July 16, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason Down's syndrome is not on the list of 11 low incidence disabilities that qualify for resource teaching hours in view of the fact that it occurs in 0.2% of the population; the action that is being taken to deliver a more appropriate model than GAM to meet the complex learning needs of children with Down's syndrome following the critical report of the Children’s Ombudsman.
REPLY / Minister Ruairí Quinn:
I wish to explain to the Deputies that pupils with Down syndrome attending mainstream schools may receive additional teaching support in primary schools, either under the terms of the General Allocation Model (GAM) of teaching supports, if the pupil's educational psychological assessment places the pupil in the mild general learning disability/high incidence disability category, or through an allocation of individual additional resource teaching hours which are allocated by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), if the child is assessed as being within the low incidence category of special need, as defined by my Department's Circular Sp Ed 02/05.
Pupils with Down syndrome may be allocated resources under the category of mild general learning disability, or under the categories of moderate general learning difficulty or Assessed Syndrome, in conjunction with another Low Incidence disability.
I wish to advise the Deputies also that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has a formal role under the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN) Act, 2004 in advising me in relation to any matter relating to the education of children and others with disabilities.
My Department requested that the NCSE consider the issue of whether Down syndrome should be reclassified as a low incidence disability in all instances, regardless of assessed cognitive ability, in the context of its preparation of comprehensive advice on how the educational system supports children with special educational needs in schools.
The NCSE report on Supporting Children with Special Educational Needs in Schools has now been published and is available on the NCSE website, www.ncse.ie. The report recommends that under the new resource allocation model proposed by the NCSE in its report, children should be allocated additional resources in line with their level of need, rather than by disability category.
The NCSE has recommended that in the short-term, pupils with Down syndrome pupils who are in the Mild General Learning Difficulty (Mild GLD) category should continue to be supported by schools' Learning Support allocation in the same way as other pupils with a Mild GLD.
The NCSE policy advice did not recommend that an exception should be made for children with Down syndrome who are in the mild general learning difficulty range, over other children who are in the mild range and who also may have other co-morbid conditions.
However, the NCSE report states that it is confident that the introduction of a new allocation model will overcome the difficulty posed by all children with mild general learning disabilities, including children with Down Syndrome, who have additional difficulties and who can be supported according to their level of need and in line with their learning plan process. In the meantime, schools are reminded that they can differentiate the level of learning support granted to ensure that available resources are used to support children in line with their needs.
I have requested the NCSE to immediately proceed to establish a Working Group in order to develop a proposal for consideration for a new Tailored Allocation Model, which is set out as one of the principal recommendations of the report. In the course of my recent meeting with Down Syndrome Ireland a number of issues were raised which I consider merit further examination. Accordingly I have asked my officials to consider these issues further and to provide a full response to Down Syndrome Ireland on the issues raised as soon as possible.
Answered on July 9, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if he will outline Ireland's financial contribution to the European Space Agency each year since 2002 inclusive.
Deputy Deasy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the number of Irish companies or persons who have won contracts awarded by the European Space Agency each year since 2002 inclusive.
Deputy Deasy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the proportion of Enterprise Ireland's annual budget, in percentage and actual terms, which is devoted to space-related enterprise supports and activities.
Reply from Minister of State at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Sean Sherlock: (I propose to answer PQs, 262, 263 and 264 together.) The table attached at Appendix 1 sets out Ireland’s contribution to the European Space Agency (ESA) each year from 2002 to 2012 together with the number of contracts awarded by ESA to Irish companies and other entities. The number of contracts is based on data provided by ESA.
Ireland’s investment in ESA is channelled directly through my Department’s Vote and, as such, Enterprise Ireland has no specific funding ring-fenced for space related enterprise supports and activities. However, all Enterprise Ireland R&D support programmes are available to space companies and 3 rd level institutions where any such applications meet the relevant programme criteria. Enterprise Ireland has 2.5 staff members devoted to space related enterprise supports and activities such as helping companies to secure international funding from Framework Programme 7 and European Space Agency contracts.
Answered on July 9, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the total spend on artworks in each of the past seven years by his Department and bodies under his aegis.
Reply from Minister Jimmy Deenihan: The three main collecting institutions under the auspices of my Department are the National Gallery of Ireland, the Irish Museum of Modern Art and the Crawford Art Gallery.
Whilst my Department provides funding to the National Cultural Institutions, the Board of each institution is responsible for all operational matters, including acquisitions of artworks, and I do not have a statutory function in respect of such day-to-day matters.
However, I am having the position regarding the total spend on artworks by my Department directly over the last seven years clarified and a reply will issue directly to the Deputy in relation to this matter.
Deputy Deasy asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the estimated value of artworks owned by the State, under the aegis of his Department, that are currently in storage.
Reply from Minister Deenihan: The three main collecting institutions under the auspices of my Department are the National Gallery of Ireland, the Irish Museum of Modern Art and the Crawford Art Gallery.
Whilst my Department provides funding to the National Cultural Institutions, the Board of each institution is responsible for all operational matters, including storage of artworks, and I do not have a statutory function in respect of such day-to-day matters.
I am having the position regarding the estimated value of artworks owned by the State under the aegis of this Department clarified and a reply will issue directly to the Deputy in relation to this matter.
Answered on July 9, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 360 and 361 of 20 March 2013, when the circular letter referred to in the reply will be issued to planning authorities, in view of the fact that a number of applications are in limbo due to the ambiguity surrounding the five year grant of permission time limit; and the clarification proposed in relation to sections 41 and 42 of the Planning and Development Act, 2000.
Reply from Minister of State, Jan O'Sullivan: Under section 41 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, the duration of a planning permission (referred to as “the appropriate period”) is the period specified in the permission, or 5 years, whichever is longer. Section 42 provides that an application to extend the duration of the appropriate period must be made prior to the expiration of that period.
The decision of the High Court in the case of Patrick Browne and Kerry County Council referred to in Question No. 361 would appear to mean that all time limits and periods referred to in the Planning and Development Acts 2000 - 2012 are extended by 9 days: the period between 24 December and 1 January, both days inclusive. My Department is preparing a Circular Letter for issue in the coming weeks to planning authorities on this matter, and, in the context of further legislation, will consider whether the provisions of the Act require any clarification.
Answered on July 9, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Social Protection her views as to the reason Ireland has an unemployment rate of 30.3% in the 15 to 24 age group, almost double the OECD average of 16.2%.
Reply from Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton: In Q4, 2012, OECD data show that Ireland had a youth unemployment rate of 29.2% and an unemployment rate of 14.3% for all persons in the labour force. This compares to an overall OECD youth unemployment rate of 16.4%, with 8% unemployment in the OECD labour force. In both instances, the rate of youth unemployment is slightly double the rate of unemployment in the overall economy.
Young people, typically, suffer disproportionately from job losses in recessions as they tend to have entered employment more recently, are more likely to hold temporary contracts and to be employed in cyclically sensitive industries than older workers. The youth unemployment rate in Ireland is higher than the OECD average as the overall level of unemployment is higher in Ireland than in the OECD.
Answered on July 4, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the number of times an order has been made since the enactment of the Valuation Act of 2001 requiring a rating authority to exercise its powers to make rates in such a manner that it does not exceed the amount of rates to be paid to it in the first year following a revaluation, except for any increase determined by the consumer price index.
Reply from Minister Phil Hogan (above): Local authorities are under a statutory obligation to levy rates on any property used for commercial purposes, in accordance with the details entered in the valuation lists prepared by the independent Commissioner of Valuation under the Valuation Act 2001. The levying and collection of rates are matters for each individual local authority. The annual rate on valuation (ARV), which is applied to the valuation of each property, determined by the Valuation Office, to obtain the amount payable in rates, is decided by the elected members of each local authority in the annual budget and its determination is a reserved function.
The Commissioner of Valuation is conducting a programme of revaluation of all commercial and industrial properties throughout the State on a county by county basis. The purpose of the revaluation process is to provide for more consistent and up-to-date valuations for rating purposes and to assist in providing a more equitable distribution of valuations across those liable to pay rates.
To allay concerns that local authorities might gain a disproportionate increase in rates income in the year following a revaluation, a provision was included in the Valuation Act 2001 to limit the overall amount of income it could raise through rates in the year following a revaluation to the total amount of rates liable to be paid to it in the previous year, plus buoyancy (arising from valuations determined in the year of a revaluation of newly constructed property), adjusted for inflation as measured by the CPI.
Rate limitation orders have been made in each of the local authorities to have undergone a revaluation to date, namely, South Dublin County Council, Fingal County Council and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council. Orders will be drafted for Dublin City Council, Waterford County Council, Waterford City Council and Dungarvan Town Council by year end to take effect from 1 January 2014.
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.