50. Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin asked the Minister for Health if new hospitals built in Dublin under the National Development Plan 2018-2027 will be located in areas of easy access for persons from the wider Leinster area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17103/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Hospitals Building Programme)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): The National Development Plan is a ten year plan which will provide the capital funding to develop dedicated ambulatory elective-only hospital facilities in Dublin, Cork and Galway. The aim is to both increase capacity in the hospital system and provide a better separation of scheduled and unscheduled care, in line with the recommendations of Health Service Capacity Review and the Sláintecare Report. They will provide increased, protected capacity for e...

92. Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin asked the Minister for Health the way in which the clinical staffing levels for the community psychiatry of old age mental health services in CHO7 compare to that recommended under A Vision for Change; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17102/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Mental Health Services Staff)

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.
 ...

140. Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin asked the Minister for Health if he has received correspondence from a company (details supplied) in relation to a new drug scheme for persons with MS; and his plans to meet the company to discuss the matter further (Question 16844/18 asked on 18 Apr 2018 - Medicinal Products Reimbursement)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): The HSE has statutory responsibility for medicine pricing and reimbursement decisions, in accordance with the 2013 Act. The Act specifies the criteria for decisions on the reimbursement of medicines. 
The 2013 Act does not give the Minister for Health any powers in this regard.  The HSE does not require approval or consent from the Minister or Government when making a reimbursement decision.
HSE decisions on which medicines are reimbursed by the taxpaye...

141. Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin asked the Minister for Health if the mobility allowance will be reintroduced for new applicants in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16845/18 asked on 18 Apr 2018 - Mobility Allowance)

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Finian McGrath): I propose to take Questions Nos. 141 and 142 together.
The Deputy will be familiar with the background to the closure of both the Mobility Allowance and Motorised Transport Grant schemes in February 2013. Since the closure of the Mobility Allowance, the Government has directed that the Health Service Executive should continue to pay an equivalent monthly payment of up to €208.50 per month to the 4,133 people in receipt of th...

142. Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin asked the Minister for Health the progress that has been made on the new transport support scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16846/18 asked on 18 Apr 2018 - Mobility Allowance)

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Finian McGrath): I propose to take Questions Nos. 141 and 142 together.
The Deputy will be familiar with the background to the closure of both the Mobility Allowance and Motorised Transport Grant schemes in February 2013. Since the closure of the Mobility Allowance, the Government has directed that the Health Service Executive should continue to pay an equivalent monthly payment of up to €208.50 per month to the 4,133 people in receipt of th...

143. Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin asked the Minister for Health if he will report on the HSE’s engagement with the introduction of a new in-school speech and language service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16848/18 asked on 18 Apr 2018 - Speech and Language Therapy)

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Finian McGrath): The Programme for a Partnership Government commits that a new model of In-School Speech and Language Therapy will be established.  
Budget 2018 provided an additional €2m to introduce a demonstration project for in-school Therapy services in 2018. 
It is intended that the project should commence in schools from September 2018 and proceed over the course of the 2018/19 school year.
The demonstration project will develop...

144. Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin asked the Minister for Health if the review into existing speech and language therapy from 2018 has been carried out; and if so, if the findings and recommendations have been finalised. (Question 16849/18 asked on 18 Apr 2018 - Speech and Language Therapy)

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.
 ...

145. Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin asked the Minister for Health the way in which it is planned to reduce the long waiting times being experienced by children in counties Laois and Offaly that are in need of an assessment for occupational therapy. (Question 16850/18 asked on 18 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.
 ...

146. Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin asked the Minister for Health the way in which it is planned to reduce the long waiting times being experienced by children in County Kildare that are in need of an assessment for occupational therapy. (Question 16851/18 asked on 18 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.
 ...

204. Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the NTA’s plans to consider rail prices in County Kildare for 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16852/18 asked on 18 Apr 2018 - Public Transport Fares)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport.  However, I am not involved in the day to day operations of public transport, nor decisions on the issue of rail fares in any part of the country.  Following the establishment of the National Transport Authority (NTA) in December 2009, the NTA is the statutory body with responsibility for the regulation o...

221. Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her views on whether her Department is adequately resourced to protect children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16847/18 asked on 18 Apr 2018 - Child Protection)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I am committed to the protection and welfare of children and believe that there is a moral duty on Government and on society to work together to protect children and to ensure their safety. As Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, I have sought to maximise the resources available for this important work and the effectiveness in the deployment of these resources.
From my Department’s perspective Tusla, the Child and Family Age...

117. Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin asked the Taoiseach if the staff employed under the Strategic Communications Unit will be paid redundancy. (Question 15330/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Strategic Communications Unit)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 101 to104, inclusive, and 107, 108 and 117 together.
On 27 March 2018, the Government noted the comprehensive Review of the Operation of the Strategic Communications Unit (SCU) completed by the Secretary General to the Government, and accepted its recommendations. Having taken a wide range of issues into consideration, as set out in the Review report, the Secretary General recommended:
 - that the SCU should be wound down;
 - that the Department s...

201. Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the length of time to process an adult passport renewal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16689/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Passport Applications Administration)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): The length of time it takes to process an adult renewal passport application will depend on the channel through which the application is made.
The award winning online passport application service is currently processing applications in 10 working days, plus postage time. It is the fastest and most convenient way for an adult to renew a passport.
An adult renewal application submitted through Passport Express is current...

202. Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the communication process in place for a person looking for an update on their passport application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16690/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Passport Services)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): The Passport Service has established a dedicated Communication Unit to respond to queries from passport applicants. This Unit can be contacted by telephone, email or by web chat on the contact details provided on the Passport Service website, www.dfa.ie/passport. Due to the high volume of calls currently being received, the Passport Service may not be able to answer as many as it would like to. However, detailed and r...

203. Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if the new online passport portal is delivering passports in the time guaranteed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16691/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Passport Applications Administration)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): The target turnaround time for passport applications made via the new, online passport application service is 10 working days, plus postage time. This target turnaround time is currently being met and in many cases being exceeded by up to a week. The online passport application service is the cheapest and most convenient way for an adult to renew a passport as it can be done online anywhere in the world, 24 hours per d...

325. Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a school building project (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 14987/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Schools Building Projects Status)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): The building project at St. Conleth’s Junior & Senior National Schools is an extension refurbishment project, which includes an extension to each School, a new build General Purpose Hall and a Special Needs Unit.
The project is currently at Stage 2B of Architectural Planning - Detailed Design Stage, which includes applications for all statutory consents, including Planning Permission, Disability Access Certificate and Fire Safety Certifi...

326. Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to regularise the situation of teachers with regard to equal pay for equal work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 14991/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Teachers’ Remuneration)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): I propose to take Questions Nos. 326, 340 and 348 together.
The public service agreements have allowed a programme of pay restoration for public servants to start. I, together with my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, negotiated a 15-22% pay increase for new teachers. The agreements to date have restored an estimated 75% of the difference in pay for more recently recruited teachers and deliver convergence of the p...

327. Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the hours of special needs assistants in a school (details supplied) will be reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 14992/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Special Educational Needs Service Provision)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): I propose to take Questions Nos. 327 and 405 together.
I wish to advise the Deputy that DES Circular 0013/2017 for primary schools and 0014/2017 for post primary schools were published on 7th March 2017. 
These Circulars set out the details of the new model for allocating special education teachers to schools.
The revised allocation process replaces the generalised allocation process at primary and post primary school level for learning ...

360. Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of meetings officials from his Department have had with Kildare County Council in the past five years regarding the provision of schools for south County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 15422/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Departmental Meetings)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): My Department works closely with local authorities in respect of the provision of schools generally.
In the first instance, my Department is included among the prescribed bodies to whom local authorities are statutorily obliged to send draft local area and development plans or proposed variations to plans for comment and observations. This enables local authorities to identify potential future school sites and to develop phasing strateg...

405. Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to review special needs assistant hours at a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 15773/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Special Educational Needs Service Provision)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): I propose to take Questions Nos. 327 and 405 together.
I wish to advise the Deputy that DES Circular 0013/2017 for primary schools and 0014/2017 for post primary schools were published on 7th March 2017. 
These Circulars set out the details of the new model for allocating special education teachers to schools.
The revised allocation process replaces the generalised allocation process at primary and post primary school level for learning ...

501. Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of an application by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 14986/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Residency Permits)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I have been informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department, that the person referred to by the Deputy currently has an application pending for residency in the State, since 8 September 2017, arising from his marriage to an Irish national.  Applications of this type, in fairness to all other such applicants, are dealt with in chronological order and currently take 12 months to process.
Queries in re...

505. Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the checks and oversight exercised to ensure that direct provision centres are maintaining appropriate standards of health and safety and fire safety; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 15046/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Direct Provision System)

Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): All persons seeking international protection are offered accommodation and ancillary services by my Department. From a contractual perspective, each accommodation centre under contract to the Department is inspected three times per annum: twice by officials from the Department of Justice & Equality, and once by an independent inspection company with expertise in food and fire safety. All aspects of the accommod...

583. Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality to set down the manning levels as of 1 March 2018 in all Garda stations in counties Kildare, Laois and Offaly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16648/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Garda Deployment)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 583 and 584 together.
As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner 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 as to ensure that the optimum use i...

584. Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality to set down the number of community gardaí allocated to stations in counties Kildare, Laois and Offaly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16649/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Garda Deployment)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 583 and 584 together.
As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner 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 as to ensure that the optimum use i...

605. Deputy Fiona O’Loughlin asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if the critical skills list will include the need for planners in view of the housing crisis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 14990/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Skills Shortages)

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): At present, ‘Town Planning Officers’ are not listed on the Highly Skilled Eligible Occupations List however applicants are eligible to submit an application for a General Employment Permit, subject to the usual criteria that apply to that permit type.
The State’s general policy is to promote the sourcing of labour and skills needs from within the workforce of the State and other EEA states. Where specific skills prove ...