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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 1426-1442
 Header Item Appointments to State Boards
 Header Item Departmental Schemes
 Header Item Noxious Weeds Act
 Header Item Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Payments
 Header Item Grassland Sheep Scheme Applications
 Header Item Afforestation Programme
 Header Item Animal Welfare
 Header Item Fisheries Protection
 Header Item Departmental Schemes
 Header Item Departmental Schemes
 Header Item State Bodies Numbers
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Appointments to State Boards
 Header Item Child Abuse Issues
 Header Item Health Services Provision

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 774 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 162 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 1426-1442

Appointments to State Boards

 1426. Deputy Anne Ferris Information on Anne Ferris Zoom on Anne Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the steps he is taking to ensure that State boards have at least 40% of each gender, as provided for in the programme for Government; the percentage at present; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39146/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Since May 2011, a notification was placed on my Department’s website inviting expressions of interest from persons interested in being appointed to the boards of State Bodies under the aegis of my Department. Also on 7th September this year I placed an advertisement in the National papers inviting expressions of interest. Such persons can submit a short note or CV through stateboardvacancies@agriculture.gov.ie. These applications will be considered when appointments are being made to any of these boards. It is hoped that this will provide me with a wide range of applicants, including women, with the appropriate mix of skills and experience in the relevant area of work. It should be pointed out that certain appointments to State Bodies under the aegis of my Department are made on the nomination of Representative Bodies.

Departmental Schemes

 1427. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the budget allocation for the REP scheme and agri environment option schemes in the past three yerars; the amount paid out each year for both schemes, including the payments to date in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39175/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The table below sets out both the overall agri-environment budget and the amounts paid under each scheme for the years 2010, 2011 and 2012

- 2010 2011 2012
Total Agri-Environment Budget €329m €337m €243m
AEOS Expenditure - €14m €23m*
REPS Expenditure €324m €262m €63m*
  *expenditure to end August 2012.

  Question No. 1428 answered with Question No. 1382.

Noxious Weeds Act

 1429. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the actions that have been taken in 2012 to ensure compliance with the noxious weeds legislation with reference in particular to the spread of ragwort; the number of prosecutions pending; the number of these that have been taken against public bodies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39177/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Noxious Weeds Act 1936 provides for the control of the spread of six noxious weeds, namely, thistle, ragwort, dock, common barberry, male wild hop plant and the wild oat. Under the Act, it is an offence not to prevent the spread of these noxious weeds. The owner, occupier, user or managers of lands on which these weeds are present are subject to the provisions of the Act, including a fine of up to €1,000 on conviction.

The last prosecution under the Act was taken in 1988. However, my Department actively seeks to enforce the provisions of the Act by issuing notices to destroy in all instances where it becomes aware of the presence of noxious weeds. A total of 35 such notices were issued in 2011 with a further 40 having been issued to date in 2012. These notices are issued as a result of inspections carried out by Department field officers or on receipt of complaints made by the public. Follow-up action may be undertaken by my officials with the landowner to ensure the notifications are acted upon and that the particular weeds have been dealt with as stipulated in the notice to destroy. Additionally, all recipients of notices to destroy in 2011 were contacted again this year reminding them of their obligations to control noxious weeds present on their lands.

Under the EU single farm payment scheme, farmers are obliged to keep their lands free from noxious weeds under the cross-compliance measures of the scheme. Failure to do so may result in a reduction of their payment entitlements. In the years 2009, 2010 and 2011 penalties under the single payment were applied to 27, 31 and 46 farmers, respectively, for failure to take appropriate measures to prevent the proliferation of noxious weeds.

My Department continues to engage with all local authorities and the National Roads Authority to ensure a consistent programme of treatment and disposal of noxious weeds on roadsides on an ongoing basis. In that context my officials earlier this year wrote to Managers of each County and Local Authorities together with the National Roads Authority restating their statutory obligations under the Act and remaining them of the importance of implementing measures for the treatment and safe disposal of ragwort.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Payments

 1430. Deputy Jim Daly Information on Jim Daly Zoom on Jim Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the position regarding disadvantaged area payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39200/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney In order to make the necessary savings under the budget for the 2012 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, a range of technical adjustments to the Scheme criteria were introduced, with the agreement of the EU Commission, to ensure that the aid payment is focused on farmers who are making a significant contribution to achieving the objectives of the Scheme, which are defined in the governing EU legislation as follows: To ensure continued agricultural land use and thereby contribute to the maintenance of a viable rural community; To maintain the countryside; To maintain and promote sustainable farming systems which, in particular, take account of environmental protection measures.

  I did, however, give the commitment that all applicants, whose stocking density was below 0.3 livestock units per forage hectare in 2011, would be written to formally and given the opportunity to apply for a derogation and, in this regard, I can confirm that in excess of 10,000 have been written to and afforded the opportunity to seek derogation from the 0.3 livestock unit requirement. In the region of 9,000 responded and these applications are currently being processed. The following were the categories under which farmers could apply for derogation: Category 1: Farmers with a lower stocking density as a result of adherence to an agri-environment of similar type of plan; Category 2: Farmers, who are not subject to the restrictions from a stocking density point of view of plans referred to under Category 1 above, but whose stocking levels were restricted by the poor land productivity and farming constraints; Category 3: This Category is for farmers who took over a farm either immediately before or during 2011, where the previous owner died; Category 4: This category is for farmers whose livestock were affected by an epizootic disease. An epizootic disease is any disease that affects a large number of animals in one place at one time; Category 5: New Entrants; Category 6: Miscellaneous, This category is for farmers who consider their particular circumstance is not covered in the categories set out above, e.g. farmers who were occupationally incapacitated as a result of an illness and/or hospitalisation.

  These derogation applications are currently being processed, each case being individually reviewed. Decision notifications, which have recently begun issuing, are being sent to each applicant. Those whose applications are successful are being advised that their 2012 DAS applications will be further processed for payment, subject to the other Terms and Conditions governing the 2012 Scheme. Those whose applications are unsuccessful are being afforded the right of appeal.

  In this regard, I have decided that an independent Appeals Committee, chaired by an independent Chairman, should be established to process appeals in relation to applicants whose applications for derogations have been unsuccessful.

Grassland Sheep Scheme Applications

 1431. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney when the balance of a 2011 GSS payment will be issued in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39224/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Outstanding issues relating to the application under the 2011 Grassland Sheep Scheme application of the person named have recently been resolved, thereby allowing the balancing payment to issue shortly, directly to the nominated bank account of the person named.

Afforestation Programme

 1432. Deputy Martin Ferris Information on Martin Ferris Zoom on Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if Coillte has already agreed to the sale or lease of a large proportion of its forestry assets; and, if so, if he will provide details. [39241/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Coillte Board and Management have been actively engaged in recent months with NewERA, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and my Department to examine the financial and other implications of developing the potential of Coillte’s forest assets.

Animal Welfare

 1433. Deputy Derek Keating Information on Derek Keating Zoom on Derek Keating asked the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney in view of the fact that it is reported that he grant aids animal welfare to the amount of €1.1 million every year, if he is satisfied that there is value for money and that the various organisations are providing a service that is in keeping with funding from public moneys; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39259/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney My Department does not operate specific schemes of financial assistance for animal welfare groups: however since 1995 it has made ex-gratia payments to a number of organisations directly involved in the delivery of animal care and welfare services. The funding arrangements are kept under review on an annual basis.

  In 2011 my Department awarded a total of €1.235million to 132 Animal Welfare Organisations. In conjunction with these awards, I introduced a new Code of Practice for welfare organisations which aims to promote sound welfare and management practices to assist organisations achieve high standards of animal welfare. This Code of Practice is available on my Department’s website at http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/animalhealthwelfare/animalwelfare. In addition, financial statements have to be provided by grant applicants.

  In this current economic climate these Welfare Organisations find it increasingly difficult to raise private funds for the very important work they are engaged in. My Department stresses that the funding is limited and is intended only as a contribution to the overall costs of the organisations.

Fisheries Protection

 1434. Deputy John Deasy Information on John Deasy Zoom on John Deasy asked the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his plans to liberalise the commercial fishing of sea bass in Irish waters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39292/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Irish vessels are currently precluded from landing Sea Bass under the Bass (Conservation of Stocks) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 230 of 2006) and the Bass (Restriction on Sale) Regulations 2007 (S.I. No. 367 of 2007). The complete ban for the commercial fishing of sea bass applies to Irish fishing vessels in all areas. These regulations were introduced as a co-ordinated set of measures with the Sea Bass Fishing Conservation bylaws. The bylaws imposes a bag limit on anglers of two bass in any one period of 24 hours and a ban on angling for bass during the spawning season, from 15th May to 15th June in any given year.

These measures have been in place since 1990 and were introduced arising from the dramatic decline of sea bass stocks in the 1970’s. Bass in Irish waters are a slow growing fish and, at a recruitment age of roughly 5 years, are late maturing fish. The distribution of bass around Europe is found mainly in southern waters, including the inshore waters of the south west of England and the English Channel. It is farmed extensively in Mediterranean waters.

The Marine Institute carried out an annual bass survey between the years 1996 and 2007. This survey validates previous research on the species and indicates that the stock of bass in Ireland’s inshore waters remains greatly depleted since the 1960s and 1970s. In Irish waters, the available scientific advice is that the sea bass stock appears depleted and should be allowed to rebuild. The evidence suggests that sea bass in Irish waters do not exhibit the same strong recruitments as recorded closer to continental Europe and the species abundance remains depressed.

The EU Commission has indicated that it is considering introducing Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and quotas for seabass in specified fisheries management areas stretching from the North Sea down to waters off the coasts of Spain and Portugal. The EU Commission has indicated that it proposes to use track record of landings of seabass by Member States fleets to establish each Member States shares of the TACs. As Ireland has implemented a complete closure of the commercial seabass fishery since 1990, under this methodology it would not receive any quota. I consider that it is unacceptable that the Irish fleet would not benefit from a share out of these fisheries because of the responsible approach taken to protect and rebuild the stock around Ireland. I have made the case at the Fisheries Council and to the Commission that an alternative method of establishing access to the fisheries should be developed that allows Irish fishermen fishing opportunities for sustainable stocks of seabass in areas where the Irish fleet would operate. I will continue to press Ireland’s case in this matter in the coming months and in the lead in to the December Fisheries Council , where the decisions on this matter will be finalised. I will consider management arrangements for seabass when and if Council decides on TACs and quotas for the relevant stocks.

Departmental Schemes

 1435. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the total payments made to farmers in County Cavan in 2010 and 2011 under the REP scheme and the agri environment option scheme; the level of payments to date in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39352/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The following table sets out the information requested.

Co Cavan Agri-Environment Payments 2010 2011 2012 (up to end August)
AEOS €0.00 €471,359.06 €536,087.98
REPS €10,562,155.67 €8,731,704.70 €1,504,991.13

Departmental Schemes

 1436. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the total payments made to farmers in County Monaghan in 2010 and 2011 under the REP scheme and the agri environment option scheme; the level of payments to date in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39353/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The following table sets out the information requested.

Co Monaghan Agri-Environment Payments 2010 2011 2012 (up to end August)
AEOS €0.00 €500,474.81 €407,490.98
REPS €6,429,060.77 €7,317,901.47 €1,078,501.72

State Bodies Numbers

 1437. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the number of State bodies that have been set up since 9 March 2011; the rationale behind these decisions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39991/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I have not set up any State Bodies since 9th March 2012.

Departmental Expenditure

 1438. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he will provide a list of the payments made by the State to private landowners in 2010 and 2011 to acquire land for use in the public capital programme. [40004/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney There was no land acquisitions in 2010 or 2011 associated with my Department’s capital expenditure programme.

  Question No. 1439 answered with Question No. 1366.

Appointments to State Boards

 1440. Deputy Gerald Nash Information on Gerald Nash Zoom on Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the number of appointments that have been made to positions available on the boards of semi-State companies and statutory agencies following public advertisement; if he will provide details of the names of persons who have been appointed under this initiative and the agencies on which they now sit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40028/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Since May 2011, a notification has been placed on my Department’s website inviting expressions of interest from persons interested in being appointed to the boards of State Bodies under the aegis of my Department. Also on 7th September of this year I placed an advertisement in the National Newspapers inviting expressions of interest. These applications will be considered when appointments are being made to any of these boards. It is hoped that this will provide a wide range of applicants with the appropriate mix of skills and experience in the relevant area of work.

  In the case of a number of bodies, the board appointments, while made by me, are not at my sole discretion and, instead, individuals are nominated for appointment by me by various organisations as specified in the relevant statute. These are the Aquaculture Licensing Appeals Board, Bord Bia, Teagasc, National Milk Agency, Veterinary Council of Ireland and Horse Racing Ireland.

  There have been a number of appointments to State Boards during my tenure and the details of these are outlined in the accompanying table.

Body/Agency No of Board Members No of Board appointments since March 2011 Name
Aquaculture Licensing Appeals Board 7 2 Brendan Brice

Camilla Keane
      Michael Carey (Chair)
An Bord Bia 15 9

( including the Chair)
Gary Brown

Michael Cronin

Rhona Holland

John Kingston

Brody Sweeney

John Comer

Mary J Byrne

John Bryan
Bord Iascaigh Mhara 6 1 Kieran Calnan (Chair)
      Philip Meaney (Chair)
Bord na gCon 7 6 Matt Murphy

Brendan Moore

Tim Gilbert

Tony McNamee

William O’Dwyer
Coillte 9 2 Oliver McCabe

David Gunning
Horse Racing Ireland 14 3 Noel Meade

Neville O’Byrne

Mary O’Connor
Marine Institute 9 1 Paul Hyde
Teagasc 11 1 Thomas Cooke
Veterinary Council 19 6 Michael Sheahan

Peadar Ó’Scanaill

Michael Sadlier

Deirdre Campion

Martin Blake

Crionna Creagh

Child Abuse Issues

 1441. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if she will carry out an investigation into the failure by the Midland Health Board to take any action on the substantial records that they had regarding the vicious and systematic abuse of (details supplied).  [37693/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald This matter is appropriate to the HSE and, accordingly, I have forwarded the information to Gordon Jeyes, National Director of Children and Family Services for his attention and consideration.

Health Services Provision

 1442. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if her attention has been drawn to the expected loss of services provided by Lifestart in west Kildare and Offaly affecting hundreds of families; if she directly or through the Health Service Executive can identify savings elsewhere which might be helpful towards ensuring the continuation of services provided by Lifestart; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [39308/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald My Department has brought this matter to the attention of the HSE, and asked that it provide the Deputy with the information requested as soon as possible.


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