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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 406-421
 Header Item Social Welfare Appeals
 Header Item Social Welfare Benefits
 Header Item Carer's Allowance Appeals
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Social Welfare Code
 Header Item Domiciliary Care Allowance Applications
 Header Item Wildlife Regulations
 Header Item National Monuments
 Header Item Caiteachas Údarás na Gaeltachta
 Header Item Commemorative Events
 Header Item National Library
 Header Item Departmental Staff Data
 Header Item Inland Waterways Development

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 826 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 109 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 406-421

Social Welfare Appeals

 406. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if an appeal will be expedited in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Carlow. [1708/14]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton I am advised by the Social Welfare Appeals Office that an Appeals Officer, having fully considered all the evidence, disallowed the appeal of the person concerned by way of summary decision.

  However, following the submission of additional evidence the Appeals Officer agreed to review the case, and as a result of that review, the appeal was allowed. The person concerned has been notified of the decision.

  The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

Social Welfare Benefits

 407. Deputy Billy Timmins Information on Billy Timmins Zoom on Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the position in relation to a person in receipt of a pension who had the telephone allowance; if there are any exemptions or allowances for persons living alone who have monitored phone alarms or panic buttons and rely on landline telephone connection; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [1709/14]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The overall concern of the Government in recent budgets has been to protect the primary weekly social welfare rates. Maintaining the rate of the State pension and other core payments is critical in relation to protecting people from poverty. To allow us to protect these core payments, we have had to look very carefully at other additional payments. The cost of the telephone allowance scheme had risen each year with the number of eligible customers also increasing significantly. In 2007 there were some 316,000 people receiving the telephone allowance compared to almost 396,000 at the end of September 2013, an increase of 25%. Each year almost 10,000 extra customers became eligible for the allowance because of the increased number of pension recipients.

The telephone allowance was abolished from 1 January 2014. I am not in a position to make exemptions to this decision. I am keenly aware of the impact on the Department’s customers and particularly those who are living alone. However, in ending the telephone allowance my Department has been able to keep at the same rates the other elements of the household benefits package, including the free electricity/gas allowance and the free television licence. We have also retained the fuel allowance, free travel and the living alone increase.

The monthly allowances under the household benefits package are a contribution towards the cost of services; they are not intended to meet those costs in full. The ending of the telephone allowance of €9.50 per month (or about €2.20 per week) will not result in the automatic removal of any landline service linked to a personal alarm.

The telephone allowance was introduced at a time when telephones were expensive and uncommon and a landline service was the only option available to the customer. The market has changed enormously since the introduction of the allowance, with several companies providing a range of services and rates with bundled services including television, telephone and broadband and pay-as-you-go mobiles. There are also personal security services that use mobile technology rather than land lines.

The Department of Environment, Community and Local Government operates the seniors alert scheme which provides grant support for the supply of equipment such as personal alarms, smoke detectors and security lighting to enable older people without sufficient means to continue to live securely in their homes. The budget allocation for 2013 was €2.35 million. There has been no reduction in this funding in Budget 2014.

Carer's Allowance Appeals

 408. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the position regarding carer's allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1721/14]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the appeal from the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer who proposes to hold an oral hearing in this case.

  Every effort will be made to hear the case as quickly as possible and the appellant will be informed when arrangements have been made.

  The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection and of the Department and is responsible for determining appeals against decisions on social welfare entitlements.

  Question No. 409 answered with Question No. 336.

Departmental Expenditure

 410. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the reason for the anticipated reduction in spending of €1.7 million on domiciliary care allowance next year; and if she anticipates a reduction in the number of applications made.  [1734/14]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton The provision for expenditure on domiciliary care allowance in 2014 reflects the provisional outturn for expenditure on the scheme in 2013. I can confirm that there has been no reduction in the monthly amount payable on the allowance and also that the Department does not expect any reduction in the number of children benefiting from this payment over the coming year. Rather, it is projected that the number of applications for the scheme in 2014 will reflect the trend of recent years leading to a small increase in the overall number of claims in payment.

Departmental Expenditure

 411. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the reason for the anticipated 12% reduction in spending on carer's benefit in 2015; and if she anticipates a reduction in the number of applications made. [1735/14]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton It is assumed that the Deputy is referring to the provision for carer’s benefit in 2014 as distinct from 2015. The 2014 Revised Estimates Volume (REV) provides for expenditure on carer's benefit of €21.5 million this year. This is 12% lower than the 2013 REV estimate and is mainly due to an ongoing decrease in the number of recipients.

However, the total provision for expenditure on carers generally (carer's allowance, carer's benefit, domiciliary care allowance and respite care grant) in 2014 is nearly €806 million. This is €28.9 million higher than the 2013 REV estimate and €4.6 million higher than the expected outturn for 2013.

Social Welfare Code

 412. Deputy Noel Harrington Information on Noel Harrington Zoom on Noel Harrington asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton the reason her Department applies an interest rate of 20.8%, which is more than 80 times the ECB rate of 0.25%, on savings and investments and property over €50,000 under means tests administered by her Department; her plans to amend the scheme to reflect present interest rates; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1736/14]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton In assessing means for social assistance payments, account is taken of the income and the value of capital and property of the claimant and their spouse / partner.

  Social welfare legislation provides that the yearly value of property (including capital) owned but not personally used or enjoyed is assessable for means testing purposes for social assistance payments. Such property includes all monies held in financial institutions or otherwise, the market value of shares and houses and premises owned by a claimant which may or may not be put to commercial use. However, it does not include property such as the family home or, for example, a premises used by the claimant in carrying out a business.

  For assessment purposes, the current market value of the property is established as well as the amount of any outstanding mortgages on that property. The balance (market value less outstanding mortgage) is assessed by reference to the following formula in the case of most schemes (including jobseeker’s allowance and one parent family payment), as follows:

  Capital – Assessment Formula

AMOUNT OF CAPITALWEEKLY MEANS ASSESSED
Up to €20,000Nil
€20,000 - €30,000€1 per each €1,000
€30,000 - €40,000€2 per each €1,000
Over €40,000€4 per each €1,000


  For the purposes of the State pension non-contributory and carer’s allowance the amounts above are doubled in the case of a couple. The amount disregarded in the case of disability allowance is €50,000 while €5,000 is disregarded in the case of supplementary welfare allowance.

  The assessment formula is not designed to reflect interest or annuity rates available to investors and no account is taken of interest or dividend payments received in the means assessment. The assessment formula reflects the fact that there is an expectation that persons with reasonable amounts of capital and property are in a position to use that capital or to realise the value of property to support themselves without having to rely solely on a means tested welfare payment.

  Any changes to the current arrangements would have to be considered in a Budgetary context.

Domiciliary Care Allowance Applications

 413. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton if she will review a decision to refuse an application for domiciliary care allowance in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Laois; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1785/14]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton An application for domiciliary care allowance was received on the 10th October 2013. The application was not allowed as it was considered that the child does not meet the eligibility criteria for the allowance. A decision letter issued to the customer on the 8th January 2014 advising of this decision.

In the case of an application which is refused on medical grounds the applicant may submit additional information and/or ask for the decision to be reviewed or they may appeal the decision directly to the Social Welfare Appeals Office within twenty one days.

Wildlife Regulations

 414. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan the action he will take in relation to the Ward Hunt proposing to hunt a deer on St. Stephen's Day by exploiting the wording of section 23A(1) with the advertisement that no animals are intentionally injured or killed during the hunt, and that the hound does not attack or bring down the deer; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [55524/13]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan The Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2010 makes it an offence for a person on foot to hunt a deer with two or more dogs unless such activity is specifically permitted under section 29 or section 42 of the Principal Act.

  My Department understands that the Ward Union Hunt has operated a drag hunt since the enactment of the 2010 legislation which involves the following by a pack of hounds of a scent which has been laid or dragged over a course.   It is understood that such a drag hunt was carried out on St. Stephen’s Day and that no deer were involved in the hunt.

National Monuments

 415. 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 if he will ensure that the agreed inspection and survey of the 1916 national monument at Moore Street will be facilitated immediately by its owners (details supplied), as a matter of urgency, in the public and national interest.  [55192/13]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan As the Deputy is aware, the national monument is not in the ownership of the State. The practical arrangements for the proposed survey of the national monument buildings by the 1916 relatives’ representative group, which the monument owners have agreed to in principle, are matters for the group and the owners to agree.

Caiteachas Údarás na Gaeltachta

 416. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Sandra McLellan Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan cén luach saothair nó cé na cnapshuimeanna atá íoctha leis an Iarbhainisteoir Reigiúnach ag Údarás na Gaeltachta i nDún na nGall, le cúig bliana anuas ó d'éirigh sé as a phost san Údarás, lena n-áirítear aon chnapshuim agus íocaíochtaí pinsin nó aon íocaíochtaí eile.  [55246/13]

 417. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Sandra McLellan Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta cén luach saothair nó cé na cnapshuimeanna atá íoctha leis an bPríomhfheidhmeannach ag Údarás na Gaeltachta, le cúig bliana anuas ó d'éirigh sé as a phost san Údarás, lena n-áirítear aon chnapshuim agus íocaíochtaí pinsin nó aon íocaíochtaí eile.  [55247/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Dinny McGinley): Information on Dinny McGinley Zoom on Dinny McGinley Tógfaidh mé ceisteanna Uimh. 416 agus 417 le chéile.

  Táim ag glacaim leis gurb é iar-Phríomhfheidhmeannach Údarás na Gaeltachta atá i gceist ag an Teachta sa dara ceist.

  Comhairlítear dom ag Údarás na Gaeltachta go bhfeictear don eagraíocht go dtagann sonraí a bhaineann le híocaíochtaí den chineál atá luaite ag an Teachta faoin Acht Um Chosaint Sonraí 1988-2003 agus, dá bhrí sin, nach féidir leis an Údarás an t-eolas atá iarrtha a chur ar fáil.

  Comhairlítear dom fosta go raibh aon íocaíocht a rinneadh sna cásanna atá luaite dlite faoi Scéim Aoisliúntais Foirne Údarás na Gaeltachta agus i gcomhréir leis na rátaí pá do na postanna a bhí i gceist.

Commemorative Events

 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 his plans to commemorate the centenary of the founding of Cumann na mBan which occurs in April 2014. [55249/13]

 424. 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 plans in progress to officially celebrate the centenary of the founding of Cumann na mBan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55576/13]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan I propose to take Questions Nos. 418 and 424 together.

The founding of Cumann na mBan on 2 April 2 1914 was a very significant development and will be a salient date in the centenary commemorative calendar. In seeking to ensure that the commemorative programme is authentic, comprehensive and inclusive, I am particularly concerned that the role of women in the Irish revolution - and especially their service relating to the Easter Rising - will be acknowledged and brought to public attention.

The history and achievements of Cumann na mBan will be presented at a special conference organised by the Women’s History Association of Ireland on 4 and 5 April and I am pleased to be in a position to host this event at the National Museum in Collins Barracks.

Arrangements are being made for a special issue commemorative postage stamp marking the founding of Cumann na mBan. Further proposals are under development with my colleagues in Government and other commemoration partners (particularly Glasnevin Trust) regarding other presentations, wreath laying and special ceremonies to mark this important anniversary. The formation and development of Cumann na mBan will also be featured in Century Ireland, the online contemporary newspaper of the Centenary programme.

I hope that this Centenary anniversary will also be marked by community and voluntary groups, academic institutions and local authorities. I would encourage all who hold memoirs, photographs, records or artefacts relevant to Cumann na mBan to bring them forward at this time. The national and local authority collections would be enhanced to receive digitised copies of such records. Additionally, I would welcome contact from interested parties to discuss any proposals that they may wish to bring forward to mark the anniversary of the founding of Cumann na mBan.

National Library

 419. 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 his plans to seek a relaxation of the public service embargo for recruitment to the post of head of genealogy and chief herald at the National Library; if consideration has been given to the self-funding nature of this post; his plans to amend legislation that requires that such a post is filled from within the staffing of the National Library; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55315/13]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan I can reassure the Deputy that I am fully conversant with the issues surrounding the filling of the post of Chief Herald at the National Library. As part of the Government Reform Plan, I will shortly be bringing a proposal to Government on the legislation required to implement the required reforms at the National Library and the National Museum. I am considering the most appropriate action for the post of Chief Herald in the context of that legislation.

Departmental Staff Data

 420. 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 agency staff have been used in his Department in each of the past five years to date for the purpose of answering and transferring calls on their switchdesk; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55428/13]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan As the Deputy will be aware, my Department was established on 2 June 2011 and therefore the available information is being provided from that date. I am advised by my Department that agency staff provided switch cover in one location from 2 June 2011 until 11 December 2012. All switch duties are now performed by departmental staff.

Inland Waterways Development

 421. 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 if he will explore all possible options within current fiscal constraints to advance and develop the potential of the Royal and Grand Canal lines that pass through Dublin city; if he will establish an inter-agency group on the Dublin city reaches of the Royal and Grand Canals; if he will explore ways to advance their development by examining funding options, including existing funding streams, leveraging funding from other sources and the possibility of EU funding which may be available.  [55464/13]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Jimmy Deenihan): Information on Jimmy Deenihan Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan As the Deputy may be aware, the Dublin City Canals Study was launched on 20th July 2010. This was prepared by consultants on behalf of Waterways Ireland, Fáilte Ireland, Dublin Docklands Development Authority and Dublin City Council. The study examined the existing activities on the Royal and Grand Canals and identified an overall vision for the development of the City Canals within the M50. I am advised that following on from the study an Operations Liaison Group plus two sub-groups (one for the Royal Canal and one for the Grand Canal) were established and continue to meet to deliver the recommendations identified, within the current fiscal constraints.

I am informed that to complement the above study, Waterways Ireland engaged additional consultants to carry out a detailed study of Grand Canal Dock and Spencer Dock with the objective of producing a Master Plan, currently at draft stage, that realises their potential as a recreational amenity and a living, vibrant part of Dublin and its Docklands. Waterways Ireland will continue to work collaboratively to unlock the pivotal role of these two major docks and to attract funding to develop a maritime quarter within the city of Dublin.


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