42. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Health the action being taken to ensure that rural Ireland has sufficient general practitioner cover; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17092/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - General Practitioner Services Provision)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): General Practitioners play an important role in the primary care system. The number of General Practitioners on the specialist register continues to increase – up from 2,270 in 2010 to 3,637 at the end of 2017 and the number of GPs contracted by the HSE under the GMS scheme has also risen from 2,098 in 2008 to 2,485 as of 1 April 2018. 
The Government is aware of the manpower issues facing general practice and has taken steps to increase the numbers of...

97. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Health his views on whether the general practitioner workforce can be increased by 1,000 as recommended by the Health Service Capacity Review; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17093/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - General Practitioner Services)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): General Practitioners play an important role in the primary care system. The number of General Practitioners on the specialist register continues to increase – up from 2,270 in 2010 to 3,637 at the end of 2017 and the number of GPs contracted by the HSE under the GMS scheme has also risen from 2,098 in 2008 to 2,485 as of 1st April 2018. 
The 2018 Health Service Capacity Review proposes a number of estimates of between 4,790 and 4,970 General Practitio...

113. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he discussed with the British Secretary of State the need to resume talks between the Irish and British Governments and the political parties in Northern Ireland to restore the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17323/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Good Friday Agreement)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): I propose to take Questions Nos. 113 and 114 together.
Over the course of many months, the Irish and British Governments, as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement, have worked tirelessly to support and facilitate the parties in their efforts to form an Executive. 
The devolved, power-sharing institutions of the Good Friday Agreement are the best means for achieving accountable, representative decision-making for all...

114. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he discussed with the British Secretary of State plans to convene the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17324/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Good Friday Agreement)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): I propose to take Questions Nos. 113 and 114 together.
Over the course of many months, the Irish and British Governments, as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement, have worked tirelessly to support and facilitate the parties in their efforts to form an Executive. 
The devolved, power-sharing institutions of the Good Friday Agreement are the best means for achieving accountable, representative decision-making for all...

257. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 288 of 29 March 2018, when discussions will commence with general practitioner representatives on contractual issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17347/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - General Practitioner Contracts)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Officials from the Department of Health have been working with their counterparts in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the HSE to ensure that the planned engagement with general practitioner representatives is fully focused on the priorities of the Government’s health reform agenda and measures to better address the strategic challenges facing the service.
There is no confirmed date at this point in time for the commencement of the con...

301. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when the two independent studies into the proposed North-South Interconnector will be received; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17327/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - North-South Interconnector)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): The North South Interconnector, as proposed as an overhead line, now has full planning permission in both Ireland and Northern Ireland.  Following engagements with representative groups and Oireachtas members in relation to the motions passed in Dáil and Seanad Éireann early last year I commissioned two independent studies into the project. The studies are designed to address the main points of the motions as ...

318. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to increase the financial allocation to local authorities for the non-national road network in view of the increasing costs of road repairs and the substantial damage caused to this road network due to adverse weather conditions over the past number of months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17334/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Roads Maintenance Funding)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of local authorities, in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from the Council’s own resources supplemented by State road grants.  The initial selection and prioritisation of works to be funded is also a matter for the local authority.
I announced the 2018 regional and local road a...

350. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the level of funding that will be provided to Monaghan County Council for 2018 in respect of housing construction, purchase of houses, upgrading of existing housing stock and funding for housing grant schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17341/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Local Authority Housing Provision)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): I propose to take Questions Nos. 350 and 351 together.
In respect of delivering new social housing homes, whether through construction, acquisition or other approaches, no precise advance allocation of funding is made to individual local authorities. Instead, funding is drawn down by the local authorities, in line with the level of advancement they make in delivering new social housing. In that regard, I have issued soc...

351. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the level of funding that will be provided to Cavan County Council for 2018 in respect of housing construction, purchase of houses, upgrading of existing housing stock and funding for housing grant schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17342/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Local Authority Housing Provision)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): I propose to take Questions Nos. 350 and 351 together.
In respect of delivering new social housing homes, whether through construction, acquisition or other approaches, no precise advance allocation of funding is made to individual local authorities. Instead, funding is drawn down by the local authorities, in line with the level of advancement they make in delivering new social housing. In that regard, I have issued soc...

352. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if improvements will be introduced at an early date to the tenant purchase scheme to enable Part V tenants and tenants in receipt of a social welfare payment who are in a financial position to purchase their homes to participate in this scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17343/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Tenant Purchase Scheme Review)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): The Tenant (Incremental) Purchase Scheme came into operation on 1 January 2016. The Scheme is open to eligible tenants, including joint tenants, of local authority houses that are available for sale under the Scheme. To be eligible, tenants must meet certain criteria, including having a minimum reckonable income of €15,000 per annum and having been in receipt of social housing support for at least one year.
The minimum ...

41. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her plans to introduce a scheme such as the Enterprise Stabilisation Fund that was introduced in 2009 to assist businesses that face particular difficulties due to Brexit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16795/18 asked on 18 Apr 2018 - Brexit Supports)

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): The Department has undertaken significant research and consultation to better understand the challenges posed by Brexit for businesses in Ireland, and based on this work has designed a suite of supports for impacted businesses. I recently launched a €300 million Brexit Loan Scheme.  This scheme is designed to assist eligible businesses exposed to negative impacts resulting from Brexit in adjusting, changing, or adapting...

46. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the level of ongoing contacts between her Department and its counterpart in Northern Ireland and with the industrial development agencies North and South in regard to dealing with Brexit related issues that are common to all of the island; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16796/18 asked on 18 Apr 2018 - Brexit Issues)

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): My Department works closely with its counterpart in Northern Ireland - the Department for the Economy - regarding the operation of InterTrade Ireland (ITI), the cross-border body that assists SMEs all across the island in growing North-South trade.  
ITI has been very active in working to assist businesses in Ireland address the particular challenges that Brexit may present for cross-border commerce. My Department has p...

97. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a proposed building project for a school (details supplied); when this project will proceed to construction stage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17000/18 asked on 18 Apr 2018 - Schools Building Projects Status)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): The Deputy will be aware that a building project for the school to which he refers is included in my Department’s 6 Year Construction Programme. 
In this regard, the proposed development is at project brief stage. The next step involves the commencement of the architectural planning process and my Department will be in further contact with the school in this context. 
 ...

119. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the specific programmes to assist small and medium enterprises that face particular difficulties due to Brexit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16996/18 asked on 18 Apr 2018 - Brexit Supports)

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): My Department is continuing to work hard to help Irish businesses across the country to withstand the challenges and avail of the opportunities posed by Brexit. The long-term response to Brexit is for companies to become more competitive, more innovative, and to diversify their export footprint into more markets.
In response to Brexit, EI has introduced a range of new supports, streamlined others, and launched a Global ...

120. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the specific programmes that will be introduced to assist enterprises and businesses that are heavily or totally dependent on the British market for exports in view of the challenges that have already occurred and the further difficulties that will arise from Brexit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16997/18 asked on 18 Apr 2018 - Brexit Supports)

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): I, as Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, am acutely aware that many Irish exporters are highly reliant on the UK as their primary export destination. My Department is central to the Government wide effort to prepare Irish enterprises and our wider business ecosystem for Brexit. Steps already taken include Budget 2018 (and 2017), our Trade and Investment Strategy published in March 2017 and through the Act...

121. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her plans and the plans of the State’s industrial promotion agencies to assist in 2018 in the maintenance of existing employment and in job creation throughout County Cavan; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16998/18 asked on 18 Apr 2018 - Regional Action Plan for Jobs)

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): I propose to take Questions Nos. 121 and 122 together.
The North East/North West Regional Action Plan for Jobs is a key policy response for supporting employment growth in the Border region. The Plan is stimulating job creation across the region, including Counties Cavan and Monaghan, by facilitating collaborative initiatives between the public and private sector, and through the provision of new competitive funds, awa...

122. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her plans and the plans of the State’s industrial promotion agencies to assist in 2018 in the maintenance of existing employment and in job creation throughout County Monaghan; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16999/18 asked on 18 Apr 2018 - Regional Action Plan for Jobs)

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): I propose to take Questions Nos. 121 and 122 together.
The North East/North West Regional Action Plan for Jobs is a key policy response for supporting employment growth in the Border region. The Plan is stimulating job creation across the region, including Counties Cavan and Monaghan, by facilitating collaborative initiatives between the public and private sector, and through the provision of new competitive funds, awa...

128. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if there are proposals to participate in a cyber security project at EU level under PESCO; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 15413/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Cyber Security Policy)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): PESCO is a mechanism provided for in the Treaty of the European Union to enable participating member States to come together and, on a project by project basis, jointly develop military crisis management capabilities for use in support of the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) operations and missions in support of international peace and security. 
Ireland is a strong proponent of the important role the EU can play i...

281. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Finance his plans to introduce tax relief on membership subscriptions to trade unions as applies to costs for membership or subscriptions to professional bodies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16817/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Tax Reliefs Availability)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): A review of the appropriate treatment for tax purposes of trade union subscriptions and professional body fees was carried out by my Department in 2016 and included in the 2016 report on tax expenditures published on budget day 2016. The review may be found at the following link:
(http://www.budget.gov.ie/Budgets/2017/Documents/Tax_Expenditures_Report%202016_final.pdf)
The review concluded that:
“...analysis of the scheme using the principles laid d...

474. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills if further consideration will be given to an application for a special class by a school (details supplied) in view of the enrolment of children for September 2018 that have particular educational needs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16735/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Special Educational Needs Service Provision)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible for organising and planning provision for children with Special Educational Needs, including the establishment of special classes in mainstream primary and post primary schools. 
Special classes offer a supportive learning environment to students with ASD who are unable to access the curriculum in a mainstream class, even with support, for most or all of their school day. S...

582. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of new Garda recruits assigned to each Garda station in counties Cavan and Monaghan from 2014 to 2017 and to date in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16569/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Garda Data)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 65, 70, 76, 79, 80, 89, 581 and 582 together. 
As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who is responsible for the distribution of resources, including personnel, among the various Garda Divisions and I, as Minister, have no direct role in the matter. Garda management keeps this distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so...

890. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Health the steps he must take to make the FreeStyle Libre glucose monitor available to all persons with diabetes based on clinical need at the discretion of their diabetes consultant; if the age barrier which was recently established by the HSE will be removed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 15983/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Medical Aids and Appliances Provision)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Under the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013, the HSE has statutory responsibility for the administration of the community drug schemes; therefore, the matter has been referred to the HSE for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.
 ...

1124. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if consideration will be given to the issues raised in correspondence (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16414/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Fodder Crisis)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): I propose to take Questions Nos. 1075, 1077, 1124, 1128 and 1137 together.
 In response to the problems experienced in parts of the West and North-West in the late autumn and winter I took a number of steps to address issues around the availability of fodder. 
 I asked Teagasc from an early stage to work locally with affected farmers in areas with fodder difficulties and support them on fodder budgeting for the winter ahead.
...

1145. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the transport subsidy will be applicable to all fodder sourced from outside our jurisdiction including Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16800/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Fodder Crisis)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): In response to the problems experienced in parts of the West and North-West in the late autumn and winter I took a number of steps to address issues around the availability of fodder.  
 I asked Teagasc from an early stage to work locally with affected farmers in areas with fodder difficulties and support them on fodder budgeting for the winter ahead.
I prioritised the payment of farm supports to assist farmers with cash flow....

1146. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to introduce a meal voucher scheme in view of the ongoing fodder shortages; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16801/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Fodder Crisis)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): I propose to take Questions Nos. 1073 and 1146 together.
 In response to the problems experienced in parts of the West and North-West in the late autumn and winter I took a number of steps to address issues around the availability of fodder. 
 I asked Teagasc from an early stage to work locally with affected farmers in areas with fodder difficulties and support them on fodder budgeting for the winter ahead.
I prioritised the ...