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 Header Item Written Replies Nos. 245 to 253
 Header Item Departmental Investigations
 Header Item Child Protection Services Provision
 Header Item Child Care Services Regulation
 Header Item Child Care Services Regulation
 Header Item Garda Vetting of Personnel
 Header Item Defence Forces Remuneration
 Header Item Defence Forces Medicinal Products
 Header Item Departmental Investigations

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 935 No. 1

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Written Replies Nos. 245 to 253

Departmental Investigations

 245. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor the cost to the Exchequer of any ongoing investigations or inquiries in her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [2394/17]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor): Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor I am interpreting the Deputy’s question as relating to the costs to the Exchequer of any ongoing statutory enquiries or investigations.  There have been no costs incurred by my Department in relation to ongoing statutory enquiries or investigations.

Child Protection Services Provision

 246. Deputy Josepha Madigan Information on Josepha Madigan Zoom on Josepha Madigan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone further to Parliamentary Question No. 50 of 8 November 2016, if the evaluation report has been reviewed, as suggested by her; if so, the findings; and if not, when the report will be reviewed.  [2025/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone As advised in my response to the Deputy in November 2016, the final evaluation report on the Centres, published by One Family in March 2014, recommended that an integrated response by my Department, the Department of Justice and Equality, supported by their relevant agencies (i.e. The Child and Family Agency, the Courts Service, the Probation Service, the Legal Aid Board, the Family Mediation Service, and COSC) would be the best approach to progressing the recommendations.

I wrote to my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality in June 2016 regarding the final evaluation report of the pilot project. I have suggested that together our Departments might review the evaluation report in light of changing infrastructural arrangements such as the establishment of the Child and Family Agency and the proposed Family Courts Service. I will follow up further with the Minister for Justice and Equality in this regard, and remain committed to examining the potential for advancing further consideration of the final evaluation report’s recommendations.

Child Care Services Regulation

 247. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if she will re-examine the 2016 child care regulation stipulating that only staff with a major level 5 qualification in early childhood care and education can be included in adult to child ratios.  [2026/17]

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 on 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 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 up to 1st September 2021 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. This option was first publicised through the City / County Childcare Committees in 2014. The Regulations stipulate that persons wishing 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.

Given the considerable lead-in time, during which the sector was aware that a minimum qualification requirement was going to be introduced, I do not consider there is any justification for amending the Regulations. 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 Regulation

 248. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if she will implement the proposals put forward by a women's centre (details supplied) in a recent submission relating to the 2016 child care regulation requirements.  [2027/17]

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 on 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 on 31st December 2016.

  In light of the implementation of the Childcare Regulations, from December 31st  2016, Community Employment Scheme participants working in childcare services who do not have relevant childcare qualifications can no longer count towards the ratio of staff to children required.

  The Department is aware that some community/not-for-profit services have relied on Community Employment workers as a core component of their business model. The Department commissioned Childcare Committees Ireland (CCI) to investigate the extent of likely issues and to work with community childcare services to minimise the impact of this change.

  As of end 2016, 201 Community Services had undertaken a review. Of these, CCI have indicated that 60 are likely to be significantly impacted by the qualifications requirement. The Department has indicated that funding may be available to assist these services, and is currently considering proposals in this regard.

  CCI, with the approval of Early Years Unit of the Department, have developed a business planning/cost analysis template and is continuing to work with services to identify a sustainable path forward, incorporating the cost of staff to replace CE scheme workers, based on a ‘cost per FTE child’ analysis.

  I have no plans to amend the regulations as they apply to Community Employment Scheme Workers.

Garda Vetting of Personnel

 249. Deputy Darragh O'Brien Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone in view of the fact that Tusla currently applies for Garda vetting for its employees, that is, for the preschool inspectorate and that Tusla is the inspector of early years services' Garda vetting, if the Tusla Garda vetting facility can be opened up to early years services; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [2058/17]

 250. Deputy Darragh O'Brien Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone in view of the fact that Pobal currently applies for Garda vetting for its employees and Pobal administers funding to early years services' Garda vetting, if the Pobal Garda vetting facility can be opened up to early years services; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [2059/17]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I propose to take Questions Nos. 249 and 250 together.

Two organisations are funded by this Department to process vetting applications on behalf of the early years sector. These organisations are Early Childhood Ireland and Barnardos. Neither Tusla nor Pobal have responsibility for processing Garda Vetting applications on behalf of the Early Years sector.

I am aware that there have been difficulties in relation to obtaining vetting disclosures for staff. I have provided additional funding to both Early Childhood Ireland and Barnardos to assist the clearance of the backlog of vetting applications that built up during the changeover from paper to e-vetting. In addition, officials from my Department will be meeting with both organisations in the next few weeks to discuss the administration of vetting applications, with the objective of endeavouring to ensure that the process works as efficiently as possible in the interest of early years services and the children attending those services.

Defence Forces Remuneration

 251. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe Information on Kevin O'Keeffe Zoom on Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny when back pay will issue to certain members of the Defence Forces (details supplied).  [2116/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe On 27th September 2010 the Adjudicator under the Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme for members of the Permanent Defence Force awarded an increase in the Army Ranger Wing allowance. This award is backdated to 1 June 2006. The Adjudicator’s Findings cannot be implemented having regard to the provisions of Sections 2 and 5 of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No 2) Act 2009.

This adjudication is part of the outstanding adjudication findings covered under paragraph 1.16 of the Public Service Agreement 2010-2014.  Paragraph 5.3 of the Public Service Stability Agreement 2013-2018, known as the Lansdowne Road Agreement, states that “The Parties have agreed that any outstanding adjudications as referred to in paragraph 1.16 of the Public Service Agreement 2010-2014 will be reviewed jointly by the Parties prior to the expiry of this agreement.” The review mechanism is the subject of ongoing consideration in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Defence Forces Medicinal Products

 252. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny his views on a statement made by the German Minister of Defence (details supplied) regarding Lariam; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2193/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe The choice of malaria chemoprophylaxis for use by other armed forces is an internal matter for those forces. It would be inappropriate for me to comment on another State’s policy in this regard. Malaria is a serious disease which killed approximately 438,000 people in 2015, with 90% of deaths occurring in sub-Saharan Africa as reported by the World Health Organisation.  It is a serious threat to any military force operating in the area.

There are three anti-malarial drugs in use by the Irish Defence Forces, namely Lariam (mefloquine), Malarone and Doxycycline. The choice of medication is a medical decision made by Medical Officers in the Defence Forces, having regard to the specific circumstances of the mission and the individual member of the Defence Forces.

Significant precautions are taken by Defence Forces Medical Officers in assessing the medical suitability of members of our Defence Forces to take any of the anti-malarial medications. It is the policy of the Defence Forces that personnel are individually screened for fitness for service overseas and medical suitability. I am advised that Mefloquine is listed by the World Health Organisation in its International Travel and Health Handbook as one of the anti-malarial drugs for use as prophylaxis. The use of and information on medications is kept under ongoing review.

The health and welfare of the men and women of the Defence Forces is a high priority for me and the Defence Forces.

Departmental Investigations

 253. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the cost to the Exchequer of any ongoing investigations or inquiries in his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [2390/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe Professional assistance has been engaged in relation to personnel investigations pertaining to the Defence Forces. My Department paid a total of €23,954 for services in respect of one such matter while services in respect of a second investigation have not yet been the subject of an invoice or payment.


Last Updated: 05/02/2020 17:34:56 First Page Previous Page Page of 92 Next Page Last Page