Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Northern Ireland Peace Process.
Visit by British Parliamentary Delegation.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers (Resumed). - Meeting with EC President.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers (Resumed). - Divorce Referendum.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers (Resumed). - Employment for People with Disabilities.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers (Resumed). - Legal Aid Board.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers (Resumed). - Rights of Unmarried Fathers.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers (Resumed). - Civil Legal Aid Service.
Private Notice Question. - Rwandan Massacre.
Adjournment Debate Matters.
Order of Business.
Finance Bill, 1995: Second Stage.
Private Members' Business. - Hospital Services.
Adjournment Debate. - Treatment for Cancer Patients.
Adjournment Debate. - Emergency Vehicles' Traffic Code.
Adjournment Debate. - Shannon (Clare) Plant.
Adjournment Debate. - Farm Building Scheme Delays.
Written Answers. - Employment Equality.
Written Answers. - Child Care.
Written Answers. - Second Commission on the Status of Women.
Written Answers. - Task Force on the Travelling Community.
Written Answers. - Beijing International Conference.
Written Answers. - Claims against the State.
Written Answers. - Area Partnership Objectives.
Written Answers. - Michael Davitt Centenary Celebrations.
Written Answers. - Response To Long-Term Unemployment.
Written Answers. - Recycling of Old Telephone Directories.
Written Answers. - Public Liability Insurance.
Written Answers. - Release of Prisoner.
Written Answers. - Trade Embargo on Cuba.
Written Answers. - Washington Trade Conference.
Written Answers. - County Fermanagh Police Station.
Written Answers. - Middle East Peace Process.
Written Answers. - Recycling of Old Telephone Directories.
Written Answers. - Public Liability Insurance.
Written Answers. - Tax Regime for Artists.
Written Answers. - Departmental Borrowing.
Written Answers. - Arts Council.
Written Answers. - Motor Taxation.
Written Answers. - Trustee Savings Bank.
Written Answers. - EU Monetary System.
Written Answers. - Hunting/Shooting.
Written Answers. - Border Region: State Assistance.
Written Answers. - Farmers' Capital Gains Tax.
Written Answers. - CPT Returns.
Written Answers. - Taxpayer's Allowances
Written Answers. - VAT on Unused Gas.
Written Answers. - VAT on Newspapers.
Written Answers. - Civil Service Accountancy Promotions.
Written Answers. - Vehicle Taxation.
Written Answers. - Betting Duty.
Written Answers. - Structural Funding.
Written Answers. - Taxpayer's Allowances.
Written Answers. - Telephone Directories' Recycling.
Written Answers. - Health Boards' Personnel.
Written Answers. - Cross-Border Health Care.
Written Answers. - Free Dental Scheme.
Written Answers. - Meath Nursing Home/Geriatric Hospital.
Written Answers. - Hospitals Twinning Arrangement.
Written Answers. - County Galway Case.
Written Answers. - Orthopaedic Surgery Statistics.
Written Answers. - Hip Replacement Operation.
Written Answers. - Orthodontic Treatment.
Written Answers. - Cat-Scan Procedure.
Written Answers. - St. Michael's House, Dublin.
Written Answers. - Mallow Hospital Patient Statistics.
Written Answers. - Residential Care for Dublin Child.
Written Answers. - Hepatitis B Vaccination Scheme.
Written Answers. - Medical Oncologist Appointment.
Written Answers. - Crumlin Children's Hospital.
Written Answers. - Tallaght (Dublin) Hospital.
Written Answers. - Mobility Allowance.
Written Answers. - Nursing Tutor Course.
Written Answers. - Recycling of Telephone Directories.
Written Answers. - Cost of Insurance Premia/Claims.
Written Answers. - Equality Policy.
Written Answers. - Recycling of Telephone Directories.
Written Answers. - Cost of Insurance Premia/Claims.
Written Answers. - Ennis (Clare) Abbey.
Written Answers. - Kilfenora (Clare) High Cross.
Written Answers. - International Arts Agency.
Written Answers. - Arts Council.
Written Answers. - Structural Funding.
Written Answers. - Ennis (Clare) Museum.
Written Answers. - County Clare Abbey.
Written Answers. - County Offaly Visitors' Centre.
Written Answers. - Wildlife Service.
Written Answers. - Broadcasting Licence.
Written Answers. - Donegal Castle.
Written Answers. - Recycling of Telephone Directories.
Written Answers. - Public Liability Insurance Premia.
Written Answers. - Housing Aid for the Elderly.
Written Answers. - Dog Registration Scheme.
Written Answers. - County Clare Water Supply Scheme.
Written Answers. - Dublin Placenames.
Written Answers. - Driving Licence Exchange.
Written Answers. - County Offaly Sewerage/Drainage Schemes.
Written Answers. - Killybegs (Donegal) Water Scheme.
Written Answers. - Dublin Corporation Dwellings.
Written Answers. - Border County Funding.
Written Answers. - Non-National Road Grants.
Written Answers. - Waste Paper Recycling
Written Answers. - Recycling Credit Scheme.
Written Answers. - Water Schemes.
Written Answers. - Operational Programme for Transport.
Written Answers. - House Grant.
Written Answers. - Capital Assistance for Housing.
Written Answers. - County Cavan Water Scheme.
Written Answers. - Litter Wardens.
Written Answers. - Aid to Travellers.
Written Answers. - Public Liability Insurance.
Written Answers. - Capital Grant to Voluntary Schools.
Written Answers. - Kenmare (Kerry) Convent Preservation.
Written Answers. - National Fifty Metre Swimming Pool.
Written Answers. - School Transport.
Written Answers. - County Offaly National School.
Written Answers. - Knockanore (Waterford) National School.
Written Answers. - Swords (Dublin) School.
Written Answers. - Third Level Student Support Schemes.
Written Answers. - School Transport Scheme.
Written Answers. - Appropriate Use of Dublin Site.
Written Answers. - School Drop-Outs.
Written Answers. - Number of Primary Level Schools.
Written Answers. - High Education.
Written Answers. - Vandalism in Cork City Schools.
Written Answers. - School Attendance.
Written Answers. - School Psychological Service.
Written Answers. - Marketing Diploma Course.
Written Answers. - Proposed County Cork School Extension.
Written Answers. - Tax Relief on Third Level Fees.
Written Answers. - Graiguenamanagh (Kilkenny) Vocational School.
Written Answers. - Primary School/Caretaking and Clerical Services.
Written Answers. - Lyre (Cork) School.
Written Answers. - School Facilities.
Written Answers. - County Galway School Extension.
Written Answers. - Computer Facilities.
Written Answers. - Grant Assistance.
Written Answers. - Home School Community Liaison Scheme.
Written Answers. - Gaelscoil Osraí, Kilkenny.
Written Answers. - Youth Services.
Written Answers. - County Meath School Accommodation.
Written Answers. - School Bus Collection.
Written Answers. - Grant Payment.
Written Answers. - Old Telephone Directories.
Written Answers. - Leaving Certificate Examination.
Written Answers. - County Monaghan School Funding.
Written Answers. - Travel Expenses for Substitute Teachers.
Written Answers. - Public Liability Insurance Premia.
Written Answers. - Passport Policy.
Written Answers. - Stray Horses.
Written Answers. - Longford Courthouse.
Written Answers. - Closure of District Court Venues.
Written Answers. - Motor Tax Evasion.
Written Answers. - Cruelty to Sheep.
Written Answers. - EU Beef Fraud.
Written Answers. - Asylum Seekers.
Written Answers. - Prisoner Transfer.
Written Answers. - Coroners' Remuneration.
Written Answers. - Illegal Immigrants.
Written Answers. - Land Registration.
Written Answers. - Illegal Immigrants.
Written Answers. - Land Registration.
Written Answers. - Boyle (Roscommon) Shooting Incident.
Written Answers. - Free Legal Aid Scheme Cost.
Written Answers. - Land Registration.
Written Answers. - Thomastown (Kilkenny) Garda Station.
Written Answers. - Castlecomer (Kilkenny) Garda Station.
Written Answers. - Passports Investigation.
Written Answers. - Sandymount (Dublin) Robbery Investigation.
Written Answers. - Tallaght Two Case.
Written Answers. - Prison Statistics.
Written Answers. - Garda Pursuit.
Written Answers. - Recycling Old Telephone Directories.
Written Answers. - Public Liability Insurance Premia.
Written Answers. - Free Cross-Border Travel.
Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefit.
Written Answers. - Social Welfare Fraud.
Written Answers. - Equal Treatment Arrears Payments.
Written Answers. - Recycling Old Telephone Directories.
Written Answers. - Public Liability Insurance Premia.
Written Answers. - Recycling Old Telephone Directories.
Written Answers. - Public Transport Promotion.
Written Answers. - Public Liability Insurance Premia.
Written Answers. - Beef Processing Investigations.
Written Answers. - Paper Recycling.
Written Answers. - Community Employment.
Written Answers. - Recycling Old Telephone Directories.
Written Answers. - FÁS Users Council.
Written Answers. - Public Liability Claims.
Written Answers. - Leader Programme.
Written Answers. - Ground Survey of Holding.
Written Answers. - Purchase of Land by Non-Nationals.
Written Answers. - Cruelty to Sheep.
Written Answers. - Prescribing of Veterinary Medicines.
Written Answers. - Bovine TB Eradication.
Written Answers. - Beef Intervention Irregularities.
Written Answers. - Grant Payments.
Written Answers. - Division of Commonages.
Written Answers. - Farmers' Early Retirement Scheme.
Written Answers. - Division of Estates.
Written Answers. - Early Retirement Pension.
Written Answers. - Farm Improvement Programme.
Written Answers. - Irish Intervention Agency.
Written Answers. - FEOGA Transactions.
Written Answers. - Collection of Arrears.
Written Answers. - Post and Telecommunications Costs.
Written Answers. - Recycling of Old Telephone Directories.
Written Answers. - Public Liability Claims.
Written Answers. - Sellafield Nuclear Plant.
Written Answers. - Offshore Oil and Gas Finds.
Written Answers. - Electricity Industry Competition.
Written Answers. - Cable Television Provision.
Written Answers. - Louth Radon Gas Levels.
Written Answers. - Ireland-Britain Tunnel.
Written Answers. - Telephone Directories Recycling.
Written Answers. - Public Liability Insurance Claims.
Written Answers. - Gleeson Commission Recommendations.
Written Answers. - FCA and An Slua Muirí Uniform Allowance.
Written Answers. - Colour Party Policy.
Written Answers. - FCA and An Slua Muirí Welfare Services Contribution.
Written Answers. - Farranfore Airport (Kerry) Flight Statistics.
Written Answers. - Finner (County Donegal) Land Sale.
Written Answers. - Army School of Music Appointments.
Written Answers. - Military Barracks Maintenance Services.
Written Answers. - Telephone Directories Recycling.
Written Answers. - Public Liability Insurance Claims.
Written Answers. - Donegal Harbour Dredging.
Written Answers. - Port Investment Statistics.
Written Answers. - Drift Net Fishing Season.
Written Answers. - Dún Laoghaire Harbour Recreational Facilities.
Written Answers. - Telephone Directories Recycling.
Written Answers. - Public Liability Insurance Claims.
 Chuaigh an Ceann Comhairle i gceannas ar 2.30 p.m.
1. Miss Harney asked the Taoiseach if he will meet with the British Prime Minister in view of the continuing failure of the British Government and Sinn Féin to agree terms for commencing direct talks. [7511/95]
2. Miss Harney asked the Taoiseach the manner in which he intends to advance the Peace Process in Northern Ireland. [7561/95]
3. Miss Harney asked the Taoiseach if he will extend an invitation to talks to the Progressive Unionist Party and the Ulster Democratic Party. [7564/95]
4. Miss Harney asked the Taoiseach if he will make a statement on his meeting with the Northern Secretary on 12 April 1995; his attitude to the British Government-Sinn Féin impasse; and the manner in which he proposes to advance the Peace Process in Northern Ireland. [7565/95]
5. Mr. B. Ahern asked the Taoiseach if he will make a statement on his discussion with the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Sir Patrick Mayhew, en marge the CBI Dinner on 12 April 1995. [7570/95]
6. Mr. B. Ahern asked the Taoiseach if the Government plans to engage in political dialogue with the Northern parties on the Framework Document and other matters after Easter. [7572/95]
7. Mr. B. Ahern asked the Taoiseach when he plans to open talks with the Northern political parties on the Strand 2 aspects of the Framework Document. [7712/95]
8. Mr. B. Ahern asked the Taoiseach if he plans to meet the British Prime Minister in the near future to break the impasse in talks between Sinn Féin and the British Government. [7713/95]
The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 8, inclusive, together.
The primary objective of both the Irish and British Governments, at this stage of the peace process, is to help prepare the way for comprehensive dialogue on the future of Northern Ireland with and between all the relevant parties. That is what the situation clearly demands and I believe it is what the vast majority of the peoples of these two islands want. The past two weeks have seen very encouraging progress towards the achievement of this objective. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has initiated a process of bilateral talks with the political parties there and already the three largest parties — the UUP, the DUP and the SDLP — have engaged in direct dialogue with each other. The way has now been cleared for the commencement of talks at ministerial level between the British Government and Sinn Féin. On behalf of the Irish Government, I have announced that I will shortly be inviting all the political parties in Northern Ireland, including Sinn Féin, the UDP and the PUP, to participate in bilateral talks  with this Government on an open agenda.
Nobody could deny the enormity of the challenges ahead. However, taken together, I believe that these positive developments to which I have referred show that the peace process is moving forward and for our part the Government will be doing everything in our power to ensure the continuation of this forward momentum.
I have already welcomed the announcement regarding the commencement of direct talks between British Government Ministers and Sinn Féin. The Government believes it is essential that all political parties in Northern Ireland, including Sinn Féin. are involved at an early date in the talks process leading to a negotiated settlement. I took the opportunity of my meeting with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in Belfast on 12 April to reinforce that point. We have been actively involved in dialogue with both the British Government and Sinn Féin in clearing the way for yesterday's commencement of ministerial discussions.
Miss Harney: Will the Taoiseach say what involvement the Government had in ending the stalemate yesterday?
The Taoiseach: The Government has been involved not only yesterday but over the weeks in which this argument has been going on between Sinn Féin and the British Government about the precise basis for the talks and at various points during that period we have suggested particular formulae for breaking the deadlock. We sought to explain the position of one side to the other and we sought in general to break down what was an understandable barrier of mistrust considering the position of both sides. I am glad a succession of efforts by many people involved with the Government over many weeks, together with the very important and principal efforts of the two parties directly  involved, helped in breaking the deadlock and leading to yesterday's good news.
Mr. B. Ahern: I welcome the progress made during the Easter recess, particularly yesterday. Lest we get into further difficulties, not between the Taoiseach and me but between others, which is already evident to a certain extent, does the Taoiseach see any real difference of substance between the exploratory talks which the British Government will enter into with Sinn Féin and the bilateral political talks which have commenced and will continue with the other political parties?
The Taoiseach: There is obviously some difference of agenda between the two talks processes in that there are certain items that would be proper to one set of discussions that do not arise in regard to the other set. I do not need to be specific about that; I am sure the Deputy understands exactly what I am referring to. There are also many common elements of the agenda in the two talks processes and I hope that over time the two will merge.
Miss Harney: Will the Taoiseach agree that a twin-track approach will be avoided only if every party comes to the talks on the same basis and if all parties unequivocally and permanently renounce violence? Does he agree that is the way to achieve comprehensive dialogue?
The Taoiseach: That is a reasonable statement with which I cannot disagree. Obviously in the exploratory phase of discussions with parties that were previously associated with violence, there will be a need to tease out certain issues in that regard so as to establish that the conditions mentioned in the Deputy's question are met by all. I am confident that if we can continue in the same painstaking but constructive spirit that has been shown by all those involved in recent weeks, we will be able to reach that point.
Mr. B. Ahern: The Taoiseach outlined that he has been involved in moving the process forward. Am I correct in understanding that Sinn Féin can raise all issues in the Framework Document in the exploratory talks in the same way that any other political party can raise its various agenda issues in the bilateral talks?
The Taoiseach: In practice. I think Sinn Féin can raise any issue it wishes in those discussions. That includes all issues that arise in the Framework Document and that has been well established. It was not the area where difficulties lay until now which prevented the talks starting. I see no difficulty in that regard.
Miss Harney: The Taoiseach said earlier that he was going to invite all the parties to talks on the basis of an open agenda. In the case of talks with the former paramilitaries, will the Government have at the top of the agenda the question of the decommissioning of arms in their possession?
The Taoiseach: I do not know that we will be putting agenda items in any particular order because we regard the agenda as an open one and I do not believe that question will arise in the form posed by the Deputy.
Mr. B. Ahern: Will the Taoiseach indicate if it would be correct to assume that in the exploratory talks with Sinn Féin he is confirming that it is the Government's view that every issue can be discussed, as is the case in the bilateral discussions? In the talks with the Irish Government under Strand II will he indicate that he will recognise Sinn Féin in a similar manner to all other political parties and that the only difference in the exploratory talks, the bilateral talks and the framework talks, the commencement of which I welcome, is that the issue of security will be the only item excluded? With the exception of the security issue, the Taoiseach appears to be fully recognising Sinn  Féin, as does the British Government, except that it is putting a different label on it.
The Taoiseach: Security issues are not excluded from any of the talks. I believe that parties which have had no association with violence at any stage in their history would wish to raise security-related matters and would be perfectly entitled to do so in discussions with either the British Government or the Irish Government. I would be happy to receive views on security issues from the SDLP or the Unionist parties. The issue that arises with regard to some parties is the decommissioning of arms. As the Deputy is no doubt aware, the majority of parties in Northern Ireland representing the majority of people there have not at any time been associated with armed organisations. In respect of the minority of parties that have been associated with armed organisations in the past, the issue of how those arms can be put out of commission is a relevant consideration which must and will be raised in the appropriate way.
If we are to reach a position where everyone sitting around the table has the same mandate, solely related to the number of people who voted for them and not in respect of any arms that may be held by those associated with them, we must make progress towards taking the arms in question out of commission. That has been understood certainly in regard to participation in this House and in deliberations concerning the formation of a Government. It is a very important principle of parity of esteem in democratic dialogue that everybody should approach discussions on the sole basis of their electoral mandate and not by reference to any implied pressure they can exert because of the existence of arms in the hands of associated organisations. In order to achieve that position of parity of esteem those arms must be taken out of commission. That is a reasonable issue, not the only one, which will be raised in discussions with those parties to whom that consideration applies.
Miss Harney: I am pleased with what the Taoiseach has said, but I was disappointed with his earlier response to me. Will he agree that the most important thing we need to do now in the context of Northern Ireland is to build confidence between the different communities if we are to reach a settlement acceptable to unionism and nationalism? In that process will he agree that the issue of arms is central to the question of confidence and that the fact that so many illegal arms are still in the hands of the paramilitaries is a major obstacle to the creation of confidence? Does he not see the role of his Government and the British Government as one of seeking to build confidence? I ask him to put at the top of his agenda the issue of arms when he meets the parties associated with the former paramilitaries.
The Taoiseach: The Government's position on paramilitary arms is so well known that there is not any particular need to ask me to reiterate it every second day.
Miss Harney: I want the Taoiseach to raise it with the people who matter.
The Taoiseach: I have made it clear that is and will remain our position and we will do everything in our power to ensure that it will be achieved. However, I do not want to be in a position where by simply repeating that point I create any psychological obstacles on the part of people who may feel defensive about this issue from engaging in dialogue on this and all the other relevant issues. Many other issues are relevant and I would not wish to say that one item was central. All these items are important. Without progress on the arms issue there will not be progress on other issues. Equally, for there to be progress on the arms issue there are many other issues on which there must be progress. That is the balanced way in which the Government is approaching this matter and I believe it is also the balanced manner in which the British  Government is approaching it, despite some criticisms that may have been directed at it. I believe it is the manner in which Sinn Féin is approaching it.
In recent days I have been very struck particularly by the way in which Sinn Féin is seeking not just to represent its point of view, but is genuinely seeking to understand the fears and worries of people who might traditionally have been antagonistic towards it. That is a very good sign. In recent days we have seen an effort by all those involved to do what is essential, namely, to understand and express the view of their antagonists rather than simply repeat their own view.
Mr. B. Ahern: I agree with what the Taoiseach has said. During the last Question Time before the Easter recess we said that a small issue appeared to be holding up talks. I have said on many occasions that the decommissioning of arms must be the first item on the agenda and I am glad that is the line the Taoiseach took yesterday. It is clear from Britain's handling of the position that the British consider it necessary to have an exploratory phase of talks and the Taoiseach has clarified the issue and indicated that he does not consider this to be a matter of any great substance. Will the Taoiseach agree that all the talks that will take place with Sinn Féin or others will be exploratory until we move to round-table talks? Is that not the real issue? Having listened to some of the statements today, I believe that difficulties could arise which do not exist at present. The decommissioning of arms is the central issue and it must be dealt with as the number one issue on the agenda. Making a distinction between exploratory talks and bilateral talks involves an unnecessary use of the dictionary once again.
The Taoiseach: We both agree on that.
Mr. B. Ahern: Could we in this House at least agree that what we are talking about are talks, the decommissioning of  arms being the first item on the agenda and, second, that all of these talks are exploratory since we cannot have any round table discussion until they have been finalised?
The Taoiseach: Deputy Bertie Ahern and I could agree — being responsible for leading our respective parties — that the use of the dictionary in politics is a recipe for difficulty. We should not become too hung up on semantic issues. Indeed the less emphasis placed on the definition of the difference between, say, “exploratory”, “substantive” and so on the better. Obviously, certain issues have to be dealt with on the part of certain parties that do not have to be dealt with by others. I agree with Deputy Harney that, from the point of view of building confidence on the other side, so to speak, certain issues must be dealt with fairly early on to establish that the political will does exist. Once that has been done, we should not erect too many semantic barriers between one set of discussions and another. With the sort of good will I have heard expressed in recent days by all concerned, in a practical way, we can and will move forward but the road is a long one.
Mr. B. Ahern: Has the Taoiseach made any arrangements vis-à-vis the issuing of invitations under Strand II to the political parties in the North? Can he give us any further information on the matter?
The Taoiseach: No, I have not done so yet. I have not set a date by which I should do so but I have given an indication that we will do it. We would hope to do so quite soon.
An Ceann Comhairle: I am sure the House would wish me to convey our greetings to our British Parliamentary colleagues on this happy occasion and  wish their stay with us to be happy and successful.
Céad mile failte — a hundred thousand welcomes.
The Taoiseach: I am sure they will have found this House is a lot less rowdy than theirs.
Mrs. O'Rourke: Watch this space.
Mr. R. Burke: It will become a tiresome one for the Taoiseach.
Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Mr. Barrett): I wondered why the people opposite were so well mannered today.
9. Miss Harney asked the Taoiseach if he will report on his meeting in Dublin with the President of the EU Commission, Mr. Jacques Santer. [7512/95]
10. Mr. B. Ahern asked the Taoiseach if he will make a statement on his recent discussions in Dublin with Mr. Jacques Santer, President of the EU Commission. [7569/95]
The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 9 and 10 together.
I met the President of the European Commission, Mr. Jacques Santer, on Tuesday, 11 April 1995. I was accompanied at the meeting by the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Dick Spring, and by the Minister of State for European Affairs, Deputy Gay Mitchell.
We had a wide-ranging discussion concentrating mainly on European issues, notably the timetable and agenda for the 1996 Intergovernmental Conference and enlargement of the European Union. We also discussed the Northern Ireland situation.
Miss Harney: Did the Taoiseach raise with the President of the European Commission, Mr. Jacques Santer, the matter of the disallowance to Ireland of £100 million in relation to the handling of beef intervention and other matters by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry?
The Taoiseach: I did indeed. I expressed the very strong view that account should be taken by the European Community of the fact that Ireland spent a very large sum of money on the Tribunal of Inquiry into the Beef Processing Industry seeking to investigate and eliminate such abuse and that the Commission should take account of the political will of the Dáil, expressed in that tribunal, to stamp out abuse.
Miss Harney: What was the response of the President of the European Commission? Did the President say he would do something on behalf of the Irish Government, or is that the end of the matter?
The Taoiseach: As the Deputy would expect, the President's response was non-committal.
Miss Harney: Will we have to pay it early on?
The Taoiseach: I hope not, but that is a matter that remains to be seen. Obviously, the President took note of the points I made to him. He pointed out to me, although he did not need to, that the stage has not yet been reached at which a decision has been taken on this matter. There is a number of appellate procedures we can go through before any final decision is taken. Obviously it is for us to go through those first before any question comes to be determined at Commission level. I felt it was important in the course of a meeting of this nature, the second I have had with the President of the European Commission within a relatively short period, to emphasise our commitment to stamp out fraud, our  sense that the calculation of the fines in this instance was unfair to Ireland in view of the political commitment we have shown to stamp out fraud in this area.
Mr. B. Ahern: I agree with the Taoiseach that the fact that this House and the country generally have shown much greater awareness than other member states of the necessity to eliminate fraud is something which should stand to our credit. Regarding the Taoiseach's discussions with the President of the European Commission on the Intergovernmental Conference to be held in 1996, what indications of support did the President indicate for the Irish agenda outlined by the Taoiseach prior to that meeting?
The Taoiseach: The items on the Irish agenda have not been fixed at this point. A number of issues are essential to us, the first of which is maintaining our position of having a Commissioner of Irish nationality at all times. There are also wider questions of concern to us in regard to our position on the Council of Ministers, of the Presidency to which we are entitled on a regular basis but, on a deeper, less specifically Irish level, we have a very deep concern to ensure that the power of initiative of the Commission is maintained. As a country that has benefited enormously from European integration we would regard the Commission and its power of initiative as the principal motor of European integration. On that issue, there is a very strong affinity of interest between Ireland and the Commission because we are one of those countries protecting the power of initiative of the Commission and seeking to enhance it in certain areas. We would share the view, expressed by many, that the pillars of the European Union where the Commission does not have the power of initiative, namely, pillars 2 and 3, have not been as effective as pillar 1, particularly in regard to justice and home affairs where there should be a much stronger European effort undertaken to stamp out drug trafficking and related  crime. The lack of the Commission's power of initiative in this area has been one of the factors that has meant we have not seen the progress at European level we ought to have seen on this matter of combating crime and drugs.
Were I to be asked what were Ireland's broad priorities for the forthcoming Intergovernmental Conference I would say, first, to improve the effectiveness of European institutions in the light of prospective enlargement and, second, to bring the European Union closer to public opinion within Europe. On both those issues we need to strengthen the hand of European institutions in dealing with the crime problem because, if we can do so, we shall be not only strengthening those institutions in a broad sense but also bringing them closer to public opinion, allowing Europe to deal with an issue of paramount importance to its citizens, namely, the safety of themselves and their families.
Mr. B. Ahern: Nobody on this side of the House would argue against co-operation on combating crime, particularly that related to drugs, having witnessed the quantity of drugs coming in here which has forced the market value of ecstasy from £30 at Christmas to £3 last weekend, thus demonstrating the enormous need for such co-operation. When are we likely to see the White Paper on which the Tánaiste has been sitting for many months past? Does the Taoiseach know anything about it? We were promised it several months ago.
The Taoiseach: I do not know in what country Deputy Ahern has been living if he thinks the Tánaiste has been sitting on this issue. As anybody who takes even a passing interest in foreign affairs will know, the Tánaiste has been conducting an extensive series of seminars nationwide, consulting the electorate and those interested in foreign policy on these important issues. It is of enormous importance that that be done. Indeed any conclusions reached in that White  Paper will be all the more valuable for the fact that, unlike previous efforts in this regard, this Government and this Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs have taken the trouble to consult people throughout the country on this issue. The proposals he brings to Government for consideration will reflect the wide range of opinion he has heard throughout the country.
Mr. R. Burke: He was very grateful to all those people who agreed with him and he violently disagreed with those people who contradicted him.
16. Dr. Woods asked the Minister for Equality and Law Reform the further progress, if any, he has made in the last six weeks in his preparations for a referendum on divorce in 1995; the measures, if any, he proposes to tackle the outstanding issues; and when each of the promised legislative measures will be published in view of his announced target date for the referendum of 30 November 1995. [7635/95]
18. Ms Keogh asked the Minister for Equality and Law Reform the progress, if any, which has been made in drafting the proposed legislation on divorce; if it is intended to publish the draft legislation before the proposed divorce referendum; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7573/95]
25. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Equality and Law Reform if he will accept submissions from interested parties for consideration in the context of his Department's £500,000 expenditure on information in the run-up to the divorce referendum; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7553/95]
29. Miss Harney asked the Minister for Equality and Law Reform if a date for the holding of the divorce referendum has been agreed. [7517/95]
30. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Equality and Law Reform the plans, if any, he has for the national development of professional marriage and family therapy services in preparation for the impending divorce referendum similar to and in view of the financial provision for free legal family law services. [7408/95]
38. Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Equality and Law Reform the proposals, if any, he has to expand the network of law centres operating under the free legal aid scheme in view of the expected increase in work following the proposed referendum on divorce; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7616/95]
97. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Equality and Law Reform in view of the financial provision for the free legal family law services, the plans, if any, he has for the national development of comparable professional marriage and family therapy services in preparation for the impending divorce referendum. [7836/95]
Minister for Equality and Law Reform (Mr. Taylor): I propose to take Questions Nos. 16, 18, 25, 29, 30, 38 and 97 together.
I have consistently made clear to the House that the Government's decision on the details of its proposals to remove the ban on divorce contained in the Constitution will be formally announced by way of publication of a Bill to amend the Constitution. The declared intention is to publish, in conjunction with publication of the Amendment of the Constitution Bill, the draft of a divorce Bill, dealing with the financial consequences of divorce for spouses, were the people to vote “yes” in the referendum. The purpose is to allow the voters know about those details at the time they are voting on the constitutional issues of divorce. The Government sub-committee on divorce, which I am chairing,  continues to make progress on its preparatory work in relation to the divorce referendum.
I have indicated previously to the House on a number of occasions that the main legislative and administrative measures which I am concerned to have dealt with in the run-up to the divorce referendum are the Family Law Bill, 1994, which is currently awaiting Committee Stage in the Seanad having been passed by the Dáil, the Civil Legal Aid Bill, 1995, at Committee Stage in the Seanad, the Domestic Violence Bill, which will be published shortly, and implementation of further phases of development for the legal aid board, the family mediation service and counselling services, on the basis of the substantial funding provided by the Exchequer to those areas. I can also report continued progress on those matters in recent months.
Other matters which are primarily the responsibility of the Minister for Finance in relation to the tax aspects of divorce, of the Minister for Justice in relation to the courts and of the Minister for Social Welfare in relation to social welfare aspects are also the subject of proposals for reform in anticipation of divorce.
I have also made clear to the House on several occasions that the decision on timing of the referendum will take into account the case before the Supreme Court that concerns the constitutionality of provisions in our separation laws. The court had scheduled the case for hearing on 25 April but I understand that a new date is to be set because of the interruption of certain other work in hand.
In the circumstances, no Government decision at this stage on a definite date for the holding of the referendum is possible. I have, however, set a target date of 30 November next by which time I hope to have the family law programme of legislative and administrative measures in place.
The money which has been allocated to my Department is for a programme of information on the Government's  divorce proposals. The information programme will be on similar lines to recent referendum programmes and on that basis it will cover information of a factual kind.
I am aware of concerns raised that the support services of counselling, mediation and legal aid should be adequate in any divorce regime. In each of those areas I am already engaged as Minister in assisting a comprehensive programme of expansion and development to provide protection and support for couples who, for one reason or another, are in difficulty with their marriages.
Where a marriage breaks down I am concerned that immediate resort to the law can affect the prospect of reconciliation or of voluntary settlement. Therefore, where there is a possibility of a reconciliation people should be encouraged and facilitated to avail of counselling. It is equally important that where parties can settle the terms of their separation they should be facilitated to do so by way of mediation. The importance of this was recognised in the Judicial Separation and Family Law Reform Act, 1989, section 5 of which requires a solicitor acting for an applicant for a decree of separation to ensure the applicant's awareness of alternatives to separation proceedings by way of reconciliation through counselling, or by way of agreement on the terms of separation through mediation and legal advice.
Last year I secured £750,000 for organisations involved in marriage guidance and counselling, an increase of 150 per cent over previous allocations. A particular aim of the increased funding was to enable these organisations to expand and develop their services. A total of 54 marriage counselling organisations were grant-aided. These organisations have for many years provided marriage guidance and counselling on a wide scale throughout the State. They are experts in their field and provide a quality service. I am happy to be able to say that a further £750,000 has been provided in my Departmental Estimates  for funding of these voluntary organisations this year.
A sum of £300,000 was provided for the Family Mediation Service in 1994, which was more than double the 1993 allocation of £124,000. That increase has allowed for development of the service. Arrangements are in place for the opening very shortly of a second centre to be located in Limerick. Similar funding in 1995 will allow for the employment of additional mediators and, in order to enable the service to be provided on a wider geographical basis, the employment of private mediators on a contract basis.
As Minister, I have overseen an increase in the number of full time law centres from 16 in early 1993 to the present 24. A further six fulltime centres are planned to be opened on the basis of extra substantial funding being provided for the legal aid board, and, of course, I have recently initiated the Civil Legal Aid Bill to put the scheme of legal aid on a statutory basis and to effectively guarantee a system of legal aid.
These developments in the areas of counselling, mediation and legal aid are aimed at providing the necessary framework within which persons whose marriages have broken down can avail of the necessary services to meet their difficulties and those of their children as far as possible. Those difficulties will, unfortunately, continue to exist in the years to come. The important thing is that the State has a comprehensive programme of development of services in relation to the problem of marriage breakdown and of couples who separate. The programme combines both legislative and administrative measures. I am confident that the existing marriage breakdown services in relation to which I have responsibilities and which have been developed financially, administratively and otherwise beyond all recognition in the past few years and continue to be developed, will be capable of responding to any future needs, including divorce.
Dr. Woods: The first part of my question related to the progress made in the past six weeks. Apart from setting 30 November as a target date for the referendum, it appears that very little progress has been made during that period. Given that 30 November is the target date for the referendum, will the Minister tell us the target date for the publication of the referendum Bill? It is obvious that publication date would be at least 30 days in advance of 30 November. Does that mean the referendum Bill will be published before the summer recess or in October? It would be preferable if it were published as soon as possible.
The Minister stated that the divorce Bill will be published, though not necessarily taken, in advance of the referendum. If I understand him correctly that Bill will be published at approximately the same time as the referendum Bill.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy should not ask too many questions together.
Dr. Woods: They are precise questions about dates. The Minister dealt with a number of matters. Based on the target date for holding the referendum, will he give us target dates for the publication of the divorce and referendum Bills?
Mr. Taylor: As I indicated, the target date — which, for the reasons I outlined, can be no more than a target date at this time — for holding the referendum will be 30 November. Deputy Woods made retrospective calculations in so far as the publication of the amendment of the Constitution Bill and the divorce Bill is concerned. I am not in a position to give a particular date for the publication of either of those measures, but both will be published in adequate time to enable discussion and debate on the divorce referendum to take place and for interested parties and groups to consider all aspects of it. At the appropriate time and in the usual  way the measures will be announced and introduced.
Ms Keogh: Does the Minister agree it is extraordinary that this is probably the fourth target date set for holding the divorce referendum and that he cannot give us a specific date for the publication of the draft Bill on the consequences of a “yes” vote? Have the various proposals been agreed between the Government parties and, if so, are they the same as those agreed between other partners in Government? If they are not, in what way do they differ? It is important that the draft proposals are published well in advance of the referendum and, therefore, I ask the Minister to agree to publish them as soon as possible and give us a date in that regard.
In his rather lengthy reply the Minister referred to the area of counselling and so on. Will he ensure that funding for counselling is put on a statutory basis? I am sure the Minister agrees it is most unfair that voluntary agencies, in particular, receive notification of funding from year to year. Funding in this regard should be planned further into the future.
Mr. Taylor: Grants to counselling agencies are made each year in a budgetary context and the Deputy should know it would not be possible to commit future Governments or Departments in regard to the moneys that might be available for items such as counselling grants, other than for the year under consideration. Since taking up office I have been at pains to ensure that in the Estimates the maximum possible funding is made available for the very important work carried out by numerous counselling agencies and I have been reasonably successful in that respect. The moneys allocated this and last year have enabled counselling agencies to expand considerably the level of service they provide. Approximately 54 agencies were grant-aided last year and I am sure the same will apply this year. I pay tribute to them for their great  work, but it would not be possible to give a budgetary commitment for future Governments in regard to available funding.
In so far as the first part of the Deputy's question is concerned, I see nothing extraordinary about the arrangements for holding the divorce referendum. I accept there have been delays, but they were occasioned by matters outside the Government's control. The target date is 30 November and, again, I assure the Deputy that there will be adequate time for the House and the public to debate those issues and make up their minds in regard to how they will vote.
Miss Keogh: The Minister did not answer a specific part of my question.
Dr. Woods: The Minister previously gave us several target dates; dates in May and June were mentioned and 30 November was announced at a great gathering of the Labour Party for a special conference.
Mr. Taylor: That is so.
Dr. Woods: While I understand the Minister's good intentions in setting a target date, up to now his calculations have not been very accurate. In the context of the date of 30 November, publication of the Bill will probably take place in October, leaving very little time for debate in the Dáil or Seanad. The Supreme Court was supposed to commence examination of the Judicial Separation Act, that has been postponed.
Mr. Taylor: I think it will announce a new date on Thursday next.
Dr. Woods: In the meantime work could progress. For example, there is no reason the Social Welfare Bill could not come before the House at an early date.
An Ceann Comhairle: I ask the Deputy to put brief, relevant questions.
Dr. Woods: When will the Social Welfare Bill come before the House and  what contingency plans does the Minister have in the event of the case being lost in the Supreme Court?
Mr. Taylor: Deputy Woods is correct in saying that much work could progress in the meantime; much work is being done in the meantime. Legislation is proceeding apace and discussions are taking place with interested groups, including the Deputy's party and others. The Deputy's question on contingency plans is hypothetical and does not arise now. We must await the outcome of the appeal to the Supreme Court in connection with the Judicial Separation Act. When the court gives its judgment — I hope sooner rather than later — it will have to be studied with great care because of the implications for the divorce question. I am not prepared to enter into hypothetical considerations as to what might be in it. That matter is sub judice and we must await the outcome. The Attorney General will be requesting a date for the hearing at the earliest time for which the Supreme Court can provide. These are matters outside the control of any of us. I understand the referral of the abortion information measure is what threw the planning of the Supreme Court on that issue out of gear and caused this delay. As soon as the Supreme Court decision is given it will be considered and any necessary adjustments will be made. That is the present position. The work continues apace in the meantime and the target date has been set. In that regard I look forward to the co-operation of the Members of the House. I understand the Social Welfare Bill will be introduced quite shortly by the Minister for Social Welfare.
Ms Keogh: I would like the Minister to reflect on the core issue in relation to the divorce referendum, namely, the grounds for divorce. I ask for a straight answer from the Minister to this question. Has the Government agreed on the proposal for specific issues such as the grounds for divorce? If so, can we  have at least that part of the proposed legislation put before the Dáil or can the Minister make us aware of his views in that area?
Mr. Taylor: The details of the grounds for divorce will form part of the draft divorce Bill which will be published in advance of the divorce referendum. It is at that point that those particular details will be published.
Dr. Woods: I urge the Minister to publish details of that Bill in advance of the summer recess so that people will have every opportunity to examine it and give their views on it so as to achieve as much consensus as is possible. Will the Minister consider publishing the referendum Bill at the earliest possible stage so that people will have an opportunity to consider it well in advance? Finally, in relation to Question No. 25, my colleague, Deputy Callely asked a question——
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy knows the procedure at this time. Only those Deputies who tabled priority questions may put supplementaries.
Dr. Woods: I am putting a supplementary, a Cheann Comhairle.
An Ceann Comhairle: Fair enough but you did mention another Deputy.
Dr. Woods: I did not hear the Minister's answer to the question as to whether he intends to accept submissions from interested parties for consideration in the context of his Department's £500,000 expenditure on information in the run up to the divorce referendum. Is it intended to take submissions in relation to that?
Mr. Taylor: I repeat that the money being allocated to my Department is for a programme of information on the Government's divorce proposals. The  information programme will be on similar lines to recent referenda programmes and, on that basis, it will cover information of a factual kind. Expenditure of that money will be to disseminate information on the Government's divorce proposals. That is what the money is being provided for.
Dr. Woods: Is the Minister saying no, in effect?
Mr. Taylor: I am telling the House what the money is to be expended for. It is for the dissemination of information in exactly the same manner as was done in all previous referenda.
Dr. Woods: If voluntary organisations make recommendations in regard to ways of getting across the information, will the Minister consider those?
Mr. Taylor: It is the Government's responsibility to ensure dissemination of the fullest possible information on this complex question in ways that the Government would regard as appropriate and in fulfilment of its responsibilities. If the Government did not do that, it could be and no doubt would be rightly criticised for putting across to the people the question of voting on an important referendum without giving them the fullest possible information as to the basis of what they would be voting on. That is the reason the money is provided. The Government will carry out its responsibilities in that regard. In regard to the timing question raised by Deputy Woods, I repeat that the details will be published in sufficient time to enable an adequate debate to take place on those important issues both in the House and in the country.
Ms Keogh: I hope the Minister agrees that the terms of the draft Bill should be published as soon as possible so that we can discuss it. In regard to the Minister's reply about counselling services, will he agree that it is not good enough for voluntary agencies, which are working with people who are under stress  and in traumatic circumstances, to have to rely on the largesse of Government from year to year through budgetary measures? Should this not be done on some statutory basis? Should there not be a mechanism evolved whereby such agencies can receive funding on a regular basis which would allow them to budget over a number of years as any business must do?
Mr. Taylor: In the first instance, I do not regard the grants made to the counselling agencies as largesse. I regard it as a recognition of the remarkable and important work they do around the country. Their work is essential and I am pleased to have been able to provide sufficient funds for them last year and this year to enable them to considerably expand the services they provide.
Ms Keogh: What about next year?
Mr. Taylor: It is not possible to guarantee grants to any agency, be they counselling or otherwise, in any circumstances other than on a year to year basis because they are budgetary matters, as the Deputy knows or should know. It is a matter of the particular financial position at Estimates and budget time, taking taxation and other expenditure matters into account. These are matters that are debated in this House and must be approved by this House and it is not possible to guarantee particular amounts by way of grant to any agency. Obviously, that is a matter for the Government of the day and it depends on the budgetary and Estimates position in each year.
An Ceann Comhairle: The time for dealing with priority questions is now clearly exhausted. I can, however, deal with Priority Questions Nos. 19 and 20 in ordinary time in accordance with procedures recently adopted by this House.
Dr. Woods: What about Question No. 17?
An Ceann Comhairle: No. Question  No. 17 is out. I said Questions Nos. 19 and 20.
Kathleen Lynch: A Cheann Comhairle, can I ask a question of yourself?
An Ceann Comhairle: I can call the Deputy now but I must first hear the Deputies who have tabled the questions. Let us have the reply to Question No. 19 in the name of Deputy Woods.
19. Dr. Woods asked the Minister for Equality and Law Reform the proposals, if any, he has to promote and encourage the provision of sustainable employment for people with disabilities; and the obstacles he has identified which restrict and inhibit people with disabilities in their search for jobs. [7637/95]
26. Miss Quill asked the Minister for Equality and Law Reform the action, if any, he intends to take to improve the situation of people with disabilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7554/95]
32. Mr. M. McDowell asked the Minister for Equality and Law Reform if he intends to extend the 3 per cent quota of disabled people working in the Civil Service; and if he will apply the quota across the public sector generally. [7634/95]
Mr. Taylor: I propose to take Questions Nos. 19, 26 and 32 together.
The creation of the Department of Equality and Law Reform clearly demonstrates the Government's determination to secure greater equality in Irish society including equality of treatment for people with disabilities.
In 1993, I established the Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities with the task, inter alia, of ensuring greater participation by people with disabilities in all aspects of life including  employment, and to make recommendations setting out necessary changes in legislation, policies, practices and structures to help achieve that objective. The commission has undertaken a comprehensive review of the situation, including extensive consultations with people with disabilities, their parents and carers, as well as other relevant interests. It also established a work and training group for the specific purpose of bringing forward proposals in the area of training and employment needs of people with disabilities.
Pending receipt and consideration of the report, I do not intend to present proposals to Government regarding the 3 per cent quota for the employment of people with disabilities in the Civil Service. However, I am concerned that the quota in the wider public sector is brought up to 3 per cent and I am currently consulting with my Government colleagues for the purpose of agreeing further initiatives aimed at achieving this objective.
As indicated in the programme, A Government of Renewal, the Government regards the work of the Commission as fundamentally important. The Government will take specific action to end discrimination and to ensure equal opportunity for participation by all citizens in Irish life. In this regard, when the Commission has reported, the Government will consider a disabilities Act to set out rights of persons with a disability.
In the employment area, I am bringing forward legislation to extend legal redress against discrimination over a wide range of grounds, including disability. This initiative will be paralleled by equal status legislation, aimed at countering discrimination in the provision of goods and services.
The Commission is expected to present its report at the end of the year. On receipt of the report, I will examine its recommendations with a view to considering what additional measures may be required, by me or by my colleagues  in Government, to improve the employment prospects and the general welfare of people with disabilities.
In 1994 the Government provided £2 million for a pilot programme for supported employment of people with disabilities in viable business projects. The programme is being administered by the Department of Health with the assistance of the Department of Enterprise and Employment. The pilot programme is being continued in 1995. My Department is actively involved in planning the expenditure in relation to the continuation of the programme. My Department is represented on the Programme for Competitiveness and Work monitoring committee for the employment of people with disabilities. The programme provides that the monitoring committee will promote and review progress in the employment of people with disabilities in the public and private sectors, with a view to increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities in the private sector in particular.
Dr. Woods: Is the Minister aware that people with disabilities are facing a real crisis exemplified by the fact that almost 85 per cent of those in wheelchairs are currently unemployed and that percentage applies across the spectrum of people with disabilities? Will the Minister deal with it now as the Government may not last as long as it takes to complete surveys and studies? We know the equality legislation will not be ready until the end of the year so that takes us well into next year. Many suggestions have been made such as disability proofing various measures taken by Government. We have undertaken gender proofing of measures so why not disability proof these measures when the Government is giving out substantial grants for job creation or when new schemes are being introduced in the public service?
Mr. Taylor: Deputy Woods knows things are being done. The Government provided £2 million in 1994 for the pilot programme for supported employment  of people with disabilities in viable business projects. The ongoing nature of that will be carefully examined. Work is ongoing on the Programme for Competitiveness and Work monitoring committee. The preparation of anti-discrimination legislation dealing with the employment of people with disabilities is very well advanced and should be published this year.
The very important detailed work of the Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities is coming to an end and a report should be available by the end of this year. I anticipate there will be specific suggestions on employment that will be of long standing benefit to people with disabilities. The Government has achieved its target regarding the 3 per cent quota for the employment of people with disabilities in the Civil Service. I am in consultation with my ministerial colleagues regarding new initiatives to improve the numbers of people employed in the wider public service. Initiatives have been taken and will continue to be taken.
Dr. Woods: I made two specific suggestions, first that all proposals be disability proofed before grants for employment in the private sector are allocated and the same should apply to the public sector when new developments take place. The Minister should not rest on his laurels now that the 3 per cent quota for the employment of people with disabilities in the Civil Service has been reached as we know it is not 3 per cent in the wider public sector and the percentage should have been increased by this stage. A great deal could be said about this. I tabled questions on it but they were referred to the Minister for Finance. It is very hard to know to whom to table questions these days. A question similar to the one I tabled has come up today but it is addressed to the Minister for Equality and Law Reform. Perhaps whoever was fiddling with the questions  has stopped and it will settle down to something more logical.
Ms Keogh: I do not think so.
Dr. Woods: The Government is considering the terms for naturalisation and the loans and developments that are considered in cases of naturalisation. When setting out the conditions and clauses for granting naturalisation why not consider disability proofing them as well?
Mr. Taylor: It would be like the Masri passports.
Dr. Woods: Yes, they lead to passports but why not disability proof them?
Mr. Taylor: I would be very happy to consider the feasibility of the Deputy's suggestions. I assure him and the House that I am not sitting on my laurels regarding the attainment of the 3 per cent quota in the Civil Service. The decision to allocate a quota of 3 per cent of Civil Service jobs to those with disabilities was taken by a Government in 1977 and successive Governments including those in which Dr. Woods served, failed to achieve that target which was finally achieved when I was Minister for Equality and Law Reform. It is not appropriate to suggest that I am sitting on my laurels as the target was not attained until now.
Ms Keogh: I agree absolutely with Deputy Wood's suggestion of disability proofing. I do not see why we cannot have a system of disability proofing. On the question of inclusiveness for those with disabilities in employment, is it true that our Government has refused to allocate 65 per cent of the Horizon employment programme to those suffering from disability, as has been recommended by the EU and that Ireland, France and Greece are the only countries which have refused to do this? What percentage of the programme will be directed towards those suffering from disability?
Mr. Taylor: I suggest that the Deputy tables a question on that point and the appropriate Minister will answer it.
Ms Keogh: I am glad the Minister said that because I tabled a specific question which was redirected to the Minister for Enterprise and Employment. What responsibility does the Minister have for those with disability? It is not good enough to have a commission on disability and to put issues on the long finger. If we have a programme which can be used the Government should take responsibility for it. I am delighted the Minister made that point because the question was redirected as were four other questions dealing with disability, which he should have taken on board.
20. Dr. Woods asked the Minister for Equality and Law Reform when the term of office of the members of the Legal Aid Board expires; when he will appoint a new board; the membership of the new board; if the new board will include 40 per cent representation for both women and men; whether staff members are to be appointed to the board; and, if so, the way in which they are to be selected. [7638/95]
Mr. Taylor: With effect from today, 25 April 1995. I have appointed six members of the Legal Aid Board in place of the members whose term of office expired on 24 April 1995. Details of the membership of the new board are set out in a tabular statement which I propose to circulate in the Official Report. At least 40 per cent of the membership of the board will be women and at least 40 per cent will be men.
There are seven further seats on the board to be filled and two of them will be filled by persons who are members of the staff of the board. I am in discussions with the unions representing the staff interests and I am confident that they will be in a position soon to agree arrangements for the nomination of staff representatives to the board.
Persons appointed on 25 April 1995 to the Legal Aid Board
|Anne Watkin, BL||The Belfry, Cloghers, Tralee, County Kerry.||Barrister-at-law.|
|Louise Crivon, BL||2 Annesbrook, Clonskeagh, Dublin 7.||Barrister-at-law.|
|Mary Maher||28 Annaville, Dublin 6.||Journalist (Irish Times).|
|Dan McCarthy||Galmoylestown, Mullingar, County Westmeath.||Farmer.|
|Robert Browne||Department of Equality and Law Reform, Mespil Road, Dublin 4.||Assistant Secretary, Department of Equality and Law Reform.|
|Dermot Condon||Social Welfare Services Offices, Letterkenny, County Donegal.||Principal Officer, Department of Social Welfare.|
Dr. Woods: I thank the Minister for his speedy reply. I did not realise it was imminent.
Mr. Taylor: The timing was perfect, as always.
Dr. Woods: I trust the Minister has allowed for continuity of membership given that the previous board gave excellent service and met the targets set by him.
Mr. Taylor: As regards the previous board, one aspect which I will not follow relates to gender balance. The board appointed by a previous Government was all male.
Dr. Woods: We have failed dismally to provide for gender balance by leaving out Question No. 17 today. It relates to equal opportunities for women at decision-making levels in employment. It was not found possible to deal with  the question, even as an ordinary one, which would have been acceptable.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: It did not meet the established criteria.
Mr. Dempsey: The Minister indicated that a further seven people will be appointed, two of whom will be staff members. What criteria will be used to select the remaining five people?
Mr. Taylor: The criteria set out in the Civil Legal Aid Bill will be followed. The board is being appointed on a non-statutory basis but when we pass the Bill I intend to reappoint the same board on a statutory basis. The guiding parameters are those set out in section 4 of the Bill.
Mr. Kenneally: I assume the two staff members will be chosen by the staff. They must choose either two men or two women to allow for the 40 per cent representation on the board. They must pick certain people to achieve this. How does the Minister intend to address that and ensure they are not forced to do something they do not want to do?
Mr. Taylor: I had discussions with unions representing the staff interests and their concerns will be met satisfactorily.
21. Mr. Dempsey asked the Minister for Equality and Law Reform the plans, if any, he has to legislate to allow a natural father equal access and rights to his child in view of the case of a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath. [7156/95]
23. Ms O'Donnell asked the Minister for Equality and Law Reform if he will consider the equal rights of unmarried fathers in relation to custody applications and access rights to their children following the breakdown of non-marital relationships; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7524/95]
Mr. Taylor: I propose to take Questions Nos. 21 and 23 together.
While both these questions are concerned with the rights of unmarried fathers in relation to their children, it may be useful first to compare the law applicable where the parents in question are married to each other with the legal framework governing the rights of unmarried parents.
The principal difference is the fact that married parents are automatically joint guardians of their children and, as such, would usually enjoy the right to custody of their children, in the sense of the right to physical care and control of those children.
By contrast, in a case where the parents of a child are not married to each other, the general principle is that, during her lifetime, the mother is sole guardian of her child. However, the law in this area has now been modified by the Status of Children Act, 1987, so that a father who is not married to the mother of his child may apply to the court to be appointed a guardian of that child and, where both partners are agreeable to the father being appointed guardian, there is a very simple court procedure which can be availed of. If there is a dispute, the court will determine the matter having regard to the welfare of the child as the first and paramount consideration.
In the event of disputes arising between married parents, as when a marriage breaks down and the parents cannot agree on custody or access arrangements, the Guardianship of Infants Act, 1964, provides a mechanism whereby these disputes may be resolved. That mechanism is also available to an unmarried father who may be seeking custody of, or access to, his child. Whether the parents are married or unmarried, the courts, in making a decision as to the appropriate arrangements in any one case, will always have regard to the welfare of the child as the first and paramount consideration.
 The Government is committed to updating the law in relation to the guardianship of children and the current regime governing custody and access will undoubtedly be reviewed in the context of drawing up the relevant legislative proposals. However, these are sensitive and delicate matters where precise regulation is not always possible or, indeed, desirable. Any legislation in this area can at best offer an improved framework within which the jurisdiction of the courts can be exercised in the interests of all parties and, most particularly, in the interests of the individual children whose welfare is at issue.
Mr. Dempsey: I agree with the principle outlined by the Minister that in cases such as this the approach should be child centred. We should try to avoid tying it up legally. I brought to the attention of the Minister the case of a father who was deeply involved with his son but was denied access to him for a number of years. There is no doubt about the father's commitment to his son's development. Under the law this natural father has no legal parental rights. The Minister has said there are court systems in place whereby a father can gain access. In this case the father had to make ten court appearances over a ten-month period. When he was given the right of access by the court it was appealed to the Circuit Court and he is still awaiting a decision which will allow him access to his son. Will the Minister agree that that is totally unacceptable and that the legislation to which he referred will have to be brought forward as a matter of urgency to deal with cases such as this?
Mr. Taylor: I do not know why the case referred to by Deputy Dempsey required ten applications. That seems unusual. I cannot imagine why ten applications on a matter of that nature should be required. I am aware that the courts, generally speaking, welcome applications from fathers — married or unmarried — who are seeking access to  and involvement with their children. It is regrettable that there are so many fathers who do not show that level of interest. It is certainly a matter of concern that in the case referred to by Deputy Dempsey where a father seeks access to and involvement with his son there should be delays and difficulties. Part of the difficulty may be as a result of pressure on court time. The Minister for Justice would have more detailed knowledge on the timing aspects. The position is and always has been that in making decisions on questions of custody and access there is one overall determining issue to which the courts always have regard, that is the interests of the child concerned. The issue of guardianship generally is at an early stage of examination in my Department. Certainly the points made by Deputy Dempsey will be taken into account as that examination proceeds.
Mrs. O'Rourke: I have met with the person in question and there is a point which should be borne in mind. As the years go by and the father does not gain access to his son, the child, who is growing and maturing, goes through a period of alienation from the father. This is very serious because the child is of an age when it would be natural and proper for both father and mother to have access to him. It is not good enough that there have been ten applications seeking access. The months and years are passing and access is not being granted. Will the Minister agree that regardless of the position in respect of older children, a young child needs to see both the mother and the father and to know that both are interested in his development? This is an urgent case and I ask the Minister, through his good offices, to institute a review of the matter with a view to ascertaining the cause of the delay and having the case explored further. A grave injustice is being done to the father.
Mr. Taylor: I agree with Deputy O'Rourke that, all other things being equal, it is important for children of any  age that access and involvement should be allowed to the father. As I understand the case referred to by Deputy Dempsey, an order for access was made by the District Court but a problem arose as a result of delays in getting a Circuit Court hearing for the appeal.
Mrs. O'Rourke: In four separate locations.
Mr. Taylor: It is not a matter for me to give legal advice on the issue except to say that provisions are always available under which an application can be made to any court for a special urgent hearing, having regard to the particular circumstances involved. I do not know whether that was considered by the legal advisers of the person concerned. That provision is always available and any court would look sympathetically on an application, depending on the circumstances involved. It is difficult for me to intervene directly in a particular case when the matter is sub judice. The important thing is to get the appeal disposed of as quickly as possible. Perhaps the suggestion I have made could be looked at by the legal advisers concerned and I hope it will be of some help.
Ms O'Donnell: The Minister has given a lukewarm response on behalf of the Government towards recognising any degree of legitimacy for the rights of natural fathers, particularly in a long term relationship such as in this case where a strong emotional tie had been established. Will the Minister agree that in modern Ireland where many children are born as a result of extra marital or non-marital relationships it is becoming increasingly urgent that we develop a social policy response to the rights of natural fathers, given that many fathers are an important emotional part of their child or children's life? A non-marital relationship can break down. In that case it is important that we develop a legislative social policy response to protect the rights of natural fathers. This matter is becoming extremely urgent,  given that many children are the issue of non-marital relationships. Has the Minister considered, with the Minister for Health, the implications of the Keegan case? This case decided at European level that our adoption laws are in breach of our commitment, to recognise the rights of natural fathers. This issue falls directly into the Minister's brief as well as that of the Minister for Health. Will the Minister accept — this may have a bearing on the Westmeath case — that in many cases where it may be necessary for many applications to be made the child is being used as part of the emotional warfare as between the parties? If the mother consistently opposes the application of the father for custody this, in some measure, is based on vindictiveness. This case needs to be looked at because I am sure there are many other cases where women, quite wrongly, use their children as emotional weapons in the tussle and the breakdown of a relationship.
Mr. Taylor: I am sure there are cases where children are used as part and parcel of the differences that arise between spouses and so on. It is difficult to lay down specific social guidelines in legislation on issues such as this. That is why the Oireachtas on previous occasions when bringing in the two items of legislation to which I have referred by and large left these matters to the discretion of the courts, in the knowledge that the guiding principle for the courts is the overall welfare of the child. That is as it should be. We have looked at the Keegan case in the Department. It deals primarily with the question of adoption procedures which is a matter for the Minister for Health. I am sure my colleague has that aspect of the matter under review. We are not dealing primarily with the question of custody of children but rather with access to children. I am not lukewarm about that. I regard it as highly desirable that the fullest possible access and facility should be accorded to any parent of either sex whether married or unmarried who seeks access to his or her children. All  other things being equal, that is also the policy of the courts.
One factor that concerns me about the case adduced by Deputy Dempsey relates to the apparent long delay in having the matter disposed of. It is important that such cases be disposed of within a reasonable time because the longer a child is out of touch with one of the parents, the more difficult it becomes to resume the relationship one would wish to see between the child and both of its parents. I have made a suggestion as to how the matter might be addressed. I suggest that Deputy Dempsey keep in touch with me as to the outcome and if there is any way I can be of help, within the usual guidelines, I will be more than happy to be so.
Ms O'Donnell: In the past it has been the custom for the legislators to decide in the best interests of the child based on all the circumstances. Will the Minister not accept that until recently precedents drawn up by the courts have been firmly based on the constitutional family based on marriage, and that it is time the courts were given legislative direction to take account of the changing society in which we live and the increasing tendency of people, given that we have no divorce, to have non-marital relationships so that there are hundreds and possibly thousands of children who can find themselves alienated from their natural fathers if such relationships break down? We want the Minister, as Minister for Equality and Law Reform, to address this issue by giving some direction to the Judiciary on this new aspect of Irish life which is very important.
Mr. Taylor: The question of guardianship is under consideration in my Department and the point made by the Deputy will be taken into account. Perhaps Deputy O'Donnell is being a little unfair to our courts in suggesting that they deal less than sympathetically with  applications for access to children by natural fathers. My view is quite different — I think they are quite sympathetic in their approach. Indeed, in the case mentioned by Deputy Dempsey, the application to the District Court by the father for access was granted in accordance with his wishes. Whether the freedom of the courts to exercise the fullest discretion in the particular circumstances of any individual case should or should not be controlled by Acts of the Oireachtas is a matter that would require careful examination, and that will be done in the course of the examination under way in my Department.
Mrs. O'Rourke: The father in question was successful in his application for guardianship of the child. That was then appealed to the courts and, on the occasion, the judge was so busy that he could not hear the case on 23 February. The injustice to this parent and, more important, his child, is in the fact that the next sitting of the family law court in the Circuit Court in Westmeath is not until next July. The judge refused to make an order to hear the case at any of three other venues, Roscommon, Longford or Portlaoise, where the case could properly be heard before then. Meanwhile, the natural mother and her partner are planning a marriage — one is happy for them in that respect — and are openly proposing to adopt the child within the marriage. I understand following the Keating case, that is not allowable. However, emotional warfare is being waged above the head of a small child, and it is unsuitable. The refusal of the judge to hear the case at the intervening venues of which I spoke is a matter for the Department of Justice, but surely this is a case in which the Minister for Equality and Law Reform should properly intervene.
Mr. Taylor: I have every sympathy with the points made by Deputy O'Rourke but, whatever my title, under the Constitution the courts are independent in their operation and no Minister  may or would wish to intervene in any way in their operations. However, in special circumstances, applications can be made at any time to any judge and, if he is so minded, there is nothing to stop him hearing a family law case even in the course of a list for the hearing of other types of court cases. That is a matter totally within the discretion of judges who exercise it in accordance with the requirements of justice in any particular case and in accordance with any particular circumstances.
Mr. Dempsey: I thank the Minister for his approach and his helpful suggestion. However, I feel there is something seriously wrong in regard to this case. It will not be taken until July despite the earlier sitting of courts in Roscommon, Longford and Portlaoise. The judge in question discharged the access order made on 8 December on the basis of a two minute meeting with the child early in February and listed the case for July. There is something seriously wrong about that. It is not the Minister's personal responsibility but this is not acceptable in this type of case.
22. Dr. Woods asked the Minister for Equality and Law Reform the plans, if any, he has for the expansion of the civil legal aid service in 1995; and the extra towns or cities which will be provided with a full-time service in 1995. [7629/95]
27. Kathleen Lynch asked the Minister for Equality and Law Reform whether his attention has been drawn to the ongoing problem of long waiting times under the civil legal aid scheme; the proposals, if any, he has to reduce the waiting times; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7615/95]
37. Mr. Molloy asked the Minister for Equality and Law Reform the present situation in relation to waiting lists for free legal aid centres; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7556/95]
Mr. Taylor: I propose to take Questions Nos. 22, 27 and 37 together.
The waiting periods for legal aid applications in each of the 24 centres of the Legal Aid Board as of 31 March 1995 are set out in a tabular statement which I propose to circulate in the Official Report. In 13 centres the waiting time was one month or less, in two centres the time was two months, in four centres the time was between three and four months, in three centres the time was between five months and seven months; and in two centres the time was between nine and ten months. When in 1993 I first took over as Minister with responsibilities in relation to legal aid the waiting period in half of the board's centres was between one month and seven months and in the remainder it ranged from eight months up to 14 months.
I am continuing to ensure that the board has the resources to expand and develop its services consistent with its need to provide legal aid and advice as widely and as quickly as possible throughout the country. The extra resources over the past two years, 1993 and 1994, led to an increase in the number of full-time centres from 16 to 24. Staff numbers in the same period more than doubled. This inevitably led to dramatic reductions in waiting lists and significantly improved access to justice. These matters continue to be subject to review and where waiting lists, for whatever reason, are unacceptable they will be addressed by the board in consultation as necessary with my Department. Staffing levels in the board are now unprecedented and I am confident that the board will use those resources to the optimum extent possible to ensure that all centres can deliver a good and efficient service.
The board has special procedures in place to ensure that in certain cases, such as where the protection of a person from domestic violence is concerned,  there is no delay in handling such cases. To reduce the waiting lists which existed at the beginning of 1993 due to lack of resources the board availed of private solicitors under a pilot project established for the purpose. That scheme is now under review by the board following the submission to it of a report by a special committee on the matter.
The extra funding which I have secured for the board will enable full-time law centres to be opened this year in the counties of Clare, Wexford, Meath, Cavan, Kildare and Offaly. The location of the centres in those counties will be announced in due course when the necessary arrangements are established by the board. The opening of these new law centres should help to reduce waiting lists in the surroundings areas. They will most certainly improve access to justice by reducing the need for persons to travel long distances to a centre.
Law Centre waiting times as at 31 March, 1995
|Law Centre||Waiting Time|
|Castlebar||under 1 month|
|North Mall||4 months|
|South Mall||2 months|
|Ormond Quay||under 1 month|
|Gardiner Street||3 months|
|Mount Street||1 month|
|Finglas||under 1 month|
|Clondalkin||under 1 month|
|Galway||under 1 month|
Dr. Woods: Am I right in saying that the new centres will be located in Clare, Wexford, Cavan and Meath?
Mr. Taylor: As well as Offaly and Kildare.
Dr. Woods: The Minister mentioned there has been a substantial increase in staff numbers. Were the measures to take on extra staff “disability proofed” to ensure that a percentage of people with disabilities would be employed? Has the Minister made any calculation as to the number of additional staff that would be required in the event of there being a “yes” vote in the divorce referendum or could the demand be met by private solicitors under the pilot project?
Mr. Taylor: It is difficult to anticipate the number of application in the event of there being a “yes” vote in the divorce referendum. I imagine there would be a backlog initially and that the number would then level off. The legal aid service, given the substantial increases in funding, staff and the number of law centres provided in recent years which will be extended during 1995, would be well capable of coping with the demand which would arise in the event of there being a “yes” vote in the divorce referendum. The operation of the system, depending on the circumstances in each case, would be kept under review by the Legal Aid Board and my Department. I asked the Legal Aid Board, in making new appointments, to have regard to the need to employ people with disabilities.
Ms Keogh: I was interested to hear the Minister say that a report has been received on the pilot scheme under which private solicitors were appointed by the Legal Aid Board. Will he publish that report? Does he know its findings and the procedures he may have to put in place as a result?
Mr. Taylor: The private practitioners scheme is in operation in the Dublin area where it is most helpful within the  limitations under which it is operating. The report was produced for the Legal Aid Board by an internal subcommittee to indicate how the best use could be made of private practitioners in supplementing the mainstream of the scheme operated through the law centres. The Legal Aid Board is now examining it. I am anxious to extend the operation of the private practitioners scheme after consultation with the unions representing the staff and the Legal Aid Board. Private practitioners have an important supplementary role to play in the important work done by the Legal Aid Board but it may be some time yet before this has been fully evaluated.
Kathleen Lynch: Does the Minister consider that these questions, the legislation that will be put in place, the increase in the number of legal aid centres, with the Social Welfare Bill and the Finance Bill, prepare the ground for the divorce referendum? We hear much about the need for counselling but it is equally important that the Judiciary and law centres be sympathetic to the needs of families and those whose marriages are in crisis. Does the Minister envisage special law courts to deal with the consequences of marriage breakdown to ensure that those whose marriages are in crisis and who cannot afford the services of private practitioners will find a sympathetic ear in tune with the problems and difficulties they are facing? I welcome the increase in the number of legal aid centres throughout the country. I cannot understand why people are in such a rush; it is more important that the legislation is right rather than hurried but if we are to make this major adjustment in society we must ensure that the ground work is done.
Mr. Taylor: There are two distinct aspects to the Deputy's question — the Judiciary and the need for a sympathetic hearing in law centres. The question of the Judiciary and the courts comes  within the ambit of the Minister for Justice and I am sure she will deal with any queries if a question is tabled.
Any person who has recourse to one of the law centres operated by the Legal Aid Board receives the most sympathetic of hearings. Having visited many of the centres, including the newer ones opened in the past year or two. I have been enormously impressed by the expertise and efficiency of the staff who work there. They are experts in the field of family law, more so than many private practitioners would claim to be. They deliver a first class, expert, professional service and no person need have any hesitation about having recourse in that service.
The improvements in the free legal aid service and in counselling and mediation services are important and worth while in their own right regardless of whether there is a referendum on the issue of divorce but the Government is at pains to ensure, in the event of there being a “yes” vote, that the law centres and the ancillary administrative services, counselling and mediation, will be geared to deal efficiently, professionally and sympathetically with the need that will arise. I am satisfied that is the position. Ongoing developments in those areas will continue to be monitored by the Government.
Dr. Woods: On the last point made by the Minister, in the past two years in particular it has been obvious that the Legal Aid Board has made great inroads to the many problems that exist and I wish it every success with its work.
Mr. R. Burke: asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the action, if any, which was taken in relation to the crisis in Rwanda and, in particular, the steps, if any, he has taken to highlight the need for concerted international action to prevent genocide since the  massacre and to ensure the safety of Irish aid workers in the area following the resolution proposed by me and unanimously adopted by the all-party Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs on Thursday, 20 April 1995, expressing concern at recent reports from Rwanda about conditions at internally displaced person's camps in the Gikongoro area of south-west Rwanda and urging the Government to examine the above allegations urgently, to request the Rwandan Government to change its policy on relocation and on humanitarian supplies, to press the United Nations to ensure that adequate monitors are put in place, particularly in the human rights area, to ensure the safety of refugees and to delay the proposed grant of £1 million to the Rwandan Government until adequate guarantees are given relative to the above.
Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs (Ms Burton): At the request of the Government, the Irish Permanent Representative to the United Nations met his counterpart from Rwanda in New York yesterday. He said that the Irish Government condemned the massacre in Kibeho in the strongest possible terms and impressed on the Rwanda authorities the need to control the actions of its troops. He also expressed the Government's firm belief that there can be no settlement of the crisis in Rwanda if the Rwandese authorities cannot win the confidence of all sides. Those responsible for the massacre must be arrested and punished and we have asked the Government of Rwanda to conduct a full investigation into the Kibeho massacre.
In addition, the Government has supported the declaration of the European Union on events in Kibeho which was issued today. In it the EU vigorously condemns the atrocities at Kibeho and calls on the Rwandese authorities to carry out an inquiry into the incident without delay. It also underscores how essential the safe return of refugees is to the process of national reconciliation  and to the long term settlement of the crisis in Rwanda. The EU also notes that its development assistance to Rwanda is dependent on respect for human rights and progress in national reconciliation and calls on the Rwandese authorities to facilitate the work of international aid organisations working there.
To reflect the EU's serious concerns, the declaration is being reinforced by an EU démarche which will be made by EU Heads of Mission to senior members of the Government of Rwanda, in Kigali, today.
I met today representatives of the four main NGOs working in Rwanda — Concern, GOAL, Trócaire and Refugee Trust. We had a lengthy discussion of the massacres at the weekend in Kibeho camp in south-western Rwanda and exchanged views on the Rwandan Government's policy in relation to the camps and to humanitarian aid generally. One point to emerge was the fundamental need for political reconciliation in the country. Given our recent experience here, this is a view I fully support. A member of the women's peace delegation, Mairéad Corrigan, who visited Burundi, expressed strongly the parallels in terms of bringing about reconciliation and trust in that country, a view with which most Irish people identify and support.
The position about human rights monitors is that the UN Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda intends to put 147 human rights monitors in the field. As of now, I understand that there are 82 monitors actually deployed. As part of this team there are now 27 EU monitors deployed, which number will increase to 32 by 1 May. Three of the EU team, including its co-ordinator, are Irish. The present strength of the UNAMIR force in Rwanda is more than 5,800 troops. The mandate of this force includes contributing to the security and protection of displaced persons, refugees and civilians at risk in Rwanda.
The UN Secretary-General recently said that in response to requests from the Rwandan Government, he had  asked his special representative in Rwanda to consider, in consultation with the Government, adjustments which could be made to the Mission's mandate. The Secretary-General will submit to the Security Council shortly recommendations on the role UNAMIR could play in Rwanda after its mandate expires on 9 June.
There is no doubt that in the long term a solution must be found to the problems of Rwands and that this must involve most refugees and displaced persons returning to their homes. I understand that the policy of returning internally-displaced persons to their homes had been proceeding without major difficulties until the outbreak of violence at Kibeho last Saturday when the massacres occured. This was confirmed by the Trócaire representatives who took part in the movement of 80,000 refugees from an adjoining camp to Kibeho, which proceeded without difficulty.
While we can understand the wish of the Rwandese Government to restore some normality and to close camps which could provide bases for activity by the militias, we are concerned at reports that the withdrawal of humanitarian supplies are being used as a tactic to force the return of people to their homes.
The Government will encourage the Rwandese to persist with efforts at national reconciliation. We will continue to provide emergency assistance — the Government has spent £4 million to date under this heading — but we cannot lose sight of the longer term perspective. We cannot allow Rwanda to slide back into the civil conflict without trying to help with rehabilitation and the construction of a civil society. We are, therefore, providing rehabilitation assistance, in addition to emergency aid, in sectors such as health and agriculture. To date the Government has spent £350,000 on rehabilitation projects in these sectors and is committed to contributing this year a total of £1 million in rehabilitation assistance.
 Of the organisations I met this morning three in particular — Concern, Trócaire and Refugee Trust — strongly support the Government's position in this matter. They consider reconciliation and rehabilitation, with the continuing assistance to the camps and to people who are displaced both within and outside the country, as essential. I am obviously deeply concerned to ensure the safety of aid workers and we have been in urgent contact today with the Rwandan Government and the United Nations to ensure that all Irish aid workers in particular are safe. The European Union has also raised this issue in its démarche today to the Rwandan Government.
Mr. R. Burke: I thank the Minister of State for her long detailed answer and I share her ideal of the need for national reconciliation. However, I reject the parallels she drew between the position on this island and that in Rwanda. There is no comparison between the murder of 800,000 people that took place in Rwanda approximately nine months ago and what happened in the camps last weekend and the position on this island. My first question to the Minister of State is to inquire what measures are being taken to highlight the need for concerted action to protect the lives of the people in the camps from the Rwandan People's Army who are bent on revenge, understandable following the killing of 800,000 Tutsis. To suggest, as the Minister of State did in her reply, that the matter is one-sided, that Tutsis are right and Hutus are wrong, is simplistic. There are two million refugees still in camps nine months after the tragedies and genocide that took place and we do not want to see that occur again. The Rawandan People's Army needs to be controlled. What is the Minister of State doing to get that point across from the Irish perspective at the UN and the EU?
Ms Burton: The parallel with Northern Ireland was made by Ms Máiread Corrigan, a member of an Irish women's  peace organisation which went to Burundi with Trócaire to examine the situation there. That delegation, particularly Ms Corrigan, drew the parallel, in the context of intercommunal conflict and conflict being resolved by talking, reconciliation and cross-community initiatives, such as church initiatives, which the delegation described and considered were very important. I said that people who have been engaged here in similar cross-community connections might find echoes and parallels with the position in Rwanda. I am sure most Irish people would support the concept of that type of intercommunal reconciliation and dialogue taking place.
Regarding the RPA, there is no evidence yet that the massacre and outrage which occured at the weekend was planned by the Rwandan authorities. As a Government that is calling for inter national assistance, what happened from its point of view was a public relations as well as a human disaster. It is too early to suggest that it would have had a vested interest via its army in carrying out that massacre and an inquiry into what happened is necessary. This morning we heard a series of detailed reports from the NGO delegations in the hospitals in the areas. Many of the people killed had machete wounds and the army does not carry machetes. Others had serious injuries caused by barbed wire sustained when they tried to climb into the compounds. There was also a general panic and stampede and it was a horrible event.
It is premature to suggest that the RPA is the only faction to be considered because we are not fully informed of the facts. We know that the national army was involved and that it did not behave as an army ought. It is because of that that the Irish Government has expressed its condemnation and outrage of the Rwandan Government, but we want to establish the full facts.
We have been in constant touch both directly with the Rwandan Government and the Irish NGOs. We have used all  our contacts to impress on the Rwandan Government our outrage at what happened at the weekend and we will continue to do so. We will also continue to give humanitarian assistance to displaced persons in the country and refugees in neighbouring countries.
The Deputy said he does not want to see almost three million refugees continuing to live in camps in Rwanda and its neighbouring countries. Unless there is a process of reconciliation, supported by the international community and other African countries, we will never be able to move the people from the refugee camps. A dual strategy is necessary, assistance to the refugees and to Rwanda to make it possible for the refugees to return home because it is only in that way that the plight of the refugees can be brought to an end.
Mr. R. Burke: I disagree with the Minister's analysis. While the reallocation at gunpoint by the Rwandan authorities of Hutu refugees took place last week, there was a curtailment of food distribution and water supply to the camps enforced by the RPA. I impress upon the Minister of State the immediate need for the EU and UN to play an active role in stopping the genocide. There is no point in protesting to the Rwandan Government about it, the international community must play an active role.
I wish to raise a matter of immediate concern to Irish citizens. Is the Minister of State aware of the rhetoric in the Rwandan media which is totally anti-UN and anti-aid agencies? The very worrying aspect of the matter is that our GOAL agency was accused of sedition on the 8 o'clock news on radio Kigali and two of the aid workers, a nurse, Vera Marron, and an administrator, Rosaline Muller, had their passports withheld. What action does the Minister of State intend taking on this matter? I suggest the UN should be asked to advise the 59 GOAL workers and others in the area as to the measures they should be taking regarding their future work in Rwanda. It is essential that be clarified because it is outrageous  that one of our agencies and our citizens who are doing voluntary work there are being so targeted by Rwanda authorities.
Ms Burton: That matter was raised with me this morning by Mr. John O'Shea of GOAL. In regard to the two aid workers he said that some material had been found in their vehicle which, according to GOAL, was placed in it and that appears to have been the cause of the difficulty for them with the Rwandan authorities. I think Mr. O'Shea said it was planted on the workers. Since lunch time we have been in contact with our representatives in New York and Geneva to ask them to impress on the Rwandan authorities the bona fides of Irish aid workers, particularly GOAL workers. When I met United Nations' representatives in New York earlier this month, and when I met various delegations from Rwanda earlier, they talked at great length and with great praise of the work of Irish workers with the various NGOs, like GOAL, Concern, Trócaire and Refugee Trust which are working in Rwanda and in the camps in surrounding countries.
We have made it clear that one of the priorities of the Irish Government is the safety of our aid workers. We regret this incident occurred and asked that their passports be restored to them and that they be released. I have seen the report in the Kigali News. For a number of weeks the Rwandan Government has suggested that the international community is not doing enough to assist in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Rwanda. It acknowledges that Governments, like Ireland, and NGOs are strenuously assisting in these efforts. I hope the episode regarding the two aid workers will be an isolated one.
The Rwandan Government in dealing with a difficult and delicate situation is trying to pressure UN agencies in particular — the criticisms have been mainly of UN agencies — to provide greater assistance within the country. One wonders how the incident in Kibeho could have occurred at a time  when the Rwandan authorities are seeking the greatest possible amount of international goodwill towards their Government in their reconstruction efforts.
Mr. R. Burke: On the matter of our Government's continuing aid to the Rwandan Government, in particular the £1 million, I understand this is being given for medical purposes and for agricultural and other machinery. Surely the principle on which our aid is given must be based on the human rights record of the Government being assisted withstanding scrutiny, one with which we can sympathise? There is no way one could say that the position in Rwanda is acceptable on either the Tutsi or Hutu side. There is grave distrust and if two million refugees are refusing to return home, obviously something is wrong. The fact that two million people remain away from their homes and do not trust their own Government, nine months after the genocide, is a very serious indictment of the Rwandan Government. Is the Minister of State prepared to visit Rwanda, perhaps in the company of some Members of the House, to ensure that the aid is being properly spent and directed to its intended designation and to check the human rights record rather than relying on reports emanating from the United Nations and elsewhere to ascertain whether matters are in order? I believe that one view emanates from United Nations' reports and others but that the factual position is totally different. There has to be something radically wrong when two million people refuse to return to their homes.
Ms Burton: Some of the most reputable Irish agencies involved in aid work, such as Concern, Trócaire and Refugee Trust, this morning stressed that they will support any process of reconciliation and reconstruction within that country, in addition to supporting continuing assistance to people in the refugee camps there. Unless there is a movement offering some hope of civil  reconstruction in Rwanda, people will not be persuaded to return to their homes.
In committing ourselves to supporting the rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts in Rwanda — which we did at the donor conference in Geneva last February — we were one of a number of countries who agreed to do so. The conditions under which Irish aid is given to any country, not merely to Rwanda, are that all of it is subject to very detailed examination and evaluation. For example, we use our contacts with NGOs to check the relevant needs and we also meet people in different ministries. Therefore, it will clearly be seen that any aid is not a blank cheque but subjected to very detailed scrutiny, planning and monitoring, which would be the case also with aid given to Rwanda. We will endeavour to be satisfied that all the money goes to the areas identified as being in greatest need, much of which has been determined on the advice of agencies, such as Trócaire, to areas such as agriculture, health, education and the Ministry of Rehabilitation and Reconstruction.
On the suggestion that I visit Rwanda, I visited the refugee camps in Tanzania with our President in October last. The former Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Deputy Tom Kitt, visited Rwanda with the President shortly afterwards. If it is deemed appropriate, I would be happy to return to Africa at any stage either with or without Deputy Ray Burke——
Mr. R. Burke: Not with me necessarily; this is too serious a subject for smart remarks.
Ms Burton: ——or other Members of the relevant committee. If it is possible for Deputy Ray Burke or Members of the committee to accompany me, I am open to such suggestion but the main objective is for the international community and the Rwandan Government to establish what happened——
Mr. Andrews: The Minister of State could go tomorrow but it is too late.
Ms Burton: Reverting to the broader politics of the position, the Rwandan Government is actively seeking international assistance. What happened last weekend was a disaster not just for those who lost their lives but for the Rwandan Government, which is calling on the international community for assistance, yet its army participated in the horrendous events of last weekend. So far, other refugees have been evacuated and reports from Trócaire this morning confirm that some 80,000 people were evacuated from an adjacent camp without trouble. We must first establish exactly what happened. We are receiving reports constantly and I will keep the Deputy informed of their content.
Ms O'Donnell: I want to raise two points with the Minister of State, accepting that, with her expertise and experience in development work she has a good grasp of the issues involved. The Minister of State mentioned Rwandan rehabilitation and reconstruction generally as well as aid being allocated for medical and agricultural purposes. Is she aware of any specific initiatives being advanced by the United Nations to help in the reconstruction of the overall judicial system? I am sure she is aware that there are no courts there, as all the Rwandan judges were massacred with part of the general population last year. There are no lawyers and bringing people to justice is very much part of the reconciliation process following the genocide.
My second point relates to the extent of the United Nations' forces mandate. Is the Irish Government happy or is it considered acceptable that, because of their mandate, United Nations forces were forced to stand by and not allowed to intervene to save lives during this most recent massacre?
Ms Burton: As Deputy O'Donnell  correctly said, the Rwandan judicial system is in chaos. Probably the most serious feature of contravention of human rights in Rwanda is the conditions of people at present in jail there as there is gross overcrowding. The United Nations agencies are examining that position but its resolution will be very difficult because apparently many hundreds of thousands of people may have been involved in the killings last year. There is an understandable desire to have some judicial process applicable to those people while, on the other hand, there is no present capability within Rwanda to process that number of cases.
There have been no direct requests to us in relation to the Rwandan judiciary or lawyers, they operate under the French legal system rather than on one such as ours. I understand that is also being examined at international level. It is probably quite difficult to get lawyers to go to another country. Efforts are being undertaken, particularly in relation to human rights monitoring personnel, a number of whom could have quite strong legal backgrounds, including some from Ireland.
The mandate of United Nations forces will come up for review. When I met the Secretary General's personal representative Mr. Gharekhan, in New York recently that was one of the matters discussed. At present the United Nations is examining how its mandate can be reinforced, possibly extended, but there are differing views within the Rwandan Government which is comprised of both Tutsi and Hutu representatives, of nine parties, thus representing quite a range of views and ethnic groups. The United Nations mandate is at present being debated and examined and must be resolved by June.
An Ceann Comhairle: I wish to advise the House of the following matters in respect of which notice has been given under Standing Order 20 and the name of the Member in each case: (1) Deputy Batt O'Keeffe — the need to reimburse the Southern Health Board for the introduction of a new waste plan; and the implications of the cost of the plan, which is in excess of £1 million, for the provision of essential hospital services; (2) Deputy Ellis — the delay in granting approvals under the farm building schemes; (3) Deputy Shortall — the need for a high-level co-ordinated response to the drug problem in Dublin; (4) Deputy Eric Byrne — the urgent need to provide access to a methadone maintenance programme in all prisons and to enable drug abusers to continue the programme in the community following their release from prison; (5) Deputy Lynch — the need for school principals to be required to notify school attendance officers on a monthly basis of any suspensions or expulsions made and to expand the school attendance service nationally; (6) Deputy Ó Cuív — an gá atá ann go ceapfar múinteoir feabhais do na bunscoileanna ar Oileáin Árann; (7) Deputy Deasy — the need for urgent measures to prevent the  destruction of wildlife habitats, in particular, those of nesting birds, many of which are being destroyed by hedge cutting and burning of undergrowth and heather; (8) Deputy Quill — the need to clarify the position in relation to the rights of emergency vehicles in view of the decision of the District Court last week; (9) Deputy O'Malley — the possible loss of up to 700 jobs at Shannon Aerospace Limited, Shannon, County Clare and (10) Deputy O'Dea — the need for immediate improvements in the treatment of cancer patients to prevent needless deaths.
The matters raised by Deputies O'Dea, Quill, O'Malley and Ellis have been selected for discussion.
The Taoiseach: It is proposed to take No. 10. It is also proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that the proceedings on the Second Stage of No. 10 shall be brought to a conclusion at 4.30 p.m. on Thursday, 27 April and the following arrangements shall apply: (i) the opening speech of the Minister for Finance and of the main spokespersons for the Fianna Fáil Party and the Progressive Democrats Party shall not exceed 45 minutes in each case; (ii) the speech of each other Member called upon shall not exceed 30 minutes; (iii) Members may share time; and (iv) the Minister shall be called upon not later than 4.10 p.m. on Thursday to make a speech in reply. Private Members' Business shall be No. 25.
An Ceann Comhairle: Are the proposals for dealing with No. 10, the Finance Bill, agreed?
Mr. Sargent: I wish to again register my dissatisfaction at the omission of the Green Party from the list of parties. I recognise that the rules of the House would have to be changed if the order was to be otherwise. In order for more diverse and relevant opinions to be put forward I suggest to the Whips that the  strait-jacket protecting the interests of the larger parties should be loosened from time to time so that my party's views on this and other legislation can be—
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy has made his point quite adequately.
Mr. Martin: The more views we hear on the finance package the better.
An Ceann Comhairle: I take it that the proposals are agreed. Agreed.
Mr. B. Ahern: I thank the Taoiseach for circulating to us the list of proposed legislation for this session and the supplementary B and C lists. Will the Taoiseach make time available at an early date to deal with the transfer of sentenced prisoners Bill which has been promised for some time? There is no reference in any of the lists to the constitutional bail legislation. Does the Government intend to debate that legislation during this session?
The Taoiseach: On the transfer of prisoners Bill, I will be happy to take that legislation next week if the appropriate arrangements can be made. On the bail legislation, this matter has yet to be decided on definitively by the Government.
Miss Harney: I wish to register my protest at the Taoiseach's decision to transfer so many questions to Ministers. He has a long and honourable record on Dáil reform and it is disappointing that questions about the Attorney General's participation in legal action on Sellafield and on issues relating to speeches he made about neutrality and the holding of possible referenda were transferred by him.
On the Government's proposed legislative programme, can we take it that there will be no referendum on Cabinet confidentiality this year as there is no reference to this legislation on the list of proposed legislation? When will the  urgently required arterial drainage legislation be published? As the Taoiseach is aware, the flood committee in Galway is very anxious to meet with him and has sought a meeting. When will that legislation be published?
The Taoiseach: On the question of Cabinet confidentiality and the referendum, one cannot draw the conclusion reached by the Deputy merely because there is no reference to the legislation in the list. While the Government has decided on the list it may, of course, be added to. The arterial drainage legislation is at an advanced stage of preparation. We hoped to have it published by now and I expect——
Mr. Molloy: What is holding it up?
The Taoiseach: The normal drafting problems.
Mr. Molloy: It is more than that.
The Taoiseach: No, it is not.
Mr. Molloy: Stories have it that it is more than that.
An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Molloy will please contain himself in quietude for the time being.
The Taoiseach: Deputy Molloy is long enough a Member of the House not to believe stories. The legislation has been cleared by the parliamentary draftsman, is at an advanced stage of preparation and should be published soon.
Mr. Molloy: Off the record briefings tell us otherwise.
Mr. S. Brennan: Some time ago the Taoiseach promised to introduce an urban rail Bill which would enable the construction of a light rail system in Dublin to commence. There is no reference to this legislation in the list of promised legislation.
Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise and Employment (Mr. Rabbitte): We did not see it when the Deputy was a Minister.
Mr. S. Brennan: Neither is there any reference to it in apprendix C which outlines the legislation being actively worked on. Given that the funds have already been voted——
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy may not elaborate now.
Mr. S. Brennan: ——when will the Bill be introduced?
Mr. Rabbitte: It is already going through Dundrum.
An Ceann Comhairle: Is this promised legislation?
The Taoiseach: Yes. The legislation is at an early stage of preparation but I do not expect it to be introduced until after the summer recess.
Mr. S. Brennan: But the Government has the money.
Ms O'Donnell: On long promised legislation by successive Governments — I say that in fairness to the Taoiseach — does the Government intend to introduce legislation to reform and update the law on insanity and criminal responsibility given the present controversy about the Gallagher case? Will the Taoiseach indicate that at long last after 17 years the Government will move——
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy may not make a speech.
Ms O'Donnell: ——to implement the necessary changes in the law?
An Ceann Comhairle: Is legislation promised in this area?
The Taoiseach: Work on a general scheme is at an advanced stage——
Mr. M. McDowell: The Bill was drafted 17 years ago.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Howlin): When the Deputy's party was in Government.
An Ceann Comhairle: Let us listen to the Taoiseach's reply.
The Taoiseach: The Deputy's party was in Government during some of those years.
Miss Harney: Unfortunately not for long enough.
The Taoiseach: The legislation is at heads form and is almost ready for approval by the Cabinet. When it has been approved, which I expect will happen within the next few weeks, it will then proceed to detailed drafting.
Mr. Martin: On 5 April I asked when the national education and training certification board legislation would be introduced and the Taoiseach said the legislation had been cleared by the Cabinet and would be introduced soon. There is no reference on the list of proposed legislation to an education Bill. Will the Taoiseach clarify the position on this Bill? Was it approved by the Cabinet and, if so, at what stage is it?
Mr. R. Burke: Probably lost somewhere in all the conferences.
The Taoiseach: That legislation should be ready for the House's consideration later in the year, probably in October or November.
An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Sargent has been offering.
Mr. Martin: On a point of order, on 5 April the Taoiseach said it was cleared by Cabinet.
An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Martin may not ignore the Chair.
Mr. Sargent: In regard to two items of promised legislation, has the Taoiseach received letters and cards from people expressing concern that the control of horses Bill has not yet been enacted given that it is available in draft form as drawn up by one of the Government parties? Will he give a date for the publication of the waste Bill?
The Taoiseach: Legislation on the control of horses is at an early stage of preparation but I am not in a position to say when it will come before the House.
Mr. M. McDowell: Is the Taoiseach aware that the legislation to which Deputy O'Donnell referred was drafted in final form by the then parliamentary draftsman, Mr. Vincent Grogan, and has been sitting on a shelf in the Department of Justice for the past 17 years and nobody has done anything about it?
Mr. Rabbitte: That is a matter for the National Library.
An Ceann Comhairle: There should be no debate or argument on that matter now. I will call Deputy O'Donoghue on a final matter.
Mr. O'Donoghue: In view of the escalating crime levels and the fact that drugs are available on every street corner, will the Taoiseach justify to the House why none of the Bills expected to be published this session deals with crime?
An Ceann Comhairle: Has the Deputy a specific item of legislation in mind?
Mr. O'Donoghue: There is no legislation promised in this regard. I am sure the general public will want to know why legislation on fraud, which was promised, bail, or the drug problem is not being introduced.
An Ceann Comhairle: Those matters were adverted to.
Mr. O'Donoghue: The general public is entitled to an answer in respect of those matters.
Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan,: Limerick East): The Deputy's party did nothing about it for seven years.
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Owen): A national bureau for fraud has been set up.
Mr. D. Ahern: Does the Taoiseach not agree that, in view of the crime level, it is unacceptable that the Department of Justice, which is normally prolific in producing legislation, does not have a Bill on the B list for publication this session? What is that Department doing?
Mr. Sargent: My second question related to a date for the publication of the waste Bill, to which I did not receive a reply.
The Taoiseach: I expect that Bill will be published in this session.
Minister for Finance (Mr. Quinn): I move: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”
This Finance Bill is my first and the first for a Labour Minister for Finance. It gives legislative shape to the measures announced in the budget on 8 February. I hope the House can have a constructive exchange of views on the measures in the Bill and on how best we should shape the tax system to meet the needs of this country.
The Bill will facilitate the confirmation of income tax and corporation tax reliefs announced in the budget; the extension of various capital gains tax and capital acquisitions tax reliefs to assist business; the introduction of a number of new and specially focused  reliefs to assist those in rented accommodation, to provide tax relief on local authority service charges, to encourage donations to Third World charities and to afford the opportunity for our cultural institutions to build up the national collection of cultural items; the provision of additional powers to Revenue to counter tax evasion and, in the light of a recent court ruling, to secure the position of the Revenue in the application of its traditional powers in the excise area. The Bill also places a duty on auditors and tax advisers generally to report tax evasion. This provision honours the commitment made unanimously by the Oireachtas to implement the recommendations of the beef tribunal report.
It will also facilitate the refocusing, on the other hand, of certain anti-evasion measures such as the VAT monthly control statement and the easing of penalties for late filing under self-assessment; the introduction of a range of reliefs in the business sphere to promote enterprise and the renewal and upgrading of particular urban areas and tourist resorts; and the introduction of new VAT rules for dealings in second-hand goods agreed by the European Union and the removal of competitive distortions in the application of VAT to certain sporting facilities.
I will deal with the main features of the Bill in my speech. In the Bill we are taking further major steps to reduce the tax burden on employment, on low incomes and on the cost of employing labour. Tax reform is an ongoing process. We are seeking to widen the tax base, to confine reliefs to the standard rate and to lessen the burden on business in general. We have seen tax rates reduced substantially over the past ten years. However, we need to do more as resources allow.
Turning to particular sections of the Bill, sections 1 to 4 provide for the major improvements in income tax announced in the budget. The personal allowance is being increased by £300 for a married couple and £150 for a single  person, with comparable increases in the widowed, single parent and widowed parent allowances. The standard rate tax band is being extended substantially from £16,400 to £17,800 for a married couple and from £8,200 to £8,900 for a single person. The existing PRSI income tax allowance available to higher rate contributors is being renewed at £140 rather than £286, in order to part finance a new PRSI allowance of £50 per week introduced this year for such workers. Together with the improvement in personal allowances, this means that the thresholds for the higher tax rate in the case of most employees will be increased from £22,186 to £23,740 for a married couple, and from £11,636 to £12,340 for single persons.
The general under 65 income exemption limits are being increased by £200 to £7,400 for married couples and by £100 to £3,700 for single persons. To provide greater assistance to the elderly, exemption limits for those aged 65 or over are being raised by £400 for married couples and £200 for single persons.
Section 5 provides, further to the budget announcement, for the introduction of a tax allowance for all tenants in private rented accommodation to be effective from 6 April 1995. This new relief is essentially a broadening of the relief currently available to the over 55s in such accommodation. The main differences are that the new relief will be at 27 per cent and the annual allowances will be £500 for a single person, £750 for a widowed person and £1,000 for a married couple. The over 55s will continue to enjoy their existing level of relief and allowances, which are £1,000 for a single person, £1,500 for a widowed person and £2,000 for a married couple.
While the relief for the over 55s operates on a previous calendar year basis the Bill provides that this new relief and the over 55s relief will, from the 1995-96 tax year, operate on a current tax year basis.
I announced in the budget that as part of the refocusing of State support for third level education, I would provide a  tax relief for fees in certain private colleges. This is done in section 6 of the Bill. Tax relief will be available for tuition fees paid to private colleges in respect of approved courses. The Minister for Education will approve the colleges, courses and the level of fees eligible for tax relief. Only full-time undergraduate courses of at least two years duration will be eligible for approval. The tax relief will be available for fees paid from the academic year 1996-97 and will be at the standard rate of tax.
In the budget I announced a tax allowance in respect of local authority service charges which are paid in full and on time. The allowance will be given at the standard rate of tax up to a maximum of £150. Section 7 provides for this allowance and extends it to certain payments in respect of privately operated refuse collections, at a flat rate of £50 per annum, and to payments for domestic water supplies by members of voluntary group water schemes.
Section 8 relates to tax relief for donations to designated Irish Third World charities. These charities will qualify for tax relief in respect of certain donations by individuals in the range of £200 to £750. This will be topped up by Revenue remitting to the charity the tax associated with the contributions at the standard rate. Thus, a donation of £750 will be worth an extra £277 to the charity. The figure of £750 represents the maximum qualifying contributions that an individual can make to all designated charities in a year. Relief will also be available where the qualifying contribution is made by instalments.
Section 10 provides for a number of special measures aimed at improving the position of those most adversely affected by the taxation of short term social welfare benefits. First, to assist families, the child dependant allowances payable with unemployment benefit and disability benefit are being exempted from tax. Second, the special relief for  systematic short-time workers introduced in the Finance Act, 1994 is being extended for a further year and broadened to include all such workers. Finally, the first £10 per week of unemployment benefit is also being exempted from tax from 6 April 1995.
Section 11 provides for an increase in the deposit interest retention tax rate on special savings accounts from 10 per cent to 15 per cent, as announced in this year's budget. This measure is designed to strike a more appropriate balance in the tax treatment of deposit income and income from other sources — especially riskier equity investment in Irish business — and has, therefore, been welcomed by business representatives. However, I should emphasise that these accounts still provide attractive tax benefits for small and medium-sized depositors. A final-liability tax of 15 per cent on such interest income compares very favourably with the standard 27 per cent rate for deposit interest generally.
Section 12 and 13 provide for the changes which I already announced in the tax treatment of covenants made by individuals. These changes are being made as part of the overall changes in the financing of third level education and to reduce an area of tax expenditure which has been growing significantly over the past few years. The changes being brought in this year will apply to new covenants from Budget Day and existing covenants from 6 April. This year's changes are as follows. First, tax relief is abolished on covenants in favour of minor children, except in the case of a covenant in favour of an incapacitated minor child who is not the child of the covenantor. Second, tax relief on all covenants made by individuals, other than those in favour of the incapacitated, will be subject to an overall limit of 5 per cent of the covenantor's income.
From 6 April 1996 tax relief will no longer be available generally for covenants made by individuals. Tax relief will continue to be available in the following four cases. First, tax relief will continue to be available, on an unrestricted basis,  to covenants in favour of incapacitated adults and those in favour of incapacitated children, provided the covenantor is not the child's parent. The other three categories of covenants will be allowed tax relief subject to an overall limit of 5 per cent of the covenantor's income. These are covenants in favour of those aged 65 or over, covenants for the purposes of research or the teaching of the natural sciences, and covenants to certain bodies established for the promotion of human rights. Covenants made by companies are not affected by these changes.
Section 16 increases the existing limit of £2,000 on the value of shares which can be allocated each year to employees under approved profit sharing schemes to £10,000.
Section 17 gives effect to a number of changes in the seed capital scheme announced in the budget. These proposals, which will make the scheme more effective as an incentive to new business start-ups, will: increase the level of investment that qualifies for relief from £75,000 to £125,000 by extending the “look back” period to five years; allow two qualifying ivestments in the one company to be made over a three year period; increase to £15,000 from £10,000 per annum the level of the maximum amount of non-PAYE income which an individual may receive and permit greater time flexibility in taking up employment in the new company by allowing employment to commence up to six months after the end of the tax year in which the first investment is made.
Section 17 also extends the scheme to trading activities on the Dublin exchange facility. Currently, FINEX is the only operation located there. This change was also announced in the budget.
In addition, this section makes a number of technical and drafting amendments to simplify the scheme making it more easily understood and thereby helping to stimulate interest in it. There has been a significant increase in interest in this scheme in the past few  months and the changes in the Bill will give it a further boost.
The Black Economy Monitoring Group, which was set up by the Central Review Committee of the Programme for Economic and Social Progress, carried out a thorough review of the operation of the C45 system in 1994. The group made recommendations which were endorsed by the Central Review Committee on action to curb any abuses. Most of the recommendations are being implemented on an administrative basis and several of these involve closer contact between Revenue and Social Welfare in monitoring abuses. Arising out of these recommendations a provision is being introduced in section 18 permitting the Revenue Commissioners to make regulations in relation to making declarations to be signed by both parties at the commencement of a contract confirming they are satisfied that the C45 system is applicable. The purpose of this provision is to seek to ensure that the C45 system is used in genuine self-employed cases and not in employee PAYE. Section 18 also provides for making regulations on information to be provided by subcontractors to principal contractors. This will ensure that information is available to Revenue on payments made under the “gang system”.
Section 20 amends the public access requirements set out in section 19 of the Finance Act, 1982, which provides for relief from income or corporation tax, as appropriate, for owners of approved buildings of significant scientific, historical, architectural or aesthetic interest. Buildings approved by the Commissioners of Public Works will now be able to qualify either by being open to the public on a bed and breakfast basis for at least six months of the year, of which four months must be in the period 1 May to 30 September, or by complying with the existing public access requirements, which require them to be open to the general public for 60 days, of which at least 40 must be in the period referred to above.
 Section 21 provides for the continuation of stock relief for farmers at 25 per cent for a further two years to 5 April 1997. The section also provides for stock relief at a rate of 100 per cent for four years for young farmers who first become chargeable to income tax in respect of profits or gains from farming for the year 1993-94 or any subsequent year of assessment up to 1997-98. To qualify for this 100 per cent relief, the individual must be under 35 at the start of such a year, and have met specific training requirements. This is in part a relaxation of the qualifying criteria announced in the budget where it was stated that the 100 per cent stock relief would be available only to young trained farmers who qualified for the scheme of installation aid operated by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.
Section 22 provides for particular tax treatment for farmers in respect of profits arising where cattle herds must be disposed of because of statutory disease eradication measures. The treatment operates by allowing deferral of the profits for tax purposes over two years and the application of 100 per cent stock relief to the profits so deferred.
Section 29 provides for the introduction of a significant new scheme aimed at attracting to Ireland certain major multinational corporations. Where the qualifying conditions are met, such companies will be exempt from Irish tax on the profits of their foreign branches.
Changes are being made to the self-assessment system in recognition of the improvement in voluntary compliance. The changes in the Bill follow a recent review of the system involving the Tax Administration Liaison Committee and are as follows: A direct debit facility for the payment of preliminary tax; a fixed date of 30 April each year for the payment of the balance of tax due. This measure is designed to encourage earlier filing of returns and will be subject to review; the surcharge for late filing of returns is reduced to 5 per cent for a delay in filing up to two months,  with a maximum cap of a £10,000 surcharge and remains at 10 per cent for a delay of two months or more, but with a maximum cap of a £50,000 surcharge; the restriction of certain reliefs for companies failing to file returns on time will be reduced to 25 per cent of the relief where the delay in filing is less than two months and will remain at 50 per cent of the relief where the delay in filing is two months or more. Maximum caps have been introduced in each case; for new businessess the surcharge provisions for late filing of returns will apply only to delays with effect from the second filing date; for short-lived businesses the profits subject to tax will not be in excess of actual profits earned and, finally, a loophole is closed which had allowed married couples, who alternated as assessable persons, to avoid paying preliminary tax.
These provisions are contained in sections 19, 30, 31 and 63.
The Bill contains a number of measures dealing with the urban renewal scheme which is aimed at revitalising certain urban areas and assisting employment in the construction industry. Section 32 provides for a two years' extension up to 24 January 1999 to the deadlines for the urban renewal tax incentives for the Custom House Docks area.
Section 34 extends by two years to 5 April 1998, the period for the availability of the tax incentives in the Temple Bar area. Section 35 provides for a scheme of tax reliefs for six enterprise areas located in Dublin, Cork and Galway. The incentives available are capital allowances of 100 per cent for the construction or refurbishment of premises in these enterprise areas which are used by qualifying companies carrying on trading operations, that is, manufacturing or internationally traded services. The allowances consist of free depreciation of up to 50 per cent in the first year in the case of owner occupiers only, or an initial allowance of 25 per cent available to both owner-occupiers and lessors, with an allowance of 4 per cent per annum on the balance up to  100 per cent. Double rent allowances for qualifying traders will be available for ten years as will rates relief.
The capital allowances will apply in respect of either industrial buildings or commercial buildings, including offices. Projects wishing to set up in the enterprise areas must first receive certification from the Minister for Enterprise and Employment, following consultation with the Minister for Finance.
In addition section 35 provides for offices to be allowed as qualifying buildings for the purposes of the 1994 urban renewal scheme in the designated areas outside the five county boroughs of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford. This measure is retrospective to 1 August 1994, when the new scheme commenced. The section also provides that the 13 year clawback period for capital allowances will apply to industrial buildings in designated areas on the same basis as is currently applied to commercial buildings in these areas.
Finally, I should mention that sections 32, 34 and 35 increase from 90 to 125 square metres the maximum permissable floor size for newly-built apartments in the various urban renewal areas. This is to encourage the provision of larger family oriented accommodation in these areas.
Section 36 amends section 35 of the Finance Act, 1987, which provides relief from income tax and corporation tax in respect of investment in Irish film-making companies. The amendments concern the power of the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht to impose conditions in his certification of a qualifying film and clarification of the necessity for such certification before relief can be granted in respect of film investment. The section also closes off an unacceptable arrangement in the raising of loan finance for a section 35 investment. Such an arrangement could involve a film-making company forgoing interest which would otherwise be receivable by it from a bank so that, in return, the bank concerned would  reduce the interest it charged on loans to investors in the film company.
Section 43 provides for a corporation tax exemption in respect of employment grants paid by the industrial development agencies to medium and large industrial undertakings. A similar exemption already exists for employment grants to small and service businesses. The concession will increase the real value of the grant in the hands of recipient companies and thus provide an additional incentive to such enterprises.
Section 44 provides for an exemption from corporation tax and capital gains tax for the Irish Horse Racing Authority and its subsidiary, Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Limited, from their inauguration dates of 1 December 1994. In line with precedent, there is no proposal for an exemption for these bodies from tax on deposit interest.
Section 45 and the Second Schedule provide that following the reduction in the standard rate of corporation tax from 40 per cent to 38 per cent from 1 April last, the associated tax credits applicable to distributors to shareholders will be reduced, in line with precedent, from 25/75ths to 23/77ths of distributions made on or after 6 April 1995. As indicated in the Budget Statement, the reduction in the standard rate of corporation tax provided for by section 54 of the Bill should be viewed as a first step on the road to securing a rate comparable with our overseas competitors. To that end, the aim will be to reduce the standard rate further in future years, as resources permit.
Chapter III of Part I of the Bill provides for a new scheme of tax reliefs from 1 July aimed at renewing and updating the tourist amenities and facilities in certain seaside resorts, namely Achill, Ballybunion, Bundoran, Courtown, Kilkee, Lahinch, Tramore, Westport and Youghal. The precise qualifying areas are described in the Third Schedule.
Sections 47 and 48 provide for accelerated capital allowances in respect of capital expenditure incurred on the construction of hotels, holiday camps,  holiday cottages and other tourist accommodation registered or approved by Bord Fáilte. The accelerated capital allowances will also be available in respect of capital expenditure incurred on the construction or refurbishment of types of non-accommodation tourist facilities as set out in a list to be published by the Minister for Tourism and Trade with the consent of the Minister for Finance.
Section 49 provides for a double rent allowances as a deduction in computing trading income of the lessor for the first ten years rent paid under a qualifying lease on a qualifying business premises in a resort area.
Sections 50 to 52, inclusive, provide for reliefs for 100 per cent of expenditure incurred on the construction, conversion and refurbishment of certain rented residential accommodation. Under these reliefs the qualifying expenditure can be offset against all the rental income of the claimant in computing liability to tax but will apply only where the accommodation is available primarily for letting to tourists.
Sections 56 and 125 of the Bill deal with the bank levy. Section 125 provides for the phasing out of the bank levy from £36 million in 1994 to £24 million in 1995, to £12 million in 1996 and to nil in 1997. There is no net cost to the Exchequer since the levy is already fully offset against the banks' corporation tax liability. There would, however, be a cash flow loss in the current year due to the later payment date for corporation tax. As the House is aware, to overcome this the banks have agreed to a compensatory cash-flow arrangement whereby in 1995 they will make an earlier payment of corporation tax of £12 million in order to cover the £12 million reduction in the levy. Thus the Exchequer will not be at a loss. This compensatory cashflow arrangement will be continued in subsequent years.
Section 64 provides for a two-year extension of the corporation tax relief on certain gifts to First Step Limited, a charitable organisation which assists job  creation by supporting enterprise development in areas of high unemployment.
As the House is aware, my colleague, the Minister of State with responsibility for commerce, science and technology recently published the report of the Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council. The report and recommendations of this council will now be examined in detail by a high level official group under the guidance of a Cabinet steering committee, which will be chaired by the Minister of State, Deputy Rabbitte. I welcome the publication of this in-depth study and I wish to echo the report's finding that Irish firms must realise the need to increase their investment in R&D if they are to survive in the increasingly competitive global market. In this context, I will be introducing by way of Committee Stage amendment to the Bill a measure aimed at stimulating incremental R&D investment. Full details of the amendment will be given in due course.
I propose certain measures in this Bill which will assist the future development of the International Financial Services Centre.
To facilitate the development of treasury activities in the IFSC and in the Shannon zone, section 59 provides that certain withholding taxes imposed abroad may be grouped together and allowed as a credit against Irish tax chargeable on intra-group activities, subject to certain restrictions. As already indicated I am extending under section 17 the seed capital scheme to trading activities on the Dublin exchange facility with a view to facilitating local involvement in trading on the exchange. Section 62 amends existing legislation to allow dealings in commodity futures and commodity options on the Dublin exchange facility where such dealing is the principal trading activity of the company.
To enable the development of the collective funds sector, section 38 will allow transparency where all the unit holders in a collective fund are themselves collective investors. Also in the collective  funds sector, section 37 removes, in specific circumstances only, the advance corporation tax liability of certain investment companies. IFSC companies will also benefit from other provisions in the Bill which are of more general application.
As regards capital gains tax section 65 increases from £5,000 to £15,000 the reporting limit, for capital gains tax purposes, on sales of art, antiques and other valuables by auctioneers. The existing requirements are putting Irish auction houses at a competitive disadvantage vis-à-vis their UK counterparts. Sections 66 and 67 provide significant improvements in the retirement relief for disposals of business assets by entrepreneurs over 55 years. These include an amendment in the rules for computing relief for company shares which should result in a substantial increase in relief for many family companies. Also, the exemption limit on disposals of business assets outside the family is being increased from £200,000 to £250,000.
Section 69 provides for significant changes in the rollover relief for equity investment, the aim of which is to make the relief available to a wider range of enterpreneurs. Also, by virtue of section 68, rollover relief is being extended to disposals of development land used for trading purposes, where the business has to relocate for environmental reasons. The relief will be subject to the local authority certifying that the land has been subject to a use which is damaging to the local environment.
Section 70 contains provisions to rectify certain weaknesses in the capital gains tax legislation which came to light as a result of the Glackin Inquiry into transactions involving the former Johnston Mooney & O'Brien site in Ballsbridge, Dublin. I am closing off a loophole whereby the 15 per cent withholding tax on disposals of certain assets, mainly land or land-related, could be circumvented where the disposal is made for a non-cash consideration. This problem will be rectified by extending the withholding tax provisions to such transactions.
 I now turn to excise duties. The Bill confirms the budget increase of 12p on a packet of 20 cigarettes and pro rata increases on other tobacco products. It also provides in sections 71 to 78 for the extension of tobacco stamps to non-cigarette products such as roll your own tobacco. Tax stamps are due to come into effect on packet cigarettes this autumn and on roll your own tobacco next year.
In the area of excise duty compliance and enforcement, the Bill includes provisions to update and clarify Revenue powers to stop, search, detain and seize goods liable for forfeiture under excise. The necessity for this action arises from a High Court decision which held that, because of the inconsistency in phrasing legislation, the issue of a search warrant in respect of excisable goods liable for forfeiture was invalid; this ruling resulted in the curtailment of seizure powers of the Revenue Commissioners in the excise duty area it is now proposed to remedy. The availability to Revenue of the powers in question are vital to secure the very significant revenues at stake. The powers in sections 79 and 90 are largely a restoration of the search and seizure powers together with re-enactment of provisions in the Finance Act, 1992 and related basic excise management provisions from early statutes, as well as a right for a claimant to appeal against the seizure and forfeiture of goods.
The Bill provides for a vehicle registration tax relief scheme which I announced in the budget. Schemes of this type have been successful in other countries. Tax relief of £1,000 will be granted by way of repayment where a car at least 10 years old is scrapped and the owner purchases a new car. This transparent approach ensures that the concession will accure to the qualifying new car purchaser.
The Bill also includes other proposed amendments to VRT law which increases the minimum amount of tax payable on category A vehicles — mainly cars — from £100 to £250 and which make technical changes in the way VRT ic calculated when a vehicle is converted to a category subject to a higher rate of tax. The VRT provisions are contained in section 91 and 92 of the Bill.
In the road tax area, it is proposed to introduce in section 104 two concessions relating to the first licensing of a vehicle which will bring some flexibility into the system in circumstances where delays arise between the registration of a vehicle and its subsequent going on the road. First, where a vehicle is registered within the last seven working days of a month and a road tax application is made in the following month, because the vehicle owner has not had the use of vehicle until then the road tax disc will be effective from the beginning of the month of licensing rather than, as at present, from the month of registration. Second, where there is a prolonged delay between the first registration of a vehicle and subsequent licensing, road tax will be effective from the beginning of the month of licensing provided certain conditions are complied with and on payment of a fee of £20 to the licensing authority.
Section 102 provides for the continuation in force of certain excise licences or the granting of a temporary licence where an application has been made by a specified deadline for a tax clearance certificate and where a decision on a tax clearance certificate has not been given in sufficient time to allow the licence to be renewed or taken out.
Section 103 establishes an excise duty framework for the production and importation of substitute motor fuels including biofuels. The section gives effect to EU rules in this area. Substitute fuels used in motors will be liable to the road diesel rate of duty which is the lowest rate of duty applicable in the road fuel area. Existing reliefs for diesel fule will automatically apply to the duty on substitute fuels. It is also proposed to avail of an EU provision which allows for the exemption from the new excise  duty of pilot scheme production and use of biofuels. The Minister for Finance, in consultation with the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications, will be empowered to exempt projects where applications are submitted before end-1998.
Sections 105 to 124 of the Bill relate to VAT and are predominantly concerned with the transposition into Irish VAT law of the EU Seventh VAT Directive. The directive contains new rules for the VAT treatment of sales of second-hand moveable goods, works of art, collectors' items and antiques. The objective of the directive is to avoid double taxation of such goods. Under the new system — the margin scheme — the dealer has the option to charge VAT on his profit margin only, rather than, as has applied up to now, on the full sale price of the goods which would include an element of trapped VAT.
The Bill also establishes a special scheme for auctioneers, which is similar to the margin scheme and provides for the retention, in slightly modified form, of our existing VAT input credit arrangements for dealers in second-hand motor vehicles.
The Bill contains two initiatives in the area of sporting and health and fitness which have the purpose of ensuring equity and consistency of treatment in relation to VAT. These changes are covered by sections 110, 120, 122 and 123 of the Bill.
In the case of golfing facilities, it is proposed that where a member-owned club's turnover from non-members exceeds, or is likely to exceed, £20,000 per annum — the normal registration threshold for services — it will be liable to VAT at 12.5 per cent on that turnover. Such clubs will remain exempt in relation to turnover derived from normal membership fees and where turnover from non-members does not exceed the £20,000 threshold. For the purposes of these provisions, a person will be regarded as a member if his or her current membership entitles that  person to use the golfing facilities, without further charge, for at least 200 days in a continuous period of 12 months.
Similar provisions will apply to the “pay as you play” golfing facilities provided by the State and local authorities. Pitch and putt facilities provided by non-profit making bodies or local authorities will not be affected by the initiative and will remain exempt.
The Bill also includes an enabling provision which will allow the Revenue Commissioners to determine, on a case by case basis, if the VAT exemption afforded to non-profit making bodies operating in the general area of sports and health and fitness should be withdrawn where the £20,000 turnover limit is exceeded. It is not intended to apply a heavy-handed approach in this area. A determination made under these provisions may be appealed to the Appeal Commissioners.
The measures represent a considered effort to respond to the many representations received on behalf of the commercial sectors concerned and are designed to conform to existing EU requirements that VAT exemptions should not give rise to distortions of competition. They will take effect from 1 January 1996.
The Bill provides in section 119 that, if requested to do so, any VAT registered traders operating cash rebates or other incentives not recorded in normal trade documentation will be required to notify the Revenue Commissioners of all such payments or benefits given in connection with supplies to other traders. This measure, which replaces the monthly control statement requirement, will be reinforced by the continued development of the Revenue Commissioners' existing sector by sector audit programme. I know that business interests in general will welcome these new arrangements.
Turning to stamp duty, the Bill contains a number of measures which will be of particular assistance to the business sector. A new stamp duty exemption is being introduced under section 133 to facilitate stock borrowing by  member firms of the Irish Stock Exchange. Sections 126 and 127 give stamp duty relief for company restructurings.
Section 129 exempts health insurance from the 2 per cent levy on non-life insurance premiums which would otherwise have applied to the VHI when it becomes an authorised non-life insurer later this year.
Sections 134 to 138 contain the new provisions in relation to residential property tax. The Bill increases the thresholds for property value and income as announced in the budget. The new thresholds are £94,000 for property and £29,500 for income. The tax will be at a flat rate of 1.5 per cent.
This year's Finance Bill contains a number of important measures which will help family businesses. In relation to capital acquisitions tax, section 142 of the Bill provides for an increase in business relief to a flat rate of 50 per cent on all qualifying assets. Previously, only the first £250,000 per beneficiary qualified for 50 per cent relief, with 25 per cent relief on the balance. In addition, more favourable instalment payment terms are being introduced in section 145 for capital acquisitions tax. This will give business owners the option of discharging their liabilities over five years at a competitive interest rate of 9 per cent.
The combination of the EU farmer retirement scheme and the stamp duty relief for young trained farmers introduced last year has given rise to substantial intergenerational transfers of farm property. In 1994, an estimated £100 million worth of farm land was transferred to young trained farmers. This year's Bill contains a number of measures which will give further encouragement to the transfer of farm property to younger more enterprising farmers.
A number of family-owned companies holding heritage houses, gardens and other items of historic or aesthetic interest are currently unable to avail of the capital acquisitions tax relief for heritage property which does not extend  to company shares. In order to assist the preservation of such properties for public viewing, section 147 provides for the granting of relief to shares in existing heritage companies to the extent that the underlying value of the shares is attributable to heritage property.
Sections 148 to 151 make a number of amendments to the legislative provisions dealing with the Irish residence of individuals for tax purposes. Section 148 provides that the exemption from liability to DIRT will now be based on the non-residence status instead of the non-ordinary residence status of the tax-payer. Section 149 makes a similar change in regard to the exclusion from the obligation on financial institutions to report details of deposit interest to Revenue. Section 150 introduces an annual £3,000 threshold in regard to the Irish tax liability on the foreign investment income of an individual who leaves Ireland to work abroad for a number of years. At present, all the foreign investment income of such a person is liable to Irish tax for the first three years of his stay abroad. Section 151 deals with the tax relief for Irish individuals who go abroad to work on foreign assignments and removes the existing disallowance of the first 15 days spent abroad in computing the amount of the relief.
Section 153 provides for reporting certain tax offences to the Revenue Commissioners by auditors and other persons who assist companies in relation to tax. The offences which are reportable include making incorrect returns and failure to make returns, false claims to relief, falsifying documents, failure to keep records and non-payment of certain tax, otherwise than where the tax is declared tax or the non-payment is under discussion with the Collector-General. This provision implements a recommendation of the beef tribunal report but extends the reporting requirement in the interests of equity and consistency, to all persons who assist companies in relation to tax, not just auditors.
 Where such a person has reasonable grounds to believe that a company has committed an offence, the person is obliged to notify the company. I would emphasise that if the company itself then notifies the Revenue Commissioners or the evaded tax is made good the person will not be required to notify the Commissioners. However, if the company does not rectify the matter, the person will be obliged to inform the Revenue Commissioners within 30 days of notifying the company. This requirement will not apply where the information is obtained in the context of assisting the company in preparing for litigation.
We have sought to strike a balance here between the requirement to report evasion and the extra duties this places on business and professionals. We have included a materiality clause to lessen the burden and to focus on reporting of substantial evasion — the materiality criterion is 5 per cent of tax liability or £5,000, whichever is the lesser. I am anxious to accommodate genuine concerns in the operation of the section but the essential structure and requirements of the section will remain. At the request of the auditing profession I have allowed an arrangement whereby the adviser or auditor reports to the company first to give the client a full opportunity to bring its affairs into order and, if this is done the adviser or auditor will not be obliged to make any report to Revenue.
Section 154 amends section 429 of the Income Tax Act, 1967, to confirm the right of accountants and tax practitioners to represent clients at the rehearing of tax appeals before a Circuit Court judge.
Section 155 amends section 115 of the Finance Act, 1986, to limit a bank's liability to pay VAT and PAYE to the Revenue Commissioners, in respect of a company on whose book debts it has a fixed charge, to arrears of VAT and PAYE arising only after the issue to the bank of a notice of liability under section 115. At present, a bank is liable to pay arrears of tax arising before issue  of a notice and even before the taking out of the fixed charge. To benefit from this reduced exposure a bank must notify Revenue of the existence of the fixed charge. The amendment reduces a bank's exposure arising from lending to firms on foot of a fixed charge and is intended to alleviate problems for firms, in particular small firms, in securing loan finance. I hope the banking sector will respond positively to this initiative.
The black economy monitoring group and ICTU have identified access by the Revenue Commissioners to information held by public authorities as a valuable tool in monitoring the black economy and combating abuse. Section 156 empowers the Revenue Commissioners, for the purposes of the assessment, charge, collection and recovery of tax to obtain from a Minister of the Government details regarding payments made by the Minister to specified persons.
On a separate but related issue section 14 introduces an amendment to the Income Tax Act, 1967, to require a return to the Revenue Commissioners of payments to landlords in relation to rent or rent subsidy by public bodies such as health boards.
Further to the announcement in the budget, section 157 provides for a scheme of tax relief on donations of items of national heritage. It provides that the annual aggregate value of all items to be accepted under the scheme by an expert selection committee for donation to one of the national cultural institutions or approved bodies will be £0.5 million. No individual item worth less than £75,000 will be eligible for acceptance under the scheme. The tax relief available to donors will apply to income tax, corporation tax, capital gains tax, and gift and inheritance tax and will be available also in respect of arrears of such taxes.
I hope the House has benefited from this long exposition and I am ready to hear and examine the points put by other Members in the debate.
I recommend the Bill to the House.
Mr. McCreevy: I congratulate the  Minister on his first Finance Bill. I hope he will be able to put into effect some of the ideas he had before coming to the Department of Finance. The annual budget speech of the Minister for Finance is regarded as the definitive statement of the Government's economic intentions, and the publication of the Finance Bill signals the method by which it will implement its taxation objectives in line with its overall budgetary plan. Bearing this in mind, I look forward to the day when some future Minister for Finance will be in a position to do the following in respect of both the budget and the Finance Bill.
The pre-budget publication would be of real estimates not designed, as they are now to obfuscate and make it practically impossible for anyone not an expert in Government financial accounts to understand them. The Government accounts should be designed in the same fashion as those for any business. In other words, the estimated tax revenue for the year should be easily ascertainable as should estimated expenditure for the year and liabilities. If a company produced a set of accounts in the manner of the Government's estimates, it would be prosecuted under the Companies Acts.
I know the Minister for Finance probably agrees with me regarding the layout of the National Accounts. I look forward to progress from him in this area for next year's production. That they have been produced in the same way for generations is no defence — modern government needs a more modern up to date approach in its accounting.
The next part of the new approach would relate to the annual budget speech. It is many years since I first opined that budget day was the most over-hyped day in the Dáil calendar. The budget speech should not take more than 30 minutes. There would be no need for it to be any longer because the proper presentation of the Estimates would have given sufficient information for everyone to know the Government's planning for the coming year. All that would be necessary on  budget day would be for the Minister to outline the taxation changes he intended to introduce in the Finance Bill. Later in my contribution I will state what I think a good budget should contain.
I am aware that a shortened budget speech has been the wish of a number of recent Finance Ministers. The current incumbent signalled some weeks before this year's event that he would have a very short budget speech. While everyone in the Department of Finance might have agreed at the outset that this was something devoutly to be wished for, and would had every intention of complying with the Minister's wishes, I am sure the original speech grew longer by the hour as various officials told the Minister: “Well, this little sentence will have to be included”. Like all good civil servants, they acceded to the wishes of the Minister by tightening up the type spacing, and, thus it was possible for someone in Government to herald that the Minister's speech would be only 22 pages in length. They forgot to mention that it was tightly spaced, which meant it took well over an hour to read.
In my utopian future, the budget speech having being disposed of in 30 minutes or so, the last part of the jigsaw would be the presentation of the Finance Bill. I am not certain if the Finance Bill can be so shortened. However, I find it extraordinary that each annual Finance Bill appears to get bigger and bigger — the 1995 epic comes to 185 pages.
I welcome the Minister's announcement in the budget that it is his intention to consolidate the taxes Acts — the last Consolidation Act being in 1967. I suggest that, when the proposed consolidation takes place, it may be possible for the annual Finance Bills for a couple of years after to be of more manageable proportions. I congratulate the Minister on this very welcome proposal and I further urge him to make it a standard policy objective in the Department of  Finance that the taxes Acts be consolidated every five years. Earlier I referred to what a budget should contain.
A major criticism of most budgets is that they tinker round the edges rather than having a limited set of objectives and a focused, targeted approach. This year's budget, and the consequent Finance Bill which we are now discussing, are clear examples of trying to please many pressure groups; skirting round edges of problems and ending up pleasing no one.
The budget and Finance Bill should concentrate on a limited number of objectives. A Minister for Finance should ignore 90 per cent of the pre-budget lobbying. This is not to say that lobbying for changes is not desirable but, if a Minister for Finance tries to do too much, he will end up with the scatter-gun approach and make no real impact in any area.
Having been in Government, I am realistic enough to know that it may not be possible ever to go along fully with the approach I outlined earlier. All Ministers for Finance are not alone pressurised by the lobbby groups each year, but financial commentators, analysists, and gurus, throw in their tuppence worth and advise the Minister that he must look after this or that sectional interest. Furthermore, he is subject to pressures from each of his ministerial colleagues to look after some vital matter which pertains to their Department, and this also means spending more money.
With the best will in the world, the unfortunate Minister for Finance cannot look after all these desirable works. The temptation is to give a little in every direction, but by doing so, he limits the amount of Exchequer resources he can give to what may be the most important objective.
I have clearly signalled on behalf of the Fianna Fáil Party that the number one objective for the Government for 1995 was to plan for, at least, a balanced current budget. I emphasise that there is a major difference between planning  for a balanced current budget and ending up with one. It took over a quarter of a century to get back to this situation and it would be foolish to squander those hard-won gains. Any sensible Minister for Finance would not have allowed his governmental colleagues to persuade him from moving away from that benchmark.
Not alone is it economic madness, it is political madness as well to embark, as this Government has done, on fiscally loose financial targets. Is it not just common sense to make provision in the relatively good times for the dark clouds which will inevitably gather in the future? The prudent company, the sensible family household, plans its affairs on that basis.
What does this Government do? At the outset it sets itself an easy target of an increase of 6 per cent in current spending for 1995. There are many — and I am one — who suggest that this target was too lax. Whether it was or not, the ink was hardly dry on the Minister's budget speech when the Government announced increases in spending which manifestly break their own targets.
Surely, there is little point in having annual targets if within a few weeks one announces that there are to be problems; and is it not adding insult to the intelligence of the Irish people to claim, on foot of fancy creative accountancy, that one is keeping within the limits?
If some expenditures have to be legally made — as in the case of the equal treatment arrears to married women — then they must be paid. However, it is the job of Government to prioritise and this means taking tough decisions, which will not be popular with the relevant interest group. Therefore, if the Government decided to pay the equal treatment arrears in one calendar year, corresponding expenditure adjustments should have been made in other areas to stay within the 6 per cent spending limit for 1995.
It is not the job of the Opposition to make those decisions. If the Government has not the courage to make  appropriate prioritisations, it should step aside and allow others to make those decisions.
I advise the Minister for Finance to stop wasting his time in giving off the record briefings to journalists which are designed to make a headline, such as: “the Government is getting tough on public spending”. There was a time when such PR exercises may have fooled the electorate — I have always doubted this proposition. It does not work now, and it certainly fools nobody at home or abroad whose job it is to professionally analyse financial trends.
Scarcely a day goes by that a Government Minister does not indicate to a pressure group that more money will be spent to meet its special needs. I am alarmed by the spendthrift approach of most members of the Government, who appear to commit themselves to a course of action within their departmental remit without any approval, or even thought, to the overall public finances.
It should be remembered that this country was brought to the verge of bankruptcy in the mid 1980s by successive Governments not being prepared to tackle our financial problems. Is it asking too much of our politicians in the mid-1990s to act in a more responsible fashion than their counterparts of recent decades?
The attitude of the Government to public financial prudence is outstandingly illustrated by its method of dealing with the political problem of service charges. Its decision in this regard will be a future monument for this coalition and a remainder in years to come of the irresponsibility of this Administration. The only reason the media has not highlighted the scandal of this decision is that service charges are not an issue in the greater Dublin area and in some other major cities. I feel a little sorry for Minister Quinn in this regard. Possibly he felt the problem was defused by this signal in the budget of a tax allowance to be given for householders who paid their charges. This was not enough for Democratic Left who demanded and were given a further concession prior to  its annual conference. The resultant concession is, in essence, the Government saying collectively: “well, sure if you don't feel like paying these charges, don't bother”.
What type of signal of governmental responsibility is given by such a ludicrous decision? You cannot hope to be taken seriously as a responsible administration if, at the first sign of political pressure, you just cave in and throw your hands up in submission. If this is the type of decision-making we can expect for the remainder of this coalition's term, the people are being exceptionally poorly served by their elected Government. I am dismayed by this attitude because I thought that perhaps all parties and politicians had learned the very expensive lessons of the past.
The short-sightedness of the Government's approach to the public finances will be to the long term detriment of the economy. Economically, there is no justification for it. Prudent public financial management got us out of the mess of the late 1970s and 1980s and gave us low inflation and good economic growth in the mid 1990s.
I find it hard to believe that any Government — no matter what its political makeup — would go back down a road which failed totally in economic terms and brought no long term gains to the political parties or politicians who perpetrated the stupidity on the Irish people.
The tax and PRSI reliefs in the Finance Bill are to be welcomed, but because the Minister and Government used the scatter-gun approach, the reliefs in these areas do not go far enough. If the Minister really wanted to do something worthwhile in this area, whatever moneys were available on budget day should have been targeted here. Of course, by having thresholds or ceilings for PRSI exemptions, one runs the policy danger of setting maximum earnings levels and forcing workers' earnings downwards. Certainly, the worth-while changes announced in last year's budget and this year's throw up  anomalies for workers at the margins. Long term the solution is to lower the rates at which contributions must be paid.
Most politicians and political parties have repeated, mantra-like, for years that taxation is too high but that depends on how you look at it. One cannot divorce high levels of taxation from high levels of Government spending and impossible levels of national debt. Political parties which throw all their resources into bleating about high taxation have a sustainable political constituency but it will per se be a small niche market. One could have a low level of taxation if one decided to have a low level of desirable public services. For example, there is a low level of taxation in the United States but an ordinary person would have to sell their house if they were stricken with illness and needed hospitalisation. My party does not believe in that type of society but it does believe in responsible and prudent management which gives us a level of services which we can afford to pay for by an equivalent level of taxation.
It would be better to deal with many details of the Finance Bill on Committee Stage. However, there are a few outstanding anomalies which I should mention. This Bill heralds some fundamental changes in the legislation dealing with covenants. We were led to believe by the Government that the reasoning was the introduction of free third level education. Much has been written and said about that decision. For the purposes of this Bill I am prepared to leave aside the arguments for and against its introduction but I am sure the Minister will admit that it was clearly signalled that a change in the legislation dealing with education covenants was to be made in order to meet the cost of the new education scheme. It was never said by any Minister in the run up to the decision on free third level education that there would be wholesale changes in the legislation dealing with covenants. The Minister for Finance has used the  excuse of the education debate to uproot and change the legislation dealing with covenants. Since the budget he has granted the Alzheimer's Association a concession but, as has been pointed out in various journals, the changes affect a wide variety of other deserving cases. I ask him to abandon his proposals in this area. If changes are to be made they should only be made in the legislation dealing with education covenants given that it was the introduction of the new education scheme which gave rise to the changes in the first place.
Serious anomalies will arise causing hardship to many taxpayers as a result of the proposed changes. This is neither fair nor equitable and it is a form of sleight of hand by the Government to impose burdens on hard pressed taxpayers who may be using the covenants legislation to provide for their separated spouses or parents.
Perhaps my good friend and former colleague, the Minister, Deputy Quinn, wants to shed his student image and to be known as Mandrake the Magician. Notwithstanding his valiant efforts at creative accountancy, his attempts as illusionist supreme are at their height in the proposed treatment of the tax break for designated Third World charities. I humbly suggest that most people, on hearing in the budget about the tax break in respect of donations to Third World charities, believed that anyone giving a donation would qualify for tax relief. I am aware, however, that this was not stated in the small print and I congratulate the genius in the Department of Finance who came up with the section in question. As we now know, the method of giving the tax break is not what most people thought. Under the proposed system it is envisaged that the donor will give his or her tax number to the designated charity and that at the end of a period the Revenue Commissioners will give an appropriate tax refund at the standard rate to the charity on foot of the said donations. It will now be possible — I am sure this did not cross the mind of anyone in the  Department of Finance — to calculate more accurately the total Irish contribution to the Third World. This is an act of pure genius and I congratulate the person who thought of it. What is the difference between the proposed system and the Government increasing the Exchequer grant-in-aid to any of the Third World charities?
This type of Mandrake the Magician approach creates a distortion against home based Irish charities. The good hearted Irish people are being asked to discriminate between their local branch of St. Vincent de Paul and some equally deserving Third World organisation. At the very minimum the Minister should ensure there is a level playing pitch for both home based and Third World charities.
The proposed system is administratively attractive. The Minister's initial idea was a good one. I suggest he put forward the suggestion that Third World charities should be given a tax break but his officials, for good reasons, indicated that if he opened that Pandora's box he would be inundated with requests for designation. The matter would have been debated and the Minister would have insisted on getting his way. Shortly after the budget someone suggested that rather than giving the donor tax relief, the designated Third World charity would receive a refund from the Revenue Commissioners. Consequently, if a person made a donation of £500, the designated Third World charity would receive a refund at the standard rate. The beauty of it was that at the end of each year the Minister would be able to say how much Ireland had given to the Third World.
It has been suggested for many years that the aid figure for each country, including Ireland, should reach the figure of 0.7 per cent of gross national product. The figure in the Estimates for 1995 only comes to 0.27 per cent. We will now be able to add the contributions from the ordinary taxpayer to the Exchequer contribution and say that we have attained the figure of 0.7 per cent. That is the way the matter would  have been discussed in the Department of Finance. I congratulate the official who thought of this idea as it will not lead to the dreaded Pandora's box being opened but to two birds being killed with the one stone.
I do not want to give the impression that we want to stop designated Third World charities from receiving this relief but the same principle should be applied to home based charities. The Minister should make the necessary adjustment. That would be fair and equitable. I am one of the few people in the country who admire the officials of the Department of Finance. If they argue that they would not be able to quantify the loss to the Exchequer there could be a ceiling whereby a person would not be allowed to exceed a certain figure in tax relief over a period of two years. There should be no distortion between home based charities and Third World charities. I intend to table some amendments on Committee Stage to resolve this problem.
I commented earlier on the proposed changes in the legislation dealing with covenants. I am well aware that the idea of free third level education was sold by certain people on the basis that it would not be expensive if tax relief for education covenants was abolished. I have also been aware for some time, despite the impression given by others in the House, that it is not possible to quantify the cost of education covenants to the Exchequer. It was possible to quantify the total loss to the Exchequer in tax breaks by covenants, but it was not possible, even through the sophisticated computers of the Revenue Commissioners, to define the amount that related to education covenants. The figures used by people inside and outside this House were based on a sample number of covenants. The figure given of the loss through education covenants of £38 million or £40 million is not the real figure and no one in th Revenue Commissioners is able to substantiate it.
This whole idea was sold as a method of paying for free third level education.  Whatever the merits of that decision, the Government was within its rights in making the decision that there should be free third level education. It is sleight of hand to use the excuse that covenant legislation must be changed in order to fund this measure. That is not acceptable. As the Minister is aware — this is a difficult matter for persons such as the Minister and myself who are in the same marital situation — separated spouses are one category of persons who will be affected by this change in covenant legislation.
I am in favour of doing business above board, saying what you will do and doing it. The Government says it will change tax breaks relating to education covenants, but it should not use that as the excuse to change the entire legislation in this area. The balance of the cost of third level education should be made up from general taxation, with adjustments being made in expenditure areas. It is not fair to use this measure as an excuse to make changes in other areas.
I will give an example of how this measure will affect separated persons. I have received various letters from people in this position and I have the permission of one person to mention his case. This is an unusual example but other examples apply also. The person involved was divorced in Northern Ireland and remarried in this State. Although the marriage is not recognised in this country the person got tax relief on a covenant, similar to the normal tax relief allowed to married couples. Due to the recent change in covenants, that person will lose £25 net per week, or £1,200 net per year, which he cannot afford. As I said, this is a difficult matter and I have a personal interest in that I am separated, but I am not affected by this section. I am not making a case for myself or other Members of the House who are in the same marital position as I am, but it is unacceptable to make the changes as announced.
A number of people use covenants to provide for parents who do not have substantial incomes. Those people are  willing to covenant a certain amount of their income to their parents in order that they can enjoy a better lifestyle than they would on their own income alone. Many people whose parents scrimped and saved to send them to college wish to repay them by way of covenants, but they will be affected by the proposed changes. A wide variety of changes are proposed in covenant legislation, but why must the State become involved in those areas? Why must we change a system that is working well? I do not understand politicians who say that this measure is a cost to the State. If, for example, elderly people were not looked after in this way by their sons and daughters they probably would be in nursing homes, thereby costing the taxpayer a fortune. According to the 1960s “lefty” syndrome the State must run everything, but that is a short sighted view; people should be allowed get on with their own affairs.
There were many examples in previous years of civil servants who, with the best will in the world, proposed to a Minister that certain tax breaks be closed off because the State was losing money on them. However, it was often forgotten that these actions in the long run cost a considerable amount of money. I hope the Minister will take the opportunity on Committee Stage to make some adjustment to the covenant legislation, with changes being made only in the education area as was proposed.
Section 153 of the Finance Bill has been labelled the informer section or the whistle blowers' provision. I wish to disclose a professional interest in the provisions of this section. As most people know, I am a chartered accountant and therefore would be adversely affected by this section as it relates to my practice. The section arises from the beef tribunal report which made recommendations on the reporting by auditors of tax evasion by companies. A politician, particularly a politician who is an accountant, is in a no win situation in arguing for a rational debate on this  topic. The Institute of Chartered Accountants, of which I am a member, has lobbied for withdrawal of the section as it stands, and many other bodies have joined in this exercise. Many independent commentators are also concerned about this section. No one condones tax evasion, but there is a vast difference between what I submit was the intention behind the recommendations of the beef tribunal report and what is included in section 153. The tribunal report wanted the law strengthened regarding real and substantial tax evasion rather than the myriad of mickey mouse offences, some technical, envisaged by this section.
For example, what is the purpose of making it an offence for an auditor to report on the late filing of returns? Have the Revenue Commissioners not invested millions of pounds in the most up-to-date and sophisticated computers to give them such information at the press of a button? Commonsense should prevail here. The Minister should withdraw this section and engage in further discussions with professional bodies. I look forward to detailed debate on Committee Stage on the various sections of the Bill, particularly this section. I know the Minister is prepared to keep an open mind on this and other sections.
Section 153 about which much has been written — we will have considerable opportunity on Committee Stage to debate it further — is unacceptable. I do not know who dreamt it up. The Revenue Commissioners were not lobbied for a section such as this, and everyone in this town knows that. As my friend and colleague, Deputy Cullen, would say, everybody would be against it. For more than a decade we have put on the Statute Book detailed draconian legislation which gives more powers to the Revenue Commissioners than in any other country in Europe. The Revenue Commissioners are satisfied with the powers they have and do not want further powers, therefore nobody from the Revenue Commissioners persuaded the Minister to introduce such a section.  I could quote sections of various Acts which give the Revenue Commissioners all the powers they want. That is set out in section 94 (s) of the 1983 Act. This section is ridiculous. I cannot understand the manner in which it has been drafted. For example, if an auditor suspects that there has been tax evasion, he or she is obliged to report it even though the person or company involved may not be guilty of an offence. The directors and employees of the company may get off scot free, but the auditor, whose suspicion of tax evasion cannot be justified, will be caught for all types of offences. It is a ludicrous section. The Minister for Finance, Deputy Quinn, may have the impression that chartered accountants are devious people who are not honest like architects. I understand some of the Minister's close relations are in the same profession as myself——
Mr. Quinn: They are not as devious.
Mr. McCreevy: They may not be. I am sure the Minister will tell his relative that this section is draft. The fine for reportable offences is ridiculous. The Minister is a sensible individual. I am sure an official from the Revenue Commissioners did not draft that section and I doubt if any of the sensible officials in the Department of Finance asked for this section. However, the person who drafted the section should be removed from the area of his or her current responsibility because if that person has any more brainwaves like this, I fear greatly for the Minister's future political safety. There are many other sections I will debate on Committee Stage, the detail of which is technical.
I commend the Minister for introducing a change in the tax legislation regarding seaside resorts. When I was Minister for Tourism and Trade it was intended that measure would be announced in the 1995 Finance Bill. I am glad the Minister for Tourism and Trade proceeded with the idea and the Minister for Finance, Deputy Quinn, had the foresight to go along with it.  That measure is based primarily on the designated urban renewal type legislation because many of our seaside resorts have fallen into a bad state of repair. It is a good idea to give a tax break to encourage people to improve those resorts. I sympathise with the Minister for Tourism and Trade and the Minister for Finance who had to decide what seaside resorts to include in the legislation, but most of the towns selected are those I had nominated. However, there will always be people with other ideas. I do not criticise the Minister for Tourism and Trade or the Minister for Finance for including the resorts selected because this is a matter of subjective judgment and I am glad the measure has been introduced.
I do not agree with the general thrust of the budget or the Finance Bill and I signalled that on Budget Day. Notwithstanding the compromises in which the Minister for Finance in any Government must engage, the Minister for Finance, Deputy Quinn, allowed himself to be pulled in many different directions and there is not a clear focused approach to the budget or the Finance Bill. I look forward to Committee Stage when we can table amendments to improve many of the sections.
Mr. M. McDowell: I welcome the Minister's statement that he expects a debate to take place in this House on the subject of taxation policy and that he will be interested to hear contributions on it. In that context I was saddened to hear him say, before he heard what the Opposition had to say on section 153, that the substance of the section would not be changed although there could be some marginal change in it. As Deputy McCreevy said, that is a singularly stupid provision. It is a provision which could not be proposed by somebody who has a deep understanding of how enterprise works or of how the accountancy profession interrelates with enterprise. It is certainly not something which will have a beneficial effect on tax compliance here in the long run. I agree with Deputy McCreevy that the  Revenue Commissioners do not want it introduced because it deals with the accountancy profession. If the Revenue Commissioners do not want to do that and they are the professional, how dare amateurs come on the stage and say they know better how enterprise runs? The Minister is an architect, I am a barrister and Deputy McCreevy is a chartered accountant and all three of us are in a sense lay people rather than participants in enterprise. Nobody who understands how enterprise works will stand over this proposition. If the Minister persists with the view that the section must substantially stand as it is, he will do untold damage which in the last analysis another Minister for Finance will have to remedy.
The Finance Bill is an index of the failure of the Government to address the real economic needs of the State. In every respect it represents a gross dereliction of duty combined with a demonstration of lack of Government judgment. I was reminded of the speech made by the Minister on Budget Day. He described the budget as a radical one and on checking his speech I found there was more hyperbole. He claimed that the budget will give heart to young people to seek to broaden their horizons. Now when there is no applause in the House and the three of us are discussing this Bill, does the Minister believe that young people took heart and broadened their horizons when they read that document?
Mr. Cullen: They took flight.
Mr. M. McDowell: The only sense in which they may broaden their horizons is with an intention to emigrate. The Minister also said that the budget was one small step in the direction of budgetary reform, that some of the measures it contains may not work as effectively as the Government intends them to and, if so, in time it will correct them. The Minister at the beginning of his speech said it was a radical budget that would change the future for young  people and at the end indicated it was a small step in the direction of budgetary reform. In retrospect, I believe the second view is the correct one. This is a rather inconsequential budget and the tragedy is that it ignores the huge challenge for tax reform that confronted this and the two previous Governments. This Bill is a “marking time” exercise. The Minister may claim that he has increased tax allowances and he has repeated that today, but all the changes made amount in gross terms to 6 per cent or less. Allowing for inflation that means we are really talking about changes in tax allowances and tax bands in real terms of 3 per cent. Is that to be the stuff of which radical tax reform is made? It is not, because if it is repeated three times by the Government in three budgets, there will be a 10 per cent difference in the value of tax allowances and tax bands by the time the Minister finishes his term in office.
In a country in which tax reform has been identified as a necessity by all the political parties, which the Culliton report — to which the Minister paid lip service in his capacity as Minister for Enterprise and Employment — said was the single issue on which this Government could do something substantial to change the climate for enterprise here, it is disappointing that we are asked to accept as radical a budget that has a 3 per cent effect on personal tax allowances and tax bands. It is not radical, it is creeping incrementalism of the worst kind, which is really what this Government has on offer. It does not surprise me that this is the case; I never expected anything different. The public should be made aware repeatedly during the lifetime of this Government, that it has funked tax reform and intends to continue funking as long as the issue remains to be decided.
On the evidence of this Bill I suggest that the Minister, the Government, the Labour Party, Fine Gael and Democratic Left, demonstrate that not merely do they not understand, but at heart  reject, the advice tendered them on tax reform, not only by the Culliton committee but also by the OECD, the Central Bank, the ESRI and many other non-party political commentators and observers. The challenge to the political establishment to radically reform its system of tax on work simply will not go away; it will not be forgotten or satisfied by marginal changes or incrementalism of the kind shown in this Bill. That challenge must be taken up, if not by this Government, by its successor. The next Government must seek and obtain a mandate for radical tax reform.
I listened carefully to Deputy McCreevy. Sometimes I find it difficult to follow the exact differences in nuance between what he and Deputy Bertie Ahern say on the question of taxation. In retrospect I welcome the statement of the Leader of the Fianna Fáil Party, that he now shares the aim of the Progressive Democrats of a 20 per cent standard rate of income tax and a top rate of 40 per cent. Although that did not receive much publicity, I noted it. While I accept it may be a matter of less pressing urgency for some politicians than for others, I believe and stand by the proposition that reform of our tax system, and lowering marginal rates of tax, is one of the ways in which this country will transform itself into a genuinely enterprising economy. It matters that the lower rate of income tax is 27 per cent rather than 20 per cent, and that 48 per cent rather than 40 per cent is the higher rate because people faced with 48 per cent tax and, say, 5 per cent PRSI contributions, take different decisions in relation to their marginal earnings, savings, investments, risk-taking and the like, their willingness to work overtime and to employ other people. In betting parlance, it puts out the odds against getting an adequate return by a factor of 2, so what was a 2:1 chance in effect becomes a 4:1 chance in the case of someone who has to take the risk.
Deputy McCreevy heaps plaudits on officials in the Department of Finance.
 I do not believe they have a culture of understanding that issue. Whereas I admire their numeracy and the rest of it, I do not admire their instincts which find expression in successive Finance Bills. I reject the notion that politicians solely dictate our Finance Bills. There is a cultural problem endemic in public administration which does not understand enterprise or risk-taking. It regards them — and profit — as dirty concepts, to which it is not really and genuinely committed. Until this country has a Minister for Finance who not simply tolerates profit but welcomes it, not simply congratulates those who make profits but who genuinely and sincerely admires them; who is not simply willing to effect this or that change in a Finance Bill, or pay lipservice to enterprise but who, in his heart, feels it is a good thing that people in our society take risks and are rewarded for taking them, until such time as we have a Department of Finance which wholly supports its Minister in that regard, we shall not have turned the cultural corner which will bring this country to prosperity.
Like it or lump it, when all the changes the Minister has effected in our taxation system are examined, the figures in his own tables tell their tale. For example, in Appendix 1 on page 59 of the circulated budget booklet, a single employee earning £11,000 per annum effectively will be £144 a year “better off' if his or her earnings remain static within the context of this budget. A single employee earning well below the average industrial wage, say, £12,250 per annum — £234 a week — in present circumstances takes home approximately £8,800 or £169 per week. Such a single person with gross earnings of £12,250 costs his or her employer £13,720 because the latter must pay PRSI contributions. Therefore, the percentage of gross take-home pay is approximately 65 per cent and the difference between the take-home pay and the total outlay of the employer is closer to 60 per cent.
 Under our crazy tax law a person with take-home pay of £169 per week faces a confiscation of 57 per cent of any overtime earnings. For example, if he or she receives a raise, the Government takes 57 per cent.
Effectively, this budget did nothing for people who earn well below the average industrial wage, to take off their shoulders what in many other European countries would be regarded as surtax or tax rates for the super rich. How dare we collectively, as a Legislature, impose on somebody earning below the average industrial wage a confiscatory regime of taxation whereby the State takes more of every £1 extra overtime and they get less? How can we justify it? How can anyone justify such a system of taxation? It is a gross injustice that people earning below the average industrial wage are faced with confiscatory taxation. This Finance Bill effectively cements that provision for yet another year, give or take 1, 2 or 3 per cent difference in their position. Allowing for inflation, this Bill probably means that in some cases people in those circumstances will be worse off taking into account the payment of mortgages and so on.
This Bill offends my sense of social justice. There is nothing just about a tax system which confiscates more than 50 per cent of the marginal earnings of those who earn well below the average industrial wage. No socialist could possibly defend it, certainly no liberal economist could defend it. If it is indefensible, when will this State tackle the issue? The time has come for this State, for the Minister's Department in particular and all his clever officials, to face up to the fact that the slow incremental movement toward standard-rating allowances should accelerate next year.
The Minister has a year in which to plan for the introduction of tax credits, a step which social justice demands. He does not have to look to the Progressive Democrats to find support for that proposition; all he has to do is go to the national organisation for the unemployed and those who are concerned  about the effect of the taxation system and who have consistently said that the time has come to deal with this issue. If it is correct every year to standard rate a little bit more of certain reliefs then it is correct to do it right across the board and to take the necessary steps to achieve that in next year's budget.
In this context I want to make a point which I have made on many occasions in the House. The time has come for the Department of Finance, all the clever officials in it and the Minister in charge of it to face up to the fact that the Murphy decision as implemented by the late George Colley through doubling tax allowances and the tax bands is fundamentally unfair. As a matter of economic fact I am led to believe — and I have no reason to disbelieve it — that the living expenses of a married couple are 1.6 times those of a single person. It is fundamentally unfair to have in being a system under which a married person gets twice the tax bands and allowances as a single person. This is indefensible from any point of view and is the reason people earning £12,250 who have to give up 57 per cent of their marginal earnings in tax are stuck in this trap. The 2:1 ratio of married allowances and bands to single allowances and bands has led to most single workers being trapped in this way.
This system needs to be challenged. It is not implicit in the Murphy decision that there must be a 2:1 ratio; all it said was that people who cohabit as man and wife cannot be worse off than unmarried people. It was never necessary to double allowances and bands for married people and a fairer tax system would not have attempted that; rather it would have taken account of reality and the economies of scale of setting up a married home.
The Minister is implementing yet another grotesquely unfair consequence of the Murphy decision in section 5 which provides for a rent allowance against income of £1,000 for a married couple, £500 for a single person and £750 for a widow. I want to give an example of a person living in a flat  whose wife dies and who suffers all the consequences of that in terms of having his personal allowance reduced by 25 per cent. I do not understand how one can say it is just in those circumstances that the allowance on the rent of the flat, which is the same as it was before his wife died, should also be reduced by a quarter. I do not see the logic in this. If an elderly pensioner in a flat in Dublin loses a portion of their rent allowance consequent on the death of their spouse, in addition to losing a portion of their personal allowance and having their tax bands contracted dramatically as a result, then it is grossly unfair. It is not just that the rent allowance for a married couple should be doubled in this way. It would be much easier to say that a limit applies in respect of any one dwelling where a person or couple, whether or not they are married, are living. Their marital status should not matter. This is a prime example of extending the Murphy logic well beyond what is necessary.
I want to reiterate the points made by Deputy McCreevy about tax covenants. I sent the Minister a copy of a letter I received, written by a woman living with a policeman. The policeman had an unsuccessful marriage at some stage in his life and he is now cohabiting with this woman by whom he has four children. In order to receive something better than a single person's tax allowance — his original spouse retained her tax allowance and he was only entitled to a single person's tax allowance — he used the covenant system to apply his salary to the support of people to whom he was in loco parentis and the mother of his children. Deputy McCreevy may be technically wrong as this man is not entitled to have his payments regarded as maintenance payments. It is very harsh to say that in order to pay for Minister Bhreathnach's excursion into free university education he must have financial havoc let loose on his household and that all he can receive is a single person's tax allowance, with all  that implies on our grossly unfair system.
I support entirely the points made by Deputy McCreevy about charitable donations. It is wrong to attempt through the tax regime to encourage people to allocate funds for specific charitable purposes when domestic charities are so deserving and are as badly affected by actions taken by Governments in recent years. I ask the Minister to bear in mind that the continuing failure of the Government to raise the amount of money which can be offered in prizes by real charities, which used to have a large lottery income, when the national lottery can offer prizes of £2 million-£3 million has had the effect of siphoning disposable discretionary income away from many good causes and into Government coffers. It is wrong to complicate the tax-system further and to discriminate further against domestic charities and create a new band of favoured charities — I have no doubt that they are very worthy — which exclude charities such as the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. I agree that it would be very difficult not to open the floodgates but I do not believe it is beyond the wit of man to devise a system whereby Trócaire and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul are both entitled to the same tax breaks under tax law without doing any massive damage to the Exchequer's expectations in any given tax year.
In 1989 there were three tax bands, 35 per cent, 48 per cent and 58 per cent. By 1992 those three tax bands has been consolidated into two tax bands of 27 per cent and 48 per cent. My party hoped that in the 1993 budget the 27 per cent rate would be reduced to 25 per cent and the 48 per cent rate would be reduced towards 40 per cent. If those targets has been achieved there would have been a considerable improvement in the taxation system.
The time has come to tackle employee PRSI as a tax, to reduce the 27 per cent standard rate and the standard rate of PRSI to a single lower tax level of 20 per cent on incomes up to  the average industrial wage, to extend the lower tax rate to cover at least the average industrial wage, to reduce the top rate of tax and PRSI to a single rate of not more than 40 per cent, to reform the system of tax allowances by replacing them with tax credits, to significantly improve the relative position of single people and to make significant changes in regard to capital gains tax.
The cost of reducing the rate of capital gains tax from 40 per cent to 20 per cent would be negligible, but the effect on enterprise and risk-taking would be substantial. All that could be achieved in the lifetime of a Government, although it might have a gross cost of approximately £1 billion if it said it would make available in every budget £200 million or £250 million in resources by widening the tax bands or by economies or controlling public spending. If a Government committed itself to such a plan over four years it could achieve a very different taxation regime, one similar to that achieved by the New Zealand Government.
The economic context in which the Minister is operating, is also very important. While it could be said that Government liabilities each year have resulted in a public spending growth rate of well above 6 per cent, has the time not come to ask public sector unions — the driving force behind the deals done between the social partners — if they are interested in take-home pay or gross wages. If public sector pay increased only at the rate of average industrial earnings since 1987 there would be hundreds of millions of pounds to put into the process of tax reduction, but public sector pay has increased at a rate far higher than the the average industrial wage since then. George Lee carried out a study on this subject for one of our business organisations and, even if one believes he oversimplifies in some respects, the thrust of what he said is substantially correct, namely, that the outcome of what the social partners have agreed has been to throw away an opportunity to concentrate on real take-home pay instead of  gross pay under a regime of high taxation.
The Minister abused the trust of this House in the way he claimed in the budget to have kept increases in public spending to a limit of 6 per cent. It can be noted from the infamous table that the Minister is using a new unit of measure and that the old fashioned net figure for increases in public spending applied to the same budgetary arithmetic would amount to 6.9 per cent. It is obvious the Government is willing to use cosmetics to disguise the rate of growth in public spending. If one compares 1995 with 1994, shorn of the onceoff tax amnesty, and takes into account the anticipated expenditure this year on equality payments, it appears the real increase in public spending will be of the order of 9 per cent, a rate which was unacceptable when the Progressive Democrats were in Government and I was a voice off-stage criticising that level of growth.
The commitment to reduce that growth rate to 2 per cent next year is merely more political eyewash because it will not be realised. In an attempt to shoehorn the bloated foot of this “ugly sisters” Government into the Cinderella glass slipper of fiscal rectitude, the Minister resorted to a stratagem of abandoning accounting rules of his Department and substituting new rules that enabled him to pretend the current spending limit of 6 per cent set out in the Programme for Government was being respected when it was not. I am not of the view that the low growth rate projected for receipts of income tax this year will be realised. Income tax is conservatively underestimated in the budgetary arithmetic and will be substantially higher.
In the 225 pages of proposals for legislative action contained in the White Paper on Education launched by the Minister for Education, Deputy Bhreathnach, some days ago, to which the Government is committed in a semi-detached way, why is there no mention of cost? How could a responsible  Government propose massive transformation of our education system — some of which is for the worse — including a health board style network of regional education boards with the necessary bureaucracies attached and avoid the issue of cost? Is the Department of Finance allowing a White Paper containing vast expenditure commitments to be launched without a caveat? This is a cause of great concern because a political commitment is being given and expectations raised without any check by the Department of Finance. Yet, we can read in one of our Sunday newspapers that the cost of implementing such proposals, as estimated by the Department of Finance, could be of the order of £1 billion.
I do not mind putting resources into education if they are available, but I do mind destroying our education system by pumping resources into massive bureaucracy and a hideous transformation of the system at a cost of £1 billion when nobody in this House is even given the elementary courtesy of being told by the Department of Finance how much it will cost. If a newspaper reports that it will cost an additional £1 billion to implement the proposals in the White Paper, the least this House is entitled to, from a Government that claims it will reduce public spending growth to 2 per cent next year, is to be told who will finance such a transformation and why. We are also entitled to an explanation as to why the Department of Finance abdicated its function as the regulatory mechanism in respect of finance and allowed such a document into the public arena with its inherent expectations without a single line in it stating how much it will cost. It would be an exciting prospect if a case could be made for spending more on education to improve the system, but the White Paper suggests that we should spend a vast amount of money making appalling changes to our education system.
The Government has allowed public spending to go out of control. It is  spending money on the semi-State sector as if it were going out of fashion. It is committing itself to expenditure programmes in education as if money was growing on trees. It is a Government which has not made a serious effort in 1995 to control the growth in public expenditure and, in those circumstances, this Finance Bill, which is intended to fund profligate, uncontrolled growth in public spending, should be challenged. The tax system which underpins this bloated expenditure machine must be cut back.
On Committee Stage we will be tabling amendments to make some sense of this Finance Bill because at present it does not make any sense.
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: I move:
That Dáil Éireann, mindful of the unacceptable hardship being caused to hospital patients and their families due to appointment and admission cancellations, long waiting lists and continuing overcrowding in hospitals and also erosion of morale among hospital staff, condemns the Government for its failure to recognise the crisis and to adequately address the problems.
I wish to share my time.
An Ceann Comhairle: I am sure that is satisfactory and agreed.
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: The Minister for Health is well aware that since I took on this portfolio I have been at pains not to provide what I perceive to be a dated and ineffectual version of Opposition — to be stridently opposed to anything and everything a Government does. I have not failed to acknowledge when the Minister has taken appropriate action.
However, when it comes to the issue  of overcrowding and bad management of patient numbers in our big, publicly-funded hospitals, it is imperative, not only that the Opposition oppose, but that the Minister changes what he is doing in response to that opposition.
Since the start of this year there has been a failure by the Government and the Department of Health to recognise the crisis in hospitals. That crisis has led to industrial action by nurses, a group of workers that normally do not take to our streets unless there is a serious problem, there is no doubting how real and substantial the problem is. Accident and emergency care has reached breaking point, particularly in Dublin but also in hospitals all over the State.
In the past, Casualty as it used to be called, was precisely what it sounded. It was the place to which a mother brought the toddler who had fallen off his or her bicyle and who needed more treatment than the mother felt competent to provide. Similarly, the person who had been involved in an industrial mishap, or the student in school who was injured on the sportsfield were brought to casualty. Casualty was the place where broken bones were set and bleeding wounds staunched. There were some times of the day or, more specifically, of the night, that caused particular pressure, and there were some nights of the week when, for obvious reasons, casualty was more crowded than others.
However, we do not talk about casualty any more; we talk about Accident and Emergency Departments. What now happens in what we used to call “Casualty” is so different and so complex that the sign “Accident and Emergency” does not really fit the bill.
It might be simpler to put an entrance sign over the Accident and Emergency Department sign because, increasingly, that is what it is serving as; an assessment and induction point for the seriously ill who need admission to acute care wards. In other words, the role of Accident and Emergency Departments has changed beyond recognition and it will not change back.
If hospitals were just businesses,  merely in the profit and loss area, the implications would be obvious; our marketplace has changed, therefore, our facilities and management expertise need to change quickly. However, hospitals are not just businesses, they do not simply deal with money, they deal with people and that is all the more reason to change the way the operation is managed. Why should the imperative be less simply because the focus of a hospital is on patients, rather than profits?
That change has not happened. The Department of Health has not examined this recurring issue which has been happening again and again at the beginning of each year. The Department has not accepted that the position has changed and that the change must be managed. On the contrary, the Department seems to be hoping that the position will somehow change back, to let it off the hook of doing what it is supposed to be doing — providing health care for the nation.
What the Department of Health has done over the past three months is a sorry saga. The loudest sound has been the washing of hands as the Department has shrugged, portraying the disgraceful conditions patients are enduring as an haphazard outcome of old, unpredictable pressures rather than the inevitable outcome of a change in the way hospitals are used by the patients who need treatment.
There has been an implication — never quite spoken, but there, nonetheless — that bad, manipulative patients are trying to subvert good hospital systems by getting themselves improperly admitted through Accident and Emergency Departments.
Let us consider that in real terms, as opposed to Department of Health terms. An Accident and Emergency Department, in any hospital, is not the place to go to have a Teddy Bear's Picnic. It is not a place to go for a chat because you were a little bored with “Coronation Street” or “Glenroe”. Accident and Emergency Departments are Dickens crossed with Kafka. There  is constant activity and anxiety, but no apparent end result. There are sights, smells and sounds that would put you off your food for a week. There are machines being wheeled into curtained cubicles. There are trolleys, clanging prisonsides, which are imitations of beds designed for someone to lie on for an hour or maybe two.
When you cross Dickens with Kafka you get something that is grim and scary, something that makes no sense to the patients or to the professionals who are doing their best to cope with it. A doctor in charge of a major Accident and Emergency Department in one of our largest hospitals described it to The Irish Times just before Easter by saying “it is like Puck Fair”. He was putting it positively. That is what we are subjecting patients to. It is no wonder that nurses are striking to draw attention to their desperation in the face of this madness. There is patent mismanagement.
Nursing staff say that Accident and Emergency Departments have become makeshift wards. There is no throughput of patients because of the shortage of acute beds throughout the remainder of hospitals. This results in patients spending several days on trolleys.
For instance, in Beaumont Hospital recently, a pregnant woman with a history of miscarriage had to spend two days on a trolley in the Accident and Emergency Department. She was waiting for a bed to become available on a ward. She was one of the lucky ones. On some days, some patients do not even get a trolley. Often there are three or four ambulances held up at the door of the Accident and Emergency Department while patients are treated on stretchers until trolleys become available. Sometimes patients are laid on mattresses on the floor, others can spend hours sitting in armchairs. The constant fear for nursing staff is that someone will die on a trolley or in a corridor. It is also practically impossible to nurse somebody if you are down on your knees on the floor.
 There have been cases of elderly patients dying a couple of hours after moving from a trolley to a bed. These people and their families deserved to be treated with greater dignity.
Accident and Emergency Departments are clogged because beds on wards are not being made available quickly enough. There is a chronic shortage of step-down facilities where non-critical patients are taken out of acute hospital beds and cared for in nursing homes or in their local communities. If these facilities were available, up to 20 per cent of beds in hospitals around the State would be freed up.
Problems have arisen in Dublin because of the lack of co-ordination of the city's two ambulance services. The Mater and Beaumont Hospitals currently take 50 per cent of ambulance calls. These hospitals are located in areas where there are large populations, especially of elderly people, who require medical services. It means that these two hospitals are under incredible pressure all the time just from their local areas. Therefore, there has to be co-ordination of hospitals and ambulances within the Dublin area.
However, this is not happening. For instance, when the Mater is full, it sometimes takes up to three hours for that to be communicated to the Dublin ambulance services, resulting in patients arriving at the Mater and then having to travel to another hospital.
The crisis in hospitals and casualty departments led to the recent industrial action by nurses. They are not looking for extra pay but will not tolerate constant overwork and overcrowding. They want to provide a quality service to patients. They also want to be able to do their work without being abused about the overcrowding which is not their fault.
Nursing staff do marvellous work and it is unfair that they should be the victims of inefficiencies and inadequacies of the health boards and the Department of Health. The problems in accident and emergency departments have  not arisen overnight. But there appears to have been a persistent failure by the Department of Health to address them and this Government and Minister for Health have failed to recognise the crisis or get to grips with it.
If the Department had any sense of responsibility, it would, within the past three months, have taken two kinds of action. It would first have put emergency funding into the hospitals under pressure to allow for the opening of more beds and the taking on of extra staff to cover what might be called the ‘first quarter curve’ in admissions. Second, it would have moved in quickly to examine what was going on and developed new systems to cope with it. Instead, it played “blame the patient”: sending out the message, subtly and not so subtly, that this was happening because patients wanted to get around waiting lists.
Let us examine for a moment the possibility that the patient wants to get around a waiting list. Is that a dreadful thing? Is that patient an awful person? Should they just bide their soul in patience and not be trying to jump the queue? Should they learn to be a good obedient, patient patient? I am sorry to have to tell the Minister that the re-education of patients has to take second place to the re-education of the Department of Health.
I was a teacher, as was the Minister. I was a good teacher. I suspect the Minister was a good teacher, too. And so I feel safe in suggesting that the Minister would agree with me when I say he cannot teach a student much when a student is frightened, or in pain, or nauseated, or in discomfort that falls short of pain but goes way beyond malaise. The people the Department of Health would like to re-educate are people who are sick, a small but important point. They are not looking for admission to hospital to have their appearance improved. They are sick. They have symptoms. They need action taken. Sometimes, their life is disrupted by whatever ails them. So they are not going to be really good students; they  are not going to willingly learn to stand in line, accept queues or postpone solutions.
If someone is sick and anxious enough to submit themselves to the ‘Puck Fair’ conditions of our accident and emergency departments in the major hospitals, knowing that they are likely to be left lying on a trolley for a night, or longer, then they must be pretty desperate. It is crazy for the Department, or anybody else, to send out the message that these bad patients are just trying to sneak around a perfectly good system.
It is not a perfectly good system and the Department, and the Minister, should be fixing it and doing so quickly. There are examples of the Department's failure in this matter. For instance, several Ministers for Health have made funds available to address bed shortages and reduce waiting lists. Both problems are interlinked and incapable of being resolved separately. However, the Department of Health appears to have failed to grasp this.
Now money is being provided to deal with one set of waiting lists. However, because of the crisis in accident and emergency departments, appointments and admissions are being cancelled, creating a new set of waiting lists or emergencies. One list is just being substituted for another.
More than 550 elective admissions to the Mater Hospital were cancelled during the first three months of this year because of pressures on the hospital's accident and emergency department. In January elective admissions for 266 patients were cancelled. In February 143 were cancelled and last month 146 were cancelled. Escalating admissions to accident and emergency departments at various hospitals throughout the country are disrupting normal services at the hospitals as the pressure on beds increases.
As pressures on the service began to mount, the Cork city hospitals, for example, used a service disruption score to measure the effects of the crisis. When it was introduced the score was  30 but it recently climbed to 70. The scoring system was introduced to measure the level of disruption caused by the numbers being admitted through accident and emergency departments against the numbers awaiting admission from the community and from GPs, the numbers of extra emergency cases in five-day beds and the number of extra beds being introduced to cope with the situation. Every option possible to reduce bed-stay and to improve co-ordination of tests was being tried.
A major increase in casualty admissions in the first quarter of this year and the lack of step-down bed facilities have contributed to many of the hospitals much publicised casualty crisis. There is pressure on the system to continually provide additional step-down arrangements for patients in acute beds to ensure rapid discharge. There is an increased demand in all hospitals for non-acute accommodation which needs to be met and which will require joint planning between the hospital managements, the Department of Health and the various health boards. Hospitals are being continually hampered by their inability to discharge acute patients to appropriate facilities at any given time, thus causing blockage of beds. There is clearly a need for additional non-acute beds and there is also a need for more short stay beds within hospitals to deal properly with the elective workload.
Any cancelling of elective admissions as a result of the large increase in accident and emergency admissions will clearly have long term effects on waiting lists if it continues. The Department of Health appears to be refusing to accept any responsibility for this. The Department is not participating in this week's summit on the crisis in accident and emergency departments. All the other parties will be there and the Department should be there too as it has an important role to play in solving this crisis and integrating health services.
This integration role for the Department has been set by the health strategy document which was produced by the  Fianna Fáil - Labour Government. It proposed that the Department, the health boards and the hospitals should come together to tackle problems. Since the Minister for Health has not insisted on the Department's participation, does this mean he does not agree with the health strategy document? Does he also not agree with its proposals on action for acute hospitals which included an objective to ensure quality facilities for patient care? What happened to this objective as it has certainly not been to the fore in this current crisis?
I am very tempted to say the Department needs its head examined, because it does not seem to be able to learn from experience. If you go around the country and talk to the people in the health boards — I am delighted the Minister is in the process of doing that — they will say that what is happening this year has been happening for the past few years. It is a well established trend, this big curve of extra demand at the beginning of the year, but the Department seems determined to pretend that it is not real and it does not need to plan for it. That is roughly the equivalent of a leaving certificate student saying at this time of the year that there is no real need for him to revise his work in the next few weeks. Any mother would say to such a student: “you need your head examined.” Any patient or relative of a patient who has got a free sample of accident and emergency departments in a major hospital in the past few months would say that the Department needs its head examined. I am not sure that is true. I think it needs its heart examined — if it has one, and I hope, with Deputy Noonan in charge, that it might have one. If the Department of Health had a heart, it would be observing the truth about the current situation which is that the people who go to accident and emergency departments are often the most vulnerable, are the people who do not have the money to go the private route for care and treatment. They are the people who do not know how to work the system. The patients who suffer most are those vulnerable people,  the very young, the very old, particularly the very old. The people who have gone on strike this year are the last people you expect to go on strike. Nurses can and do take a great deal of punishment and an awfully big workload. Even when they went on strike this spring they did it in ways calculated to inconvenience patients as little as possible; they were obviously trying to draw the attention of the Department to the fact that here was a problem that was simply not being acknowledged or managed.
I am asking the Minister for Health to take action on this. The motion demands an increase in the level of funding to adequately address the problems. I would go further. I ask the Minister to stop his Department behaving as if this yearly crisis was a minor problem caused by patients. Plans must be developed to prevent this unacceptable hardship to patients and their families.
This Government has been in office for less than five months and it is unbelievable that in such a short period it has lost touch with reality. It is obsessed with looking after the privileged. Despite the presence of Labour and a Democratic Left Minister for Social Welfare it gave a 2.5 per cent increase to social welfare recipients and pensioners which will probably not even match inflation this year. Worse again, the rise only applies to a social welfare recipient's primary payment, not to dependant and supplementary allowances. At the same time a Labour Party Minister for Finance gave major tax breaks in the budget to the financial institutions which already make massive profits. The Government abolished the bank levy which resulted in a windfall of £12 million in 1995 for the financial institutions. Next year this windfall will be £24 million. The financial institutions will also make a killing from the 2 per cent cut in corporation tax.
The Government seems to know how to look after its banking friends but has no interest in the health services. When we came to Government seven years ago we immediately set about  rebuilding the hospital and health care infrastructure. It took time and effort. It was done painstakingly and with attention to detail. While we were trying to solve the problems the then Opposition's only reaction was to criticise us. As is now clear the Opposition's words were hollow. In a debate on 3 November 1992 on the general medical services proposed by Deputy Owen, now Minister for Justice, she stated, as reported at column 1876 of the Official Report, that in all arguments about the health service and GMS “the most important individual is the patient”. She appears to have forgotten this now that she is a Cabinet Member. If she has not, why does she not push for resources for the State's hospitals?
She is not the only one in the Fine Gael Party with amnesia. As reported at columns 1319-1323 of the Official Report, 30 March 1993, Deputy Flanagan complained bitterly about waiting lists. He wanted action and stressed that hundreds of beds had been taken out of use in all the Dublin hospitals. He wanted the Minister for Health to commit himself to action. That Government took effective action but it has been let slip by this Government. Where is Deputy Flanagan now that his party is in power and can take action? He is keeping his head down because instead of taking action this Government is adding to the problems by not recognising the crisis in the health services and providing adequate resources.
Deputy McManus, now Minister of State, was also a vocal contributor to the debate on the health charges in March 1993. As reported at column 1654 of the Official Report she considered there was a massive decline in spending on health care. She said she wanted our health services to be “better and more equitable and at the same time to provide jobs for more of our highly trained young people”. She is now a member of Government but she and Democratic Left appear to have fallen under the spell of the financial institutions and  have forgotten the crisis in hospitals and accident and emergency departments.
The breaks given to the banks in the budget are in sharp contrast to the provisions made for the health services. No allocation was made for the provision of extra step-down facilities which would free up acute beds in hospitals. The extra resources required could be found if the Government made health care a priority over tax breaks for banks. It is to be condemned for its failure to recognise the crisis and must immediately assess the level of funding required by the Department of Health and the health services and consider an increase so that the crisis in the health care service can be adequately assessed.
Dr. Moffatt: There is no doubt that the general medical and psychiatric services are going through a turbulent period. One might say this is nothing new. However, we have now reached a crisis point. As yet no definitive corrective action has been taken by the Minister, the Department of Health or the various health boards. Previously we had problems regarding orthopaedic. ENT and vascular patient waiting lists and outpatient appointments which were remedied somewhat when extra funding was provided. Now we hear more of the same — £8 million for a quick fix solution; a stop gap programme; more band-aid to stop the bleeding and prevent the problem worsening. This is not the way forward. We must carry out a proper analysis of health care. We must look at community care, the GP setting, in-patient and outpatient services in hospitals, psychiatric services and services for the mentally handicapped.
Recently I came across a hemiplegia patient who suffered a stroke and required two or three incontinence pads a day. The health board was only willing to supply one pad per day. Despite much effort I have not had any success to date. This shows the intransigence and inflexibility of health boards. This  hemiplegia, stroke patient, now confined to a wheelchair, was looked after by the family for 12 years yet the health board was unwilling to give the family two or three incontinence pads a day. How much had that family saved the health board during those years? This shows the health board does not know where money is well spent.
We talk about preventative care yet we do not have a proper immunisation programme. I know the Minister together with the IMO and others is trying to have such a programme. When we look at admission procedures in hospitals we find many people are admitted to hospital through casualty. This is not how it should be. We should have medical and surgical assessment units in hospitals where patients who do not need to be admitted to hospital can be referred back to their doctor and looked after in the community. The casualty department is often cluttered with the wrong patients. It should be a place for seriously ill patients to attend and they should be seen to in a reasonable time. However, this does not happen.
There are too many patient recalls to outpatient departments. Consultants see patients and bring them back ad nauseam. That should not happen. Patients should be dealt with and then sent back to their general practitioner.
The Minister was in Galway recently and I hoped he might say something about phase II of the Castlebar Hospital. The position regarding orthopaedics there is terrible. Patients must travel more than 110 miles if they sustain a simple fracture such as a Colles's fracture of the wrist or need minor procedures carried out. This shows we are not serious about providing a proper cost effective service. Two orthopaedic surgeons in Castlebar would provide an excellent cost effective service.
The problem of geriatric patients taking up acute beds has not been resolved in any of the health board areas. This problem will worsen as time goes on. We have not used our imagination in regard to this problem. We are  not using properly our district hospitals or our nursing homes, whether private or public. We are not using our day hospitals, carers, home helps or respite care, etc. in a manner which would alleviate the demands on acute hospital beds.
Recently I became aware of a 45 bed unit in the Western Health Board area which was getting a subvention of £70,000, which was insufficient to keep this unit in operation. In the Eastern Health Board area a similar institution would receive three or four times that amount of subvention. I fail to see the difference between the Eastern Health Board region and the Western Health Board region. An annual subvention of £70,000 for 45 patients is very little. We fail to see what can be done in the private and public sectors in regard to giving good value for money in nursing homes.
In the mental health area, recent publications by psychiatrists complain that there are insufficient acute beds, especially in the Eastern Health Board and Southern Health Board areas. This leads to too early discharge of patients, some of whom may have to be re-admitted, resulting in further demands on acute beds.
Psychiatric units were closed and large numbers of patients were discharged into the community. This does not mean we no longer require acute beds. We will always need acute psychiatric beds in good modern units. Those discharged into the community will need proper psychiatric follow up, either in a high support or medium support hostel settings or small units properly placed in the community. Even if placed in their own family they will still need community care and proper psychiatric follow up. We do not want the problems here which have arisen in England in regard to psychiatric patients. We do not want to see psychiatric patients wandering around and becoming the new homeless. We need proper follow up and occupational therapy, where feasible.
Mental illness and handicap do not  generate the same concern as coronary bypass surgery, heart, lung and bone marrow transplants. Nevertheless for those who suffer mental illness it is very real and they should be treated and acknowledged in the same way by the Department of Health as people with other illnesses. The mental health area should receive adequate funding. Most psychiatric nurses say there is a real need for this funding which is not forthcoming.
During the last few years very few psychiatric nurses have been trained. In the not too distant future we will not have an adequate number of trained psychiatric nurses. If psychiatric hospitals are to be attached to general hospitals in the future I hope they will not be in the basement or at the back of hospitals next to the mortuary. The available funds should be directed in a proper manner to give us the best possible service.
Mr. Hughes: I am pleased to support my colleagues on this motion. I am not being political but I appreciate when one assumes the responsibility of ministerial office, because of its nature and the burden of work to a certain extent one loses contact with constituents. It is appropriate to remind the Minister of what is happening in the real world. It is nice for him to go around Limerick and announce £12 million projects. It is an opportunity we would all like to have.
Few would dispute the many shortcomings of the Irish health service which cause added pain, anxiety and stress to many thousands of people. Most reprehensible of all is the cheque book aspect of the service which dictates that your place in the medical waiting queue can be dramatically improved if you have the ability to pay for the treatment you require. One can hardly blame the well-to-do for using their wealth for health. A system which permits this to happen can lay no claim to cherishing all the children of the nation equally, as the poor, the aged  and the unemployed know only too well.
Hundreds of people in the Western Health Board region are on a long waiting list for orthopaedic treatment. Others await corrective heart surgery and still others need specialist services to restore their quality of life. Their crime is that they do not have the money to pay for the treatment. Day in, day out, their pain continues and many GPs will confirm that several have died while still on a waiting list. I suggest that those queuing for treatment as public health patients forget about their hips and hearts and apply instead for gender reassignment surgery. They might well get to the hospital theatre faster as the Irish health service paid — from the taxes paid in by the people we represent — £24,000 for three men to have gender reassignment surgery at Charing Cross Hospital in London. It is comforting to know that this Government has our health priorities right and hip and heart patients should realise that sex change operations are more urgent than their trivial ailments.
At the end of December 1994, 1,500 patients from Mayo were awaiting outpatient appointments going back five years. Even when seen, they waited an average of two years for treatment. This is not acceptable. While I recognise it is a problem that has built up over the years and is not something that has happened since the Minister assumed office, positive action can be taken if the political will is there.
From January to mid-April each year there has been substantial overcrowding in our public hospitals due to a large number of dependent elderly people in remote isolated areas requiring hospitalisation. Levels of overcrowding in the region of 180 per cent are unacceptable. This requires extra staff on a temporary basis; extra beds and space are required urgently. While hospital staff cope as best they can, a clawback of resources takes place in each individual hospital for the balance of the year to meet the critical need during the winter months.  Sixty-five beds for 107 patients is not an acceptable norm for an average of four weeks in a three month winter period. General practitioners will continue to refer isolated dependent elderly people to public hospitals, in times described in the last few days as a litigious age, because the much heralded community resources are stretched thinly on the ground. Many of the elderly hospitalised on a cautionary basis could be retained in their communities if the Minister recognised the huge untapped resource of the home help and the meals on wheels scheme. Because of the geographical distances involved the GP may admit a borderline case, particularly where a home help service is not freely available and is under resourced.
Payments of £1 per hour to home helps in the Western Health region — as discussed here several weeks ago — are scandalous. While the Minister may say ad nauseam, while he retains his brief, that the allocation of resources in the first instance is a matter for the chief executive officer of each health board area, he must be concerned with improving the delivery of health services to those most in need. The optimum use of resources amounting to about 7 per cent of GNP should be assured. Money should be properly allocated and policy implemented that will see an improvement in the availability of health services to the people we serve.
Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan,: Limerick East): I wish to share my time with Deputy Ring.
An Ceann Comhairle: Is that agreed? Agreed.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick East): I move amendment No. 1:
To delete all words after “That” and substitute the following:
— endorses and supports the action of the Minister for  Health in increasing the allocation for acute hospitals by £17 million in 1995;
— welcomes the Government's agreement as set out in the Programme A Government of Renewal to continue funding for an initiative on waiting lists in the coming years of this programme;
— agrees fully with the steps which the Minister for Health has taken to relieve pressure on the acute hospitals by the provision of appropriate alternative facilities”.
I thank Deputies for their contributions. Where they have brought new material to my attention I will take that into account and have it examined.
Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn spoke of the hospital services as a mixture of Dickens and Kafka. Whatever about the hospital service, the Deputy's speech was a mixture of Dickens and Kafka, more Kafka than Dickens. There were shades of “Bleak House” and “Hard Times”, but the idea of a senior politician in Fianna Fáil, having been in office for seven years, making the speech she made on the failures of the health service to a Minister who has been in office for three months in Kafkaesque in the extreme.
Dr. Moffatt: When will the Minister drop that line?
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick East): I think it is a good line and it will run for a long time yet. Let us be reasonable. We have been in power for a couple of months and we have listened to an analysis of the fundamental flaws of the health service by a Deputy whose party was in power when the last three Health Ministers held office. In 1989, in the middle of an election campaign — Deputy O'Hanlon had been Minister for Health for two years — the Taoiseach at the time went on radio to apologise to the people saying he did not know how bad  the services were as nobody had told him. Next we had Dr. John O'Connell as Minister for Health when the Progressive Democrats and Fianna Fáil were in Government and, then we had Labour and Fianna Fáil the last two years. Am I to take seriously a lecture on the improvement of the health services from the people who presided over them? There are two choices. The Opposition can say they presided over a catastrophe during the last seven years, or they can face the facts and admit that the health services have been substantially improved and are not as bad as they are painted. There are difficulties, which we would all admit, but the latter is the honest account of the position.
It was also Kafkaesque to listen to the Opposition spokesperson on Health lambaste a Department of State, paragraph after paragraph, and hardly referring to the Minister. That is highly unusual. It was a kind of Punch and Judy show where, instead of Punch being whacked on the head by Judy, the fellow who runs the carnival is whacked on the head. What is the agenda when people who have run the Department for seven years lambaste the Department of Health? I cannot understand it.
I do not intend personalising the argument but Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn made one major suggestion. She said there is a lack of sub-acute beds in the country, and that is true. She said that if sufficient step-down facilities could be provided it would do much to solve the problem — 20 per cent of the people who occupy acute beds could be put into step-down facilities. There are 12,500 acute beds in the country, 20 per cent of which is 2,500. Is the Deputy seriously suggesting that I should have provided 2,500 beds in three months when her own party was in office for seven years and failed to provide these step-down facilities? There was a huge reduction in bed numbers from 1987 onwards, not an increase. I do not follow the Opposition argument, or perhaps I do but it would be better not to go into it.
I would like to be constructive and  say what has been happening since I took over as Minister to alleviate the problems which exist and which have been pointed out by the three Deputies who have contributed so far. I will do this under the headings of improvements in acute hospital services, improvements in the accident and emergency services and waiting lists and waiting times initiatives.
I am sure the House will be happy to know that I have made a very large allocation for a programme of improvements in hospitals services. In 1995 I allocated an additional £17 million revenue in this area. This is a significant sum which is providing a wide range of improved services throughout the country. This figure includes improvements in all eight health boards and covers a wide range of specialties in hospitals. These will be referred to in greater detail by my colleagues. As part of these improvements I have also moved to improve the pre-hospital ambulance service.
In addition to the £17 million revenue I will also be providing capital funding of approximately £70 million in 1995 to improve the infrastructure of the hospital system. In particular it will see the continuation of the building programme at the new hospital at Tallaght and other schemes of improvement in hospitals throughout the country.
One of the first things I noticed when looking at the Estimate for the Department of Health was the great disparity between the current side and the capital side. Out of a budget of about £2.3 billion last year, only £65 million was spent on capital. Is it any wonder that the infrastructure is poor when the whole balance of funding is going on the current side and very little investment has been made over the years on the capital side?
The accident and emergency departments of the major hospitals operate a 24 hour service, seven days a week. Because of the nature of the service provided, it is not possible to predict the  workload that will present at an accident and emergency department at any given time. However generally speaking, there is sufficient capacity within the accident and emergency services to deal with the needs of patients.
Much of the recent focus concerning accident and emergency services has centred on the major providers of this service in large centres of population, particularly Dublin, Cork and Galway. With regard to the upsurge in activity this winter, the Irish experience is by no means unique. Hospitals all over northern Europe have experienced an upsurge in accident and emergency activity this winter very similar to that in this country. The prolonged spell of cold and wet weather has, in particular, affected elderly people and put exceptional pressure on medical beds, mainly for the treatment of serious respiratory conditions.
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: The Minister has to check against delivery.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick East): The Deputy did not give me an opportunity to reannounce the good news for Galway, so I will have to skip that and take it as read.
Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn: The Minister misunderstood me.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick East): Perhaps I should have read it out — good news should be repeated and I could give the people of Galway an opportunity to applaud my efforts once more.
Accident and emergency services in Dublin are provided by six major acute hospitals — the Mater, Beaumont and James Connolly Memorial on the north side of the city and St. Vincent's, St. James's and the Meath on the south side. The accident and emergency departments of the six major hospitals in Dublin provide 24 hour cover all year round. The figures are striking, and it is in the context of the overall figures that we should look at the problem. I am not saying everything is perfect or that  everything was perfect over the winter. There were real problems in these hospitals over the winter and the nursing staff had real problems in the hospitals. Looking at the figures one can see why. Last year there were 226,933 new attendances in the six accident and emergency departments and 45,149 patients were admitted to the six Dublin hospitals through the accident and emergency departments.
While the Eastern Health Board has the co-ordinating responsibility for the accident and emergency services in Dublin, the six individual hospitals have direct responsibility for the overall management and provision of the service. The operation of the service is, accordingly, co-ordinated by a steering committee chaired by the programme manager, general hospital care, Eastern Health Board and includes the accident and emergency consultants of the six hospitals together with their hospital managers/chief executive officers. It has recently been agreed to broaden the membership of the steering committee to include representatives of the accident and emergency nursing staff from each of the six hospitals.
As is the case with the rest of the country, it is not possible to predict when the accident and emergency services of the Dublin hospitals will be required or the volume of cases which will need these services at any particular time. Accordingly, from time to time, delays do occur, particularly during the winter when there has tended to be an upsurge in the number of patients presenting at accident and emergency departments for treatment. That is predictable but the level of the increase this year was not predictable because it was more than is normal seasonally.
A number of aspects need to be examined. There is a downturn in activity in all hospitals from about 15 December for a variety of reasons — Christmas, leave and so on; but there is an upsurge in January when the cases deferred in December are dealt with. If this is magnified by a particular problem, as happened this year when the  elderly suffered respiratory problems during the spell of bad weather, the problem becomes more serious. It is not possible to gear the service to cater for peak demand and treat this as the norm; if we did so we would be accused of wasting public money during the rest of the year but there is a difficulty and it will have to be examined and dealt with.
When admissions to hospitals from accident and emergency departments are high some non-emergency elective admissions are cancelled. This is not new; it has been the practice for many years that if hospital beds are full because of emergency admissions non-emergency admissions suffer. It is regrettable when this happens and it would be better if that was not the case but the cancellation of non-emergency elective admissions is not a recent phenomenon. It occurred under previous Administrations. I hope the position will be improved but I do not think the problem can be eliminated completely because in certain years there will always be a peak of demand which has not been allowed for in the normal provision of services. When this happens some elective admissions will be cancelled or deferred, which is the more proper description. Where non-emergency elective admissions are cancelled hospitals try to reschedule the appointments as soon as possible. Experience suggests that, despite the exceptional difficulties of recent months, the number of elective patients treated over the whole year will be similar to the number in 1994.
The approach necessary for an effective response to the problem of delays in accident and emergency departments is threefold. It is important that general practitioner services are appropriately utilised. Very often patients come to accident and emergency departments in the first instance instead of going to their general practitioner. I understand that St. James's Hospital recently completed a pilot project involving general practitioners in the accident and emergency service with a view to encouraging more appropriate utilisation of the  services available by patients. My Department is examining the possibility of extending this project. We will also be entering into intensive discussions with general practitioner interests to agree on what further steps can be taken to improve the availability of services outside normal hours, particularly in Dublin.
It is also important that the operation of the accident and emergency department is properly integrated with the operation of the hospital as a whole. My Department has urged hospitals to look at how they manage their workload having regard to the level of admissions through the accident and emergency department. Hospitals will have to accept that, as night follows day, they will be under exceptional pressure at particular times of the year and they must organise themselves to deal with the problem. This is as much part of their role as providing specialist services on an elective basis.
It is necessary that there are sufficient appropriate care facilities available for those patients no longer in need of acute care. This point was made forcibly by Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn. One of the principal causes of delay in placing patients in the most appropriate type of accommodation has been the shortage of suitable facilities. That shortage results in elderly and young chronically sick patients having to remain in acute hospitals longer than necessary, thus reducing the number of beds available for new admissions. This has been a particular problem in Dublin in recent years and one that has faced different Governments. The resolution of this problem is now a priority and will be the subject of intensive and sustained attention until we have achieved a satisfactory balance between acute and continuing care provisions.
It is unfair to criticise the Department of Health when there are difficulties in a particular service. The health services are organised on the basis that the Department provides the money and states the policy but responsibility for  the day to day running of the services lies either with the health boards or the voluntary hospitals. Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn made the point that on one occasion when the Mater Hospital was under pressure the ambulance service, which is integrated in Dublin, was not notified for three hours; according to protocol it should be notified immediately. If the protocol is not followed it is not for me to make the telephone call from the Mater Hospital to the ambulance service, neither is it appropriate for the secretary of the Department to do so. Who runs the Mater Hospital? These questions will have to be asked. When something goes wrong and there is a minor administrative problem where someone does not put through a call in a hospital which has full authority, strong funding, talks about its ethos and has full control, this is not the fault of the Minister for Health or the Department but of the person who was responsible.
I am as committed as Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn to the health stategy produced by the previous Government, part of which deals with the integration of services and devolution of responsibility to the health boards and voluntary hospitals, but with devolution goes responsibility. There is no point devolving responsibility if people are not prepared to take responsibility when things go wrong. One cannot go out from Hawkins House in the middle of the night and run the hospital. Management in the health boards and hospitals will have to take responsibility and put their own procedures in place to improve the position. They will receive every help from me but we can carry this too far. In this House we accept the blame for many things when in fact responsibility lies elsewhere.
The Government has taken action this year, for example, through the provision of funding for additional facilities — sub-acute accommodation — for the care of the elderly in the Dublin area. I provided £850,000 to the Eastern Health Board in January, the biggest allocation ever made for this purpose, to provide  as a matter of urgency additional alternative accommodation for patients in acute hospitals who no longer require acute care. Placing such patients in accommodation more appropriate to their needs eases the pressure on the acute hospitals and reduces the delays in admitting patients to hospital. In addition, and in view of the difficulties identified in the provision of accident and emergency services at the Mater Hospital, I have provided £200,000 in 1995 to enable that hospital provide more staffing for extra treatment cubicles in the casualty department with a new 12 bed observation ward in its accident and emergency department.
It is not true that no attention was paid to what was happening in accident and emergency departments this winter, that the Department was unaware or reluctant to take action or, to quote Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn, was washing its hands of a particular problem. There was no washing of hands and if we check the records we will find that the allocation of £850,000 was made to the Eastern Health Board before there was any publicity in the newspapers about accident and emergency services in Dublin in January.
I now turn to the question of waiting lists for in-patient treatment. Over the past two years, when the Fianna Fáil-Labour Government was in office, £30 million was provided to tackle the problem of long waiting lists. The action programme for which this funding was allocated has led to the most dramatic reductions in waiting times for treatment and has reduced considerably the excessive waiting lists which were allowed to build up during the late eighties.
The waiting list initiative was driven by the need to improve equity of access to the hospital system as set out in the health strategy. There is no need to remind the House that the most important factor from the viewpoint of the patient is to ensure that the time spent waiting for treatment is as short as possible. Funding was therefore provided to ensure a reduction in waiting lists where waiting times for adults were  in excess of 12 months and for children in excess of six months. The specialities of ENT, ophthalmology, orthopaedics, plastic surgery, vascular surgery, general surgery gynaecology and urology were targeted as needing particular attention. In addition, a special programme of investment was undertaken in association with the waiting list initiative to address the urgent need for an improvement in cardiac surgery services.
The Department has recently concluded an analysis of the waiting list position. The figures are interesting. The 1994 initiative provided that a total of 12,468 additional procedures would be undertaken to address the problem of long waiting times in the problem specialities. These procedures were in addition to the normal levels of hospital activity. Targets were formally agreed with individual agencies and value for money was guaranteed by ensuring that hospitals would only benefit from the additional funding where the targets for additional activity were fulfilled and normal activity levels maintained. Where hospitals did not meet their targets funding was clawed back and reallocated to hospitals which were more than meeting their targets. It is now clear that hospitals have once more responded to the challenge presented by the waiting list initiative and the targets set for each specialty have not only been fulfilled, but in certain areas have been exceeded. By the end of the year, the total level of additional activity carried out under the initiative amounted to 16,669 procedures, 4,201 procedures more than originally agreed. This represents an excellent return and excellent value for money.
While the waiting list initiative has resulted in a major increase in the number of operations being performed in hospitals, it goes without saying that the real measure of the success of the initiative is the effect it has on the number of people waiting for treatment and length of time which the individual patient must wait. The House will, therefore, be pleased to know that the total  number of people waiting for treatment in all specialties has shown a reduction.
In June 1993 when the first initiative commenced the total waiting list for all specialists was 40,130. At the end of 1993, the total numbers waiting for treatment stood at 25,373. This number had increased to just under 28,000 at the end of March 1994. By 31 December 1994, this figure had been reduced to 23,835. A reduction of 13 per cent has therefore been achieved on the March 1994 peak and since June 1993, when the initiative commenced, the overall waiting list figure has reduced from 40,130 to 23,835 at the end of December 1994. Over the 18 months to the end of last December the total waiting list has, therefore, fallen by 16,295 or 41 per cent. I would like to put the figure for the waiting list into context. While 23,825 people are still waiting the number of people hospitalised in 1994 was 911,713. The waiting lists, therefore, represent less than 3 per cent of the annual throughput of acute hospitals. When put in context, what looks like a huge waiting list becomes a very small percentage of the throughput. We should congratulate everybody involved, particularly the medical and nursing staff in hospitals, for giving great value for money and taking up the challenge of the waiting list initiative.
Even more impressive progress has been made in those specialties which were targeted for special attention. At the end of March 1994, 44 per cent of all adults waiting in the problem specialties had been waiting over 12 months. By the end of 1994 the proportion waiting in excess of 12 months had been reduced to 35 per cent.
Similar progress has been made in children's waiting lists. The proportion of children waiting over six months for treatment has fallen from almost 57 per cent at the end of March 1994 to 40 per cent at the end of last December, a reduction of 17 percentage points in the numbers waiting over six months. In addition, within the overall figures there has been a number of significant  advances. For instance, during 1994 the plastic surgery waiting list for children which includes those waiting for treatment for conditions such as cleft palate, fell from 462 to 190, a reduction of 58 per cent; the number of children waiting over six months for ear, nose and throat procedures such as tonsil and adenoid operations and for grommets fell by 60 per cent from 691 to 277; the number of adults waiting over 12 months for general surgical procedures fell from 1,520 to 691, a reduction of 55 per cent during the year; the waiting list for varicose vein surgery fell by 35 per cent from 2,311 to 1,509. I know it is difficult to grasp statistics when they are read out very rapidly, but they will be on the record of the House. It is important that the House, which authorises expenditure of much money on the waiting list initiative, should know that the initiative introduced by the previous Fianna Fáil-Labour Government has been very successful and we will continue it this year.
It is clear, therefore, that the waiting list initiative has resulted in higher levels of activity, shorter waiting lists overall and, most importantly, less time spent waiting by the individual patient. The results of the 1994 initiative have shown that even with a reduced level of funding for the initiative compared to 1993, the health service can continue to deliver steady progress towards the eventual target of eliminating waiting times in excess of 12 months for adults and six months for children. The performance of the health service during 1994 demonstrates the value of special programmes of targeted investment such as the waiting list initiative and justifies the Government's commitment to continue the initiative in the coming years.
By targeting resources at those areas where waiting times are longest, the waiting list initiatives of the past two years have gone a long way towards improving equity of access to acute hospital services. Notwithstanding the excellent results so far, there is still more work to be done if the target waiting times are to be reached for all  patients. As announced in the budget by my colleague, the Minister for Finance, a further £8 million is being provided this year to maintain the progress of the last two years. My Department will shortly enter into discussions with health agencies to explore how the funding available can be employed to best effect. I am most concerned that allocation of funding in 1995 continues to reflect the principle that those agencies which have shown themselves to be effective in reducing in-patient waiting lists and waiting times continue to be rewarded for their performance. I will, therefore examine the possibility of allocating some of the funding which will be available this year towards addressing waiting lists for out-patient services. The funding provided this year will build on the progress already made and I look forward to the further improvements in waiting times and equity of access which will result from this year's allocation.
The various initiatives I have outlined this evening provide clear evidence that this Government has provided sufficient resources both to maintain hospital services and to enhance the range of services available. Waiting lists for hospital treatment are lower and waiting times shorter than they have been for many years. Additional facilities and funding have been provided to address the problem of delays in accident and emergency departments.
However, while considerable funding has been provided for the hospital services this year, I would remind the House that the hospital service is but one element of the health service and cannot be viewed in isolation. There are many other areas of need within the health services and the provision of additional resources for the hospital system must be carefully weighted and balanced against the equally deserving needs of, for example, the mentally handicapped, the physically disabled and children at risk. We should, therefore, beware of the temptation to focus our attention entirely upon one service  when the needs of other areas must also be considered.
From the outset, the Government rejected the narrow and short-sighted focus on individual sectors which underlies this motion and has concentrated on building a comprehensive and high quality health service. With the significant provision which has been made for the health service this year, the Government has demonstrated its commitment to the approach of providing a balanced and equitable service for all those who depend upon the health services. Accordingly, I commend this amendment to the House.
Mr. Ring: As a Deputy from County Mayo I wish to outline the legacy of the last three Governments in that county. I will press the Minister to ensure that phase two of the hospital project is implemented very soon. Orthopaedic services in the county are a disgrace. People from Belmullet, Ballina and Westport who suffer a simple sprain, a broken finger or whatever, may have to travel 200 miles to see an orthopaedic surgeon. I have had a number of meetings with the Minister and spelled out the requirements in the Mayo General Hospital in Castlebar. I hope when phase two is completed there will be two orthopaedic surgeons in that hospital. Proper maternity services are also required and I hope the best facilities will be provided in this regard.
The present Minister is a caring Minister who has been little more than 100 days in office. I have no doubt he realises the challenge facing him. He has seen the way the health services have been neglected in recent years and I compliment him on providing an extra £17 million this year for that purpose. In reply to a parliamentary question I put down today on the number of people awaiting hip replacement operations in Mayo I was told that 1,491 persons are on the waiting list. That is a disgrace. I ask the Minister to ensure these queues are shortened. I also ask him to ensure that two orthopaedic surgeons are appointed to Mayo General Hospital to  cater for people from Ballina, Belmullet and Westport. Those people should not have to travel to Galway to see specialists. The Minister has started well and he should keep up the good work. I am glad he is looking after the underprivileged in our society. He has a good grasp of his brief and I have no doubt he will do a good job.
I look forward in the next few months to the Minister telling me that two or three orthopaedic surgeons will be appointed to the Mayo General Hospital in Castlebar. I will keep the pressure on the Minister, not like my friends on the far side who forgot about the health services. I remember when the Taoiseach of a recent Government did not realise there was a crisis in the health services. We have come into office when there is a crisis and we will resolve it. I look forward to hearing good news for the people of County Mayo very soon.
Mr. T. Kitt: I wish to share my time with Deputy Callely.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I am sure that is satisfactory and agreed.
Mr. T. Kitt: I speak on this motion as Fianna Fáil spokesman on labour affairs. I listened carefully to what the Minister had to say and I have heard the same type of comment from a number of Ministers since the formation of the Government. They do not seem to realise that they are in a position to make decisions to deal with issues. Other Ministers, like Deputy Bruton, blamed Fianna Fáil regarding the community employment initiative. Such Ministers do not seem to appreciate there were two parties in the previous Government. I ask the Government to face up to the fact that it has been in power for four months and that it is up to it to deal with this issue.
I am conscious that nursing staff, in particular, have been protesting on this issue and they do not do so without good reason. The Minister should listen  carefully to what they and their representatives have to say. I note the Minister in his opening address acknowledged the role of the two parties in the previous Government and has given them credit for some achievements.
I want to refer specifically to the crisis which has been allowed develop in Dublin, north and south of the Liffey, in the six acute hospitals. Morale among hospital staff is at an all time low and patients and their families are enduring unacceptable hardship. As the main Opposition party we have not just a right but a duty to speak out on these issues. It is disingenuous of the Minister or anybody else to accuse us of being opportunistic. We have been criticised at times for being too quiet on issues, but we have heard what those representing patients, nurses and hospital staff have said to us. We have a duty and a right to speak out and we will not be silenced by any Minister.
Problems have been highlighted, particularly in the Mater Hospital and Beaumont Hospital, and they are replicated in other major Dublin hospitals. The crisis centres around the fact that there are too few beds and too few staff within the system. Sadly, the response has been to lurch along from one crisis to another. There is no fundamental forward planning either at hospital management level or ar ministerial level. Government policy depends on the latest press release from the Minister promising more money to reduce the waiting list. That is all very fine and sounds good, but when we look behind those promises of extra funding, we see that in this year's budget £8 million has been set aside for reducing the waiting list. That headline may read well, but the sum compares most unfavourably with allocations made in the past two years, £10 million last year and £20 million the previous year. The reality behind those announcements — we have heard some tonight which I welcome — is that patients and their families are suffering and hospital staff have to endure impossible working conditions.
 I wish to put on record my admiration for the dedication and commitment of the thousands of nurses and hospital staff. No doubt at some stage in our lives we have all, either as hospital patients or as visitors, seen at first hand the high quality of care provided. The current dispute is not about pay, but about deplorable conditions and the lack of a cohesive plan to deal with the current crisis and chart an adequate and realistic way forward for all concerned.
It is evident that the accident and emergency services need to be more adequately co-ordinated and optimum use made of every bed space. There are glaring contradictions in the actions of the Minister and hospital management in addressing the issue of the number of bed spaces. The Minister announces the provision of more funds to deal with bed shortages while at the same time there are seasonal bed closures in hospitals for two months of the year. While the Minister is making additional moneys available to provide more beds, he is also extending the waiting list by closing hospital beds. This practice of summer bed closures, which has become the norm, should be ended. It does not make sense.
What we are witnessing is an accident and emergency service in Dublin that is in disarray and in critical need of an honest analysis. I propose such analysis should take place. The Minister referred to various consultations and analyses being undertaken. There should be a clear analysis followed by a five-year action plan. It is time the Government faced up to its responsibilities and decided on a long term strategy rather than simply making announcements.
Can the Minister say with any conviction that he and his Department have planned in a coherent way for the next three to five years to provide adequate staff for accident and emergency services? Are there adequate numbers coming through the nursing education system for casualty, theatre and intensive care services? Unfortunately, the answer is in the negative. What needs to be appreciated is that an experienced  casualty nurse is a valuable investment. The shortage of experienced staff has led to a greater dependence on temporary personnel. That shift from permanent to temporary staff is a worrying trend and reflects a fundamental lack of a long term strategic plan.
There is considerable scope for improvement in the management of our hospitals. For example, I question why it takes a minimum of four doctors to see a patient before he or she is admitted. The patient has to be seen by a junior doctor, a registrar, a consultant and so on. Why is it not possible for a registrar or consultant to be on duty at all times so that either one could make a decision on admittance? There is also room for substantial change in consultants' practices in hospitals. It is only right and proper that a ward round be done every morning and evening. This would surely be in the interest of an efficient service and, most importantly, it would be in the patients' interest.
The proposals put forward by the Irish Nurses' Organisation for the provision of community nursing units is relevant to this debate. I am pleased the Minister referred to that item. It would involve taking elderly patients who are recovering from illness away from an acute hospital setting to a community-based environment where they would be helped in a nursing unit to regain their independence and return home. The Minister should seriously consider establishing a nursing unit pilot scheme. I am convinced it would be very much in the patients' interest, providing a personalised health care and support system that would prove to be cost effective. Elderly patients recovering from an illness are not always appropriately placed. Instead of being in an acute ward they would be cared for in a homelike atmosphere where they would undergo intensive nursing and rehabilitation treatment.
This debate is not about pay, it is about the organisation and administration of our hospitals, it is about providing a caring service for hospital  patients and their families and the treatment of our hospitals staff who are at the core of the service and who are the backbone of our health care system. Much has been said, and quite rightly, about the tremendous reputation, professionalism and high standards of care historically provided by Irish nurses but when one reads recent reports and observes recent happenings, one can readily appreciate what they had to endure. They have protested as a result of genuine frustration and anger at the lack of commitment to find real, lasting solutions.
Shortage of beds has meant that the casualty unit in the Mater Hospital was used as a holding area for patients, they were unable to sleep and they were left in chairs or on trolleys for the night. That is not an exaggeration or engaging in dramatics. How can we claim we are a caring nation when we allow this to happen? The answer is not for the Minister to say that our Government did not resolve it because it is clear, even from the Minister's remarks, that the former Government made some effort to resolve it. I remind the Minister that he is now in possession and it is up to him to deal with the issue. He should stop this nonsense of blaming the preceding Administration. In the same hospital an elderly man had to lie on a coat on the floor and an elderly woman was put lying on a bench; in some cases, patients did not have proper washing or toilet facilities and proper meals were not served.
The underlying problem is a shortage of beds and lack of co-ordination between the various hospitals. I am aware that particular problems have arisen occasioned by the number of elderly people in need of care over recent months — I acknowledge that — but surely there should have been some contingency plans drawn up for such circumstances bearing in mind that there are such a high number of elderly people. When things did go wrong, that problem should have been addressed. It is not good enough to suggest, as did the  Minister this evening, that this has been happening right across Europe, that this problem is not peculiar to this country.
It is time for the Minister to acknowledge that the system within which he and his Department work is in need of his urgent attention, that the overall hospital care system badly needs his urgent attention. What is not required is more rhetoric or announcements but rather concrete action. It is simply not good enough to come in here and, in the first quarter of his speech, deride our spokesperson on health, Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn, and the very valuable work done in the past. The Minister must face up to his responsibilities. Crises arise from time to time and warrant action rather than the type of Ministerial response given this evening.
Mr. Callely: The Minister has taken a duster and wiped the motion tabled by our spokesperson, Deputy Geoghegan-Quinn and others off the agenda by changing every word. It is regrettable that he does not recognise or accept some of the sentiment expressed in that motion.
In tabling his amendment the Minister took the opportunity of clapping his Government on the back, claiming that patients and their families have not suffered any hardship by being unable to obtain appointments, having appointments cancelled or having to wait considerable periods before being seen by medical staff. The Minister does not recognise there is overcrowding in hospitals or that there is any erosion of morale among their staff. That is regrettable.
While I have a certain admiration for the Minister for Health, in as much as he has a record of addressing issues and getting things done, he appears to be shying away from this issue. All he need do is recognise that a problem obtains rather than shy away from it or wipe it off the board. He should then adopt a stepped care approach — we do not expect him to resolve the problem over night — in addressing the issues before him.
 The Minister referred to improvements in the acute hospitals services and to the accident and emergency services, referring to the co-ordinating role of the Eastern Health Board. Would he please come clean on this issue? What does he mean when he talks about a co-ordinating role? Does he hear the knocks on his door or the cries for help on the part of the co-ordination body when they say there are insufficient beds? If he does, what is his response? He comes into this House — this is not the first time this issue has been raised in the House in recent weeks and refers to co-ordination and to the voluntary sector, but we must remember that the buck stops somewhere. Can somebody inform me where the buck stops on this issue?
The Minister referred to the largest ever allocation to the Eastern Health Board to free up some beds that may be blocked through occupancy by elderly patients and mentioned the figure of £850,000. What will that amount of money do for the population of Dublin, for the six hospitals involved? For example, will it free up all the blocked beds and if so, for how long — weeks, days, months? I hope the Minister recognises that it will free up approximately 42 beds only which, when divided between the six acute hospitals and their catchment areas, will mean very little, if anything, and will do nothing to address the overall problem. Indeed, this is not the first time this type of fire brigade response has been given to the freeing-up of beds; last year and the preceding one there was a similar allocation. There are insufficient long-stay accommodation beds within the Eastern Health Board area accompanied by insufficient step-down facilities.
I wish to revert to the matter of the Eastern Health Board to which the Minister likes to refer whenever it suits him. Ten years ago the Eastern Health Board identified the need for such step-down facilities, yet ten years of dust has settled on the board's submissions to the Department. Would the Minister respond to that charge alone — that for ten years the statutory authorities  sought funds, capital and running expenses, to develop appropriate step-down facilities? The Minister talks about the first unit coming on-stream very shortly, a 50 bed unit. Let him come clean on that issue. That was a land swop under which a private developer is building a 50-bed unit for the Eastern Health Board without one penny being donated by the Department of Health.
Most people would acknowledge that, with regard to the Eastern Health Board, I have a knowledge of the matters about which I speak, and that what I am saying is factual and truthful. The Minister is not recognising any of these very serious issues. We are talking about people who cannot avail of the hospital services they need. That is a very serious issue. Is there somebody sufficiently honest to stand up in this House and acknowledge that what I say is correct and warrants addressing? I do not expect a magic wand to be waved, I do not expect answers tomorrow or the appropriate plan to be implemented within a matter of weeks or months but, when I hear the Minister read nonsense by way of standard, bureaucratic replies, in cutely worded sentences, choosing areas very easy to identify, one must ask how many people seek plastic surgery, for example, the first issue referred to this evening?
Mr. O'Dea: Thank you for allowing me to raise this important matter on the Adjournment. Official statistics suggest that Ireland is one of the most unhealthy nations in the European Union. The report “Health Status of the Irish People, 1994” reveals that Ireland has the highest death rate in the European Union. This is directly attributable to mortality associated with Ireland's high incidence of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. Happily trends are  downwards in so far as cardiovascular diseases are concerned but unfortunately the reverse is the case in regard to cancer.
Cancer is now Ireland's second biggest killer. The Minister's first promise on taking office some months ago was to prioritise the development of services to combat cancer. Experts now suggest that as many as 100 Irish women needlessly die each year from breast cancer as a result of a lack of funding and organisation in the Department of Health. The shortage of facilities outside Dublin means that people living in the west and the north west are much more likely to undergo a breast removal than those living in Dublin. Our oncology service has been described by experts as a shambles. The application of chemotherapy has increased dramatically in the past five years but there has been no commensurate increase in the funding of cancer services to cope with this. The Department is on record as saying that the number of cancer patients treated in St. Vincent's and St. James's hospitals this year will not be less than the number treated in 1994. This, of course, blithely ignores the fundamental fact that the numbers who need to be referred to those hospitals are growing inexorably.
There are only four medical oncologists in Ireland, all of whom are based in Dublin. On their own admissions, these oncologists are now so snowed under with patients that they cannot take outside referrals. An input from a medical oncologist is usually vitally necessary to ensure that all that can be done is done to save the life of a cancer patient. Many patients outside Dublin are often simply shunted through the system because there is no or insufficient cancer expertise available locally. It has been brought to my attention that approximately 15 people born in Ireland now occupy senior positions in medical oncology in the United States and the United Kingdom. Referring to these in an interview in the Sunday Tribune on 12  March last Dr. John Crown, the consultant medical oncologist at St. Vincent's Hospital said:
Most of them are dying to come home but my job, which I got last year, was the first new job created in oncology here in this country in the last ten years.
In the same edition of the Sunday Tribune Dr. Peter Daly, the head of cancer treatment at St. James's Hospital in Dublin said:
We cannot cope with our patients. We are under so much pressure with the workload that we are running to keep pace. We are close to being burned out.
He went on to state: “We are so strapped it is impossible to provide even an absolutely basic cancer service”. Those statements by the most senior people working at the coalface and the facts on which they are based represent a damning indictment of a most important and vital aspect of the health services. The Minister has only been in office for a few months but he and other Ministers should realise that they are the ones who are responsible. Does the Minister recognise that there is a problem? Does he recognise that the problem is of the magnitude stated by the leading experts in the field? What action does he propose to take to resolve the problem and what is the timescale for such action?
Minister of State at the Department of Health (Mr. Currie): I thank the Deputy for giving me the opportunity to outline the developments in the treatment of cancer which will be implemented in the coming months. As the Deputy said, the development of services to combat cancer was made a priority, and my Department is working on a comprehensive cancer strategy due for completion by the middle of the year. The initiative on cancer was prompted by the perceived need to ensure the provision of an equitable and high quality cancer service throughout  the country. The objective is to take all measures possible to reduce the incidence of cancer and to ensure that those who develop it receive the most effective care and treatment.
The initiative will concentrate on four main areas. These are prevention, including screening, treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care. Specific issues being addressed include: the further development of health promotion activities aimed at reducing the incidence of smoking and diet related cancers in particular; the prevention of cancers of the breast and cervix through screening and early detection — the Eccles Breast Screening Programme and its proposed extension on a phased basis will have a particular contribution to make in this respect; the integration of the various medical professionals involved in the cancer service to ensure the development of a multi-professional approach into the care, management and treatment of persons suffering from the disease; the adequacy of existing general practitioner, diagnostic and hospital services and their distribution; and the provision of palliative care services, that is services for terminally ill patients, including cancer patients.
I should explain that a number of specialist consultants based in the major teaching hospitals are involved in the treatment of cancer, including medical oncologists and radiotherapists. Consultant physicians and surgeons in the regional and general hospitals also take responsibility for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer where appropriate.
The Irish Society of Medical Oncology was founded during 1994 and it submitted a report to the Department in November 1994 setting out recommendations on the future development of cancer services in Ireland. One of the recommendations in that report is the need for additional consultant medical and radiation oncologists. I was pleased to note that earlier this year a joint working group comprising consultant medical and consultant radiation oncologists was established to draw up recommendations on the development  of cancer services and it was arranged for senior officials of my Department to meet the Irish Society of Medical Oncologists to discuss their document in March 1995. This type of inter-specialty co-operation is an example of the integrated way in which I would like to see our cancer services organised. I can assure the House that the recommendations of the joint working group will be fully considered in finalising our cancer strategy.
I wish to draw the attention of the House to a package of major developments in the provision of cancer treatment in the current year and, in particular, to the ongoing work at St. Luke's and St. Anne's Hospital Dublin. In November 1993 the board of St. Luke's and St. Anne's Hospital decided to consolidate cancer services on the St. Luke's Hospital site in Rathgar. A joint project team, comprising representatives of the hospital and officers of the Department of Health, was accordingly appointed to plan for and oversee the transfer of cancer services at present provided on the St. Anne's Hospital site to the St. Luke's Hospital campus. More particularly the project team was charged with the task of developing the St. Luke's site into a national centre of excellence in the treatment of cancer. The project team worked quickly and completed a comprehensive development plan for St. Luke's which is now being put in place. The development of the Rathgar site involves a complete upgrading of accommodation throughout the hospital at a cost in excess of £6 million and the provision of new state of the art treatment equipment. The total additional investment in the hospital which currently exceeds £9 million will serve to greatly enhance the level of service for cancer patients.
As well as this large capital development in the area of radiotherapy, a total of £520,000 is being provided in the current year for cancer service developments at the Mater Hospital and in the Midland, Mid-Western, North-Western and South-Eastern Health Boards.
 I am very much aware that many cancer sufferers receive care in the community which is provided mainly by general practitioners and public health nurses. In recent years, there has been a growing emphasis on the provision of palliative care on a community-domestic basis, by general practitioners, public health nurses, the hospice movement and by nurses jointly funded by the Irish Cancer Society and the statutory agencies.
I am pleased to say that in addition to the moneys already referred to, funding is being provided in 1995 towards the development of these palliative care services. Specifically, £300,000 is being provided in 1995 to commission a new in-patient palliative care unit at St. Francis Hospice in Raheny. This new 19 bed facility will provide expert care with a multi-professional team for control of symptoms of terminal disease where such control cannot be achieved at home or in the day unit. The facility will also provide respite care for families or for patients living alone or with little family support.
A total of £115,000 is also being provided towards the development of palliative care services at Our Lady's Hospice, Harold's Cross, and a further £100,000 for Milford Hospice in Limerick. These investments will serve to enhance the in-patient and day care services for terminally ill patients.
I am satisfied that the package of developments which I outlined to the House this evening will serve to improve the level of treatment services provided for cancer patients throughout the country. Further consideration will be given to the need for additional investment in the cancer treatment services when the recommendations of the review group on a national cancer strategy are received.
Miss Quill: I thank the Chair, for  selecting this topic and the Minister for coming into the House to reply.
This matter arises from a recent District Court decision in which a District Court judge, speaking about emergency service drivers, stated, “They have no legal right to travel at excessive speed, overtake or crash traffic lights”. He went on to state, “All of them, like any other driver, are bound by the rules of the road, they have no right to ignore traffic lights”. Anyone who has had occasion to call out an ambulance in the event of a person having a heart attack or an accident at home, on the road or at work will be horrified by this decision because in all such cases time is of the essence and minutes, even seconds lost can sometimes lead to loss of life.
Hospitals and health boards are constantly thinking of ways and means to shorten the response time for their ambulances in expensive efforts to save lives. Any citizen who has had occasion to call a fire brigade in an emergency will be enraged at the prospect of a fire brigade vehicle having to take its place in a traffic jam while fire devours either person, property or both. The sorry spectacle of a Garda car compelled to observe the 30 mile per hour speed limit while giving chase to a suspect or criminal careering along the road at say, 60, 70 or 80 miles per hour reduces the law to ridicule.
This court decision makes a nonsense of common sense. All right minded citizens would confer on such drivers in such circumstances the moral right to use their discretion in terms of the traffic code, consistent of course with the safety of all other road users. I do not know of any citizen who would wish the driver of an ambulance, fire brigade vehicle or Garda car to be put in a position in which he or she had to face prosecution because of a conscientious effort to save the lives of others. I understood that provision for such circumstances was put in place when amending the section of the Road Traffic Act dealing with exemptions for emergency vehicles. Doubt has now  been cast on that matter and it is of the utmost importance that it is clarified.
If the right exists, the Minister should confirm that and communicate it clearly to all concerned. If, on the other hand, the Minister's advice is that such a right does not exist, I appeal to him to introduce without delay an appropriate amendment to the Road Traffic Act to put that vital right in place.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Howlin): I thank Deputy Quill for raising this important issue and giving me the opportunity to clarify the relevant traffic regulations and to clear up possible misunderstandings about the position of emergency vehicles and the traffic code.
I should stress that I have no specific information about the particular court case to which the Deputy refers. Neither have I specific details of the reported comments of the District Court judge regarding the position of emergency vehicles where traffic laws are concerned. Like most people, I have only read reports of these matters in the newspapers over the past week. In any event, it would not be appropriate for me to comment on any particular court case or on comments attributed to a District Court judge. However, I am glad to take this opportunity to clarify the traffic laws in relation to the use of emergency vehicles.
There is a range of exemptions from traffic rules and regulations for drivers of emergency vehicles, that is, drivers of fire brigade vehicles, ambulances and Garda Síochána vehicles. Drivers of these vehicles are exempt from general and ordinary speed limits, special speed limits, and the built-up area speed limit. These exemptions are provided for in the regulations which prescribe the respective speed limits.
Apart from speed limits, there are a variety of exemptions for emergency vehicles from ‘road traffic rules and regulations. The Road Traffic General Bye-Laws (Amendment) Regulations, 1993 — S.I. No. 63 of 1993 — introduced a number of specific exemptions  from prohibitions and restrictions imposed in traffic by-laws. These exemptions are wide-ranging and give drivers of emergency vehicles the flexibility they need, in so far as traffic rules are concerned, to do their jobs as efficiently and effectively as possible.
The exemptions from traffic rules are, of course, subject to the qualification that the use of the vehicle will not endanger the safety of road users. The House will appreciate that no driver could be allowed drive dangerously or without consideration for other road users. All road users have a duty of care and this duty of care on drivers of emergency vehicles is an essential element of the exemptions. I should add, however, that I fully appreciate the responsibility and care taken by the drivers of all classes of emergency vehicles for the safety of other road users, and their professional approach to their respective jobs.
I am satisfied that the various exemptions are operating satisfactorily. They give the emergency services the flexibility they need while at the same time retaining a necessary level of protection for other road users.
Taking the Deputy's advice and to eliminate any confusion that may have arisen, following the recent media reports of the court case to which Deputy Quill referred, I have made arrangements to remind the various emergency services of the provisions in the statutory instruments. I hope this will clear up any misunderstandings which may exist regarding the legal position of emergency vehicles vis-à-vis speed limits and the traffic code in general.
Mr. O'Malley: With your permission, Sir, I propose to give one minute of my time to Deputy O'Rourke.
An Ceann Comhairle: I am sure that is satisfactory and agreed.
Mr. O'Malley: The future of Shannon Aerospace has been giving rise to serious concern for some time. It has lost large sums of money, probably in excess of £20 million, since its establishment. This is due to circumstances beyond its control which could not be foreseen at its establishment. I am familiar with the various considerations taken into account from the time that it was first mooted in 1989 by GPA until it went into production in 1992. Since then, it has been adversely affected by a number of factors. There has been a downturn in world wide aviation; aircraft production has dropped; there has been an unforeseen increase in heavy maintenance facilities in different parts of the world; Lufthansa has had to take over the former East German airline with its maintenance facilities in Berlin; prices for this type of work have dropped dramatically, at times almost halved from what they were three or four years ago and GPA's share flotation failed, with serious consequences for what was once the owner of an enormous fleet of aircraft.
There are slightly in excess of 700 people employed at Shannon Aerospace. Productivity and work practices in the factory could not have been better so it is clear that the present difficulties are entirely outside the control of management or workers. The largest and most expensive training operation ever mounted in this country was used to train workers who have now reached a high level of skill and productivity. There is very substantial flexibility with little or no overtime and account is taken by the workers of the somewhat seasonal nature of the work, which is heaviest in winter.
The job target is 1,075 as agreed on the original payment of the grants. It now looks unlikely that that figure will ever be reached. Since I put down this question for debate the Government made an announcement of an aid package of £12 million, with an investment by GPA of a further £12 million but I am very disturbed to hear that GPA is now quitting the company. I assume  that Lufthansa and Swissair have given commitments to Shannon Aerospace to give them a certain level of work at minimum prices but what is the value of this commitment for the future because Lufthansa and Swissair, in contracting with Shannon Aerospace, are merely contracting with themselves as they are now the only shareholders? Any time they want to dishonour any such arrangement they are free to do so and are unlikely to sue themselves or get injunctions against themselves so that any arrangement of that kind seems to be legally unenforceable and can be brought to a conclusion at any time, without notice, by the remaining shareholders in Shannon Aerospace. GPA is now controlled by General Electric which is not a party to any agreement or arrangement with Shannon Aerospace which is legally enforceable.
I am very disturbed by the fact that the two remaining shareholders refused to put any money into this package. The two contributors are the Irish taxpayer and GPA and the latter is simply making a payment to enable itself to disengage and to play no further part in the company. The refusal of the continuing shareholders to contribute, and the anxiety of the retiring shareholder to exit, hardly betokens great confidence in the future of the company.
The Minister will have to spell out precisely the details of this package. Have the shareholders been released from their obligation to provide 1,075 jobs? Will there be a clawback of the grants if they fail to do so? Will this plan eliminate losses from now on and, if not, who will pick up the losses? Have the shaereholders agreed to do so or will the Irish taxpayer have to do so again in a few years' time? At what price are the two remaining shareholders contracting to give work? What is the quantity of the additional work and when does it commence? Are the jobs of the 700 existing employees guaranteed? Why did the Minister agree to allow Lufthansa and Swissair to make no financial contribution in view of the fact that they are the sole owners of the  plant? What is the value of an unenforceable commitment to give certain quantities of work? What will happen if the trade unions in Germany object to the transfer of work from there to Shannon? Since GPA's position has declined substantially during the past two years, and the size of its fleet has greatly reduced and is now under the ultimate control of General Electric, what efforts have been made to get work from non-shareholder airlines?
The answers to all these questions are necessary to make any realistic assessment of the future of Shannon Aerospace. Until we get all the necessary information we can have no confidence that the future of the plant is safeguarded. This is an appalling strain for the 700 people concerned and their families, and indeed for the economy of the whole Shannon-Limerick region which has to live with this further uncertainty on top of the uncertainty caused by the substantial over-flying of Shannon.
When is it proposed to pay the £12 million through Shannon Development? I believe the position to be that Shannon Development's statutory limits, as set out in the relevant Acts for payments, have been reached. Is it proposed to introduce legislation and, if so, when? The brief announcement made at 6 o'clock this evening on television is inadequate to allay concern and the Minister should now avail of the opportunity I am giving him here to give full details of the package.
Mrs. O'Rourke: I thank Deputy O'Malley for sharing his time with me. I wish to put some brief points to the Minister on this matter. Will the Minister state whether the job performance clause has been retained or dropped with regard to the money being given by the Government to Shannon Development for Shannon Aerospace? Will the Minister make public the terms of the arrangement worked out between the Government, SFADCo, Lufthansa and Swissair? Those terms should be made  public because we are talking about an investment of £12 million in addition to £23 million, making a total investment of £35 million in a four year period. The company, however, is already 375 jobs short of the target.
I visited this company on two occasions and, as Deputy O'Malley said, it is an excellent company. It is well run, well maintained and there is great productivity. Members deserve a full and detailed explanation of the arrangements which the Government has entered into for the payment of tax-payers' money and the workers deserve a clear and open answer from the Minister dealing with the long term view of their jobs. A five year plan does not mean anything if it is based on contracts which can be withdrawn at any time by the two aviation firms in question.
When the question was put down for answer here tonight — which was known — it was shabby treatment for the Minister to give a sketchy answer on television prior to coming into the House and giving the details. I want a confirmation of the retention of the job performance clause and an explanation of the arrangements worked out in this regard. The Minister will say that it is not up to him to do that but I believe it is because we are talking about tax-payers' money. Everyone in this House wants to see the company on a firm footing, not built on sand.
Minister for Enterprise and Employment (Mr. R. Bruton): I thank Deputies O'Malley and O'Rourke for raising this matter. I note what Deputy O'Rourke said about first coming into the House to give answers but, unfortunately, these decisions tend to get out very quickly and one has to respond to public concern about the issue as and when it arises. I will try to answer as much as I can of the Deputies' questions in the time available.
Deputies know the background to this matter. Shannon Aerospace is the aircraft maintenance facility established jointly by Lufthansa, Swissair and GPA.  It commenced trading in 1992. Considerable State funding of £23 million was made available to it and the firm employs 700 people wih high skills in a state of the art plant at Shannon.
As Deputy O'Malley said, events outside the company's control have seriously affected its performance resulting in substantial financial losses to date. With the aerospace industry recession, brought on by the Gulf War, scarcity of supply rapidly turned around to significant over capacity, resulting in very depressed market prices for maintenance work and the industry continues to be in deep recession. Developments arising from the unification of East and West Germany adversely affected Lufthansa's workload for the Shannon plant and problems experienced by GPA and its impact on aircraft maintenance work for Shannon was another factor.
On 30 March 1995 I visited Zurich to meet the shareholders and at that meeting a framework within which detailed negotiations could take place on a face to face basis between Shannon Aerospace and Shannon Development was achieved. The objective of the whole process I was instrumental in initiating at that time was to secure a commercially viable future for the state of the art Shannon Aerospace plant and its highly skilled employees. The negotiations between Shannon Development and Shannon Aerospace were extremely tough and difficult. The future of Shannon Aerospace was in serious jeopardy. It was also on the brink several times during the talks in recent weeks and I am very pleased that Shannon Development has been able successfully to negotiate a viability package with Shannon Aerospace to secure the company's future and its jobs. The board of Shannon Development recommended the viability package to me and I brought that proposal to Cabinet with a strong recommendation for acceptance. I am pleased that  the restructuring plan has found the full support of Government.
The details of the restructuring package are complex. In essence it involves £12 million grant aid from Shannon Development, £6 million to be paid this year, £6 million in 1996 and £12 million from GPA. The package also includes contracts on workloads, including price, from Lufthansa and Swissair, together with increased access to technical, marketing and other resources from them. As part of the support package GPA will no longer hold equity in the company. In addition to GPA's substantial cash injection of £12 million it has given a commitment for significant volumes of aircraft maintenance work. Moreover, the restructuring plan proposes to grow the company from its current employment levels of 691 to employing 855 by the end of the decade.
The losses in the company during restructuring will not be picked up by the taxpayer but by the shareholders. As I said, payments will be over two years. A jobs clause has been retained, not on the basis of 1,075 jobs, which as Deputy O'Malley pointed out is no longer realistic, but on the present target of 855. Clearly GPA is departing to concentrate on its core business in its own restructuring. It will remain on the board and as I said has retained commitments to provide maintenance work to the company.
In forming this support package, cognisance was taken of the serious economic consequences which would arise from the closure of the Shannon facility in terms of job losses, local business and the promotion of Shannon as the location for aviation related and other industries at its Shannon World Aviation Park. The company has had a major impact on recent industrial development in the mid-west region. This support should ensure that the company will benefit from the world and European rationalisation currently underway in the aircraft maintenance sector. The sizeable advantage of the company vis-à-vis its competitors in cost efficiencies, from its flexible operating  procedures and its state of the art technology and its now strengthened financial and other back up support, including workload and marketing by the shareholders, will undoubtedly strengthen its competitive position. I wish to acknowledge the significant and critical role played by the management and workers in Shannon Aerospace in providing the competitive advantages that a company like this needs in the business sector. I also pay tribute to SIPTU officials whom I met during recent weeks for the responsible and measured attitude they took on behalf of the workforce during a period of great uncertainty. I am pleased that this period of difficulty is now over.
I hope I have answered most of the Deputies' questions. Clearly it is not always possible when a company is facing serious difficulties to find a viable way out of those difficulties. On previous occasions I have had to come into this House and describe situations where it was not possible for the State to provide a viable way out for business but on this occasion I believe these jobs have a viable future in terms of this agreement in what I freely admit is a difficult period for the industry. This will not last forever. The company has been strengthened, it has two very good base line providers of business, highly efficient work practices, a very flexible workforce and good cost advantages which I believe are the ingredients for a successful future.
Mr. Ellis: I thank you for allowing me to raise this matter on the Adjournment and I thank the Minister of State for coming in to reply to me.
In recent months farmers have been experiencing major delays with regards to approval for work to be carried out under the control of farm pollution and the dairy hygiene schemes. In many cases they have been told that they may have to wait up to 12 months before  they receive approvals. Anyone who read the recent article in the Irish Farmers' Journal on the ratio of approvals to the number of applications will be aware of the tremendous backlog. The problem that this is causing to farmers is very evident. Farm building work is best carried out during the summer months but nobody can commence work without approval. It is urgent that the Minister and the Department make arrangements as quickly as possible for granting approval.
The problems being experienced by staff in the farm development service are not in the best interests of either the applicant or the staff themselves. The staff is under severe pressure from people seeking approval and in many cases they have to listen to insults when telling people they will have to wait six months or longer for inspection and approval.
The Minister might take the opportunity to redeploy the 75 extra staff from the intervention section, which no longer has a major role to play, to this work. The delay in granting approval is also causing delays in the application for REPS. Some months ago on Question Time I requested the Minister of State to promote the REPS scheme and it has made ground in recent times but the delay in approvals for building work which is an integral part of the REPS scheme will cause it to stagnate.
There may be a problem in the Department in regard to the financial allocation for this scheme as the take up appears to exceed the amount of money that has been made available in this year's budget for farm building grants. In the recent charter of farmers' rights issued by the Minister in conjunction with the Taoiseach it is stated that payments will be made within two months of completion and certification and that two months will be the maximum period people will have to wait for approval. How will the Minister or Minister of State be able to square the circle in regard to the money required or will final inspections be delayed as a mechanism to delay payments? I hope the  Minister of State will tell me how long people will have to wait and that those who have been told they will have to wait up to 12 months will have their fears allayed, even if it means that this work will have to be contracted out, just as the REPS scheme, to companies that are sufficiently skilled to carry out the necessary preparatory work.
Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. Deenihan): I thank Deputy Ellis for raising this matter. Since the launch last September, of the control of farm pollution (CFP) and dairy hygiene schemes under the Operational Programme for Agriculture, Rural Development and Forestry 1994-99, there has been a huge demand for grant aid under the CFP. This demand is driven by the fact that a CFP scheme has not been in operation since April 1992, the need for some REPS participants to have pollution work done under the CFP, the fear that funds will run out and pressures from local authorities and fisheries boards to address pollution problems. This exceptional demand has had a knock on effect in processing approvals under the other on-farm investment schemes.
To date over 17,000 applications have been received under the CFP scheme and nearly 3,000 under the dairy hygiene scheme. A total of 4,200 and 750 approvals have issued respectively. There have been problems in some counties due to staffing shortages. I am currently addressing these problem areas.
At the same time, the processing of approvals must be considered in the light of available funding. The funding allocation for the on-farm investment measures that is CFP, dairy hygiene,  farm improvement programme and animal welfare schemes under the operational programme is £195 million up to 1999. This funding is allocated on a yearly basis. While in the light of funding availability it was recently decided to limit the new farm improvement programme (FIP) to investments in horticulture, it is important to note that existing commitments to farmers under the FIP will be fully met. This means that on the basis of approvals in recent years, some 3,000 FIP applicants can carry out pollution control works in 1995.
The large demand under the CFP necessitates an urgent review of the operation of the scheme in the light of funding availability, as already mentioned, and I will make an announcement on this issue shortly.
It is important to note that over the past five years alone some £170 million has been paid to over 30,000 farmers for pollution control works on their farms under the old CFP and FIP schemes. This represents an investment by farmers of over £400 million.
Some concern has been expressed at the effect the delay in processing CFP approvals is having on the rural environmental protection scheme. As already stated, over 30,000 farmers have been grant aided for pollution control works. In addition considerable numbers have already been farming in accordance with REPS standards for many years. These numbers will increase as new investment is carried out under the new CFP and old FIP schemes. Consequently, participation in REPS is not expected to be seriously hindered by any delays in processing CFP applications.
Mr. Ellis: Where do the 14,000 other applicants go?
The Dáil adjourned at 9.15 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday, 26 April 1995.
17. Dr. Woods asked the Minister for Equality and Law Reform the role which his Department has in ensuring that women have an equal opportunity to progress to decision-making levels in employment; and the plans, if any, he has to increase the proportion of women in management. [7636/95]
Minister for Equality and Law Reform (Mr. Taylor): I am currently updating the employment equality legislation and expect to being a Bill before the Oireachtas later this year. Since my appointment as Minister for Equality and Law Reform, a priority of my Department has been the promotion of equality of opportunity in the work place, including an improvement in the representation of women at decision making levels in employment. Indeed, one of the objective measures of progress in gender equality is the male-female ratio in management positions.
Under the aegis of my Department, the Employment Equality Agency adopts a pro-active role in the encouragement of both employers and trade unions to adopt equality policies, including promotion and recruitment at management level by the provision of guidance advice and published material. An equal opportunities project with a local authority and a large retail chain is currently being run by the agency, with funding assistance from the EU, and has an aim of increasing the number of women managers in each of these sectors. The agency also actively encourages the development of incentives and training courses to promote and encourage the participation of women at management level. Where discrimination in promotion occurs on the grounds of sex or marital status, the agency also assists in the preparation of a complaint under the Employment Equality Act.
In 1993 my Department reported on a survey of equal opportunities in the public sector. This report covered State-sponsored bodies, local authorities and health boards' supplements surveys in the Civil Service. It pointed to major underrepresentation of women in senior management and professional posts. As a result I requested all public sector  employers to introduce equal opportunities policies as part of the commitment to equality under the Programme for Competitiveness and Work. I am sure that such policies have a major contribution to make in increasing women's representation at management throughout the public sector.
The Employment Equality Act, 1977, prohibits discriminatory action in employment on the grounds of gender or marital status, but does provide that special training courses or other incentives may be afforded a person of a particular sex which is seriously under-represented in a particular type of work. Special training courses of this nature are generally available from FÁS to address the problem of the underrepresentation of women in management. As part of its aim to ensure that the full range of training opportunities are available for women, FÁS places particular focus on courses for women of a technical or managerial nature in its specific skills training and training support schemes.
As the Deputy will also be aware, the Government has set the target that each gender should account for at least 40 per cent of direct Government nominees to each state board. Outside bodies nominating persons to state boards have been asked, and in some cases are required by law, to follow the 40 per cent gender policy.
24. Miss Quill asked the Minister for Equality and Law Reform the specific steps, if any, he has taken to develop child care infrastructures in co-operation with local development structures and partnerships; the result of this action; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7555/95]
Minister for Equality and Law Reform (Mr. Taylor): As I indicated in my reply of 7 March 1995 to a previous question, the remit of my Department  with regard to child care stems fundamentally from the function of child care as a support to parents to enable them to participate on an equal footing in employment and other economic, political or social spheres. These measures complement the role of the Department of Health as regards protection and health of children and the Department of Education as regards their educational development and the role of the Department of Enterprise and Employment in regard to child care for FÁS trainees.
An allocation was included in my Department's Estimate for 1994 to assist the initiation of projects for the establishment, on a pilot basis, of child care measures, utilising the skills of trained local people, to enable local residents to undertake education, training, re-training and employment opportunities which they would otherwise be unable to do, in the absence of a childcare facility.
Eligibility for consideration for grant assistance is confined to disadvantaged areas, as designated in the Local Development Programme, and involves partnerships between community groups and local employers.
The pilot child care initiative is being administered, on behalf of my Department, by Area Development Management — ADM — Limited, which is an independent company designated by the Government and the European Commission to support integrated local economic and social development in cooperation with relevant area partnership companies established by the Government in designated disadvantaged areas.
I understand that by the end of this month a sum of £250,000 approximately, will have been paid in grants towards the cost of approved projects. Additional instalments will be paid in line with progress achieved in the projects. There is a provision of £1 million in my Department's Estimate for 1995.
It is still too early to assess the impact of this initiative. However, I intend to make arrangements later this year, to  have the results of the project evaluated.
28. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Equality and Law Reform the plans, if any, he has to provide for race relations legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5298/95]
35. Mr. E. Byrne asked the Minister for Equality and Law Reform whether his attention has been drawn to concerns at the lack of physical access to third level education premises for disabled students; the proposals, if any, he has to address the matter in the forthcoming equal status legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7614/95]
Minister for Equality and Law Reform (Mr. Taylor): I propose to take Questions Nos. 28 and 35 together.
If the question is intended to refer to the criminal law aspects of race relations I should like to point out that the law already provides, by way of the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act, 1989, that words, written material or behaviour which are intended or are likely to stir up hatred against any group of persons on account of their race, colour, nationality, religion, ethnic or national origins, membership of the travelling community or sexual orientation, constitutes an offence punishable by fine or imprisonment or both.
Legislation is being prepared which will outlaw discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, nationality, national or ethnic origin, membership of the travelling community, gender, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age and disability. There will be two Bills — the Employment Equality Bill and the Equal Status Bill, which will cover non-employment areas. The Equal Status Bill will include the areas of education, disposal of property and accommodation and provision of goods and services. Services will be defined broadly to include access to public places, banking and insurance services, entertainment, facilities for  refreshment and transport. Both Bills are being drafted at present and I am committed to bringing them forward as soon as possible.
The Equal Status Bill will, subject to certain exceptions, address the problems of persons with a disability in the area of education. It will make it unlawful for educational establishments to discriminate on the specified grounds, including disability, by refusing a person admission to the establishment, by applying different conditions of admission, by denying or limiting access to any benefit provided by it or by imposing any detriment.
The Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities has been given the task, inter alia, of ensuring greater participation by people with disabilities in all aspects of life, including education, and to make recommendations setting out necessary changes in legislation, policies, practices and structures to help achieve that objective. The commission has established an Education Working Group for the specific purpose of bringing forward proposals regarding the needs of people with disabilities in the area of education.
On receipt of the commission's report, which is expected at the end of the year, I will examine its recommendations with a view to considering what additional measures, beyond those proposed in the equal status legislation, may be required by me or my colleagues in Government to improve the position of people with disabilities in the area of education.
The Deputy may wish to put down a question to the Minister for Education about her Department's role in this area.
31. Ms Keogh asked the Minister for Equality and Law Reform the recommendations of the Second Commission on the Status of Women which have yet to be acted upon; when it is envisaged that the outstanding recommendations will be implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7559/95]
Minister for Equality and Law Reform (Mr. Taylor): I propose to circulate in the Official Report the information sought in so far as it relates to my area of responsibility. The Deputy should table questions to the appropriate Ministers in relation to the other recommendations.
Main Recommendations of the Commission of Status of Women which have yet to be implemented.
Paragraph 1.2.6. Equality amendment to the Constitution and deletion of Article 41.2.2º.
Response: I would refer to replies which I gave to questions on these matters on 28 April 1993 and 1 June, 1993.
Paragraphs 1.5.6, 2.3.1 and 6.3.5. Community property regime.
Response: In view of the immediate legislative priorities which confront my Department, no proposals have been developed on the wider issue of a regime of community property.
Paragraph 1.5.8. That the State funded Mediation Service should be put on a statutory basis.
Response: The pilot scheme of Family Mediation has been established on a permanent basis and a sum of £300,000 has been provided for the service in 1994 which was more than double the 1993 allocation. This increase has allowed for the development and expansion of the service outside Dublin and a new Family Mediation centre is to open shortly in Limerick. A further £300,000 has been provided for the service in 1995 which will allow for the employment of additional mediators and, in order to enable the service to be provided on a wider geographical basis, the employment of private mediators on a contract basis. The question of placing the service on a statutory basis will be reviewed in the light of the further development of the service and the final  report of the Law Reform Commission on the Family Courts.
Paragraph 1.5.10. Attendance of Civil Registrars at all marriages 1.10.2. Registration of births.
Response: These recommendations are being considered as part of the comprehensive review of the legislation on the registration of births, marriages and deaths.
Paragraph 1.6.4. That the question of extending the constitutional definition of the family should be referred to the Law Reform Commission for examination.
Response: A Bill to make better provision for protection of persons in domestic relationships whose safety or welfare requires it, which takes into account the above recommendation will be published shortly.
The Bill will in large measure extend the legal protection of spouses in this area to cohabitants. In this context, no proposals are contemplated with a view to having the definition of “family” in the Constitution amended by way of referendum.
Paragraph 5.5.3 (e). Financing by the State of research into the needs and situations of women with disabilities.
Response: This matter is among those being examined by the Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities, whose report is expected at the end of the year.
33. Mr. Flood asked the Minister for Equality and Law Reform when he will receive the final report of the Task Force on the Travelling Community in view of the fact that the interim report was published in January 1994; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7155/95]
36. Ms O'Donnell asked the Minister for Equality and Law Reform the steps, if any, he plans to take to implement the recommendations of the interim report of the Task Force on the Travelling Community; the status of his promise for a national plan for the housing of the travelling community; whether it will seek to achieve a more equal distribution of halting sites for the travelling community among the local authorities around the country to alleviate the present imbalance in distribution in the south county Dublin area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7523/95]
Minister for Equality and Law Reform (Mr. Taylor): I propose to take Questions Nos. 33 and 36 together.
I am keeping progress in the implementation of the recommendations contained in the Interim Progress Report of the Task Force on the Travelling Community under review. When I received the report on 14 January, 1994, I examined it to see to what extent its recommendations could be implemented immediately pending receipt of the Final Report of the Task Force.
In that connection I consulted with the Minister for Education and also with the former Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, with responsibility for housing, to identify the recommendations on which progress could be made.
On 18 March 1994 the former Minister of State at the Department of the Environment announced that the special grant for travellers purchasing their first house for their own occupation had been increased from £1,500 to £3,000. The review and update of this grant was referred to in recommendation 2.7 of the Interim Progress Report.
In addition, with effect from this year, funding for new group housing schemes for travellers will be provided by the Department of the Environment separately from the general local authority housing allocation. This initiative is in response to recommendation 2.3.1 of the Interim Report.
I understand from the Minister for Education that provision for children with special needs is being considered in the context of the Report of the Special  Education Review Committee, published in 1993, and, in the specific case of traveller children, the Interim Progress Report of the Task Force.
With regard to the specific recommendations concerning education provision for travellers, contained in the Interim Report, I understand that the following developments have taken place:
(i) In April 1994 the Minister for Education published guidelines entitled “The Education of Traveller Children in National Schools — Guidelines”. The publication of these Guidelines was sought in recommendation 3.5 of the Interim Report.
(ii) In the case of recommendation 3.8, which referred to the level of capitation grant paid in respect of travellers, the capitation grant for traveller children attending national schools was increased from £76.20 in 1993 to £130 for those children under 12 years and to £316 for children over 12 years of age, in 1994. These figures will be increased again by approximately 5 per cent with effect from September 1995.
(iii) Recommendation 3.9 referred to the development of a comprehensive school record system in recognition of the nomadic lifestyle of travellers. A school record system is now being operated on a pilot basis by the visiting teacher service.
Furthermore, the Minister for Education has announced with effect from September 1995 the appointment of five additional visiting teachers at primary level and ten additional visiting teachers at post primary level and a reduction of one unit at primary level in the pupil teacher ratio for special schools and classes. The pupil teacher ratio for traveller children is reduced from 15:1 to 14:1.
The recommendations contained in the Interim Report concerning Equal Status in non-employment areas will be taken into account in the preparation of  Equal Status Legislation, being promoted by my Department.
The Government remains committed to the target of providing permanent, serviced caravan site accommodation for all traveller families who require such homes by the year 2000.
The Task Force on the Travelling Community is expected to finish its work within a matter of months. I look forward to receiving its Final Report, and, at that stage, to considering, in consultation with ministerial colleagues, what further action needs to be undertaken in the light of the proposals and recommendations put forward by the Task Force.
34. Mr. Molloy asked the Minister for Equality and Law Reform the discussions, if any, he has had with interested groups in preparation for the International Conference in Beijing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7557/95]
Minister for Equality and Law Reform (Mr. Taylor): I have discussed the Fourth World Conference on Women with representatives of the Irish NGO Forum for Beijing, in which many women's organisation participate, and with the Council for the Status of Women. The main women's organisations are represented on the National Co-ordinating Committee for the Conference which is chaired by my Department.
39. Mr. Ellis asked the Taoiseach if he will consider using the existing claims departments of semi-State companies such as CIE, either on a contract basis or otherwise, in view of the recommendations of the committee of review into the Office of the Attorney General in respect of legal claims against the State. [7271/95]
The Taoiseach: The report of the review group on the office of the Attorney General endorsed the proposal of the office that a feasibility study should be conducted to determine whether the appointment of a claims manager to deal with personal injury claims against the State was justified. This study, which will consider the issue in detail, is due to commence shortly.
40. Mr. Haughey asked the Taoiseach the aims and objectives of the 12 Area Partnerships set up under the Programme for Economic and Social Progress; the services provided; the persons eligible for these services; and if he will make a map available of the new boundaries for the Coolock/ Darndale/Kilbarrck Area Partnership. [7295/95]
The Taoiseach: I take it that the information being sought relates to the partnership companies in the designated disadvantaged areas under Sub-Programme 2 of the Operational Programme for Local Urban and Rural Development. The operational programme was published on 2 February, 1995 and copies of the operational programme have been laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas.
The experience of the Area Based Initiative where the focus was on the long term unemployed was instrumental in the decision to have the targeting of disadvantaged areas as a major component of the programme but partnerships' remit under the operational programme is broader and aimed at disadvantaged, marginalised or socially excluded communities or groups.
The task of the partnership is to prepare a local development plan and then work towards having that plan implemented. The plan must reflect the objectives of the Operational Programme for Local Urban and Rural Development. The specific objectives to be encompassed as appropriate in local development plans are as follows:
—to provide a range of support measures for the creation and development of local enterprise and employment, including measures to maximise the effectiveness of the support available under existing State services and the Community Support Framework 1994-99;
—to improve the potential of the unemployed and especially the long term unemployed and socially-excluded communities to gain employment in the economy generally and specifically in their own areas;
— to provide a structured programme of advice and support in career planning for those who are long term unemployed;
—to create specific training, education, employment and work experience opportunities for the long term unemployed which will promote their integration into the labour market and will concurrently contribute to local and community development;
—to provide additional supports to facilitate participation in and benefit from education including at primary level, for those at risk of early school leaving and under-achievement leading to exclusion;
—to enhance the capacity of local communities, particularly in areas of economic marginalisation and depopulation, to participate fully in local development and to counter social exclusion;
—to improve the physical environment and to upgrade local infrastructure and services.
The objective is that measures initiated by the partnerships would complement mainstream programmes. Activities which are eligible for funding under the operational programme are:
—activities to support enterprise creation and development;
—environmental and infrastructural works;
—transport services to isolated communities;
—activities to support education and training;
—services for the unemployed;
— community development.
Persons eligible for these services are those likely to benefit from any programme introduced to meet the objectives of the programme. In addition assistance can be targeted at specific groups who suffer a higher level of disadvantage than the community generally. These will include high risk youth, the homeless, people with disabilities, and disadvantaged women.
The boundaries of the designated areas in Dublin were announced by the Minister of State for European Affairs and Local Development on 14 March, 1995. The Coolock/Darndale/Kilbarrack area comprises the following DEDs. Harmonstown A, B, Kilmore A, B, C, D, Priorswood A, B, C, D, E, Ayrfield, Grange A, B, C, D, E, Clontarf West A, B, Edenmore, Raheny — Greendale, Raheny — Foxfield, N.E. Grace Park, N. Raheny — St. Assam, Clontarf East, to Howth Road, Clontarf East A, north of All Saints Road, Sutton, Baldoyle in County Dublin — Fingal.
A map has been laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas.
41. Mr. Ring asked the Taoiseach the plans, if any, the Government has to celebrate the centenary of Michael Davitt in 1996. [7547/95]
The Taoiseach: I am discussing with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry how our two Departments could jointly mark the 150th Anniversary of the birth of Michael Davitt next year.
42. Mr. B. O'Keeffe asked the Taoiseach the measures, if any, which have been put in place to assess the area-based response to long term unemployment. [7623/95]
The Taoiseach: I take it that the Deputy is referring to the Operational Programme for Local Urban and Rural Development 1994-1999, Sub-Programme 2 of which relates to Integrated Development of Designated Disadvantaged and Other Areas. This sub-programme builds to a large extent on the experience of the area based response to long-term unemployment.
The Operational Programme for Local Urban and Rural Development covers the period 1994-1999 and is under the direction of a monitoring committee chaired by the Department of the Taoiseach and comprising representatives of Government Departments, the European Commission, Social Partners, the intermediary company ADM Ltd., sectoral, voluntary and community bodies. The committee is required to meet at least twice a year and will receive progress reports in relation to each sub-programme. The duties of the monitoring committee are set out at paragraph 12.7 of the Operational programme, copies of which have been laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas.
The operational programme requires the appointment of an external evaluator to assist the monitoring committee in regard to the ongoing monitoring and evaluation of the programme. There will be a comprehensive midterm review of the programme in 1997 and a complete review at the end of the programme. It is expected that arrangements will be made to appoint the external evaluator in the near future.
The Area Based Response to Long-Term Unemployment was a pilot initiative introduced under the Programme for Economic and Social Progress. The Central Review Committee commissioned the Combat Poverty Agency to oversee the review of the pilot initiative. The CRC received an interim report in March 1993 and the Final  Evaluation Progress Through Partnership in 1994.
43. Mr. Dempsey asked the Taoiseach the arrangements, if any, he has made for the recycling of old telephone directories which have been in use in his Department. [7683/95]
The Taoiseach: All waste paper from my Department, including old telephone directories is collected by a private company, shredded, press packed and disposed of for recycling.
44. Dr. O'Hanlon asked the Taoiseach the cost to the Exchequer and State agencies of public liability insurance premia and claims paid from the Exchequer for the last year for which figures are available; the plans, if any he has to reduce this cost; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7391/95]
The Taoiseach: Generally no insurance is effected against the risk of any loss which, if it arose, would fall wholly and directly on public funds.
With regard to the State agencies under the aegis of this Department £1,425.32 is the most recent figure available paid in public liability insurance premia.
The amount paid in claims for the last year was £3,900 and costs of £1,713.50.
In my Department increased attention is being put on staff training which would inter alia reduce the likelihood or cost of any claims arising.
45. Mr. Hilliard asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the requests, if any, he has made to the United Nations to arrange for the release from prison of a person (details supplied) in order that he can receive medical treatment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7266/95]
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Spring): I can inform the Deputy that Dr. Najibullah has been released from prison and is under the care of the United Nations. He is currently residing in the UN compound.
Ambassador Mestiri, who is the head of the United Nations Special Mission to Afghanistan, and other UN representatives who visit the region, are making every effort to secure permission for Dr. Najibullah to leave Afghanistan. The United Nations has so far been unable to obtain the agreement of the local Afghan groups in order to allow him to leave the country.
It has fortunately proved possible to evacuate his wife and some other members of his family to India, while two members of the family remain with him. I know that the United Nations will continue making every possible effort to ensure that he can leave Afghanistan and receive medical treatment.
46. Mr. Ellis asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs if the Council of Foreign Ministers of the EU discussed calling off the embargo of Cuba; and if so, Ireland's position in relation to this matter; and the way in which each member of the EU voted on the issue. [7274/95]
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Spring): There is no common European Union position on the US trade embargo on Cuba and this is reflected in the voting on the UN resolution on this issue in the General Assembly. The voting position of each member state is given in the attached schedule. This vote took place against the recent background of the opening of bilateral discussions between the US and Cuba. In considering its position on that occasion, the Government was anxious to encourage that dialogue and  allow it time to develop. As we made clear at the time, our abstention in the vote did not mean that we supported the embargo. On the contrary the Government agreed with the call in the Resolution on all States to refrain from promulgating and applying laws of the kind adopted by the United States. It remains our hope that before the next General Assembly, the conditions can be created for the lifting of the embargo and the normalisation of US-Cuba relations.
I must say, however, that recent developments in the US Congress on this issue are not encouraging. Ireland and its partners in the European Union, in a statement issued on 5 April 1995, expressed serious concern to the United States about proposed legislation in the Congress which would strengthen the extra territorial dimension to the trade embargo. In this context, the European Union has made clear its opposition to the adoption of any measure having extra territorial application and which is in breach of World Trade Organisation rules.
Voting schedule of EU member states at 49th United Nations General Assembly on the Draft Resolution on the necessity of ending the Embargo against Cuba.
EU Member States (26 October 1994)
47. Mr. Leonard asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs if a senior official from each of the Border counties and the chief executive officer of the county enterprise boards in the Border counties will receive an invitation to the Washington Trade Conference. [7339/95]
48. Mr. Leonard asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the steps, if any, he has taken to ensure that Government agencies in the six counties south of the Border have a well-documented submission for the Washington Trade Conference in seeking inward investment. [7340/95]
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Spring): I propose to take Questions Nos. 47 and 48 together.
The organisation of the White House Conference for Trade and Investment in Ireland is a matter for the relevant US authorities. It is my understanding, however, that official representatives from each of the Border counties will be invited.
The Conference offers a valuable opportunity for the promotion of inward investment in the six Border counties and the economic regeneration of an area which has suffered severely from the consequences of twenty five years of violence in Northern Ireland.
I look forward to leading the Government's delegation to the Conference and making use of this major occasion to highlight for potential US investors the merits of investment in the Border counties in the new context created by peace.
In preparation for the Conference, Government Departments and State agencies are coordinating closely to ensure the best possible presentation of our case. The six Border counties will be the primary focus in terms of this jurisdiction. The Deputy can be assured that the fullest attention will be paid to the particular needs and potential of these counties in the documentation which is being prepared for circulation at the Conference and in the oral presentations which will be made there.
49. Miss Coughlan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will raise through the Anglo-Irish Secretariat the concerns of the people of Cloghore, Ballyshannon, County Donegal, with regard to the proposed building of a £1.8 million, RUC station at Beleek, County Fermanagh, in view of its location on the Border, the proposal to have the station fortified and the inconvenience that the building of the station will impose on locals due to increased British Army, RUC, Garda and Irish Army presence; his views on whether, in the new era of peace in this country, such a large investment in a police station is necessary in a small rural town; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7370/95]
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Spring): I am aware that communities on both sides of the Border are hopeful that the new situation in Northern Ireland will lead to a significant reduction in the scale of the security presence, and I have consistently urged the British authorities to move in this direction. While I understand that the British authorities have in hand an on-going programme of building works at RUC stations, including Belleek, I have made it clear that this should not deflect from the overall objective of a lower profile for the security forces. I have particularly emphasised that while construction work is in progress the inconvenience to the local community, including the residents of Cloghore, should be kept to an absolute minimum. I will continue to monitor closely developments in this regard.
50. Mr. Sargent asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs if he has urged the Israeli Government to withdraw its troops from the West Bank and Gaza Strip in order to speed up the peace process. [7379/95]
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Spring): The Declaration of Principles between Israel and the PLO which entered into effect on 13 October 1993 provides for a redeployment of Israeli military forces in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The Declaration of Principles also provides that redeployment must take place not later than the eve of Palestinian elections. Ireland, together with its EU partners, called for the full and early implementation of the Declaration of Principles.
The Declaration of Principles set 13 July 1994 as the date by which elections were to take place, but this deadline has not been met. Last month a new target date of 1 July 1995 was set for reaching agreement on the redeployment of Israeli troops and on the holding of elections. If agreement is reached by that date, it is anticipated that the elections will take place at the end of a further 100 day period.
I regard the early convening of Palestinian elections as being of very considerable importance to the success of the Peace Process. Our concerns on this question and on the attendant redeployment of Israeli troops have been made known to the Israeli authorities.
The EU General Affairs Council on 19 April 1994 adopted a Joint Action, on the basis of the Treaty on European Union, in support of the Middle East Peace Process. The Joint Action indicated the EU's willingness to help in preparing and observing the Palestinian elections. The Council on 10 April last confirmed that undertaking and encouraged the continuation of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations on the subject of the elections.
51. Mr. Dempsey asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the arrangements, if any, he has made for recycling of telephone directories which have been in use in his Department. [7684/95]
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Spring): My Department disposes of its old telephone directories as non-confidential waste paper by contract through an outside waste paper disposal company. I am informed that this company recycles the waste paper it collects in this way.
52. Dr. O'Hanlon asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the cost to the Exchequer and State agencies of public liability insurance premia and claims paid from the Exchequer for the last year for which figures are available; the plans, if any he has to reduce this cost; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7391/95]
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Spring): The general position is that the State carries its own insurance in respect of State owned and rented premises; this is the situation applying in the Office of the Tánaiste and the offices of the Department of Foreign Affairs at home and its Missions abroad. The only exception arises where a Mission abroad is obliged, either under local law or the terms of a lease agreement, to insure against specified risks. Accordingly, a small number of our Missions have been obliged to take out insurance policies which, in certain instances, include cover for public liability.
In the case of State Agencies under my control the Agency for Personnel Services Overseas and the Refugee Agency have taken out insurance policies which include cover for public liability.
As all the insurance policies referred to above cover a range of risks it is not possible to specify the precise cost to the Exchequer of public liability insurance in each case. Costs of policies are kept under close review to ensure that they remain competitive.
In the last year there have been no claims, based on public liability, in respect of such policies. Details of other  claims against my Department are set out in my reply to Deputy Upto on 31 January 1995.
53. Miss de Valera asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider expanding the tax regime for artists to include artists such as actors, musicians and those persons who create jobs in the music business. [7239/95]
Minister for Finance (Mr. Quinn): I have no plans to expand the scope of the existing relief for artists provided in section 2 of the Finance Act, 1969.
54. Mr. B. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Finance if he will consider involving the National Treasury Management Agency in the co-ordination and management of departmental borrowing. [7624/95]
Minister for Finance (Mr. Quinn): The National Treasury Management Agency was set up under the National Treasury Management Agency Act, 1990. The principal functions of the Agency are to perform, on behalf of the Minister for Finance, the functions of the Minister delegated to it by Order of the Government under section 5 of that Act. The functions that may be delegated to the Agency are those relating to borrowing and management of the National Debt. The National Debt is the biggest portfolio of debt in the State and it requires specific attention. The National Treasury Management Agency was set up for this purpose. The entire portfolio managed by the Agency consists of State debt.
My Department co-ordinates the borrowing activities of the NTMA and other public sector agencies involved in borrowing, such as the commercial semi-State bodies and the Intervention Agency. I issue formal guidelines to the NTMA and my Department seeks to  influence the borrowing activities of the public sector bodies within that overall framework. The advice and expertise of the NTMA is already availed of by my Department in the performance of these functions, particularly in relation to the activities of the Intervention Agency.
55. Miss de Valera asked the Minister for Finance the findings of the survey completed by the Management Services Unit of his Department in 1993 on the organisation, management and staffing of the Arts Council. [7244/95]
Minister for Finance (Mr. Quinn): The findings, conclusions or recommendations arising from Management Services Unit surveys which are carried out at the request of a client Department or Office, are presented to the management of that client Department or Office on a confidential basis. Therefore, the question of disclosure or any other action in relation to such findings, conclusions or recommendations is solely a matter for the particular Department or Office, in this instance, the Department of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht.
56. Mr. Barry asked the Minister for Finance the plans, if any, he has to abolish motor taxation and have it incorporated into a fail-safe system in view of the reported widespread evasion of the tax; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7282/95]
Minister for Finance (Mr. Quinn): I have no plans to abolish the existing motor taxation system and to incorporate it into any existing or new taxation scheme.
As regards reports about the level of evasion of road tax, my colleague, the Minister for Justice, is replying to the Deputy separately in the matter today.
57. Mr. Barry asked the Minister for Finance if he has satisfied himself that, in any future take-over arrangement with the TSB, there will be no associated TSB staff redundancies; if he will have arrangements made to incorporate assurances into a formal agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7283/95]
Minister for Finance (Mr. Quinn): At the outset, I should point out that no decisions have been taken by the Government in relation to the TSB Bank. Any decisions made by the Government will take account of the interests of the staff of the bank.
58. Mr. Barry asked the Minister for Finance his views on Commission President Jacques Santer's concept of a monetary system based on the ECU, the dollar and the yen in view of the EU's transition to a single currency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7285/95]
Minister for Finance (Mr. Quinn): It is not clear to which statement by Commission President Santer the Deputy's question refers. However, I assume the Deputy has in mind the concept of a single European currency which would be a major currency in international financial markets, with a significance comparable to that of the US dollar and Japanese yen.
One of the objectives of the creation of a single European currency is to ensure that it will have a status in international financial markets which reflects the economic significance of the European Union in global terms. Given the strict criteria laid down before member states can participate in the European single currency, I have no doubt that it will indeed achieve this objective.
59. Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Finance the number of gillies working for tourist shoot promoters who were assessed for income tax during the 1993/1994 financial year; and the total derived from income tax for this activity. [7351/95]
63. Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the average charge per day per hunter is between £100 and £150 exclusive of accommodation; if he will give an assurance that promoters are giving returns of this order, in view of the fact that 7,365 gun days were allocated in the 1994/1995 season; the way in which the Revenue Commissioners treat profits accruing to tourist shoot promoters whether from individuals or from groups such as the Tubbercurry, County Sligo, Gun Club which does not supply accommodation. [7392/95]
Minister for Finance (Mr. Quinn): I propose to take Questions Nos. 59 and 63 together.
I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that to determine the information on the number of gillies working for tourist shoot promoters requested by the Deputy would require identification of the cases involved and an individual examination of all the income tax returns of such cases. Such an examination could be carried out only at a disproportionate cost.
With regard to the second question raised by the Deputy, I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that, in the main, tourist shoot promotion is an ancillary aspect of the hotel, countryhouse and guesthouse business. Under the self-assessment system, profits derived from this activity, whether or not accommodation is provided, are required to be included in the returns made to the Revenue Commissioners.
It has not been considered necessary to set up and maintain a seperate record  of the tax position of tourist shoot promotion as a business activity in its own right. In the circumstances the extent of income to gun clubs specifically derived directly from tourist shooters is not readily quantifiable.
Auditing of self-assessed returns would include examination of charges made. Revenue are aware that daily charges are in the region indicated by the Deputy. Therefore, returns would be expected of that order.
Profits e.g. hunting fees — less allowable expenses — accruing to tourist shoot promoters, whether providing accommodation or not, would be liable to income tax under Case 1 of Schedule D or to corporation tax. Hunting fees would be liable to VAT on receipt by individuals or limited companies depending on whether the level of fees reached the VAT registration limit of £20,000 per annum. If this limit were not reached the question of VAT liability would not arise.
60. Mr. Kirk asked the Minister for Finance the total Exchequer funds provided in each of the counties in the Border region for each of the years 1989 to 1994; the total Exchequer funds allocated to each county for 1995; and the total EU funds provided in each Border county for each of the years 1989 to 1994 under the headings of CSF assistance, INTERREG I and II and other community initiatives. [7373/95]
Minister for Finance (Mr. Quinn): Expenditure under the Community Support Frameworks 1989-93 and 1994-99 is compiled on a regional basis; a breakdown of expenditure on a county basis is not readily available.
During the period of the last Community Support Framework, five of the present counties of the Border region formed the North-West sub-region: Cavan, Monaghan, Leitrim, Sligo and Donegal; County Louth which is now included in the Border region, was part  of the Mid-East sub-region. Therefore, figures shown in respect of the North-West sub-region do not include County Louth.
Because the Sub-Regional Review Committees ceased operations at end 1993 and the regional authorities were established with effect from 1 January 1994, expenditure on the basis of the areas covered by the former will be recorded up to December 1993 only. Expenditure under both CSFs from January 1994 will be compiled in respect of each of the new regional authority areas.
Exchequer and EU expenditure under CSF 1989-1993 in the North-West Sub-Region
The attached extract (Appendix I) from the publication “Department of Finance Breakdown of Structural Spending, All Sub-Regions, Edition No. 5” shows total actual expenditure, including Exchequer and EU, in respect of Operational Programmes and Actions under CSF 1989-1993 for the period January 1989 to December 1992 and Revised Forecast of expenditure in 1993 in the North-West Sub-Region. The actual expenditure for 1993 is not yet available.
With the exception of expenditure under INTERREG I which is shown at Appendix II, financial data at Sub-Regional level for the other Community Initiatives is not readily available.
1994 and 1995 Exchequer and EU expenditure in the Border Region
Details of expenditure, including Exchequer and EU, under INTERREG I for the period 1991 to 1995 and proposed expenditure under INTERREG II for 1995 to 1999 are shown at Appendices II and III respectively.
Other financial data for the Border Region for 1994 and 1995 in respect of other Community Initiatives, Operational Programmes and Actions are not yet available.
 APPENDIX I
Community Support Framework and National Development Plan 1989-1993
Breakdown of Structural Spending Sub-Region 6 — North-West
Table 6.6: Total Expenditure by OP/ACTION in Sub-Region 6 (North-West) 1989-1993 IR£ms
|Expenditure Heading||Total Cost||Total Public Struc Expend.||Co- Financed Public Expenditure||Non-Co- Finan. Nation. Expend.||Priv. Expend.|
|Total Co- Finan.||EC Participation||National|
|Total||ERDF||ESF||EAGGF||Other||Total||Cent Govt.||Local Auths||Other|
|Priority 1: Agriculture, Fisheries, Tourism and Rural Development|
|Environmentally Friendly Farming:||Forecast||43.135||21.323||21.323||14.926||14.926||6.397||6.397||21.812|
|Continuation of Regulation 1820/80:||Forecast||33.181||23.032||18.151||12.846||12.846||5.305||5.305||4.881||10.149|
|Objective 5(a) Measures:||Forecast||205.638||167.031||165.811||96.633||96.633||69.178||67.705||1.473||1.220||38.607|
|Priority 2: Industry and Services|
|Industry and Services:|
|Priority 3: Measures to offset the effects of Peripherality|
|Peripherality: Roads, Rail and Access Transport:||Forecast||94.015||94.015||62.435||39.875||39.564||0.311||22.560||20.972||1.588||31.580|
|Priority 4: Human Resources|
|Art.1 (5&6) Exceptional Measures:||Forecast||82.088||82.088||52.249||28.578||28.578||23.671||23.671||29.839|
|Occupational Integration of Disabled People:||Forecast||27.604||27.604||19.113||12.014||12.014||7.099||7.099||8.491|
|Training Infrastructure & Trainers:|
|—Training of Trainers||Forecast||0.437||0.437||0.360||0.240||0.240||0.120||0.120||0.077|
|Objective (Long-Term Unemployed):||Forecast||4.352||4.352||4.300||2.785||2.785||1.515||1.515||0.052|
|Objective 4 (Occupational Integration of Young People):||Forecast||19.455||19.455||17.030||11.040||11.040||5.990||5.990||2.425|
|National Development Plan only:|
|—Bord na Móna||Forecast|
|Total Revised Forecast(2)||1,133.108||842.659||658.882||390.091||136.236||116.089||137.766||268.790||239.629||1.244||27.717||183.777||290.449|
 APPENDIX II
INTERREG: Financial Details by Year
End of September 1994
INTERREG I Border Region
|Total Programme||Total Cost||Total||Community Grants||National Administrations||Private Funds||EIB, ECSC Loans|
|Revised Forecast — June 1994||3.781||3.775||2.801||2.791||0.000||0.010||0.974||0.297||0.047||0.630||0.006||0.000|
|Revised Forecast — June 1994||13.830||13.215||8.136||6.444||0.344||1.348||5.079||2.716||0.195||2.168||0.615||0.000|
|Revised Forecast — June 1994||16.443||14.829||9.488||8.249||0.895||0.344||5.341||2.760||1.429||1.152||1.614||0.000|
|Revised Forecast — June 1994||21.748||16.065||12.232||9.810||0.074||2.348||3.833||1.963||1.011||0.859||5.683||0.000|
|Outturn Qrt 1-3||12.312||8.569||6.027||5.027||0.074||0.926||2.542||1.584||0.413||0.545||3.743||0.000|
|Forecast Qtr 4||6.480||5.496||3.798||2.867||0.000||0.931||1.698||0.649||0.036||1.013||0.984||0.000|
|Revised Forecast — June 1994||13.635||9.561||0.000||0.000||0.000||0.000||0.000||0.000||0.000||0.000||0.000||0.000|
|Revised Forecast — June 1994||55.802||47.884||32.657||27.294||1.313||4.050||15.227||7.736||2.682||4.809||7.918||0.000|
The final actual expenditure tables will be available following the December 1995 Monitoring Committee Meeting.
 APPENDIX III
Allocation to Border Region for Period 1995/1999
|Total Cost||Total||Public Expenditure||Private Funds|
|Community Grants||National Administrations|
61. Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Finance when a decision will be made on an application (details supplied) by the Chambers of Commerce in Galway, Cork, Waterford and Sligo, in conjunction with the Irish Trade Board and Shannon Development Limited, to implement an information and publicity action under the community support framework. [7377/95]
Minister for Finance (Mr. Quinn): The organisations in question are seeking funding under the Community Support Framework — CSF — Technical Assistance Operational Programme 1994-1999 for the provision of information and publicity in their respective areas on the Community Support Framework and Community Initiatives.
The CSF Technical Assistance Programme 1994-1999, which includes provisions on information and publicity, is under discussion with the Commission services at present. The Chambers' submission on information and publicity will be one of the factors which will receive consideration in the discussions. However, it is not feasible to decide on specific projects pending agreement on an operational programme.
62. Dr. O'Hanlon asked the Minister for Finance the cost to the Exchequer and State agencies of public liability insurance premia and claims paid from the Exchequer for the last year for which figures are available; the plans, if any he has to reduce this cost; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7391/95]
Minister for Finance (Mr. Quinn): The information requested by the Deputy is as follows:
Generally no insurance is effected against the risk of any loss which, if it arose, would fall wholly and directly on public funds. The risks for which the Government is liable are innumerable and widely distributed. The losses maturing in any one year are never so large as materially to disturb the financial  position of the year so that it is cheaper in the long term for the Exchequer to “carry its own insurance”.
Department of Finance: My Department is directly and indirectly involved in many cases brought against the State under the Civil Liability Act, 1961. The following are details of cases which are directly under the aegis of the Department of Finance: One claim amounting to £12,500 was paid by my Department in 1994; three minor claims amounting to £84.99 were also paid in that year.
Valuation Office and Ordnance Survey Office: One claim was paid by the Valuation Office in 1994; the amount paid was £181.50. One claim was paid by the Ordnance Survey Office in 1993; the amount paid in this case was £11,715.52.
Office of Public Works: Payments totalling £525,936.89 — i.e. £424,276.94 compensation and £101,659.95 costs — were made in 44 cases in 1994.
Revenue Commissioners: In so far as this Office is concerned, the cost to the Exchequer of claims paid in 1994 was £214,000 approximately.
State Laboratory: Four claims amounting to £140.98 were paid during 1994.
A more pro-active approach to accident prevention is being taken through increased staff safety training, site checks etc. Also greater emphasis is being placed on contesting strongly compensation claims made against the Department and Offices under its aegis.
64. Mr. Cowen asked the Minister for Finance, in view of the announcement in the Budget confirming that land acquired compulsorily for road development would not be regarded as development land, if this provision will apply to farmers (details supplied) in County Laois; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7434/95]
Minister for Finance (Mr. Quinn): In this year's budget, I announced a measure to allow deferment of capital  gains tax — CGT — for farmers disposing of farmland, including buildings, to a local authority for road-building or road-widening purposes, to the extent that the proceeds of the disposal are reinvested in acquiring replacement farmland. In the recently published 1995 Finance Bill, I have broadened this relief to include reinvestment in agricultural plant and machinery.
These new measures apply in respect of disposals taking place on or after 6 April 1995, in line with the normal practice for changes in the CGT code. I understand that the majority of the disposals referred to by the Deputy would have taken place prior to 6 April 1995 and, therefore, would not come within the scope of the new provisions.
65. Mr. Hughes asked the Minister for Finance the number of companies each paying 10 per cent corporation profits tax up to the amounts of £100,000, £250,000, £500,000, £1 million, £2 million, £3 million, £4 million, £5 million and over for the last year for which figures are available; and within each category, the percentage of the overall 10 per cent corporation tax profits paid to the State. [7479/95]
Minister for Finance (Mr. Quinn): The latest relevant information available relates to the corporation tax payable by companies with accounting periods falling between 1 April 1992 and 31 March 1993 whose liability to the tax was computed partly or wholly at the reduced rate of 10 per cent. This information is set out in the following table. However, because of the relatively small number of companies whose tax payable was in excess of £3 million, the precise breakdown requested by the Deputy is not given in order to protect the confidentiality of individual taxpayers.
Companies which qualify for the reduced rate of 10 per cent on a portion of their taxable profits are included in the table in respect of their total tax  liability, i.e. tax paid at both the 10 per cent rate and the 40 per cent rate. It is not possible to isolate the tax attributable solely to the 10 per cent rate in such cases because certain reliefs relating to the income liable for tax at both the standard and reduced rates are set off against the overall tax liability after the relief at 10 per cent has been computed.
Corporation Tax Liability 1992-93
|Range of tax payable||Number of companies liable at 10%||Tax payable in each range as % of total|
66. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Finance the tax-free allowance of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [7485/95]
Minister for Finance (Mr. Quinn): I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the taxpayer's tax free allowances for the income tax year 1995-96 are as follows:
|Less Social Welfare Pension||3,421|
|Allowance Due||379 per annum or £31.59 per month|
 The balance is taxable at Table A (27 per cent).
The method of taxing social welfare pensions is that an amount equivalent to the annual social welfare payment is deducted from the taxpayer's annual tax-free allowances. Thus the tax deducted from any other income the taxpayer has includes the liability on the social welfare pension—the social welfare pension payment is received free of tax.
67. Mr. N. Ahern asked the Minister for Finance if the procedure whereby An Bord Gáis charges VAT on unused gas supplies where the consumer has contracted to use a specified quantity at a reduced price is correct. [7499/95]
Minister for Finance (Mr. Quinn): I understand that the Deputy is referring to a contractual arrangement whereby the company undertakes to supply a specified minimum quantity of units of gas at a special reduced rate and the consumer agrees to pay for that minimum quantity whether or not it is actually used. In these circumstances, VAT is correctly chargeable on any unused units because VAT law specifies that VAT is due on the total consideration received by the supplier.
68. Mr. M. McDowell asked the Minister for Finance the estimated loss of revenue to the Exchequer in 1995 by reducing the VAT rate on Irish newspapers to 5 per cent; and if he will make a statement on the matter.- [7505/95]
Minister for Finance (Mr. Quinn): It is not permissible under EU law to apply a lower rate of VAT to Irish newspapers than applies to newspapers published in other member states and sold in this country. Accordingly, any reduction in the rate of VAT would  have to apply to all newspapers sold here.
The loss to the Exchequer in 1995 of reducing the rate of VAT on newspapers to 5 per cent would depend on the date of implementation of the change. If the 5 per cent rate applied from 1 July 1995, the loss is estimated at £4.1 million; if the change were to take effect from 1 September, the loss would be of the order of £1.9 million. The full year cost of a 5 per cent rate on newspapers is estimated at £13.7 million. It must be borne in mind that the creation of a 5 per cent rate specially for newspapers inevitably would give rise to immediate pressure from other sectors to be allowed the benefit of that rate which, if conceded, would increase the cost even further.
The Deputy will recall that, in reply to his previous Parliamentary Question in this area on 5 April 1995 — columns 1312-1314 — I indicated that a reduction in the VAT rate here would not solve the problem for Irish newspapers in regard to the competition they face from UK publications, which derives from non-tax factors.
69. Mr. E. Ryan asked the Minister for Finance the reason professional accountant grades are excluded from competing for positions for which they are eminently suited in view of the Government's promotion of reform in the public service via the strategic management initiative. [7526/95]
Minister for Finance (Mr. Quinn): Principles governing promotion in the Civil Service are a matter which are discussable under the terms of the conciliation and arbitration scheme. Existing promotion arrangements have been agreed with the staff side under the aegis of that scheme. While the Government is committed to achieving the broadest possible access to promotional posts, under existing agreed arrangements, the professional accountant grades do not have access to promotion  posts not within their traditional structure.
70. Mr. Leonard asked the Minister for Finance the total yield from motor taxation on private and commercial vehicles in counties Monaghan and Cavan for the last accounting period for which returns are available. [7586/95]
Minister for Finance (Mr. Quinn): I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that a statistical breakdown on a county by county basis of the overall revenue yield from motor taxation for any accounting period is not available. Such information either could not be obtained, or could not be obtained without undertaking inquiries which could be carried out only at disproportionate cost.
However, returns on a county basis are available for the motor vehicle duties collected by local licensing authorities. The latest information on that basis of which my Department is aware relates to 1993, for which county data were set out in the Minister for the Environment's reply to Parliamentary Question No. 101 of 19 October 1994 — columns 159/160 of the Official Report.
71. Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Finance the number of prosecutions which were initiated in each of the years 1993 and 1994 under section 2 of the Betting Act, 1931, against individuals for unlicensed bookmaking; and the number of these prosecutions which led to a conviction. [7591/95]
72. Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Finance the number of prosecutions which were initiated by the Revenue Commissioners in each of the years 1993 and 1994 under section 42 of the Finance Act, 1989, against individuals for taking bets without charging the betting duty; and the number of these prosecutions which led to a conviction. [7592/95]
Minister for Finance (Mr. Quinn): I propose taking Questions Nos. 71 and 72 together.
The following tables show, in respect of each of the years 1993 and 1994, the number of prosecutions initiated under the relevant legislation and the number of cases which led to conviction.
|Section 42 of the Finance Act, 1989||1993||1994|
|No. of prosecutions initiated||6||2|
|No. of convictions obtained||2||1|
Note: In relation to 1993, apart from the convictions, 2 cases were dismissed, 1 case was withdrawn and 1 case has not yet been heard. In relation to 1994, 1 case has not yet been heard.
|Section 2 of the Betting Act, 1931||1993||1994|
|No. of prosecutions initiated||2||15|
|No. of convictions obtained||1||12|
Note: In relation to 1993, 1 case was dismissed. In relation to 1994, apart from the convictions, 2 cases were withdrawn and 1 case has not yet been heard.
73. Dr. O'Hanlon asked the Minister for Finance the concrete statistical evidence which can be furnished to prove that the INTERREG II cross-border initiative and the European fund for peace and reconciliation will be additional to mainstream structural fund allocations to Border counties; if he has satisfied himself that these programmes are additional; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7679/95]
Minister for Finance (Mr. Quinn): Structural Fund aid under the INTERREG II Structural Fund Communty Initiative and under the EU  Structural Fund Community Initiative for a special support programme for peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the Border counties will be additional to Structural Fund spending in the Border counties under operational programmes under the Community Support Framework for Ireland for 1994 to 1999 and under other Community initiatives.
Now that all the operational programmes under the Community Support Framework have been approved by the European Commission and the programmes under the various Community initiatives are either approved or at an advanced stage, Departments are compiling details of the forecast expenditure under these programmes in each of the eight regions. When compiled these forecasts will provide the baseline data by reference to which the additionality of the expenditure under the two initiatives referred to in the question can be demonstrated over the period of the programmes.
74. Mr. Browne (Wexford) asked the Minister for Finance the reason the tax-free allowance entitlement for a person (details supplied) in County Wexford has been withdrawn; his view on whether this is equitable; and if he will have arrangements made to have it restored. [7682/95]
Minister for Finance (Mr. Quinn): I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the reason the taxpayer's tax-free allowances have been restricted for the current tax year 1995/96 is: (a) to collect the tax due on the disability benefit payments paid to his wife by the Department of Social Welfare. These are paid to her in full without deduction of tax and (b) to collect tax underpaid by the taxpayer for the years 1984-85 to 1987-88.
Unfortunately, the certificate which issued to the taxpayer on 30 March, 1995 failed to include the PAYE allowance — £800 — in respect of his wife. This has now been corrected and as a result an amended certificate of tax-free allowances of £721 per annum or £13.86 per week at Table R — 27 per cent — will be issued to him. The details are as follows:
|PAYE Allowance (£800×2)||1,600|
|Interest paid in full||280|
|Less Disability Benefit||3,235|
|Net Tax Free Allowance||721|
**The underpayment for the years 1984-85 to 1987-88 amounts to £830. The taxpayer's allowances are restricted by £3,074 (£830×100/27) to collect the arrears of tax due.
75. Mr. Dempsey asked the Minister for Finance the arrangements, if any, he has made for the recycling of old telephone directories which have been in use in his Department. [7685/95]
Minister for Finance (Mr. Quinn): I have made arrangements for all old or unused telephone directories to be collected from my Department each year and recycled.
76. Mr. Clohessy asked the Minister for Health the number of vacancies within the regional health boards at present for the post of Chief Executive Officer; the health boards which have current vacancies; the officers currently acting as Chief Executive Officer; and when it is proposed to fill these vacancies on a permanent basis. [7257/95]
Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan,: Limerick East): There is no vacancy at present within the health boards at chief executive officer level. Temporary appointments have been made in  accordance with section 13 (9) of the Health Act, 1970 to the chief executive officer posts in the Mid-Western, North Eastern, Southern and South Eastern Health Boards.
In the case of the Mid-Western and North Eastern Health Boards, the posts are held by the chief executive officer of the Midland and the North Western Health Boards respectively. In the other cases, the person appointed is a serving permanent officer of the board.
I have decided that the chief executive officer posts in the Southern and South Eastern Health Boards should be filled on a permanent basis. The boards will be initiating the process to give effect to this decision at an early date.
77. Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn asked the Minister for Health his views on whether there is cross-border co-operation in the provision of hospital care; and the plans, if any, he has to co-operate with his counterpart in the United Kingdom for the benefit of all people on the island. [7294/95]
Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan,: Limerick East): There is a significant degree of cross-Border co-operation at both ministerial and official levels on health matters. In the area of hospital care there are well-established arrangements in place to provide specialised treatment to patients from both North and South. There is also regular cross-Border co-operation in the ambulance service.
Co-operation has also extended over a range of other issues including health promotion, a proposed Institute of Public Health in Ireland, co-operation between Border health boards and joint procurement.
There have been continuing initiatives aimed at developing cross-Border co-operation under the CAWT programme co-operation and Working Together which was launched in Ballyconnell in July, 1992.
Both I and my Northern Ireland  counterpart give a high priority to areas of mutual co-operation. We will be meeting shortly to review progress to date and to explore other areas where co-operation on health issues can be overtaken. I have also made arrangements to meet the Secretary of State for Health to discuss matters of mutual interest.
78. Mr. Cowen asked the Minister for Health the proposals, if any, he has to extend the free dental scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7307/95]
Minister for Health, (Mr. Noonan,: Limerick East): In January of this year I extended eligibility for dental services to children up to their fourteenth birthday. I am considering a further extension next year which will give eligibility to children up to their sixteenth birthday.
Under the new dental treatment services scheme introduced by my Department on 1 November, 1994, dental treatment for all adults with medical card eligibility will be phased in over a four year period.
In the initial phasing of the scheme persons aged 65 years and over have been identified as a priority group and additional resources have been made available to health boards to enable them to provide dental treatment, including denture treatment, for this group. Emergency dental treatment for the relief of pain is, available to all medical card holders irrespective of age.
However, where their existing resources allow, health boards will continue to provide routine dental treatment to adults who have not yet reached 65 years.
I will also be giving consideration to extending the scheme later this year to an additional age cohort of adults.
79. Mr. Dempsey asked the Minister for Health if his Department has given a commitment to the North Eastern Health Board or to Meath CARE to provide a 30 bed nursing home/geriatric hospital in Kells, County Meath. [7318/95]
Minister for Health, (Mr. Noonan,: Limerick East): The North-Eastern Health Board inform me that they have no plans at present for the provision of a home for the elderly in Kells, County Meath.
The North-Eastern Health Board have written to the Meath CARE Committee outlining current developments in services for the elderly throughout the region. The board has also told the committee that they would welcome any proposals from Meath CARE for the services in the Kells area.
80. Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn asked the Minister for Health his views on a twinning arrangement between Letterkenny/Altnagelvin and Sligo/Erne hospitals for the provision of a better and more efficient health service. [7322/95]
Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan,: Limerick East): The question of a twinning arrangement has not been considered to date but the North Western Health Board is currently involved in discussions with the Western Health and Social Services Board in relation to areas where, through cross-Border co-operation it could be made possible for patients to avail of acute hospital services in the nearest hospital to them. Discussions on this matter are at a very preliminary stage.
There is regular cross-Border co-operation in the ambulance service, where for instance the Ballyshannon ambulance responds to emergency calls  for the Belleek area and brings the patients to Enniskillen Hospital.
81. Mrs. Geoghegan-Quinn asked the Minister for Health when a decision will be made on a case (details supplied) in County Galway; and when he intends to furnish a reply to the person involved. [7325/95]
Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan,: Limerick East): My Department is in detailed discussions with the Blood Transfusion Service Board concerning the issues raised in this case. As soon as these discussions are completed I will furnish a reply to the person involved.
82. Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Health the number of people from County Mayo who had orthopaedic surgery in Dublin and in Galway in the past year; and the routine waiting list for orthopaedic clinics in Dublin, Sligo and Castlebar. [7346/95]
Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan,: Limerick East): The following number of patients from County Mayo received orthopaedic surgery in Dublin and Galway in the past year:
Dublin: Various Hospitals — 235.
Galway: Merlin Park Regional Hospital — 531.
In relation to the numbers on routine waiting lists for orthopaedic clinics in Dublin, Sligo and Castlebar the position is as follows:
Dublin: Various Hospitals: 3,407.
Sligo: Sligo General Hospital: 481.
Castlebar: Mayo General Hospital: 1,491.
83. Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Health the reason a person (details supplied) in County Mayo is on a waiting list for a hip operation in Merlin Park Hospital for the past nine years; when this person will be called for the operation in view of the fact that she is in severe pain. [7347/95]
Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan,: Limerick East): The Western Health Board has indicated that the patient concerned was assessed at the out-patient department in Mayo General Hospital on 19 September 1994 and was subsequently placed on the in-patient waiting list. The board expects to be in a position to call this patient for surgery within the next three months.
The Deputy will appreciate that the scheduling of admission to hospital is a matter for the consultant concerned and each case is assessed to determine medical priority. Should the patient feel concerned 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.
84. Mr. S. Brennan asked the Minister for Health the reason a 15 year-old person (details supplied) in Dublin 14 who has been on the waiting list for orthodontic treatment for four years as a Category 2 priority has now been told that treatment may not be available for another five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7382/95]
Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan,: Limerick East): As the provision of orthodontic treatment for children in the Dublin 14 area is the responsibility of the Eastern Health Board in the first instance I have asked the chief executive officer of the board to investigate the position and to reply to the Deputy in relation to this case as a matter of urgency.
85. Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) in County Mayo will be called for a cat-scan in Galway in view of the fact that it is causing great concern to the person's family. [7426/95]
Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan,: Limerick East): On 5 April 1995 the patient's consultant requested that a routine cat-scan be performed, and this request was conveyed to University College Hospital, Galway by fax as is the usual procedure in such cases. However, the patient subsequently underwent an operation on 7 April for his condition which was deemed to be clinically necessary by his consultant. In the event, it was unnecessary for a cat-scan to be carried out on the patient in question.
86. Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Health if he will make funding available for the provision of further training for 13 persons from Saint Michael's House, Prussia Street, Dublin 7. [7451/95]
Minister of State at the Department of Health (Mr. O'Shea): My Department allocated £10.520 million to St. Michael's House in respect of 1995. The comparable figure for 1994 was £8.965 million. The 1995 figure includes additional funding to ensure the continued provision of 73 training places by St. Michael's House.
Of the £8 million revenue allocated to the health board regions to provide new services in 1995, the Eastern Health Board region was allocated £2,665 million. The precise services to be provided, including the location of 155 new day places, will be agreed by the Eastern region Mental Handicap Planning Committee, on which St. Michael's House is represented, within the guidelines issued by my Department and subject to my approval.
87. Mr. E. Byrne asked the Minister for Health the number of medical, surgical and day care patients treated at Mallow General Hospital, County Cork, in each of the years 1993 and 1994; the number admitted as private patients in each of those categories in each of the years 1993 and 1994; and the number in each category admitted from outside the north Cork health district in each of the years 1993 and 1994. [7521/95]
Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan,: Limerick East): The information  requested by the Deputy is set out in the following tables. Table 1 sets out the total numbers of in-patients discharged and day cases treated in 1993 and 1994. It should be noted that the breakdown of discharges and day cases relates to the type of bed used and not to the public or private status of the patient. From time to time public patients may occupy beds designated as private and vice versa on the basis of patient needs in particular circumstances. This breakdown is not available for 1993. Table 2 sets out the numbers of in-patients discharged and day cases treated in 1993 and 1994 who resided outside the North Cork area.
Total Numbers of In-Patients Discharged and Day Cases Treated 1993 and 1994
|Specially||In-patients Discharged||Day Cases|
|Total||Public||Private||Non- Designated||Total||Total||Public||Private||Non- Designated||Total|
Numbers of In-Patients Discharged and Day Cases Treated 1993 and 1994 who Resided Outside the North Cork Area*
|Specially||In-Patients Discharged||Day Cases|
88. Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Health the steps, if any, that are being taken to provide residential or appropriate care to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 1 who has been identified as being at risk. [7534/95]
Minister of State at the Department of Health (Mr. Currie): I understand from the Eastern Health Board that the board has been working intensively with the child in question and his family for some time. The child is regarded as out of control and there have been difficulties in securing an appropriate placement for him. Pending the identification of a suitable placement the board has offered the child a place in one of its neighbourhood youth projects but this offer has not yet been taken up.
89. Mr. Lawlor asked the Minister for Health the proposals, if any, he has to introduce a general vaccination scheme in respect of the Hepatitis B infection in view of the fact that Hepatitis B is second only to smoking as a cause of cancer and is much more infectious than AIDS but, unlike AIDS, vaccination can prevent the disease; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7537/95]
Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan,: Limerick East): The reported incidence of hepatitis B in Ireland, as in most Northern European countries, is quite low — 24 cases of the disease were reported to my Department in 1994.
The epidemiology of hepatitis B is constantly kept under review and at present there are no plans to introduce a national vaccination programme against hepatitis B. The general population is not regarded as being at a high risk of contracting the disease. The vaccination is however available to all high risk categories as recommended by the World Health Organisation.
90. Mr. Lawlor asked the Minister for Health when he will appoint a medical oncologist to the Southern Health Board region. [7542/95]
Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan,: Limerick East): There are currently no proposals with my Department in relation to the appointment of a medical oncologist in the Southern Health Board region. As the Deputy is no doubt aware, the Comhairle na nOspidéal report on consultant manpower in the Southern Health Board region was published recently. The report is currently being considered by all relevant agencies with a view to prioritising service needs.
Upon coming into office I saw the need to review the delivery of cancer services as an immediate priority. Accordingly, I have established a cancer review group within my Department to look at all aspects of our cancer services. In the course of its examination, the  review group will consider the staffing levels required to deliver the optimum level of oncology services throughout the country. The needs of the medical oncology discipline will be considered in this context and having regard to the staffing priorities identified by individual health boards.
91. Miss Harney asked the Minister for Health the reason a person (details supplied) in County Dublin had to wait for so long at Our Lady's Hospital for sick children and was not then seen by the appropriate doctor: and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7577/95]
Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan,: Limerick East): I understand from the hospital authorities in Crumlin that this child attended the casualty department of the hospital on a particularly busy evening when delays were inevitable for some patients.
The hospital has indicated that the child had had grommets inserted in the National Children's Hospital, Harcourt Street one month prior to his visit to Crumlin. The doctor attending the child in Crumlin consequently contacted the ENT registrar in relation to the case, and was advised by him with regard to the appropriate mode of treatment. Since the child was still under the care of the National Children's Hospital, Harcourt Street, the doctor in Crumlin also contacted the casualty officer of that hospital and arranged an urgent follow-up appointment for the child in the National Children's Hospital. The hospital appears to have acted appropriately in this case.
92. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Health if the recent announcement of a £31.6 million EU grant for the construction and equipping of the Tallaght Hospital will impact on any aspect of the project; if the position remains as indicated in reply to parliamentary questions on the subject in May of 1994 and March of 1995; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7582/95]
Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan,: Limerick East): I wish to reassure the Deputy that the position in relation to the funding and completion date for the Tallaght Hospital is as indicated in recent replies to previous parliamentary questions. I am optimistic that the target completion date of December 1996 will be achieved. Once construction work has been finalised, the necessary resources will be made available for equipping and commissioning purposes and the hospital is scheduled to open in 1997, as planned.
93. Miss M. Wallace asked the Minister for Health the present position in regard to the mobility allowance; the rates of the allowance; if the allowance is means tested; and the criteria with regard to obtaining the allowance. [7639/95]
Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan,: Limerick East): The mobility allowance for handicapped persons was introduced in 1979. This allowance is payable to persons between the ages of 16 and 66 years and the qualifying criteria are that: the person must be unable to walk, even with the use of artificial limbs, or be in such a condition of health that the exertion required to walk would be dangerous; inability to walk has to be likely to persist for one year; moving the applicant must not have been forbidden for medical reasons and the applicant must be in a condition to benefit from a change in surroundings.
The current rate of payment of the mobility allowance is £37.10 per month which is increased annually in line with social welfare increases. The allowance is means tested, the limit being set at the level of the disabled person's maintenance allowance of £61 per week. In  cases where an applicant's means exceeds this amount, a partial mobility allowance may be paid.
94. Miss M. Wallace asked the Minister for Health the support available from his Department for a person (details supplied) in County Meath who commenced an undergraduate nursing tutor course in University College Dublin in October 1994, on the understanding that a decision had been taken by his Department that grants would be provided for applicants to do an undergraduate nursing tutor course to correct the deficiency in the numbers of nursing tutors and that the funding commenced in 1992 and was to be made available for a five year period; and if his attention has been drawn to the fact that about three years ago his Department did a survey of nurse tutors and discovered a deficiency in teaching staff and decided to increase the number of places on the course in University College Dublin. [7665/95]
Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan,: Limerick East): A sponsorship arrangement was applied to nurses who commenced the Bachelor of Nursing Studies and Diploma in Nursing Studies courses in UCD in October 1991 and October 1992. The objective was to quickly increase the pool of nurse tutors to the level required to provide the additional 12 weeks theoretical instruction necessitated by the implementation of EU Directive 89/595/EEC.
This objective was largely met by 1993 and the situation reverted to hospitals funding tutor education from within existing resources. This is designed to address normal wastage. It is open to a student selected by UCD for the course to subsequently seek sponsorship from any nurse training school but, in the normal course, students are selected for sponsorship in advance by the relevant training school.
95. Mr. Dempsey asked the Minister for Health the arrangements, if any, he has made for recycling old telephone directories which have been in use in his Department. [7686/95]
Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan,: Limerick East): My Department had for a number of years, an arrangement with a private company for the regular collection and recycling of old telephone directories.
96. Dr. O'Hanlon asked the Minister for Health the cost to the Exchequer and State agencies of public liability insurance premia and claims paid from the Exchequer for the last year for which figures are available; the plans, if any he has to reduce this cost; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7391/95]
Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan,: Limerick East): The detailed information sought is not readily available; however, it is being assembled at present and I will write to the Deputy when it is to hand.
In regard to reducing the cost of insurance, including public liability insurance, separate schemes are in place in respect of ten large voluntary hospitals and three maternity hospitals under which the hospitals involved combine their insurance business to ensure that optimum rates are obtained.
In addition, my Department has initiated five risk management projects in separate locations throughout the country and the lessons learned here should lead to reduced claims and, accordingly, reduced insurance premia.
98. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Equality and Law Reform if he has satisfied himself that equality exists right across the wider community, particularly in terms of discrimination on grounds of gender; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7581/95]
Minister for Equality and Law Reform (Mr. Taylor): I recognise that there is scope for greater equality, not only as between women and men, but also in relation to other groups in the community. The existence of a Department of Equality and Law Reform signals the priority given to equality policy by the Government. The role of the Department is not only to address gender equality, but to promote equality for other groups experiencing disadvantage by reason of age, religion, sexual orientation, disability, race, nationality, national or ethnic origin or membership of the travelling community.
99. Mr. Dempsey asked the Minister for Equality and Law Reform the arrangements, if any, he has made for recycling old telephone directories which have been in use in his Department. [7687/95]
Minister for Equality and Law Reform (Mr. Taylor): My Department is currently considering an approach from a company about the possibility of having all waste paper, including old telephone directories, recycled.
100. Dr. O'Hanlon asked the Minister for Equality and Law Reform the cost to the Exchequer and State agencies of public liability insurance premia and claims paid from the Exchequer for the last year for which figures are available; the plans, if any he has to reduce this cost; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7391/95]
Minister for Equality and Law Reform (Mr. Taylor): The cost to the Exchequer and State agencies operating under the aegis of my Department of  the payment of public liability insurance premia for the last year for which figures are available is as follows: Legal Aid Board — for the period August 1994 to August 1995: £1,790.54 and Employment Equality Agency — for the period October 1994 to October 1995: £816.00.
No claims were paid by the Exchequer in 1994 in respect of public liability insurance for either of these bodies. The payment of public liability insurance premia is kept under constant review to ensure that the associated costs are kept to a minimum.
102. Miss de Valera asked the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht the moneys, if any, he will make available to the Abbey in Ennis, County Clare. [7233/95]
Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht (Mr. M. Higgins): A sum of £200,000 has been provided under the Operational Programme for Tourism for a scheme of works for Ennis Abbey. Proposals for the Abbey involve the conservation and presentation of the unique collection of medieval carved stonework on the site. It is proposed to commence the project with a preliminary survey this year and it is intended to have the project completed by 1999.
103. Miss de Valera asked the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht the way in which the Office of Public Works intends to preserve the High Crosses at Kilfenora, County Clare. [7235/95]
Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht (Mr. M. Higgins): The condition of the High Crosses at Kilfenora does not give cause for immediate concern. A survey of monuments in the Burren will be carried out shortly and the crosses will be included in this  survey. Any conservation works which may be required on the crosses will be carried out in the light of this survey. The question of eventually moving the crosses indoors for protection is also under consideration.
104. Miss de Valera asked the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht the plans, if any, he has in relation to the establishment of an international agency for the Arts; and if discussions have taken place with the Department of Foreign Affairs in this regard. [7236/95]
Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht (Mr. M. Higgins): The Deputy will be aware that there already exists within the Department of Foreign Affairs a cultural relations committee, which is appointed by the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and whose function is to make recommendations to the Tánaiste for expenditure on schemes for the promotion of Ireland's cultural relations abroad. The establishment of a new independent agency to take account of the international dimension of arts development has recently been mooted in “The Arts Plan 1995-1997”. This plan has yet to be considered by the Government and the implementation of its component parts will have to await this consideration. However, I can inform the Deputy that discussions between my Department and the Department of Foreign Affairs on the question of the establishment of a new international agency for the arts will take place as soon as the Government has considered the arts plan.
105. Miss de Valera asked the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht his views on the capital and current spending proposals in the Arts Council three-year plan. [7240/95]
Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht (Mr. M. Higgins): The Deputy will be aware that, on 6 April last, this House heard a number of Statements on “The Arts Plan 1995-1997” which has been published by An Chomhairle Ealaíon. In my contribution to those deliberations, I made it clear that the plan has my strong endorsement and that I intend to pursue vigorously with my Cabinet colleagues the opportunity presented in it to develop the arts in a planned and strategic manner.
I should explain to the Deputy, however, that the funding levels sought in “The Arts Plan 1995-1997” mainly related to the current spending aspirations of An Chomhairle Ealaíon, with a small element only being earmarked for capital expenditure relating to refurbishment or essential repairs to existing arts infrastructure. My statement to the House on 6 April made it clear that, additionally, I have in excess of £67 million of Exchequer and EU funds at my disposal to fund arts and cultural capital infrastructure in the period to 1999. These funds will enable me to combine investment in arts infrastructure in our national cultural institutions based in Dublin, notably the National Museum, with a capital programme for the arts involving a strong regional emphasis.
106. Miss de Valera asked the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht the amount of EU Structural Funds secured by his Department for 1995 onwards; the way in which he intends to distribute such moneys; and his priorities when distributing these moneys. [7241/95]
Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht (Mr. M. Higgins): The following funds which include matching Exchequer and other funds have been allocated to my Department for the period 1994-1999 in the context of the following Operational Programmes:
|Tourism Operational Programme||£125.256m|
|Including National Monuments, Parks, Waterways and National and Regional Cultural activities.|
|Industry Operational Programme|
|— Gaeltacht Sub-Programme||£71.2m|
|Fisheries Operational Programme|
|— Gaeltacht Harbours||£7.46m|
Under the Tourism Operational Programme £57.85 million has been allocated to my Department for spending on heritage projects. I have allocated £28.55 million of this sum for expenditure on national monuments and historic properties, £6.65 million on national parks and nature reserves and £22.65 million on inland waterways. The purpose of these projects is to preserve and present to the public important features of our physical heritage while at the same time contributing to the development of the tourist industry and to employment creation.
The balance of the funding under the Tourism Operational Programme is envisaged for expenditure in respect of the development of important national and regional cultural facilities. Investment will be directed at the major national cultural institutions, including the National Museum at Collins Barracks. Funds will also be made available for regional initiatives and the establishment of a capital programme for the arts in co-operation with local authority/private contributions. The priorities in all these areas will be the development of the tourist potential of cultural enterprises at national, regional and local level.
In relation to film, £13 million will be spent on capital investment within the film industry and £2.58 million will be spent on training. The distribution of funds will be on the basis of support for appropriate projects.
The funds under the Gaeltacht Sub-Programme of the Industry Operational Programme will be used to support the  development of new and existing industries in the Gaeltacht by way of finance for industry, training and recruitment incentives, advisory and support services and provision of industrial space. Assistance will be available under the Fisheries Operational Programme to improve harbour facilities in Gaeltacht areas.
107. Miss de Valera asked the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht the plans, if any, he has to support the establishment of a county museum in Ennis, County Clare. [7243/95]
Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht (Mr. M. Higgins): I have no specific funds available for assisting the establishment of county museums. However, projects relating to the establishment of such museums are eligible for consideration for funding under the cultural development incentives scheme administered by my Department which is part of the EU Structural Funds Tourism Operational Programme. Applications were invited by advertisement on 14 December 1994. The 3 February 1995, was the closing date for receipt of applications and I have not received any application under the incentives scheme relating to the establishment of a county museum in Ennis, County Clare.
108. Miss de Valera asked the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht the plans, if any, the Office of Public Works has for the preservation of Quin Abbey in County Clare. [7247/95]
Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht (Mr. M. Higgins): I understand that Quin Abbey is in a reasonable state of preservation. There are proposals to provide visitor facilities there but a number of issues remain to be resolved before they can be implemented. These issues relate in the  main to difficulties in acquiring the land necessary to facilitate the proposed project and the need to close the national monument to burials.
110. Mr. Cowen asked the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht when the Visitors' Centre for Clara Bog, County Offaly, will proceed; if funds will be made available for the project; the outstanding matters which need to be resolved; the criteria which will apply to enable an application for planning permission to proceed; and his views on the project proceeding. [7316/95]
Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht (Mr. M. Higgins): A proposal to provide a visitor and study centre for Clara Bog is one of a list of projects which has been included in the current round of structural funds — 1994-1999. The total allocation for the project is £1.1 million.
The justification for providing a visitor and study centre for Clara Bog is that it is one of the best remaining raised bogs in the country and is of international importance for conservation. Approximately 440 hectares of this 665 hectare bog was acquired by the National Parks and Wildlife Service from Bord na Móna and it was established as a Nature Reserve in 1987, under the Wildlife Act, 1976.
However, the future conservation status of the bog is threatened by continued peat extraction from the area which remains in private ownership and by drainage on the bog margins. These activities are incompatible with the conservation of this habitat type, accelerating the drying out and shrinkage of the relatively intact, State-owned portion of the bog. If this is not halted, in time it will dry out all the wetter central parts of the bog and will result in the loss of its scientific interest.
There are a number of restoration and remedial measures which need to be undertaken in order to prevent the  continued drying out of the bog. These include the construction of peat dams to retain rainwater and the blocking of surface drains to prevent excessive run-off. Blocking of surface drains on the Nature Reserve lands is proceeding at present. However, the success of the project is largely dependent on the surface drain blocking and, especially, the construction of peat dams proceeding on the lands at present in private ownership, which the National Parks and Wildlife Service are seeking to acquire.
The restoration of Clara Bog is included in a project to conserve a number of raised bogs in the Midlands. This project is being assisted by the European Union's Cohesion Fund and covers the period 1994-1999. However, it has not been possible to acquire the privately-owned lands at Clara as the prices being sought by landowners are substantially higher than those being sought in other areas. While the National Parks and Wildlife Service are willing to pay reasonable market prices for these landholdings, they are not prepared to offer “headline” prices for same. The EU have also stated that they will not permit EU funds to be used in this way.
I am instructing the National Parks and Wildlife Service to continue their efforts to acquire the necessary lands to enable the restoration project there to proceed. However, the lack of progress is making it increasingly unlikely that the restoration works required there can be completed within the timescale set for this project. In the meantime, the National Parks and Wildlife Service are succeeding in acquiring bogs elsewhere in the Midlands at market prices.
In these circumstances, it will become necessary for me to consider using the available restoration funds to conserve conservation-worthy raised bogs in other areas. If this proves to be necessary, there is little prospect of the proposed visitor and study centre project proceeding at Clara, as the justification for its provision — the conservation of Clara Bog — would not be assured.
 I intend to keep this matter under review and to make a decision on the proposed project in the light of the progress made on the restoration of Clara Bog.
111. Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht the criteria used by the National Parks and Wildlife Service to assess the game-carrying capacity of lands for which gun days are sought by tourist shoot promoters. [7350/95]
112. Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht the number of snipe shot in County Mayo in each of the shooting seasons 1990/1991, 1991/1992, 1992/1993 and 1993/1994 based on bag returns submitted by tourist shoot promoters. [7355/95]
113. Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht if his attention has been drawn to concern stemming from persons with criminal records acting as tourist shoot promoters and/or gillies, some of whom have convictions under the Wildlife Act, 1976, in view of his reply to Parliamentary Question No. 107 of 24 January 1995. [7356/95]
114. Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht whether he has assessed the gun day carrying capacity of lands for tourist shoot promoters as indicated in his reply to parliamentary questions Nos. 106, 108 and 109 of 24 January 1995. [7357/95]
115. Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht whether he has satisfied himself that there is sufficient expertise in the Wildlife Service to enable it to assess the game-carrying capacity of lands; and the professional background and training of his assessors in relation to this matter. [7368/95]
Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht (Mr. M. Higgins): I propose to take Questions Nos. 111, 112, 113, 114 and 115 together.
The allocation of gun days to lands submitted for assessment by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is not an exact science and each case is considered on its merits. However, for rough shooting, on a general countrywide basis, lands which include a variety of habitats such as farmland, rivers, ponds, lakes, marshes and bogs, the general gunday allocation would be based on 1,000 acres per 3 guns per fortnight. However, if a considerable amount of commonage is included, the number of guns per 1,000 acres is reduced. The general rule of thumb in relation to forest lettings is approx. 140 acres per gun per fortnight. Lands submitted for assessment in respect of pigeon shooting and driven shoots are assessed individually on the estimated gun capacity of the lands. It is not possible to apply general criteria in these cases.
I recently asked the NPWS to review the question of gunday allocations for 1993-94. I can now confirm that the 7,365 gundays allocated in the 1993/94 season, and referred to in my reply to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 106, 108 and 109 of 24 January 1995, were assessed by the NPWS in accordance with the above criteria. In the cases where maps were not supplied, other information in the form of leases and lists was supplied which enabled assessment to be completed. I have issued strict instructions to the NPWS that no gundays are to be allocated for the 1995-96 season unless adequate maps are supplied.
I am satisfied that NPWS staff have, by virtue of their qualifications, training and experience, the necessary expertise to enable them assess the game carrying capacity of the lands. Management staff involved with assessment have been appointed on the basis of their knowledge of wildlife, including game, and most have 15 years experience or more. During this time they have undergone  in-service training and have participated in many surveys of wild birds. Many have third-level qualifications in science-related subjects. In addition, the Research Branch of the NPWS has 3 ornithologists who provide scientific advice on such matters.
Details of the number of snipe shot in County Mayo based on bag returns received from tourist shoot promoters based in the county are as follows:
Figures for the 1990-91 and 1991-92 seasons are not available as bag returns were not made for the seasons by tourist shoot promoters.
It is important to note that, while these figures are based on returns from operators in County Mayo, these operators may have shooting lands in other counties also. Similarly, operators based in other counties may have shooting lands in County Mayo.
Under the Wildlife Act, I have no specific function in relation to the employment of gillies. However, the Wildlife (Amendment) Bill, which is currently being drafted, will include provision for me, as Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, to make regulations to licence the operations of tourist shoot promoters.
116. Miss de Valera asked the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht if index-linking of the broadcasting licence is contrary to EU monopoly regulations. [7369/95]
Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht (Mr. M. Higgins): I have no definite plans at present to introduce index linking of the television licence  fee. If such a proposal were to be considered all the legislative and practical aspects of the matter would be investigated.
While competition policy is a matter for the Minister for Enterprise and Employment, I understand that EU competition law would not apply in this area.
117. Miss Coughlan asked the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht if Donegal Castle will be open to the public during the summer of 1995. [7459/95]
Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht (Mr. M. Higgins): Conservation works are in progress at Donegal Castle and are unlikely to be completed until later this year. In the circumstances it will not be possible to open the castle to the public during the summer months.
118. Mr. Dempsey asked the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht the arrangements, if any, he has made for recycling old telephone directories which have been in use in his Department. [7688/95]
Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht (Mr. M. Higgins): There are no arrangements within my Department for the recycling of old telephone directories but I am having the matter examined at present.
119. Dr. O'Hanlon asked the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht the cost to the Exchequer and State agencies of public liability insurance premia and claims paid from the Exchequer for the last year for which figures are available; the plans, if any he has to reduce this cost; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7391/95]
Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht (Mr. M. Higgins): My Department, in common with all other Government Departments, does not pay public liability insurance premia and I understand that no claims for public liability insurance have been paid from my Department's Vote.
In respect of agencies/projects under the aegis of my Department, a total of some £37,600 was paid from Exchequer sources in premia for public liability insurance in the year 1994-95. No claims were paid in that period. Due to the competitive nature of the insurance industry the Deputy will appreciate that it would not be prudent to provide breakdown figures for each agency/project.
In relation to the reduction of costs, each agency is expected to avail of the most economical public liability insurance facilities available while taking into account their total insurance requirements.
120. Mr. Cowen asked the Minister for the Environment the reason the Midland Health Board is not prepared to install electricity for a person (details supplied) in County Offaly; the criteria which would deem her eligible; the extent to which the assessment of her means has rendered her ineligible; and if a review leading to a more favourable consideration of her case can be instigated. [7311/95]
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Ms McManus): The scheme of special housing aid for the elderly, to which this case relates, provides assistance for works that are considered to be urgently necessary to improve the living conditions of elderly persons living on their own in unfit or insanitary accommodation. Decisions to grant assistance in individual cases are the responsibility of the health boards who operate the scheme at local level. I understand from the Midland Health Board that they have recently reviewed  the earlier decision in this case and have again concluded that the individual concerned has ample resources to carry out the work herself and would, therefore, not come within the scope of the scheme.
121. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for the Environment the progress, if any, made in introducing national registration or identification schemes for dogs; the scheme which has been recommended or favoured; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7784/95]
142. Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for the Environment if he intends to introduce a national dog identification/registration scheme; the timescale involved; and if the microchip proposal is the preferred method. [7579/95]
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Howlin): I propose to take Questions Nos. 121 and 142 together.
I will be reviewing the dog control regime generally in the next few months. The review will include consideration of the issues referred to in the questions.
122. Miss de Valera asked the Minister for the Environment the long term provision, if any, he has to serve the Kilmurray, Kilkishen and O'Callaghan's Mills area of County Clare in view of the fact that his Department has not sanctioned an application under the 1994 small schemes programme to connect the water supply. [7242/95]
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Howlin): These areas are connected to a public water supply. There has been no recent proposal to my Department, under the 1994 small schemes programme or otherwise, for measures to improve water supply to these locations.
123. Mr. Haughey asked the Minister for the Environment the role, if any, his Department has in the naming of new private residential estates in the Dublin area; his views on the fact that many of these names are English in origin and take no account of the local history of the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7268/95]
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Howlin): My Department has no function in the naming of particular residential estates. However, it has advised local authorities that established local names should be used in preference to names which have no local connotations, to ensure that historic placenames are preserved and do not fall into disuse.
124. Mr. Crowley asked the Minister for the Environment the plans, if any, he has to provide holders of full American driving licences with Irish licences when they return to Ireland. [7278/95]
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Howlin): I have no plans to provide for the exchange of American driving licences for Irish licences. The USA is not a recognised state for driving licence exchange purposes because the driver testing regimes there do not meet the standards prescribed in the EU Directive on driving licences. Additionally, in most states of the USA, licences do not meet an essential EU requirement of distinguishing between drivers who passed their driving tests in vehicles with automatic transmission and drivers who qualified in vehicles with manual transmission.
125. Mr. Cowen asked the Minister for the Environment if he has received the list of small sewerage schemes requested to be completed in this year's small schemes allocation from Offaly County Council; and the details thereof. [7309/95]
126. Mr. Cowen asked the Minister for the Environment if he will provide funds to Offaly County Council to deal with a flooding problem in two villages (details supplied) in County Offaly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7313/95]
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Howlin): I propose to take Questions Nos. 125 and 126, together.
Offaly County Council has submitted two proposals under the 1995 small schemes programme: a sewerage scheme for Geashill and an integrated pollution abatement project for three locations on the Rock and Clodiagh rivers. These proposals are under consideration. There is no proposal with my Department for a drainage scheme at Kinnity.
127. Miss Coughlan asked the Minister for the Environment when the Killybegs water scheme will be extended to Stragar, Killybegs, County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7324/95]
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Howlin): Given the high level of demands under the water and sewerage programme, I cannot say when stage II of the Killybegs water supply scheme, which would include an extension of service to Stragar, may be approved.
128. Mr. E. Ryan asked the Minister for the Environment if he intends to provide the necessary finance to Dublin Corporation to reroof Canon Mooney Gardens, Ringsend, Dublin 4, and Pearse House, Pearse Street, Dublin 2. [7360/95]
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Ms McManus): Dublin Corporation is responsible for the management, maintenance and improvement of its rented dwellings. Accordingly, any maintenance or improvement works required at these two complexes are a matter for the corporation.
129. Mr. Kirk asked the Minister for the Environment if he will give a breakdown of funding as between the National Exchequer and the EU over each of the years 1989 to 1994 for each Border county under the headings rate support grant, national roads, non-national roads, environmental services and the allocation made under the same headings for 1995. [7372/95]
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Howlin): The information requested is being compiled and will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.
130. Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for the Environment if he will restore the non-national road grant to Waterford County Council to at least the 1994 level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7378/95]
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Howlin): I refer to the reply to Question No. 81 on 6 April 1995. Apart from moneys reserved for bridge works, the funds available for road grants in 1995 have been fully allocated and there are no funds available to me from which an additional allocation could be made to any local authority.
131. Mr. Dempsey asked the Minister for the Environment if his attention has been drawn to the fact that most Government Departments have no policy for recovery and recycling of waste paper; if he will have arrangements made to investigate this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7429/95]
147. Mr. Dempsey asked the Minister for the Environment the arrangements, if any, he has made for the recycling of old telephone directories which have been in use in his Department. [7689/95]
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Howlin): I propose to take Questions Nos. 131 and 147 together.
In line with the commitment in A Government of Renewal, my Department is developing guidelines for the adoption of better environmental management throughout the public sector. This will include formulating environmental management plans incorporating waste minimisation, green purchasing and recycling policies.
In my Department, all waste paper, including old telephone directories, arising in the Dublin and Shannon offices is channelled to recycling/re-use outlets. Old telephone directories and the bulk of other waste paper arising in the Ballina office is channelled to a re-use outlet.
132. Mr. Dempsey asked the Minister for the Environment if his Department is in consultation with groups or working parties dealing with waste paper recycling; and if so, the terms of reference and membership of such groups. [7430/95]
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Howlin): Following the publication of the strategy document Recycling for Ireland in July 1994, the Irish Business and Employers' Confederation set up an industry task force on recycling to develop a strategy for the recovery and recycling of packaging waste, including paper packaging waste. The task force is examining various issues involved in the implementation of the national recycling strategy and EU Directive  94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste.
The Government mandate for the IBEC examination was set out in general terms in pages 18 and 19 of Recycling for Ireland. The task force comprises some 20 members broadly representative of business and industry under the chairmanship of Mr. Stephen O'Connor, Waterford Foods plc. IBEC have indicated that they will submit an interim report of the task force in the near future.
A study has been jointly commissioned by my Department and National Newspapers of Ireland (NNI) in relation to the increased use of newspapers for animal bedding and related uses. The study is being carried out by Teagasc and meetings are held for the review of progress from time to time between representatives of the Department, NNI and Teagasc.
133. Mr. Dempsey asked the Minister for the Environment his paper recycling target for 1995. [7431/95]
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Howlin): The strategy document Recycling for Ireland (July 1994) set an overall target of diverting some 20 per cent of household and commercial waste from landfill by 1999.
No specific paper recycling rate has been set for 1995. A recovery target of 35,000 tonnes (or 25 per cent) has been set for paper packaging waste to be achieved by end 1999.
134. Mr. Dempsey asked the Minister for the Environment if he intends to introduce and implement a recycling credit scheme for local authorities in advance of the proposed Waste Bill as was suggested on page 20 of the Policy Document Recycling for Ireland. [7432/95]
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Howlin): The waste Bill which I intend  to introduce next month will enable local authorities to provide financial assistance to persons engaged in waste recovery. If possible, a scheme of recycling credits consistent with these provisions will be developed in consultation with local authorities and other recycling interests in advance of the enactment of the Bill.
More immediately, the Solid Waste Management Sub-Programme is being activated in consultation with the European Commission, details of which will be announced shortly.
135. Miss Coughlan asked the Minister for the Environment the present position with regard to a new water scheme for Ballyshannon, County Donegal. [7435/95]
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Howlin): Contract documents for this scheme were submitted to my Department some time ago. Given the high level of demand under the water and sewerage programme, I cannot say when it may be possible to approve them.
136. Mr. Lawlor asked the Minister for the Environment if he has given approval to the two schemes for water supply monitoring and waste control submitted to him by South Dublin County Council; his views on whether there is a need for these schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7466/95]
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Howlin): The Dublin Water Strategy Study commissioned by my Department with Cohesion Fund assistance, at a cost of some £500,000, is now under way. This study will address water monitoring and conservation requirements, as well as future investment priorities for water supply and distribution, for the entire Dublin region including South Dublin County.
 Pending completion of the strategy study, which I expect by early 1996, it would not be appropriate to approve the proposals referred to in the question.
137. Mr. Leonard asked the Minister for the Environment the proposals, if any, he has to review the Operational Programme for Transport, 1994 to 1999, in view of the peace process which has generated cross-Border travel. [7480/95]
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Howlin): There is provision in the Operational Programme for Transport for a mid-term review in the first half of 1997. This will provide an appropriate opportunity to thoroughly assess the permanent impact of the peace process on cross-Border travel. The external evaluator, an independent consultant who advises on the implementation and monitoring of the programme, has been asked to consider what research needs to be undertaken in the intervening period leading up to the mid-term review.
In the meantime, there will be substantial investment under the Operational Programme and the Cohesion Fund in cross-Border road and rail links. Roads in Border counties will also benefit from an investment of £6 million under the INTERREG II Community Initiative in 1995 and about £1.8 million in State grants is being provided over 1994/95 to reopen cross-Border roads which had been subject to closure orders by the Northern authorities. Further road investment in Border areas in being considered under the European Commission's special support programme for peace and reconciliation.
138. Mr. Dempsey asked the Minister for the Environment if he will have arrangements made for the payment of a new house grant to a person (details supplied) in County Offaly which has been outstanding for the past 14 years. [7495/95]
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Ms McManus): There is no record of the receipt of an application for a new house grant from the person named at the address given.
139. Mr. Dempsey asked the Minister for the Environment if capital assistance for the provision of housing accommodation by approved housing bodies under section 6 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1992, and section 15 of the Housing Act, 1988 is payable to such bodies even if they cater for only one category of eligible applicants for housing. [7496/95]
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Ms McManus): Under the terms of the capital assistance scheme, assistance is available to approved voluntary housing bodies where 75 per cent of the housing units to be provided are to be used as full-time residential accommodation for eligible categories of persons. The accommodation provided may consist solely of housing for one eligible category, or a mix of such categories.
The scheme is administered by local authorities who are responsible for determining, and certifying to my Department, that projects comply with the terms of the scheme. My Department's involvement with individual projects relates primarily to the provision of funding within the allocation available in the Public Capital Programme.
140. Mr. B. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for the Environment when he will approve a Cork County Council submission for the development of six houses at Crosshaven in County Cork. [7540/95]
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Ms McManus): The council's proposals are under examination in my Department and they will be notified of the outcome shortly.
141. Mr. B. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for the Environment when he will approve a Cork County Council submission for the development of six houses at Carrigaline in County Cork. [7541/95]
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Ms McManus): The council's proposal to seek tenders for this housing scheme has been approved.
143. Mr. B. Smith asked the Minister for the Environment if funding will be provided at an early date from the INTERREG II Programme for the Swanlinbar County Cavan water supply scheme in view of the urgent need to upgrade this scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7641/95]
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Howlin): This is one of some 50 small water and sewerage projects approved for funding under INTERREG II over the period 1995 to 1999. Cavan County Council has been requested to submit details of schemes proposed for commencement in 1995 and a response is awaited.
144. Miss Quill asked the Minister for the Environment the number of litter wardens currently employed by local authorities; and the amount and number of fines imposed for each local authority area in each of the years 1992 to 1994. [7657/95]
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Howlin): In 1993, the latest year for which information is available, a total of 89 litter wardens were employed by  local authorities on a full-time or part-time basis.
The following table gives details of the number of “on-the-spot” fines imposed and the number of summary convictions secured in each local authority area in the years 1992 and 1993. Similar information is not yet available in respect of 1994. Information on the amount of fines imposed is not available in my Department.
Number of “On-the-Spot” fines imposed and court convictions secured by local authorities under the Litter Act, 1982
|Authority||“On-the-Spot” Fines||Court Convictions|
|County Borough Corporations|
|Borough Corporations/ Urban and District Councils|
145. Miss Quill asked the Minister for the Environment the amount of funding provided by his Department in 1994 in grants, subsidies or by other means to people or voluntary groups working on behalf of the travelling community. [7658/95]
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Howlin): A total of £246,803 was paid by my Department in 1994 to voluntary bodies in respect of the 90 per cent recoupment of expenditure by them on the employment of social workers to work with travellers.
146. Miss Quill asked the Minister for the Environment the figure to date provided by his Department for the provision of accommodation for the travelling community, including those travellers accommodated in standard houses from 1963 to 1994. [7659/95]
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Ms McManus): The cost of providing local authority houses, including group housing schemes, let to members of the travelling community in the past has been included in the overall expenditure on the local authority housing construction programme. Figures are not available separately in respect of expenditure on houses let to specific categories of housing applicants, including the travelling community. From January 1995, funding for new group housing schemes for members of the travelling community will be separate from that for the local authority construction pro-gramme.
Expenditure on halting site accommodation since 1988 has been funded by a combination of Exchequer grants and capital receipts of local authorities from sale of houses. Details of this expenditure are set out in the following table:—
Prior to 1988, funding for halting sites was by way of loans raised by local authorities; details of the amounts involved are not now readily available in the Department.
148. Dr. O'Hanlon asked the Minister for the Environment the cost to the Exchequer and State agencies of public liability insurance premia and claims paid from the Exchequer for the last year for which figures are available; the plans, if any he has to reduce this cost; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7391/95]
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Howlin): No expenditure in respect of public liability claims was incurred in 1994 by my Department which, in common with other Government Departments and Offices, does not carry independent insurance cover. According to information supplied by the semi-State bodies operating under the aegis of my Department, the annualised cost of my the most recent public liability insurance premia payable by them amounted to £50,569; this insurance is obtained at the most competitive market rates.
In general, a pro-active approach, including appropriate training, is adopted towards safeguarding staff and the public in order to reduce the potential for accidents and resulting liabilities.
149. Ms O'Donnell asked the Minister for Education the cost to the Exchequer if the capital grant to voluntary schools were raised from the current rate of 90 per cent to 95 per cent; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7376/95]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): In the current financial year the additional cost to the Exchequer would be approximately £700,000.
150. Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Education if she will consider the preservation and refurbishment of the study cell and printing press of the Nun of Kenmare in Kenmare Convent, County Kerry, which was acquired some years ago by her Department. [7681/95]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): My Department has made inquiries regarding the study cell and the printing press of the Nun of Kenmare in Kenmare Convent, County Kerry and was informed that they are no longer in existence. It is understood that the nun's cell was converted into a classroom some years ago.
151. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Education if she has received replies to the queries raised in the ISHOF submission for the provision of a national fifty metre swimming pool; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7207/95]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): My Department has recently received replies to the queries raised on the Dublin International Sport Council's and the International Swimming Hall of Fame's proposals for a fifty metre swimming pool. These replies are under consideration in my Department.
As outlined in my reply to the Deputy's Priority Question of 9 March 1995, a project of, this scale requires very  careful and detailed consideration before any decision can be made on the matter in view of the overall capital and operating costs involved.
152. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Education if she will reconsider the eligibility of a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny for free school transport in view of the fact that the route has changed and the distance to her school has increased to three miles. [7208/95]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): Eligibility for free school transport is determined by age and distance from the child's residence to the nearest school. Changes in the route taken on any particular service do not affect eligibility.
Having reached the age of ten in July, 1994, the child in question is ineligible for free transport since she resides less than 3 miles from the school.
I understand that accommodation is available on the service if the child wishes to avail of concessionary fare-paying transport, for which a ticket may be issued on payment of the term contribution of £16.
153. Mr. Cowen asked the Minister for Education if she will have arrangements made to make equipment available for a national school (details supplied) in County Offaly. [7320/95]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): Sanction has recently been given for the provision of the necessary equipment.
154. Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Education if she will approve the provision of a new classroom for Knockanore national school, County Waterford, in view of the poor condition of an existing classroom. [7333/95]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): My Department is currently investigating the accommodation needs of Knockanore national school, County Waterford. When the reports from the professional advisers have been examined, a decision will be conveyed to the chairman of the board of management.
155. Mr. R. Burke asked the Minister for Education if she will approve stage II of the application by Colaiste Choilm, Swords, County Dublin, for a new school. [7335/95]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): The planning and building unit of my Department has recently approved stage II of the architectural planning process for Colaiste Choilm and the school has been sanctioned to proceed to stage III.
156. Mr. R. Burke asked the Minister for Education the reason children living abroad with their parents who are working abroad on a long term contract are debarred from applying for third-level grants and are treated as foreigners rather than locals. [7336/95]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): Under the terms of the third level student support schemes the candidates parents-guardians, or, in the case of an independent mature candidate, the candidate herself-himself must have been ordinarily resident on 1 October of the previous year in the administrative area of a local authority.
This provision applies equally to all candidates whether Irish or from another EU member state. The grant schemes do, however, allow the awarding bodies discretion to waive the residency requirement in exceptional circumstances.
157. Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Education if she will have arrangements made to have school transport provided for children to the national school from the west side of Clare Island, Westport, County Mayo. [7349/95]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): I understand from inquiries by my Department that there are 13 children from the west side of the island attending Clare Island national school.
Under the terms of the transport scheme for primary schools, only two of these pupils are eligible for transport. A minimum of ten eligible pupils would be required to set up a transport service.
In these circumstances, it is not open to me to establish a service, as sought.
158. Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Education if the vocational education committee site at Séan MacDermot Street/Cathal Brugha Street, Dublin 1, has recently been offered to a school in Dublin 1; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7380/95]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): My Department is at present considering a number of possibilities in regard to the most appropriate educational use for the site in question.
The site has not been offered to a school in Dublin 1.
159. Mr. Hilliard asked the Minister for Education if she has records of pupils who fall out of the educational system from the day they commence at primary school; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7400/95]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): My Department does not have detailed records of pupils who fall out of the education system.
 I am concerned at the current lack of adequate data in this area. Indeed, this deficiency was one of the issues identified in the report of my Department's working group on school attendance/ truancy.
In keeping with its commitment to address the problems of truancy and early drop-out, the Government has charged my colleague, Minister of State Deputy Austin Currie, with special responsibility in this area.
The Minister of State recently announced the establishment of a special Task Force to examine submissions received from interested parties in response to the truancy report, and to consider the measures required to address this problem.
The question of improved data availability is one of the key issues at present being addressed by the Task Force.
160. Mr. B. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Education the number of ordinary national schools in this country; the number of these schools which have been designated disadvantaged; and the number of gaelscoileanna in this country. [7425/95]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): There are 3,203 ordinary national schools in the country. There are 81 gaelscoileanna in the country.
There are 307 ordinary national schools and three gaelscoileanna currently designated as disadvantaged.
161. Mr. L. Burke asked the Minister for Education the policy which determines the growth of universities; the limits, if any, imposed on their disciplines and size; the projections of student populations at third-level institutions over the next decade; if this will lead to new university centres being set up; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7441/95]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): The position is that the Higher Education Authority has statutory responsibility to advise me on the need, or otherwise, for new institutions of higher education including universities. A steering committee was established in 1993 under the auspices of the Higher Education Authority to prepare a projection to the year 2015 of the total potential enrolments in higher education and the corresponding provision to be made in the sector to cater for these enrolments. In the context of the overall needs of the economy, the committee will also be looking at the most appropriate balance of total student numbers in relation to disciplines and institutions.
I understand the steering committee will furnish a report shortly which will constitute a major input into the formulation of policy on the future provision required for higher education. The report will be considered by the Higher Education Authority in the first instance. Following receipt and examination of the report, together with the views of the HEA, the necessary policy decisions will be made having regard to available resources.
162. Mr. L. Burke asked the Minister for Education the cost to the Exchequer of the repair of vandalised schools in Cork city in 1994; the amount of school days lost through these occurrences; if vandalism to schools was more prevalent in certain sections of the city; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7442/95]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): Detailed statistical information is not available to my Department on the matters raised by the Deputy in regard to vandalism in Cork city schools in 1994. Security of school buildings is a matter for the individual school authorities in the first instance.
163. Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Education if she will have arrangements made for the school attendance service to investigate the circumstances of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3. [7448/95]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): Responsibility for enforcement of the School Attendance Act in the Dublin city area rests with the relevant school attendance committee. In other areas, responsibility rests with the relevant Garda authorities.
I have noted the details submitted by the Deputy in relation to this case and am arranging for the matter to be brought to the attention of the relevant school attendance committee.
164. Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Education her views on the waiting list for assessment at the Child and Family Psychiatric Unit in the Mater Hospital, Dublin 7, and the inability of the staff at the hospital to cope with the increasing numbers of referrals of educationally disadvantaged children; the alternative assessment facilities, if any, available to children on the northside of Dublin; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7449/95]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): The responsibility for arranging for psychological assessment of children in national schools, including such assessments for educational purposes, rests with the regional health boards, through the appropriate director of community care. Consequently, the issue of waiting lists for such assessments is a matter outside my control.
My Department is in the process of developing a school psychological service at primary school level on a phased basis. To this end, nine additional psychologists have taken up their appointments and it is expected that a further person will do so in the near future.  More psychologists will be recruited later this year. In extending the service, priority is being given to schools serving disadvantaged areas, including parts of the northside of Dublin.
However, it will be some time before this new service will be in a position to take on responsibility for psychological assessment for educational purposes from the health authorities.
165. Mr. B. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Education if she intends to provide additional funding to facilitate the introduction of an additional marketing diploma class at Cork Regional College in view of the fact that at least 25 people who achieved merit or distinction in their certificate examinations will be denied a place in the college. [7455/95]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): The provision of an additional class on the marketing diploma course is a matter for the management of the regional technical college, Cork, in the first instance. My Department has not received a proposal from the regional technical college. Cork regarding funding for an additional class on this course.
166. Mr. Creed asked the Minister for Education if she has received an application from a school (details supplied) in County Cork for an extension; and the current position in relation to this application. [7458/95]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): An application for the provision of extra accommodation at the school referred to by the Deputy has recently been received and is being examined in the planning and building unit of my Department.
I anticipate that this examination will be completed shortly and a decision in  the matter conveyed to the school authorities.
167. Mrs. T. Ahearn asked the Minister for Education if third-level students in private colleges will be granted tax relief on fees paid for the academic year 1995-1996; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7463/95]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): Questions relating to tax relief are a matter in the first instance for the Minister for Finance. The Minister for Finance in his budget speech stated that provision will be made for such tax relief in respect of approved courses for the academic year 1996-97.
168. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Education, in view of her recent visit to Graiguenamanagh vocational school in County Kilkenny the progress, if any, which has been made toward providing suitable accommodation for the students attending this school. [7484/95]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): Following my visit to Graiguenamanagh vocational school, I have authorised the provision of additional temporary accommodation to meet its current enrolment needs.
My Department will be writing to County Kilkenny Vocational Education Committee with the details immediately.
169. Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Education if she will make an additional capitation grant to cover caretaking and clerical services at O'Connell boys' primary school, Dublin 3 to enable the two existing temporary staff to continue in a permanent capacity. [7503/95]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): A scheme of additional capitation grants for the provision of caretaking and clerical services in primary schools was introduced in September 1992.
The current terms of the scheme provide for grant assistance at a rate of £15 per pupil for each service to a maximum of 500 pupils (i.e. £7,500 or £15,000). O'Connell boys' primary school is in receipt of a grant of £8,970 per annum (299 pupils × £30) towards the cost of caretaking and clerical services, which is the maximum amount payable under the current terms of the scheme.
Therefore, it is not open to me at this stage to make an additional grant available to this school.
170. Mr. Crowley asked the Minister for Education when a grant will be approved for Lyre national school, Banteer, County Cork, in order that the necessary repairs can be carried out to the school. [7533/95]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): A report on the repair/refurbishment work recommended for Lyre national school has been received in my Department. When the report is considered a decision on grant-aid will be conveyed to the school management.
171. Mr. Lawlor asked the Minister for Education the proposals, if any, she has to expand educational facilities at primary or post-primary level in Ballyfermot, Dublin 24; if she intends to build a new facility or use existing school buildings not in current educational use; if any expansion of educational facilities will cater for pupils in nearby Cherry Orchard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7536/95]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): Within the past year, my Department has approved the provision of new accommodation at three post-primary schools in Ballyfermot: Caritas College, St. Dominic's Secondary School and Ballyfermot Vocational School.
At primary level, my Department has recently approved the provision of new accommodation at St. Louise's Junior School.
Also, in relation to primary school accommodation generaly in the greater Ballyfermot area, including Cherry Orchard, a survey of future needs is being carried out. The question of using existing school buildings not in current educational use or the provision of additional accommodation will be considered in the context of this survey.
172. Mr. M. Kitt asked the Minister for Education if she will grant approval to the board of management of a school (details supplied) in County Galway for an extension; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7551/95]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): My Department is currently assessing the accommodation requirements of this school and will be in touch with the board of management in the matter.
173. Mr. Creed asked the Minister for Education if she has received an application from a school (details supplied) in County Cork for the installation of computer facilities; and the present position regarding this matter. [7574/95]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): There is no record in my Department of any such application from the school in question.
 There is no scheme whereby my Department installs computer facilities in primary schools. Therefore, it would not be possible to accede to any such application.
174. Dr. Upton asked the Minister for Education the conditions which have to be met by voluntary organisations seeking grant aid for the development of community halls and sports facilities; and the plans, if any, she has to simplify the process. [7578/95]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): Grant assistance for sports facilities is provided by my Department under the major facilities scheme and under the recreational facilities scheme. All voluntary bodies are eligible to apply for grant aid under these schemes.
All organisations seeking grant assistance have to complete a standard application form which includes details of the project, information on site title, the cost of the project, the local funds available, the amount of grant sought, the proximity of other similar type facilities and the status of the project at the time of application. These details are required so that my Department can assess the applications received and select projects for grant aid.
When a grant has been allocated, further information and documentation in respect of the project is required before the grant can be paid. These requirements include evidence of planning permission, tax clearance certificates for the organisation and for the contractor, certification in respect of the works undertaken and/or the materials supplied.
The submission of such documentation is a relatively straightforward process and is the minimum required where the payment of Exchequer funds is involved. I do not propose to change these procedures.
175. Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Education if she will respond positively to the request of a school (details supplied) in Dublin 8 for a home-school-community co-ordinator in view of the deprived background of many of its pupils. [7584/95]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): As I recently indicated, I propose to allocate an additional 30 posts to the home/school community liaison scheme at primary level for the coming school year. This will bring the total number of co-ordinators serving this scheme to 105. The home/school community liaison scheme will continue to focus on the schools included in the disadvantaged area scheme.
The school referred to by the Deputy is included in the disadvantaged areas scheme and, as such, has an additional concessionary teaching post and receives additional capitation funding, which is being increased to £25 per pupil for the coming school year.
The process of selecting additional schools for inclusion in the home/school community liaison scheme is currently under way in my Department and the needs of the school in question will be considered in this context.
176. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Education when work will commence on the provision of a permanent school at Gaelscoil Osraí, Kilkenny, which has been included in the Government's expenditure for 1995. [7589/95]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): At this stage it is too early for me to give a definitive date for work commencing on site. Acquisition of the school site is not yet completed. I can confirm that this project has a high priority in my Department and will be progressed as quickly as possible  through the various planning and construction stages.
177. Mr. B. Smith asked the Minister for Education when the 1995 allocation will be notified to voluntary youth organisations. [7594/95]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): Examination of the applications to my Department for grant-aid under the youth services budget is nearing completion and decisions will be conveyed to the individual youth organisations and other agencies at an early date.
178. Mr. Hilliard asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to the lack of accommodation at a secondary school (details supplied) in County Meath where the number of potential first year pupils is seriously curtailed as a result; and if the provision of extra accommodation for the school has been sanctioned. [7597/95]
184. Mr. Dempsey asked the Minister for Education if she will agree to the immediate provision of extra accommodation for a school (details supplied) in County Meath in view of the serious situation which has arisen. [7710/95]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): I propose to take Questions Nos. 178 and 184 together.
A proposed overall schedule of accommodation to meet the long-term requirements of this school is currently under discussion with the board of management. When agreement has been reached, the planning of an extension to provide a residual schedule of accommodation will proceed. The project will then be considered for inclusion in the capital programme in the context of all the relevant building, educational and financial factors when planning has been completed.
 I should mention that, where there are a number of post primary schools in a centre, as in this case, my Department's main responsibility is to ensure that between them, these schools can, cater for all pupils seeking places. My Department is satisfied that there are sufficient places available in this centre to cater for all post-primary pupils seeking places for next September, though not necessarily in the school of first choice.
Due consideration will be given to any formal request from the school referred to by the Deputy for the provision of temporary accommodation to meet any short-term requirement. However, my Department has not received any such application to date.
179. Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Education if she will have arrangements made to investigate the reason the school bus is not utilising the area provided by the urban district council for the collection of children from Rice College, Westport, County Mayo, in view of the fact that the current arrangement of collecting the children on the main road is dangerous and is causing inconvenience to the residents who are mainly elderly people. [7622/95]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): Neither my Department nor Bus Éireann, which acts as agent for my Department, is aware of any area having been provided by the urban district council for the collection of children from Rice College, Westport.
Discussions were held between the school authorities, the Garda Síochána and CIE authorities a number of years ago, at which time the most suitable set-down and pick-up points were determined. These points have been used ever since and are regarded as the safest available.
180. Miss M. Wallace asked the Minister for Education if she will amend the present grant scheme to allow a person (details supplied) in County Meath claim a living away allowance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7664/95]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): County Meath vocational education committee is the body entrusted with the administration of the European Social Fund-Aided Scheme under which the student is receiving grant aid.
The vocational education committee has determined that the circumstances of the student in this case warrant payment of the adjacent rate of grant only.
The 1994 scheme applies to this student and it is not the practice to amend the schemes retrospectively.
181. Mr. Dempsey asked the Minister for Education the arrangements, if any, she has made for recycling old telephone directories which have been in use in her Department. [7690/95]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): My Department has not up to now had arrangements in place for the recycling of old telephone directories. However, we are currently negotiating with two companies for the removal for recycling of these and other items of surplus paper and I would expect that arrangements will shortly be in place for the recycling of all waste/surplus paper.
182. Mr. E. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Education if a person (details supplied) in County Cork will be granted permission to sit the Leaving Certificate Examination in June 1995, at a school (details supplied) in Mallow, County Cork. [7707/95]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): The candidate in question, who is not attending a recognised post-primary school, is eligible for admission to the leaving certificate Examination in accordance with the provisions for the admission of external candidates. It is a matter for each external candidate to enter himself or herself for the leaving certificate examination by completing the appropriate entry form and paying the appropriate fee.
In practice, many schools will accommodate external candidates but there is no obligation on a school to accommodate examination candidates other than those entered by the school. An external candidate who is not accommodated at an examination centre of his or her choice will be assigned by my Department to the next most convenient centre at which accommodation is available.
The candidate in question indicated on her entry form that she wished to take oral examinations in Bruce College, Cork, where she is receiving tuition, and to take written examinations at a school in Mallow, where she lives. My Department assigned her to Bruce College, Cork for the oral examinations, which have already taken place and has assigned her to the Vocational School, Mallow for the written examinations. Letters notifying external candidates of the centres to which they have been assigned for the written examinations are being issued this week.
183. Dr. O'Hanlon asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to the need for an extension to Inver College, Carrickmacross, County Monaghan; if she will provide funding for the school in 1995; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7709/95]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): An application for an extension to Inver College, Carrickmacross, County Monaghan is currently being processed by my Department.
An outline sketch scheme has recently been submitted and is currently being examined. When the scheme has been found satisfactory, the County Monaghan vocational education committee will be notified accordingly. The question of funding will not arise until the physical planning of the project has been completed.
185. Mr. Cowen asked the Minister for Education the reason her Department refused to pay travel expenses to substitute teachers (details supplied) in primary schools who have to travel many miles to work when they are only employed on a part-time fixed period basis; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7711/95]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): A substitute teacher in a primary school is employed by the board of management of the school in which he/she teaches. Expenses to travel to and from the school in which a substitute teacher is employed on a particular day are not paid by my Department irrespective of the distance he/she is obliged to travel. My Department cannot make an exception to the general principle and pay travel expenses to the individual substitute teacher referred to.
186. Dr. O'Hanlon asked the Minister for Education the cost to the Exchequer and State agencies of public liability insurance premia and claims paid from the Exchequer for the last year for which figures are available; the plans, if any she has to reduce this cost; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7391/95]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): The State carries its own insurance. In the last year for which figures are available (1994) details of claims paid from the Exchequer are as follows:
|Total No. of claims made||Total No. of claims settled||Total amount of money paid in settlements|
Details of public liability insurance premia for State agencies under the aegis of my Department are as follows:
|State Agency||Year||Premium||Claims Made|
|National Council for Educational Awards||1994||550||None|
|Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies||1995||510||None|
|Institiúid Teangeolaíochta Éireann||1995-96||228||None|
|Higher Education Authority||1995||700||None|
My Department is not in a position to furnish details of public liability insurance premia and claims paid in respect of Vocational Education Committees. This is a matter for each individual vocational education committee.
My Department is taking a pro-active approach to accident prevention through appropriate staff training and site checks.
187. Mr. Haughey asked the Minister for Justice the recent changes announced regarding the need for Irish citizens to present passports when entering some EU States: the States involved; the reason Ireland supports this policy; if the policy will be reviewed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7467/95]
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Owen): I refer the Deputy to my reply of 14 March 1995 to a number of similar questions — Nos. 14, 16 and 19 of 14 March, 1995 — Dáil Debates Vol. 450 No. 6, columns 1171-1173, 14 March 1995.
188. Mr. S. Kenny asked the Minister for Justice the action, if any, which can be taken by the Garda to deal with the problem of stray horses in the Darndale/Priorswood area in Dublin who frequently stray on to the Malahide road dual carriageway causing an obstruction and danger to motorists and to the animals themselves. [7213/95]
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Owen): I understand from the Garda authorities that every effort is made by the gardaí to respond to complaints regarding stray animals on public roads in the Darndale-Priorswood area.
The Deputy may wish to note that my colleague, the Minister for Agriculture, has undertaken to bring forward legislation to tackle the problem of wandering horses.
189. Mr. M. McDowell asked the Minister for Justice whether she has made a decision in relation to Longford Courthouse; the steps, if any, she has taken to ensure that the entire Courthouse is restored to county council occupancy and courthouse use; the policy, if any, she has in relation to the conservation and preservation of historical and architectural court buildings of the 18 and 19 century; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7224/95]
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Owen): I have decided to proceed to refurbish the courthouse by retaining the elements of architectural merit including the facade and rebuilding on the remainder of the site.
I am very conscious of the need to conserve and preserve court buildings which are recognised as being of such historical and architectural merit as to merit the public expenditure involved and this is one of the factors I take into account when deciding courthouse accommodation.
190. Mr. O'Dea asked the Minister for Justice if the District Court venues at Cappamore, County Limerick, and Newport, County Tipperary, have been relocated to Limerick city; if so, the person who made the decision, when the decision was taken and her views on whether this decision is justifiable in view of the extra travelling it will entail for litigants and witnesses. [7258/95]
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Owen): Proposals for the closure of the District Court venues of Cappamore and Newport are being examined in my Department. No decision has been taken in relation to the closure of either of those venues.
191. Mr. Barry asked the Minister for Justice if records suggest that motor tax evasion is excessive; if so, the figures for successful prosecutions for each of the years 1990 to 1995; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7275/95]
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Owen): The Garda have informed me that the number of offences in which proceedings  were taken, and the number of convictions secured, in relation to motor tax evasion is as follows:
These figures demonstrate that there is a fairly constant level of offending. However they also demonstrate that there is a considerable and consistent level of enforcement by the gardaí.
The figures for 1994, and 1995 to date, are not yet available.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that particular attention is paid to motor tax evasion during special road traffic enforcement campaigns. The matter is also given a high priority by the gardaí throughout the year.
192. Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Justice the action, if any, she will take regarding large scale cruelty to sheep (details supplied) in County Meath. [7292/95]
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Owen): I am informed by the Garda authorities that the matter in question is currently under investigation by the gardaí. All of the animals concerned have either been removed from the farm in question under Department of Agriculture supervision or, in some cases, destroyed to avoid further suffering.
193. Mr. E. Walsh asked the Minister for Justice the number of persons involved in the management of beef processing plants involved in EU fraud who are being investigated with a view to prosecution; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7298/95]
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Owen): I am informed by the Garda authorities that, arising from two major investigations into the operations of beef processing plants, six persons have been charged with conspiracy to defraud the Department of Agriculture and Food. In one case, two persons have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentence and the third person in the case is awaiting trial. In the second case, the three persons concerned are awaiting trial.
194. Mr. E. Walsh asked the Minister for Justice the number and cost of maintaining asylum seekers in each of the years 1991 to 1994; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7299/95]
200. Mr. E. Walsh asked the Minister for Justice the number of asylum seekers in the years 1991 to 1994; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7329/95]
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Owen): I propose to take Questions Nos. 194 and 200 together. The information sought by the Deputy is set out in tabular form beneath.
|Number of Applications||31||39||91||355|
Asylum seekers whose means are insufficient to meet their needs may receive Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA). The SWA scheme is administered by the health boards on behalf of the Department of Social Welfare.
I have been informed by the Department of Social Welfare that health boards do not keep specific records which would allow the identification of the cost of maintaining asylum seekers.
Asylum seekers are resident in all health board areas but the majority in the period in question were situated  around the Shannon region in the Mid-Western Health Board area. By way of indication of the cost involved in maintaining asylum seekers, the Mid-Western Health Board has advised that £½ million was paid out by the board in respect of asylum seekers in 1994. This amount includes a weekly social assistance payment, assistance towards accommodation costs and exceptional needs which arise from time to time. The number of asylum seekers located in the Mid-Western Health Board in 1994 varied between 50 and 180. The number of asylum seekers resident in the Mid-Western Health Board area at present is 78.
195. Mr. Cowen asked the Minister for Justice the steps, if any, she intends to take to facilitate the transfer to Ireland of a prisoner (details supplied) who is serving his sentence in the United States of America; the general rules applying to such transfers; the proposals, if any, she has to help facilitate this aspect of the peace process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7302/95]
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Owen): The repatriation of Irish persons serving prison sentences abroad will be facilitated when Ireland ratifies the Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons (to which the United States is a party). The Transfer of Sentenced Persons Bill, 1995, which will enable Ireland to ratify the Convention, is now before the Dáil.
196. Mr. Cowen asked the Minister for Justice her policy regarding the remuneration paid to coroners and the provision of ongoing training for coroners; and if she will have arrangements made for a review in this matter. [7308/95]
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Owen): The statutory provisions governing the payment of the salaries of coroners are set out in Section 9 of the Coroners Act, 1962. The salary of each coroner is paid by the local authority by whom he or she is appointed and is deemed to be inclusive of any travelling, subsistence or other out-of-pocket expenses incurred by the coroner in the course of duties as coroner. As Minister for Justice, my function in the matter is to approve, after consultation with the Minister for the Environment, the salary which each local authority is to pay.
On this basis, the Coroners' Association of Ireland, whom I met recently, have made a submission to my Department seeking a review of coroners' salaries and my Department is considering that submission in conjunction with the Departments of Finance and the Environment.
My Department is also looking into the question of training for coroners and I will be in touch with the Coroners' Association in due course to inform them of any developments on this issue.
197. Mr. E. Walsh asked the Minister for Justice the number of persons charged with assisting illegal immigrants and/or harbouring illegal immigrants; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7323/95]
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Owen): I am informed by the Garda authorities that there were no prosecutions in 1994 for harbouring or assisting illegal immigrants.
198. Mrs. O'Rourke asked the Minister for Justice the reason for the delay in the Land Registry Office in connection with the application of a person, (details supplied) in County Westmeath. [7326/95]
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Owen): I am informed by the Registrar of Titles that Dealing No. 94GY04618 is a Transfer of Part which was lodged in the Land Registry on 21 June 1994. This dealing is awaiting registration at present and it is expected to be completed in the coming months.
However, I am informed that it is the policy of the Land Registry to try, as far as possible, to expedite cases in which it can be established that special circumstances of urgency exist. Any such cases would be specially considered if details of the reasons for urgency are submitted to the Registrar of Titles.
199. Mr. E. Walsh asked the Minister for Justice the number of illegal immigrants ordered out of Ireland in each of the years 1991 to 1994; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7327/95]
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Owen): The number of deportations in the years in question are as follows:—
|Year||No. of Deportations|
The procedure at present is that all cases where deportation is proposed are submitted to me for decision. In cases where I approve deportation, the person concerned is informed of my decision and told that I will consider any grounds the person might wish to put to me to appeal against the decision within a certain time period. The person is also given the option of leaving the State voluntarily.
201. Mr. Bradford asked the Minister for Justice if a Land Registry dealing (details supplied) in County Cork will be finalised as soon as possible. [7341/95]
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Owen): I am informed by the Registrar of Titles that Dealing No. D95CK03800J is an application for Transfer of Part and Charge, which was lodged in the Land Registry on 27 March 1995. I understand that this dealing was withdrawn by the applicants' solicitors on 11 April 1995.
I have also been informed that no new application has been relodged in the Land Registry.
202. Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Justice if the Garda were involved in an investigation of a shooting incident involving a French tourist based in Boyle, County Roscommon; and is so, if there are any prosecutions pending. [7353/95]
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Owen): I am informed by the Garda authorities that local gardaí have no record of a report of such an incident. If the Deputy has further details and wishes to make them available, I will refer the matter to the gardaí for further report.
203. Mr. Kenneally asked the Minister for Justice the amounts of money paid out to each solicitor in the country under the free legal aid scheme in 1994. [7424/95]
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Owen): The Criminal Legal Aid Scheme is administered by my Department. The Civil Legal Aid Scheme is administered by the Department of Equality and Law Reform.
The gross amounts of fees paid to individual solicitors under the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme for the calendar year  ended 31 December 1994 are set out in the attached schedule. The amounts shown exclude any deductions made in respect of withholding tax and any payments made in respect of Value Added Tax and expenses.
Schedule of fees paid to Solicitors under the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme for the period 01-01-94 to 31-12-94
|Solicitor's Name||Fee Amount|
|Brian P. Adams||1,332.00|
|Henry Joseph Arigho||1,290.00|
|James A. Boyle||672.00|
|Peter P. Brady||1,307.45|
|Donal P. Branigan||3,684.50|
|Conor G. Breen||3,217.29|
|Adrian T. Brennan||240.00|
|Kevin J. Brooks||962.59|
|David A. Browne||2,800.80|
|Donal J. Browne||480.00|
|Robert F. Browne||1,092.00|
|Ken J. Byrne||889.54|
|Dermot G. Byron||7,303.42|
|John P. Cahill||2,593.06|
|Thomas L. Callan||55.84|
|Hugh J. Campbell||35,438.26|
|Earnest J. Cantillon||14,002.02|
|Eugene G. Carey||1,344.00|
|Niall G. Casey||2,468.00|
|John P. Casey||2,070.00|
|Terence F. Casey||1,002.00|
|Mary P. Cashin||984.00|
|Niall T. Cawley||2,442.00|
|Brian J. Chesser||1,566.22|
|Kieran W. Cleary||623.15|
|Catherine M. Collins||582.00|
|Paul E. Connellan||311.18|
|Mark T. Cooney||8,237.19|
|Peter G. Crean||4,380.51|
|Martin P. Crilly||552.00|
|William A. Crowley||456.58|
|Michael J. Cullen||2,622.00|
|Thomas C. D'Alton||150.00|
|Thomas C. Dalton||732.00|
|Donal J. Daly||31,351.50|
|Anne P.M. Daly||1,185.78|
|Dermot F. Davis||1,680.00|
|Dermot M. Dempsey||2,052.00|
|James J. Dennison||1,230.00|
|Patrick J. Diggin||480.00|
|Mary C. Dillon||390.00|
|John B. Doherty||120.00|
|Niall F. Dolan||9,563.16|
|Michael P. Donnelly||150.00|
|Andrew J. Donnelly||980.96|
|John F. Donovan||480.00|
|Patrick A. Dorrian||18,032.34|
|Timothy M. Doyle||113.15|
|Pádraig W. Duffy||600.00|
|Patrick Joseph Duffy||3,157.34|
|David M. Dunne||450.00|
|Patrick J.M. Durcan||672.00|
|Ronald J. Egan||12,164.11|
|Thomas W. Enright||2,679.73|
|Anthony H. Ensor||2,202.00|
|Fergus L. Fahy (Deceased)||5,754.00|
|Thomas F. Farrell||4,538.98|
|Patrick J. Farry||120.00|
|Henry Maurice Fehily||120.00|
|Pádraic C. Ferry||10,280.41|
|John G. Flynn||540.00|
|John M. Foley||390.00|
|John Martin Foy||330.00|
|John P. Gaffney||30,763.92|
|Gerard F.M. Gannon||522.00|
|John P.C. Goff||780.00|
|Joseph P. Gordon||402.00|
|Patrick J. Groarke||1,353.66|
|Richard J. Halpin||330.00|
|Anthony J. Hanahoe||3,062.24|
|John L. Hayes||5,517.52|
|Frank A. Heffernan||1,937.11|
|Kevin J. Hickey||960.00|
|Helen M. Hoare||240.00|
|Thomas E. Honan||1,049.32|
|Paul G. Horan||469.44|
|Anne L. Horgan||10,831.32|
|Kevin M. Houlihan||2,040.50|
|Harry P. Hunt||3,852.00|
|Brendan F. Hyland||150.00|
|Joseph M. Jordan||14,697.51|
|John J. Joy||8,582.74|
|Philip M. Joyce||900.00|
|Aidan J. Judge||1,706.00|
|Michael P. Keane||1,110.00|
|David A. Keane||7,263.84|
|Diarmuid F. Kelleher||9,815.00|
|Charles A. Kelly||270.00|
|Henry P. Kelly||7,894.91|
|Paul V. Kelly||840.00|
|Redmond E. Kelly||2,942.96|
|Paul G. Kingston||150.00|
|Joseph M. Kyne||281.40|
|Mary Emer Larkin||492.00|
|Martin G. Lawlor||2,780.10|
|Robert M. Lee||270.00|
|Garrett P. Lombard||120.00|
|James V. Long||180.00|
|John M. Lynch||492.00|
|Patrick V. Lynch||1,836.00|
|Seán Mac Bride||2,174.00|
|James Mac Guill||9,698.01|
|Paul F. MacCormack||1,302.00|
|Patrick J. Macklin||312.00|
|Thomas K. Madden||1,696.12|
|Seán P. Maguire||192.00|
|Daniel (Donal) Maher||1,728.19|
|Raymond V. Mahon||390.00|
|Patrick C. Mallon||60.50|
|Grainne M. Malone||29,079.31|
|Joseph B. Mannix||5,445.51|
|Robert B. Marren||5,519.09|
|Peter M. Martin||2,349.88|
|Peter E. Matthews||120.00|
|Richard E. McDonnell||3,313.85|
|Denis F. McDwyer||95.00|
|Patrick J. Meghen||2,582.74|
|John A. Mernagh||2,942.12|
|Alan E.F. Millard||3,213.86|
|Denis M. Molloy||1,470.00|
|James M. Molloy||711.66|
|Paul A. Moore||17,515.55|
|Anne Moore Horgan||13,662.00|
|Dermot H. Morris||337,747.73|
|Michael J. Murphy||150.00|
|John G. Murphy||840.00|
|James A. Murphy||9,971.91|
|Timothy A. Murphy||1,122.00|
|Sharon E. Murphy||6,280.39|
|Cornelius V. Murphy||3,925.18|
|Anthony J. Murphy||120.00|
|Thomas G. Myles||4,433.43|
|Dermot J. Neilan||774.00|
|Gerard M. Neilan||1,264.00|
|Michael A. Noonan||420.00|
|Michael A. O'Brien||3,124.78|
|Donal J. O'Connell||540.00|
|P. Desmond O'Connor||150.00|
|Patrick J. O'Connor||120.00|
|James J. O'Connor||3,646.55|
|Charles J. O'Connor||390.00|
|Anthony J. O'Doherty||192.00|
|John G. O'Donnell||630.00|
|Sally Ann O'Donnell||390.00|
|Dudley M.A. O'Donnell||630.00|
|Jeremiah P. O'Donoghue||150.00|
|Denis A. O'Donovan||300.00|
|Daniel J. O'Gorman||466.58|
|Mary B. O'Malley||180.00|
|Pól Ó Murchú||67,521.97|
|Gregory F. O'Neill||3,654.21|
|Colm Ó Riain||3,060.88|
|Anthony C. Pendred||17,622.00|
|John J. Quinn||10,477.03|
|Patrick J. Reidy||2,410.70|
|John A. Reidy||120.00|
|Peter T. Reilly||12,608.79|
|Mary T. Ronayne||660.00|
|Patrick J. Ryan||332.88|
|James C. Shannon||3,648.00|
|Diarmuid Hugh Sheridan||5,048.90|
|Myles P. Shevlin||1,182.91|
|William A. Stokes||886.80|
|James V. Walsh||106.58|
|Maurice H. Walsh||17,251.91|
|John J. Waters||1,164.00|
|John P. Whelan||1,220.00|
|Philip B. White||1,080.00|
|Fachtna J. Whittle||11,001.15|
|Alan R. Wilkie||150.00|
204. Mr. Ellis asked the Minister for Justice if she will have arrangements made to complete Land Registry dealings for a person (details supplied) in County Roscommon. [7452/95]
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Owen): I am informed by the Registrar of Titles that registration in respect of the applicant referred to by the Deputy was completed on 26 January, 1994. The new Folio Number is 14240F County Roscommon.
205. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Justice the proposals, if any, she has to improve accommodation at Thomastown Garda Station in County Kilkenny. [7482/95]
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Owen): It is proposed to provide a new Garda District Headquarters at Thomastown. The Office of Public Works has been requested to pursue the acquisition of a site for the new station as it is considered that Garda requirements for a new building cannot be accommodated on the existing station site.
206. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Justice the plans, if any, she has to provide a new Garda Station at Castlecomer in County Kilkenny. [7483/95]
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Owen): It is proposed to build a new Garda Station at Castlecomer. A suitable site has been identified and the Office of Public Works is currently finalising its purchase.
207. Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Justice the outcome of the inquiry into the alleged involvement of gardaí in accepting payments for passports given to Chinese applicants. [7504/95]
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Owen): I am informed by the Garda authorities that the matter in question was investigated by the gardaí and files referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions who directed in March 1992 that no prosecution should take place. The gardaí concerned were transferred to other duties and have instituted legal proceedings in that regard. These proceedings are pending.
208. Mr. M. McDowell asked the Minister for Justice the reason for the delay in the commencement of prosecutions arising from a robbery (details supplied) in Sandymount, Dublin 4, on 3 August 1994; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7531/95]
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Owen): I am informed by the Garda authorities that two persons were charged in Dublin District Court on 5 August 1994, arising from the incident in question. On 18 August, the accused appeared before Dublin District Court — they had previously been before the Court on 11 August — and both elected to go forward to trial.
A preliminary file was forwarded by gardaí to the Director of Public Prosecutions on 17 September. A completed investigation file was forwarded to the DPP on 13 October. Any delay which may have occured in submitting these files was due to the absence on sick leave of the investigating Garda — who had been injured — from 25 August to 27 September. I will be pursuing this aspect of the matter further with the Garda authorities.
The directions of the DPP were received on 31 March 1995. Before the directions had been received, however, the case was dismissed on 3 November 1994, due to the failure to produce a Book of Evidence by that date. The DPP has directed that one of the two persons should be recharged and this is due to take place on 25 April. The second person is not being recharged due to lack of evidence.
209. Mr. T. Kitt asked the Minister for Justice if the Garda consider the case of the Tallaght Two to be closed; and if they are seeking anybody else in connection with the crime. [7604/95]
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Owen): I am informed by the Garda authorities that, while the case remains open, they are not pursuing any particular line of inquiry at this moment in time.
210. Mr. E. Ryan asked the Minister for Justice when the prison statistics for each of the years 1992 to 1994 will be published. [7663/95]
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Owen): The annual reports on prisons and places of detention set out statistics on prison committals. The report in respect of the year 1992 was published recently. Statistics in relation to 1993 and 1994 are being compiled at present and it is intended to publish both reports this year.
211. Mr. Gregroy asked the Minister for Justice if the gardaí were in pursuit of a car in which a person (details supplied) in Dublin 1 died when it crashed on 24 November 1993, while in transit from Mountjoy prison. [7680/95]
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Owen): I have referred the Deputy's question to the Garda authorities and they have supplied the following information by way of response. On 24 November 1993, at 1.10 a.m., gardaí, who were driving along North Circular Road, had their attention drawn to a Nissan 200 SX motor vehicle, bearing registration number 89 MN 767, which came towards them from Portland Street North. According to the Garda report, the Garda patrol car turned around and caught up with the other vehicle at the junction of North Circular Road and Russell Street where it had stopped.
The occupants of the car in question saw the patrol car and took off at high speed into Russell Street. The patrol car, according to the Garda report, followed it at safe distance without increasing speed. The vehicle in question continued at high speed along Russell Street and Jones Road and, at the junction of Jones Road and Clonliffe Road, drove through the red traffic light and collided with a lamp post on Clonliffe Road. One of the occupants of the car  died later that day and the other — the person named by the Deputy — died four months later on 28 March 1994.
While the Garda patrol car had seen the vehicle in question prior to the accident, it was not, according to the Garda report, in immediate pursuit of the vehicle and came upon the accident a short time later.
The motor vehicle bearing registration number 89 MN 767 had been the subject of an unauthorised taking from Orwell Road, Rathgar, on the 14 November 1993.
212. Mr. Dempsey asked the Minister for Justice the arrangements, if any, she has made for recycling old telephone directories which have been in use in her Department. [7691/95]
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Owen): My Department has not made any specific arrangements for the recycling of old telephone directories. However in some cases, for example my Department's Head Office, old directories are disposed of with the general non-confidential waste paper, which is sent for shredding and subsequent recycling.
213. Dr. O'Hanlon asked the Minister for Justice the cost to the Exchequer and State agencies of public liability insurance premia and claims paid from the Exchequer for the last year for which figures are available; the plans, if any she has to reduce this cost; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7391/95]
Minister for Justice (Mrs. Owen): My Department, in line with the practice in other Government Departments, does not incur any costs in respect of the payment of public liability insurance premia. With regard to the question of claims made against my Department, I would refer the Deputy to my reply to Question No. 149 of 31 January 1995 — Official Report Vol. 448 Cols. 687 to 690 — where details of claims for negligence and nuisance against my Department are set out.
The question of finding ways of reducing the costs of claims paid from the Exchequer is under examination at present.
214. Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Social Welfare when the new free travel arrangements regarding Northern Ireland will be implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7249/95]
Minister for Social Welfare (Proinsias De Rossa): Under the free cross-border travel concession announced in the budget, adults holding the appropriate passes from my Department or from the Northern Ireland authorities will be given free travel when making cross-Border journeys in either direction. It is intended that the new arrangements will come into operation on or about 1 July 1995. Full details will be announced when the necessary arrangements have been finalised with the transport companies concerned.
215. Mr. H. Byrne asked the Minister for Social Welfare the date of application and the reason for the lack of progress to date on an application for a living alone allowance for a person (details supplied) in County Wexford: and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7262/95]
Minister for Social Welfare (Proinsias De Rossa): The conditions for receipt of a living alone allowance are set out in the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 1993. Only people who are living alone, who are 66 years or over and who are in receipt of certain types of pensions from my Department qualify for this allowance. Unlike the free schemes, the  living alone allowance is a statutory scheme.
The person concerned applied for a living alone allowance in early March 1995. He received a UK retirement pension but is not entitled to any relevant pension from my Department. As he does not satisfy the statutory conditions for a living alone allowance, his application was refused. He was notified of this decision on 23 March 1995. However the person concerned is in receipt of a free travel pass, free electricity allowance, free telephone rental allowance and fuel allowance.
216. Mr. H. Byrne asked the Minister for Social Welfare if his attention has been drawn to the situation whereby a person is entitled to unemployment assistance and unemployment benefit until the day before they are 66, but are not entitled to a contributory old age pension until the Friday following the date on which they become 66; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7289/95]
Minister for Social Welfare (Proinsias De Rossa): The situation is as set out in the question and is determined by the governing legislation. To change the situation would require changes to legislation and would involve cost consideration. I will have the matter examined.
217. Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Social Welfare whether investigations were undertaken or convictions obtained arising from individuals obtaining social welfare entitlements while acting as gillies for tourist shoot promoters during each of the last five years. [7352/95]
Minister for Social Welfare (Proinsias De Rossa): Investigations were undertaken in the past five years in two cases where individuals, in receipt of social welfare payments, were acting as gillies. The investigations took place in 1991 and 1994 respectively. In both cases the  investigations resulted in a reassessment of the entitlements of the individuals concerned. One of the cases is the subject of an appeal at present.
No conviction has been obtained against any person for drawing social welfare payments while being employed as a gillie in the past five years.
218. Mr. Hilliard asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason £60 million was included in the 1995 budget for payment of equal treatment arrears but not the further £140 million for the same purpose recently announced by him, thereby bringing the total payment to £200 million. [7398/95]
219. Mr. Hilliard asked the Minister for Social Welfare when he intends to provide the £40 million balance due in payment of equal treatment arrears. [7399/95]
220. Mr. Hilliard asked the Minister for Social Welfare with reference to the £50 million which was combined with a further £10 million and included in the 1995 budget to pay the equal treatment arrears, if this was the first time money was withdrawn from the social insurance fund. [7401/95]
Minister for Social Welfare (Proinsias De Rossa): It is proposed to take Questions Nos. 218 to 220, inclusive, together.
As announced by the Minister for Finance in his Budget Statement of 8 February, 1995, the provision of £60 million was made as a first step this year towards the cost of equal treatment payments pending consideration by the Government of the oral judgment of the High Court of 3 February 1995 and the subsequent approved judgment of 20 February 1995.
The cost of the arrears payments required in accordance with the Court's decision is estimated at £260 million of which up to £200 million will be paid by  the end of 1995. The remaining £60 million will be paid from January 1996 onwards over as short a period as possible.
Equal treatment arrears payments, because of their association with basic social insurance benefits, have in the past been charged against the Social Insurance Fund. Similarly, the estimated £200 million to be paid this year, will also be charged to the Social Insurance Fund.
Section 30 of the Social Welfare (Consolidation) Act, 1993, provides that the cost of social insurance benefits shall be met out of the Social Insurance Fund. The fund is financed by social insurance contributions made by employers, employees and the self-employed, and by the Exchequer to the extent that contribution income is not adequate to meet expenditure. The fund has always needed an Exchequer contribution. This contribution has now been increased to meet the additional £140 million required this year.
221. Mr. Dempsey asked the Minister for Social Welfare the arrangements, if any, he has made for recycling old telephone directories which have been in use in his Department. [7692/95]
Minister for Social Welfare (Proinsias De Rossa): A significant amount of the waste paper produced by my Department is sent for recycling each year. In excess of 400 tons of waste paper was disposed of in this manner in 1994 and this total included some telephone directories. The arrangements for the disposal of used telephone directories are being reviewed to see if the number of directories sent for recycling can be increased.
222. Dr. O'Hanlon asked the Minister for Social Welfare the cost to the Exchequer and State agencies of public liability insurance premia and claims paid from the Exchequer for the last year for which figures are available; the plans, if any he has to reduce this cost; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7391/95]
Minister for Social Welfare (Proinsias De Rossa): Public liability and employer's liability premia are not normally paid by Government Departments as it is usual for the Exchequer to carry its own insurance. However, it was considered prudent to arrange such cover for the students' summer jobs scheme in 1994 at a cost of £91,000 for the 9,000 students who participated. The cost to the Exchequer in 1994 of settling claims by public and staff for compensation against the Department was £26,000.
The cost in 1994 of public liability and employer's liability insurance premia for the two small State agencies under the aegis of my Department was £352.
A Health and Safety Committee operates within the Department. It seeks to identify hazards in the Department's workplaces, to advise on how the risk from hazards might be minimised and to promote the fullest awareness of health and safety throughout the Department.
223. Mr. Dempsey asked the Minister for Tourism and Trade the arrangements, if any, he has made for recycling old telephone directories which have been in use in his Department. [7693/95]
Minister for Tourism and Trade (Mr. E. Kenny): Old telephone directories from my Department are delivered to a paper recycling company.
224. Mr. Killeen asked the Minister for Tourism and Trade the plans, if any, he has to introduce a promotion similar to the Vienna Card in this country. [7723/95]
Minister for Tourism and Trade (Mr. E. Kenny): The Vienna Card is a three day ticket for public transport in Vienna that can be purchased in hotels and tourist offices. The card also offers discounts at retail outlets, museums and other visitor attractions.
Bord Fáilte does operate a season extension bonus voucher scheme which offers a range of discounts on shopping, reduced admission charges and coach touring and day trip sightseeing concessions. Details and conditions of the various shopping discounts and admission concessions are a matter for Bord Fáilte in conjunction with participating properties. I have no direct responsibility in relation to the operation of the discount voucher scheme.
225. Dr. O'Hanlon asked the Minister for Tourism and Trade the cost to the Exchequer and State agencies of public liability insurance premia and claims paid from the Exchequer for the last year for which figures are available; the plans, if any he has to reduce this cost; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7391/95]
Minister for Tourism and Trade (Mr. E. Kenny): In general, the State carries its own public liability risk. Consequently, my Department does not pay public liability insurance premia. There have been no claims against my Department since it was established in January 1993. With regard to the semi-State bodies under the aegis of my Department, insurance expenditure in this area is a matter for the bodies concerned. I do not have any function in the matter.
226. Mr. E. Walsh asked the Minister for Enterprise and Employment the number of investigations into the affairs of beef processing companies sought under sections 7 and 8 of the Companies Act, 1990, during each of the years 1990 to 1994; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7300/95]
Minister for Enterprise and Employment (Mr. R. Bruton): The Deputy will be aware that the appointment of inspectors and the carrying out of investigations under section 7 of the Companies Act, 1990, are matters which fall under the aegis of the courts for which I have no responsibility.
Section 8 of the Companies Act, 1990, provides that the court may, on the application of the Minister, appoint one or more inspectors to investigate the affairs of a company in cetain specified circumstances.
227. Mr. Dempsey asked the Minister for Enterprise and Employment if the Industrial Development Authority has any advisory, research or funding role in paper recycling. [7428/95]
Minister for Enterprise and Employment (Mr. R. Bruton): Forbairt provides grant assistance for projects where the collected recycled material is used to produce products in a traded sector which are commercially viable. The feasibility study grant programme provides support to investigate market opportunities for recycled products.
The Industrial Development Agencies do not have an advisory, research or funding role in paper recycling. The general issue of recycling other than assistance for a commercially viable project is a matter for the Department of the Environment. In this connection the main instrument at national level for supporting development of recycling facilities generally is the solid waste management sub-programme of the Operational Programme for Environmental Services 1994-99, which is being administered by that Department.
228. Mr. Hilliard asked the Minister for Enterprise and Employment if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the FÁS community employment and other schemes are now seriously threatened in view of the fact that unions are not approving the schemes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7596/95]
Minister for Enterprise and Employment (Mr. R. Bruton): I am not aware of any threat to Community Employment or FÁS Programmes arising from the unions not approving schemes. From time to time difficulties arise with individual projects because of the nature of a specific project. I am not aware of any such difficulties at the moment. If the Deputy is aware of problems with a specific project and he lets me have the details I will have the matter investigated.
229. Mr. Dempsey asked the Minister for Enterprise and Employment the arrangements, if any, he has made for recycling old telephone directories which have been in use in his Department. [7694/95]
Minister for Enterprise and Employment (Mr. R. Bruton): My Department has a policy of recycling used telephone directories, whereby the directories are collected and sent to be recycled. This exercise is currently ongoing in my Department.
230. Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Enterprise and Employment the progress, if any, which has been made in relation to establishing a FÁS Users Council; if the terms of reference of the proposed Council or the composition of it has yet been agreed; the time scale envisaged in establishing the Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7724/95]
Minister for Enterprise and Employment (Mr. R. Bruton): I am pleased to  inform the Deputy that preliminary discussions have taken place between my Department and FÁS and also between FÁS and certain representative bodies about possible approaches that would give FÁS clients a greater say in the organisation's programmes and services.
Among the issues which need to be determined are whether any new arrangement should be centrally or regionally based and whether one set of arrangements would be appropriate given the diverse range of clients that use FÁS services. In this regard account will be taken of the relevant recommendations made recently by the National Economic and Social Forum in its Report No. 6 “Quality Delivery of Social Services”. I hope to be in a position to announce a decision regarding the matter in the near future.
231. Dr. O'Hanlon asked the Minister for Enterprise and Employment the cost to the Exchequer and State agencies of public liability insurance premia and claims paid from the Exchequer for the last year for which figures are available; the plans, if any he has to reduce this cost; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7391/95]
Minister for Enterprise and Employment (Mr. R. Bruton): In general, the State adopts a policy of accepting the risk of public liability claims. Consequently, my Department does not pay for public liability insurance and there is no premia cost as a result.
No public liability claims were paid by my Department in 1994.
In relation to the Semi-State Agencies, who operate under the aegis of my Department, the question of public liability insurance would be a matter for the day-to-day administration of those bodies.
232. Mr. E. Byrne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry if he will provide a list of grants allocated under the Leader programme during the year 1994. [7718/95]
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. Yates): As over 3,000 individual projects were aided by the approved groups under Leader I, it is not practical to provide the details requested for 1994.
My office will provide the Deputy with a summary of the grants paid under the programme, broken down by project category, over the next ten days.
233. Mr. Ellis asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry if his Department will request the Land Commission to rectify inaccurate maps given to a person (details supplied) in County Roscommon. [7205/95]
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. Yates): The Land Commission will conduct a ground survey of the holding as a matter of urgency with a view to solving this problem.
234. Mr. Ellis asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry if Statutory Instrument 56 of 1995 means the total abolition of the regulations governing the purchase of land by non-nationals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7272/95]
244. Mr. Hughes asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the additional category of qualified person, to include body corporate, referred to in Statutory Instrument No. 56 of 1995; the additional countries referred to in the regulation; and if each of these countries, including the countries of the European Union, has similar reciprocal regulations entitling an Irish person or body corporate based in this jurisdiction to purchase land. [7478/95]
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. Yates): I propose to take Questions Nos. 234 and 244 together.
Two additional categories of persons qualified under Section 45 of the Land Act 1965 are provided for by Statutory Instrument No. 56 of 1995 as follows:
(a) a person (other than a body corporate) whose principal place of residence is in a member state of the European Union or other European State which is a contracting party to the European Economic Area Agreement.
(b) a body corporate incorporated in a member state of the European Union or other European State which is a contracting party to the European Economic Area Agreement and having its registered office, central administration or principal place of business within the territory of those States.
The above regulations cover persons or bodies corporate resident in the European Union and the European Economic area (EEA). This area includes the member states of the EU, Norway and Iceland. It is expected that Liechtenstein will join the EEA shortly.
Under the terms of the EU Directive on the liberalisation of capital movements which came into force in 1990, impediments to the movement of capital, including impediments to investment in real estate, within the Union by residents of member states were to be removed. This Directive is European law and applies equally in all member states. Apart from the EU requirement, Ireland, as a contracting member to the European Economic Area Agreement (EEA) which came into force at the beginning of 1994, is also obliged to extend capital movements liberalisation to the EEA. This obligation extends to all EEA States.
The control on the purchase of land under Section 45 of the Land Act, 1965 continues to be exercised in respect of persons and bodies corporate who are  not resident in a member state of the EU or EEA.
235. Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the action, if any, he will take regarding large scale cruelty to sheep (details supplied) in County Meath. [7293/95]
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. Yates): I am aware of a recent unacceptable case in County Westmeath where a number of sheep died from malnutrition. Following intervention by the Garda Síochána and veterinary advice on feeding, the remaining sheep recovered and were subsequently moved to another location where the supply of grass was better. The question of a prosecution under the Protection of Animals Acts, 1911 and 1965, is a matter for the Garda Síochána.
236. Mr. Cowen asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry his views on the regulation which now precludes a veterinary surgeon from giving any veterinary medicine to a farmer without examining the animal for which the medicine is sought. [7314/95]
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. Yates): There is no such regulation in force at present. However, the circumstances under which a veterinary surgeon may prescribe or give controlled medicines to a farmer has been the subject of extensive consultation between my officials and organisations representing all interests involved in the context of regulations being drafted to govern the manufacture, availability and distribution of animal remedies. The objective will be to provide that appropriate diagnosis will take place to assess the desirability of using particular medicines; it is not envisaged that, in all instances, prior examination by a veterinary surgeon of each individual animal would be required.
237. Mr. E. Walsh asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry if he will make a statement regarding the ability of his Department to eradicate bovine TB; the cost to the PAYE taxpayer of overpayment of grants to farmers by his Department; the defects highlighted in the Beef Tribunal Report; and if he has satisfied himself that his Department can control and monitor EU payments to beef processing factories. [7321/95]
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. Yates): The incidence of Bovine Tuberculosis in Ireland is at a low level — over 99 per cent of the 7 million animals in the national herd are clear of this disease. The remaining incidence is residual infection. At low levels, progress in achieving further reduction in infection is inevitably slow. I am continuing to place emphasis on improving the efficiency of the programme including the refocussing of resources towards research designed to overcome technical problems and so accelerate progress towards full eradication.
Recoupment of any overpayments of grants is sought by my Department and, where appropriate, involves deductions from future grant payments.
The Report of the Tribunal of Inquiry into the Beef Processing Industry was the subject of a debate in Dáil Éireann on 1 to 3 September 1994. The report states that “the Tribunal is satisfied that the Department of Agriculture has addressed the problems disclosed” in evidence adduced before the Tribunal. I am also satisfied with the arrangements being operated by my Department to control EU payments to beef processing plants.
238. Mr. E. Walsh asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the names of the beef processing companies involved in the EU fines for irregularities in the years 1990 to 1992; the names of the Directors of each company; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7328/95]
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. Yates): The EU Commission services are proposing to disallow FEOGA guarantee expenditure in the beef intervention area; first in respect of beef intervention in 1990 and 1991 and second in respect of alleged infringements of tendering procedures for buying-in in 1991 and 1992.
In neither case are individual companies referred to. The proposed disallowances are applied on a flat rate basis; 10 per cent in the first case which amounts to a £75 million disallowance and 2 per cent in the latter case which amounts to some £18.5 million disallowance. Both proposals are being vigorously contested by my Department.
240. Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry if he will have arrangements made to suspend headage payments to a person (details supplied) in County Westmeath who is under investigation by the Garda for cruelty to animals. [7450/95]
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. Yates): I have no authority under the regulations governing the ewe premium and sheep headage schemes to refuse payment to any flockowner because of cruelty to animals.
241. Mr. Hughes asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry if he will give details of all commonage, by county, townland, acreage and number of shareholders, for which an application for division has been received from some or all of the shareholders; and when the commonage will be divided in each case. [7460/95]
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. Yates): I have arranged for the material requested by the Deputy to be forwarded to him as soon as possible.
242. Mrs. T. Ahearn asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the reason a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary who applied for the early farm retirement scheme is not acceptable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7461/95]
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. Yates): My Department has no record of an application in this case. However, it is understood that this person is ineligible because she had not practised farming as a main occupation as required under the scheme.
243. Mr. Hughes asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the lands in the possession of the Land Commission awaiting division by county, townland, area and date of possession; when these lands will be divided; and if the lands are arable in view of the fact that the additional information promised in reply to a parliamentary question on 29 June 1993 has not been furnished. [7462/95]
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. Yates): A list of estates, record numbers and counties where the Land Commission is still in possession of agricultural land is being sent to the Deputy. This is an updated version of the list which was furnished to the Deputy, by my Department in a letter dated 1 October 1993.
The dates of possession are not included as they are not readily available and the research necessary to ascertain them would take up an inordinate amount of limited staff resources. However, as indicated to the Deputy in  1993, if he has a particular estate or parcel in mind my Department will be glad to provide the date in question.
The lands in the lists provided are described as “agricultural” or “non-agricultural” but very little could be described as “arable”.
While work on the disposal of these lands is proceeding it is not possible at this stage to say when this work will be completed.
245. Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the reason for the delay in the payment of early retirement pension to persons (details supplied) in County Louth; and when payment will be made. [7535/95]
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. Yates): My Department has no record of an application in this case.
246. Mr. Nealon asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the current average delay in the payment of farm development services grants from the time the documentation leaves the District Office to the issuing of the cheque; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7583/95]
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. Yates): The average processing time between receipt of the application from the District Office and payment of the grant is currently averaging six to eight weeks for the Farm Improvement Programme and four to six weeks for the other on-farm investment schemes.
247. Mr. B. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry if his Department has set up a separate FEOGA account which can be audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General. [7617/95]
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. Yates): The question of my Department preparing a separate account showing the transactions of the Irish Intervention Agency has been under discussion for some time. The final version of a draft Irish Intervention Agency Account for the year ended 31 December 1993 was submitted to the Comptroller and Auditor General on 4 April, 1995. It is intended that this account will serve as a model for future years and that the 1994 account, when submitted, will be audited.
248. Mr. B. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry if he has satisfied himself that moneys due from the EU on foot of FEOGA transactions are recovered at an early date. [7618/95]
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. Yates): Money due from the EU for FEOGA transactions are recouped some six weeks after expenditure. The Department borrows funds to cover this period. FEOGA expenditure is subsequently audited by the European Commission and adjustments may be made at that stage, after which recovery, wherever possible, is considered.
249. Mr. B. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the exchange losses incurred on FEOGA transactions in 1994. [7619/95]
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. Yates): My Department borrows to fund expenditure on FEOGA Guarantee schemes pending recoupment from the EU some six weeks later and also to finance the purchase of product into intervention.
Exchange gains of IR£15.6 million were credited to the Exchequer during  1994 in respect of foreign borrowing transactions.
250. Mr. B. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the present position regarding the collection of arrears under the Pigmeat Industry Special Levy. [7620/95]
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. Yates): I am assuming that the Deputy is referring to the pre-April 1985 arrears of veterinary inspection fees in the pigmeat sector.
The position with regard to these fees is that my Department has decided to take whatever legal action is appropriate to recover the outstanding amounts.
251. Mr. B. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the cost of post and telephone communications within his Department over the last three years; and if the introduction of the GTN system has reduced costs. [7621/95]
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. Yates): The cost of post and telephone communications within my Department over the last three years was as follows:
The increase in telecommunications costs in 1994 was due to the capital costs of new telephone systems for Agriculture House and Castlebar, installation of fax lines at a number of meat factories and once-off costs due to computerisation of local offices. Increased activity under the headage schemes  accounted for the increase in the postal expenditure in 1993 and 1994.
Where it has been installed the GTN system has reduced the unit cost of local and inland phone calls.
252. Mr. Dempsey asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the arrangements, if any, he has made for recycling old telephone directories which have been in use in his Department. [7695/95]
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. Yates): My Department refers waste paper, including old telephone directories, for recycling by a commercial firm.
253. Dr. O'Hanlon asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry the cost to the Exchequer and State agencies of public liability insurance premia and claims paid from the Exchequer for the last year for which figures are available; the plans, if any he has to reduce this cost; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7391/95]
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. Yates): As the State carries its own insurance, the payment of public liability insurance premia by my Department does not arise.
A total of £52,700 relating to public liability claims was paid by my Department in 1994.
My Department will continue in its efforts to ensure that every possible measure is taken to ensure the safe management of its land, buildings and equipment.
I have no direct involvement in the detailed day to day affairs of State agencies. However, from information available to me, I understand that the position in regard to State agencies is that for 1994 expenditure on insurance premia, including employer's and product  liability insurance in the case of one agency, amounted to some £322,000. Claims totalling £93,536 against these agencies were paid out in that year.
254. Mr. Haughey asked the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications the legal action, if any, the Government will take against BNFL in view of the recent High Court decision on the matter; and the action, if any, he is taking to bring about the closure of the plant and to regulate its operations. [7267/95]
Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications (Mr. Lowry): The Government is committed to taking all possible action open to it to secure the objective of the closure of the Sellafield plant. Such action includes the possibility of taking legal action. The Government's Policy Agreement A Government of Renewal sets out a series of actions which the Government will pursue in relation to Sellafield. My Department has therefore drawn up a blueprint to implement the various commitments on Sellafield and the Irish Sea, including a re-assessment of the legal possibilities of taking a court case against Sellafield and the question of requesting arbitration on THORP's radioactive discharges into the Irish Sea under the Paris Convention on marine pollution. I have asked the Attorney General to advise me as a matter of urgency on these legal matters. A task force of Ministers and official experts, whose aim will be to develop a concerted strategy for implementing the Government's proposals on Sellafield, has been set up. This is the first comprehensive initiative taken by any Government to date to deal with the problems of Sellafield and it illustrates the Government's serious intent to tackle an issue that is of major concern to the Irish people.
255. Mr. Barry asked the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications if the possibility of further gas and oil finds off the south coast has improved in view of enhanced technology; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7276/95]
Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications (Mr. Lowry): Technological developments have improved exploration techniques but, even with modern technology, it is impossible to say whether further gas or oil will be discovered off the south coast or elsewhere in the Irish offshore. However, as there is now a high level of interest in the Irish offshore, with 22 exploration licences in place, I am optimistic that there is a reasonable chance of further discoveries being made within the next few years.
256. Mr. Barry asked the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications if there will be competition with the ESB for energy supplies over the national grid; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7281/95]
Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications (Mr. Lowry): I am committed to the introduction of competition in those parts of the electricity industry where it is appropriate. My Department is currently preparing legislation that will establish a new industry structure and provide for both competition in the generation and retail supply of electricity. The introduction of competition for the generation of electricity provides the greatest scope for cost savings. Competition at the point of supply to consumers is intended to make the industry properly responsive to consumers' needs.
The operation of electricity networks are generally accepted as being natural monopolies. Therefore, I do not intend to introduce competition into the  national grid and distribution parts of the industry.
Also, given the small isolated nature of the electricity system in Ireland, there will be a single power procurer responsible for generation capacity planning and the purchase of electricity from all generators. The power procurer will hold competitions for new and replacement generating capacity. Competition in generation will start with an open competition for the construction and operation of the new peat-fired generation station in the east midlands.
257. Mr. Cowen asked the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications the present position regarding the provision of cable television to a town (details supplied) in County Offaly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7301/95]
Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications (Mr. Lowry): Following a competition for a licence to provide a cable system in the town to which the Deputy refers, a letter of intent to grant such a licence was issued to a particular company in January 1985. That company did not progress the provision of a cable service however, and I understand that the town has now been cabled by another company. My Department is currently re-examining all feasible alternatives for the provision of a licensed multi-channel service to the residents of the town.
258. Mr. Kirk asked the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications if the Radiological Protection Institute has up-to-date statistics available on radon gas levels in County Louth since the survey results of July 1994. [7371/95]
Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications (Mr. Lowry): Responsibility for undertaking measurements of the naturally-occurring radioactive  gas, radon, is a matter for the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland. I have asked the institute to make the most up-to-date statistics on levels in County Louth available to the Deputy.
259. Mr. L. Burke asked the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications the evaluations, if any, which have been undertaken or envisaged on the possibility of a tunnel linking Ireland and Britain; the reports, if any, which are available on the viability or otherwise of such an operation; the possibility, if any, of a link-up between Ireland and Britain of a type similar to the Britain/France tunnel; the studies, if any, which have been undertaken, either at national or EU level, of a similar tunnel linking the two main islands in Japan; the lessons, if any, which have been drawn from such an operation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7447/95]
Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications (Mr. Lowry): I do not have any responsibilities, as Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications, for policy formulation in the maritime area. Accordingly, I have not instructed my Department to undertake any evaluation on the possibility of a tunnel linking Ireland and Britain; neither have any reports, of the type indicated by the Deputy, been examined officially by my Department.
260. Mr. Dempsey asked the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications the arrangements, if any, he has made for recycling old telephone directories which have been in use in his Department. [7696/95]
Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications (Mr. Lowry): The 1994-'95 telephone directories in my Department are in the process of being replaced at present and it is expected  that these will be recycled with my Department's other paper waste.
261. Dr. O'Hanlon asked the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications the cost to the Exchequer and State agencies of public liability insurance premia and claims paid from the Exchequer for the last year for which figures are available; the plans, if any he has to reduce this cost; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7391/95]
Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications (Mr. Lowry): My Department, in line with general Government policy on the matter, does not hold any public liability insurance premia and all substantiated claims are paid from a Central Exchequer fund. In regard to State agencies, the question of public liability insurance premia is within the day-to-day administration of those bodies and I do not have a function in the matter.
In 1994 one claim involving my Department was settled and paid to a total of £7,474, including £2,037 in legal costs. It should be noted that another public body was also subject to the claim, and liability for the payments has not been finally agreed.
My Department has had very few claims of this nature over recent years, and a specific plan to reduce costs in this area has not been put in place. However, the provisions of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 1989, which apply to employees, contractors, visitors to the Department and members of the public transacting business in the Department, is expected to improve overall safety and should therefore have a positive impact on reducing costs. The safety statement for the Department was signed in May 1993 and work on monitoring and constantly improving the health and safety standards of the Department is given a high priority.
262. Mr. B. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Defence if recommendations 11.5.1, 11.5.2, 11.5.4 and 11.5.5 of the Gleeson Commission have been implemented; and if so, the date of implementation of each recommendation. [7393/95]
263. Mr. B. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Defence if the living accommodation provided for and used by the Permanent Defence Force in all locations in the Southern Command area has been graded as recommended by the Gleeson Commission; the grading awarded by location; the locations for which deductions for accommodation were suspended for the Permanent Defence Force; and the duration of supervision in each case. [7394/95]
Minister for Defence (Mr. Coveney): I propose to answer Questions Nos. 262 and 263 together.
In relation to the recommendations at paragraph 11.5.1 of the report of the Gleeson Commission, a grading system for single living-in accommodation has been implemented. With effect from 1 September 1991 all such accommodation is classified as standard, for which a charge is levied, and sub-standard and emergency, for which charges are waived. There is a uniform rate charged in respect of standard accommodation to officers above the rank of second-lieutenant, with reduced rates for officers in the rank of second-lieutenant. Enlisted personnel are also charged at a uniform rate.
Charges for living-in accommodation in respect of all locations in the Southern Command have been waived except for the following: Collins Barracks, Cork — 22 units of accommodation for officers; Fitzgerald Camp, Fermoy — 22 units of accommodation for non-commissioned personnel.
The recommendations contained at paragraphs 11.5.2, 11.5.4 and 11.5.5 of  the report have been fully implemented with effect from 1 October 1990.
264. Mr. B. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Defence the reason that the FCA and An Slua Muirí are not reimbursed the actual vouched cost of providing an officer pattern uniform as is the case for cadets and Permanent Defence Force senior and non-commissioned officers; and the reason only volunteer reservists are expected to subsidise the purchase of a uniform which they are obliged to wear under Defence Force Regulations R5 and R6. [7395/95]
Minister for Defence (Mr. Coveney): An initial and replenishment uniform allowance, similar to that paid to officers of the Permanent Defence Force, is payable to officers of An Fórsa Cosanta Áitiúil and An Slua Muirí at rates prescribed in Defence Force Regulations R 5 and R 6. Arising from a claim submitted by the Reserve Defence Force Representative Association, RDFRA, the present rates of allowances were agreed and implemented with effect from 1 June 1991. These rates are as follows:
|An Fórsa Cosanta Áitiúil||An Slua Muirí|
The question of further increases in these rates would be a matter for discussion between the representative association and my Department.
265. Mr. B. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Defence his policy on the carrying of the colours by reservists in public parades such as on St. Patrick's Day; and the reason permission to carry the colours has been withdrawn in Cork city despite the fact that the practice continues in Limerick which is in the same command area. [7396/95]
Minister for Defence (Mr. Coveney): Colour parties made up of members of the Defence Forces carry the national colours at various parades throughout the country. Following an incident at the St. Patrick's Day parade in Cork some years ago it has been the practice to have the national colours carried at that parade by one member of the Defence Forces without escort. I have issued instructions to have the practice at the Cork parade brought into line with practice generally.
266. Mr. B. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Defence the purpose for which the amount of £42.91 is deducted from reservists at summer camp in view of the fact that laundry services and hair cutting costs are not made available to reservists. [7397/95]
Minister for Defence (Mr. Coveney): The amount of £4,291 was collected from members of An Fórsa Cosanta Áitiúil and An Slua Muirí in respect of welfare services in 1993 and 1994. In practice, the deduction is a contribution mainly towards the provision of sporting, recreational and entertainment facilities which may be availed of by members of An Fórsa Cosanta Áitiúil and An Slua Muirí while attending annual training and training parades.
267. Mr. Ellis asked the Minister for Defence the number of trips the Government planes or helicopters have made to Farranfore Airport, County Kerry, during 1992; the number of trips which were for training or other military purposes; the number of flights at the request of individual Government Departments; the names of the Departments which made the requests; the cost of per flying hour of the Government Gulfstream IV jet; if the 1994 estimate of £4,000 per hour is still valid in 1995; the cost per flying hour of fixed-wing aircraft; the cost per flying hour of helicopters; and the normal approximate flying time for each individual aircraft from Baldonnel to Farranfore Airport. [7525/95]
Minister for Defence (Mr. Coveney): Air Corps aircraft, both fixed and rotary wing, made 30 flights to Kerry Airport, Farranfore in 1992. Twenty-six of those flights were for training and military purposes. Of the remaining four, one was at the request of the office of the then Tánaiste, two were at the request of the Department of Finance and one was at the request of the Department of Labour.
The committee on ministerial transport which was established earlier this year is re-examining the costs per flying hour of aircraft used in connection with the ministerial air transport service. It is expected that the review of the committee will be finalised by end June 1995 when I will arrange to have particulars of the costings furnished to the Deputy.
The approximate flying time from Baldonnel to Kerry Airport for each aircraft type operated by the Air Corps is as follows:
|Fixed Wing Aircraft|
|Gulfstream IV||30 mins.|
|Fouga Magister CM170||35 mins.|
|Marchetti SF260||1 hr. 05 mins.|
|CASA CN235||45 mins.|
|Beech King Air 200||45 mins.|
|Cessna 172||1 hr. 15 mins.|
|Dauphin||1 hr. 00 mins.|
|Gazelle||1 hr. 10 mins.|
|Alouette III||1 hr. 20 mins.|
268. Miss Coughlan asked the Minister for Defence when sanction will be given by his Department to Donegal County Council with regard to the sale of land at Finner, Ballyshannon, County Donegal, for the purposes of a sewage treatment plant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7593/95]
Minister for Defence (Mr. Coveney): Proposals regarding a major review of the Ballyshannon waste water system have been received by the Department from Donegal County Council. The proposals, which may have implications in relation to the Army camp and lands at Finner, are currently being examined and arrangements are being made to have early discussions with the council in this regard.
269. Ms Keogh asked the Minister for Defence the current status of women members of the Army bands. [7600/95]
270. Ms Keogh asked the Minister for Defence if it is intended to encourage more women to join the Army School of Music. [7602/95]
Minister for Defence (Mr. Coveney): I propose to take Questions Nos. 269 and 270 together.
All appointments in the Army School of Music and in the Army bands are open to men and women on an equal basis. At present one female officer holds an appointment as an instructor in the Army School of Music and four females are serving in the Army bands.
271. Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Defence the steps, if any, he will take to reintroduce the system whereby the engineering section of his Department could take on temporary general operatives and craftsmen to enable a programme of upgrading, maintenance, refurbishment and renewal works to be carried out at the various barracks in the different commands in view of the fact that this system was abolished in 1989-90; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7661/95]
Minister for Defence (Mr. Coveney): The requirements of the Corps of Engineers in providing maintenance services for military barracks are served by the existing complement of approximately 270 craftsmen and 200 general operatives who are all employed on a permanent basis. A small number of workers will be employed on a seasonal basis for boiler house duties later this year. The arrangements for casual employment will be kept under review.
272. Mr. Dempsey asked the Minister for Defence the arrangements, if any, he has made for the recycling of old telephone directories which have been in use in his Department. [7697/95]
Minister for Defence (Mr. Coveney): Waste paper from the Department, including old telephone directories, is mainly disposed of by contract placed on the basis of competitive tendering. The arrangements are at present under review.
273. Dr. O'Hanlon asked the Minister for Defence the cost to the Exchequer and State agencies of public liablity insurance premia and claims paid from the Exchequer for the last year for which figures are available; the plans, if any he has to reduce this cost; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7391/95]
Minister for Defence (Mr. Coveney): Normally the State carries its own insurance. In my Department public liability insurance is taken out only for particular activities i.e. those of Coiste an Asgard and Civil Defence. In addition the Government jet, the Gulf-stream IV, requires certain aviation insurance which has a public liability element. The total cost of premia for these insurance policies in 1994 was £47,600. The most competitive rate is sought when policies are due for renewal.
 Claims paid by my Department through Exchequer funding in 1994 amounted to £3.633 million. Every effort is made to keep those costs to a minimum. Considerable resources have been made available for an ongoing programme of safety training in the Defence Forces in order to reduce the incidence of accident and injury.
274. Mr. P. Gallagher (Donegal South West) asked the Minister for the Marine the progress, if any, which has been made with regard to the completion of the dredging of Burtonport Harbour and the provision of a new pier; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6965/95]
Minister for the Marine (Mr. Coveney): As you are aware, the drilling, blasting and dredging project at Burtonport has suffered from serious setbacks and work is currently suspended. However, it is hoped to recommence works within the next number of weeks to be completed during the summer months.
As I have already informed the House, I have asked my officials to look at the overall needs of the fishery and aquaculture industry with regard to landing places and the necessary infrastructure for safe and efficient handling of fishing boats and catches. This is a separate excercise from deciding what can be done with available funding and is intended to quantify how much the sector has been undercapitalised. Further development at Burtonport will be considered and costed in this context.
Naturally, implementation of any development proposals must be kept within available funding. However, the funding available under the Operational Programme, some £8 million, is insufficient to meet the infrastructural needs of the industry. I will, therefore, be making every effort to secure additional Exchequer funding for fishery harbour works.
275. Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for the Marine the grant aid from both Government and EU funds to the ports of Dublin, Waterford and Cork in the five year periods 1975 to 1979, 1980 to 1984, 1985 to 1989 and 1990 to 1994; and the payment per port. [7381/95]
Minister for the Marine (Mr. Coveney): The information requested by the Deputy is provided in the following tabular statements.
1. Approximately 40 per cent of the State investment in Cork was refunded to the Exchequer by the EU.
2. £225,000 of the State investment to Waterford is being refunded to the Exchequer by the EU.
3. £9 million paid to Dublin Port and Docks Board was compensation for the acquisition by the State of the board's 27 acre Custom House Docks site.
1. £5.586 million of Dublin Port's figures is aid paid to private promoters for projects approved for EU aid under the 1989-93 Operational Programme on Peripherality.
276. Mr. Ring asked the Minister for the Marine if he will extend the existing season for drift net fishing. [7545/95]
Minister for the Marine (Mr. Coveney): It has not been the practice in recent years, nor would it accord with established policy objectives, to extend drift netting seasons.
277. Ms Keogh asked the Minister for the Marine the reason his Department has not identified any projects for recreational or leisure facilities at Dún Laoghaire harbour four years after the completion of the development plan; if there is still a Government commitment to provide funding for the recreational and leisure development of Dún Laoghaire harbour; and if so, when work is expected to commence. [7603/95]
Minister for the Marine (Mr. Coveney): The Government is strongly committed to the optimum development of the leisure and recreational potential of Dún Laoghaire harbour. One of my first actions on becoming Minister for the Marine was to arrange a meeting between the Minister, Minister of State and all the sailing/boating clubs, representatives of the harbour board and the Department of the Marine to discuss future marine developments and associated issues.
Already much has been achieved. Improvements have been made to facilities including resurfacing in the public boatyard. Improvements have also been carried out to the fabric and management structure of the marine activity centre. Refurbishment work has been completed on the east pier and a major new sewage treatment scheme has been completed.
Work is under way on reopening the slipway in the old harbour which will improve facilities for dinghy users, rowing boats, canoeists and sail training. In addition, the harbour management is advancing with the introduction, on a trial basis initially, of a fore and aft mooring regime in the old harbour for the coming sailing season thereby  increasing the number of moorings available.
As regards major new recreational works such as marinas in the harbour, the essential base technical information including detailed site investigation and comprehensive wave analysis, has been completed. The information obtained from these studies has been made available to interested parties.
Comprehensive consultations through the recreation committee of the harbour board with users and other parties, have elicited a number of potential development and recreational projects. If these prove to be technically and financially viable and attract a reasonable degree of support, they will be progressed to the planning stage. Work on developing these proposals is continuing.
278. Mr. Dempsey asked the Minister for the Marine the arrangements, if any, he has made for the recycling of old telephone directories which have been in use in his Department. [7698/95]
Minister for the Marine (Mr. Coveney): Waste material, including old telephone directories, suitable for recycling is collected from the main offices of the Department under contract and delivered to outlets for recycling.
279. Dr. O'Hanlon asked the Minister for the Marine the cost to the Exchequer and State agencies of public liability insurance premia and claims paid from the Exchequer for the last year for which figures are available; the plans, if any he has to reduce this cost; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7391/95]
Minister for the Marine (Mr. Coveney): As its own insurer the State carries public liability insurance cover for all Government Departments. In 1994 £72,764 was paid out by my  Department in settlement of public liability claims. Public liability insurance policies are held by the State agencies under the aegis of my Department and the cost of legal settlements is met by the insurers. The total cost of premia paid by these agencies in respect of public liability insurance amounted to £27,632.40 in 1994.
While the current level of public liability claims against my Department is not considered to be excessive in the light of the wide range of properties, including State foreshore, for which my Department has responsibility, measures to avoid such claims and minimise this cost are kept under ongoing review.