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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 120-140
 Header Item Garda Data
 Header Item Mortgage Arrears Proposals
 Header Item Irish Language
 Header Item Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service Data
 Header Item Private Security Industry Regulation
 Header Item Citizenship Applications
 Header Item Brexit Preparations
 Header Item Irish Language
 Header Item Work Permits Appeals
 Header Item Brexit Issues
 Header Item Air Ambulance Service Funding
 Header Item Services for People with Disabilities
 Header Item Home Care Packages Funding
 Header Item Ambulance Service Staff
 Header Item Patient Transport
 Header Item Home Help Service Provision
 Header Item Services for People with Disabilities
 Header Item Hospital Waiting Lists Data

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 979 No. 6

First Page Previous Page Page of 86 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 120-140

Garda Data

 120. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the amount of cash seized and-or frozen from persons exiting and entering the State by the Garda cyber crime bureau by way of electronic funds transfers in the past five years; the amount of cash returned to persons on appeal annually by amounts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8604/19]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I have requested the information sought by the Deputy from the Garda authorities and I will contact the Deputy directly when the information is to hand.

Mortgage Arrears Proposals

 121. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan further to Parliamentary Question No. 126 of 7 February 2019, if the MABS-Abháile scheme will be broadened to include analysing mortgage accounts to examine if the accounts were run correctly and to establish if the product was suitable for the distressed families or if the accounts have been affected by the tracker scandal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8608/19]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan Abhaile, the national mortgage arrears resolution service, began operation in July 2016 and was formally launched by the Government in October 2016 to help people who are insolvent and at risk of losing their homes due to mortgage arrears (‘borrowers’).

Abhaile provides access, without charge to the borrower, to a range of independent expert financial and/or legal advice and assistance, to help identify and put in place the most appropriate solution for resolving the borrower’s arrears and, wherever possible, keeping them in their home. The Abhaile Scheme is jointly coordinated by my Department and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. It is operated by the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS), working together with the Insolvency Service of Ireland (ISI), the Legal Aid Board and the Citizens Information Board.

MABS acts as the gateway to the Abhaile suite of services and will direct the borrower to the advice services best suited to address his or her individual mortgage arrears situation. Financial advice and negotiation assistance may be provided under Abhaile by a Personal Insolvency Practitioner (PIP) on the Abhaile PIP panel, a (Dedicated Mortgage Arrears) DMA adviser working with MABS, and/or an accountant on the Abhaile panel, as appropriate.

The role of a Personal Insolvency Practitioner in advising and assisting the borrower is to be future focused, aims to make the mortgage sustainable, and to help the borrower to identify the most appropriate solution and to get it into place. Personal Insolvency Practitioners already deal with tracker arrears cases and will always review the history of the mortgage account in front of them. Even in cases where it is assessed that no tracker issue exists, the ISI indicates that many PIPs include a term within the Personal Insolvency Arrangement (PIA) such that if a tracker issue only becomes known in the future, the Arrangement already provides for how it is to be treated. The PIP is required to ensure that a restructured home mortgage within a PIA is sustainable for the debtor, and returns the debtor to solvency.

In addition, if any legal issues emerge in relation to the mortgage, the PIP can refer the borrower to receive free legal advice from a Consultation Solicitor under Abhaile with relevant expertise.

MABS provide a Dedicated Mortgage Arrears Service (DMA), which has been incorporated into the Abhaile Scheme, across the MABS network and this will often be the first point of contact under the Scheme for a person in arrears with their home mortgage. Specialist DMA advisors are working across 27 locations countrywide, assisting borrowers to assess the options available to them and, where required, negotiating with lenders on their behalf.

The DMA process is a structured one which involves both gathering and analysing full borrower history and information together with supporting documentation, including original loan agreements, in order to complete a Standard Financial Statement (SFS) and generate a proposal to the lender. In the course of this process, advisers may identify issues relating amongst others, to the operation of the account, the Tracker Review and potential legal issues relating to the underpinning contract. Where such issues emerge, borrowers can be referred under Abhaile for additional expert support from an Abhaile accountant or a consultation solicitor with relevant expertise. MABS can also provide further support to borrowers with relevant appeals to lenders and to the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman.

I can reassure the Deputy therefore, that the Abhaile Scheme does not need to be specifically broadened as it is already dealing with the types of cases she has highlighted. Whether a borrower is provided with financial advice and assistance by a Dedicated Mortgage Adviser through MABS or by a PIP, the suitability and sustainability of the mortgage is being assessed with a view to providing the borrower with a sustainable solution to their arrears, including in cases impacted by the tracker mortgage issue.

The operation of the Abhaile Scheme is regularly reviewed and reports for the first two years of operation illustrating the high take-up and positive outcomes of Abhaile have been published on my Department’s website.

Irish Language

 122. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the progress made on implementing all aspects of the 20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010 to 2030 that are relevant to his Department and bodies under his remit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8624/19]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan Among the most significant achievements in Irish by the Department of Justice and Equality in the past nine years is the publication of an official Irish version of the Rules of Court, translated by the Department or under the aegis of the Department. The Department has now published the official Irish version of the 1986, the 1997 and the 2001 consolidations of the Rules of the Superior Courts, the District Court Rules and the Circuit Court Rules, respectively, and many of the Amendments subsequently made to them, including the Rules of the Superior Courts (Court of Appeal Act 2014) 2014.

  Excerpts from those consolidated Rules have also been made available to a wider audience than those in the legal profession, through a project at Dublin City University (www.gaois.ie). Furthermore, the terminology in the Irish version of the District Court Rules 1997 and the Circuit Court Rules 2001 has also been made available on that project’s popular electronic dictionary, at www.tearma.ie, and work on making the terminology from the Rules of the Superior Courts, 1986 similarly available has been carried out in recent months and is due to be completed by July this year.

  The Department has added to the membership and to the work of the Irish Legal Terms Advisory Committee, which is under the aegis of the Department and chaired by Chief Justice Frank Clarke.

  The Department has run a number of specially tailored internal Irish courses for officials of the Department, and officials also attended courses outside of the Department and achieved qualifications ranging from the Irish European Certificate (TEG  ) to a Master’s Degree in the case of one official.

  The Department currently has one post, that of Translator, where it is a requirement for the holder to be functionally bilingual in Irish and English. It also has a cohort of 45 officers on a list of staff who are available to provide services (i.e. answer queries) in Irish.

Among the Department’s initiatives as regards the Irish language was the adoption of Tailte Éireann   as the single official name for the new body being formed from the merger of the Property Registration Authority, Ordnance Survey Ireland and the Valuation Office.

  An Garda Síochána

  An Garda Síochána introduced a recruitment policy change in 2013, which initiative saw 10% of positions set aside for candidates fluent in the Irish language.

  An Garda Síochána currently has 163 native Irish-speaking members, and many other members who are fluent Irish speakers, capable of carrying out their duties through the medium of Irish throughout the Divisions.   

  An Garda Síochána is currently focusing on increasing the number of fluent Irish-speaking members in Gaeltacht stations and will then focus on stations that in part service Gaeltacht areas. The organisation has given An Coimisinéir Teanga and Gaeltacht communities a commitment that steps will be taken to ensure that all members serving in Gaeltacht stations will be able to carry out their duties confidently and effectively through the medium of Irish in the future. The organisation is in the process of finalising a new Allocations Policy for Gaeltacht Stations whereby a new Irish Language Proficiency Panel will be established, and will include members at Garda and Sergeant rank who have expressed an interest in working in a Gaeltacht station and who have demonstrated the required proficiency in An Garda Síochána’s new Irish Language Competency Framework. All vacancies in Gaeltacht stations, as they arise, will be filled from this Panel.   

  Irish language training is compulsory for all Garda recruits completing training in the Garda College, with presentations provided on aspects such as language awareness and language rights. All staff have been made aware of the organisation’s legislative requirements and of the requirement to respect language choice when dealing with a member of the public.

  An Irish Language Liaison Officer has been appointed by An Garda Síochána – this is a full-time role which aims to enhance the level of Irish language services provided by An Garda Síochána.

  A Gaeltacht Programme has been in operation since 2011 and offers personnel the chance to participate in Irish language courses, specifically designed for the organisation, in Gaeltachtaí around the country.

  An Garda Síochána has also been involved with Oireachtas na Gaeilge for the past number of years in an effort to engage with the Irish-speaking community.

Gaeilge

  Ar na nithe is mó atá bainte amach ag an Roinn Dlí agus Cirt agus Comhionannais, ó thaobh na Gaeilge de, le naoi mbliana anuas, tá leagan oifigiúil Gaeilge de na Rialacha Cúirte, arna n-aistriú ag an Roinn féin nó faoi choimirce na Roinne, a fhoilsiú. Tá an leagan oifigiúil Gaeilge de chomhdhlúthuithe 1986, 1997 agus 2001 ar Rialacha na nUaschúirteanna, na Rialacha Cúirte Dúiche agus na Rialacha Cúirte Cuarda, faoi seach, foilsithe anois ag an Roinn, mar aon le go leor de na Leasuithe a rinneadh ina dhiaidh sin ar na Rialacha sin, lena n-áirítear Rialacha na nUaschúirteanna (An tAcht um an gCúirt Achomhairc, 2014), 2014.

  Tá sleachta as na Rialacha comhdhlúite sin curtha ar fáil do phobal níos leithne ná an lucht dlí, chomh maith, ar chorpas comhthreomhar a bhaineann le tionscadal in Ollscoil Chathair Bhaile Átha Cliath (www.gaois.ie). Ina theannta sin, tá an téarmaíocht atá sa leagan Gaeilge de na Rialacha Cúirte Dúiche, 1997 agus na Rialacha Cúirte Cuarda, 2001 curtha ar fáil ar fhoclóir leictreonach an tionscadail, a bhfuil tóir ag an bpobal air, ag www.téarma.ie – táthar ag oibriú le míonna beaga anuas chun an téarmaíocht atá i Rialacha na nUaschúirteanna, 1986 a chur ar fáil amhlaidh, agus tá an obair sin le bheith curtha i gcrích faoi mhí Iúil na bliana seo.

  Tá an Roinn tar éis cur le comhaltas agus le hobair an Choiste Chomhairlithigh um Théarmaí Dlíthiúla Gaeilge, atá faoi choimirce na Roinne agus faoi chathaoirleacht an Phríomh-Bhreithimh Frank Clarke.

  Tá an Roinn tar éis roinnt mhaith sainchúrsaí inmheánacha Gaeilge a reáchtáil d’oifigigh na Roinne, agus d’fhreastail oifigigh ar chúrsaí lasmuigh den Roinn, chomh maith, agus bhain cáilíochtaí amach ó Theastas Eorpach na Gaeilge go Céim Mháistreachta i gcás oifigigh amháin.

  Tá post amháin mar Aistritheoir sa Roinn a bhfuil sé riachtanach go mbeadh sealbhóir an phoist sin dátheangach go feidhmiúil sa Ghaeilge agus sa Bhéarla. Tá cohórt de 45 oifigeach ar liosta de bhaill foirne sa Roinn atá ar fáil chun seirbhísí a sholáthar (i.e., ceisteanna agus fiosruithe a fhreagairt) as Gaeilge.

  Ar thionscnaimh na Roinne ó thaobh na Gaeilge de, bhí Tailte Éireann a cheapadh mar ainm aonair oifigiúil ar an gcomhlacht nua atá á bhunú ar an Údarás Clárúcháin Maoine, Suirbhéireacht Ordanáis Éireann agus an Oifig Luachála a chumasc.

 An Garda Síochána

  Sa bhliain 2013 rinne an Garda Síochána athrú ar a mbeartas earcaíochta a thabhairt isteach lena ndearnadh 10% de na poist a chur ar leataobh d’iarrthóirí atá líofa sa Ghaeilge.

  Faoi láthair is cainteoirí Gaeilge ó dhúchas iad 163 comhalta den Gharda Síochána, agus tá go leor comhaltaí eile ar cainteoirí líofa Gaeilge iad agus atá ábalta a gcuid dualgas a chomhlíonadh trí mheán na Gaeilge ar fud na Ranna.

  Tá an Garda Síochána ag díriú faoi láthair ar líon na gcomhaltaí ar cainteoirí líofa Gaeilge iad a mhéadú i stáisiúin Ghaeltachta agus díreoidh an eagraíocht ansin ar stáisiúin a fhreastalaíonn go páirteach ar limistéir Ghaeltachta. Tá gealltanas tugtha ag an eagraíocht don Choimisinéir Teanga agus do phobail Ghaeltachta go ndéanfar bearta chun a chinntiú go mbeidh na comhaltaí go léir a bheidh ag fónamh i stáisiúin Ghaeltachta ábalta a ndualgais a chomhlíonadh go muiníneach éifeachtach trí mheán na Gaeilge sa todhchaí. Tá bailchríoch á cur ag an eagraíocht ar Bheartas nua Leithrannta do Stáisiúin Ghaeltachta faoi láthair faoina mbunófar Painéal nua Inniúlachta sa Ghaeilge, agus áireofar ann comhaltaí ar leibhéal an Gharda agus an tSáirsint a mbeidh spéis léirithe acu i bheith ag obair i stáisiún Gaeltachta agus a mbeidh an inniúlacht léirithe acu a bheidh ag teastáil sa Chreat nua Inniúlachta sa Ghaeilge atá ag an nGarda Síochána. Déanfar na folúntais go léir i stáisiúin Ghaeltachta, de réir mar a thiocfaidh siad chun cinn, a líonadh ón bPainéal.

  Tá oiliúint sa Ghaeilge éigeantach d’earcaigh uile an Gharda Síochána atá faoi oiliúint i gColáiste an Gharda Síochána, agus déantar roinnt cur i láthair ar ghnéithe ar nós feasacht teanga agus cearta teanga. Cuireadh na baill foirne go léir ar an eolas maidir le ceanglais reachtúla na heagraíochta agus maidir leis an gceanglas meas a bheith acu ar a rogha teanga agus iad ag déileáil le duine den phobal.

  Tá Oifigeach Idirchaidrimh Gaeilge ceaptha ag an nGarda Síochána – ról lánaimseartha atá sa ról seo, a bhfuil mar aidhm leis feabhas a chur ar an leibhéal seirbhísí Gaeilge a sholáthraíonn an Garda Síochána.   

  Tá Clár Gaeltachta i bhfeidhm ag an eagraíocht ó 2011 i leith agus tugann an Clár sin deis do bhaill den Gharda Síochána páirt a ghlacadh i gcúrsaí Gaeilge, atá sain-deartha don eagraíocht, i nGaeltachtaí ar fud na tíre.

  Agus tá baint ag an nGarda Síochána le hOireachtas na Gaeilge le roinnt blianta anuas mar chuid d’iarrachtaí na heagraíochta dul i dteagmháil le pobal labhartha na Gaeilge.

Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service Data

 123. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the number of start-up entrepreneur applications received in each of the years 2015 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the number approved by year; and the number rejected by year. [8646/19]

 124. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan if an applicant under the start-up entrepreneur programme is required to demonstrate a minimum level of assets in addition to the sum to be invested in the start-up; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8647/19]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I propose to take Questions Nos. 123 and 124 together.

  The Start-up Entrepreneur Programme (STEP) was established in 2012 as a way for entrepreneurs with an innovative idea to apply for a residence permission in Ireland.

  At present applicants are required to provide evidence that they have €50,000 funding available to help them build and grow their proposed enterprise. There is no separate asset threshold that applicants must meet in order to qualify for the programme. Rather, the focus is on the nature of the proposal and its future potential to lead to substantial job growth / generation of economic activity in the State.

  The following table provides a breakdown of total applications, approved applications, and refused applications for the years 2015 - 2018.

Year Total Applications Total Approvals Total Refusals
2015 49 25 24
2016 134 33 101
2017 171 23 148
2018 35 12 23
Total 389 93 296


  In general, the refusals occur as a result of the proposed enterprises not being in the innovation economy and therefore not meeting the published criteria of the programme.

  The Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department is in the process of updating the STEP for 2019 and accordingly, there have been no applications accepted for 2019 to date. However, the INIS website will be updated in the coming weeks with details for 2019 and all prospective applicants should refer to the website for further details.

Private Security Industry Regulation

 125. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan when the report in relation to unlicensed security personnel will be published. [8665/19]

 126. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan his views on whether the PSA should be provided additional sanctioning and investigative powers to deal with the aggressive behaviour or potential aggressive behaviour of security personnel involved in the repossession of homes, farms and other property; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8666/19]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I propose to take Questions Nos. 125 and 126 together.

  The Working Group on the proposed regulation and licensing of security personnel, assisting personnel in enforcing court orders, by the Private Security Authority (PSA) submitted its report to me last month. The Group examined the administrative, legislative, resource, security and other measures necessary to bring the regulation and licensing of security personnel assisting those enforcing court orders within the remit of the Private Security Authority.

   I am consulting with the Attorney General in relation to the report and I intend to make an announcement in relation to this matter as soon as possible.

  Any behaviour of a criminal nature or alleged criminal nature of security personnel involved in the repossession of homes, farms and other property is a matter for An Garda Síochána and any concerns in relation to safety should be raised with An Garda Síochána.

Citizenship Applications

 127. 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 his plans to review the cost of obtaining Irish citizenship with a view to reducing the cost for adult non-widows, widowers and surviving civil partners of Irish citizens in view of the fact that it is prohibitive for many potential applicants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8722/19]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan The fees to be paid by an applicant for a certificate of naturalisation are governed by the provisions of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 569 of 2011).

The application fee, stipulated at €175, is payable on application for a certificate of naturalisation and a certification fee is payable on the issue of a certificate of naturalisation. The standard certification fee is set at €950, while a reduced fee of €200 applies in the case of an application made on behalf of a minor or in certain cases where the application is made by a widow, widower or surviving civil partner of an Irish citizen. In the case of recognised refugees and stateless persons the certification fee is nil.

As such, the Regulations make specific provision for particular categories of applicants who may be on a reduced level of income and there is no information available to either myself or Departmental officials that in general, the level of fees is discouraging people from applying for naturalisation. In that regard, it should be noted that once a grant of naturalisation is made in respect of non-EEA nationals, they are no longer required to register their immigration permission or pay the registration fee of €300 each time.

There is no provision in the Regulations for the discretionary waiver or reduction of fees, or for differing fees to apply to different nationalities, or based on length of residency.

The standard fees payable by an applicant are designed to reflect the effort and cost involved in processing applications for a certificate of naturalisation. The Deputy will be aware that formal citizenship ceremonies have been introduced at no extra cost to applicants. These have been universally well received by participants as the ceremonies provide a sense of dignity and occasion that serves to underscore the importance to both the State and the applicant of the granting of Irish citizenship. Any review of fees would have to consider other categories of applicants, such as EU nationals, and the impact any changes would have on the level of fees for other applicants.

The standard fees payable by an applicant are designed to reflect the effort and cost involved in processing applications for a certificate of naturalisation. The Deputy will be aware that formal citizenship ceremonies have been introduced at no extra cost to applicants. These have been universally well received by participants as the ceremonies provide a sense of dignity and occasion that serves to underscore the importance to both the State and the applicant of the granting of Irish citizenship.

Brexit Preparations

 128. Deputy Michael Moynihan Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys her views on whether businesses are adequately prepared for all eventualities on 29 March 2019 in relation to Brexit. [8040/19]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys As it stands, the UK is scheduled to leave the European Union as of Friday, 29 March 2019. While many Irish businesses already have plans in place to mitigate the impacts of Brexit, I am conscious that a proportion of businesses have delayed their Brexit planning due to the degree of uncertainty in the UK surrounding the Brexit negotiations and the withdrawal process. As we approach the withdrawal date, I am urging all businesses to prepare, make all necessary decisions, and complete all required administrative actions. I am also encouraging businesses to apply for a working capital loan under the Brexit Loan Scheme. Once a loan has been sanctioned by one of the participating banks, it will be available for draw down as and when its needed.

Extensive work has been ongoing in my Department and across Government to help businesses prepare for all Brexit eventualities. This includes research and development of supports to help ensure that businesses are prepared for potential difficulties arising as a result of the UK’s decision to leave the EU. It is important that businesses understand that there are supports and advice available to help them prepare for Brexit.

My Department and its agencies are fully engaged in preparing Irish businesses for Brexit and have participated in the Government of Ireland’s series of Getting Ireland Brexit Ready events in Cork, Galway, Monaghan, Dublin, Limerick and Donegal. As part of awareness-raising activities, EI continues to roll out regional Brexit Advisory clinics. To date, these clinics have been held in Letterkenny, Tralee, Portlaoise, Claremorris, Cootehill, Charleville, Dublin, Galway, Dundalk, Waterford and Limerick. Further events are planned in Galway, Cork, Letterkenny and Dublin ahead of the withdrawal date.

EI has also been running a PrepareforBrexit communications campaign, featuring the ‘Brexit SME Scorecard’ and the PrepareforBrexit.ie website, which offers information on the likely impacts of Brexit on Irish businesses and how these impacts might be mitigated. The Brexit SME Scorecard is an interactive online platform that can be used by all Irish businesses to self-assess their exposure to Brexit. EI has also made available a ‘Be Prepared Grant’ which offers up to €5,000 for exporting client companies to conduct further research and use external expertise to develop a Brexit Action Plan.

Funding to the Local Enterprise Offices has been increased by 22% and they, along with InterTradeIreland, are offering a range of Brexit focused supports to companies, including those engaged in cross-border trade with Northern Ireland. InterTradeIreland continues to offer its Brexit: Start to Plan voucher scheme, which makes available financial support of up to €2,250 towards professional advisory services to address Brexit-related challenges.

The LEOs offer Brexit supports to micro and small businesses through the 31 LEOs nationwide. These include a “Technical Assistance for Micro-enterprises” grant, designed to support qualifying businesses to diversify into new markets, enabling companies to explore and develop new market opportunities. This is accompanied by tailored mentoring to address Brexit-related business challenges, and targeted training on specific Brexit challenges, including financial aspects and capability building in innovation, competitiveness and opportunity diagnosis.

Irish Language

 129. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the progress made on implementing all aspects of the 20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010 to 2030 that are relevant to her Department and bodies under her remit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8613/19]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The Department continues to be committed to providing a quality service to the public through the medium of the Irish language having regard to the demand for services in Irish, and the Irish language skills and proficiencies of officials.

The Department has made good progress over the last three years in implementing the commitments made in it’s Second Irish Language Scheme. The Department’s Third Irish Language Scheme, which covers the period 2019-2022, following recent approval by the Minister of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, came into effect on 18 February, 2019. The new scheme builds on the Department’s Second Irish Language Scheme and sets out the extent to which services are currently available through Irish and identifies areas for future development. It also includes a commitment to assess, on an ongoing basis, the level of demand for services through Irish to ensure that the Department continues to meet this demand in a planned, coherent and accessible way.

The commitments made in the new Scheme will be monitored on a continuous basis by the appropriate Business Units and by the Cross Divisional Committee, established in 2014 which monitors the implementation of commitments made by the Department in relation to the provision of customer services generally and services through Irish.

As part of progressing the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010 to 2030, my Department’s Agency, Enterprise Ireland, has developed a protocol with Údarás na Gaeltachta on behalf of the 8 Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) in the Gaeltacht areas. The 8 LEOs, Donegal, Mayo, Galway, Kerry, Cork South, Cork North and West, Waterford, Meath and Údarás na Gaeltacht’s aim, through that protocol, is to ensure equal opportunities for entrepreneurs and businesses with regard to Government supports. This protocol ensures that Údarás na Gaeltachta clients have access to the extensive expertise of the LEOs through their training and mentoring programmes.

The aim of this protocol is to:

- Ensure that Gaeltacht-based clients are afforded equal and comparable services and supports through Údarás na Gaeltachta that are otherwise provided in non-Gaeltacht areas by the Local Enterprise Office for entrepreneurs and new or existing enterprises.

- Establish a structured link between Local Enterprise Offices and Údarás na Gaeltachta centrally and locally regarding the provision of information, guidance and support to clients.

- Outline a mechanism for the provision of access to services and schemes to Údarás na Gaeltachta from the Local Enterprise Offices for eligible Gaeltacht enterprises.

- Provide for an efficient customer service in response to Local Enterprise Office and Údarás na Gaeltachta clients’ queries.

Work Permits Appeals

 130. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the progress to date in the determination of an appeal for a work permit in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8631/19]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The Employment Permits Section of my Department inform me that an application for a Critical Skills Employment Permit for the person concerned was received on 6th December 2018. A decision was made to refuse the granting of the application on 21st January 2019, and the applicant was notified of this decision in writing.

This application was refused as the remuneration on offer was under €60,000, which is the minimum annual remuneration for a Critical Skills Employment Permit when the occupation in question is not on the Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations List. It would appear from the information provided by the applicant that the individual concerned (details supplied) would be eligible for a General Employment Permit should they choose to apply for one, at a minimum remuneration level of €30,000.

On 30 January 2019, the applicant sought a review of this decision, and, on 18 February 2019, the Reviewing Officer confirmed the decision to refuse this application.

A refusal to grant an employment permit does not preclude an applicant from submitting another application for an employment permit. Such an application should comply with all of the legislative requirements for the particular employment permit type. Any new application for this individual will be expedited. The applicant has been notified of this and has been provided with contact details to arrange same.

Brexit Issues

 131. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if she or her officials have discussed or outlined the number of companies that have located here from the UK since Brexit was announced. [8466/19]

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys Brexit represents the most significant economic challenge facing businesses in the last 50 years and I am satisfied that my Department, its offices and agencies are fully focused on supporting businesses to face the challenges ahead, and to maximize any potential opportunities presented by Brexit.

IDA Ireland report that approximately 55 Brexit-related investments with employment potential of more than 4,500 roles will locate in Ireland over the next two to three years.

The financial services sector accounts for 62% of all Brexit-related investments to date and 44% of the associated jobs (approximately 2,000 roles). The remaining investments have come mainly from life sciences and engineering (22%) and the broad technology and online/e-commerce sectors (16%).

In terms of regional distribution of projects secured so far, approximately 85% of investments and 70% of potential jobs will be in the South and East of the country. The remaining Brexit-related investment and jobs secured to date will be situated in the Border, Midlands and Western regions.

I understand that recruitment for the Brexit-associated jobs (all of which will be located in Ireland) generated by these investments is already underway by the companies concerned, with many staff hired already.

Separately, following the decision by the UK to exit the EU a number of UK companies are seeking to set up in Ireland as notified bodies in order to be in a position to continue operating within the European Union post Brexit.

A Notified Body is a Body which assesses the conformity of certain products, in accordance with a range of EU Directives, before they are placed on the market. In order to become a Notified Body and carry out conformity assessments throughout the European Union, a Body must be approved by a Notifying Authority in an EU Member State. My Department is a Notifying Authority under several EU Directives. To date, five UK Notified Bodies have been appointed as Notified Bodies in Ireland and a further two applications are expected.

Part of the criteria for appointment as a Notified Body is that the Body must be accredited by the Irish National Accreditation Board (INAB) and the Notified Body must be established in Ireland.

The appointment of a Notified Body is carried out by my Department while the accreditation process is fulfilled by INAB. INAB operates independently of my Department, and is the national body in Ireland with responsibility for the accreditation of laboratories, certification bodies and inspection bodies.

I understand that INAB has 26 Brexit-related applications for accreditation, a number of which are from existing UK Notified Bodies seeking to become Notified Bodies in Ireland. I would point out, however, that all such applications must go through a robust assessment process prior to receiving accreditation from INAB. Furthermore, not all of the accreditation applications to INAB will result in subsequent applications to my Department as there are other Government Departments with a similar Notifying Authority role in respect of other Directives.

Air Ambulance Service Funding

 132. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the estimated cost of purchasing and staffing one air ambulance to run 24-7, 365 days a year. [8577/19]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris As this is a service issue, I have asked the HSE to reply to you directly.

Services for People with Disabilities

 133. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin Information on Fiona O'Loughlin Zoom on Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris when a new transport allowance will be introduced to replace the mobility allowance that was ceased in 2013. [8740/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Finian McGrath): Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath The Deputy will be familiar with the background to the closure of both the Mobility Allowance and Motorised Transport Grant schemes in February 2013.

My colleague, the Minister for Health and I brought a Memorandum to Government in May 2018 on proposals for a new Transport Support Payment Scheme in May 2018. Following consideration of the matter, it was decided to withdraw the Memorandum from the Cabinet Agenda at the time. I intend to revert to Government in due course with revised proposals to reflect the discussions at that Cabinet meeting and further discussions between myself and Minister Harris on the best way to progress the Transport Scheme.

It is important to note that the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers scheme operated by the Revenue Commissioners, remains in place. This scheme provides VRT and VAT relief, an exemption from road tax and a fuel grant to drivers and passengers with a disability, who qualify under the relevant criteria set out in governing regulations made by the Minister for Finance. Specifically adapted vehicles driven by persons with a disability are also exempt from payment of tolls on national roads and toll bridges. Transport Infrastructure Ireland has responsibility for this particular scheme.

There are improvements in access to a range of transport support schemes available to persons with disabilities in the State and on-going work is being carried out by Government Departments, agencies and transport providers to further improve access to public transport services. Under the National Disability Inclusion Strategy, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport has responsibility for the continued development of accessibility and availability of public transport for people with a disability.

Home Care Packages Funding

 134. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris when funding for home care packages will be made available in an area (details supplied). [8512/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Jim Daly): Information on Jim Daly Zoom on Jim Daly As this is a service matter I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Ambulance Service Staff

 135. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan Information on Aindrias Moynihan Zoom on Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the reason no investigation has been conducted over the past nine months since ambulance staff were suspended (details supplied); when an investigation will commence; and the expected duration of same. [8514/19]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris As this is a service issue, I have asked the HSE to reply to you directly.

Patient Transport

 136. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris when transport to and from hospital will be re-facilitated in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8528/19]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris As this is a service matter I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Home Help Service Provision

 137. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris when necessary additional home help hours will be awarded in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8529/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Finian McGrath): Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath The Government is committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will empower them to live independent lives, provide greater independence in accessing the services they choose, and enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their lives. This commitment is outlined in the Programme for Partnership Government, which is guided by two principles: equality of opportunity and improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.

As the Deputy's question relates to service matters, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply to the Deputy.

Services for People with Disabilities

 138. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the status of the business case submitted by an organisation (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8542/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Finian McGrath): Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath The Government is committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will empower them to live independent lives, provide greater independence in accessing the services they choose, and enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their lives. This commitment is outlined in the Programme for Partnership Government, which is guided by two principles: equality of opportunity and improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.

As the Deputy's question relates to an service matters, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply to the Deputy.

Hospital Waiting Lists Data

 139. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the number of children on waiting lists for ear, nose and throat, ENT, appointments in County Mayo.  [8543/19]

 140. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the number of adults on waiting lists for ENT appointments in County Mayo. [8544/19]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I propose to take Questions Nos. 139 and 140 together.

  Improving waiting times for hospital procedures is a key commitment in the Programme for Government.

  I hope to publish the joint Department of Health, HSE, NTPF Scheduled Care Access Plan 2019 shortly. This will ensure an appropriate balance between high volume activities and offering treatment to complex long waiting patients.

  This Plan for inpatients/day case (IPDC) and outpatients will set out the activity targets for the HSE in line with the National Service Plan, as well as those for the NTPF taking account of their increased funding totalling €75milion in 2019, to provide treatment for patients.

  The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the tables.

  Mayo ENT waiting lists

  Inpatient

Adult Child
130 55


  Outpatient
Adult Child
2028 823


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