3. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Taoiseach when Cabinet committee E (health) will next meet. (Question 13944/18 asked on 18 Apr 2018 - Cabinet Committee Meetings)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 5, inclusive, together.
Cabinet committee E covers issues relating to the health service, including health system reforms. Cabinet committee E last met on 11 April. The next meeting has yet to be scheduled.
In addition to meetings of the full Cabinet and of the Cabinet committees I meet with Ministers on a bilateral basis as required to focus on particular issues. In this regard I meet regularly, most recently last Monday, with the Minister...

23. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if reports that €7 million of debt was written off in the recent sale of the State’s stake in a studio, details supplied, are correct; the price secured for this sale; the process engaged in for the sale; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17123/18 asked on 18 Apr 2018 - Sale of State Assets)

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: I want to revisit the sale of Ardmore Studios. I will be blunt in stating that the sale stinks to high heaven. How much did the State get for the sale of its one third share in the company? I have heard the sale price was €6 million and the sale involved the State writing off €7 million in debt owed to it by Ardmore Studios. This would mean we gave the company away and then gave the purchaser €1 million. I hope that is not true. The House, members of the public...

25. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the conditions that surrounded the sale of the State’s stake in a studio (details supplied) to secure it as a location for film production into the future; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16802/18 asked on 18 Apr 2018 - Film Industry)

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: The Comptroller and Auditor General should investigate the circumstances of the sale. That is how serious I think this is. This is a piece of real estate that, if it were developed residentially, would probably be worth about €100 million. The Government cannot tell us how much it was sold for or confirm the reports that €7 million of debt was written off. That is not acceptable.
I told the Government a few weeks ago, and it was confirmed last week, that there we...

61. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation if reports that €7 million of debt was written off by the State in the sale of the State’s stake in a studio (details supplied) and that the sale price was €6 million are correct; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16803/18 asked on 18 Apr 2018 - Company Sale)

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): In 2016 Ardmore Studios International Limited (ASIL), engaged IBI Corporate Finance to investigate selling the company as a going concern. (ASIL), the majority shareholders in Ardmore Studios Ltd, were seeking to exit, having been running the company for over 30 years. 
 An extensive process was undertaken by IBI Corporate Finance to find a suitable buyer, with over 100 potential parties contacted.
Ion Equity emerged a...

3. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Taoiseach when Cabinet committee A - economy will next meet. (Question 16370/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Cabinet Committee Meetings)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 5, inclusive, together.
Cabinet committee A covers issues relating to the economy, jobs, the labour market, competitiveness, productivity, trade, the Action Plan for Rural Development, the digital economy and pensions. There has been significant progress on these issues since the start of the year, including the publication of the roadmap for pensions reform, the launch of the Action Plan for Jobs 2018 and the publication of the review of Ent...

8. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Taoiseach when Cabinet committee B - social policy and public services - will next meet. (Question 16371/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Cabinet Committee Meetings)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 6 to 9 together.
Cabinet committee B last met on 26 March and while the date of its next meeting has not yet been scheduled, it is likely to meet next month. The committee covers the areas of social policy and public service reform, including education, children, social inclusion, Irish, arts and culture, and continued improvements to and reform of public services. 
Through the work of Cabinet committee B, the Government is keen to ensure policies...

12. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his meeting with Chancellor Merkel on 20 March 2018. (Question 13943/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Taoiseach’s Meetings and Engagements)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 10 to 17, inclusive, together.
I travelled to Berlin on 20 March for a bilateral meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel as part of my strategic engagement with our European partners. We discussed preparations for the March European Council, including Brexit, trade, Economic and Monetary Union, EMU, and the tax challenges of digitalisation. I also took the opportunity to congratulate the Chancellor on her recent re-election for the fourth time. 
O...

73. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if correspondence in relation to persons (details supplied) will be responded to; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16368/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Immigration Status)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the records show that the most recent correspondence from the persons referred to by the Deputy were received on 22 December 2017 and 17 December 2017 respectively. Both were acknowledged on 4 January 2018 and the contents of the correspondence is being taken into account in the consideration of the applications. Processing of both application...

75. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of an application by a person (details supplied) for naturalisation; the reason for the delay in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16369/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Immigration Status)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that the processing of an application for a certificate of naturalisation from the person referred to by the Deputy, is still under consideration and has not yet reached a conclusion. The application will be submitted to me as expeditiously as possible.
As the Deputy will appreciate, the granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is a pri...

926. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Health the length of time the women’s refuge in Rathgar has been closed; his plans to re-open same; his further plans to open other women’s refuges in the Dublin area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16155/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Domestic Violence Refuges Provision)

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Catherine Byrne): The Deputy’s question is a matter for the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.   
 ...

929. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Health the engagement he has had with an organisation (details supplied) and the pharmaceutical industry to ensure that new medicines are available to persons with MS; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16163/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Health Services Provision)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): I propose to take Questions Nos. 735, 780, 853, 858, 929, 935, 956, 1001, 1002 and 1038 together.
The HSE has statutory responsibility for medicine pricing and reimbursement decisions, in accordance with the Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013.   As Minister for Health, I do not have any statutory power or function in relation to the reimbursement of medicines. The Act specifies the criteria for decisions on the reimbursement of medici...

955. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Health his plans for a redress scheme for persons who were forcibly committed by the State prior to the enactment of the Mental Health Act 2001; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16362/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Mental Health Policy)

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Jim Daly): I have no plans to introduce a redress scheme along the lines suggested by the Deputy.
The involuntary admission of persons to a psychiatric hospital or unit prior to the introduction of the Mental Health Act 2001 was governed by statute, in this case the 1945 Mental Treatment Act. The 1945 Act specifically allowed for the admission and detention without their consent, of a person as a ‘temporary patient’ or a ‘person of unsound mi...

1326. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the length of time the women’s refuge in Rathmines has been closed; when it is planned to reopen; her plans to open additional refuges in the Dublin region; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16389/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Domestic Violence Refuges Provision)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, has statutory responsibility for the care and protection of victims of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence. 
I have requested the required information from Tusla in order to respond to this question. I will forward this information to the Deputy when it has been received.
 ...

1461. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the consequences for a jobseeker who does not want to sign a contract with a private company for a JobPath scheme or similar; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16356/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - JobPath Programme)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Participants with any of the Department’s contracted activation services such as JobPath or the Local Employment Service (LES) are not required to sign a contract with the companies but they are, in the same manner as customers referred to the Department’s own Intreo activation service requested to agree and sign a personal progression plan (PPP).
A PPP contains a schedule of activities; actions and job focused targe...

1506. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his views on whether it is a conflict of interest that a person (details supplied) is also a board member of an organisation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 15022/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Appointments to State Boards)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): The Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) is governed by the Residential Tenancies Acts 2004 – 2016.  Section 153 of the Act provides that the members of the Board shall be appointed from time to time as occasion requires by the Minister.  The Act requires that Board members shall be persons who, in the Minister’s opinion, have experience in a field of expertise relevant to the Board’s functions.
In accordance with the Gover...

48. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Education and Skills the recent efforts he has made to assist a school (details supplied) in its ongoing campaign to ensure the future of its playing pitches; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 14273/18 asked on 29 Mar 2018 - Schools Facilities)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): I understand that a legal case is currently being taken against the Christian Brother Congregation regarding the sale of land in question. It would be inappropriate for me as Minister to comment on cases before the Courts. 
The Deputy will also be aware that I have received a request from the Patron of the school concerned to approve the dissolution of the Board of Management. 
The statutory process of dissolution is underway in which I,...

58. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on whether there should be a move towards the elimination of all third level education fees in the interest of ensuring accessibility for all to further education (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 14272/18 asked on 29 Mar 2018 - Third Level Fees)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): As the Deputy will be aware, my Department allocates recurrent funding to the Higher Education Authority (HEA) for direct disbursement to the HEA designated higher education institutions. The HEA allocates this funding as a block grant to the institutions. 
However, as autonomous bodies, the internal disbursement of this funding, including the determination of the fee rate applicable for individual students, for example in relation to re...

9. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his visit to the United States of America and the meetings he had. (Question 12830/18 asked on 28 Mar 2018 - Taoiseach’s Meetings and Engagements)

The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 16, inclusive, together. The questions take up three pages.
 My St. Patrick’s Day programme ran from 11 to 17 March, during which time I visited Texas, Oklahoma, Washington DC and New York. I had courtesy calls with Texas Governor, Greg Abbott, and Oklahoma Governor, Mary Fallin, in both cases discussing the deepening of links between the US and their respective states and Ireland. I visited the Choctaw Nation in Durant, Oklahoma, to thank ...

27. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Taoiseach the system used by his Department for dealing with correspondence. (Question 12831/18 asked on 28 Mar 2018 - Departmental Correspondence)

The Taoiseach: My Department receives significant volumes of correspondence. All correspondence received is acknowledged and most correspondence receives a further substantive reply. Depending on the nature of a particular item of correspondence, it may be brought to my attention or to the attention of staff within my Department. 
Oftentimes, correspondence which is initially received by my Department necessitates collaboration with another Department. 
In many cases this can take the form of ...

88. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his views on the recent report that Israel is responsible for a 2007 air strike on a Syrian nuclear reactor; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 14032/18 asked on 28 Mar 2018 - Middle East Issues)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): There was never any real doubt that the 2007 airstrike on a target in Syria was carried out by Israel, and the recent declassification in Israel of information relating to it has only confirmed what was already known. My concerns about Syria are focused on the consequences of the appalling violence into which the country has descended in recent years. Any use of military force is something which Ireland would always s...

93. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has discussed the issue of the continued incarceration of a person (details supplied) in an Israeli prison and the recent ruling against an open trial with his counterparts across Europe; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 14031/18 asked on 28 Mar 2018 - Human Rights)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): I refer the Deputy to my reply earlier today to Question No 50 in relation to this case, to which I would add the following: This case and its recent conclusion have not been specifically discussed at Ministerial level meetings in the EU. However, EU Missions in Palestine, including Ireland’s, have cooperated closely in following and reporting on the progress of the case. Irish or other EU representatives arranged to be ...

96. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his attention has been drawn to the UNHCR reports presented at the recent Human Rights Council that outline the way in which living conditions across the West Bank and Gaza have worsened in particular for children over the past year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 14030/18 asked on 28 Mar 2018 - Human Rights)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): I share the Deputy’s concerns at the reports of the worsening living conditions in the West Bank and Gaza. The reports by UNHCR catalogue a number of human rights concerns that are having a particular effect on children, including settler violence, displacement and forcible transfer, home demolitions and forced evictions, and the arrest and arbitrary detention of children.
Many of these issues are linked to settlement c...

105. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will report on his recent visit to China; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 14029/18 asked on 28 Mar 2018 - Ministerial Travel)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): I propose to take Questions Nos. 83 and 105 together.
I visited China from 12-17 March 2018, where I engaged in a wide-ranging St Patrick’s Day programme which incorporated meetings and events with a range of political, business, cultural and Irish community interlocutors. 
St. Patrick’s Day offers a unique opportunity to showcase Ireland in China. The main objectives for my visit included further enhancing our bilatera...

115. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will report on his recent trip to the United States of America and the meetings he had there; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 11336/18 asked on 28 Mar 2018 - Official Engagements)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): I travelled to the United States between 20-23 February last, visiting New York and Washington DC, where I engaged in an extensive programme of events which involved UN, Irish community and bilateral elements. My programme at the United Nations was focused around Ireland’s candidacy for election to the UN Security Council in 2020. It included meetings with representatives of the UN Secretariat, the International Peace I...

116. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will consider calling in the Russian Ambassador to discuss the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria and eastern Ghouta; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 11337/18 asked on 28 Mar 2018 - Syrian Conflict)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): It is quite clear that Russia’s support for the Assad regime has prolonged the suffering of the Syrian people. Russia has also repeatedly vetoed UN Security Council resolutions on Syria, which has seriously undermined the protection of Syrian civilians. Ireland’s has communicated its concerns directly to the Russian authorities on numerous occasions. In October 2017, I relayed Ireland’s strong views directly to Russian...