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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 669-693
 Header Item Integrated Ticketing
 Header Item Swimming Pool Programme Status
 Header Item Driver Test Waiting Lists
 Header Item Sports Capital Programme
 Header Item Regional Airports
 Header Item Tourism Promotion
 Header Item Brexit Issues
 Header Item Rail Network Maintenance
 Header Item Road Traffic Offences
 Header Item Greenhouse Gas Emissions
 Header Item Córas Iompair Éireann
 Header Item Rail Services Data
 Header Item Sports Funding
 Header Item Tourism Ireland Funding
 Header Item Action Plan for Rural Development Implementation
 Header Item Ministerial Advisers Data
 Header Item Charitable and Voluntary Organisations
 Header Item Early Childhood Care and Education
 Header Item Child and Family Agency Payments
 Header Item Child Care Services Provision
 Header Item Legislative Measures
 Header Item Child and Family Agency Services
 Header Item Community Services Programme
 Header Item Ministerial Advisers Data

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 972 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 85 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 669-693

Integrated Ticketing

 669. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross when the roll-out of the Leap card will come into effect for students using public transport to travel from Mullingar to Athlone. [37474/18]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross I wish to advise the Deputy that the National Transport Authority (NTA) has statutory responsibility for the development, operation and maintenance of the Leap Card scheme.

  In light of their responsibility with regards to this matter, I have referred your query to the NTA for its attention and direct response. Please inform my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

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

Swimming Pool Programme Status

 670. Deputy John Curran Information on John Curran Zoom on John Curran asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross the status of a project (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37495/18]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Brendan Griffin): Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin In January of 2016, my Department contacted local authorities and sought expressions of interest in a limited round of swimming pool allocations under the Local Authority Swimming Pool Programme (LASPP). There were three expressions of interest received for new pools, two of which were valid and both in Dublin. Having assessed existing commitments and the funding available, it was decided to include the proposal from South Dublin County Council (SDCC) for a new swimming pool in Lucan in the LASPP.

My Department wrote to SDCC in April 2016 advising the Council to undertake the Preliminary Report stage (which includes the Feasibility Study, Appointment of Consultants for Preliminary Proposals and Design Brief). Documentation in this regard was received from SDCC in July 2016. Following examination by my Department's technical adviser and my officials, SDCC was given approval in October 2016 to appoint the recommended design team and proceed to the design brief. In April 2017, the detailed drawings were received by my Department and referred to my Department's technical advisor for consideration. Following clarification of some technical queries, my Department issued approval to the technical design element of the Preliminary Report on the 5th July 2017. This approval allowed the Council to have the detailed contract documents prepared and therefore allowed SDCC to proceed to the Part 8 planning process.

I have recently been informed that the contract documents were finalised by SDCC in August and advertised for tender on 9 August, with a closing date of 24 September. In this regard, my officials are currently liaising with the Council.

Driver Test Waiting Lists

 671. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross if the scheduling of a driver test for a person (details supplied) can be expedited; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37520/18]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross The driving test service is run by the Road Safety Authority (RSA) and I have no input into the scheduling of appointments. I accept that waiting times remain high in some areas but measures being put in place by the RSA are working towards reducing waiting times for the public.

The RSA provides a facility where driving test cancellations are made available to applicants who may need an urgent appointment. An applicant should contact the RSA directly and request that they be placed on the cancellation list. In order to be fair to all applicants, cancellation places will be assigned in order of the date of placement on the list. If an applicant requires a driving test urgently for employment or emigration purposes, the RSA will make every effort to accommodate them.

Sports Capital Programme

 672. Deputy Niamh Smyth Information on Niamh Smyth Zoom on Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross the funding available for voluntary organisations such as a club (details supplied) for the running of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37545/18]

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Brendan Griffin): Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin Sports clubs who do not own facilities may still apply for funding under the Sports Capital Programme (SCP). In this regard, applications can be submitted for funding for non-personal sports equipment or for a capital grant of up to €50,000 provided the club or organisation have the permission of the landlord and the other general terms and conditions of the Programme are adhered to.

A new round of the SCP is currently open with applications accepted up until the 19th October. All of the terms and conditions for making an application, including the template that the organisation's landlord must complete, are set out in a guide to making an application which is published on my Department's website (www.sportscapitalprogramme.ie). All applications must be submitted through this website. The SCP does not cover ongoing operational costs.

Regional Airports

 673. Deputy Michael Harty Information on Michael Harty Zoom on Michael Harty asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross the reason Shannon Airport has been excluded from the regional airports programme in view of passenger numbers of 1.7 million per annum; and the public supports, for example, the regional airports capital expenditure, CAPEX, grant scheme, which will be put in place to ensure the modernisation of the facilities at the airport. [37551/18]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross The Regional Airports Programme provides Exchequer support to Ireland’s smallest airports, namely Donegal, Ireland West Airport Knock, Kerry and Waterford through a number of schemes in compliance with EU Guidelines on State Aid. Passenger numbers at these airports are less than 1 million per year and the capital supports under the Programme are limited to grant-aiding investments in safety and security enhancements, thus helping these small airports to comply with international regulatory obligations in these areas.

Shannon Airport Authority (SAA), a subsidiary of Shannon Group plc, has statutory responsibility for the management and operation of Shannon Airport. In line with Government policy, Shannon Airport, which operates under a clear commercial mandate, is entirely funded from its own internal resources. It receives no funding from the Exchequer for its activities.

Supporting Ireland’s smallest airports through the Regional Airports Programme is a very clear policy objective in the National Aviation Policy. The policy does not provide for funding of Shannon Airport, or any of the State owned airports, as part of the Programme.

Tourism Promotion

 674. Deputy Michael Harty Information on Michael Harty Zoom on Michael Harty asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross the activities over the past two years that have been undertaken by Fáilte Ireland to encourage the expansion of traffic for tourism and business purposes via Shannon Airport. [37552/18]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross The matter raised by the Deputy is an operational matter for the board and management of Tourism Ireland. Accordingly, I have referred the Deputy's question to Tourism Ireland for direct reply. Please contact my private office if you have not received a reply within ten working days.

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

Brexit Issues

 675. Deputy Michael Harty Information on Michael Harty Zoom on Michael Harty asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross the preparations being made to ensure aviation transport linkages to the United Kingdom in the event of a hard Brexit in which the UK becomes a third country with respect to the IAA and European Union. [37553/18]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross Future air connectivity with the UK following Brexit is a major concern, particularly as there is no WTO fall-back position for this sector.

Brexit and its potential implications for Ireland are being managed on a whole-of-government basis. My Department is represented on all relevant cross-Departmental coordination structures, and an internal Departmental Committee on Brexit meets on a monthly basis to oversee the Department's analyses and planning as the EU-UK negotiations progress. My Department is preparing a Brexit Action Plan as well as continuing its contingency planning for a “no deal” UK exit from the EU. Ireland is also actively engaging with the European Commission Taskforce and the Brexit Preparedness Unit including on issues on which the EU has a lead policy role. This includes matters relating to aviation.

In addition to the work on contingency planning, there are ongoing consultations and meetings between my officials, other Government Departments and agencies, and other public and private key stakeholders in order to continue to plan for and mitigate the risks associated with Brexit.

It is also important that the aviation industry takes steps to prepare for the possibility of a disorderly Brexit and that industry stakeholders undertake contingency planning to minimise the impact of Brexit on their operations. Stakeholders should refer to the European Commission’s published Notices to Stakeholders in the field of air transport, aviation safety and aviation security.

The full implications of Brexit for air transport will only become clear once the negotiations have been completed and the arrangements for the future relationship between the EU and the UK have been decided.

Rail Network Maintenance

 676. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross the estimated cost of upgrading signalling centres on the rail network; his plans to replace signalling centres in 2018 or 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37562/18]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross The National Development Plan identifies a number of key investment priorities for the inter-urban rail network. These include, for example, the ongoing programme of investment to protect the quality and level of past investments through maintenance and renewal activities including signalling and such projects including the National Train Control Centre, the City Centre Resignalling Project and roll-out of on-board systems, etc.

Noting the role of Iarnród Éireann, in consultation with the National Transport Authority, in this matter I have forwarded the Deputy's question to Iarnród Éireann for further response. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.

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

Road Traffic Offences

 677. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross the measures he is taking to curb the use of scramblers and quad bikes on streets and in parks and amenity areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37600/18]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross Scrambler motorbikes and quadricycle bikes are mechanically propelled vehicles, which means that they are vehicles intended or adapted for propulsion by mechanical power. As such, irrespective of engine capacity, under road traffic legislation the user of a scrambler or quad bike in a public place must have insurance, road tax and a driving licence, and must also wear a helmet, with severe penalties under the road traffic laws (including fixed charge notices, penalty points, fines and possible seizure of the vehicle) for not being in compliance with these requirements.

For the purposes of the Road Traffic Acts, a "public place" means any public road, and any street, road or other place to which the public have access with vehicles whether as of right or by permission, and whether subject to or free of charge.

Road traffic legislation does NOT extend to private property, or to public parks, which are under the control of local authorities and subject to their bye-laws.

If a quad bike or scrambler is used in a public place, it is subject to the same comprehensive range of road traffic legislation as any other mechanically propelled vehicle, with enforcement being a matter for an Garda Síochána. Local authorities have the power to introduce bye-laws to prohibit the use of vehicles within their areas, such as public parks.

It is an offence to sell, loan or gift a mechanically propelled vehicle to a minor aged under 16 under Road.

A working group was recently set up by the Department of Justice and Equality to look at a cross-agency approach to tackling the illegal use of quad bikes and scramblers, and I understand that they will be looking at areas such as the bye-laws currently in place to allow local authorities to deal with the use of such vehicles on lands under their control and looking at effective enforcement methods. Officials from my Department attend this group, but no deficiencies have been identified in road traffic legislation regarding the use of such vehicles in a public place. Their use in any other areas is beyond the remit of my Department.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

 678. Deputy Eamon Ryan Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross the amount of atmospheric emissions generated by the Dublin Bus fleet; his plans to bring forward proposals to reduce emissions across the fleet; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37650/18]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross According to the most recent (2016) estimates from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, only around 3% of all transport-derived CO2 emissions come from our bus, coach and SPSV fleets. It is not possible to extract emissions specifically pertaining to Dublin Bus fleets from this figure; it is, however, clear that it represents a very limited proportion of total transport carbon emissions.

  Nevertheless, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from PSO fleets remains a priority for my Department. As the Deputy is aware, the National Development Plan has committed us to no longer buy diesel-only buses for the urban public bus fleet from July 2019, including, of course, the Dublin Bus fleet, and work is already underway on preparing for implementation of this transition. Together with the National Transport Authority (NTA) and key urban transport operators (Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann), my Department has begun planning an up-to-date and comprehensive set of bus trials to commence this year, with the objective of helping to further inform purchasing decisions for new buses over the coming years.

  Analysis of the suitability of different fuelling options for urban bus fleets is a complex issue and must consider a range of diverse factors. The data derived from the trials will build upon and complement information from trials and demonstrations of lower-emitting buses undertaken in other jurisdictions across Europe and further afield, providing us with a better picture of how these technologies operate in the Irish context. This will allow us to ensure the continued provision of efficient and cost-effective public transport services and support modal shift in an increasingly sustainable way.

  It should also be noted that the oldest and most polluting buses (Euro III- and Euro IV-classes) in the PSO fleets have been incrementally replaced with cleaner and greener Euro VI-class buses as part of the ongoing fleet renewal programme. Those older vehicles still remaining in the fleet will naturally be the first to be replaced as we transition towards lower-emitting alternative fuels and technologies with resulting reductions of both air quality pollutants and CO2 emissions.

Córas Iompair Éireann

 679. Deputy Eamon Ryan Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross if he will address a matter (details supplied) regarding property. [37659/18]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross The issue raised is an matter for Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ) and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to CIÉ for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within ten working days.

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

Rail Services Data

 680. Deputy Eamon Ryan Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross the number of days that each line was out of service on each rail route under the control of Iarnród Éireann in each of the past five years; the reason for disruption; the amount spent on rail replacement services by bus or taxi; the number of passengers discommoded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37660/18]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross The issues raised are matters for Iarnród Éireann and I have forwarded the Deputy's question to the company for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within 10 working days.

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

Sports Funding

 681. Deputy Peter Burke Information on Peter Burke Zoom on Peter Burke asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross the funding offered to persons who excel in niche sports and reach world finals (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37818/18]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross Sport Ireland is the statutory body with responsibility for the development and promotion of sport, increasing participation at all levels and raising standards, including the allocation of funding across its various programmes. Sport Ireland channels funding through its network of Local Sports Partnerships, recognised National Governing Bodies of Sport and other relevant sporting organisations.

  Sport Ireland recognises Motorsport Ireland as the National Governing Body for four-wheeled motorsport in Ireland. In 2018, Sport Ireland invested €137,000 in Motorsport Ireland through core funding, which supports administration, participation programmes, coach development, hosting events, implementing strategic plans and the employment of professional staff. Sport Ireland’s investment also contributes to both Motorsport Ireland’s Young Racing Driver of the Year and Billy Coleman Awards.

  Sport Ireland recommends contacting the National Governing Body directly with regard to individual funding. Contact details for Motorsport Ireland are as follows:

  Mr Leo Hassett, Chief Executive

  Motorsport Ireland

  34 Dawson Street

  Dublin 2

  Leo@motorsportireland.com

  Tel: + 353 1 6775628

Tourism Ireland Funding

 682. Deputy Seán Haughey Information on Seán Haughey Zoom on Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross the estimated full-year cost of increasing the overseas marketing budget for Tourism Ireland by 10%; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37823/18]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross The Tourism Ireland share of the Tourism Marketing Fund for 2018 amounts to €27,706,000. A 10% increase would cost €2,770,600.

Action Plan for Rural Development Implementation

 683. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the reason an action (details supplied) under the Action Plan for Rural Development was not delivered by the timeline committed to; the revised timeline by quarter and year for delivery of this action; if no revised timeline has been set to date, the reason therefor; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37112/18]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The Affordable Childcare Scheme is ambitious in its objectives: to establish a sustainable platform for investment in the childcare sector for decades to come and, through this, to support labour market activation, contribute to poverty reduction and continue to invest in giving our children the best start in life.

  To meet these objectives, the scheme is also ambitious in scale and design. It involves intensive work across legislative, ICT, administrative, governance and communications areas, and I am glad to report that positive progress is being made across all of these areas.

The legislation establishing the new Affordable Childcare Scheme, the Childcare Support Act 2018, was signed by the President on Monday, 2nd July. The Act will be underpinned by detailed secondary legislation and formal policy guidelines. Work is currently ongoing on both of these and also on the development of regulations to provide, for the first time, for the registration of school-age childcare services by the Tusla Early Years Inspectorate. These latter regulations will be introduced in advance of the Affordable Childcare Scheme to allow school-age childcare services to register and thereby participate in the scheme from its inception.

  Following a successful open tender procurement process, the ICT system to underpin the scheme is under development. The launch of the scheme is dependent on this ICT system. As such, now that an ICT contractor is in place, my officials are finalising a detailed project plan and I will shortly confirm and communicate a planned start date for the Affordable Childcare Scheme.

  With regard to the timeline of Q4 2017 set out in the Action Plan for Rural Development, I would note that, in Q3 2017, I introduced a range of interim measures designed to fast-track many of the benefits of the Affordable Childcare Scheme. These involved an increase of up to 50% in current targeted childcare subsidy rates and a new universal subsidy for all children aged between 6 months and 3 years who are in a Tusla-registered setting. To date, these measures have seen very good take-up rates and 84,000 children have benefitted. The measures will continue to be available over 2018 and 2019.

Ministerial Advisers Data

 684. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the political advisers being used by senior and junior Ministers in her Department since the commencement of this Government; the commencement dates of the employment of each; and the cessation dates of same employment in cases in which that applies. [36693/18]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Following commencement of this Government on the 6th May 2016, I was appointed as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. I appointed two Special Advisers, Ms Patricia Ryan and Mr Jerry O'Connor, who commenced employment on the 16th May 2016 and the 10th June 2016 respectively. Both appointments were made in accordance with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform Instructions for Ministerial Appointments.

Following the appointment of our current Taoiseach on the 14th June 2017, I retained my Ministerial appointment to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and re-appointed Ms Patricia Ryan and Mr Jerry O'Connor as my Special Advisers with effect from that date.

Charitable and Voluntary Organisations

 685. Deputy Sean Sherlock Information on Seán Sherlock Zoom on Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the number of registered charities and organisations that operate within her remit; the number of these that receive direct funding for the provision of services under her remit; and the cost per organisation in tabular form. [37075/18]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The information requested in respect of the number of registered charities and organisations that are in receipt of direct funding from my Department is currently being collated and will be forwarded to the Deputy in the near future.

Early Childhood Care and Education

 686. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the steps she plans to take regarding the anomaly that exists in the ECCE scheme further to correspondence (details supplied); the timeframe in which she plans to have this matter examined; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37204/18]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone From September 2018, all children meeting the minimum age requirement of 2 years and 8 months will be eligible for two full programme years on the Early Childhood Care and Education programme (ECCE), and the number of entry points reverted to one from that date. This measure enhances the previous provision, and increases the duration of each registered child on ECCE from a current average of 61 weeks, to a potential duration of 76 weeks (two programme years). This further expansion delivers on a commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government that is good for children, families and Early Years providers.

The practical provision of a second year of ECCE required either an increase in the upper age limit for ECCE, or a reduction in the lower age limit. The latter was chosen and is consistent with the law in this country with regard to school starting age and the associated policy of the Department of Education and Skills. This minimum age was chosen based on national experience and a review of international practice. It also had regard to the regulatory environment for early years care and education in this country and issues such as child development readiness and adult-child ratios. The upper age limit will remain the same (i.e. a child is not eligible if they reach the age of 5 years and 6 months before the end of the programme year).

This new measure addresses the previous situation with three entry points (September, January and April) which gave rise to a significant fluctuation in the number of free preschool weeks a child could avail of (between 61 and 88 weeks depending on the date of birth of the child). A single entry point will ensure a programme that is equitable in terms of entitlement for all children and helps streamline the administration process, making it easier for childcare providers to operate and budget for the programme year and making it easier for parents to secure places on the ECCE programme for their children.

As with any large scheme at national level, clear rules are required to ensure transparency and objectivity in administration. It is a feature of administrative schemes that where cut off points relate to age and birth dates, the age parameters may not suit some applicants. In this regard it should be noted that parents have the discretion to decide how much of ECCE to avail of for their child. A decision may be made to utilise only one year of the programme for various reasons. For example, some parents of children born in the first quarter of the year, may prefer for their child to start school at 4 years of age rather than 5. These parents may therefore opt for 1 year of ECCE only.

I accept that the use of age limits in a scheme such as this creates a situation whereby a child can fall just outside the age range. My Department has no immediate plans to revise the ECCE lower age limit beyond the changes already introduced in September 2018. A consideration of any future change would need to have regard to a wide range of issues as to what is in the best interests of all of the children participating in the scheme.

Child and Family Agency Payments

 687. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone when the Tusla family services grant will be paid to an education centre (details supplied). [37371/18]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Tusla, the Child and Family Agency administers funding to support the provision of counselling services to vulnerable children and families. Tusla provides funding to voluntary organisations offering the following types of counselling/psychotherapy and support:

  - Marriage and Relationship Counselling;

  - Child Counselling;

  - Rainbows peer support programme for children;

  - Bereavement Counselling and Support on the death of a family member.

  In 2018, all counselling services funded by Tusla were required to sign a Service Level Agreement (SLA), which introduced comprehensive governance standards.

  Tusla has advised that it is currently reviewing the documentation, submitted by the organisation referred to by the Deputy, in order to ensure that it is in accordance with the SLA. Tusla has contacted the organisation in question to advise it that when all documentation is in order, monies will issue on the next available payment date.

  Tusla is committed to using all available resources for children and families in the most efficient, equitable, proportionate and sustainable way.

Child Care Services Provision

 688. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the status of efforts to re-open a childcare facility (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37418/18]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone As the Deputy is aware, my Department does not directly provide childcare - rather we administer a number of schemes and initiatives to support accessible, affordable and high quality childcare. These schemes are available to regulated childcare providers which include individuals, companies and community/not-for-profit groups.

Following the closure of the existing childcare provider in this location, I requested that Pobal and Longford County Childcare Committee (CCC) work with local bodies and potential partners in relation to the re-establishment of a service for the local community.

Unfortunately, we did not receive a viable proposal for the creation of a childcare service at that time. However, my Department is currently in discussions with Longford CCC with the aim of progressing a procurement process to secure a suitable operator for a childcare service in this area. Funding to assist a childcare provider remains available pending the outcome of this procurement process.

Legislative Measures

 689. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone when the remaining sections of the Youth Work Act 2001 will come into effect; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37560/18]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The Sections of the Youth Work Act 2001 not yet commenced are Sections 8 to 16, 19 to 23 and 25 to 37.

Since the enactment of the Youth Work Act, in 2001 there have been significant policy and legislative developments that are relevant to the provision of youth services. These include the publication of the Value for Money and Policy Review of Youth Funding Schemes, the National Youth Strategy 2015-2020 and the LGBTI+ National Youth Strategy.

The Value for Money and Policy Review made a number of recommendations for the future operation of the youth schemes and their development in the years ahead. One of the key recommendations was the development of a new evidence based and outcomes focused scheme designed to secure the optimal outcomes for young people and their communities.

As the Deputy may be aware my Department is managing the most significant reform of youth services ever undertaken and work on the development of this new scheme is currently being prioritised by my Department.

In view of the significant changes which have occurred over the past seventeen years my Department will be revisiting the Youth Work Act 2001, on the conclusion of the reform process, to ensure that it fully articulates the needs of the young people of Ireland.

Child and Family Agency Services

 690. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if the children of a person (details supplied) can be assisted by Tusla; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37606/18]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The Deputy will be aware that it is not appropriate for me to comment on individual cases, in particular where it may lead to the identification of a child. I have written to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, and asked if the case is known to them, and if so, to give the matter the appropriate attention.

I must also remind the Deputy that I am not in a position to intervene in matters which have been before the courts, or in the professional judgement or decision making of social workers. If there is a concern about the safety, wellbeing or welfare of the children to whom the Deputy refers, the appropriate body to contact is Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.

Community Services Programme

 691. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring the estimated impact on vulnerable service users and their families of the disruption of a service (details supplied) caused by significant numbers of drivers leaving the company as a result of poor working conditions. [37524/18]

 692. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring if his attention has been drawn to the refusal of the management of a company (details supplied) to meet union representatives; and his views on the possible consequences of this lack of meaningful dialogue on the service for some of the State’s most vulnerable citizens. [37525/18]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Michael Ring): Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring I propose to take Questions Nos. 691 and 692 together.

  The Community Services Programme (CSP) supports community organisations to provide local services through a social enterprise model. Around 400 organisations are supported under the CSP, with funding provided as a contribution towards the cost of a manager and an agreed number of full-time equivalent positions.

  The organisation in question is a private company. Accordingly, all internal operations including general employment and industrial relations issues are matters for the Board of the company, as the employer, to manage.

  However, I can confirm that CSP funded positions in the organisation in question are currently filled. I am also advised that the organisation met with SIPTU earlier this month and expects to meet with all staff this week. I am further advised that the company will work with SIPTU through agreed industrial relations channels to resolve the dispute.

  Both Pobal and the Department will be kept informed of developments in these matters.

Ministerial Advisers Data

 693. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring the political advisers being used in senior and junior Ministers by his Department since the commencement of this Government; the commencement dates of the employment of each; and the cessation dates of same employment in cases in which that applies. [36704/18]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Michael Ring): Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring Since my Department was established, on 19 July 2017, I can confirm that three advisors have been employed. Details as follows:

A Press Advisor commencement date 14 September 2017, currently employed;

A Special Advisor commencement date 11 September 2017, cessation date 31 May 2018;

A Special Advisor commencement date 11 June 2018, currently employed.


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