Header Item Written Answers Nos. 81-100
 Header Item Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries
 Header Item Child Care Programmes Implementation Platform
 Header Item Child Protection Guidelines
 Header Item Early Years Strategy Implementation
 Header Item Child Care Services Funding
 Header Item Child Care Services Regulation
 Header Item Adoption Services Provision
 Header Item Detention Centres Provision
 Header Item Departmental Funding
 Header Item Child Death Review Group Report
 Header Item Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries
 Header Item Child Death Review Group Report
 Header Item European Council Meetings
 Header Item Tax Settlements
 Header Item International Agreements
 Header Item Honorary Titles
 Header Item Human Rights Issues
 Header Item Military Aircraft Landings
 Header Item Diplomatic Representation

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 846 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 82 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 81-100

Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries

 81. Deputy Colm Keaveney Information on Colm Keaveney Zoom on Colm Keaveney asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan when he expects to formally establish a commission of investigation into mother and baby homes; the budget he will be providing for the Commission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28012/14]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan As I have outlined to the House today, the Commission of Investigation into concerns relating to the Mother and Baby Homes will be statutory and independent and will operate under the Commission of Investigations Act, 2004. The process of developing detailed terms of reference for the Commission is being supported by a high level Cross Departmental Review Committee. I have received an initial report from the Review Committee in recent days. This work is progressing with a view to Government finalising the Terms of Reference as soon as practicable.

I am deeply aware that there are people living with the daily reality of these painful experiences, so establishing an appropriate inquiry which is capable of effectively addressing these important matters in a sensitive and timely manner is my primary concern. It is my intention to bring a resolution before both Houses in the coming weeks to facilitate the making of an order to formally establish the Commission before the summer recess.

With regard to funding, I am aware of the concerns to ensure that my Department’s resources are not diverted from current supports for children and families to this inquiry. I share these concerns. A key task of the initial scoping exercise is to ensure that a realistic approach is taken to investigate these matters. Our approach should have regard to the facts established through recent inquiries into related institutions, and the general experience gained in conducting similar investigations into matters of public importance.

In tandem with the work to progress the terms of reference I will be engaging with my colleague, the Minister for Public Expenditure, with regard to the additional resources that will be required to facilitate this inquiry.

Child Care Programmes Implementation Platform

 82. Deputy Seán Kyne Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the anticipated timeline for the further development and introduction of the recently-introduced programmes implementation platform; the lead agency or agencies for the PIP; his plans to introduce the system on a county basis; if so, the counties that will pilot or trial the system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27973/14]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan The Programmes Implementation Platform (PIP) will provide an on-line accessible system that will streamline the administration of the three childcare support programmes, the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme, the Training and Employment Childcare (TEC) programmes and the Community Childcare Subvention (CCS) programme, currently implemented by my Department.

The new system will substantially reduce paperwork and duplication, simplify administration and enable the support programmes to be managed more efficiently and effectively. PIP, which is being developed by Pobal and my Department, will be rolled out incrementally and the first stage, that will allow services to complete their annual service return, is expected to be in place for the beginning of the new school year in September 2014. The other process facilities available under the system will be rolled out on a phased basis with clear instructions provided to each service prior to each phase.

It is anticipated that access will be available to all participating services throughout the country at the dates of roll out, and support and guidance will be provided to all services throughout by Pobal and the local City and County Childcare Committees (CCCs).

Child Protection Guidelines

 83. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan if he is satisfied in regard to the adequacy of child protection legislation; if identification, reporting and follow up continues to be adequate to meet their modern challenges; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27992/14]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan The Children First Bill, 2014, which will put elements of the Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children (2011) on a statutory footing was published in April, and is currently progressing through the Dáil. The introduction of this legislation is in line with a key Programme for Government commitment, and it represents an important and necessary addition to the child welfare and protection system.

Certain persons, who are mandated persons under the Bill, will be required by the legislation to report child welfare and protection concerns to the Child and Family Agency. Mandated persons will also be required to report to the Agency any disclosures of harm made to the mandated person by a child. The reporting of harm to children by persons, who by virtue of their training, qualifications and professional experience are well equipped to recognise harm, is likely to have a positive effect on the process of assessment of risk by the Agency. The Bill also provides that organisations providing services to children will have to consider the potential for risk to children availing of their services and demonstrate awareness and good practice in a Child Safeguarding Statement which will be available to parents and the public generally.

The Bill will operate side-by-side with the Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children which will continue as the basis for all citizens to report concerns. It is intended that the Guidance will be revised and updated to take account of new legislative obligations so as to provide in one place a complete reference resource for individuals and organisations. This will provide clarity and ensure consistency between the proposed legislation and the existing non-statutory obligations which will continue to operate administratively for all sectors of society.

As regards implementation, my Department is taking a lead role in the cross-sectoral implementation of Children First. A Children First Implementation Inter-Departmental Group has been established involving all of the key Government Departments together with the Child and Family Agency and An Garda Síochána. The Bill includes a provision to place this Group on a statutory basis. The purpose of the Group is to promote the importance of Children First compliance across Government and to ensure a consistent approach is adopted.

The Child and Family Agency is undertaking significant operational reform of the child protection system. To date this has included, following publication of the Children First Guidance, the implementation of Children First training and the publication of a Child Protection and Welfare Practice Handbook.

It is also important to emphasise that the Children First Bill forms part of a suite of child protection legislation including the Criminal Justice (Withholding of Information on Offences Against Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 and the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012.

Early Years Strategy Implementation

 84. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the provision that is being made within the forthcoming early years strategy for pre-school children with additional needs in terms of additional resources and supports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28011/14]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan The development of Ireland’s first Early Years Strategy for children in the early years of their lives, is being progressed in my Department.   The objective is to create an innovative and dynamic blueprint for the future development of Ireland’s early years sector and a coherent approach to seeking to improve the lives of children from birth to 6 years.

  The Early Years Strategy, which is expected to be published later this year, will address a range of issues affecting children in their first years of life such as child health and well-being, parenting and family support, learning and development, play and recreation and issues surrounding supports for children with special needs.

  The Early Childhood Care and Education programme, which was introduced in January 2010 and provides a free pre-school year to all eligible children before commencing primary school, includes a number of additional provisions to take account of children with special needs. These include an exemption from the upper age limit for qualification under the programme where a child is developmentally delayed and would benefit from starting primary school at a later age. In addition, children with special needs can apply to have the pre-school year split over two years on a pro-rata basis, for example availing of the programme for 2 days a week in the first year and for 3 days a week in the second year.

  I am aware that the Health Service Executive does, where possible, provide additional supports to children with special needs to enable them to avail of pre-school services in mainstream pre-school settings. My Department has been working with the Department of Health in the context of building better supports to facilitate the inclusion of special needs children in mainstream pre-school settings.   However, the issue of supports for children with special needs availing of services in mainstream pre-school settings remains a matter for the Department of Health and the HSE.

Child Care Services Funding

 85. Deputy Ruth Coppinger Information on Ruth Coppinger Zoom on Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan if he will ensure that a child care service (details supplied) will remain open and fully funded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28005/14]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan It is a matter of record that this Centre has been experiencing cashflow difficulties. The Centre incurred expenditure of €2.022m in 2013 and received funding amounting to €1.96m, resulting in a deficit of €62,000. Projections by the Centre show that income of approximately €1.8m is anticipated during 2014. With such a level of financial support available it should be possible to work constructively to continue services and avoid the closure scenario that has previously been outlined by the Centre.

Senior representatives from the Child and Family Agency, Pobal, Dublin City Childcare Committee and representatives from the board and management of the Centre have met on a number of occasions to explore options available to allow the service operate on a sustainable basis within the allocated funding. A number of options were considered and to assist in this process, Dublin City Childcare Committee engaged the services of an external mentor to undertake an independent detailed analysis of the matter.

I understand that the external mentor will complete their report by mid July, 2014. The objective is to ensure the development of a sustainable model of service delivery into the future.

In parallel, a wider examination will be undertaken of the level and range of early years services supported by the State in the Darndale/Belcamp/Moatview area generally.

The Child and Family Agency, as one of a number of State funders of the Centre, agreed and has made additional pre-payments to the end of August. This is in addition to previous pre-payments advanced for May and June.

I very much welcome the process of engagement which is in place and I hope that a satisfactory outcome will be arrived at which will ensure the continued operation of the Centre within the significant funding levels available.

Child Care Services Regulation

 86. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan his views that one year on from the "Prime Time" investigation into crèches, a new registration process has still not been enacted, new child care services continue to use the old notification model; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28008/14]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan Significant progress has been made in implementing the National Early Years Quality Agenda, which involves a range of actions in key areas aimed at improving quality within early years services and enhancing the regulatory regime. Additional funding of €4.5 million has been allocated in 2014 for this work. The Quality Agenda provides an overdue recognition of the importance of promoting quality in early years settings in contrast to earlier decades where the predominant focus has been on the number of places and facilities available.

A number of amendments were made to the Child Care Act 1991 in the Child and Family Agency Act 2013 which completed its passage through the House at the end of last year. Regulations to give effect to the legislative changes are expected to be published later this month. At that point, a new registration system which will require childcare services to register with the Early Years Inspectorate in advance of opening, rather than simply notifying the Inspectorate of their existence, will be placed on a statutory basis. This will require the Inspectorate to commence the assessment of the quality of a service before it opens. Inspectors will also be able to impose conditions on services which, if not complied with, can result in de-registration. In the meantime, services are being registered on an administrative basis, and all new services receive a pre-registration visit from the Early Years Inspectorate.

The drafting of the regulations required a review of the draft National Standards and of the 2006 Regulations and the associated guidance document as well as input from Tusla, who have to implement new systems for implementing the new regulations. Legal advice has informed the approach taken and I expect all matters to be finalised so as to allow for the making of regulations this month.

Under the legislation, existing notified providers are deemed registered for a period of three years with a requirement to reapply for registration within three years.

While very significant progress has been made, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs will continue to build on the actions to date to continually improve quality in early years services. The Department will continue to progress the quality agenda, as well as continuing to support childcare provision through the current and targeted capital funding.

Some €3 million in additional funding is being made available over 2014 and 2015 through a Learner Fund to support existing staff to achieve the new mandatory qualification requirements. Over 2,200 staff have applied to have their training supported from this Fund and I welcome the strong commitment which this demonstrates on the part of staff and the wider sector to the Quality Agenda. A new National Early Years Quality Support Service, employing 30 graduates in early childhood care and education, will commence providing mentoring support to services in October this year. The promotion of higher and more consistent quality across all early years services will require sustained effort involving many different activities and actions.

However, I welcome the widespread engagement with the National Early Years Quality Agenda which is evident from the range of initiatives being directed by my Department.

Adoption Services Provision

 87. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan the measures he will be putting in place relating to information and tracing in adoption; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28015/14]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan My Department is continuing work on the Adoption (Information and Tracing) Bill and I hope to be in a position to seek Government approval to publish the Heads of the Bill as soon as possible. While I am anxious to improve the legal basis for access to adoption records, proposals to Government have to reflect the constraints on the Legislature in providing such access if they are not to fall foul of Constitutional challenge. The Office of the Attorney General has provided comprehensive legal advice to the Department that has assisted in identifying the Constitutional parameters within which the Heads of the Bill have to be drafted. The most difficult situations to address within the proposed legislation are those where the consent of other parties, such as natural mothers, does not exist for the release of information.

It is intended to proceed to finalise legislative proposals so that I may bring proposals to the Government as soon as possible. Subsequent consideration by the Oireachtas Health and Children Committee will allow the issues to be carefully teased out and the views of different interested parties on these important and sensitive matters to be fully considered.

In addition, improvements to existing procedures for the provision of adoption information and tracing services, which are provided nationally by the Child and Family Agency, are ongoing. A number of religious orders have transferred records from their Mother and Baby Homes and adoption societies to the Child and Family Agency. Work by the Agency on the organising and storage of these records is under way.

The importance of arrangements for the management of these records has been raised directly with the Child and Family Agency and I have also asked my officials to examine the work that could be undertaken with the Child and Family Agency, the Adoption Authority and other stakeholders to improve arrangements for managing and accessing the records that are available.

I would urge birth mothers and those affected by adoption to enrol on the National Adoption Contact Preference Register which was established in 2005 to assist adopted people and their natural families to make contact with each other, exchange information or state their contact preferences. Applicants decide, through a range of information and contact options, how they wish to proceed. The Adoption Authority of Ireland has responsibility for the operation of the Contact Preference Register. The public attention this area is currently receiving provides the opportunity to promote awareness among women whose children were adopted of the importance of registering their consent for contact to be re-established.

Detention Centres Provision

 88. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan further to Parliamentary Question No. 120 of 13 May 2014, if he will provide a report on the work of the working group comprising representatives from his Department, the Department of Justice and Equality, the Irish Prison Service, the Children Detentions Schools, the Child and Family Agency and the Probation Service regarding its work on issues arising from the transfer of responsibility for the detention of 17 year old males from the prison system to Oberstown House; and if he will provide an update on the working group’s consideration of a solution to the position of 17 year olds on remand in St. Patrick's Institution. [27947/14]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan There is a commitment in the Programme for Government to end the practice of detaining children in adult prison facilities, which under the Children Act 2001 means all young people up to the age of 18 years. The transfer of responsibility for 16 year old boys was implemented in May 2012 and this commitment under the programme for Government will be met in full later this year when the extension of the Oberstown campus results in the transfer of responsibility for 17 year old males from the adult prison system to the children detention schools. The Office of Public Works, OPW, is overseeing the delivery of the project with the contractor involved, BAM Building Limited. I understand there has been some weeks' delay in the construction programme due to weather and other issues but the OPW and the Department continue to emphasise the need to make up any time possible in order to meet the agreed project timeline for delivery of the first three units by the end of this year.

The Working Group referred to by the Deputy was asked to compile a report on all issues arising from the planned transfer of responsibility for detention of 17 year old males from the prison system to the Oberstown campus. The report of the Working Group has not been finalised as of yet but I am aware that many of the issues discussed by the working group are being progressed, including the building project, the recruitment of new care staff, the development of therapeutic services for young people, necessary legal provisions, security planning and communication between all affected agencies. I expect to receive the report shortly.

The position of 17 year old males on remand in St Patrick's Institution will be fully resolved when responsibility for all 17 year old males is transferred to the Oberstown campus later this year. An interim proposal has been suggested which would involve the designation of Wheatfield Place of Detention as a remand centre under the Children Act 2001, pending the opening of the expanded facilities in Oberstown. The current position is that this proposal cannot be implemented for legal reasons. However, I intend to discuss the matter further with my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality after I have received and considered the Working Group report.

Departmental Funding

 89. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan if he will agree in principle to establishing a funding mechanism to provide for memorials for all the mother and baby homes angels plots as a sign of good faith to the victims of these institutions. [27938/14]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan As I have outlined to the House today, the Government is committed to establishing a Commission of Investigation into concerns relating to the Mother and Baby Homes. The process of developing detailed terms of reference for the Commission is being supported by a high level Cross Departmental Review Committee. I have received an initial report from the Review Committee in recent days. This work is progressing with a view to Government finalising the Terms of Reference as soon as practicable.

Public calls to include a range of institutions, and concerns such as the one of memorials raised by the Deputy, are also being considered as part of this work. I am deeply aware that there are people living with the daily reality of these painful experiences, so establishing an appropriate inquiry which is capable of effectively addressing these important matters in a sensitive and timely manner is my primary concern.

As well as working closely with my own officials, I wish to acknowledge the constructive contribution of the Government Deputies and opposition spokespersons with whom I have met in recent days. I look forward to continuing engagement across the House with a view to achieving all-party consensus as the necessary arrangements are finalised.

I have also met with representatives of a number of key advocacy groups and Church leaders, including the Adoption Rights Alliance, First Mothers Group, Bethany Homes Survivors Group, Cúnamh, Adoption Loss and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. I also hope to meet with Archbishop Jackson at his earliest availability. A focus on survivors has been raised with me in this context.

The submissions made to me during these constructive discussions, together with those received through my Department’s dedicated e-mail facility, will feed into the process. I am confident that this inclusive approach in the essential scoping phase will assist in establishing an inquiry which is capable of effectively addressing these important matters in a sensitive and timely manner.

I am committed to taking the most appropriate approach to establish the truth in respect of these deeply tragic and disturbing events. It is my intention to bring a resolution before both Houses in the coming weeks to facilitate the making of an order to formally establish the Commission before the summer recess.

Child Death Review Group Report

 90. Deputy Mick Wallace Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan his views on the findings of the child death review. [27990/14]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan The National Review Panel was established in 2010 to review serious incidences and deaths of children in care, young people receiving aftercare services and children known to Child Protection and Welfare Services. It is chaired by Dr. Helen Buckley and is independent in its functions.

The National Review Panel's individual and annual reports are published on the Child and Family Agency’s website and are available for the three year period between 2010 and 2012. The latest National Review Panel Annual Report 2   indicates that over the three year period it was notified of 60 deaths (22 in 2010; 15 in 2011 and 23 in 2012). Further breakdown of cases reviewed indicate the following:

  - Seven children were in care at the time of death (2 in 2010; 2 in 2011 and 3 in 2012),

  - Eight were receiving aftercare services (4 in 2010; 2 in 2011 and 2 in 2012),

  - Forty five were living with their family and known to child protection services (16 in 2010; 11 in 2011 and 18 in 2012).

  The report further notes that the highest proportion of notified deaths between 2010 and 2012 concerned children or babies who died by natural causes. The majority of these (9) were babies whose cause of death was sudden unexpected death in infancy. The next most common cause for 8 children was complications due to congenital abnormalities, two children died from terminal cancer and two died from complications of serious illness.

  Fourteen children and young people died unexpectedly from accidental causes, seven of which were road traffic incidents. The remaining seven involved accidents of a different nature including fire, domestic accidents involving two small children and one older teenager and two outdoor accidents involving a drowning and a fall. Six of the young people died from drug overdoses. In all but one case the young person was found dead and toxicology reports indicated drug misuse.

  What is alarming is that the largest number of unexpected deaths was from suicide. In 2012 nine children and young people up to the age of 20 died by suicide. One young person was in HSE care at the time of death having been known to HSE services for a very short period. Three suicide victims were young adults in receipt of aftercare services. It is well acknowledged that adolescence can be a difficult time for some children but especially those who have experienced early adversity. These difficulties present across all areas of a child's life including health, education and in the community. It is important that people working in these settings know how to identify and support children using a multi-agency approach for those who are experiencing difficulties.

  As of December 2012, 24 National Review Panel reports have been published. While the Panel reported on a number of management and practice weaknesses, there was no case where the review team concluded that action or inaction on the part of the HSE services was a direct contributory factor in the child or young person’s death. The report notes that many of its recommendations have been implemented. My Department follows up recommendations made in the NRP reports to ensure they are in place. I am happy that the work of the National Review Panel is identifying areas where practice can be improved and the Agency's response.

  The reform programme of the Child and Family Agency is extensive. The Agency's Business Plan for 2014 sets out in strategic terms the overall approach to be adopted by the Agency to the provision of child and family services and reflects a range of policy priorities which my predecessor communicated to the Agency last December. The Plan includes a particular focus on areas of service development and reform.

  My Department has adopted a cross-Government and inter-agency approach to ensuring that we deliver a timely, comprehensive and integrated service to vulnerable children and families. This will require the support and input of various departments and agencies to ensure that vulnerable children and families can access necessary services.

Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries

 91. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan if he will support a full and proper inquiry into all former mother and baby homes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27898/14]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan The Government has undertaken to establish a Commission of Investigation into the disturbing revelations on conditions and related matters in Mother and Baby Homes. I have publicly confirmed that the intended scope of this investigation will go beyond the home operated by the Sisters of Bon Secours in Tuam, Co. Galway and will include the Bethany Homes. These announcements have been widely welcomed.

The Commission of Investigation will be statutory and independent and will operate under the Commission of Investigations Act, 2004. The process of developing detailed terms of reference for the Commission is being supported by a high level Cross Departmental Review Committee. I have received an initial report from the Review Committee in recent days. The Committee is continuing to collate the necessary information in preparation for further detailed consideration of the matter by Government in the coming weeks.

The appropriate model, including matters such as the expertise required within the Commission, is being considered as part of this scoping process. Public calls to include a range of institutions, and concerns related to particular practices, are also being considered as part of this work. A key task of the initial scoping exercise is to ensure that a realistic approach is taken to the investigation of these matters. The Commission’s approach should have regard to the facts established through recent inquiries into related institutions, and the general experience gained in conducting similar investigations into matters of public importance.

As well as working closely with my own officials, I wish to acknowledge the constructive contribution of the Government Deputies and opposition spokespersons with whom I have met in recent days. I look forward to continuing engagement across the House with a view to achieving all-party consensus as the necessary arrangements are finalised.

I have also met with representatives of a number of key advocacy groups and Church leaders, including the Adoption Rights Alliance, First Mothers Group, Bethany Homes Survivors Group, Cúnamh, Adoption Loss and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. I also hope to meet with Archbishop Jackson at his earliest availability.

The submissions made to me during these constructive discussions, together with those received through my Department’s dedicated e-mail facility, will feed into the process. I am confident that this inclusive approach in the essential scoping phase will assist in establishing an inquiry which is capable of effectively addressing these important matters in a sensitive and timely manner.

I can assure the House that I am committed to taking the most appropriate approach to establish the truth in respect of these deeply tragic and disturbing events. It is my intention to bring a resolution before both Houses in the coming weeks to facilitate the making of an order to formally establish the Commission before the summer recess.

Child Death Review Group Report

 92. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan his views regarding the fact that the numbers of deaths of children in State care, after care or known to the Health Service Executive has not significantly declined since the publication of the child death review; and the action he will take regarding same. [27939/14]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan The Report of the Independent Review Group which was published in July 2010, arising from the work of an independent group established by the then Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to examine the deaths of children in care, aftercare or involved with child protection and welfare services from January 2000 to April 2010. The report indicated that 196 children had died during this period of over 10 years. This statistic was reported widely in the media and while the loss of any child is tragic it is important that further context is provided so that the number and causes of child deaths, particularly of children in care, is not exaggerated and that learning is taken and acted upon.

  The Report differentiated between categories of children (children in care at the time of death, young people over 18 receiving an aftercare service and children who had been referred to child protection and welfare services because of concerns but who were living at home). It also differentiated between deaths from natural causes which were anticipated due to serious illness and disability and non-natural which included deaths related to substance abuse, suicide and accidents.

  - 36 children were in care at the time of death (19 were deaths due to natural causes and 17 were non-natural)

  - 32 young people were over the age of 18 and in receipt of aftercare services (5 deaths were due to natural causes and 27 were non-natural)

  - 128 children were living at home but had been referred to child protection services due to concerns (60 deaths were due to natural causes and 68 were non-natural).

  The Report made a number of recommendations for improvement including that any death of a child in care, aftercare or known to child protection services should be reviewed.

Later in 2010, a National Review Panel was established by the Health Service Executive (now the Child and Family Agency) based on guidance published by the Health Information and Quality Authority. The National Review Panel is independently chaired by Dr Helen Buckley, School of Social Work and Social Policy, Trinity College. It is mandated to review all deaths and serious incidents involving children in care, aftercare and known to child protection services. Its reports are published on the Child and Family Agency’s website and are available for the three year period between 2010 and 2012. The latest National Review Panel Annual Report 2012   indicates that at the end of 2012, the HSE had notified it of 60 deaths (22 in 2010; 15 in 2011 and 23 in 2012). Further breakdown of cases reviewed by the National Review Panel indicate the following:

  - Seven children were in care at the time of death (2 in 2010; 2 in 2011 and 3 in 2012),

  - Eight were receiving aftercare services (4 in 2010; 2 in 2011 and 2 in 2012),

  - 45 were living with their family and known to child protection services (16 in 2010; 11 in 2011 and 18 in 2012).

  It is important that a factual and contextual account is provided for deaths of children in care or known to Child Welfare and Protection Services. While it has been reported in the media recently that 23 children in care died in 2012, the facts are that:

  - Three of the 23 children and young people were in the care of the HSE,

  - Two of the 23 children and young people had been in receipt of after care services,

  - Eighteen children and young adults (up to age 20) were living in their family homes with their parent/parents,

  - 35% of children died of natural causes,

  - 40% of the deaths reviewed were young people aged between 17 and 20 years and due to high risk behaviours,

  - Younger children mainly died from natural causes and accidents.

As of December 2012, 24 National Review Panel reports have been published. While the National Review Panel reported on a number of management and practice weaknesses, there was no case where the review team concluded that action or inaction on the part of the HSE services was a direct contributory factor in the child or young person’s death. The Panel's 2012 Annual Report notes that it found examples of positive practice at all levels in the majority of cases that it reviewed. The report also notes that many of its recommendations in early reports are redundant in the context of the current reform of services including changes in management and governance and the establishment of the new Agency. My Department follows up recommendations made in the National Review Panel reports to ensure they are implemented. I am happy that the work of the National Review Panel is identifying areas where practice can be improved and the Agency's response. The Child and Family Agency Business Plan 2014   sets out the overall approach for the provision of services to children and families and reflects a wide range of policy priorities which my predecessor communicated to the Agency last December.

European Council Meetings

 93. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if the situation in Iraq was discussed at the EU Council meeting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26990/14]

 94. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if the EU Council made any decision regarding further sanctions on Syria at its recent meeting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26991/14]

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I propose to take Questions Nos. 93 and 94 together.

  Recent events in Iraq were not discussed at the European Council. Nor did the European Council discuss further sanctions on Syria. However, we did discuss the ongoing crisis there in the context of our discussions on Freedom, Security and Justice, in particular the need to increase contributions to global resettlements efforts.

  I will make a full Statement to the Dáil tomorrow on the discussions at the June European Council.

Tax Settlements

 95. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the position regarding his Department's recent tax settlement with the Revenue Commissioners over taxis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27813/14]

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny As I stated in my reply to PQ 25822/14 on 17 June, in March this year following a review by my Department an unprompted voluntary disclosure was made to the Revenue Commissioners which included a liability for benefit in kind in relation to use of taxis to and from home of €24,506, including penalties and interest. This reflected a long-standing practice where staff are sometimes required to work outside normal office hours in order to carry out their official duties, in most cases due to Oireachtas sittings. Revenue guidelines require that benefit in kind is due on the costs of taxis from home to headquarters and vice versa. My Department has put in place revised arrangements to ensure compliance with Revenue Guidelines in respect of benefit in kind on taxi journeys to and from home.

International Agreements

 96. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore when the optional protocol of the ICESCR will be ratified. [27878/14]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights opened for signature by UN Member States in New York in September 2009. To date, 45 states have signed the Optional Protocol. This includes 11 of the 28 European Union Member States. 15 states have ratified the Optional Protocol: Argentina, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cap Verde, Ecuador, El Salvador, Finland, Gabon, Mongolia, Montenegro, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, and Uruguay. The Optional Protocol entered into force on 5 May 2013, three months after the deposit with the United Nations Secretary-General of the tenth instrument of ratification or accession. Ireland signed the Optional Protocol on 23 March 2012. Ratification of the Optional Protocol is a separate step, which will be preceded by a thorough screening of the obligations to be assumed. This will require extensive consultation with all Departments involved and consideration by the Government in due course.

Honorary Titles

 97. Deputy Alan Farrell Information on Alan Farrell Zoom on Alan Farrell asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore subject to article 40.2.2 of the Constitution, if a title of nobility or honour which has been awarded to an Irish citizen has ever been approved by a Government of this State. [28144/14]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore Since 2000, we are aware of eight cases where titles of nobility or of honour were conferred on Irish citizens by another State, one in 2001, two in 2005, one in 2008, two in 2013 and two in 2014. In all eight cases, we understand that the persons concerned were also citizens of the State conferring the awards. The prior approval of Government was sought and granted in all cases, except one. In that particular case, in 2005, the approach to the Department was made two days after the award. This approach referred to an earlier request in 2005 in which the Department had been asked to approve and had agreed to an honorary award for the person concerned. In the event, the honorary award was changed to a substantive one. While taking account of this background, the Department also emphasised to the Government concerned the importance on all such occasions for the prior approval of the Government to be obtained.

Human Rights Issues

 98. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore in view of the recent World Refugee Week, if his attention has been drawn to the UNHCR estimates that more than 86,000 persons have left Burma on boats since June 2012, the majority of which are of the Rohingya Community risking injury or death as a result of fleeing; the representations that have been made in respect of the UNHCR's call for temporary arrangements to be made for the Rohingya until the situation stabilises including the call for acquiring the documented right to remain in the host country for the designated period, protection against arbitrary detention, respect for family unity, guarantees of shelter as well as access to service and lawful work opportunities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27846/14]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The Government continues to closely follow the situation of the Rohingya people in Myanmar/Burma and those who have left Myanmar/Burma for neighbouring states. I am aware of the UNHCR’s estimates that more than 86,000 persons have left Myanmar/ Burma on boats since June 2012. I am also aware of the continuing problem of internally displaced peoples within Myanmar. Ireland together with EU partners calls on the Government of Myanmar/Burma to address the underlying causes of ethnic tensions in Rakhine State - between the ethnically distinct Muslim Rohinga population and the Buddhist Rakhine population - and guarantee respect for human rights and the rule of law for all people in Myanmar/Burma. Ireland calls for more investment in early recovery and support for livelihood opportunities for both communities. Economic integration and interdependency can be a vehicle for co-operation and peace between the communities. A longer-term Government strategy for rehabilitation and reconciliation is required. The Irish Embassy in Vietnam, which is accredited to Myanmar/Burma, closely monitors developments, and, in September 2013, Ambassador Damien Cole travelled to Rakhine state to assess the situation on the ground. Most recently, the Ambassador visited Naypyidaw on 23 May 2014 and met with the Minister for Foreign Affairs. At that meeting he expressed Ireland’s concerns about the situation of the Rohingya people in Rakhine state and humanitarian access to the region.

At the Foreign Affairs Council on 12 May 2014, EU Foreign Ministers approved the establishment of a formal EU-Myanmar Human Rights Dialogue. The first such Dialogue took place in Myanmar on 20 May. Discussions there touched on most topics of concern, in particular discrimination, hate speech and inter-communal violence against the Rohingyas in Rakhine, and in other parts of Myanmar. It also focused on political prisoners, land and labour rights, freedom of expression, and co-operation with international Human Rights mechanisms and in multilateral fora.

At the dialogue, the EU stressed that continued efforts to achieve ethnic peace and to end discrimination and violence in Rakhine State were absolutely key for the success of Myanmar’s continued transition to democracy. The EU encouraged the Myanmar government to address the underlying causes of inter-communal violence, including the status and welfare of the Rohingya and expressed regret that Rohingya could not self-identify during the recent census. The EU also expressed readiness to co-operate with Myanmar on initiatives which promote inter-communal understanding.

In March 2014, the UN Human Rights Council, of which Ireland is currently a member, adopted an EU-led resolution on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, and urged the Government of Myanmar to step up its efforts to put an end to such remaining human rights violations and abuses. The resolution reiterated the Council’s serious concern about the situation of the Rohingya and other minorities in Rakhine State.

Previously, at the 23rd session of the UN Human Rights Council in May/June of 2013, Ireland and our fellow Council members urged the government there to grant full citizenship rights to the Rohingya in Rakhine, and review the 1982 citizenship law.

In relation to the UNHCR’s call for temporary arrangements to be made for the Rohingya until the situation stabilises in Rakhine, I would recall that in 2009 82 members of the Rohingya community were settled in Carlow and 5 others were settled in Dublin. The Rohingya had had only limited access to education in refugee and transit camps before arrival in Ireland but despite these disadvantages they are reported to have settled well.

Currently, the EU is providing around 70 million Euro to the people of Rakhine State, most of which is used to meet the humanitarian needs of the people of the region. The EU will provide 688 million Euro in development aid to Myanmar over the period 2014-2020. The EU will also provide over 46 million Euro in funding to neighbouring states that have received Rohinga people fleeing from Rakhine due to inter-ethnic violence.

Since 2007, over 7 million Euro has been provided by Irish Aid to NGOs and Irish missionaries for both long term development and emergency and recovery responses in Myanmar/Burma. In December 2013, I announced an additional programme of funding worth 500,000 Euro for a bilateral development assistance programme in 2013. The same level of funding has also been agreed for 2014. Trócaire have also received 425,825 Euro in funding in 2014 from Irish Aid under the Humanitarian Programme Plan for Food Security, Livelihood and Protection assistance programme in Laiza, Kachin State, Myanmar.

Military Aircraft Landings

 99. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore the country of origin of all military aircraft which landed in Shannon in the past 12 months. [27879/14]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore The Air Navigation (Foreign Military Aircraft) Order 1952 gives the Minister for Foreign Affairs primary responsibility for the regulation of activity by foreign military aircraft in Ireland. My Department grants permission for the landing of foreign military aircraft at Shannon Airport subject to conditions that apply to landings at Irish airports by foreign military aircraft; namely that the aircraft are unarmed, carry no arms, ammunition or explosives, do not engage in intelligence gathering, and that the flights in question do not form any part of military exercises or operations. The countries of origin of the military aircraft for which permission to land at Shannon Airport was granted over the last 12 months are listed below:

  Australia

  Bahrain

  Belgium

  Canada

  Cote D’Ivoire

  Croatia

  Czech Republic

  Egypt

  France

  Gabon

  Germany

  Greece

  India

  Italy

  Jordan

  Lebanon

  Libya

  Malaysia

  Mexico

  Morocco

  Netherlands

  Oman

  Pakistan

  Panama

  Poland

  Qatar

  Romania

  Sweden

  Switzerland

  Turkey

  UAE

  UK

  USA

  Vietnam

  Yemen

Diplomatic Representation

 100. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore if he acknowledges the potential that large sporting events such as the World Cup have in benefiting the marginalised in other countries if they are taken into consideration from the beginning of its organisation; if he has made representations to officials in Brazil this year asking them to take into consideration local community needs, the need to bridge cultural and ethnic divides still pervasive in Brazilian society and to design the World Cup events with the rights of affected communities central to the process; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [27965/14]

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Eamon Gilmore): Information on Eamon Gilmore Zoom on Eamon Gilmore Brazil has made remarkable progress in terms of economic growth and social development since its return to democracy a little over 25 years ago. Notably, and very positively, Brazil has developed and delivered policies that have lifted an estimated 40 million people from poverty. Large sporting events such as the World Cup have enormous potential to benefit widely the societies in which they take place and this has increasingly become a consideration for host countries, as the positive experience of the 2012 London Olympics has shown. Brazil has, from the beginning, taken a pro-active stand with regard to spreading the benefits of the World Cup, including through the choice of 12 host cities in order to ensure that the benefits of hosting the tournament would not be confined only to wealthier and more developed regions of the country. It is also my understanding that 100,000 free tickets have been made available to public school students, indigenous communities and the construction workers who helped to build the new stadiums.

The Brazilian Government’s projections are that the 2014 World Cup will increase the country’s GDP by almost 10 billion Euro and that, as well as investments in the match stadiums, the World Cup has led to an acceleration of investment in roads, airports and urban mobility projects, including public transportation, new urban roads, bus rapid transit and light rail vehicle systems. The World Cup is also expected to generate significant employment and revenue in Brazil’s tourism sector.

Brazil has a strong civil society sector with many non-governmental organisations operating within the country. These civil society organisations advocate on behalf of and provide support to marginalised sections of society such as minorities, people affected by disabilities and by poverty. Since the establishment of Ireland’s Embassy in Brazil fourteen years ago, Ireland has provided development assistance to small–scale development projects in poor and disadvantaged areas.

Funding of almost €3.3 million has been channelled in the past five years through Irish Aid, the Government’s overseas development assistance programme, to support various development projects implemented by civil society organisations. This funding has been provided primarily through the Civil Society Fund (CSF) and In Country Micro Projects Scheme (ICMPS). The CSF supports Irish and invited international NGOs to undertake small-scale development projects, whilst the ICMPS enables Embassies and Consulates in countries without a bilateral Irish Aid programme to directly support micro projects addressing the root causes of poverty and injustice. Funding has also been channelled through Misean Cara which provides support for Irish missionary congregations involved in development work. Such congregations are actively engaged in a wide range of development work, focused, in Brazil, primarily on social justice, urban community and education initiatives.


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