40. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the range of statutory powers that will be afforded to the new borough councils which will be created by his Department; and if financial autonomy will be afforded to them. (Question 19835/18 asked on 08 May 2018 - Homeless Persons Supports)

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82. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the way in which he plans to address the anticipated shortfall of income of €260 million to the Local Government Fund over the next six years due to a reduction in motor taxation receipts by this amount as outlined in the special report compiled by the Comptroller and Auditor General; and the impact of this reduction in income to the provision of local authority services. (Question 19834/18 asked on 08 May 2018 - Local Government Fund)

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy John Paul Phelan): From the 1st of January 2018 motor tax receipts accrue directly to the Exchequer rather than to the Local Government Fund (LGF). Accordingly, there will be no shortfall in income to the Local Government Fund as a result of any decline in motor tax receipts. 
As set out in the Revised Estimates for Public Services 2018, income to the LGF will amount to an estimated €595m, comprising a payment ...

116. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Finance if the tax relief on union subscriptions which was withdrawn in 2011 and failed to be reviewed in 2016 will be restored; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17411/18 asked on 24 Apr 2018 - Tax Reliefs Abolition)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): A review of the appropriate treatment for tax purposes of trade union subscriptions and professional body fees was carried out by my Department in 2016 and included in the 2016 report on tax expenditures published on budget day 2016. The review may be found at the following link:
(http://www.budget.gov.ie/Budgets/2017/Documents/Tax_Expenditures_Report%202016_final.pdf)
The review concluded that:
“...analysis of the scheme using the principles laid d...

165. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Education and Skills if an application by a person (details supplied) under the school transport scheme will be reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17799/18 asked on 24 Apr 2018 - School Transport Applications)

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy John Halligan): School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.
Currently over 116,000 children, including over 12,000 children with special educational needs, are being transported in over 4,500 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres annually at a total cost of almost €190 million in 2017.
Changes t...

311. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of Garda retirements from each Garda station in County Meath in each of the years 2014 to 2017 and to date in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18088/18 asked on 24 Apr 2018 - Garda Retirements)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 285, 286, and 297 to 317, inclusive, together.
This Government is committed to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and to deter crime. To achieve this the Government has put in place a plan for an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021 comprising 15,000 Garda members, ...

457. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if a ban on plastic straws will be introduced in favour of biodegradable straws; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17501/18 asked on 24 Apr 2018 - Waste Management Regulations)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): On 16 January 2018 the Commission published its European Strategy for Plastics in the Circular Economy.  The strategy focuses on plastics production and use and sets a goal of ensuring all plastic packaging is recyclable by 2030.
Recently, I wrote to the European Commissioner with responsibility for the environment to welcome the plastics strategy. I assured him Ireland fully embraced the ambitions of the new s...

586. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if the illness benefit payment for a person (details supplied) will be reviewed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17938/18 asked on 24 Apr 2018 - Illness Benefit Payments)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Illness Benefit is a payment for people who cannot work due to illness and who satisfy the pay-related social insurance (PRSI) contribution conditions. For illness benefit claims made in 2018, the governing PRSI contribution year is 2016.
The rate of payment depends on the person’s level of earnings in the governing contribution year. Where the average weekly earnings are €300 or more, the personal rate of payment is...

7. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Health the reason Meath local health office experienced a reduction of 36,253 home help hours in 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 17042/18 asked on 19 Apr 2018 - Home Help Service Provision)

Deputy Shane Cassells: Why did the Meath local health office experience a reduction of 36,200 home help hours in 2017? The fact the drop in home help hours in Meath is many times the national average is shown in the daily calls and visits to my constituency office from people whose loved ones receive half an hour or 40 minutes of care in the morning but do not see anyone else for the rest of the day. I would appreciate a statement on the matter.
 ...

79. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of new Garda recruits assigned to each Garda station in County Meath in each of the years 2014 to 2017 and to date in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16573/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Garda Data)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 65, 70, 76, 79, 80, 89, 581 and 582 together. 
As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who is responsible for the distribution of resources, including personnel, among the various Garda Divisions and I, as Minister, have no direct role in the matter. Garda management keeps this distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so...

350. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Education and Skills the details of the proposed butcher apprenticeship; when it will be launched and available for interested parties to apply to; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 15315/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Apprenticeship Programmes)

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy John Halligan): An apprenticeship in butchery, with the Associated Craft Butchers of Ireland as industry lead and a consortium of industry and education and training providers, is currently being developed into a national apprenticeship programme, as part of the Government’s plan to double the number of apprenticeships. The consortium submitted this programme for validation to Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) earlier th...

1503. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the town and borough councils that had an auditor’s report prepared and issued by the Local Government Audit Service for 2013, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 14954/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Local Government Audit Service)

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy John Paul Phelan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 1503 and 1504 together.
Government policy on local government reform was set out in the Putting People First, Action Programme for Effective Local Government (the ‘Action Programme’).
Many of the reforms set out in the Action Programme were introduced with effect from 1 June 2014. These included the merging of the city and county councils of Waterford and Lime...

1504. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the town and borough councils that did not have an auditor’s report prepared and issued by the Local Government Audit Service for 2013, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 14955/18 asked on 17 Apr 2018 - Local Government Audit Service)

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy John Paul Phelan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 1503 and 1504 together.
Government policy on local government reform was set out in the Putting People First, Action Programme for Effective Local Government (the ‘Action Programme’).
Many of the reforms set out in the Action Programme were introduced with effect from 1 June 2014. These included the merging of the city and county councils of Waterford and Lime...

149. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the applications submitted to the Office of Public Works by Kilkenny County Council in each of the past three years to address major flooding problems and under the minor works flood relief fund; if the local authority can submit minor works applications for areas included in the CFRAM reports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 14360/18 asked on 28 Mar 2018 - Flood Relief Schemes Data)

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Kevin Boxer Moran): Kilkenny County Council has written to the Office of Public Works in relation to the report it commissioned from Arup Engineering on individual property protection to address the flooding problems at Graiguenamanagh and Thomastown. Initial discussions have taken place between the Council and the OPW in relation to the report. The matter will be considered and discussed further between the two bodie...

170. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if a person who is travelling in over three weeks time can book an appointment with the Passport Office regarding a first-time passport application for an infant; and if this application will be processed. (Question 13199/18 asked on 21 Mar 2018 - Passport Applications)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): The Passport Service operates a counter service in both the Dublin (Mount Street) and Cork offices where applicants who need their passport application processed in timeframes shorter than those offered by the Passport Express and the online passport application service can be accommodated. While priority is given to applicants who need their passport issued within these timeframes there are a limited number of appointm...

327. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact that hospitals are charging excessive amounts to health insurance providers for the venesections of persons with haemochromatosis (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 11065/18 asked on 08 Mar 2018 - Hospital Charges)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): The Health Act 1970 (as amended) provides that all people ordinarily resident in Ireland are entitled, subject to certain charges, to public in-patient hospital services including consultant services and to public out-patient hospital services. Under Section 52 of the Health Act 1970, as amended by Section 12 of the Health (Amendment) Act 2013, a person who has been referred to a hospital for an in-patient service, including that provided on a day case ...

81. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Education and Skills if funding for an, autistic spectrum disorders, ASD, unit in a school (details supplied) will be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 10687/18 asked on 06 Mar 2018 - Autism Support Services)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): I can confirm that my Department recently received an application for an ASD Unit from the school referred to by the Deputy.
The application will be assessed and a decision will be conveyed to the school authority as soon as the assessment process has been completed.
 ...

264. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the timeframe for holding plebiscites on a directly elected mayor for Dublin and other cities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 10754/18 asked on 06 Mar 2018 - Mayoral Election)

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy John Paul Phelan): At its meeting of 26 September 2017, the Government agreed, as part of an indicative schedule for a number of referendums over the next 18 months, that a plebiscite on directly elected mayors would take place in October 2018.  My Department is prioritising the drafting of the legislation required to give effect to this decision and it is included in the Government’s legislation programme as a...

48. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the towns that will be made borough councils under local government reform plans; the additional statutory powers they will be granted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 9697/18 asked on 27 Feb 2018 - Local Government Reform)

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy John Paul Phelan): The Programme for a Partnership Government (PPG) sets out a number of requirements in relation to local government reform. In particular, the PPG envisages the submission of a report to Government and the Oireachtas on potential measures to boost local government leadership and accountability, and to ensure that local government funding, structures and responsibilities strengthen local democr...

58. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his plans to establish an independent reform body to examine the issue of councillors pay in line with a request made to him by a group (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 9696/18 asked on 27 Feb 2018 - Local Authority Members’ Remuneration)

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy John Paul Phelan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 58 and 732 together.
It is important that appropriate supports are available to councillors to carry out their functions. 
In that regard, I introduced, with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, an allowance of €1,000 per annum for members of municipal districts and area committees with effect from 1 July 2017 to reflect their additio...

90. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to ensure the social welfare office will remain in place in Castlepollard, County Westmeath; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8448/18 asked on 20 Feb 2018 - Social Welfare Offices)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The Department currently has 58 Social Welfare Branch Offices at various locations throughout the country. Each Branch Office is operated and managed, under a contract for services, by a Branch Manager who is required to act as an agent for the Department in the area served by the office. Branch Office managers operate on a contract for service and are independent contractors. The Contract for the delivery of Branch...

322. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Health if a person with a medical card that is on farm assist can retain their medical card for three years after they enter full-time employment (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8218/18 asked on 20 Feb 2018 - Medical Card Eligibility)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): I propose to take Questions Nos. 322 and 323 together.
As these questions relate to service matters, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.
 ...

323. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Health if a person with a medical card that is a dependent on a farm assist payment can retain their medical card for three years after they enter or return to full-time employment (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8219/18 asked on 20 Feb 2018 - Medical Card Eligibility)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): I propose to take Questions Nos. 322 and 323 together.
As these questions relate to service matters, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.
 ...

467. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the status of the planned roll-out of a product (details supplied) from the Tara exchange to households and businesses in the Dunsany, Kilmessan and Kiltale areas of County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8230/18 asked on 20 Feb 2018 - Broadband Service Provision)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): The Government’s National Broadband Plan (NBP) aims to ensure high speed broadband access (minimum 30 megabits per second) to all premises in Ireland, regardless of location.  The NBP has been a catalyst in encouraging investment by the telecoms sector. Today, almost 7 out of 10 of the 2.3 million premises in Ireland have access to high speed broadband. Since this Government came into office almost 400,000 addit...

503. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans for a 2018 or 2019 sports capital programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8729/18 asked on 20 Feb 2018 - Sports Capital Programme)

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Brendan Griffin): The 2017 round of the Sports Capital Programme (SCP) closed for applications on 24 February. By the closing date, a record number of 2,320 applications seeking €155 million in grants were received. In November and December last, Minister Ross and I announced €60 million in allocations to a record 1,800 projects under the 2017 round of the SCP.  Full details of all  these allocations are available on my...

40. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his views on the plans submitted by a group (details supplied) to his Department on the redevelopment proposals for its county ground and its request for funding under the sports infrastructure fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 7501/18 asked on 15 Feb 2018 - Sports Capital Programme)

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Brendan Griffin): I propose to take Questions Nos. 16, 40, 80, 85 and 93 together.
The Sports Capital Programme (SCP) has been the primary means of providing Government support to sports clubs and organisations for sports capital works. Allocations under the 2017 round of the programme were announced on the 30th November (local projects) and 21st December (regional projects) with a total of €60m allocated. Under this mos...