261. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status and timeline of the legislation to increase parental leave to 26 weeks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17571/18 asked on 24 Apr 2018 - Parental Leave)

Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): As the Deputy will be aware, the Programme for Partnership Government includes a commitment to increase paid leave for parents during the first year of a child’s life, as research shows that parental care is of particular importance during this time.  The Government has established an interdepartmental working group to develop proposals to give effect to this commitment and I expect it to make its report at towar...

376. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Health if the HSE is allowing medical card holders to be charged for the taking of bloods; if the cost of such a procedure is covered under the medical card scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17582/18 asked on 24 Apr 2018 - General Medical Services Scheme Administration)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Under the terms of the current GMS contract, GPs are required to provide eligible patients with ‘’all proper and necessary treatment of a kind usually undertaken by a general practitioner and not requiring special skill or experience of a degree or kind which general practitioners cannot reasonably be expected to possess.” There is no provision under the GMS GP contract for persons who hold a medical card or GP visit card to be charged for routine phle...

408. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Health the number of persons on the waiting list for outpatient rheumatology appointments; the number of adults and children waiting, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17825/18 asked on 24 Apr 2018 - Hospital Waiting Lists Data)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): I propose to take Questions Nos. 408 and 409 together.
Reducing waiting times for hospital procedures is a key priority of this Government. On 12 April 2018, the Minister launched the Inpatient/Day Case Action Plan 2018. This plan was compiled by the Department of Health, the Health Service Executive, and the National Treatment Purchase Fund. 
As part of the plan, the HSE will deliver 1.14 million hospital operations or procedures and the NTPF will de...

409. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Health the average waiting time for children and adults, respectively, for rheumatology appointments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17826/18 asked on 24 Apr 2018 - Hospital Waiting Lists Data)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): I propose to take Questions Nos. 408 and 409 together.
Reducing waiting times for hospital procedures is a key priority of this Government. On 12 April 2018, the Minister launched the Inpatient/Day Case Action Plan 2018. This plan was compiled by the Department of Health, the Health Service Executive, and the National Treatment Purchase Fund. 
As part of the plan, the HSE will deliver 1.14 million hospital operations or procedures and the NTPF will de...

410. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Health the number of full-time consultant paediatric rheumatology posts in the health service; his views on whether this is an adequate number of such posts to provide these services; if this number of posts is in line with World Health Organization guidelines for the population; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17827/18 asked on 24 Apr 2018 - Health Services Staff)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): I propose to take Questions Nos. 410 and 411 together.
I am aware that there are challenges in meeting the growing demand for rheumatology services, and that the Health Service Executive is working towards improving access to such services. 
In relation to rheumatology service provision, as this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to you directly as soon as possible. 
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411. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Health if another consultant paediatric rheumatologist will be appointed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17828/18 asked on 24 Apr 2018 - Health Services Staff)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): I propose to take Questions Nos. 410 and 411 together.
I am aware that there are challenges in meeting the growing demand for rheumatology services, and that the Health Service Executive is working towards improving access to such services. 
In relation to rheumatology service provision, as this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to you directly as soon as possible. 
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37. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Health his views on whether it is appropriate for endoscopy day beds in Connolly Hospital to be used to cope with emergency department overcrowding. (Question 17096/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Hospital Overcrowding)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Against a background of growing demand for unscheduled care and high acute hospital occupancy rates, Government provided €30 million in 2017 and a further €40 million in 2018 for measures to increase acute hospital capacity and alleviate overcrowding in Emergency Departments (EDs). Almost 50% of this funding was used to deliver home support packages and transitional care beds to reduce the incidence of delayed discharges. Furthermore, over 200 beds ha...

80. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Health if his Department monitors the number of general practitioner practices that are unable to take on new patients; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17097/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - General Practitioner Services)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): As this question relates to operational matters, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.
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236. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Health the capital funding provided for Connolly Hospital in 2017; and the capital funding allocated for projects (details supplied) during 2017, in tabular form. (Question 17167/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Hospitals Funding)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): My Department has asked the Health Service Executive to provide you directly with the details requested in respect of capital funding at Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown during 2017.  
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220. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of the planned train station in the Ashington and Pelletstown areas of Dublin 7; the precise location for the station; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17052/18 asked on 18 Apr 2018 - Rail Network)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): As the Deputy is aware, work commenced last year to complete a detailed design and prepare tender documents for a new train station at Pelletstown which is located approximately mid-way between Broombridge and Ashtown railway stations. 
In light of the National Transport Authority’s statutory responsibility for the planning and development of public transport infrastructure in the Greater Dublin Area, I have forwarded the Deputy’s qu...

106. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach the details of all meetings of the National Security Committee; and the dates the committee met. (Question 15969/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - National Security Committee)

The Taoiseach: Having regard to the confidential nature of the National Security Committee, it would not be appropriate to disclose information about the dates of individual meetings or about its proceedings.
The Committee is chaired by the Secretary General to the Government and comprises representatives at the highest level of the Departments of Justice & Equality, Defence and Foreign Affairs and Trade, and of the Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces. 
It is concerned with ensuring that the G...

134. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of the 14 separate commitments assigned to his Department in the Programme for Partnership Government that have been commenced, completed, abandoned and are ongoing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 15954/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Programme for Government Implementation)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): The Programme for a Partnership Government contains an ambitious range of commitments that my Department continues to prioritise. Separately, the White Paper on Defence has set the defence policy agenda over a ten year planning horizon. Several of the commitments assigned to my Department arising from the Programme for a Partnership Government overlap with existing White Paper commitments that are being implemented. 
To date, wo...

135. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of the 88 projects committed to in the 2015 White Paper on Defence that have been commenced, completed, abandoned and are ongoing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 15955/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - White Paper on Defence)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): The 2015 White Paper on Defence sets the defence policy agenda over a ten year planning horizon and encompasses all work carried out by the Department of Defence, the Defence Forces and Civil Defence. It comprehends the Government’s policy on defence of the State from armed aggression, the defence contribution to domestic security, the defence contribution to international peace and security and a broad range of other “non-secur...

136. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of personnel at each rank throughout the Permanent Defence Force; the number by gender and age; the number for the Reserve Defence Force by gender and age; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 15956/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Defence Forces Data)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): The information sought by the Deputy is set out in the tables below. Normal statistical returns made to me by the Defence Forces do not include details of age.
Permanent Defence Force Strength - as of the 28th February 2018
 PDF Male Female Total LT GEN 1 0 1 MAJ GEN 2 0 2 BRIG GEN 8 0 8 COL 37 1 38 LT COL 128 2 130 COMDT 280 47 327 CAPT 307 66 373 LT 218 21 239 Total Officers 981 137 1,118 SGT MAJ...

137. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the projects engaged by the defence enterprise committee; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 15957/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - White Paper on Defence)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): The Government approved arrangements in July 2011, whereby Enterprise Ireland would support the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces capability development through engagement with Irish-based enterprise and research institutes on the use and application of innovative civilian technologies in the military sphere. The White Paper on Defence confirms this arrangement, stating the Defence Forces will make available resources...

138. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number and rank of PDF members that retired in each of the years 2016, 2017 and to date in 2018; the number and rank of all PDF members eligible to retire in each of the years 2018, 2019 and 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 15958/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Defence Forces Data)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 127 and 138 together.
The number of departures from the Defence Forces at all ranks in each of the years 2002 to 2018 is set out in the table below. (Figures quoted for 2018 are as of the 28th February 2018). Over this time frame different strength ceilings applied to the Permanent Defence Force. The White Paper (2000) set the strength of Permanent Defence Force at 10,500 personnel. This number w...

139. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number and rank recruited to the Defence Forces in each of the years 2015 to 2017 and to date in 2018; the number of projected recruits in 2018, 2019 and 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 15959/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Defence Forces Data)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): The table below sets out the information requested by the Deputy for the period 2015 to 2017:
 Year Category Rank Inducted 2015 General Service RECRUITS 307 2015 Cadets CADETS 49 2015 Direct Entry Medical Officers & Direct Entry Conductor CAPTAINS 1 2015 Direct Entry Enlisted Engine Room Artificer SERGEANTS 5 2015 Army School of Music PTES 19 2015 Air Corps Apprentice APPRENTICES 24 2015 Total   405 Ye...

140. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the measures or initiatives planned to encourage more persons to seek a career in the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 15960/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Defence Forces Recruitment)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 140 and 141 together.
The nature of military service requires that the age and health profile of personnel in the Defence Forces must be appropriately managed to ensure that capability requirements are met. In this context, the Defence Forces have a higher level of turnover than other areas of the public service and this is a feature of military organisations internationally.
Rates of pay and con...

141. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the initiatives he will introduce to retain Defence Forces members and discourage them from leaving the Defence Forces for the private sector, particularly within the Air Corps; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 15961/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Defence Forces Recruitment)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 140 and 141 together.
The nature of military service requires that the age and health profile of personnel in the Defence Forces must be appropriately managed to ensure that capability requirements are met. In this context, the Defence Forces have a higher level of turnover than other areas of the public service and this is a feature of military organisations internationally.
Rates of pay and con...

142. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his views on whether it is acceptable that families of Defence Forces members are dependent on family income supplement payments to cover household costs; the measures being undertaken to address this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 15962/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Defence Forces Remuneration)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 142 and 143 together.
Rates of pay and conditions of employment in the Defence Forces have traditionally been set by, inter alia, reference to relative levels of pay across the various sectors of the Irish public sector. 
The Working Family Payment (formerly the Family Income Supplement) provides a means to supplement a family’s income, be they employed in the public or private sector. Eligibili...

143. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his plans for pay restoration and restoration of allowances for Defence Forces members; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 15963/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Defence Forces Remuneration)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 142 and 143 together.
Rates of pay and conditions of employment in the Defence Forces have traditionally been set by, inter alia, reference to relative levels of pay across the various sectors of the Irish public sector. 
The Working Family Payment (formerly the Family Income Supplement) provides a means to supplement a family’s income, be they employed in the public or private sector. Eligibili...

144. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of former PDF members in receipt of disability allowance as a result of injury sustained from their time served with the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 15964/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Defence Forces Personnel Data)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Under the Army Pensions Acts 1923-1980 a disability pension or gratuity may, following retirement, be granted to a former member of the Permanent Defence Force (PDF) for permanent disablement due to a wound or injury attributable to military service (whether at home or abroad) or to a disease attributable to, or aggravated by, overseas service with a United Nations Force.  The criteria for awarding a disability pension or gratui...

145. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the detail of the sale of all military equipment in each of the past five years; the type of equipment sold; the amount received; the date the sale occurred; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 15965/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Defence Forces Equipment)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): My priority as Minister with Responsibility for Defence is to ensure the operational capability of the Defence Forces is maintained to the greatest extent possible so as to enable the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service to carry out their roles as assigned by Government. In this regard defensive equipment requirements for the Defence Forces are kept under constant review. As part of the equipment planning process a number of major...

146. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the detail of the purchase of military equipment in each of the past five years; the type of equipment purchased; the amount received; the date the purchase occurred; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 15966/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Defence Forces Equipment)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): My priority as Minister with Responsibility for Defence is to ensure that the operational capability of the Defence Forces is maintained to the greatest extent possible so as to enable the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service to carry out their roles as assigned by Government.
In terms of suppliers of military equipment, the principle of competitive tendering is used by the Department of Defence for the acquisition of defensive equ...

147. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if the submission made by his Department to the capital review undertaken by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform which seeks a substantial increase in capital investment, as referred to on page 22 in the ministerial brief published in June 2017, will be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 15967/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Capital Expenditure Programme Review)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): In 2017, as part of the Mid-Term Review of the Capital Plan, ‘Building on Recovery: Infrastructure and Capital Investment 2016 – 2021’, submissions were made by Departments, including Defence,  to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER).
These submissions, including my Department’s, are available publicly on the DPER website at www.per.gov.ie. 
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