Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (90)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

90. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Skills the current position in relation to the construction of a new school at a location (details supplied) in County Westmeath; if he will indicate a firm timeframe when such school should be constructed and ready for occupation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18054/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The school project referred to by the Deputy is included in the 5 year construction programme announced in March 2012 and is scheduled to progress to construction in 2015/16. The delivery of this school has been devolved to Westmeath County Council who are in the process of appointing the Design Team. Details of all school building projects included in the 5 year construction programme are available on my Department's website at www.education.ie

School Transport Provision

Ceisteanna (91)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

91. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will, arising from changes in the primary school transport scheme for 2011/2012, review the extent to which such changes are likely to impact negatively on a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18067/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Changes to my Department's Primary School Transport Scheme were announced in Budget 2011 and derived from recommendations contained in the Value for Money review of the scheme. The changes announced covered the uniform application of the distance eligibility criterion, the cessation of the Closed/Central School Rule (CSR), an increase from seven to ten in the minimum number of eligible children required to establish or retain a service and the introduction of charges for eligible primary children. These changes to school transport provision are applied uniformly and equitably on a national basis.

Bus Éireann, which operates the School Transport Scheme on behalf of my Department, has advised that they have not received an application for primary school transport from the family in question.

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

Ceisteanna (92)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

92. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the financial support available to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18072/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The student referred to by the Deputy should contact the SUSI Helpdesks in relation to making enquiries to complete a grant application form in order to determine his eligibility for student support.

While maintenance support is not available for students entering approved postgraduates courses, those who meet the qualifying conditions for the special rate of grant under the Student Grant Scheme 2012 may be eligible to have their post-graduate tuition fees paid up to the maximum fee limit of €6,270. Postgraduate students may qualify to have a €2,000 contribution made towards the costs of their fees where they meet the relevant terms and conditions. The income threshold for this payment is €31,500 for the 2012/13 academic year, increasing relative to the number of family dependents.

Tax relief is also available on postgraduate tuition fees. Details in relation to this relief are available from the Revenue Commissioners. In addition, the Student Assistance Fund will continue to be made available through the access offices of third-level institutions to assist students in exceptional financial need.

Residential Institutions

Ceisteanna (93, 94, 95, 97)

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

93. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills the current status of the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Board, including structure, staffing and finance. [18100/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

94. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason almost two years after the processing of grant applications ceased, the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Board has not resumed the processing of applications. [18101/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

95. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills the breakdown of the way the €110 million euro allocation of Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Board is being spent. [18102/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

97. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills the criteria for eligibility and acceptance of applications for Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Board education grants. [18105/13]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 93 to 95, inclusive, and 97 together.

I established the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund (RISF) Board pursuant to the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Act, 2012, with effect from 25 March. The Board will oversee the use of the cash contributions of up to €110 million pledged by the religious congregations to support the needs of some 15,000 survivors of residential institutional child abuse.

The Board held its inaugural meeting on 27 March and has commenced work on the arrangements to be put in place for the operation of the Fund. I am pleased to report that the Chief Executive Officer, Ms Mary Higgins, has recently taken up her post. Following the dissolution of the Education Finance Board on the commencement of Part 4 of the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Act, 2012, with effect from 29 March 2013, the three staff of the Education Finance Board have transferred to and become staff of the new Fund Board.

It is now a matter for the RISF Board to determine the range of approved services within the four classes of service stipulated in the Act, i.e. mental health services (including counselling and psychological support) health and personal social services, education services and housing services. The Board is also required to determine the criteria by reference to which it will make decisions in respect of applications to it.

The 15,000 former residents who will be eligible to receive support from the Fund are those persons who have received awards from the Residential Institutions Redress Board or equivalent Court awards. Further publicity will be undertaken as the work of the Board progresses and a website with detailed information on the Fund's services will be developed.