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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 273-305
 Header Item General Data Protection Regulation
 Header Item Direct Provision System
 Header Item Asylum Seekers
 Header Item Immigration Policy
 Header Item Human Trafficking
 Header Item Insurance Fraud
 Header Item Private Security Authority
 Header Item Private Security Authority
 Header Item Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission
 Header Item Closed-Circuit Television Systems
 Header Item Immigration Policy
 Header Item Visa Applications
 Header Item Departmental Staff
 Header Item Departmental Data
 Header Item General Data Protection Regulation
 Header Item Residency Permits
 Header Item Citizenship Ceremonies
 Header Item Community Policing
 Header Item Traveller Community
 Header Item Court Orders
 Header Item Vaccination Programme
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Medical Aids and Appliances
 Header Item Hospital Waiting Lists
 Header Item Hospital Appointments Status
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic
 Header Item Vaccination Programme
 Header Item HSE Staff
 Header Item Covid-19 Paindéim
 Header Item Proposed Legislation
 Header Item Departmental Funding

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. 273-305

General Data Protection Regulation

 273. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris 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. [17992/21]

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (Deputy Simon Harris): Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris As you are aware, my Department was established in June 2020. I have attached a spreadsheet which shows details of the number of complaints that were 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 and the number of GDPR requests refused. The 2018 and 2019 predate my Department's establishment.

  GDPR and Data Information Requests

Direct Provision System

 274. Deputy Matt Carthy Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee if the necessary steps have been made to ensure that EU Directive 2014/92 has been respected by the end of the first quarter of 2021 as outlined in the White Paper on Direct Provision; if asylum seekers continue to face difficulties opening bank accounts; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18032/21]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee I have established a Programme Board in my Department to oversee the implementation of the relevant recommendations of the Advisory Group on the Provision of Support including Accommodation to Persons in the International Protection Process, including the recommendation related to access to basic bank accounts for International Protection applicants. The Programme Board is supported by an Implementation Working Group, comprising senior officials from the relevant areas of my department, to support progress in implementing recommendations, and reports into the Board.

In relation to recommendation 5.6 of the Advisory Group - that the State take the necessary steps to ensure that EU Directive 2014/92 is respected and that all banks operating in the State respect the rights of applicants for international protection to open and hold banks accounts - my officials have been engaging with the relevant stakeholders, including the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland (BPFI), with a view to supporting a resolution to any issues and enabling a consistent approach in implementing the Directive as appropriate. I also met with the BPFI recently in this regard concerning its role and my officials will engage with stakeholders further to establish the actions that can be advanced by them to achieve a more consistent approach by all banks in line with the terms of the EU Directive and the EU (Payment Accounts) Regulations 2016.

Asylum Seekers

 275. Deputy Matt Carthy Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee if her attention has been drawn to the fact that asylum seekers are facing difficulties ascertaining employment due to suspicions surrounding the legitimacy of their work permits; if she plans to introduce work permits in a new format as per recommendations by an organisation (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18033/21]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee As recommended by the Catherine Day Expert Advisory Group, my Department is currently at an early investigative stage in the process of changing the labour market access permission letter to a card format. I expect to bring this change this change into effect before the end of the year.

Employers have a duty under the European Communities (Reception Conditions) Regulations 2018, to inform the Minister for Justice, where they employ an international protection applicant who holds a labour market access permission, within 21 days of that applicant being employed, and once again within 21 days of the employment ceasing. Declaration forms for this purpose are provided to eligible applicants by my Department’s Labour Market Access Unit (LMAU) along with their permission letter.

If an employer or a prospective employer has any suspicions surrounding the legitimacy of a labour market access permission letter, they can contact the LMAU (Lmauqueries@justice.ie) at any time to verify its authenticity.

Immigration Policy

 276. Deputy Chris Andrews Information on Chris Andrews Zoom on Chris Andrews asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee if an additional extension will be allowed for expired immigration permits given the situation with Covid-19 restrictions; and when an announcement will be made on the matter. [17673/21]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee For people currently living in Ireland and who hold either a valid immigration or an international protection permission registered with my Department, I announced on 26 March 2021, that all such permissions due to expire between 21 April 2021 and 20 September 2021, are automatically renewed to 20 September 2021.

  In each instance, the automatic renewal of permission is on the same basis as the existing permission and the same conditions attach. In relation to persons with existing permission under Directive 2004/38/EC (Free Movement Directive), the automatic renewal is subject to the requirement that the person is complying with the requirements of the Directive.

   This is the seventh, and expected to be the final, extension of permissions granted since the outset of the pandemic. Any permission that was renewed by the previous notices is also automatically renewed by this notice until 20 September 2021.

  The temporary extension of immigration permissions means that anyone who held a valid permission to be in the State in March 2020 is legally permitted to remain until 20 September 2021, even if their Irish Residence Permit (IRP) card has expired and they are awaiting a new one.

  All renewals in the Dublin area are now being processed online only and the system has been available for all applicants since 20 July 2020 at https://inisonline.jahs.ie. Online renewal applications continue to be accepted and processed. I encourage Dublin based customers who can use the online system, to do so and to not wait until September.

  The Registration Office in Burgh Quay remains closed as a result of the Level 5 COVID-19 restrictions announced by Government in December. Customers who were issued with appointments for first time registrations will be prioritised for appointments once the Public Office can safely reopen. As first time registration requires the taking of biometrics - fingerprints - this cannot be done online.

  Registrations outside of the Dublin area are processed by the Garda National Immigration Bureau through the Garda Station network. Information on the contact details for all the registration offices outside Dublin is available at: https://www.garda.ie/en/about-us/our-departments/office-of-corporate-communications/news-media/reopening-of-registration-offices.html.     

Human Trafficking

 277. Deputy Patricia Ryan Information on Patricia  Ryan Zoom on Patricia  Ryan asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee her plans to address the downgrading of Ireland to a tier-two country in the 2018 and 2019 Trafficking in Persons Report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17746/21]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The Government is fully committed to addressing human trafficking in all forms, including through the provision of supports for victims of human trafficking, by educating the public to recognise the signs of trafficking and by continuing to work with our international partners in all relevant forums.

  Officials within my Department have been preparing Ireland’s response to the TIP questionnaire for a number of months. A response has been submitted to the U.S. Embassy for onwards transmission to the State Department, and officials are in regular communication with the Embassy to answer follow up queries and provide further input as required in that dialogue.

  Our response to this year's Questionnaire outlines a number of measures that we have progressed in order to tackle human trafficking in Ireland.

  The initiatives progressed by my Department and An Garda Síochána within the last year clearly demonstrate our commitment to tackling this heinous crime. Among the measures highlighted in our response is the funding my Department has committed to NGOs working to combat human trafficking. The details are set out in the tables below.

  The response also highlights the priority actions being taken to ensure victims of trafficking are identified, protected, and provided with all the supports needed. To this end a new wider National Referral Mechanism is being created to protect and promote the human rights of trafficking victims. The supports available under the NRM include accommodation, medical care, care planning, legal advice and aid, immigration permission, police services, employment and vocational training, translation and interpretation services and voluntary return home. I intend to bring proposals for a new NRM to Government this month.

  My Department is also working with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Ireland on a Cultural Mediation project. The project will build the capacity of State professionals who work with or for migrants, to identify and address the needs of victims or potential victims of gender based violence and trafficking more effectively and to provide culturally sensitive support to them. It will also provide victims of gender based violence and trafficking better access to information and allow them to effectively engage with support and referral services. It will also promote a culturally sensitive approach to victims, through the use of cultural mediators.

Core Funding Amount
Ruhama including COVID €609,868
Ruhama Exit Pathways €27,620
MRCI €83,500
IOM Cultural Mediation Service Project II €250,000
Dormant Account Funding  
IOM €30,000


  Awareness Raising/Frontline Training
Migrant Rights Centre Ireland €28,754 to develop information resources and training on awareness of Human Trafficking for labour exploitation
Immigrant Council of Ireland €35,000 for development and delivery of introductory and advanced online training modules on awareness raising of human trafficking in Ireland
MECPATHS €20,398 for development and delivery of online education and awareness raising of human trafficking in Ireland to frontline professionals and students within the hospitality and services sectors and now for the aviation sector
DORAS €23,552 for development and delivery of training and information resources on awareness raising of human trafficking aimed at frontline staff and volunteers to build capacity

Insurance Fraud

 278. Deputy Patricia Ryan Information on Patricia  Ryan Zoom on Patricia  Ryan asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the number of incidents of fraudulent insurance claims reported by the insurance industry to An Garda Síochána in 2019, 2020 and to date in 2021; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17755/21]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The Deputy will appreciate that the Garda Commissioner has responsibility, by law, for the management and administration of An Garda Síochána and for the allocation of Garda resources, in light of identified operational demands. The Garda Commissioner is solely responsible for the allocation of personnel, as well as organisational matters including the structure and number of Garda units involved in investigating any given criminal matter, including insurance fraud, and the resourcing of criminal investigations. I am assured that allegations of insurance fraud made to An Garda Síochána are fully investigated by the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB).

  As the Deputy will also be aware, Operation Coatee was launched in April 2019, its focus being the prevention of insurance-related fraud and associated crimes on a coordinated basis throughout Ireland. In circumstances where insurance fraud has already occurred, Operation Coatee is designed to maximise the prospect of identifying suspected culprits and, where possible and appropriate, to initiate criminal proceedings.

  I am informed by the Garda authorities that the specific incident type of Insurance Fraud was introduced on PULSE from 1 November 2018. Prior to 1 November 2018, Insurance Fraud reported to An Garda Síochána was recorded under more general fraud incident types.

  The Garda authorities have provided the table below which sets out the number of fraudulent insurance claims, within the Insurance Fraud incident type, reported to An Garda Síochána in 2019, 2020 and up to and including 28 March 2021. The insurance company is the injured party in all of these incidents.

Year 2019 2020 2021 (up to 28 March)
Fraudulent Claims 63 48 Fewer than 10 incidents reported


  For the Deputy's information, Incident counts are based on the date of reporting to An Garda Síochána and were collated based on PULSE data as of 01:30 on the 28 March 2021. Crime counting rules were applied to the data. These figures relate to fraudulent insurance claims only (based on recorded motive details and incident narrative) and do not relate to fraudulent applications for insurance or Ghost Broker incidents.

Private Security Authority

 279. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee if she will engage with the Private Security Authority in relation to educating and training for licensed security professionals; and her views on the creation of a singular training and education course for a security licence which incorporates static guarding, door security, CCTV monitoring, conflict resolution and self-defence given that there is no current course offering a licence which covers all these skillsets. [17768/21]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The Private Security Authority (PSA), an independent agency under the remit of my Department, is the regulatory body with responsibility for regulating and licensing the private security industry in the State.

The Private Security Services Act 2004 (as amended) sets out the security services licensable by the Authority. I have no involvement in the day to day operations of the PSA.

The Private Security Authority currently regulates contractors across 12 different sectors of the security industry and employees across four sectors. Dates for the licensing of employees in the event security and private investigator sectors will be announced later this year.

The training requirements for each sector are quite specific and the requirements for those working as a security guard in a retail environment are significantly different from those required by a door supervisor or event security personnel.

Currently there are two separate level 4 minor QQI (Quality Qualifications Ireland) awards for security guarding skills and door security procedures. These can be combined by training providers and offered as a single course to participants who wish to be trained in both sectors. The combined course includes elements of CCTV monitoring, conflict resolution and self-defence relevant to the role of a PSA licensed security guard or door supervisor.

Following consultation with security employer and employee representatives and training providers, two new QQI courses which will replace the current awards are being developed and will be available from January 2022.

These new courses have revised and updated the current learner outcomes and also introduce additional outcomes to enhance the skills of the trainee. In addition, I am advised that the Authority is engaged with training providers on the development of a new physical intervention course which they plan to launch in 2022.

Private Security Authority

 280. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee if security companies will be made to provide their employees with stab vests and body CCTV cameras while working in the interest of safety and security. [17769/21]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The Private Security Authority (PSA), an independent agency under the remit of my Department, is the regulatory body with responsibility for regulating and licensing the private security industry in the State.

  The Private Security Services Act 2004 (as amended) sets out the security services licensable by the Authority. I have no involvement in the day to day operations of the PSA.

  I am informed by the Authority, that all contractors licensed by them are required to comply with prescribed standards.

  In the case of contractors in the security guarding and door supervisor sectors the prescribed standard is PSA 28:2013, Standard For The Licensing Of Door Supervisors (Licensed Premises) And Security Guard (Static) Contractors. Under this standard contractors are required to undertake a risk assessment at all locations where a security service is being provided.

  As part of the risk assessment, contractors must assess the risks that security personnel might face, including risks from violence and outline and implement risk mitigating measures to eliminate or significantly diminish any identified risks.

  Risk mitigating measures may include the use of personal protective equipment or technology.

  The Authority has advised me that where body CCTV cameras are used it is important that all statutory requirements under Data Protection legislation are met by the contractor as failure to do so may result in the Authority taking action against their licence.

Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission

 281. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee if she has received the 2020 GSOC annual report to date; when this report will be published; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17784/21]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee I can inform the Deputy that the GSOC annual report for 2020 was submitted to me on 31 March 2021. Officials from my Department are currently considering the report with a view to publishing it as soon as practicable.

Closed-Circuit Television Systems

 282. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee further to Parliamentary Question No. 486 of 17 December 2020, the progress to date in preparing legislation relevant to community-based CCTV; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17811/21]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee I can inform the Deputy that my officials are currently finalising the draft General Scheme of the Garda Síochána (Digital Recording) Bill, which I intend to bring to Cabinet for approval in the coming weeks. The General Scheme will be published on the Department of Justice website shortly thereafter. When enacted, this legislation will replace Section 38 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005.

Immigration Policy

 283. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the status of the programme for Government commitment to regularise undocumented persons living in Ireland; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17814/21]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The Programme for Government contains a commitment to bring forward a regularisation scheme within 18 months of the formation of the Government, to create new pathways for long-term undocumented people and their dependents, meeting specified criteria and bearing in mind Ireland's European Union (EU) and Common Travel Area (CTA) commitments.

As outlined in my Justice Plan 2021, a scheme will launch later this year and work is underway in my Department to give effect to this commitment. This work is being informed by an assessment of international best practice and having regard to our EU and CTA commitments. I will consult with relevant Government Departments, civil society and other interested parties, before finalising the Scheme .

In the meantime, I would encourage any person who is resident in the State without permission to contact my Department or their local immigration office and to take all appropriate steps to regularise their own and their family's status. In all cases, people must engage with the authorities if they wish to be permitted to remain here legally.

Visa Applications

 284. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the reason for the delay in issuing visa stickers to atypical workers in the fishing industry who have been approved for a visa; the reason the visa stickers are not issued at the same time as the visa approval is being confirmed; when a visa sticker will issue to a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17842/21]

 285. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the reason for the delay in issuing visa stickers to atypical workers in the fishing industry who have been approved for a visa; the reason the visa stickers are not issued at the same time as the visa approval is being confirmed; when a visa sticker will issue to a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17867/21]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee I propose to take Questions Nos. 284 and 285 together.

I understand that the Embassy in Jakarta, where the Visa sticker issues from, have been experiencing some ICT problems. They will endeavour to issue the Visa stickers for the persons referred to by the Deputy as soon as possible.

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to my Department by e-mail using the Oireachtas Mail facility (inisoireachtasmail@justice.ie), which has been specifically established for this purpose. This service enables up to date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek information by way of the Parliamentary Questions process. The Deputy may consider using the e-mail service except in cases where the response is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Departmental Staff

 286. Deputy Claire Kerrane Information on Claire Kerrane Zoom on Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee if she will provide a breakdown of the higher executive officers, administration officers, assistant principal officers, principal officers and assistant secretaries in her Department by gender in tabular form. [17914/21]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee It has not been possible to collate the information requested by the Deputy within the time allowed. I will write to the Deputy to provide this information as soon as it is available.

Departmental Data

 287. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee if a schedule will be provided of the data sets, databases and file types her Department has shared with the Department of Health since 2000. [17976/21]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee Unfortunately, my Department would not be in a position to create a schedule of the data sets, databases and file types that may have been shared with the Department of Health or indeed other Departments since 2000. Given the broad timeframe, the limited IT infrastructure over that period and changes which have occurred in my Department and in other Departments since 2020, this is not information which is available to-hand and any exercise to identify and retrieve this information would take a significant amount of time. If the Deputy is in a position to identify specific information she wishes to receive or identify the information sought from particular areas in my Department this would be very helpful and if the Deputy writes to me directly with those specifics I will arrange to have the details provided, if available, as soon as possible.

General Data Protection Regulation

 288. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the number of complaints her 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. [17995/21]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee I wish to advise the Deputy that the total Subject Access Requests (SARs) received, the number of SARs refused, the reason for refusal and subsequent complaints since 25 May 2018 are detailed in the table below.

  Details of SARs Received

  2018 (from 25/5/18) 2019 2020 2021 (to 30/03)
Total SARs Received 141 427 429 146
         
SARs Refused 1 1 0 0
Reason for refusal Records requested had previously been provided to the data subject. Records requested related to a third party and not the data subject.    
Complaints received from data subject in relation to the refusal of a SAR. 0 0 0 0

Residency Permits

 289. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard J. Durkan Zoom on Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the progress to date in the determination of an application for residency in the case of a person (details supplied); if permission to work will be given in the interim given the hardship Covid-19 is causing; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18014/21]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee The person referred to by the Deputy is the subject of a Deportation Order made on 5 March 2020. However, in response to a notification pursuant to the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), written representations have been submitted on behalf of the persons concerned. These representations, together with all other information and documentation on file, will be fully considered, under Section 3 (6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and all other applicable legislation, in advance of a final decision being made.

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to my Department by e-mail using the Oireachtas Mail facility (inisoireachtasmail@justice.ie), which has been specifically established for this purpose. This service enables up to date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek information by way of the Parliamentary Questions process. The Deputy may consider using the e-mail service except in cases where the response is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Citizenship Ceremonies

 290. Deputy David Stanton Information on David Stanton Zoom on David Stanton asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the number applications with respect to the new temporary process for granting citizenship which involves the signing of a statutory declaration of loyalty to the State instead of attending a citizenship ceremony received to date; the number of these applications that have been processed to date; if her Department has met with members of a group (details supplied); if she has taken into consideration the requests made by this group; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18030/21]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee Officials from the Citizenship Division of the Immigration Service of my Department have recently held a virtual meeting with representatives of the group referred to by the Deputy to listen to their concerns. A number of suggestions were made by the group regarding the processing of applications and these are under active consideration. The engagement process, which has been very positive and productive, is ongoing. It has provided my officials with valuable customer insights on our service standards and procedures.

On 18 January 2021, I was pleased to announce a temporary system that enables citizenship applicants to complete their naturalisation process by signing a statutory declaration of loyalty.

This signed statutory declaration replaces the requirement for citizenship applicants to attend citizenship ceremonies, which have been temporarily suspended during COVID-19. The Citizenship Division of my Department is communicating with applicants regarding the requirements, on a phased basis.

Under the temporary new system, up to 4,000 qualifying applicants are currently being asked to complete a statutory declaration that is sent to them by email from the Citizenship Division of the Immigration Service of my Department and bring it to one of the listed designated officials. The designated official must witness the applicant sign the statutory declaration. The applicant must then send the signed statutory declaration, the appropriate fee and any other requested documentation to Citizenship Division. Final processing will then take place and a certificate of naturalisation, will be sent to the applicant.

My Department expects to continue the current statutory declaration process beyond March and we are aiming to have communicated with an additional 2,500 applicants in the system by the end of June.

To date, 3,615 communications have issued, 1,605 declarations had been returned and 887 certificates of naturalisation have already issued. More will issue in the coming weeks once the final processing of the returned declarations is completed.

It remains my intention that large scale ceremonies will recommence once circumstances allow. Since their establishment in 2011, citizenship ceremonies have been joyous occasions which mark the granting of Irish citizenships in a dignified manner and they have become a welcome addition to our public and civic life. In-person ceremonies have been provisionally scheduled to resume in December 2021, subject to the safety of all involved being assured.

Community Policing

 291. Deputy Jennifer Whitmore Information on Jennifer  Whitmore Zoom on Jennifer  Whitmore asked the Minister for Justice Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee the number of community policing Gardaí attached to each station in County Wicklow in each of the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18071/21]

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee I can inform the Deputy that An Garda Síochána has been allocated an unprecedented budget of €1.952 billion for 2021. The significant level of funding provided over recent years is enabling sustained, ongoing recruitment of Garda members and staff. As a result, there are now approximately 14,600 Garda members and over 3,000 Garda staff nationwide.

  The Deputy will be aware that the Garda Commissioner is responsible under the law for the management and administration of An Garda Síochána, including personnel matters and deployment of resources. As Minister, I have no role in such decisions. I am assured, however, that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities, to ensure their optimum use.

  The table below, which has been provided to me by the Garda authorities, sets out the number of community Gardaí assigned to Wicklow Division as at end December 2016 to end December 2020 and as at 28 February 2021, the latest date for which figures are available.

Table

  A detailed breakdown of the Garda workforce, including the national distribution of Community Gardaí, is available on my Department’s website, in the interests of transparency and for the convenience of Deputies and the wider public. This information is updated every month with the latest data provided by An Garda Síochána. The Information requested in relation to Community Garda may be accessed along with information about the wider Garda workforce at the following link:

  http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/Garda_Workforce

  It is important to note that to date, the official categorisation as a Community Garda has simply referred to those exclusively assigned to building relationships with local communities and civil society including giving talks to schools, community groups and others. However, the Deputy will appreciate that it is important to consider that community policing is at the heart of An Garda Síochána and all Gardaí have a role to play in community policing in carrying out their duties. Indeed, this is fundamental to the new Garda Operating Model recommended by the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland and currently being rolled out under 'A Policing Service for Our Future', the Government's implementation plan for the Commission's recommendations.

Traveller Community

 292. Deputy Jackie Cahill Information on Jackie Cahill Zoom on Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly his plans and efforts to date to tackle heightened incidence rates of Covid-19 among the Traveller community (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17675/21]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Frankie Feighan): Information on Frankie Feighan Zoom on Frankie Feighan HPSC data indicate that during the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic (22/11/2021 to 27/3/2021) , there have been 263 outbreaks among the Traveller community associated with 3066 cases. Of these cases, 125 persons were hospitalised and 17 have been admitted to ICU. Sadly, there has been a total of 8 deaths due to Covid-19 among Travellers during this period.

  The high incidence of Covid-19 outbreaks among Travellers is concerning and reflects two main factors: the basic living conditions in which Travellers live - the social determinants of health - and the tradition of family and communal events, such as funerals and christenings.

  Both the Department of Health and the HSE pro-actively monitor and respond to Covid-19 among the Traveller population. The HSE has prioritised Travellers in terms of detection, case management and contact tracing. The following measures were introduced by the HSE national social inclusion office and public health:-

  - Traveller Support plans developed in relevant CHO areas;

  - regular teleconferences held with Traveller Health Units to develop guidance for Travellers;

  - introduction of a national Traveller helpline; https://www.hse.ie/eng/about/who/primarycare/socialinclusion/travellers-and-roma/irish-travellers/traveller-helpline.html

  - development of Traveller specific guidance document which gives general advice about preventing the spread of COVID-19 and dealing with cases of COVID-19); https://www.hpsc.ie/a-z/respiratory/coronavirus/novelcoronavirus/guidance/vulnerablegroupsguidance/

  - development of specific local supports in various CHOs to support Travellers, for example, the Community Assessment Hub in the Mater Hospital is accessible to Travellers;

  - national COVID-19 Traveller Service User Experience survey carried out in September 2020, which will help inform service planning throughout the ongoing pandemic,

  - website resource page developed with information and resources specifically for Travellers Traveller COVID 19 sharing resources.

  - A National Traveller Outbreak Control Team with representatives from relevant stakeholders including Pavee Point,

  In addition to the specific public health measures, the steering ctte of the National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy provides regular updates on the whole of Government response to Covid-19 for Travellers. The Dept of the Taoiseach subcommittee on higher risk groups also monitors the situation for Travellers.

  The roll out of the COVID-19 vaccination programme will make a significant advance in our approach to this pandemic. People at highest risk of suffering, and most vulnerable to the worst effects of COVID-19, are prioritised as part of this listing. People aged 16-64 from disadvantaged groups living in congregated settings are prioritised in group 9. This includes people from the Travelling community.

  The HSE has hosted webinar on the roll out of the vaccination programme and developed Traveller specific vaccination programme resources. https://www.hse.ie/eng/about/who/primarycare/socialinclusion/travellers-and-roma/irish-travellers/covid-19-vaccination-programme.html

  I am aware that the poor health status of the Traveller community makes them more vulnerable to the health complications associated with Covid-19. The HSE is finalising its national Traveller health action plan and will shortly submit the plan to the Department. I am committed to supporting this plan.

Court Orders

 293. Deputy Patricia Ryan Information on Patricia  Ryan Zoom on Patricia  Ryan asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the actions he will take following the refusal by the Central Mental Hospital to comply with a court order by refusing entry to a patient on 19 March 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17743/21]

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.

Vaccination Programme

 294. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard J. Durkan Zoom on Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the extent to which Ireland and other European Union member states can rely on the delivery of adequate supplies of Covid-19 vaccines to meet their urgent requirements and to ensure that contract deficiencies are replenished without delay in order to meet urgent health targets in respect of Covid-19; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17653/21]

 359. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard J. Durkan Zoom on Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the extent to which efforts are being made to ensure the acquisition of the number of Covid-19 vaccines initially indicated with a view to ensuring that targets indicated can be met; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18008/21]

 360. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard J. Durkan Zoom on Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the extent to which he expects targets in respect of Covid-19 vaccination to be met in the next two months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18009/21]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly I propose to take Questions Nos. 294, 359 and 360 together.

Ireland is participating in an EU Procurement process with a view to accessing a portfolio of candidate vaccines against COVID-19 which are being negotiated with vaccine manufacturers by the Commission acting on behalf of Member States. Emergency Support Instrument (ESI) funding has been leveraged by the Commission to facilitate its negotiations with vaccine manufacturers, including with regard to production costs and securing a reduced per dose cost for Member States.

This process has provided Ireland with access to vaccines (at a reduced cost) that it would find it difficult to access otherwise within a year after the declaration of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the WHO. Four of the vaccines in the EU portfolio have already been awarded Conditional Marketing Authorisation (CMA) by the Commission.

Ireland supports efforts made by the Commission to safeguard the production and delivery of doses of vaccine in the quantities agreed with vaccine suppliers and to ensure that up-front funding provided through ESI has been properly used.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 295. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice Information on Michael Fitzmaurice Zoom on Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if he will provide details of the company that supplied the paper and the company that did the printing for Covid-19 brochures; if these services were put out to tender; if so, when this occurred; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17663/21]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly I can confirm that three companies were involved in the printing of Covid-19 brochures, details of which are set out in tabular form below.

Company Description of Service Date
Inkspot Print run of Covid-19 public information booklet (2 million copies in English) 16 March 2020
Colorman Print run of Covid-19 public information booklet (1 million copies in Irish) 31 March 2020
Dafil Print run of Covid-19 public information booklet (1 million copies in Irish) 07 April 2020
Inkspot Print run of Handwashing brochure for nationwide post distribution 08 April 2020
Colorman Printing of HSE Stay Safe Guidelines 29 June 2020


  Due to the extreme urgency brought about by the unforeseen circumstances pertaining to the global pandemic, it was necessary to communicate the public health advice to every household in Ireland via mail drops or via newspaper inserts. In these instances, quotes were requested from several printers and work was allocated based on the cost and speed required for the relevant work. The Department will undertake a tender exercise for this service in 2021.

Medical Aids and Appliances

 296. Deputy Niamh Smyth Information on Niamh Smyth Zoom on Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if he will examine the case of a person (details supplied); if he will review the decision to refuse the request; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17668/21]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly My Department has no role in assessing applications made to the HSE for aids and appliances. Complaint and review procedures have been established by the HSE in accordance with Part 9 of the Health Act 2004. I have asked the HSE to provide details of these procedures to the Deputy.

The Deputy may wish to note that under the Assistive Technology scheme, which is under the remit of the Minister for Education, funding is provided to schools towards the cost of computers and specialist equipment, which are required by pupils for educational purposes.

Hospital Waiting Lists

 297. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the reason 3,054 women are waiting for gynaecological care at Tallaght Hospital and 1,452 women are waiting over 18 months; and the steps he plans to take to ensure the hospital has a full complement of staff of address the large waiting list. [17671/21]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly It is recognised that waiting times for scheduled appointments and procedures have been impacted in the last year as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  The HSE is currently recommending that only critical time dependent elective procedures are undertaken at this time due to the on-going and significant increased demand for bed capacity related to COVID-19.

  This decision was made arising from the rapid increase in Covid-19 admissions and to ensure patient safety and that all appropriate resources were made available for Covid-19 related activity and time-critical essential work.

  Patient safety remains at the centre of all hospital activity and elective care scheduling. To ensure services are provided in a safe, clinically-aligned and prioritised way, hospitals are following HSE clinical guidelines and protocols. The HSE continues to optimise productivity through alternative work practices such as the use of alternative settings including private hospitals, community facilities and alternative outpatient settings.

  On 23 March the HSE published the “Safe Return to Health Services Plan”. This plan outlines a three phased plan for the proposed restoration of services across Community Services, Acute Hospital Operations, Cancer Services and Screening Services. It sets target times for their safe return and details the conditions and challenges that will have to be met.

  Every phase of the plan has been informed by clinical guidance and putting patient and staff safety first.

  Decisions in relation to the type and volume of activity will be made at site level based on local COVID-19 numbers, available capacity and guidance from national clinical leads.

  The schedule outlined in the plan for resumption of services will be regularly monitored by the HSE and updated as appropriate, dependant on public health advice and healthcare capacity.

  The work of the HSE to improve access to elective care and reduce waiting times for patients is supported by the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF). This includes increased use of private hospitals, funding weekend and evening work in public hospitals, funding “see and treat” services where minor procedures are provided at the same time as outpatient consultations, funding hybrid services where public and private hospitals contribute to the treatment of patients, virtual clinics and clinical validation.

  The NTPF have advised that they have provided funding for a number of Insourcing initiatives to reduce Gynaecology waiting lists at Tallaght University Hospital in 2020. As a result, 475 patients have to date received treatment through HSE insourcing initiatives. Details of these initiatives are outlined in the attached document.

  €240 million has been provided in Budget 2021 for an access to care fund, €210m of which has been allocated to the HSE and a further €30m to the National Treatment Purchase Fund. This will be used to fund additional capacity to address the shortfall arising as a result of measures taken in the context of COVID-19, as well as to address waiting lists.

  In relation to the particular query raised regarding the steps/plans to take to ensure the hospital has a full complement of staff to address the large waiting list, as this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.

  Approved Outpatient (OPD) NTPF initiatives for Gynaecology for 2020 and to date 2021 for Tallaght University Hospital

  NTPF Insourcing Approved OPD Gynaecology Initatives Tallaght University Hospital as at 26/03/2021

Specialty Initiative Type Volume Notes
Gynaecology OPD 100 Nurse-led clinic
Gynaecology OPD 125 GP-led clinic
Gynaecology OPD 250 Physio-led clinic
  Total 475  

Hospital Appointments Status

 298. Deputy Chris Andrews Information on Chris Andrews Zoom on Chris Andrews asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if a person (details supplied) will be given a date for surgery in St. James’s Hospital, Dublin given several appointments have been cancelled and their mobility is deteriorating rapidly. [17672/21]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly It is recognised that waiting times for scheduled appointments and procedures have been impacted in the last year as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The HSE is currently recommending that only critical time dependent elective procedures are undertaken at this time due to the on-going and significant increased demand for bed capacity related to COVID-19.

This decision was made arising from the rapid increase in COVID-19 admissions and to ensure patient safety and that all appropriate resources were made available for COVID-19 related activity and time-critical essential work.

Patient safety remains at the centre of all hospital activity and elective care scheduling. To ensure services are provided in a safe, clinically-aligned and prioritised way, hospitals are following HSE clinical guidelines and protocols.

On 23 March the HSE published the “Safe Return to Health Services Plan”. This plan outlines a three phased approach for the proposed restoration of services across Community Services, Acute Hospital Operations, Cancer Services and Screening Services. It sets target times for their safe return and details the conditions and challenges that will have to be met.

Every phase of the plan has been informed by clinical guidance and putting patient and staff safety first.

Decisions in relation to the type and volume of activity will be made at site level based on local COVID-19 numbers, available capacity and guidance from national clinical leads.

The schedule outlined in the plan for resumption of services will be regularly monitored by the HSE and updated as appropriate, dependant on public health advice and healthcare capacity.

Under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive (HSE) is required to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. Section 6 of the HSE Governance Act 2013 bars the Minister for Health from directing the HSE to provide a treatment or a personal service to any individual or to confer eligibility on any individual.

The National Waiting List Management Policy is a standardised approach used by the HSE to manage scheduled care treatment for in-patient, day case and planned procedures. It sets out the processes that hospitals are to implement to manage waiting lists and was developed in 2014 to ensure that all administrative, managerial and clinical staff follow an agreed national minimum standard for the management and administration of waiting lists for scheduled care.

In relation to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 299. Deputy Jackie Cahill Information on Jackie Cahill Zoom on Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if a comparison will be provided of Covid-19 incidence rates between the general settled population and the Traveller community (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17676/21]

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.

Covid-19 Pandemic

 300. Deputy Michael Lowry Information on Michael Lowry Zoom on Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the steps he is taking to ensure that the visiting restrictions in place in maternity services in response to the Covid-19 document from the national women and infants health programme in September 2020 will be updated regularly to reflect the changing circumstances of the pandemic and the response including vaccination roll-out; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17680/21]

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.

Vaccination Programme

 301. Deputy David Cullinane Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly when members of the Traveller community with underlying conditions will be vaccinated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17681/21]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly The COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Strategy sets out a provisional list of groups for vaccination. The Strategy was developed by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) and my Department, endorsed by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), and approved by Government on 8 December 2020.

  On the 23rd of February, I announced an update to Ireland’s COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Strategy. In comprising the initial Vaccine Allocation Strategy, the NIAC listed several conditions associated with increased risk of severe disease and death. In the intervening period, national and international evidence has become available which has enabled a more detailed analysis of underlying conditions that may increase the risk of developing severe disease or death. The NIAC has now been able to more comprehensively identify those medical conditions and to distinguish between those which place a person at very high or high risk of severe disease if they contract the virus. Medical conditions and the magnitude of the risk they pose will continue to be monitored and periodically reviewed.

  On the 30th of March, the Government approved a further update to the COVID-19 Vaccination Allocation Strategy. Based on clinical, scientific and ethical frameworks produced by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee and the Department of Health, following the vaccination of those most at risk, future groups will be vaccinated by age, in cohorts of 10 years (i.e., 64-55; 54-45, etc.).

  The move to an age-based model better supports the programme objectives by:

  - protecting those at highest risk of severe disease first, which benefits everyone most;

  - facilitating planning and execution of the programme across the entire country;

  - improving transparency and fairness.

  Further details are available here: https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/93f8f-minister-donnelly-announces-update-to-irelands-vaccination-prioritisation-list/

HSE Staff

 302. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly if HSE occupational health policy will be amended to allow the occupational health team to accept recommendations from medical consultant doctors regarding the ability of staff within the service to be fit or unfit to work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17682/21]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly I have asked the HSE to respond directly to the Deputy on this operational matter, as soon as possible.

Covid-19 Paindéim

 303. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 1363 and 1451 of 24 March 2021, if the questions can be addressed with regard to the position of approved driving instructors and driver testers on the current vaccination priority list; his plans to ensure that workers who are most exposed are prioritised in view of the fact that the nature of their work puts them in regular contact with members of the public in a confined space for at least one hour at a time; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17683/21]

Minister for Health (Deputy Stephen Donnelly): Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly The COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Strategy sets out a provisional list of groups for vaccination. The Strategy was developed by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) and my Department , endorsed by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), and approved by Government on 8 December 2020.

  On the 23rd of February, I announced an update to Ireland’s COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Strategy. In comprising the initial Vaccine Allocation Strategy, the NIAC listed several conditions associated with increased risk of severe disease and death. In the intervening period, national and international evidence has become available which has enabled a more detailed analysis of underlying conditions that may increase the risk of developing severe disease or death. The NIAC has now been able to more comprehensively identify those medical conditions and to distinguish between those which place a person at very high or high risk of severe disease if they contract the virus. Medical conditions and the magnitude of the risk they pose will continue to be monitored and periodically reviewed.

  On the 30th of March, the Government approved a further update to the COVID-19 Vaccination Allocation Strategy. Based on clinical, scientific and ethical frameworks produced by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee and the Department of Health, following the vaccination of those most at risk, future groups will be vaccinated by age, in cohorts of 10 years (i.e., 64-55; 54-45, etc.).

  The move to an age-based model better supports the programme objectives by:

  - protecting those at highest risk of severe disease first, which benefits everyone most;

  - facilitating planning and execution of the programme across the entire country;

  - improving transparency and fairness.

  Further details are available here: https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/93f8f-minister-donnelly-announces-update-to-irelands-vaccination-prioritisation-list/

Proposed Legislation

 304. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the preparatory work under way in his Department on a public health (obesity) Bill as per the programme for Government; the stakeholders that have been and are being consulted in relation to same to date; the timeline for the development of the Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17684/21]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Frankie Feighan): Information on Frankie Feighan Zoom on Frankie Feighan The Programme for Government “Our Shared Future” published in June 2020 contained a commitment to “Work with key stakeholders to introduce a Public Health Obesity Act, including examining restrictions on promotion and advertising aimed at children”.    

  The policy instrument for obesity in Ireland is “A Healthy Weight for Ireland’, the Obesity Policy and Action Plan (OPAP), which was launched in September 2016 as part of the Healthy Ireland Framework. The OPAP covers a 10-year period up to 2025 and aims to reverse obesity trends, prevent health complications and reduce the overall burden for individuals, families, the health system, and the wider society and economy. The OPAP does not provide for the introduction of a Public Health Obesity Act. However, the Plan does provide for a mid-term review to be carried out, and this will take place in 2021. This will lead to a refreshed and updated Plan with a revised set of actions for the remaining lifetime of the OPAP. This review provides the opportunity to consider developments and new evidence since the publication of the OPAP and allow appropriate consideration and stakeholder engagement on a range of aspects, including proposed legislation to support our national approach to tackling obesity.    

  There are a number of elements which will inform the mid-term review of the Obesity Policy and Action Plan. An Implementation Progress Report on the actions within the Plan was published in February 2021. A Strategic Action Plan for the wider Healthy Ireland Framework, covering the years 2021-2025 is expected to be published in the coming weeks. An evaluation of the OPAP is also being carried out by the Health Research Board Centre for Health and Diet Research, University College Cork. This process will include the assessment of relevant experts, and it is expected that this will be completed in the second quarter of 2021. A strong evidence base will be required for any new legislative measures, and the review of the OPAP will build on the work already underway to identify gaps in the implementation of the Plan, including where actions need to be progressed, whether by legislative or other means, and where further research is required.

  Given the multi-faceted nature of the obesity crisis, a high level of interdepartmental collaboration will be required to implement measures aimed at tackling obesity and in the preparation and implementation of legislation, and as envisaged in the Programme for Government, extensive stakeholder consultation would of course be necessary. However, the work which Healthy Ireland has undertaken over the years in identifying and developing relationships with stakeholders, and most recently through the development of the Strategic Action Plan, provide a strong basis upon which to work with stakeholders to examine the issues and implications involved.

Departmental Funding

 305. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly the funding for Healthy Ireland in each year since its establishment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17685/21]

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Frankie Feighan): Information on Frankie Feighan Zoom on Frankie Feighan The Health and Wellbeing Programme in my Department is responsible for coordinating the implementation of Healthy Ireland which is the National Framework for Improved Health and Wellbeing 2013-2025. Healthy Ireland is based on evidence and experience from around the world which clearly shows that to create positive changes in health and wellbeing takes the involvement of the whole of Government and all of society working in unison. Since Healthy Ireland was launched in March 2013, my Department has developed several policies and strategies to support population health and wellbeing, including those on obesity, physical activity, sexual health, tobacco and alcohol. Given the wider “health in all policies” approach of Healthy Ireland, investment across multiple sectors, through Government Departments and their agencies and in wider society, all contributes to broad health and wellbeing in the spirit of the Healthy Ireland Framework. Since its establishment the expenditure of my Department on Healthy Ireland per annum is as follows:

  2013 €89,000;

  2014 €586,000;

  2015 €607,000;

  2016 €1,156,000;

  2017 €5,997,000;

  2018 €5,587,000;

  2019 €7,498,000;

  2020 €7,331,000.

  It is important to note that expenditure increased significantly in 2017 upon the establishment of the Healthy Ireland Fund. In addition to the Healthy Ireland Fund, expenditure is used for a number of initiatives, including the Healthy Ireland Survey.


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