Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Government Buildings Visits.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Chester Beatty Library.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - National Library Staffing.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Radio Interview by Taoiseach.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Constitutional Reform.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Commission on Status of Women Recommendations.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Cainteoirí Gaeilge.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Aran Islands Pier Development.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - White Collar Crime.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Marital Breakdown White Paper.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Alternatives to Custody.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Cost of Inquiries.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Confidential Telephone Line.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Legal Aid Scheme.
Adjournment Debate Matters.
Order of Business.
Patents Bill, 1991: Order for Second Stage.
Environmental Protection Agency Bill, 1990 [Seanad]: Second Stage.
Private Members' Business. - Education Bill, 1991: Second Stage.
Adjournment Debate. - Courts Staff Industrial Action.
Adjournment Debate. - Caravan Parking Controls.
Adjournment Debate. - Nicky Kelly Case.
Adjournment Debate. - Social Welfare Matter.
Written Answers. - Tallaght (Dublin) Drug Problem.
Written Answers. - Legislation on Serious Crime.
Written Answers. - County Louth Garda Strength.
Written Answers. - Company Liquidation.
Written Answers. - Galway Courthouse Refurbishment.
Written Answers. - Introduction of Legislation.
Written Answers. - Establishment of Committee.
Written Answers. - Law Re-Domestic Violence.
Written Answers. - Survey Findings.
Written Answers. - Firearms Statistics.
Written Answers. - Judicial Appeals Procedure.
Written Answers. - Judicial Fines Statistics.
Written Answers. - Garda Fraud Squad Investigations.
Written Answers. - Garda Síochána Appointments.
Written Answers. - Smithboro (Monaghan) Incident.
Written Answers. - Irish Citizenship Applications.
Written Answers. - Report on Land Registry.
Written Answers. - Introduction of Legislation.
Written Answers. - Garda Media Leak.
Written Answers. - Irish Language Requirement.
Written Answers. - Vandalism in Bolbrook (Dublin) Area.
Written Answers. - Sale of Garda House.
Written Answers. - South Dublin Crime.
Written Answers. - Jury Service Fees.
Written Answers. - Garda Superintendent Assignments.
Written Answers. - Rural Policing Plan.
Written Answers. - National Lottery Funding.
Written Answers. - Measures to Combat Crime.
Written Answers. - Prison Visiting Committees.
Written Answers. - Single European Act Objectives.
Written Answers. - Detention Places for Young Offenders.
Written Answers. - Garda Recruitment.
Written Answers. - Barring Order Statistics.
Written Answers. - Job-Sharing/Career Break Scheme.
Written Answers. - Temporary Release of Prisoner.
Written Answers. - Code of Conduct for State Companies.
Written Answers. - Community Policing Scheme.
Written Answers. - National Lottery Funding.
Written Answers. - Bóithre Áise i nDún na nGall.
Written Answers. - Deontais do Imeachtaí Ghaeltachta.
Written Answers. - South Tipperary Unemployment Figures.
Written Answers. - Bantry (County Cork) Pier.
Written Answers. - Dinish Island (Cork) Lift Facilities.
Written Answers. - Elimination of Racial Discrimination Convention.
Written Answers. - British Army Patrol Presence.
Written Answers. - VAT Rebate.
Written Answers. - National Debt Figures.
Written Answers. - Stamp Duty.
Written Answers. - Income Tax Liability.
Written Answers. - Rates Exemptions.
Written Answers. - Income Tax Statistics.
Written Answers. - DIRT Refunds.
Written Answers. - Dún Laoghaire Garda Station.
Written Answers. - Kilkenny Land Purchase.
Written Answers. - Grant Payments.
Written Answers. - Headage Payments.
Written Answers. - Grant Payments.
Written Answers. - TB Compensation Claim.
Written Answers. - Flock Number Application.
Written Answers. - Grant Payments.
Written Answers. - Insurance Intermediaries.
Written Answers. - Disadvantaged Area Status.
Written Answers. - Rathmichael Wood (Dublin).
Written Answers. - PRSI Exemption.
Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.
Written Answers. - Social Welfare Recipients.
Written Answers. - Prison Statistics.
Written Answers. - Protection for Garda Informers.
Written Answers. - Prison Staffing.
Written Answers. - Crime Increase.
Written Answers. - Road Traffic Acts Privileges.
Written Answers. - Serving of Summonses.
Written Answers. - Drogheda (Louth) Court Facilities.
Written Answers. - Drogheda (Louth) Garda Station.
Written Answers. - Judicial Appointments.
Written Answers. - Criminal Injuries Tribunal.
Written Answers. - Kildare Rural Policing.
Written Answers. - Firearm Certificates.
Written Answers. - Dublin Crime Statistics.
Written Answers. - Judicial Separation Figures.
Written Answers. - Malicious Damage Insurance Claims.
Written Answers. - Security of Prisoners.
Written Answers. - UN Convention on Racial Discrimination.
Written Answers. - Legal Aid Scheme.
Written Answers. - Small Claims Procedure.
Written Answers. - European Court of Human Rights Judgment.
Written Answers. - County Carlow Garda Strength.
Written Answers. - Marriage Separation Statistics.
Written Answers. - Courthouse Maintenance Expenditure Recoupment.
Written Answers. - Visa Requirement.
Written Answers. - Community Policing Scheme.
Written Answers. - Garda Duties.
Written Answers. - Public Service Vehicle Inspection.
Written Answers. - Commissioners of Charitable Donations and Bequests.
Written Answers. - Pawnbroker Licences.
Written Answers. - Citizenship Registration.
Written Answers. - Official IRA.
Written Answers. - Road Traffic Fines.
Written Answers. - Coolick (Kerry) Water Scheme.
Written Answers. - Tenant Purchase Scheme.
Written Answers. - Enniscorthy (Wexford) Drainage Scheme.
Written Answers. - Local Authority Schemes.
Written Answers. - Grants to Wexford County Council.
Written Answers. - Annabla-Toorenamult (Kerry) Water Scheme.
Written Answers. - Cork Building Refurbishment.
Written Answers. - Cork Flat Complex.
Written Answers. - Cork Refurbishment Contract.
Written Answers. - Ballybunion (Kerry) Sewerage Scheme.
Written Answers. - Brosna (Kerry) Water Scheme.
Written Answers. - Falcarragh (Donegal) Housing Scheme.
Written Answers. - County Kerry Water Scheme.
Written Answers. - House Grant.
Written Answers. - Equalisation of Road Funding.
Written Answers. - Grant and Mortgage Subsidy Payments.
Written Answers. - Citizens Information Centre Fundings.
Written Answers. - Disabled Person's Services.
Written Answers. - National Lottery Funding.
Written Answers. - Orthopaedic Services.
Written Answers. - Hip and Knee Replacement Operations.
Written Answers. - Domiciliary Care Allowance.
Written Answers. - Disabled Person's Maintenance Allowance.
Written Answers. - Wexford Hospital Appointments.
Written Answers. - Down's Syndrome Studies.
Written Answers. - Mental Handicap Services.
Written Answers. - Annual Reports of Mental Handicap Agencies.
Written Answers. - Report on Mental Handicap Facilities.
Written Answers. - Home Help Organiser Posts.
Written Answers. - South Tipperary Day Care Facilities.
Written Answers. - Medical Card Appeals Mechanism.
Written Answers. - County Donegal Building Project.
Written Answers. - Ophthalmic Services.
Written Answers. - Mental Handicap Services.
Written Answers. - National Lottery Funding.
Written Answers. - Surgery Waiting Lists.
Written Answers. - Mental Handicap Services.
Written Answers. - County Tipperary School Extension.
Written Answers. - Dunkineely (Donegal) National School, Extension.
Written Answers. - Disadvantaged Area Teacher Posts.
Written Answers. - Skerries (Dublin) National School.
Written Answers. - Scoil Lán-Ghaelach do Thamhlacht (Baile Átha Cliath).
Written Answers. - St. Killian's Senior National School, Tallaght.
Written Answers. - Tallaght (Dublin) National School.
Written Answers. - Tallaght (Dublin) Regional Technical College.
Written Answers. - Higher Education Grant Withdrawal.
Written Answers. - National School Remedial Teachers.
Written Answers. - County Cork Primary School.
Written Answers. - Galway New School.
Written Answers. - Mature Student Grants.
Written Answers. - Dublin School Repair.
Written Answers. - County Tipperary National School Extension.
Written Answers. - County Tipperary Post-Primary School Extension.
Written Answers. - Remedial Teaching Facilities.
Written Answers. - National Lottery Funding.
Written Answers. - County Tipperary School Extension.
Written Answers. - Clonmel (Tipperary) School.
Written Answers. - County Limerick Post-Primary Education Development.
Written Answers. - County Tipperary Schools Repairs.
Written Answers. - County Galway School Bus Service.
Written Answers. - Grants for Special Schools.
Written Answers. - Foynes (Limerick) Post-Primary Education.
Written Answers. - Laois School Heating System.
Written Answers. - CIE (Inchicore) Workshop.
 Chuaigh an Ceann Comhairle i gceannas ar 2.30 p.m.
Proinsias De Rossa: On a point of order, before Question Time starts will the Ceann Comhairle indicate the basis on which a question I put down to the Taoiseach was ruled out of order?
An Ceann Comhairle: You may not raise the matter now, Deputy.
Proinsias De Rossa: I am asking the Chair to explain how the question to the Taoiseach asking for an explanation as to the nature of the contracts between Dermot Desmond and the Department of the Taoiseach——
An Ceann Comhairle: The Ceann Comhairle's rulings on such matters may not be questioned. The Deputy is being disorderly. This is quite unprecedented.
Proinsias De Rossa: ——can be ruled out of order.
An Ceann Comhairle: There are surely other ways of raising the matter.
Proinsias De Rossa: The Taoiseach  referred to these matters in his speech last week.
An Ceann Comhairle: I am not obliged to answer you, Deputy. There are surely other ways of raising the matter. Deputy De Rossa will resume his seat.
Mr. McCartan: Beyond Question Time today where is our opportunity?
An Ceann Comhairle: Consult my office. They will be glad to assist you in the matter.
Mr. McCartan: It seems remarkable that the Taoiseach has no responsibility in these matters.
1. Mr. Spring asked the Taoiseach if he has decided on a procedure of opening Government Buildings to members of the public who wish to visit it as an important public building, and if he will make a statement on the matter.
2. Mr. Gilmore asked the Taoiseach if he has any plans to open the recently refurbished Government buildings to the public.
The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 and 2 together.
Since completion of the work on Government Buildings, a number of guided tours have been arranged, in response to requests from interested groups who made contact with my Department. For operational reasons, these tours have been conducted at weekends.
This procedure has proved satisfactory, and I propose to continue with the arrangement on the same basis.
Mr. Spring: I am glad that some effort has been made to make this extremely important building accessible to the public. The sum of £17 million has been spent on restoring it. Perhaps the Taoiseach would give more information on  how he intends to make the building more accessible?
The Taoiseach: It would be my wish to make it accessible on as wide a scale as possible. It is the people's building, paid for by taxpayers, and I should very much like them to have opportunities to see it as much as possible. Unfortunately. however, we are living at a difficult time and my very strong advice from the responsible security agencies is that anything like general access is just not feasible. I had thought of having access to the quadrangle at least, but I am very strongly advised against it.
Mr. Quinn: They cannot get a fire brigade into that.
The Taoiseach: The Garda, the Army and the Office of Public Works who have responsibility are adamant that we should not go any further in present circumstances.
Mr. Spring: I understand that the public have access to the White House. Guided tours are provided there and they have more security problems than we would have in Dublin. The idea of being allowed to visit the quadrangle is akin to being allowed to look at the State records but not to touch them. Can the Taoiseach indicate when it is likely that the sort of guided tours he has mentioned will take place? Are they continuing as of now or will they be on a more regular basis?
The Taoiseach: The guided tours are in operation at the moment. Groups apply.
Mr. McCartan: Perhaps the Taoiseach will explain the types of parties or groups who would be accommodated. Would  parties of school children and the like be accommodated?
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick East): Would The Workers' Party be allowed in?
Mr. McCartan: We are still awaiting an invitation.
The Taoiseach: Parties of school children are not contemplated at present. Groups of foreigners have visited Government Buildings, including a group from the Soviet Union. They came from the more respectable side of the Soviet Union. There was also a group from Norway. We have had groups from the north side, of course. A group from the construction industry also came who were interested to see the construction aspects.
3. Mr. McCartan asked the Taoiseach if he will outline in respect of the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin 4, the progress made to date in implementing the recommendations of the O'Donnell report; when the position of Director will be filled; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
4. Mr. McCartan asked the Taoiseach if his attention has been drawn to any reduction, whether by sale, exchange, loss or other means, in the holdings of the Chester Beatty Gallery of Oriental Art during the last six years; if he will confirm the integrity of all collections in the institution; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
5. Mr. McCartan asked the Taoiseach if he has yet received information from the trustees of the Chester Beatty Library regarding the circumstances of the break-in at the library at the end of June; if he can now give full details of the items stolen and their estimated value; if he will outline the steps which have been taken to improve security as a result of this break-in; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 3 to 5, inclusive, together.
As I indicated to the Deputy in reply to Dáil questions on 15 May and 13 November last, the proposals and recommendations set out in the consultant's report have been the subject of discussion between my Department and the trustees of the Chester Beatty Library for some time. That continues to be the case. I must reiterate that the trustees are the legal owners of the library and that its administration rests in their hands. I am satisfied that these discussions are facilitating the best interests of the library and members of the public wishing to use it.
The principal recommendations of the consultant's report relating to the organisational structure of the library, its staffing, funding and marketing have already been implemented. It is now expected that the position of director will be filled within the next few weeks.
A person has been charged and remanded by the District Court in connection with the alleged theft over the years 1983-1988 of certain materials from the library. That matter is still the subject of Garda inquiries and it is possible that further charges will be laid. Clearly, in these present circumstances, it would be entirely inappropriate and possibly prejudicial to the outcome of the pending court case to comment further on the matter.
Information concerning the break-in last June at the library has been communicated to my Department. I do not propose to give details of the value of the items stolen as that might well impede efforts to secure their return. For security reasons, I do not wish to divulge any of the changes made to security installations or practices as a result of the June break-in. I can, however, assure the House that the break-in is still the subject of a Garda investigation. The Garda have also recently carried out a major security review at the library in conjunction with  my Department and the Office of Public Works, which is empowered by statute to ensure the maintenance of the premises. The Office of Public Works are now in the process of carrying out certain security works there which were considered to be appropriate.
No reduction has taken place in the collection by way of sale or exchange.
Mr. McCartan: How many, if any, new trustees have been appointed to the board, in the light of the recommendations of Mr. O'Donnell who prepared the report? Has the Taoiseach made any representations with regard to those appointments? Have the recommendations contained in the O'Donnell report been implemented in regard to new appointees or to existing trustees?
The Taoiseach: I regret I am not quite sure whether it was two or three trustees who have been appointed. They were not appointed but were co-opted by the trustees. I was not aware they were being co-opted or appointed.
Mr. McCartan: Who are they?
The Taoiseach: I have not actually got the names. I know Dermot Desmond was one of them, if that is the information the Deputy is seeking. Certainly I want to assure the Deputy that they were co-opted by the trustees themselves without any reference to my Department. In fact, I and my Department were quite surprised because we envisaged that the occasion might have been used to co-opt people from my Department and from the Office of Public Works.
Mr. McCartan: That was the point I was coming to. Has the Taoiseach succeeded in implementing one of the strongest recommendations of Mr. O'Donnell's report of securing a nominee from his Department to the board of trustees? While it has been indicated here constantly that the legal owners are the trustees, would the Taoiseach agree that nonetheless his Department and the State have a major responsibility, being  the people to whom the gifts were originally made by Mr. Beatty and that we have a responsibility to see to the security and the integrity of the collection? In respect of that, has the Taoiseach given any consideration to the introduction of legislation to establish proper statutory control and responsibility for the library?
The Taoiseach: No, I have not given any consideration at this stage to introducing any statutory provisions. I think I can assure the Deputy at this stage that the situation is working towards a satisfactory solution. There will be a new director appointed soon and the House can be satisfied that the new director will be a person of top class professional qualifications.
Mr. McCartan: A nominee from your own Department?
The Taoiseach: Not exactly but there were discussions and a name was suggested by my Department. That has subsequently been agreed to and I am sure it will be a very satisfactory appointment. The other matters of concern, the security and other arrangmeents, will be satisfactorily resolved.
Mr. J. Bruton: Apart from the appointment of new trustees and a director, what other recommendations of the O'Donnell report remain to be implemented?
The Taoiseach: They are nearly all implemented by now or are in the course of being implemented. I could go through them for the Deputy but I think he can accept that that is the position.
Mr. J. Bruton: Perhaps the Taoiseach could circulate what he has there.
The Taoiseach: I have already circulated a summary of the recommendations.
Mr. Quinn: Would the Taoiseach not agree that, notwithstanding the contents  of some of his replies and the constraints imposed upon this House by virtue of the legal actions that have been initiated, the trusteeship of this treasure house has been very negligent over the last number of years; that Deputy McCartan myself and others have repeatedly asked questions in answer to which there were attempts to assure us that all was well in the Chester Beatty Library when the facts clearly show now that that is not the case? If the Taoiseach accepts that summary analysis, would he not agree that new legislation of a fundamental kind is needed and that perhaps the existing trustees might, in the privacy of the Taoiseach's own Department, be asked to consider stepping aside to allow a proper administration of this treasure house? I suspect that the full record available to the Taoiseach is an appalling one of lost treasures and that is not satisfactory. This is not the place for these matters to be adequately raised, but I would ask the Taoiseach to give full consideration to the points that have been raised and consider carefully the possibility of introducing root and branch legislation to deal with this matter once and for all.
The Taoiseach: First, I am sure the Deputy would agree that I have been cooperative to the House in this regard and have continually updated the information provided to the House, and that is in contrast to situations that applied before when it was regarded that the matter was entirely one for the trustees and that that was that. I have always taken the view that as the State is making available the entire resources it has a valid and genuine interest in the library. I would ask the Deputies to give the new arrangements a chance to work. I am reasonably confident that we are moving towards a very satisfactory situation, if we are not there already. The introduction of legislation would have pretty far-reaching implications. It may even have constitutional implications, as the Deputy knows.
Mr. Quinn: It will be necessary.
Mr. McCartan: In the new arrangements the Taoiseach speaks about, will  he not at least make representations, if not ensure, that the cataloguing of the entire collection would be set as a priority so that the trustees would know what is in the collection?
The Taoiseach: Yes, I certainly agree with that.
6. Mr. McCartan asked the Taoiseach if he will make a statement on the present funding and staffing of the National Library, with specific reference to the desirability, of restoring public access to all the collections therein from 10.00 a.m. to 9.00 p.m. five days per week and on Saturday morning; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The Taoiseach: The National Library has a staff complement of 57.
The library is funded by my Department from various sub-heads and also from moneys allocated to my Department from the national lottery. The level of Exchequer funding for the library in 1991 is £1,388,000 and this money is used to pay the running costs of the library including £220,000 for the purchase of books and manuscripts and for conservation.
In addition, the Office of Public Works are currently undertaking major construction works in the National Library and it is estimated that over £400,000 will be spent by them during 1991.
The library is open six days a week, including three late-night openings and Saturday morning. It is not intended to extend the opening hours of the library from their present level in the foreseeable future because of the considerable extra cost involved. I am satisfied that, within the level of resources available at this time of constraint on the public finances, the National Library is providing an excellent service to the public. The present opening hours were arrived at following a survey of the requirements of the library's readers over a period of months and are considered to be the most  equitable arrangements possible under present conditions of financial restraint.
Mr. McCartan: I thank the Taoiseach for his reply. While I accept the proposition that what currently pertains may be the most equitable, would he agree that given the national importance of the library to research and other scholarly work, it certainly is not most desirable? Will the Taoiseach at least declare as an objective, at the earliest possible opportunity, that they should be open for the longest possible hours during the week to facilitate particularly those involved in research who are otherwise gainfully employed?
The Taoiseach: There are two things. One is the financial constraints. If we did not have those we would try to keep the library open for much longer periods. In addition there is the need for staff to attend to other duties which they cannot do when the library is open.
Mr. J. Bruton: I understand the Taoiseach to suggest that there is a fixed sum of £220,000 which is used for the purchase of new books and also for conservation. Would the Taoiseach not consider that there should be a separate allocation for conservation apart from that for purchase in view of the fact that these are two entirely separate functions and that the need for conservation could be quite substantial in a particular year thereby entirely preventing any purchase in that year? Would it not be better to have two separate subheads rather than a single one?
The Taoiseach: Our duty is to provide the money and it is up to the very competent library authorities to decide what way they want to allocate it. I would remind the Deputy that in my reply I mentioned that we were spending £400,000 this year through the Office of Public Works on construction works. I would hope that soon we will be able to get away from that as all the necessary reconstruction work will have been carried  out. Then we might be able to look at the situation again.
Mr. McCartan: May I ask the Taoiseach to indicate how soon he envisages the library will be in a position to extend its hours to faciliate those people whom I believe are being very severely disadvantaged at present by the restricted hours?
The Taoiseach: I could not agree that anybody is being severely disadvantaged. That is not my information, and that is not what the survey disclosed. I could not say when it is likely the situation can be improved.
7. Mr. Sherlock asked the Taoiseach if, in regard to the interview he gave to RTE radio on 22 September, 1991 he will outline the reason he did not request the chairman of Greencore plc to step aside, when he made such a request in respect of the then Chairman of Telecom Éireann, and the Chairman of the Custom House Docks Development Authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
8. Mr. Spring asked the Taoiseach the reason he did not suggest that the chairman of Greencore and Aer Rianta should step aside pending ongoing investigations in which they were involved in his interview on RTE radio on 22 September, 1991; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
9. Mr. Spring asked the Taoiseach the reasons he did not consult the then chairman of Telecom Éireann or the then chairman of the Custom House Docks Development Authority before asking them, in the course of a radio interview of 22 September 1991, to step aside; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 7, 8 and 9 together.
As I stated in my interview on 22 September 1991, I believed it was prudent in  the circumstances without any reflection on the integrity or the great record of public service of the individuals concerned for the chairman of Bord Telecom and the chairman of the Custom House Docks Authority to step aside, until investigations into the purchase of a headquarters by Telecom Éireann were complete. It was very important in the national interest that Telecom Éireann and the International Financial Services Centre should not be distracted from their vital work or have it adversely affected by public controversy focused on particular individuals. I continue to believe that that was the right and appropriate course of action in the circumstances. In the type of an atmosphere that has prevailed in recent weeks any prior meeting or discussion could have been open to misinterpretation.
The chairman of Greencore was in a difficult position. He is a chairman of a public company in the private sector, and the Government do not have a right as Government to give directions to the board of a private company. The role of the chairman of Aer Rianta was not an issue at that time.
Mr. Sherlock: Will the Taoiseach agree that at a time when Mr. Cahill was chairman of Siúicre Éireann Teoranta, appointed by him and his Government, and the Government were telling that company every other day to rationalise and cut back on expenditure, it was wrong for a State company to lend £1 million to one of their top executives, via Gladebrooke, to buy a 49 per cent interest in a company, Sugar Distributors, when the company over which Mr. Cahill presided already owned a 51 per cent stake in that company? One year later——
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy is extending the question out of all proportion.
Mr. Sherlock: ——they bought it back, handing them a profit of £7 million from that deal. Would the Taoiseach agree  that Mr. Cahill's stewardship of the company is in question and that he should ask him to resign?
The Taoiseach: First, I have to take issue with the Deputy on the rather tendentious suggestion that Mr. Cahill was appointed by me. The Deputy should have used the word “reappointed”. He should also indicate that he was reappointed by the Government——
Mr. McCartan: He did so.
The Taoiseach: ——by the Ministers concerned, subject to the overall approval of the Government. Mr. Cahill was first appointed by a previous Government. Apart from that, the Deputy should, in fairness, await the outcome of the many investigations which are under way at present. As the Deputy knows, the Government have appointed inspectors to look into the whole situation with regard to the matters he has mentioned and which have been the subject of a great deal of public comment. There is another type of inspector looking into the proprietorship and beneficial ownership of all the subsidiary companies. In addition Greencore, as a company, have asked Arthur Andersen to provide a report. It would be better in this House if we waited to have all that information available to us before apportioning blame.
Mr. Spring: May I put it to the Taoiseach that there is a grave inconsistency between his treatment of Mr. Smurfit of Telecom, Mr. Páircéir of the Custom House Docks, and the tolerance shown to Mr. Cahill and Mr. Desmond in their chairmanships at that time? May I further put it to the Taoiseach that he had meetings with the chairman of Greencore at which he suggested that NCB stockbrokers and Mr. John S. O'Connor and Company, Solicitors, should be appointed for the privatisation of Greencore and that as a consequence of that meeting he is in no position to take any  action in relation to Mr. Cahill's position?
The Taoiseach: I reject that with contempt. That is totally untrue and it does the Deputy no credit to make this sort of unfounded allegations.
Mr. Spring: The Taoiseach had no meetings?
The Taoiseach: I had no meetings. I suggest to the Deputy on that score that he too await the outcome of the present investigations when he will find that he will owe me an apology.
Mr. Sherlock: The Taoiseach in his reply said that Mr. Cahill was in a different position in so far as he is chairman of a private company, Greencore. In view of the fact that Mr. Cahill presided over the agreement to pay £1.5 million to Mr. Comerford — which the Taoiseach said was inexplicable and which is frozen at present — would the Taoiseach agree that this again brings into question the stewardship of Mr. Cahill as chairman of Greencore? In the interests of consistency he should ask Mr. Cahill, as he did the chairman of Telecom Éireann and the chairman of the Custom House Docks Authority, to step aside.
An Ceann Comhairle: I have allowed the Deputy much latitude but he is clearly bringing in extraneous matters.
Mr. McCartan: It is directly related to the matter.
The Taoiseach: As I said before, these matters are now best left to the thorough and complete investigations into every detail which are now in progress. When we get the results of those investigations we can all take our decisions. So far as I am concerned there is no Government or ministerial involvement of any kind in these matters and the Government await eagerly the outcome of these investigations so that their position and the  position of individual Ministers can be totally vindicated.
With regard to the compensation reported to be paid to certain executives by Greencore, and which is now frozen, the Deputy will be aware that the Minister for Finance, as a shareholder, has requisitioned the holding of an EGM at which an explanation of that matter will be called for. The public will then be in a position to decide on that matter.
An Ceann Comhairle: A final question, from Deputy Spring. I have dwelt rather long on these questions.
Mr. Spring: With respect to you, Sir, I have two questions on the Order Paper and I have asked only one supplementary. In regard to the holding of an EGM by Greencore, may I ask the Taoiseach whether the Minister for Finance will instruct his representatives at that meeting to vote confidence in the board of Greencore? Secondly, may I ask the Taoiseach why he transferred a question I put down before the Dáil reassembled in relation to any meetings he had had with the chairman of Greencore?
The Taoiseach: It is a matter for decision what attitude the Minister for Finance will adopt at the EGM when it takes place and what the disclosures are. With regard to the transferring of questions, all questions are transferred in accordance with normal procedures in this House. I have no hesitation in giving the Deputy a categoric assurance that no meeting with the chairman of Greencore took place.
10. Proinsias De Rossa asked the Taoiseach if he will outline any proposals the Government are considering for reform of the Constitution; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The Taoiseach: There are no proposals at present to amend the Constitution.
Proinsias De Rossa: I am sure the Taoiseach will be aware that a number of issues in our Constitution require to be addressed. Public opinion polls have indicated widespread support for amendment of Articles 2 and 3. There has been discussion in recent weeks about the possibility of our electoral system being changed by the parties in Government. However, I notice that this was not included in the revised programme for Government. May I ask the Taoiseach what his attitude is to that issue? There is a proposal in the Government review for a discussion document on divorce. I take it that will eventually require a constitutional amendment. May I ask the Taoiseach if he has a timetable in mind in regard to that matter? Another issue which was raised in the last year or two was that of nominations for Presidential elections. Clearly there was public support for a change in that particular process. Can the Taoiseach say whether any of those issues are being considered by the Government?
The Taoiseach: The Deputy can, of course, bring forward a shopping list of constitutional changes but the answer I have given him stands: that is, that there are no proposals at present to amend the Constitution. The only matter on the immediate horizon is that it is possible, as a result of changes in the treaties of the European Community, that a referendum may be required here.
Proinsias De Rossa: In view of the anomalies — at least I would call them anomalies — that have arisen in relation to the so called pro-life amendment to our Constitution, whereby it is now illegal to distribute or to offer information on abortion facilities outside the country, would the Taoiseach not consider that that aspect of our Constitution requires  review? May I ask him, therefore, in view of all the issues I have raised and, indeed, the very serious question he has referred to himself — the matter of the amendment of our Constitution arising from whatever agreements are made on political and monetary union — if he would establish a committee of the House or a joint committee to review our Constitution and to bring forward propsals for amendment?
The Taoiseach: I have already given the answer.
Mr. J. Bruton: May I ask the Taoiseach if the Government have examined closely the outcome of the Crotty case in regard to the Single European Act to determine whether some of our existing international obligations, such as those conferred on us by UN membership, require constitutional validation? Second, may I ask the Taoiseach what will determine, in the agreement at Maastricht, if there is agreement, whether a referendum will be required here? I notice that the Taoiseach used the words “may be” rather than will be required. Would the Taoiseach not agree that most people assume there will be a referendum? In what circumstances would a referendum not be necessary arising from Maastricht?
The Taoiseach: I agree that most people assume that the probability is that a referendum will be required. As of now we have no guarantee that Maasricht will succeed in bringing forward any final package of amendments to the existing treaties. In the event that there is such a package it may well be that whatever is proposed could come within the ambit of our existing legislation in regard to Community affairs, though I think that is unlikely. Regarding the other issue raised by the Deputy the examination of particular issues like that is being undertaken.
Mr. J. Bruton: In view of the fact that there is a risk, so long as that question  mark hangs over our international agreements, that there could be a constitutional challenge to actions we might take in pursuance of international agreements, would the Taoiseach not agree that it should be a matter of some urgency to bring to a conclusion the examination as to whether we need a referendum to validate our existing international agreements? Can the Taoiseach give any indication as to when the examination, to which he referred, is likely to be concluded?
The Taoiseach: It will be concluded as quickly as possible but my own constitutional opinion, for what it is worth, is that there is no need to make any amendment.
An Ceann Comhairle: I am calling Deputy McCartan for a final brief question.
Mr. McCartan: I exhort the Taoiseach not to hold such an indifferent attitude to the Constitution. It does need constant review and there should be proposals before Government currently. May I specifically ask the Taoiseach how he proposes to progress the proposal contained in the just-published Joint Programme for Government which indicates that ground rents will be abolished by the Government by 1997 given that up to now he and his Government have constantly argued that ground rents could not be dealt with because of constitutional difficulties? What will be done vis-à-vis that proposal if the Constitution is not being subjected to review as has been suggested in the question?
The Taoiseach: The Deputy will have to await our proposals.
Deputy De Rossa rose.
An Ceann Comhairle: I want to get on to other questions. A brief question, Deputy.
Proinsias De Rossa: May I ask the Taoiseach if he will establish an Oireachtas  committee to review the Constitution? A similar type committee was established in 1967 under a Fianna Fáil Government. However, the proposals brought forward then were not acted on. Given that the Constitution is now more than 50 years in place and that we are moving towards a new millennium would it not be important to have a review of the Constitution?
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy has already put that question.
Proinsias De Rossa: Can the Taoiseach indicate if he will consider that proposal?
The Taoiseach: I have indicated that the only constitutional matter on the horizon at the moment is the possibility or probability of some changes in the European treaties which would require a referendum.
11. Mrs. Fennell asked the Taoiseach if he will outline the way in which the Government implemented the seven recommendations contained in the first statement to Government of the Second Commission on the Status of Women of April, 1991; and when the full report of the Commission will be available.
The Taoiseach: I received the First Statement of the Commission on the Status of Women on 25 April 1991. At that time, I was pleased to be in a position to indicate that the seven recommendations which were contained in the statement were in principle acceptable to the Government.
Immediately after receipt of this statement — on 30 April 1991 — I wrote to all Ministers bringing the Commission's recommendations to their attention and asking them to have regard, in their relevant areas of responsibilities, to the commitments made to the Commission. The Deputy can be assured that the practical effects of implementation of the  seven recommendations will become apparent over time.
The full report of the Commission is expected to be submitted to the Government by June, 1992.
Mrs. Fennell: I thank the Taoiseach for his reply though it is very disappointing. Would he not regard the delay in implementing these recommendations as foot-dragging to the extreme, in view of the fact that the first phase of the Commission's report was brought forward specifically because the issues recommended were regarded as important and because the chairperson of the Commission, Judge Mella Carroll, said they would not incur any expense on the Exchequer? I would specifically like to ask the Taoiseach what is being done? We have had seven recommendations since April, one as simple as the seventh which involves appointing a fifth person to the Top Level Appointments Commission, a move that was strongly recommended and which would not require earth shattering work. Why has nothing been done on that recommendation? Can the Taoiseach give us an assurance that there will be a time limit on the implementation of the seven very simple recommendations?
The Taoiseach: I think the Deputy is completely misrepresenting the position. The first recommendation deals with ownership of the family home. We are ready to proceed immediately with that, but, unfortunately there is a Supreme Court case which will impinge on the legislation so we have to await the decision in that regard. The second recommendation relates to a memoranda for Government. That is being implemented. The third recommendation relates to appointments to State boards. Very considerable progress is being made in that respect. The fourth recommendation deals with lottery and other funds. The information received from the various Departments suggests that this recommendation is being implemented. The fifth recommendaton deals with the Top Level Appointments  Commission. There are some problems in that regard — we hope to overcome those very shortly — in so far as, regrettably, there is no woman Secretary of a Department. That is an impediment in that context. The sixth recommendation deals with age limits for recruitment to the public service and that has been implemented already. Likewise, the seventh recommendation, which deals with sexism in primary education, has been implemented.
Mrs. Fennell: May I refer to two important points which I mentioned originally. In relation to the joint beneficial interest or rights of both spouses to the family home, may I ask the Taoiseach, in the light of the fact that the reserved judgment of the Supreme Court dates back to 3 October 1988, more than three years ago — if there is any way the Government can indicate the need for this judgment to be brought forward? How long can legislation be delayed? Is the Taoiseach saying that legislation is ready to be brought forward or will it have to wait for the White Paper on marriage breakdown? I would like greater clarification on the legislation. With regard to the Taoiseach's response about the Top Level Appointments Commission, was it not the case that the Commission recommended that an expert woman in a particular area should be brought in where necessary to fulfil the Government policy of having all interview boards integrated, male and female?
The Taoiseach: The Government do not have any jurisdiction over the Supreme Court or any responsibility for its affairs. As I have said already, the legislation can be proceeded with immediately when that decision is made available. With regard to the question of the Top Level Appointments Commission, I am aware of the situation there and I hope to have a solution very shortly.
12. D'fhiafraigh Mr. Browne (Carlow-Kilkenny) den Taoiseach cé mhéad clann atá fágtha sa Ghaeltacht ina bhfuil an Ghaeilge mar ghnáth-theanga an teaghlaigh agus cé mhéad clann sa Ghalltacht ina bhfuil an Ghaeilge mar ghnáth-theanga an teaghlaigh.
Aire Stáit ag Roinn na Gaeltachta (Mr. Gallagher): Níl an t-eolas a iarrtar sa Cheist ar fáil.
Cuirtear ceist sa Daonáireamh maidir le cumas labhartha na Gaeilge agus de réir torthaí Dhaonáireamh na bliana 1986 bhí 400,638 dteaghlach sa tír le cainteoir/cainteoirí Gaeilge. Ní chuirtear sonraí ar leith ar fáil faoi líon na dteaghlach sa Ghaeltacht.
Mr. Browne: (Carlow-Kilkenny): An bhfuil an t-eolas ag an Aire Stáit faoin méid teaghlach atá ag fáil deontas toisc go bhfuil Gaeilge mar ghnáththeanga sa teach acu?
Mr. Gallagher: Sa scoil bhliain 1989-90, faoi scéim deontais labhairt na Gaeilge atá á reachtáil ag an Roinn thuill 2,492 theaghlach an deontas i leith dalta nó daltaí i mbunscoileanna; 159 teaglach i leith dalta nó daltaí in iar-bhunascoileanna, agus 49 teaghlach i leith dalta nó daltaí a bhí ag gabháil d'oideachas ag an tríú leibhéal.
Mr. Browne: (Carlow-Kilkenny): An gceapann an tAire Stáit go bhfuil laghdú nó méadú — glacaim go bhfuil an imirce agus an dífhostaíocht ag cur isteach air — ag teacht ar labhairt na Gaeilge sa Ghaeltacht faoi láthair?
Mr. Gallagher: Tá sé iontach deacair tuairim a thabhairt air sin, ach de réir torthaí Daonáireamh na bliana 1986 bhí 58,451 daoine sa Ghaeltacht, is é sin 74 faoin gcéad de dhaonra na Gaeltachta, gur cainteoirí Gaeilge iad. Ach tá sé fíordheacair an cineál sin eolais a fháil os rud é go bhfuilimid ag brath ar féin-mheasúnacht na ndaoine. Mar sin féin taimid ag teangmháil leis an bpríomh-oifig Staidrimh faoi láthair chun a aimsiú an féidir an cineál sin eolais a fháil as seo amach.
13. Mr. McCormack asked the Taoiseach when work will commence on the development of piers on the Inis Oírr and Inis Meáin Aran Islands in County Galway.
83. D'fhiafraigh Mr. M. Higgins den Taoiseach an bhfuil sé ar intinn ag an Rialtas na geallúintí i leith fheabhsú céibheanna in Inis Oírr agus Inis Meáin a chomhlíonadh.
Mr. Gallagher: Tógfaidh mé Ceisteanna 13 agus 83 le chéile.
Nuair a d'fhógair an Rialtas go rabhthas chun cúnamh a chur ar fáil le haghaidh seirbhís farantóireachta nua chuig na hOileáin Árann, aithníodh go gcaithfí oibreacha feabhsúcháin a dhéanamh ar na muiroibreacha ar Inis Meáin agus ar Inis Oírr chun freastal iomlán a dhéanamh ar an tseirbhís sin. Bunaíodh Coiste Idir-Rannúil chun ceist na muiroibreacha a mheas agus ba léir, tar éis réamh-fhiosruithe a dhéanamh, go mba ghá comhairleoirí a fhostú chun tuarascáil gus moltaí cuimsitheacha a sholáthar maidir leis na hoibreacha riachtanacha.
Chun na moltaí sin a ullmhú ba ghá do na comhairleoirí roinnt mhaith oibre thástála a dhéanamh ar na láithreacha — obair nach bhféadfaí a dhéanamh ach le linn dea-aimsire. Faoin am sin — is é sin mí Iúil na bliana seo — ba léir nach mbeadh dóthain ama acu chun a gcuid oibre ar na láithreacha a chríochnú roimh an gheimhridh seo agus, fiú dá dtosnódh siad i mbliana, go mbeadh orthu éirí as an obair agus teacht ar ais arís in earrach 1992 chun í a chríochnú. Dá bhrí sin socraíodh gan tosú ar obair na gcomhairleoirí go dtí earrach na bliana 1992. Nuair a bheidh a gcuid oibre críochnaithe ar na láithreacha beidh orthu tuilleadh taighde a dhéanamh sula mbeidh ar a gcumas pleananna agus moltaí a réiteach. Go dtí go bhfaighfear na moltaí sin ní bheidh ar ár gcumas cinneadh críochnaitheach a dhéanamh faoi na hoibreacha atá de dhíth.
Comhairlítear dom nach bhféadfaí tabhairt faoin obair thógála ar na hoileáin  ach le linn dea-aimsire, abair idir Aibreán agus Meán Fómhair bliain ar bith, agus go meastar go dtógfaidh sé dhá bhliain, ag obair ó Aibreán go Meán Fómhair, chun an obair uile a dhéanamh.
Ba mhaith liom go dtuigfí nach bhfuil moill curtha ar chur i gcrích na n-oibreacha de bharr ceapadh na gcomhairleoirí a bheith curtha siar go dtí an bhliain seo chugainn. Fiú dá gceapfaí i mbliana iad bheadh cuid den tástáil fós le déanamh i 1992 agus ní bheadh pleananna agus ar uile ar fáil uathu in am chun tús a chur leis an obair thógála in 1992. 1993 an t-am is luaithe go bhféadfaí ar na hoibreacha féin, cuma an gceapfaí na comhairleoirí i lár na bliana seo nó ag tús na bliana seo chugainn.
Ní miste a rá, freisin, gur cuireadh in iúl do chomhaltaí an Choiste Idir-Rannúil, le linn dóibh bheith ar Inis Meáin agus ar Inis Oírr, go gcabhródh sé go mór leis an tseirbhís farantóireachta sa ghearr-thréimhse dá mbeadh airgead ar fáil chun roinnt oibreacha idir-ama a dhéanamh ar an dá oileán gus tá áthas orm a rá gur cheadaigh mé £79,000 chun na críche sin níos luaithe i mbliana chun a chumasú do na comharchumainn ar an dá oileán na hoibreacha i gceist a dhéanamh.
Mr. McCormack: I thank the Minister of State for his very long reply but I am disappointed that the Taoiseach did not take my question, that he has left the Chamber despite the fact that the question was directed to the Taoiseach. I am aware of the Taoiseach's love for islands and of his desire to have better services on islands, like electric generators and things like that, but I regret that the Taoiseach did not wait in the Chamber to answer this very serious question about the provision of piers on Inis Meáin and Inis Oírr. While I thank the Minister of State for his long reply it does not bring this reality any nearer. Is the Minister of State aware that this year the Government announced that £2.5 million was to be spent on the provision of piers in Inis Oírr and Inis Meáin? The Taoiseach's friend, the Minister for Energy, took great pleasure in announcing that  throughout Galway. Why are we now being told that it will be 1993 before this essential service for the fishermen, and indeed to service a ferry service to the Aran Islands, will be provided? As the Minister of State is no doubt aware, O'Brien Shipping have got the contract for the provision of ferry services from Galway to the Aran Islands and they are building a £3 million ferry for that purpose, and now no piers are being provided to meet that.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy has made his point.
Mr. McCormack: Seeing that the Taoiseach could not answer, could the Minister of State say when the piers will be provided? I do not want to hear about surveys which have not yet commenced. When will we get the piers in Inis Meáin and Inis Oírr as announced before the local elections as if they would be built this year?
Mr. P. Gallagher: Caithfidh an Teachta bheith réadúil faoin cheist seo. Ní mór dó a thuiscint go bhfuil gá le suirbhéanna.
Mr. McCormack: Níl mé sásta ar chor ar bith leis an bhfreagra sin.
An Ceann Comhairle: An cheist deireanach, a Theachta.
Mr. McCormack: Why have the surveys not started? When will the work start?
Mr. P. Gallagher: Brathann sé ar thoradh na suirbhéanna agus an taighde atá le déanamh. Bheadh sé an-eascaí a rá nárbh fhéidir pingin rua a chaitheamh ar an obair seo go dtí go mbeadh na torthaí sin againn, ach anuraidh — agus teaspáineann seo dáiríreacht — chuireamar £79,000 ar fáil chun tús a chur leis an obair riachtanach seo.
An Ceann Comhairle: Question No. 14 to the Minister for Justice.
An Ceann Comhairle: Please Deputy McCormack, allow Question Time to proceed in an orderly fashion. Deputy McCormack, desist. We are now embarking upon questions nominated for priority for which 15 minutes only is provided for under Standing Orders of this House.
14. Mr. S. Barrett asked the Minister for Justice if he will outline the reason (1) for the delay in dealing with the increasing level of white collar crime and (2) increased powers and adequate resources have not been given to the Fraud Squad; if he intends transferring this responsibility to the Office of the Attorney General; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): I do not accept that there has been any delay on the part of the Garda authorities in tackling so-called white collar crime. I am determined to ensure that all appropriate measures are in place to combat serious financial fruad and I have taken a number of steps to enhance the State's capacity to deal with such offences.
At my instigation, the Garda authorities initiated a wide-ranging review of the operations of the Fraud Squad last May with the intention of ensuring that the squad is fully equipped to deal effectively and expeditiously with all cases of fraud which come to its attention. As I indicated last Wednesday in my contribution to the Dáil motion of confidence in the Government, the report on the review of the Fraud Squad is now to hand and its recommendations will be given effect. These recommendations include, restructuring the squad to allow for the establishment of special teams to handle serious and complex cases of fraud, significantly increasing the strength of the squad, improvements in training of the members of the force attached to it, and strengthening the links between the squad and external professional bodies  such as the professional accountancy bodies.
I have also been active in bringing forward new legislative proposals which are highly relevant in this regard. The Criminal Evidence Bill, which will provide for the admissibility in evidence of business and administrative documents, including computerised records, will be published in the next few weeks. Moreover the Law Reform Commission are putting the finishing touches to their examination of the law relating to dishonesty in general. The commission's examination of this area of the law includes consideration of offences of larceny, false pretences, fraudulent conversion, false accounting, offences relating to computers, conspiracy to defraud, forgery, counterfeiting and related matters. The Government's intention is to introduce whatever legislative changes are necessary to modernise the criminal law in this area and to make it as effective as possible.
As indicated in the Taoiseach's reply to Questions Nos. 23 and 24 on Wednesday, 16 October last, the Government will look at all of the options for dealing with serious financial fraud including the establishment of a serious fraud office under the Office of the Attorney General.
Mr. S. Barrett: Is the Minister aware that the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors took umbrage at the remarks by the Taoiseach and regarded his remarks as a vote of no confidence in the Garda Fraud Squad in so far as the Taoiseach said he was considering transferring responsibility for these matters to the Office of the Attorney General. Would the Minister please explain to me, if he intends giving additional powers to the Garda Fraud Squad, including I hope, appointing trained accountants to help them in the complex work, why he is considering setting up a serious Fraud Squad under the aegis of the Attorney General?
Mr. Burke: First, in relation to the  availability of accountants, one of the matters which came up in the review, carried out by the Commissioner at my request, of the operations of the Fraud Squad was the question of a link and the establishment of a panel of accountants from which the Garda could draw expertise in the investigation of complex cases. That is already underway. So far as the question of a serious fraud office is concerned, and the effect this would have on the morale and confidence of the force, I can say that no issue of Garda morale or confidence arises. One of the specific elements of the new strategy being carried out is the enhancement of the capacity of the Garda Fraud Squad. The inclusion of a separate serious fraud office operating under the aegis of the Garda Síochána is obviously one option which could be looked at also. That was the suggestion made by the AGSI. It would of course be necessary to consult the Garda authorities on any such proposal but nothing is ruled out, nothing is ruled in. I am carrying out an examination of this on behalf of the Government at the moment and the decisions in relation to it will be announced at a later stage.
An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Barrett.
Mr. S. Barrett: I have only got 15 minutes.
An Ceann Comhairle: I am grateful to the Deputy for his conscientious approach to the matter. Question No. 15.
Mr. S. Barrett: There are other questions I want to get to.
15. Mr. S. Barrett asked the Minister for Justice when he intends to publish the White Paper on marital breakdown; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Mr. Burke: A comprehensive interdepartmental review of developments in the area of marital breakdown is nearing completion. The outcome of that review  will be reflected in a White Paper which will be published shortly by the Government.
Mr. S. Barrett: Is the Minister aware that those who are keenly interested in the production of a White Paper on marital breakdown are puzzled by the long delay in publication? Will the Minister agree that a substantial amount of work was done by the Oireachtas committee on this topic and the long delay in publication of this White Paper is unjustified? Is the Minister considering the area of family support in addition to providing divorce here?
Mr. Burke: I do not accept there has been a long delay. This is a very complex area and I was greatly helped by the work which had been done by the Oireachtas committee. I can assure the House that an enormous amount of work has already been completed. For the information of the House the stage which we are at essentially involves drawing all the various strands together and ensuring the White Paper represents a considered, balanced and comprehensive approach to the myriad of complex issues with which it deals. I fully acknowledge the benefit I have gained from the work done by the Oireachtas committee. I am not in a position to give a precise publication date just yet, but I am hopeful that the further time that we need to finalise the contents of the White Paper will not amount to any more than a matter of a few weeks.
16. Mr. S. Barrett asked the Minister for Justice if he will outline his plans to introduce additional schemes as alternatives to custody; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the present prison policy is a cause of great concern; whether there are 7,000 prisoners going through 2,000 prison places annually; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Mr. Burke: A prison system which successfully contains in custody some 2,200  prisoners at any one time, and copes with an annual throughput of 7,400 prisoners, cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be described as a failure. It is an insult to the dedication, professionalism and commitment of prison management and staff, and all the specialist services working in the prisons, to suggest that it is.
The prison system plays a vital role in protecting the community against the depredations of certain criminal elements in our society. I have long since acknowledged however, that the long term public interest is best served when prisons are used only as a last resort and when a range of effective alternatives are employed. The Deputy must be aware that there are already many alternatives to custody which are being extensively used and that the search for even more is ongoing.
Alternatives to custody and non custodial measures come in two broad categories, unsupervised and supervised. The unsupervised category includes fines, compensation and suspended sentences. The supervised category includes probation orders, community service orders and deferment of sentence. At the present time there are over 3,200 offenders serving community based sanctions under the supervision of the probation and welfare service. That is about one-and-a-half times the number of persons who are in prison. Of these about 750 are on community service orders. These figures compare with a total of about 2,250 on supervised alternatives to custody around the time the Whitaker Committee reported of whom about 250 would have been on community service orders. I mention that comparison because sometimes one would get the impression from comments that are made publicly that little or nothing has been done about the Whitaker Committee's recommendation that increased use should be made of alternatives to custody. That is manifestly not the case, as is clear from the figures I have just cited. That is not to say that there is no scope for further use of alternatives to custody.
I have already announced a scheme for intensive supervision in the community.  It involves the expansion of the probation and welfare service by 31 extra staff to provide special supervision for about 200 additional offenders. Already four senior probation and welfare officers and seven welfare officers have been appointed. The recruitment of the balance is well underway. Two centres will be provided for this scheme in Dublin and Cork at which offenders on supervision orders from the courts or on supervised temporary release from custody will be required to attend as an integral part of their supervision programme. Selection for special supervision will be made taking account of such factors as the nature of the offence, previous convictions and periods in custody, patterns of offending behaviour, social background and home circumstances. Selection at the sentencing stage will be made from those found guilty of criminal offences on the basis of a comprehensive pre-sentence report by the probation and welfare service, while those already in custody will be selected through the normal screening processes operated in prisons and places of detentions and will then be permitted temporary release under the Criminal Justice Act, 1960.
I am also at present examining whether there is any further scope, through more positive sentence management, to allow more offenders in custody to serve a greater portion of their sentences in the community under supervision.
Mr. S. Barrett: I did not criticise those administering the prison service, I referred to present prison policy which is the responsibility of the Minister. Will the Minister agree that part and parcel of our major problem is the fact that the courts are operating totally outdated laws and that there is an urgent need to set up a criminal law reform commission to update our laws? Will he also agree that the taxpayers are being asked to spend £75 million annually on a prison service which is seen in the eyes of most reasonable people to be a total and absolute failure because — I am sure the Minister  will correct me if I am wrong — a considerable percentage of those who go to prison reoffend when they come out and find themselves back in prison? I am concentrating here on the question of policy. Will the Minister agree that the present policy is failing? It is obvious from the crime figures produced recently that crime continues to pay; £36 million worth of goods was stolen in 1990 and only £3 million worth of goods was recovered. Laws which put people into prison but which allow them to reap the rewards of their efforts before they are sentenced are deemed to failure. Will the Minister agree that we will not get anywhere in this area until we update our criminal law?
Mr. Burke: I share the Deputy's concern that somebody who has served time in prison can come out and reap the benefits of his crime. With that in mind and in a major effort to update the law in this area the Law Reform Commission prepared a report which the Government have accepted. In that regard I hope to introduce legislation before the end of this session for the confiscation of the assets of those involved in crime which will be major step forward in the wide arena of society's fight against the criminal.
17. Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Justice the total estimated cost of the individual inquiries which have been initiated under the Companies, Act, 1990; and the per diem charge to each individual appointed.
Mr. Burke: My Department's sole involvement under the Act arises where an investigation has already been ordered by the High Court under section 7 or section 8 of the Act and relates only to defraying the expenses of and incidental to an investigation. My Department have no involvement in relation to investigations initiated under other provisions of the Act.
 There is currently only one investigation in progress under either section 7 or section 8. On 16 September, on the application of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, the High Court pursuant to section 8 appointed two inspectors to investigate the affairs of Siúicre Éireann cpt. The investigation is ongoing and the inspectors will report in due course to the High Court.
It is, therefore, impossible at this stage to give a meaningful estimate of what the total cost will be. The daily rate of remuneration of each of the inspectors is £1,750.
Mr. Bell: Will the Minister say on what basis the sum of £1,750 is calculated?
Mr. Burke: My understanding is that the fees reflect the ongoing rate for the expertise of senior accountants and lawyers in an exceptional assignment which is the case in this instance.
Mr. Bell: Who effectively sets the rates and the various expenses incurred by these inspectors? Is it the Minister's Department? What are the criteria for deciding the levels of payment?
Mr. Burke: The level of fees for each inspector was agreed between the inspectors themselves, at their request, and officers of my Department and other interested Departments, such as the Departments of Finance and Industry and Commerce and the Office of the Attorney General.
An Ceann Comhairle: I want to deal with the remaining question in the name of Deputy Sean Barrett, No. 18, please.
18. Mr. S. Barrett asked the Minister for Justice if he will arrange to have a free confidential telephone line made available to the public in order to encourage the public to report terrorist activities to the Garda Síochána; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Mr. Burke: At present there are facilities which enable the public to contact the Garda on the basis of total confidentiality. These include the setting up, where necessary, of specific telephone lines for the receipt of confidential calls in the aftermath of particularly serious crimes.
Recently at my request the Garda Commissioner has reviewed the desirability of providing a general free Garda confidential telephone service to further facilitate the public in passing on information to the gardaí. Following that review it has now been decided that such a service should be provided. The commissioner is at present considering the detailed arrangements to be made for the provision of this service.
When the arrangements have been finalised a public announcement will be made about the particulars of this important new service.
Mr. S. Barrett: I thank the Minister for his positive reply. Last July, following the horrific murder of Tom Oliver by the Provisional IRA — who claimed that he was an informer — I issued a statement calling for the immediate installation of a confidential telephone line. Will the Minister agree that the IRA, in using a word like “informer” seem to think they can intimidate people into not co-operating with the Garda Síochána? They taint those who are behaving legitimately and honourably and label good and honest people with the tag from the past, one with a meaning which has no place in a free and democratic society. I sincerely hope, with the Minister's co-operation today, that the use of the telephone line will once and for all bury the ancient word “informer” which has been made so dishonourable by the Provisional IRA.
Mr. Burke: I thank the Deputy for his words of welcome for the service which will be provided. Of course, as I have already said, even without that service there are facilities at present which enable the public to contact the Garda on the basis of total confidentiality. I have no hesitation in joining Deputy Barrett  in his condemnation of the Provisional IRA who try to prevent members of the general public from co-operating with the forces of law and order, particularly with the Garda. I totally reject the word “informer” attributed to a citizen doing his or her duty in making contact with the Garda when any wrongdoing comes to their notice. To use the Deputy's phrase, they are acting legitimately and honourably when they do that; we pride ourselves on having a community based Garda Force which has the support of the community. That is the way it has been and the way we want to see it in the future. For murderers such as the Porvisional IRA to talk in terms of “informer” is, to say the least, unacceptable.
19. Mr. Carey asked the Minister for Justice if he proposes placing the present civil legal aid scheme on a statutory basis; if he intends extending the scheme in 1992; and if he has any plans to involve the private practitioner in the delivery of legal aid.
67. Tomás Mac Giolla asked the Minister for Justice when the five additional law centres announced by him in May 1991 will come into operation; if he will give a commitment to the continued expansion of the legal aid scheme during 1992; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Mr. Burke: I propose to take Questions Nos. 19 and 67 together.
It is my intention to have legislation to place the scheme of civil legal aid and advice on a statutory basis ready as soon as possible having regard to the numerous other important and urgent items of legislation that are being proposed as part of my legislative programme for the next two years.
With regard to the continuing expansion of the scheme, the record of the past two years or so is evidence that the Government are serious about the  development of the legal aid scheme on a phased basis and in line with what we can afford to pay. The Board's grant-in-aid has been increased each year since 1989.
Last year a substantial number of solicitor posts were sanctioned for the board and most of their administrative vacancies were filled. In addition, four law centres which, up to then had been temporarily funded, were put on a permanent basis of Exchequer funding.
At present, the board are in the process of recruiting solicitors for the additional full-time law centres which they will be opening shortly, and also to fill existing vacancies. I am told by the board that the first of the newly recruited solicitors took up duty with the board yesterday. The remainder will start as soon as the necessary recruitment procedures are completed. These, when in place, will bring the number of solicitors employed by the board to 39, their highest number yet, and should make a significant impact on the quality of service which the board provides.
I am advised by the board that the new centres at Castlebar, Letterkenny and Dundalk are expected to be in operation by December next while those in the Dublin area, at Finglas and Clondalkin, should be operation early in the new year.
My views on the involvement of the private practitioner in the provision of civil legal aid were expressed to the House on my behalf by my colleague the Minister for Social Welfare in the course of a Private Member's motion on Legal Aid (Official Report of 20 February 1990, Vol. 395, columns 2530 and 2531). I received a report from the Legal Aid Board in October 1990 on the matter and subsequently I contacted the Law Society which agreed to establish a special committee to look at the matter. When I receive the views of the Law Society I will consider the matter further.
Mr. Carey: Would the Minister not agree that most bodies dealing with the free legal aid scheme believe that the existing system is incapable of meeting  the needs of the many thousands of persons requiring it and that while he has made admirable advances in this area, the service needs extension into other areas of the law?
Mr. Burke: As far as the operation of the scheme is concerned, as I have said, every year since 1989 there have been increases. I thank the Deputy for his comments in relation to the admirable advances that have been made. For the record, the grant to the Legal Aid Board who administer the scheme of civil legal aid and advice is at its highest in 1991 at £2.483 million compared with a figure of £2.163 million in 1990 and £1.6 million in 1989. With the expansion of the service, with the new temporary offices that are being opened, the service will be increased to 16 full-time centres. However, there is a role — I have put this point to the Law Society — for the involvement of the solicitors in a private capacity in work on behalf of the legal aid scheme and on behalf of the community. Perhaps a small percentage of their normal time could be devoted to the civil legal aid scheme.
Mr. McCartan: I join with the Minister in any proposal that would draw private practitioners into the scheme in an effort to broaden the scope of the service, but may I ask the Minister specifically if he can give an indication of what the expression “as soon as possible” means in the context of the long held proposal, which if I am correct was included in the last joint Programme for Government, to establish the legal aid service on a statutory basis? How soon is “as soon as possible” in the context of the legislative programme?
Mr. Burke: The Deputy will undoubtedly have seen the legislative programme as agreed by the partners in Government and published last Friday. He will have seen the list of legislation and the demands it puts on the officials in the Department of Justice and on the Attorney General's office. I can assure the Deputy that there will be no  unnecessary delay, but I do not want to make a commitment in the House in relation to it that I will not be able to stand over.
Mr. McCartan: This is one of the most central and urgent issues facing people working within the service and people outside seeking legal aid. Can the Minister indicate at what stage is the legislation? Have the heads of the Bill been agreed or when is it likely to be published? I appreciate that the schedule in the House will be well occupied between now and the end of the session, but when is it likely that the legislation will be published?
Mr. Burke: I would not like to give a commitment to the Deputy as regards a specific time because I could be accused of misleading him, and I do not want that to happen. As far as the process of the legislation working its way through the system is concerned, I am not in a position to give the Deputy the up-to-date position.
Mr. McCartan: Could the Minister write to me on the matter?
Mr. Burke: The question as to exactly what stage a Bill is at any one time is never answered.
Mr. S. Barrett: Has the Minister given a commitment to ensure the involvement of private practitioners in any legal aid scheme that may be drawn up on a statutory basis in the future?
Mr. Burke: I hope to have the views of the Law Society in relation to their proposals to involve their members in the provision of legal aid to the community as a whole. Obviously in putting forward legislative proposals one would have to take note of the Law Society's views in relation to that. It is a matter that undoubtedly we will come back to at a later stage.
An Ceann Comhairle: I wish to advise the House of the following matters in respect of which notice has been given to me under Standing Order 20(3) (a) and the name of the Member in each case: (1) Deputy Bill Cotter — the danger of pollution in Monalty Lake, Carrickmacross, the water source for a group water scheme; (2) Deputy Mervyn Taylor — the present position regarding the Tallaght Hospital Project, Tallaght, County Dublin; (3) Deputy Mary Flaherty — the subject matter of Parliamentary Question No. 48 of 16 October 1991 regarding ongoing radioactive pollution of the Irish Sea; (4) Deputy Alan Dukes — the reports that the abattoir at the Curragh Camp, County Kildare, is to be let by the Minister for Defence to a commercial operator and reopened for the slaughter of livestock; (5) Deputy Seán Barrett — the present courts strike; (6) Deputy Éamon Gilmore — the case of a 24 year old woman who wishes to attend a family wedding in New York on 16 November and who has been twice refused a visitor's visa by the United States Embassy; (7) Deputy Pat Rabbitte — the urgent matter of the construction of the Tallaght regional hospital; (8) Deputy Pat McCartan — that consideration be given to granting a pardon to Nicky Kelly in view of the new evidence that has emerged on a recent RTE programme; (9) Deputy Michael Moynihan — the need for controls on the parking of caravans  and mobile homes on roadsides and other public properties; (10) Deputy John Connor — the recent report in the media detailing the accumulation of a private collection of archaeological items and treasures excavated in contravention of the National Monuments Acts; (11) Deputy Bernard Durkan — if the Minister for Education will urgently review the need to provide for extra accommodation and other facilities at a number of post-primary schools in County Kildare and (12) Deputy Jimmy Deenihan — the crisis in the Circuit and District Courts as a result of the dispute involving the upgrading of clerical officers and clerical assistants and the resultant chaos in our legal system.
I have selected for discussion the matters raised by the following Deputies: (1) Deputy Seán Barrett; (2) Deputy Michael Moynihan and (3) Deputy Pat McCartan.
The Taoiseach: It is proposed to take Nos. 5 and 4. Private Members' Business shall be No. 30.
Mr. J. Bruton: There have been some suggestions over the last few days, upon which some members of the Cabinet have commented publicly, that a reshuffle of the Cabinet is being considered. Could the Taoiseach confirm whether that is the case?
An Ceann Comhairle: That does not arise now, Deputy.
Mr. Quinn: We still might want to hear the answer.
Mr. J. Bruton: It would require that time be provided. I think the Taoiseach is willing to give an answer, perhaps a monosyllable.
An Ceann Comhairle: This matter can  perhaps be raised at another time in another way, but it is not appropriate to the Order of Business.
Mr. J. Bruton: It it can be commented upon elsewhere, it is a pity it cannot be commented on in here.
Mr. McCormack: He wants to keep the lads quiet for another week.
Mr. Spring: May I ask the Taoiseach if before the end of this session he will provide Government time in this House for a discussion on tax reform, a subject that has been mentioned in the Programme for Government and which, I believe, has caused some difficulties between the parties in Government? Could I ask him, in a constructive manner, if time will be provided in this House to discuss a whole range of possibilities for tax reform?
An Ceann Comhairle: That is a matter that can clearly be dealt with by way of a question.
Mr. Spring: A Cheann Comhairle, with respect to you, I do not think——
An Ceann Comhairle: This does not appertain to legislation promised in this House.
Mr. Spring: It probably does not require legislation but rather than having to wait until the budget to see what evolves from last week's discussions, could we have a short debate in this House on tax reform?
The Taoiseach: I do not think it would be particularly beneficial or appropriate to have some sort of vague discussion of that type. I do not think there will be room for it this session.
Proinsias De Rossa: I wish to raise two items on the Order of Business. First, the Health (Family Planning) Bill, 1991, Order fo Second Stage, was listed on the draft schedule we received from the Whips last week but it is not on today's  Order Paper. What happened to it? Will it be moved or has it been vetoed yet again? Second, on the Order of Business last week the Taoiseach indicated that he was prepared to have a debate on political and monetary union. Is it intended to have a debate on the two reports we received recently on developments in the European Community? As far as I am aware, we have never had a debate on these reports which were placed before the Oireachtas.
The Taoiseach: The Health (Family Planning) Bill, 1991, will be taken this session.
Mr. McCartan: This does not answer the question why it was removed from the schedule.
The Taoiseach: With regard to the question of a debate on political, economic and monetary union, I still hope we will be able to have such a debate.
Proinsias De Rossa: My specific question on the Health (Family Planning) Bill was, why it is not on today's Order Paper. I presumed it was listed and that we were ready to move the Order for Second Stage today. May I ask when the Order for Second Stage will be moved so that the Bill can be circulated?
The Taoiseach: This session.
Proinsias De Rossa: Will it be this week?
The Taoiseach: This session.
Proinsias De Rossa: Will it be next week?
An Ceann Comhairle: We have passed Question Time.
Proinsias De Rossa: A Cheann Comhairle, I must make this point——
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy has asked some relevant questions and got  some replies and he may not make a speech now.
Proinsias De Rossa: Last week it was agreed that this Bill would be moved this week, it has been removed——
Mr. Spring: The problem may go away.
Proinsias De Rossa: Has the Minister for artificial insemination vetoed it?
The Taoiseach: It is a question of good parliamentary planning.
Mr. McCartan: Or containing the Minister for Agriculture and Food.
Mr. J. O'Keeffe: The Taoiseach would want to plan more than that.
Mr. J. Bruton: The Taoiseach has agreed to a debate on economic and monetary union and in view of the importance and complexity of this matter, would he agree to circulating in advance, perhaps the day before, a draft of the Minister's speech or some written material outlining the main issues so that the debate will be as informed and useful as possible? Would the Taoiseach agree to this as an exceptional measure in view of the importance of this debate?
The Taoiseach: The Deputy will recall that I gave a very full and extensive outline of all the issues involved last July. I am anxious to give as much information as possible to the House but I think it would be taking the House on trust to give a copy of my speech a day in advance. I would gladly do that if I could be assured that this would not be used for base political purposes.
Mr. J. Bruton: Sensitivity does you great credit.
Mr. G. Mitchell: In relation to item No. 2, the final report on the Appropriation Accounts for 1987 from the Committee of Public Accounts, may I  ask the Taoiseach if time will be made available to move the motion this week?
The Taoiseach: I understand the Whips will be talking about that on Thursday.
Mr. Quinn: May I ask the Taoiseach when the Government propose to introduce the legislation to give effect to the register of interests of Oireachtas Members?
The Taoiseach: The Programme for Government provides that it shall be in operation by September 1992, so it will be taken sometime between now and then.
Mr. Quinn: Will the legislation be published before the end of this session or some time next year?
The Taoiseach: It will have to be enacted between now and the summer recess.
Mr. Quinn: Is legislation actually necessary?
The Taoiseach: I always assumed it was but maybe not.
Mr. Sherlock: The Land Commission (Dissolution) Bill has been on the clár for about two years. May I ask the Taoiseach when it is proposed to enact this Bill?
The Taoiseach: The history of land in Ireland has gone on for a couple of centuries and I suppose we could wait another month or so.
Mrs. Barnes: I note with pleasure that the Bill dealing with the property of married people, which has been on the stocks for centuries, has been included in the Programme for Government. Can we be assured that it will be introduced this session?
The Taoiseach: We had this topic during Question Time, Deputy.
Mrs. Barnes: I hope the answer was in  the affirmative and that it will be taken this session.
The Taoiseach: The legislation on family home ownership?
Mrs. Barnes: It is legislation which recognises women's work in the home and their legal entitlement to protection and to half of the home and its contents.
The Taoiseach: The Family Home (Protection) Bill which is promised is ready but we are awaiting a reserved judgment of the Supreme Court.
Mrs. Barnes: We have been awaiting that decision for years and the legislation should go ahead. Some judges believe that the legislation should emanate from here and not from the courts. I would like that idea to be taken on board.
The Taoiseach: That is not the point. Our fear is that the judgment, when delivered, will impinge on the legislation; however it may be possible to proceed without waiting for the decision.
Mr. Yates: Will the Taoiseach clarify the situation in relation to the legislation necessary to sell the B & I Line? The Government contracted to sell it to the ICG on 16 January and the deal expired legally on 16 August. It was not on the list of legislation promised for this session. Is it proposed to go ahead with the legislation in view of the opposition of the unions? What is the current status of this legislation?
An Ceann Comhairle: Has legislation been promised in this area?
The Taoiseach: Yes. The desire is to have it this session.
Bill entitled an Act to make new provision in respect of patents and related matters in substitution for the provisions of the Patents Acts, 1964  and 1966; to enable effect to be given to certain international conventions on patents; and to provide for other matters connected with the matters aforesaid.
Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. O'Malley): I move: “That Second Stage be taken on Thursday, 24 October 1991” subject to agreement between the Whips.
Question put and agreed to.
Second Stage ordered for Thursday, 24 October, 1991.
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Miss Harney): I move: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”
I am pleased to bring this legislation before the House. Since I first began work on this Bill almost two years ago, the environment debate has moved on. We can no longer view environmental protection in the simplistic terms of previous decades. Today it is not just a matter of saving the whale or even the corncrake. The nuts and bolts of pollution prevention and control are less emotive but have assumed a central position.
The debate in the Seanad reflected this in the level of interest in even the most technical and complex areas of the Bill. I endeavoured to approach the debate in the Seanad in an open and constructive way. A reflection of this is in the number of amendments which was made to the Bill as a result of that process. A total of 461 amendments were tabled at Committee and Report Stages in the Seanad and 111 was actually applied to the Bill.
I am committed to pursuing this same open and constructive approach here in the Dáil. I will, however, admit a sense of frustration at the length of time which it has taken to get this important Bill this far and I would appeal to all parties to  take account of the urgency in putting this agency in place as soon as possible.
This Bill to establish an Environmental Protection Agency has come at a time when there is unprecedented pressure on our natural environment.
Forces such as the Common Agricultural Policy have led to widespread intensification of agriculture with its attendant pollution problems. Many years of complacency regarding the effects of industry on the environment have left us all ill-prepared to deal with the increasing number of large and complex developments which are coming to our shores.
The current difficult economic situation coupled with continuing high and unacceptable levels of unemployment have tempted many to say that the environment should be placed on the back burner until these greater priorities are tackled. Our planning system, the greatest strength of which is the right of access by third parties, is now under attack by those who would have development at any cost.
Our economic ills require strong medicine which many will find unpalatable. While this medicine will be formulated from many different ingredients, one essential component of the formula has to be high environmental standards and strict but fair controls on all activities with pollution potential.
I have spoken on many occasions of the importance of the continuing health of our environment to our long term economic prosperity, a subject close to my heart.
Suffice to say that the strongest economy in Europe is Germany, and it is no coincidence that the Germans consider strict environmental controls to be an essential ingredient in their continued prosperity.
The Environmental Protection Agency which I propose to establish under this Bill is strong medicine for our environment and a key component in this Government's strategy to improve our economic performance.
 Much has been achieved already in our efforts to protect and preserve this unspoiled environment. The Local Government (Water Pollution) Acts, 1977 and 1990, and the Air Pollution Act, 1987, contain very wide ranging controls for the protection of the environment. My Department are presently working on new legislation dealing with waste to complete this legislative umbrella over land, air and water. However, environmental protection in the area of licensing of new and existing development has become increasingly complex and specialised. It has become increasingly difficult for each local authority to provide the expertise necessary to carry out their licensing functions. Problems of public confidence and the need for a more uniform decision making process have made it clear that these functions should now be carried out by one expert body. The idea of an Environmental Protection Agency was born out of the need for such a body.
In common with an increasing number of countries, we have concluded that the satisfactory control of activities with a major polluting potential will best be implemented through a national body with the necessary expertise and resources to deal with the increasingly complex issues involved. The agency's licensing activity will operate on an integrated basis. In other words, the existing separate control systems for air, water and waste will be replaced by one integrated system of licensing and control to cover all affected environmental media. Accordingly, about half of the EC member states have adapted their environmental control systems to this integrated system, and the EC Commission has just recently brought forward proposals for a directive on integrated pollution control.
While the proposed agency will have direct responsibility for controlling activities across a wide spectrum — in all, over 1,000 developments are licensable — they will also seek to promote the implementation of environmentally sound practices generally through a wide  range of advisory, support and supervisory functions. These include: the provision of guidelines and back-up to local authorities and other public bodies concerned with the environment; co-ordination of environmental monitoring and reporting on the state of the environment; co-ordination of environmental research; supervision of the environmental performance of local authorities particularly in the area of drinking water quality, management of sewage treatment plants and landfill sites; participation in the environmental impact assessment procedures; promoting the conduct of environmental audits for existing development; the establishment of a labelling scheme for environmentally friendly products and services; and, finally, issuing and approving codes of practice and specifying environmental quality objectives.
If the new agency are to have the full confidence of the general public they must be tough, independent and fair in all their dealings and they must be seen to be so. The independence of the agency is guaranteed by a number of important elements. The executive board will be appointed by the Government from candidates selected by an independent committee following public advertisement of the vacancies. The agency will be given the necessary resources, including an effective and expert staff, to carry out their functions, and will have the freedom to act of their own volition. It is also proposed that it will be an offence to lobby any member of the board or employee of the agency with the intention of influencing improperly a matter to be decided by the agency. The impartiality of the agency is further underpinned by the comprehensive provisions of sections 37 and 38 in relation to the declaration and disclosure of interests by directors, employees of the agency and other relevant persons.
The agency will have wideranging powers including sole and direct responsibility for licensing and controlling a wide range of activities, the power to prosecute summary offences and the power to refer more serious cases  to the Director of Public Prosecutions. They will be empowered to investigate and publish reports on pollution incidents or other matters related to environmental protection either on their own initiative or if requested to do so by the Minister. There is provision also for formal inquiries by the agency into a pollution incident or any other matter related to environmental protection. They will be able to avail of all the appropriate enforcement powers and functions provided for in the Air and Water Pollution Acts, including, for example, the power to seek a High Court injunction to prevent serious pollution.
The Bill breaks new ground in establishing open and transparent procedures. The public will be entitled under the Bill to have access to all of the agency's monitoring data as well as monitoring data collected by local authorities on behalf of the agency save in clearly defined circumstances. There is also provision for the agency to establish and maintain a data base on environmental quality. They will prepare state of the environment reports at least every five years and will be obliged to report regularly on their operations and activities.
Section 108 provides for the application of freedom of access requirements to the wider public service and will allow for full implementation of the EC Directive on this matter. These provisions on freedom of access to information will be an important link between the agency and the general public.
A detailed explanatory memorandum on the Bill has already been circulated to Deputies. I wish, however, to deal briefly with the Bill's main provisions in sequence. The text of the Bill, which has 110 sections and is in six parts, can be summarised as follows.
Part I contains standard provisions of a general nature dealing with such matters as interpretation, regulations, offences, penalties and other housekeeping provisions.
Part II deals with the establishment, membership, staffing, financing and operational matters of the agency. It also provides for the formal dissolution of An  Foras Forbartha and the transfer of their staff to the agency.
Part III deals with the functions of the agency.
Part IV provides for the establishment of an integrated licensing system to be operated by the agency for activities listed in the First Schedule to the Bill, i.e., those activities with potential for major pollution.
Part V includes a number of general matters in relation to environmental protection and, in particular, provision is made for powers under water and air pollution control legislation to be operated by the agency in addition to or in lieu of local authorities. It also provides for special reports and inquiries.
Part VI is a miscellaneous part dealing with noise, improved access to information, control of genetically modified organisms and the increase of certain penalties under other legislation. These matters are not directly connected with the Environmental Protection Agency.
The First Schedule specifies the activities which are to be subject to licensing by the agency. The Second Schedule specifies existing enactments in respect of which functions can be transferred to the agency. The Third Schedule contains certain amendments to the Air Pollution Act, 1987.
Both the First and Second Schedules can be amended by ministerial order, subject to an affirmative resolution to be passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas.
I would like to deal with some of the functions of the agency in some more detail.
With regard to their regulatory functions, the agency will have direct responsibility under Part IV of the Bill for operating an integrated licensing system and for monitoring, control and enforcement of environmental criteria in relation to classes of activities with potential for serious pollution. The activities involved are set out in the First Schedule to the Bill, which will be capable of amendment by ministerial order, with the approval of both Houses of the Oireachtas, to cater for changed circumstances. The activities  to be licensed by the agency are mainly those associated with heavy or large-scale industrial processes but also include activities such as mining, peat extraction, the food industry and intensive pig and poultry rearing. The agency will have regard to the best available technologies not entailing excessive costs for preventing or reducing emissions and to the polluter pays principle when deciding on licence applications. The integrated licensing system will operate for the activities concerned, instead of the system of separate licences and permits for air, water and waste as exists at present.
The relationship between the physical planning and environmental control systems, including environmental impact assessment procedures, has been raised as a matter of some concern. Representations were made to me by all the major interested parties, including representatives of planning authorities, developers and promoters and environmental and local community groups, about the possible difficulties in operating two separate systems and the issues were discussed at some length in the Seanad.
I have had further discussions with a number of those bodies from whom representations were received. I have had a review carried out within the Department of the relationship between the proposed licensing process and the planning process.
I will be bringing forward certain amendments on Committee Stage to give effect to the results of this review.
The agency will have a general supervisory role in relation to public authorities to see that environmental standards are being met. For example, mariculture and other marine related activities will in future be the subject of separate scrutiny by the agency under the Bill. Section 71 will enable the Minister for the Environment to make regulations, subject to the consent of the Minister for the Marine, requiring the prior approval of the agency in relation to the environmental implications of activities requiring licences, permits or  other authorisations by the Minister for the Marine. These could include aquaculture, marine dumping and certain foreshore developments.
Local authorities will continue to be extensively involved in environmental monitoring and control activities. It is desirable that a mechanism should exist to guide standards of local authority performance and to encourage the consistent application of control procedures throughout the country.
Sections 56 and 57 give the agency general powers of advice and assistance in relation to local authorities. Section 61 provides for the taking of appropriate action by the agency if the environmental functions of a local authority are not being properly performed. Under sections 58, 59 and 60, the agency will fix criteria for the management of local authority sewage treatment plants and landfill sites and will have a general supervisory role in relation to local authority obligations for the quality of drinking water.
Under section 55, the agency also will have the right to provide advice or make recommendations to any Government Minister or public authority on environmental matters relative to their functions.
Sections 70 to 76 empowers the agency to influence and promote the use of environmentally sound practices in a variety of ways.
The agency are given an extensive involvement in the operation of the environmental impact assessment procedure. In particular, this involves power for the agency to prepare guidelines on the information to be contained in such statements. Those preparing and assessing such statements must have regard to the guidelines. I may have further improvements to propose on Committee Stage in relation to the agency's role in environmental impact assessment.
Under section 72 the agency will be responsible for promoting environmental audits through the specification of guidelines and criteria for this purpose. Section 73 places a duty on the agency to specify environmental quality objectives which must be taken into account by Ministers  and other public authorities in formulating policy, setting standards or exercising their environmental protection functions.
The agency will be obliged, under section 76, to establish an eco-labelling scheme involving the use of a special symbol on the labels of products or in connection with services which meet specified environmental criteria. Here it is of interest that the European Commission have prepared draft proposals for a Community wide eco-labelling scheme; the relevant regulation is expected to be adopted in December. Section 76 requires account to be taken of these EC requirements.
There is an increasing demand for reliable and authoritative environmental information. The Bill provides a leading role for the agency in ensuring this demand is met. Sections 62 to 68 set out a range of relevant activities to be undertaken or co-ordinated by the agency.
The agency will prepare, publish and implement programmes for the monitoring of environmental quality including hydrometric data. Much of this monitoring will continue to be done on an agency basis by local authorities but will be subject to co-ordination by the agency to ensure that comparable and comprehensive data are produced. In order to provide a reliable supply of environmental information the agency will establish an analytical quality control programme and require laboratories which supply them with data to comply with a high standard of operational excellence.
The agency will have the role, under section 69, of fostering and co-ordinating environmental research. A well developed cohesive network of environmental research linked to environmental monitoring, both of which are to a large extent interdependent, will be critical to our ability to avoid environmental problems in the future and, when they occur, to respond positively and efficiently to them. Therefore the agency will co-ordinate environmental research and related programmes by public and other bodies  and will prepare and publish registers of environmental research projects or operations. The agency will have power to carry out research directly, or through consultancy or commissioned work. As a matter of priority the agency will liaise with the European Commission and other international organisations so as to secure maximum funding for, and participation in, environmental research in Ireland.
To exercise such a wide range of functions effectively the agency require strong enforcement powers. Offences under the Bill will carry maximum penalties on summary conviction of £1,000 and/or imprisonment for six months, and on conviction on indictment of £10 million and/or imprisonment for ten years; fines on foot of summary convictions will be payable to the agency. These fines are of a magnitude sufficient to reflect the gravity of pollution as an offence and will act as a deterrent to the enterprises or individuals who may be tempted to take the pollution option if it would result in a short term financial saving. Other provisions of the Bill also will prove effective as a deterrent, for example, the liability under section 12 on conviction to pay the legal and other costs of the agency and the application, under sections 98 and 99, of these provisions of the Local Government (Water Pollution) Acts, 1977 and 1990 and the Air Pollution Act, 1987 relating to liability for damage resulting from water pollution or emissions to the atmosphere.
I am determined that the agency should not be seen as anti-industry. It will, of course, be pro-environment. This means that industry and other activities with major polluting potential are well regulated.
The Government are committed to sustainable economic development. Essentially that means that, in the pursuit of economic development to meet the needs for the present generation, we must not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their needs. I have no doubt that the greatest legacy we can leave to future generations is a clean,  unspoiled environment because that is our single most important natural resource.
We do not have huge resources of oil or mineral wealth but we do have what is probably the cleanest environment in Europe, a natural resource which will never be exhausted if we take care of it.
The decisions we make in future about what type of development we want in Ireland will have to take this into account. Much of our recent economic recovery can be attributed to industries which are dependent on a clean environment, for example, food, agriculture, electronics and tourism. Continued economic growth, will depend more and more on the perception abroad that Ireland is environmentally friendly. It is no longer an issue of jobs or the environment. In the nineties we look forward to jobs because of the environment.
The Environmental Protection Agency Bill is a radical and progressive step forward. It will help to safeguard our environment and our economic future. The Bill is striking evidence to the wider world that Ireland is serious about preserving the unique quality of its environment.
The Bill is an important one. I am anxious to hear the full views of Deputies on it. However, we should all bear in mind the urgency of implementing the improved environmental management arrangements which the Bill will bring. With this in view, I would hope that, in this House, we will be able to order business and conduct our debates in such a way as to facilitate the reasonably early enactment of the Bill.
Mr. J. Mitchell: Anyone who cares about the environment, any Irishman who appreciates the special preserves and attributes of our island environment might be expected to give the Bill an unqualified welcome. Yet I have a lurking unease that the Bill, if enacted in its present form, will put environmental matters beyond the influence or control of the elected representatives of the people in this House.
 The establishment of State agencies for specific purposes often is justified on the grounds that the need, in the public interest, for independence and flexibility outweighs the need for direct public control. As a consequence, the establishment of an agency invariably means that the sponsoring Minister no longer has to answer questions in this House on day-to-day matters, on specific details, even on matters of general concern. Sometimes the balance of public advantage lies with such an arrangement. Nonetheless it represents a democratic deficit.
In the case of the Environmental Protection Agency, as proposed under the provisions of the Bill, judgment has to be made whether the balance of public advantage justifies such a democratic deficit. In this case I think not. Consequently I have grave reservations about the balance of the Bill. Yet Fine Gael were the first party to propose an Environmental Protection Agency and were the first to introduce a Bill to this House for that purpose. Let there be no doubt about our commitment to a cleaner, greener environment or to the principle of an effective Environmental Protection Agency. My concern is that the agency proposed in this Bill will be easily stymied in their environmental endeavours by, for instance, expenditure or staff restrictions by a Government which in turn will refuse to answer to this House under cover of the “independence” of the agency. For these reasons Fine Gael will seek to amend this Bill so that the agency will be answerable to and monitored by an environment committee of this House. In this way public input into the priorities and performance of the agency will be provided and the democratic deficit minimised. By linking the agency directly to Parliament we will ensure that it will be more vibrant and less under the yoke of an evasive Minister for the Environment or a restrictive Minister for Finance. In thus establishing the most effective apparatus for the setting and achieving of clear environmental goals, this House will be doing a signal service in a crucial area.
 The environment is an issue of growing concern to more and more people. It is a local issue, a national issue, a community issue, a world issue. It is an issue which affects all our senses, our sight, our hearing, our smell, our taste and even our touch. It affects our physical and mental health, our sense of well being and our morale. It affects manufacturing industry, agriculture, services, hospitals, schools and sport. It even affects our climate. The environment is no longer a side show for the vegetarian fringe, nor is it the preserve of comely oddballs dancing at the crossroads in a Celtic mist. It is a world issue and it is centre stage.
In proceeding to consider this issue it is necessary to give separate consideration to the natural environment and to the built environment. It is also necessary to divide the local from the national and the national from the international. Next year the world conference on the environment is scheduled for Rio de Janeiro. It is entirely appropriate that the world conference should be held so close to one of the earth's great rain forests, the destruction of which is vital to the collapsed economy of Brazil but which, for obverse reasons, is vital to the climate and environment of all the earth. The economic and social problems of Brazil and many other parts of the Third World impinge directly on the rest of the world. These Third World problems, together with the separate questions of nuclear energy and of the manufacture of CFCs, have major and urgent implications for the world's environment. All have their main basis in economics.
The 1992 world conference is timely but it requires from the First World, of which we are part, meaningful economic initiatives which supersede even the impending sacrifices of the GATT round. In anticipation of the world conference, the European Community ought to be preparing economic and fiscal proposals to meet the world's environmental needs. Agreement should be sought urgently with the United States, Canada and Japan and with the six EFTA countries and the Societ Union on an agreed approach. This approach must include  much greater economic assistance and incentives for the Third World. It must also include agreement on domestic, fiscal and energy policy. In particular, the avoidable use of polluting energy should be the subject of clear fiscal disincentives. In this respect the United States would appear to be trailing the rest of the developed world, especially in its excessive consumption of petroleum products per unit of economic production. It should not be overlooked that the EC trails Japan in this respect.
The world conference is a unique opportunity and one which should not be missed to deal effectively with such threatening problems as global warming and the erosion of the ozone layer. The EC have a major role to play at this world conference and I hope our Minister and our Government are to the fore in proposing, pressing and supporting appropriate EC initiatives. The EC and EFTA countries, constituting as they do the 18 wealthiest countries in Europe, have a particular duty to lead the Council of Europe in their environmental endeavours and to assist eastern countries in catching up on environmental standards.
Within the EC there remains much to be done to continue the environmental advances which undoubtedly have been made. On the questions of toxic and hazardous waste, EC proposals may be inappropriate and the Greenpeace case seems compelling. In recycling and packaging and eco-labelling progress is too slow.
Too little is being done and too slowly about the danger of nuclear or radioactive pollution of our air and waters. The lesson of the Chernobyl disaster has not been taken on board to an adequate degree. The widespread concern in this country regarding Sellafield has not been met by an adequate response in London or in Brussels. Nonetheless progress has been made within the EC, especially in raising the consciousness of industry regarding its duty to the environment. However, while future industrial and other developments will, through environmental impact assessments, be  more geared to environmental requirements, much more needs to be done regarding long-standing breaches of acceptable environmental standards. I do not accept that we should have to put up with environmental breaches long into the future merely because the practices causing these breaches have been of long standing. Tighter and clearer deadlines for the ending of these practices are necessary. This will not be painless, especially in the agricultural area. The present gloomy outlook for agriculture cannot be used as an excuse to delay appropriate environmental standards.
In Ireland, peripheral as we are to the main concentration of European industry, we have been spared some of the worst environmental breaches. Nonetheless we are still a long way from achieving the optimum environmental standards which an island of our size and population could reasonably aspire to. There is still far too much pollution in our waters and in our air. However, the most obvious gaps are in our built environment. I am sure the Leas-Cheann Comhairle, as a former Lord Mayor of Dublin, will agree. It is in this latter respect that our local authorities, which should be the main protectors of our environment, are frequently the worst offenders. For example, much of the dereliction in our cities and towns arises from protracted and long delayed road proposals of local authorities which have the effect of not alone freezing all potential development along the proposed line of the road but also frequently of causing existing buildings to be abandoned or unmaintained. Despite the widespread dereliction, this Bill is virtually silent in regard to the built environment. Urban dereliction is one of the single biggest causes of alienation among our people. Alienation in turn leads to crime, social unrest and to physical and mental health problems.
Even the provisions of the Derelict Sites Act have been insufficient to make impact because the main enforcers of that legislation, the local authorities, are themselves the main offenders. This paradox arises principally from lack of  financial independence and, it seems, the agency could very well fall into the same trap.
Urban dereliction arising from long delayed road proposals is compounded by urban dereliction of a different kind, dereliction arising from non-maintenance, again principally by the local authorities, and poor urban planning which lead our cities to sprawl and our city centres to decay. The non-maintenance of local authority estates, especially local authority flat complexes, is one of the biggest environmental nightmares in our country.
On Committee Stage I will be proposing several amendments to deal with environmental obnoxia in the built environment. However, let us again be reminded of the link between economics and the environment, a subject to which I will later return.
The Dáil environment committee which I have proposed as both a lever for and a monitor of the Environmental Protection Agency should also have a role in measuring the performances of local authorities.
Finally, in Fine Gael's proposals for expanding the role of the President of Ireland we envisaged an important inspirational and inspectorial role for our President in the environment area. I remain fully convinced that the stature of the Office of President can be mobilised to great effect to improve environmental standards at home and abroad. I would like to invite the Minister to consider including in the Bill a prescribed role for the President at the leading edge of environmental standards.
The principle of the Bill is heartily welcome but I hope on Committee and Report Stages its provisions can be greatly strengthened.
I wish to return to the question of the effectiveness of the agency. Of course, the agency cannot be effective until it is set up. The Minister has asked us for our co-operation in the speedy enactment of the Bill and I can assure her of that co-operation. Indeed, I would criticise the Minister for the delay in bringing the Bill before the House.
 Fine Gael introduced a Bill proposing the setting up of an environmental protection agency 14 months before this Bill was introduced in the other House. The Government could have accepted that Bill with a view to improving it on Committee Stage. Indeed, the Minister's Bill was the subject of 416 amendments in the Seanad of which 111 were accepted. If the Minister had been gracious enough to accept the Fine Gael Bill I am sure it could have been improved and made effective with fewer amendments. Nevertheless, I can assure the Minister that there will be no obstruction from this side of the House to the speedy enactment of the Bill.
However, there is no sense in this House setting up an agency which has no teeth or enacting legislation which will not be enforced. Indeed, a most urgent need in this whole area of Dáil reform is the question of enforcement. We persistently pass new laws without making adequate provision for the enforcement of them. I strongly suspect that we are replicating that regrettable process in the case of this Bill.
The Minister made scant reference to resources. In fact the word was mentioned only once by the Minister. The agency could easily be stymied in their work by lack of staff and financial resources. We all know that many Departments and agencies of State are already stymied because of lack of resources, even when the provision of extra staff could save the Exchequer money, as I know from bitter experience. I would like assurances from the Minister in relation to resources. I would like her to elaborate on the financial resources and staff she will guarantee as a minimum for the proposed agency this year and in succeeding years. Will she assure the House that the agency's minimum resources will be sufficient to ensure rigorous enforcement of all the laws?
On the details of the agency, I am somewhat surprised that there is no provision for any outside directors. It appears that all the directors will be full time directors appointed by the Minister, following nomination by a committee.  There seems to be no provision for an outside overview of the executive directors. That is certainly an unusual procedure, to say the least. It greatly adds to the case for an environmental committee of this House to oversee, among other things, the functions and performances of the Environmental Protection Agency.
The Minister paid scant regard to the principles of environment policy. As far as I could see from my quick perusal of her speech she did not say anything to the effect that the polluter should pay.
Miss Harney: I did.
Mr. J. Mitchell: To some extent that is not surprising in view of the fact that very often the principal polluter is the Government or some of our local authorities. Very often this pollution is the result of a lack of resources which prevents local authorities or statutory agencies doing their job or implementing and enforcing existing legislation.
Let there be no doubt that this Bill is of considerable importance. The subject of it is of great concern to increasing numbers of people not just here but throughout the world. By their nature issues relating to the environment cannot be confined to national boundaries. There is an enormous international dimension to environmental issues and in some cases there are even global issues such as global warming and damage to the ozone layer.
This debate should alert our people to the full dangers to the environment which will occur unless environmental problems are urgently addressed. If nothing is done about global warming and the erosion of the ozone layer much of the land of Europe and the rest of the world could be swamped by the oceans because of melting ice. Some of the data in this regard is quite frightening. While it would be wrong for us to create hysteria on environmental matters, even in regard to global warming and the ozone layer, it is nonetheless important that we mobilise public opinion and alert ourselves and  our public representative colleagues in other countries on the need for action now to prevent a disaster in a few decades time. Because some of the consequences will not arise for 20, 30, 40 or perhaps 60 years, this might be used as an excuse to defer action for a few more years but the reality is that the need for action in several respects is urgent and the time for action in some respects has long since passed. Therefore, the enactment of this Bill is a matter of urgency. However, this Bill will be a failure unless the Government are committed to providing the resources needed to ensure that its provisions are enforced.
Mr. Howlin: I should like at the outset to welcome the Bill and the Minister of State. I think this is the first time I have been involved with her in a debate on environmental legislation. We have waited for this Bill for a very long time indeed. The only criticism I would levy against the Minister is that there has been so much talk about this Bill. It is a great pity and shame that we have had to wait so long for its introduction in this House. I want to remind the Minister of State that on the last occasion we debated an environmental protection agency proposal, 12 December 1989 — a Bill in the name of Deputy Shatter — she concluded her contribution by saying:
It is my intention to have the necessary legislation, that is, the legislation to put in place the environmental protection agency, prepared as early as possible in the New Year to give effect to the Government's proposals, and to have the agency up and running in 1990.
We are now nearing the end of 1991 and we are only beginning to debate this legislation in the House. The fact that we have long-fingered this legislation for so long is shameful. This legislation is urgently needed. The Minister of State has come in here and suggested that we on this side of the House should regard the legislation as urgent and deal with it expeditiously. From the Labour Party's  perspective, she will be given all the co-operation necessary to do just that.
There is a view that Ireland is green, unspoilt, pleasant and unpolluted, a view which is largely true, certainly in comparison with our partners in continental Europe and most definitely and emphatically true in any analysis or comparisons with the new democratised countries of eastern and Central Europe. Those countries present a tremendous challenge to the European family for the future. I had the opportunity in recent weeks to attend a conference and hear about some of the catastrophic challenges from Central and Eastern Europe which we must face in the future.
We should learn from their experience and put in place as a matter of urgency mechanisms to ensure that that sort of damage can never be done to the eco systems of this land in so far as we can control them ourselves. Although Ireland is physically an island, no country is an island in terms of world ecology: we are affected by the workings of every nation and of people very far away. For example, the sheep in counties Wicklow and Wexford were affected by the Chernobyl accident and when Sellafield spews out its waste the people on the East coast of Ireland are directly affected by it. There is a reality of cleanness and greenness about this land which we should as a matter of priority seek to protect. For that reason I heartily welcome the belated legislation before us today.
We have an historic opportunity in terms of this Bill. We often decry ourselves for being late in developmental terms but maybe that lateness will be a great advantage in this instance and will be to the eternal benefit of the Irish people. The 20th century has been an era of unprecedented economic growth and violent change. Global production of goods and services has increased more than 50-fold during this century and 80 per cent of this huge growth has taken place since 1950. Global industrial production today is 500 per cent greater than it was in the late forties. This rapid technical and economic development has been positive in many respects.  Obviously it has benefited the western developed world and all our lifestyles, with increased material wealth, better health care, the availability of social security, a better selection of goods and services, more choice and the expansion of education.
During the sixties steps were taken towards an even more global distribution of growth. Reforms in international trade were envisaged, undertaken and negotiated and many new organisations were established, a new economic order. Unfortunately this effort came to a virtual halt in the seventies and eighties. The Helsinki Declaration on international security in 1975 and the agreements on nuclear arms control in the seventies raised expectations of a more stable world order. The prospects for sustained world development looked bright throughout most of the post-war period: natural resources seemed to be abundant, never-ending almost; environmental problems were seen as technical problems amenable to technical solutions; technological optimism prevailed and the potential for growth seemed unlimited and unbridled. There were going to be no problems that we could not resolve and mother earth would provide an endless source of raw materials.
However, structural imbalances in the development process became apparent, not least as we became increasingly aware of the environmental damage to our lifestyles, the air we breathe, the waters we depend upon and the soils which grow our food. During the sixties people began to see the first signs of large-scale reaction in nature and people's health to the rapid processes of industrialisation and urbanisation. The environment was gradually being poisoned and the signs were very obvious: birds were dying as a result of the use of mercury and pesticides and lakes were becoming unfit to bathe in. New ideas and words came into common use, for example, acid rain. There was also the Minamata accident in Japan. The working environment was often detrimental to our health.
One sign after another began to indicate that something was profoundly  wrong and awareness began to lead to a demand for action. There was a growing green awareness during the early eighties and calls made for the establishment of agencies and legislative frameworks to protect nature from being attacked. A major effort was made on a world scale on the convening of the first UN conference on the environment in 1972 in Stockholm. International environmental co-operation was intensified and conventions were signed and implemented. As a result the process of developing and improving technologies for the control of pollution began to take place at great speed.
The seventies arrived with an energy crisis which led to an increased awareness of the limits of the natural resources that up to then had seemed to be unlimited. At the same time as the environmental effects of fossil fuels became clear to us, those same fuels were noted to be in short supply. Up to then nuclear energy was thought to be the saviour of mankind. When it was introduced in the fifties in Britain, the promotional blurb indicated that energy would be too cheap to charge for, too cheap to meter.
My first involvement in the issue was when it was proposed by the then Minister for Energy — now Minister for Industry and Commerce — to site a nuclear power station 12 miles from my home town in Carnsore Point. That was a very significant proposal not only for the horrendous consequences it would have had on the people of Wexford and the country generally, but as a start of an awareness process that has gone on since then. The green movement was founded in a mass campaign of action undertaken by the Wexford people, and supported by the people of Ireland, that culminated in 40,000 people encamping on the site over a weekend in 1977.
During the eighties we saw increased environmental degradation on a global scale. Emissions from industry, agriculture, households and traffic are serious threats to the air, the water and the atmosphere. Major accidents have now gone down in the annals of world history  in places such as Bopal — which probably few of us had heard of before the catastrophe that crippled that city and killed and maimed so many people — Chernobyl and many other places. These accidents have shown just how vulnerable this small planet is to environmental harm and we have common cause — to save human kind from pollution. That is the international historical background to a push throughout the world for increased standards in environmental care, monitoring and protection.
On the international front I have mentioned some issues but there are others that no doubt will be spelt out in detail by other contributors to this debate. They are not particularly relevant to this Bill so I will make a passing comment on them.
The issue of climatic change was mentioned by Deputy Mitchell. A horrendous prospect would be if there is a depletion of the ozone layer because this would raise sea levels. This would have serious effects for a maritime country like ours, which has many low lying urban areas that are susceptible to any noticeable rise in sea levels. The rise of desertification is a major international problem that must be tackled by all of us and this is not a problem merely for those poor unfortunate nations, the most impoverished on the earth, just below the Sahara Desert which are constantly being eroded.
The continuing use of CFCs and halons is having an effect on the stratosphere as I have mentioned in relation to the depletion of the ozone layer. All these issues are world issues which we must address. They are not esoteric, remote and irrelevant to us. We cannot simply focus on our own backyard and be unaware of major international issues. When the UN sponsored international conference takes place in Rio next year the Irish position will be very clear because we are held in great respect by the international community because of our neutrality in the past, because we seem to be able to bridge the gap between the First and Third World and we are seen in many developed countries as  honest brokers, without any vested interests in terms of exploitation of the Third World, but in a genuine concern of common humanity to make this earth sustainable for its people into the future.
As legislators, we have a role and a mission in relation to these issues. Our mission is to fight for the restoration of the right to a clean and habitable environment and this Bill is an important step on the road to achieving that aim. There are many different decision making structures in our society in companies, in local communities, in voluntary organisations and in Government. Each of these organisations or structures make decisions which impact on the environment and any of these decisions must not be made by any one small group of individuals or by a single individual; it must be for the common good and after common debate. If people are to feel confident, and if they are to take part in the decisions that effect them, their environment and their future, they must have access to knowledge.
We are very fortunate to have a developed and refined education system. Many people have commented on the focus on environmental education, particularly in the primary schools, in recent years. I pay tribute today to the role of primary teachers and the drafters of the school curriculum in relation to the new awareness among young people, particularly primary school children, which is impacting on their parents and families and is educating us all to the demands for protection of our environment. There are many unsung heroes in our classrooms who should be saluted today. Information and knowledge are all important. I hope that access to all information, without equivocation, would be made available through this Bill.
I am concerned that in this country we have a fixation about secrecy. I want an assurance from the Minister that there is a public right to know, a right that will take priority over any other supposed vested interest of secrecy whether it is business, commercial or political. People have a right to know the content of the  water they drink, the land they walk upon and the air they breathe without equivocation and without hesitation. I hope that assurance can be given by the Minister today.
Another suggestion, touched upon by the Minister of State, is an often repeated falsehood of a conflict between jobs, job creation and the environment. I believe there is no such conflict. For proof I would ask people to look at those countries that have the best employment records, the best environmental standards and the lowest unemployment rates, countries such as Sweden and Germany. Conversely, if you look at countries that have the worst unemployment problems — I will not mention them — they generally have the weakest environmental standards, if any. A patent falsehood has been perpetrated for a long time that somehow there is a conflict between environmental protection and job creation and that if we impose stringent measures and standards we will frighten industry away or close down existing industries. We must be sensitive to the needs of the people but we should strive urgently for the best and not accept standards below those demanded in countries like Germany and Sweden. It is interesting to note that the same sort of argument is often put forward against the enactment of minimum wage legislation or equality of treatment for women. They always argue that these measures too, will militate against employment and frighten off industrialists or potential industrialists.
I wish to state clearly that no economic progress will be possible if our environment is destroyed. The Minister of State and Deputy Mitchell mentioned enshrining the principle of the polluter paying. That is obviously a very important principle. It is reflected in the Bill and it is one that is now enshrined in international agreements also. It must be unprofitable as well as unacceptable for anybody to despoil the physical environment. I am afraid it is often the case that it is seen that those who dump are never caught and if they are caught there  is a token fine that bears no relation to the real cost of cleaning up the mess or the real cost of the damage caused to our environment. I heartily endorse and support the notion of the polluter paying. It must be enshrined in the legislation and rigidly supported by the agency, once it is up and running.
Thanks to the people of Wexford and the people of Ireland we do not have a commercial nuclear industry here. It is important to state, on any legislation dealing with the environment, that we categorically abhor and reject Sellafield and the continuing process there, the potential expansion they have in mind for Sellafield, and the suggestion that THORP will come on stream next year providing reprocessing facilities for Europe and the world so that the Irish Sea can be a lane for traffic from as far away as Japan, bringing its lethal cargo to Sellafield within sight of the Irish east coast. That is a disgraceful rejection of the wishes of the Irish people and I call on the Minister of State to appeal to her Ministers in Government, particularly to the Minister for Energy who is a party colleague, to intiate legal proceedings against the British Government in either the European Court or in the International Court of Justice both of which would have suitable mechanisms to hear a case brought by the Irish Government against the British Government and British Nuclear Fuels Limited. The notion that they will store, in deep caverns a matter of miles from the Irish coast, deadly radioactive waste which would pose a threat to life for historical time periods in the future is mindboggling and totally unacceptable. I am taking this opportunity to again call on the Minister and the Government to resist in the most emphatic terms the deep underground dump proposal and the commissioning of THORP which will make Sellafield and Cumbria the nuclear waste bin of Europe and the world.
This Bill is a start for a broad-based integrated set of legislative measures which are required if we are to have an ecologically sound and an economically viable country. Those measures would  embrace a number of areas on which I will comment briefly. They would embrace the area of agriculture. In many aspects the use of the land is of crucial importance and significance to this country. In the context of the MacSharry proposals we see that there is huge over production in Europe and the the use of fertilisers and pesticides here and at the same time there is mass starvation and hunger in the southern hemisphere. That issue must be addressed by this Government in a way that is fair not only to the food producers here but to those who are struggling for life in the Third World.
The legislative framework about which I am talking needs to touch upon transport policy. The Minister of State has an interest in transport policy for this city in particular, a policy that will get vehicles off our roads so that people can choose to travel by public transport in the sure knowledge that they will have a safe efficient and reasonably priced system to bring them to and from work and places of entertainment, so that they will not have to struggle through endless traffic jams and choking exhaust pollution. The legislative framework needs to touch upon urban planning. Deputy Mitchell talked about the built environment. This legislation does not focus on that area. If we are to have a cohesive package this area must be focused on. There must be a clear policy for the development of cities and towns. That has not been set out in nearly enough detail yet. There must be a clear industrial policy that not only protects the worker in his physical environment but which protects the environment in relation to emissions from industry. Regard must be had to the location of industry and the juxtaposition of industry and people.
The framework must also embrace tourism policy. There is obviously great controversy in Deputy Carey's constituency in relation to the siting of an interpretative centre on Mullaghmore in the Burren. Issues like that must be addressed and the Government must have policies on them. We must preserve wilderness areas and balance the need for the development and promotion of  tourism with safeguarding our heritage that once damaged can never be repaired. Most of all such a legislative framework must touch upon consumption policies, on the way we look at materials which in recent decades we were taught to consume avariciously without regard for the future, without regard to where any product came from or without regard to what was happening to it once we threw it in our bins. We can have a waste management system in our cities and towns that minimises waste, with a mechanism for the best possible processing and recycling to follow on. That process has begun and I commend the Minister of State for the beginnings this year in relation to promotional pilot projects like “Kerbside”. “Kerbside” is the way to go. It is a much more successful policy than the installation of bottlebanks or aluminium banks or paper banks. People will separate material at home if they are trained and prepared for it. There must be investment and a fast expansion of that scheme nationwide.
I am only touching upon these issues that could take up Dáil time for the day. The Minister knows my views and the views of the Labour Party and I know she has a great interest in each of the areas upon which I have touched. I say “touched upon” to illustrate that we talk almost as if this legislation was our response to environmental protection and that we can then rest on our laurels. We have to do a lot more and a Minister for environment protection must do a lot more to develop an integrated cohesive set of proposals for enactment. Such proposals would have the support of the people.
This Bill provides for the establishment of a reasonably strong and independent agency with a range of responsibilities including environment monitoring, the establishment and the maintenance of data bases on environmental quality, the publication of environment information, the publication of promotional environmental audits and ensuring that Government Departments, State agencies and  local authorities carry out their responsibilities in the area of environment protection. There are clear enough objectives. However, the Bill as it stands has a significant number of flaws, notwithstanding the prolonged discussion on it in the Seanad and the 463 amendments proposed there. There are weaknesses and inconsistencies which could make the agency unable to carry out effectively and independently the functions we have set it. The Labour Party maintain that effective environmental legislation should ensure that policies, developments or actions are not merely environmentally acceptable but that policy makers, planners, proponents of projects and developers are made incorporate environmental considerations into their design concepts and proposals.
We believe environmental legislation should also be unambiguous and should apply automatically to all policies, programmes and projects which may give rise to significant environmental effects. Exemptions may be allowed but only for clearly defined serious reasons. Most important of all legislation must ensure early and effective public participation to allow the incorporation of the people's views and ensure the independence of decision making.
We will table a number of amendments on Committee Stage to ensure the maximum possible independence of the agency. Our aim will be to strengthen the agency to ensure it is truly representative, has the widest possible terms of reference and has effective powers to carry out the functions that we have detailed for it. The Labour Party believe that this agency must remain fully accountable to the people while at the same time fully independent of any invested interest.
I would like to take this opportunity to highlight briefly some of the inadequacies and deficiencies that exist in the Bill as presently drafted. The definition of “environmental medium” refers only to air, land, soil and water. It should also include landscape, habitats and certain aspects of the built environment consistent with the application of the planning laws, the Wildlife Act and the  National Monuments Act. The definition of “environmental pollution” makes no reference to the discharge of energy, for example, heat into the environment. Those subsections will have to be amended to ensure a more broadly based definition. The phrase “best available technology not entailing excessive cost” is used repeatedly in the Bill. The Labour Party accept the need to be pragmatic. Some would say that the Labour Party are always pragmatic but we are concerned however that this clause could be used by developers and the local authorities to undermine or circumvent the best intentions of the Oireachtas.
Section 39 inhibits proper freedom of information. I have repeatedly mentioned that the right to knowledge is fundamental to the success of any programme of environmental protection. Section 39 in my view inhibits proper freedom of information in that it allows the agency to declare as confidential any information or type of information. Such a declaration should be restricted to information necessary only for national security or for the protection of a particular manufacturing process or trade secret. We believe that written reports or oral hearings heard under the authority of the agency should available for inspection by members of the public and copies should be freely available from the agency. Such reports should specifically be included in the list or definition of information collected and held by public authorities to which any person has the right of access. This interpretation of freedom of access to information would be in accordance with the EC Directive on Freedom of Access to Environmental Information which, as the Minister of State has reminded us, will come into effect in December of this year and which guarantees — I quote the directive —“to any natural or legal person the right of access to any information on the environment collected and held by public authorities in exercise of their legal rights.”
Section 108 of the Bill allows the Minister for the Environment at his discretion  to make regulations requesting public authorities to make available to members of the public certain types of information on the environment. This provision is too vague and allows for the possibility that the regulations may prove to be extremely restrictive. We would like to see this section amended so that all information relating to the environment will be publicly available with exemptions to be specified under a restricted number of circumstances.
We are pleased to note that the Government have decided to follow in the Bill the procedure originally followed by Deputy Spring as Tanáiste in 1983, in the context of the Bord Pleanála enactment, for the appointment of a director general and others. This approach, too, is to be welcomed. It should be noted that the inclusion of this procedure is in stark contrast with the attitude adopted by the Government when setting up the RTE Authority or the IRTC under the Broadcasting Bill.
The Labour Party are concerned about the proposed funding of the agency. In each piece of legislation which goes through these Houses there are many aspirations or good intentions which very often at the end of the day are stymied by the lack of resources. In recent years we spent a great deal of time debating the Child Care Bill, for example, when everyone in this House made huge efforts to put in place a legislative framework containing the best possible procedures and protections for children. Most of that Bill has not yet been enacted and no resources exist to put it in place. That is a shame, if not a crime. Similarly, in relation to the Nursing Homes Bill no money is being provided to allow health boards subvent people staying in nursing homes. We repeatedly pass measures in this House and then refuse to give the financial wherewithal to enable effect to be given to the legislative procedures. I hope that will not occur with this legislation and I appeal to the Minister of State to assure the House that this will not happen. We have seen this all too often when the Government tightened the purse strings. What is also worrying  is that they use that economic muscle to punish an agency who trawl in information or touch on issues about which the Government are sensitive. Their response is to squeeze any such body. We have seen that in the case of RTE and the Broadcasting Bill and in the case of the Office of the Ombudsman where, literally, the Ombudsman had to make a public statement in relation to understaffing. I hope this agency will not go down that road, will have an independent budget and will be allowed to function independently of any pressure from any source whatsoever, especially from the Government.
The Labour Party believe that the Green debate to date has dealt solely with the waste and disposal end of the environmental issue. I have tried in my contribution to broaden the scope so as to see the environment as a total entity. We see the Environmental Protection Agency as the catalyst in sensitising the public to the broader economic environmental issues. Earlier this year the Labour Party published their own environmental policy which was adopted at our annual conference. Our comprehensive policy statement on the environment is entitled “All things are Connected”. It reflects the growing concern of many people about the state of our environment and the impact this generation is having on the environment.
There are many other issues in the Bill which I could touch on including the potential under sections 53 and 54 for the Minister to increase the functions of the agency and broaden their scope and to take functions from the local authorities and give them to the agency. We will examine all the provisions in detail on Committee Stage but let me say that I heartily welcome this Bill. It is the first step in a process I hope will culminate in a decade, perhaps longer, in a legislative framework from every Government Department which will put in place a scheme of protection for our environment which will protect and husband our natural environment for our children in the future. The environment document adopted by the Labour Party states:
 Humanity's relationship to the environment, the one world which we inhabit, must be based on the recognition of our total dependence upon that environment and of our responsibility to maintain and renew its riches and resources for future generations. In exploiting the vast riches of our environment to satisfy the needs of this generation we have an obligation and a duty to leave intact and/or to replenish those riches for future generations. This generation of humanity must not prosper at the expense of our children or our children's children.
Mr. Gilmore: I welcome the opportunity — at long last — to debate this Bill in the House. I welcome the Bill as comprehensive environmental legislation and the opportunity it gives us to debate environmental issues in a comprehensive way in this House.
As the Minister of State said in her opening contribution, the environment debate has moved on quite considerably since she first began the preparation of this Bill two-and-half years ago in the sense that it is now no longer sufficient that we pray to the environment, that we commit ourselves to very lofty aspirations in relation to environmental policy and then fail to meet them in practice in the many walks of economic, social and political activity.
I do not intend to criticise the Minister for the delay in the Bill being introduced in the House or indeed to embarrass her by reminding her of the many and varied deadline dates which she gave for the appearance of the Bill because I know that the Minister of State has been very committed to its introduction. I suspect that she has had many difficulties in bringing the Bill before the House. Indeed, we could serve a very useful role in the debate particularly on Committee Stage, in trying to give assistance to the Minister of State, not just in getting this legislation through the Dáil, but in encouraging her to further strengthen it and to address some of the inconsistencies and weaknesses in it, an aim which I have no doubt she shares.
 The Bill, while welcome, is a disappointment; it is a reactive Bill, it reacted at the time of its inception to a number of public controversies mainly relating to industrial pollution. It reacted too to the emergence at that time on the national political stage of environmental issues. It was conceived as a panacea to environmental concerns, the idea was that if an environmental protection agency could be established then everything in relation to the environment could be put right. The agency were somehow to be the answer to many of the environmental problems and issues arising in the community.
The Bill is a compromise between those who are concerned about the environment, those who wish to put ecological principles at the core of economic and political decision-making and those who see the environment as an “add on”, as some kind of an irritant that must be placated, something to be decided as an afterthought. It is out of that compromise that the principle of BATNEEC — best available technology not entailing excessive cost — has emerged, the classic compromise between the need to address environmental issues and at the same time pander to economic and industrial concerns.
The Bill is also a compromise, it would appear, between the Minister of State and her Government colleagues. No doubt, as the debate goes on, we will all become familiar with the concept of the BATNEEC principle. However, the BATNEEC principle which underlines this Bill reflects a principle in Government with which we are becoming more familiar, the BABNEEC principle — the best available Bill not entailing excessive compromise.
There are many provisions in the Bill which are welcome, it is to be welcomed that it has been introduced. It is to be welcomed that the Environmental Protection Agency are to be established on an independent basis. The method of selecting the directors and the director general of the agency is to be welcomed. The concept of the declaration of interests is  also welcome and indeed if these principles had been applied in relation to the appointment of directors to other bodies, some of the political difficulties which we experienced over the last couple of weeks might have been avoided. The establishment of an advisory council is to be welcomed although I question the size and representation of the proposed advisory council. The idea of integrated pollution control, about which the Minister spoke, is to be welcomed although the means of achieving it will have to be very seriously questioned and teased out. I am glad that the Minister appears to be taking into account some of the submissions which she has received in relation to the interface between the licensing procedure and the planning procedures.
The increases in fines are welcome and the gesture which the Bill makes towards good environmental policy and practices is also to be welcomed. However, the Bill falls short; while it introduces a number of good concepts in relation to environmental policy and practice it stops short in relation to their implementation. I have already referred to the BATNEEC principle. The idea of an environmental audit is introduced in the Bill but only in a way in which the agency can establish some kind of guidelines for it, there is no obligation on industry or enterprises to carry out an environmental audit. The same applies to environmental quality objectives, codes of practice, eco-labelling and access to information. They were all introduced as concepts but the wherewithal has not been given to implement them.
The Bill is full of good intentions with most of the right concepts which are acknowledged in it. The problem is that they stop at that. It is a frustrating Bill, reading it one is inclined to think on the one hand that all its provisions are great but then one is left wondering why we cannot go the whole way. In many ways the Bill has already passed its “sell by” date. The Minister acknowledged that since she began work on it the environmental debate has moved on; certainly it has. When the Bill was conceived it was  in the immediate aftermath of An Foras Forbartha and in many ways it is attempting to reincarnate An Foras Forbartha albeit under a different name. It was in the middle of the Merrell Dow, Merck, Sharpe and Dohme and Sandoz controversy that the idea of an environmental protection agency was seen as a panacea for environmental concerns. The idea was that if we had an Environmental Protection Agency public trust and confidence could be restored.
It is somewhat ironic that as we are debating this Bill in the House this week citizens in the city of Derry are preparing to take buses to travel to Leinster House tomorrow to protest at the siting in Derry, of Dupont, of a major toxic waste incinerator, a proposal in which the Minister for the Environment, Deputy Flynn, it appears, has had a very major involvement. That underlines what is happening here: We are debating a Bill which two and a half years ago was seen as the answer to all our environmental problems but which has not addressed the core problems relating to the environment. While it addresses the problems of pollution, and seeks to provide for some kind of pollution control, it does not address the core question of preventing pollution in the first place. It is probably more accurate to describe this Bill as a pollution control Bill rather than an Environmental Protection Agency Bill.
I do not propose to make a lengthy speech in praise of the environment. I want to address a number of areas where I think this Bill is defective. I want to highlight them not in any sense through a lack of generosity but to put down a number of markers for areas which I wish to see addressed during the Committee Stage. The first question about which I want to express concern relates to the philosophy underlying this Bill. It has been stated, and other speakers have spoken very lyrically about the fact that this country is relatively under-polluted. That is an acident of history. It is a fact that, unlike many European countries, this country was not heavily industrialised during the Industrial Revolution. It was not until recent years, in  the last 30 years or so, that we saw an intensification of agricultural practices and an increase in industrialisation and consumerism in this country and that environmental problems have come to the fore.
I regret that the approach which appears to be taken in this Bill relates more to the control of pollution than to preventing pollution in the first place. The Bill addresses itself to controlling pollution, establishing standards, licences for emissions and so on. It is regrettable that the Bill has not gone one stage further and addressed the prevention of pollution. In that respect the Bill is at variance with Government policy on the environment was announced in the environment action plan which was launched with great fanfare at the beginning of the so-called Green Presidency of the European Council. The environment action plan very clearly states that Government policy on the environment is based on the precautionary principle. There is a very big difference between applying the precautionary principle and the BATNEEC principle in this Bill. There seems to be a contradiction between the stated intentions of Government policy and the provisions in this Bill.
This Bill is, in many ways, a missed opportunity to put environmental considerations and ecological principles at the core of economic decision making in this State. It is a missed opportunity in that it could have set out how those principles could have been incorporated into economic decision making. There is not enough emphasis on waste elimination. Denmark, for example, is many years ahead of us in that the kind of legislation which is before the House now was introduced there 20 years ago. They have adopted a much different approach to waste management. They have certainly dealt with the kind of issues contained in this Bill, issues relating to licences for emissions, the location and management of landfill sites and the supervision of the standards which local authorities are expected to maintain in relation to the  disposal of waste. In their Waste Management Act, for example, they also addressed the question of reducing waste at source and they set targets for the reduction of waste, but those points, unfortunately, are not covered in this Bill.
The Minister may argue that the codes of practice, the environment quality standards and so on provided in this Bill will meet that requirement but they will do so only on a voluntary basis. It is a pity the opportunity is missed to introduce those concepts on a mandatory basis.
I have mentioned already the idea of the environment audit — this concept is introduced in section 72. The idea is that the Environment Protection Agency may promote and encourage the use of environmental audits and that they may set down guidelines and standards for them, but there is no obligation on any individual enterprise or industry to carry out such audits. That is in marked contrast to the position in the United States, for example, where toxic release inventories are now mandatory. It is ironic that many United States companies which locate subsidiaries in this State have to meet much stricter domestic enviromental protection and control requirements than they do in this State. We are selling ourselves short if we introduce the minimum standards and environmental legislation one sees in countries which have a worse environmental record and greater environmental problems than we have.
The very limited approach taken to the environment was referred to already by Deputy Howlin. He quoted the submission made by An Taisce and their concern about the inadequacy of the definition of “environmental medium” and “environmental pollution.” That is something with which I concur and to which I intend to return on Committee Stage.
I am also concerned about freedom of information. Again the Bill makes a gesture towards the principle of access to information. Section 108 enables the Minister to make regulations dealing with  access to information. I am curious about this section. This is the eve of the introduction of the access to information directive, but I have to wonder why we do not take this opportunity to introduce and give effect to the EC Directive on access to information. Why is it being wrapped up in an enabling section which at some time in the future will enable the Minister to make regulations governing access to information? Why can we not have a section which legislates for the right of the public to have access to environmental legislation? Such a section should give legislative effect to the EC directive rather than putting it on the long finger and dealing with it in the realm of “behind closed doors” where the Minister can make regulations which, of course, will not be subject to debate in this House. It is a matter of great regret that the regulations dealing with environmental impact assessments, which the Government had not introduced in a proper way but were forced to do so by the EC, were sent out in the post rather than being brought to this House for debate. It may be argued that at that time there was no environmental legislation before the House which would have enabled the regulations to be introduced. However, we are now discussing environmental legislation and I put it to the Minister that we have the opportunity now to give legislative effect to the EC directive on access to information. Why put it on the long finger and leave it for regulations to be made at some stage in the future?
The next point I wish to make in relation to access to information is that the gesture and fine sentiments on access to information sit very uneasily with section 39. This is a most remarkable section which commits the director general, director and employees of the agency to confidentiality. While there might be some case to be made for that I cannot understand why members of the advisory committee or of a committee or consultative group established by the agency are being wrapped into what virtually amounts to an environmental version of the Official Secrets Act. People  from environmental organisations or those with expertise in this area, consultants and so on, who will attend meetings and give their views will be bound by section 39 which wraps them in a cloak of secrecy. Access to information is an essential pillar of good environmental legislation.
If this Bill is to have meaning it is essential that we legislate properly for access to information. Let us consider the circumstances which gave rise to the birth of the Bill. The lack of trust which arose in Cork in relation to industrial projects had more to do with a loss of confidence in the local authorities and the State's institutions dealing with environmental matters than with levels of pollution. People lost confidence in the system and felt that things were being kept from them. The Bill unfortunately does not release that information. However, it is high time it did. In the past couple of days I read reports that the Minister for the Environment expressed concern at the levels of aluminium in drinking water. It is a pity, however, that he does not release the information available in his Department as local authorities are required to test drinking water under the 1988 Directive. This information has never been released to the public who surely are entitled to it. This Bill should enable the public to get that information.
I am concerned also about the degree of centralisation proposed in the Bill. Again, that sits uneasily with the Government's commitment to decentralisation and the lofty sentiments expressed during the course of the passage of the Local Government Bill which proposed to devolve all kinds of powers to local government. I accept and understand the need for an independent agency but a balance has to be achieved between independence and integrity on the one hand and the need for a degree of public involvement and democratic accountability on the other. I very much fear that the type of agency being established will be lacking in the area of democratic accountability.
 There is a danger in setting up an agency which effectively becomes a committee of experts and which is divorced from democratic accountability and public participation. I see a number of areas in which the Agency will lack that essential input of public involvement and democratic accountability. It is proposed, for example, to establish regional units but it is not clear if those regional units will correspond to the regional authorities, which we were told in the revised programme for government will be established by next March. It would appear that the regional units will be the implementing arm of the agency and it is a matter for concern that this is not at a lower tier, and lower than the existing local authority tiers which are under democratic control.
I am concerned about the possible removal of some functions from local authorities as proposed in sections 98 to 100, inclusive. I am referring to the powers which local authorities have under the water and air pollution Acts. Their powers to make water and air quality management plans could be transferred to the Environmental Protection Agency. I have no problem with the Environmental Protection Agency being involved in the development of these plans, in setting the standard guidelines which local authorities could use but I am concerned that the functions in the water and air pollution Acts would be transferred to the Environmental Protection Agency at the say so of the Minister for the Environment and taken out of the area of democratic control and accountability. That would be conferring on the Environmental Protection Agency powers which they do not need and which may conflict with their wider co-ordinating role and diminish the degree of public accountability and acceptability.
I am alarmed at section 15 which provides for the immunity of the agency. The agency can do no wrong and if they do wrong nobody can do anything about it because section 15 provides that:
No action or other proceedings shall lie or be maintainable against the  Agency or any body referred to in Section 44 or 45 for the recovery of damages...
In other words if the agency make a hames of it and do something wrong the public will have no comeback against the agency.
The public are effectively excluded from the environmental protection process by the effective abolition of an appeals mechanism for the issuing of licences for emissions and the right of appeal is effectively gone in this Bill. I wish to raise this matter later.
A further area of concern — the Minister referred to this and offered some glimmer of hope that the matter may be addressed on Committee Stage — is the separation of the licence application from the planning application; the Environmental Protection Agency will deal with licence applications and the planning applications will remain under the control of local authorities as at present. That would be a very unwise move. Virtually every comment I have heard made about the Bill has highlighted the inappropriateness of such a move and has pointed out that that would prevent the planning authority from considering an application in its totality and would separate the licence application from the planning application. A number of comments made in that regard are very clear. For example, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions stated: “Congress is concerned that the application of the licensing arrangements laid down in Part IV of the Bill could if divorced from the planning application process greatly delay and possibly discourage inward industrial investment in this country”. That is one way of looking at the issue. An Taisce, taking a different approach, is very emphatic in its statement:
“In An Taisce's view, the Bill is fundamentally flawed in its insistence on a licensing role for the proposed Environmental Protection Agency. While welcoming the introduction of an integrated pollution control licence. An Taisce considers that this  function should remain with the local authorities and that the Environmental Protection Agency should stand back from the actual process of pollution control licence permission or refusal”.
The Irish Planning Institute also make the point very forcefully:
“This Institute would not like to see the Agency taking over any of the licensing functions of local authorities nor the appeal functions from An Bord Pleanála. Our recommendations are that all licensing should remain the responsibility of the local authorities but that the Agency would have to be informed of all applications for licences. It would, where it is considered appropriate, prepare and publish standards that should be applied. A decision by a local authority could subsequently be appealed to An Bord Pleanála by the Agency, who would be given a general power to do so”.
The views expressed have dealt with the concern that the separation of the licensing application from the planning application could cause confusion and that it could also cause a conflict within the Environmental Protection Agency itself in that the same body that was setting the standards and making the regulations would also decide on them.
However, the most disburbing feature of that separation is that it would effectively eliminate the appeals procedure. At least under the existing system if a member of the public, or indeed an applicant, is concerned about a decision reached by the planning authority in relation to, for example, an air emission licence, an appeal may be made to An Bord Pleanála. Under the proposed system such an issue would go into the Environmental Protection Agency ab initio. The Environmental Protection Agency would make a decision and that would be the end of the matter. There would be no right of appeal, no second chance for a member of the public or an applicant.
My fourth area of concern about the Bill relates to the question of funding.  Many times we have experienced the establishment of independent bodies that are expected to resolve a whole range of problems, bodies that the Government starves of the necessary finance to do their job a couple years after they are established. That experience was witnessed recently in relation to the Ombudsman. It has been experienced repeatedly in the environmental area. There is a considerable amount of environmental information on the Statute Book. The big problem is that the bodies responsible for the enforcement and implementation of that legislation are not given the resources to do so.
Mention was made in the House earlier of the Derelict Sites Bill. I recall that when that legislation was before the House Members were told that there would be registers of derelict sites held by every local authority and that there would be levies on the owners of derelict sites. How many local authority registers have been completed? How many owners of derelict sites have had that site levied? Very few levies have been made, because the local authorities who have had the responsibility to implement that provision simply have not had the staff available to inspect derelict sites and put them on a register in the first place. The House has dealt with legislation on water pollution, and there have been instances in which local authorities and regional fishery boards have not had the staff to go out and police such legislation on the rivers and the lakes. The absence of funding would make any agency, no matter how well legislated for, redundant. The precurser of the Environmental Protection Agency, An Foras Forbartha, came a cropper itself when a Government decided that at a particular time they did not want an independent agency to deal with environmental issues and wiped out that body.
The problem with the Bill is that funding for the Environmental Protection Agency is too dependent on the whim of the Government. If the independence that the agency are supposed to be given and that is supposed to be conferred on the method of appointing directors and  so on is to be secured then it will be necessary to provide an independent, guaranteed means of funding the agency. Again, An Taisce have provided an interesting suggestion, that in line with the polluter-pays principle that we all talk about, a proportion of VAT or corporate tax could be set aside for funding the Environmental Protection Agency.
A fifth area in which I have reservations relates to concerns that have been expressed both by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and by some individual trade unions who represent staff who may be transferred to the Environmental Protection Agency. I do not wish to go into that subject in detail now, except to say that on Committee Stage I shall return to it because some concern has been expressed for the security of staff in the aftermath of the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency. That is a particularly relevant concern given the fate of An Foras Forbartha. I shall table several amendments in that regard when the Bill reaches Committee Stage.
Mr. Howlin: And we shall welcome them to Wexford.
Mr. Gilmore: As I mentioned earlier, the Environmental Protection Agency when first conceived, was seen as a panacea for environmental problems. The idea was that everything would be all right when the Environmental Protection Agency was established. That is clearly not so.
It is not enough for us to have fine aspirations and fine policy statements in relation to the environment, as the Environment Action Plan, published by the Government, so clearly is. It is not enough for us to express concern about global issues in relation to the environment; to talk about global warming, the destruction of rain forests, desertification and so on; to express, quite rightly, the relevance of those problems to the future of life on the planet as a whole and to our own wellbeing. We also have to understand the implications of all of those issues. The problems of the global  environment cannot be separated from the problems of global poverty. It is very easy for people in a relatively well-off country to express concern about the environment without taking into account the appallingly poor circumstances in which many people on the globe have to live, and it is sheer hypocrisy for this Government to protest their concerns about the environment on the one hand while presiding over a pathetically low level overseas development aid on the other hand.
It is ironic that we should be debating the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency and problems of the global environment on the very day the press tell us that the advisory committee on oversees develoment aid is to be abolished by this Government. In Western society there is a conflict between the lifestyles we enjoy — let us face it, lifestyles we enjoy because of the extent to which resources and other peoples on this globe are exploited — and our concern for the environment. Ultimately, if we are serious about addressing global issues of the environment we must address their implications for our standards of living and lifestyles.
For example, we must address issues like the peace dividend. After the end of the Cold War, with de-militarisation and the reduction in the arms race, we all expected there would be released resources which could be used to redress world poverty and, ultimately, the problems of the global environment. Even in this House there are political parties, Members who, instead of addressing the peace dividend, seem more anxious for us to become part of some new military alliance, lined up against some other new imaginary threat or opponent.
The problem of the economic issue and its implications has been raised, the apparent or perceived conflict between jobs and the environment. Every time an industrial project is proposed a conflict arises. Virtually every time a project of any kind is proposed which purports to  create employment a conflict arises, as practically every Member of this House will know. Every time projects are proposed there is, on the one hand, a jobs argument and, on the other, an environmental argument, however valid or invalid. We must progress beyond that point. There are implications in that conflict for our industrial strategy. For example, we must examine where we stand, particularly in the post-1992 era.
The issue of the environment is not separate or distinct from the economic considerations that must be debated by this House. For example, they are not separate from the indignity this country is suffering at present, nor indeed are they separate from the shame of this country at present in seeing so many of our young people having to participate in a sad stampede to Maryfield, Virginia to hand in hundreds of thousands of letters of application for Morrison visas. We must address how we will provide employment, a reasonable standard of living and future for our people, where we, as a nation, will fit into the European scene in the post-1992 era.
It seems to me there is a niche we should be seizing, that is in the whole area of clean technology, of building on the fact that to date this has been a relatively unpolluted country. We should be building on the green image this country had, recognising that this is the home of clean technology, of clean products. To do that we need not the kind of low or minimalist standards of environmental protection underpinned in this Bill, not the BATNEEC principle, we need high standards of environmental protection. We need also to incorporate environmental considerations at the core of economic decision-making.
While we debate this Bill, while we talk about balance in the environment — for example, the way in which the advisory council is to be established, the committee that is to be established to nominate the directors and director general of this proposed agency so that it be seen to be balanced, represented by people with environmental interests, industrial interests and so on — it is a  great pity that that same degree of balance is not reflected in the review body established by the Minister for Industry and Commerce on industrial policy. Not a single member of that body is representative of what one might describe as environmental interests.
If we are serious about marrying environmental and ecological considerations on the one hand with economic considerations on the other, if we are serious about sustainable development, it is not sufficient to tack on the environment as an optional extra in such economic decision-making; we must place it at the centre. In all of the fora where economic decisions are taken we must ensure that environmental considerations are at their core.
Mr. Browne: (Wexford): I listened with interest to the debate so far. It would appear that generally we are of one mind in endeavouring to ensure that our environment is protected in the future. Our fresh, clean environment is a very special attribute, one we must continue to preserve for the future. Additionally it is a major asset in so far as tourism, our leisure industry and the marketing of our food products from land and sea are concerned. All of these attract people and overseas investment here.
In the eighties public awareness of the threat to the environment was aroused in a significant manner with the advent of the ozone layer implications, the implications of global warming, the destruction of rain forests and oil spillages at sea. The appalling lack of environmental protection in Eastern European countries — as we discovered when the barriers came down — has heightened our awareness of the need to protect our environment globally, in particular, to ensure that this country retains its clean, green image, thereby preserving it as the type of country to be enjoyed by our children.
In Wexford we have been to the forefront of environmental issues over the past 20 years or so, beginning with the Carnsore nuclear plant proposal when the Government of the day — a Fianna  Fáil Government — wanted to establish a nuclear plant there. The protestations of the people of Wexford along with the remainder of the country, led——
Mr. Howlin: Ably led.
Mr. Browne: (Wexford):——to a decision being taken not to establish a nuclear plant here. Indeed my colleague, Deputy Howlin, was much to the forefront on that issue at that time when he was a young, vibrant teenager, with long hair — the hippie syndrome and all that kind of thing which he enjoyed immensely.
Mr. Carey: He still is young and vibrant.
Mr. Browne: (Wexford): In fairness to him and to most politicians in Wexford I would have to say that, as a result of the actions of the people of that county, there was not foisted on us a nuclear plant.
I might request the Minister of State present to encourage the Minister for Energy to take a keen interest in what is taking place in Sellafield at present, particularly the major concerns of those of us along the east coast. In recent weeks and months there have been meetings held in every local authority to protest at the proposed developments at Sellafield. For example, Dublin County Council, Wexford County Council, Wicklow County Council and all other local authorities have grouped together to take on the might of the British Government in their proposed development of underground nuclear waste storage and in regard to the potential dangers of all those proposed developments across the water. It is my belief that no country has any right to develop or expand a nuclear industry that will place at risk the health and welfare of an adjoining nation or nations. We here have a right to protest, as have our Government. Indeed our Government should be making stronger protests than are being made at present to the British Government, using the vehicle of the European Parliament, to ensure that the major developments  planned for Sellafield will not be allowed go ahead.
The health of people living along the east coast has been direclty linked to Sellafield. We have all seen what has happened following the major nuclear disaster at Chernobyl. God knows what might happen to people in Ireland if Sellafield is allowed to continue. They changed the name from Windscale to Sellafield but that did not lessen the danger to this country. The installations there are out of date and represent a danger to the health and welfare of our people. This Government are not taking on the British Government in regard to this problem and I ask the Minister to take a direct interest to ensure that the Minister for Energy and other Cabinet members take strong action. As a Fianna Fáil Deputy, I have been putting pressure on Ministers from my party to ensure that proposed developments at Sellafield are not allowed to take place. A number of protest meetings have taken place already in Wexford and they will continue to be held until the welfare of our people is protected.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I ask the Deputy to return to the Bill.
Mr. Browne: (Wexford): It is important to put on record the dangers to our people along the east coast. I do not apologise for that.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Deputy would be perfectly in order if he were to advocate that the Environmental Protection Agency should play a part in this.
Mr. Browne: (Wexford): I know the Minister of State is very concerned and will nudge the Minister for Energy about this matter.
I welcome the Bill. Some people will say it does not go far enough but it is important to have the Bill in place. I hope Johnstown Castle will be the focal point for the operations of the agency. Deputy Howlin has already announced that  Johnstown Castle is to be the centre of excellence and I support him in the hope that his announcement is correct. Naturally I should like to have made the announcement myself. Pioneering work in environmental protection has been carried out at Johnstown Castle over the past 20 years. The late Doctor Tom Walsh set up Johnstown Castle and many of the existing structures in relation to the protection of the environment. Work has been ongoing at Johnstown Castle in trying to find alternatives to the chemicals and pesticides being used by farmers. I urge the Minister to make sure that Johnstown Castle will be the centre of the Environmental Protection Agency.
The question of jobs versus the environment has become a major bone of contention. We must always strive to strike a balance in protecting the environment and providing jobs. We do not want jobs at any price. Industrial policy in the future must be developed in line with the type of environment we want. We are a country portraying the image of a clean environment and a green land and our future jobs policy must be linked to this image. The IDA and the Minister for Industry and Commerce are carrying out a review of industrial policy. It should not be beyond the bounds of possibility to link our jobs policy to environmental considerations. In Cork and other counties there have been major problems with new industries coming in without proper investigations having been carried out. The public have naturally objected. I hope this new agency will be able to tease out all the problems which might arise from the setting up of a new industry to ensure that no damage will be caused to the environment. We must be able to give assurances in this respect.
In Wexford we have the nicest beaches in the country but we have major problems in protecting them.
Mr. Howlin: From Dubliners.
Mr. Browne: (Wexford): We are very pleased to see people coming to stay for a day, a week or longer, but we should  like them to take a direct interest in maintaining the cleanliness of our beaches. Wexford County Council have spent a lot of money in providing bins and in buying a new beach cleaning machine. However, if one goes to the beach at night one finds it littered with nappies, cans, crisp bags and other kinds of debris. The beaches are covered with this type of material at the end of the holiday period. While people are welcome to avail of our facilities they should ensure that they leave the beach clean. The county council are not in a financial position to provide a daily cleaning service on the beaches. It is, therefore, important that people using the beaches should play their part. Visitors from abroad should be given a good example by Irish people.
Nowadays dumps are called landfill sites. In Wexford the official sites are covered over each day with clay and they are reasonably well kept but we still have the problem of unauthorised dumping. People must accept that illegal dumping cannot continue. The Government must ensure that increased moneys are made available to local authorities for the maintenance of dumps and the opening up of new landfill sites. In my county it will be very difficult to find a new landfill site when the present one is full. Nobody wants to live adjacent to a landfill site and we must be able to give an assurance that such sites will be well kept and well protected. We should consider new technology and new ways of getting rid of our waste. Much of it could be burned by individuals rather than left out for refuse collection.
Another area is agricultural pollution. Some would say that the major polluters here are farmers but I do no agreed with that. In the past five to ten years farmers have made tremendous strides in combating the problems of agricultural pollution. One cannot blame farmers for everything that is happening in the area of pollution at present because ten to 15 years ago the ACOT advisers, now Teagasc, were advising farmers to put on more fertilisers and to use more pesticides. There were all sorts of chemicals being advertised such as net nitrate, 10  10 20, and farmers were being encouraged to use them. Now, ten years down the road we are telling the farmers that this is not the way to go at all, that they should be going into organic farming and into different areas of farming. There has to be a happy medium. I know the Government have introduced for farmers grants to combat pollution but I do not think they have gone far enough. There is a very high cost, particularly for smaller farmers, in combating pollution. There is a need for money and it should be made available through the EC by way of greater grants for farmyard pollution control. Many farmers tell me that it is practically impossible financially for them to implement some of the pollution controls that are being recommended to them by farm advisers at present.
We should be encouraging more and more farmers to get involved in organic farming. There is a growing interest in natural healthy farm fresh food. I know the Government have introduced grants to encourage organic farming. However, everyone cannot get into organic farming. The major problem of organic produce is that it is far more expensive than the ordinary products produced by day-to-day farming. That is a disincentive because the housewife has a budget to stick to and cannot spend extra money on organic produce. I would like to see more farmers going into organic farming and that might make the produce cheaper. This is an area where the supermarkets and the Minister for Agriculture and Food could get together and possibly have some kind of special deal for organic produce because it would be in the interests of this country generally.
One might say that coastal erosion has nothing to do with the Environmental Protection Agency Bill but in the counties that suffer coastal erosion it is a very important issue. In Wexford it is a major problem with acres and acres of land being washed away yearly. I would like to see this agency take on board the problem of coastal erosion. Ministers of different Departments had control of it for a while but nothing has happened and the control seems to be switched from  one Department to another with no one taking responsibility. To implement a proper coastal erosion policy would probably cost about £25 or £30 million. It is a lot of money but it is a problem that must be tackled because it is having a major effect on tourism and on farmers who live along the coastline whose land is being washed into the sea on an annual basis.
I welcome the Bill. I am particularly pleased that our own county council in Wexford have been to the forefront in environmental protection over the last ten to 15 years. We have our own publication called Envirowex and on the front of it is a photograph of Curracloe beach with a sign that says “Find a bin or bring your rubbish home.” That is an important message to the people who come to visit our coastline.
We have set an example in the area of CFCs. We know that this gas attacks and damages the ozone layer. It is present in fridges and when they are abandoned and begin to disintegrate the gas leaks out. Wexford County Council have invested in equipment which enables them to siphon out this gas from the old fridges when they come to the tiphead. It is then collected and recycled for use in new appliances. That is just one of the areas that Wexford County Council is involved in in protecting the environment.
For a number of years we have had “Keep Wexford beautiful” projects where the local schools are involved in activities and at the end of the year major prizes are given out to schools in the different regions that come forward with winning projects. This is an important way to get the message to our young people in schools that our environment is important and that they as young people, the parents of tomorrow, should continue to respect and protect and have pride in their environment. Council officers visit the schools on a regular basis informing the students of the need to have a clean environment and requesting that they would participate in environmental projects and competitions. We have also had tree planting ceremonies in the schools, in the regions in the county itself. In areas  of planning we have introduced a booklet called Building Sensitively in the Landscapes of County Wexford. People planning new developments can come into the planning office and get guidance on how they can erect their building in line with what was in that area of the county over the years. I know that in some cases it has caused problems but generally it has been a very welcome document that has enhanced the whole Wexford landscape and its buildings.
The council has provided recycling facilities at the tipheads for the receipt of waste oil, car bodies, unwanted machinery, etc. In general Wexford County Council has provided a very valuable service in trying to protect the environment with a very small amount of money. That is why I say to the Minister that it is important that the local authorities will not be forgotten about by the agency, that they will still be the main enforcer of environmental protection within the county boundaries.
I welcome the fact that the agency will be independent so that we can get away from the situation which pertains at present where if a council gets planning permission the lobbying starts to put pressure on the politicians and the officials on one side to have the project go ahead and, on the other, to stop it. I would like to see this new Environmental Protection Agency totally independent, like An Bord Pleanála, so that when they give a decision they regard as the best decision it will be adhered to. Naturally there has to be a right of appeal but they will not be in a situation where a lot of pressure is applied by certain lobby groups.
I want to compliment the Minister of State, Deputy Harney, on bringing this Bill to the House. I welcome the Bill and hope that the Environmental Protection Agency will be located at Johnstown Castle, County Wexford, where they will be guaranteed first class accommodation and facilities. People should work together to protect our environment and at the same time ensure there is a direct link between industry and jobs and the environment. By working together we can  ensure that Ireland maintains its green and clean image, an image we can use to sell our products in Europe and further afield without fear of being accused of selling inferior products. I fully support the Bill.
Mr. Carey: In welcoming the Bill I have to say that it is somewhat belated. In 1989 Fine Gael introduced an Environmental Protection Agency Bill in this House and from what I have heard so far today it seems that most people accept that this Bill is just a rehash of the Bill introduced at that time by Deputy Shatter. Therefore, the unnecessary delay in setting up this agency seems to have been due to the refusal of the Government to accept the proposals put forward by the Fine Gael spokesperson at that time.
This Bill deals with an area which has a high profile. The Minister has been congratulated on bringing the Bill before the House and most people said it is not controversial. However, any environmental issues which arise in my constituency are most controversial. I wonder what is wrong with the Bill. There must be something seriously wrong with it when all sides, those pro and anti the green movement, are not protesting violently about it. From my experience, environmental issues generate a great deal of emotion. Nevertheless it is a tribute to the Minister that this Bill has not given rise to a lot of noise.
I read the debates on the passage of this Bill through the Seanad. It was disappointing to note that while the Minister accepted many of the amendments put forward by Fianna Fáil Senators she did not accept any from the Opposition Parties. I do not know how many amendments were accepted——
Mr. Dukes: They did not amount to much.
Mr. Carey: ——but I understand there were only a few.
I want to refer to the differences between the Fine Gael Bill and this Bill. The proposals in the Fine Gael Bill in  regard to the overall control of the agency were better. However, I suppose we have to deal with what is before us. I want to avail of this opportunity to criticise the proposals in this Bill relating to the organisational structure, staffing and funding of the agency. Because of the way the agency is being set up we will not have an opportunity to criticise their organisational structure in this House. This is deplorable. The necessity for such a procedure can be seen from the controversies which arose during the summer months. If democracy is to be seen to work we should be given the opportunity to voice our criticism in this House. The setting up of an environmental committee of this House, as proposed in the Fine Gael Bill, is very necessary. There has to be a link between the Oireachtas and the agency. However, no provision for such a committee seems to have been made in the Bill.
I wish to refer to the appointment of members of the agency. In this respect the Minister should have referred to organisations who have a definite interest in this area, for example, An Taisce and the CII. If hard decisions have to be taken in regard to the environment which will increase the cost of production for the CII, I find it very difficult to understaned how they will be brought on side if this organisation do not have an input at the early stages into the Environmental Protection Agency. I regret that the Minister did not avail of this opportunity to stitch into the Bill a provision in regard to the appointment of directors from the CII and An Taisce. I accept that the Minister has the best interests of people at heart, but this is not to say that future Ministers, no matter what party they represent, will be as amenable. This is why I would urge the Minister to review the provisions of the Bill in regard to membership of the agency. Even if the Bill referred to the people who can be on the panels, this would be a step in the right direction.
I wish to refer to the funding of the agency. This is one of the weaknesses of the Bill. To expect the current system to operate in favour of an agency which has already been found by the Minister for  the Environment to be superfluous is going too far. We know only too well how fond the Minister for the Environment is of slashing bodies which he believes cut across his area of responsibility. When An Foras Forbartha were dissolved many projects were left unmonitored. Protests about industrial developments and applications by the IDA were held up. An Foras Forbartha gave a very good service in this area. The Minister is going to rely on this establishment which will be funded by Government grants, approved borrowing and such fees and charges as they may collect through the provision of services or the performance of functions to set aside funds for this purpose. The agency may also accept gifts subject to certain conditions. That information is contained in the Department of the Environment's Environment Bulletin, No. 13, which, from the point of view of a man who comes from County Clare where piseogs abound, is not a very lucky number. Nevertheless, I suspect that gifts, fees, charges etc., would not be sufficient. I agree it is time some firm figure was arrived at to fund an agency such as the Environmental Protection Agency. For instance, in different states in America, the taxpayers realise how much money is going to education when they pay their tax bills. If there is to be a subsidy for private education you know what you will have to pay. In the same way the Minister for Finance must indicate how much is going to the protection of the environment because it has become such an important facet of Irish, national and international life. The percentage of income which will be set aside for funding an agency such as the Environmental Protection Agency should be illustrated. That should not prove to be a difficult task. In recent days we have been told that a model on the economy was drawn up in the Department of Finance when negotiations took place between the two Government Departments on tax reform. If they are able to get down to this detail in their computer models, surely they can draw up the simple solution I am advocating  about the allocation of funds to sensitive areas such as the environment which is essential.
If the allocations for education and other areas were clearly defined we would have a better response from taxpayers, who would believe that Government agencies are intent on delivering the goods. The Environmental Protection Agency, according to all sides of the House, is absolutely necessary; therefore, we would have wholehearted support.
I do not understand what is meant by the agency accepting gifts. Are these gifts to come from the Heinz foundation, the O'Reilly foundation or from international bodies in the food sector. I gave the Heinz foundation as an example because they are in food processing and there is a waste disposal problem involving bottles and other containers which are used to deliver their food products. Is that what the Minister is talking about? This would be useful only now and then when a company contributed, but it would not lead to any permanent employment in the agency. Perhaps the Minister would state how these gifts are to be arrived at, what are acceptable gifts and whether standards have been drawn up in the Department about them?
Further on in the Bill it is provided that the agency will establish regional environmental units through which it will perform its function in so far as is practicable. I have not read anywhere or heard in any of the contributions how “regional” will be defined. Will it mean regional as we understand in health boards? Will it mean the eastern region of which the Department of the Environment is very fond? Will it mean that regional will be defined on a provincial basis? Will it mean regional as in the proposals which the Progressive Democrats had in connection with local government reform or will it mean the nondescript committees — which do not function but are called regional committees — which are sent to Brussels for Structural Funds allocations? Will the regional environmental units be attached to those regions? That matter is vague  and needs to be teased out. Perhaps the Minister would give us some examples of her thinking in this area.
The Bill goes on to deal with integrated pollution control and licensing. We are told that the agency will have teeth to ensure that there is a proper balance between major developments and the environment and to prevent and minimise pollution. The Bill will provide for a system of licensing, monitoring and enforcing. Many people are concerned about how this would affect, say, agriculture where many difficulties are being experienced. I have heard appeals from other Deputies for a reasonable progression to point out to the agricultural sector the importance of environmental control. The danger in giving people such power is that there might be an effort to use the big stick. When the activities of the agency are under way the members of the committee should at least have recourse to meeting people in the IFA and in the other farming organisations to secure agreement and to point the way forward so that farmers would be properly educated about the aids and grants available to enable them to make those improvements.
In regard to the control and licensing system the Bill gives a definition of “noise” but gives no statutory definition of “smell”. Smell has been controversial in my own parish. In fact, I live opposite a very large pharmaceutical company called Syntex. When that company was introduced to the locality we were told about the environmental controls that would be put in place. In fairness, Clare County Council together with An Foras Forbartha worked very hard to ensure that the physical controls on waste matter were properly monitored. People went abroad to examine systems in other countries. When planning permission was given everybody was assured that the river would not be polluted by waste extractions but we were not aware that there would be an odour problem. This new phenomenon caused much concern. People were afraid there might be some toxic elements in the smell and they needed reassurance. I am glad to say  the company, Clare County Council, An Foras Forbartha and the agencies worked together for the elimination of this interference with the local environment. There do not appear to be any adverse effects. However, there was litigation before people were totally satisfied and a very small number of people took the case to court.
Pharmaceutical companies make a definite contribution to this economy, but in future when a pharmaceutical company is established smell should be properly monitored and the agency should have back-up information on how to tackle it. For that reason it is necessary for the Minister to have another look at the definition of “smell”. The legislation should contain some indication of the Minister's thinking in this area because spurious cases can arise and industrial development can be unnecessarily delayed unless an effort is made by people in this House. Here again we are going to rely on the judgment of the courts. That is not the right way to go about it. This House has the responsibility to pursue this matter.
Earlier speakers referred to access to information. People should be in a position to inform themselves. Will the Minister say how people can get access to the data bank in the Environment Protection Agency? I notice that according to the Bill there is to be public involvement in the licensing system, but what I really want to know is how people can get access to the information.
Section 109 of the Bill deals with an EC Directive to do with genetic engineering and a licensing system. This section seems to be totally out of place and I wonder why it was put into this Bill here. We should have a White Paper on this issue so that we could examine it in greater detail. The public would be interested in this area. While I appreciate that there might be conflicts and difficulties with other Bills, will the Minister, when replying, explain why this section was put in there and why the Parliament were not given an opportunity to discuss this matter?
 I am disappointed that the Dáil will only be able to debate any of these reports at five year intervals — this is covered by section 60. Will the Minister consider allowing the House to debate annual reports seeing that the environment is such an important area? The publication of an annual report would give us an opportunity to discuss problems. I know that other semi-State companies publish reports which are never debated here: Aer Lingus published accounts which were never allowed to be debated in this House. If some of the items in the Aer Lingus reports were properly debated, many difficulties might have been avoided. If environment related problems were raised by Deputies in the House, many environmental disasters might be avoided. We can always correct financial problems in semi-State companies such as Aer Lingus but we may not be in a position to correct environmental disasters. I hope the Minister will require the agency to report annually and to have those reports placed before the House.
A debate on these issues in the House would give us an opportunity to link up Departments. Because of the way the Environment Protection Agency is set up, there is total emphasis on the Department of the Environment, although the Department of the Marine, the Department of Agriculture and Food and the Department of Finance will also be involved.
We should consider the progressive attitude to the environment which prevails in Holland where Departments are closely linked. Environment protection in Holland includes such matters as Government policy on airports, land fill sites, reducing car use and agricultural policy. Their environment protection brief covers a wide variety of areas and the various Departments seem to dovetail easier than they do here. Here it seems the Department of the Environment have total control over environment protection, ignoring problems in other areas. For instance, last year the Minister of State introduced a Bill to deal  with pollution and control of rivers and lakes, yet this year there was a horrific report of pollution in Lough Derg. Action will not be taken on this because Clare County Council say the Department of the Environment should fund the research and the Department say the Department of Energy should get Bord na Móna to do something about it. The necessary report on the source of the pollution of the lake is not coming to hand. We need urgent action here. I had hoped for some integration of all the forces referred to in this Bill.
Mr. J. Higgins: I move: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”
I regard it as a singular honour to bring this Education Bill before the House this evening. This is a first in many respects not least of which is the fact that this is, to my knowledge, the first Bill entitled an Education Bill to be brought before Dáil Éireann. Indeed, the other measure bearing that title was the very worthwhile, radical and comprehensive Education (Ireland) Bill, 1919 which was introduced in the House of Commons. That Bill proved so controversial at the time that after its Second Reading it was abandoned; abandoned perhaps but certainly not forgotten. Neither has its lesson been lost on subsequent Ministers for Education. Since the 1919 experience even the most adventurous of Ministers has shied away from any attempt whatsoever to introduce a subsequent Education Bill.
I am particularly happy to introduce this Bill this evening because it is incumbent upon us, as we face into the 21st Century which is less than a mere nine years down the road, once and for all, to place our education system on a sound legislative framework enshrining what has developed in such a piecemeal and ad hoc fashion up to now while, at the same time, leaving the legislative scaffolding flexible enough to enable desired  and necessary changes to occur for the foreseeable future.
One of the remarkable features of Irish education at both primary and second level has been its marked absence of any legislative base. It is generally accepted that our present primary school system is founded on a letter sent by Chief Secretary, Lord Stanley to the Duke of Leinster in in October 1831. Apart from the Ministers and Secretaries Act, 1924 the only other legislation enacted in the sphere of primary education is the School Attendance Act, 1926 and subsequent amendments. Secondary education for its part derives mainly from the modest financing proposals in the Intermediate Education (Ireland) Act, 1878. The Agricultural and Technical Instruction Act, 1879 was the precursor of the 1930 Vocational Education Act, 1930. The Vocational education system, therefore, is the only system of education which has a contemporary and solid legislative foundation.
Changes, great and small, have been wrought over the years by ministerial directives and by hundreds and indeed thousands of circular letters. The introduction of free education with its welcome and far-reaching consequences, comprehensive schools, community schools, the replacement of the Intermediate Certificate with the Junior Certificate, the primary education review — everything that has happened, great and small — happened by way of ministerial diktat not alone without any legislation but without any of these momentous happenings reported to the Dáil in order to enable the elected Members to make recommendations, debate them or provide criticisms.
It is truly remarkable that the central instrument of social policy, the greater moulder of society, the education system, managed by a Department who have a budget of £1.3 billion should have absolutely no reporting process, no obligation and no accountability to the Dáil other than the inadequate and truncated Estimates debates. I want, therefore, to pay particular tribute to Deputy John Bruton for his analysis in 1990 showing that there  was a glaring deficiency in education which must and should be addressed by an education Bill. More than any other Member of this House, Deputy Bruton has been an outstanding pioneer of reform. His Dáil reform proposals are recognised by commentators and people outside this House as far-reaching, practical and long overdue. They have slowly gained grudging recognition by the parties in Government, Fianna Fáil and the Progressive Democrats, as an urgent imperative if we are to restore respect and credibility to the Houses of Parliament.
The introduction of television to this Chamber was the result of another Bruton crusade a few years ago which culminated in the adoption of a motion by the Dáil and the establishment of an all-party committee thereby making the televising of this House's proceedings, and indeed of the other House, a reality. I am delighted, therefore, that the Minister for Education's initial reluctance to accept the need to have an education Act was quickly laid aside and that she is now to publish in due course her own education Bill through the mechanism of a Green Paper and a White Paper.
In the absence of a clear statutory base the role and functions of the Minister for Education have been based on assumptions rather than on any clear definitions. Indeed, the authority of the Minister has no statutory base and the status and enforceability of all directives and circular letters issued by the Minister derive in effect from the fact that the Minister holds the purse strings. If one fails to comply, then one does not get the necessary finance to function. I have set out therefore, in this Bill to establish a comprehensive list of what I see as the statutory role, functions, duties and obligations of the Minister for Education. Section 4 of the Bill makes the Minister responsible for the provision of primary and post primary education to all persons of school age and for the supervision and implementation of education policy.
I have already remarked on the virtual absence, indeed non-existence, of legislation on education. The last number of  weeks has been a super-charged debate on the need for accountability at all levels in public life culminating in last week's debate in the Dáil. Education has always been a subject capable of exciting intense debate but it has become particularly so in later years because of the higher participation rate, structural changes, moves towards rationalisation, curriculum innovations, the ever increasing education competition and greater involvement of parents.
Responding to the need the print media have contributed by providing specialist correspondents well briefed, sharp, critical and constructive, providing thoroughly educative features and supplements to feed the growing national appetite. How ludicrous, therefore, that we have had absolutely no education debate in this House. I do not think anybody can seriously contend that the monthly Education Question Time lottery is a debate or indeed that the guillotined half hour to one hour Estimates debate give ample scope to do other than a cursory examination of the various elements of the Estimate.
The requirement in section 4 (c) of the Bill, that the Minister must bring before the Dáil each year a full and comprehensive report on all aspects of education within six months of the conclusion of the school year is one of the most significant features of the Bill. This annual report would include an evaluation of the Department's activities during the previous year, a statement on their success or otherwise in achieving their education objectives and the implementation of education policy. Again dealing with the different elements of the annual report to the Dáil, section 4 (c) (iii) builds in a statement on the unit costs in the different types of school. It is important that we have this regular appraisal of the essential running costs of the different types, sizes and categories of schools. It is particularly important at a time when capitation grants have fallen seriously into arrears and when parents of children at primary level have to dig deep into their own pockets to pay for  heating, cleaning, school equipment and other essential features of education. It is the absence of this annual unit cost statement that has led to the situation where free education and the free education scheme is being increasingly undermined and eroded by such daily impositions on parents. It is also important that the unit cost studies would pinpoint the need to grant aid at the appropriate higher rates those schools which have a higher technical content in their curricula as apart from schools where there is an almost total academic bias.
There is a quiet sense of satisfaction in the Irish education circle that Irish education standards are high. The recent OECD report on education in Ireland, however, emphasises the increasing importance of education and training for the vitality of the economy, employment and the entire process of national development in an era of rapid social and cultural change. The annual report to the Dáil, therefore, would contain comparisons with other European countries both in terms of a comparative evaluation of the schools system vis-à-vis schools in our European counterpart countries as well as comparisons, where possible, in relation to the standards and education objectives in equivalent examinations in those countries.
We are on the brink of 1992 with all its implications for Community cohesion and greater European integration. It is extraordinary that while major developments have taken place and continue to take place in the social and economic sphere there has been very little interaction between the education systems in the different member states. Of course there is contact between the Ministers at ministerial level — I acknowledge that. I also acknowledge that we have programmes such as the ERASMUS programme at third level.
Ireland should be the leading proponent of greater integration. By letting up the blinds on our education system, by offering ourselves and our education product to the outside examiners, we would be making a first significant step  to much greater and badly needed education co-operation and partnership. These are the core areas of the annual report to come before the Dáil; many other areas will, inevitably, be reported on and the Bill allows for this. However, the really important thing is that we have an annual report, that we thereby have full accountability, that we have an annual update on where we are educationally, how effectively the system is delivering the service, and where we hope to go in the coming year and years ahead. It goes without saying that it is absolutely necessary that this report is debated in full in the Dáil, thereby bringing the accountability process to its logical conclusion.
Section 5 of the Bill is essentially a series of enabling provisions defining areas where the Minister is empowered to make regulations concerning minimum standards to be attained in each school, also providing for the maintenance of funding for schools, recognition — and the withdrawal of recognition — of schools, the terms of employment of teachers and other non-teaching school personnel, the length of the school day, school terms and school year and regulating the rights of school boards and management in principle to grant additional holidays in certain circumstances. It is important that as much discretion as possible is given to local management in this area and, indeed, as many other areas as possible.
One of the glaring deficiencies in our education system is the virtual non-existence of a proper scheme of in-service courses and retraining for teachers. There seems to be an assumption that a teacher who emerges from a teacher training college after three years or obtains his or her higher diploma in education is like the camel, equipped for life with his or her pedagogical hump, fully competent to deal with the changing classroom demands for the next 40 years of his or her teaching journey through life. Of course one must recognise the efforts of the Department of Education to get in-service courses under way, but  these efforts are hopelessly under-funded, totally inadequate and very unstructured in the face of the massive need to retrain teachers in coping with the various educational demands. I am talking about the curriculum changes, curriculum designs, changing methodologies and pupil assessment.
The Minister for Education, therefore, has a clear obligation to set up a comprehensive scheme of in-service and retraining courses for teachers so that every teacher in every school in every part of the country can have regular access to such courses in his or her area, thereby recharging, on a regular basis, their educational batteries. Many of the frustrations of teachers, much of the feeling of being unable to cope and a lot of the clamour of teachers about increasing pressure and tension, would be greatly eased if a permanent scheme of retraining and in-service courses were in place.
The OECD Observer referred to the Irish teaching body as a competent but greying profession which is in danger of suffering from hardening of the arteries unless proper in-service training is put in place immediately. The OECD Observer said: “Ireland has a human capability to build up an outstanding in-service education. The main difficulty is the lack of appropriate structures and resources.” Section 5 (g), therefore, is the enabling provision which the Minister will use to the full to fill a major educational vacuum. Notwithstanding the introduction of the finest in-service and retraining in the world, there is an obvious need to allow voluntarily out of the system teachers who feel they simply cannot benefit from such courses and who want to go. There should be an ongoing early retirement provision to facilitate this and to rejuvenate the profession from the huge pool of young, able and highly motivated teachers who are in such ready supply.
Education has come to be increasingly couched in terms such as partnership and co-operation. Yet if we examine the vast majority of catchment areas in the country we will see that not alone is there no partnership or co-operation, there is, in  fact, intense rivalry and competition. Acknowledging the merits of competition, one nevertheless has to question why the various primary schools in a catchment area remain totally detached and insular with absolutely no contact among themselves and absolutely no contact in most cases with the second level system into which they pass their charges after sixth class. Equally, or perhaps more so, we should look at the situation in small provincial towns where you have the classic case of two secondary schools and a vocational school all enjoying parallel but separate independent existences with absolutely no contact with each other on an informal let alone formal basis. Indeed, in many situations these schools are very often locked in mortal combat for the scarce pupil numbers in the catchment area. Generally they provide the same range of subjects to children from similar backgrounds who at the end of schooling will sit the very same examinations. You have wholesale duplication and triplication while often schools individually are too small to enable adequate streaming according to ability range.
Section 5 (h) of the Bill allows for the recognition and provision of support for local education co-operation councils, as the Bill states “to facilitate local co-operation between schools, both primary and post-primary, and the sharing of improved allocation of resources available to all schools in particular areas”. I believe that such local education co-operative councils will provide a forum for dialogue where the management boards of all the different schools in an area come together and in the common interest of all their pupils openly discuss their common problems and experiences, where they can examine the possibility of pooling their resources and arrive at common solutions to their problems, where they can evaluate the need and effectiveness of the home school liaison programmes, where they can co-ordinate student exchange with other countries, where they can devise ways of giving more educational vitality to the very  expensive school buildings and equipment and resources which in most cases remain locked up and unused for 16 hours a day five days a week for entire weekends and for four months of the year, where again the schools can arrive at common youth programmes for the young people in the area and also put in place a proper structure for adult education. The areas of common interest and of common benefit are innumerable. However, one of its main priorities should be for everybody in the local education co-operative council to sit down together and look down the road to the future and devise a proper development strategy for education at all levels in its area.
The population projections at primary level are alarming. They indicate that pupil enrolment will drop from the current figure of 534,400 to 427,700, a drop of over 100,000 within ten years. There is a clear early warning system here for the post-primary sector. It is glaringly obvious that reduced numbers in school means increased competition for students leading almost to an education civil war at second level where survival will be the name of the game. It is patently obvious, therefore, that there must be rationalisation. Far better that such rationalisation should be the result of a process of mutual interaction and dialogue through the local education co-operative councils than by way of subsequent shotgun marriages. I had the very fortunate experience of being involved in a second level school which moved from a situation of intense competition through a period of educational courtship with the other schools in the catchment area leading to an eventual very happy educational marriage in the shape of a community school.
I am not, however, advocating regionalisation or new regional structures. I believe that we are simply too small in terms of population to set up new educational regions. However few they might be, each new regional authority would require their own separate  bureaucracy. The history of regionalisation in this country has not been a happy one.
One need look not further than the health boards — eight grossly overweight bureaucracies with their eight chief executive officers presiding over a hierarchy of programme managers, staff officers, assistant staff officers, superintendent community welfare officers, community welfare officers, clerical officers, assistant clerical officers and clerk typists. Huge resources are dissipated in administration while the actual services themselves are starved for cash. I see no reason why we should repeat the mistake in education. In my opinion the local education co-operative councils' proposed in this Bill would provide an easy local vehicle for the delivery of a better education service at minimal cost at local level, which is ultimately what we are setting out to achieve.
I want to place particular emphasis on section 5 (f) of the Bill. I believe that if you are to achieve education equality then you must discriminate favourably in terms of extra resource input to compensate for disadvantage; you have got to allow for weighted distribution of resources according to need. On the one hand, we are proud of the fact that the products of our education system can hold their heads high on any international education stage. This, however, ignores the fact that 10 to 15 per cent of the pupils at primary level do not derive benefit from primary education but actually leave school more demotivated and soul destroyed than when they crossed the school threshold in the morning. It is a scandal that with such a high proportion of school children unable to cope with the day-to-day happenings in the classroom remedial teaching is such a low priority that two-thirds of schools have absolutely no access whatever to remedial teachers.
Again, you cannot equate in terms of targeting of resources slow learners with a class of high achievers or children from huge ghetto-like low education interest areas, or indeed the children of travellers who are gaining exposure to education for the first time, with highly motivated  youngsters from areas with a long history of involvement in education at all levels. There has to be an acknowledgement of such social or intellectually disabling factors and special resources in the form of special pupil-teacher ratio, additional grants etc must be made available.
Again, research at post-primary level reveals that the curriculum is failing 25 per cent of the students and this certainly is not to assume that the other 75 per cent are being well served either. We aspire to but we certainly do not serve all the children of the nation equally. Equality of education provision is not the same as equality of education opportunity. As things stand, our education system simply fails to dispenses the educational resources of the nation equally and equitably as the Constitution requires. Emile Durkheim observed “Education transformations are always the result and symptom of the social transformations in terms of which they are explained”. This Bill, therefore, attempts to end once and for all the wasteful squandermania of so many talented pupils' abilities, to put an end once and for all to a situation where so many of our students come off the education conveyor belt and onto the education scrap-heap. We are attempting to put in place an education framework which will give full scope to the expression of the potential, the talents, abilities and skills of all the children of the nation.
The Bill also envisages a new relationship between the school and the social services outside. Social Workers, community welfare officers and community careworkers have considerable insight into particular domestic circumstances which could prove vital in the child's school performance. Again, teachers can often observe and detect in children in class some telltale symptoms of circumstances that need further examination at home. Yet, apart, from the early tentative start in home school liaison, there is absolutely no dialogue or exchange between schools and the social services.
In section 5 (w) I am proposing a greater usage of travelling teachers. How  often have we seen vibrant small schools go to the wall because a drop in pupil numbers led to a loss of a teacher, which in effect meant the loss of a subject? Drop French from the curriculum and students cannot go to university. Drop woodwork, as almost happened in Tuam last week, and you have lost your technical status.
Mrs. O'Rourke: It did not happen.
Mr. J. Higgins: There is considerable scope within and without catchment areas for exchange of teachers, for travelling teachers serving two, three and possible even four schools in the areas of technical subjects, modern languages, in the case of new subjects coming into other curriculum such as technology, for career counselling or in the area of remedial teachers.
Again, the Bill in section 5 (z) makes provison for the nationwide availability of the school psychological service as against the present unsatisfactory position where there are only two small pilot schemes for the entire country.
It is ironic that parents who are the only group recognised in the Constitution as the primary educators of the child should have been the least involved in the whole process up to now. The huge growth in parent participation has added immeasurably to the whole education process in the past number of years. The more I meet with them and see the input of parents at close quarters, the more I bemoan the fact that their central and vital role and expertise has been sidelined and wasted for so long. At present primary schools, vocational schools, community schools and comprehensive schools have boards of management with elected parents. Unfortunately, with rare exceptions, the vast majority of secondary schools do not have management boards. This Bill introduces parents' associations and boards of management to all schools. As well as increasing the number of parents from two to three, parents and teachers on the new boards of management will be enabled to hold  the Chairs on such boards. At present, particularly in primary level, the Chair is generally the preserve of the school manager.
Section 6 (2) makes provision for a pro rata parent and teacher increase on management boards in accordance with the size of the school. Fine Gael are strongly committed to the fuller and more vital participation of parents in education. We are pleased that the Fine Gael Vocational Education (Amendment) Bill which was introduced to the House earlier this year gave rise to a letter from the Minister for Education to each local authority urging them to retain one place for a teacher and a parent on every vocational education committee. While it is heartening that the vast majority of VECs responded positively to the Minister's promptings, nonetheless it would be better to have two parents and two teachers as a statutory right. The Bill defines the functions of the board of management among which is the drawing up of a school plan every four years with an annual update; the employment of teachers; grant-aid for the retraining of its teachers and the publication of the school's annual report to be made available in the local library and other public places.
The Austrian philosopher and scientist, Rudolf Steiner, laid emphasis on the education of “the whole child, the head, the hand and the heart”. However, a major feature of the existing post-primary curriculum in particular is the huge bias in favour of academic learning. A major injustice is done on a daily basis to those pupils whose skills, aptitudes and talents are not of an academic bent. Children's whole talents very often lie in the manual area, in creativity, enterprise, teamwork and initiative, and in a majority of cases these are poorly catered for in the present sechond level system. While there have been welcome initiatives in promoting alternative education — teachers and inspectors deserve tremendous credit for developing new subject areas — the system in the main however is still totally polarised between  high status academic learning on the one-hand, and low status alternative education on the other.
This Bill therefore proposes the setting up of a statutory curriculum review board consisting of 25 members. The board would consist of the main interest groups in education and would be based largely on the existing model of the NCCA. However, I have proposed an increase in the number of parents, both primary and post-primary, to two and I have also proposed bringing onto the board a representative of FAS. The board must undertake a curriculum review at least once every ten years and all its findings and recommendations must be brought before the Dáil and the Seanad. I would envisage as one of the earliest recommendations from such a board a complete re-orientation of the curriculum at second level to give far greater expression to vocatonal training and technical subjects and to end the academic imbalance and bias. Parallel with curriculum review, Fine Gael also propose establishing an independent examination board in this Bill. A vast body of expertise is locked up in the Department of Education in the persons of the inspectorate. The examination board, therefore, shall be constituted of a chief executive, and one inspector from each subject area.
It is beyond dispute that the leaving certificate as an orthodox examination can more than hold its own with the best anywhere in the world. However, I am strongly of the view that it is totally unjust that a 20 hour examination, essentially a written examination in mid-June, should be the only and final arbiter as to a pupil's educational attainments. I am strongly of the view that a school-based assessment should be an integral part of our public certificate examinations and section 9 (3) makes provision for this. This can be undertaken in several ways: by awarding marks for inhouse examinations during the period of study leading to the final certificate examination; or monitoring the student's performance in consultation with other students in the same subject area faculty; or a combination of both in  co-operation and in consultation with the inspectorate.
We are extremely fortunate here to have one of the finest teaching professions in the world, a profession which has shown its ability to change and adapt where resources are available. There is no doubt that the Irish teaching profession has the capacity to do a professional objective assessment provided adequate resources are forthcoming. One of the frustrations often attendant on the teaching profession has been the lack of promotional opportunities. School principals have often been appointed when in their twenties and thirties. Apart from the fact that this tends to close off promotional opportunities for other teachers and stunts upward mobility within the school there is the oft expressed desire by many school principals to revert to teaching again. However, if they do so at present they forfeit their principal's allowance. Section 10 (6) allows for boards of management to employ principals and vice-principals on fixed term contracts thereby allowing them to revert to a teaching role while retaining a percentage of their emoluments.
Since the publication of the Bill, section 12 has attracted a great deal of attention. It deals with the role of the inspectorate and the relationship between the inspectorate and the teaching profession. Over the years the role of the inspectorate has been undervalued and relegated. It is ridiculous that we have a mere 81 inspectors for in the region of 3,400 primary schools and only 65 inspectors for 800 post-primary schools. I want the number of inspectors greatly increased, possibly, even trebled. However, the role of the inspector should be redefined in clear unequivocal terms to that of assisting, counselling, advising and monitoring teachers performance. I want to see a situation created where the inspectors will be welcomed in the school as a resource offering primarily assistance and advice to teachers. I want to see the inspector perceived as a partner in education.
 Irreparable damage was done to the image, reputation and good name of the school inspector years ago, particularly in primary schools, when the finest of national school teachers dreaded the arrival of the inspector in the school, as one would greet the arrival of a mini-tyrant. It is true to say that the inspectorate are the true professionals within the Department of Education. We need to unleash and make available their talents. We need to resource them properly and avail of their expertise at every possible opportunity.
We have an extremely conscientious teaching profession but I am sure the teaching profession, and teachers' unions, would be the first to acknowledge that as in any other profession or sphere of life standards can and do occasionally fall below what is required. Section 12 (2) makes provision for professional retraining and further education where this arises. In the vast majority of cases the retraining will in all probability have the desired effect and iron out the problem.
I sincerely hope that the termination of the employment of teachers whose teaching remains consistently below acceptable professional standards, as enshrined in section 12 (2) should only be called into play on the rarest of occasions and after every other procedure has been exhausted. However, if the need is there, it should be called into play.
The periodic review of the professional performance of teachers will be welcomed by teachers in due course as the benefit of the integrated role of inspectors into education becomes more obvious. I would like to see inspectors reverting to a teaching role for one year in every ten in order to maximise his or her apreciation of the day-to-day operations and problems confronting teachers in the classroom. An indication of the lapse of the role of the inspector has been the failure of the inspectorate to produce an annual report for the past number of years. Section 16 (4) restates this obligation of the inspectors to produce an annual report dealing with the work of  the inspectorate during the relevant academic year. I envisage this report being integrated into the Minister's annual report and being brought before the Dáil in due course.
Section 17 deals with a range of special needs, such as those of the physiclly and mentally handicapped, adult education, distance learning techniques, the recognition and maintenance of a specific number of Irish schools, enhanced facilities for modern language teaching, the provision of nursery and pre-school places and the criteria for such schools which very often, unfortunately, operate at present as mere commercial ventures. I envisage the Minister being empowered to introduce regulations to oversee the operation of summer schools.
Section 18 makes provision for the teaching of religion in every school which is funded in whole or in part by the State. However, recognition is given to the right of parents or guardians to choose to withdraw their child or children from religious instruction if so desired. One of the kernel features of the Bill is the introduction of a code of discipline. I appreciate that the Minister recently issued guidelines to post-primary schools and that was very welcome. We also built in, as the ultimate sanction, the right of each board of management to suspend and expel students in the interests of the common good, if need be, for persistent breaches of the code of discipline in the school. Again, we hope this will be a rare occurrence but it is vitally important that it is built in as the ultimate sanction, safeguard and penalty if so required.
I am delighted to have had this opportunity to bring this Bill before the House. As everybody knows it is a daunting task to present an education Bill. One can look at a whole range of Bills from skeletal framework Bills to intrusive detailed Bills such as the 1988 education Bill in the United Kingdom which had in the region of 450 sections and took 360 hours to debate in its passage through the House of Commons. In this Bill, Fine Gael are legislating for education and we hope we are putting in place an education  system which will be accountable, equitable, democratic and, above all else, effective. In this Bill we have got the balance right.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): I would like genuinely to thank Deputy Higgins as Education spokesman for Fine Gael for the opportunity to have a debate on education in the House. We have had many such debates despite Deputy Higgins's remark that we do not have very many. Since I became Minister we have had legislation establishing new universities and legislation dealing with Thomond College. These offered opportunities for wide-ranging and discursive debate and gave us an opportunity to express our thoughts on education. I welcome Deputy Higgins's spunk in bringing forward this Bill.
Before we lose the run of ourselves and get caught up in all sorts of things, I wish to put on record my thoughts on the Bill. I am glad to have had the opportunity of participating in this debate. I am very disappointed with the Bill but not surprised. It is arid, arrogant and aimless. It lacks soul and sensitivity. It is arid because of its totally bureaucratic nature; arrogant because it was drafted without any consultation — which is extraordinary — and aimless because it contains no philosophy of education. It gives no clue as to what the Fine Gael policy on education is other than to indicate a Big Brother — I shall not say Big Sister — approach by the Minister and Department in relation to schools and teachers. One has to search carefully through the Bill to find any reference to a pupil and then mention is made only in relation to codes of discipline and expulsion. We are talking about education, about pupils, students and people in education, but the only reference to a pupil is, as I said, a censorious one in relation to discipline and expulsion.
One of the central issues the education system has to cope with and adapt to is change. This Bill is not about facilitating change. It is, in fact, about preventing it. In the absence of any clear philosophy of education in the Bill, its effect would be  to ossify the education system shackled by centralised bureaucracy.
The House will be aware that in October 1990, in answer to a question, the Taoiseach announced that it was the Government's intention to introduce a comprehensive education Bill and the necessary steps are now in train. The first step will be to issue a Green Paper — a discussion document — which will deal with all the major issues affecting education. The Green Paper has been drafted in my Department and will be published shortly. It will afford the opportunity for widespread and detailed consultation with all those interested in education — not just the formally constituted educational organisations but also individuals and anybody interested who feels that he or she has a contribution to make. I believe this process of open consultation and exchange of views is a vital prerequisite to any action leading to an education Bill and, clearly, this process was not addressed in the preparation of this Bill.
I can reinforce my point by drawing attention to a statement issued by the Teachers' Union of Ireland on the Fine Gael Education Bill. The Union registered “its regret that no consultations were held with teachers' unions before its publication” and said that such consultations could have aided the definition of a Bill responsive to the existing structural and educational situation while at the same time aiming at reform.
As recently as last week in my contribution to the confidence motion I said that I wished to bring about change in the education field not by diktat but through consultation and collaboration with all concerned. This approach has been a constant theme throughout my policy to achieve change in education. Examples of this approach are numerous. The Primary Review Body and the Primary Curriculum Review Body were representative of all the interests in primary and post-primary education. The reports of these bodies were published so as to allow for a wide ranging debate on the issues.
 Changes in the syllabuses at the junior level of secondary education have been introduced systematically over the past few years as part of the new junior certificate course. Those changes were not pulled out of the sky or out of a hat, they were introduced and proposed by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, established by me, and having among its membership all the educational interests involved in second level education. I pay tribute to Gemma Hussey and her Curriculum Education Board, the forerunner of the NCCA. This process will be continued for the remaining subjects at junior certificate level and it has now extended into the senior cycle. The NCCA recently made proposals in relation to the content and structure of the senior cycle in the context of the six year post-primary cycle being available to all who commenced their post-primary education this year.
Before submission to me, the NCCA's position paper on the senior cycle was widely disseminated and the views of the interested parties were obtained. I was glad, in those circumstances, to be able to announce that I agreed generally with the approach adopted by the council. I note, incidentally, that the Fine Gael proposals include the establishment of a Curriculum Review Board, presumably in place of the existing National Council for Curriculum and Assessment. Deputy Higgins did address that issue. However, I fail to see the point of that. In fact, I pay tribute to the NCCA, to the previous chairman — both in Mrs. Hussey's time and in mine — Dr. Ed Walsh, to the present chairman, Dr. Tom Murphy, and to all who serve on it.
The NCCA, the successor to the Curriculum and Examinations Board, have done tremendous work throughout the past few years. Credit is due to the chairman and executive of the council, to the members of the council itself and to members of its various committees, for their achievements over a relatively short time in the revision of syllabuses at junior cycle, at senior cycle — beginning now — and for their involvement in in-service  training. The Fine Gael proposals give scant recognition of the work of the Department and in this respect seem to be recommending change for change's sake.
The House will be aware that a major plank of my education policy is catering for the disadvantaged. In the allocation of additional teaching posts to schools serving disadvantaged areas, I decided that such posts should be provided in accordance with strict criteria so that all could see the basis for the provision. I arranged for discussions between the Department, managerial bodies, teachers and parents, from which emanated agreed criteria. I stress that from time to time I am asked about particular schools which were allocated a resource or ex-quota teacher for disadvantaged status. Two years ago when we received through the previous programme, the Programme for National Recovery— and now through the Programme for Economic and Social Progress— the allocation of those extra posts, I was determined that there would be agreement as to criteria which would then allow for the allocation of such posts.
Within the past two years I introduced an initiative to develop home/school links at primary and post-primary levels. That initiative principally related to the primary level, but is commencing this year at the post-primary level. This policy is aimed at improving contacts between the school and the home, particularly in disadvantaged areas, with a view to enhancing childrens' participation in education and helping to promote greater understanding and co-operation between home and school. The National Steering Committee, whose task it is to oversee the home/school liaison policy, is representative of all the interests involved both within and outside the education sector. There has been whole-hearted support and involvement by all concerned in this initiative and the outcomes to date are extremely encouraging.
Consultation and co-operation with all relevant interests have been a significant feature of the important measures I have taken to combat disadvantage. There  remains, of course, great scope and need for much more to be done. The following are some of the measures taken. Funding for the special assistance scheme for schools in disadvantaged areas has increased by 300 per cent; there are now 80 schools under the umbrella of the home/school links programme. Within the past three years 325 additional teachers have been authorised for primary schools in disadvantaged areas and for remedial education. The pilot schemes in two areas are being monitored and will be evaluated. In the present year 325 teaching posts were authorised in order to reduce class sizes in primary schools. At post-primary level 120 schools have each been provided with the services of an extra teacher to assist in aspects of disadvantage within those schools. To reduce the pupil/teacher ratio in post-primary schools a further 250 teaching posts were sanctioned this year. There are now about 1,000 teachers ex-quota for various curricula, remedial and other needs in post-primary schools.
To follow something said by Deputy Higgins, I have paid special attention — correctly so and with the agreement of all in the House, I think — to the involvement of parents in education. I have asked all school management authorities to take the initiative of having parents' associations formed in connection with their schools where no such association exists at present; so the Bill does not need to include anything about that. I also wrote to all local authorities involved in forming new vocational educational committees following the local elections asking them to arrange for representation by parents and teachers on the new vocational education committees. I was gratified at the response of the local authorities to my request — but not so in County Mayo.
Mr. J. Higgins: I was not involved.
Mrs. O'Rourke: I take this opportunity to thank them for their generous co-operation in this matter.
At national level I have ensured that parents are represented on all bodies and  agencies established in the areas of primary and post-primary education. I have instigated a formal consultative process in policy formation and implementation through regular meetings with the parent bodies. I have endorsed my complete commitment to the role of parents by guaranteeing Government annual funding to the National Parents Council in respect of both primary and post-primary education.
I mentioned those examples to emphasise the importance I attach to consultation with and involvement of all interests in developing education initiatives. It is simply not possible to achieve change in education without first striving to arrive at a consensus. I do understand Deputy Higgins's urge to change, which is laudable. I remember there being a parliamentary question, I think in the month of May last, about the need, as the Deputy saw it — and I share his view — to introduce a measure of assessment particularly at junior certificate level. I remember the Deputy wanted it introduced forthwith, more or less overnight. Whilst I said I shared the Deputy's viewpoint on the need to introduce such a measure of assessment, it is simply not possible nor would it be correct even if it were possible. I suppose it would be possible if one operated by way of dictat. But for one to go about effecting change in such a frenzied fashion would not be feasible and certainly would not be for the good of those within the education system, pupils, teachers or management. It may appear to be a long, laborious, sometimes tiring process to have constant consultation but the result is that one achieves a consensus. One achieves a meeting of minds and viewpoints on specific matters.
I know Deputy Jim Higgins taught for many years; I respect his professional involvement and strong record in that respect. I too taught for many years. I do not see education as a staccato arrangement under which one goes to bed at night, wakes up with a fine idea and endeavours to implement it straightaway in that fashion. It is simply not feasible to do so but even if it were it would be  entirely unreasonable and indeed against the best tenets of education which are that one effects change for the good by way of consultation.
I am glad to be given the opportunity to discuss education in the House at any time. Wild horses would not keep me away from this Chamber this evening while this debate takes place. I am so disappointed that Deputy Jim Higgins did not seek out relevant interests, that he cobbled together an Education Bill which so obviously bears all the hallmarks of the impetuosity of his party Leader. When he was spokesman on education for his party I found quite alarming — the most appropriate word I can use — the manner in which he would about his business. For example he would come in to the House and demand of me if I knew what was happening within regional education authorities in Andalusia; if I know what was happening in some other very remote place; and if I would please get the relevant report, copy it and indeed bring it in the following morning. I know I exaggerate somewhat but I do so merely to point out the absurdity of his methodology. The Deputy's party leader may very well have fine thoughts about other matters but they certainly do not invoke a response from anybody involved in education. It is a staccato-type approach. I know he is very keen that all his front bench spokespersons bring forward elaborate documents and Bills — that is all very good. We all engaged in that in Opposition ourselves. We were all very keen to bring forward policies, initiatives and so on. At the same time I must stress that one cannot approach educational issues with a sledge hammer.
This Bill has all the hallmarks of having been cobbled together at the last minute in order, in some way, to pre-empt the discussion document I will be issuing. I give Deputy Jim Higgins fair marks for having read his papers, on having kept his ear to the ground, on looking at television programmes and ascertaining what will be contained in our Green Paper.
 The notion that a matter as vital to Irish society as an Education Bill should be drafted without such a consultative process is anathema to me and simply makes no sense. Judging from the lack of reaction on the part of the various interests involved in education to the draft Bill I can only conclude that it really is not being taken very seriously. It is seen for what is is, an attempted political pre-emptive strike.
The general thrust of the Fine Gael Education Bill — it can hardly be described as a philosophy — is diametrically opposed to my approach. I am on record previously as stating that, in my view, the individual school is the most important element in the education process. It is what happens in the school — the Deputy said so in the House this evening himself — that ultimately decides the success or failure of our education system. For that reason the school must be given the responsibility of ensuring that a high quality education is made available to the students under its care. The management authorities of the school, whether primary or post-primary — in order to undertake this demanding responsibility — must be given greater autonomy to take decisions affecting the education of the children attending the school. Local responsibility, coupled with authority and accountability, is the key to the operation of schools in the future.
The movement towards greater autonomy for schools is a worldwide phenomenon. Paradoxically in almost all cases, including Ireland, the initiative has come from central governments. Central governments only can legislate for change, establish the statutory framework, set a national agenda for implementation and ensure compliance. Reliance on administrative controls and legislation to implement change could serve to encourage the attitude among schools of merely obeying rules. This is the antithesis of the robust independence and local judgment that should be the characteristics of a devolved system. To the degree that Deputy Jim Higgins's Bill is over-regulatory it would contrive to  stultify the education system, killing off initiative and creativity of schools and teachers.
I freely admit that, in the context of great autonomy for schools, the role of the Department of Education must change. There is a sense in which the total involvement of the Department in the day-to-day activities of school life has led to a greater dependency on the part of schools on a paternalistic Department of Education.
The rigidity and bureaucracy of the system must be broken down to release locked-in energies, initiative and creativity. Structures and management must become more flexible and responsive. As a first step, this means dismantling the over-centralised and bureaucratic administrative arrangements that Fine Gael, through this Bill, seek not only to perpetuate but to extend.
The essential task of a central Department is to lay down a national policy for education, to monitor overall educational development and achievement, to ensure that national standards are maintained and improved and provide the necessary support, financial and otherwise, to enable schools to play their part in providing high quality education and training for all.
A key strategy in the reform of the education system must involve pushing autonomy down to the school or college floor. This will require the establishment of clear central core values and rules as a framework within which practical autonomy takes place routinely. Schools need to be driven by just a few key values and be given plenty of space to take initiatives in support of those values, finding their own paths, so making their task and the outcomes their own. The dominance and coherence of the culture of an institution is an essential quality for success. The stronger and more positive the culture the less need for policy manuals, organisation charts and detailed procedures and rules. Detailed regulations do not allow management or staff to act like adults.
I have outlined here in broad terms what I see as the respective roles of the  Department of Education and of the schools. I have referred previously, in another forum, to the fact that there are tasks and services which cannot effectively be undertaken either at national level or at the level of the individual school. Such services would include school transport, in-service training of teachers, adult education and the provision of youth and sport activities. There is a need, therefore, for an intermediatory structure, locally based, between the Department of Education and the individual school for the delivery of services which are best provided in this way.
I have outlined here a clearly identifiable structure — the Department of Education, an intermediatory structure and the individual school. It is an indication of such an overall structure that is clearly lacking in the Bill before us this evening. Even worse, the Bill is peppered with ministerial regulations which would render school autonomy impossible and would emphasise even more than at present the sense of dependency on a monolithic Department of Education.
I find it very difficult to comment in any meaningful way on this Bill because of its lack of depth. By that I mean the disappointing negation of a statement of any philosophy of education within the Bill. Rather it was prepared by way of putting down on paper a number of issues in the education field, in itself laudable, then saying that the Minister of the day would have to make regulations on each of those issues. In that respect it is a simplistic document.
So wide-ranging a measure as an education Bill requires that its provisions be set within an overall framework of a philosophy of education. Without a statement of what the Bill considers education to be, and what it thinks are the aims of education, it is not clear what is the overall thrust of its provisions. The provisions must have a purpose and aim, must have an end and a laudable objective. We are not told at all what all of these rules, regulations are about. It is noteworthy that monitoring and implementation of policy are mentioned but formulation of  policy is not. That may be an omission on account of hasty drafting but the absence of clarity on the aims of education poses problems for the formulation of policy. For example, how does the Bill see the development of the different potentialities of pupils; where are those related to the pupil, as an individual, to his or her role in society; how does the Bill distinguish between basic educational purposes and the educational needs of working life? Nor does the Bill clearly set out the structures within which educational provision should operate.
The Bill envisages the Minister of the day being responsible for school property while at the same time, it refers to the due rights of ownership of school property. The position of owners or trustees is not at all related to the management provisions in the Bill, which provisions take a cavalier attitude to existing management structures. Currently, where management boards exist — as they do in the primary sector and in areas of the second level sector — the interests represented are those of the owners or trustees, the parents and teachers. However, representation of the owners or trustees — those who have established the schools and maintained them — are spoken of in the draft Bill as if by afterthought, under the heading of optional further representation, where they are included dismissively with “other interested bodies”. This does not indicate that any very profound thought has gone into the formulation of the proposals on management structures.
The provisions in the draft Bill governing teachers I can only describe as censorious. There is no broad vision of teaching as a profession with a need for well structured pre-service teacher education. I acknowledge that Deputy Higgins mentioned very strongly the provision of in-service training. The Bill concentrates on negative aspects such as the termination of teachers' contracts in certain circumstances. The use of the word “termination” elicited a very chill response. References which imply that  teachers need to be kept under surveillance at all times abound. This is not the kind of legislation which will support a committed body of teachers or encourage them to give of the best they can contribute. Again, in keeping with its general approach, the Bill sees teacher issues, such as performance, as matters between a centralised controlling Department and teachers and does not see a role for local management in this sensitive area.
The competence and commitment of teachers crucially influence the quality of education. An intelligent, well trained, imaginative and committed teaching force is vital to the success of any campaign for greater quality in education.
In Ireland, traditionally, teaching as a career has been held in high social regard and it has continued to attract people of the highest calibre and intelligence. Any erosion of the status, morale and general conditions of employment of teachers would undermine efforts at qualitative improvements in the system and bequeath a costly legacy to the future.
Deputy Higgins referred to the Education Bill in the UK. This Bill is a recipe for a Baker Bill. I was in the UK recently and talked to many people inside and outside education. They stressed the regulatory nature of the UK Bill and how it has manifestly contributed to a downturn in educational standards and morale and a general malaise. It is quite extraordinary.
Rigid bureaucratic, top-down forms of accountability as proposed by Fine Gael would seriously undermine the necessary exercise of professional judgment by teachers and have devastating effects on them. It would create a climate where the only reform that could be produced would be paper reform. The Bill refers to local education co-operative councils with only the vaguest indication of what such councils might be. It puts the onus on the inspectorate for examinations and at the same time would ask the inspectorate to be involved in massive reporting on individual schools.
I cannot consider the proposals on curriculum to have been properly thought  through. There is something odd about decreeing that curriculum shall be reviewed once every ten years.
Mr. J. Higgins: At least.
Mrs. O'Rourke: The curriculum should be constantly reviewed and evaluated. I thought the reference to every ten years was a misprint but then the Deputy mentioned it.
Mr. J. Higgins: Who wrote that for the Minister?
Mrs. O'Rourke: I write my own scripts. One would have thought that a curriculum review board would keep matters under ongoing review without needing to wait ten years. It is not clear how the ten years squares with the quadrennial reports to be made to the Minister of the day, nor is it clear why regulations regarding a core curriculum need to be picked out separately from general curriculum regulations.
The Bill empowers the Minister for Education to make regulations — and these would be statutory regulations, I presume — on such matters as parents' associations and codes of conduct. Yet it makes no reference to regulations about staffing levels, a matter which is much more appropriate to regulations by the Minister of the day.
The constitutional requirement on the State to provide for education sets the basis of the system as a partnership between local providers, communities and the State. The development of this partnership at all levels in the system is the key to future development. This concept of partnership is sadly lacking in the Fine Gael proposals.
Because the Bill has obviously not been thought out in any kind of detail, I would find it impossible to have any meaningful discussion on it. Of course, I am glad to be here talking about education. I understand fully here reasons for producing this Bill but they are opportunistic and political. For this reason I have no doubt the House will reject it.
Deputy Higgins made some interesting  points. He referred to eduction in the European context and I fully agree with the remarks he made on that matter. I also agree regarding the in-service needs of teachers. The Deputy said there were schools throughout the country that never had contact with one another. That is not true. The Deputy mentioned this in regard to primary schools within one catchment area. There is great interaction through quizzes, debates, games and so on; there is ever-increasing contact.
The Deputy said that the process of regionalisation has had an unhappy history throughout Europe and I wondered wryly, what had happened to the ideas put forward by the former Minister, Mrs. Gemma Hussey, in the Green Paper she published in 1985. The Fine Gael Party loudly applauded this paper and Deputy Bruton was enthusiastically in favour of it. I wonder what happened to her fine ideas. Perhaps they are lying on paper in some press in the Fine Gael rooms.
Deputy Higgins stated that remedial needs have not been addresed. A Fine Gael Deputy tabled a question to me today regarding remedial appointments. In the process of gathering information in the Department for the reply, we came across startling facts. There has been a huge increase in the number of remedial teachers in the years 1987-91 as distinct from what happened in 1983-87. Of course, there is an ongoing need for development and research and provision for the disadvantaged.
Reference was made to the downturn in population. There has been quite a downturn in the past six years but last year and this year births have been rising. In a few years time those children will be going into the primary schools. The idea that demographic trends are irrevocably downward has been shown to be incorrect. We await the full figures for this year.
I am glad to be here this evening on the occasion of the bringing forward of this Bill, but I regret very much the centralised nature of its provisions, the dictatorial way it was arrived at and the lack of any consultation process. The need for  such a process of consultation has not been addressed within this Bill. When I bring forward my Green Paper before Christmas I will engage in a complete discussion with everybody who wants to talk to me about it, and I do not mind how long it takes. Then I will formulate the White Paper and, following that, the education Bill. I thank the House for its attention and I look forward to further debates on the matter.
Mr. O'Shea: Ar an gcéad dul síos, ba mhaith liom an Teachta Higgins, urlabhraí Oideachais Fhine Gael, a mholadh as ucht an Bille Oideachais seo a chur os comhair na Dála.
I would like at the outset to compliment Deputy Higgins and the Fine Gael Party for bringing the Education Bill before the Dáil for debate. It is timely that against the background of the postponement of the publication of the promised Green Paper——
Mrs. O'Rourke: It is coming.
Mr. O'Shea: I am delighted to hear it, but one thing the Minister said frightened me a little and that is in regard to the timetable. She said she did not care how long the consultation took. I wonder how long it will be before we actually see the Bill — I am not inviting comment, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle.
Mrs. O'Rourke: Do you want a proper Bill or——
Mr. O'Shea: It is important that we have wide-ranging education debates in the House but, unfortunately, during my time here we have not had the opportunity to have such debates.
This Bill deals with first and second level only, and it is realistic to state — in the light of what the Minister has said, it is absolutely certain — that this Bill will not survive beyond Second Stage. The Bill addresses some important issues requiring urgent attention. In my view there is no issue in education today that  requires more urgent attention than discipline.
The Minister recently issued guidelines on discipine for second level schools. However, I believe the problem is a lot deeper. As I said to the Minister a number of times, I believe we need to have at least one school welfare officer in each VEC area. I am not trying to denigrate the substantial steps that the Minister has made with home/school links, but I believe the problem is a lot wider than that, and it is a growing one that requires urgent attention. By a school welfare officer I mean someone who would have a definite office, a definite administration, someone who would have the wherewithal to assemble representatives of the various statutory and voluntary groups that deal with family problems. I would see a situation where the children at first and second levels who had problems in terms of behaviour in school would be referred to the school welfare officer at a very early stage, as early as possible, and the problem dealt with where it really exists, that is, in the home. If the home situation does not allow for a child to develop in line with good social practice, unless the home situation is rectified the school cannot make up for what is lacking at base.
There is a small minority of children causing a very considerable negative effect in our schools. Here we should look at what I believe is central to many of the problems with bad behaviour in schools, that is, that failure and self-image are intertwined and anti-social behaviour is often the result. There are children, for instance, who can relate on a one to one basis but cannot cope with group situations. These children will express their inability to cope with being part of the class group by indulging in attention seeking, disruptive behaviour. Dealing with them can take a great deal of teaching time and a point is reached where their continuing presence in the classroom is a grave injustice to their fellow pupils.
There are many ways we can look at these children. Some of them can be quite intelligent but their home environment  and their background has caused them to develop in such a way that they are essentially survivors and, even though they are out on the streets or in areas of their home base, they see things around them in terms of survival. That can be a very narrow base. They do not develop a perspective. Their curiosity is not aroused in the general sense that opens the mind. This is why I believe these children require very special attention and very special attention has to come in a milieu that takes them outside the school a lot. For instance, if they live in a city they would be brought to the port area, if such exists, to the airport, or the telephone exchange so that they know how their community works and they are tied in to the positive aspects of their community because a lot of their lifestyle has developed very negative attitudes and they do not see the constructive side of our society.
The words “expel” and “suspend” are used in the Bill. These measures seldom solve the problem for the pupil involved because under our present system there is no help for troubled children if they are removed from mainstream education. We have at this time a number of remedial teachers thoughout the system, but the children who in my experience cause the discipline problem in schools can be quite intelligent and it is not remedial help they need but help to bring them to terms with society and to deal with everything around them in the most positive way.
The answer to this problem must lie in a recognition that the present resources for psychological referral and for remedial help in the very general sense are grossly inadequate. It may be an unpopular thing to say in the present economic climate but unless we begin to spend more money on these critical areas of need, we will never be able to describe our education system as adequate.
The type of service I am talking about would require a very low pupil/teacher ratio, indeed as low as one in some instances, with the necessary pychological back-up and interaction with the home. That is the area of discipline that  cannot wait for the education Bill. It is a matter that must be dealt with immediately. There is an urgency with it because it is becoming a problem that is growing all the time, and I believe there is an element here that we can lose sight of. What I am proposing in terms of providing a school welfare officer — at least one in each vocational educational committee area — is a cost effective exercise. I believe this system would be successful to a very considerable degree. If we succeed in remedying anti-social tendencies in young people at an early stage we avoid the situation where those anti-social tendencies, had they been allowed to develop, would have resulted in a very large cost on the community because these children who could loosely be described as emotionally disturbed, the same children that cause many problems in our schools, tend to gravitate towards crime on leaving school. I know we cannot generalise here, but I would suggest that this argument is valid in substance. If these children are put on the right road to a constructive way of life they will do less injury to people and less damage to property. In addition, there would be an immediate saving to the State in terms of not having to put them into custodial care of whatever type and a reduction in the use of Garda resources. If we do not address this problem now — I say this in all sincerity and with a great deal of concern — we will have to deal with major problems over the next decade which will require a great deal more resources. Aside from any legislation we may be discussing in the context of this debate, I appeal to the Minister to deal with this problem and to make substantial provision in the Book of Estimates which will enable us to come to grips with what I believe is the greatest problem in the educational system at present.
I welcome the assurance that the Green Paper will be published by the end of the year. If we do not see this paper by the end of the year we certainly will not see it between Christmas and Easter, the period during which the teacher conferences are held. The Green Paper will  afford us the opportunity to have a national debate which, if it is an open and honest one involving all the people concerned, will make a profound contribution to every facet of Irish life. It would be tragic if this debate was dominated by vested interests.
There is much to be preserved in our education system but we must not be afraid to examine and analyse every aspect of that system. First and foremost, we must restate the values we cherish as a society. The values which underpin our nation must also underpin our education system and they must be clearly stated in an education Act as part of our philosophy on education. If we are a nation which cherishes honesty, integrity, compassion, tolerance and social justice, then this debate will afford us an excellent opportunity of saying so and of building on those values in perpetuity into the consequent White Paper and finally the Education Act.
Equality of access to the type of education which the individual needs is, of course, the fundamental plank of any education Act in a just society. It is a vehicle by which the less well off in society can escape the poverty trap. At the end of the day education is about the development of a person to the fullness of his or her potential and not just a response to the demands of the marketplace.
The Bill does not deal directly with another area which I consider to be of great importance, that is the place of the Irish language in our education system. A major part of the debate on the Green Paper must deal with the Irish language, not just in the education system but in terms of its place and value in our nation. The first question which must be asked is whether we should continue to put very considerable resources into the preservation and restoration of the Irish language and, if so, our reasons for continuing to invest these resources in preserving our national tongue.
As someone who is committed to the Irish language, I believe the result of a  real debate would be to stimulate intellectual life and greatly enhance the national self-image. There has been a great deal of hypocrisy in relation to the Irish language. There has been a knee-jerk response and an elitism which has alienated many people from the Irish language. A full and frank debate on the Irish language would bring the message home to people that we are not just part of an Anglo-American culture but rather a people with a rich and unique culture and heritage of our own.
The inherited attributes which make us a distinctive people do not dwell in the Gaelic culture alone. Many elements go into what is Irishness; we have literature in two languages which ranks among the best in the world, a unique approach to life, we have our music, folklore and craftsmanship. I should like to make the point here that while the Primary Curriculum Review Body recommended against the introduction of a European language at primary level I strongly believe that if we neglect to do this we will be seriously disadvantaging our children in a developing Europe.
Events of recent weeks have highlighted a very basic problem in our national life. People have been encouraged to look at the figures who dominate our commercial and industrial life as the saviours who will bring about solutions to our many problems. Recent revelations have exposed the feet of clay in the golden circle and an age old lesson has been starkly demonstrated. Each and every one of us has a real contribution to make in terms of solving our problems and the problems facing the country. The veneration of the golden circle has reduced the self-image of many and consequently our national self-image. The debate on the Green Paper affords us the opportunity of restating our pride in being Irish and developing our self-confidence to challenge and overcome our difficulties. That spirit of national renewal is there to be cultivated and nourished as a positive force. It is the spirit which must permeate our education Act.
The first principle of good teaching is to be clear on what we want to teach.  The putting in place of structures and their funding without first having a clear and comprehensive philosophy on education is putting the cart before the horse. Education is about people and enriching people's lives; it is not just about providing structures. The structures and funding must serve the people, not the other way around. We must also concern ourselves with enhancing job satisfaction for teachers. The present situation where job satisfaction is low and many teachers are burnt out is all too prevalent. It is also necessary to give a meaningful role to parents in the education process. There is a need for flexibility between the various sectors in education and mobility of teachers between those sectors.
I want to refer to an issue which has been dealt with both by Deputy Higgins and the Minister, that is centralisation versus decentralisation. County committees of education are probably the bodies most appropriate to our system. Of course, autonomy within schools is necessary. One of the difficulties I have with the new Regional Colleges Bill is that it seeks to centralise authority in the Department of Education. Regional technical colleges have been the success story of the past two decades and the Bill which will come before the Dáil shortly, particularly section 5 and part of section 7, will give the Minister statutory power to prevent particular courses from going ahead. Under section 7 the Minister may, by way of letter, instruct the new governing body of the RTCs, to cease a particular course or service and the college must comply.
I am particularly proud at the progress the Waterford College have made in terms of providing degree courses. Legislation will be brought before the House and when the Bill is passed the Minister of the day can effectively curtail the growth of the colleges.
Mr. S. Barrett: A Cheann Comhairle, I thank you for affording me the opportunity to raise this matter on the Adjournment and with your permission, I would like to share my time with Deputy Deenihan.
An Ceann Comhairle: Is that satisfactory? Agreed.
Mr. S. Barrett: Industrial action by courts staff is now in its tenth week and has effectively brought the work of the District and Circuit Courts to a standstill. The Civil and Public Service Union have now applied to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions for an all out picket. If this application is successful the country's legal system could be thrown into chaos. I understand that the claim in this dispute was lodged 16 months ago and up to today there have been no substantive discussions because the Minister, and his Department, have refused to go into the issues involved.
The dispute centres on a claim by the union that their members have been asked to deal with an increased workload and accept greater responsibility as a consequence of increases in the jurisdictions of the District and Circuit Courts. I am aware, of course, that any upgradings would cost money. I suggest to the Minister that if the current lodgment fee and search fee in the County Sheriff's office, which were fixed in 1963 at 35p and 37p respectively, were updated to current money values, the extra revenue would meet the cost of the upgradings.
I am concerned that there is insufficient awareness of the seriousness of this dispute and the potential serious consequences for our system of justice and the commercial life of the country. It is imperative, therefore, that this dispute be brought to an end immediately. The Minister for Justice has a responsibility to ensure that an efficient and adequate courts service is provided. He is also  responsible for industrial relations with staff employed by the Department of Justice.
I would like to outline to the House some of the effects of this dispute. First, applications for grants of probate and administration are not being processed outside the Dublin area. Second, applications for bar extensions for special functions cannot be heard by the courts, likewise, annual applications for renewals of publicans' and hoteliers' licences and transfers of licences are affected. Third, solicitors involved in house sales and conveyancing cannot check whether a vendor of a property is in a position to sell and consequently, house purchases and sales are being delayed. The fourth effect concerns time limits. Certain time limits are imposed for taking legal action. In the absence of documents being stamped the time limit may run out for some litigants, that is, of course, because their claims will become statute barred. Similarly, time limits apply for appealing a judgment of a lower court to a higher court. The fifth effect of the dispute is that new civil claims of any kind are not being processed; and the sixth is that in most parts of the country outside Dublin no jurors have been summoned and no list of cases printed for Circuit Criminal Court cases. This means that the parties to a case, witnesses and so on, will not know until the last minute whether their cases will be heard and, if so, when. The seventh effect concerns the range of functions clerical officers and clerical assistants are refusing to perform such as processing of appeals from the District Court to the Circuit Court and from the Circuit Court to the High Court, to act as a court registrar, to process judgment papers, draft orders, civil bills, endorsement of driving licences and disqualifications. It is clear from what I have said that if this dispute is allowed to continue the courts of this land will be brought to a standstill.
Mr. Deenihan: The background to the present dispute in the Circuit and District  Court offices is that the union representing the 270 or so clerical officers and clerical assistants, the CPSU, requested a number of upgradings for these officials and recognition of the fact that the jurisdiction of the courts has recently doubled. Initially, the Department offered 42 upgradings which was later increased to 62. This was not accepted by the union. The union reduced their claim to 79 upgradings from 120 at the time of the breakdown of talks with the Minister.
An Ceann Comhairle: I am sorry to tell the Deputy his time is exhausted.
Mr. Deenihan: The consequences of this dispute did not seriously impinge on the public perception until the courts commenced two and a half weeks ago.
An Ceann Comhairle: The time has come to call the Minister of State to reply.
Mr. Deenihan: I appeal to the Minister of State to react promptly.
Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Mr. N. Treacy): I would like first of all to express our deep concern, at the disruption to the courts, resulting from the industrial action currently being engaged in by clerical staff; in the courts offices, who are members of the Civil and Public Service Union. I would like to assure the House that every effort was made on our behalf by officials of our Department in the course of discussions with the Civil and Public Service union, to avoid this action.
The stance adopted by the officials in the discussions was a most flexible and conciliatory one, notwithstanding the refusal of the union to suspend industrial action during the discussions. However, after lengthy talks the union on 10 October refused to accept our offer of an increase of almost 50 per cent in the number of upgradings previously offered.
Following this refusal we expressed our disappointment at the attitude of the  union to what was by any standards a reasonable and generous offer and we stressed that officials of the Department were available at all times to meet with the CPSU and tonight I again appeal to the members of the union to resume normal working arrangements.
There has been contact between both sides in the dispute today and I believe the best prospect of an early resolution of the dispute lies in continued contact between the parties. I hope that the contact currently prevailing will continue and will prove fruitful. I am sure the House will appreciate that in the circumstances the less I say here today the better the chances will be of settling the dispute.
I would like to put it to the House that it would not be helpful or conducive to good industrial relations to conduct negotiations across the Floor of this House and I hope that Deputies on all sides would share this view.
Mr. Deenihan: The dispute can be settled for £7,000.
An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Deenihan should desist.
Mr. Moynihan: A Cheann Comhairle, I thank you sincerely for allowing me the opportunity of giving expression to this important matter. I ask that one minute of my time be given to Deputy Sherlock.
An Ceann Comhairle: Is that satisfactory? Agreed.
Mr. Moynihan: I rise to give expression to the anger and concern of elements in the community, local authorities and others, on the growing volume, and absolute explosion, in the number of caravans, mobile homes, vans and so on, that can congregate on public roadways and on some private and public property.
The tragedy is that, heretofore, people who lived in caravans were in need of  rehousing but this is no longer the case. Many of those on the roads at present have left houses and others are adequately housed. To demonstrate the reckless and irresponsible nature of some of those people I will refer to two incidents which occurred in my area recently. A week ago eight or nine luxurious mobile homes invaded the CIE property and took up residence there, seriously inconveniencing bus passengers. They ignored pleadings from the company officials and the local authority until an injunction was secured. When the injunction was granted they moved to the precincts of a local housing estate.
Four weeks previously there was a huge invasion of a football playing pitch by a substantial number of people with caravans, jeeps, trucks and so on. Again they refused to answer any appeals to go and after about a week or ten days an injunction was successful in having them removed. They left behind a trail of damage and destruction costing the landlords concerned in the region of £3,000 to restore the grounds. It is clear that many of these people believe they are above the law. Unless we urgently introduce some adequate control the interests of the community and the local authorities will not be protected.
It is well known that local authorities have become involved in huge amounts of expense nowadays to preserve car parking facilities and amenity areas close to towns and cities from being invaded by these people, so that they can be used by the general public. The actions of these travelling people in the main are irresponsible and reckless and we should introduce legislation to provide realistic control in a situation that is rapidly getting out of hand.
The outcome of the High Court action was that neither local authorities nor the Garda could move such people in the absence of halting sites. However, it is impossible to provide halting sites for the volume of travellers on the road today. The provision of halting sites depends to  a major extent on the goodwill and co-operation of local communities. This co-operation was there before the High Court action. Great progress was made by every housing authority in housing these people. We have now gone into reverse and we will require legislation to ensure that local authorities and the Garda can provide security and safety so that people for whom they are responsible can have confidence in them.
Mr. Sherlock: I thank Deputy Moynihan for giving me the opportunity to speak on this issue which is a major problem in Cork as well as in Kerry, particularly in the north Cork area where we have had it for all of this year. It is not easy for the local authority to implement by-laws because of the court's insistence that an alternative site must be made available. I would ask the Minister to set up an agency to take this matter out of the hands of the local authority. The problem at the end of the day must be resolved by the provision of halting sites. It would be difficult for the local authority to provide halting sites because of pressures brought to bear on them. Even though a 100 per cent grant is available from the Department of the Environment to the local authorities halting sites are not being provided in most areas and therefore we have this major problem. The transient families, the smaller groups, are not a great problem and that problem could be resolved easily enough but the larger groups who are travelling and trading in a big way are causing this great problem and we should make every effort to help to resolve it.
Mr. N. Treacy: I can assure the House, that where breaches of the law, such as the illegal parking of caravans or mobile homes, come to notice, they are dealt with appropriately by the Garda. It is a matter for the Garda to enforce the law in such cases in the same way, as they do, when any other breach of parking or  traffic law, is detected by them. I should explain, that in order for a parking offence to be committed, the person or people concerned, must have parked on a public roadway which has been so designated by a local authority. No breach of the parking regulations, or indeed any other road-traffic-related regulations, or by-laws occurs unless the vehicles in question are parked on a public road. Vehicles parked on a piece of ground, which is either privately owned or used by a public organisation such as a local authority, health board, IDA etc., are not committing any offences, under the parking laws or regulations.
The question of removing caravans or mobile homes, from private property is a civil matter and as such, it would not be open to the Garda to intervene. In such circumstances, it would be open to the owner of the property, to seek a court injunction, to have the trespassers removed. The serving of court injunctions or other court documents, is also a matter for the owner of the property, or his agent, and the Garda have no function in the matter. However, I understand that, if requested, the Garda will attend the scene to prevent breaches of the peace, or the commission of any other criminal offence, which could arise.
As I have already said the enforcement of the law, in relation to the parking of caravans and mobile homes is a matter for the Garda. However, I should finally add that any question of change in the law controlling such parking would be a matter for my colleague the Minister for the Environment.
An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Pat McCartan has given me notice of his intention to raise the matter of the consideration to be given to granting a pardon to Nicky Kelly in view of the new evidence that has emerged on a recent  RTE programme. Deputy McCartan knows the procedure very well.
Mr. McCartan: I thank you for the opportunity to raise this important and personal issue with regard to the case of Nicky Kelly. I have known Nicky Kelly for a long time. I was his solicitor at the time he was before the Special Criminal Court charged with the offences that led to his conviction. I did not share his political opinions at the time of this trial and I do not share them now. However, I have always doubted the validity of the conviction against him and as the years have passed I, and many other people representing a wide range of political and legal opinions, have become more convinced than ever that he had been the victim of a serious miscarriage of justice.
The recent “Today Tonight” programme has focused attention on the Kelly case once again. Most of the material in the programme was familiar to those of us who have followed the case over the years, but it did have the value of bringing most of the important material together and it provided further new forensic evidence which cast further doubt on the confessions which Mr. Kelly is supposed to have made, and I believe that the case for action on the part of the Government is now unanswerable.
I have had a long personal and professional involvement with Mr. Kelly in this case. The developments in the case have caused a lot of surprise, dismay and anger on my part. I was shocked when, perhaps as the first outsider, I met him in the cells of the Bridewell Garda Station on the morning after his being charged. He was visibly shaken and clearly showing injury. I was surprised on reading the book of evidence which was served against him and which showed only one substantial piece of evidence, namely his statement. I was curious when his original co-accused, John Fitzpatrick, was never tried, as the same case existed against him and he admitted, in his alleged statement, being in Kelly's company at the time and  at the scene of the crime. I was shattered by the final ruling of the Special Criminal Court which as a fact, by way of implication only, found that Kelly had beaten himself or had had his injuries inflicted by his co-accused. My dismay was compounded by the failure of the Court of Appeal and of the Supreme Court to vindicate his innocence, though the same Court of Criminal Appeal had in the meantime found the two co-convicted people who were detained and questioned in similar circumstances as having been subjected to oppressive questioning, and ruled that their convictions had been obtained in unacceptable circumstances. I was relieved when, with another, I talked Kelly from the brink of death in the Curragh military hospital when on hunger strike and I was heartened when he was exhorted to pursue legal remedies before the courts, though shattered yet again when a stopper was used against him on the basis of the Denning ruling in the now discredited “appalling vista” judgment. The “Today Tonight” programme offers us a new opportunity to end this blight on an otherwise reasonable history of our legal and justice systems. The only real remedy available now which should be extended to this man is that the Government should recommend to the President the granting of a pardon along the lines recommended by Judge Martin.
Mr. Gregory: I thank Deputy McCartan for allowing me a few moments of his time. Like Deputy McCartan I have known Nicky Kelly for a long time and like Deputy McCartan I am asking that a pardon be now granted to Mr. Kelly.
I was involved in the Release Nicky Kelly Committee and campaigned vigorously while he was in Portlaoise Prison. Indeed, I raised his case in this House at length when he was on hunger strike in the Curragh Military Hospital. At that time very few Deputies were prepared to publicly support his case. Today all that has changed; Deputies from all parties  right across this House are prepared to publicly support the view that a serious injustice was done to Nicky Kelly and that he should now be pardoned.
The parallels with the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four Cases are clear. I believe the Minister should have the moral courage to accept that a serious miscarriage of justice is involved in this case. It is my view that a full pardon is now the only satisfactory way to resolve this case once and for all.
Mr. N. Treacy: As the Minister for Justice made clear in the House today in response to a number of questions on this matter, the position with regard to RTE's “Wednesday Report” programme of 9 October regarding the conviction of Mr. Nicky Kelly is that the advice of the Attorney General has been sought on the various issues raised by that programme. The Minister for Justice also made it clear today that in those circumstances it would not be appropriate for him to comment further on the case in question. I do not propose to depart from the position now other than to say that the Minister for Justice will be guided by the advice of the Attorney General in regard to whatever steps are appropriate or are required to be taken as a result of the matters raised by the programme.
As mention has been made of the Martin Committee it might be helpful to the House if I outlined the committee's recommendations. The committee's terms of reference were, in part, to examine whether there is a need for a procedure whereby persons who have exhausted the normal appeals procedures can have their cases further reviewed and, if so, to make recommendations as to what procedure should be provided and in what circumstances it should apply.
In brief, the committee recommended the establishment of an independent body with statutory powers of inquiry to examine cases where substantial doubt as  to the propriety of a conviction has arisen but where the normal appeals procedure has been exhausted. The committee considered that any such case would first be examined by the Attorney General who would decide whether the case warranted referral to the inquiry body and who would advise the Government accordingly.
The function of the inquiry body on the referral of a case would be to inquire into all the available facts and circumstances surrounding the conviction. It would then express its opinion as to whether doubt existed as to the propriety of a conviction. Following that, it would then be a matter for the Government to decide whether action should be taken and what action was appropriate in any particular case.
It will be clear that these recommendations raise important issues concerning the respective functions under the Constitution of the Executive and the Judiciary and they are currently under examination. Any proposals arising from this examination will be announced in the normal way in due course. The concern of the Minister for Justice is to ensure that the scheme that is put in place to deal with issues of this kind is the right one.
I would remind Deputies that Mr. Kelly's civil action is still before the courts. The matter of alleged ill-treatment to which he has referredis sub-judice and in these circumstances it would not be appropriate for me to make any comment.
Mr. Nealon: I want to draw the attention of the Minister for Social Welfare to a particular difficulty in the carer's allowance scheme as it affects the parents or carers of adult mentally handicapped persons. I do so on behalf of a number of parents in the Sligo area who belong to the advisory committee to the North Western Health Board on services for the  mentally handicapped. This is not the usual complaint about the carer's allowance which, as the Minister knows very well, deals with the stringency of the means test. Indeed, I was very glad to hear the Minister say last week in this House that he was looking at that matter. I hope he will be able to come up with some solution, in the context of the budget or otherwise, which can ease the situation. The concept is excellent but the results are very limited. The problem I am addressing on behalf of the parents and carers of adult mentally handicapped persons is one I think the Minister will be able to resolve. Under the regulations, as presently interpreted, if an adult mentally handicapped person is away for any part of the week, even for a few hours on one day at a day care centre, the parents or carers are no longer deemed to be full time carers and they are thus not eligible to quality for the allowance. I know of no group of people who are more dedicated, self-sacrificing of time and energy and committed that the parents of mentally handicapped persons. Not only do they take on the difficult work of caring but they also organise, fund raise and agitate for better facilities. They try to make provision for the day they will no longer be able to help. I am sure the Minister will agree that they deserve the help and praise of everyone in the community. One great help of extraordinary value to the parents is when the person they are looking after can go, even for a limited time, to a day care centre or a workshop. This enables them to relax for a period, to recharge and to get out to do a variety of things but this very factor, even for half a day on one day of the week, means, on the present interpretation of the regulations, they are no longer full time carers and no longer eligible to qualify for the carer's allowance even if they satisfy the means test.
In the North-Western Health Board area two thirds of all adult mentally handicapped persons are being cared for in their homes. In Cloonamahon and  elsewhere there are some excellent day centres and workshops where they can go on a daily basis or for more limited periods but if they avail of this the parents who have them for the rest of the period at weekends and at night, are no longer considered to be full time carers. I know the Minister is a considerate and caring man and I hope it will be possible for him to find a solution to this problem.
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The Deputy has raised the position of adult mentally handicapped persons who attend day care centres or workshops. I want to make it quite clear that once those people are in receipt of a disabled person's maintenance allowance their carers will qualify for the carer's allowance provided they themselves satisfy the means test. If the Deputy has any particular case in mind I would be very keen to get the details of it and to look into it but I would like to assure him, from my position, that is the situation. As I said, if the Deputy would like to bring a particular case to my attention I will follow it up. I am checking the situation in any event.
The carer's allowance which I introduced last year provides a direct payment to people on low incomes who provide full time care and attention for incapacitated social welfare pensioners and recipients of disabled person's maintenance allowance. At the time the scheme was introduced the allowance was payable to people who were providing full time care and attention to social welfare pensioners aged 66 years or over or to recipients of invalidity pension or blind pension regardless of their age. I improved the scheme last July by extending it to cover carers of recipients of disabled person's maintenance allowance and persons getting a pension from another member state of the European Community or from a country with which Ireland has a bilateral social security agreement. In addition to the extension, the maximum weekly personal rate was  increased from £45 to £50 with effect from last July.
The carer's allowance is the first step in recognising the situation of carers on low incomes and providing them with an income maintenance payment in their own right. The total number of persons currently in receipt of the allowance is 3,585. The estimated cost for this year is £7.8 million. Current claim trends indicate that about 25 per cent of applicants who have not been awarded a carer's allowance are in receipt of another social welfare payment at a higher rate.
 As I said at the outset, I generally would consider that the carer of a person who attends a workshop should be included provided that person is in receipt of a disabled person's maintenance allowance. I will certainly pursue that matter but, as I have said, if the Deputy has any particular case in mind, I will have it investigated on receipt of details from him.
The Dáil adjourned at 9 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday, 23 October 1991.
20. Mr. Taylor asked the Minister for Justice if his attention has been drawn to the serious and increasing problem of drug pushing which is taking place in areas of Tallaght, Dublin 24 (details supplied); whether arrangements will be made with the appropriate Garda authorities to bring this appalling situation under control; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): I am informed by the Garda authorities that a specialist unit consisting of five gardaí was set up in September 1990 specifically to tackle the incidence of drug dealing in this area. In addition the area concerned receives ongoing attention from Drug Squad personnel, from normal Garda patrols and from the neighbourhood gardaí who are assigned in a full-time capacity to these estates.
The Garda authorities are satisfied that the measures taken to counteract this activity have proved quite successful. There have been a considerable number of detections for drug-related offences; many of these cases are in fact currently before the courts. These measures are continuing and the Garda are monitoring the situation closely.
The Garda authorities have assured me that the matter is being kept under review and that any further action that may be required to tackle the problem in this area will be taken.
21. Mr. Barry asked the Minister for Justice if he will introduce legislation in relation to the confiscation of property of people found guilty of attempting to import arms; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): A Bill to provide for the seizure and confiscation of the proceeds of serious crime  and the prevention of money laundering is in the course of being drafted. I hope to have the Bill circulated in the current session.
23. Mr. McGahon asked the Minister for Justice if, following the murder of Thomas Oliver and the public threat by the IRA to a person living in the Cooley Peninsula of County Louth, he will outline the measures he proposes to take to increase the Garda presence in this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): The Garda authorities have informed me that the strengths at Omeath and Dromad Garda stations are being increased by three members and one member respectively with effect from Friday next.
I am also informed that additional Garda patrols, including detective personnel, have been operating in the Cooley area in recent times. Where appropriate the Garda patrols are accompanied by units of the Defence Forces. I am further informed that extra patrols will be assigned to the area as resources permit and having regard to overall needs.
The brutal murder of this decent hardworking family man has — perhaps more than many others in the long list of atrocities for which the IRA has been responsible — produced not only widespread revulsion within this community but also a realisation that the threat they pose is directed at each and every one of us and at the institutions of this State. It is of the greatest importance that we now say to them, loud and clear, that we will not be intimidated by their bullying terror tactics. They must be left in no doubt that they will never succeed in their aim of destroying this State and its institutions, that we support and will co-operate with the forces of law and order and that we utterly reject their attempt to tarnish the very idea of co-operation by applying to it terminology which is not only completely out of place and out of date, but, in fact,  amounts to a gross distortion of the truth. The truth is that co-operation with the forces of law and order is what every public-spirited citizen should see as his or her duty. Unless we reject the intimidation tactics applied by the IRA and continue to support the forces of law and order we play into the hands of the cowardly criminals who took unto themselves the right to slay Tom Oliver.
24. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice if his attention has been drawn to the serious concern which has been expressed to prominent public representatives in Britain and Northern Ireland concerning the affairs of a company (details supplied) in liquidation, and in particular the fact that no prosecutions have been initiated in this jurisdiction in relation to the matter; whether any Garda investigation has been carried out or is under way in regard to this company; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): I am informed by the Garda authorities that the case of International Investments Limited in liquidation, was the subject of a full Garda investigation and that a file on the matter was referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions who directed that there should be no prosecution.
Concern in relation to losses sustained by depositors in International Investments Limited is of course something that is widely shared.
25. Mr. McCormack asked the Minister for Justice when the proposed work will commence on the refurbishment of Galway courthouse.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): The building in question is one of a number of courthouses throughout the country which require renovation. Because of the limited availability of financial resources, priorities have to be established between  the different courthouses requiring attention. Until the Estimates for 1992 are finalised, the programme for 1992 cannot be settled and I cannot indicate at this stage what priority can be given to the courthouse in Galway. I will continue to keep the matter under review.
26. Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Justice when he intends introducing legislation to establish a court of civil appeal; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): There is a commitment in the Programme for Government 1989 — 1993 to establish a new civil court of appeal. My Department are preparing proposals for the necessary legislation and the final proposals will be announced in the normal why when they have been considered and approved by Government. I hope to introduce the necessary legislation early next year.
27. Mrs. Fennell asked the Minister for Justice if he has established the promised committee to examine and make recommendations on the family mediation service; and if he will outline the names of the members of the committee and the terms of reference.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): I expect to appoint the review committee very shortly. I will announce the membership and terms of reference at that time.
28. Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Justice if he intends amending the law in order to deal with the continuing problem of domestic violence; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): As the Deputy will be aware the Family  Laws (Protection of Spouses and Children) Act, 1981, contains important provisions to protect wives against domestic violence. In 1987 my predecessor circulated a Bill to make certain changes in that Act which had been requested by women's organisations — the main change being to enable a protection order to be granted separate from a barring order. That Bill was not proceeded with because the organisations which had campaigned for the change had second thoughts about the particular amendments proposed.
Certain proposals for amendment to the 1981 Act were made by the Law Reform Commission in their report on child sexual abuse. I am considering these recommendations and will consider any other proposals for changing that Act that may be made to me.
I hope to publish shortly a criminal evidence Bill which will deal with the competence and compellability of spouses to give evidence against each other and will facilitate the giving of evidence by children in sexual abuse cases. The Deputy will be aware that under the Criminal Law (Rape) (Amendment) Act, 1990, which I had the privilege of conducting through the Oireachtas last year, a man who rapes his wife may now be convicted of rape.
29. Miss Quill asked the Minister for Justice if his attention has been drawn to the finding of a recent survey which indicates that only 9 per cent of those surveyed have confidence in the courts to combat crime; and if he will outline the steps which ought to be taken to urgently redress this situation.
35. Miss Quill asked the Minister for Justice if he will outline in the light of the recent survey which indicates that 49 per cent of the householders of this country live in fear of having their homes burgled and their possessions stolen, the special steps which in his opinion should now be taken to confront this situation; and if he will be recommending any particular strategy that would lead to a satisfactory rate of recovery and return of stolen goods to their rightful owners.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): I propose to take Questions Nos. 29 and 35 together.
These two questions take their inspiration from the findings of a survey commissioned by a Sunday newspaper.
All scientifically conducted surveys obviously have a value. It is always necessary, however, in looking at survey findings to keep things in perspective and to avoid any overstatement either of their content or significance; those who specialise in taking surveys are themselves the first to acknowledge this.
It is necessary also to look quite carefully at the actual survey findings. The Deputy in this case appears to have read the findings to mean that only 9 per cent of those surveyed had confidence in the courts. The more complete picture is that a total of 38 per cent expressed themselves as being either very confident or what is described as fairly confident.
A relevant consideration in relation to the courts is that very often public opinion tends to be influenced to an extent by media reportage of a relatively small number of decisions which are considered somewhat unusual. I do not suggest, of course, that the media are to be faulted for this — the fact is that the thousands of cases which go through the courts without controversy of any basis for controversy do not make news. It is necessary always to bear in mind that the task of the court is to dispense justice having sifted all of the evidence presented in the court itself. Nobody in this House needs reminding of the importance of giving full weight to defence as well as prosecuting evidence and the importance of excluding extraneous material. Deputies may be aware that the topic of sentencing policy is one of a number of issues in the criminal law area that has been referred to the Law Reform Commission. It will be valuable to have the Commission's observations in this regard in due course.
 As to the findings in the same survey in relation to burglaries, the general observations I have already made concerning surveys again apply. I can assure the Deputy that the gardaí are very well aware of the distress caused by these crimes. I am informed by the Garda authorities that they are taking all possible action to reduce the incidence of residential burglaries. All residential areas receive regular attention from Garda foot and mobile patrols as well as from neighbourhood gardaí and specialist units where appropriate. In addition crime prevention advice is given by the community relations section of the Garda Síochána and by local crime prevention officers on measures which should be taken to help to prevent burglaries occurring.
The role to be played by the community is, of course, vital also. In this respect the Garda authorities have informed me that they are continuing to promote the Neighbourhood Watch programme which encourages the community to be vigilant to the danger of crime, to work closely with the gardaí and to take appropriate measures to protect their homes and their property.
Finally, I would refer the Deputy to the Larceny Act, 1990, which updates the law in relation to receiving stolen goods. The Act makes criminal activity more difficult for those who receive and deal in stolen property by replacing the former offence of receiving with a more broadly based offence of handling stolen property.
30. Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Justice if he has a figure available of the number of illegally held guns in the State; and if he has any intention of introducing an amnesty for the handing up of such guns.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): The very fact that firearms are held illegally precludes statistics being available of the number of such firearms. The only relevant statistics which are available relates  to the number of firearms seized by the gardaí. Details of such seizures are contained in the Garda Commissioner's Annual Report on Crime, copies of which may be obtained in the Oireachtas Library.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that any information which comes to their attention in relation to the existence of illegally held firearms is thoroughly investigated. Where such weapons are found they are seized and, where appropriate, the matter is brought to the notice of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
I have no proposals to introduce an amnesty in this respect.
32. Mr. S. Barrett asked the Minister for Justice if he intends introducing a procedure whereby persons who have been convicted of criminal offences and who have exhausted the normal appeals procedures can have their cases further reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
34. Mr. Spring asked the Minister for Justice if he will make a statement on the RTE programme on the Nicky Kelly case.
68. Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Justice if he is concerned at certain parallels between the Nicky Kelly case and the Birmingham Six/Guilford Four cases in Great Britain; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
71. Mr. McCartan asked the Minister for Justice the progress which has been made in regard to the implementation of the recommendations of the Martin Committee especially in regard to procedures for re-opening cases where new evidence emerges, particularly in the light of new disclosures regarding the case of Nicky Kelly; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
76. Mr. Garland asked the Minister for Justice if he will make a statement on the new evidence in the case of Nicky Kelly as outlined in the RTE "Wednesday Report" programme broadcast on Wednesday 9 October 1991; if he will outline the action he intends to take in this case having regard to the fact that all legal avenues are now closed to Nicky Kelly and to the other two who were charged with this crime; if he will consider granting a pardon in the light of the new evidence.
158. Mr. T. Kitt asked the Minister for Justice if he will make a statement on the case of Nicky Kelly.
159. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Justice whether he intends to review the Nicky Kelly case following the recent RTE's "Wednesday Report" programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): I propose to take Questions Nos. 32, 34, 68, 71, 76, 158 and 159 together.
I propose to deal first with RTÉ's “Wednesday Report” programme on 9 October regarding the conviction of Mr. Nicky Kelly. The position in that regard is, as I have already indicated publicly, that the Attorney General's advice has been sought on the various issues raised by that programme.
In those circumstances it would not be appropriate for me to comment further on that case beyond stating that this reply  should not be taken as, in any way, indicating acceptance of the parallels suggested by, or imputations contained in, certain of these questions.
As regards the recommendations of the Martin Committee in relation to alleged miscarriages of justice, these raise important issues concerning the respective functions, under the Constitution, of the Executive and the Judiciary and are currently under examination. Any proposals arising from this examination will be announced in the normal way in due course.
33. Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Justice if he will outline the number of petitions he received on behalf of individuals to have the fines struck out in the Kerry North constituency; the number of fines that were struck out; and the number that were reduced.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): Statistics relating to petitions are not maintained in such a way as to enable all the information sought in the question to be provided or to enable it to be provided by reference to electoral constituencies. The following tabular statement sets out such information as is available in relation to petitions by residents of County Kerry for each of the past four years and for this year to the end of September.
Outcome of Petitions from residents of County Kerry which were finalised in each of the years 1987 to 1991 (end September)
|Year||Full Mitigation||Partial Mitigation||Extension of time to pay||Refused||Total Finalised|
|(to end September)|
36. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for Justice the number of occasions during the course of the past year that (a) specialist lawyers, (b) accountants and (c) auditors were hired by the Garda Síochána Fraud Squad in order to assist with investigations; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): I am informed by the Garda authorities that the Garda Fraud Squad did not seek the services of accountants or auditors to assist them during the past 12 months. The advice and assistance of the law officers in the Office of Public Prosecutions has been sought and obtained by the squad in numerous cases in the period in question.
I have already gone on the record of this House on 16 October in welcoming the recommendation of the Garda authorities for closer links between the Fraud Squad and professional bodies and agencies such as accountancy bodies. That recommendation arises from the review of the Fraud Squad's resources and requirements which the Garda Commissioner initiated at my instigation last May.
37. Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice the reason appointments to fill vacant posts as Assistant Commissioner in the Garda Síochána were not made by the Government in 1987.
48. Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice if he will outline the procedures followed in the appointment by the Government of assistant commissioners in the Garda Síochána in January 1988; and in particular whether the provisions of the Garda Síochána (Promotions) Regulations were complied with and the way in which this was done.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): I propose, a Cheann Comhairle, to take Questions Nos. 37 and 48 together.
The power to make appointments at the level of assistant commissioner is vested in the Government by virtue of section 7 (2) of the Police Forces Amalgamation Act, 1925.
 The procedures followed in the appointment of all assistant commissioners since 12 February 1987 are those laid down in the Garda Síochána (Promotion) Regulations, 1987 — Statutory Instrument No. 39 of 1987.
An appointment to an assistant commissioner vacancy was made in March 1987. Three other vacancies subsequently arose in the assistant commissioner ranks during 1987 — one in March, one in July and one in November. All three vacancies were affected by the public service embargo on the filling of vacancies which was extended to the force on 31 March 1987.
All three vacancies were filled on 22 January 1988 following a review of the overall management needs of the force and the acceptance by Government that certain key posts in the force would have to be filled notwithstanding the embargo.
38. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for Justice if he will give details of the incident which occurred near the Annaghmartin checkpoint at Smithboro, County Monaghan on 3 September 1991 involving subversive activists; if he will outline the number of similar incidents which have occurred at this location since February 1990; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): On 3 September 1991 an attempt was made to drive a bomb on board a tractor into an RUC/British Army checkpoint at Annaghmartin, Roslea, County Fermanagh. The operation was carried out by a large group of armed men who took over three houses in the area, two in the North and one in the South, and held the families therein hostage. They also established two illegal checkpoints in the vicinity for a period. The operation was aborted when the vehicle involved became stuck in soft soil.
Two attempts to bomb the checkpoint were also made on 22 November and 27 December 1990.
39. Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Justice the reason persons who are refused naturalisation cannot be informed of the reasons their applications were unsuccessful in order that they can, on appeal, address the issues involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
121. Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice if he will outline, in general terms, the principles upon which applications for Irish citizenship are refused.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): I propose to take Questions Nos. 39 and 121 together.
In accordance with the provisions of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Acts, 1956 and 1986, a certificate of naturalisation is granted to an applicant at the absolute discretion of the Minister for Justice and it has always been the policy of successive Ministers for Justice not to give reasons for decisions taken in particular cases.
The question was considered by the High Court in the case of Pok Sun Shum and Denise Shum v Ireland  ILRM 593 where it was held that the Minister for Justice is not obliged to give reasons an application for naturalisation is refused.
43. Mr. Spring asked the Minister for Justice if he will make the consultants' report on the reform of the Land Registry, which has been available to him since January 1991, available to the staff, as no consultation has taken place with the staff to date.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): I received the report to which the Deputy refers in February of this year. The report deals with two distinct areas — information technology and organisation and structure. I approved the proposals in the  report in relation to information technology and that part of the report was made available to the staff in July.
That part of the report dealing with organisation and structure was not released to staff as I took no definitive decision on the recommendations made in it but decided instead to refer it to the working group which I established to assist me in the preparation of legislation for the reconstitution of the Land Registry and the Registry of Deeds as a semi-State body and to advise me on the best methods of tackling the problems existing in the registries. The working group have now reported to me and I am studying their recommendations.
44. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Justice when he proposes to introduce legislation to amend the Solicitors' Act, 1954.
60. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Justice if he will make illegal the solicitor/client aspect charges which are used by some solicitors to receive extra payments from their clients over the above costs awarded by the courts; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): I propose to take Questions Nos. 44 and 60 together.
My proposals for change in the law relating to the solicitors' profession will be included in the Solicitors (Amendment) Bill, which I will be circulating to Deputies very shortly.
45. Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Justice if his attention has been drawn to the source of the media leak regarding the surveillance of a Dublin brothel; if he is concerned that this and other leaks from the Garda have undermined public confidence in passing information to the Garda; if he has any plans to deal with this very serious matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): I want to say first, as a general matter, that I greatly deplore any disclosure of confidential information which may be in the possession of the gardaí. I have communicated my views on the issue to the Garda Commissioner and have emphasised to him the necessity of ensuring absolute confidentiality of such information. I may say that the commissioner fully shares my views.
As regards the specific disclosure referred to in the question, I am informed by the Garda authorities that this matter is at present the subject of a full internal Garda investigation. The House will, therefore, appreciate that it would be inappropriate for me to make any comment on it.
49. Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Justice if there are any plans to amend the Irish language requirement which is at present necessary for qualifying solicitors in this country.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): I have no proposals to amend the Irish language requirements for solictors who qualify here.
50. Mr. Taylor asked the Minister for Justice if his attention has been drawn to the level of vandalism in the Bolbrook area of Tallaght, Dublin 24 which is so regular and intense that Dublin County Council are quite unable to maintain the open spaces and parks in the area in a normal and reasonable manner, as was outlined in the reply presented at a meeting of Dublin County Council on 3 September, 1991 (details supplied); if he will confirm that additional resources will be allocated to the gardaí in the area so that the unacceptable level of vandalism can be brought under control; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): I am  informed by the Garda authorities that they are aware of the problems of vandalism in parks and open spaces in this area. They have informed me that the problem is primarily caused by the driving of stolen cars by young people in the area.
The Garda authorities inform me that measures taken by them to deal with the problem include the use of foot and mobile patrols who pay particular attention to this area. In addition, two neighbourhood gardaí are assigned on a full-time basis to these estates and they liaise closely with residents on the problems being encountered. The Garda authorities have also informed me that an additional six gardaí have been assigned to the Tallaght area since the beginning of the year and they are satisfied that the Garda resources in the area are adequate to deal with its policing needs.
The Garda authorities have informed me that the measures taken to tackle the problem are meeting with a measure of successs but that they are monitoring the situation closely and will take whatever further appropriate action may be necessary.
51. Mr. Browne (Carlow-Kilkenny) asked the Minister for Justice if he will outline the reasons for the selling of the sergeant's house in Graiguenamanagh, County Kilkenny.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): The sale of the official Garda house at Graiguenamanagh was part of a general programme which was introduced in order to reduce expenditure on maintenance and to raise revenue. The position is that even if the house in question were to remain in State ownership, its occupation by a member of the Garda Síochána could not be guaranteed.
52. Mr. Shatter asked the Minister for Justice if he will outline the action he proposes to take to tackle the level of crime in the south Dublin area in response to the representations made to him by the Churchtown Active Retirement Association; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): I received the representations referred to from the Churchtown Active Retirement Association, which I referred to the Garda authorities for their consideration.
The Garda authorities are, of course, aware of the incidence of crime in the south Dublin area, including Churchtown. The Churchtown area receives regular attention from foot and mobile patrols operating from Rathfarnham Garda station. In addition, the policing arrangements for the area were augmented recently by the appointment of a community garda. The community garda will act as a link between the Garda Síochána generally and the local community and will have a valuable role in liaising with residents' associations, Neighbourhood Watch and other community groups. The newly appointed community garda will liaise with the Churchtown Active Retirement Association on an on-going basis.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that the gardaí are taking all necessary steps to prevent crime in the area and that the situation is being kept under review.
53. Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Justice if he has any plans to properly compensate members of juries who lose substantially in relation to wages, travelling expenses and subsistence when attending jury trials; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
155. Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Justice if he will outline the payment which is made to people who are called for jury service; his views on whether the present system is most unsatisfactory and that they should be compensated for loss of earnings and travelling expenses; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): I propose to take Questions Nos. 53 and 155 together.
Under the Juries Act, 1976, there is no provision for the payment out of State funds for expenses to jurors. When the Act was introduced consideration was given to the matter of expenses but it was decided that expenses should not be paid as performance of jury service is a basic civil duty which arises relatively infrequently as far as the individual is concerned. Section 29 of the Act does, however, make provision for employees to be paid by their employers when engaged on jury service.
In cases where the question of hardship might be likely to arise it is open to persons concerned to apply to the County Registrar, under section 9 of the Act, for excusal from service.
There are no proposals to amend this Act at present.
54. Mr. Carey asked the Minister for Justice if he has had discussions with the Garda Commissioner regarding the number of Garda superintendents assigned to the Donegal division and the Cavan/Monaghan/Louth division; if he has satisfied himself with the number of Garda superintendents on duty in these divisions at weekends; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): The detailed deployment of Garda manpower is a matter for the Garda authorities. They inform me that there is an adequate number of Garda superintendents available for duty at all times, including weekends, in the Donegal, Cavan/Monaghan and Louth/Meath Garda divisions.
56. Mr. S. Barrett asked the Minister for Justice if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the new rural policing plan is in danger of collapse due to the severe lack of Garda pesonnel; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): The new rural community policing scheme is not being hampered by a lack of Garda manpower or other resources. In fact, additional manpower resources have been allocated to the 12 Garda districts in which the scheme is operating since 23 September last. These additional manpower resources include the allocation of an extra 11 sergeants and 19 gardaí to the districts in question. Moreover, the allocation of clerical assistants and microcomputers to the newly designated area headquarters Garda stations, together with a reduction in record keeping in smaller Garda stations, has increased the time available to gardaí for outdoor contact with the communities in the districts in which the scheme is operating.
58. Mrs. Owen asked the Minister for Justice if any works in his Department have been funded by the national lottery since it was set up; if so, if he will list such works, including the cost involved; and if he will outline the date of publication in the Iris Oifigiúil which showed the details of each project.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): My Department have not received any funds from the national lottery.
61. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the measures he proposes if any, to combat such crimes as robbery, robbery with violence, rape, car theft, handbag snatching and mugging; if he can identify the extent to which such crimes are committed by persons on bail for other crimes; if his attention has been drawn to the urgent need to improve this country's image in these areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): I  refer the Deputy to my statement in the House last Wednesday when I stated that the safety and security of our citizens was my chief concern and that the Government have listed the fight against crime among their top priorities. In this statement I gave details of the measure which I am taking to ensure that citizens are adequately protected from criminal attack. These measures include an ongoing legislative programme, recruitment of additional gardaí, improved deployment and management of existing Garda resources, provision of the most modern and professional equipment and training for the garda, and the development of community based crime-prevention initiatives.
I am aware of the problem of offences committed by persons on bail. However, I would point out that since the law relating to bail was strengthened in the Criminal Justice Act, 1984, by providing that a sentence of imprisonment for an offence committed by a person on bail must be consecutive on any sentence passed or about to be passed on him for a previous crime, the number of offences committed by persons on bail has shown a very significant decrease. In 1983, before the 1984 Act was passed, 8,295 offences were committed by persons on bail.
Last year the comparable figure was 2,494 offences. I accept that the commission of 2,494 offences by persons on bail is still a matter of concern. The figures I have quoted do show, however, that the situation is improving.
I am continuing to monitor the situation and if I am satisfied that further measures are appropriate, I will bring forward the necessary proposals.
62. Miss Flaherty asked the Minister for Justice if he will give details of the criteria used by his Department in the selection of prison visiting committees, with particular reference to the training unit at Mountjoy prison.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): The Prisons (Visiting Committees) Act, 1925  provides for the constitution of visiting committees for prisons and places of detention. The selection of persons to serve on visiting committees is dealt with in section 2 of the Act.
A minimum of six and a maximum of 12 responsible persons must be appointed to each committee and a committee must include at least two female members where the prison has female prisoners. Under the Act committee members may hold office for such a period not exceeding three years as the Minister shall think proper and shall specify when appointing them. Section 5 of the Act empowers the Minister to make rules prescribing the duties and powers of visiting committees and the manner in which they shall perform their duties and exercise their powers. The rules are set out in the Prisons (Visiting Committees) Order, 1925.
The purpose of the Act and the Order is broadly to provide a statutory independent committee to protect prisoners' interests. It is normal practice to appoint to visiting committees persons of standing in the community who are competent and suitable to carry out the statutory functions of the committees.
The criteria which are used in the appointment of members of the visiting committees to the training unit are similar to those used for all prisons and places of detention.
63. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Justice the up-to-date position on the implementation of the Single European Act and the abolition of all formalities on the free movement of non-community nationals within the EC; and if he will outline the changes that this will effect in existing Irish practice.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): Discussions aimed at achieving the objective of the Single European Act as regards free movement of persons have proceeded within the ad hoc Immigration and Trevi groups in so far as matters concerning the competence of those  groups is concerned and within the Internal Market Council in so far as Community competence is concerned. To date one convention and four directives have been adopted and work is proceeding within the relevant groups. The Presidency conclusions from the Luxembourg European Council, which have been placed in the Library, outline the current position.
As work is still continuing within the relevant groups it is not possible to say definitely at this stage what changes will be necessary.
64. Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Justice if his Department will provide additional detention places for young offenders; and if he has any plans to provide regional centres for this category of offenders.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): My Department cater for the detention of young male offenders aged 16 years and over and young female offenders aged 17 years and over. Offenders under that age cannot be sent to prisons or places of detention operated by my Department except in the special circumstances provided for in sections 97 and 102 of the Children Act, 1908.
Male offenders aged 16 to 21 can be committed by the courts to St. Patrick's Institution. In addition male offenders aged 17 years and over can be sent by the courts to the committal prisons i.e. Mountjoy, Cork, Limerick and Portlaoise. They may, of course, be transferred subsequently to places of detention or open centres set up under and Prisons Act, 1970, i.e. Wheatfield, Fort Mitchel, Loughan House and Shanganagh Castle. Mountjoy and Limerick Prisons cater for female offenders aged 17 years and over.
I am satisfied that the range and level of accommodation available for young offenders for which my Department is responsible are adequate and there are no plans at present for the provision of additional accommodation for them.
 The courts may commit young offenders between the ages of 12 and 16 to special schools. The provision of special school accommodation for such offenders is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Education.
65. Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Justice if he will outline the number of Garda Síochána, including bangardaí, being recruited and the time span involved in the recruitment drive.
164. Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Justice the plans he has for further recruitment of the Garda Síochána; and when recruitment and training will commence.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): I propose to take Questions Nos. 65 and 164 together.
A recruitment campaign to bring 1,000 new members into the force has just commenced and will be carried out over the next three years.
This competition which is being run by the Civil Service Commission is open to both men and women and their is no restriction on the number of either sex recruited within the 1,000 figure. Successful candidates, whether male or female, will be placed on the same list and called in order of merit.
The selection process for this competition is as follows. All candidates who met the educational qualifications were invited to sit a written intelligence test during September. The written papers are now being corrected and interviewing of successful candidates will commence in December. The first group of candidates selected through this process will commence training in Templemore in April next. The training programme will last for 62 weeks in the case of each group of candidates.
69. Mrs. Fennell asked the Minister for Justice the number of barring orders sought in the Dublin District Court in 1989 and 1990; the number granted; and the number breached by husbands.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): The information sought by the Deputy, in so far as it is available, is as follows:
|Legal year ended 31 July.||Number of Barring Orders applied for||Number granted|
The information in relation to the number of barring orders breached by husbands is not readily available. Such breaches would generally be reported in the first instance to the Garda Síochána. I have been informed by the Garda authorities that this information could be obtained only by the expenditure of a disproportionate amount of Garda time and resources.
70. Mr. Garland asked the Minister for Justice if he will outline, within the area of responsibility of his Department and covering each year from the commencement of the job-sharing and career break scheme (a) the total number of applications received and (b) the total granted and not granted; if he will give a breakdown of the grades involved under each heading and the reasons some applications were turned down; if his Department has plans to extend the job-sharing scheme from working halved hours to a system which facilitates the workers requirements; and if not, the reason therefor.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): The information sought in the question is in the form of a tabular statement which I propose to circulate in the Official Report.
Applications for career breaks were refused in a small number of cases because the particular applications did  not fall within the terms of the circulars governing the scheme.
Applications for job-sharing are facilitated wherever possible but in some areas of my Department the job-sharing scheme has had to be limited to a small  number of posts, due to staff numbers in these areas or the specialised nature of the work.
I am not aware that there is any particular problem in relation to the various job-sharing arrangements that operate in my Department at present.
Total Applications (a) Received (b) Granted (c) Not granted
|Higher Executive Officer||1||1||—||3||3||—||1||1||—|
|Senior Probation and Welfare Officer||1||1||1||1||—|
|Probation and Welfare Officer||5||5||—||7||7||—||9||9||—||7||7||—|
|Assistant Chief Officer||1||1||—||1||1||—|
|Junior Court Clerk||1||1||—||1||1||—|
|Examiner of Maps||2||2||—||2||2||—||1||1||—|
Total Applications (a) Received (b) Granted (c) Not granted
|Higher Executive Officer||2||2||—||1||—||1||1||1||—|
|Senior Probation and Welfare Officer||1||1||—|
|Probation and Welfare Officer||12||12||—||2||1||1||7||7||—||4||2||2|
|Assistant Chief Officer||1||1||—|
|Forensic Scientist III||1||1||—|
|Examiner in Charge||1||1||—|
 Table II
Total Applications (a) Received (b) Granted (c) Not granted
|Higher Executive Officer||1||1||—||2||2||—|
|Probation and Welfare Officer||5||—||5|
|Examiner in Charge||1||—||1|
|Junior Court Clerk||3||—||3|
Total Applications (a) Received (b) Granted (c) Not granted
|Higher Executive Officer||1||1||—|
|Probation and Welfare Officer||6||2||4||8||2||6||—||—||—||21||—||21|
|Examiner of Maps||2||2||—||2||—||2|
|Junior Court Clerk||1||—||1|
72. Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Justice the reason a person (details supplied) was refused temporary release from prison to get married; if his attention has been drawn to the hardship and upset caused; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): Temporary release to allow prisoners to marry is granted only in the most exceptional circumstances and where all the necessary procedures have been complied with.
A prisoner seeking temporary release to get married must make application in the first instance to the governor of the institution in which he/she is held. He/she must provide supporting documentation for church authorities, where applicable, and all other relevant documentation such as medical certification as appropriate to support the application. It is only then that the application is submitted to me for decision. Clearly no  applicant should make any arrangements for the wedding until he/she is informed that temporary release will be granted.
In this particular case the applicant did not follow the usual procedures and failed to submit appropriate documentation in support of his application. In the absence of the supporting documentation no decision could be made and the applicant was so informed on the 20 September 1991. The fact that the prisoner's intended spouse went ahead with arrangements for a wedding on 23 September 1991 without having confirmed first that temporary release would be granted is a matter over which neither I nor my Department had any control.
To date the necessary supporting documentation has not been received in my Department but if and when it is received I will make a quick decision on the matter. I am satisfied that at no stage was either the applicant or his intended spouse misled in the matter by any officials of my Department.
73. Mr. Shatter asked the Minister for Justice if he will outline in relation to each State and semi-State company under the aegis of his Department the companies which have a code of conduct delineating the activities which board members and employees of such bodies can engage in to ensure that an actual or potential conflict of interest does not arise vis-à-vis their duties as members and/or employees of such State bodies and other activities; the way in which this code of conduct, if any, is monitored by his Department; if he will make available in full, any such code of conduct stating the State and semi-State bodies to which it applies; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): There are no State or semi-State companies under the aegis of my Department.
74. Mr. Finucane asked the Minister for Justice the reason such areas as Broadford, Dromcollogher and parts of Feohenagh and Raheenagh of County Limerck were taken out of the Newcastle West division in the rural policing review; the reason they were included in the Mallow Garda division; and if he will restore these areas again to the Newcastle West Garda division which would be more effective.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): The Garda authorities, in consultation with the local Garda officers, reviewed the organisation of the Newcastle West Garda district with a view to implementing the new Community policing scheme. The authorities concluded that the transfer of the Dromcollogher Garda sub-district from the Newcastle West to the Mallow Garda district was required to ensure the successful implementation of the scheme. I accept the professional assessment of the Garda authorities that this transfer is the right course of action and is in the better interests of the people who live in the areas in question.
75. Mr. Browne (Carlow-Kilkenny) asked the Minister for Justice the number of Garda stations in County Carlow which will have reduced opening hours following the latest plan for rural policing.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): It is not possible to say what increases or reductions there would be in station opening hours when the new community policing scheme is extended to all stations in County Carlow. The crucial point about the new scheme is that it will ensure guaranteed station opening hours at fixed times in contrast to the present situation in which actual opening hours are hugely unpredictable and often significantly less than those the public might expect.
78. Mr. Connor asked the Taoiseach the total amount of national lottery funds made available by his Department in County Roscommon.
79. Miss Flaherty asked the Taoiseach the total amount of national lottery funds made available through his Department in Dublin city.
80. Mr. Kenny asked the Taoiseach the total amount of national lottery funds made available in County Mayo by his Department.
The Taoiseach: The information sought in respect of my Department, the Arts Council and Roinn na Gaeltachta was provided in a written reply on 16 October 1991 to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 112 to 128; 131 to 139 and 141 to 143. The position in relation to the National Heritage Council is detailed in the following schedule:
National Heritage Council
1. Amounts in each case represent offers of grants. In most cases payments will be made over a period and in many cases the full amount may not actually be paid yet.
2. In the case of all offers the actual address of the organisation/individual to whom the offer was made is used as the determinant of the county or constituency. Some of these may be national organisations or institutions and the project itself could cover or involve a number of counties or constituencies.
81. D'fhiafraigh Mr. McGinley den Taoiseach cé mhéid a bhí san iomlán airgid a cheadaigh a Roinn do dheisiúchán ar bhóithre áise i nDún an nGall i rith na bliana go dtí an dáta seo; cad iad na bóithre atá i gceist agus an tsuim a caitheadh ar gach bóthar.
Aire Stáit ag Roinn na Gaeltachta (Mr. Gallagher): Tá £58,800 ceadaithe agam i mbliana le haghaidh bóithre áise (ar a n-áirítear bóithre portaigh) i nGaeltacht Dhún na nGall.
Tá leis seo sonraí na mbóithre i gceist maraon leis an tsuim aigird a ceadaíodh i ngach cás. Ní bhfuarthas aon iarratas ar íocaíocht go fóill.
Bóithre Áise 1991 — Co. Dhún na Gall.
|Bóthar áise go tithe Paddy Gill agus Betty Melly, Madavagh, Leitir Mhic an Bhaird.||500|
|Bóthar áise go tithe Charlie Green, Jimmy Greene agus Dan Coll, Rann na Feirste, Anagaire.||750|
|Bóthar áise chomh fada le teach Gerry Whoriskey, Arduns, Gaoth Dobhair agus ar aghaidh go portaigh.||750|
|Bóthar áise ó theach Joe Coll go teach Antóin Uí Ghallchóir, Luinneach Beag, Doirí Beaga.||1,350|
|Bóthar áise go tithe Neille Green, 64 Rann na Feirste, agus Bertie McCafferty agus Paul Coyle.||1,250|
|Bóthar áise go tithe Joe Duffy agus Rosie Walsh, Bóthar an Ghleanna, Anagaire.||500|
|Bóthar áise go tithe Francie Carroll, Joe Gallagher, Mhic Cormaic, Mhic Suibhne agus Pádraigh Carroll, Baile Lár, Doirí Beaga.||750|
|Bóthar áise chomh fada le teach Danny Ward, Mín an Ghamhna, Ailt an Chorráin.||1,200|
|Bóthar áise chomh fada le teach Joseph Gallagher, Cnoc an Stolaire Íocht., An Bun Beag.||850|
|Bóthar áise idir tithe E. Mac Suibhne agus Vincent McGee, An Mín Mór, An Clochán Liath.||600|
|Bóthar áise go tithe Maire Diver agus Séamus Gillespie, Stranbrooey, Doirí Beaga.||800|
|Bóthar chuig portaigh le muintir Uí Mhuirí, Uí Ghallchóir (Niall), John Gillespie, Hughie Sharkey agus daoine eile ag Mín na Leice, Croithlí.||750|
|Bóthar áise go tithe Eddie Ferry agus Mary Ferry, Dún Lúiche.||750|
|Bóthar áise go tithe Mickey Ward, Francie Ward agus Barry Hood, Trá Keadue, Ailt an Chorráin.||1,000|
|Bóthar áise chomh fada le tithe Declan agus Bridget Mulloy, Léim an Ghadhra, Gleann Cholm Cille.||1,000|
|Bóthar go dtí portaigh le Joe Sharkey, Michael Sharkey agus Francie McBride ag Cúl an Chnoic, Anagaire.||750|
|Bóthar go cuaille Raidióna Gaeltachta, Bánghort, Gleann Cholm Cille.||1,500|
|Bóthar ó chéibh Mhálainn Bhig, Gleann Cholm Cille, go dtí an Túr.||1,000|
|Bóthar ag Málainn Mhór, Gleann Cholm Cille, go dtí teach an Uasail Pádraig Ó Laighin.||1,000|
|Bóthar Doobin, Kilrane.||2,500|
|Bóthar áise chomh fada le teach Mary Trearty, Drimnaraw, Craosloch.||500|
|Bóthar áise chomh fada le teach Willie Sheridan, Drimeson, Craoslach.||1,000|
|Bóthar áise chomh fada le teach Ned O'Donnell, Drimnaraw, Craoslach.||600|
|Bóthar áise chomh fada le teach Charlie Nelis, Drumeflough, Craoslach.||500|
|Bóthar áise chomh fada le teach Eddie McClafferty, Drimnakillew, Craoslach.||500|
|Bóthar áise chomh fada le teach John Boyce (Owen), Tulach, Carraig Airt.||500|
|Bóthar áise chomh fada le teach Barney Doherty (Tom), Devlinmore, Carraig Airt.||1,000|
|Bóthar áise chomh fada le teach Charlie McFadden, Tulach, Carraig Airt.||1,000|
|Bóthar áise chomh fada le teach Jerry Gallagher, Carraig, Carraig Airt.||800|
|Bóthar áise chomh fada le teach Charlie agus Dominic McGinley agus stóir ag Gortnabrade, Carraig Airt.||1,000|
|Bóthar áise chomh fada le teach Micky Doherty, Cluain Saileach, Na Dúnaibh.||750|
|Bóthar áise chomh fada le teach Tommy Brennan, Gleann Domhain, Churchill.||500|
|Bóthar áise chomh fada le teach Neil McDermott, Bearnas, Tearman.||1,000|
|Bóthar áise chomh fada le tithe James agus John Toner, Drumdeevin, Tearman.||1,000|
|Bóthar áise chomh fada le teach James Sweeney, Droim Saileach, Gleann Domhain.||700|
|Bóthar áise chomh fada le teach Ghráinne Bean Uí Chonnacháin, Loch Chathair Uacht., Croithlí.||750|
|Bóthar áise go tithe Daniel Curran, Michael McHugh agus Eddie McHugh, Baile an Teampaill, An Fál Carrach.||1,000|
|Bóthar áise ó phríomhbhóthar Loch an Iúir Íochtarach chomh fada le tithe Hughie Boyle, Francie Gallagher, Patrick Walsh, Eamonn Boyle, Neil Boyle agus Denis Harley.||1,000|
|Bóthar go portaigh Dinny Gallagher, John Boyle agus James Sharkey, Cruckakeehan, Anagaire.||750|
|Bóthar portaigh Moorehen, Loch an Iúir.||750|
|Bóthar áise go tithe Denis Gallagher agus Dan Rodgers, Na Torraí, Árainn Mhór.||1,250|
|Bóthar agus draen a chóiriú ós comhair Óstán Ghleannbhé, Doirí Beaga.||1,000|
|Bóthar áise go tithe Shéamus Uí Cnáimhsí agus Peigí Bn Uí Bhaoill, Mullach Dubh, Ceann Caslach.||1,000|
|Bóthar áise chomh fada le tithe Bernie agus Michael Boyle, Ard Cróine, Anagaire.||1,000|
|Bóthar áise chomh fada le tithe Donal Timoney agus John Murray, Seascann na Rón, An Clochán Liath.||1,100|
|Bóthar portaigh (Bótha na Tulaigh) ó bhóthar Loch an Iúir-Mín na Mara.||500|
|Bóthar áise chomh fada le Mary, Patrick agus Connie Carr, Teanga Mheáin, An Clochán Liath.||900|
|Obair dhraenála riachtanach ag deireadh an bhóthair go teach an Uasail Eoin Ó Gallchóir, Arduns, Gaoth Dobhair.||300|
|Bóthar ag Cnoc Cartha, Cill Chartha, a chríochnú ó Dhroichead Leitir go teach an Uasail Peadar Ó hÉigeartaigh.||1,500|
|Bóthar ó theach an Uasail Pádraig Ó Reachlan, Doire Leathan, go deireadh an bhealaigh.||1,000|
|Bóthar portaigh na Coguise, Cill Chartha.||1,500|
|Bóthar ag Cró, An Charraig, go teach Chaitlín Nic Giolla Cearra.||1,500|
|Bóthar áise chomh fada le teach John Duffy, Gooldrum, Tearman.||500|
|Bóthar áise chomh fada le teach John Cullion, Devlinreagh, Carraig Airt.||750|
|Bóthar áise chomh fada le teach Eddie Cullen, Gortnabrade, Carraig Airt.||750|
|Oibreacha riachtanacha ar an mbóthar agus dhá charrchlós ag Bá Uachtar, Leitir Mhic an Bhaird.||4,200|
|Damáiste stoirme a rinneadh ar an mbóthar portaigh ag Mín na Gaoithe, Croithlí, a dheisiú||900|
|Bóthar áise go tithe Éamon Mac Suibhne, Feargal Mac Suibhne, Proinsias Mac Grianna agus Liam Mac Aoidh, Ard Cróine, An Clochán Liath.||1,750|
|Bóthar áise chuig tithe Uí Bhaoill agus Uí Fhearraigh ag Seascann Beag, Doirí Beaga.||750|
|Bóthar ó theach Pat Molloy, Teangach Mheán, An Clochán Liath, go dtí na portaigh.||800|
|Geata mara a sholáthar chun cosc a chur le tuilte ar an mbóthar áíse ag Cullion, an Mhachaire, An Clochán Liath.||700|
82. D'fhiafraigh Mr. McGinley den Taoiseach cad iad na féilte agus imeachtaí cultúrtha agus sóisialta Gaeltachta eile ar ceadaíodh deontas dóibh i rith na bliana seo go dtí an data seo; agus cé mhéid a ceadaíodh i ngach cás.
Aire Stáit ag Roinn na Gaeltachta (Mr. Gallagher): Seo a leanas na féilte/ imeachtaí sa Ghaeltacht a cheadaigh mo Roinnse cúnamh ina leith i mbliana maraon leis an suim a ceadaíodh i ngach cás:
|Aonach Traidisiúnta Ard an Rátha||500|
|Aonach an Chlocháin Liath||500|
|Féile Ailt an Chorráin||250|
|Comóradh 25 Bliain Scoil Chuimsitheach na Ceathrún Rua||1,000|
|Comórtas na nAmhrán Nuachumtha, An Cheathrú Rua||2,000|
|Tionól Deireadh Seachtaine ag na Naíonraí Gaelacha (ar an gCeathrú Rua||250|
84. Mrs. T. Ahearn asked the Taoiseach the total number of people unemployed in the constituency of South Tipperary; and if he will supply a breakdown of this figure for the different employment exchanges in south Tipperary for the year ending September (1) 1989, (2) 1990 and (3) 1991.
The Taoiseach: The information requested by the Deputy is contained in the following table:
The number of persons on the live register in each employment exchange in the constituency of South Tipperary on the last Friday of September from 1989 to 1991 inclusive was:
|29 September 1989||28 September 1990||27 September 1991|
|Total Constituency of South Tipperary||4,928||4,952||5,655|
85. Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for the Marine his views on whether the dredging at Bantry Pier in County Cork is an urgent necessity; when the preliminary survey will be carried out; and when the actual dredging will take place.
87. Mr. Sheehan asked the Minister for the Marine when the hydrographical survey in connection with the dredging of Bantry Pier and the construction of a new pier at Whiddy Island will be undertaken in view of the indication given in February 1991 that funds would then be made readily available to carry out the survey and as no developments have taken place to date.
Minister for the Marine (Mr. Wilson): I propose to take Questions Nos. 85 and 87 together.
I consider the proposed dredging works at Bantry Pier as an essential part of the programme for developing the harbour.
The preliminary works comprising a hydrographic survey and site investigations will start shortly. The actual dredging works will be carried out in 1992 provided that the required funding can be made available within the prevailing budgetary constraints.
Following representations on behalf of the Whiddy Island community for the construction of an all-weather pier, I have asked the Ministerial Islands Committee to examine the problem and I await their response in the matter.
86. Mr. Sheehan asked the Minister for the Marine if his attention has been drawn to the fact that lift facilities on the synchrolift at Dinish Island, Castletownbere, County Cork is now denied to fishing vessels in excess of 200 tonnes gross weight; and if his attention has further been drawn to the fact that five fishing vessels owned and located in Castletownbere port exceed that limit; and if he will take immediate steps to apply lift facilities on this synchrolift to facilitate these five fishing vessels.
Minister for the Marine (Mr. Wilson): The House was advised on 20 June last, in reply to a question from Deputy J. O'Keeffe, that a major electrical and mechanical overhaul of the synchrolift in  Castletownbere had been commissioned. During the course of this overhaul serious defects were discovered and these have now been rectified.
On completion of the overhaul work the installation was tested in compliance with statutory regulations relating mainly to safety. Arising from these tests vessels not exceeding 200 tonnes lightship weight are approved for use on the synchrolift. Vessels exceeding 200 tonnes require the prior approval of the synchrolift manufacturers before they may use the synchrolift. Vessel owners in the latter category have been advised of the situation now obtaining and that they should send details of vessel weights and docking plans for approval.
Any attempt to exceed these limits at present could result in serious injury to persons and damage to both vessels and the lift. In addition there would be serious penalties for non-compliance with the health and safety regulations.
88. Mr. S. Barrett asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will outline the main provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination; and the reason Ireland is the only member State which has not signed this convention.
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Collins): The International Convention on the elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination was adopted and opened for signature and ratification by the UN General Assembly in December 1965. It entered into force in January 1969. Ireland signed the convention on 21 March 1968. A copy of the convention is available in the Dáil Library.
Under the Convention, each State party undertakes to prohibit and to eliminate racial discrimination in all its forms and to guarantee the right to everyone, without distinction as to race, colour, or national or ethnic origin, to equality before the law, notably in the enjoyment of those rights and freedoms specified  in the instrument. The convention lists several rights not mentioned specifically in the Universal Declaration of Human rights, such as the right of access to any place or service intended for use by the general public, including transport, hotels, restaurants, cafes, theatres and parks. The convention specifies among the rights in regard to which discrimination is prohibited, the right to work, the right to join trade unions and the right to housing.
Measures for the implementation of the convention include the establishment of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, consisting of 18 independent experts, which reviews reports submitted by States parties on the measures they have adopted which give effect to the convention's provisions. In addition the committee make proposals and general recommendations, as well as seeking to settle disputes among States parties on the application of the convention.
In 1989 as part of the process of recession by Ireland to a number of international human rights instruments the Oireachtas enacted the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act which provides for protection from any form of incitement to hatred against groups of persons in the State on account of their race, colour, nationality, religion, ethnic or national origins. Subsequently Ireland ratified the international Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic and Social Rights. Additional measures may be required to enable Ireland to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; and the question of what measures may be necessary is now under consideration.
89. Mr. Currie asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will give details of the explanation he has received from the Northern Ireland Office for the presence of a British Army patrol in direct contact with the community and without a police presence at 3 p.m. at the junction of Cookestown Road and Coalpit Road, Dungannon on 25 July 1991; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Collins): Upon receipt of the Deputy's question, I instructed my officials to raise this matter through the Anglo-Irish Secretariat in Belfast and I will be in further communication with the Deputy when a reply is received.
The Deputy will be aware that the Government have consistently emphasised to the British authorities the importance which they attach to their joint objective of ensuring as rapidly as possible that, save in the most exceptional circumstances, there is a police presence in all operations which involve direct contact with the community.
The Government will continue to accord the policy of accompaniment high priority in their discussions with the British Government under the Anglo-Irish Agreement.
90. Mr. Cowen asked the Minister for Finance if a VAT rebate has been made to a person (details supplied) in County Offaly in respect of land drainage and a cattle shed.
Minister for Finance (Mr. A. Reynolds): I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that a cheque for £957.15 issued on 16 September 1991, in full settlement.
91. Mr. E. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance when a VAT rebate will be made to a person (details supplied) in County Cork.
Minister for Finance (Mr. A. Reynolds): I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that repayments of £7,046 in respect of the period May-June 1991, and £1,427 in respect of the period July-August 1991 have recently been made to the taxpayer concerned.
 Necessary inquiries by the inspector of taxes into aspects of the taxpayer's affairs gave rise to some delay in this case.
92. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Finance the national debt per head of population for each year from 1985 to 1990.
Minister for Finance (Mr. A. Reynolds): The information requested by the Deputy is set out below. The figures are based on the national debt at the end of each year and on population figures derived from the census for 1986 and from Central Statistics Office estimates for other years.
|Year||National Debt per head of population|
93. Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Finance if he will outline (a) the date on which stamp duty for the purchase of a property (details supplied) was due to be paid and (b) the date on which the due stamp duty was paid.
Minister for Finance (Mr. A. Reynolds): I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that they are precluded as always for reasons of confidentiality from giving information about the particular tax affairs of any individual or company.
94. Mr. McGahon asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that there are people living in the Republic who are working in Northern Ireland being asked to pay double taxation and that the sheriff has issued warrants for collection and has called to the homes of some of these people who are paying their full taxes in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Finance (Mr. A. Reynolds): I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that there is no question of double taxation in the circumstances referred to by the Deputy.
An individual who is resident and domiciled in the Republic of Ireland is liable to Irish income tax on his/her worldwide income, including income from Northern Ireland. However, under the terms of the Double Taxation Agreement between this country and the UK credit is given for any tax deducted in Northern Ireland when the liability to Irish tax is being computed. In addition, as announced in my 1991 budget speech, the PAYE allowance has been extended to cross-frontier workers resident in this State, where their employment in another jurisdiction is of a kind that, if within the State, would qualify for the PAYE allowance.
An individual in these circumstances is taxable under the self assessment system and must meet the requirements regarding payments and filing of returns. Failure to comply with these conditions will result in the appropriate enforcement action being taken including, if necessary, action by the sheriff.
In the absence of any specific details I cannot comment on the particular cases the Deputy has in mind. However, if he wishes to provide me with those details, I will look into the matter.
95. Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider making an order to expand the categories of property relieved from rates under the Valuations Act, 1986 to include the production of renewable energies with a view to encouraging the exploitation of renewable energy and to promoting environment-friendly electricity generation.
Minister for Finance (Mr. A. Reynolds): Relief from the actual payment of rates is a matter for local government legislation and I would direct the Deputy's attention to the Local Government (Rates) Act, 1970 which provides local authorities with the discretion to make schemes providing for the waiver of all or portion of rates due by ratepayers or classes of ratepayers or a class or classes of property. In the first instance therefore persons involved in the renewable energy field should apply to the relevant local authority for relief under this Act.
In relation to the treatment of renewable energy activities under the Valuation Acts per se the present situation is that such activities are treated as rateable.
I have no proposals to alter the treatment of hydro-electric facilities and am advised that the development of renewable forms of electricity generation such as wave, tidal and solar are not, generally, operating at a sufficiently advanced technical stage here to permit their widespread development at the present time. There may however be some potential in relation to generation of electricity by windfarms and in the event that such projects are proceeded with I would hope that the local authorities concerned will be prepared to grant the exemption from rates referred to above.
96. Mr. Finucane asked the Minister for Finance the total number of widows who paid income tax in the year 1990/91.
97. Mr. Finucane asked the Minister for Finance the total number of widowers who paid income tax in the year 1990/91.
99. Mr. Finucane asked the Minister for Finance the total value of mortgage interest relief allowed to widows and widowers in 1990-91.
Minister for Finance (Mr. A. Reynolds): It is proposed to take Questions Nos. 96, 97 and 99 together.
It is estimated that some 39,000 widows and 13,500 widowers were effectively liable to income tax in respect of the income tax year 1990-91. The estimated cost in terms of tax forgone of mortgage interest relief allowed to them was £1.9 million.
98. Mr. Finucane asked the Minister for Finance the total amount of DIRT claimed back in the year 1990-91.
Minister for Finance (Mr. A. Reynolds): The total value of refunds of deposit interest retention tax made during the income tax year 1990-91 amounted to £13.9 million.
100. Mr. S. Barrett asked the Minister for Finance when work will commence on building the new Garda station at Dún Laoghaire, County Dublin.
Minister for Finance (Mr. A. Reynolds): Work on the erection of a new Garda divisional headquarters in Dún Laoghaire commenced on 30 September 1991.
101. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will arrange for an inspector from the Land Commission to call to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny, as soon as possible, with a view to finalising arrangements for the outright purchase of land which he received from the Land Commission.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): My Department will contact the person named in the near future concerning this matter.
102. Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the reason for the delay in payment of a ewe premium to a person (details supplied) in County Waterford; and when payment will issue.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): The first instalment of the 1991 ewe premium was paid to the person named on 20 September 1991. There was no particular delay in payment.
103. Mr. Yates asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if a person (details supplied) in County Wexford has received his full entitlement of the first instalment of the ewe subsidy payment in view of the fact that he has lands in a disadvantaged area; and if he will outline his entitlements.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): As the person named has over 50 per cent of his land in the disadvantaged areas, he will receive the additional four ECU premium on his 650 ewes and a further payment to reflect the fact that he can now be paid full premium instead of half premium on the 150 eligible ewes over and above 500 together with his third and final instalment of 1991 ewe premium.
It has been hoped to make these payments to applicants in the new disadvantaged areas with the second instalment of 1991 ewe premium. However, in the light of the income difficulties facing sheep producers, I successfully requested the EC Commission to take the necessary action to enable me to pay that instalment earlier than has been originally scheduled. It would not have been possible to make those early payments if the adjustments consequent upon the extension of the disadvantaged areas had also to be made simultaneously.
104. Mr. Nealon asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if arrangements have been made to have all headage payments made to farmers before Christmas of this year.
105. Mr. Nealon asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if the promised increases in headage payments for cattle and sheep will be paid irrespective of any renegotiation of the Programme for Economic and Social Progress.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): I propose taking Questions Nos. 104 and 105 together.
As the Deputy will be aware from his own time in my Department, it has never been possible to pay all headage grants by 31 December in any year. Nevertheless, I can assure him that as many 1991 headage grants as possible will be paid this year and that the increases he mentions will be decided on as soon as possible also.
106. Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if it is his intention to increase the number of livestock units from the present total of 30 for headage payments purposes under the severely handicapped areas scheme for 1991; and if the premium per livestock unit will also be increased in the current year.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): As soon as a final decision is taken on the precise details and timing of increases in headage payments, I will make the appropriate announcement.
107. Mr. J. Foley asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if a maximum farm development grant will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Waterford.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): This applicant did not qualify for the higher rate of grant payable in disadvantaged areas as more than half his lands lie outside those areas. He has  already been paid a grant at the rate applicable to his case.
108. Mr. J. Fahey asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the up-to-date position regarding the application by a person (details supplied) in County Waterford concerning his entitlement to compensation for losses as a result of TB.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): I am informed by the director of ERAD that two animals sent for slaughter by the herdowner in June 1991 had positive TB lesions. The herdowner should contact his district veterinary office where the procedure for application for ex-gratia payments which may fall due in respect of these animals, will be outlined.
109. Mr. Blaney asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will have inquiries made into the delay in making a decision on an application for a flock number by a person (details supplied) in County Sligo; and if he will respond to representations made on his behalf on 7 February 1991.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): A Garda report on certain aspects of this case is awaited before a decision is made as to whether a flock number should be granted.
I will be responding to the Deputy's representations as soon as the matter has been clarified.
110. Mrs. T. Ahearn asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when an installation aid grant will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): It is hoped to have this  application determined shortly. If the applicant is found to be eligible payment will be made as soon as possible.
111. Mr. Cowen asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if payment has yet been made to a person (details supplied) in County Offaly in respect of a land drainage programme.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): This grant has been paid.
112. Mr. Lowry asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the current position regarding an application under the farm improvement grant scheme by a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and when payment will issue to him.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): Every effort is made to have payments under the farm investment aid schemes made at the earliest possible date. Claims are, of course, processed strictly in order of receipt and, therefore, the period between receipt of a particular claim and its payment is affected by the overall volume of claims to be processed at the time in question and the position in regard to budgetary resources. Having regard to the level of claims currently on hands, it is likely to be about three months before this payment can be made.
113. Mr. Sheehan asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will outline (a) the position of tied insurance agents who operate as companies in an insurance brokerage and thereby do not reveal to their clients that they are tied agents and cannot offer independent advice on insurance matters; (b) whether the Irish Insurance Compliance Bureau which validates the brokerage for his Department are unable or unwilling to deal with this question in relation to a particular insurance brokerage and (c) whether there is any redress for a policy holder if an insurance company refuse to explain contract terms and incorrectly calculate their dividend statement; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that in order to issue court proceedings, the calculations would have to be checked by an actuary and that actuaries appear to be interested only in corporate work and will not provide a service for individuals; and if his attention has further been drawn to the fact that the Irish Insurance Federation which is the policing body for insurance companies, are unable or unwilling to answer any questions on this particular problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. O'Malley): The position with regard to all insurance intermediaries is that they are subject to the provisions of the Insurance Act, 1989. A responsibility is placed on insurance companies to establish that any intermediary whom they appoint is complying with the provisions of the Act.
In addition insurance intermediaries, including tied agents, are required to observe the terms of the code of conduct for insurance intermediaries and accompanying guidelines.
Any indication that an insurance intermediary may not be complying with the provisions of the Act or the code of conduct would be a matter for the insurer(s) with which that intermediary holds an agency appointment or the Irish Brokers Association who are the broker representative body recognised by the Minister under the Act, where the intermediary is a member of the association.
Tied agents are required to disclose their status under the Act to their clients and to name the insurance company with whom they have a tied agency agreement. This is to be stated orally to the client and in writing on all such agents' business notepaper.
Because of the onus which the 1989 Act places on insurers to make reasonable inquiry as to the compliance with the Act of any intermediary to whom they propose to grant an agency appointment or any already appointed intermediary to  whom they propose to pay commission, the insurers established a central checking body, the Insurance Intermediary Compliance Bureau, which would carry out certain compliance checks on intermediaries on their behalf. However, the responsibility regarding the compliance of intermediaries with their obligations under the Act remains with the individual insurers and/or the Irish Brokers Association.
It is understood that it is the practice of insurers to supply such information regarding an insurance contract as the policy holder may reasonably request.
It is understood that in addition to actuaries who are directly employed by insurance companies there are independent actuaries who will undertake work for private as well as corporate clients.
The Irish Insurance Federation are a trade representative body and as such have no statutory function. However, it is understood that where a problem is brought to the federation's attention or a complaint is made regarding one of their members it is their practice to investigate such matters and to subsequently respond to the complainant.
114. Mr. O'Shea asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will grant disadvantage area status to County Waterford in relation to IDA grants; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. O'Malley): I have no proposals at present to make any changes to the list of areas designated for industrial grant purposes under the Industrial Development Act, 1986.
I am assured by the Industrial Development Authority that they are actively promoting County Waterford for suitable manufacturing industry.
115. Mr. S. Barrett asked the Minister for Energy the reason for the delay in transferring Rathmichael Wood, Shankill, County Dublin to Dublin County Council.
Minister for Energy (Mr. Molloy): My Department agreed to the sale of 15 hectares of land to Dublin County Council in January 1991 for the purposes of amenity development. Both parties are anxious to conclude all the necessary legal formalities of the sale as soon as possible.
116. Mr. Finucane asked the Minister for Social Welfare if he will outline the amount of PRSI paid by individuals who are under the exemption limits for income tax in the year ending 6 April 1991.
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): People covered by full (Class A) social insurance pay social insurance contributions at the rate of 5.5 per cent of earnings. This rate is not affected by the tax exemption limits. However, people earning £60 per week or less are exempt from social insurance contributions.
Information is not available on the total amount of social insurance paid by people under the tax exemption limits.
117. Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Social Welfare if a person (details supplied) in Dublin 14 who was in receipt of disability benefit and now occupational injury benefit can claim for medical care from the time she qualified for occupational injury benefit in view of the fact that she did not know she was entitled to medical care as she had never heard of the benefit and she has to visit her doctor once a week and physiotherapist twice a week; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): On 3 October 1991, the person concerned claimed expenses in respect of medical care under the occupational  injury scheme in respect of an accident at work on 20 May 1991.
Under the conditions of the scheme, a claimant is required to give notice of intention of claiming medical care within six weeks of the commencement of care. Payment under the scheme is confined to disbursement in respect of such expenses which are reasonably and necessarily incurred and to the extent that they would not be met under the Health Acts or the treatment benefit scheme under the Social Welfare Acts.
The claim in this case is in respect of doctors visits and physiotherapy. Medical care is being allowed in respect of visits to her doctor in the six week period before receipt of the claim and a cheque in payment will issue shortly.
The physiotherapy claimed for was received privately. This treatment is available free under the Health Acts and, accordingly, may not be allowed under the medical care scheme.
118. Mr. Lowry asked the Minister for Social Welfare the current position regarding an appeal by a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary against the decision to qualify him for a reduced rate of old age non-contributory pension.
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): Following a review of his means, it was decided on 17 October 1991 that the person concerned is entitled to an increase in his old age non-contributory pension. He has been awarded an increased pension of £43.50 per week from 3 May 1991 rising to £47 per week from 26 July 1991.
The person concerned has been requested to return his current pension book so that an order book at the higher rate may issue to him. Arrears due to him will be issued as soon as possible.
119. Mr. Flanagan asked the Minister for Social Welfare when a decision will be made on the old age pension of a person (details supplied) in County Laois, whose case is ongoing for some time.
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The person concerned was notified that he was not entitled to an old age non-contributory pension as his means, derived from capital, a holding and employment as a casual labourer exceeded the statutory limit of £56 per week.
He appealed this decision to the independent social welfare appeals office in mid-August 1991. His case is currently with the social welfare officer to establish if there has been any change in circumstances.
As soon as this investigation has been completed, the case will be referred back  to the appeals office for a decision. The person concerned will be notified in writing of the outcome as soon as possible.
120. Mr. Flanagan asked the Minister for Social Welfare the number of persons, within the State, in receipt of financial assistance from his Department.
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The following table gives the current number of recipients and their dependants on the principal schemes operated by my Department. Full details of recipients and payments made are contained in the report, Statistical Information on Social Welfare Services 1990, which is available in the Library.
Number of Recipients, Adult Dependants and Child Dependants on Weekly Social Welfare Payments (June 1991)
|Type of Benefit, Pension or Assistance||Recipients||Adult Dependants||Child Dependants|
|Old Age Pension (Contributory)||73,400||18,921||1,725|
|Old Age Pension (Non-Contributory)||116,352||8,627||2,592|
|Widow's Pension (Contributory)||84,559||—||14,318|
|Widow's Pension (Non-Contributory)||18,024||—||—|
|Deserted Wife's Benefit||10,945||—||20,168|
|Deserted Wife's Allowance||1,818||—||—|
|Lone Parent's Allowance||27,631||—||44,092|
|Supplementary Welfare Allowance||13,941||3,731||12,763|
|Family Income Supplement||6,565||—||25,582|
122. Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Justice the number of (a) male, (b) female prisoners in each prison in each of the last ten years; the percentage increase each year; and the number that each prison can reasonably accommodate without overcrowding.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): The latest ten year period for which figures are readily available is 1979-88 and they are contained in the annual reports on prisons and places of detention which are available in the Oireachtas Library. Comparable statistics for 1989 and 1990 are being compiled at present and will be published in due course in the annual reports for those years.
“Overcrowding” is a relative term and there is no clear definition as to what it means in a prison context. At present the prison system is managing to accommodate some 2,200 prisoners at any one time.
123. Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Justice if he will outline the measures taken by the gardaí to protect members of the public who co-operate with the Garda in passing on confidential information; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): It has never been the practice, and it would be contrary to the public interest, to disclose the type of information sought by the Deputy.
125. Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Justice if he will outline (1) the number of prison staff by rank employed in each prison in each of the last ten years, (2) the percentage increase-decrease each year and (3) the number who went out of the service through (a) redundancy, (b) early retirement, (c) retirement at normal retirement age and (d) being dismissed.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): The numbers in each grade serving in the prison service as a whole are set out in the following tabular statement. For security reasons I cannot supply a breakdown of these figures by institution.
 The percentage increase-decrease in overall staff numbers in the service year by year from 1981 to 1990 was as follows:
The number who left the service, in each of the past ten years, through retirement at normal retirement age or by dismissal are set out in the following table, there were no redundancies or early retirements.
|Retirement (at normal retirement age)||Dismissal|
Numbers of Serving Prison Service Grades 1981-1990
|Governor of Works||1||1||1||1||1||1||1||1||1||1|
|Senior Deputy Governor||1||1||1||1||1||1||1||1||1||1|
|Senior Deputy Governor||1||1||1||1||1||1||1||1||1||1|
|Assistant Governor (Works)||2||2||2||2||2||2||2||2||2||2|
|Chief Officer I||3||3||4||4||4||5||4||5||6||6|
|Inspector of Works||2||2||2||2||2||2||2||2||2||2|
|Chief Officer II||14||15||15||14||17||18||15||15||15||15|
|Clerk of Works||2||2||2||2||2||2||2||2||2||2|
|Chief Trades Officer I||2||3||3||3||3||2||2||2||2||4|
|Chief Trades Officer II||9||9||9||9||10||10||13||13||12||12|
|Assistant Chief Officer||113||118||120||121||131||128||133||131||136||138|
|Prison Officer (Male)||1064||1070||1154||1123||1110||1150||1251||1387||1403||1447|
|Chief Officer II (Matron)||2||2||2||2||2||2||2||1||1||1|
|ACO (Assistant Matron)||4||4||4||4||5||5||5||6||5||6|
|Prison Officer (Female)||59||64||63||60||60||63||108||148||151||154|
|Industrial Training Instructor I||1||1||1||1||1||1||1||1||1||1|
|Industrial Training Instructor II||7||8||8||8||8||8||8||8||8||8|
|Assistant Industrial Supervisor||12||12||12||14||14||15||17||17||17||23|
126. Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Justice his views on whether the substantial increase in crime in all areas is due to the lack of an effective Garda force on the beat; the plans he has to reverse the policy of concentration on mobile units which are less effective in combating street crime; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): I do not accept for a moment that there is a lack of an effecive Garda force on the beat. Overall Garda numbers have increased since the beginning of this year. In addition, 250 additional clerical staff are being recruited for the Garda Síochána to enable an equivalent number of gardaí to be released for outdoor duties in the prevention and detection of crime. Most of these have already been appointed and the remainder will be appointed shortly.
It is the firm policy of the Garda authorities to maximise, as far as possible, the number of gardaí deployed on outdoor foot patrols. The community policing scheme has an important role to play in this regard. Essentially what is involved in this scheme is the assignment of individual gardaí to full-time foot patrols duties in a particular area. The scheme has proved a very successful way of providing a more visible Garda presence in urban neighbourhoods.
Foot patrols on their own, however, cannot deal with all crime situations. Mobile Garda patrols play a vital role in policing and are essential, in particular, in allowing a rapid response to calls for assistance. The precise mix of foot and mobile patrols to be used in any given situation is a matter best left to the professional police judgment of the Garda authorities, who assure me that their policies in this regard are kept under constant review.
127. Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Justice if he has any plans to amend the law which gives privilege to certain categories in the State in relation to the Road Traffic Acts of 1961, 1978 and 1984; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): The Deputy's question is too vague — for example in relation to its reference to an unspecified privilege accorded to certain categories of persons — to enable me to provide him with a reply. I would point out, in any event, that the question of amending the Road Traffic Acts, which is what the Deputy appears to envisage,  is a matter for the Minister for the Environment.
128. Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Justice the plans he has to have documentation normally served by the Garda sent by registered post; when any such change will take effect; the number of man hours which will be released for more relevant police work in each division by this action; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): The Courts Act, 1991, which came into operation on 15 October 1991, provides for the service by registered post or any other system of recorded delivery, of District Court summonses in cases of summary jurisdiction. In this regard officials of my Department have been in dialogue for some months with officials from An Post in order to consider how best this can be done. They have also been examining office machinery to meet the particular requirements for the enveloping of the summonses.
The new arrangements, which will be introduced as soon as possible, will initially release up to 60 gardaí for other police duties. The bulk of the gardaí concerned would be serving in the Dublin metropolitan area, DMA. It is not possible to give a more precise statement of anticipated Garda manpower savings at this stage.
129. Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Justice if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the Drogheda courthouse is no longer in operation because it was deemed to be a dangerous building and that the district court is currently being held in a parochial hall which is totally inadequate for the conduct of court proceedings and is an insult to all who have to participate in proceedings there; if he will outline the plans he has to deal urgently with the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): I am aware of the position in relation to the courthouse in Drogheda. I am also aware that arrangements have been made by Louth County Council, the responsible authority, for the use of a local parochial hall for sittings of the District Court while the courthouse continues to be unavailable. I have been informed that these premises are regarded as suitable and adequate for the purpose.
With regard to the courthouse itself, the building in question is one of a number of courthouses throughout the country which require renovation. Because of the limited availability of financial resources priorities have to be established between the different courthouses requiring attention. Until the Estimates for 1992 are finalised the programme for 1992 cannot be settled and I cannot indicate at this stage what priority can be given to the courthouse in Drogheda. I will continue to keep the matter under review.
130. Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Justice the reason for the continuing delay in providing a new Garda station at Drogheda, County Louth; and if he will outline the number of new Garda stations which have been provided in each of the past five years and their location.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): The site purchased by the Office of Public Works for the new Garda district headquarters at Drogheda was subsequently found to be of archaeological interest. Consideration is being given at present to matters such as the design of the station in order to preserve certain archaeological features, having due regard to cost considerations. The matter is being proceeded with as quickly as possible.
The new Garda stations provided in each of the past five years are as follows:
|1987||1988||1989||1990||1991 To Date|
|Roxboro Road||Tuam||O'Connell Street,|
131. Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Justice if he will outline the criteria he uses for the appointment of (a) district justices, (b) Circuit Court judges and (c) judges of the High Court and Supreme Court; if he will further outline (1) the qualifications which are required in each case and (2) the special training, if any, which is required; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): In accordance with Articles 13.9 and 35.1 of the Constitution judicial appointments are made by the President acting on the advice of the Government. The requirements for appointment to the judiciary are prescribed by section 5, section 17, as amended by section 2 (2) of the Courts Act, 1973, and section 29 of the Courts (Supplemental Provisions) Act, 1961.
132. Mrs. Fennell asked the Minister for Justice the total allocation of funds made through the Criminal Injuries Tribunal in (1) 1988, (2) 1989 and (3) 1990; if there are vacancies of personnel in the tribunal; and the reason the 1989 report of the tribunal has not yet been published.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): The following amounts were paid by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal in the last year: 1988, £5,932,751.89; 1989, £2,340,558.18; 1990, £5,984,194.27 (provisional).
There are two vacancies existing in the membership of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal. I intend to appoint persons to fill these vacancies at an early date.
The report of the tribunal for 1989 has been submitted to my Department and arrangements are being made to have it published shortly.
133. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice if he will outline the implications of the rural policing programme for County Kildare; whether any new Garda stations are likely to be opened in this context; if so, the location of same; if the closure of any stations is proposed in the programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): To date, the new community policing scheme has been introduced in only two Garda sub-districts in County Kildare — Ballymore Eustace and Ballytore. For the purpose of implementing the scheme, Ballytore sub-district was transferred from the Kildare to the Baltinglass Garda district to form part of a new area administrative structure with headquarters at Baltinglass. Ballymore Eustace Garda sub-district is included in a new area with headquarters at Blessington.
Under the scheme both Ballymore Eustace and Ballytore stations now have guaranteed opening hours, improved co-operation with other stations in their respective administrative areas and gardaí attached to both stations have  more time for outdoor duty in the community. There has been no reduction in Garda strength at these stations and the local gardaí continue to operate from their stations.
There are no plans at present to extend the community policing scheme to the Naas and Kildare Garda districts which cover most of County Kildare. Accordingly it is not possible to say at this time what precise organisational and other implications would be involved in the extension of the community policing scheme to the county as a whole. The general aim of any extension of this excellent scheme would be to provide the kind of benefits which have already been provided in the areas to which it now applies; these include the allocation of additional personnel and resources, the introduction of guaranteed station opening hours and a reduction in indoor clerical duties in favour of increased outdoor operational duties. No Garda station will be closed under the scheme.
There are no proposals at present to provide an additional station in County Kildare.
134. Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Justice the largest calibre gun which is licensed for shooting game; and the number of such licences which were issued in the State in 1990.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): Since 1972 it has been general Garda policy to issue firearm certificates in respect of sporting firearms only, i.e. shotguns and rifles of a calibre not greater than .22 inches. A very limited number of certificates for heavier calibre rifles i.e. ranging in calibre from .243 to .308 inches have been issued mainly for deer culling. A .308 rifle is the heaviest calibre rifle authorised. However, in 1990 no firearm certificate for this calibre of rifle was issued.
135. Mr. Shatter asked the Minister for Justice the number of (a) indictable and (b) non-indictable offences from the period 1 January 1991 to 30 September 1991 within the areas covered by (i) Dundrum Garda station, (ii) Rathfarnham Garda station, (iii) Tallaght Garda station and (iv) Donnybrook Garda station; and the number of such offences reported within the area of the aforementioned Garda stations for the same period in 1990.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): I am informed by the Garda authorities that the information sought in relation to non-indictable offences is not available as statistics for such offences are compiled on an annual basis.
The number of indictable crimes recorded in the sub-districts of Dundrum, Rathfarnham, Tallaght and Donnybrook for the period 1 January to 30 September 1990 are set out in the tabular statement below. Statistics for the same period in 1991 are not yet finalised.
136. Mr. Shatter asked the Minister for Justice if he will outline (1) the number of proceedings issued seeking a decree of judicial separation pursuant to the Judicial Separation and Family Law Reform Act, 1989 in each of the years since the Act's commencement in (a) each of the eight Circuit Court areas, (b) the High Court, (2) the number of decrees of judicial separation granted in each of the years by the courts referred to in (a) and (b) and (3) in respect of decrees the grounds upon which such decrees have been made pursuant to section 2 of the aforesaid Act.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): In the legal year ended 31 July 1990, 528  applications for judicial separation pursuant to the Judicial Separation and Family Law Reform Act, 1989 were made and 155 decrees were granted in the Circuit Court, while 27 such applications were made and two decrees were granted in the High Court. Figures for the legal year ended 31 July 1991 are not yet fully compiled but will be forwarded to the Deputy when they come to hand. The other detailed information sought in the question is not readily available and could be compiled only by the expenditure of a disproportionate amount of staff time.
137. Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Justice if he has had any discussions with the insurance industry regarding (1) the number and cost of claims arising from malicious damage and (2) any measures which might be taken which would reduce the incidence of malicious damage, including the possibility of a levy on the insurance industry from which he could fund additional policing; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): I have not had any such discussion with the insurance industry.
The Garda authorities have informed me that they take all possible steps to prevent malicious damage to property; it is one of the matters to which gardaí on foot and mobile patrols pay special attention. In addition, advice on safeguarding property is offered to the public by the Garda community relations section and by local crime prevention officers. The Garda schools programme which is in operation in selected schools in Dublin and Limerick and which it is proposed to introduce to Cork, Galway and Waterford is designed to educate young people to have respect for the property of others. The Neighbourhood Watch programme is also an invaluable vehicle for promoting awareness of the problem and for encouraging sensible crime prevention precautions.
 The Garda Síochána is funded from the Garda Vote of my Department which, in turn, is funded directly by the Exchequer. There are no plans to change this.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that they welcome the involvement of the business community including the insurance industry in crime prevention activities and that a number of insurance firms have become involved in sponsorship of crime prevention projects. I would, of course, be pleased to see and would encourage increased involvement on the part of the business community in crime-prevention initiatives but I consider that such involvement should be on a voluntary basis.
138. Mr. McCartan asked the Minister for Justice if he will outline the review which has been carried out of the security procedures following a successful escape by a prisoner attending the outpatients' department of St. Mary's Hospital on 5 September 1991 having regard to the attempted escape in virtually the same circumstances of a prisoner attending the Mater Hospital only four days earlier; the reason steps were not taken following the attempted escape to prevent a recurrence; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): On 2 September 1991 an offender was escorted, in handcuffs, by two prison officers to the Mater Hospital. While in the hospital the two officers were attacked by two armed men and the prisoner was released. The officers immediately called the Garda and pursued the offender and his accomplices. With the assistance of the Garda they recaptured the offender and returned him to the prison. The Garda also arrested another man believed to be one of the accomplices. An investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident was immediately undertaken.
While the investigation into the Mater Hospital incident was under way a second incident occurred some three days later in  which an offender who was taken under escort, in handcuffs, by two prison officers to St. Mary's Hospital, Phoenix Park, was released. In this incident the prison officers while in the hospital were also attacked by two armed men who released the prisoner. The officers immediately informed the Garda and pursued the prisoner and his accomplices but they failed to apprehend any of them. The prisoner is still at large.
While the two incidents were similar the circumstances which gave rise to the assailants having prior knowledge of the offenders' scheduled visits to the hospitals were different. Consequently the steps subsequently taken to eliminate the security breach in the Mater Hospital case would not have prevented the security breach in the St. Mary's Hospital case.
Following these two incidents all procedures governing the attendance of offenders at hospitals have been reviewed and revised procedures have been put in place to ensure, as far as practicable, that the breaches in security which occurred in both cases do not occur again. All attendances at hospitals by prisoners involve risks and discussions are ongoing with hospital authorities about arrangements which will ensure that security for prisoners attending hospitals is maintained at a high level.
139. Mr. McCartan asked the Minister for Justice if his Department have met all the requirements to allow this country to sign the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that Ireland is now the only country not to have signed this convention; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): Ireland has signed but not yet ratified this Convention.
 The Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act, 1989 meets some of the obligations imposed by the provision of the Convention.
An inter-departmental examination is currently under way to identify any possible further legislative or administrative measures which may be required before it can be ratified.
140. Mr. S. Barrett asked the Minister for Justice when the five additional law centres, announced by him in May 1991, will come into operation.
147. Mrs. T. Ahearn asked the Minister for Justice when the five additional law centres for free legal aid, announced by him in May, 1991, will come into operation; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
148. Mrs. T. Ahearn asked the Minister for Justice if he will outline his plans, if any, for the expansion of the legal aid scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
149. Mrs. T. Ahearn asked the Minister for Justice if he intends to allow the involvement of private practitioners in the delivery of legal aid; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
152. Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Justice when the five additional law centres announced by him in May 1991 will actually come into operaiton; if he will give a commitment to (1) the continued expansion of the legal aid scheme in 1992 and (2) ensure the involvement of the private practitioner in the delivery of legal aid; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): I propose to take Questions Nos. 140, 147, 148, 149 and 152 together.
The record of the past two years or so is evidence that the Government are serious about the development of the legal aid scheme on a phased basis and  in line with what we can afford to pay. The board's grant-in-aid has been increased each year since 1989.
Last year a substantial number of solicitor posts were sanctioned for the board and most of its administrative vacancies were filled. In addition, four law centres which, up to then had been temporarily funded, were put on a permanent basis of Exchequer funding.
At present, the board are in the process of recruiting solicitors for the additional full-time law centres which they will be opening shorlty, and also to fill existing vacancies. I am told by the board that the first of the newly recruited solicitors took up duty with the board yesterday. The remainder will start as soon as the necessary recruitment procedures are completed. These, when in place, will bring the number of solicitors employed by the board to 39, their highest number yet, and should make a significant impact on the quality of service which the board provides.
I am advised by the board that the new centres at Castlebar, Letterkenny and Dundalk are expected to be in operation by December next while those in the Dublin area, at Finglas and Clondalkin, should be in operation early in the new year.
My views on the involvement of the private practitioner in the provision of civil legal aid were expressed to the House on my behalf by my colleague the Minister for Social Welfare, in the course of a Private Member's motion on legal aid (Dáil Debates for 20 February 1990; Volume 395; columns 2530 and 2531). I received a report from the legal aid board in October 1990 on the matter and subsequently I contacted the Law Society which agreed to establish a special committee to look at the matter. When I receive the views of the Law Society I will consider the matter further.
141. Mr. S. Barrett asked the Minister for Justice when he intends establishing the small claims procedure announced some time ago; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
150. Mrs. T. Ahearn asked the Minister for Justice when he intends to establish a small claims procedure; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): I propose to take Questions Nos. 141 and 150 together.
On 10 June 1991 I announced the introduction of a small claims procedure, as promised in the Programme for Economic and Social Progress.
The procedure will provide a quick, informal and inexpensive forum for resolving disputes which may be small in monetary terms but signficant to the parties involved. The procedure will be consumer-orientated and will relate to claims, such as faulty goods, goods not supplied and bad workmanship, which do not exceed in value the sum of £500.00. Claims related to personal injuries, damage arising from traffic accidents or hire purchase, leasing or other loan arrangements will not be covered by the proposed procedure.
The District Court Rules Committee have now formulated a set of rules for the operation of the procedure.
Arrangements are at an advanced stage for the commencement of the procedure in District Court offices in November. Initially, the procedure will operate on a pilot basis in two venues in the Dublin Metropolitan District and in Cork city and Sligo.
142. Mr. S. Barrett asked the Minister for Justice when he intends introducing legislation to implement the decision of the European Court of Human Rights on homosexual behaviour as set down in the Norris judgment; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): Legislation to comply with the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights  in this case is being prepared and will be announced in the normal manner as soon as possible.
143. Mr. Browne (Carlow-Kilkenny) asked the Minister for Justice the number of gardaí stationed in County Carlow in (a) 1981 and (b) 1991.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): I am informed by the Garda authorities that the number of members of the Garda Síochána assigned to stations in County Carlow on 30 September in each of the years 1981 and 1991 was 51 and 56 respectively.
144. Mrs. Fennell asked the Minister for Justice if he will outline the number of separations which have been granted in the Circuit Court in (1) 1989 and (2) 1990 since the passing of the Judical Separation and Family Law Reform Act, 1989.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): The Judicial Separation and Family Law Reform Act 1989 came into operation on 19 October 1989. Statistics of cases under this Act are compiled on the basis of the legal year. The number of separations granted for the legal year ended 31 July 1990 was as follows: Circuit Court — 155, High Court — 2.
Figures for the legal year ended 31 July 1991 are not yet fully compiled but will be forwarded to the Deputy when they come to hand.
145. Mr. McGrath asked the Minister for Justice when he intends to recoup Westmeath County Council the maintenance costs on courthouses in the county.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): The  question of recoupment of county councils in respect of expenditure incurred in the current year on courthouse maintenance will be decided before the end of the year.
146. Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice the reason Ireland continues to maintain a visa requirement for visitors from Poland who wish to come here; and whether there is a case for dropping this requirement in the light of the vastly changed circumstances in Poland.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): The question of whether a visa requirement for Polish nationals should be maintained has been reviewed from time to time and will continue to be so reviewed in the general context, not only of developments in Poland, but also of visa policy generally.
151. Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Justice if his attention has been drawn to the opposition to the rural policing plan by the Garda representative bodies on the basis that they are not properly equipped to operate the scheme effectively; if his attention has further been drawn to the strong opposition from rural groups to the scheme on the basis that it will remove local contact with the gardaí and lead to a substantial increase in crime in rural areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): I would refer the Deputy to my reply to Question No. 56 on today's Order Paper in so far as the availability of resources to operate the new community policing scheme is concerned.
I am not aware of any strong opposition to the community policing scheme on the grounds referred to in the question. The scheme is in fact designed to promote increased Garda community  contact and provide an effective response to crime in rural areas.
153. Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Justice the number of gardaí in each division who are engaged (a) full-time and (b) part-time in schools' attendance and related matters; the other duties performed by this group (1) during school term and (2) during school holidays; the total numbers engaged in this work by rank over the past five years; if he has any plans to have this work transferred to the Department of Education, vocational education committees or local authorities and have the service operated by the Department of Education; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): Full-time school attendance officers are employed by the borough councils in Dublin, Cork, Waterford and Dún Laoghaire. Outside of the borough areas, the Garda Síochána are the enforcing authority for the School Attendance Act, 1926.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that no member of the Garda Síochána is deployed full-time on school attendance duties. All the members who perform such duties are available for the full range of Garda duties.
 The Garda authorities also inform me that statistics are not maintained as to the total number of gardaí involved in school attendance or indeed any other particular duty in a given period. To do so would require the expenditure of an inordinate amount of Garda time and, in the absence of any clearly demonstrable benefit, I do not propose to ask the Garda authorities to consider such an exercise.
There are no proposals at present to transfer Garda responsibility in relation to school attendance to the Department of Education or any other body.
154. Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Justice if he will outline the plans he has to transfer the operation of public service vehicle inspection to the Department of the Environment to be operated by local authorities in line with decentralising policy and with a view to releasing the manpower involved for more relevant police work; the number of gardaí, by rank engaged in this work over the past five years in each division; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): I have no plans for the transfer of public service vehicle inspection to the Department of the Environment.
The number of gardaí, by rank, engaged in this work over the past five years in each division is as follows:
|Carlow/Kildare||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant|
|1 Garda||1 Garda||1 Garda||1 Garda||1 Garda|
|Cavan/Monaghan||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant|
|Clare||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant|
|Cork East||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant|
|2 Gardaí||1 Sergeant||2 Gardaí||2 Gardaí||2 Gardaí|
|Cork West||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Garda||1 Garda||1 Garda|
|Donegal||1 Garda||1 Garda||1 Garda||1 Garda||1 Garda|
|Galway West||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant|
|Kerry||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Garda|
|Leix/Offaly||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant|
|1 Garda||1 Garda||1 Garda||1 Garda||1 Garda|
|Limerick||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant|
|Longford/Westmeath||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant|
|1 Garda||2 Gardaí||2 Gardaí||2 Gardaí||2 Gardaí|
|Mayo||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant|
|Roscommon/Galway East||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant|
|Sligo/Leitrim||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Garda||1 Garda|
|Tipperary||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant|
|Waterford/Kilkenny||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant|
|Wexford||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant||1 Sergeant|
|DMA||2 Sergeants||2 Sergeants||2 Sergeants||2 Sergeants|
|8 Gardaí||7 Gardaí||7 Gardaí||7 Gardaí||7 Gardaí|
156. Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Justice if he will outline the names and duties of appointment of the Commissioners of Charitable Donations and Bequests; the number and grade of staff allocated to the Office of the Commissioners in April 1981 and currently; the date that the last report of the commissioners was published and the year to which it related; whether he has yet received the 1990 report in draft form; the date that the 1990 report will be published and presented to the Oireachtas; the amount of funds currently supervised by the commissioners; the number of charities which are registered; and whether, having regard to the publication of the Costello report, he will make a statement on his legislative intentions in this area.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): The members of the Board of Commissioners of Charitable Donations and Bequests and the dates of their appointment are: The Honourable Mr. James McMahon, SC (Chairman), 20/12/73; The Honourable Mr. A. Denis Pringle, SC, 25/5/65; Oliver D. Gogarty, SC, 24/1/75; Peter Donald Maziere Prentice, Solicitor, 4/4/75; Right Rev. Monsignor James Ardle McMahon, PP, DCL, 5/11/75; C. Garrett Walker, FCA, 14/2/78; John Astle Garvey, 12/6/79; Colm Gaynor, BCL, Solicitor, 12/6/79; Rev. Canon Charles Trevelyan, Aubrey Carter, MA, 10/2/81; The Honourable Mr. Justice Francis D. Murphy, 6/4/84; The Honourable Miss Justice Mella Carroll, 6/4/84.
There are no vacancies in the membership of the board.
The information sought in relation to the number and grades of staff allocated to the Office of Charitable Donations and Bequests is as follows:
|Higher Executive Officer||1||1|
The annual report of the Commissioners for 1988 was published in November 1990. The annual report for 1989 has been presented to my Department and will be published in the near future. I am informed that the annual report for 1990 is in the course of preparation and will be submitted to my Department as soon as possible.
The commissioners' common investment fund was valued at IR£13.976 million on 30 June last — this fund is valued twice yearly on 30 June and 31 December. On the 30 September last the commissioners had IR£3,196,522.01 on three month deposit with the Trustee Savings Bank.
There is no register of charities in the State and charities are, therefore, not required to be registered.
Work on the preparation of legislative proposals based on the report of the committee established under the chairmanship of Mr. Justice Declan Costello is progressing as quickly as resources and other urgent legislative priorities in my Department permit.
157. Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Justice if he will outline (1) the number of pawnbroker licences issued as at 1 April 1991, (2) the maximum amount of interest that a pawnbroker may charge, (3) the legislation by which a licence may be issued, (4) the names and addresses of those who currently hold such licences and (5) whether a review of the legislation is warranted having regard to the review underway at present into money-lending under the Moneylenders Act, 1900 and 1933; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): The issue of pawnbrokers licences is a matter for the Revenue Commissioners in accordance with section 8 of the Pawnbrokers Act, 1964. I have been informed that there were five licences issued as at 1 April 1991 and that there are four licences issued at present.
The four current licence holders are:
(1) John Brereton Pawnbroker Limited, 108 Capel Street, Dublin 1.
(2) Peter Healy, 53 Lower Clanbrassil Street, Dublin 8.
(3) Veronica Smith, 69 Queen Street, Dublin 7.
(4) Carthy Pawnbroking Limited, 85 Marlboro Street, Dublin 1.
Sections 15 and 20 of the Pawnbrokers Act, 1964, and the Third and Fifth Schedules of the Act make provision for interest rates chargeable by pawnbrokers.
The legislation governing the operation of pawnbrokers, together with that governing moneylenders, is currently being reviewed in the context of the EC Directive on Consumer Credit, implementation of which is a matter for the Minister for Industry and Commerce.
161. Mr. Barry asked the Minister for Justice the reason for the long delay in introducing legislation to allow for the registration, as Irish citizens, of those who applied for citizenship before 31 December 1986 but who, because of the volume of applications, were not registered at that time.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): As I have informed the House on previous occasions, I could not undertake, by way of response to a parliamentary question, to disclose what particular legislative proposals I have in mind. Any such proposals will, in the normal way, be brought before the Government, and, if approved, will be announced in the usual manner.
162. Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Justice his views on whether the Official IRA is still in existence; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
163. Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Justice if he will elaborate on his statement to Dáil Éireann on 16 October 1991 arising from a recent British television programme, that The Workers' Party are funded in part by the Official IRA; and his views on the appropriate action which should be taken in this regard.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): I propose to take Questions Nos. 162 and 163 together.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that they are satisfied that the so-called “Official” IRA still exists.
With regard to the allegations contained in a recent British television programme, the position, as I have already stated in this House, is that a number of extremely serious allegations were made on the programme in question and that these have not been answered. Since I made my statement, of course, there have been further media allegations.
As to the appropriate action to be taken, the position is that the IRA is an illegal organisation which continues to be the subject of ongoing attention by the gardaí. It would not be appropriate for me, in the circumstances, to say anything further in relation to specific allegations concerning that organisation or its  alleged connections which would go beyond what has already become the subject of public comment through the media.
165. Mr. S. Barrett asked the Minister for the Environment if he will outline the circumstances where on-the-spot fines are applied under various Acts; if he has any proposals to extend the use of on-the-spot fines; and when he intends making the necessary changes to allow for this.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Flynn): I refer to the reply to Question No. 103 of 9 July 1991 which sets out details of the road traffic and vehicle offences to which the on-the-spot fine system applies. I have no proposals to extend the system to other traffic or vehicles offences at this stage but the position will be kept under review.
Information in respect of other legislation for which I am responsible is being compiled and will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.
166. Mr. O'Leary asked the Minister for the Environment when work will commence on the proposed Coolick group water supply scheme in Kilcummin, Killarney, County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Mr. Connolly): The group's revised design is awaiting approval by Kerry County Council. When this is received, the group will be requested to submit tenders for the proposed works. It is not possible at this stage to indicate when work will commence.
167. Mr. Bell asked the Minister for the Environment whether in the case where a tenant is in the process of purchasing a dwelling on the tenant purchase scheme and discharges the balance of the purchase money in full payment to the local authority, there is any legal charge to the tenant to have the discharge completed; if so, if he will outline the charges which apply; and if any such charges should be borne by the local authority.
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Mr. Connolly): I am not aware of any such charges.
168. Mr. Yates asked the Minister for the Environment the reason for the delay in processing the tenders for the second phase of the main drainage scheme in Enniscorthy, County Wexford; when a decision will be made to approve the appropriate tender; and if he will expedite matters in this regard.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Flynn): These tenders are under consideration in my Department. Having regard to the existing level of commitments and the competing demands of schemes throughout the country, I am not in a position to say when a decision will be made.
169. Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for the Environment if he will outline the policy of his Department in relation to encouraging efficient and cost-saving dovetailing of sewage pipe laying works and road surfacing works; if he will ensure that local authorities who harmonise such works are not penalised for doing so; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Flynn): I agree that the economic benefits of dovetailing separate contracts or programmes should be fully realised and that  the efficiency of capital expenditure financed by the Exchequer should be maximised. It has accordingly been the long-standing policy and practice of my Department to promote as far as possible a co-ordinated approach to the construction of schemes on both the roads and water and sanitary services capital programmes.
170. Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for the Environment if he will ensure that Wexford County Council receive immediate payments from his Department of all outstanding moneys due for the work carried out on the Fardystown regional water supply scheme and for road building works on the N25.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Flynn): Grants totalling £1,070,200 have been allocated to Wexford County Council for all approved works in relation to Fardystown regional water supply scheme in 1991. To date £753,844 has been paid to the council and further payments will be made in due course and following request. There are no outstanding moneys due on the approved works.
In the current year, a road grant of £1 million has been allocated and fully paid to Wexford County Council in respect of pavement improvement works on the Rosslare-Wexford section of the N25. A grant of £40,000 has been allocated to the local authority for site investigation works at Barntown, also on the N25. This grant will be paid on receipt of returns showing that expenditure has been incurred on this work by the local authority.
171. Mr. O'Leary asked the Minister for the Environment when work will commence on the proposed Annabla-Toorenamult group water scheme which will enable a greater and better supply of water for the Gneeveguilla area of County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Mr. Connolly): The group have prepared a revised design and new tenders are awaited for the updated proposal. It is not possible at this stage to say when work will commence.
172. Mr. G. O'Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment when the refurbishment contract for Cork Corporation regarding phase 2 of Barrett's Buildings, which is being modernised for the benefit of the elderly, will be sanctioned and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Mr. Connolly): Tender documentation for this scheme is under consideration and a decision will be made as soon as possible.
173. Mr. G. O'Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment if, having regard to the serious housing situation in Cork city, he will outline when sanction will be given for the refurbishment of Baker's Road flat complex; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Mr. Connolly): An application for funding under the remedial works scheme for this project is under examination and a decision will be made as soon as possible.
174. Mr. G. O'Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment when sanction will be given for refurbishment of contract Mayfield 15 by Cork Corporation; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Mr. Connolly): Tender documentation for this work is under consideration and a decision will be made as soon as possible.
175. Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for the Environment the up-to-date position regarding the provision of a sewerage scheme for Ballybunion, County Kerry; and when work will commence on the project.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Flynn): Tenders for this scheme were approved in August 1991. It is now a matter for the county council to advance the scheme to construction stage.
176. Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for the Environment when work is expected to commence on the Brosna water scheme in County Kerry.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Flynn): Contract documents for this scheme were submitted to my Department earlier this year. My Department are awaiting confirmation from Kerry County Council that all planning arrangements for the scheme have been completed.
177. Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for the Environment the present position regarding the proposed housing scheme for Falcarragh, County Donegal; the number of houses planned for this scheme; whether it is envisaged that work will commence on the project this year; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Mr. Connolly): Approval issued to Donegal County Council in May 1991 to seek tenders for the construction of a ten house scheme at Falcarragh. It is understood from the county council that tenders have been received and that it is hoped to commence work in the near future.
178. Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for the Environment when work is expected to commence on the Lyreacrompane/Rathae water scheme.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Flynn): The group have prepared a revised design and new tenders are awaited for the updated proposal. It is not possible at this stage to say when work will commence.
179. Mr. L. Fitzgerald asked the Minister for the Environment when a new house grant will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Wexford.
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Mr. Connolly): The receipt of additional documentation requested from the applicant is awaited.
180. Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for the Environment his views on whether those parts of the country without national primary roads suffer financial discrimination in rural fundings; and whether he has any proposals for funding equalisation.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Flynn): My Department have commissioned a study on rate support grant distribution across all local authorities on a system of equalisation. On receipt of  the report, which is expected at the end of the year, the Government will bring forward a new equalisation system for allocating general purpose grants, including the rate support grant, on a composite block grant basis.
181. Mr. J. Fahey asked the Minister for the Environment the up-to-date position regarding the mortgage subsidy application of a person (details supplied) in County Cork.
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Mr. Connolly): There is no record of the receipt of an application for a mortgage subsidy from the person named at the address given.
182. Mr. L. Fitzgerald asked the Minister for the Environment when a house improvement grant will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Wexford.
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Mr. Connolly): The receipt of additional information requested from the applicant is awaited.
183. Mr. L. Fitzgerald asked the Minister for the Environment when a house improvement grant will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Wexford.
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Mr. Connolly): A grant cannot be paid as notification of completion of the works was not received by 31 May 1990, the final date for its receipt.
184. Mrs. T. Ahearn asked the Minister for Health if he will outline the funding which is provided by his Department for citizens information centres; if he intends to increase this funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
186. Mr. S. Barrett asked the Minister for Health if he intends providing funding and support to ensure the continued development of the existing networks of information and advice services through the citizens information centres.
187. Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Health if the Government will provide funding and support to ensure the continued development of the existing networks of information and advice services through the citizens information centres; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): I propose to take Questions Nos. 184, 186 and 187 together.
Funding and other support services for the network of 78 citizens information centres throughout the country are provided by the National Social Services Board, under the aegis of my Department. It is estimated that expenditure by the board in respect of the centres will amount to approximately £150,000 in 1991. The level of future funding for the centres will be a matter for the board to decide in the light of its 1992 allocation.
185. Mr. Spring asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the practice among some agencies providing services for people with a mental handicap whereby recipients of the disabled person's maintenance allowance are required to sign over the allowance to the agency as a condition of receiving service; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
204. Mr. Spring asked the Minister for Health the reasons some of the agencies offering services for people with a mental handicap under his overall control require all beneficiaries of such service to sign over their disabled person's maintenance allowance to the agency concerned as a condition of entry to the service; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Health (Dr. Rory O'Hanlon): I propose to take Questions Nos. 185 and 204 together.
I am not aware of any agency which obliges people with a mental handicap to sign over their disabled persons maintenance allowance as a condition of entry to service. In cases where people are attending training centres their DPMA or training allowance is paid to them through the agency whose services they are attending. In addition, they may also receive an attendance or training allowance. If the Deputy has details of any instances of persons being required to sign over the DPMA I will have these investigated.
188. Mr. Connor asked the Minister for Health the total amount of national lottery funds made available in County Roscommon by his Department.
Mr. Kenny: asked he Minister for Health the total amount of national lottery funds made available in County Mayo by his Department.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): I propose to take Questions Nos. 188 and 213 together.
Projects in Counties Mayo and Roscommon funded from the health allocation of national lottery funds are shown on the following lists, as well as projects which relate to the Western Health Board area as a whole rather than to particular counties.
Distribution of the 1991 lottery allocation has not yet been finalised.
National Lottery Allocation 1987-90
|Achill Day Care Centre, voluntary committee — Provision of day care facilities for the elderly||40,000||40,000|
|Castlebar Social Services Council — Repairs to accommodation for the elderly||7,000|
|Claremorris Social Service Centre — Grant towards new centre||10,000|
|Sacred Heart Home, Castlebar — Provision of rotary beds||3,000|
|Sector Headquarters-day centre for psychiatric patients, Claremorris-Grant toward purchase and refurbishment of a house for use as a sector headquarters-day centre for the elderly||50,000|
|Order of Malta, Achill — Purchase of an ambulance||10,000|
|Ballina Invalid Residential Care Group Limited — Contribution towards the provision of accommodation for the aged and disabled||10,000|
|Crossmolina “Meals-on-Wheels”— Contribution towards running costs||5,000|
|Minibus-Ambulance for St. John's Rest and Care Centre and St. Joseph's Hostel, Knock||15,000|
|Mulranny Social Service Council-Day Care Committee — Extension of facilities for day care and elderly||10,000|
|Tourmakeday Day Care Committee — Provision of facilities for elderly||4,000|
|Castlebar Social Services — Provision of alarm system for elderly living alone||2,000|
|Castlerea Social Services Council — Capital grant towards construction of a day centre for the elderly||60,000|
|Aughoo Social Services Council — Capital grant towards construction of a day centre for the elderly||34,000|
|Lisnamult Residents and Tenants Association, Community Centre||4,000|
|Castlerea Social Services Council — Completion of Social Centre for elderly and handicapped||10,000|
|Knockroghery Community Council — Refurbishment of Community Centre||4,835|
|Up-grading of geriatric day care facilities at Sacred Heart Home, Roscommon||8,170|
|WESTERN HEALTH BOARD|
|Book on Mental Handicap||3,000|
|Improved services for the assessment of alleged cases of child sexual abuse||55,000||55,000||55,000|
|Services for the Elderly||307,500|
|Pioneer Association — Making video on alcohol use and abuse for circulation to schools||2,000|
|Purchase of visual aids for Health Education||4,498|
|Funding of Speak Week — Awareness Programme||1,332|
|National Council for the Blind — Talking book service||2,000|
|Western Care Association — Replacement of minibus||30,000|
189. Dr. O'Connell asked the Minister for Health the amount of money spent in the last three years on developing orthopaedic services at Cappagh, St. Vincent's, Elm Park, and St. Colmcille's, Loughlinstown, hospitals.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): The additional funds which I have allocated for development of orthopaedic services are as follows:
|Additional Revenue Allocation||Capital Allocation|
St. Vincent's Hospital, Elm Park
|Additional Revenue Allocation||Capital Allocation|
St. Columcille's Hospital, Loughlinstown
|Additional Revenue Allocation||Capital Allocation|
190. Dr. O'Connell asked the Minister for Health the number of hip and knee replacement operations carried out at Cappagh, St. Vincent's, Elm Park, and St. Columcille's, Loughlinstown, hospitals.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): The information requested by the Deputy is as follows:
No hip and knee replacement operations are performed at St. Vincent's, Elm Park, or St. Columcille's, Loughlinstown.
191. Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Health the current position regarding an application for a domiciliary care allowance on behalf of a child (details supplied) in Dublin 12; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): Payment of domiciliary care allowance in any individual case is a matter for the health board concerned. Accordingly, the Deputy's question has been referred to the chief executive officer, Eastern Health Board with a request that he reply directly to the Deputy as a matter of urgency.
192. Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Health the current position regarding an application for a disabled person's maintenance allowance by a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12 on 19 September 1990; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the applicant was examined by the medical staff of his local health centre on 12 November 1990; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): Payment of disabled person's maintenance allowance in any individual case is a matter for the health board concerned. Accordingly, the Deputy's question has been referred to the chief executive officer, Eastern Health Board, with a request that he reply directly to the Deputy as a matter of urgency.
193. Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Health when he will approve the appointment of four non-consultant hospital doctors, 15 paediatric nurses and two non-nursing staff to Wexford General Hospital to maintain an adequate paediatric support service.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): The South Eastern Health Board have recently made proposals in relation to the support staffing associated with the appointment of a consultant paediatrician at Wexford General Hospital and these are currently under consideration by my Department.
I expect that this examination will conclude shortly.
194. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Health if he will give details of recent studies on the number of Down's Syndrome cases in Ireland and any noticeably geographic prevalence of this condition; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): I assume that the Deputy is referring to the Health Research Board Eurocat Report on the Surveillance of Congenital Anomalies in the Eastern Health Board Region 1980-1987. The report indicates that the incidence of Down's Syndrome per 10,000 total births fell from 19.8 in 1980 to 15.1 in 1987. Since incidence figures are only available in the Eastern Health Board region, it is not possible to produce comparative figures for different parts of the country.
195. Mr. Spring asked the Minister for Health if he will outline the total amount of money spent on providing services for people with a mental handicap, excluding all moneys spent on the provision of the disabled person's maintenance allowance, within each of the health board areas in each of the last five years; and if he will differentiate between money spent by health boards, other State agencies and voluntary agencies; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
197. Mr. Spring asked the Minister for Health if he will outline the money spent on the provision of services for people with a mental handicap in the Eastern Health Board area, on an agency by agency basis, for each of the last five years; and if he will give a breakdown of the money on a service basis, such as residential care, vocational training, sheltered workshops and community care services; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): I propose to take Questions Nos. 195 and 197 together.
All the information requested by the Deputy is not readily available for the period in question. It is being collected by my Department and will be provided to the Deputy as soon as possible.
196. Mr. Spring asked the Minister for Health if he will outline the role played by the National Rehabilitation Board in allocating funds for services for people with a mental handicap; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
198. Mr. Spring asked the Minister for Health if, in respect of vocational training services for people with a mental handicap, he will outline (a) the resources spent by his Department, (b) the resources supplied from the European Social Fund, (c) the resources supplied by voluntary agencies and (d) any other sources of funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
199. Mr. Spring asked the Minister for Health if he will outline the conditions attaching to moneys provided by the European Social Fund for the provision of training services for people with a mental handicap; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
202. Mr. Spring asked the Minister for Health the reason some people with a mental handicap require assessment by the National Rehabilitation Board before being accepted for vocational training in addition to assessments carried out within the existing services; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
203. Mr. Spring asked the Minister for Health if it is the case that no funding can be made available for vocational training programmes from the European Social Fund unless those training programmes are in a position to guarantee open employment at the end of the training period; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
205. Mr. Spring asked the Minister for Health the steps he takes to monitor the spending of European Social Fund and other moneys, including moneys they collect on a voluntary basis, by agencies providing service for people with a mental handicap; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
206. Mr. Spring asked the Minister for Health if he will outline the nature and type of assessments carried out by the National Rehabilitation Board in any case where they are assessing people with a mental handicap as to their suitability for training; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): I propose to take Questions Nos. 196, 198, 199, 202, 203, 205 and 206 together.
The European Social Fund provides financial assistance to vocational training programmes which are aimed at providing persons with open employment. This does not mean that training programmes must guarantee open employment at the end of the training period.
The main conditions attaching to moneys provided by the ESF for the provision of training services for people with disabilities, including people with a mental handicap, are contained in the “Standard Clauses — Commission Requirements” attaching to the Operational Programme for the Integration of Disabled People and in the EC Council Regulation No. 4255/88 of 19 December 1988. I am arranging to forward copies of these documents to the Deputy.
The European Social Fund allocated a total of £24.853 million in 1991 for expenditure on eligible vocational training activities for persons with disabilities in Ireland. The matching public authority  funding of £13.4 million is provided by my Department. Approximately 50 per cent of these moneys is allocated in respect of people with a mental handicap. In addition, agencies provide from within their overall allocations, non-ESF eligible training programmes such as sheltered employment, occupational therapy, day services, etc. As these are regarded as an integral part of the overall services provided by the agencies, a breakdown of the amounts spent on individual services is not available.
European Social Fund moneys approved in respect of Ireland's Operational Programme for the Integration of Disabled People are administered by the National Rehabilitation Board. The NRB is the body responsible to my Department for the preparation of ESF claims and applications to the EC Commission. All such claims are submitted to my Department by the NRB and are then channelled to the Commission via the Department of Labour, which has national co-ordinating responsibility for ESF matters. The NRB is also responsible for the co-ordination and monitoring of all aspects of ESF-assisted training programmes for people with disabilities. Staff of the NRB are in regular contact with the training agencies to ensure full compliance with the regulations.
The European Commission also monitors ESF assisted activity at both national and European level. A national monitoring committee, chaired by my Department, reviews expenditure and the quantative and qualitative aspects of the programme. Members of this committee include representatives of the Departments of Health, Labour and Finance, the training agencies and the EC Commission. The Commission have expressed satisfaction at the monitoring arrangements for the programme.
I have no function in relation to the monitoring of funds collected on a voluntary basis by agencies providing services for people with a mental handicap. However, the audited accounts of the agencies give details of voluntary contributions.
 In order to fulfil its vocational guidance function to people with disabilities, NRB use a range of assessment techniques to identify vocational strengths and weaknesses. These include interviews, psychometric testing and situational assessment as appropriate. Persons who are considered suitable for ESF funded programmes are independently assessed by the NRB to ensure their eligibility for such funding. The nature of this assessment is an interview by a vocational officer which may be supplemented by additional functional measures of basic skills in four domains which are relevant to vocational potential, viz, cognitive, motor perceptual and social-adaptive behaviour. This functional assessment allows an initial evaluation which helps to ensure that vocational functioning in any of these areas is recognised and given appropriate weight in the judgment of eligibility for ESF funding.
200. Mr. Spring asked the Minister for Health if he will give details of his current policy in relation to the provision of sheltered employment for people with a mental handicap; the amount of resources allocated for that purpose in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
208. Mr. Spring asked the Minister for Health the number of people with a mental handicap who are in receipt of vocational training services in each health board region; the number of additional places required; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
209. Mr. Spring asked the Minister for Health the number of people with a mental handicap who are in sheltered employment in each health board region; the number of additional places required; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
210. Mr. Spring asked the Minister for Health the number of places available for people with a mental handicap in (a) vocational training and (b) sheltered employment in each health board area for each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): I propose to take Questions Nos. 200, 208, 209 and 210 together.
The Report of the Review Group on Mental Handicap Services — Needs and Abilities deals with the issues of training and employment of people with mental handicap. The report, which has been adopted by Government in principle, stresses the importance of continuing the stimulus and effort provided in early intervention and school programmes throughout adulthood. It recommends that all pupils who avail of special educational programmes should have access to pre-vocational and vocational training. It recognises that on completion of training, and where open employment is not possible, the majority of people with mental handicap will require employment in a sheltered environment.
The report recommends that the Department of Labour should play a greater role in the training and employment of people with mental handicap who are capable of following the training provided and who are suitable for open employment. Discussions will shortly take place with the Department of Labour on this matter.
The number of places in day workshops and training centres for people with mental handicap increased from 2,485 in 1985 to 3,423 in 1990. It is not possible from the information available to the Department to distinguish between the number of people with mental handicap who are in sheltered employment and those in vocational training or the number of places involved. The provision of vocational training and sheltered employment is an integral part of the services provided for people with mental handicap and separate expenditure figures are not available.
201. Mr. Spring asked the Minister for Health if he will give details of his current policy in relation to integration of people with a mental handicap into the community; the amount of resources allocated for that purpose in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): My Department's policy on the provision of services for people with mental handicap is outlined in the Report of the Review Group on Mental Handicap Services — Needs and Abilities.
The report indicates that with adequate support, the majority of people with mental handicap can live in the community. The Government have accepted the recommendations of the report in principle and are committed to their implementation under the Programme for Economic and Social Progress.
The number of hostels and supervised lodgings has increased from 127 in 1985 to 242 in 1990. The number of places in these hostels and lodgings has increased from 773 to 1,492 in the same period. The number of places in day care units and workshops has increased from 3,962 in 1985 to 5,476 in 1990.
The integration of people with a mental handicap into the community is an integral part of service provision for which separate expenditure figures are not available.
207. Mr. Spring asked the Minister for Health if all of the agencies providing services for people with a mental handicap furnish him with detailed annual accounts; if he has satisfied himself in all cases with the accounting procedures followed; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): Almost all of the major agencies providing services for people with a mental handicap are directly funded by my Department. Each of the agencies is required to submit annual accounts to my Department. As with all voluntary agencies funded by my Department, the  independent auditor's report on the annual accounts certifies that the accounts presented are in compliance with standard auditing requirements.
Some mental handicap agencies receive grants from health boards in accordance with section 65 of the Health Act, 1953. Such agencies are required to submit detailed accounts to the appropriate health board.
211. Mr. Spring asked the Minister for Health the reason he has not responded in any way, other than an acknowledgment, to a detailed and lengthy report on the facilities available in the Dublin area for young people with a mental handicap which was prepared and sent to him some months ago by the mothers of three such young people; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): The report referred to by the Deputy is being examined in my Department. A meeting has been arranged in the near future between officials of my Department and the authors of the report to discuss its contents and recommendations.
212. Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Health the progress which has been made on the recommendations of the working party on the education and training of severely and profoundly mentally handicapped children (1983) in so far as they involved his Department and, in particular, the proposals that (a) each care unit should have a minimum non-teaching front line staff of 15 for each group of 50 children, (b) schools for children with moderate handicap which admit persons with severe and profound handicaps would get extra resources and (c) a comprehensive transport service would be provided to centres.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): The lead role for the implementation of the recommendations of the report on The Education and Training of Severely  and Profoundly Mentally Handicapped Children in Ireland, is a matter for the Minister for Education.
The report recommended the introduction of teaching staff to develop education programmes for children with severe and profound mental handicap who are being cared for in centres funded through my Department. It is the policy of my Department to facilitate the implementation of the recommendations of the report.
It is the responsibility of the individual mental handicap agencies to decide the level of front line staff in care units for children with severe and profound mental handicap in the light of the needs of the children and the resources available.
I understand from my colleague, the Minister for Education, that children attending these services are facilitated by the school transport system or parents are grant assisted to enable them to make their own transport arrangements.
214. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Health if he will instruct the South-Eastern Health Board to grant officer status to home help organisers in their area in view of the fact that other organisers who were not appointed to officer posts were subsequently granted such status within a different health board region as in the case of a person (details supplied) in Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): The status of home help organiser posts in the South-Eastern Health Board area is the subject of on-going examination by my Department. I will communicate further with the Deputy when this examination is concluded.
215. Mrs. T. Ahearn asked the Minister for Health the number of handicapped children awaiting day care in the constituency of South Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
216. Mrs. T. Ahearn asked the Minister for Health the number of handicapped children awaiting residential care in the Dáil constituency of South Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): I propose to take Questions Nos. 215 and 216 together.
The number of children on the residential waiting list in South Tipperary is six. There are no children on the waiting list for day care in South Tipperary.
Additional services will be provided in the area in line with the priority developments being agreed by the mental handicap co-ordinating committee in the South-Eastern Health Board area and the resources available for new services as provided for under the Programme for Economic and Social Progress.
217. Mr. Wyse asked the Minister for Health when he will be in a position to announce the setting up of an independent appeals office for medical card applicants; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): Arrangements for the establishment of an appeals mechanism for medical card applicants are currently in train and I would expect to be in a position to make a detailed announcement on the matter in the near future.
218. Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Health the up-to-date position regarding the proposed community centre and old people's houses planned for Creeslough, County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): The project referred to concerns the provision of a day centre and 14 residential units for the elderly by the local St. Vincent de Paul Society in association with the North-Western Health Board.
The North-Western Health Board have informed me that planning permission has recently been received from Donegal County Council in respect of the development and documentation has been forwarded to the St. Vincent de Paul Society for completion in respect of their grant application to the Department of the Environment.
219. Mr. G. O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health if he will consider giving urgent attention to the case of a person (details supplied) in Cork who needs to have an eye test in view of his age and medical condition.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): The provision of ophthalmic services to eligible persons in the Cork area is the responsibility of the Southern Health Board.
I have referred the Deputy's request to the chief executive officer of the board and asked him to reply to the Deputy in the matter.
220. Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Health if he will outline the services which are available to persons with a mental handicap in conformity with Table F3 in his Department's 1988 Health Statistics in (1) 1989 and (2) 1990; and if he will further outline his projections of the increased number of places provided under each category during each of the years 1990 and 1991.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): The level of service provision for people with a mental handicap in 1989 and 1990 is outlined in the following tables.
In 1990 the Government provided an additional £2 million in the budget which provided an additional 149 residential  places, 21 respite places catering for about 200 people, 442 day places and over 25 staff for other supports. These additional places are reflected in the 1990 table. In this year's budget a further £1 million was provided to build on last  year's developments. This provision will enable 20 residential places to be provided in Cheeverstown House and 27 residential places to be provided in Aras Attracta, Swinford as well as additional respite care in each health board area.
Level of Service Provision for People with Mental Handicap in 1989
|Setting/Service||Number of Centres||Age Range||Degree of Handicap||Overall Total|
|Mild||Moderate Severe and Profound||All Degrees|
|Male||Female||Male||Female||Total Male||Total Female|
|Special residential centres operated by health boards and voluntary agencies Hostels and supervised lodgings||53||All ages||289||237||2,100||2,007||2,389||2,244||4,633|
|Day care attenders at special residential centres operated by voluntary agencies||22||All ages||21||48||213||262||234||310||544|
|Day workshop and training centres, at special residential centres operated by health boards and voluntary agencies||15||All ages||86||95||129||130||215||225||440|
|Day care centres||58||All ages||88||67||680||524||768||591||1,359|
|Day workshops and occupational training centres||75||All ages||660||543||922||741||1,582||1,284||2,866|
Level of Service Provision for People with Mental Handicap in 1990
|Setting/Service||Number of Centres||Age Range||Degree of Handicap||Overall Total|
|Mild||Moderate Severe and Profound||All Degrees|
|Male||Female||Male||Female||Total Male||Total Female|
|Special residential centres operated by health boards and voluntary agencies Hostels and supervised lodgings||55||All ages||228||155||2,120||2,045||2,348||2,200||4,548|
|Day care attenders at special residential centres operated by health boards and voluntary agencies||30||All ages||62||35||302||242||364||276||640|
|Day workshop and training centres, at special residential centres operated by health boards and voluntary agencies||15||All ages||57||37||119||127||176||164||340|
|Day care centres||66||All ages||62||44||726||581||788||625||1,413|
|Day workshops and occupational training centres||86||All ages||711||567||953||852||1,664||1,419||3,083|
221. Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Health the value of national lottery funds channelled through his Department during 1991; if he will outline the particular service on which these funds were spent; and if he will further outline the amount of money which went to services provided by (a) voluntary agencies and (b) statutory agencies.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): The total allocation of lottery funds to my Department for 1991 is £16.890 million. The main headings under which this money is being allocated are as follows:
|Services for the Elderly||5.000|
|Services for the Mentally Handicapped||1.000|
|Block Grants to Health Boards||1.500|
|Child Care Services||0.510|
|National Social Services Board||0.845|
|Public Health Services||0.700|
The balance of £1.795 million is made up mainly of grants to various voluntary bodies. It is not possible to provide a breakdown of lottery expenditure between voluntary and statutory agencies because the distribution of funds under the various headings above, which involves allocations to both voluntary and statutory agencies, has not yet been finalised.
222. Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Health if he will outline the present number of people on public waiting lists; the estimated number who will be operated on during 1991; the average duration of waiting in respect of each of the following major areas of surgery (1) orthopaedic, (2) ophthalmic, (3) ENTs, (4) cardiac, (5) urology, (6) neurosurgery, (7) plastic surgery.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): The detailed information requested by the Deputy is at present being compiled by my Department. I will forward this information to the Deputy as soon as possible.
223. Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Education the progress which has been made on the recommendations of the working party on the education and training of severely and profoundly mentally handicapped children which were made in 1983 in so far as they involved her Department with particular reference to the proposals that (a) teachers be introduced to day care centres at a ratio 1:12, (b) schools for children with moderate handicap which admit persons with severe and profound handicaps would get extra resources and (c) a comprehensive transport service would be provided to centres.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): Arising from the recommendations to which the Deputy refers, there are now 17 teaching posts dedicated to severely and profoundly mentally handicapped children.
The children in question are catered for either in special classes attached to schools for moderate mental handicap or in special care units serviced by a specially allocated teacher. At present there are eight such special classes and nine care units involved. The pupil teacher ratio in such cases is 12:1.
Where transport is required for such children, they are fully facilitated either  under the special school transport system or, if necessary, through the provision of grant assistance to enable parents to make private transport arrangements.
224. Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Education if she will outline the number of persons (a) with a physical handicap, (b) with a mild mental handicap, (c) with a moderate mental handicap, (d) with a severe mental handicap and (e) with a profound mental handicap who are in the primary or special school system; and if she will further outline in respect of each, the number in (1) integrated national schools, (2) special classes and (3) special schools; and if she will make a statement on her proposals for the development of services for persons with a handicap.
225. Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Education if she will outline the pupil/teacher ratio and/or extra teaching assistance which she provides for schools which are catering for children with a physical handicap or with different degrees of mental handicap.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): I propose to take Questions Nos. 224 and 225 together.
The following are the details requested by the Deputy:
1990/91 School Year.
|Type of handicap||Pupil Teacher Ratio||No. of persons in Special Schools||No. of persons in Special Classes||Total|
|Mildly mentally handicap||15:1||3,508||1,649||5,157|
|Moderate mental handicap||11:1||2,073||46||2,119|
|Severe/profound mental handicap||12:1||—||200*||200|
*These children are catered for in special classes attached to schools for moderately handicapped children.
The number of handicapped children attending ordinary classes in primary schools is not readily available.
Under the Programme for Economic and Social Progress, there has been an improvement in the current year in the pupil teacher ratio applied to special schools as follows: Mildly mentally handicapped 15:1 (reduced from 16:1); moderately mentally handicapped 11:1  (reduced from 12:1); Physically handicapped 14:1 (reduced from 15:1)
One of the important recommendations made by the Primary Education Review Body under Dr. Tom Murphy was that a special committee be appointed to examine and report on the educational services for pupils with handicaps.
In pursuance of that recommendation, I have recently established that committee with Mr. Declan Brennan, former Secretary of my Department as chairperson. The question of what further development is needed in the provision of educational services for children with handicaps will be considered in the light of their report.
226. Mrs. T. Ahearn asked the Minister for Education the present position in relation to a school (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
242. Mrs. T. Ahearn asked the Minister for Education when tenders will be invited for the proposed extension to Ballyneale national school, Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary; if moneys have been allocated for the project; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): I propose to take Questions Nos. 226 and 242 together.
Following the receipt of local authority planning permission the preparation of tender documents for the proposed extension to Ballyneale national school, County Tipperary is in hands. These will be completed at the earliest possible date when the question of invitation of tenders will be considered in the context of the available capital.
227. Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Education if plans have been submitted to her Department to extend Dunkineely national school in County Donegal; if these plans have been approved; if so, if she will outline the details of the extension considered; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): Tenders for the proposed permanent extension to Dunkineely national school, County Donegal, have been received and are being examined. This examination will be completed at the earliest possible date when the question of the placing of the contract will be considered in the context of the available capital. The extension will contain two classrooms, a staff room and stores.
228. Mr. O'Shea asked the Minister for Education if she will list the vocational, community, comprehensive and secondary schools to which resource teachers have been allocated this year; if she will further outline the criteria on which the decisions were made; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): I assume the Deputy is referring to the posts allocated to post-primary schools in disadvantaged areas in accordance with the terms of the Programme for Economic and Social Progress.
The allocation of posts was done on the basis of criteria agreed by representatives of management, unions, parents and my Department. Factors taken into account included the number of first year pupils within a school (i) whose parents are in receipt of either unemployment assistance or benefit, (ii) living in rented local authority housing or nonpermanent accommodation, (iii) from deprived rural backgrounds, (iv) whose parents hold medical cards, (v) living with lone parents, (vi) who would be  unable to cope with everyday demands if they were to leave school now.
I am arranging to have the list of schools forwarded to the Deputy.
229. Mr. Ryan asked the Minister for Education the up-to-date position on the divesting of the old national school, Loughshinny, Skerries, County Dublin by her Department to the Loughshinny Community Company Limited; and when it is envisaged that this process will be finalised.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): The question of the release of my Department's interest in the former Loughshinny national school, County Dublin is being considered and a decision will be conveyed to the school at an early date.
230. D'fhiafraigh Mr. Rabbitte den Aire Oideachais an gcuirfidh sí meánscoil lán-Ghaelach fáil do pháistí atá ag críochnú a gcuid bunscolaíochta i scoileanna lán-Ghaelach i dTamhlacht, Baile Átha Cliath 24.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): Tá iarratas déanta ag Coiste Gairmoideachais Chontae Átha Cliath ar scoil iarbhunoideachais lán-Ghaelach a bhunú i dTamhlacht. Tá an t-iarratas sin á scrúdú i láthair na huaire.
231. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Education if she will outline her plans to provide (a) additional classroom accommodation and (b) a PE hall for St. Killian's senior national school, Kingswood, Tallaght, Dublin 24.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): My Department have authorised the chairman of the board of management of St. Kilian's senior national school, Kingswood, Tallaght, Dublin 24, to proceed with the provision of two additional classrooms at the school.
The selected contractor has in hands the necessary formalities in relation to local authority planning permission and by-law approval and when these are received he will be in a position to proceed with the works.
Since I assumed officer in 1987, it has been my policy to concentrate the available capital resources on the provision of essential classroom accommodation and other necessary facilities. Because of this, it is not possible for me at this point to grant-aid the provision of a general purposes room at the school.
232. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Education when the classroom accommodation urgently needed in St. Thomas's senior national school, Jobstown, Tallaght, Dublin 24 will be provided.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): On 7 October 1991 my Department authorised the chairman of the board of management of St. Thomas's national school, Jobstown, Tallaght, Dublin 24 to place a contract for the provision of the additional classroom accommodation.
233. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Education whether she will give a clear commitment that students in Tallaght RTC will be able to progress to (a) diploma and (b) degree courses in that institution.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): The most effective course structure for the regional technical colleges is considered to be one which balances the provision of technicians  training at certificate and diploma levels with strong emphasis on certificate level and a limited provision for degree level programmes. The normal progression to a diploma is through a certificate course. In this regard I would refer the Deputy to my reply to his question on 21 February 1991.
Tallaght RTC will, therefore, initially provide a range of certificate courses and will then progress to develop appropriate diploma courses. In line with the situation in RTCs generally the question of degree provision would not be expected to arise until the college is at an advanced stage of development. Such provision would be considered in the longer term in the context of overall criteria for approval of degree programmes in VEC college section generally
234. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Education if she will reconsider her decision to have a higher education grant withdrawn from a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny even though he was notified in writing by Kilkenny County Council that he was awarded this grant; and the reason this person is being penalised because of his success in obtaining a scholarship to the Royal College of Surgeons even though his family circumstances are such that he qualified for this particular grant.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): Kilkenny County Council is the body statutorily entrusted with the administration of the higher education grants scheme in this case. I understand that, the person in question was awarded a scholarship by the Royal College of Surgeons, and was also awarded a higher education grant by Kilkenny County Council, subject to the limits imposed in accordance with the terms of the scheme.
I have, however, a certain sympathy with the circumstances of this case and I am having the matter considered further in my Department.
235. Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Education the number of remedial teachers in national schools in each county in 1991.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): The number of remedial teachers in national schools in each county in 1991 is as follows:
|Pupils||Rem. Teachers||Pupils||Rem. Teachers|
236. Mr. Crowley asked the Minister for Education the up-to-date position regarding the provision of a store and an all-purpose room for Liscarroll primary school, Mallow, County Cork.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): My policy for school capital projects is to concentrate the available resources on the provision of much needed classroom accommodation.
As this school has four classrooms for four teachers I regret I would not be in a position in these circumstances to approve any additional accommodation at the school.
237. Mr. McCormack asked the Minister for Education when work will commence on the building of the new school at St. Joseph's, Snipe Avenue, Galway.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): Tenders for the proposed new school for St. Joseph's, Snipe Avenue, Galway, have been received in my Department and are being examined. This examination will be completed at the earliest possible date when the question of the placing of the contract will arise for consideration in the context of the available capital.
I am not in a position, at this stage, to say when building works will commence.
238. Dr. Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to the fact that mature students can gain places, on interview to third level institutions but, because their leaving certificate marks may have been gained many years prior to them entering third level education they will not qualify for grant aid at these institutions; if she has any plans to remedy this situation; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): Arising from a commitment in the Programme for Economic and Social Progress the amendment of the higher education grants scheme in a number of areas is being considered. The proposed amendments include regarding a mature student who secures a place in a third-level institution as satisfying the academic requirements for the award of a grant under the scheme.
239. Mr. Taylor asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to the disquiet of the authorities of a school (details supplied) in Dublin 24 because of the defective condition of the roof of this comparatively new building, which her Department promised to have repaired, as the condition of the roof is now causing severe dampness in the building which in turn is affecting electrical equipment and causing shocks to pupils and staff; if she will now arrange for urgent repairs to be carried out to this building; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): The roof problem at this  school has been investigated by my Department's consultant architects and their report and recommendations are being considered at present. Appropriate arrangements will be made as soon as possible to have the problems rectified. My Department have not been informed of any incidents when pupils or staff received electric shocks from electrical equipment affected by the problem. However, I will have this aspect of the problem investigated further as a matter of urgency.
240. Mrs. T. Ahearn asked the Minister for Education when the proposed extension to Ardfinnan national school, County Tipperary will be provided; if the finance has been allocated by her Department for this project; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): On 17 September 1991 the Chairman of the board of management of Ardfinnan national school, County Tipperary, forwarded the planning permission for the project to my Department. It is necessary for my Department's architect to discuss an aspect of the sewerage arrangements with the county council and when this has been attended to the preparation of tender documents will be put in hands and completed at the earliest possible date. The question of the invitation of tenders would arise for consideration at that point in the context of the available capital. I am not in a position, at this stage, to say when building works will be commenced or completed.
241. Mrs. T. Ahearn asked the Minister for Education when finance will be made available for the extension to the post-primary school in Fethard, County Tipperary; if she will outline the amount which will be provided; when the works can commence; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): In May 1991, I agreed to the invitation of tenders by the school authorities for this project. It is understood that tenders have only recently been invited and will be forwarded to the Department in the near future.
Pending the receipt and examination of the tenders, I am not in a position to say when work will commence.
The school authorities have been informed of the level of grant available for the proposed work. It is not the practice to disclose the specific amount involved in such cases as this is regarded as a confidential matter between the Department and the school authorities.
243. Mrs. T. Ahearn asked the Minister for Education when a remedial teacher will be sanctioned, on a shared basis, between Ballymacarbry national school and Newcastle national school in County Tipperary; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
247. Mrs. T. Ahearn asked the Minister for Education when a remedial teacher will be sanctioned for a school (details supplied) in County Tipperary in view of the urgent need for such a facility; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
257. Mr. Bradford asked the Minister for Education if she will appoint a remedial teacher to serve Killeagh, Inch, Kyle and Park national schools in County Cork.
258. Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Education if she has any plans to provide a remedial teacher for Archbishop McQuaid national school, Loughlinstown, County Dublin.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): I propose to take Questions Nos. 243, 247, 257 and 258 together.
As part of many educational initiatives under the Programme for Economic and Social Progress I am pleased that it was possible to have a further 80 additional remedial posts appointed in June 1991.
The appointments were made following the collection of data by my Department's primary inspectorate from schools and were allocated on the basis of greatest remedial need.
The question of further remedial teacher appointments will be kept under review.
244. Mr. Crowley asked the Minister for Education whether she has received an application for national lottery funding from Aherla Senior Citizens, Widows and Widowers Association in County Cork; and the current position regarding this application.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): I am not aware that an application from Aherla Senior Citizens, Widows and Widowers Association in County Cork was received in my Department.
245. Mrs. T. Ahearn asked the Minister for Education when an extension to a school (details supplied) in County Tipperary will be sanctioned in view of (1) overcrowding (2) the school's inability to accept all students who wish to attend and (3) the fact that the present conditions and facilities in the school are totally inadequate; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): My Department's main responsibility in the matter of the provision of school accommodation is to ensure that in any given centre there are sufficient post primary places overall to meet immediate and long term needs.
 There are four post-primary schools in the centre concerned with accommodation for 2,150 pupils. There are 2,021 pupils attending these schools at present.
In this context and in the light of demographic trends, i.e., declining births, falling enrolments etc., it is considered that the provision of additional accommodation at any of the four post-primary schools would not be warranted.
With regard to conditions and facilities at the school in question, my Department have agreed to allow grant aid towards the cost of carrying out some remedial work to the building.
246. Mrs. T. Ahearn asked the Minister for Education when work on the new school at Clerihan, Clonmel, County Tipperary will commence; if the project will be completed for September, 1992; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): On 30 August 1991 the sketch plans for the proposed new national school at Clerihan, County Tipperary, were sent to the chairman of the board of management to enable him to apply for planning permission. My Department await the submission of planning permission. I am not in a position at this stage to say when building works will commence or be completed.
248. Mrs. T. Ahearn asked the Minister for Education if she will outline her proposals for post-primary education at a school (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): The post-primary school managements involved have agreed in principle to the development of a single school for the area in question. My  Department are currently examining how best a single school can be developed for the area.
249. Mrs. T. Ahearn asked the Minister for Education when finance will be made available for the roof repairs to a school (details supplied) in County Tipperary and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): The grant aiding of roof repairs at the school in question is under consideration but is dependent on the availability of capital resources and on my Department's other commitments. At present I am not in a position to say when funds will be available to provide grant assistance for the work proposed.
250. Mrs. T. Ahearn asked the Minister for Education when urgent repairs will be carried out at a school (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): The provision of a safe store and improvements to the floors at the school in County Tipperary referred to by the Deputy were completed earlier this year.
On 3 October 1991 my Department approved a grant for a further scheme of improvements, mainly window replacement, to the school and have instructed the local architect to give the school authorities the necessary advice to enable them to obtain quotations for the works and then have them carried out.
251. Mrs. T. Ahearn asked the Minister for Education when the necessary repairs proposed for Thomastown national school, Golden, Cashel, County Tipperary will be carried out; if a representative of the district Office of Public Works has given the necessary advice to the school authorities; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): The authorities of Thomastown national school, County Tipperary, have recently been authorised by the District Office of Public Works to proceed with the contract for the replacement of windows.
252. Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to the inconvenience caused to parents and children in the Heathlawn-Ballycahill area of Killimor, Ballinasloe, County Galway, when existing school bus facilities were withdrawn; if she will outline the reasons for the withdrawal; and if she will restore the service forthwith.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): A review of the operation of services to Portumna from the Heathlawn/Ballycahill area of Killimor is currently in progress.
253. Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Education if she will provide adequate school bus facilities for second level students from the Dangan/Coolouty area of Brierfield, Ballinasloe, to the Holy Rosary College, Mountbellew, County Galway; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that there are students who are unable to get seats on the bus despite the fact that they are within the catchment boundary; and if she has satisfied herself regarding the present level of service in that area.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): The closing date for receipt of payment for tickets for the current term was 15 July 1991 but unfortunately no payment was received from these applicants until mid to late September. All places had been allocated at that stage.
I am pleased to say, however, that it will be possible to facilitate these pupils  with effect from January 1992 on payment of the appropriate fares by the deadline set out by Bus Éireann.
254. Mr. Finucane asked the Minister for Education if she will outline the grant assistance which is available to schools which cater for pupils with dyslexia problems.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): The condition to which the Deputy refers is most appropriately encompassed within the term specific reading disability.
At present there are two special schools for such children, St. Oliver Plunkett School, Monkstown, County Dublin and Catherine McAuley School, Baggot Street, Dublin. My Department fund the capital and operational costs of these two schools.
Children with less severe reading disabiities normally attend their local national school where they are catered for by the remedial teaching service. In addition to paying the salaries of remedial teachers, my Department provide grants for the purchase of necessary text materials to enable pupils to be assessed. In 1991 the total amount of such grants will be £130,000 approximately.
255. Mr. Finucane asked the Minister for Education if, as a result of her recent visit to Stella Maris Convent in Foynes, County Limerick, she will confirm that there will be a continuation of second level education at this establishment after the Sisters of Mercy have ceased providing education there.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): The Deputy will be aware that the Mercy Order, which manage the Stella Maris secondary school, Foynes, have made known their intention of withdrawing from management at the end of the academic year 1995.
 On Friday, 4 October, I visited the school and met with representatives of the school action committee who are anxious to ensure that post-primary education will continue to be provided in Foynes after the withdrawal of the Mercy Order.
The issues raised require careful consideration and I am not yet in a position to give a final decision on the matter.
256. Mr. Hyland asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to the urgent need to provide a suitable heating system at Ardough/Bilboa national school in County Laois; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): I am aware that the heating arrangements at Ardough national school, County Laois are not satisfactory. My Department's engineer is at present preparing proposals for a new heating system and he will contact the school authorities at the earliest possible date with a view to having the works carried out.
259. Mr. Byrne asked the Minister for Tourism, Transport and Communications if he will outline the consequence for employment and the future of the yards at the CIE railway workshop, Inchicore, Dublin 8, as a result of the fire there recently; if he will confirm that it is intended to rebuild the carriage building workshop and that inter-city coaches will continue to be built there; if there are any plans to locate a light rail coach building project there in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Tourism, Transport and Communications (Mr. S. Brennan): I have been informed by the chairman of CIE that the No. 1 carriage conversion workshop at Inchicore suffered extensive damage arising from a fire at the building on 14 September last. Most of the staff  at the conversion workshop in question were permanent employees of Iarnród Éireann seconded from other workshops. These staff have now reverted to their former work locations. I understand that Iarnród Éireann are now considering restoration of the No. 1 carriage conversion workshop at Inchicore.
The company's existing work programme does not include any plans for the manufacture of light rail vehicles or additional inter city coaches at Inchicore.