Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (44)

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

44. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Taoiseach the incidental expenses incurred by his Department from 1 January 2018 to 1 January 2019. [41255/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Taoiseach)

As published in my Department's Appropriation Account 2018, outturn in respect of subhead A1(iii), Training and Development and Incidental Expenses, for 2018 was €3.524 million.

€3.306 million of this relates to incidental expenses which include Official and State Entertainment, Library and Information Services, and Administrative Expenses.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (45)

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

45. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the incidental expenses incurred by his Department from 1 January 2018 to 1 January 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41245/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

A total of €321,156.71 was expended by my Department in 2018 under the Revised Estimate Volume heading of Training, Development and Incidental Expenses. This expenditure was primarily incurred in relation to training and development and payment to the National Shared Services Office for payroll and other centralised services.

Defence Forces Veterans Associations Funding

Ceisteanna (46)

James Browne

Ceist:

46. Deputy James Browne asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the position regarding a fund for former members of the Army that were bereaved following the death of a near relative; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41286/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The Defence Forces Benevolent Fund was established to provide support to veterans of the Defence Forces and their families who experience periods of difficulty.

Support is organised and distributed through committees of serving military personnel who are active in each of the formations of the Defence Forces, including the Air Corps, the Naval Service, 1 Brigade, 2 Brigade and the Defence Forces Training Centre.

The fund operates in a confidential and supportive manner to provide much needed support to military veterans, regardless of rank or length of service, and who are resident in the state and overseas.

While the Defence Forces Benevolent Fund operates as a fund within the Defence Forces, it works in close cooperation with the Veterans’ Associations, including the Organisation of National Ex-Service Personnel (O.N.E.), the Irish United Nations Veterans Association (IUNVA), and the Association of Retired Commissioned Officers (ARCO).

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (47)

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

47. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the incidental expenses incurred by his Department from 1 January 2018 to 1 January 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41249/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

Administration Subhead (iii) relates to incidental expenses of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. In 2018, incidental expenses totalled €5.2 million on Vote 28 (Foreign Affairs and Trade) and €1.9 million on Vote 27 (International Co-operation).

The main expenditure areas in administration Subhead "(iii) Training and Development and Incidental Expenses" in 2018, across both Votes and covers expenditure at HQ and in overseas Missions, were as follows:

- Capital cost of replacing motor vehicles and the associated day to day running costs;

- Bank charges and foreign exchange costs;

- Training and development of staff including foreign language training for staff posted across the global mission network;

- Costs associated with operating the worldwide network of Honorary Consulates;

- Translation services;

- Costs associated with official visits to Ireland by foreign dignitaries and Heads of State and Government;

- Library books and electronic subscription costs;

- Security costs, and

- Legal, audit and other professional services.

Brexit Supports

Ceisteanna (48)

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

48. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Finance the percentage of businesses that have the facility to make customs declarations or have plans in place for a customs agent to do so in the context of Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41236/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that customs declarations can be made directly by businesses who have in-house customs software and an appropriate level of customs knowledge or by customs agents acting on behalf of businesses. Revenue has indicated to me that most businesses use customs agents with typically only large businesses having in-house customs arrangements to complete their customs formalities.

I am advised by Revenue that based on an analysis of businesses who submitted customs declarations to date in 2019 there are currently 10,542 businesses who are trading with non-EU countries. These businesses have the facility, either in-house or through customs agents, to complete customs formalities.

Revenue has advised that it is not possible to state the percentage of businesses that will have the facility to make customs declarations or have plans in place for a customs agent to make these declarations, post Brexit. This is a commercial decision for each business and not a decision in which Revenue has any involvement.

Earlier this year, industry raised concerns regarding the level of customs agent capacity in the market. As a result, the Deputy will be aware that the Government’s Clear Customs initiative was launched by Skillnet Ireland on 7 August. This is a new support measure to help customs agents, intermediaries and affected Irish businesses to develop the capacity to deal with the completion of customs formalities post Brexit. There are two components to the support – a training element, and a grant element to support businesses taking on new staff or training existing staff to carry out customs work.

I understand that over 1,000 applications from businesses have been received for the Clear Customs initiative to date. The training element is ongoing and is being provided by Skillnet Ireland in partnership with industry bodies from the freight, transport and logistics sector. 660 people have either completed the training course or are scheduled to participate on the course in the coming weeks. To date over 150 grants have been approved under the scheme by Enterprise Ireland. The Clear Customs initiative is making an important contribution to the preparedness arrangements of businesses by enabling them to build the necessary capacity to complete customs formalities post Brexit.

I strongly urge all businesses that intend to trade with the UK post Brexit to ensure that they have the capability to complete customs formalities, by either putting in place the appropriate arrangements in-house or engaging a customs agent.

Brexit Staff

Ceisteanna (49)

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

49. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Finance the number of new customs officials that have been hired in preparation for Brexit; if all new hires are trained; if all new hires will be in place by 31 October 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41237/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Budget 2017 provided Revenue with resources for an additional 40 staff to prepare for Brexit. These staff were recruited and trained in 2017 and 2018. In September 2018, the Government granted approval in principle for the phased recruitment of an additional 600 Revenue staff to meet the challenges posed by Brexit. I am advised by Revenue that over 580 of these staff have already been appointed and trained, with arrangements in train to appoint the remaining staff by 31 October 2019.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (50)

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

50. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Finance the incidental expenses incurred by his Department from 1 January 2018 to 1 January 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41248/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Between 1 January 2018 and 1 January 2019, my Department had an allocation of €1,155,000 under the Admin Non-Pay category Subhead III: Training and Development and Incidental Expenses. The total expenses incurred in this category amounted to €925,952.52.

Revenue Commissioners Enforcement Activity

Ceisteanna (51)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

51. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Finance his views on whether it is appropriate that the Revenue Commissioners send repeated letters threatening legal action within a short space of time in cases where a person has voluntarily completed a self-assessment and found to have a tax liability. [41257/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

Revenue’s primary goal is to ensure that all taxpayers and businesses meet their tax obligations in a timely fashion. Any delay in the collection of tax revenue impacts on the level and timeliness of the financial resources available to the Exchequer and adds to Government borrowing and public debt interest. Accordingly, Revenue has a strong focus on making sure that all taxpayers comply with their responsibilities to file and pay the right amount of tax on time.

In circumstance where a taxpayer submits a return and declares a liability that remains unpaid, Revenue issues a request for payment. Where the taxpayer fails to make contact or engage on the issue within the specified period, Revenue issues a further notification demanding payment. This notice also sets out the debt collection/enforcement options that can be deployed if the taxpayer continues to ignore the matter.

Revenue has assured me that its clear preference in such situations is to engage with the taxpayer and agree a mutually acceptable solution rather than using debt collection sanctions. For this reason, I recommend that if the Deputy is aware of a particular case, that he advise the person/s in question to make contact with Revenue as quickly as possible.

Banking Sector

Ceisteanna (52)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

52. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Finance if a series of matters in relation to a bank (details supplied) will be examined; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41262/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

As the Deputy will be aware, AIB/EBS is an independent company with listings on the Irish and London Stock Exchanges. Decisions in regards to commercial agreements are the sole responsibility of the board and management of AIB which must be run on an independent and commercial basis.

The bank's independence is protected by a Relationship Framework which is a legally binding document that cannot be changed unilaterally. This framework which is publicly available, was insisted upon by the European Commission to protect competition in the Irish market. The AIB Relationship Framework can be found here: www.gov.ie/en/publication/597d15-aib-relationship-framework-agreement-june-2017/

Notwithstanding this I am aware that the Central Bank has investigated the matter to which you refer. In October 2018 Deputy Governor Ed Sibley confirmed to members of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach that the regulator had engaged with the various parties and investigated the underlying issues. It was the view of the regulator that this was a commercial dispute between the parties involved.

As the issue is subject to ongoing litigation it would not be appropriate to make any further comment at this time.

Excise Duties

Ceisteanna (53)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

53. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider reducing alcohol excise tax by 7.5% in order to protect jobs in the hospitality sector and prevent Ireland being exposed to an increased negative impact by Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41282/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Finance)

The excise rates on alcohol were last increased in in 2014 in spite of the growth in the economy since then. Consequently, excise duty as a proportion of the average price of alcohol products sold in the on-trade has generally reduced in recent years There are consequential health and societal costs associated with the consumption of alcohol products. To reduce the rate of excise duty at this time would send the wrong signal, particularly in the light of the content relating to public health in the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill recently signed into law.

However, In Budget 2020, among the provisions for minimising the negative effects of Brexit, I have set aside €40m for the tourism sector which will have a positive effect on the hospitality industry.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (54)

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

54. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the incidental expenses incurred by his Department from 1 January 2018 to 1 January 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41253/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

A breakdown of expenditure by my Department in the category of training and development and incidental expenses in 2018 is set out in the following two tables. The first table is for Vote 11 (Department of Public Expenditure and Reform) and the second table is for Vote 39 (Office of Government Procurement).

Training and Development and Incidental Expenses - Department of Public Expenditure and Reform

Vote 11

Training and Development

€680,897

Training and Development expenditure covers the cost of courses, conferences and seminars for staff (including refund of academic fees)

Official and State Entertainment

€6,472

Library and Information Services

€76,193

Library and Information Services includes expenditure on publications, periodicals and translation services

Advertising, Photography, etc.

€1,789

Administrative Expenses

€323,204

Administrative Expenses includes human resources support, the Peoplepoint service charge, couriers, cleaning and facility support, corporate administrative support, official meeting costs and security.

Bank Charges and Fees

€572

Chief Medical Officer's Supplies

€17,801

European Institute of Public Administration

€55,000

Total expenditure in 2018 on Training and Development and Incidental Expenses for DPER

€1,161,928

Training and Development and Incidental Expenses - Office of Government Procurement

Vote 39

Training and Development

€492,944

Training and Development expenditure covers the cost of courses, conferences and seminars for staff (including refund of academic fees)

Library and Information Services

€132,370

Library and Information Services includes expenditure on publications, periodicals and translation services

Administrative Expenses

€137,885

Administrative Expenses includes human resources support, the Peoplepoint service charge, couriers, cleaning and facility support, corporate administrative support, official meeting costs and security.

Bank Charges and Fees

€77

Total expenditure in 2018 on Training and Development and Incidental Expenses for the OGP

€763,276

School Transport Eligibility

Ceisteanna (55)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

55. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a child (details supplied) cannot now get a school bus in view of the fact they have availed of one for the past two years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41258/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills.  There are currently over 117,500 children, including over 13,000 children with special educational needs, transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres annually at a cost of over €200m in 2018. 

The purpose of the School Transport Scheme is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest school.  Children are generally eligible for school transport if they satisfy the distance criteria and are attending their nearest school as determined by the Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language.

Under the terms of the Post-Primary School Transport Scheme, children are eligible for transport where they reside not less than 4.8 kilometres from and are attending their nearest education centre as determined by the Department of Education/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language. Distance eligibility is determined by Bus Éireann by measuring the shortest traversable route from the child's home to the relevant education centre.

Children who are eligible for school transport and who complete the application process on time are accommodated on school transport services where such services are in operation.

Children who are not eligible for school transport, but who complete the application process on time, are considered for spare seats that may exist after eligible children have been facilitated; such seats are referred to as concessionary seats. Where the number of applications from ineligible children exceeds the number of spare seats available, tickets are allocated using an agreed selection process.  

Bus Éireann has advised that the child referred to by the Deputy is not eligible for transport as they are not attending their nearest school and that the existing service is operating to capacity.

The terms of the scheme are applied equitably on a national basis.

School Enrolments

Ceisteanna (56)

Ruth Coppinger

Ceist:

56. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the catchment area for a school (details supplied) will be extended into the Ashtown and Navan Road area to cater for those seeking co-educational school options; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41204/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

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

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

The school referred to by the Deputy is a new 1,000 pupil post-primary school established in 2017 to serve the Carpenterstown_D15 & Castleknock_D15 school planning areas as a regional solution.

New schools established since 2011 to meet demographic demand are required, in the first instance, to prioritise pupil applications from within the designated school planning area(s) which the school was established to serve.  This does not preclude schools from enrolling pupils from outside of the designated school planning area where they have sufficient places. My Department's main responsibility is to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking school places in the area.

I wish to advise the Deputy that it is the responsibility of the managerial authorities of all schools to implement an enrolment policy in accordance with the Education Act, 1998.  Parents have the right to choose which school to apply to and where the school has places available the pupil should be admitted. However, in schools where there are more applicants than places available, a selection process may be necessary. This selection process and the enrolment policy on which it is based must be non-discriminatory and must be applied fairly in respect of all applicants. However, this may result in some pupils not obtaining a place in the school of their first choice. 

The question of enrolment in individual schools, including the setting of catchment areas, is the responsibility of the Board of Management on behalf of the school Patron and my Department does not seek to intervene in decisions made by schools in such matters.

Section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 provides for an appeal by a parent or guardian to the Secretary General of my Department, or in the case of an Educational Training Board (ETB) school to the ETB in the first instance, where a Board of Management of a school, or a person acting on behalf of the Board, refuses to enrol a student in a school. Further information on the Section 29 appeals process is available on the Department's website www.education.ie. The Education Welfare Service of the Child and Family Agency (Tusla) is the statutory agency which can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child. The EWS can be contacted at 01-7718500.

School Transport Provision

Ceisteanna (57)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

57. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills when school transport will be approved and in place for a child (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41205/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department. 

In the 2018/2019 school year over 117,500 children, including over 13,000 children with special educational needs, were transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres at a cost of over €200m in 2018.  

The child referred to by the Deputy is eligible for school transport under the terms of my Department's School Transport Scheme for Children with Special Educational Needs.

Bus Éireann has been requested to organise a transport service for this child and they have been requested to liaise directly with the family in this regard. In the meantime, the family may avail of the Special Transport Grant towards the cost of providing private transport until this service is established.

The terms of the School Transport Schemes are applied equitably on a national basis.

School Enrolments

Ceisteanna (58)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

58. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an area (details supplied) in County Meath which is not located in a secondary school catchment area; and the school children from the area should attend. [41235/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that it is the responsibility of the managerial authorities of all schools to implement an enrolment policy in accordance with the Education Act, 1998. My Department's main responsibility is to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking school places in the area. Parents have the right to choose which school to apply to and where the school has places available the pupil should be admitted. However, in schools where there are more applicants than places available, a selection process may be necessary. This selection process and the enrolment policy on which it is based must be non-discriminatory and must be applied fairly in respect of all applicants. However, this may result in some pupils not obtaining a place in the school of their first choice. 

The question of enrolment in individual schools, including the setting of catchment areas, is the responsibility of the Board of Management on behalf of the school Patron and my Department does not seek to intervene in decisions made by schools in such matters.

Section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 provides for an appeal by a parent or guardian to the Secretary General of my Department, or in the case of an Educational Training Board (ETB) school to the ETB in the first instance, where a Board of Management of a school, or a person acting on behalf of the Board, refuses to enrol a student in a school. Further information on the Section 29 appeals process is available on the Department's website www.education.ie. The Education Welfare Service of the Child and Family Agency (Tusla) is the statutory agency which can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child. The EWS can be contacted at 01-7718500.

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

The post-primary school in the area referred to by the Deputy is under the patronage of Louth and Meath Education and Training Board and has a current enrolment in the region of 1,000 pupils. The school is experiencing demand for additional school places and the ETB is open to assisting in meeting this demand.  The ETB has submitted an application for additional accommodation which my Department is currently considering. The outcome will assist my Department in determining the future need in the area. In the meantime, my Department has approved the provision of additional temporary accommodation - 8 general classrooms and 1 science lab - to Louth and Meath Education and Training Board to meet the school’s immediate needs and the project for this accommodation is currently on site.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (59)

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

59. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the incidental expenses incurred by his Department from 1 January 2018 to 1 January 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41246/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

For the Deputy's information details of payments made from my Department's administration expenditure under the incidental expenses category in respect of the year 2018 are available at the following link:

Incidental Expenses 

School Staff

Ceisteanna (60)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

60. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a matter (details supplied) in relation to school secretaries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41270/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I recognise the very important work done by these staff, and the other support staff in the running of our schools.  I have spoken to a number of school secretaries about their employment conditions and understand the issues they have raised.

Earlier this year I relaxed the moratorium for those C&C and ETB schools with enrolments of 700 and more which allow them to employ additional school secretaries up to a maximum of two per school. There are 91 schools in the C&C and ETB Sector who meet this criteria, based on the information currently available to this Department. This is an initial step and has taken immediate effect.

Schemes were initiated in 1978 and 1979 for the employment of clerical officers and caretakers in schools.  The schemes were withdrawn completely in 2008.  These schemes have been superseded by the more extensive capitation grant schemes.  The current grant scheme was agreed in the context of the Programme for Economic and Social Progress, published in 1991. 

The majority of primary and voluntary secondary schools now receive assistance to provide for secretarial, caretaking and cleaning services under these grant schemes.  It is a matter for each individual school to decide how best to apply the grant funding to suit its particular needs. Where a school uses the grant funding for caretaking or secretarial purposes, any staff taken on to support those functions are employees of individual schools.  Specific responsibility for terms of employment rests with the school.

On foot of a Chairman’s Note to the Lansdowne Road Agreement, my Department engaged with the Unions representing school secretaries and caretakers, including through an independent arbitration process in 2015. The Arbitrator recommended a cumulative pay increase of 10% between 2016 and 2019 for staff and that a minimum hourly pay rate of €13 be phased in over that period.  This arbitration agreement covers the period up to 31 December 2019. 

The arbitration agreement was designed to be of greatest benefit to lower-paid secretaries and caretakers. For example, a secretary or caretaker who was paid the then minimum wage of €8.65 per hour in 2015 prior to the arbitration has from 1 January 2019, been paid €13 per hour which is a 50% increase in that individual’s hourly pay. 

Officials from my Department attended a meeting of the Joint Committee on Education and Skills on the 9th of April to discuss the status of non-teaching staff.

In May this year officials from my Department had discussions with FÓRSA trade union representatives as part of a planned meeting. FÓRSA took the opportunity to formally table a pay claim. 

This was tabled as a follow-on claim from the current pay agreement for this cohort of staff which lasts until December 2019. The Department issued surveys on the 10th of July to establish the full current cost of the trade union’s claim. This is standard practice.

FÓRSA's claim will be fully considered once the current costings have been determined on completion of the survey analysis.  In these circumstances any industrial action by FÓRSA members is considered unwarranted, not least because the period of the current arbitration agreement has not expired. 

Officials from the Department met with FÓRSA representatives in September. Management Bodies representing the employers of schools impacted by the action were also in attendance at the meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to further explore the details of the pay claim as presented by FÓRSA and the nature of the industrial action. 

The Department restated to the trade union that their claim will be fully considered once the current costings have been determined on completion of these surveys.   The Department reiterated its view to the union that any industrial action is premature and unwarranted, and called on FÓRSA to reconsider their action.

On 30 September FÓRSA requested the Department to agree to use the services of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) to resolve the dispute.  As is normal practice the Department has agreed to use the industrial relations machinery of the state in an effort to resolve this matter.  

In order to address the various issues within the claim and to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution, the Department will participate in discussions with FÓRSA under the auspices of the WRC. The Department will be requesting the assistance of the WRC in ensuring that once talks commence the industrial action be stood down to enable these discussions to progress.

Schools Healthy Living Strategies

Ceisteanna (61)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

61. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has considered making a comprehensive culinary and nutritional education a mandatory element of primary and secondary curriculum; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41281/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Schools and the wider education sector have a vital role to play in contributing to the ‘Healthy Ireland’ agenda that is being led by the Department of Health and is supported by the Department of Education and Skills and Government Departments. The Healthy Ireland agenda is committed to supporting everyone’s efforts to improve their health and wellbeing.  Schools are strongly encouraged to have a formal healthy eating policy that has been developed in consultation with students and parents. 

The Department of Education and Skills works closely with the Department of Health and the HSE on the Healthy Ireland agenda. Healthy Lifestyles guidance issued to post primary schools in 2015 and primary schools in 2016. This guidance was drafted in consultation with the Department of Health.

The Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE) programme is a mandatory part of the curriculum in junior cycle.  SPHE for Junior Cycle builds on the primary SPHE curriculum.  Nutrition is specifically addressed in the SPHE curriculum. Students are made aware of the elements of a balanced diet and the importance of healthy eating for physical and mental well-being.  In addition, cross-curricular links with other subjects, such as Home Economics, PE and Science that deal with SPHE-related topics are encouraged. Also, Home Economics as an exam subject remains popular. 

Given the issues of overload which are emerging in evaluations, allied with criticisms that some of these areas receive inadequate coverage, it is not feasible for the curriculum to be further extended to include all students being taught cooking in schools.  However, some schools through the transition year programme offer short courses in cookery that support students to develop the necessary skills for independent living.

The decision on what is offered in terms of subject choices or short courses for Junior Cycle or modules for the Transition Year Programme remains at the discretion of the individual school. The aim is to support students to have as broad a range of options (that reflect their interests) to choose from as possible. Curriculum choice is important in motivating students to learn, and to remain in school to completion of senior cycle.

Schools Property

Ceisteanna (62)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

62. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans for the Teagasc building in Kinsealy, County Dublin which houses a school (details supplied); if there is capacity for another school to be located in the building in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41284/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy is aware, the building to which he refers is not in the ownership of the Minister For Education and Skills, however, the school to which he refers is accommodated at this location on an interim basis pending the delivery of its permanent school building.   

The recently adopted Kinsaley Local Area Plan provides for a new school at that location in order to serve any requirement which may emerge should the residential development which is projected in the LAP materialise.  The need for any such school will be kept under review as part of recurring nationwide demographic analyses.

Summer Works Scheme Applications

Ceisteanna (63)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

63. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills when applicants for the 2020 summer works scheme will be announced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41287/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that commensurate with the level of funding available for the SWS in 2020 onwards, applications will be assessed on a top down basis in accordance with the prioritisation criteria outlined in the governing Circular Letter for the Scheme. This Circular Letter (0027/2019) is available on my Department's website www.education.ie.

It is my intention to publish a list of successful applicants in Q4, 2019 for works to be carried out in summer 2020.