Woods, Michael J.

Wednesday, 24 May 2000

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 519 No. 6

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Merchant Shipping (Investigation of Marine Casualties) Bill, 1999: Report and Final Stages.

On the point raised by Deputy Finucane I understand the Minister for Marine and Natural Resources will take the required action by regulations to meet the matters raised. I thank Deputies Finucane and...More Button

The heads of the Bill dealing with adventure centres are expected to go before Cabinet within the next two weeks. The regulations will be introduced as soon as this legislation is passed and they will...More Button

Education (Welfare) Bill, 1999 [ Seanad ] : Report Stage.

I move amendment No. 1: In page 5, lines 12 and 13, to delete “THE NATIONAL EDUCATIONAL WELFARE BOARD” and substitute “A BODY, TO BE KNOWN AS THE NATIONAL EDUCATIONAL WELFARE BOARD OR, IN THE IRISH LA...More Button

I move amendment No. 3: In page 5, line 17, to delete “ABSENTEEISM” and substitute “NON-ATTENDANCE”. This group of amendments corrects the text of the Bill in a number of places replacing “absenteeism...More Button

I move amendment No. 4: In page 5, line 32, to delete “This” and substitute “Subject to subsection (3), this”. This group of amendments concerns the Minister's duty in respect of the commencement of t...More Button

Regarding the Deputy's concerns about the years, the Minister will, in effect, report annually. The provision states “The Minister shall, as soon as may be after the end of each of the 2 years . . .” ...More Button

No, that is incorrect. The Deputy can take my word for it that it is annual. The matter was discussed with the parliamentary draftsman and that was how he said it should be worded. I assure the Deput...More Button

As we discussed earlier, a total of £4.5 million has been provided as the start up sum for the early stages of this development.More Button

The main objective is to get it up and running on a proper footing and that is my plan. I have no doubt that is also the Government's plan and that it will support it. It should not be compared to the...More Button

I move amendment No. 6: In page 5, between lines 35 and 36, to insert the following:More Button

I move amendment No. 8: In page 6, line 4, to delete “National Educational Welfare Board” and substitute “body”. This amendment corrects an error in the text. Amendment agreed to.More Button

I move amendment No. 9: In page 6, to delete lines 12 to 21 and substitute the following: “‘child' means a person resident in the State who has reached the age of 6 years and who– (a) has not reached ...More Button

The options include apprenticeships or alternative training. The other provisions of the Bill would also come into play. For example, section 13(19) provides for such a situation. This section does no...More Button

Some of the courses already exist through FÁS or other means. It is intended to have a comprehensive package.More Button

They would be covered by the Education Act which requires the Minister to provide education suitable to the needs of the people concerned. That would apply to people with disabilities or special needs...More Button

The Government has given a commitment in the statement of 1998 which is being implemented now and which is being extended to cover people with special needs to give them the support they need. We have...More Button

We have consulted further with the parliamentary draftsman about this amendment and I am informed it is unnecessary. The meaning of the amendment is incorporated in the definition as drafted. We went ...More Button

We referred back to the parliamentary draftsman as requested and we have been assured that area health boards are covered in the legislation. Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.More Button

I understand the Deputy's amendment to mean that it will require all regulations to be made under the Bill to be made under section 4. I have no objection to that in principle but the Bill, as drafte...More Button

The Bill as drafted provides that anything to be prescribed by the Minister under the Bill will be done through regulations made under section 4.More Button

The State does not have a constitutional role where a parent seeks to educate their child outside the recognised school system, except to ensure the child receives a minimum education. The board must ...More Button

They are regulated in practice and there is no difficulty with that.More Button

I accept that in so far as I can. That is why I mentioned home education and the constitutional requirement to ensure the child receives a minimum education. The Education Act covers the other provide...More Button

The function will be to develop and introduce guidelines on minimum education to ensure children do not fall through the system and are not neglected. The Deputy will understand the constitutional pos...More Button

This again involves the difference between an elementary and a minimum education, a question with which the guidelines will have to deal. People must be satisfied that those guidelines are adequate. T...More Button

I wish to briefly explain that—More Button

—Youthreach is already regulated and it comes under the remit of the vocational education committees. Section 11 provides that the powers relating to this area may be expanded, if necessary. The Deput...More Button

I move amendment No. 15: In page 8, between lines 5 and 6, to insert the following:More Button

I move amendment No. 16: In page 9, lines 2 and 3, to delete “prescribed” and substitute “certain”. This amendment corrects a textual error. Amendment agreed to.More Button

Amendments Nos. 18 and 71 are intended to meet the views expressed on Committee Stage. They are designed to allow for a wide definition of the benefits of education. In general, therefore, I agree wit...More Button

The section refers to “the social and economic advantages”. Over the years, we have included the word “social” with “economic” in order that people could appreciate—More Button

The word “social” comes first here too. In any event, economic advantages are no longer merely general but also apply to individuals.More Button

All children are included. The Deputy mentioned the numbers in some of the schools. One I visited has 50 children of the kind to which the Deputy referred from outside the EU and 40 children of the Tr...More Button

Yes. We have made provision for it in amendment No. 18.More Button

I move amendment No. 18: In page 9, line 10, after “social” to insert “, cultural”. Amendment agreed to.More Button

I cannot accept that. Amendment put and declared lost.More Button

I move amendment No. 20: In page 9, lines 16 and 17, to delete “truancy” and substitute “non-attendance”.More Button

I move amendment No. 22: In page 9, line 22, to delete “truancy” and substitute “non-attendance”. Amendment agreed to.More Button

I am surprised to see the Deputy so comfortable there.More Button

Both Deputies are concerned about the bureaucratic and accounting aspects of this measure. Those aspects also concern me. I do not wish to take a bureaucratic approach. The functions set out by Deputy...More Button

Paragraph (c) deals with the commissioning of research into the reasons for non-attendance and strategies and programmes to prevent it. This puts an onus on the board to develop anticipatory and early...More Button

The research is to be conducted in order to develop the strategies. The Deputy's reference to growing tomatoes is a good one. That requires anticipation and everything which goes with it. With the sma...More Button

I move amendment No. 24: In page 9, line 30, to delete “truancy” and substitute “non-attendance”. Amendment agreed to.More Button

I move amendment No. 25: In page 9, line 35, to delete “truancy” and substitute “non-attendance”. Amendment agreed to.More Button

The effect of this amendment would be to create a very open-ended provision for psychological services on demand. I do not believe that is appropriate or, indeed, possible. The Deputy will be aware t...More Button

I do not believe it is necessary because the power is there do to this and it is happening at the moment. Deputy Bruton is right that the problem is that resources were not applied previously. However...More Button

I am finalising the appointments.More Button

I expect to be able to proceed shortly.More Button

These amendments seek to change the terminology used where the board arranges for the consideration of a child's physical, emotional or intellectual development. The Deputy proposes that this be an as...More Button

I have a difficulty with this because some of the representations made to me or to my predecessor by various groups indicated that they wanted this distinction. Section 9(4) states that: the Board may...More Button

I assure the Deputy that it was a specific request by the groups to whom the Deputies referred earlier, particularly the home education groups.More Button

I agree with the principle of the amendments here but differ as to how they might be achieved. Both the Freedom of Information Act and the Ombudman Acts already provide a mechanism to allow for the ex...More Button

My intention with the liaison officer is to provide a network of communication at a senior level within all the institutions concerned with the issue of non-attendance to fulfil an early warning, co-o...More Button

I move amendment No. 35: In page 11, between lines 45 and 46, to insert the following: “(e) the Minister for Arts, Gaeltacht, Heritage and the Islands;”.More Button

Its establishment is provided for in the Education Act. Its membership is under consideration.More Button

There is much to be done and quickly. Many changes have taken place within a short time. Some staff rebelled against the pace of change. Fortunately that matter has been sorted out. Amendment agreed t...More Button

Designated persons are already provided for in the Bill in the form of educational welfare officers who will be in the best position to deal with individual cases and assess the needs of children and ...More Button

The Deputy is trying to ensure there will be integration when required.More Button

The educational welfare officer will be in the best position to deal with the case—More Button

There is a need to ensure integration, for people to come together in a team to integrate the services available. Such a process has been initiated. The key person will be the educational welfare offi...More Button

The provision is there for designated officers – educational welfare officers in schools – who are best placed to deal with individual cases, to assess the needs of children. There is sufficient provi...More Button

I appreciate the points made by Deputies about the importance of a school working within its environment and having the support of all the different people who live there. We can see it happening and,...More Button

There was no obligation on it to do that.More Button

Education (Welfare) Bill, 1999 [ Seanad ] : Report Stage (Resumed).

I accept the points made by Deputies about the importance of locating schools within a local network of other service providers, voluntary groups and other local agencies. In that sense, I agree with ...More Button

I meant to say section 21.More Button

Yes.More Button

The Minister is empowered to give a direction and not just send a letter. I have given an undertaking to do that and I will do so once the Bill is passed. Amendment put. Tá More Button

My intention in providing for the appointment of educational welfare officers is that they will perform a number of functions relating to school attendance and will, in doing so, liaise with individua...More Button

The officers will be local but there will be a national structure. I am considering the entire structure of the Department with a view to localising and regionalising it. We have held discussions with...More Button

I did not say that.More Button

The service will be a national one.More Button

We will have liaison officers and welfare officers. Welfare officers will deal with individual schools on the ground and the liaison officers will co-ordinate the networks in local areas. The service ...More Button

I could not provide the figure off-hand. Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.More Button

This will be largely a management and executive function and it is envisaged that many directions will be issued. I would not have any problem, given sufficient time, with putting the group of directi...More Button

A direction will be available if it is required. However, there will be a section dealing with such directions and one would probably need to put them together in the form of a book every three or six...More Button

These matters are too comprehensive and detailed and they relate to management. We should not be obliged to do that every time such a direction is made. Apart from the fact that it would clutter up th...More Button

The alternative is for the Deputy to become Minister and he can then deal with the day to day operations. These are part of the day to day operations.More Button

There is a difference. This is an agency of my Department, not an independent semi-State body. There will be many communications and directions regarding policy, particularly in the early stages. The ...More Button

Amendment No. 41 is a technical amendment which seeks to clarify the purpose and role of the register. I have had this matter re-examined by the parliamentary draftsman. The Deputy's fear was that a l...More Button

I stand by the parliamentary draftsman in this case. Subsection (2) states that “where a parent chooses—More Button

—to educate, or have educated, his or child in a place other than a recognised school he or she shall, in accordance with this section, apply to the Board to have the child concerned registered in the...More Button

Deputy Bruton acknowledged the fact that we have listened carefully to what was said earlier. We talked to various interest groups and tried to balance this against the legal duties imposed on me as M...More Button

I cannot start to regulate the home side, although I take the point about providing guidelines or advice and will consider that aspect. If an application has to be made to the board to have the child ...More Button

Amendment No. 44 has been taken on board to some degree by an amendment in my name on Committee Stage providing that it should not be necessary for the parent to specify the times at which a child is ...More Button

We must be careful about the child and the interests of the child. In specifying the place one can specify the house or some other house. Reference can also be made to educational trips, which would b...More Button

In drawing up the guidelines, the National Council for Curriculum Assessment would advise me as Minister. The objective of section 13 is to ensure that children who are educated outside of the recogni...More Button

While I am anxious to ensure the persons concerned have relevant experience, I do not envisage any great problems in practice in this area. I do not envisage inspectors descending from outside in grea...More Button

I note the principle of the amendment which the Department and I also encountered during discussions on the Bill. It is also in use in other jurisdictions. On foot of these consultations, I tabled an ...More Button

The time spent is also included. These amendments were made on Committee Stage.More Button

Section 13(5)(a) covers this issue and states, “the education that is being provided, or that it is proposed will be provided, to the child,”. The portfolio would relate to that so it is included. The...More Button

I know.More Button

The difference is that section 13 includes a constitutional requirement while section 9 is a more open situation in that the parent may decide. The amendment refers to earlier discussions on Report St...More Button

I have nothing more to say. The effect of the amendment would be that the Minister would have to get a court order under section 9. I would prefer to leave it as it stands. Question, “That the words p...More Button

Both amendments would have the effect of involving the board in a very direct way with the education of children outside the recognised school system. In my view, this goes further than is permissible...More Button

The difference is that the advice can be offered but not on a statutory basis. That could be seen as an intrusion into the rights of the parents. It is clear that the only entitlement of the State is ...More Button

The option of judicial review is always open to a parent at any time. I note the point the Deputy makes in amendment No. 50 but I am concerned it could lead to an overly legalistic approach to the pro...More Button

The Deputy must recognise that I have put in place an appeals system which involves a District Court judge. That is a simpler system which can be effective and involves the same legal understanding an...More Button

The operation of the appeals system would be independent.More Button

An appeals system is different.More Button

I have no difficulty with the objective of the amendment but the publication of guidelines or recommendations is an obvious course to follow. Otherwise, how would parents know the board's procedures? ...More Button

I agree that normally they must be made known. We should let the people manage the job and stop making statutory requirements to do everything. It will not be a good board if it does not make these av...More Button

As guidelines.More Button

The Deputy can rely on me to make them available. He should not worry about it. I made available more information when I was Minister for Social Welfare than was made available at any time in the hist...More Button

There is no need to make statutory requirements for management decisions.More Button

There was in the past but not any more.More Button

These are management decisions.More Button

They are management decisions of the Minister.More Button

The Deputy wants to turn every management step into a statutory obligation.More Button

The Deputy is spinning it out. We went through this on Committee Stage but he is going over it all again.More Button

This amendment is not appropriate in the present context. What is at issue are the guidelines of general application, not specific plans for individuals. Accordingly, I cannot accept the amendment.More Button

The amendment is broad enough to encompass children with disabilities. The main effort is to encourage children with disabilities in the mainstream. More support is being provided and this should help...More Button

The recommendations of a general nature to which the section refers relate to any category or class of children or an individual child. The point is that such recommendations cannot be intrusive in na...More Button

I have taken on board the intent of this amendment in amendment No. 56.More Button

I was merely making the point that amendments Nos. 55 and 56 are a response to the points raised in amendment No. 54.More Button

Following consideration of the points the Deputy made on Committee Stage, I have taken on board his amendment in amendment No. 56. Amendments Nos. 55 and 56 are essentially technical in nature and ens...More Button

I move amendment No. 55: In page 17, line 6, to delete “or”. Amendment agreed to.More Button

I move amendment No. 56: In page 17, between lines 6 and 7, to insert the following: “(f) he or she is receiving a certain minimum education pursuant to an arrangement made by the Board under section ...More Button

Every school will have its own local arrangements in this area. The amendment concerns the notification of a parent of a child's absence from school. The Bill, as it stands, provides a good balance be...More Button

There is an over-riding provision that the school is not obliged to report on to the board until a child is absent for more than 20 days or if a child is consistently taking half days which add up to ...More Button

I move amendment No. 58: In page 17, to delete lines 15 to 17. This amendment removes subsection (2) which is unnecessary in view of the fact that subsection (1) provides that notifications of absence...More Button

My amendment No. 60 provides for an exchange of information between schools on a student's educational progress. The question of carrying out an assessment of needs should not arise on the transfer of...More Button

My point was that schools might seek to exclude low performing students. I cannot accept the amendment.More Button

Written Answers. - Remedial Education Services.

Was asked: the extent of his Department's responsibility for screening children to determine if they suffer from dyslexia; the arrangements currently in place for the carrying out of such screening; and the Gove...More Button

The early detection of reading difficulties is a function of class and remedial teachers. My Department has allocated 1465 remedial teachers at primary level and 560 whole-time equivalents at second-l...More Button

Written Answers. - Psychological Service.

Was asked: if an educational psychologist will be made available to the growing population in north Kildare, having regard to a case (details supplied) if so, when; if his attention has been drawn to the growing...More Button

I am aware that there is a need to increase the number of psychologists in north Kildare to meet the need for educational psychological services and the Deputy will be glad to know that I am currently...More Button

Written Answers. - Schools Building Projects.

Was asked: if he will give approval for the tarmacading of the school yard at the Sacred Heart boys national school, Ballygall Road East, Dublin 11, to be carried out during the upcoming school holidays in view ...More Button

My Department has received an application from the board of management of Sacred Heart boys national school for grant-aid towards various improvement works, including tarmacading of the school yard. I...More Button

Written Answers. - School Staffing.

Was asked: if he will sanction a resource teacher for a school (details supplied) in County Donegal.More Button

My Department's inspectorate is currently investigating an application for resource teacher support from the school referred to by the Deputy. The board of management of the school will be notified as...More Button

Written Answers. - Schools Building Projects.

Was asked: if an application has been received to have an extension and renovation works carried out on a school (details supplied) in County Donegal; if so, the nature of the works; and if he will make a statem...More Button

I can confirm that an application for an extension and refurbishment works at the school in question has been received in my Department. My Department's planning and building unit is currently assessi...More Button

Written Answers. - All-Irish Schools.

Was asked: if his attention has been drawn to the problems which exist in all-Irish secondary schools such as (i) very few adequate text books for teaching through Irish (ii) the lack of up-to-date, revised text...More Button

While my Department does not prepare or approve textbooks for use in schools, An Gúm, which is now part of An Foras Teanga, prepares original textbooks in Irish and Irish translations of commercially ...More Button

Written Answers. - Schools Building Projects.

Was asked: if he has received correspondence from Deputy Enright dated 9 February 2000 and 5 April 2000 in relation to problems on the roof of St. Brendan's community school, Birr, County Offaly; if so, the reas...More Button

A final response to the Deputy's correspondence concerning St. Brendan's community school in Birr was not issued pending an analysis of a report commissioned by my Department on the condition of the s...More Button

Written Answers. - School Staffing.

Was asked: the action, if any, he proposes to take regarding the extremely urgent problem of teacher shortages in primary schools and the serious affects this teacher shortage is having on children's education.More Button

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that a range of measures were introduced by this Government to boost substantially the supply of trained primary teachers.More Button

Was asked: if he will take the necessary steps to avoid a situation where a school (details supplied) in County Cork will lose two teaching staff in view of the fact that these losses will have a serious effect ...More Button

The staffing of primary schools is determined by reference to the enrolment of the school on 30 September of the previous school year. This is in accordance with guidelines agreed between this Departm...More Button

Written Answers. - Points Commission.

Was asked: his views on the recommendations of the Points Commission to abolish the compensation marks for answering through Irish in State examinations.More Button

The Final Report and Recommendations of the Commission on the Points System was published in December last. The culmination of two years of intensive research, discussion and debate, it covers a wide ...More Button

Written Answers. - Schools Building Projects.

Was asked: if his Department has acquired the site at a location (details supplied) in Dublin 15 for a new primary school, if so, the size of the site; the price paid, when work on the new school will commence; ...More Button

Was asked: whether a site at a location (details supplied) in Dublin 15 has been bought for a school; if he will give details of current developments including a date for the start of construction; and if he wil...More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 220 and 223 together. The process of acquiring the site in question for the new primary school in Dublin 15 is at an advanced stage and the contract of sale is with th...More Button

Written Answers. - School Accommodation.

Was asked: the current situation regarding a school (details supplied) in Dublin 1 in view of the fact that the second-level students at a college are now situated at a college (details supplied) and the only oc...More Button

The new school referred to by the Deputy was opened recently to replace second level accommodation in two city of Dublin vocational education committee schools, one of which was also referred to by th...More Button

Written Answers. - School Staffing.

Was asked: if he will make the post of special needs assistant at a school (details supplied) in County Dublin a full-time post; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

My Department sanctioned 22.5 hours per week special needs assistant support to the school in question to assist in the enrolment of two pupils with special needs. The two pupils are enrolled in juni...More Button

Written Answers. - Institutes of Technology.

Was asked: the timescale for the establishment of a campus for the Dublin Institute of Technology on the Eastern Health Board lands at Grangegorman, Dublin 7; and if a site will be set aside there for the Educat...More Button

The Government decision dated 10 December 1999 agreed to the development of the 65 acre site at Grangegorman, Dublin 7 on a phased basis to meet the needs of the Dublin Institute of Technology. The de...More Button

Written Answers. - School Staffing.

Was asked: if his attention has been drawn to the special position in St. Joseph's national school, Skibbereen, which also includes a class of children with severe and profound learning difficulties; and if, in ...More Button

The staffing of primary schools is determined by reference to the enrolment of the school on 30 September of the previous school year. This is in accordance with guidelines agreed between this Departm...More Button

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