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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 542-555
 Header Item Roads Maintenance Funding
 Header Item Bord Údarás na Gaeltachta
 Header Item Wildlife Regulations
 Header Item Turf Cutting Compensation Scheme Payments
 Header Item Wildlife Regulations
 Header Item Special Areas of Conservation Designation
 Header Item Special Areas of Conservation Designation
 Header Item Wildlife Protection
 Header Item Easter Rising Commemorations
 Header Item Commemorative Events
 Header Item Special Areas of Conservation Designation
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 868 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 81 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 542-555

  Question No. 542 answered with Question No. 534.

Roads Maintenance Funding

 543. Deputy Seán Conlan Information on Sean Conlan Zoom on Sean Conlan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the amount of funding that has been awarded to both Monaghan County Council and Cavan County Council since 2011 in respect of roads; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7135/15]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Details of the regional and local road (RLR) grant payments from 2011-2014 to local authorities including Monaghan and Cavan are outlined in the regional and local road grant payment booklets which are available in the Dáil Library. Details of the 2015 allocations are also available in the Dáil library.

With regard to national roads, details of payments is a matter for the National Roads Authority and I have, therefore, referred the Deputy's question to the Authority for direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.

Bord Údarás na Gaeltachta

 544. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta agus Gaeltachta Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys cén líon ball d’Údarás na Gaeltachta a ainmníonn comhairlí contae; cén líon atá ann faoi láthair; cé mhéad folúntas atá ann i láthair na huaire do bhaill a ainmníonn comhairlí contae; cén uair atá folúntais ann agus cén uair a rinne an chomhairle contae atá i gceist duine a ainmniú leis an bhfolúntas a líonadh; cé chomh fada is gur féidir leis an Aire fanacht gan an té atá ainmnithe ag comhairle contae a cheapadh ar an mBord; an bhfuil aon teacht aniar ag an gcomhairle contae i gcás go ndiúltíonn an tAire an té atá ainmnithe acu a cheapadh; cén fáth go bhfuil moill leis an duine nó na daoine atá ainmnithe ag comhairli contae faoi láthair a cheapadh; an bhféadfadh an tAire moill a chur ar cheapachán mar nár réitigh sí le polaitíocht an té atá ainmnithe in aon chás; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh.  [6678/15]

Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh Faoi Acht na Gaeltachta 2012, ceapann an tAire seachtar comhalta, an cathaoirleach san áireamh, ar bhord Údarás na Gaeltachta. Ina theannta sin, ainmníonn comhairlí contae, a bhfuil ceantar Gaeltachta ina ndlínse, an cúigear comhalta eile don Aire i gcomhar ceapacháin. Faoin Acht, ní rachaidh téarma oifige na gcomhaltaí thar chúig bliana agus ní cheapfar comhaltaí chun oifige ar feadh níos mó ná dhá théarma i ndiaidh a chéile. I gcás comhaltaí atá ainmnithe ag comhairlí contae na Mí, Phort Láirge agus Chorcaí, is tréimhse dhá bhliain a bhíonn ag na comhaltaí sin.

D'fhógair mé an tseachtain seo caite go raibh ainmní Chomhairle Contae Chorcaí, Aindrias Ó Muineacháin, ceaptha agam ar bhord Údarás na Gaeltachta don tréimhse 10 Feabhra 2015 go dtí 9 Feabhra 2017. Fágann sé sin nach bhfuil aon fholúntas ar an mbord faoi láthair i gcás comhaltaí a ainmníonn comhairlí contae.

Wildlife Regulations

 545. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if she will reduce the prohibition on hedgerow-cutting, from 1 March 2015 to 31 July 2015, by one month, in view of the fact that research has shown that birds have left the nests by the end of July and as the continued growth in this month creates hazardous traffic conditions, especially in the county road network; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6836/15]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys Section 40 of the Wildlife Acts 1976 to 2012 prohibits the cutting, grubbing, burning or destruction of vegetation, with certain strict exemptions, from 1 March to 31 August during the nesting and breeding season for birds and wildlife. Vegetation such as hedgerows and scrub is important as wildlife habitat and needs to be managed in the interests of both farming and biodiversity and therefore a review of the current legislation was initiated to ensure that it remains both effective and balanced.

Stakeholders had been seeking an opportunity to input their views on the operation of section 40 of the Acts and I announced, last year, a consultation process which provided that opportunity with a deadline for the receipt of submissions by 9 January 2015.

I have established a Working Group within my Department to consider all submissions received by this deadline. I have asked the Working Group to report back to me with a range of proposals promptly.

Any changes to the closed period for cutting, grubbing, burning or destruction of vegetation would require amending legislation. It will not be feasible to introduce any potential changes to section 40 of the Wildlife Acts prior to this year’s closed period which commences on 1 March.

Turf Cutting Compensation Scheme Payments

 546. Deputy Paul J. Connaughton Information on Paul Connaughton Zoom on Paul Connaughton asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the reason a person (details supplied) in County Galway has not received a payment in respect of the cessation of turf cutting; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6841/15]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys An application for compensation under the cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme has been received by my Department from the individual referred to in the Deputy’s Question.

The application, which was submitted in October 2014, did not include all of the requisite information to enable an assessment of the application to be undertaken. My Department has been in contact with the applicant and has been assisting him in relation to supplying evidence of a legal interest in the plot on which he claims to have been cutting turf. Additional information has been received from the applicant and the application is being assessed to ascertain if the qualifying criteria of the scheme have been met in this case.

My Department will revert to the applicant as expeditiously as possible.

Wildlife Regulations

 547. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if members of the Irish Farmers Association with designated lands have been, or will be, part of the body that will take part in the threat response plan, initiated by her Department, under section 39 of Statutory Instrument No. 477 of 2011; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6844/15]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The composition of the Hen Harrier Threat Response Plan Consultative Committee is still under consideration. However, it is my intention that the Committee will include a farmer or farmers with lands designated as a Special Protection Area for the Hen Harrier.

Special Areas of Conservation Designation

 548. Deputy Seán Kyne Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if a process exists for de-designating existing special areas of conservation or natural heritage areas; if such de-designations have taken place here; the legislation under which such designations occurs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6870/15]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys Special Areas of Conservation are designated in accordance with the provisions of the EU Habitats Directive, which has been transposed into national law under the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011.

  De-designation of a special area of conservation is provided for in Article 9 of the Habitats Directive. This article provides that this can only be done by the European Commission and only where it is justified by natural causes (e.g. a landslide, erosion or other natural factors) which have resulted in the loss of the habitat or species for which a site is designated.

  Natural Heritage Areas are designated in accordance with the provisions of the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000. The Act contains a provision for the de-designation of natural heritage areas where the site concerned no longer retains its scientific value. Prior to the de-designation of a natural heritage area the observations of various public authorities must be sought and landowners and holders of licences must be notified.

  To date, no de-designation has taken place of either a special area of conservation or natural heritage area in Ireland.

  The Review of Raised Bog Natural Heritage Area Network, published in January 2014, which is available to download from my Department’s website, provides detail on future arrangements regarding turf cutting on each of the 75 current raised bog natural heritage areas. The review   has concluded that Ireland could more effectively achieve conservation of threatened raised bog habitat through focused protection and restoration of a reconfigured network. This will entail the phasing out of turf-cutting on certain natural heritage areas by 1 January 2017 and the partial or complete de-designation of certain natural heritage areas.

  While most of the sites proposed for de-designation have been assessed as having some ecological value, they have not been included within the reconfigured natural heritage area network as their contribution to the attainment of the national conservation objective would be marginal or would be prohibitively expensive or would impose undue burden on the local community due to the number of active turf-cutters on these sites.

Special Areas of Conservation Designation

 549. Deputy Frank Feighan Information on Frank Feighan Zoom on Frank Feighan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the number of bog owners affected by special area of conservation designation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6962/15]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys At the time of the initial designation process for Ireland’s network of special areas of conservation, my Department sourced its land-ownership information from a number of sources, including the Property Registration Authority, the then Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (as successor to the Irish Land Commission), the Land Parcel Identification System used by that Department and the electoral register.

While I understand that every reasonable step was taken over the years to identify landowners and notify them directly of the proposed designation of sites, it is not possible to guarantee that all such persons had been identified. It is commonplace, particularly in the case of bogs, that individuals’ interests in land are not registered at all, or not in their own names. Turbary rights, in particular, are not always up to date or do not always accurately reflect actual land use activity.

The development of the land direct system by the Property Registration Authority in recent years has allowed much more comprehensive land-owner identification. This has improved my Department’s ability to reach as many interested parties as possible. For example, my Department issued letters to some 6,700 identified landowners and users in 2011, advising them of the cessation of turf cutting on the 53 raised bog special areas of conservation and of the availability of compensation under the cessation of turf cutting compensation scheme.

Wildlife Protection

 550. Deputy Brian Walsh Information on Brian Walsh Zoom on Brian Walsh asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the total amount paid out each year under the mink bounty scheme, since it was introduced in 2012; a breakdown of that amount, by county, of where the mink were located. [7045/15]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys Wild mink are not a protected species under the Wildlife Acts 1976 to 2012 and can be controlled by farmers, landowners and others.

A study commissioned by my Department, and published in 2009, estimated the population of mink living in the wild in the State could reach a total of between 20,500 and 33,500 individuals, and identified ground-nesting birds as the species most vulnerable to mink predation. In this regard, my Department is concentrating its resources with control measures on land it owns or manages so as to protect the nesting sites of rare and threatened bird species, including red-throated diver, corncrake, grey partridge, waders and terns, from a range of different predators. Some €90,000 was spent on control measures in 2014, which covered many predatory species in addition to mink, including grey crows, magpies and foxes.

In 2012 a one-off grant of €20,000 was provided to the National Association of Regional Game Councils (NARGC) to stimulate increased control of mink by game shooting clubs. Thus there is not, as such, a mink bounty scheme which my Department administers. However, I consider that this one-off grant offered a useful addition to the general predator control measures already being taken by my Department.

Easter Rising Commemorations

 551. Deputy Sandra McLellan Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the measures her Department has taken to pro-actively consult the public since the Government launched its 1916 commemorative programme; the number of formal submissions that have been received to date. [7090/15]

 552. Deputy Sandra McLellan Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the number of meetings she has undertaken directly since the Government launch of developing the State 1916 commemorative programme; and the stakeholders, external to her Department, who attend these meetings. [7091/15]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys I propose to take Questions Nos. 551 and 552 together.

  The objective of the Ireland 2016 initiative, which I am leading and which was formally launched on 12 November 2014, is to develop, co-ordinate and deliver a programme to honour and remember those who fought or died in the 1916 Easter Rising. I, together with my Government colleagues, am committed to ensuring that the commemorations to mark the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising will be inclusive, appropriate and respectful.

  A 2016 Project Office in my Department is currently engaged in an extensive consultation process across the Government, State agency and community sectors in order to progress the development of detailed plans for 2016. In order to facilitate engagement with local communities and people of all ages nationwide, I have met with the County and Cities Management Association (CCMA) and have requested each local authority Chief Executive Officer to lead the development of local-level plans for Ireland 2016 in their individual counties during 2015. Dedicated Ireland 2016 co-ordinators and steering groups are being put in place in each local authority to help to shape and drive the relevant county programmes. A series of public meetings will be undertaken in each county, at which members of the public can come together to hear about Ireland 2016, meet those involved in their community, and to explore and learn about how they can get involved. I have allocated funding of €1 million to local authorities in 2015 to support this overall process.

  In addition, since the launch of the Ireland 2016 initiative, I have convened two meetings of the All-Party Oireachtas Group on Commemorations, of which I am Chair. The Expert Advisory Group on Commemorations, which is chaired by Dr Maurice Manning, has also met on one occasion since that date. The first meeting of the Cabinet Committee on the 1916 Commemorations, which is chaired by An Taoiseach, took place on 3   February 2015.

  Meetings have also taken place with the various key Departments, agencies, local authorities and other interested parties. My Department's 2016 Project Office is engaging with the National Cultural Institutions, the Arts Council, Culture Ireland and the Heritage Council to ensure that a comprehensive and diverse cultural programme is developed. Meetings and a dedicated workshop have also been held with a wide range of Irish language groups in order to develop an Irish language programme. My Department has been working closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to develop an appropriate programme involving the Irish Diaspora and with the Department of Education and Skills to ensure the involvement of primary and post-primary schools and third level education.

  My Department is also engaging actively with representatives of the various relatives groups and individual relatives to hear their views on the overall programme and to ensure that they will have a central role in a number of the key State events.

  Over one hundred proposals have been received in the 2016 Project Office to date from members of the public and interested parties - via email, postal submissions and through the project website, www.ireland.ie - and I very much appreciate and welcome all ideas and submissions received. I look forward to continuing engagement with all stakeholders and members of the public as the Ireland 2016   initiative develops.

Commemorative Events

 553. Deputy Sandra McLellan Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the budgetary resources and the number of staff, she has allocated to the commemorations unit within her Department for 2015 and 2016. [7092/15]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys Last year, I established a 2016 Project Office in my Department, which has responsibility for co-ordinating and leading on all activities relating to the development and implementation of the Ireland 2016 initiative, focused on the commemoration of the centenary of the events of the 1916 Easter Rising. The Director of Market Development at Fáilte Ireland has been seconded to my Department to assist with the development and delivery of the programme. Four officials from my Department and one additional staff member of Fáilte Ireland have been assigned to date to the 2016 Project Office to help drive this very significant initiative in collaboration and consultation with all relevant stakeholders.

  My Department also has a separate Decade of Commemorations Unit, with four staff, which works with interested parties to co-ordinate and support other anniversary events as they arise along the historic timeline. Key events for the Unit in 2015 will be Gallipoli and the sinking of the Lusitania.

  I have secured an allocation of €4 million in current funding to support the development in 2015 of the Ireland 2016 initiative. This allocation will be used to engage with and support a wide range of activities and events by interested groups, including local community groups and the arts, as well as Irish language and educational projects. The allocation of €4 million is in addition to the capital provision of €22 million, which will be allocated in 2015 to a number of flagship commemorations projects.

Special Areas of Conservation Designation

 554. Deputy Seán Kyne Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys when designations were made in the Menlough and Mionlach area of Galway west, in terms of extending the Lough Corrib special area of conservation; if she will confirm which Minister undertook this extension; the date on which it occurred; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7143/15]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The intention to designate the Lough Corrib special area of conservation was advertised in August 1999.

  In 2006, in order to meet Ireland’s obligations under the EU Habitats Directive, 25 river special areas of conservation, including the Lough Corrib site, had their boundaries amended to include important salmon spawning areas that had not been included in the proposed special areas of conservation.

  The intention to designate further areas as an extension to the Lough Corrib site was advertised in December 2006 by the then Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Mr. Dick Roche.

Departmental Expenditure

 555. Deputy Michael Colreavy Information on Michael Colreavy Zoom on Michael Colreavy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the projected cost to her Department to convert to using Eircode; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7602/15]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys I am informed that my Department does not envisage any major costs arising from adopting the Eircode system, apart from any incidental costs that may relate to showing the Eircode on departmental stationery, websites and other places where addresses are displayed.


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