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Wednesday, 6 Jul 2016

Written Answers Nos. 108-115

Appointments to State Boards

Ceisteanna (108)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

108. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of appointments he has made to State boards from the move to the Public Appointments Service two years ago to date; the names of those appointed and the relevant position on each board; the names of those persons on the shortlist; the date when the shortlist was provided to him; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20064/16]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

For the Deputy's information, comprehensive information in relation to the composition of the State boards of non-commercial bodies under the aegis of my Department is available on my Department's website (http://www.education.ie/en/The-Department/Agencies/) and this information is updated as appointments are made.

The Deputy should note that there board appointments were made, as laid out below, according nominations made by other bodies as part of procedures laid down by Government decision and statute and not at my discretion.

The details of the board appointments made since my appointment on 6th May 2016 are outlined in the table.

In regard to the Teaching Council, three appointments were made as provided for in the Teaching Council Acts 2001-2015. Under Section 8(2)(c) of the Teaching Council Acts two persons are nominated jointly by the colleges and university providing primary teacher education. I have made these appointments. In addition, I have made one appointment under Section 8(2)(g) of the Act, namely, a senior official of my Department. This appointment was made in accordance with previous practice and the Guidance on Appointments to State Boards issued by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform in November 2014.

In regard to the nomination to the Board of the Higher Education Authority the appointment is provided for under the HEA Act, 1971 and, in the context of a Government Decision of 31 January 2007 which provides for the appointment of the President of the Union of Students (USI) in Ireland to be a member of the HEA.

Appointments made by Minister Bruton since his appointment as Minister for Education and Skills

Body

Name (Identify Chair)

Date Appointment Ceases

Position Type

Basis of appointment (e.g. Pas Process, Ex-Officio, Employee Representative)

The Teaching Council

Anne O'Gara

03/04/2018

Ordinary Member

P ITE 1 University 5 Colleges of Education

The Teaching Council

Martin Lally

03/04/2020

Ordinary Member

Minister Rep Department of Education and Skills

The Teaching Council

Pádraig Ó Duibhir

03/04/2018

Ordinary Member

P ITE 1 University 5 Colleges of Education

Higher Education Authority

Annie Hoey

30/06/2017

Ordinary Member

President of the Union of Students in Ireland

School Patronage

Ceisteanna (109)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

109. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on whether separate religious instruction is immediately necessary to allow for children not of the patron's faith to attend their local national school; the steps he will take to ensure this is in place for enrolments in 2016 given the report of the constitution review group, 1996, as repeated in the report of the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary Sector, 2012, indicating that religious instruction in national schools must be carried out separately to conform with the Constitution and that this must be changed to allow for multiple religious denominations in all national schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20082/16]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Religious education is one of the seven curricular areas of the 1999 Primary School Curriculum. Under Article 44 of the Constitution, all parents have the right to withdraw their child from religious instruction in school. Furthermore, under Section 30 of the Education Act 1998, a student cannot be required to attend instruction in any subject which is contrary to the conscience of the parent of the student or, in the case of a student who is 18 or more, the student him/herself.

The proposed Admission to Schools Bill includes a specific requirement that school enrolment policies must include details of the school's arrangements for any students who do not wish to attend religious instruction. This is an important measure which will help ensure transparency from the outset as to how a school will uphold the rights of parents in this regard.

The Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary Sector was established to look at how schools can cater for diversity and ensure an inclusive and respectful environment for all their pupils. The Report of the Advisory Group to the Forum took account of the findings and conclusions of previous groups and committees, such as those of the Constitution Review Group of 1996.

With regard to denominational religious education, the Forum Report did not recommend that religious instruction be removed from the school day, and the Advisory Group made a number of suggestions regarding practical and timetable options for religious education. A follow-up paper to the Forum Report, entitled Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary Sector: Progress to Date and Future Directions, was published in 2014 and encourages school authorities to consider their policies and practices in a number of areas, including the right to opt out of religion classes and the scheduling of such classes.

The Advisory Group also recommended that Rule 68 of the Rules for National Schools, which referred to a religious spirit informing and vivifying the work of the school, be deleted. Rule 68 was rescinded in January of this year.

The Programme for Government commits the Government to strengthening parental choice and diversity in our school system, in order to ensure that it reflects the diversity of modern Ireland. This includes a commitment to aim to increase the number of non-denominational and multi-denominational schools to 400 by 2030.

Special Educational Needs Staff

Ceisteanna (110)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

110. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will favour an appeal by a person (details supplied) for September 2016 under the special needs assistant scheme. [20083/16]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is an independent agency with responsibility for processing applications from schools for special needs assistants (SNA) supports, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs). The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in making recommendations for support, which is set out in my Department's Circular 0030/2014.

All schools were asked to apply for SNA support for the 2016/17 school year by 29th February 2016. The NCSE also continues to accept applications after that date, in recognition that enrolments may not have been completed or where assessments were not completed.

I announced on the 14th June, 2016 that 860 additional Special Needs Assistants will be available for allocation to schools from September 2016, which is a 7% increase on the existing availability. This will bring the total number of Special Needs Assistants to 12,900, at a total gross annual cost of €425 million.

This increase reflects the growing participation of children with Special Needs in education and will support their full participation and progression within the educational system. In total, the number of SNAs available has increased by almost 22% since 2011, when 10,575 posts were available.

The NCSE advised all schools of their allocations for SNA support for the coming 2016/17 school year on 14th June, 2016. Details of the allocations which have been made to schools have now been published on www.ncse.ie.

Where a school wishes to make an application for SNA support in respect of a child who was not considered as part of this allocation process they may continue to make such applications to the NCSE.

Where a school wishes to appeal the SNA allocation which has been made to them, they may do so through the NCSE appeal process, details of which are set out at www.ncse.ie.

All schools have the contact details of their local SENO, while Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available the NCSE website.

As the Deputy's question relates to an appeal of SNA allocation by the NCSE to a specific school, in respect of a particular pupil, I have referred this question to the NCSE for their consideration and direct reply to the Deputy.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (111)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

111. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide information on the number of persons of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds currently working in his Department and in other public service organisations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20435/16]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Section 6(1) of the Employment Equality Act lists nine grounds that an employer cannot discriminate on and it prohibits discrimination in relation to a person's ethnicity or their culture. As such my Department does not hold records of such information in relation employees and therefore I am not in a position to provide the information sought by the Deputy.

Foireann Roinne

Ceisteanna (112)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

112. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Oideachais agus Scileanna cén líon státseirbhíseach atá earcaithe le bliain anuas ina Roinn a bhfuil Gaeilge agus Béarla acu; cén grád ar ar earcaíodh iad; cén líon iomlán státseirbhíseach a earcaíodh i rith an ama sin agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [20445/16]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Tugtar mionsonraí sna ráitis tháblacha leis seo faoi na baill foirne a ceapadh sa Roinn seo le linn na tréimhse 12 mhí is deireanaí. Ceapadh ceathrar cigirí bunscoile agus ní mór dóibhsean bheith inniúil sa Ghaeilge chun dualgais an phoist a chomhlíonadh. Rinneadh ceithre cheapachán chun na Cigireachta Iar-bhunscoile. Ós rud é go bhfuil siad seo sainiúil don ábhar, tá inniúlacht sa Ghaeilge inmhianaithe seachas bheith mar inniúlacht riachtanach. Bhí an Ghaeilge mar inniúlacht inmhianaithe sa chomórtas earcaíochta do shíceolaithe oideachais freisin.

Tá na príomhghráid sa Roinn atá gafa le seirbhísí a sheachadadh do phobal na Gaeilge ag obair i réimsí na gcigireachtaí scoile agus na seirbhísí síceolaíochta oideachais a sholáthraíonn an tSeirbhís Náisiúnta Síceolaíochta Oideachais (NEPS) do scoileanna i gceantair Ghaeltachta agus do na Gaelscoileanna. Tá 24 síceolaí oideachais ag NEPS faoi láthair atá inniúil sa Ghaeilge agus a sheachadann a seirbhísí gairmiúla trí Ghaeilge.

Tá 51 Cigire i Rannán na Cigireachta Scoileanna ag an mbunleibhéal agus tá scoileanna a mhúineann an siollabas oideachais trí Ghaeilge mar chuid dá gceantar ag 48 díobh siúd. Tá scoileanna Gaeltachta mar chuid dá gceantar ag aon duine dhéag de na cigirí seo. Ag an leibhéal iar-bhunscoile is speisialtóirí i réimsí ábhair iad na cigirí ar an mór gcóir. Mar sin féin, cuireann an chigireacht iar-bhunscoile a seirbhísí ar fáil freisin do scoileanna a mhúineann an curaclam trí Ghaeilge. Faoi láthair, is leor an líon ball foirne gairmiúil atá inniúil sa Ghaeilge chun seirbhísí gairmiúla a sheachadadh do na scoileanna i gceist.

Ceapacháin neamh-riaracháin ó 30 ú Meitheamh, 2016 go dáta

Síceolaí Oideachais

4

Síceolaí Oideachais Sealadach

2

Cigire Iar-bhunscoile

4

Roinnchigire Bunscoile

4

Tiománaí Sibhialtach (Ceapacháin Aire)

5

Cigire Luathbhlianta

9

Staitisteoir

1 (ar iasacht ón Lároifig Staidrimh)

Iniúchóir

1 (ar iasacht ó Oifig an Ard-Reachtaire Cuntas agus Ciste)

Cuntasóir Grád 1

1

Suirbhéir Cainníochta Grád 1

1

Ceapacháin riaracháin ó 30 ú Meitheamh, 2016 go dáta

Grád

Líon

Príomhoifigeach

1 (Painéal Oscailte PAS)

Príomhoifigeach Cúnta

3 (Painéal Idir-Rannach)

Oifigeach Riaracháin

3 (Painéal Oscailte PAS)

Ardoifigeach Feidhmiúcháin

1 (Áis Lárnach Iarratas)

Oifigeach Feidhmiúcháin

10 (5 ón Phainéal Oscailte PAS, 5 ón Phainéal Idir-Rannach)

Oifigeach Cléireachais

53 (46 ón Phainéal Oscailte PAS, 7 ón Áis Lárnach Iarratas nó trí aistriúcháin Duine-le-Duine ó Ranna eile)

Nóta: Ba státseirbhísigh cheana féin na baill foirne ar fad a ceapadh sa Roinn seo ó phainéil Idir-Rannacha, ón Áis Lárnach Iarratas, trí aistriúcháin Duine-le-Duine agus ar iasacht.

Homeless Accommodation Provision

Ceisteanna (113)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

113. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government to ensure that a person (details supplied) is given suitable accommodation for a family, given that the unreliability of the self-accommodation system is incredibly difficult for the family who are moving around. [19934/16]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

My Department’s role in relation to homelessness involves the provision of a national framework of policy, legislation and funding to underpin the role of housing authorities in addressing homelessness at local level. In accordance with section 37(2) of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, statutory responsibility in relation to the provision of homeless services, including accommodation, rests with individual housing authorities.

The allocation of social housing support to qualified households, including determining the priority to be awarded to individual households, for medical or other circumstances, and determining the dwelling required to meet the household’s accommodation needs and requirements, is a matter for the housing authority concerned in accordance with the authority’s allocation scheme made under section 22 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and associated Social Housing Allocation Regulations 2011. An allocation scheme is solely a matter for the housing authority concerned to make and implement, as it is a reserved function of the housing authority. Furthermore, as Minister, I am precluded under housing legislation from exercising any power or control in relation to any case being dealt with by a housing authority, in this case Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and, therefore, it would not be appropriate for me to intervene in this case.

Local Authority Funding

Ceisteanna (114)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

114. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he has published the terms of the local authority infrastructure fund; and the full-year cost of its implementation in 2017. [20104/16]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

I recently announced the Government’s approval to the establishment of a Local Infrastructure Fund of €200 million to relieve critical infrastructural blockages to enable the accelerated delivery of housing on key development sites and to improve the economic viability of new housing projects in Dublin and in urban areas of high demand for housing.

The Fund will be composed of an Exchequer allocation of €150 million, matched by a €50 million contribution from participating local authorities. Funding is to be allocated to local authorities, following a call for proposals on the basis of a competitive bid process which would be disposed to early delivery of the requisite additional housing at scale, including at affordable prices.

It will be a matter for local authorities to determine their bid proposals to identify the priority development sites proposed to be activated for housing in the immediate and short term through the removal of the infrastructural blockages. It is estimated that the €200m Fund will give rise to additional expenditure of €70m in 2017, €100m in 2018 and €30m in 2019, which incorporates the €50m matching funding by local authorities.

The detailed arrangements on the implementation of the funding are being finalised by my Department, in conjunction with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Waste Disposal Charges

Ceisteanna (115, 120)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

115. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if householders who are already serviced by a pay-by-weight collection system are protected from increases in charges under the agreement he has made with waste companies; if he is aware that letters have been sent indicating that such customers will have their charges raised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19912/16]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Clare Daly

Ceist:

120. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he is concerned over announced plans by a waste company (details supplied) to change the charges levied on pay-by-use customers following the price freeze announced by the Government and if he is concerned that companies may try to recoup some of the losses from the capping of fixed-charge accounts by massively increasing charges for pay-by-use customers. [19931/16]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Environment)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 115 and 120 together.

The Government secured an agreement with all major waste collection companies to freeze charges, so that customers pay no more than they are currently paying for waste collection over the next 12 months for the same level of service.

My Department has met representatives of the waste industry this week, at which a range of issues concerning the consistent implementation of the agreement were discussed.

I have also been clear that the operation of the price freeze by the industry will be closely monitored, indicating that, if there was evidence of the agreement being breached, I would look at whether further legislative measures were necessary to enforce it. Furthermore, the compliance of the industry and its effectiveness in co-operating and implementing these new arrangements are likely to feature within the overall review of the functioning of this waste collection industry.

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