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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 100-119
 Header Item Insurance Costs
 Header Item National Children's Hospital Expenditure
 Header Item Irish Language
 Header Item Infrastructure and Capital Investment Programme
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Service Provision
 Header Item Education Grants
 Header Item Pupil-Teacher Ratio
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Irish Language
 Header Item Education Data
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Expenditure
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item School Patronage
 Header Item Departmental Legal Services
 Header Item Gambling Legislation
 Header Item Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 979 No. 6

First Page Previous Page Page of 86 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 100-119

Insurance Costs

 100. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if he will request that insurers agree commitments to reduce prices in line with reforms introduced using a template (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8754/19]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I understand the table which the Deputy is referring to relates to estimates from the Irish Insurance Federation (now Insurance Ireland) of reductions in total claims costs from implementation of the MIAB recommendations made in 2002, and not commitments to decreases in pricing. However the two issues are sufficiently closely connected that I believe there is a need to be careful about requesting such commitments, particularly in the context of competition in the sector, as it may send a signal to other insurers about what pricing levels might be. This is particularly the case in the context of ongoing investigations into the insurance sector by both the European Commission and the CCPC.

It is also important to note that as Minister for Finance, I am responsible for the development of the legal framework governing financial regulation. Neither I nor the Central Bank of Ireland can interfere in the provision or pricing of insurance products, as these matters are of a commercial nature, and are determined by insurance companies based on an assessment of the risks they are willing to accept. This position is reinforced by the EU framework for insurance which expressly prohibits Member States from adopting rules which require insurance companies to obtain prior approval of the pricing or terms and conditions of insurance products.

However, the above said, I would expect that insurers’ pricing for motor premia in general would take account of the measures that have been implemented and are being implemented as a result of the Cost of Insurance Working Group’s (CIWG) recommendations. In particular it is envisaged that the full implementation of all the recommendations taken cumulatively, with the appropriate levels of commitment and cooperation from all relevant stakeholders, can achieve the objectives of delivering fairer premiums for consumers and businesses, and a more stable and competitive insurance market.

I believe that insurers recognise that the implementation of the CIWG recommendations will have a positive impact on pricing. In this regard, I would recall that Justice Nicholas Kearns, the Chairperson of the Personal Injuries Commission, noted in the foreword of the PIC’s second and final report that insurance industry representatives on the PIC repeatedly stated that, as award levels and associated costs account for the bulk of the cost of insurance, if claims costs come down and are maintained at a consistent and predictable level, then premiums will also reduce accordingly.

Finally, I believe it is important to acknowledge that pricing in the motor insurance market has stabilised over the last year, although it is accepted that premiums are still at a high level for many people and that further decreases would be desirable.

National Children's Hospital Expenditure

 101. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the details of all contacts which were made by an office (details supplied) in respect of cost overruns of the national children’s hospital. [8584/19]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe As I stated in the Dáil on the 7th February I met the official to whom the Deputy refers on Tuesday 5th February. At this meeting we discussed his role as a member of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board. I am satisfied that he met all of the responsibilities that he had as a member of the board and that the information regarding the project was being shared by the Board with the Department of Health. I am satisfied that happened.

Irish Language

 102. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the progress made on implementing all aspects of the 20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030 that are relevant to his Department and bodies under his remit; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [8625/19]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe My Department, along with other relevant Departments, is represented on the Oversight Group for the 5 Year Action Plan for the Irish Language, which is chaired by officials from the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

  In terms of the 20 Year Strategy, the Deputy may wish to note that the Public Appointments Service has held specific competitions for Clerical Officer and Executive Officer with fluency in Irish to assist Departments in meeting their requirements in providing a service through Irish. There is currently a panel in place for Clerical Officer Irish. A new competition for Executive Officer Irish will be held in the first half of 2019 in order to establish a new panel.

  The Deputy may also wish to be aware that OneLearning, the Civil Service Learning and Development Centre based in my Department, are responsible for all training that is common across the Civil Service. OneLearning offerings that have been developed in the Irish Language area include two levels of the Certificate in Professional Irish that enable participants to confidently converse and reply to written and spoken enquiries up to Level 5/6 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) awarded by Gaelchultúr.

  More generally, my Department has recently completed a public consultation requesting submissions from interested parties for the purpose of compiling its revised Irish Language Scheme in accordance with the Official Languages Act 2003.

  In relation to bodies under the aegis of my Department, I have been advised of the following.

  The National Shared Services Office (NSSO) is fully committed to providing a bilingual service. The NSSO is dedicated to ensuring that customer service is available in both languages and have agents available in all Shared Services Centres to take calls and respond to emails and letters in Irish. The NSSO customer service phone lines and customer alerts are also bilingual. Both Payroll and HR portals (for customers and internal use) are fully bilingual, with all information and forms available in both languages.

  The Office of Public Works is currently drafting its third Irish Language Scheme in accordance with the Official Languages Act 2003. Under the scheme, the OPW will undertake new commitments in relation to enhancing the use of the Irish language in the organisation. In addition, the OPW will continue to deliver on commitments made in previous schemes.

The Public Appointments Service (PAS) has an Irish Language Scheme in place which sets out its commitments in this regard. As noted already, PAS has held specific competitions for certain grades with fluency in Irish to assist Departments in meeting their requirements in providing a service through Irish.

  The Office of the Ombudsman is an independent statutory Office with responsibility for the examination of complaints about the administrative actions of certain service providers. The Office has no explicit role in the implementation of the various aims and objectives set out in the 20 Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010 to 2030. However, the Office of the Ombudsman has an Irish Language Scheme under the terms of the Official Languages Act 2003 and meets its various obligations under its Scheme.

Infrastructure and Capital Investment Programme

 103. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the additional costs in terms of inflation and other costs that will be incurred as a result of delays to infrastructure projects in view of the overrun in the cost of the national children’s hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8769/19]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Government has not changed the overall capital spending envelope under the NDP. An important rationale for Government to commit to a ten year spending ceiling is, precisely, to mitigate the risk of cost inflation by giving stakeholders a basis for their capacity planning. I would not expect construction cost inflation to change in any meaningful way because an individual project is rescheduled within the existing budgetary envelope.

I might add that the National Development Plan 2018-2027 explicitly points to the need for a healthy, sustainable, competitive and well-functioning construction industry as essential for NDP delivery. I have therefore initiated the Construction Sector Group, as envisaged under the NDP, as a mechanism for engagement with the sector. This will ensure that any strategic capacity bottlenecks, which could accelerate cost inflation, are identified and addressed.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

 104. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh if extra ASD classes in the Dublin 7 area will be provided due to the shortage and high demand for such classes. [8511/19]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh The NCSE is responsible, through its network of Special Needs Organisers, for the development and delivery and co-ordination of education services to children with Special Educational Needs, including the establishment of special class and special school placements.

  Since 2011, the NCSE has increased the number of special classes from 548 in 2011 to 1,459 across the country now, of which 1,196 are ASD special classes.

  There are 37 special schools and 237 special classes attached to mainstream schools in Co. Dublin. Of these, 17 are ASD early intervention classes, 139 are primary ASD classes and 41 are post primary ASD classes. The number of ASD special classes in Co. Dublin have increased from 66 in 2011/2012 to 197 in 2018/2019. Details of all special classes for children with special educational needs are available on www.ncse.ie.

  The NCSE, through its network of Special Needs Organisers, is aware of emerging need from year to year, and where special provision, including special class provision, is required, it is planned and established to meet that need. This process is ongoing.

  The enrolment of a child to a school is a matter, in the first instance, for the parents of the child and the Board of Management of a school.

  Accordingly, the NCSE advises parents, to seek to enrol their child, by applying in writing, to the school/s of their choice as early as possible. Where parents have been unsuccessful in enrolling their child in a school, they should update their local SENO to inform the planning process.

  My Department is aware that the establishment of special class provision in some schools and communities can be challenging.

  Section 8 of the Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018, which commenced Monday 3rd December 2018, will provide me with a power, after a process of consultation with the NCSE, the Board of Management and the patron of the school, to compel a school to make additional provision for the education of children with special educational needs.

  As the Deputy's question relates to a particular area I have arranged for the question to be forwarded to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply.

  My Department will continue to support the NCSE in opening ASD special classes in areas where there is an identified need.

Education Grants

 105. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh the options available to a person (details supplied) in relation to a higher education grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8526/19]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh Under the terms of the student grant scheme, grant assistance is awarded to students who meet the prescribed conditions of funding including those which relate to nationality, residency, previous academic attainment and means.

Article 32 (1) of the Student Grant Scheme 2018 provides for the possibility of a review of eligibility during the academic year where a change of circumstance has occurred. Under this provision, the award of a grant or the level of grant awarded may be re-assessed by the awarding authority in the event of changes of circumstances between 1 January following the reference period and the end of the academic year for a number of reasons as defined in the relevant scheme.

My officials have been advised by SUSI that the student in question applied for a change of circumstances based on repayments regarding a student loan however, under the terms of the scheme, this does not constitute a change of circumstance.

Students in third-level institutions experiencing exceptional financial need can apply for support under the Student Assistance Fund. This Fund assists students, in a sensitive and compassionate manner, who might otherwise be unable to continue their third level studies due to their financial circumstances. Information on the fund is available through the Access Officer in the third level institution attended. This fund is administered on a confidential, discretionary basis.

Students may also qualify for tax relief on fees paid. Details are available on www.revenue.ie.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

 106. Deputy Jack Chambers Information on Jack Chambers Zoom on Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh if his attention has been drawn to the pupil-teacher ratio inequity gaps that exist in classes between junior and senior DEIS schools such as a school (details supplied); the steps he is taking to remove this gap in order that pupils in senior DEIS schools can continue to benefit from the lower pupil-teacher ratio in place in the junior schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [8554/19]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh DEIS – Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools, is my Department’s main policy initiative aimed at tackling educational disadvantage in primary and post primary schools and DEIS Plan 2017, launched in February 2017, sets out the vision for future interventions in the critical area of educational disadvantage policy. It builds on what has already been achieved by schools who have benefited from the additional supports available under the initial DEIS programme introduced in 2005.

All DEIS schools receive a suite of supports with those with the highest levels of disadvantage (DEIS Band 1) benefiting from lower class size. Research shows that reduced class sizes have the most impact in the early primary grades and my Department therefore recommends DEIS Urban Band 1 schools, such as the school referred to by the Deputy, should implement the recommended 20:1 ratio at junior level and 24:1 at senior level.

DEIS Plan 2017 commits to an “Evaluation of the level of teaching resources for schools participating in the SSP to be undertaken within the Monitoring and Evaluation Framework to inform future policy in this area”. My Department has established a Class Size Working Group to determine what the optimum and most effective class size is for those most at risk of educational disadvantage to ensure improved learning outcomes. Membership of the Working Group includes the Education Partners, the Educational Research Centre and the relevant Business Units in the Department.

Schools Building Projects Status

 107. Deputy Thomas Byrne Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh the position regarding the opening of a school (details supplied). [8564/19]

 110. Deputy Thomas Byrne Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh the status of building works at a new school (details suppled); and when the school will open. [8738/19]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh I propose to take Questions Nos. 107 and 110 together.

The Schools Bundle 5 Public Private Partnership (PPP) programme comprises five school buildings, including the school referred to by the Deputy, and one further education college across four sites in Bray, Wexford, Carlow and Kells. Completion of these projects was delayed due to the liquidation of Carillion Construction Ltd in January 2018 and the examinership and subsequent liquidation of Carillion’s sub-contractor, Sammon Contracting Ireland Ltd (SCIL).

A replacement contractor was appointed in June 2018 and three of the six schools, Coláiste Raithín and Ravenswell Primary school in Bray and Loreto Secondary School in Wexford, have achieved service commencement and are now fully operational.

The replacement contractor is now completing the remaining three school buildings in Carlow and Kells. While there has been slippage in relation to the completion dates originally targeted by the replacement contractor, work is progressing on all sites. The PPP company has most recently indicated that they are targeting completion of all remaining buildings by Q2 of this year. However, the PPP company and contractor are currently working to finalise a detailed completion programme, which we expect to receive shortly.

The National Development Finance Agency (NDFA), in consultation with the Department, continues to track progress very closely and to liaise with the PPP company in seeking a realistic and robust completion programme. The Department is also keeping the schools updated.

Monthly unitary charge payments in relation to the buildings which remain to be completed will not be paid by the Department until the buildings are operational.

Irish Language

 108. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh the progress made on implementing all aspects of the 20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030 that are relevant to his Department and bodies under his remit; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [8618/19]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh Following a consultation process, in June 2018, the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht published the 5 year Action Plan for Irish, to provide a more cohesive and coherent framework in support of the 20-Year Strategy’s implementation, focusing on specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-specific actions to be implemented over the next five years to 2022.

  My Department is committed to progressing the aims of the 20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030 and implementing the actions identified in Area for Action 1: Education as set out in the 5 year Action Plan 2018-2022.

  A high level steering group has been established to oversee the implementation of the Action Plan on which the Department of Education and Skills (DES) is represented.

  Key areas of progress to date in the area of Education include:

- Implementation of the actions set out in the Policy on Gaeltacht Education 2017-2022 on a phased basis, including the Gaeltacht School Recognition Scheme.

- Schools participating in the Scheme will continue to receive additional supports and resources on the basis of their ongoing engagement with the terms of the Scheme.

- A 3 year e-hub pilot project is currently being implemented under the Scheme to extend the range of subject options through Irish for students in post-primary schools in the Gaeltacht.

- Contracts for two new Irish-medium teacher education programmes were awarded in order to increase the supply of teachers with the competence to deliver high quality Irish-medium education in schools.

- The DES has provided a package of supports for each of the five post-primary schools located on islands to help address their unique sociolinguistic context.

- A scoping paper is being finalised to plan and support the implementation of a Content Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) pilot project. A steering group will be established to advise and oversee the project.

- A review of Senior Cycle Irish is under way and draft specifications are due to be ready for public consultation in Q4 2019.

- The public consultation on the policy and practice in relation to the granting of exemptions from the study of Irish concluded on the 18th January. Over 11,000 responses were received and these are currently being analysed. The results will inform the revised circulars.

- Assessment guidelines for Junior Cycle Irish have been published.

- Ongoing access to continuing professional development (CPD) for teachers to support the implementation of the Primary Language Curriculum (PLC) is being provided.

- Irish language textbooks are being provided to support the introduction of new curricula.

- Immersion education guides for Gaeltacht primary and post-primary schools have been published.

- The Department increased the funding to support the Gaelbhratach programme at primary and post primary level.

- A new online patronage process system (OPPS) has been developed by the Department which provides objective information and allows parents to express their preferences in relation to the patronage model and language of instruction in respect of the new schools being established.

Education Data

 109. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh if an immigration levy is payable for non-EEA national students with children attending State schools; if so, the amount of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8648/19]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh The immigration regime which applies to non-EEA students seeking to have their children accompany them during their study period in Ireland is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality.

  I can confirm that this Department does not administer an immigration levy for non-EEA students attending state schools.

Question No. 110 answered with Question No. 107.

Schools Building Projects Expenditure

 111. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh if funding has been approved for extensions to schools (details supplied); if so, when work will commence on the projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8751/19]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh The major building project for the first school to which the Deputy refers is included on the 6 Year Programme 2016 – 2021. It was announced on 17th November 2015 to go to tender and construction. This project is at an advanced stage of architectural planning. All statutory approvals have been secured and a report on this stage of the process (stage 2B, detailed design) is expected in the coming weeks. This report will then be reviewed by the Department.   

  At the same time, the Department will shortly be authorising this project to commence the pre-qualification process to select a shortlist of contractors. The school and its design team are currently programming construction to commence in the summer of 2019. My Department will do everything it can to facilitate the achievement of this target date.

  The second project referred to by the Deputy has been devolved for delivery to the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA).

  I can inform the Deputy that the NDFA has started preparations for the appointment of a design team for the project. This appointment will be a key first step in the design and construction stages. While at this early stage it is not possible to provide a timeline for completion of the project, the NDFA will be engaging directly with the school authority to keep it informed of progress.

Schools Building Projects Status

 112. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh if he will on report on planning permission for the new post-primary school in Charlesland, County Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8752/19]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh As the Deputy is aware, in April 2018 my Department announced the opening of 42 new schools and this announcement included a new 800 pupil post primary school to serve Kilcoole & Greystones school planning areas as a regional solution.

  My Department is currently examining potential site options and discussions with the landowner in respect of a potential site acquisition are currently ongoing. Due to commercial sensitivities relating to site acquisitions generally I am not in a position to provide further details at this time.

  Once a suitable site has been acquired my Department will be in a position to progress the project concerned into the architectural planning process.

School Patronage

 113. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh the details of patronage of the new post-primary school in Charlesland, County Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8753/19]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh As the Deputy will be aware, in April 2018, the Government announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022), including a new 800 pupil post-primary school (to be established in 2021) to serve the Kilcoole & Greystones school planning areas as a regional solution. This announcement follows nationwide, demographic exercises carried out by my Department into the future need for primary and post-primary schools across the country and the 4-year horizon will enable increased lead-in times for planning and delivery of the necessary infrastructure.

A patronage process is run after it has been decided, based on demographic analysis, that a new school is required. This patronage process is open to all patron bodies and prospective patrons. Parental preferences for each patron, from parents of children who reside in the school planning areas concerned, together with the extent of diversity currently available in these areas, are key to decisions in relation to the outcome of this process.

The patronage process for new schools is overseen by an external independent advisory group, the New Schools Establishment Group (NSEG). Following their consideration of my Department’s assessment reports, the NSEG submits a report with recommendations to me for consideration and final decision. The assessment reports and the NSEG recommendations for all such patronage processes are made available on my Department's website.

An Online Patronage Process System (OPPS) has been developed by my Department to provide objective information to all parents which will allow them to make an informed choice about their preferred model of patronage for their child’s education. Parental preferences were previously collected based on direct engagement with patron bodies.

The patronage process for 12 primary schools to be established in 2019 is nearing completion. The patronage process for the remaining schools, including the school referred to by the Deputy, will also be run at a later date, significantly ahead of their due opening. Updates in relation to further patronage processes will be announced on the OPPS website and the Department’s website (www.education.ie).

Departmental Legal Services

 114. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan if he will address matters (details supplied) in relation to the services directive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8567/19]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan In the interests of transparency, I wish to point out that the matter raised by the Deputy relates to the regulation of advertising of legal services by legal practitioners in the State and a possible breach of Article 24 of the EU Services Directive. Formal Notice to that effect was issued to the Government by the European Commission in November 2013 drawing attention to "a potential breach of Article 24" of that Directive. This also sought the Government's observations, including by reference to the on-going development of what was then the Legal Services Regulation Bill of 2011. As public documents, the 2013 Notice of a potential breach and the related Reasoned Opinion issued by the European Commission on 24 January 2019 are matters of public record. While the main focus of these documents is on certain aspects of the current regulations that apply to advertising under the Solicitors' Acts 1954-2015, they also reflect my Department's earnest engagement with the Commission since 2012 in seeking to address these matters as part of the Government's structural reform of our legal services sector.

As the Deputy will recall, the 2011 Bill has since been enacted in the form of the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015. The basis of a legislative solution to a potential breach of the Services Directive in this instance is now provided under section 218 of that Act, the terms of which were completed in consultation with the European Commission. In its Reasoned Opinion of 24 January 2019 the Commission remains of the opinion that section 218 of the 2015 Act "is in compliance with EU law, in particular Article 24 of Directive 2006/123/EC." Under section 218 the Legal Services Regulatory Authority, which was duly established on 1 October 2016, will have responsibility for the regulation of advertising by both solicitors and barristers - thereby replacing the professional bodies who have historically exercised that function. Under section 218 the Regulatory Authority may make regulations in this area "including in relation to the information that may be contained in advertisements published or caused to be published by legal practitioners in relation to legal services they provide and any areas of law to which those services relate". In the making of these regulations the Authority must consult with the legal professional bodies and other interested parties as considered appropriate.

However, it should also be recalled that, to date, the Legal Services Regulatory Authority has been heavily engaged in meeting its initial statutory consultation and reporting obligations, the building-up of its staffing and other working capacities and the on-going roll-out of its statutory functions under its Strategic Plan 2018-2020. This is set to include the introduction of Legal Partnerships and of Limited Liability Partnerships in Quarter One of this year and the coming into operation of a new public complaints regime to deal with allegations of misconduct by legal practitioners which will be supported by the establishment of an independent Legal Practitioners' Disciplinary Tribunal at the end of Quarter Two of 2019.

Under the terms of the Reasoned Opinion of 24 January 2019, the European Commission has invited Ireland to take the necessary measures to comply with it within two months of its receipt. My Department is, therefore, working closely with the Legal Services Regulatory Authority in order to meet the Commission's request building on the previously negotiated legislative solution that is offered by section 218 of the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015 and in further detailed consultation with the European Commission, the legal professional bodies and other stakeholders concerned. This will include my commencement, as Minister, of section 218 of the 2015 Act and the completion and issue of the relevant advertising regulations by the Legal Services Regulatory Authority as appropriate to ensure full compliance with our obligations under Article 24 of the Services Directive.

Gambling Legislation

 115. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the reason the 2014 EU consumer protection guidelines for online gambling have not been implemented in view of a recent study carried out by a person (details supplied). [8545/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): Information on David Stanton Zoom on David Stanton The Deputy will be aware that the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation has policy responsibility for general consumer protection legislation, while the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has overall responsibility for the enforcement of general consumer protection legislation.

The 2013 General Scheme of the Gambling Control Bill contained a number of provisions relating to the protection of consumers of gambling services. Officials involved in the preparation of the General Scheme also had an input into the 2014 guidelines produced by the European Commission, through participation on the Commission's Expert Group on Gambling Services. A sizeable component of the guidelines are reflected in the 2013 Scheme's provisions.

In the Report referred to by the Deputy, implementation of these voluntary guidelines has generally occurred in jurisdictions where there is a dedicated regulatory authority for gambling. Ireland does not currently have a dedicated regulatory authority for gambling.

However, I am pleased to inform the Deputy that an Inter-Departmental Working Group on Gambling was established as a result of the Government Decision of 10 January 2018 to review the 2013 General Scheme of the Gambling Control Bill and all relevant developments since. The Group was also tasked with developing proposals for the establishment of a gambling regulatory authority.

I chaired this Group, comprising all stakeholder Departments and the Office of the Attorney General which met on six occasions between February 2018 and January 2019. I was very much concerned that the Group should review measures to increase the protection of those persons who consume gambling products. This included the 2014 European Commission Guidelines, the provisions of the 2013 General Scheme and any other relevant matters arising since. My intention is that the establishment of a gambling regulatory authority will introduce an improved licensing and compliance regime and a regulatory environment that can ensure fairness and transparency for persons engaged in gambling. Such measures can also assist in the greater protection of persons vulnerable to addiction.

The Group's Report is currently being finalised and I hope to bring it to Government for consideration as soon as possible.

Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal

 116. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan if consideration has been given to carrying out a survey of victims of crime who engage with the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal with a view to ascertaining if those who engage experience a process of secondary victimisation or trauma due to the set-up of the system.  [8586/19]

 117. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan if all staff of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal receive specialist training in dealing with victims of crime; and if not, the reason therefor. [8587/19]

 118. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the steps he is taking to clear the backlog of cases that has built up in the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal. [8588/19]

 119. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the rationale for granting the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal a fixed budget of €4 million per year in view of the fact that this sum is perceived as insufficient to cover the quantum of annual payouts by the body. [8589/19]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I propose to take Questions Nos. 116 to 119, inclusive, together.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal administers the Scheme of Compensation for Personal Injuries Criminally Inflicted. Under the Terms of the Scheme, the Tribunal is entirely independent in the matter of individual decisions on applications for compensation.

The Deputy will appreciate that the level of resources allocated for the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal, as for any area of the Justice Vote, must be determined having regard to the overall budgetary context and the many demands for funding within the sector. Nevertheless, I can inform the Deputy that I have maintained the current level of funding of €4 million for a number of years, and again into 2019. Moreover, an increased allocation of some €2.4m was provided as part of a Supplementary Estimate for the Vote in 2018.

Applications to the Tribunal are processed with a minimum of formality compared to court proceedings where compensation is sought under the Civil Liability Acts. However, in making their decisions Tribunal Members must be satisfied that all supporting documentation has been provided and is in order, for example, Garda reports arising from criminal investigations and medical reports. The absence of such information can sometimes lead to delays in bringing cases to finalisation.

Tribunal members, who are practising barristers and practising solicitors in the Courts system, provide their services on a part time basis to the Tribunal. I have ensured that a full Tribunal membership has been maintained in order to continue to address claims as promptly as possible. The term of office for all Ordinary members has been extended to June 2019 pending the completion of a recruitment process for new members.

The Department's Customer Service Action Plan and Culture and Values Charter commits the Department to delivering public services to a high standard. I can assure the Deputy that staff in my Department receive appropriate training as required on an ongoing basis and as identified through the performance management process. All new members of staff attend a half-day induction programme which covers their responsibilities under the Civil Service Code of Standards and Behaviours, including dealing with the public. Specific training courses are organised from time to time in response to identified needs. For example, this month the staff of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal received resilience and stress management training due to the particular nature of their work. Suicide awareness training has also been made available recently to staff dealing with members of the public. I have asked my officials to identify if there are any further training needs specific to the Tribunal staff that need to be addressed.

The Deputy may also be aware that I have requested an assessment of the caseload of the Tribunal and have asked my officials to examine this assessment and to obtain the views of the Tribunal in this regard. Furthermore, in view of the length of time since the Scheme was last revised, my Department has submitted a request for a review of the Scheme to the Law Reform Commission (LRC) for consideration in the context of its Programme of Law Reform. I expect that this review should cover all aspects of the scheme including training of staff and the nature of the Tribunal's interactions with applicants.

More broadly it is the case that victims of crime not only in this jurisdiction but elsewhere can report dealing with the criminal justice system to be an intimidating and sometimes negative experience which can result in secondary or repeat victimisation. This is an issue which the Government is cognisant of - particularly in light of our obligations under the EU Victims Directive - and has been tackling in a comprehensive and concerted way to make it a much more victim-oriented and responsive process.


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