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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 235 - 246
 Header Item Aquaculture Licence Applications
 Header Item Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Applications
 Header Item Agri-Environment Options Scheme Applications
 Header Item Trade Missions
 Header Item Agriculture Schemes Eligibility
 Header Item Single Payment Scheme Payments
 Header Item Single Payment Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Agriculture Schemes Payments
 Header Item An Teanga Gaeilge
 Header Item Pension Provisions
 Header Item Trade Union Recognition
 Header Item Naval Service Remuneration

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 861 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 109 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 235 - 246

Aquaculture Licence Applications

 235. Deputy David Stanton Information on David Stanton Zoom on David Stanton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney further to Parliamentary Question No. 92 of 11 February 2014, the progress that has been made regarding the assessment of Ballycotton Bay, County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47218/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Ballycotton Bay is designated as a Special Protection Area under the EU Birds Directive (Natura 2000 site) and as a result very detailed scientific investigations must take place before licence applications can be considered by my Department. Detailed information in relation to these investigations has previously been made available to the Deputy.

At present there are 6 aquaculture applications awaiting determination in Ballycotton Bay.

My Department, in conjunction with the Marine Institute and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, is continuing to engage in a major programme to gather the necessary baseline data appropriate to the conservation objectives of aquaculture sites located within designated Natura areas, including Ballycotton Bay.

The setting of Conservation Objectives has been completed in respect of Ballycotton Bay and the carrying out of the Appropriate Assessment is currently at an advanced stage.

Addressing the issue of aquaculture licensing in Natura 2000 areas is a key priority for my Department and the Deputy can be assured that every effort is being made to expedite the completion of the process in Ballycotton Bay having regard to all the complexities involved.

Disadvantaged Areas Scheme Applications

 236. 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 the position in regard to a disadvantaged area scheme payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [47220/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The person named submitted a 2014 Single Payment/Disadvantaged Areas scheme application on 7 May 2014. Processing of this application has recently been finalised and payment will issue shortly, directly to the nominated bank account of the person named.

Agri-Environment Options Scheme Applications

 237. 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 the position regarding an agri-environment options scheme payment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47221/14]

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 2011 Agri-Environment Options Scheme (AEOS 2) with effect from 1 September 2011 and full entitlements have issued in respect of the 2011 and 2012 Scheme years.

Under the EU Regulations governing the Scheme and other area-based payment schemes, a comprehensive administrative check, including cross-checks with the Land Parcel Identification System, must be completed before any payment can issue. The person named was selected for a ground inspection. Issues arose in respect of identifying land parcels on the Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS). Department officials are working to resolve the issues as soon as possible. The person named will be contacted as soon as there are any further developments.

Trade Missions

 238. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the current status of Irish trade with Iran; the extent of Irish Government and its agencies' efforts to explore and promote Irish goods and services in contacts with the Iranian authorities; his plans to establish a trade mission to Iran; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47251/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Ireland has a positive trade balance with Iran, although exports have decreased from €11.13m in 2012 to €7.2m in 2013, reflecting a drop in dairy exports from €3.4m in 2012 to €2.1m in 2013, while infant formula reduced from €4.3m in 2011 to €110,000 in 2012 with no exports taking place in 2013. Given its population I am confident Iran will in the future be a growing market for exports of dairy products.

My Department has been actively engaged with the Iranian authorities with a view to re-opening access to that market for beef and sheepmeat products. We hosted an inspection visit from an Iranian delegation between 29 April and 6 May 2012 when they received an overview of our control and inspection policies as well as visiting plants interested in exporting to Iran.

The visit was successful and resulted in the Iranians lifting their ban on Irish beef on 26 July 2012. Subsequently initial agreement was reached on a Veterinary Health Cert for beef. This veterinary health cert, however, is restricted to boneless beef from animals aged under 30 months and requires that slaughter of animals whose meat is destined for Iran be overseen by their veterinary authorities. My Department are currently working with industry to analyse the implications of this requirement.

A draft veterinary health certificate for sheepmeat was sent to the Iranian authorities in October 2014. We are currently awaiting a response.

Since 2011, I or officials from my Department have met on 5 separate occasions with Iranian officials, in most cases headed up by the Iranian Ambassador to Ireland. These meetings were helpful in facilitating the progress of access for Irish Beef to the Iranian market and also discussed the possibility of cooperation on food safety between both countries.

I myself have met Ambassador Javad Kachoueian twice in 2014, once on 16 September as a courtesy call as the then new Ambassador but again on 23 September when the Ambassador was accompanied by a wider group of Iranian delegates attached to the Iran-Ireland Parliamentary group.

These meetings were extremely useful in allowing us to begin exploring the potential in Agri-trade between both countries. Given Iran’s growing population, I highlighted the potential for further trade between Ireland and Iran in the Agri-food sector, in particular, the dairy, processed food and meat sectors.

My plans for trade missions for next year are not yet finalised.

Agriculture Schemes Eligibility

 239. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if farmers with grazing rights on lands where the fee simple of the lands in question is owned by the National Parks and Wildlife Services under an 1987 order are entitled to a single farm payment and disadvantaged area scheme payments where they have being grazing this land for a continuous basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47265/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Where grazing rights are detailed as an appurtenance on the folio of the grazer and as a burden on the folio of the fee simple owner, they may be eligible for Single Farm Payment and under the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, in general, providing the lands on which the grazing rights are over, are eligible under the Terms & Conditions of those schemes. The land in question must be eligible for payment and have a grazing activity on it. In addition, the relevant appurtenant lands must also be declared as part of applicants’ Single Payment Scheme/Disadvantaged Areas Scheme application. If the Deputy has a specific case in mind I will arrange to have it examined by my Department.

Single Payment Scheme Payments

 240. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the number of farmers in County Donegal who have received their 2014 single farm payments to date in 2014; the number of farmers who are still awaiting payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47269/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Balancing Payments under the 2014 Single Payment Scheme commenced on 1December 2014. To date 7,364 Donegal herdowners have received payment with a further 499 farmers currently awaiting payment. These cases are being prioritised, and payments continue to issue twice weekly as cases are cleared.

Single Payment Scheme Eligibility

 241. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the outcome of a site verification visit for single farm payment application in respect of persons (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47270/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney A review of the land parcels declared by the persons named under the 2013 Single Payment Scheme revealed that a land parcel declared by the persons named contained ineligible features. Following an appeal from the person s named, a visit by a Department official was necessary to verify the position and to progress the matter.

The persons named were supplied with new maps when notified of the outcome of the verification check in a letter dated 27 November 2014. They were also advised of the right of appeal the decision to the independently-chaired LPIS Appeals Committee.

Agriculture Schemes Payments

 242. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if a site verification visit has taken place in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; if so, when an outcome will be known; when payment will issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47272/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney An application under the 2014 Single Farm Payment/Disadvantaged Areas Scheme was received from the person named on 15 May 2014. Processing of the application has recently been finalised and payments will shortly issue, directly to the nominated bank account of the person named.

An Teanga Gaeilge

 243. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Talmhaíochta, Bia agus Mara Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney cén líon daoine atá ag obair ina Roinn faoi láthair atá inniúil ar a chuid nó a cuid oibre a dhéanamh trí Ghaeilge; cén céatadán den fhoireann atá i gceist; comparáid a dhéanamh idir na figiúirí sin agus na figiúirí céanna in 2004, 1994, 1984 agus 1974  [47279/14]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Tá 72 comhalta foirne i mo Roinn a bhfuil cáilíocht inniúlachta i nGaeilge acu. Tá 265 comhalta foirne breise a rinne freastal ar cheachtanna Gaeilge. Níl an t-eolas seo ar fáil i mo Roinn maidir leis na blianta 2004, 1994, 1984 ná 1974.

Pension Provisions

 244. Deputy Anthony Lawlor Information on Anthony Lawlor Zoom on Anthony Lawlor asked the Minister for Defence Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney regarding the army's widows' and orphans' pension, the reason contributions continue to be deducted from members after the 31 year contribution period; the reason any overpayments will be repaid at the rate at which members paid 31 years ago as opposed to at the current higher rate paid by members; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46763/14]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The pension scheme rules provide for the compulsory deduction of contributions on an ongoing basis from serving members in respect of all pensionable service up to the date of retirement/discharge. Where at retirement/discharge an excess of contributions arises any excess contributions are refunded, if appropriate, starting with the initial contributions deducted when the individual commenced membership of the schemes. Benefits payable under the schemes are based on the final remuneration payable to the member; therefore it is appropriate that contributions are also based on the most recent remuneration paid to the member. The contributory pension schemes for beneficiaries of deceased military personnel are essentially the same as those applying elsewhere in the public service.

Trade Union Recognition

 245. Deputy Seán Crowe Information on Seán Crowe Zoom on Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Defence Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his plans to provide trade union rights for pay and negotiations to PDFORRA, similar to the rights EU courts stipulated the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors should have and as the right to withdraw labour is not being sought by PDFORRA; if this process could be advanced quicker. [47241/14]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I assume the Deputy is referring to findings of the European Committee on Social Rights (ECSR) that current arrangements for industrial relations in An Garda Síochána are not in compliance with aspects of the European Social Charter. In a non-binding ruling, the Committee found that Ireland was not in compliance with:

- Article 5 of the Charter (the right to organise) on grounds of the prohibition against police representative associations from joining national employees’ organisations;

- Article 6$2 of the Charter (the right to bargain collectively) on grounds of restricted access of police representative associations to national pay agreement discussions; and

- Article 6$4 of the Charter on grounds of the prohibition of the right to strike of members of the police force.

With regard to the findings of the ECSR, I understand that the review of the Garda Síochána under the Haddington Road Agreement, which is currently underway, is examining mechanisms for the future resolution of matters relating to industrial relations and will have regard to these issues.

In the light of the recent ECSR findings, PDFORRA have recently sought a review of the present industrial relations arrangements machinery and practices in the Defence sector. This is a particularly difficult and sensitive issue, including for other Members States, and raises complex questions for Ireland from a legal, operational and management perspective. In this context it is critically important that the Defence Forces are fully operational at all times, and it must be emphasised that the taking of any form of industrial action is irreconcilable with military law. These issues require careful detailed considered input from all relevant parties.

My officials are fully committed to engagement with all the relevant parties on these issues with a view to seeking solutions which respect the Charter and developments in other sectors. It is only in the full knowledge of all aspects of this issue that full and careful consideration can be given to any proposed change in the present arrangements.

Naval Service Remuneration

 246. Deputy Seán Crowe Information on Seán Crowe Zoom on Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Defence Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his views that members of the Naval Service can be earning less than the national minimum wage during long patrol periods, when they are effectively on duty 24 hours a day and seven days a week. [47242/14]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The issue of the level of remuneration for members of the Naval Service when on Patrol Duty has been raised by the Permanent Defence Force Other Ranks Representative Association (PDFORRA) at Conciliation Council. In accordance with normal procedures the Association’s claim is being dealt with under the Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme for members of the Permanent Defence Force. As discussions under the Scheme are confidential to the parties involved it would not be appropriate for me to comment further on the matter at this time.


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