21. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he or his officials have met church leaders. (Question 34892/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Taoiseach’s Meetings and Engagements)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 21 and 22 together.
Like public representatives generally, I meet with church leaders from all faiths informally from time to time in the course of attending official or public events.
Since I took office as Taoiseach, neither myself nor my officials have had any formal meetings with any church leaders, including Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. I intend to have meetings under the Structured Dialogue Process soon.
 ...

22. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he or his officials have met with a person (details supplied). (Question 34930/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Taoiseach’s Meetings and Engagements)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 21 and 22 together.
Like public representatives generally, I meet with church leaders from all faiths informally from time to time in the course of attending official or public events.
Since I took office as Taoiseach, neither myself nor my officials have had any formal meetings with any church leaders, including Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. I intend to have meetings under the Structured Dialogue Process soon.
 ...

29. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the way in which the strategic communications unit will interact with persons and relevant stakeholders. (Question 35528/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Strategic Communications Unit)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 29, 33 to 37, inclusive, and 42 to 44, inclusive, together.
As I previously stated in the House last week I intend to establish a small unit in my Department to focus on strategic communications across Government.
This unit will complement, not replace, the existing arrangements in Departments and agencies for dealing with press, media and communications. The proposed unit will operate independently of the Government Information Service. 
The GIS ...

30. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he held interviews for positions in the strategic communications unit; and the way in which persons were appointed to same. (Question 35529/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Strategic Communications Unit)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 30, 32, 38, 40 and 49 together.
The Strategic Communications Unit has not been established as yet. The precise mandate and other arrangements for the operation of this new unit, including staffing structure and budget, will be worked out over the coming weeks. It is my intention to staff the unit with civil and public servants. The new unit will be independent of, and supplementary to, the Government Information Service.
The pay scales of those ...

31. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he will report on the Government press secretary role and the spokesperson role; the difference between the two roles; the roles they both will hold in GIS; and the reporting relationship of same. (Question 35530/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Government Information Service)

Taoiseach (Deputy Leo Varadkar)(Leo Varadkar): I propose to take Questions Nos. 31 and 39 together.
The role of the Government Press Secretary (as Head of the Government Information Service (GIS)) is to keep the media updated on the activities of Government, including briefing the media subsequent to the weekly Cabinet meetings. 
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32. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the number of staff employed in the strategic communications unit; the roles they will play; and the cost of same. (Question 35531/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Strategic Communications Unit)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 30, 32, 38, 40 and 49 together.
The Strategic Communications Unit has not been established as yet. The precise mandate and other arrangements for the operation of this new unit, including staffing structure and budget, will be worked out over the coming weeks. It is my intention to staff the unit with civil and public servants. The new unit will be independent of, and supplementary to, the Government Information Service.
The pay scales of those ...

33. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the role the strategic communications unit will have with the GIS; and if it will be part of or separate to the GIS. (Question 35532/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Strategic Communications Unit)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 29, 33 to 37, inclusive, and 42 to 44, inclusive, together.
As I previously stated in the House last week I intend to establish a small unit in my Department to focus on strategic communications across Government.
This unit will complement, not replace, the existing arrangements in Departments and agencies for dealing with press, media and communications. The proposed unit will operate independently of the Government Information Service. 
The GIS ...

34. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the way in which the strategic communications unit will be founded; and if it is separate and in addition to the GIS. (Question 35533/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Strategic Communications Unit)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 29, 33 to 37, inclusive, and 42 to 44, inclusive, together.
As I previously stated in the House last week I intend to establish a small unit in my Department to focus on strategic communications across Government.
This unit will complement, not replace, the existing arrangements in Departments and agencies for dealing with press, media and communications. The proposed unit will operate independently of the Government Information Service. 
The GIS ...

35. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the way in which the strategic communications unit will have a role with each Department. (Question 35534/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Strategic Communications Unit)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 29, 33 to 37, inclusive, and 42 to 44, inclusive, together.
As I previously stated in the House last week I intend to establish a small unit in my Department to focus on strategic communications across Government.
This unit will complement, not replace, the existing arrangements in Departments and agencies for dealing with press, media and communications. The proposed unit will operate independently of the Government Information Service. 
The GIS ...

36. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the way in which the strategic communications unit will interact with the GIS if it is to be separate; and the proposed reporting relationship between the two. (Question 35535/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Strategic Communications Unit)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 29, 33 to 37, inclusive, and 42 to 44, inclusive, together.
As I previously stated in the House last week I intend to establish a small unit in my Department to focus on strategic communications across Government.
This unit will complement, not replace, the existing arrangements in Departments and agencies for dealing with press, media and communications. The proposed unit will operate independently of the Government Information Service. 
The GIS ...

37. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if the strategic communications unit will be working with each Department separately through each press adviser; if it will be working through each Department’s press office; and if it will operate through civil servants or political staff. (Question 35536/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Strategic Communications Unit)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 29, 33 to 37, inclusive, and 42 to 44, inclusive, together.
As I previously stated in the House last week I intend to establish a small unit in my Department to focus on strategic communications across Government.
This unit will complement, not replace, the existing arrangements in Departments and agencies for dealing with press, media and communications. The proposed unit will operate independently of the Government Information Service. 
The GIS ...

38. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the pay scales of the staff in the strategic communications unit; and the pay scales of those working in the GIS. (Question 35537/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Strategic Communications Unit)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 30, 32, 38, 40 and 49 together.
The Strategic Communications Unit has not been established as yet. The precise mandate and other arrangements for the operation of this new unit, including staffing structure and budget, will be worked out over the coming weeks. It is my intention to staff the unit with civil and public servants. The new unit will be independent of, and supplementary to, the Government Information Service.
The pay scales of those ...

39. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the pay scales of the Government press secretary; and the pay scale of his spokesperson. (Question 35538/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Government Information Service)

Taoiseach (Deputy Leo Varadkar)(Leo Varadkar): I propose to take Questions Nos. 31 and 39 together.
The role of the Government Press Secretary (as Head of the Government Information Service (GIS)) is to keep the media updated on the activities of Government, including briefing the media subsequent to the weekly Cabinet meetings. 
 ...

40. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he or officials in his Department had to obtain clearance to employ persons in the strategic communications unit. (Question 35539/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Strategic Communications Unit)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 30, 32, 38, 40 and 49 together.
The Strategic Communications Unit has not been established as yet. The precise mandate and other arrangements for the operation of this new unit, including staffing structure and budget, will be worked out over the coming weeks. It is my intention to staff the unit with civil and public servants. The new unit will be independent of, and supplementary to, the Government Information Service.
The pay scales of those ...

41. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the number of non-civil servants employed in his Department particularly in the area of communication for the Action Plan for Jobs. (Question 35540/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Departmental Staff Data)

The Taoiseach: All employees of my Department are civil servants, either established or non-established.
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42. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the way the strategic communications unit will be policy and not politically based; and the roles his officials will play in supervising same. (Question 35541/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Strategic Communications Unit)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 29, 33 to 37, inclusive, and 42 to 44, inclusive, together.
As I previously stated in the House last week I intend to establish a small unit in my Department to focus on strategic communications across Government.
This unit will complement, not replace, the existing arrangements in Departments and agencies for dealing with press, media and communications. The proposed unit will operate independently of the Government Information Service. 
The GIS ...

43. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the reporting relationship of the strategic communications unit. (Question 35542/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Strategic Communications Unit)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 29, 33 to 37, inclusive, and 42 to 44, inclusive, together.
As I previously stated in the House last week I intend to establish a small unit in my Department to focus on strategic communications across Government.
This unit will complement, not replace, the existing arrangements in Departments and agencies for dealing with press, media and communications. The proposed unit will operate independently of the Government Information Service. 
The GIS ...

44. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the role of the strategic communications unit and merrionstreet.ie. (Question 35543/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Strategic Communications Unit)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 29, 33 to 37, inclusive, and 42 to 44, inclusive, together.
As I previously stated in the House last week I intend to establish a small unit in my Department to focus on strategic communications across Government.
This unit will complement, not replace, the existing arrangements in Departments and agencies for dealing with press, media and communications. The proposed unit will operate independently of the Government Information Service. 
The GIS ...

45. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has spoken to Prime Minister May recently regarding Northern Ireland. (Question 35545/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Taoiseach’s Communications)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 45 to 47, inclusive, together.
I spoke by phone with Prime Minister May most recently on June 27 when we discussed the ongoing talks process in Northern Ireland and our strong commitment to supporting the peace process as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement. 
We agreed to continue to work together to support the parties in reaching agreement to allow the re-establishment of the Northern Ireland Executive and the need to have all of the inst...

46. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has written to Prime Minister May regarding implementing outstanding issues from the St. Andrews Agreement. (Question 35546/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Taoiseach’s Communications)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 45 to 47, inclusive, together.
I spoke by phone with Prime Minister May most recently on June 27 when we discussed the ongoing talks process in Northern Ireland and our strong commitment to supporting the peace process as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement. 
We agreed to continue to work together to support the parties in reaching agreement to allow the re-establishment of the Northern Ireland Executive and the need to have all of the inst...

47. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach if he has spoken to or written to Prime Minister May to address the outstanding issues regarding the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. (Question 35547/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Taoiseach’s Communications)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 45 to 47, inclusive, together.
I spoke by phone with Prime Minister May most recently on June 27 when we discussed the ongoing talks process in Northern Ireland and our strong commitment to supporting the peace process as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement. 
We agreed to continue to work together to support the parties in reaching agreement to allow the re-establishment of the Northern Ireland Executive and the need to have all of the inst...

48. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach the areas in which there is an underspend or in which spending is under profile to date in 2017 in his Department. (Question 35548/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Departmental Budgets)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 48, 53 and 55 together.
Expenditure by my Department up to end-June 2017 amounted to €15.63m which represents 77% of profiled expenditure for the year to date. My Department has no capital funding. 
Significant elements of the Department’s expenditure is outside of its direct control, for example, the Moriarty Tribunal of Inquiry and three Commissions of Investigation. Nonetheless, expenditure is expected to be on profile by year end. However, i...

387. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will report on the request the Taoiseach made to officials in the London embassy to examine the logistics for inviting the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to visit the State. (Question 35544/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Diplomatic Representation)

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): No arrangements have been put in place regarding an invitation to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to visit the State.
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838. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Health if the HSE has written to him or his officials regarding the lack of funding to meet the extra demand in health services particularly in care of the elderly and disability services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35562/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Home Care Packages Funding)

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Jim Daly): I propose to take Questions Nos. 838 and 846 together.
The Deputy will be aware that many more of our older people with complex care needs are now being maintained at home, leading to increased demand for additional levels of service, and for services outside of core hours of Monday to Friday. The HSE has not formally wrote to me or the Department yet in relation to resource requirements. However, following my appointment as Mini...

839. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Health if the HSE has written to him or his officials regarding the lack of funding to meet the extra demand in health services particularly in acute hospital services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 35563/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Health Services Funding)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): My Department is in regular communication and continues to work closely with the HSE regarding delivery of the National Service Plan 2017, and planning for 2018. The level of funding available for my Department in 2018 will be considered as part of the national Estimates campaign, and pending completion of this process it is not appropriate for me to comment further at this stage.
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