56. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the funding allocated to Leader programmes in counties Cavan and Monaghan in 2017; the level of funding to be provided for these programmes in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8703/18 asked on 21 Feb 2018 - Leader Programmes Funding)

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Michael Ring): Leader is a multi-annual programme covering the period 2014-2020, with a total budget of €250 million over that period. €220 million of this funding has already been allocated to the Local Action Groups throughout the country who deliver the Leader programme. The remaining €30 million is available for schemes which will be delivered at a national level.
The Funding Agreements for delivery of the Leader Programme in the Cavan a...

68. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the funding allocated for the Leader programme in 2017; the expenditure at the end of 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8704/18 asked on 21 Feb 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. 
 €220 million of the available funding has already been allocated to the 28 Leader sub-regional areas throughout the country. The remai...

142. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Health the homecare budget, including home care packages and home help services in counties Cavan and Monaghan in 2017; the provision for such services in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8906/18 asked on 21 Feb 2018 - Home Care Packages Data)

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.
 ...

182. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to launch a new sports capital programme in 2018; the expected date for such a launch; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8849/18 asked on 21 Feb 2018 - Sports Capital Programme)

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Brendan Griffin): The 2017 round of the Sports Capital Programme (SCP) closed for applications on the 24th February. By the closing date, a record number of 2,320 applications seeking €155 million in grants were received.  In November and December last, Minister Ross and I announced €60m in allocations to a record 1,800 projects under the 2017 round of the SCP.  Full details of all  these allocations are available on my...

191. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the funding allocated for the upgrading of existing childcare accommodation in counties Cavan and Monaghan and the provision of new childcare facilities in 2017; the number of new childcare places provided; the funding drawn down by the end of 2017; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8982/18 asked on 21 Feb 2018 - Child Care Services Funding)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I propose to take Questions Nos. 191 and 192 together as they relate to 2017’s Capital funding programmes for childcare, both nationally and in relation to Counties Cavan and Monaghan.
In 2017, €12.4m in total was made available for the 2017 Early Years and School Age Capital programmes, with a view to improving the quality and capacity of childcare services in Ireland. This amount was allocated in full following a competitive ...

192. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the funding allocated for the upgrading of existing childcare accommodation and the provision of new childcare facilities in 2017; the number of new childcare places provided; the funding drawn down by the end of 2017; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8983/18 asked on 21 Feb 2018 - Child Care Services Funding)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I propose to take Questions Nos. 191 and 192 together as they relate to 2017’s Capital funding programmes for childcare, both nationally and in relation to Counties Cavan and Monaghan.
In 2017, €12.4m in total was made available for the 2017 Early Years and School Age Capital programmes, with a view to improving the quality and capacity of childcare services in Ireland. This amount was allocated in full following a competitive ...

193. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the funding allocated for 2018 towards upgrading of existing childcare accommodation and the provision of new childcare facilities; the number of new childcare places to be provided with the assistance of such grant aid; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8984/18 asked on 21 Feb 2018 - Child Care Services Funding)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): The budget allocated to Early Years and School Age Childcare Capital programmes for 2018 is €6.86 million. The programmes will operate under the following five strands:
Early Years Care and Education
Strand 1: New or expanding services; €50k maximum grant size
Strand 2: Essential maintenance; €20k maximum grant size
Strand 3: Natural outdoor play area; €7k maximum grant size
School Age Childcare
Strand 4: New or expanding serv...

94. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the progress to date in the talks regarding the restoration of the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 7977/18 asked on 15 Feb 2018 - Northern Ireland)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): As co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement, the Government, working with the British Government, has spared no effort in supporting and facilitating talks on the formation of a new Executive, over many months. Fully functioning, devolved, power-sharing Institutions are the only way forward for Northern Ireland, and are urgently required.
Yesterday’s developments in Stormont, in particular the DUP statement, are obviou...

262. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the outcome of discussions he has had with his British counterpart relating to legislation in the British Parliament regarding the certification of hauliers’ licences and vehicles and its implications for the haulage industry here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 7997/18 asked on 15 Feb 2018 - Haulage Industry Cabotage Regulations)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): “The Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Bill” is designed to put in place a system of UK international road transport permits for UK operators that will then provide the option of mutual recognition between EU road transport permits (Community Licences) and UK road transport permits and facilitate continued liberalised access for commercial haulage – such a provision will be vital if the final EU/UK deal requires a permit syste...

26. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when he expects to receive the two reports that he commissioned on the proposed North-South interconnector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 7405/18 asked on 14 Feb 2018 - North-South Interconnector)

Deputy Brendan Smith: The Minister commissioned two international studies on foot of Fianna Fáil Private Members’ motions in Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann which were overwhelmingly endorsed by both Houses. Unfortunately, the two studies do not encompass all issues raised in those motions. At a recent meeting with representatives of Monaghan County Council attended by me and other Oireachtas Members, the Minister stated that he hoped to have the reports in February. When will they be complet...

68. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will publish the two reports he commissioned in regard to the proposed North-South interconnector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 7406/18 asked on 14 Feb 2018 - North-South Interconnector)

Deputy Brendan Smith: The Minister commissioned two international studies on foot of Fianna Fáil Private Members’ motions in Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann which were overwhelmingly endorsed by both Houses. Unfortunately, the two studies do not encompass all issues raised in those motions. At a recent meeting with representatives of Monaghan County Council attended by me and other Oireachtas Members, the Minister stated that he hoped to have the reports in February. When will they be complet...

120. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of pupils who completed the leaving certificate who commenced second level education in each of the years 2005 to 2012; the completion rates which these represent; the areas with the lowest completion rates in each of those years; the outcome of analysis undertaken on poor completion rates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 7683/18 asked on 14 Feb 2018 - School Completion Programme)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Second Level school completion rates are published by my Department in the annual report titled ‘Retention Rates of Pupils in Second Level Schools’. These reports can be found on my Department’s website at: https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Statistics/Statistical-Reports/Other-Statistical-Reports.html. In the most recently published data, 91.2% of students who entered secondary education in 2010 sat their Leaving Certificate. 
Re...

121. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to improve supports to help students remain in school and complete the leaving certificate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 7684/18 asked on 14 Feb 2018 - School Completion Programme)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): The School Completion Programme forms an integral part of Tusla’s educational welfare service and has the aim of increasing the numbers of young people remaining in primary and second level education and in doing so improving the numbers of pupils who successfully complete Senior Cycle. The programme is a key support for schools under the DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) programme. My Department has requested Tusla ...

268. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if specific funding will be allocated in 2018 for a road improvement programme (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 7790/18 asked on 14 Feb 2018 - Road Improvement Schemes)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Proposals to deliver an upgraded East-West route linking Dundalk to Sligo, taking in Cavan, involve linking elements of the national road network and regional roads along as direct a route as possible. Essentially the route involves upgrade/realignment works on the regional routes from Dundalk to Cavan and on national routes from Cavan to Sligo.
As regards the regional road aspect of the proposal, the improvement and maintenance of ...

269. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to ensure that provision is made in the capital plan to provide for the upgrading of an arterial route (details supplied) in view of the importance of this route for a large portion of the Border region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 7791/18 asked on 14 Feb 2018 - Road Improvement Schemes)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Proposals to deliver an upgraded East-West route linking Dundalk to Sligo, taking in Cavan, involve linking elements of the national road network and regional roads along as direct a route as possible. Essentially the route involves upgrade/realignment works on the regional routes from Dundalk to Cavan and on national routes from Cavan to Sligo.
As regards the regional road aspect of the proposal, the improvement and maintenance of ...

35. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if indications have been given at the EU Council of Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers in relation to funding level for CAP post 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 7113/18 asked on 13 Feb 2018 - Common Agricultural Policy Negotiations)

Deputy Brendan Smith: Ireland must send out a clear message it cannot countenance any reduction in the CAP budget post 2020. We all know CAP is of critical importance to farmers through direct payments. We also know those compensatory payments support our agrifood sector which has 174,000 people employed throughout the country. It is a key driver of economic activity throughout the country.
We need to get the message out that CAP is not just critical for farmers but that it is good for consum...

78. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the outcome of recent discussions at the EU Council of Agriculture Ministers on CAP reform; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 7112/18 asked on 13 Feb 2018 - Common Agricultural Policy Reform)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): At the most recent EU Council of Agriculture Ministers in January, Ministers were given the opportunity to debate the future of the CAP post 2020.  
Discussions focussed on the key objectives to be set at EU level to ensure that the CAP continues to add value after 2020, and the level of subsidiarity necessary to provide increased flexibility for Member States while maintaining the common character of the CAP, and the role of ...

432. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Health the number of persons on outpatient waiting lists awaiting eye care procedures at the end of 2016 and 2017, respectively; his plans to reduce such waiting lists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 7290/18 asked on 13 Feb 2018 - Hospital Waiting Lists Data)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): The NTPF publishes the Inpatient/Daycase and Outpatient waiting list figures by specialty for each hospital on its website each month. This information is available at www.NTPF.ie. 
Data from the NTPF indicate that there was a total of 32,823 people awaiting an Ophthalmology Outpatient appointment at the end of December 2016 and 39,803 people awaiting an appointment at the end of December 2017.
The Outpatient Waiting List remains a significant challeng...

433. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Health his plans to reduce the reliance on hospital ophthalmology departments through appropriate additional community services delivered by optometrists in view of the need to reduce waiting lists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 7291/18 asked on 13 Feb 2018 - Health Services Provision)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply to the Deputy.
 ...

484. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the expenditure on areas of natural constraint in 2017; the financial provision in his Department’s Estimates for ANC in 2018; if the additional funding will be allocated on a proportionate basis to all recipients of ANC payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 7180/18 asked on 13 Feb 2018 - Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme Funding)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): The ANC Scheme has always been recognised as a very important support for rural society and farmers across the country who farm constrained lands. In light of the importance of the scheme, the Programme for Government included a commitment to provide an additional €25m for the Scheme in 2018. I am pleased to confirm that this commitment was delivered in Budget 2018 and that, subject to the EU Commission’s approval of an amen...

14. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Health his plans to change the criteria for the home support scheme in view of the fact that those persons that have been approved for home help often remain on a waiting list for some time until hours become available (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 6362/18 asked on 08 Feb 2018 - Home Care Packages Administration)

Acting Chairman (Deputy Eugene Murphy): If Deputy Smith will forgo his 30 seconds, I will let the Minister reply and give the Deputy one minute for a supplementary. Is that all right?
 ...

42. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Health the measures he plans to implement to ensure that persons who have been approved for home support do not have to wait a considerable length of time for the commencement of such a service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 6375/18 asked on 08 Feb 2018 - Home Care Packages Administration)

Acting Chairman (Deputy Eugene Murphy): If Deputy Smith will forgo his 30 seconds, I will let the Minister reply and give the Deputy one minute for a supplementary. Is that all right?
 ...

115. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on the recent comments of the EU Agricultural Commissioner (details supplied) on the possible return of Border checks on goods and persons on the Border following Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 6592/18 asked on 08 Feb 2018 - Brexit Issues)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): The Government’s priority on protecting the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts and the gains of the peace process, including a hard border on this island, has always been clear. This is also important for the maintenance and protection of North South Cooperation and the all-island economy.
In this regard, the Government welcomed the decision of the European Council on 15 December 2017 that sufficient progress had be...

116. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if additional staff will be recruited for the passport office to try to minimise delays in the processing and issuing of passports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 6593/18 asked on 08 Feb 2018 - Departmental Staff Recruitment)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): The number of Full Time Equivalent (FTE) staff permanently employed by my Department and currently assigned to the Passport Service is 322. In addition, the Passport Service has received sanction for 210 Temporary Clerical Officers (TCOs) this year to respond to the seasonal demand for passports, which is normally between February and September annually. Training for the first intake of TCOs has already commenced, with...

143. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills if consideration will be given to an application by a school (details supplied) in respect of the status of the school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 6600/18 asked on 08 Feb 2018 - DEIS Applications)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Schools are not required to make an application for inclusion in the DEIS programme as all schools are assessed using a new uniform identification model.
We have, for the first time, introduced an objective, statistics based model for deciding which schools merit inclusion in the DEIS Programme, so that all stakeholders can have confidence that we are targeting extra resources at those schools with the highest concentrated levels of disa...