Health Services Provision

Ceisteanna (161)

James Browne

Ceist:

161. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Health if there are supports such as home help available to families struggling to cope with newly born triplets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22232/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

HSE Staff

Ceisteanna (162)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Ceist:

162. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Health the position regarding a lump sum payment in respect of a former employee of the HSE (details supplied). [22234/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I have asked the HSE to respond directly to the Deputy on this matter.

Transport Support Scheme

Ceisteanna (163)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

163. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Health the progress made on a replacement scheme for the mobility allowance and motorised transport grant; the steps taken to date in finalising a new scheme since the old schemes were closed over six years ago; the remaining measures to be undertaken in order to finalise a new scheme as soon as possible; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22235/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Deputy will be familiar with the background to the closure of both the Mobility Allowance and Motorised Transport Grant schemes in February 2013.

On foot of a Government Decision, the Health Service Executive has continued to pay an equivalent monthly payment of up to €208.50, to those who were in receipt of the Mobility Allowance at the time that the scheme closed, (now 3,790 persons at January 2019), pending the establishment of a new statutory transport support scheme.

With regard to the proposals for a new Health (Transport Support) Bill, the Deputy may be aware that my colleague, the Minister for Health and I, brought a Memorandum to Government on proposals for a new Transport Support Payment Scheme.  Following consideration of the matter, it was decided to withdraw the Memorandum from the Cabinet Agenda at that time.  I intend to revert to Government in due course with revised proposals to reflect the discussions at that Cabinet meeting and further discussions between myself and Minister Harris on the best way to progress the Transport Scheme.

It is important to note that the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers scheme, operated by the Revenue Commissioners, remains in place.  This scheme provides VRT and VAT relief, an exemption from road tax and a fuel grant to drivers and passengers with a disability, who qualify under the relevant criteria set out in governing regulations made by the Minister for Finance. Specifically adapted vehicles driven by persons with a disability are also exempt from payment of tolls on national roads and toll bridges. Transport Infrastructure Ireland has responsibility for this particular scheme.

There are improvements in access to a range of transport support schemes available to persons with disabilities in the State and on-going work is being carried out by Government Departments, agencies and transport providers to further improve access to public transport services. Under the National Disability Inclusion Strategy, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport has responsibility for the continued development of accessibility and availability of public transport for people with a disability.

Hospital Appointments Status

Ceisteanna (164)

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

164. Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) will receive an appointment at Cork University Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22238/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

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

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

Disability Support Services Provision

Ceisteanna (165)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

165. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health the status of an application for extra hours of care by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22269/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

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

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services Staff

Ceisteanna (166)

James Browne

Ceist:

166. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Health the position regarding the appointment of registered general nurses to CAMHS for phlebotomy services in County Wexford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22279/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

Hospital Equipment

Ceisteanna (167)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

167. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Health the reason a MRI scanner (details supplied) is still lying idle after two years. [22280/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

Beef Industry

Ceisteanna (168)

Mick Wallace

Ceist:

168. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his Department has a role in relation to Halal certification; if there is a Halal certified slaughterhouse here; and if so, the names of the slaughterhouses. [22214/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The provision of Halal certification on particular consignments for both EU and Third Country destinations is the responsibility of the Food Business Operator, and is a commercial consideration in which my Department has no role.

Halal certificates must be obtained from an Islamic society which is deemed acceptable by the importing authorities in the country of destination. Halal certification is provided in Ireland by various private sector enterprises.

Beef Industry

Ceisteanna (169)

Mick Wallace

Ceist:

169. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the requirement criteria for Irish beef for certification by the Chinese Certification and Accreditation Agency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22215/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

In April 2017, I agreed a Protocol on the export of beef from Ireland to China with the Minister responsible for the Chinese General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), following negotiations between both Departments. This Protocol contains the terms and conditions for the export of beef to China.   

A revised veterinary health certificate for Irish meat being exported to China came into force on June 1st 2018.  This replaced a previous veterinary health certificate for pigmeat being exported to China and coincided with the commencement of beef exports to China.  The certificate states that the product being exported must be produced in line with the Protocol that has been agreed between Ireland and China.

In the case of beef being exported, this must be frozen boneless beef, from cattle aged under 30 months at slaughter and the animals from which the meat is derived must have been born, raised and slaughtered in Ireland.  The live cattle from which the frozen beef to be exported to China is derived, must originate from farms where there has been no clinical cases detected of various diseases historically, including BSE or detected within the past 12 months, including tuberculosis (TB).  Therefore beef can be exported from herds that historically have had TB, as long as it was not within the last 12 months.

Beef can only be exported from a plant that has been approved by the Chinese authorities and listed on their website.  In line with the current Chinese legislation, exporting plants require an on-site inspection visit by the Chinese inspectors prior to being approved. 

National Broadband Plan

Ceisteanna (170)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

170. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of the roll out of the national broadband plan at a location (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22181/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The purpose of the National Broadband Plan is to ensure that over 1.1 million of our citizens in rural Ireland have the same opportunity to participate in the digital society as citizens living in urban areas. The availability of ubiquitous high speed broadband will bring significant benefits in areas of e-Health, e-Education, smart farming, regional development and tourism. The premises referenced by the Deputy is in the AMBER area on the National Broadband Plan (NBP) High Speed Broadband Map, which is available on my Department's website at www.broadband.gov.ie .

The AMBER areas represent the target areas for the proposed State led Intervention under the NBP.

This intervention is the subject of the procurement process to engage a company to build, operate and maintain the NBP State intervention network. Following rigorous evaluation by my Department, I recently brought a recommendation to Government to confer Preferred Bidder status on Granahan McCourt, the remaining bidder in the NBP procurement process and Government agreed to this at its meeting on 7 May.

The Government Decision means that it is intended to award the State Intervention contract to the Bidder. This award is subject to contract close including finalisation of financial and legal documents. Deployment of the NBP State Intervention network will commence shortly after that. The Bidder has indicated that the NBP State intervention will take an estimated 7 years from the beginning of deployment

In the first year of this roll out, the Bidder will deploy approximately 300 Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) across all counties. It is anticipated that between 7 and 23 BCPs will be deployed in each county. BCPs will provide a community based high speed broadband service, enhancing online participation and allowing for the establishment of digital work hubs in these locations.

A deployment plan will be made available by the Bidder once the contract is signed. The Bidder is aiming to pass 133,000 premises by end of the second year of the overall deployment, with 70-100,000 passed each year thereafter until roll out is completed.

I will ask my Department to make direct contact with the Deputy's constituent.

Climate Change Adaptation Plans

Ceisteanna (171)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

171. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if his officials are involved in climate change initiatives. [22084/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

My Department currently has a total of 66 staff assigned to climate and related energy policy functions, across eight separate divisions. This staff complement has significant experience in developing and implementing climate and energy policy at international, EU, national, regional and local levels. In addition to its own staff, the Department also has access to scientific and technical advice in agencies under its aegis to assist it in delivering the Government’s climate policy objectives. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the competent authority in Ireland for the preparation and annual publication of official inventories and projections of greenhouse gas emissions, and for reporting this data to the European Union and to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Oireachtas receives a summary of the most recent inventory and projections prepared by the EPA each year in the Annual Transition Statement, which I am required to prepare and submit in accordance with the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act 2015.

The EPA also provides a range of expert scientific and technical advice on climate change to the Government. The EPA supports the Department in representing Ireland at relevant meetings of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The EPA also undertakes a number of climate-related research and awareness activities, including the provision of support for the delivery of activities under the National Dialogue on Climate Action. The EPA also produces, in accordance with its statutory mandate, a quadrennial State of the Environment Report which provides an integrated assessment of the overall quality of Ireland's environment, the pressures being placed on it and the societal responses to current and emerging environmental issues. The last such report was published in 2016, includes a specific focus on climate change, and is available from the EPA’s website.

The Department is also supported in the delivery of its policy objectives for the decarbonisation of the energy sector by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). In addition to the delivery of a range of programmes and schemes on behalf of the Department, the functions of SEAI include the preparation of national energy statistics and projections. SEAI also undertakes national energy modelling functions, informed, inter alia, by data collected from the various schemes and programmes that it administers. SEAI had a total of 91 staff as at the end of December 2018. The EPA had a total of 410 staff at that time. While it is difficult to fully disaggregate the number of EPA staff working on climate issues, the EPA estimate this at 32.

The work of both EPA and SEAI inform, in turn, the wider work of the Technical Research and Modelling (TRAM) Group, which provides the overall framework for the provision of technical capacity to Government Departments for climate action policy development and implementation.

TRAM was established on foot of a Government Decision in 2015 and its membership comprises technical experts from relevant Government Departments and Agencies. In addition, representatives of externally contracted bodies providing modelling and analytical support may participate in TRAM meetings. To date, these services have been provided by the ESRI, UCC, UCD and EnvEcon.

National Broadband Plan

Ceisteanna (172)

Declan Breathnach

Ceist:

172. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the equity being invested in the national broadband plan; the way in which the plan is being financed; the way in which the consortium awarded preferred bidder status is being financed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22220/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

National Broadband Ireland (NBI) is a new entity established by Granahan McCourt for the purposes of delivering the NBP. It is this company that will be the signatory to the NBP Contract. The equity of NBI will be invested in NBI via a holding company as would be typical for projects such as this. The holding company will be wholly owned by Granahan McCourt Dublin (Ireland) Limited.

The Bidder will initially commit to invest a minimum level of up to €220 million including equity funding and working capital requirements. This is made up of €175 million from Tetrad Corporation and the rest from Granahan McCourt (Dublin) Ireland Ltd.

Granahan McCourt Dublin (Ireland) Limited and Tetrad Corporation are the investors responsible for providing all of the equity, working capital, performance related security and project deliverables.

Broadband Service Provision

Ceisteanna (173)

Declan Breathnach

Ceist:

173. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if an agreement has been reached in relation to the provision of broadband to rural areas that are awaiting the service; the average cost per linear metre to each household in which the high speed fibre is on a public road; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22221/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

The NBP has been a catalyst in encouraging investment by the telecoms sector. In 2012, less than 700,000, or 30% of Irish premises had access to high speed broadband. Today, 74% of the 2.4 million premises in Ireland can access high speed broadband. The State intervention is the subject of the procurement process to engage a company to build, operate and maintain the NBP State intervention network. I recently brought a recommendation to Government to confer Preferred Bidder status on Granahan McCourt, the remaining bidder in the NBP procurement process and Government agreed to this. The company established to deliver the NBP is called National Broadband Ireland (NBI).

The Government Decision of 7 May 2019 means that it is intended to award the State Intervention contract to NBI. This award is subject to the contract close, including finalisation of financial and legal documents. Deployment of the NBP State Intervention network to the 540,000 premises in the intervention area will commence shortly after that.

In the first year of roll out, the Bidder will deploy approximately 300 Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) across all counties. It is anticipated that between 7 and 23 BCPs will be deployed in each county. BCPs will provide a community based high speed broadband service, enhancing online participation and allowing for the establishment of digital work hubs in these locations. The Bidder is aiming to pass 133,000 premises at the end of the second year, with 70-100,000 passed each year thereafter until roll out is completed.

The design of the NBP State intervention network calls for both overhead and underground sections of cable and the final 'drop' cable used to make the final connection to premises (either overhead or underground ). The number of fibre strands in a particular section will depend on the route design. Each route is specifically designed following a detailed site survey and the route cables are dimensioned to cater for existing and planned (at the time of deployment) premises. The cable dimensioning will include an additional fibre allowance to cater for future capacity requirements.

The cost of roll out per linear metre is information which is commercially sensitive within the telecommunications sector, as this fibre is sourced on the open commercial market. To disclose such information could allow suppliers to gain an unfair advantage and be disadvantageous to the National Broadband Plan (NBP) State intervention as a whole.

National Broadband Plan

Ceisteanna (174)

Declan Breathnach

Ceist:

174. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will consider the use of ESB poles in relation to the national broadband plan for those properties not within reach of a telecom pole; if he will consider involving the ESB in allowing its infrastructure to be used in connecting hard to reach households; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22222/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Communications)

As is required under State Aid guidelines, the procurement process for the NBP was technology neutral. Fibre was proposed by the bidders in the process as the best solution, which involves deployment of fibre cable along poles and ducts within the intervention area. Also under State Aid guidelines as much as possible of the network build will comprise the re-use of existing infrastructure. To align with this requirement, the company to be set up to deploy and manage the network, National Broadband Ireland, will rent this infrastructure from existing infrastructure owners. Infrastructure re-use in this manner ensures the State complies with State Aid guidelines, environmental sustainability best practice, and minimises costs. Having considered the options available regarding the re-use of infrastructure the bidder proposed to predominantly re-use eir's existing regulated infrastructure.

However, the ESB network may still used by National Broadband Ireland where it is more effective than using the eir pole and duct network, including in the circumstances referred to by the Deputy in his question.

Smarter Transport

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Question No. 176 answered with Question No. 77.

Ceisteanna (175, 178)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

175. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the schemes and the allocated funding of each from the capital expenditure from his Department between 1 January and 31 December 2018, under the heading of B8.1 smarter travel sustainable urban transport. [22354/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Robert Troy

Ceist:

178. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the schemes and the allocated funding of each from the capital expenditure of his Department between 1 January and 31 December 2018 under the heading AB8.1 smarter travel and sustainable urban transport. [22176/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 175 and 178 together.

As the Deputy may be aware I have secured significantly improved funding over the period 2018-2021 which will benefit both cycling and walking through funding provided under my Department's Smarter Travel/Sustainable Urban Transport programme and the Cycling / Walking programme.

In 2018 there was approximately €19.4million provided under the Smarter Travel / Sustainable Urban Transport programme.

The breakdown of that expenditure was -

- €2.6million on Smarter Travel measures and €16.8million on Sustainable Urban Transport.

The Smarter Travel programme comprises a number of smaller sub-programmes funded by my Department and the breakdown is provided in the table below -

Smarter Travel Programme

Amount €m

Bike Week

€ 0.39

Smarter Travel Areas

€ 0.49

Mobility

€ 1.06

Active Travel Towns

€ 0.24

Interreg

€ 0.42

Total:

€ 2.6 m

Details of individual projects funded under the Sustainable Urban Transport programme are managed by the National Transport Authority. I have therefore referred your question to the NTA for a more detailed reply in relation to that programme. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A
Question No. 176 answered with Question No. 77.

Road Improvement Schemes

Question No. 178 answered with Question No. 175.

Ceisteanna (177)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

177. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if discussions have taken place on providing funding for the east-west link road and rural roads in general; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17896/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

Proposals to deliver an upgraded East-West route linking Dundalk to Sligo, taking in Cavan, involve linking elements of the national road network and regional roads along as direct a route as possible. Essentially the route involves upgrade/realignment works on the regional routes from Dundalk to Cavan and on national routes from Cavan to Sligo.

As regards the regional road aspect of the proposal which are the subject of this PQ, the improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads in its area is a statutory function of local authorities in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act, 1993.  Works on such roads are a matter for the relevant local authority to be funded from its own resources supplemented by State road grants.  

My Department provided funding to Cavan County Council (acting as lead authority with Monaghan and Louth County Councils) with over €2m in the period 2007-2014 to progress the regional road element of the project to preliminary design. 

This year I gave an allocation of €100,000 to Cavan County Council to enable the Council to undertake a detailed appraisal, in line with the current requirements in the Public Spending Code and the Capital Investment Framework, of the Cavan to Dundalk section of the route.  The aim of this appraisal would be to assess the extent to which the scheme or elements of it can be justified in terms of appraisal and advanced for further consideration in relation to schemes for development post 2021.  Preparation of the appraisal is the responsibility of the Council.

Question No. 178 answered with Question No. 175.

Corporate Governance

Ceisteanna (179)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

179. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of the ongoing investigation into the management practices at an organisation (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22180/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I refer the Deputy to my response to Parliamentary Question No. 70, Ref. 22033/19,.provided earlier today.

Services for People with Disabilities

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Ceisteanna (180)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

180. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if inquiries will be made with the NTA and Bus Éireann if the new bus associated infrastructure being rolled out in Sligo town in 2019 on the S1 and S2 bus stops will be more disability friendly and accessible; if persons with visual impairments will be able to read the new timetable better than before; if these new timetables will be able to be read clearly by persons in wheelchairs in view of the difference in heights required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22212/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport.

Under the Dublin Transport Authority Act 2008, the National Transport Authority (NTA) has functional responsibility for promoting the development of an integrated, accessible public transport network.

In light of the NTA's responsibilities in this matter, I have forwarded your question to the NTA for direct reply to you.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Rail Network Maintenance

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Questions Nos. 182 to 184, inclusive, answered with Question No. 54.

Ceisteanna (181)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

181. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when Irish Rail will provide maintenance to the railway line at the back of Maugheraboy Estate in County Sligo in view of the complaint from neighbours that the vegetation on the fencing separating the houses and the rail line have become overgrown and in need of attention; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22230/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I am responsible for policy and overall funding for public transport.  The maintenance of hedgerows along the rail network is an operational matter for Iarnród Éireann and is carried out by the company in accordance with its statutory remit.  

I have therefore forwarded the Deputy's question to the company for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A
Questions Nos. 182 to 184, inclusive, answered with Question No. 54.