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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 160 - 179
 Header Item Mental Health Services Provision
 Header Item Long-Term Illness Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Vaccination Programme
 Header Item Medical Card Eligibility
 Header Item Patient Safety Agency
 Header Item Primary Care Centres Provision
 Header Item Home Help Service Provision
 Header Item Public Procurement Tenders
 Header Item National Roads Authority Projects
 Header Item EU Funding
 Header Item EU Funding
 Header Item Sports Capital Programme Applications
 Header Item Sports Capital Programme Applications
 Header Item Driving Licence Issues
 Header Item Air Services Provision
 Header Item Railway Stations Upgrade
 Header Item Taxi Regulations

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 785 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 80 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 160 - 179

Mental Health Services Provision

 160. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the number of vacancies in the community mental health teams at present; and the locations and grades where each vacancy occurs. [54946/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch Arising from the special allocation of €35m which was provided for Mental Health in Budget 2012, 414 posts have been approved to strengthen both Adult and Children's mental health services. To date 17 posts have been filled and over 270 offers of employment have already been accepted and appointments are proceeding. Most start dates are expected to commence this month. As the staffing of individual Community Mental Health Teams is a service matter, the question has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.

Long-Term Illness Scheme Eligibility

 161. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will include non CF bronchiectasis on the long term illness scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54974/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White There are no plans to extend the list of conditions covered by the Long Term Illness Scheme. Under the Drug Payment Scheme, no individual or family pays more than €132 per calendar month towards the cost of approved prescribed medicines. The scheme significantly reduces the cost burden for families and individuals incurring ongoing expenditure on medicines. In addition, people who cannot, without undue hardship, arrange for the provision of medical services for themselves and their dependants may be entitled to a medical card. In the assessment process, the Health Service Executive can take into account medical costs incurred by an individual or a family. Those who are not eligible for a medical card may still be able to avail of a GP visit card, which covers the cost of general practice consultation.

Vaccination Programme

 162. Deputy Seán Kenny Information on Seán Kenny Zoom on Seán Kenny asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly when he will bring a proposal to Dáil Éireann setting out a package of supports for those who developed narcolepsy as a result of vaccination with Pandemrix; and the date on which he will re-establish contact with Sufferers of Unique Narcolepsy Disorder [54985/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly I am committed to bringing a Memorandum to Government setting out the full response to the issue. My Department is considering all possible supports which may need to be put in place for those affected. Any such supports require my approval and the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. A further meeting with representatives from SOUND will be arranged when the matter has been concluded. The Health Service Executive continues to provide a range of supports and services to those affected by narcolepsy following pandemic vaccination. The Department of Education and Skills also provides appropriate educational supports at all levels of education.

Medical Card Eligibility

 163. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the income guidelines that will apply to medical card applicants in 2013 [55012/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White The HSE has produced national assessment guidelines to provide a clear framework to assist in the making of reasonable, consistent and equitable decisions when assessing an applicant for the General Medical Services scheme. These guidelines are publicly available and can be downloaded from the HSE's medical card website. Legislation will now be prepared to give effect to the changes in the income guidelines for the over 70s which have been announced in Budget 2013.

Patient Safety Agency

 164. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the position regarding the Programme for Government commitment to establish a Patient Safety Authority incorporating the Health Information Quality Authority; if he will outline the basis on which the Patient Safety Agency will be established; its role, function and authority; the difference between it and the Patient Safety Authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55014/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly In considering the options and possible organisational structures of the Patient Safety Agency (PSA) my Department has taken account of the international experience and the existing and emerging structures and organisations in the Irish system. A key issue highlighted by the international experience is that regulation and the broader quality improvement and patient safety agenda may not be best suited together within one agency and that regulation should maintain its independence and remain separate. I am persuaded by this aspect of the international experience and, therefore, our planning is on the basis that the Health formation and Quality Authority would maintain its role of health and social care regulator.

The role and inter-relationship of the PSA with the reforming health system needs to be carefully designed and developed. My Department is liaising with the Health Service Executive on the details surrounding the establishment of the PSA to ensure an identifiable and distinct leadership responsibility for patient safety and quality at national level having regard to the need for a robust quality and safety function within the new delivery structures of the Reform Programme. The functions eventually allocated to the PSA may include patient advocacy, development of leadership capacity in healthcare, development and delivery of patient safety training and education programmes and compilation and dissemination of learning from adverse events in the healthcare system. Our intention is to establish a Patient Safety Agency on an administrative basis in 2013. The optimum statutory framework for the PSA will be identified and developed in the light of experience over time.

Primary Care Centres Provision

 165. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the position regarding the development of the primary care centre in Longford town; if his attention has been drawn to any planning difficulties associated with sewage facilities, or any other facilities, some of which have been highlighted by residents of an estate (details supplied); if the site is fully compliant with all necessary building regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [55015/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly The new primary care centre for Longford Town is located at Ballyminion, Farranyoogan, Co Longford and is separate to the Glen Riada development. The primary care centre has been completed in accordance with the building regulations and the standards set out by the Local Authority by way of planning conditions. The centre has been fitted out in accordance with the with HSE specifications. As this primary care centre is delivered by means of the operational lease initiative, the landlord is responsible for maintaining the facility.

Home Help Service Provision

 166. Deputy Joanna Tuffy Information on Joanna Tuffy Zoom on Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the position regarding home help hours and the provision currently being made for those in need; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55025/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch The provision in relation to HSE community based supports for older people, including Home Care, was agreed under the HSE Service Plan 2012. The measures recently adopted by the Executive to address overall funding pressures intended that there would be a reduction of approximately €8 million expenditure on Home Help hours to the end of December (about 400,000 hours), and a reduction of some €1.2 million on Home Care Packages. However, in terms of implementation at local level, the HSE has made every effort to ensure that the impact of these reductions in care terms will be minimised for the most vulnerable individual recipients. Such decisions continue to be based on a review of individual need. As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy in the light of the most up-to-date position.

Public Procurement Tenders

 167. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the extent to which Irish providers can supply goods and services to the Health Service Executive in respect of special footwear, clothing or other appliances which are sometimes provided by brokers in such a way as to disadvantage opportunities for the indigenous supplier by the provision of assorted packages, the combination of which may be lower priced and within which individual items are more costly than those available to indigenous suppliers; if in terms of procurement in the future, provision can be made whereby the use of loss leaders is prevented in procurement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55042/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch In the Health Service Executive (HSE), the overall strategic goals of procurement is to maximise the effectiveness of procurement in providing support for effective and efficient patient care. The HSE's procurement policy clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of all practitioners involved in the procurement process. It is based on best practice and is designed to ensure a common approach for all HSE staff in the procurement of supplies, works and services. It also ensures a strong focus on the role of procurement in keeping with the code of practice for governance of state bodies. As the Deputy's question relates to service matters I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.

National Roads Authority Projects

 168. Deputy Barry Cowen Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the total funding to the National Roads Authority in 2012; the year on year reduction in funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54860/12]

 169. Deputy Barry Cowen Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the discussions he has held with the National Roads Authority on their road repair programme; the funding for the programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54861/12]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I propose to take Questions Nos. 168 and 169 together.

As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme.  The planning, design and implementation of individual road projects is a matter for the National Roads Authority (NRA) under the Roads Acts 1993 to 2007 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned. Within its allocated budget, the assessment and prioritisation of individual projects, including road maintenance, is a matter in the first instance for the NRA in accordance with Sections 17 & 19 of the Roads Act. My Department's funding allocation to the NRA for 2012 is €734.6 million, including €605 million for capital projects (€674m in 2011) and €42.26 million (€48.9min 2011) for maintenance of national roads.  The balance relates to contract payments to PPP companies and the cost of running the Authority.

In line with the Infrastructure and Capital Investment Framework 2012-2016 and the outcome of the comprehensive current spending review last year, the NRA's capital budget in 2013 will be €278m while the road maintenance budget next year will be €41.6m. I meet with the CEO and the Chairman of the NRA on a regular basis, while my Department has ongoing contacts with the NRA at all levels. The scale of the reductions in the allocations to the NRA obviously will present challenges over the course of 2013. Therefore, the key priority is the protection of the existing investment in road infrastructure as against major new expenditure on road design or building. This is a view shared by both myself and the NRA.

EU Funding

 170. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the extent of EU financial aid that has been received for major or minor rail or bus services or installations in each of the past three years to date. [54943/12]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar My Department acts as an Intermediate Body for the BMW Regional Authority Operational Programme (2007 – 2013). One railway infrastructure project, the Elimination of Speed Restrictions at Portarlington, was approved for funding under the Programme in 2010. Total expenditure amounted to approximately €14.2m and the aid rate of 50% facilitated the drawdown of €7.1m in EU Funding.

The DART Underground project was identified as an eligible project under the Trans European Network-Transport (TEN-T) programme in 2008. TEN-T funding of €10m was approved towards geotechnical investigations and various surveys and studies during the initial design and planning stages. A final claim for this Project was recently submitted to the Trans-European Networks Agency. Once approved by the TEN-T Agency, the final claim will release drawdown of the full allocation of approximately €10m from the TEN-T Budget.

EU Funding

 171. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the extent of EU funding received for the provision of road, air and sea port transport facilities or installations in each of the past three years to date. [54944/12]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar My Department has not received any direct EU funding for the provision of road, air and sea port transport facilities or installations in each of the past three years to date. However, under the 2007 – 2013 Border Midlands and Western Regional Authority Operational Programme of the European Regional Development Fund, two road projects qualified for funding.  These are the M6 Athlone-Ballinasloe motorway and N52 Tullamore Bypass.  As the funding for these projects was channelled through the National Roads Authority, I have referred your question to the Authority for direct response.  If you do not hear from them within 10 days please contact my private office. EU funding for national road development may also have been provided during this period under EU programmes in respect of which other bodies in Ireland have the lead management role under EU Regulations. These programmes include the Cohesion Fund, the Interreg Programme and the Peace Programme.

Sports Capital Programme Applications

 172. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will outline the names of the sports clubs and organisations in County Mayo which applied for the 2012 sports capital fund; the number of these organisations whose applications were deemed ineligible; the reasons these organisations applications were deemed ineligible; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [54963/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Michael Ring): Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring The names of the sports clubs and organisations in County Mayo who applied under the 2012 Sports Capital Programme are published on my Department's website www.dttas.ie. A total of 106 local applications were received for County Mayo of which 59 were deemed invalid. My Department will be writing to all applicants in the coming weeks and the reasons why applications were deemed invalid will be outlined to the relevant applicants.

  Some of the reasons why local applications from Mayo were deemed invalid include:

 - Insufficient own funding or no evidence of own funding

 - Work on project already commenced

 - No evidence of freehold/leasehold/letter from landlord

 - No quotations/estimates submitted

 - No evidence of planning permission or application for same or letter from technical supervisor stating that planning permission is not needed.

Sports Capital Programme Applications

 173. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the reason the respective unsuccessful applicants in County Kerry were not granted sports capital funding in the latest round of announcements; if he will provide a response in respect of each individual unsuccessful application, detailing the reason the application and unsuccessful, providing the cause of invalidation where relevant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54964/12]

 174. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the reasons just 10% of the allocation of sports capital funding in County Kerry went to applicants in the Kerry South Dáil constituency; if he will provide an explanation of the criteria used to arrive at a decision in respect of the applications from County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [54965/12]

 175. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the total number of applications for sports capital funding 2012 in the Kerry South Dáil constituency; the total amount applied for; the number of successful applicants; the total amount granted to south Kerry clubs; his views on whether this outcome is fair; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [54966/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Michael Ring): Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring I propose to take Questions Nos. 173 to 175, inclusive, together.

  My Department does not collate information on a Dáil constituency basis.  However, I can confirm that 95 applications were received under the 2012 Sports Capital Programme from sports clubs and organisations in County Kerry seeking €8.9m in funding.  A full list of all applications received is available my Department's website www.dttas.ie.  19 applications from County Kerry were successful and were allocated funding totalling €742,057.  Two of the applications from County Kerry were for regional projects and I intend to annouce allocations to national and regional projects before the end of the year.

  In relation to the criteria used to assess applications, I would refer the Deputy to my reply to question number 53816 of 4/12/12 tabled by Deputy Aengus Ó'Snodaigh. My Department will be writing to all applicants in the coming weeks and the reasons why applications were deemed invalid will be outlined to the relevant applicants. Some of the reasons why local applications from Kerry were deemed invalid include:

 - Insufficient own funding or no evidence of own funding

 - Work on project already commenced

 - No evidence of freehold/leasehold/letter from landlord

 - No quotations/estimates submitted

 - No evidence of planning permission or application for same or letter from technical supervisor stating that planning permission is not needed

Driving Licence Issues

 176. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding the proposed new driving licences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54997/12]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar EU Directive 2006/126EC requires all Member States to introduce a plastic card driving licence with effect from 19th January 2013. The introduction of the new form of licence presented an opportunity to examine the system by which the current driver licence service was being operated. Following a detailed study and careful consideration of the issues involved, the Government supported my proposal to centralise the service under the Road Safety Authority (RSA).

The benefits of centralisation are significant in themselves, and a centralised system will be more adaptable to any changes to the licence which may be required in the future.  It offers a more efficient and cost-effective way of delivering driver licensing services to the public, with the added advantages of more robust identity management and security capabilities, standardised and streamlined process improvements, and improved customer service through a single point of contact for drivers. The RSA will become the driver licensing authority for the country from 12th January 2013. However, for a period in 2013, while the new system is being developed, local authorities will continue to provide driver licence services and applications for licences will be accepted.

Air Services Provision

 177. Deputy Joanna Tuffy Information on Joanna Tuffy Zoom on Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will provide an update on flight paths for Weston Aerodrome in Lucan; the steps being taken to protect residential amenity and ensure public safety (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55018/12]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) has responsibility for the licensing of aerodromes in Ireland including the approval of flight paths, so I have referred the question to them for direct reply. I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a reply has not been received within 10 working days.

Railway Stations Upgrade

 178. Deputy Joanna Tuffy Information on Joanna Tuffy Zoom on Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the position regarding the opening of Kishogue train station in Lucan, County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55019/12]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport.  Following the establishment of the National Transport Authority (NTA) on December 2009, the implementation and development of infrastructure projects in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA), such as Kishogue train station, comes under the remit of the NTA.  The legislative basis for this is Section 11(1)(e) of the DTA Act 2008 "Principal Functions of Authority - The principal functions of the Authority are to secure the provision of public transport infrastructure". Noting this I have referred the Deputy's question to the NTA for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

Taxi Regulations

 179. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the process and procedure to be followed to transfer a taxi licence in respect of persons (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55054/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly The regulation of the small public service vehicle (SPSV) industry, including the process for transfer of taxi licences, is a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA) under the Taxi Regulation Act, 2003. I have referred your question to the NTA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within 10 working days.


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