Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to oireachtas.ie

 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 913-929
 Header Item Bovine Disease Controls
 Header Item Single Payment Scheme Payments
 Header Item Single Payment Scheme Administration
 Header Item Agri-Environment Options Scheme Appeals
 Header Item Single Payment Scheme Appeals
 Header Item Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments
 Header Item Programme for Government Implementation
 Header Item Beef Industry
 Header Item Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments
 Header Item Rural Development Programme Projects
 Header Item Disadvantaged Areas Scheme
 Header Item Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments
 Header Item Forestry Grants
 Header Item Single Payment Scheme Payments
 Header Item Semi-State Bodies Remuneration
 Header Item Child Care Qualifications
 Header Item Inter-Country Adoptions

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 835 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 118 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 913-929

Bovine Disease Controls

 913. 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 his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding TB testing. [13984/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Under EU and national TB rules, all animals on a holding, with the exception of calves under six weeks old which were born in the holding, must be subjected to tuberculin testing at twelve month intervals. This has been the case for many years. In order to improve compliance with this legislative requirement and to provide for a more effective TB eradication programme, my Department introduced “anniversary” testing 3 years ago. Under these arrangements, the final due test date for the “Annual Round” is the 12 month anniversary of the last test, irrespective of the type of test involved. Where farmers avail of the option to bring their annual test forward, they are informed that the earlier date becomes the due date for their “Annual Round” test the following year. There is no evidence that the new arrangements have resulted in the scenario outlined by the Deputy.

Single Payment Scheme Payments

 914. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the position regarding a single farm payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wexford.  [14051/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney There is no record of an application having been received in my Department from the person named.

Single Payment Scheme Administration

 915. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he will review the decision to roll the sheep grassland payment into the new single farm payment in view of the fact that the benefit of the grassland scheme will be lost through the approximation clawback; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that small sheep holdings currently under the €5,000 threshold could be penalised if the sheep grassland top-up pushes them over this threshold; his plans for a sheep headage scheme to support the sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [14091/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney In developing the shape of the new system of Direct Payments in Ireland, I have been very conscious of the needs of sheep farmers, in particular those who farm on hill and commonage land. In general sheep farmers hold low value entitlements under the current Single Payment Scheme and will benefit significantly from the model of convergence that is to be applied in Ireland where those with a low Initial Unit Value will see the value of their entitlements increase over the period of the scheme.

The Grassland Sheep Scheme is based on Article 68 of the current EU Regulation 73/2009 which governs direct payments in the form of the Single Payment Scheme. As of the 1 January 2015 that Regulation is superseded by EU Regulation 1307/2013 and consequently there is no longer any legal basis for the continuation of the Grassland Sheep Scheme in its present form.

When determining the Initial Unit Value of a farmer’s entitlements under the Basic Payment Scheme in 2015, Regulation 1307/2009 gives Member States the option to take into account any payment the farmer received in 2014 under Article 68 schemes such as the Grassland Sheep Scheme. This option is only available where the Member State is not applying voluntary coupled support to the sector concerned under the new CAP.

I have decided to apply this provision in Ireland as a means of safeguarding the value of the payments received under the Grassland Sheep Scheme for those farmers concerned. The Grassland Sheep Scheme is the only Article 68 scheme that is being incorporated into the calculation of entitlements under the new Basic Payment Scheme. If such incorporation does not take place the value of such payments would simply remain in the national fund and would be redistributed generally among all farmers who establish entitlements.

The incorporation of the Grassland Sheep Scheme payment into the calculation of a farmer’s Initial Unit Value in 2015 will obviously result in a higher entitlement value for the farmers concerned from the start of the Scheme rather than relying solely on the gradual process of convergence to increase the unit value over the five year period up to 2019. Our analysis confirms that as a result of this provision the group of farmers who receive the Grassland Sheep Scheme will experience immediate benefit as part of their payment under the Basic Payment Scheme.

The incorporation of the Grassland Sheep Scheme payment into the calculation of a farmer’s Initial Unit Value in 2015 will not affect the Linear Cut to the value of existing single payment scheme entitlements in 2014.

Over the past two years sheep numbers have stabilised and while the breeding flock declined slightly in 2013, a return to growth is expected in 2014. I was pleased to note that for the third consecutive year Irish sheep throughput grew, reaching 2.61 million head, a rise of 7%. These developments led to sheepmeat production rising by around 3% to stand at just over 55,000 tonnes. The total value of Irish sheepmeat exports is estimated to have increased by over 4% in 2013 to reach €220m.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Appeals

 916. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if there is any delay in correcting errors and over-claims following inspections of agri-environment options scheme applicants; if there is a delay in the issuing of payments as a result; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14094/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Agri–Environment Options Schemes in common with other E.U. funded schemes, are run in accordance with the relevant E.U. regulations and all applications are subject to controls, including on-farm inspections. Where possible, these inspections are carried out in conjunction with other inspections so as to minimise the inconvenience for farmers. Every effort is made to expedite the payment of grants once these inspections are completed.

Single Payment Scheme Appeals

 917. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the number of applications finalised to date under single farm payment and disadvantaged areas scheme where eligible land issues arose; the number of applications awaiting finalisation; the number of appeals submitted to the appeals office; the number of appeals decided upon; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14104/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney A total of 50,000 overclaim letters have issued, not all of which relate to financial reductions and in excess of 10,000 appeals relating to land eligibility issues have been received by my Department.

Of these, 1,600 cases have been finalised and applicants have been notified of the outcome of their appeal. 1,350 cases have been sent to the local inspectorate for land verification checks for the purpose of establishing eligibility, the remaining appeals will be dealt with as soon as possible.

Finally, 90 cases have been forwarded to the Agriculture Appeals Committee on receipt of appeals from the applicants concerned. The committee has not as yet adjudicated on these appeals.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments

 918. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the financial provision for agri-environment schemes in 2014; the expenditure to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14105/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The total budget allocated for Agri Environment Schemes in 2014 is €184 million. To date in 2014 a total amount of €57.11 million has issued in respect of REPS, AEOS and Organic Schemes.

Programme for Government Implementation

 919. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he will provide an update in tabular form of the commitments in the programme for Government that relate to his Department; and the progress that has been made in the implementation of each commitment.  [14107/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I have provided, in the schedule beneath, the implementation update on the commitments in the 2011-2016 Programme for Government for which my Department has primary responsibility. The timeline for delivery of these commitments is the lifetime of this Government but the Deputy will be aware that the nature of these commitments is such that ongoing development and progress is the norm.

  Fuller information is available in the Programme for Government 2014 Annual Report published earlier this month. The Deputy should also refer to the 5 March Dáil statement on the topic made by Minister Tom Hayes, TD.

  Schedule

  DAFM Primary Commitments under the 2011-2016 Programme for Government   

Commitment
Status
CAP reform will be vital for the future development of the agri-food sector. Our primary aim is to secure a fair overall funding envelope for agriculture under the CAP and a fair share of this budget for Irish agriculture.Successfully completed and ongoing
We will prioritise a Single Farm Payment system which best benefits active Irish farmers and the Irish grass based system of production.Successfully completed and ongoing
Further expansion and innovation in our dairy and meat sectors will be a key priority under a reformed CAP and we will work with industry to achieve more intensive levels of production.Substantial progress
We will facilitate cooperation in the sector to move towards market-based pricing in order to reflect improved products and innovation in the meat and dairy sectors and the development of more integrated supply chains.In progress
We will promote greater land mobility and involvement of young farmers by investigating new farm models and farm partnerships between farmers, while retaining our family farm structure.Substantial progress
We will work at an EU level to ensure that programmes targeting the involvement of young farmers in agriculture will be a key policy of the CAP.Successfully completed and ongoing
New food businesses will be developed through a series of coordinated efforts across the food sector and state agencies, such as building pilot plant kitchens to allow food producers develop and manufacture products on small scale and development by Enterprise Ireland of scaleable manufacturing solutions for food businesses that have the capacity to expandSubstantial progress
We will develop a single brand for the Irish agri-food sector globally. Bord Bia will also work in cooperation with producers and small businesses to develop value-added Irish food brands, such as an eco brand, and local brandsSubstantial progress
We will put in place an Irish seafood strategy to develop Ireland as a European hub for seafood processing, and to grow market profile and demand for Irish seafood products. Bord Iascaigh Mhara will be tasked with assisting Irish companies in adding value to products through innovationIn progress
We will take advantage of our links at an EU level to engage in bilateral exchanges with other countries to ensure that any changes in EU policy or in WTO negotiations do not place the Irish agri-food sector at a competitive disadvantage.Substantial progress
We will move responsibility for agri-payments to a new one-stop-shop as well as developing a new innovation unit in the Department to drive new policy initiatives in the agri-food industrySuccessfully completed and ongoing
Further expansion and innovation in our dairy and meat sectors will be a key priority under a reformed CAP and we will work with industry to achieve more intensive levels of productionSubstantial progress
We support the recommendations of Harvest Food 2020 ReportSubstantial progress
Building on the existing Food Safety Authority, we will create a single food safety monitoring agency responsible for food safety inspection from farm to fork.In progress
We will create a single food safety monitoring agency, building on the existing Food Safety Authority, responsible for food safety inspection from farm to fork. This will enhance the food traceability system and reduce the burden of red tape on business.In progress
We recognise the contribution that farm gate schemes make to farm incomes. We particularly value agri-environment schemes as an income support and in protecting the environment. As funds permit, we will investigate the possibility of expanding the Agri-Environment Options Scheme to farmers locked out of the scheme following the conclusion of their REPS 3 contractsSuccessfully completed and ongoing
We will invest in a 14,700 ha per annum afforestation programmeIn progress
We will amend and strengthen legislation on animal cruelty and animal welfare.Successfully completed and ongoing
We will negotiate the best possible deal for fishermen in the review of the Common Fisheries PolicySuccessfully completed and ongoing
We will support the development of sustainable aquaculture and fish farms by streamlining the licensing process and reducing associated bureaucracyIn progress
Marine responsibilities will be merged under one Department, for better co-ordination in policy delivery. We will develop an integrated marine and coastal planning process in order to maximise the potential of Ireland’s coastline in fishing, aquaculture, ocean energy and tourismIn progress
A Sea Fisheries Sustainability Impact Assessment, based on consultation with all major stakeholders, will be brought before the Dáil annually before EU fisheries negotiations commenceSuccessfully completed and ongoing
We will replace criminal sanctions system for minor fisheries offences with administrative sanction system to bring Ireland into line with other European jurisdictions.In progress

Beef Industry

 920. 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 his views on the fact that in a week there were no buyers in the marts for Holstein-Jersey crosses calves, farmers have paid up to €10 per head for buyers to take the calves from them. [14134/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney As the Deputy will be aware questions of price are matters to be determined between the purchasers and the sellers of cattle and it is neither appropriate nor possible for me to intervene directly on these issues. I am aware of the issue raised by the Deputy but I also note that there are relatively few of these calves in the country, as cross-breeding is relatively limited and operated in approximately only 5% of dairy herds. With at least 50% of the progeny being female, this leaves a limited number of male progeny to be sold at marts.

I am aware that the issue of cross-breeding in dairy herds has been growing in popularity and is proven to provide cows with high economic value. The downside of this is that the male calves have a low market value due to their unsuitability for beef production. I am hopeful that ongoing efforts by the likes of the ICBF to develop a viable sexed semen sector in the country will help to avoid this issue in the near future.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments

 921. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if a decision been made on the agri-environment options scheme 1 payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14164/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The person named was approved for participation in the Agri-Environment Options Scheme with effect from 1 September 2010 and full payments have issued in respect of the 2010, 2011 and 2012 Scheme years.

During a 2013 inspection, the person named was found to have a non-compliance in respect of the Planting of New Hedgerow action. An appeal received from the person named was unsuccessful and the application is now being processed on the basis of the inspection findings and I expect payment in respect of 2013, less penalties due, to issue shortly.

Rural Development Programme Projects

 922. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the position regarding the 2014-2020 rural development plan; when will the necessary submission be made to the European Union Commission; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [14166/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The new Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 (RDP) will be a key support in enhancing the competitiveness of the agri-food sector, achieving more sustainable management of natural resources and ensuring a more balanced development of rural areas. As you are aware I have recently published a consultation document on the new RDP, which sets out a range of proposed measures for inclusion.

  The main areas proposed for support in the new RDP are:

- a substantial new agri-environment/climate scheme (GLAS), which will build on the progress made under REPS and AEOS. This will provide for a maximum payment of €5,000 for up to 50,000 farmers, and a further payment of up to €2,000 for a limited number of farmers who take on particularly challenging actions,

-   continued strong support for disadvantaged areas (now Areas of Natural Constraint), to the tune of about €195 million per year,

-   incentives for on-farm capital investment,

-   knowledge transfer and innovation measures, aimed at underpinning farm viability, sustainability and growth through the adoption of best practice and innovative solutions,

-   a new beef data and genomics measure worth up to €52 million per year aimed at improving the genetic quality of the beef herd, and

-   other supports aimed at collaborative farming, artisan producers, organic farming etc.

  In response to the recent open call for written submissions on the proposed measures, over 120 written submissions were received by the deadline of 19 February. Following examination of these submissions, an ex-ante evaluation incorporating a Strategic Environmental Analysis and an Appropriate Assessment is being carried out on the proposed RDP measures by independent, external evaluators. This process will involve a further stage of stakeholder consultation.

  In keeping with the timelines agreed at EU level, it is intended to submit a draft of the new RDP to the European Commission in the second quarter of 2014. This draft will then form the basis for detailed discussions over a number of months with the European Commission.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme

 923. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the position regarding the review of disadvantaged areas as part of the new Common Agricultural Policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14184/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney There is an ongoing review at EU level of the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme (DAS). DAS (now to be known as Areas of Natural Constraint) is to be delineated by Member States using soil and climatic criteria, as proposed by the Commission, as follows:

-   Climate, including Low Temperature and Heat Stress;

-   Soil, including Drainage, Texture & Stoniness, Rooting Depth and Chemical Properties;

-   Soil & Climate, including Soil Moisture Balance;

-   Terrain, including Slope.

  An area (administrative unit) would be delineated as an area of Natural Constraint, when it meets the proposed threshold set for one of the above criteria only. The Commission are suggesting the delineation be carried out at a LAU2 level – District Electoral Division (DED) in Ireland’s case. To qualify under the new system, an area will need to show that at least two-thirds of its utilised agricultural land meets at least one of these criteria.

  The resultant Areas of Natural Constraint would be subject to a fine-tuning process. These so called Second Stage Criteria are designed to remove areas which, although they meet the biophysical criteria, are deemed to have overcome the natural disadvantage and, therefore, should not benefit under the Scheme. The Second Stage Criteria would not apply to the criteria Low Temperatures, Heat Stress and Slope. The suggested ones for the other criteria are as follows:

- Soil Moisture Balance: Fine tune using % of area that is covered by fixed irrigation.

- Drainage: Take account of the artificial drainage, which can in effect move soils from one class to another.

- Texture and Stoniness, Rooting depth and Soil Chemical properties: Fine tune using production related indicators.

  Commencement of the process must firstly await finalisation of the Teagasc innovative Irish Soil Information System (ISIS), which is designed to complete the national soil survey and which is scheduled for completion in late 2014. On completion of ISIS the necessary comprehensive delineation may initially commence to see which land is included and excluded as Areas of Natural Handicap. Under the CAP Reform agreement, Member States have until 2018 to introduce a new regime.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Payments

 924. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the update on payments made to date under the 2013 REP scheme 4 and AEOS 1, 2 and 3; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14186/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney A total of 26,821 applicants have now received a total of €152.33m under their REPS4 contracts in respect of their 2013 payment. Of this amount 26,478 have received their full 100% payment. The remaining 343 participants will receive the balance of their payments this week. Files in respect of a further 2,389 participants remain under examination and officials within my Department are working through these to resolve any outstanding issues.

6,914 AEOS 1 participants have received €26.68m and 5,239 AEOS 2 participants have received €16.73m in respect of their 2013 payment. Of this amount 6,387 AEOS 1 and 4,874 AEOS 2 participants have received their full 100% payment. The remaining 527 AEOS 1 participants and 392 AEOS 2 participants will receive the balance of their payments shortly.

Files in respect of a further 767 AEOS 1 participants and 766 AEOS 2 participants remain under examination and officials within my Department are working through these to resolve any outstanding issues.

There are 5,963 active participants in the AEOS III Scheme. The checking process for this Scheme is well under way and I expect that payments for this Scheme will commence shortly.

Forestry Grants

 925. Deputy Michael Creed Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if consideration is being given in his Department to approving grant aid for the re-establishment of forestry plantations which were felled in the recent storms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14187/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The recent storms have indeed been damaging to Irish forests particularly in the south of the country. Early indications suggest however that less than 1% of the forest area and approximately 1% of the forest volume was blown down in the storm of 12 February.

Whilst direct financial support is not being provided to those whose forestry was destroyed in the storm, a taskforce, chaired by Mr Tom Hayes TD, Minister of State, has been established to assess the damage nationally and to quickly identify the various issues arising as a result of this severe windblow event and to agree on a course of actions to deal with these issues.

The taskforce has issued a guidance note for forest owners, laying down the steps to consider in safely harvesting and selling the fallen trees and giving advice on a range of other associated issues.

Teagasc forestry advisers are available to meet any forest owner in the Teagasc Office for free advice. Forest owners are also urged to get professional advice from qualified foresters to guide them through this process. Furthermore, the Forest Service of my Department is also ready to facilitate those wishing to apply for felling licences to deal with the situation in the most appropriate manner. In this regard I would urge forest owners to mark their application ‘Storm Damage’ to allow it to be prioritised by the Forest Service.

I can confirm also that any premium payments that have not yet been paid for 2014 will be paid even if these forests have been affected by this windblow event.

Single Payment Scheme Payments

 926. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the position regarding a single farm payment application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wexford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14223/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney An application for Single Farm Payment was received from the above named on the 8 May 2013. This application was selected for inspection. As a result of that inspection five parcels were found to have been over claimed. The claimed area of these parcels was reduced in accordance with the inspection findings.

As the named person applied for more land than he held entitlements for he did not suffer a financial loss as a result of this reduction. Full payment issued for Single Farm Payment and Disadvantaged Area Payments.

Semi-State Bodies Remuneration

 927. Deputy Derek Nolan Information on Derek Nolan Zoom on Derek Nolan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the salaries including pensions and any other bonus-related additions, including company cars, of chief executive officers of commercial State bodies under the remit of his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14474/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney It is not possible to provide this information in the required time. I will forward it to the Deputy as soon as it is available.

Child Care Qualifications

 928. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if the FETAC Level 6 qualification will be awarded, based on experience, to preschool teachers nearing retirement with two to four years left until retirement age in the school year 2015-16, when they will be required to hold the FETAC level 6 qualification and who will not be updating their qualifications; and if not, if child-care centres will be provided with the means to offer redundancy; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [13398/14]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The new qualification requirements are based on international evidence that says that increasing the qualification levels of staff in childcare increases the quality of childcare services and therefore improves the outcomes for children. However, I recognise that for staff who are planning to retire in the near future, it is not practical to commence a course at this stage. In these circumstances, I propose to exempt staff who intend to retire in the next 7 years (i.e. by September 2022) from the qualification requirements. A process of registration will be available later in the year to ensure that from September 2016, staff have an appropriate document confirming their exemption.

As my Department does not pay salaries in the childcare sector, it would not pay or contribute to redundancy payments, however they arise.

Inter-Country Adoptions

 929. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald the number of persons and-or couples who have completed a mandatory Health Service Executive assessment for the purposes of applying to adopt a child from outside the State under the terms of the Hague adoption convention since Ireland’s ratification in 2010.  [13500/14]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The Child and Family Agency has advised that 719 applicants and/or couples have completed the Health Service Executive assessment for the purposes of applying to adopt a child since the commencement of the Adoption Act, 2010. This figure relates to intercountry adoption assessments up to 31/12/2013 as the Quarter 1 information for 2014 is currently being collated.


Last Updated: 24/10/2016 15:31:10 First Page Previous Page Page of 118 Next Page Last Page