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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 426-447
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Expenditure
 Header Item School Transport Eligibility
 Header Item School Catchment Areas
 Header Item Junior Cycle Reform
 Header Item Departmental Funding
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Site Acquisitions
 Header Item School Patronage
 Header Item Site Acquisitions
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Staff
 Header Item Schools Building Projects
 Header Item Ministerial Meetings
 Header Item School Accommodation
 Header Item Site Acquisitions
 Header Item EU Data
 Header Item European Council Meetings
 Header Item Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission Reports
 Header Item Referendum Campaigns
 Header Item Garda Operations
 Header Item Adoption Legislation

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 970 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 120 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 426-447

Student Grant Scheme Expenditure

 426. Deputy Kathleen Funchion Information on Kathleen Funchion Zoom on Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the estimated cost of assessing all students aged 18 to 23 years of age, that is, not exclusively those estranged from their parents, as independent for the purpose of the SUSI grant system provided they meet all other eligibility criteria. [25455/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Treating every student as independent would in almost all cases, remove the targeting of funding at those most in need of support and result in every full-time student meeting the means test criteria.

  It is difficult to accurately cost this proposal as it would require information not currently available, on all full-time students up to the age of 23. However, it is possible to make a general estimate of the cost of this proposal as follows:

  In 2016/17, SUSI awarded grants to circa 79,000 students. The annual cost of the scheme in 2017 was €371m. This equates to an average grant of €4,700.

  In 2016/17, the number of full-time students was 212,579, made up of 31,969 PLC students, 157,518 undergraduate students and 23,092 postgraduate students. 79,000 of these students receive a grant with 133,579 not qualifying for support.

  Assuming that all additional 133,579 full-time students will qualify for an average grant of €4,700, then the cost would be in excess of €625m.

  The above estimate assumes that every student is aged between 18 and 23 years. It also assumes that every student will meet all other SUSI qualifying criteria such as nationality, residency and prior academic attainment.

School Transport Eligibility

 427. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if the decision to refuse school transport in the case of a person (details supplied) will be reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25465/18]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy John Halligan): Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.

  Currently over 116,000 children, including over 12,000 children with special educational needs, are being transported in over 4,500 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres annually at a total cost of almost €190 million in 2017.

  Under the terms of my Department’s School Transport Scheme for Children with Special Educational Needs, children are eligible for transport where they:

  - have special educational needs arising from a diagnosed disability in accordance with the designation of high and low incidence disability set out in Department of Education and Skill’s (DES) Circular 02/05

and

  - are attending the nearest recognised: mainstream school, special class/special school or a unit, that is or can be resourced, to meet their special educational needs

  Eligibility is determined following consultation with the National Council for Special Education through its network of Special Education Needs Organisers.

  The child in question does not satisfy the above criteria and is therefore not eligible for school transport under the terms of the above scheme.

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

School Catchment Areas

 428. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if the catchment area for the new Harold's Cross secondary school will be extended to include the Dublin 8 and 12 areas in which there are two MDS primary schools; the rationale for not including these areas, which are in the immediate environment of the school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25543/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton As the Deputy will be aware, in November 2016, I announced the patronage of a new 1,000 pupil post-primary school to be established in 2018 to serve the Dublin South City Centre area. This new school, which will be a co-educational, multi-denominational school under the patronage of Educate Together, will serve the Dublin 8 school planning area, along with the Dublin 2-Dublin 4 and Dublin 6 Clonskeagh school planning areas as a regional solution.

  More recently, in April 2018, I announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022), including new post-primary schools for areas adjacent to Dublin 8 and Dublin 12 as follows:

  - new 1,000 pupil post-primary school to be established in 2020 as a regional solution to serve the Dublin 6 Clonskeagh and Dublin 6W school planning areas.

  - new 600 pupil post-primary school to be established in 2021 to serve the Dublin 2-Dublin 4 school planning area.

  A patronage process, which will be open to all patron bodies, will be run by my Department to decide who will operate these schools.

  These new schools will further reduce pressure on schools in the adjacent school planning areas, including the Dublin 8 and 12 areas.

Junior Cycle Reform

 429. Deputy Jackie Cahill Information on Jackie Cahill Zoom on Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the reason his Department halved the junior cycle management resource hours available to schools for the 2018/2019 school year (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25544/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The allocation of junior cycle management resource hours to schools is currently under consideration.

Departmental Funding

 430. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his Department's capital allocation in each of the years 2019 to 2023; and the areas to which funds will be allocated in each of those years. [25569/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton My Department’s capital allocation for the years 2019 to 2022 is as follows:

  2019 - €941m

  2020 - €942m

  2021 - €1,006m

  2022 - €1,100m

  The capital funding available to my Department for the years 2019 to 2021 has been allocated across the various sectors as set out as follows.

  The National Development Plan signalled a capital allocation of €1.1 billion for the Department of Education and Skills in 2022. However, this total has not yet been allocated across individual capital subheads. The capital allocation for 2023 has yet to be confirmed.

  CAPITAL ALLOCATION 2019 - 2021

SECTOR 2019 2020 2021
  (€m) (€m) (€m)
Schools  622 592 617
Schools ICT Programme 50 50 49
Higher Education  90 109 138
Research 47.6 47.6 47.6
PPPs 112 119 120
Further Education 13 18 28
Other Programmes 6.4 6.4 6.4
TOTAL 941 942 1006

Schools Building Projects Status

 431. Deputy John Lahart Information on John Lahart Zoom on John Lahart asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the status of schools projects that were to be delivered by way of PPP with a company (details supplied). [25585/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The PPP project referred to by the Deputy encompasses five school buildings and one further education college across four sites in Bray, Wexford, Carlow and Kells. This programme has been impacted by the liquidation of the company referred to by the Deputy. A tender process to identify a replacement contractor or contractors for the completion of the buildings in question and for facilities management services for the programme is at an advanced stage.

These tender arrangements are currently being worked through by the Dutch Infrastructure Fund (DIF), which represents the PPP company, and the Project Funders, in close consultation with the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA) and the Department of Education and Skills. The Project Funders anticipate that the pathway forward to completion of the schools will become clearer within the next week or so. The school authorities are being advised of developments on a regular basis.

It is still the case that the schools which are closest to completion remain best positioned to be finished for September and all efforts are being made to achieve this. The Department is also working with the school authorities on any necessary contingency arrangements for September..

Schools Building Projects Status

 432. Deputy John Lahart Information on John Lahart Zoom on John Lahart asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the status of the provision of new school buildings for schools (details supplied). [25587/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The school building project referred to by the Deputy is progressing through Tender Stage. The tender documents issued on the 31st May 2018 with a tender return date of the 19th July 2018. It is anticipated that the project will proceed to construction in Quarter 4 of 2018. .

Site Acquisitions

 433. Deputy John Lahart Information on John Lahart Zoom on John Lahart asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the status of the transfer of land from South Dublin County Council to his Department; and the progress that has been made in relation to progressing the school project. [25588/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton With regard to the land transfer from South Dublin County Council to my Department, it is expected that contracts will be exchanged shortly.

  In the meantime the project is being progressed and the architectural planning process is underway.

School Patronage

 434. Deputy Peadar Tóibín Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton when the new system for the awarding of a patronage to schools will be finalised in view of findings that the Education Act 1998 had been contravened by his Department in the process of appointing a patron to a new primary school in the Drumcondra, Marino and Dublin 1 areas; if he has examined the demand for multidenominational education through the medium of Irish in this area; and if the statutory language obligations will be adhered to in the process by which patronage is awarded with regard to the 42 schools due to be established in the next four years. [25594/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Following completion of the relevant patronage process, Educate Together was awarded patronage of the new school established to serve Drumcondra/Marino/Dublin 1 in 2016 – Gracepark ETNS opened in September 2016 and its patronage remains with Educate Together. In its April 2016 report to the Minister on the patronage process which included this new primary school, the New Schools Establishment Group (NSEG) noted the strong level of demand for Irish-medium education in the Drumcondra/Marino/Dublin 1 area and recommended that this would be kept under review in the context of future demographic exercises. In this regard, following completion of nationwide demographic exercises, on 12 April 2018, the Minister announced the establishment of 42 new schools from 2019 -2022, including a new primary school to be established in September 2019 to serve the Drumcondra/Marino/Dublin 1 school planning area. In the context of the NSEG report, and given the strong level of parental demand for a Gaelscoil in the area evidenced as part of the 2016 patronage process, it would be recommended that this would be established as a Gaelscoil under the patronage of An Foras Pátrúnachta.

Regarding the Deputy’s query on the patronage process generally, a patronage process is run after it has been decided, based on demographic analysis, that a new school is required. This patronage process is open to all patron bodies and prospective patrons. Parental preferences for each patron and language of instruction, from parents of children who reside in the school planning areas concerned, together with the extent of diversity currently available in these areas, are key to decisions in relation to the outcome of this process. In this regard, the development of a new Online Patronage Process System (OPPS) is currently being finalised by my Department to provide objective information to such parents which will allow them to make an informed choice about their preferred model of patronage and language of instruction for their child’s education. Parental preferences were previously collected based on direct engagement with patron bodies.

My Department will subsequently compile a patronage report for the consideration of the New Schools Establishment Group (NSEG), an external independent advisory group which oversees the patronage process, and the NSEG will submit a report with recommendations for my consideration..

Site Acquisitions

 435. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the status of plans to secure a permanent site for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25603/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Deputy will be aware that a building project for the school in question is included in my Department's 6 Year Construction Programme.

  In this regard, my Department is currently engaging with Kildare Wicklow Education Training Board in the context of progressing a building project for the school and will keep the school patron informed of progress.

Special Educational Needs Staff

 436. Deputy John Lahart Information on John Lahart Zoom on John Lahart asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the reasons a school (details supplied) is having its special needs assistant withdrawn, leaving the school with none despite the fact there are three students with special needs starting the school in September 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25618/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible for allocating a quantum of Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support for each school annually taking into account the assessed care needs of children qualifying for SNA support enrolled in the school.

The NCSE allocates SNA support to schools in accordance with the criteria set out in Department Circular 0030/2014, which is available on the Department's website at www.education.ie, in order that students who have care needs can access SNA support as and when it is needed.

In considering applications for SNA supports for individual pupils, the NCSE take account of the pupils' needs and consider the resources available to the school to identify whether additionality is needed or whether the school might reasonably be expected to meet the needs of the pupils from its current level of resources.

SNAs are not allocated to individual children but to schools as a school based resource.

SNA allocations to all schools can change from year to year as children with care needs leave the school, as new children with care needs enrol in a school and as children develop more independent living skills and their care needs diminish over time.

My Department’s policy is to ensure that every child who is assessed as needing SNA support will receive access to such support. In line with this policy, I announced last month that 800 additional SNAs will be allocated for the beginning of the next school year, with a further 140 expected to be allocated by the end of the year.

By the end of this year, there will be a total of 15,000 Special Needs Assistants working in our schools, a 42% increase on 2011.

The NCSE Appeals Process may be invoked by a parent or a school where it is considered that a child was not granted access to SNA support on the grounds that Department policy was not met in accordance with Circular 0030/2014.

Schools may also appeal a decision, where the school considers that the NCSE, in applying Department policy, has not allocated the appropriate level of SNA support to the school to meet the special educational and/or care needs of the children concerned.

Where a school has received its allocation of SNA support for 2018/19, but wishes new enrolments or assessments to be considered, which were not taken into account when the initial allocation was made, they may continue to make applications to the NCSE. The closing date for receipt of any appeals in regard to SNA allocations is Friday, 28th September 2018.

As this question relates to a particular school I have referred the question to the NCSE for their direct reply. .

Schools Building Projects

 437. Deputy Mick Barry Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if officials from his Department will agree to meet the board of management of a school (details supplied) to discuss its request for a new school building. [25620/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I can confirm that my Department is in receipt of a major capital application from the school to which the Deputy refers for the development of a new school building.

However, a project for the school has not been included in my Department's 6 year Capital Programme and it is, therefore, not possible to provide an indicative timeframe for the delivery of a major project for the school at this time.

The school has recently submitted an application to my Department for refurbishment works to provide a mainstream classroom to facilitate the appointment of an additional teaching post. This application is currently being considered by my Department and the school authorities will be advised of the position when the assessment process has concluded. Any meeting request should be sent to diary@education.gov.ie and all such requests are considered..

Ministerial Meetings

 438. Deputy Seán Haughey Information on Seán Haughey Zoom on Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his plans to have a bilateral meeting with his US counterpart, Ms. Betsy DeVos; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25666/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I have no plans to meet with Ms DeVos at this time.

The USA is a key international education market for Ireland's higher education institutions with close to 12,000 students coming to study here under the US Study Abroad programme every year. These connections are providing significant opportunities for our HEIs to build longer term partnerships and collaborations with US institutions.

My Department officials and Education Ireland engage on an ongoing basis with the US market and, on foot of this, the Secretary General recently attended an international education event in Philadelphia where he met the Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, Marie Royce, and her adviser. He also met with the Deputy Secretary of Post-Secondary and Higher Education of Pennsylvania during this visit.

Under our International Education Strategy, we will continue to build relations and partnerships with the American education system and its people..

School Accommodation

 439. Deputy Eamon Scanlon Information on Eamon Scanlon Zoom on Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the status of an additional school accommodation application by a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25681/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I can confirm to the Deputy that my Department received an application, within the last week, from the school referred to for additional accommodation. The application is currently under consideration and my Department will be in direct contact with the school authorities when the assessment process has concluded..

  Question No. 440 answered with Question No. 285.

Site Acquisitions

 441. Deputy Joan Burton Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if a site for a new school (details supplied) in Dún Laoghaire will be urgently progressed; the status of progress to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25719/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton In relation to the school referred to by the Deputy, a potential school site has been identified and my Department is engaging with the relevant stakeholders with a view to progressing matters.

Due to sensitivities relating to site acquisitions generally I am not in a position to provide further details at this time but I can assure the Deputy that the school patron will be informed of the proposed location for the school as soon as it is possible to do so..

EU Data

 442. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the EU fines paid in each of the years 2015 to 2017, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25731/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton My Department has not paid or been subject to any EU fines in the years referred to by the Deputy.

European Council Meetings

 443. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan if immigration will be discussed at the June 2018 European Council meeting in view of events that have occurred in Hungary and Germany. [24563/18]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan The next European Council will take place on 28 and 29 June 2018. Migration is on the agenda and the meeting will likely take stock of progress on foot of the Conclusions of the 19 October 2017 European Council where the twenty-eight heads of state agreed that the EU’s “comprehensive, pragmatic and resolute” migration strategy, which aims to restore control of external borders and to reduce arrivals and the number of deaths at sea, was bringing results and should be consolidated.

Measures to be taken included maintaining vigilance on all migratory routes and readiness to react to any new trends or developments, support for EU Member States directly affected or involved, strengthened cooperation with international partners, as well as countries of origin, transit and destination, adequate financing and an increase in effective returns, to reduce the incentives of irregular migration.

Further actions called for by the October 2017 European Council Conclusions include:

- Full cooperation with Turkey on migration, and the full implementation of the EU - Turkey Statement

- Enhanced returns and the further strengthening of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency

- Applying voluntary resettlement schemes

- Creating and applying the necessary leverage to achieve measurable results in terms of preventing illegal migration and returning irregular migrants.

The upcoming June European Council is expected to discuss the ongoing negotiations to reform the Common European Asylum System (CEAS). The October 2017 Conclusions specifically referenced the CEAS, stating that the European Council would seek to reach a consensus during the first half of 2018 and calling for further convergence towards an agreement which strikes the right balance between responsibility and solidarity and ensures resilience to future crises. At present I am not aware of plans to discuss the migration situation in either Germany or Hungary..

Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission Reports

 444. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan if he has met a family (details supplied) following the publishing of the GSOC report in regard to the way in which complaints were handled following the death of the family's son. [24669/18]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan As the Deputy is aware, the report published by Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) following the conclusion of their criminal investigations resulting from complaints lodged by the family in question, and referrals made by then Minister Alan Shatter, advised that they found no evidence of criminal behaviour by Garda members in relation to these incidents.

The Commission, however, have identified a select number of complaints which they believe warrant further investigation from a disciplinary perspective. Therefore, as the matter is still presently under active investigation it remains the position that any comments or interference by me, as Minister, would be wholly inappropriate.

However, I will state that I am satisfied that GSOC have taken ample care and consideration with regards to their investigations, dedicating immense time and resources to ensure that each complaint received is assessed in detail and to the highest investigative standards. Furthermore, GSOC’s independence must be respected and the Commission must be allowed to complete their important work, unimpeded. To do otherwise, would be to severely limit the operational capabilities of this essential organisation.

As I have stated previously, when the GSOC have completed all investigations relating to this tragic case the question as to whether there remain issues that require further investigation will be fully considered. It will then fall to be decided what further action, if any, should be taken.

My predecessor and the former Taoiseach have met with the family and gave a commitment, which I have repeated, that when all investigations are completed I will consider what further investigation is warranted. In that context, I believe that a meeting with the O'Farrell family at that stage, to hear from them at first hand their views on the outstanding issues, would be helpful..

Referendum Campaigns

 445. Deputy Catherine Martin Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan if there have been changes to the indicative timetable for the holding of referendums (details supplied) agreed on 26 September 2017. [24787/18]

 458. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan his plans to hold a referendum on Article 41.2 of the Constitution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24387/18]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I propose to take Questions Nos. 445 and 458 together.

In September 2017, the Government decided on an indicative timetable for a number of constitutional referendums, including on Article 40.6.1 (blasphemy) and Article 41.2 (a woman's life within the home) to be held in October 2018, and on Article 41.3.2 (divorce) to be held in June 2019. I can confirm that these dates remain unchanged.

The Government has this morning approved the approach to be taken on Article 40.6.1 and I hope that a decision can be taken over the next weeks on Article 41.2. It is envisaged that the relevant amendment Bills will be initiated in this House before the start of the summer recess. This will ensure that referendum commissions can be established in a timely manner and that the commissions will have adequate time within which to begin their preparatory work..

Garda Operations

 446. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan when it is planned to establish the Garda insurance fraud unit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24933/18]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan Recommendation 26 of the ‘Report on the Cost of Motor Insurance’, published in January 2017, relates to exploring the potential for further cooperation between the insurance sector and An Garda Síochána in relation to insurance fraud investigation. Specifically, this involves considering the feasibility of establishing a specialised and dedicated insurance fraud unit within An Garda Síochána, funded by industry.

The Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) has engaged with Insurance Ireland, submitting a mechanism for further cooperation and a costed proposal to Insurance Ireland in the latter half of 2017. Insurance Ireland has agreed to explore the proposal further, subject to a full cost benefit analysis, to be carried out by Insurance Ireland’s Chief Financial Officers Working Group. The intention would be that such a dedicated Garda unit would be funded by Insurance Ireland members and non-members alike, i.e. all entities writing non-life insurance business in Ireland.

Further progress on this recommendation is dependent upon the outcome of this cost benefit analysis, which is currently awaited. As I have previously informed the House, Insurance Ireland has indicated that it expects to be in a position to provide an update in this regard by the end of June 2018.

Any proposed agreed mechanism will, of course, ultimately be subject to the approval of the Garda Commissioner and myself, as Minister for Justice and Equality..

Adoption Legislation

 447. Deputy Ruth Coppinger Information on Ruth Coppinger Zoom on Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan if adoptive leave will be provided for same-sex couples in view of the fact that circular 18/2013 does not cater for the needs of these couples (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25063/18]

Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): Information on David Stanton Zoom on David Stanton Section 6 of the Adoptive Leave Act 1995 provides for an entitlement to 24 weeks adoptive leave for an employed adopting mother or a sole male adopter.

Following adoption of the 34th amendment to the Constitution and its subsequent legislative changes, my Department identified a lacuna in the Adoptive Leave Act 1995 that prevents male same-sex married couples from availing of adoptive leave and benefits.

To address this lacuna, my Department has prepared draft legislative proposals that will amend the Adoptive Leave Act and will afford the same entitlements to adoptive leave and benefits to all couples who are married, co-habiting or who are in a civil partnership, irrespective of gender.

My Department is currently reviewing how best to advance these legislative proposals and may include these proposals with those planned on paid parental leave as part of a Family Leave Bill.

The Deputy will appreciate that the circular she has referred to is a matter for the Department of Education and Skills, and once the Adoptive Leave Act is amended as I have outlined, I am sure the Department will make the necessary arrangements to update the circular as a matter of priority..


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