73. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance his plans to amend the applicable rates of VAT so that school uniforms of all sizes are rated at 0%. (Question 48786/14 asked on 18 Dec 2014 - VAT Rate Application)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): The VAT rating of goods and services is subject to the requirements of EU VAT law with which Irish VAT law must comply. In this regard, the rate of VAT that applies to a particular good or service is determined by the nature of the good or service, and not by the status of the customer. 
Children’s clothing and footwear are subject to the zero rate for children up to and including 11 years. The zero rating applies according to the following criteria:...

80. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the position regarding bilateral loans and financial borrowings from the British Government to the State. (Question 48935/14 asked on 18 Dec 2014 - National Debt)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): The bilateral loan to Ireland from the United Kingdom as set out in a loan agreement dated 22 December 2010, as Amended and Restated pursuant to the Amendment Agreement dated 4 October 2012, is for a total of £3,226,960,000.00.
The full amount of the UK Bilateral Loan has been drawn down.
The loan was drawn down in eight tranches, following the successful completion of the relevant EU/IMF Programme reviews, and details are set out in the table below....

81. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if the State has formally requested a waiver on the early repayment of bilateral loans from the British Government and the outcome of any such request. (Question 48936/14 asked on 18 Dec 2014 - National Debt)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): There is no proposal to make an early repayment of any of our bilateral loans from the United Kingdom, the Kingdom of Sweden and the Kingdom of Denmark and the issue of seeking a waiver in this respect does not therefore arise.
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82. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if he will provide both the date and amount of the latest repayment on bilateral loans to the British Government by the State. (Question 48937/14 asked on 18 Dec 2014 - National Debt)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): The bilateral loan to Ireland from the United Kingdom as set out in a loan agreement dated 22 December 2010, as Amended and Restated pursuant to the Amendment Agreement dated 4 October 2012, is for a total of £3,226,960,000.00.
The full amount under the UK Bilateral Loan has been drawn down, with the last of eight tranches being disbursed on 26 September 2013.
The first repayment of £403,370,000 is due to be made on 14 April 2019.
The final repayment...

86. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance the way the early repayment of IMF loans will affect the relationship between Ireland and the IMF as regards the monitoring of the State by the IMF. (Question 49015/14 asked on 18 Dec 2014 - IMF Loan Issues)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): The early repayment of up to €18.3 billion of our loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is being structured to ensure that IMF post programme monitoring continues for the initially envisaged period, i.e. up to mid-2021.  
It is normal for a member country to engage in post-program monitoring with the IMF after its programme has ended as long as its outstanding loan exceeds 200 percent of its IMF quota, and when it no longer has program inv...

496. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills if her attention has been drawn to the negative impact which increases to the minimum pupil numbers needed for maintaining staffing levels in primary schools since budget 2012 has had on schools; if her attention has been further drawn to the threat this has posed to rural schools where enrolment figures often fluctuate and face the loss of teaching staff in instances where pupil numbers dip below a certain figure in any one year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48939/14 asked on 18 Dec 2014 - School Staffing)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O’Sullivan): The Government recognises that small schools are an important part of the social fabric of rural communities. They will continue to be a feature of our education landscape. However, this does not mean that small schools can stand still or never have their staffing levels changed to something that is more affordable and sustainable for the challenging times the country has faced in recent years. The staffing schedule at primary level dis...

28. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection when a person (details supplied) in County Donegal will receive a date for an oral hearing regarding a claim for carer’s allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48504/14 asked on 17 Dec 2014 - Carer’s Allowance Applications)

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): The Social Welfare Appeals Office has advised me that the appeal from the person concerned was referred to an Appeals Officer who has decided to convene an oral hearing in this case.
Every effort will be made to hear the case as quickly as possible and the appellant will be informed when arrangements for the oral hearing have been made.
The Social Welfare Appeals Office functions independently of the Minister for Social Protection...

41. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection if she will provide a breakdown in tabular form over the past five years of the number of persons in receipt of rent supplement by county; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48665/14 asked on 17 Dec 2014 - Rent Supplement Scheme Data)

Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection (Deputy Kevin Humphreys): I propose to take Questions Nos. 40 and 41 together.
The Implementation Plan on the State’s Response to Homelessness published in May 2014 is the Government’s Strategy to bring about an end to involuntary long-term homelessness by the end of 2016. My colleague, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government recently announced the provision of 260 additional emergency beds in Dublin to be availabl...

42. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection if she will provide a breakdown by location of the current waiting times for an appointment with the Money Advice and Budgeting Service; the number of staff in each branch over the past five years; the number of full-time staff who have been recruited to the service over the past five years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48667/14 asked on 17 Dec 2014 - Money Advice and Budgeting Service)

Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS), under the aegis of the Citizens Information Board (CIB), assists people who are over-indebted and need help and advice in coping with debt problems, in particular those on low incomes and people living on social welfare payments. In 2014 funding of some €18.6 million was provided to MABS.
Information on the waiting times in each MABS office is compiled on a quarterly basis and posted ...

55. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the UK Chancellor who has announced measures to provide a VAT exemption for mountain rescue teams; his plans to introduce a similar measure in this State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48661/14 asked on 17 Dec 2014 - VAT Exemptions)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the VAT rating of goods and services is subject to the requirements of EU VAT law, with which Irish VAT law must comply. While we can maintain the zero rating on those goods and services which were zero-rated before 1 January 1991, the goods and services referred to by the Deputy do not fall within this category. Similarly, Member States may only apply a reduced VAT rate to those goods and services set...

59. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the reason an overpayment occurred in relation to a pension and gratuity in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48502/14 asked on 17 Dec 2014 - Pension Provisions)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): It would not be appropriate for me to comment publicly on the details of individual pensions cases.
Pensions overpayment cases are unusual but do sometimes arise where a case is particularly complex. Where the collation of relevant data has not been completed before an individual retires, every effort is made to ensure that the retiree is not left out of pocket, even if this may mean that an overpayment may need to be recouped ...

79. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason a person (details supplied) in County Donegal has not received their disadvantaged area payment or their single farm payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48503/14 asked on 17 Dec 2014 - Unknown)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): The person named submitted a 2014 Single Payment/Disadvantaged Areas scheme application on 14 March 2014. Processing of the application has recently been finalised and payments issued on 11 December 2014 under the Single Payment Scheme and is due to issue shortly in respect of the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme. 
 ...

80. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the action he is taking to reduce the backlog in the number of farmers in County Donegal who are currently waiting on a field inspection to be carried out as part of having their applications for single farm payments processed due to unsuccessful remote sensing inspections having been previously carried out on their lands; if his attention has been drawn to the financial impact that this delay in receiving payments is having on farmers; if he will allow for a partial payment to be made to farmers who are currently waiting on a ground inspection to be carried out on their lands; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48511/14 asked on 17 Dec 2014 - Single Payment Scheme Administration)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): EU Regulations governing the administration of the Single Farm Payment/Disadvantaged Areas’ Schemes, and other area based schemes, requires my Department to carry out an annual round of inspections, both in the field and by means of Remote Sensing, to ensure the eligibility of land declared to drawdown payments. The basis of these inspections is governed by EU legislation and there are minimum numbers that must be conducted ea...

96. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the position regarding the setting up of an islands working group (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48662/14 asked on 17 Dec 2014 - Island Communities)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): The details provided with the Parliamentary Question include reference to a number of schemes and supports delivered by my Department via the Rural Development Programme. The new Rural Development Programme (RDP) 2014-2020 will be a key support in enhancing the competitiveness of the agri-food sector, achieving a more sustainable management of natural resources and ensuring a more balanced development of rural areas. These a...

97. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans to make the draft rural development plan as submitted to the European Commission available to the public on his Department’s website; if he has addressed the observations made by the European Commission; if he plans to make the observations of the Commission and his Department’s response to same publicly available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48671/14 asked on 17 Dec 2014 - Rural Development Plan)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Ireland’s draft Rural Development Programme (RDP), 2014-2020 was submitted to the European Commission on 3rd July, 2014. The draft RDP has been available on my Department’s website since that time. The formal observations of the EU Commission were received on 20th October, and a reply issued from my Department on 11th November. In relation to the observations received from the EU Commission, the release of this document wou...

98. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views of observation number 140 and 149 contained in the European Commission’s observation document Ireland, rural development programme national (details supplied) in respect of the GLAS scheme; if the observations made by the European Commission suggest that there is a requirement for 50% agreement among commonage farmers in order to be eligible for payment under GLAS; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48672/14 asked on 17 Dec 2014 - GLAS Scheme Eligibility)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Firstly I would like to point out that my priority is to put in place requirements for commonages that will deliver real and measurable environmental benefits and will fit within the framework of the Rural Development Regulations, which require that farmers are only paid for actions which exceed the baseline for the Basic Payment Scheme. At recent meetings with the Commission it was made clear that it is incumbent on Member S...

102. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Defence the reason there is no continuance in service for a person in the Defence Forces if they rank lower than sergeant level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48501/14 asked on 17 Dec 2014 - Defence Forces Personnel)

Minister for Defence (Deputy Simon Coveney): As I have outlined previously to the House, a claim has been received from the Permanent Defence Force Other Ranks Representative Association (PDFORRA) in relation to this matter and it is being dealt with under the Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme for members of the Permanent Defence Force. Discussions have been taking place with the Representative Association, with regards to their claim, under a special Subcommittee of Conciliation Council. As...

125. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if figures are collected by her Department on the number of mortgage repossession cases initiated through the courts; if she will monitor the number of repossession cases initiated; if she will provide the figures publicly per court if available; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48666/14 asked on 17 Dec 2014 - Mortgage Resolution Processes)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I wish to inform the Deputy that, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service which is independent in exercising its functions, which include the provision of information on the courts system. However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has informed me that the information is as provided below. The ...

147. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Health the number of clients with special needs one personal assistant provided by the Health Service Executive is responsible for when travelling by bus in a group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48498/14 asked on 17 Dec 2014 - Services for People with Disabilities)

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch) (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): As the Deputy’s question relates to service matters, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive (HSE) for direct reply to the Deputy. If the Deputy has not received a reply from the HSE within 15 working days, he can contact my Private Office and they will follow the matter up with the HSE
 ...

148. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) in County Donegal will receive an appointment for a hernia operation at Letterkenny General Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48499/14 asked on 17 Dec 2014 - Hospital Waiting Lists)

Minister for Health (Deputy Leo Varadkar): The National Waiting List Management Policy, A standardised approach to managing scheduled care treatment for in-patient, day case and planned procedures, January 2014, has been developed to ensure that all administrative, managerial and clinical staff follow an agreed national minimum standard for the management and administration of waiting lists for scheduled care. This policy, which has been adopted by the Health Service Executive, sets out the pro...

231. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the reason a person (details supplied) in county Donegal was not considered for a separate bedroom under priority 3 of the housing adaptation grant for people with a disability; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48500/14 asked on 17 Dec 2014 - Housing Adaptation Grant Applications)

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Paudie Coffey): My Department provides capital allocations to each Local Authority under the suite of Housing Adaptation Grants for Older People and People with a Disability. The schemes are 80% funded by my Department, with a 20% contribution from the local authority. 
The detailed administration of these schemes, including the assessment, approval and payment of grants to applicants, is the respons...

240. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide a breakdown in tabular form of the number of rental accommodation scheme tenants by county; the average rent paid to landlords per month under the RAS scheme by county; the number of RAS contracts by county that are due to expire in the next 12 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48663/14 asked on 17 Dec 2014 - Rental Accommodation Scheme Application Numbers)

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): The Rental Accommodation Scheme (RAS) is a targeted scheme catering for the accommodation needs of persons in receipt of Rent Supplement from the Department of Social Protection, generally for more than 18 months, and who are assessed as having a long-term housing need. My Department does not hold information on the numbers in RAS at any given time. The numbers in RAS fluctuate as, inter alia, contracts end, tenan...

241. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide a breakdown by county of the number of current social housing units that are not currently let; the number of these that are available to let; the number of these that will be available to be let in the next three months; the number of social housing units that will be constructed by county in the next 12 months; the number of persons on each local authority social housing list; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48664/14 asked on 17 Dec 2014 - Social and Affordable Housing Provision)

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): Under Section 58 of the Housing Act 1966, local authorities, as the housing authorities for their areas, are responsible for the management and maintenance of local authority housing stock and my Department does not hold some of the specific information sought. Statistics on local authority housing stock, including units that may be empty, are published by the Local Government Management Agency; the most recent dat...

242. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide a breakdown by county of the number of temporary accommodation beds provided; the number of these that are currently occupied; the number of persons who have sought temporary accommodation by county in the past three months; the number of persons currently registered as homeless by county; the funding provided to local authorities and other services in order to provide temporary accommodation on a county basis over the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48668/14 asked on 17 Dec 2014 - Homeless Accommodation Provision)

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): Data on homeless households in emergency accommodation is provided through the Pathway Accommodation & Support System (PASS). Quarterly reports from lead housing authorities are being published on my Department’s website as soon as these are available. In addition, lead housing authorities provide monthly reports on homelessness which identify the number of people utilising State-funded emergency accommodation on a...

243. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide a breakdown on by county of the funding provided to community services directed towards women; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48669/14 asked on 17 Dec 2014 - Community Development Initiatives)

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Alan Kelly): I assume the Question refers to my Department’s Local and Community Development Programme (LCDP). The LCDP is the largest social inclusion intervention of its kind in the State. The current Programme officially ended at the end of 2013 having operated for four years with funding of €281 million over that period. It is being implemented on a transitional basis for 2014 with a budget of €47 million pending the roll...