Flood Risk Management

Ceisteanna (107)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

107. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to deal with issues arising based on scientific evidence available on the full extent of climate change alleviation projects needed to address the issues of flooding throughout the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7803/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

It is expected that climate change will impact on flood risk in Ireland resulting in rising sea levels and increased risk to our coastal communities and assets. The incidents of wetter winters and the number of heavy rainfall days per year are both projected to increase, giving rise to greater risk from river and urban storm water flooding.

While there is considerable uncertainty associated with most aspects of the potential impacts of climate change on flood risk (e.g. how fast sea levels will continue to rise into the future), the OPW considered that it was prudent to take the potential for climate change into account in the development of proposed measures in the Catchment Flood Risk Management (CFRAM) Programme.

One of the main objectives of the CFRAM Programme has been to assess the existing flood risk and also the potential for significant increases in this risk in the future, including due to climate change.

Therefore the OPW’s CFRAM Programme took into account the assessment of risk for two potential future scenarios, the:

- Mid-Range Future Scenario - increase in rainfall of 20% and sea level rise of 500mm (20 inches), and

- High-End Future Scenario - increase in rainfall of 30% and sea level rise of 1,000 mm (40 inches).

In this way, the assessment of potentially feasible proposed measures to be outlined the Flood Risk Management Plans have taken into account how they might cope with the potential impact of climate change. The specific adaptation strategy for each proposed measure can be assessed when the measures are developed in further detail at a project-level.

In general, flood relief schemes in the OPW's current Capital Programme are designed to be adaptable in the future for climate change. Some defences are constructed with an inbuilt allowance for climate change where it might be difficult or costly to undertake works in the future while others are built without an allowance but can be extended in the future to take account of climate change.

Gender Recognition

Ceisteanna (108)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

108. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if his Department has prepared written guidelines for staff and the public in dealing with transgender matters; if they are published; if staff have received training in respect of this; if his Department is participating in or making a submission regarding the review being undertaken in respect of the operation of the Gender Recognition Act 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7574/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

DPER provides a welcoming and supportive environment to all employees and is committed to valuing all aspects of diversity and supporting an inclusive workforce as identified in our People@PER Strategy 2017 – 2020. Furthermore, the Department is committed to protecting dignity and respect across the organisation and our Dignity at Work Policy aims to promote respect, dignity, safety, and equality in the workplace.

My Department is also committed to reviewing and revising the Civil Service Diversity and Inclusion policy – this is referenced in the Civil Service People Strategy and is action 18 under Building a Workforce of the Future. Work has commenced on this action and will continue during 2018.

Data Protection

Ceisteanna (109)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

109. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the preparedness of his Department in the context of the incoming general data protection regulation, GDPR, EU 2016/679; if staff in his Department have undertaken or been offered specific training and-or briefing on the GDPR; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7651/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

In common with other Government Departments, work is ongoing in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in preparation for the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will take effect from 25 May, 2018.  My Department is aware of its obligations under the GDPR and is taking appropriate measures to ensure compliance with the regulation.  A number of staff have already attended GDPR training and seminars, and further training is being arranged for a wider cohort of staff in the coming weeks.  My Department continues to participate in the Inter-Departmental Committee on Data Issues, chaired by the Department of the Taoiseach, on cross-Departmental data protection issues.  Alongside this, a number of other steps are being taken to support GDPR compliance in the Department, including, for example, the revision of the Department’s existing Data Protection Policy.

Flood Prevention Measures

Ceisteanna (110)

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Ceist:

110. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of planned dredging works on the Shannon river; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7705/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

In December 2016, the Shannon Flood Risk State Agency Co-ordination Working Group took a major decision to develop a plan for strategic maintenance works on the River Shannon to complement the Group’s existing Work Programme.

A sub-committee of the Group was established to examine all of the necessary legal, environmental, technical and other considerations. The sub-committee identified a small number of areas where targeted maintenance would increase the conveyance capacity of the river.

During 2017, targeted maintenance works were carried out at Madden’s Island, downstream of Banagher, to improve the conveyance capacity and navigation of the Shannon. Further works were due to be carried out this month however this has not been possible due to the high water level on the channel. This work will be carried out later this year during the next cutting season.

Following the receipt of consent in September 2017 from the National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, targeted works have been planned for a number of other locations for the appropriate seasonal windows. To date, work has been carried out at Muckinish and Shannon Grove (Kilnaborris), in accordance with the consent provided. Further work at these and other locations for which consent applies will be planned in terms of the seasonal restrictions that may apply to the types of activity required at each site.

Flood Risk Management

Ceisteanna (111)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

111. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when the flood risk management plans developed under the catchment flood risk assessment and management programme will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7764/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The core strategy for addressing areas at potentially significant risk from flooding is the Office of Public Works (OPW) Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Programme. The Programme, which is being undertaken by engineering consultants on behalf of the OPW working in partnership with the local authorities, involves the production of predictive flood mapping for each location, the development of preliminary flood risk management options and the production of Flood Risk Management Plans.

The CFRAM Programme focussed on 300 Areas for Further Assessment (AFAs) including 90 coastal areas, mainly in urban locations nationwide, identified as being at potentially significant risk of flooding. The proposed feasible measures, both structural and non-structural, identified for AFAs are outlined in the Flood Risk Management Plans.

The Draft Flood Risk Management Plans were published for public consultation in 2016 and a significant volume of submissions were received for consideration. In Summer 2017, the OPW finalised all Plans and each Plan was submitted to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform for an independent review of the environmental assessments. This independent review is expected to be completed this week, after which the Final Plans will be formally submitted to the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform for approval, in accordance with the statutory requirements.

I would hope in the coming weeks to seek the approval from the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform for the Flood Risk Management Plans developed under the CFRAM process.

School Accommodation

Ceisteanna (112)

Mary Butler

Ceist:

112. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Education and Skills the timeframe for a decision regarding an application for funding for additional accommodation by a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7548/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can confirm that the school referred to by the Deputy has submitted an application to my Department for capital funding for additional school accommodation.

I understand that since making the application, that enrolment numbers have decreased below the level required to retain the fourth mainstream class teacher. In the circumstances, the school has sufficient existing classroom accommodation to meet its current needs.

School Enrolments

Ceisteanna (113)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

113. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if sanction for a school (details supplied) to change its enrolment policy and move towards becoming co-educational will be expedited in view of the fact that the enrolment process is under way for future school years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7549/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can confirm to the Deputy that my Department has recently received correspondence from the school authority in question regarding a proposed change of the school's status from enrolling boys only to becoming co-educational.

My Department is currently liaising with the school Patron in this regard and will continue this engagement as part of the assessment process. My Department awaits further contact from the Patron in due course.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (114)

Mary Butler

Ceist:

114. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of an application by a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7550/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can confirm that the school referred to by the Deputy has submitted an application to my Department for capital funding for additional school accommodation. A decision will be conveyed to the school authority as soon as the assessment process has been completed.

Gender Recognition

Ceisteanna (115)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

115. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his Department has prepared written guidelines for staff and the public on dealing with transgender matters; if they are published; if staff have received training in respect of this; if his Department is participating in or making a submission regarding the review being undertaken in respect of the operation of the Gender Recognition Act 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7567/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department recognises that schools should be safe and supportive environments for all students. In order to support schools in developing a positive whole-school approach the Department has produced a range of guidance documents and has also supported the provision of guidance by civil society organisations. “Being LGBT in School – A Resource for Post-Primary Schools to Prevent Homophobic and Transphobic Bullying and Support LGBT Students”, which was developed by the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) with the support of the Department, provides guidance in relation to supporting LGBT students in schools. The resource, which is available on the Department’s website, includes a section that addresses the specific support needs of students who identify as transgender. The non-governmental organisation, Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) provided advice and support to ensure that this information is both practical and respectful to the needs of young people who are transgender.

The Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) Wellbeing Team have also developed a number of resources in the area of Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE) in conjunction with representative groups. These resources, which are available at http://sphe.ie/resources.aspx,  include guidance for teachers, schools and guidance counsellors on their role in supporting LGBT students. PDST also offer a specific 1 day Seminar on Gender and Sexual Orientation. This seminar is for teachers of Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) and RSE and explores the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people. Participants receive the ‘Growing Up LGBT’ resource and explore how to raise awareness through both the curriculum and at a whole school level.

In addition, inclusive education is a mandatory area of study in programmes of initial teacher education (ITE), The ITE graduate is required to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the factors that promote and hinder learning, the impact of pupils’ backgrounds and identities on learning and the need to provide for the holistic development of the learner, particularly through differentiated approaches.

At the Department level, civil servants are subject to the terms of the Civil Service Code of Standards and Behaviour which outlines that officials should treat members of the public and their peer workers with dignity and respect. At section 12 of the Code it specifically addresses the matter of relationships with colleagues and states the nine grounds that Civil Servants have a legal duty to ensure that they do not discriminate on as stated in the Equality Act. At this section there is specific reference made that an official cannot discriminate on the basis of gender and this includes transgender. When the Code was published it was circulated to all staff and they were requested to sign an undertaking that they had read the document. All new appointees are presented with a copy of the Code and have to sign a similar undertaking. In addition to this Civil servants are obliged to support the Civil Service Policy on harassment, sexual harassment and bullying and a copy of the Dignity at Work Policy can be viewed on the Department’s intranet site.

Finally, my Department is represented on the group that has been established by the Minister of Employment Affairs and Social Protection to review the Gender Recognition Act 2015. The Group, which is chaired by Moninne Griffith, Executive Director of BeLonG To, met for the first time in December 2017.