299. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the funding provided toward homelessness in 2017; the amount allocated to County Laois and the midlands; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20526/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Homelessness Strategy)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): My Department provides funding, under Section 10 of the Housing Act 1988, to housing authorities towards the costs of providing accommodation and related services for homeless persons. Section 10 funding of €109.2m million was provided to housing authorities towards the costs of homeless services in 2017. This funding is made available on a regional basis. 
Westmeath County Council is the lead authority for the Midlands ...

55. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if plans will be approved for additional housing in County Laois incorporating social housing, affordable housing and private housing in the event of the county council bringing proposals forward; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19636/18 asked on 08 May 2018 - Housing Provision)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): I propose to take Questions Nos. 55 and 71 together.
The Government’s Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness is firmly focused on increasing supply and the priority for Government attention is to support those in society with the greatest housing access and affordability challenges. In that context, the focus is on meeting the housing needs of those in the lower-income categories, particularly those...

71. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if his Department approves new affordable housing schemes in County Laois; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19637/18 asked on 08 May 2018 - Housing Provision)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): I propose to take Questions Nos. 55 and 71 together.
The Government’s Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness is firmly focused on increasing supply and the priority for Government attention is to support those in society with the greatest housing access and affordability challenges. In that context, the focus is on meeting the housing needs of those in the lower-income categories, particularly those...

159. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Education and Skills if stage 2B of a school (details supplied) has been completed; if the project has moved to the stage 3 tender process; and if the transfer and conveyance of the land is not impeding this project from proceeding. (Question 19875/18 asked on 08 May 2018 - Schools Building Projects Status)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): The major building project referred to by the Deputy is at an advanced stage of architectural planning Stage 2b (Detailed Design), which includes the application for statutory approvals and the preparation of tender documents. All statutory approvals have been secured.
My Department recently completed the review of the Stage 2b submission for this project and comments have issued. Each member of the design team has been requested to su...

314. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Health the international comparison studies his Department has conducted to determine the exclusion of persons over 21 years of age from the FreeStyle Libre device; if studies have been undertaken by his Department to extend the device to those over 21 years of age; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19893/18 asked on 08 May 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.
 ...

315. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Health the average waiting time for an insulin pump at the Midlands Regional Hospital, Portlaoise for persons with type 1 diabetes; the average waiting time across the health service for same; the number of persons on the list for a pump at the hospital; and the number under 18 years of age waiting on the pump at the hospital in tabular form (Question 19894/18 asked on 08 May 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.
 ...

25. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the State pension rates will be restored to those who left the workforce due to childcare and are now receiving a lower rate of pensions due to previous changes in regard to PRSI contributions in 2012. (Question 19166/18 asked on 03 May 2018 - State Pensions Reform)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 25 and 29 together.
A policy to introduce the Total Contributions Approach (TCA) to pensions calculation was adopted by the then Government in the National Pensions Framework in 2010, as was the decision to base the entitlements of all new pensioners on this approach from 2020.
On the 23rd January, the Government agreed to a proposal that will allow pensioners affected by the 2012 chan...

29. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the progress that has been made to address the anomalies in the State pension due to the changes introduced in 2012. (Question 19165/18 asked on 03 May 2018 - State Pensions Reform)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): I propose to take Questions Nos. 25 and 29 together.
A policy to introduce the Total Contributions Approach (TCA) to pensions calculation was adopted by the then Government in the National Pensions Framework in 2010, as was the decision to base the entitlements of all new pensioners on this approach from 2020.
On the 23rd January, the Government agreed to a proposal that will allow pensioners affected by the 2012 chan...

227. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Health if a decision has been made regarding the funding of a new nursing home (details supplied) in County Laois; if a preliminary design has been completed; and the estimated cost of the project. (Question 18626/18 asked on 01 May 2018 - Nursing Home Services)

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Jim Daly): 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 of a nursing home in Mountmellick.
 ...

136. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Health the number of children awaiting speech and language services in counties Laois and Offaly; the number waiting more than one and two years, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18363/18 asked on 26 Apr 2018 - Speech and Language Therapy Waiting Lists)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): As this question relates to service matters, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply.
 ...

137. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Health the number of children in counties Laois and Offaly awaiting occupational therapy; the number waiting more than one and two years, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18364/18 asked on 26 Apr 2018 - Occupational Therapy Waiting Lists)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): As this question relates to service matters, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply.
 ...

138. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Health the number of persons who have been granted home help hours in counties Offaly and Laois but are still awaiting the service; and the number who are waiting more than six months. (Question 18365/18 asked on 26 Apr 2018 - Home Help Service 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.
 ...

139. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Health the number of children who are waiting psychological assessments in counties Laois and Offaly; and the number waiting more than one and two years, respectively. (Question 18366/18 asked on 26 Apr 2018 - Psychological Assessments Waiting Times)

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.
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140. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Health the number of children in counties Offaly and Laois awaiting physiotherapy; and the number waiting more than one and two years, respectively. (Question 18367/18 asked on 26 Apr 2018 - Physiotherapy Provision)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): As this question relates to service matters, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply.
 ...

225. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he is satisfied that there is no risk to the groundwater, groundwater dependent habitats and the vulnerable regionally important aquifer situated under counties Laois and Kilkenny by the reinforcement project substation in County Laois in view of the fact that operational risks did not form part of the environmental assessment of the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18418/18 asked on 26 Apr 2018 - Water Pollution)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): I propose to take Questions Nos. 225 and 226 together.
I refer to the reply to Questions No 1487 and 1488 of 17 April 2018.  The position is unchanged.
 ...

226. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the steps he will take to address a serious risk to the highly vulnerable aquifer posed by a company’s reinforcement substation project in counties Laois and Kilkenny particularly in view of the pollution incident which occurred in March 2018 in which kerosene entered the Fethard water supply; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18451/18 asked on 26 Apr 2018 - Water Pollution)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): I propose to take Questions Nos. 225 and 226 together.
I refer to the reply to Questions No 1487 and 1488 of 17 April 2018.  The position is unchanged.
 ...

19. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if his Department applies additional safeguards to maintain as much transparency as possible when both he and his officials are interacting with private and commercial interest groups, in view of the areas of the economy with which his Department interacts and the immense private and commercial interest parties from media, telecommunications, electricity and gas in addition to oil and gas exploration involved. (Question 18303/18 asked on 25 Apr 2018 - Departmental Protocols)

Deputy Brian Stanley: I will not be expecting any more latitude than that given to the previous speaker.
The Minister’s Department interacts with a lot of powerful and profitable commercial interests in the energy sector, including oil, gas, electricity companies, as well as in the media. There is a public service obligation, PSO, levy, for example, of €500 million to the renewable energy sector, while the national broadband plan will see the Department spending in excess of €500 million. In t...

23. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to create an indigenous biomass industry in view of the fact that importing biomass for electricity production has been shown in studies to increase emissions; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the power station in Edenderry, County Offaly, is using imported biomass and the ESB power station at Shannonbridge, County Offaly, plans to convert to biomass; and the further actions he will take to reduce emissions through carbon sequestration crops. (Question 18026/18 asked on 25 Apr 2018 - Bioenergy Strategy)

Deputy Brian Stanley: The issue of renewable energy is close to my heart. In 11 years’ time, no more peat will be burned in power stations because of our international commitments. At best, though, we will only go a quarter of the way towards meeting our obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Under the programme for Government, we are supposed to reduce emissions by 20% by 2020. According to the EPA, however, the best case scenario now is 4% or 5%.
The programme for Government state...

27. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the way in which he plans to reduce the amount of plastic packaging being produced in view of the pollution levels in oceans and rivers from plastics. (Question 18027/18 asked on 25 Apr 2018 - Recycling Policy)

Deputy Brian Stanley: My question relates to the major problem with plastic packaging. The Minister knows that the Sick of Plastic campaign day last Saturday by Friends of the Earth and others was a big success. There is a significant public appetite for change and the public is switched on to this issue. Young people specifically are tuned into what we need to do. We need to step up to the plate in this House, turn industry in a different direction and reduce the massive and completely unne...

33. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the policy in terms of progress towards changes in services available through the post office network or broadening services to maintain a viable network of post offices and maintain an efficient postal delivery service. (Question 18029/18 asked on 25 Apr 2018 - Post Office Network)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): I propose to take Questions Nos. 29 and 33 together.
As Minister, I am responsible for the postal sector including the governance of An Post.  Operational matters relating to the company’s retail business, including the post office network, are matters for the Board and management of An Post. Nonetheless, I am acutely conscious of the value placed by communities in both rural and urban areas on services provide...

36. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to aid householders in the reduction of emissions in view of the fact that reports in April 2018 highlighted that emissions and energy usage is on the rise in homes here. (Question 18025/18 asked on 25 Apr 2018 - Energy Policy)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): I propose to take Questions Nos. 36 and 60 together.
Ireland’s White Paper on Energy Policy, Ireland’s Transition to a Low Carbon Energy Future 2015-2030, National Mitigation Plan (NMP) and Long Term Renovation Strategy (LTRS) all recognise the fact that extensive renovation of our building stock will need to take place in order to meet both national and international targets for energy savings and emissions red...

67. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if his Department has had a direct contact with Eir regarding recent redundancies and the possible implications for the roll-out of high speed broadband to rural Ireland. (Question 18028/18 asked on 25 Apr 2018 - Broadband Service Provision)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): eir is a private company operating in a liberalised market.  Accordingly, management decisions such as those relating to staffing levels is an operational matter for that company and not one in which I, as Minister, have a statutory function.
As the Deputy is no doubt aware, in April 2017, I signed a Commitment Agreement with eir in relation to its plans to provide high speed broadband to 300,000 premises in rur...

10. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Health when the consultation process on the Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise involving local clinicians and the community will begin; and the expected timeframe for completion (Question 16238/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Hospital Services)

Deputy Brian Stanley: When will the consultation process for Portlaoise hospital begin? At our meeting in December the Minister told the other two Laois Deputies and me that he would begin this process early in the new year and that he would discuss the matter with clinicians and representatives from the local community.
 ...

71. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Health the groups and organisations he will meet on the consultation on Portlaoise General Hospital; and if he will meet a group (details supplied). (Question 16239/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Hospital Groups)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): I am committed to securing and further developing the role of the Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise as a constituent hospital within the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group. Since 2014, the focus has been on supporting the hospital to develop and enhance management capability, implementing changes required to address clinical service deficiencies, and incorporating the hospital into the governance structures within the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group. Si...

67. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position on expanding community policing and increasing the number of community gardaí in the Laois-Offaly division. (Question 15334/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Community Policing)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Deputy will appreciate that it is the Garda Commissioner and his management team who are responsible for the distribution of all Garda resources, including personnel, and I as Minister have no role in such matters. However, I am informed by the Garda authorities that as of 28 February 2018, the number of Gardaí assigned to the Laois/Offaly Division was 340. Since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, just under 1,80...