237. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the person who requested legal advice (details supplied); the basis of the request; the reason there was a different approach taken to Galway; if he will provide the legal opinion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52403/17 asked on 07 Dec 2017 - Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme)

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Michael Ring): I presume the Deputy is referring to the Lot basis used for delivery of the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP).
The SICAP programme is implemented by 46 Programme Implementers in 51 geographic areas (known as Lots).  These Lots were determined by the Local Community Development Committees (LCDCs) in 2014, prior to the commencement of the current programme, which comes to an end on 31 December this year. ...

237. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 264 of 21 November 2017, the steps being taken to have CCTV cameras erected on motorways in an effort to counter the activities of roaming criminal gangs preying on vulnerable persons and businesses in rural areas aside from the community based CCTV grant aid scheme which would not be relevant in these instances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 51550/17 asked on 05 Dec 2017 - Closed-Circuit Television Systems Provision)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Deputy will be aware that the commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government is to support investment in CCTV systems at key locations along the road network and in urban centres. This commitment is being met by the  Community CCTV grant-aid scheme launched in April 2017. 
The intention is to support local communities who wish to install CCTV systems in their localities, including access roads to their areas.
Under the Sc...

192. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the ongoing backlog in the Probate Office is a factor in the number of vacant homes; the data in regard to the number of homes affected by the backlog; when the backlog will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 50814/17 asked on 29 Nov 2017 - Probate Applications)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Probate Office is an office of the High Court and management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in exercising its functions under the Courts Service Act 1998. Probate functions are also carried out by County Registrars at District Probate Registries in 14 provincial court offices.
However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has in...

290. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Health the policy regarding surrogacy and the rights and entitlements of new parents via surrogacy to avail of social welfare and health services support; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 50813/17 asked on 29 Nov 2017 - Assisted Human Reproduction)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): On Tuesday 3 October 2017 the Government approved the drafting of a Bill on assisted human reproduction (AHR) and associated areas of research. Officials in my Department are engaging with the Office of the Attorney General in relation to the process of drafting this Bill. The General Scheme is published on the Department’s website and has been submitted to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health for review.
The specific provisions relating to surrog...

341. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Health the reason the prescription patch Versatis, which was previously available under the medical card scheme for all persons prescribed this patch, is now only available under the medical card scheme for those being treated for shingles despite positive and essential results for other persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 51167/17 asked on 29 Nov 2017 - Medical Card Drugs Availability)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): I propose to take Questions Nos. 282 and 341 together.
Medicines play a vital role in improving the health of Irish patients. Securing access to existing and new and innovative medicines is a key objective of the health service. However, the challenge is to do this in an affordable and sustainable manner. The medicines bill for the community drugs schemes – primarily the GMS, Long Term Illness and Drugs Payment schemes and the High Tech Arrangement – i...

495. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the policy regarding maternity leave and adoptive leave for women who become mothers through surrogacy in cases in which the mother has their name listed on the birth certificate; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 50812/17 asked on 29 Nov 2017 - Maternity Leave)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The Department of Justice and Equality have responsibility for maternity and adoptive leave which are provided for in the 1994 and 2004 Maternity Acts and the 1995 and 2005 Adoptive Leave Acts. Maternity leave is only available to the mother and adoptive leave is only available to an adopting mother or sole male adopter. My Department has responsibility for the associated social welfare payments of maternity benefit...

537. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if the number of vacant homes is related to the ongoing backlog in the Probate Office; the data in regard to the number of homes affected in this way; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 50815/17 asked on 29 Nov 2017 - Vacant Properties Data)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): As part of their remit under Census 2016, the Census enumerators employed by the Central Statistics Office were mandated to ascertain the number of vacant residential homes in their assigned areas on the Census night of 24 April 2016 and, where possible, to ascertain the reasons for such dwellings being vacant and unoccupied. 
Of the 183,312 dwellings identified as vacant on the Census night (excluding holiday homes), re...

543. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the reason the income of an elderly person is taken into consideration when the discount under the tenant purchase scheme is being calculated in view of the fact that this person cannot purchase the house in their own right; the timeframe for when the report on the review of the tenant purchase scheme will be released; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 51168/17 asked on 29 Nov 2017 - Tenant Purchase Scheme Review)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): The Tenant (Incremental) Purchase Scheme came into operation on 1 January 2016.  The Scheme is open to eligible tenants, including joint tenants, of local authority houses that are available for sale under the Scheme. To be eligible, tenants must meet certain criteria, including having a minimum reckonable income of €15,000 per annum and having been in receipt of social housing support for at least one year.
The minimu...

165. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Health the number of persons awaiting cataract surgery at University Hospital Galway; the length of time they have been waiting; the average waiting time; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 49568/17 asked on 22 Nov 2017 - Hospital Waiting Lists Data)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): In response to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to you directly.
 ...

166. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Health the number of persons awaiting cataract surgery at Sligo University Hospital; the length of time they have been waiting; the average waiting time; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 49569/17 asked on 22 Nov 2017 - Hospital Waiting Lists Data)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): In response to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to you directly.
 ...

167. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Health the status of the community optometry project in County Sligo; if the project is operational; if it will be rolled out to other areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 49570/17 asked on 22 Nov 2017 - Health Services Provision)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy. 
 ...

170. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of both civil and public servants who retired and-or received their relevant Civil Service or public sector pension in 2015 and 2016; the number in both categories who were granted added years; the average salary for both categories on retirement; the estimated annual and long-term cost of these added years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48711/17 asked on 21 Nov 2017 - Superannuation Schemes)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): There are various arrangements in operation throughout the Civil and Public Service which can provide in certain circumstances for added notional years of reckonable service when calculating superannuation benefits.
- Professional Added Years Schemes: These schemes apply to certain professional, technical and specialist posts in both the Civil and Public Service. Subject to certain conditions, they provide for the granting of ...

264. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the steps being taken to have CCTV cameras erected on motorways in an effort to counter the activities of roaming criminal gangs preying on vulnerable persons and businesses in rural areas, in addition to the community-based CCTV grant aid scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48786/17 asked on 21 Nov 2017 - Closed-Circuit Television Systems Provision)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Deputy will be aware that the Programme for a Partnership Government commits to supporting investment in CCTV systems and, in this context, my Department launched the Community-based CCTV Grant-aid Scheme in April 2017, as the vehicle to assist community groups in the establishment of CCTV systems in their local areas. 
Under the Scheme, eligible community groups can apply for grant-aid of up to 60% of the total capital cost of a p...

158. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Health the number of persons on the waiting list for ophthalmology services in County Galway (details supplied); the length of time they have been on the waiting list; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48536/17 asked on 16 Nov 2017 - Hospital Waiting Lists)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy. 
 ...

159. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Health the steps that are being taken to reduce the waiting lists for ophthalmology services in County Galway; the expected timeframe for the service to return to normal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48537/17 asked on 16 Nov 2017 - Hospital Waiting Lists Action Plans)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy. 
 ...

141. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the reason the awarding of the ferry contract to service the Aran Islands from Rossaveal is delayed; the number of operators that responded to the tender by the closing date on 12 October 2017; when she expects to award the contract; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48431/17 asked on 15 Nov 2017 - Ferry Services)

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Heather Humphreys): By agreement with the current operator of the Inis Meáin/Inis Oírr service, an extension of one month was secured for this contract in order to provide time to complete the tender process for the new service covering the three islands.  In relation to the new contract, as there is an ongoing tendering process in relation to same, I am not in a position to comment publicly on same.  
 ...

176. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Health the waiting list for child scoliosis surgery at Temple Street Children’s Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48432/17 asked on 15 Nov 2017 - Hospital Waiting Lists Data)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): I propose to take Questions Nos. 176 to 179, inclusive, together.
In relation to the queries raised, as they are service matters, I have asked the HSE to respond to you directly. 
 ...

177. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Health the waiting list for child scoliosis surgery at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48433/17 asked on 15 Nov 2017 - Hospital Waiting Lists Data)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): I propose to take Questions Nos. 176 to 179, inclusive, together.
In relation to the queries raised, as they are service matters, I have asked the HSE to respond to you directly. 
 ...

178. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Health the waiting list for child scoliosis surgery at the national children’s hospital, Tallaght; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48434/17 asked on 15 Nov 2017 - Hospital Waiting Lists Data)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): I propose to take Questions Nos. 176 to 179, inclusive, together.
In relation to the queries raised, as they are service matters, I have asked the HSE to respond to you directly. 
 ...

179. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Health the waiting list for child scoliosis surgery at Cappagh National Orthopaedic Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48435/17 asked on 15 Nov 2017 - Hospital Waiting Lists Data)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): I propose to take Questions Nos. 176 to 179, inclusive, together.
In relation to the queries raised, as they are service matters, I have asked the HSE to respond to you directly. 
 ...

212. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the number of applications received from within the Connemara electoral area of Galway County Council during this SICAP programme period under the tenure of a company (details supplied); the funding allocated to programmes in the Connemara electoral area during the current SICAP programme period under the company’s tenure; the expenditure on the SICAP programme in the Connemara electoral area during this SICAP programme period under the company’s tenure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48430/17 asked on 15 Nov 2017 - Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme Data)

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Michael Ring): The Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme (SICAP) is a key intervention for disadvantaged communities, the delivery of which is overseen and managed by the relevant Local Community Development Committee (LCDC) in each Local Authority area.  Whilst complying with the programme’s aims, objectives and requirements, Programme Implementers are expected to ensure that actions set out under SICAP reflect the priorities an...

111. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Finance if a person can claim back Vehicle Registration Tax, VRT, on a motorhome in cases in which it is sold abroad; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 47745/17 asked on 14 Nov 2017 - Vehicle Registration)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Section 135D of the Finance Act 1992 provides for repayment of Vehicle Registration Tax on passenger vehicles exported from the State. These vehicles are subject to VRT at the category A rate which can be as high as 36% of the value of the vehicle.
Vehicles in category B, which includes commercial vehicles as well as motor caravans, benefit from the lower VRT rate of 13.3%. Given that these vehicles are already in receipt of, in many cases, highly ...

112. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Finance the reason he has ended the rent tax credit for persons that rent from private landlords; his plans to introduce other tax concessions for persons paying rent; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 47751/17 asked on 14 Nov 2017 - Tax Credits)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): The process to abolish the rent tax credit has been under way for many years.  The Commission on Taxation reviewed the credit in 2009 and concluded that the net effect of the rent relief was to increase the cost of private rented accommodation, and as a result recommended that the rent relief should be discontinued.  In Budget 2011, the process to abolish the credit was commenced on a phased basis.  The credit was abolished for new entrants and the ...

154. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Education and Skills the funding available for schools for the provision of horticulture classes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 47746/17 asked on 14 Nov 2017 - School Curriculum)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Schools are funded by capitation grants and have the flexibility to decide at local school level how such funding is used. The Department provides several curricular and other supports which include possible horticultural projects, but does not seek to impose particular routes of study on individual schools. The following is an outline of the ways in which horticulture can form part of a school’s educational activities or curriculum.
P...

290. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Health the position regarding medicinal cannabis; his plans to legislate to allow for medicinal cannabis here; the timeframe for the introduction of such legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 47744/17 asked on 14 Nov 2017 - Cannabis for Medicinal Use)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Cannabis is strictly controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Acts, 1977 to 2016 and the Regulations made thereunder. 
The two most common active components found in cannabis oil are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
CBD is derived from cannabis. However, since CBD is not psychoactive it is not controlled under the Misuse of Drugs legislation, therefore does not require a licence. CBD oil is not authorised as a medicinal product, however, ...