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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 461 - 477
 Header Item National Monuments
 Header Item Gorse Burning
 Header Item Turf Cutting Compensation Scheme Applications
 Header Item Mobile Telephony Services
 Header Item Environmental Regulations
 Header Item Action Plan for Rural Development Funding
 Header Item Scéim na mBóithre Pobail
 Header Item National Parks and Wildlife Service
 Header Item Foras na Gaeilge
 Header Item Health Insurance
 Header Item Hospital Services
 Header Item State Claims Agency
 Header Item Home Help Service Provision

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 946 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 109 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 461 - 477

National Monuments

 461. Deputy Peadar Tóibín Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the reason relevant officers from her Department did not conduct a full investigation into the cause of the structural damage which led to the collapse of national monument number 526 at Donaghmore, County Louth. [18036/17]

 462. Deputy Peadar Tóibín Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if her Department was consulted prior to the granting of planning permission to a house built 30 feet away from the Donaghmore Souterrain. [18037/17]

 463. Deputy Peadar Tóibín Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the exact circumstances which led to the structural damage to the Donaghmore Souterrain in County Louth. [18039/17]

 464. Deputy Peadar Tóibín Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if the National Monuments Service determined the identities of the parties responsible for the collapse of the Donaghmore Souterrain; and if so, if they have been prosecuted under section 14(1) of the National Monuments Act 2004. [18040/17]

Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys I propose to take Questions Nos. 461 to 464, inclusive, together.

I refer the Deputy to the reply by my colleague, the Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, to Questions Nos. 285 to 289, inclusive, on 28 March 2017. The reply set out in detail the information available from the Office of Public Works, which has responsibility for the maintenance and management of the monument in question, in relation to the damage to the monument and the remedial actions proposed.

In December 2007 my Department was notified by the planning authority of an application for planning permission for a new dwelling house near to the monument. In response, the Department recommended that an archaeological impact assessment be carried out to inform the planning authority’s decision on the application. The determination of individual planning applications, and the application or otherwise of conditions, is a statutory function of the planning authorities.

Gorse Burning

 465. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the number of investigations that have taken place in the past ten years into illegal gorse fires and the illegal burning of uplands; the number of these investigations that have resulted in prosecutions with the relevant fines imposed on the offender; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18101/17]

Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys Since 2007 my Department has taken eleven prosecution cases for breaches of Section 40 of the Wildlife Acts relating to illegal burning of vegetation (that is burning of vegetation outside the period prescribed in the Wildlife Acts for burning and cutting of vegetation). Fines were imposed in most cases with, in some cases, the defendants being ordered by the Court to pay legal costs and expenses.

An Garda Siochana may also carry out their own investigations into illegal burning.

Turf Cutting Compensation Scheme Applications

 466. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if an application for compensation with regard to cessation of turf cutting by a person (details supplied) will be processed. [18119/17]

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

  The qualifying criteria for the scheme for raised bog natural heritage areas are that:

   - The applicant must have had a legal interest (ownership or a turbary right (right to cut turf) in one of the 36 raised bog natural heritage areas and must have had the right to cut and remove turf from the property on 25 May 2010;

   - The applicant must have been cutting turf on the land in question during the five year period up to 14 January 2014;

   - The turbary on the site must not be exhausted; and

   - No turf cutting or associated activity is ongoing on the property.

  My Department is examining the application in view of the qualifying criteria for the scheme. I am advised that officials from my Department have been in contact with the applicant regarding his legal interest in the bog plot and have requested further information in relation to same.

  Once the relevant information is supplied, my Department will be in a position to process the application further.

Mobile Telephony Services

 467. Deputy Sean Sherlock Information on Seán Sherlock Zoom on Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the status of the mobile and broadband task force; the number of meetings that have been held since January 2017; the action points which have been completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [18161/17]

Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce was established in July 2016 to identify actions that can be taken in the short-term to improve mobile phone reception and to facilitate better broadband connection, particularly in rural areas. The Taskforce met on a monthly basis up to December 2016, with sub-group meetings taking place in between those meetings to progress particular work streams.

The Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce published a report on completion of its work in December 2016. The report contains 40 action points which have been agreed to progress the recommendations made by the Taskforce.

Along with the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten, T.D., I recently established an Implementation Group to oversee progress on delivery of the actions set out in the Taskforce report. The Implementation Group brings together all of the stakeholders responsible for the delivery of individual actions and is co-chaired by myself and Minister Naughten. The first meeting of the Implementation Group took place on 8 March last.

Quarterly progress reports on the status of the actions contained in the Taskforce report will be published following the end of each calendar quarter. A comprehensive annual review of progress will also be undertaken at the end of 2016, including feedback from a Stakeholder Forum to be held in late September.

The first quarterly progress report is currently being finalised by officials from my own Department and Minister Naughten’s Department, and will be published shortly.

Environmental Regulations

 468. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the position regarding the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, CITES, in respect of persons who are bringing in musical instruments from Asia to Ireland; if the weight in respect of the category of rosewood and other wood involved in the musical instrument is based on the total weight of the instrument or the particular wood content in respect of the CITES regulations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18178/17]

Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The 17th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species decided in 2016 to include in CITES Appendix II:

  - all rosewood and palissander species of the genus Dalbergia;

  - kosso (Pterocarpus erinaceus);

  - bubinga (Guibourtia demeusei; Guibourtia pellegriniana; Guibourtia tessmannii ).

  These decisions were adopted on the basis of the high volumes of international trade and the detrimental impact of illegal and unsustainable logging on the conservation of these species.

  The decision was implemented at EU level through amendments to the Annexes to Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97 which entered into force on 4 February 2017.

  The import into the EU of products containing wood of the species concerned requires an export permit issued by the source country and an import permit issued by the management authority of the EU Member State where the products are to be imported.

  The exporter is required to enter the weight of CITES-listed wood that is incorporated into the manufacture of the instrument – not the entire weight of the instrument.

Action Plan for Rural Development Funding

 469. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the details of the scheme for restoring old dwelling houses in rural areas; the amounts available; the application process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18195/17]

Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The Action Plan for Rural Development, which was launched on 23 January, contains a number of measures which have the objective of rejuvenating Ireland’s rural towns and villages to make them more attractive places in which to live and work, and to increase their tourism potential.

From my own Department’s perspective, I have secured funding of €12 million per annum for an enhanced Town and Village Renewal scheme. I intend to launch the first phase of this scheme very shortly, with a focus on improving the economic development of our towns and villages. Full details of the initiative will be available when the scheme is launched.

I also intend to launch a second phase of the scheme later this year. This will be a pilot project to encourage residential occupancy in rural towns and villages. My intention is that the scheme will be targeted at owner-occupiers and will assist with the cost of bringing buildings back into use for residential purposes.

The pilot will be launched in the second half of the year, when details of the scheme have been finalised in consultation with relevant Departments. Full details of the criteria to apply will be announced when the pilot is launched.

Scéim na mBóithre Pobail

 470. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty den Aire Ealaíon, Oidhreachta, Gnóthaí Réigiúnacha, Tuaithe agus Gaeltachta Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys an bhfuarthas comhfhreagras ó choiste i gcontae Dhún na nGall (sonraí curtha ar fáil) ina bhfuil drochstaid an bhóthair L1413 curtha in iúl don Aire; an gcuirfear maoiniú ar fáil chun an bealach seo a dheisiú; agus an ndéanfaidh sí ráiteas ina thaobh. [18196/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Deputy Seán Kyne): Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne Is féidir liom a dheimhniú don Teachta gur cuireadh mo Roinn ar an eolas, tríd Chomhairle Chontae Dhún na nGall, faoin mbóthar atá luaite aige. Mar is eol don Teachta, tá forfheidhmiú na Straitéise 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge 2010-2030 a foilsíodh i mí na Nollag 2010 áirithe go sonrach mar sprioc i gClár an Rialtais Rannpháirtíochta.

Tugann Acht na Gaeltachta 2012 feidhm reachtúil don phróiseas pleanála teanga sa Ghaeltacht faoina mbeidh pleananna teanga á n-ullmhú ag leibhéal an phobail. Faoin bpróiseas seo, tabharfar tréimhse ama don phobal chun pleananna teanga a ullmhú agus a fheidhmiú. Tá na scéimeanna a bhí ag an Roinn le haghaidh bóithre sa Ghaeltacht ar fionraí anois. Is i gcomhthéacs chur i bhfeidhm na Straitéise 20-Bliain agus an phróisis phleanála teanga sa Ghaeltacht a dhéanfar aon anailís maidir le hathnuachan na scéimeanna seo.

National Parks and Wildlife Service

 471. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the reason a person (details supplied) in County Donegal has not received compensation for the accommodation of controlled sheep grazing and the subsequent unavailability of commonage during periods in 2013 and 2014; if officials from the National Parks and Wildlife Service will contact the person directly in order to discuss same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18210/17]

Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys It is my understanding that there was no formal agreement, farm plan or contract put in place between the individual referred to in details supplied and the National Parks and Wildlife Service of my Department, although there had been discussions about improved grazing management.    

  There is also a lack of clarity as to whether this individual has applied to join the GLAS scheme which would then normally preclude separate payments from my Department.

  I understand that an official in my Department was recently in contact with this individual.

Foras na Gaeilge

 472. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if she will refuse permission to Foras na Gaeilge to sign a long lease on a proposed headquarters in Dublin in view of the recommendation in the report of the Moore Street consultative group (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18261/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Deputy Seán Kyne): Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne Firstly, I should explain that the recently published report of the Moore Street Consultative Group is currently being examined in the Department and its recommendations will be considered by Minister Humphreys. Any executive action must await that consideration and would be premature in any event pending the establishment of the oversight group that the Group itself envisages being put in place to take forward its recommendations.

The accommodation needs of particular organisations and related lease arrangements are, of course, also subject to procurement rules, compliance with the planning and development code and the suitability and availability of appropriate office space to meet the particular needs of the organisation when actually required.

In regard to Foras na Gaeilge, I must stress that the provision of office accommodation for its staff is an operational matter for that agency. I understand that Foras na Gaeilge has pressing accommodation requirements which arise, principally, from the ending of the long-term leases on its current headquarters on Merrion Square and its office in North Frederick Street. Accordingly, in accordance with section 5 of its Financial Memorandum, Foras na Gaeilge submitted a comprehensive business case to its two Sponsor Departments seeking approval for a proposal to move to a new headquarters in Amiens Street. Following consideration of the business case, both Sponsor Departments gave approval in principle for the move earlier this year. Both Departments are currently considering a request for final approval of the proposal.

  Question No. 473 answered with Question No. 457.

Health Insurance

 474. Deputy Ruth Coppinger Information on Ruth Coppinger Zoom on Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if he will ensure that employees of the State posted abroad as part of their duties are not disadvantaged by the health insurance lifetime community rating scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17937/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Our health insurance system is voluntary and community-rated, which means that people who are old or sick do not have to pay more for health insurance than the young and healthy. Since 1 May 2015, young people are encouraged to join the private health insurance market at an earlier age and thus avoid late entry loadings of 2% per annum which may apply at age 35 and older. Previous periods of health insurance cover are taken into account in calculating the loading that may apply to individuals, whereby the level of loading is reduced by the relevant credited period(s). These credited periods apply to community-rated health insurance cover with registered health insurers in this country only.

Civil servants serving as diplomats in the Department of Foreign Affairs are generally posted abroad on a number of separate occasions during the course of their career. The Department of Foreign Affairs offer their civil servants posted abroad a policy providing international cover (the cost of which is partly subsidised by that Department). International health care plan such as VHI Global is not a health insurance contract within the meaning of health insurance legislation i.e. they are not subject to community rating, risk equalisation, minimum benefits etc. For the purposes of Lifetime Community Rating, an insured person must have a continuous period of cover under an in-patient indemnity health insurance contract effected by a registered health insurer. As policies such as VHI Global do not meet this legislative requirement, civil servants holding that policy while assigned abroad are subject to Lifetime Community Rating rules if they choose to take out voluntary health insurance on return to Ireland.

Officials from my Department have advised colleagues in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade that a review of Lifetime Community Rating, after 30 April 2017, is provided for in the regulations. The Health Insurance Authority, as the independent regulator, recently carried out a public consultation process (closing date 3 March 2017) as the first phase of its review of the regulations. The Authority is now in the process of considering all of the submissions received and will submit its report and recommendations to me in due course.

Hospital Services

 475. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the person or agency that, when an adult, male or female, is allegedly raped, is responsible for carrying out a forensic sexual medical examination; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17960/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris There are six Sexual Assault Treatment Units (SATUs) in Ireland. They provide specialist care for women and men aged fourteen years and over who have recently been sexually assaulted or raped. The specialist team of SATU staff provide easily accessible, holistic services which address the medical, psychological and emotional needs and appropriate follow up care for victims of sexual crime, in a supportive, sensitive manner.

In response to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to you directly.

State Claims Agency

 476. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris further to Parliamentary Question No. 45 of 1 February 2017, the criteria used by the State Claims Agency in building the actuarial models which indicated that the payment of damages from 2007 onwards would increase, plateauing in or around 2020. [17466/17]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The State Claims Agency has independent actuarial advisors to design and build the actuarial models and estimates for the Clinical Indemnity Scheme. Actuarial projections are part based on historical claims spend, claims activity and future reasonably foreseeable activity taking into account relevant risk factors. The actuaries provide projections to the Agency on a best estimate basis, intended to represent the expected value of the distribution of these reasonably foreseeable claims outcomes in order to predict the yearly cost of managing the Clinical Indemnity Scheme.

The Clinical Indemnity Scheme was established in 2002, and was extended to include consultants working in public hospitals from 1 February 2004. It is important to note that the introduction of a new indemnity or insurance scheme in any industry sector will necessarily see increasing numbers of claims in the new Scheme over a period of time as the claims being to 'wash through' the system. This is particularly relevant in relation to the numbers of maternity-related claims involving infants, including cerebral palsy cases, where often there is a timeline of several years from the date of the incident to the date of claim and ultimate settlement.

Home Help Service Provision

 477. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin Information on Fiona O'Loughlin Zoom on Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris when it is envisaged that home help hours allocated to counties Kildare and west Wicklow will reach the level that was available in 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17472/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.


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