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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 174-184
 Header Item Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments
 Header Item Food Harvest 2020 Strategy
 Header Item Sugar Industry
 Header Item Fish Farming
 Header Item Aquaculture Development
 Header Item Agriculture Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Forestry Grants
 Header Item Animal Welfare
 Header Item Medical Aids and Appliances Provision
 Header Item Proposed Legislation
 Header Item Garda Misconduct Allegations

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 841 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 66 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 174-184

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments

 174. Deputy Noel Harrington Information on Noel Harrington Zoom on Noel Harrington asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney when AEOS payments for 2011, 2012 and 2013 will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [21958/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The person named was approved for participation in the Agri-Environment Options Scheme (AEOS 3) with effect from 1 May 2013.

  Under the EU Regulations governing the Scheme and other area-based payment schemes, a comprehensive administrative check, including cross-checks with the Land Parcel Identification System, must be completed before any payment can issue. These checks have been successfully completed in respect of 2013 and 75% payment issued to the person named on 7 May 2014. The balancing 25% payment will follow.

  The question of payment for 2011 and 2012 does not arise.

Food Harvest 2020 Strategy

 175. Deputy Pat Deering Information on Patrick Deering Zoom on Patrick Deering asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the efforts that are being made to source additional markets to cater for the potential increase in beef production to meet the targets in Food Harvest 2020. [21976/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The broad outline for developing the beef industry in Ireland was set out in Harvest 2020. The recommendations for development of the sector included the identification of “target markets for which access for Irish beef, beef offals and breeding stock should be secured”.

My strategy for implementing this recommendation is to constantly develop relationships in existing and in new and expanding international markets, raising the profile of Ireland and increasing international confidence in Irish production and control systems. Since taking office I have led trade missions to China, the US, Algeria and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries in the Middle East.

There is a strong demand for meat globally and my focus is aimed at enabling Irish exporters to take advantage of the opportunities that arise. My Department engages on a daily basis with many countries, in collaboration with Bord Bia and Irish embassies’ personnel on market access issues. These initiatives have led to a number of notable successes in securing market access from authorities in Japan, Singapore, Egypt and Iran. This year to date we have agreed access terms with the Lebanon and Namibia.

In November 2013, the US lifted its ban on the importation of beef from the European Union. This was one of my priorities the previous year when I visited the US, where I pushed the matter strongly with the US Department of Agriculture Secretary of State, Tom Vilsack and in meetings with Senators. My Department is currently working with the meat industry to advance the various technical requirements to ensure commencement of the trade at the earliest possible date.

In December 2013, a delegation from my Department visited China for discussions with authorities there on the lifting of the beef BSE ban which prohibits imports from any EU country. While there are a number of stages to go before Ireland secures access for beef to China, I am hopeful that these can be progressed further in 2014.

The Canadian Food inspection Agency (CFIA) visited Ireland in early February 2014 to inspect the control systems in place at national and food business operator level. A positive outcome to the visit could lead to export opportunities to this premium market in the near future.

Irish beef is now listed with more than 75 high-end retail chains across EU markets. This wide portfolio of customers has contributed significantly to higher returns for Irish beef in recent years and reflects the success of Bord Bia’s differentiation and premiumisation strategy which focuses on the key attributes of Irish beef: environmentally sustainable, grass-based production systems, full traceability, quality assurance at all stages and superior eating quality. Among Bord Bia’s key initiatives this year is the continued development, global promotion and marketing of its Origin Green initiative, designed to establish Ireland as a world leader in sustainably produced food and drink. Over 200 companies are currently working with Bord Bia to develop, and commit to, sustainability plans setting out clear targets in emissions, energy, waste, water, biodiversity and corporate social responsibility activities.

Sugar Industry

 176. Deputy Pat Deering Information on Patrick Deering Zoom on Patrick Deering asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the progress that is being made in the re-establishment of the sugar industry.  [21977/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I would like to give the Deputy the background to this issue. In 2011 I met with two separate groups which had conducted feasibility studies into the possibility of establishing a new sugar/bioethanol facility in the country. I understand from figures published by the interested groups who are investigating the possibility of building a new facility, that the overall capital costs involved could range from €250million to €400million, depending on what type of facility will be constructed.

I informed both groups at the time and many times since, that any venture to develop a combined sugar/bioethanol production facility would have to be a viable commercial proposition, and supported by a business case which is sufficiently robust to attract the funding from investors for the very substantial capital investment required. I also informed both groups that it was my job to look for agreement at EU level to allow for the growing of sugar beet for the manufacture of sugar, at the earliest possible date.

In this connection, at the last meeting of the Council of Agriculture Ministers in June 2013, which I chaired under Ireland’s EU Presidency, I secured agreement as part of the overall CAP reform package, to abolish all sugar quotas by 30 September 2017. This agreement removes, with effect from 1 October 2017, the current quota barrier for operators in Ireland or other Member States, wishing to re-establish a sugar industry. I am glad to note that this agreement has been welcomed by those parties who are interested in seeking to re-establish a sugar industry here.

Fish Farming

 177. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he will supply all the data requested by the EU regarding the EIS in respect of the Galway Bay licence application for commercial salmon farming, his views regarding whether it is appropriate that he is the arbiter in an application from his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22013/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney An application by Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) for an aquaculture licence for the cultivation of finfish near Inis Oirr in Galway Bay was received by my Department in 2012. The application and its accompanying Environmental Impact Statement are being considered under the provisions of the 1997 Fisheries (Amendment) Act and the 1933 Foreshore Act.

The assessment process will take full account of all national and EU legislative requirements and will reflect the full engineering, scientific, environmental, legal and public policy aspects of the application.

My Department maintains close ongoing communication with the EU Commission on relevant aspects of aquaculture licensing and all queries from the EU Commission are answered promptly in accordance with standard procedures.

There is always a strict separation between my Ministerial role as decision maker in respect of aquaculture licence applications and my Ministerial duty to promote the sustainable development of the industry. This separation of duties is strictly observed.

As the application referred to by the Deputy is under active consideration as part of the statutory process it would not be appropriate for me to comment further at this time.

Aquaculture Development

 178. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his views regarding whether he has been lobbied by the commercial salmon industry; if he has any connections to those involved in fish farming; and if he is satisfied that he has given equal time to recreational anglers interested in protecting endangered stock as to representatives of the industry. [22027/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I have no conflict of interest to declare in relation to the aquaculture industry. There is always a strict separation between my Ministerial role as decision maker in respect of aquaculture licence applications and my Ministerial duty to promote the sustainable development of the industry. This separation of duties is strictly observed. In the course of my duties to promote the sustainable development of the industry, I meet with many industry participants and other stakeholders, as is normal for this and any other aspect of my Ministerial brief and in that context, I have met many individual recreational anglers. I take into account all views in making any decisions that arise in relation to any and all aspects of my brief. This Government is committed to participatory democracy and I consider it essential that all voices are heard. With a right to be heard comes an obligation to present arguments supported by empirical evidence. I will always have due regard to arguments supported by fact.

The licensing of recreational angling is the responsibility of Inland Fisheries Ireland which is under the aegis of the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

Agriculture Scheme Eligibility

 179. Deputy Timmy Dooley Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney when a person (details supplied) in County Clare will be issued a flock number; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22028/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney An analysis of the application submitted for a flock number revealed that additional information was required to support the application. However, the additional information provided proved to be inadequate. Contact will be made with the person again to outline the precise nature of the information required for a valid application.

Forestry Grants

 180. Deputy Pat Breen Information on Pat Breen Zoom on Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney when final payment of a forestry grant will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22036/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The above named applicant has only one afforestation contract, CN53972, on which the second instalment of the afforestation establishment grant has not yet paid. The first instalment of the grant was paid on 18 October 2011 which means that the second instalment is not due for payment until 2015. The Department will issue the relevant application form (Form 3) to the person in question in early 2015.

Animal Welfare

 181. 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 any complaint has been made to his Department under the Animal Health and Welfare Acts in relation to the alleged euthanising of 100 dogs in a dog pound (details supplied) recently; if these complaints are being investigated; the obligations on such pounds to try find alternative homes for animals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22047/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney  My Department works very closely with welfare organisations, local authorities and the Gardai to intervene in cases of animal neglect or cruelty. In addition the Department operates an Animal Welfare Helpline which the public can avail of the report instances where animal welfare may be compromised. A complaint has been notified to our Animal Welfare Helpline regarding the dog pound in question.   All complaints are investigated. The matter has been referred for attention to the Local Authority who arranges for the provision and operation of dog pound facilities under the Control of Dogs Acts 1986 and the Control of Dogs (amendment) Act 1992. I will be glad to communicate further with the Deputy when more information is available.

Medical Aids and Appliances Provision

 182. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the number of defibrillators that are located in Government offices and buildings under the remit of his Department and those under his aegis throughout the country; if these are available in emergency cases outside of office hours in the community in the locations where they are based; the number and cost of same; if he will consider putting some arrangement in place whereby these defibrillators can be located where the public can get access out of office hours times in the interest of health and safety; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22372/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Under the remit of my Department there is a total of 25 automated electronic defibrillators [AEDs], at a supply cost of €53,863, in different locations throughout my Department. The AEDs are strategically situated in selected offices to best serve the needs of the staff and visitors in the event of a medical emergency. Should an emergency arise outside of any of these locations and during office opening hours my staff will assist and make available the AED. However given that the Department offices must be secured after office hours public access would not be possible after these hours. In relation to the possibility of locating the AEDs on the public side of the entrances to the offices I will have to make further enquiries into this matter.

Proposed Legislation

 183. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald when the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 will be enacted; the reason for the delay; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [21960/14]

 193. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the reason for the delay in the final passage of the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill 2012; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [21959/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I propose to take Questions Nos. 183 and 193 together.

  The National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 has not yet been commenced. This is because elements of the Act relating to the disclosure of convictions require amendment having regard to a recent judgment of the UK Court of Appeal (T and others v Chief Constable of Greater Manchester, 2013). The UK Court considered the circumstances in which it is appropriate to disclose convictions for old, minor offences with particular regard to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. In November 2013 the Government agreed that, following the T Case judgement, the 2012 Act would be amended to provide that certain minor convictions which are over seven years old would not be disclosed in the vetting process.

  More serious offences such as all sexual offences, offences against the person, serious motoring offences, firearms offences, robbery, or any offence for which the person is convicted on indictment will continue to be disclosed in all cases . These revised procedures have already been given effect on an administrative basis, pending commencement of the 2012 Act.

  Given the close relationship between this Act and the Spent Convictions Bill, which is before the Oireachtas at the moment, any changes to the Vetting Act will have to be reflected in the Spent Convictions Bill. The amendment of the Vetting Act will also be done via the Spent Convictions Bill. Consequential amendments to the Spent Convictions Bill are currently being drafted. It is my intention that the Spent Convictions Bill will be brought back before the Houses and enacted as soon as possible.

Garda Misconduct Allegations

 184. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the steps that have been taken to deal with the correspondence of persons (details supplied) who alleged serious Garda malpractice which led to the death of a citizen. [21882/14]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I am considering this matter in the wider context of allegations of Garda misconduct currently on hand, with a view to determining an appropriate response in each case.


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