Road Network

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Ceisteanna (410)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

410. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans for link roads from the proposed TEN-T priority route to the towns of Ballybofey and Stranorlar, County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48598/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme.  Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, the planning, design and construction of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. 

Noting the above position, I have referred your question to TII for a direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Bus Services

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Ceisteanna (411)

Aindrias Moynihan

Ceist:

411. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to improve services on a bus service (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48606/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport in Ireland. I am not involved in the day-to-day operations of public transport.

The issue raised is a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA) in conjunction with Bus Éireann, and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the NTA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Road Traffic Accidents Data

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Ceisteanna (412)

Colm Brophy

Ceist:

412. Deputy Colm Brophy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of pedestrians with physical or intellectual disabilities killed or seriously injured over the past ten years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48619/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

This data is not held in this Department.  The Road Safety Authority may have some relevant information on the matter.  However, I am not aware that such information is routinely recorded in respect of either deaths or serious injuries and may be problematic in terms of consistent and robust definition.  

I have referred the question to the Authority for direct reply.  I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response is not received within 10 days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Sports Facilities Provision

Ceisteanna (413)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

413. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of the provision of funding towards the establishment of a sports centre (details supplied) in County Westmeath. [48623/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The Large Scale Sport Infrastructure Fund opened for applications on 19th November 2018 and the closing date for receipt of applications was 17th April 2019.

An application has been made for funding towards the design of a Regional Sport Centre in Mullingar. That application is one of 72 applications that were received. Details of all applications received have been published on the Department's website. The detailed evaluation process has also been published on the Department's website.

As set out in this evaluation process, applicants were given an opportunity to provide corrected and amended documentation, where necessary, in support of applications. This part of the process is now complete and detailed assessment work of the applications has commenced.  In view of the detailed information contained in each application I expect that it will be towards the end of this year before assessments are completed.

Railway Stations

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Ceisteanna (414)

James Lawless

Ceist:

414. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the measures he is taking to address the lack of parking at Sallins and Naas railway stations (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48647/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport in Ireland. I am not involved in the day-to-day operations of public transport.

The issue raised is an operational matter for Iarnród Éireann and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the company for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Military Aircraft Landings

Ceisteanna (415)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

415. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if permission was given for munitions or explosives to be taken through Shannon Airport on an aircraft (details supplied) which landed at the airport on 15 November 2019 from Tulsa and travelled on to Tel Aviv on 16 November 2019; the cargo the aircraft was carrying; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48652/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

An exemption for the carriage of munitions of war, pursuant to Article 5 of the Air Navigation (Carriage of Munitions of War, Weapons and Dangerous Goods) Orders, was not sought by the civil air operator in question for this flight. 

The operator provided a prior notification to my Department of a planned technical stop at Shannon Airport, and detailed that their cargo consisted of wing sections for business jets and other associated parts, so the need for an exemption under the Order did not arise.

Public Transport

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Ceisteanna (416)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

416. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of a project (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48714/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for securing the provision of public transport services nationally.

In light of the NTA's responsibilities in this matter, I have referred your question to the NTA for direct reply to you. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within 10 working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Road Network

Ceisteanna (417)

Jackie Cahill

Ceist:

417. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of the completion and re-opening of the bridge at Ardfinnan, County Tipperary; the timeframe for the work to commence; the timeframe for full completion of the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48722/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of the relevant local authority in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from the Council's own resources supplemented by State road grants.  The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is a matter for the Council.

An allocation of €400,000 was given to Tipperary this year for repair works on Ardfinnan Bridge and these works have been completed recently. 

Any projects proposed by local authorities for consideration under the Specific Grant Programme are assessed by the Department on a case-by-case basis.  All projects put forward by local authorities for consideration must comply with the requirements of the Public Spending Code and the Department's Capital Appraisal Framework (CAF).  Given the limited funding available for RLR improvement works it is important for local authorities to prioritise projects within their overall area of responsibility with these requirements in mind. 

As required under the project appraisal guidelines, a Preliminary Appraisal has been received from Tipperary County Council concerning pedestrian and cycling options at Ardfinnan Bridge.  All applications received from local authorities for specific grant allocations have to be assessed taking into account competing projects and the available budget with a view to maximising value for money and meeting Government strategic objectives, where possible.

Road Network

Ceisteanna (418)

Jackie Cahill

Ceist:

418. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of the provision of a new bridge at Ballina, County Tipperary; the stage at which the project is at; when the project will be completed; if there is sufficient funding available for the project to be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48723/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of each local authority, in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from local authorities' own resources supplemented by State road grants. 

I am assuming that the Deputy is referring to the Shannon Bridge Crossing at Killaloe/Ballina. This bridge is one element of the proposed Shannon Crossing/Killaloe Bypass/R494 upgrade scheme.  Clare County Council is responsible for implementation of the scheme which is at land acquisition, site investigation and design stage.  An updated Business Case for the scheme is in the process of being finalised as required in the Public Spending Code and my Department's Capital Appraisal Framework and in this context a construction programme for the Shannon bridge has not been finalised as yet.

Funding for the scheme is being provided from the  Project Ireland 2040 capital envelope for regional and local road improvement projects.  Schemes are being managed on a programme basis with phased implementation taking account of the profile of annual capital allocations.

Road Improvement Schemes

Ceisteanna (419)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

419. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of an application by Meath County Council for a grant to improve the safety of a dangerous stretch of the R156 road at Mullagh Cross, County Meath. [48725/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of each local authority, in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from local authorities' own resources supplemented by State road grants.  The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is also a matter for the local authority.

Before the recession, local authorities could apply on a regular basis for grants for Specific  (schemes costing less than €5m) and Strategic Improvement Grants (schemes costing more than €5m) for the strengthening, widening or realignment of regional and local  roads.   However, the extent of the cutbacks in grant funding during the crisis meant this grant scheme had to be curtailed from 2013 because expenditure on maintenance/renewal was falling well short of what was required to adequately maintain the regional and local road network.

The current Capital Plan does provide for the gradual build-up in funding for the road network but it will take some time yet to reach the level required even for the  basic maintenance and renewal of the network.  For this reason, there continues to be limited scope for funding new or additional projects under the Specific and Strategic Grant Programmes. 

Any projects proposed by local authorities for consideration under these Grant Programmes are assessed by the Department on a case-by-case basis.  All projects put forward by local authorities for consideration must comply with the requirements of the Public Spending Code and the Department's Capital Appraisal Framework (CAF).  Given the limited funding available for RLR improvement works it is important for local authorities to prioritise projects within their overall area of responsibility with these requirements in mind. 

As required under the project appraisal process Meath County Council submitted a Preliminary Appraisal in relation to improvement works on the R156 in October this year.  In view of budgetary constraints all applications received from local authorities have to be assessed taking into account competing projects and the available budget.

Light Rail Projects Status

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Ceisteanna (420)

Seán Haughey

Ceist:

420. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of the proposed Luas extension from Broombridge to Finglas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48801/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport.  The National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for the planning and development of public transport infrastructure in the Greater Dublin Area, including light rail.

Noting the NTA's responsibility in the matter, I have referred the Deputy's question to the NTA for a direct reply.  Please contact my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Public Service Vehicles

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Ceisteanna (421, 423)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

421. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of SPSV licences issued by county in each of the years 2010 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48809/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

423. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the way in which the turnaround time can be improved for applicants for public service vehicle licences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48811/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 421 and 423 together.

The regulation of the small public service vehicle (SPSV) industry is a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA) under the provisions of the Taxi Regulation Act 2013.

Accordingly, I have referred your question to the NTA for direct reply to you. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within 10 working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Driver Test Waiting Lists

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Question No. 423 answered with Question No. 421.

Ceisteanna (422)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

422. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the number of persons to date on waiting lists for driver tests in counties Cavan and Monaghan; the length of time they have been waiting; the stage they are at in the application process in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48810/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As this is a matter for the Road Safety Authority I have referred the Deputy's question to the Authority for direct response. Please contact my office if a reply is not received within ten working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A
Question No. 423 answered with Question No. 421.

Coast Guard Services

Ceisteanna (424)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

424. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will address a matter (details supplied) regarding safety issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48967/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The Coast Guard withdrew the services of its in-shore rescue boats stationed at 23 locations around the coast on Friday last, 15 November 2019. This action was taken following a reported malfunction of a number of lifejackets which are a key piece of personal protective equipment.  An investigation is underway into the malfunctioning lifejackets which involves the Coast Guard, the supplier and the manufacturer.  It is hoped to identify the cause and provide for a speedy, effective and safe solution.

This action is being taken in compliance with Coast Guards SAR assurance obligations as set out in the National SAR Plan to ensure safety of Coast Guard boat crews. The National SAR Committee met on Monday 18 November and was briefed on the matter.  In the meantime, from a SAR coverage point of view, the Coast Guard is deploying various contingencies based on an assessment of risk.  All shoreline and cliff rescue services remain in place, along with the four Search and Rescue Coast Guard helicopters.  The RNLI, Community Inshore Rescue Boats, and Naval Service will continue to assist particularly in those areas of greatest risk until the issue has been resolved.

As regards other concerns raised previously, the Irish Coast Guard addressed these at the time through a programme of both internal and external testing. Along with independent testing through a UK based Testing Laboratory regarding the EN ISO standards applicable and assurances received from the manufacturer of the lifejacket in question.

As regards broader issues of safety in our national search and rescue service, I would draw the Deputy’s attention to the recent review of our National Search and Rescue Framework which was published in July last and the publication of a new National Search and Rescue Plan. The review was chaired independently by Sir Alan Massey, ex CEO of the UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency.  

The Report welcomed the establishment by the IRCG of a new Safety, Quality and Compliance (SQC) section, and appointing therein a dedicated Health and Safety Officer to provide oversight of the SMS, working with the Department’s Safety Officer(s) to embed and improve Health and Safety policy, procedures, goals and objectives.  Further, the IRCG has committed to implementing an effective SMS, applicable to the specific needs of the IRCG and in line with the mandatory requirements of ISO 45001:2018 - Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems (SMS Revision & Accreditation – SRA - Project). This work is already helping inform other entities within the SAR system who are seeking to improve their Safety Management Systems. The recent issue with lifejackets and the response to that is evidence of safety management in action.

At a national level, the new National SAR Plan delivers a new mechanism of assurance in relation to standards and practices and oversight of the overall Search and Rescue system. This includes a support network to assist those involved in search and rescue to develop minimum standards and practices and to embed principles of continuous improvement and safety within their organisations. It also creates a new Search and Rescue Regulators’ Forum, a unique initiative which brings transport regulators in the Search and Rescue domain together to exchange good practice and seek to improve the overall system assurance mechanisms.

Tourism Policy

Ceisteanna (425)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

425. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will address a matter regarding the advertisement of greyhound races (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48970/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I was gravely concerned following the coverage and debate regarding alleged cruel practices within Ireland’s greyhound industry. One of the issues that arose as a result was the promotion of greyhound racing by our tourism agencies.

Consequently, while the process of investigating and addressing issues was underway in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, I asked the tourism agencies to review their promotion of greyhound racing.  I subsequently welcomed their decision to pause active promotion of greyhound racing and to keep the situation under review, pending implementation of several reforms.

Since then, my colleague Brendan Griffin T.D., Minister of State for Tourism and Sport at my Department, has received an update on Bord na gCon's additional and enhanced care and welfare measures, which he forwarded to both Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland.  Minister Griffin has made it clear that he has strong personal views on the industry, which do not coincide with my own. I have no problem with him letting those personal views be known to third parties.

Sports Capital Programme

Ceisteanna (426)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

426. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if feedback will be provided to a club (details supplied) in County Cork that was unsuccessful in the recent allocation of sports capital grants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48978/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

2,337 applications were submitted under the 2018 round of the Sports Capital Programme seeking a total of €162m in funding. 

The club referred to by the Deputy submitted a valid application.  Given the level of demand from applicants and the amount of funding available however, unfortunately it was not possible to allocate grants to every eligible applicant.

My Department will be writing to all applicants in the coming days with details of the outcome of the assessment of their application.  Unsuccessful applicants will also be invited to appeal the Department's decision if they believe that the Department has made any error in the assessment process.

Sports Capital Programme

Ceisteanna (427)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

427. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if feedback will be provided to a club (details supplied) in County Cork that was unsuccessful in the recent allocation of sports capital grants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48980/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

2,337 applications were submitted under the 2018 round of the Sports Capital Programme seeking a total of €162m in funding. 

The club referred to by the Deputy submitted a valid application.  Given the level of demand from applicants and the amount of funding available however, unfortunately it was not possible to allocate grants to every eligible applicant.

My Department will be writing to all applicants in the coming days with details of the outcome of the assessment of their application.  Unsuccessful applicants will also be invited to appeal the Department's decision if they believe that the Department has made any error in the assessment process.

Regional Road Network

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Ceisteanna (428)

James Browne

Ceist:

428. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if funding will be provided to local authorities to assist with the maintenance of roadside hedges in view of health and safety concerns; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49062/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is a statutory function of each road authority in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993.

Works on regional and local roads are funded by local authorities' own resources supplemented by State grants. Within the overall resources available to it, the selection and prioritisation of works including the maintenance of road verges is a matter for each local authority. 

Section 70 of the Roads Act 1993 sets out the responsibility of landowners to take all reasonable steps to ensure that trees, hedges and other vegetation growing on their land are not, or could not become, a danger to people using a public road or interfere with the safe use of a public road or the maintenance of a public road.  

A local authority can serve notice requiring a landowner to take action to address a hazard. This section also allows the relevant road authority to step in where a landowner fails or is unable to take action to remedy a hazard and to seek recovery of reasonable costs from the landowner.  This is, therefore, a matter for management between the landowner and the relevant local authority.

As Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) and the relevant local authority are responsible for maintenance of national roads, I have referred the Deputy's Question to TII for direct reply. If the Deputy does not receive a reply within 10 working days please advise my Office.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Tourism Promotion

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Ceisteanna (429, 430)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

429. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when funds will be allocated under the destination tourism towns initiative. [49086/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Robert Troy

Ceist:

430. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if Mullingar and Athlone, County Westmeath, will be included in the destination tourism towns initiative. [49087/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 429 and 430 together.

Fáilte Ireland's Tourism Destination Towns initiative is a capital investment scheme under which Local Authorities were invited to apply for funding to enhance public spaces in developed and emerging tourism destinations in a way that will engage tourists and enhance their experience. 

I understand that Fáilte Ireland will confirm allocations under the scheme in the coming weeks. I have asked Fáilte Ireland to reply directly to the Deputy regarding any further detail it might be in a position to share.  Please contact my private office if you have not received a reply within ten working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Cycling Facilities Provision

Ceisteanna (431)

John Curran

Ceist:

431. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of the various cycle network plans being implemented in major cities; the funding being allocated to the implementation of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49095/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport, including cycling infrastructure. The National Transport Authority (NTA) has responsibility for the allocation of funding at project level and for the implementation of cycle network plans across our major cities.

I can advise the Deputy that, since announcement of Budget 2020, the overall funding for my Department's two principal active travel related programmes is now likely to increase to just over €100 million in total.

This improved funding allocation does not include the Bus Connects programme which will deliver 200km of largely segregated cycle lanes across Dublin City. It also excludes various other funding sources, such as €23 million for 2020 under the Greenways Strategy and funding that is provided outside my Department, like the Urban & Rural Regeneration and Development funds. 

Noting the NTA's responsibility in the matter, I have referred the  Deputy's questions to the NTA for a more detailed reply.  Please contact my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 days.

Road Projects Status

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

Ceisteanna (432)

Jackie Cahill

Ceist:

432. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of a bypass for Thurles, County Tipperary; if the bypass is included in the Project Ireland 2040 plan; if TII expects that it will be constructed within the lifetime of the plan; if it is itemised within the plan; if the bypass for Thurles project has been included in material published by his Department or TII either in material published as part of the Project Ireland 2040 plan or since; if so, if he will provide the extract that includes the information; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49134/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme.  Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, the planning, design and construction of individual national roads is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. 

I understand from TII that the proposed N62 Thurles Bypass scheme was suspended back in 2011, after potential routes were assessed.

Noting the above position, I have referred your question to TII for a direct reply and to provide you with information about its suspension.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A

School Expulsions

Ceisteanna (433)

Paul Murphy

Ceist:

433. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the rates of expulsion in a school (details supplied); and the way in which they compare to rates nationally. [48710/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

As this is an operational matter I have asked Tusla, the Child and Family Agency to reply directly to the Deputy.

Early Childhood Care and Education Funding

Ceisteanna (434)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

434. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the reason a system (details supplied) is in place; if Pobal will be instructed to address the anomaly; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [48586/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

Officials from my Department have been in contact with colleagues in Pobal who have confirmed that there is no anomaly with the Higher Capitation application system on PIP.

This year, due to data protection limitations, service providers were required to submit all qualifications as part of their Higher Capitation applications, regardless of whether they had been approved in previous years. This requirement had the effect of adding time to the appraisal process as additional checks needed to be performed to ensure that all submitted qualifications were DCYA-approved courses. Previously, DCYA had administered the Higher Capitation appraisal process, but this change was necessary when the process transitioned to Pobal.

In some cases, as part of the process, applications have to be referred back to Early Learning and Care (ELC) providers for a number of reasons including confirmation of qualifications from a third party accredited body or institution. Until these applications are resubmitted with correct details and rechecked, they cannot be approved and paid. Once these applications are resubmitted to Pobal, with correct details, they are dealt with as a priority.

As response to this change and considering the significant pressure on services, the decision was made that ELC providers whose applications had not yet been processed and who were also in receipt of the first preliminary payment on 23rd August 2019, would receive an additional preliminary payment on 1st November 2019. This payment was for a four-week period that took ELC providers to 20th November 2019. The payment was based on a child’s Full Time Equivalent (FTE) numbers for the week ending 18th November 2019 using the max FTE cap for services which were approved for higher capitation last year.

A further preliminary payment was made on 8th November 2019 for any ELC service providers whose application had still not been processed at that stage. This payment was for a four week period that took ELC service providers to the 22nd November 2019. ELC service providers who had not previously been approved for the Higher Capitation rate but had submitted an application for the 2019/2020 programme year that had not been processed, received a preliminary payment on 29th October 2019. This payment was for an eight week period. An additional preliminary payment was also made to these services on 8th November and this payment was for a four week period.