3. Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he has examined the competitive impacts of the Shannon Airport support package on neighbouring airports such as Ireland West Knock and on the region it serves; his national aviation priorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 57537/12 asked on 20 Dec 2012 - Regional Airports)

(Deputy Alan Kelly): In the first instance, there is not a support package in place for Shannon Airport. The Deputy will recall that the Minister for Finance announced in his recent budget speech that he will put in place measures to facilitate the construction of hangars and ancillary facilities that will be key to attracting additional aviation sector organisations. However, these are based on an appreciation of the contribution that aviation can make nationally. They are aimed at attractin...

5. Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Health when he will introduce legislation for the provision of cannabis derived products for the relief of pain, spasticity and other effects of ailments such as Multiple Sclerosis, Glaucoma and so on will be coming before Dáil Éireann; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 57362/12 asked on 19 Dec 2012 - Medicinal Products)

(Deputy Alex White): My Department has been informed by the Irish Medicines Board, IMB, that it is in receipt of a market authorisation request from a manufacturer under the European Union’s mutual recognition procedure for a medicinal product containing cannabis extract. This product is indicated for the relief of symptoms of spasticity for people with multiple sclerosis. Under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977, the manufacture, production, preparation, sale, supply, distribution and possession of...

78. Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Health if he will allocate €100,000 to the mother and child facility at Coolmine Therapeutic Community, Dublin, in order that 20 young women, who have overcome their addiction and urgently need therapeutic care, can enter the residential therapy with their babies; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that if they cannot get the therapy the majority of them will relapse; his views on whether this will cost the health and prison services three times the budget for delivering therapy to these addicts later in their lives and that statistics show that those who relapse are at serious risk of dying; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 56532/12 asked on 19 Dec 2012 - Drug Treatment Programmes Funding)

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Alex White): Coolmine Therapeutic Community receives funding from my Department and the HSE to provide a range of services, including a specific residential programme targeting women, many of whom are mothers. Reflecting the Government’s ongoing commitment to the National Drugs Strategy, I have recently approved an additional €100,000 in funding to enable the facility to provide a creche service. This will allow mothers to keep their children...

137. Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will consider removing executors of wills from the Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011. (Question 57176/12 asked on 19 Dec 2012 - Household Charge Exemptions)

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Phil Hogan): The Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011 provides the legislative basis for the household charge. Section 4 sets out the exemptions and waivers from the charge including where personal representatives for a deceased person are relevant. There are currently no plans to amend the legislation in this respect . 
The Household Charge was brought forward as an interim measure pending the introduction of a full...

5. Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his plans for Castlerea Town Trust, Cow Park Trust, County Roscommon; his position regarding appointing new trustees to such a trust; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 56184/12 asked on 13 Dec 2012 - Land Reclassification)

Deputy Simon Coveney: I am pleased that the Deputy has asked this question because we discussed it some weeks ago. I am pleased that I have managed to bring the issue forward since that discussion. I wish to make clear at the outset that my reply relates to the public trust set up in 1919 under the provisions of the Land Purchase Acts. To avoid confusion, my Department refers to it as the Castlerea Public Trust because there is another private trust bordering the trust in Castlerea. The Cast...

147. Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Finance his views on whether vehicle registration tax is in compliance with the Treaty of Rome; in particular if he will consider Article 25 of the Treaty to be fully complied with as it states that an excise or custom duty cannot be redesignated as a tax; and if he will accept that this may be the case as Ireland was given a derogation under Article 14 on import duty on vehicles up until 31 December 1992 when the vehicle registration tax was introduced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53918/12 asked on 04 Dec 2012 - Vehicle Registration Tax)

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that Section 132 of the Finance Act, 1992 provided for the introduction, from 1 January 1993, of “a duty of excise, to be called vehicle registration tax”. I can assure the Deputy that the legislation in relation to vehicle registration tax is compatible with the provisions of the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Vehicle registration tax is a feature of the t...

235. Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will provide a breakdown of where the funds from the sale of Coillte assets will go; the sums that will go to bridge the €135m deficit in the Coillte employees’ pension fund and the Coillte €170m debt mentioned in their 2011 annual accounts, the sum that is currently the target price for the Coillte assets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54413/12 asked on 04 Dec 2012 - Sale of State Assets)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): As the Deputy will be aware, we have agreed with the Troika that all of the Government’s proceeds from the State asset disposal programme, including proceeds received from any sale of Coillte assets, apart from its land holdings, will be available, in one shape or another, to support job-creating initiatives in the economy. Half of the proceeds will be available to fund employment enhancing projects of a commercial nature. The o...

402. Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the reason local authorities do not have to make the details of their own planning applications available online as it the case with other planning applications; if he will agree that they should be available for viewing on line and that quite often such applications are of great public interest as they often relate to public works, road realignments and so on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54304/12 asked on 04 Dec 2012 - Planning Issues)

Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (Deputy Jan O’Sullivan): Section 179 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, and the associated Part 8 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, set out the legal requirements in relation to local authority own development which does not require environmental impact assessment. Where a planning authority proposes to carry out development in accordance with Part 8 the Manager of the planning authority...

482. Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if a clause can be built into any sale of Coillte forests to guarantee the current supply of round logs to the sawmilling industry here; if a similar clause is being put in place to protect and guarantee the supply of timber to the Coillte board plants at Waterford and Clonmel; if he will instruct New Era to establish a guarantee within any sale documents drafted by New Era or Coillte to protect and guarantee the present supply of round logs to the Irish sawmilling industry, as has been done recently in New South Wales on foot of the mistakes made in New Zealand, or if this guarantee is not to be included; the plans in place to replace the loss of the 12,000 jobs currently employed in the timber industry should the supply of round logs to the sawmilling sector here not be protected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54414/12 asked on 04 Dec 2012 - Sale of State Assets)

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 considered 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 process is at an advanced stage and, aside fro...

529. Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the reason Coillte failed to correctly predict the future supply of round logs that was to be available to the saw milling industry here from the forests that they manage; his views on whether the prediction of a rising future supply of round logs encouraged sawmillers to invest in plant, and thus creating a competitive saw milling industry with more processing capacity than the annual supply of mature round logs could meet; if anyone has been held to account for this misdirection; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54412/12 asked on 04 Dec 2012 - Forestry Sector)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): Coillte Teoranta was established as a private commercial company under the Forestry Act, 1988 and day-to-day operational matters, such as timber supply forecasts, are the responsibility of the company. I understand that Coillte produces forecasts of the gross standing volume of roundwood in its estate, which form the basis for the company’s annual supply programme and its offer to its customers. This forecasted volume is val...

530. Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on the threat that the sale of Coillte forests will have on the future of the sawmilling industry here and the thousands of jobs therein and that the sale of such national assets will also threaten the future of downstream processing of timber as timber will be exported in the round to other countries; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that this happened in New Zealand; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54415/12 asked on 04 Dec 2012 - Forestry Sector)

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 considered 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 process is at an advanced stage and, aside fro...

197. Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will enquire into the case of the Garda Ombudsman appointing a Ballinasloe based Garda to investigate a Gort based Garda; the reason an appeal for the same investigation has not made progress (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53354/12 asked on 28 Nov 2012 - Garda Investigations)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission is an independent body which was established under the Garda Síochána Act 2005 to receive complaints made by members of the public concerning the conduct of members of the Garda Síochána. Complaints fall to be examined in accordance with the provisions of the 2005 Act and any related protocols or agreements. 
The Ombudsman Commission is independent of the Minister for Justice and Equality in relation...

149. Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if the decision to cut bus routes is taken by the National Transport Authority, Bus Éireann or his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 49429/12 asked on 27 Nov 2012 - Bus Éireann Services)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): I refer the Deputy to my replies to his questions 705 of 23rd October and 1210 of 6th November 2012.
 ...

161. Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport in view of the fact that Bus Éireann is no longer adhering to it’s social charter and continues to cut bus routes in lower population areas, if he will consider selling it off; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 49428/12 asked on 27 Nov 2012 - Bus Éireann Services)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): The provision of bus services and the routes they take are operational matters for the company in conjunction with the National Transport Authority. Bus Éireann operate a mix of services.  Some of these services are commercial services (Expressway) in which they compete on the open market with private operators but do not receive a subsidy either directly or indirectly, while they also operate Public Service Obligation (PSO) servi...

541. Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if there are funds within his Department to make single farm payments; if he will confirm that he has had hundreds of calls to the disadvantaged payments section of his Department regarding the delay in payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 51380/12 asked on 20 Nov 2012 - Single Payment Scheme Payments)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): The two most significant Schemes operated by my Department, in terms of overall expenditure and the support offered to farmers, are the Single Payment Scheme and the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, which between them, will account for €1.45 billion in payments in 2012.
Mindful of the ongoing difficulties facing farmers, not least the prolonged period of very bad weather which severely restricted farming activity for a substantial ...

558. Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the reason abused men who deal with an organisation (details supplied) are forced to deal with women when the women’s refuge does not even let men near their building; her views on whether men with trust issues with women should have to endure this; her further views on whether the stigma attached to reporting is bad enough without this situation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 50960/12 asked on 20 Nov 2012 - Domestic Violence Incidence)

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): My Department has brought this matter to the attention of the HSE, which has an established relationship with the organisation in question, and asked that it provide the Deputy with the information requested as soon as possible.
 ...

260. Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Health the reason a person (details supplied) in County Galway has no allocated funding under the health care system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 50333/12 asked on 14 Nov 2012 - Health Services Provision)

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Kathleen Lynch): 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.
 ...

104. Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Social Protection the origins of the term headline rates of social welfare and the meaning of the term; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 50112/12 asked on 13 Nov 2012 - Social Welfare Payments)

(Deputy Joan Burton): I do not recall using the term “headline rates of social welfare,” but when I used the term “core social welfare payments” recently, I was referring to the primary weekly payments intended to enable those in receipt of them to meet their basic day-to-day income needs. The Department also makes a range of other payments on a weekly, monthly or less frequent basis. As a result of the fact that these are paid in addition to weekly income support payments, they are considered...

430. Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if it is realistic to expect the county enterprise boards to process the disbursement of grants to entrepreneurs in a time period of about six weeks or less, in view of the fact that the CEBs have to seek and access applications, approve applications at board level, potential clients have then to lodge three quotations for expenditure, secure bank finance, the CEBs have then to inspect purchases of equipment, draw the funds from his Department, and then send it on to successful clients, all to be completed by 15 December; if he will explain the reason that his Department has left it so late in the year to disburse funding to the CEBs when they were first asked for clarity of this funding in March and again in June; his further views on whether this is an efficient way to support organisations at the heart of job creation here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 47878/12 asked on 06 Nov 2012 - County Enterprise Boards Grants)

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Richard Bruton): Under the Exchequer Estimates Process, an annual Exchequer allocation is provided for the operation of the County and City Enterprise Boards (CEBs). In 2012, the CEBs received an Exchequer Capital Allocation of €15 million towards the provision of grants and soft supports, such as training, mentoring and advice services, to the micro-enterprise sector. This allocation is distributed among the CEBs once it is secured by my De...

775. Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons who have a criminal record for cannabis possession; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 47593/12 asked on 06 Nov 2012 - Criminal Prosecutions)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): I wish to advise the Deputy that I have had enquiries made with the relevant authorities concerning the availability of the information requested.
In this regard, I am advised by the Courts Service that data of the detail being sought is not readily available.
The collation of such information would require a disproportionate use of available resources. However, detailed information in respect of total drug offences, including possession o...

880. Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if farmers in special areas of conservation designated lands have any priority in accessing the agri-environmental options scheme; if so, the weighting that SAC status is given in assessing applicants; in view of the restrictions placed on farm activities in SAC designated lands and the high degree of investment that farmers had to make to comply with REP scheme criteria in the past, if he will consider giving a higher priority to those farmers who farm SAC lands; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 47860/12 asked on 06 Nov 2012 - Agri-Environment Options Scheme Conditions)

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): The priorities for selecting applications for AEOS 3 are set out in the Scheme Terms and Conditions. Privately Owned Natura land where applicants have a minimum of 0.5 hectares of utilisable agricultural area of either Special Protection Areas or Special Areas of Conservation are ranked first in order of priority. In the event that the number of applicants in this category exceeds the funding available priority will be given...

1210. Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the way we arrived at a situation where Bus Éireann no longer has to live up to a Public Service Requirement; the reason expressway bus routes were designated as commercial in the first instance and now that they are being abandoned on commercially criteria; what he will instruct Bus Éireann and the National Transport Authority to replace them with; if he is satisfied with the fact that CIE and Bus Éiereann no longer live up to their mandates as providers of transport to all parts of our country, densely populated and sparsely populated alike; his views on whether the reduction in services provided by Bus Éireann in particular contribute to the decline of life in rural communities and smaller towns; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 47869/12 asked on 06 Nov 2012 - Bus Services)

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Leo Varadkar): I refer the Deputy to my response to his question of 23rd October, a copy of which is reproduced below. The provision of bus services and the routes they take are operational matters for Bus Éireann in conjunction with the National Transport Authority (NTA).  I have referred the Deputy’s question to both for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a reply within 10 working days.
Dáil Question No: 705 To...

19. Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will consider postponing the closure of Lisbrook House, County Galway; if his attention has been drawn to the long term effects of closing this facility; his views on whether moving families to new locations will impact negatively on the education and development of children of asylum seekers, persons who in many cases have been uprooted and moved already; if he will consider closing the direct provision of accommodation and allow asylum seekers to acquire their own accommodation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 46306/12 asked on 24 Oct 2012 - Asylum Seeker Accommodation)

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): The Reception and Integration agency of the Department of Justice and Equality is responsible for the accommodation of asylum seekers in accordance with the Government policy of direct provision. RIA is required to review its accommodation portfolio on an ongoing basis to reflect current and projected demand for bed spaces. There has in recent years been a consistent downward trend in demand for RIA accommodation. This requires RIA to ei...

76. Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform what the savings to the Exchequer would be if all civil and public servants had their salaries capped at €80,000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 46647/12 asked on 24 Oct 2012 - Public Sector Staff Remuneration)

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Brendan Howlin): The estimated annual savings to the Exchequer arising from a cap of €80,000 on civil service and public service salaries is estimated at €500m. The estimate takes account of the reductions in pay arising from the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Act, 2009, but does not take account of any offsetting reductions in taxes and levies. As the combined effect of the estimated marginal tax rate and the pensio...

92. Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will review the case of a person (details supplied) in County Roscommon who has been refused the back to school clothing and footwear scheme allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 46629/12 asked on 24 Oct 2012 - Back to School Clothing and Footwear Allowance Scheme Eligibility)

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Joan Burton): An application was received from the customer concerned in the back to school clothing and footwear allowance section on the 14th of August 2012. The application was processed on the 24th of September 2012 and was disallowed as the person’s means exceed the income limit for their family size. A review of this decision was completed on the 22nd of October and the original decision was upheld. As no further evidence has been provided this dec...