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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 112 - 120
 Header Item School Enrolments
 Header Item Broadband Services Speeds
 Header Item Skills Development
 Header Item Pension Provisions
 Header Item Office of Public Works Projects
 Header Item Croke Park Agreement Issues
 Header Item Garda Stations
 Header Item Action Plan for Jobs
 Header Item Seed Capital Scheme

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 795 No. 2

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Written Answers Nos. 112 - 120

School Enrolments

 112. Deputy Arthur Spring Information on Arthur Spring Zoom on Arthur Spring asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the projected enrolment in primary schools in Kenmare, County Kerry, for 2013, 2014 and 2015; the percentage increase or decrease in the projected enrolments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12031/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The overall enrolment in primary schools in the Kenmare feeder area in 2011 was 729 pupils and the projected overall enrolment for 2015 is 747 pupils. This represents an slight increase of 2%.

Broadband Services Speeds

 113. Deputy Michael Colreavy Information on Michael Colreavy Zoom on Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn when he will improve education centres' access to high-speed broadband particularly in the western region in view of the fact that they require adequate upload and download speeds for e-learning; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [4682/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Education Centres are statutory bodies and are managed by voluntary Management Committees which are elected annually. Education Centres are the delivery mechanism for the delivery of CPD for teachers throughout the country. Centres also organise a varied local programme of activities for teachers, school management and parents in response to demand. The Education Centres are funded by my Department and budgets include provision for broadband access. My Department is in the process of reviewing the quality of broadband connections in the 21 centres. The Department has requested submissions from some Education Centres as to the need for higher broadband speeds however to date none have been received.

Skills Development

 114. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the way he proposes to address the skill deficit here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3319/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs, which is funded by my Department, plays a key role in advising on future skills needs and any emerging gaps. Its research provides a valuable input to the development of course curricula and has also informed the development of new competitive funding models of provision to address emerging skills needs. The Springboard programme targets funding of free part time higher education courses for unemployed people in areas where there are identified skills shortages. More than 10,000 places have been provided under the two rounds of the programme to date. A new call for proposals for courses to be run under the programme in 2013 issued to higher education providers at the end of February.

The joint Government-Industry ICT Action Plan has been developed as a direct response to identified ICT skills shortages and contains a comprehensive range of measures to build the domestic supply of ICT graduates, including through the roll out of graduate skills conversion courses. In February 2013 more than 760 new places were made available on the conversion courses in higher education institutions around the country. This is in addition to the more than 700 places that were provided in 2012. 6,500 training places are currently being rolled out for unemployed people under the Momentum programme. The training, which is aligned up to levels 5 and 6 on the National Framework of Qualifications, is targeted at areas of labour market demand and there is a particular focus on the needs of unemployed people under the age of 25. Funding is also provided to Skillnets, where the development of training is led by representatives of industry ensuring that training provision meets the needs of the sector.

In addition, a range of recommendations to ensure the system continues to respond to enterprise needs is being implemented through the National Strategy for Higher Education. The creation of a new further education and training authority, SOLAS, will also ensure a focus on the evolving skills requirements of industry.

Pension Provisions

 115. Deputy Peter Mathews Information on Peter Mathews Zoom on Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin the position regarding pension payments in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11727/13]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin It would not be appropriate to comment on individual cases. However, as I have indicated, the intention is that staff retiring before the end of August, 2014 will have their pension and lump sum calculated by reference to the current pay rates, that is, the rates before the pay reductions which will apply from 1 July, 2013 to pay rates above €65,000.

Office of Public Works Projects

 116. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if the old pavilion in the Phoenix Park, Dublin, at the 15 acres, will be rebuilt; if the Office of Public Works is satisfied with the repair work carried out to the damaged ground following concerts in the park last year; and if there are plans to upgrade the Magazine Fort in any way in the future.  [11724/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brian Hayes): Information on Brian Hayes Zoom on Brian Hayes The old pavilion was removed on the grounds of public safety as the owner of the building, Dublin County GAA Board, was not in a position to maintain or repair the building. Parts of the building had collapsed and were a danger to the public. There are no plans to replace the building. OPW is satisfied with the repair works undertaken on the concert site. The OPW will continue to secure and maintain the Magazine Fort and has plans to enable appropriate public access when funding allows.

Croke Park Agreement Issues

 117. Deputy Michael Creed Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin in the context of the recent negotiations on a new public sector pay deal, if he will outline the way negotiations were conducted with representative bodies that do not for legal reasons have union status; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11867/13]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin The Public Service (Croke Park) Agreement was an Industrial Relations Agreement negotiated and agreed between public service employers and the public service committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions as representatives of employees in the public service. For associations who are not affiliated to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, a parallel process of discussion and negotiation was made available. Negotiations giving rise to the recent proposals for agreement made by the Labour Relations Commission were conducted on a similar basis. The proposals for agreement are available for consideration by all public service employees.

The Government as an employer does not negotiate on the terms and conditions of employment of public servants with bodies with no legal entitlement to do so or that are not recognised as having representation rights for any particular group.

Garda Stations

 118. Deputy Joe O'Reilly Information on Joe O'Reilly Zoom on Joe O'Reilly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if there is an existing contractual commitment to a site at Bailieborough, County Cavan, for a proposed new Garda station; if so, when was it completed; the location of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11923/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brian Hayes): Information on Brian Hayes Zoom on Brian Hayes No contractual commitment has been made to purchase a site for a new Garda Station at Bailieborough, County Cavan. Acquisition of sites for Garda Stations is a matter for the Office of Public Works in conjunction with An Garda Síochána. The position at Bailieborough, County Cavan will continue to be reviewed in the context of the priority accorded to it by An Garda Síochána and subject to the availability of funding, which is extremely limited.

Action Plan for Jobs

 119. Deputy Peadar Tóibín Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he will correct the jobs action plan which claims that 12,000 net jobs were created in the private sector, to reflect the findings of the Central Statistics Office in the recent quarterly household survey that found the number of employees in the private sector reduced by 400 during the year.  [11807/13]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The latest Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) issued by the Central Statistics Office covers the Fourth Quarter of 2012 and was published on 27 February 2013. The QNHS shows that there was an overall increase in employment year-on-year across the economy of 1,200 people. While this is a modest increase in overall terms, it is the first annual increase in employment recorded since the Second Quarter of 2008. This follows on from seasonally adjusted quarter-on-quarter increases in employment of 3,900 in Quarter 2 2012, and 2,200 in Quarter 3 2012.

The reference, in the Deputy’s question, to a reduction of 400 employees in the private sector seems to relate to Table A3 of the QNHS. This table provides an indication of the number of employees in the public sector and the private sector, based on the CSO’s Earnings, Hours and Employment Costs Survey. However, the figures published in this table do not include all persons in employment in the private sector. For example, they exclude employees in the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries sector, and those who are self-employed. Figures provided elsewhere in the QNHS show an increase in employment in the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries sector year-on-year. The number of people who are self-employed also increased year-on-year. There may, of course be some overlap between these two categories.

What is clear is that the number of people employed in the public sector, as set out in Table A3, has declined considerably as part of the Government’s Public Sector Reform Plan, while employment numbers are increasing in the private sector, as reflected in the headline QNHS figures. In addition, the increase in employment numbers in the private sector which are referenced in the Action Plan for Jobs 2013 are supported by the job creation figures of Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland, who between them supported the creation of almost 10,000 net extra jobs in 2012. Employment also increased in sectors outside the normal remit of the enterprise agencies, such as wholesale and retail.

Seed Capital Scheme

 120. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton when he expects to see the creation of the seed and venture capital scheme as referred to in the Action Plan for Jobs; if he has established thresholds for applicants to the scheme; if the creation of this scheme will require legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12003/13]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Government’s intention for a new Seed and Venture Capital Scheme was announced as part of Budget 2013. In line with the commitment in Action 71 of the Action Plan for Jobs 2013 the first call for expressions of interest under the proposed Scheme will be publicly issued before the end of Q2. This expression of interest process will be targeted at venture capital fund managers. The proposed Scheme does not require legislation. Under Section 7(1)(i) of the Industrial Development (Enterprise Ireland) Act 1998 a Scheme document will be approved by me and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. This document will give Enterprise Ireland the legal authority to administer the Scheme. Enterprise Ireland in consultation with my Department will then determine the relevant thresholds and criteria for each call for expressions of interest under the Scheme as they are issued.


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