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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 407-428
 Header Item Social Welfare Appeals Delays
 Header Item Domiciliary Care Allowance Application Numbers
 Header Item Child Benefit Applications
 Header Item Pension Provisions
 Header Item Carer's Allowance Applications
 Header Item Disability Allowance Applications
 Header Item Social Welfare Overpayments
 Header Item Carer's Allowance Application Numbers
 Header Item Mortgage Interest Relief Application
 Header Item Community Employment Schemes Places
 Header Item Employment Support Services
 Header Item Social Welfare Benefits Waiting Times
 Header Item Public Sector Reform Implementation
 Header Item Commemorative Events
 Header Item Cuanna agus Céanna
 Header Item Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item National Lottery Funding Applications
 Header Item Departmental Funding
 Header Item Turbary Rights
 Header Item Pension Provisions

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 782 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 86 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 407-428

Social Welfare Appeals Delays

 407. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the steps that have been taken to shorten the waiting period for the determination of appeals in respect of each social welfare payment; the particular payments that have so far not achieved approvals in this regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50135/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Significant resources and efforts have been put into reducing these backlogs and improving processing times for appellants, including the assignment of 15 additional Appeals Officers, retaining retired experienced officers for 18 months ending December 2011, improving business processes and implementing an new operating model. I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that as a result of these measures there has been a significant increase in the number of appeals finalised from an average of 13,500 in 2007 to 34,027 in 2011 and that the processing times reduced by an overall 10.2 weeks in the nine months to September 2012 as the oral hearing time is down 12.5 weeks and summary decision time is up by 2.3 weeks. There are currently just under 21,000 appeals being processed and it is not possible to state the number of these which will be approved.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Application Numbers

 408. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the total number of applications for domiciliary care allowance received in each of the past three years to date; the number approved; the number rejected; the number of cases granted on appeal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50136/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The number of applicants for DCA that were received, awarded and refused in each year from April 2009 to August 2012 is set out in table 1.

Table 1 - Domiciliary Care Allowance applications – April 2009 to August 2012

  Applications received Applications fully processed in year Applications allowed incl. on review* Applications disallowed
2009 (from 1st April) 3,389 2,823 1,220 1,603
2010 5,457 5,333 2,576 2,757
2011 5,525 5,396 2,502 2,894
2012 (to 31st August) 3,022 3,421 1,511 1,910
Total 17,393 16,973 7,809 9,164
(* Includes cases initially disallowed but allowed on review following receipt of additional information  ).

  The overall number of appeals received, awarded and refused in each year from April 2009 to August 2012 is set out in table 2 below.

Table 2 - Domiciliary Care Allowance Appeals - April 2009 to August 2012*
Year Appeals registered Appeals revised/ withdrawn /cancelled Appeals allowed Appeals disallowed Appeals partially allowed
2009 836 50 6 5 0
2010 1827 609 221 417 14
2011 2322 476 798 1109 37
2012 1455 418 577 587 19
Total 6440 1553 1602 2118 70
  (* Information supplied by Social Welfare Appeals Office)

Child Benefit Applications

 409. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the total number of families in receipt of child benefit; the extent to which this number has fluctuated over the past three years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50137/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The information requested by the Deputy is in the tabular statement. The number of families on child benefit has been broadly stable over the period.

Tabular statement

Year
Number of Families
Percentage Fluctuation

Year on Year
2009
602,932
 
2010
591,432
-1.9%
2011
597,333
1%
31 October 2012
608,979
1.95%

Pension Provisions

 410. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the total number of recipients of non-contributory old age pension; the degree, if any, to which this number has fluctuated in the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [50138/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The information requested by the Deputy is in the tabular statement. The number of recipients of State Pension (Non-contributory) has been relatively stable over the period in question.

Tabular statement

Year
Number of Recipients
Percentage Fluctuation

Year on Year
2007
97,726
 
2008
97,784
0.06%
2009
97,798
0.02%
2010
97,179
-0.63%
2011
96,749
-0.44%
31 October 2012
96,339
-0.42%

Carer's Allowance Applications

 411. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the length of time currently taken to process carer's allowance applications on average; the extent to which the situation has improved or otherwise over the past three years to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50139/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The average time taken to process carer’s allowance applications at present is 25 weeks. It should be noted that this is an average time, with some applications being processed much quicker and some applications taking longer. The corresponding average time taken to award applications in 2011 is not available as applications were being processed on two separate systems while the modernisation process was underway. The average times taken to process applications in 2008, 2009 and 2010 were 15 weeks, 9 weeks and 8 weeks respectively.

I acknowledge that the time taken to process carer’s allowance claims at present is not satisfactory but I am satisfied that the Department is taking appropriate action to resolve the situation.

Carer’s allowance section has recently completed a major service delivery modernisation project to improve the efficiency with which it processes applications from clients for carer’s allowance. The project involved the development of IT functionality and associated business process re-organisation. Full deployment of the new system for Carer’s Allowance was completed in June 2012.

Following the completion of the modernisation project, an in-depth business process improvement (BPI) project was completed for the carer’s allowance scheme. This project focused on optimising output and customer service and the reduction of backlogs. The outcome of the review is the division of work into two streams. One concentrates on dealing with new claim intake and processes these without delay and the other on the backlog which is ring-fenced with a clear and targeted plan for its elimination. Implementation of the plan commenced on Monday 3 September and will be closely monitored and managed to ensure it achieves its objectives. A noted increase in the number of new claims processed was achieved in September and October, where claims processed substantially exceeded claim intake, and this increase continues into November. However, it will take a number of months before the backlog is reduced to an acceptable level. The allocation of available resources to this task continues to be monitored in order that the backlog is eliminated in the shortest possible timeframe.

Disability Allowance Applications

 412. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the number of occasions on which applications for disability allowance and or invalidity pension have been refused and the refusal upheld on appeal have subsequently been awarded on for of new applications; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [50140/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton A total of 3,047 disability allowance and invalidity pension appeals were disallowed in 2011. A system enquiry reports that an estimated 120 of those customers are currently in receipt of disability allowance or invalidity pension having subsequently qualified for the payment.

Social Welfare Overpayments

 413. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the number of instances wherein an overpayment has been discovered in respect of particular social welfare payments in each of the past three years to date; the number of cases in respect of which any underpayment has been discovered in the same period; the action taken in respect of both categories; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50141/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Overpayments are generally defined as “money obtained contrary to or in excess of a valid decision”. An overpayment is any social welfare assistance or benefit payment which the person who received the amount was not entitled to receive. An overpayment is assessed for the period that a person was not entitled to a payment and the recovery of the overpayment is followed up by the relevant section of the Department.   The number of cases of overpayment of social welfare payments in each of the past three years is outlined as follows:

Year Number of cases of overpayment
2009 42,500
2010 52.600
2011 63,330


  The Department is not in a position to publicly report overpayments recorded to date in 2012 as these figures form part of the statutory accounts of the Department and are subject to audit by the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General. My Department does not maintain statistics on the level of underpayments.

  As Minister, I am very conscious of the need to protect public money. An important aspect of my Department’s control policy is to ensure that there is an effective debt recovery regime. Every effort is made to prevent overpayments, but if they occur, they are regarded as a debt to the Exchequer and every effort is made to recover the amount involved.

Carer's Allowance Application Numbers

 414. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the number of applications for carer's allowance received in each of the past four years to date; the numbers granted, refused and granted and refused on appeal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50142/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Number of Carer’s Allowance Applications Decided/Awarded/Refused for the past 4 years.

Year Number Cleared Number Awarded Number Disallowed
2009 17,957 10,730 5,776
2010 16,629 8,769 6,972
2011 13,886 7,467 5,227
2012 (Jan-Oct) 11,638 6098 5146
Year Number of applications awarded by appeals office Number of application disallowed by appeals office
2009 503 785
2010 708 1166
2011 549 882
2012 ( Jan-date) 162 177

Mortgage Interest Relief Application

 415. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the number of households currently in receipt of mortgage interest relief; the number of applications received in each year in the past three years to date; the number approved, refused, granted on appeal or pending in respect of the same period; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50143/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Mortgage interest supplement (MIS) provides short-term income support to eligible people who are unable to meet their mortgage interest repayments in respect of a house which is their sole place of residence. There are approximately 16,000 mortgage interest supplement recipients for which the Government has provided €51 million for in 2012.

  Statistics are not available on the number of mortgage interest supplement claims received for the past 3 years and to date in 2012 or the outcome of those applications. However, I have set out below a tabular statement showing the number of mortgage interest supplement claims awarded in each of the past 3 years and to date in 2012.  

  I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that there are 2,226 supplementary allowance appeals pending at this time. Statistics in respect of mortgage interest supplement, as distinct from overall supplementary allowance appeals in general, are not maintained until the issue under appeal is decided by an Appeals Officer. I have set out below a tabular statement showing outcomes of appeals made in the past 3 years and for the ten months ending October 2012 to the Social Welfare Appeals Office for Mortgage Interest Supplement.

TABULAR STATEMENT

Details of claims awarded in 2009 to 2012

Year
Mortgage Interest Supplement
2009
13,724
2010
11,321
2011
10,106
2012 (1)
4,838
   
    (1) To 2 November 2012

    Outcome of Mortgage Interest Supplement Appeals 2009-October 2012
Mortgage Interest Supplement Appeals
Year
Allowed
Partially Allowed
Disallowed
Total
2009
26
15
112
153
2010
26
10
104
140
*2011
37
15
282
334
*2012 ( to 31.10.2012)
148
18
636
802
* Due to the integration of the Community Welfare Service Appeals into Social Welfare Appeals Office on 1 October 2011, Mortgage Interest Supplement Appeals are made directly to the Social Welfare Appeals Office from that date.

Community Employment Schemes Places

 416. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the total number of persons currently on community employment schemes; the numbers of applications received in each of the past three years to date; the extent to which the necessary resources remain available to ensure maximum availability; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50144/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton There were a total of 22,276 participants and supervisors on Community Employment as on the 5th November 2012. My Department does not keep data from persons expressing an interest in taking up a Community Employment place, as in many cases interested parties make direct application to schemes in their locality in the first instance. Under Pathways to Work (2012) Community Employment is a valuable source of activation places for jobseekers and other vulnerable groups distant from the labour market and the Department is examining ways how this resource can be maximised in the current economic climate.

Employment Support Services

 417. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the total number of temporary, part-time or internship places created in the past two years from the various initiatives undertaken by Government; the extent to which such schemes can be augmented in the future; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50146/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The Department of Social Protection funds and manages a number of interventions targeted at those on the live register or in receipt of certain social protection payments. Combined, some 35,400 placements and supervisory positions are provided across Community Employment (23,300), the Rural Social Scheme (2,730), Tús (5,250), the Job Initiative (including the part-time Job Initiative) (1,300) and the Community Services Programme (2,800). JobBridge, the national internship scheme, has a target of maintaining 6,000 internships and has made significant progress with 11,906 internships having commenced since its launch in July 2011. Tús has provided 6,617 work placement and supervisory positions since its introduction in July 2011. Both JobBridge and Tús are proving to be effective in meeting the objectives set for then. Consideration of extending both or either initiative can only be undertaken in the context of the forthcoming budget and the resources available to my Department.

Social Welfare Benefits Waiting Times

 418. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the extent to which it has been found possible to expedite the process for the determination of entitlement to basic social welfare payments in respect of persons previously self-employed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50147/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Self-employed workers may establish eligibility to assistance-based payments such as jobseeker’s allowance and disability allowance. In the case of jobseeker’s allowance they can apply for the means-tested jobseeker’s allowance if their business ceases or if they are on low income as a result of a downturn in demand for their services. In general, their means will take account of the level of earnings in the last twelve months in determining their expected income for the following year and, in the current climate, account is taken of the downward trend in the economy. As in the case of a non-self-employed claimant for jobseeker’s allowance or disability allowance, the means of husband/wife, civil partner or co-habitant will be taken into account in deciding on entitlement to a payment.

In order to qualify for the payment the Department must be satisfied as to the person’s income or potential income. All facts and evidence are taken into consideration and every case is fully investigated and a decision taken on the individual circumstances of the case. The customer does not need to stop self-employment in order to qualify for payment. However if their self-employment has stopped, evidence of cessation may be requested. While claims are processed as quickly as possible, delays may occur where information or documentation is not furnished in a timely manner.

Public Sector Reform Implementation

 419. Deputy Seán Kyne Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if she will outline the opportunities that persons in lower grades of the public service have been afforded in contributing to the reforms of the public service as sought in the public service agreement; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [50647/12]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton Full implementation of my Department’s Action Plan under the Public Service Agreement involves major organisational change, including changes in structures, business processes, administrative, operating and governance systems, practices and procedures, supported by significant human resource and ICT changes. The specific changes include:

- The integration of the Community Welfare Service (CWS), FÁS Employment and Community Services and Social Welfare services within an expanded Department of Social Protection (DSP);

- The transfer of Redundancy and Insolvency Services (R&I) from the Department of Jobs Enterprise and Innovation and the transfer of the Rural Social Scheme and the Social Inclusion from the Department of Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht;

- The development and piloting of new organisational structures and processes to deliver Intreo as part of the Pathways to Work initiative;

- The development and ongoing roll-out of the Public Services Card.

These changes involved the redeployment of c 2,000 staff and the integration of these staff into the organisation and grading structure of the Department.

All of these initiatives are being delivered with significant input from all of the Department’s staff and the trade unions that represent them, mainly through meetings at local and national levels. One initiative in particular that may be of interest to the Deputy involved a series of half-day meetings at locations throughout the State to which all staff were invited to hear a presentation by senior management, followed by an open discussion of any issues that staff wished to raise, either in response to the presentation or on any other topic of interest to them.

Commemorative Events

 420. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan the arrangements that have been made to commemorate the founding of Óglaigh na hÉireann by Éoin Mac Néill in 1913; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49394/12]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan In the coming year, the Centenary commemorative programme will seek to present a comprehensive reflection of the key issues in Ireland in 2013. The national social and economic conditions will be addressed, alongside the continuing narrative of developments in the campaign for Home Rule.

The founding of Óglaigh na hÉireann on 25 November 1913 will be commemorated as an official initiative within the commemorative programme on the Centenary anniversary. The particular arrangements are currently under consideration with the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces. Special issue commemorative stamps are being prepared by An Post. These official arrangements are likely to be complemented by appropriate academic and other initiatives.

Cuanna agus Céanna

 421. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan cé mhéad airgead a chaith a Roinn ar an mBlascaod Mór in 2011 agus in 2012 go dáta; céard air a caitheadh an t-airgead; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [49441/12]

 423. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan cé mhéid airgid a chaith a Roinn ar an mBlascaod in 2011 agus 2012 go dáta, cé air a caitheadh an t-airgead; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [49605/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Dinny McGinley): Information on Dinny McGinley Zoom on Dinny McGinley Tógfaidh mé Ceisteanna Uimhir 421 agus 423 le chéile.

  Rinne Comhairle Contae Chiarraí iarratas ar chúnamh ó mo Roinnse chun oibreacha cothabhála agus caomhnaithe a chur i gcrích ar an mBlascaod Mór i mí Lúnasa 2012. Is costas de €52,350 a bhí luaite leis an bhfánán agus le hoibreacha eile ar an oileán.   Ceadaíodh deontas de €15,400 do Chomhairle Contae Chiarraí ar 28 Meán Fómhair 2012 i leith na n-oibreacha ar an bhfánán. Níl an t-airgead sin íoctha amach go fóill.

Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla

 422. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan an mbeidh reachtaíocht ag teastáil le deireadh a chur leis an gCoimisiún Logainmneacha ó tharla go bhfuil an Coimisiún luaite in Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [49604/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Dinny McGinley): Information on Dinny McGinley Zoom on Dinny McGinley Mar a d’fhógair mé go poiblí ar 31 Deireadh Fómhair 2012, tá cinneadh déanta ag an Rialtas faoin bPlean um Athchóiriú na Seirbhíse Poiblí go dtiocfaidh coiste saineolaithe a bheidh ag feidhmiú ar bhonn pro bono in áit an Choimisiúin Logainmneacha.

Chuaigh téarma oifige an Choimisiúin Logainmneacha deireanach in éag ar an 11 Deireadh Fómhair 2012. Tá oifigigh mo Roinne ag obair i láthair na huaire ar chritéir a fhorbairt don choiste saineolaithe nua agus táthar ag súil go mbeifear ag lorg léirithe spéise sna seachtainí atá amach romhainn.

  Ar ndóigh, teastóidh leasú ar Chuid 5 d'Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla 2003 chomh fada agus a bhaineann sé leis an chur chuige chun ordú logainmneacha a dhéanamh agus tá súil agam go mbeifear in ann céimeanna dá réir a ghlacadh go luath.

  Question No. 423 answered with Question No. 421.

Departmental Expenditure

 424. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan if he will provide in tabular form the amount currently being spent on, or budgeted for, by State agencies under his remit for spending on the areas of communications, public relations, consultancy, advertising and human resources; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [49646/12]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan The Deputy will appreciate that the matter of budgeted and actual expenditure by the bodies funded from my Department’s Vote group in the areas referred to in the Deputy’s question are part of the day-to-day operational responsibilities of the bodies in question.

  Details of the expenditure allocations made available to the bodies in question are published each year in the annual Revised Estimates Volume (REV) and the Appropriation Account. The REV also includes Agency Statements, which provide details in relation to expenditure on administration and pay in the previous year. These publications are available on the website of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform at www.per.gov.ie and on the website of the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General at www.audgen.gov.ie. For ease of reference, Departmental allocations at subhead level are available at the following link http://per.gov.ie/estpubexp2012.

National Lottery Funding Applications

 425. Deputy Regina Doherty Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan when announcements will be made in relation to his Department's National Lottery funding payments for 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49864/12]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan As the Deputy may be aware, an overall allocation is provided from the National Lottery each year for expenditure through the Votes of various Departments. Details of this allocation are published in Appendix 1 of the annual Revised Estimates Volume and I understand that a total provision of €220m is being made available in 2012.

  Three subheads in my Department’s Vote are partially funded from this National Lottery allocation. The 2012 allocations for these subheads (which include both Lottery and Exchequer funding) are set out in the table.

Subhead
2012 Allocation€000
A.9 Grant for the Arts Council
63,241
B.3 Grant for the Heritage Council
4,811
C.4 Irish Language Support Schemes
4,625

Departmental Funding

 426. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan his views on cuts to funding to the Arts Council in 2012; if he will protect Arts Council funding in Budget 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50110/12]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan Government policy in the area of support for the arts and artists is set out in the Programme for Government . As Minister responsible for the arts and culture sectors, I am committed to securing the best possible funding provisions for these sectors for the period of my term of office.

  Government policy is to promote and strengthen the arts in all its forms, increase access to and participation in the arts, make the arts an integral and valued part of our national life, and maximise the potential for cultural tourism. Primary responsibility for the promotion of the arts at all levels throughout the country is devolved to the Arts Council, which, under the Arts Act, is independent in its funding decisions. In 2012, the Arts Council has received an allocation of over €63 million.

  I am fully aware of the difficulties facing all of those involved in these areas and the tremendous work they have done in maximising the available resources. I am committed, over the term of office of this Government, to supporting the essential elements of the arts and culture sectors within the limited financial resources available and in the light of the evolving Budgetary and Estimates situations.

Turbary Rights

 427. Deputy Paul J. Connaughton Information on Paul Connaughton Zoom on Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan if a person (details supplied) in County Galway will receive compensation for the sale of turbary rights at Derrinlough Bog, County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50124/12]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan The land referred to by the Deputy is located in a natural heritage area designated in 2002.

In 2010, the then Government decided that turf-cutting should come to an end on raised bog natural heritage areas at the end of 2013. However, in accordance with the Programme for Government, the situation regarding the 75 raised bog natural heritage areas will be reviewed, in conjunction with the Peatlands Council, and the outcome of the review will be available in advance of the cutting season in 2014.

In April 2011, the present Government made a decision to put in place a compensation scheme for those who have been required to cease cutting on the 53 raised bog special areas of conservation and my Department is giving priority to implementing this scheme. In the circumstances, and in light of the decision to review the approach to natural heritage areas more generally, as referred to above, the issue of any further purchase of land or rights in natural heritage area bogs, including the land referred to in the Deputy's Question, is being kept under review.

Pension Provisions

 428. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan how well funded all semi-State company pension schemes are; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50651/12]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan As I have previously advised the House, there are no commercial semi-State companies under the remit of my Department. I am advised that none of the State bodies/agencies funded from my Department's Vote Group operate pensions schemes of the kind referred to by the Deputy.


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