9. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Health the steps he and the Health Service Executive have taken regarding the issue of children affected by foetal anticonvulsant syndrome, FACS, in circumstances in which children were exposed to sodium valproate medicines in the womb; his plans to conduct a review of the families and children affected by this issue; his further plans to set up a compensation scheme for the families affected in view of the compensation scheme set up in France; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17017/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Medicinal Products Regulation)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): I thank the Deputy for raising this important question. I had an excellent meeting with FACS Forum Ireland two or three weeks ago in Leinster House. A number of Deputies had requested the meeting. I met FACS Forum Ireland with representatives of my Department and the HSE.
Sodium valproate is a medicine licensed for use in Ireland to treat epilepsy and bipolar disorder, and is marketed in Ireland under the brand name Epilim. It is now well establishe...

70. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Health his plans to examine a number of proposals to improve cardiac care in the south east including the deployment of a modular laboratory that will allow for diagnostic angiograms and intervention procedures; the position regarding efforts by UHW management to recruit additional staff to extend the operation of the existing cath lab by 20%; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17018/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Hospital Services)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Following an independent review of the need for a second cath lab in University Hospital Waterford (UHW), the Herity report concluded that the needs of the effective catchment population for Waterford University Hospital could be accommodated within a single cath lab. Funding has been provided to support extension of the existing cath lab operating hours to 12 weekly sessions per week, or by 20%, as recommended in the Herity Report. Recruitment efforts...

152. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he is satisfied that a purpose built school (details supplied) for pupils with a moderate, severe or profound general learning disability, including pupils with autism within these categories, has sufficient access to the NEPS services, including in-services training and school support; the steps he will take to rectify this inequality and ensure that the 15 teachers and 32 SNAs have access and equality to in-service training and school support; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17241/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - National Educational Psychological Service)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): I can inform the Deputy that my Department’s National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) has not extended service to special schools, including that to which the Deputy refers in his question, who traditionally received multi-disciplinary services, including psychology from HSE services or bodies funded by the HSE.
I can also inform the Deputy that the school in question has been afforded access to the Scheme for the Commissioning ...

153. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of an additional school accommodation application by a school (details supplied); if the project will be expedited; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17242/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Schools Building Projects Applications)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): I can confirm that my Department has received an application for additional accommodation from the school referred to by the Deputy. 
The application is currently under consideration and a decision will be conveyed to the school as soon as this process has been completed.
 ...

239. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Health if the €80 charge imposed by certain hospital groups on persons with haemochromatosis requiring venesection will be removed as recommended by an association (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17180/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Hospital Charges)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): The Health Act 1970 (as amended) provides that all people ordinarily resident in Ireland are entitled, subject to certain charges, to public in-patient hospital services including consultant services and to public out-patient hospital services. Under Section 52 of the Health Act 1970, as amended by Section 12 of the Health (Amendment) Act 2013, a person who has been referred to a hospital for an in-patient service, including that provided on a day case ...

353. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if special funding for a person (details supplied) will be granted; if a special funding scheme to support exceptionally talented young persons under 18 years of age will be investigated, with a view to its introduction; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17237/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Arts Funding)

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Josepha Madigan): The Arts Council is the principal agency through which current funding is channelled to artists and arts organisations. The Arts Council provides funding for a number of bursaries including a Music bursary award to support professional artists to develop their art practice, although I understand that applicants are only eligible to apply for such funding on reaching 18. My Department will however refer the case to the Art...

172. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Health if he will publish the review of the pricing system for long-term residential care facilities as recommended within the review of the fair deal scheme; if an independent appeals mechanism will be introduced within the fair deal scheme to provide third party recourse for nursing home providers that fail to agree a fee with the NTPF and in an effort to bring greater transparency to the fair deal pricing mechanism; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16969/18 asked on 18 Apr 2018 - Nursing Homes Support Scheme Review)

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Jim Daly): The Report of the Nursing Homes Support Scheme (NHSS) Review published in 2015 identified a number of issues for more detailed consideration, including a review of pricing mechanism by the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF), with a view to: 
- Ensuring value for money and economy, with the lowest possible administrative costs for clients and the State and administrative burden for providers; 
- Increasing the transparency ...

232. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the qualifying criteria for the telephone allowance due to be reinstated in October 2018; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16914/18 asked on 18 Apr 2018 - Telephone Support Allowance)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The new weekly Telephone Support Allowance (TSA) of €2.50 will be paid from June 2018. People in receipt of the Living Alone Allowance and the Fuel Allowance will automatically qualify for the TSA. It is expected that approximately 124,176 customers will qualify for the scheme and the estimated full year cost is €16.14 million. 
The primary objective of the TSA is to allow the most vulnerable people access to perso...

44. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of new Garda recruits assigned to each Garda station in counties Carlow and Kilkenny in each of the years 2014 to 2017 and to date in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16547/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Garda Deployment)

Deputy Charles Flanagan: The distribution of Garda personnel, including the allocation of newly attested gardaí, is the statutory responsibility of the Garda Commissioner. Notwithstanding this, I have provided in tabular form the detailed information requested by the Deputy. He will be aware from the replies to his previous questions that we are anxious to ensure the acting Commissioner will be able to provide additional resources across all divisions, including Kilkenny and Carlow, as new Gar...

458. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of an application by a school (details supplied) for a permanent extension; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16411/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - School Accommodation Provision)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): The school to which the Deputy refers was approved a grant under my Department’s Additional Accommodation Scheme 2017 to provide a resource room.  
Additional funding was approved by my Department in February 2018 following a submission from the school and the scope of works was increased to bring the overall level of accommodation to be provided to 2 resource rooms.
The school reverted to my Department in March 2018 requesting approval ...

459. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of an application by a school (details supplied) for additional school accommodation due to a growth in roll numbers; if funding will be granted for the installation and rental of two prefabricated buildings to accommodate two extra classes from 1 September 2018 for the 2018/2019 academic year until a permanent solution is agreed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16412/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - School Accommodation Provision)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): I can confirm that my Department has received an application for additional accommodation from the school referred to by the Deputy.
My Department has requested additional information from the school authority relating to the application and once this is received and considered, a decision will be conveyed to the school.
 ...

460. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of an application by a school (details supplied) for an extension and associated building works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16413/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - School Accommodation Provision)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): I can confirm that my Department has received an application for additional accommodation from the school referred to by the Deputy.
The application will be assessed and a decision will be conveyed to the school authority as soon as the assessment process is completed.
 ...

1013. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Health his plans to reopen the pre-discharge unit, PDU, in Kilcreene Orthopaedic Hospital, County Kilkenny, to bring 26 beds back on stream for use as stepdown, rehabilitation or respite to alleviate congestion at St. Luke’s Hospital, County Kilkenny; if the possibility of utilising the four private rooms in the PDU Kilcreene to accommodate isolation patients and in turn take high infection cases out of an acute setting at St. Luke’s Hospital will be investigated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16656/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Hospital Services)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to you directly as soon as possible.
 ...

1014. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Health the position regarding the future of Kilcreene Orthopaedic Hospital, County Kilkenny; his plans to utilise same to alleviate emergency and elective orthopaedic waiting lists in Waterford regional hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16657/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Hospital Services)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to you directly as soon as possible.
 ...

1015. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Health his views on the adequacy of measures in place to recruit and retain highly skilled nurses here and abroad; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16658/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Nursing Staff Recruitment)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): The Government and the HSE remain committed to recruiting and retaining nurses and midwives in the public health service. As part of the Nursing Recruitment and Retention Agreement with the INMO and SIPTU, the HSE agreed to appoint 1,224 additional nurses and midwives in 2017. The HSE is finalising the report setting out progress on implementation of the Agreement as at end December 2017. Indications are that there has been significant growth in the ...

1095. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he is considering derogation from the three-crop rule for 2018 due to the late planting season ruling out certain crop choices; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 15882/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Tillage Sector)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): The difficult and prolonged winter of 2017, and very late and wet spring, has caused great difficulties for both livestock and tillage farmers in Ireland.
Tillage farmers in receipt of the greening payment are required to comply with the obligations that exist under the Crop Diversification and Ecological Focus Area measures. Under Crop Diversification farmers with greater than 30 hectares of arable land are required to have ...

1127. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of a GLAS payment for a farmer (details supplied); the reason for the delays in processing this payment, which are placing undue financial hardship on the person and the person’s family and business; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16454/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - GLAS Payments)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): The person named was approved into GLAS 2 with a contract commencement date of 1 January 2016 and has received all payments in respect of 2016.
Administrative checks involving a number of sections within the Department take place on all GLAS claims. My Department is making every effort to complete the checks required and once this case clears validations the 2017, advance payment will be made. GLAS payments are continuing to ...

1227. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to increase the number of non-EU work permits to allow an organisation (details supplied) to fill vacancies in the truck driving industry; the working terms and conditions of those employed in the industry with specific reference to wage structures; the position regarding the roll-out of the three-year HGV driver apprenticeship by the organisation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 15308/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Haulage Industry)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Following a review carried out by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, during which my Department was consulted, non-EU/EEA HGV drivers were removed temporarily from the Ineligible Categories of Employment List, subject to a maximum quota of 120 general employment permits under the Employment Permit Regulations 2017 effective from 3 April 2017.
It is my understanding from the Department of Business, Enterprise and I...

63. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Finance the status of the implementation of the recommendations made in the report by his Department’s working group on reducing the cost of motor insurance; the number of recommendations that have not been implemented to date; the reason for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 13924/18 asked on 27 Mar 2018 - Motor Insurance Costs)

Minister of State at the Department of Finance (Deputy Michael D’Arcy): The cost of insurance working group’s report on the cost of motor insurance was published in January 2017 and makes 33 recommendations with 71 associated actions to be carried out in agreed timeframes, which are set out in an action plan.
In line with the commitment to publish quarterly update reports on the implementation of the recommendations, the working group has published four update reports to date, most recently on 2...

52. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the number of additional staff which were hired or allocated to the passport office in the past 12 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 13441/18 asked on 22 Mar 2018 - Departmental Staff)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): The Full Time Equivalent (FTE) Staff permanently employed by my Department and assigned to the Passport Service on January 1 for 2017 was 301.7 and in 2018: 322.5.
This year, since these figures were released, over 20 permanent staff have started with the Passport Service.
In order to respond to seasonal demands and anticipated application increases, the Passport Service received sanction this year for 220 Temporary Cler...

272. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a further review of the entitlements of a person (details supplied) will be carried out under the basic payment scheme allocated to same in 2015/2016; if an oral hearing will be held if necessary to ensure as thorough a review as possible; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 13117/18 asked on 21 Mar 2018 - Basic Payment Scheme Eligibility)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): On foot of a meeting with the person named and in response to PQ 23222/17, a review of the entitlement details for the person named from the year 2000 to 2017 took place in May 2017. A comprehensive response was issued at that time effectively closing the query.
In the event that the person named is dissatisfied with the response previously given, he may exercise his right to contact the Agriculture Appeals Office regarding th...

273. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a confidential phone line will be established within his Department for persons with literacy or learning difficulties or that have problems with understanding or interpreting his Department’s cross compliance handbook; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 13118/18 asked on 21 Mar 2018 - Departmental Communications)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): My Department aims to ensure that the needs of all its customers, including people with disabilities, are met and that the rights of equal treatment are upheld in the delivery of services.
In accordance with Section 26(2) of the Disability Act 2005, I have appointed two Access Officers who are responsible for providing, or arranging for, assistance and guidance to persons with disabilities accessing services provided by my Dep...

274. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he is satisfied that the appointment of two access officers is sufficient in providing assistance to persons with disabilities that contact his Department; if the two access officers have received sufficient training in assisting persons with literacy or learning difficulties that may have problems with understanding or interpreting his Department’s rules and regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 13119/18 asked on 21 Mar 2018 - Services for People with Disabilities)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): I wish to inform the Deputy that in accordance with Section(2) of the Disability Act 2005, I have appointed two Access Officers in my Department, who are available to deal with any requests to provide assistance and guidance to persons with disabilities in accessing services provided by my Department. 
I am satisfied that two Access officers are adequate to deal with the volume of requests from persons with disabilities who co...

763. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his attention has been drawn to allegations of wrongdoing in the horse racing industry which have been referred to An Garda Síochána by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine (details supplied); his views on his Department or the committee seeking an update from An Garda Síochána in respect of this case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 12913/18 asked on 20 Mar 2018 - Horse Racing Industry)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Horse Racing Ireland is a commercial State Body responsible for the overall administration, promotion and development of the horse racing industry.
As the Deputy refers to potential allegations of criminality which are to be reported to the Gardaí, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further on this matter.
 ...

804. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of premises within the blue areas of the national broadband map that cannot access a high speed broadband connection nationally; the number of premises within the blue areas of the national broadband map that cannot access a high speed broadband connection nationally on his Department’s database; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 12914/18 asked on 20 Mar 2018 - National Broadband Plan Data)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): I propose to take Questions Nos. 804 to 806, inclusive, together. 
The Government’s National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to ensure high speed broadband access (minimum 30 megabits per second) to all premises in Ireland, regardless of location. The NBP has been a catalyst in encouraging investment by the telecoms sector. Today, almost 7 out of 10 of the 2.3 million premises in Ireland have access to high speed b...