68. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on whether it is now time to examine the possibility of requiring Israeli citizens who reside in illegal settlements to undergo the same visa application process as that which Palestinians are subject to in order to enter here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20762/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Visa Applications)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): The determination of visa requirements is primarily a matter for the Minister for Justice and Equality. I understand however that the existence of a visa requirement is dependent on the citizenship and travel document held by the traveller, and not on their home address.
 ...

151. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on whether it is now time to examine the possibility of requiring Israeli citizens who reside in illegal settlements to undergo the same visa application process as that which Palestinians are subject to in order to enter here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20763/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Visa Applications)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The requirements for which countries are visa-required to come to Ireland are kept under regular review in consultation with my colleague, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade.  
A wide range of factors are considered in determining which countries are visa required. In particular, the Government is pursuing a strategy of greater co-ordination and co-operation on visa matters with the United Kingdom (UK) in the conte...

296. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her Department has the right to reduce jobseeker’s benefit for non-attendance at Intreo meetings (details supplied). (Question 20764/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Jobseeker’s Benefit)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Penalty Rates are a legal provision within the Jobseeker schemes to ensure that the Department can achieve compliance with Government Activation Policy as stated in Pathways to Work. 
Activation measures include the requirement to attend group or individual meetings, and/or avail of suitable education, training or development opportunities, or specified employment programmes, which are considered appropriate to a per...

35. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the action he plans to take to address the difficulty of housing applicants in finding private rented accommodation within the HAP or homeless HAP limits in many parts of Dublin and the refusal of local authorities to provide increases in these limits in line with actual rents in these areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19870/18 asked on 08 May 2018 - Housing Assistance Payment Administration)

Deputy Eoghan Murphy: My Department and I are constantly monitoring housing assistance payment data and other key information relating to the private rental market. Indications are that the current HAP rent limits and the flexibility to exceed those rent limits provide local authorities with sufficient capacity to assist households in securing rented accommodation that meets their needs. Indeed, increasing the HAP rent limits in particular local authority areas could have further inflationary ...

60. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to make legislative changes to ensure that persons in receipt of the housing assistance payment, HAP, are kept on the regular social housing list rather than on a transfer list; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19867/18 asked on 08 May 2018 - Local Authority Housing Waiting Lists)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): The Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) is considered to be a social housing support and consequently households are not eligible to remain on the main housing waiting list. However, acknowledging that some households on the waiting list, who avail of HAP, have expectations that they would receive a more traditional form of social housing support, Ministerial directions have issued to ensure that, should they so choose, HAP...

63. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to review and increase the income limits for eligibility for social housing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19869/18 asked on 08 May 2018 - Social and Affordable Housing Eligibility)

Deputy Brendan Smith: For a number of years I have been raising, with the Minister, his predecessor and the Minister of State, the urgent need to increase the income eligibility limits for social housing. In my constituency of Cavan-Monaghan, we are in the lowest zone in the country whereby the income limit for a single person is €25,000 and for a couple is €30,000. It is a 40% differential between that and most other counties throughout the country. We are condemning people to not being able...

86. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if he will report on the latest homeless figures; the reason he is of the view these figures have been overstated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19866/18 asked on 08 May 2018 - Homeless Persons Data)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): I propose to take Questions Nos. 43, 61, 68, 69, 70 and 86 together.
My Department currently publishes data on a monthly basis on the number of homeless persons accommodated in emergency accommodation funded and overseen by housing authorities. These reports are based on data provided by housing authorities, produced through the Pathway Accommodation & Support System (PASS). The reports are collated on a regional basi...

27. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a travel pass will issue to a person (details supplied) irrespective of means. (Question 19306/18 asked on 03 May 2018 - Free Travel Scheme Applications)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The current free travel scheme provides free travel on the main public and private transport services for those eligible under the scheme. These include road, rail and ferry services provided by companies such as Bus Átha Cliath, Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann, as well as Luas and services provided by over 80 private transport operators. There are currently approximately 908,000 customers with direct eligibility wi...

35. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the way in which she plans to address the anomaly that persons who are homeless and under 25 years of age on jobseeker’s allowance are on a reduced payment as per the rules of the scheme making it much more difficult for them to extricate themselves from homelessness. (Question 19307/18 asked on 03 May 2018 - Jobseeker’s Allowance)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): In line with other EU and OECD jurisdictions where such measures feature in their social welfare systems, reduced rates for younger jobseeker’s allowance recipients were first introduced in 2009. These were further extended in subsequent budgets and now apply to jobseeker’s allowance recipients under 26 years of age. This is a targeted, non-discriminatory, measure aimed at protecting young people from welfare depende...

209. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Health if he will report on the referendum campaign on the eighth amendment to the Constitution. (Question 18890/18 asked on 03 May 2018 - Constitutional Amendments)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): I propose to take Questions Nos. 208 to 210, inclusive, together.
The Minister for Housing Planning and Local Government has made a Polling Day Order for a referendum to be held on Friday 25 May 2018.
On Polling Day, the people will be asked to vote on whether they agree or disagree with the proposal to delete Article 40.3.3 in its entirety, and to substitute an article in the Constitution, the object and effect of which would be to articulate clearly t...

3. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Taoiseach the Cabinet committee at which communications and media mergers are discussed; and when it last met. (Question 18889/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Media Mergers)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 4, inclusive, together.
The object of Cabinet Committee D, infrastructure, is to ensure a co-ordinated approach to the development and implementation of policy on housing infrastructure investment and delivery, climate action and the delivery of Project Ireland 2040.
 ...

114. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Health the estimated amount it would cost to award medical cards to persons with a recognised disability who do not qualify due to means; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19140/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Medical Card Eligibility)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Medical card provision is primarily based on financial assessment. In accordance with the provisions of the Health Act 1970 (as amended), eligibility for a medical card is determined by the HSE. The Act obliges the HSE to assess whether a person is unable, without due hardship, to arrange general practitioner services for himself or herself and his or her family, having regard to his or her overall financial position and reasonable expenditure and every...

169. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the estimated amount it would cost to award travel passes to persons who do not qualify due to means; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19139/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Free Travel Scheme Data)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The current free travel scheme provides free travel on the main public and private transport services for those eligible under the scheme. These include road, rail and ferry services provided by companies such as Bus Átha Cliath, Bus Éireann and Iarnród Éireann, as well as Luas and services provided by over 80 private transport operators. There are currently approx. 908,000 customers with direct eligibility with an ...

6. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Taoiseach if he will report on the work of the international, European Union and Northern Ireland division of his Department. (Question 18888/18 asked on 01 May 2018 - Departmental Functions)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 4 to 6 together.
The international, EU and Northern Ireland division of my Department covers work on all international, EU, British-Irish and Northern Ireland affairs within the Department, including Brexit issues. The division supports me in my international role including as a member of the European Council and in my other EU and international engagements. The division also provides advice and support to me on Northern Ireland affairs, British-...

46. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if her attention has been drawn to a recent article and documentary detailing the alleged mishandling of disclosures of serious abuse at a service (details supplied); the measures being taken by her Department in relation to staff and board members for allegedly misleading investigators and victims; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18894/18 asked on 01 May 2018 - Child Protection)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I propose to take Questions Nos. 46 and 57 together.
Officials from my Department have been in contact with this organisation in relation to the allegations made. They were informed that the organisation carried out its own internal investigation into handling of the allegation of serious abuse and determined that the complainant had not reported the alleged abuse to any member of staff at the time the alleged incident occurred....

57. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if her Department has had engagement with a service (details supplied) in view of alleged mishandling of disclosures of abuse detailed in a recent article and documentary; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18895/18 asked on 01 May 2018 - Child Protection)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I propose to take Questions Nos. 46 and 57 together.
Officials from my Department have been in contact with this organisation in relation to the allegations made. They were informed that the organisation carried out its own internal investigation into handling of the allegation of serious abuse and determined that the complainant had not reported the alleged abuse to any member of staff at the time the alleged incident occurred....

375. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if children born in Mother and Baby Homes will be eligible for redress to address the psychological impact of having been separated from their birth mother; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18590/18 asked on 01 May 2018 - Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): The question of redress for former residents of Mother and Baby Homes is one which I have addressed on a number of occasions and I am happy to restate the Government’s position for the Deputy. 
Mother and Baby Homes have not been central to any previous statutory inquiry so this Commission must be given the opportunity to advance its investigation and to establish the facts of what happened in and around these institutions.
The ...

423. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the measures available from her Department to assist a person (details supplied) in order to extricate themselves from homelessness; her plans to address this anomaly for persons in similar situations under 25 years of age; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18920/18 asked on 01 May 2018 - Homeless Persons Supports)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The person concerned has been in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance since 30th December 2013 and had availed of the Back to Education programme which afforded him the higher weekly rate of payment for Jobseekers Allowance.
In March of this year the person concerned withdrew from the Back to Education programme, he was then referred to the Homeless Persons Unit, North Cumberland Street where he met with a Community Wel...

429. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the number of families in receipt of FIS in circumstances in which the worker is employed in the public sector or the semi-State sector by public or semi-State areas; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19025/18 asked on 01 May 2018 - Working Family Payment Data)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Working Family Payment (WFP) formerly known as Family Income Supplement (FIS) is a weekly tax-free payment which provides additional income support to employees on low earnings with children.
There are currently some 3,423 families in receipt of WFP who are employed in the public sector.
The Department is unable provide a detailed breakdown of the number of families in receipt of WFP who are employed in the semi-State...

436. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the percentage and number of unskilled workers over 50 years of age who received full-time employment through Turas Nua from April 2016 to April 2017; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19116/18 asked on 01 May 2018 - Labour Activation Programmes Data)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): My Department provides a range of activation supports catering for long-term unemployed jobseekers and those most distant from the labour market to secure and sustain full-time paid employment. These supports include the JobPath service. The JobPath service is designed to support people who are long-term unemployed to secure and sustain paid employment. This service is delivered by two companies, Seetec Ltd and Tu...

459. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans for families that entered into the affordable housing scheme and now need to move due to geographical or family size need in circumstances in which they are not in a position to increase their mortgage and the clawback is still owing to the council in view of the fact that there is no follow-on to the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18919/18 asked on 01 May 2018 - Housing Provision)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Homes sold to first-time buyers under previous affordable housing schemes, at a significant discount from market value, contained a clawback provision, in order to prevent short-term profit-taking on the resale of the discounted house, to the detriment of the schemes’ objectives. 
Under the clawback provisions, as set out in the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, and the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Ac...

126. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Health if he will report on the closure of 12 hospital beds at the National Rehabilitation Hospital, Dún Laoghaire, in January 2018; when these beds will be reopened; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18336/18 asked on 26 Apr 2018 - Disability 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 Programme for Partnership Government, which is guided by two principles: equality ...

66. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the discussions he has had with his counterparts in Europe regarding the growing international movement to combat plastics pollution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 14028/18 asked on 25 Apr 2018 - Waste Management)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): Discussions between my Department and the EU in relation to actions on plastics have been in the context of the European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy, which the Commission published on 16 January 2018. The strategy is built around 4 key actions:
- Improving the economics and quality of plastics recycling 
- Curbing plastic waste and littering
- Driving innovation and investment towards circular so...

230. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if original bank statements are required in order for her Department to carry out a means test; if information on statements is allowed to be redacted; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18138/18 asked on 25 Apr 2018 - Social Welfare Payments Administration)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Qualification for a number of assistance payment from my Department require a means test to be undertaken to assess the customers’ eligibility. One of the factors that are taken into account in the calculation of means is any investments and savings that the customer may have. To carry out a means test in respect of savings, original bank statements should be provided. If it is not possible to provide an original bank...

234. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if a concession will be made for a person (details supplied) to continue their community employment scheme onto the service support scheme until retirement; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18282/18 asked on 25 Apr 2018 - Community Employment Schemes Places)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The person concerned commenced a placement on the community employment scheme (CE) on 14/5/12 and will complete the overall lifetime limit of 6 years on 4/5/18. This is the maximum participation period allowable per current CE scheme guidelines for a person of his circumstances. As the person concerned will not reach 62 years of age until 19/9/18, he does not meet the eligibility criteria to participate in the servi...