9. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach if he has held recent meetings with church leaders and faith communities. (Question 15156/18 asked on 18 Apr 2018 - Taoiseach’s Meetings and Engagements)

The Taoiseach: On 31 August last, I held a formal meeting under the structured dialogue process with representatives of the Catholic Church, led by Archbishop Eamon Martin. I was accompanied at the meeting by the then Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation and by the Ministers for Education and Skills; Health; Transport, Tourism and Sport; and Employment Affairs and Social Protection. A wide-ranging discussion took place on a range of important national and international...

1. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach when Cabinet committee A - economy last met. (Question 13572/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Cabinet Committee Meetings)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 5, inclusive, together.
Cabinet committee A covers issues relating to the economy, jobs, the labour market, competitiveness, productivity, trade, the Action Plan for Rural Development, the digital economy and pensions. There has been significant progress on these issues since the start of the year, including the publication of the roadmap for pensions reform, the launch of the Action Plan for Jobs 2018 and the publication of the review of Ent...

6. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach when Cabinet committee B - social policy and public services - will next meet. (Question 13573/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Cabinet Committee Meetings)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 6 to 9 together.
Cabinet committee B last met on 26 March and while the date of its next meeting has not yet been scheduled, it is likely to meet next month. The committee covers the areas of social policy and public service reform, including education, children, social inclusion, Irish, arts and culture, and continued improvements to and reform of public services. 
Through the work of Cabinet committee B, the Government is keen to ensure policies...

343. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills the capacity for a community school in an area of disadvantage to offer PLC courses if it wishes to do so; the steps the community school must undertake to be eligible to provide PLC courses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 15206/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Post-Leaving Certificate Courses)

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy John Halligan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 343, 344 and 382 together. 
The PLC programme has a national CAP of 30,000 approved places annually. Currently all of these places are allocated to the Education & Training Boards (ETBs) and a number of Voluntary Secondary and Community and Comprehensive Schools. SOLAS are responsible for the allocation of PLC places, however all of the approved places have been allocated for 201...

344. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills the conditions a community school has to meet to offer PLC courses; the regulations it has to meet in respect of QQI; the cost of meeting these regulations; if funding is provided to community schools in respect of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 15207/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Post-Leaving Certificate Courses)

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy John Halligan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 343, 344 and 382 together. 
The PLC programme has a national CAP of 30,000 approved places annually. Currently all of these places are allocated to the Education & Training Boards (ETBs) and a number of Voluntary Secondary and Community and Comprehensive Schools. SOLAS are responsible for the allocation of PLC places, however all of the approved places have been allocated for 201...

381. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills the priority he attaches to the provision and refurbishment of sports halls in second level schools particularly in view of the introduction of sport as a leaving certificate subject; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 15536/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Sports Facilities Provision)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department is fully committed to providing that schools who wish to offer the new Leaving Certificate Physical Education Specification and the Senior Cycle Physical Education Framework (non-examinable) in the future will be able to do so.
 The Deputy will be aware that under the National Development Plan (NDP), increased funding has been provided for the school sector capital investment programme.  Thi...

382. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills the conditions a community school has to meet to offer PLC courses; the regulations to be met in respect of QQI; the cost of meeting these regulations; if his Department provides funding to community schools in respect of this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 15537/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Post-Leaving Certificate Courses)

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy John Halligan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 343, 344 and 382 together. 
The PLC programme has a national CAP of 30,000 approved places annually. Currently all of these places are allocated to the Education & Training Boards (ETBs) and a number of Voluntary Secondary and Community and Comprehensive Schools. SOLAS are responsible for the allocation of PLC places, however all of the approved places have been allocated for 201...

523. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of an application by a person (details supplied) for asylum. (Question 15270/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Asylum Applications)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that, in response to a notification pursuant to the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended),  written representations have been submitted on behalf of the person concerned. 
These representations, together with all other information and documentation on file, will be fully considered, under Section 3 (6) of the Immigration ...

524. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when a person (details supplied) will receive naturalisation papers. (Question 15271/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Naturalisation Applications)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the processing of the application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to by the Deputy is on-going, with a view to establishing whether the statutory conditions for naturalisation, such as good character and lawful residence, are satisfied. On completion of the necessary processing the application will be submitted to ...

1165. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his plans to introduce a deposit return scheme for plastic, drinks and bottle cans similar to the one recently announced in the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 15538/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Recycling Policy)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): I propose to take Questions Nos. 1164 and 1165 together. 
In July 2014, the then Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government published a Review of the Producer Responsibility Initiative model in Ireland. As part of this review, a wider examination of issues within the packaging sphere (which included plastic containers) was undertaken and consideration was given to the introduction of a deposi...

1166. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the discussions his Department has had in respect of an EU plastics tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 15539/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Environmental Policy)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): I propose to take Questions Nos. 1166, 1173, 1181 and 1188 together. 
My Department has not held any discussions with the Commission in relation to a European level plastics tax. While I am aware that the Budget Commissioner has commented on a variety of options in the context of future EU budgets, there have been no specific proposals made to Council. 
Discussions between my Department and the EU in relation to...

1521. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the obligations an applicant is under in respect of the new fast-track planning application process directly to An Bord Pleanála to advertise such applications; the obligations An Bord Pleanála has to make the records from such applications available for view both in local government offices and online; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 15275/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Planning Issues)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): The Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016 provides for new streamlined arrangements to enable planning applications for strategic housing developments (SHD) to be made directly to An Bord Pleanála (the Board) for determination.  The Planning and Development (Strategic Housing Development) Regulations 2017 supplement the provisions in the 2016 Act and prescribe the detailed procedural and a...

4. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason for the continuing delay in the rebuild of a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 14558/18 asked on 29 Mar 2018 - Schools Building Projects Status)

Deputy Joan Burton: I ask the Minister to outline the reason for the exceptionally long delay in rebuilding St. Patrick’s senior and junior school in Corduff. I have raised this matter five or six times since the Minister’s appointment. The project is going backwards rather than forwards under his tenure. The school was recently informed it will take an additional period to even reach stage 4 of the building process.
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6. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills the additional initiatives he plans for persons working in science, information technology and STEM that wish to convert to be primary and secondary teachers; the additional costs of conversion for mature students; his further plans to mitigate this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 14420/18 asked on 29 Mar 2018 - Teacher Training Provision)

Deputy Joan Burton: I want to ask the Minister about the plans his Department has to encourage, support and enable people who may have expertise in STEM subjects, including mathematics and science, and what proposals, if any, his Department has to encourage people who may want to transfer from those areas to becoming primary or secondary teachers. The current requirements mean that people who want to transfer - a number want to do so every year - will face a very high barrier of fees for gradua...

10. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of his Department’s action in dealing with the fallout from the collapse of a company (details supplied) and contracts undertaken by Departments with the company; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 13416/18 asked on 29 Mar 2018 - Public Private Partnerships)

Deputy Joan Burton: This question relates to the collapse of a company involved in public private partnerships, PPPs, and the affected Capita and Carillion contracts, some of which are with the Department of Education and Skills. Will the Minister make a statement on the current situation?
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35. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of primary schools using tablet devices (details supplied) in the classroom; the number that have stopped using these devices in the classroom due to control issues; the problems primary schools have experienced in respect of this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 14422/18 asked on 29 Mar 2018 - Information and Communications Technology)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): The decision to use tablet devices is a matter for the Board of Management of each school. Where the introduction of new technology is planned, consultation with members of the school community including parents is advised. The cost and other implications must be fully considered by the Boards of Management before a decision is made. 
My Department does not maintain records on individual schools using mobile devices nor does it have acce...

38. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to provide continuous professional development for second level teachers in respect of the teaching and learning of computer science at second level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 14419/18 asked on 29 Mar 2018 - Teachers’ Professional Development)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): The Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) has prepared a comprehensive continuous professional development (CPD) programme to support the 40 schools selected to participate in Phase 1 of the implementation of Computer Science as a Leaving Certificate subject. This CPD programme, which will be implemented over the coming two and a half years, is guided by key underpinning principles of effective CPD required to support the ...

60. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills the measures and policies his Department has in place in respect of making up for lost school days incurred during Storm Emma; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 14421/18 asked on 29 Mar 2018 - Severe Weather Events Response)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): My Department’s guidance for schools in relation to making up for time lost due to unforeseen closures is set out in Circular 0009/2017 Standardisation of the School Year in respect of Primary & Post-Primary Schools for the years 2017/18, 2018/19 and 2019/20 which is available on my Department’s website www.education.gov.ie
As outlined in Circular 0009/2017 flexibility is given to schools to make up for time lost due to unforeseen circum...

235. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of Enterprise Ireland clients in Dublin and by county; the number in Dublin city, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, Fingal and south County Dublin; the number in Cork city and County Cork in each of the years 2014 to 2017, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 14608/18 asked on 29 Mar 2018 - Enterprise Ireland Data)

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): On 3rd January 2018, Enterprise Ireland (EI) announced its 2017 end year results. The 2017 performance was strong, reporting the highest employment in the history of the agency, the highest net job creation in the history of the agency and the lowest number of job losses since 1998.
In 2017 EI supported client companies employed 209,338 people. 19,332 new jobs were created by EI backed companies in 2017. 
This represen...

236. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the number of jobs created in 2017 by companies that received financial support from the local enterprise offices by county; the number in Dublin city, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, Fingal and south County Dublin; the number in Cork city and County Cork in 2017, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 14609/18 asked on 29 Mar 2018 - Job Creation Data)

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): The Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) are the ‘first-stop-shop’ for providing advice and guidance, financial assistance and ‘soft’ supports in the form of training and mentoring to anyone wishing to start or grow a business.
The LEOs provide a ‘signposting’ service in relation to all relevant state supports available through agencies such as Revenue, the Department of Social Protection, Education and Training Boards, the ...

237. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the investment by local enterprise offices in client companies by local authority area in 2015, 2016 and 2017, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 14610/18 asked on 29 Mar 2018 - Local Enterprise Offices Data)

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): The Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) are the ‘first-stop-shop’ for providing advice and guidance, financial assistance and ‘soft’ supports in the form of training and mentoring to anyone wishing to start or grow a business. 
The LEOs can offer direct grant aid to microenterprises (10 employees or fewer) in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sectors which, over time, have the potential to develop into s...

2. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his meeting with the President of the United States of America. (Question 12788/18 asked on 28 Mar 2018 - Taoiseach’s Meetings and Engagements)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 16, inclusive, together. The questions take up three pages.
 My St. Patrick’s Day programme ran from 11 to 17 March, during which time I visited Texas, Oklahoma, Washington DC and New York. I had courtesy calls with Texas Governor, Greg Abbott, and Oklahoma Governor, Mary Fallin, in both cases discussing the deepening of links between the US and their respective states and Ireland. I visited the Choctaw Nation in Durant, Oklahoma, to thank ...

3. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his meeting with the Governor of Texas. (Question 12790/18 asked on 28 Mar 2018 - Taoiseach’s Meetings and Engagements)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 16, inclusive, together. The questions take up three pages.
 My St. Patrick’s Day programme ran from 11 to 17 March, during which time I visited Texas, Oklahoma, Washington DC and New York. I had courtesy calls with Texas Governor, Greg Abbott, and Oklahoma Governor, Mary Fallin, in both cases discussing the deepening of links between the US and their respective states and Ireland. I visited the Choctaw Nation in Durant, Oklahoma, to thank ...

17. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach if he will report on the meeting of the EU Council on 22 and 23 March 2018. (Question 12789/18 asked on 28 Mar 2018 - European Council Meetings)

An Ceann Comhairle: We now move to questions Nos. 17 to 26.
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18. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his attendance at the recent meeting of the EU Council. (Question 13574/18 asked on 28 Mar 2018 - European Council Meetings)

An Ceann Comhairle: We now move to questions Nos. 17 to 26.
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