50. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development when the report on public banking based on the Sparkassen model will be considered; when it will be published; the roadmap for implementation of this initiative; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8506/18 asked on 21 Feb 2018 - Community Banking)

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Michael Ring): The Programme for a Partnership Government envisaged that An Post, the Irish League of Credit Unions and other interested stakeholders would be asked to investigate and propose a new model of community banking, such as the Kiwibank model in New Zealand. The Programme for Government also includes a commitment to investigate the German Sparkassen model for the development of local public banks.
 A project team comprising official...

63. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development when a status and implementation report on the action plan for rural development will be provided; the main progress made in 2017; the expected progress in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8510/18 asked on 21 Feb 2018 - Action Plan for Rural Development Implementation)

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Michael Ring): The Action Plan for Rural Development was published in January 2017. The Plan contains over 270 actions for delivery across a range of Government Departments, State agencies and other organisations to support the economic and social progress of rural Ireland. 
My Department has been liaising with our implementation partners since late last year with a view to compiling the second six-monthly Progress Report on the implementatio...

69. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the role of his Department in the roll-out of rural broadband; the responsibilities he has in this area; the action he has planned; the progress made to date by the implementation group on the mobile phone and broadband taskforce report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8507/18 asked on 21 Feb 2018 - Rural Broadband Scheme)

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Michael Ring): My Department’s mission is to provide a renewed focus on rural and community development in Ireland, and to put in place policy and supports to create vibrant and sustainable communities. The availability of a high quality, high speed broadband network is an essential component underpinning sustainable growth and development in rural communities. 
In this regard, my officials are engaging with relevant stakeholders, including al...

70. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the number of new programmes he plans to fund with the community services programme in 2018; if current service providers will continue to be funded; the timeframe for the next submission of applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8509/18 asked on 21 Feb 2018 - Community Services Programme)

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Michael Ring): The Community Services Programme (CSP) supports 425 community organisations to provide local services through a social enterprise model. Funding is provided as a contribution to the cost of a manager and an agreed number of full-time equivalent positions. The CSP budget for 2018 is €46.2m.
Last week I approved total funding of €815,000 for 12 social enterprises providing employment to specific disadvantaged groups. This fundi...

164. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Health the steps he will take to contact the relevant authorities with a view to expediting an urgent appointment for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 9019/18 asked on 21 Feb 2018 - Hospital Appointments Administration)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive (HSE) is required to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. Section 6 of the HSE Governance Act 2013 bars the Minister for Health from directing the HSE to provide a treatment or a personal service to any individual or to confer eligibility on any individual.
The National Waiting List Management Policy, A standardised approach to managing...

175. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment further to Parliamentary Question Nos 604 and 607 of 23 May 2017 and in relation to the report of the taskforce implementation group concerning taskforce action number 19, if the pricing review of the MANS network is complete; his plans to publish the review; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 9010/18 asked on 21 Feb 2018 - Metropolitan Area Networks Programme)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): In the context of Action 19 of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce, which was to explore whether take up of the MANs could be improved, a review of the MANs was commissioned by the Department and carried out by independent consultants. The review examined the operation of the MANs by the Management Services Entity, enet, which manages and operates the MANs on behalf of the State, and considered the access ...

176. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he has been notified of force majeure circumstance by a company (details supplied) in relation to its NBP commitment agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 9011/18 asked on 21 Feb 2018 - National Broadband Plan Implementation)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): In April 2017, I signed a Commitment Agreement with eir in relation to its plans to provide High speed broadband to 300,000 premises in rural areas on a commercial basis. eir has committed to completing the rollout by the end of this year. Information on eir’s planned rural deployment is available at http://fibrerollout.ie/eircode-lookup/. A copy of the Commitment Agreement is available on my Department’s webs...

177. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment further to Parliamentary Question No. 1008 of 13 July 2017, the top five blackspots by county for mobile coverage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 9013/18 asked on 21 Feb 2018 - Telecommunications Services Provision)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): Under Action 17 of the December 2016 Report of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce, my Department and the Department of Rural and Community Development have worked to achieve a greater consensus around site selection for telecoms infrastructure and therefore improve mobile phone coverage.  
In 2017, both Departments worked with a pilot group of local authorities to identify the issues associated with map...

178. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the date on which changes to clawback arrangements of MANS enhancements were adopted; if the new arrangements were applied retrospectively from the date of adoption; if there is or likely to be a net cost to the State from this change; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 9014/18 asked on 21 Feb 2018 - Metropolitan Area Networks Programme)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): New clawback arrangements in respect of enhancements to the MANs under the MSE I Concession Agreement were agreed with the concessionaire on 15 March 2017.  The clawback period was reduced from the final ten years to the final five years of the Concession Agreement, which is due to expire in March 2030. 
The purpose of the clawback arrangements is to incentivise ongoing enhancement of the MANs infrastructure by ...

179. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of premises passed under the Eircom commitment contract in Q2, Q3 and Q4 of 2017 that were deployed by means of eVDSL, LR-VDSL or were otherwise not fibre-to-the-premises; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 9015/18 asked on 21 Feb 2018 - Broadband Service Provision)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): The number of eVDSL premises passed by eir under the terms of the April 2017 Commitment Agreement for the three Quarters referenced by the Deputy is set out below:
Quarter 2 2017:  0 premises
Quarter 3 2017:  2,918 premises
Quarter 4 2017:  392 premises
Premises passed will now be able to avail of eVDSL enabled services which include speeds from 30Mbps up to and including 100Mbps.  Information on eir’s planned r...

180. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment further to Parliamentary Question No. 587 of 23 May 2017, his plans to issue a policy direction to a body (details supplied) in relation to the coverage conditions, as opposed to the allocation method, or of spectrum licences in the 700MHz band; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 9016/18 asked on 21 Feb 2018 - Broadband Service Provision)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): A Decision has been adopted at EU level in order to co-ordinate the release the 694-790MHz (700MHz) spectrum band in all Member States by 30 June 2020. This proposal will allow mobile broadband services to use this part of the spectrum band. 
The EU Commission’s Digital Single Market Strategy highlights the importance of this band for ensuring the provision of broadband services in rural areas. The band is par...

212. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the local authorities that remain non-compliant with the 2013 development contribution guidelines in relation to taskforce action number 8 and the progress report of the taskforce implementation group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 9012/18 asked on 21 Feb 2018 - Development Contributions)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Development contributions applied by local authorities are levied on the basis of a development contribution scheme adopted by the elected members which sets out how contributions are to be applied in respect of developments in their respective functional areas. The level of contribution and the types of development to which development contributions should apply, including any exemptions from charging in specific circu...

40. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the changes she plans to implement following the publication of the report into tax and social insurance implications of intermediary employment structures and self-employment arrangements; her further plans to conduct a study to determine the number of persons who are in these arrangements due to the reliance on data based on a self-described determination in the CSO Quarterly National Household Survey in which persons may not realise they are, in fact, self-employed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8464/18 asked on 20 Feb 2018 - Employment Rights)

Deputy Willie O’Dea: The Minister understands the concept of bogus self-employment. I have been approached by groups of people on many occasions - one as late as last week - who are working as employees in the normal way who were suddenly told by their employers that from the following week they would be self-employed. That has certain devastating consequences, obviously, for the employees themselves and also for the Exchequer. I am trying to ascertain what is the Government’s policy on this....

46. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the policy changes she plans to pursue in 2018; her priorities in view of the publication of the social impact assessment of budget 2018; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8346/18 asked on 20 Feb 2018 - Departmental Priorities)

Deputy Willie Penrose: My question refers to a study which came out earlier in the month. It is similar to the equality budgeting strategy. I note that the social impact assessment of the welfare and tax measures in the 2018 budget was published utilising the simulating welfare and income tax changes, SWITCH, model developed by the Economic and Social Research Institute, ESRI, which I recall being introduced some weeks ago. The results indicate and encompass the impact of the budget changes. ...

66. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the proposals his Department is working on in conjunction with the NTA to deliver on action points 251 and 254 of the Action Plan for Rural Development to work with rural communities to assess and implement improvements to existing rural transport routes and develop new rural transport routes as necessary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54714/17 asked on 15 Feb 2018 - Rural Transport Programme)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Action no. 251 of the Action Plan for Rural Development refers to a commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government to conduct a review of public transport policy “to ensure services are sustainable into the future and are meeting the needs of a modern economy”, which will encompass the rural transport dimension. Following on from this commitment and as further committed to in the latter part of 2017, work is underway in my ...

95. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Finance his plans to amend or change the terms and eligibility conditions for receipt of primary medical certificates particularly in cases in which persons seeking same are severely disabled but have not lost a limb or have other significant medical conditions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8036/18 asked on 15 Feb 2018 - Disabled Drivers and Passengers Scheme)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): As you may be aware, the Disabled Drivers and Disabled Passengers (Tax Concessions) Scheme provides relief from VAT and VRT on the purchase of an adapted car for transport of a person with specific severe and permanent physical disabilities, payment of a fuel grant, and an exemption from Motor Tax. 
To qualify for the Scheme an applicant must be in possession of a Primary Medical Certificate. To qualify for a Primary Medical Certificate, an applica...

225. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Health if correspondence from a person (details supplied) has been received; if same will be given consideration; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8034/18 asked on 15 Feb 2018 - Cancer Services Provision)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): The provision of radiation oncology services in Ireland is governed by the National Plan for Radiation Oncology. The National Plan set out the projected infrastructure and equipment required to meet the needs for radiation oncology over a 20 year period. 
Radiation oncology is available in five public hospitals: St. James’s Hospital, Beaumont Hospital, St. Luke’s Hospital Rathgar (which three together form the St. Luke’s Radiation Oncology Network, Dubl...

291. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the reason a person (details supplied) is only in receipt of a €202 contributory State pension in view of the fact they have made social insurance contributions since 1964-65; if their situation can be reviewed in the context of new proposals to deal with contributory State pension recipients; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 7926/18 asked on 15 Feb 2018 - State Pension (Contributory) Eligibility)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The person concerned is in receipt of state pension (contributory) with effect from their 66th birthday. According to the records of my Department, the person concerned has a social insurance record of 982 reckonable paid and credited contributions. They are in receipt of a reduced state pension (contributory) based on a yearly average of 20 contributions, covering the period from October 1964 to end-December 2013 i...

292. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the status of an application by a person (details supplied) for carer’s allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 7927/18 asked on 15 Feb 2018 - Carer’s Allowance Applications)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Carer’s allowance (CA) is a means-tested social assistance payment made to a person who is habitually resident in the State and who is providing full-time care and attention to a person who has such a disability that they require that level of care.
My department received an application for CA from the person concerned on 22 November 2016. 
It is a condition for receipt of CA that every claimant shall furnish such cer...

299. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to review the operation of the community employment scheme eligibility criteria; her further plans to facilitate persons on community employment schemes who are not in receipt of a social welfare payment in view of the fact their spouses are in full-time employment or in circumstances in which they may be engaged in self-employment such as farming; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8022/18 asked on 15 Feb 2018 - Community Employment Schemes Eligibility)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): Following the publication of my Department’s Report, An Analysis of the Community Employment Programme, in April 2017 the Government approved a number of changes to the terms and conditions around participation on Community Employment (CE). The main purpose of these changes, which were implemented in July 2017 was to broaden the availability of CE to a greater number of people on the live register and to standardise ...

306. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if a postal vote facility is available for persons who may be registered in the constituency in which they reside but are attending third level education away from home and may not be able to return to vote in the upcoming referendum in May 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8035/18 asked on 15 Feb 2018 - Postal Voting)

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy John Paul Phelan): In order to be able to vote at elections and referendums, a person’s name must be entered in the register of electors for a constituency in the State in which the person ordinarily resides.
Postal voting is provided for in electoral law in respect of certain categories of persons who are entered in the register of electors. Measures to facilitate the greater participation of students in elect...

29. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his strategy to overcome intractable problems faced by thousands of farmers who still have not received GLAS payments; his views on the high level of complaints regarding the operation of GLAS payments; the actions he plans to take to address this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 7226/18 asked on 13 Feb 2018 - GLAS Payments)

Deputy Willie Penrose: The Minister is aware of the perennial problem of delays in GLAS payments. Is the Department prepared to chronicle the problems that were identified in relation to the 2017 payments that were the cause of the significant delays and send them out to Teagasc advisers, agri-consultants and planning consultants to ensure that everyone who applies for GLAS payments who are entitled to them are paid in a timely fashion? Is it the case that an overly bureaucratic view or assess...

40. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when the consultation with stakeholders will begin regarding the additional €25 million for the ANC payment; when a decision will be made on the way it will be allocated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 7140/18 asked on 13 Feb 2018 - Areas of Natural Constraint Scheme Payments)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): I am very aware of the importance of the Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) Scheme, which issues annual payments in excess of €200 million to over 95,000 farmers.  
The ANC Scheme has always been recognised as a very important support for rural society and farmers across the country who farm constrained lands.  In light of the importance of the scheme, the Programme for Government included a commitment to provide an additional...

46. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of the discussions held to date with the stakeholders relating to bovine EID tagging; the progress made to comply with the July deadline required in the EU regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 7143/18 asked on 13 Feb 2018 - Animal Identification Schemes)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): My Department provides for the use of EID (electronic) tags in the supply of bovine tags to herd keepers by approved tag vendors.  In this regard herd keepers can voluntarily choose to identify bovine animals using a conventional and electronic tag. If a keeper wishes to use EID on all the animals in the herd, a request should be made to the Regional Veterinary Office whereby one of the tags can be removed under RVO supervisi...

61. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the contact he has had with Coillte about the current non-payment of forestry financial instalments due to contracted farmers; his plans to carry out an audit to ensure all lessors are being paid with correct contract terms in place; his further plans to meet Ireland’s target of planting 7,100 hectares of forestry a year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 7141/18 asked on 13 Feb 2018 - Forestry Sector)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Coillte was established as a private commercial company under the Forestry Act, 1988 and day-to-day operational matters, such as the Coillte Farm Partnership Scheme, are the responsibility of the company.
The company has, however, since it’s meeting with the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine, on 12 December, provided my Department with general briefing about farm partnership contracts entered into ...