Medicine Project 2010 and initiatives to increase the efficiency of the discharge process for patients thereby improving access to inpatient beds for admitted patients in the ED. This has enabled a number of service developments which include the following:

The establishment of an Acute Medical Assessment Unit (AMAU) to streamline the management of medical patients who present to the ED for treatment. The AMAU opened in OLOL on 8 December 2012 and the hours of services are from Monday to Friday 08:00-24:00 hours. It is envisaged that this Unit will open at the weekends and will also provide a direct G.P. access referral service in the very near future as staff are recruited.

An extension of the cardiac and respiratory diagnostic service which has increased the efficiency of the decision making process in regard to initiation of treatment and hence a decision regarding discharge or admission to hospital.

Additional Bed Capacity: The medical bed capacity was increased by the opening of 8 additional medical beds that were developed as part of the Coronary Care capital development project.

Additional Intermediate Care Beds in the Community: The contracting of 27 additional beds from community/private providers was also approved to allow additional delayed discharge patients to be moved to create immediate acute bed capacity in OLOL. These beds continue to be utilised.oo

Additional assisted Discharge Service: A number of assisted discharge services were also approved and continue to expedite the discharge of patients who require any or a combination of these services in order to be discharged from hospital. These include funding for the provision of home IVs for patients who can be discharged and continue to receive antibiotics intravenously while at home.

1,126 additional home care/help packages and funding for additional aids and appliances has also been made available to assist and expedite the discharge process.

Phase two of the SDU's initiatives to manage the current ED overcrowding involves improving the care pathway for management of elderly patients in both the community and in hospital. The Louth Meath Integrated Service Area were invited to submit a proposal with focused initiatives which will reduce the risks of avoidable admissions to hospital facilitating timely discharge and minimising premature dependence on long term care.

The SDU will continue to work with the NTPF, the HSE Clinical Programmes and hospitals to minimise patient waiting times in emergency departments and reduce waiting periods for in patient and day case elective surgical care.

Medical Cards

Bernard J. Durkan

Ceist:

149 Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health when a medical card will issue in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14849/12]

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

Vehicle Clamping

Joe Higgins

Ceist:

150 Deputy Joe Higgins asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the regulations that exist for private clamping companies. [14742/12]

At present there is no legislation regulating the operation of private clamping operators. The current laws only provide for clamping by local authorities, or those acting as their agents, on public roads and in local authority car parks. This leaves unregulated the whole area of clamping on private property.

In line with the commitment in the Programme for Government to regulate the vehicle clamping industry, I presented a discussion document to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Environment, Transport, Culture and the Gaeltacht in December 2011 in which I outlined the issues which I feel need to be addressed in regulating the industry, my proposals on the shape of appropriate legislation and inviting their views. I understand that the Committee has consulted with a number of relevant stakeholders in the matter and is due to report back to me shortly.

When the Committee's response had been received, I will submit draft legislation to the Government for approval and I hope to be in a position to bring a Bill before the Oireachtas this year.

Taxi Regulation

Terence Flanagan

Ceist:

151 Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will review the impact on the livelihoods or investments of many taxi drivers of the proposal contained in the report by the review group on taxi regulation to abolish the market in taxi-plate-only rentals; if he will reconsider the proposal to abolish this sector of the industry (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14659/12]

Peter Mathews

Ceist:

154 Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans regarding the review group on taxi regulation (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14715/12]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 151 and 154 together.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) is responsible for the regulation of the taxi sector and is also the lead Agency with responsibility for the implementation of the proposals of the Taxi Regulation Review Report.

I should add that the focus of the Taxi Regulation Review, which I chaired, was to enable the necessary further reforms of the sector, to allow consumers to have confidence in the taxi system while also ensuring that legitimate and competent operators and drivers can be rewarded fairly by operating under a regulatory framework that is adequately enforced.

The proposal in the Taxi Regulation Review Report to prohibit taxi plate rental in favour of ‘full package' taxi rental is targeted towards a more professional taxi rental sector and will include requirements that the person/entity providing the rental

is tax compliant and of appropriate character;

has responsibility for the condition of the vehicle at the time of rental and can only rent a vehicle in roadworthy condition;

provides insurance on the vehicle for the rental period; and,

must own both the vehicle and the SPSV licence.

As part of the development of this proposal, consideration will be given to introducing a new licence to operate a taxi rental business, without which it would be illegal to rent out taxis.

Road Traffic Offences

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

152 Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when he intends to commence section 38 of the Road Traffic Act 2010, which will close the loophole whereby some drivers are getting their cases struck out by claiming they did not receive the notice to pay their fine in the post and therefore did not have a chance to pay the fine before being summoned to court; the reason there has been such a delay in commencing this section of the 2010 Act; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14662/12]

Further to my reply to Question No. 783 on 28 February 2012, Part 3, which includes section 38, of the Road Traffic Act 2010, which deals with changes to the fixed charge system, will be commenced when the necessary administrative and technical arrangements are in place to allow its effective implementation. My Department, the Courts Service and the Gardaí are progressing work in this regard in order to commence the relevant sections of the Road Traffic Act 2010 as soon as possible.

Sports Capital Programme

Patrick Nulty

Ceist:

153 Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if sports capital funding will be available in 2012; when this money will be available; how interested organisations seeking this funding may lodge an application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14677/12]

I recently announced that I will be advertising two new rounds of the Sports Capital Programme between now and 2016. I am currently making the necessary arrangements with a view to launching the next round of the SCP shortly. Once these necessary arrangements are in place I will make the relevant announcement.

Question No. 154 answered with Question No. 151.

Tourism Industry

Clare Daly

Ceist:

155 Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will intervene with Dublin Tourism to return the Fry Model Railway to Malahide in order that the €1.5 million upgrade of the Casino can take place to house it, in accordance with the terms of the will of a local benefactor, which will provide an important boost to tourism in the area at no extra cost to the taxpayer. [14774/12]

I understand that Fáilte Ireland are in advanced negotiations regarding the best possible future use and promotion of the Fry Model Railway and hope that the matter will be concluded over the coming weeks. Any final agreement reached will be in keeping with the terms of the covenant which originally bestowed it to the State and will involve the model railway being available for the public to view in its entirety.

Accordingly, I have asked Fáilte Ireland to reply to the Deputy on this matter. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply in ten working days.

Vehicle Clamping

Seán Kenny

Ceist:

156 Deputy Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if there is a legal basis for the operation of the private car clamping sector; and the charges it extorts from private motorists. [14796/12]

At present there is no legislation regulating the operation of private clamping operators. The current laws only provide for clamping by local authorities, or those acting as their agents, on public roads and in local authority car parks. This leaves unregulated the whole area of clamping on private property.

In line with the commitment in the Programme for Government to regulate the vehicle clamping industry, I presented a discussion document to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Environment, Transport, Culture and the Gaeltacht in December 2011 in which I outlined the issues which I feel need to be addressed in regulating the industry, my proposals on the shape of appropriate legislation and inviting their views. I understand that the Committee has consulted with a number of relevant stakeholders in the matter and is due to report back to me shortly.

When the Committee's response had been received, I will submit draft legislation to the Government for approval and I hope to be in a position to bring a Bill before the Oireachtas this year.

Tourism Industry

Michelle Mulherin

Ceist:

157 Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport what application has been made to his Department or Fáilte Ireland for the funding of West Fest in County Mayo in summer 2012 by Ballina Chamber of Commerce, Mayo County Council, Ballina Town Council or the festival organisers. [14797/12]

The matter raised is an operational matter for Fáilte Ireland. I have referred the Deputy's Question to Fáilte Ireland for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Shane Ross

Ceist:

158 Deputy Shane Ross asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the amount being spent by Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland on the promotion of the English language training sector and of the golfing sector, respectively, each year for the past three years and the revenue generated by these sectors each year. [14810/12]

The matter raised is an operational one for Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland. I have referred the Deputy's Question to the agencies for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Coast Guard Service

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

159 Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if it is intended to provide a coast guard station in west Connemara in the Cleggan area; the progress made with such a project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14822/12]

The Cleggan Volunteer Coast Guard Unit, which is designated as a shoreline search unit, is currently operating out of an old Coast Guard station, sometimes called the Rocket House. It is one of a number of Coast Guard Units around the coast operating from Rocket Houses that have been identified for upgrade.

Funds are not available for the Cleggan upgrade in the current capital envelope as the building projects at Killybegs, Doolin and Greystones will take priority. Additionally the current site of the Unit has been deemed unsuitable for an upgrade project and a new location will need to be identified locally by the OPW.

Barr