GLAS Payments

Ceisteanna (214)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

214. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a 2018 GLAS payment will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1838/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The person named was approved into GLAS 1 with a contract commencement date of 1 October 2015 and has received all payments in respect of scheme years 2015 2016 and 2017.

The 2018 advance payment was delayed due to an issue relating to the Low Input Permanent Pasture claim. This issue has now been resolved. The application will continue to go through the required validation checks and once these are complete payment will issue. GLAS payments continue to be issued on a weekly basis.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (215, 216)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

215. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of employees in his Department; the number professionally qualified with organisations (details supplied); the number with other relevant professional qualifications; and the number with no professional qualifications in tabular form. [1880/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

216. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of employees in his Department authorised to engage in procurement; the number professionally qualified with organisations (details supplied); the number with other relevant professional qualifications; and the number with no professional qualifications in tabular form. [1897/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 215 and 216 together.

My Department is committed to ensuring that a highly skilled, motivated and efficient workforce is in place to meet its ongoing and continually evolving business needs. One of the goals outlined in my Department's current Statement of Strategy is to continue to develop a highly skilled, diverse and gender balanced workforce and to support a positive working environment for all that provides equality of opportunity and career opportunities.

There are 3,227 (Full time equivalent) employees in my Department working in various locations nationwide and the workforce comprises of a number of specialist grades in addition to the standard civil service grades.

There is a dedicated Procurement Unit comprising of nine staff within my Department which is led by the Head of Finance Division. This Unit develops, disseminates, monitors and enforces Procurement Policy and provides advice to staff on Procurement matters. They also avail of the expertise of the staff of the Office of Government Procurement, as appropriate.

I can confirm that Public Procurement in my Department is undertaken as needs arise in line with relevant legislation, policy and public procurement guidelines.

Whilst staff in my Department are not obliged to provide details of their professional qualifications, I can confirm they are encouraged and supported in developing, refreshing and augmenting their knowledge and skills. As part of the Performance Management and Development System (PMDS), each staff member completes a Learning and Development Plan at the beginning of the year. In addition the Civil Service Refund of Academic Fees Scheme provides an opportunity for staff to pursue third level professional educational programmes relevant to their work area. Professional membership fees in respect of two staff members have been paid by my Department to two of the organisations listed in recent years.

I am confident that staff in my Department are equipped to provide our customers and stakeholders with a high level of service delivery in the area of procurement, within the broader scope of driving a dynamic Agri-Food Sector.

Meat Processing Plant Inspections

Ceisteanna (217, 218, 219)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Ceist:

217. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of inspections carried out on adult sheep carcasses, that is, those over one year of age, in processing factories in each of the years 2016 to 2018, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1919/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Fitzmaurice

Ceist:

218. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of inspections carried out on lamb carcasses, that is, those under one year of age, in processing factories in each of the years 2016 to 2018, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1920/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Fitzmaurice

Ceist:

219. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of instances of non-compliance in relation to carcass trimming regulations detected when adult sheep carcasses over one year of age and lamb carcasses under one year of age were inspected in processing factories in each of the years 2016 to 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1921/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 217 to 219, inclusive, together.

Carcase Classification and carcase presentation (Trim) for Beef, Pigs and Sheep is governed by the following EU legislation: Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council. This legislation applies across the entire EU. Article 10 of this legislation defines the rules for the compulsory classification of Beef and Pigs.

Unlike bovines and pigs there is no EU legislative requirement for processors to classify sheep carcasses.

While the 5 main Irish processors that slaughter sheep also classify carcasses, they do so on an entirely voluntary basis. No machine grading is carried out; where grading is carried out, factory operatives are involved in manual classification. There is therefore no legal basis for any statutory inspections.

My Department gives guidance and training for the voluntary classification of sheep carcasses in the 5 factories. In the years 2016-2018 there were 80 visits conducted in this regard. No differentiation between adult sheep and lambs is made regarding sheep classification at factory level.

Animal Identification Schemes

Ceisteanna (220)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Ceist:

220. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of times food business organisations have accessed herd numbers of farmers through the AIM system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1922/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

It is understood that the Deputy is referring to access to details of herd keepers on the Animal Identification and Movement System (AIMS) that is available to the Food Business Operator (FBO)of slaughter plants. FBOs have access on the AIMS database to information on the specific animals presented for slaughter by herd keepers, such as the date of birth, breed, gender and disease history - all of this information is required by the FBO under legislation and is also available on the animal’s passport. The only personnel with access to herd numbers of herd keepers in FBO premises are Department personnel with secure logins that are present in FBOs as representatives of the Competent Authority to supervise operations.

Climate Change Policy

Ceisteanna (221)

Eamon Ryan

Ceist:

221. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the reason the Solidarity and Just Transition Silesia Declaration was not signed; the reasons for signing or not signing respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1816/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The 24th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP 24) took place in Katowice, Poland, from 2 to 15 December 2018. COP 24 had two major outcomes - the completion of negotiations aimed at enabling the full implementation of the Paris Agreement and the conclusion of a year-long process of reflection on the imperative of scaling up global efforts to address climate change, the Talanoa Dialogue. COP 24 also saw three Declarations presented by the Polish Presidency and adopted by a range of Party and non-Party stakeholders.

The Silesia Declaration on Just Transition reiterated the importance of managing the transition away from emission-intensive activity in a structured manner, taking into account the societal needs for alternative employment and opportunities.

The Ministerial Katowice Declaration on Forests for the Climate recognised the importance of forests and calls on all sectors to pursue afforestation measures and support the enhanced scientific understanding of the role of forests as carbon sinks.

The third Declaration, Driving Change Together - the Katowice Partnership for E-mobility, was presented jointly by Poland and the United Kingdom, recognising the challenges faced by societies in reducing transport emissions. It called on Parties, regions, cities and NGOs to promote electro-mobility and clean transport and encouraged the development of electro-mobility, sustainable patterns and innovation in transport, with the ultimate goal of reducing emissions in this sector and improving the health of the planet's population.

Ireland supported all three Declarations at COP 24. Officials from my Department are in contact with the Polish COP Presidency to ensure that Ireland is listed as a signatory to all three Declarations.

Fuel Prices

Ceisteanna (222)

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

222. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the reason there is such disparity nationally in prices for a litre of petrol and diesel; if his attention has been drawn to the reason for same; his plans to address same with better regulation or an alternative solution; and if his Department has carried out an investigation into this price disparity. [1840/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Irish retail oil sector is an open and competitive market. As such, I have no role in the setting of fuel prices. The retail price of gasoline and diesel at the pumps is determined by a number of factors, including the price of crude oil and refined product on the international markets. Oil prices are subject to many factors, including market supply and demand levels and as oil is traded almost exclusively in US Dollars, the strength of that currency against the Euro.

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC, under the aegis of the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation) is responsible for ensuring that the market is functioning correctly and that consumers are not being unfairly disadvantaged.

National Broadband Plan

Ceisteanna (223)

Mary Butler

Ceist:

223. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the position regarding the national broadband plan; when an area (details supplied) will have full broadband cover; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1863/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to ensure high speed broadband access (minimum 30 megabits per second) to all premises in Ireland, regardless of location. This is being achieved via a combination of commercial investment and a State led intervention.

The NBP has been a catalyst in encouraging investment by the telecoms sector. In 2012, less than 700,000, or 30% of all 2.3 million Irish premises had access to high speed broadband. When this Government came into office, this had risen to 52%. Today, 74% of premises can access high speed broadband.

The premises referred to by the Deputy is in the AMBER area on the National Broadband Plan (NBP) High Speed Broadband Map, which is available on my Department's website at www.broadband.gov.ie. The AMBER areas represent the target areas for the proposed State led Intervention under the NBP. This intervention is the subject of an ongoing procurement process.

TThe procurement process to appoint a bidder for the State intervention network is now at the final stage. My priority is to bring the procurement process to a fair and impartial conclusion as quickly as possible and I will bring a recommendation to Government in the coming weeks.

For those premises currently awaiting access to high speed broadband, practical initiatives will continue to be addressed through the work of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce to address obstacles and improve connectivity in respect of existing and future mobile phone and broadband services.

Under this Taskforce, engagement between telecommunications operators and local authorities through the Broadband Officers is continuing to strengthen. These Broadband Officers are acting as single points of contact in local authorities for their communities. The appointment of these officers is already reaping rewards in terms of ensuring a much greater degree of consistency in engagements.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (224, 225)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

224. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of employees in his Department; the number professionally qualified with organisations (details supplied); the number with other relevant professional qualifications; and the number with no professional qualifications in tabular form. [1883/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

225. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of employees in his Department authorised to engage in procurement; the number professionally qualified with organisations (details supplied); the number with other relevant professional qualifications; and the number with no professional qualifications in tabular form. [1900/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 224 and 225 together.

There are currently 413 staff employed in my Department.

A number of staff are qualified members of various professional bodies. Details of the professional organisations where membership is supported by the Department, are set out in Table 1.

This data does not include the professional qualifications with organisations which may be maintained individually by officers.

Table 1

Staff Number

Professional Body

2

Engineers Ireland

1

The Geological Society

2

Law Society Ireland

2

Irish Association for Economic Geology

1

Institute of Geologists

1

Institute of Acoustics

1

European Federation of Geologists

1

Energy Institute

3

Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

1

Institute of Certified Public Accountants

1

Chartered Institute of Civil Engineering Surveyors

1

Chartered Institute of Water & Environmental Management

1

Irish Planning Institute

1

Dublin Solicitors Bar Association

While currently the Department does not retain a central Skills Register, the details of employees that have been supported by the Department since 2015 in applications for professional qualifications are listed in Table 2. This data does not include professional qualifications completed by officers prior to their commencement of employment in the Department or professional qualifications which may have been achieved privately by officers. The Civil Service Shared Service for Learning and Development, One Learning, are developing a Skills Register which will allow for such reporting in the future.

Table 2

Number

Professional Qualifications

1

ACCA – Governance Risk and Ethics – Corporate Reporting

1

Account Technician

1

Administrative Law

1

Advanced Diploma in Data Protection Law

1

Advanced Taxation & Advanced Audit &Assurance

1

BA (Hons) Visual Communications

1

BA Hons Business Studies

1

BA Hons in HRM Strategy and Practice

2

BA Hons Public Management

1

BA in Law

1

BA in Public Administration

2

Bachelor in Business Studies

1

Bachelor of Arts – IT Management

1

Barrister at Law Degree

1

Behavioural Economics Module

1

Bookkeeping (Manual & Computerised)

1

BSc Hons Information Systems

1

BSC in Computing, IT and Mathematics

1

BSc Natural Sciences

1

Certificate in Management & Development

4

Certificate in Civil Service and State Agency Studies

5

Certificate in Human Resources Management

1

Certificate in Finance

1

Certificate in Procurement

1

Certificate in Project Management

3

Certificate in Public Management

1

Certified Project Management Diploma

1

Comp TIA A+

1

Digital Marketing & Social Media

1

Digital Photography

2

Dioplóma Iarchéime san Aistriúchán

1

Diploma in Business Management

1

Diploma in Business Studies

1

Diploma in Civil Service and State Agency Studies

1

Diploma in Corporate Governance

1

Diploma in Event Management & PR

1

Diploma in Executive & Life Coaching

2

Diploma in Legal Studies

1

Diploma in Organisation Development & Transformation

2

Diploma In Public Management

1

Evaluating Contemporary Science

3

Forensic Computing & Cybercrime Investigation

1

Higher Diploma in Business Management

1

ICM Cert Desktop Publishing

2

Introduction to the Irish Legal System

4

Diploma in Human Resource Management

1

Diploma in Legal Practice & Procedure

1

LL.B (Hons) in Law

2

MA Financial Management

1

MA in Leadership and Strategy

2

MA in Public Management

1

MA in Social Media Communications

1

Master of Arts - Human Resource Management

2

Master of Economic Science in Policy Analysis

2

MBA

1

MSc in Forensic Computing and Cybercrime Investigation

2

MSc in Human Resource Strategies

1

MSc in Policy Analysis

1

PhD in Adult and Community Education

1

PhD in Coastal Vulnerability

1

Postgraduate Diploma in Digital Marketing

3

Postgraduate Diploma in Public Management

1

Professional Diploma in Accounting

2

Professional Certificate in Governance

3

Professional Diploma in Official Statistics for Policy Evaluation

1

Professional Diploma in Project Management

1

Certificate - Programme for Senior Leaders

While there is no CPD requirement for procurement in my Department, two officers are currently completing a professional qualification in procurement.

The Procurement Officer in the Department operates in a support and advisory capacity to line Divisions who are individually responsible for the preparation, tendering and awarding of contracts for goods and services within their respective areas. These procurement activities form part of the day-to-day duties of certain officials.

National Broadband Plan

Ceisteanna (226)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

226. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of the awarding of a contract in respect of the national broadband plan; if his officials have provided him with an interim report and-or made recommendations on the awarding of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2017/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The procurement process to appoint a bidder for the NBP State intervention network is now at the final stage. My Department’s assessment of the final tender submission received from the bidder on 18 September 2018 is reaching a conclusion.

While I have received briefings from officials in my Department in relation to the NBP procurement process, I have yet to receive an interim or final report with a recommendation.

My priority is to bring the procurement process to a fair and impartial conclusion as quickly as possible and I will bring a recommendation to Government in the coming weeks.

Aviation Policy

Ceisteanna (227)

John Lahart

Ceist:

227. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the reason for the pending introduction of a requirement of customs officials and airport police to be searched as a matter of routine when they enter and exit airport facilities and when they are entering and exiting different areas within the airport campus itself including from airside to landside; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1834/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The enhanced procedures the Deputy asks about were decided by my Department and adopted by the National Civil Aviation Security Committee on the basis of a risk assessment by the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), which has responsibility for regulating aviation security in Ireland. The Security Committee has members taken from key Government Departments (including Revenue), An Garda Siochána, the Defense Forces, and industry (both airports and airlines). These new, enhanced staff screening procedures are being put in as part of an ongoing programme of security improvements at our State airports.

The overall approach to reviewing and assessing airport security represents the honouring of commitments made in the 2015 National Aviation Policy (NAP), which was developed by the Department following extensive industry and stakeholder consultation. The NAP committed to introduce a risk-based approach to ensure Ireland has a robust and efficient aviation security system.

A number of reviews/audits of security practices and procedures at the State airports pointed to the need to make improvements. In particular, in 2017 the Department invited the Paris-based European Civil Aviation Conference (a long-established pan European organisation with expertise in aviation security) to review security at Dublin Airport. That review - the contents of which are confidential - made a number of recommendations, which the Department and the regulator (the IAA) have set about implementing nationally.

The reality is that aviation security is a highly regulated area by international agreements - under the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and under the European regulations – and the State is committed to implementing best international practice in this field. The principal regulation in Europe for setting out the standards for civil aviation security is Regulation (EC) No. 300/2008, and Ireland is required to adhere to the baseline requirements laid out in this Regulation, including a requirement that:

“All persons other than passengers, together with their items carried, shall be screened upon entering critical parts of security restricted areas in order to prevent prohibited articles from being introduced into these parts.”

I wish to assure the Deputy that personnel are and will continue to be exempt from screening if they are responding to any emergency situation, without any delay.

Air Safety

Ceisteanna (228)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

228. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the contingency plans in place for drone attacks and illegal use of drones at Irish airports, in particular Dublin, Shannon and Cork airports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1820/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As the Deputy may be aware, I asked my officials to convene a meeting of the National Civil Aviation Threat and Risk Group to examine the issue of illegal operation of drones in and around prohibited airspace at Irish airports. This was in light of the recent drone events at Gatwick and Heathrow airports. The Group, which included representatives of all the relevant Government departments and State authorities, airports and airlines, discussed preparedness at Irish airports in the event of an illegal infringement into restricted airspace of a drone, including current arrangements and on-going developments at the EU level.

There are already very strong regulatory provisions in place in Ireland, which control and restrict the use of drones. Ireland was an early mover in this respect. These include an exclusion zone of 5 kilometres around airports, which is something I understand the UK authorities are now moving to. There are also operational protocols in place for dealing with illegal drone activity at the airports, which serve to coordinate the response of the airport authority, air traffic control and An Garda Siochána.

It would of course be inappropriate to provide specific information on what contingency plans might entail - as this would risk compromising the effectiveness of any response - but I can assure you it is a matter being treated very seriously by the airport operators, by the airlines, by my Department and the safety regulator - the Irish Aviation Authority.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (229)

Gino Kenny

Ceist:

229. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the capital expenditure to the end of December 2018 under the heading of walking and cycling; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1821/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As the Deputy may be aware I have secured significant improved funding allocations over the period 2018-2021 which will benefit both cyclists and walkers.

These improved allocations over this period include:

- €110 million specifically dedicated to cycling and walking infrastructure in our major urban areas;

- €135 million for sustainable urban transport measures;

- €750 million approximately towards the BusConnects programme in Dublin which will include the delivery of around 200 kilometres of segregated cycling lanes, where possible; and

- €53 million to support the development of new Greenways.

In addition to the above, Government has also made additional money available for cycling projects through both the Urban and Rural Regeneration and Development Funds under the National Development Plan.

End year figures for 2018 are currently being finalised; in the meantime, the provisional capital expenditure figures for sustainable transport measures that benefit walking and cycling are as follows:

- €18 million approximately spent specifically on cycling and walking infrastructure in our major urban areas;

- €15 million approximately spent on sustainable transport measures, which will benefit both cyclists and walkers; and

- €2.5 million approximately spent on Smarter Travel initiatives, which includes behavioural change measures.

Funding under these programmes as detailed above will increase again in 2019 with approximately €48 million allocated toward the programmes.

I believe that the improved multi-annual capital expenditure figures outlined above will positively assist with the better development and provision of cycling infrastructure across the State, while improving the safety for all road users.

Road Network

Ceisteanna (230)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

230. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the timeframe for the completion of works (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1851/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme. Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, the planning, design and construction of individual roads is a matter for the relevant road authority (i.e. local authorities) in relation to local and regional roads, or for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), in conjunction with the local authorities concerned, in relation to national roads.

Noting the above position, I have referred the question to TII for a direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (231, 232)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

231. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of employees in his Department; the number professionally qualified with organisations (details supplied); the number with other relevant professional qualifications; and the number with no professional qualifications, in tabular form. [1896/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

232. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of employees in his Department authorised to engage in procurement; the number professionally qualified with organisations (details supplied); the number with other relevant professional qualifications; and the number with no professional qualifications, in tabular form. [1913/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 231 and 232 together.

The number of employees in the Department at 1st January 2019 is 557. A number of staff are qualified members of various professional bodies where Continuous Professional Development (CPD) is a requirement of their role. There is currently no CPD requirement for procurement. Details of the professional associations/institutes, identified by the Deputy, where staff membership is supported by the Department, are set out in Table 1. In the absence of a central register of staff qualifications the Department does not currently have information on the number of staff who are professionally qualified via the Institute of Public Administration.

The procurement of goods and services (where requirements are identified) by the Department is devolved to Divisions who manage the process directly in line with Office of Government Procurement (OGP) Guidelines and Frameworks. Where it is a requirement of their role, employees from Higher Executive Officer and above are authorised to approve payments in respect of the procurement of goods and services.

TABLE 1

Organisation

Number of staff

Chartered Accountants Ireland

2

Institute of Certified Public Accountants

1

Railway Stations

Ceisteanna (233)

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

233. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the position regarding persons who have the free travel pass and are travelling with Iarnród Éireann when the new system comes into effect in train stations in County Mayo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1924/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The issue raised is an operational matter for Iarnród Éireann and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the company for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.