Header Item Written Answers Nos. 632 - 655
 Header Item Departmental Agencies Staff Data
 Header Item Local Enterprise Offices
 Header Item Enterprise Support Schemes
 Header Item Enterprise Support Services Provision
 Header Item Prompt Payments
 Header Item Research and Development Supports
 Header Item Company Closures
 Header Item Departmental Funding
 Header Item Youth Services
 Header Item Health and Safety Regulations
 Header Item Departmental Agencies Staff Data
 Header Item Early Childhood Care and Education Funding
 Header Item Youth Services Provision
 Header Item Child Care Costs
 Header Item Departmental Agencies Funding
 Header Item Family Resource Centres
 Header Item Early Childhood Care and Education
 Header Item Foster Care
 Header Item Health and Safety Regulations
 Header Item Air Corps

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 924 No. 1
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 91 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 632 - 655

Departmental Agencies Staff Data

 632. Deputy Joan Burton Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor the gifts or hospitality given to employees to attend overseas sporting or musical events during 2015 in respect of all commercial and non-commercial agencies; the locations of such visits; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [29561/16]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor): Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor No employees of the State Agencies under the remit of my Department received gifts or hospitality to attend overseas sporting or musical events during 2015.

Local Enterprise Offices

 633. Deputy David Cullinane Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor if consideration has been given to expanding the role of the local enterprise offices to include businesses with more than ten employees and to take in tourism and food enterprises in line with regional strategies; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [29647/16]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor): Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor The LEOs offer direct grant aid to microenterprises (10 employees or fewer) in the manufacturing and internationally traded services sector which, over time, have the potential to develop into strong export entities.

  However, LEOs can also offer ‘soft’ supports to businesses employing more than 10 employees e.g. training, mentoring, advice or sign posting to other support providers. This decision was reached so as to bridge any gap between those that were eligible for direct grant-aid from the LEOs and those that were eligible for Enterprise Ireland support.

  There is no plan to extend the provision of direct financial aid to companies with more than ten employees. The mission of the LEOs, as stated in the published Customer Service Charter is to ‘aim to promote entrepreneurship, foster business start-ups and develop existing micro and small businesses to drive job creation and to provide accessible high quality supports for your business ideas’.  As stated above, this is not confined to providing financial aid to a company in actual fact the provision of the softer supports has proven in many cases to be more beneficial to companies.

  In relation to Tourism, salary support may be offered to unique tourism services projects that are focused predominantly on generating revenues from overseas visitors and which do not give rise to deadweight and/or displacement in the local economy. The LEOs work in collaboration with Fáilte Ireland through a signed protocol between Enterprise Ireland and Fáilte Ireland. This was put in place to establish a structured link between the bodies regarding the provision of information and guidance on measures in support of enterprise development.

  In order to assist start-up food and drink producers to enter new markets, the LEOs, in partnership with Bord Bia and SuperValu, run a 'Food Academy Start' programme at intervals throughout the year. The programme provides a standardised suite of supports tailored to new and early-stage food businesses. This has proved extremely successful and according to Musgrave Retail Partners/SuperValu 281 small food businesses are currently selling their food and drink products in SuperValu stores, generating an estimated €25 million in retail sales in 2016.

Enterprise Support Schemes

 634. Deputy David Cullinane Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor the policies, supports and programmes in place to support more women getting into business; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29648/16]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor): Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor The Government’s National Policy Statement on Entrepreneurship in Ireland was launched in October 2014 and sets out the Government’s strategic objectives as a facilitator within the Irish entrepreneurship ecosystem.

  One objective of the policy statement is to promote female entrepreneurship through identification and promotion of female role models, targeted events and awards, support for female entrepreneur networks and promotion of a dedicated area on corporate websites.

  Enterprise Ireland (EI) has been running female only feasibility and competitive funds since 2012.

  During 2015, EI provided €50,000 each to 34 female entrepreneurs who applied for a Competitive Start Funding round, including a call specifically aimed at females. This is a significant increase on the 2014 figure of 25.

  EI sponsors a number of key events:

  - Women’s Executive Network, Ireland’s Top 25 Women Awards

  - Image Business Woman of the Year Awards

  - Tatler Business Woman of the Year Awards and Conference

  - Network Ireland Awards and Conference

  - International Business Women’s Conference Belfast

  - Inspirefest, Silicon Republic      

  The agency also partners with key providers in providing training and capability development for early stage and established entrepreneurs. In 2015 it developed a series of female accelerator programmes in partnership with knowledge providers. These included:

  - Going for Growth

  - DCU Ryan Academy Female Propeller Programme

  - NDRC Female Founders Programme

  - CIT Female Exxcel Programme

  In addition, EI and Network Ireland are running ‘Fueling Ambition’ roadshows across Ireland, and EI supported the second International Business Women’s Conference in Tralee in August 2016.

  Female entrepreneurs seeking to become EI clients can access a dedicated web page: www.enterprise-ireland.com/ambitiouswomen. My Department will shortly have a web page targeted specifically at current and potential female entrepreneurs.

  The Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs) are also actively engaged in encouraging and inspiring an increase in female-led businesses through initiatives such as the annual National Women’s Enterprise Day and the Women in Business Networks.

  An important aspect of the networking programme is the promotion of successful female entrepreneurs as role models and the use of mentoring and networking opportunities which aims to build confidence of newly emerging female entrepreneurs.

  Progress has been made. For example, in 2015, 57% of participants attending core training programmes in LEOs were female. Participation by female entrepreneurs in EI’s High Potential Start-Up programme increased to 20% in 2015. The target was 18%.

  For information, a table on targeted supports for female entrepreneurs follows.

  List of Targeted Supports for Female Entrepreneurs

NetworkWebsite
Network Irelandwww.networkireland.ie
Women in Businesswww.localenterprise.ie/DublinCity/Start-or-Grow-your-Business/Networking/Women-in-Business/Network-Events/
Enterprising Women Networkwww.localenterprise.ie/DLR/Training-Events/Business-Networks/Enterprising-Women/
Irish Business Women Forum (online) Internationalwww.womensbusinessforum.org
Irishwomeninbusiness.ie (online)www.irishwomeninbusiness.ie
  
Mentoring 
Going for Growthwww.goingforgrowth.com
  
Training Programs 
ACORNSwww.acorns.ie
Competitive Start Fundswww.enterprise-ireland.com/en/funding-supports/Company/HPSU-Funding/Competitive-Start-Fund-for-Female-Entrepreneurs.html
EI ‘Fuelling Ambition’ programwww.enterprise-ireland.com
NDRC Female Founderswww.ndrc.ie/female-founders/
LEOs ‘Start Your Own Business’ programswww.localenterprise.ie
DCU Ryan Academy ‘High Fliers’ www.ryanacademy.ie/what-we-do/female-high-fliers-accelerator/
CIT Exxcel programme (STEM)www.rubiconcentre.ie/female-entrepreneurship/
PINC (CIT)www.rubiconcentre.ie/pinc-programme/
Mentoring for Female Entrepreneurs program www.dubchamber.ie/business-services/supporting-women-in-business
  
Promotion 
Women Mean Business www.womenmeanbusiness.com
National Women’s Enterprise Day www.localenterprise.ie/Enable-Enterprise-Culture/National-Women-s-Enterprise-Day/
International Women’s Business Conferencewww.roseoftralee.ie/news/281-inaugural-international-women-s-business-conference
WXN Awards www.wxnetwork.com/ga/irelands-most-powerful-women-top-25/
Women's Enterprise Awards (LEOs)www.localenterprise.ie

Enterprise Support Services Provision

 635. Deputy David Cullinane Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor if the Import X Initiative of the former enterprise boards, now LEOs, is still in place; her views on its effectiveness; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [29652/16]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor): Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor The Import X Initiative was a pilot project run in 2013 by the County Enterprise Boards (CEBs) in the South East, led by Carlow. It was designed to investigate if links could be formed between smaller and larger companies to engage in supply chain understanding. This initiative was primarily aimed at the engineering sector. The pilot initiative led to consultation with the engineering sector in Carlow and that led to the following:

  - development of a needs analysis for training, in particular around hydraulics and the potential for a partnership between the sector and IT Carlow. This process is still live and Local Enterprise Office (LEO) Carlow is supporting same.

  - the adoption of Lean for Micro by LEOs Tipperary, Carlow, Waterford and Kilkenny, this process is ongoing.

  - a number of actions being incorporated into the Regional Action Plans for Jobs.

  This pilot was a successful initiative in that it provided the basis for pursuing various avenues to assist smaller companies. Specifically LEO Carlow now operates and designs a number of its programmes around clusters based on the learning.

Prompt Payments

 636. Deputy David Cullinane Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor if she has given consideration to reviewing prompt payment legislation as called for by ISME; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29653/16]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor): Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Prompt Payment of invoices is critical to the effective working of any economy and is an issue on which this Government places great emphasis. Late payment is particularly damaging for small and medium-sized businesses, where any disruption to cash flow can mean the difference between solvency and bankruptcy.

  The issue of late payment in commercial transactions is governed by the European Communities (Late Payment in Commercial Transactions) Regulations 2012 - S.I. 580 of 2012. The purpose of these Regulations is to give legal effect to Directive 2011/7/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 2011 on combating late payment in commercial transactions.

  The main provisions of the Regulations include:

  -Public authorities must pay for the goods and services that they procure within 30 days;

  -Businesses must pay their invoices within 60 days, unless they expressly agree otherwise and provided it is not grossly unfair;

  -Automatic entitlement to interest for late payment and compensation for recovery costs;

  -Statutory interest of at least 8% above the European Central Bank’s reference rate.

  Under these Regulations, (S.I. 580 of 2012), it is an implied term of every commercial transaction that where a purchaser does not pay for goods or services by the relevant payment date, the supplier shall be entitled to interest (late payment interest) on the amount outstanding.

  Interest shall apply until such time as payment is made by the purchaser. The Regulations apply to commercial transactions in both the public and private sector.

  The Regulations allow for contractual freedom in business to business commercial transactions. Where the date of payment exceeds 60 calendar days, the payment date must be expressly agreed in the contract and not grossly be unfair to the creditor. In cases where no contract exists, businesses must pay within 30 days. The Regulations also provide for businesses to challenge grossly unfair payment terms and practices.

  Most commercial transactions are made on credit terms and trade credit is a major competitive tool for small businesses in Ireland.  The payment period is typically one of the negotiable elements of a contract.  The Regulations do not harmonise payment terms as this would lead to a loss of flexibility and contractual freedom by removing the ability of Irish businesses to compete with their counterparts in other Member States where payment terms are negotiable.

  In addition to legislating for prompt payments, since 2009, Central Government Departments have been improving their respective payment times and are now obliged to pay their suppliers within 15 days of receipt of a valid invoice. This 15 day prompt payment rule, introduced by Government on a voluntary basis, was extended to the wider Public Sector in March, 2011.

  Other initiatives introduced at national and EU level to combat this issue include the launch of the Prompt Payment Code (PPC) portal in March of 2015. The PPC, which is hosted through an online portal – www.promptpayment.ie –, is a new initiative aimed encouraging and promoting best practice between businesses and their suppliers, improving cash flow between businesses and driving a change in payment culture.

  These initiatives, together with the late payment legislation, demonstrate the Government’s continuing drive and commitment to encourage a responsible payment culture in Ireland.

Research and Development Supports

 637. Deputy David Cullinane Information on David Cullinane Zoom on David Cullinane asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor the supports, strategies and processes in place to support companies operating in the life sciences sector in dealing with specific challenges in relation to an expiry of patents, the costs of research and development and global over capacity and competition from Asia and the Far East; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29654/16]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor): Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Ireland has one of the world’s leading life sciences clusters. This cluster includes world-class researchers, leading global multinationals supported by IDA Ireland, innovative indigenous companies supported by Enterprise Ireland (EI), clinical specialists and ancillary service providers.

The Irish life sciences sector accounts for approximately €50 billion in exports annually. There are 50,000 people directly employed in the sector in foreign direct investment (FDI) companies and indigenous industry.

IDA Ireland offers a wide range of financial assistance including research and development (R&D), capital, employment, training and environmental supports to companies wishing to locate or expand their existing operation in Ireland.

IDA Ireland also aims to support companies as they develop new products and processes to address challenges in the sector such as those presented by the expiration of patents on older products. For example, in the last 10 years, IDA Ireland has worked with existing and new clients to compete for over €10bn in capital to support the development and manufacturing of a new wave of biotech drugs. In addition, companies are encouraged to develop and commercialise intellectual property (IP) in Ireland by availing of the 6.25% preferential tax rate on income arising from IP development. R&D active companies can also avail of Irish tax relief via the 25% tax credit.

Enterprise Ireland operates a range of supports to help indigenous companies drive their own internal R&D capacity and to help them engage with third level researchers to undertake collaborative research for the benefit of the company.

These R&D capabilities, along with leadership and management strengths and collaborative partnerships with some of the world’s leading companies, have been central to the success of Irish life science companies

Global over capacity and competition from Asia is primarily a challenge for large multinational pharmaceutical manufacturers, which can be a consequence of expiring patents. There is no discernible difference between competition from Asia and the competition that EI client companies face from other parts of the globe. To remain competitive, it is hugely important that the sector continues to invest in Lean programmes, RD&I and market diversification initiatives.

Company Closures

 638. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor the actions she has taken to protect jobs at a company (details supplied); the State services which will be made available to affected employees; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29855/16]

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor): Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor I was very disappointed to learn of the decision last week by Cameron Ireland to initiate a process which will lead to 170 redundancies at their facility in Longford.

My Department is in constant touch with IDA Ireland about the situation. The Agency will shortly be meeting the parent company in the USA to discuss their Irish operation and to encourage a continued commitment to Ireland. I will also work to ensure that those workers affected by Cameron Ireland’s decision will have access to State supports in the time ahead, whether in terms of information as to their redundancy entitlements or retraining opportunities.

It's important as well that we succeed in bringing new investment and employment opportunities to County Longford to help mitigate the effects of these job losses. The recent announcement of the new Centre Parcs holiday project in Ballymahon, for example, will be a significant boost for the county and is envisaged to create about 1,000 jobs in the long term. IDA Ireland will also continue to work hard with prospective investors to bring further jobs to the county and the wider region.

  Question No. 639 answered with Question No. 613.

Departmental Funding

 640. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Information on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if she has considered applications from Scouting Ireland regarding capital funding on the projects they are undertaking at Larch Hill and Killaloe. [29883/16]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone In 2016 some €2.6m has been allocated to my Department for a capital funding scheme for youth projects and services. The scheme was open to projects that are funded by the Department under the Special Projects for Youth scheme, Young People’s Facilities and Services Fund, Local Drugs Task Force Projects scheme and Youth Information Centres scheme. The scheme was also open to national youth organisations in receipt of funding under the Youth Services Grants Scheme.

The scheme was split into two categories, Type One and Type Two. Type One provided for smaller capital projects including the up-grade or replacement of equipment or the purchase of essential equipment to support the running of the project/organisation in the provision of quality services for young people. Type Two provided for health and safety improvements to premises and/or upgrade or refurbishment of premises, including improvements to enable access for young people with disabilities, including those with physical or sensory disabilities. Applicants were limited to one application under Type One and one application under Type Two.

Scouting Ireland successfully applied for funding under this scheme and was awarded €49,630 under Type Two to fund the improvement of disability access and security at Scouting Ireland, National Water Activity Centre in Killaloe, Co Clare. A second Type Two application was received in respect of Scouting Ireland's Larch Hill premises. The application was deemed ineligible by the Youth Capital Scheme 2016 / 2017 Appraisal Committee as organisations were limited to one Type Two application only.

Scouting Ireland receives annual funding under my Department's Youth Service Grant Scheme which supports national youth organisations. In 2016, some €835,000 has been allocated to the organisation. In addition, €200,000 is provided to them under the Dormant Accounts Fund.

Youth Services

 641. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the number of youth workers specifically allocated to drugs taskforces per county and designated to work with young persons at risk of offending or having offended, per service division nationally in each of the calendar years 2012 to date in 2016; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29437/16]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone My Department administers a range of funding schemes and programmes to support the provision of youth services to young people throughout the country including those from disadvantaged communities. The funding schemes support national and local youth work provision to some 380,000 young people and involve approximately 1,400 youth work staff in 477 projects and 40,000 volunteers working in youth work services and communities throughout the country. In 2016, funding of €51m has been provided to my Department for these schemes.

From within this budget, my Department provides €18.9m in funding to projects under the Young People's Facilities and Services Fund. Some 230 projects are supported by the Fund and provide a range of supports including targeted drug prevention and awareness programmes, educational supports, after-school and homework clubs, social and personal development, summer programmes and recreational activity.

My Department also provides funding to 21 projects under the Local Drug Task Force (LDTF) Scheme amounting to €1.18m. The projects provide a range of supports for young people by way of targeted drug prevention and awareness. This funding is administered mostly by the network of Education and Training Boards.

Information about the number of youth workers employed by youth organisations and services by county is not readily available to my Department.

Health and Safety Regulations

 642. Deputy Joan Burton Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the health and safety framework of each commercial and non-commercial State agency; when the health and safety policy of each was last reviewed; when the safety statement of each was last reviewed; if each body has a health and safety committee and when this was last elected; if each has a health and safety representative and when this person was last elected; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [29562/16]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone There are no commercial State agencies under the aegis of my Department. The public bodies funded through my Department's Vote are the Adoption Authority of Ireland, The Child and Family Agency (Tusla), the Children Detention School and the Ombudsman for Children's Office. My Department also provides the primary source of funding for Gaisce, the President's Award. Gaisce is a limited company set up under the Companies Acts. I am asking each of these bodies to respond directly to the Deputy.

Departmental Agencies Staff Data

 643. Deputy Joan Burton Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the gifts or hospitality given to employees to attend overseas sporting or musical events during 2015 in respect of all commercial and non-commercial agencies; the locations of such visits; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [29563/16]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone There are no commercial State agencies under the aegis of my Department. The public bodies funded through my Department's Vote are the Adoption Authority of Ireland, The Child and Family Agency (Tusla), the Children Detention School and the Ombudsman for Children's Office. My Department also provides the primary source of funding for Gaisce, the President's Award. Gaisce is a limited company set up under the Companies Acts. I am asking each of these bodies to respond directly to the Deputy.

Early Childhood Care and Education Funding

 644. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if her attention has been drawn to the substantial changes to the ECCE payment structure to child care facilities operating the ECCE scheme, changes that are causing great financial strain to ECCE providers; if she will have the payment structure reverted to the previous arrangement; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [29668/16]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The Payment Calendar for the ECCE scheme was published on August 31st, and has not changed since that time. The calendar is equivalent to the 2015-16 year, with the exception that the advance payment made to services was reduced from eight weeks, to six, with the second payment coming two weeks earlier than previously.

Advance payments are made to services to account for the delay in accurately registering children attending the ECCE programme. As they are based on the previous year's numbers, they are not an accurate reflection of funding due to services and should be minimised.

Payments have been made in respect of over 80,000 registered children last week and this week - a higher number than at any time up to now.

Youth Services Provision

 645. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the status of further development of a Kerry diocesan youth service centre (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29703/16]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone In 2016 some €2.6 m has been allocated to my Department for a capital funding scheme for youth projects and services. The scheme was open to projects that are funded by the Department under the Special Projects for Youth scheme, Young People’s Facilities and Services Fund, Local Drugs Task Force Projects scheme and Youth Information Centres scheme. The scheme was also open to national youth organisations in receipt of funding under the Youth Services Grants Scheme.

The scheme was split into two categories, Type One and Type Two. Type One provided for smaller capital projects including the up-grade or replacement of equipment or the purchase of essential equipment to support the running of the project/organisation in the provision of quality services for young people. Type Two provided for health and safety improvements to premises and/or upgrade or refurbishment of premises, including improvements to enable access for young people with disabilities, including those with physical or sensory disabilities.

The Department was assisted in the administration of the scheme by the network of Education and Training Boards throughout the country.

A Type Two application for capital funding was received in respect of this organisation. The application was deemed ineligible by the Youth Capital Scheme 2016 / 2017 Appraisal Committee as the organisation was not in receipt of funding under the above mentioned schemes.

Child Care Costs

 646. Deputy Seán Haughey Information on Seán Haughey Zoom on Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the measures she is taking to ensure the provision of affordable child care; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [29775/16]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone My Department currently administers four targeted childcare programmes to support low income families. These are:

  1. Community Childcare Subvention Programme (CCS)

  2. Childcare Education and Training Support Programme (CETS),

  3. After-School Childcare Programme (ASC)

  4. Community Employment Childcare Programme (CEC).

  These four programmes are administratively very complex and are widely varied in terms of budget, access and eligibility criteria, rates, duration and coverage (in terms of the type and number of childcare services participating in the programmes).

  The Report of the Inter-Departmental Group on Future Investment in Childcare considered these targeted childcare programmes as part of their work and made recommendations for reform. Essentially, it was recommended that all targeted childcare programmes be merged into one single targeted childcare programme with eligibility for a childcare subsidy under the new programme being determined by income only.

  Under Budget 2016 funding to convene a Design Team to develop a single affordable childcare programme was allocated. Work on the new single scheme has begun and is expected to be in place by September 2017. The intention of the new Scheme is to replace the existing targeted schemes with a new streamlined subsidy scheme which is more accessible for parents and providers, enhances affordability and provides a flexible platform for future investment in childcare in Ireland.

  I recently brought the proposals for the new Scheme to the Cabinet Sub-committee on Social Policy and Public Service Reform and intend to submit the proposals formally to Government in the near future.

  Further details on the new scheme are expected to be provided as part of the Budget 2017 announcement on Tuesday 11th October 2016.

Departmental Agencies Funding

 647. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Information on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the extra money which has been made available to fund Tusla's current upgrade of their ICT system; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [29864/16]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The day to day ICT service for Tusla is provided on a shared service basis by arrangement with the Health Service Executive (HSE). As such, these services are not funded directly by my Department, nor would it have information readily to hand as to the cost to the HSE of these services.

I should emphasise that Tusla is also progressing the development of the new National Child Care Information System (NCCIS), a case management system for social work. The expenditure on this project in 2016 is estimated at approximately €400,000, the cost of which is being met by Tusla from within its capital allocation.

Family Resource Centres

 648. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Information on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if money in the 2016 budget shall be ring fenced by Tusla for the family resource centres nationwide; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [29865/16]

 649. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Information on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if extra funding will be made available in 2016 to family resource centres to cover their programme costs; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [29866/16]

 650. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Information on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if there is a possibility that an extra €5.5 million could be provided to family resource centres to allow them to employ a full-time family support worker in each centre; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [29867/16]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I propose to take Questions Nos. 648 to 650 together.

There are currently 109 communities supported through the Family Resource Centre Programme which is funded by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency. The Family Resource Centre Programme is a national programme with its own dedicated budget. Tusla provides core funding to Family Resource Centres to cover the employment of two to three members of staff and some overhead costs. In 2016, Tusla provided €13.5m in funding for the Family Resource Centre Programme.

I recognise and value the very positive impact of the work of the Family Resource Centres in supporting families and local communities. The Centres provide a holistic service of child, family and community support and advocacy to all children and families in their community. This universal accessibility allows for early identification of need, provision of appropriate interventions, and timely referrals to appropriate services for more intensive and targeted work as required.

The precise level of funding to be allocated in 2017 to the Family Resource Centre Programme will be considered by Tusla in preparing its Business Plan for next year, which will be submitted to me for consideration. I can assure the Deputy that I will continue to support the work of the Family Support Centres and to the targeting of available resources at those services which make the greatest impact on vulnerable children and families.

Early Childhood Care and Education

 651. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Information on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if she has considered attempting to reduce the ratio of staff to children on the ECCE scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29868/16]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The pupil to teacher ratio, in pre-school settings, was increased from 10:1 to 11:1, at a time when the Capitation Rates for pre-school providers were reduced to meet spending limits. The capitation rates have now been restored to pre-2012 levels (i.e. €64.50 for standard capitation and €75 for higher capitation).

The question of ratios arises in the context of the provision of quality childcare: My Department is to conduct a baseline review of the quality of practice in Early Years in Ireland. The aim of this important new research initiative will be to develop tools for measuring the quality of practice in early care and education services, and then to use those tools to carry out Ireland's first systematic review of quality. The review will involve detailed observation of daily practice within services, including consideration of the staff:child ratios. It is intended to allow for international comparative assessment while being tailored to Ireland's own national quality frameworks (Síolta and Aistear). It is intended that the review can then be repeated periodically, enabling policy makers to see the impact of quality improvement measures over time. It is anticipated that the research will involve a large, representative sample of service providers of all types. The Department expects to commence a tender process later in the autumn for development of the tool, with research and piloting to take place in early 2017. The outcome of this review will guide future policy decisions in relation to the maintenance and improvement of quality in the sector.

Foster Care

 652. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Information on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone the procedures and policies currently in place with regard to the vetting of both potential foster parents and foster parents with a child in their care; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29869/16]

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone I would like to assure the Deputy that no child is placed with an unapproved general foster carer. When a child is being placed in foster care, the suitability of a placement with relatives is explored in the first instance. Where Tusla is satisfied that an immediate placement with relatives is in the best interest of the child, a placement may occur before full approval of the Child and Family Agency Foster Care Committee is in place. Such placements are provided for in the Child Care (Placement of Children with Relatives) Regulations 1995. Prior to placement, the relative is assessed by a principal social worker including early Garda vetting. This is followed by a full assessment and approval by the Committee as soon as practicable.

  Prospective foster care applicants undergo a comprehensive assessment before they are formally approved by a Foster Care Committee and any child is placed with them. The assessment procedure is carried out by a social worker from the local fostering team and includes Garda vetting, checks to establish previous involvement with child protection services, a medical assessment, and personal interviews with the applicant and any children living with them. Garda vetting is required for applicant(s) and all household members aged 16 years and over. Garda vetting is carried out for persons who are proposed to have regular and consistent contact with the children in foster care, such as grandparents and babysitters. The applicant(s) will be asked to provide referees who will be interviewed by the social worker as part of the assessment process. No assessment will take place until the Garda vetting of potential carers has been completed and cleared by the supervising foster care Team Leader. In accordance with the Foster Care Committee Guidelines, Garda vetting is to be updated every three years as part of the foster care review process.

Health and Safety Regulations

 653. Deputy Joan Burton Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the health and safety framework of each commercial and non-commercial State agency; when the health and safety policy of each was last reviewed; when the safety statement of each was last reviewed; if each body has a health and safety committee and when this was last elected; if each has a health and safety representative and when this person was last elected; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [29570/16]

 654. Deputy Joan Burton Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the gifts or hospitality given to employees to attend overseas sporting or musical events during 2015 in relation to all commercial and non commercial agencies; the locations of such visits; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29571/16]

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe I propose to take Questions Nos. 653 and 654 together.

The only State body currently under the aegis of the Department of Defence is the Army Pensions Board. The Army Pension Board is an independent statutory body established under the Army Pensions Act, 1927 and consists of a chairman and two ordinary members. A member of my Department is assigned to carry out the functions of Secretary to the Board. The holder of this position is an established civil servant.

The Army Pensions Board does not have any employees. If a member of the Board or the Secretary attend Department premises they are subject to the relevant Department or Defence Forces’ health and safety policy and requirements.

Air Corps

 655. Deputy Lisa Chambers Information on Lisa Chambers Zoom on Lisa Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the recommendations of the external safety management system review of the Air Corps in 2013, in tabular form; and the recommendations which have and have not been implemented.  [29641/16]

Taoiseach and Minister for Defence (Deputy Enda Kenny): Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny In August 2013, the Air Corps commissioned a review of its Safety Management System. A report entitled “Irish Air Corps Safety Management Review” was completed in November 2013 and it contained a number of recommendations. The following table indicates those recommendations which have been completed or are in the progress of being completed.

Recommendations Status
The GOC sets-up an annual Risk Assessment Review Board to re-examine all records of risk acceptance to assess the validity of the risk assessment and mitigating measures. The Risk Assessment Review Board shall be chaired by the GOC or a suitable delegate. Completed
The GOC revises policies related to risk acceptance within the Irish Air Corps so proper risk mitigation be documented as appropriate and residual risk accepted at an equivalent level. Completed
  
The GOC indicates in Operations Orders the risk index assigned to the operation/exercise. If the risk is assessed as being above Acceptable Level of Safety Performance then the Operations Orders shall indicate the mitigating measures in force and stipulate by name, rank and position the officer who is accepting the risk during the exercise/operation. Completed
  
The GOC ensures safety specialists receive appropriate training in SMS related to safety programs, standards and safety expectations. Completed
  
The GOC with the Internal Safety Management System Officer develops and endorses an organisational policy outlining in simple terms the duty of employees to report mandatory and near-miss events through the guiding principles of ‘Just Culture’. The policy should articulate what are reportable safety occurrences, the obligation to report and the implications of not reporting. Completed
  
The GOC stresses and develops policies outlining the obligation of personnel towards safety reporting, stressing the personal obligation to report near misses and the liabilities associated with failing to do so. Completed
  
The GOC mandates the Internal Safety Management System Officer to organize one major Emergency Response Plan exercise per year, alternating between a command post exercise and a realistic simulation testing the full capabilities of the Emergency Response Plan. Completed
  
The GOC promulgates the Irish Air Corps Emergency Response Plan and ensures the plan is reviewed periodically. Completed
  
The GOC liaises with Department of Defence to put in place common procedures for the documentation of hazards and management of risks. Completed
  
The GOC revises the Sortie Risk Assessment Form to ensure appropriate hazard identification and risk quantification before each sortie and that sortie risk be accepted by an appropriate command authority if risk is above Acceptable Level of Safety Performance. Completed
The GOC reviews SRAFs for suitability and puts in place processes for the proper transfer of accountability Completed
The ISMSO, or in his/her absence, the Air Corps Flight Safety Officer should conduct a random review of High Risk Sortie Risk Assessment Forms to ensure standardisation between units and enhancement of processes. Completed
  
The GOC consolidates Quality Assurance audits to minimise impact on units and centralise the follow-up on corrective measures . Completed
  
The GOC or appointed senior officer acting on his behalf oversees an IAC safety committee responsible to review safety policies, safety actions, safety concerns and standards within the Corps. The committee should also monitor other activities having an impact on safety like risk assessments, intelligence, and future flight data following, and Flight Data Monitoring programs etc. Completed
  
The GOC conducts a thorough risk assessment of strategic threats and implements suitable mitigating measures. Completed
  
The GOC takes steps to qualify a cadre of personnel in risk assessment and put together a program to familiarize personnel with risk assessments. The training shall be widespread in the Corps to include Unit Flight Safety Officers, authorisers, unit commanders and key members of the Senior Management Team. In Progress
The GOC puts in place a communication strategy to create a positive safety climate and inform personnel on strategic plans to counter threats to the Irish Air Corps. In Progress
  
The GOC designates on an interim basis suitable facilities that will be used as Corps HQ for the control of a complex emergency situation and considers the creation of a suitable permanent facility In Progress
  


The report also contained additional recommendations which are being considered in the context of a wider project to set out options for an Air Safety System within the Defence Organisation. A joint civil/military working group has been tasked with responsibility for this and a project plan has been developed and is currently being progressed. Those recommendations are as follows.   
The GOC in consultation with the Air Corps Flight Safety Officer instigates a program of safety communications to enhance organisational safety knowledge, understanding and feedback using ‘Just Culture’ as primary building block
The GOC develops processes for the conduct of independent safety investigations involving key personnel within a unit/wing/Corps for events where the reputation of the Irish Air Corps Safety Program could be affected if the investigation was conducted internally
 
The GOC puts in place processes to audit the Corps Headquarters functions.
The GOC seeks legal expertise to assess regulatory obligations of implementing an Irish Air Corps Safety Management System.
 
The GOC formally puts in place an Irish Air Corps Safety Management System by appointing an Internal Safety Management System Officer who would facilitate on his behalf a common and standardized Safety Management System Program. This Internal Safety Management System Officer should not hold other positions or responsibilities that may conflict or impair his/her independent role as Safety Manager.
The GOC reviews the control processes related to executive decisions made on safety recommendations, tracking to completion and analysis of their effectiveness of preventive measures.
The GOC articulates clearly the responsibilities of the different safety programs and the associated safety officers.
 
The GOC engages in a process with the Department of Defence and Military Police for the production and enforcement of a Military Aviation Protocol for dealing with safety occurrences involving human error. The guiding principles of ‘Just Culture’ shall offer protection against prosecution for self-reporters whilst also enabling prosecution of personnel where wilful acts are committed.
 
The GOC considers the creation of a liaison cell in the Department of Defence Headquarters to ensure proper alignment of policies, doctrine, operations, personnel and safety. The cell to be effective shall be manned by a promising senior officer of the Irish Air Corps with an equivalent staff capable of representing the views of the GOC and the Irish Air Corps to the Higher Headquarters.


Last Updated: 20/02/2017 10:36:19 First Page Previous Page Page of 91 Next Page Last Page