Local Authority Finances

Ceisteanna (303)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

303. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the position with local authority public liability insurance relating to a matter (details supplied). [7605/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Local authorities are independent in the discharge of their functions and the directly elected members are democratically accountable for all expenditure of their authority. Specific details in relation to local authority public liability insurance are a matter for each individual local authority insofar as local authorities themselves organise their insurance arrangements collectively for the sector. I have no function in the arrangements involved.

Referendum Campaigns

Ceisteanna (304)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

304. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government further to Parliamentary Question No. 309 of 7 February 2018, his plans to amend section 6 of the Referendum Act 1994 to ensure that notices, bills, posters and similar documents shall not contain untruths and-or graphic or obscene images; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7614/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Section 6 of the Referendum Act 1994 provides, inter-alia, that the provisions of section 140 of the Electoral Act 1992 (as amended) apply and have effect in relation to referenda. Section 140 of the Electoral Act provides that every notice, bill, poster or similar document having reference to a Dáil election or distributed for the purpose of furthering the candidature of any candidate at a Dáil election shall bear upon its face the name and address of the printer and of the publisher thereof. While electoral law is under ongoing review, I have no plans at this time to amend this provision.

Data Protection

Ceisteanna (305)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

305. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government 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. [7649/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

My Department is currently preparing for the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) with effect from 25 May 2018.

A Data Protection Officer (DPO) has been appointed in line with the requirements of Article 37 of the GDPR and this person will be responsible for overseeing the programme of work that will need to be undertaken to ensure that the Department is prepared for the introduction of the Regulation. The DPO will also be responsible for awareness raising in the Department, including ensuring adequate training supports are provided to staff.

To date, the DPO has undergone comprehensive training in data protection and senior managers in the Department have been briefed on the requirements of the GDPR. It is planned to roll out training on a wider level in the coming months.

Planning Issues

Ceisteanna (306)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

306. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the status of the process on the new planning guidelines for wind farms (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7794/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

My Department is currently undertaking a focused review of the 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines. As part of the overall review, a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is being undertaken on the revised Guidelines before they come into effect, in accordance with the requirements of EU Directive 2001/24/EC on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment, otherwise known as the SEA Directive. 

SEA is a process by which environmental considerations are required to be fully integrated into the preparation of plans and programmes which act as frameworks for development consent, prior to their final adoption, with public consultation as part of that process.  Following a tendering process, my Department appointed SEA experts in December 2017 to assist in this regard.  It is expected that a public consultation on the revised draft Guidelines, together with the comprehensive environmental report, will be undertaken during the first quarter of this year, with the aim of issuing the finalised Guidelines, following detailed analysis and consideration of the submissions and views received during the consultation phase, over the Summer. 

When finalised, the revised Guidelines will be issued under Section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended.  Planning authorities, and, where applicable, An Bord Pleanála must have regard to guidelines issued under Section 28 in the performance of their functions generally under the Planning Acts.  In the meantime, the current 2006 Wind Energy Development Guidelines remain in force.

Under section 30 of the Act, I am specifically precluded from exercising any power or control in relation to any case with which a planning authority or the Board is or may be involved. Therefore, I cannot comment on an individual planning case.

Gender Recognition

Ceisteanna (307)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

307. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if her 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 her 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 she will make a statement on the matter. [7565/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

My Department is not nominated to participate in the review of the Gender Recognition Act 2015 being carried out at present by my colleague, the Minister for Social Protection. While staff of my Department are trained to deliver an appropriate level of customer service, written guidelines, for staff or the public, in dealing with transgender matters have not been prepared.

All staff in my Department are, of course, obliged to treat their colleagues and members of the public with dignity and respect in accordance with the Civil Service Code of Standards and Behaviour. The Code, which is signed by all staff, provides for non-discrimination under the nine specified grounds as stated in the Equality Act 2004, which includes gender. In addition, my Department is committed to the Dignity at Work Policy for the Civil Service which aims to promote respect, dignity, safety, and equality in the workplace.

Since it came into operation, no issues relating to the Gender Recognition Act 2015 have been brought to the Department's attention by staff, managers or any representative bodies or trade unions. In the event of an issue being brought to my Department's attention it will be treated in accordance with the Act.

Greenways Development

Ceisteanna (308)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

308. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the status of her plans for a Grand Canal greenway between Hazelhatch, County Kildare, and Grange Castle, Dublin 22, (details supplied) in view of the fact that there is reference to the project as an objective in a number of local area plans; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7617/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

Waterways Ireland is responsible for the management, maintenance, development and restoration of 1,000 km of the inland navigable waterway system throughout the island, principally for recreational purposes.  This is a significant recreational resource and Waterways Ireland has been proactive in the development of Blueways and Greenways as a means to attract new visitors and in response to the growth for recreational activities such as walking, canoeing and cycling.

Waterways Ireland is committed to supporting the development of the entire Grand Canal tow path into a high quality off road walking and cycling amenity.

I am informed that there have been initial discussions between Waterways Ireland and  South Dublin County Council regarding the extension of the Greenway between the 12th Lock, Castleknock and Hazelhatch, a distance of 4.6km.

I am also informed that this proposed project would be led by South Dublin County and Waterways Ireland will assist its delivery in any way possible and it is actively working with  local authorities and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport to ensure that all of the canal towpaths are developed.

Data Protection

Ceisteanna (309)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

309. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the preparedness of her Department in the context of the incoming general data protection regulation, GDPR, EU 2016/679; if staff in her Department have undertaken or been offered specific training and-or briefing on the GDPR; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7642/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

Arising from the coming into effect of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May of this year my Department is conducting a review of its holdings of personal data and the associated arrangements for filing and processing of such material.

As required by the GDPR, a Data Protection Officer (DPO) has been appointed and among their responsibilities will be the oversight of preparations for the  transition to the new regulatory regime. As the Deputy is aware my Department is already subject to existing Data Protection regulatory provisions.

While a number of staff in key areas have already been facilitated in attending training in relation to the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) I am advised that a more broadly based approach to awareness raising and training will form a key element of preparations over the coming months.

Heritage Sites

Ceisteanna (310)

Ruth Coppinger

Ceist:

310. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if a building (details supplied) will be protected in view of the fact that the building is of historical interest and part of the heritage in the area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7699/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

I am aware of concerns locally about the condition of the building in question, which I understand is in private ownership.

My role as Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, in relation to the protection and management of our architectural heritage, is set out in the provisions of relevant legislation as are the role of local authorities and the responsibilities of owners as regards heritage assets.

The main mechanism for the protection of our architectural heritage is inclusion on the Record of Protected Structures (RPS), which is a reserved function of the relevant planning authority. The recording of buildings in the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (NIAH), which is maintained by my Department, forms the basis of recommendations to local authorities for inclusion of structures on their RPS.

The building mentioned by the Deputy is rated in the NIAH as being of Regional significance. It was recommended for inclusion in the RPS, and has been added to the RPS by the planning authority.  As such, the building is a protected structure within the meaning of the Planning and Development Acts.

Inclusion on the RPS places a duty of care on the owners and occupiers of protected structures. They are legally required to make sure that the structure does not become endangered through neglect, decay, damage or harm.

Inclusion on the RPS also gives planning authorities a number of powers to deal with such structures and safeguard their future. If a protected structure is endangered, the planning authority can serve a notice on the owner or occupier, requiring them to carry out any work that it considers necessary to protect it.

Financial support is provided by my Department through a number of schemes for the conservation and protection of heritage buildings. These schemes are administered via the local authorities and include the Built Heritage Investment Scheme and the Structures at Risk Fund. Details of the schemes are available on all local authority websites and on my Department’s website.