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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 326 - 343
 Header Item Arts Funding
 Header Item Heritage Sites
 Header Item EU Funding
 Header Item Broadcasting Service Provision
 Header Item Community Development Projects
 Header Item Wind Energy Generation
 Header Item Angling Sector Issues
 Header Item Departmental Agencies Issues
 Header Item Departmental Agencies Issues
 Header Item Departmental Agencies Expenditure
 Header Item Hydraulic Fracturing Policy
 Header Item Telecommunications Services Provision
 Header Item Broadcasting Service Provision

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 818 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 83 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 326 - 343

Arts Funding

 326. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan the extent to which his Department or bodies under his aegis have financially supported directly or indirectly various bodies of an artistic or cultural nature in County Kildare in each of the past four years to date; his expectations in this regard for the current and future years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44797/13]

 328. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan in relation to an examination of applications for grant aid from local community based musical or theatrical groups, if the existence of some such groups who have never received such assistance has come to attention; if any evaluation will be done with a view to addressing such issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44799/13]

 329. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan on the examination of applications for grant aid from local community based musical or theatrical groups in County Kildare, if the existence of some such groups who have never received such assistance has come to attention; if any evaluation will be done with a view to addressing such issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44800/13]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan I propose to take Questions Nos. 326, 328 and 329 together.

  The Government's policy on the arts is to promote and strengthen the arts in all its forms, to increase access to and participation in the arts, and to make the arts an integral and valued part of our national life. As the Deputy will be aware, primary responsibility for the promotion of the arts at all levels, throughout the country is devolved to the Arts Council. The Council is funded by my Department and is statutorily independent in its day-to-day operations, including funding decisions. In 2013, the Arts Council will receive an allocation of over €60.6 million in current, capital and EU Presidency funding. Details of all funding provided by the Arts Council to arts practitioners, arts groups and venues, including arts centres, are available on the Council's website at www.artscouncil.ie. In a wider context, the Arts Council support of a range of arts forms is set out in its strategic overview document entitled Developing the Arts in Ireland: Arts Council Strategic Overview 2011-2013. In this strategy document, which is available on the Council's website, its work and key strategic principles that inform its funding decisions are laid out.

  I have outlined previously for the Deputy a range of ways in which my Department and relevant bodies within its remit are supporting cultural and heritage initiatives in conjunction with local groups and communities. These include the following cultural tourism initiatives that have been wholly or partly funded by my Department:

 - St. Patrick's Day celebrations;

 - Music Day;

 - Culture Night;

 - Arts Council support of the Arts Festivals and Events scheme, which supports some 150 small arts festivals in towns and villages throughout Ireland each year;

 - Arts Council funding of arts centres and venues around the State, as well as the Council's funding of touring and dissemination of high-quality work in all disciplines through the national network of arts centres and venues;

 - The Arts Council partnership with local authorities and Art Officers throughout the country;

 - Funding of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann by my Department to support its work in the promotion of Irish traditional music;

 - Cultural and heritage events being held under the auspices of The Gathering;

 - Web-based projects being developed by my Department to promote greater appreciation and understanding of Ireland's heritage for residents and visitors alike;

 - Collaborative work with bodies and groups such as the Arts Council, the Heritage Council, the Irish Heritage Trust, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann and Music Network.

My Department also operates a philanthropic initiative for arts and culture organisations.

  I would also refer the Deputy to my previous replies in relation to these matters. In January last, I provided details of the number of applications received for grant-aid and other forms of support from applicants from County Kildare and the extent to which these applications were approved. My Department's website will be updated with details of grant-aid to organisations after the year end.

Heritage Sites

 327. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan the extent to which his Department continues to liaise and co-operate with the authorities in Northern Ireland in the promotion of heritage sites of Irish culture; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44798/13]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan My Department’s remit in relation to North-South co-operation includes Waterways Ireland and An Foras Teanga (comprising Foras na Gaeilge and Tha Boord o Ulstèr Scotch/The Ulster-Scots Agency), which both have a key role in promoting tourism and cultural diversity, understanding and development throughout the island of Ireland. My Department also works on a range of issues across the area of built heritage, arts and culture and the natural heritage with public agencies in Northern Ireland where opportunities for co-operation arise.

My Department provides core funding for the Heritage Council, which supports a range of initiatives involving co-operation with the authorities in Northern Ireland, including National Heritage Week, the Irish Walled Towns Network and the Museum Standards Programme of Ireland. I understand that this year Heritage Week included events from Counties Antrim and Down and that the Irish Walled Towns Network includes, as a founder member, Derry City, which this year celebrates the 400th anniversary of the laying out of the ground on which Derry’s walls were built. The Museum Standards Programme of Ireland, which sets out to raise standards of curatorship across Irish museums and galleries, includes, as one of its participants, the Museum of Free Derry. Many of the museums in the programme also participate in cross border initiatives under their own auspices, such as Donegal County Museum, Cavan County Museum and Monaghan Museum. In addition, I understand that Heritage Officers in border counties, who are part-funded by the Heritage Council, are involved in on-going co-operation and collaboration with their colleagues in Northern Ireland on heritage issues.

In September of this year, I hosted a seminar which was designed to gauge the interest of local authorities and community groups in pursuing full nomination of World Heritage Status for the sites on Ireland’s current Tentative List and to clarify all the elements involved in applying for and retaining such status. The seminar was attended by representatives of Armagh District Council in connection with the possibility of including Eamhain Mhacha/Navan Fort in the Royal Sites of Ireland nomination (currently comprised of Cashel, Dún Ailinne, the Hill of Uisneach, and the Rathcroghan and Tara Complexes). The promotion and marketing of the island of Ireland as a tourist designation is primarily a matter for Tourism Ireland, which, as all-island body, works in strategic partnership with Fáilte Ireland and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and with other industry partners to expand Ireland’s valuable tourism market and to highlight the unique qualities of Ireland’s national heritage abroad.

  Questions Nos. 328 and 329 answered with Question No. 326.

EU Funding

 330. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan the extent to which local community-based festivals have benefited from EU grant aid directly or indirectly, with particular reference to the specific grant aid for festivals in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [44801/13]

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 763 of 18 September 2013.

Broadcasting Service Provision

 331. Deputy Willie O'Dea Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte the mechanism that will be in place for future decisions by his Department in relation to the annual transfer to RTÉ in respect of the television licence. [44653/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte Under Section 123 of the Broadcasting Act, 2009, the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources may, with the approval of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, pay RTÉ in respect of each financial year an amount equal to the total television licence fee receipts in that year less (i) any expenses incurred in relation to the collection of those fees, and (ii) an amount being equal to 7% of these net television licence fee receipts which is paid under Section 156 of the Broadcasting Act 2009 to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) in respect of the Broadcasting Funding Scheme. The Communications Regulation (Postal Services) Act 2011, which was enacted on 2 August 2011, gives legal effect to the Government decision to distribute some of the net television licence fee monies to TG4. This figure for 2013 is determined to be €9.245m. There is no proposal at present to amend this arrangement.

Community Development Projects

 332. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte if he will provide a detailed breakdown of the way the €5 million community support scheme was spent (details supplied) which was intended for communities where commercial salmon fishing was a well-established activity and where its withdrawal demonstrably impacted on the economic and social fabric of the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44765/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte The Community Support Scheme (CSS) was administered through 14 LEADER companies and Comhdháil Oileáin na hÉireann in respect of island communities and Meitheal Forbartha na Gaeltachta Teoranta, in respect of the Gaeltacht areas. The closing date for receipt of applications was 31 March 2009 and final payments under the scheme were distributed by my Department to the Leader Companies in December 2009. The following table sets out the position in relation to the delivery of the scheme by each LEADER Company.

Leader Company Original allocation € *Revised allocation € Project draw-down € **Administration €
Clare Local Development Co Ltd 200,000 183,000 123,560 30,000
Comhar na nOileain Teoranta 207,000 189,405 141,003 31,050
Donegal Local Development Co Ltd 300,000 294,930 249,930 45,000
Galway Rural Development Co Ltd 201,000 182,047 65,355 11,467
Inishowen Development Partnership 308,000 282,367 198,117 46,200
Louth Leader Rural Development Co 100,000 90,532 Nil 5,325
Meath Partnership 100,000 91,500 71,204 15,000
Meitheal Forbartha na Gaeltachta Teo 906,000 842,800 738,300 104,500
North & East Kerry Development 176,000 161,040 123,137 26,400
Sligo Leader Partnership Co 150,000 137,250 108,346 22,500
South & East Cork Area Development 200,000 188,000 158,000 30,000
South Kerry Development Partnership 374,000 342,210 286,110 56,100
Waterford Leader Partnership 676,000 615,400 346,936 70,000
West Cork Development Partnership 777,000 733,300 535,836 70,000
West Limerick Resources 200,000 183,000 140,113 30,000
Wexford Local Development 100,000 91,500 58,553 15,000
TOTAL €4,975,000 €4,608,281 3,344,500 €608,542


*10% reduction on allocations applied from April 2009 as part of the budgetary adjustments.

**Administration costs 15% of allocation, subject to a maximum of €70,000.

(In the case of Meitheal Forbartha na Gaeltachta, this company also implemented the scheme on behalf of Comhar Iorrais Leader Teo). Funding was provided against matured liabilities and consequently unspent funds were not drawn down by the Leader Companies.

Wind Energy Generation

 333. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte the steps he is taking to ensure that Irish workers, crew, boat builders and installation companies are given priority when installing offshore wind infrastructure, supporting and creating employment in a growing industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44826/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte Ireland has one of the best offshore renewable energy resources in Europe. Cost effective harnessing of the potential of this sector will be crucial to reducing our dependence on expensive fossil fuel imports, creating a low carbon energy system and delivering jobs in the green economy. My Department is currently finalising an Offshore Renewable Energy Development Plan (OREDP). Informed by the findings of a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), the OREDP will identify how best to coordinate action across the environmental, energy and economic development policy areas in order to realise Ireland's abundant offshore renewable energy potential, using both offshore wind, and emerging ocean, renewable technologies.

In addition, my Department is working closely with the United Kingdom Government to pursue the opportunity of harnessing the renewable energy resources for export. Renewable energy export holds the prospect for significant job creation in the future, both in the building and maintenance of generation installations and the manufacture of components in Ireland. All relevant State agencies, particularly in the enterprise area, will have to co-ordinate their activities early in the process to ensure we maximise the employment potential of export projects. This opportunity has already been identified by the Industrial Development Agency and Enterprise Ireland in their clean technology growth strategies.

Angling Sector Issues

 334. Deputy Michael Moynihan Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte if he has viewed the Inland Fisheries Ireland report compiled by Tourism Development Ireland and launched on 18 July 2013 which states that the salmon and sea trout angling subsector alone accounts for 189,000 anglers in 2012 generating a value to the economy based of IFI's calculated average spend of between €360 and €1,723 per angler of €310 million; if he will confirm that only 19,899 licences for game angling for salmon and sea trout were sold and distributed by the IFI in 2011; the reason for this discrepancy; if he will give assurances that the IFI is not overseeing a situation where 90% of wild salmon and sea trout caught by rod and line are illegal, undocumented or entering the food chain in a traceable fashion.  [44161/13]

 335. Deputy Michael Moynihan Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte if he will explain the difference in value accorded to salmon and game angling in Ireland in the 2014 Tourism Development Ireland report of €310 million which is being used as justification for investment in the sector, versus the value of €38 million at the sale of 19,899 licences generated using the same TDI methodology.  [44162/13]

 336. Deputy Michael Moynihan Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte if he will explain the significant increase in value placed on salmon and game angling in Ireland in the 2013 Tourism Development Ireland report of €310 million on the value of €38 million for the sales figure of 19,899 licences generated using the same methodology and the value of €4.6 million for the sector as presented to the Oireachtas in the April 2003 Indecon report compiled for the IFI's predecessor, the Central Fisheries Board.  [44163/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte I propose to take Questions Nos. 334 to 336, inclusive, together.

The most comprehensive study of the recreational angling sector ever undertaken was carried out by Tourism Development Ireland (TDI) on behalf of Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI). I am advised that TDI is a renowned and widely respected professional consultancy company with a global presence. TDI have been commissioned internationally by such clients as the United Nations, the European Union, the World Bank, the World Tourism Organisation, the Irish American Cultural Institute and a range of multinational companies. Government Departments and Agencies from EU Member States and from countries worldwide have also engaged TDI for expert advice and analysis. In Ireland, TDI has carried out work for the Marine Institute, Failte Ireland, Udaras na Gaeltacht as well as a host of Local Authorities and regional organisations. In the Northern Ireland and cross border context its clients include Waterways Ireland, Tourism Ireland, Northern Ireland Tourist Board and the Loughs Agency.

The principal results of the professional and wide-ranging study of Ireland’s recreational angling sector, which was published in July 2013, estimate that recreational angling in Ireland contributes €755 million to the Irish economy and supports in excess of 10,000 jobs in peripheral and rural areas. I am advised that the results in this report are based on sound economic principles and have been peer reviewed before publication. IFI have confirmed that the Deputy is correct that 19,899 salmon licenses were sold in 2011. However, it is important to be cognisant of the specific question asked in the published survey, as well as the incidence of targeting multiple species.

At no point does this study reference a specific monetary value for any individual species. I understand that there has been comment attributed to a UK based website on the published study. IFI advise that having examined the figures put forward in that comment, it appears that the estimated maximum participation values for one species were erroneously mixed and inappropriately extrapolated with average spend figures for all species which unfortunately underpin a complete misunderstanding of the study’s findings. I have arranged for a copy of the study to be provided to the Deputy to afford him an opportunity to review it fully and would be happy to arrange a full briefing with IFI personnel.

Departmental Agencies Issues

 337. Deputy Michael Moynihan Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte if he will state the Oireachtas joint committee to which the State agency Inland Fisheries Ireland is accountable; the dates and attendees at any presentations made by IFI to any official body of the Oireachtas or the European Commission since the establishment of the agency in 2009; and if these presentations were on matters of policy or financial accountability.  [44164/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI), established on 1 July 2010, is an agency of my Department, which appears before the Committee on Transport and Communications as required. At the invitation of the Joint Sub-Committee on Fisheries of the Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine, IFI attended the sub-committee in March 2013. The details requested by the Deputy are set out in the table below.

Date Attendee(s) Presentation made to whom Matters of policy or financial accountability
December 2011 Dr Ciaran Byrne EU Commission Matter of Policy
By invitation Dr Paddy Gargan NPWS and DAFM also present Matter of Policy
March 2013 Dr Ciaran Byrne Joint Sub-Committee on Fisheries  
By invitation Suzanne Campion    

Departmental Agencies Issues

 338. Deputy Michael Moynihan Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte the date on which Inland Fisheries Ireland last laid a copy of its annual report before the Oireachtas, as required by section 47 of the Inland Fisheries Act 2010.  [44165/13]

 339. Deputy Michael Moynihan Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte the date on which Inland Fisheries Ireland will comply with section 47 of the Inland Fisheries Act 2010 and lay an annual report before the Oireachtas in accordance with its statutory obligations.  [44166/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte I propose to take Questions Nos. 338 and 339 together.

In accordance with Section 47 of the Inland Fisheries Act, 2010 Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) is obliged to prepare and submit an annual report on its activities to the Minister who in turn is required to lay the Annual Report before each House of the Oireachtas. The 2011 IFI Annual Report, which reflected the first full year of IFI's operation in its current structure as a national body, was laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas on 7 August, 2013. The 2012 IFI Annual Report was received in my Department within the statutory timeline and will be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas at the earliest opportunity.

Departmental Agencies Expenditure

 340. Deputy Michael Moynihan Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte if he will provide a breakdown in tabular form of the 2011, 2012 and 2013 budgets of Inland Fisheries Ireland, including moneys spent on research, wages, pension, current activities and capital expenditure, and if he will inform the Oireachtas of the reasons accepted by him or his Department to justify any increase in budgetary allocation to the IFI since its establishment. [44167/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) was established on 1 July 2010 following the enactment of the Inland Fisheries Ireland Act 2010, with the merger of the seven Regional and the Central Fisheries Boards. Direct Exchequer funding for IFI was reduced by €2.582 million in 2010 compared to 2009 which is mainly attributable to savings arising from the restructuring of the inland fisheries sector. It is not possible to fully disaggregate on an item by item basis the savings which have arisen from the merger of the former regional boards; however it is clear that significant administrative savings have been made.

  The establishment of IFI has facilitated more efficient and effective management of the inland fisheries resource. In addition, it has brought to bear a national perspective to formulating policy which is more streamlined, coherent and integrated. There is also a single allocation of funding to the organisation on a national basis. IFI are also employing new technologies, such as covert CCTV cameras, use of kayaks to conduct silent patrols along rivers and access areas which previously would have been difficult to get into unnoticed, in order to significantly augment coverage and increase time spent by officers on surveillance techniques which are more resource efficient to assist in the detection of illegal activities.

  The Exchequer funding drawn down by IFI from my Department for 2010 (the year of IFI's establishment), 2011 and 2012 is as follows: 2010 - €26.479 million; 2011 – €24.971 million; 2012 – €25.448 million. The funding allocated and available for draw down in 2013 is €28.062 million (including once off capital allocation of €3m). Overall, as compared with the position prior to the establishment of IFI, Exchequer funding from 2009 to 2013 has reduced by €1.012 million (€4.012 million if the once capital allocation of €3 million in 2013 is excluded). The 2013 once-off additional capital allocation of €3 million was ring-fenced for the procurement of a new Headquarters for IFI as part of a planned property rationalisation as the organisation seeks, in line with Government Policy, to exit from expensive leases. This rationalisation strategy will generate efficiencies and also savings over time in relation to lease costs and in terms of significantly better energy efficiency of the new HQ.

  The table below details money spent on research, pay, pension, current activities and capital expenditure. It should be noted that Exchequer allocations do not fully cover IFI's costs and the shortfall is made up from IFI’s own resources which mainly comes from licence, permit and contract income.

Actual Expenditure Incurred Jan – Dec 2011 €000’s Jan – Dec 2012 €000’s Jan – Sept 2013 €000’s
Pay net of social welfare receipts 16,923 16,722 12,164
Pensions (including gratuities) net of Superannuation and Spouses & Children receipts from staff 2,055 2,359 1,327
Subtotal of pay costs 18,978 19,081 13,491
Current Activities net of pay and pensions excluding Research 8,865 9,166 6,003
Research current activities net of pay and pensions 1,168 1,183 787
Capital expenditure 1,160 770 1,928
Total Expenditure 30,172 30,200 22,210

Hydraulic Fracturing Policy

 341. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte if he will provide an update regarding the fracking process here (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44341/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte Three onshore licensing options were granted in February 2011, by the previous Government, two over parts of the North West Carboniferous (Lough Allen) Basin and one over parts of County Clare. These licensing options conferred upon the holders the first right to apply for an exploration licence over the areas concerned. I can confirm that two of the three companies, (Tamboran Resources and Enegi) have submitted applications for a follow-on exploration licence.

I have made it clear on a number of occasions that any application for an exploration licence that proposed the use of hydraulic fracturing as part of an unconventional gas exploration programme would be subject to an environmental impact assessment. I have also made clear that such an environmental impact assessment would be informed by the findings of further research to be commissioned by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and that no decision would be made on any proposal for the use of hydraulic fracturing in exploration drilling in Ireland until there has been time to consider the outcome of this further EPA research. I do not propose to consider applications for exploration authorisations in respect of other onshore areas until the EPA research has concluded.

Telecommunications Services Provision

 342. 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 immediately intervene and assist a community (details supplied) in County Kerry, in what is now a major health and safety issue as emergency services cannot be contacted in the event of an emergency; if he will request Eircom to immediately address and rectify the abysmal level of land-line service in this area that has been ongoing for a number of years now; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [44634/13]

 344. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte the position regarding problems with the land-line phone service in Inny Valley, Mastergeehy, Killarney, County Kerry, where up to 40 homes are affected by this problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [44728/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte I propose to take Questions Nos. 342 and 344 together.

All citizens are entitled to reasonable access to basic telephone services at fixed locations in accordance with the universal service provisions contained in the European Communities (Electronic Communications Networks and Services) (Universal Service and User’s Rights) Regulations 2011 (S.I. 337/2011). It is a statutory function of the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), the independent market regulator, to regulate the performance of the universal service obligation. ComReg has designated Eircom as the universal service provider (USP) for a period of two years up to 30 June 2014. Under this obligation Eircom is required to meet binding performance targets regarding the provision of connections to a public telecommunications network, the fault rate occurrence in the provision of associated communications services and fault repair times when faults do occur. Any failure by Eircom to meet these targets is a matter for ComReg; I have no statutory role in this process. I have therefore copied the Deputies complaints to ComReg for further investigation.

Broadcasting Service Provision

 343. Deputy Michael Moynihan Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte his views on the reduction in the annual transfer to RTE in respect of the TV licence; the impact it will have on the output from RTE; and if his Department was consulted prior to the decision. [44669/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte The 2014 Budget provided for a €2.5 billion adjustment in the Government's fiscal position. Expenditure cuts of €1.6 billion were central to this adjustment and difficult decisions were required across all Departmental budgets. By its very nature, this process involved detailed and ongoing consideration at Departmental and Ministerial level of the range of potential expenditure reductions, some of which were only mooted shortly before settling of the Budget by Government. As part of this process, a decision was taken by Government on the proposal of the Department of Social Protection to reduce by €5m the amount required to be paid to my Department by the Department of Social Protection for free television licences. This measure will result in RTÉ's licence fee income being cut by over €4.6m from the start of 2014, as well as a reduction of around €350,000 in the amount available to the independent production sector through the BAI's Sound & Vision Fund.

The BAI's Five Year Review of the Funding of the Public Service Broadcasters (PSBs) was published in July of this year and made a number of recommendations in relation to the future funding of the PSBs. It is my intention that the recommendations made in this Review will serve as the basis for future decisions on the funding of the PSBs. RTÉ continues to make considerable efforts to achieve its target of breaking even at the end of this year and I am informed that RTÉ remains on course to achieve this outcome. While the prevailing challenging financial circumstances and this reduction in its licence fee revenue may have an impact on the provision of some RTÉ services next year, I am hopeful that RTÉ can continue to protect and promote its core public service output in 2014.


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