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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 266-269
 Header Item Child Protection
 Header Item Insurance Data
 Header Item Defence Forces Allowances
 Header Item White Paper on Defence

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 953 No. 2

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Written Answers Nos. 266-269

Child Protection

 266. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Information on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone her views on the latest report by the special rapporteur on child protection published on 29 May 2017; the steps being taken by her Department to ensure all deficits in services, particularly Tusla's out-of-hours social work service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26493/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The recent report by Dr. Geoffrey Shannon, entitled "Audit of the exercise by An Garda Síochána of the provisions of Section 12 of the Child Care Act 1991", examined records held by An Garda Síochána and completed questionnaires and interviews with members of An Garda Síochána. It is a valuable report and raises a number of issues that are of concern to us all.

Dr. Shannon's report refers to a number of case studies based in Garda records. I have asked Tusla to obtain the information on these cases and review them against their records so that we may have a fuller picture of events. I understand that a report based on these cases is expected to be available for my information in the coming weeks.

A protocol between An Garda Síochána and Tusla-Child and Family Agency is near completion and, shortly, a Tusla social worker will be co-located with the national child protection unit of An Garda Síochána. Liaison will be in place between Tusla and newly established Garda divisional child protection units. I understand that An Garda Síochána and Tusla already have excellent co-operation at senior management levels.

In November 2015, Tusla launched a consolidated national out of hours service, to improve on previous arrangements. I understand this was after the period reviewed by Dr. Shannon. All Gardaí who contact Tusla under this arrangement will speak with a social worker in a dedicated unit in Tusla's national office. This office may provide advice or in the busiest areas make arrangements to deliver a child to Tusla following the invocation of section 12 of the Child Care Act 1991. Gardaí also have limited access, for data protection reasons, to the Child Protection Notification System to identify if a child is subject to a child protection plan. There are social workers available to be on the ground in Dublin, Kildare, Wicklow and Cork city, where demand is greatest, and an on-call social worker service across the areas where an out of hours request is not as frequent. Tusla has indicated that it is monitoring these arrangements and will report to me when they complete their review.

It is important to note that the powers under section 12 of the Act can only be invoked by An Garda Síochána under certain circumstances and Gardaí must then take steps to deliver a child to Tusla once the child has been removed. Tusla is then obliged under the Act to either reunite the child with a responsible caregiver or to seek an emergency care order in the Courts.

Insurance Data

 267. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the expenses incurred by his Department relating to insurance of all types in each of the past five years; the cost of each insurance policy held by his Department over the same time period per annum; if he will provide the same data for all bodies under the aegis of his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26283/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe Apart from Civil Defence, all other elements of the Defence Organisation are covered under State indemnity through the State Claims Agency and therefore do not require commercial insurance. Civil Defence is unique in that it operates as a partnership between the Department of Defence and local authorities. Local Authorities are not covered under the State indemnity arrangements with the State Claims Agency. Therefore, the Department of Defence has insurance policies in place to provide cover for Civil Defence.

  The payments made for insurance for Civil Defence since 2012 are outlined in the table. The insurance runs from 1 July to 30 June each year and covers Motor, Public Liability, Employers Liability, Marine Hull, Property Damage and Travel. Employment Practices Liability, Directors and Officers Liability and Computer policies were discontinued following the dissolution of the Civil Defence Board at the end of 2012.







Defence Forces Allowances

 268. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the position regarding the appropriateness of claims for disability pension by Defence Forces veterans on the grounds of neurological damage caused by Mefloquine being medically assessed by an ophthalmologist and a general practitioner rather than an expert in the relevant field; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26310/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The Army Pensions Board is an independent statutory body established under the Army Pensions Acts 1923 to 1980. Its principal function is to investigate applications for pensions, allowances and gratuities under the Acts and to report to the Minister thereon.

The Acts specify that the Board shall consist of a chairman and two ordinary members. The two ordinary members must be qualified medical practitioners of whom one must be an officer of the Army Medical Corps. The chairman and the non-military ordinary member are appointed by the Minister for Defence with the concurrence of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. The Army Medical Corps ordinary member is appointed by the Minister for Defence on the recommendation of the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces.

The Minister may make rules regulating the functions and procedures of the Army Pensions Board, including prescribing the manner in which every such application be investigated. The Board can, on a case by case basis, decide to seek additional medical opinion if this is considered necessary.

White Paper on Defence

 269. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin Information on Fiona O'Loughlin Zoom on Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the costs that were involved in the scoping work that was carried out on the proposal for the peace and leadership institute in the Curragh; the budget allocated for the feasibility study that is being progressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26314/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The Deputy is aware that the White Paper on Defence included a commitment to evaluating the potential development of a new Institute for Peace Support and Leadership Training at the Defence Forces Training Centre in The Curragh. Also, the Programme for a Partnership Government included a commitment to developing this Institute. It is foreseen that the new Institute will have international standing and contribute to the overall development of knowledge and experience in the areas of peace support, leadership and conflict resolution.

Scoping work was carried out on the proposal throughout 2016. A concept paper was developed and some initial consultation with national and international third level and research institutes and potential philanthropic contributors also took place. The costs of the scoping work were minimal and were absorbed by my Department’s existing payroll costs, i.e. they did not result in any additional public expense.

Arising from the initial scoping work, it has been decided to now conduct a formal feasibility study. The terms of reference for this feasibility study have been finalised recently and the next step is to tender seeking proposals to carry out this study. The Deputy will appreciate that it would be inappropriate for me to indicate at this stage what that estimated cost may be, as to do so might influence responses to the request for tenders.

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