Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (103)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

103. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills when the design team will commence work on a school project (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5974/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

A building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is included in my Department’s 6 year Construction Programme.

A project brief has been finalised and the project will be delivered via the ADAPT programme. The ADAPT programme uses a professional external Project Manager to coordinate and drive the respective design teams on each project.

In this regard, a tender competition is in train to establish a Project Manager framework which is expected to be in place by early March. The formulation of tender documentation is underway and once the framework has been established a tender exercise will be carried out to appoint a Project Manager for this particular project. Whilst the Department must adhere to the Public Procurement rules for the appointment of consultant Design Teams the Building Unit will expedite this process in so far as possible.

All schools with projects on the ADAPT programme will be contacted shortly by my Department to provide an update on the status of their respective project. I wish to confirm to the Deputy that my Department is committed to providing a new school building for the school in question.

Departmental Budgets

Ceisteanna (104)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

104. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Education and Skills the breakdown of the €764,055,000 capital allocation in first, second and early years education within his Department for 2019, by specific project; the projects that will be commenced and completed in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6020/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The capital allocation available to my Department in 2019 under First, Second and Early Years Education amounts to €764,055 and it is envisaged that it will be expended as follows:

Primary and Post-Primary Infrastructure - €622m

Public Private Partnership Costs - €84.055m

Miscellaneous Grants and Services - €54.9m

Special memorial for abuse victims - €0.5m

Administration - €2.6m

The Primary and Post-Primary Infrastructure allocation will be expended primarily on the delivery of large scale projects that commenced on site in 2018 or earlier and remain under construction in 2019 and for large scale projects that are positioned to commence construction in 2019. Almost €450m will be expended on the delivery of large scale projects and on the Additional Accommodation Scheme. Details of the large scale projects and the Additional Accommodation Scheme projects are available on my Department's website which is updated regularly.

The remaining balance available in 2019 will be expended on site acquisitions, the Summer Works Scheme, the Emergency Works Scheme, furniture and equipment provision and other smaller programmes.

The allocation available for Public Private Partnership Costs will be expended primarily on unitary charges associated with the School Bundles delivered to date, the VAT payment arising on the completion of Schools Bundle 5 and a significant extension project.

The Miscellaneous Grants and Services includes the roll out of the Digital Strategy for Schools 2015-2020, for which €210m has been committed in funding for schools ICT Infrastructure. In 2019 (for the 2018-2019 school year), €50m will issue in grant funding to all recognised eligible primary and post-primary schools.

The balance of €4.9m is available for Public Sector Reform which will be employed for the Education and Training Sectors Shared Services projects, These projects will bring Payroll and Finance Shared Services to the Education and Training Boards (ETB) sector, serving the sixteen ETB's providing education at primary and secondary school levels and providing further education and training through SOLAS training programmes and community based schemes.

Non-pay administration costs associated with the delivery of the capital programme amounts to €2.6m

A sum of €0.5m is available for the design and installation of a memorial for the victims of abuse.

Departmental Budgets

Ceisteanna (105)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

105. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Education and Skills the breakdown of the €13,204,000 capital allocation in skills development within his Department for 2019 by specific project; the projects that will be commenced and completed in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6021/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The 2019 capital allocation for skills development amounting to €13.204m is spread across three expenditure subheads of my Department:

1. B1 Administration (Non Pay) - €0.204 m €3 million has been provided for the capital expenditure element of the Departmental Administration Costs in the 2019 REV allocations. This money is allocated for Departmental IT capital costs across the departments' three Programmes; First, Second and Early Years Education, Skills Development and Higher Education. €0.204 million is included under the Skills Development Programme.

2. B3 Grants to SOLAS in respect of Administration and General Expenses - €0.500 m The purpose of this provision is to meet the capital costs of the maintenance of SOLAS headquarters including the ICT infrastructure. An annual grant is paid to SOLAS. The distribution of the allocation is subsequently decided by the Board of SOLAS. The overall allocations for capital expenditure are determined as part of the Estimates process. Payments are made directly to SOLAS on a bi-monthly basis. Capital expenditure is focused on the maintenance / upgrading for health and safety or disability legislation requirements. The 2019 SOLAS Capital Allocation of €0.500m will be spent on necessary ICT equipment and any emergency building works that may arise during the year.

3. B5 Grants to SOLAS in respect of Further Education and Training Activities - €12.500 m An additional €7 million over the 2018 allocation was provided for 2019 under this subhead to address issues with the condition of the existing capital stock, to roll out critical new apprenticeship syllabi and courses, and to consolidate the provision of further education and training in modern fit-for-purpose facilities that enable the delivery of high quality integrated programmes.

A detailed planning and bidding process is currently underway in SOLAS and will be finalised at the end of March 2019. The Education and Training Boards make their Capital bids through the SOLAS Funding Allocation Request system. These are reviewed through an internal due diligence process and allocations are put to the Board of SOLAS for approval.

It is anticipated that this allocation will fund the following in 2019:-

- Carry over from 2018 projects circa €2m

- Specific apprenticeship additional facilities circa €3m

- A strategic allocation (between €200k to €300k) to each ETB for replacement of equipment throughout 2019, totalling circa €4m.

- A bidding process for the balance of circa €3.5m.

Departmental Budgets

Ceisteanna (106)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

106. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Education and Skills the breakdown of the €163,741,000 capital allocation in higher education within his Department for 2019 by specific project; the projects that will be commenced and completed in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6022/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Higher Education Capital Allocation 2019

The capital allocation available to the Higher Education Sector in 2019 is significantly higher than in recent years and will allow a number of priority infrastructure projects to progress, including, for example, a new Engineering, Energy and Environment Institute in TCD and the development of the LIT Coonagh Campus which will have a particular focus on engineering.

In the Higher Education Sector the allocation available for research has increased by €7m from last year and this will facilitate a greater number of research awards to be funded. The higher education allocation available under the PPP subhead will be expended primarily on unitary charges associated with the Cork School of Music and the National Maritime College of Ireland.

The Research Activities budget in 2019 is €47.6 million. This includes funding for the following which will be drawn down in 2019:

- Irish Research Council

- HEAnet

- Irish Centre for High-End Computing

The Third Level Infrastructure budget in 2019 is €90 million. This includes approved funding for the following projects which have commenced or will commence in 2019:

- EduCampus Financial Management and Student Record Systems – due to finish 2019

- Redevelopment of Royal Irish Academy of Music Westland Row

- Apprenticeship Equipment Grant

- HEANet

- Trinity College Engineering, Environment and Emerging Technologies Institute (E3)

- National Children’s Hospital higher education facilities

- IT Dundalk Refurbishment

- GMIT Castlebar Campus building fabric upgrades – due to finish 2019

- DCU St Patrick’s Campus F Block

- IT Limerick Coonagh engineering campus – due to finish 2019

The specific amount to be spent by the Department on each project in 2019 will depend on progress during the year and availability of funds; some projects are co-funded by the Department. Further projects will also come on stream for funding in 2019 as part of initiatives announced in 2018 under the NDP. These will be announced at a later stage.

The Higher Education Public Private Partnership budget for 2019 is €25.9 million. This includes funding for the following

- 3rd Level Unitary Charge Payments

- Higher Education PPP Design Payments.

Departmental Budgets

Ceisteanna (107)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

107. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Education and Skills the capital allocation in capital services within his Department for 2019 by specific project; the projects that will be commenced and completed in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6023/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department has a capital allocation of €941m in 2019 and it is planned to expend the allocation as follows:

Schools Sector - €672m

Higher Education Sector - €137.6m

Further Education Sector - €13m

Public Private Partnership Costs - €110m

Other - €8.4m

The School Sector allocation will be expended primarily on the delivery of large scale projects that commenced on site in 2018 or earlier and remain under construction in 2019 and for large scale projects that are positioned to commence construction in 2019. Almost €450m will be expended on the delivery of large scale projects and on the Additional Accommodation Scheme.

Under the Digital Strategy for Schools 2015-2020, €210m has been committed in funding for schools ICT Infrastructure. In 2019 (for the 2018-2019 school year), €50m will issue in grant funding to all recognised eligible primary and post-primary schools.

The remaining balance available to the School Sector in 2019 will be expended on site acquisitions, the Summer Works Scheme, the Emergency Works Scheme, furniture and equipment provision and other smaller programmes.

The allocation available to the Higher Education Sector in 2019 is significantly higher than in recent years and will allow a number of priority infrastructure projects to progress, including for example, a new Engineering, Environment and Emerging Technologies (E3) Institute in TCD. The allocation includes a sum of €47.6m to support the development of research capabilities across the broad range of disciplines in third level institutions.

A capital allocation of €13m is available for the Further Education Sector and this signals the commencement of significant investment in the sector.

The allocation available for Public Private Partnership Costs will be expended primarily on unitary charges associated with the School Bundles delivered to date and on the Cork School of Music and the National Maritime College of Ireland.

The remaining €8.4m will be expended on Public Sector Reform; on the Department's capital requirements associated with capital services include the provision of necessary office equipment and IT services and on the provision of a special memorial for abuse victims.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (108)

John Curran

Ceist:

108. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress being made to provide a new school (details supplied) in County Dublin; if a site has been identified and secured for the school; the timeline for the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6061/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

A project to construct a new building for the school to which the Deputy refers is on my Department's capital programme. The site identified for the school is in the proposed Clonburris SDZ which has not yet been adopted. A decision on the adoption of the Clonburris SDZ Planning Scheme is expected soon from an Bord Pleanála. Following this decision, the acquisition of the school site can proceed. The lands are in the ownership of South Dublin County Council.

In the interim, my Department is currently working on aspects of the agreement in principle, in order to progress the project planning in anticipation of the final decision regarding the SDZ planning scheme.

Teachers' Remuneration

Ceisteanna (109)

Brian Stanley

Ceist:

109. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Education and Skills when the new PAYE modernisation scheme which came into effect on 1 January 2019 will be utilised by his Department (details supplied). [6077/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Revenue Commissioners introduced real time PAYE (PAYE modernisation) which went live on the 1st January 2019. This was the biggest change to the PAYE system since the 1960s.

From 1 January 2019 employers are required to report their employees’ pay and statutory deductions to Revenue for each payroll issue.

The salary issue relates to the taxation of the substitute staff who were paid in the first payroll of 2019 and in the case of post primary substitute teachers in the second payroll.

In these payrolls , in which the new system was applied for the first time the payroll files that transferred to Revenue inadvertently included an end date for substitute staff. This informed Revenue that these staff would not be paid under this employer number in the future.

This notification caused Revenue to immediately reduce the tax credits and cut off points to zero for this cohort of staff which meant that when they were next paid, there were no tax credits available to be applied to the salary.

This has meant that some substitute staff paid on the payrolls of the 3rd, 10th and 17th January and who have continued to be employed since have been assigned week 1 / cumulative zero credits or emergency tax.

The payroll software has been amended to prevent an end date transferring to Revenue for future payments which means substitute staff paid on payrolls after the 17th January do not have problems with tax credits.

However this software amendment did not correct the issues that arose for the staff who were paid already.

My Department is working closely with Revenue to implement a solution to this problem. A solution is currently being tested in consultation with Revenue. It is expected that this solution will be successful and all primary substitute teachers and substitute non teaching staff paid on the pay issue of the 21st February will have the correct tax deducted.

Work is ongoing in relation to the post primary payroll and it is anticipated that some adjustments will be processed for the payroll issue of the 14th February and further adjustments will be processed for the next pay issue of the 28th February.

There are staff paid on the payroll who are assigned zero credits apart from those impacted by the end date issue. For example in cases where a substitute staff member is retired and in receipt of pension their credits may be assigned to the pension payment and zero credits assigned to the substitute employment. In addition teachers are placed on emergency basis where their tax position has not been finalised with Revenue. Some substitute staff may have other employments and their credits may be assigned to that employment.

Three dedicated email addresses are being monitored for substitute staff with queries. They are Primtch_payroll@education.gov.ie for primary teacher substitutes, PPPayroll@education.gov.ie for post primary teacher substitute and ntspayroll@education.gov.ie for non-teaching staff substitutes.

We are responding to the taxation queries being received by email. Responses should be fully up to date by Tuesday.

Dedicated phone lines are also available for primary substitutes on 09064 84043; post-primary substitutes on 09064 84161; and non-teaching staff on 09064 84136.

My Department is acutely aware of the inconvenience that is being caused by this problem and is working intensively to resolve it.

Discussions are also ongoing with Revenue to establish the most efficient and effective way to refund deducted tax to employees.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (110)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

110. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if SNA hours can be increased for a child (details supplied). [6079/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible for allocating a quantum of Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support for each school annually taking into account the assessed care needs of children qualifying for SNA support enrolled in the school.

The NCSE allocates SNA support to schools in accordance with the criteria set out in Department Circular 0030/2014, which is available on my Department's website at www.education.ie , in order that students who have care needs can access SNA support as and when it is needed.

In considering applications for SNA support for individual pupils, the NCSE take account of the pupils' needs and consider the resources available to the school to identify whether additionality is needed or whether the school might reasonably be expected to meet the needs of the pupils from its current level of resources.

SNAs are not allocated to individual children but to schools as a school based resource.

As this question relates to a particular child, I have referred the question to the NCSE for their direct reply. I do not have a role in making determinations in individual cases.

School Transport Provision

Ceisteanna (111)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

111. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if school transport can be provided for a person (details supplied) in view of the circumstances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6080/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.

There are currently over 117,500 children, including over 13,000 children with special educational needs, transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres annually.

Bus Éireann has confirmed that a school transport service will be available for the child in question when he is ready to return to school.

Summer Works Scheme Applications

Ceisteanna (112)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

112. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of an application by a school (details supplied) [6081/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to confirm to the Deputy that my Department received an application from the school in question under the Summer Works Scheme, Category 6, Roof Works.

The school did not provide some of the information required in accordance with the terms of the scheme and therefore, the application was deemed invalid. However, it is open to the school authority to appeal this decision which will be considered and the school authority will be informed of the outcome.

School Enrolments

Ceisteanna (113)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

113. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the case of a person (details supplied) will be examined. [6082/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The selection and enrolment of pupils is the responsibility of the management authorities in each individual school. My Departments main responsibility is to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking places in an area. However, this may result in some pupils not obtaining a place in the school of their first choice. As schools may not have a place for every applicant, a selection process may be necessary. This selection process and the enrolment policy on which it is based must be non-discriminatory and must be applied fairly in respect of all applicants.

Under section 15 (2) (d) of the Education Act 1998, each school is legally obliged to disclose its enrolment policy and to ensure that as regards that policy that principles of equality and the right of parents to send their children to a school of the parent’s choice are respected.

Under Section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 where a school board of management make a decision to refuse enrolment, a parent/guardian can appeal that decision to the Secretary General of my Department. Where the appeal involves an Education and Training Board (ETB) school, the appeal must be made to the local ETB in the first instance. Further information on the Section 29 Appeals process is available on my Departments website at the following link:

https://www.education.ie/en/Parents/Services/Appeal-against-Permanent-Exclusion-Suspension-or-Refusal-to-Enrol/

or by contacting Section 29 Administration Unit at 0761-108588. In addition, the Educational Welfare Service (EWS) of the Child and Family Agency (Tusla) is the statutory body which can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school placement for their child. The EWS can be contacted at Educational Welfare Service, child and Family Agency, Floors 2-5, Brunel Building, Heuston South Quarter, Dublin 8 or by phone at 01-7718815.

Third Level Institutions

Ceisteanna (114)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

114. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the practices of hazing at Trinity College, Dublin in respect of student initiation into certain societies. [6105/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The practice of taking actions which deliberately cause embarrassment, harassment or ridicule, or which risk emotional or physical harm to members of a group or team or indeed, any individual has no place in our education system or indeed anywhere in the community.

As Minister I have no control over Higher Education institutions or the clubs and societies associated with them, although I am sure that the Higher Education institutions would agree with me that behaviours such as hazing are entirely inappropriate. Where such unacceptable behaviour occurs it is the societies themselves who must ultimately accept responsibility.

I would also note that there is a significant body of valuable work in relation to student welfare and well-being being carried out at present by my colleague the Minister of State for Higher Education, through her work on gender equality and consent at third level. Further to this, the Healthy Campus initiative is being developed and implemented as a strand of the Healthy Ireland framework in consultation between my Department, officials of the Department of Health, and key stakeholders in Higher Education. This initiative aims to ensure that the health of students, including their mental health and well-being, is supported in all our Higher Education institutions.

Teachers' Remuneration

Ceisteanna (115)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

115. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason incorrect tax was deducted in January 2019 from a teacher (details supplied); when the matter will be rectified; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6117/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Revenue Commissioners introduced real time PAYE (PAYE modernisation) which went live on the 1st January 2019. This was the biggest change to the PAYE system since the 1960s.

From 1 January 2019 employers are required to report their employees’ pay and statutory deductions to Revenue for each payroll issue.

The salary issue relates to the taxation of the substitute staff who were paid in the first payroll of 2019 and in the case of post primary substitute teachers in the second payroll.

In these payrolls , in which the new system was applied for the first time the payroll files that transferred to Revenue inadvertently included an end date for substitute staff. This informed Revenue that these staff would not be paid under this employer number in the future.

This notification caused Revenue to immediately reduce the tax credits and cut off points to zero for this cohort of staff which meant that when they were next paid, there were no tax credits available to be applied to the salary.

This has meant that some substitute staff paid on the payrolls of the 3rd, 10th and 17th January and who have continued to be employed since have been assigned week 1 / cumulative zero credits or emergency tax.

The payroll software has been amended to prevent an end date transferring to Revenue for future payments which means substitute staff paid on payrolls after the 17th January do not have problems with tax credits.

However this software amendment did not correct the issues that arose for the staff who were paid already. The person whose details were supplied is one of the substitute staff affected.

My Department is working closely with Revenue to implement a solution to this problem. A solution is currently being tested in consultation with Revenue. It is expected that this solution will be successful and all primary substitute teachers and substitute non teaching staff paid on the pay issue of the 21st February will have the correct tax deducted.

Work is ongoing in relation to the post primary payroll and it is anticipated that some adjustments will be processed for the payroll issue of the 14th February and further adjustments will be processed for the next pay issue of the 28th February.

Three dedicated email addresses are being monitored for substitute staff with queries. They are Primtch_payroll@education.gov.ie for primary teacher substitutes, PPPayroll@education.gov.ie for post primary teacher substitute and ntspayroll@education.gov.ie for non-teaching staff substitutes.

We are responding to the taxation queries being received by email. Responses should be fully up to date by Tuesday.

Dedicated phone lines are also available for primary substitutes on 09064 84043; post-primary substitutes on 09064 84161; and non-teaching staff on 09064 84136.

My Department is acutely aware of the inconvenience that is being caused by this problem and is working intensively to resolve it.

Discussions are also ongoing with Revenue to establish the most efficient and effective way to refund deducted tax to employees.

School Accommodation Provision

Ceisteanna (116)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

116. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a general purpose room will be sanctioned for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6118/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that under the National Development Plan (NDP), increased funding has been provided for the school sector capital investment programme. This funding allows for a continued focus on the provision of new permanent school places to keep pace with demographic demand and also provides for an additional focus on the refurbishment of existing school buildings to include the building and modernisation of PE facilities in schools.

The immediate priority of my Department is providing 20,000 new and replacement school places each year, to ensure that every child has a school place. The focus in the medium will be on the provision of PE halls in post-primary schools.

Teaching Qualifications

Ceisteanna (117)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

117. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the H5 minimum grade requirement in Irish will be retained for entry to the primary professional master of education from 2020 onwards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6120/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Having relatively high minimum entry requirements in core subject areas of Irish, English and Mathematics is one of the key policy levers that help ensure quality teaching and learning in primary schools.

In October 2017, changes were announced setting higher minimum entry standards to primary programmes of initial teacher education for Leaving Certificate Maths and English at Ordinary Level and Irish at Higher Level.

These minimum entry requirements apply in addition to the CAO points required (in the case of the Bachelor of Education) or the third level award requirement (in the case of the Professional Master of Education) for entry to programmes of primary Initial Teacher Education.

On 30th January, I announced the deferral of the introduction of the new minimum entry requirements for primary Initial Teacher Education (ITE) students starting a Professional Master of Education (PME) from 2019 to 2020.

This deferral applies to students who have commenced an undergraduate degree (as distinct from a Bachelor of Education degree) and are planning to apply for the (postgraduate) PME for entry in September 2019.

The new minimum entry requirements are the appropriate standard but the original timing of their introduction may have caused difficulties for some students planning on undertaking a PME as an entry route to primary teaching.

The higher minimum entry requirements, announced in October 2017, will continue to apply from September 2019 for students planning on entering the undergraduate Bachelor of Education (Primary) programme.

In summary, the minimum entry requirements required for students commencing Initial Teacher Education Programmes in 2019 and 2020 are as follows:

Entry 2019 (Professional Master of Education Route) - Irish: H5, English: H7/O5, Maths: H7/O6

Entry 2019 (Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) Route) - Irish: H4, English: H7/O4, Maths: H7/O4

Entry 2020 and beyond (PME and B. Ed Routes) - Irish: H4, English: H7/O4, Maths: H7/O4

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (118)

Michael Moynihan

Ceist:

118. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a proposed new primary school (details supplied) in County Cork; when the project will progress to the construction stage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6121/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Deputy may be aware that the project to which he refers has been devolved for delivery to the Office of Public Works (OPW). The pre-qualification process for the appointment of tenderers in respect of the project is in the final stages of completion. In the meantime, the OPW is in the process of preparing tender documents to issue to the short-listed contractors.

It is a little bit too early at this stage to give a definitive timeline for when construction will begin. However, we expect tender documents to issue in the first quarter of 2019.

Adult Education Provision

Ceisteanna (119)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

119. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a course (details supplied) will go ahead in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6122/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I understand that Kerry ETB recommends a minimum of 13 learners starting on any new Back To Education Initiative (BTEI) course offering a QQI Major award to maximise utilisation of resources. Officials in my Department have consulted with Kerry ETB, who have advised that there were 5 applicants for the course in question, and unfortunately this was not a viable number to run the course.

In certain cases the local manager may decide to run the course with 10 learners if there is a strong rationale for doing so. However, these are exceptional cases, and would only apply to the running of a new pilot course to establish emerging trends and demands.

Kerry ETB have said that all courses are advertised in the local community and it is stated that the course starting is subject to sufficient numbers applying.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (120)

Kathleen Funchion

Ceist:

120. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the failure to request an additional SNA by a school (details supplied) will be investigated in view of the gravity and escalation of the medical condition of a person. [6126/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible for allocating a quantum of Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support for each school annually taking into account the assessed care needs of children qualifying for SNA support enrolled in the school.

The NCSE allocates SNA support to schools in accordance with the criteria set out in Department Circular 0030/2014, which is available on my Department's website at www.education.ie, in order that students who have care needs can access SNA support as and when it is needed.

In considering applications for SNA support for individual pupils, the NCSE take account of the pupils' needs and consider the resources available to the school to identify whether additionality is needed or whether the school might reasonably be expected to meet the needs of the pupils from its current level of resources.

SNAs are not allocated to individual children but to schools as a school based resource.

As this question relates to a particular child, I have referred the question to the NCSE for their direct reply. I do not have a role in making determinations in individual cases.

School Management

Ceisteanna (121)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Ceist:

121. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans for national school principals who are struggling to address the need for one administration day per week (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6140/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

In Budget 2019, school leadership is again supported with an additional release day for teaching principals in primary schools and a further four additional release days for teaching principals in schools with special classes. These additional release days - 18, 24, and 30 depending on the size of the school - will be effective from 1st September 2019.

This builds on measures in previous budgets, including €0.4 million made available in Budget 2018 to fund almost 4600 additional release days for teaching principals in primary schools. This funding provided an increase in the number of release days available to teaching principals in the 2018/19 school year to 17, 23 or 29 days depending on the size of the school.

Any additional increase in the number of release days will be considered as part of the next annual budgetary process alongside the many other demands from the education sector.

Schools Amalgamation

Ceisteanna (122)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

122. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills if specific funding has been committed in respect of a proposed project (details supplied); when such a decision was reached; his role in such a decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6162/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy is aware the decision making authority for any amalgamation is the Patron/Trustees of the schools, and this is subject to the approval of my Department.

Any proposed amalgamation involves extensive negotiations at local level and must be well planned and managed in a manner that accommodates the interests of students, parents, teachers, local communities and contributes to an inclusive education system.

My Department is aware of a proposal from the Patron body and has sought further information in relation to the proposed amalgamation. On receipt of this information further consideration will be given to the proposal.

Passports for Investment Scheme

Ceisteanna (123)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

123. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the historical facts, take-up and status of the passports for sale scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6055/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I understand the Deputy has since clarified that he is referring to the Immigrant Investor Programme of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department. However, I want to be absolutely clear that the State does not operate a ‘passports for sale scheme’ and that an investment under the Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP) does not confer any preferential entitlement to citizenship or an Irish passport.

The IIP was introduced in April 2012 to encourage inward investment to create business and employment opportunities in the State. The requirement for investment in an enterprise in Ireland is €1m per individual investor.

The IIP provides non-EEA nationals with a number of options to invest in Ireland, and successful applicants are granted a permission to reside in Ireland for a fixed period. An investment of €1 million in projects must be made for a minimum of three years, which may be renewable following a review.

If the investment is withdrawn or an investor fails to comply with any of the terms and conditions of the programme, the permission to reside in Ireland maybe withdrawn. An Evaluation Committee comprising representatives of a number of Departments and State Agencies considers the applications.

A breakdown of the number of approvals and the overall value of approved applications - information which has been provided in previous parliamentary questions - is reproduced below for ease of reference.

Application Year

Number of Approved Applications

Total Value of Approved Applications

2012

5

€2,500,000

2013

14

€10,650,000

2014

30

€14,950,000

2015

65

€35,250,000

2016

272

€154,100,000

2017

294

€269,500,000

2018

38*

€32,000,000

TOTAL

718

€518,950,000

*It should be noted that a total of 420 applications were received in 2018 of which 379 are currently being processed. Decisions on a significant number of these applications are expected in the coming weeks once processing has been completed.

A major external review of the IIP is underway and a tender process will be launched shortly to select a suitable candidate to undertake an independent evaluation. It is expected that the review will be concluded in the first half of 2019.

Passport Applications Administration

Ceisteanna (124)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Ceist:

124. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the steps to be undertaken by a non-national with no qualifying ancestral entitlement to secure Irish citizenship; the potential timeframe of each step; the overall process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6056/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Deputy will be aware that the granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is governed by the provisions of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended. All applications for a certificate of naturalisation are processed and assessed individually in accordance with the provisions of the Act. A determination on whether an applicant satisfies the statutory criteria attendant to naturalisation can only be made after an application is received.

In general, it takes 6 months for a fully completed standard application to be processed from the date it is received to the date a decision is made. The nature of the naturalisation process is such that, for a broad range of reasons, some cases can take longer than others to process.

Processing timescales can be impacted due to incomplete applications having to be returned, further documentation being required from the applicant, or where payment of the required certificate fee is awaited, or the applicant has not been engaging with the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department. In certain instances delays can arise at the final stage of the naturalisation process, for example, where additional information comes to light which requires to be considered. In other instances the applicant themselves may request that a hold be put on their application.

The final stage requires the applicant to attend at a citizenship ceremony. Citizenship ceremony days take place periodically throughout the year, at which up to 3,000 candidates for citizenship make their declaration of fidelity to the Irish nation and loyalty to the State, give an undertaking to uphold the laws of the State and to respect its democratic values and receive their certificate of naturalisation.

INIS devotes a considerable resources to the processing of these cases. It also operates a dedicated phone helpline and email helpdesk available for all applicants interested in the progress of their application, details of which are available on the INIS website at www.inis.gov.ie.

The INIS Service Improvement Plan 2018-2020 commits INIS to significant investment in technological developments including the roll-out of online forms and payments for citizenship applications. Such developments are expected to deliver significant improvements to customer experiences.

Finally, as the Deputy will appreciate, the granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is a privilege and an honour which confers certain rights and entitlements, not only within the State but also at European Union as well as international level. It is therefore important that appropriate procedures are in place to ensure that the integrity of the regime for granting Irish citizenship through the naturalisation process is held in high regard both at home and internationally.

Commencement of Legislation

Ceisteanna (125)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

125. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the sections of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 which remain to be commenced; and the status of the implementation of the Act [6076/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 provides a modern statutory framework to support decision-making by adults with capacity difficulties. The Act was signed into law on 30 December 2015 but has not yet been fully commenced. New administrative processes and support measures, including the setting up of the Decision Support Service within the Mental Health Commission (a body under the Department of Health), must be put in place before the substantive provisions of the Act can be commenced.

A number of provisions of the 2015 Act were commenced in October 2016 in order to progress the setting up of the Decision Support Service. The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 (Commencement of Certain Provisions) Order 2016 (S.I. No. 515 of 2016), brought Part 1 (Preliminary and General) and Part 9 (Director of the Decision Support Service) of the Act, other than sections 3, 4 and 7 in Part 1 and sections 96 and 102 and Chapter 3 in Part 9, into operation on 17 October 2016. These provisions were brought into operation in order to enable the recruitment of the Director of the Decision Support Service.

The commencement of Part 8 of the Act, which provides a legislative framework for advance healthcare directives, is a matter for the Minister for Health. The Minister for Health, under the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 (Commencement of Certain Provisions) (No. 2) Order 2016 (S.I. No. 517 of 2016), brought some provisions of Part 8 of the Act into operation on 17 October 2016. The provisions commenced in Part 8 were the definition of “Minister” in section 82; the definitions of “code of practice” and “working group” in section 91(1); and section 91(2). The commenced provisions provide for the establishment by the Minister for Health of a multi-disciplinary group to make recommendations to the Director of the Decision Support Service in relation to codes of practice on advance healthcare directives.

The Minister for Health commenced the remainder of section 91 on 17 December 2018 (S.I. No. 527 of 2018) to enable the Director of the Decision Support Service to progress the preparation of the codes of practice as soon as the multi-disciplinary group submits its recommendations to the Director.

The remainder of the 2015 Act has not yet been commenced. A high-level Steering Group comprised of senior officials from the Department of Justice and Equality, the Department of Health, the Mental Health Commission and the Courts Service, together with the Director of the Decision Support Service, is overseeing the establishment and commissioning of the Decision Support Service and this work is ongoing. The key preparations are being put in place under the oversight of the Steering Group to allow for further commencement orders for the provisions of the 2015 Act to be made when the Decision Support Service is ready to roll out the new decision-making support options. Every effort is underway to ensure that the Decision Support Service has all necessary capacity to open for business as soon as possible. While the Decision Support Service has been working towards being operational and ready for the commencement of the main provisions of the Act in 2020, the situation is being kept under review as the preparatory work on implementation moves forward.

The 2019 Revised Estimates Volume provides for an allocation of €3.5 million in the Justice and Equality Vote for the establishment of the Decision Support Service.

Personal Insolvency Arrangements

Ceisteanna (126)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

126. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 92 of 31 January 2019, the options open to a company or person (details supplied) in such circumstances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6119/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Personal Insolvency Acts provide for three debt solutions, depending on the nature and scale of the person’s means and debts.

As you are aware, a Debt Relief Notice (DRN) is an insolvency arrangement for those with very low income and assets which allows for the write off qualifying debt up to €35,000. Under the Acts, this solution is provided by Approved Intermediaries, who are trained and regulated under the supervision of the Insolvency Service of Ireland.

The other solutions under the Acts are a Debt Settlement Arrangement (DSA) which allows for agreed resolution of unsecured debt without upper limit, and a Personal Insolvency Arrangement, (PIA), which allows for agreed resolution (or, under s.115A of the Acts, court imposition at the debtor’s request) of secured debt such as a home mortgage, as well as any unsecured debts. Under the Acts, these solutions are provided by Personal Insolvency Practitioners (‘PIPs’) , who are likewise trained and regulated under the supervision of the Insolvency Service of Ireland.

I understand from the Insolvency Service of Ireland (ISI) that the Personal Insolvency Act 2012 (Authorisation of Approved Intermediaries) Regulations 2013 (S.I. No. 216 of 2013) sets out the qualification criteria and authorisation requirements, which must be met for a person, a class of person or body corporate to be authorised by the ISI to carry on the practice of an approved intermediary. The qualification criteria includes, inter alia , the requirement that an applicant must have completed a course of study and passed an examination in relation to the law and practice in the State relating to the insolvency of individuals and in relation to the Personal Insolvency Act.

A similar provision is contained in the Personal Insolvency Act 2012 (Authorisation and Supervision of Personal Insolvency Practitioners) Regulations 2013 (S.I. No. 209 of 2013), which sets out the qualification criteria, authorisation requirements and regulatory standards, which must be met for an individual to be authorised by the ISI to carry on practice as a Personal Insolvency Practitioner.

Given its regulatory role with respect to both Approved Intermediaries and Personal Insolvency Practitioners, the ISI ensures that any individual authorised to practise in either role meets the required criteria for authorisation including the necessity to have completed such a course of study and passed the relevant examination. It is open to any individual who is considering making an application for authorisation to contact the ISI's Regulation Division by email (regulation@isi.gov.ie) or phone (076-1064234) to request information on the courses available which would meet the qualification requirement. The ISI has specific guidance available on its website (www.isi.gov.ie) on “How to become an AI” and “How to become a PIP ”, setting out information on the qualification criteria in addition to further details on the respective application processes.

My officials have been advised by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection that, in preparation for the role of Approved Intermediary for the processing of Debt Relief Notices under the Personal Insolvency Act (2012), 134 Money Advisers and Money Advice Coordinators across the country undertook an accredited course with the Ulster University entitled “RoI Insolvency Module” in 2013. This module complies with the regulation requirements of the ISI under S.I. No. 2016 of 2013. In 2018, all eight of the (new) MABS Regional companies registered as Approved Intermediaries and have registered responsible persons who meet the regulation criteria. Companies other than MABS, such as the Irish Mortgage Holders Organisation and IRS - Ireland, are also registered. It is important to note that an Approved Intermediary cannot charge any fee for this service.

MABS has not registered as Personal Insolvency Practitioners, other than in a pilot scheme in Waterford, and therefore does not deal with the other two resolutions under the Act: Personal Insolvency Arrangement and Debt Settlement Arrangement. MABS regularly refers these clients to the Personal Insolvency Practitioner (PIP) experts: under Abhaile, MABS can issue vouchers for an insolvent borrower at risk of losing their home due to mortgage arrears, to receive free advice, financial analysis and help to get a solution to their mortgage arrears into place via a Personal Insolvency Arrangement.

While the law in this area is being kept under review, I am satisfied that the above arrangements represent a proportionate and reasonable protection for indebted persons in this complex area of activity.

Northern Ireland

Ceisteanna (127, 137)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

127. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of the four-person international oversight of paramilitaries established under the Fresh Start agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6185/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Niall Collins

Ceist:

137. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of his interaction with the four-person international oversight of paramilitaries established under the Fresh Start agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6186/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 127 and 137 together.

The Fresh Start Agreement provided for the establishment by the two Governments of the Independent Reporting Commission to facilitate monitoring of the implementation of measures aimed at ending paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland.

An international agreement between Ireland and the UK, establishing the Independent Reporting Commission, was signed in September 2016 and the Agreement was given effect to by legislation in both jurisdictions.

The Commission’s functions are to:

- report annually on progress towards ending continuing paramilitary activity connected with Northern Ireland (or on such further occasions as required);

- report on the implementation of the relevant measures of the three administrations – critical here will be the NI Executive’s Strategy to tackle paramilitary activity and associated criminality; and

- consult the UK Government and relevant law enforcement agencies, the Irish Government and relevant law enforcement agencies and, in Northern Ireland, the Executive, PSNI, statutory agencies, local councils, communities and civic society organisations.

As the Deputy will be aware, on 23 October last year, the two Governments published the Commission's first report. I commend the Commission for its work so far and the efforts it has put into this first report. I welcome the report as an opportune reminder to all of us of the continuing adverse impact on society in Northern Ireland of the culture of paramilitarism that persists in some communities there. The Commission's report is available at its website (www.ircommission.org ).

In the report, the Commission expresses strong confidence in the whole-of-society approach to ending paramilitarism that underlies the measures set out in the Fresh Start Agreement . A striking feature of the report is the clear correlation displayed between the locations of paramilitary activity and areas of social and economic disadvantage in Northern Ireland.

The Commission has reported good progress across a range of the measures that are set out in the Executive's Action Plan for tackling Paramilitarism, Criminality and Organised Crime, and it reported also that there remains a significant amount of work to be done. I am sure the Deputy will join me in urging people on all sides in Northern Ireland, especially those in positions of political influence, to engage fully in this process of positive change for the people of Northern Ireland.

The Commission's report makes clear that there are a range of areas where the full and effective implementation of the Executive’s action plan is hampered by the absence of an Executive in Northern Ireland. It is another reminder of the importance of re-establishing the power-sharing arrangements in order that they can work to address the issues of most importance for people in communities across Northern Ireland.

The Commission will continue its valuable work over the next number of years as per the Agreement between the Governments of Ireland and the United Kingdom. I look forward to the future annual reports of the Commission.