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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 186-195
 Header Item State Examinations Issues
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Departmental Properties
 Header Item Sale of State Assets
 Header Item Departmental Properties
 Header Item Enterprise Support Schemes

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 802 No. 1

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Written Answers Nos. 186-195

State Examinations Issues

 186. Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the reason a person (details supplied) in County Dublin has been refused a reader for the leaving certificate examination, having been assigned a reader for the Junior Certificate, and having successfully passed the educational psychologists needs assessment; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [21527/13]

 187. Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he will confirm that all students who have appealed their application for a reader for the leaving certificate, will receive a decision early to mid May; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [21528/13]

 188. Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he will confirm that all students who have appealed their application for a reader for the junior certificate, will receive a decision early to mid May; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [21529/13]

 189. Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if, in view of comments made by individual teachers and schools that the number of successful applications for the appointment of a reader has been reduced, he will confirm the number of applications for readers, for the junior certificate, that were rejected in 2013, as a percentage of the number of students who applied; the way this percentage compares to the percentage number that were rejected in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [21540/13]

 190. Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if, in view of comments made by individual teachers and schools that the number of successful applications for the appointment of a reader has been reduced, he will confirm the number of applications for readers, for the leaving certificate, that were rejected in 2013, as a percentage of the number of students who applied; the way this percentage compares to the percentage number that were rejected in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [21541/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I propose to take Questions Nos. 186 to 190, inclusive, together.

 The State Examinations Commission has statutory responsibility for operational matters relating to the certificate examinations.

  The State Examinations Commission operates a scheme of Reasonable Accommodations in the Certificate examinations. Applications for such accommodations are submitted by schools on behalf of their students. Full details of the scheme is available for downloading from their website: www.examinations.ie/candidates/reasonableaccommodations.

  In view of this I have forwarded your query to the State Examinations Commission for direct reply to you.

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

 191. Deputy Michael McCarthy Information on Michael McCarthy Zoom on Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if there are any financial assistance schemes available for two persons seeking to do masters degrees (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [21580/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The student grant scheme includes provision for grants to eligible students pursuing full-time undergraduate courses of at least two years duration in publicly-funded institutions in other EU Member States. However, the student grant scheme does not extend to postgraduate study outside of Ireland.

Departmental Properties

 192. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin if his Department and agencies under its aegis, who own or rent property in commercial developments are in compliance with their responsibilities under the Multi Unit Development Act 2011; if he will outline those agencies who have representation on the boards of owners management companies; if he will provide a list of the agency, the relevant management company and its associated property but not the name of the individual representing the said agency; and his views on the implementation process of the Multi Unit Development act within his Department. [21250/13]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin In response to the Deputy’s question I can confirm that the nature of the property portfolio of my Department and those under my aegis, at this time, are not impacted by the introduction of the Multi Unit Development Act 2011.

Sale of State Assets

 193. Deputy Nicky McFadden Information on Nicky McFadden Zoom on Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin the position in relation to the proposed sale of harvesting rights on Coillte-owned land; if he acknowledges the significant role Irish forestry can play in investment and job creation; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [21450/13]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin As the Deputy will be aware, Coillte and its assets have come under consideration as part of the State assets disposal programme, which is being undertaken as part of our commitments under the EU/ECB/IMF funding programme and with a view to generating resources for additional investment in job creation initiatives in the economy. The Government has, nevertheless, explicitly ruled-out the sale of Coillte’s land holdings.

Instead, the Government determined last year that a concession for the harvesting rights to Coillte forests represented the best option to release value from Coillte in the short to medium term. A Steering Group was established, comprising the relevant Government Departments and NewERA, to progress this matter and to report back to Ministers on how this could be done.

NewERA, on behalf of the Steering Group, has been working closely with Coillte to analyse the various financial, policy and technical issues that would arise in the context of a proposed sale of harvesting rights. These include all of the concerns that have been raised by various interest groups, including the issue of public access to the forests, replanting obligations to ensure the continued existence of our forests, harvesting policy, the issue of supply of timber to the local saw mills, etc., as well as the implications for Coillte itself: Depending on the nature and scale of a transaction, the future viability of the company could be called into question by the disposal of its most significant asset. Therefore, any liabilities to which this might expose the Exchequer must also be quantified.

Specialist advisers were engaged by Coillte in late 2012 to further inform this process, and they reported at the end of November last. Since then, the Steering Group has been considering the results of the analytical work – this consideration is on-going - and relevant Ministers have been kept informed on progress to date. I expect the Steering Group to conclude this work very shortly, and to report to Government with its findings and recommendations.

I wish to assure the deputy that, in examining this issue, Government is conscious of the public value that Coillte provides in terms of investment and employment, and that a harvesting rights transaction will only proceed if it makes economic and strategic sense for the Irish people.

Departmental Properties

 194. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if his Department and agencies under its aegis, who own or rent property in commercial developments are in compliance with their responsibilities under the Multi-Unit Development Act 2011; if he will outline those agencies who have representation on the boards of owners management companies; if he will provide a list of the agency, the relevant management company and its associated property but not the name of the individual representing the said agency; and his views on the implementation process of the Multi-Unit Development Act within his Department.  [21248/13]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton My Department does not own or rent any property as these arrangements are a matter for the Office of Public Works.

  The ownership or rental of property in commercial developments by the Agencies under my remit is an operational matter for the Agencies concerned, for which I have no function. I am referring the specific question to each of the Agencies under my remit with a request to respond to you directly.

Enterprise Support Schemes

 195. Deputy Alan Farrell Information on Alan Farrell Zoom on Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the number of businesses that have availed of and are now online due to the getting businesses online initiative, supported in part by the city and county enterprise boards; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [21334/13]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs) have been to the forefront in delivering training programmes to small businesses in all sectors on topics related to the internet covering email to online engagement with customers and much more. CEBs run locally-arranged training on topics such as: ‘ICT Essentials for SMEs’, ‘Social Media for Your Business’, ‘Blogging Effectively for Your Business’, ‘E-Marketing’, ‘Digital Marketing Strategy and Website Analytics’.

In addition in 2011 the CEBs, in partnership with Google, delivered a Programme called ‘Getting Irish Business Online’ whereby entrepreneurs were able to avail of a free easy to update website. As part of this initiative, the CEBs have been involved with approx 2,400 websites which have been set up since summer 2011 using the Getting Business Online website template tool.

The CEBs will continue to prioritise online business trade (not simply have a website presence but to have an online trading presence) and going forward the new LEOs will have a strong role in the development of web-enabled services with a focus on increasing the number of small businesses trading online.

In addition, the 2013 Action Plan for Jobs includes a commitment to increase the number of businesses trading on line through a new Business On-Line voucher scheme. This initiative is being led by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. It will support one or more pilot projects in 2013 with the intention of informing a scaling-up of the initiative in 2014. The detailed operational arrangements for the pilot(s) will be agreed in the third Quarter of this year.


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