205. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason a maximum rate of a pension has not been awarded in the case of a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8835/18 asked on 21 Feb 2018 - State Pension (Contributory))

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): According to the records of my Department the person concerned has a social insurance record of 703 full rate insurance contributions and credits covering the period 1965 to the end of December 2014. The person concerned is in receipt of a reduced rate state pension (contributory) based on their assessed yearly average of 15 contributions. In arriving at this yearly average account was taken of the Homemaking perio...

217. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the position in relation to extending the spring gorse burning season; if the season for controlled burning in low risk areas beyond 1 March 2018 will be extended in view of adverse weather conditions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8900/18 asked on 21 Feb 2018 - Gorse Burning)

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Josepha Madigan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 217 and 218 together.
Section 40 of the Wildlife Acts 1976, as amended, prohibits the cutting, grubbing, burning or destruction of vegetation, with certain strict exemptions, from 1 March to 31 August.
Following a review of Section 40, which involved, inter alia, consideration of submissions from interested parties, proposals were announced in December 2015 to introduce legislation to allo...

83. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the position regarding appeals and decisions with respect to the 2017 sports capital programme. (Question 7538/18 asked on 15 Feb 2018 - Sports Capital Programme Applications)

Deputy Pat Deering: At the outset, I apologise for my interruption earlier. It is no slight on the Acting Chairman.
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84. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the status of efforts to ease the impact of Brexit on the tourism industry. (Question 7526/18 asked on 15 Feb 2018 - Brexit Issues)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): I propose to take Questions Nos. 43 and 84 together.
I welcome the overall growth in visit numbers to Ireland in 2017. However, the decline in the numbers visiting from Great Britain remains a concern. The fall in the value of sterling against the euro following the Brexit vote in the UK has been the primary factor in this.
Tourism Ireland has a programme of marketing activity in place for 2018 to ensure Ireland is marketed appropria...

136. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to solve the anomaly whereby a family can qualify for family income supplement, but is unable to qualify for a student grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 7929/18 asked on 15 Feb 2018 - Student Grant Scheme Eligibility)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Student grant applications are means tested on gross income from all sources earned inside and outside the State within a specified reference period. The means test arrangements of the Student Grant Scheme are applied nationally. The assessment of income from the same starting point is deemed to be fair and reasonable because this approach eliminates any distortion which might arise from different spending decisions in different househ...

161. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Health the status of regulations to designate counsellors and psychotherapists as professionals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 7602/18 asked on 14 Feb 2018 - Health and Social Care Professionals Regulation)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): The draft regulations to designate the professions of counsellor and psychotherapist under the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 and to establish a registration board for the professions have, in accordance with the provisions of the Act, been laid before each House of the Oireachtas. Resolutions approving the drafts have been submitted to each House for consideration. I expect that the Houses will consider the resolutions in the coming wee...

230. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if there is a provision for sponsoring road rubbish clean up and litter maintenance by businesses with the return of signage endorsing and thanking the businesses for their help. (Question 7592/18 asked on 14 Feb 2018 - Litter Pollution)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): The role of my Department, through the Litter Pollution Acts 1997 to 2009,  is to provide the legislative framework within which to combat litter pollution. Under the Acts, the primary management and enforcement response to littering rests with Local Authorities, and it is a matter for each Local Authority to decide on the most appropriate public awareness, enforcement and clean-up actions in their area. 
When...

302. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the delegated sanctions to Limerick City and County Council to hire extra outdoor staff in order to repair roads in County Limerick in each of the years 2015, 2016 and 2017 and to date in 2018. (Question 7593/18 asked on 14 Feb 2018 - Local Authority Staff Recruitment)

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy John Paul Phelan): I have delegated authority to the chief executive of Limerick City and County Council to fill any vacancy that arises in the context of their outdoor and indoor workforce plans.
Under section 159 of the Local Government Act 2001, it is the chief executive of Limerick City and County Council who is responsible for the staffing and organisational arrangements necessary for carrying out the func...

53. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the measures his Department has taken to support farmers facing difficulty with fodder supply over the winter. (Question 7010/18 asked on 13 Feb 2018 - Fodder Crisis)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Weather conditions for much of last autumn were challenging for farmers in some parts of the West and North West in particular. Difficulties in harvesting fodder in some of these areas were compounded by the need to house livestock earlier than usual, resulting in additional pressure on fodder supplies over the course of the winter.
To immediately address this issue I prioritised the payment of farm supports to assist farmers...

129. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Finance if an exemption from custom taxes in respect of the importation of alcohol and herbs (details supplied) for the alternative treatment of Lyme disease will be allowed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 6878/18 asked on 13 Feb 2018 - Customs and Excise Controls)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): I am advised by Revenue that having regard to the range of products and substances involved, Revenue will need to engage directly with the person concerned before a considered view can be provided. I am advised by Revenue that direct contact is being made with the person concerned with a view to confirming Revenue’s view on the matter as soon as possible.
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143. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Finance his views on a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 7278/18 asked on 13 Feb 2018 - Parliamentary Questions)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): The precise nature of the issue which the Deputy wishes to raise is unclear from the details supplied.  Further information has been requested from the Deputy’s constituency office and I would be happy to address his query should the Deputy wish to ask this question again when further information is available.
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145. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Finance his views on a matter (details supplied) raised in correspondence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 7324/18 asked on 13 Feb 2018 - Help-To-Buy Scheme Eligibility)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): I am advised by Revenue that, for the purposes of the Help-to-Buy incentive, the relevant definition of a qualifying residence (as set out in section 477C(1) of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997) is “a new building which was not, at any time, used, or suitable for use, as a dwelling”.
Based on the information supplied by the Deputy, it would appear that the house in question was built and completed circa 2009 by the former owners, in which case it wo...

439. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Health his views on a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 7323/18 asked on 13 Feb 2018 - Health Services Staff Remuneration)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly on this matter.
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440. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Health his views on a matter (details supplied) raised in correspondence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 7325/18 asked on 13 Feb 2018 - Medical Aids and Appliances Provision)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for direct reply to the Deputy.
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476. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason a forestry premium payment to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry has been reduced; if this payment will be reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 7003/18 asked on 13 Feb 2018 - Forestry Premium Payments)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): The person named was in receipt of payments under the Afforestation Scheme in respect of a forest area of 9.37ha since 2013. Following a review of the mapped area against more recent aerial imagery in 2017, the Department discovered that the forest was inaccurately digitised on the Department’s mapping system. The forest was then re-digitised and found to measure 9.01ha. The 2nd grant and annual premium for 2018 was paid on...

498. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will address a matter regarding farm payments for a person (details supplied). (Question 7302/18 asked on 13 Feb 2018 - GLAS Payments)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): The above named was approved into GLAS 2 with a contract commencement date of 1 January 2016 and has been paid the 2016 advance.
Administrative checks must take place on all GLAS claims. All cases must clear validation checks before payment can issue. 
While the application was originally submitted on an individual basis, the NMP was submitted in relation to the partnership that was subsequently formed. The Department has now ...

639. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to expand the free travel scheme to recipients of domiciliary care; the estimated cost of this expansion; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 7054/18 asked on 13 Feb 2018 - Free Travel Scheme Eligibility)

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 almost 80 private transport operators. There are currently approximately 902,000 customers with direct eligibility ...

653. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of a fuel allowance application by a person (details supplied). (Question 7314/18 asked on 13 Feb 2018 - Fuel Allowance Applications)

Minister of State at the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Finian McGrath): Fuel allowance is a means tested payment, payable to people who either live alone or only with certain other qualified people. 
The person concerned is currently in receipt of Disability Allowance. She was in receipt of the weekly fuel allowance up to the 2 January 2018. She has been awarded the lump sum fuel allowance from the 3 January 2018. This lady was notified of this decision on the...

654. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection further to Parliamentary Question No. 475 of 14 November 2017, the status of the matter. (Question 7319/18 asked on 13 Feb 2018 - JobPath Programme)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): As the Deputy is aware JobPath is an employment activation service that supports people who are long-term unemployed, including those working part time to secure and sustain full-time paid employment. 
The person in question was referred to the JobPath programme in July 2017 and agreed a personal progression plan in August 2017 and has attended a number of appointments and workshops over the past 6 months in her searc...

685. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government his views on a matter (details supplied) raised in correspondence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 7328/18 asked on 13 Feb 2018 - Social and Affordable Housing Provision)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): My Department has already approved the delivery of new social housing in the area in question on a turnkey basis, following a proposal made by the County Council based on a local selection process managed by the Council. 
I understand that subsequent to the selection process, a developer has been unable to advance one of the selected projects under the conditions of the local selection process to date. However, negotiat...

95. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Health the details of the recent announcement to set up a national telephone and text help-line to access mental health services across the country; when he expects this help-line to be operational; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 6105/18 asked on 08 Feb 2018 - Mental Health Services Provision)

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Jim Daly): One of the first things I set about doing when I was appointed Minister with responsibility for mental health was to establish a single point of contact for mental health services by telephone and text nationally. I was happy to receive the support of the HSE to establish this service. I do acknowledge that there are challenges in progressing this work. There are many very valuable service providers in the mental health sphere, ...

250. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment his views on a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 6516/18 asked on 08 Feb 2018 - Greenhouse Gas Emissions)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): A carbon credit is a generic term for any tradeable certificate or permit representing the right to emit one tonne of carbon dioxide or greenhouse gas equivalent. In relation to Ireland, the term “carbon credits” may relate to allowances issued under the EU Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) or the EU Effort Sharing Decision.
 The EU ETS is a cornerstone of the EU’s policy to combat climate change and is a key mecha...

279. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application for free fuel by a person (details supplied). (Question 6555/18 asked on 08 Feb 2018 - Fuel Allowance Applications)

Minister of State at the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Finian McGrath): The gentleman in question is in receipt of invalidity pension. An application for the national fuel scheme (fuel allowance) was received from the person concerned on 16 January 2018. He has been assessed as eligible for fuel allowance and the Deciding Officer has backdated his fuel application to 05 October 2017 - the start of the 2017/18 fuel season. He was notified on 06 February 2018 of...

95. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Finance if an application for tax concessions by a person (details supplied) will be processed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 6227/18 asked on 07 Feb 2018 - Tax Credits)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): I am advised by Revenue that following direct contact by them to assist the person concerned a new application was submitted online on 23 January 2018.  This application has since been processed and the required exemption letter is available for download by the person concerned.
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274. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development his views on a matter (details supplied); if his Department provides funds to cover such costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 6126/18 asked on 07 Feb 2018 - Seniors Alert Scheme)

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Michael Ring): The objective of the Seniors Alert Scheme is to encourage community support for vulnerable older people in our communities through the provision of personal monitored alarms to enable older persons, of limited means, to continue to live securely in their homes with confidence, independence and peace of mind.
The Seniors Alert Scheme is administered on behalf of my Department by Pobal. Based on the information supplied, I recomme...