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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 560-583
 Header Item Noise Pollution Legislation
 Header Item Departmental Contracts Data
 Header Item Sports Capital Programme
 Header Item Road Projects Status
 Header Item Driver Licences
 Header Item Driver Test Data
 Header Item Railway Stations
 Header Item Road Projects Status
 Header Item Rail Network
 Header Item Regional Road Network
 Header Item Sports Capital Programme
 Header Item Foireann Roinne
 Header Item Domestic Violence Refuges Provision
 Header Item Vacancies on State Boards
 Header Item Appointments to State Boards Data
 Header Item Ministerial Communications
 Header Item Departmental Bodies Data
 Header Item After-School Support Services
 Header Item Child Care Costs
 Header Item Internet Safety
 Header Item Youth Services Funding

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 962 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 87 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 560-583

Noise Pollution Legislation

 560. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the position regarding the introduction of primary legislation to give effect to EU Regulation 598/2014 on aircraft noise management; if a public body has been nominated as the competent authority for the purpose of the regulation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50390/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The Deputy may be aware that in October I advised the Dáil of the most recently received legal advices which have had the effect of ruling out the Irish Aviation Authority as the preferred nominated Competent Authority under EU Regulation 598/14.

While this clearly represents a setback, my Department is working to find an expeditious resolution to this issue, and I expect to receive revised proposals on this matter in the near future. Furthermore, I expect these proposals to be subjected to detailed legal scrutiny before a final decision is made.

As soon as an implementable course of action is presented to me for decision I will advise the House of my intentions.

Departmental Contracts Data

 561. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the public contracts between his Department and companies (details supplied) in each of the years 2011 to 2016; the value of each contract; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50409/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The information requested by the Deputy is available on my Department's website at the following link:

http://www.dttas.ie/corporate/english/expenditure-external-services.

Sports Capital Programme

 562. Deputy Tom Neville Information on Tom Neville Zoom on Tom Neville asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the sources of finance a rowing club can apply for aside from the sports capital grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50442/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The Sports Capital Programme is the Government’s primary vehicle for supporting the development of sports facilities and the purchase of non-personal sports equipment.  Apart from the Sports Capital Programme, it is also possible for sports clubs to raise funds via the ‘Tax Relief for Donations to Certain Sports Bodies’ scheme (section 847A of the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997). This is a Revenue Commissioners operated scheme which offers tax benefits to individuals or companies who make donations to sports clubs.  Further details on this scheme and how it operates can be found on the Revenue Commissioners website.

Outside of the above, I understand that support for sports clubs is sometimes provided by the National Governing Bodies of Sport, Local Authorities (including Local Sports Partnerships) and Local Development Companies such as LEADER Partnerships.

Road Projects Status

 563. Deputy Eamon Scanlon Information on Eamon Scanlon Zoom on Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the status of the upgrade for the N4 from Mullingar to Rooskey. [50507/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme.  The planning, design and implementation of individual road projects  is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland under the Roads Acts 1993-2015 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.  Within its capital budget, the assessment and prioritisation of individual projects is a matter in the first instance for TII in accordance with Section 19 of the Roads Act.

  Noting the above position, I have referred the Deputy's question to TII for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you don't receive a reply within 10 working days.

  The deferred reply under Standing Order 42A was forwarded to the Deputy.

Driver Licences

 564. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan Information on Aindrias Moynihan Zoom on Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if motorcyclists renewing their full licences are required to provide an initial basic training certificate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50514/17]

 565. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan Information on Aindrias Moynihan Zoom on Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if motorcyclists that hold licences and are progressed to licences for larger bikes are required to do the training course and provide an initial basic training certificate as they move through each stage to Class A full licence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50515/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I propose to take Questions Nos. 564 and 565 together.

Initial Basic Training (IBT) is a requirement of the motorcycle learner process, and was introduced in 2011 as part of the Graduated Driver Licensing system. Under the Road Traffic (Courses of Instruction) (Motorcycles) Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 681 of 2011), which provide for IBT, anyone acquiring a learner permit for a motorcycle must first complete IBT before driving a motorcycle in a public place, except on occasions where they are doing so as part of an IBT training course.

IBT is a requirement under the regulations for anyone acquiring a first learner permit in any of the motorcycle categories after the commencement of the regulations.

In relation to the specific queries raised by the Deputy, there is no requirement to undertake IBT for renewal of a licence.

When a person who already holds a licence in one of the motorcycle categories becomes a learner in one of the other categories, they are required to take the IBT course for that category. The rationale for this is that they are now a learner in a different class of machine which requires different handling.

Driver Test Data

 566. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the number of persons awaiting an appointment for a driving test, by county; the average waiting time for receiving an appointment nationwide; the worse ten centres for waiting times to date; his plans to deal with these backlogs; if a reserve list of driving testers is available to clear such backlogs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50616/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross This is a matter for the Road Safety Authority. I have referred the question to the Authority for direct reply. I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response is not received within 10 days.

  The deferred reply under Standing Order 42A was forwarded to the Deputy.

Railway Stations

 567. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the position regarding the re opening of Dunleer railway station, County Louth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50617/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I wish to advise the Deputy that my previous reply in response to Dáil Question No. 1045 on 13 July 2017 from the Deputy on this issue remains unchanged.  Iarnród Éireann has not made any proposal to my Department regarding Dunleer railway station and the reopening of the station is not included in the public transport projects under the Government's present Capital Plan.

Road Projects Status

 568. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the position regarding the proposed bypass of Ardee; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50618/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme.  The planning, design and implementation of individual road projects  is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland under the Roads Acts 1993-2015 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.  Within its capital budget, the assessment and prioritisation of individual projects is a matter in the first instance for TII in accordance with Section 19 of the Roads Act.

  Noting the above position, I have referred the Deputy's question to TII for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you don't receive a reply within 10 working days.

  The deferred reply under Standing Order 42A was forwarded to the Deputy.

Rail Network

 569. Deputy Thomas Byrne Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross his views on whether there is overcrowding on rail lines; his further views on the need for greater capacity on rail lines, particularly on the Dunboyne and Drogheda commuter lines; and his plans to authorise the purchase of more rolling stock to meet demand. [50619/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, I have responsibility for policy and overall funding of public transport. The operation of the heavy rail network and for assessing rolling stock requirements for the network are a matter for Iarnród Éireann in the first instance in conjunction with the National Transport Authority. 

  Noting the responsibility of the agencies, I have referred the Deputy's question to Iarnród Éireann for direct reply on the specific issues raised.  Please advise my office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

  The deferred reply under Standing Order 42A was forwarded to the Deputy.

Regional Road Network

 570. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if consideration will be given to the funding of pedestrian crossing facilities at a location in Dublin 11 (details supplied) in view of the fact that the area has a high level of population growth including almost 3,000 children under 18 years of age and a total population of almost 9,000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50643/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads and traffic management within its area of responsibility is the statutory responsibility of each local authority. 

As regards the grants provided by my Department to local authorities to supplement their own expenditure relating to road maintenance and improvement, the four Dublin Councils became self funding for regional and local roads under the main road grant headings from 2015 due their receipts from the Local Property Tax. 

In relation to the  Sustainable Traffic Management Grants mentioned in the Council’s proposal, this scheme is the responsibility of the National Transport Authority and I have, therefore, referred the Deputy’s Question to the Authority for direct reply.  Please advise my Office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days

A referred reply was forwarded to the Deputy under Standing Order 42A.

Sports Capital Programme

 571. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross his plans to announce the sports capital grants for 2017: the reason for the delay in announcing these grants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50649/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Brendan Griffin): Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin The 2017 round of the Sports Capital Programme closed for applications on 24 February. By the closing date, a record number of 2,320 applications seeking €155 million in grants were received. 

When the programme was launched, it was envisaged that €30m would be available which would have made the allocation of grants particularly challenging. Following the conclusion of the budget discussions and in order to allow as many worthwhile projects as possible to receive some funding, Minister Ross and I were pleased to secure significant extra resources to allocate under this round.

The assessment of all the 2,320 applications is now complete and it is expected that details of the allocations will be announced later this week. 

Question No. 572 answered with Question No. 555.

Foireann Roinne

 573. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Iompair, Turasóireachta agus Spóirt Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross cén líon iomlán foirne atá fostaithe ina Roinn faoi láthair; cé mhéid post atá daingnithe nó aitheanta ag an Roinn (i scéim teanga, nó ar aon bhealach eile) mar phoist a bhfuil riachtanas Gaeilge ag baint leo; cé mhéid duine atá ann ag a bhfuil líofacht i nGaeilge agus atá ag feidhmiú sna poist sin atá daingnithe no aitheanta mar phoist a bhfuil riachtanas Gaeilge ag baint leo; an bhfuil sé beartaithe ag an tráth seo aon phost eile de chuid na Roinne a aithint mar phoist a bhfuil riachtanas Gaeilge. [50690/17]

 574. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Iompair, Turasóireachta agus Spóirt Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross cé mhéid folúntas a líonadh ina Roinn ó thús na bliana seo; cé mhéid de na folúntais sin a bhain le poist a bhí sainaitheanta mar phoist a raibh Gaeilge riachtanach ina leith; cé mhéid folúntas atá le líonadh faoi láthair agus cé mhéid de na folúntais siúd atá sainaitheanta mar fholúntais a bhfuil riachtanas Gaeilge ag baint leo. [50707/17]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I propose to take Questions Nos. 573 and 574 together.

There are currently 513 staff, including temporary staff, in my Department and I anticipate this will increase to 514 by year end.  80 staff have been recruited in to my Department this year, in the main to fill vacancies arising from transfers, retirements, etc.  There is one post which requires competence in the Irish language and that is the Irish Language Officer post.  There are a number of people in my Department who have written and oral fluency in the Irish language outside of this post.  They provide a service through Irish on a voluntary basis alone.

My Department has committed within its 2017-2020 Irish Language Scheme to, by the end of year one of the scheme, identify if any posts for which Irish language competency is an essential requirement.  Every effort will be made to fulfill these requirements by the end of this scheme having regard to recruitment, promotion and training policies, as appropriate.  This will enable this Department to plan and prioritise the incremental improvement of services in Irish in a more strategic manner. This will be reviewed on an annual basis.

Tá foireann 513 in mo Roinn faoi láthair, foireann shealadach san áireamh, agus tá súil agam go méadóidh an líon seo go 514 faoi dheireadh na bliana.  Earcaíodh 80 ball foirne ar mo Roinn i mbliana, go príomha le folúntais a líonadh a eascraíonn as aistrithe, scor, etc.  Is é post an Oifigigh Gaeilge an t-aon phost amháin i mo Roinn a éilíonn inniúlacht sa Ghaeilge.  Tá roinnt ball foirne sa Roinn atá líofa i scríobh agus labhairt na Gaeilge taobh amuigh den phost seo.  Cuireann siad seirbhís trí Ghaeilge ar fáil ar bhonn deonach amháin.

Tá mo Roinn tiomanta do phoist a aithint a éilionn sa Ghaeilge, faoi dheireadh na chéad bhliana dá Scéim Teanga Gaeilge 2017-2010. Déanfar gach iarracht na riachtanais seo a chomhlíonadh faoi dheireadh na scéime seo, ag féachaint do chúrsaí eacraíochta, arduithe céime agus do pholasaithe oiliúna, mar is cuí.  Cuirfidh sé seo ar chumas na Roinne feabhsú incriminteach a gcuid seirbhísí Gaeilge a phleanáil agus a chur chun tosaíochta ar bhealach níos straitéisí.  Déanfar athbhreithniú air seo ar bhonn bliantúil.

Domestic Violence Refuges Provision

 575. Deputy Catherine Martin Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone her plans for the provision of a 24-7 refuge for victims of domestic violence in Dún Laoghaire Rathdown; if so, the timeframe for the development of this refuge; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50009/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has statutory responsibility for the care and protection of victims of domestic, sexual and gender based violence whether in the context of the family or otherwise. At all times, Tusla’s key priority is to ensure that the needs of victims of domestic violence are being met in the best way possible.

In 2017, I provided Tusla with funding of over €22 million for domestic, sexual and gender-based violence services. This represented an increase of €1.5 million over 2016. Arising from Budget 2018, I am pleased to inform the Deputy that a further increase in funding of €1.7 million is being provided to Tusla next year for these services.

Tusla's priority is to achieve the best outcomes for victims of domestic violence from the use of its available resources. The provision of capital funding for refuges is dealt with by the Housing Authorities and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.

Tusla recognises that the provision of emergency refuge accommodation for victims of domestic violence is a core element of the response to domestic violence. Safe Homes provide another service to those affected by domestic violence that may require lower levels of support. Safe Home accommodation comprises independent housing units with additional safety measures, where victims and families receive intensive support to achieve long term safety and well-being.

While there is no domestic violence refuge located in the Dún Laoghaire Rathdown area, there are currently four units of emergency Safe Home accommodation provided in the area, which are supported by Tusla. Victims of domestic violence and their children can also access emergency refuge accommodation in refuges across Dublin or in adjacent areas, such as Bray and Tallaght. At present there are no plans for development of a refuge in the Dún Laoghaire Rathdown area.

Tusla is aware of service pressures in certain areas of the country, and is actively examining needs and appropriate responses through its commissioning process. Tusla will continue to engage with service providers and other stakeholders to review accommodation and to improve provision in areas of need.

Vacancies on State Boards

 576. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the number of vacancies in each State board under the aegis of her Department, in tabular form. [49930/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I am responsible for appointment of members to the boards of the Adoption Authority of Ireland, the Child and Family Agency (Tusla), Gaisce and the Board of Management of the Oberstown Children Detention Campus. There are currently no vacancies on any of the State boards under the aegis of my Department.

Appointments to State Boards Data

 577. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the names of persons she has appointed to each State board under the aegis of her Department that have not come from the Public Appointments Service list of suitable candidates, in tabular form. [49992/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I am responsible for the appointment of members to the boards of the Adoption Authority of Ireland, the Child and Family Agency (Tusla), Gaisce (the President's Award) and the Board of Management for Oberstown Children Detention Campus. Since becoming Minister in May 2016, I have made 11 appointments that have not come from the Public Appointments Service lists of suitable candidates.

  I made 13 appointments to the new Board of Management for Oberstown Children Detention Campus with effect from 1 June 2016. The Board consists of the Chairperson and 12 Ordinary members. Of the 12 Ordinary members, I appointed 5 members from a list of suitable candidates following advertisement by the Public Appointments Service.

  I appointed Professor Ursula Kilkelly, Dean of the School of Law, University College Cork as Chairperson of the Oberstown Board. Professor Kilkelly is recognised as a leading expert in issues relating to the detention of children and has published widely on youth justice issues. She was already a member of the Board since 2012 and had been acting chairperson since May 2015.

  I appointed the remaining 7 members of the Oberstown board on foot of the requirements of section 167 of the Children Act 2001, as follows:

  - Mr Jim Gibson - interim Chief Operations Officer of Tusla, the Child and Family Agency was nominated by the Minister for Health;

  - Ms Fionnuala Anderson - an Education Officer in Dublin and Dun Laoghaire Education and Training Board was nominated by the Minister for Education and Skills;

  - Ms Sinead O’Herlihy and Mr Fiachra Barrett are members of staff on the Oberstown campus who were nominated for appointment on foot of a local balloting process by Oberstown staff in December 2015;

  - Mr Pat Rooney and Ms Elizabeth Howard are local community residents in the vicinity of the Oberstown campus and were nominated by Lusk Community Council in November 2015;

  - Mr Dan Kelleher is a former Principal Officer in the Irish Youth Justice Service, Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

  Mr Dan Kelleher was subsequently replaced by Mr Tadgh Delaney in the Irish Youth Justice Service, Department of Children and Youth Affairs. Mr Liam Walsh was appointed on 2 November 2016 following his nomination by the Minister for Education and Skills to replace Ms Fionnuala Anderson who had previously resigned.

  I appointed Ms Miriam Dollard, a nomination of the Taoiseach, to the board of Gaisce in November 2016.

  All other appointments that I have made to State boards under the aegis of my Department have been selected from suitable candidates identified through the Public Appointments Service process.

  The information sought by the Deputy is set out in tabular form, as requested, below.

Board Board Member Date of Appointment
  Ursulla Kilkelly

Jim Gibson

Fionnuala Aderson

Sinead O’Herlihy

Fiachra Barrett

Pat Rooney

Elizabeth Howard

Dan Kelleher
01/6/2016
  Tadgh DelaneyBoard 26/07/2016Board Member
Board of Management for Oberstown Children Detention Campus Liam Walsh 02/11/2016Ursulla Kilkelly

Jim Gibson

Fionnuala Aderson

Sinead O’Herlihy

Fiachra Barrett

Pat Rooney

Elizabeth Howard

Dan Kelleher
Gaisce Miriam Dollard 24/11/2016Tadgh Delaney
  Board of Management for Oberstown Children Detention Campus Liam Walsh
  

Ministerial Communications

 578. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if she has used a private email account to send or receive official documents or positions on Brexit; and if so, the details of this correspondence. [50053/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I have not used a private email account for the purpose outlined in the Deputy's question.

Departmental Bodies Data

 579. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the bodies under the aegis of her Department to which her Department provides in excess of €1 million funding per annum; the public funding received by these bodies; the bodies for which 50% or more of their income comes from public sources; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [50109/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Particulars of the State bodies under the aegis of my Department and details of the Exchequer provisions allocated to them in 2017 are set out in the table:

Agency €m
Child and Family Agency 713
Oberstown Children Detention Campus 26
Adoption Authority of Ireland 4
Office of the Ombudsman for Children 6
  

After-School Support Services

 580. Deputy Peter Burke Information on Peter Burke Zoom on Peter Burke asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if there is an existing subsidy or tax relief for persons that send their children to Educate Together homework clubs; the details of these initiatives and income thresholds; her plans to increase the subsidy or tax relief for persons that currently do not qualify; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50140/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone My Department provides subsidies for after school childcare which can include homework clubs.

Families are eligible for subsidies under the Community Childcare Subvention (CCS), Community Childcare Subvention Plus (CCSP) and Training and Employment (TEC) programmes. This childcare funding may be used towards a place in an afterschool setting. The subsidies are paid to childcare providers for eligible families. The rates of subsidy vary according to certain eligibility criteria including social welfare and/or medical card entitlement or participating in a Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection employment programme. Under the measures which were introduced in September the subsidy rates have been increased significantly, in some instances, as much as 50%. by significantly increasing the subsidy rates for the Community Childcare Subvention and the Training and Employment Childcare Schemes, in some instance by as much as 50%.While the childcare funding is not specifically for homework clubs, the childcare place may involve homework supports.

I can confirm that the SCP budget for 124 SCP projects for the school years 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2016/17 was €23.3m per annum. For the school year 2015-16, the total level of spend for SCP projects on Interventions was €7.4m. Homework clubs fall within this element of the SCP budget and feature prominently in the returns. Interventions are split between In-School Interventions, After School Supports and Summer Supports.

I would like to highlight that significant progress has been made regarding the development of the Affordable Childcare Scheme (ACS). Once introduced, it will provide childcare supports for children aged from 6 months to 15 years. The ACS will replace the existing targeted childcare programmes with a single, streamlined and more user-friendly scheme and will include “wraparound‟ care for pre-school and school-age children.

The issue of tax relief should be addressed to the Minister of Finance as tax matters do not fall under the remit of my Department.

Child Care Costs

 581. Deputy Jack Chambers Information on Jack Chambers Zoom on Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if her attention has been drawn to the fact that large numbers of child care providers are continuing to increase fees following the introduction of the universal child care subsidy resulting in a loss of benefit to parents; the steps she is taking to address this; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50291/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone As the Deputies will be aware, the factors impacting on the costs across delivery of services in any sector are complex and multifaceted. The cost to childcare providers is affected by many factors such as rates, rent, labour costs, and insurance amongst other things.

  The cost to parents to access that childcare is decided by childcare providers taking account of these overheads.

  Notwithstanding this, I am committed to ensuring that childcare is affordable, accessible and of a high quality.

  The increase in supports I have provided from this month for the next programme year represents a major step towards accessible affordable quality childcare after decades of neglect and under-investment by successive Governments.

  There are two supports being rolled out under the Community Childcare Scheme. These include universal non means tested supports of up to €1,040 per year and enhanced supports of up to €7,500 per year to assist families to return to work, and/or training and education.

  I am delighted with the strong response from the sector. The number of providers signing up to deliver the services increases daily.

  My Department is monitoring the cost of childcare closely and will continue to do so. Initial research from a sampling of services shows that fee increases for full-term services delivering the Community Childcare Scheme (including CCS Plus) rose by €5.26 on average between this programme year (2017/18) and the previous programme year. By way of comparison the fees across all services delivering full-time childcare rose by €7.26 between 2015/16 and 2016/17 following a number or years of price stagnation.

If over the coming weeks or months those percentage increases in fees by service providers were to rise, then I will consider whether actions such as regulation or price capping is required for government schemes.

Towards meeting some of the administrative overhead, I announced in recent months payments totalling €3.5m towards 'non contact time' for all childcare providers who register for the enhanced childcare measures under the Community Childcare Scheme. This, in addition to €14.5m that has been already paid to childcare services so far in 2017 in recognition of administration associated with ECCE and other schemes, provides for €18m in 'non-contact time' payments this year.

Internet Safety

 582. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe Information on Kevin O'Keeffe Zoom on Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if her attention has been drawn to the term within the video gaming industry of loot crates which is in effect is a system whereby in-game currency or real money is used to unlock certain procedures or cosmetics within a particular video game; her views on whether this is an inappropriate form of in-game gambling that preys on young children leaving them exposed to a form of online gambling at a young age; and the measures she plans to take to address this issue.  [50306/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I am not familiar with the issues to which the Deputy refers. My Department has no remit in relation to the regulation of video games or online technologies. The classification of video games and regulations relating to gambling are within the remit of my colleague the Minister for Justice and Equality.

However, I am concerned about the need to protect children from online abuse and other dangers from which they need protection. I believe these issues require a whole of Government approach as I have outlined in my reply to Deputy Rabbitte's Priority Question today.

Youth Services Funding

 583. Deputy Thomas Byrne Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the level of funding for youth affairs in County Meath; and the way this compares with other counties. [50333/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone My Department administers a range of funding schemes and programmes to support the provision of youth services to young people throughout the country including those from disadvantaged communities. The funding schemes support national and local youth work involving approximately 1,400 youth work staff working in youth services and in communities. I am pleased to confirm that the total youth funding by my Department was €57.4m 2017. Budget 2018 provided an additional €1.5m in current funding to my Department to support the provision of youth services. This additional funding will be used for programmes that target disadvantaged young people. My Department has commenced a process with national organisations and local services to identify service development needs for 2018 and to finalise the 2018 allocations. Every effort will be made to complete this process as soon as possible.

  In 2017, an amount of €138,788 was allocated for the targeted youth projects and services in County Meath, as follows:

Projects - Meath 2017 Grant
Youth Work Ireland €92,842
Involve - Meath Youth Traveller Project (Navan) €45,946
Total €138,788


  Funding to these staff-led youth services has generally been targeted at areas of disadvantage and not in proportion to the youth population of each county. My Department this year completed an exercise with Pobal and each Education and Training Board which mapped youth service provision across the State. This mapping exercise will assist my Department and each Education and Training Board in developing a detailed social demographic profile in terms of both population numbers and deprivation levels and will inform future development and investment in youth services. My Department is committed to working with Louth and Meath Education and Training Board to identify need and explore ways to address this need where it emerges.

  The Local Youth Club Grant Scheme supports youth work activities at a local level. These grants are made available to all youth clubs and groups through the local Education and Training Boards. The scheme, which is open to new entrants, is advertised locally and applications for funding are invited by the Education and Training Boards from local groups in their respective areas. Each year, some 1,700 local youth clubs are eligible to apply under the scheme. In 2017, I have provided an additional 10% in funding to the scheme, bringing the total allocation to €1.1715. Funds are allocated to each of the sixteen Education and Training Boards, in proportion to the most recent census population in 10 to 24 age range available at the time of allocation.

  In addition, I was pleased to approve the establishment the Local Youth Club Equipment Scheme in 2017 which will provide €6.35m. nationally. The primary focus of this scheme was to assist volunteer led clubs and groups that work with young people in communities throughout the country. The scheme provides for the purchase of equipment for sport, arts, adventure and other much needed items. Allocations to each of the sixteen Education and Training Boards were distributed in proportion to the number of clubs eligible to apply under the Local Youth Club Grant Scheme.

  Youth Officers of the Education and Training Boards have an important support role to my Department in the administration and coordination of youth services at local level. Youth Officers engage with local services, on behalf of my Department. They provide support and advice in matters to do with the application and reporting processes for funding and the implementation of quality standards in services for young people. In this context, I was pleased to provide funding to Louth and Meath Education and Training Board recruit a second youth officer during 2017. The allocation to the Education and Training Board for this purpose amounted to €129,640 in 2017.


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