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 Header Item Written Answers Nos.373-388
 Header Item Fishing Industry Development
 Header Item Fishing Industry Development
 Header Item Agrifood Sector Issues
 Header Item Preschool Services
 Header Item Departmental Funding
 Header Item Child Protection Issues
 Header Item National Lottery Funding Applications
 Header Item Children's Rights Referendum
 Header Item Inter-Country Adoptions
 Header Item Adoption Legislation
 Header Item Departmental Staff Data
 Header Item Ministerial Meetings
 Header Item Child Protection Issues
 Header Item Child Protection Issues
 Header Item Hospital Consultants Remuneration

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 775 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 86 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos.373-388

Fishing Industry Development

 373. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the degree to which he will ensure the viability of the fishing industry with particular reference to families dependent on the sector; if he can identify a means whereby negative developments in this regard can be addressed in the short and medium term; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40646/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is the fisheries policy of the European Union which was first put in place in 1983 and has been subject to reviews every 10 years. The current CFP is under review and is now expected to be adopted in 2013 possibly during the Irish Presidency.

My overarching goal for the new CFP is for a sustainable, profitable and self reliant industry that protects and enhances the social and economic fabric of rural coastal communities dependent on the seafood sector, while balancing these objectives with the need to deliver a sustainable and eco centred fisheries landscape for future generations.

In the current economic climate, we need a policy that both simplifies and reduces the administrative burden while at the same time strengthens and supports the industry’s capacity to maximise employment in coastal community’s dependant on fishing.

In particular, I will be pursuing initiatives that will deliver and sustain jobs in coastal communities rather than those that promote the concentration of wealth and delivery of excessive profits for a few big international businesses. I support a system which maintains strong economic links between national quotas and the traditional fishing communities which these quotas were allocated to assist.

The Council of Fisheries Ministers under the Danish Presidency reached a general approach on the Basic CFP Regulation and the Common Organisation of the Markets at the June Fisheries Council (12 June). This is a significant, though informal, step in the process of working towards final agreement with the European Parliament under the ordinary legislative procedure.

The new CFP will have to be agreed by the European Parliament and Council for adoption under the ordinary legislative process (co-decision).

The intention of a general approach is its message for stakeholders and to the European Parliament as to the direction in which the Council feels the reform of the CFP should go. The Parliament’s first reading is expected to be voted on in January. The negotiations between the Council, the Parliament and the Commission on agreeing a new Regulation are expected to take place during the first half of 2013, during the Irish Presidency.

I will continue to work with the Commission and my European colleagues to deliver a new fisheries policy that will underpin the economic and social integrity of our coastal communities dependent on the wider seafood sector.

Fishing Industry Development

 374. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he will indicate arising from the evolution of the European Fisheries Policy over the years, to what extent specific efforts at identifying the job losses in the catching and processing of fish and fish products at the various fishing ports throughout the EU including Ireland; if it is envisaged that the future development of fishery policy can address the social and economic issues arising; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40647/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I am not aware of any studies specifically identifying job losses in the catching and processing of fish and fish products carried out at EU level. However looking specifically at the Irish situation, figures from the Bord Iascaigh Mhara Annual Report for 1971/72 gives the number of both full and part time employed on board fishing boats as being 5,801. An employment survey from BIM gives the 2010 equivalent figure as being 5,475, a reduction of 326 over the full intervening period.

Both Food Harvest 2020 and Action Plan for Jobs 2012 recognise that most of the future growth and employment potential in the seafood sector is in the areas of processing and aquaculture. Food Harvest 2020 aims to increase employment in the seafood sector as a whole, from 11,000 to 14,000 by 2020 and to increase revenue from €700 million to €1 billion by 2020. In May of this year I announced €3.2 million in grants to 21 seafood processing companies to support investments worth €15.5 million in 2012. These investments are projected to generate over 142 additional jobs and increased sales of value added seafood products of nearly €44 million by 2015. These plans add to investment worth €7 million by 21 companies in 2011 and further investment worth €2.7 by 8 companies in 2010. Together these forward looking developments are setting a clear path to achievement of the value adding potential of the seafood sector, as identified in Food Harvest 2020 and Action Plan for Jobs 2012.

Agrifood Sector Issues

 375. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Agriculture; Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the extent to which he has continued to monitor developments in the beef, lamb and dairy sectors in the context of world trade with a view to ensuring the future well-being of Irish and European products on world markets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40648/12]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney In addition to meeting my European counterparts at Council level on policy matters periodically throughout the year, developments in agricultural commodity markets are constantly monitored and discussed at monthly meetings of the management committee for the relevant sector at which Ireland is represented by officials of my Department. In the context of internal market and third country trade, DG Agriculture & Rural Development produces regular market forecasts for various agricultural sectors and its most recent short-term outlook for the meat and certain other sectors was published in June 2012.

  Dairy sector

  The June report predicted increased EU production and exports for most dairy commodities but it is important to note how quickly the market can change. Extreme weather in different parts of the world this summer has had a significant impact on global dairy markets, as rising grain prices have led to an increase in dairy commodity prices.   

  Volatility in dairy prices is caused by imbalances of supply and demand in international markets, which are cyclical in nature. However, while there will always be short term fluctuations in dairy prices, the medium term prospects for global dairy markets are good. Growth in global population and wealth is forecast to stimulate strong levels of demand for dairy products. Against that background, I believe that prospects and opportunities for the dairy sector will expand significantly over the coming years. My Department and its agencies will continue to play their part in providing an appropriate framework to support the development of this critically important industry.

  Beef Sector

  According to its analysis of the overall beef trade, the Commission expects that weak domestic demand and exchange rate movements will cause EU imports to fall by almost 6% in 2012 followed by a stabilisation in 2013. EU beef exports will be affected by a significantly reduced export capacity in 2012 and 2013 because of a shortage in domestic supply. As a result, the EU will revert to a being net beef importer in volume terms in 2012 and 2013 after the exceptional trade surplus recorded in 2011.

  The EU cattle population, which was estimated at 86 million head in December 2011, has declined at an average rate of 1.1% since 2008 and this trend should persist in the near future. EU beef and veal production in 2012 is expected to decrease by 3.5% compared to 2011 and to remain largely unchanged in 2013. A consequence of these supply constraints is that EU beef prices are likely to remain at record levels for the remainder of 2012. High beef prices combined with weak internal demand will lead to a reduction in beef and veal consumption in 2012 before stabilising at the lower level in 2013.

  Ireland is over 600% self sufficient in beef production and exports around 93% of slaughter output with volumes averaging approximately 0.5 million tonnes annually over the past 3 years. The outlook is for continued buoyant cattle prices on the basis that total prime cattle throughput at Department-approved meat plants is down 16% for the year to date compared to the same period in 2011. However, data on calf birth registrations in 2011 and 2012 indicates that prospects for production growth in the beef sector in 2013 are positive. Increased supply availability can be expected to result in increased beef output and exports in the short run.

  Lamb sector

  According to the latest forecasts from the European Commission, the European sheep flock is expected to remain relatively stable in 2012 with slaughterings also at similar levels to last year. There are uncertainties about consumption levels due to the economic situation.

  Regarding the sheep sector in Ireland, slaughterings for the year 2012 up to week ending 16 September are up by 7% on the corresponding period in 2011. This points to an increase in production following the recovery in the breeding flock which was noted in 2010 and 2011. Factory prices for the year 2012 to date are approximately 2% below 2011 levels for the corresponding period. This reflects the competitive pressures in the market.

  The vast majority of Irish sheepmeat is sold on EU markets, with France being the single most important export market. Although almost all Irish sheepmeat has traditionally been sold on European markets, there has been more interest shown by exporters in third country markets in recent years. My Department, in co-operation with Bord Bia and with the assistance of the Department of Foreign Affairs, has been active in negotiating access to key third country markets. In recent years we have succeeded in gaining access for Irish sheepmeat to Morocco, Tunisia, South Africa and Singapore and we are continuing to work on other possibilities. I am confident that this work will give the sector the options it needs to ensure the best returns possible going forward.

Question No.376 answered with Question No. 74.

Preschool Services

 377. Deputy Paschal Donohoe Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the inspection regime for newly established creches; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40062/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald Pre-school services, including childminding services, are currently regulated under the Child Care (Pre-School Services) (No. 2) Regulations 2006, as provided for under Part VII of the Child Care Act,1991.

Under the regulations, the National Children and Family Office of the Health Service Executive (HSE) is responsible generally for inspecting pre-school services with the objective of securing the health, safety and welfare of children attending them. Pre-school inspection teams appointed by the Executive have responsibility for the notification and inspection procedures in relation to childcare services that are statutorily required to notify under the Regulations. These teams also provide an advisory service to these childcare services in order to assist them in achieving and maintaining the appropriate standard. Following inspection of a service the inspectors provide the service provider with a report on the outcome of the inspection.

The majority of pre-school services are now participating in the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme and all participating services must be fully compliant with the Regulations. Pobal, who assist my Department with the implementation of the ECCE programme, carry out compliance visits annually to ensure that each service meets the terms and conditions of the programme. Also, my Department can ask the HSE or Pobal to carry out a compliance visit at any time if it is considered that this is necessary.

My Department has commenced work on Ireland's first-ever Early Years Strategy and in the terms of reference, as approved by Government, I expressly included the need to consider 'a robust system of regulation and inspection' for the new Early Years Strategy. I have asked the recently established Expert Advisory Group to prioritise a review of this matter.

Departmental Funding

 378. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if the Lifestart Project receives funding from her Department by way of grant aid; if so, if she will detail the locations the amount of grant aid and if there is scope to assist with funding the Offaly/Kildare Lifestart Project which is about to cease operating; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40140/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald My Department does not fund the Lifestart Project. I understand that the project involves the provision of a child-centred learning programme for parents of children aged from birth to five years of age. My Department has requested the HSE to consider the issue raised and respond directly to the Deputy.

Child Protection Issues

 379. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the support available to a family (details supplied) in Dublin 9. [40314/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The details of this case have been brought to the attention of the HSE National Office for Children First for their attention. The HSE has statutory responsibility for the welfare and protection of children, under the Child Care Act, 1991.

The Deputy is advised that in cases where there is concern for the welfare and protection of a child, a report should be made at the earliest oppportunity to the HSE and/or An Garda Síochána as set out in Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children. It is in the best interests of the child, his or her family and the person reporting the concern that reports are made through the proper channels, to ensure timely reporting of the concern and the appropriate confidentiality for all involved.

The aim of the Children First National Guidance is to direct the identification, investigation, assessment, reporting, treatment and management of child safety concerns. It sets out a number of key messages relating to the duty to protect children. Among these are that the safety and welfare of children is everyone’s responsibility, that children will have safer lives where everyone is attentive to their wellbeing and that people who work with children across a range of areas understand their responsibility for safe practice and the reporting of concerns.

National Lottery Funding Applications

 380. Deputy Paschal Donohoe Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the progress being made regarding applications for funding under the 2012 National Lottery funding; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40144/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald Subhead C.6 of Vote 40 for my Department contains a funding provision of €500,000 in 2012 to support groups and organisations with an involvement in the provision of supports and services for children and young people under the application based National Lottery Funding Scheme. Full particulars of the funding scheme are available on my Department`s website - www.dcya.gov.ie 

  Approximately 188 applications for support from the National Lottery have been received by my Department since January of this year and the current value of the applications from individuals, groups and organisations amounts to just over €5 million. The closing date for the submission of completed application forms is Friday, 28th September 2012 and the large number of grant applications received to date far exceed the available resources. In the circumstances, I am sure the Deputy will appreciate that it will not be possible, unfortunately, to assist all applications. However, the assessment of individual applications is continuing as part of the evaluation process and details of the projects awarded funding so far this year and the grants awarded in each instance are set out in the following table:

National Lottery Funding Scheme 2012

Project Name
Approved
Dime Garda Youth Diversion Project, Hardwicke Stree, Dublin 1
€4,500
CARI, 11 Lower Drumcondra Road, Dublin 9
€30,000
Adamstown Summer Camp, 13 The Paddocks Road, Adamstown, Lucan,

Co Dublin
€3,000


All applicants will be informed of the outcome of their application as soon as final decisions have been made regarding further grant disbursements.

Children's Rights Referendum

 381. Deputy Nicky McFadden Information on Nicky McFadden Zoom on Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if the upcoming children's referendum will be held on a Saturday in order to allow young people and students to exercise their vote; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40275/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald On 18 September, the Taoiseach announced to the Dáil that the Government has finalised the wording of a constitutional amendment on the protection of children and has decided to hold a referendum on Saturday, 10 November next.

Inter-Country Adoptions

 382. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if comments she made in Topical Debates earlier this year (details supplied) will mean that upon the pending signing of an agreement on intercountry adoption between Ireland and Vietnam, Vietnamese-born children with special needs will not be afforded the full protections, safeguards and rights as set out under the terms of the Hague Convention on Protection and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption [40403/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The Adoption Act, 2010, which was commenced on 1st November 2010, coincided with Ireland's formal ratification of the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. The purpose of the Adoption Act, 2010, is to improve standards in both domestic and intercountry adoption and its enactment coincided with the establishment of the Adoption Authority of Ireland (AAI). The Adoption Authority of Ireland is an independent statutory body charged with implementing the Adoption Act, 2010. The Authority has responsibility for the direct operational implementation of legislation and Government policy. It has a quasi-judicial role and is independent in its decision-making functions.The AAI is the Central Authority with responsibility for overseeing standards in respect of the adoption process taking place within this jurisdiction.   

  In considering matters relating to intercountry adoption the Authority must satisfy itself that the adoption complies with the terms and conditions of the 1993 Hague Convention, which is a co-operative agreement drawn up to allow countries to mutually support one another in protecting the best interests of children in the intercountry adoption process. It is designed in such a way as to allow for mirrored mechanisms and structures to mutually assure countries of the safety and standard of intercountry adoptions in those countries. This applies to all children in the inter country adoption process, including those with special needs.

  The Adoption Act, 2010, which provides the legislative framework for adoption in Ireland, is designed to provide a framework to ensure that all   adoptions are effected in the best interests of the child and to the highest possible standard. The phrase ‘in the best interests of the child’ is absolutely key in this regard. It must not be forgotten that intercountry adoption is a service for those children who cannot be raised by their birth parents or cared for in their own country. The interests of the child must always be paramount throughout the adoption process. This is best achieved through the full implementation of the highest national and international standards governing adoption practice. This is the primary concern for the Adoption Authority of Ireland in conducting its business as it relates to intercountry adoption.

Adoption Legislation

 383. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald her plans to deal with the issue of adopted persons' right to access their own information with regard to their adoptions. [40507/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald It is intended that the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill will provide for the safeguarding and maintenance of all adoption records in the State with the Adoption Authority having responsibility for ensuring that adopted persons and birth parents have access to their records in accordance with the proposed Bill. However, because all persons have a constitutional right to privacy it is envisaged that there may be some restrictions on the information that could be made available without the consent of the parties involved. However, consideration of the policy issues in relation to all aspects of the proposed Bill is ongoing. It is intended that non-identifying information could be provided to an adopted person over 18 or to a birth parent. Non-identifying information is information by which another party could not reasonably be expected to be identified and could, for example, include the forename, religion, approximate age, occupation, birth details, interests, hobbies, educational history, family history and medical history. The release of medical information would be proportionate to the objective for which it is sought by or on behalf of an adopted person or a birth parent.

Departmental Staff Data

 384. Deputy Regina Doherty Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if her Department still grants leave of absence; and if not, the reason this is not considered as a neutral cost saving exercise; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40591/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald My Department continues to consider requests for special leave without pay in accordance with the relevant Circulars governing such leave and taking account of the operating requirements of the Department.

Ministerial Meetings

 385. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald her plans to meet the various church leaders before the Children's Referendum; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39025/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald On 19th September, the Government published the Thirty-First Amendment of the Constitution (Children) Bill 2012 which sets out the wording for the proposed Children’s Referendum which has been announced for Saturday 10th of November.

  Since taking office as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, I have engaged extensively with non-governmental organisations and other interested parties around the country in order to listen to the perspectives of a wide group of stakeholders in preparation for the referendum. I intend to continue such engagement with a view to promoting the fullest possible discussion of the proposed amendment.

Child Protection Issues

 386. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if he will advice on the rights and support services available in respect of a teenager (details supplied) in Dublin 9 who is at risk. [40724/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The Deputy is advised that in cases where there is concern for the welfare and protection of a child, a report should be made at the earliest opportunity to the HSE and/or An Garda Síochána as set out in Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children. It is in the best interests of the child, his or her family and the person reporting the concern that reports are made through the proper channels, to ensure timely reporting of the concern and the appropriate confidentiality for all involved.

The aim of the Children First National Guidance is to direct the identification, investigation, assessment, reporting, treatment and management of child safety concerns. It sets out a number of key messages relating to the duty to protect children. Among these are that the safety and welfare of children is everyone’s responsibility, that children will have safer lives where everyone is attentive to their wellbeing and that people who work with children across a range of areas understand their responsibility for safe practice and the reporting of concerns.

Child Protection Issues

 387. Deputy Jerry Buttimer Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald regarding the recommendations pertaining to the criminal justice system contained in the Fifth Report of the Special Rapporteur on Child Protection, if she has consulted with the Department of Justice and Equality; if there is a time frame for the implementation of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40734/12]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The 2011 Report of the Special Rapporteur for Child Protection, Dr. Geoffrey Shannon, was published on the 24th July 2012. The report is available on the websites of the Oireachtas (www.oireachtas.ie) and of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (www.dcya.ie).

The report is a wide ranging report and makes a series of recommendations in relation to child protection and the criminal justice system. The key message in this report is that we must continue to implement our ongoing reform agenda for children and families. Responsibility for the areas covered in the report falls to a number of Government Departments.

  The following Departments/Agencies were identified as relevant to the recommendations made by the Rapporteur;

- Department of Children and Youth Affairs;

- Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources;

- Department of Education and Skills;

- Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade;

- Department of Health;

- Department of Justice and Equality;

- the Health Service Executive [HSE].

  All of these Departments and Agencies were consulted on the recommendations of the report prior to it being laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. The Report identifies a number of key areas in which the Government, and the DCYA, has already made substantial reforms; and a series of issues which will be addressed in the context of the forthcoming Children’s Referendum.

  In relation to implementation of recommendations, each Department is responsible for those recommendations relating to their area of responsibility. Accordingly the Department of Justice and Equality is responsible for implementation of any recommendations relating to the criminal justice system.

Hospital Consultants Remuneration

 388. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly if he will provide a breakdown of the earnings of all hospital consultants who engage in private practice. [40158/12]

 407. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the number of hospital consultants that engage in private practice [40156/12]

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly I propose to take Questions Nos. 388 and 407 together.

There are currently 2,571 approved consultant posts in the public health service. Of these, 2085 have been approved on the basis that post holders may engage in private practice. The remuneration paid to medical consultants for their work in the public health service is set out in the consolidated salary scales for the health service which can be found on my Department's website. However, neither my Department nor the HSE collect details of medical consultants' earnings from private practice.


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