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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 141-162
 Header Item Health Services Data
 Header Item Health Services Staff Data
 Header Item Health Services Staff Data
 Header Item Health Services Staff Data
 Header Item Health Services Staff Data
 Header Item Health Services Data
 Header Item Health Care Professionals
 Header Item Legislative Programme
 Header Item Ministerial Meetings
 Header Item Military Aircraft Landings
 Header Item Shannon Airport Facilities
 Header Item Shannon Airport Facilities
 Header Item Air Navigation Orders
 Header Item Military Aircraft Landings
 Header Item Foreign Conflicts
 Header Item EU Meetings
 Header Item Northern Ireland
 Header Item Schools Amalgamation

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 900 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 67 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 141-162

Health Services Data

 141. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of persons on a waiting list for occupational therapy by age category, geographical area and time waiting. [44393/15]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Information on Kathleen Lynch Zoom on Kathleen Lynch As this is a service issue, it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy. If you have not received a reply from the HSE within 15 working days please contact my Private Office and they will follow up the matter with the Executive.

Health Services Staff Data

 142. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of speech and language therapists in primary care in whole-time equivalent terms on the public payroll and in active service, and the number of vacancies that exist in this service by geographical area. [44394/15]

Minister for Health (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly on this matter. If she has not received a reply from the HSE within 15 working days she should contact my Private Office and they will follow up the matter with them.

Health Services Staff Data

 143. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of occupational therapists in primary care in whole-time equivalent terms on the public payroll and in active service, and the number of vacancies that exist in this service by geographical area. [44395/15]

Minister for Health (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly on this matter. If she has not received a reply from the HSE within 15 working days she should contact my Private Office and they will follow up the matter with them.

Health Services Staff Data

 144. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the number of physiotherapists in primary care in whole-time equivalent terms currently on the public payroll and in active service, and the number of vacancies that exist in this service by geographical area. [44396/15]

Minister for Health (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly on this matter. If she has not received a reply from the HSE within 15 working days she should contact my Private Office and they will follow up the matter with them.

Health Services Staff Data

 145. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the details of all vacant posts in the Health Service Executive by speciality. [44424/15]

Minister for Health (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly on this matter. If she has not received a reply from the HSE within 15 working days she should contact my Private Office and they will follow up the matter with them.

Health Services Data

 146. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the level of late payment of payroll taxes in the Health Service Executive and in bodies under its control; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44425/15]

Minister for Health (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Deputy's question has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply. If she has not received a reply from the HSE within 15 working days she should contact my Private Office who will follow up on the matter.

Health Care Professionals

 147. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar the reason for the delay in introducing regulation of the counselling and psychotherapy sector, if this is urgently required in the public interest, his intentions in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44427/15]

Minister for Health (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Psychotherapists and counsellors are not currently regulated under the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005. However, the Act provides that the Minister for Health may, by regulation, designate a health and social care profession not already designated if he or she considers that it is appropriate and in the public interest to do so and if specified criteria have been met.

In accordance with the Act, the Health and Social Care Professionals Council has been consulted on the question of regulating counsellors and psychotherapists. Its detailed report on the matter is being examined carefully in my Department with a view to deciding the next steps in the coming months. These steps will, I envisage, include a wider round of consultation involving the various professional bodies and other interested parties.

Legislative Programme

 148. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will explain the undue delay in the public health (alcohol) Bill and his intentions in this regard, given the ongoing problems with alcohol misuse and the burden which these impose on the health service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44428/15]

Minister for Health (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill was approved by Government yesterday and will be published shortly.

  The Bill includes provision for:

  - minimum unit pricing to tackle cheap alcohol set at 10c/gram of alcohol;

  - strict separation of alcohol products in retail outlets;

  - compulsory health labelling on drinks requiring grams, calorie count, health warnings and a link to a public health website on alcohol containers;

  - a requirement to display health warnings and a link to a public health website and to provide access to information on grams and calories in pubs and off-licences;

  - advertisements to be strictly informative about the product concerned and subject to criminal sanction;

  - a ban on advertising near schools, playgrounds and public transport;

  - a 9pm broadcasting watershed for alcohol adverts;

  - a prohibition of price-based promotions and general restrictions on promotions, and

  - an enforcement regime with inspections by authorised HSE officers and penalties for non-compliance, including fixed payment notices.

Ministerial Meetings

 149. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan when he last met formally with the Irish ambassador to China, Mr. Paul Kavanagh; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44270/15]

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I can inform the Deputy that I last met formally with the Irish Ambassador to China, His Excellency Mr Paul Kavanagh, on 17th May 2015 at Ashford Castle, on the occasion of the visit of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to Ireland.

Military Aircraft Landings

 150. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan further to Parliamentary Question No. 127 of 3 November 2015, wherein he stated that permission would not be granted for the landing of an aircraft of the type specified by the Deputy, that is, a United States of America gunship AC-130W as was used in the bombing of the Médecins Sans Frontières hospital in Kunduz in Afghanistan, if he will explain why United States of America Air Force AC-130W, registration number 87 - 9288, arrived in Shannon Airport on 5 September 2013 and departed on 6 September 2015; if permission was granted on that occasion; and if he will correct the record. [44355/15]

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan The landing referred to by the Deputy has been raised in this House on a number of previous occasions. In response to a parliamentary question regarding compliance by foreign military aircraft with conditions applied by my Department, my predecessor stated that contrary to notification, one US military aircraft landed in Shannon Airport in September 2013 armed with a fixed weapon. This was not in accordance with the policy conditions which apply to the landing of foreign military aircraft in Ireland. The Government views breaches of the conditions attached to permission for such landings with the utmost concern and the case in question was subsequently raised at the highest possible level with the US Embassy.

The Embassy official expressed regret at this incident, explained that it was due to an administrative error and provided assurances that steps have been taken by the US authorities to ensure that there is no recurrence.

My reply of 3 November stated that permission would not be granted by my Department for the landing of the aircraft of the type specified by the Deputy. Permission was not provided for the landing in September 2013 to which the Deputy refers and the issue of correcting the record does not arise.

Shannon Airport Facilities

 151. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan further to Parliamentary Question No. 880 of 3 November 2015, his views that it is appropriate that records are not kept of the number of military personnel transiting through Shannon Airport on military aircraft, as indicated by his reply; what he proposes to do regarding this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44356/15]

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan Arrangements under which permission is granted for foreign military aircraft to land at Irish airports are governed by strict conditions. These include stipulations that the aircraft must be unarmed, carry no arms, ammunition or explosives and must not engage in intelligence gathering, and that the flights in question must not form any part of military exercises or operations. In considering requests for the landing of foreign military aircraft, my Department’s primary focus is on whether the flights in question are in compliance with these conditions which do not include a requirement in relation to the numbers and designation of passengers. I do not propose to change the strict conditions currently in place.

Shannon Airport Facilities

 152. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan further to Parliamentary Question No. 880 of 3 November 2015, wherein he stated that a small number of requests were approved for the carriage of weapons by personnel protection officers on very important persons flights passing through Shannon in 2015, the number of such requests; the nature of their visits; and the purpose of their onward journey. [44357/15]

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan The decision to grant a firearms certificate is made by the Minister for Justice and Equality, in consultation with the Garda Síochána, which at all times retains responsibility for law enforcement matters generally and in relation to visiting VIPs.

Air Navigation Orders

 153. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan further to Parliamentary Question No. 882 of 3 November 2015, where he stated that permission was granted for landings of 46 aircraft that can operate as refuelling aircraft between January and 20 October 2015, wherein he stated that none of these had Saudi Arabia as a next destination, if he will answer the actual question asked, which was the numbers that were en route to Saudi Arabia.  [44358/15]

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan Where permission is being sought for the landing of a military aircraft, the requesting state is required to confirm that the aircraft is unarmed, carries no arms, ammunition or explosives, is not engaged in intelligence gathering and that the flight in question does not form part of a military exercise or operation. In addition, the requesting state is required to provide the airports of origin and destination. I can confirm that Saudi Arabia was not listed as a destination for any of the aircraft in question.

Military Aircraft Landings

 154. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan further to Parliamentary Question No. 863 of 3 November 2015, regarding the presence of 4 Hercules C-130s in Shannon Airport on 18 April 2015, wherein he stated that the purpose of the landings was crew rest, if the crew were resting, in between or during military operations; how this tallies with the condition on which such landings are granted permission, namely that they are not forming part of a military exercise or operation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44359/15]

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan In my reply of 3 November I stated that in requesting permission from my Department, the US Embassy indicated that the purpose of the landings was crew rest. My reply also set out the conditions which apply to landings by all foreign military aircraft, including that the flights in question must not form part of a military exercise or operation. I am satisfied that the US authorities are fully aware of the need to comply with these conditions.

Foreign Conflicts

 155. Deputy Ruth Coppinger Information on Ruth Coppinger Zoom on Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan his views on the decision of the United Kingdom to engage in military actions in Syria; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44367/15]

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan It is for individual States to determine in what way they might best contribute to the concerted international effort underway to tackle the threat posed by Daesh and other UN-designated terrorist groups. Security Council resolution 2249 grants authority for States to take all necessary measure to suppress and eradicate terrorist acts by Daesh and Al-Nusra Front in territory under Daesh control within Syria and Iraq and to eradicate the safe haven they have established inside Syria and Iraq. Any action undertaken under this resolution must be in compliance with international law, in particular the UN Charter, as well as international human rights, refugee, and humanitarian law.

EU Meetings

 156. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan his views on the recent agreement reached between the European Union and Turkey on the refugee crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44388/15]

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan On 29 November, the Taoiseach attended an EU heads of state or government meeting with Turkey, at which it was agreed to activate the Joint Action Plan aimed at managing the current refugee and migrant crisis, as well as several further shared commitments and actions. The Joint Action Plan contains short- and medium-term measures to be undertaken by the EU and Turkey to assist Turkey in managing the influx of refugees and to prevent uncontrolled migratory flows from Turkey to the EU. As part of this, the EU has agreed to provide a financial package worth an additional €3 billion, with the establishment of a ‘Refugee Facility for Turkey’ to coordinate and streamline actions financed by this package. Turkey, for its part, has committed to implement immediately actions to stem the flow of irregular refugees and migrants to the EU and to improve the situation of refugees and migrants under temporary protection in Turkey. The EU and Turkey have also agreed to further steps on re-admission agreements and visa-liberalisation. In addition, the EU has agreed to re-energise Turkey’s accession process, and it is expected that Chapter 17 of the acquis communautaire, covering economic and monetary policies, will be opened this month. Turkey and the EU also agreed to explore further the great potential of EU-Turkey relations and to maintain regular and enhanced dialogue through more frequent summits and high-level political meetings. For example, the Turkish Foreign Minister has been invited to participate in a working lunch with EU Foreign Ministers at the next Foreign Affairs Council.

  Ireland has supported the renewed and intensified engagement between the EU and Turkey in recent months, including the outcomes of the 29 November meeting, and the Joint Action Plan. The relationship between the EU and Turkey is important, not only in the context of the migration crisis and because of Turkey’s status as an EU candidate country: increased cooperation with Turkey will also be critical in any political and diplomatic resolution to the crisis in Syria, a primary root cause of the current migration crisis, as well as in the fight against terrorism.

  At the same time, the EU and Member States will continue our dialogue with Turkey in relation to ongoing concerns at the internal situation in Turkey, including with regard to freedom of expression and the media.

Northern Ireland

 157. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the progress made in talks with the British Government and the five Northern Ireland Executive parties on the outstanding issues following the Fresh Start agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44389/15]

 158. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the outcome of discussions he has had with groups representing survivors and families of victims on their serious concerns and disappointment with the Fresh Start agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44390/15]

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I propose to take Questions Nos. 157 and 158 together.

Implementation and follow-up to the Fresh Start Agreement, agreed on 17 November 2015 following 10 weeks of intensive discussions, is already underway. The Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly have already taken measures to implement what was agreed on welfare reform and finance matters. Contacts have begun at official level on delivering the financial commitments agreed by the Irish Government under the Agreement. There will also be a trilateral ministerial meeting later this month between the justice ministers of Ireland and Northern Ireland and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland that Minister Fitzgerald will attend. This meeting will discuss further enhanced law enforcement co-operation and the setting up of a Joint Agency Task Force on cross border organised crime.

The forthcoming plenary meeting of the North South Ministerial Council, in Armagh on 11 December 2015, will also provide a timely opportunity for the Government and the Northern Ireland Executive to review progress on the implementation of the all-island aspects of the Stormont House Agreement.

I very much regret that the Fresh Start Agreement did not in the end include agreement on the implementation of provisions of the Stormont House Agreement dealing with the legacy of the past. I share the deep disappointment of the victims and survivors of the Troubles and their families.

I would stress again that it was not the Irish Government who pressed for an agreement that completely left aside the legacy of the past. However, when it became clear that the choice was between having an agreement which uncoupled the past and having no agreement at all, the Government most reluctantly agreed to have a less comprehensive deal that would at least ensure that the devolved institutions would be protected and placed on a stable and sustainable footing.

What is important now is that we find a way forward that banks the good progress already achieved during the talks and secures a solution to outstanding matters, including the key issue of striking the right balance between the onward disclosure needs of families and the national security requirements being sought by the British Government.

To this end, contacts are continuing at official level with the British Government, the five main political parties in Northern Ireland and most importantly with various Victims’ Groups. I met with Northern Ireland’s Victims’ Commissioner on 26 November to discuss the concerns of victims and possible ways to take the issue forward in a way that satisfies these concerns. I also hope to meet the Northern Minister for Justice, David Ford, in the coming days and with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers, later this month in order to take stock of the implementation of the Fresh Start Agreement and to explore potential options aimed at resolving the outstanding issues on dealing with the past.

The provisions of the Stormont House Agreement for dealing with the legacy of the past offer the best possible way of bringing whatever healing is possible to those affected by the Troubles. For this to be achieved it is vitally important that these new institutions have the trust and confidence of the victims and survivors and their families. Their needs will therefore remain central to the Government’s work in this area.

The Government remains committed to finding a way forward so that the establishment of the new institutional framework on the past can take place on an agreed basis as envisaged in the Stormont House Agreement. We are determined to achieve the establishment of these institutions so that we can in a fundamental way deal with the past, foster reconciliation and build a society for future generations that is free from hurt and suspicion. This is essential if the full potential of the Good Friday Agreement is to be realised.

Schools Amalgamation

 159. Deputy Michael Ring Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan if she considered the Pobal Haase-Pratschke deprivation index of an area when eligibility for delivering equality of opportunity in schools was considered for an amalgamated school (details supplied) in County Mayo, considering that it is located in an area which is largely regarded as being disadvantaged; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44278/15]

 160. Deputy Michael Ring Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan the number of primary schools and post-primary schools that have lost DEIS status following amalgamation, by location and number of pupils involved, since the status was first introduced; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44279/15]

 161. Deputy Michael Ring Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan why DEIS status was removed from a school (details supplied) of 450 pupils in County Mayo when it amalgamated with another school of 28 pupils which did not have this status; if the loss of this status has a severe impact on those pupils coming in from primary schools with this status; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44280/15]

 162. Deputy Michael Ring Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan what exactly was advised in 2011 at the time of amalgamation of schools (details supplied) in County Mayo regarding DEIS status; if it was made known to the boards of management and principals that the amalgamation would result in the loss of this status for pupils; who actually made the decision for the amalgamation to proceed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [44281/15]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan I propose to take Questions Nos. 159 to 162, inclusive, together.

The school in question was established on 1st September 2011 following the amalgamation of a DEIS post-primary school and non-DEIS post-primary school. In accordance with the approach adopted in relation to all such amalgamations, additional non-teaching resources are provided by my Department in respect of eligible pupils from the former DEIS school by way of continued support for the targeted cohort of pupils as a transitional measure. In the case of a post primary school, these supports continue to be supplied for 6 years following the amalgamation. A total of 14 schools, 7 at primary and 7 at post primary have undergone this process to date. The details of same are being compiled in a suitable format and will be forwarded separately.

Proposals for school amalgamations are a matter for the Patron/Trustees of the schools in question, and are subject to approval by the Minister for Education and Skills. Schools proposing to amalgamate are invited to meet with relevant sections of my Department to inform their decision making process.

As the Minister of State will be aware, a review of the DEIS Programme which will inform future policy in relation to educational disadvantage is currently being undertaken by my Department. While this process is underway, I do not intend to make any changes to the current programme.


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