455. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the future plans for a unit (details supplied) in County Dublin; if the unit will remain open in its current form; if not, the changes that will be made; the rationale behind such planned changes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52847/13 asked on 10 Dec 2013 - Child Care Services Provision)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I have been advised by the HSE that Crannóg Nua in Portrane, Co. Dublin will cease providing High Support services in May 2014 once the current residents complete their interventions and move on to their next placements. Crannóg Nua will then undergo a period of refurbishment and enhancement in order to bring the standard of the current facilities up to the level of security required to provide Special Care services from that ...

479. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Health the progress that has been made in the past six months towards making the holders of long-term illness cards eligible for free general-practitioner care; the legislative timetable for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52590/13 asked on 10 Dec 2013 - Medical Card Eligibility)

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): The Government is committed to introducing, on a phased basis, a universal GP service within its term of office, as set out in the Programme for Government and the Future Health strategy framework. 
It became clear that the legal and administrative framework required to provide a robust basis for eligibility for a GP service based on having a particular medical condition, as outlined in the Programme for Government, was likely t...

79. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons in receipt of rent allowance at present; the number of such in each county; and the total cost of same. (Question 52173/13 asked on 04 Dec 2013 - Rent Supplement Scheme Data)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): The purpose of the rent supplement scheme is to provide short-term support to eligible people living in private rented accommodation whose means are insufficient to meet their accommodation costs and who do not have accommodation available to them from any other source. There are approximately 81,000 rent supplement recipients for which the Government has provided over €403 million for 2013. A breakdown of rent supplement recipients by county ...

116. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the number of applicants on the waiting list for local authority housing at the time of the latest figures available; and the number on the lists in each housing authority area. (Question 52169/13 asked on 04 Dec 2013 - Local Authority Housing Waiting Lists)

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O’Sullivan): In accordance with Section 21 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2009, I directed all housing authorities to carry out a summary of the social housing assessments carried out in their administrative areas as at 7 May, 2013. Results from this assessment will be available later this month. The previous summary of social housing assessments was carried out as at 31 March, 2011...

117. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the financial provision that has been made by his Department to provide social housing in the 2014 budget; and if he will provide a breakdown of that figure for the various types of provision. (Question 52170/13 asked on 04 Dec 2013 - Social and Affordable Housing Expenditure)

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O’Sullivan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 117 and 118 together.
My Department’s 2014 Estimate includes a provision in excess of €223 million for capital expenditure and €302 million for current expenditure for housing in 2014. The 2014 capital provision includes €40 million for local authority housing, €40.9 million for voluntary and co-operative housing, €3 million for Social Inclusion, €109.4...

118. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the numbers of social housing that will be provided in 2014 from the budget provision for same; and the expected cost per unit for same. (Question 52171/13 asked on 04 Dec 2013 - Social and Affordable Housing Expenditure)

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O’Sullivan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 117 and 118 together.
My Department’s 2014 Estimate includes a provision in excess of €223 million for capital expenditure and €302 million for current expenditure for housing in 2014. The 2014 capital provision includes €40 million for local authority housing, €40.9 million for voluntary and co-operative housing, €3 million for Social Inclusion, €109.4...

119. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the total number of persons deemed to be homeless in the State; and the number of such in each county. (Question 52172/13 asked on 04 Dec 2013 - Homeless Persons Data)

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O’Sullivan): Traditionally it has been difficult to quantify the number of homeless persons on an ongoing basis; this is in part a consequence of the volatility within this cohort of housing need. However, during the course of 2013 the Pathway Accommodation & Support System (PASS), which commenced operation in Dublin in 2011, is being extended nationally. When PASS is fully implemented it will prov...

184. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if the rules of the NCT scheme can be examined in order that a vehicle which passes an NCT after initially failing has the new NCT certificate awarded from the date the car is roadworthy and not from the date the previous NCT disc expired; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 51204/13 asked on 28 Nov 2013 - National Car Test)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): Under the Road Safety Authority Act 2006 (Conferral of Functions) Order 2006 (S.I. No. 477 of 2006) the Road Safety Authority has responsibility for the delivery of the National Car Test. The RSA has overall responsibility for the operation, oversight, development, quality assurance and delivery of vehicle testing arrangements. In accordance with EU Directive 2009/40/EC, the minimum requirement for roadworthiness testing of passen...

52. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Finance the reason the pensions fund levy did not make a distinction between those members who were still paying into a scheme and therefore have an opportunity to increase payments into their fund and those who are not; if the levy could be amended in recognition of this distinction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 51066/13 asked on 27 Nov 2013 - Pensions Levy)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 52 and 53 together.
An annual stamp duty levy of 0.6% applies in each of the four years from 2011 to 2014, to the market value on the valuation date (generally 30 June each year) of assets under management in pension funds and pension plans approved under Irish tax legislation. I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that this includes occupational pension schemes, Retirement Annuity Contracts, Personal Retirement ...

53. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Finance if retired pensioners and holders of personal retirement bonds could be exempt from the pensions fund levy in view of the fact that the levy is being imposed on funds they are no longer paying into; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 51067/13 asked on 27 Nov 2013 - Pensions Levy)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 52 and 53 together.
An annual stamp duty levy of 0.6% applies in each of the four years from 2011 to 2014, to the market value on the valuation date (generally 30 June each year) of assets under management in pension funds and pension plans approved under Irish tax legislation. I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that this includes occupational pension schemes, Retirement Annuity Contracts, Personal Retirement ...

55. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Finance if consideration has been given to rental income being allowable against the local property tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 51081/13 asked on 27 Nov 2013 - Property Taxation Application)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): The Inter-departmental group, chaired by Dr Don Thornhill, to consider the design of a property tax (the “Thornhill Group”) recommended that the Local Property Tax paid in respect of a rented property should be deductible for income tax or corporation tax purposes, in a similar manner to commercial rates. The Government accepted the recommendation of the Thornhill Group in principle, but has not considered the manner or the timing in which this will...

56. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Finance with reference to the former Irish Bank Resolution Corporation loan book, if the same discounts offered to interests willing to buy the loan book in bulk will be offered to the person who has an individual loan with the former IBRC; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 51082/13 asked on 27 Nov 2013 - IBRC Loans)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): I have been advised by the Special Liquidators that they have corresponded with all IBRC borrowers, providing them with an opportunity to make written representations on the method of disposal of their loans and the criteria for determining who may bid for loan assets. The Special Liquidators are under instruction to ensure that the valuation of all IBRC assets is completed by 30 November 2013 and that the sale of all IBRC assets is agreed or comple...

129. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will outline the employment schemes that are directed at persons who are over 55 years of age; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 51083/13 asked on 27 Nov 2013 - Employment Support Services)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): The Department of Social Protection funds and manages a number of employment schemes with the objectives for providing a mix of policy responses and opportunities for person who are unemployed. All programmes are open and accessible to person aged 55 years and over. No specific actions are undertaken or targeted at unemployed persons in this age group.
 ...

136. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if any provisions are in place for a car that is not in use but is not off the road as the owner does not have sufficient space to store a car (details supplied) and can this car remain untaxed as it is not in use; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 51080/13 asked on 27 Nov 2013 - Motor Tax Exemptions)

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): Vehicles are required to be taxed if they are in use in a public place. Motor tax legislation provides that reference to the use of a vehicle includes keeping or leaving a vehicle stationary. The Non-Use of Motor Vehicles Act 2013 did not change the law in this regard and accordingly, making a declaration of non-use in respect of a vehicle kept in a public place does not affect the requirement for such a vehicle ...

625. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Health if an application for a medical card will be examined in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Dublin; if an account of the Health Service Executive policy for assessing self-employed persons will be given; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 50530/13 asked on 26 Nov 2013 - Medical Card Applications)

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White) (Deputy Alex White): The Health Service Executive has been asked to examine this matter and to reply to the Deputy as soon as possible. The Health Service Executive operates the General Medical Services scheme, which includes medical cards and GP visit cards, under the Health Act 1970, as amended. It has established a dedicated contact service for members of the Oireachtas specifically for queries relating to medical cards and GP...

441. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the amount of revenue raised from 50% rates in place on vacant buildings for Dublin City Council, Cork City Council and Limerick City Council in 2011, 2012 and to date in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 49038/13 asked on 19 Nov 2013 - Commercial Rates)

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): The information requested is not available in my Department.
 ...

82. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to any cases of persons retiring at 65 qualifying for jobseeker’s benefit for nine months but then failing a means test for jobseeker’s allowance for the three months before their entitlement to their old age pension at 66; her plans to examine this with a view to ensuring persons on modest incomes maintain a payment in the three months until they are 66; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48425/13 asked on 13 Nov 2013 - Jobseeker’s Allowance Eligibility)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Jobseeker’s benefit is a weekly payment to people out of work and covered by social insurance. If a person does not qualify for JB they may qualify for means tested jobseeker’s allowance. The Revised Estimates for the Department provide for expenditure on the jobseeker’s schemes of €3.66 billion in 2013.
Budget 2013 provided that the duration for which jobseeker’s benefit is paid has been reduced from 12 months to 9 months for recipients with ...

211. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Finance the number of private health insurance policies that will be directly affected by the measures announced in budget 2014; the VHI plans that will be affected; the percentage of VHI policies this represents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 46793/13 asked on 05 Nov 2013 - Health Insurance Prices)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 211 and 212 together.
I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that based on 2012 data, the most up to date data available, it is estimated that up to 577,000 policy holders, which provide cover for 1.1 million individuals, may be affected by this measure. The Revenue estimate is based on an analysis carried out on the annual returns and the gross premium prices (i.e. before tax relief at source is applied) submitte...

212. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Finance the VHI insurance plans that will not be affected by the measures announced in budget 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 46794/13 asked on 05 Nov 2013 - Health Insurance Prices)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 211 and 212 together.
I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that based on 2012 data, the most up to date data available, it is estimated that up to 577,000 policy holders, which provide cover for 1.1 million individuals, may be affected by this measure. The Revenue estimate is based on an analysis carried out on the annual returns and the gross premium prices (i.e. before tax relief at source is applied) submitte...

334. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if any studies have been conducted by his Department on the reading habits of children under 12 years of age, outside of reading required for school; if he will provide the results of these studies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 46727/13 asked on 05 Nov 2013 - Literacy Levels)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): I propose to take Questions Nos. 334 and 335 together.
In 2009 the Educational Research Centre carried out the most recent National Assessment of Mathematics and English Reading. The study looked at the achievement of children in second and sixth classes. The study asked a series of questions about reading for fun and reading at home as well as borrowing books from the library. Overall the study found that pupils’ value and enjoyment o...

335. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the way the reading habits of children under 12 in Ireland compare with the European Union average; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 46728/13 asked on 05 Nov 2013 - Literacy Levels)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): I propose to take Questions Nos. 334 and 335 together.
In 2009 the Educational Research Centre carried out the most recent National Assessment of Mathematics and English Reading. The study looked at the achievement of children in second and sixth classes. The study asked a series of questions about reading for fun and reading at home as well as borrowing books from the library. Overall the study found that pupils’ value and enjoyment o...

378. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the trade agreements that are in place between Ireland and Colombia; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 46697/13 asked on 05 Nov 2013 - Trade Agreements)

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): I propose to take Questions Nos. 378 and 379 together.
The competence for trade negotiations lies with the European Union. The trade agreement between the European Union and its Member States and Colombia and Peru, was signed in June, 2012. The agreement with Peru was provisionally applied from 1 March, 2013, and following Colombia’s internal procedures for ratification, the agreement with Colombia was provisionally applied ...

379. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the trade agreements that exist between the European Union and Colombia; when these agreements were signed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 46698/13 asked on 05 Nov 2013 - Trade Agreements)

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): I propose to take Questions Nos. 378 and 379 together.
The competence for trade negotiations lies with the European Union. The trade agreement between the European Union and its Member States and Colombia and Peru, was signed in June, 2012. The agreement with Peru was provisionally applied from 1 March, 2013, and following Colombia’s internal procedures for ratification, the agreement with Colombia was provisionally applied ...

407. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of times since January 2012 that companies looking to invest in Ireland have been shown industrial units in an area (details supplied) in County Dublin as potential sites to set up business; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 46707/13 asked on 05 Nov 2013 - IDA Site Visits)

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): I am informed by IDA Ireland that the data on site visits by potential investors is tracked on a county by county basis. Balbriggan is part of county Dublin and, in the period from January 2012 to date, there have been a total of 372 site visits by potential investors to the Dublin area – City and County.As Ireland competes for high quality investments, the concept of scale is crucial. Leading global corporations require a s...

554. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Social Protection the position regarding the setting up of an Intreo office in Balbriggan, County Dublin; if she will expedite the matter in view of the need for job supports in this area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 46705/13 asked on 05 Nov 2013 - Social Welfare Offices)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): I propose to take Questions Nos. 554 and 555 together. 
The delivery of over 60 One-Stop-Shop Intreo Offices is a major property project for the Office of Public Works which is responsible for the provision of the Department’s property requirements, including refurbishment and fit out works.
The Intreo Project requires the acquisition and development of some new properties and the re-modelling and refurbishment of others. All of this also enta...