78. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the refurbishment of a school (details supplied); when works will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 2236/18 asked on 17 Jan 2018 - Schools Refurbishment)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): The Deputy will be aware that my Department granted funding to the school in question for roof works under the Summer Works Scheme (2016-2017).  I understand that this project was completed in December 2017. 
My Department has no record of receiving any further correspondence from the school.
 ...

79. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the refurbishment of a school (details supplied); when works will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 2237/18 asked on 17 Jan 2018 - Schools Refurbishment)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): The appointment of the Design Team for the major building project for the school to which the Deputy refers is currently at an advanced stage. 
Officials from my Department have been in regular contact directly with the Board of Management and have outlined the steps in the Design Team appointment process.
 ...

80. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the refurbishment of a school (details supplied); when works will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 2238/18 asked on 17 Jan 2018 - Schools Refurbishment)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): The appointment of the Design Team for the major building project for the school to which the Deputy refers is currently at an advanced stage. 
Officials from my Department have been in regular contact directly with the Board of Management and have outlined the steps in the Design Team appointment process.
 ...

81. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the provision of a permanent site for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 2239/18 asked on 17 Jan 2018 - Schools Site Acquisitions)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): The building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is included in the Department’s 6 year construction programme. Officials in the Department continue to liaise with officials in Fingal County Council in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding in relation to the acquisition of a suitable location for the school.
 ...

187. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans to ensure the service on the Luas green line extension is maximised; the additional funding his Department is providing in respect of this and of new park-and-ride facilities in the Dublin area to maximise public transport use; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 2247/18 asked on 17 Jan 2018 - Light Rail Projects Provision)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): The Green Line Capacity Enhancement project was recently approved by Government. The purpose of the project is to address current capacity limits at peak hours on the Luas Green Line and to cater for future demands along the line. The project will cost approximately €90 million and is proposed in the National Transport Authority’s (NTA) Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area 2016-2035. It includes the lengthening of the exis...

4. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach his plans to ensure a whole-of-Government approach to policy development and problem-solving by his Ministers; and the way in which he plans to encourage co-operation between Ministers in respect of issues as they arise across Government. (Question 52725/17 asked on 16 Jan 2018 - Ministerial Dialogue)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 4 and 81 together.
The Government acts collectively and any work done by a Minister within a Department is done with a whole-of-Government approach. A Programme for a Partnership Government sets out the Government’s ambitious programme of work and shared aims and we will continue to deliver on this programme.
The primary mechanism for ensuring a whole-of-Government approach is the weekly Cabinet meeting at which all major policy issues are discus...

5. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach if he will report on the newly formed Cabinet Committee G, justice and equality. (Question 52726/17 asked on 16 Jan 2018 - Cabinet Committees)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 5 to 7, inclusive, together.
Cabinet Committee G was formally established by the Government last week and is scheduled to have its first meeting on Thursday. The Cabinet committee will provide political oversight of developments on justice and equality issues, including implementation of the Government’s programme of reform for the justice sector as well as Government measures on gender equality.
Establishment of a dedicated Cabinet committee will...

10. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if his Department provides funding to organisations (details supplied) to facilitate pay restoration; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53432/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Voluntary Sector Remuneration)

Deputy Joan Burton: This question relates to workers paid out of the public purse, particularly in hospices but also in other section 39 organisations, who voluntarily took pay reductions during the country’s darkest hour when the economy crashed. As these salaries are entirely funded out of the public purse, what are the Minister’s plans to make a declaration on providing properly for pay restoration for these people who took a hit in the public interest? When will the Minister restore their ...

23. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the amount spent by Department and public body and the total cost of public relations services in the past ten years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53431/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Public Relations Contracts Expenditure)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): As the Deputy will be aware, my Department was established in 2011. Therefore, this reply covers the period since then. 
The following tables reflect the amount spent by the Department and the bodies under its aegis on public relations services in the period in question:
 Name of Service Provider Amount Spent € Purpose Body Mindshare Media Ireland Ltd.(2017) €145,441.83 Communications Campaign – Promoting awareness...

30. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the pension and public pay restoration to be carried out under FEMPI by Department and public body; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53430/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Public Sector Staff Remuneration)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Public pay and pension restoration by Departments and public bodies has been and will be carried out in accordance with the provisions of the Lansdowne Road Agreement (LRA): 
www.per.gov.ie/wp-content/uploads/Public-Service-Stability-Agreement-2013-2018.pdf.
and the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA):
www.per.gov.ie/wp-content/uploads/LRA-extension.pdf.
Pay increases under the LRA were as follows:
2016
- 1st January annu...

34. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans arising from a report (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53433/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Expenditure Reviews)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Responsibility for policy decisions in this area are the responsibility of the Minister for Health. 
The Deputy is referring to a paper, titled ‘Disability and Special Education Related Expenditure’, which was prepared by the Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service in the context of the Spending Review 2017 and was published in October. This was a cross-vote analysis of disability related expenditure across the Healt...

174. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of teachers that availed of the fee refund scheme in each of the years from 2011 to 2016; the average amount paid to teachers in fee refunds in each of the years from 2011 to 2016; if these payments differ between primary and post-primary teachers; the number of applications to avail of funding in each of the years from 2011 to 2016; the funding provided for the scheme in each of the years from 2011 to 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53548/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Teacher Fee Refund Scheme)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): The purpose of the Teacher Fee Refund Scheme is to provide funding towards the cost of course participation and examination fees on successful completion of professional development courses that are directly relevant and of benefit to schools and that are subject to certification/award by an appropriate accreditation authority recognised by my Department. 
Applications for funding under the Scheme are made retrospectively for a course un...

692. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the entitlements of persons qualifying for the long-term illness scheme; her plans to make provision for persons within this category who do not receive a social welfare payment in their own right to be included in vocational training opportunities and employment schemes; if persons qualifying under the long-term illness scheme can be deemed eligible for workplace programmes and training courses even if they do not receive a social welfare payment; her further plans to review this scheme with the objective of making other supports available for persons within this category; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53555/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Long-Term Illness Scheme Eligibility)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): This Government recognises the importance of increasing participation in employment for persons with a disability and is committed to removing any barriers that remain which prevent those persons with disabilities from participating in activation programmes and employment. 
The long term illness (LTI) scheme is a Health Service Executive (HSE) scheme that allows people with certain conditions to obtain the drugs, me...

2. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach if he will report on the forthcoming European Council meeting. (Question 51727/17 asked on 13 Dec 2017 - EU Meetings)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 12, inclusive, together.
I will attend a series of European Council meetings in a range of formats in Brussels tomorrow and Friday.
I will of course report back to the House as usual after the European Council.
The draft agenda for the main meeting consists of security and defence issues, including permanent structured co-operation, PESCO, and social, educational and cultural matters, where we expect a report on the recent Gothenburg social su...

9. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his meeting with Mr. Donald Tusk, President of the European Council. (Question 52947/17 asked on 13 Dec 2017 - EU Meetings)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 12, inclusive, together.
I will attend a series of European Council meetings in a range of formats in Brussels tomorrow and Friday.
I will of course report back to the House as usual after the European Council.
The draft agenda for the main meeting consists of security and defence issues, including permanent structured co-operation, PESCO, and social, educational and cultural matters, where we expect a report on the recent Gothenburg social su...

10. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his contact with Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission. (Question 52948/17 asked on 13 Dec 2017 - EU Meetings)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 12, inclusive, together.
I will attend a series of European Council meetings in a range of formats in Brussels tomorrow and Friday.
I will of course report back to the House as usual after the European Council.
The draft agenda for the main meeting consists of security and defence issues, including permanent structured co-operation, PESCO, and social, educational and cultural matters, where we expect a report on the recent Gothenburg social su...

62. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the contacts he has made with African governments regarding An Taoiseach’s cancelled visit to west Africa. (Question 51724/17 asked on 13 Dec 2017 - Official Engagements)

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Ciarán Cannon): The Taoiseach was due to travel to West Africa between 25 November and 1 December, to visit Irish Defence Forces personnel based in Mali and to attend the African Union - European Union Summit in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, from 25 November to 1 December. However, due to domestic political developments, it was necessary to cancel this visit.
Ireland was represented at the Summit by the Irish Ambassador to the A...

144. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if her Department has recruited technical experts in legal and trade negotiations in respect of Brexit. (Question 50328/17 asked on 13 Dec 2017 - Brexit Staff)

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): My Department has not specifically recruited technical experts in legal and trade negotiations in respect of Brexit, but has drawn on the experts in these areas across the Department.  These officials are best placed to deal with the Department’s response to the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, and have been assigned to additional postings in the areas across the whole Department that have been most impacted b...

283. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the contact her Department has had with the National Parks and Wildlife Service regarding the introduction of additional wildlife into the Wicklow National Park, in particular harrier hawks; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53366/17 asked on 13 Dec 2017 - National Parks and Wildlife Service)

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Josepha Madigan): The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is a unit in the Heritage Division of my Department. Its remit includes the management of six national parks, one of which is Wicklow National Park. 
The Harrier-hawk is a bird of prey native to sub-Saharan Africa. There are no plans to introduce this species to Wicklow National Park. 
My Department is engaged in conservation efforts nationally to improve the status of the H...

3. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach if he will report on the work of the parliamentary liaison unit. (Question 51728/17 asked on 12 Dec 2017 - Departmental Operations)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 3, inclusive, together.
As outlined in the strategy statement, my Department provides support services for the Taoiseach and the Government. As part of this service, the parliamentary liaison unit was established to perform a liaison function to help ensure that Ministers and Departments are properly informed of new responsibilities and procedures of the Thirty-second Dáil.
The unit provides support to Ministers and their Departments on Oirea...

8. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his recent contact with Prime Minister May regarding Northern Ireland. (Question 51726/17 asked on 12 Dec 2017 - Brexit Negotiations)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 4 to 17, inclusive, together.
I spoke by phone with Prime Minister May most recently on Wednesday, 6 December and again on Thursday, 7 December. 
On both occasions we had good conversations as we took stock of the situation that unfolded on Monday, 4 December and the prospects of getting back to a point of satisfactory progress. I reiterated the firm Irish position regarding the text that had been agreed on Monday, 4 December. On Friday morning, ...

14. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his contact with Mrs. Arlene Foster, MLA. (Question 52946/17 asked on 12 Dec 2017 - Brexit Negotiations)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 4 to 17, inclusive, together.
I spoke by phone with Prime Minister May most recently on Wednesday, 6 December and again on Thursday, 7 December. 
On both occasions we had good conversations as we took stock of the situation that unfolded on Monday, 4 December and the prospects of getting back to a point of satisfactory progress. I reiterated the firm Irish position regarding the text that had been agreed on Monday, 4 December. On Friday morning, ...

92. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach if he will report on Cabinet Committee B (Social Policy and Public Services). (Question 52951/17 asked on 12 Dec 2017 - Cabinet Committee Discussions)

The Taoiseach: Cabinet Committee B last met on 16 November. The Committee covers the areas of Social Policy and Public Service Reform including education, children, social inclusion, Irish, arts and culture, as well as continued improvements and reform of public services. 
The work of this Committee seeks to coordinate the work across Government on planning and implementing policies that contribute to a more equal and socially inclusive society. Some of the particular initiatives this Committ...

93. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach if he will report on Cabinet Committee C (European Union including Brexit). (Question 52952/17 asked on 12 Dec 2017 - Cabinet Committee Discussions)

The Taoiseach: I established Cabinet Committee C to cover issues relating to the European Union. It assists Government in its ongoing consideration of Brexit and will also support my participation as a member of the European Council. 
Preparing for and dealing with Brexit in a way that delivers the best possible outcome for the country remains a top priority for the Government. Its potential consequences cut across very many areas of our national and economic life, and it is being dealt with ...

152. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills the conditions in which incremental credit for prior experience is given to assistant lecturers in Institutes of Technology; the differences in the incremental credit for prior experience between assistant lecturers appointed before January 2011, those appointed between January 2011 and March 2016 and those appointed since March 2016; the way in which pay inequalities in terms of incremental credit will be resolved; and if the unwinding of the FEMPI legislation will allow for pay parity among assistant lecturers in this respect. (Question 52631/17 asked on 12 Dec 2017 - Third Level Staff Remuneration)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): The rules governing the awarding of incremental credit for assistant lecturers are dealt with under the terms of circulars 01/05 and 12/07, these circulars were published by my Department in March 2005 and February 2007 respectively. The terms of these circulars continue to be applicable.
The operation of the circulars is a matter for the individual Institutes of Technology.
 ...