26. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the way in which the existing public sector pay agreements are helping to address staff shortages in front-line public services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 50835/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Public Sector Staff Recruitment)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Since Q4 2013 Public Service numbers have increased by nearly 30,000. Over 20,000 of those were recruited in the Health and Education sectors. Adjusting for transfers of functions between Departments, both the Department of Health and the Department of Education and Skills have higher staffing levels now than in 2008.
Furthermore there has been a shift from administrative staff to front-line service delivery. For example in ...

146. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the timeframe for the legislation to extend the mandatory retirement age in the public sector to 70 years of age; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53517/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Public Sector Staff Retirements)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): The Government has approved the General Scheme of a Bill to give effect to its decision last week to increase the compulsory retirement age for most public servants recruited before 1 April 2004. It is not possible to predict the length of time it will take for a Bill to be drafted and pass through both Houses of the Oireachtas given the need for meticulous drafting, ongoing detailed policy considerations, and the scheduling re...

92. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Finance the role and function of the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF); the way in which the ISIF met its stated function of achieving positive economic impact in addition to its investment returns, in 2016 and to date in 2017; the positive economic activity that is a direct result of the ISIF and would not have occurred otherwise; the co-investment partners the ISIF secured in 2016 and to date in 2017; his plans to change ISIF’s mandate to allow it to invest in deadweight or displacement investments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53495/17 asked on 13 Dec 2017 - Ireland Strategic Investment Fund Investments)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (“ISIF”) has a statutory mandate to invest on a commercial basis in a manner designed to support economic activity and employment in Ireland.  
All ISIF investments are considered in terms of their potential risk - adjusted commercial return prospects and the potential economic impact.  The Fund targets those areas for investment which have higher potential economic and employment impact, these will form the maj...

259. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the rules in place regulating the development of solar farms; his views on the lack of regulations for solar farms; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that local authorities have raised concerns that there are no national guidelines for the development of solar farms (details supplied); his views on these concerns; his further views on whether the lack of regulation is deterring investment in the sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53469/17 asked on 13 Dec 2017 - Question Heading for question(s) 259,260,261)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): I propose to take Questions Nos. 259 to 261, inclusive, together.
While there are no specific planning guidelines in place in respect of solar farms, proposals for individual solar farm developments are subject to the statutory requirements of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, in the same manner as other proposed developments. Planning applications are made to the relevant local planning authority, with ...

260. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the planning applications received, refused and granted for solar farms for each local authority in each of the years 2015, 2016 and to date in 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53470/17 asked on 13 Dec 2017 - Question Heading for question(s) 259,260,261)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): I propose to take Questions Nos. 259 to 261, inclusive, together.
While there are no specific planning guidelines in place in respect of solar farms, proposals for individual solar farm developments are subject to the statutory requirements of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, in the same manner as other proposed developments. Planning applications are made to the relevant local planning authority, with ...

158. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress of the building of a sports hall at a school (details supplied) in Dublin 15; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52690/17 asked on 12 Dec 2017 - Schools Building Projects Status)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): The school building project to which the Deputy refers is currently at tender stage. Letters of Intent for this project issued on 28th November. Assuming no further issues arise and the contract is awarded the project will thereafter proceed to construction early in Quarter 1 of 2018.
 ...

171. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a school (details supplied) will be allocated the necessary SNA resources; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52825/17 asked on 12 Dec 2017 - Special Educational Needs Service Provision)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): The National Council for Special Education (NCSE), which is an independent statutory agency, is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating a quantum of Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support for each school annually taking into account the assessed care needs of children qualifying for SNA support enrolled in the school. The NCSE operates within my Department’s criteria in alloca...

228. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the timeframe for the implementation of therapeutic communities in the prison system; if his statement in this regard will be clarified further to his response to Parliamentary Question No. 253 of 5 December 2017 (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53045/17 asked on 12 Dec 2017 - Prisoners Treatment)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Irish Prison Service has advised that the introduction of a Therapeutic Community treatment model within the Irish Prison Service is a new and innovative model of addiction support within the IPS. In order to achieve the best results and optimum outcomes, it is imperative to review the international evidence, and develop an acceptable plan which is true to the values and principles of the Therapeutic Community Approach, balanced w...

420. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to address the problem of overcrowding of rail carriages on the Dublin Connolly to Maynooth line; if this issue will be considered as part of the timetable revision by Irish Rail due in early 2018; if consideration will be given to an additional peak-time service starting from Clonsilla train station at which there is a third platform; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52593/17 asked on 12 Dec 2017 - Rail Services Provision)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): The issues raised are matters for the National Transport Authority (NTA), in conjunction with Iarnród Éireann, and I have referred the Deputy’s question to the NTA for direct reply.  Please advise my office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.
 ...

451. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to switch the designated cycling lane and pedestrian lanes in the Phoenix Park following recommendations by the Coroner’s Court (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53104/17 asked on 12 Dec 2017 - Road Safety)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): As the Deputy is aware, the Phoenix Park is under the management of the Office of Public Works. Accordingly, I am forwarding the Deputy’s question to the OPW for direct response to you. If you have not received a further reply within 10 working days please contact my office. 
 ...

503. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a carer’s benefit for a person (details supplied) may be applied for; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52752/17 asked on 12 Dec 2017 - Carer’s Benefit Eligibility)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The spouse of the person for whom details have been supplied has been in receipt of carer’s benefit since July 2016. On the basis of current legislative provisions that provide for a maximum payment period of 104 weeks, the payment is due to end in July 2018. Carer’s benefit is an income support payment for people who have made social insurance contributions and who have recently left the workforce, or have reduced...

210. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will clarify the new guidelines for recycling household waste; if private waste collection firms are compelled to implement the new guidelines; the way in which the new guidelines will ensure uniformity in terms of household recycling; if there are penalties for households that breach the guidelines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52111/17 asked on 06 Dec 2017 - Waste Management Regulations)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): I recently announced, for the first time ever, a single, national standard list of items that can go into the recycle bin.
The list of suitable material is now simply paper, cardboard, rigid plastics, tins and cans. Details of the materials which can be now be placed in the mixed dry recycling bin collected at kerbside are available on http://recyclinglistireland.ie/
This national standard list of items will eli...

80. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason his Department has not published the review of the immigrant investor programme; if he will publish this review; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 51494/17 asked on 05 Dec 2017 - Immigrant Investor Programme Data)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that a limited internal review of the Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP) was concluded in Q3 2017. The review only examined the period to December 2016. As the IIP Programme had only gained momentum in the second half of 2016, to evaluate its effectiveness as of December 2016 might not provide for any meaningful and measurable outcomes. Consequentl...

111. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number and position of gardaí and community gardaí stationed in the Dublin metropolitan region west in each of the years 2009 to 2016, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 51493/17 asked on 05 Dec 2017 - Garda Data)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): 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 as to ensure that the optimum use is made of these resources.
I am informed by t...

253. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of efforts to introduce therapeutic communities and drug free service facilities to prisons here; if he will engage with the Irish Prisons Service (IPS) to ensure a therapeutic community (TC) is introduced in prisons following a commitment by the IPS to introduce a TC; the timeframe for same; if his attention has been drawn to the large volume of academic research in support of the positive outcomes for such initiatives, in particular the positive findings of a 2016 longitudinal study by bodies (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 51878/17 asked on 05 Dec 2017 - Prison Drug Treatment Services)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Irish Prison Service has advised that it is fully committed to supporting individuals who are seeking to address addiction issues through the availability of a comprehensive range of treatment options across the prison estate. As part of achieving this strategic action, the Irish Prison Service has committed in its Strategic Plan 2016 – 2018, to developing a Therapeutic Community within the Mountjoy Campus.
The concept of a Drug F...

381. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Health the status of the provision of funding for the drug Translarna for persons who need it; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 51930/17 asked on 05 Dec 2017 - Drugs Payment Scheme Coverage)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): The Health Service Executive has statutory responsibility for decisions on pricing and reimbursement of medicines under the community drug schemes, in accordance with the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013.
The HSE informed my Department of its decision not to reimburse Ataluren (Translarna) in July 2017. The HSE, in deciding not to reimburse Translarna, cited uncertainty around clinical evidence but advised the applicant that it wou...

428. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will clarify the proposed cuts to the RTÉ concert orchestra and RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra; his plans to ensure this important public service is protected and supported and does not suffer regressive cuts; the timeframe for the review announced by RTÉ into the two orchestras; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 51625/17 asked on 05 Dec 2017 - RTÉ Expenditure)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): RTÉ is an independent national public service broadcaster established under the Broadcasting Act 2009. Section 114(1) of the Act sets out the objects of RTÉ, including the objective ‘to establish and maintain orchestras, choirs and other cultural performing groups’. Section 98 of the Act establishes the independence of RTÉ in pursuance of its objects. I do not have a statutory function in this matter.
 ...

14. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Finance the status of the implementation of the recommendations made in the report by his Department’s working group on reducing the cost of motor insurance; the number of recommendations that have not been implemented to date; the reason for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 50834/17 asked on 30 Nov 2017 - Motor Insurance Regulation)

Deputy John Curran: It is almost a year since the working group on motor insurance published its report containing 33 recommendations and 71 specific actions. Will the Minister update the House on the implementation of the report and, more importantly, the effect it has had on motor insurance premiums?
 ...

200. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to improve infrastructure for cyclists using the route from Ashtown, Dublin 15 into the city centre in which widening work and appropriate separation of walking and cycling tracks is required; his further plans to install lighting along this route; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 51307/17 asked on 30 Nov 2017 - Cycling Facilities Funding)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): I am pleased to inform the Deputy that I have secured funding of €116m in Budget 2018 for the development of cycling and walking infrastructure in the Greater Dublin Area and Regional Cites over the next four years, 2018-2021. It is envisaged that the progression of infrastructure such as the Royal Canal route will be progressed under this funding stream. I am aware that the Royal Canal route has significant potential as a transport ...

201. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the way in which cycling infrastructure will be improved from the new Luas stop at Broombridge to the city centre; the way in which the use of canal, coastal and river routes will be used to tackle congestion on roads in Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 51308/17 asked on 30 Nov 2017 - Cycling Facilities Funding)

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 operation of transport facilities, including the building and maintenance of cycling infrastructure.  
The National Transport Authority (NTA) is responsible for the development and implementation of public transport and sustainable transport infrastructure in ...

548. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the full year savings achieved by the abolition of the service commitment incentive scheme for Air Corps personnel. (Question 50903/17 asked on 29 Nov 2017 - Air Corps)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): A service commitment scheme was introduced in 1997 to incentivise pilots to remain within the Air Corps. This scheme ran in various formats until 2010 when it was discontinued. Payment under this scheme between 2002 and 2010 amounted to just over €5 million. No provision has been made within budgetary arrangements since 2010 for a similar type scheme. 
 ...

202. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills the date by which the minor works grant will be made available to primary schools; if this grant will be a guaranteed yearly payment in order to assist schools to adequately budget for the year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 50488/17 asked on 28 Nov 2017 - Minor Works Scheme)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): The normal practice is for the Minor Works Grant to be announced towards the end of the year if funding permits. Over the next number of weeks the issue of the Minor Works Grant 2017/2018 will be considered in the context of my Department’s overall capital position.  
Circular Letter 0062/2013 which provides guidance in respect of the Minor Works Grant states that “the grant will only be paid in future years as funding permits”.  In that...

218. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to concerns raised on behalf of an association (details supplied); the way in which he plans to address these concerns; if his attention has been further drawn to the fact that only 12% of young persons are meeting the guideline of 60 minutes of physical activity per day; his plans to address concerns on the optional nature of physical education at senior cycle for those not taking physical education for their leaving certificate; the timeframe for the implementation of leaving certificate physical education; the CPD facility development plans and teaching time allocation for leaving certificate physical education; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 50673/17 asked on 28 Nov 2017 - Physical Education)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): The specification for a new examinable Leaving Certificate Physical Education subject (the specification) and a new non-examinable Framework for Senior Cycle Physical Education (the Framework) were approved by me in February 2017, following development by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA). 
Implementation of Leaving Certificate PE as a subject has recently been re-emphasised as a Government priority, having been i...

556. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will address issues regarding the disjointed nature of the bus lane along the N3, where at almost all junctions the bus must move out of the bus lane into traffic and then move back into the bus lane; if he will ensure buses can move more efficiently along the N3 without impediment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 50332/17 asked on 28 Nov 2017 - Bus Services)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): As Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, I have responsibility for overall policy and funding in relation to the national roads programme.  The planning, design and implementation of individual road projects  is a matter for Transport Infrastructure Ireland under the Roads Acts 1993-2015 in conjunction with the local authorities concerned.  Within its capital budget, the assessment and prioritisation of individual projects is a ma...

581. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if her attention has been drawn to the fact that large numbers of child care providers are continuing to increase fees following the introduction of the universal child care subsidy resulting in a loss of benefit to parents; the steps she is taking to address this; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 50291/17 asked on 28 Nov 2017 - Child Care Costs)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): As the Deputies will be aware, the factors impacting on the costs across delivery of services in any sector are complex and multifaceted. The cost to childcare providers is affected by many factors such as rates, rent, labour costs, and insurance amongst other things.
The cost to parents to access that childcare is decided by childcare providers taking account of these overheads.
Notwithstanding this, I am committed to ensuring...