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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 265-282
 Header Item Freedom of Information
 Header Item Refugee Status
 Header Item Direct Provision System
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Disability Services Provision
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Nursing Staff
 Header Item Hospital Staff
 Header Item Homeless Persons Data
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Respite Care Services
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Hospital Staff
 Header Item Primary Care Centres

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 996 No. 2
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 101 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 265-282

Freedom of Information

 265. Deputy Mairéad Farrell Information on Mairéad  Farrell Zoom on Mairéad  Farrell asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the number of freedom of information requests being processed by her Department; the number that have had the deadline for reply extended; the number at least one week, two weeks, one month and more than one month overdue, respectively; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19355/20]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the following table. Due to the timeframe for processing requests under the FOI Act, there will always be a number of live cases on hand at the end of each month which are carried forward.  This also applies to cases on hand at the end of each year which have to be finalised in the following calendar year.

  2020 (YTD 30/06/2020)
No. FOI requests received 422
No. of requests with time extensions applied 150
It has not been possible to provide the further detail sought by the Deputy at this time. I will arrange to have this information forwarded to the Deputy under separate cover.

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 51

  I refer to Parliamentary Question (Ref No: 265 for written answer on 29 July 2020, where you sought information regarding the handling of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests by my Department.

  While certain information was provided in the answer at the time, further details were not yet available, and I indicated that I would provide these details when they had been compiled. This information is now set out in the following table.

  The data in the appendix refers to 2020. It is important to note that COVID-19 presents particular challenges in respect of the processing of FOI requests. My Department has introduced a range of measures to enable continuity of services and to enable staff continue working safely.

  These measures have included the closure of several of our public facing offices and the introduction of remote working for the majority of staff. These measures have unavoidably had an impact on the Department’s ability to access records and process FOI requests quickly during this period. The Department is conscious of the potential inconvenience that may be caused to some requesters, and endeavours to facilitate requesters wherever possible.

Appendix: FOI Requests received by the Department of Justice and Equality to date in 2020:

  2020 (YTD 30/06/2020)
Volume of Requests and Extensions Applied  
FOI requests received during 2020 or carried over from 2019 422
Time extensions applied to such requests 150
   
Timeliness of Responses  
No. of requests delivered on time 145
No. of requests less than one week overdue 41
No. of requests at least one week overdue 18
No. of requests at least two weeks overdue 15
No. of requests at least one month overdue 4
No. of requests over one month overdue 37

Refugee Status

 266. Deputy Joe O'Brien Information on Joe O'Brien Zoom on Joe O'Brien asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the breakdown of the cost and number of refugees who have arrived here to date through the community sponsorship initiative. [19383/20]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee Community Sponsorship Ireland is a new community based sponsorship programme which invites members of the public to play a key role in the integration of refugees into Irish society. Under the programme, private citizens and community based organisations provide direct support and assistance to refugees settling in their locality through a structured programme of supports. 

  To date, eight refugee families (30 individuals) have arrived in Ireland under the Community Sponsorship Ireland (CSI) initiative and have been warmly received by their host communities. A further nine communities have been approved as Community Sponsorship Groups and are now actively undergoing the required training from their respective Regional Support Organisation. An additional application has been received from a community organisation and is currently awaiting recognition as a Community Sponsorship Group.

  To provide supports for groups wishing to set up a Community Sponsorship Group in their area, funding is being provided for a number of Regional Support Organisations based around the country. I hope that more communities will come forward and support this rewarding initiative, which empowers refugee families and local communities alike.

  In terms of costs, my Department covers the flights, together with grants provided to Regional Support Organisations (RSO).  RSOs have a multi-dimensional role including promotion of the Community Sponsorship programme, being a point of information for local services and support and training for Community Sponsorship Groups.

  To date this year (to end June), the following grants have been provided to RSOs:

Irish Refugee Council: €46,789
NASC: €50,000
Waterford Leader Partnership: €17,000

Direct Provision System

 267. Deputy Jennifer Whitmore Information on Jennifer  Whitmore Zoom on Jennifer  Whitmore asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee if her attention has been drawn to the fact that LocalLink has refused a request to marginally alter its bus route to include direct provision residents in a centre (details supplied); if her Department provides transport provision for these residents; if not, the way in which it is expected that residents can travel to the next town to carry out their daily duties; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19441/20]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee During the school year, the centre to which the Deputy refers runs a daily bus into Wicklow Town for adult education classes (twice daily on Tuesday and Wednesday). The centre also runs a daily bus to Ashford crèche for the afternoon session. 

  In addition the following transport service is available for residents of the accommodation centre:

  - A bus leaves the centre at 11am every Friday and Sunday for church services, returning at 2pm. The bus drops residents to places of worship in Bray and the greater Dublin area, including the Islamic Cultural Centre and the Mosque in Clonskeagh, Dublin 14.

  - Every Sunday, a bus brings residents to Tesco in Greystones. Residents are collected at 7:30am and the bus returns when everyone has finished their shopping. There is an agreement with Tesco to allow all residents into the store at 8am.

  - Every three weeks, a bus brings residents into Wicklow Town for grocery shopping in Aldi and Lidl.

  I am advised that the nearest bus stop to the centre is 2.3km away in Ashford for services from Ashford to Dublin City Centre and Dublin Airport and runs every hour.

  There is also a Local link that operates from Ashford to Nutgrove every Thursday, and from Ashford to Liffey Valley Shopping Centre on the third Thursday of every month. There is also a service from Ashford to Wicklow on the first, third and fifth Thursday of the month.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 268. Deputy Colm Burke Information on Colm Burke Zoom on Colm Burke asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if a Covid-19 testing system will be set up at airports here for persons arriving from countries not on the green list; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19273/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly Close consideration has been given by Government to policy in relation to overseas travel, including to additional measures to be put in place at airports and ports to strengthen existing arrangements.  The HSE is examining introduction of a voluntary rapid test and trace protocol for symptomatic passengers arriving from overseas. 

Disability Services Provision

 269. Deputy Neale Richmond Information on Neale Richmond Zoom on Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if an emergency helpline can be set up for carers of those with physical and intellectual disabilities to receive help in emergency situations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19376/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly The needs of family carers are varied. To address these myriad needs, the HSE has developed a family carer’s support page on its website at https://www.hse.ie/eng/services/list/3/carerssupport/, to assist family carers with the specific challenges they face. Family Carers Ireland, which receives funding from the State, operates a freephone helpline for family carers (1800 24 07 24), operating 9am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 10am to midday on Saturdays. Outside of these hours, the Samaritans provides a service to family carers at 116 123.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 270. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the role his Department has in controls at ports and airports in respect of contacting and monitoring travellers entering Ireland; the reason for the delay in his Department taking over this responsibility from the Department of Justice and Equality.; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20866/20]

 285. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the responsibility of his Department for recording and monitoring passengers entering Ireland; the role his Department plays in relation to the passenger locator form and follow-up calls to passengers; the number and grade of staff allocated for this specific purpose; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19278/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly I propose to take Questions Nos. 270 and 285 together.

  My Department has no role in controls at ports and airports in respect of contacting and monitoring travellers entering Ireland.

  This role is performed by the Department of Justice and Equality: at Dublin airport, by the Border Management Unit and at other points of entry from overseas by the Garda. Follow-up telephone calls with passengers are conducted by the Border Management Unit. 

  It was never envisaged or agreed that my Department would assume or perform responsibilities in relation to follow-up telephone calls being made to arriving passengers.

  While it had been envisaged that the HSE might assume responsibilities for conducting such follow-up telephone calls, the DAA is now taking forward work to establish and operate a call centre to perform this work. It is still envisaged that checks will still be conducted at points of entry in relation to the completion by arriving passengers of the electronic passenger locator form, when this new e-form is introduced in August.  

  The Government is committed to strengthening the existing measures for monitoring passengers who arrive into Ireland given the risks associated with international travel.

Nursing Staff

 271. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly when nurses offered permanent posts in Roscommon University Hospital in 2019 will be formally appointed; the reason for the delay; if an embargo on appointments has been in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19225/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly Saolta University Health Care Group advise that all nurses who were offered permanent contracts in Roscommon University Hospital in 2019 have been appointed. 

Hospital Staff

 272. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the number of staff appointed to each hospital in the Saolta University Health Care Group in the period from March to July 2020; the posts they were appointed to; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19226/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly As this is a service delivery matter, I have referred the question to the HSE for direct reply.

Homeless Persons Data

 273. Deputy Thomas Gould Information on Thomas Gould Zoom on Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if deaths of homeless persons are collated nationally; if so, the body or agency that collates same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19227/20]

 274. Deputy Thomas Gould Information on Thomas Gould Zoom on Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if deaths of homeless persons are collated in County Cork, specifically, by a body or agency similar to the Dublin Region Homeless Executive; and if so, the details of the body or agency. [19228/20]

 275. Deputy Thomas Gould Information on Thomas Gould Zoom on Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the number of homeless persons who have passed away in Cork city in each of the years 2010 to 2019 and to date in 2020, in tabular form. [19229/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Frankie Feighan): Information on Frankie Feighan Zoom on Frankie Feighan I propose to take Questions Nos. 273 to 275, inclusive, together.

The Department of Health does not collect the data requested by the Deputy.

The Department of Health has oversight responsibility for  health policy for people who are homeless.  Responsibility for the provision of health services falls to the HSE, which works to deliver a range of health-related services  and supports to homeless persons and improve access to mainstream health services, as well as providing targeted measures.

The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government’s role in relation to homelessness involves the provision of a national framework of policy, legislation and funding to underpin the role of housing authorities in addressing homelessness at local level.  Statutory responsibility in relation to the provision of accommodation and associated services for homeless persons rests with individual housing authorities.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 276. Deputy Neale Richmond Information on Neale Richmond Zoom on Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if he will consider adding individual nations such as Scotland, Wales or dependencies such as the Isle of Man to the green list in view of the differing infection rates within the United Kingdom and the numerous transport links; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19234/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly A green list of locations with similar epidemiological situations to Ireland’s has been published. The green list will ensure that the appropriate public health measures apply based on the assessed level of risk in the country a person has travelled from. Persons arriving from these locations will not be advised to restrict their movements on arrival into Ireland.

  Decisions on the green list are made by the Government and are informed by ECDC data on epidemiological situations internationally.  

  The green list will be reviewed regularly every 2 weeks. If the epidemiological situation in a country deteriorates it will be removed from the list.

Respite Care Services

 277. Deputy Jackie Cahill Information on Jackie Cahill Zoom on Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly when State respite services are due to recommence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19237/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Anne Rabbitte): Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte 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.

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

Covid-19 Pandemic

 278. Deputy Joe O'Brien Information on Joe O'Brien Zoom on Joe O'Brien asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if consideration has been given to allowing partners to attend scans in maternity hospitals, particularly the first scan at 12 weeks and anomaly scans when they take place; and, if not, if maternity hospitals are being requested to make decisions on a case-by-case basis to allow partners to attend if the mother has had previously upsetting experience, such as a scan ultimately disclosing the loss of a pregnancy. [19246/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly It is of course desirable that the impact of Covid-19 on the pregnancy and birthing experience of women and their families is kept to an absolute minimum.  The National Women & Infants Health Programme has provided assurance that the midwifery and obstetrical community are acutely aware of the important support provided by partners or companions and that they wish to facilitate this as far as possible.

However, in the context of the current public health emergency, each of our 19 maternity units/hospitals are facing significant challenges. Such challenges may vary considerably between units and, indeed, over time as the situation evolves. In that context, and in line with clinical advice issued by the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, an individual unit or hospital may, under certain circumstances, be forced to restrict access of partners to outpatients appointments, maternity wards and delivery theatres. It is important to remember that these restrictions are put in place to minimise the risk of spread of Covid-19 in the community and to protect hospital staff and patients as much as possible.

Decisions on any restrictions in maternity hospitals are made, implemented and reviewed at hospital level and, while very regrettable, are necessary to protect the safety of patients, the wellbeing of staff and the operability of our maternity services. However, I can assure the Deputy that, in the context of what is a rapidly evolving situation, all restrictions will be frequently reviewed and reversed as soon as possible.

With regards to the specific issues raised by the Deputy, I have asked the Health Service Executive to reply to you directly.

Hospital Staff

 279. Deputy Joe O'Brien Information on Joe O'Brien Zoom on Joe O'Brien asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if his attention has been drawn to a shortage of diabetic nurse specialists in Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown; his plans to address the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19248/20]

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

Primary Care Centres

 280. Deputy John Brady Information on John Brady Zoom on John Brady asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the status of the development of a new primary healthcare centre in Greystones, County Wicklow; the stage at which plans are at; the timeframe for completion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19261/20]

 281. Deputy John Brady Information on John Brady Zoom on John Brady asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the status of the development of a new primary healthcare centre in Baltinglass, County Wicklow; the stage at which plans are at; and the timeframe for completion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19262/20]

 282. Deputy John Brady Information on John Brady Zoom on John Brady asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly his plans for the roll-out of additional primary healthcare centres in County Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19263/20]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly I propose to take Questions Nos. 280 to 282, inclusive, together.

  As the HSE has responsibility for the provision, along with the maintenance and operation of Primary Care Centres and other Primary Care facilities, the Executive has been asked to reply directly to the Deputy.


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