Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Meeting with British Prime Minister.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Westmeath Vocational Education Committee.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Teacher Training Courses.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Transition Year Programme.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Sale of Primary Schools.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - School Staffing.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - In-Service Teacher Courses.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Croke Park Development.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Higher Education Sector Development.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Examination Fees.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - School Facilities.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Department Inspectorate.
Request to move Adjournment of Dáil under Standing Order 30.
Order of Business.
Business Investment Scheme: Motion.
Private Members' Business. - Irish Nationality and Citizenship (No. 2) Bill, 1994: First Stage.
Private Members' Business. - National Development Plan 1994-1999: Motion.
Written Answers. - Post Leaving Certificate Programmes.
Written Answers. - University Status.
Written Answers. - School Suspensions.
Written Answers. - Scoili Ros Muc i Gaillimh.
Written Answers. - Report of the National Education Convention.
Written Answers. - Letterkenny (Donegal) Regional Technical College.
Written Answers. - Leaving Certificate Vocational Programmes.
Written Answers. - Report of National Council for Curriculum Assessment.
Written Answers. - Third Level Fees.
Written Answers. - Provision of Dublin Community School.
Written Answers. - Letterkenny (Donegal) Regional Technical College.
Written Answers. - INTO Survey Findings.
Written Answers. - Remedial Teacher Appointment.
Written Answers. - Montessori Education.
Written Answers. - Gender Balance.
Written Answers. - University Sector Unit Cost Analysis.
Written Answers. - Supervision of Examinations.
Written Answers. - School Book Rental Scheme.
Written Answers. - Post Leaving Certificate Courses.
Written Answers. - Continental Languages.
Written Answers. - Departmental Report on Education System.
Written Answers. - Third Level College Promotion Structure.
Written Answers. - Letterkenny Regional Technical College.
Written Answers. - County Roscommon Youth Services.
Written Answers. - Education Costs.
Written Answers. - School Grants.
Written Answers. - Art, Craft and Design.
Written Answers. - Community Education Programmes.
Written Answers. - An Óige Grants.
Written Answers. - Intermediate Education Structures.
Written Answers. - School Curriculum.
Written Answers. - Third Level Student Support.
Written Answers. - Leaving Certificate English Syllabus.
Written Answers. - Provision for Special Educational Needs.
Written Answers. - Remedial Teacher Applications.
Written Answers. - Carrick-on-Shannon (Roscommon) Community School.
Written Answers. - Employment of Unqualified Teachers.
Written Answers. - Coláiste an Phiarsaigh, Glanmire, County Cork.
Written Answers. - Portlaw (Waterford) Boys National School.
Written Answers. - Teachers' Stress.
Written Answers. - School Vandalism.
Written Answers. - Athy (Kildare) Unemployment Figures.
Written Answers. - Boyle Catchment Drainage Scheme.
Written Answers. - Establishment of ECU as a Parallel Currency.
Written Answers. - Tourist Shooting Facilities.
Written Answers. - Tax Liability of Shoot-Promoters and Gillies.
Written Answers. - Tax Clearance Certificates.
Written Answers. - Artists' Tax Exemption.
Written Answers. - VAT Refund.
Written Answers. - Telephone Rental Allowance.
Written Answers. - Social Welfare Statistics.
Written Answers. - SWA Scheme.
Written Answers. - Ministerial Trip Abroad.
Written Answers. - Cross-Border Travel for Pensioners.
Written Answers. - Probation Centre.
Written Answers. - Garda Protection.
Written Answers. - Firearm Certificates.
Written Answers. - Dublin-Monaghan Bombings.
Written Answers. - Cross-Border Security Liaison.
Written Answers. - Early Prison Release.
Written Answers. - Roscommon-East Galway Garda Stations.
Written Answers. - Private Security Firms.
Written Answers. - Land Registry Transactions.
Written Answers. - Inquiries into Allegations.
Written Answers. - Athy (Kildare) Job Creation.
Written Answers. - Urban Renewal.
Written Answers. - Dublin Corporation House Building Programme.
Written Answers. - Waste Management Programme.
Written Answers. - Grant Payment.
Written Answers. - Dangerous Substances Regulations.
Written Answers. - Allocation of Contracts.
Written Answers. - Carbon-Energy Tax.
Written Answers. - Settlement of Traveller Families.
Written Answers. - Roundstone (Galway) Sewerage Scheme.
Written Answers. - County Cork Improvement Works Scheme.
Written Answers. - Mail Costs to Overseas Personnel.
Written Answers. - Use of Insecticides.
Written Answers. - Grant Payments.
Written Answers. - Food Research Projects.
Written Answers. - Grant Payments.
Written Answers. - Land Certificate.
Written Answers. - Grant Payments.
Written Answers. - Herd Number.
Written Answers. - Grant Payments.
Written Answers. - Export Credit Insurance Scheme.
Written Answers. - Letterkenny (Donegal) Airport Development.
Written Answers. - International Atomic Energy Agency.
Written Answers. - Cataract Operation.
Written Answers. - Health Insurance.
Written Answers. - Orthodontic Treatment.
Written Answers. - Disabled Person's Maintenance Allowance.
Written Answers. - Domiciliary Care Allowance.
Written Answers. - Psychiatric Patients.
Written Answers. - Clinical Psychologist Assessment.
Written Answers. - Hospital Waiting Lists.
Written Answers. - Staff Statistics.
Written Answers. - Transport Facilities.
Written Answers. - By-Pass Surgery.
Written Answers. - Hospital Beds.
Written Answers. - Disabled Person's Maintenance Allowance.
Written Answers. - Dún Laoghaire RTE Submission.
Written Answers. - Psychological Assessment.
Written Answers. - Grant-Aid.
Written Answers. - School Project.
Written Answers. - Improvement Works.
Written Answers. - Cashelnagore (Donegal) School.
Written Answers. - Lispoole (Kerry) School.
Written Answers. - National Lottery Funding.
Written Answers. - Arva (Cavan) National School.
Written Answers. - Pupil/Teacher Ratio.
Written Answers. - Status of National Parents' Council.
Written Answers. - Music in Schools.
Written Answers. - Second Level Pupil/Teacher Ratio.
Written Answers. - Free Third Level Education.
Written Answers. - Consultancy Services.
Written Answers. - Absenteeism from Schools.
Written Answers. - National Lottery Funding.
Written Answers. - Childcare Support in Special Education.
Written Answers. - Ballyowen Meadows (Dublin) Special School.
Written Answers. - County Limerick School Site.
Written Answers. - Capital Allocation to Schools.
Written Answers. - Examination Results.
Written Answers. - International Education Centre.
Written Answers. - Grant Aid.
1. Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his meeting with British Prime Minister, Mr. John Major; and to make a statement on the matter.
2. Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Taoiseach whether a timetable for resumption of talks on Northern Ireland has been agreed with the British Prime Minister, Mr. John Major; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
3. Proinsias De Rossa asked the Taoiseach if he will make a statement on his recent meeting with the British Prime Minister, Mr. John Major.
The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 3 inclusive, together.
The British Prime Minister and I had an informal meeting in London on Thursday last, principally to review recent political and security developments relating to Northern Ireland. The meeting was very useful, serving to demonstrate yet again the firm determination of the two Governments to advance our shared  objective of lasting peace and an agreed political settlement.
In the course of our discussions, John Major and I reaffirmed the strong commitment of the two Governments to bring the peace process to full political fruition based on the framework of principles set out in the Downing Street Declaration. We remain convinced that the declaration can achieve the breakthrough to peace, now that the removal of the clarification logjam, as a result of the constructive British Government response, has cleared the way for an early and definitive response from the Republican movement and for a decision on a complete cessation of violence by both sets of paramilitaries, Loyalists and Republican. It is our hope that the response will be genuine and positive, leading to the next logical step in the peace process, which is a permanent halt being called to the futile and counterproductive campaigns of terror currently being waged, for which there is no vestige of justification.
The continuation of violence now constitutes the biggest obstacle to the advancement of the peace process. The recent wave of senseless killings, maimings and bombings must stop, if the paramilitaries on both sides want anybody to believe that they are seriously committed to the peace process.
Following our meeting on Thursday last, John Major and I welcomed and supported Mr. Molyneaux's call for a complete cessation of violence by Loyalist paramilitaries. Mr. Molyneaux, as leader of the largest political party in Northern Ireland and as a committed Unionist, was giving expression to the wish of the great majority of the people for an end to paramilitary violence. Similarly, Republican paramilitaries will have to give tangible expression to their stated interest in peace by calling a permanent end to their campaign.
The bottom line is that no political objective will ever be advanced, or no legitimate grievance redressed, by the use of violence. The Irish and British Governments share a rock-solid and unshakeable determination in that  regard. Following our meeting, both John Major and myself made it very clear that we will not permit any party or organisation to veto or hinder political progress. We are absolutely firm in our resolve that the pace and nature of political developments will not be held up or determined by any waiting around for paramilitary organisations to make up their minds on whether to opt for full democratic participation. There is no question of either Government allowing any group to bolster their negotiating case by continued violence. These criteria are fundamental to the approach of the two Governments towards a solution.
In the course of our discussions, John Major and I reviewed the progress made so far in the development of a Joint Framework document, grounded on the principles of the declaration, as a basis for resumed all-party talks. While no absolute timetable exists for the completion of this document, we set ourselves the aim of finalising it by the time of our next formal meeting which is scheduled to take place in mid-July. Work on the formulation of this document is continuing apace and this will remain the position. I expect to have a further informal meeting with the Prime Minister on the margins of the European Council meeting in Corfu towards the end of June.
In view of the importance of advancing the principles of equality of treatment and parity of esteem, I put forward certain specific proposals which would help Nationalists feel that they too are first class citizens.
John Major and I also reviewed recent security developments relating to Northern Ireland. The two Governments will continue to work closely on all security matters to protect people's lives. We are committed to improving wherever possible the unprecedented level of co-operation which exists between our respective security forces.
Mr. O'Keeffe: I endorse everything the Taoiseach said about the cessation of violence by both sets of paramilitaries.  We all agree that if they want to shed their own blood that is their business, but they are not entitled to spill the blood of others. On the political front, as one who pressed for a joint approach between the two Governments that would appeal to the moderate majority in Northern Ireland, will the Taoiseach state why there is such a delay in the completion of the framework document? I presume it will be based largely on the joint working document that was leaked to Emily O'Reilly last November. Why is it that six months later this document has not been agreed between the two Governments? Will the Taoiseach confirm that this document will cover constitutional as well as institutional issues? In regard to the peace process, can the Taoiseach confirm that the end of June is now the deadline for acceptance of the peace process by Sinn Féin/IRA and that thereafter the focus will switch to the talks process? In that context has the Taoiseach kept in touch with Mr. John Hume and constitutional nationalists to make sure that their views are taken into account? Has he kept open his lines of communication to the Unionists so that their views can be taken into account?
The Taoiseach: On the latter part of Deputy O'Keeffe's question, I read reports in the paper from time to time and I have no knowledge of an 8 June deadline. I am not saying that is a deadline; I am not setting a deadline. I assure the House that the two Governments are working on a framework document with or without the people involved in paramilitary violence and with or without a clear decision from them. It is their decision to make whenever they wish. The two Governments will continue with the process and we would hope that both sets of paramilitaries, as has been advocated by so many community, religious and political leaders in the North, will realise that if they want to be part of the discussions on a new Ireland they will have to call a permanent cessation of violence.
The work on the framework document is continuing. These are very complex  matters with which we are dealing. I can confirm that we are seeking possibilities for a balanced constitutional settlement. We will continue to do that and will not hang around waiting for paramilitaries to make up their minds. Both Governments will continue with their business.
Proinsias De Rossa: Was the question of internment discussed between the Taoiseach and the British Foreign Minister? Was the Loyalist attack in Dublin discussed?
The Taoiseach: The answer to the first question is “no” and the answer to the second question is “yes”.
Mr. J. Bruton: To whom it is intended to present the framework document? Will it be presented to all political parties? Will it be published and how will it be processed? Will there be a round table discussion to process it or will there be discussions with individual parties? Will there be a time limit on the discussion phase to be followed by a decision phase or will this be open ended?
The Taoiseach: Such decisions have not yet been taken. Deputy Bruton can be assured that when we are closer to agreement on it I will certainly keep him, and the other political leaders, advised as to when we expect to finalise it.
Mr. J. O'Keeffe: I am particularly anxious that this framework document should have broad support from the moderate majority within the North. For that reason I wish to press the Taoiseach more on the question of the discussions I hope he is continuing to have with moderate opinion in the North. Can he confirm that he is keeping in touch with Mr. Hume and moderate constitutional Nationalists in the North and that his lines of communication with Unionist moderate opinion in the North are being kept open at this vital time?
The Taoiseach: I can assure the Deputy that the lines of communication between  moderate Unionists and moderate Nationalists are always open.
Mr. J. Bruton: Did the Taoiseach discuss with the Prime Minister the Presidency of the European Commission? If so, what view did the Taoiseach express as to who should be President?
The Taoiseach: I did. The British have their own candidate in the field, Sir Leon Brittan, who the British Prime Minister feels is a very competent and effective person to take on the job if the other countries of Europe so decide.
Mr. J. Bruton: I think the Taoiseach misheard my question. I asked what view did he, the Taoiseach, express about his favourite candidate for the Presidency of the Commission?
The Taoiseach: The British Prime Minister is in no doubt about my views; they are well known to everybody. His views about his candidate are what one would expect and my views, which have been given in the House, were confirmed to him.
Mr. J. Bruton: What are they?
The Taoiseach: That we are reappointing Commissioner Flynn.
Mr. J. Bruton: The Taoiseach seems to have a hearing problem. I asked about the Presidency.
An Ceann Comhairle: This should not lead to argument.
The Taoiseach: As regards the Presidency, I do not have a problem.
Mr. J. Bruton: That is the job of President Delors.
The Taoiseach: I have said here time and again that I will not disclose my hand to anybody until I see exactly who is in the field.
Mr. J. Bruton: Is the Taoiseach telling  the House he did not express a view to Prime Minister Major about who should be President of the Commission?
The Taoiseach: That is for me to decide when I believe it is the right time to play my cards.
Mr. J. Bruton: Did the Taoiseach express a view——
An Ceann Comhairle: Sorry, I am calling Deputy De Rossa. Deputy Bruton has had some latitude on this question——
Mr. J. Bruton: The Taoiseach is having trouble understanding my questions.
An Ceann Comhairle: ——if he wishes to debate the matter he will have to find another time to do so.
The Taoiseach: Now John——
Mr. J. Bruton: The Taoiseach should not be so familiar.
An Ceann Comhairle: I have called Deputy De Rossa. I will call Deputy Bruton again if necessary.
Proinsias De Rossa: On the Taoiseach's statement that what he is seeking is a balanced constitutional arrangement, is it intended that this arrangement will be incorporated in the framework agreement which he expects to have finalised by mid-July? In referring at an earlier date to comprehensive, far-reaching equality legislation, was the Taoiseach referring to the introduction of such legislation in this State as well as in relation to Northern Ireland?
The Taoiseach: I would have thought Deputy De Rossa would have no problem recognising that there is a Minister for Equality and Law Reform charged with responsibility for bringing forward equality legislation and he is engaged in that aspect of his duties. On the first part of the question about a balanced  constitutional arrangement, I think Deputy De Rossa is well aware of how that will have to be enshrined in British legislation. If we get agreement on a balanced constitutional arrangement it will lead to a referendum of the Irish people.
Proinsias De Rossa: I asked the Taoiseach whether he hopes the balanced constitutional arrangement to which he referred will be part of the framework agreement which he expects to have concluded by mid-July.
The Taoiseach: We are working towards that objective. I cannot anticipate whether we will be successful, but that is our aim.
Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Arising from the Taoiseach's comments that hopefully there will be agreement on constitutional change, has any thought been given to establishing a time frame for the completion of the talks process, bearing in mind that when the situation in South Africa looked very difficult, a date was set on which elections would be held and matters finalised? Has any thought been given by the two Governments to the time frame for the talks process and whether there should be an indicative date for a referendum on the two parts of this island to complete that process?
The Taoiseach: Our working agenda is as I have laid it out: the two Governments, through the liaison committee, continue to work with the aim of finding agreement to finalise the framework document by mid-July. The talks process is a question for another day. We must first compile a framework document that will form the basis for the resumption of the three stranded talks.
Mr. Rabbitte: Did the British Prime Minister complain to the Taoiseach about Ireland allegedly being used as a back door for access to the United Kingdom by non-nationals who, because of the easy availability of passports in this jurisdiction——
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy is introducing extraneous matter.
The Taoiseach: It is a good try.
Proinsias De Rossa: It is a legitimate question.
Mr. Rabbitte: This is a very important matter.
Mr. Currie: Considering the present position the Taoiseach might need a passport himself.
Mr. Rabbitte: Was this matter raised during the Taoiseach's meeting with the British Prime Minister?
The Taoiseach: No.
4. Mr. McGrath asked the Minister for Education if the pay and non-pay accounts of Westmeath Vocational Education Committee are overdrawn at present; if so, the amounts overdrawn in each case; if approval for this was sought or granted by her; if the committee's bankers threatened to refuse payment on cheques issued; if any discrepancies have been found in financial or other returns to her Department from this vocational education committee; if approval was sought or given for the purchase of property in France; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): Every vocational education committee is obliged to make monthly returns available to my Department. The financial monitoring reports received by my Department from the County Westmeath Vocational Education Committee during 1993 did not indicate any departure from the approved 1993 budget. Its statutory financial statement for the year 1993, which was received in my Department in April 1994, showed a deficit of £450,000 and an overdraft with County Westmeath  treasurer bank of £574,000 at the end of 1993. The statutory financial statement does not differentiate between pay and non-pay balances.
I emphasise that we are talking about an unaudited financial statement. Confirmation of surpluses or deficits in the course of audit requires judgments on cash assets and liabilities included in the financial statement. Consequently, the balance of cash assets and liabilities in the audited accounts can be different from those shown on the financial statement initially submitted by a committee. The approval of the Minister had not been sought or given for incurring this overdraft as required by the Vocational Education Act, 1930. I am greatly concerned at these developments and at their implications for the effectiveness of the County Westmeath Vocational Education Committee financial management and control procedures generally.
My Department has brought these matters to the attention of the local government auditor who is responsible for the audit of accounts of vocational education committees until the end of 1993. My Department has also written formally to the Westmeath Vocational Education Committee seeking is observations. On receipt of the observations of the Westmeath Vocational Education Committee, I will consider what further action would be appropriate.
In the course of recent contacts, my Department was made aware of the concerns of the treasurer bank and a verbal request for approval of overdraft facilities has been made by a delegation from the Westmeath Vocational Education Committee. This request is still under consideration.
The matter of the property in France arises under the vocational training opportunities scheme (VTOS). In general, approval for a vocational training opportunities scheme is conveyed in units of 20 students and inclusive funding is provided separate from the vocational education committees general second-level budget. This funding is intended to cover all the costs of the programme, including instruction, equipment, payments  to students in respect of school books and other expenses and accommodation where necessary. In view of the overall pressure on school places, vocational education committees provide accommodation for the VTOS in many instances through renting-leasing and meet the cost out of the general VTOS budget. Specific approval for this renting or leasing is not generally sought or given.
In the case of the County Westmeath Vocational Education Committee, approval in principle was given to the provision of a VTOS module in France provided this could be done within the normal level of funding for the scheme. No specific sanction for leasing-purchasing premises was given. Following continuing contacts and discussions and the submission of additional information, the Westmeath Vocational Education Committee was informed in February 1994 not to take further action in the matter until it had been fully considered by the Department. This was repeated in May 1994. My Department is considering all aspects of the proposal in the light of additional information and clarification being made available by this vocational education committee.
I have asked my Department to examine the general financial operation of the Westmeath Vocational Education Committee. On receipt of this information I will consider what further action I should take.
Mr. McGrath: Is the Minister extremely concerned that Westmeath Vocational Education Committee is £574,000 overdrawn, which represents about 100 per cent of the annual turnover in the non-pay account? Is it not very frightening that a vocational education committee would be overdrawn to such an extent? Who is responsible for bringing to the attention of the Department the fact that a vocational education committee is going into overdraft? Is it the responsibility of the chief executive officer or the chairman and the members?  If it is the responsibility of the chairman and the members, will the Minister clarify whether those members are liable to be surcharged on the £500,000 that is overdrawn on that account in relation to their bank borrowings? In regard to the property in France, if that also was not brought to the Minister's attention, does that further expose the chairman and the members of that committee to surcharge by the Department?
Ms Bhreathnach: I said in my reply that I am greatly concerned also. Under the terms of memorandum V.53 it is the duty of a CAO to ensure that expenditure is kept within limits imposed by the Minister in his/her approval of an annual financial scheme unless sanction has been obtained in writing for any subsequent modification or revision. Those are the vocational education committee functions, and there are discretionary powers under the 1930 Act. Some of its functions, within parameters, are laid down by the Minister and I made reference to that in regard to renting property to carry out a VTOS. There is a degree of flexibility as long as the budget is adhered to. The vocational education committee system in general is very sucessful at responding in a flexible way to the needs of a community which may change from county to county or town to town. There are functions, however, it can only carry out with the express approval of the Minister, and raising loans is one example.
To refer to my original reply concerning the French property, the matter was brought to my attention in February and the Department said it would look into it. It informed the vocational education committee not to take further action and that was repeated in May. I am greatly concerned about this matter and, under various Acts and memoranda, it is clear that there is flexibility but while we want to protect that flexibility to a vocational education committee, there are parameters. Where the parameters are breached and the information becomes available to the Minister, the Minister can then take action. I have formally requested the Westmeath  Vocational Education Committee to answer questions and when that information is available to me, I will inform the House of the action I intend to take.
We must be careful because we are talking about unaudited accounts, and that was specifically included in my reply. It is only when the audited accounts are available and satisfactory answers to the questions are received that I have an obligation to seek a satisfactory explanation.
An Ceann Comhairle: Before calling on the Deputy again, may I advert to the time factor involved in dealing with priority questions. Only 20 minutes are available to us and we have not yet disposed of the first question. There are four questions remaining and brevity must be the keynote of our proceedings from now on.
Mr. McGrath: I intend to co-operate with the Chair. I am frightened to hear the Minister say that she informed this vocational education committee it was not to proceed with the venture in France in February of this year because in the past two to three weeks an entourage in excess of 60 people travelled from Westmeath to France to the official opening of this premises. In fact, a former Minister was invited but did not travel. A number of high ranking people from County Westmeath and from other vocational education committees travelled to that opening ceremony——
Mr. Gilmore: No problem with Irish passports either.
Mr. McGrath: ——and I am amazed to hear the Minister say that she told the vocational education committee not to proceed. My second point relates to my question about surcharge. The Minister did not spell that out clearly in her reply. If I heard the Minister correctly she indicated that the chief executive officer is the person responsible for ensuring that budgets are kept within their limits and that that information is conveyed to her.  Does that absolve the members from any possible surcharge?
An Ceann Comhairle: We are spending quite an inordinate amount of time on this question to the disadvantage of the other questions on the Order Paper.
Ms Bhreathnach: I wish to restate what I said about the duties of the chief executive officer.
Mr. Creed: The Minister should answer the question.
Ms Bhreathnach: It is the duty of a chief executive officer under the terms of memorandum V.53 to ensure that expenditure is kept within the limits imposed by the Minister.
Mr. Creed: We heard that earlier. We want an answer to the question.
Mr. McGrath: It is public money that is involved.
Ms Bhreathnach: Deputies will appreciate that I must be careful because we are talking about unaudited figures. I have asked questions of the vocational education committee and I am awaiting its reply. In regard to the French matter, the vocational education committee was told some time ago that it could go ahead and provide the VTOS module in France providing it was done within normal funding available to the VTOS. I would remind the House that we have students on other schemes, Erasmus, Lingua, Petra — Members will be familiar with them — and, therefore, the constraint that was put on the request concerning the French module was a financial one. It was not the case that the Department of Education indicated that it could not and should not operate a module in France. Indeed, not only is the Westmeath Vocational Education Committee interested in this but other vocational education committees believe that students who are availing of the VTOS scheme could benefit.
5. Mr. McGrath asked the Minister for Education the number of places that will be available in September 1994 to graduates who wish to become primary teachers; where this course will be conducted; the duration of the course; and if she will compare the number of places available for this course to the places lost to graduates wishing to enrol for higher diploma courses in September 1994.
Ms Bhreathnach: The provision of a post-graduate course which would enable university graduates to train as primary teachers has been approved in principle. My Department is currently in discussion with the colleges of education for primary teachers with a view to agreeing details of the implementation of the proposed course in the colleges. At this stage, while full details are not yet available, I can say that it is intended to take on 180 graduate students on the proposed course. Discussions with the colleges involved have not been completed and the duration of the course is one of the matters still under consideration.
The proposed intake for 1994 is 800 for the higher diploma course, the largest number of places available, with the exception of 1993, since 1988. The number of places on post-graduate teacher training courses in 1994 will therefore be 980 including the 180 graduate students on the primary teaching course. This is a reduction of 47 on the total number of places for post-graduate teacher training in 1993 and an increase of over 200 for 1991 and 1992 and, indeed, is a significant increase for all the years back to 1988.
Mr. McGrath: I welcome the additional graduate places and the fact that 180 graduate places will be available for people who train as primary teachers. This raises a number of questions, however. Why was the number of places available for people to train as primary teachers not increased? The Minister is now taking people whose second choice may be primary teaching. They will be  given a type of crash course in teaching methods and turned out as primary teachers. Will the Minister, in her negotiations on this course, bear in mind that graduates spend three years training to be primary teachers?
An Ceann Comhairle: We must proceed by way of brief questions at this time rather than by statements.
Mr. McGrath: Is the Minister aware that at least 60 per cent of that three years is spent on education? Will the Minister ensure that the same level of teaching practice and educational content will be available in this graduate course? Many trainee teachers——
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy must notice that there are hardly five minutes left in which to deal with the remaining questions.
Mr. McGrath: Will the Minister ensure a high level of teacher training in the course?
Ms Bhreatnach: I thank the Deputy for welcoming the announcement. Last year there was an extra intake into the three year training colleges. I share the Deputy's anxiety about a crash course. While I am able to announce 180 places today the duration of the course is still under discussion. I will take the Deputy's concerns on board.
6. Ms Keogh asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to the anomalies which have arisen in relation to the transition year, including tests as to persons who may be suitable for inclusion; if she will ensure that all students will be able to avail of the new programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
13. Mr. M. McDowell asked the Minister for Education the steps, if any, she is taking to assist in the provision of facilities for students in their transition year.
17. Mrs. Doyle asked the Minister for Education the additional specific funding she is making available to enable second-level schools to introduce the transition year programme in a meaningful manner without the necessity for schools to impose further burdens on parents by seeking voluntary contributions from them.
32. Mr. E. Kenny asked the Minister for Education her views on whether the transition year programme and the leaving certificate vocational programme involves voluntary secondary schools in the development of school-based curricula, the planning of work experience, the organisation of community service and the organisation of a range of out-of-school activities; her further views on whether each voluntary secondary school offering those programmes needs to have the facility to appoint a co-ordinator on reduced classroom teaching hours; and if she will appoint part-time teachers to teach the ten hours approximately thus created.
46. Mr. Barry asked the Minister for Education her views on whether the transition year programme and the leaving certificate vocational programme involves voluntary secondary schools in the development of school-based curricula, the planning of work experience, the organisation of community service and the organisation of a range of out-of-school activities; her further views on whether each voluntary secondary school offering those programmes needs to have the facility to appoint a co-ordinator on reduced classroom teaching hours; and if she will appoint part-time teachers to teach the ten hours approximately thus created.
74. Mr. Bradford asked the Minister for Education the additional specific funding she is making available to enable second-level schools to introduce the transition year programme in a meaningful manner without the necessity for schools to impose further burdens on parents by seeking voluntary contributions from them.
Ms Bhreathnach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 6, 13, 17, 32, 46 and 74 together.
I have taken the following steps to assist schools in providing the transition year programme.
I have increased the rate of capitation grant for voluntary secondary schools generally by £8 per pupil and of disadvantaged secondary schools by £23 per pupil from January 1994. These increased rates apply to all pupils including those taking the transition year programme. The budgets of community and comprehensive schools and of vocational education committees were also increased.
Some additional accommodation will be required. Schools should make application to my Department where additional accommodation will be required to cater for the extra pupil numbers arising for the transition year programme. These applications will be dealt with as part of the second-level capital programme.
An in-career development programme for the teachers in schools which have opted to offer the transition year programme is already under way as part of the £3 million in-career development programme at second level to be spent in 1994.
I have established two monitoring groups, one within my Department and one including representatives of managerial authorities, teacher unions and parents, to keep all aspects of the implementation of the senior cycle restructuring under review.
Provision of the transition year programme will involve the development of school based curricula. Based on guidelines issued by my Department, schools will select and adapt the curriculum content of the transition year programme, having regard to the interests of pupils and the views of parents, the possibilities offered by employers and other work-providing agencies.
 The need for further resources for the transition year, including the question of additional teaching hours in respect of coordination work, is under consideration.
Ms Keogh: The Minister ended her brief reply by talking about the prospects for schools next year. Many schools are completely in the dark because they cannot plan. I speak as one looking forward to personal experience of the transition year. It is very difficult for schools to plan for the transition year unless they know they can secure a grant, for example, and have a co-ordinator for the year. Will the Minister be more specific about what may be made available and how soon so that schools may be able to plan?
Ms Bhreathnach: Resources are being made available for schools who opted to provide a transition year — 575 schools expressed the wish to offer the transition year programme from 1994. Of those, 416 are offering it for the first time. We are talking about 24,000 extra pupils. Each pupil will receive the increased capitation grant while in the transition year. The departmental committee take on board concerns expressed by a committee planning to make the best use of the transition year. They are planning the in-career service and building requirement. I am aware that the Department is being asked for extra teaching resources — I do not say we are not considering it — and I would refer the Deputy to the departmental communication sent to schools in December 1993. It was stated that no arrangements were made for additional grants to schools specifically for the transition year. Students on these programmes will, of course, count for standard teaching allocations and grants towards recurrent costs. Schools applied on the basis of that information. The Department will spend £3 million on in-career development this year. Money has been put aside in the capital building programme if requests for additional accommodation are received. We are looking at aspects that the managerial  bodies and teachers unions have asked us to consider. This information was offered to those schools which opted to provide a transition year last December and they were asked to plan on that basis.
Ms Keogh: Many schools request funding from parents for the transition year. If it is to be used in a proper, structured and cohesive way the money must be forthcoming. Does the Minister agree that grants will form an instrinsic part of this and will she give a commitment that they will be made available?
Ms Bhreathnach: Any contributions of a voluntary nature sought by any school must be voluntary. Each pupil participating in the transition year will receive the normal capitation grant given to any student. Where contributions are requested from parents they must be voluntary. Parents should be aware that each student in a transition year class receives a capitation grant for their attendance at school. It applies equally to them as it would to any other pupil attending any other year.
An Ceann Comhairle: The time available for dealing with Priority Questions has been exhausted. I will take Question No. 8 in ordinary time.
Mr. McGrath: What about No. 7?
An Ceann Comhairle: We do not have time for it.
8. Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Education, in regard to her public statement on 11 May 1994, the steps if any she intends to take to recover moneys due to the Exchequer in respect of capital grants paid on approximately 70 primary schools sold over the past five years; the proportion of the money which is recoverable; if, in regard to the apparent difficulty in recovering such moneys, she intends to introduce any new regulations or conditions to ensure the prompt repayment of taxpayers money when schools are sold; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Ms Bhreathnach: I wish to clarify for the Deputy that some 70 national schools have been closed over the past five years but not all of these have been sold. It is estimated that some 50 schools have been sold in that period although some of them may have been closed prior to the period in question. I am aware that the Deputy has been promised in this House precise details of the number of schools sold over the past five years. It has proved difficult to extract the information from the Department's records but every effort is being made to collect it and to have it forwarded to him.
In many cases where national schools are closed the Department initiates the closure. The school authorities may decide to sell the premises but, if so, they must seek the Minister's agreement to release her interest. It is usually at this point that a financial consideration arises having regard to the amount of the State investment in the buildings over the years.
It should be pointed out in this regard that State investment will have been in the buildings only. The site will have been provided through local sources without any financial contribution from the State.
Because of all our concerns about the State's investment in schools my Department is at present engaged in discussions with the managerial association for primary schools on the whole issue of the de-vesting and sale of former national schools with a view to arriving at transparent and possibly formula-based arrangements acceptable to all parties.
I will keep the Deputy and the House informed.
Mr. Gilmore: I thank the Minister for her reply, but I am at a loss to understand why it has taken the Department of Education two years to establish exactly the number of schools which have been sold. Since she is on public record as stating that the State will recoup all of the money due to it from the sale of primary schools, will she tell the House her estimate of the  amount of money owed to the State from the sale of primary schools, the number of schools of school authorities which have been contacted and asked to repay money to the State and the amount of money involved?
Ms Bhreathnach: I do not have that information.
Mr. Gilmore: That is not acceptable. This question, which was tabled properly on the Order Paper for reply today, asked specifically for information regarding the amount of money involved. The Minister will have to appreciate that she is accountable to this House and that when Members ask for information on public money the least they are entitled to is that the Minister research the matter and give them the reply. For the past two years I have been asking questions about the number of schools which have been closed, the numbers sold and whether the money invested by the State has been refunded to it, and it is about time I got a reply.
An Ceann Comhairle: There is no need to embark upon a speech.
Ms Bhreathnach: I stated in my reply that it has proven difficult to get this information but every effort is being made to get it. The question regarding the past five years was tabled on 4 May last. The process of compiling the information is ongoing and I will come back to the Deputy on it. I share the Deputy's concern about the sale of properties — it is a common concern — and instead of waiting for the information, which I will come back to the House on, I have initiated talks with the managerial authorities so that we can put in place a formula which will allow us to dispose of primary schools in an orderly and transparent way. Having regard to demographic trends, we can expect the sale of more property in the primary school sector. I will continue to seek the information and will come back to the Deputy.
Mr. Browne: (Carlow-Kilkenny): Can I  take it that no refunds are sought in the case of schools which are not sold and are now used by local communities?
Ms Bhreathnach: Refunds of investment in buildings are sought in cases where the Minister has expressed a disinterest in the property as it is no longer used for educational purposes. To the best of my knowledge, educational activities are no longer continued in a building after the Minister has expressed a disinterest in it, at which stage the trustees are released from the obligation to ensure that it is used for educational purposes and a return is sought on the investment in it.
Mr. Gilmore: I want to correct a point made by the Minister. The first question relating to the position during the past five years was not put down on 4 May but, from memory, was put down in October 1992. Will the Minister agree that her Department has not made any attempt to recover the moneys owed to the State from the 50 schools which have been sold? While I appreciate her announcement that she is putting in place procedures to deal with the future sale of schools, both she and her Department have been remiss in not seeking a refund of the moneys owed from those schools which have been sold. She is not even in a position to tell us the amount owed to the State; there is not even an estimate on the amount owed to it. Will the Minister agree that it is very difficult for those communities which are seeking new primary schools or funding for the refurbishment of existing primary schools to stomach a situation whereby educational resources are being sold from under the Minister's nose and she does not even know the loss to the State?
Ms Bhreathnach: For the record, I have in my files a copy of two questions on this matter put down for written answer. The first question, which was put on 17 November 1993, asked the number of schools sold and the amount of capital grants refunded. I said in my reply the  information was not readily available, that I was having the matter examined and would communicate with the Deputy.
Mr. Gilmore: The Minister did not communicate with me.
Ms Bhreathnach: The second question, which was put down on 4 May last, asked the capital grants refunded arising from the sale of primary schools which were promised. I said in my reply, of which Deputy Gilmore has a copy, that a total amount of £68,124 was received during the period in question in respect of the refund of capital grants from closed national schools. That was the amount received.
Mr. Gilmore: How much did the Minister ask for?
Ms Bhreathnach: A breakdown of the amount by year in respect of the schools which have been closed is being finalised and I will be in touch with the Deputy. That question was put down on 4 May last, and I would not like the House to think that the Minister was being obstructive in terms of questions put down by Deputy Gilmore. I have responded to the questions he put down in November and May and while the answers may not be adequate in terms of detail I have promised——
Mr. Gilmore: It is not a very hard question to answer. How much does the Minister think is owed to the State?
An Ceann Comhairle: Let us hear the Minister without interruption.
Ms Bhreathnach: A total of £68,124 was received, and a breakdown of the amount by year in respect of the schools which were closed during the period in question is being finalised. I will, of course, be in touch with the Deputy.
Mr. Gilmore: No grade.
An Ceann Comhairle: Question No. 9.
Mr. McGrath: On a point of order, is it possible to take Question No. 7?
An Ceann Comhairle: No. The Chair is continually admonishing Members when it comes to dealing with Priority Questions to strive earnestly to complete the questions within the 20 minutes time limit laid down. I did so again today, and I do so ad nauseam, but unfortunately Members do not seem to respond. Question No. 9, please.
9. Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Education if it is her Department's policy to restrict 10 per cent of all staffing in community and comprehensive schools to a 10 per cent quota of temporary whole-time and part-time teachers; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Ms Bhreathnach: I refer the Deputy to my reply to Question No. 615 of 26 January 1994. As I explained at the time, the staffing approved in any one year for community and comprehensive schools is expressed in wholetime teacher equivalent units. Ninety per cent of staffing allocation is used to make permanent wholetime appointments, and the remaining 10 per cent may be used only to make temporary or part-time appointments. This is necessary to give school managements flexibility to plan their programmes and to cater for the broad range of subjects offered. It is also necessary to take account of the effect on the annual staffing allocation of short term fluctuation in student numbers.
The position currently adopted is that approximately 10 per cent of the approved teacher allocation should be used to make temporary or part-time appointments only. However, in accordance with the provisions of the Programme for Competitiveness and Work, my Department will be entering into discussions with representatives of management and of teacher unions with a view to agreeing a ceiling on the percentage of part-time teaching posts in  post-primary schools and third-level colleges. I do not wish to pre-empt those discussions.
Mr. McGrath: I cannot understand why the Minister laid down a criterion that 10 per cent only of the staffing levels in these school be allocated to part-time teachers. Surely local needs warrant local authorities and schools being in a position to take those kinds of decisions, ascertaining how to respond? Is job-sharing included in this 10 per cent ceiling the Minister is imposing because there is a great need for it in the teaching profession? It is already very successful in certain areas.
Ms Bhreathnach: It has been the practice to respond in a flexible manner to curricular demands in approved teacher allocations for 10 per cent of the school year or activity, a good example being the range of subjects offered in community and comprehensive schools and within the vocational education committee sector. At present within the secondary schools sector that flexibility does not exist, although there is a scheme which provides for the redeployment of teachers. Therefore, there is a different relationship between teachers in the voluntary schools sector and those in community, comprehensive and the vocational education committee sector. There has been discussion about this and an interest was expressed at the time of publication of the Programme for Competitiveness and Work. There have been discussions with management and teacher unions to agree a ceiling on the percentage of part-time teaching posts. I do not want to pre-empt these discussions but I am sure, on their finalisation, I will be able to spell out precisely what is included.
Mr. McGrath: I am endeavouring to ascertain the Minister's thoughts on this subject. Would she be happy to see an increase in the incidence of part-time teachers, or does she perceive any value in allocating part-time teachers to a school? Does she consider they have any  potential contribution to make to the variety of subjects being made available within a broad-based curriculum, when perhaps a teacher, working ten hours per week, could add a continental language or some other subject to that school's curriculum which would be advantageous, rather than imposing this 10 per cent ceiling?
Ms Bhreathnach: While a Minister may express preferences when arranging talks between parties and giving each a role, it would be pre-emptive of me to be prescriptive about any outcome I might wish. Indeed the 10 per cent in specific sectors has allowed flexibility, generally accepted by those involved. While the managerial authorities accept the need for flexibility they have expressed the view to my Department that the level of part-time and temporary teaching posts should be reduced. I am talking about community and comprehensive schools forming part of the ongoing negotiations that arose from the Programme for Competitiveness and Work. Within the timetable, curricula and subjects available in schools, there is the ability to respond flexibly with a percentage of part-time teachers but that precise percentage is at present being discussed.
10. Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Education the incentives if any, she intends to provide to ensure the maximum take-up of in-service courses by teachers in view of the increase in the budget allocation for in-service education; and the provision, if any, she intends to make for the absence of teachers from school to attend such courses.
33. Mr. Currie asked the Minister for Education the incentives if any, she intends to provide to ensure the maximum take-up of in-service courses by teachers in view of the increase in the budget allocation for in-service education; and the provision, if any, she intends to make for the absence of teachers from school to attend such courses.
Ms Bhreathnach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 10 and 33 together.
The Programme for a Partnership Government states that the Government will provide an extended and strengthened in-career development programme for teachers. As Minister for Education, I have announced a programme of in-career development which will meet the needs of the education system and the needs of schools and individual teachers. The programme is being put in place in consultation with the two representative advisory committees — one for primary and one for second-level — which I have established to advise and recommend on all aspects of teacher in-career development. I am confident that teachers will be prepared to fully participate in the programme.
Among the incentives being offered to teachers at present are extra personal vacations for primary teachers arising from attendance at summer in-career development courses; travel and subistence for attending certain courses; no course fees in respect of attendance at certain categories of courses; accreditation arising from attendance at particular courses.
Important curriculum changes are taking place at first and second levels which necessitate extensive teacher in-career development. The manner in which the in-career development activities are delivered will have a significant bearing on the question of absences of teachers from schools. This is an area which is being examined by my Department in consultation with the advisory committees whose terms of reference include advising and recommending on modes of delivery.
In the context of this examination, the extent of the provision of substitution to cover for the absence of teachers from school on in-career development courses will also be addressed.
My main concern, as Minister for Education, is to ensure that as much as possible  of the money available for in-career development is spent on the actual delivery of a high quality in-career developments programme.
Mr. Browne: (Carlow-Kilkenny): I am amazed the Minister is talking about summer courses because they have been in operation for many years. If this is an effort to recharge teachers' batteries, it comprises the usual bad value in that teachers forego five days of their summer holidays and are given three days later in the year, good value from the Department's point of view. The Minister should treat this matter very seriously by running such courses, within school time, nationwide.
Ms Bhreathnach: Over £30 million will be made available for teacher in-career development over the next six years under the terms of the National Development Plan which constitutes an extraordinary investment in in-career development. Therefore, we must be very careful to ensure that as much as possible of that investment is expended on delivery of high quality in-career development programmes. I have established representative committees within my Department to advise on how best we can deliver on those programmes, under which all primary schools are to be invited to submit proposals for their in-career development programmes which will be based on their local, individual identified needs. My Department will be prepared to facilitate and fund these programmes, otherwise schools would have to pay for them or do without. The incentive is their own professional development. I have set in train a two-pronged process, to ensure that the expenditure of the money will be done in close collaboration with those who deliver the courses and we have invited schools within the different sectors to seek departmental funding for new programmes which they consider meet their local needs. I take the point made by Deputy Browne about the delivery of such programmes locally. Teachers centres and colleges of education nationwide  have been asked to submit proposals for courses for primary teachers in the autumn term, which we envisage would take place outside school time and would respond to the Department's published list of priorities, in respect of which fees will not be charged to participants. I hope, by being flexible and close to the teaching profession in the matter of planning, that all teachers will benefit from this first time investment in in-career development.
Mr. McGrath: I wish to ask two brief supplementaries. Are the teacher unions represented on those two advisory bodies and, if so, to what extent? Will the Minister say whether the £5 million allocated this year is divided evenly between the primary and second level sectors? In other words will there be £2.5 million for both sectors?
Ms Bhreathnach: The teacher unions are represented on the committees. If the Deputy wants a breakdown I can give it to him. I should say they are satisfied with their representation on the committees. Without giving an exact breakdown of the moneys available for this year a higher proportion will go to in-career development at the senior cycle——
Mr. McGrath: Why?
Ms Bhreathnach: We have put in place extraordinary changes at the senior cycle. Because of the demands that will be made on the teaching profession for those delivering on the senior cycle of second level education the Department must respond. We made money available for teachers who had accepted the invitation to be involved in the transition year. The bulk of the activity for delivery this year is at the second level. The unions involved, represented on the two committees, have accepted the invitation extended to them. They are advising the Department on how best we can serve the teaching profession and, ultimately, the students involved with this massive investment the Government is making in in-career development.
Mr. Gilmore: I want to specifically ask about the curriculum changes and the arrangements being made for the in-service training of teachers. Is it the intention that the in-service training for teachers will be provided within normal school time and that training will be carried out by members of the teaching profession? If so, what arrangements, if any, have been made for the release of those teachers from their normal teaching duties to prepare for and carry out the training exercises?
Ms Bhreathnach: The responses from the teaching profession to avail of this training have been flexible. As I said in my reply, there are different ways of doing it. I would welcome a specific question on the content of in-career programmes. I will avail of any opportunity offered to spell out the many ways in which we are responding to the different needs. The first tranche of the moneys available for in-career development went towards training principls. We were involved in the preparation of trainers for the transition year. Different groups are responding to each of the changes being introduced and the development programmes available. Others are making programmes available to be able to respond to suggestions and programmes. We now have six months work under our belt and we are putting a formula in place. We have not completed the formula because we have invited teachers to express their needs. A formula is being put in place as to how best we can invest the money on which the teacher unions and the committees are advising the Department but specific responses are awaited. A sum of £6 million is to be spent over a six year period on different programmes. I know I will be satisfied that we will have not only the goodwill of the teacher unions but that we will be working with them to ensure that their members benefit from this investment in in-career development. Until now, except for teachers who volunteered to do summer courses and the small number involved in retraining, many more left the training college and  went into the classroom and the curriculum did not change. Now the curriculum has changed and the Department and the Minister have a responsibility to ensure that teachers can avail of training, respond positively to the curriculum changes at second level and make the school curriculum relevant to the growing numbers of children remaining on in our schools. At present 73 per cent of the school cohort remains on until leaving certificate but I hope it will reach 90 per cent. To put the matter in perspective when I did my leaving certificate, 40 per cent stayed on.
We are changing the curriculum and giving people different options. We are telling the teaching profession that we appreciate they will deliver that change and as a Department ensure that we invest wisely, on their advice, on their in-career development needs.
Mr. Browne: (Carlow-Kilkenny): I accept readily that even a bicycle gets rusty after ten years and teachers are in the same position. I am worried that, as usual, the goodwill of teachers is being cashed in on by the Department. The Minister referred to summer and evening courses and the vast sums of money being spent on training. Surely serious thought must be given by the Minister's advisory group to full time training and, if necessary, close schools to allow teachers to attend courses on so called in-service training. Is it not time teachers were treated seriously and that their goodwill was not always used as an excuse for not looking after them properly?
Ms Bhreathnach: That was the reason I asked for an advisory committee who would advise the Department on how the in-career development would be carried out. As far as possible it would be locally based. We asked the schools to submit proposals and I am sure the concerns of Deputies will be expressed by the teachers who are now responding to the invitation issued by the Department.
Ms Keogh: The Minister certainly learned about Shakespearean soliloquy  in school. When does she expect the advisory committee on in-career development to report? Will she abide by its recommendations or will we have the spectacle of only half its recommendations being implemented? Will the reports of all the advisory committees be published? It is important that they are.
Ms Bhreathnach: I expect this committee to be ongoing and that we will work hand-in-hand with the teachers' unions and managerial bodies. The moneys will be spread over a six year programme. I will leave it to other people to decide whether at the end of this programme I should have to account for this money.
Mr. Gilmore: Six years of this would be too much for anybody — spare us.
Ms Bhreathnach: This committee will continue to operate as money is invested in in-career development each year.
11. Miss Flaherty asked the Minister for Education if, in dispensing the £5 million funding allocation to the GAA for the development of Croke Park, she will ensure that the GAA is required to spend adequately on traffic and security measures in the adjacent communities.
188. Mr. J. Mitchell asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to the fact that there is great concern among residents in the vicinity of Croke Park that she has made available a grant of £5 million to the GAA for the development of Croke Park without attaching any conditions especially in relation to parking problems on days of major sporting events.
Mr. Aylward: I propose to take Questions Nos. 11 and 188 together.
The grant of £5 million in respect of the Croke Park development, which is being administered under my Department's major sports facilities programme, is subject to the normal terms  and conditions applicable to all Exchequer funded capital projects, including the requirement that planning permission be obtained.
Any planning permission conditions in respect of car parking requirements are a matter between Cumman Luthchleas Gael and Dublin Corporation. I am aware, however, that the planning permission granted by Dublin Corporation outlines in great detail the conditions which have to be met by the GAA in the interests of residential amenity, safety and the avoidance of traffic hazard.
Miss Flaherty: As this question was raised during the debate on the Estimates I have some idea of the way the Minister of State is thinking. Is he aware that when there is a match in Croke Park the local community is under siege, that many people cannot gain access to their own homes, that people drink late into the night on the pavement and that there is a major problem with litter? There is a feeling in the community that the Minister of State in disbursing these funds could be of assistance in impressing on the GAA that there is a need to do more and to implement in full the conditions attached to planning permission for the extension. Will the Minister of State keep the promise he made during the debate on the Estimates and have a further word with the GAA about this matter and its impact on this settled and quite community which has hosted this important institution for a long period, not without significant cost?
Mr. Aylward: As a regular attender at Croke Park I am aware of this problem.
Mr. Browne: (Carlow-Kilkenny): Parking facilities under the stand.
Mr. Byrne: We will put an end to that this year.
Mr. Aylward: I am aware of the Deputy's concern; she tabled parliamentary questions on several occasions and raised the issue during the recent debate on the Estimates when I promised to write to  the Croke Park authorities, which I did. This is a matter between the GAA authorities and Dublin Corporation but, judging from the conditions imposed which have been upheld by An Bord Pleanála, there is an improvement. Phases 2 and 3 of this development cannot proceed until at least 12 months after the completion of phase 1. This is an indication of the commitment of Dublin Corporation whose decision was upheld by An Bord Pleanála. The views of local people were taken into consideration.
Miss Flaherty: Will the Minister of State let us have copies of any replies he receives from Croke Park on these specific issues?
Mr. Aylward: I will be delighted to do that.
Mr. Gilmore: In view of the fact that £5 million of taxpayers' money is being given to the GAA authorities for the improvement of Croke Park, will the Minister make it a condition that Croke Park will be available for international football matches?
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: This question relates to parking, traffic and security measures.
Mr. Byrne: They are getting excited about the World Cup.
Mr. Gilmore: The Deputy will not be in Croke Park for quite a while.
Mr. Byrne: Will the Deputy bet on it?
Mr. Aylward: If any sporting organisation or governing body is prepared to spend in excess of £100 million on any development I will give them a hearing. There were no string's attached to the grant of £5 million.
Mr. Gilmore: GAA rules.
Mr. Gregory: Will the Minister of State confirm that no special conditions were  attached to the grant of £5 million other than the normal condition attached to any grant from the Exchequer, to which he referred, that planning permission be obtained? Is the Minister aware that there is a sense of outrage that £5 million of taxpayers' money is being given to the GAA for this development without the Government availing of the opportunity to ensure that the GAA authorities make some reasonable effort to deal with the massive problems caused for residents when a major sporting event is held in the stadium? As Deputy Flaherty said, streets are strewn with litter after the event and the area is choked with traffic. The Croke Park authorities have refused to provide any community facility, let alone, as Deputy Gilmore said, allow international soccer matches to be played in this huge development. Allied to this——
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: That should be adequate, Deputy.
Mr. Gregory: ——there are virtually no local people employed on this development. Will the Minister of State — this is a waste of time — at least convey these points to the GAA authorities?
Mr. Aylward: I am disappointed that no one mentioned that when people visit Croke Park they spend money. I covered two of the points raised by the Deputy. I am aware that people are concerned and because of this I have written to the GAA authorities. I will communicate with the Deputies when a response comes to hand. On the question of planning permission, I do not think the Deputy would want me or any Department to interfere with Dublin Corporation, the statutory body charged with the responsibility of administering the planning laws in Dublin. Its decisions have been upheld by An Bord Pleanála and the application was dealt with thoroughly. There are 34 stringent conditions and the concerns of local people were taken into consideration. Work on phases 2 and 3 will be carefully monitored. When I receive  the response of the Croke Park authorities I will let the Deputies have a copy.
Mr. Gregory: Will the Minister of State confirm that there were no special conditions attached?
Mr. Aylward: There were no strings attached.
12. Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Education if she will set up a special task force within her Department to work in conjunction with educational and vocational interests in Waterford to initiate a process which will lead to the establishment of a university in Waterford City; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Ms Bhreathnach: A steering committee was established under the aegis of the Higher Education Authority to advise me on the future development of the higher education sector. The committee has been asked to prepare projections to the year 2015 of the total potential enrolments in higher education and to consider, inter alia, the needs for higher education on a regional basis and the appropriateness of the current institutional provision by region to meet these needs.
I understand that the committee received submissions from educational and vocational interests in the Waterford area and that members of the technical group set up to assist the committee have visited the region. The committee is due to complete its deliberations in December and submit its recommendations to me. When I receive its recommendations I will give its proposals my urgent attention.
Mr. McGrath: Is it the Minister's intention to publish the report of this committee which is due to report in December? When does she expect to publish it?
Ms Bhreathnach: I have given a commitment  to consider the proposals urgently and when the report is finalised I will consider its recommendations. The committee has been asked to consider participation rates, transfer rates of school leavers, the number of mature and second level students and participation from diadvantaged areas. We have been asked to consider many groups as well as the region which Deputy Deasy asked us to examine. The whole student cohort will be examined. The committee invited people to meet it, it is compiling its recommendations and I expect to receive them in December.
Mr. McGrath: That is not what I asked the Minister. I asked her if she will publish the report she receives from the committee and, if so, when? Will the Minister give a simple answer to that question?
Ms Bhreathnach: I have given a commitment that when I receive the report I will give the proposals my urgent attention. That is what I am committing myself to today.
Mr. McGrath: Will the Minister publish the report?
Mr. Kenneally: I acknowledge that a report is expected, but I am sure we are all aware that additional places will be needed up to the year 2015. Will the Government give a commitment to the people in Waterford who have made a submission to the Minister? A petition in this regard will be signed in the near future. Is there a commitment to Waterford and the south east region in general which, outside Dublin, is the second most populous region in the country but which does not have a university?
Ms Bhreathnach: I am not in a position to respond to specific questions, but one of the committee's remits is to consider student needs in a national context, examine the needs for higher education on a regional basis and the appropriateness of the current institutional provision by region to meet those  demands. The Deputy referred to a specific region. As representatives from that region met the committee, I am sure it will be considered. However, it is not approprite to comment, except to say that in preparing projections to the year 2015 I requested that the recommendations should be made to me on a regional basis.
Ms Keogh: I am concerned that the Minister does not intend to publish the findings of the various advisory committees and groups she set up. In the interest of transparency — about which the Government is supposed to be so concerned — will the Minister accept that if there is an element of secrecy about reports or recommendations of the various groups set up by her it will create a great deal of suspicion? It is essential that the recommendations are published.
Ms Bhreathnach: I not the Deputy's remarks.
Mr. Kenneally: I accept what the Minister said about specific regions. Nevertheless, will she ensure that facilities are not located only in regions in which there are universities, but that other areas will be seriously considered? There are five major cities and four of them, Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick, have a regional college and a university. The south eastern region is discriminated against in regard to such facilities.
Ms Bhreathnach: I asked that the information and advice be given to me on a regional basis. The global needs of the economy and society must also be considered that includes regional, socioeconomic and equality considerations. Student and labour market demands formulate the best estimates for an appropriate balance in the sector in terms of intake in total school student numbers. The terms of reference cover university and non-university sectors, sub-degrees undergraduates and postgraduates, disciplines and institutions and teacher education with reference to specialist teacher  requirements such as home economics, art and music. The word “regional” is covered by the terms of reference and given the composition of the committee sitting under the aegis of a higher education authority and I am sure the Deputy's concerns will be addressed.
14. Mr. Lowry asked the Minister for Education the level of fees payable by students taking the leaving certificate and junior certificate examinations; the cost of sitting pre-examinations; and the facilities, if any, for low income families to obtain reductions in these fees.
51. Mr. McGrath asked the Minister for Education the level of fees payable by students taking the leaving certificate and junior certificate examinations; the cost of sitting the pre-examinations; and the facilities, if any, for low income families to obtain reductions in these fees.
Ms Bhreathnach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 14 and 51 together. The ordinary fees payable by school candidates for entry to the 1994 certificate examinations are as follows: leaving Certificate, £44; junior Certificate, £41. In relation to pre-examinations I presume the Deputy is referring to examinations organised in schools prior to the leaving and junior certificate. The position in relation to these examinations is that my Department neither arranges nor charges a fee for them.
My Department implements a scheme to provide alleviation of fees in the case of any pupil attending school who is experiencing particular hardship. For this purpose a total of more than £374,000 has been allocated to recognised schools and vocational education committees in respect of the 1994 examinations. The amount of the reduction in the case of any individual pupil concerned under this scheme is determined at the discretion of the school authorities subject to the total amount of such deductions not exceeding  the specified amount already notified to each school.
Mr. McGrath: The fees of £44 for the leaving certificate and £41 for the junior certificate may not appear huge sums of money in terms of individual pupils. However, they present major difficulties for many low income families who have to pay mortgages, water charges and medical expenses, but who do not want handouts. I was told recently of a boy who had been paying his fees by instalment who was sent home from school because the final instalment had not been paid. He lives approximately five miles from the school, was discharged at approximately 10 a.m. and the first his mother knew was at 2.30 p.m. when a teacher from the school telephoned to know if her son had arrived home. I would like to hear the Minister's views because that type of conduct is totally out of line. How does the Minister propose to assist families who do not qualify for a medical card but who are on a low income?
Ms Bhreathnach: That is why, under this scheme, the amount of the reduction in the case of individuals is determined at the discretion of the school authorities subject to the total amount. The criterion in respect of medical cards is not the only one which applies. The amount allocated to schools to cater for cases of particular hardship is related to the amount allocated to the school or committee for the purpose of the scheme. School authorities are advised that, for the purposes of the scheme, a necessitous pupil may be defined as a child from a home where general hardship exists because of unemployment, prolonged illness of a parent, a large family with inadequate means, single parent status, where more than one child is sitting an examination and other circumstances which would denote a similar degree of domestic and financial hardship. The terms are flexible, it is up to us to ensure that school authorities are aware of the scheme and the criteria involved and that cases such as that outlined by the Deputy do not arise.
Mr. Browne: (Carlow-Kilkenny): Will the Minister accept that it is penal for some parents to come up with this money? The so-called free book scheme has been in operation for many years and schools are allocated a certain amount of money, but they cannot possibly cater for those on low incomes who do not qualify for medical cards. Those administering the scheme will not have enough money to deal with genuine hardship cases where children are frequently embarrassed because they do not have the money to pay these fees. It is not their fault they do not have the money to pay for examinations. Perhaps we should consider reducing examination fees. Why should we generate an income from those sitting examinations?
Ms Bhreathnach: It is not a profit-making business. In 1993 the total amount collected in examination entry fees was £5,450,000. The amount spent by the Department, in the main on the remuneration of examiners and superintendents, was in excess of £10 million and this was exclusive of the salaries and expenses of the Department's examination staff. Taking everything into account, the total cost of holding examinations was in excess of £13 million in 1993. Let me reiterate that it is not a profit-making exercise.
I remind the Deputy of the criteria, mentioned in my previous reply, that allow schools to respond in a flexible way to the needs of the most necessitous pupils.
Mr. Browne: (Carlow-Kilkenny): Will the Minister accept that there will never be enough money? Parents are convinced that they can go to the school principal for assistance to buy books but as the amount allocated to the schools is minimal it does not meet a fraction of the identified need at local level.
Ms Bhreathnach: I have outlined the headings under which pupils are defined as necessitous. It is left to the discretion of the school authorities to reduce the  fees for individuals. However, I agree with Deputy Browne that there is never enough money.
15. Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Education if general purpose rooms will be included in all school buildings built or proposed for schools of four teachers or more; and the way in which she intends to ensure that physical education, which she has recently stated is an integral part of children's education, should be provided in schools with fewer than four teachers.
57. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Education if general purpose rooms will be included in all school buildings built or proposed for building in schools of four teachers or more; and the way in which she intends to ensure that physical education, which she has recently stated is an integral part of children's education, should be provided in schools with fewer than four teachers.
Ms Bhreathnach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 15 and 57 together. I am pleased to inform the Deputies that it is my intention to provide for general purpose rooms in all new primary school building projects in respect of schools of four classrooms or more. This will include those projects in the 1994 capital programme.
Where general purpose facilities currently exist, additional classroom provision will be made for an expanding school of four or more class teachers so that the use of the general purpose room as a classroom will not be necessary.
Also, where a school currently has four class teachers but projected enrolments indicate that it will have three teachers in the long term, the project will provide for a general purpose size classroom in addition to three permanent classrooms.
The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment is carrying out a review of the primary curriculum, and will advise  me on any revisions to the programme which might be necessary to ensure that all pupils receive an adequate level of physical education.
Mr. Browne: (Carlow-Kilkenny): The Minister is aware that the Department provided no general purpose room in the 12 classroom school in Graiguecullen, County Carlow and the parish was forced to build one at its own expense. I am glad that mad policy has been changed. Is there any hope of retrospective payment?
Ms Bhreathnach: No, there is not. There is a cut off point. I thank the Deputy for welcoming this proposal. We have been able to take this step because of the enhancement of the primary school capital programme. Not only will we be able to plan for general purpose rooms but also to expand the minor and emergency grant scheme and this year 206 schools will have proper sanitary facilities.
We are surveying the existing accommodation and this will allow us to plan on a more orderly basis than previously. Moneys will also be required for additional prefabricated accommodation and site acquisitions. The Department is responding to needs and I look forward to receiving applications from schools in the Deputy's area.
16. Mr. O'Malley asked the Minister for Education the number of women inspectors in her Department.
Ms Bhreathnach: There are 30 women inspectors serving in the inspectorate of my Department. This total is made up of seven primary inspectors, ten post-primary inspectors and 13 inspectors of guidance and psychology.
In 1992 there was a total of 29 women inspectors out of a complement of 171 whereas the current number is 30 out of a complement of 163.
I have arranged for a review of the recruitment procedures, deployment and  working practices of the inspectorate with a view to having a gender equitable system and to encouraging more women to apply for posts within the inspectorate.
I have recently received from the Minister for Equality and Law Reform a copy of the report on a survey of equal opportunities in the public service. The report highlights the virtual absence of women from senior management in the public sector.
I will co-operate fully in the introduction of progressive policies of equal opportunities to ensure that the current pattern of inequality within the public sector is effectively reduced.
Ms Keogh: It is a disgrace that less than 20 per cent of school inspectors are women. This needs to be redresed urgently. School inspectors serve as a role model for young people and it is not good enough that over 80 per cent of them are male. Will the Minister set out what she proposes to do about this and the time frame in which it will be achieved?
Ms Bhreathnach: I am not in a position to set a time limit. The Minister for Equality and Law Reform has been in touch with other Departments on equal opportunities in the public service. I have given a commitment to work with him in order to ensure that women are promoted in the public service. I take on board the Deputy's remarks that inspectors are important role models. The two challenges are that women have an opportunity to seek promotion and that promotion in the public sector is open not only to their male colleagues but to women. In schools we are educating people to take their place in society and it is important that they have role models. I can assure the Deputy that I will be co-operating fully in the introduction of progressive policies because I accept that the current inequality in the public sector is a matter of concern.
Mr. Sargent: I support the policy to achieve equality because there are severe gender imbalances in teaching, particularly at primary level. Will the Minister  take on board recommendations from teachers that certain inspectors ought to be well briefed on sexist language as in carrying out their functions they should not make sexist remarks? I have heard from teachers that the word “chick” has been used by some inspectors when referring to women. Until equality is achieved, it might be worthwhile to circulate a memorandum to the inspectorate to ensure they are made aware of the need to use non-sexist language.
Ms Bhreathnach: I take the Deputy's remarks about the relationship between the inspectorate and the teaching profession. I would welcome specific details from the Deputy if he wishes to make them available. In tackling the challenge of gender equality, we have in place information packs which emphasise that teachers should realise the importance of their relationship with the children. I was disappointed to read in a survey made available to me in the Department prior to Christmas that sexism and children's ideas about themselves can be formed as early as senior infant level. If the Deputy has specific worries I will take note of them and pass them to the relevant authorities. Relationships between adults are role models. We aspire to educate children to live in the world where equality is the norm rather than the exception.
Mr. Browne: (Carlow-Kilkenny): Regardless of gender balance or sexist language, will the Minister ensure that all inspectors apply common sense as this is vital when they visit schools? The Deputy will not remember the old days when inspectors should have been tied up and left in Dublin permanently.
Ms Bhreathnach: I note the Deputy's comments.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Before coming to the Order of Business I propose to deal with a notice of motion under Standing Order 30 from Deputy Sargent. I call Deputy Sargent to state the matter of which he has given notice.
Mr. Sargent: In view of the ultimatum presented to TEAM Aer Lingus employees which expires on Friday week, threatening the existence of that national flagship company in Dublin North and the rumour that 600 employees will be let go this weekend, I ask that the business of the Dáil be adjourned to allow the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications to answer charges that TEAM Aer Lingus is being prevented from realising its potential by dubious management decisions and a lack of worker participation.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Having considered the matter fully, I do not consider it to be one contemplated by the Standing Order and, accordingly, I cannot grant leave to move the motion.
Mr. Sargent: How many job losses will be necessary?
The Taoiseach: It is proposed to take No. A6 on the Supplementary Order Paper, Nos. 6 and 9. It is also proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that: (1) the proceedings on No. A6, if not previously concluded, shall be brought to a conclusion within two hours or at 6.45 p.m. whichever is the earlier, and the following arrangements shall apply in relation to the debate; (i) the opening speech of a Minister or Minister  of State and of the main spokesperson for the Fine Gael Party, the Progressive Democrat Party and the Technical Group shall not exceed 20 minutes in each case; (ii) the speech of each other Member called upon shall not exceed five minutes in each case; and (iii) a Minister or Minister of State shall be called on not less than ten minutes before the debate is due to conclude to make a speech in reply; (2) the following arrangements shall apply in relation to the debate on No. 6: (i) the opening speech of a Minister or Minister of State and of the main spokesperson for the Fine Gael Party, the Progressive Democrat Party and the Technical Group shall not exceed 10 minutes in each case; and (ii) the speech of each other Member called upon shall not exceed five minutes in each case. Private Members' Business shall be Nos. 16 and 23 — Motion No. 17.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Are the proposals to deal with item No. A6 agreed? Agreed. Are the proposals for dealing with item No. 6 agreed? Agreed.
Mr. Rabbitte: I welcome the fact that Deputy McDowell's motion and my opposition to it last week has elicited a debate on it. Why has the Chair accepted this motion from the Government when if a motion had been tabled by any other Member it would have been ruled out of order on the basis that there is already a motion on the Order Paper?
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: This motion is being taken now under an order of the House which cites “notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders” and it has just been agreed.
Mr. J. Bruton: It would be good to have a debate soon on the Ethics in Public Office Bill. When will it be debated?
The Taoiseach: There is no problem about having an early debate on it. We will let the Whips discuss it.
Mr. E. Kenny: I would agree to an early debate.
The Taoiseach: I am sure the Deputy would and so would I, but we will leave the matter to be discussed by the Whips.
Mr. E. Kenny: Maybe the Taoiseach needs to discuss it more than I do.
The Taoiseach: No, I do not. That is why a two hour debate has been allowed today.
Mr. Flanagan: I seek the Chair's guidance on a matter in the context of the Ethics Bill. A few months ago some Deputies, including myself, were invited to a ceremony to turn the sod of the Tallaght Hospital. I understand tomorrow the ceremony for the laying of the foundation stone will take place with a public relations fanfare. I ask the Taoiseach if this type of political ceremony before an election is appropriate? Will it be covered by the Ethics in Public Office Bill?
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: This matter is not appropriate now.
Mrs. Owen: There is a hay field on top of the sod Charles Haughey turned in Swords.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Deputy Flanagan, please resume your seat.
Mr. Sargent: With the recent good weather——
Mr. J. Bruton: Global warming.
Mr. Sargent: ——people who live in Dunsink and Ballealy are beginning to smell the lack of a Government policy on waste. Will the Taoiseach give a definite date for its publication rather than say it will be published soon? It was promised for before the recess.
Mr. J. O'Keeffe: It is collecting sods at the moment.
The Taoiseach: It is progressing well and we hope it will be published before the end of the session.
Mr. Sargent: I have heard that before.
The Taoiseach: We will do our best. I thought the Deputy was going to say he was against good weather.
Mr. Harte: When will the Minister for Agriculture pay the cattle and sheep headage premia?
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn): I move:
That Dáil Éireann endorses the present Business Investment Scheme operated under the Nationality and Citizenship Acts.
I propose to avail myself of the opportunity which the debate on this motion presents to do three things. I will outline the nature and operation of the scheme to which the motion refers and which has been operated by successive Governments of all political hues since the scheme was introduced by Government in the 1980s.
Mr. E. Kenny: On a point of order, does the Minister propose to circulate copies of her script?
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: I do. I am sorry they are not here. Does the House wish me to wait until they arrive? I will wait.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I ask the Minister to resume her speech. It is not normal to wait.
Mr. J. Bruton: We have to reply immediately to this. I think it is desirable  that we wait. We do not want to criticise the Government when it does not deserve criticism, on the basis of not adequately hearing what is being read out.
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: I regret that the scripts are not here yet, but they are on their way.
Sitting suspended at 4.30 p.m. and resumed at 4.50 p.m.
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: I apologise to Members of the House for the fact that the printing machine in the Department of Justice broke down.
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: Perhaps Deputy Rabbitte will be able to recommend a suitable printing machine.
I propose to avail myself of the opportunity which the debate on this motion present to do three things. First, I want to outline the nature and operation of the scheme to which the motion refers and which has been operated by successive Governments since the scheme was introduced by Government in the 1980s. Second, I propose to set the record straight concerning extremely serious allegations made about the grant of naturalisation in the case of two persons who have been named publicly — allegations which are based on misinformation and which appear to be grounded on nothing more or less than pre-election posturing and politicking. Third, I want to talk about changes in naturalisation and citizenship arrangements generally since this Government took office and I became Minister for Justice early last year.
First, to the scheme itself. Section 16 of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1956, which was inserted by section 5 of an Act of the same name in 1986, provides that the Minister for Justice may in his-her absolute discretion grant a certificate of naturalisation where the applicant has “Irish associations”, even if the other conditions for naturalisation, or any of them, are not fulfilled.
It has been the policy and practice of  successive Governments, from all sides of the House, to give favourable consideration to applications for naturalisation in the case of persons making or facilitating substantial investments in the State, where such investments have the aim of job creation or the preservation of jobs that might otherwise be lost. The consistent view, again of successive Governments of all political hues has been that, by being prepared to make a substantial investment in jobs in this country and by purchasing a residence here, applicants for naturalisation, assuming of course that there are no serious impediments to naturalisation on other grounds, should be deemed to have the “Irish associations” necessary for the grant of citizenship.
My understanding is that certain other countries, including EU countries, follow a similar policy and I believe that it would generally be considered to be more in accordance with the intention of the Legislature and the spirit of the legislation that we should, as a matter of normal practice, grant applications in such cases rather than refuse them in the knowledge that the grant will secure investment and the refusal may see the investment move elsewhere.
I am taking it that the correctness of the principle whereby foreign nationals who make substantial investments of this kind may be granted naturalisation is not in serious dispute. I do not see how it could be, given the record of successive Governments and the inherent good sense of interpreting the legislation in a way which would allow substantial investors in Irish jobs to be naturalised on the basis of Irish associations.
It is, of course, open to people to have different and legitimate points of view about how far we should go in this State in the use of the possibility of Irish citizenship to encourage investment by non-nationals. The reality is that this type of scheme is operated by many countries who are in competition with us in trying to attract foreign investment and, indeed, it would appear that the schemes available in some of these countries are far less rigid than ours.
 Whatever about making adjustments to the existing arrangements — as I will explain later I had made some myself before this present situation blew up — I doubt very much if either those seeking investment in Irish business or the people out there looking for jobs would welcome a policy shift now which saw this country spurn substantial investment offers rather than grant naturalisation to the potential investors involved.
Many favourable naturalisation decisions were made over the years under the legislative provisions I have just mentioned — they run about 20 successful applications per year. The critical issue in all cases is whether proper procedures have been followed and whether the standard of “Irish associations”, accepted by successive Justice Ministers and Governments, has been met. This brings me directly to the second issue, that is to the case which has been the subject of widespread and misleading publicity in recent days.
First of all to the facts, on which there is, I believe, a considerable amount of confusion and, as I have said, misinformation. My Department's files shows that on 10 July 1992 the managing director of a consultancy firm, which has submitted other, unrelated, applications for naturalisation, forwarded an application for naturalisation to my Department on behalf of the two persons whose names have been in the media and have been mentioned by Deputy McDowell. The consultancy firm submitted these applications through the Minister for the Environment, Deputy Michael Smith. The applicants were a mother and her son — not husband and wife as some appear to be assuming — and the application was based on the fact that, between them, the two people concerned had earlier invested £1.1 million in job creation in C & D Foods Limited. The company itself has confirmed that these jobs were created and maintained and confirmation was received by letter dated 15 July 1992 from a large and reputable firm of solicitors in Dublin that the husband of the woman and father of the man who had made the aforementioned  investments had purchased a residence in Dublin.
Subsequent to that — on 25 November 1992 — the two investors made the required Declaration of Fidelity to the Nation and Loyalty to the State, in the District Court, in accordance with law and both were granted their naturalisation certificates on 15 December 1992.
There was nothing out of the ordinary or underhand, in other words, about the way in which this application was dealt with. It was not unusual for the company which submitted the application on behalf of the mother and son to make such applications; it was not unusual that the application would be submitted, in the first place, through another Minister; there was a substantial job creating investment involved; there was the family investment in a residence and the declarations required by law were made in court.
Deputies who have been Justice Ministers since this investment/naturalisation scheme was introduced, irrespective of their political colour, will know full well that they have granted several applications in similar circumstances once the relevant requirements were satisfied. Deputies who served as Ministers in other Departments, together with some, indeed, who did not serve as Ministers at all — again irrespective of their political colour — will also know full well that they have supported such applications.
If the representative of any party which has been in Government in that period is tempted to stand up and challenge what I have just said, I would strongly advise him or her, right now, to remain seated and have a word instead with his or her senior party colleagues. I would also strongly advise that they ask their colleagues whether any of them ever sought to extend the scheme so as to allow for the grant of naturalisation applications on the basis of investments not necessarily falling into the direct job creation category — for example, for investments in golf clubs. If they are told the truth about this they will also be told that  the Government, on the recommendation of a Fianna Fáil Justice Minister, opposed the golf club move and that it failed. Deputy McDowell will not require cross-party consultations to get the facts, if indeed facts are of any interest to him.
Before I go any further, there is one sideshow which needs to be disposed of, that is the suggestion that there were Cabinet discussions on the application and that this somehow confirms that there was an element of chicanery afoot. While restricted, by law, in what can and cannot be disclosed about Cabinet meetings, I believe that it is not illegal for me to confirm that the issue was not submitted by my Department as an item for consideration by the Government. There was simply nothing for the Government to consider. There were informal discussions about the operation of the scheme from time to time, as there are about many other things not immediately before the Government for decision, but there was no Government decision — and none was required — concerning this particular application.
Proceeding further with the facts of the particular case, there is one fact which has not I believe so far emerged but which will surely demonstrate to any fair minded person that proper procedures were followed in this case. The man who is husband of the woman and father of the man granted naturalisation, himself applied — again through Minister Smith — for naturalisation in October 1993 but was routinely advised by an official of the Department of Justice that it could not be granted on the basis of the £1.1 million investments made by his wife and son or on the basis of the fact that they had acquired Irish citizenship. He was told that he would have to make his own investment if he was to qualify. The legislative term “Irish Associations”, in other words, is, as a matter of normal routine, construed quite strictly by the Department of Justice.
Mr. M. McDowell: Is the Minister delivering the marginal note?
An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy McDowell will have to restrain himself.
Mr. Rabbitte: There is a note in the column, a Cheann Comhairle.
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: That should clear the air in relation to the fact that Deputy McDowell has consistently said that a Mr. and Mrs. Masri are concerned in this instance.
I am glad to say that the man concerned was not put off by the strict requirements involved. He subsequently invested £1.5 million in forestry — an investment estimated to produce 50 jobs and welcomed by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry — and he has indicated that an investment of equal amount — a further £1.5 million — will be made in another suitable venture in this country. On this basis I am prepared to grant naturalisation to him as I would to any other person who satisfied the relevant conditions.
Deputy McDowell's headline grabbing exercise, in other words, was just that and no more. While we do not know exactly what he wishes to achieve in introducing this Bill — because we have not seen it — if one is to judge from newspaper reports this, too, is no more than a headline grabbing effort in that its main purpose seems to be to put in place that which is already part of law and practice.
Leaving aside political gamesmanship, by which many Deputies may be tempted in the run-up to elections, I am surprised that Deputy McDowell lent himself to this particular effort.
Mr. Molloy: Come off it, Minister.
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: I am surprised on several counts. He has been a well-informed and constructive contributor to legislative measures——
Mr. Molloy: Patronising.
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: ——at least those for which I have had responsibility — yet on this occasion he has clearly gone over the top without knowing the facts. I  do not believe the Deputy was aware that the naturalisation arrangements of which he complains have in fact been part of law and practice for some time. In fact, he admitted as much on radio this morning.
I also find it hard to believe that the Deputy would land himself in a piece of naked politicking which, though the allegations on which it is founded have no substance whatsoever, has succeeded in attracting unfavourable attention to a very respectable family — identified by name — who have done no more than provide substantial investment in job creation in this country and apply for naturalisation on that basis, like many others — in accordance with the law of the land.
A Deputy: Hear, hear.
Mr. Molloy: Nobody is questioning that.
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: I earlier asked Deputies who may have been tempted to get in on this particular bandwagon to talk to their party colleagues and consider what they are told before they too are led on a wild goose chase.
The alternative is for me to mention the names of other investors, other naturalisations and other political parties who operated the naturalisation arrangements which are the subject of discussion here. It has been long standing practice in my Department not to discuss individual cases. It is a practice which exists for very valid reasons as anybody who has served as Minister for Justice will know and much as one might be tempted to refer to other cases to set some balance on the totally misleading nonsense we heard from Deputy McDowell and others in recent days, I will stick with the principle of preserving the privacy rights of the persons concerned. I would like to assure them and others who may be thinking of investment in this country that we will not trade their privacy rights in an attempt to score political goals — in Deputy McDowell's case an own goal. I would like to assure them also that the very sensible scheme fully operated by successive  Governments will continue to operate here as it does in other countries which need and value job creation opportunities for their citizens.
The third matter I want to mention is the action I have taken, with Government approval, since I became Minister for Justice, but first I want to say why I thought it desirable to look at the whole area of naturalisation and citizenship and to see whether change was called for.
I was aware, like everybody else in politics, that concerns have been expressed — particularly in relation to refugees — and that there was need generally for more transparency and openness. I was aware also — and this is true of legislative schemes of all kinds, whether in the area of naturalisation and citizenship or otherwise — that it is necessary to ensure that the various checks and balances are kept under review, so that unknown to anybody and despite the best intentions of those operating the systems, something has not begun to go astray.
In the very area we are dealing with, for example, the scheme under which naturalisation may be granted on the basis of “Irish associations” following a substantial investment, I was as much aware as everybody else of allegations of non-permanent investments at a discounted interest rate and so on. I discussed this within my Department and it was clear that there was no really effective way of establishing absolutely that a loan that appeared to be above board and completely bona fide was not in fact as described. In other words, money put into a company for the purpose of securing naturalisation and then subsequently withdrawn with limited or no benefit to the company when naturalisation had not been granted. My Department simply does not have the follow up mechanism to check on each and every one of these investments and, although, I had no specific reason to believe — in the sense that I was not aware of any particular case — that something had gone or was going astray — I thought it prudent to introduce a system whereby other Departments with access  to relevant information would have a direct say in relation to granting these applications.
On my recommendation the Government agreed last April to set up a committee consisting of representatives of my Department, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Enterprise and Employment, the Department of Finance — and the Industrial Development Authority, which will have the function of examining each of these applications and making recommendations on them to the Minister for Justice. When that decision was taken, I immediately sought nominations from those concerned for the new committee and I have since obtained them.
Although I do not, as I say, have information which would suggest that matters had or have gone wrong in relation to this particular category of naturalisation applications, I will certainly be glad to investigate any complaints brought to my notice. If it becomes apparent that any individual or group of individuals have knowingly provided false information about investments for the purpose of supporting their naturalisation applications, then I will have no hesitation in taking whatever action is necessary to deprive them of the very considerable and valid status of Irish citizenship.
I have taken other steps also in the whole area of naturalisation and citizenship. Deputies will recall that quite recently the Oireachtas enacted the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act. That Act remedied a situation which had emerged a few years ago which led to the unacceptable position that some thousands of people who had applied for citizenship in due time and in compliance with the relevant law could not be granted it because their applications had not been processed by the relevant authorities within the time limit imposed by the previous Irish Citizenship and Nationality Act, 1986.
When that problem — which had existed for some time — was brought to my attention I did not sit upon it. I acted to remedy the problem by bringing before the Oireachtas the necessary  amending legislation. As a result of the enactment of that legislation the way was opened for some 4,000 persons, who had fully complied with the law and who had been deprived of their statutory rights by the inability of the relevant authorities to deal with their applications in time, to acquire the citizenship to which, under the law, they had proved themselves entitled. The enactment of that legislation was welcomed by Deputies from all sides of the House.
With regard to refugees and asylum seekers Deputies will be aware the Programme for a Partnership Government contains the following statement:
Our policy towards treatment of refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants will meet the highest international standards. Procedures will be introduced to guarantee rights of hearings, appeal, access to legal advice and access to the Courts.
In May last year the Government appointed an interdepartmental committee of senior officials to examine policy and practices with regard to non-Irish persons who are resident in the State and in the area of persons who apply for refugee status. Last November the committee presented an interim report dealing with applications for refugee status and that report has been published.
My Department drafted a general scheme of a Bill taking account of the recommendations in the interdepartmental committee's interim report. The Government, having considered the proposals, gave formal approval on 1 March last for the drafting of a Bill.
The Refugee Bill will give effect in our domestic law to the provisions of the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol relating to the status of refugees. It will provide for a statutory basis for examining applications and there will also be an appeal procedure.
The Bill will be major legislation and will bring our law, practice and procedure in relation to asylum seekers into line with the best practices in other countries. The Bill will ensure that all applications  for refugee status will be examined by an independent body and that there will be an appeals mechanism operated by a second independent body. The Bill will also ensure that the system for examining refugee application will be transparent and that applicants will be given all possible reasonable assistance in framing their cases. There will be legal provision that they are told of their rights to seek asylum, of their right of access to legal advice and to the use of an interpreter.
The Bill will also recognise the role played by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees dealing with application for refugee status. In this context I would like to place on record my appreciation of the advice and assistance given by the office of the High Commissioner dealing with applications currently and also, in particular, in giving advice on matters to be covered in the proposed Bill.
It is my intention that the Bill will be introduced as soon as possible and when the work on the drafting of the Bill has been completed I will arrange for its immediate publication.
I should remind the House that the terms of reference of the interdepartmental committee extends beyond the area of refugee and asylum seekers. The full terms of reference of the committee are as follows: to examine and restate present policy and practice in relation to the admission to, residence and right of work in the State of EU and non-EU nationals from the point of view of general aims of policy, clarity, consistency, efficiency of application and appeals mechanisms; to examine, in particular, the transparency and efficiency of arrangements which exist for dealing with special categories of immigrant e.g. asylum seekers and refugees; to make such recommendations as are necessary for the development of a system of treatment of immigrants which is consistent and transparent, having due regard to the commitment in respect of refugees and asylum seekers which is contained in the Programme for Government and to make recommendations on the most feasible way of dealing with the problem of immigrants  who have illegally resided in the State for considerable periods of time.
The interdepartmental committee is continuing its work. As soon as it publishes reports or makes further recommendations to me I will study them and act on them as soon as possible in each case.
I have responded at some length to this motion, because I believe that extremely serious damage may be done to job creation prospects in this country, that serious injury may be done to the privacy rights of individuals if the kind of wild speculation which has been let loose in recent days concerning our naturalisation law and practice is not brought in check by means——
Mr. M. McDowell: Not a mention of C & D Foods.
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: ——of a full and frank confrontation with the actual facts. I feel sure that nobody in this House wants to produce results of this kind however tempting it may be now and then to take a flier in the run-up to an election and proceed to claw up what looked like a gold nugget but turns out to be nothing but brass.
Mrs. Owen: So well Deputies opposite might clap.
Mr. J. Bruton: The first matter I wish to raise——
Mr. J. Bruton: Are Deputies ready now?
Mr. Andrews: I am not ready.
An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Bruton, without interruption.
Mr. J. Bruton: The first matter I wish to raise are the menaces made by the Minister in the course of her speech where she said implicitly she had access to secret files, which she has as Minister,  and that any Member who dared to make allegations might have those used against them in some fashion that would compromise them. That is a breach of privilege. It is an attempt to curtail the freedom of Members to ask relevant questions if a Minister is essentially menacing the Opposition saying: do not ask awkward questions about these matters because we have information on file which might be embarrassing to you or to some of your colleagues. That is a breach of privilege.
An Ceann Comhairle: If the Deputy feels there is a breach of privilege he is free to bring the matter to the Committee on Procedure and Privileges.
Mr. Rabbitte: It is a political response.
Mr. J. Bruton: I would have expected the Chair to curtail it but he did not do so. I will leave it at that.
There are five problems with the scheme. First, no one is accountable to the public for any of these decisions, and that is bad. Secondly, there are no published rules governing the issuing of these passports. Decisions made which are of financial importance and discriminate between one individual and another should be made in accordance with rules, and there are no published rules in this case. Thirdly, the decisions appear to be made by Ministers acting alone. That is wrong. Ministers are politicians and are subject to all the pressures politicians are subject to, including the necessity to raise funds for elections. If decisions of this kind are taken by Ministers there should be an independent oversight of those decisions on a post hoc basis to ensure they were made at arm's length without fear or favour.
Fourthly, there is no appeals procedure against decisions taken. One person could have their application for naturalisation granted and another could be refused. As there is no one to whom they can appeal there is no case law underlying the appropriate reasons for refusing or granting an application. The existence of an appeals procedure leads  to the establishment of case law and clear rules that people understand. As there is no case law or appeals procedure, there is complete discretion and decisions can be taken without the need for transparency.
Finally, there is no requirement for people to live here. The Minister referred to this matter here on 9 March — column 342 of the Official Report —
If a foreign national is prepared to be associated with Ireland by making a substantial financial investment, purchasing a home and living here, he or she should be considered for naturalisation by my Department.
Did the applicant in this case purchase a home here?
The Minister said she is setting up a committee, representative of a number of Departments, to assist her in making such decisions. She mentioned Departments which presumably would have some expertise in these matters. However, that seems to be only in relation to the making of the original decision. There does not seem to be any procedure to ensure that if money is invested in this country in order to buy a passport it stays here. The committee to which the Minister referred does not seem to have power to ensure the money is not recycled out of the country through a bank account once the passport has been obtained, with a brokerage fee having been paid to someone along the way. No such follow up procedure seems to exist.
The Minister said the managing director of a consultancy firm made an application on behalf of C & D Foods Ltd. What consultancy firm was involved? Does it specialise in passport applications? The consultancy firm submitted the application through the Minister for the Environment. Why? What has the Minister for the Environment to do with the matter? This firm is not in north Tipperary and had nothing to do with the Minister in his capacity as a constituency Deputy. Why was he chosen to process this application? That is not explained.
I note the investors in question made  a declaration of fidelity to the nation. That seems to be above board. As regards the investment in C & D Foods Ltd, did the investors receive shares in the company? If not, how could this be described as an investment? Do they have representation on the board of the company? If not, how do they protect their investment? If they do not have shares or are not directors, is it a genuine investment? Were fees paid to any brokers in regard to the passport application, in other words, is it the case that there is profit to be made in facilitating a passport application? If that is the case, is it desirable?
Did the IDA recommend these investors in the case of C & D Foods Ltd? Did C & D Foods Ltd. go to the IDA or just directly to the Minister, Deputy Smith? If they did not get the IDA to vet and approve this application for a passport, why did they not do so? Why are the accounts of C & D Foods Ltd. not up to date in the Companies Office? Do the accounts show the investment by the two Arab gentlemen and, if not, why not? Is there any connection between this investment and the money lent to C & D Foods Ltd. by Fóir Teoranta before it was wound up? If not, why not?
Did the Taoiseach know this application was being made given that his spouse is a director of the company and his son is managing director? Did he make any informal representations about this matter at any stage? Does he maintain any ongoing contact with the affairs of the company? Does he stand to benefit in any way from this investment? These questions need to be answered. It is impossible to draw any conclusions, favourable or unfavourable, on this matter until we have the answers.
Mr. Andrews: Outrageous allegations.
Mr. J. Bruton: I have asked questions which the Minister——
Mr. Andrews: They are outrageous. The Deputy has brought this House into disrepute. He cannot touch the Taoiseach's reputation.
Mr. J. Bruton: ——had every reason to anticipate would be asked but for some reason she chose not to answer them in her introductory remarks. I have no doubt that others will have an opportunity to make any comments they wish.
Mr. Andrews: The Deputy is so wrong.
An Ceann Comhairle: Let us hear Deputy Bruton without interruption.
Mr. Andrews: The Deputy is unfair and unjust.
Mr. J. Bruton: The Minister said she had the files and was able to look at applications made by Members and if they or their secretary wrote a letter which might compromise them she was ready to produce the goods.
I want to say openly that when I was Minister for Industry and Commerce I wrote to the then Minister for Justice suggesting that there should be a facility of the kind we have for the granting of passports to those who invest in Ireland. I made this suggestion because during a visit to Hong Kong as Minister for Industry and Commerce I was told that there were substantial investors who would be willing to invest in this country — some of them subsequently invested here — and would be interested in obtaining Irish passports. I have no fear about the publication of anything relating to this by anybody if it is in any way helpful to the Minister.
Mr. L. Fitzgerald: In that case, why did the Deputy call on the Minister——
Mr. J. Bruton: I wish to make it clear that I had no interest in any of the companies concerned. As the House will soon discover I have no interest in any companies whatsoever; my sole interests are agricultural. The House will not be able to find anything of interest in regard to anything concerning me.
Mr. Andrews: That is understandable.
Mr. J. Bruton: Any representations I made in this matter were entirely above board in terms of my functions as a Minister — I believed jobs could be obtained as a result of the representations I made. In case anyone wants to put a construction on this, I want to make my position clearly known. I am sure other members of my party made similar representations.
We are concerned about a particular case. In the past very clear rules were drawn up about the appropriate involvement by Ministers with companies, including companies with which they were previously associated. The questions I have asked ought to be asked, and I am fairly confident that reasonable answers will be provided to most if not all of them.
A Deputy: That is a change.
Mr. J. Bruton: It is no change at all, Deputy Callely.
Mr. Callely: It was not me who made the remark.
Mrs. Owen: They all sound the same.
An Ceann Comhairle: There is a time limit attached to this debate and interruptions are particularly unwelcome, if not disorderly.
Mr. Callely: I think Deputy Bruton wants to apologise.
An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Bruton without interruption.
Mr. J. Bruton: On coming to office the Taoiseach made much of the fact that he was the first Taoiseach to make known to the public all his financial affairs, including his interests in a cinema in Longford and other very interesting and, I have no doubt, extremely remunerative investments——
The Taoiseach: Not all, some of them.
Mr. J. Bruton: I have no doubt, therefore, that he will have no problem answering in full and without prevarication all of the questions I have posed in this debate.
Mr. Andrews: Is that a threat?
Mr. J. Bruton: If those answers are not complete or if the Taoiseach is unable for some reason to give complete answers to all of the questions I have posed it is appropriate that there should be an independent investigation of this case by the independent body now being proposed by the Government to deal with the ethics of Members of this House.
Mr. M. McDowell: Rarely have I heard a ministerial speech with such a tone of menace and venom as that which has just been delivered to the House. It contained an implied threat that if decent standards are vindicated in this House people will be embarrassed. This is the threat I am supposed to be deflected by on this occasion, but I am not deflected in the slightest by it. The Minister can publish whatever she likes and make known any detail she likes about my party or about any other Member of this House but I will not be deflected from vindicating decent standards of politics. I am aware that the Minister's Department has put people in the press corps in possession of material with which to blacken some Members of this House.
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: That is outrageous.
Mr. M. McDowell: It is true.
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: It is not true.
Mr. Andrews: The Deputy should withdraw that remark.
Mr. M. McDowell: I am not going to be intimidated in any way by leaks to the press or by threats made in this House. I will speak my mind, and I believe that what I have to say will reflect some degree of reality on the role played in this matter  by the Minister, the Taoiseach, the former Minister for Justice, Mr. Padraig Flynn, now an EU Commissioner, and the Minister for the Environment, Deputy Michael Smith.
An Ceann Comhairle: I am sure the Deputy will agree that we should be very careful not to impugn the character or integrity of any Member of this House or any person outside this House.
Proinsias De Rossa: That should apply to both sides.
Mr. M. McDowell: When on 26 April I asked the Minister whether any investment had been made under this scheme in family firms in which members of the Government had at that time or recently had an interest it was disallowed——
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: Not by me.
Mr. M. McDowell: ——on the basis which I now accept, and am happy to do so, that it contained a personal imputation.
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: Not as set out by me.
Mr. M. McDowell: When on the same day I asked the Minister to give details of the investment made by the people concerned she completely ignored the issue in the reply she tendered. All this material is available to the House and will be available afterwards to anyone who may wish to see it.
Curiously the Minister said that a man was denied citizenship even though he was the owner of the house in which he and his wife and son resided in Dublin and that he was required to make a further investment before he would be considered for naturalisation. How low can one go? How can one say that this man's wife and his son are eligible for naturalisation as Irish citizens but that the man who owns the house in which they are supposed to reside must pay more money before he can become a naturalised Irishman? The Minister should be  ashamed of herself. This is not a defence; rather it compounds the low standards being applied by her Department. I notice that the Taoiseach is smiling.
The Taoiseach: I surely am.
Mr. M. McDowell: Throughout all of this there has been a web of deceit in terms of the way the public has been told about these events. Last Sunday on television the Minister for Justice told the nation that this investment was made in 1990. Unfortunately, that was untrue. We now know from the financial controller of the Taoiseach's family firm that the investment was made in 1992, after the Taoiseach was appointed. The Minister for Justice reiterated that this matter was not dealt with in Cabinet. However, when one looks carefully at the script it is clear that this matter was discussed in Cabinet——
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: No.
Mr. M. McDowell: ——because she refuses point blank to say that the then Minister, Padraig Flynn was wrong and the matter was not discussed in Cabinet. She referred to informal discussions, but I say that this matter was raised in the presence of the Taoiseach.
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: That is not true.
Mr. M. McDowell: My next point relates to the Taoiseach's public assertions on this matter. He has asserted that he has had nothing to do with C & D Foods Limited for 14 years. This is not true. Reference has been made to Fóir Teoranta and the assistance given by that concern to this company. In 1986 the Taoiseach was represented to Fóir Teoranta as being, with his wife, the proprietor of the entire shareholding in the company. As the Taoiseach knows well, during the same year he was in negotiation with British supermarket firms to carry the products of that company. He knows that this is the case and that people  have been actively and deliberately misled by being given a completely different view of the realities on this occasion.
I make no secret of the fact that my Bill proposes to bring to public attention a major abuse of citizenship and naturalisation by certain members of the Government, and I make no apology for doing so. I am not, to use the Taoiseach's words, playing politics.
The Taoiseach: That is what the Deputy is doing.
Mr. M. McDowell: Rather I am trying to establish and vindicate basic political standards which are obviously absent in the Government and which even the recently published Ethics in Public Office Bill does not even attempt to address.
Acquisition and loss of Irish citizenship, under the Constitution, are entrusted to the Oireachtas for legislation. In turn we have delegated significant functions in this respect to successive Ministers for Justice. Under section 15 and 16 of the Irish Citizenship and Nationality Act, 1956, as amended, the Minister for Justice of the day is given wide discretion, in certain circumstances, to confer citizenship on people who have Irish associations. Nobody in this country opposes the granting of citizenship to foreigners under a genuine, above board, business migration scheme where there is transparency and accountability. If any one wants to establish or join an Irish business, to create jobs in the process, to live here as part of our political and economic community and, within that context, to assume the obligations and duties of an Irish citizen, including the right to vote at elections, there should be a mechanism to enable that to happen.
This Bill does not prejudice the operation of a proper business migration scheme. In the context of those beliefs I tabled questions to the Minister but was denied straightforward and truthful answers. I have since come into possession of a document prepared in the Department of Enterprise and Employment in September 1993 which summarises the position in relation to  citizenship in return for investment. Again I will make a copy of that document available to any Member or any other person who wants to see it.
Mr. Andrews: The Deputy can keep it.
Mr. M. McDowell: It makes it very clear that the Department of Enterprise and Employment is wholly opposed to the notion of giving people who make financial investments, as opposed to entrepreneurs, any citizenship in this State. Second, it makes it very clear that the interdepartmental group of which the Minister spoke issued an invitation to one of the consultants-intermediaries we have just heard about to address that group on the method by which foreign people could obtain Irish citizenship and that this was the cause of major dissatisfaction within the Department of Enterprise and Employment.
The Department of Justice's statement of intent, as set out in that document, and the conditions laid down for granting Irish nationality and citizenship to people proposing to make an investment in this country have been totally flouted in the case of the Masris to whom the Minister referred. There has not been even an attempt to establish, first, that there was residence in this country for two years; second, that there was any intention to bona fide reside in this country and, third, that there was any intention to make a genuine business investment in the sense that most normal people would consider that term to mean something.
We know now that the loan made to the Taoiseach's firm was not an investment in share capital and we know, that like every other loan, in the last analysis it can either be brokered through a third party or, alternatively, repaid. That is not what successive Governments regarded as the appropriate method of investing in this country for people who wanted to come here as business migrants. Nor is it suggested for one moment that the people in question — whom we now hear are the son and wife of the person in question — intended to  make Ireland their place of residence, to become part of our political and economic community. There was never a hint of that, there still is not, and the Minister knows well that that is so.
Then there is the position of the Minister for the Environment, Deputy Smith. As Deputy John Bruton said, the reason he was selected to act as an advocate at the highest level of this application for citizenship is obscure. However, it is relevant to point out, in the context, that the Minister for the Environment represented to the Department of Justice that he was prepared to support the application for citizenship from: “personal knowledge of an intimate acquaintance with the man in question and to vouch for his good character.” I challenge whether that was anything other than a gross deception of the Department of Justice. I suggest that he was introduced to this man by a consultant, with whom he had no personal connection except in this context, that he had had no personal dealings with this man. I challenge the Minister for the Environment to come into this House and state clearly when he first met Mr. Masri, in what context he met him and what dealings he had with him.
An Ceann Comhairle: Let us avoid references to persons outside this House.
Mr. M. McDowell: What dealings had he with this gentleman? Why did he have dealings with him? Were they economic or purely social dealings? A Minister who makes a representation to the Department of Justice, by way of reference, that he is an intimate acquaintance of a person, cannot stand up in this House and say that he was introduced by a citizenship broker as part of a deal to get that person naturalised in Ireland. That is what happened in this case and the Minister knows it well. He also knows that the representations made by the Minister for the Environment to her Department grossly exaggerated any knowledge he had of this person and were designed to prevent the Department from conducting a searching examination  into the person's background; that is what they were for; they were designed to have that effect.
I come then to a point which the Minister, in all the bluster, threat and menace contained in her remarks, deliberately ignored, that unlike any other case in which an application for citizenship has been made in this State, on this occasion, £1.1 million have been invested in a family business of a member of the Cabinet and, as we now know, the Taoiseach. When I asked if that could be the case the Chair suggested that it would be a personal imputation even to ask it. Now we know it is true. We know that this Government——
An Ceann Comhairle: We know, Deputy, that if serious charges are to be made against any Member of this House or outside it, it can only be done by way of substantive motion.
Mr. M. McDowell: They are confirmed. We now know that standards of political behaviour have reached the point at which a Taoiseach of the day can stand up in public and accuse somebody else of playing politics when that person makes a simple point that it is wrong, and manifestly wrong, that his own private, family firm received £1.1 million——
An Ceann Comhairle: References to persons outside this House, or the naming of families is something which should not be condoned.
Mr. M. McDowell: ——in return for granting citizenship to the wife and son of a man to whom the Minister still will not grant citizenship because he will not pay up some more.
An Ceann Comhairle: There is a long standing convention in this House, Deputy, that we do not offer to persons or families outside the House——
Mr. Molloy: That is what it is all about.
Mr. M. McDowell: There is a long  standing convention perhaps in this House that it is necessary to refer to families in the circumstances in which I am doing so.
Mr. M. McDowell: Surely there is a long standing convention in Irish politics that a Taoiseach was never part of a Government that gave out citizenship in return for investment of £1.1 million——
An Ceann Comhairle: My predecessors have so ruled and I stand by that ruling.
Mr. M. McDowell: ——in a firm with which he himself is intimately connected and which is his family fortune. I suggest to you, a Cheann Comhairle, that a long standing convention of that kind, to exclude references to families, is prefectly defensible except when we are discussing the family activities of one member of Government.
Mr. Molloy: The Deputy is exposing a scandal.
Mr. M. McDowell: This is a scandal and I refuse to be muzzled or told that convention makes it impolite to refer to the basic truth.
An Ceann Comhairle: This is not a court of law, Deputy.
Mr. M. McDowell: I know it is not. I can tell you one thing, if it were, there would be a very different result.
An Ceann Comhairle: I will proceed by the rules and conventions of this House, nothing more. I am not concerned about what transpires outside.
Mr. J. Bruton: On a point of order, Sir, there are many examples of Members in this House referring to people outside it. I could produce numerous examples  from that side of the House but I do not think it proper to interfere.
An Ceann Comhairle: The longstanding convention is that references should not be made to persons outside the House, nor should they be referred to in a manner so as to be identifiable.
Mr. M. McDowell: Lest I be misunderstood, I am referring to the Taoiseach. His family firm was enriched by £1.1 million in exchange for citizenship. That is not a reference to a person outside this House; that is a reference to the man over there.
An Ceann Comhairle: If such charges are to be made they should be made by way of substantive motion and not by way of innuendo or otherwise across the floor of this House.
Mr. Molloy: What are the people opposite so worried about? The truth is coming out now.
Mr. M. McDowell: I will not be deflected by your ruling. It is an insult to people's intelligence that members of this Government are asking us to accept that the financial controller of C & D Foods Limited, out of the blue, should receive in September 1991 a proposal to lend £1.1 million to his company by a man with whom the company had no previous connection of any kind. I find it incredible that we are asked to accept that he and all those involved did not realise this person was being introduced for the purpose of getting flag of convenience citizenship. It is also incredible that the Taoiseach would not have been informed or have become aware of this loan in March 1992  or earlier. I suggest he would also have immediately realised that the motive of the intermediary and the lender was to obtain Irish citizenship for the lender; that the Minister for the Environment, a long time friend and associate of the Taoiseach, could write to the Minister for Justice to the effect that he could vouch for the lender from personal knowledge and intimate acquaintance with him while the Taoiseach claims he has never laid eyes on this man. I find that fantastic and incredible.
The Taoiseach: It is absolutely true, and if the Deputy does not want to believe it——
Mr. M. McDowell: It may be that the Taoiseach has never seen this man but the Minister for the Environment, Deputy Smith, is certainly no intimate acquaintance of his and the Taoiseach knows that quite well. I also find it incredible that the issue of citizenship would arise nine months after the loan which, according to all those involved in the loan transaction, had nothing to do with it and was never discussed. I also find it incredible that it should be suggested it is simply coincidence that the matter was dealt with by members of the Government when they were acting as caretakers, having resigned their seals of office in the interregnum between one Government and another. I do not accept it was a coincidence or that most people in Ireland could possibly view it as such. This is not a court of law but if there was a jury it would not even retire to consider its verdict on those points.
The Minister for Justice cast doubts on Commissioner Flynn's assertion that the matter was dealt with by Cabinet. The Taoiseach has been prevaricating as to precisely to whom he mentioned it and who mentioned it to him. The Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Deputy Eithne Fitzgerald, has publicly relied on Commissioner Flynn's assertion that it was dealt with at Cabinet, in debate with me on the radio yesterday. Who is telling the truth? The Minister for Justice also asserted on television that  the loan had gone through before Deputy Reynolds became Taoiseach. We now know that assertion was wrong. Why did she make that assertion? Who put her up to it? Who fed her false information and put her in front of the cameras to give the people such a misleading account? Are we to accept that the Taoiseach was kept in the dark throughout 1992 about the naturalisation proposal? Are we to believe — and I ask this in all seriousness —that this country has descended to such depths that a son and a wife of a man who live in a flat owned by him, which apparently is not used by any of them in this country, would be accepted for citizenship because they put £1.1 million into the Taoiseach's family firm? The man himself would be told: “You do not qualify, hold me up another £1 million and then we will see if we can deal with you”. What kind of squalid little banana republic with a Papa Doc Duvalier regime have we when that is the kind of deal we do? We say: “Put up your money and we will give you more and, sorry, we will not give you citizenship even though your spouse can have it”.
I wish to refer to one final point, that is, the “due diligence” which we are told was carried out into the investor. In the newspapers last weekend the spin doctors had their day. We were told that the person who was investing in this country was a millionaire, a trillionaire, but he still cannot come up with the money to buy his own citizenship, he has only managed instalments for his wife and son. What due diligence was carried out into the reference in the newspaper to his banking relatives in Jordan? If an investigation had been carried out it would have been discovered that the man referred to was a former Jordanian Cabinet Minister and head of the Arab bank there, a Mr. Rashid Al Masri. That man was found by an American security and exchange commission report to have recently accepted a bribe of $2.4 million. I ask that this House go back to the basic issue. The Taoiseach received into his family firm £1.1 million in exchange for two passports for the son and wife of a  person from whom they want more money before they will allow him become a citizen of this country. They have a flat in Dublin but have never been resident in this country.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Deputy will have to conclude.
Mr. M. McDowell: We are told that this man will only be admitted for Irish citizenship if he can come up with sufficient money to cover himself. That is a shameful day in politics and the Taoiseach's role in this is shameful. I am calling on him and the Minister for Justice, Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn to resign their seats before they bring more shame on this country.
Mr. Molloy: They are disgrace to the nation.
Mr. Rabbitte: I move amendment No. 1:
To delete all words after “Dáil Éireann” and substitute the following:
“—expresses its serious concern at the operation of the Business Investment Scheme which has enabled wealthy foreign investors to by-pass normal procedures and effectively purchase Irish passports and acquire Irish citizenship simply by virtue of their wealth;
—expresses particular concern at the circumstances in which passports were issued to two investors in the family firm of An Taoiseach and calls for a full disclosure of all of the circumstances in which these passports were issued;
—and, while accepting that Irish citizenship should be available to foreign investors who genuinely wish to promote economic development and take up residence in Ireland, believes that the naturalisation process should be applied equally and fairly to all applicants irrespective of wealth and accordingly instructs the Dáil Committee on Legislation and  Security to undertake a full review of the Business Investment Scheme and to make recommendations as to appropriate reforms.”
The Minister for Justice, Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn, finished her script with the remarks that there are Members of the House who thought they had dug out what looked like a gold nugget which turned out to be nothing but brass. The Minister for Justice has a brass neck in attempting to come into this House and present this scheme as if it was something known to the public. It is not known to the public. I have a document here that I want to read into the record of the House because some concession has been given to the notion of this kind of business investment scheme. A valid argument can be advanced for such an investment scheme but not the kind of investment scheme we have here and certainly not the manner in which it is implemented in this jurisdiction. This document was given to me today and has been circulated by an international lawyer seeking investors under the existing business investment scheme. Such is the obsessive secrecy surrounding the scheme that in this memo the country involved is referred to, all the way through, as Greenland, although there is no doubt to which country it refers. The document reads:
Greenland is an English speaking common law country with a residency system of taxation. It is a neutral state and is not a member of NATO, although it does provide men and materials for UN peace-keeping operation in Lebanon. It is a full member of the European Union (formerly the European Economic Community) and its citizens have therefore complete freedom to live and work anywhere within Europe.
This project offers naturalisation to an investor, his wife and minor children, in return for an “approved investment” of £500K in local currency a risk capital in a specified local enterprise. The project is so structured that  it is for the Government's economic advisers, and not the investor, to source and select a suitable investment that conforms to the Government's job creation criteria. Furthermore the £500K will be invested in its entirety and no amount will be sidetracked by way of commissions and fees to third parties.
There is an agreement in principle to preserve the anonymity of the investor and therefore the approved investment can be made by his own (offshore) company incorporated for that specific purpose and whose beneficial owners (as opposed to legal shareholders) need not be a matter of public record.
The political sensitivity of this project is enormous and a high degree of confidentiality is therefore essential...
Applications from individual investors will not be considered and we are at present getting together the next group of four investors who we are calling — Project...
An investor of Chinese origin or from the Indian sub-continent is not acceptable. An investor of Middle East origins might be acceptable provided he/she was already legally resident in a developed country. Nor, for political reasons, will the Government consider any investor from another European Union country.
Mr. Callely: Is that a private advertisement?
Mr. Rabbitte: This is out of the Deputy's league, just stay quiet for a moment.
As well as completion of a simple application form, and the execution of a declaration of allegiance, each investor will be required to provide the following documentation:
Birth certificate of himself, his wife and minor children, marriage certificate, notarised copies of the existing passports of himself, his wife  and children, confirmation of the deposit of £500K.
An offshore shelf company will be purchased which will open an account with a specified local bank. We will retain shareholder and directorial control of that company at all times. The investor will transfer to that company's new account (anonymously) if he wishes £500K.
The Investor will transfer to that company's new account (anonymously if he wishes) £500k... We will then deliver photocopies (not originals) of the documentation requested. Shortly thereafter the Investor should receive a letter confirming his application is acceptable and requesting him and his wife to attend court to make a declaration of allegiance and to submit his original documentation. The Investor and his wife will then have to come to Greenland to each sign an original application form in the presence of a Greenland notary and to make the required declaration of allegiance. This can all be accomplished in a one day visit. Approximately 21 days later we will receive a photocopy (not original) of the naturalisation certificate of the Investor, his wife and children. We will check these photocopies against our records to ensure they are correct. ...Once the entire transaction has been completed and documentation (naturalisation certificates and passports) has been issued to the satisfaction of the Investor, the Investor will have no further personal liability associated with the enterprise into which his investment has been made, nor will he have any fiscal liability within the State.... Our fee will be £25,000 for each Investor and payable in advance; although we will undertake, should citizenship be refused, to return this fee less any properly recorded expenses, including the incorporation and winding up of the client's offshore investment company.
Mr. Spring: Where is that from?
Mr. Rabbitte: Is this the same scheme that has been defended during the past few days by the Taoiseach and by the Minister for Justice in the House today as a legitimate business scheme? This scheme with its coded memos, anonymous investors, offshore companies and guarantees of exemption from fiscal liability sounds more like a money laundering operation than a legitimate investment scheme. The racist overtones——
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Order, please.
Mr. L. Fitzgerald: The Deputy is in a glasshouse and he should not throw stones.
Mr. Rabbitte: I am aware that the Deputies got their break when the Taoiseach came to power but they did not get too far. I especially object to the racist overtones, the reference to the Chinese and Indian subcontinent as not being acceptable.
Mr. Byrne: Russian.
Mr. Molloy: The Deputies should keep the lid on; they do not know what is going on.
Mr. L. Fitzgerald: Deputy Molloy has a monopoly of wisdom.
Mr. J. Bruton: The party is over.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Deputy Rabbitte is in possession and he should be allowed to continue without interruption.
Mr. Molloy: The Deputies do not have a clue about what is going on.
Mr. Byrne: What about Deputy Cox?
Mr. Callely: They did not tell Martin anything.
Mr. Rabbitte: This House and the public are being asked to believe that an Arab businessman sought out an investment project in Ireland and settled on a project in Longford which happens to be in the ownership of the family of the Taoiseach; that this Arab and his mother were subsequently granted Irish passports, that these events are unconnected and merely a coincidence. The Taoiseach came to power when he acted in concert with Ministers Flynn, Smith and Geoghegan-Quinn. Together this so-called gang of four succeeded where so many others before them had failed — they successfully toppled the then Taoiseach, Charles J. Haughey. All four are implicated in the passports for sale affair. Perhaps this, too, is no more than a coincidence. It is perhaps another coincidence that a significant benefit was conferred on the family business of the Taoiseach on the decision of former Minister, Flynn, and on the recommendation of the Minister for the Environment, Deputy Smith.
According to Mr. Flynn in a statement in the Sunday Independent cases such as this involving job creation, or a jobs maintenance element, would have been discussed by Cabinet. Yet, in a statement issued on Sunday the Minister for Justice, Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn, said it would be unusual for such a case to come before the Cabinet. Which is it? Was there a job creation element? How much did the Cabinet know and what precisely was the involvement of the Minister for the Environment?
It now emerges that the Minister for the Environment gave the Masris a character reference to facilitate their citizenship application. I find this to be curious. When and how did the Minister meet the Masris or did he give them a reference unseen based on the colour of their money? After all, the Masris appear to be extremely elusive characters — now you see them, now you do not. The Taoiseach has claimed that he has never seen or met them.
I have noted that on a previous occasion the Minister for the Environment has taken to presenting himself  as a world weary monsignor. The case of his intimate knowledge of the Masris raises questions about whether this is the first time Rome has met Islam with such a happy outcome. As usual, the Tánaiste finds himself perched on the horns of a dilemma. His long awaited Ethics in Public Office Bill covers just about everything but the situation being debated in the House. We will no doubt shortly have the entertaining spectacle of the Tánaiste and his colleagues rushing to plug the ethical loopholes, but it is too late. Two years ago the Fianna Fáil horse and the Labour as combined to produce a governmental jennet and now that jennet has bolted with the Government's moral aspirations.
Passports Unlimited Incorporated is yet another murky chapter in a tale of shady cover-ups, a tale which included Goodman International, Telecom Éireann and Greencore, a tale which the people thought we had put behind us. The only difference is that while those cases were largely concerned with money and money men the present case involves citizenship and nationality and this strikes at the heart of our body politic.
Passports Unlimited Incorporated, also known as the business migration scheme or in its most recent incarnation, pet food for passports, is a squalid business providing a refuge for dubious individuals — Deputy McDowell has outlined for the House some of the background of the beneficiary in this case — whose only character reference is money. By selling what amounts to citizenships of convenience, Ireland is taking its place among the world's shadier nations, countries which dole out everything from passports to shipping flags and company registrations provided that the price is right but there is one significant difference between Irish citizenship and that of, say, Panama. By attaining Irish citizenship the holder automatically becomes a citizen of the European Union and £1 million is a small price to pay for such a coveted scrap of paper. One wonders how our European partners will view the operations of Passports Unlimited Incorporated.
 This motion addresses the citizenship granted in 1992 to an Arab gentleman and his mother — and the prospective award to Mr. Khaled Masri — two individuals of Palestinian origin who must be suffering from an identity crisis given that they already hold Saudi Arabian and Jordanian passports, as well as Irish passports, a privilege not allowed by this jurisdiction to any citizen of any member country of the European Union. If French nationals seek to acquire Irish citizenship they must first shed their French citizenship.
The citizenship laws provide for naturalisation at the Minister's discretion of those with Irish associations. Since last March when parties, including my own, sought to raise this matter it has become apparent that the term “Irish association” is infinitely expandable and functions as a handy catch all for various opaque dealings. A willingness to grant a soft loan of £1 million to a pet food company which, coincidentally, happens to be owned by the family of the Taoiseach, can scarcely be construed as an Irish association unless it is accompanied by a manifest desire on the part of the applicant to put down Irish roots and contribute on an ongoing basis to the economy. The pet food connection apart, these two individuals' Irish associations are tenuous in the extreme. I understand that Mr. Masri and his wife are based in London and that as recently as last year in an interview with Business Middle East Mr. Masri expressed his patriotic intentions to invest in the Palestinian homelands.
This affair gets more curious. According to the Minister, as quoted in The Irish Times yesterday, the procedure normally adopted in these cases is simple: companies in financial trouble or seeking to expand would be identified once the Government has received an approach from a potential investor and the IDA would then investigate the job creation potential of the investment. It would appear that this is perfectly straightforward and above board except that in the case of C & D Foods it did not work like that. It appears the IDA was not  involved. Instead, depending on which report one believes, Mr. Masri's investment was brokered by a bucket shop or he was struck by the sudden visions of crocks of gold to be made in the midlands. According to the first report the pet food for passports deal was brokered by what appears to be an ad hoc citizenship bucket shop run by a trio of Americans and Irish businessmen. It is undoubtedly a most lucrative brokerage as can be seen from some of those who have got in on the act.
To give a flavour of the scheme, I have read to the House a document from an international lawyer seeking potential investors. It is my understanding that the typical scheme involves three-quarters of the money advanced as a soft loan at a very preferential interest rate and the remaining quarter of the investment goes to purchase preferable shares which are redeemable within three to five years. In return, the company is required to set up a sinking fund to which money is paid on a regular basis so that the shares can be redeemed at the end of three to five years. The investor, however, must reside in this jurisdiction for a minimum of 60 days in a two-year period. That has not happened in this case and, as far as I am aware, neither is it happening in many other cases. The management of a large hotel in this city could tell us about this type of investor booking in for ten days over Christmas to claim entitlement to this scheme and the biggest task for the consultants is to find a race meeting or some other entertainment to which to take the investor over the ten days.
The Minister has come in here today and read to the House a script which does not deal with the obvious questions which arose as a result of this affair. I fail to understand — and the Minister has not explained — the conflict between herself and the former Minister, Pádraig Flynn, who said it would have been normal for this matter to come before Cabinet, but the Minister has said that is not the case and that the decision was made in 1990. We now know from the financial controller of the company that the decision  was made in March 1992, a short time after the Taoiseach took up office, and in the same month he recruited consultants for the beef tribunal, which is the subject of a separate inquiry in this House. An explanation has not been given for the involvement of the Minister for the Environment. He has chosen to absent himself from the House for this debate. Why did the Minister for the Environment have such an intimate knowledge about the Masri family, how could he vouch for their probity in the manner required by the legislation? We know nothing about that Minister in this regard. However, we know that there is a cabal of Ministers in this Cabinet who saw eye to eye, at least under the Kinsealy regime, and all four of them are involved. The decision was made by the former Minister, Pádraig Flynn on the recommendation of the Minister for the Environment, Deputy Smith, to the benefit of the family enterprise of the Taoiseach and the Minister for Justice, Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn, came in here trading on her well merited reputation of being a open and helpful Minister in most matters, and presented this matter as normal. This is anything but normal and the scheme is anything but acceptable.
This is extraordinary in the context of an experience I have had, and I am sure many other Members have had similar experiences. At precisely the same time as this matter was being considered by the former Minister, Pádraig Flynn, I was pleading with the Minister on the Adjournment of this House for recognition on behalf of an Iraqi gentleman in my constituency. Following the Gulf War this gentleman was told his entire family had been wiped out but he subsequently learned his 17 year old brother was alive in a camp on the Saudi border after he had responded to American leaflets to defect. The gentleman in question was a businessman in this city and offered to take in his brother at no expense to the State or even merely to take him out of the camp where he was living in deplorable conditions. I pleaded with the then Minister for Justice privately and on an Adjournment debate of this House and  the Department of Justice said what it normally does to the economically dispossessed, it ruled the matter out of order and said it could not be entertained for all sorts of reasons. The gentleman in question went to Mayo and camped on the doorstep of the then Minister for Justice and after some nine months eventually got a temporary exit visa which allowed his brother to be taken out of the camp.
With respect to the Tánaiste, members of the Labour Party have gone on radio talking about one law for the rich and another for the poor, as if something will be done about it. A different law is applied to people who are economically dispossessed and refugees who arrive into Shannon. In this case, we are asked to believe that the character reference of wealth is a matter of coincidence.
The scheme is open to corruption and potentially will create a conflict of interest for Ministers. Rather than coming in here with a blasé motion, the Minister and Government should address the scheme urgently so that there will not be potential conflicts of interests for Ministers and to ensure the scheme is not open to corruption.
Mr. M. McDowell: I wish to move my amendment.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: It is too late for the Deputy to do so.
Mr. M. McDowell: Does the Chair have discretion in that regard? Even if he did, he certainly would not exercise it in my favour.
Minister for Enterprise and Employment (Mr. Quinn): I want to respond to a number of the points that have been raised by Deputies and I am speaking as Minister for Enterprise and Employment. As Deputy Bruton and others who have had the honour to hold the post of Minister for Industry and Commerce will be aware, since the mid to late 1980s a scheme similar to that which operates in other OECD or European countries has been in operation here. It is my understanding  that when an application is received from the Department of Justice for such a business passport it is referred to the Department of Enterprise and Employment. In most cases, if not all, the IDA is asked to give an evaluation as to the quality and appropriateness of that type of investment and on its recommendations the Department, in turn, forwards its recommendations or comments to the Department of Justice where the final decision rests.
I recently defended a decision of the IDA in this House not to go ahead with a scheme in Kilkenny which promised to create more than 500 jobs because the terms and conditions which the IDA had set down in respect of granting taxpayers' money to that worthwhile investment in terms of jobs were not being adhered to. The House will recall that the conditions which the IDA sought to impose were standard conditions of compliance designed primarily to safeguard the duration and quality of the investment. I outline that case merely to indicate that the purpose of the scheme is to ensure that inward investment has the desirable objective — with which I am sure nobody would disagree — of achieving sustained employment in this economy. In fairness to Members who have spoken, that matter is not in dispute. Following the Maastricht Treaty and the establishment of the European Union, access to an Irish passport involves the question of European Union citizenship and the many rights and entitlements which that involves in the global market and world in which we live.
The IDA and I share a continuing desire to maximise the level of investment — from whatever source — into this country if the money invested will result in sustainable employment. Deputy Bruton made a measured contribution in that regard. It is the policy of the IDA and my Department to ensure that such investment is made on terms and conditions that are in accordance with established procedures which comply with sustainable employment. By definition, soft money wheeled in on a  Monday and out on a Friday would not qualify for that type of criteria.
If Deputy Rabbitte or anybody else can point to such kinds of investment in the past, notwithstanding any guarantees or undertakings that were made or commitments undertaken, and can provide such information I will bring it to the attention of the IDA and the consequential benefits and other grants that may have been given to the recipient of the investment will be considered because it would appear to have been in breach, as I understand it, of the terms and conditions of such investments.
I have spoken, as the Minister for Justice has already indicated, about my concern to ensure that there is a coherent and effective system of evaluation of such investments. As the Minister for Justice said in her contribution, in April of this year on her initiative following informal discussions she got the agreement of the Government to establish a committee consisting of representatives of the Departments of Justice, Foreign Affairs, Enterprise and Employment and Finance and IDA Ireland whose function will be the examination of each of the these applications and the making of recommendations to the Minister for Justice.
The terms of reference of the committee are as follows:
To examine and restate present policy and practice on the admission, residence and right of work in the State of EU and non-EU nationals from the point of view of the general aims of policy, clarity, consistency, efficiency of application and the appeals mechanism.
My Department is responsible for granting work permits, a function of the former Department of Labour. A substantial number of those work permits allow people the right of residence in the Republic of Ireland. As a consequence of living in the country for a certain period those people qualify, by virtue of their residency, to make an application for naturalisation. My concern in all of this, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, is to ensure that under the right conditions and the  right terms, subject to the evaluation of the IDA as conveyed by my Department of official level to the Department of Justice, a proposal for investment that would consequently qualify for Irish association and enable the Minister of the day in the Department of Justice to grant a passport is carried out on the highest and most stringent IDA criteria, the standard of which I have given tangible reference in respect of the most recent Kilkenny case.
Mrs. Owen: What has happened during the past week or so on this issue has totally discredited a policy of successive Governments that should be of benefit to this country. The Taoiseach's lack of candour and the efforts by the Minister for Justice during an interview on Sunday stretches credibility to its absolute limits — to expect the Irish public to believe that the Taoiseach would not know that an investment of £1 million was being made in his own firm, even though he lives with members of his family who are now the directors of that firm or that his wife, Mrs. Reynolds, would not have told him that it is proposed to invest £1 million in the business. I do not believe that the Taoiseach could not have known about this investment.
I wonder why the Minister for Enterprise and Employment, Deputy Quinn, contributed to the debate because he did not answer any of the questions that were raised by Deputy Bruton and others.
Mr. Molloy: Not one.
Mrs. Owen: Was the IDA consulted about C & D Pet Foods? We are not talking about the policy in general but about a specific case. Was the Department committed to this investment? Why were not these questions answered? Did the Minister bother to check the files before coming into the House. I thought the Minister would give us some information. Has C & D Pet Foods repaid the Fóir Teoranta loan to which Deputy Bruton referred? These are questions that must be asked.
When I look at Deputy Quinn and the  Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs on the benches opposite I realise it must be very difficult for them to listen to this debate because when in Opposition in November 1992 they came into this Chamber and protested that they could not participate with a party such as Fianna Fáil. The French put this best when they say plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose— the more things change, the more they stay the same. I hope the Labour Party in Government will ask themselves the same searching questions that have been asked here today. Will they stay in Government with a party they know they cannot trust any longer?
The timing of the issuing of these passports reminded me of the famous Baskin pipe which the Department of the Environment had refused to sanction for three years but during the honeymoon period of the then new Government in 1987 the then Minister for the Environment — by coincidence the former Deputy Flynn — sanctioned it under the instructions, I understand, of the then Taoiseach, the former Deputy Charles Haughey. There seems to be great similarities with this case today.
A few more questions need to be put. How many passports have been issued since this scheme was initiated? How many of those who were granted citizenship and received such passports now reside in Ireland? If they no longer reside here can the Minister for Justice tell us how long they resided in Ireland? In response to Deputy Bruton's question about the purchase of a residence, she said that a residence has been bought but she did not say whether the people had lived in it. What checks had been carried out on the relevant businesses since the investment was made? Were the total investments made in those companies? Since 1986 how many consultants have listed in their tax returns moneys earned from such consultancies?
Mr. J. Bruton: Hear, hear.
Mrs. Owen: What was the period of investment? I believe the Minister for Justice's lengthy reference to the Refugee  Bill, interesting though it was, was an attempt not to answer some of these questions and in some way throw dirt at the Opposition parties who had granted citizenship to people who had properly invested in this country. I thought the Minister for Justice would give a full list of instructions from the Department and from that of the Minister for Enterprise and Employment on how the scheme worked. I have a copy of the criteria for a similar scheme in the US. The criteria for establishing a new commercial enterprise are clearly laid down in legislation: the creation of an original business, the purchase of an existing business. It also says that substantial change means a 40 per cent increase in the net worth.
I understand that about 30 or 40 such applications have been granted during the Fianna Fáil Party's period in Government. Can the Minister confirm this? I understand also that very few companies here can take on the full investment of £1 million. Will the Minister confirm that the £1 million is grabbed, as it were, and invested and then that different Ministers decide on the disbursement of the moneys in some kind of largesse, in £100,000 moieties, for instance? In 1955, when this legislation was introduced, the then Deputy Stephen Barrett said, column 1008 of the Official Report, “We should in some way try to define `Irish associations', there is nothing in the definition section about it and I think it is a bit wide and that the House should not allow the Bill to become law without in some way defining for the Legislature and for the State ...” We should have taken heed of that at the time and this Government has not done so.
Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications (Mr. Cowen): The basis of this debate is in the 1986 Act, which amends the 1956 Act. It is unfortunate that some Members have not read it. Section 4 of the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1986, sets out the conditions for the issuing of a certificate of naturalisation. Section 5 of the 1986 Act deals with the power to dispense with  conditions of naturalisation in certain cases. One of the cases in which the Minister has absolute discretion to grant an application is where the applicant is of Irish descent or Irish association.
It is the question of Irish association which seems to have come in for some scrutiny, but what I would like the general public to consider when listening to this debate is the consistency of approach of successive Governments in issuing certificates of naturalisation which can under law be dispensed with under the 1986 Act. They should also consider the inconsistency of members of parties in Government at that time who never questioned it, who were happy not only with the consistency of the Government's approach, but sponsored and proposed applicants——
Mrs. Owen: None of those companies got it.
Mr. Cowen: I will come to that point in a moment. I did not interrupt the Deputy and I would ask the Deputy to sit back and not interrupt.
Mrs. Owen: I am dealing with facts.
Mr. Cowen: The point at issue at where is the inconsistency? Deputy McDowell asked questions about residency. Why did he not refer to the section under which the certificate was issued? Is it because, although a senior counsel, he cannot read the Act or, in his other capacity as a news journalist, he wishes to write a full page about the issue in next week's Sunday Independent or that, as a part-time politician, he wishes to confuse the issue?
Mr. Flanagan: The people want to know the truth.
Mr. Cowen: That Deputy would appear to have a split personality.
Mrs. Owen: He has been sent in to do a job.
Mr. Cowen: I assure him that his political  hatred of my philosophy is reciprocated. Under the law due process was adhered to and that is not questioned but there have been innuendoes. Deputy Rabbitte said he never heard of the scheme. I understand why he did not hear of it, since not a member of his party contributed to the debate when the Bill passed through the House. The only people who spoke on it were the former Minister, Nuala Fennell, and our former Opposition spokesperson, Deputy Woods. What problems or concerns were there when none was raised at that time?
Mr. Molloy: What is the relevance of the Deputy's contribution?
Mr. Cowen: The arch hyprocrite is in town today and sitting on the front bench opposite. He knows in his heart what he did and did not sponsor. He did not refuse to take this investment when the opportunity arose.
Mr. Molloy: What is the relevance of those comments?
Mr. Cowen: The Deputy is totally irrelevant, he has been irrelevant for sometime and he will know about it on 9 June. All that has changed since then is that there is a forthcoming election and the Progressive Democrats have a 3 per cent rating in the polls. That is the reality.
Mrs. Owen: That is nonsense.
Mr. Cowen: Deputy McDowell is a great spin doctor and one of the greatest Goebbels of Irish politics. He has a great opportunity to bring forward every type of semi-truth and half truth.
Mr. Molloy: That is pathetic.
Mr. Cowen: He is a past master at it. The only pathetic thing I see here is the Deputy and his party spread like chaff to the wind with O'Malley gutting for Cox at this stage. The Deputy's party is out of the running and this debate will not win it any votes, because due process has been adhered to. The Deputy's party was  in Government at the time. Every afternoon Deputy McDowell speaks he says he wants to restore decent standards to Irish life.
Ms. O'Donnell: Just like the Labour Party.
Mr. Cowen: If standards were so indecent, what did Deputy O'Malley's party do about it when it was in Government? There was no problem. He is seeking out scandal where none exists because he is good at doing that and he has a receptive audience who will listen.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Members should be addressed in accordance with the position they hold, namely, Deputy, Minister, etc.
Mr. Cowen: I apologise. Everybody knows this kind of scheme has worked in other countries and benefited people. Who can find fault with offering a welcoming hand to overseas investors who can provide much needed capital for the creation of jobs and enterprise? That has been the consistent approach of every Government, including those of which Deputy Molloy was a member. I ask the public to look at the inconsistency coming from that side of the House for naked political opportunism.
Mr. Cowen: I ask the two parties of free enterprise across the House if it is suggested that people who own a business, including members of those parties who become politicians, should work on a different level or to a different standard than others? Should the same rights not be available to them under this scheme as to the owners of other businesses? If that is the suggestion, it should be stated openly. It is that type of self-flagellation more than the innuendo raised by the party in this House that has brought public life into disrepute.
Mr. Cowen: I ask the people to look at the consistency of approach in the past. The Progressive Democrats did not raise questions about the matter either in Government or in Opposition. The elections on 9 June are fast approaching. We know what this debate is about but it will not work.
Mr. Currie: The Minister has missed the train.
Mr. Crawford: The volume is good but the content was not.
Mr. Cowen: The Deputies did not want to listen.
Mr. Molloy: When I joined the Coalition Government of the Progressive Democrats and Fianna Fáil I was informed by the then Taoiseach of the business investment scheme and how it operated. If people wished to make substantial investments in any of the projects related to the Department for which I had responsibility there were certain conditions under which naturalisation could be extended. So far as I recall, during my time as Minister for Energy there were two occasions where I met people who intended to invest in energy projects. I complied with the requirements of which I was informed by the then Taoiseach, Charles Haughey, that the people should reside in the country for a substantial period each year and own a residence; the investment has to be substantial and each case was to be brought to his notice so that he might adjudicate on it and pass the matter to the Minister for Justice. As a member of the Government I understood the scheme was controlled by the Taoiseach, to whom I brought parties. He discussed with them in great detail their investment and subsequently on two occasions made recommendations for granting naturalisation. I was astonished to hear that the present Taoiseach approved the granting of naturalisation to persons who had in the past made investments in his family company. We  have heard an extraordinary outburst from the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications, Deputy Cowen, which I consider is totally irrelevant. The point at issue is the propriety or otherwise of what the Taoiseach did, the standards people in Government apply to the decision making process, their fulfilment of the duty of the high office to which they have been elected and the trust they must hold on the part of the people.
Mr. Cowen: That is hypocritical.
Mr. Molloy: Where a Taoiseach or a member of a Government was in a position to influence a decision as important as this, one would have expected basic standards would have been adhered to in order to ensure this procedure would never apply to a company where there was an iota of association with a Minister.
It is extraordinary that the Labour Party has sat through this debate. The contribution from the Minister for Enterprise and Employment, Deputy Quinn, ignored the principle raised by the Progressive Democrats, Fine Gael and Deputy Rabbitte. It reflects sadly on the standards applied by those in control in Government at this time. They have reneged on the responsibilities of their office and on the trust put in them by the electorate. I call again for the resignation of the Taoiseach in view of the circumstances which have been confirmed during the debate and by statements in newspapers today. The Taoiseach cannot put his head down and ride this out. If the Labour Party is prepared to continue to support him in Government in the hope that this will be no more than a storm in a teacup, that it will blow over, and to pretend the Progressive Democrats are only raising this issue because of the forthcoming election, it is making a serious mistake. It is a sad day for Irish politics if the Labour Party continues to support the Fianna Fáil party and the Government led by the Taoiseach, Deputy Reynolds. During my years here there have been few occasions on which I have felt as upset by the blatant attempt  to cover up gross abuse of office by the Taoiseach of the day.
Mr. Cowen: That is unsubstantiated hypocrisy.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. M. Smith): I resent strongly Deputy McDowell's antics in recent days, particularly his attempt to cast a slur on my character and good name. It is hardly surprising that these allegations should be coming from the Progressive Democrats, a party which has long traded on innuendo and character assassination. Like many others, I had thought the Progressive Democrats had softened their sanctimonious tone.
Mrs. Owen: You would know about that, king of sanctimoniousness.
Mr. M. Smith: A situation no doubt brought about by their internal squabbling and party U-turns. Their lofty principles were abandoned when party interests were threatened. What we have is a party at war with itself whose only philosophy is based on being against but never for.
Deputy McDowell's attempt to hype up this issue during the European elections campaign is nothing but a desperate attempt by a desperate party racked by internal dissension to find something which would revive their flagging political fortunes. A measure of their political plight is the Progressive Democrat's alliance with Democratic Left. Deputy McDowell and Deputy Rabbitte are the new 1990s version of the odd couple.
Mrs. Owen: Tell us how well you know Mr. Masri.
Mr. M. Smith: A true measure of Deputy Rabbitte's confidence in his own party is the fact that the words “Democratic Left” are printed so small on his election posters as to be scarcely recognisable.  One must acknowledge that party's track record for creative printing.
Mrs. Doyle: Have you met Mr. Masri?
Mr. M. Smith: I have met Mr. Masri——
Mrs. Doyle: Do you know Mr. Masri intimately?
Mr. M. Smith: ——and he is a very reputable gentleman.
Mr. M. McDowell: How often has the Minister met him? Would he recognise him?
Mr. M. Smith: The Deputy is not in court now.
Mr. M. McDowell: The Minister is in the dock.
Mr. M. Smith: The Deputy is running, as usual, at half cock or without cocks altogether.
Mr. M. McDowell: How often have you met him? You lied to your fellow Ministers.
Mr. M. Smith: I have met Mr. Masri as I would any investor——
Mr. M. McDowell: How many times?
Mr. M. Smith: ——now or in the future where there was a prospect of obtaining extra investment which will lead to the retention of existing jobs and the creation of new jobs. I dealt with the matter in accordance with the normal procedures which apply to that scheme.
Mr. E. Kenny: Tell us about it?
Mr. M. Smith: I never knew where Mr. Masri's family made their investments.
Mr. E. Kenny: Or how they voted? Were you ever in Greenland?
Mr. M. Smith: These matters are normally handled by the IDA and the private  companies and I state categorically on my word or honour that I was never approached by the Taoiseach on this matter. No matter how long the Progressive Democrats try to make that mud stick they will stay a small party and stay in Opposition. The former Taoiseach, Mr. Haughey, aptly described the Progressive Democrats in this House.
Mr. M. McDowell: How may times did the Minister meet the Masris when he said he was intimately acquainted with them? Answer the question. You are a coward, a bloody-minded coward.
Mr. Cowen: You are an ignoramus of the highest order. The Deputy should shut up, he has had his say.
Mr. M. Smith: Is Deputy McDowell not aware that this scheme was in operation during the period when two of his colleagues were in Cabinet? Is he not aware that one of his colleagues wanted this scheme extended to investment in golf clubs? Listening to Deputy McDowell one would swear that we had no unemployment here——
Mr. M. McDowell: Did he own the golf club?
Mr. M. Smith: ——that the banks were prepared to give easy loans or that taxpayers could afford to pay more.
Mr. M. McDowell: How many times did you meet the Masris?
Mr. M. Smith: This was an industry that did not look to the taxpayer.
Mr. M. McDowell: Answer the question.
Mr. M. Smith: Longford is a difficult place in which to create and sustain jobs.
Mr. M. McDowell: The Minister is not going to get away with this lie.
Mr. M. Smith: And the Deputy is not  going to impugn my character. He might try to impugn the Taoiseach's character but he will not succeed there either.
Mr. Cowen: Hear, hear.
Mr. M. Smith: The Progressive Democrats may well be successful in keeping their party small and in Opposition——
Mr. Molloy: This is a sad day. The Minister will not answer a single question.
Mrs. Owen: It was one dinner, was it?
Mr. M. McDowell: The Minister knows he lied to his party.
Mr. M. Smith: Withdraw that now.
Mr. M. McDowell: No, I will not.
Mr. Cowen: You cannot substantiate it.
Mr. M. McDowell: You met those people once and you said you were intimate. You are a liar, and you know it.
Mr. Molloy: Tell us how many times you met them.
Mrs. Doyle: Did the IDA recommend investment in C & D Foods?
Mr. M. Smith: Withdraw that remark.
Mrs. Doyle: Or else what?
Mr. M. Smith: I will not proceed until that remark is withdrawn.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I did not hear a remark. I must ask the Minister to conclude.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I think the Minister would prefer not to continue.
Mr. Shatter: Will someone tell me where the massed ranks of the Labour Party are at the moment? Have they taken leave of the House?
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: In accordance with an order of the House this day I am now calling the Minister for Justice to conclude.
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn): The Opposition have engaged in this debate with an unusual degree of vigour. There has been repetition of misleading and damaging comments but also a little light has been shed. The light was shed by Deputy John Bruton who was frank in his admissions. He has admitted that he was the man behind the scheme in the first place and that he has no reason to be ashamed of that.
Mr. J. Bruton: That is not true. On a point of order, Sir, the Minister has made an incorrect statement about me personally. I am not “the man that was behind that scheme”. I made representations to the Minister for Justice at the time that it should be possible to issue passports to people who make investments, that is all.
Mr. Andrews: That is being behind it, what else is it?
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: That is all I am saying. Deputy Bruton has admitted that in his capacity as Minister for Industry and Commerce he supported such applications. Deputy McDowell appears to find it extraordinary that a Minister other than a Minister for Justice would have anything to do with such applications. Deputy Bruton has disposed of one bit of confusion, once and for all. There was nothing bogus about the scheme itself. It was introduced by the Government and operated by successive  Governments and should and will continue to operate.
Mrs. Doyle: Publish the details of the scheme.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Let us hear the Minister without interruption.
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: Deputy Bruton has also acknowledged the Taoiseach's frankness, when he became Taoiseach, in telling the truth about his business affairs, unlike others.
Mrs. Doyle: Deputy Rabbitte will give us the details.
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: The Taoiseach has told the truth about this case also and I hope Deputy Bruton and others will acknowledge this. I intend to concentrate mainly on the contributions of Deputies Bruton and McDowell. Where Deputy Bruton went slightly astray was when he prepared his statements and questions without knowing what I was about to say. He referred to the need for accountability, for rules and so on, and I do not dispute this. However, the point is that successive Ministers for Justice have operated on the arrangements which exist in which there are informal rules. Is the Deputy saying that all of those are to be faulted now for the fact that they did not operate in accordance with rules which did not exist? When I say there were informal rules in operation I do not want to imply that it was a matter of doing as one wished or that it was an exercise totally devoid of conditions.
Mrs. Doyle: The “old pals” act.
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: A fundamental condition was that there would be a substantial investment in job creation and another condition was that a residence would be purchased. Both of these basic conditions were fulfilled in the case which has been disgracefully portrayed as an example of abuse.
Mr. M. McDowell: The Minister said it was the other man who bought the house.
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: Deputy Bruton also complained of the fact that decisions were made by a Minister acting alone. That is the law of the land. Anybody who listened carefully to my opening remarks will know that, although it is the law of the land, I have specifically proposed — and the Government accepted my proposal in April last — that the advice and expertise of agencies outside my Department would be made available formally to the Minister in making these decisions. The Government, in April and before the present difficulties blew up, agreed that in future the Departments of Foreign Affairs, Finance, Justice, Enterprise and Employment and the Industrial Development Authority will specifically be asked to give advice on all of these cases. With regard to residence, I have made it clear that the requirement is that applicants display an intention to reside in the State for a reasonable period of time and that they do this at the time of the application. There is no mechanism whereby we can actually bind somebody by contract to spend all of his or her time in this country. We do the next best thing, that is — and here again I am referring to successive Governments — to require them to purchase a residence. That is what the family concerned in this case did.
Neither I nor the Government have any difficulty with the idea that procedures should be more formal or that there should be more rules. However, I want to underline again that the Government operated properly in accordance with the arrangements that are already in being.
As to whether there were or are any fees paid to brokers who submit applications for naturalisation on behalf of applicants, that may well be the case; but, again, I am sure that any fair-minded person will recognise that, whether they approve it or not, this is a completely private transaction outside the control of the Government There are certainly no  State funds paid to the people concerned, but what may or may not be paid for services of any kind provided by persons in the private sector is something of which I have no direct knowledge, If Deputy Bruton or anybody else believes that somebody has acted improperly in taking payments for submitting applications to my Department, let him say so directly rather than leave something in the air which, however unintentional it might be, appears to attach a smear to my Department, to any Minister or Department or to the private individuals who have been granted naturalisation in the past.
On the various questions concerning the Taoiseach's interest in the company, which is the subject of the investment, Deputy Bruton has already given eloquent testimony to the Taoiseach's honesty in matters of this kind when he acknowledged, quite fairly, that the Taoiseach had been open and frank in making disclosures concerning his business interests.
Mrs. Owen: The Minister does not recognise sarcasm.
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: The Taoiseach has been open and frank in this instance also. Deputy McDowell's contribution was of a different order. It was evident from what he said that he has found himself in the middle of a swamp that he now wishes he never entered. I believe Deputy McDowell did not know that we were dealing not with a husband and wife but with a mother and son and that the husband, whose name is plastered all over the newspapers, is not an Irish citizen.
Mr. M. McDowell: The Minister plastered it in the newspapers.
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: I believe it came as a total surprise to him to hear that my Department was so strict in its application of the Irish associations requirement that it refused naturalisation to a man who was allegedly on some sort of inside track and told him he would  have to make his own investments. Deputy McDowell could not think of what he could possibly say when confronted by this fact and was reduced to the incomprehensible and totally illogical observation that it was lower than low for my Department to insist that this individual make his own substantial investment while he appears on the other hand to be implying that the family got what I call inside track treatment simply because they made a substantial investment in a particular firm.
The Deputy seeks to make much of the fact that I said at some point — I do not know whether he is right — that the naturalisation application was granted in 1990.
Mr. M. McDowell: I did not say that.
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: I hope he will at least have the decency to accept that if I made that error — as I said, I do not know whether I did — it was an error and nothing more, and I have frankly outlined the position in the House today.
Mr. M. McDowell: I said the investment was made in 1990.
Mr. Cowen: The Deputy should listen.
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: Deputy McDowell made outrageous allegations, implying that there was something inappropriate or underhand about the fact that my colleague, the Minister for the Environment, Deputy Smith, supported this application. It is odd he should have made this remark, given that Deputy Bruton openly acknowledged, as could many Deputies in this House, that there is absolutely nothing underhand or sinister about the fact that a person outside the Department of Justice, including other Ministers, might support applications of naturalisation.
Mrs. Doyle: Did the IDA recommend the investment?
Mr. Shatter: On a point of order——
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Deputy may not make a point of order, the Chair is putting the question.
Question put: “That the words proposed to be deleted stand.”
The Dáil divided: Tá, 61; Níl, 34.
Browne, John (Wexford).
Burke, Raphael P.
Gallagher, Pat. Power, Seán.
Higgins, Michael D.
Hilliard, Colm M.
Nolan, M. J.
Ó Cuív, Éamon.
Pattison, Séamus. Smith, Brendan.
De Rossa, Proinsias.
Dukes, Alan M.
Durkan, Bernard J.
Noonan, Michael. (Limerick East).
CLASS="CP">Tellers: Tá, Deputies Dempsey and B. Fitzgerald; Níl, Deputies Rabbitte and O'Donnell.
Question declared carried.
Amendment declared lost.
An Ceann Comhairle: In connection with the Irish Nationality and Citizenship (No. 2) Bill, which is being opposed under Standing Order No. 92, the House will now hear an explanatory statement, not exceeding five minutes in each case, from Deputy Michael McDowell, the Member proposing the motion for leave to introduce, and from Deputy Pat Rabbitte, the Member opposing the motion.
Mrs. Owen: Will the Chair explain the structure of the debate?
An Ceann Comhairle: I will call two speakers only, the proposer and the opposer — Deputies McDowell and Rabbitte. The only motion before the House is that leave be given to introduce a Bill, in effect, that the Bill is allowed to be printed and circulated. The motion to introduce the Bill is of limited scope especially as Members have not yet seen it.
Mr. M. McDowell: I move:
That leave be granted to introduce a  Bill entitled an Act to amend and extend the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Acts, 1956 to 1994.
The Bill includes the following: where a certificate of naturalisation was given in the past in respect of an investment in this country, the Minister should publish in Iris Oifigiúil the details of all such investments within one month of the passing into law of this Bill. It has been suggested in newspapers that is redundant. That is not the case as the Minister made clear today. She considers this to be a private and confidential matter and I propose that it should be made public.
On future naturalisation, where the name of the person who is naturalised is published in Iris Oifigiúil the nature of the investment in cases where it is an investment naturalisation should also be published. The third feature of the Bill is to make it mandatory on the Government, where a certificate of naturalisation has been made in respect of an investment in a company in which a member of the Government or a person connected with them has held any beneficial interest, to require that matter to be declared in public. This is not redundant as section 14 of the Ethics in Public Office Bill would not cover the matter the House dealt with today.
Section 5 requires people who are naturalised by reason of investment to make a declaration of loyalty to the nation and fidelity to the State in court. Under section 16 the Minister is entitled at present, although I understand it is not the practice, to dispense with that requirement. Section 15 permits any of the provisions in that section to be relaxed at the discretion of the Minister in the case of someone who has Irish associations.
The sixth provision is one I will amend in view of the revelations made by the Minister. It deals with the naturalisation of two named persons. I understand from the Bills office that the Bill in its present form leaves something to be desired. I will have the happy opportunity to regularise the provisions in section 6 in order  to comply with the facts as we know them and the rules of the House.
“Investment” is given a wide meaning in the Bill because it is expressly intended to cover the acquisition of any interest, legal or equitable, in any company, firm, business, land or assets for any consideration and also includes any business loan or credit facility.
I seek leave to introduce the Bill and hope it will be debated on Second Stage. I hope on that occasion the Minister for the Environment will have an opportunity to elaborate on the questions he had so much difficulty with at the end of the last debate.
Mr. M. Smith: The Deputy should not worry about me; he should worry more about himself.
Mr. Cowen: The Deputy is a paragon of virtue. He is full of it.
Mr. Rabbitte: I oppose the printing and circulation of this Bill because I do not like the notion of citizenship being revoked. If it is granted it ought not easily be revoked. However having listened to the arguments made by Deputy McDowell and what transpired during the last debate there is much substance behind the Bill.
The scheme which is the subject of the Bill is a lousy one. A majority of Members believe that to be the case. If it were a legitimate business scheme to secure investment from abroad it would not be open to the potential conflicts of interest which this scheme manifestly is open to. I note Deputy Cowen shakes his head. I read a document into the record which is a typical contract prepared by an international lawyer inviting investment in the scheme. It is riddled with loopholes and is open to corruption. It invites potential conflicts of interest and ought to be dramatically and radically changed.
When the scheme was introduced some Members made very strong arguments that should be the case. For example, let us look at the Tánaiste's remarks in today's issue of The Irish Times. He said  his understanding was it required a substantial investment, an element of residence and that there be significant job creation. In this case we have not clarified — the Minister has not helped us — if there was any kind of investment not to mention a substantial one. It appears to be a package of soft loans. There is no evidence that preferential shares on a redeemable basis were purchased by the investor. I do not want to question whether the job creation we were told was associated with the investment transpired.
Mr. Cowen: It did transpire.
Mr. Rabbitte: One cannot rebuke the arguments made by Deputy McDowell that there ought to be transparency about the investment, the amount and who handled it.
I am concerned that the Bill be circulated and debated on Second Stage because it raises fundamental questions which this afternoon's debate did nothing to clear up. It was the most remarkable contribution made by a series of Ministers I have heard.
Mr. Cowen: A remarkable contribution from the Opposition.
Mr. Rabbitte: Deputy Cowen went out of his way to put one point on the record — the due process of law was adhered to.
Mr. Cowen: Has the Deputy a problem with that?
Mr. Rabbitte: I never alleged there was one.
Mr. Cowen: The Deputy said there was corruption. There is no evidence of that.
Mr. Rabbitte: No, I said it was open to corruption. No other Minister, including the Minister for Justice, sought to reply to any of the pertinent questions. The Minister for the Environment is especially vulnerable in that he took it on  himself to recommend the character and suitability of the investor.
Mr. M. Smith: Is the Deputy casting aspersions on it?
Mr. Rabbitte: I am merely saying the Minister had an opportunity——
Mr. M. Smith: Is the Deputy or is he not?
Mr. Rabbitte: ——for five minutes today to tell the House how he came to be in a position to recommend this investor, that he knew him intimately and so on. He did not avail of the opportunity to tell the House how be became involved.
Having listened to the argument put forward by Deputy McDowell there are compelling reasons why the Bill ought to be published and debated on Second Stage. The Minister chose to give information that had nothing to do with the pertinent issues which this case gave rise to. Since Ministers seem to be too concerned about the election they might be willing in a post election climate to address the serious merit of this Bill and the need for the radical overhaul of a scheme which is open to corruption——
Mr. Cowen: There is no evidence of that.
Mr. Rabbitte: ——and invited a conflict of interest for all potential Ministers.
Mr. M. Smith: It is open to doing good, and it has done good.
Mr. Rabbitte: That may be——
Mr. Cowen: There is no evidence of corruption.
Mr. Molloy: It has been very good for Albert.
Mr. Cowen: That is being small minded, a small minded little man.
An Ceann Comhairle: Is Deputy Rabbitte opposing the Bill?
Mr. Rabbitte: Having regard to the debate, I will withdraw my opposition.
 Question put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 29; Níl, 56.
De Rossa, Proinsias.
Dukes, Alan M.
Durkan, Bernard J.
Noonan, Michael. (Limerick East).
Browne, John (Wexford).
Burke, Raphael P.
Higgins, Michael D.
Hilliard, Colm M.
Nolan, M. J.
Ó Cuív, Éamon.
CLASS="CP">Tellers: Tá, Deputies O'Donnell and Rabbitte; Níl, Deputies Dempsey and B. Fitzgerald.
Question declared lost.
Mrs. Owen: I wish to share my time with Deputies Hogan and Durkan.
An Ceann Comhairle: I am sure that is satisfactory and agreed.
Mrs. Owen: I move:
That Dáil Éireann calls on the  Government to publish this week the revised national plan showing clearly each alteration in any paragraph or commitment that is now different from the National Plan Programme originally submitted to Brussels.
This national plan has been doomed from the beginning for a number of reasons. In its preparation the type of proposals and method of preparation for which the Labour Party, in Opposition, had called in the preparation of the last development plan — real, effective consultation with groups outside this House, with all groups nationwide who would benefit from it — did not take place. There was a charade of consultation, certain committees were established although, as usual, late. My information from people who served on those committees was that there was not really any effective debate on the kinds of projects which would assist areas from where these people came. Therefore, the seeds of the destruction of the plan were already there.
It was not as though the Government had not been warned of the need for consultation with local groups. It was clear that when the last national plan was submitted to Brussels, questions were asked about how effective local consultation had been. Therefore, the Government should have been forewarned, but was not and did not participate in effective consultation. No doubt, when replying, the Minister of State will endeavour to say that is not true, that lots of people were consulted.
Ms E. Fitzgerald: How did the Deputy guess?
Mrs. Owen: Nonetheless, the Minister of State served on Dublin County Council, as I did, and would have decried the lack of real consultation with it in the preparation of the last development plan. I am disappointed that she, and others like her, did not insist on this type of consultation when the plan was prepared. As though that were not enough, the  Taoiseach returned from a Summit meeting in Edinburgh and uttered the immortal words: “The £8 billion is in the bag”. Of course, he did not tell us that, in making that statement, he did not have any written confirmation, that he had gleaned it from discussions he had on the margins of the Summit meeting. We all know what happened subsequently — there was a hole in the bottom of the bag through which the money disappeared. Then we had the unseemingly and discrediting débácle month after month, first by the Tánaiste, then the Taoiseach and followed by the Minister for Enterprise and Employment, all adding to discrediting Ireland's name within the European Union. The Tánaiste said that while we might not get £8 billion we would get in excess of £7.4 billion. Eventually, when the plan had to be submitted to Brussels — belatedly, the Government announced that it had to be in Brussels by the end of September 1993 — my party called for the recall of the Dáil so that we could discuss it before its submission. The Government, in the manner in which we have become so familiar, told us not to worry that it had an excellent, well researched and prepared plan which did not need any advice or scrutiny by the Opposition parties, this from people who, in their Programme for Government, had said this would be a Government of transparency and openness.
As the months passed, we realised that those two words no longer existed in the lexicon of the Government; sadly, we no longer see any transparency or openness. The Government did not recall the Dáil, it would not allow anybody to see this gold-wrapped plan before its submission to Brussels. In October 1993, when we eventually debated the plan already in Brussels, it transpired that the Government, in submitting it, knew it would not get the £8 billion on which it was based. Nonetheless, the plan was submitted, supposedly warranting an allocation of £8 billion. Try as we would, we and other Opposition parties could not extract the truth from the Government, which was that the money would be reduced. In accordance with any  mathematical calculation, if one was not to receive £8 billion, having submitted projects costing that amount, some of them would have to be omitted, cut back or rephased. They said, “never mind, we are not getting £8 billion but we will wait for the half-term review”. We had been warned that the half term review would not yield the same benefits as the half-term review in the previous plan had principally because other countries had learned how to prepare proper national plans. The reason we got money in the first mid-term review was that some other countries had prepared plans that were less than adequate and could not draw down the money.
Despite the warning that this money would not be available at the mid-term review the Government forged ahead and in the House in October 1993 conducted a false debate by implying that the plan would remain as it was irrespective of the loss of between £800 million and £1 billion. We had further unseemly action when it became clear that the money was not available. The Minister for Enterprise and Employment, Deputy Quinn, like a petulant schoolboy went to Brussels in January and decided to blame the officials for losing the £800 million. There was not a word of guilt by the Government that it knew it would not get this money; it blamed the officials and created great embarrassment and great discredit on the country that we could not add and subtract properly.
It was not until the end of February last that the Government admitted — it was almost like extracting a tooth from a duck — that there would have to be rephasing, maybe some rebalancing and changing of the plan. The Government is caught up in putting “re” in front of so many words as if somehow it could not bring itself to say it will have to cut out, reduce or rewrite the plan. Instead it “rephases” and finds some other way of making the language unclear to the public as to what exactly is happening. In doing that it has discredited Ireland's role in the preparation of national plans. We know that the actual figure is £7.2 billion.
 This motion calls on the Government to present the plan. Let us see what exactly is proposed in that plan. The Government is hiding behind its cowardly exteriors by saying it has no right to publish the plan and yet, in the past few weeks, and I am sure in the remaining seven or eight days before the by-elections, the Euro elections and the urban elections, Ministers will continue to announce all types of projects that they think will give them votes. We do not know what sum of money is available for national and secondary roads or whether the Dublin light rail system will be built. Neither do we know how much money for the Tallaght Hospital project will come from Brussels and what amount will be required from the Exchequer. However, Ministers feel confident in announcing all types of projects in their constituencies.
We are deeply concerned that this revised plan is ministerially and constituency driven where there is a certain amount of bartering and exchange of goodies from one Department to another. Ministers appear to be saying: “If you give me some of your money towards one of my projects, I will give you some money towards one of your projects”. That is not the way to prepare a national plan. We can only go on the information we have because the Government will not announce the details of the revised plan submitted to Brussels. No amount of speech-making will convince us that there has not been a material change in the plan as published last year.
The Government will be out of office after a number of years and will disown the fact that certain projects could not be proceeded with. We will be told that projects had been re-phased, nothing happened and all the money was used. Ministers will say they did not get the mid-term review extra help they had expected. That is not credible politics and it is bringing discredit on the Government.
I wish to deal with the effectiveness of the plan. The 1989-93 plan set out to create 175,000 jobs. I realise the Minister of State present is from the Labour Party and so was not a party to the 1989-93  preparations. That plan created 80,000 jobs in a period when 70,000 jobs were lost, thus leaving a net increase of 10,000 jobs. If ever we needed a warning that the last plan should not be used as a blueprint for the present plan that was it. In the meantime while those 10,000 jobs were being created, 98,000 people emigrated and 63,000 people joined the dole queues. If that is progress and value for money from the 1989-93 plan I am a Dutchman.
It is evident that the last plan was not a blueprint for creating economic activity here or for improving the quality of life for people on the margins or for improving our infrastructure. We got some new roads but there are many things we did not do with that money. The warning must go out loud and clear that this is the last major tranche of money we will get as a result of our membership of the EU. We must use and invest it wisely and ensure that at the end of the five year review the credit column will be healthier than the debit column. As this plan has been bungled so badly I have no confidence that the position will improve.
The National Plan outlines four priority strategy goals: to strengthen the productive capacity of the economy — in other words create jobs; to improve economic infrastructure; to support local initiative for economic development and to develop skills and aptitudes of the workforce.
There are serious question marks over the Government's proposals to develop the skills and aptitudes of the workforce. The Minister of State may shake her head but that was one of the programmes the Commission questioned.
Ms E. Fitzgerald: The Deputy should wait and see.
Mrs. Owen: The Minister of State should not tell me to wait and see. The Government should publish the revised plan so that we do not have to be all hopes, promises, ifs, buts and whens. Let us see the plan. The Minister is afraid to  do so before the European elections. If the Government was not afraid that plan would have been published. If it contained good proposals it would be published in order to gain benefit. Clearly the downside of that plan is greater than the upside.
I hope the Minister will give us some information and announce that she will make the plan public so that the public can see what her trials and tribulations have yielded. So far the Departments of the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste's Office and every Department has been covered in shame on how this plan was prepared and changed and how we lost money. We do not know from where the local contributions will come. It is a matter of fudge.
Mr. Hogan: It is regrettable that Fine Geal had to table a motion calling on the Government to publish an amended national development plan. It is regrettable also that the National Development Plan published last October can be discarded. Officials and sub-regional groups throughout the country put much effort into joining the various pieces of the jigsaw which they hoped would ultimately make up the national development plan which was published with a fanfare. I thought that the consultative process would have proved to be most rewarding for those engaged in it but when one examines the plan as published it is difficult to believe that the views of the sub-regional groups were taken into account by the Government which has not implemented its commitment to create a link between the people and power.
Parts of the National Development Plan are supposed to have been taken from the submission of the south eastern regional sub-group with which I am familiar but it includes projects not recommended by that group. The Government also failed to include many of the projects it recommended and wanted to see included. This proves that the consultative process was just a sham as Ministers and officials in Merrion Street made the decisions.
The National Development Plan  should include more than a list of priorities over the six years of the plan. One would have thought that the Government would have learned from its mistakes in the last round of Structural Funds from 1989-93 and realised that throwing money at a problem in the economy would not necessarily yield a return in terms of growth and employment.
Fine Gael firmly believes that European Structural Funds will be wasted unless they act as a catalyst in the economy. Barriers to growth and job creation should be removed by domestic policy makers. In typical Fianna Fáil and Labour fashion this plan, although aspirational in terms of its likely impact on the economy, does not address the question of competitiveness, reducing the overall cost structure of the economy to sustain permanent employment rather than temporary training schemes. The current round of Structural Funds provides a unique opportunity to link people with power by ensuring that decisions with respect to the formulation of plans and the disbursal of funds are made at local level rather than in Merrion Street.
In view of the fact that this is likely to be our last major opportunity to achieve significant transfers of resources through the Regional and Social Funds it is crucial to get it right and learn from past mistakes. Unfortunately, it appears that the Government is committed to maintaining centralised control over the allocation and distributions of those funds. Instead of offering participation the Government proposes to consult the people. This flies in the face of statements made by the Minister of State, Deputy Kitt, in respect of the information campaign he has been seeking to wage about Europe during the past few weeks.
Local people are not being given any opportunity to make a meaningful input to the way in which plans will be implemented at local level. Is it any wonder that the Government has to expend considerable resources to ensure that the public knows what is happening in the European Union, that people feel alienated and that there is apathy about the European elections? Instead of  devolving decision-making powers the Government is offering a confusing picture of more boards, authorities and fora which will not be held accountable at local level and to which local people will not have access. An initiative which would have provided a mechanism to draw local communities into the European process in a meaningful way has served to reinforce the concept of Europe as distant, impersonal and imposing where power resides with the Eurocrats, not people. Local involvement and participation have been marginalised in favour of centralised control. Cosmetic efforts have been made to consult local people to see what their priorities are. This decision should be reversed in the amended National Development Plan to give local people more discretion.
While there has been consultation in other European countries the National Development Plan was not debated in this House before it was published. Greece, for example, debated its plan for a considerable time. In Northern Ireland, the business community and voluntary groups were asked to make submissions to the Minister of State with responsibility for its national development plan which were later discussed with them. A balance was struck between the needs and aspirations of all sections of the community and the State. That is a model we could have used in terms of consultation and participation by local communities.
There has been much talk about the need for clarification in the Northern process and for North-South co-operation and institutional arrangements. I was the only politician who discussed the National Development Plan with officials in Stormont despite the fact that there is a chapter on North-South co-operation. The Government missed an opportunity to enter into meaningful discussions to see how economic cohesion and integration can be promoted between both parts of the island to the advantage of Border areas.
I call on the Minister of State to publish the amended National Development Plan immediately and to stop playing politics because people have a right to  know. I was impressed by her yesterday when she stated she would like to see open and transparent Government and that that was why she supported the Ethics in Public Office Bill. She should not be afraid to publish the amended National Development Plan and not hide behind bureaucrats in Brussels and excuses that certain matters have not been resolved. The people are now deciding how they should vote in the European elections. This gives us an ideal opportunity to have a proper debate on European issues and on how we should spend the moneys we received from Europe. The Minister of State should take the opportunity, therefore, to publish the amended National Development Plan this week.
Mr. Durkan: I have every sympathy for members of the Government and those sitting on the Government benches who have shown a lack of imagination in some instances and too much imagination in others. Members of both parties in Government, without exception, have ample opportunities to career around the country with gay abandon to deliver the goodies from Castlebar to Wexford and from Louth to Kerry; there is hardly a person who has not been the beneficiary of some announcement during the past few weeks. As election day draw closer commitments are being made with increased rapidity. It is amazing that this should happen at election time. I suppose it is purely a coincidence and that Ministers would have done this in any event. Group water schemes, hospitals and road works have been promised but, lo and behold, the framework for expenditure in the next four years is missing. The much vaunted national plan was examined in great detail by Members seeking inspiration but they failed. The people in Brussels also failed to find inspiration because they had to curtail the fervour of some of the people who contributed to its construction with the result that we are poorer now than in December 1992 or January 1993, as outlined in April 1993 by the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and  Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister of State present. Having discovered that we are less well off then we thought, the Government in its wisdom decided to examine the next way of deluding itself — it is not deluding anybody else — and decided not to publish the revised plan because the unfortunate people of this country might then be as wise as it in regard to its intentions. That could not be the case because, notwithstanding the commitment to ethics in Government and so on, it would be terrible if they knew the intentions of the Government. Publication of the revised plan is far from the minds of those in Government.
It is understandable that at election time this might happen, but with the high mindedness and standards set by both parties in Government and their commitment to such ethics, the Government could depart from tradition in this case and publish the plan so that we would all know the areas in which there will be a shortfall. However, the Government did not do that. God help the poor people of this country, whether they live in constituencies where by-elections are about to take place or elsewhere, because ultimately some area will lose. Somebody will be codded, but who? Will it be the unfortunate people in Tallaght whose long awaited hospital has commenced construction, the unfortunate people of Castlebar who were promised a hospital yesterday, the mentally handicapped or those on training programmes? What Department will be involved, what Minister will be weakest when it comes to kicking shins under the table? What Minister will fall victim and pay the highest price? The Government has not published its revised plan because it has not agreed on the victim. I am sure that, as knives are being sharpened and shoes primed for the kicking sessions, a number of people will be lined up and targeted by both parties with a view to determining that they alone will get the biggest slice of the cake and under no circumstances will they be the victims of the campaign they are about to undertake.
Many of us are naive despite our years  here. I was naive enough to believe even at this stage that there was some semblance of truth in what the Government has been telling us about ethics, transparency and so on for the past number of years, but I have been disappointed in that regard. I canvassed in the west Mayo area in the past few days and met people who were the victims of the recent agreements on fishing rights. They said that Government Ministers told them the Government was not responsible in that regard, that the bad, bold Europeans exerted the heavy hand and put a clenched fist on the poor unfortunate Irish people negotiating and fighting valiantly for the rights of their people. Needless to say it took me some time to explain that the Government was responsible for creating a position whereby an Irish delegation was not well received in Europe. The Europeans are sick to the teeth of the bowing and scraping, the cringing, the tearing of hair, the beating of breasts, the olagóning and the begging bowl tactics. The Irish delegations negotiating in Brussels have lost credibility because the Irish have outlived their welcome there. They have spent too much time in the past six months whingeing, whining and calling for more. Oliver Twist would not hold a candle to them.
Irish Ministers should have identified the correct amount in the first place but instead they damaged our image and standing in Europe. I hold both parties in Government responsible for that and the price will have to be paid for many years to come. The Government does not care because it believes its destiny is to be revered in the future as “the great white hope”.
That would be acceptable if we were playing parish pump politics but they will not work in Europe. The people in Europe are past masters in that regard, they recognise parish pump politics at a glance and know how to deal with people who embark on them. They will laugh and neatly side-step them, as they did in this case.
The revised national plan has not been published, the Government claims it is prevented from doing so by the nasty  people in Brussels who do not believe in transparency. However, after 9 June word will filter through and there will be some indication as to the full extent of the shortfalls and their location. We will then hear Ministers from both Government parties howling about who was hard done by. That will be a pretty sight, one would love to be a fly on the wall when that debate takes place at Cabinet as accusations and counter-accusations fly as to who misled whom and by how much. The unfortunate victims will be the people and our standing in the European arena.
I hope that somebody will resurrect a semblance of the halcyon days when both parties expressed high ideals at every available opportunity before going into Government and restore public confidence in the Government. What I gleaned from the public on the hustings in the past few months does not indicate a great degree of confidence in the ability of the Government to do anything at any level, not even at the parish pump and that is regrettable.
It is also regrettable that the Government will have to crawl back publicly from its exalted position in respect of the so-called £8 billion. There was nothing wrong with the amount being offered in the first instance, we were delighted with it but we should not spend so much time whingeing and begging for more. Surely we have a little pride in ourselves. It is not good for one's dignity to be seen to be adopting such postures in the world arena during the bargaining process. Our experiences of negotiations in the past few years have not been good — this does not apply to the GATT negotiations — but the Government parties have not shown themselves to be expert in this arena. It behoves them to remember this because in time people will ask why different agreements were entered into and the answer will be that was the way the Government of the day handled the negotiations. That was the way the Government handled it but the country paid the price.
I hope cuts will not be made in the  health services, for example in services for the mentally handicapped, the elderly, for those in psychiatric institutions or those about to be transferred from institutional care to care in the community. I hope that vulnerable services will not be cut. I hope also that cuts will not be made in retraining programmes and that the Government will not continue with its charade of pretence. In suggesting there will be no change it is as if the Government is in a dream but at some stage it will have to face reality. Perhaps after the European elections, the two by-elections and the elections to urban authorities some member of the Government will tell the people that because of the shortfall in funding certain programmes will need to be cut. I hope we will have a debate on the issue then and that we will no longer continue to live in the world of make-believe where the Government believes but does not make and is clearly seen to be lacking in its commitment to identify goals and objectives. We have had enough of pretence.
Minister of State at the Department of Finance (Ms E. Fitzgerald): I move amendment No. 1:
To delete all words after “That” and substitute the following:
“Dáil Éireann, recognising the major contribution to jobs and to Ireland's economic potential arising from the substantial investment to be made with EU Structural Funds and associated public and private expenditure, supports the strategy and priorities set out in the National Development Plan, 1994-1999 and notes the success of the Government in ensuring that this strategy and these priorities will be fully reflected in the Community Support Framework, 1994-1999, final details of which are now being settled”.
With the permission of the Chair I wish to share my time with Deputies Callely and Kirk.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Is that satisfactory? Agreed.
Ms E. Fitzgerald: I thank the Members opposite for their expressions of support for the Bill we published yesterday and I look forward to their constructive support when we come to debate it.
I am surprised at the tone of this debate because we have put on record what will happen under the National Development Plan. It is matter of public record that the Community Support Framework has been negotiated with the European Commission on the basis of pro-rata adjustments to the published plan. We have been successful in those negotiations and the shape of the Community Support Framework will reflect almost to the last ecu the proportionate share of the investment as planned in the National Development Plan. All our flagship projects are in place. I am delighted to inform Deputy Owen, as I know she and I have a great interest in public transport, that the light rail transport proposals will go ahead in Dublin. I am delighted to inform Deputy Durkan that the Tallaght Hospital will be built; the foundation stone will be laid tomorrow.
Mrs. Owen: Without the full £80 million?
Mr. Durkan: Without curtailment?
Ms E. Fitzgerald: The full funding for Tallaght Hospital will be in place.
Mrs. Owen: The Exchequer funding?
Ms E. Fitzgerald: It is irrelevant. The balance between Exchequer and EU funding of projects is irrelevant because the total is the same.
Mrs. Owen: It is not irrelevant to the taxpayer.
Ms E. Fitzgerald: It does not matter if one project is funded 80: 20 by the Exchequer and the European Union and the other is the opposite as long as the total adds up the same way. I am  delighted that all our flagship projects are in place.
Since the plan was drawn up conditions have changed. Our economy is a great deal better than anticipated. Since we entered Government we have seen a rapid fall in interest rates, an upturn of confidence in the economy and an upturn in the number at work.
Mrs. Owen: Watch this space.
Ms E. Fitzgerald: Last month the number of unemployed fell by 6,000 and there was an increase last year of 16,000 in net non-agricultural employment. I am sure Deputy Owen will be delighted at the announcement of an extra 2,000 jobs in north County Dublin and as a fellow Dublin Deputy she will welcome that announcement. As the economy is doing well we are in a position to ensure that if we have to proceed more slowly than originally anticipated, the Exchequer will be in a healthy position. The paper by Mr. Patrick Honohan in the recent ESRI medium-term review states that if an investment yields a return that is higher than the cost of funding it, that investment makes sense for the Irish Exchequer. I made this point repeatedly in the House.
Discussions are almost completed with the European Commission on the National Development Plan prior to agreement on the Community Support Framework which will set out the broad national and sectoral strategies for the use of Structural Funds. We are at the stage of dotting the “i's” and crossing the “t's”, filling in the final details.
Mrs. Owen: Joining the dots.
Ms E. Fitzgerald: Contrary to the impression created by Deputies opposite — I appreciate they may not have the same detailed knowledge of the progress of the negotiations——
Mrs. Owen: The Government will not tell us.
Ms E. Fitzgerald: They may not have  listened to our discussions on the subject. Negotiations have gone extremely well in Brussels and the shape of the Community Support Framework will reflect the National Development Plan. There is no question of a separate revised National Development Plan. National authorities decide their development strategy and on the basis of this put forward their proposals for expenditure in the structural area, including the use of Structural Funds and domestic resources in the National Development Plan. The plan is then discussed with the European Commission and following those discussions the Community Support Framework is agreed. It will set out inter alia the development objectives, the priorities adopted for Community assistance and the indicative financing plan.
Following adoption of the Community Support Framework, the operational programmes are approved. These set out in more detail the objectives and measures for each of the main sectors. The programmes are the legal basis for the commitment of EU aid. As I told the House on several occasions, we agreed the financial details with Brussels and at this stage we are filling in the small print.
The National Development Plan and the Community Support Framework are separate documents representing different stages in the process. The question of a revised National Development Plan does not arise. As I will explain later, the publication of the Community Support Framework will be a matter for the Commission in due course.
In addition to expenditure proposals which will be aided under the Community Support Framework, Ireland's plan includes investments to be aided by the Cohesion Fund, under the Structural Funds Community initiative programmes and under the EFTA Cohesion Fund in the 1994-1999 period. Those are governed by different administrative procedures to the Community Support Framework and are not part of the current negotiations. The plan also includes eligible national structural expenditure not proposed for EU aid and 1993 expenditure, including 1993 EU aid.
 As Deputies are aware, the allocation of resources to Ireland agreed by the Commission in July 1993 falls within the range 8.1 to 9.3 billion ECU in 1992 prices. Converting to Irish pounds and to 1994 prices, this is equivalent to a range of £6.9 billion to £8 billion.
In October 1993 the Commission decided the amounts on which it would negotiate Community Support Frameworks for the disbursement of the Structural Funds in the period 1994-95. These amounts do not cover all the resources in the range because 1993 Structural Fund resources were already allocated and Community initiatives and Cohesion Fund moneys are treated separately.
Community Support Frameworks are broad statements of priorities and commitments and the indicative amounts of Community assistance contained in them may be subject to adjustment during the implementation period. For Ireland, the Community Support Framework amount expressed in 1994 prices is 5.62 billion ECU or IR£4.54 billion, that is the figure we understood we would get on 24 October. As regards Community initiatives no allocations to member states have yet been made. Cohesion Fund resources over the period 1994-99 are expected to be in line with the figure included in the National Development Plan.
The allocation approved for Ireland under the Community Support Framework fell short of the amount which the Government had included in the plan in respect of the Community Support Framework element. This shortfall was recognised and acknowledged by the Government from the outset.
Mrs. Owen: It was not.
Ms E. Fitzgerald: It is important to distinguish between two different issues. The Community Support Framework has to be agreed now on the basis of the EU aid allocated by the Commission at this stage. Accordingly, adjustments have been made to the expenditure allocations to take account of the shortfall in EU  aid. That will be done on a pro rata basis. It is our belief and expectation that we will do better over the period. We will continue at every stage to maximise the aid for Ireland. We have no intention of taking our plan off the table. However, the Community Support Framework has to be agreed on the basis of the aid now available.
The National Development Plan represents a set of strategies and priorities carefully chosen by the Government. The Community Support Framework has been agreed on a pro rata basis reflecting those carefully chosen strategies and priorities. As the Dáil has been previously informed, the Government has decided that in the light of the shortfall, there should be a pro rata reduction in the allocation to Departments under the plan. That reduction was applied to combined EU aid and Exchequer totals. I am somewhat amused by Deputy Durkan's description of people kicking and screaming because the agreement had been reached.
The National Development Plan was submitted to the Commission in October 1993. Since then discussions have proceeded with officials and they have gone extremely well. The detailed discussions on the Community Support Framework began in February 1994. Agreement was reached on the major substantive issues and on the financial allocations in April. Since then officials in the Commission and in the Government Departments concerned have been working on the preparation of the text and sorting out issues of detail — literally the small print. The final items relating to matters such as the completion of the list of development indicators to be included, verification of some statistics and fine tuning of the text are being wrapped up at present.
The draft Community Support Framework is likely to be submitted shortly by the Commission services to the Commission for approval. Following Commission approval, the draft Community Support Framework will be sent to four Community level committees which deal with Structural Fund matters for their opinions. That procedure is likely to take  about three weeks. The Commission will then formally approve and publish the Community Support Framework. Therefore, it is not possible at this stage to give a precise date on which the Community Support Framework will be published; I hope it will be early July at the latest.
Mrs. Owen: That is convenient.
Ms E. Fitzgerald: We have nothing to hide. We put our figures on the table and put forward a pro rata proposition which has been agreed by the Commission and the information is available. It is now a question of publication by the Commission.
The regulations governing the Structural Funds state that unless otherwise agreed with the member-state concerned, the Commission shall take a decision approving the Community Support Framework not later than six months after receiving the plan. The process has proved to be more time consuming than has been expected on either side. That is not only the case for Ireland, the same applies to other member states. We are anxious to wrap up the matter, draw down the money and move on. There is no delay on our side. I would have been happier if it could have been published before now. It is important that the officials take the necessary time to ensure that the detailed work is finalised properly. Although it has taken a little longer to finalise, that should not be a matter of great concern. Our operational programmes were submitted before the end of April and detailed work on them has been on a parallel line with that of the Community Support Framework. Expenditure from 1 January 1994 is eligible for EU assistance. Furthermore a significant part of the expenditure is Exchequer-financed and expenditure in areas such as roads, sanitary services, industry, agriculture, training and education has been provided for in the normal Estimates process and has been going ahead from the beginning of the year, even if final agreement with the Commission has not been reached.
It has been suggested that the Government  has some reason to delay the publication of the Community Support Framework, but the opposite is the case. I am anxious to get it up and running. The Community Support Framework will demonstrate how wrong Members of the Opposition were in their prediction in previous debates on this matter. Our negotiations have gone extremely well in Brussels. I listened to some fiction about the description of the discussions between the officials in my Department and the officials in Brussels, which have been extremely business-like.
Mrs. Owen: The attack by the Minister for Enterprise and Employment, Deputy Quinn, on officials in Brussels is not fiction.
Ms E. Fitzgerald: The priorities we have addressed are included, particularly our strong emphasis on education and training, which was endorsed by the independent study of the plan sought by the Commission and carried out by Philip O'Connell and Patrick Honohan in the ESRI.
Deputy Hogan said that competitiveness was not taken on board. One of the four pillars of the plan is to improve our competitiveness and make Ireland a better place in which to do business by reducing costs, particularly in the area of transport and communications. Regarding the involvement of local communities, this plan places radical emphasis on the area of devolved local development. Community and voluntary sector interests will be formally represented, as appropriate, on the monitoring committees and on the sub-regional committees set up under the regional authorities.
I agree with Deputy Durkan about the need to maintain and increase expenditure for the mentally handicapped. Since we entered Government we have made this a priority. The Minister for Health, Deputy Howlin, has ensured that we are spending an additional £25 million in the area of mentally handicap. I hope we will be able to improve on that as we draw down additional funds under  Community initiatives and allocate the fruits of increased economic growth to caring for people who are not in a position to fight for themselves. I endorse his plea in that area. He can be assured that plea will be answered.
The Government strategy as set out in the National Development Plan has been endorsed by the Commission and the discussion has been marked by a large measure of agreement. All the key elements of the plan are in place. The total amount of EU aid is less than we expected, so the pace of implementation may be affected. I agree with Members opposite that we need to ensure value for money. We do not want any more Kilrush marinas or projects which do not provide the best value for public money. Because of our healthy economic position it will be more difficult to get as generous a share of EU aid in the next round. We must ensure that we spend each Ecu in the most effective way possible. I have asked the Department of Finance to draw up revised guidelines for the appraisal and management of projects and they are at an advanced stage of preparation. We say loud and clear to those concerned with spending these moneys that we want value for money. We want each project judged to ensure that the correct amount of money is spent and no more. We do not want Rolls Royce projects where a more modest specification would ensure effective value for public money.
We want rigorous appraisal and management of all aspects of projects to see they are designed and implemented in the most economical, efficient and effective way possible. Within the fixed allocations for each sector it is obvious that any over design of excess capacity built into projects or inefficiency in project management will reduce the overall number of projects that can be undertaken over the period and this must be avoided. It is important to secure better value for money than we got in the last round of the Structural Funds. That message must be got across and clear to ensure that we get the best value for our investment in terms of a long term contribution to  Ireland's output and economic performance. That is the purpose of the plan and on what we will deliver. We have nothing to hide and are anxious to publish. We were looking for pro rata and we have got that. I am very happy that we will get that in the context of the very substantial local development programme slightly increased over what we looked for. There was very substantial local consultation and involvement, something that is new in this plan, a particular focus on unemployment black spots. I hope that in the better economic climate to which we look forward we can ensure that those most in need are not left out.
Mr. Callely: I am pleased to have the opportunity of participating in the debate on the motion before the House. The National Development Plan is a substantial programme of investment of £17 billion, the biggest investment in the State since its foundation and an achievement of which the Government can be proud. The impact of spending such funds, if invested wisely, will be considerable.
I am pleased the Government addressed all major national interests in the plan and focuses on the need to create an environment for sustainable employment. It is a challenge to any Government to have such funds available for investment in the country. In Ireland there is a great fund of talent and it is hoped that with that mix we will get the cocktail right in the coming years. Under this and the last Government Ireland has an outstanding record of achievement. This has been the case under Fianna Fáil-led administrations since 1987.
Mrs. Owen: Is the Deputy disowning the Minister of State?
Mr. Callely: Not at all. I am very proud of Fianna Fáil's record in all Governments to date, in Fianna Fáil-led administrations, including this Government. That is not to disown anybody.
I am a little concerned at the Opposition  speakers having a bash at the National Development Plan.
Mrs. Owen: At the Government.
Mr. Callely: It is not the first time Fine Gael tried to undermine the plan or the success of the Minister for Finance at the time, Deputy Albert Reynolds, in achieving the allocation for Ireland in December 1992. I am not too sure of the date.
Mrs. Owen: He was Taoiseach and he came back from Edinburgh with it “in the bag”.
Mr. Callely: We should give credit where credit is due. I do not like to embarrass Deputy Owen but, prior to the Taoiseach's visit to Edinburgh, her own party was on record as saying he would come back with £3 billion.
Mrs. Owen: No, we never said that, but he said he had £8 billion and he did not. I would not boast about it if I were the Deputy.
Mr. Callely: Let us clear the decks on this. The Deputy's party said publicly that the amount would be £3 billion and other parties suggested different figures. In those negotiations Ireland proved the most successful in terms of funds per head of population. Fine Gael criticised the Taoiseach on that occasion. When it was deemed necessary to reduce our allocation slightly Fine Gael took the opportunity yet again to jump on the bandwagon.
Mrs. Owen: The Deputy is great at rewriting history.
Mr. Callely: People listening to a debate of this nature do not want to get into the politics of politics because they do not like it. Perhaps it is because of its tactics that the Deputy's party is hovering at around 20 per cent in the opinion polls regardless of what it does. It is attacking a national development plan which addresses all the major national issues  and addresses the issue of singular concern to everybody in Ireland today, that is, the need to create the right environment for sustainable employment. What does Fine Gael do except bash the plan and the fact that the Taoiseach was so successful in getting such high funding for Ireland? If one wanted to make comparisons one could look at what the Fine Gael-led administration did while in office.
Mrs. Owen: The Deputy should pronounce our party's name properly.
Mr. Callely: I do not wish to upset the Deputy.
Mrs. Owen: The Deputy is long enough here now. He is not a little schoolboy anymore. He should learn the real names of the parties.
Mr. Callely: Look at how successful Fine Gael was when it negotiated on behalf of Ireland. When one compares the £8 billion that the Taoiseach was successful in achieving——
Mrs. Owen: He did not get £8 billion.
Mr. Callely: ——on which he achieved agreement in December 1992.
Mrs. Owen: Even the Minister is smiling.
Mr. Callely: At the end of the day there will be a total investment in Ireland in excess of £16 billion and probably more will be drawn down from EU funding. Other people might see a comparison between that and what Fine Gael did as the acid test. Fine Gael had the opportunity to secure EU funding for Ireland and came back with £1 billion.
Mrs. Owen: The Deputy should remember there were no Structural Funds then.
Mr. Callely: I believe what was brought back to the country at that time was £1 billion but this plan is the result  of consultation. Deputy Owen said there was no consultation but it is my understanding that there was extensive consultation and discussion when drafting the plan and the names of those who took part in the discussions are widely available.
I believe my time is running out but I felt it was important to clarify my understanding of the situation.
Mrs. Owen: The Deputy did not do it very well.
Mr. Callely: I am pleased that we now have a Dublin regional authority in place and to note that the Minister has indicated that light rail and other matters relating to the transport needs of the city will go ahead. I have no doubt that the plans to be drafted by the Dublin regional authority will get due consideration and due airing and discussion.
The Dáil adjourned at 8.30 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday, 1 June 1994.
7. Mr. McGrath asked the Minister for Education the reason colleges of further education are not established to cater for the post-leaving certificate area and courses certified by the National Council for Vocational Awards in view of the fact that a well developed system of further education exists in other European states; the reason this State will not recognise and formalise the further education area in terms of student grants, resources, teacher training and salaries of teachers.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): Post Leaving Certificate programmes were developed as part of the second-level education system and are provided by second-level schools throughout the country, in over 200 different locations, thereby maximising access by students and facilitating responsiveness to local needs.
At present, in excess of 17,000 students participate in Post Leaving Certificate Courses which are provided in schools as an integral element of the Vocational Preparation and Training Programme (VPT2) operated by my Department with support from the Structural Funds of the European Union.
The cost of delivery of these courses is provided by my Department through the payment of teachers' salaries, grants for equipment and inservice training for teachers. I have secured over £30 million for the next six years, in the National Development Plan, to fund a major programme of inservice education of teachers, at first and second level. Teachers engaged in the delivery of PLC courses are part of the target group which will benefit significantly from this programme.
It is estimated that a means tested grants scheme to cover both fees and maintenance for PLC students would cost £10 million. In the case of the PLC courses it has been considered more important to concentrate on improving the quality of the system, through investment in national certification and assessment arrangements, in programme development, in inservice training, and  in ensuring that those courses continue to be available in a wide range of disciplines for as many students as possible.
As the Deputy is aware I am now involved in the formulation of my proposals for incorporation in the forthcoming White Paper on Education, following extensive consultations with all concerned interests. In this context, I have received submissions and listened carefully to a wide variety of views on the future development of PLCs. These will receive my full consideration over the coming months as I move towards completion of the White Paper.
18. Mr. Creed asked the Minister for Education the plans, if any, she has to grant full university status to the National College of Art and Design; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): I invited the board of the NCAD late in 1993 to prepare proposals for the longer term development of the college. In that context I understand that proposals for the future institutional basis of the college have arisen.
I also understand that the college authorities are at present examining certain options in that regard and have been in contact with TCD, UCD and DCU.
I will give full and careful consideration to any proposals which may be submitted to me by the board of the college.
19. Ms McManus asked the Minister for Education, in view of the lack of information available to her Department on the level of permanent suspensions from primary and second level schools, if she will initiate a study to establish the number of such suspensions; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): I do not have any proposals at present to initiate a study on the level of  permanent suspensions from primary and second-level schools.
Following consultation with management authorities, teacher unions and parent representations, my Department issued “Guidelines Towards a Positive Policy for School Behaviour and Discipline” to schools in 1990 and 1991.
The guidelines do not include a system of reporting suspensions to the Department. They do provide that, where parents feel aggrieved with a decision to expel a student, they may bring the matter to the attention of my Department which arranges for appropriate investigation.
However, the question of suspensions and expulsion from school were among the issues considered by a working party which was set up to review the School Attendance Act 1926. The report of the working party contains a number of relevant recommendations. The report was published in April 1994 in order to stimulate wider debate in the issues concerned. This report and comments on it from interested parties is under consideration in my Department.
I might add that the position paper on regional education councils which I published in March 1994 suggests that the regional education councils could provide parents with an appeal forum on issues which had been raised and not satisfactorily resolved at school level.
20. D'fhiafraigh Eamon Ó Cuív den Aire Oideachais an bhfuil sí sásta cúntóir agus príomhoide a fhágáil i Scoil Náisiúnta Naomh Briochán sa Ghort Mór, Ros Muc, Contae na Gaillimhe, don scoilbhliain 1994-95.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreatnach): Tá socrú déanta ag an Rialtas le Cumann Múinteoirí Éireann maidir le líon na n-oidí a oibríonn i scoileanna náisiúnta. Mar gheall ar an socrú seo, tá líon na n-oidí in aon bhliain amháin ag brath ar líon na ndaltaí a bhí sa scoil ar an 30 Meán Fómhair an bhliain roimhe sin.
Ar an 30 Meán Fómhair 1993, bhí 21  daltaí ar na rollaí i Scoil Naomh Briochán. Mar sin agus mar gheall ar an socrú a luaigh mé ba cheart go mbeadh oide amháin, gur príomhoide í, sa scoil ó I Meán Fómhair 1994.
21. Mr. Molloy asked the Minister for Education the level of financial commitment she has secured to provide the additional resources required to bring about the changes envisaged in the report of the National Education Convention.
49. Mr. M. McDowell asked the Minister for Education if she intends to act immediately on specific problems identified by the report of the National Education Convention or wait until the White Paper on Education is produced.
50. Miss Harney asked the Minister for Education when she intends to present an action plan and an outline of the budgetary changes required for implementation of the changes recommended in the Green Paper on Education and the National Education Convention.
60. Miss Quill asked the Minister for Education the discussions, if any, her Department has had with other Government Departments to facilitate co-ordinated planning as described in the report of the National Education Convention.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): I intend to take Questions Nos. 21, 49, 50 and 60 together.
The task facing me now is to give the fullest consideration to all aspects of the report on the National Education Convention including financial implications as I formulate policy proposals for the White Paper.
I have shown in my term of office that there are many reforms that cannot wait for the publication of White Papers. Example of these include the on-going reform of the structure of the second-level senior cycle and the agreement with  second-level schools on selection procedures. I have also recently announced major improvements in relation to third-level student grants arising from the recommendations of an Advisory Committee which I established in April 1993. It is my intention to take similar action with regard to other issues should the need arise before the publication of the White Paper.
The Department of Education liaises closely with all concerned Government Departments in the development of education initiatives. I will keep under review, particularly in the process of preparing the White Paper, areas where improvement may be necessary to the policy formulation process.
22. Mr. Carey asked the Minister for Education the action, if any, that has been taken against the board of Letterkenny Regional Technical College, County Donegal, arising from the misuse of the database available to the college; if she will publish the report of the inspector which she appointed under section 20 of the Regional Technical Colleges Act; and, if so, when she will publish this report.
48. Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Education the action, if any, that has been taken against the board of Letterkenny Regional Technical College, County Donegal, arising from the misuse of the database available to the college; if she will publish the report of the inspector which she appointed under section 20 of the Regional Technical Colleges Act; and, if so, when she will publish this report.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): I am taking Questions Nos. 22 and 48 together.
I understand that the matter referred to by the Deputies is being investigated by the Data Protection Commissioner following a complaint made by the  Student Union in the college. This investigation is being conducted under the provision of the Data Protection Act, 1988.
In relation to the report of the inspector in question, it is my intention, as I have already indicated to this House, to publish that report when it becomes available.
23. Mr. Cullen asked the Minister for Education the specific proposals, if any, she has in relation to funding the Leaving Certificate Vocational programmes.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): Funding for the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme, which was introduced for a limited number of subjects in 1989, provides for a pupil: teacher ratio of 1.25 teachers per group of 20 pupils. In addition, equipment is centrally purchased by my Department and supplied to schools for the programme.
I have arranged to expand the programme into further disciplines shortly. The programme development phase is under way at present, and a two year pilot phase will begin in selected schools in September 1994. The expanded programme will be available nationally with effect from September 1996.
The cost in 1994 is estimated at £22 million. This will be apportioned on staffing, overheads and equipment.
The question of funding from the new Leaving Certificate Applied Programme for 1995 onwards will arise when I have an opportunity of considering final proposals for its implementation from the NCCA.
24. Mr. Clohessy asked the Minister for Education if she has examined the report from the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment on reform of the leaving certificate; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): In May 1994, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment published a consultative paper entitled Assessment and Certification in the Senior Cycle — Issues and Directions with a view to having the widest possible debate on assessment and certification at senior cycle. The NCCA will consider responses on the issues raised in this document before giving its formal advice to me as Minister.
I welcome this consultative paper as an important contribution to the debate on a significant aspect of the restructuring of the senior cycle programme and I look forward to receiving the final report and recommendations of the NCCA.
In the meantime, it would be inappropriate for me to comment in detail on the substance of the consultative paper.
25. Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to figures produced by the Union of Students in Ireland which shows that third level fees have increased by 172 per cent over the past decade and that the student grant is now worth more than 20 per cent less in real terms than it was in 1983; if she intends to provide a substantial increase in the maintenance grant to address the poverty being experienced by many students; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): The data available to me indicate that the 1983 level of student maintenance grant when adjusted for movements in the consumer price index (CPI) is within 0.5 per cent of the 1993 grant level. The data also indicate that if one were to compare the grant level in 1980 adjusted for CPI movements the 1993 grant level would represent an increase in real terms of nearly 8 per cent.
In relation to fees the increase between  1983 and 1993 was 116 per cent. However students who qualify for a maintenance grant also qualify to have their fees paid in full. Increases in fees, therefore, do not adversely affect such students.
Overall expenditure on third level student support has increased from some £15 million in 1983 to over £85 million in 1993, an increase of £70 million or 467 per cent. The increase in real terms is 290 per cent. The number of students in receipt of grant aid has increased from around 18,000 in 1983/84 to over 52,000 in 1993/94.
The Government is committed under the Programme for a Partnership Government to continuing improvement of the schemes of third level student support to ensure that no student is deprived of access to third level education because of his or her financial circumstances.
Among the improvements I have already announced in the 1994 student support schemes is an increase in the maintenance grant in line with inflation and in the income limits in line with the increase in the average industrial wage. In addition I have also provided £200,000 in 1994 to establish a hardship fund with the third level institutions. I will review the adequacy of this provision on an annual basis.
The Government is continuing its study of the other significant findings of the Advisory Committee on third level student support.
26. Mr. Shatter asked the Minister for Education whether she has received the report that is being prepared relating to the provision of a community school for Knocklyon, County Dublin; the recommendations made in the report; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): I have not received the report being prepared arising from my decision to commission an independent study of the post-primary needs of the Knocklyon/Scholarstown areas from the  Service Industries Research Centre at UCD. In my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 63 put down by the Deputy on 1 March 1994 I stated that it was intended to have the study completed within four months.
My Department understands that the report is now being finalised and will shortly be submitted for consideration by my Department and by me, as Minister.
27. Mr. Harte asked the Minister for Education the action, if any, she proposes to take against the board of the Regional Technical College in Letterkenny, County Donegal, arising from the recent High Court case concerning the appointment of a member of staff at the college.
55. Mr. McGrath asked the Minister for Education the action, if any, she proposes to take against the board of the Regional Technical College in Letterkenny, County Donegal, arising from the recent High Court case concerning the appointment of a member of staff at the college.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): I propose to take Questions Nos. 27 and 55 together.
The position is that there is a 21 day stay on the judgment issued in the High Court; this allows the respondent and/or third party leave to appeal the judgment to the Supreme Court. Under the circumstances therefore it would not be appropriate for me to make any comment on the matter.
28. Proinsias De Rossa asked the Minister for Education the steps, if any, she will take to remedy the defects identified in the recent INTO survey which named 170 seriously sub-standard schools in terms of accommodation; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): I welcome the survey in question as an addition to the information already available to my Department. In relation to the 170 schools identified by the INTO as being substandard, the position is as follows:
—20 have already proceeded to construction as part of the 1993 capital programme
— 23 have had their problems addressed by a project already underway or already sanctioned under the minor and emergency works scheme
—42 are on the list of major projects to go to construction in 1994.
Of the remaining 85 schools
—65 are under consideration for inclusion in the programme of major works in 1995 or under the minor and emergency scheme
—19 are schools in respect of which no application for improvement has been made
—1 school is due to close in 1994.
My Department has recently launched a comprehensive national survey of primary school accommodation following an initial pilot study scheme in approximately 20 representative national schools. It is intended that this national survey will be completed by July of this year.
As I have said in reply to previous parliamentary questions, I accept there is an urgent need to continue a high level of investment in the capital programme for primary schools. The Programme for Government 1993-1997 reflects this necessity by undertaking that there will be increased expenditure in each of those five years on the school building programme.
Considerable progress has been made and continues to be made on the upgrading of primary school accommodation. The capital funding for the national  school building programme in 1993 was £19.1 million and the allocation for 1994 is £26 million, an increase of 36 per cent. The 1994 programme has provision for 73 additional contracts for major building projects and it is expected also that upwards of 1,500 other schools will have grants approved for a range of improvement and refurbishment works. This includes a special programme for the upgrading of sanitation facilities in schools where these have been identified as inadequate. I am satisfied therefore that everything possible is being done to meet the accommodation needs of primary schools.
29. Mr. Browne (Carlow-Kilkenny) asked the Minister for Education her views on whether remedial teachers should be appointed to training centres for mentally handicapped adults.
78. Mr. Browne (Carlow-Kilkenny) asked the Minister for Education if she will consider appointing a remedial teacher to the Delta centre in Carlow which caters for 42 adults with mental handicap; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): I propose to take Questions Nos. 29 and 78 together.
In general, my Department adopts a positive attitude to requests for grant-aid for teaching support from training centres for mentally handicapped young adults.
Grant-aid is provided for instructors in vocational training centres for moderately mentally handicapped adults which are established by the health boards or voluntary organisations and which have Department of Health approval. The subjects covered include literacy and numeracy, horticulture, arts and crafts, etc.
My Department also provides grant-aid for the development of literacy and numeracy skills to centres run by the rehabilitation institute for young adults  with a physical or sensory disability or with a mild mental handicap.
While no formal application has been received to date, my Department would, of course, be prepared to consider an application for grant-aid for teaching support from the centre referred to by the Deputy.
30. Mr. Molloy asked the Minister for Education if she will re-examine the position of Montessori education as part of our educational structure, particularly in view of the proposed reform of early childhood education.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): Recognised Montessori teachers are already eligible to teach in special schools dedicated to the needs of children with disabilities, and they provide a valuable educational input in this area.
My Department is currently considering the report of the Special Education Committee including its recommendations in the pre-school area. The question of requirements relating to the qualifications of teachers to be involved in this area will form part of this consideration.
31. Ms O'Donnell asked the Minister for Education if her Department has had discussions with the Department of Equality and Law Reform on the gender balance of senior officer positions within her Department.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): My Department has not had discussions with the Department of Equality and Law Reform on the gender balance of senior officer positions within my Department.
However, I was pleased in August of last year to respond to the invitation of my colleague the Minister for Equality and Law Reform to nominate a representative of my Department to the Monitoring Committee on Implementation  of the Programme drawn from the report of the Second Commission on the Status of Women.
All Departments including mine were asked to respond to the recommendations of the commission which fell within their terms of reference.
One of the areas addressed by the commission was the low proportion of women on school inspectorate staff. The commission recommend that my Department should review the recruitment, deployment and working procedures of primary and post-primary school inspectors with the aim of increasing the number of women inspectors. This review is now in place and I would hope to see a substantial improvement in the gender balance both at recruitment and more senior levels.
I have recently received from the Minister for Equality and Law Reform, a copy of the report on a Survey of Equal Opportunities in the Public Sector. This report causes great concern as it highlights the virtual absence of women from senior management in the public sector. The Minister for Equality and Law Reform has sought and will get my cooperation in the introduction of progressive policies of equal opportunities to ensure that the current pattern of inequality within the public sector is effectively reduced.
My Department is an equal opportunities employer and fully subscribes to the Equal Opportunities Policy and Guidelines for the Civil Service. The objective of this policy is to ensure that all staff have an equal chance to develop their potential and to advance on the basis of merit and ability.
34. Mr. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Education if she intends to carry out unit cost analyses on universities and regional colleges and a unit cost comparison between universities and regional technical colleges.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): The Higher Education Authority  has instituted a unit cost project in the university sector. The process is being refined over time and is being used at present to inform funding decisions by the authority as well as by university management.
No unit cost exercise has yet been carried out in the regional technical colleges. I consider that any such exercise should wait until the process in the universities has been sufficiently developed, refined and evaluated. However a cost effectiveness measure — teaching hours per annum per student — is being widely used within the regional technical college sector and by my Department to assist in the management process.
The two sectors within higher education have a common concern to provide the highest quality education for their students and to act as catalysts of social and economic development in their regions and nationally. Both sectors seek to realise these aims through complementary but different and distinct programmes and activities in teaching and research. Any valid unit cost comparison would necessarily have to take into account the complementary but different roles of the two sectors.
35. Mr. E. Kenny asked the Minister for Education the number of second level teachers who will be involved in the supervision of junior certificate and leaving certificate examinations; and the number of teachers who will be involved in the marking of these examinations.
68. Mrs. Owen asked the Minister for Education the number of second level teachers who will be involved in the supervision of junior certificate and leaving certificate examinations; and the number of teachers who will be involved in the marking of these examinations.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): I propose to take Questions Nos. 35 and 68 together.
It is anticipated that about 4,580 superintendents  will be employed in connection with the written examinations for the 1994 junior and leaving certificates. The exact number will not be known until after the examinations are over as it will be necessary to open special centres during the examinations to cope with candidates who fall ill and cannot be accommodated in ordinary centres. A further 1,000 or so superintendents will be employed in connection with the practical examinations.
Superintendents of written examinations are appointed by my Department. Superintendents of practical examinations are appointed by school principals and vocational education committees.
The total number of examiners required to cope with the oral, practical and written examinations for the junior and leaving certificate examinations will be 7,320. All will be appointed by my Department.
The vast majority of superintendents and the vast majority of examiners are second level teachers.
36. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Education, in regard to the recommendations of a company (details supplied) regarding the desirability of a school book rental system, the steps, if any, that are being taken to facilitate the introduction of such a system; if a rental scheme will be in place for the next school year; the additional resources which will be provided for schools to assist in the operation of the scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): With a view to minimising the financial burden on parents in the provision of school text books for their children my Department has been recommending the establishment of book rental schemes in schools for some years now. To facilitate the introduction of such schemes guidelines for the operation of book rental schemes were issued to all schools in August, 1991. A significant  number of schools already operate such schemes.
The main finding in the consultant's report referred to in the Deputy's question was that book rental schemes are the most practical method of reducing the cost of school books to parents. Copies of the report have been sent to all schools with a view to stimulating the establishment of rental schemes in schools which do not already have them. The report contains a number of useful suggestions including a code of good practice for the successful operation of book rental schemes. In the final analysis, the establishment of a rental scheme is a matter for decision by each individual school.
The provision of seed capital for the start-up of book rental schemes is a particular problem for schools in disadvantaged areas. As an initial step to address this problem, I am making £65,000 available this year to help schools classified as disadvantaged, which commit themselves to book rental schemes, to overcome the problem of seed capital.
37. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to the fact that students attending post-leaving certificate courses in community schools and colleges are unable to avail of grant-aid in spite of the fact that students attending similar courses in Northern Ireland and Britain receive funding from the EU; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
39. Mr. Bradford asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to the fact that students attending post-leaving certificate courses in community schools and colleges are unable to avail of grant-aid in spite of the fact that students attending similar courses in Northern Ireland and Britain receive funding from the EU; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): I propose to take Questions Nos. 37 and 39 together.
At present, over 17,000 students attend PLC courses as part of my Department's vocational preparation and training programme. These courses are delivered in second level schools and colleges and have been developed as part of the second-level education system, with substantial support from the European Structural Funds.
The third level student support schemes do not apply to PLC courses. The Deputies should be aware that a means tested grants scheme to cover both fees and maintenance for PLC courses would cost of the order of £10 million per annum.
I am sure Deputies will appreciate the need to strike a balance between competing demands for resources, both ESF and Exchequer, in the education sector — between funding for the different levels of the system, between initial and second chance education, between student supports, investment in quality assurance, and special measures to combat disadvantage and underachievement.
In the case of PLC courses I consider it more important to concentrate on improving the quality of the system, through investment in national certification and assessment arrangements, in programme development, in in-service training, and in ensuring that courses continue to be available in a wide range of disciplines for as many students as possible.
As part of the National Development Plan, I have secured substantial resources for the development of authoritative, national certification for vocational education and training programmes, including PLC programmes, and for the provision of a major programme of in-service education for teachers at first and second-level, including teachers delivering PLC courses.
I am particularly pleased that the National Council for Vocational Awards will this year commence the award of nationally accredited certification to  students completing PLC courses. This is a significant contribution to enhancing the status of these programmes and will be of considerable benefit to students.
The Deputies have not given particulars of the courses in Northern Ireland and Great Britain to which they refer in their question. They will appreciate, therefore, that I cannot comment in detail on them. However, what I have outlined are my current priorities for the development of this sector, having regard to what best serves the varying needs of all students at the different levels of education and having regard to making the best use of available resources.
38. Mr. Sheehan asked the Minister for Education her views on whether Irish people have a lesser speaking knowledge of continental languages than citizens of any other EU states; if so, the steps, if any, she intends to take to redress the situation; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): It is impossible to establish league tables of competence at languages of whole peoples in the states of the EU.
There is a perception that speakers of English in general, and not only Irish people, are weak in their speaking ability of continental languages. Much of the extensive language teaching in the past was less concerned with speaking ability than with reading of literature. It has been observed that such activities as marketing have been adversely affected by our inability to speak fluently in continental languages.
Second level schools are encouraged in a variety of ways to promote the teaching of continental languages. Language programmes are in place at junior certificate and leaving certificate levels. The study of a continental language is a compulsory part of the leaving certificate vocational programme. Arrangements have been made for the ab-initio study of a continental language at senior cycle, that is where senior cycle pupils can begin the  study of a language and sit the junior certificate examination paper in that subject at the time of sitting their leaving certificate examination.
In addition to standard staffing and financial resources made available to schools, my Department is prepared, in certain cases, to sanction extra part-time teaching hours for the introduction of continental languages.
Resources are also provided for the professional development of language teachers, including grants to enable teachers to attend courses in teaching and methodology in a target language country. These teachers are replaced during this time by a native speaker who is a qualified full-time teacher in his-her country. In addition, each year foreign language assistants who are usually trainee teachers from mainland European countries are available to work in our schools alongside Irish language teachers and under their guidance.
Provision is also made under the LINGUA and other EU programmes for teacher exchange and for teacher and pupil exchange.
40. Mr. Clohessy asked the Minister for Education when she will publish the interdepartmental report drawn up by her Department and the Department of the Environment which recommends a shake-up in the education system which will give environmental issues such as pollution and the ozone layer, recycling and other such issues a special place on the curriculum.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): I am planning to publish the report to which the Deputy refers before the end of the current school year. Arrangements are in hand to have the report printed in sufficient quantities so that it can be distributed to all primary and post-primary schools as well as other interested parties.
41. Miss Quill asked the Minister for Education if her Department has acted in providing a solution to the difficulties encountered in relation to introducing a promotions structure in third level colleges staffed by members of the Teachers Union of Ireland.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): Proposals for a recruitment and progression structure for lecturing staffs in the regional technical colleges and the Dublin Institute of Technology were issued by my Department to the Teachers Union of Ireland on 30 March 1944.
42. Proinsais De Rossa asked the Minister for Education if she will give details of the expanded terms of reference given to the inspector appointed under section 20 of the Regional Technical Colleges Act to investigate certain matters at Letterkenny Regional Technical College; if she has received or expects to receive any interim report; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): The additional terms of reference authoritise the inspector in question to report to me on the following matters: the adequacy of existing procedures for the evaluation of the educational quality of the work of the college; the extent to which any problems identified by the inspector in the college reveal educational or organisational weaknesses in the college; arising from the results of her inquiries, what conclusions can be drawn and recommendations made for the improvement of the operation of the college; any other matters which the inspector considers of relevance to the framework within which the Regional Technical College Letterkenny operates having regard to the fact that a committee has been established to advise on the future development of the higher education sector.
 I have not received, nor have I requested an interim report from the inspector.
43. Mr. Connor asked the Minister for Education her views on whether funding made available by her Department for youth services in County Roscommon is adequate; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that there has been no increase in this funding since 1988; and the proposals, if any, she has to meet the realistic needs of funding services for young people in County Roscommon and other counties.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): The Youth Affairs Section of my Department administers grants in respect of the youth service grant scheme, special projects for disadvantaged youth, youth information, youth exchanges, etc. The total allocation in the past few years was:— 1992: £10.806 million; 1993: £11.452 million an increase of 6 per cent approximately; 1994: £12.064 million an increase of 5.34 per cent.
Under the youth services grant scheme my Department provides the grants to the national youth organisations and it is entirely a matter for them to decide on the allocations to their individual regions. My Department has no function whatever in this matter.
The Roscommon Youth Service is affiliated to the National Youth Federation and receives grants under the youth service grant scheme. As indicated, it is a matter for the National Youth Federation to decide on the allocations to its individual regions.
In 1993 and 1994 the National Youth Federation received grants of £1,167,200 and £1,188,000 respectively under the youth services grant scheme. These figures included “once-off” grants of £50,000 in 1993 and £25,000 in 1994 as well as the standard increases.
As regards the question of overall funding for the youth service the Deputy will appreciate that the demands are  inevitable well in excess of the available moneys and it is necessary for my Department to make the allocations as fairly and as equitably as possible having regard to the overall budgetary constraints.
44. Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Education the average cost per year to the State of a pupil in voluntary secondary schools, community and comprehensive schools and vocational schools or community colleges; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
72. Mr. Lowry asked the Minister for Education the average cost per year to the State of a pupil in voluntary secondary schools, community and comprehensive schools and vocational schools or community colleges; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): I propose to take Questions Nos. 44 and 72 together.
Independent studies have shown that there are significant variations between post-primary schools of the same category in relation to unit expenditure. In arriving at estimates of the cost to the State of post-primary education in the various types of schools, my Department apportions the total allocation for non-capital expenditure for the sector on the basis of pupil and teacher numbers and departmental staffing. The methodology used is not exact.
Based on the method used the approximate State expenditure, excluding capital expenditure, on a per capita basis for 1994 is as follows:
45. Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Education the progress on her plans to abolish selective entry tests for second-level schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
54. Mr. Upton asked the Minister for Education the number of schools which still continue to hold entrance tests for second level schools; when these tests will be phased out; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
61. Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Education the reason she has not proceeded with her plan to remove grants from second level schools that operate selective entrance tests based on academic ability; if her attention has been drawn to strong criticism of her decision by the INTO; the terms of her agreement with private second level schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): I propose to take Questions Nos. 45, 54 and 61 together.
I did not have any plan to remove grants from second level schools that operate selective entrance tests based on academic ability.
In discussions between my Department and the managerial bodies, and in the subsequent discussions on a draft agreement, the official side did suggest that financial sanctions might be necessary to ensure compliance with the proposal to abolish the school entrance tests — a proposal which was shared by all parties to the discussions.
The management side assured my Department that financial sanctions would not be necessary and agreed to establish monitoring committees.
The objective of abolishing selective entry tests based on academic ability has been achieved by agreement.
I am aware of the INTO criticism. My Department has responded to the INTO, informally, in the above terms.
The agreement covers fee-paying schools as well as schools within the Free Education Scheme.
I am not aware of any second-level school which still continues to hold entrance tests. Should such a case be  brought to the attention of the Department, the monitoring process built into the agreement with the managerial associations would be invoked.
47. Mr. Creed asked the Minister for Education the steps, if any, she will take to ensure the universal availability of art, craft and design as a subject in all secondary schools.
Minister for Education (Ms. Bhreatnach): Art, craft, design is available as a subject in 90 per cent of the post-primary schools and is taken by some 45 per cent of the relevant students.
This is a very satisfactory situation considering that no school could provide every option from the very wide range of options available and that, in any event, time constraints would make it impossible for all pupils to avail of all options.
Specialist facilities for art, craft, design are provided in all new schools. The planning and building unit of my Department considers applications from the authorities of existing post-primary schools for extensions which include provision for the teaching of art, craft, design. Any application which is received from a school which is unable to provide the subject because of a lack of facilities receives special consideration.
My Department has been very supportive of art, craft, design by way of incareer development, publications, advice and encouragement from inspectors, the introduction of a new and exciting syllabus and providing a very elaborate examination process.
52. Miss Harney asked the Minister for Education the definite plans, if any, to expand community education programmes which are to be aided by her Department.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): My Department has provided substantial additional funding in recent years  for community education programmes such as the adult literacy and community education scheme, the vocational training opportunity scheme, Youthreach, special initiatives for disadvantaged adults and a scheme of financial support for participants in education courses under Department of Social Welfare schemes. I am making provision this year for significant increases in funding in these areas. External evaluations of the adult literacy and community education scheme and the vocational training opportunities scheme are expected to be finalised shortly. These will make valuable contributions to the improved operation and development of the schemes.
I attach great importance to the community based second-chance education schemes concerned here as a means of helping those who are disadvantaged. My Department is keeping the effectiveness of the schemes under ongoing review in consultation with those who are operating them and I am committed to their further expansion as resources permit.
53. Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Education if she will give details of the grants paid to An Óige, the Irish Youth Hostel Association, for each of the last five years; and the amount proposed to be paid in 1994.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): My Department provides annual funding to An Óige under the youth service grant scheme in respect of core staff and day-to-day administration costs. The grants allocated to An Óige for the past five years were as follows: 1989, £87,000 plus £15,200 (Special Organisation Development Grant); 1990, £91,000 plus £19,200 (Special Organisation Development Grant); 1991, £88,000 plus £1,200 (Special Organisation Development Grant); 1992, £89,000; 1993, £91,000.
In 1994, a grant of £95,000 is being allocated to An Óige.
56. Mr. J. Mitchell asked the Minister for Education the proposals, if any, she has to provide additional moneys to meet the cost of the proposed Regional Education Committees; if the cost of the committees will be a charge on the existing budget for education; and the proposals, if any, she has to equalise the funding for second-level schools in the context of the Regional Education Committees.
58. Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Education the proposals, if any, she has to provide additional moneys to meet the cost of the proposed Regional Education Committees; if the cost of the committees will be a charge on the existing budget for education; and the proposals, if any, she has to equalise the funding for second-level schools in the context of the Regional Education Committees.
73. Mr. Cullen asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to the unease expressed by officials of the Church of Ireland at the proposals for intermediate structures; the plans, if any, she has to communicate with the officials about their concerns; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): I intend to take Questions Nos. 56, 58 and 73 together.
As you are aware, the Programme for a Partnership Government contains a commitment to the introduction of intermediate education structures.
I was requested at the National Education Convention, which was held last October, to prepare a position paper elaborating my thinking on intermediate education structures. This was an input into the consultative process. Extensive roundtable discussions, involving the concerned interests including representatives of the Church of Ireland, were completed last Thursday. Professor John Coolahan, Secretary General to the Convention, who chaired the relevant “Analysis of Issues” group and Dr. Séamus McGuinness who acted as rapporteur  to the group, are acting as chairman and rapporteur of the Roundtable Group. I now expect a report of their discussions very shortly.
The proposals in the paper are an input to an ongoing consultative process, initiated at the National Education Convention. They are clearly neither final ministerial nor Government proposals. It is made absolutely clear in the paper that final decisions will be informed by the views of all concerned and that these decisions will be made by the Government on proposals from myself, as Minister. The purpose of the paper is to give the interests an opportunity to influence the outcome. In approaching the preparation of the White Paper, I have sought to provide all concerned interests with the opportunity to make their views and concerns known. I have undertaken to listen carefully, and take full account of, the views of all relevant interests.
I am confident that given the very constructive nature of the debate to date and the very high level of engagement among the partners with the issues, the publication of the paper and the ensuing debate will greatly facilitate both myself, as Minister, and the Government in finalising proposals on this key issue. The arrangements for the funding of intermediate education structures will be addressed in the White Paper, which will contain the final policy decisions on the matter.
59. Mrs Owen asked the Minister for Education the proposals, if any, she has to allow small standalone second-level schools to provide a broad and balanced curriculum for the pupils of the community they serve.
71. Mr. Yates asked the Minister for Education the proposals, if any, she has to allow small standalone second level schools to provide a broad and balanced curriculum for the pupils of the community they serve.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): I propose to take Questions Nos. 59 and 71 together.
If any such school is experiencing difficulties in the teaching of the approved curriculum, my Department is prepared to consider an application for extra concessionary teaching hours. Each case is considered on its merits.
62. Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Education the estimated average annual cost to parents financing one of their children at a third level college where they do not qualify for grant aid; her views on whether hardship is involved in many such instances, especially for parents with more than one child at college; the proposals, if any, she has to alleviate such hardship; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): Figures on the lines requested by the Deputy are not available within my Department. The purpose of the third level student support schemes is to facilitate access to third level for students who because of low personal or parental income would not normally be able to support their attendance at third level.
In 1992 major changes were made to the income limits applicable under the third level student support schemes. The limits were increased by 40 per cent which, for example, enabled a family with one to three dependent children to qualify for a grant of full fees and maintenance on an income of £15,000 compared with the previous income limit of £10,787. These limits were further increased by 3.4 per cent in 1993 and 5.4 per cent in the 1994 schemes. These increases represent significant improvements in the third level student support arrangements.
I have already announced a number of improvements in the student support provisions for 1994 in relation to the attainments requirements, second chance students, increases in the maintenance grant and income limits and the establishment of a hardship fund. The  hardship fund will be administered with third level institutions for the benefit of individual students already attending college where assistance on a flexible basis is required because of exceptional unforeseen circumstances and where assistance under the general student support schemes is not available or is inadequate.
The net effect of the various initiatives and improvements is that the provision for third level student support in 1994 is over £101 million and some 60 per cent of third level students are expected to receive grant aid in 1994.
63. Ms Keogh asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to the dismay being expressed at the underrepresentation of women writers in the new draft leaving certificate English syllabus; the plans, if any, she has to deal with this matter; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): Concern at an underrepresentation of women writers in the draft syllabus for Leaving Certificate English has been expressed. The responsibility for drawing up syllabuses rests with the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment. I have every confidence that the course committee of the council drawing up the leaving certificate English syllabus will devise a syllabus of the highest quality for pupils and for the maintenance of the highest standards in the subject.
I consider that strict numerical gender representation would not be appropriate. I trust in the NCCA, which I know to be very committed to gender equality, to recommend the best courses. A first draft, prepared by the course committee, was considered by the NCCA to have an underrepresentation of women authors. A final draft syllabus has not yet been submitted to the Department. Material for literature courses will be selected on the basis of the opinion of experts as to  its literary and pedagogic worth. I know that the committee is addressing the issue.
64. Miss Flaherty asked the Minister for Education the proposals, if any, she has to respond to the needs of children with learning difficulties by ensuring the availability of in-service training for teachers, the removal of endorsements for special examinations and other improvements in services for children with such difficulties.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): As Minister for Education, I am implementing a broad range of measures in the context of an extended programme of in-career development for teachers, including teachers dealing with the needs of children with learning difficulties. My Department has issued priority lists for the attention of course providers at both first and second levels. Identified priorities include literacy and numeracy; special education; the identification, remediation and prevention of learning difficulties in pupils; providing for children with special needs and with specific disabilities in mainstream national schools; the education of traveller children; special school requirements; psychological and guidance activities.
In addition, courses dealing with the following specific needs of children with special needs and those with specific learning disabilities are planned, many on a cross-sectoral-primary second level basis: revised programmes of training in remedial education, courses for teachers of severe and profoundly mentally handicapped children, courses for teachers of special classes at post-primary level, courses for resource teachers and visiting teachers, courses for teachers of travelling children, courses for teachers of the emotionally disturbed, visually and hearing impaired and physically handicapped, courses for teachers involved in the home-school liaison scheme and courses for teachers of migrant children.
With regard to the examinations, my  Department operates a scheme of special consideration which is intended for candidates who, because of a physical or psychological disability, would be unable to demonstrate the knowledge they have learned to an examiner and is aimed, as far as possible, at removing the impact of the disability on the candidate's performance. The scheme is currently under review and among the items under consideration is the question of whether reference should be made on the certificate to any special conditions under which the examination was conducted. The present practice is not to refer in any way to such matters on the certificates. This practice will be continued in 1994.
With regard to the future, I can certainly assure you that no change in current practice will take place without the fullest consideration of all the issues involved and that, if any change is determined, schools and candidates will be advised well in advance of examinations.
The Deputy will be well aware of my commitment to the on-going improvement of educational services for all children with special educational needs. Since assuming office, I have sought to ensure that additional resources have been targeted on areas of educational disadvantage. In the remedial area, for example, I allocated an additional 80 posts to national schools in 1993 and recently announced a further allocation of 100 such posts from September next. As a result of these allocations, the total number of remedial posts in national schools will have risen to 1,133. This in turn will mean that 2,046 schools with approximately 84 per cent of primary school pupils will have access to a remedial service. I will also be allocating an additional 120 posts to the special education area from September next. The precise deployment of these posts is being actively considered at the present time in order to ensure that they are targeted on areas of greatest need.
In addition, I recently announced a range of radical increases in the rates of special capitation funding provided for pupils with special educational needs. These new rates not only include major  increases for all recipients of special capitation funding, but incorporate, for the first time, specific higher rates for pupils of post-primary age. Nor are any of the foregoing measures being introduced on an ad-hoc or haphazard basis. I am guided in my actions by the recommendations contained in the report of the Special Education Review Committee, which represents the most comprehensive examination of the special needs area ever undertaken in the State. The report of the review committee in turn is part of a development process centred on the forthcoming White Paper on Education and the Education Act which will follow. I can assure the House that this basic framework for the future of our education service will have as one of its basic objectives to make appropriate provisions for all children with special educational needs.
65. Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Education the number of second level schools who applied for remedial teachers; the number that were successful; the location of these schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
76. Mr. J. Higgins asked the Minister for Education the number of second level schools who applied for remedial teachers; the number that were successful; the location of these schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): I propose to take Questions Nos. 65 and 76 together.
I refer the Deputy to my reply to Question No. 152 of 3 February 1994 in which I stated that I have made provision for the allocation of an additional 25 ex-quota remedial posts to second level schools in the 1994-95 school year. Schools authorities were formally notified of this decision and advised that the posts would be allocated to schools based on need and existing remedial provision. Formal  applications for consideration were not invited. The position of all post-primary schools is being considered in this regard. A final decision on the allocation of the posts will be made very shortly.
66. Mr. Connor asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the proposed new community school for Carrick-on-Shannon, County Roscommon, scheduled to open for the commencement of the September 1994 school term will not now take place unless action is taken by her to ensure completion on time; and if she will ensure that such action is taken to avoid a situation where second level education at this centre may be unable to resume for two months after the official reopening date.
207. Mr. Nealon asked the Minister for Education in regard to reports that the new community school in Carrick-on-Shannon, County Leitrim, would be ready for September 1994, and working on this information, a board of management was formed and, on the advice of a Department of Education inspector, a principal and vice-principal were appointed and in spite of the fact that the Department of Education was advised by the Marist Sisters in June 1993, that Marymount College would not be available for September 1994, if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the Board of Management has now been advised that the completion date is not now due until 26 October 1994, with a further four to five weeks required for equipping; if her attention has been further drawn to the fact that the present position means that staff, pupils and parents do not know what accommodation will be available from September 1994, to cater for their needs and that this is an intolerable situation which will cause disturbance and inconvenience to the students, to progress with enrolment, and to the assimilation of the two schools; and if she will ensure that the necessary finances and resources are made available immediately to have the school ready for occupancy on 1 September 1994; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): I propose taking Questions Nos. 66 and 207 together.
The construction of the proposed new community school at Carrick-on-Shannon was originally scheduled for completion at the end of December 1994 and not the beginning of September 1994 as suggested by both Deputies. However, following negotiations with the contractor this completion date has been brought forward two months. Some further time will then be required to allow for the furnishing and equipping of the school.
I am very much aware of the concerns of the staff, pupils and parents in Carrick-on-Shannon in relation to the opening date of the new community school at Carrick-on-Shannon, County Leitrim, and I wish to assure the Deputies that although the new school will not be ready for occupation on 1 September 1994 every effort is being made to ensure that satisfactory alternative accommodation arrangements are in place for the commencement of the new school year.
67. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to the significant increase in the employment of unqualified persons as substitute teachers in that on average each day about 200 people without formal training or qualification teach about 6,000 children; if the employment of so many unqualified people is satisfactory; the steps, if any, she intends to take to ensure that children will not be left in the hands of unqualified persons; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): I am aware that boards of management of primary schools in certain  areas are having some difficulties in obtaining the services of qualified substitute teachers. Each board of management which employs an unqualified person must certify that every effort has been made to obtain the services of a qualified person. Such certification is required by my Department before payment in respect of the substitute is issued. I am pleased to inform the Deputy that I have initiated a number of measures to alleviate these difficulties as I believe that every effort must be made to have qualified teachers teaching in the classroom.
A pilot supply teacher project was established last September. Under this pilot project 30 temporary teachers are providing substitute cover for short term certified sick leave in three designated areas. The pilot project will operate for two school years. On completion its results will be carefully considered in my Department.
Last September the intake to the colleges of education was increased substantially. I have also approved the establishment of a special primary teacher training course for graduates. I propose that more than 100 graduates will be trained in this way to be available for the commencement of the school year 1996-97. These measures will significantly increase the number of qualified teachers. I should say however, that it will not always be possible to provide substitutes at short notice and particularly for absences of short duration.
69. Mr. O'Malley asked the Minister for Education the present position in relation ot the provision of an extension for Coláiste an Phiarsaigh, Glanmire, County Cork.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): The proposed extension to Coláiste an Phiarsaigh has been included in the 1994 post-primary capital programme. It has recently been agreed with the school authorities to include additional accommodation in the scheme  and the school's design team is at present revising the plans to provide for this. The school authorities hope to be in a position to invite tenders shortly.
70. Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to the fact that two new classrooms have been recommended for Portlaw boys national school, Portlaw, County Waterford, despite the fact that there is a necessity for at least four additional classrooms; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): The proposed accommodation brief for Portlaw national school includes provision for two new classrooms and, I am pleased to say, a general purposes room in line with my recent policy initiative in this area.
I am satisfied that this additional provision together with the existing facilities at the school will be fully adequate to meet the future accommodation needs of the school.
This project has been included in the national school capital programme and the architectural planning has been initiated.
75. Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Education if she will set up a special unit within her Department to deal with the increasing levels of stress and burnout among primary and post-primary teachers; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): I refer the Deputy to my reply to Questions Nos. 95, 110 and 347 of 6 October on the matter of stress and burnout.
In that reply I stated that improvements which I am making in the education system at school level will have a beneficial effect in reducing stress in the  teaching profession. The following initiatives, which will, I believe, help the teachers, are in place: the pupil-teacher ratios have been improved at both primary and post-primary levels; I have introduced a scheme of job-sharing for all post-primary teachers; under the terms of the Programme for Social and Economic Progress ex-quota vice-principals have been appointed and additional guidance services provided in the larger schools; home-school-community liaison schemes have been introduced for primary and post-primary schools in disadvantaged areas; and my Department has issued comprehensive guidelines on a code of discipline for schools.
The introduction of revised and alternative curricula at both junior and senior cycle of second level education will give pupils a wider choice of programmes suitable to their needs and abilities and provide greater motivation for all students to take an active part in school life.
I believe that these initiatives will help to reduce major causes of stress which have been identified by teachers themselves.
Much publicity has been given to the demands for early retirement in the context of increased levels of stress experienced by teachers. The teacher unions have claimed enhanced early retirement arrangements for their members. Negotiations on these claims are taking place within the Teachers' Conciliation Council. Under the terms of the Conciliation and arbitration scheme for teachers, the proceedings of the council are confidential.
The council has issued a statement indicating that all sides have agreed to participate in a working group of the council at which all outstanding aspects of the claims can be examined. All parties agreed that discussions in the working group will be substantive and will be concluded by 30 September, 1994.
A working party consisting of representatives of management, teachers and my Department is being set up for the purpose of bringing forward proposals for the establishment of a welfare  service for teachers. The question of stress and burnout will be considered in this context.
77. Mr. Barry asked the Minister for Education the number of schools in Cork which were seriously vandalised or suffered arson attacks in the last five years; the amount of damage caused; the cost of repairing this damage; the measures, if any, that have been implemented or contemplated to deal with this problem; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
189. Mr. Barry asked the Minister for Education the amount and extent of damage caused to primary, secondary and vocational schools in Cork city; the way in which the trend compares to other urban areas; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): I propose to take Questions Nos. 77 and 189 together. Detailed information is not available on the number of schools in Cork damaged by vandalism, the extent of such vandalism or the cost of repairs.
Security of school buildings is a matter for the school authorities in the first instance. In the case of primary, secondary and vocational schools the cost of repairing damage from vandalism is borne by the schools' insurance and my Department is not normally provided with details. There are therefore no specific figures available in respect of those schools for the costs arising directly from vandalism.
At post-primary level all new schools and major extensions are designed with provision for intruder alarm systems. Alarm systems may also be provided as resources permit in existing second-level schools where the need is established. Grants are also provided for such systems in national schools in high-risk urban areas. In addition security lighting and perimeter fencing is provided where the particular circumstances of the school  warrant it. Many schools, particularly in the large urban areas, have also found it necessary to employ security guards to protect their buildings.
In the case of ten schools in the Finglas area of Dublin, which have been heavily vandalised, a pilot scheme on school security is being operated to provide night security involving a guard and guard dogs. The scheme is being monitored on an ongoing basis and will be reviewed at the end of the current school year.
79. Mr. Durkan asked the Taoiseach the number of people on the unemployment register in Athy, County Kildare, for each of the years 1987 to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The Taoiseach: The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the following table.
Number of persons on the Live Register in Employment Exchanges in Athy, County Kildare on the last Friday of April from 1987 to date.
Note: There is a discontinuity in the series because of revised statistical coverage from May 1992.
80. Mr. J. Higgins asked the Minister for Finance, in view of his replies to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 87, 88 and 89 of the 28 April 1994, if he will sanction the recruitment of additional workers for bridge building purposes in view of applications received and interviews carried out for this purpose.
Minister of State at the Department of Finance (Mr. Dempsey): Eight seasonal workers started work yesterday, 30 May on the Boyle Catchment Drainage Scheme. A ninth operative is due to start work on Wednesday. They will be employed mainly on bridge works.
81. Mr. J. Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance whether he will support the establishment of the ECU, including the issue of notes and coins, as a parallel rather than a replacement legal tender currency in all member states, to be available alongside national currencies; his assessment of the monetary, economic and political feasibility of such a proposal as compared to a single currency; the role for a European central bank in relation to such a parallel currency; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Finance (Mr. B. Ahern): The idea of the ECU as a parallel rather than a replacement currency was considered in the period leading up to the Treaty on European Union, but the member states decided to take a different route. This is set out in the Treaty. In brief, it requires the substitution of national currencies by a single currency in stage three of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), when the participants in European Monetary Union will have achieved the required degree of convergence in their economies. The single currency will thus be based on a firm foundation of sound and convergent economic performance by the participants in European Monetary Union.
The single currency will be administered by the European Central Bank. The main advantages of a single currency are of course the elimination of exchange rate risk and transaction charges in trade between participating countries and the provision of low interest rates and a stable environment for investors.
A parallel currency would not offer such advantages. Furthermore, its introduction  would be inconsistent with the fact that monetary policy will remain the responsibility of the member states until the beginning of stage three of European Monetary Union, and would require the creation of a new central authority, complete with adequate resources, to administer it and support its value. I see no desire among member states to take these steps.
The European Central Bank provided for in the Treaty will be established only when the decision to move to stage three of European Monetary Union has been taken or, at the latest, immediately after 1 July 1998.
82. Mr. B. Fitzgerald asked the Minister for Finance the number of tourist shoot-promoters who submitted bag-returns in the year 1993; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
83. Mr. B. Fitzgerald asked the Minister for Finance if he will give details of extensions of the open season order under the Wildlife Act, 1976, granted to shoot-promoters in the 1993-94 season; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
84. Mr. B. Fitzgerald asked the Minister for Finance if he will make it compulsory for tourist shoot-promoters to produce tax clearance certificates before being issued with gun days by the National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Office of Public Works; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
87. Mr. B. Fitzgerald asked the Minister for Finance the number of tourist shoot-promoters who submitted maps to the National Parks and Wildlife Service outlining their shooting areas during the 1993-94 season; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
88. Mr. B. Fitzgerald asked the Minister for Finance the basis on which gun days being issued to tourist shoot-promoters are assessed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister of State at the Department of Finance (Mr. Dempsey): I propose to take Questions Nos. 82, 83, 84, 87 and 88 together.
In an effort to assess the impact of tourist shooting particularly on migratory species, returns of game bags were requested from promoters. A total of 57 returns were received for the 1993/1994 hunting season. In addition the National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS) Rangers regularly check shooting parties and inspect game bags. An analysis of both of these indicate minimal impact on numbers. I believe that these are very important measures in assessing the impact of commercial shooting on wild birds particularly migratory species over the years.
Thirty-seven licences were issued to hunt pen-reared hen pheasants during the open season for cock pheasants from 1 November 1993 to 31 January 1994. Twelve licences were issued to hunt pen-reared pheasants after the open season closed on 31 January 1994. These licences ranged from five to 28 days and averaged 13 days. Three licences were issued to hunt pen-reared partridge up to 31 January 1994.
The assessment and allocation of “gun-days” to tourist shoot promoters by the NPWS does not involve the award of a contract by the Commissioners of Public Works and, consequently, does not fall within the ambit of the tax clearance procedure for public sector bodies and I have no plans to extend this procedure to such situations.
Tourist shoot promoters have to submit details (leases, maps, etc.) of their shooting rights to the NPWS so that these can be assessed for “gun day” capacity and hunting licences are granted or refused with reference to these assessments. Maps are requested to assist in identifying lands, but in most cases shooting lands are well known and long established. In particular copies of Coillte leases which do not contain maps are  usually sufficient to identify the lands. In the 1993/1994 season 12 tourist shoot operators submitted maps.
Gun days are issued based on an assessment of the shooting capacity of the lands in question. In general allocations would be based on 1,000 acres per day per three guns. However, if a considerable amount of commonage is included, the number of guns would be reduced to one-two guns per 1,000 acres. With regards to Coillte lettings, the general rule of thumb would be 140 acres per day per gun. These are general criteria and each case is assessed on its own merit at the time.
85. Mr. B. Fitzgerald asked the Minister for Finance if the normal employer/ employee relationship in relation to the collection of PAYE/PRSI exists between tourist shoot-promoters and their gillies: and the number of gillies that came within the PAYE net on the basis of their earnings from tourist shooting during the last tax year.
Minister for Finance (Mr. B. Ahern): I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that separate records of the tax position of tourist shoot-promoters and their gillies are not kept. In any case where a payment is made whether tax and PRSI should be deducted under the PAYE system would depend on the circumstances of the case and in particular the terms of the contract under which the services of the gillies are engaged.
86. Mr. B. Fitzgerald asked the Minister for Finance if hotels involved in tourist shooting need special tax clearance certificates regarding profits from the sale of shooting or if such profits are included in the normal hotel business; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Finance (Mr. B. Ahern): I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a tax clearance certificate is not required to operate shooting activities as set out in the question. The profits from these activities should be included as part of a hotel's profits in the returns made to the Revenue Commissioners.
Tax clearance procedures have been in operation for public contracts and grants since June 1986 and March 1988 respectively. In 1992, I announced that tax clearance would be extended to a broad range of licences concentrating initially on licences issued by the Revenue Commissioners. The scope of the tax clearance procedures as a means of ensuring that tax obligations are complied with is kept under active review. I have no plans at present to extend tax clearance to the area of tourist shooting.
89. Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Finance the number of artists who have been granted tax exemption status by the Revenue Commissioners; the breakdown by type of artist, that is visual, composer, written or other type; and the breakdown of the numbers granted such status over each of the past five years.
Minister for Finance (Mr. B. Ahern): I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that statistics are not recorded in such a manner as would enable the precise information requested by the Deputy to be provided. Such information could not be obtained without undertaking inquiries which could be carried out only at a disproportionate cost.
The only relevant information available is in respect of the total number of individuals who successfully applied for tax exemption under section 2 of the Finance Act, 1969, in the five income tax years ending on 5 April 1994. Following is that information:
|Tax Year||Number of individuals granted the relief|
90. Mr. Creed asked the Minister for Finance if he will have arrangements made for a refund of VAT to be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Cork
Minister for Finance (Mr. B. Ahern): I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that a cheque in the amount of £1,866.10 in full and final settlement of the claim has been issued to the taxpayer.
91. Proinsias De Rossa asked the Minister for Social Welfare if he will extend the free telephone rental allowance to old age pensioners who have retired from local authority staff positions and who are currently disqualified because they are not in receipt of a Department of Social Welfare pension.
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The free telephone rental allowance administered by my Department is available only to people who are in receipt of certain welfare type payments and who are either living alone or only with children or persons who, because they are so permanently incapacitated,  could not get help in an emergency. The number of people getting the allowance at present is about 114,000 at an annual cost of some £20 million.
Depending on the level of the pension, a person in receipt of an occupational pension may be entitled to receive an old age (non-contributory) pension from my Department at a reduced rate and, if he or she is so entitled and can satisfy the living alone condition of the scheme, he or she will qualify for the free telephone rental allowance. Extending the allowance to categories who do not qualify under the current conditions would have financial implications and could only be considered in a budgetary context.
92. Mr. J. Mitchell asked the Minister for Social Welfare the total number of persons and the percentage they represent of the population in receipt of unemployment benefit, unemployment assistance, supplementary welfare allowance, disability benefit, invalidity pension and old age pension in Inchicore, Dublin 8; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): Statistics in relation to social welfare recipients are not available in a way that would provide the information the Deputy has requested in relation to Inchicore. Statistics on social welfare recipients in the wider area, which includes Dolphin's Barn, Islandbridge, Kilmainham as well as Inchicore, along with percentages they represent of the national recipient population for each scheme, are set out in the following table.
Number of Recipients of Social Welfare Schemes May 1994
|Scheme||Recipients||Percentage of national recipients by scheme|
|Supplementary Welfare Allowance*||414||2.5|
|Old Age Contributory/Retirement Pension||3,222||2.5|
|Old Age Non-Contributory Pension||644||0.6|
93. Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Social Welfare if he will amend the rules governing supplementary welfare so that persons who are at work, either part-time or on low wages, can qualify for rent supplements and other assistance under the supplementary welfare scheme with the only test being the net income available to the household in question.
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): Under the legislation governing the supplementary welfare allowance (SWA) Scheme, people in full-time employment are excluded, in all but exceptional circumstances, from receipt of an allowance. People in part-time employment may qualify for assistance under the SWA scheme including rent supplements, subject to the normal rules for the scheme. For the purpose of SWA part-time employment is employment of less than 30 hours per week.
The extension of entitlement to rent supplements and other assistance under the supplementary welfare allowance scheme to people in full-time employment would have major financial implications for social welfare and assistance with housing costs.
The family income supplement (FIS) scheme is designed to provide cash support for employees on low earnings with families. At the end of April 1994 there were 9,741 families in receipt of a FIS payment compared to 7,187 at the end of April 1993. I will be increasing the qualifying income limits for the scheme by an additional £10 from the end of July 1994 which will ensure that the uptake of this employment support is extended to more families on low incomes.
94. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Social Welfare if he will give the purpose and venue of the recent visit to Greece by the Minister of State at his Department; the duration of the visit; the details of persons who travelled with the Minister; and the total cost of the visit in respect of travel, accommodation and other costs.
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The Minister of State at the Department of Social Welfare, Deputy Joan Burton, was formally invited to attend an international conference on equal opportunities between men and women which was held under the Greek EU Presidency in Thessalonika from 15-18 May 1994.
The Minister of State presented a paper to this conference on “Social Dialogue and Women”, a copy of which will be made available to the Deputy.
The Minister of State then visited projects under the EU Poverty 3 Programme, in Western Thessalonika. She met with the single parent group in the project, to view their work and the various activities carried on in the centre and with a Romany group, where a special education project is being carried out in their camp site.
She also attended a meeting of the European anti-poverty network which was taking place in Thessalonika at the time and had discussions with the representative of the central unit of the Poverty  3 Programme. The Minister of State did full interviews with the press and TV and bilateral discussions also took place with a number of delegations regarding future EU poverty programmes.
The Minister of State was accompanied by her husband and two officials. The costs of the Minister of State and one official will be met by the EU. Full details of the remaining costs are not available at present but are likely to be in the region of £1,250.
95. Mr. Harte asked the Minister for Social Welfare if his attention has been drawn to the fact that persons in receipt of old age pension in County Donegal, particularly in Inishowen and East Donegal, who are holders of free travel passes cannot avail of the free travel through Northern Ireland if the bus journey on their way to County Donegal from Dublin terminates in Northern Ireland, that is, a person en route to Donegal travelling on a CIE bus to Derry will only be given free travel to Moy Bridge, County Monaghan, which means people from Inishowen who have no alternative transport and travel on a CIE bus to Derry are being discriminated against; if his attention has further been drawn to the fact that some old age pensioners, unaware of their entitlements, are being asked for and are paying the full Derry to Dublin and Dublin to Derry return fares; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): Under my Department's free travel scheme, a pass holder who wishes to travel from Dublin to Inishowen or Inishowen to Dublin via Derry on the Derry/Dublin bus service, can travel free of charge for the full journey. This special arrangement has been in place for a number of years.
The part of the journey taken in Northern Ireland must be covered by a travel warrant. A travel warrant is a form completed by the pensioner, referring to the  part of his or her journey in Northern Ireland, which is submitted subsequently by Bus Éireann or Ulster Bus to my Department for payment on a “fares lost” basis.
A pass holder wishing to travel on the Dublin/Derry route may obtain a travel warrant form from Bus Éireann in Dublin (Busáras) or Monaghan, or from the Ulster Bus Depot in Derry. There is no charge to the pass holder for this warrant.
In the light of the Deputy's question, my Department has contacted CIE to remind Bus Éireann staff of this free facility, and to ensure that relevant free travel pass holders requiring to travel between Inishowen and Dublin are not asked to pay for any portion of their journey.
96. Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Justice if reports that it is intended to convert Colaiste Caoimhim, Parnell Road, Dublin 12, into a probation centre are correct; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
109. Mr. Upton asked the Minister for Justice the plans, if any, she has to locate a probation centre or similar institution at Colaiste Caoimhin, Parnell Road, Dublin 12; the feasibility studies, if any, that have been carried out in relation to such a proposal; and if the owners of Colaiste Caoimhin have been in contact with her Department in relation to this matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Geoghegan-Quinn): I propose to take Questions Nos. 96 and 109 together.
I am interested in acquiring this property to assist the Probation and Welfare Service in its work. The service is having preliminary discussions with the owners and contact has been made with the local community to see how such a facility might be operated to the best advantage of all concerned.
97. Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Justice if the Garda can be of assistance in protecting the home and family of a person (details supplied) in Dublin city as raised in correspondence to her by the person concerned.
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn): The matter referred to by the Deputy is primarily a matter for the professional judgement of the Garda authorities who have been in contact with the person concerned.
98. Mr. B. Fitzgerald asked the Minister for Justice the number of shotgun certificates issued in each Garda district in the year 1993 in accordance with the provision of the Firearms Act, 1925, showing an endorsement under the Wildlife Act, 1976, to out-of-State shooters; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn): Firearm certificates for shotguns are issued to non-residents by the Wildlife Service of the Office of Public Works, on behalf of my Department. The statistics available from the Wildlife Service are as follows: 1993 — (a) Number of certificates, 3,856; (b) Number of second or subsequent certificates, 956.
In the case of all certificates at (a) the Wildlife Service also endorse a licence under the Wildlife Act, 1976 on the certificate for the hunting of protected wild birds and hare.
99. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Justice, in relation to the 1974 Dublin-Monaghan bombings, if the Garda were informed twenty years ago by three independent witnesses that a man still living in Portadown, County Armagh, whose name is in the possession of the Garda, was the Parnell Street bomber; if so, the reason he has not been extradited into the jurisdiction to stand trial for murder; the plans, if any, she has to extradite him; and if not, the reason therefor.
100. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Justice the reason on 17 May 1974, one and a half hours after three no-warning car bombs exploded in the centre of Dublin city, no road-blocks were in place at the Border into the Republic to prevent bombers driving across the Border into Monaghan town, planting a bomb and returning across the Border again.
103. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Justice the reason the then Garda Commissioner instructed that forensic evidence gathered in the wake of the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings be sent to Northern Ireland; if records were kept by Garda of all forensic evidence and information handed over to British officers; if the Garda had any further contact or were informed as to the way in which this information was used; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
104. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Justice whether the Garda are in possession of British intelligence notes which name at least two men living in Scotland as being responsible for the Dublin and Monaghan bombings; if so, the reason steps have not been taken to extradite these men into this jurisdiction to stand trial for murder; the plans, if any, she has to do so; and, if not, the reason therefor.
105. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Justice if during any of her frequent meetings with British representatives including the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Sir Patrick Mayhew, she has raised the issue of the alleged non-co-operation of the RUC in the Garda investigation of the 1974 bombings; if so, if she will make a statement on the matter; and, if not, if she intends to raise it.
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn): I propose to take Questions Nos. 99, 100, 103, 104 and 105 together.
 As I indicated in response to question 102 from the Deputy on 19 April 1994, I have undertaken to inform the relatives of the victims of the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings of my evaluation of the Garda assessment of the contents of the Yorkshire Television programme on the bombings before issuing a public statement on the matter. Out of courtesy to the relatives and in the interest of making a comprehensive public statement in due course, I do not consider that it would be appropriate for me to respond to the detailed questions now being put by the Deputy. As stated in the reply to the aforementioned question, I have sought certain additional information and advice to enable me to comply with the undertaking I have given. I can assure the Deputy that everything possible is being done to fulfil this undertaking as a matter of urgency.
101. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Justice if her attention has been drawn to the fact that, in spite of the rule that gardaí are not permitted to deal directly with the British army and that all security liaison must take place through the RUC, there is evidence that, immediately before the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings, at least two British intelligence officers were brought covertly to Dublin by Garda officers and that one of these officers is still a serving member.
102. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Justice, in view of the rule that gardaí are not permitted to deal directly with the British army and that all security liaison must take place through the RUC, the steps, if any, that were taken to discipline a person (details supplied) who publicly admitted in a newspaper interview (details supplied) that he had worked directly with British M15 and M16 agents and with British special military intelligence officers; if this person was authorised to do so; if so, if those who gave the authorisation were disciplined; if not, the reason therefore; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn): I propose to take Questions Nos. 101 and 102 together.
It is not the usual practice for Ministers for Justice to make statements to the House about matters of this kind. However, in view of the insinuation contained in Question No. 101, I consider it appropriate, in this instance, to state that the Garda authorities have no evidence of such an incident having taken place at the time specified. The only other comment I would make is that this Government, like all its predecessors, would be opposed to any practice which would tend to undermine in any way the principle of police primacy in this State.
106. Mr. Barry asked the Minister for Justice the number of persons given early release from prison since January 1993; the number of releases that were as a result of representations made by Members of the Oireachtas; and the counties where the people who were released normally reside.
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn): The precise information sought by the Deputy is not readily available and could not be obtained without an unwarranted expenditure of staff time.
The latest statistics available, compiled for the Annual Reports on Prisons and Places of Detention, indicates that some 2,700 prisoners a year are granted full temporary release. In addition, around 2,800 prisoners are granted varying lengths of renewable temporary release. There would, of course, be some element of duplication of individuals in these releases. Incidently, the total number of persons committed to custody annually is now running at about 10,000, and at any time there are between 2,100 and 2,200 in custody.
107. Mr. Connaughton asked the Minister for Justice the number of local Garda stations in the Garda district of Roscommon-East Galway which are open to the public for periods of up to two hours each day; the number of such stations in the year 1984; the number of gardaí in the Roscommon-East Galway division in each of the years 1984 and 1994; the number of fully manned Garda stations in this division in each of the years 1984 and 1994; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn): There were 37 Garda stations in the Roscommon-East Galway division in 1984 and this remains the position. Five of these stations are district headquarters stations and are fully manned on a 24 hour basis. This was also the position in 1984.
There were 32 stations open up to two hours per day in 1984. At present 28 stations are open up to two hours per day, three stations are open for three hours per day for four days of the week and one station is open for one hour per day for three days of the week.
The strength of the division was 247 on 31 March 1994 compared with 260 on 31 December 1984. It is Garda management's policy to keep manning levels in all Garda divisions under constant review.
108. Mr. Kirk asked the Minister for Justice the present regulatory arrangements for operating private security firms; and if she intends bringing forward changes in this area.
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn): I would refer the Deputy to my answer of 27 April 1994 to a parliamentary question which dealt with the issue of statutory control over private investigators — see Volumn 442, No. 1. The answer I gave on that occasion also  applies to the operation of private security firms.
110. Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Justice the average delay in completing land registry transactions; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn): I am informed by the Registrar of Titles that the average time taken to complete the various categories of Land Registry business is as follows:
|Examiner/section 49 cases||16.1 months|
|Copy Maps||25 days|
|Land Certificates||1.8 months|
|Copy Folios and Instruments||21 days|
|Land Commission cases||Non-priority*|
*Land Commission cases are deemed “registered” from date of Land Commission vesting; final registration effected only if further transaction arises.
As regards steps taken to deal with delays in the Land Registry, additional staff have been appointed and a considerable investment is being made in computerisation and information technology. Over each of the past four years, annual output in the Land Registry has exceeded the annual intake of business thus reducing the arrears level.
As the Deputy will be aware the Government have decided to reconstitute the Land Registry and Registry of Deeds as a commercial semi-State body. The change-over to a semi-State body is being done in order to give the registries the commercial orientation and flexibility that will enable them to provide a fast efficient and modern service to the public and to adapt to the changing demands of this technological age.
111. Mr. Currie asked the Minister for Enterprise and Employment whether inquiries into allegations against a financial institution, details of which were supplied to him in a letter dated 12 April 1994, have been completed; and, if so, the action, if any, taken or intended.
Minister for Enterprise and Employment (Mr. Quinn): The Registrar of Friendly Societies is responsible for the supervision of the financial institution to which the Deputy refers. He is an independent statutory officer appointed by me with powers and duties under various Acts. My functions in this area relate to general policy matters and legislation and not to the day to day matters of the registry. I am informed by the Registrar that the financial institution in question has been and continues to be the subject of close scrutiny by him.
112. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Enterprise and Employment the number of jobs created in Athy, County Kildare, in each of the years from 1987 to date; the number of jobs lost in the same period; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Enterprise and Employment (Mr. Quinn): I presume the Deputy is referring to jobs created and lost in companies assisted by agencies operating under the aegis of my Department. This is a matter for the day to day administration of the agencies, and not one in which I have a direct function.
Nevertheless, I am informed that the number of jobs, gains*, created by companies assisted by the former IDA in Athy in manufacturing and internationally traded services and the number of jobs lost by the same companies in the period 1987 to 1993 are as follows:
* Job gains — this figure includes first time jobs and job recoveries.
IDA Ireland and Forbairt will continue to promote Athy for industrial investment.
113. Mr. McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment in view of the fact that the introduction of the concept of designated streets is aimed at encouraging increased residential occupation in town and city centres, if the Government has established minimum proportions of street development; and if so, the minimum proportion of street development in each urban area.
114. Mr. McGrath asked the Minister for the Environment in view of the introduction of the new scheme or urban renewal relief, the guidelines, if any, which he has established to determine the proportion of development which will come under the heading of designated streets; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. M. Smith): I propose to take Questions Nos. 113 and 114 together.
The new urban renewal scheme, which will commence on 1 August 1994, will include, on a pilot basis, a new scheme aimed at encouraging living over the business premises in three streets in each of the five county boroughs. The streets concerned will be designated as soon as possible. Under the pilot scheme, taxation incentives will be available in  respect of the refurbishment and conversion of existing buildings for residential purposes, and in cases where such refurbishment or conversion is being carried out, tax allowances will also be available in respect of the commercial part of the premises.
115. Mr. J. Mitchell asked the Minister for the Environment if his attention has been drawn to the planning and social problems which are arising in Dublin city as a result of the Local Government (Dublin) Act, 1993, which restricts Dublin Corporation's house building programme to within the city boundary; in the circumstances, the plans, if any, he has to ease the restriction and/or phase it in over a period of years; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Mr. Stagg): I am not aware of any such problems. My understanding is that Dublin Corporation's 1994 house building programme is, in similar fashion to 1993, being met in full by the construction or acquisition of dwellings within the corporation's functional area.
116. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for the Environment if EU funding will be made available for the proposed dump at Kill, County Kildare, if it obtains planning permission.
117. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for the Environment if EU funding will be sought to provide a reduction/reuse/recycling/composting system of waste management in Ireland, in keeping with EU policy and directives on waste.
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Mr. Browne,: Wexford): I propose to take Questions Nos. 116 and 117 together.
Provision is being made within the  environmental services operational programme of the National Development Plan 1994-1999 for a sub-programme on solid waste. This will deal with the improvement of waste management systems and infrastructure. EU co-financing is being negotiated in this regard for improving recycling infrastructure, for the development of waste management strategies at county or regional level and for the provision of hazardous waste infrastructure.
It is not envisaged, within the resources available, that this solid waste sub-programme will extend to the development of landfill facilities, as was the case in relation to two individual projects — in Kerry and Dublin — under the Interim Cohesion Fund arrangements in 1993-1994.
118. Mr. Ellis asked the Minister for the Environment if he will pay a new house grant to a person (details supplied) in County Sligo.
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Mr. Stagg): An inspection, with a view to payment of the grant, will be carried out as soon as possible.
119. Mr. Barry asked the Minister for the Environment if he intends to introduce regulations under EC Directive 91/157 on batteries and accumulators containing dangerous substances; the marketing of these and the way in which they are collected and disposed of.
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Mr. Browne,: Wexford): The European Communities (Dangerous Substances and Preparations) (Marketing and Use) Regulations, 1994 (S.I. No. 79 of 1994), which were made by the Minister for Enterprise and Employment on 6 April 1994, give effect, inter alia, to certain provisions of Council Directive 91/157/EEC concerning the marking and marketing of  batteries and accumulators. I will make further regulations very shortly to require spent batteries and accumulators should be readily removable from appliances, so as to facilitate their segregation from normal waste streams. Proposals are being developed for measures to secure the separate collection of spent batteries and accumulators, with a view to their recovery or safe disposal.
120. Mr. J. Higgins asked the Minister for the Environment the number and value of contracts on national primary roads which were allocated to Irish-registered companies and foreign-registered companies in each of the years 1991 to 1993.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. M. Smith): This information is being compiled and will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.
121. Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for the Environment his views on the proposal from the Greek presidency of the EU Environment Ministers' Council on 8-9 June concerning an energy/CO 2 tax; the position he intends to take on the proposal; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. M. Smith): Discussions have been underway for some time at EU Council level on a proposal from the European Commission for a carbon-energy tax. The Irish position is that we would be prepared to support the introduction of such a tax provided certain concerns are satisfactorily addressed. These concerns relate to ensuring that any agreement takes account of the different levels of economic and social development in individual member states; satisfactory provision as regards the impact on the peat sector and the maintenance of the competitiveness of EU industry generally  and of energy intensive industries facing competition from firms not subject to similar charges.
The Greek Presidency proposals on the carbon-energy tax will be considered at the Committee of Permanent Representatives on June 1 before being examined by the Environment Council on 8-9 June. The Irish position will be framed having regard to the concerns which I have outlined.
122. Mr. McCormack asked the Minister for the Environment the number of traveller families settled by each county council and county borough council in halting site accommodation; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Mr. Stagg): The number of traveller families accommodated on halting sites at 26 November 1993 is set out in the column headed “Trailers on Sites” in Part X of my Department's Annual Housing Statistics Bulletin 1993, copies of which are in the Oireachtas Library.
123. Mr. McCormack asked the Minister for the Environment the policy of his Department regarding the settlement of traveller families to ensure that each local authority area plays its part in solving this problem.
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Mr. Stagg): Government policy on the provision of accommodation for travellers is set out on page 36 of the Programme for a Partnership Government, 1993-97. Last year, I asked all housing authorities to include in their 1994 housing programmes, unless it can be shown not to be necessary, realistic and feasible halting site proposals. The response was positive and my Department has recently written to the authorities seeking information on progress with their proposals.
124. Mr. McCormack asked the Minister for the Environment when a new sewerage system will be provided for Roundstone, County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. M. Smith): There is no proposal with my Department for this scheme.
125. Mr. Crowley asked the Minister for the Environment when a decision will be made regarding an application for the improvement works scheme with regard to a person (details supplied) in County Cork.
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Mr. Stagg): Approval has already issued to the council in this case.
126. Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Defence if he will allow mail and other communications to personnel serving in Lebanon and overseas to be charged at ordinary rates in view of the fact that the cost of postage can be substantial in some cases; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Defence (Mr. Andrews): The rates charged for mail and telephone communications to Lebanon and other overseas missions are the responsibility of An Post and Telecom Éireann which come within the remit of the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications.
There are concessionary postage rates for personnel serving in Lebanon and Somalia. A comparison between full and concessionary rates is as follows:
|Full Rate||Concessionary Rate|
|Newspapers||£4.88 for 320g(average)||32p per copy|
|Letters||52p per 20g||44p for 20g|
 There is also provision by the Department of Defence of free monthly telephone calls home to Ireland for personnel serving with all unaccompanied overseas missions.
127. Mr. Flanagan asked the Minister for the Marine if he will make a statement on the use of organo-phosphorous insecticides in fish farming; and whether the use of such substances has been replaced because of adverse consequences on the environment.
Minister for the Marine (Mr. Andrews): In so far as I have a function in this matter it derives from my statutory role as licensing authority for all fish farming operations governing their location, management, fish husbandry and production parameters. The use of all veterinary medical products is regulated under legislation administered by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, while the National Drugs Advisory Board is the competent product-licensing authority under EU and national legislation.
An organo-phosphorous insecticide based on dichlorvos — tradename Nuvan — has been used for some years by the salmon farming industry to control sea lice on farmed salmon. The National Drugs Advisory Board, as the assessor for the product licence for Nuvan, approved its use in the aquatic environment. International findings indicate that, properly used, dichlorvos poses no risk to public health. There is also no evidence to suggest that its use in fish farming has had an adverse impact on fish or on the environment. The active ingredient does not persist in the marine environment. Very little dichlorvos enters the salmon flesh where, in any event, it would be broken down rapidly.
The sea trout task force in its report published last March recommended that the elimination of sea lice on and in the vicinity of sea farms should be a constant priority of management and regulatory practice. In line with those recommendations  every effort is being made to ensure that sea lice levels at fish farms are controlled through the use of effective treatment and other lice-eliminating measures. Ongoing results from the Department's lice monitoring programmes show that lice levels are being controlled at satisfactorily low levels. Enhanced fish farm management and fallowing strategies are also being deployed in controlling lice levels and should commensurately reduce the need for applied treatment for lice control.
128. Mr. Flanagan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry if he will make a statement on the use by Irish farmers of organo-phosphorous sheep dips in view of allegations of adverse effects on health.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): The safety of all veterinary medicinal products, including sheep dips, is a matter for the National Drugs Advisory Board.
129. Mr. Flanagan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry if a farm development grant will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Offaly; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): There is no outstanding grant payment due to the person named. An application in respect of land improvement has been received from him and is currently being processed.
130. Mr. Crawford asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry when a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan will be paid for his farm building job.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): Having regard to the level of claims currently on hands,  I expect that payment will be made within the next few weeks.
131. Mr. J. Higgins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the reason a person (details supplied) in County Galway whose herd has been turned down because of TB has not received compensation.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): The reactor grant in question will be processed on receipt of a statement from the Co-operative of total milk supplied in the previous calendar year.
132. Mr. J. Higgins asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the reason for the non-payment of beef premium to a person (details supplied) in County Mayo.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): The person named applied for the January 1993 special beef premium in respect of four animals. Payment was rejected as he sold these animals at a mart without having the identity cards punched before sale as required under the terms and conditions of the scheme.
133. Mr. Crowley asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry when a beef premium and suckler cow grant will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Cork.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): The person named applied for special beef premium on eight animals in January-February 1993. The ages declared on this application were inconsistent with the ages declared for the same eight animals on an application lodged in November-December 1992 for the ten month special beef premium. The problem has now been resolved and payment will be made shortly.
He also applied in November 1993 for special beef premium on 47 ten-month and 41 22-month animals. While processing  these for payment my Department found that there were invalid tag numbers on both applications. These problems have now been resolved following clarification from the herdowner and payment will be made as soon as possible.
The closing date for receipt of applications under the 1994 deseasonalisation slaughter premium scheme was last Friday, 27 May. Applications are now being processed with a view to payment as soon as possible.
No 1993 suckler cow application was received from the person named.
134. Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry when a beef premium will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): The person named applied for grants on three animals under the June 1993 ten-month special beef premium and three animals under the June 1993 22-month scheme. The applications were rejected at a computer validation check because of invalid tag numbers. This problem has now been resolved and payment will be made shortly.
He did not apply for grants under the special beef premium scheme in the November 1993 application period.
135. Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry when a beef premium will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): My Department is unable to trace a herd number for the person named. The herd number quoted is not a valid number.
136. Mr. E. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the reason there is delay in payment of a mulder quota to a person (details supplied) in County Cork.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): The offer of compensation made by my Department on behalf of the European Union was accepted in this case on 16 February 1994.
Payments are at present being processed and will be made as soon as possible.
137. Mr. Crawford asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry when a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan will be paid the balance of his headage, suckler cow, beef cow grants and his January 1993, 22-month beef premium.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): The person named was paid an advance of his 1993 beef cow grant on 23 December 1993. The application is being processed further at present and any balance due will be paid in the near future.
His applications under the 1993 suckler cow and January 1993 special beef premia schemes are being processed at present and any payments due will also be made in the near future.
138. Mr. Crawford asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry when the final payment of ewe premium and suckler cow grants will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Cavan.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): Payment of the final instalment of the 1993 ewe premium will be made to the person named shortly.
He was paid an advance under the 1993 suckler cow scheme on 1 December 1993. His application is being processed further at present and any balance due will be paid in the near future.
139. Mr. Crawford asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry when beef cow and suckler cow grants will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): The person  named was paid the balance of his 1993 cattle headage grant on 15 February 1994. He cannot be paid any 1993 suckler cow premium as he has no suckler cow quota and he did not apply for a quota from the national reserve.
140. Mr. Moynihan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the up-to-date position regarding the proposed sale of land (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he has made arrangements in this regard.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): Arrangements for surveying and valuing the land in question are now in train and will be completed shortly. This is necessary in order to properly define the property and establish a fair market value preparatory to sale.
A number of parties have so far expressed an interest in acquiring the land in question. One of these parties has very recently transmitted to my Department, via the Chief State Solicitor's Office, an offer for part of the property. This offer will be evaluated in the context of decisions relating to disposal of the property as a whole.
141. Mr. Nealon asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry when the remainder of cattle headage grant will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Leitrim.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): The application of the person named for grants under the 1993 cattle headage scheme is being processed further at present and the balance due will issue shortly.
142. Mr. Crowley asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry when beef premium grants will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Cork.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): The person named applied for the June 1993 special  beef premium in respect of nine animals for the ten-month scheme. Four of the animals were found to have incorrect tag numbers following computer checks. As these have now been resolved his application is being processed and any payment due will issue in the near future. His application for the November 1993 special beef premium is being processed at present and any payment due will issue shortly.
143. Mrs. T. Ahearn asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry when a headage payment, applied for in January 1993, will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): The person named applied for special beef premium on 31 animals in January-February 1993. He was paid the full amount of £1,529.17 on 29 animals on foot of this application on 13 May 1994. The remaining two animals were ineligible because he did not submit the identity cards for these animals for stamping and punching as required under the terms and conditions of the scheme.
144. Mr. Molloy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the reason for the delay in payment of beef premium and suckler cow grants to a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and when he expects that payment will issue.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): The applications of the person named for premia under the 1993 suckler cow premium scheme, January 1993 special beef scheme, June 1993 special beef scheme and November 1993 special beef scheme are being processed at present and payments due will be made within the next two weeks.
145. Mr. Molloy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the reason for the delay in payment of suckler cow grants for the years 1992 and 1993 to a person (details supplied) in County Galway; and when payment will issue.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): The person named applied for premium on 11 animals under the December 1992 suckler cow premium scheme. However, at an inspection of his herd it transpired that he had included an in-calf heifer in his application. Under the terms and conditions of this scheme as laid down by the EU, applicants could apply for premium only in respect of genuine suckler cows and they should not include in-calf heifers. As a result of this incorrect declaration the person named is not entitled, in accordance with the EU regulations, to any payment under the 1992 and 1993 suckler cow schemes.
146. Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry when a 1993 suckler cow grant will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Donegal.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): The person named has already been paid full grants under the 1993 suckler cow premium scheme.
147. Ms McManus asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry in view of the allocation of funding for food research, if he will give a breakdown of the projects involved; the allocation that is made for technological research in the food industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): The expert group on the food industry, which was established in response to a recommendation of the Culliton report, undertook a comprehensive review of the Irish food industry. A key recommendation of  the expert group's report was the need to support food research and development activities.
The group also recommended the drawing up of a new national programme for the food industry. This programme, which will take the form of a special sub-programme in the next round of the Structural Funds, includes support for research and development, as well as providing assistance for capital investment, marketing and promotion and human resources.
Research and development will be aided in two ways. Funding will be provided for both institutional and in-company research and development. The £7 million funding which was announced recently concerns institutional research and development and represents the allocation for 1994. Pending finalisation of negotiations with the EU Commission it is not possible to confirm in precise terms the total amount of funding which will be available for food research and development activities for the period 1994-1999, but it is expected to be substantial.
Any research institution with a food project can apply for funding. A research committee with a predominant representation from the food industry has recently been appointed to assess these projects. This will ensure that public good research will take due account of market requirements.
148. Mr. Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will be paid a farm grant under the farm development scheme.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): I expect that payment will be made within the next two weeks.
149. Mr. Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will be paid a grant under the farm development scheme.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): There is no outstanding grant payment due to the person named. An application in respect of a farm roadway has been received from him and I expect that approval will issue shortly.
150. Mr. Creed asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry when a person (details supplied) in County Cork will be paid his special beef and suckler cow grants.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): The person named was recently allocated a quota of five suckler cows from the national reserve. His 1993 suckler cow premium application is now being processed and any payment due will issue shortly.
He applied for the January 1993 special beef premium on five animals. He was paid the balance due on one animal on 25 April 1994 but cannot be paid any premium on the other four animals as they were sold at a mart without their identity cards being punched before sale, in breach of a requirement under the terms and conditions of the scheme.
He applied for the June 1993 special beef premium on ten animals for the ten-month scheme and five animals under the 22-month scheme. As the dates of birth of the animals applied on for the ten-month scheme were given as February 1993 and the dates of birth of the animals applied on for the 22-month scheme were given as April 1992, he was advised that his applications could not be processed as the animals were ineligible on grounds of age.
He applied for the November 1993 special beef premium on the animals that were rejected in June and this application is being processed at present and any payment due will issue in the near future.
151. Mr. Ellis asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry if he will have arrangements made to issue a land certificate to a person (details supplied) in County Leitrim.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): This holding is one of a number which has been scheduled for vesting. However, having regard to the large number of cases and the complexity of the work involved it is not possible at present to say when vesting will take place in this case. The process will be expedited as much as possible.
152. Mr. Ellis asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry if he will allow the claim of a person (details supplied) in County Leitrim for 1993 suckler premium in view of the fact that this person's claim form has been mislaid.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): No application for the June 1993 suckler cow scheme was received from the person named and accordingly the question of payment does not arise. His application form in respect of the December 1993 suckler cow scheme was not received until after the final closing date for receipt of applications, and therefore could not be accepted under EU regulations.
153. Mr. Browne (Carlow-Kilkenny) asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry when a person (details supplied) in County Leitrim will receive suckler cow grant and an extensification grant.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): The person named was paid an advance of his 1993 suckler cow premium on 30 November 1993. This application is being processed further at present and any balance due will be paid shortly. When all his premia  applications for 1993 have been processed any extensification premium due will be paid.
154. Dr. O'Hanlon asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry when a person (details supplied) in County Cavan will be paid suckling grant.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): An application from the person named for 1993 suckler cow premium is at present being processed and any payment due will be made shortly.
155. Mrs. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry when the balance of headage grant will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): The person named was paid the first instalment of £479.76 under the 1993 cattle headage scheme on 2 December 1993. His application is being processed further at present and the balance due will be paid shortly.
156. Mrs. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry when suckler pemium will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): The person named applied for premium on seven cows under the 1993 suckler cow scheme. His application is being processed at present and payment will be made shortly.
157. Mrs. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry when beef premium will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): The person named did not apply for special beef premium  in January-February or June 1993. He applied on one animal under the November 1993 22 month special beef premium scheme. As the animal was born on 16 February 1992 it was ineligible on age grounds and the applicant was informed in writing of this.
158. Mrs. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry when suckler premium will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): The person named applied for 50 cows under the 1993 suckler cow premium scheme. Although he was paid on 50 cows in 1992 his quota premium rights are 48 as he was required to surrender two rights to the national reserve. He was paid the final instalment of £1,423.62 due under this scheme on 48 cows on 24 April 1994.
159. Mrs. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry when headage grant will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): The application of the person named for grants under 1993 cattle headage is being processed at present and any payment due will issue shortly. He applied for grants on five cows under the 1993 suckler cow scheme for small-scale milk producers on 29 June 1993. Since he was not an applicant in 1992 under the suckler cow premium scheme he did not have automatic right to quota. However, he has already been allocated a quota of three premium rights from the special reserve. His application for grants under the 1993 scheme can now be processed therefore and payment on three cows will issue shortly.
160. Mrs. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry when beef premium will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): There is no record in my Department of an application under the 1993 special beef premium schemes from the person named.
161. Mrs. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry when suckler premium will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): The person named applied for suckler cow premium on one cow in December 1993. However, as he was not an applicant under this scheme in 1992 he has not established automatic quota rights. He has however applied for a suckler cow quota to the national reserve. Processing of applications for reserve quota will commence shortly, and if he is successful his premium applications will be processed for payment as soon as possible.
162. Mrs. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry when suckler grant will be paid to to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): The person named applied for premium on 24 cows under the 1993 suckler cow scheme for small-scale milk producers on 30 June 1993. Since he was not an applicant in 1992 under the suckler cow premium scheme he did not have automatic right to quota. However, he has recently been allocated a quota of 20 premium rights from the special reserve. His application for grants under the 1993 scheme can now be processed therefore and payment will issue shortly.
163. Mrs. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry when suckler premium will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): The person named applied for premium on 29 cows under the 1993 suckler cow premium scheme on 30 June 1993. As he was not an applicant under the 1992 suckler cow scheme he does not have automatic right to quota. My Department has no record of an application from him for rights from the national reserve. His application cannot, therefore, be further considered.
164. Mr. Lowry asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the current position regarding an application made to his Department for a herd number and flock number in the name of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary in respect of his lands at Galboola, Littleton, Thurles, County Tipperary.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): A herd number was allocated to the person concerned in January 1994 and he was informed of this by letter on 20 January 1994.
165. Mr. Lowry asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the current position regarding an application made to his Department for beef premium in the name of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and when payment will issue to this person.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): The person named has already been paid full grants under the January-February 1993 special beef premium scheme. His application for grants under the November 1993 ten month special beef premium scheme was rejected at a computer validation check because of invalid tag numbers. When the problem is resolved following clarification from the herd owner payment will then be made. His application for grants under the November 1993 22  month special beef premium scheme is being processed at present and payment will be made shortly.
166. Mr. Lowry asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the current position regarding applications made to his Department for suckler cow premium, special beef premium and headage payments in the name of a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and when payment will issue to this person.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): The person named has already been paid full grants under the 1993 beef cow and equines headage scheme and advances under the 1993 suckler cow and January-February 1993 special beef premium schemes. His suckler cow and special beef premium applications are being processed further at present and any balances due will be paid shortly. He did not apply for grants under the special beef premium scheme in the June 1993 and November 1993 application periods.
167. Mr. Lowry asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry when payment of the remainder of January 1993, 22 month beef subsidy and November 1993, subsidy will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): The application of the person named for grants under the January-February 1993 special beef premium scheme is being processed further at present and any balance due will be paid shortly. My Department is unable to trace any application from him for grants under the November 1993 special beef premium scheme.
168. Mr. Lowry asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry when payment of 22-month beef premium will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): The person named applied for premium on nine animals under the June 1993 22-month special beef premium scheme but four of these animals have been deemed ineligible for premium as they were not 21-months at date of application as required under the EU regulations. Payment on the remaining five eligible animals will be made shortly.
169. Mr. Crowley asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry when a cattle headage grant will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Cork.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): The person named is not the registered owner of the herd number quoted. There is no application under this herd number for the 1993 cattle headage scheme. However, the applications for the 1992 and 1993 suckler cow premium for the herd number quoted are under investigation at present and my Department is in correspondence directly with the herd owner regarding this matter.
170. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Tourism and Trade the total amount paid out by the State on foot of claims in respect of the export credit scheme in relation to the beef sector since its introduction; the steps, if any, that were taken to recover all or part of the total amount; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Tourism and Trade (Mr. McCreevy): Since the export credit insurance and finance schemes were introduced a total of £8 million has been paid out in respect of claims relating to the beef sector. This has covered contracts in a variety of markets, with policies covering both commercial risks and political risks.
When any claim is paid under the schemes, an assessment is made of the  prospects for recovery, and steps taken to effect recovery would depend on the circumstances of the individual case, and could include, for example, visits to the buyer country, and recourse to legal action. As the Deputy will appreciate, in the case of commercial default, it will not normally be possible to recover the full amount of moneys paid, as the default will usually have arisen as a result of the insolvency of the buyer. Steps to recover certain amounts of the moneys paid in respect of the beef sector are ongoing.
171. Mr. Harte asked the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications the total cost of the feasibility study which was carried out by the then Minister for Tourism and Transport in the year 1988 into the development of an airport in Letterkenny, County Donegal.
Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications (Mr. Cowen): The total cost of the feasibility study referred to by the Deputy was £48,500.
172. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications Ireland's role and participation in the International Atomic Energy Agency; if the attention of the agency has been drawn to Ireland's concern over the British authorities' nuclear industry activity; if he will give details of the agency's deliberations.
Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications (Mr. Cowen): The International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, is an autonomous international governmental organisation founded in 1957 under a decision of the United Nations. It has 113 members and Ireland has been a member since 1970.
While the agency's mandate generally is to foster the peaceful uses of nuclear  energy, a number of aspects of its work are of interest to Ireland, mainly nuclear safety and radiological protection matters and nuclear non-proliferation. In particular, Ireland has been actively involved in the development of a safeguards system which protects against the diversion of nuclear material from peaceful purposes to uses in nuclear weapons proliferation and in the drafting of new conventions relating to nuclear safety and to liability and compensation in the event of a major accident. In addition we benefit from access to the agency's information systems which are of value to the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland and from a mutual assistance convention in the event of a serious radiological accident.
Membership of the IAEA also proves an important forum for Ireland to express its concerns on nuclear safety in general and to highlight particular concerns in relation to safety aspects of the UK's nuclear industry, including reprocessing and the Sellafield-THORP plant. Our concerns in this area, and in particular about THORP, were raised at recent meetings of the general conference of the IAEA and at board of governor's meetings.
At the moment, the IAEA's main deliberations are focused upon the strengthening of the safeguards system and completing the work on developing the nuclear safety convention and the convention on liability and compensation for nuclear damage in the event of nuclear accidents.
173. Mr. J. Higgins asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) in County Roscommon can expect to be called for an operation for the removal of cataracts.
Minister for Health (Mr. Howlin): The Western Health Board has indicated that the patient concerned is on the out-patient waiting list for assessment. The Deputy will appreciate, however, that  the scheduling of hospital appointments is a matter for the consultant concerned and each patient is assessed to determine their medical priority. Should this patient feel that her condition has deteriorated she should return to her general practitioner who is in the best position to emphasise the urgency of her case directly to the consultant.
174. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Health the plans, if any, he has to deregulate health insurance; if so, when; the effect such proposals will have on the VHI; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
179. Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Health when he intends to introduce legislation to amend or replace the Health Act, 1957 to provide for competition in the health insurance sector which will come into effect on 1 July 1994; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Health (Mr. Howlin): I propose to take Questions Nos. 174 and 179 together.
Under the provisions of the EC Third Directive on Non-Life Insurance, insurers from other EC member states will be at liberty to enter the Irish health insurance market from 1 July, 1994 and will no longer require a licence to do so from my Department. I will be introducing legislation shortly which will provide for, among other matters, the continuance of community rating, open entry and lifetime cover by insurers in the Irish market.
The VHI review group will report to me in the near future on the capacity of the VHI to respond effectively to the Single Market. Following consideration of their report I will introduce legislation later this year to amend the VHI Act, 1957.
175. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Health when orthodontic treatment will be given in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 24 who has been deemed in need of attention by a private orthodontist but who, it would appear, will have to wait at least another two years before category two patients, of which he is one, will receive attention; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Health (Mr. Howlin): The provision of orthodontic treatment to eligible persons in Dublin 24 is the responsibility of the Eastern Health Board in the first instance and I have referred this matter to the chief executive officer of the Eastern Health Board for his immediate attention and direct reply to the Deputy.
176. Mr. Haughey asked the Minister for Health if it is possible for a person who currently receives a lone parent allowance to switch to a dependent person's maintenance allowance instead; and if he will award disabled person's maintenance allowance to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 5 in view of the fact that such a payment would entitle this person to extra benefits.
Minister for Health (Mr. Howlin): As payment of DPMA in any individual case is a matter for the health board concerned, the Deputy's question has been referred to the chief executive officer, Eastern Health Board with a request that he examine the matter and reply directly to the Deputy as a matter of urgency.
Under the current DPMA regulations, a person in receipt of lone parent's allowance from the Department of Social Welfare, would be precluded from transferring to DPMA in order to avail of the extra benefits associated with the payment of DPMA.
177. Mrs. T. Ahearn asked the Minister for Health if he will have arrangements made for an appeal to be held on behalf of a person (details supplied) in Tipperary in relation to the refusal of a domiciliary care allowance; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Health (Mr. Howlin): The payment of domiciliary care allowance in any particular case is a matter for the health board concerned. Accordingly, I have asked the chief executive officer of the South-Eastern Health Board to investigate this matter and reply directly to the Deputy as a matter of urgency.
178. Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Health if he will investigate the situation in the health services regarding the release of psychiatric patients and, in particular, if he will investigate the situation in view of the points set out in a letter from a person (details supplied) in Dublin 14 to Deputy Mr. Gay Mitchell which has been forwarded to the Minister for consideration.
Minister for Health (Mr. Howlin): Prior to the discharge of a patient from a psychiatric hospital, the person concerned is normally assessed by the hospital medical staff involved in his or her care to determine whether discharge is appropriate.
The Inspector of Mental Hospitals will investigate the circumstances surrounding the discharge of the individual referred to in the correspondence to the Deputy if he will furnish the name of the patient concerned. I will write to the Deputy following completion of the inspector's investigations.
180. Mr. Molloy asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact that parents of a severely handicapped child (details supplied) in County Sligo have been unable to have an educational psychologist's assessment carried out in the North-Western Health Board area.
Minister for Health (Mr. Howlin): I understand that the child in question has been assessed on a number of occasions since 1990, by two clinical psychologists employed by the North Western Health Board. It would not be appropriate to give further details of this person's case in response to the Deputy's question. I will communicate the details of the case separately to the Deputy.
181. Mr. B. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Health the number of persons on outpatient waiting lists in the Southern Health Board area; the number of patients awaiting orthopaedic hip surgery; and the steps, if any, that are being taken to reduce the waiting list for hip operations in the Southern Health Board area.
Minister for Health (Mr. Howlin): There are approximately 2,996 people on the orthopaedic out-patient waiting list in the Southern Health Board area at present while 307 people are on the inpatient waiting list for hip replacement surgery.
With regard to orthopaedic surgery generally, the Deputy will be aware that last year I approved the filling of a fifth consultant orthopaedic post in Cork on a permanent basis. In addition, the Southern Health Board has appointed a locum consultant orthopaedic surgeon who will take up duty on 1 July 1994. Approval was also given to the Southern Health Board in 1992 to provide new clean air theatre facilities at St. Mary's Orthopaedic Hospital, Gurranebraher. The first theatre is expected to come into operation at the beginning of July of this year and the second theatre should be completed in September. I am satisfied that the fifth consultant post, additional  locum post and new clean air theatre facilities will have a significant impact on the level of orthopaedic activity in the Southern Health Board area with a corresponding positive effect on the orthopaedic waiting lists in the area.
182. Ms McManus asked the Minister for Health if he will give a breakdown by job category of the employment increase between the year 1988 and the end of the year 1992 from 36,200 to 39,000; and the number of these that are full-time jobs.
Minister for Health (Mr. Howlin): I assume the Deputy is referring to the  number of staff expressed in wholetime equivalents employed by grade category in the health board sector for each year 1988-92. These data are set out in the following tabular statement. Most of these posts are filled on a full-time permanent basis.
Rationalisation of the Department's health service personnel census grade categories to facilitate more precise analysis has meant that the data for particular categories given in the following tabular statement are not entirely comparable. Thus, the figure given for the nursing and allied grade category for 1988 includes nurses aides and other staff not included in the nursing category for other years. There was, in fact, a significant increase in nursing numbers over the period 1988 to 1992.
Number of staff employed in each grade category by the health board sector expressed in wholetime equivalents for each year 1988-1992
31 December 1988
|Grade Category||Clerical and Admin.||Medical and Dental||Nursing Allied||Para- Medical||Catering and House-keeping||Maintenance||Other||Totals|
CLASS="CP">31 December 1989
|Grade Category||Clerical and Admin.||Medical and Dental||Nursing||Paramedical||Support Services||Maintenance Technical||Total|
CLASS="CP">31 December 1990
|Grade Category||Clerical and Admin.||Medical and Dental||Nursing||Paramedical||Support Services||Maintenance Technical||Total|
|Grade Category||Clerical and Admin.||Medical and Dental||Nursing||Paramedical||Support Services||Maintenance Technical||Total|
CLASS="CP">31 December 1992
|Grade Category||Clerical and Admin.||Medical and Dental||Nursing||Paramedical||Support Services||Maintenance Technical||Total|
Source: Department of Health — Health Service Personnel Census.
183. Miss Harney asked the Minister for Health if he will urge the Eastern Health Board to make transport available to a person (details supplied) in County Dublin in view of her circumstances; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Health (Mr. Howlin): I have been informed by the Eastern Health Board that no request for transport has been received on behalf of this person. If such an application is received, the matter will be considered by the health board as sympathetically as possible.
184. Mr. J. Higgins asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo who needs a by-pass will be called for surgery.
Minister for Health (Mr. Howlin): An angiogram was performed yesterday, the 30 May, on the patient in question, at University College Hospital, Galway, which will establish whether or not he will require a heart by-pass operation. The results of the angiogram will be assessed by the consultant cardiologist who will discuss the matter with the patient.
185. Mr. J. Mitchell asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the continuing shortage of beds in Dublin hospitals for urgent cases and specifically in the Mater Hospital, Dublin 7, and in a case (details supplied) in Dublin 7; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Health (Mr. Howlin): The Accident and Emergency Departments of the six major hospitals in Dublin operate a 24-hour service.
Because of the nature of the work, it is not possible to predict the workload of hospital accident and emergency departments at any particular time. At all times, however, priority is accorded to those patients most in need of immediate medical attention. Because of the unpredictable nature of the workload which may present, it can happen that on occasion patients must be placed in temporary accommodation pending the availability of more appropriate beds. I can assure the Deputy that every effort is made to keep this practice to a minimum.
Every endeavour is made to make patients as comfortable as possible in the  accident and emergency departments and I understand that food is provided to patients who are awaiting admission for a hospital bed and is served at the usual meal times. All patients, whilst in an accident and emergency department are under the care of medical and nursing staff.
The position regarding the accident and emergency departments is monitored by my Department on an ongoing basis. In this regard, shortly after coming into office I approved a sum of £500,000 to provide an immediate response to a problem of this type. In December 1993, following further discussions, I allocated an additional £250,000 to the Eastern Health Board to enable the pressures on the accident and emergency hospitals to be eased. This was achieved through the placing of more than 100 patients from the six major accident and emergency hospitals in Dublin, who were no longer in need of acute hospital care, in stepdown accommodation more appropriate to their condition.
The change which I have recently announced in relation to the charge for attendance at accident and emergency departments is intended to create an incentive for patients to attend their general practitioner in the first instance, in cases where their condition would be most appropriately treated at this level. I am hopeful that this change will help to ease the pressure on hospital accident and emergency departments.
186. Eamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Health whether he intends changing the regulations whereby a person in receipt of disabled person's maintenance allowance who is being cared for by a spouse who is in receipt of carer's allowance is not entitled to the full personal rate of disabled person's maintenance allowance.
Minister for Health (Mr. Howlin): Under section 69 of the Health Act 1970,  health boards, in assessing eligibility for disabled person's maintenance allowance (DPMA), are obliged to have regard to the means of both the applicant and his/her spouse. However, the carer's allowance which is administered by the Department of Social Welfare, is disregarded by health boards when means testing for payment of DPMA.
If the Deputy has details of any particular case where the carer's allowance has been taken into account when means testing for payment of DPMA, I will have the matter investigated and a reply issued directly to the Deputy.
187. Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Education if she intends to establish a regional technical college in Dún Laoghaire; and the steps, if any, she is taking to achieve this objective.
202. Ms Keogh asked the Minister for Education if the regional technical college sanctioned for Dún Laoghaire will go ahead; if funds have been allocated for the college; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
209. Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Education if she received a submission from Dún Laoghaire Vocational Education Committee regarding its application for the establishment of a regional technical college in Dún Laoghaire, County Dublin; if she intends to proceed with a regional technical college for Dún Laoghaire; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): I propose to take Questions Nos. 187, 202 and 209 together.
The question of a regional technical college in Dún Laoghaire and other locations has to be considered in the context of the future development of the higher education sector in Ireland. I have asked a steering committee, established under the aegis of the Higher Education Authority, to advise me on this. The  steering committee will prepare projections to the year 2015 of the total potential enrolments in higher education and the corresponding needs required by the sector to facilitate these enrolments.
The committee will carry out a comprehensive needs analysis of higher education requirements. Its remit includes the overall needs of society and the economy as well as regional, socio-economic and equality considerations together with the needs of students and the world of work.
It will also focus on the appropriate provision for mature students as well as the need to provide access to third-level education for disadvantaged students.
As previously indicated by me in the Dáil, the work of the committee will have to be informed by, and take account of, budgetary and financial considerations.
The Committee is due to complete its deliberations in December and submit its recommendations to me.
When I receive their recommendations I will give them my urgent attention.
190. Miss Flaherty asked the Minister for Education, in view of the importance of early identification for coping with children with special learning difficulties, her views on whether it is the right of all children to access to psychological testing at the age of seven; and if she has satisfied herself that the nature of the current tests are able to identify special learning difficulties.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): It is my view that all children who are considered as having a need for psychological assessment, should have access to such a service as early as possible in their school careers, with the permission of the parents or guardians. This may well mean having such assessments carried out at an age earlier than seven years. However not all children require individual psychological assessment.  Assessment and identification of a pupil's strengths and weaknesses has always been an integral part of teaching, with a view to adapting and providing teaching approaches related to the needs of pupils. For the generality of children this type of teacher assessment is what is required. It is my aim to help schools and teachers to refine and develop their assessment procedures.
I have announced my intention, in line with the Government commitment on the matter, to extend a schools psychological service to all primary schools on a gradual basis. I intend to recruit a further ten (10) psychologists for the schools' service this year. Advertisements for these posts have appeared recently. This will ensure that children who need psychological assessment will be able to receive it if their parents or guardians so wish, as the service becomes available to primary schools generally. In addition, this service will assist schools in developing and refining their own internal assessment procedures.
With regard to tests used as part of psychological assessment, the choice of test instruments and procedures is a matter for the professional judgment of a psychologist. The tests in use are regarded as the best that are available currently.
191. Mr. Flanagan asked the Minister for Education the present position regarding an application for grant aid towards the carrying out of remedial works at a school (details supplied) in County Offaly; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): My Department's local technical advisers have been requested to report on the proposed improvement works to the school in question. When this report is received and considered a decision on grant-aid will be conveyed to the school management.
192. Mr. E. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Education if she will grant funds for the building of a new classroom for a national school (details supplied) in County Cork; the total grant that would be allowable for this purpose.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): My Department has approved a grant towards the cost of the provision of a one classroom extension to the school referred to by the Deputy. The amount of grant will be based on 85 per cent of the final cost.
193. Mr. E. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Education the up-to-date position regarding the development at a national school (details supplied) in County Cork; and the reason for the delay in sanctioning a capital grant.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): My Department has approved building proposals submitted by the board of management of the school referred to by the Deputy.
The board has been requested to submit detailed architectural plans for examination by the Department.
It was not possible to proceed with this project earlier as it was not among those projects which were considered of the highest priority.
194. Mr. E. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Education the up-to-date position regarding the refurbishment and building of a new classroom at a school (details supplied) in County Cork.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): A major building project has been approved in principle for the school in question. As other projects were deemed to be of a higher priority the project was not included in the 1994 Capital Programme. It will be considered for inclusion in the new priority listing for 1995.
In regard to refurbishment work a  report on the roof of the school is currently being considered and a decision will be conveyed to the board of management at the earliest possible date.
195. Mr. E. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Education the up-to-date position regarding work to a school (details supplied) in County Cork.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): My Department's local technical advisers have been requested to report on the proposed improvement works to the school in question. When this report is received and considered a decision on grant-aid will be conveyed to the school management.
196. Mr. E. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Education the up-to-date position regarding the refurbishment of a school (details supplied) in County Cork.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): My Department's local technical advisers have recently been asked for a report regarding the refurbishment work referred to by the Deputy.
The question of grant-aid will be considered on receipt of this report and a decision conveyed to the school management.
197. Mr. E. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Education when grant approval will issue for refurbishment of a national school (details supplied) in County Cork.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): My Department has no record of having received an application for grant-aid towards the refurbishment work referred to by the Deputy. Should such an application be forwarded it will be dealt with in the normal way.
An application has been received for other improvement works at the school and has been referred to the Department's technical advisers for a report. When this report is received and considered  a decision on grant-aid will be conveyed to the school management.
198. Mr. McGinley asked the Minister for Education the up-to-date position regarding an application for heating by Cashelnagore national school, in County Donegal.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): Tenders have been invited for a new heating system at Cashelnagore national school. When these have been received and considered a contract will be placed for the installation of the new system.
199. Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Education if she will provide an extra classroom at Lispoole national school, County Kerry in view of the fact that the teachers are forced to use the utility room at the moment which is limited in space and overcrowded; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): My Department has recently received an application for a prefabricated classroom unit from the school authorities of Lispoole national school.
My Department's professional adviser has been requested to investigate the need for extra accommodation at this school and when his report has been considered a decision will be conveyed to the school authorities.
200. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education whether a grant from national lottery funds will be made available towards the provision of facilities for the Allenwood, County Kildare, Scout Association of Ireland scout troop.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): My Department has no record of receiving an application from the Allenwood, County Kildare Scout Association of Ireland scout troop.
201. Mr. Molloy asked the Minister for Education the present position in relation to the provision of a new national school at Arva, County Cavan.
213. Mr. Boylan asked the Minister for Education the up-to-date position regarding Arva national school, Arva, County Cavan; the reason progress has not been made in building a new school; if her attention has been drawn to the conditions in the school for pupils and staff; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): I propose to take Questions Nos. 201 and 213 together.
I am aware that conditions in Arva national school, Arva, County Cavan are less than satisfactory. A number of proposals to resolve the accommodation difficulties are under active consideration in my Department and these have recently been discussed with the school's board of management.
A decision on the matter will be made shortly.
203. Ms Keogh asked the Minister for Education her views on the proposal of having a 20:1 pupil/teacher ratio for multigrade classes; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): I am fully committed to reducing the pupil/teacher ratio in national schools and indeed the ratio has been reduced significantly over the past number of years. The ratio is 24.2:1 and it is estimated that next year the figure will be 23.4:1. These improvements have been  achieved through the retention of posts which would otherwise have been lost due to demographic decline.
The Government is committed to bringing the ratio to 22:1 by September 1996. I am not in a position to comment on the pupil/teacher ratio beyond that.
204. Ms Keogh asked the Minister for Education whether she intends to give the national parents' council recognition as a statutory body.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): My Department consults extensively with the national parents' council at primary and post-primary level on all aspects of educational policy. Both are voluntary associations. I consider that they function effectively as such and I do not propose to change their status.
The important role of parents in the education process is stressed in the Programme for Competitiveness and Work, the Programme for a Partnership Government and in the Green Paper, Education for a Changing World. This role will be reflected in the relevant provisions of the following White Paper and the subsequent Education Act.
205. Mr. Creed asked the Minister for Education the consultation, if any, she has had with the Arts Council in an effort to redress the inadequate provision of music in our schools.
Minister for Education (Mrs Bhreathnach): The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment is currently drafting proposals for a revised programme in music in primary schools. At post-primary level, the NCCA is doing similar work for a revised syllabus in music at senior cycle, consequent on the changes already introduced for the junior cycle, which have been enthusiastically received. The Arts Council has made submissions to the various committees  involved and these have or are being considered.
The Arts Council and the Department of Education also co-operate with each other in funding the school's recital scheme, contributing £18,500 and £7,000 per annum, respectively. This excellent scheme, administered by the Music Association of Ireland, gives students an opportunity to hear classical, traditional and jazz musicians, live, in familiar surroundings. At present, only post-primary schools benefit, but it is hoped to involve the primary sector, as well, in the near future. Within the past year informal discussions have taken place between the director and education officer of the Arts Council and officials of my Department. Both sides are agreed on the need for mutual consultation on the promotion of the arts, including music, in the education system.
Further co-operation will, also, be most welcome. For example, I understand that the members of the new Arts Council are currently formulating a three-year plan. My staff in the Department will be available to discuss this, generally, with them and, also, their ideas on music education, in particular, when mutually convenient. I believe combined efforts like this are the way forward.
Finally, I would like to remind the Deputy that, on several occasions, I have reiterated my commitment and wholehearted support for the development of music and the arts at all stages of our educational system.
206. Mr. Creed asked the Minister for Education her Department's policy in relation to the pupil/teacher ratio in secondary schools; the annual requirement of second level teachers up to the year 2000 to achieve this policy; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): My Department's responsibility in this regard is to ensure that an adequate number of teachers is available to cater  for the educational needs of pupils at second level.
The pupil/teacher ratio at second level was reduced in 1991-92, in 1992-93 and again in 1993-94. A further reduction will occur in 1994-95 as a result of the allocation of additional ex-quota vice-principal, guidance and remedial posts and additional disadvantaged posts. The question of reducing the pupil/teacher ratio still further has to be considered in the context of competing demands for the resources available for education generally.
The number of teachers required depends on a number of variables, including the approved pupil-teacher ratio, the total enrolment, the courses being offered and the subject choices of the pupils. In the circumstances it is not possible to be precise in relation to future needs.
On the basis of projected enrolments and having regard to the current pupil-teacher ratio and education policy the projected numbers of teachers required are as follows:
208. Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Education the plans, if any, she has to introduce free third level education as was promised by her predecessor prior to the last general election.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): I have no plans at present to introduce free third level education which would involve additional expenditure of about £45 million per annum.
In line with the commitment in the Programme for a Partnership Government I will seek to improve the student support provisions to ensure that no student is deprived of access to third level education because of financial circumstances.
210. Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Education the consultancy services engaged by her Department in 1993; the amount paid for each consultancy service; the consultancy services which she has engaged so far in 1994, or which she intends to engage; and the amount paid or estimated for each such service.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the following tabular statement:
|Name of Company||Service||Expenditure|
|1. Institute of Public Administration||Job evaluation||1,277.22|
|2. Oliver Freaney & Co.||Evaluation of Financial Procedures||51,999.40|
|3. Service Industries Research Centre||Reviewing the case for a Post- Primary School in Castleknock||4,255.00|
|4. Institute of Public Administration||DIT and RTC Studies||26,983.07|
|5. Various I. T. Consultancy Firms||Computer Consultancy||24,568.90|
|6. Mr. Frank Keane||Consultancy on Education Act||914.00|
|7. (i) W.R.C. Social and Economic Consultants||Evaluation of VTOS||16,960.00|
|(ii) ESRI||1993 School-leavers Survey||5,000.00|
|8. Lateral Associates||Consultancy on H.E.G., V.E.C. and E.S.F. Grants Scheme||8,155.40|
|9. Cooney, Carew Chartered Accountants||Review + reports on School Books Scheme||30,500.00|
|10. Tony Brady||Management Development||2,800.00|
|11. Fleishman, Hillard Saunders Ltd||PR Consultancy||22,000.00|
|12. Aidan Meade Ltd.||PR Consultancy||1,200.00|
|Total for 1993.||196,613.49|
A total of £650,000 has been provided for consultancy in 1994. It is proposed to spend the allocation as follows:
|(i)||Computer Related Consultancy||384,000|
|(ii)||Post-Primary Policy Studies||20,000|
|(iii)||VEC Unit Cost Studies||24,500|
|(iv)||VPT Placement Rates||23,500|
|(v)||Evaluation of Financial Procedures||58,000|
|(vi)||External Industrial Relations||5,000|
|(vii)||Primary Policy Studies||21,000|
|(viii)||Departmental Work Studies||20,000|
|(ix)||White Paper—Education Act||60,000|
|(x)||Restructuring of Student Support Schemes||29,000|
|(xi)||Post-Primary School Planning Study||5,000|
The expenditure to date on these projects is as follows:
|Name of Company.||Service.||Expenditure.|
|(i)||Quest Computing Co.||IT Consultancy||6,050.00|
|(ii)||(a) Cooney Carey Chartered Accountants||Assistance in publishing report “Schools Books in Ireland”||3,297.00|
|(b) Designbank||Production of report “School Books in Ireland”||4,235.00|
|(v)||Oliver Freaney & Co.||Evaluation of Financial Procedures||12,9990.85|
|(vii)||Jonathan Williams||Editoral review of the School Attendance Acts||450.00|
|(viii)||(a) Drury Communications Limited||Consultancy on Regional Educational Councils||1,131.60|
|(b) Aidan Meade Ltd.||PR Consultancy||600.00|
|(c) Craig Gardner & Co.||Consultants on internal||3,448.00|
|(xi)||Service Industries Research Centre||Reviewing the case for School in Knocklyon||2,328.75|
211. Ms McManus asked the Minister for Education the rate of absenteeism from primary and second level schools during the past 12 months; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): I would refer the Deputy to replies to Questions Nos. 17 and 53 of 19 April and Question No. 148 of 26 April last.
In those replies I mentioned the “School Attendance-Truancy report” which was published on 8 April 1994. Copies of the report have been made available to the Oireachtas Library.
The report shows an average pupil absence level from national schools of approximately 7 per cent in the school year 1992-93. There is no comparable school attendance data for post-primary schools.
I am making copies of the report widely available, and I will be happy to receive the considered views of all interested groups.
212. Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Education if she will ensure that national lottery funds are made available to a school (details supplied) in Dublin 6W so that they can complete their sports complex building.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): An application has been received in respect of the sports complex in question under my Department's recreational facilities scheme.
All applications received under the scheme are under consideration and a decision in the matter will be conveyed to the organisation concerned as soon as possible.
214. Mrs. Owen asked the Minister for Education the outcome of the special projects which have been run in some schools to provide special assistants for physically handicapped children; and whether she proposes to extend this kind of service to more schools.
Minister for Education (Ms. Bhreathnach): I take it the Deputy is referring to  a special job-creation scheme introduced in 1979, under which my Department funded the allocation of child care assistants to selected special schools. A range of schools, including those catering for pupils with physical, sensory and intellectual disabilities, were allocated posts.
The embargo on public sector recruitment in place since 1987 has meant that no further appointments could be made or vacancies filled. However, as I indicated in my budget announcement, it is my intention to allocate an additional 50 child care assistants to the special education area in the current year.
These new appointments, which will be in place from September next, form part of an initial response to the recommendations of the special education review committee and will be of significant benefit in assisting teachers in dealing with special needs children.
My Department is currently assessing levels of need for child care support in the special education area in order to ensure that the additional posts now available are used to best effect.
215. Miss Harney asked the Minister for Education, in view of the recent vandalism which took place at Ballyowen Meadows special school, if she will make available alternative premises for this school.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): As I indicated to the House on 18 May last, I am aware of the difficulties faced by the pupils and staff of Ballyowne Meadows special school and of the need to reach an early solution, particularly in view of the special needs of the pupils concerned.
In this connection, my Department is fully committed to assisting the patron of the school, the Eastern Health Board, in meeting its responsibility to secure suitable alternative accommodation at the earliest possible date.
 As part of this process, my Department has assisted the health board by identifying a range of possible alternative locations for the school. These efforts have focused on a number of existing schools on the west side of Dublin with surplus accommodation. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, all of these options have been found unacceptable by the school authorities or by the health board.
Nonetheless, regular contact is being maintained between my Department and the health board and a number of other possibilities for permanent alternative accommodation are being actively considered. In the interim, I understand that the health board is arranging to have the existing building repaired so that the pupils can return to school for the remainder of the current school year.
216. Mr. Finucane asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to the urgency of sanctioning a site for a school (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): I am aware of the need for a site for the school in question. My Department is currently in consultation with the school authorities who are investigating a number of possibilities in the area. Every effort will be made to facilitate the speedy acquisition of a suitable site.
217. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Education the capital allocation in her Department's Estimates over the past five years; the procedure for a school to avail of funds for a purpose-built room in order to enhance or extend its curriculum; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): The capital allocation for second-level  education in my Departments estimates for the past five years is as follows: 1990, £18.625 million; 1991, £18.625 million; 1992, £17.225 million; 1993, £24.5 million; 1994, £37 million.
A school wishing to obtain funding for a building project must submit an application to the planning and building unit of my Department.
Assessment of the application involves a detailed examination of the school's accommodation requirements having regard to pupil numbers, the suitability of existing accommodation, the school's educational programme and its curricular policy. When agreement is reached on the school's needs and how they can best be met, architectural planning proceeds. When the project is ready to proceed to construction its inclusion on the building programme is considered in the light of all relevant educational, financial and architectural factors.
218. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Education the likely dates for issuing the 1994 leaving and junior certificate results; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): It is planned to issue the results of this year's certificate examinations on the following dates in 1994: leaving certificate results, Wednesday 17 August; junior certificate results, Wednesday 14 September.
It has been arranged with An Post that results will be delivered to all schools on the day following the date of issue in 1994, that is on 18 August and on 15 September, respectively.
These dates were notified to schools by circular issued on 25 May.
219. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Education the progress that has been made to establish an advisory council for English language schools; and the progress that has been made to develop the potential of Dublin as the most appropriate international language learning centre.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): The existing advisory council for English language schools (ACELS) continues to operate pending the finalisation of steps to reconstitute it. It is expected that the new reconstituted council will be established in the near future.
Developing Ireland as an international education centre will also be facilitated by the International Education Board Ireland which has recently been established by my Department. It has a brief to
—promote Ireland as an international education centre, and to assist wider involvement of Irish institutions and business in this area;
—to negotiate the removal of barriers to the full exploitation by Irish organisation of international education opportunities.
220. Mr. Carey asked the Minister for Education if she has received an application from a soccer team (details supplied) in County Clare for assistance to help them to travel as an exchange group to Denmark.
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): There is no record in my Department of receipt of an application from a soccer team in County Clare requesting grant aid to travel as an exchange group to Denmark.
Under my Department's scheme of assistance to sport, grant-aid is provided to national governing bodies of sport to assist towards the cost of hosting or attending international competition abroad, generally of a World or European ranking.
To qualify for grant aid under this  scheme an organisation must be recognised as a national governing body of sport by Cospóir, the National Sports Council and the Department of Education. Applications from individual clubs or teams would not qualify for assistance under my Department's scheme.