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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 307-319
 Header Item Airport Security
 Header Item State Bodies Data
 Header Item Early Childhood Care and Education
 Header Item Illegal Adoptions
 Header Item Foster Care
 Header Item Education and Training Boards Staff
 Header Item Youth Services Data
 Header Item Voluntary Sector
 Header Item Voluntary Sector Funding
 Header Item State Bodies Data
 Header Item Jobseeker's Benefit Appeals

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 981 No. 5

First Page Previous Page Page of 66 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 307-319

Airport Security

 307. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross if an executive summary of the key findings made by a recent external oversight audit conducted on the role of the Irish Aviation Authority as competent authority for aviation security here will be made publicly available; if he has been provided with a briefing on the matter; his views on the matter; when the summary will be available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15993/19]

 308. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross if the newly enhanced security arrangements introduced at airports on 30 January 2019 in relation to the requirement of airport police and officials of the Revenue Commissioners to be screened each time while passing between landside to airside also apply equally to members of the US transportation security staff stationed at airports here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15994/19]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross I propose to take Questions Nos. 307 and 308 together.

  The principal regulation in Europe for setting out the standards for civil aviation security is Regulation (EC) 300/2008, and Ireland is required to adhere to the baseline requirements laid out in this Regulation, including a requirement that: “All persons other than passengers, together with their items carried, shall be screened upon entering critical parts of security restricted areas in order to prevent prohibited articles from being introduced into these parts.”

  As such, all categories of persons are subject to security screening. Exemptions from screening are limited, and they do not apply to personnel from the US Transportation Administration stationed at airports in Ireland.

  As regards the reference to audit findings, I assume the Deputy is referring to a recent European Commission inspection of the Irish Aviation Authority, which is the Appropriate Authority in the State under EC Regulation No 300/2008 on common rules in the field of civil aviation security. The Deputy will understand that this report is classified and available only to relevant parties who have the appropriate security clearance. I am not able to comment any further on the contents of that report or its findings.

State Bodies Data

 309. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the number and percentage of women on each State board under the remit of her Department on 8 March 2016 and 8 March 2019, respectively; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15702/19]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The number and percentage of women on each State board under the remit of my Department on 8 March 2016 and 8 March 2019 is set out in the following table.   

  No. of Women March 8th 2016 % No. of women March 8th 2019 %
Adoption Authority Ireland 4 57% 4 57%
Oberstown  4 36% 6 46%
Gaisce 5 55% 7 50%
Tusla 4 44% 4 44%
  

  I am pleased to advise the Deputy that the female representation level on these boards is in line with Government policy.

Early Childhood Care and Education

 310. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if an overage exemption will be reconsidered in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15782/19]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) overage exemptions were introduced at the onset of the ECCE programme in 2010.  At that time ECCE operated for a 38 week period, or one programme year.  For some children with special/additional needs, attending preschool five days a week was not feasible and therefore an allowance was made. Their ECCE place was split over two years, e.g. a child may have availed of three days ECCE provision in year one and two days in year two. In order to facilitate this, in the cases where the child would have been overage for ECCE in the latter year, an overage exemption was granted. 

   Overage Exemptions currently provided by the Department are governed by three guiding principles as follows:

  · A Letter of Recommendation supplied from a specialist (NB: Not a GP/Public Health Nurse)

  · The child not reaching 6 years of age during the exemption year to comply with the school starting age (as per Educational Welfare Act, 2000)

  · ECCE Allocation taken -i.e. if a child has already availed of the full two years they will not be eligible.  

  In  the case of the child named, the application was declined on the basis that their ECCE entitlement will have been utilised in full by the end of June.

It is important to note that   this provision of an overage exemption by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) for the ECCE programme was never intended as a mechanism to delay a child’s entry to primary education before the age of 6 years which is the statutory requirement or to address any issue of non-availability of a school place. 

  It should also be noted that the application process for an exemption from the upper age limit for the ECCE programme was introduced within a context where:

  · The ECCE programme was for one year only; and

  · The Access and Inclusions Model (AIM) did not exist.

  Given the extension of the ECCE programme in 2016/2017, the further extension of the programme to two full years from September 2018, and the introduction of AIM in June 2016, the rationale underpinning the policy intent of the system of overage exemption came under review as the initial premise for the provision of an exemption might have been considered to be no longer valid, i.e. an overage exemption as originally designed allowed for a child to avail of one programme year of ECCE over two years, whereas the standard provision is now a full two programme years.  

  Therefore, the overage exemption process has recently been the subject of a consultation process and report by the National Disability Authority (NDA). Officials from the Department  are now considering policy options following on from the recent publication of this report. The new policy will consider the future of the system of exemptions and how best to support parents and children in the important transition from pre-school to primary school. It is worth stressing that the only rationale underpinning these considerations is what is in the best interests of the child. 

  The current system will continue until such time as any new policy proposals are in place.

  A key finding of the NDA report, which was  published recently, is that generally it is in children's best interest to enrol in primary school with their peers and to transition to becoming a teenager with their peers.

   The report also seeks to ensure that schools offer all the assistance necessary to meet the child's needs, with the assistance of the National Council for Special Education (NCSE).

  My Department will be happy to assist the family, if requested, to make contact with the NCSE to ensure that adequate preparations are in place for the child to start school in September 2019. The family should make immediate contact with their local school to make sure it has appropriate arrangements in place to support this child from September 2019.    

Illegal Adoptions

 311. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone when the final report on illegal birth registrations will be published; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15803/19]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I had expected that the final report of the review of a sample of adoption records being overseen by the Independent Reviewer Marion Reynolds would be submitted to me by Easter. I have just received a third interim report from Ms. Reynolds dated 1 April informing me that this will now be delayed to end May.  I understand that the reason for the delay is that the fieldwork being carried out by both Tusla and the Adoption Authority of Ireland, which is now reaching a conclusion, is complex, forensic and resource intensive, and has taken longer than anticipated. 

The two previous interim reports from the Reviewer have been published on my Department's website.  The purpose of this review, which I initiated following the discovery of cases of illegal registrations in the St. Patrick’s Guild records, is to determine if similar evidence of illegal birth registrations can be identified from the records of other former adoption agencies and other relevant bodies.

The final report and its findings will provide information to assist me in identifying any necessary next steps.

Foster Care

 312. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the way in which supervision of the arrangement is managed in relation to the 13 children in foster care outside the country and by whom with particular reference to facilitating contact with their family of origin.  [15856/19]

 313. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the way in which children are kept in contact with their families when they are placed in residential units in the United Kingdom; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15857/19]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I propose to take Questions Nos. 312 and 313 together.

Any decision by a Tusla social work team to place a child outside the State must be approved by the Agency's Chief Operations Officer. In addition to this, each child placed out of state has a care order in place in Ireland and as such consent must also be provided by the District Court and in some instances the High Court, depending on the nature of the care order.

Out of State placements, in keeping with placements made within the State, are supervised by allocated social workers and the local management of social work team leaders and Principal Social Workers.  National oversight of these placements is maintained through a reporting and tracking system in place in the office of the Chief Operations Officer. Tusla Social Workers supervising out of state placements visit at intervals agreed and set out in the child's care plan.  Frequency of social work visits range from once every two weeks for some children to once every twelve weeks for children in more settled placements. In some cases, support is also provided by local social services in the country where the child is placed, which may involve placement visits. 

The frequency of family contact is determined through the care planning process for each child, taking into account the views of the child, their family, their carers, other professionals involved and Guardians Ad Litem. Family access with the child in an out of state placement is supported by Tusla and this includes booking and paying for flights. The majority of children in out of state placements have regular family contact, including face to face meetings, trips back to Ireland and contact by telephone or through social media. In a very small number of cases there may be no family contact, which can arise as a result of the wishes of the child and/or a social work decision relating to child protection risks.

Education and Training Boards Staff

 314. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the purpose and function of the City of Dublin Youth Services Board; the number of staff employed by job title and grade; the number of staff on secondment or career break by title and grade; and the number of staff that are bilocated. [15942/19]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The Deputy may wish to be aware that the City of Dublin Youth Services Board (CDYSB) is a statutory sub-committee of City of Dublin Education and Training Board which comes under the remit of the Department of Education and Skills.  Consequently, this matter is more appropriate to my colleague, the Minister for Education and Skills.

Youth Services Data

 315. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the number of groups (details supplied) registered with the City of Dublin Youth Services Board; and the number of new groups registered in 2018. [15943/19]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The Local Youth Club Grant Scheme (LYCGS) supports youth work activities at a local level.  In 2019, my Department provided an additional 12% in overall funding for this scheme, bringing the total allocation to over €2m.  The increased funding will provide small volunteer-led youth clubs with greater capacity to reach more young people during 2019. The allocation for 2019 under the LYCGS for CDETB is €341,000.  

  Although under the remit of the Department of Education and Skills, Education and Training Boards (ETBs) act as grant administering bodies for the disbursement of funding under the various youth funding schemes.  My officials have been advised by the City of Dublin Youth Services Board (CDYSB) of the following:

  Groups registered with CDYSB in 2018

  Number of groups registered with CDYSB - 149

  Number of new groups registered with CDYSB - 7

  Analysis:

  Number of Voluntary youth clubs registered with CDYSB - 104

  Number of Scouting groups registered with CDYSB -  42

  Number of other groups registered with CDYSB - 3

Voluntary Sector

 316. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring if a series of matters in relation to the impositions being placed on voluntary community organisations (details supplied) will be addressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15764/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development (Deputy Seán Canney): Information on Seán Canney Zoom on Seán Canney My  Department's community and voluntary supports and programmes unit provides a cohesive framework of support for the community and voluntary sector. €3.5 million is being provided in 2019 under this programme to support 21 volunteer centres, eight volunteering information services and a number of volunteer-supporting organisations such as Volunteer Ireland.

My Department is currently collating information received following a recent Call for Input exercise that was designed as a first step towards developing a draft national volunteering strategy. The submission referred to in the question has been logged and will be considered by my Department alongside other submissions received. I would like to express my appreciation to all who took the time to respond to this exercise. 

These submissions will inform a draft strategy on volunteering. It is anticipated that the draft strategy will be completed later this year, following which there will be a further opportunity for the public to input on the matter before the strategy is presented to Government for approval.

Voluntary Sector Funding

 317. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring the options he is considering for 12 volunteer centres that are funded below €121,016 which is the recommended amount identified by the report Developing Funding Criteria for Volunteer Centres in Ireland; and the timeline for considering and delivering on those options. [15696/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development (Deputy Seán Canney): Information on Seán Canney Zoom on Seán Canney My Department's Community and Voluntary Supports and Programmes unit provide a cohesive framework of support for the community and voluntary sector. €3.5 million is being provided in 2019 under this programme to support 21 Volunteer Centres, eight Volunteering Information Services and a number of volunteer-supporting organisations, such as Volunteer Ireland.

Following the publication in 2017 of a report by Dermot McLaughlin entitled "Developing Funding Criteria for Volunteer Centres in Ireland", my Department secured additional funding of €300,000 which was allocated to all Volunteer Centres in 2017 on a proportionate basis. This increased funding level has been maintained in 2018 and 2019. 

The Dormant Accounts Action Plan 2018 included the provision of €1.2 million to upgrade the eight Volunteering Information Services to full Volunteer Centres in order to provide a consistent level of volunteering service nationwide. My Department is currently engaging with stakeholders in the roll-out of this initiative. As part of this exercise, my Department is also examining options with regard to a number of existing Volunteer Centres which are currently receiving less funding than the minimum amount recommended in the McLaughlin report.

My Department is also currently collating information received from a recent call for input exercise that was designed as a first step towards developing a draft national volunteering strategy. Among the topics under consideration in this context is the issue of volunteering support infrastructure and how best this can be structured to support volunteering.

State Bodies Data

 318. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring the number and percentage of women on each State board under the remit of his Department on 8 March 2016 and 8 March 2019, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15714/19]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Michael Ring): Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring The following table provides the number and percentage of women on each State board under the remit of my Department on the date of its establishment, 19 July 2017, and on 8 March 2019.   

State board under the remit of Department of Rural and Community Development Male Female Female Percentage
Charities Regulator 19 July 2017 8 6 42.9%
Charities Regulator 8 March 2019 7 5 41.7%
Water Safety Ireland 19 July 2017 8 5 38.5%
Water Safety Ireland 8 March 2019 8 5 38.5%
Pobal 19 July 2017 8 7 47%
Pobal 8 March 2019 7 10 59%
There was no Board in place in the Western Development Commission on 19 July 2017 n/a n/a n/a
Western Development Commission 8 March 2019 7 4 36.4%

Jobseeker's Benefit Appeals

 319. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty if a decision has been made on a jobseeker's benefit appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15686/19]

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that an appeal by the person concerned together with the relevant Departmental papers were received by that office on 29th March 2019. An appeal was subsequently registered on 2nd April 2019. The case will be referred to an Appeals Officer who will make a summary decision on the appeal based on the documentary evidence presented or, if required, hold an oral hearing.   

  The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions in relation to social welfare entitlements.

  I trust this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.


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