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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 433 - 450
 Header Item Coillte Teoranta Harvesting Rights Sale
 Header Item Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments
 Header Item Common Agricultural Policy Expenditure
 Header Item Beef Technology Adoption Programme
 Header Item Fish Quotas
 Header Item Renewable Energy Generation
 Header Item Foreign Adoptions
 Header Item Youth Services
 Header Item Child Care Services
 Header Item Foreign Adoptions
 Header Item Youth Services
 Header Item Child Care Reports
 Header Item Water Fluoridation
 Header Item Medical Card Eligibility
 Header Item Medicinal Products Supply
 Header Item Medical Card Applications

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. 433 - 450

Coillte Teoranta Harvesting Rights Sale

 433. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he will confirm, with respect to the proposed sale of harvesting rights at Coillte forests, the detailed measures that will be proposed to ensure that public roads and service roads are maintained; if there will be an additional cost to the State in respect of same; if a levy is being considered for the private operators of logging vehicles to ensure road maintenance is kept up; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13960/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Further to the Government’s decision that a concession for the harvesting rights to Coillte’s forests be considered for sale, the National Treasury Management Agency, via its NewERA Unit, has been actively engaged with Coillte, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and my Department to examine the financial and other implications of a potential transaction.

  Substantial work has been undertaken to date on the identification of the forestry assets involved, the determination of their value and the consideration of a number of issues associated with the proposed sale of the harvesting rights.

  In relation to the maintenance of public and service roads, a reference to the investment currently made by Coillte in upgrading forest roads was noted in the report, “Assessment of the Consequences of the proposed Sale of Coillte’s Timber Harvesting Rights – 10 January 2013  ” by Peter Bacon and Associates, commissioned by IMPACT. A copy of the report was received by NewERA, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and my Department at the end of January 2013. The report and its findings are currently being analysed as part of the ongoing consideration process. The outcome of the overall analysis will be considered by the Government upon its conclusion; no decision has been taken as yet.

  It should, however, be noted that the consideration of issues in relation to the sourcing of funding for maintenance of local roads is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments

 434. Deputy Heather Humphreys Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney when a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan will receive their agri-environment option scheme payment for 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13965/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The person named was approved for participation in the 2011 Agri-Environment Options Scheme with effect from 1st   September 2011 and has received full payment totalling €1,142.06 in respect of 2011.

  Under the EU Regulations governing the Scheme, a comprehensive administrative check of all applications, including cross-checks with the Land Parcel Identification System, must be completed before any payment can issue. Payments in respect of the 2012 Scheme year are subject to a similar administrative checking process which includes verification of capital investments through checks on receipts. During the course of these checks a query was identified in relation to the reference area on the Wild Bird Cover action. My Department is arranging for a ground measurement to be carried out to resolve this issue and once resolved, the application will be further processed with the intention of issuing payment for 2012 at the earliest opportunity.

Common Agricultural Policy Expenditure

 435. Deputy Heather Humphreys Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the percentage from every €1,000 we received in funding from the EU under Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 of CAP funding that is attributed to administration costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13997/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney None of the EU funding or co-funding received under Pillar 1 or Pillar is spent on the Department’s administration costs. All such costs are borne by the Exchequer through the Administrative Budget allocation in the Department’s annual Vote.

In the case of the LEADER programme which is implemented by the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government and which is co-funded by the EU under Pillar 2, up to 20% of the funding allocated to the approved local action groups may be spent on their administration costs.

Beef Technology Adoption Programme

 436. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the amount paid out in the beef discussion group in 2012; the number of persons who joined it this year; and the number of persons who joined the sheep discussion group this year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13982/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney A total of €4,448,325 was paid out under the 2012 Beef Technology Adoption Programme (BTAP). This was distributed between 4,809 participants.

  Approximately 7,500 persons have applied to join the BTAP for 2013. These applications are subject to validation against the terms and conditions of the scheme.

  Approximately 4,900 applications have been received under the Sheep Technology Adoption Programme (STAP). Again, these applications are subject to validation against the terms and conditions of the scheme.

Fish Quotas

 437. Deputy Joe McHugh Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney further to Parliamentary Question No. 536 of 12 March 2013, if he will update Dáil Éireann on the deliberations of the monthly stakeholder meeting with respect to the proposal to allocate extra herring quota for herring in Area VIa to boats of less than 15 metres in length. [13988/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Each month I am advised on quota management arrangements by the Whitefish Quota Management Advisory Committee which comprises representatives of the Irish fishing industry, the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority and the Department. Industry representatives make recommendations to me in relation to the quota to be allocated in the coming month for whitefish and some pelagic fisheries, including the small vessel herring fishery in Area Vla.

  A meeting of the Committee was held this morning (20th   March 2013).   I will review the recommendations of that Committee and make a decision in relation to the April quotas in accordance with Section 12 of the Sea Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Act 2006. In the days following my decision the Fishery Management Notices giving legal effect to the decision will be published in full in Irish Oifigiúl.   I understand that the recommendation of the fishing industry on the Committee today is that the herring fishery in Area VIa South should be closed for conservation reasons during the summer months, including for under 20m vessels. The industry were made aware of the requests from smaller vessels for access to this fishery and have indicated that they will be recommending a fishery for the autumn, from the beginning of September.   I am supportive of the implementation of measures that help protect and rebuild this herring stock, which is regarded by scientists as over exploited and in need of rebuilding.

   I will consider the views of industry for this fishery before making a decision on arrangements.

Renewable Energy Generation

 438. Deputy David Stanton Information on David Stanton Zoom on David Stanton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he has investigated the economics of growing miscanthus by farmers as an energy crop; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14088/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Deputy will be aware that Teagasc, as part of its statutory remit, provides advice in agriculture matters, and this includes advice relating to research and innovation in the agriculture sector.

  Teagasc has been carrying out long-established research into energy crops at its Crops Research Centre, Oak Park. Best Practice Guidelines have been produced for both miscanthus and willow, and were first published by Teagasc in 2007. Subsequently, Teagasc and its counterpart in Northern Ireland - the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) – jointly published best practice guidelines in 2010 (updated in 2011). These guidelines are reviewed and updated as appropriate in the light of new research as it emerges. The guidelines include a section on the economics and market returns associated with the crops, including a table of payback calculations over 20 years. In calculating the payback in respect of miscanthus, consideration is given to factors such as yield, price per tonne, bank interest, inflation, the crop establishment cost and the benefit of the grant-aid available under my Department’s Bioenergy Scheme.

A copy of the Best Practice Guidelines is made available as part of the information offered to potential applicants under the Bioenergy Scheme and may also be found on my Department’s website at (http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/ruralenvironment/climatechangebioenergybiodiversity/bioenergy/bioenergyscheme/  ).

  The Bioenergy Scheme Terms and Conditions advises potential applicants to obtain independent technical advice as to the suitability of their land for planting willow and miscanthus crops and as to the necessary husbandry, particularly weed control, and management requirements for optimum establishment.

  The returns that can be achieved from energy crops may be significantly influenced by the location of the crop relative to the market. As the energy crops industry is still relatively young, the supply/demand situation is constantly evolving, and this can influence the economics of growing biomass crops for early adopters.

  An Excel calculator for energy crops, which provides details of the economic returns over the lifetime of the crop, is available at Teagasc offices throughout the country. This is a useful tool to help inform potential applicants in the decision making process when considering whether to plant energy crops.

Foreign Adoptions

 439. Deputy Joe McHugh Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if she will explain the distinction between a Hague Convention and a Hague standard in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; the number of Irish couples with pre-Hague section 63 declarations who have adopted children from Russia since the Hague concord; the reason a hold has been placed on registering adoptions from Russia; if she will advise the family on the way they should now approach the matter; and if she will acknowledge that the couple acted to date in good faith.  [14119/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The Adoption Act 2010 provides for inter country adoption between countries that have ratified the Hague Convention or between countries with whom Ireland has a bilateral agreement under Section 73 of the Adoption Act 2010. Section 63 of the Act provides for transitionary arrangements for people who held valid declarations prior to the commencement of the 2010 Act, allowing an adoption to proceed in a non-Hague Convention state 'that, in the opinion of the Authority, applied standards regarding the adoption concerned that accord with those in the Hague Convention

The Authority advises that a question has arisen with regard to the interpretation of Section 63. Therefore the Board recently adjourned making a decision on a small number of applications for an entry in the Register of Intercountry Adoptions. The Board is currently seeking advice from its legal advisors.

The Board recognised 124 adoption from Russia in 2011 and 51 in 2012 and 3 to date in 2013.

The Deputy may be aware that I recently travelled to Moscow, accompanied by Dr Geoffrey Shannon, Chair of the Adoption Authority of Ireland, in order to discuss at a diplomatic level issues in relation to the potential for a bilateral agreement with Russia. During my visit I met with my counter part, Minister Dmitry Livanov, Minister of Education and Science of the Russian Federation. This meeting was productive and allowed for an exchange of views on the possibility of Ireland entering into a bilateral agreement on intercountry adoption with Russia.

The Russian authorities acknowledged the satisfactory outcomes for Russian children adopted in Ireland and expressed a willingness to conclude an agreement with Ireland which will be subject to the approval of the Russian parliament. My Department, together with the AAI, will continue efforts to develop proposals in this regard with a view to a possible visit by Russian officials to Ireland in the coming months.

Youth Services

 440. Deputy Joanna Tuffy Information on Joanna Tuffy Zoom on Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the total funds paid by her Department and its predecessors for the years 2008 to 2013, inclusive, under the headings, special projects for youth, youth information projects, youth service grants scheme, young peoples facilities and services fund 1, young peoples facilities and services fund 2 and any other payments to youth organisations or associated organisations not covered in the schemes above; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14213/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The Youth Affairs Unit of my Department supports the delivery of a range of youth work programmes and services for all young people, including those from disadvantaged communities, by the voluntary youth sector. These schemes include the Youth Service Grant Scheme, the Special Projects for Youth Scheme, the Young People’s Facilities and Services Fund Rounds 1 and 2, Local Drug Task Force Projects.

  Funding of €53.173 million has been provided to my Department for the provision of youth services in 2013. Of this total funding, €1.75 has been provided in a new capital funding programme for 2013.

  Details of the funding allocated in the years 2008 to 2013 are currently being collated within my Department and will issue directly to the Deputy.

  In addition, a total of €2.2m has been allocated by my Department to support the provision of youth cafés, to date. The first tranche of funding was provided over 2010-11 under a dedicated competitive scheme operated for the Department by Pobal.

  An additional €200,000 was made available by my Department in December 2011 to support a further 18 youth projects in providing or maintaining youth cafés facilities. Capital funding of €0.5m was also allocated for the provision of Youth Cafés in 2012.

  The Department estimates that between 75-100 youth café facilities now operate across the State.

  Details of the criteria for the 2013 capital funding of €1m to support youth cafés were announced by my Department last week and are available on the Department's website.

Child Care Services

 441. Deputy Colm Keaveney Information on Colm Keaveney Zoom on Colm Keaveney asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if she will provide an estimate by county of the number of unregulated child care providers; the measures being taken to address this issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13621/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald Pre-school services, which includes childminding services, in Ireland are governed by Part VII of the Child Care Act 1991 and by the Child Care (Pre-School Services) (No 2) Regulations 2006.

Section 51 of the Child Care Act 1991 outlines the category of childcare providers that must notify their service to the HSE and that are subject to the Regulations and to inspection. Section 58 of the Act provides for exemptions for certain categories of childminders from the provisions of Section 51 and the services exempted under this section are not required to give notice to the HSE of their service.

Childminders who are not subject to the requirement to notify are, however, encouraged to voluntarily notify their service to their local City or County Childcare Committee which provides a range of supports to enable them to improve the standards of their childcare service. These supports include the Childminders Tax Exemption scheme which provides for a tax exemption for those childminders who have satisfactorily participated in the Voluntary Notification process and whose annual income from childminding does not exceed €15,000. Despite these supports the number of childminders who opted to voluntarily notified their services only reached approximately 1,250 in 2011. While my Department continues to actively promote the notification of childminding services and the participation of childminders in quality and training programmes, it is not in a position to prevent parents entering into informal arrangements with childminders who are outside the scope of the Regulations.

While I am aware that nearly all of the pre-school services in the country are participating in the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme and are subject to the Regulations, there are no means available to my Department to calculate the number of childminders, providing childcare from their own homes, who are not subject to the Regulations and who have chosen not to participate in the voluntary notification process.

My Department has commenced work on Ireland's first Early Years Strategy. I have received Government approval for the approach I am taking in developing this Strategy as an innovative and dynamic blueprint for the future development of our Early Years sector, aimed at providing a coherent approach to seeking to improve the lives of children from birth to the age of six. One of the policy issues which I have identified for consideration in the preparation of the Early Years Strategy is the development of the childminding sector as a fully-integrated component of early childhood care and education, in particular for the under-one age group.

Foreign Adoptions

 442. Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Information on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Zoom on Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if she will clarify the situation whereby couples who commenced their international adoption of children prior to the ratification of the Hague Convention by Ireland cannot register their children with the Adoption Authority of Ireland despite being the de facto parent and legal guardian to said child; and if her attention has been drawn to the fact that there are 20 such couples in this situation and that the Adoption Authority of Ireland was originally meant to bring High Court action on this issue to have it resolved but has now decided not so.  [13622/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I presume the Deputy's question relates to applications made to the Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI) for entry into the Register of Intercounty Adoptions in relation to adoption orders from Mexico, which were made following the commencement of the Adoption Act, 2010.

The Adoption Act, 2010, gives force of law to the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. The legislation, which incorporates the provisions of the Hague Convention, provides a framework to ensure that appropriate procedures have been followed and that all adoptions are effected in the best interests of the child. Any adoption from a Hague country must comply with the Adoption Act, 2010 and the Hague Convention.

The Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI) is an independent statutory body charged with implementing the Adoption Act, 2010. The Authority has responsibility for the direct operational implementation of legislation and Government policy. It has a quasi-judicial role and is independent in its decision-making functions.

The Authority advises me that the Mexican Central Authority has officially stated it is not in a position to issue the Article 23 certificate, as required under the terms of the Hague Convention. The AAI has received legal advice that given the position of the Mexican Central Authority in relation to this adoption, and without the required Article 23 certificate, under the terms of the Adoption Act, 2010, the AAI is unable to recognise the adoption or to effect an entry on the Register of Intercountry Adoptions.

The Authority has considered making an application to the High Court under section 49 of the Adoption Act, 2010. However, having regard to the above circumstances, the Authority has received legal advice that there is no legal basis for effecting registration.

The Authority has contacted the applicants notifying them of the decision in this regard. The Authority has advised applicants it is open to them to seek independent legal advice in relation to this matter.

The Authority has undertaken to notify the Health Service Executive of this position in order that the HSE is aware of the issues arising in relation to these cases. My Department continues to monitor this matter.

Youth Services

 443. 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 the way she can justify the 11% to 14% cut backs in services to young persons at community level, particularly as research shows that such investment saves the State in the long run. [13646/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The Youth Affairs Unit of my Department provides a range of funding schemes, programmes and supports to the youth sector. Funding of some €53.173m is available in 2013 to support the provision of youth services and programmes to young people throughout the country including those from disadvantaged communities. Targeted supports for disadvantaged, marginalised and at risk young people are provided through the Special Projects for Youth Scheme, the Young Peoples Facilities and Services Fund Rounds 1 and 2 and Local Drugs Task Force Projects. These funding schemes support national and local youth work provision and involve approximately 1,400 paid staff and 40,000 volunteers working in youth work services and communities throughout the country.

  Having regard to the savings requirements identified in the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure my Department has tried to ensure that, in the determination process for the allocations, the front line youth services, particularly those for the most vulnerable young people are protected as far as is possible from the impact of any necessary reductions in funding. The savings required under the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure in respect of 2013 amounted to €5.393m which equated to almost a 10% reduction on 2012 funding available for the provision of youth services.

  My Department is developing a new youth policy framework for publication later this year. The new youth policy framework will aim to enhance the provision of youth services and activities and it will, inter alia, promote co-ordination between government departments and youth sector organisations with a view to maximising the effectiveness of the State funding available to support services for young people in future years.

Child Care Reports

 444. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if she has established an independent child death review unit to review all incidences of death or serious injury of a child while in the care of the State as committed to in the aftermath of the publication of the independent child death report. [13699/13]

 445. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the number of independent reviews that have taken place as recommended by the independent child death review group. [13700/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I propose to take Questions Nos. 444 and 445 together.

  I indicated when I published the report of the Independent Child Death Review Group that I welcome the findings and recommendations of this report, and that I accept fully the need for action in the areas identified.

  Many of the actions and reforms identified by the Review Group are already under way as part of this Government’s reform programme, the most radical reform of child welfare and protection services ever undertaken in the State. Responding to the ICDRG recommendations forms an integral part of the ‘change management programme’ being developed by the senior management team of the new Child & Family Support Agency, led by Project Director Gordon Jeyes. This programme involves over 100 individual reform projects; and through these initiatives the responses to many of the ICDRG recommendations will be mainstreamed into the work programme of the new Agency.

The lack of transparency into what was happening to children and young people known to the State has been corrected by the creation in 2010 of the National Review Panel for Deaths and Serious Incidents, chaired by Dr. Helen Buckley. It allows for timely reviews and quick feedback to the system on changes required as well as identifying individual or systemic risks which need immediate action. The National Review Panel was established by the HSE on foot of guidance from the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA). The Review Panel is independently chaired by Dr. Helen Buckley, and is mandated to review all serious incidents involving children in care, to include deaths in care. While the group was established by the HSE it has an independent role and receives independent legal advice. The Panel produces and publishes reports that are entirely objective and independent of the HSE.

  The HSE has committed to reviewing a number of the cases covered by the Child Death Review Report. Reviews are at the planning stage and it is expected they will be commenced over the coming months.

Water Fluoridation

 446. Deputy John Deasy Information on John Deasy Zoom on John Deasy asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if his attention has been drawn to a report (details supplied) to the Government and the EU Commission on the negative health effects of adding fluoride to the Irish water supply; if his attention has been drawn to growing public disquiet over this practice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14230/13]

 486. Deputy John Deasy Information on John Deasy Zoom on John Deasy asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if his attention has been drawn to a report (details supplied), on the negative health effects of adding fluoride to the Irish water supply; and if he is alarmed by the comparative serious disease statistics for Ireland compared to countries who do not carry out fluoridation of water.  [14231/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White I propose to take Questions Nos. 446 and 486 together.

  The report to which the Deputy refers was referred to the Irish Expert Body on Fluorides and Health for examination in 2012. The Expert Body concluded that the report is not reliable. The Expert Body's Appraisal and an Executive Summary of the Appraisal are available on the Expert Body's website, www.fluoridesandhealth.ie. The Expert Body is satisfied that water fluoridation, at its optimal level, causes no ill effects to the health of adults or children. The effects of fluoridation on health and related matters are kept under constant review.

Medical Card Eligibility

 447. Deputy Dessie Ellis Information on Dessie Ellis Zoom on Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly his plans to increase the income threshold for those applying for medical cards. [13875/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White As part of Budget 2013, it was announced that the income thresholds for medical cards for the over 70’s age group are to be changed. The intention is that:-

- persons aged 70 years and over, whose gross weekly income is not more than €600 in the case of single persons and €1,200 in the case of couples, will qualify for full eligibility (medical cards)

- persons aged 70 years and over, whose gross weekly income is more than €600 but less than €700 in the case of single persons and more than €1,200 but less than €1,400 in the case of couples, will qualify for GP Visit Cards.

People who do not qualify for a medical card are entitled to make use of the Drugs Payment Scheme (DPS) which reimburses the cost of medication that exceeds a monthly threshold. The new rules will not take effect until later in 2013, after primary legislation has been enacted. The implementation date will be announced and publicised in advance by the Department and the HSE.

It was also announced that, in relation to eligibility for the standard medical card, the rules relating to a person’s spending that are taken into account when carrying out the means test will be tightened. The Department will first examine this proposal in more detail in consultation with the HSE. Again, the new rules and the implementation date will be announced and publicised in advance by the Department and the HSE.

  Question No. 448 answered with Question No. 133.

Medicinal Products Supply

 449. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he accepts the concern of persons with epilepsy that generic substitution is not appropriate in the case of antiepileptic medications, AEDs; if he will frame an appropriate exclusion in the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Bill 2012, as is the case in other jurisdictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14000/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White As the Deputy will be aware, the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Bill, passed Committee Stage yesterday. Under the Bill, Irish Medicines Board has statutory responsibility for establishing and publishing a List of Interchangeable Medicinal Products.

  In deciding whether to add a group of medicinal products to the List of Interchangeable Medicinal Products, the Board must be satisfied that each medicinal product which falls within the group:

(a) has the same qualitative and quantitative composition in each of its active substances as each of the other medicinal products which fall within the group;

(b) is in the same pharmaceutical form as, or in a pharmaceutical form that is appropriate for substitution for, each of the other products in the group; and

(c) has the same route of administration as each of the other medicinal products which fall within the group.

  In addition, the Bill provides that the Board is not permitted to add a group of medicinal products to the List of Interchangeable Medicinal Products where:

- there is a difference in bioavailability between the medicinal products and the interchangeable medicinal products which currently fall within the group of interchangeable medicinal products which may lead to a clinically significant difference in efficacy between them, and

- any of the medicinal products cannot be safely substituted for any one or more of the other medicinal products in the group.

  I would like to emphasise that in making a decision to add a medicinal product to a group of interchangeable medicinal products or a group of medicinal products to the List of Interchangeable Medicinal Products the Board is obliged to have regard to the criteria as set out in the Bill and that these criteria fully reflect the recommendations set out in the Joint Department of Health/HSE report 'Proposed Model of Reference Pricing and Generic Substitution' (the Moran Report, 2010) regarding criteria for interchangeability.     

  To further enhance the patient safety aspect of generic substitution, Section 13 of the Bill allows a prescriber to indicate on a prescription that a branded interchangeable medicinal product should, for clinical reasons, not be substituted.

  I am satisfied that these provisions address the concerns raised by the Deputy. I met with the Irish Epilepsy Association in January and explained this position.

  It is also important to point out that generic medicines must meet exactly the same standards of quality and safety and have the same effect as the originator medicine. All of the generic medicines on the Irish market are required to be properly licensed and meet the requirements of the Irish Medicines Board.

Medical Card Applications

 450. Deputy Ciarán Lynch Information on Ciaran Lynch Zoom on Ciaran Lynch asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will review the refusal of a medical card in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork in view of additional information; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14111/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White The Health Service Executive has been asked to examine this matter and to reply to the Deputy as soon as possible.


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