Thursday, 28 February, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Health the percentage and number of people living in Waterford City and County who are in receipt of medical cards, general practitioner only cards, drugs refund scheme.
The Health Service Executive was requested to reply directly:
As at 31st December 2012, 58,774 persons had eligibility for medical cards and 3,805 persons had eligibility for GP Visit cards in Waterford City and County. Nationally 1,853,877 persons have medical card eligibility and 131,102 have GP visit cards. The figure for the number of persons covered by the Drug Payments Scheme in 2012 is not available yet, however, as at 31st December 2011 34,831 persons held Drug Payment Scheme card in Waterford City and County while nationally the figure was 1,518,241.
Thursday, 21 February, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the input, if any, his Department has had into the review of Irish ports with a view to ensuring better regional balance within our €124 billion export sector.
Reply from Minister Richard Bruton: In the context of the Action Plan for Jobs 2012 I asked the Competition Authority to carry out a study of the ports sector in Ireland. As part of this study, the Competition Authority met with a number of Government Departments and agencies, industry representatives, port companies, terminal operators, shipping companies, stevedores, freight forwarders, hauliers and other port users.
The Authority also undertook a public consultation and I understand that the submissions received are currently being examined by the Authority. I am aware that the Authority met with and received a joint response from Forfás, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland. I expect the Authority’s report to be published by Q4 of this year.
The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, who is responsible for policy development and implementation in relation to ports, is also engaged in a review of national ports policy. I understand that Forfás, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland also made a joint submission to a public consultation that formed part of this review. I expect that the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport will take account of the Competition Authority’s study in due course.
Thursday, 21 February, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will expedite new technological universities in view of the fact that our intake of skilled ICT workers from overseas will increase from 700 to 1,900 in 2013.
Reply from Minister Ruairí Quinn:
As you are aware, I endorsed the framework for system development laid out in the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 which outlines a developmental pathway towards designation as a Technological University for merged institutes of technology who seek to apply. The implementation process of this is well underway.
The Landscape document published in February 2012 lays out a clear four stage process and criteria for institutes of technology who wish to apply for designation as a technological university. The process for designation is designed to ensure educational quality, objectivity, international expertise, fairness and transparency. The first stage requires institutes of technology to submit a formal expression of interest in merging and seeking designation. The Higher Education Authority are considering proposals and their advice on system configuration later this year will include their advice on the progress of institutes of technology interested in seeking designation to the second stage of the designation process.
::: Minister Leo Varadkar
Tuesday, 19 February, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the tourism-specific funding programmes that are likely to be available under the new EU Multiannual Financial Framework, 2014-2020.
Reply from Minister Leo Varadkar: As the Deputy will be aware, responsibility in relation to the European Union's overall Multi-Annual Financial Framework for the period 2014 to 2020 is a matter for my colleague the Minister for Finance in the first instance.
On the 7/8th February, political agreement was reached on the Multi-Annual Financial Framework for 2014 to 2020. This is the first step in terms of overall agreement which will now require the consent of the European Parliament. The political agreement on the budget includes overall expenditure ceilings for various overarching subheads. The agreed Framework does not give a detailed breakdown of financial allocations for smaller programmes and sector specific allocations for areas such as tourism will depend on the more detailed negotiations under the various legislative acts covered by the MFF package.
In terms of our position in these discussions, obviously it is our view that tourism as a highly important sector at national and EU level should be appropriately recognised in the specific sectoral programmes. Our priority will continue to be that any future tourism measures at EU level should be clearly additional to national efforts and should have a clear impact on the tourism industry here.
It is likely that tourism can benefit from a range of different EU programmes, with rural development (which is a matter for my colleague the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine) likely to be of particular benefit to tourism in Ireland.
Other possible areas which may support tourism include regional and employment measures and also a proposed programme for the competitiveness of Enterprises and SMEs (the so called COSME proposal), which may include some tourism-specific measures and for which my colleague the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation is primarily responsible. Our position is that we will look at all tourism measures under the MFF in the round and ensure that all appropriate opportunities to benefit the Irish tourism industry are availed of.
Tuesday, 19 February, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation when the Competition Authority’s study of Irish ports will be published.
Reply from Minister Richard Bruton: The Competition Authority's study of Irish Ports is expected to be published by Q3/4 of this year. A public consultation on the study was launched by the Competition Authority on 14 December 2012 and submissions were due in to the Authority by 8 February 2013. I am informed that the submissions received are currently being examined by the Authority.
Deputy Deasy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport when he expects to publish the review of national ports policy; and if the process is still open to submissions.
Reply from Minister Leo Varadkar: My Department has now carried out a major review of ports policy. The new policy is designed to provide a coherent framework for all state owned ports and allow for their future development in a manner that suits their individual circumstances. The policy will be considered by the Government in March and it will be published following Government approval as soon as possible after that. Consequently, the period for submissions is now closed.
Wednesday, 13 February, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the efforts that have been made to assist Waterford Airport replace the loss of Aer Arann services to London and Manchester since the start of 2013.
>> Click here for written reply from Minister Leo Vardkar
Wednesday, 13 February, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his attention has been drawn to the concerns about EU plans to publish individual farmers' common agricultural policy details, including their addresses, on a website that could potentially be used by criminals.
>> Click here for written reply from Deputy Simon Coveney
Tuesday, 5 February, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Social Protection if she will provide an update on her plans to introduce in 2013 a community employment-type scheme to assist councils in the upkeep of the country’s rural roads network; and if she intends to expedite such a scheme in view of the numbers of tourists expected to travel on Irish roads during The Gathering.
Written reply from Minister Joan Burton: The Government, as part of the Budget package for 2013 announced a number of initiatives focused on providing work opportunities for those currently unemployed. The key elements of this package are to add an additional 2,500 places to JobBridge; 2,000 places on community employment; 2,500 to Tús – the community work placement initiative – and the development of a new initiative with local authorities to provide 3,000 opportunities in 2013. This is in line with the commitments set out in the Action Plan for Jobs and Pathways to Work.
The design of the local authority initiative and the nature of work to be undertaken will be determined by local authorities with the input of a range of stakeholders, including those bodies responsible for the delivery of other schemes funded by the Department of Social Protection. Development work on this new initiative has commenced with the local authorities and I hope to be a position to agree a number of pilot projects to inform the design of this important initiative in the coming weeks.
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if he will provide details of those County Waterford-based projects that have received moneys from the Dormant Accounts fund, through which Pobal, under the auspices of his Department, has dispensed more than €148 million to date.
>> Click here for written reply from Deputy Phil Hogan
Dáil Éireann allocates a certain amount of time on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays during which Deputies may ask questions of Members of the Government relating to Public Affairs connected with their Departments, or on matters of administration for whch they are officially responsible. The Taoiseach answers questions on his own Department on Tuesdays/Wednesdays.