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...

934. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the options that will be available to farmers that do not have Internet access for 2018 when applying for area aid in view of the fact the application is due to move to an online procedure from now on. (Question 46431/17 asked on 07 Nov 2017 - Information and Communications Technology)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Under EU Regulations, there are specific requirements with regard to aid applications for area related schemes.  One such requirement is that all applications are required to be submitted online from 2018 onwards. Farmers can apply online themselves at www.agfood.ie, or authorise an approved agricultural agent to do so on their behalf.
In recent years there has been steady growth in the number of farmers who apply online for ...

125. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to review the remote area grant for school children living in remote areas of the country in order to increase the payment rates and bring them in line with transport costs (details supplied). (Question 44652/17 asked on 24 Oct 2017 - Transport Costs)

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy John Halligan): School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.
During the 2016/17 school year almost 116,000 children, including some 12,000 children with special educational needs, were transported in over 4,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres annually.
In general, children are eligible for ...

289. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the way in which the cost of renting moorings by fishermen varies (details supplied). (Question 44653/17 asked on 24 Oct 2017 - Harbour Fees)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has responsibility under the Fishery Harbours Centre Act, 1968 (as amended) for the six Fishery Harbour Centres located at Howth, Dunmore East, Killybegs, Dingle, Ros an Mhíl and also, at Castletownbere.
Rates and charges for the use of facilities and services at each of the six Fishery Harbour Centres are imposed in accordance with the Fishery Harbour Centres (Rates & Charges...

230. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if a breakwater wall will be provided for the residents of Blackrock Terrace, Castletownbere, where severe tidal storms have caused a lot of damage to the houses in adverse weather; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35279/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Coastal Protection)

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Kevin Boxer Moran): It is a matter for Kerry County Council in the first instance to assess the risks in specific coastal areas and the level of coastal protection required in those areas.
The Local Authorities may carry out coastal protection works using their own resources. If necessary, they may also put forward proposals to the relevant central Government Departments for funding of appropriate measures depending on...

465. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to introduce a night-time shooting ban; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35275/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Shooting Rights)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 465 and 539 together.
I can inform the Deputy that there is no proposal to ban night time shooting. At a meeting of the Firearms Consultative Panel (chaired by my Department) held on April 5th 2016, shooting groups stated that illegal shooting at night is a serious safety issue which needed to be addressed. As a result a working group on night time shooting chaired by the National Parks and Wildlife S...

539. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to introduce a night-time shooting and hunting ban for gun clubs and predator control; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35911/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Shooting Rights)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 465 and 539 together.
I can inform the Deputy that there is no proposal to ban night time shooting. At a meeting of the Firearms Consultative Panel (chaired by my Department) held on April 5th 2016, shooting groups stated that illegal shooting at night is a serious safety issue which needed to be addressed. As a result a working group on night time shooting chaired by the National Parks and Wildlife S...

751. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Health when a residential respite care home will be opened in the Cork south west area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35274/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Respite Care Services Provision)

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Finian McGrath): The Government is committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will empower them to live independent lives, provide greater independence in accessing the services they choose, and enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their lives. This commitment is outlined in the A Programme for a Partnership Government, which is guided by two principles: equali...

752. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Health if he will consider opening an outreach clinic in County Cork for a metabolic doctor and a paediatric gastroenterologist (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35277/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Hospital Services)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): As this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to you directly.
 ...

1251. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment when a review of the salmon fishing drift net ban which was imposed on inshore fishermen in 2006 will occur (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35280/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Fishing Industry)

Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Seán Kyne): I propose to take Questions Nos. 1251 and 1252 together. 
Ireland manages salmon stocks on an individual river basis. This management is carried out by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI), the State Agency with statutory responsibility for inland fisheries. The management policy is based on the fact that each of Ireland’s 147 salmon rivers, river sections, estuaries etc. has its own genetically...

1252. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he will consider a pilot project in which a number of fishermen from each county would take part in a scheme overseen by the Marine Institute to ascertain sea stocks, the results of which would determine the need for a salmon fishing drift net ban on the inshore fishing community; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35281/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Fishing Industry)

Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Seán Kyne): I propose to take Questions Nos. 1251 and 1252 together. 
Ireland manages salmon stocks on an individual river basis. This management is carried out by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI), the State Agency with statutory responsibility for inland fisheries. The management policy is based on the fact that each of Ireland’s 147 salmon rivers, river sections, estuaries etc. has its own genetically...

1281. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if broadband will be provided for 75 persons in Sandycove, Kinsale, County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35278/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - National Broadband Plan)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): I propose to take Questions Nos. 1262, 1274, 1275 and 1281 together.   
The Government’s National Broadband Plan will provide high speed broadband access (minimum 30 megabits per second) to all premises in Ireland, regardless of location.  The NBP has been a catalyst in encouraging investment by the telecoms sector so that to date approximately 1.4m or 61% of the 2.3m premises in Ireland can get high speed broad...

141. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Finance further to Parliamentary Question No. 263 of 2 May 2017, if the Revenue Commissioners publish figures for uncollected income tax each year; if so, the location where this information can be found; if it is subject to audit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 22778/17 asked on 16 May 2017 - Tax Collection)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Revenue publishes the total amount of uncollected tax each year in its annual report. The annual reports for each year are available on the Revenue website at http://www.revenue.ie/en/about/publications/annual-reports.html.
The published figures include both the overall debt and the amount of debt that is available for collection after amounts under appeal to the Tax Appeals Commission or that are included in statutory insolvency activity are factor...

362. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Health his views on whether the practice of water fluoridation should be discontinued in view of the cost and the fact that his Department has on many occasions put off medical treatment and services for sick persons and downgraded hospitals due to a lack of funds and resources; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 22776/17 asked on 16 May 2017 - Water Fluoridation)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): The Health (Fluoridation of Water Supplies) Act, 1960 provides for the fluoridation of public piped water supplies. Water fluoridation is the adjustment of the natural concentration of fluoride in drinking water to the optimal recommended level for the prevention of dental caries (tooth decay). Preliminary results from the research project “Fluoride and Caring for Children’s Teeth” (FACCT), which is being conducted by UCC and supported by the HSE, ind...

160. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Finance if compensation has been sought by the Government from Malta arising from the unpaid claims of a company (details supplied); if compensation has been sought from Gibraltar arising from the unpaid claims of a company (details supplied); if a strategy is in place to prevent the same from happening again; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 21928/17 asked on 09 May 2017 - Insurance Industry)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Setanta Insurance was placed into liquidation by the Malta Financial Services Authority in April 2014 and this liquidation is being carried out under Maltese law. Progress in the liquidation has been delayed due to court proceedings in the case of Law Society of Ireland v the Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland (MIBI). The focus of the court action is to determine whether it is the Insurance Compensation Fund (ICF) or the MIBI which is responsible fo...

166. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the British construction plant competence scheme is recognised here; if not, the reason therefor; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 22010/17 asked on 09 May 2017 - SOLAS Training and Education Programmes Certification)

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy John Halligan): SOLAS and the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) have an agreement in place to facilitate people who hold a valid Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) Plant Operator’s Card to acquire the equivalent SOLAS Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) Plant Operator Card.

To avail of this arrangement applicants must:
- hold a valid CPCS Plant Registration Card;
- have met all the CPCS entry requ...

610. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the projects that will be funded from the €3.6 billion earmarked for public transport in the Exchequer capital transport envelope 2016-2021; and the amount that will be used to enhance public transport outside County Dublin and specifically in Cork city and county. (Question 21677/17 asked on 09 May 2017 - Public Transport)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): The focus of the €3.6 billion investment in the Public Transport Capital Programme over the 7-year period of the Government’s Capital Plan, particularly in the early years of the Plan, is on achieving essential steady state maintenance of our public transport network to ensure that it remains safe and fit for purpose. It is not possible to draw a clear line between investments in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA) and outside of the GDA i...

6. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the rationale for the difference in the minimum amount of hectares of tillage needed to apply for the TAMS 2 scheme in comparison to the general TAMS measures; the number of persons that had less than 15 hectares of tillage under the 2016 basic farm scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20875/17 asked on 04 May 2017 - TAMS Eligibility)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): At the outset I would like to clarify for the Deputy that the general TAMS requirement is that the applicant must be farming at least 5 hectares, that is, they must have at least 5 hectares on their BPS application. This can be grass land or tillage, not a minimum of 5 hectares of tillage as suggested by the Deputy. When the TAMS tillage measure was introduced, it required a minimum of 15 hectares of tillage because the mea...

295. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the way in which he envisages the broadband intervention map of the national broadband plan impacting rural Internet service providers; his plans to fill gaps in coverage in outlying areas when rural Internet service providers have been forced out of business in view of the fact that the national broadband plan has not fully rolled out; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20980/17 asked on 03 May 2017 - National Broadband Plan Implementation)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): The National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to deliver high speed services to every city, town, village and individual premises in Ireland. The Programme for Government commits to the delivery of the NBP as a matter of priority.  This is being achieved through private investment by commercial telecommunications companies and through a State intervention in areas where commercial investment has not been fully demonstr...

263. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Finance if the Revenue Commissioners publish the figures for uncollected income tax for each previous year and the total amount written off to date by each year; if so, the location this information can be found; if it is subject to audit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19909/17 asked on 02 May 2017 - Tax Data)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): The total amounts of tax written out each year are documented in Revenue’s Annual Report. For the Deputy’s information the various Annual Reports are available on the Revenue website at http://www.revenue.ie/en/about/publications/annual-reports.html.
The details of tax written out each year are provided to the Comptroller & Auditor General for examination and are also examined internally by Revenue’s own Internal Audit Unit. To ensure full transpar...