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 Header Item Written Answers Nos 271-288
 Header Item Apprenticeship Programmes
 Header Item School Transport Provision
 Header Item Bullying in Schools
 Header Item School Accommodation
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Applications
 Header Item Coastal Erosion
 Header Item Flexible Work Practices
 Header Item Departmental Properties
 Header Item Flexible Work Practices
 Header Item Revised Estimates Publication
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Croke Park Agreement Issues
 Header Item Nursing Staff Remuneration
 Header Item Public Service Reform Plan Measures
 Header Item Public Sector Staff Retirements
 Header Item Coastal Erosion
 Header Item Flood Relief Schemes
 Header Item Registered Employment Agreements

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 797 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 80 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos 271-288

Apprenticeship Programmes

 271. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn further to Parliamentary Question No. 186 of 5 March 2013, if payment for participation in the redundant apprentice scheme will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry in view of the fact that FÁS recognised the person's participation and completion of this scheme and clearly state that payment will be provided for phase seven of this course. [13961/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy Ciarán Cannon): Information on Ciarán Cannon Zoom on Ciarán Cannon As I stated in my reply to the Deputy on 5 March the individual in question did not participate on the FÁS Redundant Apprentice Placement Scheme. In any event FÁS does not pay any apprentices when they are with their employer for Phase 7 of their apprenticeship.

School Transport Provision

 272. Deputy Brendan Ryan Information on Brendan Ryan Zoom on Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the schemes his Department runs or supports to provide school transport to students with special needs in north County Dublin. [13991/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy Ciarán Cannon): Information on Ciarán Cannon Zoom on Ciarán Cannon Children with special needs may apply for school transport in accordance with the terms of my Department's School Transport Scheme for Children with Special Educational Needs arising from a Diagnosed Disability. Under the terms of this scheme children are eligible for transport where they: have special educational needs arising from a diagnosed disability in accordance with the designation of high and low incidence disability set out in Department of Education and Skill's (DES) Circular 02/05 and are attending the nearest recognised: mainstream school, special class/special school or a unit, that is or can be resourced, to meet their special educational needs. Eligibility is determined following consultation with the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) through its network of Special Education Needs Organisers (SENO). Further information on this scheme is available on my Department's website at www.education.ie.

Bullying in Schools

 273. Deputy Dan Neville Information on Dan Neville Zoom on Dan Neville asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the procedure for dealing with advice to school principals in dealing with response to cyber bullying. [13995/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn As the Deputy is probably aware, on 29 January last, Minister Fitzgerald and I published the Action Plan on Bullying which sets out twelve actions to help prevent and tackle bullying in primary and second level schools. I have ring-fenced €500,000 to support implementation of these actions this year. As part of the Action Plan, new anti-bullying procedures for all primary and second level schools are currently in development in consultation with the education partners. These new procedures will include a specific reference to cyber bullying. These will be issued to all schools at the beginning of the next school year.

  Central to promoting safer use of the Internet by young people is a strong commitment to changing behaviour and raising the knowledge, skills and attitudes around preventing, responding to and reporting cyber bullying incidents. Implementation of the Action Plan on Bullying will increase capacity in these areas and build on my Departments's current strategy to ensure that internet safety is mainstreamed throughout the school's teaching, learning and other practices. Resources are available on www.webwise.ie and include guidelines on developing Acceptable Use Policies.

School Accommodation

 274. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the number of primary and post-primary schools that are in temporary accommodation; the percentage of those that are Irish-medium schools that are waiting for permanent accommodation; and the length of time those schools have been waiting for permanent school accommodation. [13976/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The following table outlines all primary and post-primary schools currently renting temporary accommodation. The commencement date of the earliest rental at each school is also outlined. Of these 615 schools, 60 are Gaelscoileanna and 5 are Gaelcholaistí.

Schools Renting

Schools Building Projects Applications

 275. Deputy Sandra McLellan Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he will review the decision not to grant funding in respect of emergency works for a school (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14024/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The management authorities of the school referred to by the Deputy submitted an application in January for funding under my Department's Emergency Works Scheme to replace a flat roof and associated works at their school. As the scope of works for which funding is sought is outside the terms of the scheme it cannot be considered for funding. The management authority of the school has been informed of this decision. The school authority has been advised to submit a scaled down application to address the immediate health and safety issues and as soon as this application is received it will be assessed and the school authorities notified of the outcome.

Coastal Erosion

 276. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if he will provide the necessary funding to address coastal erosion at a location (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13989/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brian Hayes): Information on Brian Hayes Zoom on Brian Hayes The investigation and addressing of problems of coastal erosion is a matter for Kerry County Council in the first instance. Following a review in 2011, the Office of Public Works published in early 2012 a revised funding application form together with detailed guidelines for coastal erosion projects under the Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection Scheme. The OPW notified Kerry County Council of the need to resubmit any relevant applications under the new criteria. No revised application in relation to Rossbeigh Beach has been received by the OPW to date. It remains open to the Council to re-apply for funding under the Minor Works Scheme. Any application received will be assessed under the revised eligibility criteria, which include a requirement that any measures are cost beneficial, and having regard to the overall availability of funding. The application form and related guidelines are available on the OPW website. OPW has to date approved funding of €891,000 to Kerry County Council under the Minor Works Scheme.

Flexible Work Practices

 277. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin his plans to abolish flexible working conditions for public servants as proposed in the draft public service agreement; the way the abolition of such flexibility will result in cost savings for the State; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that this will affect female participation in the public sector work force; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14141/13]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin Flexible Working Arrangements are not being abolished under the Labour Relation Commission (LRC) proposals. Work-life balance arrangements in the public service will continue to be among the best available options provided by Irish employers, particularly when considered in tandem with annual leave and other provisions. These arrangements underpin important social policy goals, in particular supporting the ongoing participation of parents and carers in the workplace. The Irish public service has a proud record of promoting these arrangements and the employee profile across the service reflects the strong efforts made over the last few decades to ensure that public servants’ employment terms allow them to balance their work and home commitments. A range of flexible working arrangements will continue to be available across the public service where they currently exist, including, flexitime, work sharing arrangements, the shorter working year scheme, career breaks, as well as all of the statutory entitlements such as parental leave and carer’s leave. The LRC is proposing that two of these arrangements, namely flexi-time and work sharing, be amended as sustainable reform measures that will underpin the delivery of a more integrated, efficient and effective public service.

  Flexi-time: Public service organisations that currently have flexitime in place will continue to have flexi-time. It will be available for existing staff and new entrants up to the grade of Higher Executive Officer and equivalent. Everyone on flexi-time will continue, within certain limits, to be able to vary their arrival times, departure times and lunch breaks. A change is proposed in the amount of flexi-leave that can be taken in a flexi period (4 weeks) - this will now be one day. This still allows somebody on flexitime to avail of an additional 13 days flexi-leave per year in addition to their annual leave entitlement and any other flexible working arrangement that they may have. Management grades at Assistant Principal and equivalent, who currently have access to flexi-time will continue to have access to these arrangements but will not have access to flexi-leave.

  Work Sharing: It is important to clarify that a worksharer is an employee who was recruited to a full time position and has opted to reduce their hours to an agreed work sharing pattern. Work sharing will still be available within the public service. The proposals include a provision that will require everyone, with notable exceptions, to work a pattern of at least 50% of the full time hours. It is important to note that only in the region of 2% of those currently work sharing in the Civil Service have a pattern of less than 50%. In recognition of the valuable contribution made by carers to society, those in receipt of Carer’s Allowance will not be required to increase their hours above the 15 hour a week limit for payment of their allowance. In support of our commitment to achieving the public service target of a 3% employment rate for people with disabilities, those with disabilities who have reached a reasonable accommodation with their employer to work less than 50% of full time hours will continue to be able to avail of these arrangements for as long as they are required. It is necessary to revise flexi-time and work sharing arrangements to better reflect the current needs of public service organisations, in the context of falling numbers and changing demands for public services. The operation of these arrangements must support the business of the organisation and the provision of services to the public. The proposed changes are an attempt to balance the requirements of the business while enabling staff to balance work and personal life requirements.

Departmental Properties

 278. Deputy Joe Higgins Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if he will instruct the Chief State Solicitor's Office to reply to a person (details supplied) regarding a property dispute as promised by his Department in a letter. [14207/13]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin I have brought the Deputy's question to the attention of the Chief State Solicitor's Office which informs me that it has now issued an interim letter and will be following up with a full response.

Flexible Work Practices

 279. Deputy Ciara Conway Information on Ciara Conway Zoom on Ciara Conway asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin his plans to continue the incentivised career break for civil servants as introduced in the supplementary Budget in 2009; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13674/13]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin There are currently no plans to reintroduce an incentivised career break scheme for civil servants. The Special Civil Service Incentivised Career Break Scheme was introduced as a once-off measure that was included in the Supplementary Budget announced on 7 April, 2009. In the order of 606 civil servants applied for a career break under the incentivised scheme, of which some 526 applications were approved. A further 505 public servants made applications, of which some 109 were approved.

Revised Estimates Publication

 280. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin the date on which the Revised Estimates for 2013 will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13713/13]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin The revised estimates for all Government Departments will be published within the next number of weeks. As the Deputy is aware, the revised Croke Park proposals were recommended by the Labour Relations Commission on 25 February last. The proposals contain many multifaceted measures and it takes time to fully disaggregate the impact on Departmental pay and pension allocations. In the interim, the Deputy will be aware that all Government Departments have legal authority under the Central Fund (Permanent Provisions) Act 1965 to spend funds up to the value of four-fifths of the previous year’s allocation until the revised estimates have been approved. The Revised Estimates Volume (REV) 2013 will provide additional details and information in relation to the allocations contained in the 2013 Estimates as published on 5 December 2012 in the "Expenditure Report 2013". Furthermore, the REV will set out key performance information regarding the outputs and impacts of Programme Expenditure and this will complement the financial data in the Estimates.

Departmental Expenditure

 281. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin the number of external consultants currently engaged by his Department; the cost of providing advice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13729/13]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin In response to the Deputy’s question the following is a list of the external consultants currently engaged by my Department, including the cost of providing advice to date:

  Department of Public Expenditure and Reform

Consultant’s Name Cost  Comments
Davy Corporate Finance €284,437.50  Financial Consultancy
Richard Humphreys €90,109.80  Legal Consultancy
Ciara Kennedy €24,980.00  Legal Consultancy
Accenture Management Consultants €5,783,024 The fixed price contract is in place for the full project implementation to transition 40 organisations by 2014, and not simply for the provision of advice
Deloitte & Touche €19,680 Provision of expert assistance in relation to implementation of Public Service Reform initiatives
Deloitte & Touche
-
Provision of expert advice on Banking and Finance Management Shared Services and to develop a business case for Payroll Shared Services*


  Information in respect of the external consultants currently engaged by the Office of Public Works (OPW) will be provided directly to the Deputy by the OPW.

* At this time the value of these contracts is commercially sensitive. However when this information is no longer deemed as commercially sensitive, the Shared Services Transformation Unit will provide information on the value of the advices directly to the Deputy.

Croke Park Agreement Issues

 282. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if he will outline, in a tabular form, the number of clarifications issued or ancillary deals agreed since the completion of the Public Service Agreement talks on 25 February 2013; to whom they have been issued; the content of all such clarification notes or ancillary agreements issued and the potential extra cost of each clarification or any ancillary agreement since its completion; if these clarifications or ancillary arrangements have been agreed by the Labour Relations Commission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13736/13]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin It is a common and longstanding feature of collective agreements that letters are issued to clarify points of understanding or agreement between sectoral management and unions. It can be helpful to both sides to have a written statement setting out the understanding of both sides as to how the text will apply in particular contexts and in particular situations. This is consistent with normal and longstanding industrial relations practice.

A number of such letters clarifying aspects of the proposals for a draft Public Service Agreement were issued to member unions of the Public Service Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions by the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) and by sectoral management as appropriate, in parallel with the main proposals published by the LRC. In addition, my Department has written to the Public Services Committee indicating my intentions concerning application of various measures to public service pensioners. No agreements have been made, ancillary or otherwise, since the completion of the LRC facilitated process, and the publication of the LRC proposals, nor are any further negotiations under consideration. The Government is satisfied that the LRC proposals will deliver the required €1bn savings in the pay and pensions bill over the lifetime of the Agreement. Achievement of this saving will not be impacted on by commitments given in any of the letters of clarification that have issued to the parties which have been brought to my attention.

Nursing Staff Remuneration

 283. Deputy Billy Timmins Information on Billy Timmins Zoom on Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding nurses pay. [13804/13]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin I refer to my reply to Question Nos. 266 and 272 - 12607/13 and 13035/13 - of 12 March 2013.

Public Service Reform Plan Measures

 284. Deputy Alan Farrell Information on Alan Farrell Zoom on Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if there has been a review carried out in the cost benefit to outsourcing public services; his views on same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13758/13]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin The Public Service Reform Plan sets out a commitment to evaluate alternative models for the delivery of non-core services in a more cost effective and flexible approach, with a focus on customer service improvement. In July 2012, the Government agreed a range of actions aimed at achieving a focused and integrated approach to external service delivery of non-core processes with the objective of reducing costs and focusing staff resources on priority areas. A Commercial Delivery Manager was also appointed to drive this issue. As part of this approach, the Government has decided that all proposed new services across the Public Service will be tested for external service delivery before any approval to provide the service internally will be granted. External service delivery leads have been appointed in every Department and Sector and the Health, Justice and Local Government sectors are preparing external service delivery plans. My Department is also examining a number of potential cross-Departmental projects for external service delivery.

While my Department is overseeing the development and implementation of external service delivery policy for the Public Service, the testing and ultimate decision with regard to the external delivery of any particular service is a matter for the individual public bodies concerned in each case. It is envisaged that this will involve cost-benefit analysis, on a case-by-case basis. To this end, my Department has produced and distributed a Preliminary Business Case Template to all Departments and Sectors. All contracts offered for external service delivery will be subject to the normal rules governing public procurement, which require all services to be offered by competitive tender. In addition, the proposals from the Labour Relations Commission in respect of the Draft Public Service Agreement 2013-16 reaffirm the principles and procedures in the Croke Park Agreement regarding outsourcing, which include a commitment to evaluate the existing in-house service, the outsourcing option and to compare both.

Public Sector Staff Retirements

 285. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin the number of anticipated retirements from the public and civil service in 2013 and 2014; and the likely cost of these retirements in both years. [13892/13]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin The data requested by the Deputy is currently being prepared and will be published in the forthcoming Revised Estimates Volume (REV) for 2013.

Coastal Erosion

 286. Deputy Arthur Spring Information on Arthur Spring Zoom on Arthur Spring asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin the strategy the Office of Public Works has developed to combat the coastal erosion to Rossbeigh Beach, County Kerry; the funding available to carry out this strategy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13930/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brian Hayes): Information on Brian Hayes Zoom on Brian Hayes The investigation and addressing of problems of coastal erosion is a matter for Kerry County Council in the first instance. Following a review in 2011, the Office of Public Works published in early 2012 a revised funding application form together with detailed guidelines for coastal erosion projects under the Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection Scheme. The OPW notified Kerry County Council of the need to resubmit any relevant applications under the new criteria. No revised application in relation to Rossbeigh Beach has been received by the OPW to date.

It remains open to the Council to re-apply for funding under the Minor Works Scheme. Any application received will be assessed under the revised eligibility criteria, which include a requirement that any measures are cost beneficial, and having regard to the overall availability of funding. The application form and related guidelines are available on the OPW website. OPW has to date approved funding of €891,000 to Kerry County Council under the Minor Works Scheme.

Flood Relief Schemes

 287. Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin further to Parliamentary Question No. 28 of January 2013, if he will provide an explanation of what he means by capacity restrictions with the existing channel; if he is referring to the restriction at the bridge at Athleague and to the reduction of the two openings at the east end of bridge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13968/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brian Hayes): Information on Brian Hayes Zoom on Brian Hayes The "capacity restrictions" within the existing channel mentioned in my reply of 23 January 2013 to the Deputy refers to the water conveyance capacity of the River Suck channel up to Athleague from the River Shannon. It does not allude in any way to the Athleague Bridge having a capacity restriction. The backwater effect refers to the River Shannon water level that backs up towards Athleague beyond the point to which a diversion channel and the construction of a weir at Tobervaddy would be beneficial in preventing the flooding of Athleague village, should an event such as the 2009 flood event occur in the future. As stated in the same reply, the proposed works upstream of Athleague would not have alleviated this effect.

Registered Employment Agreements

 288. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the reason the registered employment agreement is being challenged in the High Court; and if he will indicate the present status of the agreement. [14107/13]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton A High Court challenge to the validity of the Electrical Contracting Registered Employment Agreement (REA), as well as the constitutionality of the 1946 Act, was successfully defended in 2010 by the State but is under appeal to the Supreme Court. The appeal was heard on 18 December 2012 when judgment was reserved. In addition, there are a number of pending High Court challenges to the current Electrical and Construction REAs, all of which challenge the constitutionality of provisions in the 1946 and 1990 Industrial Relations Acts underpinning the REA system. Unless and until such time as the Courts rule otherwise, the terms and conditions of employment contained in all Registered Employment Agreements remain in place and continue to be legally binding.

I am very aware that current economic circumstances are having a particular effect on areas such as electrical contracting and construction, and other sectors that are covered by the statutory wage setting systems (REAs and EROs). With this in mind, I have been determined to reform these systems to help businesses in struggling sectors to survive, and to protect existing jobs and help business to create new ones. To this end, a new legal framework for REAs and EROs has been put in place with effect from 1 August 2012, following the enactment of the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act 2012. The measures contained in the Act make significant provisions for all future registrations, variations and cancellations of REAs and will transform the REA and JLC systems and make them fit for purpose.


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