Road Projects Status

Ceisteanna (237)

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

237. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the expected timeline for completion of the inner relief road Thurles, County Tipperary, linking the Slievenamon Road to the Mill Road; if funding is in place; if a route has been finalised; if all land is secured; the reason for the delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49527/19]

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.  Each local authority is the contracting authority for the purpose of implementation of regional and local road improvement projects. 

The National Development Plan (NDP), which has been developed by Government to underpin the  implementation of the National Planning Framework (NPF), provides the strategic and financial framework for investment in the road network for the period from 2018 to 2027.  The bulk of the funding being provided is earmarked for maintenance and renewal of the regional and local road network with some limited investment in road improvement projects. The NDP does make provision for the implementation of 12 regional and local road improvement projects, subject to necessary approvals, in the period to 2023. Outside of that, some limited provision is being made in the regional and local road capital budget for the appraisal of a pipeline of upgrade projects. This is intended to cover the appraisal of projects for development, if possible, in the later years of the National Development Plan.  The scope for carrying pipeline projects through to development stage is dependent on the future availability of funding.

The Thurles Inner Relief Road was mentioned in the NDP as an example of projects proposed by local authorities which were at various stages of planning and appraisal. 

In accordance with the Public Spending Code and the Department’s Common Appraisal Framework the project requires preliminary and detailed appraisal.  The first essential step, therefore, is that a preliminary appraisal for this project is submitted to the Department by Tipperary County Council.  Progression beyond that stage will depend on the quality of the appraisal, the overall availability of funding and the quality of the business cases relating to other proposed projects from around the country.

Road Projects

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

Ceisteanna (238)

Mattie McGrath

Ceist:

238. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the reason for the delay in advancing plans for a bypass for Thurles, County Tipperary; if an estimate for the completion of the project will be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49528/19]

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 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

Departmental Expenditure

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

Ceisteanna (239)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

239. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the amount spent by his Department and each agency under the aegis of his Department on the National Ploughing Championships in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, by online advertising, offline advertising, promotional material, wages, photography, stand rental and other costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49548/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The cost to my Department for the National Ploughing Championships for 2016 to 2018 follows. The cost to agencies is a matter for the agencies themselves. I will forward your query to the agencies under my remit for direct reply to you as soon as possible.

2016 -  €1918.80

2017 - €4329.60

2018 -  €4,829.60

2019 - €17,415.95 

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

Public Transport Initiatives

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

Ceisteanna (240)

Pat the Cope Gallagher

Ceist:

240. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will consider making the no alcoholic substances allowed programme compulsory for transport providers in an attempt to deal comprehensively with underage drinking; if his attention has been drawn to the fact the programme runs extremely well on a voluntary basis but needs to be made compulsory in order to deal with the growing issue of underage drinking on transport operator vehicles when travelling to and from social events and discos; if he will work on a cross-agency approach with a view to fully implementing the programme on a statutory basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49595/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

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

The consumption of alcohol on board transport providers vehicles is covered by bye laws made by Corás Iompair Éireann (CIÉ) in respect of Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann and Irish Rail and bye laws made by the National Transport Authority (NTA) in respect of other public transport providers. I have therefore forwarded the Deputy's question to CIÉ and the NTA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive responses within ten working days.

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

Road Traffic Offences

Ceisteanna (241)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

241. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on the fact that more than one quarter of motorists convicted of road traffic offences who are sent by the courts on road safety educational courses are failing to complete those programmes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49617/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

This is a matter for the Courts Service and my colleague the Minister for Justice and Equality.

Road Projects Expenditure

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

Ceisteanna (242)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

242. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the funding provided for a project (details supplied) in 2019; the projected drawdown of the funding by year end; the funding to be allocated in 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49670/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Transport)

The planning and implementation of the A5 upgrade project is the responsibility of the Northern Ireland authorities.  

As is the case for the all such capital projects, the A5 upgrade scheme is subject to the planning assessment and approval process in Northern Ireland and since 2012 there have been a number of legal challenges to approvals related to the scheme.  This has led to unavoidable delays to the implementation of the proposed scheme.

Most recently a challenge to a decision in November 2017 by the Northern Ireland Department for Infrastructure  to proceed with the A5 scheme, resulted in the decision to proceed being quashed by the High Court at the request of the Department for Infrastructure in November 2018. 

Following the conclusion of that legal action the Department for Infrastructure  updated project environmental assessments and undertook a public consultation on a number of environmental reports, including an Environmental Statement Addendum 2019. The Department announced  in August this year that over 260 responses to the consultation had been received and that following on from consideration of the number and nature of the issues raised the Department had concluded that a further public inquiry is required.

Earlier this month the Department for Infrastructure also announced that the Planning Appeals Commission has  been appointed to hold an inquiry into the A5 Environmental Statement Addendum 2019 and related environmental issues, along with the four updated draft reports to inform an Appropriate Assessment under the Habitats Regulations prepared by the Department.  It is understood that the inquiry will be held in February 2020.

The current funding arrangements in relation to the A5 are governed by the Stormont House Agreement and Implementation Plan - A Fresh Start. Under this Agreement the Government is committed to provide funding of £75 million (sterling) towards the cost of Phase 1a of the A5 upgrade scheme once the statutory planning process in Northern Ireland is concluded. 

Allowing for the time required for the conclusion of the public inquiry and for a new  decision to be taken on whether to proceed with the scheme together with the possibility of a further legal challenge, the timeframe for the start of construction of Phase 1a of the A5 project is uncertain. 

In addition it is envisaged that, as was the case for previous contributions, payments from the South will be based on an agreed protocol linked to the achievement of construction stage milestones. This  means that there would be a time lag between the construction start of the scheme and an initial payment by the South.

In view of the current state of play in relation to the A5 scheme and the timeframes involved, provision was not made in 2019 and is not being made in the calendar year 2020 for funding for the scheme.  The Government remains committed to the £75 million sterling contribution and the Senior Officials Group established on foot of the Fresh Start Agreement will continue to liaise regarding the project with a view to delivering on that commitment.

In relation to the N2, 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 and in the context of delivering the Government's commitments arising out of Project Ireland 2040, the planning, design, construction and improvement of individual national roads, is a matter for TII, in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. 

Noting the above position, I have referred the 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

National Childcare Scheme

Ceisteanna (243)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

243. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if a public services card will be required to access the new childcare scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [49461/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The National Childcare Scheme opened on 20 November.  It is being opened on a phased basis, with the online application system now available and a postal application system available from early 2020.  The Scheme provides the first ever statutory entitlement to financial support for childcare.

The Scheme has always been designed such that, when it is fully up and running, applications will be accepted both online and by post.  A Public Services Card (PSC) and verified MyGovID account are required to apply online only.

The online system offers a user friendly application process for busy parents. It will deliver greater efficiency in the administration of a major, national Government scheme. It gives parents the possibility of (a) accessing subsidies via an online automated income assessment and (b) applying for subsidies using their mobile phone.  It is parent friendly.

A secure identity verification system is required for any such IT system.  The Public Services Card and MyGovID offers this security.  It safeguards applicants' information and the administration of public funding.  Our priority is to direct funding to hard-pressed parents and not into administration.

For those parents who wish to apply online but lack IT access or knowledge, help is available through their local Childcare Committee. DCYA has also been working with key stakeholders to support vulnerable families and will continue this work. Parents can also contact the Parent Support Centre which is available from 8am to 6pm Monday to Saturday - 01 9068530.

There has been a very high volume of applications.  Over 8,400 applications, benefiting over 12,100 children, have been successfully submitted, with many more in train.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (244)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

244. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the amount spent by her Department and each agency under the aegis of her Department on the National Ploughing Championships in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, by online advertising, offline advertising, promotional material, wages, photography, stand rental and other costs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [49534/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Children)

The information sought by the Deputy is currently being collated and the response will issue as soon as possible.

Departmental Projects

Ceisteanna (245)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

245. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the status of a project (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49458/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

Pobal is a not for profit company that works on behalf of the Irish Government in managing and supporting programmes in the areas of Social Inclusion and Equality, Inclusive Employment and Enterprise, and Early Years and Young People.

Pobal established a temporary office in Mullingar during September 2019 and 10 staff are currently working from there.  A new space to accommodate up to 50 seats is expected to open during quarter one of 2020. This will consist mainly of National Childcare Scheme staff and a hot-desk area. The staff who will be based there are expected to be a mix of existing staff who will transfer there and newly hired staff. 

Any new jobs arising will be advertised on www.pobal.ie, their twitter account @Pobal and other sources.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (246)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

246. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the amount spent by his Department and each agency under the aegis of his Department on the National Ploughing Championships in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, by online advertising, offline advertising, promotional material, wages, photography, stand rental and other costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49546/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The details requested by the Deputy are set out in the tables, which detail all costs inclusive of VAT.  As my Department was established on 19th July 2017, the information provided commences in 2017 and includes costs for 2018 and 2019.

In both 2017 and 2018 my Department hosted a joint exhibit at the National Ploughing Championships in conjunction with the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht,  It should be noted that in 2017 the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht was the lead exhibitor and therefore incurred the higher percentage of costs relating to the shared exhibit. In 2018 my Department was the lead exhibitor and, in turn, incurred the higher percentage of costs. 

At the 2019 Championships, Government Departments, Agencies and State-supported bodies were grouped in themed marquees, dictated by the nature of the supports, services and policy areas they have responsibility for.  Costs relating to marquees were shared based on the extent of the space occupied.  

Department of Rural and Community Development - Ploughing Championship costs

 

 2017

 2018

 2019

 Online advertising

Nil

Nil

Nil

 Offline advertising

Nil

Nil

Nil

 Promotional material

€2,216

€9,596

€4,800

 *Wages

 -

 -

 -

 Photography

€512

Nil

€1,540

 Stand rental (marquee costs)

€41,398 

€105,770

€82,186

 Other costs

€5,835

€28,065

€15,868

 Total

€49,961

€143,431

€104,394

 *Staff were paid their normal rates of pay as this work was carried out in the course of their regular duties.

Agencies under the aegis of my Department 

There are four agencies under the aegis of my Department;

- Pobal

- The Western Development Commission

- Water Safety Ireland

- The Charities Regulator

Pobal - Ploughing Championships costs

 

 2017

 2018

 2019

 Online advertising

Nil

€5,314

Nil

 Offline advertising

€419

Nil

€545

 Promotional material

€8,386

€4,434

€8,781

 *Wages

 -

 -

 -

 Photography

Nil

Nil

Nil

 Stand rental (marquee costs)

Nil (Hosted in shared exhibit, costs borne by Department)

Nil (Hosted in shared exhibit, costs borne by Department)

Nil (Hosted in Health and Wellness Marquee)

 Other costs

Nil

Nil

€38

 Total

€8,805

€9,748

€9,364

 *Staff were paid their normal rates of pay as this work was carried out in the course of their regular duties.

 Western Development Commission - Ploughing Championships costs

 

 2017

 2018

 2019

 Online advertising

Nil

Nil

Nil

 Offline advertising

Nil

Nil

Nil

 Promotional material

Nil

€1,759

€6,803

 *Wages

 -

 -

 -

 Photography

Nil

Nil

Nil

 Stand rental (marquee costs)

Nil (Hosted in shared exhibit, costs borne by Department)

Nil (Hosted in shared exhibit, costs borne by Department)

€1,471 (Hosted in Work & Business Marquee)

 Other costs

€3,307

€1,949

€4,364

 Total

€3,307

€3,708

€12,638

*Staff were paid their normal rates of pay as this work was carried out in the course of their regular duties.

Water Safety Ireland - Ploughing Championships costs

 

 2017

 2018

 2019

 Online advertising

Nil

Nil

Nil

 Offline advertising

Nil

Nil

Nil

 Promotional material

€250

€250

€300

 *Wages

 -

 -

 -

 Photography

Nil

Nil

 Nil

 Stand rental (marquee costs)

Nil (Hosted in shared exhibit, costs borne by Department)

Nil (Hosted in shared exhibit, costs borne by Department)

Nil (Hosted in Community: Rural and Gaeltacht Suppports Marquee, costs borne by Department)

 Other costs

Nil

Nil

Nil

 Total

€250

€250

€300

 *Staffed by Volunteers

The Charities Regulator has not had a presence at the Ploughing Championships since it came under the remit of my Department.

Rural Transport Services

Ceisteanna (247)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

247. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the meetings he has had with the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and the NTA since he has taken up his ministerial position with respect to LocalLink transport services to date in tabular form; the policy input he has regarding improving LocalLink transport services under the action plan for rural development; and the issues raised in recent meetings. [49624/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

While I have not directly met with the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport in relation to Local Link services, my officials have met with the National Transport Authority (NTA) in relation to Local Link. The NTA gave a presentation on Local Link services to the Monitoring Committee for the Action Plan for Rural Development in May of this year.

The Action Plan for Rural Development contains several actions related to improving access to rural transport, including through Local Link services. Progress Reports on the Action Plan are published twice yearly on all measures contained in the Action Plan and these are available at www.gov.ie/en/collection/b13c5f-progress-reports-action-plan-for-rural-development/.

My Department is currently developing the next phase of rural policy for Ireland, to succeed the Action Plan for Rural Development which reaches the end of its three-year lifecycle at the end of 2019.

The need for further integration of rural, regional and national public transport services to provide a comprehensive and reliable service to people who live, work and study in rural towns, villages and outlying areas was highlighted as part of the consultation process to inform the development of the new policy.

My Department will continue to engage across Government, including with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, to identify tangible policy measures for inclusion in the policy, including measures to further enhance access to transport services in rural areas.

Rural Regeneration and Development Fund Data

Ceisteanna (248)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

248. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the number and value of approved projects being funded under the rural regeneration and development fund; the funding allocated for the scheme in 2019; the value of payments made for approved projects to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49625/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The Rural Regeneration and Development Fund seeks to support ambitious and strategic projects which have the potential to transform rural economies and communities. The Government has committed €1 billion over 10 years to the Fund and €315 million is allocated to the Fund for the period 2019-2022.  €52 million was allocated to the Fund for 2019.

The first call for applications to the Fund closed in September 2018.  There was a large response to the first call, with 280 applications received under Categories 1 and 2.  

Category 1 related to projects with all necessary planning and other consents in place and which were ready to proceed, while Category 2 projects were those which required further development to become ready for Category 1 status. 

On foot of the first call, 38 successful Category 1 projects and 46 Category 2 projects were announced, with funding of €86m provided from the Fund to support projects worth €117m.  

Following the announcement of the successful projects, my Department engaged with each lead party to complete due diligence requirements.  Contractual arrangements were also drawn up with the release of funding based on the achievement of key milestones in the projects. 

In this regard, significant progress is already being made on the implementation of successful projects.  A number of the projects have already reached their first milestone and had funding released.  To date, €21.9 million has been drawn down from the Fund by 55 separate projects.  This is made up of €18.04 million drawn down for 33 Category 1 projects and €3.8 million for 22 Category 2 projects.  I expect that payments from the Fund will continue to accelerate over the coming weeks and months as further milestones are achieved across the other projects.

 The second call for Category 1 applications for the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund closed on 6 August 2019.  There was an excellent response from across the country and my Department received 69 applications for funding. I announced the successful projects from the second call on 6 November 2019.  26 projects were approved for funding of €62 million to support projects costing €95 million.

Following the announcement of the successful projects from the second call, my Department is engaging with each lead party to complete due diligence requirements and complete contractual arrangements.

LEADER Programmes Expenditure

Ceisteanna (249)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

249. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the amount spent to date under the 2014-20 LEADER programme by project and administration costs; the amount expended to date on project costs by each LAG; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49626/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

LEADER is a multi-annual programme which has a total budget of €250 million over the period to 2020. It is administered by Local Action Groups (LAGs) who deliver the programme across the country.

Total expenditure on the LEADER programme since it commenced - effectively in 2016 when the majority of Funding Agreements were signed with the LAGs - amounts to over €73.4 million. This comprises:

- €1.5 million in initial costs incurred by the LAGs to develop their Local Development Strategies.

- €32.6 million in administration costs of the LAGs and the cost of their engagement with communities to generate projects.

- €39.3 million on project expenditure.

The level of project activity under the LEADER programme has increased significantly since the start of 2018. Currently, over 2,500 projects have been approved for funding of over €94.6 million. A total of 1,007 projects have been approved to date in 2019 alone.

A further 352 applications, requesting an additional €30.7 million, are at an earlier stage in the approvals process.

In addition, more than 100 Food and Co-operation projects have been approved at national level, outside of the core budget available to the LAGs.

Project payments have increased significantly in recent months as approved works have reached completion and claims have been submitted for payment. Over €39.2 million of project expenditure has been incurred to date, €26.1 million of that in 2019.

Over 1,000 or 40% of project promoters have now received a Final Payment in respect of their project application. The Programme is now delivering real and tangible results for communities right across rural Ireland and I am confident that the increased stream of project approvals by the LAGs and payment claims being submitted to my Department will continue at pace for the remainder of the programming period.

Table 1 provides a breakdown of the project payments made to date by each Local Action Group. The figures do not include payments made under the thematic schemes funded outside of the core budget allocated to each LAG.

Total LEADER Project payments by LAG as at 25 November 2019

Local Action Group

Project Payments

Name

Value

Carlow

€1,439,360

Cavan

€1,994,572

Clare

€1,413,934

Cork North

€942,688.44

Cork South

€504,996

Cork West

€540,069

Donegal

€3,458,456

Dublin Rural

€740,183

Galway East

€868,655

Galway West

€418,083

Kerry

€2,768,655

Kildare

€476,217

Kilkenny

€937,460

Laois

€989,437

Leitrim

€1,057,027

Limerick

€2,074,243

Longford

€850,063

Louth

€922,467

Mayo

€2,521,486

Meath

€508,852

Monaghan

€1,260,576

Offaly

€2,218,523

Roscommon

€1,181,447

Sligo

€1,311,592

Tipperary

€2,347,798

Waterford

€2,190,951

Westmeath

€622,187

Wexford

€2,023,527

Wicklow

€699,524

Total

€39,283,028

Local Improvement Scheme Data

Ceisteanna (250)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

250. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the number of rural roads that have received funding under the LIS in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, by local authority in tabular form; and the projected number of road projects to be completed in 2019. [49627/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

Since I reintroduced the Local Improvement Scheme in 2017, I have allocated over €48 million to the scheme, which has resulted in the approval of over 2,000 roads projects.

The LIS is funded by my Department and administered through the Local Authorities. The number and location of roads to benefit from improvement works is a matter for the relevant Local Authority.

The table outlines the number of LIS projects approved, and the number that have been confirmed as completed to date since 2017. In a small number of cases, the number completed is greater than the number originally approved, due to necessary substitutions agreed with the Department.

A number of Local Authorities have yet to submit their final returns confirming the funding spent and the number of roads projects completed in respect of the 2019 scheme. My officials have been in contact with the Local Authorities to impress upon them the need to complete their LIS works and to submit payment claims.

Table 1: LIS-Number of Roads Approved and Completed

Local Authority

Number of Roads Approved in 2017

Number of Roads Confirmed Complete under the 2017 Scheme

Number of Roads Approved in 2018

Number of Roads Confirmed Complete under the 2018 Scheme

Number of Roads Approved in 2019

Number of Roads Confirmed Complete under the 2019 Scheme to Date

Carlow

20

20

28

28

14

14

Cavan

10

10

11

12

4

4

Clare

28

28

30

30

12

12

Cork

21

21

61

62

20

TBC

Donegal

164

164

106

107

34

TBC

Galway

57

57

66

69

37

36

Kerry

41

41

58

61

26

TBC

Kildare

0

0

12

12

8

8

Kilkenny

16

16

15

16

12

TBC

Laois

21

20

19

15

6

7

Leitrim

18

18

21

24

10

11

Limerick

18

17

21

22

13

TBC

Longford

18

17

25

25

15

TBC

Louth

8

8

5

6

7

6

Mayo

89

86

139

144

73

TBC

Meath

22

22

21

21

12

TBC

Monaghan

21

21

31

28

10

TBC

Offaly

20

20

31

31

11

9

Roscommon

41

41

92

91

21

21

Sligo

16

16

22

22

7

7

Tipperary

9

9

25

32

21

TBC

Waterford

17

17

19

20

4

3

Westmeath

23

23

22

22

12

12

Wexford

18

18

17

17

11

TBC

Wicklow

7

7

15

15

11

TBC

TOTAL

723

717

912

932

411

150

CLÁR Programme

Ceisteanna (251)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

251. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the status of the review of the CLÁR programme. [49628/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

The CLÁR programme provides funding for small infrastructural projects in rural areas which have suffered high levels of population decline.

The areas originally selected for inclusion in the programme in 2001 were those which suffered the greatest population decline from 1926 to 1996. The Cooley Peninsula was also included on the basis of the serious difficulties caused in that area by Foot and Mouth disease. The average population loss in the original CLÁR regions over the period 1926 to 1996 was 50%.

In 2006, an analysis of the 2002 Census data was carried out by the NIRSA Institute (National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis) at Maynooth University and the programme was extended to include areas with an average population loss of 35% between 1926 and 2002.

As the Deputy is aware, the CLÁR programme was closed for new applications in 2010. However, I re-launched the programme in the second half of 2016, using as a base-line the areas identified in the work carried out by NIRSA.

I have initiated a review of the CLÁR programme which will examine CLÁR areas by reference to the 2016 Census of Population data. It will also consider whether there are any other factors that should be taken into account in designating areas for eligibility under CLÁR in the future.

My officials have been in contact with NIRSA with regard to carrying out a detailed analysis of the most recent Census data to further inform the review process, and that engagement is ongoing. I envisage that a wider stakeholder consultation will also take place before the review is fully complete. Once completed, the review will help to inform the design of future CLÁR programmes and any additional measures which may be included.

Departmental Strategies

Ceisteanna (252)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

252. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the new road map for social inclusion 2019 to 2025 will be further delayed in view of the fact that new SILC data is due for release on 28 November 2019 which may impact on the targets set in the road map and so on; if the road map for social inclusion will have to be revised in view of the new data; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [49460/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The new Roadmap for Social Inclusion 2020-2025 will include data from the 2018 EU Survey on Income and Living Conditions (SILC), to be released by the CSO on 28 November, with any necessary adjustments made to the targets.  It is not expected that the inclusion of this data will have any impact on the timeframe for publication of the new Roadmap.

Social Welfare Code

Ceisteanna (253)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

253. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the documents required to be submitted to her Department by a person applying for a means tested payment to prove that the person is separated and not in receipt of maintenance payments in view of informal separation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [49462/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Social welfare legislation provides that all income and assets belonging to the claimant and his or her spouse, partner or cohabitant are assessable for social welfare means testing purposes.

Where a person is informally separated, and living apart from their spouse or civil partner, social welfare inspectors have a key role in investigating and advising the Department’s deciding officers on whether a couple are separated for means testing purposes. In this regard, no single criterion can necessarily support a decision that a couple are separated or not.  The criteria for assessment include, but are not limited to:

- whether they share financially as a couple;

- whether the separation is temporary or long-term;

- whether there is an expectation of living together again shortly;

- whether the marriage or civil partnership remains unbroken. 

If the deciding officer considers the couple to be separated, then the earnings of the spouse or civil partner would not be included in the means assessment.  Any maintenance payments (including the payment of rent/mortgage) would then be assessable.

On several schemes there is a maintenance disregard in respect of housing costs. Jobseeker’s Allowance, One-Parent Family Payment, Disability Allowance, State Pension (Non-Contributory), Blind Pension, Widow’s, Widower’s or Surviving Civil Partner’s (Non-Contributory) Pension and, as of Budget 2019, Working Family Payment all have a maintenance disregard in place. For these schemes, housing costs of up to €95.23 per week are disregarded, and 50% of any maintenance above this is assessed as means.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy .

Rural Social Scheme

Ceisteanna (254)

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

254. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a decision has been made to move the rural social scheme from the responsibility of her Department to the Department of Rural and Community Development; if so, when the decision was made; when persons will be notified of the decision; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [49503/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

In early 2019, the Government agreed to establish an Interdepartmental Group (IDG) to explore the most appropriate organisation arrangements - which included the Rural Social Scheme (RSS).

A series of meetings of the IDG have taken place and a number of bilateral meetings were undertaken with the relevant Departments which included discussions on the RSS.  In addition to this, written submissions were received from key stakeholders and community groups.  All submissions received were considered as part of the deliberation process.  The final report of the IDG is expected to be available shortly.   

The priority for my Department is to ensure that all employment programmes and incentives including RSS will be focused, targeted and suitable for the needs of low income farmers and fishermen into the future.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (255)

Barry Cowen

Ceist:

255. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the amount spent by her Department and each agency under the aegis of her Department on the National Ploughing Championships in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, by online advertising, offline advertising, promotional material, wages, photography, stand rental and other costs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [49539/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

My Department has participated in the National Ploughing Championships over the past number of years and it provides an important opportunity for face-to-face engagement with our customers and the public.

In 2019, for the first time, my Department attended as part of the Government of Ireland village.  The central Government of Ireland’s presence at the 2019 National Ploughing Championships (NPC) focused on delivering supports and services that citizens need, in a format that is accessible and most relevant for visitors.

My Department had an enhanced presence at the NPC in 2019  including representation from five key business areas of the Department deemed most relevant to attendees. These included  the JobsIreland team who provided information on job opportunities and employer supports, representatives from State Pensions team, and also staff from the MyWelfare team. General scheme and support information was provide by staff from the Communications and Customer Services team.

As with previous years, staff also provided general information and supplied customers with information booklets, forms and guides to our services where relevant.  My Department uses a reusable and reconfigurable stand for attendance the National Ploughing Championships and similar events.  Stand installation is provided by a contractor and costs of this are included in the Department's figures in the table.

My Department does not commission promotional material or literature specifically for the National Ploughing Championships. 

This year my Department was the lead exhibitor and had a coordinating role for the Business, Employment Welfare and Tax marquee which included the Revenue Commissioners, the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, the National Childcare Scheme, CSO and the Workplace Relations Commission. 

 Information on the Citizens Information Board will take longer to collate and will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.

DEASP National Ploughing Championships 2016 - 2019  

Year

DEASP costs

DEASP staffing

2019

€28,676.63

20 staff in attendance  each day on average

2018

€9,571.50

8 each day on average

2017

€7,129.50

6 - 8 staff each day

2016

€5,530.50

6 - 8 staff each day

Treatment Benefit Scheme Data

Ceisteanna (256)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

256. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of persons who applied for hearing aids under the treatment benefit scheme in each of the years 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019; the cost of same in each year in the same period; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [49558/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The details requested in relation to the number of people who applied for hearing aids under the treatment benefit scheme are set out in the following table.

 Year

Number of Grants paid 

Cost euro

 2017

11,375

9.43m 

 2018

14,689

12.74m 

 2019 to end October

13,185

11.56m 

Illness Benefit Applications

Ceisteanna (257)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

257. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason persons with fibromyalgia can no longer access protocol 6 on the online list of her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [49590/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

I can assure the Deputy that the quality of assessment carried out on the cohort of clients with Fibromyalgia is maintained to a high professional level and that there has been no diminishing of eligibility criteria for this illness.

The Department’s protocols were developed with the primary intention of assisting Medical Assessors in carrying out their work. As protocols are in place solely for the use of medical assessors, I am advised that the Chief Medical Officer deemed it not necessary for them to be available online.

Should the Deputy have a particular case in mind, or have a specific query in relation to Protocol no 06 MSS (Musculoskeletal System) which covers fibromyalgia, I would be happy to have this clarified for him without delay.

I hope this answers the question for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Code

Ceisteanna (258)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

258. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the way in which fibromyalgia is assessed for the purpose of approving or refusing social welfare benefits; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [49591/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The assessment of eligibility for medical related schemes such as Fibromyalgia includes detail medical history, the review of supporting medical evidence and in certain schemes an in-person assessment, where appropriate physical and relevant functional assessment is carried out by Medical Assessors of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, depending on the benefit scheme applied for.

After the assessment, the Medical Assessor will express his/her opinion on the case in the format of a medial report (MR1) or in the format of a reasoned narrative as per the scheme.

In all cases a deciding officer of my Department makes a decision in line with the provisions specified in the relevant social welfare legislation including supporting medical evidence supplied by the applicant and taking into account the opinion of the Department’s Medical Assessor.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Applications

Ceisteanna (259)

Tom Neville

Ceist:

259. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason an application by a person (details supplied) was refused; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [49622/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

An application for Domiciliary Care Allowance ( DCA) was received from the person concerned on the 16th August 2019.  The application was not allowed as the child was not considered to satisfy the qualifying conditions for the allowance. A letter issued on the 23rd October 2019 setting out the decision of the deciding officer to refuse the allowance.

In the case of an application which is refused, the applicant may submit additional information and ask to have the decision reviewed, and/or they may appeal the decision directly to the Social Welfare Appeals Office.  The options available have been advised in the decision letter.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.  

Social Welfare Payments Administration

Ceisteanna (260)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

260. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when a further basic payment or exceptional needs payment will be made in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [49658/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

The person concerned received an Exceptional Needs Payment of €250 on 18/11/2019 in order to meet a need to provide home heating.

The Community Welfare Officer met with the person concerned in relation to her situation and the person concerned outlined that she has made efforts to formalise a maintenance payment and protection order. 

According to the records of my Department no further application for an Exceptional Needs Payment (ENP) has been received from the person concerned.  An application form issued to the person concerned on 26/11/2019.

I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Exceptional Needs Payment Eligibility

Ceisteanna (261)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

261. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if exceptional need payments will be made in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [49659/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

Under the supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) scheme my Department may make a single exceptional needs payment (ENP) to help meet essential, once-off expenditure which a person could not reasonably be expected to meet out of their weekly income.  An urgent needs payment (UNP) may be made to a person who may not normally qualify for SWA but who has an urgent need that cannot be met from their own resources . 

The person concerned does not appear to have made an application for an ENP or UNP, but the local Intreo Centre has posted an application form today and requested the person to contact the office.

I trust this clarifies the matter.