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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 384-400
 Header Item Mental Health Services
 Header Item Data Protection
 Header Item Agriculture Schemes
 Header Item Aquaculture Regulation
 Header Item Aquaculture Regulation
 Header Item Aquaculture Regulation
 Header Item Horticulture Sector
 Header Item Horticulture Sector
 Header Item Forestry Sector
 Header Item Forestry Management
 Header Item Pigmeat Sector
 Header Item Live Exports
 Header Item Live Exports
 Header Item Animal Diseases
 Header Item Data Protection
 Header Item Town and Village Renewal Scheme

Thursday, 3 December 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1002 No. 1
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 83 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 384-400

Mental Health Services

 384. Deputy Cathal Berry Information on Cathal  Berry Zoom on Cathal  Berry asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the number of patients awaiting all other outpatient psychiatric appointments when compared to this time in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41070/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Mary Butler): Information on Mary Butler Zoom on Mary Butler As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Data Protection

 385. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue if his Department has been the subject of an investigation by the Data Protection Commission from 2016 to date; the number of specific investigations underway or completed; the dates on which his Department was first notified of the investigation; the details of the investigation; the nature of the complaints; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40804/20]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue The Data Protection Commission (DPC) has contacted my Department eight times since 2016 and sought clarification regarding Data Protection cases raised by individual DAFM clients. Two of these contacts were notified as formal investigations (one in 2016 and one in 2018). The other contacts were requests for information and/or clarifications on cases. The nature of these cases raised has been in the areas of individual data breaches, the provision of personal data following subject access requests and the lawful processing of personal data.

My Department remains committed to its Data Protection obligations and has fully cooperated with the DPC in a prompt and open manner in respect of all queries raised. My Department has four cases opened in 2020 which remain active with the DPC and the remaining four cases (that originated since 2016) are closed, with no further action required by my Department.

Agriculture Schemes

 386. Deputy Michael McNamara Information on Michael McNamara Zoom on Michael McNamara asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue if an exemption will be made for a person (details supplied) in County Clare who missed the closing date for the beef finisher payment scheme which had a very short window for application and given the stresses and strains on farmers due to Covid-19 pandemic; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40830/20]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue The Beef Finisher Payment (BFP) scheme is a one off, exchequer funded grant aid scheme under the Covid 19 State Aid Temporary Framework. The objective of the BFP has been to provide support for beef finishing farms in Ireland which have been severely impacted by the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The scheme was open to all beef farmers who presented animals for slaughter in the period 1st February 2020 to 12th June 2020 inclusive and fulfil the requirements set out in the Terms and Conditions of the scheme.

The application system was available from the 20th August and closed on 9th September. The application process was very simple and straightforward with my Department introducing flexibility to facilitate farmers making their applications. The scheme was well publicised in the agri-media with my Department posting advertisements in local and national print and digital media. In addition, there has been an ongoing targeted SMS text campaign to farmers such as the person named who were otherwise eligible for a payment but who had not applied.

My Department has no record of any correspondence from the person named setting out particular grounds of appeal in relation to a late application. Should such details be submitted, my officials will examine the case outlined.

Payments under the BFP totalling €46.6M issued to some 27,192 applicants in November of this year.

Aquaculture Regulation

 387. Deputy Noel Grealish Information on Noel Grealish Zoom on Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue if his Department is correct in stating that the 1.65 million wild wrasse recorded as taken from Irish waters to eat the lice on Ireland’s salmon farms between May 2015 and November 2019 are culled after use, that this culling is supervised, the moralities transported and rendered and so recorded as the producer (details supplied) has stated that the surviving wrasse are released into the wild; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40840/20]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue The use of wrasse on salmon farms is regulated under the provisions of EU Directive 2006/88 on animal health requirements for aquaculture animals and products thereof, and on the prevention and control of certain diseases in aquatic animals. Statutory Instrument 261 of 2008 – European Communities (Health of Aquaculture Animals and Products) Regulations 2008 gives effect to the EU Directive at a national level. The Marine Institute is the Competent Authority for the implementation of this legislation.

I am advised by the Marine Institute that wrasse fish are culled at the end of the salmon production cycle. This prevents the possible spread of pathogens that the cleaner fish may have potentially been exposed to whilst cohabiting with the salmon, into the environment.

The culling of cleaner fish is not generally supervised by the Marine Institute. The supervision of the culling process by the Marine Institute occurs only in circumstances where such culling is required to control the spread of a notifiable disease listed in Annex IV Part II of Council Directive 2006/88/EC or a suspected emerging disease.

Fish mortalities including culled cleaner fish are routinely transported to an approved rendering plant in accordance with Animal By-Products Regulations. Records of the disposal of fish are inspected annually by my Department’s veterinary inspectors in accordance with Animal By-Products Regulations.

Aquaculture Regulation

 388. Deputy Noel Grealish Information on Noel Grealish Zoom on Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue if it is the position of his Department that the recorded removal of over 1.65 million wrasse between May 2015 and November 2019 to eat the lice on Ireland’s salmon farms will have no direct or indirect effect on any marine ecosystem including those protected species and habitats under the Habitats Directive, Birds Directive and any other relevant European directives; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40841/20]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue Responsibilty for the designation of protected habitats and species and for reporting on their status rests with my colleague the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage. Wild caught wrasse are widely used in Irish salmon farms as cleaner fish. Ireland is not alone in this and this practice is commonly used internationally.

The ecological risk, associated with fishing in Special Areas of Conservation, for designated habitats and species, is set out in a Risk Assessment Report prepared by the Marine Institute to assist in the management of sea-fisheries in compliance with Article 6 of the Habitats Directive. Recently, the Marine Institute has advised my Department that a programme of data collection of numbers of wrasse of different species being caught, location of capture and associated fishing effort should be developed in order to support ongoing monitoring and further iterations of the risk assessment.

I understand that the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority is taking steps to introduce logbooks for fishers involved and my Department will engage with the salmon farming industry to ensure that information required to support ongoing assessment of wrasse fishing will be forthcoming.

Aquaculture Regulation

 389. Deputy Noel Grealish Information on Noel Grealish Zoom on Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the actions the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority has taken to stop salmon farmers illegally buying wild wrasse without the required first buyer's licences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40842/20]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue Under the Sea Fisheries and Maritime Jurisdiction Act, 2006, all operational issues of this nature concerning law enforcement of sea fisheries law are, as a matter of Statute, exclusively for the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA). I am expressly precluded from getting involved in operational law enforcement matters such as this.

I have referred the Deputy's request to the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority for attention and direct reply.

Horticulture Sector

 390. Deputy Michael Moynihan Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the grant assistance is available for purchasing equipment for the processing of potatoes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40912/20]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue My Department provides a range of supports to the horticulture and field vegetable sector through the Scheme of Investment Aid for the Development of the Commercial Horticulture Sector. However, this scheme does not include the purchase of equipment for the processing of potatoes.

Horticulture Sector

 391. Deputy Michael Moynihan Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue if there is grant assistance available for equipment for washing potatoes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40913/20]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue My Department provides a range of supports to the horticulture and field vegetable sector through the Scheme of Investment Aid for the Development of the Commercial Horticulture Sector. However, this scheme does not include the purchase of equipment for the washing of potatoes.

Forestry Sector

 392. 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 Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the status of a felling licence application by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40926/20]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue A tree felling licence application was received by my Department, from the person named in November 2019.

Every application for a forestry licence must be carefully assessed to ensure that any potential effects that the proposed operations may have on the surrounding countryside and environment are considered. For this reason, the application has been referred to my Department’s Ecology Unit.

As you may be aware, there is a backlog of licence applications that require an Appropriate Assessment (AA). My Department has put in place a detailed project plan and considerable logistics for dealing with this backlog which includes recruitment of additional ecologists, forestry inspectors and administrative staff where required.

Submitting a Natura Impact Statement (NIS) for this licence would significantly reduce the length of time it would take for the Department to complete the AA process for this application. The NIS must be prepared by a suitably qualified person at the applicant’s own expense.

On receipt of a satisfactory NIS, the length of time it would take to complete the appropriate process is estimated to be between two and three months.

Forestry Management

 393. Deputy Richard O'Donoghue Information on Richard O'Donoghue Zoom on Richard O'Donoghue asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the details of commercial use of the Ballyhoura Mountains, County Limerick; his views on protecting recreational status in this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40930/20]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue Coillte CGA was established as a private commercial company under the Forestry Act, 1988 and day-to-day operational matters, such as the management of their forest estate, are the responsibility of the company.

  I have therefore passed the questions raised to Coillte for response and direct reply to the Deputy with 10 days.

Pigmeat Sector

 394. Deputy Brian Leddin Information on Brian Leddin Zoom on Brian Leddin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue the position regarding his Department’s programme of inspections with the aim of progressing compliance towards rearing pigs with intact tails; the number of pig farms that have been inspected as part of the inspection programme; the level of compliance inspectors have found; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40931/20]

 396. Deputy Brian Leddin Information on Brian Leddin Zoom on Brian Leddin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue if his attention has been drawn to a letter sent to his Department in May 2020 by the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety; his views on the Commissioner’s identification of routine tail-docking of pigs as Ireland’s main area of animal welfare non-compliance; if the Commissioner plans to take decisive legal action against Ireland unless this systemic non-compliance is addressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40933/20]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue I propose to take Questions Nos. 394 and 396 together.

My Department is fully committed to ensuring compliance with the legal requirements as set out in Council Directives 98/58/EC and 2008/120/EC and Commission Recommendation 2016/336 on measures to ensure the rearing of pigs with intact tails.

My Department has communicated with all stakeholders on the details of the Commissioner's letter and has implemented a number of initiatives to support the rearing pigs with intact tails, including the following:

1. A Pig Stakeholder Implementation Group involving all the key stakeholders in the Irish pig sector has been established by my Department. The issue of raising pigs with intact tails has been regularly discussed by this group and at other stakeholder subcommittee meetings and discussion groups to ensure that the challenge of rearing pigs with intact tails is understood and a way forward is set out.

2. A Pig Tails Pilot Scheme on rearing pigs with intact tails was carried out by my Department in conjunction with representatives from pig farmers' representative body.

3. Based on this pilot, a specifically focussed Intact Tails Inspection Programme has begun. This involves trained veterinary inspectors carrying out a series of regulatory visits to pig farms to identify and determine welfare deficits. The programme is designed to assist and support pig farmers move to successfully rearing pigs with intact tails. The programme commenced in September 2020. Seven pig farm inspections have been carried out to date and the programme is ongoing.

4. Complementary to the Intact Tails Inspection Programme and in conjunction with my Department and Teagasc, Animal Health Ireland (AHI) has delivered a training programme for private veterinarians on pig health and welfare issues, who, with support under Ireland’s Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, are now providing free on-farm advice, identifying risks which contribute to tail biting, and helping farmers to devise effective on-farm solutions and action plans.

5. The Pig Sector is also catered for under the current Pig and Poultry Investment Scheme of TAMS II, where a budget has been earmarked under Ireland’s Rural Development Programme 2014-2020. This scheme provides financial support to farmers for infrastructure improvements, for example design of pens, flooring, ventilation systems, wall and roof insulation and structures for holding enrichment materials, which all can impact of the need for tail docking.

Live Exports

 395. Deputy Brian Leddin Information on Brian Leddin Zoom on Brian Leddin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue if his attention has been drawn to reports (details supplied) that unweaned calves being transported from Ireland to continental Europe are travelling without food for over 18 hours in contravention of EU Regulation 1/2005; the steps he will take to ensure transported calves are adequately fed and are not subject to undue suffering; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40932/20]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue My Department is acutely conscious of the need and works diligently to ensure the welfare of animals in transit and is satisfied that the systems in place in respect of the intra-community movement of these animals are fully supportive of the welfare of the animals and in compliance with the relevant legislation. The care of calves is a priority of mine.

My Department has put a significant suite of additional measures in place over past two years to better support the welfare of calves and other animals during transport. These include requiring an increased space allowance per calf on the transport vehicles over and above the legislative requirement, as well as requiring an additional hours resting time for calves at the control posts in Cherbourg.

Other measures include an enhanced control post booking system which has proved highly effective in ensuring adequate control post spaces in Cherbourg. There is also enhanced co-operation with the French authorities both centrally in Paris and locally in Cherbourg. Since January 2020, the details of all calf consignments travelling on the ferries (transporter, number of calves, unique lairage booking number and ultimate destination) are shared with the French authorities a day in advance of sailings. to enable them undertake controls as they determine necessary.

In the context of further supporting the welfare of animals in transit, the Department has supported further research by Teagasc. One such project is focused on the welfare of calves during transport, including the efficacy of the provision of water and feed.

A further study between Teagasc and my Department is researching indicators of welfare and stress in calves on the journey to continental Europe, from beginning to end. This study will collect a body of scientific evidence on what further interventions might best enhance the welfare of the calves being exported.

The 'Moove' study has been specifically designed to generate vital baseline data, on which best-practice recommendations in support of optimal calf welfare and environmentally sustainable transport of calves to EU destinations can be based.

‘Moove’, will address the current knowledge gaps and, based on the evidence, achieve global leadership in improving the welfare of calves undergoing transport. All methods of transport, including air transport, will be studied to see if they present opportunities to improve calf welfare.

The Project will assess the existing welfare status of calves before, during and post-transport from Ireland to destination farms within the EU, in the interest of ensuring optimal welfare of calves being traded within the Community.

  Question No. 396 answered with Question No. 394.

Live Exports

 397. Deputy Brian Leddin Information on Brian Leddin Zoom on Brian Leddin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue further to Parliamentary Question No. 899 of 22 September 2020, the manner in which a problem by which a livestock vessel (details supplied) had certificates of approval from both Romania and Ireland in contravention of Article 19 of EU Regulation 1/2005 was resolved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40934/20]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue Heretofore, Ireland issued a single Certificate of approval in accordance with Article 19 of Regulation (EC) No. 1 of 2005. Such certificates were issued under S.I. No. 356/2016 and S.I. No. 675/2006. This covered both approval under Regulation 1/2005, and under the more stringent Irish national standards laid down in S.I. No. 356 of 2016. These standards have been notified to the Commission and other Member States. They are viewed positively by the Commission, which sees them as best practice and has made efforts to raise standards in other Member States.

Since an administrative anomaly was drawn to my Department’s attention earlier this year in respect of the vessel named, the certification system has been reviewed and amended in line with legal advice.

A ship certified to carry livestock from Ireland must now hold two certificates.

The first certifies compliance with Regulation 1/2005 and may be issued by the Irish competent authority under SI 675/2006, or by the competent authority of another EU Member State.

The second, which is necessary under national law for a vessel to carry livestock from Ireland, is a certificate issued separately by the Irish competent authority under S.I. No. 356/2016. This indicates compliance with our more stringent standards.

Animal Diseases

 398. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue if his Department has considered a compensation package for farmers affected by outbreaks of TB; his views on whether it is unfair that farmers whose herds are affected must cover the costs incurred as a result; if he will consider a compensation package; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41021/20]

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Charlie McConalogue): Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue Farmers affected by outbreaks of TB are covered by the TB Compensation Scheme. This includes the On-farm Market Valuation (OFMV) Scheme, Income Supplement, Depopulation Grant and the Hardship Grant

  The principal compensation mechanism is the OFMV Scheme. This is an indemnity payment per reactor animal removed. This is paid at a rate that the farmer would ordinarily expect to achieve on the open market if the animal was not diseased.

  In addition, my Department operates a number of supplementary compensation schemes:

  - Income Supplement is a payment per month per animal, subject to certain criteria, recognising consequential income lost due to their being removed as a reactor.

  - The Hardship Grant is a monthly payment between the months of November and April to assist with feeding costs for farmers locked up with animals they can’t sell over the winter period.

  - The Depopulation Grant is a payment to those farmers who agree to have their herds depopulated and remain restricted for a period of time.

  These supplementary schemes are unique to Ireland. In other jurisdictions with TB programmes including Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales, compensation is only paid in respect of reactors removed. Expenditure on compensation under the TB Programme is expected to be €21 million this year representing an increase of over €2.5 million (14%) relative to 2019.

Data Protection

 399. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if her Department has been the subject of an investigation by the Data Protection Commission from 2016 to date; the number of specific investigations underway or completed; the dates on which her Department was first notified of the investigation; the details of the investigation; the nature of the complaints; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40817/20]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys My Department has not been the subject of an investigation by the Data Protection Commission since its establishment in 2017.

Town and Village Renewal Scheme

 400. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if a decision has been made on a towns and villages funding application (details supplied) for the provision of a footpath; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40936/20]

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys This year’s Town and Village scheme was tailored to focus on initiatives that could support towns and villages in responding to the challenges presented by COVID-19. The 2020 Scheme, which has a budget of €25 million, includes two separate funding Measures - an Accelerated Measure and a Standard Measure.

The Accelerated Measure was designed to support smaller scale projects that could be delivered immediately to assist towns and villages in adapting to the challenges presented by COVID-19, and to allow people to shop and socialise in a safe manner. I have approved funding of €10.4 million for 363 projects across three funding rounds of the Accelerated Measure and this particular Measure is now closed.

The Standard Measure of the 2020 Scheme, which has a budget of €15 million, is designed to help rural towns and villages to recover from the impact of COVID-19 in the medium-term. Funding under this Measure is awarded on a competitive basis and all applications received are currently being assessed by my Department. I can confirm that an application for the project referred to by the Deputy has been received and is being considered as part of the assessment process.

I hope to be in a position shortly to announce the successful applications under the Standard Measure.


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