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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 413-431
 Header Item Family Income Supplement Applications
 Header Item Regulatory Impact Assessment Data
 Header Item Raised Bog Management Plan
 Header Item Commemorative Events
 Header Item Turf Cutting Compensation Scheme Issues
 Header Item Official Languages Act 2003 Compliance
 Header Item Legislative Process
 Header Item EU Directives
 Header Item Annals of Inisfallen
 Header Item Turf Cutting Compensation Scheme Payments
 Header Item Heritage Council Funding
 Header Item Regulatory Impact Assessment Data
 Header Item Better Energy Homes Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Official Languages Act 2003 Compliance
 Header Item Legislative Process
 Header Item EU Directives
 Header Item National Broadband Plan Implementation
 Header Item Petroleum and Gas Exploration
 Header Item Mobile Telephony Services Provision

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. 413-431

Family Income Supplement Applications

 413. Deputy Barry Cowen Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton when a person (details supplied) in County Offaly may expect a decision on an application for family income supplement. [41123/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The Family Income Supplement (FIS) is designed to provide support for people with families who are on low earnings. The person concerned is currently in receipt of FIS and recently applied to have their payment renewed. The renewal application has been processed and payment of FIS has been renewed for the person concerned in respect of family of 5 children, at the weekly rate of €341 with effect from 3 October 2013. Payment of FIS will continue to the nominated bank account of the person concerned for 52 weeks from 3 October 2013 to 1 October 2014, provided they remain in employment at a minimum level of 38 hours per fortnight.

Regulatory Impact Assessment Data

 414. Deputy Joanna Tuffy Information on Joanna Tuffy Zoom on Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if she will provide an update on all regulatory impact statements carried out in respect of Bills in her Department since this Government took office; if she will list these Bills in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [41600/13]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I have initiated six Bills since taking office, all of which have been enacted. Details of these Acts are set out in the following table.

  Regulatory Impact Assessments (RIAs) are not ordinarily undertaken in relation to the package of measures announced in the annual Budget Day Statements or similar packages of measures. Accordingly, a RIA was not considered necessary in the case of the Social Welfare Act 2011 and the Social Welfare Act 2012, both of which enacted social welfare measures announced in the 2012 and 2013 Budgets, respectively. A nRIA was not considered necessary in the case of the social welfare measures contained in the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2011, the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2012 and the Social Welfare and Pensions (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2013, as these measures either implemented budgetary decisions or made miscellaneous amendments to the social welfare code which were not considered amenable to the undertaking of a RIA.

  The Social Welfare and Pensions Acts 2011 and 2012 and the Social Welfare and Pensions (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2013 also amend the provisions of the Pensions Act 1990. Part 4 of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2011 transposed Article 17 of Directive 2003/41/EC on the Activities and Supervision of Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision (IORPS Directive) relating to the regulation of occupational pensions. However, as the types of pension scheme envisaged in Article 17 are not operated in Ireland, a RIA was not considered feasible in relation to these provisions.

  Part 3 of the Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2012 amended the Funding Standard applying to defined benefit pension schemes. A RIA undertaken on these amendments has been published and is available at http://www.welfare.ie/EN/Policy/Legislation/Regulatory%20Impact%20Analysis/Documents/riapension.pdf. Part 4 of the Social Welfare and Pension (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2013 implemented the recommendations of the Critical Review of the Pension Board. This review, which involved a public consultation process, was carried out under the Public Service Reform plan. This review is available at http://www.welfare.ie/en/pressoffice/pdf/Report-of-the-Critical-Review-23-April-2013.pdf.

  As the provisions contained in the Civil Registration (Amendment) Act 2012 to extend the list of bodies authorised to solemnise marriages were of a minor nature, an RIA was not considered necessary in the case of this Act.

Bills Initiated by Minister for Social Protection since March 2011

Title of Bill Status RIA Undertaken
Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2011 Enacted 29th June 2011 Not considered necessary
Social Welfare Act 2011 Enacted 19th December 2011 Not considered necessary
Social Welfare and Pensions Act 2012 Enacted 1st May 2012 RIA undertaken on Part 3 of Act
Social Welfare Act 2012 Enacted 21st December 2012 Not considered necessary
Civil Registration (Amendment) Act 2012 Enacted 26th December 2012 Not considered necessary
Social Welfare and Pensions (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2013 Enacted 28th June 2013 Not considered necessary

Raised Bog Management Plan

 415. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan the criteria used in the selection of bogs (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40523/13]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan In keeping with the recommendations of Mr. Justice John Quirke, on 8 March last year Dáil Éireann agreed a motion put forward by the technical group to "engage actively with the European Commission to seek a resolution within the terms of the Habitats Directive, and to prepare and submit a National Raised Bog Restoration Plan to the Commission as a matter of urgency". Following the motion, I immediately secured the agreement of Environment Commissioner Potočnik to the development of a National Raised Bog SAC Management Plan. The plan will set out the approach to the future restoration and management of each of the SACs, and may unlock some flexibility, within the terms of the Habitats Directive, to address the most difficult of sites, where relocation alternatives for turf-cutters may be limited.

  To progress the preparation of the plan, my Department engaged a team of specialists (RPS) to provide the scientific basis for raised bog conservation in Ireland. RPS has been working with my Department and the Peatlands Council to prepare a Raised Bog SAC Management Plan, a draft of which I hope to make available for consultation before the end of the year. Further information on the work of RPS can be found at www.raisedbogrestoration.ie.

  The draft plan will include a number of case studies to illustrate the scientific approach that will be needed for the restoration of all 53 raised bog SACs, as called for in the motion proposed in Dáil Éireann in March 2012. 5 sites have been selected for this purpose. The sites, which represent a broad geographic spread of SACs, were identified as a preliminary list to help illustrate the approach that could be taken for all SACs in the Raised Bog SAC National Plan. The 5 sites have therefore only been selected for a scientific survey. This list may change depending on the practicalities of undertaking the required scientific surveys.

  In order to provide an informed basis for discussions with property owners and stakeholders, a preliminary survey of each of the 5 sites is required. The surveys will involve site visits to verify drainage systems and to take other scientific measurements. I would like to make it clear that this is a scientific survey and that no restoration work is to take place during this survey. I would also like to make it clear that no future restoration work will be carried out on any raised bog SAC without full consultation and engagement with stakeholders. This is set out clearly in the documentation which has been produced to guide this process, and which is available to the public on www.raisedbogrestoration.ie. The Raised Bog Conservation Study SEA Scoping Report states: "The development of a National Raised Bog SAC Management Plan was recommended by Mr. Justice John Quirke in his report following the 2012 Peatland Forum. A national plan was also called for in a unanimous Dáil vote in 2012. The purpose of the plan is to provide the ability to explore whether there are any other options available for those sites where relocation is genuinely not possible. It also indicates how the 53 SACs are to be restored and managed into the future, which will be done in full consultation and partnership with those who own the bogs and surrounding land owners."

  For the avoidance of all doubt, what is being conducted at the moment is a scientific survey. Comments in the local media from some parties about a risk of flooding arising from this simple scientific survey are unfounded. I am happy to reassure all partners in this process that this is a scientific survey and any future actions that might be proposed arising from it will only be considered in consultation with the local community and landowners. I would therefore encourage all turf cutting committees, property owners and stakeholders to engage with this very preliminary assessment, so that an informed discussion can begin on the future management options for each site.

Commemorative Events

 416. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan the funding that has been made available to the decades committee in relation to the celebration of historic events; the procedures for groups to apply for this funding; to whom funding has already been allocated and on what basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [40461/13]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan In making arrangements for centenary commemorations, priority consideration is being afforded to the arrangements for immediate anniversaries with a view to marking them as they arise. Against that backdrop, where possible, a measure of support is being provided to local authorities, colleges and community groups for their commemorative initiatives from the existing resources of several Departments, agencies and services. In addition, the National Cultural Institutions are funding initiatives by prioritising their funding apportionment. It has not been possible to date to allocate resources that would enable the introduction of a special commemorative fund to which groups might apply for assistance with their projects.

I would like to express a profound appreciation of the commemorative programme currently being brought forward by the Lockout 1913 Committee. I believe the events they have organised bring attention to many aspects of the economic and social life of the period and illustrate a very important element of the developing Irish revolution. In large part, this programme has relied on the enthusiasm and commitment of volunteers. It is a tremendous exemplar of the potential role and capacity of community groups in the coming years. The same enthusiasm is already evident in relation to the imminent centenaries of the Irish Volunteers and the First World War.

The Deputy can be assured that community-based commemorative initiatives will receive all possible assistance within the context of ensuring the optimal use of the available resources.

Turf Cutting Compensation Scheme Issues

 417. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan the reason his Department will continue to pay €1,500 per annum in lieu of relocation to the representatives of a deceased person but is refusing to provide 15 tonnes of fuel on the basis that the home is vacant; if he will review this decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40467/13]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan Under the cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme, applicants will enter into a legal agreement with me, as Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. A provision has been included in the legal agreement which provides that the agreement is assignable on the death of the applicant by way of will or rules on intestacy. As regards the application I understand is being referred to in the Deputy's Question, I am advised that a letter has been received today by my Department from the person who has inherited the bog plot. The position as set out in the letter, will be considered by my Department, which will revert to this individual shortly.

Official Languages Act 2003 Compliance

 418. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan the arrangements put in place by his Department to ensure compliance with the Official Languages Act, specifically requirements for signage in departmental offices, schools, 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 his Department were within the designated timeframes set out in legislation, and, if not, the reasoning for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [40540/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Dinny McGinley): Information on Dinny McGinley Zoom on Dinny McGinley The Official Languages Act 2003 (Section 9) Regulations 2008 (S.I. No. 391 of 2008) were signed on 1 October 2008. These Regulations relate, inter alia, to the use of Irish and English by public bodies on signage. The Regulations have been coming into effect on a phased basis from 1 March 2009 onwards. Responsibility for monitoring compliance by public bodies with the provisions of the legislation rests with An Coimisinéir Teanga under section 21 of the Official Languages Act. As part of this monitoring process, I understand that An Coimisinéir Teanga is currently undertaking an audit of signage erected by public bodies, including signage in some of the buildings occupied by staff of my Department.

  Since my Department is not the anchor tenant for some of these buildings, it should be noted that my Department is solely responsible for those offices which are used exclusively by it, as it has no control over signage in other parts of those buildings. Appropriate steps have been taken by my Department to ensure that it is compliant with the signage provisions of the Regulations and ongoing compliance checks on signage are conducted by staff of my Department.

Legislative Process

 419. Deputy Kevin Humphreys Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan if he will provide a list of the Acts or specific provisions of Acts under his Department that have not yet been commenced; if it is intended to commence the provision in each case; if so, when; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40593/13]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan The information sought by the Deputy in relation to Acts or specific provisions of Acts under my Department that have not yet been commenced is set out in the following table.

Acts/provisions of Acts not yet commenced Current position
National Cultural Institutions Act 1997:

Section 4(1) insofar as it relates to Section 25 of the National Monuments Act 1930 and Section 16 or 65.

Sections 6(1) and 6(2) insofar as they relates to the Documents and Pictures (Regulation of Export) Act 1945.

Section 20(4) in so far as it relates to Marsh's Library.

Section 49(1) (a), (b) and (c), (f) and (g), Section 49(2), Section 49(4), 49(5), 49(14) and 49(15).

Part V, Sections 52 to 59 (inclusive).

Sections 65 and 66
Further consideration required.

The Documents and Pictures (Regulation of Export) Act 1945 remains in place.

Further consideration required.

Further consideration required.

Further consideration required. Currently no plans to commence.
Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000:

Section 36
Commencement of this section of the Act is currently under active consideration.
National Monuments (Amendment) Act 1987:

Section 26, insofar as it relates to section 21 of the National Monuments Act 1930 and section 15 of the National Monuments (Amendment) Act 1954.
To be addressed in consolidated Monuments Bill, currently being drafted by the Office of the Attorney General.

EU Directives

 420. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan the level of compliance with European Union directives within his ministerial areas of responsibility; the current fines resulting from non-compliance and potential fines resulting from non-compliance to which the State is or may be exposed; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [40629/13]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan My Department has lead responsibility relating to the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive. Implementation responsibilities relating to these Directives also lie with other Government Departments and with a wide range of public authorities.

Ireland has had a number of infringement actions taken against it by the European Commission relating to these Directives and the Court of Justice of the European Union has found against Ireland on four occasions due to inadequate implementation and/or transposition. This has necessitated a suite of actions to be taken, in consultation with the European Commission, to resolve the cases. Three of these cases have been successfully resolved. The remaining case (C418/04 regarding the Birds Directive) remains open and outstanding issues relating to the planning system, aquaculture licensing and agri-environmental measures for the protection of endangered birds are in the process of being resolved.

The Commission has initiated further infringement proceedings against Ireland relating to the protection of bog habitat within Special Areas of Conservation and Natural Heritage Areas. The imposition of fines and the extent of fines in a particular case is for the Court of Justice to decide and will differ depending on the circumstances and the seriousness of the infringement. The approach taken by my Department is to avoid fines being imposed through working with the Commission, relevant public authorities and stakeholders to put in place the required measures in a timely manner. To date, Ireland has not had any fines imposed upon it arising from failures in meeting its obligations under the Birds or Habitats Directives.

Annals of Inisfallen

 421. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan if he will ask the University of Oxford, where the original book of the Annals of Inisfallen is kept, to have it returned on loan for a period of time to Killarney Town Council so it can be put on display; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [40730/13]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan I refer the Deputy to my reply to Question No 18 (Ref: PQ 38454/13) of 18 September 2013.

Turf Cutting Compensation Scheme Payments

 422. Deputy Pat Breen Information on Pat Breen Zoom on Pat Breen asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan when payment of bog compensation will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40852/13]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan An application for compensation under the cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme has been received by my Department from the individual referred to in the Deputy's Question. I am advised that a payment of €1,500 in respect of Year 1 of 15 (2011) and a payment of €1,500 in respect of Year 2 of 15 (2012) have been made to this applicant.

  The qualifying criteria for the cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme are that:

- The claimant must have a legal interest in one of the 53 raised bog special areas of conservation – ownership or turbary right;

- The claimant must have been the owner or entitled to exercise turbary rights on the land in question on 25 May 2010;

- The turbary on the site must not be exhausted;

- The claimant must have been cutting turf on the land in question during the relevant five year period; and

- No turf cutting or associated activity is ongoing on the property.

  On a number of occasions, the applicant has been requested to forward information illustrating her legal interest in the site on which she claims to have been cutting turf, together with a map of the plot. This information and map has not yet been received by my Department. Once this is supplied, my Department will be in a position to process her application further with a view to the provision of compensation in respect of this year.

Heritage Council Funding

 423. Deputy Pat Deering Information on Patrick Deering Zoom on Patrick Deering asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan his plans to ensure that every local authority will have a heritage officer. [41038/13]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan It is a matter for each local authority to decide on whether to employ a Heritage Officer. Since 1999 the Heritage Council, which my Department funds, has supported the employment of Heritage Officers in local authorities. I understand that the Council is currently part-funding Heritage Officers in 28 local authorities.

Regulatory Impact Assessment Data

 424. Deputy Joanna Tuffy Information on Joanna Tuffy Zoom on Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan if he will provide an update on all regulatory impact statements carried out in respect of Bills in his Department since this Government took office; if he will list these Bills in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [41589/13]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan The position in my Department in relation to Bills and Regulatory Impact Statements (RIAs), as sought by the Deputy, is laid out in the following table.

Title Position
Irish Film Board (Amendment) Act 2011 Technical Act - no RIA required.
Houses of the Oireachtas Commission (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 2012 Act involved a more streamlined approach to the translation of legislation, with no changes to the regulatory framework – no RIA required.
Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2012 No significant impacts identified – no RIA required.
Gaeltacht Act 2012 No regulatory issues arose as status quo remained in place for Údarás na Gaeltachta - no RIA required.

Better Energy Homes Scheme Eligibility

 425. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte if persons residing here in receipt of a UK winter fuel payment are eligible for assistance through the better energy warmer homes scheme. [40466/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte I refer the Deputy to Parliamentary Question No. 355 of 9 July 2013. The position remains unchanged.

Official Languages Act 2003 Compliance

 426. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte the arrangements put in place by his Department to ensure compliance with the Official Languages Act, specifically requirements for signage in departmental offices, schools, 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 his Department were within the designated timeframes set out in legislation, and if not the reasoning for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40542/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte The information requested is being compiled and will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Legislative Process

 427. Deputy Kevin Humphreys Information on Kevin Humphreys Zoom on Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte if he will provide a list of the Acts or specific provisions of Acts under his Department that have not yet been commenced; if it is intended to commence the provision in each case; if so, when; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40595/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte In terms of Acts enacted by my Department since commencement of this Government in March 2011, only one section of an Act has not yet been commenced. This particular section is Section 17(2)(f) of the Energy (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2012, which deals with the appointment of gas emergency officers. Such officers will have powers to take appropriate measures in order to protect persons or property from dangers arising from LPG. It is intended to commence this provision in the near future.

EU Directives

 428. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte the level of compliance with European Union directives within his ministerial areas of responsibility; the current fines resulting from non-compliance and potential fines resulting from non-compliance to which the State is or may be exposed; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [40631/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte At any given time my Department is engaged in transposing a number of EU Directives. There are currently no cases where fines have been sought or are being paid resulting from non-compliance with EU Directives nor are there any cases which have been referred to the European Court of Justice for in this regard. There is one infringement case in my Department concerning transposition of Directive 2009/72/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 July 2009 concerning common rules for the internal market in electricity and repealing Directive 2003/54/EC. While the European Commission has issued a Reasoned Opinion on this case, the Department is in dialogue with the Attorney General's Office on how best to proceed to ensure full compliance with the Directive.

National Broadband Plan Implementation

 429. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte if he will provide the necessary funding as a matter of urgency for the roll-out of the national broadband scheme in County Kerry as the county is poorly serviced and the delay is having a negative impact on job creation as it is hindering small firms from starting up and existing businesses from expanding; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [40667/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte The Government's National Broadband Plan, which I published last Autumn, aims to radically change the broadband landscape in Ireland by ensuring that high speed broadband is available to all citizens and businesses, including those in County Kerry. This will be achieved by providing:

- a policy and regulatory framework that assists in accelerating and incentivising commercial investment, and

- a State-led investment for areas where it is not commercial for the market to invest.

Since the publication of the Plan, investments by the commercial sector are underway in both fixed line and wireless high speed broadband services. In order to progress the State-led investment for areas where it is not commercial for the market to invest, a full procurement process must be designed and EU State Aids approval must be obtained.

My Department is engaged in a comprehensive mapping exercise of the current and anticipated investment by the commercial sector to identify where the market is expected to deliver high speed broadband services over the coming years. The results of this mapping exercise will inform the precise areas that need to be targeted in the State-led investment as envisaged in the National Broadband Plan. Intensive technical, financial and legal preparations, including stakeholder engagement, are ongoing. The procurement process for the approved intervention will be carried out in accordance with EU and Irish procurement rules and it is expected that it will be launched in 2014.

Through the implementation of the National Broadband Plan, I am committed to ensuring that all parts of Ireland have access to high speed broadband, with a view to ensuring that all citizens and businesses can participate fully in a digitally enabled society.

Petroleum and Gas Exploration

 430. Deputy Michael Colreavy Information on Michael Colreavy Zoom on Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte if he has received any licensing applications from companies which propose to carry out onshore petroleum extraction but do not propose to use the method of hydraulic fracturing; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [40680/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Fergus O'Dowd): Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd It is current licensing policy that applications for petroleum authorisations in respect of onshore areas will not be considered pending the outcome of the Environmental Protection Agency's studies into the use of hydraulic fracturing, which are expected in early 2015. My Department is not in receipt of petroleum authorisation applications proposing onshore petroleum extraction.

Mobile Telephony Services Provision

 431. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte the reasons for the continuous decline in the quality of mobile telephone reception in a significant number of areas in County Kerry; if he will address this issue as a matter of priority; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [40684/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte The provision of mobile telecommunications networks within Ireland's competitive market is subject to a requirement to secure a wireless telegraphy licence to access the required radio spectrum. The award of such licenses, the imposition of terms and conditions to access that spectrum and the associated monitoring of compliance by licensed providers with those terms and conditions are matters for the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), which is independent in the exercise of its functions. Issues relating to the quality or consistency of service levels should therefore be brought to the attention of ComReg who will investigate to ensure service providers are complying with the terms and conditions of their licences. I expect that with the continued significant capital investments being made by mobile operators, the quality of mobile services will continue to improve across the country.


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