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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 212-224
 Header Item State Pathologists
 Header Item Crime Prevention
 Header Item Prison Education Service
 Header Item Garda Investigations
 Header Item Departmental Investigations
 Header Item Forestry Grants
 Header Item Agriculture Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Eligibility

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 832 No. 3

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Written Answers Nos. 212-224

State Pathologists

 212. 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 plan and cost of moving the State pathologist service to the former Garda station in Whitehall, Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10278/14]

 213. 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 budget for the past five years for the State pathologist service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10279/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I propose to take Questions Nos. 212 and 213 together.

  The Office of Public Works has agreed to make the former Whitehall Garda station available for the relocation of the State Pathology Office and to carry out the necessary refurbishment work. The project is being actively pursued in conjunction with the OPW and I understand that it is not currently possible to provide details of the costs that will be involved.

  Expenditure for the past five years for the Office of the State Pathologist was as shown in the following table:

YearExpenditure €
20091,056,000
20102,459,000
2011945,000
2012946,000
2013*950,000
  *This figure is subject to verification when the Appropriation Accounts are finalised later this year.

Crime Prevention

 214. 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 if he has considered ring-fencing crime proceeds so that they are reinvested in deprived areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10280/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter In accordance with relevant legislation dealing with the confiscation of proceeds of crime all monies collected are returned to the Exchequer. Such monies are paid into the Government’s Central Fund, from which the Government draws for expenditure on all necessary public services and investment.

From time to time, it has been suggested that monies collected by the Criminal Assets Bureau should be used to fund community projects. However, while my Department has previously consulted with the Department of Finance on the matter and it has been accepted that there may be some symbolic value in the suggestion, it is considered problematic and raises a number of practical difficulties.

A policy of ring-fencing monies obtained by the Exchequer and the reallocation of these for a specific purpose runs contrary to the normal Estimates process. While allowing for a small number of very specific targeted exceptions, it is believed that earmarking revenues for a specific expenditure programme would, in general, constrain the Government in the implementation of its overall expenditure policy.

There is also the problem of additional costs which would accrue in the administration of any scheme to divert such funds to local projects and additional administrative costs without any additional revenues being generated.

It could also be argued that a significant proportion of the monies secured by the Criminal Assets Bureau are already owed to the Exchequer as it often relates to non-payment of taxes and social welfare fraud.

In the current economic climate the Exchequer could not sustain a loss of revenue without making compensatory adjustments. If the monies collected were to be diverted to community projects, there would inevitably be implications for any other monies those projects received from the Exchequer. Alternatively, other public expenditure programmes would have to sustain the loss.

There are currently no proposals to change the existing arrangements concerning such monies.

Prison Education Service

 215. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the number of prisoners throughout the prison service who are currently in educational, upskilling or rehabilitation programmes; the number of these who are first-time offenders; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [10281/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Deputy will be aware from my replies to previous Parliamentary Questions that the Irish Prison Service provides a wide range of rehabilitative programmes that include education, vocational training, healthcare, psychiatric, psychological, counselling, welfare and spiritual services. These programmes are available in all prisons and all prisoners are eligible to use the services. On committal, all prisoners are interviewed by the Governor and are informed of the services available in the prison. At this point prisoners may be referred to services or they can self refer at a later date. Where Governors consider, on the information available, that a prisoner needs a particular intervention they will initiate a referral.

  The Irish Prison Service has also been expanding the number of accredited vocational courses and opportunities available to prisoners in Work Training in recent years. Enhanced partnership arrangements with accrediting bodies such as City and Guilds, the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), and the Guild of Launders and Cleaners and the centralising of coordination and quality assurance arrangements have enabled the Irish Prison Service to extend the number of available courses and activities with certification.

  The development of prisoner programmes forms a central part of the Irish Prison Service Three Year Strategic Plan 2012 - 2015. There is a clear commitment in the Strategy to enhance sentence planning including Integrated Sentence Management and the delivery of prison based rehabilitative programmes such as education, work training and resettlement programmes.

  I am informed by the Director General of the Irish Prison Service that records of prisoner participation in vocational training and education programmes are not maintained in such a way as to provide the specific information sought by the Deputy in relation to certain categories of offenders.

  The table underneath shows the most recent figures available (December 2013) of the average prisoner participation in education and vocational training. It should be noted that a prisoner may participate in more than one activity.

InstitutionEducation - Average Prisoner Participation in December 2013Vocational Training - Average Prisoner Participation in December 2013
Arbour Hill9495
Castlerea155123
Cloverhill11947
Cork15070
Dóchas7622
Limerick 13535
Loughan House9382
Midlands380136
Mountjoy148101
Portlaoise16026
Shelton Abbey5859
St. Patrick's Institution 5530
Training Unit4171
Wheatfield135143
Total Average Participation17991040

Garda Investigations

 216. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he has any reports in his Department on Garda investigations that have yet to be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10292/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter I presume that the Deputy is referring to investigations arising from Garda whistleblower reports. Under the current Confidential Recipient system, such reports are dealt with by the Confidential Recipient and the Garda Commissioner. The only instance where the Confidential Recipient refers a report to me is, under the relevant regulations, where a Garda whistleblower makes a complaint concerning the Garda Commissioner. There is no provision in the relevant legislation for publishing any such report.

  Question No. 217 answered with Question No. 26.

  Question No. 218 answered with Question No. 39.

Departmental Investigations

 219. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter the terms and timeframe of his internal review into the way his Department handled the reports by a whistleblower (details supplied); the timeframe for the review; if only internal staff will be used to conduct the review; the resources that will be available; the powers of the review team; if similar reviews have been conducted in the past; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10295/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter An internal review of the correspondence referred to in the question has been conducted at senior management level in my Department. The results of this review, which did not require the use of powers and which has been finalised, enabled me to address many of the issues raised in the debate on this matter in this House yesterday.

As the Deputy is aware, following a decision by Government, Mr Seán Guerin, Senior Counsel, has been requested to undertake an assessment of issues and allegations since 2008 raised by the whistleblower concerned. Mr Guerin has been asked to report his findings before the Easter recess, or as soon as may be thereafter, and to make recommendations. The report will be published immediately and I am on record as stating that, if Mr Guerin recommends a Commission of Inquiry, one will be established.

Forestry Grants

 220. Deputy Simon Harris Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the position regarding an application to participate in the afforestation scheme in an area (details supplied) in County Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9991/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The application under the Native Woodland Establishment Scheme was refused in November 2013 because the site was considered unsuitable for growing broadleaves due to its high elevation, exposure and shallow soil depth.

However, it was also considered that the more productive and sheltered parts of the site may be more suited to the Afforestation Scheme where an alternative species may be considered. On this basis, the applicant has submitted an application under the Afforestation Scheme on a smaller area than in the original application. This application is now under consideration by the Department and a decision will be made and the applicant notified as soon as the necessary enquiries and consultations have been completed.

Agriculture Scheme Eligibility

 221. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if for QPS purposes in the paying of a bonus for cattle slaughtered, the number of movements is determined by the number of owners an animal had or the number of movements recorded on the AIMS database or by some other system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10091/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The conditions for the in-spec Quality Assurance bonus, under the Quality-based Payment System, are a matter for industry and were agreed between Meat Industry Ireland and the IFA in December 2009. The conditions are:

  - Quality assured cattle, slaughtered under 30 months of age, receive a bonus,

  - Animals must satisfy a 70-day residency period on the final farm and must not have more than 3 farm movements in their lifetime (4 farm residencies).

  This information is verified from the Department of Agriculture's AIM database at the point of entering the animals’ identities into the processors' software systems (i.e. in the factory lairage). Access to such information is limited to the movement listing of the animals presented to the factories for slaughter.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Eligibility

 222. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the number of farmers who were disqualified from the 2012 and 2013 disadvantaged area scheme because they did not have 0.3 LU in 2011 and had 0.15 LU/ha in 2011; the total saving that was achieved by this rule; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10092/14]

 223. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the required stocking density to qualify for the 2011 disadvantaged area scheme; the reason for this stocking density; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10093/14]

 224. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the required stocking density in 2012 to qualify for the 2012 disadvantaged area scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10094/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I propose to take Questions Nos. 222 to 224, inclusive, together.

It is widely recognised that the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme is a very important one for this country, as the total area designated as disadvantaged is almost 75% of Ireland’s total land area. From an economic perspective, the Scheme is particularly significant, contributing to the support of some 95,000 farm families, whose ability to farm is restricted by the physical environment and, in particular, the impact of the prevailing wet cold climatic conditions.

The budgeted expenditure under the 2012 Scheme was reduced from €220 million to €190 million and, in order to achieve the necessary saving in expenditure, specific changes to the Scheme eligibility criteria for 2012 were introduced. Making these technical adjustments to the Scheme criteria ensured that the aid payment is focused on farmers whose farming enterprises are situated exclusively in Less Favoured Areas and who are making a significant contribution to achieving the objectives of the Scheme.

There was no reduction in the maximum area payable – 34 hectares. The changes were designed to ensure that the payments under the Scheme are focused on those farmers who (i) are farming exclusively in Disadvantaged Areas, (ii) make a significant contribution to the maintenance of a viable rural community and (iii) contribute to the enhancement of the environment.

A robust appeals process was instituted, with those farmers affected by the requirement under the 2012 Scheme to have achieved a minimum stocking density on their holding in 2011 of 0.3 livestock units per forage hectare to apply for derogation. This process included initial internal review within my Department, the subsequent right of appeal to the independently-chaired DAS Appeals Committee and thereafter to the Office of the Ombudsman.

The number of farmers, who did not meet the 0.3 livestock unit per hectare in 2011 and, who were not eligible for a derogation, was 1,540. These farmers were paid €2.4 million in 2011.

Applicants under the 2011 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme were required to have met a minimum stocking density of 0.15 livestock units per hectare for a minimum retention period of three consecutive months.

Applicants under the 2012 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme were required to have met (i) a minimum stocking of 0.3 in 2011 and (ii) a minimum stocking density of 0.15 livestock units for a minimum retention period of six consecutive months in 2012.


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