98. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if a date has been set for a meeting of the high level forum on community employment supervisor pensions; if his attention has been drawn to the anger and frustration of community employment supervisors and assistant supervisors; his views on whether their contribution to improving the life chances of scheme participants and to their overall local communities is not being properly recognised at the end of their career in spite of a Labour Court ruling in their favour; his further views on whether the Government may be undermining the Labour Court by ignoring its recommendation; and the steps he will take to bring a resolution to the matter. (Question 20264/18 asked on 09 May 2018 - Community Employment Schemes Supervisors)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): I would refer the Deputy to my response to PQ 54985/17 of 16 January 2018 and PQ 13684/18 of 27 March 2018.
 ...

185. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Health when the changes to the fair deal scheme will be introduced that will allow the scheme to be backdated three years for nursing home residents that pass on their farms and businesses to relatives. (Question 20353/18 asked on 09 May 2018 - Nursing Homes Support Scheme)

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Jim Daly): My Department has been advancing work on this matter and having regard for this complex issue and for the sensitivities of the Scheme I requested legal advice from the office of the Attorney General regarding potential changes to the legislation that will address this matter. 
The Department has received this advice and is exploring the policy and legislative changes necessary and any potential impacts as a result of amending the S...

4. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a scheme similar to a loan scheme (details supplied) will be put in place for fishermen. (Question 18462/18 asked on 26 Apr 2018 - Fishing Industry)

Deputy Michael Collins: Credit unions across Munster have, as they always do, come to the rescue, which I greatly welcome, for farmers by providing unsecured loans of up to €50,000. Can a similar low-rate loans - unsecured loans - be offered to inshore fishermen who lost much of their fishing gear during Storm Ophelia?
 ...

160. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a meal subsidy will be put in place for farmers to offset the meal bills which they have incurred during the fodder crisis; and if a crisis payment based on stock numbers to help farmers deal with the fallout of the fodder crisis will also be put in place. (Question 18463/18 asked on 26 Apr 2018 - Fodder Crisis)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): In response to the problems experienced in parts of the West and North-West in the late autumn and winter I took a number of steps to address issues around the availability of fodder. I asked Teagasc from an early stage to work locally with affected farmers in areas with fodder difficulties and support them on fodder budgeting for the winter ahead. I prioritised the payment of farm supports to assist farmers with cash flow. In...

448. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if the organic farm grants will be reinstated; if so, the timeframe for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17823/18 asked on 24 Apr 2018 - Organic Farming Scheme)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): A new Organic Sector Strategy Group was established in March this year by my Department. This new Group is tasked with developing a strategy for the development of the Organic Sector for the period up to 2025. 
The Terms of Reference of the Organic Sector Strategy Group include an assessment of the case for a targeted reopening of the Organic Farming Scheme, looking to best economic and environmental outcomes.
Following recei...

28. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Health the progress which has been made in the negotiations between the HSE and a company (details supplied) to ensure that the 19 patients currently involved in the clinical trials will have unlimited access to the Respreeza treatment for the remainder of their lives; and if the small group affected by alpha 1 here will also have access to Respreeza. (Question 16242/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Medicinal Products Availability)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): I propose to take Questions Nos. 28 and 72 together.
The HSE has statutory responsibility for decisions on the pricing and reimbursement of medicines under the community drugs schemes, in accordance with the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013. The HSE carefully considered the pricing and reimbursement of human alpha1-proteinase inhibitor (Respreeza). The manufacturer, CSL Behring, was notified in August 2017 that the HSE was unable...

421. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills why painter and decorator apprentices from County Cork must travel as far as Ballyfermot Training Centre, Dublin 10, for the 20 week SOLAS training period (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16065/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - SOLAS Training and Education Programmes )

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy John Halligan): The SOLAS apprenticeship scheduling management system aims to call apprentices for their off-the-job training, on a longest waiting basis on the day of scheduling to the nearest available Education and Training Board or Institute of Technology. Whilst every effort is made to eliminate unnecessary travel, unfortunately for some apprentices it is impossible to avoid having to attend training facilities that are no...

1305. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when the second round of Fáilte Ireland grants will be delivered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16047/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Fáilte Ireland)

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Brendan Griffin): This is a matter for the board and management of Fáilte Ireland.  Accordingly, I have referred the Deputy’s question to the agency for further information and direct reply. 
Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within ten working days.
 ...

230. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to reintroduce the farmers retirement scheme. (Question 13395/18 asked on 22 Mar 2018 - Agriculture Schemes)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): The Early Retirement Scheme was suspended in 2008. It was reopened briefly in September 2009, with limited additional funding, to accommodate farmers who had applications completed or close to completion at the time of suspension. I can confirm that as there is no funding available for a new Early Retirement Scheme at this time, I have no plans to re-open this scheme or introduce another similar scheme.  
In recent years the...

511. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the basis for changing the eligibility criteria for the ECCE programme, in particular the reduction of age eligibility from three years to two years and eight months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 11119/18 asked on 08 Mar 2018 - Early Childhood Care and Education Programmes)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): From September 2018, all children meeting the minimum age requirement of 2 years and 8 months will be eligible for a full two programme years on the Early Childhood Care and Education programme (ECCE). This measure refines the development introduced last year, whereby three intake dates were adopted, and will increase the duration of each registered child on ECCE from a current average of 61 weeks, to a potential duration of 76 ...

512. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of youth workers funded in south-west County Cork; the way in which this number compares proportionally with the number of youth workers employed throughout the rest of the country; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 11121/18 asked on 08 Mar 2018 - Youth Services Data)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): The Deputy will be aware that my Department is managing the most significant reform of youth services ever undertaken. This will provide an opportunity to identify need and to focus the bulk of the €58.9m funding available in 2018 on young people most in need of intervention.  Last year, I approved funding for the establishment of new youth projects and for the augmentation of a small number of existing youth services to meet n...

644. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if a homeowners income is taken into consideration when a person applies for a grant under the housing grant scheme if the home owner is not living in the same household; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 11120/18 asked on 08 Mar 2018 - Housing Grant Applications)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): For the purposes of the Housing Adaptation Grant schemes for Older People and People with a Disability, household income is calculated as the annual gross income of the registered property owner together with all household members over 18 (or over 23 if in full-time education) in the previous tax year.
Certain income is not taken into account, or is disregarded, in calculating household income, including €5,000 for each ...

416. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Health if full medical cards will be granted to all organ-transplant patients (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8776/18 asked on 20 Feb 2018 - Medical Card Eligibility)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): A key recommendation of the 2014 Report of the Expert Panel on Medical Need for Medical Card Eligibility was that a person’s means should remain the main qualifier for a medical card. The report also concluded that it is neither feasible nor desirable to list conditions in priority order for medical card eligibility. Therefore, medical card provision is solely based on financial assessment. Under the legislation, having a particular illness, in itself,...

513. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of youth workers funded in south west County Cork; the way in which this number compares proportionally with the number of youth workers employed throughout the rest of the country; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8774/18 asked on 20 Feb 2018 - Youth Services Funding)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I propose to take Questions Nos. 513 and 514 together.
My Department administers a range of funding schemes and programmes to support the provision of youth services to young people throughout the country including those from disadvantaged communities. The funding schemes support national and local youth work involving approximately 1,400 youth work staff  working in youth services and communities throughout the country.  
In 20...

514. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her plans to rectify the situation of the under provision of youth workers by establishing and resourcing a dedicated west County Cork youth service and providing resources for this new entity to commence delivery of service at a level on a par with services in other counties (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8775/18 asked on 20 Feb 2018 - Youth Services Funding)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I propose to take Questions Nos. 513 and 514 together.
My Department administers a range of funding schemes and programmes to support the provision of youth services to young people throughout the country including those from disadvantaged communities. The funding schemes support national and local youth work involving approximately 1,400 youth work staff  working in youth services and communities throughout the country.  
In 20...

52. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of fishermen in Brexit negotiations; if provisions are being put in place to regain Irish waters following Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 3860/18 asked on 13 Feb 2018 - Brexit Negotiations)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): As I have stated before, fisheries is, and will remain, a high priority for Ireland in the Brexit negotiations.  I am determined to ensure that fisheries remain high on the Brexit agenda in the EU and that the interests of Ireland’s fishing communities are fully protected.
In recent months, I have continued to have positive, regular meetings with my European colleagues, especially those from the group of 8 member states whose ...

87. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will report on the join family D visa application process; the criteria that must be met (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 3861/18 asked on 25 Jan 2018 - Visa Applications)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that full details on the documentation required for a “Join Family” Visa, including the Policy Document on Non-EEA Family Reunification, are available on the INIS website www.inis.gov.ie. 
The Policy Document provides a comprehensive statement of national immigration policy in the area of family reunification.  It should be noted that financial cap...

720. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Health the budget allocation in the 2018 HSE service plan for the Cork University Maternity Hospital obstetrics and gynaecology service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54578/17 asked on 16 Jan 2018 - Departmental Expenditure)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): I am pleased to confirm that additional funding is being made available for Cork University Maternity Hospital in 2018. I have asked the HSE to reply to the Deputy directly with the specific details requested.
 ...

721. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Health the number of women currently waiting for inpatient and outpatient gynaecology appointments in Cork university maternity hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54579/17 asked on 16 Jan 2018 - Hospital Waiting Lists)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): The NTPF published the most recent waiting list figures for Dec 2017 on 12 January. This information is available on the website www.NTPF.ie. 
The total number of people on the IPDC Gynaecology waiting list in Cork University Maternity Hospital is 425.
The number of people on the Outpatient Gynaecology Waiting List for Cork University Maternity Hospital is 3,790.
 ...

4. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to reinstate the pension bands to their pre 2012 levels; his further plans to correct the pension anomalies that affected approximately 35,000 women; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 47440/17 asked on 09 Nov 2017 - State Pensions)

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: This is a matter for which I have no statutory function. Responsibility for this area sits with my colleague, the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Deputy Regina Doherty. In this context, I understand the Minister comprehensively addressed the substance of the question the Deputy has raised in the House on Tuesday, 7 November. In her reply to Deputy Willie O’Dea, she outlined her intention to introduce a total contributions approach to calculating ...

138. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Health his plans to reverse the Financial Emergency Measures in Public Interest cuts on general practices which has had a devastating impact on rural general practitioners; the steps he will take to address this to restore the viability of rural general practitioners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 47441/17 asked on 09 Nov 2017 - General Practitioner Services)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): I acknowledge the contribution made by general practitioners and other health professionals who provide services under contract on behalf of the HSE, through reductions in the fees in respect of these services, to addressing the unprecedented economic crisis which the State faced over recent years.
In the context of the publication by my colleague, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, of the Public Service Pay and Pension Bill 2017, on 7 Nove...

365. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills the cost of extending maintenance grants to all students at the current 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% rate and at the current special rate. (Question 46334/17 asked on 07 Nov 2017 - Student Grant Scheme)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): In 2017, my Department will invest almost €450m in access measures to assist students to participate in and complete higher and further education.
In the 2016/17 academic year, 78,904 further and higher education students received a SUSI grant. The latest statistics for the total number of full-time higher and PLC students is 212,579. Based on an average maintenance grant of €2,150, the estimated cost of extending the maintenance grant ...

366. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a deadline will be set for the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education and Skills to make a recommendation on the future funding of higher education. (Question 46335/17 asked on 07 Nov 2017 - Third Level Funding)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): It was in recognition of the funding challenge in higher education that the Government appointed an Expert Group to examine future funding requirements for higher education and to present options for developing a sustainable long term funding strategy for the sector. The Expert Group’s report, which was published in July 2016, clearly outlines the funding challenges and offers a number of approaches and recommendations for consideration...

367. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills the cost of restoring SUSI grant rates and thresholds to pre-2011 levels; and the number of estimated additional students that would be eligible under the scheme if grants were restored to these levels. (Question 46336/17 asked on 07 Nov 2017 - Student Grant Scheme Reform)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): It is not possible to definitively estimate “the cost of increasing SUSI grant thresholds by an additional 10% on top of the pre-2011 threshold if those were to be restored; and the number of estimated additional students that would be eligible under the reformed scheme”.
To put it in context, in 2010/11 there were 71,532 students who benefitted from grant support at a cost of €355m, whereas in 2016/17 there were 78,904 students in recei...

368. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills the cost of increasing SUSI grant thresholds by an additional 10% on top of the pre-2011 threshold if those were to be restored; and the number of estimated additional students that would be eligible under the reformed scheme. (Question 46337/17 asked on 07 Nov 2017 - Student Grant Scheme Reform)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): It is not possible to definitively estimate “the cost of increasing SUSI grant thresholds by an additional 10% on top of the pre-2011 threshold if those were to be restored; and the number of estimated additional students that would be eligible under the reformed scheme”.
To put it in context, in 2010/11 there were 71,532 students who benefitted from grant support at a cost of €355m, whereas in 2016/17 there were 78,904 students in recei...