Garda Equipment

Ceisteanna (139)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

139. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when the tender for the handheld devices for the roads policing unit will be published; the timeframe for the procurement of the necessary handheld devices; the reason there has been a delay thus far; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40025/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The resources provided by Government to An Garda Síochána have reached unprecedented levels, with an allocation for 2019 of €1.76 billion. Very significant capital investment is also being made, including investment of €342 million in Garda ICT infrastructure between 2016 and 2021.

The Deputy will be aware that investment in Garda ICT infrastructure was emphasised in the report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland and An Garda Síochána has under 'A Policing Service for the Future' , the implementation plan for that report, committed to commencing the rollout of 2,000 devices to frontline members by the end of the year.

I am informed by An Garda Síochána that it is working with the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) to finalise a tender document in this regard, to allow selection of the preferred telecommunication company as well as suitable devices and services.

Visa Applications

Ceisteanna (140)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

140. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he is satisfied with the level of communication offered by INIS to persons seeking visas and while acknowledging the average processing time of six months the way in which he can improve general communication and speed at which IDs are assigned under the Service Improvement Plan 2018-2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40059/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I understand that the Deputy's reference to visas actually refers to the granting of citizenship through naturalisation. The Deputy will be aware that the granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is governed by the provisions of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended. All applications for a certificate of naturalisation are processed and assessed individually in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

The granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is a privilege and an honour which confers certain rights and entitlements, not only within the State but also at European Union as well as international level. It is therefore important that appropriate procedures are in place to ensure that the integrity of the regime for granting Irish citizenship through the naturalisation process is held in high regard both at home and internationally. These procedures are continually evolving arising from, for example, service improvements due to the introduction of new technology and updated work practices.

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

Specifically, the average processing time from the date an application was received on to the date a decision was made was 6.7 months in 2016, 7.2 months in 2017 and 6.5 months in 2018. Additional security checks can result in some applications taking longer than this average timescale. Such checks are fundamental to maintaining the legitimacy of the naturalisation process both nationally and internationally.

In addition, processing timescales can be impacted due to incomplete applications having to be returned, further documentation being required from the applicant, or where payment of the required certificate fee is awaited, or the applicant has not been engaging with the Immigration Service of my Department. Sometimes the input of several government agencies, both within and without this jurisdiction is needed and the request and receipt of information from these sources can result in delays in processing some applications. Delays can also arise at the final stage of the naturalisation process, for example, where additional information comes to light which requires to be considered. In other instances the applicant themselves may request that their application is put on hold.

The Immigration Service Improvement Plan 2018-2020 commits the Immigration Service to significant investment in technological developments including the roll-out of online forms and payments for citizenship applications. Such developments are expected to deliver significant improvements to customer experiences and processing timescales. Customer improvement is to the fore, a recent example of which is that applicant's Passports are generally returned to them within 2 working days of receipt. This development has been positively received by applicants. As of 11 September 2019, a notice was placed on the Immigration Services website indicating that if an applicant does not receive their passport within 10 working days they should contact the Citizenship office helpline: citizenshipinfo@justice.ie This is a major improvement in comparison to the period of approximately 10 weeks which pertained in the early summer months.

The final stage of a naturalisation process, as it relates to adults, requires the applicant to attend at a citizenship ceremony. Obviously, the applicant does not become an Irish citizen until they attend the ceremony to make their declaration of fidelity to the Irish nation and loyalty to the State, give an undertaking to uphold the laws of the State and to respect its democratic values and receive their certificate of naturalisation.

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

Gambling Sector

Ceisteanna (141)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

141. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the way in which he can progress changes to regulation and enforcement in the gaming sector and if he acknowledged the concerns raised by bingo club operators on the impact the Gambling and Lotteries Amendment Bill 2019 could have on their particular niche industry, including needing a distinction between lotteries and bingo within legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40060/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

In relation to progressing changes to regulation and enforcement in the gaming sector, I can inform the Deputy that the Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Bill 2019 completed all stages in the Seanad on 11 June 2019. I hope to be able to take Report Stage in the Dáil as soon as possible in this session so that the Bill can be finalised and enacted.

During the preparation of the Bill, my Department was made aware of the views of stakeholders. This Bill is an interim reform measure and provides an updated regulatory system for local gaming and lottery activity promoted under a permit or licence in Ireland. This measure will enhance consumer protection and assist the better promotion of lotteries.

Bingo is deemed, by court decisions, to be a lottery activity. Accordingly, a lottery permit or licence must be obtained in accordance with the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956. Lottery licences are issued by the District Court under the Act, with lottery permits being issued by An Garda Síochána.

At present there is no legislative provision for a special distinction for commercial bingo operators whether under the current Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956 or under the Gaming and Lotteries (Amendment) Bill 2019. It is not my intention to change public policy in this regard.

The modernisation of this area of law is an important priority for the Government and the current Bill is an interim step pending further and more comprehensive reform of the gambling area in general.

Parental Leave

Ceisteanna (142)

Eamon Scanlon

Ceist:

142. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the paid parental benefit scheme will be enforced by November 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40069/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, on 23 April 2019, the Government announced that it had approved the priority drafting of the Parental Leave and Benefit Bill 2019. The proposed legislation will provide for two weeks of parental leave and benefit for all new parents in employment or self-employment in respect of babies born on or after 1 November 2019. This will facilitate parents in spending more time with their babies in their critical first 12 months.  I expect the Bill to be published shortly.

Passport Data

Ceisteanna (143)

John Deasy

Ceist:

143. Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of UK citizens currently resident here that hold and do not hold an Irish passport. [40088/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Deputy may wish to note that EEA nationals residing in Ireland, including UK citizens, are not required to register their presence in the State with my Department. My Department, therefore, does not hold the information requested by the Deputy in relation to the number of UK nationals resident in the State.

In relation to the question of UK citizens who hold an Irish passport, this is a matter for my colleague, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade. That Department has advised that it is not possible to determine the number UK citizens currently resident in Ireland that hold and do not hold an Irish Passport. The Passport Service does not record if an applicant holds any other citizenship.

I am further advised that all passport applications are subject to the provisions of the Passports Act, 2008, as amended. The Passports Act provides, among other things, that a person must be an Irish citizen before a passport can be issued to him or her. Entitlement to Irish citizenship is governed by Irish law and in particular the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, as amended.

Courts Service Data

Ceisteanna (144)

John Deasy

Ceist:

144. Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of convictions for possession and-or supply of a controlled substance that were recorded in each court district in each of the years 2016 to 2018. [40089/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy is aware, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in exercising its functions, and this includes the provision of information on the courts system.

I have requested information from the Courts Service in relation to this matter and the Courts Service has stated it will contact the Deputy directly as soon as the information is to hand

Garda Data

Ceisteanna (145)

John Deasy

Ceist:

145. Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of Garda members allocated to the Waterford divisional drugs unit in each of the years 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019. [40090/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner has responsibility for managing An Garda Síochána, including in relation to personnel matters. Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities, to ensure their optimum use.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the number of Garda members attached to the Waterford Drugs Unit for each of the periods sought by the Deputy is as set out in the following table

Waterford Drugs Unit

Sergeant

Garda Detective

Total

31/12/2017

0

6

6

31/12/2018

0

6

6

31/8/2019

1

11

12

The Government is committed to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and to deter crime.

Since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, almost 2,800 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide. I am pleased to say that we are on target to achieve the Government's a plan for an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021 comprising 15,000 Garda members, 2,000 Reserve members and 4,000 civilians.

Enterprise Support Services Provision

Ceisteanna (146)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

146. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if there are supports available to a person who is developing a prototype product; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40095/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

My Department has been continually supporting and encouraging start-up enterprises and entrepreneurs developing new products through the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) and Enterprise Ireland (EI) with both agencies contributing to the economic success of the country. They are central to the continued growth of small and medium business and the success of future start up enterprises and entrepreneurs.

The LEOs, located in the Local Authorities nationwide provide a ‘first-stop-shop’ for advice, guidance, financial assistance and other supports for entrepreneurs intending to start or grow a business.

The LEOs can offer direct grant aid to microenterprises (10 employees or fewer) in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sectors which, over time, have the potential to develop into strong export entities. Subject to certain eligibility criteria, the LEOs can provide financial assistance within three main categories: Feasibility Grants (investigating the potential of a business idea); Priming Grants (to part-fund a start-up); and Business Development Grants for existing businesses that want to expand. (It should be noted that the LEOs do not provide direct grant-aid to areas such as retail, personal services, local professional services, construction/local building services, as it may give rise to the displacement of existing businesses). In addition, there is a Technical Assistance Grant available for eligible micro-exporter applicants who are seeking to explore alternative markets for their product or service.

Anyone with a viable business proposal can also use the LEO to make an application to MicroFinance Ireland, which offers support in the form of loans of up to €25,000 to start-ups with viable business propositions that do not meet the conventional risk criteria applied by the banks. The LEOs can work with these clients on their applications to Microfinance Ireland (MFI) for small business loans of between €2,000 and €25,000 (unsecured). Loans for commercially viable proposals can be used to help fund start-up costs, working capital or business expansion.

Furthermore, The Agile Innovation Fund has been developed by Enterprise Ireland to support product, service and process innovation to build competitive advantage. The key benefit of this support is that it allows for a simple application process and delivers a faster response time from application to approval. The new Agile Innovation Fund is also open to eligible Local Enterprise Office clients and it allows companies to access up to 50% in support towards innovation projects with a total cost of up to €300,000.

Additionally, Enterprise Ireland actively works with High Potential Start-Ups, companies with the potential to develop an innovative product or service for sale in international markets and the potential to create 10 jobs and €1m in sales within 3 to 4 years of starting up.

The LEOs and Enterprise Ireland are an outstanding resource available to businesses and their variety of clients in such a diversity of sectors is a demonstration of the expertise available through these Agencies. Businesses that work closely with benefit significantly from the supports, mentoring and training they provide. My Department will ensure that the Enterprise Agencies continue to get the resources they need to allow start-up entrepreneurs develop and explore new products and ideas.

Small and Medium Enterprises

Ceisteanna (147)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

147. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the years the management development council operated; the function and remit of the council when operating; the annual capital and current budget in each year it operated; and the number of staff employed, in tabular from. [40110/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

The Management Development Council (MDC) was established in 2007 by the then Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Micheál Martin, T.D., to advise Government on the adequacy and relevance of management development provision in Ireland and to promote a coordinated approach to building awareness and appreciation in SMEs for the value of and need for upgrading leadership and management skills.

The Council held its first meeting in September 2007, met on ten occasions and ceased its deliberations at the end of 2009 following which its report was published in February 2010. https://dbei.gov.ie/en/Publications/Publication-files/Forf%C3%A1s/Management-Development-in-Ireland.pdf

The Council was supported by a secretariat in Forfás who managed the work of the Council and undertook the research upon which this report is based. The secretariat comprised of a manager, a senior policy analyst and policy analyst.

A budget of €200,000 was allocated in 2007 towards the operation of the Management Development Council allocated on a 50/50 basis between salaries and research activity. A further sum of €200,000 was allocated for the ongoing funding requirement for the MDC for the period 2008 to cessation of the Council at the end of December 2009 and subsequent publication of the report in February 2010.

Departmental Funding

Ceisteanna (148)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

148. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if Enterprise Ireland, the IDA and InterTradeIreland, respectively, applied for an increase in funding for 2020; if so, the amount requested by each; when the application will be decided upon; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40111/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

I am currently in discussions with my colleague the Minister for Finance and the Public Service and Reform regarding the capital and current expenditure allocations for my Department, our Offices and Agencies, including Enterprise Ireland, the IDA and Intertrade Ireland, for 2020. In the circumstances, it would not be appropriate to make a statement on these matters in advance of the publication of the Budget Statement.

Small and Medium Enterprises

Ceisteanna (149)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

149. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if she is considering prioritising SMEs and entrepreneurs in budget 2020; if she will consider providing a Brexit SME fund to protect indigenous firms and small businesses from all Brexit scenarios and protect associated jobs and export sales. [40112/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Business)

Since the decision of the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, my Department and its agencies have put in place a wide range of Brexit supports for businesses. My Department's focus is on helping firms to improve their competitiveness and innovation, and to diversify markets. 

My Department and its agencies are working to provide extensive supports, schemes and advice to ensure that businesses are prepared for Brexit. The suite of enterprise and finance supports now in place covers the spectrum of potential Brexit impacts and aims to assist businesses in identifying key risk areas and the practical preparatory actions to be taken over the coming months. I continue to prioritise the development and support for SMEs and entrepreneurs as part of my ongoing engagement with my colleague the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform in the preparation of Budget 2020. 

These will build on the broad array of existing Brexit supports already in place. Since 2016, my Department and its agencies have been working to prepare Irish businesses for the potential challenges posed by Brexit by helping them to assess their preparedness and helping them to implement practical action plans in areas such as customs, supply chain and sourcing, and financial management. While we cannot yet know the form that Brexit will take, these measures aim to assist businesses in identifying and managing key risk areas and develop practical preparatory actions regardless of the circumstances of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

The Government’s suite of Brexit supports includes preparedness vouchers, consultancy and mentoring supports, tariff advisory services, research on new markets and innovation supports through Enterprise Ireland, the Local Enterprise Offices and InterTradeIreland. Support and advice is also available from the National Standards Authority of Ireland, the Health and Safety Authority, IDA Ireland, Revenue, Skillnet Ireland, the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland, Bord Bia and Fáilte Ireland.

The most immediate consequences of a hard Brexit are likely to be currency movements, supply chain constraints, delays, duties and tariffs. In the first instance, there will be a strain on the working capital position of businesses.

Of the Government’s suite of supports, the €300m Brexit Loan Scheme is designed to address working capital challenges brought about by Brexit. Under the scheme, loans of up to €1.5 million are available at a rate of 4% or less, with loans of up to €500,000 available on an unsecured basis.

As at 27 September, there have been 816 applications for eligibility under the scheme, of which 738 have been approved, and 194 progressed to sanction at bank level to a total value of €43.52 million. Of the approved applications, 153 were reapplications as eligibility expires after four months.

Similarly, the €300m Future Growth Loan Scheme is designed to support strategic long-term investment in SMEs in a post-Brexit environment. As at 27 September, there have been 1,353 applications for eligibility under the scheme, of which 1,283 have been approved, and 270 progressed to sanction at bank level to a total value of €43.8 million.

InterTradeIreland (ITI) also plays a major role as part of Ireland’s Brexit response and offers Brexit-related advisory services to eligible businesses. So far this year, more than 4,500 SMEs have directly engaged with the Brexit Advisory Service. 

ITI offers Brexit Planning Voucher and Brexit Implementation Voucher schemes, which enable businesses to get professional advice on how best to plan, prepare and implement for the UK's withdrawal from the European Union. These supports help businesses obtain advice on specific areas such as tariffs, currency management, regulatory and customs issues and movement of labour, goods and services.

ITI's Brexit Planning Vouchers are worth up to €2,250 (inclusive of VAT) each. 1,893 businesses have applied for a Brexit Planning Voucher, of which 1,630 have been approved. ITI’s Brexit Implementation Voucher provides financial support up to £5,000/€5,625 (inclusive of VAT), with InterTradeIreland paying 50%. This allows businesses to implement critical changes making them better prepared to deal with a new trading relationship.

In August, ITI launched a new advertising campaign and a new online resource to encourage and assist firms in preparing for Brexit. The online “Bitesize Brexit” resource is a one-stop-shop for cross-border traders, presenting information in easily digestible segments and includes specific actions businesses should take in preparing for Brexit.

Enterprise Ireland also recently launched twelve ‘Brexit Essential’ questions aimed at helping exporting businesses further prepare and take action ahead of the UK’s impending withdrawal from the EU.  The Brexit Essentials campaign highlights the key questions and documentation that businesses need to address in order to trade successfully with the UK post 31 October.

The Irish Government, in association with key industry partners, also launched a new support measure to help customs agents, intermediaries and affected Irish businesses develop the capacity to deal with the additional customs requirements due to the UK’s departure from the EU. The new initiative called Clear Customs comprises of a training programme and a customs financial support to assist with the costs of recruiting and assigning new staff to customs roles.

In addition, the Government has held over 100 Brexit information seminars and events since last September. I also have been convening regular roundtable discussions with the main retail grocery and distribution players since December to better understand contingency planning within the sector on food supply. Revenue, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, Dublin Port and relevant Government Departments also attend these meetings.

With the deadline for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU fast approaching, the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit continues to represent a significant challenge for businesses in Ireland. I want businesses, particularly those most impacted by Brexit, to know my Department and its agencies are here to help.

Services for People with Disabilities

Ceisteanna (150)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

150. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Health his plans to obtain funding for a transport support scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40050/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

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

In relation to funding, the level of funding available to my Department is considered as part of the national Estimates and budgetary process which is currently underway in respect of 2020. Pending completion of this process it is not appropriate for me to comment further at this stage.

Regarding the Motorised Transport Grant, this scheme operated as a means-tested grant to assist persons with severe disabilities with the purchase or adaptation of a car, where that car was essential to retain employment. The maximum Motorised Transport Grant, which was payable once in any three-year period, was €5,020. Following closure of the scheme in February 2013,  no further Motorised Transport Grants have been payable.

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

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

The Deputy may wish to note that in July last, my colleague the Minister for Rural and Community Development announced CLÁR funding of €890,632 to 20 voluntary community organisations. This funding will support the purchase and/or fit out of vehicles to provide transport for people in rural areas with mobility issues. It will support voluntary organisations that provide:

- transport for people with significant mobility issues, including those requiring specialised  wheelchair accessible vehicles, to day-care or other medical, therapeutic or respite services; or

- transport to/from designated cancer treatment hospitals/centres under the National Cancer Care Programme.

Health Services Provision

Ceisteanna (151)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

151. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health the status of an appointment for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39985/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

HSE Planning

Ceisteanna (152)

Pat the Cope Gallagher

Ceist:

152. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 374 to 376, inclusive, of 24 September 2019, if the HSE Capital Plan 2019 to 2021 has a financial commitment to upgrade the long-stay residential unit, residential care units and dementia care of St. Joseph’s Community Hospital and Ramelton Community Hospital, County Donegal; if the funding in the plan will bring these to community hospitals up to the full standards required for residential care units as opposed to the derogated standards thus ensuring the long-term future of these specific residential care units within the community hospitals beyond 2025; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39993/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As previously outlined, the Capital Plan provides for €220m capital funding to the Community Nursing Unit programme over the period 2019 to 2021.

The CNU programme provides for the retention of services and upgrade of both St. Joseph’s Community Hospital, Stranorlar and Ramelton Community Hospital.

It is important to recognise that all capital development proposals must progress through a number of approval stages, in line with the Public Spending Code, including detailed appraisal, planning, design and procurement, before a firm timeline or funding requirement can be established.

The delivery of capital projects is a dynamic process and is subject to the successful completion of the various approval stages, which can impact on the timeline for delivery.   

In the meantime, the HSE will undertake minor capital works in both units in order to deal with regulatory compliance requirements and to ensure the long-term future of both units.

Home Care Packages

Ceisteanna (153)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

153. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Health when a home care support package for a person (details supplied) will be put into place. [40002/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

Health Care Infrastructure Provision

Ceisteanna (154)

Eugene Murphy

Ceist:

154. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Health the status of plans for a multi-million Euro development proposed for the Sacred Heart Hospital, County Roscommon; the current stage of the proposed development; the status of the design process; to outline when construction will begin; the timeframe for completion of works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40006/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Health Service Executive recently published its Capital Plan for 2019-2021 outlining 250 projects to be progressed over the three-year period.

The Capital Plan provides for €220m capital funding to the Community Nursing Unit programme over the period 2019 to 2021 and also sets out the current status of all projects within the programme, including new development at the Sacred Heart Hospital, Roscommon.

The Health Service Executive is responsible for the delivery of public healthcare infrastructure projects and has advised that the tender documents are being prepared for the appointment of a design team. It is intended to proceed with the tender process later this year, once the new Framework for Design Teams has been completed.

It is important to recognise that all capital development proposals must progress through a number of approval stages, in line with the Public Spending Code, including detailed appraisal, planning, design and procurement, before a firm timeline or funding requirement can be established.

The delivery of capital projects is a dynamic process and is subject to the successful completion of the various approval stages, which can impact on the timeline for delivery.

Services for People with Disabilities

Ceisteanna (155)

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

155. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Health the status of the provision of services in a facility (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40013/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

The Programme for Partnership Government states that the Government wishes to provide more accessible respite care to facilitate full support for people with a disability.

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

Services for People with Disabilities

Ceisteanna (156)

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

156. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Health the availability of extras day service placements that may be available to a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40018/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

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

Hospital Appointments Status

Ceisteanna (157)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

157. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) in County Clare will have surgery; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40019/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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

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

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

Cancer Screening Programmes

Ceisteanna (158)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

158. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health if he will reduce the threshold age for accessing CervicalCheck from 25 to 21 years of age; if his officials are examining the possible positive impacts of extending the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40020/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

CervicalCheck, the National Cervical Screening Programme, was introduced in 2008 and offers free smear tests to women aged 25-60.

Women under the age of 25 are not invited for screening. The HSE advises that this is because there is no evidence that screening would be of any benefit to them. At this stage in life, normal cell changes in the cervix can look very like abnormal cells. If CervicalCheck tested women under 25, changes that are normal might be treated as abnormal and a woman could be sent for treatment when they don't need it. Invasive cervical cancer is also very rare at this age. The HSE advises any woman under 25 who is worried about their risk of developing cervical cancer to speak to their GP. 

This approach is in line with screening programmes in other countries. The UK National Screening Committee recommended in November 2012 that the age of first invitation for cervical screening should be raised to 25 in Wales and Scotland on the basis that there is evidence of a large number of women screened and treated with relatively little benefit below this age.

Cancer screening is one important aspect of cancer prevention, and another is vaccination. The HPV vaccine protects against the HPV virus which can cause cancer and genital warts in both women and men, and has been offered to girls in their first year of secondary school since 2010. The Deputy may wish to know that, following a positive recommendation from HIQA, that an extension of the HPV vaccination programme to boys would be both clinically and cost effective, as of September this year HPV vaccination is now available to boys in first year of secondary school also.