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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 426-445
 Header Item Hospitals Funding
 Header Item Hospitals Funding
 Header Item Disability Services Provision
 Header Item Cancer Screening Programmes
 Header Item Disability Services Provision
 Header Item Disability Services Provision
 Header Item Brexit Issues
 Header Item Brexit Preparations
 Header Item Suckler Welfare Scheme
 Header Item Beef Industry
 Header Item Animal Identification Schemes
 Header Item Tuberculosis Incidence
 Header Item Meat Processing Plant Inspections
 Header Item Beef Data and Genomics Programme

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 980 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 82 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 426-445

Hospitals Funding

 426. Deputy Eamon Scanlon Information on Eamon Scanlon Zoom on Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the status of the allocation of funding for the upgrade of the central sterile services department at Sligo University Hospital for which planning permission is approved; the expected timeframe for the completion of the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9658/19]

 427. Deputy Eamon Scanlon Information on Eamon Scanlon Zoom on Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the status of the allocation of funding for additional medical beds at Sligo University Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9659/19]

 428. Deputy Eamon Scanlon Information on Eamon Scanlon Zoom on Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the status of the allocation of funding required to commence building of the diabetes day unit at Sligo University Hospital; the original timeframe for the completion of the project; the current timeframe for the completion of the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9660/19]

 429. Deputy Eamon Scanlon Information on Eamon Scanlon Zoom on Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris when funding will be approved to progress with phase 2 of the interventional radiology suite at Sligo University Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9661/19]

 430. Deputy Eamon Scanlon Information on Eamon Scanlon Zoom on Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris when funding will be approved to progress with stage 2b works on the emergency department and surgical block at Sligo University Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9663/19]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris I propose to take Questions Nos. 426 to 430, inclusive, together.

  My Department and the Health Service Executive are currently engaged in a process to finalise the HSE Capital Plan for 2019. The HSE Capital Plan will determine the projects that can progress in 2019 and beyond having regard to the total available capital funding and the relevant priority of each project. All Health capital projects, currently at various stages of development, such as those in Sligo, are included as part of this process.

  Once the HSE has finalised its Capital Plan for 2019, it will then be submitted to me for consideration.

  As the Health Service Executive is responsible for the delivery of healthcare infrastructure projects, I have asked the HSE to reply to you directly and outline the current status of the projects at Sligo University Hospital.

Hospitals Funding

 431. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the position in relation to provision of funding for phases 2 and 3 of the paediatric department of Cork University Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9668/19]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris As the Health Service Executive is responsible for the delivery of healthcare infrastructure projects, I have asked the HSE to respond to you directly in relation to this matter.

Disability Services Provision

 432. Deputy Sean Sherlock Information on Seán Sherlock Zoom on Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris if the case of a person (details supplied) is being expedited. [9671/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Finian McGrath): Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath The Government is committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will empower them to live independent lives, provide greater independence in accessing the services they choose, and enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their lives.

This commitment is outlined in the Programme for Partnership Government, which is guided by two principles: equality of opportunity and improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.

As the Deputy's question relates to an individual case, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply to the Deputy.

Question No. 433 answered with Question No. 309.

Cancer Screening Programmes

 434. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris when the second report into the CervicalCheck scandal will be published which was dealing with full contractual and quality control issues in relation the laboratories used by CervicalCheck; the reason it has been delayed; if the terms of reference provided to a person (details supplied) for this work will be published; when these terms of reference were provided to the person; if the person expressed concerns regarding this work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9685/19]

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Following the publication of the Report of the Scoping Inquiry into the CervicalCheck Screening Programme on 12 September, Dr Gabriel Scally committed to providing a supplementary report into certain further aspects of the laboratories, such as procurement, quality and accreditation arrangements, and governance structures.

  I wrote to Dr Scally outlining the Terms of Reference for his supplementary report on 25 October and the Terms of Reference were published on my Department's website on 26 October. They can be found at the following link:

  https://health.gov.ie/scoping-inquiry-into-the-cervicalcheck-screening-programme/.

  Dr Scally has advised me that the breadth and complexity of the issues involved in the supplementary report require further time for analysis. Dr Scally has also advised that he has found no reason to revise the view taken in his earlier report, that as far as can be ascertained, all the current laboratories have performance which is acceptable in their country.

Disability Services Provision

 435. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris further to Parliamentary Question No. 447 of 29 January 2019, if the attention of the HSE has been drawn to certain matters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9626/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Finian McGrath): Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath The Government is committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will empower them to live independent lives, provide greater independence in accessing the services they choose, and enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their lives.

This commitment is outlined in the Programme for Partnership Government, which is guided by two principles: equality of opportunity and improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.

As the Deputy's question relates to an individual case, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply to the Deputy.

Disability Services Provision

 436. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Health Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris the reason a person (details supplied) has not been provided with an appropriate care package to allow them to be discharged from hospital; and the steps he will take with the HSE to ensure the person receives homecare [9749/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Finian McGrath): Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath The Government is committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will empower them to live independent lives, provide greater independence in accessing the services they choose, and enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their lives.

This commitment is outlined in the Programme for Partnership Government, which is guided by two principles: equality of opportunity and improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.

As the Deputy's question relates to a service issue, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply to the Deputy.

Brexit Issues

 437. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed if his attention has been drawn to the recent comments made by the UK Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in relation to the impact that tariffs will have on the UK agrifood industry and on the cost and availability of food in shops there; the discussions he has had with EU counterparts in relation to the impact WTO tariffs will have on exports to the UK if a hard Brexit occurs; and if a special fund will be made available to prepare farmers and industry for same. [9377/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed I am aware of recent comments by Secretary of State Gove in relation to tariffs. As part of Brexit planning, my Department has already carried out a detailed analysis of the implications for Irish agri-food exports in a worst-case scenario whereby the UK applies the EU’s existing tariff schedule on imports. This analysis found that the estimated cost of potential tariffs for the sector as a whole is €1.7 billion, based on Irish agri-food exports to the United Kingdom of €4.8 billion in 2016. The decision as to how and when the UK might impose tariffs on imports from the EU in the event of a no-deal Brexit is a sovereign matter for the UK Government.

I have been working very hard for some time to sensitise other Member States and the European Commission to the potentially very severe impacts of Brexit on the Irish agri-food and fisheries sectors, and to the likelihood of specific supports being required in order to deal with these impacts. The institutions of the European Union are very well aware of the likelihood of a significant impact of a no deal Brexit on Ireland’s economy because this has been part of the discussion from the beginning, and indeed this is explicitly recognised in the Commission’s own communication on contingency planning.

Most recently, I had a bilateral meeting with Commissioners Hogan and Vella to discuss the potential impact of a no deal Brexit on the Irish agri-food and fisheries sectors. We discussed the unique exposure of these sectors to the threat and the challenges that it could present. I stressed the need to be ready to deploy measures to mitigate the potential impacts on farmers and processors, including through:

- traditional market supports and exceptional aid under the CAP's Single Common Market Organisation regulation

- increased flexibility under State Aid regulations

- a common approach from the Commission with Member States for the support of the fisheries sector.

My officials are in ongoing contact with the Commission and other Member States on these issues as the situation evolves.

Brexit Preparations

 438. Deputy Brian Stanley Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed his plans to put a proposal to the EU Commission regarding a package of market supports for beef farmers who are experiencing particular difficulties at present due to the fluctuation in sterling and the uncertainty caused by Brexit.  [9010/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The agri-food sector is of critical importance to the Irish economy, and its regional spread means it underpins the socio-economic development of rural areas in particular. Brexit, depending on the outcome, has the potential to have a very significant impact on farmers and on the agri-food sector.

There are on-going discussions with the Commission regarding the difficulties facing Ireland, and the assistance that might be required for its agriculture, food and fishery sectors.

I and my officials have been working very hard for quite some time to sensitise other Member States and the European Commission to the potentially very severe impacts of Brexit on the Irish agri-food and fisheries sectors, and to the likelihood of specific supports being required in order to deal with these impacts. The institutions of the European Union are very well aware of the likelihood of a significant impact of a disorderly Brexit on Ireland’s economy because this has been part of the discussion from the beginning, and indeed this is explicitly recognised in the Commission’s own communication on contingency planning.

Most recently, I held a bilateral meeting with Commissioner Hogan to discuss the potential impact of a disorderly Brexit on the Irish agri-food and fisheries sectors. We discussed the unique exposure of these sectors to the threat of a disorderly Brexit, and the challenges that it could present. I stressed the need to be ready to deploy a range of measures to mitigate the potential impacts on farmers and processors, including through traditional market supports and exceptional aid under the CAP's Single Common Market Organisation regulation, and increased flexibility under State Aid regulations. Commissioner Hogan reiterated the EU’s readiness to respond and support Ireland, and we will remain in contact on these issues as the situation evolves.

Suckler Welfare Scheme

 439. Deputy Brian Stanley Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed his plans to amend the supports in relation to the suckler cow scheme to help alleviate the weakness in the sector. [9011/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The Beef Sector is an important element of the Irish rural economy and I am conscious of the importance that this key sector plays in rural Ireland. To this effect, I recently launched the Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot (BEEP) a targeted support of €20 million for suckler farmers specifically aimed at further improving the economic and environmental efficiency of beef production. As well as clear environmental and climate benefits, the BEEP will provide farm gate investment at a time of market volatility and uncertainty relating to Brexit. The pilot has been designed to be as straightforward as possible.

Additionally, the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) is currently the main support specifically targeted for the suckler sector, which provides Irish beef farmers with some €300 million in funding over the current Rural Development Programme (RDP) period. This scheme is an agri-environmental measure to improve the environmental sustainability of the national suckler herd by increasing genetic merit within the herd. Also, it should be noted an additional €23 million was secured for the ANC scheme in 2019.

I am, however, very conscious that the beef sector is currently facing a difficult period. I am deeply committed to fully supporting and developing Ireland’s beef sector. I am strongly of the view that the existing range of supports available to suckler farmers, together with ensuring access to as many markets as possible, both for live animals and beef exports, are appropriate for the continued development of the sector. According to National Farm Survey data, suckler farmers receive support equivalent to approximately €500 per suckler cow on average.

I will continue to argue for as strong a CAP budget as possible, post-2020. In particular, I am committed to ensuring that suckler farmers continue to receive strong support in the next CAP. My view is that such payments should support and encourage suckler farmers to make the best decisions possible to improve the profitability, and the economic and environmental efficiency, of their farming system. The Beef Environmental Efficiency Pilot is a positive step in that direction.

One of the unique strengths of the agri-food sector has been the shared vision for the sustainable development of the sector in Food Wise 2025. It is crucial that we all continue to work together. At the last Beef Round table, I highlighted the need for stakeholders to recognise their inter-dependency and to support the sector through examination of mechanisms to add value along the supply chain and increase the strength of all links in the supply chain, including Beef Producer Organisations.

Officials in my Department are currently engaging extensively with stakeholders in relation to Beef Producer Organisations, which have the potential to help strengthen the position of the primary producer in the supply chain.

Beef Industry

 440. Deputy Brian Stanley Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed if he held or plans to hold discussions with the beef processing industry to raise with it the problems farmers are experiencing within the sector. [9012/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed My officials and I meet the various stakeholders from across the entire beef sector, including the processing sector, on a regular basis. These meetings are a constructive way to facilitate detailed discussions around issues facing the sector.

  I can confirm that matters raised by the Deputy have been discussed recently at such meetings.

Animal Identification Schemes

 441. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice Information on Michael Fitzmaurice Zoom on Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the definition of a suckler beef cow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9024/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The Department's Animal Identification Movement system which collects and collates information on animal movements in the Irish State, defines a suckler beef cow, as a beef cow who has calved at least once in their lifetime by the end of December each calendar year.

  There were 951,397 suckler cows registered on the Department's AIM system at the end of December 2018.

Tuberculosis Incidence

 442. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice Information on Michael Fitzmaurice Zoom on Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the number of herds restricted due to TB; the number of restricted herds that took in cattle between the date of their last clear test and the date on which they were initially restricted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9025/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed 1808 herds are currently restricted due to TB; 1367 of these herds had inward movement of cattle into the herd between the date of their last clear test and the date on which they were subsequently restricted.

While the levels of bovine TB in Ireland in the past few years are at historic lows, progress has stalled and the herd incidence of TB in 2018 (3.51%) was marginally up on the level in 2017 (3.47%). The need to renew our TB eradication strategy is the reason I put in place the TB Forum, so that stakeholders can be involved in deciding which additional measures to recommend which will help eradicate TB. The Forum has held a number of meetings since last September and I understand its work is nearing completion in the coming period. It is my intention that a renewed TB eradication strategy which takes into account the recommendations of the Forum will enjoy the support of stakeholders and make a real difference to Irish farmers by reducing the levels of bovine TB.

Meat Processing Plant Inspections

 443. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice Information on Michael Fitzmaurice Zoom on Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 200 to 202 of 7 February 2019, when a mechanical grading machine is found to be out of sync, the person or body that carries out the service on the machine before a subsequent classification check can be carried out by officials from his Department; the adjustments or corrections made and taken; the location in which they are recorded in order to document the root cause of the issue which led to the machine falling out of sync; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [9026/19]

 444. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice Information on Michael Fitzmaurice Zoom on Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed the service audit trail that exists to ensure that adjustments made to mechanical grading machines to bring them back within EU defined tolerances are not intentionally or accidentally changed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9027/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed I propose to take Questions Nos. 443 and 444 together.

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/1184 of 20 April 2017 governs the monitoring of carcass classification, carcass presentation and weighing.

  Inspections carried out by my Department identify when the grading machines are operating outside of tolerance.   Machine servicing is part of the factories' standard operating procedures.

  The servicing of a mechanical classification machine is a matter between the factories who own the machines and the company that carries out the service.

Beef Data and Genomics Programme

 445. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice Information on Michael Fitzmaurice Zoom on Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed further to Parliamentary Question No. 495 of 5 February 2019, the number of herds in receipt of the beef data and genomics programme payments that have more than one animal registered in their herd that is not identified as a beef breed as defined by the scheme guidelines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9028/19]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The Terms and Conditions(T&Cs) of the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) defines eligible suckler cows, inter alia, as being of a beef breed or sired by a beef breed, is not a cow used to supply milk commercially, is part of a herd intended for rearing calves for meat production and rears a calf by suckling. Eligible calves must be born out of an eligible suckler cow and sired by a beef breed bull.

On the 31st December 2018, of the 24,544 farmers currently participating in BDGP, 3,312 had more than one animal on their holding that does not identify as a beef breed as defined by the BDGP T&Cs.


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