National Drugs Strategy Implementation

Ceisteanna (468)

John Curran

Ceist:

468. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Health the progress which has been made in developing a guidance document to ensure substance use education is delivered in accordance with quality standards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37742/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The National Drug Strategy, Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery, runs from 2017-2025, and actions are being prioritised during this timeframe.

Substance misuse prevention strategies are an effective way of promoting health and wellbeing among the general population. They include measures to prevent early use of alcohol and drugs among young people and to minimise harm, where drug use has started. Drug and alcohol task forces have made a significant contribution through local awareness initiatives and evidence-based approaches.  

Action 2 of the strategy seeks to improve the delivery of substance use education across all services. It will be delivered by developing a guidance document to ensure substance use education and prevention is delivered in accordance with quality standards. The Health Research Board (HRB) is the lead organisation on this action.

Earlier this year, the HRB organised a forum with drug and alcohol task forces to bring professionals together to hear about best practice in drug education and prevention and to look at ways to advance the sector in Ireland. It included inputs from the European drugs agency on drug prevention best practice, and prevention programmes in Northern Ireland, Scotland and the west of Ireland.

HRB funding in 2018 and 2019 has been prioritised to carry out the drug prevalence general population survey. Once the survey has been completed, the HRB will be in a position to allocate resources to further progress this action.

I am committed to developing a health promotion approach to addressing substance misuse in conjunction with Healthy Ireland, the Dept of Education. and other relevant actors.

Drug Rehabilitation Clinics

Ceisteanna (469, 471, 472)

John Curran

Ceist:

469. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Health the number of new treatment episodes from residential and rehabilitation services which have been commissioned in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37743/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Curran

Ceist:

471. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Health the status of improved addiction service provision for under 18 year olds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37745/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Curran

Ceist:

472. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Health the number of new detoxification places in community and residential settings provided in 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37746/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 469, 471 and 472 together.

As these are service matters, they have been referred to the Health Service Executive for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

National Drugs Strategy

Questions Nos. 471 and 472 answered with Question No. 469.

Ceisteanna (470)

John Curran

Ceist:

470. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Health the planned phased increase in the availability of buprenorphine and naloxone treatment as an alternative treatment for the identified cohorts of patients for whom methadone treatment is not suitable as set out in the national drugs strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37744/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Questions Nos. 471 and 472 answered with Question No. 469.

Departmental Reports

Ceisteanna (473)

Jackie Cahill

Ceist:

473. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the timeline, by year and quarter, for the delivery of each action under the First Progress Report by the Bioeconomy Implementation Group in tabular form. [36999/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The timeline by year for the delivery of each action (and sub-actions) including the lead Department and key consultative stakeholders are set out in tabular form in Appendix V (page 43-46) of the First Progress Report by the Bioeconomy Implementation Group that was made publically available earlier this month. 

A quarterly delivery timeline has not been specified by the Group.   

The link to the report is provided at@

https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/media/migration/research/bioeconomy/BIGProgressReport050919.pdf.

Forestry Sector

Ceisteanna (474)

Jackie Cahill

Ceist:

474. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to allow the planting of agroforestry in areas designated as acid sensitive lands; and the size of additional lands which will be eligible in 2019 (details supplied) on designated acid sensitive areas on which planting will be permitted by county in hectares. [37004/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Support for agroforestry is covered under the Forestry Programme 2014-2020.  This programme was subject to a mid-term review which introduced significant increases in both grants and premiums for agro-forestry.  The recent agreement with the EPA to allow agroforestry on acid sensitive sites provides a new opportunity for forestry on this type of land where otherwise planting may not have been approved or may have been subject to certain tests.

There are approximately 150,000 hectares of land in Ireland designated as acid sensitive and this new announcement provides a new avenue for afforestation for those landowners. 

Live Exports

Ceisteanna (475)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

475. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will address a matter regarding certification for the transport of cattle to Turkey (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37042/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

In 2018, total live exports of cattle increased by over 30% compared to 2017, to 246,000 head. This growth trend has continued into 2019, with live exports already totalling 244,000 up until the week ending the 8th of September. This is up from 204,000 for the same period in 2018 – a 20% increase.

Live exports are a critical part of Ireland’s livestock industry.  They play a significant role in stimulating price competition and providing an alternative market outlet for farmers. My Department facilitates this trade, recognising its importance to the agri-food sector, while placing a strong emphasis on the welfare of all animals being transported.

With regard to animal welfare, my Department maintains robust oversight of live trade, through a comprehensive legislative framework, and in my meetings with exporters, I have stressed the importance of high animal welfare standards.

My Department has not certified transport of animals by road to Turkey for several years, due to the unacceptable animal welfare conditions which that route entails. Animals travelling by road from Ireland can only enter Turkey at Kapikule, on the Bulgaria-Turkey border.  It is the busiest border crossing in Europe and animals regularly encounter very long and unpredictable delays there. There are no facilities to offload animals to provide them with statutory rest periods, food and water; there is only a single water point at that crossing. There is no shelter available. Animals have to remain on the trucks during such delays, where they are often exposed to intolerable conditions including extreme heat or cold. 

My Department does not intend to reverse this decision.

Agriculture Scheme Data

Ceisteanna (476)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

476. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of applications received under the beef compensation plan by the closing date of the scheme; his plans to reopen the scheme and relax the condition that to participate in the scheme a farmer must be in one of GLAS, the beef genomics scheme, the knowledge transfer scheme or the Bord Bia quality assurance scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37068/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The object of the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM) is to provide temporary exceptional adjustment aid to farmers in the beef sector in Ireland subject to the conditions set out in EU Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/1132. BEAM is funded by a combination of EU exceptional aid and Exchequer support, provided in light of the difficult circumstances that Irish beef farmers have been facing as a result of market volatility and uncertainty.

Under the scheme, aid will be paid on adult cattle slaughtered between September 24, 2018, and May 12, 2019, at a rate of €100 per animal subject to a maximum of 100 finished animals per herd.  Aid will also be paid on suckler cows that calved in 2018, at a rate of €40 per animal subject to a maximum of 40 sucklers per herd.

In order to be eligible for payment applicants needed to be a participant on one of the following schemes;

- Organic Farm Scheme (OFS)

- Green Low Carbon Agri-Environmental Scheme (GLAS)

- Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot (BEEP)

- Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP)

or

- Be a participant or agree to join the Bord Bia – Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme (SBLAS)

Applications for BEAM were accepted from the 19th August with the deadline for applications extended to midnight of the 15th  September.  32,525 applications were received before this closing date and these will be subject to validation and controls prior to payment. 

Following consultations with stakeholders, I have now extended the closing date further and reopened the online application facility.  Applications can now be submitted until 5pm on Friday 20th September.  I am also happy to facilitate potential applicants at my Department’s tent at the National Ploughing Championships where I will have a dedicated team on site each day to answer any queries potential applicants may have and assist them in submitting their applications.

Brexit Supports

Ceisteanna (477)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

477. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if, in the context of Brexit, he will put a comprehensive package of market support measures in place including direct support for farmers which includes structural and adjustment funding in addition to the setting aside of state aid limits; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37099/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I have had ongoing discussions with Commissioner Hogan regarding the potential impact of a disorderly Brexit. I have stressed the need for the Commission to be ready to deploy a range of measures to mitigate the potential impacts on the agri-food and fisheries sector. Avoiding a no-deal Brexit continues to be the Government’s overriding policy priority.

I am also keenly aware that the recent months have been very difficult for beef farmers in particular. There has been a prolonged and exceptional period of depressed prices since last autumn, with the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the outcome of Brexit, among other factors, contributing to this market disturbance.

In advance of Brexit and in recognition of the impact of the uncertainty around Brexit, amongst other factors, on the Irish beef sectors and prices, the Beef Exceptional Aid Measure (BEAM), with funding of up to €100 million from the EU and the Exchequer, has opened for applications. Following consultation with stakeholders, I have now reopened the online application facility and applications can now be submitted up until 5pm on Friday 20th September.  I am also happy to facilitate potential applicants at my Department’s stand at the National Ploughing Championships where I will have a dedicated team on site each day to answer any queries applicants may have and assist them in submitting their applications. 

Agriculture Scheme Expenditure

Ceisteanna (478, 479, 480)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

478. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if funding for suckler cow farmers will be increased in addition to the existing BDGP and BEEP schemes to bring the total funding to €100 million in budget 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37100/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

479. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if ANC funding will be increased by a further €50 million in budget 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37101/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

480. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to ensure that TAMS funding is increased to €120 million to meet all current and future payment claims ensuring that the full RDP allocation is spent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37102/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 478 to 480, inclusive, together.

Discussions on the 2020 Budget are currently underway between my Department and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and all budget lines in the Vote are being examined as part of that process. My intention is to ensure that all resources made available to my Department, now and in the future, will be managed to advance Government priorities and provide optimum outcomes including in relation to the funding of schemes which underpin farm income and deliver environmental benefits.

Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme

Ceisteanna (481)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

481. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a TAMS application will be finalised for persons (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37120/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The person named made applications on 13 and 20 June 2019 under Tranche 14 of the Young Farmers Capital Investment Scheme.   Both applications have passed the initial administrative checks and have been selected for approval under the ranking and selection process. The cases will now be subject to a final technical appraisal before approval can issue.

Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme

Ceisteanna (482)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

482. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of an application for TAMS 2 by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37160/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The person named made applications on the 13th and 20th June 2019 under the Young Farmers Capital Investment Scheme under Tranche 14 of the scheme.  Both applications have passed the initial administrative checks and have been selected for approval under the ranking and selection process. The cases will now be subject to a final technical appraisal before approval can issue.

Agriculture Scheme Penalties

Ceisteanna (483)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

483. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a 2019 basic payment penalty applied to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry will be withdrawn in view of the information provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37165/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The person named submitted a 2019 Basic Payment/Areas of Natural Constraint scheme application on 16 April 2019. EU Regulations governing the administration of these schemes require that full and comprehensive administrative checks, including in some cases on farm inspections, be completed before any payments issue.

The person named was selected for a Ground Eligibility inspection and a Cross-Compliance check in respect of Good Agricultural and Environmental Conditions (GAEC) 7 which relates to landscape features, designated habitats and the control of invasive species.

During the course of this inspection, a 20% cross-compliance penalty was determined in respect of GAEC 7.  A breach in respect of Statutory Management Requirement (SMR) 1 which relates to Nitrates was also identified.  

Additional breaches were identified by officials in my Department's Veterinary Division and cross-reported to the Cross-Compliance Unit for their attention. This resulted in further penalties being determined in respect SMR 4 which relates to Food and Feed Hygiene and SMR 13 which relates to the Welfare of Farmed Animals

A final cross-compliance penalty of 22% was determined in respect of the 2019 Scheme Year which will be applied to all area-based payments.

An appeal has been submitted on behalf of the person named and this request is currently being examined by the District Inspector. The person named will be notified of the outcome as soon this process has been completed. 

In the event that the person named is dissatisfied with the outcome of this review, the decision can be appealed to the independent Agriculture Appeals Office within 3 months.

Aquaculture Licence Applications

Ceisteanna (484)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

484. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the consideration being given to halting further open sea cage fish farming to protect the marine environment in view of the decision of the Danish Government to halt further open sea cage fish farming in Danish coastal waters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37167/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

Applications for Aquaculture Licences are considered by my Department under the provisions of the 1997 Fisheries (Amendment) Act, the 1933 Foreshore Act and applicable national and EU legislation. The legislation provides for a period of public and statutory consultation.

Decisions in respect of applications are only made following the fullest consideration of all technical, scientific, environmental and public policy aspects of each application.

In addition, any person may appeal a licensing decision to the Aquaculture Licences Appeals Board (ALAB) which is an independent body established by Statute for the purpose of considering appeals of aquaculture licensing decisions.

Accordingly, in view of the rigorous and transparent licensing system operating in Ireland in respect of aquaculture licence applications, there is no valid basis for discontinuing the processing of licensing applications in accordance with statutory procedures.  

Forestry Data

Ceisteanna (485)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

485. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the number of applications received by the Forest Service for planting approval in 2017, 2018 and to the end of June 2019, by county in tabular form; the average amount of time to assess these applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37168/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

The Afforestation Grant and Premium Scheme is a voluntary, demand-led scheme under the Forestry Programme 2014 – 2020.  It is open to land owners considering afforesting all or part of their land to apply.  Applications for afforestation are carefully assessed by officials of my Department.  The application process provides for 30 days for public consultation.  In addition to this, applications are referred to public bodies for their input.  Up to eight weeks is provided for a response from these referral bodies.  Responses and submissions are reviewed as part of the overall assessment of the application.  As such, a decision cannot be made within the first 30 days or where a response is awaited from the relevant public body.

While there is a national target for the amount of land to be afforested each year, there are no regional or county targets.  The table below shows the number of applications for the Afforestation Grant and Premium Scheme received in 2017, 2018 and to 30th June, 2019 for each county.  The average time taken to assess these applications is 18 weeks.

County

2017

2018

2019

Carlow

6

11

5

Cavan

101

68

28

Clare

158

91

60

Cork

116

93

43

Donegal

31

24

9

Dublin

5

2

0

Galway

102

104

35

Kerry

152

136

54

Kildare

15

10

6

Kilkenny

34

23

10

Laois

26

19

7

Leitrim

137

78

39

Limerick

65

40

8

Longford

58

36

17

Louth

6

4

7

Mayo

155

136

55

Meath

27

31

10

Monaghan

32

10

11

Offaly

49

26

13

Roscommon

154

139

60

Sligo

76

55

21

Tipperary

65

42

9

Waterford

24

13

13

Westmeath

91

51

37

Wexford

27

26

4

Wicklow

39

22

14

Forestry Sector

Ceisteanna (486)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

486. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when a person (details supplied) will receive approval for planning of forestry. [37192/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

An application for the Afforestation Grant and Premium Scheme was received in March, 2019 on behalf of the above named.  Every application for the scheme is carefully assessed with respect to its likely impacts on the surrounding environment.  Part of this assessment involves making applications open to public consultation, during which members of the public may make a submission. 

This application has been subject of such a submission. The issues raised by the submission are currently being considered by my Department and I expect officials to be in a position to make a decision on this application in the coming weeks.

Once a decision is made, it will be sent to the applicant, their registered forester and to anyone who made a submission.  It is open to those unhappy with the decision to appeal it to the independent Forestry Appeals Committee.  If the application is appealed, no forestry operations may commence while the appeal is under consideration. 

Agriculture Scheme Payments

Ceisteanna (487)

Pat Breen

Ceist:

487. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to Parliamentary Question No. 1430 of 6 September 2019, the details of the issue that has arisen; the reason a person (details supplied) has not been notified in writing of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37287/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

As stated in the previous reply, an issue arose in respect of the GLAS commonage action in this case. The Department has reviewed the case to confirm the correct claim value. 

The 2018 advance and balance payments will be made shortly. Any underpayments identified will issue as a separate payment.

GLAS payments continue to issue on a weekly basis.  

Knackery Industry

Ceisteanna (488, 519)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

488. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the additional supports, including funding, he will make available to ensure the viability of the knackery industry in view of the severe financial difficulties being experienced as reported by an organisation (details supplied); if the fallen animal scheme will be reviewed; his views on whether the introduction of limits on transportation distances in 2013 has led to increased rendering costs by plants and less competition; the annual funding under the scheme for the period 2013 to 2019, in tabular form; the annual drawdown in funding; and the number of recipients annually by county. [37314/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

519. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will address a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37647/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 488 and 519 together.

Discussions have taken place between the Animal Collectors Association and my Department officials on the animal collection service.

Following those intensive discussions, agreement has been reached that enables the collection of fallen animals from the 17th September. Continued animal collection will be contingent on written correspondence from my Department to the ACA on the agreement reached at the meeting. Further discussions between my Department and the ACA are planned to progress issues relating to supports for the animal collection service.

Horse Sport Ireland

Ceisteanna (489)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

489. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the funding granted to the sport horse industry will be considered for additional funding of €5 million in budget 2020 to enable the industry to achieve objectives (details supplied); if the funding Departments will recognise the benefits of this investment as reflected in figures drawn from a 2016 analysis; if he will meet with the industry to discuss its strategy for the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37330/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My Department is fully committed to maximising the potential of the Sport Horse industry and continues to provide support to it both financially and with policy initiatives. I have demonstrated my commitment to the industry by increasing the budget allocated to Horse Sport Ireland from €2.0m in 2017 to €2.5m in 2018 and I have approved a further increase of €500,000 to €3.0m in 2019.  This is an increase of 50% on the 2017 allocation. I am conscious of the potential of this industry; a recent independent economic assessment estimated the annual economic contribution of the sector to be the region of €816m.

I have recently received a funding submission from HSI for 2020, detail of which the Deputy refers to.  I will consider this detail in the context of the 2020 budget negotiations.  My officials have already met with HSI in this regard.

Aquaculture Licence Data

Ceisteanna (490)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

490. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the aquaculture licences renewed or further renewed pursuant to sections 19 and or 19A of the Fisheries (Amendment) Act 1997; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37362/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My Department does not issue or renew aquaculture licences pursuant to Section 19(A)4 of the Fisheries (Amendment) Act 1997.

Section 19(A)4 of the Act permits an operator who has applied for a renewal of an aquaculture licence to continue operating, subject to the terms and conditions of the original licence held, pending a determination in respect of the licence renewal application in question.

Horse Sport Ireland

Ceisteanna (491)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

491. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will address a matter regarding Horse Sport Ireland (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37426/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

My Department is fully committed to maximising the potential of the Sport Horse industry and continues to provide support to it both financially and with policy initiatives. I have demonstrated my commitment to the industry by increasing the budget allocated to Horse Sport Ireland from €2.0m in 2017 to €2.5m in 2018 and I have approved a further increase of €500,000 to €3.0m in 2019.  This is an increase of 50% on the 2017 allocation.

I have recently received a funding submission from HSI for 2020.  I will consider the detail of this submission in the context of the 2020 budget negotiations. 

In 2016, my Department commissioned Indecon International Consultants to undertake a review of Horse Sport Ireland.  The report was published in 2017. My Department continues to work closely with Horse Sport Ireland on the implementation of the recommendations. I am pleased to note that much progress has been made in that regard.

Brexit Supports

Ceisteanna (492, 493, 494)

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

492. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps which have been taken to protect the fishing industry here in the event of a no-deal Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37441/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

493. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if specific funding will be available to the fishing sector here in the event of a no-deal Brexit; if this funding will be forthcoming from the EU, the State or a combination of both; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37442/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

494. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he has sought specific funding from the EU for the fishing industry here in the event of a no-deal Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37443/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 492 to 494, inclusive, together.

Both my officials and I have had intensive discussions with the European Commission, other relevant Member States and stakeholders regarding the potential negative impact of a disorderly or no-deal Brexit on the Irish fishing industry and the wider seafood sector as whole.  These discussions intensified in recent months and were based on preparatory work already done. 

I have met with the Irish Fishing Industry regularly since the 23rd June 2016, most recently on the 5th  September. A Brexit Information Seminar was held on the 10th September in Dublin, and a further two are to be held on the 27th September in Wexford and the 30th September in Cork.  

The key issues in a no-deal situation which I have stressed in all discussions are the potential loss of access for Irish and other EU vessels to the UK fishing zone, the need to ensure ongoing protection of fish stocks in the waters around Ireland from a subsequent increase in fishing activity and potential supports for the seafood sector to meet the challenges they may face.  It is also important to be aware that, in a no-deal situation, the EU and Ireland could also face a loss of quota share.  

Throughout the discussions, I emphasised the necessity for a co-ordinated European response to ensure that there would be proportionate and equitable use of mitigation measures for the fishing fleet overseen by the Commission.

The outcome of these discussions can be seen in the EU Brexit Contingency plan that was published on the 10th April.  This highlights fisheries as one of the most immediately critical issues facing the EU in a no-deal Brexit.  We now have identified and agreed co-ordinated and fully prepared measures that will be immediately available to address a no-deal Brexit situation on 31st October, if the UK were to decide to deny EU vessels access to UK waters.  As I have stated previously, I am seeking additional EU funds to support these mitigation measures if they become necessary.  Such financial discussions are still ongoing and I can assure the Deputy that the seafood sector will be a key priority for the Government in these discussions.