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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 174-189
 Header Item Educational Disadvantage
 Header Item Teaching Council of Ireland
 Header Item Teaching Council of Ireland
 Header Item School Transport
 Header Item Third Level Admissions Assistance
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Data
 Header Item Leader Programmes Administration
 Header Item Local Authority Assets
 Header Item Waste Management
 Header Item Unfinished Housing Developments
 Header Item Irish Water
 Header Item Building Regulations
 Header Item Regeneration Projects

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 911 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 60 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 174-189

Educational Disadvantage

 174. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin Information on Fiona O'Loughlin Zoom on Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton to publish the review of the delivering equality of opportunity in schools scheme commissioned by his predecessor; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [14143/16]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton As the Deputy may be aware, a process to review DEIS, the Action Plan for Social Inclusion, is ongoing. The majority of the review work programme is scheduled for completion by the end of the current school year.

The overall scope of the review is to assess the existing DEIS Programme in the context of evaluations to date and any relevant policy and other developments, in order to inform future policy on educational disadvantage.

The review project involves a number of strands:

- Stakeholder consultation is a key component of the process and, at the outset, the education partners were invited for their views on both the current and future operation of the programme. Comprehensive submissions were received and are being considered as part of the review. Further stakeholder engagement with the Education Partners took place on 23 May 2016. Further engagement with other stakeholders will take place over the coming weeks.

- An internal DEIS Advisory Group within my Department is considering the make-up of the current DEIS School Support Programme in the context of the learning from the implementation of the programme to date and the input of education stakeholders

- An Interdepartmental Group is considering current and potential future supports to tackle educational disadvantage provided by other Government Departments and agencies in order to ensure greater cohesion and cross-sectoral cooperation for future service delivery

- A Technical Advisory Group is examining available data sources in order to develop an improved identification process for the inclusion of schools in any future resource allocation framework to tackle educational disadvantage.

The programme for a Partnership Government has committed to publish a new updated Action Plan for Educational Inclusion within 12 months. Subject to Government approval, it is intended to start to implement actions arising from an updated plan in the 2017/18 school year.

Teaching Council of Ireland

 175. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his views on a number of issues (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14155/16]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Since 2006, the Teaching Council is the body with statutory responsibility and authority for regulation of the teaching profession, including the registration of teachers under the Teaching Council Acts 2001-2015.

Under the Teaching Council [Registration] Regulations 2009, Regulation 3 (Montessori and other categories), graduates with certain Montessori qualifications (Level 8 on the National Framework of Qualifications) are allowed to be registered as teachers to teach in certain restricted settings in recognised schools.

Lengthening and reconfiguring the programmes of initial teacher education is a key component of the National Strategy to Improve Literacy and Numeracy among Children and Young People 2011-2020. These changes were incorporated into the Teaching Council's Policy Paper on the Continuum of Teacher Education, which set the criteria for providers of initial teacher education.

A revision to the registration regulations is required to provide for the recognition of graduates of the 59 reconceptualised programmes of initial teacher education which are accredited by the Council as qualifying persons to teach in Ireland. The revised regulations will also give effect to changes made in the Teaching Council (Amendment) Act 2015, such as the placing of the garda vetting of new teachers on a statutory footing. Revised regulations have recently been approved by the Teaching Council and will shortly take effect.

Further to significant stakeholder engagement following publication of draft revised registration regulations in 2014, the new regulations will provide for persons currently registered with the Council under Regulation 3 on the basis of holding a level 8 Montessori qualification. The Regulations will also allow for the registration of persons who obtain a level 8 Montessori qualification, where the course is commenced on or before 1 October 2016 and the qualification is obtained before the end of 2021.

The Department has no plans to change the current position whereby teachers who are registered with a level 8 Montessori qualification under Regulation 3 (or its equivalent in the new regulations) who are eligible for employment as teachers of pupils with special education needs in recognised mainstream primary schools and special schools.

The Deputy refers also to the Supplementary Special National Panel. The position is that, since the end of the 2012/13 school year, this Panel is being phased out and no new applications are being accepted. This decision by my Department reflects the wider availability of primary teachers who are qualified to work in all settings, which was not the case when this panel was originally set up.

I note also the reference to probation and Droichead. Since 2012, the Teaching Council has responsibility for determining policy, procedures and criteria for the induction and probation of newly qualified teachers. Following approval of the Droichead process as its policy on induction and probation in March 2016, the Council requested the Inspectorate in my Department to continue to conduct inspection visits for the purpose of probation during the growth and development phase. As part of this growth phase, the Council indicated that from September 2016, newly qualified teachers in mainstream settings may complete probation in the traditional manner, through external evaluation conducted by inspectors. However, completion of the induction/probation process in special education settings can only be achieved through the Droichead process.

Teaching Council of Ireland

 176. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his views on and rationale in relation to a proposal (details supplied) including its adverse impact on special needs children; the implications for the 1,300 teachers registered under the regulation and for teachers who trained outside Ireland and who wish to secure employment here; if he will reopen the consultation process for this proposal; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [14160/16]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Since 2006, the Teaching Council is the body with statutory responsibility and authority for regulation of the teaching profession, including the registration of teachers under the Teaching Council Acts 2001-2015.

Under the Teaching Council [Registration] Regulations 2009, Regulation 3 (Montessori and other categories), graduates with certain Montessori qualifications (Level 8 on the National Framework of Qualifications) are allowed to be registered as teachers to teach in certain restricted settings in recognised schools.

Lengthening and reconfiguring the programmes of initial teacher education is a key component of the National Strategy to Improve Literacy and Numeracy among Children and Young People 2011-2020. These changes were incorporated into the Teaching Council's Policy Paper on the Continuum of Teacher Education, which set the criteria for providers of initial teacher education. The Deputy should note also that all graduates of initial teacher education programmes from summer 2016 onwards will have studied SEN modules under the Council's standards for these programmes.

It is my Department's policy that all students are entitled to be taught first and foremost by fully qualified, registered teachers. The revision to the registration regulations is in accordance with the policy and the revised regulations will provide for the recognition of graduates of the 59 reconceptualised programmes of initial teacher education which are accredited by the Council as qualifying persons to teach in Ireland. The revised regulations will also give effect to changes made in the Teaching Council (Amendment) Act 2015, such as the placing of the garda vetting of new teachers on a statutory footing. Revised regulations have recently been approved by the Teaching Council and will shortly take effect.

Further to significant stakeholder engagement following publication of draft revised registration regulations in 2014, the new regulations will provide for persons currently registered with the Council under Regulation 3 on the basis of holding a level 8 Montessori qualification. The Regulations will also allow for the registration of persons who obtain a level 8 Montessori qualification, where the course is commenced on or before 1 October 2016 and the qualification is obtained before the end of 2021.

The Department has no plans to change the current position whereby teachers who are registered with a level 8 Montessori qualification under Regulation 3 (or its equivalent in the new regulations) are eligible for employment as teachers of pupils with special education needs in recognised mainstream primary schools and special schools.

School Transport

 177. Deputy James Browne Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton further to Parliamentary Question No. 102 of 26 May 2016, if he monitors payments to Bus Éireann under State aid rules; if Bus Éireann is market-orientated; the meaning of the phrase market-oriented; if Bus Éireann competes with private bus operators; the specific monitoring precautions in place since 2004 to make sure there is no cross-subsidisation from payments to Bus Éireann for school transport; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [14167/16]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy John Halligan): Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan Payments made to Bus Éireann, which operates the School Transport Scheme on behalf of my Department are in line with the Summary of Accounting Arrangements relating to the Transport Scheme for Primary and Post-Primary School Children dated 1 January 1975.

My Department receives an Annual Statement of Account in respect of the School Transport Scheme, which includes an audit opinion provided by independent external auditors.

For 2015 and prior years the opinion states that the financial information of Bus Éireann's School Transport Scheme is prepared, in all material respects, in accordance with the Summary of Accounting Arrangements relating to the Transport Scheme for Primary and Post-Primary School Children dated 1 January 1975. The auditors have stated that they believe that the audit evidence they have obtained is sufficient and appropriate to provide a basis for their audit opinion.

School transport services operated by Bus Éireann are provided using a mix of publicly owned buses and private vehicles supplied by private operators under contract to Bus Éireann. About 90% of the vehicles used to provide school transport services each day under the School Transport Scheme are sourced from private contractors.

Third Level Admissions Assistance

 178. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if a person who got the necessary points for a higher education place following a recheck, but got the information too late to take the place and has therefore deferred it, can retain the option of the place while also making a new application to the Central Applications Office; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [14171/16]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The responsibility for managing access to third level places rests with the Central Applications Office (CAO) and the third level institutions generally. The higher education institutions have delegated to the CAO the task of processing applications to their first year undergraduate courses. However, the participating institutions retain the function of making decisions on admissions. Neither my Department nor the Higher Education Authority has any role to play in relation to the operation of the CAO or the admissions policies of third level institutions.

  Any question on individual cases should be addressed directly to the higher education institution's admissions office or to the CAO itself. Details for contacting the CAO are available at: http://www.cao.ie/index.php?page=contact.

Special Educational Needs Data

 179. Deputy Michael Lowry Information on Michael Lowry Zoom on Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the number of autistic spectrum disorder units attached to primary and secondary schools in the Clonmel catchment area of County Tipperary; if there are sufficient units to meet the needs of children in this area; his plans to increase the number of primary and secondary schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [14180/16]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton My Department's policies focus on ensuring that all children can have access to an education appropriate to their needs, preferably in school settings through the primary and post primary school network.

A range of placement options for pupils with special educational needs is provided, in order to ensure that all pupils can receive a school placement. Many pupils with special educational needs will be able to attend a local mainstream school, whereas for pupils who have needs which require more specialist interventions, special class and special school placements are provided for.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE), through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), is responsible for processing applications from primary and post primary schools for special educational needs supports, including the establishment of special classes in various geographical areas as required. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support.

I am advised by the NCSE that there are currently 4 classes for children with ASD at primary level and a further 3 classes at post primary level in the Clonmel area.

The NCSE continues to monitor and review the requirement for special class places in particular areas and has capacity to establish such new special classes where necessary subject to the willingness of schools to open classes. The NCSE has advised that they expect to open up to 100 new special classes for the coming school year.

The NCSE has identified the need for an additional ASD class at Primary Level in the Clonmel area and are currently liaising schools in the area with a view to establishing an additional class for the 2016/17 school year.

  Question No. 180 answered with Question No. 163.

Leader Programmes Administration

 181. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney when the Leader programme will be available for applications in County Kerry; the reason for the delay in rolling it out; if he will prioritise this; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [14133/16]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney My Department is currently concluding the selection of LEADER local development strategies, in accordance with strict EU regulatory requirements.  At this stage, 32 strategies have been received from the 28 designated LEADER areas, of which 26 have been evaluated.  The remaining six strategies will be evaluated by the Selection Committee later this month.

To date, discussions regarding contracts and implementation arrangements have been held with 17 local action groups, including in County Kerry, whose strategies have reached the required standard.

The first LEADER contracts will issue to local action groups (LAGs), including in County Kerry, on a phased basis over the coming weeks as any remaining outstanding issues with local development strategies are finalised and contract and implementation arrangements are concluded with the respective LAGs.

Discussions will progress with the remaining groups over the coming weeks with a view to commencing programme implementation in all areas as soon as possible, while also focussing on securing high quality LEADER strategies that will yield optimum results for rural Ireland.

Local Authority Assets

 182. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the status of an application by Kerry County Council to dispose of a property it owns (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14028/16]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney My Department has not received an application from Kerry County Council to dispose of the property in question. It is a matter for the Council, which owns the property, to determine in the first place its future use or disposal.

Waste Management

 183. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding the charge for the collection of bins; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14029/16]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Government waste policy is predicated on the waste hierarchy as set out in the EU’s Waste Framework Directive. A number of specific measures have been, and will continue to be, introduced to reduce the amount of waste generated in the State and to increase the segregation of waste which cannot be prevented in line with Government policy.  The introduction of pay-by-weight charges for the collection of household waste is one such measure.

  The legislation requires that from 1 July, 2016 the collector will charge for each kilogramme of waste collected. The Government has set a minimum mandatory fee per kilogramme for the different types of household waste: 11c for black bin (residual waste), 6c for brown bin (food/organic waste) and I have decided that a zero cent minimum fee per kilogramme should be set for green bins (recyclate). The collector may also charge a service fee, which may typically cover staff, collection, administrative and back office, capital and overhead costs.

  Under the current arrangements, customers pay in a variety of ways including flat fees, pay per lift, pay per tag and banded weighing systems. As is now the case, from 1 July 2016, it will be a matter for the collector to set charges at the level they consider to be competitive, including whether they wish to charge separately for the collection of recyclate, in compliance with the requirements of the legislation.

Unfinished Housing Developments

 184. Deputy James Lawless Information on James Lawless Zoom on James Lawless asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the progress in completing unfinished housing estates in County Kildare; the number of these he can hand over to the local authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14041/16]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Since 2010, an annual National Housing Survey of Unfinished Housing Developments has been conducted during the Summer months to monitor progress. In that period, the number of unfinished housing developments has decreased by approximately three-quarters, from nearly 3,000 in 2010 to 668 in 2015. Of the 668 unfinished developments identified in the 2015 survey, my objective is to resolve as many more developments as possible with a particular focus on the 492 of these developments with residents.

  The detailed findings of the annual surveys providing a breakdown of unfinished housing developments across local authority areas, annual progress reports and other useful publications and information in relation to Unfinished Housing Developments are available on the Housing Agency’s website:

http://www.housing.ie/Our-Services/Unfinished-Housing-Developments.aspx.

  The 2015 National Housing Development Survey and the Annual Progress Report illustrate that improvements are continuing to be made in resolving unfinished developments and that the reactivation of sites is now evident throughout the country. The 2015 Survey showed that good progress is being made in Kildare, where 32 unfinished housing developments were recorded in 2015, representing a 56% reduction over 2014. Reactivation of construction on sites is also evident in the county, with over 30% of the 32 sites in Kildare reactivated in 2015.

  My Department has issued detailed guidance to planning authorities in relation to the taking-in-charge of housing estates and the steps to be followed in this regard. The matter of taking-in-charge of estates is a matter for Kildare County Council.

  The Government has committed, as set out in the Programme for a Partnership Government, to seek additional funding for the completion of the remaining unfinished housing developments to 2017. This recognises that finishing out housing developments will alleviate housing supply pressures and deliver social housing units under the social housing obligations, contained in Part V of the Planning and Development Acts 2000 to 2015.

Irish Water

 185. Deputy David Cullinane Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the status of his commitment to retaining Irish Water in public ownership, and given this, if he will introduce legislation to amend section 4 of the Water Services Act 2013, which refers to the subsidiary, Irish Water, as a private company limited by shares.  [14067/16]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Government decided in December 2011, based on the recommendations in an independent assessment, to establish a public water utility company to take over the operational and capital delivery functions of local authorities in the water services area. The Government also decided that the question of whether the role of Irish Water should be assigned to an existing State Agency merited further analysis with a view to ensuring that existing resources and capabilities in the State sector were used to best effect.

This further analysis was undertaken by a team comprising my Department and NewERA, in consultation with the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. The process involved an assessment of the capacity and capabilities of a number of State agencies from amongst those identified in the independent assessment as having the potential to incorporate a new water utility. The process involved the making of detailed submissions and presentations by Bord na Móna and Bord Gáis Éireann based on identified capabilities required for the establishment and operation of Irish Water.

The outcome of the analysis was that Irish Water should be established as an independent State owned company within the Ervia Group.

The Water Services Act 2013 provided for the establishment of Irish Water as a subsidiary of Bord Gáis Éireann (now Ervia), conforming to the conditions contained in the Act and registered under the Companies Acts.

Section 5 of the Water Services Act 2013, as amended by Section 46 of the Water Services (No. 2) Act 2013, prohibits each of the shareholders of Irish Water – who are the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, the Minister for Finance and Ervia - from disposing of their shareholding in Irish Water and thus placed a statutory prohibition on the privatisation of Irish Water. To further strengthen this protection of the State’s ownership of the company, Section 2 of the Water Services Act 2014 provides that in the event of any proposal for legislation being brought forward at any future stage that would involve a change in the State ownership of Irish Water, the matter would have to be put to a plebiscite of the people.

Building Regulations

 186. Deputy Barry Cowen Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney further to Parliamentary Question No. 29 of 24 May 2016, which cited the figure of €3,800 as the average cost for securing assigned certifier services for the construction of a multi-unit dwelling, if this is the estimated cost for the statutory certifier fees only and not an estimate of the additional average construction costs for a multi-unit dwelling that are incurred since March 2014 under BC(A)R SI.9.  [14083/16]

 187. Deputy Barry Cowen Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his estimate for all additional average unit construction costs for a multi-unit dwelling that were incurred since March 2014 under BC(A)R SI.9, including estimates for BC(A)R additional contractor and specification costs, BC(A)R Part L (fRsi/Wufi) certification costs, BC(A)R acoustic testing for Part E costs, multi-unit BC(A)R phasing costs, and Part V costs.  [14084/16]

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Damien English): Information on Damien English Zoom on Damien English I propose to take Questions Nos. 186 and 187 together.

  The key impact on costs associated with the implementation of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014 lies in the requirement for the appointment of an Assigned Certifier whose role, in conjunction with the builder and the project team, is to draw up and execute an appropriate inspection plan and to certify the building’s compliance with Building Regulations on completion. While fees for professional services are determined by market forces and are therefore outside the scope of my regulatory powers, as part of last year’s review of the first twelve months of the operation of the regulations, my Department prepared a Sample Preliminary Inspection Plan for a Single Unit Dwelling on a Single Development.

  The cost calculations published to accompany the Sample Preliminary Inspection Plan demonstrated that the Assigned Certifier role could be achieved at an approximate cost of €3,800 inclusive of VAT. Where additional design work is required the combined cost of Assigned Certifier duties and additional design work will be of the order of €6,000 inclusive of VAT. These costs relate to the implementation of the inspection plan on a single non-complex dwelling; they do not relate to multi-units dwellings, such as apartments, where the costs may be considerably lower due to economies of scale. A copy of this plan and all other documents released as part of that public consultation are available on my Department’s website at http://www.environ.ie/search/archived/archived/archived/current?query=sample%20inspection%20plan.

  During the public consultation, a number of respondents confirmed t hat the Assigned Certifier services could be secured in line with the Department’s estimates.

  In general terms, the cost of delivering housing is dependent on the type, size and geographic location of the development concerned and on the contractual arrangements leading to its construction. Fees for professional services, including those relating to acoustic and energy performance requirements in accordance with Parts E and L of the Building Regulations, are determined by the market place and are separate to requirements under S.I. No. 9 of 2016 as are contractor and specification costs and Part V obligations.

  In the latter case, new obligations under Part V of the Planning and Development Acts have been introduced to balance viability and social housing delivery. In addition, revised planning guidelines on apartment standards, which are now on a statutory footing under the Planning and Development Acts, have the potential to significantly reduce the cost of high quality apartment building.

  In accordance with the Programme for a Partnership Government, my Department is preparing a new Action Plan for Housing and will continue to liaise closely with other Departments and agencies as well as with industry stakeholders with a view to identifying any reasonable and appropriate measures that may be taken in the interests of reducing construction overheads to facilitate an increased level of housing output.

Regeneration Projects

 188. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the amount allocated to each estate regeneration project in each of the years 2007 to 2016 to date.  [14135/16]

 189. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the annual housing budget his Department allocated to Dublin City Council including the amount allocated to regeneration projects and if the money was fully drawn down in each of the years 2006 to 2016 to date, in tabular form; the housing projects, by Dublin local authority, by housing body, by those granted, by grant given, by the number of dwellings proposed, then authorised, by the number of applications refused; by commencement date and by rejection date, in each of the years 2011 to 2016 to date, in tabular form. [14136/16]

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I propose to take Questions Nos. 188 and 189 together.

  The information requested is being compiled and will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.


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