Legislative Measures

Ceisteanna (253)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

253. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the date on which she will advance to Committee Stage in Seanad Éireann the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4560/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

It is my intention to progress to Committee Stage of the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill 2016 in the Seanad Éireann as quickly as possible.

It is intended that a number of Government amendments will be proposed at Committee Stage or Report Stage. These are currently being finalised.

Some of these amendments seek to address concerns raised about elements of the Bill during the debate on Second Stage in the Seanad and by advocates and lobby groups, particularly in relation to the privacy provisions contained in the bill. I am continuing to actively explore all options in relation to facilitating the release of as much birth information as possible to adopted and other relevant persons.

In addition, my Department is consulting with the Data Protection Commissioner to determine if amendments are required to ensure compliance with the GDPR.

Illegal Adoptions

Ceisteanna (254)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

254. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of cases that have been sampled as part of the scoping exercise on illegal registration of adoptions; the methodology being used for the review; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4561/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Following the discovery of cases of illegal registration in the Saint Patrick's Guild records, I initiated a targeted review of adoption records. The purpose of this review is to determine if similar evidence of illegal registration can be identified from the records of other former adoption agencies and other relevant bodies.

This review process is being carried by the Adoption Authority and Tusla and is being overseen by an Independent Reviewer, Marion Reynolds, who is a former Deputy Director of Social Services in Northern Ireland.

I have received two interim reports from the Independent Reviewer, which I have reviewed and which have been published on the Department's website. These reports set out an overview of the methodological approach being taken.

The Review covers the period 1953, when legislation commenced to regulate adoption, and 1996, when all parts of the Child Care Act 1991 were commenced. The interim reports indicate that the review group's intention is to sample approximately 1.5% of the relevant records held by Tusla and the Adoption Authority, which corresponds to 1082 records to be sampled by Tusla and 459 records to be sampled by the Authority. The selected sample will be weighted with 85% covering the period 1953 to 1976. A sample of 15% will be selected covering the period 1977 to 1996 as a means of checking whether illegal registration of births was a continuing practice. A senior Departmental statistician was made available to the Group to assist them in their deliberations.

The findings from this targeted sample of records will provide information to assist me in identifying any necessary next steps.

The final report of the review is expected to be submitted to me before Easter 2019.

Illegal Adoptions

Ceisteanna (255)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

255. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she has been informed by the independent chair of the scoping exercise on illegal registrations of adoptions the sample size of the study and the methodology being used; if it was communicated to or approved by officials in her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4562/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Yes, I have received two interim reports from the Independent Reviewer, which I have reviewed and which have been published on the Department's website. These reports set out an overview of the methodological approach being taken.

As the Deputy will be aware, I initiated this targeted review of adoption records following the discovery of cases of illegal registration in the Saint Patrick's Guild record. The purpose of this review is to determine if similar evidence of illegal registration can be identified from the records of other former adoption agencies and other relevant bodies.

This review process is being carried by the Adoption Authority and Tusla and is being overseen by an Independent Reviewer, Marion Reynolds, who is a former Deputy Director of Social Services in Northern Ireland.

The Review covers the period 1953, when legislation commenced to regulate adoption, and 1996, when all parts of the Child Care Act 1991 were commenced. The review group have indicated in the interim reports that their intention is to sample approximately 1.5% of the relevant records held by Tusla and the Adoption Authority. The selected sample will be weighted with 85% covering the period 1953 to 1976. A sample of 15% will be selected covering the period 1977 to 1996 as a means of checking whether illegal registration of births was a continuing practice. A senior Departmental statistician was made available to the Group to assist them in their deliberations.

The findings from this targeted sample of records will provide information to assist me in identifying any necessary next steps.

Given the sensitive personal data contained in the files, data protection and GDPR issues have arisen, which have delayed the review, but these have now been addressed and work is advanced on extracting and reviewing the records.

The final report of the review is expected to be submitted to me before Easter 2019.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (256)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

256. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of staff working in the procurement area for major State infrastructure projects in her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4572/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

My Department is not currently involved in any major State infrastructural projects. The Procurement Unit in my Department is a small unit that provides procurement advice and assistance to units as required. It also maintains a centralised register of all contracts with supporting documentation and ensures that Departmental policies and guidelines are current and updated as necessary.

Early Years Sector

Ceisteanna (257)

Michael Lowry

Ceist:

257. Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of early years specialists in the better start service in the north and south County Tipperary catchment areas, respectively; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4620/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

There are 7 Early Years Specialists, based in Better Start, assigned to services in north and south County Tipperary. Specialists work across a range of counties in response to service requests.

Under the Access and Inclusion Model, the Better Start Early Years Specialists provide expert advice, mentoring and support to providers and practitioners in early learning and care for children with disabilities.

Departmental Programmes

Ceisteanna (258)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

258. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development if he will expand on the awarding of a grant of €35,000 to erect a mobile telephone mast at a location (details supplied) in County Donegal under the digital innovation programme; if the funds have been awarded to a private company; the benefits expected to result from the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4464/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The Digital Innovation Programme was launched in 2018 with the aim of supporting digital development in Local Authority areas for the benefit of communities.

Applications are required to meet certain criteria that include the project being Local Authority-led and providing evidence that the project will take an innovative approach and provide a public benefit. Collaborative projects and projects that benefit multiple sections of the community are particularly welcome.

The project referred to by the Deputy is an initiative driven by local people and supported by Donegal County Council, who submitted a successful application for funding under the Digital Innovation Programme in 2018. Funding of €35,000 was awarded to Donegal County Council for the project.

A mobile phone operator has also committed to ensuring that the project is completed, reflecting the collaborative nature of the project. No funding has been allocated to that company by my Department.

The expected benefits of this project are wide ranging, from social inclusion to meeting the needs of local businesses. The area of Donegal in question has never had reliable mobile phone coverage, leaving local residents at a distinct disadvantage. The project will be reviewed to ensure that the learnings from the project are fully captured, including the extent to which this particular approach can be replicated in other parts of the country.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (259)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

259. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development 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. [4584/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

Capital spend within my Department occurs across a wide range of schemes, including the town and village renewal scheme, outdoor recreation infrastructure scheme, the local improvement scheme, the rural regeneration development fund, and libraries investment.

Each of these schemes fund small and medium size capital projects to support rural and community development objectives. For example, under the town and village renewal scheme in 2018, funding for projects ranged in value from €20,000 to €200,000 with 224 areas benefiting. Projects funded by the Department are far below the threshold of a major project with, for example, the public spending code requiring cost benefit assessment or cost effectiveness assessment for capital projects valued at over €20 million. Consequently, there are no staff within the Department specifically dedicated to procurement of major infrastructural projects.

Whilst the projects are of a smaller scale value for money remains vital so as to ensure support for as many communities as possible. It is a condition of funding under these scheme that the relevant local authority, or other funded body, follows EU and national public procurement procedures so as to achieve best value for money.

Rent Supplement Scheme Data

Ceisteanna (260)

Brian Stanley

Ceist:

260. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the amount paid out in rent supplements in 2018. [4531/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Rent supplement continues its vital role in housing families and individuals for which the Government has provided €132.4 million for 2019.

The strategic goal of returning rent supplement to its original purpose; that of a short-term income support, has been primarily facilitated by the introduction of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP). The “Rebuilding Ireland - Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness (July 2016), reiterated in the “Housing First National Implementation Plan 2018-2021” (September 2018), is to provide 87,000 flexible housing supports through the HAP and Rental Accommodation Scheme between 2016 and 2021. Part of this commitment will be the transfer of those out of rent supplement with long-term housing needs to HAP with a targeted completion date of these transfers by the end of 2020.

For 2018, expenditure on the scheme was approximately €175.0m; with an average recipient base of 28,700 persons per month in reciept of support throughout the year.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (261)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

261. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a carer's allowance will be awarded to a person (details supplied). [4446/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Carer's allowance (CA) is a means-tested social assistance payment, made to persons who are providing full-time care and attention to a person who has such a disability that they require that level of care.

My department received an application for carer’s allowance (CA) from the person concerned on 28 June 2018.

The evidence submitted in support of this application was examined and the deciding officer decided that although a certain level of care was being provided, the level involved did not amount to full-time care.

The person concerned was notified on 26 November 2018 of this decision, the reason for it and of their right of review and appeal.

The person concerned requested a review of this decision and submitted additional evidence in support of their application.

The review is on-going and once complete; the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Commencement of Legislation

Ceisteanna (262)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

262. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when section 5 of the Social Welfare Pensions and Civil Registration Bill 2017 will be commenced; and if her attention has been drawn to the inconvenience being caused to persons wishing to open a credit union account with no other form of identification than the public services card. [4451/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Under current legislation, a Public Services Card (PSC) cannot be requested by any public or private body or person that is not designated as a specified body in Schedule 5 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 (as amended). The PSC can only be used by public bodies specified in this legislation when conducting a public transaction with the person concerned.

One of the provisions set out in Section 5 of the Social Welfare, Pensions, and Civil Registration Bill 2017 would, if enacted, enable citizens to volunteer their PSC where they wish to use it as a form of proof of identity and/or age. However, it is important to note that a non-specified body could not request or demand the production of a PSC. It simply gives individuals the option to use their PSC if they wish, as proof of identity and/or age, in transactions with non-specified bodies.

The Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Bill 2017 proposes a number of amendments to the Social Welfare Acts, the Pensions Act 1990 and the Civil Registration Act 2004 in addition to the provisions relating to PSC use.

The amendments to the Pensions Act contain a number of key measures relating to Defined Benefit pension schemes. It is intended that these measures will act to support existing provisions in the Pensions Act by providing for further protection for scheme members’ benefits and enhancing employer responsibilities for their schemes. These provisions in particular are very technical and involve complex policy issues. In order to achieve a resilient solution it has been necessary to consult in detail with other Government Departments and obtain numerous legal advices from the Office of the Attorney General on various aspects of the provisions. When these matters have been resolved and amendments approved by Government, an early date for Committee Stage will be requested.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

JobPath Programme

Ceisteanna (263)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

263. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to the difficulties being experienced by clients of Turas Nua who work on a part-time basis (details supplied); if one such case will be examined; and if issues relative to the case will be resolved. [4454/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The JobPath service is an employment activation service that supports people who are long-term unemployed, including those working part time, to secure and sustain full-time paid employment. All jobseekers in receipt of a Jobseeker's payment from my Department are required to be available for and seeking full time employment.

In the case of clients already in part-time employment, the JobPath service will focus on any options or opportunities to increase the level of employment in their current role, or look at possibilities in other areas, which could involve some training, but would provide a more sustainable income and a move away from a jobseeker's payment. It is important therefore that these jobseekers continue to engage with their JobPath provider.

In order to ensure that the JobPath service can arrange job search activities and meetings with personal advisors to take account of work schedules, jobseekers are advised to inform their personal advisor on an ongoing basis of their work commitments and the JobPath contractors are required to be flexible in the provision of the service in that respect.

In regard to the individual case raised by the Deputy, the person concerned was referred to the JobPath Service on 23/3/18 and was in part time employment at that time. He was unable to attend a number of meetings with his personal advisor in October 2018 and as the JobPath contractor had not been provided with details of his work schedule for those weeks, they notified the Department of his non-attendance.

All decisions regarding the application of sanctions for failure to engage with activation services are a matter for the Department and in this case a penalty rate was applied to his payment for two weeks from 17th October to 30th October 2018. In order to review the application of the sanction in this case, an official from the Intreo Centre will make contact with the jobseeker shortly to determine the facts and will also answer any queries he may have regarding part time work and engagement with the JobPath service.

Working Family Payment Applications

Ceisteanna (264)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

264. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a decision will be made on a working family payment application by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4478/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Working Family Payment (WFP) is an in-work payment which provides additional income support to employees on low earnings with children.

An application for WFP was received from the person concerned on 26 November 2018.

The Department wrote to the applicant on 25 January 2019 and has requested additional information.

On receipt of the requested details from the person concerned their WFP application will be processed without delay and they will be notified of the decision.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Income Data

Ceisteanna (265)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

265. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the annual median earnings here between 2015 and 2018 by gender, age and region; and if the CSO will be requested to report on this statistic annually. [4505/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The collation of the information requested by the Deputy does not fall under the remit of my Department, but is rather a matter for the Central Statistics Office.

Social Welfare Benefits Applications

Ceisteanna (266)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

266. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application for a motorised buggy by a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4506/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

According to our records no application has been received from the named person in respect of assistance in obtaining a motorised buggy.

The named person may apply for an Exceptional Needs Payment (ENP) to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection's representative at his local Intreo Centre.

I trust this clarifies the matter.

Community Employment Schemes Administration

Ceisteanna (267)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Ceist:

267. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if all community employment schemes are run privately; if not, if they are run by the State; the person or body deemed to be the employer of the supervisors and assistant supervisors on individual community employment schemes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4508/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The aim of Community Employment is to enhance the employability and mobility of disadvantaged and unemployed persons by providing work experience and training opportunities for them within their communities. It also helps long-term unemployed people to re-enter the active workforce by breaking their experience of unemployment through a return to work routine.

CE schemes are typically sponsored by voluntary and community organisations wishing to benefit the local community. As the employers, these sponsoring organisations contract with the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, on an annual basis, to provide job seekers and other vulnerable groups with good quality work experience and training qualifications to support their progression into employment.

Participants and supervisors on CE schemes are employees of these organisation that receive public funding in the community and voluntary sector, and in some cases are in receipt of income generated from activities undertaken. They are not employees of my Department or public servants.

The Department funds the employment of the CE participants and supervisors and it also provides funding towards training and material costs.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (268)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

268. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason for the delay regarding a carer's allowance application by a person (details supplied) being referred to the social welfare appeals office; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4524/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Carer's allowance (CA) is a means-tested social assistance payment made to a person who is habitually resident in the State and who is providing full-time care and attention to a child or an adult who has such a disability that as a result they require that level of care.

The exact amount of hours or days for which care must be provided is not defined in legislation.

Full-time care and attention can be considered to apply where there is an on-going and daily commitment by the carer and which also generally results in the carer not being able to support him/herself through normal full-time employment.

In addition, a person is not considered to be providing full-time care and attention where they work outside the home in excess of 15 hours per week.

On the basis of the evidence submitted in support of this application, the deciding officer decided that full-time care and attention was not being provided.

The person concerned was notified on 4 September 2018 of this decision, the reason for it and of his right of review and appeal.

My department were notified on 3 November 2018 that the person concerned had appealed the decision to the independent Social Welfare Appeals Office (SWAO).

The first stage of an appeal is a review of the original decision by a different deciding officer; these reviews can take some time. Where this deciding officer is satisfied that the original decision was the correct one, a submission is prepared for the SWAO.

A submission in support of the decision is currently being prepared and will be forwarded shortly to the SWAO.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Carer's Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (269)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

269. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a decision has been made on a carer's allowance application by a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4528/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Carer's benefit (CARB) is a PRSI based payment, made to persons who are providing full-time care and attention to a person who has such a disability that they require that level of care.

An application for CARB was received from the person concerned on 16 November 2018. The application is currently being processed and once completed, the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Benefits Applications

Ceisteanna (270)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

270. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to problems and delays in processing illness benefit and injury benefit claims; the steps taken to remedy the problems; the arrangements in place for persons to be able to contact the illness benefit section when problems arise; and if community welfare officers will be directed to provide assistance to those affected by the interruptions. [4555/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

There has been an increase in claims for Illness Benefit in January. This trend reflects the annual increase at this time of year due to seasonal illnesses.

The transfer of the administration of the illness benefit scheme to the Department’s core business objects platform in 2018 saw significant difficulties arise for a large number of people following implementation. The additional resources deployed at the time to process work and respond to enquiries continue to work on Illness Benefit processing. Design rules have been reviewed to afford greater flexibility in processing of claims and certificates. Payment levels are being maintained at the expected norm for the past number of months. People who are due a payment and whose medical certification is in order continue to receive their payment entitlement promptly. In stating this it is important to note that there are always cases, where people's payments are legitimately stopped, paused, or delayed for a variety of reasons, including the late submission of medical certificates.

Telephone helpline and call handling performance has also been addressed and is now back to normal levels.

The Community Welfare Service is available to support people who apply for or experience issues in relation to their Illness Benefit and face financial difficulties. They may call into or contact their Intreo Centre where Community Welfare Service staff assisted them as necessary.

The Department would like to sincerely apologise for the difficulties experienced by customers in the latter part of last year and believe the action taken to address these have worked and we will continue to work to ensure customers receive a high standard of service.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (271)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

271. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of staff working in the procurement area for major State infrastructure projects in her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4577/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

My Department are not involved in any major State infrastructure projects.

Social Welfare Benefits Applications

Ceisteanna (272)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

272. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if she will address a matter regarding the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4596/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

It appears from our records that no contact has been made by Ms O Connor with our Community Welfare Services.

A Supplementary Welfare Allowance Application form has been issued to Ms O Connor on the 28th January 2019 which also outlines the additional documentation required to process a claim on her behalf.

I trust this clarifies the matter.

EU Directives

Ceisteanna (273)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

273. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 648 of 22 January 2019, if her attention has been drawn to the fact that Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Austria, Bulgaria and the UK have transposed IORP II in view of the fact that the attention of her Department has been drawn to only one country which has transposed the directive to date. [4695/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The over-arching objective of IORP II Directive is to facilitate the development of occupational retirement savings in the EU. Many of the provisions contained within the Directive will support positive reform of the Irish occupational pension sector. The Directive provides for a range of new requirements concerning governance, management standards in schemes, safekeeping of assets, the need for clear and relevant information to members, the removal of obstacles to cross-border provision of pension services and the facilitation of cross border transfer of schemes. There are also provisions that will enhance the powers of the Pensions Authority for effective supervision of occupational pensions.

The IORP II Directive was the result of almost three years of discussion and negotiation and came into force on 12 January 2017. Officials in my Department, supported by the Pensions Authority, are managing the transposition process of the IORP II Directive. This is a substantial Directive and preparation of regulations to transpose the Directive are at an advanced stage. It is expected that transposition into Irish law will be achieved later this quarter. This timeframe is in keeping with many other EU countries. National transposition measures communicated by the Member States to the Commission concerning the Directive are available online on one of the Commission's web sites and the list is updated weekly. No such notifications were published on that website when Parliamentary Question No. 648 was responded to. Since then, and as of 28th January 2019, ten countries have been reported as notifying the Commission of transposing measures.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Homeless Persons Supports

Ceisteanna (274)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

274. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the Dublin Region Homeless Executive has not been issuing Leap cards to homeless families since October 2018 and has no junior Leap cards available; if families will be reimbursed for travel expenses during this period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4462/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Arising from an action in Rebuilding Ireland, my Department is funding an initiative to provide homeless families residing in hotel accommodation and family hubs in the Dublin Region with access to free public transport for essential school journeys.

The Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) is overseeing the implementation of this initiative and, working in partnership with the National Transport Authority, has put arrangements in place for the provision of Leap cards to homeless families. Given that Leap cards have an inbuilt value-limit, the cards are being made available to homeless families on an on-going basis throughout the academic year, via Family Homelessness Action Teams.

The DRHE has informed my Department that the National Transport Authority recently experienced a technical difficulty in registering Leap cards, resulting in a slight delay in their distribution. This issue has been resolved and Leap cards have now been received by the DRHE for distribution.

Election Management System

Ceisteanna (275)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

275. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to move the writ for the European and local elections simultaneously thus allowing the period for poster erection to be run jointly for each election. [4491/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

It is intended to hold the European Parliament and local elections on the same day in May. I will be announcing the date shortly and will make the formal polling day orders in due course. To meet statutory deadlines set out in the European Parliament Act 1997 and the Local Elections Regulations 1995 for the conduct of these polls, including setting the nomination period, polling day orders for each poll may be made on different dates.

However, section 19(7) of the Litter Pollution Act 1997 was amended by the Electoral (Amendment) (No.2) Act 2009, to introduce a 30-day time limit prior to an election taking place, during which election posters can be displayed. At a European or local election posters can only be displayed from 30 days prior to polling day or from the date of the making of a polling day order (whichever is the shorter period). The legislation also provides that election posters must be taken down within 7 days of an election.

Local Government Reform

Ceisteanna (276)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

276. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the cities for which plebiscites on the creation of a position of directly elected mayor will be run on 24 May 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4492/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Following progress of the Local Government Bill 2018 through the Houses of the Oireachtas, the Bill provides for plebiscites on directly elected mayors with executive functions in the local authority areas of Cork City Council, Limerick City and County Council, and Waterford City and County Council. It is intended that the plebiscites will be held at the same time as the local elections in May. The Bill was enacted on 25 January 2019.