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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 546-564
 Header Item Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments
 Header Item Forestry Sector
 Header Item Agriculture Schemes
 Header Item Regulatory Impact Assessment Data
 Header Item Children's Beauty Pageants
 Header Item After-School Support Services
 Header Item Official Languages Act 2003 Compliance
 Header Item Legislative Process
 Header Item EU Directives
 Header Item Foreign Adoptions
 Header Item Family Support Services
 Header Item Health Services Staff Recruitment
 Header Item Detention Centres
 Header Item Regulatory Impact Assessment Data
 Header Item Motorised Transport Grant Eligibility
 Header Item Voluntary Sector Funding
 Header Item Medical Card Eligibility

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 815 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 86 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 546-564

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments

 546. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney when an agri-environment options scheme payment will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [41093/13]

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 1 September 2011 and full payment totalling €1,251.15 issued in respect of 2011. Under the EU Regulations governing the Scheme and other area-based payment schemes, a comprehensive administrative check, including cross-checks with the Land Parcel Identification System, must be completed before any payment can issue. The person named was selected for a ground inspection which took place on 31 October 2012. During this inspection, areas of non-compliance with the terms and condition of the scheme were noted in relation to the Species Rich Grassland, Tree Planting and Alternative Water Source for Bovine actions which resulted in a penalty being incurred. On 20 December 2012, a letter issued to the person named informing him of this and outlining his appeal option. To date, there is no record of an appeal having been received by officials in my Department. The application is being processed on the basis of the inspection findings and payment will issue shortly.

Forestry Sector

 547. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the position regarding the forestry road application and tree felling licence application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will expedite these applications. [41094/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Forestry Division of my Department has no record of having received either a forestry road application or a tree felling licence application in respect of the above named person.

Agriculture Schemes

 548. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he will introduce a scheme in 2014 to replace the REP scheme for small farmers in disadvantaged areas whose income will substantially reduce at the end of 2013 when their current term ends; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [41117/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney While there are no plans to extend the current REPS 4 Scheme I am pleased to say that the revised CAP 2014 – 2020 gives priority to agri-environment schemes and requires that the new Rural Development Plan must include an agri-environment scheme. The process for the introduction of new schemes under the new CAP is well underway. In view of the challenges we continue to face in terms of the public finances, and the requirement to balance competing needs both within the agricultural sector and in the economy as a whole, the government will give these matters careful consideration in the context of the funding requirements when the new Rural Development Fund 2014/2020

Regulatory Impact Assessment Data

 549. Deputy Joanna Tuffy Information on Joanna Tuffy Zoom on Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he will provide an update on all regulatory impact assessments carried out on Bills in his Department since this Government took office to date; if he will list these Bills in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [41588/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney No Regulatory Impact Statements have been carried out on Bills in my Department since this Government took office.

Children's Beauty Pageants

 550. 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 steps she will take in order to prohibit the hosting of children's beauty pageants. [40414/13]

 552. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the position regarding a ban on beauty pageants for children under 16 years of age; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40526/13]

 557. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald her proposals to bring forward legislative measures to address the holding of pageants and beauty contests for children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40925/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I propose to take Questions Nos. 550, 552 and 557 together.

I have previously stated I have serious concerns about these pageants because I see it as the inappropriate early sexualisation of very young children. We must defend the rights of our children to be three, four and five years of age and we need to address issues in relation to the sexualisation of children. In this regard I have previously worked with Retail Ireland to introduce the first guidelines on the responsible retailing of childrenswear. I note that the French Senate did voted recently on a possible ban on pageants but this has not and may not be fully enacted. I have asked my Department to further examine the current French proposal and the various issues relating to restricting pageants.

After-School Support Services

 551. 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 in view of the fact that the pilot phase of the subsidised after-school child care scheme is now complete and the scheme commenced national roll-out in September 2013, the uptake there has been on the pilot phase of the scheme in terms of numbers; if she is on target for the allocation of the proposed 6,000 places announced earlier this year; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [40480/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald As part of Budget 2013 I, together with my colleague, the Minister for Social Protection, announced a new After-school Childcare initiative targeted at low-income parents when presented with employment opportunities. The aim of this initiative is to ensure that affordable and quality childcare is available to disadvantaged families when work opportunities are offered.

Eligibility for the new After-school Childcare programme is determined by the Department of Social Protection and the role of my Department is to ensure that quality places are available for those deemed eligible for support. My Department entered into contract with a number of childcare providers who expressed a willingness to make places available for the duration of the pilot programmes. This exercise did inform my Department of the practical issues of having quality childcare services in place prior to the full roll out of the national programme.

In the region of 700 childcare services have now contracted to provide places under the programme in the school year just commenced. It is expected that further childcare services will opt to join the programme throughout the year and I am satisfied that the number is sufficient to meet the demand that was anticipated when the initiative was announced.

The After-school Childcare initiative will require time to become established. One of the target groups for the scheme is former recipients of the One-parent Family (OFP) payment. Separate arrangements were introduced for this group to ease their transition to the Jobseeker’s Allowance scheme which have reduced the need for childcare for these customers, thereby impacting on demand for the After-school scheme. Given the low uptake during the first two pilot phases of the initiative, the eligibility criteria are being considered by the Department of Social Protection in the context of the third pilot phase. As a result, it is not possible to determine how many places will be allocated by the end of the year.

  Question No. 552 answered with Question No. 550.

Official Languages Act 2003 Compliance

 553. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the arrangements put in place by her Department to ensure compliance with the Official Languages Act, specifically requirements for signage in departmental offices, schools and third level institutions; details of any assessments undertaken by departmental staff to assess requirements; the number of signs assessed; when any corrective actions were put in place; if any or all of the actions taken by her Department were within the designated timeframes set out in legislation, and, if not, the reasoning; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [40541/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald My Department has prepared a draft scheme under the Official Language Act which is currently awaiting approval by my colleague, the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. In addition to this my Department was audited by Coimisinéirí Teanga for compliance with the provisions of the Official Languages Act (specifically requirements for signage) on Thursday 26 September. Officers of my Department conducted a pre-audit exercise to ensure obligations are being met under the legislation and I anticipate a favourable audit report will issue in due course.

Legislative Process

 554. Deputy Kevin Humphreys Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if she will provide a list of the Acts or specific provisions of Acts under her Department that have not yet been commenced; if it is intended to commence the provision in each case; if so, when; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40594/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The Child Care (Amendment) Act, 2007 - Sections 5 - 13 have not been commenced. These sections are being repealed by the Child and Family Agency Bill. The intent of these provisions will be incorporated by way of Ministerial Order into the new Child and Family Agency Bill.

  The following Parts of the Child Care (Amendment) Act 2011 have not been commenced:

-   Part 2 (excepting sections 4, 7 and 26)

-   Part 3

-   Part 5

- Part 7 (excepting section 49).

  It is my intention to commence these provisions in the near future.

  The Youth Work Act was introduced in 2001 and outlines a number of structural arrangements for the organisation and administration of youth work policy and provision. To date, Sections 2-7, 17, 18 and 24 of the Act have been commenced. In particular, Sections 17 and 18 provide for the establishment of a National Youth Work Advisory Committee (NYWAC). In this regard, I appointed a new Advisory Committee with effect from 28 January 2013 for a period of one year.

  My Department is developing a new strategy for children and young people. In keeping with my Department’s responsibilities for children and young people, this new five-year Children and Young People’s Policy Framework is being developed in a holistic way which will comprehend the continuum of the life-course from infancy through to early and middle childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. It will be the overarching Framework under which policy and services for children and young people will be developed and implemented in the State.

  The overarching Framework will provide the basis for more detailed strategies including a new youth strategy. The youth strategy will aim to enhance the provision of youth services and activities and in making them more responsive to meeting the needs of young people, including in addressing the challenge of youth employment. I am currently consulting with the NYWAC in this regard. It is intended that the Youth Work Act, 2001 will be reviewed in the context of developing this strategy.

EU Directives

 555. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the level of compliance with European Union directives within her ministerial areas of responsibility; the current fines resulting from non-compliance and potential fines resulting from present non-compliance the State is or may be exposed to; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [40630/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald There are currently no fines or potential fines resulting from non-compliance with European Union directives within my area of responsibility.

Foreign Adoptions

 556. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if she will provide an update on efforts to secure a bilateral adoption agreement between Ireland and Ethiopia; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40728/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald Ethiopia is not a signatory of the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. In these circumstances, future adoptions from Ethiopia would require a bilateral agreement between Ireland and Ethiopia. The negotiation of bilateral agreements on intercountry adoption with states who have not ratified the Hague Convention is governed by Section 73 of the Adoption Act 2010 which states that "the Authority, with the prior consent of the Minister, may enter into discussions with any non-contracting state concerning the possibility of the Government entering into a bilateral agreement with that State."

The Adoption Authority delegation visit to Ethiopia in April of 2012 was an initial part of the Authority's deliberations on the feasibility and suitability of entering into discussions with Ethiopia on a bilateral adoption agreement. The Authority forwarded a report of their visit to me in May 2012. The Authority has also informed me that it has asked the Irish Embassy to make the appropriate contacts in the Ministry of Women's Affairs in Ethiopia with a view to verifying the stance of the Ethiopian authorities to entering into exploratory talks in relation to a bilateral agreement. The Authority has also sought and received advice on the legal compatibility of Irish adoption law with that of Ethiopia. The AAI legal advisors have considered this and certain clarifications are now being sought. The Authority will advise me of the position when all the information is available.

I am aware of the commitment and effort the Ethiopian Government is making towards ratifying the Hague Convention on intercountry adoption and this will be taken into account when considering options in regard to intercountry adoption from Ethiopia.

  Question No. 557 answered with Question No. 550.

Family Support Services

 558. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the criteria for selection, designated terms of service and terms and conditions regarding individual membership/service on the management committees of family resource centres as set down by the key funder, the Family Resource Agency; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40052/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The Family Support Agency is responsible for the support, promotion and development of the Family and Community Services Resource Centre Programme. The Programme provides funding and support to 106 Family Resource Centres (FRCs) around the country. The aim of the programme is to combat disadvantage and improve the functioning of the family unit.

Family Resource Centres are governed by Voluntary Boards of Directors. The Family Support Agency does not have specific criteria for selection or designated terms of service for the appointment of Voluntary Board of Directors. However, the FRCs contract with the Family Support Agency states that “members of the Board of Directors should be drawn predominantly from the community of intended beneficiaries and shall consist of people who have first-hand experience of poverty and disadvantage in their own lives”. Thus, members of the community should be able to express an interest in representing a target group and putting themselves forward for nomination to the Voluntary Board of Directors. Target groups can include families, parents, lone parents, children, youth, teens at risk, families affected by addiction, ethnic groups, people with disabilities, carers, unemployed, early school leavers, survivors of domestic abuse, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities and the elderly.

Each FRC is an independent company limited by guarantee. The Articles of Association of the Centre outlines the terms and conditions regarding individual membership/service on the management committees including minimum and maximum number of members of the Voluntary Board of Directors.

Health Services Staff Recruitment

 559. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if an appointment has been made to the position of campus director at the Oberstown complex; when this appointment was or will be made; the name and duties of the successful candidate; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [41005/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 38916/13 of 19 September 2013 on this matter. The position is unchanged.

  The principal duties and responsibilities envisaged for the Campus Manager of the children detention schools in Oberstown are listed below, and were included in the information booklet published recently by the Public Appointments Service for this position:

  - Lead on the delivery of the vision for an integrated national detention centre for children and young people detained by the courts.

  - Integrated operational management of the services and staff of the Children Detention Schools.

  - Development of comprehensive programmes to address offending behaviour by children in detention and reduce recidivism in conjunction with other stakeholder agencies.

  - Lead preparations and implementation of the operational, staff, policy and financial arrangements for the effective deployment of the enhanced detention facilities which will come on stream from 2014 as a result of the Government approved major capital project for Oberstown.

  - Ensure that the policies, programmes, standards and methods applicable to the delivery of services are consistent with best practice, improved outcomes for children and young people, external regulatory requirements and are subject to ongoing review and improvement.

  - Develop and maintain effective relationships with other partner agencies to ensure effective service coordination with other health, education, social services and justice sectors.

  - Accountability for delivering service, financial and staff targets in line with annual and multi annual plans under an agreed accountability and management framework.

  - Responsibility for deployment of staffing resources on a cross campus basis and human resource management negotiations.

  - Overall responsibility for shared services and cross campus initiatives on the Oberstown campus (e.g. catering services, payroll, staff training, health and safety, procurement and budget oversight).

  - Implementation of a Performance Management and Development System for all grades within the detention schools.

  - Ensure the development of a suitable plan to implement the relevant elements of a youth justice strategy to which the Campus Manager shall also contribute.

Detention Centres

 560. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if she will publish the report (details supplied) regarding the Oberstown complex; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41006/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I am advised that the Oberstown Board of Management is currently considering the findings of the report referred to by the Deputy. This process is ongoing and it is important to ensure that this is done in a fair and impartial manner. This process has taken some time due to the need to develop a comprehensive response to the issues raised in the report and in order to allow persons affected make a contribution to the process.

I am advised that the Board of Management will be considering this issue at its October meeting and that it is expected to adopt a position on the issues raised in the near future. The Chairman of the Board has confirmed his willingness to meet with staff on the issue, after this process has been completed. It is not possible to say at this stage when or in what form the report itself will be published. What I can say is that I am fully committed to the provision of safe and secure custody for children in Oberstown and a positive and supportive work environment for all staff in this challenging area. I expect that the outcome of this process will result in further steps to ensure that this is the case.

Regulatory Impact Assessment Data

 561. 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 if she will provide an update on all regulatory impact assessments carried out on Bills in her Department since this Government took office to date; if she will list these Bills in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [41590/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald Regulatory Impact Analyses have been carried out on the following Bills: Children Amendment Bill 2013; Child and Family Agency Bill 2013. A Regulatory Impact Analysis was also carried out on the proposed amendment of the Child Care Act 1991 which is being included in the Child and Family Agency Bill.

Motorised Transport Grant Eligibility

 562. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will provide and update regarding the motorised transport grant and mobility allowance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40382/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch The Government decided in June last that new statutory provisions should be established to provide individual payments to people with severe disabilities who require additional income to address the costs of their mobility needs. An inter-departmental group, chaired by the Department of the Taoiseach, is working to develop detailed proposals for the operation of a new statutory scheme and is due to report back to Government in October.

The Government also decided in June that payments should temporarily continue to be made by the Health Service Executive to those persons currently in receipt of the Mobility Allowance for a further number of months, pending the commencement of new statutory provisions, on the basis that this would prevent hardship, and, on an interim basis, alleviate stress, anxiety and uncertainty among a vulnerable group in society.

The Government is very conscious of the needs of people with a disability who have relied on the Mobility Allowance and Motorised Transport Grant to support their independence and will take all of this into consideration when making a decision on future arrangements.

Voluntary Sector Funding

 563. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the provision being made for staff employed by voluntary agencies funded by the Health Service Executive to receive public sector increments due over a number of years where those staff are on public sector pay scales and bound by public sector agreements; if the HSE makes provision for such payments in its allocation to those voluntary bodies; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [40383/13]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly Employees of bodies funded under Section 38 of the Health Act 2004 are public servants. Over the next three years the salaries and increments of persons employed by such bodies will be paid in accordance with the terms of the Haddington Road Agreement. Staff employed in bodies funded under Section 39 of the Health Act 2004 are not public servants and therefore are not party to the Haddington Road Agreement. However, the HSE is in communication with the Section 39 bodies to ensure that the savings and flexibility measures which derive from the Haddington Road Agreement are pursued similarly across the Section 39 sector.

Medical Card Eligibility

 564. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the reason persons aged 16 to 25 years who are in receipt of social welfare allowance at the reduced rate of between €100 and €164 are being turned down in their medical card applications because they are not receiving the full jobseeker's amount of €188; if he will agree that medical card guidelines state that persons with only a social welfare income are entitled to a medical card; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40396/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White Medical Card and GP Visit Card applications are processed in accordance with the Medical Card and GP Visit Card National Assessment Guidelines. The Guidelines were revised and up-dated in May 2013 and are available to access on the HSE.ie website.

  The current National Assessment Guidelines state that persons aged between 16 and 25 years may have entitlement to a medical card/GP visit card if they meet any of the following conditions:

- A dependant of a person with approved medical card or GP visit card eligibility

- Financially independent with means that are within the current medical card/GP visit card income limits. ‘Financial independence’ as it relates to persons aged between 16 and 25 is defined in the National Assessment Guidelines as “... in receipt of income equivalent to or greater than the current income guideline for a single person living with family” i.e. €164 or more per week

- Providing GP or medical or surgical services would be the cause of ‘undue hardship’ or ‘unduly burdensome’ on the person themselves, if financially independent, or on the person they are a dependant of

  Based on the above guidelines a person aged between 16 and 25, earning less than €164.00 per week will, on application, receive a medical card or GP visit card if they are:

- A dependant of a person holding current medical card/GP visit card eligibility, or are

- Assessed eligible on the grounds of ‘undue hardship’/ ‘undue burden’

  The current National Assessment Guidelines state that an applicant, whose sole source of assessable household income is a social welfare payment(s), will be granted a medical card if this social welfare income is in excess of the medical card income qualifying limit that applies to that application. This provision cannot be relied on by a person aged 16-25 receiving only social welfare income less than €164.00 per week as entitling them to a medical card.


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