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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 186-210
 Header Item Stroke Care
 Header Item Obesity Strategy
 Header Item Nursing Staff Provision
 Header Item Health Services Provision
 Header Item Medical Products Supply
 Header Item Hospital Services
 Header Item Medical Products
 Header Item Parliamentary Questions Data
 Header Item Fisheries Protection
 Header Item Teagasc Courses
 Header Item Fisheries Protection
 Header Item Beef Data and Genomics Programme
 Header Item Fish Quotas
 Header Item Fish Quotas
 Header Item Parliamentary Questions Data
 Header Item Climate Change Adaptation Plans
 Header Item Illegal Dumping
 Header Item EU Directives
 Header Item Consultancy Contracts Data
 Header Item Energy Schemes
 Header Item Parliamentary Questions Data
 Header Item Road Network

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 976 No. 5

First Page Previous Page Page of 84 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 186-210

Stroke Care

 186. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the funding allocated to support services for stroke survivors in the community in each of the CHO areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52362/18]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Obesity Strategy

 187. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the frequency with which the obesity policy implementation oversight group has met since its establishment; the dates of these meetings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52363/18]

 188. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the reason for the delay in the establishment of a monitoring body to monitor voluntary codes of practice (details supplied); the timeline for same in view of the fact that the codes will be one year old in February 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52364/18]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Catherine Byrne): Information on Catherine Byrne Zoom on Catherine Byrne I propose to take Questions Nos. 187 and 188 together.

An Obesity Policy Implementation Oversight Group (OPIOG) has been established under the Chair of the Department of Health. It is comprised of representatives from the following Departments and Agencies: Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Department of Children and Youth Affairs; Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection; Department of Education and Skills; Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government; University College Cork; the Food Safety Authority of Ireland; the Health Service Executive (HSE) - including the National Clinical Lead for Obesity; and Safefood.

The OPIOG held its inaugural meeting on the 19th of October, 2017 when it agreed to establish two sub-groups for Reformulation and Healthy Eating. Both sub-groups have met on a number of occasions since being established.

Further meetings of the OPIOG were arranged for 28 February 2018; 24 May 2018 and 23 October 2018 for the purposes of providing oversight to the implementation of the national Obesity Policy & Action Plan (OPAP).

Under the umbrella of the OPIOG, work is continuing on the development of the monitoring mechanism for the Codes of Practice on the Marketing and Advertising of Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages; and at the same time, the Department of Health focus in this area has also been on progressing the development of Guidelines for the practical interpretation and application of these codes and I expect this process to be facilitated in the near future. Furthermore, my Department has engaged with industry representation on initiating a register of signatories to the Codes of Practice.

Nursing Staff Provision

 189. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the position regarding the provision of an advanced nurse practitioner rheumatology post at UHK as promised in December 2016; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52392/18]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to you directly as soon as possible.

Health Services Provision

 190. Deputy Niamh Smyth Information on Niamh Smyth Zoom on Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the reason women are being refused a scan (details supplied) in view of the fact that the RCSI hospital group has said that it is available to all women that request it; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52403/18]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris As this is a service issue, I have asked the HSE to reply to you directly.

Medical Products Supply

 191. Deputy Mick Barry Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if a person (details supplied) will receive the medication they need for their condition. [52408/18]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive (HSE) is required to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. Section 6 of the HSE Governance Act 2013 bars the Minister for Health from directing the HSE to provide a treatment or a personal service to any individual or to confer eligibility on any individual.

In that regard as the concerns raised relate to service matters, I have arranged for your correspondence to be referred to the HSE for consideration and direct reply to you.

Hospital Services

 192. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if the charges of €80 per visit capped at up to €800 per year in certain venesection clinics including Louth hospital will be overturned and the treatment made available for free to persons who cannot access medical cards and cannot afford private health insurance; if this has been reviewed; if a decision has been made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52465/18]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The Health Act 1970 (as amended) provides that all persons ordinarily resident in the country are eligible, subject to certain charges, to public in-patient hospital services. The current public hospital statutory in-patient charge is €80 per day, subject to a maximum of €800 in any period of 12 consecutive months. All persons accessing public in-patient services, including day case services, in a public hospital are liable for the statutory public-inpatient charges, subject to a number of exemptions, including where a person is a medical cardholder.

There are currently no plans to exempt further categories of patients from the public in-patient charge.

Medical Products

 193. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if he will order a review of the regulation of the medical devices sector following the recent international investigation by journalists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52480/18]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Concerns around the safety and certification of various medical devices have been raised by “The Implant Files”, an article published in the Irish Times on 26 November 2018.

Medical devices in Europe are currently regulated by legislation which is in place since the early 1990s.  Under this system of regulation, devices are assessed and certified by a notified body. These notified bodies (in Ireland the National Standards Authority of Ireland, NSAI) are designated and overseen at each national level by the regulatory authority, in Ireland the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA). The HPRA’s primary roles in relation to medical devices are the market surveillance/vigilance of medical devices once they are on the market and the designation and the designation and oversight of the notified body.

Negotiations on new EU-wide regulations of medical devices and in vitro diagnostic medical devices were formally agreed for implementation by the EU Parliament and Council in May 2017. The new regulations will be implemented in 2020 and 2022 respectively.

The new Regulations represent a significant development and enhancement of the existing legislation; they build on existing principles to strengthen the regulatory framework, make it more effective and more harmonised in its implementation. These Regulations ultimately provide a secure, consistent regulatory framework which will enhance public health in Ireland and across the EU as a whole, by ensuring that medical devices available on the market are safe, perform and afford benefits to patients and to healthcare systems. 

Furthermore, in 2013 the Commission launched a joint action plan (referred to as the Dalli Action Plan).  The Plan contains concerted actions to: improve the functioning of the notified bodies system and their oversight within the EU; enhance market surveillance activities; and to improve coordination, communication and transparency.  Since then enhanced oversight of notified bodies has been achieved through joint assessment of these notified bodies by Member States and the Commission. Joint assessments have contributed to an improved and harmonised regulatory oversight of notified bodies across Europe. 

While it is acknowledged that there are risks associated with any medical intervention, the potential benefits of medical devices for many patients, often with critical or long-term illness, means they will continue to play a vital and necessary role in the wider health service.

Parliamentary Questions Data

 194. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the number of parliamentary questions his Department has processed in the past three years to date; the number of questions answered directly; the number of questions referred to bodies or agencies under the aegis of his Department for direct reply; the number of staff who are assigned to his parliamentary questions section; and if non-departmental staff, advisers and-or public affairs and relations companies have composed parliamentary question replies or had an act or hand in forming parliamentary question replies in the timeframe specified. [52233/18]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department has processed the following number of PQs in 2016, 2017 and up to end November 2018:

Year Oral Written
2016 56 2515
2017 63 2475
2018 (to end Nov) 57 2607 


  Two members of staff in my Private Office are responsible for assigning and processing Parliamentary Questions. Parliamentary Questions are assigned to the particular Division(s) of my Department dealing with the subject matter(s) and replies are prepared as part of the normal work of that Division. The number and level of staff and the time spent on preparing an individual answer depends on the complexity of the issue raised, the form in which the information exists and is requested, and whether an oral or written reply is required. 

  Replies to Parliamentary Questions are submitted by the Secretary General's office to my office for final approval. No public affairs or public relations companies have composed Parliamentary Question replies or had an act or hand in forming Parliamentary Question replies on my behalf.

  In relation to the number of questions referred to bodies or agencies under the aegis of my Department for direct reply, there is no central register held recording the number of questions referred for direct reply. My Department requests that Parliamentary Questions referred to State Bodies should be responded to directly to the Deputy within 10 working days.

Fisheries Protection

 195. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed if he will address a matter (details supplied) regarding pair trawling; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52273/18]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed Sprat is a short-lived species and an important prey fish for many marine species therefore it is a vital species to the ocean food chain as well as an important source of income for inshore fishermen.

Sprat in Irish waters is not a species subject to fishing quotas or Total Allowable Catches established under EU regulation. Scientifically, relatively little is known about the sprat species. The International Council of the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) considers sprat to be a data limited stock which means that more detailed data is required in order to form a full understanding of the state of the stock.

Available scientific information is that sprat in Ireland spawn from January to June with a fishery normally taking place from October to Christmas. This is a fortuitous situation, allowing some degree of reproductive output as the fishery takes place after the fish have been able to spawn. 

The Marine Institute, in cooperation with the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, have participated in a three-year research project which was partially funded by Industry, in order to address the lack of accurate information in respect of the sprat stocks in waters around Ireland. The aim of this project was to develop an accurate and detailed understanding of the stock structure of sprat around Ireland and the data collected will also contribute to the ICES assessment of the vulnerability or otherwise of sprat in the waters around Ireland. This project commenced in 2015 and is due to be completed in 2019.

In addition to this research project, the Marine Institute, in close cooperation with Industry, participated in a number of observer trips in the sprat fishery in 2017 and 2018, the purpose of which was twofold:

- To obtain biological information on the resource itself and on any other fishery by-catch, i.e. herring, juvenile mackerel, etc.

- To obtain information on any by-catch this fishery might have of protected, endangered and threatened species, under the European maritime and fisheries fund (EMFF) marine biodiversity scheme such as marine mammals, seabirds and listed fish species.  

 A risk assessment of fisheries interactions in Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) including for Harbour Seals in Kenmare Bay by the Marine Institute, noted that the risk posed by pelagic fishing on harbour seals through by-catch and disturbance of haul out locations was low.

The Observer programme greatly increased the number of trips on board vessels fishing Sprat from about 2 trips per season to 15 trips in 2017. In 2018, sampling effort (7 trips) was focused on the south coast as the northwest had been well covered the previous year. Bycatch information from these data is preliminary and will be analysed once sufficient sampling over area and season has been achieved. The reason for fewer observer trips in 2018 is that the programme was concentrated in the South west where trips are logistically more difficult due to greater diversity of vessels and ports as well as longer trips.

A public consultation process to examine the arrangements for trawling inside the six nautical mile zone and inside the baselines ended on 11 June 2018.

Over 900 responses were received in relation to the public consultation and these have been carefully examined.  Taking into account the submissions received and having undertaken further analysis I plan to announce my decision relating to any possible measures shortly.

Teagasc Courses

 196. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed if cases have been brought to his attention regarding outstanding green certificates to be issued by certification operators to persons who have successfully completed the certificate and passed in 2018; the number of such cases his attention has been drawn to date in 2018; and if he will permit persons who have successfully passed the exams in 2018 and that are still waiting on certificates to be issued by operators to be eligible to qualify and receive 2018 payments under the national reserve, young farmers scheme and BPS in view of the fact that the issuing of certificates is beyond their control. [52405/18]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The Green Cert programme is delivered by Teagasc and accredited by Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) an independent State agency, operating under the auspices of the Department of Education and Science, and responsible for promoting quality and accountability in education and training services in Ireland. The date of issue of QQI certifications is a matter for QQI and neither Teagasc nor my Department has any input into the matter.

Applicants to the 2018 National Reserve and the Young Farmers Scheme were required to have successfully completed a recognised course of education in agriculture giving rise to a QQI award at Level 6 or its equivalent by the 15 May 2018. The Teagasc Green Cert programme meets the education requirements of the National Reserve and Young Farmers Scheme.

Where delays arise in issuing formal certifications, education providers can furnish applicants with a “Pending Certification’ letter, which is accepted by my Department with a copy of the results for the purpose of processing applications under the National Reserve and the Young Farmers Scheme.

Fisheries Protection

 197. Deputy Martin Ferris Information on Martin Ferris Zoom on Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed his views on the ongoing pair trawling for sprat in estuaries and bays in view of the concern of conservation organisations and persons; and the way in which he plans to remedy this practice. [52410/18]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed Sprat is a short-lived species and an important prey fish for many marine species therefore it is a vital species to the ocean food chain as well as an important source of income for inshore fishermen.

Sprat in Irish waters is not a species subject to fishing quotas or Total Allowable Catches established under EU regulation. Scientifically, relatively little is known about the sprat species. The International Council of the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) considers sprat to be a data limited stock which means that more detailed data is required in order to form a full understanding of the state of the stock.

Available scientific information is that sprat in Ireland spawn from January to June with a fishery normally taking place from October to Christmas. This is a fortuitous situation, allowing some degree of reproductive output as the fishery takes place after the fish have been able to spawn. 

The Marine Institute, in cooperation with the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, have participated in a three-year research project which was partially funded by Industry, in order to address the lack of accurate information in respect of the sprat stocks in waters around Ireland. The aim of this project was to develop an accurate and detailed understanding of the stock structure of sprat around Ireland and the data collected will also contribute to the ICES assessment of the vulnerability or otherwise of sprat in the waters around Ireland. This project commenced in 2015 and is due to be completed in 2019.

In addition to this research project, the Marine Institute, in close cooperation with Industry, participated in a number of observer trips in the sprat fishery in 2017 and 2018, the purpose of which was twofold:

- To obtain biological information on the resource itself and on any other fishery by-catch, i.e. herring, juvenile mackerel, etc.

- To obtain information on any by-catch this fishery might have of protected, endangered and threatened species, under the European maritime and fisheries fund (EMFF) marine biodiversity scheme such as marine mammals, seabirds and listed fish species.  

A risk assessment of fisheries interactions in Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) including for Harbour Seals in Kenmare Bay by the Marine Institute, noted that the risk posed by pelagic fishing on harbour seals through by-catch and disturbance of haul out locations was low.

The Observer programme greatly increased the number of trips on board vessels fishing Sprat from about 2 trips per season to 15 trips in 2017. In 2018, sampling effort (7 trips) was focused on the south coast as the northwest had been well covered the previous year. Bycatch information from these data is preliminary and will be analysed once sufficient sampling over area and season has been achieved. The reason for fewer observer trips in 2018 is that the programme was concentrated in the South west where trips are logistically more difficult due to greater diversity of vessels and ports as well as longer trips.

A public consultation process to examine the arrangements for trawling inside the six nautical mile zone and inside the baselines ended on 11 June 2018.

Over 900 responses were received in relation to the public consultation and these have been carefully examined.  Taking into account the submissions received and having undertaken further analysis I plan to announce my decision relating to any possible measures shortly.

Beef Data and Genomics Programme

 198. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed when a person (details supplied) in County Kerry will receive payment under the beef genomics scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52434/18]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The person named is a participant in the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP). Payments under the 2018 BDGP scheme, including to the person named, are scheduled to commence mid-December 2018..

Fish Quotas

 199. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the way in which he plans to prevent the closure of all other fisheries in view of the zero TAC that has been advised for cod and whiting in area 6A and the fact that the landing obligation is coming into effect from 1 January 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52446/18]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed While there was a zero TAC advice from ICES for cod and whiting in Area 6a, that is not the proposal on the table from the Commission. The Commission has  proposed a “Union TAC” for these two stocks - 1461 tonnes for cod and 937 tonnes for whiting. These TAC's are intended to cover by catches in targeted fisheries only and no directed fishing for these two species would be allowed. The Commission's rationale for setting a limited TAC is to support targeted fisheries and avoid closure arising from insufficient quota for unavoidable by catches of cod and whiting. I fully support this rationale.

I do not support, however, the proposal that Member States will not receive their quota shares for these two stocks, and three others of relevance to Ireland, in the normal way (relative stability shares). I am very concerned about this potential aspect of the Commission proposal as it is likely to create more issues than it solves. Ireland is working closely with other relevant Member Sates to provide that a TAC is set and allocated in accordance with relative stability. Our objective is that key commercial fisheries are not closed early due to a 'choke' situation.

Fish Quotas

 200. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the way in which he will ensure the economic sustainability of the fishing fleet in view of some of the proposed reductions in key stocks, for example, 32% in nephrops and other stocks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52447/18]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The annual TAC and Quota negotiations are always a challenge and this year will be no different. While the process for deciding TAC levels concludes in December, our preparation begins much earlier.  My aim in all of these negotiations is always, in consultation with the stakeholders, to ensure that we have a profitable and sustainable fishing industry that will continue to benefit our coastal communities.

I share the deputies concern about a number of the proposals including Nephrops, our second most important stock. I am always conscious of the immediate impacts the decisions taken at the December Fisheries Council have for so many communities around our coast. This is why I believe the advance preparation should be as comprehensive and inclusive as possible involving my own Department as well as Bord Iascaigh Mhara and the Marine Institute, all industry representatives and the Environmental Pillar.  As part of this, I launched a public consultation as part of our Sustainability Impact Assessment, which went before the Oireachtas. This process is invaluable and helps me identify the key areas of concern.

Discussions have also taken place with many parties on issues in relation to December Council. There are high level meetings with the Commission, the Presidency and other Member States as part of the preparation for the December Fisheries Council and a number of important technical meetings.  I also engaged with a number of my Ministerial colleagues at Agriculture & Fisheries Council in November. These meetings help me to understand the priorities of other Member States and also gauge where Ireland can build relationships to help us deliver our priorities at the December Council.  

I endeavour to ensure that I am comprehensively prepared for all potential issues discussed at December Council. Where cuts are proposed we must ensure that they are justified by the scientific advice and that the advice from ICES is being applied correctly by the Commission and in a fair and consistent manner. 

I can assure the Deputy that Ireland is well prepared and I will do my utmost to ensure that the final outcome is one that is good for the industry and the long term sustainability of the stocks.

Parliamentary Questions Data

 201. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the number of parliamentary questions his Department has processed in the past three years to date; the number of questions answered directly; the number of questions referred to bodies or agencies under the aegis of his Department for direct reply; the number of staff who are assigned to his parliamentary questions section; and if non-departmental staff, advisers and-or public affairs and relations companies have composed parliamentary question replies or had an act or hand in forming parliamentary question replies in the timeframe specified. [52236/18]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton There were 4,809 PQs processed by my Department in the last three years. My office does not maintain a record as to whether a question was answered directly or whether it was referred to an agency for answer directly to a Deputy. Where a question is referred to an agency, this is stated in the reply, and the agency is expected to respond to the Deputy within 10 days as per Standing Orders. Where appropriate,  input is sought from the relevant body or agency in the preparation of replies.

  Two persons in my Private Office are assigned to process questions.

  Officials in my Department prepare a draft reply which is then submitted to my office for approval. 

Public relations companies are not involved in the preparation of replies to Parliamentary Questions.

Climate Change Adaptation Plans

 202. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he will report on the planned industrial terminal on the Shannon Estuary; the way in which this planning fits with the Fossil Fuel Divestment Act 2018 recently passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52310/18]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The National Mitigation Plan, published in July 2017, restates the Government’s commitment to move from a fossil fuel-based electricity system to a low-carbon power system. Investment in further renewable generation will be incentivised. The new Renewable Electricity Support Scheme, approved by government in July 2018, will provide for a renewable electricity ambition of 55% by 2030. Currently, 30% of our electricty is generated from renewables.

I have secured Government approval to develop an all of Government plan which will set out the actions which must be taken  to make Ireland a leader in responding to climate change. This Plan will include the steps which we must take in order to reach this target. I will work with colleagues across Government to develop new initiatives across electricity, transport and heat, as well as a range of other sectors.

In all projected transitions to a low carbon economy by 2050, gas will continue to play a role. It plays an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the power generation, industrial and commercial, residential and transport sectors by replacing more Co2-intensive fossil fuels. In Ireland gas powered generation also provides an important back-up for intermittent renewable wind generation.

So while gas usage will reduce significantly in the years ahead, Ireland will still need secure sources of gas. At present this is provided by both gas piped on shore from Irish gas fields and imports through gas pipelines from the UK.

The development of an LNG facility could further enhance Ireland’s gas security of supply by increasing import route diversity and would be compatible with the State’s commitments to tackle climate change. 

Ireland’s energy policy is fully aligned with the EU’s climate and energy objectives on the transition to decarbonisation, which includes continuous and on-going review of policies to reduce harmful emissions, improve energy efficiency, incentivise efficient and sustainable infrastructure investment, integrate markets, and promote research and innovation while ensuring our energy security of supply is maintained and enhanced.

The project to which the Deputy refers is a private commercial project. Final investment decisions for the project and compliance with any legal and regulatory requirements in relation to consents or permits are the responsibility of the project promoter. 

In relation to the production, sourcing, buying and selling of natural gas produced outside this jurisdiction, this is an operational matter for the undertakings involved.  Any undertaking would be required to comply with EU law in this area.

Illegal Dumping

 203. Deputy Niamh Smyth Information on Niamh Smyth Zoom on Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his plans to address the issue of illegal dumping nationally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52332/18]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Illegal dumping is first and foremost a matter of individual responsibility and compliance with the law. While enforcement action in this area is a matter for local authorities, my Department encourages a multi-facetted approach to tackling the problem, incorporating enforcement, public awareness and education and, as such, provides funding to support the activities of the Waste Enforcement Regional Lead Authorities of approximately €1 million per annum and of the network of local authority waste enforcement officers of approximately €7.4 million per annum. In addition, my Department has developed the Anti-Dumping Initiative to work in partnership with local authorities and community organisations in identifying high risk or problem areas, developing appropriate enforcement responses and carrying out clean-up operations. Since 2017 funding of €3.3 million has been made available from the Environment Fund in this regard which has supported over 400 projects across all 31 local authority areas, remediating black spots and equipping local authority enforcement officers with the latest technologies available to support SMART enforcement of our waste laws.

A review of this initiative is underway which will inform a 2019 anti-dumping work programme that will place an increased emphasis on all actors who facilitate the unauthorised movement and disposal of waste.

EU Directives

 204. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the status of the ongoing review of the audiovisual media services directive; the action or research he is undertaking; if and when a consultation process will commence with stakeholders on transposition of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52366/18]

 205. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the details of the national regulatory authority to be appointed which will monitor and ensure that video sharing platforms have appropriate measures in place as part of the audiovisual media service directive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52367/18]

 206. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his views on whether it is appropriate for an authority which has not yet been formally appointed to seek meetings with industry and social media companies that will fall under the scope of the new audiovisual media service directive (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52368/18]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I propose to take Questions Nos. 204 to 206, inclusive, together.

The current Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) was codified in 2010 and contains rules and requirements that form the minimum standards that Television Broadcasting Services and On-demand Audiovisual Media Services such as the RTÉ Player or the iTunes Store, must follow in the EU. The provisions of the current Directive are reflected in Irish law in the Broadcasting Act 2009 and related statutory instruments.

In May 2016 the European Commission published a proposed revision of the AVMS Directive. The proposal was designed to update the rules and requirements in the AVMSD to reflect the rapid changes that the video media market was and is experiencing. One part of the proposal concerned new rules and requirements, separate to those existing for Television Broadcasting Services and On-demand Audiovisual Media Services, for Video Sharing Platform Services, for example YouTube and Dailymotion.

The text of the revised Directive has been adopted by the EU and was officially published on 27 November 2018. Following a 20 day standstill period the revised Directive will enter into force and Ireland will then have 21 months to implement the provisions of the revised Directive. The deadline by which Ireland must implement the provisions is 19 September 2020.

Ireland is committed to ensuring that the provisions of the revised Directive are implemented in Ireland in a robust and effective manner and my Department has been carrying out preparatory work in relation to this matter since late 2017. Given that the final text has now been published, and the challenging legislative timeline involved, as a first step it is intended that a public consultation will commence shortly to gather the views and suggestions of stakeholders on how Ireland should approach the implementation of the provisions of the revised Directive, including the issue of a national regulatory authority in respect of Video Sharing Platform Services.

On the specific question regarding meetings held by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, I have no role in the Authority's day to day operations given that it is a statutorily independent body.

Consultancy Contracts Data

 207. Deputy Sean Sherlock Information on Seán Sherlock Zoom on Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the amount spent on outside consultancy fees to date for advices since the initial announcement of the national broadband plan. [52401/18]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The National Broadband Plan procurement team is supported by a range of expert consultants. The following table sets out annual expenditure on external advisers under the NBP from the date of their engagement. Total cost to date for NBP advisers since 2013 is €22,380,943 (inclusive of VAT).   NBP Payments to Consultants by Year

Year Cost
2013 €323,491.23
2014 €538,541.69
2015 €2,874,888.91
2016 €2,306,365.91
2017 €9,920,423.32
2018 €6,417,232.21
TOTAL €22,380,943.27


  All figures include VAT

Energy Schemes

 208. Deputy James Browne Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his plans to introduce a grant for the installation of stoves; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52466/18]

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Government funds a number of energy efficiency grants for homes which are operated by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.  The grants promote a fabric first approach – advising people to first reduce heat losses by installing insulation and ventilation, making it easier to keep a home warmer and more comfortable for longer periods, before moving to installation of new or renewable heating systems. The individual measures that are currently funded were selected for inclusion as they were deemed most likely to deliver significant energy savings to homeowners, at least relative cost, and would thereby optimise the use of Exchequer funds while at the same time maximising the opportunities for homeowner participation.

I am aware that an increase in the use of stoves for home heating can be a cause of increased air pollution, particularly where such stoves replace cleaner, less air polluting fuels such as gas. Any increase in air pollution is a concern given its public health impacts.

That is why installation of wood burning stoves can only be funded as part of a deeper energy efficiency upgrade – achieving an A3 Building Energy Rating - via the Deep Retrofit Programme or the Better Energy Communities scheme. Stoves installed must meet certain requirements; the specification is available on SEAI’s website.

In addition, the Energy Efficiency Obligation requires all energy suppliers above a certain threshold to work with their customers to deliver energy savings. The replacement of an open fire with a solid fuel, biomass or gas fired room heater can save homeowners money and is an eligible measure under this scheme. Some suppliers offer their customers rebates for replacing open fires in their homes.  If a customer would like to pursue this option they will need to contact their energy supplier directly or they can obtain more information from the SEAI.

Parliamentary Questions Data

 209. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross the number of parliamentary questions his Department has processed in the past three years to date; the number of questions answered directly; the number of questions referred to bodies or agencies under the aegis of his Department for direct reply; the number of staff who are assigned to his parliamentary questions section; and if non-departmental staff, advisers and-or public affairs and relations companies have composed parliamentary question replies or had an act or hand in forming parliamentary question replies in the timeframe specified. [52249/18]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross The information sought by the Deputy is voluminous in nature and will take time to collate. Accordingly, a full reply to this PQ will issue within 10 working days.

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A

  I refer to Parliamentary Question No. 209 for answer on 12 December 2018. The information requested is set out in the following table.

Year Answered Directly* Referred to Agencies
2018 3047 1027
2017 3347 905
2016 1649 490




  * These figures include the PQs that were referred to Agencies also as some would have substantial interim replies.

  There is 1.25 staff members assigned to the Parliamentary Questions Section in my Department.

    Non-Departmental staff, public affairs and relations companies have not composed Parliamentary Question replies or had a hand in forming replies. The Special Advisers to the Minister may of course advise the Minister from time to time in relation to Parliamentary Questions in accordance with their role under section 11 of the Public Service Management Act 1997 which includes assisting the Minister by providing advice to him or her.

Road Network

 210. Deputy Niamh Smyth Information on Niamh Smyth Zoom on Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross if funding will be considered for the extension of the M3 motorway to Cavan town and the east west link which are urgently needed in the north west; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52250/18]

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme.  Under the Roads Acts 1993-2015, the planning, design and construction of individual roads is a matter for the relevant road authority in relation to local and regional roads, or for Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) in conjunction with the local authorities concerned, in relation to national roads.  

The National Development Plan (NDP), which has been developed by Government to underpin the successful implementation of the National Planning Framework, provides the strategic and financial framework for TII's national roads programme for the period 2018 to 2027.

The N3 Virginia Bypass scheme is included amongst a number of major national road schemes that were identified for development during the period of the plan.   In that context, when my Department, in conjunction with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, provides capital funding to TII for the implementation of the NDP, TII's function is to then deliver on an integrated approach to the future development and operation of the national roads network throughout Ireland.   Noting the above position, I have referred the question to TII for a detailed and direct reply.  Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days. 

In relation to the East-West link, proposals to deliver an upgraded East-West route linking Dundalk to Sligo, taking in Cavan, involve linking elements of the national road network and regional roads along as direct a route as possible. Essentially the route involves upgrade/realignment works on the regional routes from Dundalk to Cavan and on national routes from Cavan to Sligo.

As regards the regional road aspect of the proposal the improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads in its area is a statutory function of local authorities in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act, 1993.  Works on such roads are a matter for the relevant local authority to be funded from its own resources supplemented by State road grants.    

My Department provided funding to Cavan County Council (acting as lead authority with Monaghan and Louth County Councils) with over €2m in the period 2007-2014 to progress the regional road element of the project to preliminary design.   

This year I gave an allocation to Cavan County Council to enable the Council to undertake a preliminary appraisal, in line with the current requirements in the Public Spending Code and the Capital Investment Framework, of the Cavan to Dundalk section of the route.  The aim of this appraisal would be to assess the extent to which the scheme or elements of it can be justified in terms of appraisal and advanced for further consideration in relation to schemes for development post 2021.  Preparation of the appraisal is the responsibility of the Council.


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