231. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Health if a person (details supplied) will be admitted to the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire as soon as possible; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20749/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Hospital Services)

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Finian McGrath): The Government is committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will empower them to live independent lives, provide greater independence in accessing the services they choose, and enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their lives. This commitment is outlined in the Programme for Partnership Government, which is guided by two principles: equality o...

234. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Health the steps he will take to ensure that a person (details supplied) receives home help hours; if funding will be provided to the HSE to ensure same is funded without future delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20789/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Home Help Service Provision)

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Finian McGrath): As the Deputy’s question relates to service matters, I have arranged for the question to be referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply to the Deputy.
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290. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection when an application for a carer’s allowance by a person (details supplied) will be determined; if same can be expedited; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20747/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Carer’s Allowance Applications)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): My department received an application for carer’s allowance (CA) from the person concerned on the 20 February 2018. 
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.
A person can be considered to be providing full-time care and attention w...

313. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the number of persons that have applied to Westmeath County Council for the Rebuilding Ireland home loan; the number approved; the eligibility criteria; if they are uniformly applied across the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20788/18 asked on 10 May 2018 - Home Loan Scheme)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): I refer to the reply to Question No. 89 of 8 May 2018.
The final decision on loan approval is a matter for each local authority and its Credit Committee on a case-by-case basis.  Decisions on all housing loan applications must be made in accordance with the statutory credit policy that underpins the scheme, in order to ensure consistency of treatment for all applicants.  Loan applicants who are dissatisfied with a loan a...

35. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the additional facilities that may be required at the National Concert Hall if the recommendations of the Boaden report in respect of the future of the National Symphony Orchestra is implemented; the way in which the funding will be provided to facilitate the NCH in enabling such a transfer to take place; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20005/18 asked on 09 May 2018 - National Concert Hall)

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Josepha Madigan): As I stated in my reply to the Priority Question No 1 earlier today, both the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment and I have welcomed the recommendations of the RTÉ report in relation to the provision of orchestral music. 
The report has recommended that the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra should be a national cultural institution in its own right, or within the National Concert Hall. It should be ...

174. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Skills if adequate plans will be provided for the forthcoming academic year for young students (details supplied) who wish to undertake courses in primary school teaching, and in particular students who had the required minimum points to pursue these courses in 2017 to 2018 but were denied the opportunity due to a lack of places being provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20073/18 asked on 08 May 2018 - Teacher Training Places)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): There are 1,000 places available on the Bachelor of Education programme scheduled to commence in September 2018. The places are split between the four Higher Education Institutes who provide the course: 
- Marino Institute of Education 
- Mary Immaculate College 
- DCU Institute of Education 
- Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education, Maynooth University
Applications for the Bachelor of Education programmes are made t...

491. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if funding will be made available to Westmeath County Council to purchase houses to enable persons that have lived in such houses as rented accommodation and which are now being disposed of by financial institutions and in which the purchase thereof would prevent homeless situations arising; if so, the criteria for making such funding available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20125/18 asked on 08 May 2018 - Local Authority Housing Funding)

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): My Department provides funding to local authorities to acquire a range of properties for social housing use. Identifying and undertaking such social housing acquisitions is largely delegated to local authorities, so that they may respond flexibly to all opportunities to provide new social housing.  Such funding is also provided on the basis that the houses are suitable for social housing use and suitable also across a ra...

11. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to review the JobPath programme. (Question 19220/18 asked on 03 May 2018 - JobPath Programme)

Deputy Willie Penrose: In a context in which the level of long-term unemployment is thankfully falling rapidly, will the Minister continue the JobPath programme? Will a value for money review of the programme be provided for? I ask these questions in the context of the welcome announcement that from 1 June people will be able to participate in community employment schemes and Tús. If they were not allowed to participate, many schemes across the country would collapse.
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13. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to address the pension concerns of community employment supervisors. (Question 19223/18 asked on 03 May 2018 - Community Employment Schemes Supervisors)

Deputy Regina Doherty: The issue of addressing the entitlement of community employment supervisors to occupational pensions is primarily a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. For the record, it should be noted that my Department is not the employer of CE supervisors and, therefore, such employees are not public servants. They are employees of limited companies that receive public funding.
It should also be noted that the issue of CE supervisors’ pension pro...

21. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the position regarding progressing amendments on Committee Stage of the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Bill 2017; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19219/18 asked on 03 May 2018 - Legislative Process)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): A number of amendments for inclusion at Committee Stage of the Social Welfare, Pensions and Civil Registration Bill 2017 are currently being drafted. My Department is currently engaging with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel to the Government (OPC) in this regard. These amendments include important measures relating in particular to pensions and data protection. Subject to the additional provisions being fin...

32. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the additional number of persons expected to access community employment and Tús schemes following the rule change for JobPath that comes into effect on 1 June 2018; if additional resources will be made available in this regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19221/18 asked on 03 May 2018 - Labour Activation Measures)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): JobPath is one of a range of activation supports, including employment schemes such as Community Employment (CE) and Tús, catering for unemployed jobseekers. Long term unemployed jobseekers who are not engaged with any other activation scheme or service are referred by my Department to the JobPath service to receive intensive individual support, including relevant training and educational programmes which will assist...

34. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to expand the provision of paternity leave and paid parental leave; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19222/18 asked on 03 May 2018 - Paternity Leave)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The Department of Justice and Equality have policy and legislative responsibility for paternity leave and parental leave. My Department has responsibility for any associated social welfare payments.
The Programme for Partnership Government commits the Government to increase paid parental leave in the first year of a child’s life. An inter-departmental working group has been established, chaired by the Department of ...

195. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Health the steps being taken by his Department and/or the HSE to replace the dermatologist in the midlands area (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19454/18 asked on 03 May 2018 - Health Services Staff Recruitment)

Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): As this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond directly to you, as soon as possible.
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218. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the person or body that has the contract for carrying out the mapping for his Department by way of land parcel identification system, LPIS; when the contract was awarded; the number of persons involved in the process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19531/18 asked on 03 May 2018 - Land Parcel Identification System)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Following completion of a recent competitive tender process, Mallon Technology Limited was awarded the contract for the updating and maintenance of the Department’s Land Parcel Identification System and other digitising services. In line with standard procedures for the awarding of such contracts, an evaluation committee was put in place to evaluate all the tenders received. Seven officials sat on this evaluation committee, ...

267. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the nature and type of benefits that are available to a person who works two full-time days constituting 16 hours of employment; the length of time the person would have to work to be in a position to secure benefits if they were to fall ill or to become unemployed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19530/18 asked on 03 May 2018 - Social Welfare Benefits)

Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Deputy Regina Doherty): The jobseeker’s benefit (JB) and jobseeker’s allowance (JA) schemes provide income support for people who have lost work and are unable to find alternative full-time employment. Jobseeker’s allowance is a means-tested social assistance payment whereas jobseeker’s benefit is a contribution based social insurance scheme. To qualify for JB a person must have at least 104 weeks qualifying PRSI contributions paid since t...

62. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the status of the public banking investigation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18910/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Community Banking)

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Michael Ring): I propose to take Questions Nos. 57 and 62 together.
The Programme for a Partnership Government includes a commitment to investigate a new model of community banking for Ireland, including an investigation of the German Sparkassen model for the development of local public banks that operate within well-defined regions.
A project team comprising officials from my Department and the Department of Finance was established last year ...

144. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if an application for change of herd ownership by a person (details supplied) will be expedited; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19303/18 asked on 02 May 2018 - Herd Data)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): The change of herd ownership was finalised on 25/04/2018 and documentation issued on the same date to the new herd owner.
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26. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on the ongoing reduction in land being allocated for tillage crops and especially cereals over the past five years; his plans to offer support and advice to tillage farmers who have sustained significant losses in terms of crop yield and consequently income in that period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18312/18 asked on 26 Apr 2018 - Tillage Sector)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Firstly I want to put on record that I am committed to supporting this very important sector which plays a key role in the development of the wider agri-food industry. The tillage sector is an important and integral component of the Agri-food industry, making a significant contribution to overall agricultural output. Crop production as a whole including Horticulture contributes in the region of €700 million annually to agricul...

34. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when low interest rate credit will be available to farmers who have incurred significant additional feed costs for their animals as a result of the long winter; if he has obtained a commitment from the commercial banks that they will respond positively to the cash flow problems being experienced on farms arising from the long winter and fodder crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18311/18 asked on 26 Apr 2018 - Agriculture Cashflow Support Loan Scheme)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): I am conscious that this prolonged winter will have put some individual farmers under pressure in terms of cash flow. In recognition of this, I have met with the CEOs of the main banks and discussed the current cash flow and liquidity position of the primary sector. I emphasised to them that they should recognise the temporary and exceptional nature of the current situation and that they should be flexible and put in place mea...

36. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he is satisfied that all farmers will be able to comply with the 100% online application for the basic payment scheme in the context of the variation of broadband coverage across the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18310/18 asked on 26 Apr 2018 - Basic Payment Scheme Administration)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Under the EU regulations, 2018 is the first year that all applications for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) are to be submitted online. Recent years have seen significant growth in the number of farmers applying for the BPS online, and this is reflective of the range of benefits that online application brings for farmers.
Among the benefits available to online applicants is the availability of preliminary checks for online appl...

37. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the likely impact of the opening of the Chinese market for the beef trade, in particular from a price perspective for beef producers; the strategy of Bord Bia to ensure that Irish beef is promoted as a premium product in China; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18309/18 asked on 26 Apr 2018 - Food Exports to China)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): The recent opening of the Chinese beef market to Irish beef is very significant for the Irish beef industry, all along the chain from farmers through to processors and exporters.
However I cannot comment on the potential volume or value of beef exports. The role of my Department is to open up access to new markets, in line with the market diversification theme of our Foodwise 2025 strategy, and to maintain access to existing m...

40. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if Commissioner Oettinger plans to outline a 6% cut in the CAP budget which would specifically apply to Pillar 1 payments; if so, the steps and policies he plans to implement to mitigate the extent of such a proposal in the case of the farming sectors that are highly dependent upon CAP payments as their primary source of income; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18308/18 asked on 26 Apr 2018 - Common Agricultural Policy Subsidies)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): The Budget Commissioner, Gunther Oettinger visited Dublin on 6 March 2018 as part of his tour of all European capitals in advance of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) proposals being published on 2 May 2018. As part of his appearance before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure, he spoke of acceptable cuts to CAP and Cohesion of 5 - 10%. This was in the context of some Member States looking for ...

104. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Skills if grant aid is available for bar and management courses which are conducted at institutes of technology leading to a diploma in same; if there is assistance or grant aid available pursuant to the tourism and recreational sectors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18378/18 asked on 26 Apr 2018 - Student Support Schemes)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Approved undergraduate courses for the Student Grant Scheme 2018 are prescribed in the Student Support Regulations 2018 and in the Student Support Act 2011. 
The Regulations prescribe that an approved undergraduate course is a full-time course leading to a major higher education and training award which takes a minimum of two years to complete in an approved institution (including Institutes of Technology).
Courses that are part-time or ...

29. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the measures he is pursuing to protect and enhance rural post offices; the responsibilities he has in this area; the action he has planned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 8508/18 asked on 25 Apr 2018 - Post Office Network)

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): I propose to take Questions Nos. 29 and 33 together.
As Minister, I am responsible for the postal sector including the governance of An Post.  Operational matters relating to the company’s retail business, including the post office network, are matters for the Board and management of An Post. Nonetheless, I am acutely conscious of the value placed by communities in both rural and urban areas on services provide...

162. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the reason he has failed to meet personally with the unions representing community employment scheme supervisors and assistant supervisors; the reason the high level forum set up under the Lansdowne Road agreement has failed to meet as mandated to do so with a view to implementing the thrust of the Labour Court recommendation made in 2008; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 18095/18 asked on 24 Apr 2018 - Community Employment Schemes Supervisors)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 155, 160 and 162 together.
I would refer the Deputy on my response to PQ 13684/18 of 27 March 2018.
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