123. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection if her attention has been drawn to the fact that certain local Department offices are trying to actively encourage persons to avail of the service of banks instead of continuing to use their local post office (details supplied); if these offices have the authority to do this; and, if not, the steps she will take to have the practice discontinued; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54543/13 asked on 18 Dec 2013 - Social Welfare Offices)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): It is standard Departmental practice to make jobseeker payments at the customers designated post office. The vast majority of jobseeker customers receive their payments in this manner on a weekly basis. Exceptions are made in certain circumstances, for instance while a person is undertaking a course of study under the back to education allowance, partaking of an internship under the Work Placement Program or National Internship Program and w...

83. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons who signed off the live register over the first 11 months of 2013; if she will provide a breakdown of the reason for same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53244/13 asked on 11 Dec 2013 - Live Register Numbers)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): A total of 390,577 live register claims were closed during the first 11 months of 2013. A detailed breakdown of this number by claim duration and closure reason is contained in the tabular statement.
Live Register claim closures 1 January to 30 November 2013.
Claim Duration
 Closure Reason <3mths 3-6 mths 6mths-1yr 1-2yrs 2-3yrs 3-5yrs >5yrs Grand Total Found Work 59,724 26,697 21,144 13,309 5,336 5,304 874 132,388...

364. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Justice and Equality following a request for Garda clearance, the way it occurred that a person (details supplied) in County Clare was assigned the criminal convictions of a person in County Tipperary; when this matter will be rectified; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52742/13 asked on 10 Dec 2013 - Garda Vetting of Personnel)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): I am informed by the Garda authorities that a Data Protection Access request under Section 4 of the Data Protection Act was received by the Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU) on behalf of the individual concerned. The application was processed and a reply was returned to the individual concerned on 17 May 2013. I am informed that as a result of further correspondence, the matter is currently under investigation by the Garda Central Vetti...

154. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Health the reason an employee of the Health Service Executive who suffered an injury at work has, for the fourth time, suffered the loss of their personal allowance from their benefit, which has caused a loss of, on average, €375 per fortnight or €750 per month causing severe financial hardship, without being informed at any time that this was to occur; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 51998/13 asked on 04 Dec 2013 - HSE Staff Remuneration)

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.
 ...

49. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider deferring the next phase of the implementation of carbon tax, pending an evaluation of the net benefit of same to the State to date, and taking into consideration the effect of the growth of the black economy on regulated fuel businesses; when will all public suppliers of fuel to the domestic market come under a proper regulatory system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 51615/13 asked on 03 Dec 2013 - Carbon Tax Implementation)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Solid fuel carbon tax will be charged on all solid fuels supplied in the State, regardless of whether the fuel products are Irish made or imported. Solid fuel is defined under section 77 of the Finance Act 2010, as amended and means coal or peat. Coal is further defined to include coal and lignite, solid fuel manufactured from coal and lignite, and any other energy product within the meaning of Article 2.1 of Council Directive 2003/96/EC of 27 Octo...

298. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the criminal injuries compensation tribunal is at present unable to adjudicate on cases as members have not been appointed to same; when he proposes to rectify same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 51723/13 asked on 03 Dec 2013 - Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): I can inform the Deputy that under the terms of Paragraph 17 of the Scheme of Compensation for Personal Injuries Criminally Inflicted I am at present in the process of appointing a new Tribunal to administer the Scheme. As the Deputy may be aware I have recently appointed a Tribunal Chairperson, Mr. John Cheatle, B.L. I also can inform the Deputy that under the terms of the Scheme the Tribunal Chairperson can determine applications and i...

1. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of training or education places that will be set aside next year as part of the youth guarantee for young persons who are out of work; the number of young persons who will qualify for the youth guarantee scheme at this time; the ratio of her Department case officers to the number of unemployed persons currently; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 50875/13 asked on 28 Nov 2013 - Youth Guarantee)

Deputy Willie O’Dea: I am trying to ascertain whether the Government is committed to introducing a full blown youth guarantee scheme in this country whereby everybody who is not more than four months unemployed will be entitled to either a job or a place in training or education and when will the scheme be in place. I am also trying to ascertain whether the ratio of caseworkers to unemployed people has changed since we previously asked questions in the House when the Minister indicated it would...

4. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection her Department’s policy on the use of Garda checkpoints to counter welfare fraud; the criteria being used by her Department in the deployment of gardaí; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 50876/13 asked on 28 Nov 2013 - Social Welfare Fraud Investigations)

Deputy Willie O’Dea: Last October, the Minister announced a policy initiative directly involving the Garda in the investigation and combating of social welfare fraud. What I want to ascertain here is whether that policy has been put in place, where, and how successful has it been?
 ...

9. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection the estimated number of persons who will be affected by the cuts to jobseeker’s allowance in 2014; the amount of money she estimates it will save in the full year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 50826/13 asked on 28 Nov 2013 - Jobseeker’s Allowance Eligibility)

Deputy Willie O’Dea: The Minister will be aware that people aged under 26 years suffered pretty drastic cuts to their job seeker’s allowance or benefit in the recent budget. I am trying to ascertain how many people have been affected and what it has contributed to the State. The Government took almost €3 billion out of the economy, so what contribution has this reduction made? What savings will be achieved by this reduction which is imposing so much suffering on one category of the population...

17. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection if she is concerned by recent reports of food shortages from charities in Dublin; if she is concerned by rising food poverty here; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 50828/13 asked on 28 Nov 2013 - Anti-Poverty Strategy)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Food poverty refers to an inability to access a nutritionally adequate diet due to issues of affordability of, and access to, food, and that has related impacts on health and social participation. Inadequate food consumption is central to the understanding of poverty as exclusion from everyday life due to lack of resources. In recent years, there is specific focus on food poverty as a policy issue for two reasons: the structural constraints ...

18. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of persons that will be affected by the budgetary changes to illness/injury benefit; if she will outline the future of PRSI based benefits and her strategy to retain or improve them; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 50830/13 asked on 28 Nov 2013 - Illness Benefit Reform)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): The social insurance system, funded by the Social Insurance Fund (SIF), is core to Ireland’s system of social protection and I am determined that it be protected for current and future generations. However the Fund is not in a healthy financial position. The third Actuarial Review of the Social Insurance Fund was completed by consultants KPMG in 2012. A key finding of that Review is that the Fund has a significant shortfall in 2011 of €1.5bn...

19. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection her views on the fact that the Central Statistics Office figures relating to the live register have been published in national daily newspapers in advance of their official publication by the CSO; her views on whether this is acceptable; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 50827/13 asked on 28 Nov 2013 - Live Register Numbers)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): The value of the Live Register as an early indicator of unemployment trends is proven over the economic cycle. As an early indicator of a key metric of economic performance, it is important that the public and market analysts can have confidence in accuracy and independence of the Live Register data. I note that on occasion over the years some data, which form part of the monthly Live Register report from the Central Statistics Office, have ...

26. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection the way in which she has responded to the criticism from the OECD, European Commission and IMF regarding the lack of action relating to labour activation measures here; the number of persons that have been placed in full-time employment as a result of these measures; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 50829/13 asked on 28 Nov 2013 - Labour Activation Projects)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): All of the bodies referred to are supportive of the labour market activation measures and institutional reforms being undertaken by Ireland. Moreover, while they have on occasions raised questions about the pace at which reforms are being enacted, the most recent troika review has acknowledged that the main reforms – the roll-out of INTREO, the P300 project to reallocate 300 staff of the Department to casework duties, and the preparations for...

74. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection her Department’s strategy relating to the advertising of jobs in foreign jurisdictions to jobseekers here; the number of persons that have been targeted by this strategy; if she will provide figures on those who have taken up employment as a result of this strategy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 50877/13 asked on 28 Nov 2013 - Public Employment Services)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): Following the integration of certain FÁS services within the Department of Social Protection, the Department has assumed responsibility for public employment services in Ireland. This service includes EURES (European Employment Service) which is a European wide network of all the public employment services in the European Union and the European Economic Area. Under EU regulations, public employment services are obliged to use EURES to adverti...

100. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will make emergency funding available to North Tipperary County Council to purchase housing in the Ashbury development in Roscrea which is urgently required for the provision of social housing in the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 51209/13 asked on 28 Nov 2013 - Social and Affordable Housing Provision)

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O’Sullivan): This year my Department has allocated in excess of €3 million to North Tipperary County Council in respect of the measures included in the Social Housing Investment Programme for 2013. This includes €273,000 for the purchase of houses in Nenagh and Roscrea. Having regard to the high level of commitments under the housing programme at this time my Department is not in a position to ap...

143. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if Limerick City Council has submitted a request for funding to demolish houses at Garryglass Avenue and Rathbane Road, Limerick; if he intends to respond favourably; if he will confirm when Limerick City Council may expect a response; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 50903/13 asked on 27 Nov 2013 - Housing Issues)

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O’Sullivan): In response to a request from my Department in 2012 for proposals for the construction of new social housing units to meet urgent housing need, Limerick City Council submitted a proposal for the demolition of a number of vacant housing units at Sycamore Drive and Elm Place, Rathbane and the construction of 9 replacement units on the cleared site. On 25 November, my Department approved...

394. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will set out in tabular form the total number of persons in financial difficulty who have benefited from the Mortgage Arrears Information and Advice Service in each month since it was established; the total number of practitioners who have signed up to provide advice under the scheme; her views on whether the €250 amount available for payment for advice is adequate; her plans to review the scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 50491/13 asked on 26 Nov 2013 - Mortgage Arrears Information and Advice Service)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): The Mortgage Arrears Information and Advice Service was established to provide a comprehensive and coordinated approach to assist people in mortgage arrears or pre-arrears in assessing their options. The service, which differentiates between mortgage information and mortgage advice, has three elements:
- The website www.keepingyourhome.ie which was developed as the key online access portal for general mortgage information and advice and lau...

583. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Health the position regarding moneys paid to general practitioner, GP, practices in the midlands and the south on the programme known as Heartwatch for 2011, 2012 and to date in 2013; the reason these moneys are still being paid in view of the fact there is a nationally-agreed model of care; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 50198/13 asked on 26 Nov 2013 - Health Services Provision)

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): As this is a service matter it has been referred to the HSE for a direct reply to the Deputy.
 ...

601. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Health with reference to his correspondence of 10 October 2013, if there has been any progress on the matter of a speech and language therapist for provision of services to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 50331/13 asked on 26 Nov 2013 - Speech and Language Therapy)

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): The particular issue to which the Deputy refers is a service matter for the Health Service Executive. Officials from my Department sought and received a report from the HSE on this case and a letter has now issued directly to the Deputy with an update on the current position.
 ...

621. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Health if he will consider ensuring that all children born with Down syndrome are automatically entitled to medical cards from birth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 50496/13 asked on 26 Nov 2013 - Medical Card Eligibility)

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White) (Deputy Alex White): Under the provisions of the Health Act 1970, eligibility for health services in Ireland is based primarily on residency and means and medical cards are not awarded to any particular group of patients on the basis of a specific medical condition. However, the HSE has discretion to grant a medical card in certain circumstances. Medical card applicants who are unsuccessful following the means assessment, but who...

224. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Health the reason Crohn’s disease is not on the long-term illness list; if he will consider adding same in view of the costs of the associated medication; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 50004/13 asked on 21 Nov 2013 - Long-Term Illness Scheme Coverage)

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White) (Deputy Alex White): There are no plans to extend the list of conditions covered by the Long Term Illness scheme. Under the Drug Payment Scheme, no individual or family pays more than €144 per calendar month towards the cost of approved prescribed medicines. The scheme significantly reduces the cost burden for families and individuals incurring ongoing expenditure on medicines. In addition, people who cannot, without undue hard...

323. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of defined benefit pension schemes which were required to submit funding proposals to the Pensions Board by or since 30 June 2013 and which have submitted such proposals; the number of such schemes which have not submitted such proposals; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 49102/13 asked on 19 Nov 2013 - Defined Benefit Pension Schemes)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): I propose to take Questions Nos. 323 and 324 together. 
The number of defined benefit schemes that were due to submit funding proposals to the Pensions Board by June 2013 was 217, of which 82 are currently outstanding. The 135 schemes that have responded fall into one of the following categories:
1. Submitted a funding proposal
2. Submitted a positive Actuarial Funding Certificate 
3. Have wound up, or have stated that they are going to wind u...

324. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection the numbers of defined benefit pension schemes which have started or completed the process of wind-up to date in 2013; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 49103/13 asked on 19 Nov 2013 - Defined Benefit Pension Schemes)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): I propose to take Questions Nos. 323 and 324 together. 
The number of defined benefit schemes that were due to submit funding proposals to the Pensions Board by June 2013 was 217, of which 82 are currently outstanding. The 135 schemes that have responded fall into one of the following categories:
1. Submitted a funding proposal
2. Submitted a positive Actuarial Funding Certificate 
3. Have wound up, or have stated that they are going to wind u...

353. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Social Protection the number of claimants who obtain a payment from community welfare officers due to lack of PRSI contributions who are ineligible to claim for illness benefit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 49414/13 asked on 19 Nov 2013 - Supplementary Welfare Allowance Payments)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): The supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) scheme provides a “safety net” within the overall social welfare system and provides assistance to eligible people in the State whose means are insufficient to meet their needs and those of their dependants. The main purpose of the scheme is to provide immediate and flexible assistance for those in need who do not qualify for payment under other State schemes. 
There are currently over 3,700 clients ...

523. Deputy Willie O’Dea asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason his Department has requested proof of evidence for the past three months to be provided again when it had previously been provided to the citizenship unit in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 49145/13 asked on 19 Nov 2013 - Naturalisation Applications)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that an application for a certificate of naturalisation has been received from the person referred to by the Deputy.
The application is being processed with a view to establishing whether the applicant meets the statutory conditions for the granting of naturalisation, such as good character and lawful residence, and will be submitted to me for decision...