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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 300-319
 Header Item Child Abuse
 Header Item School Accommodation
 Header Item Schools Building Projects
 Header Item School Places
 Header Item Social Welfare Schemes
 Header Item Social Welfare Payments
 Header Item State Pensions
 Header Item Employment Schemes
 Header Item Social Welfare Payments
 Header Item Social Welfare Payments
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries
 Header Item Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries
 Header Item Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries
 Header Item Child and Family Agency
 Header Item Direct Provision System
 Header Item Direct Provision System
 Header Item Wards of Court

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1008 No. 3
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 91 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 300-319

Child Abuse

 300. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley the arrangements in place to pay redress to persons who were abused as children in schools in the past in line with rulings in the case of a person (details supplied); the amount paid out to date in compensation; if applications for compensation are being still accepted; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30378/21]

Minister for Education (Deputy Norma Foley): Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley As you are aware, the ex gratia scheme was established on foot of the specific circumstances arising from and in response to the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) relating to Louise O'Keeffe. 

The Department undertook to review the scheme in response to a determination by the Independent Assessor, Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill that one of the criteria for eligibility is incompatible with the ECtHR judgement.

The issues involved are highly sensitive and complex and require very careful deliberation before proposals can be finalised and brought to Government.  It is important to have a more complete awareness of the extent of the problem, the number of people who could potentially be involved, the legal implications of any course of action, and an accurate estimate of likely costs before introducing any modifications to the scheme. 

Officials from my Department are closely engaged with officials from the Attorney General’s office to work through these complex matters.  This work has now been significantly advanced, following some unavoidable delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  A proposal for a revised scheme is now being finalised for legal advice in consultation with officials in the Office of the Attorney General and following this, the proposal will be considered by Government.

Pending completion of the review no new applications to the scheme are being accepted.

Payments have been made to a number of victims of child sexual abuse in day schools on foot of the assessments made by the Independent Assessor to the ex gratia scheme, Mr. Justice Iarfhlaith O'Neill. 

The current position is that sixteen offers of payment of €84,000 have been made and all sixteen have been accepted.

School Accommodation

 301. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley when a decision will be made on an appeal against a decision not to provide additional accommodation for a school (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30387/21]

Minister for Education (Deputy Norma Foley): Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley I can confirm that my Department is in receipt of an application for capital funding, under the Additional School Accommodation Scheme, from the school authority referred to by the Deputy. 

Officials from my Department have been communicating with the school authority and as a result of additional information provided, the application is now progressing.  On completion of the assessment process a decision will be relayed, directly, to the school authority.

Schools Building Projects

 302. Deputy Cathal Crowe Information on Cathal Crowe Zoom on Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Education Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley the status of the acquisition of a site for a school (details supplied). [30389/21]

Minister for Education (Deputy Norma Foley): Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley I can confirm for the Deputy that Clare County Council have finalised the legal conveyancing on a plot of land in the centre of Kilrush which was acquired from a third party landowner.

  As the Deputy is aware, a master planning exercise is nearing completion by Clare County Council (assisted by this Department) in order to determine the best technical layout for the site.

  Once this process is completed, Clare County Council will undertake a transfer of the site for the school to my Department in accordance with the protocols for the transfer of state property assets between state bodies.

  It is not possible to provide further information at this stage. I can reassured the Deputy that the matter is being prioritised and that further announcements will be made to all concerned parties, when it becomes possible to do so.

School Places

 303. 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 if her attention has been drawn to the waiting list for school places in a school (details supplied); her plans to address the matter by way of additional places for the first year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30393/21]

Minister for Education (Deputy Norma Foley): Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department is aware of increasing pressures and demand for additional post-primary school places in a number of school planning areas, including school planning areas in Balbriggan, Co. Dublin.

  Where capacity issues arise it may not be as a result of lack of accommodation but may be driven by the following factors:

  - Duplication of applications – pupils have applied for a place to a number of schools in the area

  - School of choice –  pupils can’t get a place in their preferred school while there are places in other schools in the town/area

  - Some towns/areas have single sex schools and while places are available in the school there are not available to all pupils

  - External draw – pupils coming from outside the local area

  Until these issues are discussed with the relevant school authorities the true extent of any capacity issue will only become known.

   Similar to the process adopted in advance of the current academic year, my Department is engaging with patron bodies, including patrons in Balbriggan, Co. Dublin, to identify particular capacity requirements for the forthcoming year(s) which may necessitate action including, where required, the provision of modular accommodation solutions.

Social Welfare Schemes

 304. Deputy Joan Collins Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if she will extend the free travel pass to epilepsy patients given that it is the only mode of transport for them due to their illness. [30330/21]

 306. Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú Information on Ruairí Ó Murchú Zoom on Ruairí Ó Murchú asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if she plans to assist persons who lose their driver licence due to a diagnosis of epilepsy or breakthrough seizures by extending free travel to those living with epilepsy; the rationale for excluding this cohort from the free travel scheme; if she will carry out a review of the scheme with a view to including persons with epilepsy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30316/21]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys I propose to take Questions Nos. 304 and 306 together.

The Free Travel scheme provides free travel on the main public and private transport services for those eligible under the scheme. These include road, rail and ferry services provided by companies such as Bus Átha Cliath, Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann, as well as Luas and services provided by over 80 private transport operators. There are currently approx. 996,000 customers with direct eligibility. The estimated expenditure on free travel in 2021 is €95 million.

In general, access to a free travel pass for those aged under 66 is linked to a person being in receipt of certain primary Social Protection payments such as Disability Allowance, Invalidity Pension, Carer’s Allowance, Blind Pension and Partial Capacity Benefit.

Extending the free travel scheme to people with epilepsy during the period in which they are disallowed from driving cannot be considered in isolation. There are a range of disabilities and medical conditions that can prevent a person from holding a driving licence and to award a free travel pass to any one of these conditions in isolation would immediately result in calls for all people who are not allowed to hold a driving licence because of their medical condition to receive the free travel pass and could result in challenges under the Equal Status Act.

If the Free Travel scheme were to be extended to all people who are not allowed to drive due to their disability, regardless of whether they receive a qualifying payment, a medical assessment process would be required for all such applications, significantly changing the nature of the scheme and requiring additional administrative processes to be put in place in order to adjudicate eligibility. Significant extra funding would also be required and accordingly, it could only be considered in the context of overall budgetary negotiations.

Under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance scheme, my Department may award a travel supplement, where the circumstances of the particular case so warrant. The supplement is intended to assist with ongoing or recurring travel costs that cannot be met from the client’s own resources and are deemed to be necessary. Every decision is based on consideration of the circumstances of the individual case, taking account of the nature and extent of the need and of the resources of the person concerned.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputies.

Social Welfare Payments

 305. Deputy Claire Kerrane Information on Claire Kerrane Zoom on Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the number of persons by county in receipt of jobseeker’s allowance and jobseeker’s benefit. [30277/21]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the table below.

County of residence Jobseeker's Allowance Jobseeker's Benefit
Carlow
2,360
546
Cavan
2,757
699
Clare
4,066
1,452
Cork
11,460
4,482
Donegal
8,484
1,428
Dublin
33,436
12,609
Galway
7,711
2,181
Kerry
5,026
2,061
Kildare
5,195
1,982
Kilkenny
3,044
876
Laois
2,861
719
Leitrim
1,512
287
Limerick
5,610
1,709
Longford
1,946
333
Louth
5,320
1,276
Mayo
5,302
1,150
Meath
4,663
2,340
Monaghan
2,025
549
Offaly
2,603
768
Roscommon
1,979
539
Sligo
2,580
584
Tipperary
5,380
1,348
Waterford
4,981
1,153
Westmeath
3,175
899
Wexford
6,173
1,674
Wicklow
4,018
1,268
Unknown
213
414
Total
143,880 
45,326 

  Question No. 306 answered with Question No. 304.

State Pensions

 307. Deputy Bríd Smith Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the full savings to the State of changes to the contributory and non-contributory pension entitlements, for example, as a result of changes in bands for contributory pensions, the ending of the transition pension and other changes which resulted in State savings in each year since 2009, in tabular form. [30329/21]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys In order to provide for sustainable pensions and to facilitate a longer working life, successive Governments have considered the sustainability challenges faced by the Pensions system.  Population projections indicate that Ireland will undergo significant demographic changes between 2020 and 2050.  The number of State pension recipients will continue to rise.  The pensioner support ratio will decline from 4.9 workers for every individual over age 66 to 2.9 in 2035 to 2.0 by 2055.  Sustainability is vital if the current workers, who fund State pension payments through their PRSI contributions, are to receive a pension themselves when they reach retirement age.

  Expenditure on State Pensions is both multi-faceted and inter-related - driven by a combination of  primary rates, allowances values, entitlement rules, recipient numbers and claim duration, amongst other things. 

  In the period referenced in the question (post 2009), there have been a number of reform and policy measures including changes to the State Pension rate bands (2012), closing off of the State Pension Transition (2014), introduction of the Interim Total Contributions Approach (2018), increases in the basic rate of State Pension occurred 4 times (in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019), and recipient numbers have been increasing continuously over the period.

  Due to the interaction between policy measures, rate changes and demographics over the period, it is not possible to disaggregate the impact of the various changes. 

  Tables reflecting both expenditure and recipient numbers on State Pension Contributory and State Pension Non-Contributory have been set out below.  As can be seen from the tables, there are more than 163,000 additional pension recipients between 2009 and 2019, across both schemes.

  Annual expenditure on the two schemes is now over €6.6Bn - representing an increase of over €2.2Bn in 10 years.  In percentage terms, 2019 expenditure is 152% of what it was in 2009.   

  As the Deputy will be aware, a Commission on Pensions has been established to examine a range of issues including sustainability, age, eligibility, contributions and calculation methods.  Once it has concluded its deliberations, the Commission will report to Government by June of 2021.  The Government will respond on its report within 6 months.

  I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

  Table 1 - State Pension (Contributory) Recipients and Expenditure 2009 - 2019

Year Recipients Expenditure (€million)
2009 265,102 3,367.73
2010 280,419 3,451.50
2011 296,995 3,622.75
2012 312,314 3,802.80
2013 329,531 3,983.26
2014 346,420 4,185.23
2015 361,725 4,475.69
2016 377,062 4,662.37
2017 394,378 4,915.85
2018 411,660 5,216.96
2019 431,224 5,603.13


  Table 2 - State Pension (Non-Contributory) Recipients and Expenditure 2009 - 2019
Year Recipients Expenditure (€million)
2009 97,798 1,000.55
2010 97,179 977.29
2011 96,749 971.77
2012 96,126 963.21
2013 95,801 952.46
2014 95,570 954.41
2015 95,179 972.21
2016 95,221 982.14
2017 95,140 994.74
2018 95,268 1,020.25
2019 94,854 1,042.83

Employment Schemes

 308. Deputy Alan Dillon Information on Alan  Dillon Zoom on Alan  Dillon asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the criteria used to develop a new model for employment services; the engagement that had taken place with existing providers of local employment services; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30344/21]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys My Department has recently published a request for tender (RFT) for employment services for seven counties in the north-west and midlands.  These new services, in areas of the State where no Local Employment Services (LES) currently operate, will constitute a significant expansion of employment services.  My Department expects to have these new services up and running in the third quarter of this year.  This RFT has no impact on existing Local Employment Service providers.  

The current approach for contracting with the existing Local Employment Services has been in place for over 20 years, with no formal competitive procurement being undertaken during that period.  This is not in compliance with the requirements of good governance or national and EU procurement rules.  My Department is, therefore, developing a series of RFTs to be published later in the year to procure contracted employment service provision including those delivered by the Local Employment Services.

The revised employment services models are informed by the 2019 Indecon Reviews of Job Clubs and Local Employment Services, a more recent external consultants review of employment services and the necessity of complying with legal advice to competitively procure future employment services contracts.  This legal advice is unequivocal and ignoring it would potentially expose my Department to legal challenge. 

My Department engaged comprehensively with the sector in the lead-up to this procurement process, with site visits to all local employment services and job clubs and extensive engagement with the Irish Local Development Network, the umbrella body for most LES and job clubs.  In addition, the external consultants engaged by the Department consulted with a cross section of the sector in the preparation of its review.

Organisations, including LES and Job Club providers, with strong experience in the delivery of similar services at a community and local level, will be in a strong position to work collaboratively in responding to the RFTs when they issue.

Social Welfare Payments

 309. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard J. Durkan Zoom on Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if a full review of the case of a person (details supplied) can be undertaken with a view to reimbursing payment that was taken from their weekly payment in respect of an overpayment that was never proven to have been paid to them directly; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30436/21]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys Social Welfare legislation states that the person with whom a qualified child normally resides is the person to whom Child Benefit is payable.

  The customer concerned received Child Benefit for a period during which the child did not reside with her.  As a result she was not entitled to Child Benefit for that period and a revised decision was made to disallow Child Benefit from August to October 2006.

  This resulted in an overpayment of €450.  The customer was notified of the decision in November 2006.

  The Department has already reviewed this matter in response to earlier parliamentary questions on this same matter and is satisfied that the payments referred to issued to the person concerned.  The payment was issued to the same Post Office as other earlier child benefit payments made to the person concerned.  Social Welfare payments made at Post Offices must be collected in person by the customer they issue to.  

  I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Social Welfare Payments

 310. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard J. Durkan Zoom on Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Social Protection Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys if a person (details supplied) is in receipt of all social welfare payments they are entitled to under the social welfare code; if application forms will be provided for payments they may qualify for; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30438/21]

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Heather Humphreys): Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys Carer's allowance (CA) is a means-tested social assistance payment, made to persons who are providing full-time care and attention to a person who has such a disability that they require that level of care.

  If a person is in receipt of another social welfare payment in their own right (other than unemployment payments or supplementary welfare allowance) or being claimed as a qualified adult on their spouse/partner's payment, a half-rate CA can be paid as long as all the normal conditions for receipt of CA are satisfied.

  These conditions require that the applicant is habitually resident in the State, must be providing full-time care and attention to a person who has such a disability that they require full-time care and attention and their means must be below the statutory limit.

  The person concerned is in a receipt of a State Pension (Contributory) pension.  As he currently satisfies the qualifying conditions, CA is paid at half-rate.

  CA recipients automatically qualify for the Carer's Support Grant (CSG), an annual payment of €1,850, which is not means-tested or taxed, Free Travel and, if they are living with the care recipient, the Household Benefits package. 

  They can also register for a GP Visit card through the Health Service Executive.

  The person concerned is in receipt of all payments he is entitled to under the Carers Allowance scheme. Further information on all Social Welfare entitlements is available on www.gov.ie.

  I hope this clarifies the position for the Deputy.

Departmental Expenditure

 311. Deputy Kathleen Funchion Information on Kathleen Funchion Zoom on Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman the breakdown of the costs of his Department’s budget for the provision of after school in early years and childcare in tabular form. [30276/21]

Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (Deputy Roderic O'Gorman): Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth runs a number of Early Learning and Care schemes. The schemes are administered by Pobal on behalf of the DCEDIY.

  The below table contains the Department’s core funding programmes and supports. The table displays the total budget allocation for each programme.

Programme Programme Allocation
ECCE €289.3m
AIM €35m
NCS and Savers €205.5m


Of the three schemes, only the NCS and Savers includes an after school component. It is estimated that, of the budget allocation for NCS and Savers (€205.5m), approximately €65m   is intended for school-aged childcare.

Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries

 312. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman when the evaluation commissioned by his predecessor into the Mother and Baby Homes Collaborative Forum undertaken by a person (details supplied) in 2019 will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [30299/21]

 313. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman The learnings that have been taken from the operation of the Mother and Baby Homes Collaborative Forum; the improvements that will be made for future collaboration; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30300/21]

Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (Deputy Roderic O'Gorman): Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman I propose to take Questions Nos. 312 and 313 together.

The Collaborative Forum of former residents of mother and baby homes and related institutions was established in 2018 to facilitate survivors to identify, discuss and prioritise the issues of concern to them and their families. This process was established to support dialogue with survivors and their representatives while the statutory Commission of Investigation was conducting its examination of related matters.  This important context was recognised in the published Charter, which set out the general functions of the Forum and provided a blueprint for its methodology and programme of work.

Our learnings from the Forum process primarily centre on the fundamental importance and value of structured engagement and consistent communication with survivors. I recognise that many survivors want to contribute to the development of solutions to the issues of concern to them and their families. As the Deputy will be aware, I have personally engaged with survivors and advocacy groups since my appointment and will continue to engage with those most centrally involved with these matters.

For these reason, I am committed to ongoing engagement with survivors and their advocates in the context of the 22 actions approved by Government in responding to the findings of the Commission. These measures, which take account of the Commission's recommendations and those of the Collaborative Forum, are intended to respond to the priority needs and concerns of former residents and their families.

Notably, several hundred survivors have contacted my Department since the Commission’s report was published in January.  Many of these individuals had never been in contact with my Department before. This increased level of engagement is also evident from the consultation process established to inform development of a Restorative Recognition Scheme, with approximately 450 written submissions received and 159 participants in 17 online meetings.

As I have previously outlined, our experience to date tells us that stakeholder engagement at this level requires additional dedicated structures, processes and resources to ensure it can be inclusive, effective and sustainable. I held two virtual meetings with members of the Collaborative Forum in February during which future arrangements for stakeholder engagement was a specific agenda item. The Facilitator to the Forum has engaged in detailed discussions with individual members in relation to a preliminary proposal in this regard. I understand this process is nearing completion and look forward to hearing their feedback. The experience of Forum members, and other stakeholders with whom I have engaged, will assist the development of a new and enhanced model of engagement.

As I have acknowledged previously, the Collaborative Forum process, including the initiated formative evaluation, was unfortunately interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. After its meeting in December 2019, it was considered necessary to postpone plenary meetings in 2020 in the context of the public health restrictions. A number of members travel from outside the jurisdiction and some were in the at-risk groups identified by public health authorities. 

The formative evaluation into the Collaborative Forum was commissioned by the then Minister with a view to informing decisions on operation of that model and identifying priority issues for further consideration. In this regard, the outcome of the process can equally contribute to current deliberations on the design and implementation of an appropriate model to support engagement.

In parallel with the arrangements being advanced to facilitate publication of the Forum’s report, I expect to be able to share the outcome of the evaluation with Forum members in the coming weeks.  My Department will engage directly will Forum members in this regard.

  Question No. 313 answered with Question No. 312.

Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries

 314. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman when the Oak Report relating to the Mother and Baby Homes Collaborative Forum will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30301/21]

Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (Deputy Roderic O'Gorman): Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman As part of its response to the Final Report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes (and Certain Related Matters), the Government has committed to establishing a Restorative Recognition Scheme for survivors of mother and baby and county home institutions. This scheme will include a restorative recognition payment and a form of enhanced medical card.

An Interdepartmental Group (IDG) was established to develop detailed proposals for the Restorative Recognition Scheme, which must then be brought to Government for approval.

To support and inform the work of the IDG, a public consultation process took place during March and April. This public consultation was undertaken by OAK on behalf of my Department. The input from survivors to that consultation is invaluable in order to develop a scheme that will have their needs at its core. I was delighted with the strong response to the consultation process. Approximately 450 written submissions were received and 17 online meetings were held, with one of these meetings specifically arranged for members of the Collaborative Forum. OAK submitted their final report on the consultation process to the IDG on 17th May.

The development of this scheme is a priority for me and I am aware that the IDG are working extremely hard to ensure that they deliver their report to me very soon. Following this, I will submit recommendations to Government for a decision on the Scheme. The consultation report prepared by OAK and submitted to the IDG will be published after Government has concluded its deliberations.

Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries

 315. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman when the report of the Mother and Baby Homes Collaborative Forum will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30302/21]

Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (Deputy Roderic O'Gorman): Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman It was not possible to publish the report from the Collaborative Forum when it was first submitted to the then Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, because of concerns that its contents encroached upon the work of the independent statutory Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes.  For this reason, the Forum's recommendations were initially published and a commitment was given to revisit the question of publication following the completion of the Commission's work. 

Arrangements are currently being advanced by my Department to address the procedural requirement for identifiable parties to be afforded due process prior to publication.

I expect this process to be completed in the coming weeks. I will then be in a position to engage further with the Collaborative Forum and finalise arrangements for the publication of the report.

Child and Family Agency

 316. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman if his Department has in place a service level agreement with Tusla; if his attention has been drawn to a series of issues (details supplied); and if he will provide a full update in respect of the issues outlined. [30303/21]

Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (Deputy Roderic O'Gorman): Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth has an Oversight Agreement with Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. The Oversight Agreement meets the requirements of the Code of Practice for Governance of State Bodies. It outlines the purposes and responsibilities of Tusla, its legal framework, working environment, and governance arrangements between the Department and the Agency. The Oversight Agreement is reviewed on an annual basis by both parties, and signed by the Secretary General of the Department and the Chief Executive Officer of the Agency.

It is not appropriate for me to comment on issues outlined by the Deputy but I can confirm that my Department has been made aware of these concerns and they are being addressed with Tusla.

Direct Provision System

 317. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman the status of the inter-Departmental work engaged in by his Department with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage with respect to the delivery of accommodation for those in direct provision in addition to the other accommodation commitments provided for in the White Paper on Ending Direct Provision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30306/21]

Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (Deputy Roderic O'Gorman): Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman As identified in A White Paper to End Direct Provision and to Establish a New International Protection Support Service, the Housing Agency will be a major partner with my Department for successful implementation. A number of meetings have been held with the Housing Agency and work is ongoing to develop a Memorandum of Understanding and an action plan.

Another key stakeholder in the implementation of the White Paper will be the Local Authorities. Meetings have begun with the sector with engagement with the County and City Management Association (CCMA) and Local Government (LGMA). The CCMA is currently working on developing an allocation key for phase two accommodation. The purpose of the allocation key will determine in advance the relative proportion of international protection applicants to be accommodated in each Local Authority area and will take account of applicant needs, population density, housing need and availability of relevant public services in each county. The development of this allocation key is a high priority for the early stage of the project.  It is understood that the CCMA will consider and agree the allocation key later this month. 

Direct Provision System

 318. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman the estimated costs of translating the White Paper on Ending Direct Provision into Irish, Albanian, Arabic, French, Georgian, Somali and Urdu; the service providers contracted for this purpose; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30307/21]

Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (Deputy Roderic O'Gorman): Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman A White Paper to End Direct Provision and to Establish a New International Protection Support Service, was published on 26 February 2021, along with translations of the Executive Summary into Irish, Albanian, Arabic, French, Georgian, Somali and Urdu.  The service provider was Word Perfect, with whom my Department has a contract, and the cost including VAT was €3,780.65. These translations were designed to ensure that the White Paper would be accessible to a wide range of international protection applicants.

  The Deputy can access these translated summaries on my Department's website, www.gov.ie/dcediy, and also on, www.gov.ie/en/publication/7aad0-minister-ogorman-publishes-the-white-paper-on-ending-direct-provision/.

Wards of Court

 319. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman the number of young persons who are currently receiving out-of-State care after having been taken into wardship; the facilities in which they are receiving this out-of-State care; the amount the State has paid in out-of-State care costs in respect of young persons in each of the years 2015 to 2020 and to date in 2021; the number of young persons in receipt of out-of-State care in each of the years 2015 to 2020 and to date in 2021 after having been declared wards of court; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30391/21]

Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (Deputy Roderic O'Gorman): Information on Roderic O'Gorman Zoom on Roderic O'Gorman On very rare occasions, the level of specialist psychiatric or therapeutic intervention required to treat a child in the care of the State is not available in Ireland. If the child has a serious psychiatric condition,  for which there is no appropriate facility in Ireland,  a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist may recommend to the Court that the child requires treatment in a secure hospital. In such situations, Tusla will, as necessary, initiate proceedings seeking to have a child declared a ward of court. This provides the legal authority to allow for treatment of the child  in suitable secure facilities out of state.

I have asked Tusla for a detailed breakdown of the number of children under Wardship arrangements placed abroad and the cost of secure placements. We will share this information with you at the earliest convenience. As you can appreciate, the impact of the recent cyber-attack on HSE systems has disrupted the normal functioning of Tusla’s information systems.

Tusla works in partnership with the specialist service with a view to the child returning to their primary placement or another appropriate placement in Ireland. In the course of any out of state placements (foster care, open therapeutic residential care and secure treatment and care) the child’s social worker visits the child, monitors their care and progress and adjust the child's care plan as necessary. Their Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist keeps abreast of the child’s psychiatric progress.


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