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This publication contains the written answers to questions tabled by Members. The content of the responses is as received at the time from the relevant Minister or representative of the Assembly Commission and has not been subject to the official reporting process or changed in any way.

NORTHERN IRELAND ASSEMBLY

Friday 07 November 2008

Written Answers to Questions

Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister
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Assembly Commission

Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister

Community Relations Council

Mr Moutray asked the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister to detail the work carried out by the Community Relations Council to attract applications for (i) core funding; and (ii) project funding, from the evangelical protestant community, in each of the last three years.

(AQW 1596/09)

The First Minister and deputy First Minister (Mr P Robinson and Mr M McGuinness): The Community Relations Council (CRC) is open to applications from all sections of the community. Below is a summary of the overall approach of the organisation to attracting applications.

All CRC Grant Schemes are publicly advertised through the organisation’s website and various community networks i.e. NICVA, through District Council Community Relations Officers and Good Relations Officers and, in the case of the CRC’s EU Programme, advertising is also carried out in the press and through the SEUPB website.

All community and voluntary based groups have open access to the Schemes. In addition, various Information Events on funding opportunities are held throughout the region by all the funding schemes. All grant applications received are processed in accordance with agreed Council practices/operating principles and receive fair and equal treatment. Review/complaints procedures are also in place.

Community Relations Council

Mr Moutray asked the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister to detail the applications for (i) core; and (ii) project, funding from organisations in the evangelical protestant community, apart from ECONI/Centre for Contemporary Christianity in Ireland, received by the Community Relations Council, in each of the last five years.

(AQW 1597/09)

The First Minister and deputy First Minister: The following organisations have made applications to the Community Relations Council over the last five years. In the absence of a definition of ‘protestant evangelical community’ a full list of groups involved in/with protestant church-based projects has been provided. The information is provided by year and by grant.

(i) 2008/09 Core Funding

Group

Amount Requested

Decision

174

£44,216

Approved – initially for 1 year

LINC Resource Centre

£86,653

Approved – initially for 1 year

Forthspring

£25,558

Declined

2008/09 Pathfinder Funding – core costs

Group

Purpose of Funding

Amount

LINC Resource Centre

White City Community Development Association

£36,775

Forthspring

To provide a range of project/programme interventions to address the needs of the local community.

£35,000

(ii) 2008/09 –project funding

Group

Project

Amount Requested

Amount Awarded

174 Trust

Youth Project

£2,575

£2,500

174 Trust

Facilitation for Evaluation

£2,467.50

£2,467.50

Ballysillan Presbyterian Church

Strengthening Civic Society 2008

£990

£990

BT14 Churches Forum

Facilitation of Establishment of Forum

£2,500

£1,930

Lowe Memorial Presbyterian project

Community Fun Day

£600

£600

Lowe Memorial Presbyterian Group

Streetreach at 174 Trust

£250

£250

Markethill Presbyterian Church

Networking Across The Divide

£6,000

£0

Ormeau Churches Together

GLU

£500

£500

PCI

Peacemaking Project 2006-09

£22,500

£7,500

Quaker House

Quilting Towards A Shared Future

£4,512.50

£2,000

Restoration Ministries

Forward Together In Diversity

£3,775

£3,775

Summer Madness

Summer Madness

£3,000

£3,000

Forthspring Inter Community Group

Youth Project

£1,734

£1,734

Forthspring Inter Community Group

Training Project

£1,900

£1,750

Church of Ireland Hard Gospel Project

WWJB Project

£5,000

£0

The Corrymeela Community

Connecting Cultures

£3,505

£3,505

Y Zone

Community Outreach Programme 08

£6,180

£3,000

YMCA Lurgan

Lurgan SOS

£2,490

£2,490

Linc Resource Centre

Women In Conflict

£7,365

£3,000

Youth With A Mission

Faith & Conflict Conference

£6,000

£5,000

(i) 2007/08 Core funding

Group

Amount requested

Decision

Corrymeela

£129,050

Approved – 2 year contract

2007/08 Pathfinder funding – core

Group

Purpose of Funding

Amount

Forthspring

To provide a range of project/programme interventions to address the needs of the local community.

£20,000

LINC Resource Centre

Bonfire management project.

13,500

(ii) 2007/08 Project Costs

Group

Project

Amount Requested

Amount Awarded

Gilnahirk/ St Colmcilles Inter-Church Group

Annual Educational Visit

£550

£550

East Belfast Mission

A Theological Conversation

£3,600

£2,000

Gilnahirk/ St Colmcilles Inter-Church Group

Young Families Group

£1,000

£1,000

Lowe Memorial Presbyterian Church

Community Fun Day

£2,232

£500

Presbyterian Church in Ireland

Peacemaking Project 2006-09

£22,500

£7,500

Quaker House

Quilt Project Phase 2

£7,950

£4,000

Restoration Ministries

Hospitality Evenings

£3,870

£2,070

Linc Resource Centre

Mentoring Programme

£7,205

£5,000

Restoration Ministries

Monthly Networking Meetings

£1,160

£1,160

Restoration Ministries

Faith & Friendship

£1,030

£550

Restoration Ministries

Monthly Networking Meetings

£1,160

£640

Restoration Ministries

Conference- Megan McKenna

£800

£600

Summer Madness

Street Reach

£11,000

£7,000

Corrymeela

Connecting Cultures

£2,500

£2,500

The Y Zone

Community Outreach Programme 07

£4,092

£1,692

(i) 2006/07 core funding

Group

Amount requested

Decision

Forthspring

£30,849

Approved – 2 year contract

174 Trust

£41,656

Approved – 2 year contract

LINC

£31,458

Approved – 2 year contract

(ii) 2006/07 project funding

Group

Project

Amount Requested

Amount Awarded

Adullam Christian Ministries

25th Anniversary Integrated Education Exhibition

£8,000

£4,000

Ballymena Inter-Church Alpha Organising Committee

BICA Course

£3,000

£0

Ballysillan Presbyterian Church

Strengthening Civic Society 2006

£742.50

£742.50

Belmont Council of Churches

Significant Places in the life of St Patrick

£550

£550

Church of God Shankill

What’s it all about?

£2,000

£2,000

City of Belfast YMCA

Staff Training

£1,920

£0

Linc Resource Centre

Rathcoole CR Work

£2,000

£2,000

Summer Madness

Street Reach

£9,500

£5,000

Summer Madness

International Reconciliation Conference

£7,500

£5,000

Y Zone

Community Outreach Programme 2006

£4,610

£3,500

(i) 2005/06 Core funding

Group

Amount Requested

Decision

174 Trust

£38,802

Declined

LINC Resource Centre

£44,800

Approved – 1 year contract

The Link (N’ards)

£40,095

Declined

2005/06 Pathfinder Funding – core

Group

Purpose of Funding

Amount

174 Trust

To promote the building of bridges and good relations between all the communities in North Belfast, by encouraging mutual understanding through honest dialogue and meaningful engagement.

£33,382

(ii) 2005/06 Project funding

Group

Project

Amount Requested

Amount Awarded

Forthspring Inter Community Group

Training For Trainers on Non-Violence

£4,000

£4,000

Forthspring Inter Community Group

Summer Diversionary Programme

£5,000

£4,000

Forthspring Inter Community Group

Summer Diversionary Programme

£1,500

£1,500

174 Trust

Staff & Management Training

£3,565

£3,565

Ballymacarett Inter-Church Group

Group Outing to Downpatrick Area

£179

£179

Ballysillan Presbyterian Church

Strengthening Civic Society Project

£742.50

£742.50

Church of Ireland

Shared Future

£1,800

£1,390

Conference of Religious Ireland

Joppa Project

£10,000

£5,000

Cookstown & District Inter-Church Forum

Community Event

£17,000

£0

Down & Dromore Reconciliation Committee

Rwanda Visit – bursary costs

£10,000

£5,000

Dungannon & District Clergy Forum

Strategic Plan

£2,950

£2,950

East Belfast Mission

Breaking the cycle

£2,340

£1,560

Fermanagh Churches Forum

Programme 05-06

£1,375

£800

Gilford & Tullyish Churches Together

Community BBQ

£3,300

£1,400

Gilford & Tullyish Churches Together

Exploration of diversity of background

£4,300

£2,100

Gilnahirk/ St Colmcilles

Christmas Weekend

£1,500

£1,100

Gilnahirk/ St Colmcilles

Inter-Church Group

£500

£500

Link Family & Community Centre

Community Relations Project

£5,985

£3,500

Immanuel Church of Ireland

Creating Community

£1,230

£1,230

New Mossley Presbyterian Youth Club

Cross Community Weekend in Corrymeela

£1,500

£1,500

Restoration Ministries

Difficult Conversations

£600

£460

Restoration Ministries

Monthly Networking Meetings

£1,160

£1,160

Sligo Presbyterian Church

Gala Celebrations of Christmas Peace

£52510

£0

Summer Madness

International Reconciliation Conference

£9,250

£5,000

Church of Ireland

Hard Gospel Project

£5,000

£2,292

Youth with a Mission

Forgiveness Curriculum Project

£6,000

£0

Linc Resource Centre

Linc/An Eochiar Initiative

£2,900

£2,540

Linc Resource Centre

Creative Expressions

£1,416

£1,396

Linc Resource Centre

Mobile Phone Network (P)

£2,000

£1,492

(i) 2004/05 core funding

Group

Amount Requested

Decision

174 Trust

£37,829

Declined

  1. 2004/05 project funding

Group

Project

Amount Requested

Amount Awarded

Community Relations and Churches

Churches Building the Peace

£4,000

Withdrawn

Community Relations & Churches

Churches Building the Peace

£4,000

Withdrawn

Corrymeela

YNI

£3,900

Withdrawn

Diocese of Derry and Raphoe

Peacebuilding Strategy Conference

£9,100

£5,000

Gilnahirk/ St Colmcilles

Christmas Family Weekend

£1,000

£1,000

East Belfast Mission

Past to Future

£4,900

£3,450

Parish of Glenavy

150 years Celebration of Church Building

£300

£200

P.C.I

Peacemaking Project 2005-08

£22,500

£7,500

P.C.I

Day Conference

£2,000

£1,836

Restoration Ministries

Difficult Conversation

£731

£731

Linc Resource Centre

Mount Vernon Young Men Awareness

£1,000

£664

Linc Resource Centre

Community Relations Improvement

£2,630

£1,835

Gilnahirk/ St Colmcilles

Discussion Group

£700

£550

 

Community Relations Council

Mr Moutray asked the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister to list the organisations from the protestant evangelical community, apart from ECONI/Centre for Contemporary Christianity in Ireland, that have been awarded (i) core; and (ii) project, funding by the Community Relations Council, in each of the last ten years.

(AQW 1598/09)

The First Minister and deputy First Minister:

The following organisations have made applications to the Community Relations Council over the last ten years. In the absence of a definition of ‘protestant evangelical community’ a full list of groups involved in/with protestant church-based projects has been provided. The information is provided by year and by grant.

(i)2008/09 core

Group

Purpose of Funding

Amount

Corrymeela

To advance reconciliation and healing through provision of residential facilities and programme activities.

£132,088

174 Trust

To promote the building of bridges and good relations between all the communities in North Belfast, by encouraging mutual understanding through honest dialogue and meaningful engagement.

£44,000

LINC Resource Centre

To develop and implement a co-ordinated approach to community relations work in Protestant communities across North Belfast and to develop co-operative linkages with organisations in the Catholic community in order to develop both intra and inter community relations.

£78,769

Pathfinder Funding – core costs

Group

Purpose of Funding

Amount

LINC Resource Centre

White City Community Development Association

£36,775

Forthspring

To provide a range of project/programme interventions to address the needs of the local community.

£35,000

  1. 2008/09 project

Group

Project

Amount Awarded

174 Trust

Youth Project

£2,500

174 Trust

Facilitation for Evaluation

£2,467.50

Ballysillan Presbyterian Church

Strengthening Civic Society 2008

£990

BT14 Churches Forum

Facilitation of Establishment of Forum

£1,930

Lowe Memorial Presbyterian project

Community Fun Day

£600

Lowe Memorial Presbyterian Group

Streetreach at 174 Trust

£250

Ormeau Churches Together

GLU

£500

PCI

Peacemaking Project 2006-09

£7,500

Quaker House

Quilting Towards A Shared Future

£2,000

Forthspring Inter Community Group

Youth Project

£1,734

Forthspring Inter Community Group

Training Project

£1,750

Restoration Ministries

Forward Together In Diversity

£3,775

Summer Madness

Summer Madness

£3,000

The Corrymeela Community

Connecting Cultures

£3,505

Y Zone

Community Outreach Programme 08

£3,000

Linc Resource Centre

Women In Conflict

£3,000

YMCA Lurgan

Lurgan SOS

£2,490

Youth With A Mission

Faith & Conflict Conference

£5,000

(i) 2007/08 core

Group

Purpose of Funding

Amount

Corrymeela

To advance reconciliation and healing through provision of residential facilities and programme activities.

£128,866

174 Trust

To promote the building of bridges and good relations between all the communities in North Belfast, by encouraging mutual understanding through honest dialogue and meaningful engagement.

£33,959

LINC Resource Centre

To develop and implement a co-ordinated approach to community relations work in Protestant communities across North Belfast and to develop co-operative linkages with organisations in the Catholic community in order to develop both intra and inter community relations.

£29,977

Forthspring

To provide a range of project/programme interventions to address the needs of the local community.

£21,134

Pathfinder funding – core costs

Group

Purpose of Funding

Amount

Forthspring

To provide a range of project/programme interventions to address the needs of the local community.

£20,000

LINC Resource Centre

Bonfire management project.

13,500

  1. 2007/08 project

Group

Project

Amount Awarded

East Belfast Mission

A Theological Conversation

£2,000

Gilnahirk/ St Colmcilles Inter-Church Group

Annual Educational Visit

£550

Gilnahirk/ St Colmcilles Inter-Church Group

Young Families Group

£1,000

Lowe Memorial Presbyterian Church

Community Fun Day

£500

Presbyterian Church in Ireland

Peacemaking Project 2006-09

£7,500

Quaker House

Quilt Project Phase 2

£4,000

Restoration Ministries

Hospitality Evenings

£2,070

Restoration Ministries

Monthly Networking Meetings

£1,160

Restoration Ministries

Faith & Friendship

£550

Restoration Ministries

Monthly Networking Meetings

£640

Restoration Ministries

Conference- Megan McKenna

£600

Summer Madness

Street Reach

£7,000

Corrymeela

Connecting Cultures

£2,500

Linc Resource Centre

Mentoring Programme

£5,000

The Y Zone

Community Outreach Programme 07

£1,692

(i)2006/07 core

Group

Purpose of Funding

Amount

Corrymeela

To advance reconciliation and healing through provision of residential facilities and programme activities.

£125,000

174 Trust

To promote the building of bridges and good relations between all the communities in North Belfast, by encouraging mutual understanding through honest dialogue and meaningful engagement.

£32,940

LINC Resource Centre

To develop and implement a co-ordinated approach to community relations work in Protestant communities across North Belfast and to develop co-operative linkages with organisations in the Catholic community in order to develop both intra and inter community relations.

£30,000

Forthspring

To provide a range of project/programme interventions to address the needs of the local community.

£20,500

(ii) 2006/07 project

Group

Project

Amount Awarded

Adullam Christian Ministries

25th Anniversary Integrated Education Exhibition

£4,000

Ballysillan Presbyterian Church

Strengthening Civic Society 2006

£742.50

Belmont Council of Churches

Significant Places in the life of St Patrick

£550

Church of God Shankill

What’s it all about?

£2,000

Linc Resource Centre

Rathcoole CR Work

£2,000

Summer Madness

Street Reach

£5,000

Summer Madness

International Reconciliation Conference

£5,000

Y Zone

Community Outreach Programme 2006

£3,500

(i) 2005/06 core

Group

Purpose of Funding

Amount

Corrymeela

To advance reconciliation and healing through provision of residential facilities and programme activities.

150,000

LINC Resource Centre

To develop and implement a co-ordinated approach to community relations work in Protestant communities across North Belfast and to develop co-operative linkages with organisations in the Catholic community in order to develop both intra and inter community relations.

30,000

Forthspring

To provide a range of project/programme interventions to address the needs of the local community.

20,500

Pathfinder Funding – core costs

Group

Purpose of Funding

Amount

174 Trust

To promote the building of bridges and good relations between all the communities in North Belfast, by encouraging mutual understanding through honest dialogue and meaningful engagement.

£33,382

(ii) 2005/06 project

Group

Project

Amount Awarded

Ballymacarett Inter-Church Group

Group Outing to Downpatrick Area

£179

Forthspring Inter Community Group

Training For Trainers on Non-Violence

£4,000

Forthspring Inter Community Group

Summer Diversionary Programme

£4,000

Forthspring Inter Community Group

Summer Diversionary Programme (P)

£1,500

Ballysillan Presbyterian Church

Strengthening Civic Society Project

£742.50

Church of Ireland

Shared Future

£1,390

Conference of Religious Ireland

Joppa Project

£5,000

Down & Dromore Reconciliation Committee

Rwanda Visit – bursary costs

£5,000

Dungannon & District Clergy Forum

Strategic Plan

£2,950

Fermanagh Churches Forum

Programme 05-06

£800

Gilford & Tullyish Churches Together

Community BBQ

£1,400

Gilford & Tullyish Churches Together

Exploration of diversity of background

£2,100

Gilnahirk/ St Colmcilles

Christmas Weekend

£1,100

Linc Resource Centre

Linc/An Eochiar Initiative

£2,540

Linc Resource Centre

Creative Expressions

£1,396

Linc Resource Centre

Mobile Phone Network (P)

£1,492

Gilnahirk/ St Colmcilles

Inter-Church Group

£500

Immanuel Church of Ireland

Creating Community

£1,230

New Mossley Presbyterian Youth Club

Cross Community Weekend in Corrymeela

£1,500

Restoration Ministries

Difficult Conversations

£460

Restoration Ministries

Monthly Networking Meetings

£1,160

Church of Ireland

Hard Gospel Project

£2,292

Summer Madness

International Reconciliation Conference

£5,000

East Belfast Mission

Breaking the Cycle

£1,560

174 Trust

Staff & Management Training

£3,565

(i) 2004/05 core

Group

Purpose of Funding

Amount

Corrymeela

To advance reconciliation and healing through provision of residential facilities and programme activities.

£175,950

Forthspring

To provide a range of project/programme interventions to address the needs of the local community.

£20,500

(ii) 2004/05 project

Group

Project

Amount Awarded

Diocese of Derry and Raphoe

Peacebuilding Strategy Conference

£5,000

Gilnahirk/ St Colmcilles

Christmas Family Weekend

£1,000

Parish of Glenavy

150 years Celebration of Church Building

£200

Linc Resource Centre

Mount Vernon Young Men Awareness

£664

Linc Resource Centre

Community Relations Improvement

£1,835

P.C.I

Peacemaking Project 2005-08

£7,500

P.C.I

Day Conference

£1,836

East Belfast Mission

Past to Future

£3,450

Restoration Ministries

Difficult Conversation

£731

Gilnahirk/ St Colmcilles

Discussion Group

£550

(i) 2003/04 core

Group

Purpose of Funding

Amount

Corrymeela

To advance reconciliation and healing through provision of residential facilities and programme activities.

£190,343

Forthspring

To provide a range of project/programme interventions to address the needs of the local community.

£23,500

(ii) 2003/04 project

Group

Project

Amount Awarded

Churches Initiatives Group

Dealing with Past Grief Consultant

£1,500

COI Youth Council

Video Shorts Project

£3,270

COI Student Centre

Community Relations Evening Sessions

£805

Community Relations and Christians

Serviced Accommodation

£1,620

Community Relations and Christians

Courses on Moving Beyond Sectarianism

£1,320

Community Relations and Christians

Review and Development of Strategic Plan

£725

Cookstown Churches Forum

Series of religious talks

£590

Fermanagh Churches Forum

Bursaries to attend Corrymeela Residential

£510

ForthSpring Inter-Community Group

Study Visit

£2,244

Gilnahirk/ St Colmcilles

Various events

£500

Glenavy Parish

BBQ

£100

Glenavy Parish

Dialogue with local Orange Order

£500

Link Family & Community Centre

Action Research

£7,500

Lisburn YMCA

Millennium Volunteer Project

£4,005

Lisburn YMCA

Community Relations Project

£2,000

Knock Presbyterian Peace Group

Peace Building Weekend

£550

Gilnahirk/ St Colmcilles

Joint Reconciliation Venture to Botswana

£2,000

St Hilda’s Church

Community Fun Day

£700

(i) 2002/03 core

Group

Purpose of Funding

Amount

Corrymeela

To advance reconciliation and healing through provision of residential facilities and programme activities.

£199,358

Forthspring

To provide a range of project/programme interventions to address the needs of the local community.

£19,831

(ii) 2002/03 project

Group

Project

Amount Awarded

Restoration Ministries

Hospitality Evenings

£3,645

Three Churches

Building Bridges of Understanding

£600

Restoration Ministries

Anam Cara Partners Hip Programme

£2,414

(i) 2001/02 core

Group

Purpose Of Funding

Amount

Corrymeela

To advance reconciliation and healing through provision of residential facilities and programme activities.

£182,943

Forthspring

To provide a range of project/programme interventions to address the needs of the local community.

£22,650

2001/02 project

Group

Project

Amount Awarded

Community Christians Together in Ballymena

Community Relations Residential

£1,600

Presbyterian Church Peace and Peacemaking Committee

One-day conference for Peace Agents form Presbyterian Church

£625

Revival Ministries

3 Day Residential Conference

£1,000

Church of Ireland Youth Council

Transforming the Community

£5,000

Presbyterian Church in Ireland

Training and Support Conference for Congregational Peace Agents

£1,000

East Belfast Mission

Conference Costs

£2,000

Ballysillan Presbyterian Church

Meeting Costs (Cross Community Project)

£1,050

Leuenberg Church Fellowship

Conference on Reconciled Diversity

£400

(i) 2000/01 core

Group

Purpose of Funding

Amount

Corrymeela

To advance reconciliation and healing through provision of residential facilities and programme activities.

£168,843

(ii) 2000/01 project

Group

Project

Amount Awarded

Community Restoration Ministries

Monthly Community Relations Event

£1,795

Methodist Church in Ireland

Churches support and work with victims of the Troubles

£400

Ards Presbyterian Christian Training & Resources Centre

Residential Conference

£500

Springfield Road Methodist Church

Four-day conference (Anglo-Irish Methodist Forum)

£500

Forthspring Inter Community Group

Training Programme/Resource Book

£5,000

Dromore Presbytery Peacemaking Committee

The Gospel, Blame and New Relationships

£400

Roe Valley Clerical Study Group

Conference Costs

£200

Newtownabbey Methodist Mission

Community Audit

£3,850

  1. 1999/2000 core

Group

Purpose of Funding

Amount

Corrymeela

To advance reconciliation and healing through provision of residential facilities and programme activities.

£176,288

(ii) 1999/2000 project

Group

Project

Amount Awarded

Dromore Presbytery Peacemaking Committee

Inter Church Meeting

£267.94

World Community for Christian Mediation

International Symposium

£5,000

Presbyterian Church Peace and Peacemaking Committee

Half day conference for clergy and lay leaders

£1,000

Lamb of God Community

Publish and distribute booklet ("Bridging the Gap")

£3,400

Community Relations & Christians

Series of plays and workshops

£2,500

South Down Ecumenical Clerical Study Group

Seminar costs

£380

Linc Resource Centre

Publication of Document

£5,000

174 Trust

Conference Costs

£366.50

  1. 1998/99 core
  2. Group

    Purpose of Funding

    Amount

    Corrymeela

    To advance reconciliation and healing through provision of residential facilities and programme activities.

    £165,000

  3. 1998/99 project

Group

Project

Amount Awarded

Christian Fellowship Church Ards

Community Relations Audit

£2,000

Presbyterian Church in Ireland

Conference- Facing Change

£1,275

Women in Faith

Conference Costs

£217.39

Craic with Christ

Programme Costs

£2,000

Presbyterian Church in Ireland

Conference Costs

£1,000

Dromore Presbytery Peacemaking Committee

Series of meetings on Identity and the Bible

£230

Lamb of God Community

A Journey in Understanding Course

£200

Lamb of God Community

Programme Costs

£400

Townsend St Presbyterian Church

Study Day for Clergy on Community Relations

£200

Linc Resource Centre

Magazine Costs

£1,240

Forthspring

Spirituality Programme

£800

Lamb of God

Programme Costs

£400

Community Relations and Christians

Series of Talks

£400

174 Trust

Cross Community Celebration

£150

Community Relations Council

Mr Moutray asked the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister to detail the work it has undertaken to ensure that the Community Relations Council does not discriminate against any community when awarding (i) core; and (ii) project funding.

(AQW 1599/09)

The First Minister and deputy First Minister: The Community Relations Council (CRC) is subject to all of the equality legislation that applies to public bodies.

Equality Legislation

Mr Simpson asked the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister how it defines sexual orientation when interpreting equality legislation.

(AQW 1604/09)

The First Minister and deputy First Minister: The interpretation of equality legislation is a matter for the courts. However, sexual orientation is defined in Regulation 2(1) of The Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003 and Regulation 2 (2) of The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006 as meaning:-

"a sexual orientation towards:

  1. persons of the same sex;
  2. persons of the opposite sex;
  3. persons of the same sex and of the opposite sex."

Capital Realisation Taskforce

Mr Beggs asked the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister for an overview of the recommendations made by the Capital Realisation Taskforce.

(AQO 860/09)

The First Minister and deputy First Minister: The Capital Realisations Taskforce made recommendations to the Executive covering the following areas: -

Victims Groups

Mr Moutray asked the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister to detail the meetings attended by (i) the First Minister; and (ii) the Deputy First Minister, with representatives of victims' groups, since devolution.

(AQW 1698/09)

The First Minister and deputy First Minister: Since assuming office on 8th May 2007, we have held meetings with the British Irish Rights Watch.

The deputy First Minister has met representatives of the Disabled Police Officers Association and from the Shankill Stress and Trauma Centre.

In addition, we have both met with the Consultative Group on the Past to discuss victims’ issues.

The Junior Ministers have also had regular meetings with a variety of victims’ groups.

Equality Provisions

Mr Simpson asked the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister how it interprets religious belief when implementing equality provisions including those in (i) the Northern Ireland Act 1998; (ii) UK equality legislation; and (iii) EU directives.

(AQW 1699/09)

The First Minister and deputy First Minister:

Individual practices or observances resulting from religious belief are protected by both domestic and European equality law. However, it is for the courts and tribunals to determine how such practices and observances are protected in light of the particular issues and facts involved in each case. In determining such cases, courts and tribunals have to balance competing rights and interests.

Designation of Public Authorities

Mr Simpson asked the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister to list all 'other persons' designated as a public body in accordance with Section 75(3)(d) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

(AQW 1703/09)

The First Minister and deputy First Minister: Section 75(3)(d) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 states "any other person designated for the purposes of this section by order made by the Secretary of State". Consequently this is a matter for the Northern Ireland Office. We would suggest that you write to the Secretary of State in this regard.

Equality Provisions

Mr Simpson asked the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister for its interpretation of 'religious belief' when implementing all equality provisions in (i) the Northern Ireland Act 1998; (ii) other UK equality legislation; and (iii) EU Directives.

(AQW 1706/09)

The First Minister and deputy First Minister:

The law often defines terms or expressions used in a statutory provision or applies definitions contained in other statutory provisions. For the purposes of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, section 98(1) of that Act provides that the term "religious belief" is to be construed in accordance with Article 2(3) of the Fair Employment and Treatment (Northern Ireland) Order 1998 (FETO). Article 2(3) of FETO provides that a reference to a person’s religious belief includes a reference to his supposed religious belief or the absence or supposed absence of any particular religious belief.

In relation to EU law, the definition of religious belief in FETO has been further clarified to comply with the requirements of the "religion or belief" strands of Council Directive 2000/78/EC. The Fair Employment and Treatment Order (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003 inserted a definition of "religious belief" into Article 2(2) of FETO. That definition defines religious belief as including "any religion or similar philosophical belief". No further explanation of the terms "religion" or "similar philosophical belief" is offered in FETO. Ultimately, it falls to the courts and tribunals to rule on what is meant by "religious belief" as a matter of domestic or Community law.

Display of Flags

Mr A Maskey asked the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister what consideration it has given to a re-examination of the current inter-agency protocol for the display of flags in public areas; and what plans it has to progress this matter.

(AQW 1785/09)

The First Minister and deputy First Minister: The inter-agency Flags Protocol that was launched prior to devolution in 2005 is still current and operational. The preliminary work that began earlier this summer on the review of the Protocol will continue.

We hope that you are reassured that the current protocol will continue to be implemented as it presently stands.

We also hope that our approach to the review of the Protocol, on foot of the outcome of the wider consultation on the Programme of Cohesion, Sharing and Integration can be seen as adding to the effectiveness of the review.

Woodland

Mr Ford asked the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister to make a statement on the Woodland Trust’s Vision for Woodland in Northern Ireland, and if it recognises that the proposals in the report could deliver on many of the Executive’s commitments.

(AQW 1851/09)

The First Minister and deputy First Minister: The ‘Vision for Woodland’ document presents a useful perspective on the environmental and social aspects of forestry. We believe that this provides useful commentary in support of the Forestry Strategy ‘Northern Ireland Forestry, A Strategy for Sustainability and Growth’ produced by the Forest Service in 2006, and it can help inform decision-making in relation to sustainable development.

Capital Realisation Taskforce

Mr Hamilton asked the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister if (i) the Capital Realisation Taskforce report has been released under the Freedom of Information Act; and (ii) their Department intends to publish it.

(AQW 1855/09)

The First Minister and deputy First Minister: A copy of the report of Capital Realisations Taskforce has been released under the Freedom of Information Act.

We are considering the issue of general publication of this report.

Woodland

Mr Ford asked the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister if the Department acknowledges the importance of a woodland creation target in delivering on the commitment to enhance the natural environment, as part of the Sustainable Development Strategy.

(AQW 1914/09)

The First Minister and deputy First Minister: We recognise the valuable role that the forestry industry plays within the rural economy and the potential opportunities emerging through the developing renewable energy crops sector. We also understand the widespread social and environmental benefits afforded by woodlands. The importance of a woodland creation target, within the context of the Northern Ireland Forestry Strategy, is considered an important part of the Sustainable Development Strategy.

Regeneration of Ebrington Site

Mr Durkan asked the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister to provide a progress update on regeneration of the Ebrington site in Derry/Londonderry.

(AQW 1917/09)

The First Minister and deputy First Minister: ILEX, the urban regeneration company owned jointly by this Department and the Department for Social Development, has responsibility for the redevelopment of the Ebrington site in Derry/Londonderry and we are pleased to report substantial progress.

An extensive Masterplan was published in October 2006 outlining the vision for the development of the former military barracks. The key to delivering this will be the appointment of a private sector development partner to attract investment. This appointment is expected to be made next year.

In the meantime, a major demolition programme is now complete, as is detailed work to restore the 19th century Star Fort. Planning applications have been lodged for the refurbishment of some of the listed buildings. Work is also well underway to design the infrastructure for the site, for example, the competitive tender competition for the Parade Ground design will be advertised shortly.

A key development for Ebrington and for the city as a whole will be the outcome of the EU funding bid for the proposed pedestrian and cycle bridge across the Foyle to link the Waterside with the Cityside between Ebrington and the Guildhall. An announcement is expected shortly.

Sustainable Development Commissioner

Mr McCarthy asked the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister when it is expected that an appointment will be made to the post of Sustainable Development Commissioner.

(AQO 874/09)

The First Minister and deputy First Minister: We view the appointment of a local Commissioner to the Sustainable Development Commission as an important part of our plans to progress the sustainable development agenda both within Government and in the wider public domain. We are currently considering the ways in which we can most effectively take this matter forward in support of our long-term plans and priorities for sustainable development.

Public Procurement

Mrs McGill asked the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister to outline the role public procurement can play in achieving the PfG commitments to redress poverty.

(AQO 896/09)

The First Minister and deputy First Minister: The Executive’s Programme for Government (PfG) and ISNI Strategy are very clear about the role that public procurement can play in redressing poverty.

We are about promoting greater employment opportunities in rural areas and disadvantaged communities.

We are about developing new and innovative measures that will address existing patterns of socio-economic disadvantage and target resources and efforts towards those in greatest objective need.

We will ensure that the reforms and restructuring will be compliant with recognised best practice in social procurement guidelines.

We will be seeking to have in place employment plans; building opportunities for apprenticeships into major delivery contracts – helping those eager to develop key skills valued in the workplace – and all done through a tendering process that prioritises the most economically advantageous option, seeking to maximise the social and employment opportunities for all our people.

From that it will be clear that public sector procurement can play an active and effective role in the process of tackling patterns of socio-economic disadvantage.

Public sector procurement expenditure by Northern Ireland Departments, their Agencies, Non-Departmental Public Bodies and Public Corporations, accounted for approximately £2.2 billion of supplies, services and construction works in 2007-2008. The leverage provided by this level of spend will provide significant opportunities to support the delivery of the Executive’s priorities, set out in the Programme for Government 2008-2011.

Public procurement therefore has an important role to play in regeneration and achieving socio-economic objectives whilst adhering to legal requirements. It is a challenging area for government which we must seek to exploit in developing the Executive's Regional Economic Strategy and taking forward poverty initiatives.

Guidance on integrating Equality of Opportunity and Sustainable Development in Public Sector Procurement was launched on 29 May 2008. The guidance provides practical advice and case studies for policy makers and practitioners to assist them to more effectively integrate equality of opportunity and sustainable development considerations into public sector procurement.

Although the guidance has been developed by Central Procurement Directorate, working in conjunction with the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, it is for individual Departments to determine how best to apply it in their respective business areas.

It is this implementation of the guidance, supported by appropriate training, which will support the Executive's approach in delivering its priorities under the Programme for Government.

Junior Ministers

Mr Dallat asked the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister what role the junior Ministers have in relation to children and young people.

(AQO 887/09)

The First Minister and deputy First Minister:

The Junior Ministers have responsibility for the co-ordination of policy which impacts on children’s and young people’s lives and their role is to ensure these issues remain high on Government’s agenda.

To achieve this, they jointly chair the Ministerial Sub-Committee on Children and Young People which has been established by the Executive. The Sub-Committee has identified and is taking forward six key priority areas for action.

The Junior Ministers are also driving forward implementation of the 10-Year Strategy for Children and Young People. They chair a Strategy Planning and Review Group, which includes key statutory, voluntary and community sector representatives, who are working on the next three year strategy action plan.

The Junior Ministers have a twelve month work plan, a key aspect of which is leading engagement by the Executive with children and young people, and hearing their views and opinions. As part of this role, they hosted a Youth Debate on anti-social behaviour in the Assembly on 23 October with 140 young people aged between 11 and 17. This event was ground breaking as it was the first time this Chamber had been used in this way. The event was a great success with Junior Ministers actively engaging with the young people and taking away their ideas and suggestions for further consideration.

The Junior Ministers will also be meeting with the OFMDFM Committee on 5th November 2008 to discuss their work plan and a range of issues concerning Children and Young People. This will include the work of the Ministerial Sub-Committee and the draft children and young people’s strategy action plan.

Executive Meetings

Mr Kennedy asked the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister what emergency procedures exist to cope with the situation that has arisen because of the inability of the Executive to meet since June.

(AQO 824/09)

The First Minister and deputy First Minister:

The procedure set out in paragraph 2.14 of the Ministerial Code enables any Minister to seek agreement to a decision which is required to be taken so urgently as not to be able to await consideration at the next Executive Committee meeting.

Public Service Agreement

Dr McDonnell asked the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister how it will deliver on PSA 21, enabling efficient government, when the Executive has not met for over 3 months.

(AQO 928/09)

The First Minister and deputy First Minister: OFMDFM has lead responsibility for co-ordinating the delivery across relevant departments of PSA 21. In that capacity, OFMDFM has worked closely with contributing departments to develop a detailed Delivery Agreement to ensure the successful achievement of the objectives, commitments and targets set out in PSA 21. As a result, all targets set out under PSA 21 for OFMDFM are on track for achievement.

Conflict Transformation Centre

Mr McCallister asked the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister for the expected cost of the Conflict Transformation Centre at the Maze.

(AQO 851/09)

The First Minister and deputy First Minister:

The estimated capital cost for the proposed International Centre for Conflict Transformation as outlined in the 2006 Masterplan for Maze/Long Kesh is £10.2m. This is very much a broad order of cost pending detailed specification and design, and would require updating.

Business Awaiting Consideration by Executive

Dr Farry asked the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister for its assessment of the scale and scope of outstanding business awaiting consideration by the Executive.

(AQO 878/09)

The First Minister and deputy First Minister: Ministers have brought forward a number of matters for consideration by the Executive. However, it is not our practice to disclose details of Executive business. The content of Executive papers, including draft papers, is confidential.

Strategic Review of the Parades Commission

Mr Simpson asked the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister for an update on its response to the interim consultative report by the Strategic Review of the Parades Commission.

(AQO 847/09)

The First Minister and deputy First Minister: We have met with Lord Ashdown and members of the Strategic Review of Parading Body Commission about the interim consultative report on the 6 October 2008 and we will consider their recommendations when the final report is published.

Capital and Revenue Projects

Ms J McCann asked the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister what discussions it has had with all Departments to ensure they bring forward their capital and revenue projects to secure jobs and help alleviate the financial difficulties in households and businesses in the present economic downturn.

(AQO 902/09)

The First Minister and deputy First Minister: The Executive is determined to deliver the Investment Strategy to the fullest extent possible within the constraints of the funding available to us.

We are exploring urgently with departments, the Strategic Investment Board and others how the Executive can maximise the pace of delivery of the Investment Strategy over the Budget period.

Emerald Fund

Mr Neeson asked the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister to provide an update on the Emerald Fund.

(AQO 879/09)

The First Minister and deputy First Minister:

To date the Emerald Fund has not been accessed in relation to public sector projects.

The fund is not an additional resource that can be used by departments to increase their net spending power. Whilst it is potentially another source of monies for the private sector alongside established commercial options used to finance infrastructure projects, it cannot be used to increase the expenditure allocations contained in the Budget.

We understand that the Emerald Fund’s interests include areas of infrastructure provision that fall within the private sector such as energy and telecommunications.

NI Bureau in Washington

Mr Burnside asked the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister what contact it has had with the NI Bureau in Washington on the impact of the credit crunch on US inward investment in Northern Ireland.

(AQO 826/09)

The First Minister and deputy First Minister: The Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister is in close contact with the Northern Ireland Bureau and InvestNI on the current economic situation and its potential impact on inward investment from the United States (US). The Bureau recently facilitated a visit by Junior Minister Donaldson and Junior Minister Kelly to the US during which they had the opportunity to meet with a range of key interests in the corporate and business sectors and to discuss the current economic situation and its potential impact on inward investment. The Ministers used the opportunity to promote Northern Ireland as an investment location and the advantages for US based companies and investors doing business here. The Bureau will continue to work closely with InvestNI in monitoring developments.

Post-Primary Education

Mr Storey asked the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister when the Executive will take a decision on the future of post-primary education.

(AQO 853/09)

The First Minister and deputy First Minister: It is not possible at this time to indicate when the Executive will take a decision on the future of post-primary education.

Credit Crunch

Mr Burns asked the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister for an update on the contribution it has made to alleviate the impact of the credit crunch.

(AQO 871/09)

The First Minister and deputy First Minister: To date we have hosted a series of ‘Cost of Living’ meetings with the Banking, Construction, Business and Energy sectors as well as the Utility Regulator and Trade Unions to gather information on the impact of the present difficult financial situation on local social and economic interests. We also are meeting with representatives from the Social and Voluntary sector. These meetings have proved to be useful in providing a forum for each sector to give us their view on where difficulties exist and to discuss how we can best protect local interests in the current adverse economic conditions.

We would anticipate completing our series of stakeholder meetings over the next few weeks. We are currently consolidating a paper on the issues raised during these meetings as well as tracking initiatives already put forward by Executive Ministers. We hope to put a consolidated paper to the Executive in November. The complexities of the economic crisis do not allow simple or quick fixes. This is an issue we will need to keep under review as it develops, and tailor our responses appropriately. For this reason we are keen to see this matter as a standing item of Executive business.

Agriculture and Rural Development

Electronic Identification Tagging

Mr P J Bradley asked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development for her assessment of the future of the sheep industry if electronic identification tagging is introduced.

(AQW 1505/09)

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (Ms M Gildernew): I understand and appreciate the challenges that our sheep industry will face in successfully implementing a system of electronic identification for sheep. However, we must introduce an electronic identification system from 31 December 2009, as it is an obligation under EU law.

While electronic identification will help to reduce the cost of any future disease outbreak insofar as it will help secure effective traceability there is no question that it will also place a financial burden on keepers, as electronic tags are slightly more expensive than conventional ear tags, and some keepers will also need to purchase electronic readers. I would, however, point out that for many of our keepers electronic identification of sheep could be as simple as applying electronic tags and recording information manually. Under EU legislation, keepers have a choice of whether they wish to record information electronically, or not.

We have secured several transitional arrangements through lobbying the Commission, which will phase in individual recording requirements between 2010 and 2012. These changes will allow further time for the industry to adapt to the new arrangements and will help to reduce the record keeping burden, particularly with regard to older animals which are not electronically identified. Discussions on other technical aspects are also ongoing.

Electronic identification of sheep can deliver on-farm benefits by not only reducing the risk of human error in recording animal details, but by providing efficiency benefits in farm management and animal breeding for keepers who are able to adopt on-farm software and electronic sheep handling equipment. Electronic identification provides the potential to modernise farms and make record keeping easier. I have made funding available for this under the Farm Modernisation Measure of the NI Rural Development Programme.

For the wider industry, there are significant potential benefits that may be realised if we integrate electronic identification with existing APHIS infrastructure in abattoirs and markets, including more effective control of any serious disease outbreak and potential access to higher value markets.

My officials will continue working closely with the authorities in the South and in Britain, and with industry, to identify practical solutions to reduce the burden on keepers and to realise the opportunities that electronic identification represents.

New Technology in Rural Areas

Mr Savage asked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development to outline what assistance both financial and otherwise, is available for inventors of new technology in rural areas.

(AQW 1557/09)

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development: Under Axis 3 of the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013, Measure 3.1 (Diversification into Non-Agricultural Activity) provides £20 million to support members of farm households who wish to diversify into non-agricultural activities, while Measure 3.2 (Micro-business Creation and Development) provides a further £20 million to new or existing micro-businesses in a non-agricultural sector for the creation of employment developing the economic infrastructure in rural areas.

Under these measures, assistance will be available to individuals and private businesses, including the social economy, for projects in rural areas to help new businesses become established or existing businesses to consolidate or expand, including for technical support, bespoke training, capital and resource costs and marketing support. This could include new technologies.

The Axis will be delivered through a bottom-up approach, with local councils working together with Local Action Groups to set priorities for their area. This mechanism will ensure that funding decisions are made by local people, within a competitive process, in line with the priorities set in a locally developed strategy. The Department and its Delivery Agents will also work with other Agencies to assist entrepreneurs to develop the skills for a successful business start-up, thus reducing risks.

In addition I am advised by the Department for Employment and Learning that, while it does not offer any direct financial support for inventors of new technology, in some instances Further Education colleges can offer expertise to mentor and support industries and individuals that are key to the region’s development.

Organic Farming Scheme

Mr T Clarke asked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development what plans she has to review the level of payment given to farmers under the Organic Farming Scheme contained within the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme.

(AQW 1564/09)

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development: There are currently no imminent plans to review the level of payment given to farmers within the Organic Farming Scheme.

If a robust economic argument is put forward in relation to any of the proposed payment rates, then my Department will certainly consider it.

Other than that, the Scheme, as part of the NI Rural Development Plan, will be looked at again within the Programme’s 2010 mid-term review.

Red Meat Industry Task Force Report

Mr T Clarke asked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development how much money has been sought by her Department for the red meat industry, following the publication of the Red Meat Industry Task Force Report.

(AQW 1565/09)

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development: I would like first of all to put this issue in context. Significant funding is already available to the sector. The Single Farm Payment which is available up to 2013 at least provides direct funding to farmers and represents substantial transitional support to underpin the sector. This is important and provides the industry with a good opportunity to address the need for change.

Whilst I appreciate that there are significant challenges facing the red meat industry and I know that it would like additional support, the reality is that there is a finite pot of money. Nevertheless as part of the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review my Department has put in bids totalling £15m Capital Grant in respect of 2008/09, 2009/10 and 2010/11, to implement any schemes which may arise from the recommendations of the Task Force Report. To date we have not been successful on this front but that does not deter our willingness and commitment to support the industry. Consequently a further bid for £5m was recently submitted to DFP as part of their Strategic Stocktake review in respect of 2009/10 and 2010/11 for potential capital grant schemes to support the red meat industry.

I also wish to advise that the industry receives significant support from Government through AFBI and CAFRE. In addition, other funds are available to it under the Rural Development Programme.

Dairy Products

Mr T Clarke asked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development what discussions she has had with (i) the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; and (ii) other devolved administrations in the United Kingdom, to lobby the European Union on the reintroduction of export refunds on dairy products.

(AQW 1566/09)

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development: A key issue relating to this topic is that fact the 2003 CAP reform agreement introduced a dairy premium and additional payment payable annually to producers (now incorporated in the Single Farm Payment). Whilst this aspect of the agreement was welcomed by producers, the quid pro quo measure was a reduction in intervention prices. The overall aim was to bring EU prices closer to world market prices and to reduce the need for export refunds. This means that the Commission is obliged to adhere to the CAP Reform agreement and accordingly cannot artificially support prices for milk powders above intervention prices.

I note that the data presented at the last meeting of the EU Management Committee confirmed that EU milk powder prices were above intervention prices. In view of this Member States did not have a sound basis to request the Commission to reintroduce export refunds and I understand that in the interim prices have remained above intervention levels.

Whilst I share the industry’s concern about the current weak markets for milk powders, I trust that you will appreciate that it would not be appropriate at this stage to use valuable negotiating capital with other Agriculture Departments on this issue. That said, I can assure you that the situation is being carefully monitored and, if necessary, I will lobby strongly with the Secretary of State for DEFRA to ensure that the North’s circumstances are fully taken into account.

Since the 2003 CAP Reform our dairy industry has been at a crossroad. When it became clear that export refunds would play a much less significant role in returns for dairy products some processors took steps to move to the processing of higher added value products. I welcome this development and would encourage all processors to follow a market-led approach by moving away from basic commodity production to higher value products. Only in this way will the dairy industry reduce its vulnerability to volatile world markets and continue to make an important contribution to the local agri-food industry.

Compensation for Farmers

Mr T Clarke asked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development what conacre payments will be included within any scheme to compensate farmers, after the flooding on 16 August 2008.

(AQW 1567/09)

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development: There is currently no compensation available or reimbursement for crop or other losses. However, I have agreed in principle to the payment of a one –off hardship payment under EC de minimis rules (not based on specific cost elements) to those farmers affected by the flooding on 16 August, subject to affordability and business case considerations. I intend to make my assessment available to the Executive in order to secure the support of Ministerial colleagues on the way forward.

Wind Energy for Rural Businesses Scheme

Mr T Clarke asked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development what criteria were used to appoint personnel to carry out the review of the Wind Energy for Rural Businesses scheme.

(AQW 1568/09)

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development: The identification of personnel to conduct the review was based on the desire for the appointee to have knowledge and experience of European Funding and the Rural Development Programme, but with no connection past or present with the administration or implementation of the WERB Scheme. The individual chosen to lead the review meets these criteria and also has had experience of audit work He is currently employed within the Central Services Group in the Department. He was assisted in this task by individuals within his own Branch and Service Delivery Group, together with a professional engineer who was appointed to assess

the technical and contractual aspects of the WERB Scheme.

Single Farm Payment

Mr P J Bradley asked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development how many Single Farm Payment decisions, determined by Independent Review Panels (i) in favour of the appellant; and (ii) in favour of her Department, were overthrown by her since taking up office.

(AQW 1581/09)

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development: The External Panel do not make decisions in relation to the Single Farm Payment scheme. Their remit is to provide an external view of my Department’s decisions and make a recommendation. The final decision in relation to Stage 2 of the Review of Decisions process rests with my Department.

Since taking office, 104 decisions in relation to Single Farm Payment Stage 2 Review of Decisions applications have been made. Of these 99 Panel recommendations have been accepted and are broken down as follows:

In the remaining 5 cases, the Panel recommended that 4 should be upheld, these recommendations were not accepted. In 1 case the Panel recommended that the case should be rejected, this case was upheld in part.

Purchased Cattle

Mr P J Bradley asked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development what plans she has to remove the 30 day holding rule for purchased cattle; and to detail the benefits of this rule to the agriculture industry.

(AQW 1582/09)

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development: I have no plans to remove the 30 day restriction on imported cattle, which is a vital component in our efforts to prevent bluetongue entering and becoming established here.

With the exception of the South, which is free from bluetongue, certain conditions apply in the case of cattle and sheep imported from any area of GB and mainland Europe to ensure good biosecurity is achieved and that the animal is not affected by bluetongue.

Animals imported for breeding and production are required to be isolated; housed in a house which has been cleansed, disinfected and treated with insecticide; and restricted until they have two clear bluetongue tests.

In the case of cattle these tests are carried out around 7 and 30 days post import; and for sheep at around 15 days and 30 days. Anyone intending to import animals is made aware of these conditions in advance and is provided with advice on biosecurity. We undertake these measures in order to protect the agriculture industry here from bluetongue.

The current veterinary risk assessment states that the greater threat of bluetongue coming here is from the importation of infected animals. The recent cases of bluetongue infected animals imported to England and Wales from Europe demonstrates that this threat is very real.

It is because of this risk that I have repeatedly encouraged the industry not to import stock from high risk areas. It is also why I have put in place measures to allow us to quickly identify any infected animals imported and reduce the risk of spreading infection to neighbouring flocks and herds.

Rivers Agency

Mr Storey asked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development to detail the work carried out by the Rivers Agency, as a result of the floods during the summer, in (i) Moyle District Council area; (ii) Ballymoney Borough Council area; and (iii) Ballymena Borough Council area; and to detail the associated costs of the work undertaken.

(AQW 1633/09)

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development: As a result of the extreme flooding event experienced on 16 and 17 August 2008 the Rivers Agency has to date carried out emergency repair to existing flood defences and removal of debris works totalling £12,750 in the Moyle District Council area, £3,000 in the Ballymoney Borough Council area and £11,750 in the Ballymena Borough Council area. Further to this, repair works following flood damage are ongoing and the Agency is in the process of commissioning a number of studies throughout all affected areas.

Feasibility Studies

Mr Storey asked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development how many feasibility studies have been carried out, following the flooding during the summer, in (i) Moyle District Council area; (ii) Ballymoney Borough Council area; and (iii) Ballymena Borough Council area.

(AQW 1634/09)

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development: DARD Rivers Agency has not yet completed any feasibility studies in the Moyle, Ballymoney or Ballymena Council areas relating to the flooding on 16 and 17 August 2008. Such studies are by their nature complex and far reaching, and may take some time to complete.

The Agency has been very active in all areas affected by the widespread and extreme flooding experienced on 16 August 2008. It has been investigating all watercourse-related flooding incidents of which it has been aware. Where rapid and practical solutions to flooding problems have been achievable, the Agency has completed such works. And where other minor works have been required, the Agency has, where possible, carried out such works in order to alleviate the risk of future flooding.

With regard to more extensive flooding problems the Agency has commissioned studies relating to several of the locations affected by the flooding. Furthermore, it is in the process of commissioning a large number of studies throughout all the remaining affected areas.

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The Agency recognises that there have been flooding problems within the 3 Council areas mentioned and is committed to resolving problems for which there is a cost-effective solution. It will address these in due course as resources permit.

Farming Industry

Mr Savage asked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development to provide provisional cost estimates of damage caused by flooding on 16 August 2008 to the farming industry in the Upper Bann constituency.

(AQW 1747/09)

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development: I am unable to provide a cost breakdown for the Upper Bann constituency area. However, for the Upper Bann and Lagan river catchment areas the estimated losses are £97,000, and £66,000 in respect of potatoes and cereals. These figures are based on input costs.

Forest Service

Mr Elliott asked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development to detail the number of new hectares of forestry planted by Forest Service, each year since 1970.[R]

(AQW 1748/09)

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development: Details of annual Forest Service new planting from 1973 to March 2008 are shown in the table below. No records of planting from 1970 to 1973 are held.

Forest Service new planting

YEAR

HECTARES OF NEW PLANTING

1973 - 1974

1492

1974 - 1975

1063

1975 - 1976

977

1976 - 1977

998

Apr to Dec 1977

968

1977 -1978

945

1978 - 1979

715

1979 - 1980

714

1980 - 1981

641

1981 - 1982

720

1982 - 1983

638

1983 - 1984

628

1984 - 1985

725

1985 - 1986

638

1986 - 1987

568

1987 - 1988

585

1988 - 1989

623

1989 - 1990

561

1990 - 1991

600

1991 - 1992

426

1992 - 1993

422

1993 - 1994

365

1994 - 1995

296

1995 - 1996

158

1996 - 1997

140

1997 - 1998

94

1998 - 1999

112

1999 - 2000

196

2000 - 2001

87

2001 - 2002

61

2002 - 2003

79

2003 - 2004

89

2004 - 2005

13

2005 - 2006

14

2006 - 2007

0

2007 - 2008

15

Total 17,366 hectares

Forest Service

Mr Elliott asked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development to detail the number of new hectares of short rotation coppice planted by the Forest Service, each year since 1995.

(AQW 1750/09)

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development: Forest Service has not planted any Short Rotation Coppice.

Flood Damage

Mr Simpson asked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, pursuant to her answer to AQW 833/09, when she will conclude her consideration of funding options available following her Department's assessment of flood damage to the river catchment areas of (i) Moyola; (ii) Lagan; (iii) Upper Bann; (iv) Blackwater; (v) Maine; and (vi) Sixmilewater.

(AQW 1760/09)

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development: I have agreed in principle to the payment of a one – off hardship payment under EC de minimis rules to those farmers affected by the flooding on 16 August, subject to affordability and business case considerations. I intend to make my assessment available shortly to the Executive in order to secure the support of Ministerial colleagues on the way forward.

Rivers Agency

Mr Shannon asked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development what discussions officials from the Rivers Agency had with local farmers in relation to the Clea Lakes in Killyleagh; and to detail any agreements reached.

(AQW 1772/09)

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development: Rivers Agency officials have not met with farmers to reach any agreement about the Clea Lakes. At the request of parties who had declared an interest Rivers Agency met to explain where responsibility lay for the contol of lake levels and how Rivers Agency may consider taking over control if there was satisfactory legal transfer of rights from the current owners. There has been no legal transfer to date.

Tree Felling Licences

Mr B Wilson asked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development what progress has been made on the introduction of tree felling licenses.

(AQW 1795/09)

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development: On 19 June 2008, the Executive Committee agreed that a new Forestry Bill could be drafted to replace the Forestry Act (NI) 1953. The Forestry Bill will contain a provision to regulate the felling and regeneration of woodlands by means of a felling licence. Formal, detailed instructions will be issued to the Office of the Legislative Counsel shortly.

It is anticipated that the Bill will be ready for introduction to the Assembly in March/April 2009, most likely after the Easter recess.

Forestry Policy

Mr Ford asked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development if she will revisit 'Northern Ireland, A Strategy for Sustainability and Growth', to address all strategic issues that affect forestry policy, including (i) the protection and restoration of ancient woodland; (ii) climate change and its impact on woodland; and (iii) how government can deliver native woodland creation to benefit both the public and wildlife.

(AQW 1828/09)

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development: I am content that NI Forestry: A Strategy for Sustainability and Growth reflects an appropriate balance between the many views which were expressed during the policy review, and has settled future forest policy.

The Strategy does not contain some of the details which you seek, but is a high level document which points to how the agreed policy will be taken forward. The Strategy does indicate that Forest Service will consider drawing up more focussed strategies, in consultation with stakeholders, and as part of its normal business cycle.

Forest Service developed recently a strategy for the management of Departmental woodland identified on the ancient woodland inventory. Management of this woodland will be reviewed in conjunction with Forest Service periodic review of forest plans, based on the ecological potential of the woodland, indicated by the presence or absence of ancient woodland remnant features, and features which reinforce habitat networks. This assessment will form the basis of whether and where to restore a site to native woodland.

In relation to evidence on impact of climate change on forestry, Forest Service engages with a wide range of organisations such as the Scottish and NI Forum For Environmental Research(SNIFFER), COFORD (National Council for Forest Research and Development) , WWF and Forestry Commission in relation to research and the communication of research findings in this emerging field.

Forest Service provides grant aid and advice to help landowners create new native woodland under the Woodland Grant Scheme (WGS) and Farm Woodland Premium Scheme. This is guided by the publication earlier this year by Forest Service of the Native Woodland definitions and Guidance booklet, produced by the Native Woodland Group. The booklet provides important information in relation to native species, native woodland, new native woodland, local provenance and the use of natural colonisation as a means of creating new native woodland. Forest Service also monitors the creation of grant-aided new native woodland by priority woodland type and updates the Native Woodland Group and the NI Biodiversity Report. Between 1999 and 2006, 571 hectares of new native woodland were created under the WGS and native woodland is becoming an increasingly popular option for those creating new woodlands.

Woodland

Mr Ford asked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, given that Northern Ireland is the least wooded region of Europe, what plans Forest Service has to increase on woodland creation; and what financial incentives are available to private landowners.

(AQW 1831/09)

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development: The Forest Service "Strategy for Sustainability and Growth", published in March 2006, identified forest expansion as a key policy aim and stated the aim of doubling the area of forest in the North over a 50 year period. New planting will be achieved primarily through the conversion of privately owned agricultural land, supported by funds made available under the Rural Development Programme. The Strategy recognised that farmers have a strong commitment to farming which means that forest expansion is likely to be slow at first, however, my Department is committed to a programme of encouraging woodland expansion.

In addition to provision of planting grants, Forest Service has introduced a Publicity and Marketing Strategy to highlight the benefits of woodland ownership, produced an indicative map showing where new woodland could be potentially the best long term land use and will carry out a study identifying the main barriers affecting expansion and how these may be overcome.

The establishment of new woodland is primarily encouraged through two grant schemes: the Woodland Grant Scheme and the Farm Woodland Premium Scheme. New planting under the Woodland Grant Scheme is grant aided at a rate of up to £1850 per hectare for areas of 0.2 hectare and over, paid in two instalments.

In addition to the Woodland Grant Scheme, farmers may receive annual payments through the Farm Woodland Premium Scheme to compensate for agricultural income foregone by creating woodland. Each application must be for at least one hectare and payments are made for either 10 or 15 years, depending on the trees planted and how they will be managed.

The rates of annual payment range from £60 - £270 per hectare depending on the category of land being planted and whether it falls inside or outside the Less Favoured Areas (LFA).

Woodland

Mr Ford asked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development what plans she has to afford absolute legislative protection to all ancient and long established woodland.

(AQW 1833/09)

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development: The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has no plans to afford absolute legislative protection to all ancient and long established woodland.

At present, proposal to change woodland to another land use, not subject to a planning permission process, are covered by the Environmental Impact Assessment (Forestry) Regulations (NI) 2006. However, a new Forestry Bill to replace the Forestry Act (NI) 1953 is currently being drafted, which will contain a provision to regulate the felling and regeneration of woodlands by means of a licence.

The licence will compel forest owners to manage woodlands in a sustainable manner, including the timing and extent of felling, and the composition of regenerating woodlands. A consideration for any such licence will be whether the woodland in question appears on the ancient woodland inventory.

The new Forestry Bill should be ready for introduction to the Assembly in March/April 2009, most likely after the Easter recess.

Likewise the Department of Environment’s Planning and Environmental Policy Group (PEPG) has no plans to bring forward legislative protection for ancient and long-established woodland.

However, PEPG is currently considering how to bring forward policy protection to ancient and long-established woodland from development proposals as part of the review of Planning Policy Statement 2: Planning and Nature Conservation.

Currently, in considering whether or not to grant planning permission the Department of the Environment’s Planning Service will have regard to the ancient woodlands inventory map as one of a number of material planning considerations.

Woodland

Mr Ford asked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development if she will restore all planted ancient woodland sites under the Forest Service's stewardship, as part of the commitment to arrest biodiversity decline.

(AQW 1834/09)

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development: The Department cannot restore all plantations on ancient woodland sites because there is insufficient evidence of an economic, social or environmental requirement for such a target and there are no clearly defined means by which such a target could be achieved. However, the Department accepts the principle of restoration of plantations on ancient woodland sites and has recently developed a strategy for the management of ancient woodland identified on the Woodland Trust’s Ancient Woodland Inventory published in 2007.

Management of this woodland is reviewed in conjunction with Forest Service plans, based on the presence, or absence, of ancient woodland remnant features and features which reinforce habitat networks.

Environmental and Rural Development Fund

Mr P J Bradley asked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development to (i) confirm that on 27 February 2006 the Northern Ireland Secretary of State launched a £59.2m Environmental and Rural Development Fund; and (ii) provide a breakdown of how her Department directed this allocation.

(AQW 1903/09)

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development: In February 2006, the NI Secretary Of State launched a £59.2m Environmental and Renewable Energy Fund (EREF). This was a two-year fund managed by DETI to pump-prime the adoption of renewable energy technologies in an attempt to stimulate the market. This Fund should not be confused with the funding to support the NI Rural Development Plan.

I understand that you have asked a similar question to DETI and they will be able to provide a breakdown as to how the total fund was allocated.

However, you may wish to note DARD was successful in a number of bids from the EREF, totalling £4.2 million over the two year period namely:-

Tree Felling Licences

Mr McKay asked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development if she has any plans to introduce tree felling licences.

(AQW 1909/09)

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development: On 19 June 2008, the Executive Committee agreed that a new Forestry Bill could be drafted to replace the Forestry Act (NI) 1953. The Forestry Bill will contain a provision to regulate the felling and regeneration of woodlands by means of a felling licence. Formal, detailed instructions will be issued to the Office of the Legislative Counsel shortly.

It is anticipated that the Bill will be ready for introduction to the Assembly in March/April 2009, most likely after the Easter recess.

Woodland

Mr Ford asked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development since 35% of the planted ancient woodlands sites are in private ownership, what plans her Department has to increase financial incentives for restoring these sites.

(AQW 1911/09)

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development: Although a significant proportion of planted ancient woodland sites are in private ownership, this in itself does not create a need to alter the arrangements under which the Department supports private forestry.

Based on the results of the 2007Ancient Woodland Inventory (AWI), the majority of privately owned planted AWI woodland already consists of broadleaved or mixed conifer-broadleaved woodland. Within this kind of mixed woodland type, the extent to which ancient woodland features, including native woodland ground flora and veteran trees, are under threat from shading, is generally quite low.

While there are no plans to increase the levels of incentives available to private landowners, that are specifically for restoration of Ancient Woodlands, the Department already provides support under a number of forestry and agri-environment grant schemes that are also applicable to these sites

Woodland

Mr Ford asked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development if she will commit to creating a national inventory of all woodland sites to measure the success of the target to double woodland cover contained within the 2006 forestry strategy for sustainability and growth.

(AQW 1912/09)

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development: Forest Service maintains an accurate and detailed inventory of woodland managed by the Department and updates this on an annual basis. Currently this covers approximately 70% of forest area in the North. The basis for determining the area of non-Forest Service woodland comes from a private woodland inventory carried out by Forest Service in the late 1970s. This is periodically updated to take account of new areas of woodland created under Woodland Grant Schemes.

Forest Service acknowledge some limitations in the current approach, particularly the estimates around new private woodland created outside forestry grant schemes. Forest Service will consider using other available woodland information to provide more comprehensive inventory data, allowing changes in woodland cover over the long term to be more fully captured.

Woodland

Mr Ford asked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development why the target in the Programme for Government does not commit to the figure of 17,400 hectares of new woodland planted annually, to double woodland cover.

(AQW 1915/09)

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development: Doubling our woodland cover will require an additional 86,000 hectares of woodland to be created over the next 50 years, primarily by conversion of privately owned agricultural land to woodland with support provided under the Rural Development Programme.

The Forestry Strategy acknowledges a strong desire among farmers to continue farming, which means that woodland expansion is likely to be slow at first and hence the Programme for Government targets were set at 1,650 hectares over a three year period at the rate of 550 hectares per year. In the longer term, as the reform of CAP gains momentum and growing more woodland becomes attractive to landowners it is anticipated that the demand for forestry grant schemes will increase.

The target of 1650 ha recognises the likely rate of afforestation in the current circumstances and that expected within the programme for Government period.

Compensation for Crops Lost

Mr Shannon asked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development to detail the discussions she has had with the Ulster Farmers' Union to provide compensation for crops lost in the Strangford constituency, due to bad weather.

(AQW 1975/09)

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development: I met with the Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) on 21 August in the aftermath of the severe flooding of 16 August to discuss the way forward in terms of assessing damage on farms. I have had no discussions with UFU specific to the Strangford constituency.

New Clandeboye Yoghurt

Mr Shannon asked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development if she is aware of the new Clandeboye Yoghurt; and what practical and financial assistance her Department has given to promote this new business.

(AQW 1976/09)

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development: I am aware of the new Clandeboye Estate yoghurt and met some of those involved with the business at the 2007 NI. Food & Drink Association Awards.

My Department, through the College of Agriculture, Food & Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) at Loughry Campus, provided significant practical assistance to Clandeboye Estate to develop its yoghurt products. The yoghurts were initially manufactured at Loughry under its Pre-Incubation Programme and test marketed. Loughry continues to provide technical support and staff training for the business.

At the invitation of my Department, the company participated in a prestigious ‘Slowfood’ event in Belfast in May 2007, promoting artisan food producers and their products.

The Company has also received advice from the Department on the financial assistance available under the Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 and has recently made an application to the Processing and Marketing Grant Scheme.

International Renewable Energy Conference and Exhibition

Mr Dallat asked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development to detail the cost to her Department of co-sponsoring the International Renewable Energy Conference and Exhibition, hosted by Agri-Food & Biosciences Institute Conference on 29 and 30 October 2008 at the Slieve Donard Hotel.

(AQW 2113/09)

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development: The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development agreed to host a pre-conference dinner at which I presented the Departmental policy on renewable energy. The final cost of this dinner is not yet available, but is estimated to be approximately £2,000. As part of this sponsorship arrangement, the Department’s College for Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) was also provided with exhibition space at the Conference free of charge to promote its work in renewables.

Rose Energy and Invest NI

Mr Dallat asked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development whether she and her officials were aware that her Department was co-sponsoring an event, in partnership with Rose Energy and Invest NI, organised by Morrow Communications who are working as public relations consultants for Rose Energy.

(AQW 2114/09)

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development: DARD was aware that both Rose Energy and Invest NI were two of seven sponsors of the AFBI International Renewable Energy Conference and that Morrow Communications was engaged to provide event management services. This was an international scientific conference looking at a range of renewable energy technologies. AFBI procured event management services through a robust public procurement exercise. The event management services did not include sponsorship raising activities.

I am aware of the Rose Energy proposal for a chicken litter incinerator. Whilst the decision relating to planning approval for this project rests with another Department, it is on public record that I would support a public enquiry into this matter so that the views of farmers, local residents and all those potentially affected by this development are taken into consideration.

International Renewable Energy Conference and Exhibition

Mr Dallat asked the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development if there is a conflict of interest in relation to her Department's co-sponsorship of the International Renewable Energy Conference and Exhibition, because of the involvement of Invest NI, Rose Energy and Morrow Communications, who are organising the conference and working as public relations consultants for Rose Energy on its incinerator proposal.

(AQW 2115/09)

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development: I am not aware of any conflict of interest in relation to DARD’s sponsorship of the pre-conference dinner at AFBI International Renewable Energy Conference and Exhibition due to the involvement of Invest NI, Rose Energy and Morrow Communications. The appointment by AFBI of Morrow Communications as the event management company for the Conference was managed by a centre of procurement excellence, with a specific focus on methodology, experience and costs during the procurement process. Morrow Communications had no responsibility for raising sponsorship.

Sponsorship services were awarded to another consultancy company on the basis of a separate public procurement exercise.

 

Culture, Arts and Leisure

Commemorations of the Plantation of Ulster

Mr Wells asked the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure what plans have been made for the upcoming commemorations of the Plantation of Ulster.

(AQW 1461/09)

The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure (Mr G Campbell): A number of organisations supported by my Department are involved in facilitating a variety of activities in relation to the Plantation of Ulster. These include a documentary series, exhibitions, and the publication of educational resources.

Receptions Hosted By Minister

Mr McKay asked the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure to list all the receptions he has hosted, since taking up office.

(AQW 1478/09)

The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure: I have hosted 8 receptions since taking up office. These are outlined below.

Sports Pitches and Facilities

Mr Weir asked the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure what his Department is doing to encourage sports clubs to cooperate with schools to share sports pitches and facilities.

(AQW 1506/09)

The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure: The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL), in partnership with Sport Northern Ireland (SNI), is currently developing a new 10 year Strategy for Sport and Physical Recreation in Northern Ireland. A draft of this Strategy, which was published for consultation in October 2007, contains proposals for encouraging sports clubs to collaborate with schools and the education sector on the sharing of sports facilities. The Budget 2008/2011 is informed by the priorities set out within this draft Strategy and provides a total of £145.3 million for sport over the next 3 years.

The Department of Education also considers that children and young people can benefit greatly from developing their physical literacy skills and participating in sporting activities. The Department’s curriculum sports programme provides additional opportunities to do so for our youngest primary school children, and it welcomes opportunities for co-operation between schools and sporting bodies where this is possible.

Through the Extended Schools programme the Department of Education is seeking to establish each extended school as the hub of its local community engaging positively and actively with neighbouring schools, statutory, voluntary and community sector organisations in an effort to meet the needs of the pupils in the school, their families and the wider community as a whole. DE is therefore keen to encourage greater community use of school premises when not otherwise required by the school, including improved access to school sports pitches and facilities.

In addition, where feasible, the Department of Education seeks to encourage school authorities to consider shared sports facilities when examining options for major capital works.

Library Buildings and Mobile Libraries

Mr Gardiner asked the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure to outline the provision for library buildings and mobile libraries, in the Upper Bann constituency and Southern Education and Library board area.

(AQW 1595/09)

The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure: The Southern Education and Library Board (SELB) has 23 branch libraries serving a population of approximately 385,000. The Board also provides mobile library services with 213 stops provided by four vehicles mainly on a fortnightly basis, with some weekly stops. Supporting these services are 2 housebound mobile libraries providing 356 stops across the SELB area calling mainly with individuals as well as old people's homes and day centres, generally on a three weekly basis.

The public library service provides a range of services including book lending, free internet access and homework clubs.

Within the Upper Bann constituency there are 5 Branch Libraries, namely: Lurgan, Portadown, Brownlow, Banbridge and Gilford. A full list of the mobile stops in the Southern Board area is attached.

Housebound mobiles – individual calls in areas listed

WEEK

 

MON

TUES

WED

THURS

FRI

ONE

SSM1

GLENANNE

FORKHILL

MEIGH

BESSBROOK

MOUNTNORRIS

MARKETHILL

WHITECROSS

NEWRY

WARRENPOINT

POYNTZPASS

LOUGHBRICKLAND

NEWRY

JERRETTSPASS

MOUNTNORRIS

BESSBROOK

NEWRY

RATHFRILAND

MAYOBRIDGE

HILLTOWN

RATHFRILAND

BALLYWARD

KATESBRIDGE

SSM2

OFF

ARMAGH

EDENAVEYS

HAMILTONSBAWN

CRAIGAVON

LURGAN

BATTLEHILL

ARMAGH

MILFORD

FERLA

MULLAGHBAWN

CROSSMAGLEN

CULLYHANNA

NEWTOWNHAMILTON

TWO

SSM1

PORTADOWN

LURGAN

PORTADOWN

KILKEEL

ANNALONG

TANDRAGEE

LURGAN

WARINGSTOWN

GILFORD

LURGAN

SSM2

DONAGHMORE

GALBALLY

POMEROY

NEWMILLS

COALISLAND

DERRYLAUGHAN

TAMNAMORE

LOUP

ARBOE

COAGH

MONEYMORE

CHURCHTOWN

LISSAN

KINNEGO

CHARLEMONT

MOY

MOYGASHEL

BENBURB

TULLYSARRON

KEADY

TASSAGH

GRANEMORE

FOLEY

MARKETHILL

KILLYLEA

TYNAN

AUGHNACLOY

AUGHER

CLOGHER

FIVEMILETOWN

BALLYGAWLEY

DERGENAGH

GREYSTONE

DYAN

THREE

SSM1

OFF

BANBRIDGE

DROMORE

BANBRIDGE

LURGAN

NEWRY

ROSTREVOR

KILKEEL

SSM2

MIDDLETOWN

NEWTOWNHAMILTON

BALLYMACNAB

COOKSTOWN

THE ROCK

PORTADOWN

AHOREY

RICHILL

DUNGANNON

DONAGHMORE

CASTLECAULFIELD

LOUGHGALL

KILLYMAN/BUSH

BALLYNAKELLY

BIRCHES

SALTERS GRANGE

 

M2 draft timetable, March 2007

Monday 1

Ballyards 10.00 - 10.30

Darkley 11.00 - 11.30

(Taylor Cottages)

Granemore 11.40 – 12.00

LUNCH

Ballymoyer 1.30 – 3.00

Lisadian-Mrs XXX 3.15 – 3.25

Whitecross 3.40 – 4.40

Mrs XXXX 4.45 – 5.00

Tuesday 1

Out

Ballygasson 11.00 – 11.30

Tullyroan 11.45 – 12.30

LUNCH

Blackwatertown 2.15 – 5.00

Back

Wednesday 1

Out

Banbridge- HB stops:

Pinley Green 10.45 – 11.00

(Castlewellan Rd)

Iveagh Dr 11.10 – 11.20

Newry Rd 11.30 – 11.45

Katesbridge 12.15 – 12.45

LUNCH

Millstone Close 1.50 – 2.05

(Moneyslane)

Ballyward 2.15 – 2.30

Leitrim 2.40 – 2.50

Gransha XXXXX 3.20 – 3.35

Back

Thursday 1

Out

Tandragee

HB, Markethill Rd 11.45 – 12.00

Clare (near PS) 12.15 – 12.45

LUNCH

Tandragee

HB Ballylisk Lane 1.30 – 1.45

HB Mullavilly 1.50 – 2.05

Ahorey (Wallace Car Sales) 2.15 – 2.45

Ahorey Sunset Hill 3.00 – 3.30

Edenavey’s Estate 4.30 – 5.00

Back

Friday 1

No service

 

Monday 2

No service, staff in HQ

Tuesday 2

Out

Loughgall Village 12.50 – 1.30

LUNCH

Armagh HB Monaghan Rd 3.15 – 3.25

Madden 3.45 – 4.15

Milford Village 4.30 – 6.00

Back

Wednesday 2

Out

Middletown

St Louis Convent 12.30 – 12.45

Middletown Village 12.50 – 1.20

Tynan 2.15 – 3.00

Dyan 3.30 – 3.45

Caledon 4.00 – 5.00

Back

Thursday 2

Out

Killylea Village 11.35 – 12.15

LUNCH

Aughnacloy 1.15 – 6.15

Back

Friday 2

Out

Glenanne – Mossfield 10.45 – 11.30

Mountnorris 11.40 – 12.20

Loughgilly 12.30 – 1.00

LUNCH

Hamiltonsbawn Village 2.30 – 5.00

Back

 

Mobile 3 timetable April 07

Monday 1

Hilltown 11.00 – 12.00

Mayobridge 12.15 – 1.15

LUNCH

Clontigora 2.15 – 3.15

Clogoghue 3.30 – 5.10

Tuesday 1

Bessbrook HB 10.45 - 11.30

Camlough 1 11.45 - 12.25

Camlough 2 12.30 - 1.00

LUNCH

Silverbridge 2.00 - 3.00

Tullyvallen 3.15 - 4.00

Altnamackin 4.15 - 4.50

Wednesday 1

O’Rahilly Pk 10.30 – 10.55

Mullaghbawn M&T 11.00 – 12.00

Conway Pk 12.05 – 12.45

Shean 12.50 – 1.15

LUNCH

Forkhill 1 2.15 – 3.30

Forkhill 2 3.40 – 4.15

Drumintee (Mt View) 4.30 – 5.00

Thursday 1

XXXXXXX (HB) 10.40 – 10.55

Latt 11.00 – 11.45

Jerrettspass 12.00- 12.30

LUNCH

Poyntzpass 1.30 – 3.30

Aughan Pk 3.35 – 4.15

Lurganare 4.30 – 5.15

Friday 1

No service

Monday 2

Attical 11.15 – 12.00

Ballymartin 12.20 – 1.00

LUNCH

Annalong (HB) 2.00 – 2.15

Opp Surgery 2.20 – 2.40

Majors Hill 2.45 – 3.15

Longstone 3.25 – 3.55

Kilhorne 4.05 – 4.25

Linden Brae 4.30 – 4.45

Tuesday 2

Drumilly 11.00 – 11.30

Belleeks 11.35 – 1.00

LUNCH

Newtownhamilton 2.00 – 4.45

Wednesday 2

Jonesboro 11.00 – 1.00

LUNCH

Drumintee 2.00 – 3.00

(St Pat’s Pk)

Meigh 1 3.15 – 4.15

Meigh 2 4.30 – 5.00

Thursday 2

Greencastle 11.30 – 12.00

Ballymaderphy 12.20 – 1.00

LUNCH

Rostrevor 2.00 – 5.00

Friday 2

No service

M5 timetable, 8th March 2007

Monday 1

Out

Laurelvale 10.30 – 10.50

Mullavilly 10.55 – 11.15

Copeland (HB) 11.30 – 11.45

Gibson’s Hill 11.50 – 12.10

Robinstown 1.30 – 1.45

Cozy Corner(Birches) 1.50 – 2.15

Eglish 2.25 – 2.45

Ardress 3.05 – 3.25

Taylor Houses 3.35 – 4.00

Cranagill 4.15 – 4.30

Redman’s Corner 4.35 – 5.00

Tuesday 1

Out

Waringstown 10.30 – 12.30

LUNCH

XXXXXX 2.00 – 2.30

XXXXXX 2.35 -2.40

XXXXXX 2.45 – 3.00

XXXXXX 3.20 – 3.35

Wednesday 1

Out

Bluestone 11.00 – 11.20

Tullylish 11.35 – 11.50

Laurencestown 12.00 – 12.30

Seapatrick 1.00 – 1.25

LUNCH

Woodside 2.45 – 3.00

Loughbrickland 3.05 – 3.20

Clinic, L’brickland 3.25 – 3.50

Moody Park 4.05 – 4.20

Dean’s Road 4.40 – 4.55

Bleary 5.00 – 5.15

Back

Thursday 1

Out

Mullabrack 10.30 – 10.45

Markethill;

Main St 11.00 – 1.00

LUNCH

Day Centre 2.00 – 2.55

Main St 3.15 –5.45

Back

Friday 1

No service

 

 

Monday 2

Out

Charlestown 10.25 – 10.40

Derrytrasna 10.50 – 11.05

XXXXXX(HB) 11.20 – 11.35

XXXXXX(HB) 11.40 – 12.00

LUNCH

Beechcote 1.50 – 2.05

Quarry Gds 2.10 – 2.40

Knocknamuckley 2.50 – 3.05

Carrickblacker 3.10 – 3.25

Kensington 3.30 – 3.45

Back

Tuesday 2

Out

Malcolmson Park 10.30 – 10.45

Claredon Park 10.50 – 11.05

Gilpin Park 11.15 - 11.30

XXXXXXXX 11.45 – 12.10

Waringstown 12.55 – 5.10

Back

Wednesday 2

Out

Kilmore 10.45 – 11.00

Annahugh Park 11.15 – 11.30

Annahugh Road 11.35 – 11.45

Stewart’s Tce 12.05 – 12.20

XXXXX 12.30 – 12.50

Xxxxxx (HB) 1.00 – 1.15

LUNCH

Battlehill:

XXXXXX 2.20 – 2.40

Derryhale 2.55 – 3.15

Brompton Park 3.25 – 3.45

The Oaks 3.55 – 4.15

Broomhill 4.20 – 4.50

Back

Thursday 2

Out

Lurgan HB:

Enniskeen 10.05 – 10.20

XXXXXX 10.30 – 10.45

XXXXXXX 10.50 – 11.00

XXXXXXX 11.05 – 11.20

XXXXXXx 11.25 – 11.40

xxxxxxxxX 11.45 – 12.00

Donaghcloney 1.55 – 2.25

Donagh Park 2.30 – 3.00

Killysorrel 3.15 – 3.25

Blackscull 3.30 – 3.40

Spar Shop 3.45 – 4.00

Back

Friday 2

Out

Wolfisland Tce 11.00 – 11.30

Colane 11.45 – 12.00

LUNCH

Loughview 1.40 – 1.55

Bayview 2.05 – 2.20

Gawley’s Gate 2.30 – 2.45

Cairnhall 3.00 – 3.10

Aghagallon:

St Patrick’s Ave 3.30 – 3.45

Parknasilla 3.50 – 4.05

Post Office 4.10 – 4.30

Milltown 4.45 – 5.00

 

MOBILE 4 TIMETABLE

Phone: 0777 6152568

Monday 1

Curglasson 1200 – 1230

Moortown (Public Stop) 1330 – 1415

Pairc na Mona(Housebound) 1425 – 1435

Coagh

(Urbal Road Housebound) 1505 – 1520

Coagh

(Urbal Road Housebound) 1525 – 1540

Coagh (Public Stop) 1545 – 1645

Arrive Dungannon 1730

Tuesday 1

Fivemiletown

(Clabby Road Housebound) 1100 – 1115

Fivemiletown

(Car-park Housebound) 1120 – 1135

Fivemiletown

(Screeby Road Housebound) 1145 - 1200

Ballygawley 1230 - 1300

Ballygawley 1345 - 1630

Arrive Dungannon 1700

Wednesday 1

Donaghmore

(Ivybank Park Housebound) 1400 – 1415

Donaghmore

(Main Street Housebound) 1420 – 1435

Annaghbeg 1445 – 1530

Cappagh 1555 – 1620

Galbally (Beechline) 1630 – 1655

Arrive Dungannon 1715

Thursday 1

Eglish 11.00 -11.50

Benburb (1) Rookery Drive 12.10-12.30

(2) Main Street 12.35-12.30

Tullysaran

(Community Centre) 2.00 – 2.30

Milltown (Bottom of Hill) 3.45 – 4.00

Carrickaness 4.10 – 4.30

McCartans Crossroads 4.35 – 5.00

 

 

Friday 1

Cookstown

(Stewart Ave. Housebound) 1130 – 1145

Cookstown

(Morgan’s Hill Rd. HB 1155 – 1210

Ardboe Lakeview HB 1250 – 1305

Ardboe Lakeview HB 1310 – 1325

Mullinahoe 1405 – 1435

Ballylifford 1505 – 1530

Ballyronan 1545 – 1615

The Loup 1630 – 1715

Moneymore (Riverview HB) 1730 – 1745

Drumullan 1800 – 1815

Arrive Dungannon 1850

 

Monday 2

Stewartstown 1030 – 1300

Stewartstown 1345 – 3.00

Killen 3.15 – 3.45

Mullenakill 4.00 – 4.30

Arrive Dungannon 1705

 

Tuesday 2

Augher 1115 – 1315

Augher 1400 – 1440

Clogher 1455 – 1645

Arrive Dungannon 1730

Wednesday 2

Sandholes 1110 – 1130

Tullyhogue 1145 – 1200

Bush 1315 – 1400

Killyman 1415 – 1430

Castlecaulfield

(Castleview HB) 1500 – 1515

Castlecaulfield Main St. 1520 – 1645

Arrive Dungannon 1705

Thursday 2

Conway Close 1400 – 1420

Dunamore

(Opp Mill Wheel PH) 1430 – 1500

Rock 1535 – 1610

Pomeroy (Main Street HB1) 1630 – 1645

Pomeroy (Main Street HB2) 1650 – 1705

Pomeroy (The Diamond) 1710 – 1800

Arrive Dungannon 1830

HB (Housebound)

XXXXXXX indicates housebound individuals whose address details have been removed for data protection purposes.

2012 Olympic Games

Mr Shannon asked the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure what action he is taking to promote canoeing and rowing in preparation for the Olympics in 2012.

(AQW 1610/09)

The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure: Responsibility for promoting canoeing and rowing in preparation for the 2012 London Olympic Games rests, in the first instance, with the governing body of the sports, the Canoeing Association of Northern Ireland and the Ulster Branch, Irish Amateur Rowing Union.

Sport Northern Ireland (SNI), however, which is responsible for the development of sport in Northern Ireland including the distribution of funding, has provided financial assistance to the sports over the last three financial years as follows:

Canoeing

 

2005/06

2006/07

2007/08

Lottery

28,230

5,340

10,240

Exchequer

46,161

127,082*

40,938

Totals

74,391

132,422

51,178

Rowing

 

2005/06

2006/07

2007/08

Lottery

26,150

31,000

29,640

Exchequer

-

39,514*

-

Totals

26,150

70,514

29,640

* The Exchequer funding awarded in 2006/07 in each case relates to the three year funding period 2006-2009.

In addition to this, an application for canoeing and rowing has been made by Portadown 2000 under the Elite Facilities Capital Programme. This is currently under consideration by SNI.

The Canoe Association of Northern Ireland has also been supported by SNI to organise and run a talent ID programme and the development of a junior canoe slalom squad.

2012 Olympic Games

Mr Shannon asked the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure what assistance, financial and otherwise, his Department is giving to shooting sports in preparation for the 2012 Olympic Games.

(AQW 1656/09)

The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure: Responsibility for assisting shooting sports in preparation for the 2012 London Olympic Games rests, in the first instance, with the governing bodies of the sports, the Ulster Clay Pigeon Shooting Association (UCPSA), the Ulster Rifle Association (URA) and the Northern Ireland Smallbore Shooting Union (NISSU).

Sport Northern Ireland (SNI), however, which is responsible for the development of sport in Northern Ireland including the distribution of funding, has provided financial assistance to shooting sports over the last three financial years as follows:

Lottery funding

 

2005/06

2006/07

2007/08

UCPSA

17,600

17,500

13,000

URA

61,115

11,400

-

NISSU

42,900

-

12,000

Totals

121,615

28,900

25,000

One Exchequer award was also made to the URA in 2005/06 of £8,705.

2012 Olympic Games

Mr Shannon asked the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure what assistance, financial and otherwise, his Department is giving to swimming sports in preparation for the 2012 Olympic Games.

(AQW 1657/09)

The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure: Responsibility for assisting swimming sports in preparation for the 2012 London Olympic Games rests, in the first instance, with the governing body of the sport, Swim Ulster Limited, which is affiliated to Swim Ireland.

Sport Northern Ireland (SNI), however, which is responsible for the development of sport in Northern Ireland including the distribution of funding, has provided financial assistance to swimming sports over the last three financial years as follows:

 

2005/06

2006/07

2007/08

Lottery

25,000

30,400

14,500

Exchequer

44,857

75,610

83,244

Totals

69,857

106,010

97,744

In addition to this, North Down Borough Council has been appointed as the preferred partner in the development of a 50 metre swimming pool under Phase 1 of the Elite Facilities Capital Programme. The outline business case for this has been approved and work is now proceeding on the full business case.

2012 Olympic Games

Mr Shannon asked the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure what assistance, financial and otherwise, his Department is giving to cycling sports in preparation for the 2012 Olympic Games.

(AQW 1658/09)

The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure: Responsibility for assisting cycling sports in preparation for the 2012 London Olympic Games rests, in the first instance, with the governing body of the sport, Cycling Ulster, the provincial branch of Cycling Ireland.

Sport Northern Ireland (SNI), however, which is responsible for the development of sport in Northern Ireland including the distribution of funding, has provided financial assistance to cycling sports over the last three financial years as follows:

 

2005/06

2006/07

2007/08

Lottery

24,500

144,150

51,985

Exchequer

40,666

187,507

-

Totals

65,166

331,657

51,985

In addition to this, applications have been received by SNI from Belfast City Council, Down District Council and Adfinch Merchants (Newry) for the development of cycling velodromes under the Elite Facilities Capital Programme. These are currently under consideration by SNI.

Leisure Facilities

Mr Savage asked the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure what plans his Department has to promote leisure facilities along the River Lagan, particularly in Donacloney and Magheralin, and other rural villages in the Upper Bann constituency.

(AQW 1697/09)

The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure: My Department is currently involved in the promotion of leisure facilities along the River Lagan evidenced through the maintenance of the Lagan Canal tow path between Moira and Aghalee, the operation of a public fishery in the lower reaches from Shaws Bridge down to Stranmillis weir and public angling access in an 11 km stretch from Spencers Bridge upstream.

Sport Northern Ireland (SNI), which is responsible for the development of sport in Northern Ireland, including the distribution of funding, has supported a number of projects in the Upper Bann Constituency, details of which can be provided through SNI.

Further funding opportunities can be explored through Sport NI as well as the Department’s other Arms Length Bodies.

Northern Ireland Football

Mr Simpson asked the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure for his assessment of the impact of Northern Ireland football matches not being shown on terrestrial television channels on (i) public support for the Northern Ireland football team; and (ii) young people's participation in football.

(AQW 1764/09)

The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure: The Irish Football Association (IFA) is responsible for the promotion and development of football in Northern Ireland. This includes assessing the impact of Northern Ireland football matches not being shown on terrestrial television channels on (i) public support for the Northern Ireland football team; and (ii) young people’s participation in football. However, the need to improve media relations generally in football, increase support for football teams and encourage participation by young people in the game have been identified as important issues facing soccer under the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure’s (DCAL) Soccer Strategy initiative. The IFA is currently implementing the recommendations of the Soccer Strategy with assistance from Sport Northern Ireland (SNI).

Sport NI

Mr Shannon asked the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure what criteria is used by Sport NI when assessing applications for funding from sporting clubs and associations.

(AQW 1770/09)

The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure: Sport Northern Ireland operates a number of funding programmes – capital and revenue, exchequer and lottery. Whilst each individual funding programme will have identified assessment criteria and different priorities for funding, the following general assessment criteria are considered and used to prioritise applications:

Only those applications which score highly in all areas are likely to be successful in attracting an award.

Football Pitch Improvements

Mr Moutray asked the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure how much his Department has paid for football pitch improvements in each of the last 3 years, broken down by (i) parliamentary constituency; and (ii) council area.

(AQW 1789/09)

The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure: Sport Northern Ireland (SNI) is responsible for the development of sport in Northern Ireland including the distribution of funding. SNI has advised that no Exchequer funding has been paid out for football pitch improvements in the last three financial years to 31 March 2008. However, SNI is currently operating an Exchequer programme called Places for Sport: Surfaces which focuses on providing pitches and sports surfaces. The programme has a budget for this financial year of £1.5 million and the maximum award for each project is up to £245,000 towards construction costs.

Community Relations Council

Mr Moutray asked the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure to detail the work undertaken by his Department in partnership with the Community Relations Council.

(AQW 1790/09)

The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure: My Department through its Arm Lengths Bodies has worked in partnership with the Community Relations Council (CRC) on a number of projects.

For example, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland chairs the Shared Communities Consortium of which the CRC and a number of other statutory authorities are members. The Shared Communities Consortium oversees the Re-Imaging Communities initiative which encourages the creation of vibrant and attractive shared public space through the use of the creative arts in the public realm.

Northern Ireland Screen has also produced a number of television series in conjunction with the CRC dealing with issues of mutual understanding. In more recent times NI Screen has worked with CRC on the issue of incoming communities.

In addition the Northern Ireland Museums Council delivered its Cultural Diversity Strategy using funding received through the CRC.

The Armagh Observatory also worked with the CRC earlier this year, as part of its involvement with the Armagh Visitor Education Committee's annual Armagh Heritage Day. This event was organised to promote the wealth of Armagh’s written and archival heritage.

Finally since 1998 the Irish Football Association (IFA) has had a full time Community Relations Officer working in partnership with the CRC, with assistance from the EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation to tackle the problems of sectarianism in football. This would have involved liaison with bodies such as Sport Northern Ireland, an Arms Length Body of DCAL and the Amalgamation of Official Northern Ireland Supporters Clubs.

Alcohol Consumption

Mr P Ramsey asked the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure, given the association between alcohol and sponsorship for sport and the arts, what action his Department is taking to encourage responsible alcohol consumption, including initiatives with which his Department has been involved.

(AQW 1842/09)

The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure: My Department and associated Arms Length Bodies are committed to exploring and introducing measures which encourage responsible alcohol consumption.

For example DCAL is working closely with NIO on the development of proposals for new legislation in relation to public order at sports grounds. These include the carrying and consumption of alcohol at sports events.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland also advises groups working with young people not to accept sponsorship from alcoholic drinks companies and not to use venues where alcohol is sold.

I should add that DCAL Events Unit has provided support to events that are part sponsored by drinks companies but on such occasions sensible drinking has been promoted and participants have been referred to the ‘drink aware’ website.

Finally DCAL supports the facilitation by local Libraries of Health Promotion Agency Literature

Ulster-Scots Curriculum Project

Mr D Bradley asked the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure how much his Department invested in the Ulster-Scots curriculum project at Stranmillis University College; and what benefit pupils in schools have derived from it.

(AQW 1910/09)

The Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure: My Department did not directly fund the Ulster-Scots Curriculum Development Unit project at Stranmillis. The project work completed by the CDU at Stranmillis was funded by the Ulster-Scots Agency and the Ulster-Scots Academy Implementation Group. The total cost of the project, including Stranmillis’ management fees was in the region of £1,717,442.

The completed primary and post primary school materials was piloted in twelve post primary and ten primary schools, involving approximately 800 pupils which reflected a range of school type across Northern Ireland. In addition, a couple of schools from the Irish Republic participated in the trial. The feedback from the subsequent evaluation report carried out by the CDU stated that teachers and pupils from all schools were very encouraging not only about specific materials but also regarding the project overall.

Education

Maintenance Work for Schools

Mr D Bradley asked the Minister of Education for a breakdown by school of the £217 million backlog of maintenance work to be carried out on schools, highlighting work that has health and safety implications.

(AQW 548/09)

The Minister of Education (Ms C Ruane): Tá socraithe agam go gcuirfear an t-eolas a iarradh i Leabharlann an Tionóil.

I have arranged for the information requested to be placed in the Assembly Library.

Irish Medium School Sector

Mrs I Robinson asked the Minister of Education to detail the amount allocated by her Department to (i) the Irish medium primary school sector; and (ii) the Irish medium post-primary school sector, each year for the last 10 years, broken down by parliamentary constituency.

(AQW 1044/09)

The Minister of Education: Allocations for the last 10 years are set out in the tables below and show recurrent and capital funding separately:

TABLE 1 - Recurrent Funding

TABLE 2 -Capital Funding

Year

Irish Medium Primary Total £

Irish Medium Post Primary Total £

Year

Irish Medium Primary Total £

Irish Medium Post Primary Total £

1998/09

1,918,971

825,315

1998/09*

0

0

1999/00

2,232,520

824,743

1999/00

1,441,649

225,935

2000/01

2,615,263

1,017,355

2000/01

541,122

222,674

2001/02

3,144,111

1,084,431

2001/02

130,717

10,179

2002/03

3,682,134

1,203,019

2002/03

163,921

611,797

2003/04

4,767,576

1,370,160

2003/04

1,034,961

554,258

2004/05

5,141,948

1,468,527

2004/05

1,125,601

1,960,505

2005/06

5,920,654

1,913,927

2005/06

192,138

1,864,736

2006/07

6,614,759

2,135,922

2006/07

65,089

213,534

2007/08

7,875,315

2,284,229

2007/08

436,484

50,507

* Capital figures not available 

Ní choinnítear na figiúirí seo de réir thoghcheantar parlaiminte agus ní fhéadfaí iad a fháil ach ar chostas a bheadh díréireach.

These figures by parliamentary constituency are not held and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Hochtief

Mrs I Robinson asked the Minister of Education how much money has been paid by (i) Nendrum College; and (ii) Bangor Academy, to Hochtief since the commencement of their PPP/PFI contract; and for a breakdown of these costs.

(AQW 1433/09)

The Minister of Education: Tá tugtha le fios ag Príomhfheidhmeannach Bhord Oideachais agus Leabharlainne an Oirdheiscirt go n-íocann Bangor Academy & Sixth Form College agus Nendrum College suim chinnte mhíosúil le Hochtief as na séirbhísí seo a leanas a sholáthar:

 

The Chief Executive of the South Eastern Education and Library Board has advised that Bangor Academy & Sixth Form College and Nendrum College pay a fixed monthly sum to Hochtief for the delivery of the following services: caretaking, grounds maintenance, security, building maintenance, mechanical and electrical maintenance, estates management services, furniture and equipment maintenance, waste management, pest control, toilet consumables, cleaning materials and some aspects of the cleaning service. Nendrum College became operational on 29 February 2008 and since then £17,600 of the school’s Local Management of Schools (LMS) budget has been paid to Hochtief. Bangor Academy & Sixth Form College became operational on 30 April 2008 and since then £35,380 of the school’s LMS budget has been paid to Hochtief.

I share your reservations on the use of PPP/PFI for the procurement of schools. The Department has a responsibility to consider all procurement options, taking into account guidance and experience and the need to ensure value for money. No PFI procurements have been announced in the schools estate since 2004.

Energy Efficiency of School Buildings

Mr Elliott asked the Minister of Education what her Department's policy is on improving the energy efficiency of school buildings.

(AQW 1442/09)

The Minister of Education: The Department of Education’s aim is to promote the efficient use of energy in schools in the north of Ireland, in line with the administration’s targets for energy efficiency and the reduction of emissions to the atmosphere, including the Executive’s Programme for Government objective to promote energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy through the implementation of the Sustainable Development Implementation Plan 2008-2011.

Bíonn oifigeach Fuinnimh agus Comhshaoil fostaithe ag gach Bord Oideachais agus Leabharlainne, post atá maoinithe ag an Roinn agus bíonn sé mar obair aige nó aici le héifeachtacht fuinnimh a chur chun cinn laistigh d’earnáil na scoileanna.

Each Education and Library Board employs an Energy and Environmental officer funded by the Department whose job is to promote energy efficiency within the schools sector.

Sports Pitches and Facilities

Mr Weir asked the Minister of Education what her Department is doing to encourage sports clubs to cooperate with schools to share sports pitches and facilities.

(AQW 1507/09)

The Minister of Education: Is féidir le páistí agus daoine óga alán tairbhe a bhaint as forbairt a dhéanamh ar a gcuid scileanna fisicúla litearthachta agus as bheith páirteach in imeachtaí spóirt. Cuireann clár spóirt churaclaim na Roinne deiseanna bhreise ar fáil len é seo a dhéanamh d’ár bpáistí is óige bhunscoileanna agus cuirimid fáilte roimh deiseanna chomhoibrithe idir scoileanna agus eagraíochtaí spóirt.

 

Children and young people can benefit greatly from developing their physical literacy skills and participating in sporting activities. The Department’s curriculum sports programme provides additional opportunities to do so for our youngest primary school children, and we welcome opportunities for co-operation between schools and sporting bodies where this is possible.

Through the Extended Schools programme we are seeking to establish each extended school as the hub of its local community engaging positively and actively with neighbouring schools, statutory, voluntary and community sector organisations in an effort to meet the needs of the pupils in the school, their families and the wider community as a whole. We are therefore keen to encourage greater community use of school premises when not otherwise required by the school, including improved access to school sports pitches and facilities.

In addition, where feasible, the Department seeks to encourage school authorities to consider shared sports facilities when examining options for major capital works.

I understand that The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure is also currently developing a new 10 year Strategy for Sport and Physical Recreation in the North of Ireland in partnership with Sport NI (SNI). A draft of this Strategy, which was published for consultation in October 2007, contains proposals for encouraging sports clubs to collaborate with schools and the education sector on the sharing of sports facilities.

School Building Projects

Mr Burns asked the Minister of Education to detail the school building projects that are behind schedule; and how far behind schedule each project is.

(AQW 1572/09)

The Minister of Education: Cuireadh moill ar na tionscadail atá ainmnithe thíos mar gheall ar chúiseanna éagsúla ina n-áirítear ceisteanna um cheannaíocht suíomhanna; um athbhreithniú ar rollú fad téarmach réamh-mheasta; um phleananna athbhreithnithe de dhíth; agus um leasuithe ar bhreithmheasanna eacnamaíochta. Rinneadh measúnú ar an seasamh mar atá in aghaidh na céime ionchais a bheadh bainte amach thairis sin faoin am seo.

The projects identified below have been subject to delay for several reasons including site acquisition issues; review of projected long term enrolments; revised plans required; and revisions to economic appraisals. The position has been assessed against the stage they might otherwise have expected to have reached by now.

SCHOOL

DETAILS OF PROJECT

ESTIMATED DELAY

St Mary’s College, Derry

St Cecilia’s College, Derry

St Mary’s P.S. Portglenone

St Joseph ’s P.S. Carryduff

St Patrick’s G.S. Downpatrick

Our Lady & St Patrick’s College

Lagan College

Tor Bank Special School

Holy Trinity College , Cookstown

Loreto G.S. Omagh

Lurgan College

Portadown College

Methodist College, Belfast

Omagh Integrated Primary School

Holy Family P.S. Magherafelt

Lisnagelvin P.S. Derry

Lisbellaw P.S.

Carrick P.S. Warrenpoint

St Columba’s P.S. Straw

Magherafelt H.S.

Whitehouse P.S. Newtownabbey

St Clare’s Abbey P.S. Newry

Bangor Grammar School

Magherafelt P.S.

St Colman’s P.S. Lambeg

St Teresa’s P.S. Lurgan

St Patrick’s Academy, Dungannon

St Conor’s P.S. Omagh

New school on new site

New school on existing site

New school on extended site

New school on extended site

New school on existing site

New school on existing site

Extension & Refurbishment

New school on new site

New school on existing site

New school on existing site

New school on existing site

New school on existing site

Extension & Refurbishment

New school on new site

New school on extended site

New school on existing site

New school on existing site

New school on extended site

New school on new site

New school on existing site

New school on existing site

New school on extended site

New school on new site

New school on new site

New school on extended site

New school on extended site

New school on existing site

New school on extended site

10 months

10 months

4 months

4 months

4 months

4 months

6 months

6 months

15 months

15 months

10 months

10 months

18 months

9 months

12 months

6 months

6 months

11 months

9 months

6 months

10 months

8 months

8 months

12 months

8 months

6 months

10 months

11 months

SEELB Commissioners

Mr Hamilton asked the Minister of Education for an update on when she intends to replace the Commissioners at the South Eastern Education and Library Board and reinstate the Board.

(AQW 1622/09)

The Minister of Education: Bíonn breithniú á dhéanamh ar athbhunú an Bhoird fionraithe SEELB agus fógróidh mé mo chinneadh faoi in am is i dtráth.

The reinstatement of the suspended board of SEELB remains under consideration and I shall announce my decision in due course.

SEELB Commissioners

Mr Hamilton asked the Minister of Education to detail how much has been spent on allowances and expenses for the SEELB Commissioners since their appointment.

(AQW 1624/09)

The Minister of Education: Tá curtha in iúl ag Bord Oideachais agus Leabharlainne an Oirdheiscirt gurbh é costas iomlán na n-íocaíochtaí, speansais san áireamh, a rinneadh do na coimisinéirí ón 6 Iúil 2006, nuair a cheapadh ar dtús iad, go dtí deireadh mí Lúnasa 2008 ná £197,373.

 

The South Eastern Education and Library Board has advised that the total cost of payments, including expenses, made to the commissioners from 6 July 2006, when they were first appointed, until the end of August 2008 is £197,373.

Time Spent at Departmental Headquarters

Mr Hamilton asked the Minister of Education how many full days she has spent in her Departmental headquarters since taking up office.

(AQW 1639/09)

The Minister of Education: Bainim usáid as oifig an Aire i bhFoirgnimh na Parlaiminte do fhormhór mo dhualgas Roinne agus tá 140 lá, iomláin agus páirte, caite agam ansin. Mar gheall ar sin tá 8 lá caite agam ag ceanncheathrú mo Roinne ó chuaigh mé i mbun oifige.

I use my Ministerial office in Parliament Buildings for the great majority of my Departmental duties and have spent 140 full/part days there. In consequence I have spent 8 part days at my Departmental headquarters since taking up office.

Educational Standards

Mr Moutray asked the Minister of Education what action she has taken in the past year to ensure that educational standards are raised so that young people have the necessary skills to progress into employment.

(AQW 1702/09)

The Minister of Education: While standards are high in many schools here, there are still far too many children who are not reaching their full potential: 47% of our young people leave school without having achieved a grade C or better in GCSE Maths and English, the standard sought by employers, and go on to face a lifetime of disadvantage and difficulty in accessing employment. This is simply unacceptable.

My Department has identified as a core priority the need to raise standards and tackle underachievement in our schools and is advancing its efforts in this area under the heading Every School a Good School. Within this heading, we are taking forward two important and interlinked strategies, one concerned with school improvement in the round; the other focusing specifically on raising achievement in literacy and numeracy.

The revised school improvement policy, Every School a Good School , was launched for consultation in January of this year and the final drafting of the policy is well advanced. The policy is clear that all schools are capable of improvement and sets out how we plan to deliver improvement at every level in our education system. It also sets out the interventions that will be taken where evidence suggests that performance could be better.

Seoladh an togra forbartha scoile athbhreithnithe, Gach Scoil Ina Scoil Mhaith, le haghaidh chomhairliúcháin i mí Eanáir na bliana seo agus tá dréachtú deireanach an togra ina thulstaid. Tá an togra rísholéir go mbíonn gach scoil ábalta feabhas a dhéanamh agus leagann sé amach an phlean atá againn le feabhsú ar gach léibhéal d’ár gcóras oideachais a shólathar. Leagtar amach fosta idirghábhálacha a dhéanfar más rud é go mbíonn fianaise ann a thugann le tuiscint go dtiocfadh le feidhmíocht na scoile bheith níos fearr.

Evidence and inspection findings tell us that 2 key elements to bringing about school improvement are good leadership and the effective use of data. In the context of leadership, my Department has made a significant investment in the development of school leadership skills, particularly through the Professional Qualification for Headship programme. In addition, we have also engaged in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) study of school leadership and will be drawing up an action plan to take forward those recommendations appropriate to the education system here.

To promote and support the effective use of data to inform teaching and learning and raise standards, my Department has appointed consultants to examine the range of performance data required by schools and the support that schools might need to make better use of that data. This work will include the consideration of appropriate value added measures.

The revised literacy and numeracy strategy, which is out for consultation until 30 th November, aims to ensure that every child leaves compulsory education with the appropriate standards of literacy and numeracy. The focus is on:

My Department has also commissioned specific programmes, Achieving Belfast and Achieving Derry – Bright Futures, to tackle underachievement in socially deprived areas of Belfast and Derry. These programmes are being introduced from this school year.

The revised school improvement policy and literacy and numeracy strategy complement and support other aspects of my priorities for education, including the revised curriculum, extended schools and my reforms to post-primary education.

Once these key policies are implemented their effectiveness, in terms of their impact on standards, will be monitored and evaluated on an ongoing basis by the Education & Training Inspectorate; the Education and Skills Authority (once established) and by my Department.

I believe these key policies will lead to improved educational standards for all our young people and enable them to fulfil their potential.

Educational Standards

Mr Moutray asked the Minister of Education what analysis she has made of the effectiveness of the action she has taken in the past year to ensure that educational standards are raised so that young people have the necessary skills to progress into employment.

(AQW 1704/09)

The Minister of Education: While standards are high in many schools here, there are still far too many children who are not reaching their full potential: 47% of our young people leave school without having achieved a grade C or better in GCSE Maths and English, the standard sought by employers, and go on to face a lifetime of disadvantage and difficulty in accessing employment. This is simply unacceptable.

My Department has identified as a core priority the need to raise standards and tackle underachievement in our schools and is advancing its efforts in this area under the heading Every School a Good School. Within this heading, we are taking forward two important and interlinked strategies, one concerned with school improvement in the round; the other focusing specifically on raising achievement in literacy and numeracy.

The revised school improvement policy, Every School a Good School , was launched for consultation in January of this year and the final drafting of the policy is well advanced. The policy is clear that all schools are capable of improvement and sets out how we plan to deliver improvement at every level in our education system. It also sets out the interventions that will be taken where evidence suggests that performance could be better.

Seoladh an togra forbartha scoile athbhreithnithe, Gach Scoil Ina Scoil Mhaith, le haghaidh chomhairliúcháin i mí Eanáir na bliana seo agus tá dréachtú deireanach an togra ina thulstaid. Tá an togra rísholéir go mbíonn gach scoil ábalta feabhas a dhéanamh agus leagann sé amach an phlean atá againn le feabhsú ar gach léibhéal d’ár gcóras oideachais a shólathar. Leagtar amach fosta idirghábhálacha a dhéanfar más rud é go mbíonn fianaise ann a thugann le tuiscint go dtiocfadh le feidhmíocht na scoile bheith níos fearr.

Evidence and inspection findings tell us that 2 key elements to bringing about school improvement are good leadership and the effective use of data. In the context of leadership, my Department has made a significant investment in the development of school leadership skills, particularly through the Professional Qualification for Headship programme. In addition, we have also engaged in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) study of school leadership and will be drawing up an action plan to take forward those recommendations appropriate to the education system here.

To promote and support the effective use of data to inform teaching and learning and raise standards, my Department has appointed consultants to examine the range of performance data required by schools and the support that schools might need to make better use of that data. This work will include the consideration of appropriate value added measures.

The revised literacy and numeracy strategy, which is out for consultation until 30 th November, aims to ensure that every child leaves compulsory education with the appropriate standards of literacy and numeracy. The focus is on:

My Department has also commissioned specific programmes, Achieving Belfast and Achieving Derry – Bright Futures, to tackle underachievement in socially deprived areas of Belfast and Derry. These programmes are being introduced from this school year.

The revised school improvement policy and literacy and numeracy strategy complement and support other aspects of my priorities for education, including the revised curriculum, extended schools and my reforms to post-primary education.

Once these key policies are implemented their effectiveness, in terms of their impact on standards, will be monitored and evaluated on an ongoing basis by the Education & Training Inspectorate; the Education and Skills Authority (once established) and by my Department.

I believe these key policies will lead to improved educational standards for all our young people and enable them to fulfil their potential.

Strike at Movilla High School

Miss McIlveen asked the Minister of Education to detail the engagements she has had to date, with the (i) South Eastern Education and Library Board; (ii) teaching union; and (iii) school, in relation to the strike at Movilla High School, Newtownards.

(AQW 1729/09)

The Minister of Education: There is no basis on which the Department can intervene in individual school discipline cases, as the implementation of school discipline policies is a matter for the Principal and the Board of Governors. The resulting dispute in this case is a sensitive matter which can only be resolved through dialogue between the South Eastern Education and Library Board and the NASUWT.

Thug oifigigh agus Príomhfheidhmeannach an SEELB faisnéis dom lena chinntiú go bhfuil mé ar an eolas faoi na príomhfhorbairtí ar fad. D’iarr mé ar gach páirtí go poiblí leas a bhaint as an idirghabháil a thairg an Labour Relations Agency agus Coimisinéir na bPáistí.

 

I have been briefed by officials and by the Chief Executive of SEELB to ensure that I am aware of all key developments. In my statement to the Assembly on 14 October I publicly urged all those involved to work together in order to find a speedy resolution so that the education of all the pupils at Movilla High School can return to normality as quickly as possible.  I understand that talks between the SEELB and the NASUWT are ongoing and I remain hopeful that a settlement can soon be reached in order that all the pupils can resume their education in a safe environment.

New Builds

Mr Doherty asked the Minister of Education for an update on the new builds at (i) Dean Maguirc College, Carrickmore; and (ii) Omagh Integrated Primary School; and to detail when each is expected to be completed.

(AQW 1730/09)

The Minister of Education:

Tá breithmheasanna eacnamaíochta ar Dean Maguire College agus Omagh Integrated Primary School á leasú faoi lathair leis na hÚdaráis ábhartha le roghanna shuíomhanna nua a chur san áireamh. Leanfaidh na scéimeanna ar aghaidh leis an údarás ábhartha chuig na céimeanna shainphleanála agus deartha chomh luath is a thugtar faomhadh do na breithmheasanna athbhreithnithe.

 

Economic Appraisals for Dean Maguirc College and Omagh Integrated Primary School are currently being updated with the relevant authorities to take account of new site options. Once the revised appraisals have been approved the schemes will proceed with the relevant authority to the detailed planning and design stages. Progress will be subject to the necessary planning and building processes being completed satisfactorily and the availability of resources in any particular year. It is currently anticipated that the replacement buildings would be completed in the 2011/12 financial year.

Educational Psychology Services

Mr K Robinson asked the Minister of Education to outline (i) the basis on which Educational Psychology Services, provided by Education and Library Boards, are prioritising the referrals presented to them by schools; and; (ii) if there is a limit of referrals per school.

(AQW 1737/09)

The Minister of Education: I have been advised by the Chief Executives of the Education and Library Boards that all Boards, with the exception of the South – Eastern Education and Library Board (SEELB), use a Time Allocation model of service delivery. Using this system each school has its own waiting list of referrals to the Boards’ Educational Psychology Services. It is, therefore, the schools which prioritise the pupils whom they deem to be most in need of assessment, usually through discussion with the Boards’ Educational Psychology Services. This model allows schools to appraise the needs of pupils on their waiting lists on an ongoing basis.

In the SEELB referrals to the Boards Educational Psychology Services are prioritised as follows:-

  1. Referrals for Statutory Assessment;
  2. Contributions to the Annual Review process;
  3. Referrals for non statutory assessment.

Baineann sé le gach Bord más rud é go gcuirtear eolas os comhair an tSíceolaí Oideachais (EP) le linn chomhairliúcháin a léiríonn go bhfuil cuinsí ar leith ag an dalta, déanfar tosaíocht de na hatreoruithe sin.

In all Boards if information is presented to the Educational Psychologist (EP) during consultation that indicates that the pupil has exceptional circumstances such referrals will receive priority.

There is no set limit to the number of referrals a school can make although the number of pupils who can be assessed by an EP may be limited within a given period due to the overall capacity of the service.

Free Nursery Places

Mr K Robinson asked the Minister of Education to detail (i) the allocation of free nursery places in (a) Newtownabbey; (b) Carrickfergus; and (c) Larne Borough Council areas; and (ii) the number of these places that have been filled.

(AQW 1739/09)

The Minister of Education: Funded pre-school provision is provided in statutory nursery schools, nursery units attached to statutory primary schools and in voluntary and private settings.

Dheimhnigh Bord Oideachais agus Leabharlainne an OirThuaiscirt go bhfuil 934 áiteanna mhaoinithe i naíscoileanna ar fáil i gceantar Chomhairle Baile na Mainistreach; 468 áiteanna ar fáil i gceantar Chomhairle Carraig Fheargais; agus 279 áiteanna ar fáil i gceantar Chomhairle Latharna sa bhliain 2008/09.

The NEELB has confirmed that in 2008/09 there are 934 funded pre-school places available in the Newtownabbey Borough Council area; 468 in the Carrickfergus council area; and 279 in the Larne council area.

Since the end of the 2008/09 admissions process the NEELB has responded to requests for additional places from voluntary providers to accommodate children unplaced through the admissions process. Eleven additional places have been re-allocated to Newtownabbey, Carrickfergus and Larne Borough Council areas.

The NEELB has written to the Department requesting additional resources for a shortfall of 60 pre-school places in the board area. Of these, 3 are in the Newtownabbey Borough Council area, 2 in the Carrickfergus council area, and 1 in the Larne council area.

Ballywalter Primary School

Mr Shannon asked the Minister of Education if funding has been allocated for a new build for Ballywalter Primary School; and what is the timescale for the new build to be completed.

(AQW 1771/09)

The Minister of Education: Níor tugadh maoiniú le haghaidh scoil nua tógála do Ballywalter Primary School. Ní féidir mar sin amscála a thabhairt maidir le tionscadal don scoil.

Funding has not been allocated for a new build school for Ballywalter Primary School. It is not possible therefore to provide a timescale for a project for the school.

Anti-Bullying Policies of Schools

Dr Farry asked the Minister of Education to report on what progress is being made to ensure that within the anti-bullying policies of schools, there are specific clauses dealing with homophobic bullying.

(AQW 1776/09)

The Minister of Education: Tá tromaíocht hómafóbach inár seomraí ranga agus inár sochaí doghlactha.

Homophobic bullying is unacceptable in our classrooms and in our society.

All schools are required by law to have measures in place to prevent all forms of bullying among pupils and it is a matter for them to determine, in consultation with pupils and parents, the detail of their policy.

The Department’s publication 'Pastoral Care in Schools: Promoting Positive Behaviour’ offers detailed guidance, practical initiatives and case studies to support schools to tackle bullying. The guidance specifically states that racist, homophobic, sectarian or other offensive name-calling is a form of bullying.

The Department continues to work in close partnership with statutory and voluntary organisations to address bullying in all its forms. It is for this reason that it plays an active role in and funds the local Anti-Bullying Forum which has established a number of working groups, one of which is specifically considering the issue of homophobic bullying .

The Department is fully committed to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child especially Article 19, which concerns the child’s right to be protected from being hurt and mistreated, in body or mind. 

The Department has been working, and will continue to work, with both the Equality Commission and Human Rights Commission to ensure that equality and human rights are reflected throughout schools. 

The Department has noted Section 5.3 of the Equality Commission’s guidance (A Guide on the Provision of Goods, Facilities, Services and Premises ) on the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (NI) 2006 which recommends, “Schools will need to ensure that homophobic bullying is taken seriously and dealt with as firmly as bullying on any other grounds”.

Pupil to Teacher Ratio

Mr Easton asked the Minister of Education to detail the pupil to teacher ratio in Scotland.

(AQW 1778/09)

The Minister of Education: Tá cóimheasa Dalta:Múinteoir (PTR anna) mar a leanas:

 

The Pupil:Teacher Ratios (PTRs) are as follows:

Region

Overall PTR

England 1

16.9

Scotland

13.3

Wales

17.9

1The overall PTR for England excludes special schools

Pupil to Teacher Ratio

Mr Easton asked the Minister of Education to detail the pupil to teacher ratio in Wales.

(AQW 1780/09)

The Minister of Education: Tá cóimheasa Dalta:Múinteoir (PTR anna) mar a leanas:

 

The Pupil:Teacher Ratios (PTRs) are as follows:

Region

Overall PTR

England 1

16.9

Scotland

13.3

Wales

17.9

1The overall PTR for England excludes special schools

Pupil to Teacher Ratio

Mr Easton asked the Minister of Education to detail the pupil to teacher ratio in England.

(AQW 1781/09)

The Minister of Education: The Pupil:Teacher Ratios (PTRs) are as follows:

Region

Overall PTR

England 1

16.9

Scotland

13.3

Wales

17.9

1The overall PTR for England excludes special schools

Translating Speeches and Statements

Mr Easton asked the Minister of Education to detail the cost to her Department of translating her speeches and statements from English into Irish.

(AQW 1782/09)

The Minister of Education: Is mar chuid intreach é aistriuchán na n-óráidí agus na ráiteas ó Bhéarla go Gaeilge den na freagrachtaí a bhíonn ag an bheirt ofigeach Gaeilge sa Roinn Oideachais. Mar gheall ar sin, ní dhéantar aon áireamh ar leith ar chostais a thabhaítear ar na saindualgais seo

 

The translation of speeches and statements from English into Irish forms an intrinsic part of the responsibilities of the Department of Education’s two Irish Language Staff Officers. Consequently, the costs incurred in these specific duties are not separately calculated.

Convention on the Rights of the Child

Dr Farry asked the Minister of Education for her assessment of the criticisms contained in the recent United Nations report on the United Kingdom's compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in relation to the segregation of education in Northern Ireland.

(AQW 1786/09)

The Minister of Education: In the Concluding Observations of the Forty-ninth session of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child it was recommended that measures be taken to address segregation of education.

Much work has been taken forward to improve planning of new schools, including integrated schools.  My Department has published a Sustainable Schools Policy, which explicitly considers Integrated Education. The published Sustainable Schools document has at the heart of its policy context a recognition that "new opportunities for collaboration and sharing in education should be pursued". 

The stated aim is about integrating education in much wider way than just focusing on religion.  The published Sustainable Schools document notes the recommendation in the Bain Report that ESA should be required to maximise opportunities for integrating education within a system of sustainable schools.  The document states, "The Department will therefore examine school proposals in future for opportunities for delivering a more inclusive approach."

Tugann an beartas dá aire an dualgas reachtúil atá ar mo Roinn le Oideachas imeasctha a spreagadh agus a éascú. Glacaim leis an dualgas seo le lán dáirireacht. Áfach, caithfidh mé bheith cinnte agus tograi do scoileanna imeasctha nua á mbreathnú agam go mbeidh said láidir, nach dtabhóidh said aon chaiteachas poiblí atá míréasúnta agus go mbeidh said oiriúnach de réir na gcritéar a shonraítear.

The Policy notes my Department's statutory duty to encourage and facilitate Integrated education.  I take this duty very seriously.  However, in considering proposals for new integrated schools I must ensure that these are robust, do not involve unreasonable public expenditure and meet the specified criteria.  This notwithstanding, it should be noted also that my Department operates a unique, twin-track approach to enable the development of the integrated sector.  In addition to the new schools available to all sectors, the Integrated sector can grow through transformation of existing, viable schools. 

The application of and commitment to the duty by my Department has seen the number of integrated schools increase from 33 in 1997 to 58 in 2007, and the number of pupils attending integrated schools has more than doubled to over 18,000 in the same period. 

In addition to the published Sustainable Schools Policy, my Department is currently consulting on Area-Based Planning of the Schools' Estate. This policy will both determine and address the need for provision in an area .   Area Plans will need to include an examination of opportunities for sharing and collaboration to deliver education.  The Area Based Planning consultation document states "ESA (will have) responsibility for facilitating and encouraging cross-sector collaboration".

I recognise that change is required in how we plan, finance and deliver education to best meet the needs of all children in the 21st century, and that I am determined to tackle the issues with appropriate measures and policies. 

Children with Dyslexia

Mr Moutray asked the Minister of Education how many schools have obtained 'dyslexia friendly' status to meet the needs of children with dyslexia, broken down by parliamentary constituency.

(AQW 1788/09)

The Minister of Education: Níl an t-eolas a iarradh ar fáil de réir thoghcheantar parlaiminte; tá an freagra á chur ar fáil mar sin de, de réir limistéar an Bhoird Oideachais agus Leabharlainne (ELB).

The information requested is not available by parliamentary constituency; the response provided is therefore by Education and Library Board (ELB) area.

I have been advised by the Chief Executives of the ELBs that the vast majority of schools have had staff awareness training in developing a “dyslexia friendly” learning environment. In addition a number of schools have either obtained or are working towards the British Dyslexia Association (BDA) kitemark for “dyslexia friendly” status as follows:-

Belfast Education and Library Board – none

North-Eastern Education and Library Board - 7

South-Eastern Education and Library Board - 2

Southern Education and Library Board - 1

Western Education and Library Board - 7

Children with Dyslexia

Mr Moutray asked the Minister of Education how many mainstream schools have appointed a dedicated teacher for children with dyslexia, broken down by parliamentary constituency.

(AQW 1791/09)

The Minister of Education: Ní choinníonn an Roinn Oideachais ná na Boird Oideachais agus Leabharlainne (ELB’s) an teolas a iarradh. Tá tugtha mar chomhairle dom ag Príomhfheidhmeannaí na ELB’s go mbíonn séirbhísí ionadbhunaithe acu a thugann tacaíocht do pháistí a bhfuil deachrachtaí litearthachta ar leith acu agus a mbíonn ag freastal ar ghnáthscoil.

The information requested is not held by either the Department of Education or the Education and Library Boards (ELBs). I have been advised by the Chief Executives of the ELBs that Boards have centre-based services that support children with specific literacy difficulties who are in a mainstream school. In addition selected schools have obtained dyslexia friendly status to support a whole school approach to meeting the needs of the child. Some mainstream schools may appoint a dedicated teacher for children with dyslexia, although this is at the discretion of the school.

Post Primary Transfer

Mr Storey asked the Minister of Education to detail the work carried out by CCEA since 15 May 2008, on behalf of the Department, to prepare a test paper in line with her proposals for post primary transfer.

(AQW 1796/09)

The Minister of Education:

Tá dréachtú déanta ar mhionshonraíocht agus ar chlár oibre a mbaineann le forbairt ar shás measúnú, déanfar forbairt ansin ar ábhar an scrúdaithe.

A detailed specification and programme of work in relation to the development of an assessment mechanism has been drawn up, to proceed then to the development of the test content. This will be extensively trialled and will be subject to a rigorous development process.

Transfer Process

Mr Storey asked the Minister of Education, pursuant to her answer to AQW 1631/09, to detail, in the absence of an agreed way forward, how the Department defines 'have regard'; and whether after schools give regard to any guidelines issued by the Department, they are legally permitted to put in place their own transfer process, including an academic selective element.

(AQW 1797/09)

The Minister of Education: Measaim go mbeadh treoirlínte na Roinne ina cáipéis thábhachtach do na scoileanna sa chomhthéacs seo nuair atá breathnú á dhéanamh acu ar fhorbairt na gcritéar iontrála agus an ról atá acu lastigh den phróiseas iontrála a chomhlíonadh.

I consider that Departmental guidance in this context would be an important document for schools to consider in developing their admissions criteria and performing their role within the admissions process. Disregard for this guidance through the operation of an independently administered transfer process may be lawful, but may carry with it risks and uncertainties.

Schools Transfer Process

Mr Storey asked the Minister of Education, pursuant to her answer to AQW 1631/09, to detail, in the absence of an agreement, what legislative authority will apply to guidelines issued by her Department to those schools implementing their own transfer process.

(AQW 1798/09)

The Minister of Education: Maidir le treoir ar iontrálacha a eiseofaí chuig gach scoil muna mbeadh comhaontú ann ar an bhealach chun tosaigh, d’eiseofaí an treoir sin de réir Airteagal 16B den Education Order (NI) 1997, arna leasú le hAirteagal 30 den Education Order (NI) 2006. Chun an reachtaíocht a lua ina hiomlán:

Admissions guidance issued to all schools in the absence of an agreed way forward would be issued according to Article 16B of the Education Order (NI) 1997, as amended by Article 30 of the Education Order (NI) 2006. To quote the legislation in full:

"Guidance as to admissions

16B. —(1) The Department may issue, and from time to time revise, such guidance as it thinks appropriate in respect of the arrangements for the admission of pupils to grant-aided schools and the discharge by—

(a) boards;

(b) the Boards of Governors of grant-aided schools;

(c) appeal tribunals constituted in accordance with regulations under Article 15(8); and

(d) the body established by regulations under Article 16A(6),

of their respective functions under this Part.

(2) The guidance may in particular set out aims, objectives and other matters in relation to the discharge of those functions.

(3) It shall be the duty of—

(a) each of the bodies mentioned in paragraph (1); and

(b) any other person exercising any function for the purposes of the discharge by such a body of functions under this Part,

to have regard to any relevant guidance for the time being in force under this Article."

Harassment and Bullying of Teachers

Mr Storey asked the Minister of Education what processes are in place to help teachers and school staff who have been victims of harassment and bullying in each (i) Education and Library Board; and (ii) sector.

(AQW 1799/09)

The Minister of Education: Tá curtha in iúl ag na Boird Oideachais agus Leabharlainne agus ag Comhairle na Scoileanna Caitliceacha faoi Chothabháil go mbíonn rochtain ag gach ball foirne, idir foireann a mhúineann agus fhoireann nach múineann, d’a gcuid Polasaíthe faoi Bhualaíocht agus faoi Chiapadh agus go ndéarnadh comhaontú ar na polasaithe seo leis na Ceardchumainn. Soláthraíonn na polasaithe faoi seach seo módh le gearáin a dhéanamh, a imscrudú agus a réiteach. Bíonn idirghabháil ar fáil mar chuid na hoibríochta den pholasaí nó mar mhalairt air.

The education and library boards and the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools have indicated that all staff, both teaching and non-teaching, have access to their respective Bullying and Harassment Policies which have been agreed with the trade unions. The respective policies provide a procedure to report, investigate and resolve complaints. Mediation is available either within the operation of the policy or as an alternative to it.

All staff both teaching and non-teaching also have access to a welfare service and a confidential counselling service at any time. The availability of the counselling service is emphasised to staff when a complaint of bullying or harassment is received. However, the service is self referring and completely confidential so the decision whether or not to avail of counselling is up to the member of staff.

Harassment and Bullying of Teachers

Mr Storey asked the Minister of Education the number of incidents of harassment and bullying of teachers and school staff in total; and broken down by (i) Education and Library Board; and (ii) sector, in each of the last three years.

(AQW 1800/09)

The Minister of Education: Tá an teolas seo a leanas curtha ar fáil ag na Boird Oideachais agus Leabharlainne agus ag Comhairle na Scoileanna Caitliceacha faoi Chothabháil maidir le teagmhais faoi bhulaíocht agus faoi chiapadh a rinneadh ar mhúinteoirí agus ar fhoireann scoile ag foireann eile.

The education and library boards and the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools have provided the following information in respect of incidents of bullying and harassment of teachers and school staff by other staff.

2005/06

2006/07

2007/08

Controlled

Maintained

Controlled

Maintained

Controlled

Maintained

BELB

1

0

1

2

0

0

NEELB

3

2

2

1

3

0

SEELB*

0

3

0

0

0

0

SELB

3

0

1

1

0

0

WELB

0

2

0

1

0

1

TOTAL

7

7

4

5

3

1

* The SEELB does not hold this information

The Department publishes information on the number of pupil suspensions for verbal abuse and physical assault on teachers. The information is as follows:

2005/06

2006/07

Controlled

Catholic Maintained

Other

Controlled

Catholic Maintained

Other

BELB

188

197

49

190

259

47

NEELB

408

99

54

391

125

67

SEELB

304

107

95

140

58

26

SELB

174

237

83

130

199

32

WELB

81

223

137

103

291

70

TOTAL

1155

863

418

954

932

242

The numbers of expulsions are relatively small and are not disaggregated between education and library boards because of the risk that a school/pupil may be identifiable. In 2005/06 and 2006/07 there were 8 and 14 instances respectively of expulsion relating to physical assaults on teaching staff. The suspension and expulsions statistics for 2007/08 school year are currently being analysed by the Department and will be placed on the DE website when this has been completed.

Newly Graduated Teachers

Mr Ross asked the Minister of Education what progress has been made in relation to introducing an induction year for newly graduated teachers.

(AQW 1805/09)

The Minister of Education: Tá seasamh an scéil fós mar a bhí leagtha amach sa litir a chuir mé chugat ar 11 Feabhra 2008.

The position remains as set out in my letter to you of 11 February 2008.

The costs associated with the introduction of a guaranteed induction year for newly qualified teachers here are substantial. It is estimated that a guarantee to students graduating after 2008 would cost over £12 million in the first year and over £20 million in subsequent years. The Department does not currently have the available resources to take this forward.

In light of the current funding restraints, falling enrolments and reduced intakes, it is unlikely that the guaranteed induction arrangements in Scotland could be introduced here.

Schools in Islandmagee

Mr Beggs asked the Minister of Education to provide (i) a progress report on the plans to amalgamate schools in Islandmagee on a new site; and (ii) the dates when (a) the three schools agreed to amalgamation; (b) planning permission for the site was granted; (c) the site was purchased and its cost; (d) recommendations for the area groups and Department will be made public; and (e) she will announce her decision on the funding and building of the new school.

(AQW 1812/09)

The Minister of Education: The amalgamation involves Kilcoan Primary School and Mullaghdubh Primary School. The Department was first advised of the potential rationalisation in March 2002 and there were originally three schools involved. The third school, Ballypriormore Primary School however closed at in December 2003. A development proposal for the amalgamation of Kilcoan and Mullaghdubh Primary Schools was published in December 2003 and approved in April 2004.

A revised economic appraisal for the amalgamation was approved by the Department on 17 October 2006. The recommended option is for a new amalgamated school on a new site. No decision has been taken on the timing of the next capital funding announcement and I cannot at this stage give a commitment on timing of a decision on the funding for a new build for the school.

Outline planning approval was granted on 4 July 2005. The main site was purchased on 30 April 2007 at a cost of £900,000 and land to provide sight lines was purchased on 5 September 2008 at a cost of £5,000.

Cuireadh an cleachtadh pleanála reatha bunaithe sa cheantair ar bun le breithniú a dhéanamh, ar bhonn réigiúnach, ar na socraithe is éifeachtaí agus is éifeachtúla leis an Chreatlach Tedilíochta a sholathár do dhaoine óga ón bhliain 2013 ar aghaidh tríd oideachas iarbhunscolaíochta. D’iarr mé ar an Ghrúpa Lárnach, agus an cleachtadh seo á chur chun cinn acu, le plean réigiúnach a dhréachtú roimh dheireadh mí na Feabhra 2009.

The current area based planning exercise has been established to consider, on a regional basis, the most efficient and effective arrangements for the post-primary phase of education to deliver the Entitlement Framework to young people, from 2013 onwards. I have asked the Central Group, which is taking this exercise forward, to draw up a draft regional plan by the end of February 2009.

Woodburn Primary School

Mr Beggs asked the Minister of Education to provide (i) a progress report on the plans to build a new Woodburn Primary School; and (ii) the dates when (a) planning permission for the site was granted; (b) the site was purchased and its cost; (c) recommendations for the area groups and Department will be made public; and (d) she will announce her decision on the funding and building of the new school.

(AQW 1813/09)

The Minister of Education:

The Department approved the economic appraisal for Woodburn primary School in January 2008. The recommended option is for a new replacement school on the extended existing site. Outline Planning Approval was granted on 20 January 2004. Additional land required for the development of a new school was purchased on 3 March 2006 at a cost of £250,000.

No decision has been taken on the timing of the next capital announcement and I cannot at this stage give a commitment on timing of a decision on the funding of a new build for the school.

Cuireadh an cleachtadh pleanála reatha bunaithe sa cheantair ar bun le breithniú a dhéanamh, ar bhonn réigiúnach, ar na socraithe is éifeachtaí agus is éifeachtúla leis an Chreatlach Tedilíochta a sholathár do dhaoine óga ón bhliain 2013 ar aghaidh tríd oideachas iarbhunscolaíochta. D’iarr mé ar an Ghrúpa Lárnach, agus an cleachtadh seo á chur chun cinn acu, le plean réigiúnach a dhréachtú roimh dheireadh mí na Feabhra 2009.

The current area based planning exercise has been established to consider, on a regional basis, the most efficient and effective arrangements for the post-primary phase of education to deliver the Entitlement Framework to young people, from 2013 onwards. I have asked the Central Group, which is taking this exercise forward, to draw up a draft regional plan by the end of February 2009.

Bookstart Programme

Mr Hilditch asked the Minister of Education to make a statement on the future of the Bookstart Programme.

(AQW 1823/09)

The Minister of Education: Creidim go bhfuil sé iontach tábhachtach go bhféachfaimid le suim sa léitheoireacht a chothú i measc daoine óga agus le tacaíocht a thabhairt do thuismitheoirí a oiread agus is féidir. Tá cuid mhór acmhainní leithdháilte ag an Roinn chun tacaíocht a thabhairt don Bookstart Programme le blianta beaga anuas, agus is léir go bhfuil cuid mhór le tairiscint aige ina leith seo.

I believe it is very important that we seek to cultivate an interest in reading in young children and support parents as much as possible. The Bookstart Programme, to which the Department has allocated considerable resources in its support over recent years, clearly has much to offer in this regard.

As you may be aware my Department has recently issued a revised literacy and numeracy strategy for consultation and the results of the consultation process will be available early next year.

I can confirm that my Department has provided £200k for the Bookstart Programme through the 2008/09 regional literacy action plan. This plan is based on the direction of travel outlined in the revised literacy and numeracy strategy and will cover the transition year prior to the establishment of ESA.

While I appreciate your concerns about long term future funding, I am sure however you will understand that until the outcomes of the consultation have been considered and the way forward agreed I am currently unable to make any further determinations about the long term future funding arrangements for the Bookstart programme.

Temporary Teachers

Mr Hilditch asked the Minister of Education to detail the cost to each Education and Library Board of employing temporary teachers through recruitment agencies, in each of the last 3 years.

(AQW 1824/09)

The Minister of Education: Taispeáintear sa tábla thíos, an costas a thabhaítear ag gach Bord Oideachais agus Leabharlainne trí fhostaíocht mhúinteoirí sealadacha ó ghníomhaíochtaí earcaíochta i ngach bliain le trí bliana anuas.

The cost to each Education and Library Board of employing temporary teachers through recruitment agencies, in each of the last 3 years is as outlined in the table below:

EMPLOYER/YEAR

2005/06

2006/07

2007/08

BELB

£203,197.00

£109,863.00

£35,827.00

WELB

0

0

0

SELB

£20,886.00

£13,626.00

£1,825.00

NEELB

£114,725.00

£76,822.00

£63,694.00

SEELB

£258,083.00

£134,007.00

£67,914.00

 

 

 

Temporary Teachers

Mr Hilditch asked the Minister of Education how schools arrange their temporary teacher list to cover daily supply work.

(AQW 1826/09)

The Minister of Education: Ó thús na scoilbhliana seo, éilítear ar gach scoil úsáid a bhaint as Clár na Múinteoirí Ionaid chun gach múinteoir ionaid cáilithe a íoctar ar phárolla na Roinne a chur in áirithe. Is féidir teacht ar chóip den imlitir ábhartha ar láithreán gréasáin na Roinne ag http://www.deni.gov.uk/dc2008-10.pdf.

From the start of this school year, all schools are required to use the Substitute Teachers Register for booking all qualified substitute teachers paid through the Departmental payroll. A copy of the relevant circular can be found on the Department’s website at http://www.deni.gov.uk/dc2008-10.pdf.

The Department has also advised teachers’ employers that retired teachers should only be re-employed to provide short-term cover where newly qualified teachers or experienced non-retired teachers are unavailable.

School Attendance

Mr Beggs asked the Minister of Education what action she is taking to address the issue of children with less than 85% attendance in School.

(AQW 1870/09)

The Minister of Education: Ó mhí Mheán Fómhair 2006, bíonn córas nua caighdeánaithe in usáid ag scoileanna le neamhláithreacht a chlarú, i ndiaidh nuashonruithe a rinneadh ar an mhodúil tinrimh den chóras Classroom 2000 (C2K). Cuireann é seo ar chumas na scoileanna clarú a dhéanamh ar neamhláithreachta na ndaltaí, ar fáthanna don neamhláithreacht agus más neamhláithreacht údaraithe nó neamhúdaraithe í.

Since September 2006, a new standardised system of recording absences has been used in schools, following an update of the attendance module of the Classroom 2000 (C2K) system. This enables schools to record pupils’ absences, the reasons for the absence and whether the absence is authorised or unauthorised. This new data is being collected in the current School Census exercise which began in October and will be used to inform the setting of targets on pupil attendance. Once targets have been developed, the Department will issue guidance to schools on how best to promote regular attendance and on approaches to early and effective intervention.

The Education Welfare Service (EWS) receives referrals from schools when pupils’ attendance is a cause for concern or when attendance drops below 85%.

The initial response to a referral of a pupil by a school to EWS is a home visit. This provides the Education Welfare Officer (EWO) with an opportunity to assess whether the absence is condoned by parents and if they are in a position to ensure regular attendance. When this is the case court action may be considered.

Where parents are judged to be in need of support or addressing the underlying reasons for non-attendance will require sustained intervention, then the EWO will act as lead worker and in collaboration with all parties seek to agree an action plan. This may involve a ‘case conference’ at which the pupil, his parents and the school are represented. Depending on the nature of the presenting problems participation may be broadened to include other agencies. For pupils with particular problems regular attendance at their host school, or any other mainstream school, may not be an option. Where this is the case, pupils may be referred by their EWO to a suitable alternative education programme.

Pre-School Children

Mr Beggs asked the Minister of Education to detail the percentage of pre-school children who have accessed a funded place in nursery school or in a playgroup, broken down by District Council area.

(AQW 1871/09)

The Minister of Education:

Ní féidir leis na cúig Bhórd Oideachais agus Leabharlainne an teolas seo a sholáthar i bhformáid chomhsheasmhach.

This information cannot be provided in a consistent format by the five Education and Library Boards.

What I can confirm, in respect of the 2008/09 school year, is that Education and Library Boards have notified a net return of 20 funded places, which have not been taken up in the voluntary/private sector, under funding provided via the Pre-School Education Expansion Programme. Final figures will only be available at the conclusion of the 2008 School Census exercise.

In the 2007/08 school year, there were 21,118 children in funded pre-school education. The school projection model used at the time predicted 22,264 P1 pupils in September 2008. This would indicate that the pre-school phase overall level of provision was running at 94%.

As not every parent wants to avail of a pre-school place for their children, and as the pre-school phase of education is not compulsory, this level of provision is considered sufficient to meet demand.

Pre-School Children

Mr Beggs asked the Minister of Education to detail the percentage of pre-school children who have not been able to access a funded place in nursery school or in a playgroup, broken down by District Council area.

(AQW 1872/09)

The Minister of Education: Ní féidir leis na cúig Bhórd Oideachais agus Leabharlainne an teolas seo a sholáthar i bhformáid chomhsheasmhach.

This information cannot be provided in a consistent format by the five Education and Library Boards.

What I can confirm, in respect of the 2008/09 school year, is that Education and Library Boards have notified a net return of 20 funded places, which have not been taken up in the voluntary/private sector, under funding provided via the Pre-School Education Expansion Programme. Final figures will only be available at the conclusion of the 2008 School Census exercise.

In the 2007/08 school year, there were 21,118 children in funded pre-school education. The school projection model used at the time predicted 22,264 P1 pupils in September 2008. This would indicate that the pre-school phase overall level of provision was running at 94%.

As not every parent wants to avail of a pre-school place for their children, and as the pre-school phase of education is not compulsory, this level of provision is considered sufficient to meet demand.

GCSE Grades

Mr Beggs asked the Minister of Education to detail the percentage of pupils who achieve five or more GCSE grades A*-C, broken down by (i) both council area and; (ii) ward area.

(AQW 1873/09)

The Minister of Education: Tá an t-eolas a iarradh curtha i leabharlann an Tionóil.

The information requested has been placed in the Assembly library.

School Attendance

Mr Beggs asked the Minister of Education to detail the rate per thousand of 5-17 year old pupils that have less than 85% school attendance, broken down by (i) council area; and (ii) electoral ward.

(AQW 1874/09)

The Minister of Education: Faoi mar atá an scéal faoi láthair, ní choinníonn an Roinn an teolas a iarradh.

The Department does not currently hold the information sought.

Since September 2006, a new standardised system of recording absences has been used in schools, following an update of the attendance module of the Classroom 2000 (C2K) system. This enables schools to record pupils’ absences, the reasons for the absence and whether the absence is authorised or unauthorised.

The Department had planned to collect this new data with the annual school census in October 2007. However additional software was required to facilitate the transfer of detailed, yet anonymised, attendance data to the Department for analysis. This software is now in place and data for the 2006/07 and 2007/08 school years is being collected as part of the current census exercise.

Early Retirement Policies

Mr Storey asked the Minister of Education to detail (i) the Department's policy on early retirement; and (ii) the retirement options for (a) teachers; and (b) school staff.

(AQW 1886/09)

The Minister of Education: (a) The Department manages and administers the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (NITPS) on behalf of teachers’ employers. The Scheme includes arrangements that allow teachers who retire prematurely to have their pension paid early without actuarial reduction and, at the employers’ discretion, to be awarded further compensation in the form of an additional service credit (“added years”). These arrangements are intended to provide a management tool that employing authorities can use to bring about a qualitative improvement in the educational provision in their schools.

Bíonn eolas faoi na roghanna scoir ar fáil faoin Scéim foilsithe ar shuíomh greasáin na Roinne:

Information about the retirement options available under the Scheme is published on the Department’s website:

http://www.deni.gov.uk/index/teachers-pg/64_teachers-pensionscheme_pg/leaflets/retirement_arrangements_and_planning.htm

(b) The early retirement of school staff other than teachers is a matter for their employing authorities. The normal retirement age for non-teaching staff is 65 although, like teachers, staff have the right to request to work beyond normal retirement age with the consent of their employer. They may also request flexible retirement after the age of 50 (55 with effect from 2010). The Education and Library Boards operate a Scheme for Redundancy In Accordance With The Local Government (Early Termination of Employment) (Discretionary Compensation) Regulations (NI) 2006; and a Scheme for the Premature Retirement Of Board Officers (Aged 50 and Over) in the Interest of The Efficient Discharge of the Employer’s Function.

Disciplinary Proceedings

Mr Storey asked the Minister of Education to detail (i) potential disciplinary offences for (a) teachers; and (b) school staff, and (ii) the disciplinary processes that are in place for (c) primary; and (d) post primary schools.

(AQW 1887/09)

The Minister of Education: (i) (a) agus (b) Ní féidir bheith saintreorach maidir le cad is cion araíonachta ann. Is féidir le réimse na gcionta a bheith leathan. Ó mhí-iompar beag mar shampla gan neamhláithreacht a chur in iúl, go dtí mí-iompar tromchúiseach féideartha a bheadh dífhostú mar thoradh air, mar shampla i gcásanna a bhaineann le ceisteanna um chosaint leanaí . Tá liosta de na mí-iompair féideartha curtha san áireamh in imlitir TNC 2008/4 agus is féidir teacht uirthi ar shuíomh greasáin na Roinne –

(www.deni.gov.uk/index/teachers-pg/81_teachers-payandconditions_pg.htm).

(i) (a) and (b) It is not possible to be prescriptive in terms of what constitutes a disciplinary offence. Offences can range from minor misconduct such as failing to report absence through to potential gross misconduct that may result in dismissal such as cases involving child protection issues. Whilst not exhaustive a list of potential disciplinary offences is included in the TNC 2008/4 Circular which can be found on the Department’s website - (www.deni.gov.uk/index/teachers-pg/81_teachers-payandconditions_pg.htm).

(ii) (c) and (d) Both teachers and support staff have disciplinary procedures in place which have been agreed through the relevant negotiating machinery and include features that satisfy rules of natural justice and legislative requirements. These procedures can be found on the employing authorities’ websites. The procedures apply equally to primary and post-primary sectors.

School Counselling Services

Mr Storey asked the Minister of Education to detail the counselling services in place for (i) teachers and school staff; and (ii) pupils in (a) primary schools; and (b) post primary schools.

(AQW 1888/09)

The Minister of Education: (i) Cuireann gach údarás fostóra réimse sheirbhísí comhairleoireachta ar fáil do mhúinteoirí agus d’fhoireann scoile i mbunscoileanna agus in iarbhunscoileanna araon.

The identity of those availing of the services remains confidential and is not disclosed to the employing authority. The employing authorities have recently agreed to extend existing access to confidential counselling services to all teachers via a 24 hour telephone helpline, and to consider the scope for further centralising the provision of teacher welfare services.

(ii) Counselling support is available to all post primary schools which wish it and this support on the basis of half day per week (three full counselling sessions) is available in 98% of these schools. Additional resources have now been made available to extend a Programme to Promote Pupils’ Emotional Health and Wellbeing into the primary and special education sectors. This expansion will focus on developing pupils’ resilience and coping capacities and include access to appropriate therapeutic interventions – this mayinclude counselling support. On the basis of available funding, the expansion will have to be phased over three years and it may be 2010/11 before a counselling service is accessible to pupils across the primary and special sectors.

Disciplinary Proceedings

Mr Storey asked the Minister of Education to detail the total number of disciplinary proceedings initiated in relation to incidents of (i) harassment; and (ii) bullying, of teachers and school staff broken down by (a) Education and Library Board; and (b) sector, in each of the last three years.

(AQW 1889/09)

The Minister of Education: Tá an teolas seo a leanas curtha ar fáil ag na Boird Oideachais agus Leabharlainne agus ag Comhairle na Scoileanna Caitliceacha faoi Chothabháil faoi lion iomlán na n-imeachtaí araíonachta a bhí tosaithe maidir le (i) ciapadh; agus le (ii) bulaíocht, a rinneadh ar mhúinteoirí agus ar fhoirne scoile.

The education and library boards and the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools have provided the following information in respect of the total number of disciplinary proceedings initiated in relation to incidents of (i) harassment; and (ii) bullying, of teachers and school staff.

2005/06

2006/07

2007/08

Controlled

Maintained

Controlled

Maintained

Controlled

Maintained

BELB

1

0

1

0

0

0

NEELB

0

0

2

0

0

0

SEELB*

0

1

0

0

0

0

SELB

1

0

0

0

0

0

WELB

0

1

0

1

0

0

TOTAL

2

2

3

1

0

0

* The SEELB does not hold this information

The Department publishes information on the number of pupil suspensions for verbal abuse and physical assault on teachers. The information is as follows:

2005/06

2006/07

Controlled

RC Maintained

Other

Controlled

RC Maintained

Other

BELB

188

197

49

190

259

47

NEELB

408

99

54

391

125

67

SEELB

304

107

95

140

58

26

SELB

174

237

83

130

199

32

WELB

81

223

137

103

291

70

TOTAL

1155

863

418

954

932

242

The numbers of expulsions are relatively small and are not disaggregated between education and library boards because of the risk that a school/pupil may be identifiable. In 2005/06 and 2006/07 there were 8 and 14 instances respectively of expulsion relating to physical assaults on teaching staff. The suspension and expulsions statistics for 2007/08 school year are currently being analysed by the Department and will be placed on the DE website when this has been completed.

Public Transport

Mrs I Robinson asked the Minister of Education to detail the number of pupils who used public transport to attend (i) primary schools; and (ii) post primary schools, during the academic year 2007-8, broken down by (a) Education and Library Board; and (b) sector.

(AQW 1891/09)

The Minister of Education: Ni choinníonn an Roinn Oideachais eolas a bhaineann le módhanna taistil a bhíonn in usáid ag na daltaí sin nach mbíonn i dteideal chuidiú iompair ó bhaile go scoil.

The Department of Education does not hold information relating to the travel methods employed by those pupils not eligible to receive home to school transport assistance. As such, the tables below detail the information you have requested but only pertain to those pupils in receipt of home to school transport assistance and travelling on Translink services under the normal sessional ticket arrangement:

BELFAST BOARD

 

BUS

METRO

RAILWAYS

 

 

CONTROLLED AND MAINTAINED PRIMARY*

0

2

0

CONTROLLED AND MAINTAINED POST-PRIMARY*

21

68

1

VOLUNTARY GRAMMAR

36

269

2

INTEGRATED:

 

 

 

PRIMARY

0

140

0

POST-PRIMARY

349

533

3

SPECIAL:

 

 

 

PRIMARY SCHOOLS

0

6

0

POST-PRIMARY SCHOOLS

1

31

0

SPECIAL SCHOOLS

0

0

0

IRISH-MEDIUM:

 

 

 

PRIMARY

0

3

0

POST-PRIMARY

0

62

0

ALTERNATIVE EDUCATION PROVISION

0

1

1

TOTAL

407

1,115

7

NORTH-EASTERN BOARD

 

BUS

METRO

RAILWAYS

 

 

CONTROLLED AND MAINTAINED PRIMARY*

708

0

1

CONTROLLED AND MAINTAINED POST-PRIMARY*

7,370

245

73

VOLUNTARY GRAMMAR

5,499

1,003

202

INTEGRATED:

 

 

 

PRIMARY

29

41

0

POST-PRIMARY

997

103

162

SPECIAL:

 

 

 

PRIMARY SCHOOLS

0

0

0

POST-PRIMARY SCHOOLS

0

0

0

SPECIAL SCHOOLS

4

0

2

IRISH-MEDIUM:

 

 

 

PRIMARY

2

3

0

POST-PRIMARY

9

4

0

ALTERNATIVE EDUCATION PROVISION

3

0

0

TOTAL

14,621

1,399

440

SOUTH-EASTERN BOARD

 

BUS

METRO

RAILWAYS

 

 

CONTROLLED AND MAINTAINED PRIMARY*

202

2

0

CONTROLLED AND MAINTAINED POST-PRIMARY*

3,038

34

8

VOLUNTARY GRAMMAR

7,809

275

218

INTEGRATED:

 

 

 

PRIMARY

27

21

0

POST-PRIMARY

1,215

24

8

SPECIAL:

 

 

 

PRIMARY SCHOOLS

4

4

0

POST-PRIMARY SCHOOLS

304

3

3

SPECIAL SCHOOLS

1

0

0

IRISH-MEDIUM:

 

 

 

PRIMARY

2

0

0

POST-PRIMARY

34

68

0

ALTERNATIVE EDUCATION PROVISION

29

2

1

TOTAL

12,665

433

238

SOUTHERN BOARD

 

BUS

METRO

RAILWAYS

 

 

CONTROLLED AND MAINTAINED PRIMARY*

95

0

0

CONTROLLED AND MAINTAINED POST-PRIMARY*

3,896

0

1

VOLUNTARY GRAMMAR

6,467

0

31

INTEGRATED:

 

 

 

PRIMARY

55

0

0

POST-PRIMARY

710

0

3

SPECIAL:

 

 

 

PRIMARY SCHOOLS

5

0

0

POST-PRIMARY SCHOOLS

167

0

0

SPECIAL SCHOOLS

0

0

0

IRISH-MEDIUM:

 

 

 

PRIMARY

0

0

0

POST-PRIMARY

2

0

0

ALTERNATIVE EDUCATION PROVISION

14

0

1

TOTAL

11,411

0

36

WESTERN BOARD

 

BUS

METRO

RAILWAYS

 

 

CONTROLLED AND MAINTAINED PRIMARY*

284

0

0

CONTROLLED AND MAINTAINED POST-PRIMARY*

2,367

0

0

VOLUNTARY GRAMMAR

4,978

0

0

INTEGRATED:

 

 

 

PRIMARY

4

0

0

POST-PRIMARY

476

0

0

SPECIAL:

 

 

 

PRIMARY SCHOOLS

6

0

0

POST-PRIMARY SCHOOLS

130

0

0

SPECIAL SCHOOLS

0

0

0

IRISH-MEDIUM:

 

 

 

PRIMARY

2

0

0

POST-PRIMARY

2

0

0

ALTERNATIVE EDUCATION PROVISION

6

0

0

TOTAL

8,255

0

0

* Home to school transport expenditure details are not currently held separately for controlled and maintained schools.

Religious Breakdown

Mrs I Robinson asked the Minister of Education to provide a religious breakdown of those attending (i) integrated primary schools; and (ii) post primary school, in each of the last five years, broken down by Education and Library Board area.

(AQW 1894/09)

The Minister of Education: Tá an freagra sna táblaí seo thíos.

The answer is contained in the tables below.

Religious breakdown of pupils attending integrated primary and post primary schools, 2003/04 – 2007/08

2003/04

RELIGION

SCHOOL TYPE

ELB

TOTAL

BELB

WELB

NEELB

SEELB

SELB

Protestant

Primary

327

286

734

793

421

2,561

Post primary

620

546

995

2,132

502

4,795

Catholic

Primary

393

455

502

656

554

2,560

Post primary

723

1,100

552

918

711

4,004

Other

Primary

145

177

356

414

204

1,296

Post primary

167

105

282

569

155

1,278

2004/05

RELIGION

SCHOOL TYPE

ELB

TOTAL

BELB

WELB

NEELB

SEELB

SELB

Protestant

Primary

322

313

724

1,011

425

2,795

Post primary

612

520

943

2,154

502

4,731

Catholic

Primary

364

497

552

701

557

2,671

Post primary

707

1,073

687

921

778

4,166

Other

Primary

161

168

337

437

229

1,332

Post primary

215

128

283

595

181

1,402

2005/06

RELIGION

SCHOOL TYPE

ELB

TOTAL

BELB

WELB

NEELB

SEELB

SELB

Protestant

Primary

314

326

718

1,033

423

2,814

Post primary

622

513

976

2,189

515

4,815

Catholic

Primary

359

527

577

714

585

2,762

Post primary

718

1,030

760

949

795

4,252

Other

Primary

174

194

358

485

258

1,469

Post primary

239

158

273

583

193

1,446

2006/07

RELIGION

SCHOOL TYPE

ELB

TOTAL

BELB

WELB

NEELB

SEELB

SELB

Protestant

Primary

272

358

733

1,050

427

2,840

Post primary

636

497

1,016

2,094

492

4,735

Catholic

Primary

321

538

587

731

579

2,756

Post primary

711

1,074

781

960

835

4,361

Other

Primary

254

209

394

562

276

1,695

Post primary

239

179

325

659

228

1,630

2007/08

RELIGION

SCHOOL TYPE

ELB

TOTAL

BELB

WELB

NEELB

SEELB

SELB

Protestant

Primary

297

350

770

1,046

419

2,882

Post primary

657

516

1,189

2,094

490

4,946

Catholic

Primary

338

551

677

749

597

2,912

Post primary

699

1,145

887

960

800

4,491

Other

Primary

239

225

467

592

303

1,826

Post primary

243

204

434

691

238

1,810

Source: Annual school census

Note:

  1. Primary includes nursery, reception and year 1 – 7 classes
  2. Integrated includes controlled integrated and grant maintained integrated.
  3. ‘Other’ includes ‘other Christian’, ‘non Christian’ and ‘religion not known/specified/none’.

Ulster-Scots Curriculum Project

Mr D Bradley asked the Minister of Education how much her Department invested in the Ulster-Scots curriculum project at Stranmillis University College; and what benefit pupils in schools have derived from it.

(AQW 1908/09)

The Minister of Education: Sa bhliain 2005-06, sholáthair mo Roinn maoiniú den mhéid £48,762 don Chomhairle Churaclaim, Scrudúcháin agus Mheasúnaithe le obair a dhéanamh le hAonad Forbartha Churaclaim an Ultais i gColáiste na hOllscoile Stranmillis ar chur i láthair ábhar acmhainní bunscolaíochta na hUltaise.

In 2005-06, my Department provided funding of £48,762 to the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment to work with the Curriculum Development Unit for Ulster-Scots at Stranmillis University College on the production of Ulster-Scots primary resource materials.

A report on the work of the Curriculum Development Unit, commissioned by the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure and published by the Education and Training Inspectorate this October, indicates that the potential benefits of the primary resource materials have not been fully realised because of ongoing discussions between the Ulster-Scots Agency and the Ulster-Scots Academy

Implementation Group about the standardisation of the written language: the availability of the primary materials is limited to the website of the Ulster Scots Agency.

Salary Spine Points for Qualified Teachers

Mr Hilditch asked the Minister of Education to provide a breakdown of all salary spine points for qualified teachers in the (i) North Eastern Education and Library Board; and (ii) Western Education and Library Board.

(AQW 1919/09)

The Minister of Education: Tá miondealú na bpointí uilig ar an scála tuarastal do mhúinteoirí cáilithe i mBoird Oideachais agus Leabharlainne an Iarthair agus an Oirthuaiscirt ar fáil sna táblaí thíos.

A breakdown of all salary spine points for qualified teachers in both the Western and North Eastern Education and Library Boards is provided in the enclosed tables;

WELB

NEELB

Ordinary Pay Scale (OPS)

Teacher numbers

Ordinary Pay Scale (OPS)

Teacher numbers

Pt 1

22

Pt 1

52

Pt 2

37

Pt 2

92

Pt 3

73

Pt 3

106

Pt 4

71

Pt 4

147

Pt 5

105

Pt 5

153

Pt 6

202

Pt 6

275

 

Upper Pay Scale

Teacher numbers

Upper Pay Scale

Teacher numbers

Pt 1

211

Pt 1

382

Pt 2

326

Pt 2

414

Pt 3

1525

Pt 3

1745

 

Vice Principal

Teacher numbers

Vice Principal

Teacher numbers

Pt 3

4

Pt 3

4

Pt 4

5

Pt 4

4

Pt 5

10

Pt 5

16

Pt 6

11

Pt 6

13

Pt 7

13

Pt 7

19

Pt 8

12

Pt 8

11

Pt 9

14

Pt 9

27

Pt 10

17

Pt 10

15

Pt 11

15

Pt 11

12

Pt 12

12

Pt 12

12

Pt 13

6

Pt 13

12

Pt 14

9

Pt 14

4

Pt 15

6

Pt 15

7

Pt 16

7

Pt 16

10

Pt 17

4

Pt 17

2

Pt 18

4

Pt 18

3

Pt 19

2

Pt 19

2

Pt 20

5

Pt 20

7

Pt 22

1

 

 

 

 

Principal

Teacher numbers

Principal

Teacher numbers

Pt 6

1

Pt 6

1

Pt 7

7

Pt 7

9

Pt 8

2

Pt 8

3

Pt 9

15

Pt 9

18

Pt 10

16

Pt 10

15

Pt 11

19

Pt 11

26

Pt 12

18

Pt 12

20

Pt 13

22

Pt 13

19

Pt 14

18

Pt 14

14

Pt 15

22

Pt 15

29

Pt 16

22

Pt 16

22

Pt 17

17

Pt 17

16

Principal

Teacher numbers

Principal

Teacher numbers

Pt 18

6

Pt 18

18

Pt 19

13

Pt 19

14

Pt 20

9

Pt 20

9

Pt 21

6

Pt 21

13

Pt 22

5

Pt 22

6

Pt 23

3

Pt 23

4

Pt 24

7

Pt 24

5

Pt 25

3

Pt 25

4

Pt 26

2

Pt 26

2

Pt 27

4

Pt 27

4

Pt 28

1

Pt 28

2

Pt 29

1

Pt 29

1

Pt 30

3

Pt 30

1

Pt 32

2

Pt 31

3

Pt 33

1

Pt 32

1

Attacks on Teaching Staff

Mr Hilditch asked the Minister of Education to detail the number of attacks on teaching staff in the Larne and Carrickfergus areas.

(AQW 1922/09)

The Minister of Education: Tá curtha in iúl ag Bord Oideachais agus Leabharlainne an Oirthuaiscirt gur tharla 29 dteagmhas fionraíochta a bhain le hionsaithe fisiciúla ar mhúinteoirí sna scoileanna uilig laistigh de cheantair comhairle an Latharna agus an Charriag Fhearghusa. Sa bhliain acadúil reatha, go dtí an lá atá iniú ann, tugadh tuairisc ar fhionraí amháin a bhain le hionsaí fisicúil ar mhúinteoir.

The North Eastern Education and Library Board has indicated that during the 2006/07 and 2007/08 academic years there were 29 incidents of suspension relating to physical assaults on teaching staff in all schools within the Larne and Carrickfergus district council areas. In the current academic year there has been one reported suspension to date for a physical assault on a teacher.

Education and Library Board Chief Executives

Mr Buchanan asked the Minister of Education how many meetings she has had with the Chief Executives of the five Education and Library Boards, since taking up office in May 2007.

(AQW 1926/09)

The Minister of Education: Bhí 17 gcruinniú san iomlán agam le Príomhfheidhmeannaigh de na cúig Bhórd Oideachais agus Leabharlainne ó chuaigh mé i seilbh oifige i mí Bhealtaine 2007.

Since taking up office in May 2007, I have had a total of 17 meetings with the Chief Executives of the five Education and Library Boards.

Sickness of Teachers

Mr Storey asked the Minister of Education to detail the total number of days lost, in each of the last three years, as a result of sickness of teachers in (i) primary school; and (ii) post primary schools, and broken down by (a) Education and Library Board; and (b) school.

(AQW 1934/09)

The Minister of Education: Tá socraithe agam go gcuirfear an t-eolas a iarradh i Leabharlann an Tionóil.

I have arranged for the information requested to be placed in the Assembly Library.

Stress Related Illness of Teachers

Mr Storey asked the Minister of Education to detail the total number of days lost, in each of the last three years, as a result of stress related illness of teachers in (i) primary school; and (ii) post primary schools, and broken down by (a) Education and Library Board; and (b) school.

(AQW 1935/09)

The Minister of Education: Tá socraithe agam go gcuirfear an t-eolas a iarradh i Leabharlann an Tionóil.

I have arranged for the information requested to be placed in the Assembly Library.

Class Sizes

Mr Storey asked the Minister of Education to detail the work carried out by the Department to reduce class sizes in primary schools.

(AQW 1936/09)

The Minister of Education: Bíonn tionchar ríthábhachtach ag cailíocht an luathfhoghlama ar dhul chun cinn san oideachas níos déanaí mar sin ó 1998 bíonn sé mar pholasaí na Roinne le rannganna na ndaltaí is oige (bliain 1-4 sa bhunscoil) a choinneáil ar 30 dalta nó níos lú ná sin.

The quality of early learning is vital to later educational progress so since 1998 the Department’s policy has been to keep classes for the youngest children (years 1 to 4 of primary school) at 30 or fewer pupils. The Education and Library Boards administer this policy and are responsible for providing any additional funding to primary schools to enable the policy to be achieved. I believe it is very important to further reduce class sizes, this will require substantial investment by the Executive and I look forward to my colleagues’ support on the Executive in relation to this.

Sickness Management for Teachers

Mr Storey asked the Minister of Education to detail the support mechanisms in place for sickness management for teachers of (i) primary; and (ii) post primary schools.

(AQW 1937/09)

The Minister of Education: A revised Teacher Attendance Procedure was implemented in April 2008 to promote a consistent approach to teacher welfare across all schools and to help schools manage teacher sickness absence. The procedure applies equally to all teachers and provides clear guidance to teachers, Principals, Boards of Governors and employing authorities on their roles and responsibilities. It is published on the Department’s website at http://www.deni.gov.uk/microsoft_word_-_tnc_2008-2_-_teacher_attendance_procedure_final_version.pdf

A range of welfare provision is also available to teachers in both primary and post primary schools, including the services of welfare officers, independent sessions with trained counsellors and referral to occupational health specialists.

Tá aontaithe ag na húdaráis fhostóra ar na mallaibh na seirbhísí rúnda comhairleoireachta atá ann faoi láthair a leathnú agus a chur ar fáil do gach múinteoir trí líne chabhrach teileafóin 24 uair.

The employing authorities have recently agreed to extend existing access to confidential counselling services to all teachers via a 24 hour telephone helpline.

Child Protection Policies

Mr Storey asked the Minister of Education to detail the Department's child protection policies.

(AQW 1938/09)

The Minister of Education:

The Department’s current guidance for schools on child protection matters is set out in the following circulars:

Is féidir teacht ar na himlitreacha seo ar láithreán gréasáin na Roinne www.deni.gov.uk agus coinnítear faoi athbhreithniú iad ar bhonn leanúnach.

These circulars can be accessed on the Department’s website www.deni.gov.uk and are kept under continuous review.

Job Vacancies

Mr Easton asked the Minister of Education how many job vacancies there are for teachers in the controlled sector.

(AQW 1965/09)

The Minister of Education: The Department seeks information on teacher vacancies from all grant-aided schools on an annual basis. The information provides a “snapshot” of vacancies at a specific date each year. The latest information available identifies vacancies at 2 November 2007, and details for the controlled sector are set out below:

No. of vacancies still to be filled during the 2007/08 academic year

at 2 nd November 2007 in the controlled sector

 

Full-time, Permanent

Part-time, Permanent

Full-time, Temporary

Part-time, Temporary

Primary 1

26

6

3

6

Special

6

2

1

0

Post-Primary

20

5

12

9

Total

52

13

16

15

1. Primary includes Nursery, Primary and Preparatory departments of grammar schools.

Tá an Roinn ag iarraidh sonraí ó scoileanna faoi láthair ar fholúntais múinteora atá ann ar 3 Samhain 2008.

The Department is currently seeking data from schools on teacher vacancies which exist at 3 November 2008.

Capital Schemes

Mrs I Robinson asked the Minister of Education to provide details of the economic appraisals on capital schemes that have been approved by her Department, since September 2006.

(AQW 1972/09)

The Minister of Education: Tá na measúnuithe eacnamaíochta do na scoileanna atá liostaithe sa tábla thíos aontaithe leis an údarás ábhartha agus faofa ó Mheán Fómhair 2006. Baineann siad seo le scoileanna ar tugadh faomhadh dóibh le haghaidh cistithe caipitil sna blianta roimhe seo.

Economic appraisals for the schools identified in the table below have been agreed with the relevant authority and approved since September 2006. These are for schools which have received approval for capital funding in previous years.

School

Date

Banbridge Academy

May 2008

Dromore Central Primary School

June 2007

Drumragh Integrated College, Omagh

March 2007

Eglinton PS

July 2007

Methodist College, Belfast

May 2007

Taughmonagh PS, Belfast

June 2007

Templepatrick PS

July 2007

Towerview PS, Bangor

October 2006

Victoria PS, Ballyhalbert

June 2007

Whitehouse PS, Newtownabbey

July 2007

The following appraisals have also been approved though the schemes do not have approval for capital funding.

School

Date

Antrim PS

June 2008

Ballywalter PS

June 2008

Kilcoan PS/ Mullaghdubh PS

October 2006

Woodburn PS, Carrickfergus

January 2008

In addition, the full business case for the BELB Strategic Partnership Project was approved in March 2008 with funding approval for the following schools:-  

Ashfield Girls High School

Belfast Boys' Model School

Belfast Model School for Girls

Grosvenor Grammar

Orangefield Primary School

Capital Works Scheme

Mrs I Robinson asked the Minister of Education to provide an update on the economic appraisal that has been submitted to her Department on to the capital works scheme for Academy Primary School in Saintfield.

(AQW 1973/09)

The Minister of Education: Chuir Bord Oideachais agus Leabharlainne an Oirdheiscirt dréacht-bhreithmheas eacnamaíochta (EA) do Academy Primary School faoi bhráid na Roinne in Eanáir 2008.

The South Eastern Education and Library Board submitted a draft economic appraisal (EA) to the Department for Academy Primary School in January 2008. The submission however was premature as before an appraisal is completed the need for a capital scheme has to be assessed using information on the condition and suitability of the building. The department is currently considering the information on the school and will be liaising with the SEELB on the next steps.

Communication and Interaction Special Educational Needs

Mr Storey asked the Minister of Education to detail how many children have an identified speech, language or communication need, in each Education and Library Board.

(AQW 2118/09)

The Minister of Education: Tá an t-eolas a iarradh sa tábla thíos.

The information requested is contained in the table below.

Pupils with an identified communication and interaction Special Educational Need – 2007/08

 

SCHOOL LEVEL

ELB

Total

BELB

WELB

NEELB

SEELB

SELB

Nursery schools

149

129

167

209

57

711

Primary

939

1,334

1,016

1,228

1,240

5,757

Post primary

257

337

287

298

472

1,651

Special

535

492

675

672

349

2,723

Total

1,880

2,292

2,145

2,407

2,118

10,842

Source: school census in the north of Ireland

Note:

  1. Primary includes nursery, reception and year 1 – 7 classes.
  2. The communication and interaction Special Educational Need type also includes speech and language difficulties, autism and Aspergers.

Employment and Learning

Sector Skills Councils

Mr Storey asked the Minister for Employment and Learning to detail (i) the Sector Skills Councils that have received funding from his Department through the Alliance of Sector Skills Councils; (ii) the amounts received; (iii) the activities the councils are running to promote understanding of their work amongst (a) employers; (b) employer organisations; and (c) other stakeholders.

(AQW 1539/09)

The Minister for Employment and Learning (Sir Reg Empey): (i) The Department for Employment and Learning does not provide funding to Sector Skills Councils through the Alliance of Sector Skills Councils.

(ii) The Department provides direct funding to the Sector Skills Councils to undertake relevant Northern Ireland projects. In a recent bidding round, the Department agreed to support 28 new projects, totalling £571, 987. The Department has also provided funding of £96,000 to support Alliance activities in Northern Ireland between 1st August 2008 and 31st March 2009.

(iii)

(a) Sector Skills Councils use a range of activities to promote understanding of their work amongst employers. Examples of this work include:

(b) Sector Skills Councils have established large electronic databases of employers, trade organisations and other partners and use this resource to promote regular updates via electronic and hard-copy material such as policy updates, case studies and new initiatives. They also work directly with employer organisations by attending meetings, workshops, and seminars.

(c) The Sector Skills Councils have regular contact and exchange of information with key stakeholders, and they work collectively through the Alliance of Sector Skills Councils to promote their activities. One of the key roles of the Alliance is to build awareness of the activities of the Sector Skills Councils, through the development of promotional material, and participation in conferences, seminars, road-shows and exhibitions.

Sector Skills Councils

Mr Storey asked the Minister for Employment and Learning to (i) detail how many Sector Skills Agreements have been launched during 2008; (ii) detail the funding his Department is providing for the agreements; and (iii) confirm if his Department's work with the Sector Skills Councils will reach the stated target of 25 agreements by December 2008.

(AQW 1541/09)

The Minister for Employment and Learning: (i) In 2008, eight Sector Skills Agreements were officially approved by the Northern Ireland Project Board. This brings the total number of Sector Skills Agreements approved to twenty-three.

(ii) The Department does not fund the Sector Skills Agreements process as this is core business for the Sector Skills Councils and is funded by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills. The Department did, however, provide funding for the production of Northern Ireland Labour Market Information to inform some of the Sector Skills Agreements. In a recent bidding round the Department agreed to fund twenty-eight projects, taking forward Northern Ireland actions identified in the Agreements.

(iii) At present twenty-three of the twenty-five Sector Skills Agreements have been approved by the Northern Ireland Project Board. It is expected that the remaining two will be approved by the end of December 2008.

Education Campuses

Mr G Robinson asked the Minister for Employment and Learning if all third level education campuses operate an equality agenda in their student union.

(AQW 1552/09)

The Minister for Employment and Learning: Under legislation such as Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, all third level institutions are required to ensure equality of opportunity in their respective campuses, including their student unions.

Education Campuses

Mr G Robinson asked the Minister for Employment and Learning if all third level education campuses operate a shared space agenda in their student union.

(AQW 1553/09)

The Minister for Employment and Learning: I understand that all third level campuses are already operating shared space agendas in their respective student unions. Each institution has in place policies and procedures governing the shared use of student union facilities. These are detailed in the respective student union’s constitution, which also details the rights and privileges of their members.

Education Campuses

Mr G Robinson asked the Minister for Employment and Learning if he will ensure that all third level education campuses operate a shared space and equality agenda in their student union.

(AQW 1554/09)

The Minister for Employment and Learning: Under legislation such as Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, all third level institutions are required to ensure equality of opportunity in their respective campuses, including their student unions. I understand all third level campuses are already operating shared space and equality agendas in their student unions.

Student Loans

Mr Burns asked the Minister for Employment and Learning how many graduates from Northern Ireland are deferring payment on their student loans because their current level of income is below the repayment threshold.

(AQW 1579/09)

The Minister for Employment and Learning: The number of Northern Ireland students who have deferred repayments on mortgage style loans because their income level is below the current repayment threshold of £25,936 per annum, is 7,274.

Income contingent loans replaced mortgage style loans in academic year 1998/1999. Latest figures from the Student Loans Company show that the number of Northern Ireland students not in a repayment channel because their earnings are below the repayment threshold of £15,000 per annum is 9,757.

Training for Success Initiative

Ms S Ramsey asked the Minister for Employment and Learning to detail the discussions his Department has had with young people with disabilities or interested groups, on the roll out of the Department's Training for Success initiative.

(AQW 1615/09)

The Minister for Employment and Learning: The Department meets regularly with organisations, who provide specialist support on its Training for Success initiative, including Disability Action, Sensory Learning Support and the Cedar Foundation.

I have also had the opportunity to meet young people associated with Dr B’s Kitchen, Include Youth and the Bytes Project. This includes young people with disabilities and additional needs.

As you are aware, the Training for Success Disability Working Group presented its report recently. In its review, the Group undertook a survey of young people with disabilities in a 16 to 24 age range. In addition, the Group held consultation meetings with a number of key stakeholders, including disability organisations that represent the interests of young people with disabilities.

In its report, the Group encourages the Department to engage directly with young people with disabilities. They see this as crucial to the success of the provision, in gathering their views and concerns in order to determine how the provision is meeting their learning and support requirements.

As I outlined in my letter to you of 13 October 2008, I will write to you again outlining the way forward once I have had the opportunity to consider the Group’s recommendations.

Forensic Psychologists

Dr Farry asked the Minister for Employment and Learning what plans his Department has to provide training courses for forensic psychologists.

(AQW 1710/09)

The Minister for Employment and Learning: The University of Ulster advises that a working group comprising representatives from the University’s School of Psychology, the Northern Ireland Branch of the British Psychological Society and stakeholders from the Forensic community are currently involved in a series of meetings to explore the feasibility of postgraduate training in Forensic Psychology. The group has met on three occasions during 2008. As a first step the group has agreed to run a jointly sponsored Forensic Psychology event to publicise what Forensic psychology can offer potential employers and agencies in the region.  This will take place in the spring of 2009.

In the context of these discussions, the School of Psychology is considering the development of a fully accredited Postgraduate Diploma and Masters in Forensic Psychology.

Queen’s University advises that its School of Psychology is planning a major expansion of postgraduate taught courses and, subject to satisfactory planning and business cases, Forensic Psychology is one option being considered for delivery.

Acute Learning Disabilities

Mr Elliott asked the Minister for Employment and Learning what steps he is taking to help those with acute learning disabilities to find sustainable employment.

(AQW 1743/09)

The Minister for Employment and Learning: The Department for Employment and Learning has a range of assistance to help people with disabilities, including severe learning disabilities, find and keep employment. This assistance is not targeted at people with specific disabilities. Pathways to Work Personal Advisers and Team Leaders based in Jobs & Benefits Offices/Jobcentres are trained to help customers find suitable jobs and identify support to help keep the job. Advisers have a menu of programmes and services to assist customers, which includes: assessment by Department’s Occupational Psychologists; a Work Preparation Programme; Permitted Work; Access to Work (NI), and; Workable (NI). Programmes and services have been designed to be flexible to meet individually assessed client needs.

The Department also assists people with disabilities through funding from the European Social Fund Programme 2007-13 which helps unemployed people at a disadvantage in the labour market, into sustainable employment. A total of 14 projects for participants with disabilities and health conditions, were successful and have been awarded £18.5m for 3 years ending 31 March 2011. While this includes people with acute learning disabilities, there is no dedicated allocation of funding for specific target groups.

Construction Trade

Mr Boylan asked the Minister for Employment and Learning what procedures his Department has put in place to ensure that apprentices can complete their training given the current down-turn in the construction trade.

(AQW 1807/09)

The Minister for Employment and Learning: The construction industry in Northern Ireland is currently facing a downturn, particularly in the housing market. Nevertheless, the Department will continue to fund training in construction occupations to support the industry according to need highlighted with the Sector Skills Council.

The Department has received evidence of some 230 apprentices at the six FE Colleges having been made redundant. This would represent about 4% of the total apprentices currently on programme. 164 of these people were in construction training. However, when compared to the same period last year, the level of early leavers that could be attributed to reasons such as unemployment, is not significantly different.

Under Training for Success, the Pre-Apprenticeship training component is designed for young people aged 16 to 18 who have been assessed as capable of undertaking a Level 2 Apprenticeship, but have not yet found employment. This training component can also accommodate any eligible Level 2 apprentices who have been made redundant, but who wish to continue working towards achieving a professional and technical qualification. Alternatively, they can undertake skills training and qualifications in a different occupational area, if they so choose.

The Department is currently considering introducing other alternative arrangements to ensure that both Level 2 and Level 3 apprentices can continue with training, and we hope to be in a position to make a formal announcement on these plans shortly.

Trade Apprentices

Mr P Ramsey asked the Minister for Employment and Learning for his assessment of the impact the current economic downturn is having on the ability of trade apprentices to commence or complete their apprenticeships; and what actions his Department is taking to ensure that apprenticeships are still available.

(AQW 1843/09)

The Minister for Employment and Learning: Certain industries in Northern Ireland are facing a downturn.

The Department has received evidence of some 230 apprentices at the six FE Colleges having been made redundant. This would represent about 4% of the total apprentices currently on programme. 164 of these people were in construction training. However, when compared to the same period last year, the level of early leavers that could be attributed to reasons such as unemployment, is not significantly different.

Where the economic downturn appears to be having greater effect is in the recruitment of new apprentices to undertake training, where certain sectors are reporting a reduction of 50% or more.

Under Training for Success, however, the Pre-Apprenticeship training component is designed for young people aged 16 to 18 who have been assessed as capable of undertaking a Level 2 Apprenticeship, but have not yet found employment. This training component can also accommodate any eligible Level 2 apprentices who have been made redundant and who wish to continue working towards achieving a professional and technical qualification. Alternatively, they can undertake skills training and qualifications in a different occupational area, if they so choose.

For older apprentices that become unemployed, the Department is considering options that will allow them to gain work experience while maintaining their eligibility to claim benefits. This may include a placement under Steps to Work.

Some further work is required on developing these options and I hope to make an announcement on these soon.

St Mary's University College

Mr Easton asked the Minister for Employment and Learning to detail the representatives on the Board of Governors of St Mary's University College from (i) the Catholic Church; and (ii) the Protestant Churches.

(AQW 1898/09)

The Minister for Employment and Learning: St Mary’s University College have advised that (i) the following members of the College’s Board of Governors are from the Catholic Church:

The Bishop of Down and Connor : The Most Rev Dr Noel Treanor (Chairman)
One of his Vicar Generals : The Most Rev Donal McKeown

Irish Regional Vicar, Cabra Dominicans : Sr Lucina Montague OP

Six Governors are nominated by the Trustees of the College

  • Archdiocese of Armagh : Rt Rev Mgr Liam McEntegart PP
  • Dioceses of Clogher / Kilmore : Mrs Joan Hart
  • Diocese of Derry : Very Rev Robert Devine PP
  • Diocese of Down and Connor : Mr Charles MacCreanor
  • Diocese of Dromore : Mrs Ann Doran
  • Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) : Rt Rev Mgr Colm McCaughan

(ii) There are no representatives on the Board of Governors from the Protestant Churches.

Teacher Training

Mr Easton asked the Minister for Employment and Learning what the ratio is for teacher training between Protestants and Catholics, in each of the last 3 years.

(AQW 1901/09)

The Minister for Employment and Learning: The percentages of Protestant and Catholic students enrolled on initial teacher training courses at Northern Ireland Higher Education institutions, whose religious affiliation was known, in each of the last 3 available years are detailed in the table below:

Protestant

Catholic

2004/05

54%

46%

2005/06

49%

51%

2006/07

47%

53%

Source: Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA)

Notes: Percentages are based on figures that have been rounded to the nearest 5 and include those initial teacher training enrolments at Queen’s University Belfast , the University of Ulster, Stranmillis University College and St. Mary’s University College.

Responses to religious affiliation questions are not mandatory and therefore these questions have high non-response rates (17% in 2004/05, 10% in 2005/06 and 9% in 2006/07 for students on initial teacher training courses at Northern Ireland Higher Education Institutions).

St Mary's University College

Mr Easton asked the Minister for Employment and Learning what percentage of students at St Mary's University College have a Protestant background.

(AQW 1902/09)

The Minister for Employment and Learning: In the 2006/07 academic year, 1.5% of students at St. Mary’s University College, whose religious affiliation was known, had a Protestant background.

Source: Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA)

Notes: Percentages are based on figures that have been rounded to the nearest 5.

Responses to religious affiliation questions are not mandatory and therefore these questions have high non-response rates (12% for students at St. Mary’s University College in 2006/07).

St Mary's University College

Mr Easton asked the Minister for Employment and Learning how many lecturers in St Mary's University College have a Protestant background.

(AQW 1905/09)

The Minister for Employment and Learning: St Mary’s University College advises that there are currently five lecturers employed who have indicated from Equal Opportunities monitoring that they are from a Protestant background.

Stranmillis University College

Mr Easton asked the Minister for Employment and Learning what percentage of students at Stranmillis University College have a Catholic background.

(AQW 1906/09)

The Minister for Employment and Learning: In the 2006/07 academic year, 16.5% of students at Stranmillis University College, whose religious affiliation was known, had a Catholic background.

Source: Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA)

Notes: Percentages are based on figures that have been rounded to the nearest 5.

Responses to religious affiliation questions are not mandatory and therefore these questions have high non-response rates (13% for students at Stranmillis University College in 2006/07).

Teacher Training

Mr Easton asked the Minister for Employment and Learning how many teacher training places there have been in Stranmillis University College in each of the last 4 years.

(AQW 1960/09)

The Minister for Employment and Learning: The number of teacher training places funded by my Department in Stranmillis University College, in each of the last 4 academic years, has been:

 

B.Ed

PGCE

Total

2005/06

792

40

832

2006/07

739

30

769

2007/08

674

20

694

2008/09

615

15

630

The Department of Education is responsible for setting the annual Initial Teacher Education (ITE) student intake numbers for each institution.

Teacher Training

Mr Easton asked the Minister for Employment and Learning how many teacher training places there have been in St Mary's University College in each of the last 4 years.

(AQW 1961/09)

The Minister for Employment and Learning: The number of teacher training places funded by my Department in St Mary’s University College, in each of the last 4 academic years, has been:

 

B.Ed

PGCE

Total

2005/06

769

16

785

2006/07

732

16

748

2007/08

632

16

648

2008/09

591

22

613

The Department of Education is responsible for setting the annual Initial Teacher Education (ITE) student intake numbers for each institution.

Teacher Training

Mr Easton asked the Minister for Employment and Learning how many teacher training places there have been at Queen's University Belfast, in each of the last 4 years.

(AQW 1962/09)

The Minister for Employment and Learning: The number of teacher training places funded by my Department at Queen’s University Belfast, in each of the last 4 academic years, has been:

 

B.Ed

PGCE

Total

2005/06

-

205

205

2006/07

-

205

205

2007/08

-

193

193

2008/09

-

181

181

The Department of Education is responsible for setting the annual Initial Teacher Education (ITE) student intake numbers for each institution.

Concessionary Fees

Mrs I Robinson asked the Minister for Employment and Learning if he intends to discuss with his counterpart in Scotland, Wales and Westminster. reinstating concessionary fees for all pensioners who register for courses at further education colleges in the UK.

(AQW 1971/09)

The Minister for Employment and Learning: As you know through recent correspondence, I have considerable sympathy with the issue you have raised. However, as I indicated in my letter of 20 October 2008 to you, the UK is currently considering a European Directive that would extend age discrimination to the provision of goods, facilities and services. This would bring the treatment of these services more into line with the current Employment Equality (Age) Regulations. Therefore, the outcome of these considerations is likely to have an impact on any changes that might be made to the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations.

I have already had discussions with my Westminster Counterpart, Mr Bill Rammell and I have asked my officials to monitor developments in these areas in the UK, and to keep me informed of the position on a regular basis.

Pathway Personal Advisers

Mr O'Dowd asked the Minister for Employment and Learning, pursuant to AQW 361/09, which agency or group provides the training to Pathway Personal Advisers; and, in the absence of medical training or qualifications on what basis does a Personal Adviser (i) decide to signpost a client to particular support; and (ii) assess the support that would benefit a client most.

(AQW 1982/09)

The Minister for Employment and Learning: Training for Pathways Personal Advisers is provided by the Department’s Staff Development Unit supported where appropriate, by the Occupational Psychology Service, Medical Support Services and contracted specialists. Pathways Personal Advisers are trained to explore with clients their prospects of returning to work at a series of up to six work-focused interviews. (i) Decisions to signpost a client to a particular support are based on information the client provides in the course of an interview and the knowledge gained through training; and (ii) assessing the support that would benefit a client most is also based on the information the client provides in the course of an interview and the knowledge gained through training. At no time are clients compelled to avail of any particular support: participation in any work-related activity or seeking further medical intervention is voluntary.

Enterprise, Trade and Investment

Tourism Targets

Mr Cree asked the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment in light of the current economic climate, what measures are in place to ensure that tourism targets are met.

(AQW 1421/09)

The Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (Mrs A Foster): Despite the current economic climate, the strategic direction for tourism remains unchanged.

In the short term we are taking a number of measures to address the challenges of the current economic climate. These include:

  • Ensuring quality and value for money – these will be key determinants of success, offering competitive advantage;
  • Increasing the E-marketing role such as discovernorthernireland.com;
  • Developing further the closer to home markets which have the greatest potential to offer a return on investment;
  • Taking advantage of the strength of the Euro - the strong Euro offers a competitive advantage for residents and international visitors in the Republic of Ireland and European markets with direct access routes;
  • Holidaying in the sterling zone is currently more attractive for the Great Britain market
  • Targetting of local companies to host major conferences at home; and
  • The potential of the resident population for both day trips and holidays at home must also be maximised

Northern Ireland Tourist Board will continue to focus on the delivery of its Corporate Plan objectives to ensure the development of a long term sustainable tourism industry for Northern Ireland.

Tourism Ireland will continue to partner NITB and Northern Ireland industry effectively to market our way through current and forthcoming difficulties.  

Tourism Ireland will also deliver world-class marketing programmes in 2009 to ensure that Northern Ireland achieves competitive standout in key markets despite the challenges.

Experience shows that maintaining a strong marketing presence during uncertain times, pays dividend.  By 2007, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland were among only a few European destinations to have recovered fully from the downturn in travel from the US which followed the 9/11 attacks. Tourism Ireland’s strategy is to maintain its promotional presence in major markets during this period to ensure that Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland, is well positioned for recovery when consumer confidence resumes.

Invest NI

Dr Farry asked the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment for (i) a timescale; and (ii) terms of reference, in relation to a review of Invest NI.

(AQW 1496/09)

The Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment: Draft Terms of Reference (ToR) for the review have been developed and the overall aim is to ensure that DETI and Invest NI policies and programmes are targeted to help achieve the goals outlined in the Programme for Government. The current project brief in the draft ToR indicates that the review would need to consider and make recommendations in the following areas:

    1. The current and forecasted performance of the Northern Ireland economy, relative to other regions with access to similar policy instruments, programmes and resources;
    2. Current DETI/Invest NI policies and programmes, with an assessment of their effectiveness in stimulating productivity improvements, particularly within manufacturing and private services;
    3. Policy options to stimulate economic growth / productivity and build a larger and more wealth creating private sector, particularly in financial and value added business services;
    4. How NI can further attract value added FDI and promote domestic investment;
    5. Review and advise on the structure and remit of Invest NI and the existing governance arrangements between DETI, DFP and Invest NI;
    6. Identify any issues which may inhibit the delivery of the productivity goal which fall to other Departments in the NI Executive, particularly DEL (in relation to skills) and DRD (in relation to regional planning and infrastructure investment);
    7. Consider the optimal way by which the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment engages with key stakeholders on economic development issues; and
    8. Consider whether any improvements could be made to DETI and Invest NI’s working links within the NI Executive and on an east/west and north/south basis.
    9. The sub-regional distribution of inward investment and the effectiveness of policy in encouraging the location of investment.

The draft ToR have been shared with both the Executive and the ETI Committee. These are being finalised following the Committee’s response of 21st October 2008. The Department is also currently working on the practical arrangements necessary to establish the review, including membership of the Review Panel. Once the Panel is established, a programme of work and associated timescales will be agreed.

Invest NI

Dr Farry asked the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment to detail the body that will conduct a review of Invest NI.

(AQW 1497/09)

The Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment: The Department is currently working on the practical arrangements necessary to establish the review, including the membership of the review panel. This is an important exercise that will advise on current and future economic development policy in Northern Ireland. I am therefore seeking to appoint high calibre individuals with relevant experience and expertise.

Invest NI

Dr Farry asked the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment to report on how the additionality of the efforts of Invest NI is measured in relation to decisions on investment.

(AQW 1525/09)

The Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment: Additionality is a key criterion in Invest NI’s decision on whether or not to support an investment and in determining the amount of support offered.

Any company seeking financial assistance must demonstrate that Invest NI support is essential to enable their investment project to proceed. Additionality may also be satisfied where Invest NI assistance can influence the proposed nature, scale, timing or location of a project. Invest NI provides the minimum support necessary for the project to proceed.

Invest NI subjects all applications for support to an appraisal and approval process commensurate with the level of funds sought and the risk associated with the proposed investment project. For example:

  • All projects seeking support in excess of £250,000 are subjected to a full commercial or economic appraisal conducted either by Invest NI’s Corporate Finance Appraisal & Advisory Division (CFAAD) or by an independent third party;
  • Professional economist advice is incorporated into all submissions for support over £1 million, ensuring HM Treasury guidance is adhered to; and,
  • Invest NI and the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Investment must secure the approval of the Department of Finance and Personnel for internationally mobile investment projects where support exceeds £10 million and for non-mobile projects where support exceeds £6 million.

As well as the consideration of additionality at project appraisal, Invest NI schemes of support are subject to regular evaluation to ensure that they are necessary and that they are delivered in the most appropriate and cost-effective manner.

Inventors of New Technology

Mr Savage asked the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment to outline what assistance, both financial and otherwise, is available to inventors of new technology.

(AQW 1556/09)

The Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment: Invest NI recognises the importance of technological innovation and offers a broad range of professional advice and financial incentives to support individual inventors, businesses and academic researchers wishing to develop new ideas and inventions.

Incentives include support for research and development, technology transfer and the provision of a venture capital fund focussed specifically on early stage technology ventures. Invest NI also provides specialist Intellectual Property advice covering Patents, Registered Design, Trade Marks and Copyright.

Ferry Companies

Dr Farry asked the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment what representations she has made to ferry companies in relation to the cost of ferry crossings between Northern Ireland and Great Britain compared to the cost of equivalent services between Great Britain and France.

(AQW 1573/09)

The Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment: The ferry services which operate between Northern Ireland and Great Britain are provided by private sector companies and fare levels are a matter for their commercial judgement. I have not made representations to the ferry companies.

GAA Games

Mr McKay asked the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment what significant GAA games have been featured on the Northern Ireland Tourist Board website, in each of the last 10 years.

(AQW 1642/09)

The Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment: The Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) features events and sporting activities on its website when it is notified of these, when they are likely to be relevant to tourists and consistent with NITB’s corporate plans and objectives and when they are of national and international prominence.

NITB retains full editorial control of its website and the information it carries. Sporting events of national and international prominence which the GAA consider might be included on NITB’s website should be forwarded to NITB by e-mailing events@nitb.com.

NITB has received no communication from the GAA about sporting events which the GAA considers may be of interest to tourists and thus no Gaelic games have been featured on its consumer website.

Ferry Companies

Mr Weir asked the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment if her Department has any powers to regulate the prices charged by ferry companies travelling to Scotland.

(AQW 1647/09)

The Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment: The ferry services which operate between Northern Ireland and Scotland are provided by private sector companies and fare levels are a matter for their commercial judgement. My Department does not have a regulatory role in respect of the level of fares set by the private sector ferry companies.

Data Sharing Between Government Agencies

Dr Farry asked the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment for her assessment of the potential for data sharing between government agencies and utilities to facilitate a pricing structure that better reflects the consumers' ability to pay for electricity, gas and water.

(AQW 1783/09)

The Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment: My Department does not currently hold relevant personal data which could be utilised to assist the utility companies in devising a pricing structure which reflects the consumers' ability to pay for electricity and gas.

However my Department works in co-operation with the Northern Ireland Authority for Utility Regulation (NIAUR), and the respective energy companies in establishing ways for customers to avail of the most appropriate payment method, and to reduce their overall energy use through a number of practical energy saving schemes. All of the energy utility companies have put in place a number of initiatives to help ensure each customer’s billing structure best reflects their financial circumstances, eg. customers can avail of pre-payment meters for gas and electricity, and other appropriate discounts.

The Department for Regional Development (DRD) is responsible for Northern Ireland Water, and advises that in preparation for the planned introduction of domestic charging in April 2007, NI Water obtained property address details from the (then) Valuation and Lands Agency. In addition, domestic customer details were obtained on a "one off" basis from the (then) Rate Collection Agency. To service the Affordability Tariff, which was part of the original domestic charging proposals, recipients of Housing Benefit and Rate Relief would have automatically qualified for the reduced tariff for low income customers.

DRD also advises that following the deferral of domestic charging in April 2007, Northern Ireland Water no longer has the benefit of legislation to update the domestic customer database through data sharing with Land and Property Services. In the event of additional household payments going ahead, a future Affordability Tariff could be serviced through data sharing for benefit claimants under Article 264 of the Water and Sewerage Services (NI) Order 2006.

There may be potential for other Departments to share data with the utility providers. For example the DSD Fuel Poverty Taskforce is at the very early stages of examining the possibility of legislation to permit it to more effectively share benefit related data, in order to establish how any initiatives to assist the fuel poor might be targeted.

However, in any circumstance, the sharing of personal data can only be facilitated within the confines of the relevant legislation such as the Data Protection Act, and this may limit the potential for greater sharing of information.

Executive Meetings

Mr Moutray asked the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, pursuant to her answer to AQO640/09, how the Executive's failure to meet is impacting on her efforts to promote investment from the United States of America.

(AQW 1787/09)

The Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment: We know from our discussions with potential overseas investors that economic and political stability is an important issue and investors will take an interest in the current status of the Executive.

However Invest Northern Ireland’s international sales and marketing emphasis is to promote all areas of Northern Ireland as an attractive and viable location for new inward investment opportunities, in what is a very competitive global market.

As part of my personal efforts, I travelled to both East and West Coasts of the US in October, where I took the opportunity to meet with potential investors and follow up with attendees of May’s USNI conference. On the West Coast I participated in Invest NI’s ‘Trade Mission to USA - 26-31 October’. The companies on this mission were representative of Northern Ireland’s innovative and diversified industrial base.

Invest Northern Ireland is conscious of the importance of global economic conditions and remain confident that the Northern Ireland business proposition is a highly-competitive alternative to other regions of the British Isles or Western Europe.

Although the growing uncertainty and global economic downturn means many companies are tightening their belts and are increasingly focused on cost containment and deferring investment decisions; several firms in the region are firmly focused on opportunities for continued growth and new projects. Recent announcements reflect US companies’ belief in the competitive proposition that NI has to offer. Be assured that the Northern Ireland value proposition will continue to be promoted strongly to potential investors in all its markets.

Environmental and Rural Development Fund

Mr P J Bradley asked the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment to (i) confirm that on 27 February 2006 the Northern Ireland Secretary of State launched a £59.2m Environmental and Rural Development Fund for promoting the development and use of renewable energy; and (ii) provide a breakdown of how her Department directed this allocation.

(AQW 1904/09)

The Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment: I can confirm that the former Secretary of State, Peter Hain, launched the £59.2m Environment and Renewable Energy Fund (EREF) on 27th February 2006. The objective of the Fund was to enhance and accelerate renewables development in Northern Ireland.

A breakdown of the funding allocation is attached below:-

Department/ Project

Allocation

(£ million)

DETI

 

Carbon Trust activities

2.128

Energy from Waste flagship projects

(figure shown represents a transfer of £2m to DSD in year )

16

Energy Research programmes

1.5

Integrated Communications Strategy

1.119

Action Renewables

2.267

Departmental running costs

0.216

Reconnect ( including management costs)

8.463

   

DSD

 

Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in social housing (housing associations)

0.5

Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in social housing (NIHE) (includes £2m transferred from DETI)

5.2

Energy Efficiency in private housing ( Warm Homes)

9.8

Renewable Energy for Fuel poverty owner occupiers

1.295

   

DFP

 

Government Office estate – biomass boiler on Stormont Estate and PV/Solar on government buildings

3.1

Central Energy Efficiency Fund

2.83

   

DARD

 

Renewable Energy Centre of Excellence AFBI Hillsborough

2.345

Bioenergy research, technology transfer and commercial demonstration at farm level Demonstration (CAFRE)

1.852

   

DOE

 

Ecological Footprint

0.285

   

OFMDFM

 

Sustainable Development Communications Strategy

0.300

   

TOTAL

59.2

   

Environment

Student Housing

Mr Spratt asked the Minister of the Environment what consideration he has given to an inter-departmental strategy for developing purpose built student housing to alleviate problems associated with houses of multiple occupancy, in areas such as South Belfast.

(AQW 1612/09)

The Minister of the Environment (Mr S Wilson): My predecessor, Arlene Foster, visited the Holylands area in South Belfast with you and heard at first hand some of the issues facing the community, including the adverse impact that HMOs can have on an area.

The issues surrounding HMOs are multi-faceted and cannot be tackled by one Department or Agency. Arlene Foster has endorsed the joint working approach of the Inter Agency Group which was set up under the chairmanship of the Chief Executive of Belfast City Council. I agree that a multi agency approach is necessary and that, through the Inter Agency Group, Planning Service can make a significant contribution to addressing a range of issues in the Holylands area.

As part of its contribution to the Inter Agency Group, Planning Service has undertaken consultation on a Draft HMO Subject Plan for Belfast aimed at addressing a range of issues. Work is progressing on the Subject Plan and it is hoped it will be formally adopted later this year.

Arlene Foster made a statement on 12 June 2008 outlining further steps she would consider in order to further consolidate this policy framework. One step related to purpose built student housing and she stated that she would enter into discussions with Ministerial colleagues with a view to the establishment of an inter-departmental group to examine the scope for alternative student accommodation and thereby further reduce the current number of HMOs in areas such as the Holylands. I would intend to build further on the work that has already been undertaken and to enter into discussions as is considered appropriate.

My colleague, the Minister for Employment and Learning, Sir Reg Empey, has indicated that Queen’s University, the University of Ulster and Stranmillis University College already provide purpose built student accommodation on, or near, their respective campuses. The University of Ulster in particular, contends that it cannot compel students to live on-campus. Research conducted by the University has shown that students who live in private rented accommodation have made a positive choice to do so because of their desire for independence. The respective institutions also report that their accommodation does not operate at full occupancy.

Finally, I would agree with the Minister for Employment and Learning that whilst responsibility for Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMOs) rests with the Department for Social Development, my Department is also content to be involved in the development of any inter-departmental strategy on this issue.

Québec Driving Licence

Mr Hamilton asked the Minister of the Environment if he is aware that arrangements with the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ), whereby drivers from Northern Ireland did not have to take a further driving test to be issued with a Québec driving licence, have collapsed, putting Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) registered drivers at a disadvantage compared with other UK drivers; and to detail (i) how this problem arose; and (ii) the action he is taking to restore the benefits previously afforded to DVA registered drivers.

(AQW 1636/09)

The Minister of the Environment: There are no reciprocal licence exchange arrangements between Northern Ireland and any of the provinces and territories of Canada. Until recently, the legal powers relating to licence exchange in Northern Ireland were such that, if Canada were to be designated, the Department would be obliged to accept all Canadian licences tendered for exchange. However, although it is generally accepted that the driving standards in Canada are similar to those in Northern Ireland, it was not considered desirable to accept all Canadian licences, as Canadian driving licences did not indicate whether a person had passed a driving test in a car equipped with automatic transmission, or if the licence had been issued in exchange for one originating in a country which may not have been assessed against Northern Ireland’s strict standards. Great Britain has, in contrast, amended its powers of designation, and is able to exclude certain licences from the exchange arrangements.

The necessary primary power to amend the Northern Ireland system of designation for licensing purposes was brought into force on 15th November 2007. However, before this power can be made effective, additional legislation is required, in the form of a Designation Order. The Department is now in the process of preparing legislation to bring Northern Ireland into line with the arrangements that exist for Great Britain licence holders. It is planned that the Designation Order will be in force in Spring 2009.

The Designation Order will allow DVA to enter into bilateral reciprocity agreements with the same provinces and territories as have negotiated agreements with DVLA in Great Britain. Once in place, both the Northern Ireland and Canadian driver licensing authorities will be in a position to begin the exchange process, subject to a range of conditions being met.

Climate Change

Dr Farry asked the Minister of the Environment to clarify if the asssessment given on the causes of climate change in his answer to AQW 181/09 is his own, or that of his Department.

(AQW 1652/09)

The Minister of the Environment: The assessment given in my answer to AQW 181/09 is mine. My Departmental officials’ role is to provide me, as the Minister, with considered and balanced advice on policy issues which I can then use, together with any other information that I consider pertinent.

Loss of Moorland

Mr Shannon asked the Minister of the Environment what discussions he has had with environmentalists in relation to the loss of moorland and the effect this is having on increasing Northern Ireland's carbon footprint.

(AQW 1653/09)

The Minister of the Environment: The Peatland and Upland Biodiversity Delivery Group (BDG) is a cross-sectoral group established and chaired by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) to help maintain the area and improve the condition of moorland habitats included in the Northern Ireland Habitat Action Plans. The BDG includes representatives from Queens University Belfast, the Committee for Nature Conservation and the Countryside, the Ulster Wildlife Trust and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Peatlands are large stores of organic matter that also function as carbon stores. This has been recognised by BDG. NIEA has recently joined the DEFRA Peat Partnership Project, a major collaborative UK wide project assessing the biodiversity and environmental benefits of conserving moorland and peatlands.

Loss of Moorland

Mr Shannon asked the Minister of the Environment what discussions he has had with landowners to encourage the retention and preservation of (i) heath land; and (ii) moorland, to reduce Northern Ireland's carbon footprint.

(AQW 1655/09)

The Minister of the Environment: The main point of contact between the Department of the Environment and heathland and moorland landowners is through the declaration of Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSIs) by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency. In these situations landowners are encouraged to manage their land sensitively and with a view to preserving the peatland.

While peatlands on heathland and moorland do form significant carbon stores, ASSIs are declared primarily to protect habitats and the biodiversity they support.

Antrim Castle

Mr Burns asked the Minister of the Environment to make a statement on the collapse of the walls at Antrim Castle; and to detail (i) the information held by his Department explaining the collapse; and (ii) the investigations that are on going.

(AQW 1667/09)

The Minister of the Environment: The walls at the Castle are scheduled for protection under the Historic Monuments and Archaeological Objects (NI) Order 1995. Under the terms of that Order, it remains the responsibility of the owner, in this case Antrim Borough Council, to care for the monument. That would include commissioning any report on the cause of the collapse. It is also the owner’s responsibility to undertake any remedial works. At this stage, the Department does not have information explaining why the wall collapsed. The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) awaits the outcome of investigations that are underway by Antrim Borough Council and will provide advice, and, as appropriate, grant Scheduling Monument Consent for any agreed programme of remedial works.

Disposal of Used Batteries

Mr Hilditch asked the Minister of the Environment what action his Department is taking to provide more facilities for the disposal of used batteries.

(AQW 1681/09)

The Minister of the Environment: My Department is due to consult in December on UK wide regulations transposing the Batteries Directive. The Regulations will require retailers to take back waste portable batteries and battery producers to take back other waste batteries.

The Regulations are scheduled to be made in spring 2009 and once implemented the number of collection points for waste batteries in Northern Ireland will increase. Collection targets placed on battery producers will mean that facilities for waste batteries are likely to be set up at civic amenity sites, at retail outlets and in many public buildings.

Litter Fines

Mr Hamilton asked the Minister of the Environment to detail (i) the number of litter fines that have been issued; and (ii) the monetary value of these fines, in each of the last 5 years, broken down by council area.

(AQW 1723/09)

The Minister of the Environment: The Department does not hold the information requested for the 2003/04 year. The number of fixed penalty notices issued for litter offences together with the monetary value of those notices for the next 4 years is set out in the table below. The Litter (Northern Ireland) Order 1994, as amended, specifies the amount of the fixed penalty as £50.

Council

2004/05

2005/06

2006/07

2007/08

Antrim BC

6 (£300)

25 (£1250)

7 (£350)

17 (£850)

Ards BC

25 (£1250)

26 (£1300

26 (£1300)

12 (£600)

Armagh City & DC

15 (£750)

45 (£2250)

31 (£1550)

13 (£650)

Ballymena BC

38 (£1900)

42 (£2100)

13 (£650)

26 (£1300)

Ballymoney BC

1 (£50)

41 (£2050)

68 (£3400)

17 (£850)

Banbridge DC

0 (£0)

0 (£0)

2 (£100)

13 (£650)

Belfast CC

1146 (£57300)

1557 (£77850)

1174 (£58700)

1790 (£89500)

Carrickfergus BC

16 (£800)

3 (£150)

17 (£850)

18 (£900)

Castlereagh BC

0 (£0)

0 (£0)

0 (£0)

20 (£1000)

Coleraine BC

76 (£3800)

62 (£3100)

74 (£3700)

X

Cookstown DC

11 (£550)

6 (£300)

62 (£3100)

44 (£2200)

Craigavon BC

X

85 (£4250)

192 (£9600)

349 (£17450)

Derry CC

11 (£550)

67 (£3350)

63 (£3150)

X

Down DC

1 (£50)

1 (£50)

9 (£450)

22 (£1100)

Dungannon & South Tyrone BC

0 (£0)

4 (£200)

0 (£0)

3 (£150)

Fermanagh DC

X

X

X

X

Larne BC

30 (£1500)

63 (£3150)

50 (£2500)

197 (£9850)

Limavady BC

9 (£450)

8 (£400)

9 (£450)

5 (£250)

Lisburn CC

0 (£0)

0 (£0)

6 (£300)

7 (£350)

Magherafelt DC

9 (£450)

22 (£1100)

17 (£850)

17 (£850)

Moyle DC

2 (£100)

0 (£0)

0 (£0)

2 (£100)

Newry & Mourne DC

21 (£1050)

18 (£900)

24 (£1200)

24 (£1200)

Newtownabbey BC

8 (£400)

2 (£100)

42 (£2100)

117 (£5850)

North Down BC

7 (£350)

22 (£1100)

24 (£1200)

23 (£1150)

Omagh DC

0 (£0)

0 (£0)

X

60 (£3000)

Strabane DC

0 (£0)

0 (£0)

0 (£0)

0 (£0)

NOTE: X = information not held by the Department

MOT Tests

Mr Beggs asked the Minister of the Environment what steps he has taken to promote the penalties associated with driving a vehicle without tax or a MOT test certificate.

(AQW 1731/09)

The Minister of the Environment: The enforcement of non compliance with vehicle testing is a matter for the police through either the fixed penalty procedure or by prosecution. The Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) issue reminders to vehicle keepers when their vehicle first requires a test certificate or their certificate needs to be renewed. More recently, the Agency introduced mandatory display of vehicle test certificates to promote compliance and make detection of non compliance easier. A publicity campaign detailing the penalties associated with non display of discs was conducted as part of the introduction of mandatory display.

DVA also issues reminders to the keepers of vehicles about 3 weeks before their tax discs expire and these reminders point out that vehicles must be licensed and also give further details of the penalties for using a vehicle on the road if a statutory off road notification (SORN) is in force. The Agency also runs television, radio and billboard advertising campaigns regularly warning motorists about the consequences of failing to have a tax disc.

In addition, DVA employs a number of highly visible measures to detect non-complying vehicles. The Agency participates in a UK-wide contract with NCP for the detection, clamping and removal of unlicensed vehicles and also operates a number of camera detection units. High profile joint operations have been carried out with the police, including "Operation Evader" in Belfast in September during which 320 unlicensed vehicles were clamped.

Road Safety

Mr Beggs asked the Minister of the Environment to outline the importance of the MOT test in relation to road safety.

(AQW 1732/09)

The Minister of the Environment: The purpose of the vehicle test, commonly known as the MOT test, is to ensure that vehicles that are subject to this test (such as cars and motor cycles) meet minimum EU environmental and road safety standards. Such vehicles must comply with the key performance requirements in the Construction and Use and Lighting Regulations.

Possession of a current vehicle certificate does not of course mean that the vehicle is roadworthy for the life of the certificate. It is not therefore a substitute for regular maintenance, although the requirement for the test does encourage motorists to maintain their vehicles.

Nonetheless, evidence suggests that the existence of a vehicle testing system like the MOT has a significant impact on road safety. Studies have suggested that 4-5% of road traffic collisions are directly attributable to vehicle defects and research in the EU and America has indicated that a vehicle testing system can reduce road traffic collisions by between 5 and 17%.

MOT Tests

Mr Beggs asked the Minister of the Environment what steps the Department is taking to promote the law concerning the MOT test and vehicle tax.

(AQW 1733/09)

The Minister of the Environment: The Driver & Vehicle Agency DVA have taken a number of actions to improve the level of compliance with vehicle testing in Northern Ireland. These have included the issuing of vehicle test reminders to vehicle owners shortly before a test is due, the publication of an information leaflet on vehicle testing and its impact on road safety, and, most recently, the introduction of the mandatory display of vehicle test certificates, with an associated publicity campaign.

In addition, if a vehicle requires a vehicle test certificate, that certificate must be checked before the vehicle can be licensed.

The collection of vehicle excise duty is pursued robustly by DVA. The registered keepers of vehicles are sent a reminder about 3 weeks before their tax disc is due to expire and keepers who fail to either renew their licence or make a statutory off road notification receive a penalty notice. In addition, the Agency runs television, radio and poster advertising campaigns regularly warning motorists of the consequences of using unlicensed vehicles.

MOT Tests

Mr Beggs asked the Minister of the Environment what advice his Department provides to motorcycle owners whose MOT certificates have expired but who need to ride their motorcycles to utilise the services of a mechanic.

(AQW 1734/09)

The Minister of the Environment: The advice the Department’s Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) gives to a motorcycle owner in these circumstances is that a motorcycle without a valid MOT certificate cannot be legally driven on a public road, except when bringing the motorcycle to or from a test centre for a previously booked appointment or to or from a place where the vehicle is being repaired after the refusal of an MOT certificate.

Sewerage Systems

Mr K Robinson asked the Minister of the Environment to detail action taken against construction companies who have not completed sewerage systems at building sites to the required standard in the last 5 years.

(AQW 1742/09)

The Minister of the Environment: Completion of sewerage systems to a required standard is not a matter for my Department as it falls under Northern Ireland Water’s legislation, specifically, the Water and Sewerage Service (Northern Ireland) Order 2006. It is therefore the developer’s responsibility to work in conjunction with Northern Ireland Water (NIW) to ensure that required sewerage system standards are met. For that reason no enforcement action has been taken by my Department against construction companies in the last 5 years regarding this matter.

Noise Pollution

Mr Storey asked the Minister of the Environment to detail his Department's procedures for bringing forward a prosecution for noise pollution.

(AQW 1759/09)

The Minister of the Environment: For noise pollution from domestic and commercial premises, enforcement action is taken by District Councils who have powers to deal with noise nuisance under The Pollution Control and Local Government (NI) Order 1978 or the Noise Act 1996.

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency regulates noise from industrial premises to which it has issued operating permits under the Pollution Prevention and Control Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003.

Planning Applications

Mr Beggs asked the Minister of the Environment to detail, in each of the last five years, the number of (i) planning applications passed by councils for Management Board Referrals; (ii) the number of these rejected by the Management Board on the grounds that they were deemed to be small scale developments; and (iii) applications whose planning recommendation has been reversed.[R]

(AQW 1775/09)

The Minister of the Environment: My Department has provided the following statistics detailing in each of the last five years the numbers of (i) planning applications passed by councils for Management Board Referrals and (ii) the number of applications whose planning recommendation has been reversed. Figures are not available regarding the number of applications rejected by the Management Board on the grounds that they were deemed to be small scale. However, figures are available for applications not accepted as Management Board Referrals and are listed below.

Year

No. of Applications passed by councils for MBR’s

No. of Applications whose recommendation been reversed

2007/2008

44

0

2006/2007

58

2

2005/2006

173

5

2004/2005

209

3

2003/2004

58

7

 

Year

No. of Applications not accepted as MBR’s

% of Applications not accepted as MBR’s

2007/2008

36

82%

2006/2007

54

93%

2005/2006

156

90%

2004/2005

133

64%

2003/2004

14

24%

These figures have been extracted from a live dataset which is continuously updated and validated. They should therefore be regarded as indicative only at this point in time and should not be compared with any previous figures published by the Agency.

Zebra Mussels

Mr Simpson asked the Minister of the Environment for an update on the situation relating to the prevalence of Zebra mussels in Lough Neagh.

(AQW 1779/09)

The Minister of the Environment: Following the discovery of Zebra mussels in Lough Neagh in November 2005, Queen’s University Belfast have been studying the distribution of Zebra mussels in Lough Neagh and are reporting to the Zebra Mussel Control Group which is chaired by NIEA.

To date adult Zebra mussels have been observed on the hulls of boats removed from the water at various points around Lough Neagh. Rope spat surveys carried out around the Lough have shown that Zebra mussel veligers (larva) are widely distributed which would tend to indicate an established population of Zebra mussels in Lough Neagh.

No colonies of adult Zebra mussels have yet been observed on hard rock substrate, as was seen at Lower and Upper Lough Erne during the early phase of colonisation there.

Borough Status of Councils

Dr Farry asked the Minister of the Environment to report on the future of the borough status of existing councils after reorganisation following the Review of Public Administration.

(AQW 1784/09)

The Minister of the Environment: I have previously answered this question and would refer you to my reply to Assembly Question Number AQW 1376/09.

PPS 5

Mr Simpson asked the Minister of the Environment when he expects PPS 5 to be published; and if he intends to publish it as a consultation document.

(AQW 1804/09)

The Minister of the Environment: Draft PPS5 (revised) is currently the subject of legal proceedings with leave granted to Central Craigavon Limited by the Courts in April 2008 for a judicial review of the transfer of the Draft PPS from DRD to DOE. This litigation is ongoing and a hearing is scheduled for 25th November 2008.

While the judicial review is likely to cause some delay in publication I am keen to progress to the issue of the final PPS at the earliest opportunity. With this in mind my officials are continuing to take forward work on PPS5 where it is possible to do so.

Retail Impact of Food Stores

Mr Simpson asked the Minister of the Environment what assessment he has made of the retail impact of food stores that have received planning approval from his Department; and if this impact on retail has undergone any changes over the last 3 years.

(AQW 1808/09)

The Minister of the Environment: FACE="Arial" SIZE=4>The retail impact of a food store proposal on the vitality or viability of a town centre is a material consideration for Planning Service under the Department’s current policy for town centres and retail developments. That policy is contained in Planning Policy Statement 5 (PPS 5): Retailing and Town Centres and draft PPS5: Retailing, Town Centres and Commercial Leisure Developments.

In accordance with PPS5, my planning officials may request that a Retail Impact Assessment (RIA) be submitted in support of any planning application for a food store. However, in the majority of cases, a RIA will only be requested where a major food store is proposed in an out of town centre location. A major food store involves the provision of over 1,000 square metres of gross retail floorspace.

The RIA provides planners with the information they require to assess whether or not a proposal is likely to have a detrimental impact on the retailing function of a town centre. The analysis of the RIA, as undertaken by planners, forms an integral part of the planning process.

There have been no changes during the last 3 years to the way that the retail impact of a food store is assessed.

Monitoring Farms

Mr Shannon asked the Minister of the Environment to confirm (i) if his Department has been monitoring farms in the Strangford constituency in the past month by helicopter and/or plane; and (ii) whether he intends to monitor every farm by this method.

(AQW 1819/09)

  1. The Minister of the Environment: NIEA was monitoring Areas of Special Scientific Interest by helicopter in Co Down during the week commencing 13th October 2008. Several farmland sites around Saintfield and Crossgar within in the Strangford Constituency were included in this exercise.
  2. Helicopter monitoring of ASSIs, first tried in 1998, is an efficient and cost effective way of checking ASSIs for damage. Most ASSIs are now monitored by this method annually. NIEA only monitors those farms designated as ASSIs by helicopter.
  3. I am unaware of recent aerial monitoring of farms in the Strangford Constituency by any other government Department or Agency.

Killing of the Red Kite

Mr Shannon asked the Minister of the Environment if his Department (i) has been involved in the investigation into the killing of the Red Kite in South Down; and (ii) has it had contact with the Gameskeepers Association to ascertain the facts in this matter.

(AQW 1822/09)

The Minister of the Environment: Offences committed under the terms of the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 are criminal offences and relevant investigations are the responsibility of the PSNI.

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) works closely with the PSNI Wildlife Liaison Officer in advising on wildlife crime and has been in close contact in relation to this case.

As the investigations are being progressed by the PSNI, NIEA has not made any contact with the Gamekeepers Association in relation to this matter.

MOT Tests

Mr Hamilton asked the Minister of the Environment how many cars underwent MOT tests at the Newtownards Test Centre, in each of the last five years.

(AQW 1863/09)

The Minister of the Environment: Detail of the number of MOT car tests carried out in each of the last five years at the Newtownards test centre is included in the following table.

Financial year

Number of car tests conducted

2003/04

49,022

2004/05

47,621

2005/06

54,487

2006/07

64,566

2007/08

63,248

Driving Tests

Mr Hamilton asked the Minister of the Environment how many driving tests took place at the Newtownards Test Centre, in each of the last five years.

(AQW 1864/09)

The Minister of the Environment: The Newtownards Test Centre conducts practical driving tests for private cars and motorcycles. Details of the number of car and motorcycle practical driving tests carried in each of the last five years at the Newtownards test centre is included in the following table.

Financial year

Number of tests conducted

2003/04

3419

2004/05

3140

2005/06

4839

2006/07

4983

2007/08

5891

Planning Refusals

Ms Anderson asked the Minister of the Environment pursuant to his answer to AQW 345/09, to provide a further breakdown detailing how many of the (i) 34 planning refusals in Londonderry/ Derry in 2006/7, were in the BT47 and BT48 areas; and (ii) how many in 2007/8 to date were in the BT47 and BT48 areas.

(AQW 1875/09)

The Minister of the Environment: My Department has provided the following statistics detailing how many commercial planning applications of the (i) 34 planning refusals in the Londonderry Division in 2006/7 were in the BT47 and BT48 areas; and (ii) how many in the 2007/8 were in the BT47 and BT48 areas.

Londonderry Division

Year 06/07

Year 07/08

Refusals in BT47 and BT48

17

20

Applications received in any year may not be determined in the same year. Therefore direct comparisons between 06/07 and 07/08 figures should not be made.

These figures have been extracted from a live database which is continuously updated and validated. They should therefore be regarded as indicative only at this point in time and should not be compared with any previous figures published by the Agency.

Cost of Fly-Tipping

Mr Shannon asked the Minister of the Environment what the cost of fly-tipping has been, in each council area, in each of the last three years.

(AQW 1876/09)

The Minister of the Environment: The Northern Ireland Environment Agency does not hold this information, as the responsibility for fly-tipping rests primarily with District Councils.

Ards and Down Area Plan

Mr Shannon asked the Minister of the Environment if the Ards and Down Area Plan 2015 will be (i) finalised; and (ii) released to the public.

(AQW 1878/09)

The Minister of the Environment: The Department is committed to finalising a new Plan for Ards and Down by the end of March 2009, in line with our Business Plan Objective and the final Plan will be released to the public at the time of adoption.

Ards and Down Area Plan

Mr Shannon asked the Minister of the Environment if the implementation of the Ards and Down Area Plan 2015 will be delayed due to the requirement for PPS 14 legislation to be passed through the Assembly.

(AQW 1879/09)

The Minister of the Environment: The Department is committed to finalising a new Plan for Ards and Down by the end of March 2009, in line with our Business Plan Objective. It is not envisaged that the implementation of the Plan will be delayed due to the requirement for PPS 14 to be passed through the Assembly.

Land Available for Housing

Mr McNarry asked the Minister of the Environment to detail the total acreage of land available for housing, broken down by district council area, and how much of the land available for housing lies within 100 year flood plains.

(AQW 1884/09)

The Minister of the Environment: In accordance with the plan, monitor and manage ethos of the Regional Development Strategy (RDS) and PPS 12 Housing in Settlements, housing developments and the residual land availability in settlements are monitored annually by Planning Service. Land available for housing includes zoned land and other land for which planning permission has been granted.

The results of the most up to date annual housing monitor survey are set out in the Northern Ireland Housing Land Availability Summary Report 2007 available from the Planning Service website at www.planningni.gov.uk. The amount of land available for housing across the 26 District Councils of Northern Ireland is 5,321 hectares (13,149 acres). The District Council breakdown is laid out in Annex 1 attached.

The Department is unable to provide information in relation to how much of the housing land available is within areas commonly referred to as 100 year flood plains. This is because the 100 year flood plain maps, while indicative of where land may flood, are not definitive and do not comprehensively cover the whole of Northern Ireland. This would make the task of trying to accurately calculate the area of housing land that lies within such flood plains impracticable and of limited value. Even if possible any such exercise would constitute a disproportionate use of resources.

PPS15 Planning & Flood Risk lays down a precautionary approach to decision making when addressing flood risks in the preparation of development plans and the determination of planning applications. It states that development plans will not bring forward sites or zone land that may be susceptible to flooding, now or in the future, unless the most exceptional circumstances exist. Furthermore, it provides a set of land use policies to deal with the potential for flood risk where new development is proposed and places a requirement on developers to accompany planning applications with flood risk assessments in certain circumstances. Planning Service has worked closely with DARD Rivers Agency and other consultees in the preparation of development plans and the determination of planning applications and will continue to do so.

My colleague Michelle Gildernew, the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, launched the ‘Strategic Flood Map (NI) Rivers and Sea’ on 4th November 2008. While this will make a significant improvement and provide strategic information in relation to flooding, nevertheless, it will still be indicative of where land may flood and will not provide definitive local flood risk information. Detailed local studies would be required to determine, more accurately, the areas of land that lie within the flood plains.

Pollution Offences

Mr Burns asked the Minister of the Environment, pursuant to his answer to AQW 1374/09, to name the five companies that have committed repeat pollution offences; and to detail the nature of these offences.

(AQW 1928/09)

The Minister of the Environment: Some of the companies that have committed repeat pollution offences are being considered for prosecution and disclosing their identity at this stage may compromise the Department’s position in such cases. The Department is taking legal advice on your request and once this legal advice has been considered, officials will write to you to advise you of the outcome.

Pollution Offences

Mr Burns asked the Minister of the Environment, pursuant to his answer to AQW 1383/09, to provide further details of the cases that resulted in the courts imposing one prison sentence and one suspended prison sentence on offenders for river pollution offences.

(AQW 1929/09)

The Minister of the Environment: Both of these cases were for joint waste and water pollution offences. The case that resulted in the courts imposing a prison sentence involved an illegal landfill site which caused leachate to enter the Dunore River. The offender, Mr Samuel Wilson McIlroy, was found guilty of three offences under the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997 and one offence under the Water (Northern Ireland) Order 1999 in Craigavon Crown Court on 4 December 2006 and was sentenced to imprisonment for 6 months.

The case that resulted in the courts imposing a suspended prison sentence also involved an illegal landfill site which caused leachate to enter the Drumragh River. The offender, Mr William Jordan, was found guilty of six offences under the Waste and Contaminated Land (Northern Ireland) Order 1997 and two offences under the Water (Northern Ireland) Order 1999 in Omagh Crown Court on 14 March 2007 and was sentenced to 8 months imprisonment, suspended for two years.

Glenfarm Holdings Rendering Plant

Mr Butler asked the Minister of the Environment how many complaints against Glenfarm Holdings Rendering Plant, Glenavy, his Department has received in the last 6 months in relation to (i) pollution of local rivers; and (ii) odours emanating from the plant.

(AQW 1944/09)

The Minister of the Environment: (i) The Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) has investigated 6 specific complaints of water pollution relating to the Ulster Farm By-Products site in the last 6 months. The dates are as follows:

  • 16 June 2008;
  • 29 June 2008;
  • 5 September 2008;
  • 12 September 2008;
  • 16 September 2008; and
  • 17 September 2008.

(ii) NIEA has received 152 complaints, relating to odour in the area around Ulster Farm By-Products in the last 6 months. The monthly breakdown is tabulated below.

Month

Number of Odour Complaints

April 08

22

May 08

24

June 08

29

July 08

28

August 08

25

September 08

24

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rose Energy Planning Application

Mr Butler asked the Minister of the Environment how many letters his Department has received in support of the Rose Energy planning application for Glenavy.

(AQW 1947/09)

The Minister of the Environment: Planning Service has received 3661 letters in support of the Rose Energy planning application.

MOT Tests

Mr Hamilton asked the Minister of the Environment to detail the latest average waiting times for an MOT test at each testing centre.

(AQW 1949/09)

The Minister of the Environment: Details of the weekly and year to date average waiting times for a vehicle test in the 15 test centres is included in the following table.

Average waiting time for a vehicle test in days

Weekly Year to date

Test Centre

19 – 25 October 2008

1 April – 25 October 2008

Armagh

9

12

Ballymena

8

18

Belfast

10

15

Coleraine

8

16

Cookstown

8

18

Craigavon

9

13

Downpatrick

8

15

Enniskillen

12

17

Larne

8

16

Lisburn

9

15

Londonderry

11

21

Mallusk

7

14

Newry

12

19

Newtownards

7

18

Omagh

11

16

Road Traffic Accidents

Mr Shannon asked the Minister of the Environment what action he is taking to address the rising number of motorcyclists killed in road traffic accidents.

(AQW 1977/09)

The Minister of the Environment: The level of motorcyclist deaths and injuries in recent years has to be seen in the context of the increase in motorcycle use. Motorcycle registrations have increased from less than 10,000 in 1991, when there were 17 deaths, to almost 32,000 in 2007, when there were 25 deaths. Taking those two years as illustrative of the pattern, the fatality rate, relative to the number of bikes on the road, halved in that period.

However, the figures are still appalling, and there are a number of measures designed to improve road safety in this key area either already in place or on the way.

At present, my Department trains and assesses motorcycle instructors and maintains a voluntary register of those who are available to provide training commercially for new motorcyclists.  The voluntary scheme is based on the mandatory compulsory basic training scheme in Great Britain but in addition Northern Ireland instructors, of whom there are currently over 70 on the register, are trained to take new motorcyclists to driving test standard and above.  Surveys indicate that most new motorcyclists are trained by instructors who are on the voluntary register.  To remain on the register, each instructor must be reassessed every four years and continue to meet the standard required.

On 8 December 2008 the Driver & Vehicle Agency (DVA) will be introducing a new off-road motorcycle manoeuvres test. The new test is intended to ensure that motorcycle test candidates are competent in the control of their machines at a more demanding level than is currently the case. The aim of the test is to improve the standard of road safety for motorcycle and moped riders and ultimately all road users.

Following a public consultation the Agency is introducing compulsory basic training (CBT) for learner motorcycle riders and an approved motorcycle instructor (AMI) register.

The CBT scheme will introduce a mandatory requirement for all learner motorcycle riders to undertake a basic level of training before being permitted to ride on the public road. When a similar scheme was introduced in GB a fall was recorded in road traffic collisions involving motorcycle riders.

The mandatory AMI register will mean that only instructors who have passed the DVA assessment will be legally entitled to conduct and assess CBT and carry out all pre and post licence training for motorcyclists.

The current DOE advertising campaign for motorcyclists was launched in May 2003, and is aired three times throughout the year: at the start of the biking season in March and again in the months of May and August. The last research on this campaign, which was carried out in May 2008, showed that it was still achieving high levels of awareness and impact.

Slurry Spreading

Mr W Clarke asked the Minister of the Environment what advice he received from (i) Department of Agriculture and Rural Development officials; and (ii) his officials, before he extended the period for slurry spreading to the end of the year.

(AQO 900/09)

The Minister of the Environment: The Department of the Environment has joint responsibility with the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) on implementation of the Nitrates Action Programme Regulations (NI) 2006. I received advice from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) which is responsible for inspection and enforcement under this legislation. Whilst this was primarily an operational matter for NIEA, they did liaise directly and agreed with DARD the approach taken.

On 2 October 2008, I clarified in a news release that the Regulations contained a transitional arrangement allowing farmers, with insufficient storage, to apply livestock manures up to 31 December 2008. However I also made it clear that from 1 January 2009 under the Regulations, all farmers must have in place sufficient storage capacity and observe the closed period. Farmers must also comply with all other measures including those relating to adverse weather conditions.

Refundable Deposit Scheme for Glass Bottles

Mr A Maginness asked the Minister of the Environment what consideration he has given to the introduction of a refundable deposit scheme for glass bottles, particularly beer bottles.

(AQO 825/09)

The Minister of the Environment: I have not given any consideration to the introduction of a refundable deposit scheme for glass bottles in Northern Ireland. However, I understand that a feasibility study, organised by DEFRA, on bottle deposit charges is taking place in England and that the Scottish Government recently consulted on a possible return to the era of returnable lemonade bottles. I expect to receive details on the findings of these exercises in the near future. There may be some merit in considering a refundable deposit system for Northern Ireland, however, I would prefer to await the findings in England and Scotland before making any commitments in relation to this matter.

Northern Ireland Environment Agency

Mr Gallagher asked the Minister of the Environment to provide a costing plan for the Northern Ireland Environment Agency for (i) 2008-09; (ii) 2009-10; and (iii) 2010-11.

(AQO 880/09)

The Minister of the Environment: The budget allocated to the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) is set at £54.2m in 2008/09, £53.6m in 2009/10 and £52.6m 2010/11.

This funding will enable (NIEA) to meet its overall aim of protecting, conserving and promoting the national and built environment for the benefit of present and future generations.

NIEA is currently implementing a one year business plan which describes how it is spending its budget in 2008/09. This plan, which is available to the public and can be viewed on the NIEA website, sets out its aims, objectives and key targets, including those set by the Executive under the Programme for Government.

Work is now starting on a three year corporate and business plan for the period 2009-2012.

Northern Ireland Environment Agency

Mr McElduff asked the Minister of the Environment to detail the statutory timetable for the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and other consultees to respond to planning application consultations.

(AQO 903/09)

The Minister of the Environment: At present there is no statutory requirement for any consultee to respond to a consultation on a planning application within a specified timeframe. However, Service Level Agreements are in place with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and other consultees. The target for the response to consultation requests in the Service Level Agreement is 75% within 30 working days.

Review of Public Administration

Mr McCallister asked the Minister of the Environment when he will remove his potential conflict of interest in leading the Review of Public Administration while being a council member.

(AQO 837/09)

The Minister of the Environment: I would like first of all to point out that the major decisions on the reform of local government were taken by the Executive before I was appointed as Minister for the Environment. I have already declared publicly my intention to resign as a councillor and that I will determine the timing of my resignation in consultation with party colleagues.

In the meantime, I have also confirmed publicly that I will not accept any severance payment which may be put in place for retiring councillors as a result of the Review of Public Administration. There will therefore be no question of any personal conflict of interest on my part in dealing with any proposals on severance arrangements.

Revised Planning Policy Statement 14

Mr McGlone asked the Minister of the Environment for an update on the revised Planning Policy Statement 14.

(AQO 877/09)

The Minister of the Environment: I hope the Executive will consider the Revised draft PPS 14 at the earliest opportunity. If there is no agreement, I will shelve the revised draft and we will live with the existing policies.

This would mean residential development in rural areas continuing to be hampered by restrictive planning policy, and planning policy on farm diversification continuing to lag behind rural development policies.

Policies in the revised draft could benefit rural communities without harming the environment.

Rights of Non-Farming Rural Dwellers

Mrs O'Neill asked the Minister of the Environment if he will protect the rights of non-farming rural dwellers to build homes in their rural community.

(AQO 912/09)

The Minister of the Environment: I hope the Executive will consider the Revised draft PPS 14 at the earliest opportunity. If there is no agreement, I will shelve the revised draft and we will live with the existing policies.

This would mean residential development in rural areas continuing to be hampered by restrictive planning policy, and planning policy on farm diversification continuing to lag behind rural development policies.

Policies in the revised draft could benefit rural communities without harming the environment.

Ards and Down Area Plan

Mr McCarthy asked the Minister of the Environment for an update on the Ards and Down Area Plan.

(AQO 914/09)

The Minister of the Environment: The Department received the Planning Appeals Commission’s report on the public inquiry, requested by Planning Service to hear objections into the draft Ards and Down Plan, at the end of March 2008, later than was originally anticipated.
The report has raised a number of complex issues, which are linked to broader regional policy considerations and also contains a number of recommendations on the adoption process. The specific content of the PAC report is confidential and can only be made available at adoption so I am unable to elaborate on these issues or recommendations at present.

Unfortunately it has not been possible to finalise our consideration of the PAC report as early as originally programmed, due to the complexity of the issues involved. That said I can assure you that considerable progress has been made towards the adoption of the final plan and a Paper outlining the main issues and the way forward has been approved by the Management Board.

The Department is confident that a final Plan for Ards and Down will be published by the end of March 2009, in line with our Business Plan Objective.

Review of Public Administration

Mr McNarry asked the Minister of the Environment for his assessment of the potential conflict of interest that could arise as a result of his responsibility for the reform of local government and his position as a councillor.

(AQO 841/09)

The Minister of the Environment: I would like first of all to point out that the major decisions on the reform of local government were taken by the Executive before I was appointed as Minister for the Environment. I have already declared publicly my intention to resign as a councillor and that I will determine the timing of my resignation in consultation with party colleagues.

In the meantime, I have also confirmed publicly that I will not accept any severance payment which may be put in place for retiring councillors as a result of the Review of Public Administration. There will therefore be no question of any personal conflict of interest on my part in dealing with any proposals on severance arrangements.

Northern Ireland Environment Agency

Mr McLaughlin asked the Minister of the Environment when the Northern Ireland Environment Agency will report on the cause of the wall collapse at Antrim Castle.

(AQO 911/09)

The Minister of the Environment: The wall of the Castle is scheduled for protection under the Historic Monuments and Archaeological Objects (NI) Order 1995. Under that Order, it is the responsibility of the owner, in this case Antrim Borough Council, to commission any report on the cause of the collapse. It is also their responsibility to undertake any remedial works.

Planning Service

Mr McKay asked the Minister of the Environment how many representations he has made to the Planning Service since he was appointed Minister of the Environment; and what advice he has received from Departmental officials in relation to potential conflicts of interest.

(AQO 910/09)

The Minister of the Environment: Since I was appointed as Minister of the Environment I have made 71 representations to the Planning Service.

I am fully entitled to make representations about planning applications, provided there is no potential for conflict of interest. Such representations are treated in the same way as those from any other elected representative. A conflict of interest would only arise where I am involved in the final decision making process on an application and any such conflict will be avoided.

Local Government Employee Retirement Age

Lord Browne asked the Minister of the Environment what plans he has to remove the default age of retirement at 65 for local government employees.

(AQO 867/09)

The Minister of the Environment: Section 44 of the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 1972 which set the default age of retirement for local government employees at 65 was repealed by The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations (Northern Ireland ) 2006 (SR 2006 No. 261 ) which came into operation on 1 October 2006.

Northern Ireland Environment Agency

Mr Craig asked the Minister of the Environment what progress has been made in relation to the appointment of a Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.

(AQO 823/09)

The Minister of the Environment: The necessary papers defining the job specification and setting out experience and skills required of a successful applicant are in the process of completion. Public advertisement of the post will follow soon.

Local Government Boundaries Commissioner

Mr Gardiner asked the Minister of the Environment if the Local Government Boundaries Commissioner can make significant change to local government boundaries during his review.

(AQO 862/09)

The Minister of the Environment: The Local Government Boundaries Commissioner has been tasked with making recommendations on the boundaries of the eleven new local government districts and the wards that constitute those districts.

The very nature of his task in reducing from 26 the number of districts means that the existing boundaries will be changed significantly.

The Local Government (Boundaries) Act 2008 specifies, as the starting point for the Commissioner’s review, the broad boundaries of the new districts by reference to the current local government districts.

The new districts must incorporate the whole or "major part" of the current districts, as set out in the Boundaries Act. The implication is that a minor part – which to my mind could still be a significant part – could, if necessary, be included in a different district from that envisaged by the Act.

It is for the Commissioner to decide what changes are appropriate - significant or otherwise - to the current district and ward boundaries, in line with the rules set in Schedule 4 to the Local Government Act (NI) 1972, as amended.

Finance and Personnel

Office Headquarters and Dependent Offices

Mr Gardiner asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel to detail the number of (i) full-time; and (ii) part-time staff, that are employed or proposed to be employed in the office headquarters and dependent offices of (a) the Charities Commission; (b) the Victims and Survivors Commission; (c) the Regional Health and Social Care Board; (d) the Common Services Organisation; (e) Northern Ireland Civil Service Shared Services; (f) Local Government Shared Services; (g) the Education and Skills Authority; (h) the Northern Ireland Library Board; (i) Land and Property Services; (j) the Northern Ireland Environment Agency; (k) Northern Ireland Water; and (l) the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

(AQW 1251/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel (Mr N Dodds): Details of the number of staff employed or proposed to be employed in the specified office headquarters and dependent offices are set out in the attached table.

Currently Employed

Proposed to be Employed

(i) Full-time

(ii) Part-time

(i) Full-time

(ii) Part-time

(a) Charities Commission

-

-

16

-

(b) Victims and Survivors Commission

7

-

(1)

(1)

(c) Regional Health and Social Care Board

-

-

Less than 400 (2)

-

(d) Regional Support Services Organisation(3)

-

-

Less than 950 (2)

-

(e) Northern Ireland Civil Service Shared Services

-

-

(1)

(1)

(f) Local Government Shared Services

-

-

(1)

(1)

(g) Education and Skills Authority

-

-

(1)

(1)

(h) Northern Ireland Library Board

-

-

35(2)

-

(i) Land and Property Services

768

103

-

-

(j) Northern Ireland Environment Agency

-

-

807

26

(k) Northern Ireland Water

1,720(4)

-

-

-

(l) Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

2,761

377

-

-

(1) Information not available.

(2) Estimated figure and it has not possible to provide a breakdown of full-time/part-time posts.

(3) Previously referred to as the Common Services Organisation.

(4) It has not been possible to provide a breakdown of full-time/part-time posts.

Departmental Private Office

Mr Burns asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel how many staff are employed in his Departmental private office; and the annual cost of employing these staff.

(AQW 1341/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: There are seven (7) staff in DFP Private Office. The annual costs of employing the staff during the financial years 2007/08 and 2008/09 to date (1 April to 30 September) are:

2007/08

£149,127.60

2008/09 to date

£69,701.70

These figures exclude the Minister’s Special Adviser.

Government Funded Agencies

Mr Wells asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel how many (i) civil servants; and (ii) senior staff, employed by government funded agencies, are paid more than the post for First Minister.

(AQW 1460/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: There are 4 civil servants who are paid more than the post for First Minister.

There are no senior staff in government funded agencies who are paid more than the post of First Minister. This answer excludes public bodies as they are not agencies of the Northern Ireland Departments.

Departmental Assets

Mr Savage asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel if he has plans to raise revenue by selling Departmental assets.

(AQW 1537/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: As set out in the Budget 2008-2011 document, Northern Ireland departments have plans in place to generate £486 million of capital receipts in the current financial year with a further £60 million coming from the work of the Capital Realisation Taskforce (CRT).

Primary responsibility for any decisions regarding the sale of assets lies with individual departments. As regards my own department, I have currently no plans to raise further revenue from the sale of assets in 2008-09, beyond those set out in the Budget document.

Construction Industry

Mr Storey asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel for his assessment of the current economic pressures on the construction industry.

(AQW 1619/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: Government recognises and shares the concerns of the construction industry, particularly in relation to the downturn in the housing sector. I have recently met with a wide range of representatives of the industry to discuss their concerns and ideas at first hand. The First and deputy First Ministers and the Committee for Finance and Personnel have also held similar meetings.

The Programme for Government and the Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland (ISNI) will result in up to £20bn being invested by 2018. This is a key instrument and opportunity to mitigate the effects of the economic downturn particularly within the construction industry.

Government is fully committed to the delivery of ISNI. The Strategic Investment Board Ltd, with input from the Central Procurement Directorate in my Department, are introducing a new Delivery Tracking System to facilitate up-to-date monitoring of Departments’ progress in delivering major projects and programmes.

Small Business Rates Relief Scheme

Mr Hamilton asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel for an update on proposals for a Small Business Rates Relief Scheme.

(AQW 1625/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: As you know, the Economic Research Institute for Northern Ireland (ERINI), was commissioned to carry out a study into the case for a small business rate relief scheme, in 2007. Its report, published in March 2008, concluded that there was not a strong economic case for the introduction of such a scheme. It added, however, that if it were decided to introduce a rate relief scheme for small businesses, a targeted one based on wider social grounds would be worth examining.

You will also be aware that the DFP Committee, while accepting the main recommendation of the report that a broad scheme could not be justified, put forward several options for a more targeted scheme.

My officials have carried out a further assessment of the likely impact and effectiveness of these alternative options. I am currently considering their recommendations and the further evidence presented and hope to make an announcement on a way forward very shortly.

Gross Value Added Figures

Mr Hamilton asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel what the most recent Gross Value Added (GVA) figures are and; how this compares with other UK regions.

(AQW 1629/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: The latest Gross Value Added (GVA) figures available (2006) show that Northern Ireland’s GVA stands at £26.43 billion, which equates to £15,175 per capita. This per capita figure is equivalent to 81.5% of the UK average and places Northern Ireland joint second bottom (with the North East) of the 12 UK regions, and marginally above Wales (77%).

Gross Value Added Gap

Mr Hamilton asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel what the pre-devolution target was for closing the Gross Value Added (GVA) gap.

(AQW 1630/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: The previous Direct Rule Government did not have a specific target for closing the GVA per capita gap between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

However, the previous draft Regional Economic Strategy (reflecting the limited aspirations of the Direct Rule Government) included analysis which predicted that GVA per head in Northern Ireland, relative to the UK average, would increase from 80 percent in 2002 to 80.5 percent in 2015.

Land and Property Services

Dr Farry asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel to report on the average time for new properties to be placed on the rateable list, by Land and Property Services.

(AQW 1654/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: The average time for new properties to be placed in the Valuation List by Land and Properties Services since 1st April 2006 was 126 days.

For domestic properties only, it was 129 days on average while for non-domestic properties only it was 97 days.

There is no appreciable loss of revenue by any delayed

valuations within the life of a Valuation List as, the date of valuation does

not restrict the commencement date for billing purposes.

Budget Stocktake Exercise

Dr Farry asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel to report on the potential of the current Budget Stocktake exercise to reallocate spending, beyond the scope of the current quarterly monitoring rounds.

(AQW 1660/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: The normal quarterly monitoring round process provides the opportunity for the Executive to reallocate resources within each financial year.

In March 2008 the Executive agreed to conduct a Strategic Stocktake rather than engage in a full Budget exercise.

As I informed the Assembly on 14 October 2008, the objective of the Strategic Stocktake is to review progress to date and allow departments register any significant pressures or easements that they are aware of for 2009-10 and 2010-11. The focus is on surveying the landscape at this early stage, rather than waiting until we are already into the next financial year.

In this way, we can determine our strategic approach now to managing any pressures through the in-year monitoring processes, although the key principle remains that it is only possible for the Executive to make additional allocations through a corresponding reduction in the funding for other business areas.

Civil Service and Water Charges

Mr McNarry asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel to outline the proposals he discussed with the Chief Secretary of the Treasury, in the week ending 11 October 2008, about (i) the Civil Service equal pay claim: and (ii) the deferral of water charges.

(AQW 1677/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: I met with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 8 October to discuss how both the burden of the one-off cost associated with the Civil Service equal-pay claim and the issues linked to the financing of the introduction of water charges could be handled with the least possible impact on the delivery of local public services. A range of proposals were discussed, including gaining early access to end year flexibility and the use of capital to help address the Equal Pay issue, but as discussions are still ongoing it would not be appropriate for me to comment further at this stage.

Sale of Surplus Assets

Mr McNarry asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel further to his statement to the Assembly on the June monitoring round, to detail the figure for capital receipts from the sale of surplus assets, particularly house sales.

(AQW 1678/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: The generation of additional revenue from the sale of surplus assets is not separately identified from other capital receipts in the monitoring of expenditure by Northern Ireland departments.

The September monitoring return from the Department for Social Development projected a £67.4 million shortfall in terms of land and house sales. However, pro-active management action by the department has resulted in the net pressure being reduced to £51.9 million.

Strategic Stocktake

Mr McNarry asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel what issues are being considered as part of the 'strategic stocktake' the Executive is due to undertake in relation to the Budget and Programme for Government.

(AQW 1679/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: The Strategic Stocktake of the Executive’s expenditure plans for 2009-10 and 2010-11 will involve a review of progress against plans and any increases or decreases in requirements. The key issues that will be considered as part of the exercise include the approach to the NICS Equal Pay Claim, the future funding arrangements for water and sewerage services and the impact of the downturn in the property market on planned capital receipts.


It is also expected that departments will raise a number of additional issues in their submissions to DFP.

Budgetary Receipts

Mr McNarry asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel to give the overall percentage change in budgetary receipts as an outcome of the fall in property prices.

(AQW 1680/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: The difference between the actual level of capital receipts generated by departments and those planned in the Budget process is the result of a range of factors. Although the fall in property prices is important, the more constrained position in terms of the credit market has also had a significant impact. In addition, departments would be expected to take remedial action to offset any shortfall in planned capital receipts.

Therefore, it is not possible to provide a figure for the percentage change in budgetary receipts as an outcome of the fall in property prices with an acceptable degree of accuracy.

Strategic Stocktake

Mr McNarry asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel (i) for his assessment of the ability of a 'strategic stocktake' to deal with large shifts and displacements in the Budget; and (ii) what consideration he has given to bringing his proposed adjustments to the Assembly.

(AQW 1682/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: The strategic stocktake exercise provides the opportunity for the Executive to consider the emerging pressures and easements identified by departments since the Executive’s spending plans for 2009-10 and 2010-11 were approved by the Assembly in January 2008. The purpose of the exercise will be to inform decisions by the Executive regarding how best to deal with issues arising.

As I explained to the Assembly on 14 October, the focus is on surveying the landscape at this early stage and in determining our strategic approach to managing any pressures through the in-year monitoring processes. It is at that point that the Assembly would be notified of any adjustments.

Rates Arrears

Mr Kennedy asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel what steps the Minister has taken to rectify rates arrears, with over £130 million outstanding.

(AQW 1683/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: Land and Property Services resolutely and consistently pursues all ratepayers who have not discharged their rate liability, with some 80 staff working on a full-time basis on the various stages of rate recovery.

The first stage in the rate recovery cycle is to issue final notices for those ratepayers who fail to discharge their debt or to make a mutually agreeable repayment plan after having received a final notice. The next stage is to instigate court proceedings. Should the debt still remain unpaid following the award of a decree in the Magistrates Court, then further legal action is taken, which results in the case being referred to the Enforcement of Judgements Office (who will attempt to secure payment through, for example, an attachment of earnings order or an order charging land). Alternatively, the debt could be referred to the Crown Solicitors Office to instigate bankruptcy or liquidation proceedings.

So far during 2008/2009, Land and Property Services has issued 97,669 final payment notices and 26,769 court proceedings. The Magistrates Courts have awarded 6,514 decrees for rating debt.

Since 31 March 2008 the successful implementation of our arrears strategy has reduced the level of debt owing (£123.8m) to around £70m.

Devolution of Policing and Justice

Dr Farry asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel to report on discussions with the UK Treasury on the financial settlement for the devolution of policing and justice, including; (i) the determination of new baselines for the Northern Ireland Block Grant and; (ii) the revision of the Barnett Formula.

(AQW 1689/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: There are no discussions with the Treasury on a financial settlement for the devolution of policing and justice since political agreement has not been reached on this issue. It is clear that funding issues will play a key part in any future discussions.

Rates Collection

Dr Farry asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel to report on the basis of the 15% rise in the cost of rates collection charged to District Councils, considering the shortfall in funding for the agency during the current Budgetary cycle.[R]

(AQW 1708/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: The Agency estimates the cost of rates collection will increase by 15% by 2009/10 compared with 2007/08 to meet additional costs of implementing new rating reforms e.g. extra staff, continued investment to develop IT systems.

Introduction of £400 Cap

Dr Farry asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel to report on the timescale for a decision on the introduction of a £400k cap in [the timetable for the setting of] the district rate to be struck by Councils for 2009/10.[R]

(AQW 1711/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: Consultation was undertaken earlier this year on a proposal to reduce the maximum capital value. This included details on the results of the initial integrated impact assessment that had been carried out in relation to this change. Having taken account of the responses to this consultation and the analysis, I intend to reduce the maximum capital value to £400,000 from April 2009. This has been announced well in advance of councils striking their rates, for 2009/10, by 15 February 2009.

Introduction of £400 Cap

Dr Farry asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel to report on contingencies that may be put in place to assist Councils if a decision to introduce a £400k cap for the 2009/10 financial year is made after Councils strike their district rate.[R]

(AQW 1713/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: No contingencies are needed given that I have already announced my decision to reduce the maximum capital value to £400,000 from April 2009. This is well in advance of when district councils strike their rate for 2009/10, subject to Executive sign off on the Rates (Amendment) Bill. I will also be asking the Assembly to approve legislation that will allow compensating payments to be made to district councils in 2009/10 and 2010/11 for any loss in district rate revenue sustained as a result of reducing the cap from £500,000 to £400,000. This will be set at 100% in 2009/10 and 50% in 2010/11.

Introduction of £400 Cap

Dr Farry asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel for his assessment of a £400k cap in the estimated Penny Product figures for the 2009/10 financial year that are being provided to Councils.[R]

(AQW 1714/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: The Estimated Penny Product (EPP) provided to District Councils for the 2009-2010 year will not take account of the reduction in the cap from £500,000 to £400,000. The approach being taken in the EPP is that there will be no loss in revenue to Councils with the cap reduced to £400K. Councils will therefore strike their rate without any adjustment for the revised cap. It is intended that this will be paid in-year, by the Department of Finance and Personnel, on this basis.

At finalisation stage the reduction in cap from £500,000 to £400,000 will be considered a loss in income revenue to District Councils. The compensating payments to councils would be paid along side this.

Subject to Executive sign off on the Rates (Amendment) Bill, I will be asking the Assembly to approve legislation that will allow compensating payments to be provided to District Councils for the years 2009-2010 and 2010-2011. This will consist of 100% relief in 2009-2010 and 50% in the following year.

Investment Strategy

Mr Spratt asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel for his assessment of the roll-out of the Investment Strategy over the next 3 years.

(AQW 1793/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: The latest forecasts provided by Departments indicate that gross spend in taking forward the Investment Strategy will exceed £1.6 billion in 2008-09.

In relation to 2009-10 and 2010-11, the current Strategic Stocktake exercise provides the opportunity for the Executive to consider a strategic approach to any emerging pressures and easements identified by Departments for those years.

Cost of Flights

Mr Burns asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel to detail (i) the number of return flights taken by civil servants from (a) Belfast International Airport; and (b) George Best Belfast City Airport; and (ii) the total costs of these flights, in each of the last five years.

(AQW 1810/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: The information requested is provided in the attached table.

The information provided covers the full years from 2004 to 2007 and part information for 2008. The Northern Ireland Civil Service Travel Management Company, Carlson Wagonlit Travel, has provided this information. However, any flights booked outside of the Travel Management contract are not included.

NORTHERN IRELAND CIVIL SERVICE

2008 Jan - Sep

Total Costs

(excl. Tax)

No of Flights

BELFAST CITY APT

£883,436

4,911

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL APT

£181,143

1,524

2007 Jan - Dec

Total Cost

(excl. Tax)

No of Flights

BELFAST CITY APT

£1,218,030

6,831

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL APT

£240,519

2,225

2006 Jan - Dec

Total Costs

(excl. Tax)

No of Flights

BELFAST CITY APT

£1,324,908

7,132

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL APT

£176,355

1,672

2005 Jan - Dec

Total Costs

(excl. Tax)

No of Flights

BELFAST CITY APT

£1,615,509

8,053

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL APT

£108,961

927

2004 Oct - Dec

Total Costs

(excl. Tax)

No of Flights

BELFAST CITY APT

£406,787

2,035

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL APT

£5,332

77

Cost of Flights

Mr Burns asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel to detail (i) the number of flights taken by civil servants; (ii) the total costs; and (iii) the average cost of a flight between (a) Belfast International Airport; and (b) George Best Belfast City Airport and all London airports.

(AQW 1811/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: The information requested is provided in the attached table.

The Northern Ireland Civil Service Travel Management Company, Carlson Wagonlit Travel, has provided this information. However, any flights booked outside of the Travel Management contract are not included. Information covering five years is not available. I have therefore provided information held from 2004 to 2008 to date.

2008 Jan - Sep

All Ticketed Airlines

(i)

(ii)

(iii)

SIZE=2 COLOR="#ffffff">

Trips

Spend Ex tax

£

Average Ticket Price £

BELFAST to LONDON

4,128

617,885

150

(a) Belfast International

717

34,968

 49

London Gatwick

296

14,442

49

London Heathrow

217

12,636

58

London Luton

103

3,851

37

London Stanstead

101

4,039

40

(b) Belfast City

3,411

582,918

 171

London City

27

4,370

162

London Gatwick

634

56,335

89

London Heathrow

2,584

514,503

199

London Stanstead

166

7,710

46

 

2007

All Ticketed Airlines

(i)

(ii)

(iii)

SIZE=2 COLOR="#ffffff">

Trips

Spend Ex tax

£

Average Ticket Price £

BELFAST LONDON

5,696

888,693

156

(a) Belfast International

770

42,944

 56

London Gatwick

386

23,207

60

London Heathrow

0

0

0

London Luton

148

7,008

47

London Stanstead

236

12,729

54

(b) Belfast City

4,926

845,748

 172

London City

22

4,539

206

London Gatwick

855

100,657

118

London Heathrow

3,973

736,979

185

London Stanstead

76

3,573

47

 

2006

All Ticketed Airlines

(i)

(ii)

(iii)

SIZE=2 COLOR="#ffffff">

Trips

Spend Ex tax

£

Average Ticket Price £

BELFAST LONDON

6,147

1,031,714

168

(a) Belfast International

645

45,634

 71

London Gatwick

305

24,524

80

London Heathrow

1

127

127

London Luton

131

8,374

64

London Stanstead

208

12,609

61

(b) Belfast City

5,502

986,079

 179

London City

0

0

0

London Gatwick

969

143,197

148

London Heathrow

4512

841,556

187

London Stanstead

21

1,326

63

 

2005

All Ticketed Airlines

(i)

(ii)

(iii)

SIZE=2 COLOR="#ffffff">

Trips

Spend Ex tax

£

Average Ticket Price £

BELFAST LONDON

6,226

1,129,904

181

(a) Belfast International

313

24,935

 80

London Gatwick

139

12,132

87

London Heathrow

0

0

0

London Luton

71

4,644

65

London Stanstead

103

8,159

79

(b) Belfast City

5,913

1,104,969

 187

London City

0

0

0

London Gatwick

745

125,286

168

London Heathrow

5,168

979,683

190

London Stanstead

0

0

0

 

2004

All Ticketed Airlines

(i)

(ii)

(iii)

SIZE=2 COLOR="#ffffff">

Trips

Spend Ex tax

£

Average Ticket Price £

BELFAST LONDON

1,602

311,225

194

(a) Belfast International

21

1,251

 60

London Gatwick

8

455

57

London Heathrow

0

0

0

London Luton

11

677

62

London Stanstead

2

119

60

(b) Belfast City

1,581

309,974

 196

London City

9

1,881

209

London Gatwick

207

30,858

149

London Heathrow

1,364

277,033

203

London Stanstead

1

202

202

Cost of Flights

Mr Burns asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel, in relation to flights taken by civil servants between Belfast International Airport and London airports, to detail (i) the number of flights; (ii) total costs of flights; and (iii) average costs, using (a) Aer Lingus; and (b) Easyjet; since 14 January 2008.

(AQW 1817/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: The information requested is provided in the attached table.

The information provided covers the period from the 14th January 2008 to date. The Northern Ireland Civil Service Travel Management Company, Carlson Wagonlit Travel, has provided this information. However, any flights booked outside of the Travel Management contract are not included.

(a) AER LINGUS

(b) EASYJET

(i)

(ii)

(iii)

(i)

(ii)

(iii)

SIZE=2 COLOR="#ffffff">

Trips

Spend Ex tax

Average Ticket Price

Trips

Spend Ex tax

Average Ticket Price

BELFAST INTERNATIONAL

217

£12636

 £58

500

£22,332

 £45

London Gatwick

0

0

0

296

£14,442

£49

London Heathrow

217

£12,636

£58

0

0

0

London Luton

0

0

0

103

£3,851

£37

London Stanstead

0

0

0

101

£4,039

£40

Cost of Flights

Mr Burns asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel, in relation to flights taken by civil servants between George Best Belfast City Airport and London airports, to detail (i) the number of flights; (ii) total costs of flights; and (iii) average costs, using (a) BMI; and (b) Flybe; since 14 January 2008.

(AQW 1818/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: The information requested is provided in the attached table.

The information provided covers the period from the 14th January 2008 to date. The Northern Ireland Civil Service Travel Management Company, Carlson Wagonlit Travel, has provided this information. However, any flights booked outside of the Travel Management contract are not included.

FLYBE

BRITISH MIDLAND

(i)

(ii)

(iii)

(i)

(ii)

(iii)

SIZE=2 COLOR="#ffffff">

Trips

Spend Ex tax

Average Ticket Price

Trips

Spend Ex tax

Average Ticket Price

GEORGE BEST BELFAST CITY

633

£56,258

£89

2,584

£514,503

£199

London City

0

0

0

0

0

0

London Gatwick

633

£56,258

£89

0

0

0

London Heathrow

0

0

0

2,584

£514,503

£199

London Stanstead

0

0

0

0

0

0

Vacant Properties

Mr Weir asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel what assistance his Department is giving to North Down Borough council in the collation of vacant properties in that area.

(AQW 1859/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: Land and Property Services is currently working closely with all 26 councils to validate the status of properties recorded on the rating database as vacant. North Down Borough Council is acting as Land and Property Services’ agent and is being paid for its data validation work by Land and Property Services. This exercise, which will be completed in the coming weeks, will improve the accuracy of the rates database.

Salary Sacrifice Childcare Vouchers Scheme

Mr O'Dowd asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel, given that the 20 October 2008 deadline has passed without the implementation of the Salary Sacrifice Childcare Vouchers scheme, what action he is taking to ensure that this scheme is delivered.

(AQW 1899/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: The implementation of this scheme will take place following the introduction of the new civil service payroll system. This is a very ambitious and complex project and all elements are being fully tested to ensure that they are fit for purpose. The situation was reviewed on 20 October but, while good progress had been made against the predefined success criteria, it was concluded that it would not be possible to implement the new payroll system and consequently the Salary Sacrifice Childcare Voucher scheme by the October pay date.

Salary Sacrifice Childcare Vouchers Scheme

Mr Ford asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel to provide an update on the Salary Sacrifice Childcare Vouchers scheme given that the deadline of 20 October 2008 has passed.

(AQW 1900/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: The implementation of this scheme will take place following the introduction of the new civil service payroll system. This is a very ambitious and complex project and all elements are being fully tested to ensure that they are fit for purpose. The situation was reviewed on 20 October but, while good progress had been made against the predefined success criteria, it was concluded that it would not be possible to implement the new payroll system and consequently the Salary Sacrifice Childcare Voucher scheme by the October pay date.

Civil Service Jobs

Mr Beggs asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel to detail the number of civil service jobs in the (i) Carrickfergus; (ii) Larne; and (iii) Newtownabbey Borough Council areas, broken down by office location.

(AQW 1913/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: The number of staff in post in the three district council areas, broken down by office location, is detailed in the attached table.

District Council

Department

Building Address

   

Staff

Carrickfergus

DEL

Govt. Office

Davy Street

Carrickfergus

BT38 8BN

30

Carrickfergus

DSD

Govt. Office

Davy Street

Carrickfergus

BT38 8BN

24

Carrickfergus

DOE

Carrickfergus Castle

Belfast Road

Carrickfergus

3

Carrickfergus

DRD

Victoria Street

Carrickfergus

BT38 8AQ

12

Carrickfergus

DOE

Marine Highway

Carrickfergus

BT38 7BG

2

Total Carrickfergus

       

71

Larne

DARD

Crown Bldgs

Pound Street

Larne

BT40 1SH

43

Larne

DSD

Crown Bldgs

Pound Street

Larne

BT40 1SH

36

Larne

DOE

Ballyboley Road

Balloran

Larne

BT40 2SY

21

Larne

DEL

59 Pound Street

Larne

BT40 1SB

23

Larne

DRD

81 Belfast Road

Larne

 

13

Total Larne

       

136

Newtownabbey

DRD

Sandyknowes Depot

543 Antrim Road

BT36 8RF

37

Newtownabbey

DOE

Hydepark Industrial Est

Commercial Way

Mallusk

Newtownabbey

31

Newtownabbey

DSD

Crown Bldgs

39 Church Road

Newtownabbey

BT36 7RA

47

Newtownabbey

DEL

Govt. Office

41 Church Road

Newtownabbey

BT36 7RA

34

Total Newtownabbey

       

149

TOTAL

       

356

Notes

Data source as at 1 January 2008.

Figures do not include those on career break.

Figures include both permanent and casual staff.

Events on the Stormont Estate

Mr Wells asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel to outline how events on the Stormont Estate are managed and approved.

(AQW 1963/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: My Department is responsible for managing and approving events held within the Stormont Estate, except in those areas held under licence by the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Northern Ireland Civil Service Sports Association, which are the responsibility of the licensees.

DFP approved events are managed in line with the Event Safety Guide published by the Health and Safety Executive. Events are managed to minimise disruption to local residents, promote public safety and to ensure that there is no cost or liability to the Department.

Whenever a request to hold an event within the Stormont Estate is received, my officials meet with the organisers, representatives of the ‘blue light’ services and local residents groups (if they are interested) to ascertain the viability and suitability of the event for the estate.

Once I have considered my officials’ advice, I will then take a decision to either give approval or to refuse permission.

Sufferers of Pleural Plaques

Mr Burns asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel for an update on the work of his officials examining the House of Lords ruling on compensation for sufferers of pleural plaques; and to detail a timeframe within which he will make a decision on whether compensation will be made available.

(AQW 2037/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: My Department is continuing to explore the most appropriate way of supporting people diagnosed with pleural plaques and, on 13 October, it published a consultation paper which set out a number of issues for consideration. The consultation exercise will close on 12 January 2009 and, as is customary, officials will then prepare a summary of the responses received and make recommendations on the way forward. At this stage, it is not possible to say when that summary will be completed, as much will depend on the number of responses submitted. I am, however, conscious of the concerns which have arisen in light of the House of Lords’ decision and it will be my aim to place proposals on future action before Executive colleagues at the earliest possible opportunity.

Integrated Supply Team Framework Agreement

Ms Purvis asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel how many projects have been procured through the Integrated Supply Team Framework Agreement, detailing (i) the name and value of each project; and (ii) the projected value of the Framework, including forthcoming projects.

(AQW 2042/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: No projects have been procured through the current Integrated Supply Team framework agreement and as a result of a legal challenge the High Court has ruled that the current framework agreement be set aside. The projected value of contracts to be awarded through the current framework agreement, over its four-year period, would have been dependent on the level of usage by the public sector up to the declared maximum value of £500m to £800m.

National Fraud Initiative

Mr Cobain asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel what sets of data it supplied to the Comptroller and Auditor General under the national fraud initiative.

(AQO 827/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: The data sets supplied by DFP were:

  • Payroll - industrial and non-industrial pay for all bodies within the Northern Ireland Audit Office scope;
  • Trade creditors payment history for the period 3 December 2007 to 6 October 2008;
  • Trade creditors standing data as at 6 October 2008;
  • Pensions – payroll pensions and deferred pensions; and
  • Housing benefit awards as at 3 October 2008.

The following data set is to be supplied by DFP:

  • Rateable properties and occupants – to be provided prior to January 2009 for pilot reconciliation against electoral register and DETI data.

Impact of the Banking Crisis

Mr Weir asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel for his assessment of the impact of the banking crisis on the economy.

(AQO 833/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: Hopefully the state of crisis and turmoil within the national and international banking industry has abated. There will undoubtedly be negative consequences for the UK economy, particularly through job losses in financial services and the construction industry.

The Northern Ireland economy however should be relatively insulated. I say this because we have significantly less reliance on the financial services sector. However, our construction sector may be adversely affected in the short term, particularly in the domestic housing sector.

The influence of the public sector within Northern Ireland economy

should also ensure that there remains some buoyancy in terms of economic activity relative to other regions of the UK.

Ulster Savings Certificates

Mr Burnside asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel what consideration he has given to the reintroduction of Ulster Savings Certificates, given the current financial climate.

(AQO 811/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: The Ulster Savings Scheme was closed to reinvestments from 31 March 1997. This decision was based on declining interest in the scheme which reflected the fact that other investment opportunities provided by National Savings and commercial banks were able to offer preferential rates. This remains the case and I therefore have no plans to reintroduce a scheme such as Ulster Savings at this time.

European Union

Mr Kennedy asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel what proportion of the budget is derived from European Union sources.

(AQO 810/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: Funding from the European Union continues to make a significant contribution to the expenditure of Northern Ireland departments. In the financial year 2008-2009 £327 million of funding for local departments is planned to come from European Union sources, which is equivalent to 3.4% of planned expenditure as set out in the Budget 2008-2011 document.

Issue of Birth Certificates

Rev Dr Robert Coulter asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel what plans he has to increase registration checks for the issue of birth certificates.

(AQO 814/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: The Registrar General is statutorily required to furnish any person with a certified copy of a birth entry (known as a birth certificate). Birth certificates are public documents (although individuals must state their reason when applying for a certificate) and it is clearly indicated on the document that they do not constitute proof of identity of the persons presenting them. The Civil Registration Bill (Northern Ireland) 2008, currently progressing through the Assembly, will enable the General Register Office to notify birth certificate information (as well as deaths, marriages and civil partnership information) directly to central and local government departments and approved third parties to assist them in the discharge of their functions.

In time this should serve to reduce the need for the issue of certified copies.

Postponement of Monitoring Round

Mr Elliott asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel for his assessment of the implications of the postponement of the October monitoring round.

(AQO 858/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel:

The September Monitoring Round was not postponed. Monitoring returns were received from departments, a draft Executive Paper was produced with comments received from my Ministerial colleagues. The only delay has been in terms of formal Executive approval for my recommendations, which I am now seeking under Urgent Procedure.

Approval under Urgent Procedure was required because a delay in the confirmation of the outcome of any monitoring round will significantly constrain the ability of departments to either fully utilise additional

allocations or to put in place contingency plans in respect of the spending bids not recommended in light of the broader financial context.

Public Sector Procurement Contracts

Mr F McCann asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel what percentage of public sector procurement contracts awarded in 2007/08 included social clauses.

(AQO 889/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: In line with Public Procurement Policy all contracts awarded by public bodies in Northern Ireland have social clauses relating to equality of opportunity and health and safety considerations.

During the period 2007/2008, forty nine contracts were awarded which included additional social clauses relating to skills development and site safety in the construction industry; use of fair trade products and development of essential skills in the workforce. This figure equates to 1.7% of the total contracts awarded during that period.

Public Sector Pay Demands

Ms Lo asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel for an update on budgetary pressures arising from public sector pay demands.

(AQO 886/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: On behalf of the Executive, I have responsibility for approving all public sector pay awards. Public sector pay accounts for approximately half of Northern Ireland’s current expenditure so it’s important to control pay growth. Any additional budgetary pressures arising from public sector pay demands, such as equal pay, will have to be dealt with by allocating and prioritising public expenditure through the budgetary process.

Vacant Properties

Mr Boylan asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel how many councils have miscalculated their estimated income due to vacant properties.

(AQO 931/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: I understand that this question relates to 2007/2008 financial year.

Vacant domestic properties, and some vacant non-domestic properties, result in a loss of revenue to district councils. In December 2006 councils were provided with an Estimated Penny Product to assist in the striking of their district rates rates for 2007/2008. A forecast of vacancy losses was included. However, the outturn revenue losses from vacancies were higher than was forecast.

It is not only vacant property that contributes to losses in revenue for councils, as changes to the tax base, such as the demolition of properties and reductions in the rateable values of properties, also affect the overall losses on the income received by councils.

In this context seven councils received less rate revenue income than expected due to the losses being higher than forecast.

Regional and District Rate

Mr Gardiner asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel what plans he has to revise the regional and district rate, to provide incentives to the business sector given the present economic downturn.

(AQO 812/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: The current uncertain economic climate coupled with the volatility in financial markets will clearly be of great concern to many of our local businesses.

First of all we need to remind ourselves that there is a limit to what the rating system can afford and deliver in terms of providing incentives to the business sector, even during the present economic downturn. There are plenty of other ways of delivering support than through the rating system. Responsibility for supporting our business sector lies with all Ministers which is why the Executive has made the achievement of a dynamic, innovative local economy a key priority in the Programme for Government.

Having said that, this Department has already taken a number of steps which will help the business sector during this time.

The district rate is of course the responsibility of each of the 26 district councils and the Department therefore has no authority over it.

As the Member may know, however, at the last Budget, it was announced that the non domestic regional rate will not increase in real terms over the CSR period. This is already bringing benefits for local businesses and will also provide more certainty with regard to these costs as they plan ahead.

In addition to this, industrial rates have been frozen at 30%, which is of particular benefit to our vital manufacturing sector. This will save around £12.5m in costs for manufacturing firms this year alone.

A report was also commissioned by the Economic Research Institute of Northern Ireland which looked at the case for a rate relief scheme for small businesses. This concluded that a broadly based scheme was unlikely to be effective in supporting small businesses and the DFP Committee agreed with that assessment.

I am currently considering proposals for a targeted scheme aimed at one particularly vulnerable sector which provides essential services to our community. I need to be satisfied that it is necessary, effective and affordable before I bring this matter to the Assembly but I hope to do so shortly. There are no quick fixes, however and any new relief scheme requires new legislation, which would take over a year to work through.

I think that these represent balanced, sensible measures which will benefit a wide range of businesses in different sectors and will be particularly welcome during this time of economic uncertainty.

Location of Public Sector Jobs

Mr Gallagher asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel what action he is taking to implement all of the recommendations in the Bain Report on the Location of Public Sector Jobs.

(AQO 929/09)

The Minister of Finance and Personnel: The report which was published by Professor Bain on 30 September is the result of an independent review. The recommendations have to be carefully considered by government before decisions on a way forward can be reached. As a first step I have written to Executive colleagues to gather opinions from Ministers and these, together with the views of the Finance Committee and the Assembly debate on 21 October, will be useful in assessing the degree of consensus on the proposals that have been put forward.

Health, Social Services and Public Safety

Locum Consultants

Mr Spratt asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to detail the (i) highest hourly rate paid to a locum consultant in surgery; and (ii) average hourly rate paid to locum consultants in surgery, in each hospital, for each of the last 3 years.

(AQW 1464/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (Mr M McGimpsey): Not all Trusts were able to confirm the average hourly rates for the past three years due to the disproportionate cost of retrieving the information. However, the information received indicates that the average hourly rate in 2007/8 was £61.90 and highest hourly rate for the same period was £64.47.

Locally Qualified Personnel

Mr Newton asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to confirm the number of locally qualified personnel entering the Health Service, as a percentage of total recruitment, for each of the last 3 years.

(AQW 1467/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: The information requested is not held centrally.

Health Provisions

Mr Easton asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to give a breakdown of all new health provisions he has announced since taking office.

(AQW 1468/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: Among the new health provisions I have announced since I took this post are:

New south west hospital in Enniskillen

Enhanced local hospital in Omagh

Health & Social Care Centres in Andersonstown and Shankill

Review of junior doctor training and recruitment

New technology to support independent living

Orthopaedic Integrated Assessment and Treatment Services

Zero Tolerance Campaign on attacks against staff

Funding for children with complex needs

Funding to improve inadequate respite services

Award of full nurses’ pay rise

Further protection for vulnerable adults

£50m capital investment across the South Eastern Trust area

CT scanner at Lagan Valley Hospital

New screening programme to prevent blindness among people with diabetes

Independent review of autism

Maternity allowance for student nurses and midwives

£4.4m investment in health service dentistry

Deliberate Self-Harm Registry pilot scheme in the Western Health & Social Services Board area

All-island mental health promotion campaign

£15.2m capital investment for Craigavon Hospital

New maternity unit at Ulster Hospital

Mental Health & Learning Disability Nursing recruitment campaign

Nursing care standards for patient food in hospital

£16m Health & Social Care Centre in Portadown

Hospital visiting policy

Location of £2m centre for rape and sexual assault victims

Improved recruitment to medical training

Independent review of Omagh house fire tragedy

Strategy to promote equality and human rights in the health service

European Centre of Excellence for health care technology

£46m investment in chronic conditions

£5m centre of excellence for research into complex public health issues

Primary Care diabetes service

New Standards for care homes

£9m investment in clean and safer care

Single rooms in new hospitals in Northern Ireland

Regional suicide prevention hot line

New Dunmurry Fire Station

Independent Review of C Difficile outbreak in Northern Trust area

£1.4m funding for day care centre for the elderly in Ballybeen

Specialist fracture service at Craigavon Hospital

£6m for prisoner healthcare transfer

Emergency care project for patients attending A&E and out of hours services

Investment to improve emergency response times in south west

New satellite radiotherapy centre for Altnagelvin

Child care allowance for student nurses

Community midwife unit at new Downe Hospital

New Regional Emergency Medical Dispatch Centre at NI Ambulance Service

Free car parking for the very ill and their families at hospitals across N.Ireland

£14m investment in stroke services

Properties for Women’s Aid Londonderry

New fire appliances for north west

Five year regional strategy for tackling sexual violence and abuse in N.Ireland

£12m investment in better services for heart disease

£2.6m cardiac catheterisation laboratory at Craigavon Hospital

£190m capital investment at Ulster Hospital

Development of action plan for autism services

Agenda for Change rates of pay achieved

Legal age of sale of tobacco products increased to 18

£8m to Trusts to help them cope with increased energy costs

24/7 nursing cover for Rathlin Island

Cervical cancer vaccination programme

£3.5m investment in maternity services in Craigavon

Additional investment in student midwives in Southern Trust area

Abolition of prescription charges

£17m capital investment in ambulance fleet

Public Inquiry on C Difficile outbreak

Review of maternity services in Belfast Trust area

Opening of Carlisle Health and Care Centre

£26m capital investment in the Fire & Rescue Service

Trained Nurses

Mr Easton asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety how many nurses have been trained, over the last 3 years.

(AQW 1471/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: The numbers of commissioned pre-registration nurses trained in Northern Ireland in each of the last three years are as follows:

Academic year 2007-2008 - 730

Academic year 2006-2007 - 730

Academic Year 2005-2006 - 730

Trained Nurses

Mr Easton asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety how many nurses are to be trained, over the next 3 years.

(AQW 1472/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: The numbers of nurses and midwives in training for academic year 2008-2009 are as follows:

Commissioned places

Nursing

724

Midwifery

62

Open University Part-Time

36

Total

822

At present, there are no plans to reduce the number of commissioned places in 2009/10 and 2010/11. A review of the Nursing and Midwifery Workforce is currently underway and it will help inform future workforce demand and supply.

Access NI

Mr McQuillan asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to confirm that Access NI has the legal right to do background checks on anyone moving to Northern Ireland from the mainland UK or from abroad.

(AQW 1473/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: The Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults (NI) Order 2003 requires that individuals who wish to work with children in regulated position or vulnerable adults in a care position, either in paid or voluntary positions, undergo a pre-employment vetting check.

Before a pre-employment vetting check can be undertaken as part of the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults (NI) Order 2003 arrangements, the individual applying for the position must have given their approval to the check taking place.

Other Departments have similar requirements for specific areas which fall under their responsibility e.g. the Department of Education.

With regard to the legal basis on which AccessNI undertake such checks this is a matter for the Northern Ireland Office.

Health Centre in Ballycastle

Mr McKay asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety if he has any plans to visit the health centre in Ballycastle.

(AQW 1474/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: I have no immediate plans to visit Ballycastle Health Centre. However I may have an opportunity to do so in the future.

Wheelchair Users

Mr McKay asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to detail which health centres provide adequate facilities to accommodate wheelchair users; and what plans he has to carry out an audit of health centres to determine their ability to meet the needs of wheelchair users.

(AQW 1475/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: I have been advised that all health centres provide facilities to accommodate wheelchair users with the exception of Greyabbey Health Centre. Greyabbey is an old building which is only used periodically and has been found impractical to improve from a DDA perspective; it is the subject of a review of Primary Care Services within the Trust. In the case of Ballycastle Health Centre there is wheelchair access to the building, common areas and treatment area. However, as I indicated in my answer to AQW 795/09 which relates specifically to Ballycastle Health Centre, the Trust is currently assessing what further work can be done within the current budget which will include improving wheelchair access. Separately, I have asked Health Estates to confirm with Health and Social Care Trusts the position regarding accessibility by wheelchair users to all relevant facilities for which Trusts are responsible.

Minor Ailments Scheme

Mr McQuillan asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety how many (i) patients are currently benefiting from the Minor Ailments Scheme; and (ii) pharmacists are currently participating in the scheme.

(AQW 1481/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: (i) A record of the number of patients who have benefited from the scheme is not currently held. However, the latest figures available from the Central Services Agency from April 2008 to July 2008 show a total of 74,909 consultations were carried out. The number of consultations may not equate to the number of patients as some patients may present on more than one occasion for a consultation. It should be noted that figures for the number of consultations carried out under the enhanced service from the 1 August 2008 are not yet available.

(ii) The number of pharmacists currently participating in the scheme are as follows:

Southern Health Board – 4

Northern Health Board – 4

Eastern Health Board – 1

Western Health Board - 1

QAA Regulations

Mr Savage asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to clarify that all Health Service staff are following QAA regulations.

(AQW 1503/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: The Quality Assurance Agency is an independent body tasked with defining academic standards and quality in higher education.

In Northern Ireland, the Quality Assurance Agency works with the Department of Employment and Learning and higher education institutions, including Queen’s University and University of Ulster, to maintain quality and standards of academic awards.

My Department commissions a number of undergraduate and postgraduate healthcare courses from both QUB and UU; these include nursing, medical, dental and allied health professional courses. In addition to these academic programmes being reviewed by the Quality Assurance Agency, they must be validated by appropriate professional bodies.

Personality Disorder

Mr Shannon asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety what plans he has to change the terminology in the Mental Health (NI) Order 1986 to include people with borderline personality disorder.

(AQW 1522/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: Following recommendations contained in the Bamford Review, my Department plans to issue in the near future a consultation document on a legislative framework for taking forward new mental health and mental capacity legislation in Northern Ireland. The framework will contain proposals to redefine mental disorder.

Health Service

Mr Easton asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to detail the cost to the Health Service of employing agency staff, for the last 3 years.

(AQW 1528/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: The cost of employing Agency staff in our Health Trusts over each of the last three complete financial years is as follows:

Year

Cost to Health Trusts

% of total salaries and wages bill

1 April 2007 – 31 March 2008

£39,926,000

 

2.50

1 April 2006 – 31 March 2007

£40,608,000

 

2.65

1 April 2005 – 31 March 2006

£38,506,000

 

2.76

Health Service

Mr Easton asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety how many people work for the Health Service.

(AQW 1531/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: According to the Human Resource Management System, as at 30 June 2008 there were 60,281 (51,646.95 whole-time equivalent) staff working in Health & Social Care, excluding bank staff, home helps and staff with a whole-time equivalent less than or equal to 0.03. There are a further 17,200 of these staff, whose whole-time equivalent cannot be accurately provided due to the variable or sessional nature of their working pattern.

A breakdown of the Health & Social Care workforce can be found on the DHSSPS website at:

http://www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/index/stats_research/work_force/stats-research.htm

Health Service

Mr Easton asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety what is the cost to the Health Service of training new nurses.

(AQW 1532/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: Based on the rates for academic year 2008-2009, the cost in Northern Ireland of training an average student nurse to qualification is in the region of £37,000 per student.

Wet Age Related Macular Degeneration

Lord Browne asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety if the guidance published by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence on the treatment of wet age related macular degeneration has been endorsed by his Department; and when it will be implemented.

(AQW 1533/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance on the use of ranibizumab (Lucentis) and pegaptanib (Macugen) for the treatment of wet age related macular degeneration (wet AMD) has recently been endorsed by my Department as applicable to Northern Ireland.

My Department expects the HSC to put plans in place within three months to facilitate implementation of the guidance. Providing these treatments in line with the NICE guidance will require a significant expansion of the existing service. Recruitment of the additional staff needed to deliver the new level of service safely and effectively is currently under way. In the meantime, Health and Social Services Boards will continue to fund treatment with wet AMD drugs for patients with the greatest clinical priority.

Causeway Hospital

Mr Storey asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (i) for his assessment the view of medical specialists and the chairman of NICHS, about the introduction of a stroke unit to the Causeway Hospital; and (ii) if his Department will review the case for the establishment of a specialist stroke unit at the Causeway Hospital.

(AQW 1538/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: In June, I announced a new strategy for stroke services in Northern Ireland. To support the implementation of the measures recommended within that strategy, I have allocated an additional £14m over the next three years, and thereafter a recurrent investment of £9m, to improve outcomes for stroke patients.

A regional stroke implementation group has been established to bring forward a detailed implementation plan which will address each of the measures set out in the Stroke Strategy. The group includes membership from Health and Social Services Boards, Trusts and the voluntary sector, including Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke. Within the work of that implementation work, it will be for Boards and Trusts to determine the number and location of specialist stroke units required to meet the needs of the populations they serve.

Underage and Binge Drinking

Mr Elliott asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety what steps his Department is taking to encourage young people to drink less alcohol.

(AQW 1542/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: The New Strategic Direction for Alcohol and Drugs (NSD) identifies addressing underage and binge drinking as key priorities. Regionally, a range of public information campaigns have been undertaken to provide more information to children and young people on the dangers of alcohol and drug misuse, including the publication of leaflets and websites.

At the local level, the four Drug and Alcohol Co-ordination Teams commission and fund a range of services, initiatives and programmes in support of their local action plans. These provide support to children and young people's groups that are working directly or indirectly towards improving young people’s awareness of the dangers of alcohol misuse. Examples include:

  • targeted education and prevention programmes aimed at vulnerable young people;
  • community & family support services;
  • alternative criminal justice options; and
  • outreach services.

However, young people’s drinking cannot be effectively tackled by my Department in isolation. We are therefore in the process of developing a cross-sectoral, integrated Young People’s Drinking Action Plan, and this plan will look at reducing young people’s demand for alcohol, further restricting supply, and providing effective treatment and support for those who require additional help.

Dental Practices

Mr Lunn asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety for his assessment of the impact on older people of dental practices becoming fully or partly private.

(AQW 1546/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: At present, there is no legal or contractual obligation on General Dental Practitioners, who are independent contractors, to accept any patient for health service treatment, no matter what their individual circumstances are.

My Department, however, is currently in negotiations with the dental profession to move away from these arrangements and into new contracting arrangements with dental practitioners which will modernise dental services and ensure that everyone, including older people, have access to high quality, effective dental care.

I acknowledge that older people, among others, may experience difficulties when their dentist decides to cease providing Health Service treatment. My officials are working on a tender for additional dental services throughout Northern Ireland, with an eye to having identified a preferred bidder(s) for this work in the New Year. When these additional 36 dentists are in place, I fully expect the current dental access problem to ease considerably for everyone in Northern Ireland. In the interim, the Health Boards’ Dental Directors are endeavouring to help people access health service dentistry wherever possible.

Dental Care Provision

Mr Lunn asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety what proposals he has to ensure 24 hour dental care provision in Belfast.

(AQW 1547/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: Health Service dental care is delivered during normal working hours. All general dental practitioners have a professional and ethical obligation to provide a comprehensive service for their registered patients, which should include appropriate emergency provision. Health Service dentists are required under regulations to provide emergency cover for patients requiring prompt care and treatment. Patients should clarify with their practice what arrangements are in place when the practice is not normally open.

In addition the Hospital Dental Service within the Eastern Health and Social Services Board (EHSSB) area which includes Belfast, provides a 24 hour / 365 day on-call service through Accident and Emergency departments at the Royal Victoria Hospital and the Ulster Hospital with a remit to cover patients presenting with significant trauma, spreading infection or haemorrhage. Patients attending who are assessed as not falling into one or more of these categories are advised to attend a high-street dentist for necessary care.

Furthermore, the EHSSB also provide a Relief of Dental Pain clinic at Belfast City Hospital operates the following hours:

7:00pm – 10:00pm every night of the year;

10:00am – 1:00pm every Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday morning; and

2:30pm – 5:30pm every Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday afternoon.

Anyone presenting with an urgent dental problem can attend and staff on duty will deal with everyone who is assessed as requiring care during these hours. Care provided is limited to what the on-duty dentist considers is appropriate in the circumstances to best relieve the patient’s immediate pain.

It is not deemed appropriate to provide 24 hour access for all dental care. There are, however, a few dental conditions that require 24 hour access: significant trauma, uncontrolled bleeding and spreading infection are the only 3 oral conditions which require 24 hour cover and this cover is provided by the A&E departments as detailed above.

I am satisfied therefore that emergency dental care provision in Belfast is appropriate and meets the obligation of our health and social care service..

Health Service

Mr Elliott asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (i) for his assessment of the trends in the age profile of the population; and (ii) to forecast change of provision that the Health Service may need to take as a consequence of these population trends.

(AQW 1548/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: Our population over 65 is set to more than double in the next 50 years.

As we look to the future, we must use our resources more effectively and efficiently, avoiding inappropriate hospital admission and delayed discharge. My Department is firmly committed to continuing to transform the way that services are delivered in our communities to ensure access to high quality services that will enable older people to live in their own homes with safety and dignity.

Smoking Ban

Mr Elliott asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety how many (i) fines; and (ii) warnings have been issued for smoking in a public place, in each Health and Social Services Board area, since the ban was introduced.

(AQW 1551/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: Enforcement of smoke-free legislation is the responsibility of district councils’ Environmental Health Departments. Council areas are not co-terminus with Health and Social Services Board boundaries and, as a consequence, the information requested has been set out in the table below by council groupings. The table covers the offence of smoking in a smoke-free place up to and including 30 June 2008, the latest date for which information is available.

Area

Fixed Penalty Notices Issued

Written Warnings Given

Belfast

14

43

Eastern

7

70

Northern

17

48

Southern

6

170

Western

3

63

Total

47

394

Skin Cancer

Mr Shannon asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety what steps he is taking to reduce the incidences of skin cancer.

(AQW 1559/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: My Department issued a melanoma strategy in 1998 with the overall aim of reducing morbidity and mortality from skin cancers, especially malignant melanoma in Northern Ireland. The Department has provided funding to assist with the implementation of this strategy, with resources being deployed on research and in raising public awareness as to the risks of sun exposure.

The strategy has since been reviewed and the Department is currently examining options, both in the short and long term, for developing a new strategy and action plan which will reflect strategic changes and recent research. A number of relevant interested bodies will be invited to participate in this work.

A significant risk factor affecting the incidence of skin cancer may be the use of artificial tanning devices such as sun beds. The Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE) provides advice to Government Departments and the Devolved Administrations in relation to the health effects of natural and man-made radiation. COMARE has been asked by the four UK Health Departments to provide advice on the evidence relating to the health effects of sunbed use and to make recommendations. The COMARE report is expected by the end of 2008 and is likely to inform future policy development.

In addition, the Sunbed Working Group of the Northern Ireland Melanoma Strategy Implementation Group (NIMSIG) is currently examining issues relating to sunbeds and their use.

Salary Bands

Mr Easton asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to provide a breakdown of all salary bands in the Western Health and Social Care Trust.

(AQW 1586/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: The remuneration paid to HSC staff depends on the job related skills, knowledge and responsibilities.

Non-medical staff (with the exception of the most senior managers) have their jobs assessed using the Agenda for Change Job Evaluation Scheme which determines the correct basic pay. Rates of pay relating to each pay band are set out in the table below

Point

Band 1

Band 2

Band 3

Band 4

Band 5

Band 6

Band 7

Band 8

Band 9

Range A

Range B

Range C

Range D

1

12,517

2

12,922 

12,922 

3

 13,269

 13,269

4

 13.617

 13,617

5

 14,023

6

 14,428

7

 14,834

14,834 

8

 15,356

 15,356

9

 15,950

 15,950

10

 16,307

11

 16,781

12

 17,316

 17,316

13

 17,732

 17,732

14

 18,385

15

 19,038

16

 19,631

17

 20,225

 20,225

18

 20,818

 20,818

19

 21,373

20

 22,085

21

 22,797

22

 23,450

23

 24,103

24,103

24

 25,054

 25,054

25

 26,123

 26,123

26

 27,191

27

 28,141

28

 29,091

 29,091

29

 30,041

 30,041

30

 31,109

 31,109

31

 32,653

 32,653

32

 33,603

33

 34,672

34

 35,859

35

 37,106

37,106

36

 38,352

 38,352

37

 39,896

38

 41,439

39

 43,221

 43,221

40

 44,527

 44,527

41

 46,782

42

 49,394

43

 52,007

 52,007

44

 53,432

 53,432

45

 55,806

46

 58,419

47

 62,337

 62,337

48

 64,118

 64,118

49

 66,790

50

 70,055

51

 73,617

 73,617

52

 77,179

 77,179

53

 80,883

54

 84,765

55

 88,835

56

 93,098

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salary Bands

Mr Easton asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to provide a breakdown of all salary bands in the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust.

(AQW 1587/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: The remuneration paid to HSC staff depends on the job related skills, knowledge and responsibilities.

Non-medical staff (with the exception of the most senior managers) have their jobs assessed using the Agenda for Change Job Evaluation Scheme which determines the correct basic pay. Rates of pay relating to each pay band are set out in the table below

Point

Band 1

Band 2

Band 3

Band 4

Band 5

Band 6

Band 7

Band 8

Band 9

Range A

Range B

Range C

Range D

1

12,517

2

12,922 

12,922 

3

 13,269

 13,269

4

 13.617

 13,617

5

 14,023

6

 14,428

7

 14,834

14,834 

8

 15,356

 15,356

9

 15,950

 15,950

10

 16,307

11

 16,781

12

 17,316

 17,316

13

 17,732

 17,732

14

 18,385

15

 19,038

16

 19,631

17

 20,225

 20,225

18

 20,818

 20,818

19

 21,373

20

 22,085

21

 22,797

22

 23,450

23

 24,103

24,103

24

 25,054

 25,054

25

 26,123

 26,123

26

 27,191

27

 28,141

28

 29,091

 29,091

29

 30,041

 30,041

30

 31,109

 31,109

31

 32,653

 32,653

32

 33,603

33

 34,672

34

 35,859

35

 37,106

37,106

36

 38,352

 38,352

37

 39,896

38

 41,439

39

 43,221

 43,221

40

 44,527

 44,527

41

 46,782

42

 49,394

43

 52,007

 52,007

44

 53,432

 53,432

45

 55,806

46

 58,419

47

 62,337

 62,337

48

 64,118

 64,118

49

 66,790

50

 70,055

51

 73,617

 73,617

52

 77,179

 77,179

53

 80,883

54

 84,765

55

 88,835

56

 93,098

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salary Bands

Mr Easton asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to provide a breakdown of all salary bands in the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.

(AQW 1588/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: The remuneration paid to HSC staff depends on the job related skills, knowledge and responsibilities.

Non-medical staff (with the exception of the most senior managers) have their jobs assessed using the Agenda for Change Job Evaluation Scheme which determines the correct basic pay. Rates of pay relating to each pay band are set out in the table below

Point

Band 1

Band 2

Band 3

Band 4

Band 5

Band 6

Band 7

Band 8

Band 9

Range A

Range B

Range C

Range D

1

12,517

2

12,922 

12,922 

3

 13,269

 13,269

4

 13.617

 13,617

5

 14,023

6

 14,428

7

 14,834

14,834 

8

 15,356

 15,356

9

 15,950

 15,950

10

 16,307

11

 16,781

12

 17,316

 17,316

13

 17,732

 17,732

14

 18,385

15

 19,038

16

 19,631

17

 20,225

 20,225

18

 20,818

 20,818

19

 21,373

20

 22,085

21

 22,797

22

 23,450

23

 24,103

24,103

24

 25,054

 25,054

25

 26,123

 26,123

26

 27,191

27

 28,141

28

 29,091

 29,091

29

 30,041

 30,041

30

 31,109

 31,109

31

 32,653

 32,653

32

 33,603

33

 34,672

34

 35,859

35

 37,106

37,106

36

 38,352

 38,352

37

 39,896

38

 41,439

39

 43,221

 43,221

40

 44,527

 44,527

41

 46,782

42

 49,394

43

 52,007

 52,007

44

 53,432

 53,432

45

 55,806

46

 58,419

47

 62,337

 62,337

48

 64,118

 64,118

49

 66,790

50

 70,055

51

 73,617

 73,617

52

 77,179

 77,179

53

 80,883

54

 84,765

55

 88,835

56

 93,098

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salary Bands

Mr Easton asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to provide a breakdown of all salary bands in the Northern Health and Social Care Trust.

(AQW 1589/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: The remuneration paid to HSC staff depends on the job related skills, knowledge and responsibilities.

Non-medical staff (with the exception of the most senior managers) have their jobs assessed using the Agenda for Change Job Evaluation Scheme which determines the correct basic pay. Rates of pay relating to each pay band are set out in the table below

Point

Band 1

Band 2

Band 3

Band 4

Band 5

Band 6

Band 7

Band 8

Band 9

Range A

Range B

Range C

Range D

1

12,517

2

12,922 

12,922 

3

 13,269

 13,269

4

 13.617

 13,617

5

 14,023

6

 14,428

7

 14,834

14,834 

8

 15,356

 15,356

9

 15,950

 15,950

10

 16,307

11

 16,781

12

 17,316

 17,316

13

 17,732

 17,732

14

 18,385

15

 19,038

16

 19,631

17

 20,225

 20,225

18

 20,818

 20,818

19

 21,373

20

 22,085

21

 22,797

22

 23,450

23

 24,103

24,103

24

 25,054

 25,054

25

 26,123

 26,123

26

 27,191

27

 28,141

28

 29,091

 29,091

29

 30,041

 30,041

30

 31,109

 31,109

31

 32,653

 32,653

32

 33,603

33

 34,672

34

 35,859

35

 37,106

37,106

36

 38,352

 38,352

37

 39,896

38

 41,439

39

 43,221

 43,221

40

 44,527

 44,527

41

 46,782

42

 49,394

43

 52,007

 52,007

44

 53,432

 53,432

45

 55,806

46

 58,419

47

 62,337

 62,337

48

 64,118

 64,118

49

 66,790

50

 70,055

51

 73,617

 73,617

52

 77,179

 77,179

53

 80,883

54

 84,765

55

 88,835

56

 93,098

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Home Help Assistance

Mr Hilditch asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety how many requests there have been for home help assistance in the (i) Carrickfergus; and (ii) Larne, areas, in each of the last 3 years.

(AQW 1590/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: The information is not available in the form requested.

Health Village in Banbridge

Mr Moutray asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety for an update on progress with the health village in Banbridge.

(AQW 1600/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: The current proposals are for a new Health and Care Centre along with a new Learning Disability Day Centre within the Banbridge Community Health Village.

The Southern HSC Trust is currently finalising the business case for this project and it is expected to be resubmitted to my Department within the next few weeks. Subject to the normal approval process the business case will need to be appraised by the Department of Finance and Personnel before a final decision can be made. I anticipate a decision on this new development will be made in the Autumn.

This project is still a high priority for the Southern Trust and was included in their list of priority projects submitted as part of the recent Review of Capital Priorities, which completed at the end of September.

Blood Transfusion Service

Mr Weir asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety for his assessment of the most recent report by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency on the Blood Transfusion Service.

(AQW 1638/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: I am fully aware of the findings of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) arising from its inspection of the Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service (NIBTS) in April 2008. While there was no evidence of any patient harm, there was a clear need for urgent action to address the issues identified.

I have ensured that NIBTS is implementing a comprehensive programme of actions and that this work is given the highest priority by the Agency. I have been advised that substantial progress has already been made. A full re-inspection of the NIBTS by MHRA will take place in November 2008 to confirm the Agency is meeting the requirements of the Blood Safety and Quality Regulations 2005.

I shall ensure that the NI population continues to have access to safe, high quality blood supplies.

Salary Bands

Mr Easton asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to provide a breakdown of all salary bands in the Southern Health and Social Care Trust.

(AQW 1649/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: The remuneration paid to HSC staff depends on the job related skills, knowledge and responsibilities.

Non-medical staff (with the exception of the most senior managers) have their jobs assessed using the Agenda for Change Job Evaluation Scheme which determines the correct basic pay. Rates of pay relating to each pay band are set out in the table below

Point

Band 1

Band 2

Band 3

Band 4

Band 5

Band 6

Band 7

Band 8

Band 9

Range A

Range B

Range C

Range D

1

12,517

2

12,922 

12,922 

3

 13,269

 13,269

4

 13.617

 13,617

5

 14,023

6

 14,428

7

 14,834

14,834 

8

 15,356

 15,356

9

 15,950

 15,950

10

 16,307

11

 16,781

12

 17,316

 17,316

13

 17,732

 17,732

14

 18,385

15

 19,038

16

 19,631

17

 20,225

 20,225

18

 20,818

 20,818

19

 21,373

20

 22,085

21

 22,797

22

 23,450

23

 24,103

24,103

24

 25,054

 25,054

25

 26,123

 26,123

26

 27,191

27

 28,141

28

 29,091

 29,091

29

 30,041

 30,041

30

 31,109

 31,109

31

 32,653

 32,653

32

 33,603

33

 34,672

34

 35,859

35

 37,106

37,106

36

 38,352

 38,352

37

 39,896

38

 41,439

39

 43,221

 43,221

40

 44,527

 44,527

41

 46,782

42

 49,394

43

 52,007

 52,007

44

 53,432

 53,432

45

 55,806

46

 58,419

47

 62,337

 62,337

48

 64,118

 64,118

49

 66,790

50

 70,055

51

 73,617

 73,617

52

 77,179

 77,179

53

 80,883

54

 84,765

55

 88,835

56

 93,098

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breast Screening

Mr Easton asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety when will free breast screening be put in place for people 65 years old and over.

(AQW 1650/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: Currently, women between the age of 50 and 64 are routinely invited for breast screening. My Department plans to extend the age range to include women up to the age of 70 from March 2009. There are no plans to screen women who are over 70 years old.

New Omagh Hospital

Mr Easton asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to detail the cost of the new Omagh Hospital.

(AQW 1651/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: The new Omagh Enhanced Local Hospital Complex will cost £190million and will include the Core Hospital, a Health & Care Centre, Mental Health Facility along with Community and Support Services.

The new Omagh Enhanced Local Hospital Complex is planned to be completed in 2013.

Limavady Fire Station

Mr G Robinson asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety if Limavady Fire Station will benefit from the additional funding for the Fire and Rescue Service announced on 16 October 2008.

(AQW 1687/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: Yes. I refer the honourable member to the answer I gave to David McClarty during Oral Questions on 25th February 2008 when I indicated that Limavady is on the list of Stations for upgrade. The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service is currently looking for a suitable site in the town for a new station.

Learning Disabilities

Dr Farry asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to report on new investments being made for supported living for persons with learning disabilities, in the Budget.

(AQW 1690/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: My Department will be investing a total of £33m in learning disability services over the next three years resulting in an additional £17m recurrent investment. Some of this investment will be used to provide the appropriate community infrastructure and support mechanisms to facilitate supported living.

The Department for Social Development’s Supporting People Fund provides Housing Support Services for people with a learning disability. Seven schemes are scheduled to commence in the current financial year with a further 14 schemes scheduled during the following 2 years.

A number of additional schemes have been identified which will be required to meet health and social care requirements relating to the implementation of Bamford Review recommendations in the next 5 years. These schemes are at various stages of planning but have not yet been progressed to the Supporting People Capital Programme.

Learning Disabilities

Dr Farry asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to report on the current and planned provision for supported living for persons with learning disabilities in the North Down and Ards area.

(AQW 1692/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: The provision of services for supported living schemes in the North Down and Ards area is the responsibility of the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust.

The Trust has advised that within the North Down and Ards sector, it currently supports 91 persons with learning disabilities to live within supported living schemes. The Trust also supports a further 59 people at home (either on their own or with family) with the provision of domiciliary care packages.

The Trust has bid for 3-4 new places through additions to existing schemes within the current financial year.

Learning Disabilities

Dr Farry asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to report on the voluntary groups that the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust works with in providing supported living for persons with learning disabilities, in the North Down and Ards area.

(AQW 1694/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: The South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust works in partnership with the Housing Executive Supporting People Department and a range of Housing Associations and Voluntary Organisations in planning and providing supported living opportunities for people with learning disabilities.

The Voluntary Organisations providing direct care services to supported living schemes in the North Down and Ards area are: Mencap, Positive Futures, Autism Initiatives, Northern Ireland Institute for the Disabled (N.I.I.D), Praxis/Challenge, Prospects, Croft Community and Essential Care

The Trust also contracts with Independent Sector Organisations to provide supported living facilities in the North Down and Ards Sector.

Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service

Mr G Robinson asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety if he will ring fence £1m of the £164m investment for the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, to ensure that the second appliance remains in Portstewart, for at least the next 10 years of the investment period.

(AQW 1715/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: Determining priorities for the capital budget is a matter for the Chief Fire Officer and the Board of the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.

The proposal to withdraw the second pumping appliance from Portstewart Fire Station was issued for public consultation on 1st October and is available on the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service website. No final decisions will be taken until the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service has had an opportunity to consider the responses to the consultation.

Minor Ailments Scheme

Mr Hamilton asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety what action he is taking to encourage pharmacists to re-enter the Minor Ailments Scheme.

(AQW 1716/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: The expanded Minor Ailments Scheme remains available to community pharmacists and I hope more will take it up, since it provides a valuable service to patients. A remuneration offer has been made which I believe is fair and reasonable.

I have been proactive in encouraging pharmacists to join the scheme as have my officials. At the end of June 2008, before the introduction of the enhanced Scheme on 1 August 2008, I invited the Pharmaceutical Contractors Committee (PCC) to meet with me to discuss their concerns. PCC are the representative body for community pharmacy and act on their behalf in negotiations with the Department.

This offer to meet was declined. I wrote again to PCC in mid-August 2008 extending the same invitation to meet. On this occasion PCC accepted the offer and a meeting took place on 15 September 2008 at which there was a useful exchange on the Minor Ailments Scheme.

I agreed to consider the points raised by PCC and I am happy to say that another meeting has been scheduled to take place shortly to discuss the way forward.

Cataract Operations

Mr Weir asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety how many cataract operations have been carried out by the Health Service in the Independent Sector, in each of the last 5 years.

(AQW 1718/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: The number of cataract operations carried out by the Health Service in the Independent Sector, during each of the last five years, is not collected centrally by the Department. Provision of such data by Health and Social Care Trusts would incur a disproportionate cost.

Cataract Operations

Mr Weir asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety how many cataract operations have been carried out by the Health Service in each of the last 5 years.

(AQW 1719/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: The number of cataract operations carried out in Health and Social Care Hospitals in Northern Ireland in each of the past five years is detailed below:

Year

2002/2003

2003/2004

2004/2005

2005/2006

2006/2007

Cataract Operations

7,676

8,513

8,391

9,441

8,718

Source: Hospital Inpatient System

These figures do not relate to individuals, as a person may have more than one cataract procedure carried out in a year.

Cataract Operations

Mr Weir asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to detail how many people are diagnosed with cataracts each year.

(AQW 1720/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: The number of admissions to Health and Social Care Hospitals in Northern Ireland with a diagnosis of cataracts in each of the past five years is detailed below:

Year

2002/2003

2003/2004

2004/2005

2005/2006

2006/2007

Admissions

7,873

8,776

8,652

9,744

9,008

Source: Hospital Inpatient System

Deaths and discharges are used to approximate admissions. These figures do not equate to individuals as a person may be admitted to hospital more than one in a year or across a number of years.

Cataract Operations

Mr Weir asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to provide the number of people who are currently waiting for cataract operations.

(AQW 1721/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety:

The inpatient waiting time position, for cataract surgery, at 30th June 2008, the most recent quarter for which official data are available, is outlined in the table below.

 

Time Waiting in Weeks

0 - 6

> 6 - 13

> 13 - 21

> 21

No. of people waiting for admission to hospital in NI for cataract surgery

1075

1194

416

0

Source: DHSSPS Inpatient Waiting Times Dataset.

The average waiting time for cataract surgery, at 30th June 2008, was 57 days.

Cataract Operations

Mr Weir asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to detail the average waiting time for cataract operations.

(AQW 1722/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety:

The inpatient waiting time position, for cataract surgery, at 30th June 2008, the most recent quarter for which official data are available, is outlined in the table below.

 

Time Waiting in Weeks

0 - 6

> 6 - 13

> 13 - 21

> 21

No. of people waiting for admission to hospital in NI for cataract surgery

1075

1194

416

0

Source: DHSSPS Inpatient Waiting Times Dataset.

The average waiting time for cataract surgery, at 30th June 2008, was 57 days.

Musgrave Park Hospital

Dr McDonnell asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety if a decision has been made regarding the closure of 20 orthopaedic beds in Musgrave Park Hospital; and to detail what impact the closure will have on nursing staff.

(AQW 1724/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: Following a review in relation to admissions and day procedure cases within Orthopaedics, the Belfast Trust has taken the decision to close a 20 bed orthopaedic unit at Musgrave Park Hospital. This will take place on a phased basis. The decision will not affect the level of service provision to patients.

Discussions have been held with the staff members likely to be affected in order to discuss their needs and options. There will be no redundancies.

Anaesthetists

Dr McDonnell asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to detail (i) the number of anaesthetists currently working in the Health Service, in each hospital; (ii) the total number of anaesthetists there should be; (iii) the total shortfall; and (iv) how many operations have been rescheduled and delayed because of this shortfall.

(AQW 1725/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: Number of Anaesthetists employed and Anaesthetist Vacancies in the Northern Ireland Health and Social Care by Hospital as at 30th September 2008

Hospital

Anaesthetists Employed

Vacancies for Anaesthetists

Headcount

WTE

Headcount

WTE

Altnagelvin Hospital

27

27.00

5

4.30

Antrim / Whiteabbey Hospital

22

22.00

7

7.00

Royal Victoria Hospital

119

113.43

1

1.00

Belfast City / Musgrave Park Hospitals

51

47.79

2

1.20

Causeway Hospital

11

11.00

2

2.00

Craigavon Area Hospital

20

19.50

0

0.00

Daisy Hill Hospital

11

11.00

3

3.00

Downe Hospital

2

2.00

2

2.00

Erne Hospital

8

8.00

1

1.00

Lagan Valley Hospital

7

7.00

0

0.00

Mater Infirmorum Hospital

13

12.55

1

0.50

Mid Ulster Hospital

4

4.00

0

0.00

Tyrone County Hospital

5

4.80

1

1.00

Ulster Hospital

52

51.80

0

0.00

Total

352

341.87

25

23.00

Source: HSC Trusts

  1. WTE = Whole-Time Equivalent.
  2. Staff and vacancy information includes Anaesthetists working at all medical grades (including Consultant, Staff Grade, Associate Specialist, Specialty Registrar and Foundation House Officer).

The table above sets out the number of anaesthetists as requested, showing 352 in post, a shortfall of 25 on the total funded. Although no data is collected regarding delayed or rescheduled operations, data on operating list cancellations shows no correlation with these vacancies.

Medical Registration

Dr McDonnell asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to detail the guidelines produced by his Department (i) on which nationalities can and cannot be medically registered; and (ii) the registration documentation required for each nationality.

(AQW 1726/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: Registration with a General Practitioner in Northern Ireland is not based on a person’s nationality. The entire entitlement to health service treatment process, of which registration with a GP Practice is a part, is based on whether a person is ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland, and is contained in guidance Circular HSS (PCD) 10/2000 issued by the Department in 2000.

Any person intending to live in Northern Ireland for a period of not less than six months is considered to be "ordinarily resident". Documentation which they will need to register with a GP practice can consist of a valid National Identity Card, passport or European Health Insurance Card for nationals of other EU countries, along with valid visas or work permits for those people coming to Northern Ireland from outside of the European Economic Area.

Alcohol Consumption

Mr Elliott asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety for his assessment of the relationship between the pricing of alcohol for sale and problems associated with alcohol consumption.

(AQW 1740/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: Research has shown a clear relationship between price and levels of alcohol consumption, and also between price and levels of alcohol related harm. I am therefore particularly concerned that research has shown that, in real terms, alcohol is 62% more affordable today than it was in 1980.

However, there are other factors which impact on alcohol consumption and related harm, such as its availability, marketing and promotion. These are issues which are not the responsibility of any one Government Department, and therefore I will continue to address these issues with my colleagues in the Executive. I will also consider how we can address the issue of price locally, and raise the issue with my colleagues in the other parts of the UK.

Domestic Violence

Lord Morrow asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to detail the number of hospital or GP treatments that were the result of domestic violence or abuse, broken down by (i) male; and (ii) female.

(AQW 1754/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: The information requested is not available.

Social Services At Risk Register

Lord Morrow asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to detail the number of children currently on the Social Services 'At Risk' Register, broken down by District Council area.

(AQW 1756/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: The information is not available in the form requested.

Hoax Ambulance Calls

Mr Storey asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to detail the average number of hoax ambulance calls received per week in each constituency, in each of the last 3 years.

(AQW 1757/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: The information requested is shown in the table below.

Constituency

2005/06

2006/07

2007/08

Belfast East

3.7

3.3

3.4

Belfast North

6.4

6.3

6.7

Belfast South

7.3

6.1

7.1

Belfast West

8.6

6.5

5.5

East Antrim

2.8

2.0

2.1

East Londonderry

3.4

2.8

2.9

Fermanagh and South Tyrone

3.0

3.5

2.2

Foyle

6.6

6.1

5.7

Lagan Valley

3.1

3.0

2.7

Mid Ulster

2.7

3.9

2.4

Newry and Armagh

4.3

4.6

4.5

North Antrim

4.4

2.9

3.1

North Down

4.9

3.0

2.3

South Antrim

3.2

2.6

2.6

South Down

4.0

3.5

3.9

Strangford

3.2

3.4

2.8

Upper Bann

4.0

4.0

4.1

West Tyrone

3.6

3.5

3.3

Undetermined origin

90.9

87.9

90.0

NOTE: Figures include hoax calls, instances where there was no case or nothing found at the scene and where the caller hung up without giving details.

New Medicines

Mr Easton asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to detail the average time it takes the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence to introduce new medicines to Northern Ireland.

(AQW 1766/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is not responsible for the introduction of new medicines into Northern Ireland. NICE make recommendations on the most clinical and cost effective treatments for use in the National Health Service in England and Wales.

My Department has established a link with NICE whereby all guidance published by the Institute from 1 July 2006 is reviewed locally for its applicability to Northern Ireland and, where appropriate, is endorsed by the Department for implementation here.

My Department currently aims to issue advice to local Health and Social Care (HSC) organisations on the applicability of individual NICE guidelines here within three months of NICE issuing their final guidance. On receipt of this advice, HSC organisations have usually three months to put plans in place to facilitate implementation of the guidance. This process is currently under review.

Community Pharmacy Contracts

Mr Easton asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety why it has taken 5 years to agree new Community Pharmacy Contracts.

(AQW 1767/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: The Department’s community pharmacy contract negotiating team has been negotiating a new contract with the Pharmaceutical Contractors Committee (PCC), the representative body for community pharmacy, since April 2004. To date a total of 11 formal contract meetings have been held.

So far the main developments have been a jointly agreed framework for the new contract, preparation by the departmental team of detailed service specifications and standards for the services to be provided, a survey commissioned jointly by the Department and PCC into the costs of running pharmacies in Northern Ireland and some discussion on introducing certain services as the first part of a phased approach to implementing the new contract.

The Department has made a number of offers to PCC in relation to the provision of a Minor Ailments Service and Repeat Dispensing, two key initiatives of the new contract. Unfortunately PCC have to date rejected all offers and for some time negotiations have stalled.

While I am clearly disappointed with the rate of progress on the new pharmacy contract, particularly in recent months, I am convinced that real progress is possible and I believe that the time is now right to look to the future.

I see a key role for community pharmacy in providing a range of services for local people and I will be looking to the profession to engage meaningfully with my officials to ensure that patients in Northern Ireland benefit from the services the rest of the UK enjoy. My door is always open to the representatives of community pharmacy and indeed I am meeting PCC again in the near future. I firmly believe that the new contract is the way ahead for community pharmacy and I believe that, with willingness on both sides, real progress can be made in the coming months.

New Downpatrick Hospital

Mr Easton asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to detail the cost of the new Downpatrick Hospital.

(AQW 1768/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: The cost of the new Enhanced Local Downe Hospital, which will open in Summer 2009, is £64 million.

People Suffering from Obesity

Mr Easton asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety how many people suffer from obesity.

(AQW 1777/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety:

Obesity levels in Northern Ireland are monitored through the Health and Social Wellbeing Survey and estimated using the Body Mass Index (BMI), which is a widely used indicator of body fat levels calculated from a person’s height and weight. The most recent survey completed was in 2005/06, and the results showed that 24% of adults (aged 16 and over) were obese.

In 2005/06, height and weight measurements were also sought from those aged 2 years or above in households participating in the survey. The calculation of BMI in children also depends on the age and sex of the child and there is some debate over the most appropriate way to use BMI to record childhood obesity rates in the UK. Using the UK National BMI percentiles approach, 18% of children aged 2-15 years were obese. However, there are some concerns that this method could overestimate obesity. An alternative approach which is gaining acceptance was put forward by the International Obesity Task Force. Using this approach, almost one in ten (8%) children were obese although there are some concerns that this method could underestimate obesity.

Retained Firefighters

Mr G Robinson asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety why there was only one recruitment drive in five years for retained fire fighters in Portstewart.

(AQW 1801/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: Recruitment campaigns are planned regularly for retained (part time) personnel for all Station areas throughout Northern Ireland only where and when vacancies exist.

In addition to a recruitment campaign in August 2005 for retained firefighters for Portstewart, there had been a campaign that completed in June 2002, one that completed in October 2003 and there is a current retained firefighter campaign (October 2008) for Portstewart that has not yet been completed.

Removal of Fire Appliance

Mr G Robinson asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety which Census Output Areas were used in the preparation of the consultation document regarding the removal of Portstewart's second fire appliance.

(AQW 1802/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: The Census Output Areas used to prepare the Portstewart consultation document were supplied by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. Analysis of risk within Portstewart was carried out with reference to those Output Areas whose geographical centre points fall within the Portstewart Fire Station Area boundary.

Removal of Fire Appliance

Mr G Robinson asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to detail the full data information factors used in the GIS modelling system in the preparation of the consultation document regarding the removal of Portstewart's second fire appliance.

(AQW 1803/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: Data used within the Geographical Information System (GIS) in relation to the Portstewart Consultation Document includes map data supplied by Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland (OSNI), demographic data supplied by Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) and historical incident data held internally by the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.

Health Service Dentists

Mr Ross asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to list all the Health Service dentists in (i) Larne; (ii) Carrickfergus; and (iii) Newtownabbey.

(AQW 1809/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: (i) Dentists1 registered to provide Health Service dental treatment in the Larne District Council Area2.

Initials

Surname

Address

Postcode

District Council

J

BLAIR3

1 MARINE ROAD, CARNLOUGH

BT44 0HE

LARNE

9/11 GLENARM ROAD, LARNE

BT40 1BN

LARNE

J

CHRISTIE

14 VICTORIA ROAD, LARNE

BT40 1RN

LARNE

P J

DONNELLY3

1 MARINE ROAD, CARNLOUGH

BT44 0HE

LARNE

9/11 GLENARM ROAD, LARNE

BT40 1BN

LARNE

F

LYNCH

137 OLD GLENARM ROAD, LARNE

BT40 1NH

LARNE

W M R

MCFAUL

11 VICTORIA ROAD, LARNE

BT40 1RT

LARNE

A

MCGAHAN

14 VICTORIA ROAD, LARNE

BT40 1RN

LARNE

R

MCGAREL

11 VICTORIA ROAD, LARNE

BT40 1RT

LARNE

I

MORRISON

11 THORNDALE AVENUE, LARNE

BT40 1QX

LARNE

T

O'BOYLE

14 VICTORIA ROAD, LARNE

BT40 1RN

LARNE

Source: Central Services Agency

(ii) Dentists1 registered to provide Health Service dental treatment in the Carrickfergus District Council Area2.

Initials

Surname

Address

Postcode

District Council

L

ABBOTT

50 STATION ROAD, GREENISLAND

BT38 8TP

CARRICKFERGUS

D

ATHIMOOLAM

2 MARKET PLACE, CARRICKFERGUS

BT38 7AW

CARRICKFERGUS

J

BLAIR3

19 ST BRIDES STREET, CARRICKFERGUS

BT38 8AF

CARRICKFERGUS

T

BUCHANAN

19 ST BRIDES STREET, CARRICKFERGUS

BT38 8AF

CARRICKFERGUS

B

CAMPOMANES DE ALLENDE

2 MARKET PLACE, CARRICKFERGUS

BT38 7AW

CARRICKFERGUS

M

CLEMENTS

22 WEST STREET, CARRICKFERGUS

BT38 7AR

CARRICKFERGUS

H A

GARDNER

14 MARINE PARADE, WHITEHEAD

BT38 9QP

CARRICKFERGUS

W R

HANNA

51 VICTORIA ROAD, CARRICKFERGUS

BT38 7JJ

CARRICKFERGUS

W N

HARPER

22 NORTH STREET, CARRICKFERGUS

BT38 7AQ

CARRICKFERGUS

A

LAW

22 WEST STREET, CARRICKFERGUS

BT38 7AR

CARRICKFERGUS

A H

MCCLURE

14 MARINE PARADE, WHITEHEAD

BT38 9QP

CARRICKFERGUS

C E

MCVEIGH

14 BALMORAL AVENUE, WHITEHEAD

BT38 9QD

CARRICKFERGUS

J C

MCVEIGH

50 STATION ROAD, GREENISLAND

BT38 8TP

CARRICKFERGUS

N

O'KANE

22 WEST STREET, CARRICKFERGUS

BT38 7AR

CARRICKFERGUS

L

RUSSELL

50 STATION ROAD, GREENISLAND

BT38 8TP

CARRICKFERGUS

R M R

THOMPSON

51 VICTORIA ROAD, CARRICKFERGUS

BT38 7JJ

CARRICKFERGUS

Source: Central Services Agency

(iii) Dentists1 registered to provide Health Service dental treatment in the Newtownabbey District Council Area2.

Initials

Surname

Address

Postcode

District Council

B C

ALTON

105 MONKSTOWN ROAD, MONKSTOWN, NEWTOWNABBEY

BT37 0LG

NEWTOWNABBEY

L M

ARMSTRONG

20 PORTLAND AVENUE, GLENGORMLEY

BT36 5EY

NEWTOWNABBEY

A C

BERESFORD

22 DOAGH ROAD, BALLYCLARE

BT39 9BG

NEWTOWNABBEY

S

BEST

105 MONKSTOWN ROAD, MONKSTOWN, NEWTOWNABBEY

BT37 0LG

NEWTOWNABBEY

C

BLOOMER

138 DOAGH ROAD, NEWTOWNABBEY

BT37 9QR

NEWTOWNABBEY

P

BURNS

105 MONKSTOWN ROAD, MONKSTOWN, NEWTOWNABBEY

BT37 0LG

NEWTOWNABBEY

J

COSTELLOE

138 DOAGH ROAD, NEWTOWNABBEY

BT37 9QR

NEWTOWNABBEY

H

DOUGLAS

30 RASHEE ROAD, BALLYCLARE

BT39 9HJ

NEWTOWNABBEY

S C

DOYLE

5 HIGHTOWN ROAD, GLENGORMLEY

BT36 7TZ

NEWTOWNABBEY

B S

FERRIS

138 DOAGH ROAD, NEWTOWNABBEY

BT37 9QR

NEWTOWNABBEY

K

GORDON

105 MONKSTOWN ROAD, MONKSTOWN, NEWTOWNABBEY

BT37 0LG

NEWTOWNABBEY

E

GORDON

22 HIGHTOWN ROAD, GLENGORMLEY

BT36 7UA

NEWTOWNABBEY

M A

IRWIN

5 HIGHTOWN ROAD, GLENGORMLEY

BT36 7TZ

NEWTOWNABBEY

M B

KIRK

105 MONKSTOWN ROAD, MONKSTOWN, NEWTOWNABBEY

BT37 0LG

NEWTOWNABBEY

Z

KVIKLYTE

53/55 MAIN STREET, BALLYCLARE

BT39 9AA

NEWTOWNABBEY

A

LALOR

604 SHORE ROAD, WHITEABBEY

BT37 0SN

NEWTOWNABBEY

P

LOWE

30 RASHEE ROAD, BALLYCLARE

BT39 9HJ

NEWTOWNABBEY

T

MARTIN

604 SHORE ROAD, WHITEABBEY

BT37 0SN

NEWTOWNABBEY

F J

MCCANN

53/55 MAIN STREET, BALLYCLARE

BT39 9AA

NEWTOWNABBEY

J

MCCLINTON

106 BALLYCLARE ROAD, NEWTOWNABBEY

BT36 5HN

NEWTOWNABBEY

G J

MCCLOSKEY

604 SHORE ROAD, WHITEABBEY

BT37 0SN

NEWTOWNABBEY

M

MCKEEVER

106 BALLYCLARE ROAD, NEWTOWNABBEY

BT36 5HN

NEWTOWNABBEY

J S

MCKISSICK

30 RASHEE ROAD, BALLYCLARE

BT39 9HJ

NEWTOWNABBEY

T

MCKISSICK

30 RASHEE ROAD, BALLYCLARE

BT39 9HJ

NEWTOWNABBEY

F

MCLEAN

2 PORTLAND AVENUE, GLENGORMLEY

BT36 5EY

NEWTOWNABBEY

D

MCNALLY

604 SHORE ROAD, WHITEABBEY

BT37 0SN

NEWTOWNABBEY

D A R

MELLOR

292 SHORE ROAD, NEWTOWNABBEY

BT37 9RW

NEWTOWNABBEY

M C

MELLOR

292 SHORE ROAD, NEWTOWNABBEY

BT37 9RW

NEWTOWNABBEY

J

MOORE

292 SHORE ROAD, NEWTOWNABBEY

BT37 9RW

NEWTOWNABBEY

I

THOMPSON

138 DOAGH ROAD, NEWTOWNABBEY

BT37 9QR

NEWTOWNABBEY

M

TOSH

22 DOAGH ROAD, BALLYCLARE

BT39 9BG

NEWTOWNABBEY

P

TUMELTY

22 HIGHTOWN ROAD, GLENGORMLEY

BT36 7UA

NEWTOWNABBEY

B W

TURNER

2 PORTLAND AVENUE, GLENGORMLEY

BT36 5EY

NEWTOWNABBEY

Source: Central Services Agency

Notes:

1. Figures include Principal dentists only - excludes assistants and Vocational Dental Practitioners.

2. Statistics are at 22nd October 2008 and are based on the location of the dental surgery where the dentist is employed.

3. P J Donnelly and J Blair each work in two different surgeries within Larne District Council Area. J Blair also works in a third surgery in Carrickfergus District Council Area. Individual dentists may also work in surgeries located in District Council Areas other than the three listed above.

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

Mr McLaughlin asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to detail the efforts being made to provide services for people with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.

(AQW 1829/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: People suffering from myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue (ME/CFS) syndrome in Northern Ireland have access to treatment from appropriate sections of the health service depending on the severity of their illness. The variability of symptoms in patients means that individual patients may need to access different disciplines of the health service. These may include GP care, community care and support, neurology services and mental health services which can provide treatment like cognitive behaviour therapy, which is thought to help manage the illness.

A specialist ME/CFS clinic for the treatment of adults with mild to moderate symptoms is delivered at Belfast City Hospital by a multi-disciplinary team of health professionals.

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

Mr McLaughlin asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to detail the current research initiatives into Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.

(AQW 1830/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: The Department does not currently fund any research into Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME).  Research in diseases like ME needs to be undertaken in specialised Centres of Excellence and co-ordinated at the national level.

Central Services Agency

Mr Dallat asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety what investigations into George Brangam were conducted by the Central Services Agency during his time as its Director.

(AQW 1835/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: I have been advised that there were two investigations conducted by the Central Services Agency into George Brangam during his time as Director/ Chief Legal Advisor.

The first investigation was conducted in 1987 following a query raised by a barrister employed by the Agency, regarding the non-receipt of payment for legal services. The investigation confirmed that payment had in fact been received and the Agency did not pursue the matter further.

The second investigation was conducted in November 1994 following complaints about the management style of George Brangam and another officer. The investigation made a number of recommendations which were implemented or under further consideration when Mr Brangam left the Agency in March 1995.

Obesity Related Disorders

Mr Dallat asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to detail (i) the number of people undergoing surgery for obesity related disorders, in the last three years; and (ii) what future action he will take to address this.

(AQW 1840/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: Information on the number of people undergoing surgery for obesity related disorders is not collected centrally.

At present, there is no recurrent funding for bariatric (weight loss) surgery in Northern Ireland. Health and Social Services Boards do not routinely commission bariatric surgery although they may consider applications for funding where exceptional clinical circumstances are presented.

Work is currently being taken forward to consider the possibility of providing such a service in Northern Ireland, including appropriate pre and post operative care and ongoing dietary support. This is currently being considered by the Health and Social Services Boards through the Regional Medical Services Group in the context of the assessed need for this service and other competing health and social care priorities.

Central Services Agency

Mr Dallat asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to detail what payments were made by the Central Services Agency to relatives of George Brangam, during his time as its Director.

(AQW 1841/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: The Central Services Agency holds no details of payments made prior to March 1995, when George Brangam left the Agency.


Clostridium Difficile

Mr P Ramsey asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety how many people acquired clostridium difficile in each of the last 5 years, broken down by hospital; and how many people died as a result.

(AQW 1844/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: Figures for the number of patient episodes of Clostridium difficile are not available prior January 2005.

Figures for 2005 and 2006 are not available in the format requested.

Figures for 2007 are provided in the table below:

Clostridium difficile episodes and deaths, by hospital, 2007

 

No. of Episodes

No. of Deaths*

Belfast Trust

2007

2007 P

Royal Victoria Hospital

89

3

Belfast City Hospital

107

5

Green Park

11

 

Mater Infirmorum Hospital

45

 

Musgrave Park Hospital

   

Cancer Centre

13

 

Total

265

8

Northern Trust

Antrim Area Hospital

149

8

Causeway Hospital

38

3

Dalriada Hospital

2

Mid Ulster Hospital

27

Moyle Hospital

0

1

Robinson Memorial

1

Whiteabbey hospital

30

1

Total

247

13

South Eastern Trust

Ards Hospital

Bangor Hospital

Down Hospital

19

Lagan Valley Hospital

13

1

Ulster Hospital

187

2

Total

219

3

Southern Trust

2007

2007 P

Craigavon Area Hospital

79

2

Daisy Hill Hospital

8

1

Lurgan Hospital

24

Mullinure

4

South Tyrone Hospital

1

St Lukes

Total

116

3

Western Trust

2007

2007 P

Altngelvin Area Hospital

97

2

Erne Hospital (Sperrin Lakeland)

11

1

Tyrone County Hospital

27

Waterside Hospital (ward 5)

0

Total

135

3

Other

2007

2007 P

All other places

4

Sources: CDSC for numbers of episodes; NISRA for numbers of deaths

No. of Deaths* is deaths for which C.difficile is recorded as the underlying cause.

P Data for 2007 remain provisional until the publication of the 2007 Annual Report of the Registrar General due to be released November 2008

Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Mr P Ramsey asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to make a statement on the progress of the New Strategy Direction document on drug and alcohol abuse; and to detail (i) the input from other Departments; and (ii) the involvement of Assembly Members.

(AQW 1845/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: The implementation of the New Strategic Direction for Alcohol and Drugs (NSD) began in October 2006, and its overall aim is to reduce the level of Alcohol and Drug related harm in Northern Ireland.

Progress to date includes:

  • Approximately £6.5 million has been allocated to the implementation of the NSD in 08/09;
  • regional alcohol and drug public information campaigns are being taken forward (with a particular emphasise on binge drinking), and these are supported at the local level;
  • counselling and mentoring services for young people available across Northern Ireland;
  • local education and prevention initiatives addressing those deemed particularly vulnerable to alcohol and drug problem use – e.g. homeless;
  • work is also being taken forward regionally on developing action plans to tackle, Young People’s Drinking, and "Hidden Harm"; and
  • the four local Drug and Alcohol Co-ordination Teams (DACTs) are implementing their Local Action Plans, which have a particular focus on providing support for community based activities – these action plans have been revised during the course of this year.

  1. The NSD is a cross-Departmental Strategy, therefore a number of key Departments are represented on the NSD Steering Group. This includes the Northern Ireland Office, the Department for Social Development, the Department of the Environment, the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, and the Department of Employment and Learning. All these Departments continue to play key role to play in ensuring we meet the long-term outcomes contained in the NSD.
  2. During the consultation process for the NSD, the Strategy was issued to a range of key stakeholders, including Assembly members, for their comments and input. There is currently no representation from Assembly Members on the NSD Steering Group, and we are not aware of any representation on the local DACT groups.

Hoax Calls to Fire and Rescue Service

Mr Weir asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety how many hoax calls were received by the Fire and Rescue Service in the North Down constituency, in each of the last five years.

(AQW 1858/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: The information requested is given in the following table:

2003/2004

2004/2005

2005/2006

2006/2007

2007/2008

153

126

145

81

67

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service publishes a range of statistics, including mobilisation in response to hoax calls, on its website (www.nifrs.org).

Transplant Waiting Lists

Mr Easton asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety how many people are on the heart transplant list.

(AQW 1867/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: In October 2008 there was 1 Northern Ireland resident on the UK Transplant waiting list for hearts; there were 300 waiting for kidneys ; and 6 were waiting for livers.

Transplant Waiting Lists

Mr Easton asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety how many people are on the kidney transplant list.

(AQW 1868/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: In October 2008 there was 1 Northern Ireland resident on the UK Transplant waiting list for hearts; there were 300 waiting for kidneys ; and 6 were waiting for livers.

Transplant Waiting Lists

Mr Easton asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety how many people are on the liver transplant list.

(AQW 1869/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: In October 2008 there was 1 Northern Ireland resident on the UK Transplant waiting list for hearts; there were 300 waiting for kidneys ; and 6 were waiting for livers.

Persons Registered Blind

Mr W Clarke asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety how many persons are registered blind.

(AQW 1897/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: The information is not available in the form requested.

Home Help

Mr Hilditch asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to confirm how many homes are currently receiving home help assistance in the (i) Carrickfergus; and (ii) Larne, areas.

(AQW 1920/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: The information is not available in the form requested.

Paediatric Neuromuscular Specialise Clinics

Mrs Long asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety why there are no longer any paediatric neuromuscular specialise clinics in Northern Ireland.

(AQW 1923/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: The Belfast Health and Social Care Trust is responsible for a range of specialised paediatric neurology and neurodisability services, including a multidisciplinary neuromuscular clinic, provided at Belfast City Hospital.

Staffing pressures within the Trust have affected the availability of consultant paediatric neurologists and subsequently the ability to sustain the neuromuscular clinic. Regular clinics have not been held since beginning of September 2008.

Recruitment of an additional paediatric neurologist is underway and interviews are scheduled for 1st December 2008. It is anticipated that the successful applicant will take up post by 1st April 2009.

In the short term, the Trust is currently working to develop interim arrangements to ensure that children who would normally attend the neuromuscular clinic have their needs appropriately met.

Sexually Transmitted Infections

Mr Burns asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety how many children have been born with sexually transmitted infections passed on by their mother, in each of the last 5 years.

(AQW 1930/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: Information on the number of children born with sexually transmitted infections passed on by their mother, in each of the last 5 years is unavailable.

Lagan Valley Hospital

Mr Butler asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety for his assessment of how the review of maternity services will impact on maternity provision at Lagan Valley Hospital.

(AQW 1946/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: I have asked the Eastern Health and Social Services Board to undertake a review of existing maternity capacity in the greater Belfast area. The Board has been asked to work with the Belfast and South Eastern Trusts to identify how inpatient obstetric services should be developed and configured and to detail how consultant-led services will be appropriately supported by specialist paediatric services. The Eastern Board has also been asked to consider the potential for a midwife-led maternity service for the Lisburn area.

The Board will report its findings to my Department early in the New Year.

Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder

Mr Hamilton asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to outline his Department's strategy for dealing with attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder.

(AQW 1980/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: Services for attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder are provided by each individual Health and Social Care Board and Trust based on the needs of the populations they serve.

Powers of Attorney

Mr Weir asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety what plans he has to replace enduring powers of attorney with lasting powers of attorney; and what consideration he will give to the problems that occurred in England and Wales when lasting powers of attorney was implemented.

(AQW 2009/09)

The Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety: Following recommendations contained in the Bamford Review, my Department plans to issue in the near future a consultation document on a legislative framework for taking forward new mental capacity and mental health legislation in Northern Ireland. The framework will contain proposals in relation to powers of attorney.

Regional Development

Northern Ireland Water

Mr P J Bradley asked the Minister for Regional Development how many final notice demands were issued by Northern Ireland Water this year, despite original bills not having been issued to these customers.

(AQW 1515/09)

The Minister for Regional Development (Mr C Murphy): I have been advised by Northern Ireland Water that, since 1 April 2008, three final notices were issued in error to non-domestic customers who had not received an initial bill.

Strabane Bus Station

Mr Doherty asked the Minister for Regional Development what plans his Department has to (i) revise the opening hours of Strabane Bus Station to provide a service for passengers on Saturdays and Sundays; and (ii) install additional lighting in the vicinity of the station.

(AQW 1583/09)

The Minister for Regional Development: This is an operational matter for Translink. It has advised me that it has no plans to revise the opening hours for Strabane Bus Station or install additional lighting in the vicinity of the station.

Pedestrian Crossing

Mr Hamilton asked the Minister for Regional Development if a pedestrian crossing between the West Winds estate and the Jubilee Road will be constructed on the Newtownards Southern Distributor Road.

(AQW 1709/09)

The Minister for Regional Development: My Department’s Roads Service has advised that the work on the A20 Newtownards Southern Distributor Road will include the provision of a Toucan Crossing. This will be located adjacent to Blenheim Drive and Dakota Avenue, in the West Winds Estate, providing a safe crossing facility for residents. The work will also include a link to a footway which leads on to Jubilee Road.

Car Parks

Dr McDonnell asked the Minister for Regional Development to detail (i) the total value of the National Car Parks contract; (ii) the total revenue generated since the introduction of the Traffic Attendant system; (iii) the total number of parking meters that have been inoperable since the system's introduction; and (iv) the average repair time for parking meters.

(AQW 1728/09)

The Minister for Regional Development: My Department’s Roads Service has advised that:

  1. Since the parking enforcement contract commenced at the end of October 2006, £14.6m has been paid to NCP Services Ltd (NCP) for enforcement services provided, up to the end of August 2008.
  2. Roads Service has received £7.75m from payment of Penalty Charge Notices up to the end of September 2008.
  3. Since the commencement of the contract with NCP, a total of 354 Pay and Display machines have been inoperable at some stage.
  4. NCP is responsible for managing Pay and Display machine faults, including their repair. Performance in this area is measured monthly against a specific contractual key performance indicator (KPI). However, this KPI is not measured by average repair times; instead, it is measured against set response times to reported faults. The stipulated response times for on-street Pay and Display machines in Belfast is 3 hours and for all other Pay and Display machines, it is 24 hours. To meet the required standard, NCP must respond to 98% of reported faults within the above timescales. NCP has failed to meet this KPI on four occasions and in accordance with the contract, performance payments were reduced on each occasion.

Traffic Calming Measures

Mr A Maskey asked the Minister for Regional Development, following the identification of a speeding problem in a specific geographical area, to detail the process followed, including timeframes, for traffic calming measures to be introduced.

(AQW 1736/09)

The Minister for Regional Development: My Department’s Roads Service uses established criteria to determine and prioritise locations for the provision of traffic calming measures.

The assessment procedure takes into consideration various factors to prioritise the many requests received. These include personal injury statistics, the volume and speed of vehicles using the road, environmental factors, such as the presence of schools, playgrounds, hospitals, clinics, shops and public buildings, and whether or not the road in question is used as a through route.

As the demand for road safety measures exceeds Roads Service’s capacity to deliver such schemes, the predetermined criteria enables a priority list of traffic calming schemes to be established.

Establishing priority lists helps ensure that:

  • limited resources are directed to the areas of greatest need;
  • value for money is obtained;
  • no discrimination is made between Councils, council areas, towns, different areas within towns, etc;
  • equality issues are managed; and
  • the ultimate dependant factor for schemes is available funding.

When a scheme is proposed, all frontagers directly affected by the proposals are consulted by letter and/or leaflet with an accompanying map outlining the proposed scheme. For larger, complex, or more controversial schemes, it may be more appropriate to meet with local residents groups and/or hold public exhibitions in the affected area.

Statutory notices of intention to proceed with schemes are placed in the local press and at appropriate points on the road, as required by Article 65 of The Roads (NI) Order 1993. If objections are received to the outlined proposals for a traffic calming scheme on a particular road, Roads Service may not be able to proceed with the scheme’s implementation.

There are no specific timeframes for completing the procedure for the introduction of a traffic calming scheme.

Construction Companies

Mr K Robinson asked the Minister for Regional Development to detail the number of enforcement measures that have been implemented by the Roads Service against construction companies who have not completed roads to adoption standards, in the last 5 years.

(AQW 1746/09)

The Minister for Regional Development: My Department’s Roads Service has advised that they have implemented enforcement measures on some 125 occasions, during the last five years, where the construction company has not completed roads to adoption standards.

Sectarian Emblems

Lord Morrow asked the Minister for Regional Development to detail what action his Department has taken in the last 7 months, where sectarian emblems have remained on lamp standards at Friary Road, on the main thoroughfare from Armagh to Caledon.

(AQW 1755/09)

The Minister for Regional Development: My Department’s Roads Service’s policy in relation to flags and emblems on its equipment remains unchanged from my reply to you on 8 April 2008 (AQW 5193/08).

Roads Service is a signatory to the Multi Agency Protocol which indicates that the Police Service for Northern Ireland will take the lead where the display of flags or emblems is causing tension, or is having a detrimental affect on the quality of life in a community.

The PSNI would therefore be the appropriate lead agency to contact in the case of Friary Road.

Road Calming Scheme

Mr Easton asked the Minister for Regional Development to outline the road calming schemes to be introduced to the North Down constituency, over the next 3 years.

(AQW 1763/09)

The Minister for Regional Development: My Department’s Roads Service receives many requests for traffic calming schemes and, as demand greatly exceeds the capacity to supply these measures, all proposals are required to be assessed, scored and prioritised within each Council area. Works programmes are then drawn up on an annual basis and are published each year in the Autumn Roads Service Report to Councils. This programme may be subject to change, depending on the assessed priority of new requests for traffic calming.

In relation to 2008/09 financial year, I can advise that Roads Service proposes to provide the following traffic calming schemes in the North Down Parliamentary constituency:-

  • Seahill Road, Holywood;
  • Ballymaconnell Road South, Bangor;
  • Castle Park Road, Bangor;
  • Drumhirk Drive, Bangor;
  • Gray’s Hill area, Bangor;
  • Skipperstone Road/Whitehill area, Bangor;
  • Abbey Road, Millisle, and
  • Moss Road, Millisle.

These schemes are subject to the successful conclusion of the public consultation and legislative processes.

The locations and the current priority ranking for all the applications being assessed by Roads Service, within the North Down Parliamentary Constituency area, are provided in the table below:-

Assessments for Traffic Calming Measures in Roads Service

Current Priority Ranking

Location

Council Area

3

Groomsport Road, Bangor

North Down

4

Bryansburn Road, Bangor

North Down

5

Old Belfast Road, Bangor

North Down

6

Church View / Spencer Street, Holywood

North Down

7

Brunswick Road, Bangor

North Down

8

Croft Road, Holywood

North Down

9

Central Avenue, Bangor

North Down

18

Willowbrook Park / Road, Bangor

North Down

28

Church Road, Holywood

North Down

29

Sunningdale Park, Bangor

North Down

35

Abbey Ring, Holywood

North Down

48

Shandon Drive, Bangor

North Down

54

Ballyree Drive, Bangor

North Down

55

Loverock Way, Bangor

North Down

65

Innisfayle Drive, Bangor

North Down

66

Thornleigh Gardens, Bangor

North Down

68

Chippendale Avenue, Bangor

North Down

91

Ballyree, Bangor

North Down

97

Princess Gardens, Holywood

North Down

102

Godfrey Avenue, Bangor

North Down

120

Wandsworth Road, Bangor

North Down

133

Farnham Road, Bangor

North Down

145

Marquis Avenue, Bangor

North Down

149

Sandringham Drive, Bangor

North Down

150

Victoria Road, Bangor

North Down

154

Meadowvale, Bangor

North Down

156

Old Quay Road, Holywood

North Down

182

Towerview Crescent, Bangor

North Down

183

Dixon Road / Rossdale Road, Bangor

North Down

200

Churchill Park / Crescent, Bangor

North Down

204

Ruby Street, Bangor

North Down

213

Sherwood Parks, Bangor

North Down

225

Tower Road, Conlig

North Down

229

Coronation Avenue, Conlig

North Down

As further assessments are completed, priorities and plans may change. Therefore, the inclusion of schemes in future works programmes, at these locations, cannot be guaranteed.

Road Resurfacing Work

Mr Shannon asked the Minister for Regional Development for a timescale for resurfacing work to be completed on the road between Ballywalter and Ballyhalbert; and what date the road was last inspected by Roads Service.

(AQW 1773/09)

The Minister for Regional Development: My Department’s Roads Service is committed to carrying out further improvements on the road between Ballywalter and Ballyhalbert by completing resurfacing work, the first stage of which is already in place. Unfortunately, there is limited funding for resurfacing work and many schemes are competing for the resources available. Consequently, I am unable to provide you with a definite timescale for when resurfacing on this stretch of road will be completed.

I can confirm that this road is subject to a cyclic inspection regime which identifies defects for repair. The most recent inspection was carried out on 13 October 2008.

Street Works

Dr McDonnell asked the Minister for Regional Development to detail for each of the last five years (i) the total amount paid out in compensation to people who suffered personal injury as a result of street works; and (ii) the number and total amount of financial penalties against sub-contractors as a result of unsatisfactory street works.

(AQW 1794/09)

The Minister for Regional Development: My Department has not paid any compensation arising from personal injury sustained during street works. Public utilities and others who wish to undertake street works are responsible for dealing with any compensation claims that arise from their works.

Roads Service does not maintain details of financial penalties against utility sub-contractors, as a result of unsatisfactory street works.

New Park and Ride Facilities

Mr Ross asked the Minister for Regional Development if there are any plans for new park and ride facilities in the East Antrim constituency.

(AQW 1806/09)

The Minister for Regional Development: Planned or recent improvements to Park and Ride facilities at railway stations in the East Antrim constituency include:

  • an extension to the Park and Ride facility at Whitehead, to provide an additional 20 spaces from 29 September 2008, at a cost of £151,000;
  • ongoing works at Greenisland to provide an extra 72 spaces by March 2009, at a cost of £424,000;
  • work at Jordanstown, to provide 61 spaces, at a cost of £544,000, is scheduled to be completed by the summer of 2009; and
  • at Whiteabbey, work to provide 57 spaces, at a cost of £477,000, is scheduled to be completed during 2009.

There are also plans, at Feasibility Stage, to provide additional spaces at Carrickfergus Station. The indicative date for completing this work is 2012, assuming the Department approves the project and the necessary funding is available.

Also in Carrickfergus, my Department’s Roads Service proposes to provide an additional 236 park and ride spaces for rail users, by the conversion of its existing car park at St Brides. This will form part of the temporary traffic management measures during the road improvement scheme at the A2 Shore Road, Greenisland.

Roads Service is also aware of an increasing demand for a new facility in the Millbrook area of Larne, evidenced by increasing numbers of vehicles being parked in the vicinity of the Millbrook Roundabout. Drivers may be using public transport or sharing lifts from this point. Further investigation will be carried into the feasibility of providing a modest Park and Ride or Park and Share car park at this location. A project will only progress when the level of demand has been determined and the availability of suitable land at this location has been ascertained.

Northern Ireland Water

Mr Dallat asked the Minister for Regional Development to detail (i) the adjustments that Northern Ireland Water has had to make to its financial accounts; and (ii) the implications of these adjustments.

(AQW 1836/09)

The Minister for Regional Development: I have been advised by Northern Ireland Water that its financial accounts for the year ended 31 March 2008 have been signed, audited and published therefore any potential impact of over/undercharging of customers will be reflected in the financial accounts for the year ending 31 March 2009.

When the accounts are being prepared, consideration will be given to the value of bills which may have been over/undercharged to reflect their recoverability and any subsequent adjustments.

Northern Ireland Water

Mr Dallat asked the Minister for Regional Development to detail the number of bills sent out by Northern Ireland Water that contained errors, over the last two years.

(AQW 1839/09)

The Minister for Regional Development: I have been advised by Northern Ireland Water that they have identified 2,331 inaccurate bills that were issued in the past two years. This represents 0.7% of the total number of bills sent. All the errors were rectified promptly.

Owing to a specific billing issue relating to incorrect standing charge tariffs, incorrect bills were issued to some 8,200 customers. Northern Ireland Water appeared before the Regional Development Committee to explain how the error occurred and is presently in consultation with the Consumer Council and the Northern Ireland Authority for Utility Regulation to ensure the matter is resolved fairly and equitably.

Cross-Border Rail Link

Mr P Ramsey asked the Minister for Regional Development what discussions he and his Department have had with their counterparts in the Republic of Ireland in relation to a cross-border rail link between (i) Derry/Londonderry and Donegal; and (ii) the North West and Dublin.

(AQW 1846/09)

The Minister for Regional Development: My contacts to date with my counterpart in the South of Ireland regarding cross border rail links have been through the North South Ministerial Council (NSMC). At the last NSMC meeting in May 2008, I invited the Council to note:

  • the commitment of my Department to improve the railway line from Belfast to Derry
  • that my Department has agreed to undertake a study to consider the long-term social, physical and economic redevelopment of the railway throughout the North/West
  • that once the study is complete its findings will be brought to a meeting of NSMC in Transport Sectoral format and at that stage consideration may be given to a study into improved public transport links with Donegal.

At the same meeting, the NSMC received a joint presentation from NIR and Ianrod Eireann setting out an initial consideration of short and medium term options for improving frequency on the Belfast to Dublin service.

The two rail companies were asked by Ministers to expand upon the work undertaken to date and to prepare a business case. The joint proposal is due to be discussed at the next NSMC meeting scheduled for November 2008.

Proposed Bridges Scheme

Mr McCallister asked the Minister for Regional Development what (i) the current position is of Monaghan County Council's proposed Annaghroe and Knockaginny Blackwater bridges schemes; (ii) cost benefit analyses have now been undertaken; (iii) plans he has for access roads from Northern Ireland; (iv) environmental impact assessments he has carried out; and (v) consultations he has had about this with the Police Service of Northern Ireland and Garda Siochana.

(AQW 1852/09)

The Minister for Regional Development: My Department’s Roads Service has advised that the initial design work on the reinstatement of the Annaghroe and Knockaginny bridges has been completed. Planning applications are currently being considered by Monaghan County Council and the Department of the Environment’s Planning Service.

As indicated in the response to the Member’s previous Assembly Question AQW 5670/08, all the bridge reinstatement costs will be paid by the Irish Government. Therefore, a cost benefit analysis is not required to be undertaken by my Department.

The widths of the running surface on the Annaghroe Road and Knockaginny Road are approximately 5m and 3.5m respectively. These widths will be increased over short distances on the approaches to the bridges to 6m over Annaghroe Bridge and 5.5m over Knockaginny Bridge. Following requests from local landowners it is also proposed to provide passing bays on the Knockaginny Road.

Consultations between the bridge designers and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) are on going and an Environmental Assessment regarding the proposals has been submitted. As part of the planning process, Planning Service will also undertake consultations with the NIEA.

Roads Service has had no consultations with the PSNI or Garda Siochana on the reinstatement of the bridges.

Traffic Flows

Mr Weir asked the Minister for Regional Development to detail the average daily traffic flows for the A2 Bangor to Belfast road.

(AQW 1860/09)

The Minister for Regional Development: My Department’s Roads Service has advised that there are four automatic traffic counting sites located on the A2 between Bangor and Belfast. The table below details the Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT) for these four locations.

Census Point Number

Location

AADT

Year of Census

Comments

209

Sydenham By-Pass at City Airport

61931

2007

 

501

Holywood By-Pass

47793

2007

 

502

Cultra

41375

2007

 

505

Springhill

26526

2007

5 months data only

Automated Announcements on NIR Trains

Mr G Robinson asked the Minister for Regional Development if he has plans to remove the gender specific automated announcements on NIR trains, on which the conductor is referred to as 'he'.

(AQW 1861/09)

The Minister for Regional Development: Tanslink are bound by relevant equality legislation and have informed me that this issue has not previously been raised with them. Translink also indicated that there is a limited amount of time in which to make such announcements and that they currently follow normal terminology when relaying such passenger information. However, they will look at the practicalities of this suggestion the next time they are due to record new announcements.

Traffic Volume

Mr Hamilton asked the Minister for Regional Development to provide the latest available daily traffic volume figures for the Jubilee Road in Newtownards.

(AQW 1862/09)

The Minister for Regional Development: My Department’s Roads Service has advised that it collects data from approx 300 automatic traffic counting sites located throughout the North’s road network. I can advise the member that none of the automatic traffic counting sites are currently situated on the Jubilee Road, Newtownards. Therefore, it is not possible to provide the current average daily traffic flows for this road.

Executive Meetings

Mr Easton asked the Minister for Regional Development what departmental business is being held up by the failure of the Executive to meet.

(AQW 1865/09)

The Minister for Regional Development: It is not my practice to disclose details of Executive business. The content of Executive papers, including draft papers, is confidential.

Northern Ireland Water

Mr Shannon asked the Minister for Regional Development if site meetings will still be available for elected representatives should the Northern Ireland Water office at Conlig close.

(AQW 1877/09)

The Minister for Regional Development: I have been advised by Northern Ireland Water (NIW) that after the closure of the office in Conlig, site meetings will now be available at NIW’s Head Office at Northland House in Belfast or other offices across the North. Officials will also be available to meet at other locations if required.

Commuter Parking

Mr Durkan asked the Minister for Regional Development for his assessment of the impact on residents in areas outside Belfast caused by all-day commuter parkers.

(AQW 1880/09)

The Minister for Regional Development: I am aware that the problems created by all-day commuter parking are not restricted to those particular areas of Belfast, named in my announcement of 21 October. My Department’s Roads Service is also considering requests for Residents Parking Schemes from a number of other locations across the North, which includes areas of Derry.

Commuter Parking

Mr Durkan asked the Minister for Regional Development what consideration was given to including areas of Derry/Londonderry that are affected by all-day commuter parking in the free Residents Car Parking Scheme announced on 21 October 2008.

(AQW 1881/09)

The Minister for Regional Development: I am aware that the problems created by all-day commuter parking are not restricted to those particular areas of Belfast, named in my announcement of 21 October. My Department’s Roads Service is also considering requests for Residents Parking Schemes from a number of other locations across the North, which includes areas of Derry.

Commuter Parking

Mr Durkan asked the Minister for Regional Development (i) to outline the process of evaluation which determined the five areas most heavily affected by commuter parking; (ii) to detail the criteria applied in that evaluation; and (iii) what areas were measured in the exercise.

(AQW 1882/09)

The Minister for Regional Development: The Belfast Metropolitan Transport Plan published in 2004 addressed the issue of car parking and demand management within the Greater Belfast area and includes details of a number of measures to be introduced in the City Centre Core Zone and City Centre Fringe Zone. Residents’ Parking Schemes, to limit the availability of all-day commuter parking places, is identified as one such measure to be introduced in these zones.

The initial effort has been concentrated in those areas within the Belfast City Centre Core Zone where the problems experienced by residents are considered to be the most acute. The five schemes being progressed are Barrack Street, Brown’s Square, Donegall Pass, Sandy Row and The Markets (west of Cromac Street). These were selected in the mid/late 1990s on the basis of representations from public representatives and community groups indicating significant local support, which is considered essential for the successful introduction of such schemes.

Residents Parking Schemes

Mr Durkan asked the Minister for Regional Development (i) when the monitoring and assessment period for the free Residents Car Parking Scheme announced on 21 October 2008 will be completed; and (ii) when the findings of that exercise will be made known.

(AQW 1883/09)

The Minister for Regional Development: Whilst I have amended the policy to make the residents permits free, it should be noted that before a scheme can be implemented, a Traffic Regulation Order has to be made which is advertised to allow for representations. This process can take up to 12 months.

Roads Service will assess the effectiveness of these Residents Parking Schemes when the new parking arrangements have had a chance to bed in. This will give sufficient time for residents groups and local businesses within the areas to form an opinion on the operation of the schemes. The assessment will also