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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 341-360
 Header Item Property Tax Rate
 Header Item Property Tax Yield
 Header Item Grant Payments
 Header Item Election Management System
 Header Item Housing Issues
 Header Item Election Management System
 Header Item Defence Forces Reserve Strength
 Header Item Agriculture Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Turbary Rights
 Header Item Aquaculture Licence Applications
 Header Item Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Animal Welfare
 Header Item Animal Welfare
 Header Item Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments
 Header Item Beef Data Programme
 Header Item Departmental Correspondence
 Header Item Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Payments
 Header Item Beef Data Programme
 Header Item Public Service Contracts

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 846 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 82 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 341-360

Property Tax Rate

 341. Deputy Dominic Hannigan Information on Dominic Hannigan Zoom on Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if his Department is drafting the regulation that is necessary for county councils to enact the reduction in the property tax by 15% that is allowed by the local property tax legislation; when he expects it to be published and enacted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28440/14]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Effective from 1 July 2014, local authorities may vary the rate of Local Property Tax (LPT) in their administrative area for the following year by up to 15% of the basic rate of the Tax. The decision must be taken by resolution of the Council and must be notified to the Revenue Commissioners by 30 September in order to apply for the following year.

There are certain factors that local authorities are legislatively bound to take into account when deciding whether or not to vary their LPT rates for a given year (expected income & expenditure, accumulated assets and liabilities and the impact of any variation on their local area). The decision is not one that can be taken without considering the financial implications as it will have a direct impact on the level of funding available to local authorities and, therefore, on their ability to discharge their statutory responsibilities.

The power to vary has been given to local authorities to further increase their autonomy. Elected members are already responsible for finalising the annual budget of the local authority – it is a reserved function for them – and the power to vary LPT rates will enable them to directly influence the level of LPT income they have to meet their expenditure requirements in the future.

The Local Property Tax (Local Adjustment Factor) Regulations 2014 (SI 296 of 2014) set out the process for local authorities who wish to vary their LPT base rates, including the factors that they must consider and the type of public consultation that they should undertake as part of that process.

Property Tax Yield

 342. 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 if he will provide a breakdown of the projected income for each local authority in 2015 from the local property tax as well as a breakdown of the funding that the same local authorities would have normally received from the central government fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [28445/14]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Effective from 1 July 2014, local authorities may vary the rate of Local Property Tax (LPT)   in their administrative area for the following year by up to 15% of the basic rate of the Tax. The decision must be taken by resolution of the Council and must be notified to the Revenue Commissioners by 30 September in order to apply for the following year.

  It is not possible for me to pre-empt the decisions that may be made in that regard nor to anticipate the overall expected income from LPT for 2015, which is matter for the Minister for Finance.

  The power to vary LPT has been given to local authorities to further increase their autonomy. Elected members are already responsible for finalising the annual budget of the local authority – it is a reserved function for them – and the power to vary LPT rates will enable them to directly influence the level of LPT income they have to meet their expenditure requirements in the future.   

  I understand that the Revenue Commissioners released details of the levels of LPT collected in local authority areas in 2013 earlier this year and, more recently, provided details of the levels of LPT collected so far in 2014, which should provide a useful information source for local authorities; this information is available on the Revenue website – www.revenue.ie.  

  The local government funding model will change considerably in 2014/2015 and the overall impact will need to be assessed, including the implications for the Exchequer and broader Local Government Fund management issues. The management of the impacts on the overall Exchequer finances will primarily be a matter for the Ministers for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform and I will continue to work closely with them in the context of the overall Estimates preparations for 2015, as normal.   

  I assume that the reference in the question to a breakdown of funding received from the central Government fund relates to the General Purpose Grant allocations for local authorities from the Local Government Fund; the 2014 allocations are set out in the table below.

Local Authority
2014



Carlow County Council
5,352,469
Cavan County Council
8,458,415
Clare County Council
2,646,284
Cork County Council
2,951,435
Donegal County Council
22,720,760
Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council
5,724,579
Fingal County Council
454,714
Galway County Council
12,506,381
Kerry County Council
11,043,837
Kildare County Council
9,686,924
Kilkenny County Council
9,356,019
Laois County Council
7,631,324
Leitrim County Council
8,282,319
Limerick County Council
6,175,333
Longford County Council
8,119,493
Louth County Council
8,243,835
Mayo County Council
17,492,594
Meath County Council
8,799,199
Monaghan County Council
10,247,882
North Tipperary County Council
9,832,046
Offaly County Council
6,663,642
Roscommon County Council
9,107,439
Sligo County Council
9 ,993,352
South Dublin County Council
923,906
South Tipperary County Council
12,923,064
Waterford County Council
12,125,219
Westmeath County Council
10,115,479
Wexford County Council
11,888,576
Wicklow County Council
6,846,310
Cork City Council
8,544,374
Dublin City Council
2,667,330
Galway City Council
1,626,429
Limerick City Council
8,449,826
Waterford City Council
4,399,212
Total
282,000,000

Grant Payments

 343. Deputy Seamus Kirk Information on Seamus Kirk Zoom on Seamus Kirk asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan his plans to introduce a grant scheme for rain water harvesting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28446/14]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan I refer to the reply to Question No. 460 of 17 June 2014. The position is unchanged.

Election Management System

 344. Deputy Simon Harris Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if any consideration has been given to locating polling stations in public buildings and council buildings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28496/14]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Section 93 of the Electoral Act 1992 provides for the use of schools and public premises for taking the poll and the counting of votes at Dáil elections. Section 94 of the Act provides that a returning officer shall provide a sufficient number of polling stations for the accommodation of Dáil electors. The returning officer may use, free of charge, any school or premises owned or occupied by a local authority for these purposes. Similar provisions apply under the electoral Acts in relation to other elections and referendums.

Housing Issues

 345. Deputy Seán Kyne Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if, in the context of a housing strategy, consideration will be given to assisting persons residing in large family homes but with grown-up children and no longer in need of such a house type in acquiring financial assistance such as a bridging loan to trade down to a smaller size home and thereby improve the availability of larger houses; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [28508/14]

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 Government’s housing policy statement published in June 2011 marked a significant departure for housing in Ireland, including a shift to a tenure neutral high level objective, and a clear commitment to restoring balance to the housing sector generally through a lesser reliance on home ownership.

  The policy statement reaffirms the State’s commitment to supporting access to home ownership for lower to middle income households and the current range of paths to home ownership will remain in place in that regard.   

  There are two types of house purchase loan available from local authorities: standard annuity loans targeted at lower income first time buyers and those under the Home Choice Loan scheme which are available to qualifying middle income first time buyers affected by the “credit crunch”.

  The terms and conditions governing the operation, including eligibility terms, of annuity mortgages and the Home Choice Loan are set out under various Regulations such as the Housing (Local Authority Loans) Regulations 2009, the Housing (Home Choice Loan) Regulations 2009, and most recently in the Housing (Local Authority Loans) Regulations 2012. These are available on my Department’s website: http://www.environ.ie/en/Legislation/DevelopmentandHousing/Housing/.

  It is not the intention of the Home Choice Loan scheme – or of any other Government intervention in the housing sector – to incentivise people into the market. It is designed only to facilitate creditworthy households who have been affected by conditions in the mortgage market. As such, the scheme is a temporary one which will be withdrawn once conditions in credit markets return to normal patterns. Recent data published by the Central Bank would indicate that point has not yet been reached.   

  To ensure effective targeting of limited resources, local authority loan finance continues to be available to first time buyers only. The option currently available for non-first time local authority homeowners wishing to relocate is to seek home loan facilities from one of the commercial lending institutions.   

  The Government’s recently published Construction 2020 – A Strategy for a Renewed Construction Sector aims to build a well-financed, competitive and innovative approach to construction and housing, building to the highest standards, at realistic levels and with consumer protection at its heart. Construction 2020 contains 75 Actions in total and my Department, together with the Housing Agency, will be directly involved in the delivery of over 30 of these Actions. The strategy seeks to address issues such as access to mortgage finance on reasonable and sustainable terms, explicitly recognising the need for greater mobility in the private housing market. Action 4, which is being led by the Department of Finance, commits to examining the key barriers to housing mobility.

Election Management System

 346. Deputy Seamus Healy Information on Seamus Healy Zoom on Seamus Healy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan if he will arrange for public access to all election counts in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28532/14]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Admittance to count centres is a matter for the relevant returning officer. The Electoral Act 1992, in sections 113 and 60(10), provides that the returning officer, his assistants and clerks, members of the Garda Síochána on duty and candidates and their agents may be present at the counting of votes at a Dáil election. No other person may be present at a count without the permission of the returning officer. In guidance issued by my Department in advance of elections and referendums, returning officers are advised to ensure that the numbers admitted to count centres are not such as to impede the work of count staff or of the candidates and their agents. Similar provisions apply under the electoral Acts in relation to other elections and referendums.

Defence Forces Reserve Strength

 347. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Defence Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter if he will provide in tabular form the establishment and effective strength of Reserve Defence Force by brigade and unit at 31 March 2014; if the military have set target dates for the following stages in 2014, date by which successful recruits to RDF will be notified, date for all attestations completed, date for initial training completed by brigade; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28422/14]

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny It was not possible to provide the detailed information sought by the Deputy in the time available. My Department is currently seeking to compile the relevant data and I will provide the information directly to the Deputy once it comes to hand.

  Question No. 348 withdrawn.

Agriculture Scheme Eligibility

 349. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney when he will send the application seeking approval for the terms and conditions of the new GLAS scheme to the EU; if he will remove the condition requiring a 50% threshold for farmers with commonage land to participate in the scheme in view of the fact that figures show only 24% of farmers with commonage land participated in previous environmental schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27808/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I intend to finalise and submit the full Rural Development Programme for Ireland to the EU for approval within the next week. This will include the detailed proposals for GLAS. As regards farmers with commonage, the key thing here has always been to balance the critical mass required to deliver a meaningful commonage plan acceptable under the various National and EU funded schemes. The consultation process on the RDP has not yet concluded and I am aware of the issues raised on this point by farm organisations. I am considering how best to address the issues raised.

Turbary Rights

 350. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he will outline the allocated turbary history of a plot of bog in County Sligo; the present position regarding a person (details supplied) in relation to the right of turbary over said plot; the options that exist for the person named to establish the history of the allocated turbary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27820/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney According to my Department’s records the right of turbary over Plot 104 in the townland of Cloonkeelaun, County Sligo was allotted to the named person by Purchase Agreement dated 25 March 1929 and vested in him on 9 September 1938. The turbary right was registered as appurtenant to Folio SL12378 and in 2001 was also registered as appurtenant to Folio SL16764F. If the individual named wishes to harvest turf from the plot he should take the matter up with the registered owners of the folios concerned.

Aquaculture Licence Applications

 351. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney further to Parliamentary Question No. 574 of 19 November 2013, if further progress has been made regarding this application; if the outcome of the appropriate assessment has been completed in respect of Donegal Bay; if the applications in respect of Donegal Bay are currently being decided; the anticipated timeframe involved in determining the decisions on outstanding applications for this bay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27824/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Appropriate Assessment in respect of Donegal Bay has been completed by the Marine Institute.

  My Department is currently examining the general licensing issues that arise for consideration as a result of the Appropriate Assessment. This process is ongoing and it is expected that the public consultation stage of the licensing process will commence shortly.

  The average timeframe for processing each particular application varies depending on location, species, scale and intensity of production, statutory status of sites, potential visual impact etc. Other factors include consideration of any submissions or observations raised during the public consultation period.

  My Department continues to make every effort to expedite the determination of the Donegal Bay aquaculture licence applications having regard to the need to comply with all relevant national and EU legislation.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Eligibility

 352. 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 the reason a person (details supplied) in County Clare will not be eligible for a disadvantaged area scheme payment in 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27849/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The person named is not eligible under the 2014 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme as his holding did not achieve the minimum stocking density in 2011 of 0.3 livestock units per forage hectare, as required under the Terms and Conditions governing the 2014 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme. Having unsuccessfully sought derogation from this requirement, the person named subsequently appealed unsuccessfully to the independently chaired DAS Appeals Committee. The person named was informed accordingly and advised of his right to pursue the matter with the Office of the Ombudsman. He has not availed of this option.

Following agreement on the Reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme will be replaced by the Areas of Natural Constraints Scheme (ANC) in 2015. If the person named applies for and meets the requirements of that Scheme, which will be similar to a great extent to the provisions of the current Scheme, he will be eligible to benefit from payment under the ANC Scheme from 2015 onwards.

Animal Welfare

 353. 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 conduct a review of the enforcement of animal welfare laws in view of a recent increase in violent and public acts of violence and cruelty against animals. [28023/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I have previously stated that incidents of animal cruelty are unacceptable and my Department devotes considerable resources to protecting animal welfare and for dealing with breaches of animal welfare legislation. The new Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013, which I introduced last year, provides for increased levels of penalties. This comprehensive Act sends a clear message to all that cruelty to animals is unacceptable and I believe that the increased penalties will act as a deterrent to perpetrators of such actions. For major cases taken on indictment, the maximum penalty has been raised from €100,000 to €250,000 with a maximum custodial sentence of five years imprisonment.

  My Department continues to work very closely with welfare organisations, local authorities and An Garda Síochána in order to ensure intervention in cases of animal neglect or cruelty. In the past eighteen months, my Department has paid almost €3.8m to the various local authorities throughout the country to assist their work in implementing their responsibilities under the Control of Horses Act, 1996. This funding enables the local authorities through enacted by-laws to seize any horse posing a danger to persons or property or being kept or ridden in designated exclusion areas.

  In view of the role animal welfare organisation can play in local communities, particularly in educating young people in animal welfare, I provided increased funding of €1.8m to 136 organisations involved in animal care and welfare services throughout the country to support their activities in 2014. The level of funding provided to these organisations has been increased for the third year in a row, reflecting the importance I attach to their work. To enable the reporting of incidences of animal cruelty, my Department continues to operate a network of regional offices throughout the country together with an Animal Welfare Helpline (lo call - 1850 211 990) and members of the public can report any instance where animal welfare may be compromised.

Animal Welfare

 354. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his plans to ban or control sulky racing on roads and in public places; his views on the number of horses that have died because of accidents arising from sulky racing and use of sulkys on public roads; if he will investigate the welfare of such horses and establish a licence or registration system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28075/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Like all activities on the public road, sulky racing is governed by the Road Traffic Acts and imposes an obligation pursuant to these acts on the person engaged in this activity to drive their vehicles with due care for other road users and not to indulge in dangerous driving of the vehicles. Under the Control of Horses Act 1996, Local Authorities have powers to designate exclusion areas by enacting by-laws prohibiting persons from having a horse in an area except for bona fide reasons and this could extend to horses used in sulky racing. I would urge all local authorities to consider implementing these provisions in order to reduce the indiscriminate riding of horses by sulky racers.

I have recently introduced new regulations concerning the identification and change of ownership of horses. These regulations consolidate existing regulations and strengthen the powers of authorised officers to seize, detain and, where required, dispose of equines that are not compliant with the equine identification legislation.

New regulations relating to the transfer of ownership of horses come into effect today, 1 July. Under these regulations, ownership details of all new foals registered and horses bought and sold will be captured by Passport Issuing Bodies and on my Department’s equine database, thereby readily identifying the owner/person responsible for the equine.

As is evident from the foregoing, I have undertaken much work in the tightening of controls on the identification and traceability of horses in recent years. My Department and other State Agencies now have a suite of instruments in relation to identification of horses, ownership and premises where horses are kept. The new regulations will further assist my Department and other agencies, including An Garda Síochána and local authorities, in identifying and taking appropriate action on owners in cases where horses are found neglected or welfare-compromised.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments

 355. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney when a person (details supplied) in County Roscommon will receive a payment; the reason for the delay in same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28083/14]

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 2010 Agri-Environment Options Scheme (AEOS 1) with effect from 1 September 2010 and full payment has issued in respect of the 2010, 2011 and 2012 Scheme years.

During a 2013 inspection, the person named was deemed non-compliant in respect of the Alternative Water Source for Bovine action which resulted in the termination of the application. A letter issued on 13 January 2014 notifying the person named of the Inspection findings and giving a right of appeal to the Department. The person named successfully appealed this decision to my Department and a letter issued to him on 7 February 2014 informing him of his re-instatement to the Scheme. A revised penalty letter outlining issues identified with the Traditional Stone Wall Maintenance action issued to the person named on 18 March 2014.

Payment in respect of the 2013 Scheme year has been processed on the basis of the Inspection findings and 75% payment issued to the person named on 27 June 2014. The balancing 25% will follow shortly.

Beef Data Programme

 356. Deputy Colm Keaveney Information on Colm Keaveney Zoom on Colm Keaveney asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the grounds on which a person (details supplied) in County Galway was refused payment under the beef genomics scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28099/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney My Department has no record of having received an application under the 2014 Beef Genomics Scheme/Beef Data Programme for the person named. The person named wrote to my Department on 26 March 2014 stating he applied for the above Schemes and supplied a certificate of postage. However, the applicant’s review was unsuccessful as the required evidence of postage is a Swiftpost receipt, as set out at Section 8 of the Terms and Conditions, which was not produced. He subsequently appealed the decision which was reviewed by the Head of the Section. The original decision was upheld and the person named was informed of this in a letter dated 17 June 2014. He was advised of his right to appeal this decision to the Agriculture Appeals Office, Kilminchy Court, Portlaoise, Co. Laois.

Departmental Correspondence

 357. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding deer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28157/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Responsibility for the protection of wild deer in the State under the Wildlife Acts rests with the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. I understand, however, that there is an annual open season during which deer can legally be shot under licence. Control of deer on private property is the responsibility of landowners who may apply to the Department of Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht for a permission under section 42 of the Wildlife Acts to cull deer where this is necessary outside the annual open seasons. These permissions offer a facility whereby a person can obtain a permit, on a case by case basis, to prevent serious damage caused by individual deer on specific lands. Permissions are issued by D/AHG where there is evidence of such damage.

I am aware of the issues around an increasing deer population, including its effects on agriculture and forestry. Deer management is complex, with different views held by various stakeholders and addressing deer related problems will require a high degree of agreement, co-operation and concerted action by the stakeholders and Departments concerned. My Department, together with the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, will shortly set up a non-statutory Irish Deer Management Forum, independently chaired with relevant officials from the two Departments as well as other stakeholders representing hunting, farming, forestry and conservation interests.

My Department has received complaints about growing deer numbers in certain parts of the country and putative associations with higher levels of Bovine TB have been alleged. However, my Department’s belief is that, in so far as TB is concerned, the underlying problem in these areas is driven primarily by badgers and not by deer. In fact, research has shown that deer as a species are not particularly effective as maintenance hosts for TB except when numbers are high. In this context, an exercise conducted in 2007-2008 focused on TB strain-typing in cattle, deer and badgers, found a significantly higher prevalence in badgers than in either cattle or deer.

With respect to TB in deer in Kerry, in the period since January 2011, samples from only 4 deer have been submitted through my Department’s regional veterinary laboratories as suspect TB. These samples were examined and cultured but TB was not confirmed in any deer (parasitic lesions and localised abscesses). My Department therefore has no recent evidence to substantiate claims that the deer in Kerry are responsible for transmission of TB to cattle.

Notwithstanding the complaints about high levels of TB in particular areas, there has been a very significant improvement in TB incidence in cattle over the past number of years: herd incidence has fallen from 5.9% in 2008 to 3.9% in 2013. The number of reactors has declined from 30,000 to 15,600 during the same period. While it is difficult to attribute the downward trends exclusively to a single factor, my Department believes that much of the improvement in the TB situation, in recent years, is attributable to the effective implementation of the badger removal programme.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Payments

 358. Deputy Dan Neville Information on Dan Neville Zoom on Dan Neville asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if all outstanding moneys due under the disadvantaged area scheme for 2013 will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if contact will be made by his Department with the person. [28217/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I can confirm that officials from my Department are in ongoing contact with the person named, most recently on 23 June 2014, following which outstanding documentation in relation to the 2013 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme application of the person named is awaited. As soon as this documentation is received by my Department, the case will be further reviewed and the person named advised directly of the outcome in writing.

Beef Data Programme

 359. 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 his Department have tendered for the provision of the tissue sampling kit for the beef data programme and the beef genomics programme; the estimated value of this contract; if it was not tendered for, the reason this was not required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28258/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney In the development of the Beef Genomics Scheme my Department had a number of options in relation to the extraction of genetic material from cattle, namely i) swabs, ii) hair or iii) tissue tags. The decision was taken to proceed with tissue tagging option on the basis that it is the most scientifically robust with the lowest error rate compared to the other two options as well as being the activity being most familiar to farmers.

  My Department requested the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) to facilitate the implementation of the Scheme. This reflects the ICBF’s position as the only body approved in Ireland under EU legislation (Commission Decision 2006/427/EC) to carry out testing, genetic evaluation and publication of breeding values for Irish dairy and beef cattle. The EU legislation states “all data must be recorded under the responsibility of the approved body” . This legislation lays down performance monitoring methods and methods for accessing cattle’s genetic value for purebred breeding animals of the bovine species to be operated in Member States.   

  As my Department has an existing contract for the provision of tags, including conventional tags, electronic tags and tissue tags, the procurement of tissue tags for the purposes of implementation of the 2014 BGS is covered by this arrangement. The contract for supply of these tags is effective from 1 November 2012 to 31 October 2014 but as the details of the contract are commercially sensitive I am not in a position to comment on it. I am pleased to say however that the 2014 BGS is progressing very well with almost 100,000 samples returned from farmers to date.

  The ICBF has a proven track record in this country in relation to large scale genetic evaluation projects, for example, the Economic Breeding Index (EBI) for dairy cattle. This programme was developed between the ICBF and Teagasc and is the key profit driver for dairy farmers, and was designed to suit our unique spring calving production systems. It is hoped that through the BGS and the development of an Economic Breeding Index (EBI) for beef cattle there will be a similar impact on profitability in the beef sector

  The BGS in 2014 has an allocation of €23 million and is funded by the Exchequer. The purpose of the scheme is to build a training population for the genetic evaluation of the Irish beef herd. It is intended to follow on from this measure with a new programme called the “Beef Data and Genomics Programme” co-funded by the European Union (EU) under the Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2014-2020. This scheme will support the application of genomic technology to the suckler herd and bring a new level of quality for all animals (bulls, cows, steers and heifers) into Irish beef herds.

  All of these measures are continued evidence of the Government’s financial support for the national suckler herd, which is a vital element of the Irish beef industry, and will allow the sector to achieve the targets set out in Food Harvest 2020.

Public Service Contracts

 360. 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 reason there is only one approved supplier of cattle tags where there are 13 approved suppliers of sheep tags; his views that a multiplicity of approved suppliers would ensure competition in the marketplace for price and quality service; if the next time this contract comes up for tender it is intended to do it on an approved supplier basis; when the contract is due to be retendered; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [28259/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The restriction of the supply of bovine tags to a single supplier is designed to ensure that farmers obtain the best tag from a technical and price perspective. The farming organisations have expressed a preference for this approach on the basis that it ensures that ear tags can be made available at a more competitive price by a single supplier benefiting from economies of scale. Competition as between the various potential suppliers is ensured through public procurement competitions which are held by my Department on a regular basis to source a contractor for the supply of bovine tags. Tag supply companies are invited to submit a tender application as part of this process.

The holding of competitions for the supply of bovine tags on a regular basis ensures the Department’s evolving requirements can be met in a manner that is consistent with ensuring high technical standards in a competitive framework whilst availing of quality products consistent with best available technology and value for money.

The current contractual arrangements provide for a two year tenure from 1 November 2012, with the option of two extensions of one year durations. The intention is to continue with a public procurement competition for the supply of bovine tags from a single supplier into the future.


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