34. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the blocks preventing the immediate ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 44195/17 asked on 19 Oct 2017 - UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities)

Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy Finian McGrath): Ireland signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2007 and since then, successive Governments have emphasised Ireland’s strong commitment to proceed to ratification as quickly as possible, taking into account the need to ensure all necessary legislative and administrative requirements under the Convention are met. This Government remains committed to ratification of the Convention. 
It ...

46. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to mark the United Nations’ International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 44196/17 asked on 19 Oct 2017 - UN Declarations)

Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy Finian McGrath): I wholeheartedly support the aims of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities and will use the day in December to raise awareness of the needs of persons with disabilities. I would encourage groups operating in the Disability Sector to highlight and support the occasion. This year, the theme of the day is “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient society for all” and in this context I have pro...

155. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Health the procedure a person should go through if they require surgery in another country; the way in which they receive a referral for the surgery; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 44347/17 asked on 19 Oct 2017 - Cross-Border Health Services Provision)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): The Directive on Patients’ Rights in Cross Border Healthcare provides rules for the reimbursements to patients of the cost of receiving treatment abroad, where the patient would be entitled to such treatment in their home Member State, and supplements the rights that patients already have at EU level. Public patients may access the healthcare they require in either the public or private healthcare system of another Member State under the Cross-Border Di...

157. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Health if the regulations on health insurance require that a health insurance company here must take into account the number of years that a person returning here has had with an international health insurance company; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 44353/17 asked on 19 Oct 2017 - Health Insurance Regulation)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Periods of cover on health insurance plans held outside the State are not taken into account for the purposes of waiting periods, as such plans do not comply with health insurance legislation or the key principles of community rating, open enrolment, lifetime cover and minimum benefit on which the Irish private health insurance regulatory system is based.
Community rating is a fundamental cornerstone of the Irish health insurance system and means that p...

10. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Taoiseach when Cabinet Committee A (Economy) will next meet. (Question 43786/17 asked on 18 Oct 2017 - Cabinet Committee Meetings)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 7 to 10, inclusive, together.
Cabinet Committee A held its first meeting on 12 September. Its focus is on economic issues, including implementation of the Action Plan for Jobs 2017 and preparation of a new, more focused, action plan for next year; labour market policies, including implementation of Pathways to Work and responding to emerging skills pressures; competitiveness and productivity challenges for businesses, including pressures from rece...

55. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if his Department’s allocation in budget 2018 will see the issue of chronic low pay addressed in the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 44030/17 asked on 18 Oct 2017 - Defence Forces Remuneration)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 55 and 71 together. 
Budget 2018 includes an increased provision of €25 million for 2018, and an additional €98 million for capital expenditure out to 2021. This reflects the Government’s commitment to defence and to our Defence Forces.
The 2018 pay allocation of some €509 million provides for the pay and allowances for a full strength Permanent Defence Force of up to 9,500 personnel, 550 civil...

74. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the way in which he plans to address the staffing shortages in the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 44031/17 asked on 18 Oct 2017 - Defence Forces Strength)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 48, 63, 68, 72 and 74 together.
The Government is committed to maintaining the establishment of the Permanent Defence Force at 9,500 personnel. The rank distribution within the 9,500 PDF establishment was set in 2012 on foot of a reorganisation of the Defence Forces. The White Paper on Defence (2015) confirmed that this organisational structure continues to meet Defence needs. A key challenge ...

150. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Health when the new support scheme for IVF will be available; the assistance available until then; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 44198/17 asked on 18 Oct 2017 - Assisted Human Reproduction Services Provision)

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.
In relation to the issue of public funding and AHR treatment, I intend to revert to Government by the end of this year with proposals for a potential model of public funding for AHR ...

50. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will report on the affordable child care scheme; the current and projected funding; the take-up across the country; the level of subsidies being given; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 43792/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Affordable Childcare Scheme Data)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I am committed to ensuring that childcare is affordable, accessible and of a high quality. I continue to work with my officials to deliver the new Affordable Childcare Scheme (ACS). Strong progress is being made in this regard with all the elements of the scheme, including the IT system and an ACS Bill.
The increase in supports I have provided for the 2017/2018 programme year represents a major step towards accessible, affordab...

514. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the takeup of the affordable childcare scheme rolled out in September 2017 by area and cost of subsidies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 43797/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Affordable Childcare Scheme Implementation)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I am committed to ensuring that childcare is affordable, accessible and of a high quality.
The increase in supports I have provided for the 2017/2018 programme year represents a major step towards accessible, affordable, quality childcare after decades of neglect and under-investment by successive Governments. There are two supports being rolled out under the Community Childcare Scheme. These include universal (non means teste...

515. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will report on the €35 million allocated to her Department for childcare schemes in budget 2017; the schemes it funded; if she will provide a breakdown of funding for the different schemes; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 43798/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Child Care Services Funding)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): In Budget 2017 I was pleased to secure a gross funding allocation for my Department of €1,286 million, representing an increase of €172 million on 2016.
€466 million in 2017 has been allocated to Childcare. The primary components of this spend are capitation for the Early Childhood Care and Education Scheme (ECCE) at €278 million, capitation for the targeted schemes including the Community Childcare Subvention Scheme (CCS) and ...

516. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs further to Parliamentary Question No. 183 of 27 September 2017, if further information has been received by Tusla; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 43832/17 asked on 17 Oct 2017 - Child and Family Agency Investigations)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I am aware that the Deputy provided more information to allow Tusla, the Child and Family Agency to examine the issues concerned. I am advised that the information was not sufficient enough to allow the report to be sourced. Therefore, in order to facilitate further searches, I would request that the Deputy please provide further detailed information to my Department.
 ...

119. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 542 of 31 January 2017, the position regarding the scheme eight months later; when this scheme will be available to members of the public; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 43273/17 asked on 12 Oct 2017 - Motorised Transport Grant)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): I was pleased to have the opportunity to discuss the proposed Health (Transport Support) Bill with the Joint Committee on Public Petitions on Wednesday 11th October. The Deputy will be familiar with the background to the closure of both the Mobility Allowance and Motorised Transport Grant schemes in February 2013. Since the closure of the Mobility Allowance, the Government has directed that the Health Service Executive should continue to pay an equiva...

21. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will report on the planned transfer of ownership of Dún Laoghaire harbour to Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 42168/17 asked on 11 Oct 2017 - Harbours and Piers)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company, as a Port of Regional Significance, is designated under National Ports Policy for transfer to Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council. The process of transferring governance of Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company to Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council is ongoing. This process and the future operational structures of the port are primarily matters for agreement between the Council and the port.
The Chief Execu...

60. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the way in which the routes tendered to a company (details supplied) will be affected by this transfer; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 42137/17 asked on 11 Oct 2017 - Irish Aviation Authority)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): I refer the Deputy to my reply to question number 9 which I answered earlier.
 ...

161. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he has reviewed the evidence linking diesel exhaust fumes to certain cancers; his plans to ban this type of fuel in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 43080/17 asked on 11 Oct 2017 - Air Pollution)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): Vehicle emissions are a key source of negative health impacts from a range of air pollutants, including nitrogen oxides (NOx) , particulate matter (PM), black carbon and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), particularly in urban areas. Though petrol and diesel road vehicles have met progressively tighter EU emission limits since the early 1990s, a number of factors, including the increase in road traffic volumes ...

23. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Finance if consideration will be given to basing property tax on income for pensioners similar to the French system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 42815/17 asked on 10 Oct 2017 - Property Tax Assessments)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): The 2012 report of the Inter-departmental Group on the Design of a Local Property Tax (the “Thornhill Group”) comprehensively examined the basis of assessment for the Local Property Tax (LPT). The report favoured the use of market value of residential properties as the basis of assessment and this recommendation was accepted by the Government. The Group considered that under a market value approach applied to housing, the market value of a residenti...

25. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Finance the avenue of appeal open to persons that have applied to the State Claims Agency and have had their claim turned down.; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 42480/17 asked on 10 Oct 2017 - State Claims Agency)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): The NTMA is designated as the State Claims Agency (SCA) when managing claims against the State and State Authorities and carrying out related risk management functions in order to reduce the costs of future litigation against the State.
The SCA’s remit covers personal injuries and third-party property damage claims made against approximately 146 State Authorities including the State itself. It also manages third-party costs arising from certain Trib...

30. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Finance if studies have been carried out to investigate the impact of the help-to-buy scheme on house prices; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 42601/17 asked on 10 Oct 2017 - Help-To-Buy Scheme)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): An independent assessment of the Help to Buy initiative with the following terms of reference was commissioned by my predecessor earlier this year:
- Undertake a general evaluation of the Help to Buy Incentive since its inception, including the level of uptake by potential first-time buyers and the rates of registration by contractors to participate in the scheme.
- Examine the design of the incentive, particularly with regard to the Department’s Ta...

70. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his views on whether PeoplePoint has sufficient resources to process all the incoming information; the number of persons in the Civil 
Service waiting on salary adjustments; the length of time they are waiting; if this delay is in accordance with the Payment of Wages Act 1991; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 42478/17 asked on 10 Oct 2017 - Public Sector Pay)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): All payments are made with regard to the provisions of Payment of Wages Acts.  
There are approximately six hundred pay adjustment cases with PeoplePoint related to acting up allowances, assignment to higher scale and pay on promotion, of which 50% are over thirty days old. 
A specialist team is dedicated to progressing the abovementioned cases. It is expected all pay instructions will have issued to the pay centre within the ...

71. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if it is a breach of the Employment Equality Acts in relation to terms and conditions of employment on the ground of disability to oblige disabled civil servants to be members of the 1984 Civil Service (Spouses and Children’s) Superannuation Scheme in view of the 2002 IPA report on the employment and career progression of civil servants with a disability in the civil service (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 42484/17 asked on 10 Oct 2017 - Superannuation Schemes)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): The Civil Service Spouses’ and Children’s Scheme is a contributory scheme, membership of which is compulsory for men appointed on or after 1 January 1969 and women appointed on or after 1 June 1981. Men and women serving prior to the relevant dates were given options to join the scheme. The original scheme provides pensions for the spouse and/or dependent children of a member or eligible dependent children of a member who di...

601. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the objectives of the commission of investigation into mother and baby homes; the actions that will be taken as a result of the commission; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 42604/17 asked on 10 Oct 2017 - Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): The Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes and certain related Matters was established by Government in 2015. Its objective is to provide a full account of what happened to women and children in these homes during the period 1922 to 1998. It is investigating the issues of significant public concern as set out in its terms of reference (S.I. 57 of 2015). The Commission is required to address seven specific ques...

602. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the location of the records for St. Patrick’s mother and baby home, Navan Road, of births, deaths, procedural matters, State involvement and so on; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 42605/17 asked on 10 Oct 2017 - Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I propose to take Questions Nos. 602 and 603 together.
As I have previously stated to the Deputy, my Department does not hold any records from the institution known as St Patrick’s Mother and Baby Home. A cohort of files from this former institution are held by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, and may be accessed by relevant parties through their Information and Tracing Services. In relation to birth and death records from ...

603. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the location of the burial of the babies who died at St. Patrick’s mother and baby home, Navan Road; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 42606/17 asked on 10 Oct 2017 - Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): I propose to take Questions Nos. 602 and 603 together.
As I have previously stated to the Deputy, my Department does not hold any records from the institution known as St Patrick’s Mother and Baby Home. A cohort of files from this former institution are held by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, and may be accessed by relevant parties through their Information and Tracing Services. In relation to birth and death records from ...

735. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the body responsible for ensuring that disability access and facilities are maintained to suitable standards in retail buildings in which these facilities exist; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 42942/17 asked on 10 Oct 2017 - Disability Services Provision)

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Damien English): New buildings and extensions or material alterations to existing buildings must comply with the legal minimum performance standards set out in the Building Regulations 1997 - 2017.  In this context, the Building Regulations (Part M Amendment) Regulations 2010, and the accompanying Technical Guidance Document M – Access and Use (2010), which came into effect on 1 January 2012, set out the minimu...