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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 193-199
 Header Item Agri-Environment Options Scheme Applications
 Header Item Single Payment Scheme Applications
 Header Item Genetically Modified Organisms
 Header Item Agriculture Schemes Payments
 Header Item Departmental Reports
 Header Item Preschool Services
 Header Item Child Detention Centres

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 806 No. 2

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Written Answers Nos. 193-199

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Applications

 193. Deputy Pat Breen Information on Pat Breen Zoom on Pat Breen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the position regarding an agri-environment options scheme in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [28314/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney  An application under the Agri-Environment Options Scheme from the person named was received in my Department on 22nd November 2012.

  Under the selection criteria regarding farm size, only farms of 22.06 hectares or less were into admitted into the scheme. During the pre approval validation checks on the application of the person named, it was found that the farm size was in excess of the 22.06 hectares which resulted in the application being unsuccessful. On 27th May 2013, a letter issued to the person named informing him of this and giving him the option of appeal to the Department. To date, no appeal has been received by my Department.

Single Payment Scheme Applications

 194. Deputy Willie Penrose Information on Willie Penrose Zoom on Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he will outline the level and nature of assistance available from his Department for a young farmer less than 30 years old who has commenced drystock heifer and sheep farming and who rents approximately 40 acres of land and has attained the necessary educational qualifications by way of attending the relevant courses and being awarded the appropriate certificates; if such a person can now apply to the National Reserve to secure vital entitlements; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [28351/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney A National Reserve has operated under the current Single Payment Scheme since 2005. However, since the National Reserve is funded solely from the reversion of unused entitlements, and as the number of unused entitlements has been decreasing in recent years, it is not possible to operate a National Reserve for the 2013 and 2014 scheme years.

It is envisaged that the new CAP regime that will apply from the 2015 scheme year will include provisions for both young farmers and for farmers who have recently commenced their agricultural activity. A new National Reserve will be constituted which can cater for these groups although it is likely that other criteria such as educational qualifications will also be applied.

I can assure you that the interests of young farmers are of primary importance to me and we have strongly represented such interests at the ongoing negotiations on CAP reform. However as the final stage of the negotiations involves reaching agreement between the three European Institutions i.e. the Council of Ministers, the European Parliament and the Commission, it is too early to speculate on how the final agreement will affect individual farmers.

Genetically Modified Organisms

 195. Deputy Arthur Spring Information on Arthur Spring Zoom on Arthur Spring asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his position in relation to GMO/GE crops in view of the increasing number of countries worldwide banning such crops; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [28361/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Genetic modification is a science-based technology which, in the case of plants, alters the gene structure in a way that does not occur naturally through fertilisation or natural recombination. This modification confers certain traits to the plant that can be advantageous to agriculture and food production.

  The issue of genetic modification is dealt with by three State agencies in Ireland. In summary:

- Issues relating to GM foods come under the remit of the Minister for Health and Children (DHC) and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI);

- GM feeds and the coexistence of authorised GM crops alongside non-GM crops rest with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM);

- Approval to trial GM crops or authorise new GM crops for deliberate release into the environment rests with the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government (DEHLG) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

  The Minister’s and the Department’s sole responsibility with regard to the cultivation of GM crops relates to coexistence measures in the event that commercial GM crops are grown alongside conventional crops.

  Only one product, a GM maize (MON 810) is authorised for cultivation in the EU but it is not grown in Ireland.

Agriculture Schemes Payments

 196. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney when a person (details supplied) in County Kerry will be paid their single farm payment and agri-environment options scheme payment for 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [28368/13]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Deputy will be aware from my reply to his Parliamentary Question on 8 May that no payment had been made in this case because no application had been received.

  In the intervening period and following contact by my Department with the person concerned, an application under the 2011 Single Payment Scheme/Disadvantaged Areas Scheme was received with accompanying medical evidence relating to the late submission of the application. Having considered this evidence, it was decided to accept the late application on an exceptional basis.  Payment under the Single Payment Scheme will issue shortly to the nominated bank account.

  There is no record of an AEOS application from the person named.

Departmental Reports

 197. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if she will set out the value for money reports and the focused policy assessments carried out within her Department since March 2011; and the actions that have been taken to implement such reports.  [28169/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald My Department has not completed any such exercises as described by the Deputy. However, a Value for Money Policy Review has commenced on a number of schemes funded by the Youth Affairs Unit within my Department. It is expected that the report of the Value for Money Review will be available by the end of 2013.

Preschool Services

 198. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the number of children in Dublin currently availing of the free preschool year; and the number of children availing of the scheme in each year since the establishment of the scheme.  [28344/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme was introduced in January 2010 and provides a free pre-school year to all eligible children in the year before commencing primary school. In line with the Programme for Government, my Department has made a significant commitment to maintaining this universal programme.

Approximately 53,000 children, or 83% of the eligible cohort, availed of the programme in the first "short year". In 2010/2011, the first full year of the programme, in the region of 63,000 children, that is approximately 94% of the eligible cohort, availed of the free pre-school provision. In 2011/2012, approximately 66,000, or 94% of the eligible cohort, availed of the programme. In the current pre-school year, 2012/2013, approximately 68,000 children, or 95% of the eligible cohort, are participating in the free pre-school year.

17,151 children are currently availing of the free pre-school year in Dublin.

Child Detention Centres

 199. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if she is satisfied with the level of security measures in place at the children detention schools in view of recent reports that a number of children have absconded from the Oberstown complex. [28345/13]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I can confirm that three boys currently serving a sentence of detention in Oberstown Boys School, Lusk, Co Dublin absconded from custody on the night of Monday, 3 June 2013.

I am advised that in line with standard operational protocols, detailed descriptions and photographs of the three boys concerned were notified by Oberstown Boys School to an Garda Síochána. As of Tuesday, 10 June, two of the boys involved had been apprehended by the Garda authorities and returned to Oberstown Boys School.

The Director of Oberstown Boys School has provided an initial report to the Oberstown Board of Management and the Irish Youth Justice Service, which is based in my Department, on this incident. This report is currently being assessed.

At this juncture, I have asked the Irish Youth Justice Service to convey my concern at this incident to management in Oberstown Boys School and the Oberstown Board of Management. I understand that some immediate actions have been implemented and, following consideration of the Director's report and a full review of the incident by the Oberstown Board of Management and the Irish Youth Justice Service, any further required follow up actions will be implemented by management in Oberstown Boys School to ensure that the highest possible level of security is maintained.


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