207. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Health the position regarding the national review of hospital cark park charges; if free parking for those suffering from other long-term life threatening illnesses in addition to cancer patients will be considered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20610/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Hospital Car Parks)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): In March, I requested that the HSE carry out a review of hospital car parking charges, with the aim of establishing clear national guidelines in this area. The review will involve the relevant stakeholders and will take account of the income generated by charges, the impact of any reduction in car parking income on hospital services and the views of patient advocacy groups. The HSE expects that the review will be completed by mid 2018.
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210. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Health if he will request the Health Service Executive to provide a comprehensive status report of plans for refurbishment, renovation and new building works at a hospital (details supplied) as committed to in its capital plan in view of the fact that it is the second quarter of 2018; the position regarding the appointment of a design team; the progress made subsequent to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20614/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Hospitals Building Programme)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): As the Health Service Executive is responsible for the delivery of health care infrastructure projects, the Executive has been requested to reply directly to you in relation to the development at St. Columbas Hospital in cloghabrody, Co Kilkenny.
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262. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the position regarding broadband services for a crèche (details supplied) which is located within the blue area on the national broadband plan map but cannot access sufficient broadband services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20524/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Broadband Service Provision)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): 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 broadband. This will increase to nearly 8 out of 10 premises by the en...

202. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Health if a medical card will be expedited for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20378/18 asked on 09 May 2018 - Medical Card Applications)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly.
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253. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if the possibility of increasing wages paid to child care practitioners to reflect the qualifications they must possess to work within the industry will be investigated; the position regarding the reduction of childcare fees for working parents; her views on whether the significant expenses associated with childcare are effectively a deterrent to first time parents that genuinely want to work; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20340/18 asked on 09 May 2018 - Child Care Services)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I wish to acknowledge the critical role played by staff working in the childcare sector in delivering high quality childcare services. They deserve to be recognised, valued and respected for this.  My Department does, however, acknowledge that pay and conditions are major issues facing the sector. My Department is engaging with the early years sector to explore how this can be addressed.
In relation to pay and conditions for t...

29. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the measures being taken to ensure that small and medium enterprises are not adversely affected by commercial rate revaluations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19855/18 asked on 08 May 2018 - Commercial Rates Valuation Process)

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: Local authorities are under a statutory obligation to levy rates in respect of any property used for commercial purposes in accordance with the details entered in the valuation lists prepared by the independent Commissioner of Valuation under the Valuation Acts 2001 to 2015. The Commissioner of Valuation has responsibility for valuation matters, including the revaluation of properties, and is independent in the performance of his functions under the Acts. The levying and ...

45. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the amount of funding provided to counties Carlow and Kilkenny under the local improvement scheme in 2017; his plans to announce a new local improvement scheme in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19107/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Local Improvement Scheme Funding)

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Michael Ring): The Local Improvement Scheme (LIS) is a programme for improvement works on small private/non-public roads. The scheme is currently funded by my Department and administered through the Local Authorities.
In 2017, I allocated a total of €17.4 million to County Councils around the country under the LIS scheme under two tranches. The table below sets out the funding provided to counties Carlow and Kilkenny under the scheme in 2017...

54. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the reason for delays in the provision of funds by his Department to local action groups for approved projects under the Leader programme; the average waiting time for the provision of funding to local action group from his Department following final approval for projects under the programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19106/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Leader Programmes Funding)

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Michael Ring): LEADER is a multi-annual programme for the period 2014-2020 which has a total budget of €250 million over the programming period.  LEADER is administered by Local Action Groups (LAGs) which deliver funding in accordance with Local Development Strategies that have been agreed for each LAG area.  Each LAG has been given a funding allocation for the duration of the programme.  Project applications are made to, and approved by, the ...

92. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 353 of 19 April 2018, if special funding for a person (details supplied) will be granted; the position regarding scholarships and bursaries for students studying abroad; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19159/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Student Grant Scheme)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): The main support available to assist students with the cost of higher education is the student grant scheme. SUSI’s online system for the 2018 Scheme is now open. Students attending college in the academic year 2018/19 are required to submit their grant application to SUSI (via www.susi.ie) to have their eligibility for grant assistance assessed. 
Students attending approved undergraduate courses in the EU can apply for a maintenance gr...

100. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the application by a school (details supplied) for a permanent extension will be expedited in view of serious health and safety concerns expressed by key community and education officials; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19240/18 asked on 02 May 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 discussed the matter with the school and I understand that the school is providing certain confirmations to my Department. The application will be considered further following receipt of the school’s response.
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122. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Health if he is satisfied there are adequate measures in place to assist qualified Irish speech and language therapists who have trained in the UK and wish to return here to work (details supplied); if he is further satisfied that the regulations are not overly burdensome on speech and language therapists and ultimately counterproductive to addressing shortage of therapists here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19162/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Health Care Professionals)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): The Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 seeks to protect the public by providing a system of statutory registration for designated health and social care professions, including that of Speech and Language Therapist. 
Statutory regulation is a system underpinned by law whereby each member of a profession is recognised by a specified body as competent to practice within that profession. As a legally binding process, with a mechanism for the pros...

20. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the progress regarding the cost-benefit analysis of the regional veterinary laboratory network, including the regional veterinary laboratory in County Kilkenny which was due to be completed within six months of its commencement in late 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18289/18 asked on 26 Apr 2018 - Veterinary Inspection Service)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Following a competitive tender process, my Department has commissioned a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) of options that have been proposed for the future development of the Regional Veterinary Laboratories (RVLs). The team conducting the CBA includes internationally-recognised, independent experts in economic analysis and animal disease surveillance. It is currently engaged in research work such as gathering financial data, visi...

25. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the balancing 2017 GLAS payments will be issued to farmers in view of the financial pressure and stress caused by the recent bad weather and subsequent fodder shortage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18290/18 asked on 26 Apr 2018 - GLAS Payments)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): The GLAS scheme surpassed the original target of 50,000 participants well ahead of the targeted date - such is the popularity of the scheme. Given that the first approvals under the scheme run from 1 October 2015 it is a remarkable achievement to have exceeded this target within a period of 15 months. GLAS 2017 advance payments have now issued to over 47,000 applicants, representing over 99% of all participants that are eligib...

164. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if an application process is available through Coillte through which a person can seek funding for the provision of a cycle track in a Coillte forest; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18386/18 asked on 26 Apr 2018 - Forestry Sector)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Coillte was established as a private commercial company under the Forestry Act, 1988 and day-to-day operational matters, such as the management of its forest estate, are the responsibility of the company.
The company has, however, advised that Coillte does not have an application process in place for funding of such cycle trails, as it does not fund such developments. Coillte added, however, that it does consider third party p...

28. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the measures contained within the national broadband plan to ensure equality in the roll-out of broadband services for rural areas, rural communities and regional towns; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18015/18 asked on 25 Apr 2018 - Broadband Service Provision)

Deputy Bobby Aylward: Will the Minister outline the measures contained in the national broadband plan to ensure equality in the roll-out of broadband services for rural areas, communities and regional towns?
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298. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of Garda retirements from 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 18075/18 asked on 24 Apr 2018 - Garda Retirements)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 285, 286, and 297 to 317, inclusive, together.
This Government is committed to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and to deter crime. To achieve this the Government has put in place a plan for an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021 comprising 15,000 Garda members, ...

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.
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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...