39. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his views on Fine Gael MEPs who voted in favour of a European Parliament report requesting each member state to spend 2% of its GDP on defence; if such a proposal could be considered Government policy; the measures he has taken to ensure that the State’s contribution to the Athena funding mechanism will not be required to increase as common costs of EU missions rise; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20218/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Defence Forces Expenditure)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): With regard to defence spending, Government policy is defined within the parameters of our national budgetary process and role of Dáil Éireann. Within the EU, it is accepted that defence and security is a national competence, including national spending on defence and security. 
As part of Ireland’s participation in Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), Ireland has committed to regularly increase our defence budgets in real ...

41. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the status of the actions taken by his Department on foot of the decision of the European Committee of Social Rights to provide for the collective bargaining rights of Defence Forces personnel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20219/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Defence Forces Representative Organisations)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): The European Committee of Social Rights has considered a complaint submitted by EUROMIL, a European umbrella body for military associations, on behalf of PDFORRA, concerning the lack of certain rights for military representative associations in Ireland. 
It should be noted that the basis for the complaint pre-dates a number of Government initiatives. In relation to collective bargaining, the Permanent Defence Force (PDF) Represe...

42. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the role of the Army Ranger Wing that was stationed as part of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan on several occasions since 2006; the reason Dáil Éireann was not alerted to the fact that Irish special forces members were deployed there contrary to the neutrality of the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20217/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Overseas Missions)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 21 and 42 together.
The Army Ranger Wing (ARW) are the Special Operations Forces of the Defence Forces.
Defence Forces personnel, including ARW personnel, are deployed to United Nations peacekeeping missions in accordance with the provisions of the Defence Acts.
The statutory authority for the despatch of contingents of the Permanent Defence Force for service overseas is set out in Section 2 of t...

98. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the recommendations from the January 2006 review in the aftermath of the death of a person (details supplied); the recommendations that were not implemented; and the reason therefor. (Question 19774/18 asked on 08 May 2018 - Defence Forces Fatalities)

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Paul Kehoe): In February 2006, the then Minister for Defence received a report following an independent review conducted by Mr. Sean Hurley on the interactions between the Department of Defence/Defence Forces and the parents and family of Private Kevin Barrett in the aftermath of the tragic death of Private Barrett on 18th February 1999 while serving with UNIFIL in South Lebanon. 
Mr Hurley looked in detail at how the Department and th...

309. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health if a person (details supplied) will be granted one additional home help hour in the evenings. (Question 19874/18 asked on 08 May 2018 - Home Help Service Provision)

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Jim Daly): As this is a service matter I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.
 ...

15. D’fhiafraigh Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh den Taoiseach cén fáth nach bhfuil bogearraí ríomhaireachta OCR, atá in ann bun-siombail aibítir na Gaeilge, an fada, a aithint, ag an bPríomh-Oifig Staidrimh; agus an ndéanfaidh sé cinnte de go mbeidh a leithéid acu gan mhoill chun go gcomhlíonadh siad a mbun-dualgais ina n-iomláine go cruinn, go háirithe maidir leis an Teanga Náisiúnta. (Question 17814/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Seirbhísí agus Tacaíochtaí Gaeilge)

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Joe McHugh) (Deputy Joe McHugh): Bhain an CSO leas as bogearraí Aithint Optúil Carachtar (OCR) mar chuid den oibríocht próiseála i nDaonáireamh 2016. 
Nuair a bhí na ceistiúcháin daonáirimh bailithe ón bpobal ag an bhfoireann allamuigh, cuireadh ar ais chuig an CSO iad agus scanadh iad. Is ionann na ceistiúcháin scanta go bunúsach is grianghraf de na freagraí lámhscríofa agus déanann siad taifeadadh go cruinn ar phríomhcharachtair na...

72. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of vacancies at each rank in the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19311/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Defence Forces Strength)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I am advised by the Military Authorities that the strength of the Permanent Defence Force, at 31 March 2018, the latest date for which figures are available, was 8,993 (Whole Time Equivalent) comprising 7,229 Army, 717 Air Corps and 1,047 Naval Service Personnel. The attached table outlines the total vacancies by rank, based on the agreed establishment for the Permanent Defence Force of 9,500. In this context, it is my intention...

73. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his plans to publish the assessment submitted by the Defence Forces to his Department in February 2018 on the loss of Defence Forces personnel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19312/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Defence Forces Remuneration)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 73 and 76 to 78, inclusive, together.
In 2017, under my direction, the Department of Defence brought issues of recruitment and retention in the Defence Forces to the attention of the Public Sector Pay Commission (PSPC). As a direct result of that initiative the PSPC is now beginning an in-depth evidence based examination of those issues. 
The Public Service Pay Commission has commenced this work ...

74. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the estimated cost of restoring the scheme whereby a €22,000 bonus was paid to officers in the Air Corps over five years if they chose to extend their contracts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19313/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Defence Forces Remuneration)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 74 and 75 together.
The retention of Officers in the Defence Forces, in particular retaining Air Corps Pilot Officers, has been a challenge for the Defence Forces in recent years. The most recent Air Corps Pilot Service Commitment Scheme ran from 2002 to 2010 with the intention of retaining experienced AC Pilot Officers. 
The following table illustrates the number of personnel who availed of the ...

75. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the annual cost of the operation of the bonus scheme to retain officers in the Defence Forces for each of the ten years prior to its abolition; the number of personnel availing of the scheme; the rank of each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19314/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Defence Forces Remuneration)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 74 and 75 together.
The retention of Officers in the Defence Forces, in particular retaining Air Corps Pilot Officers, has been a challenge for the Defence Forces in recent years. The most recent Air Corps Pilot Service Commitment Scheme ran from 2002 to 2010 with the intention of retaining experienced AC Pilot Officers. 
The following table illustrates the number of personnel who availed of the ...

76. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence when his Department’s submission to the Public Service Pay Commission will be completed; when the report on the issues affecting pay and retention of personnel will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19315/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Defence Forces Remuneration)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 73 and 76 to 78, inclusive, together.
In 2017, under my direction, the Department of Defence brought issues of recruitment and retention in the Defence Forces to the attention of the Public Sector Pay Commission (PSPC). As a direct result of that initiative the PSPC is now beginning an in-depth evidence based examination of those issues. 
The Public Service Pay Commission has commenced this work ...

77. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if the paper prepared by military authorities as part of the joint submission to the Public Service Pay Commission will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19316/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Defence Forces Remuneration)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 73 and 76 to 78, inclusive, together.
In 2017, under my direction, the Department of Defence brought issues of recruitment and retention in the Defence Forces to the attention of the Public Sector Pay Commission (PSPC). As a direct result of that initiative the PSPC is now beginning an in-depth evidence based examination of those issues. 
The Public Service Pay Commission has commenced this work ...

78. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if he has met with representatives of an organisation (details supplied) on the submission to the Public Service Pay Commission; if the views of the organisation will be included in the joint submission process; if the terms of reference of the examination by the commission includes meeting with representatives of the Defence Forces personnel, including the organisation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19317/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Defence Forces Remuneration)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 73 and 76 to 78, inclusive, together.
In 2017, under my direction, the Department of Defence brought issues of recruitment and retention in the Defence Forces to the attention of the Public Sector Pay Commission (PSPC). As a direct result of that initiative the PSPC is now beginning an in-depth evidence based examination of those issues. 
The Public Service Pay Commission has commenced this work ...

118. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health the reason a person (details supplied) has had only two procedures; and if the procedure will be carried out on a regular basis. (Question 19150/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Health Services Provision)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): 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, a standardised approach to managing ...

191. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application by a person (details supplied) for a disability allowance. (Question 19249/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Disability Allowance Applications)

Minister of State at the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Finian McGrath): I confirm that my department received an application for disability allowance (DA) from this lady on 5 April 2018. On completion of the necessary investigations on all aspects of the claim a decision will be made and the person concerned will be notified directly of the outcome. The processing time for individual disability allowance claims may vary in accordance with their relative compl...

124. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Skills the schools in County Dublin which have an ASD unit; the number of children attending each; the number of pupils awaiting access to an ASD unit in those and other schools, respectively; and his plans to address the shortfalls in available places for children with needs that can be catered for by an ASD unit. (Question 18560/18 asked on 01 May 2018 - Special Educational Needs Service Provision)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): It is the policy of my Department that all children with Special Educational Needs, including those with Autism, can have access to an education appropriate to their needs, preferably in school settings through the primary and post primary school network. 
Such placements facilitate access to individualised education programmes which may draw from a range of appropriate educational interventions, delivered by fully qualified professional...

164. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a school (details supplied) increased its fees for music lessons by 50%; and if this increase will be reconsidered in view of the fact that this will be untenable for students that are already struggling to meet the financial costs of studying. (Question 18933/18 asked on 01 May 2018 - School Fees)

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy John Halligan): In 2014, my Department established the ‘Committee for Non-Mainstream Department of Education and Skills funded Music Education’. The Committee was established to, inter alia, oversee the work of organisations in receipt of funding by the Department of Education and Skills in relation to non-mainstream music education.
In its engagement with organisations including CDETB, the Committee has suggested that emphasis...

213. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health the status of hip replacement surgery for a person (details supplied); and when the individual can expect a date for the surgery to be performed in St. James’s Hospital. (Question 18559/18 asked on 01 May 2018 - Hospital Appointments Status)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): 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, a standardised approach to managing ...

282. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Health the status of an application by a person (details supplied) for a home care package to enable them to be discharged from hospital; and when a decision will issue. (Question 18886/18 asked on 01 May 2018 - Home Care Packages Provision)

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Jim Daly): As this is a service matter I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy as soon as possible.
 ...

422. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application by a person (details supplied) for a disability allowance; and when a decision will be made on his or her case. (Question 18870/18 asked on 01 May 2018 - Disability Allowance Applications)

Minister of State at the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Finian McGrath): I confirm that my department received an application for disability allowance from this gentleman on 11 December 2017. The processing time for individual DA claims may vary in accordance with their relative complexity in terms of the three main qualifying criteria, the person’s circumstances and the information they provide in support of their claim. 
On 9 March 2018, 28 March 2018, 13 Apr...

625. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht when she will re-establish the decade of centenaries all-party committee which has not met since February 2016. (Question 17923/18 asked on 24 Apr 2018 - Commemorative Events)

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Josepha Madigan): In the lead up to the State’s commemoration of the centenary of the events of 1916, the All-Party Consultative Group on Commemorations proved very constructive.  In the upcoming years to 2023, and the various historical events falling to be remembered, such input will again be beneficial in informing the State Commemorative Programme for the remainder of the Decade of Centenaries.
Last September, my predecessor Minister H...

120. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the CSO was misrecording personal details when inputting census returns, in particular surnames and personal names which contained fadas; if such practices will cease; and the steps he will take to correct the recorded data to date. (Question 15800/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Central Statistics Office Administration)

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Joe McHugh) (Deputy Joe McHugh): CSO collects first names and surnames on census questionnaires to ensure that the full population is counted on the night of the census and to assist census enumerators in checking that all relevant questions have been answered on the census forms.
It is incorrect to assert that CSO misrecorded personal details in processing the census returns. CSO accurately records an image of every census questionnai...

121. D’fhiafraigh Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh den Taoiseach an raibh sé ar an eolas go raibh foireann de chuid na Príomh-Oifige Staidrimh ag ionchur sonraí pearsanta sa Daonáireamh is déanaí go mícheart trí shíntí fada a fhágáil ar lár; an aontaíonn sé go bhfuil an cleachtas seo i gcoinne na Gaeilge agus teangacha eile ina n-úsáidtear síntí fada nó siombailí eile i litriú a n-ainmneacha pearsanta agus a sloinnte; an eiseoidh sé treoir go bhfuil sé seo mídhleathach agus ag teacht salach ar ról na foirne maidir le taifead beacht ar shonraí Dhaonáireamh 2016 a stóráil; agus an ndéanfaidh sé an cheist a phlé. (Question 15801/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Seirbhísí trí Ghaeilge)

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Joe McHugh): Bailíonn an Phríomh-Oifig Staidrimh túsainmneacha agus sloinnte ar cheistneoirí daonáirimh chun a chinntiú go ndéantar an daonra iomlán a chomhaireamh ar oíche an daonáirimh agus chun cabhrú le háiritheoirí daonáirimh le linn dóibh deimhin a dhéanamh de gur freagraíodh gach ceist ar na foirmeacha daonáirimh.
Tá sé mícheart a rá go ndearna an Phríomh-Oifig Staidrimh míthaifeadadh ar mhionsonraí pearsanta le linn tuairisceái...

160. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the running and maintenance costs of Columb Barracks, Mullingar, across headings (details supplied). (Question 16066/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Army Barracks Closures)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Since the closure of Columb Barracks in 2012, my Department has explored a number of avenues to try and secure its long term future for the benefit of the local community. Government Departments and other Public Bodies, including Westmeath County Council, have been invited to declare an interest in acquiring the property. However no interest has been expressed from any of these bodies.
In May 2016 officials from my Department at...

211. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Finance if VAT charges will be removed from the rental of disability aids during the interim period when the person is awaiting the delivery or installation of same; the reason that when disability aids are purchased, they are exempted from VAT but VAT is charged when hiring disability aids; and his views on whether this charge should be removed or reimbursed to persons who had to await delivery and installation of the disability aid. (Question 16067/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Tax Code)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): I am advised by The Revenue Commissioners that the VAT rating of goods and services is subject to EU VAT law, with which Irish VAT law must comply. In accordance with the EU VAT Directive, the supply of the rental of a disability aid is considered to be a service of hiring and is liable to VAT at the standard rate, currently 23%. The VAT Directive provides for particular categories of goods and services to which a Member State may apply a lower VA...