Forestry Management

Ceisteanna (227)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

227. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question No. 1932 of 24 July 2018, if he will address a matter regarding a replanting order; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4693/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

A general felling licence was issued to the applicant on 1 July, 2013. The licence was to clear fell 2.80ha and to be replanted, within one year of expiration of the licence. Replanting was therefore to take place by 1 July, 2016. Rules regarding replanting and setbacks in general are set out in the Department’s suite of environmental guidelines as well as in the Code of Best Forest Practice. The Department recommends that forest owners planning the replanting of forestry sites should liaise with the owners of neighbouring properties, to resolve in advance any potential concerns.

The land owner concerned has been written to on a number of occasions regarding the issues arising. The matter of remedying the situation by way of a replanting order is now being examined and legal advice will be sought on the issue.

Forestry Data

Ceisteanna (228, 229)

Eugene Murphy

Ceist:

228. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the amount of coniferous forest in acreage in counties Roscommon and Galway. [4696/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Eugene Murphy

Ceist:

229. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the amount of broadleaf forestry in acreage in counties Roscommon and Galway. [4697/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 228 and 229 together.

As per the National Forest Inventory 2017 the breakdown between conifer and broadleaf forests in Counties Galway and Roscommon is as follows:-

Conifer

Broadleaf

Roscommon ('000 acres)

45.10

15.86

Galway ('000 acres)

105.96

31.98

Better Energy Homes Scheme Administration

Ceisteanna (230)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

230. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if consideration will be given to revisit the property of a person (details supplied) in mid-2019 when the revisiting of such properties is to commence as stated on the SEAI website. [4477/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The Better Energy Warmer Homes scheme is funded by my Department and administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). The scheme delivers a range of energy efficiency measures free of charge to low income households vulnerable to energy poverty. To date over 135,000 homes have received free upgrades under the scheme, leaving the occupants better able to afford to heat their homes to an adequate level.

The aim of the scheme is to deliver a range of energy efficiency measures in a way which represents the best possible use of Exchequer funding, focusing eligibility to those in receipt of certain payments from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, such as the Fuel Allowance, and limiting each home to one visit for an energy efficiency upgrade. Last year, the scheme was expanded. Subject to survey by SEAI and assessment of potential for improved energy performance, the scheme can, in certain circumstances, include internal or external wall insulation. This will permit the upgrade of more property types such as homes with solid walls, and also increase the energy savings and emissions reductions that the scheme can achieve and will also enable future fuel switching.

Demand for the scheme is extremely high, reflecting the shift to deeper measures, and is impacted by longer delivery times associated with these type of works and the delivery capacity of SEAI’s contractor panel. The construction market is currently under pressure to deliver new homes as well.

The measures offered under the scheme are currently being reviewed again in light of new Building Regulations coming into force later this year. Any works carried out under the scheme will need to comply with the requirements set out under those regulations, while also taking account of the budget available to the scheme.

While homes that previously received works under the scheme are not currently eligible for a second visit, consideration will be given to revisiting these properties later in 2019, where feasible and appropriate.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (231)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

231. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment 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. [4573/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) is the only major State infrastructure procurement underway in my Department and it is managed by a dedicated team. Within my Department, there are 29 persons working on the NBP, the majority of them on a full-time basis. This includes a number of contractors and secondees based in my Department. This internal NBP Team is supported by expert consultants including KPMG, Mason Hayes Curran, Analysys Mason and PwC.

Broadband Service Provision

Ceisteanna (232)

Jackie Cahill

Ceist:

232. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will request a company (details supplied) to engage with homes and businesses in rural areas that are within metres of the infrastructure for high speed fibre broadband which has already been rolled out by the company to negotiate a price to extend the infrastructure a short distance to allow the business or home in question to connect; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4597/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

I note that the Deputy is making reference to the deployment of infrastructure by eir. This is part of that company’s ongoing rural fibre roll out to some 300,000 premises.

eir’s rural investment in high speed broadband is an entirely commercial undertaking, and not part of the planned State Intervention network. Although the deployment is monitored under the terms of a Commitment Agreement signed between the company and my Department, it is not funded by the State and it is not planned, designed or directed by my Department in any capacity. The selection of what premises are to be served under eir’s deployment is a commercial decision for that company. My Department has no statutory authority or function to intervene in the company’s commercial decisions, nor in any decisions relating to the roll out and siting of infrastructure throughout Ireland by service providers operating in a liberalised market.

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. 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.

EU Directives

Ceisteanna (233)

James Lawless

Ceist:

233. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when the Directive (EU) 2015/2302 on package travel and linked travel arrangements will commence here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4445/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

Directive (EU) 2015/2302 on package travel and linked travel arrangements was adopted by the European Parliament and Council on 25 November 2015. Officials in my Department have drafted a Statutory Instrument which will amend existing national legislation in order to transpose the Directive. The S.I. is currently with the Office of Parliamentary Counsel for settling.

It has taken longer than had been anticipated to finalise the S.I. primarily because of the complexity of integrating the provisions of the Directive into the existing national legislation in the area. Subject to any unforeseen developments, I expect that this work will be completed in the coming weeks and the S.I. will be signed into law shortly thereafter.

Driver Test Waiting Lists

Ceisteanna (234)

Aindrias Moynihan

Ceist:

234. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the steps he is taking to reduce the time persons are waiting for full driver licence tests; the target time he is setting for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4447/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

This is a matter for the Road Safety Authority. I have referred the question to the Authority for direct reply. I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response is not received within 10 days.

Driver Test Waiting Lists

Ceisteanna (235)

Aindrias Moynihan

Ceist:

235. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of driver testers available to deal with the demand for tests; the number of additional testers and the deployment plan he will put in place to reduce waiting times; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4448/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

This is a matter for the Road Safety Authority. I have referred the question to the Authority for direct reply. I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response is not received within 10 days.

Taxi Regulations

Ceisteanna (236)

Imelda Munster

Ceist:

236. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to introduce a policy to allow persons who are not taxi licence holders to take fares in their locality in rural areas which do not have access to taxi services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4449/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As the Deputy is aware, the regulation of the small public service vehicle (SPSV) industry is a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA) under the provisions of the Taxi Regulation Act 2013.

It is understood that the Deputy is referring to the licensing of local area hackneys in her question. Furthermore, under the Taxi Regulation Act 2003 (Local Area Hackney) Regulations 2013, the NTA is responsible for the granting and renewing of local area hackney licences.

Given the particular role of the Authority in these matters, I have referred your question to the NTA for direct reply to you. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within 10 working days.

Vehicle Clamping

Ceisteanna (237)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

237. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the regulations that allow a parking agency to clamp and fine in cases in which a person has paid the parking fee but has made a clerical error when entering information such as bay number; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4463/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The Vehicle Clamping Act 2015 came into full effect on 1st October 2017 and gave the National Transport Authority (NTA) responsibilty for the regulation of vehicle clamping activities in both statutory and non-statutory (privately-owned) clamping places throughout the State. Therefore, I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the NTA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

EU Directives

Ceisteanna (238)

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

238. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the measures he is taking to address the decision by the EU Commission on 25 January 2019 to issue correspondence of formal notice to Ireland for failing to report on its information exchange relating to road traffic offences as required by EU rules on facilitating cross-border exchange of information on road safety related traffic offences, Directive 2015/413/EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4563/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The matter in question is a technical one. This Directive provides for sharing of information on road traffic offences between EU Member States. Under the Directive, law enforcement authorities in each Member State may use vehicle registrations to check for records of offences in other Member States.

Ireland transposed the Directive in question by means of the European Union (Facilitation of Cross-Border Exchange of Information on Road-Safety-Related Traffic Offences) Regulations 2017 (S.I. No. 371 of 2017). Furthermore, my Department, in conjunction with EU authorities, put in place the necessary IT connections to enable the operation of exchanges of data under the Directive.

The actual making of outgoing requests is a matter for the Garda Síochána and that of making incoming requests is, obviously, a matter for law-enforcement in other Member States.

The question of possible infringement relates to the formal submission to the EU Commission of a report on exchanges that have taken place under the Directive, rather than to compliance with any of the substantive requirements of the Directive. My officials are currently addressing this technical issue and I am confident that it will be resolved satisfactorily for all concerned shortly.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (239)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

239. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport 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. [4586/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

My Department does not have a central procurement Division. Procurement for major State Infrastructure projects is dealt with by the relevant State Agency and the relevant Road Authority in the case of Road Projects.

Coast Guard Services

Ceisteanna (240)

Joe Carey

Ceist:

240. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when an organisation (details supplied) will be reinstated as a declared facility to the Irish Coast Guard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4587/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

All CRBI units are subject to regular review and audit in terms of their operational readiness. This process is still on-going in relation to the unit in question and the outcome will be informed by the wider follow-up to the MCIB report and recommendations in relation to boat operations.

In the meantime, I understand that the Tramore unit of the RNLI are providing the in-shore rescue service for the Tramore area.

Departmental Contracts Data

Ceisteanna (241)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

241. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport 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. [4643/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The information requested by the Deputy is currently being collated by my officials and will be forwarded to the Deputy within 10 working days.

Children in Care

Ceisteanna (242)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

242. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs when the review statistics on placement stability for children in care will be published for 2016 and 2017; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4495/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, publish figures on placement stability in the annual Review of Adequacy report. The most recent Review of Adequacy, for 2016, was published in 2018.

At the end of December 2016, there were 169 children in their third or greater placement within the previous 12 months. This amounts to about 2.7% of children in care at the end of 2016. The comparable in Great Britain is approximately 10% of their care populations. Depending on the individual circumstance, a child on first coming into care could be placed initially overnight in an emergency foster care placement before moving to a short term placement while an assessment is undertaken of their circumstances. This could lead to an application to the Courts for a Care Order and a long term placement.

The data used in the compilation of the Review of Adequacy does not become available for up to 10 months after year-end, and the collection, validation and review of the other material used in the Review can add further delays. I understand that the 2017 Report is currently in the drafting stage.

Children in Care

Ceisteanna (243, 246)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

243. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of children in single care residential placements in each of the years 2015 to 2018. [4496/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

246. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of children in single care foster care placements in each of the years 2015 to 2018. [4499/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 243 and 246 together.

I understand the Deputy to be asking about the number of children who have had a single foster care or residential care placement during their time in care. I therefore propose to answer on the basis of data available on placement stability.

Depending on the reason for admission to care or the circumstances, a child may initially be placed in an emergency placement, and then moved to a stable, long term placement. Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, use the number of children on their third, or greater, placement within a year, as an indicator of placement stability. Figures are published based on that metric.

The following table, which includes figures from the prepublication 2017 Review of Adequacy, shows the overall placement stability indicator for the years 2015-2017. Data is not yet available for 2018.

Overall Placement Stability

2015

2016

2017 (provisional)

Total children in care

6,384

6,267

6,116

Number in less than 3 placements

6,252

6,098

5,974

Number in third placement

132

169

142

Children in Care

Ceisteanna (244)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

244. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of children under 12 years of age in residential placements in each of the years 2015 to 2018. [4497/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I can inform the Deputy that data on the placement of children under 12 in residential care is published in Tusla's annual Review of Adequacy report, which is published annually in arrears. The most recently published Review of Adequacy relates to the year 2016.

In general, Tusla endeavour to place children under 12 in foster care. I understand that in 2016 there were some 3,672 children aged 12 and under in foster care, accounting for approximately 60% of all children in care.

In cases where a sibling group is taken into care, and it is not possible to source a foster care placement where the group can be placed together, a residential placement may be sourced for the sibling group, if it is in the best interests of the children to remain together. Consideration of the suitability of a placement will form a key part of the care planning process.

There are some circumstances where foster care is not an option, such as when an appropriate foster care placement cannot be found, where a child is at an immediate risk and cannot wait for a suitable foster care placement to be identified in a planned way, or where a child has specific therapeutic needs that are best met in residential care. In these cases, a child may be placed in a residential setting.

The following table lays out the numbers of children under 12 placed in residential care in the years 2015 and 2016. The Deputy may be interested to note that there were no children under the age of 6 placed in residential care.

2015

2016

Children under 12 in residential care

39

45

Overall children in residential care (including Special Care)

351

319

% of children in residential care <12

11%

14%

Children in Care

Question No. 246 answered with Question No. 243.

Question No. 247 answered with Question No. 245.

Ceisteanna (245, 247)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

245. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of children in third residential placements within 12 months in each of the years 2015 to 2018. [4498/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

247. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of children in third foster care placements within 12 months in each of the years 2015 to 2018. [4500/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 245 and 247 together.

I can inform the Deputy that Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, use the number of placements a child has in a year as an indicator of placement stability. Data on placement stability is published in Tusla's annual Review of Adequacy report, which is published annually in arrears. The most recently published Review of Adequacy relates to the years 2015 and 2016.

The following table lays out the number of children who have had three or more care placements, by care type, in 2015 and 2016. The totals shown below represent 2.1% in 2015, and 2.7% in 2016, of children in care. This indicates that placements are generally stable for children in care.

Placement Type

2015

2016

Foster care (General)

54

85

Foster care (Relative)

11

7

General residential care

44

57

Special care

7

5

Other

16

15

Total

132

169

Question No. 246 answered with Question No. 243.
Question No. 247 answered with Question No. 245.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services

Ceisteanna (248)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

248. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her views on the number of children and adolescents awaiting treatment and-or assessments from CAMHS (details supplied). [4513/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The CAHMS service is provided by the HSE. The Deputy may wish to redirect this question to my colleague, the Minister for Health.

Adoption Records Provision

Ceisteanna (249)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

249. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if the number of adoption records not in the possession of the State has been identified; the location in which the records are kept; if she has requested the records; her plans to secure same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4556/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I am aware that there is an estimated 50,000 records relating to adoption that are not in the custody of either Tusla or the Adoption Authority of Ireland. The Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016 provides for the Adoption Authority of Ireland to be responsible for collecting, restoring, preserving and safekeeping adoption records, including information relating to persons whose birth was illegally registered. The Bill also creates offences in relation to the concealment, destruction, mutilation and falsification of these records.

Preparatory work in relation to rationalisation of records, and preparation for the implementation, is already underway between the DCYA, Tusla and the AAI.

The protection and collation of these records is of the utmost importance and the mechanism to achieve this is the enactment of the Bill. The Bill is a priority for me and it is my intention to bring it to Committee Stage in the Seanad as quickly as possible.

Illegal Adoptions

Ceisteanna (250)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

250. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of the 126 cases of illegal registration of adopted children identified from an organisation (details supplied) that have been contacted; the number that have been offered counselling; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4557/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The progress made regarding contacting those affected by the cases of illegal birth registrations discovered in the St. Patrick's Guild records is a matter for Tusla. The process of contacting and then supporting those affected is being handled very carefully, on a case by case basis, and at the pace of the individual concerned.

Tusla has advised me that all those affected, who have been contacted by Tusla and who wish to engage with Tusla services, have been offered counselling support.

Illegal Adoptions

Ceisteanna (251, 252)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

251. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of cases of possible illegal registration identified from the review in 2010 by the Adoption Authority of Ireland using data from the National Adoption Contact Preference Register and cross referencing it with the GRO; the number of cases profiled; if this information was provided to her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4558/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Joan Burton

Ceist:

252. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the status of the validation exercise with respect to 140 cases of illegal registrations of adoption reported to her Department by the Adoption Authority of Ireland; if this includes 90 cases reported in 2015; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4559/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 251 and 252 together.

The review carried out by the Adoption Authority of Ireland that the Deputy refers to related to applications it received to the National Adoption Contact Preference Register, and other cases which it had been notified of. In these cases the only exercise the Adoption Authority could carry out was to ascertain if an adoption record existed and to carry out a cross referencing exercise with the GRO. Based on this process there was a suspicion of illegal birth registrations, but it was not possible for the Adoption Authority of Ireland to carry out the same rigorous process as Tusla to be as sure as possible that these individuals' births were in fact illegally registered.

I understand that a detailed review of these suspected cases is still ongoing and there are some data protection concerns which are being addressed in this regard. Part of the exercise will be to cross reference the cases against the already confirmed cases.

However there is no guarantee that in these cases any records exist and if they do, that the required level of evidence exists that will allow a definitive conclusion that an illegal registration has taken place.

To clarify, it was only when the records of the former Adoption Society St. Patrick’s Guild (SPG) were transferred to Tusla that it identified evidence of the practice of illegal birth registrations on index cards created and maintained by SPG. If the marker ‘adopted from birth’ had not been present on the index cards it would have been extremely difficult to identify even the cases that have been found so far.

When Tusla confirmed to the Department that it had identified 126 cases where births were illegally registered from the SPG records, it had been in a position to complete a rigorous process using these records to be as sure as possible that these individuals' births were in fact illegally registered.

Given the potentially life changing implications of notifying people that they have been the subject of an illegal birth registration, the State must have a high level of certainty that an illegal registration has in fact occurred, before informing them. This threshold was reached in the case of the 126 SPG files.