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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 403-414
 Header Item Language Schools Closures
 Header Item Language Schools Closures
 Header Item Language Schools Closures
 Header Item School Curriculum
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Applications
 Header Item Garda Vetting of Personnel
 Header Item An Fhoireann Rannach
 Header Item Site Acquisitions
 Header Item School Services Staff
 Header Item Site Acquisitions
 Header Item Irish Water Administration
 Header Item Tenant Purchase Scheme Administration

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. 403-414

Language Schools Closures

 403. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan the projected cost of a fund to fully subsidise the cost of attending courses for students transferring into MEI facilitated courses following the closure of language schools they were registered at. [47162/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan MEI schools have agreed to provide course places to genuine displaced students at a fee of €60 per week. This fee, which was calculated on a cost provision basis, represents a significant discount of 70% on the standard fees for an MEI school in acknowledgement that a fee has already been paid to the closed college.

The other variable is the number of weeks outstanding for each student affected by the private college closures. It is not possible to provide a projected cost of a fund referred to by the Deputy as the students affected by the closures are at different phases of completion in respect of their particular courses of study.

As of Friday 5th December 2014, MEI had received 720 enquiries from students in relation to their discounted course offer. A total of 565 students have now taken up the MEI offer.

Language Schools Closures

 404. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan if she has met with the Department of Justice and Equality on the matter of visa issues for students following the closure of language schools they were registered at. [47163/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan On 2nd September last, my colleague the Minister for Justice and Equality and I jointly announced robust regulatory reforms to the International education sector in response to the closure of a number of private colleges. As part of that response, the Department of Justice and Equality has acted rapidly to bring reassurance to affected students regarding their immigration status.

I am aware that the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of the Department of Justice and Equality has been working closely with the Irish Council for International Students to put arrangements in place to allow affected students to register with the Garda National Immigration Bureau.

I understand that INIS is continuing to provide on-going support and advice to students regarding visa issues through meetings, email, telephone, Facebook and also through regular immigration status updates on the Student Task Force website.

Language Schools Closures

 405. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan if she has met with the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government concerning the matter of the number of homeless students who are now rough sleeping in the Phoenix Park because the task force on students affected by the closure of private colleges has not addressed their needs. [47167/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan I am not aware of any cases of international students who have been made homeless as a result of the private college closures. Officials from my Department have consulted with officials in the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service in the Department of Justice and Equality, Quality and Qualifications Ireland and the Irish Council for International Students on this matter - these are the organisations with whom international students who have been affected by college closures principally liaise. No such cases have been reported to any of these organisations.

School Curriculum

 406. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan the way she has supported the teaching of Irish Sign Language within the education system to date; and her plans to improve upon this. [47171/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan Sign language is an option in the Leaving Certificate Applied. There is also an opportunity for students to learn sign language in the course of Transition Year. In addition, the Post-Primary Languages Initiative is developing a short course in sign language in the context of the new Junior Cycle.

Furthermore, there are specific supports in place for students learning through Irish Sign Language (ISL). There are a number of initiatives in place which seek to promote, develop and implement ISL in order that it will achieve greater recognition and use in the education system. These include:

- the special schools for the deaf/hearing impaired have been encouraged in relation to the use of sign language in class.

- funding for an ISL weekly home tuition service whereby deaf tutors visit the homes of deaf pre-school children and deaf school-going pupils to provide training in ISL for the deaf children, pupils, their siblings and parents.

- funding is also made available through the Special Education Support Service (SESS) to enable individual teachers and whole school staff to undertake courses in Irish Sign Language which are available throughout the country through a variety of providers.

- my Department, through the Higher Education Authority (HEA), has established and funds a Centre for Deaf Studies in Trinity College, Dublin which provides diploma courses for ISL/English interpreters, deaf tutors and in deaf studies.

Schools Building Projects Applications

 407. Deputy Seamus Healy Information on Seamus Healy Zoom on Seamus Healy asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan the position regarding an application for a new school (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [47181/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan As the Deputy will be aware, the school to which he refers has made an application to my Department for large scale capital funding.

The Five Year Construction Plan that was announced in March 2012, outlines the major school projects that are scheduled to commence construction over the duration of the Plan. These have been prioritised on the basis of meeting significant demographic needs. As the school in question is not in an area of identified demographic growth, it is not possible to indicate when a project for the school can be progressed.

My Department will also consider applications on an ongoing basis from individual schools for devolved funding to meet an immediate accommodation requirement because of increased enrolments and where an additional teacher is being appointed.

The current status of all projects on the school building programme, including the school in question, may be viewed on my Department's website at www.education.ie.

Garda Vetting of Personnel

 408. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan the arrangements schools can put in place requesting Garda vetting for students who wish to complete their leaving certificate or FETAC levels 3, 4 and 5 in schools throughout the country in particular schools that are run by the education and training boards; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [47225/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan The arrangements for garda vetting of teaching and non-teaching staff were introduced in September 2006. In late 2010, my Department issued Circular 0063/2010 which updated and clarified the requirements for Garda vetting as part of recruitment procedures for all teaching and non-teaching positions.

This circular also sets out the vetting requirements of non-employees such as volunteers, sports coaches etc. The circular does not require vetting of students in schools. However, in accordance with "Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children" a school authority may require garda vetting of students where a course it provides involves work placements or work with children.

In all cases, school authorities must be cognisant of their responsibility to provide a duty of care towards the children attending the school. This is particularly relevant where the school authority also provides courses to adult students in the same building.

An Fhoireann Rannach

 409. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Oideachais agus Scileanna Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan 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. [47284/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan Léiríodh trí shuirbhé a rinneadh ar fhoireann riaracháin mo Roinne in 2013 go bhfuil inniúlacht sa Ghaeilge ag tuairim is 10% den bhfoireann. Chuir 1.5% den bhfoireann riaracháin in iúl go raibh ardleibhéal inniúlachta sa Ghaeilge acu agus chuir 8.7% den bhfoireann in iúl go raibh meánleibhéal inniúlachta acu.

I dteannta leis an bhfoireann riaracháin, tá ardleibhéal inniúlachta sa Ghaeilge ag mórán den bhfoireann allamuigh ar nós cigirí agus síceolaithe oideachais. Ag an mbunleibhéal, cuireann an Chigireacht seirbhís dhátheangach chigireachta ar fáil do na scoileanna aitheanta go léir, scoileanna Gaeltachta agus Gaelscoileanna san áireamh. Ag an iar-bhunleibhéal, cuireann an Chigireacht seirbhís i gcigireacht na Gaeilge ar fáil agus cuireann sí seirbhís trí Ghaeilge ar fáil do na scoileanna Gaeltachta go léir agus do na Gaelscoileanna.

Tá Aonad Oiliúna agus Forbartha Foirne mo Roinne tiomanta do dheiseanna cuí oiliúna agus forbartha, oiliúint sa Ghaeilge san áireamh, a chur ar fáil don fhoireann go léir chun riachtanais tosaíochta ghnó a shásamh. Níl aon fhigiúirí i seilbh mo Roinne a bhaineann leis an líon foirne a raibh inniúlacht sa Ghaeilge acu in 2004, 1994 1984 ná 1974.

Site Acquisitions

 410. Deputy Derek Nolan Information on Derek Nolan Zoom on Derek Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan the progress of site acquisition in respect of a primary school (details supplied) in County Galway; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [47323/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan Officials from my Department have been working very closely with officials from Galway County Council to secure a suitable site for the school. I can confirm that a suitable site has been identified and the site acquisition process is at an advanced stage.

However, as I am sure the Deputy will appreciate, there are commercial sensitivities associated with land acquisitions which limits the information which can be provided at this time.

School Services Staff

 411. Deputy Derek Nolan Information on Derek Nolan Zoom on Derek Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan her views on recognising grant paid school secretaries as public servants; if she will change their terms and conditions to reflect this; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [47324/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan The majority of primary and voluntary secondary schools in the Free Education Scheme now receive capitation grant assistance to provide for secretarial services. Within the capitation grant schemes, it is a matter for each individual school to decide how best to apply the grant funding to suit its particular needs and the Department does not stipulate how secretarial services are to be obtained. Where a school uses the grant funding to employ a secretary, such staff are employees of individual schools. The Department therefore does not have any role in determining the pay and conditions under which they are engaged. These are matters to be agreed between the staff concerned and the school authorities.

Notwithstanding the above, a forum was established under the Towards 2016 Agreement involving the Department, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, IMPACT and SIPTU to examine the factual position in schools regarding the terms and conditions of employment of secretaries (and caretakers) employed using grant funding. However, it was not possible to progress the forum's agenda beyond the initial fact finding survey, due to the State's budgetary and financial position.

Secretaries employed by schools using grant funding are not regarded as public servants except for the purposes of the pay reduction under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No.2) Act 2009, due to the definition of "public servant" used in that Act. The fact that such staff come within the definition of "public servant" solely for the purposes of the Act does not alter their employment status in any other respect.

Site Acquisitions

 412. Deputy Derek Nolan Information on Derek Nolan Zoom on Derek Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan the progress of site acquisition for a post-primary school (details supplied) in County Galway; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [47353/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan Officials from my Department have been working closely with Galway County Council under the Memorandum of Understanding between the Department and the County and City Managers' Association to identify and acquire a suitable site for the school referred to by the Deputy.

  I can confirm that a suitable site has been identified and the site acquisition process is at an advanced stage.

Irish Water Administration

 413. Deputy Paul J. Connaughton Information on Paul Connaughton Zoom on Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly the person to whom queries should be addressed in relation to information on individuals passed to Irish Water about their addresses, in view of the fact that they have been informed by the Data Protection Commissioner that the matter is one for the Energy Regulator and vice versa; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47063/14]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly The source of information used to compile its customer database is a matter for Irish Water, pursuant to powers given to the company under section 6 of the Water Services Act 2007 and section 26 of the Water Services Act 2013. Irish Water has established a dedicated team to deal with representations and queries from public representatives and has contacted all Oireachtas members to provide details of an improved level of service which it is aiming to provide. The team can be contacted via email to oireachtasmembers@water.ie or by telephone on a new dedicated number, 1890 578 578.

Tenant Purchase Scheme Administration

 414. Deputy Brian Stanley Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly when the new tenant purchase scheme for local authority tenants will be introduced. [47378/14]

 419. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly the date on which a new tenant purchase scheme will be introduced for local authority tenants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46896/14]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Paudie Coffey): Information on Paudie Coffey Zoom on Paudie Coffey I propose to take Questions Nos. 414 and 419 together.

  Part 3 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2014 provides for a new scheme for the tenant purchase of existing local authority houses. The Social Housing Strategy 2020 approved by the Government and published last month includes a commitment to introduce the new tenant purchase scheme by the second quarter of 2015.


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