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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 282-298
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Water Meters Installation
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing Maintenance
 Header Item Planning Issues
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing Provision
 Header Item International Agreements
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing Provision
 Header Item Pyrite Issues
 Header Item Social and Affordable Housing Expenditure
 Header Item Non-Principal Private Residence Charge Collection
 Header Item Employment Rights Issues
 Header Item Charity Sector Remuneration
 Header Item Juvenile Offenders
 Header Item Departmental Properties

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 820 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 84 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 282-298

Departmental Expenditure

 282. Deputy Lucinda Creighton Information on Lucinda Creighton Zoom on Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he will provide in tabular form for each year since 2003, the total cumulative amount in euro paid by his Department to companies (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48130/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Payments made by my Department to the relevant companies for each year from 2008 are set out in the following table. The data do not include costs associated with the Planning Tribunal.

Company (1) 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
A and L Goodbody Solicitors - € 6,075 € 14,925 € 10,374 -
Arthur Cox Solicitors € 65,807 - € 63,960 € 97,510 € 61,307
Matheson Ormsby Prentice Solicitors - - €1,406 - (2) €196,198
McCann Fitzgerald Solicitors € 93,703 € 25,375 € 8,408 - -
William Fry Solicitors € 113,324 - - - -


(1) No payments were made to Mason Hayes & Curran .   

(2) Costs arising from a judicial review.   

Information in respect of earlier years is not readily available and its compilation would involve a disproportionate amount of time and work .   

Departmental Expenditure

 283. Deputy Lucinda Creighton Information on Lucinda Creighton Zoom on Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he will provide in tabular form for each year since 2003, the total cumulative amount in euro paid by his Department to senior counsel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48154/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Payments made by my Department to Senior Counsel for each year from 2008 are set out in the following table. The data do not include costs associated with the Planning Tribunal .     

2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
€28,280
€23,484
€54,957
€0
€ 21,033


  Information in respect of earlier years is not readily available and its compilation would involve a disproportionate amount of time and work.

Water Meters Installation

 284. Deputy Joe Higgins Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he is aware that contractors receiving funds from his Department to install water meters across the State ostensibly so that they can employ persons to install said meters can simultaneously obtain workers on the JobBridge scheme funded by the Department of Social Protection leading to a situation where contractors can retain more profit from the funds than they receive from his Department. [48186/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The Water Services Act 2013 provides for the establishment of Irish Water as an independent subsidiary within the Bord Gáis Éireann Group and assigns the necessary powers to allow Irish Water to undertake the water metering programme. Irish Water has confirmed to my Department that neither it nor its contractors have employed meter installers through the JobBridge scheme. The metering programme is being funded by a commercial loan from the National Pensions Reserve Fund to Irish Water.

Social and Affordable Housing Maintenance

 285. Deputy Dessie Ellis Information on Dessie Ellis Zoom on Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan his further plans for an estate (details supplied) in County Wicklow following the spending of €1 million to renovate eight units in the estate. [48247/13]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan The Glending Estate in Blessington is comprised of 69 social and 14 affordable houses. Since its completion in 2009, this estate has been subject to a number of construction related problems and flooding issues. In late 2011, Wicklow County Council sought funding from my Department to assist in bringing the estate up to a satisfactory standard. Subsequently a budget of over €2.3 million was approved for a programme of works to rectify a number of defects in the estate including upgrading of the surface water drains, replacement of render to houses, addressing problems with plumbing and central heating and repairs to roofs and chimneys.

To date over €1.7 million of the approved budget has been recouped to Wicklow County Council. My Department understand s the Council is continuing to address the defects with a view to bring ing the Glending Estate up to n acceptable standard.

Planning Issues

 286. Deputy Dessie Ellis Information on Dessie Ellis Zoom on Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if his attention has been drawn to the fact that an estate (details supplied) in County Wicklow which received planning permission from the local authority, was built on a flood plain, and if he will instruct Wicklow County Council to conduct an investigation into the awarding of this planning permission. [48269/13]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan The decision as to whether to grant planning permission in any particular case is a matter for the relevant planning authority in the first instance, and for An Bord Pleanála in the event of an appeal. In making decisions on planning applications, planning authorities and the Board must consider the proper planning and sustainable development of the area, having regard to the provisions of the development plan, any submissions or observations received and relevant nisterial or Government policies, including current guidelines issued by my Department under section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000. The Act also provides for the inclusion of development plan objectives for the carrying out of flood risk assessment for the purposes of regulating, restricting or controlling development in areas at risk of flooding.

  In November 2009 my Department issued Guidelines for Planning Authorities on the Planning System and Flood Risk Management. These are aimed at ensuring a more consistent, rigorous and systematic approach to flood risk identification, assessment and management within the planning system. These guidelines provide, inter alia, that development in areas at risk of flooding, particularly floodplains, should be avoided unless there are wider sustainability grounds that justify appropriate development and where the risk can be reduced or managed to an acceptable level. The guidelines were issued under Section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, and planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála are required to have regard to them in the performance of their functions.

  These statutory guidelines, when taken together with the legislative measures in the planning code, provide a sound basis for planning authorities to identify, assess and take appropriate steps to manage flood risk in a sustainable manner within their area. I am satisfied that the Guidelines are being implemented effectively to ensure that future development takes account of these policies and I will continue to keep them under review in this regard. I have therefore no plans to direct the Council as proposed.   

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

 287. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the total social housing stock in County Meath. [48279/13]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan My Department collates and publishes a wide range of housing and planning statistics that inform the preparation and evaluation of policy, and those data are available on my Department’s website www.environ.ie. Data on the social housing stock broken down by   local authority area are included in this range.

International Agreements

 288. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if a cost-benefit analysis has been undertaken by his Department on the impact of Ireland signing the Antarctic treaty; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [48319/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan While my Department has had some discussion with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade regarding the implications of Ireland ratifying the Antarctic Treaty, a cost benefit analysis has not yet been undertaken by my Department on such ratification.

Nonetheless, I support the primary objective of the Antarctic Treaty which is to ensure, in the interests of all mankind, that Antarctica continues to be used for peaceful purposes and will not become the scene or subject of international discord. The Antarctic Treaty System (ATS) at this stage includes the original Treaty, the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals, the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources and the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Treaty.

Social and Affordable Housing Provision

 289. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the number of persons on the social housing list in County Meath broken down by area; his plans to address the lengthening waiting lists; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [48354/13]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan My Department does not hold information on the number of households on local authority waiting lists. These figures fluctuate as households are allocated housing and new households apply for support.

  In accordance with Section 21 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, I directed all housing authorities to prepare a summary of social housing assessments carried out in their areas at 7 May 2013. The results of this assessment, when available, will detail the number of households on waiting lists in each local authority by a range of categories and will provide an important insight into the level and type of need for social housing support across the country.

  The last summary assessment carried out, at 31 March, 2011, found that there were 98,318 households on local authority waiting lists. The full results of this assessment are available on on my Department’s website www.environ.ie and the Housing Agency’s website www.housing.ie.   

  The Government’s housing policy statement, published in June 2011, clearly identifies that the priority for Government will be to meet the most acute needs of households applying for social housing support. I am determined to ensure that the social housing programme optimises the delivery of social housing and the return for the resources invested. To achieve this, it is essential that we tailor the use of available Exchequer supports to prevailing conditions and explore the full range of solutions to address housing needs.

  In spite of the current challenging circumstances, almost 70% of the budget for my Department will be allocated to support social housing in 2014 with an investment of over half a billion euro on a range of programmes. Meeting social housing need within the available resources will necessitate smarter and more innovative approaches in order to maximise output. In 2014, I will continue to focus the available resources towards the most vulnerable and disadvantaged sectors of the community.

Pyrite Issues

 290. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the approach that will be taken in deciding those houses to benefit from the €10 million funding announced for pyrite resolution; his plans for future funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48358/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Initially, €10 million is being made available to my Department to support the implementation of a pyrite remediation scheme. Additional funding will be provided over the next two years, following consultation with my colleague the nister for Public Expenditure and Reform in the context of the capital stimulus programme to be announced in early 2014, to deal with all dwellings deemed by the Pyrite Resolution Board to be in need of remediation.

The Pyrite Resolution Board is responsible for overseeing the effective implementation of the pyrite remediation scheme. The Housing and Sustainable Communities Agency will provide support to the Board in the delivery of the scheme. In determining priorities for remediation works, the Board will have regard to a broad range of factors including , among other things, the severity of the damage to affected dwellings , the number of affected dwellings in an estate and the alternative options (if any) open to the homeowners to have their dwellings remediated . In so far as it is possible the Board will attempt to group affected dwellings together for the purposes of remediation pro jects in order to achieve cost efficienci es through economies of scale.

The initial phase of the remediation programme will deal with approximately 1,000 dwellings which, it is estimated, are in need of repair over a two year period. The post-2015 position will be dealt with having regard to the position at that time and developments in the interim . While it is not possible, at this time, to estimate the number of dwellings that may require remediation post-2015, the considered view is that the numbers will not be as large as previously envisaged .

  Questions Nos. 291 and 292 answered with Question No. 259.

Social and Affordable Housing Expenditure

 293. Deputy Derek Nolan Information on Derek Nolan Zoom on Derek Nolan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan the way he plans to allocate the €30 million announced for a new social housing programme in Budget 2014 to each local authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48365/13]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan I expect the recently announced €30 million additional Exchequer investment in social housing to deliver up to 500 local authority homes for families on the housing waiting list. Approximately half of this investment will facilitate the construction of new infill housing developments in areas with a high demand for social housing. It is also intended that €15 million will be invested in bringing vacant and boarded-up local authority houses back into productive use.

The detailed arrangements for the implementation of the two measures are being developed by my Department at present. I intend to announce these arrangements as soon as possible with a view to having the investment programme up and running as early as possible in 2014. My Department will be requesting local authorities to submit proposals for inclusion under both measures in due course.

Non-Principal Private Residence Charge Collection

 294. Deputy John Deasy Information on John Deasy Zoom on John Deasy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he will examine the possibility of introducing an easy-payment system for persons who inadvertently did not pay their non-private principal private residence charge in time and who wish to comply but have accumulated penalties and are unable to pay this amount in one full payment as is currently requested; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48374/13]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan The Local Government (Charges) Act 2009 broadened the revenue base of local authorities by introducing a charge on non-principal private residences. The self-assessed charge is set at €200 per annum and liability for it falls, in the main, on owners of rental, holiday and vacant properties.   

  Under the Act, it is a function of a local authority to collect Non-Principal Private Residence Charges, and late payment fees due to it and all Charges and late payment fees imposed and payable to a local authority are under the care and management of the local authority concerned.

  I have issued guidelines to local authorities in relation to the operation of the “care and management” provisions of the legislation, including in instances in which genuine hardship in having to discharge a liability in a single payment can be demonstrated. In such cases, local authorities may enter into payment arrangements for the discharge of outstanding liabilities in instalments over a specified period.   

  This year will be the final year of the operation of the Non-Principal Private Residence Charge. Since its introduction in 2009, the Charge has been an important source of revenue for local authorities and has funded the provision of vital local services.   

Employment Rights Issues

 295. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding section 37 of the Employment Equality Acts 1998 to 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47873/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter As the Deputy will be aware, this issue has been extensively discussed in the Seanad in the context of two Private Members Bills. I consider that the operation of section 37 needs to be reviewed to ensure that it in practice operates to ensure a more appropriate balance between freedom of religion, the rights of individuals and the obligations of the state to vindicate those rights in the case of publicly-funded educational and medical services. As indicated in the Government's contributions to the most recent of these Bills the Employment Equality Amendment (No. 2) Bill 2013 - published by Senator Bacik and others - the Government accepts in principle that amendment to the existing framework is needed. The Government is also committed to taking forward that Bill, subject to any amendments that may be required, taking account of the outcome of a public consultation process which it felt was desirable in advance and legal issues arising.

As I announced on the occasion of their appointment on the 16th April 2013, I have asked the members designate of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission to examine, as a priority, the potential impact of section 37 of the Employment Equality Acts on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, to undertake an extensive consultative process and formal assessment of the options for its amendment and to let me have their recommendations.

I understand that Commission is acting on this request and is carrying out a public consultation on this issue. Submissions can be made directly to them by any interested party, including individual persons who have a view on the issue. I also understand that the deadline for submissions has been extended to 13 November 2013. I look forward to receiving a report from the Commission with its recommendations in due course.

Charity Sector Remuneration

 296. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the action he is taking to ensure that salaries and wages for management and executives in the charity sector are reduced and that no bonuses are being paid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47878/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter Setting the levels of remuneration of charity employees is a matter for individual charities themselves. This will remain the case when the Charities Act 2009 comes into force. Though it should be noted that charity trustees cannot be remunerated for carrying out their duties as trustees.

The reporting requirements that will apply to charities once the Act is in force will increase transparency across the sector. Charities will be required to provide annual reports to the independent regulatory authority that is to be established under the Act. These reports will be made available to the public. In this way, members of the public will have access to greater information about how charities use their resources, including public donations. In July, the Government approved my plans to proceed with the establishment of the new Authority and it is envisaged that it will come into operation next year.

Juvenile Offenders

 297. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the number of juvenile offenders in each county; the programmes under his Department's remit in place in each county to combat juvenile offences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47925/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Annual Report of the Committee appointed to monitor the effectiveness of the Diversion Programme under Part 4 of the Children Act 2001, as amended, includes details of the number of incidents of youth crime and the number of individual children referred to the Programme each year. This information is broken down by Garda Region and Division and not by every county. The reports for period 2004 -2011 are available on the website of the Irish Youth Justice Service (www.iyjs.ie). I expect to be able to publish the report for 2012 shortly. However, in the meantime, I have been informed by Garda Commissioner that 12,246 children were referred to the Diversion Programme in 2012. This represents a 4% reduction on the number of children referred in 2011. The following table gives a breakdown by Garda Region and Division.

  Tackling youth crime is a key priority for this Government. The youth justice system should be considered in its entirety, from the Garda Diversion Programme to the Children Courts. The principles of the Children Act 2001 require the various authorities to apply, incrementally, a series of "filters" or tests to each case where a child comes into conflict with the law.

  The first main filter is the Garda Diversion Programme, involving at different stages and depending on the seriousness of the offence, the informal caution and the formal (supervised) caution. Children admitted to the Programme engage with a Garda Juvenile Liaison Officer (JLO). JLOs receive training in restorative justice practices and mediation skills and work closely with local Community Gardaí. Where appropriate, children may be referred to a Garda Youth Diversion Project (GYDP). The GYDP are funded and administered by the Community Programmes Unit of the Irish Youth Justice Service. This unit makes up the Department of Justice and Equality element of IYJS which is located in the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. Garda Youth Diversion Projects are nationwide, community-based crime prevention initiatives which seek to divert young people from involvement in anti-social and/or criminal behaviour. The following table shows a breakdown of the projects by Garda Region and Division. Other community based projects supported by IYJS include 5 Local Drugs Task Force Projects (four in Cork City and one in Dublin West) and 18 Young Persons Probation (YPP) Community Projects. Sixteen of the YPP Community Projects operate locally and the remaining two operate at a national level.

  The second main filter is the non-custodial sanctions available to the Courts, including dismissal under the Probation Act, unsupervised sanctions (fines, disqualification, peace bond, curfew etc.), Probation supervised sanctions (community service and other community sanctions). Finally, as a last resort, detention may be used.

  Other Government Departments can also support youth crime prevention through social measures which promote the well-being of people and encourage pro-social behaviour through social, economic, health and educational measures, with a particular emphasis on children and youth, and focus on the risk and protective factors associated with crime and victimisation. While the principal motivation for many of these responses is one of welfare and equality, programmes of this nature have also been found to reduce offending by improving life opportunities and outcomes generally. For example, my colleague the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald T.D. provides funding to support the provision of quality youth provision throughout the country. This funding supports the provision of youth services and programmes to young people including those from disadvantaged communities. Targeted supports for disadvantaged, marginalised and at risk young people are provided through the Special Projects for Youth Scheme, the Young Peoples Facilities and Services Fund and youth-related Local Drugs Task Force Projects.

  Table: Number of children referred to the Diversion Programme in 2012

Region Region Total Division Total Number of Children referred Number of Garda Youth Diversion Projects
Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) 3910 DMR Eastern 431 3
- - DMR North Central 291 5
- - DMR Northern 1013 4
- - DMR. South Central 217 2
- - DMR Southern 801 7
- - DMR Western 1157 10
(The Dublin Region has 31 Garda Youth Diversion Projects, 8 Young Persons Probation Community Projects and 1 IYJS-funded Local Drugs Task Force projects) - - - -
Eastern Region 1624 Kildare 447 2
- - Laois/Offaly 307 5
- - Meath 305 2
- - Westmeath 225 2
- - Wicklow 340 2
(The Eastern Region has 13 Garda Youth Diversion Projects)        
Northern Region 1267 Cavan/Monaghan 341 2
- - Donegal 413 2
- - Louth 337 4
- - Sligo/Leitrim 176 1
(The Northern Region has 9 Garda Youth Diversion Projects and 1 Young Persons Probation Community Project) - - - -
South Eastern Region 1422 Kilkenny/Carlow 357 2
- - Tipperary 320 4
- - Waterford 380 5
- - Wexford 365 3
(The South Eastern Region has 14 Garda Youth Diversion Projects)        
Southern Region 2525 Cork City 765 7
- - Cork North 408 3
- - Cork West 292 1
- - Kerry 397 6
- - Limerick 663 6
(The Southern Region has 23 Garda Youth Diversion Projects, 6 Young Persons Probation Community Projects and 4 IYJS-funded Local Drug Task Force projects) - - - -
Western Region 1389 Clare 324 2
- - Galway 564 4
- - Mayo 264 2
- - Roscommon/Longford 237 2
(The Western Region has 10 Garda Youth Diversion Projects and 1 Young Persons Probation Community Project) - - - -
Outside Jurisdiction 109   109 -
National Total - - 12246 100

Departmental Properties

 298. Deputy Eric Byrne Information on Eric J. Byrne Zoom on Eric J. Byrne asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the person who receives the income from the billboards placed on the site in the control of the prison service at the junction of Old Kilmainham Road and South Circular Road; the future plans for this site; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48207/13]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The signage referred to has been placed without prior approval and thus no income accrues.  Signage has been removed from time to time but has reappeared within a short period.  No decision has been made regarding the future use of the property. 


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