Writtens Answers Nos. 368-389

Family Income Supplement Applications

Patrick O'Donovan

Ceist:

368. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding family income supplement in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wexford; when payment will be reinstated; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10097/13]

The person concerned applied to have their family income supplement (FIS) payment renewed with effect from 18 October 2012.

Following this re-application, the case of the person concerned was referred to a social welfare inspector to establish and confirm the position regarding family income.

The inspector has been in touch with the person concerned and has arranged an interview to establish the current position regarding their family income. Once the inspector’s report is finalised a decision on the entitlement of the person concerned to FIS will be made without delay. The person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

Departmental Websites

Jim Daly

Ceist:

369. Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Social Protection her plans to facilitate online applications for benefits noting that in excess of two million claims for payment are made each year; if there is a proposed timeline for the introduction of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10104/13]

The Public Service Reform plan highlights information and communications technologies (ICT) as key enablers to delivering improved public services. The Department recognises that implementation of the ICT elements of the reform plan will ensure a strong focus on the customer and that better and more innovative use is made of technology to improve the customer experience. To this end, the Department’s commitments under the Government strategy document eGovernment 2012-2015 were published by the Department of Public Expenditure & Reform on 23rd January 2013 on the eGovernment reporting website e.gov.ie.

The Department’s eGovernment plans reflect the major programme of business, organisational and technological change underway as it transforms from a passive transaction focused model of income support to a proactive model which is customer centric and progressive. Fundamental to this is developing customer contact channels that maximise customer service and minimise cost of delivery, including online services.

Visits to the Department’s website have increased from 3.2 million visits in 2010 to 4 million visits in 2011, and some 5 million visits in 2012. A project to redesign www.welfare.ie was completed in December 2012 and the new website provides a more dynamic, user-friendly interface for customers, particularly jobseekers, with improved accessibility and search functionality. The new website reflects the extended role and functions of the Department which now includes the Rural Social Scheme and Community Services programme, the Redundancy and Insolvency Payments schemes, the Community Welfare Service and, most notably, the Employment Service programmes. Extensive information on social protection schemes and services is provided on www.welfare.ie and the website will continue to be updated as schemes and services change.

There are a range of online services available on www.welfare.ie. These secure services include online claiming for State Pension Contributory, Child Benefit, Widow(er) or Surviving Partner's (Contributory) Pension, and Redundancy and Insolvency Payments. Online claiming for Jobseekers is also available in 59 local offices.

The new website includes a dedicated sub-site www.intreo.ie providing a single point of information, and access to services, as part of the recently launched Intreo integrated employment and income supports service under the Pathways to Work programme. In addition the 'Find a Job' service on the homepage of www.welfare.ie provides access to an extensive job bank currently hosted at www.jobseeker.fas.ie. Over the coming months and year, as the Pathways to Work programme progresses and the Intreo service is rolled out nationwide, the number and range of online services will be increased.

Potential customer authentication mechanisms under the Public Service Card rollout are also being explored. This will influence the range and type of new online services developed by the Department, including online services for jobseekers.

As well as providing applications for benefits online the Department provides a range of other online services available from the home page of www.welfare.ie. These include ‘close my claim’ for jobseekers; request a statement of payment; report suspected fraud; request a copy of social insurance record; request an application form; make a comment or complaint; and ask a question.

Under the Department’s new Customer Action Plan 2013–2015, which is due for publication in Quarter 1 2013, the Department will seek to progress and broaden the range of online services available. The Customer Action Plan has been developed taking account of best practice in this area and involved consultation with members of the public, representative groups and staff of the Department.

I am satisfied that the Department is continuing to seek to develop the range of online services available to our customers in order to secure service improvements and efficiencies.

Social Welfare Benefits Applications

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

370. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection if the existence of extenuating circumstances in the form of a serious illness will be taken into consideration as an admissible explanation for their absence from this jurisdiction and retention of their deserted wife's benefit in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10153/13]

The position remains the same as that detailed in my previous response to the Deputy’s Parliamentary Question No 4326/13 on 29th January 2013 regarding this matter.

The review undertaken and the termination of this person’s claim was not connected with her need to care for the ill relative abroad: her payment was suspended in July because she failed to reply to the Department’s correspondence.

The person concerned was requested to provide certain documentation in support of her continued entitlement. As of today no documentation has been received and the Deciding Officer is not in a position to review claimant’s entitlement.

Departmental Agencies Staff Remuneration

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

371. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will provide details of the payment of bonuses or other performance related payments and or allowances made to the staff of agencies under the aegis of her Department with a yearly breakdown from 2008 outlining the overall amount paid in each year period and the number of staff that received such payments and or allowances. [10171/13]

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

372. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will provide details of payments made to the CEO or equivalent of all agencies under the aegis of her Department including details of any bonuses, pension entitlements or any other remuneration paid to him or her in 2012. [10188/13]

I propose to take Question Nos. 371 and 372 together.

The Agencies that operate under the aegis of the Department are the Pensions Board and the Citizens Information Board. The Office of the Pensions Ombudsman also falls under the remit of the Department.

Since 2009, there have been no performance related bonuses to any staff in the organisations concerned. The only bonus paid in respect of performance in 2008 was to the Chief Executive Officer in the Pensions Board who received a bonus of €6,179 in 2009. As the Pensions Board is not funded by the Exchequer, this was not paid for by the State.

The CEOs and the Pensions Ombudsman are ordinary members of their organisations superannuation schemes and their entitlements do not extend beyond the normal entitlements of the standard public/civil service superannuation scheme.

The remuneration, which comprises basic salary for the CEOs and Pensions Ombudsman in respect of 2012 was as follows:

CEO in the Pensions Board - €153,885

CEO in the Citizens information Board - €117,570

Pensions Ombudsman - €125,655

Rent Supplement Scheme Eligibility

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

373. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the correct level of rent allowance payable in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10202/13]

The person concerned is no longer at the address that he originally applied for rent supplement from. The client must make an application for rent supplement before our Department can establish an entitlement. All information in relation to the access of his children must also accompany this application. If the person concerned wishes to apply for rent supplement he should complete an application form and return it to the Central Rents Unit, PO Box 11758, Dublin 24.

Questions Nos. 374 and 375 withdrawn.

Invalidity Pension Applications

Jim Daly

Ceist:

376. Deputy Jim Daly asked the Minister for Social Protection the reason she refused an application for invalidity pension in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork who is incapable of work; the reason she did not order a medical assessment of the person before a decision was made; if she will clarify the payment available to a person that has been on illness benefit for a period of 24 months and is still incapable of work; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10287/13]

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

This department received a claim for invalidity pension for the person concerned on 21September 2012. The medical evidence provided by the claimant in support of his claim for invalidity pension was examined by a medical assessor who was of the opinion that the person concerned is not eligible as he does not satisfy the medical criteria. The application for invalidity pension was, accordingly, disallowed by a deciding officer. The applicant was notified of this decision on 6 December 2012 and advised of his right to request a review of the decision and also of his right to lodge an appeal with the social welfare appeals office. To date no correspondence has been received from the person concerned.

Customers waiting for the outcome of a review, who have urgent income support needs, can apply for the means tested supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) from their local Community Welfare Officer.

Exceptional Needs Payment Eligibility

Seamus Healy

Ceist:

377. Deputy Seamus Healy asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will withdraw S.W.A. Circular No 1/2013 Paragraph 4.1 which abolishes exceptional needs payments to needy families for communion and confirmation, particularly in view of the fact that child benefit payments have again been reduced in 2013; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10314/13]

Under the supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) scheme, the Department may make a single exceptional needs payment (ENP) to help meet essential, once-off, exceptional and unforeseen expenditure which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet out of their weekly income. There is no automatic entitlement to a payment. ENPs are payable at the discretion of the officers administering the scheme taking into account the requirements of the legislation and all the relevant circumstances of the case in order to ensure that the payments target those most in need of assistance. The Government has provided €47.6m for the scheme in 2013.

A review of the guidelines on exceptional needs payments was carried out by the Department by a working group made up of former community welfare service staff. One of the recommendations emanating from this review is to address the different approaches taken, in different areas, in relation to the payment of ENPs in respect of religious ceremonies, mainly Communions and Confirmations and to ensure that the SWA scheme is responding to financial need and not occasions.

For 2013, the Department has recommended that payment of the allowance specifically in respect of religious ceremonies will cease. Applications can continue to be made under the scheme for assistance with child clothing.

I have no plans to reverse this position as these measures will ensure that the ENP Scheme will continue to respond to specific need and not to the occasion.

Persons who consider that they have an entitlement to an ENP under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme should contact the local officials administering the scheme.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

378. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection the progress made on an appeal for carer's allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10357/13]

The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal, by the person concerned, was registered in that office on 17th January 2013. 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 case will be referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral hearing.

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

Wildlife Protection

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

379. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if his attention has been drawn to the increase in the number of dead seals found on Irish coasts in the past 12 months, monitored by the Irish Seal Sanctuary who have reported some seals with wounds consistent with gunshot wounds, others with injuries and damage and euthanised by a vet; and the action he will take to prevent and reduce the incidents of seal deaths across the country. [9741/13]

Seals are protected under the Wildlife Acts and their key habitats require protection under the EU Habitats Directive.

My Department was greatly concerned about the situation in Waterford in February 2012 where dead seals were found washed up on shore at that time. Officials worked with An Garda Síochána and others to investigate the deaths of these seals, including the possibility that they were killed illegally. However, as it was not possible to determine exactly when or where the seals had died in this case, it was not possible to bring prosecutions.

In recent months, officials of my Department have responded to information received from the Irish Seal Sanctuary and others regarding dead seals on the Waterford and Wexford coasts. These specimens have also been investigated but none were confirmed to have sustained gunshot wounds. One specimen was the subject of a necropsy examination. In this case, the cause of death appeared to be linked to neoplasia or cancerous growths.

Departmental officials working in coastal areas remain particularly vigilant during the seal breeding season and will continue to work closely with other law enforcement authorities in such situations.

Architectural Heritage

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

380. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the position regarding renovation works at Killarney House, County Kerry; if he will give a full account of works and expenditure to date and works and expenditure to come; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9561/13]

In 2011, I announced a major refurbishment programme for Killarney House and its ornamental grounds and gardens. The House will be developed as the main visitor and interpretative centre for the National Park, highlighting the beauty and interpreting the richness and significance of the Park's landscapes, habitats, flora and fauna, as well as telling the story of human interaction with the Park over the centuries. It is also intended that some of the formal rooms will be restored to their former glory.

This is a major project for my Department and involves collaboration with OPW, as the project managers, and Fáilte Ireland, which has committed funding of €5.2 million under its Tourism Capital Investment Programme.

A phased approach to the restoration has been adopted and, to date, two contracts totalling €1,027,767 (excl. VAT) have been awarded for Phase I and Phase II works. These first two phases were required to safeguard the structural integrity and to create the optimal internal layout of the House in preparation for the full restoration works. Phase I was completed early last year and Phase II is due to be completed this week.

The next phases of works will include the full refurbishment of the main building; the construction of a new extension; the exhibition fit-out; and extensive landscaping and other works to the ornamental grounds and gardens. Planning permission has already been granted for works to the ornamental grounds and gardens. I am advised that a planning application for the major element of the House restoration project is being finalised by OPW at present. It is planned that substantive works on both the house and gardens will progress in the latter half of 2013, with completion planned for 2014.

National Parks Projects

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

381. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the position regarding a project (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9563/13]

The Deputy will appreciate that, given the constraints that apply to a "details supplied" Question, I am precluded from providing as much information in my response as I might wish.

Having regard to the ecological considerations associated with the project referred to, the task of delivering it will need careful consideration and planning. The project will involve the collaboration of a number of stakeholders and, to this end, in July 2012 I convened a Steering Group involving representatives of those stakeholders. The Steering Group has been charged with the development and roll-out of the project, and will oversee the detailed design and planning required, thus ensuring that local knowledge of the area is incorporated into the development process.

In order to ensure that the project is delivered as efficiently and quickly as possible, it has been broken down into various components or modules. This modular approach has allowed the advancement of some components, while the necessary consultations, assessments and planning required for the other more complicated aspects of the plan are moved along in parallel. At this stage, I am satisfied that significant progress is being made and, insofar as possible within the constraints of the public finances, I will seek to ensure that there are no avoidable delays in bringing the project to completion.

Gníomhaireachtaí Rannach

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

382. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Dara Calleary den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta cén méid airgid in aghaidh na cóipe a thugann Foras na Gaeilge mar mhaoiniú ar fhoilseacháin, amhail Gaelscéal, Comhar, Feasta agus aon fhoilseacháin eile. [9726/13]

Tuigim ó Fhoras na Gaeilge go gcuirtear maoiniú ar fáil d'irisí áirithe chun freastal ar shainmhargaí ar leith. Is sainmhargaí iad seo nach ndéanfaí freastal, nó an freastal céanna, orthu gan an maoiniú sin. Mar shampla, tá cáil ar leith ar chuid de na hirisí liteartha ar nós Comhar. Bíonn irisí eile dírithe ar riachtanais earnálacha agus eagraíochtúla, ar nós Feasta agus An tUltach. Is scéim phíolótach atá i gceist le NÓSmag, iris atá dírithe ar shainspéiseanna na hóige. Mar chuid den chonradh, cuirtear na seaneagráin den iris, mar aon le blaiseadh den eagrán is deireanaí, ar fáil don phobal saor in aisce ar líne.

Ní miste a shoiléiriú nach ionann an nuachtán Gaelscéal agus na hirisí eile atá luaite ag an Teachta. Murab ionann is Gaelscéal, ní dhíoltar na hirisí sin sna siopaí ach cuirtear iad ar fáil ar bhonn síntiúis bliana. Tuigtear dom gur chuir Foras na Gaeilge maoiniú de €400,000 ar fáil don nuachtán Gaelscéal in 2012 agus gurb é an meándíolachán a bhí air ná 1,314 cóip in aghaidh na seachtaine.

Ó thaobh irisí de, leagtar amach sa tábla seo a leanas an maoiniú a chuir Foras na Gaeilge ar fáil dóibh in 2012:

Irisí

Maoiniú in 2012

Comhar

€80,000

Feasta

€41,487

NÓSmag* (Bealtaine-Nollaig)

€24,000

An tUltach

€17,108

An Timire

€3,326

An Sagart

€2,622

Departmental Bodies Expenditure

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Ceist:

383. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will quantify and set out in itemised detail pertaining and relevant individually to each body and institution under his remit the €1 million he has stated he expects from savings that will be made initially across the institutions involved in the public sector reform programme which are funded from his Department's Vote group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9780/13]

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Ceist:

384. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will quantify and set out in itemised detail the further savings he states he expects from the public sector reform programme of the cultural institutions under his remit over and above the €1 million he estimates in savings from that programme as the various cost-saving measures are implemented going forward; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9781/13]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 383 and 384 together.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Public Service Reform Plan published by the Government on 17th November 2011 outlined a series of rationalisation measures, some of which related to a number of the bodies funded from my Department's Vote Group. In this regard, my Department conducted a critical examination of the structure and operation of the bodies included in the Public Service Reform Plan and developed a comprehensive and practical approach to the implementation of the various Government Decisions in this area, which was endorsed by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

Summary documents which outline the main outcomes of this examination in relation to the relevant bodies and institutions have been published on my Department's website.

The Deputy should note that savings of €20 million in enhanced service efficiencies and value-for-money were targeted in the Public Service Reform Plan. In this context, it is expected that savings in the region of approximately €1m will be made initially across the institutions involved in the reform programme which are funded from my Department's Vote Group.

Savings are being made primarily in three key ways:

- Ending of payments to chairpersons and members of boards or advisory councils – it is expected that approximately €300,000 will be saved in this regard.

- Implementation of a programme of shared services between institutions, including, for example, in retail, security, marketing, procurement and storage – it is expected that approximately €150,000 per annum will be achieved.

- Provision of services by my Department to some institutions, including human resources services and financial services, thereby relieving those institutions of the need to incur a cost in accessing these services – creating estimated savings of €550,000.

My Department is working closely with the Directors of the relevant institutions and bodies to progress the reform programme and real progress is being made across all the bodies concerned.

Waterways Ireland Feasibility Study

Robert Troy

Ceist:

385. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the reason the Waterways Feasibility Study was not carried out in 2012 as previously suggested. [9956/13]

I assume the Deputy is referring to the feasibility study of an extension of the Longford Branch of the Royal Canal.

I can confirm to the Deputy that the Waterways Ireland Corporate Plan for the period 2011-2013, which has been approved by the North/South Ministerial Council, states that Waterways Ireland will complete the feasibility study of an extension of the Longford Branch of the Royal Canal with a target date of December 2013. I understand that work is on target in this regard.

Irish Language Issues

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

386. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he has had any recent discussions with members of the Northern Ireland Executive in relation to the Irish Language Act; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10107/13]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 171 on 20 December 2012.

In the context of the Good Friday Agreement and the St. Andrews Agreement, the Government continues to follow developments closely in relation to the proposed Irish Language Act in Northern Ireland, as well as the overall enhancement and protection of the Irish language in that jurisdiction. The Government remains fully committed to the implementation of those Agreements, including the provisions relating to the Irish language. All parties to the Good Friday Agreement recognised the importance of respect, understanding and tolerance in relation to linguistic diversity, including in Northern Ireland, the Irish language and the languages of the various ethnic communities, as part of the cultural wealth of the island of Ireland. Under that Agreement, the British government committed to a range of measures to promote the Irish language and to facilitate and encourage its use in public and private life, where there is appropriate demand. In the St. Andrews Agreement, the British Government committed to introducing an Irish Language Act reflecting on the experience of Wales and Ireland and to working with the Northern Ireland Executive to enhance and protect the development of the Irish language. Since the restoration of the devolved institutions on 8 May 2007, the question of an Irish Language Act for Northern Ireland is a devolved matter and is the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Executive.

In terms of recent developments, I should mention that my counterpart, the Northern Ireland Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, Ms Carál Ní Chuilín, MLA, launched a public consultation process in 2012 on a draft Strategy for protecting and enhancing the development of the Irish language in Northern Ireland. This public consultation process ended on 27 November 2012. I understand that the development of such a Strategy is a commitment in the Northern Ireland Executive's Programme for Government 2011-2015 .

The Deputy will appreciate that matters relating to the Irish language are discussed regularly at meetings with Minister Ní Chuilín and her Department, and indeed within the context of the North South Ministerial Council meeting in language sectoral format. The next such meeting of the Council is due to take place on 6 March 2013.

Departmental Agencies Staff Remuneration

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

387. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will provide details of the payment of bonuses or other performance related payments and or allowances made to the staff of agencies under the aegis of his Department with a yearly breakdown from 2008 outlining the overall amount paid in each year period and the number of staff that received such payments and or allowances. [10159/13]

I am advised that payments of the nature referred to by the Deputy in bodies/agencies funded from my Department's Vote Group during the period in question were as listed below. No other such payments arise in the years 2008-2012.

Irish Film Board:

2008 - bonus payment of €22,275 to CEO

National Concert Hall:

2008 - bonus payment of €18,500 to Director

2008 - merit payments totalling €55,110 to 128 staff

2009 - merit payments totalling €32,950 to 114 staff

2010 - merit payments totalling €34,481 to 111 staff

2011 - merit payments totalling €31,038 to 112 staff

2012 - merit payments totalling €27,863 to 105 staff

Údaras na Gaeltachta:

2008 - bonus payment of €26,134 to CEO

2008 - merit payments totalling €84,050 to 15 staff

2009 - bonus payment of €26,134 to CEO

Ulster-Scots Agency:

2008 - merit payments totalling £4,380stg to 5 staff

Waterways Ireland:

2008 - bonus payment of £8,000stg to CEO (in respect of 2006)

2010 – bonus payment of £8,500stg to CEO (in respect of 2007)

Departmental Agencies Staff Remuneration

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

388. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will provide details of payments made to the CEO or equivalent of all agencies under the aegis of his Department including details of any bonuses, pension entitlements or any other remuneration paid to him or her in 2012. [10176/13]

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the table below. The Deputy should note that all payments were made in line with sanctions received and that no bonus payments were made in 2012 to any CEOs/Directors in bodies/agencies funded from my Department's Vote Group.

Body

Payments in 2012

(Salary unless indicated)

Arts Council

€85,538

Ulster-Scots Agency

£45,927(sterling)

Irish Film Board

€101,234

Chester Beatty Library

€96,295

Crawford Art Gallery

€76,058

Foras na Gaeilge

€121,118

Heritage Council

€116,795

Irish Museum of Modern Art*

€57,002 (23/4/2012-31/12/2012)

National Concert Hall

€108,488 (comprising €97,000 salary, €10,670 pension contribution, €818 health insurance)

National Library of Ireland

€96,514

National Museum of Ireland**

Former Director (1/1/12-29/02/12) €20,072

Acting Director (1/3/12-31/3/12) €85,472, including acting-up allowance of €2,478

Údarás na Gaeltachta

Interim CEO (1/1/12-30/4/12) €20,916 ***

New CEO (1/6/12-31/12/12) €78,750

Waterways Ireland

£92,636 (sterling)

National Gallery of Ireland

€76,940 (16/4/12-31/12/12)

National Archives**

Acting Director €86,932, including acting-up allowance of €9,056

*Position vacant from 1/1/12 to 23/4/12.

**Posts currently being filled on an acting basis under sanction.

***The former CEO was re-engaged as interim CEO for a 4 month period, with the pension abatement principle being applied.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Scheme

Finian McGrath

Ceist:

389. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will respond to the documentation (details supplied) regarding OFTEC Ireland. [9653/13]

Michael McCarthy

Ceist:

395. Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his plans to establish a mandatory registration scheme for the oil heating and cooking industry here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9811/13]

Michael Creed

Ceist:

396. Deputy Michael Creed asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he proposes to introduce a registration scheme for oil heating engineers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9834/13]

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

397. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his plans to set up a mandatory register of oil installers and service technicians in 2013 similiar to that which applies for RGII and RECI; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9844/13]

Nicky McFadden

Ceist:

398. Deputy Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will establish a registration scheme similar to RGII and RECI to regulate oil boiler installation and servicing workers in order to ensure that only competent technicians are permitted to install, commission and service heating appliances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9862/13]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 389 and 395 to 398, inclusive, together.

I assume that the Deputies are referring to the potential dangers that may result from faulty installations, especially carbon monoxide gas, which would be dangerous to people in their homes and at their places of work. In that regard, I was pleased to launch the first Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week on the 24th September 2012. The Awareness Week saw a sustained, multi-media publicity campaign to alert people to the dangers posed by carbon monoxide and to give them advice as to what they should do to be safe. The issue was widely reported on television, on national and local radio and in both national and local press.

In respect of the possibility for a mandatory registration scheme for oil technicians, similar to those in place for the gas (RGII) and electricity (RECI) industries, I have asked my officials to meet with industry representatives to discuss the matter and I await the outcome of such discussions.