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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 189-208
 Header Item Passport Services
 Header Item Data Retention
 Header Item General Data Protection Regulation
 Header Item Human Rights
 Header Item Northern Ireland
 Header Item Human Rights
 Header Item Passport Applications
 Header Item Northern Ireland
 Header Item Defence Forces Investigations
 Header Item Defence Forces
 Header Item Departmental Staff
 Header Item Departmental Properties
 Header Item Departmental Data
 Header Item General Data Protection Regulation
 Header Item School Accommodation
 Header Item Schools Building Projects
 Header Item Health Promotion
 Header Item National Educational Psychological Service
 Header Item National Educational Psychological Service
 Header Item School Equipment

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1005 No. 6
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 78 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 189-208

Passport Services

 189. Deputy Alan Dillon Information on Alan  Dillon Zoom on Alan  Dillon asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if consideration is being given to setting up a new office (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17952/21]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Passport Service of my Department is one unified service composed of three constituent offices located in Lower Mount Street and Balbriggan in Dublin and South Mall in Cork. It operates three passport printing machines, two of which are located in the main production facility in Balbriggan and the third in the Passport Office in Lower Mount Street, Dublin.

  Passport applications from citizens residing in Ireland or elsewhere in the world are distributed for processing across the three Passport Offices. All passport applications are processed through the centralised automated passport service system which operates on the basis of application type and date of receipt of an application to ensure all applicants, regardless of where in the world they reside, receive the same service. All production facilities can print a passport, irrespective of the channel through which the application is processed.

  I am satisfied that the printing capacity of production equipment currently employed by the Passport Service is sufficient to meet the current and anticipated future demand for passports and therefore the establishment of a new office in the location mentioned is not contemplated at this time.

  I would like to draw attention to the well-advanced Passport Reform Programme. It continues to deliver major upgrades to the Passport Service technology platforms and business processes as well as significant customer service improvements.

  The Passport Service has continued to make excellent progress with the Passport Reform Programme. This will deliver a modern passport processing system to replace the current software designed nearly 20 years ago.

Data Retention

 190. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if a schedule will be provided of the data sets, databases and file types his Department has shared with the Department of Health since 2000. [17973/21]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney In relation to the sharing of personal data, my Department does not share personal data with other Data Controllers, including other Departments, unless it has a legal basis for doing so under Article 6 and, where appropriate, Article 9 of the GDPR. Data sharing with other Data Controllers is detailed in the Department’s Article 30 GDPR, Record of Processing Activities. There are no records of data sets, databases or file types shared with the Department of Health.

My Department has received data from and transferred data to the Department of Health and other lead Departments, in the context of the representation of the State as agent before international courts and tribunals (including the European Court of Human Rights, the European Committee of Social Rights, and various UN complaints bodies).

Without a comprehensive and detailed review of files across the Department since 2000, it is not possible to compile a schedule where non-personal data is shared. My Department corresponds with the Department of Health on a number of matters, including most recently the Covid-19 pandemic. My Department provides consular assistance to all Irish citizens in distress overseas, and their families in Ireland, where requested. This can include advice and support across a range of areas, some of which fall under the remit of other Government Departments. Consular officials therefore engage frequently with other Departments, including the Department of Health, to ensure that accurate and appropriate information is provided to our citizens abroad. My Department has worked closely with the Department of Health in the context of Covid-19, including in relation to repatriations and public health guidelines around international travel. Since 2020, my Department has provided 86 Digests of Mission Reporting on Covid-19 and 30 Reports on Aspects of the International Response to the COVID crisis to the Department of Health.

General Data Protection Regulation

 191. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the number of complaints his Department has received from members of the public under the heading of GDPR and data information requests since 2018 to date in 2021; the number of data information requests that have been refused and accepted, respectively; the number of GDPR requests refused; and the basis on which they were declined in tabular form. [17991/21]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The table below lists the Data Subject Access Requests (DSARs) which my Department has received under Article 15 of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) since 25 May 2018.

Year - Status Number of DSAR
2018 15
Granted 13
Withdrawn 2
2019 31
Granted 30
Refused 1
2020 32
Granted 18
Refused 6
Resolved outside GDPR 2
Withdrawn 6


  All the requests above which were refused, were deemed by the Department to be ‘manifestly unfounded or excessive’ as provided for under Article 12(5) of the GDPR.

  For 2021, my Department has received seven DSARs to date. These are all being processed and will be answered within the statutory timelines as provided for under Article 12(3) GDPR.

Human Rights

 192. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard J. Durkan Zoom on Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the extent to which he and his EU and UN colleagues can alert and activate the international community to the alarming abuses of human rights across the globe affecting women and children and entire communities in which persons and groups are detained against their will and appalling atrocities are committed on a daily basis; if the perpetrators will face charges in the international criminal courts in the Hague thereby clearly indicating that such atrocities cannot go without punishment; if Ireland can use its position as a member of the UN Security Council to address this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18012/21]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Ireland is a strong contributor to global efforts to prevent and resolve conflict, prevent atrocities, and eliminate human rights violations including against women, children and vulnerable groups. Central to this is our strong and enduring commitment to effective multilateralism, particularly through our membership of the European Union, the Council of Europe and the United Nations.

  Ireland is committed to actively promoting respect for human rights across our engagement on the UN Security Council and indeed, accountability is one of the three key themes of our membership.

  We are actively promoting accountability and compliance with international law in our work on the Security Council and its subsidiary bodies, including the Informal Expert Group on Women, Peace and Security, which Ireland is co-chairing, and the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict.

  We are also promoting respect for international law in our work on the broad range of country situations on the Security Council agenda.

  As an example, on 3 February and 4 March, Ireland initiated Council discussions on the deeply concerning humanitarian situation and the ongoing lack of humanitarian access in Tigray, Ethiopia.

  Myanmar has also been a particular focus of the Security Council since the coup in February. The Council agreed a Presidential Statement on 10 March, condemning the use of violence against peaceful protesters and expressing its continued support for the democratic transition in Myanmar.

  Ireland also continues to engage actively at the UN Human Rights Council. At the recently concluded 46th session of the Council, Ireland delivered over 20 National Statements on a number of country-specific human rights situations including Myanmar, Syria, Iran, Yemen, South Sudan, DPRK, Eritrea, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Ireland also supported a number of Joint Statements on Egypt, Ethiopia, Russia and Venezuela.

  At EU level, Ireland is an active participant and contributor to the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy which works globally to support the preservation of peace, the prevention of conflicts and the strengthening of international security.

  Accountability is important not only as a means of pursuing justice for victims, but also as a crucial component to create stability and peace in post-conflict situations.

  Ireland regards the International Criminal Court as the cornerstone of the international criminal justice system. Ireland, together with its EU partners is a consistent and strong supporter of the Court and we will continue to support and defend the Court throughout our term on the UN Security Council.

Northern Ireland

 193. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the progress to date in implementing New Decade, New Approach; if he has had any recent discussions with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and with members of the Northern Ireland Executive in relation to outstanding issues pertaining to the agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18049/21]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The New Decade, New Approach (NDNA) agreement was a significant shared achievement by the parties in Northern Ireland together with the two Governments, and its full implementation is a key priority for the Irish Government.

The important work of the North South Ministerial Council (NSMC) has resumed, to develop cooperation on an all-island basis. Two successful NSMC plenary meetings have now taken place, as well as the full range of Sectoral meetings at Ministerial level, and progress continues across the breadth of North-South areas of cooperation.

The Irish Government commitments that were made at the time of the NDNA are focused on working with the Executive through the North South Ministerial Council to deliver projects that benefit people across the island, including greater connectivity between North and South; investing in the North West region and in border communities; supporting the Irish language in Northern Ireland; and supporting reconciliation as an integral part of the Peace Process.

As part of the NDNA, it was also agreed that there would be regular review meetings involving the two Governments at Ministerial level and the parties to monitor progress on its implementation, and the delivery of commitments by each Government. On Monday 11 January, I participated by video-conference in the first Implementation Review Meeting alongside the First Minister, deputy First Minister, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and party leaders in Northern Ireland.

During that meeting, we discussed the progress that has been made over the past year on the implementation of our respective commitments, and the shared challenges we face in the context of both the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit. We reaffirmed our collective commitment to the ongoing implementation of the NDNA. It is hoped that we can arrange a second implementation review meeting in the period ahead.

I will continue to engage closely with the Secretary of State, and the Executive, as we work in support of the full implementation of the New Decade, New Approach agreement.

Human Rights

 194. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if his attention has been drawn to the current situation in Bahrain; and if he plans to use Ireland’s position to work with the international community to push for the human rights violations there to be addressed. [18052/21]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Respect for human rights is an integral part of Ireland’s foreign policy and we consistently seek to raise our concerns on human rights issues through the most appropriate and effective channels.

  The human rights situation in Bahrain remains a matter of serious concern. Although Bahrain has repeatedly stated its commitment to improving its human rights record and safeguarding human rights as enshrined in the Bahraini Constitution, we are concerned by ongoing instances of violations of fundamental freedoms, including violations of freedom of opinion and expression, as well as the targeting of human rights defenders.

  Ireland has raised concerns on human rights in Bahrain in both bilateral contacts, as well as in relevant international fora, notably the UN Human Rights Council.

  Ireland also engages on the issue of human rights in Bahrain through the European Union, including through the EU Delegation in Riyadh which is accredited to Bahrain. The most recent EU-Bahrain Human Rights Dialogue took place on 22 February and was chaired by the EU Special Representative for Human Rights Eamon Gilmore. A number of issues of concern were raised with Bahrain at the forum, including rule of law, prison conditions, right to a fair trial, freedom of expression, freedom of association, death penalty, torture, and the impact of Covid-19 on the human rights situation.

  Ireland will continue to monitor developments in Bahrain, and to call on the Bahraini Government to deliver on its stated commitment to make progress in relation to human rights.

Passport Applications

 195. Deputy Gary Gannon Information on Gary Gannon Zoom on Gary Gannon asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney when a family who has applied for a passport for their child (details supplied) can expect to receive the passport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18055/21]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney In line with Government guidance that at Level 5 of the National Framework on Living with COVID-19 only essential work should take place, the Passport Service continues to provide a high-quality essential service in line with Government measures to reduce social contact and combat the spread of COVID-19.

  This essential service is available for those who are required to travel due to the death or serious illness of a family member or meet the criteria for a reasonable excuse for travel as defined in the recent amendment to the Health Act 1947, which came into effect on 1 February 2021. Supporting documentation will be required for such cases.

  In order to facilitate the return of travel documents which may have been submitted in support of a passport application, all documents will be registered so that they can be returned for emergency travel or for travel with a reasonable excuse.

  Applicants who require a passport for emergency purposes, or for non-essential travel with a reasonable excuse, should contact the Passport Service via our Customer Service Hub Webchat function on our website.

  Irish citizens who are resident overseas should make contact through the local Irish Embassy or Consulate General.

  With regard to the specific application about which the Deputy has inquired, an official from the Passport Service was in contact with the applicant's father on 30 March to provide an update on the status of the passport application.

Northern Ireland

 196. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he has had any recent discussions with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and with members of the Northern Ireland Executive in relation to the Ireland Northern Ireland Protocol concerning the need to resolve outstanding issues and ensure no disruption to trade; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18075/21]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland is an international agreement concluded by the UK and the EU. It is the agreed and only solution to address the challenges caused by Brexit on the island of Ireland.

  Our shared goal must be its full implementation. We welcome that the Specialised Committee met on Friday, 26 March. This was an important signal that the only sustainable and legal way forward on implementation is a joint one. The meeting, co-chaired by the EU and the UK, included officials from Ireland and 24 other EU Member States, as well as the Northern Ireland Executive. I hope that there can now be rapid progress towards returning to a cooperative approach that respects commitments made.

  I have regular contact with representatives of the Northern Ireland Executive and political leaders. I also maintain ongoing contacts with British Government counterparts, including with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, on these and other matters of common interest.

  I am aware of the practical challenges which some businesses and people in Northern Ireland face arising from the UK’s decision to leave the Single Market and Customs Union. I, and officials in my Department, continue to engage closely with stakeholders in Northern Ireland, including with business and civil society. We are listening carefully to concerns they have and acting to mitigate the negative impacts of Brexit where possible.

  We want the Protocol to work for Northern Ireland, and for the island as a whole, in as smooth a manner as possible. Ireland has consistently advocated a pragmatic approach to implementation within the existing framework of the Protocol. This is only possible in a spirit of cooperation, through the agreed mechanisms.

  It is important, too, that Northern Ireland is able to benefit from the positive opportunities created by the Protocol with free access to both the EU market of 450 million people, and the UK internal market. This access is unique, vital for operation of all-island supply chains, and offers opportunities for trade, jobs and investment.

  I welcome also Vice President Šefcovic's recent engagements with stakeholders in Northern Ireland and his commitment to regular contact, clearly demonstrating that the EU is listening to voices across Northern Ireland.

Defence Forces Investigations

 197. Deputy Patricia Ryan Information on Patricia  Ryan Zoom on Patricia  Ryan asked the Minister for Defence Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he will establish a commission of enquiry into allegations of systemic sexual abuse in the Defence Forces given the number of persons who have come forward over the past few weeks to support these allegations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17747/21]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney All members of the Defence Forces, Permanent and Reserve, have a right to be treated with respect, equality and dignity and to carry out their duties free from any form of sexual harassment, harassment or bullying. These unacceptable forms of behaviour are not tolerated in the Defence Forces.

I urge anyone who has any complaint which they think constitutes a criminal offence to report their concerns to an Garda Síochána. A serving member of the Defence Forces could report such matters via the chain of command or the military police.

In the intervening years, there have been positive and welcome developments within the Permanent Defence Force to address inappropriate behaviour. There is now a robust system in place including a regulatory framework for dealing with such matters for serving members of the Defence Forces in both a formal and informal way. Administrative Instruction A7, Chapter 1 sets out the Defence Forces policy and procedures regarding interpersonal relationships in the Defence Forces including sexual harassment, harassment and bullying.

From time to time matters pertaining to allegations of sexual abuse are brought to my attention and I treat these with the utmost importance from the point of view of both the complainant and of those accused of wrongdoing who must have their right to fair procedures protected. The Gardaí have the power, expertise and skills to treat all of those in this process with dignity and respect and especially those who come forward with traumatic detail.

I have asked the Chief of Staff to provide a report to help inform me regarding matters raised recently in the print and broadcast media.

Defence Forces

 198. Deputy John Brady Information on John Brady Zoom on John Brady asked the Minister for Defence Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the rationale offered by the independent review group set up to review and make recommendations on the Battle of Jadotville in order to seek an extension to the original reporting date of 31 March 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17765/21]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The issue of awarding of Military Medals for Gallantry (MMG) and Distinguished Service Medals (DSMs) to personnel who served in Jadotville in September 1961 has been considered on a number of occasions over the years and a number of actions have taken place to give due recognition to the courage and bravery of all the members of “A” Company, 35th Infantry Battalion who were stationed in Jadotville in 1961.

  Notwithstanding the actions that have been undertaken to date, the Minister asked the Chief of Staff to consider whether it is possible, as an exceptional measure, to have a retrospective examination of the events at Jadotville in September 1961 in the context of the award of medals and the possible implications for the integrity of the award of medals system. In response the Chief of Staff proposed the establishment of an independent group of external experts to consider the entire case and evidence, including new evidence, if any, available.

  The Independent Review Group has now been established by the Chief of Staff and consists of the following members:

Brigadier-General Paul Pakenham (Retired) (Group Chairperson).

Dr Michael Kennedy, Royal Irish Academy.

Commandant Billy Campbell (Retired).

RSM Michael Dillon (Retired).

Ms Linda Hickey, Military Archives.

 

Their Terms of Reference are as follows:-

(a) The Review Group will consider ONUC’s operational environment in Katanga, and in particular in Elizabethville and Jadotville

(b) The Review Group will consider the historical evidence and processes in relation to all recommendations for military medals received with respect to the events at Jadotville or encompassing Jadotville.

(c) The Review Group will engage with national and international stakeholders (including Jadotville veterans) as appropriate, with a view to uncovering any additional or new evidence in this case.

(d) The Review Group may consider the actions of individuals not already the subject of a recommendation for a medal in respect of Jadotville

(e) The Review Group will report its findings to the Chief of Staff. The Review Group may make recommendations in relation to possible awards in respect of Jadotville.

 

  In line with the Terms of Reference, the Independent Review Group will examine, report and make recommendations in relation to the ‘Battle of Jadotville’ from 13 to 17 September 1961 and will report its findings to the Chief of Staff.

  The work of the Independent Review Group is well underway with over 50 interviews completed and thousands of pages of documents reviewed. The review group was due to conclude by 31st March 2021, however, given the sheer volume of meetings and the comprehensive nature of the research process, which is still producing a vast amount of material, an extension to the reporting date has been approved by the Chief of Staff, as the Convening Authority. The review group will now produce an interim report by 31st March 2021 with the date for the final report to be agreed after that.

  Once this work has been concluded, the Chief of Staff will make recommendations as appropriate to the Minister.

Departmental Staff

 199. Deputy Claire Kerrane Information on Claire Kerrane Zoom on Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Defence Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he will provide a breakdown of the higher executive officers, administration officers, assistant principal officers, principal officers and assistant secretaries in his Department by gender in tabular form. [17905/21]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The table below provides a breakdown of the number of civil servants employed in my Department in the grades of Assistant Secretary, Director, Principal, Assistant Principal Officer, Administrative Officer and Higher Executive Officer, detailed by gender.

Grade
Male
Female
Total
Assistant Secretary
3
0
3
Director
0
1
1
Principal
13
8
21
Assistant Principal
26
26
52
Administrative Officer
4
3
7
Higher Executive Officer
27
55
82
Total
73
93
166

Departmental Properties

 200. Deputy Alan Dillon Information on Alan  Dillon Zoom on Alan  Dillon asked the Minister for Defence Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the status of a property (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17951/21]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I am pleased to advise the Deputy that my Department has recently signed the contract with Mayo County Council for the transfer of these premises and, subject to the usual legal procedures, it is intended that this contract will be closed in the coming weeks.

Departmental Data

 201. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Defence Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if a schedule will be provided of the data sets, databases and file types his Department has shared with the Department of Health since 2000. [17968/21]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Neither the Department of Defence nor the Defence Forces share databases with the Department of Health. The Department of Defence would, on occasion, share information with the Department of Health in relation to the administration of individual retirement pensions for reasons such as the transfer of service to that Department or the application of abatement of pension. Such sharing of information would be specific to an individual scheme member, solely for the purposes of administering individual pension entitlements and would be permissible under the rules of the relevant pension schemes.

  A small number of staff members who transferred over the years to the Department of Health would have had their personnel file transferred with them.

  As requested, this information is portrayed in the following schedule.

Data sets Data bases File types
None None Records relating to pension issues affecting individual personnel and HR records on transfer of individual personnel

General Data Protection Regulation

 202. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Defence Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the number of complaints his Department has received from members of the public under the heading of GDPR and data information requests since 2018 to date in 2021; the number of data information requests that have been refused and accepted, respectively; the number of GDPR requests refused; and the basis on which they were declined in tabular form. [17986/21]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Neither my Department nor the Defence Forces have received any complaints from members of the public in relation to subject access requests since 2018 to date. The Defence Forces received one complaint in 2020 regarding a data subject rights request.

  The table below sets out the number of subject access requests accepted by my Department and the Defence Forces for the aforementioned period.

Year Number of Subject Access Requests Accepted
2018
Department of Defence 2
Defence Forces 57
2019
Department of Defence 4
Defence Forces 91
2020
Department of Defence 2
Defence Forces 75
01/01/2021 to 30/03/2021
Department of Defence 4
Defence Forces 4


My Department and the Defence Forces have not refused any data subject rights requests in the period 2018 to date.

School Accommodation

 203. Deputy Paul Kehoe Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Education Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley the status of an application for temporary accommodation for a school (details supplied); if the school it will be in place by September 2021; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17661/21]

Minister for Education (Deputy Norma Foley): Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley I am please to inform the Deputy that my Department has approved in principle interim accommodation for the school in question. My Department is currently liasing with the patron of the school in relation to the delivery of the interim accommodation and is awaiting further contact from the patron in this regard.

Schools Building Projects

 204. Deputy Niamh Smyth Information on Niamh Smyth Zoom on Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley the status of the new building for a school (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17677/21]

Minister for Education (Deputy Norma Foley): Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley The project to which you refer has been devolved for delivery to Cavan & Monaghan Education and Training Board (CMETB).

  The ETB is currently in the process of procuring a design team for the project, to design the buildings, obtain the necessary statutory planning permissions, and move the project onward to tender and construction in due course.

  While at this early stage it is not possible to provide a timeline for completion of the project, CMETB will be engaging directly with the school authority to keep it informed of progress.

Health Promotion

 205. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Education Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley the funding available for food dudes and incredible edibles; the funding that has been available for these schemes in each year since they commenced; the number of schools and students that have availed of the schemes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17687/21]

Minister for Education (Deputy Norma Foley): Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley My Department supports Agri Aware’s Incredible Edibles programme, a healthy eating initiative for Primary School pupils. The programme is also supported by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Department of Health. It encourages schools across the country to grow carrots, lettuce, potatoes, strawberries, turnips and herbs. Schools are supplied with grow packs, activity sheets and videos containing everything needed to grow these foods. Funding provided by my Department for this programme is as follows:

  Year   Initiative Amount 2016 Incredible Edibles €5,000 2017   Incredible Edibles €7,500 2018   Incredible Edibles €11,500 2019   Incredible Edibles €11,500 2020   Incredible Edibles €11,500

  With the project now in its 13th year, over 42,000 pupils from 1,600 schools in 29 different counties around Ireland, are set to undertake the programme.

  The Food Dudes Programme is a healthy eating programme developed to encourage children to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables. It is implemented in primary schools and is based on repeated tastings of fruit and vegetables supported by positive role modelling and rewards. The Food Dudes Programme is currently being implemented in Ireland under an EU six-year strategy framework covering the period 1 August 2017-July 2023.

  The Food Industry Development Division of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has specific responsibility for the implementation of the EU School Scheme which provides funding for the Food Dudes Programme and the School Milk Scheme in Ireland.

National Educational Psychological Service

 206. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan Information on Pádraig O'Sullivan Zoom on Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley the current situation with regard to emotional counselling and therapeutic supports in primary and post-primary schools with reference to children who are suffering from trauma, anxiety and adverse childhood experiences. [17728/21]

Minister for Education (Deputy Norma Foley): Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley While the provision of child and adolescent mental health services lies within the remit of the Department of Health, and the HSE specifically, the Department of Education has an important role to play in supporting the wellbeing and mental health of our young people. The Department’s Wellbeing Policy and Framework for practice has given recognition to the importance of promoting wellbeing in education. It outlines a comprehensive, whole-school approach to the promotion of wellbeing and positive mental health. It focuses on the whole school community, as well as groups and individual young people with identified needs. The policy can be accessed at https://www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Information/wellbeingineducation/wellbeing-in-education.html 

  The National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) of the Department provides a comprehensive, school-based psychological service to all primary and post primary schools through the application of psychological theory and practice to support the wellbeing, academic, social and emotional development of all learners. NEPS provides its service to schools through casework and through support and development work for schools. Individual casework service involves a high level of psychologist collaboration with teachers and parents, often also working directly with the child/young person. NEPS may become involved with supporting individual students where the school’s Special Education Teaching team or Student Support Team feels that the involvement of the psychologist is needed. Psychologists may provide consultation in relation to appropriate therapeutic interventions to be delivered in the school setting and engage in direct work with an individual student as appropriate.

  At post primary level, counselling is a key part of the role of the Guidance Counsellor, offered on an individual or group basis as part of a developmental learning process, at moments of personal crisis but also at key transition points. Each post primary school currently receives an allocation in respect of guidance provision, calculated by reference to the approved enrolment. Guidance allocations for all schools were increased in the 2020/21 school year in response to Covid 19. The Guidance Counsellor also identifies and supports the referral of students to external counselling agencies and professionals, as required. The Guidance Counsellor is key in developing and implementing innovative approaches to wellbeing promotion on a whole schools basis though the school’s Guidance Plan.

  In the event that the need for a more specialised intervention or counselling is identified by the NEPS psychologist, a referral is made to an outside agency for evaluation and ongoing support. The NEPS psychologist can in consultation with the Guidance Counsellor identify the most appropriate referral pathway and support schools with the onward referral to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Team (CAMHS), HSE Primary Care/Community Psychology teams, or an identified local community based specialist mental health service.

  In addition to casework NEPS psychologists work with teachers to build their capacity/capability to promote the wellbeing and mental health of children and young people in schools. NEPS teams offer training and guidance for teachers in the provision of universal and targeted evidence-informed approaches and early intervention to promote children’s wellbeing, social, emotional and academic development. Initiatives such as the Incredible Years Social Emotional learning Programmes and the FRIENDS Resilience Programmes. These programmes have been welcomed by schools and their impact positively evaluated.

  NEPS is currently developing a range of workshops on the promotion of wellbeing and resilience in schools which includes trauma informed approaches. The approaches outlined in the workshops are based on research findings, on the experience of experts in their fields and on the experience of practicing psychologists working in schools. The workshops will be available to build the capability of school staff in both primary and post-primary settings, including for school leaders, teachers and SNAs. Work is underway to identify schools for inclusion in a pilot of the workshops.   In selecting schools, a mix of DEIS, non DEIS and urban and rural schools will be included. Following the pilot a national roll-out is planned during the next academic year.

National Educational Psychological Service

 207. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan Information on Pádraig O'Sullivan Zoom on Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley the current level of service from NEPS at primary and post-primary level; and her plans to increase the NEPS support to schools. [17729/21]

Minister for Education (Deputy Norma Foley): Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley NEPS’ sanctioned psychologist numbers have grown from a base of 173 whole-time equivalent psychologists (w.t.e.) in 2016, through the intervening Budget increases in 2017-2019 to 204 w.t.e. psychologist posts. This Government remains firmly committed to the maintenance of a robust and effective educational psychological service. In this connection, as part of a package of measures to support the reopening of our schools the provision of an additional seventeen psychologist posts to NEPS was announced bringing overall sanctioned numbers to 221 w.t.e. psychologist posts.

Currently NEPS has 206 w.t.e. psychologist. NEPS is actively recruiting to achieve sanctioned numbers in NEPS. The Department has engaged with teh Public Appointments Service who are planning a recruitment compeition for NEPS in Q2 of 2021.

School Equipment

 208. Deputy Peter Burke Information on Peter Burke Zoom on Peter Burke asked the Minister for Education Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley if a replacement flag will be provided to a school (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17733/21]

Minister for Education (Deputy Norma Foley): Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley The Department of Arts Heritage & the Gaeltacht and the Defence Forces arranged the delivery of the National Flag by the Defence Forces to schools, as part of the Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme. While my Department assisted the Defence Forces in scheduling dates for the delivery of flags to schools the provision of flags was not provided by my Department.


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