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.
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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...

90. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if the inclusion of the Navan rail line under the Government’s capital plan will be prioritised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 7500/18 asked on 15 Feb 2018 - Rail Network Expansion)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): As the Deputy is aware, the Navan Rail Link Project was originally included under the Transport 21 Initiative and was to be developed in two Phases.  
Phase 1 comprised the Dunboyne Rail Line project which involved the reopening of 7.5km of a railway line running off the Maynooth line, at Clonsilla, to the M3 interchange at Pace, near Dunboyne.  This line opened in September 2010 with Park and Ride facilities at Pace, with 1200 car p...

89. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if no impacted landowners along the route of the North-South interconnector will have their lands accessed by EirGrid without the prior written consent of the landowner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 7339/18 asked on 14 Feb 2018 - North-South Interconnector)

Deputy Brendan Smith: The Minister commissioned two international studies on foot of Fianna Fáil Private Members’ motions in Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann which were overwhelmingly endorsed by both Houses. Unfortunately, the two studies do not encompass all issues raised in those motions. At a recent meeting with representatives of Monaghan County Council attended by me and other Oireachtas Members, the Minister stated that he hoped to have the reports in February. When will they be complet...

206. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a school (details supplied) in County Meath will be connected with broadband; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 5821/18 asked on 06 Feb 2018 - Broadband Service Provision)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Through the Schools Broadband Access Programme the Department provides for the supply of internet connectivity for all recognised primary and post primary schools, and some 98% of schools are included in this scheme. All post-primary schools and some special schools are now included in the 100Mbps programme.
The policy of my Department is to offer the best quality connectivity to all schools in line with the technical solutions availabl...

546. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the most recent costing for the construction and provision of phase 2 of the Navan to Dublin rail line; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 5851/18 asked on 06 Feb 2018 - Rail Network Expansion)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): As Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport I have responsibility for policy and overall funding in relation to public transport.  The National Transport Authority, NTA, has statutory responsibility for the planning and development of public transport infrastructure and services in the greater Dublin area, GDA.
The Navan rail link project was originally included under the Transport 21 Initiative and was to be developed in two phase...

616. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the total and long-term amount due in development levies to each local authority, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 5584/18 asked on 06 Feb 2018 - Development Contributions)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): I propose to take Questions Nos. 613 and 616 together.
Local authorities operate on an accrual accounting basis and recognise income and expenditure as incurred relating to the period it falls due, regardless of the cash transactions.  The annual financial statements, AFSs, of local authorities do not show the annual receipts from development contributions but instead show the gross invoiced income before any income defe...

255. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the measures his Department has in place to address roadside littering; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 5016/18 asked on 01 Feb 2018 - Litter Pollution)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): My Department provides the legislative framework to combat litter pollution.  Under the Litter Pollution Acts 1997 to 2009, the management and enforcement response to littering is a matter primarily for  local authorities. While enforcement is indeed critical, I believe that a sustainable long term solution to the issue of litter is best achieved through a combination of enforcement, education, awareness and, of...

256. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if a national campaign to highlight the negative impact littering and dumping has on the environment and the local community will be initiated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 5017/18 asked on 01 Feb 2018 - Litter Pollution)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): My Department takes a multifaceted approach to tackling the litter and dumping problem, incorporating enforcement, public awareness and education.  Funding is made available to support a range of anti-litter initiatives to combat litter across the country, including: - The Local Authority Anti-Litter & Anti-Graffiti Awareness Grant Scheme
- The National Spring Clean,
- The Green Schools Program, and
- Irish B...