Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to oireachtas.ie

 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 480-497
 Header Item Transport Infrastructure Ireland Projects
 Header Item Transport Infrastructure Ireland Projects
 Header Item Air Navigation Orders
 Header Item Military Aircraft Landings
 Header Item Child Abuse
 Header Item Youth Cafés Provision
 Header Item Children in Care
 Header Item Psychological Services
 Header Item Homeless Persons Data
 Header Item Children in Care
 Header Item Child and Family Agency Staff
 Header Item Child Care Qualifications
 Header Item Child Care Services
 Header Item Intercountry Adoptions Agreements
 Header Item European Defence Capabilities
 Header Item Easter Rising Commemorations
 Header Item Ferry Services Provision
 Header Item Civil Defence

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 931 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 82 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 480-497

Transport Infrastructure Ireland Projects

 480. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if his Department approved design work (details supplied); when works will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38831/16]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross ​As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme. The planning, design and operation of individual road projects is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) under the Roads Acts 1993 to 2015 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

  Noting the above position, I have referred your question to TII for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you don't receive a reply within 10 working days.

  The referred reply under Standing Order 42A was forwarded to the Deputy.

Transport Infrastructure Ireland Projects

 481. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross if his Department approved design work (details supplied); when work will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38858/16]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross ​As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme. The planning, design and operation of individual road projects is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) under the Roads Acts 1993 to 2015 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.

Noting the above position, I have referred your question to TII for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you don't receive a reply within 10 working days.

Air Navigation Orders

 482. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the number of permits that were issued to carry munitions of war through Ireland or Irish airspace in 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33832/16]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross ​The number of permits issued by my Department in 2015 for civilian aircraft to carry munitions of war through Irish airspace was 818.

Military Aircraft Landings

 483. Deputy Bríd Smith Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross the payment to the Irish Aviation Authority by his Department to cover the costs of US military planes landing in Shannon Airport and air traffic control costs. [33824/16]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The payments by my Department to the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) represents a reimbursement of costs incurred by the IAA in the provision of aeronautical communication services and en-route air navigation services provided by the Authority to certain specified classes of airspace users (e.g. military aircraft, State aircraft, Search and Rescue).

  The practice derives from the exclusion of State aircraft from the scope of the Chicago Convention establishing the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). While the application of the exemption from charges is at the discretion of the State concerned, the policy and general practice at international level is to exempt such flights from charges. Ireland, in common with the vast majority of Eurocontrol's 41 member states, subscribes to this practice. The exemption does not cover terminal charges such as landing fees; consequently no reimbursement occurs for these charges.

  The total amount paid to the IAA in 2015 in respect of exempt services was €2.5 million. This amount includes the cost of US military and State flights and exempt flights from other States. This payment is in respect of the ​amounts invoiced to IAA, in the first instance, by Eurocontrol. That body sets the charges under its Route Charges System based on a number of factors including distances and aircraft size and weight. For further details on the route charges system, I refer the Deputy to the latest Eurocontrol Report on the Operation of its Route Charges System in 2015. It is available at

https://www.eurocontrol.int/sites/default/files/content/documents/route-charges/operation-reports/2015-report-on-the-operation-of-the-route-charges-system.pdf

Child Abuse

 484. Deputy Colm Brophy Information on Colm Brophy Zoom on Colm Brophy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the status of the work of the Ferns 5 national steering committee and the implementation of the recommendation of the Ferns 5 report. [38329/16]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The Ferns 5 National Steering Committee for Sexual Abuse Services was established to facilitate and promote integration and coordination of the key stakeholder agencies in the development of sexual abuse services for children in Ireland. The final report of the Steering Committee, which was published in 2014, included a Children’s Service Framework to include policies and procedures and standards for the following:

- prioritising the safeguarding of children and integration with child protection and criminal justice agencies;

- the establishment of a child sexual abuse team in each of four regions with links into each area as a means of ensuring local access to services, and outward links to referring agencies including, child protection services, An Garda Síochána and the probation and prison services;

- the application of a core and cluster model with dedicated core staff for each of the specialist centres and additional staffing being provided for on a secondment basis from other local services.

- the provision of a national service;

- employment of a range of disciplines for the core service including clinical psychologists, social workers, psychotherapists and family therapists with access to child and adolescent psychiatrists on an on-going basis;

- a multi-agency National Steering Committee.

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency is currently leading a national, multi-agency process to implement a national service model for sexual abuse services for children and their families which includes; An Garda Síochána, the Health Service Executive, the Children’s Hospital Group, the Probation Service and Children at Risk in Ireland (CARI) - a non-Governmental organisation.

The establishment of multi-agency service provision for children and young people who exhibit sexually harmful behaviour was set out in Tusla’s 2016 Business Plan. A principal psychologist and a principal social worker have been recruited and the recruitment of a senior psychologist and a senior social worker is underway. Implementation teams are currently being established in the four regions. Further development of the service will be planned for in the context of the 2017 Business Plan.

Youth Cafés Provision

 485. Deputy Colm Brophy Information on Colm Brophy Zoom on Colm Brophy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone her plans for capital funding in 2017 for development of new youth service facilities and youth cafés. [38330/16]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone My Department administers a range of funding schemes and programmes to support the provision of youth services by the voluntary youth sector, to young people throughout the country. The funding schemes support national and local youth work provision to some 380,000 young people. The voluntary youth sector involves approximately 1,400 paid staff, including youth workers and 40,000 volunteers working in youth work services and communities throughout the country. Budget 2017 has provided €2.6m to my Department for a capital funding scheme for youth projects and services.

Work on the development of a new capital funding scheme for 2017 is underway. My Department is engaging with each Education and Training Board Youth Officer to identify the capital needs of the youth sector. I hope to announce details of this new capital scheme in the coming months.

Children in Care

 486. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the number of non-Irish nationals by nationality currently within the care system in tabular form; the number of instances in these cases in which the young persons' consulate has been informed of this action being taken; the steps she and Tusla have taken to ensure that Ireland is fully in compliance with its duty under the Vienna Convention and Brussels II Regulation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38410/16]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I have requested information from Tusla, the Child and Family Agency and I am anxious to report to you in an accurate and helpful manner and I will respond directly to the Deputy upon receipt of this information.

  The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A

  Since my holding reply to your Parliamentary Question (38410/16) of 6 December 2016, I have received the following information from Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.

  I have been informed by Tusla that it does not collect data in relation to the nationality of children and young people coming into care on a national basis. Nationality of children and young people is considered on an individual basis during the admission process to ensure that children and young people are in placements that can meet their needs. Tusla is currently developing a National Child Care Information System and when this system is operational, data relating to nationality will be accessible.

  Tusla is fully compliant with its obligations under, and has policies in place in relation to, the Brussels II Regulation and the Vienna Convention. The guiding policies are the Procedure on the Placement of a child from another EU member state in Ireland (Brussels II) and the Consular Relations Protocol in respect of the Vienna Convention.  A protocol between the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, the Department of Justice and Equality (in its role as the Central Authority for Brussels II) and Tusla is also operational in relation to Brussels II matters.

  All relevant applications/notifications under the Brussels II Regulation are processed through a central system with dedicated staff overseeing and monitoring these requests. A national register to capture the nationality of young people coming to the attention of Tusla under such applications/notifications is now operational and further detail is set out in the following appendix.

  In respect of notifications under the Vienna Convention, the national register has been established and Tusla is in the process of implementing this as a national mechanism for collating data. This data is currently maintained by each area. This register will complement the agreed policy referred to above.

  I trust that this information is helpful.

Appendix: Requests under the Brussels II Regulation

Article 55

Article 55 requests are requests from and to another jurisdiction for a social report on a child/children or possibly on a parent under Article 55 of EC Regulation 2201/ 2003 (Brussels II bis).

Number of Article 55 Requests in 2015

Requester No of Requests
Bulgaria 1
Croatia 1
France 1
Finland 1
Hungary 1
Latvia 4
Lithuania 2
Poland 1
Romania 1
U.K. 13
Total 26


Number of Article 55 Requests in 2016
Requester No of Requests
Czech Republic 7
Estonia 1
Finland 1
Hungary 2
Latvia 2
Lithuania 6
Poland 2
U.K. 14
Romania 5
TUSLA 7 (2 Lithuania, 1 Italy,

2 UK, 1 Finland,

1 Germany)
Total 47


Article 56

An Article 56 application refers to an application in relation to the placement of a child in care in another jurisdiction.

Number of Article 56 Requests in 2015.
Requester No of Requests
Germany 1
Latvia 1
Lithuania 1
U.K 6
Total 9


Number of Article 56 Requests in 2016.
Requester No of Requests
Germany 2
Latvia 1
Lithuania 1
Tusla 4
UK 8
Total 16

Psychological Services

 487. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if dedicated psychiatric services will be provided in respect of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38424/16]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The issue raised by the Deputy is a matter for the Minister for Health.

Homeless Persons Data

 488. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if her Department does not provide the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government with the number of homeless adults and children in Tusla-funded accommodation services; and if she will engage with her counterparts in the Departments of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government and Social Protection and supply these figures from January 2017 to ensure that they are included in the Department of Housing, Planning, Community, and Local Government's official monthly homeless figures. [38442/16]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Policy responsibility for children who present as 'out of home' without their parent(s) or guardian(s) relates to children under 18 and any child welfare and protection concern that may arise in the context of the Child Care Act 1991. Children under 16 who present as out of home to emergency services are taken into care. Children aged 16 and 17 may be taken into care, or provided with a service under section 5 of the Child Care Act 1991 (accommodation for homeless children).

Figures available from Tusla indicate that, at the 31st of December 2015, there were 9 children aged 16 and 17 years old who were being accommodated under section 5.

Children accommodated under section 5 of the Act are provided with the same supports and safeguards as children in care. In some instances, they may not wish to be taken into care and will take up services only on the basis of receiving support under section 5. Social work departments work with these children to ensure the minimum time spent in homeless accommodation. The majority of children accommodated at the end of 2015 were the subject of a section 5 for six months or less.

Tusla has worked and will continue to work with relevant services in order to maximise the supports available to children and families and to ensure that all professionals are aware of their obligation to be vigilant in relation to child protection. The national dataset collated by Tusla, currently on a quarterly basis, is not compiled by local authority area. However, this can be made available on a formal basis to the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government if required.

Children in Care

 489. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 714 and 715 of 15 November 2016, if the numbers provided for children under one year of age taken into care represent individual new cases for each year provided; the reason Tusla does not employ a metric that collates the number of newborn children taken into care directly or soon after birth; if there are plans to introduce such a metric; the number of such removals of children under one that have taken place, by county or location, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38473/16]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, collates data in relation to the numbers of admissions to care. Each admission to care represents a new admission and hence the same child could be admitted into care more than once during the year. The data records each admission and not individual cases.

  Data in relation to each admission is collected for the individual child and recorded on the child's file. Care files contain information about admission, care plans, including reunification plans, placement details, actions of each professional in the child’s life, health and development needs, educational needs and discharge details. This information is not analysed or collated nationally.

  Tusla does not specifically identify pregnant mothers as a cohort for specific enumeration through metrics because each case is assessed individually both before and after birth. The newborn baby's environment, familial supports and the parents’ capacity are unique to each child; therefore each assessment is informed by these factors.

  Data regarding the number of admissions into care of children who were under 1 year old for the years 2011 to 2015 is set out in the following tables.

Year Number of Admissions for children aged under 1 year
2011 230
2012 255
2013 224
2014 231
2015 205
Please note data relates to admissions and not children and there may be multiple admissions for the one child or children

Year Number of Admissions for children aged under 1 year
2011 230 (10%)
2012 255 (12%)
2013 224 (12%)
2014 231(14%)
2015 205 (13%)
Please note data relates to admissions and not children and there may be multiple admissions for one child or children.

The percentage figures above reflect the percentage of those under 1 year as a percentage of the overall number of admissions (all age categories).

Child and Family Agency Staff

 490. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 581 of 29 November 2011 and 569 of 22 November 2016, the number of staff allocated to the separated children team for unaccompanied refugee minors of the HSE and the health boards in each of the years 2000 to 2014; and if all ownership records relating to staffing numbers for the separated children team transferred from the HSE to Tusla on its establishment in 2014. [38585/16]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Prior to the establishment of Tusla in January 2014, child welfare and protection services, including separated children teams for unaccompanied refugee minors, were provided under the auspices of the Health Service Executive. Tusla again has informed me that the information requested did not transfer on its establishment.

I have asked my officials to contact Tusla directly in order to find out where these records are held and in order that a reply to the Deputy setting out the information requested can be supplied directly to her.

Child Care Qualifications

 491. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Information on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if she will ensure that all members of staff in child care which count towards ratios are trained up to FETAC level 5 with regard to child care regulations taking effect at the end of November; if this requirement will be met if a member of staff is undertaking that training at that moment in time; and if there is flexibility regarding members of staff who are in training for such qualifications. [38646/16]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The majority of the Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) Regulations 2016 came into effect 30th June 2016.

The Regulations provide that each employee working directly with children attending the service must hold at least a major award in Early Childhood Care and Education at Level 5 on the National Qualifications Framework or a qualification deemed by the Minister to be equivalent. The Regulations clearly state that the service provider must ensure that their staff meet this standard.

This section of the regulations took effect on 30th June 2016 for services registering after that date and for all other services it will take effect on 31st December 2016.

My Department introduced this regulatory change following many years consultation with the sector. Mindful of the challenge that it would present to the sector, my Department introduced the following supportive measures:

- Learner Funds to provide sector workers with an opportunity to upskill to a Level 5 qualification.

- The Regulations provide an exemption for certain existing childcare staff who intend to retire from the sector in the near future, do not hold the minimum qualification and who do not wish to undertake a course of training at this stage. The option to apply for an exemption, which was first publicised through the City/County Childcare Committees in 2014 applies up to September 2021. The Regulations stipulate that persons seeking to avail of this exemption must, by 30th June 2016, have signed the necessary declaration and be in possession of a letter from the Minister confirming that the exemption had been granted.

- A qualifications assessment procedure, put in place by DCYA in the latter half of 2015, allows for applications to be made for individual qualifications assessment. This is conducted by DCYA in consultation with the Early Years Policy Unit of the Department of Education and Skills, and is available to anyone who applies. Each application is dealt with on a case by case basis.

Staff who have completed a relevant award at NFQ Level 5 or above by the 31st of December, or who were granted an exemption before the 30th June 2016, will meet the regulatory standard. Staff who are currently undergoing education to achieve a Level 5 award will not meet the regulatory standard until that award has been achieved.

Child Care Services

 492. Deputy Niamh Smyth Information on Niamh Smyth Zoom on Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the grants available for disability ramps for a child care facility; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38651/16]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone In June 2016, I introduced the new Access and Inclusion Model (AIM), which enables children with disabilities to access and fully participate in the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Programme.

  The model delivers seven levels of progressive support, moving from the universal to the targeted, to enable the full inclusion and meaningful participation of children with disabilities in the ECCE Programme. The degree of support provided will depend on the needs of the child in the context of the pre-school service delivering the ECCE programme.

  Level 5 of the model provides for specialised equipment, appliances and grants for minor building alterations (to include disability ramps) which are necessary to support a child’s participation in the ECCE programme. The maximum grant available under this stream for minor building alterations is €7,000.

  An application to Pobal, who are the administrators of the scheme, can be made by the pre-school service provider in conjunction with the parent for a minor building alterations grant.

  Further information is available in the AIM Policy on the dedicated website, www.aim.gov.ie.

Intercountry Adoptions Agreements

 493. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone her plans for opening the adoption programme between Ireland and Haiti; and if she will prioritise that programme given the fact that there are more than 30,000 children in institutions in that country, that many Irish families are approved for inter-country adoption and that there are many links between Ireland and Haiti. [38755/16]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone Haiti ratified the Hague Convention on 1 April 2014. In May 2014 the Adoption Authority of Ireland accredited Helping Hands Adoption Mediation Agency to facilitate inter country adoption between Ireland and Haiti. Helping Hands applied for accreditation by Institut du Bien-Être Social et de Recherches (IBESR), the central authority of inter country adoption in Haiti. The Authority has recently advised the Department that Helping Hands has been formally approved by IBESR to mediate adoptions from Haiti.

A preliminary meeting is scheduled between the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the Department of Foreign Affairs to examine the feasibility of progressing this matter further.

European Defence Capabilities

 494. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he will clarify the Government’s position on the European military headquarters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38722/16]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe As I previously advised the House on 27th September 2016, there have been proposals around for some time, that the EU should establish a joint operational headquarters to support the planning and conduct of its civil and military operations. A permanent joint civil-military operational headquarters, appropriately configured, could potentially deliver more effective and responsive CSDP operations in support of the UN and international peace and security, a position which Ireland supports.

However, this is a matter which EU Member States, including Ireland, will consider in the context of the Council Conclusions of 14 November on implementing the EU Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy. Ireland will participate fully in that process and in the ongoing development of the EU Common Security and Defence Policy in support of the UN and international peacekeeping and crisis management.

Easter Rising Commemorations

 495. Deputy Declan Breathnach Information on Declan Breathnach Zoom on Declan Breathnach asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the reason Louth Civil Defence did not take part in the 1916 commemoration parade on 27 March 2016; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38783/16]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe Civil Defence was invited to provide up to 100 volunteers to represent the organisation as part of the contingent of State emergency services in the Easter Sunday Commemoration Ceremony and Parade in Dublin on 27th March 2016. Nominations to participate in the parade were requested from the local Civil Defence Units throughout the country. Twenty-two of the thirty-one Units submitted written nominations. The number of nominees submitted exceeded the permitted limit. However, no nominations were received from Louth Civil Defence Unit.

The volunteers selected from the units that submitted written nominations to represent Civil Defence then undertook an extensive training programme in foot-drill in preparation for participation in the parade.

While twenty-two of the thirty-one units were represented in the parade, members from other units, including members of Louth Civil Defence assisted their colleagues in other duties on the day. I would like to thank all members of Civil Defence for their contribution to events commemorating the centenary of the Easter Rising, at both national and local level throughout the year.

Ferry Services Provision

 496. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if any contingency plans have been put in place involving the Naval Service to provide a replacement ferry service for the persons of Inis Mór on a temporary basis until a more permanent solution is found. [38826/16]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The Defence Forces do not have contingency plans in place for the provision of such a service. While the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs was in contact with my Department and I undertook to consider any request that is received, it has been confirmed to me that ferry services to Inis Mór have now resumed. With regard to the provision of ferry services generally, the military authorities have advised me that Naval Service ships are not suitable for this type of work.

Civil Defence

 497. Deputy Willie Penrose Information on Willie Penrose Zoom on Willie Penrose asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the steps he will take to provide alternative, suitable and appropriate accommodation for Westmeath Civil Defence, as the current accommodation is totally inadequate, given that there is alternative accommodation available in Columb Barracks, Mullingar; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38829/16]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe Civil Defence is a volunteer based organisation which supports the front-line emergency services. It operates in partnership between the Department of Defence and local authorities through-out Ireland. The Civil Defence Branch of the Department of Defence is charged with the management and development of Civil Defence at national level. The Civil Defence Branch provides policy direction, centralised training, administrative support and guidance and centralised procurement of major items of uniform and equipment in support of local authority Civil Defence efforts.

At local level, Civil Defence is based in each local authority area under the operational control of the relevant local authority. On a day to day basis these Units operate under the control of a Civil Defence Officer, who is an employee of the local authority.

The provision of accommodation for local Civil Defence Units is the responsibility of the relevant local authority. This is a longstanding position which was reaffirmed in the White Paper on Defence (2015).

Senior officials from the Department of Defence met with the Chief Executive, Westmeath County Council earlier this year. This has been in keeping with efforts by the Department, since the closure of Columb Barracks in 2012, to explore a number of avenues to try and secure the long term future of the former barracks for the benefit of the local community. To date, Westmeath County Council has declined the option of availing of Columb Barracks for use, including for use by Civil Defence.

Recently I met with a number of Westmeath Civil Defence volunteers to discuss the provision of accommodation. I advised the volunteers that although accommodation for local Civil Defence Units is a matter for each local authority, the Department of Defence will continue to work pro-actively with Westmeath County Council, to encourage them to provide appropriate accommodation for its local Civil Defence Unit.


Last Updated: 06/11/2019 08:20:10 First Page Previous Page Page of 82 Next Page Last Page