Disabilities Assessments

Ceisteanna (201)

Michael Lowry

Ceist:

201. Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Health the number of children on waiting lists for an initial assessment of need by the HSE under the Disability Act 2005, for local health offices in north and south County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4627/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Government is committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will empower them to live independent lives, provide greater independence in accessing the services they choose, and enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their lives.

This commitment is outlined in the Programme for Partnership Government, which is guided by two principles: equality of opportunity and improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.

As the Deputy's question relates to service matters, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply to the Deputy.

Disabilities Assessments

Ceisteanna (202)

Michael Lowry

Ceist:

202. Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Health the average length of time from start to completion of an assessment of need under the Disability Act 2005 in the HSE local health offices in north and south County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4628/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Government is committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will empower them to live independent lives, provide greater independence in accessing the services they choose, and enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their lives.

This commitment is outlined in the Programme for Partnership Government, which is guided by two principles: equality of opportunity and improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.

As the Deputy's question relates to service matters, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply to the Deputy.

Disabilities Assessments

Ceisteanna (203)

Michael Lowry

Ceist:

203. Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Health if a protocol exists within the HSE regarding the acceptance and recognition of assessments and diagnoses provided by private consultants in respect of disorders such as autism; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4629/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Government is committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will empower them to live independent lives, provide greater independence in accessing the services they choose, and enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their lives.

This commitment is outlined in the Programme for Partnership Government, which is guided by two principles: equality of opportunity and improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.

As the Deputy's question relates to service matters, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply to the Deputy.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services Data

Ceisteanna (204)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

204. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health the number of children on the waiting list to access CAMHS in counties Galway and Roscommon, respectively; the number of children directly engaged with each service; his plans to expand both services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4635/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As this is a service matter I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Cancer Screening Programmes

Ceisteanna (205)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

205. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health the number of CervicalCheck claims that have been through the courts to date that have ended with a settlement with no admission of liability, a settlement with an admission of liability, a settlement with an admission of liability of which negligence was a part, a finding of negligence or a finding of no negligence, respectively. [4636/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The State Claims Agency has a statutory remit to manage personal injury claims, including claims in respect of clinical negligence, on behalf of Delegated State Authorities (DSA’s) including the Health Service Executive. The State Claims Agency can only comment on the liability of the State as a Defendant.

Regarding CervicalCheck cases, I have been informed by the State Claims Agency that to date, four cases have settled. In those cases, the State has admitted breach of duty in relation to the non-disclosure of the audit results. The Courts have not yet heard a case in full, in order to determine the issues of liability, whether for non-disclosure of audit results or the reading of the slides.

Cancer Screening Programmes

Ceisteanna (206)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

206. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health the reason the HSE has not clarified to date the number of the 221 women whose smear results were found to be discordant upon audit that had clearly discordant results; and the number involved that had clear false negatives which are an accepted and unavoidable feature of the screening test. [4637/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Deputy's question relates to the limitations of screening, as well as of audit and review, as set out in the report of Dr Gabriel Scally. Screening tests are a balance of sensitivity and specificity and therefore include both false negative and false positive results which could affect the screening outcome and treatment of a person who may or who may not have a disease. False negatives are those samples where the slide was originally reported as negative but on review abnormal cells are found. As outlined in the report of the Scoping Inquiry, some screening programmes divide those false negatives into one of two groups:

1. Abnormalities that most screeners would not have detected;

2. Abnormalities that most screeners would have detected.

It is often a matter for professional judgement and discussion into which of these two groups any single false negative will fit. Following the Government decision on 8 May, I established an independent Expert Panel Review of Cervical Screening as part of the investigation into issues relating to the CervicalCheck Screening Programme. The review will be carried out by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) with expertise also sourced through the British Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology.

The purpose of the review is to provide women who participated in the national CervicalCheck screening programme and who developed invasive cervical cancer with independent clinical assurance about the timing of their diagnosis and treatment. The panel will endeavour to determine, wherever possible, any failures to prevent cancer or to intervene at an earlier stage and will prepare individual written summary reports for those affected, setting out the facts and their expert and independent assessment of those facts.

Cancer Screening Programmes

Ceisteanna (207)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

207. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health if the roll-out of the new and more accurate HPV screening test for cervical cancer has been impacted or delayed by the controversy over the disclosure of cervical screening audit results in May 2018. [4638/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I have asked the HSE to introduce HPV testing as the primary screening method for the prevention of cervical cancer as soon as possible. The HPV test is a more accurate testing mechanism than liquid-based cytology, which is the current testing mechanism, and its use will result in fewer false negative results, though it will not eliminate them completely. Its introduction is in line with developments in cervical screening internationally.

The introduction of HPV testing as the primary screening mechanism for CervicalCheck, with cytology as a reflex test, will require a reconfiguration of the laboratory work involved. A tendering process will be required for work to be carried out outside the public sector, and detailed capacity planning is ongoing to determine requirements.

There is no doubt that the issues which emerged last year have resulted in operational challenges for the HSE and the Screening Service, and that stabilisation of the programme in 2019 is an important element in supporting the switch to HPV testing. Accordingly, the HSE is working very actively to manage these challenges while progressing this major development as a priority.

Funding to implement the switch to HPV screening has been allocated in Budget 2019, along with funding to implement the recommendations of Dr Gabriel Scally’s inquiry in to the CervicalCheck Screening Programme and the extension of HPV vaccination to boys, illustrating the Government’s commitment to these essential projects.

Departmental Contracts Data

Ceisteanna (208)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

208. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health the final agreed tender price and the date of the tender for the contract in respect of each capital expenditure project which cost €10 million or more since 2010, in tabular form; the final overall amount paid; the date of the final payment in respect of the completion of the project; the reason the final amount paid exceeded the final tender price; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4644/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As the Health Service Executive is responsible for the delivery of healthcare capital projects, I have asked the HSE to respond to you directly in relation to this matter.

Disability Services Provision

Ceisteanna (209)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

209. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Health the status of plans being considered by the HSE to develop a facility (details supplied) in County Donegal; if the project will form part of the approved capital projects for 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4676/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Government is committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will empower them to live independent lives, provide greater independence in accessing the services they choose, and enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their lives. This commitment is outlined in the Programme for Partnership Government, which is guided by two principles: equality of opportunity and improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.

As the Deputy's question relates to service matters, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply to the Deputy.

Hospital Waiting Lists

Ceisteanna (210)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

210. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health the status of a procedure for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4690/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply to the Deputy.

Hospital Appointments Delays

Ceisteanna (211)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

211. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health the waiting time for an appointment in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4694/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive (HSE) is required to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. Section 6 of the HSE Governance Act 2013 bars the Minister for Health from directing the HSE to provide a treatment or a personal service to any individual or to confer eligibility on any individual.

The National Waiting List Management Policy, a standardised approach to managing scheduled care treatment for in-patient, day case and planned procedures, since January 2014, has been developed to ensure that all administrative, managerial and clinical staff follow an agreed national minimum standard for the management and administration of waiting lists for scheduled care. This policy, which has been adopted by the HSE, sets out the processes that hospitals are to implement to manage waiting lists.

In relation to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly.

Medical Products

Ceisteanna (212)

Eugene Murphy

Ceist:

212. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Health if G5 transmitters for type 1 diabetes will be approved in order to ease the burden for families who have to deal with this condition. [4698/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Under the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013, the HSE has statutory responsibility for the administration of the community drug schemes; therefore, the matter has been referred to the HSE for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Single Payment Scheme Payments

Ceisteanna (213)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

213. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the single farm payments due for 2008 and 2009 to a person (details supplied) will be issued. [4453/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The Single Farm Payments for the years in question under the herd number shown are outstanding because my Department has yet to receive the required documentation following the death of one of the joint owners of the herd. My Department requires this documentation to ensure the payments outstanding are issued in a fully legally compliant way.

Officials from my Department met with the person named when he called to the Department in May 2013. As part of this meeting the person named was informed of the procedure required to facilitate payment of outstanding monies and the procedure for the transfer of schemes in which he was involved. He was provided with the forms that are required to be completed to facilitate payment of outstanding monies and these documents were re-issued to his solicitor in January 2014. The documents were re-issued again in October 2015. The person named was further advised in April 2016 that the Department were still awaiting the testamentary documents, which were re-issued to him again at that time. The documents were again re-issued in April 2018.

The solicitor acting on behalf of the person named confirmed details of the next of kin of the deceased. It is necessary that my Department receive the required Indemnity and Consent forms completed by the next of kin, including the person named, in order to facilitate payment of outstanding monies in the absence of Letters of Administration.

Most recently the person named was in contact with my Department in January 2019 and was again advised that outstanding monies could issue when the required documents are received.

Brexit Issues

Ceisteanna (214, 215, 216)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

214. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his Department has received funding to hire additional staff to carry out sanitary and phytosanitary checks and controls at ports and airports in view of Brexit; the number of full-time equivalent posts the funding will support; and the date by which staff will be hired. [4458/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Robert Troy

Ceist:

215. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his Department has received funding to hire additional staff to prepare export certificates at ports and airports in view of Brexit; the number of full-time equivalent posts that funding will support; and the date by which these staff will be hired. [4459/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Robert Troy

Ceist:

216. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his Department has received funding to hire additional staff to carry out relevant controls at ports and airports in view of Brexit; the number of full-time equivalent posts that funding will support; and the date by which these staff will be hired. [4460/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 214 to 216, inclusive, together.

My Department is participating very actively in the Whole-of-Government approach to preparedness and contingency planning for Brexit. My officials are working closely with colleagues in other Departments and agencies across the public service to develop a joint approach in relation to the implementation at ports and airports of import controls on products coming from the UK. In July 2018, and again in September 2018, a number of decisions were made at Cabinet relating to Brexit preparedness and contingency planning, including the phased recruitment of staff, as required. The Government has already sanctioned in the region of €4m for the commencement of a phased process for the recruitment of additional staff to carry out increased volumes of import controls and export certification arising from Brexit.

The aforementioned requirements are significant, and arise in relation to the carrying out of documentary, identity and physical checks on imports of animals, plants, and products of animal and plant origin, as set out in EU legislation. The Department has carried out an extensive analysis exercise, based on examination of trade and container movement data, together with close consultation with stakeholder organisations and individual companies, to establish as best we can the likely volumes of controls that will need to be carried out. This has been a difficult exercise, given the lack of detailed data as a result of the UK’s participation in the Single Market up to this point, but we have based our assumptions and planning on what we believe are reasonable estimates of the likely volumes.

On staffing, we have used this data analysis exercise to guide our planning in relation to putting in place the staff that will be required to carry out the range of controls needed. These controls are carried out by a combination of portal inspectorate staff and where necessary, the appropriate veterinary and technical supervision, as well as administrative staff not located at the ports. The Department is working closely with Customs and others to provide the resources needed to apply the necessary controls.

In general, the Department will look to recruit and redeploy as well as engage temporary flexible solutions where appropriate and as necessary. Veterinary supervision will be provided with respect to products of animal origin by a combination of: veterinary inspectors currently on recruitment panels, where we are in the process of engaging with 37 remaining on current panels; new recruitment competitions; redeployment within the department on a temporary basis if necessary and the possible engagement of contracted service arrangements as required.

The Department is also drawing from a pool of applicants for Portal Inspector posts and from redeployed volunteers from within the Department to conduct some of the necessary checks. Candidates for these roles will be interviewed in February to provide capacity in Dublin Port and Rosslare for the engagement of 70 Clerical Portal Inspectors, and a significant pool of additional applicants is available for interview as needed.

The Department can also draw from a pool of applicants for Technical Agricultural Officers for plant health checks. The Department continue to engage with PAS re the aforementioned options as well as other required grades such as Assistant Agricultural Officers as well as back up administrative staff in traditional administrative civil service grades.

Overall, I am confident that the State will be in a position to deliver the services required in terms of both imports and exports at the appropriate time.

Fur Farming

Ceisteanna (217)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

217. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if an immediate ban on fur farming will be introduced here on animal welfare and ethical grounds (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4466/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My Department has statutory responsibility for the welfare and protection of farmed animals under the European Communities (Welfare of Farmed Animals) Regulations, 2010(Statutory Instrument No 311/2010) and the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013. Irish fur farmers are, in this regard, subject to the same animal welfare legislation as other livestock farmers.

A review of all aspects of fur farming in Ireland was commissioned in November 2011. The Terms of Reference of the Review Group were:

(i) To review fur farming in Ireland taking into account existing legislative provisions for the licensing of mink farming;

(ii) To comment on the economic benefits of the sector;

(iii) To consider the effectiveness of existing welfare controls, and

(iv) To make appropriate recommendations

The Review Group invited submissions from the public and interested parties and considered over four hundred submissions which were received.

The Group concluded that it did not find the arguments in favour of banning the farming of fur animals in Ireland compelling and recommended that instead, fur farming be allowed continue under licence and subject to official control. I accept the findings of the review group and its recommendations.

On foot of the Review Group’s deliberations, my Department introduced more rigorous controls on licence holders in the areas of animal welfare, animal accommodation, security and nutrient management. Licensees are subject to regular inspections, including unannounced inspections by Department officials.

Notwithstanding the position in other countries, given the recommendations from the review group, there are no plans to introduce a ban on fur farming.

Forestry Data

Ceisteanna (218)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

218. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of forestry felling and planting licence applications awaiting a decision; the details of the backlog; the number of weeks applicants are waiting for a decision in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4511/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My Department is required to carefully assess all forestry licence applications to ensure that, among other things, environmental and landscape considerations are taken into account and that appropriate prescribed bodies are fully consulted.

Timeframes for processing applications have been committed to in the Farmers Charter and every effort is made to meet these deadlines. Decisions on valid tree felling licences are to issue within four months. Approvals of valid afforestation licence applications are to issue within 10 weeks, except where consultation is required under law where the timeframe is 14 to 18 weeks, where practicable.

In 2018, 1,082 completed applications for afforestation licences were received and acknowledged. Decisions issued on 861 applications. A total of 5,969 tree felling licence applications were received in 2018, with 3,603 licences issued. It is important to note that the balance of cases are not necessarily awaiting further work as it is not unusual for completed applications to be received and acknowledged by my Department, but subsequently withdrawn by the applicant.

The following tables show the quarterly returns on approvals granted and decisions made in the context of the Farmers' Charter timeframes:

Afforestation Licence Approvals within Farmers’ Charter timeframes 2018

Month

Quarterly returns

March

89%

June

83%

October

80%

December

74%

Tree Felling Licence Approvals within Farmers’ Charter timeframes 2018

Month

Quarterly returns

March

68%

June

56%

October

88%

December

77%

As the figures demonstrate, processing times are largely consistent with the agreed targets. There have however been unavoidable delays due, in the main, to a complete review of Appropriate Assessment Procedures, on foot of a European Court of Justice ruling. In addition, there were some delays in appointing additional archaeological resources which has now been addressed with the appointment of two new Grade 3 archaeologists who are making significant progress in dealing with cases on hand.

Forestry Sector

Ceisteanna (219)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

219. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason there is a delay of more than 12 months in employing archaeologists in the Forest Service; the number of archeologists that will commence employment and when; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4522/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Given the additional cases of archaeology referrals on forestry applications, my Department ran a competition for new appointees. There have been two new archaeologists appointed from that panel. The first was appointed in August 2018 and the second in November 2018 and they are making significant progress in dealing with cases on hand; there are no plans to make further appointments from that panel.

Fishery Harbour Centres

Ceisteanna (220)

Denise Mitchell

Ceist:

220. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the construction and-or refurbishment work being undertaken at a location (details supplied); the aim of the work; when the work will be completed; and the future plans for the site. [4547/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Howth Fishery Harbour Centre (FHC) is one of the six designated Fishery Harbour Centres which are owned, managed and maintained by my Department under Statute. Refurbishment works are currently underway to complete the re-roofing and other renovation works at Mariners Hall on the west pier of Howth FHC.

These works involve the removal and safe disposal of an existing asbestos concrete roof over steel trusses and replacement with architecturally appropriate kingpost trusses topped with natural slate. Internally the building is being sympathetically renovated in keeping with its maritime tradition. This work commenced in 2018 and it is expected to be substantially completed by the end of February 2019.

As is normal practice, once development works are complete, this property will be made available for occupancy, by way of an open public competitive process in line with Public Procurement Guidelines.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (221)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

221. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of staff working in the procurement area for major State infrastructure projects in his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4570/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

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

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 as necessary. They also avail of the expertise of the staff of the Office of Government Procurement, as appropriate.

My Department currently has one major infrastructure project (above €20 million) on-hand, with two specialist grade staff involved in procurement connected with this project. Nineteen specialist grade staff engage in procurement, as part of their normal functions, on lower value capital infrastructure projects.

Beef Data and Genomics Programme

Ceisteanna (222)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

222. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a beef genomics payment will be awarded to a person (details supplied). [4595/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

In applying to join the Beef Data Genomics Programme (BDGP) the person named committed to participating in the programme for the full 6 years of the programme.

One of the requirements of the Programme is that a valid Basic Payment Scheme application is submitted to the Department on a year basis and on which all land parcels are declared. If the eligible forage hectares declared in any year is less than 80% of the maximum payable area notified to successful applicants in Year 1, due to the sale or transfer of the land, the applicant concerned will not be permitted to continue participation in BDGP.

As the person named did not declare the additional land on his Basic Payment Scheme application this land cannot be considered for payment under BDGP.

A letter will issue to the person named, in the coming days, detailing this decision. He will also be informed of how he can have the decision reviewed should he so wish and of his right to appeal the outcome of any such review to the independent Agriculture Appeals Office.

Beef Data and Genomics Programme

Ceisteanna (223)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Ceist:

223. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of farmers awaiting 2018 beef data and genomics programme payments; the amount to be paid to farmers under the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4624/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The Beef Data and Genomics Programme provides for six-year payments to farmers for completion of actions which deliver accelerated genetic improvement in the Irish national herd and improvement of its environmental sustainability.

Payments under the 2018 Programme year for both BDGP I and BDGP II commenced in December 2018 and as of today a total of 22,229 active participants have received payments of some €39.9m.

Up to 2,314 remaining participants may be paid over the coming weeks once compliance is achieved with the requirements of the Programme. My Department cannot determine the final total amount at this stage because some farmers who do not complete all the actions for the year will not get full payment. Further pay runs are being made to pay more farmers as they become eligible for payment.

Beef Industry

Ceisteanna (224)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Ceist:

224. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question No. 185 of 23 January 2019, if no issues arose in classification and carcass presentation when his Department conducted on-the-spot inspections in beef processing plants in 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4625/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/1184 of 20 April 2017 governs the monitoring of carcase classification, carcase presentation and weighing.

In 2018, my Department conducted almost 550 unannounced, on-the-spot inspections in 32 factories on classification and carcase presentation. There were 616 inspections in 2016 and 628 in 2017. This is an average of 20 inspections per factory per year, which significantly exceeds the legal minimum requirement of 8 inspections per year.

At each inspection an average of 85 carcasses were inspected for correct classification and carcase presentation. The legal requirement is 40 carcasses per inspection.

The unannounced checks verify the on-going accuracy of the automated beef grading methods by using a system of points and limits defined in EU legislation. The mechanical classification method must operate within legally defined tolerances at all times. When any mechanical system is found to be working outside of these tolerances the meat plants concerned are instructed to revert to manual grading. There were 8 such occurrences in 2018 and 13 in 2017. Farmers are advised through their remittance dockets where manual grading is applied.

Regarding carcase presentation in 2018 a total of 19 fines were issued in respect of non-compliance with carcase classification legislation.

A total of 28 fines were issued for non-compliances in 2016.

No fines relating to carcase presentation were issued in 2017. A concerted campaign by DAFM, with the co-operation of Meat Industry Ireland, took place in that year to raise awareness of the standard of presentation and the requirements for carcase dressing.

Laboratory Facilities

Ceisteanna (225)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Ceist:

225. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a cost-benefit analysis of the regional veterinary laboratory network will be published; if there is a timeline for potential investment in the network; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4626/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My Department commissioned a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) of options that were proposed by a Working Group in 2016 for the future development of the Regional Veterinary Laboratories (RVLs). The team conducting the CBA included internationally-recognised, independent experts in economic analysis and animal disease surveillance. My Department has been presented with the CBA report and senior officials are currently considering the recommendations. Due consideration is also being given to feedback we received following consultation on two separate occasions with our stakeholders - following publication of the 2016 Working Group report and during the CBA process. A proposal on how best to redevelop the RVLs over the next few years will be informed by both of those consultative processes and by the findings of the CBA. The focus of my Department is now on securing and improving the service to the sector at best value to the tax payer and on securing the necessary capital funding for investment.

TAMS Applications

Ceisteanna (226)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

226. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a TAMS grant application in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Kerry will be considered as a young farmer TAMS grant scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4684/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

An application under TAMS ll Dairy Equipment Scheme (DES) was submitted on 12 September 2016 by the applicants in question. Approval for the proposed investments was granted on 22 December 2016. The approval letter states that the applicable grant rate under the DES is 40% of eligible investments, up to the investment ceiling, in this case, of €160,000.

An application under the Young Farmer Capital Investment Scheme has not been submitted by the applicants. The option of submitting an application under this Scheme would be open to them if they meet all of the terms and conditions of the Scheme including age and length of time in farming.