Water Services Infrastructure

Ceisteanna (645)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

645. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government when the new Irish Water pipe from Staleen to Ratoath, County Meath, will be complete; and the budget allocated for this new pipeline. [39914/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

Since 1 January 2014, Irish Water has statutory responsibility for all aspects of water services planning, delivery and operation at national, regional and local levels and the matter referred to in the question is a matter for Irish Water in the first instance.

Irish Water has established a dedicated team to deal with representations and queries from public representatives.  The team can be contacted via email to oireachtasmembers@water.ie or by telephone on a dedicated number, 1890 578 578.

Central Statistics Office Data

Ceisteanna (646)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

646. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his views on whether the population statistics provided by the Central Statistics Office are accurate; and the reason he did not accept them in the preparation of the national planning framework in view of the fact that the statistics used are now shown to have major discrepancies. [39915/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

As an innovative, world-class national statistical information agency, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) collects, compiles, analyses and disseminates statistical data in relation to the economic and social life of the country.

The preparation of the National Planning Framework (NPF) was undertaken with the benefit of the latest Central Statistics Office (CSO) Census of Population data, from Census 2016.  The CSO Census data published in 2016 and 2017 formed the baseline on which the detailed demographic and econometric projections undertaken by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) for the purposes of the NPF, were made.

The population statistics provided by the CSO were therefore fully accepted in the preparation of the NPF.

The basis on which it is suggested that there are discrepancies in the statistics used in the preparation of the National Planning Framework is unclear.  It remains the case that the long-term projections set out in the NPF are the best estimate of population change over the period to 2040.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Ceisteanna (647)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

647. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the final agreed tender price, the date of the tender for the contract and the final overall amount paid and the date of the final payment in respect of each capital expenditure project completed since 1 January 2014 by his Department or an agency under the remit of his Department and which ended up costing €10 million or more in tabular form; the reason the final amount paid exceeded the final tender price; the details available in respect of projects in which construction is not complete to date or in which the final settlement account has not been agreed to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39927/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Housing)

My Department has not engaged directly in any project costing €10 million or more in the period concerned.

Local authorities and bodies under the aegis of my Department enter into capital contracts in the course of their work, some of which is funded through the Department's Vote. As regards relevant contracts for which local authorities are responsible, information on expenditure and multi-annual capital commitments is set out in Note 2.8/2.9/2.10 to the Department's Appropriation Accounts for the relevant years (Vote 25 up to 2014; Vote 34 thereafter) which are published by the Comptroller and Auditor General and are available at www.audit.gov.ie/en/Publications, by clicking on "Appropriation Accounts". In relation to water services projects, Irish Water has established a team to deal with queries from Oireachtas members on issues arising in relation to Irish Water's activities. The team may be contacted via email to oireachtasmembers@water.ie or by telephone on 1890 578 578.

Waterways Ireland

Ceisteanna (648)

James Browne

Ceist:

648. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the position regarding houseboats; if there are mooring locations available in Leinster; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39538/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

Waterways Ireland is responsible for the management, maintenance, development and restoration of 1,000 km of the inland navigable waterway system throughout the island, principally for recreational purposes, including the Lower Bann Navigation, the Erne System, the Shannon-Erne Waterway, the Shannon Navigation, the Grand Canal, the Royal Canal and the Barrow Navigation

 Waterways Ireland manages three sites where there is planning permission for liveaboard houseboats on the navigation in Leinster. There are a total of 38 berths under the management of Waterways Ireland at the following locations:

Grand Canal Dock, Dublin         – 20 berths

Sallins, Co. Kildare                    – 12 berths

Shannon Harbour, Co. Offaly    –   6 Berths

There are no berths available at present at these locations. There is a waiting list for those wishing to moor in Grand Canal Dock.

Departmental Funding

Ceisteanna (649)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

649. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the role her Department has in the allocation of grant assistance to a centre (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39544/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

The Taoiseach has indicated that a new simplified process is being put in place to ensure certainty over the levels of funding and delivery mechanisms for the centre referred to by the Deputy, which will provide a substantial addition to the cultural offering in Cork City and County when it is complete.  Under the new arrangements it is intended that responsibility for oversight of the project will transfer to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and discussions in that regard are underway.

Official Languages Act

Ceisteanna (650)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

650. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht when the Official Languages (Amendment) Bill 2017 will be debated and enacted. [39557/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

Following a comprehensive review of the Official Languages Act 2003 and consultation with key stakeholders, the Heads of the Official Languages (Amendment) Bill were submitted to Government on 29th May 2017 and published in June 2017.  In addition, Government approval was received on the same day to proceed with the drafting of the Bill.   

Officials from my Department appeared before the Joint Committee on the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands in November 2017 and again in April 2018 in respect of the Heads of the Bill. The Joint Committee subsequently published its report in May 2018.

A central element of this Bill is the manner in which Irish language speakers are recruited to the public service, while another element is the replacement of the existing language scheme regime by the introduction of language standards for each government sector, with higher standards to be achieved by sectors with greater interaction with the public.

Excellent progress has been made with the drafting of the Bill over the past number of months and it has been listed on the Government's Legislative Programme to be published in the current session.

Following publication, the timescale for enactment will, of course, be an issue for the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Departmental Surveys

Ceisteanna (651)

Pat the Cope Gallagher

Ceist:

651. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht when her Department last conducted a grey seal survey; the outcome of same; her plans to introduce a grey seal management plan; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39541/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

There are two species of seal in Irish waters - the Harbour or Common Seal and the more numerous Grey Seal. Both are protected under the EU Habitats Directive and Ireland is obliged to maintain their numbers at a favourable conservation level. We are also required to monitor their populations and report to the European Commission on their conservation status. A standardised monitoring programme has been in place for both species since 2009.

The most recent report on their conservation status was submitted to the European Commission in April 2019 and is available on the NPWS website  (www.npws.ie/sites/default/files/publications/pdf/NPWS_2019_Vol3_Species_Article17.pdf).

Generally grey seal surveys are conducted during the autumn pupping period. The 2019 grey seal pupping season has commenced and my Department is currently conducting surveys along with the assistance of the Air Corps.

Last February representatives of my Department's National Parks and Wildlife Service met in Killarney with fishermen and representatives of the commercial fishing industry. The detailed discussions covered a broad range of issues including current inshore fishing practices and trends, seal predation on fish, seal behaviour and numbers, as well as the by-catch of seals in fishing gear and the management of seal-fishery interactions.

At the meeting, NPWS undertook to further investigate solutions for deterring seal interactions with static fishing gears and to continue their collaboration with the Marine Institute and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to investigate such problems and their solutions in partnership with the fishing industry. These investigations are on-going with the relevant Departments and agencies.

While seals are a protected species, my Department may issue licenses to cull individual problem seals, and affected persons can apply for such licenses. My Department has no plans to undertake a general cull of seals.

Údarás na Gaeltachta Funding

Ceisteanna (652)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

652. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the steps she will take to rebalance the budget to Údarás na Gaeltachta to ensure it can fulfil its obligations in supporting job creation in areas suffering from a disproportionate level of unemployment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39560/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

At the outset, I should  point out that the National Development Plan 2018-2027 includes a commitment to increase, on an incremental basis, the capital allocation to Údarás na Gaeltachta from the 2018 base level of €7m to €12m annually.

In that context the Deputy will be aware that additional capital funding was allocated to Údarás na Gaeltachta in 2019, bringing its total allocation to €9m in core capital funding this year. In addition to this, I decided, at the beginning of this year to carry forward a sum of €0.7m, unspent by the Department in 2018 and to add it to An tÚdarás’ capital budget. This has resulted in my Department  providing An tÚdarás with a total capital budget of €9.7m in 2019.

When the €3.86m in total funding allocated recently to An tÚdarás under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, as well as the €2m in funding for Páirc na Mara in Cill Chiaráin allocated to An tÚdarás under the Regional Enterprise Development Fund, is included, it results in an overall capital funding allocation of €15.56m being available to An tÚdaras in 2019.

 As the Deputy will be aware, it is through the annual budgetary and estimates process that Exchequer funding is allocated to my department and indeed to all Government Departments. In this context the Deputy will understand  that the  2020 allocation for Irish Language and Gaeltacht organisations, including Údarás na Gaeltachta,  is currently being considered as part of this process.

Needless to say, I can assure the Deputy that I will continue to advocate for  additional capital funding for An tÚdarás in order to further support the organisation in discharging its functions.

Heritage Sites

Ceisteanna (653)

Imelda Munster

Ceist:

653. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if a list and map will be provided identifying all UNESCO sites in south County Louth and County Meath; and if a list and map identifying all historical sites in the counties that do not come under UNESCO will be provided. [39677/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

To be included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, sites or properties of natural and/or cultural heritage must be of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) and meet at least one out of a list of ten eligibility criteria.

Ireland currently has two World Heritage Sites, one of which, Brú na Bóinne, is located in Co. Meath. UNESCO’s website, https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/ provides an interactive map of World Heritage Sites. My Department provides further information on Ireland’s World Heritage sites at www.worldheritageireland.ie.

Under the provisions of the National Monuments Acts 1930 - 2014, my Department has established and maintains the Record of Monuments and Places (RMP), which affords legal protection to all recorded archaeological sites and monuments in the State. The RMP comprises a list of recorded monuments and places, and accompanying maps, for each county. It can be consulted in county libraries and main local authority offices as well as www.archaeology.ie/publications-forms-legislation/record-of-monuments-and-places.

Part IV of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, provides for the protection of our architectural heritage. The Act gives primary responsibility to planning authorities to identify and protect this heritage by including relevant structures on the Record of Protected Structures (RPS). Inclusion on the RPS places a duty of care on the owners and occupiers of protected structures and also gives planning authorities powers to deal with development proposals affecting them and to seek to safeguard their future.  The RPS forms an appendix to each local authority’s County Development Plan and is available on their websites.

A further resource available from my Department is the Historic Environment Viewer for Archaeological and Architectural Heritage which is an interactive map/search facility that enables users to access the Sites and Monuments Record and the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage (NIAH). This can be sourced at http://webgis.archaeology.ie/historicenvironment/.

Maoiniú Údarás na Gaeltachta

Ceisteanna (654)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

654. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Dara Calleary den Aire Cultúir, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta an bhfuil iarratas déanta ag Údarás na Gaeltachta ar mhéadú ar an maoiniú a fhaigheann siad ón Roinn don bhliain 2020; má tá, cad é an méid airgid atá iarrtha agus cén uair a dhéanfar cinneadh ar an iarratas; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [39694/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

I dtús báire, níor mhiste dom a rá go mbíonn plé rialta ag mo Roinn le hÚdarás na Gaeltachta agus go bhfuilim ar an eolas maidir leis na riachtanais airgid atá ag an eagraíocht do 2020 agus, go deimhin, do na blianta beaga eile amach romhainn.

Mar is eol don Teachta, is tríd an phróiseas meastacháin agus cáinaisnéise a ndéantar leithdháileadh ar an soláthar airgid a chuirtear ar fáil ar bhonn bliantúil do mo Roinn agus, go deimhin, do na Ranna Rialtais go léir. Sa chomhthéacs sin, tuigfidh an Teachta go bhfuil an soláthar airgid do na heagraíochtaí Gaeilge agus Gaeltachta, lena n-áirítear Údarás na Gaeltachta  don bhliain 2020, á mheas i gcomhthéacs an phróisis sin faoi láthair.

Sin ráite, is féidir leis an Teachta glacadh leis go leanfaidh mé, feadh mo chumais, ag lorg acmhainní breise don Údarás, laistigh den ollsholáthar airgeadais a bheidh ar fáil do mo Roinn ón státchiste.

Interdepartmental Committees

Ceisteanna (655)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

655. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if she will report on the meeting of the interdepartmental committee on island development; and the actions and timelines agreed. [39711/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

The inaugural meeting of the Interdepartmental Committee for Island Development took place on Tuesday 24 September 2019.  Twelve Government Departments were represented at the meeting, and each made a valuable contribution outlining their roles and policies in connection with the offshore islands.  

I have requested that each Department's representative provide comprehensive details of their current Departmental policies in relation to the islands.  These will be collated by my officials and discussed at the next meeting, with a view to producing a draft consultation document for publication by end-November.  An extensive consultation process with island communities and other stakeholders will follow, which will further inform the policy development process. 

Bilateral meetings will also be arranged between my Department and the various other Departments, agencies and stakeholders to agree a policy document, with a view to presenting same to Cabinet in 2020.

Offshore Islands

Ceisteanna (656)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

656. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the plans, reports and strategy documents published regarding island development or rural development on the islands in each of the years 1996 to 2018 and to date in 2019, by name and publication year in tabular form. [39712/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

The following table sets out a number of reports commissioned by my Department relating to the offshore islands since 1996:

Publication year

Authors

Title

1996

Interdepartmental Co-ordinating Committee on Island Development: 

A strategic framework for developing the offshore islands of Ireland

2001

Cranfield University

The proposed development and day to day management of island airstrips and associated air services

2004

Malachy Walsh and Partners

Review of certain subsidised Ferry Services to the islands

2007

Cranfield University

The proposed development of island airstrips and associated air services to Inishbofin and Tory island

2007

Saltire Management Company

Aran Islands Ro-Ro Service feasibility study

2007

Petrus Consulting

Capital Expenditure on the Islands 1998 - 2004

2010

FGS Consulting report

A Report on the Employment Needs and Development Potential of the Islands

2018

DPER - DCHG Evaluation Unit

Spending Review 2018 - Subsidised ferry Services to Offshore islands

It is my understanding that, over the period concerned, there may have been further reports published by other state agencies, such as the National Island Primary Care Services Review published by the HSE in 2018.

The last comprehensive inter-departmental report on island development was published in 1996.  I have, however, recently established a new Interdepartmental Committee for Island Development, the first meeting of which was held on 24 September 2019.  The committee is charged with producing an integrated cross-Government islands policy to build island sustainability which will be done following an extensive consultation process with the island communities and other stakeholders.  

Wildlife Control

Ceisteanna (657)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

657. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if she will address a matter (details supplied) regarding the health of hares; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39858/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

RHD2 has been present in domestic pet rabbits in Ireland for a number of years. It was first confirmed in the wild in Ireland in July 2019. The first two records came from rabbits – one in Wicklow, the other in Clare. The first report from an Irish hare came on the 9th August – an animal found dying in the Wexford Slobs Nature Reserve.

Since these initial incidents, a request for public involvement has led to more than 50 reports of dead rabbits and hares around the country. Each report has been followed up by the local NPWS ranger. From these incidents the disease has now been confirmed from six different counties – Cork, Clare, Leitrim, Offaly, Wicklow and Wexford.

A post mortem of each dead animal has been carried out by qualified personnel in the regional laboratories of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine. Tissue samples have then been sent to DAFM’s specialist virology lab in Backweston where the RHD tests take place. I am fully satisfied with the objectivity and expertise of the DAFM laboratories.

To date, of the hares tested, two have tested positive and one negative for the disease. NPWS staff around the country are continuing to monitor reports of wild rabbit and hare deaths to gain a fuller understanding of the extent and impact of this disease in Ireland. At least 4 more hares from three different counties are currently with DAFM for testing.

The ongoing monitoring of hare populations and health by the Irish Coursing Club is acknowledged and welcomed. Officials from my Department's National Parks and Wildlife Service will continue to engage with Irish Coursing Club representatives and DAFM with a view to developing an appropriate, effective and workable strategy to deal with the RHD2 virus and counter the threat it poses to the hare in Ireland in the longer term. 

Capital Expenditure Programme

Ceisteanna (658)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

658. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the final agreed tender price, the date of the tender for the contract and the final overall amount paid and the date of the final payment in respect of each capital expenditure project completed since 1 January 2014 by her Department or an agency under the remit of her Department and which ended up costing €10 million or more in tabular form; the reason the final amount paid exceeded the final tender price; the details available in respect of projects in which construction is not complete to date or in which the final settlement account has not been agreed to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39920/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Culture)

The information requested by the Deputy in relation to the capital projects valued in excess of €10m completed by my Department since 1st January 2014 is set out in the following table.

Project

Initial Contract Value

Final Cost

Phase 3 of the Master Development Plan of the National Gallery of Ireland including refurbishment of the Dargan and Milltown Wings (Awarded 2014 and Completed in 2017)

€31.4m

€31.7m subject to final account

As the Deputy will appreciate, it is not possible to provide a final outturn cost where work is ongoing on establishing the final account.

In April 2018, I was pleased to announce details of the ten year plan, “Investing in Our Culture, Language and Heritage 2018 – 2027” setting out the Government’s commitment for capital investment of almost €1.2 billion in Ireland’s culture, heritage and language infrastructure as part of Project Ireland 2040 and I can assure the House that capital projects are appraised, planned, implemented and evaluated in line with the Public Spending Code and best practice guidance outlined in the Capital Works Management framework published by the Office of Government Procurement.

Under this programme my Department is currently providing support for two major capital projects: a four-year redevelopment of the National Library of Ireland involving the upgrading of the East and West Wings of the Library, and the provision of a secure environmentally-controlled archival repository at the National Archives. The projects are being carried out by the Office of Public Works in partnership with the National Library of Ireland and the National Archives.

Following completion of the first phase of the redevelopment project last June, the National Library is now preparing to commence the second phase of the project.

In respect of the National Archives, I am advised that it is intended to undertake the tender for the National Archives Repository Redevelopment over the coming months.