6. Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the changes he plans to make to penalty points; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 57197/12 asked on 20 Dec 2012 - Penalty Points System)

(Deputy Alan Kelly): This year marks the tenth anniversary of the introduction of a system of penalty point offences in this country.  Earlier this year, the Department undertook a review of the system to determine whether any changes would be appropriate.  The finalised review was forwarded to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications for its consideration.
Several adjustments to the current system were recommended. These include an increase in the number of penalty points...

237. Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the date on which total allowable catch and quota arrangements were introduced by the European Union in relation to boar fish; the percentage of the total allowable catch and the quota allocation for Ireland negotiated during the 2010 December EU Fisheries Council meeting; the quota allocation for 2012; the proposals he has to secure additional allocations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 57413/12 asked on 20 Dec 2012 - Fish Quotas)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Boarfish has in recent years become the target of commercial fishing by the Irish fishing fleet. The December 2010 Council of Fisheries Ministers introduced the first Boarfish quota for the 2011 fishing year, where Ireland secured a quota of 22,000t. At the December 2011 Fisheries Council I negotiated a significantly increased quota of 56,666t for the 2012, which included a redistribution of an “All Member States” quota, this...

11. Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Health the reason he narrowed eligibility for the over 70 years medical card; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 57058/12 asked on 19 Dec 2012 - Medical Card Eligibility)

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Due to the current financial climate, it is necessary to identify measures to mitigate the escalating costs of the medical card scheme for both the over 70’s cohort and the under 70’s cohort.
The changes to income limits for the over 70’s, which were announced in Budget 2013, will affect about 5% of the entire over 70’s population, which is in the region of 20,000 of the 360,000 over-70’s medical card holders. Under the new arra...

208. Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will provide a detailed explanation to a club (details supplied) in County Wexford on the reason it was refused national lottery funding in 2012 for club developments in view of the fact that it met all of the criteria required. (Question 57339/12 asked on 19 Dec 2012 - National Lottery Funding Applications)

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Michael Ring) (Deputy Michael Ring): My Department  has no record of an application being received under the 2012 SCP from the organisation referred to by the Deputy.
 ...

209. Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the reason a National Lottery grant application was refused in respect of an organisation in County Wexford (details supplied) that caters for a population of more than 4,000 people in the County; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 57340/12 asked on 19 Dec 2012 - National Lottery Funding Applications)

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Michael Ring) (Deputy Michael Ring): The application received from the club referred to by the Deputy was unsuccessful as it was invalid. It was deemed invalid on two grounds. Firstly, the applicant did not sign the section of the application form certifying, among other things, that the information supplied was correct and that the club would not deny anybody access to the facilities. Secondly, the evidence of title ...

104. Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the number of additional social workers for children that will be appointed in 2013; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 56683/12 asked on 18 Dec 2012 - Health Services Staff Recruitment)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The HSE has made considerable progress over recent years in recruiting additional social workers, with over 260 social workers recruited under the Ryan Implementation Plan at end 2011. 
Work is ongoing within the HSE on the disaggregation of the Children and Families resource base from the HSE as part of the process of establishing the Child and Family Support Agency in early 2013. Consequently the number of social workers ass...

4. Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the position regarding the common fisheries policy review; the possible implications for Irish fishermen; when he expects this to be concluded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 56051/12 asked on 13 Dec 2012 - Common Fisheries Policy Negotiations)

Acting Chairman (Deputy Peter Mathews): Before we continue, I must let Members know I had a tasty piece of sole before I came into the Chamber. I hope it came from Dungarvan.
 ...

22. Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps he has taken to encourage land transfers to young farmers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 55958/12 asked on 13 Dec 2012 - Land Transfers)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Recent analysis shows that there are more farmers over 80 than under 35. The situation has been deteriorating for many years, both in Ireland and in the rest of Europe.
I have been working to encourage more young people to take up farming as a career. Budget 2013 saw the extension of key reliefs that were already in place for young farmers (such as the 100% relief from Stamp Duty and the 100% stock relief for Young Trained F...

25. Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if it is mandatory under the proposed regulations for the Common Agricultural Policy 2014-2020 to divide the country into regions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 55989/12 asked on 13 Dec 2012 - Common Agricultural Policy Reform)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): The CAP reform proposals provide an option for Member States to apply a regional approach but there is no obligation on Member States to do so.
 ...

87. Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he has had any further discussion with the Law Society regarding changes recommended by the Conveyancing Task Force on property transfers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 55466/12 asked on 11 Dec 2012 - Property Transfers)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): The Conveyancing Conflicts of Interest Regulation, to which the Deputy refers, was adopted by the Council of the Law Society on 7 September 2012, following the recommendations of the “Conveyancing Conflicts Task Force Report” published by the Law Society the previous July. Section 5 of the Solicitors Act 1954 provides for the Society to make regulations which are necessary for the carrying out of its functions and requires that such regul...

64. Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when he intends to repeal of the 1871 Lunacy Regulations Act; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54717/12 asked on 05 Dec 2012 - Proposed Legislation)

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly; Alan Shatter): The Programme for Government includes a commitment to introduce a Mental Capacity Bill. The Bill will provide for the repeal of the Lunacy Regulation (Ireland) Act 1871 and the replacement of the Wards of Court system provided under that Act with a modern statutory framework to support persons with impaired decision-making ability. My intention is to ensure that the Bill is in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disab...

60. Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the payment rate per local authority of the household charge to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54179/12 asked on 04 Dec 2012 - Household Charge)

(Deputy Fergus O’Dowd): I propose to take Questions Nos. 60 and 71 together.
The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 provides the legislative basis for the household charge. Under the Act, an owner of a residential property on the liability date is liable to pay the household charge unless otherwise exempted or entitled to claim a waiver. It is a matter for an owner of a residential property to determine liability and pay the charge. The Local Government Management Agency is administ...

34. Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the progress made to date with regard to the implementation of Warmer Homes: A Strategy for Affordable Energy in Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53245/12 asked on 29 Nov 2012 - Energy Schemes Issues)

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): The Affordable Energy Strategy was developed by the Inter-Departmental/Agency Group on Affordable Energy (IDGAE) and published in November 2011 as part of the Department’s commitment in the Programme for Government to help mitigate energy poverty.
The Affordable Energy Strategy provides a framework for building upon the many measures already in place to protect households at risk from the effects of energy poverty, ...

324. Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills when an application for a higher education grant will be approved in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wexford. (Question 53079/12 asked on 27 Nov 2012 - Student Grant Scheme Applications)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Officials in my Department have confirmed with SUSI, the new centralised grant awarding authority, that further supporting documentation was received from the student referred to by the Deputy and her application will be reviewed shortly. SUSI will contact the student directly in relation to the outcome.
 ...

551. Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the position regarding EU pilot 764/09 environmental infringement case regarding sea lice management on Irish salmon farms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52270/12 asked on 27 Nov 2012 - Fish Farming)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): The infringement case referred to by the Deputy was closed by the EU Commission on 11 October 2012 following the submission to the Commission by my Department of the facts in relation to the case.
In Ireland the control protocols in respect of sea lice are operated by the Marine Institute on behalf of the State and are more advanced than those operated in other jurisdictions for the following reasons: the inspection regime is ...

592. Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the total number of interested parties to date in purchasing Coillte; his views on the possible conclusion of a sale or if he now feels Coillte should be kept in State ownership; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53081/12 asked on 27 Nov 2012 - State Agencies)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Further to the Government decision that a concession for the harvesting rights to Coillte’s forests be put forward for sale, Coillte Board and management have been actively engaged in recent months with NewERA, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and my Department to examine the financial and other implications of developing the potential of Coillte’s forest assets.
The identification of the forestry assets involve...

31. Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the way he proposed to help startups in the healthcare sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 51839/12 asked on 22 Nov 2012 - Enterprise Support Services Provision)

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Enterprise Ireland works intensively with high potential start-ups to drive growth and has in place a number of supports to assist entrepreneurs and new start-up companies including those in the healthcare sector. Enterprise Ireland’s financial support directly assists entrepreneurs and leverages matching funding from banks and investors.
In addition to financial supports, Enterprise Ireland have a broad system which supports...

110. Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has received the report from the Higher Education Authority on proposed funding options for the third level sector; if he has considered the report; when he expects to publish same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 51295/12 asked on 20 Nov 2012 - Departmental Reports)

(Deputy Ruairí Quinn): The reality of the economic situation and the public expenditure corrections which must be made in the coming years present challenges across all areas of public expenditure. It must be acknowledged that the sector has accommodated significant increases in student numbers at a time when both funding and staff numbers have reduced.
As the Deputy will be aware, the Higher Education Authority, HEA, is undertaking a study on the sustainability of the current funding system fo...

636. Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Health when he intends to honour a commitment which he gave to an organisation (details supplied) to introduce a package of supports for children suffering from narcolepsy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 51510/12 asked on 20 Nov 2012 - Narcolepsy Issues)

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): I propose to take Questions Nos. 566, 568, 574, 600, 604, 630, 636 and 647 together.
My priority is to ensure that the children/adolescents affected are provided with services and supports to meet their health needs. Meetings have been held by myself and my Department with representatives from SOUND on a number of occasions. Department is working closely with the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the Department of Education and Skills to address the ...

637. Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Health when an application for an operation at Cappagh Hospital, Dublin, will be approved in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Wexford. (Question 51512/12 asked on 20 Nov 2012 - Hospital Procedures)

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): The management of waiting lists for patients awaiting public health care is based on the principle that after urgent and cancer patients are treated, then clinically assessed routine patients should be seen in chronological order (i.e. longest waiter first). Should the patient’s general practitioner consider that the patient’s condition warrants an earlier appointment, he/she would be in the best position to take the matter up with the consultant and ho...

39. Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Finance if he is satisfied with the manner in which banks operate the standard financial statement for customers in financial distress; if there is commonly applied definition of necessary living costs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 50483/12 asked on 15 Nov 2012 - Personal Debt)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): I have been advised by the Central Bank that one of the recommendations of the Expert Group on Mortgage Arrears and Personal Debt was that “a Standard Financial Statement (SFS) should be developed for use by all lenders and MABS, to assess a borrower’s financial position and to identify a best course of action”. A standard format for the SFS was developed by the IBF and MABS and approved by the Central Bank in 2011. All lenders are required to use t...

19. Deputy John Browne asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will report on the recent North South Ministerial Council; the issues discussed; the future actions to be taken (Question 50164/12 asked on 14 Nov 2012 - Northern Ireland Issues)

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): I propose to take Questions Nos. 19 and 25 together.
The fifteenth Plenary meeting of the North South Ministerial Council (NSMC) was held in Armagh on 2 November 2012. At the outset, Ministers extended their sympathies to the family of prison officer David Black who was brutally murdered on his way to work on 1 November and condemned those who carried out this atrocity. Along with our colleagues in the Northern Ireland ...

251. Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Health the reason the promised podiatry post at Wexford General Hospital, sanctioned in April 2012, will now not be filled due to the Health Service Executive recruitment embargo.; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 50295/12 asked on 14 Nov 2012 - Hospital Staff Recruitment)

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly): I propose to take Questions Nos. 251, 261, 267, 269 and 273 together.
As these are service matters, they have been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.
 ...

36. Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Health the details of the deal made with the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association on 15 October 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48923/12 asked on 08 Nov 2012 - Medicinal Products Expenditure)

Minister for Health (Deputy James Reilly) (Deputy James Reilly): I announced on the 15th October, 2012 that intensive negotiations involving the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA), the HSE and the Department of Health had reached a successful conclusion with a major new deal on the cost of drugs in the State. The main provisions of the new Agreement are as follows:
- With effect from 1st November 2012, the ex factory price of all patent protected medicines reimbursed in Ireland ...

44. Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Health the action he will take on foot of the recent NESC report Quality and Standards in Human Services in Ireland: End of Life Care in Hospitals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 48936/12 asked on 08 Nov 2012 - Palliative Care Services)

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): Government policy on Palliative Care is contained in the Report of the National Advisory Committee on Palliative Care (2001) and the Health Service Executive Five Year / Medium Term Framework for Palliative Care Services (2009-13).
In common with a series of NESC reports, the one raised by the Deputy in relation to End of Life Care in Hospitals, calls for various actions. These reflect to varying degrees initiatives currently...