Flood Prevention Measures

Ceisteanna (144)

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

144. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 189 of 9 July 2019, if the contract has been awarded for the further study of flooding in the area; if the study will be completed by the end of 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37081/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I am advised by Kildare County Council that the contract for further hydrological study into flooding at Hazelhatch has been awarded.

Delivery of revised mapping of the area is scheduled for end of Quarter 4 2019 and the preliminary flood risk management options report is due in Quarter 1 2020.

Forensic Science Ireland Laboratory

Ceisteanna (145)

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

145. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 302 of 23 July 2019, if a preferred tender has been chosen; if so, if a letter of intent or letter of acceptance has issued; the start and completion dates for the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37082/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

Further to my response to Parliamentary Question No. 302 of 23 July 2019 regarding the Forensic Science Ireland Laboratory Project at the Backweston campus, the delivery of this project is managed by the Office of Public Works. A Letter of Intent was issued on 5th September 2019 to the preferred Main Contractor Tender. There is a 14 calendar day standstill period from the date of this letter. Please note that the procurement process for specialist sub-contractors is still underway and no contract will be awarded until that process is complete and the necessary pre-contract meeting takes place and required assurances are subsequently received. It is anticipated this process will be complete by the end of Q3 2019. It is expected to start construction on site in Q4 2019 and complete construction in late 2021/early 2022.

Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Acts

Ceisteanna (146)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

146. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if there is still an obligation under FEMPI legislation to publish an annual FEMPI report; if such a report has been published; if not, when such a report will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37156/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

Section 12 of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2013 (No. 18 of 2013) requires the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to, in respect of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009 (No. 5 of 2009), the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Act 2009 (No. 41 of 2009), the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2010 (No. 38 of 2010) and the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2013 (No. 18 of 2013):

- to carry out a review of the operation, effectiveness and impact of the relevant Acts, having regard to the overall economic conditions in the State and national competitiveness,

- consider whether or not any of the provisions of the relevant Acts continue to be necessary having regard to the purposes of those Acts, the revenues of the State and State commitments in respect of public service pay and pensions,

- make such findings as he or she thinks appropriate consequent on the review and consideration, and

- cause a written report of his or her findings resulting from the review and consideration to be prepared and laid before each House of the Oireachtas.

That requirement remains in force and in that context, the Minister published an Annual Review and Report to the Houses of Oireachtas in June 2019. The Annual Review is attached this response and is also available at the following website:

www.gov.ie/en/collection/68e504-annual-reviews-of-the-fempi-act-2013/ .

Annual Review of the operation of the FEMPI Acts

Flood Prevention Measures

Ceisteanna (147)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

147. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the plans in place to help with flooding in an area (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37169/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

My officials are making enquiries into the issue raised by the Deputy and I will respond to the Deputy directly on this matter.

Forensic Science Ireland Laboratory

Ceisteanna (148)

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

148. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 302 of 23 July 2019, if a preferred tender has been chosen; if a letter of intent or letter of acceptance has issued; the likely start and completion dates for the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37298/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

Further to my response to Parliamentary Question No. 302 of 23 July 2019 regarding the Forensic Science Ireland Laboratory Project at the Backweston campus, the delivery of this project is managed by the Office of Public Works. A Letter of Intent was issued on 5th September 2019 to the preferred Main Contractor Tender. There is a 14 calendar day standstill period from the date of this letter. Please note that the procurement process for specialist sub-contractors is still underway and no contract will be awarded until that process is complete and the necessary pre-contract meeting takes place and required assurances are subsequently received. It is anticipated this process will be complete by the end of Q3 2019. It is expected to start construction on site in Q4 2019 and complete construction in late 2021/early 2022.

Archaeological Sites

Ceisteanna (149)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

149. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the extent of the archaeological excavation being undertaken at Kilkenny Castle; if the missing south wall is exposed and put in context with the castle; if it will be left on public display and be appropriately protected; if historical items found during the course of the excavation will be put on public display in the castle; if he will use the public presentation of the south wall of the castle to highlight the damage done by the Cromwellian forces and the confederation period of the history of Kilkenny; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37336/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The archaeological excavation currently being undertaken at Kilkenny Castle, under licence to the National Monuments Service, is limited to a confined area in the castle courtyard and will last from Tuesday 3rd September until approximately Friday 20th September. The excavation is concentrating on the remains of the 13th century gatehouse. The OPW will consider leaving the remains on display to the public, subject to adherence to health and safety requirements. Any artefacts found on site will be given to the National Museum of Ireland who will determine their significance. The OPW will make efforts to have any items of significance put on permanent display at Kilkenny Castle. Because of its significance in the story of the castle, the Cromwellian siege of the Castle would form part of any public presentation.

Freedom of Information Remit

Ceisteanna (150)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

150. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to include the Abbey Theatre to be subject to freedom of information legislation. [37378/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Freedom of Information Act 2014 greatly expanded the number of organisations that are subject to the legislation, setting out broad criteria at section 6 by which it may be determined whether or not a body is subject to FOI.  At present, approximately 600 organisations are subject to FOI, which is designed to promote openness, transparency and accountability of the public sector.

In general, private companies or charities are not FOI bodies in their own right under the terms of the 2014 Act.  However, it may be noted that the legislation allows in principle for access to records physically held by a company or charity, "if and insofar as" they relate to a service to provided to a public sector body that is subject to FOI.  Such a request should be processed in accordance with the legislation by the relevant public sector body.  Similarly, information relating to funding or other arrangements with the public sector may be requested under FOI through the relevant public body, rather than directly from the private entity concerned. 

Therefore, although private companies or charities are not usually subject to FOI in themselves, relevant information may nevertheless be accessible under FOI where such entities have a sufficiently close nexus with public sector bodies.  As such, there are no plans at present to make the Abbey Theatre subject to the Freedom of Information Act in its own right.

Pension Provisions

Ceisteanna (151, 152)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

151. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will address a matter raised in correspondence (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37471/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

152. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if increases in basic pay between 2018 and 2020 have been passed on to the pensions of persons who retired on or after 1 March 2012 as specified in paragraph 2 of circular 02/2018; if there are exceptions to this; if so, the retired public servants that will not avail of this pension restoration; if retired members of An Garda Síochána are exempt from this paragraph as suggested (details supplied); if so, the reason for this decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37650/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 151 and 152 together.

I would advise both Deputies that pensions for An Garda Síochána are a matter for the Minister for Justice and Equality. However, as the matter raised relates to pension policy for the public service generally, I will address the questions raised.

Firstly, I should clarify that retirement lump sum payments made under public service pension schemes were not directly reduced by the Financial Emergency Measure in the Public Interest (FEMPI) legislation. The FEMPI legislation implemented measures that directly reduced the pay of serving staff and introduced a Public Service Pension Reduction for pensions in payment, subject to certain rates, thresholds and exemptions. As both the annual pensions and lump sum payments of members of pre-existing public service pension schemes (i.e. excluding the Single Public Service Pension Scheme) are directly linked to salary at retirement, the reductions to the pay of public servants would have had a knock on impact on the lump sum payment they received at retirement.

However, because of what is known as the first ‘grace period’, those who retired between 1 January 2010 and 29 February 2012 did not have the first FEMPI pay reduction (imposed 1 January 2010) reflected in the salary rate used to calculate their annual pension or their lump sum. A second round of FEMPI reductions was imposed in 2013 (imposed on 1 July on public servants with an annual remuneration above €65,000). The second ‘grace period’ meant that those who retired from that point onwards (assuming their pay was affected by those reductions while still serving) did not have those reductions reflected in the salary rate used to calculate their annual pension or lump sum.

In the cases referred to by the Deputies, retirement occurred after 1 March 2012 and so the retirement lump sum was calculated by reference to the salary rates in payment on 1 January 2010 (i.e. following the first FEMPI pay reduction). If the salary at retirement was subject to the second FEMPI reduction on 1 July 2013, the operation of the second grace period would mean that the lump sum would still have been calculated by reference to the 1 January 2010 rate.

The two grace periods were the only protections given in relation to the calculation and payment of retirement lump sums in the context of the FEMPI legislation, and I have no proposals to make any change in this regard.

As regards pension increases, the current pension increase policy for pre-existing pension schemes was agreed by the Government as part of the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020 (PSSA). This policy is essentially a time-limited (expires end-2020) resumption of the non-statutory pension increase arrangements, sometimes known as pay parity, which formerly prevailed, but which lapsed in 2010. Under that policy, pay increases applied to serving staff over the course of the PSSA are passed on to those annual pensions where the salary on which the annual pension is based, in any case, does not exceed the salary of a serving staff member with the same grade and scale point, after the pay increase has been applied. If it qualifies, the annual pension is eligible for an increase to the extent that this will ensure alignment with the pay of serving staff.

The guidance on operation of the pension increase policy is set out in my Department’s Circular 02/2018, while further instructions have recently been issued in Circular 19/2019. This guidance is directed to all public service employers including the Department of Justice and Equality as administrators of the pension schemes of retired members of An Garda Síochána.

Youth Guarantee

Ceisteanna (153)

Imelda Munster

Ceist:

153. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount of funding available to Ireland under the EU Youth Guarantee fund in each of the years 2016 to 2020; the amount drawn down under the fund in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the expected amount to be drawn down in 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37015/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) is one of the main EU financial resources to support the implementation of the EU Youth Guarantee. It is integrated into European Social Fund (ESF) programming as a dedicated priority axis within the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020 (PEIL). The specific YEI allocation for Ireland of €68m (for 2014 and 2015) is matched by equal amounts from our ESF allocation and from the Exchequer, giving an overall allocation of €204m. Ireland was not eligible for an additional allocation under the second YEI allocation arising from the mid-term revision of the Multi-annual Financial Framework in 2017, which was focussed on those Member States with youth unemployment rates of higher than 25% in 2016.

All ESF activities, including YEI activities, are fully funded up-front by the Exchequer with the EU (ESF/YEI) funding being claimed in arrears.

The first payment application in respect of the PEIL, which included €112.25m in respect of YEI activities, was submitted to the European Commission in November 2018 resulting in receipts of €67.35m in respect of the YEI/ESF contributions towards the YEI activities. A further payment application was submitted in June 2019 which included €4.75m in respect of YEI activities resulting in receipts of €2.84m.

Further payment applications are in the course of preparation for submission to the Commission this year and it is expected that they will include some €50m in respect of YEI activities. If realised this will bring the total YEI expenditure declared in payment applications to some €167m, leaving €37m to be declared in 2020 or subsequently.

The ESF authorities will ensure that sufficient payment applications are submitted to fully drawdown the YEI/ESF funding allocations.

Apprenticeship Data

Ceisteanna (154)

Imelda Munster

Ceist:

154. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Education and Skills the details of each apprenticeship programme offered; the number of apprenticeships offered in each programme in each of the years 2015 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the number of persons who unsuccessfully sought or applied for apprenticeships; the career areas not covered by the apprenticeship programme; his plans to increase the number of programmes offered in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37016/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

SOLAS do not maintain a record of the number of persons that unsuccessfully sought or applied for apprenticeships as apprentices no not apply to become an apprentice through SOLAS. In order to train as an apprentice a person first needs to be recruited by an approved employer. There is no central record of applications to employers for apprenticeship positions as this is part of wider labour market activity.

While the Apprenticeship Council has issued two formal calls for proposals to develop new apprenticeships and Government is promoting apprenticeships heavily through the Generation Apprenticeship campaign, decisions to develop new apprenticeships are taken by groups of employers with reference to the various options open to them to develop the skills needed in their sectors. Employers in Ireland have responded in large numbers to the calls for proposals and apprenticeships are now much more widely available across sectors. For the first time, apprenticeships have become available in recent years in areas such as auctioneering, biopharmachem, insurance, finance, hospitality and food, ICT and logistics, with further programmes in the pipeline in renewable energy, retail, hairdressing and a range of other sectors. These add to the long-standing base of apprenticeship in areas such as construction, motor and engineering.

In all 20 new apprenticeship programmes are available and 36 more are in development. This will give apprenticeship a broad footprint across the economy but of course some sectors will use other options for skills development.

The details of registrations on programmes sought by the Deputy are in the following table.

Registrations for ALL occupations for years 2015-2019 (end of Aug)

Occupation

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019 (end of Aug)

Accounting Technician

71

88

64

Agricultural Mechanics

59

43

45

41

23

Aircraft Mechanics

34

39

53

74

54

Auctioneering and Property Services

53

59

Brick and Stonelaying

26

52

60

81

54

Butcher

7

16

Carpentry and Joinery

291

399

443

591

374

Chef de Partie

31

11

Commis Chef

25

112

23

Construction Plant Fitting

77

59

86

71

34

Cybersecurity

6

Electrical

956

1343

1705

1841

1189

Electrical Instrumentation

83

106

120

108

73

Electronic Security Systems

28

28

72

65

53

Farriery

7

5

6

9

2

Heavy Vehicle Mechanics

154

136

143

176

96

Industrial Electrical Engineer

12

19

25

17

Industrial Insulation

13

10

21

19

13

Instrumentation

8

10

20

17

9

Insurance Practitioner

67

86

80

25

International Financial Services Associate

15

11

2

International Financial Services Specialist

18

10

3

Laboratory Analyst

2

Laboratory Technician

14

3

Logistics Associate

27

17

Mechanical Automation & Maintenance Fitting

153

163

183

180

109

Manufacturing Engineer (Level 7)

36

20

9

Manufacturing Technology (Level 6)

40

34

15

Metal Fabrication

198

186

224

234

162

Motor Mechanics

423

420

353

380

261

Network Engineer Associate

22

39

OEM Engineer

3

Painting and Decorating

19

27

44

30

22

Pipefitting

37

33

25

49

50

Plastering

7

18

34

29

19

Plumbing

289

345

532

653

437

Polymer Processing Technology

25

15

13

Print Media

8

4

2

Refrigeration and Air Conditioning

75

79

106

119

71

Sheet Metalworking

38

40

53

70

33

Software Developer Associate

39

43

Sous Chef

1

Stonecutting and Stonemasonry

13

2

8

7

1

Toolmaking

62

66

65

79

33

Vehicle Body Repairs

47

58

46

40

36

Wood Manufacturing and Finishing

48

71

59

95

62

Grand Total

3153

3821

4843

5648

3639

Schools Data

Ceisteanna (155)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

155. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if there are sufficient places at second-level in Mullingar, County Westmeath and the wider area. [36959/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

In order to plan for school provision and analyse the relevant demographic data, my Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas and uses a Geographical Information System, using data from a range of sources, to identify where the pressure for school places across the country will arise. With this information, my Department carries out nationwide demographic exercises to determine where additional school accommodation is needed at primary and post-primary level. Approximately 40% of extra school places are delivered by extending existing schools.

As the Deputy will be aware, in April 2018, the Government announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022). The announcement followed nationwide, demographic exercises carried out by my Department into the future need for primary and post-primary schools across the country. While the announcement did not include a new school for the Mullingar School planning area, the requirement for new schools will be kept under on-going review and will have regard for the increased roll-out of housing provision as outlined in Project Ireland 2040.

The Deputy will be aware that a major capital project for St. Finian’s College is included in the Department’s school building programme to be delivered as part of the National Development Plan. In addition, major building projects for 4 post primary schools in Kilbeggan, Rochfortbridge, Castlepollard and Moate are also included in my Department’s school building programme.

The Capital Programme details the school projects that are being progressed under project Ireland 2040. I wish to advise the Deputy that the current status of large-scale projects being delivered under project Ireland 2040 may be viewed on my Department's website, www.education.ie and this information is updated regularly. In addition, a list of large-scale projects completed from 2010 to date may also be viewed on the website.

The Capital Programme also provides for devolved funding for additional classrooms, if required, for schools where an immediate enrolment need has been identified or where an additional teacher has been appointed. Details of schools listed on this programme can be found on my Department's website www.education.ie and this information is also updated regularly.

School Catchment Areas

Ceisteanna (156)

Ruth Coppinger

Ceist:

156. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will revise the boundaries for school catchment areas (details supplied) in Dublin 15. [36981/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

In order to plan for school provision and analyse the relevant demographic data, my Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas and uses a Geographical Information System, using data from a range of sources, to identify where the pressure for school places across the country will arise. With this information, my Department carries out nationwide demographic exercises to determine where additional school accommodation is needed at primary and post-primary level.

The school planning areas are used in the demographic exercise as a basis for the assessment of areas of growth and to inform recommendations on the establishment of any new schools required in that school planning area. There are no current plans to revise school planning areas.

As the Deputy will be aware, in April 2018, the Government announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022), including a new post-primary school to be established in 2020 to serve the Blanchardstown_West_Dublin15 and BlanchardstownVge_Dublin15 school planning areas as a regional solution.

New schools established since 2011 to meet demographic demand are required, in the first instance, to prioritise pupil applications from within the designated school planning area(s) which the school was established to serve. This does not preclude schools from enrolling pupils from outside of the designated school planning area where they have sufficient places.

For school planning purposes, Old River Road is located in the adjacent Mulhuddart_Tyrrelstown_D15 school planning area. As the Deputy may be aware, a new 1,000 pupil post-primary school was established in 2014 to serve the Mulhuddart_Tyrrelstown_D15 and had just over 600 pupils enrolled in the 2018/19 school year.

While the recent announcement did not include a new post-primary school for the Mulhuddart_Tyrrelstown_D15 school planning area, the requirement for new schools will be kept under on-going review and in particular will have regard for the increased roll-out of housing provision as outlined in Project Ireland 2040. My Department will also continue to monitor areas where the accommodation of existing schools may need to be expanded in order to meet the needs of the local population.

Schools Building Projects

Ceisteanna (157)

Ruth Coppinger

Ceist:

157. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has examined the need for extra second-level education places in the Clonee, Phibblestown and Ongar area of Dublin 15 in view of the high demand for places in a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36991/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department's capital investment programme provides for devolved funding for additional classrooms for existing schools where an immediate enrolment need has been identified. All school capital projects that have been approved, by my Department, under the Additional Accommodation Scheme, may be viewed on my Department’s website, www.education.ie, which is updated regularly.

In this regard, I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department has not received an application, for such funding, from the school in question.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (158)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

158. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the new secondary school for Hansfield, Dublin 15; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36995/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy is aware, a new post primary school for the Blanchardstown area is included in the 42 new schools announced in 2018.

In line with the policy on the use of State assets (Department of Public Expenditure and Reform Circulars 11/15 and 17/16), in the first instance my Department is seeking to maximize the use of sites already in its ownership and of available properties in the ownership of other State bodies, where these are considered suitable.

In that context, Department officials are currently considering identified potential site options.

University Governance

Ceisteanna (159)

James Browne

Ceist:

159. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will address a matter (details supplied) regarding allegations of student and staff safety being put at risk; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37018/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I would like to assure the Deputy that my Department and the Higher Education Authority (HEA) consistently seek to treat any information received regarding possible wrongdoing in a higher education institution very seriously.

As the Deputy will be aware, under the current statutory framework, Universities are independent and autonomous bodies and on that basis are responsible for the conduct of their day-to-day affairs. The performance of this role is, however, subject to detailed governance, oversight and accountability requirements.

The Higher Education Authority (HEA) is aware of the matter referred to by the Deputy. In line with usual protocol in such cases, the HEA has raised the matter with the University concerned and has sought a detailed response in relation to the specific issues that have been highlighted. The HEA will update the Department once the response from the University has been considered.

Education Policy

Ceisteanna (160)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

160. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will address a matter regarding issues raised by an organisation (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37034/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Budget 2019 marked the third year of a major reinvestment in education. The budget for the Department of Education and Skills has increased by €674 million this year, a 6.7% increase on last year. In total, the Education budget has increased by €1.7 billion compared to 2016.

This school year sees the numbers employed in our schools reach the highest ever level. Over 1,300 additional posts in schools have been funded, including more than 370 posts to cater for growth in student population and additional special classes. This builds on the Budget 2018 measure which provided a one point improvement in the staffing schedule in primary schools which brings the position to the most favourable ever seen at primary level.

The latest figures in relation to pupil teacher ratio show an improved ratio of teachers to students from 16:1 to 15.2:1 at primary level when comparing the 2015/16 school year to the 2018/19 school year. Average class sizes at primary level improved from 24.9 to 24.3 in the same period.

The Budget 2019 measure which provided for 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 has been implemented for the current school year.

€2.75m was allocated in Budget 2017 to restore middle management positions, i.e. the equivalent of approximately 1,300 posts. The Department has committed to revising the Posts of Responsibility table in the leadership and management circulars to take into account retirements during the school year. This ensures that the current level of Posts of Responsibility are maintained in the school system.

I fully recognise the need to improve capitation funding for schools. I am pleased to have been able to provide for a 5% increase in capitation funding for primary and post-primary schools for the current school year. The first and full year costs of this increase is €4 million and €10 million respectively.

All proposals made in relation to education expenditure will be considered in the context of Budget 2020, having regard to overall resource constraints and other competing demands in the education sector.

Home Tuition Scheme Administration

Ceisteanna (161)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

161. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason the application form for the home tuition scheme for the 2019/2020 school year was released later than usual in 2019; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that this has left many parents in a very uncertain and difficult position; if once approved, payments will be backdated to the date of commencement of the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37036/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department works closely with the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) which has responsibility for working with families and schools and for the provision and coordination of an adequate number of specialist educational places to meet local demand throughout the country.

The NCSE has a national network of Special Educational Needs Officers (SENOs) to plan the necessary provision to meet local need. SENOs assist and advise parents experiencing difficulty finding a suitable school place for their child.

Where a parent cannot secure a suitable school place for their child, they can make an application to the Department for the Home Tuition Grant. The Home Tuition Grant provides funding towards a compensatory educational service for children until a school placement is available. By its nature, it is intended to be a short term intervention.

The application forms and related Circular for this year’s scheme were published on 8th August 2019. Last year, the forms and circular were published of 26 July 2018.

Applications forms are signed by the NCSE local SENO to confirm that no school placement is currently available for a child. SENOs are processing home tuition applications as a matter of urgency.

The Home Tuition Application form outlines that it may take my Department up to 15 working days to process home tuition applications.

My Department is prioritising the processing of Home Tuition applications with a view to processing completed applications within a shorter timeframe.

Tuition cannot commence until a grant approval letter issues from the Department confirming that the terms and conditions of the Scheme have been met.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (162)

Pat the Cope Gallagher

Ceist:

162. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Education and Skills the details of the planned improvements announced recently for a school (details supplied); the cost of the project; the timeline for the delivery of the entire project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37039/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that funding has been approved for the provision of one general classroom, three resource rooms, a two classroom SEN Base and ancillary accommodation at the school to which he refers. As the project has yet to proceed through the public procurement process, the value of the project is commercially sensitive.

It is not possible to provide a timeline for the project as the responsibility for delivery has been devolved to Donegal Education & Training Board and it is now a matter for the Board to advance the project.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (163)

Pat the Cope Gallagher

Ceist:

163. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Education and Skills the details of the planned improvements announced recently for a school (details supplied); the cost of the project; the timeline for the delivery of the entire project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37040/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that funding has been approved for the provision of 7 general classrooms, 2 SET rooms, 1 Technical Graphics room, 2 Science laboratory with Preparation Area, 1 x Art/Crafts room and ancillary accommodation at the school to which the Deputy refers.

As the project has yet to proceed through the public procurement process, the value of the project is commercially sensitive.

It is not possible to provide a timeline for the project as the responsibility for delivery has been devolved to the School Authority and it is now a matter for the Board to advance the project.

Schools Site Acquisitions

Ceisteanna (164)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

164. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if progress has been made in identifying and securing a permanent site for a new school (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37046/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can confirm to the Deputy that my officials have identified a number of potential site options for the school to which he refers. These are currently under consideration.

While a site acquisition process is underway, given the commercial sensitivities associated with land acquisitions generally I am not in a position to comment further at this time. However, I can assure the Deputy that Department officials are working to progress matters as quickly as possible so that the school's permanent location can be confirmed at the earliest possible date.

Third Level Fees

Ceisteanna (165)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

165. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education and Skills if UK nationals who received their schooling here will continue to be eligible for the free third-level fees initiative for undergraduate students on the same conditions as Irish nationals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37069/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

In May 2019, the Governments of Ireland and the UK signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the Common Travel Area, which affords, inter alia, that “Irish and British citizens have the right to access all levels of education and training, and associated student support, in each other’s state, on terms no less favourable than those for the citizens of that state.”

This includes continuing access to the free fees initiative in higher education as relevant.

Schools Building Projects

Ceisteanna (166)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

166. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Skills the school planning areas which cover the Dublin 6W, 8, 10, 12, 20 and 22 postal districts. [37072/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

In order to plan for school provision and analyse the relevant demographic data, my Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas and uses a Geographical Information System, using data from a range of sources, to identify where the pressure for school places across the country will arise. With this information, my Department carries out nationwide demographic exercises to determine where additional school accommodation is needed at primary and post-primary level.

The school planning areas are used in the demographic exercise as a basis for the assessment of areas of growth and to inform recommendations on the establishment of any new schools required in that school planning area. A postal district may comprise (in whole or in part) a number of my Department's school planning areas.

The school planning areas located within (fully or partially) the D6W, 8,10,12,20 and 22 postal districts are as follows:

- Dublin2_Dublin4

- Dublin_6W

- Dublin6_Clonskeagh

- Cabra_Phibsboro_D7

- Dublin_8

- Ballyfermot_D10

- Dolphin's Barn_D12

- Castleknock__D15

- Carpenterstown_D15

- Palmerstown_Ronanstowns_D20_22

- Clondalkin_D22

- Rathfarnham

- Tallaght

- Lucan

- Newcastle_Rathcoole.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (167)

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

167. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 540 of 23 July 2019, if the letter of intent has issued; if a letter of acceptance has issued; when construction will commence on site; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37077/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy is aware, the delivery of the project for Naas Community College has been devolved to Kildare and Wicklow Education & Training Board (KWETB).

The project is still at tender stage and the Letter of Intent has not issued yet. It is expected that the project will commence construction towards the end of this year so that it will be completed before September 2021.