18. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his plans to mark the 40th anniversary of Ireland’s participation in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20424/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Commemorative Events)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): This year marks significant anniversaries in relation to Ireland’s UN peacekeeping role. It will be the 60th anniversary of Ireland’s first participation in a UN peacekeeping mission and it is the 40th anniversary of the first deployment of Defence Force personnel to Lebanon as part of the UNIFIL mission.
Ireland has made a huge commitment to supporting peace and security in the Middle East region and has participated in the UN...

19. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of Defence Forces personnel deployments both nationally and in County Louth with reference to Storm Emma. (Question 20425/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Defence Forces Deployment)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): In accordance with the Framework for Major Emergency Management, primary responsibility for responding to a severe weather event rests with the three designated Principal Response Agencies, namely the relevant Local Authority, An Garda Siochána, and the Health Service Executive. The Defence Forces provide the fullest possible assistance to the appropriate Lead Department in the event of a natural disaster or an emergency in its...

162. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Health the reason a person (details supplied) had to pay for a medical procedure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20512/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Health Services)

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

457. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a person (details supplied) can buy voluntary contributions to make it up to 520 contributions for a State pension; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20105/18 asked on 08 May 2018 - State Pensions)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The legislation governing voluntary contributions is contained in the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 and Statutory Instrument 312/1996.
The acceptance criteria for the voluntary contributions scheme currently requires applicants 
- To submit an application within 60 months (5 years) of the end of the year in which they last paid, or were credited with a social insurance contribution
- To have a minimum of 520 c...

25. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the impact of the LIS, local improvement scheme, since its reintroduction in 2017; the way in which roads were selected at local level under the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18922/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Local Improvement Scheme Administration)

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Michael Ring): The Local Improvement Scheme was always an important initiative for people living in rural Ireland, as it provides funding for the repair of private roads which are not under the normal maintenance of the Local Authorities.  
I reintroduced dedicated funding for the Local Improvement Scheme in September 2017 after a gap of 8 years and I know, from the response of people that I meet, that the reintroduction of the scheme has alre...

63. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the number of projects that have been applied for and approved under the Leader programme to date; the number of applications being processed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18923/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Leader Programmes Applications)

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Michael Ring): LEADER is a multi-annual EU co-funded programme to support rural development.  Ireland has an allocation of €250 million under the programme over the period 2014-2020, including both national and EU funding.  The programme is administered by Local Action Groups (LAGs) which deliver funding in accordance with Local Development Strategies that have been agreed for each LAG area.
As of 30th April, 2018, 929 project applications wit...

78. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Finance the reason a family (details supplied) that has been discharged from bankruptcy is unable to get mortgage approval two years later; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18588/18 asked on 01 May 2018 - Mortgage Applications Approvals)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): The Deputy may be aware that, as Minister for Finance, I have no direct function in the relationship between banks and their customers. Decisions taken by banks in this regard, and the manner in which they conduct their day-to-day operations, are matters for the board and management of the respective banks. Notwithstanding the fact that the State has shareholdings in some of the banks, I must ensure that these institutions are run on a commercial,...

448. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will address a matter (details supplied) raised in correspondence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18674/18 asked on 01 May 2018 - Water Charges)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): In June 2016 the Oireachtas voted to suspend domestic water charges. An Expert Commission was established to report on the funding of domestic public water services in Ireland and to provide recommendations on a sustainable long-term funding model for domestic water and wastewater services. This Expert Commission reported in November 2016. 
A special Oireachtas committee then examined these recommendations, mainly in p...

16. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on the significance of the opening of the Chinese market to Irish beef, particularly in the context of Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18266/18 asked on 26 Apr 2018 - Food Exports to China)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): The recent opening of the Chinese beef market to Irish beef is hugely significant for the Irish beef industry, all along the chain from farmers through to processors and exporters. It marks the culmination of a number of years work involving my Department, the Irish Embassy in Beijing and with the close co-operation of the Chinese Ambassador in Dublin and his Embassy staff, Bord Bia, and the industry itself. 
My Department h...

28. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the measures being taken to seek new markets for Irish agriculture in the context of Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18265/18 asked on 26 Apr 2018 - Brexit Issues)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): The pursuit and development of new markets for Irish agri-food exports is of course an ongoing and central component of the strategic development of the agri-food sector, as evidenced by its placement right at the centre of Food Wise 2025, the industry’s strategy for development over the coming decade. Indeed, this is all the more relevant after the UK’s decision to leave the EU, which presents significant new challenges for t...

70. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans for the roll-out of a strategy for the future development of greenways and rural cycling; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17719/18 asked on 24 Apr 2018 - Greenways Development)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): I expect to be in a position to publish the National Greenways Strategy before the end of Q2 2018. 
The Strategy will provide a framework for the development of Ireland’s greenways ensuring the best possible return for State investment. Furthermore, the Strategy will determine the type of project that will be funded over the coming decade by my Department and will set out guidance and options for project promoters in relation to th...

88. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on the inclusion of persons with disabilities on the boards of public transport companies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17718/18 asked on 24 Apr 2018 - Appointments to State Boards)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Since becoming a Minister, I have been particularly struck by the personal experiences related to me in my meetings with people with disabilities who use public transport.
As a result of wide consultation with members of the disability community and with disability bodies striving to make an impact, I have decided that the State-owned public transport companies under the auspices of my Department should have at least one board member...

571. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason agencies which refuse to accept the public services card as personal identification will accept a passport which cannot be obtained without the applicant producing a card (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17632/18 asked on 24 Apr 2018 - Public Services Card)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): SAFE Level 2 (SAFE2) registration allows a person to verify their identity once not just for access to services provided by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection but also for an increasing number of public services provided by other State agencies – for example the Passport office. Once a person is registered to SAFE2 they can be issued with a Public Services Card (PSC). 
While it is a matter for...

92. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to strengthen the Garda Reserve to deliver on the commitment to visible and responsive policing in communities throughout the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16484/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Garda Reserve)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the recruitment and training of the Garda Reserve and the distribution of resources, including personnel, among the various Garda Divisions. As Minister, I have no direct role in the matter.
I am advised by the Commissioner that the strength of the Reserve on the 28 February 2018 was 569. It is regrettable that there has been a substantial reduction in the strengt...

426. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the additional accommodation application by a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16101/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - School Accommodation Provision)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): I can confirm that my Department has received an application for additional accommodation at the school referred to by the Deputy.
The application is currently being considered and a decision will be conveyed to the school authority as soon as the assessment process is completed.
 ...

701. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) will receive a hospital appointment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 15159/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Hospital Appointments Status)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive (HSE) is required to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. Section 6 of the HSE Governance Act 2013 bars the Minister for Health from directing the HSE to provide a treatment or a personal service to any individual or to confer eligibility on any individual.
The National Waiting List Management Policy, a standardised approach to managing...

934. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Health when persons (details supplied) will receive an ENT clinic appointment in Drogheda; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16200/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Hospital Appointments Status)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive (HSE) is required to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. Section 6 of the HSE Governance Act 2013 bars the Minister for Health from directing the HSE to provide a treatment or a personal service to any individual or to confer eligibility on any individual.
The National Waiting List Management Policy, a standardised approach to managing...

26. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to restore the capitation grant to primary schools to €200 per pupil; his views on whether choosing not to do so will result in schools continuing to have to fundraise and to seek donations from parents and other sources; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 14274/18 asked on 29 Mar 2018 - School Funding)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): I recognise the need to improve capitation funding for schools having regard to the reductions that were necessary over recent years. The first cuts to capitaion were announced in October 2010 by the then Minister for Finance.  Restoring capitation funding as resources permit is one of the actions included in the Action Plan for Education.
Budget 2018 marked the second year of major reinvestment in the education sector, as we continue to...

39. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Education and Skills when he plans to resolve the deficiencies in the vetting regime for special needs assistants in view of the difficulties this is causing for children with special education needs and their families; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 14275/18 asked on 29 Mar 2018 - Garda Vetting of Personnel)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): In April 2016, my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality commenced the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012 to 2016 (the Vetting Act) which put in place statutory requirements for the Garda vetting of persons involved in working with children and vulnerable persons.
The Vetting Act applies not just to schools but to any relevant organisation that employs, contracts, permits or places a person in r...

281. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the difficulties schools are experiencing owing to the deficiencies in the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 and Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016; if his attention has been further drawn to the practicalities of the employment of substitute special needs assistants in schools; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that these difficulties sometimes result in schools having no choice but to send pupils with special educational needs home due to the fact their welfare cannot be adequately protected; his plans with the Minister for Justice and Equality to address this legislative deficiency; the practical guidance he will provide to schools to address this issue pending the necessary amending legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 14111/18 asked on 27 Mar 2018 - Special Educational Needs Service Provision)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): In April 2016, my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality commenced the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012 to 2016 (the Vetting Act) which put in place statutory requirements for the Garda vetting of persons involved in working with children and vulnerable persons.
The Vetting Act applies not just to schools but to any relevant organisation that employs, contracts, permits or places a person in r...

374. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) will receive a hospital appointment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 13793/18 asked on 27 Mar 2018 - Hospital Appointments Status)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive (HSE) is required to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. Section 6 of the HSE Governance Act 2013 bars the Minister for Health from directing the HSE to provide a treatment or a personal service to any individual or to confer eligibility on any individual.
The National Waiting List Management Policy, a standardised approach to managing...

425. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) will receive notification of their appointment in the Mater Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 14059/18 asked on 27 Mar 2018 - Hospital Appointments Status)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive (HSE) is required to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. Section 6 of the HSE Governance Act 2013 bars the Minister for Health from directing the HSE to provide a treatment or a personal service to any individual or to confer eligibility on any individual.
The National Waiting List Management Policy, a standardised approach to managing...

426. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Health the reason general practitioners are accepting patients for just six months at the request that they allocate themselves another general practitioner within the six month timeframe; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 14060/18 asked on 27 Mar 2018 - General Practitioner Services)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): As this question relates to a service matter, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.
 ...

88. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Finance the way in which a bond owned by a person (details supplied) can be cashed. (Question 12448/18 asked on 20 Mar 2018 - Government Bonds)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): I am advised by the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) that Bank of Ireland historically acted as registrars for certain bonds and Savings Schemes on behalf of the State. Bank of Ireland ceased to fulfil this function some years ago. 
The Central Bank of Ireland is now responsible for the maintenance of the register of Irish Government Bonds. As part of its responsibilities the Central Bank of Ireland also maintains in respect of Irish Gover...

323. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if there is a cap on the legal aid a barrister or solicitor and their firms can make in divorce cases; if there is a disincentive for them to prolong such cases (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 12191/18 asked on 20 Mar 2018 - Legal Aid Service Data)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Civil legal aid in the State is delivered through the Legal Aid Board pursuant to the Civil Legal Aid Act 1995 and the Civil Legal Aid Regulations 1996 - 2017.
Legal aid in judicial separation and divorce cases is generally provided by solicitors who are employees of the Legal Aid Board. As such, their terms and conditions of employment are those applicable in the Civil Service generally and there is no distinction as to the type of ca...