May 30, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the current number of persons incarcerated in Irish prisons; and the number for each of the last five years.
Reply from Minister Alan Shatter: I can inform the Deputy that there were 4,245 persons in custody on 27 May 2013.
A breakdown of the number of persons in custody on the same date for the previous five years is included in the above table.
May 30, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of prison officers employed by the State for each of the past five years.
Reply from Minister Alan Shatter: I wish to inform the Deputy that the attached table outlines the number of Prison Officer grades (all grades, from Recruit Prison Officer to Governor level) employed by the Irish Prison Service for each of the past five years. Figures are based on whole time equivalent numbers serving on 31st December for each year:
May 30, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of retirees from the Garda Síochána from all ranks in each of the past five years.
Reply from Minister Alan Shatter: I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that the number of members, broken down by rank, who have retired from the force on voluntary, compulsory or other grounds, in the years ending 31 December 2008 to 2012 and up to 30 April 2013, the latest date for which figures are readily available, is set out in the attached table.
May 30, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of Gardaí deployed to the traffic corps in each of the past five years.
Reply from Minister Alan Shatter: The Deputy will be aware that the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel, throughout the organisation and I have no direct function in the matter. This allocation of resources is constantly monitored in the context of demographics, crime trends, policing needs and other operational strategies in place on a District, Divisional and Regional level to ensure optimum use is made of Garda resources and the best possible Garda service is provided to the public.
I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that while all Gardaí have responsibility, inter alia, to deal with Traffic Policing issues as and when they arise, the number of personnel assigned to the Traffic Corps on 31 December 2008 to 2012 and also on 30 April 2013, the latest date for which figures are readily available, was as set out in the table hereunder:
May 30, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Health the number of medical cards issued to persons by county in 2012. He also asked the Minister for Health the number of general practitioner cards issued to persons by county in 2012.
Reply from the Health Service Executive: The HSE Primary Care Reimbursement Service (PCRS) is currently not configured to provide the figures in the format requested. Please see attached document showing the number of eligible persons on Medical Cards and GP Visit Cards as at 31st December 2012 by local health office area.
May 30, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the timetable for common agricultural policy negotiations over the coming days.
Reply from Minister Simon Coveney: Following what I think were extremely useful and productive informal discussions between the Council, European Parliament and Commission in Dublin earlier this week, my attention is already firmly focused on what I hope will be the final phase of the CAP reform negotiations over the coming weeks, culminating in an overall political agreement between the three institutions at the end of June.
The three institutions have been involved in so-called ‘trilogue’ negotiations since early April. These trilogues are scheduled to continue across all four CAP reform dossiers until 20 June, and it is intended that these discussions will resolve the vast majority of issues, which could be described as being of a largely technical nature. A separate and parallel informal process of discussion on the most sensitive political issues, which fed into the formal May Council and continued in a more substantial way at the informal meeting in Dublin, will also continue right through the month of June. These are the issues that will prove most difficult to resolve, and it is hoped that this parallel process will reduce the number of such issues to a manageable number of outstanding points that will be finalised, from a Council perspective, at the meeting of Agriculture Ministers in Luxembourg from 24-26 June.
It is worth noting that in the course of the informal meeting in Dublin, all three European institutions re-stated their commitment to reaching an overall political agreement by the end of the Irish Presidency. This encouraging statement of intent, which was reinforced by the constructive approach taken by the participants, makes it clear that the target of reaching an overall agreement by the end of June remains very much on schedule.
May 30, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the amount of aid that has been distributed per county for animal fodder in 2013.
Reply from Minister Simon Coveney: The Fodder Transport Subsidy Scheme had played an important role in contributing to the efforts of recent weeks, with the transport costs of sizeable quantities of fodder being significantly offset by my Department’s contribution. While the Scheme itself ended on Friday, 24 May, as an exceptional measure, I announced that any definite purchases that had been placed by that date, but which will be delivered on or before 31 May, will be included under the Scheme. As with all fodder included under this Scheme, only fodder sold to individual farmers is eligible for the transport subsidy.
Application forms (the relevant sections of which were required to be completed by individual farmers at time of purchase), were initially be retained by the Dairy Co-operative/Milk Purchaser/Mart; these are now in the process of being submitted, en bloc, suitably completed and verified, to the Department for checking of individual thresholds and payment. It is intended that only one payment will issue to each Dairy Co-operative/Milk Purchaser/Mart in respect of their submission for aid on behalf of participating farmers.
In excess of 2,300 loads of imported fodder have benefited from my Department’s contribution to the transport costs under this Scheme; this amounts to in excess of 34,000 tonnes of fodder.
::: The world's largest beet sugar factory at Wissington, Norfolk, UK.
May 30, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the estimate for the overall capital cost costs involved in building a manufacturing plant for the production of sugar.
Reply from Minister Simon Coveney: I would like to give the Deputy the background to this issue. The EU Sugar Regime underwent a radical reform in 2005 following major EU decisions to restructure the industry. A temporary restructuring scheme was introduced with the aim of reducing EU sugar production. Greencore, the holder of the entire Irish sugar quota, availed of this voluntary scheme, dismantled its facilities and ceased production in 2006. Ireland secured €353 million as part of the reform package of which €220 million went to beet growers, €127 million to Greencore and €6 million to machinery contractors. There is no mechanism under the present EU Regulations which would allow for the reinstatement of the sugar quota for the growing of sugar beet in Ireland for the production of sugar.
I know you will be aware that in 2011 I met with two separate groups which had conducted feasibility studies, into the possibility of establishing a new sugar/bioethanol facility in the country. I understand from figures published by the interested groups who are investigating the possibility of building a new facility, that the overall capital cost costs involved could range from €250 million to €400 million, depending on what type of facility will be constructed.
May 30, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the measure his Department is taking with regard to potential changes to the J1 visa system in legislation currently being considered in the United States Congress.
Reply from Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore: The welfare of the Irish abroad in general, and especially the position of undocumented Irish immigrants in the United States, remains an important priority for the Government. The Government have also attached great importance to providing for future flows of migration between Ireland and the United States through the extension of the so called E3 visa scheme to include Irish citizens. The Government is continuing to follow closely the progress of the Senate bill on comprehensive immigration reform that is currently under consideration and which would address these issues.
The Senate Immigration Reform Bill (S.744) is a very extensive piece of draft US legislation that contains a comprehensive and complex set of reforms across the US immigration system. The Government has already welcomed the inclusion of provisions which would provide a solution for the undocumented Irish and opportunities for future flows of migration between our two countries. However, all of its provisions, including those in relation to the J1 programme, are at the early stage of the legislative process and it is too early to indicate the timing and final shape of any legislation.
The Government greatly values the current provision of the J1 programme and believes it is important that the programme be as accessible as possible and that efforts be made to ensure high levels of uptake. Our Embassy in Washington remains in very close contact with the US Congress and the Administration to ensure that the interests of all Irish citizens are advanced in any immigration legislation that is passed.
May 30, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Finance the level of lending to small and medium enterprises by State controlled banks over the past three years.
Reply from Minister Michael Noonan: As the Deputy is aware, the Government has imposed SME lending targets on the two domestic pillar banks for the three calendar years, 2011 to 2013. Each bank was required to sanction lending of at least €3 billion in 2011, €3.5 billion in 2012 and €4 billion in 2013 for new or increased credit facilities to SMEs. Both banks have reported that they achieved their 2011 and 2012 targets.
The pillar banks are required to submit their lending plans to the Department and the Credit Review Office (CRO) at the beginning of each year, outlining how they intend to achieve their lending targets. The banks have submitted their lending plans for 2013 to my Department. My Department, in conjunction with the CRO, has analysed the plans and has met with the banks to discuss them. At the end of the first quarter 2013, both banks are on schedule to meet their targets. The Credit Reviewer has stated in his last report that over €8bn was sanctioned by the banks in 2012, of which approximately €2.5bn (27%) is new lending drawn down.
Separately, the Central Bank of Ireland publishes data on lending to Small and Medium Enterprises by all credit institutions resident in the Republic of Ireland, and commenced compiling these data in March 2010. These figures show that total gross new lending drawdowns by non-financial SMEs between March 2010 and December 2012 amounted to €8.7 billion. (Gross new lending drawdowns refer to funds accessed by SME customers during the period which were not included in the previous period’s stock of credit advanced. This excludes the value of renegotiations/restructures that takes place during the period. It is also not equivalent to sanctioning activity, nor does it cover contingent liabilities, such as letters of credit or similar guarantees. Non-financial SME credit excludes lending to certain financial vehicle corporations in the financial intermediation sector, as their balance sheet size brings them into the SME category.) This is available HERE.
The Central Bank of Ireland does not publish these data separately for state controlled banks. Data for March 2013 are due to be published before the end of June.
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.