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					       Sustaining Progress
    Social Partnership Agreement 2003-2005




       Sixth Progress Report




October 2004
(1) OVERVIEW OF SUSTAINING PROGRESS 2003 - 2005 ................................... 4
  Background ......................................................................................................................................4
  Introduction......................................................................................................................................4
  Engagement with the Social Partners...............................................................................................4
  Special Initiatives.............................................................................................................................5
  Review .............................................................................................................................................5
  Macroeconomic Policy ....................................................................................................................5
  Building, Maintaining and Sharing Economic Development and Prosperity..................................5
  Delivering a Fair and Inclusive Society...........................................................................................5
  (1.1) Objective .................................................................................................................................6
(2) SPECIAL INITIATIVES......................................................................................... 7
  (2.1) Introduction .............................................................................................................................7
  (2.2) Special initiatives to be undertaken during the period of the Agreement ...............................7
  (2.3) Housing and Accommodation .................................................................................................8
     (2.3.1) Affordable Housing Initiative ..........................................................................................8
     (2.3.2) Social and Affordable Housing Provision......................................................................10
     (2.3.3) Private rented sector .......................................................................................................14
     (2.3.4) Next steps .......................................................................................................................15
  (2.4) Cost and Availability of Insurance........................................................................................16
  (2.5) Migration and Interculturalism..............................................................................................20
  (2.6) Care - Children, People with Disabilities and Older People .................................................21
  (2.7) Supporting the Long-Term Unemployed, those who become Redundant and those in Low-
  Skilled Employment.......................................................................................................................23
     (2.7.1) Combating long-term unemployment ............................................................................23
     (2.7.2) Addressing the needs of those who have been made redundant ....................................26
     (2.7.3) Addressing the needs of low-skilled workers.................................................................26
  (2.8) Tackling Educational Disadvantage - Literacy, Numeracy and Early School Leavers ........28
  (2.9) Waste Management ...............................................................................................................35
  (2.10) Improving the Health of the Nation - Tackling Alcohol and Drug Misuse ........................37
     (2.10.1) Alcohol misuse .............................................................................................................37
     (2.10.2) Drug misuse..................................................................................................................38
  (2.11) Including Everybody in the Information Society ................................................................41
  (2.12) Ending Child Poverty ..........................................................................................................43
(3) MACROECONOMIC POLICY............................................................................ 47
  (3.1) Overall Objective ..................................................................................................................47
     (3.1.1) Context ...........................................................................................................................47
     (3.1.2) Looking Forward............................................................................................................47
  (3.2) Public Expenditure ................................................................................................................47
     (3.2.1) Context ...........................................................................................................................48
     (3.2.2) Looking Forward............................................................................................................48
  (3.3) Taxation.................................................................................................................................50
     (3.3.1) Context ...........................................................................................................................50
     (3.3.2) Looking Forward............................................................................................................50
  (3.4) Competitiveness and Inflation...............................................................................................53
     (3.4.1) Context ...........................................................................................................................53
     (3.4.2) Looking forward.............................................................................................................54
(4) BUILDING MAINTAINING AND SHARING ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
AND PROSPERITY ................................................................................................... 55
  (4.1) Overall Objective ..................................................................................................................55
     (4.1.1) Context ...........................................................................................................................55
     (4.1.2) Sustainable Development ...............................................................................................55
     (4.1.3) National Spatial Strategy................................................................................................55
     (4.1.4) Public Enterprise ............................................................................................................58
  (4.2) Infrastructure .........................................................................................................................58
     (4.2.1) Funding...........................................................................................................................58
     (4.2.2) Public Private Partnership ..............................................................................................59
     (4.2.3) Procurement....................................................................................................................59
     (4.2.4) Construction Industry .....................................................................................................60
     (4.2.5) Broadband ......................................................................................................................61
     (4.2.6) Transport ........................................................................................................................62
     (4.2.7) Ports................................................................................................................................68
     (4.2.8) Energy ............................................................................................................................68
     (4.2.9) Sustainable Energy .........................................................................................................70
  (4.3) The Environment...................................................................................................................72
     (4.3.1) National Climate Change Strategy .................................................................................72
     (4.3.2) National Emissions Ceiling Directive ............................................................................73
     (4.3.3) Water Services................................................................................................................74
  (4.4) Adaptation to continuing Change..........................................................................................75
     (4.4.1) Knowledge-based Economy and Society .......................................................................75
        (4.4.1.1) eCommerce..............................................................................................................75
        (4.4.1.2) Research and Development .....................................................................................75
     (4.4.1.3) eGovernment ...............................................................................................................78
        (4.4.1.3.1) eGovernment ........................................................................................................78
        (4.4.1.3.2) eGovernment ........................................................................................................79
        (4.4.1.4) Legal and Regulatory Environment ........................................................................81
        (4.4.1.5) Knowledge Foresight Exercise................................................................................82
     (4.4.2) Lifelong Learning...........................................................................................................83
     (4.4.3) Regulation ......................................................................................................................85
     (4.4.4) Small business ................................................................................................................86
     (4.4.5) Entrepreneurship ............................................................................................................89
     (4.4.6) Tourism ..........................................................................................................................90
     (4.4.7) Promoting North/South Partnership ...............................................................................92
     (4.4.8) External Relations - EU and the wider world.................................................................93
  (4.5) Agriculture.............................................................................................................................95
     (4.5.1) Cap Mid-Term Review...................................................................................................95
     (4.5.2) WTO Negotiations .........................................................................................................96
     (4.5.3) Dairy and Beef Sectors...................................................................................................97
     (4.5.4) Dairy Sector....................................................................................................................97
     (4.5.5) Beef Sector .....................................................................................................................98
     (4.5.6) The Food Industry ..........................................................................................................99
     (4.5.7) Environment Enhancement ..........................................................................................101
        (4.5.7.1) Nitrates ..................................................................................................................101
        (4.5.7.2) Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) .................................................................103
  (4.6) Animal Health .....................................................................................................................104
  (4.7) Adapting Agriculture to Change .........................................................................................105
  (4.8) Customer Service ................................................................................................................106
  (4.9) Farmers as Preferential Creditors ........................................................................................108
  (4.10) Forestry..............................................................................................................................109
(5) DELIVERING A FAIR AND INCLUSIVE SOCIETY ..................................... 110
  (5.1) Poverty and Social Inclusion...............................................................................................110
     (5.1.1) Objective ......................................................................................................................110
     (5.1.2) Key Principles ..............................................................................................................110
     (5.1.3) National Anti-Poverty Strategy ....................................................................................110

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   (5.1.4) Pensions........................................................................................................................117
(5.2) Health and Addressing Health Inequalities .........................................................................118
   (5.2.1) Structural Reform .........................................................................................................120
   (5.2.2) Rehabilitation Facilities................................................................................................123
   (5.2.3) Information...................................................................................................................124
   (5.2.4) Health Impact Assessment ...........................................................................................124
   (5.2.5) Health Promotion and Education .................................................................................124
   (5.2.6) Access to Primary Medical Care ..................................................................................125
   (5.2.7) Eligibility......................................................................................................................126
(5.3) Equality ...............................................................................................................................126
(5.4) Access to Quality Public Services.......................................................................................129
(5.5) Challenge of Delivering a Fair and Inclusive Society.........................................................130
   (5.5.1) Key Actions..................................................................................................................130
      (5.5.1.1) Review of Social Inclusion Programmes ..............................................................130
      (5.5.1.2) Framework for Social and Equality Statistics .......................................................133
      (5.5.1.3) National Longitudinal Study .................................................................................135
      (5.5.1.4) NAPS.....................................................................................................................135
   (5.5.2) Mainstreaming of Equality and Evidence-based Policy-making .................................136




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(1) OVERVIEW OF SUSTAINING PROGRESS 2003 - 2005
Background

The negotiations on a new National Agreement were formally launched on 31 October 2002.

The National Economic and Social Council (NESC) Strategy Report, An Investment in Quality: Services,
Inclusion and Enterprise provided a background for the negotiations.

The parties to the negotiations included the Government, employers, trade unions, farming bodies and the
community and voluntary sector as follows: Irish Business and Employers’ Confederation (IBEC), Irish
Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), Construction Industry Federation (CIF), Irish Farmers’ Association
(IFA), Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA), Irish Co-Operative Organisation Society Ltd.
(ICOS), Macra na Feirme, Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed (INOU), Congress Centres for the
Unemployed, The Community Platform, Conference of Religious of Ireland (CORI), National Women’s’
Council of Ireland (NWCI), National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI), Society of Saint Vincent de Paul,
Protestant Aid, Small Firms’ Association (SFA), Irish Exporters’ Association (IEA), Irish Tourist Industry
Confederation (ITIC) and Chambers of Commerce of Ireland (CCI).

The negotiations have resulted in Sustaining Progress, covering a wide range of issues as set out below.
Sustaining Progress focuses on what is necessary to make the economy:

    •   Competitive in a changing world;
    •   Environmentally sustainable;
    •   Efficient through finding and implementing appropriate market and regulatory regimes in different
    •   areas; and
    •   Socially acceptable.

The shared overall goal of the new Agreement covering the period 2003-2005 is to continue progress
towards the realisation of the NESC vision for Irish society in a period of considerable uncertainty, and to do
this by sustaining economic growth and maintaining high levels of employment and securing living
standards for all, while strengthening the economy’s competitiveness and thereby its capacity to resume
trend growth in more favourable international conditions.


Sustaining Progress is divided into two main parts:

Part One – Sets out the overall scope of the Agreement, together with the ten Special Initiatives to be
progressed in the lifetime of the new Agreement. It outlines the arrangements for engagement with the social
partners on these Initiatives and also the wider policy framework encompassing Macroeconomic Policy,
Economic Development and Prosperity and Delivering a Fair and Inclusive Society.

Introduction

The introductory text sets out the overall approach to be adopted in the Agreement to underpinning national
economic and social development and identifies the key tasks to be undertaken in the Agreement. The central
objective is to seek, in an integrated way, to reinforce Ireland’s consistent policy framework approach and to
implement and deliver policy outcomes developed under the PPF.

Engagement with the Social Partners

The Government has agreed to consult with the social partners as appropriate on policy proposals and the
design of implementation arrangements in respect of matters covered by this Agreement. New mechanisms
for engagement with the social partners in relation to the wider policy framework are proposed. This includes

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the establishment of a Steering Group for the Agreement, representing Government and each of the social
partner pillars, with overall responsibility for the management of the implementation of the Agreement.

Special Initiatives

The Agreement (see Chapter 2, p21) sets out ten Special Initiatives to be progressed during its lifetime,
focused on key issues of economic and social policy which have been identified by the parties to the
Agreement. The Steering Group will agree how action is managed in respect of each of the Special Initiative
themes, taking account of existing structures and activities. The ten Special Initiatives are:

    •   Housing and Accommodation
    •   Cost and Availability of Insurance
    •   Migration and Interculturalism
    •   Long- term Unemployed, Vulnerable Workers and those who have been made Redundant
    •   Tackling Educational Disadvantage - Literacy, Numeracy and Early School Leaving
    •   Waste Management
    •   Care – Children, People with Disabilities and Older People
    •   Alcohol/Drug Misuse
    •   Including Everyone in the Information Society
    •   Ending Child Poverty


Review

Apart from the ongoing quarterly reviews, a particularly critical mid-term review took place when the terms
of the pay review fell due for consideration.

Macroeconomic Policy

The central macroeconomic objective over the lifetime of this Agreement will be to consolidate the progress
of recent years and to achieve a medium term growth rate capable of sustaining high levels of employment
and facilitating the evolution of a more equal society. Securing competitively low inflation, sustainable
public finances, and social, economic and environmental sustainability are central to achieving this objective.
Chapter 3 sets out the key principles that will inform decisions taken in relation to macroeconomic policy
during this Agreement.

Building, Maintaining and Sharing Economic Development and Prosperity

A central aim of the Agreement is to ensure that Ireland’s economic structures are capable of consolidating
and sharing economic development and prosperity. Agreed objectives and details of actions already
underway (see Chapter 4) or proposed are set out in relation to infrastructure, the environment and adaptation
to continuing change.

Delivering a Fair and Inclusive Society

A central theme of this Agreement is the building of a fair and inclusive society and to ensure that people
have the resources and opportunities to live life with dignity and have access to quality public services that
underpin life chances and experiences. Agreed objectives and details of actions already underway (see
Chapter 5,) or proposed are set out in relation to poverty and social inclusion, health and addressing health
inequalities, equality, access to quality public services and the challenge of delivering a fair and inclusive
society.

Part Two – Sets out the terms of the Draft Interim Pay Agreement for the Private Sector and the Public
Service and addresses a number of related issues, including the National Minimum Wage, statutory
redundancy payments, workplace partnership and industrial relations issues. It contains a wide range of
measures aimed at protecting employees' rights; ensuring greater equality; improving skills; promoting

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health and safety; bringing about a better work - life balance; and developing integrated policies for migrant
workers. Part two also sets out the agenda for modernisation of the public service. Payment of the final two
phases of the benchmarking increases and the general round increases for the public service is dependent on
verification of satisfactory implementation of this agenda.



(1.1) Objective

                                                                                                 Secretariat

The shared overall goal for this new Agreement covering the period 2003-2005 is as follows.
To continue progress towards the realisation of the NESC vision for Irish society in terms of:

 −   economic inclusion based on full employment;
 −   consistent economic development that is socially and environmentally sustainable, social
 −   inclusion and a commitment to social justice; and
 −   continuing adaptation to change;


In this period of considerable uncertainty, to do this by sustaining economic growth and
maintaining high levels of employment and securing living standards for all, while strengthening
the economy's competitiveness and thereby its capacity to resume trend growth in more favourable
international conditions. This goal is set within the context of the more medium-term goals set out
in the recent NESC Strategy Report and the reality of a fiscal environment in which current
resource constraints have implications for prioritisation and timeframes for delivery across all
policy areas and programmes.




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(2) SPECIAL INITIATIVES

(2.1) Introduction
                                                                                         Secretariat

Government and the social partners have identified a number of areas of national policy that they
believe should be the subject of a sustained focus of effort from all of the parties and which should
yield a significant return to the community.


(2.2) Special initiatives to be undertaken during the period of the Agreement
                                                                                         Secretariat

In choosing these Initiatives, the partners were guided by the following criteria:

− are capable of making a major contribution to our quality of life;

− are amenable to being designed in a way which is both multidimensional and manageable;

− provide a focus for shared working in respect of the activities of organisations in a range of
  sectors by virtue of their nature and the groups on which they impact;

− allow issues of resource allocation and prioritisation to be addressed in a 'whole of government'
  way;

− potentially encompass short, medium and longer-term perspectives;

− social partners should be able to make a unique value-added contribution to progressing
  these issues.


The following Initiatives have been identified for this Agreement:

−   Housing and Accommodation
−   Cost and Availability of Insurance
−   Migration and Interculturalism
−   Long- term Unemployed, Vulnerable Workers and those who have been made Redundant
−   Tackling Educational Disadvantage - Literacy, Numeracy and Early School Leaving
−   Waste Management
−   Care – Children, People with Disabilities and Older People
−   Alcohol/Drug Misuse
−   Including Everyone in the Information Society
−   Ending Child Poverty

 The Steering Group for Sustaining Progress was established and held its inaugural meeting on 12
May 2003. The meeting was also attended by the Taoiseach. At the meeting the Steering Group
agreed an approach to its work programme and subsequently met on the 13 June, 16 July, 22
September and 29 September.

Scoping papers on all ten initiatives have been considered by the Steering Group at those meetings.



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At the meetings on the 30 October and 24 November the Group considered how best it can
contribute, or add value, to progressing each of the Special Initiatives.

At its meeting on 27 January 2004 a new template for recording progress on the implementation of
the Special Initiatives was considered. This template sets out the key actions, timelines and
performance indicators for each initiative. Templates for each of the initiatives have been
circulated to the Steering Group.

The Steering Group presented its first report to the Plenary on 30 January.

At its meeting on 15 March 2004 the Steering Group refocused its attention to consider the wider
policy framework and some of the horizontal issues underlying all of the initiatives. The Director
General of the CSO made a presentation to the Group on data/information needs for evidenced-
based policy making and monitoring progress. The Department of Finance made a presentation on
macroeconomic issues addressed in chapter 3 of the agreement.

The May 10 meeting of the Steering Group considered models of best practice in the areas of the
Special Initiatives submitted by the Social Partners as well as wider policy issues addressed in
chapter 4 of the agreement.

On 14 June 2004 the Steering Group formally commenced its mid-term review of the agreement.

Two Steering Group meetings took place in June for the purpose of assessing progress under
Part One of Sustaining Progress. These meetings afforded the Social Partner Pillars the
opportunity to give their assessment of progress, to express their concerns and outline their
priorities for the future. A detailed Mid-Term Review of progress on implementing Sustaining
Progress, including the ten Special Initiatives was presented to the political process at the
Fifth Plenary meeting on 13 July 2004.


The Steering Group is due to meet again on 28 October to resume the second phase of its
work programme.


(2.3) Housing and Accommodation
                                                                                              EHLG

Developments in the area of Housing and Accommodation are detailed below, 2.3.1 (Affordable
Housing Initiative), 2.3.2 (Social and Affordable Housing Provision), 2.3.3 (Private Rented Sector)
and 2.3.4 (Next Steps).


(2.3.1) Affordable Housing Initiative
                                                                                              EHLG

Substantial progress has been made to-date on the initiative. Over 50 sites have been identified so
far, which together with output from Part V, have the potential to deliver almost 8,900 units.
Work on identifying further sites on State and local authority land is being progressed as a priority.

The contact group on the Affordable Housing Initiative, which is chaired by the Department of the
Taoiseach, and comprising of a number of Departments, plays an important role in ensuring the
effective implementation of the Initiative. Implementation teams are also in place in the DEHLG
and project managers at local level are all working to ensure the success of the Initiative. The

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services of Mr. Des Geraghty, former President of SIPTU, have also been engaged to assist with the
Initiative.

The Government has agreed on the delivery model for the Initiative - the housing will be delivered
through arrangements between local authorities and the private sector - and eligibility criteria have
been agreed in principle with the parties to the pay agreement subject to further discussion on the
detail. A Guidance document on developing AHI projects is currently being developed by the
DEHLG and local authority officials, the purpose of which is to outline the appropriate procedures
which should apply to the development of an AHI project, to ensure that the objectives of the
initiative are achieved in a manner that is both efficient and effective and represents best value for
money. The objective of this document is to ensure efficient, early and effective delivery of the
Initiative. Additional options are also being considered to accelerate delivery of affordable housing.

In relation to the individual projects on the lands identified to-date, the timescale for delivery and
the precise number of units to be delivered on each site is being determined in planning the projects.
The projects involved vary in terms of key site characteristics such as zoning status and servicing.
Allowance must also be factored in for the procurement of specific developers to deliver the
projects through competitive tendering and for obtaining planning permission. These processes,
while involving a time element, are necessary to ensure the effective delivery of housing and the
creation of housing in good quality environments. Activities will of course be paralleled as
necessary to ensure early delivery of units.

In 2003, 88 affordable units were delivered under Part V with a further 75 affordable units
delivered in the 6 months to June 2004.

Construction has commenced on the Finglas Road site which will yield 160 housing units, 80
of which will be delivered next year. Construction is also underway in other sites including
Newtown Mount Kennedy in Wicklow and in Balbriggan in Fingal. A number of other
projects have been advertised for expressions of interest, including the St Bricins military
hospital site which was part of the O'Devaney Gardens redevelopment and will eventually
supply 200 units. The Jamestown Road and Infirmary Road projects were advertised in late
September and will yield a combined total of 465 housing units.

Where construction has not begun to date, the relevant Local Authorities are ensuring that
the various steps required to bring sites to the construction stage are completed as quickly as
possible. For example, the process of appointing consultants to design sites is also underway
in some projects, including for sites at Clonakilty and Model Farm Road in Cork City.

The most recent announcement in July of this year indicated the release of further State lands
with a potential yield of 1,000 housing units which were made available by the Minister for
Agriculture and Food. Further lands were also made available by Local Authorities giving an
additional potential yield of 1,186 housing units to the Initiative. These additional lands,
together with greater output from Part V and an increase in densities in some sites announced
earlier, gives approximately 8,900 housing units in total projected for delivery.

Significant work has been done to date on the Initiative. Further work on implementing the
Initiative is progressing as a priority and consultations on the availability and suitability of State
land are continuing with Departments, State Agencies and local authorities.




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(2.3.2) Social and Affordable Housing Provision
                                                                                             EHLG

Social and Affordable Accommodation

The overall focus of commitment in relation to the provision of social and affordable
accommodation is to review the effectiveness of programmes designed to assist low income groups,
including those with social and special needs. The assessment of local authority housing needs
conducted in March 2002 provides a basis for conducting the review and may be supplemented with
specific reviews or policy analysis on other components of the broad range of social and affordable
housing programmes.

In response to increasing social housing needs, a high level of local authority completions is being
delivered. The funding being provided in 2004 will allow for the needs of some 13,000 households
to be met, compared to almost 8,500 in 1998. Consolidating the gains made in recent years, the total
housing provision, Exchequer and Non-Exchequer, in 2004 of €1.884 billion is over four times that
provided in 1997 and represents an increase of 5.4% on the 2003 provision.

Strong social housing programmes are being maintained to meet the needs of those not in a position
to provide for their housing needs from their own resources. Local authorities completed or
acquired almost 5,000 units in 2003 and similar levels of output are expected in 2004.

Traveller Accommodation

The Traveller accommodation element of the special initiative under Sustaining Progress is being
progressed through:

The review of the operation of the Housing (Traveller Accommodation) Act 1998. The
National Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee has, at the request of the
Minister, completed and submitted a report on the operation of the Act. The Minister's
examination of this report will be completed shortly.

The High Level Group established by the Cabinet Committee on Social Inclusion under its aegis
with a remit to ensure that the relevant statutory agencies involved in the full range of services to
Travellers focus on the immediate and practical delivery of such services, including
accommodation.

The Action Plans on Social Housing which require that annual targets be set for the provision of
Traveller accommodation also provide a mechanism to push forward the implementation of the
programmes.

The performance measurement scheme introduced for local authorities provides that the
performance of local authorities in relation to Traveller accommodation will be specifically
measured against targets set for implementation of the programmes.

Expenditure on Traveller accommodation 2003/2004

Travellers are provided with accommodation through the local authority housing programme as
well as through the provision of new and refurbished Traveller specific accommodation. In 2003, a
total of €29 million was spent on the provision of Traveller specific accommodation, with the


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allocation increased by one-third to €40 million for 2004. This is in addition to the cost of providing
standard housing allocated to Traveller families provided and funded under the local authority
housing programme. It is expected that the increased accommodation provision of recent years and
the reduction in the number of Traveller families in unauthorised encampments will continue.

Homelessness

Since the Homeless Strategy was launched in 2000, there has been a significant improvement in
both the quality and range of services for homeless persons. Homeless fora have been established,
local action plans have been completed in all local authority areas and work is underway on
implementing them.

A wide range of additional accommodation, ranging from emergency night shelter to long-term
sheltered accommodation to enable homeless persons move out of emergency accommodation into
accommodation that is more suitable to their needs has already been provided and more will be
provided as part of the full implementation of the action plans. In this context, in Dublin, over
1,000 emergency beds have been provided in addition to designated accommodation for street
drinkers and drug users and provision of a night bus to assist people access homeless services.
Initiatives in other local authority areas include a wet hostel in Limerick City and Tralee and
improved accommodation facilities for homeless persons in Cork, Galway and Longford. The
new Dublin Action Plan on Homelessness 2004-2006 entitled Making it Home was launched on
28 July 2004. The Plan was prepared by The Homeless Agency on behalf of the four Dublin
local authorities in conjunction with health boards, other relevant statutory and voluntary
bodies.

In 2003, the Department recouped €49.25 million to local authorities in respect of accommodation
and related services for homeless persons, compared to about €12.5 million in 1999. This year, the
Department is providing €51 million for this purpose to bring to €190.6 million the amount spent on
these services since 2000. Since the publication of Homelessness – An Integrated Strategy in 2000,
€22.63 million additional funding has been made available by the Department of Health and
Children to meet care related commitments under the Strategy. This is ongoing funding and will
remain available to health boards for the provision of care related services to homeless persons.

In relation to the Homeless Preventative Strategy, the Probation and Welfare Service have
established a specialist unit (Homeless Offenders Strategy Team) to deal specifically with homeless
offenders and ex-offenders and health boards have also drawn up protocols for the discharge of
homeless persons from mental facilities.



Next Key Phase

Monitoring of progress

The Cross Department Team on Homelessness continues to monitor progress, at national and local
level, on the implementation of the homeless strategies and local action plans and continues to
address integration of statutory and voluntary agencies in addressing the housing, care and
support needs of homeless persons. The Team will oversee the forthcoming review of
Homeless Strategies and action plans and implement outcome.




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Review of Strategies

A review of the operation of the Homeless Strategies and action plans will be commenced
shortly. Tenders for the project have been sought and it is expected that consultants will be
appointed and the review commenced by early December 2004.

Review of private emergency accommodation in Dublin

Dublin City Council is, at the Department's request, finalising a review of the use of private
(Bed and Breakfast) accommodation as emergency accommodation for homeless persons.
This review has led to improved monitoring, cross co-ordination and better practice within
the Dublin area. Dublin City Council is introducing a charge for this type of accommodation
shortly as it is the only accommodation that currently has no charge. In addition, the Council
has restructured agreements with landlords to eliminate excess supply of beds in this sector.

Data Collection

A comprehensive data system is essential to monitor progress. The Homeless Agency has
introduced the LINK data tracking system in co-operation with service providers. Currently
twenty-one different services in eight different organisations use the system. These include
emergency accommodation providers, advice and information services, outreach teams, and
settlement services. It is intended to extend the usage of LINK to all services in Dublin as soon as
possible. The issue of improved data collection will be addressed also as part of an integrated IT
package for housing for all local authorities.

Provision of accommodation: next stage

There is general agreement among the statutory and voluntary agencies that the emergency
sector is adequately catered for and the focus must now shift to the provision of
longterm/permanent accommodation. This aspect will be addressed in the context of the
housing programmes in future years.

Youth Homelessness Strategy

The Youth Homelessness Strategy was published on 31st October 2001. The Health Boards have
lead responsibility for implementation of the Strategy and they have prepared detailed action plans
in this regard, which will be phased in over 2002-2004. The implementation of the YHS is being
monitored and co-ordinated by the Youth Homelessness Strategy Monitoring Committee
(YHSMC), which is being chaired by the National Children's Office and is representative of the
relevant stakeholders.

The Committee identified the following key areas which required attention in order to drive the
implementation of the Strategy in an effective, co-ordinated way, on a nationwide basis. They are:

Inter-agency Co-ordination and Linkages

The Programme of Action for Children Office (a unit within the health board structure with a co-
ordinating function across all health board regions) has recently agreed to take on the co-ordination
and linkages functions within the health board arena. The NCO will continue to deal with cross-
sectoral co-ordination issues.




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Leaving and Aftercare

National Guidelines on Leaving and Aftercare have been approved by the YHS Monitoring
Committee on 26th May 2004 and have been sent to the Department of Health and Children for
circulation to the Health Boards. The purpose of the Guidelines is to assist Health Boards in
developing their leaving and aftercare policies.

Statistics

A new Youth Homeless Contact Form has been introduced since 1st January 2004, as a way of
gathering more reliable and consistent statistics.

Information and Advocacy

The Information and Advocacy sub-group held its first meeting on 21st May 2004. Terms of
reference have been agreed and an initial work plan has been drawn up.

Education and Training

The Education sub-group has arranged its first meeting for 23rd June 2004.

Since the publication of the Youth Homelessness Strategy, other significant progress has been
made, including:

 − Approximately €12m has been allocated by the Department of Health and Children to the
   health boards for the development of youth homelessness services since 2001.

 − 141.5 new whole-time equivalent posts have been filled across the 10 Health Board regions (up
   to 31st December 2003).

 − 7 new units have opened nationwide.

 − Over 30 new/extended services have been developed around the country.

Estate Management

The 2004 allocation under the Housing Management Initiative Grant Scheme is €1.841m.
Applications were invited in February 2004 from local authorities and voluntary or other
appropriate organisations to undertake projects in the area of housing management. 64 projects were
approved for funding in May of this year under the 2004 Scheme. The outturn under the 2003
scheme was €1.032m. The programme of work for the Housing Unit in 2004 reflects its mandate to
facilitate improved management of the public and social housing sector.

Social Housing Voluntary and Co-operative Sector

Output in the sector from January to June 2004 was 766 units which represents the highest
level of output for the first two quarters in any year. Prospects for the remainder of 2004 and
beyond are good as figures for work currently in progress, coupled with projects in the
pipeline at local level, would indicate that the record level of output of 1,617 achieved in 2003
can be maintained in the coming years.




                                                                                                13
Capital expenditure under the programme in 2003 was €211m, which was €46m above the
2002 outturn. The capital funding provision for the sector in 2004 is almost €235m which is up
11% on last years outturn.



(2.3.3) Private rented sector
                                                                                       EHLG

Residential Tenancies Act 2004

The Residential Tenancies Act 2004, which was enacted in July 2004, provides for major
reform of landlord/tenant law. A large portion of the Act came into operation on 1 September
2004, including: improved security of tenure through a system of 4-year tenancy cycles; new
tenancy termination procedures, including longer notice periods linked to length of tenancy;
establishment of a statutory Private Residential Tenancies Board (PRTB); a new system of
tenancy registration with the PRTB; voluntary renunciation of the right to long-occupation
equity leases; higher penalties for offences relating to standards and registration of private
rented accommodation; and extension of local authority powers to address anti-social
behaviour.

Provisions in the Act for a new dispute resolution service through the PRTB instead of the
Courts, involving mediation or adjudication and tenancy tribunal hearings, will come into
operation later this year, as will other provisions connected with the dispute resolution
process. These include provisions setting out clearly the statutory tenancy obligations of
landlords and tenants and providing that landlords will not be entitled to seek a rent greater
than the market rate and that rent reviews (whether up or down) may not occur more than
once a year unless warranted by substantial change in the accommodation. The Act will be
fully in force before the end of 2004.

The role of the PRTB, in addition to providing a State-subsidised dispute-resolution service
for private sector tenants and registered landlords and operating the new tenancy-registration
system, will include a range of monitoring, research, information and policy-advice functions
in relation to the private rented sector.

The new Act is the core element of the Government's overall programme to promote, reform
and develop the private rented sector based particularly on the report of the Commission on
the Private Rented Residential Sector.

Rental Accommodation Scheme [RAS]

In July the Government approved a new initiative whereby the responsibility for housing
SWA Rent Supplement recipients who are deemed to have a long term housing need is to be
transferred to local authorities. The new arrangements will be introduced in local authorities
starting in 2004 following an initial review by Community Welfare Officers of the
circumstances of persons who have been in receipt of rent supplement for 18 months or more.
The whole programme is to be rolled out through the local government sector, and persons in
need of long term housing transferred to RAS, within four years.


The key objectives of the new scheme include the reduction in long term dependence on rent
supplement, enhancement of the response of local authorities to long-term housing needs and
the improvement in the supply of good quality housing to meet the needs of those who

                                                                                            14
currently rely on rent supplement. The supply of accommodation is likely to involve a
combination of social housing and private rented accommodation. The latter represents a new
approach whereby local authorities will enter into long term contractual arrangements with
housing suppliers to meet housing needs.


(2.3.4) Next steps
                                                                                            EHLG

The Housing Forum which was established under the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness was
reconstituted to meet the role identified for the Forum in Sustaining Progress, i.e. to 'continue to
provide the social partners with an opportunity to contribute to housing policy development by the
Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.'

One of the main components of the housing and accommodation initiative is the proposal to review
the effectiveness of programmes designed to assist low-income groups, including those with social
housing and special housing needs, such as the elderly, disabled, homeless and travellers (Para.
2.3.2). At the first meeting of the Housing Forum on 12 December 2003, a work programme was
agreed by Forum members, with a view, inter alia, to meeting the requirement to review the
programmes.


Three meetings of the Housing Forum have been held to date. Issues for examination and
discussion at the second and third meetings of the Housing Forum were selected from the
agreed work programme and included housing need, homelessness, estate management,
tenant responsibility, the creation of sustainable communities, rent policies and building new
social housing/regeneration. The fourth meeting of the Housing Forum took place on 15
October 2004.




                                                                                                 15
(2.4) Cost and Availability of Insurance
                                                                                              ETE

Cost and Availability of Insurance - Non-Life Insurance - Business Insurance

The Commitments in relation to these areas are being dealt with as part of the Government's
Insurance Reform Programme.

Objective of the Reform Programme

The Insurance Reform Programme seeks to bring about a reduction in insurance costs by the
insurance industry, for the benefit of consumers and business, by means of:

− Improving the functioning of the insurance market
− Decreasing the cost of delivery of compensation; and
− Investigating the competitiveness of the market.

A Ministerial-level Committee, chaired by the Tanaiste, and comprising the Ministers for Transport
and Justice, Equality & Law Reform, as well as the Chairperson of the Motor Insurance Advisory
Board was formed to oversee the implementation of the Reform Programme. The Committee
held its last meeting in September 2004, at which it noted the very significant progress that
has been made. All the measures relevant to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and
Employment have now been fully implemented, and the Minister for Transport and the
Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, and the Irish Financial Single Regulatory
Authority (IFSRA), under the aegis of the Department of Finance, continue to progress the
measures which are relevant to their own Departments. The Minister for Transport, in the
light of broader responsibility for road safety, will take over the lead role in relation to policy
and legislation on the availability and cost of motor insurance and any related inter-
departmental co-ordination. The transfer of responsibilities to the Minister for Transport has
been agreed and will be activated shortly following the completion of logistical issues relating
to the transfer of an agreed number of posts from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and
Employment to the Department of Transport.



Key elements of the Reform Programme

1. Implementation of the Motor Insurance Advisory Board (MIAB) Action Plan

This action plan outlines how the 67 recommendations contained in the MIAB Report of April 2002
will be implemented. 41 of the recommendations have already been implemented with a substantial
proportion of the rest either partly implemented or progressing. Examples of progress and
proposals are listed below:-

As part of its strategy in relation to Road Safety, the Department of Transport has introduced
measures such as penalty points which have had a very positive effect. A New Road Traffic Bill
was published on 11th June and is currently awaiting scheduling for Oireachtas time in
autumn. The new Road Safety Strategy was published on 24th September 2004 by the
Minister for Transport.

Many of the targets and actions recommended in the Strategy are already at various stages of
implementation or planning, including legislation for full random breath testing, the private
operation of speed cameras, revision of the speed limits, a legal basis for control of mobile

                                                                                                16
phones, establishing a Driver Testing and Standards Authority, the computerisation of the
penalty points system and the outsourcing of the collection of fixed charge fines.

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform has brought forward the Civil Liability
and Courts Bill to deal with fraudulent and exaggerated personal injury claims, to reform the
law on personal injury actions, and to reduce the statute of limitations to two years. This
legislation was passed in July 2004. The legislation includes measures such as:-


− Reduction in Statute of Limitations from 3 years to 2 years
− Requirement of plaintiff to issue letter of claim within 2 months of accident or possibly be
  penalised on payment of costs
− Outline of what a summons should include - i.e. full statement of claim including details
  of injuries, accident and financial loss claimed
− What shall be specified in a defence of a claim and/or a counterclaim
− Requirement for a verifying affidavit to accompany a personal injury claim
− Creation of an offence for giving false or misleading information in affidavit
− Power of court to direct parties to a mediation conference
− Requirement of court to have regard to Book of Quantum
− Power of Minister to prescribe actuarial tables
− Creation of an offence of giving false or misleading evidence
− Exclusion of black economy earnings from any award
− Establishment of a register of personal injuries actions

A number of these initiatives now have effect. Others are expected to be brought into effect by
Ministerial Orders expected to be made by March 2005.

The Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment has introduced regulations requiring insurers
to give policyholders 15 working days notice for renewal of motor insurance policies and also
requiring "No Claims Bonus" information to be provided with Renewal Notices. These regulations
are designed to facilitate policyholders make price comparisons.

The Irish Insurance Federation (IIF) have produced a joint code of practice with IBEC in relation to
handling of claims. This code comprises guidelines designed to help commercial policyholders and
their insurers to improve communication and understanding as to how insurance arrangements,
especially the handling of personal injury claims, will be dealt with. The IIF have incorporated a
number of the MIAB recommendations in relation to insurance providers in a code of practice.
These recommendations deal with issues such as equality, transparency and information issues for
consumers.

Changes have been made in the Law Society's rules regarding "no foal-no fee" advertising by
solicitors.

The recommendations in relation to the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority (IFSRA) are
now being progressed since IFSRA commenced operations on 1 May 2003. Many of the
recommendations which now relate to IFSRA have been implemented. IFSRA has a strong
consumer protection mandate, and the MIAB recommendations it is charged with progressing deal
with issues relating to public information, promotion of competition, transparency and consumer
protection.




                                                                                                 17
2. Establishment of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB)

A key initiative was the establishment of the PIAB. The PIAB was established by Ministerial
Order on the 13th of April 2004. From the 1st June 2004 all personal injury claims arising
from workplace accidents, where an employee is seeking compensation from his/her
employer, must be referred to the PIAB before legal proceedings may be issued. From the
22nd of July 2004 all motor liability and public liability claims must also be referred to the
PIAB before legal proceedings may be issued.

PIAB has also produced a Book of Quantum (an aid for assessing the level of compensation based
on the type of injury involved) based on settlements from a range of defendants. This is essential
for the successful operation of the PIAB.

By eliminating the need for litigation costs where legal issues are not in dispute, the PIAB will
significantly reduce the cost of delivering compensation. The PIAB will also offer speedier
assessments to the benefit of genuine claimants.

3. Competition Authority study on Competition in the Insurance Sector

This study aims to identify anti-competitive practices or other constraints on competition in the non-
life insurance market in Ireland, with particular reference to motor insurance, employers' liability
and public liability insurance. It aims to make recommendations to ensure that competition works
well for consumers in the Irish market. It will also make recommendations for changes in the case
of problems identified at EU level. A significant amount of the work was completed in 2003. A
Preliminary Report and Consultation Document on Competition Issues in the Non-Life Insurance
Market was published in February. Following a consultation process, a final report will be
published containing recommendations resulting from the findings.

The Authority has undertaken a considerable amount of research and analysis on the insurance
sector since the start of the Study. In addition, it has commissioned four substantial pieces of
independent research, all of which are published on its website as a resource for anyone with an
interest in this important topic. The independent pieces of research are:


− A report from Cass Business School, which is part of the City of London University, on the
  economics and regulation of insurance.
− A paper from Vincent Hogan and Colm Harmon, of University College Dublin, on the
  prospects for empirical analysis in relation to the non-life insurance market in Ireland.
− A report from Europe Economics of an analysis of the state of competition in the Irish liability
  and motor insurance sectors.
− An analysis from Dorothea Dowling, Chairperson of the MIAB, of the 2002 statutory returns
  in the Irish market and related matters.

Conclusion

The Action Plan is contributing to reductions in insurance premia. The Central Statistics
Office consumer price index statistics show that there was a reduction of 15.2 index points
(14.1%) in motorcar insurance between the months of April 2003 and August 2004, and the
September 2004 figures show a further reduction of 6% in the cost of motorcar insurance.
The CSO index is based on averages but many individual policyholders have done much
better as can be seen from data provided by the Motor Insurance Advisory Board (MIAB).
Examples provided by MIAB for 3 specific companies between March 2003 and March 2004
indicate the following reductions:-

                                                                                                   18
      10% to 16% in comprehensive insurance for a 30 year old male
      10% to 41% in comprehensive insurance for a 50 year old male
      10% to 45% for third party, fire & theft insurance for a 21 year old male.

Recent reform measures taken have also led to a better functioning insurance market. This is
reflected in the Insurance Industry Federation figures which indicate that the 20 non-life
insurance companies operating in the Irish market made a combined operating profit of
€747m in 2003. Enhanced profits facilitate reductions in premia. These new operating
conditions enhance the attractiveness of the market to prospective new entrants. The
Insurance market is growing. Gross written premiums increased to over €4bn in 2003
compared to just €2bn in 1998. As the economy continues to grow, the insurance market will
also continue to grow in size. Competition from new entrants attracted by better market
conditions will be an important element in ensuring continuing downward pressure on
premia.




                                                                                          19
(2.5) Migration and Interculturalism
                                                                                                  JELR

The revised Key Actions paper on migration and interculturalism has been circulated to social
partners. The National Action Plan Against Racism (NPAR) promises to be the most
significant document published by the Government in the area of racism. The Plan will cut
across the work of a variety of Departments and local government initiatives. It is envisaged
that the Plan will both seek to address racism and promote a more inclusive, intercultural
society. The emphasis in the Plan will be on proactive strategies and practical measures. A
draft of the plan has been circulated to Departments, the Equality Authority, the Human
Rights Commission and the Social Partners for their comments.

Promoting Anti-Racism and Interculturalism in Education - Draft Recommendations towards a
National Action Plan was produced by the Department of Education and Science in November 2002
and is available online at http://www.education.ie/.

Actions under way to support the plan include: information for schools on the integration of asylum
seekers and travellers; additional resources for schools to support the needs of students for whom
English is not their first language and the development of guidelines for primary and post primary
teachers on how the existing curriculum can be mediated and adapted to reflect the emergence of an
expanding multi-cultural society.

The Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE) programmes at primary and post primary level,
and the Civic Social and Political Education (CSPE) programme at second level are designed to
prepare students for participatory citizenship, to develop the skills of critical appraisal and decision-
making based on human rights and social responsibilities, and to promote a respect for human
dignity, tolerance for the values and beliefs of others, and a celebration of diversity.

Modules on interculturalism have been developed and approved for use in the Further Education
sector; new initiatives for migrant groups have been developed under the Back to Education
Initiative (BTEI); the number of adult non-nationals availing of literacy and language tuition
through the VEC adult literacy service has increased; a report on addressing the literacy and
language needs of adult asylum seekers has been launched and training for staff has taken place in
collaboration with the London Language and Literacy Unit.

Guidelines on intercultural education in the curriculum, both at primary and post-primary level, are
being prepared by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment. It is planned to publish
and distribute the guidelines to schools in 2005.

Action is underway on implementing over two-thirds of the recommendations of the Task Force on
Emigrants. Relevant Government Departments are examining ways to progress further
implementation. An additional budget of €1m this year has been allocated to the vote of the
Department of Foreign Affairs. A priority is to build the capacity of organisations working with
emigrants.

The DION Committee have been asked to give priority in allocating grants to areas highlighted by
the Task Force – particularly supports for the elderly. Further monies for services for emigrants
have been allocated as follows:

− A total of €400,000 to the USA in 2004 (33% increase on 2003).
− A total of €48,000 to Australia in 2004 (25% increase on 2003).

A dedicated unit on Emigrants has been established in the Department of Foreign Affairs.

                                                                                                      20
(2.6) Care - Children, People with Disabilities and Older People
                                                                                               TAO

Sustaining Progress states that "a strategic approach to providing an infrastructure of care services
should seek to achieve a proper balance between the respective roles of families, the State, the
private sector and voluntary organisations. Care demands generally relate to three key target
groupings; children, people with disabilities, and older people". It also notes that the outcome of
commitments of previous National Programmes and the work of various associated Committees,
Government Departments, Agencies and Statutory bodies have contributed in varying degrees to
achieving a strategic approach to this issue. Development of this work will continue through a
range of agreed actions in relation to each target group as outlined in Sustaining Progress.

A scoping paper on this Special Initiative was prepared for the Steering Group and discussed at its
meeting in September 2003. A key Actions paper was then developed and circulated to the Social
Partners. The key actions and relevant updates are as follows:

− An initial examination has been carried out by relevant Departments to establish what data is
  currently available to identify the scale of care needs in respect of childcare, older people and
  people with disabilities. Further independent work is needed to fully identify the scale of
  needs.

− The Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Bill was enacted on 19 July,
  2004.

− The Disability Bill was published on 21 September, 2004.

− The 'Study to Examine the Future Financing of Long-Term Care in Ireland' was published in
  June 2003. In order to focus all interested parties on the specific areas which need to be
  addressed a consultation process is currently underway. It is envisaged that feedback from
  this process, which is currently being compiled in the Department of Social and Family
  Affairs, will be the starting point for the Working Group which will examine the strategic
  policy, cost and service delivery issues associated with the care of older people. It is planned
  that this working group will be established during October 2004.

− Specialist Working Groups have been established to progress the strategic review of existing
  service provision for people with disabilities. The Working Groups are due to report shortly,
  following which there will be an open consultation process. An earlier part of this review will
  include the review of waiting lists for residential care for people with disabilities. Details of
  waiting lists for people with intellectual disabilities have been published in the recent Report
  on the National Intellectual Disability Database. Better information on waiting lists for people
  with physical and sensory disabilities will be available when the database is completed.

− The development of a code of practice on sheltered occupational services for people with
  disabilities has been completed. The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment
  are currently developing a policy framework aimed at enhancing the potential of
  sheltered employment to provide better employment opportunities for people with
  disabilities. These two measures will be taken in tandem to ensure an effective transition
  from the current arrangements for sheltered workshops.

− The implementation of the €449.3 million Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme
  (EOCP) 2000-2006, nearly €180 million of which comes from the European Social Fund
  (ESF) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), is ongoing. To date almost


                                                                                                  21
   3,000 grant applications under the EOCP have been approved, making €266 million in
   capital, staffing and quality improvement grants for Childcare nationwide. A total of
   €223.1 million has been approved for a wide range of capital and staffing projects across
   the country and on completion of the EOCP, this funding is projected to create over
   30,000 new Childcare places. A significant part of the remaining funding will be required
   to roll over staffing grant supports being made available to Childcare facilities which
   cater for disadvantaged families and for ongoing supports to the City/County Childcare
   Committees and the National Voluntary Childcare Organisations. Some 20,500 new
   places are currently in place as a result of the EOCP expenditure to date. In addition
   over 20,600 existing places have received support under the Programme.

− A partnership sub-committee has met on five occasions to consider addressing childcare needs
  of low paid parents and workplace based childcare. The Department of Justice, Equality and
  law Reform is preparing a document which will identify the key childcare issues from the
  perspective of the employer and from the perspective of the employee to inform the
  further work of the Group.

− Funding of €1.25m has been allocated in 2004 to the ERHA and health boards to develop
  programmes of personal care packages for older people. The Department of Health and
  Children will monitor the operation of these packages on an ongoing basis.

− Public consultation on the family has taken place throughout 2003-2004. The Report of this
  consultation process has now been published and it will be taken into account in drawing up a
  clear, comprehensive and integrated strategy for family policy. €1m has been provided by the
  Government to facilitate the celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the International Year of
  the Family. This includes a once off Special Award Scheme for voluntary and community
  organisations to facilitate the development of a national programme to celebrate the
  Anniversary Year. Some 950 applications for funding under the scheme were received and
  approximately 800 groups benefited from funding.

− €20.17m has been allocated to the Family Support Agency in 2004, to enable it to carry out the
  functions assigned to it under the Family Support Agency Act. The Agency's Strategic Plan
  was launched in May 2004 and includes a strategic priority to promote the Family Support
  Agency as a key provider of support services and related information for families in Ireland.




                                                                                             22
(2.7) Supporting the Long-Term Unemployed, those who become Redundant and those in Low-
Skilled Employment
                                                                                   ETE

The objectives are to equip people with the skills to give them access to good quality and secure
employment over their lifetime and to continue the re-integration of the long-term unemployed and
disadvantaged groups into the open labour market, with a focus on progression opportunities.

Current Labour Market Data

There were 1,836,200 persons in employment in the second quarter of 2004. This represented an
increase of 42,800 in the year and a seasonal increase on the first quarter of the year of 2,000.
There were 84,200 persons unemployed in the first quarter of 2004, an increase of 600 in the
quarter and an increase of 2,100 in the year. The unemployment rate currently stands at 4.4%. The
incidence of long term unemployment in Ireland has decreased dramatically over the past number of
years and the long term unemployment rate currently stands at 1.4% compared with 4.5% just six
years ago. Currently, there are in the region of 26,300 persons who have been unemployed for a
period of 12 months or more.


(2.7.1) Combating long-term unemployment
                                                                                               ETE

The Preventive Process involves a systematic engagement with the unemployed and was introduced
in September 1998. On reaching a certain duration on the Live Register each individual is referred
by the Department of Social and Family Affairs to FAS. Initially this duration was 6 months for
those under 25 and 12 months for 25-55 year olds. The threshold for the latter group was reduced
to 9 months in July 2000. Since March 2003 a common referral threshold of six months applies to
all age groups. The process commenced in Dublin in May 2003 and is now operational in all
regions. During 2003, 43,595 clients were referred to FÁS by the Department of Social and
Family Affairs, including clients from the roll-out process. It is expected that over 60,000
clients (including 20,000 clients from the roll-out process) will be referred during 2004,
coming from a 90,000 referral capacity (some clients can be referred more than once). FÁS
and the Department of Social and Family Affairs have recently signed a Memorandum of
Understanding which includes the establishment of Local and Regional structures. These
structures, together with the already existing Inter-Departmental Group, will assist in the effective
management and co-ordination of the Preventive process. An evaluation of the process is
currently being arranged and due for completion in Spring 2005.

The High Supports Process (HSP) was officially launched in January 2003 with a budget of
€1.2million for the piloting of the HSP in 7 regions during the year. The HSP is a flexible process
designed to assist Employment Service Officers in implementing a range of responses for clients
who are experiencing major barriers in progressing from unemployment to the workforce. A total
of €2,200 per person is available to Employment Service Officers when sourcing the relevant
intervention.

The groupings identified for inclusion in this pilot include long-term participants on the Job
Initiative Scheme, those defined as Not Progression Ready under the preventive strategy as well as
those being referred under the full roll out of the strategy. The Department of Social and Family
Affairs engages systematically with those categorised as Not Progression Ready and the nature and
extent of employability barriers faced by persons in this category are being identified. Local
networks of service providers have been established to provide necessary interventions in respect of


                                                                                                  23
barriers identified. Some of the barriers identified include addiction, psychological issues and
having a prison record.

39 Job Initiative participants as well as 297 Not Progression Ready clients availed of the additional
support in 2003.

The process is being extended nationwide in 2004. It is projected that 320 Not-Progression
Ready clients and 230 Job Initiative participants will avail of the process in 2004. The budget
allocation for the year is €1.2m. An evaluation of the HSP has commenced with a view to
making recommendations on how it can be better utilised.

The Pathways Programme is a two-week group guidance programme for clients identified
under the preventive process. The aim of the programme is to identify the most appropriate
development pathway for each participant in order to assist them obtain and maintain
employment. The programme is delivered on a group basis in order to encourage a dynamic
in which clients can support and learn from each other.

The programme is designed to be a highly positive and motivating experience. It adopts a
cognitive-behavioural approach to learning, which aims to change the attitudes and actions of
participants towards employment. A pilot of the programme was launched in a number of
locations towards the latter half of 2003.

The FÁS Employment Services Support Unit conducted a preliminary evaluation of the
Pathways pilot based on primary research data gathered from the four programmes in the
Dublin area. A feedback workshop of tutors and others involved in the delivery of the pilot
programmes was held in March 2004. The preliminary evaluation and feedback workshop
informed a further development and improvement of the Pathways programme materials.

The programme was further rolled out in 2004. Between January and June 2004
approximately 500 clients attended a total of 32 Pathways Programmes nationally. A full
evaluation of the programme has been commissioned by FAS and is expected to be completed
by December 1st 2004. The purpose of the evaluation is to assess the programme's
effectiveness in achieving its stated objectives and to make recommendations on its future
delivery.

The Gateway for Women initiative, aimed at proactively encouraging women to return to work, was
launched in November 2001. The initiative is client focused with tailored individualised
approaches to meet participants' needs. Support is offered to women returners in a flexible manner,
with ease of access key to success.

The primary focus of the process is employment and the Gateway process aims to meet employer
skills needs ensuring that the training provided is tailored to meet business requirements. FÁS
works with employers to successfully recruit and select the right people for the right job. Through
the Gateway process FÁS has also assisted employers to continue training employees on-the-job.
The project team has worked in partnership with employers to pursue a 'best practice' approach to
maximise both staff retention and staff development.

Funded jointly by FÁS and the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, this initiative has
operated in 2002-2003 in the Dublin and West Regions. In 2004 the process has been extended to
the Northeast and Northwest regions.




                                                                                                  24
FÁS continues to prioritise services for the more disadvantaged groups. It maintains levels of
activity on programmes specifically for persons with a disability including Specialised Training
Providers, the Employment Support Scheme and the Supported Employment Programme.

A proposal for a more mainstream approach to ensuring better employment opportunities for people
with disabilities, including those in sheltered employment, is being advanced in the Department of
Enterprise, Trade and Employment. The objective is to increase the numbers of persons with a
disability in open employment. It is intended that a final decision on the proposal will be taken
before the end of 2004 in the context of the 2005 Estimates. Furthermore, in this area, the
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment will respond as appropriate to any commitments
arising from the Disability Bill.

Funding of €351m has been allocated for Employment Schemes in 2004 which will support up to
25,000 places across three employment schemes, i.e. Community Employment, Job Initiative and
Social Economy. FÁS is being given some flexibility in the management of this financial
allocation to maximise progression to the labour market while at the same time facilitating the
support of Community Services.

The Review of the Active Labour Market Programmes including Community Employment, Job
Initiative, Education and Training and Back to Work Programmes, which was mandated by the PPF
and outlined in the Programme for Government, has been concluded without reaching a group
consensus on various elements of the review. The Standing Committee on the Labour Market,
chaired by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, undertook this review. The
Standing Committee was unable to produce a final report in the absence of sufficient consensus on
the various elements of the review. Notwithstanding this, the considerable input from individual
members of the Committee was noted and the views expressed by representatives continue to
inform current discussions.

As part of the review process Indecon International Economic Consultants were commissioned by
the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, on behalf of the Standing Committee, to
facilitate a rigorous assessment of the overall effectiveness of existing programmes, and help inform
the deliberations of the Standing Committee. The Indecon report may be viewed on the Department
of Enterprise, Trade and Employment website: http://www.entemp.ie/.

FÁS has also undertaken a review of Community Employment and Job Initiative Programmes and
has indicated that this report will be published in due course.

FÁS has endeavoured to support local communities in the services they wish to deliver during
2004 while keeping the focus of the Community Employment scheme on securing jobs for
participants in the open labour market. There has been extensive consultation with the Social
Partners and key stakeholders over the past year on the future direction of CE and FÁS
labour market programmes and Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment would
hope to conclude this process shortly. Target participation rates for 2005 will be considered
in the context of the ongoing review of active labour market programmes and the Budget
allocation for FAS programmes in 2005.

The Social Economy Programme (SEP) provides employment opportunities for the long-term
unemployed while at the same time providing local community services. A budget of €30 million
was provided for this programme in 2003. The allocation is being increased in 2004 to over €40
million which will cover enterprises approved to date. This is part of the overall allocation of
€351m which is being provided to support up to 25,000 places across the three employment
schemes - CE, JI and SEP. The future direction of the Social Economy Programme is being


                                                                                                  25
considered in the context of the ongoing consultations with the Social Partners referred to
above.

The Back to Work Scheme was reviewed in the Department of Social and Family Affairs and it was
recommended that the scheme be refocused on the longer-term unemployed, that the financial
supports be enhanced, and that the overall numbers on the scheme be reduced. Following on from
this review, the qualifying period for persons on Unemployment Benefit/Assistance was increased
to 5 years with effect from 1st January 2003. Other social welfare qualifying payments were not
affected by this change. The Back to Work Scheme continues to be monitored to ensure its
continued relevance. In line with this, the qualifying period for persons accessing the enterprise
strand of the scheme (BTWEA) from unemployment benefit/unemployment assistance has been
reduced to 3 years with effect from 1st March 2004. The qualifying criteria for the employee strand
of the scheme (BTWA) is not affected by this change i.e. 5 years remains the qualifying period for
those on unemployment benefit/assistance. The scheme continues to target the most vulnerable
groups in the community who are experiencing greatest difficulties accessing the labour market.


(2.7.2) Addressing the needs of those who have been made redundant
                                                                                              ETE

In co-operation with the Industrial development agencies and local organisations FAS has
developed a process of engagement with redundant workers. This process is flexible and adaptable
to meet the needs of each circumstance of company closure, for example, rural versus urban and
large-scale redundancy. The process generally involves:-

− Establishment of a task force and agreement with all parties as to their responsibilities, with
  particular emphasis on the role FÁS has to play and how their services are to be provided.
− Information sessions in conjunction with skills audits and subsequent training provision form
  the backbone of interventions.
− Those who do not succeed in reintegrating into the labour market in the short term are
  systematically re-engaged under the Preventive Strategy process, which typically offers more
  intensive counseling and a range of supports.

Since the beginning of 2003, FAS has engaged with some 45 companies experiencing redundancies.
As a result of these interventions many workers made redundant have secured alternative
employment. While the level of notified redundancies remains high, employment growth is also
continuing which indicates that job gains have been exceeding job losses.


(2.7.3) Addressing the needs of low-skilled workers
                                                                                              ETE

The Competency Development Programme was introduced in May 2003. The focus of the
programme will be on the prioritised needs as identified in the various industrial studies
commissioned by FAS. A budget of €2.5million has been provided for 2004. Currently training
programmes are being targeted at low skilled, low qualification operatives, with pilot initiatives
(e.g. Employee Competitiveness Programme) introduced in a number of sectors (Clothing,
Engineering, Textiles and Retail) in the North-West region. These initiatives seek to empower and
equip individuals who are employed in the most vulnerable sectors of the economy with the
knowledge and skills necessary to operate in a rapidly changing and increasingly competitive
economic environment. Pilot programmes will continue into 2004.



                                                                                                26
FAS Net College (FNC) provides supported e-learning services that are flexible and convenient -
can be accessed from any internet friendly PC from any location. E-learning provides the
opportunity to learn from home, place of work or other location at low cost. FNC has a range of
courses in Business, Office Applications, Web Design/Programming, Personal Development,
Technical Support and Apprenticeship. Access is available though local libraries, community IT
centres and FAS Learning Centres. FNC is implementing a project 'No Borders to Learning' funded
under the Pease 2 Programme to deliver upskilling via FNC in the border counties. It is expected
that the experience will enable women living in remote locations access learning and acquire new
skills to enable them enter/re-enter the labour market.

The Bridging/Foundation programme is geared towards providing unemployed early school leavers
with educational, practical and personal skills training, as well as referrals under the preventive
strategy. Expenditure under this programme in 2003 was €12.3million and there were 3,744
completions. The budget provision for 2004 is €14.1million.

Community Training is an important progression option for workers recently made redundant, new
entrants to the labour market, persons who have acquired basic skills on Community Employment
and those who have undergone training under the early school leavers measure. Community
Training expenditure in 2003 was €22.3million and catered for some 2,900 persons. The budget
provision for 2004 is €23million.

FÁS along with the Department of Education & Science and Dublin Employment Pact are also co-
operating in a Pilot Programme for Early School Leavers who were 6 months in employment. This
involves a part-time training and education programme which is organised with the support of the
Northside, Clondalkin and Tallaght Area Partnerships. The objective is to help the young people
involved to attain the Leaving Certificate or FETAC certification. The pilot has been evaluated and
had a high satisfaction rating from participants. Following on the success of the scheme, it is to be
continued in the three locations of the pilot and is being extended to include other areas of Dublin.




                                                                                                  27
(2.8) Tackling Educational Disadvantage - Literacy, Numeracy and Early School Leavers
                                                                                                 ES

Objective 1

To put in place arrangements to systematically monitor literacy attainment levels both in school and
for adults of all ages.

Critical attention will be paid to the development of literacy and numeracy skills both in school and
for adults of all ages as these are a prerequisite for learning and for social and economic
participation. Arrangements for systematic monitoring of literacy attainment levels both in schools
and for adults of all ages will be put in place and assessment and remediation strategies in primary
schools will be implemented, supported by targeted initiatives to address the specific needs of
disadvantaged schools.

Developments

− The Educational Research Centre (ERC) carried out a survey in 2003 to establish
  baseline literacy data for 1st, 3rd and 6th classes in disadvantaged primary schools. The
  survey was based on a fully representative sample of disadvantaged primary schools in
  Ireland. The report of the survey of disadvantaged schools is now complete and has been
  presented to the Department of Education and Science for comment. The report is to be
  published in October 2004.

− National assessments of reading in first and fifth classes and mathematics achievement in
  fourth class in primary schools will all be completed in 2004 and reports will be available in
  2005. Data for these assessments were collected in May 2004 and the task of collating and
  analysing the data has begun.

− Data collection for the PISA survey of 15-year olds was completed in Spring, 2003. This phase
  of PISA had mathematics as the major domain with reading literacy and science and problem-
  solving as minor domains. The literacy component of the survey will facilitate a comparison
  between the literacy achievement of the 2003 cohort of students and that of the 2000 cohort.
  The national and international reports of the PISA 2003 survey will be released on 7
  December 2004.

− In July 2004, the Minister for Education and Science announced his intention to make the
  standardised testing of all pupils a requirement at three points during their years of
  compulsory education with effect from the 2006-7 academic year and the National
  Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) were requested to advise on the key
  issues relating to implementing this requirement.

− The first phase development of a primary pupil database has commenced and the aim is to have
  it operational as of the 2004/05 school year. The Department's requirements in relation to
  the database have been determined and the functional specification, which will act as a
  blueprint for the further development of the database, has recently been completed.

Objective 2

To implement targeted initiatives in disadvantaged primary schools aimed at ensuring that pupils
with serious literacy difficulties are supported in improving their attainment levels.



                                                                                                  28
Developments

− Continuing assistance to disadvantaged primary schools in implementing the Department's
  Learning Support Guidelines, including adoption of a whole-school approach to supporting
  children with literacy difficulties and development and implementation of a literacy plan by
  each school. One-day seminars on Literacy and the Learning Support Guidelines were
  delivered by Learning Support trainers to whole staffs of all designated disadvantaged schools
  from March to June 2003. The aim of these seminars was to help teachers to improve literacy
  achievement in their schools using the Learning Support Guidelines. The number of learning
  support and resource teachers has significantly increased in recent years and there will be a
  continued focus on strengthening and integrating learning supports in schools with a view both
  to maximising returns from the investment in this area and to meeting key NAPS targets.

− The Primary Curriculum Support Service trainers (Cuiditheoirí) will continue to offer support
  to disadvantaged schools in their areas as their first priority. They will be assisting schools in
  the development of literacy plans designed to help the schools to meet the NAPS targets.

− ICT availability in schools helps to lessen the impact of a possible digital divide and acts as a
  motivating factor for children who otherwise might not have access to this technology. In
  addition, the development of ICT literacy has been shown to have a significant impact on the
  development of traditional literacy. The Department is currently formulating a Policy
  Framework to progress the position as regards ICT in schools for the period to the end of 2007,
  with priority being given to supporting developments in disadvantaged schools and making
  provision for children with special needs. This Framework will be developed in the context
  that, while major progress has been made generally with regard to ICT infrastructure in
  schools, significant building blocks need to be put in place to leverage full benefit from ICT
  provision. These include: high-speed connectivity, the networking of schools, provision of
  resources for teacher training, curriculum and technical support. It is envisaged that
  mechanisms will be designed and resources made available so that disadvantaged schools have
  the capability of allowing more flexible access to ICT by pupils and their communities outside
  formal school hours.

− In a joint approach, the telecommunications sector and the Government have jointly committed
  €18m towards the rollout of broadband to all 4,100 primary and secondary schools. A Public
  Tender Notice to market has issued to market and responses in this regard are currently
  being evaluated. It is envisaged that this process will result by late autumn in the
  commencement of roll-out of service with the ultimate objective of reaching all schools in
  2005.

− The Reading Recovery programme first piloted in the Louth, Monaghan and Cavan area has
  been extended to a number of schools in the Dublin area. There are currently 66 primary
  schools (41 in Monaghan, 25 in Dublin) participating in the programme. Following a decision
  to further expand the Reading Recovery Programme in disadvantaged primary schools;
  three Reading Recovery teachers have recently been recruited to train as Reading
  Recovery Tutors. Following completion of their training, the three new tutors will work
  in centres in Dublin, Cork and Limerick. The new centres in Limerick and Cork along
  with the existing centres in Dublin and Monaghan will give Reading Recovery a
  nationwide profile. The First Steps programme offers primary teachers an accurate means of
  assessing and monitoring children's competencies and progress in reading, writing, spelling and
  oral language. Training of teachers in selected disadvantaged schools in First Steps
  commenced in summer 2004.


                                                                                                 29
− Preparations for the piloting of a Maths Recovery Programme in the 2004/05 school year
  are underway.

Objective 3

To ensure a focused and integrated approach is taken to tackling the problem of early school
leaving.

Retention of young people within the education and training system, until such time as they achieve
their full potential, will be a major objective over the period of the Agreement. Initiatives will be
implemented to prevent and address early school leaving, taking account of the framework set out
in the NESF Report on Early School Leavers.

Developments

− The Educational Disadvantage Committee, which advises the Minister for Education and
  Science on policies and strategies to be adopted to identify and correct educational
  disadvantage, has undertaken a review of the wide range of programmes already in place to
  tackle educational disadvantage and has made a submission to the Minister on a More
  Integrated and Effective Delivery of School-Based Educational Inclusion Measures. The
  review of disadvantaged programmes is currently being finalised by the Department and an
  announcement in relation to the outcome of this process will be made once the review has been
  completed. The review will address, inter alia, the issue of out-of-school initiatives such as
  Youthreach and how these can be more effectively integrated into the strategy for tackling
  early school leaving.

− The DES will support the further development of the School Completion Programme as a
  collaborative, integrated services-based response to early school leaving and strengthen the
  capacity of the programme to evaluate progress and outcomes on an ongoing basis. To date,
  400 schools have been included in the School Completion Programme (288 primary and 112
  post primary). The expansion of the School Completion Programme is being considered in the
  context of the review of disadvantage programmes currently underway in the Department.

− Rollout of services by the National Educational Welfare Board will continue, with priority
  being accorded to disadvantaged communities. Five regional teams have now been established
  with bases in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford and staff have been deployed
  since early December 2003 in areas of greatest disadvantage and in areas designated under the
  Government's RAPID programme. 13 towns with significant school going populations, 12 of
  which are designated under the Government's RAPID programme, also now have an
  Educational Welfare Officer allocated to them. These towns are Dundalk, Drogheda, Navan,
  Athlone, Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford, Bray, Clonmel, Tralee, Ennis, Sligo and Letterkenny. In
  addition, the Board will follow up on urgent cases nationally where children are not currently
  receiving an education. The Board issued an information leaflet to 330,000 families and 4,000
  schools in early March 2004. In addition, the Board launched a new Lo-call telephone number
  to inform parents and guardians about their legal role and responsibilities under the Education
  (Welfare) Act. Work is also proceeding on the establishment of a register for 16 and 17
  year olds who leave school to enter employment, as provided for under the Act. The
  Board has sought the first comprehensive data returns from schools in relation to
  attendances/absences in the 2003/04 school year and these will assist it in keeping the level
  of need for the new service in particular areas under review.



                                                                                                  30
− Work has commenced on developing a five-year Traveller Education Strategy. An external
  expert has been appointed to lead the process, who works under the broad direction of the
  Educational Disadvantage Committee, with a joint working group drawn from the Educational
  Disadvantage Committee and the Advisory Committee on Traveller Education. The main focus
  of the Traveller Education Strategy exercise will be to review/evaluate existing activities, the
  wide range of inputs, the quality of outcomes and the experience of traveller learners within the
  education system. The strategy will provide recommendations on the way forward in relation
  to Traveller education and will also recommend a phased implementation plan. Work on the
  Traveller Education Strategy commenced in autumn 2003 and is expected to be completed in
  early 2005.

− A senior official in the Department has been appointed to take a lead role in co-ordinating the
  measures and support services in place to facilitate Traveller participation at every level of the
  education system. A national evaluation report on Pre-Schools for Travellers has recently been
  completed. Guidelines on Traveller education were prepared through a consultative process
  and were issued to all primary and post primary schools in March 2002. Guidelines on
  intercultural education in the curriculum at primary level have been submitted by the
  National Council for Curriculum and Assessment to the Department and guidelines at
  post-primary level are nearing completion. It is planned to publish the guidelines for
  primary schools in the coming months.

Objective 4

To implement targeted pilot initiatives on workplace basic education, literacy, numeracy and ICT
literacy in those sectors where the need is greatest.

Developments

− The National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) has trained a number of tutors to provide literacy
  programmes in the workplace and will continue to promote the availability of the service
  among employer organisations. Following a successful pilot with five local authorities, a
  workplace literacy programme has been introduced in all local authority areas for local
  authority workers.

− NALA and FAS Services to Business are co-operating in developing pilot projects on
  workplace literacy.

Objective 5

To ensure adult learning opportunities are particularly targeted at those in disadvantaged
communities.

Priority will be given to ensuring that all those who have already left school have an opportunity to
address any lack of educational and related qualifications that militates against their ability to
participate fully in society, the economy and employment. Investment in educational provision will
be prioritised in favour of those most at risk and will be used to optimise access, participation and
outcomes for disadvantaged groups at every level of the system.

Developments

− The Back to Education Initiative (BTEI) part-time measure involves the use of provision of
  PLC, pre-Leaving Certificate/Junior Certificate, VTOS, Youthreach and Senior Traveller
  Training programmes on a part-time basis. The BTEI will play a key role both in addressing

                                                                                                  31
    the needs of those with minimal or no educational qualifications and providing a re-entry route
    for those who wish to upgrade their skills in line with emerging needs. Access to information
    and communications technology training, electronic technician training, language skills,
    enterprise development, business, tourism, art and craft, child care and a broad range of
    disciplines within the industry and services sector will form part of the approach as will access
    to the Junior and Leaving Certificate examinations and other access programmes. Community
    education opportunities will be expanded and supported as part of the initiative, given the
    success of the model in reaching very marginalised groups. A particular priority will be to
    increase provision at Foundation and Level 1 or equivalent for those with low skills and to
    ensure a progression bridge is in place for students from the adult literacy service. Nearly 7,400
    places were provided in 2003 and a similar number of places are being provided for in 2004.

− A network of 34 community education facilitators has been put in place throughout the
  country. These posts are based in the VECs and their role is to support the development of
  new community-based learning groups, to network providers and help them access funding, to
  share good practice and monitor quality, and to promote the development of partnerships with
  the statutory sector, particularly in relation to outreach and referral. These posts will be an
  important support for the community strand of the Back to Education Initiative.

− The Education Equality Initiative commenced in 2000. This initiative seeks to address
  educational disadvantage through the targeted allocation of funding. The first phase of the
  initiative involved 18 projects throughout the country. The target groups include lone parents,
  Travellers, men and women experiencing rural isolation or urban deprivation and adults with
  special needs literacy difficulties. An evaluation report on the initiative has noted that
  examination of the projects 'clearly demonstrates the positive impact of EEI' for the individual
  and for the education sector. Participants experienced 'a change in attitude to education leading
  to a positive engagement, and increased enthusiasm and thirst for learning' and the
  development of a broad range of skills. The report suggested that Phase 2 should fund fewer
  projects but provide a higher level of support, seek a more interventionist support service and
  consequently expect 'higher delivery outcomes'. The ten projects to be funded in phase 2
  (2003-06) will address a variety of educational disadvantage experienced by adults including
  men in rural isolation, adults with disabilities, lone parents, rural unemployed, inner city early
  school leavers, non-nationals, women and travellers.

− Funding for adult literacy programmes continues to increase with a consequent rise in the
  number of participants. The National Development Plan set a target of 113,000 participants on
  such programmes for the period 2000-06. There were 100,000 participants in adult literacy
  programmes between 2000-2003. A new TV literacy series will be broadcast in autumn 2004
  aimed at adults with a basic education requirement. The emphasis in this series will be on
  technological applications such as bank ATMs, the use of websites, spreadsheets, mobile
  phones and other increasingly common uses of technology expected in a modern economy.
  Past series have proven very popular with widespread audience recognition. Copies of the
  programmes are freely available along with a tuition support pack.

Objective 6

To support the development of student councils.

Student Councils are expressly provided for in the Education Act 1998 and their role is to promote
the interests of the school and the involvement of students in the affairs of the school in co-
operation with the board of management, parents and teachers.



                                                                                                   32
Developments

− Guidelines to assist schools and students in the establishment of student councils have been
  circulated to every second-level school by the Department of Education and Science.

− A recent survey by the Department reveals that student councils have already been established
  in 558 of the 743 post primary schools in the State. Officials of the Department are
  participating in a Working Group on Student Councils, which was established in June 2003 by
  the National Children's Office. The Working Group, as part of its brief, will seek to identify the
  barriers, if any, to the establishment of student councils and the measures needed to encourage
  the establishment of such councils, including supports for structures at both national and local
  level. On 23 March 2004, as part of the ongoing work of the Working Group, the Minister for
  Children, Mr. Brian Lenihan T.D., launched a Website (http://www.studentcouncil.ie/) and a
  national leaflet and poster campaign to encourage and support the establishment and operation
  of student councils.

− The Working Group will report on their findings, including a proposed three year strategy to
  support the establishment and development of student councils, by December 2004.

Objective 7

To progress implementation of the National Youth Work Development Plan, 2003 – 2007 on a
phased basis.

The Plan, which is being managed by the National Youth Work Advisory Committee, will provide
a blueprint for the development of Youth Work in Ireland for a period of five years.

Developments

− The Plan was published in August 2003 and the Minister for Youth Affairs has identified two
  priority areas for implementation i.e. the commencement of a Child Protection Training
  Programme for the Youth Work Sector and the appointment of an Assessor of Youth Work.
  Work has commenced on both of these priorities. The post of Project Manager to oversee
  the implementation of the Child Protection Training Programme was advertised earlier
  this year and it is expected that an appointment will be made in the very near future.
  Preparations are also being made for the selection and appointment of an Assessor of Youth
  Work.

− The implementation of further elements of the Plan in 2004 will be progressed on a priority
  basis, having regard to available funding resources. €500,000 is available for further
  implementation of the Plan in 2004.

Objective 8

To evaluate extent of compliance with Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act, 1996.

The Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act, 1996 provides for proactive information
provision, inspection of workplaces, and prosecution where appropriate.




                                                                                                 33
Developments

− The Labour Inspectorate of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment will
  concentrate on both daytime and nighttime inspection activity. The nighttime element of the
  work will have a particular focus on enforcement of the Protection of Young Persons
  (Employment) Act, 1996.

− The Employment Rights Information Unit of the Department has conducted a proactive
  awareness campaign in 2003, with all second-level schools being circulated with information
  on employment law, including details of the Protection of Young Persons (Employment) Act,
  1996. Staff of the Unit visit second-level schools, citizen information centres and other
  organisations to disseminate information on general labour law, including the Protection of
  Young Persons (Employment) Act, 1996. The campaign, which has been conducted over the
  last number of years, will be continued in 2004 as resources permit.




                                                                                           34
(2.9) Waste Management
                                                                                               EHLG

Government will, under this theme, continue to work with the social partners to develop a shared
understanding of the actions necessary to underpin the effective management of the waste
management problem. As is recognised in the agreement, waste management remains one of the
major challenges facing Irish society. Nevertheless, further advances can be reported on a number
of the issues, identified in the agreement, on which progress is dependent.

The national overview of Waste Management Plans has been completed and published together
with a policy commentary - Waste Management: Taking Stock and Moving Forward. A draft
National Strategy on Biodegradable Waste has also been published for consultation in 2004; setting
out the measures to progressively divert biodegradable municipal waste from landfill. Comments
were invited from relevant stakeholders and other interested parties on the draft strategy document.
It is envisaged that the National Strategy on Biodegradable Waste will be finalised before the end
of 2004.

In terms of enforcement, a range of considerably strengthened powers has been provided for in the
Protection of the Environment Act 2003. In addition, €7m has been allocated to local authorities for
the first year of a major 5-year programme of enforcement of the waste laws and a new Office of
Environmental Enforcement has been established within the Environmental Protection Agency. A
Core Prevention Team has also been established within the Agency, tasked with the development of
a National Waste Prevention Programme in co-operation with other stakeholders. €2m is being
provided from the Environment Fund for its initial operations.

The development of markets for recyclable materials is to be taken forward under the aegis of a
Market Development Group, which has been established. Enterprise Ireland will provide the
necessary secretariat and administrative supports. €1m is being provided from the Environment
Fund for its initial operations. Proposals for a Recycling Forum are being developed.

€83m is available from the Environment Fund (financed by the proceeds of the Plastic Bags and
Landfill Levies) to support a wide range of waste-related initiatives in 2004. Some €22m was
allocated to support the delivery of waste recovery and recycling facilities that are destined to lead
to a significant increase in the provision of bring banks and civic amenity sites in particular. To
accelerate the provision of additional waste infrastructure of this nature, a further €25m in grants
has been allocated in 2004.

It is estimated that the Plastic Bag Levy, which has dramatically cut down on the use of plastic
shopping bags and is encouraging a culture of re-use will raise €12m during 2004. The Landfill
Levy, which has provided a further disincentive to landfill, is expected to see 2004 receipts of some
€30m.

The development and implementation of a number of key Producer Responsibility Initiatives
(PRI's) is now a major priority. The success of the initiatives in the packaging waste and farm
plastics areas are now being built on with work underway in cooperation with the relevant
stakeholders on similar initiatives in areas such as End-Of-Life Vehicles, newsprint, tyres, batteries
and waste electrical and electronic equipment to be introduced between now and mid-2005. An
annual report was published by the National Construction and Demolition Waste Council on the
recycling of C&D waste in October 2003 and a joint Voluntary Industry Initiative aimed at
increasing the recycling of C & D waste was launched in September 2004. In addition the draft
report of the Taskforce on the Implementation of the EU Directives on Waste Electrical and
Electronic Equipment (WEEE) and on the Restriction on Hazardous Substances (RoHS) in


                                                                                                   35
Electrical and Electronic Equipment was published in April 2004. A public consultation was
carried out and a final report will issue in 2004.

A ban on the landfill of most commercial packaging waste was introduced with effect from 1 March
2003. The regulations require all producers to segregate and recycle packaging waste arising on
their own premises into specified waste streams – i.e. waste glass, paper, aluminium, steel,
fibreboard, wood and plastic sheeting- and have it collected by authorised operators for recycling.
This will support the achievement of higher targets in relation to the recovery of packaging waste
by 2005.

In terms of securing the type of 'shared understanding' which Sustaining Progress highlights is
required in relation to waste, a major information and awareness campaign 'Race Against Waste'
was launched in October 2003. The campaign combines high quality impact advertising (to
heighten awareness in relation to reuse and recycling activities and to turn that awareness into
action) and a communication programme designed to provide better information on a range of
waste-related issues and to target certain sectors for specific attention.

The campaign is being assisted by the Social Partners and others through their membership of a
National Advisory Group and by a range of players at regional level though three Regional
Networks. Further funding has been committed to a multi-annual awareness and communications
programme to follow the first phase of the campaign, which concluded in the summer of 2004.
Also, a new INTERREG Funded cross border waste awareness campaign launched in
September 2004 builds on the northern "Wake up to Waste" and southern "Race Against
Waste" campaigns. It is focused on the cross border area and brings together current
communications activities for waste awareness developed to implement the waste
management strategy and waste management plans north and south.

The concerns raised by the Social Partners about equity issues in relation to the availability of
waivers in respect of waste charges have been acknowledged. This issue is currently being
examined by the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government in
conjunction with the Department of Social and Family Affairs.




                                                                                                36
(2.10) Improving the Health of the Nation - Tackling Alcohol and Drug Misuse

(2.10.1) Alcohol misuse
                                                                                                    HC

Alcohol Consumption and related harm
In the last decade, Ireland has had the highest increase in alcohol consumption among EU countries.
Between 1990 and 2002, alcohol consumption per capita in Ireland increased by 41% while ten of
the European Union Member States showed a decrease and three other countries showed a modest
increase during the same period.

Related harm has also increased in parallel with increased consumption. This harm extends beyond
physical health issues to mental, social and financial problems and range from a once off problem
(fall, accident, fight, unprotected sex, violence) to a recurring problem (poor school/work
performance, financial hardship, relationship difficulties), chronic illness (cancer, liver damage) and
to a sustained dependence (alcoholic disorder).

Drinking patterns have been influenced by changing lifestyles and expectations. More disposable
income and a strong focus on consumerism has ensured a dynamic relationship between market
place and consumer. Young adults (18-25 year olds) are more likely to engage in binge drinking (5
or more drinks in a row for female; 7 or more in a row for male) when they drink, but drink less
frequently than older age groups. This pattern of drinking is significant in that acute problems such
as trips and falls, alcohol poisoning, incidents of unintentional sex, public order offences etc tend to
occur when individuals drink to excess on a single occasion.

Policy Context and Aims

The overall aim of the National Alcohol Policy, launched in 1996, is to reduce the level of alcohol-
related problems and to promote moderation for those who wish to drink. Since the publication of
the National Alcohol Policy, several important initiatives have taken place, utilising the health
promoting settings approach such as schools, informal youth sector and colleges. Research, training
programmes and greater enforcement of regulations have also been implemented.

The Strategic Task Force on Alcohol was established in January 2002, as recommended in the first
report of the Commission on Liquor Licensing. The remit of the Task Force is to identify,
following an examination of international research on effective policy measures, evidence based
measures to prevent and reduce alcohol related harm. The Task Force is broadly representative and
has representation from the Community and Voluntary Sector. The Task Force has produced two
Reports, the second of which was launched by the Minister for Health and Children on 22nd
September 2004 containing recommendations aimed at preventing and reducing alcohol related
harm. These recommendations include legislative, educational, strategic and research measures.

Key actions and Progress Made

Action: Implementation of recommendations arising from the Interim Report of the Strategic Task
Force on Alcohol which was established to recommend evidenced based measures to Government
aimed at reducing and preventing alcohol related harm.

Progress Made: A Report of the Interdepartmental Group (established to coordinate responses to the
recommendations) has been presented to Government. Progress has been made on a number of
recommendations. A summary report on the progress to date is available. Coordination issues are
being addressed via the IDG Group.


                                                                                                     37
A second report was published in September 2004 which contains further measures aimed at
reducing alcohol related harm.

Action: Progress legislation on reducing exposure of young people to alcohol marketing.

Progress: The Heads of a Bill have been agreed by Government and are currently with
Parliamentary Counsel. It is expected that this legislation will be drafted by the end of 2004/early
2005.

Key Progress Indicators Report

In the December 2001 and December 2002 budgets, excise duty on cider and spirits were increased.
As a result, alcohol sales figures for both cider and spirits significantly decreased, demonstrating
that increased taxes do influence alcohol consumption.

It is too early in the life of the Actions outlined above for a significant reduction in alcohol-related
harms, such as alcohol related accidents, mortality and public order offences, to have occurred.
Progress in this area is also dependent on the extent to which the Task Force recommendations are
implemented.

Expected Progress over remaining lifetime of Sustaining Progress

− Legislation completed on the Alcohol Products Bill

− Commencement of the implementation of the recommendations contained in the second
  report of the Strategic Task Force
− Alcohol awareness campaign commenced/continued

And ultimately, as a result of the above developments, a reduction in alcohol consumption and
related harm.


(2.10.2) Drug misuse
                                                                                                CRGA

Special Initiative on Drug Misuse
In relation to the Special Initiative on Drug Misuse, a scoping paper was prepared for the Steering
Group meeting in June 2003. The paper outlined the key objectives, relevant strategies and actors
for the National Drugs Strategy which was launched in 2001 and will run until 2008. The paper
also contained an analysis and identification of the key components required to achieve the
objectives. These included the ongoing co-operation of the various Departments and Agencies and
the continued support from the community and voluntary sectors.

The National Drugs Strategy sets out 100 actions to be carried out by a range of Government
Departments and Agencies in that period under the four strategic pillars of Supply Reduction,
Prevention, Treatment and Research. The implementation of the Strategy is co-ordinated by the
Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

In addition, the regular meetings of the Inter-Departmental Group on Drugs help identify key
components and possible obstacles in the Strategy. A Critical Implementation Path has also been
completed which sets out steps which each Department/Agency is taking to ensure that the actions
set out for them in the Strategy, are implemented. A Progress Report covering the first three years
of the Strategy will be published later in the year.

                                                                                                     38
The Strategy provides for an independent evaluation of the effectiveness of the overall framework
by the end of this year. This will examine the progress being made in achieving the overall key
strategic goals set out in the Strategy and will enable priorities for further action to be identified and
a re-focusing of the Strategy, if necessary for the remaining period up to 2008.

To this end, a Review Steering Group has been set up to manage and oversee the mid term
evaluation and is chaired by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. The
Group's representatives include:


 −   D/Health & Children
 −   D/Justice, Equality & Law Reform
 −   D/Education & Science
 −   Garda Siochána
 −   ERHA
 −   NACD
 −   NDST
 −   Prison Service
 −   Voluntary Sector
 −   Community Sector

As happened when the Strategy was originally being developed, submissions have been invited
from members of the public and other interested parties for views on how the Strategy will be re-
focused if necessary, from the remaining period up to 2008. It is hoped to have the review
completed by late 2004/early 2005.

Work is ongoing on most of the 100 actions under the Strategy and the original scoping paper
outlined progress in a number of areas. In this context, as per last six-monthly report, over one third
of actions are completed or are ongoing tasks over the life of the Strategy while most of the
remaining actions are the subject of ongoing work.

In relation to progress to date,

 − The Customs and Excise have launched a coastal watch programme and have implemented a
   number of measures to enhance drugs detection capability at points of entry;
 − Guidelines to assist schools in the development of a drugs policy have also been developed and
   were issued to all primary and post primary schools in May 2002;
 − The Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) Programme has been a compulsory subject
   on the curriculum of primary and post primary schools since September 2003.
 − Considerable progress is also being made as regards increasing the number of methadone
   treatment places. The number of places at the end of August 2004, the latest date for which
   confirmed figures are available, was 7,091 exceeding the target of 6,500 set in the Strategy.
   The equivalent figure at the end of 2000 was 5,032;
 − The Department of Health and Children launched the first phase of a National Awareness
   Campaign in May 2003, a number of phases have been launched since.
 − Over 1,120 recovering drug misusers are now on the Special FÁS Community Employment
   Scheme.
 − In total, the Government has allocated or spent just under €90m to implement projects
   contained in both sets of plans of the Task Forces since 1997.




                                                                                                       39
− Approximately €12.7m has been allocated to 60 capital projects under the Premises Initiative,
  which is designed to meet the accommodation needs of community based drugs projects, the
  majority of which are in Local Drugs Taskforce (LDTF) areas.

In addition, approximately €86.5m has been allocated to support approximately 450 facility and
services projects in LDTF areas and the four other urban centres under the Young Peoples Facilities
and Services Fund, which is currently on its second round of funding.

Finally, in relation to the Regional Drugs Task Forces, all are now up and running and meeting
regularly. They are currently working on mapping out the patterns of drug misuse in the area as
well as services already available in the area with a view to co-ordinating these existing services
and addressing gaps in service provision.




                                                                                                40
(2.11) Including Everybody in the Information Society
                                                                                                TAO

'Including Everybody in the Information Society' or 'eInclusion' is currently being dealt with as part
of the Government's Information Society Action Plan; 'New Connections'. The Government
continues to work with the Social Partners to identify and implement priority actions necessary to
ensure that all citizens benefit from ICTs.
As outlined in the Agreement, 'measure are needed to build the capacity necessary to support
inclusive Information Society development, to facilitate access and to actively promote participation
particularly among those on low income and late adopters'. In this regard, a key actions paper has
been completed and circulated to the Social Partners. Key actions include:-
− Continuation of the mainstreaming of Information Society issues
− Identification of the key components of a revised eInclusion implementation strategy, including
  funding, particularly focusing on those on low incomes and late adopters
− Examination of the research commissioned by the Information Society Commission (ISC) on
  how the digital divide is being tackled nationally relative to other countries and the need for
  further policy initiatives.
− Examine how and in what manner ICT literacy can be incorporated as a core focus of all
  relevant Government funded education and training provision
− Initiate a consultation process on how the ICT capacity of the community and voluntary sector
  can be built.
Considerable Progress has been made in implementing these actions. Progress to date includes:-
− Publication for the first time ever of CSO Statistics on how ICTs are being used in Ireland
  today
− Identification of eInclusion as an important element in minimising the risk of exclusion in the
  National Action Plan against Poverty and Social Exclusion 2003-2005·
− Mainstreaming of Information Society initiatives · (including eGovernment initiatives) in the
  Statements of Strategy of all Government Departments and Agencies.
− Completion, in co-operation with the relevant Departments, Bodies, organisations and bodies,
  of a comprehensive review of national eInclusion policy. This review examined and
  considered the Itech Research Report, commissioned by the ISC, as well as the evaluations of
  the CAIT Initiative, the Equalskills Project and the Muintir na Tire Project.
− Development of a revised national eInclusion Implementation Strategy
− Examination of the involvement of local government in fostering appropriate partnerships
  between the business community, the education/training sector and community development
  groups to respond to local ICT training and literacy needs, has begun.
− Agreement at the meeting between Minister for the Information Society, Mary Hanafin T.D.
  and the Social Partners that ICT literacy and training is a core priority to be progressed jointly
  under this Special Initiative.
− Launch of the Mobhaile Community and Voluntary Services Project in April 2004·
− Undertaking of an analysis of the ICT needs and the ICT capacity of the Community &
  Voluntary Sector by NUI Maynooth.
− Putting in place an Advisory Group to consider the findings of NUI Maynooth needs
  analysis and the pilot Mobhaile C&V Projects.

In addition, it was agreed at the recent meeting between Minister Hanafin and the Social Partners
that three priority areas requiring joint concerted action were:-



                                                                                                   41
− Awareness of the potential and benefits of the Information Society,
− ICT literacy and training, and
− Promotion of the benefits of the Information Society.

Based on the ideas and approach to be submitted by Partners, these three areas will be further
advanced.

The Mobhaile C&V initiative is now up and running, on a pilot basis, in seven Local
Authorities. Work is continuing on the needs analysis research for the Community and
Voluntary Sector by a team comprising members of the Computer Science and Social Science
Departments of Maynooth NUI.
A fifth series of the TV programme "Read Write Now" is being broadcast by RTE in the
form of 12 half-hour programmes and repeated later in the same week. This series features an
ICT programme targeted at people with basic education needs. The series will cover use of
bank ATM machines, websites, spreadsheets and other applications that are in common use in
a modern economy.
The Chambers of Commerce of Ireland and the Local Government Computer Services Board
(LGCSB) are in discussions on the use of the MoBhaile infrastructure by Enterprises that
wish to go online.




                                                                                            42
(2.12) Ending Child Poverty
                                                                                              SFA

A key target of the revised NAPS, Building an Inclusive Society, is to reduce the numbers of
children who are consistently poor to below 2% by 2007 and, if possible, eliminate consistent
poverty. Preliminary data for 2001 indicates that some 6.5% of children were living in consistent
poverty representing a significant fall from a level of 15.3% in 1997 although this remains higher
than the overall level of consistent poverty of 5.2%.

The Office for Social Inclusion in the Department of Social and Family Affairs has lead
responsibility for coordinating this initiative. It is working closely with the National Children's
Office, relevant Government Departments, the Combat Poverty Agency and the Social Partners in
developing and implementing a multi dimensional policy response.

A number of policy issues and objectives which must be progressed in order to meet this objective
have been identified. It has been agreed to commission a study to look at the effectiveness of
merging Child Dependant Allowance and Family Income Supplement. The terms of reference
for the study have been finalised and been added to the work programme of the NESC.

The Thematic Report from the Family Fora organised by the Department of Social and Family
Affairs was launched in February 2004 and is available on the Internet at
http://iyf2004.welfare.ie/Family_Life_FINAL.pdf. This will inform the development of a strategy
for strengthening families to be published by the end of 2004.

At the end of April 2004, the National Children's Office, working with the Department of Social
and Family Affairs, issued a request for tenders for a Children's Longitudinal Study that will
examine the progress and well being of children at critical

periods from birth to adulthood. The tenders received are currently being evaluated. Further
analysis will be undertaken to address obstacles to employment, with particular reference to lone
parents, in the light of NESC research and the OECD report on family friendly policies. A paper on
this issue has been prepared by the Office for Social Inclusion for consideration by the Senior
Officials Group on Social Inclusion.

The Department of Education and Science is also represented on the National Economic and
Social Forum project team on early childhood education. This group held its inaugural
meeting on Wednesday, 6 October 2004 and has as its main objectives:

− To identify what progress has been made in relation to the recommendations made in
  recent reports and policy documents on early childhood education and care (ECEC);
− To develop a policy framework which will identify the way forward in ECEC. It will
  identify any obstacles to progress and explore ways of overcoming them;
− To set out an implementation process with key targets and objectives to be achieved at
  policy level over the next five years if an effective, integrated early years service is to
  result.

This project team aims to report back in six months with its findings and recommendations.

An interdepartmental Committee, being established by the Department of Social and Family
Affairs, will commence work in the coming months to examine issues relevant to parenting alone.
Work is ongoing in relation to improving linkages between Departments and Agencies with
responsibility for children.


                                                                                                43
Work on the Ending Child Poverty initiative will be closely aligned to other Special Initiatives
relating to Care, Educational Disadvantage and Long term Unemployed and Vulnerable Workers to
ensure that the child poverty dimension of each is fully addressed.

The Minister for Social and Family Affairs held a bi-lateral meeting with the social partners, on
June 29th, 2004, on the Ending Child Poverty Special Initiative. At this meeting the social partners
were updated as to developments in relation to this initiative.


                                                                                                   ES

Early Education

The Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education was established in September 2001
and is charged with developing appropriate quality standards in relation to the wide range of issues
affecting early childhood education in pursuance of the objectives in the White Paper on Early
Childhood Education 'Ready to Learn' (1999). It is envisaged that the quality framework would be
capable of being adapted to the various settings in which early learning takes place.

The Centre will also develop appropriate forms of early intervention and support for children from
disadvantaged backgrounds and children with disabilities, building on the experience of existing
programmes. Four substantial pilot projects for targeted interventions have gone out to tender. The
projects address (1) multiple perspectives on quality (2) early intervention for children with special
needs in diverse settings (3) in-career development programme for teachers, assistants and
management in pre-schools for travellers and (4) development of models of best practice.
Responses to the tender are currently under consideration.

An Taoiseach launched an audit of research on early childhood in Ireland, conducted by the Centre,
in September 2003. This research is now available as an online searchable database on the
CECDE's website http://www.cecde.ie/.

An audit of provision for disadvantaged children and children with special needs was launched in
May 2004 by Minister of State for Education and Science, Sile De Valera, TD.

The CECDE has recently published a draft discussion document on a conceptual framework
describing how children from birth to six years develop and learn. The draft discussion document
also identifies appropriate learning goals and objectives.

To ensure that the Centre draws on the widest possible expertise, its newly formed Consultative
Council (which includes 43 of the major stakeholders in the sector), held its inaugural meeting in
late September 2003. A further meeting of the group was held in May 2004.

The Department of Education and Science launched the OECD Thematic Review of Early
Childhood Education and Care Policy in Ireland at an international conference on early
childhood education and care, held in Dublin Castle in September, 2004. The conference,
organised by the Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education, discussed a wide
range of issues in the field of early childhood education and care.

The OECD report makes a number of recommendations across the key areas of access,
quality and co-ordination. An information booklet has also been launched to summarise the
main findings and recommendations of the OECD review team. Both the OECD report and
the background report are available for download from the Department of Education and



                                                                                                   44
Science website at http://www.education.ie/,             and    on     the   OECD       website    at
http://www.oecd.org/edu/earlychildhood.

Following an extensive consultation process with a wide range of agencies (including the CECDE)
and individuals working in the sector, the NCCA has published Towards a Framework for Early
Learning. This consultative document focuses specifically on learning through early childhood from
birth to six years. It will act as a stimulus for further engagement with practitioners, academics and
policymakers on the topic of a national framework for early education.


                                                                                                  HC

Health boards directly provide or fund a range of diversified targeted parenting interventions
throughout the country. Access to these services is often by referral from a statutory or voluntary
service and participants are likely to be known to child & family services.

Parenting programmes are provided by services such as the Community Mothers, Family Support
Workers, Teen Parents Projects, and Spring Board Projects and encompass specific interventions
such as Parents Plus programme, the Family First Parenting Initiative as well as a range of general
parenting programmes and supports. A census of all family support services including parenting
programmes is currently underway as part of the National Review of Family Support Services.

A Review of Family Support Services was established in 2003. The comprehensive review will
inform the planning process for the period 2004–2007 and will ensure the balanced future
development of services provision. In order to achieve this, it is necessary to develop a clear
strategic statement to guide the development and operation of appropriate family support services
by Health Boards. A Steering Group which includes Department of Health & Children officials and
nominees of the health board Chief Executive Officers Group was appointed to manage the review.
The Steering Group appointed a Consultative Forum, representative of the major stakeholders in
family support whose purpose is to support and advise the Steering Group. This Consultative
Forum includes representatives from various sectors including the National Children's Office, other
relevant Government Departments, the voluntary sector and service users. The Review will report
by the end of 2004.

The National Children's Office (NCO) current focus on the issue of child poverty is on co-
ordination between the childcare and early education areas. In June 2003, the Cabinet Committee
on Children approved the establishment of a high level group to consider the need for, and the
options for implementation of, an integrated national policy between the childcare and early
education areas, so that the policies, services and initiatives relating to them, can be coordinated
more effectively across the various Departments having a function in the area.

The High Level Working Group on Childcare and Early Education have formulated a workplan to:

− Identify the current problems/weaknesses;

− Formulate a clear national policy position;

− List the options for progress in the short and longer term with a particular focus on
  organisational arrangements.

The High Level Working Group aims to report back to the Cabinet Committee on Children by the
end of 2004.



                                                                                                   45
In relation to the accelerated provision of play environments for local communities, the National
Children's Office in March, 2004, published Ready, Steady, Play: A National Play Policy. The
Policy addresses the issue of provision of public play facilities for children in Ireland up to the age
of 12, and covers a five year period from 2004 to 2008. The Policy provides a framework for the
development of public play facilities in Ireland with the overall aim of ensuring that children have
access to a range of quality play opportunities to enrich their childhood.                  The main
recommendations of the Policy include:


− Extended use of creative landscaping;
− Expansion of playgrounds and other play spaces;
− The creation of a more child-friendly environment through planning, traffic calming, home
  zones, cycle ways and walkways to school;
− Development of County Play Plans by City/County Development Boards;
− Use of development contributions to fund play facilities;
− Local authorities to consider insuring and maintaining community play facilities;
− The establishment of a national Play Resource Centre to provide information and advice,
  particularly to Local Authorities.

Over €2 million has been allocated in 2004 under a grants scheme for the development or
refurbishment of local authority playgrounds. Additional funding of €3 million is being provided
to support the development of playgrounds in RAPID areas. The funding for this scheme will be €3
million for the current year; €1.5 million from the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht
Affairs' RAPID fund and €1.5 million which is being made available to that Department by the
Department of Health and Children.




                                                                                                    46
(3) MACROECONOMIC POLICY
(3.1) Overall Objective
                                                                                               FIN

The central macroeconomic objective is to consolidate the progress of recent years and to achieve a
medium term growth rate capable of sustaining high levels of employment and facilitating the
evolution of a more equal society. Securing competitively low inflation, sustainable public finances
and social, economic and environmental sustainability are central to achieving this objective.


(3.1.1) Context
                                                                                               FIN

Average employment in 2003 increased by 33,600 or 1.9 per cent, when compared to 2002. The
average unemployment rate was 4.6 per cent in 2003, compared to 4.4 per cent in 2002.
Employment has grown by an average of 2.7 per cent in the first half of this year, when
compared to the same period in 2003. Unemployment has averaged 4.4 per cent to June this
year.

Against the background of an improving global economy, we published our economic projections
with the Budget on 3 December last. GNP growth was expected to average 3½ per cent over the
period 2003-2006 on the basis of a favourable international environment, sustained improvements
in productivity, renewed domestic and international competitiveness and the effective tackling of
supply-side constraints. With the publication of the Economic Review and Outlook in August,
we have revised upward our projections for 2004 to GDP growth of 4.7 per cent and GNP
growth of 4.2 per cent. Figures for the first half of 2004 show that GDP and GNP have grown
at rates of 5.1 per cent and 4.7 per cent respectively, compared to the first half of last year.
However, in view of Ireland's openness and small size, a setback in the international economy
would have significant implications for growth in the Irish economy. One such setback is the
continuing increase in oil prices which, if sustained, could impact negatively on global demand and
hence on Irish growth.


(3.1.2) Looking Forward
                                                                                               FIN

Consolidating and building on the economic and social progress attained in recent years, in order to
renew the necessary external and domestic confidence in the competitiveness of the economy and
its potential for continued growth, will require adherence to certain key principles informing
macroeconomic policy as set out in the agreement.


(3.2) Public Expenditure
                                                                                               FIN

Public expenditure will be managed in a cost-effective way and with a focus on key priorities and
value for money so as to support the overall goals of this Agreement, subject to being consistent
with the strategy on the overall balance and a tax level that will facilitate the level of economic
growth necessary to maintain high levels of employment.




                                                                                                 47
(3.2.1) Context
                                                                                              FIN

In 2003, public expenditure was managed in accordance with the targets set out in the Budget and
Revised Estimates for 2003. Overall the net voted spending outturn was on target, just €15 million
less than provided in the Revised Estimates or an increase of 6.5% over 2002.

At end-year there was an Exchequer deficit of €980 million in comparison with the Budget 2003
target of €1,869 million. The General Government Balance for 2003 showed a surplus of 0.2% of
GDP.

For 2004 as a whole, there was a budgeted Exchequer deficit of €2.8 billion and a General
Government deficit of 1.1% of GDP. Following the Exchequer Returns for the third quarter
of 2004, an Exchequer deficit of €1.2 billion and a small surplus on the General Government
Balance are expected. These revised forecasts are based on a combination of additional tax
revenues and spending remaining on target. There is still a continuing need for prudent
management of the public finances.


At end September 2004, overall net voted spending was €22.7 billion, a 6.8 % increase over
the same period in 2003. This compares to a planned increase of 7% for the year as a whole.
Expectations are that spending outturn for the year will be broadly on target, although there
may be some carryover of capital expenditure into next year under the rolling multi-annual
capital envelopes.


(3.2.2) Looking Forward
                                                                                              FIN

Efficiency and Effectiveness of Public Expenditure:
In Budget 2004 the Minister for Finance announced the introduction of multi-annual rolling capital
envelopes for all areas of capital investment covering initially the years 2004-2008. This should
greatly assist the efficient management of major capital programmes and projects.

It is a condition of the individual Department of Finance sanction to Departments incurring
expenditure under the multi-annual investment framework that Departments, and their
agencies, comply with the Department of Finance's guidelines for appraisal of capital projects. A
revised and updated draft of the Department's 1994 guidelines was circulated to Departments
in September for their observations. The new guidelines will be published later this year in
the light of the comments received.

A Steering Group assisted by a Working Group involving the Departments of Finance and the
Taoiseach and the pilot Departments - Transport, Agriculture and Food and Social and Family
Affairs – is developing a pilot project to link Departmental business planning, resource allocation
and output reporting. The report on the pilot project will contain recommendations in regard to the
potential for mainstreaming the pilot model and will examine related issues arising from the
experiences of the Pilot Departments in regard to implementing their strategy statements, business
planning, producing annual reports and the new Management Information Framework (MIF) to
support their business processes generally. A draft final report was submitted by the Steering
Committee to the Financial Management Sub Group of Secretaries General on 28 September
for their consideration and work is now underway on finalising the draft report in light of
their views.


                                                                                                48
Exploring new and innovative service delivery options and evaluating the role of user charges in
effective service delivery on the basis set out in the NESC Strategy Report 2002:

The 2003 and 2004 Estimates took account of this approach.

Sustaining public infrastructural investment:

Capital investment in 2003 was maintained at about 5% of GNP with priority given to funding the
rollout of the key economic and social infrastructure investment programme in the NDP. Under the
multi-annual capital investment envelopes investment in infrastructure (Exchequer and PPP) will be
maintained at 5% of GNP for the period 2004-2008.

Targeting of resources and prioritising of commitments at those most in need:

The policy of giving priority to investment education, health, and social welfare and infrastructure
was continued in the 2004 estimates. The biggest increases in the 2004 Estimates were directed at
education, health, and social welfare. Of the €2.7 billion – or 7% - increase in spending on services
in 2004, some €2.2 billion was for these areas, resulting in gross spending in these areas increasing
by 12%, 8% and 7% respectively. Over the last two years, despite a more difficult economic
environment, spending in these three areas increased by 22%, 21% and 19%, respectively. These
amounted to investment real increases given CPI increases of 4.8% in 2002 and 3.5% in 2003.

Developing a stronger and more transparent monitoring and evaluation culture, and a sharper focus
on evidence-based policy making:

The practice of monthly reporting of progress on public expenditure to Government which took
place during 2003, including regular bi-monthly reports by the four biggest current spending
Departments has been continued in 2004. The Management Information Framework (MIF) is being
rolled out and its development should facilitate the delivery of key information (especially on non-
financial indicators) in order to allow better monitoring of value for money. The pilot project (see
above) on the linking of business planning and resource allocation with outputs should highlight
potential improvement in monitoring progress and securing value for money.

A number of improvements have been introduced to the Expenditure Review Initiative Process.
These include better focusing of reviews on a small number of major policy or significant
expenditure areas, the establishment of a panel of experts to quality assure reviews and an
Expenditure Review Network to provide training and central support for those engaged in carrying
out reviews. The Expenditure Review Central Steering Committee will be asked to approve at
their next meeting a draft report for the Minister reviewing developments since June 2002
and the potential for further improvements to the ERI process.


The Mid-Term Evaluation of the National Development Plan (NDP) Operational Programmes
completed in 2003 has led in the Mid-Term Review to some refocusing of EU co-financed
expenditure. The Government have also accepted the main recommendation of the evaluation that
investment in infrastructure should remain the key priority. The arrangements underpinning the
introduction of capital envelopes, the revision of the capital appraisal guidelines (See above), the
planned changes in the format of public construction projects, etc. (Section 4.2 refers), will help
address issues of cost overruns and management deficiencies in relation to project management
raised in the Mid-Term Evaluation of the NDP.




                                                                                                  49
(3.3) Taxation
                                                                                                 FIN

The objective is to ensure that the tax system facilitates a level of economic growth sufficient to
maintain high levels of employment and quality public services, is fair and able to adapt to
changing economic circumstances.


(3.3.1) Context

(3.3.2) Looking Forward
                                                                                                 FIN
Income Taxation
The Annual Budget/Finance Bill process is the mechanism through which progress is achieved on
the personal income tax commitments in Sustaining Progress. In Budget 2004, available resources
were focused on the lower paid and the elderly, fully in line with the commitment contained in
Sustaining Progress to 'continue to make progress towards removing those on the minimum wage
from the tax net, …..'.    The entry point to taxation for the single person on PAYE was increased
to €12,800 per annum. This is equivalent to 90% of the increased minimum wage annualised
effective from 1 February 2004 (€7.00 per hour). The Budget also increased the Age Exemption
limits. In three years, the limits have increased by almost 44% whereas inflation for the same
period is expected to increase by about 11%.

It might also be noted that objective commentary on the impact of the tax and welfare changes in
Budget 2004 has been largely positive. The ESRI commented in Budget 2004: Impact on Income
Distribution and Relative Income Poverty that:

'Measured against a wage-indexed budget, we find that Budget 2004 favoured low income groups,
particularly those in the bottom half of the income distribution. These saw gains of between 2 and
3½ per cent, over and above a wage-indexed budget. By contrast the net impact of the budget on
the incomes of the top 40 per cent was close to zero, compared with a wage- indexed budget.
Overall the tax and welfare measures contained in budget 2004 could be expected to lead to a small
reduction in the level of relative income poverty'.

In addition the Combat Poverty Agency in Action on Poverty Today Supplement noted that:

'Budget 2004 enhances the progressive focus of recent budgets delivering gains of up to 4 per cent
for low-income groups against a wage index budget, while higher earners record a small loss.
Budget 2004 also has a positive effect on relative income poverty, thereby contributing to
government policy targets'.

As was indicated in the previous progress reports, it was not possible in Budget 2004 to make
progress on the undertaking of moving 'towards the target where 80% of all earners pay tax at not
more than the standard rate'. However, it should be recalled that the Agreement provides that, to
the extent that there is any scope for personal tax reductions, the taxation commitments in the
Agreement are to be achieved over the three Budgets contained within the lifetime of the
Agreement. The agreement also provides that all taxation policy decisions will be guided by the
need to pursue responsible fiscal policies and to maintain the public finances in a healthy condition.

Tax Expenditures:

With regard to tax expenditures, a complete review of all reliefs was undertaken prior to Budget
2003 which prompted the Minister for Finance to announce the termination of a total of 11 reliefs,

                                                                                                   50
mostly in the property area, in the 2003 Budget with effect from 31 December 2004. In his 2004
Budget Speech, the Minister for Finance again returned to this topic and highlighted the fact that tax
reliefs, which include property based schemes, narrow the tax base and, therefore, make it more
difficult to achieve the goal of lower tax rates for all taxpayers. While he extended the termination
date for these reliefs from 31 December 2004 to 31 July 2006, this decision was taken purely in the
context of relieving pressure on construction resources to meet the December 2004 deadline thereby
allowing for an orderly winding down of the schemes. To this end, all of the extensions were
subject to certain interim qualifying conditions, for example the lodgement of planning applications
by 31 December 2004 in order to ensure that only pipeline projects benefit from the additional time
extension.

In accordance with the overall taxation policy of broadening the tax base in order to keep direct tax
rates low, rollover relief for Capital Gains Tax purposes was abolished in Budget 2003. It was also
announced at that time that indexation of the base for computation of capital gains would only be
allowed to be calculated up to 31 December 2002. Such reliefs and allowances made sense when
rates of CGT and inflation were higher.

In order to improve the information available to assist in ongoing reviews of tax expenditures,
following preliminary exploratory work, a senior level group, chaired by an Assistant Secretary in
the Department of Finance, convened last year to discuss the practicalities of data capture via the
tax return forms. The issue of tax expenditures generally was discussed at the Tax Strategy Group
and considered by the Minister in the context of the Budget and Finance Bill 2004.

On foot of this work, the Revenue Commissioners will be introducing a number of changes to the
tax return forms for the self-employed, companies and the PAYE sector in respect of 2004 and to
the P35 form – which is returned to Revenue at end year with totals for earnings and deductions for
each employee - in respect of the tax year 2005.

These changes to the return of income forms will, over time, yield additional information regarding
the cost of various tax reliefs - initially the focus will be on capital allowances. The P35 return will
supply additional data concerning relief in relation to pensions. The necessity to include this
information on the forms was underpinned by legislative changes made in Finance Act 2004.

Other income tax issues:

The Working Group on Refundable Tax Credits concluded its work. In addition, the substance of
the Working Group's report was considered by the Tax Strategy Group in 2001. This report has not
been finally signed off on by the members and submitted to the Department of the Taoiseach.
However, this will be remedied in the near future.

Corporation Tax:

In Budget 2004, the Government introduced a 20% tax credit for incremental expenditure on
research and development (see section 4.4.1).

Carbon Tax:

In September 2004 the Government concluded, after an extensive public consultation process,
that a carbon tax was not an appropriate policy option. Instead, it will intensify action on the
non-tax measures of the National Climate Change Strategy.

A carbon tax would have involved a range of compensation, recycling and tax abatement
measures. Despite these measures, it would be likely to have some net adverse economic and


                                                                                                     51
social effects that would not be fully dealt with by compensatory measures. In addition, it
would impose price increases on many products already suffering sharp increases and would
largely raise revenue from products already subject to existing excise duties and where a new
tax is not specifically necessary to increase tax rates. The Government concluded that the
environmental benefits would not justify the difficulties that would arise, particularly for
households, from the introduction of such a tax.

Alternative policy options, which are being developed at present having regard in particular
to social and administrative considerations, will be put in place to achieve the required
reduction in emissions and ensure compliance with Ireland's Kyoto target. Among the key
measures in the Government's National Climate Change Strategy are switching towards less
carbon-intensive fuels, expanding renewable energy, promoting greater energy efficiency in
transport, industry and construction and a range of measures to reduce emissions from
agriculture. The Strategy will continue to underpin the Government's approach to meeting its
climate change commitments.

Ensuring Tax Compliance:

The Revenue Commissioners have recently advanced a number of key developments which will
have a significant impact on tax compliance:

− An Investigations and Prosecutions Division has been established to deal with prosecution of
  persons involved in serious tax evasion

− A Large Case Division has been established with specific focus on large companies and high
  net worth individuals

− A computerised risk-based selection system which allows for the screening of all tax returns
  against sectoral and business profiles and provides a sophisticated selection basis for cases for
  audit is at an advanced stage of development

− The new code of Practice for Revenue Audits is working very effectively

− Increased resources have been applied to audit programmes

− A comprehensive strategy to improve tax returns compliance is at an advanced stage of
  consideration

− An Offshore Assets Group is in place for the purpose of enquiring into the use, for the purposes
  of tax evasion, of offshore accounts, structures and property. This group is currently advancing
  a number of significant investigations. Revenue recently announced that the aggregate figure
  collected so far from these offshore investigations is almost €650m.

The Revenue Annual Report for 2003 clearly highlights advances in the area of compliance with:

− 16,000 audits carried out yielding €428.65 million, a substantial increase of €160 million on
  2002.

− 627 convictions for failure to file tax returns, 169 convictions for unlicensed trading, 145
  convictions for marked mineral oil offences, and 65 convictions for smuggling and seven
  convictions for Vehicle Registration Tax offences.




                                                                                                 52
− Collection enforcement through solicitors, sheriff and attachment yielding more than €195
  million from more than 43,000 cases. The High Court was petitioned on 15 occasions to
  appoint liquidators to wind up companies.

In March 2003 the Minister for Finance established a High Level Group to examine Revenue
powers and make recommendations by the end of the October for any changes needed. In
announcing the establishment of the Group, the Minister for Finance stated that there was an
ongoing need to take regular stock of the remit of Revenue powers in order to assure the
Government and the public at large that these are meeting the needs of the system and are being
used fully as the Oireachtas intended.
The Minister received the Report of the Revenue Powers Group on 2 December 2003 and published
it, together with Finance Bill 2004, on 4 February 2004. The Group's main recommendations
included:

−   Some new powers for Revenue
−   Some reform of the interest and penalties regime
−   Reduction in interest rate
−   Improving the safeguards and preconditions for the use of certain existing powers
−   Securing in the legislation features of the voluntary disclosure regime
−   Restricted information disclosure from Revenue to other official agencies
−   Extended appeal provisions

Aside from enacting one particular provision – Section 87 of Finance Act 2004 - to enable Revenue
to seek information held by off-shore entities under the control of a domestic financial institution,
which would have arisen regardless of the Group's work, the Minister for Finance has decided to
allow a period of public reflection and debate on these matters, given their undoubted importance.
Consideration of the Group's recommendations will be made in the light of the outcome of this
public debate and in the context of the Budget and Finance Bill 2005.


(3.4) Competitiveness and Inflation
                                                                                                FIN

Renewing competitiveness both within the domestic economy and on the international stage is
central to the overall macroeconomic policy of sustaining non-inflationary, economic growth and
high levels of employment.

(3.4.1) Context
                                                                                                FIN

The annual rate of inflation has moderated significantly in 2004 compared to 2003, with CPI
inflation averaging 1.9 per cent in the eight months to August 2004, compared with an
average of 3.5 per cent for 2003 as a whole. In the Economic Review and Outlook, which was
published in August, we revised downward our Budget Day projection for CPI inflation in
2004 from 2.5 per cent to 2.2 per cent. However the renewed surge in oil prices over the last
two months presents a slight upside risk to this forecast.

Ireland's inflationary performance began to improve in the second half of 2003 and this
continued into the first half of 2004, bottoming out in March at 1.3 per cent, its lowest rate in
over four years. This easing in inflation was due to a number of factors: the appreciation of
the euro exchange rate and a number of mortgage interest rate cuts during 2003, alongside a

                                                                                                  53
moderation in service sector inflation. The effect of the mortgage interest rate cuts has now
ceased to have an effect on the rate of inflation. As a result of this and higher oil prices we
have seen an upturn in the rate of inflation in the second half of 2004. The annual increase in
the CPI in August was 2.6 per cent, although falling again to 2.5 per cent in September.

As agreed under the Anti-Inflation Initiative, a Group comprising officials from the Departments of
the Taoiseach, Finance and Enterprise, Trade and Employment, together with representatives of
ICTU and IBEC has been established to examine ways of bringing down domestically generated
inflation. The Group submitted its first formal report to the Government in November 2003. The
Group was responsible for a major Government-funded campaign - "Price Awareness Pays" -
overseen by the Office of the Director of Consumer Affairs, which was launched towards the end of
last year.



(3.4.2) Looking forward
                                                                                             TAO

The key actions being undertaken across the broad policy headings in this section are set out in
chapter 4 and 5 of this progress report.




                                                                                                54
(4) BUILDING MAINTAINING AND SHARING ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
AND PROSPERITY

(4.1) Overall Objective
                                                                                         Secretariat

The overall objective of this chapter is to ensure that structures in the economy are capable of
consolidating and sharing economic development and prosperity.


(4.1.1) Context
                                                                                         Secretariat

The current economic situation and outlook defines the context in which key deficits in the structure
of the economy and new technology opportunities and other opportunities arising in the global
economy must now be addressed, while maintaining social cohesion. Our dependence on
international competitiveness means that public policy must achieve both a sustainable economic
strategy and widespread and rapid adaptation in the face of changing world economic
circumstances.


(4.1.2) Sustainable Development
                                                                                         Secretariat

Development must be sustainable in social, economic and environmental terms. The Government's
policy for sustainable development seeks to meet these three objectives on an equal footing and in a
way that is mutually reinforcing.

The Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs provides direct and indirect support for
volunteering through a range of its programmes and grant schemes.

Examination of the recommendations in Tipping the Balance, the report of the National Committee
on Volunteering, is continuing in the Department. A sub-group of the Implementation and Advisory
Group on The White Paper on the Voluntary Sector is currently examining the report with a view to
identifying how key recommendations might be progressed. Its work will contribute to the
Department's consideration of the report. The Minister of State addressed the Joint Oireachtas
Committee on volunteering on 30 June.


(4.1.3) National Spatial Strategy
                                                                                             EHLG

The Government published the National Spatial Strategy (NSS) on 28 November 2002 as a 20 year
planning framework designed to enable every part of the country to achieve its potential. The
Strategy aims to build up the strengths of all areas in order to achieve more balanced regional
development and population growth. It recognises that a greater share of economic activity must
take place outside the Greater Dublin Area. To achieve this, the Strategy sets out a framework
within which gateways, hubs and other urban and rural areas will act together to allow areas to
grow.




                                                                                                  55
Regional and local authorities are key players in taking forward the NSS, starting with the
preparation and adoption by regional authorities of regional planning guidelines under the Planning
and Development Act 2000.

In February 2003, Guidance Notes for Regional Authorities on preparing Regional Planning
Guidelines were issued by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to
all regional authorities. Regional authorities, working in partnership with local authorities, have
now commenced this work with the aim of ensuring that the guidelines are in place in all regions by
early 2004. In Summer 2003, all Regional Authorities published Issues Papers for public
consultation in relation to the preparation of Regional Planning Guidelines in their regions.
Subsequently draft Regional Planning Guidelines were published in draft form for public
consultation in all regions and placed on public display for the statutorily required period.
Each Regional Authority Director prepared a detailed report outlining the results of the
public consultation process and the issues raised. These reports were submitted to the
members of the Regional Authorities before the final Regional Planning Guidelines were
adopted. The Planning and Development Act 2000 specifically provides that the Regional
Authority members must consider the results of the public consultation before adopting final
guidelines.

The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government made two legal instruments to
support this process on 1 May 2003. The Planning and Development (Regional Planning
Guidelines) Direction 2003 formally directs each Regional Authority to make Regional Planning
Guidelines for its region - the Dublin and Mid East Regional Authorities have been directed to
jointly review the Strategic Planning Guidelines for the greater Dublin Area and to make new
Regional Planning Guidelines for the whole of the combined area of their regions. The Planning
and Development (Regional Planning Guidelines) Regulations 2003 set out a number of
requirements in relation to the preparation of Regional Planning Guidelines. In particular, by way
of the Regulations, it has been specified that the National Spatial Strategy is of relevance to the
determination of strategic planning policies. This means that Regional Authorities are obliged to
take account of the Strategy when making Regional Planning Guidelines. Regional Authorities are
making good progress on developing the Regional Planning Guidelines to roll out the NSS at
regional level. Draft Regional Planning Guidelines have now been published in all regional
authority areas for a period of public consultation, with the expectation that Regional Planning
Guidelines will have been adopted in all regions by end May 2004. Regional Planning Guidelines
will create a link between national policy as expressed in the NSS and local authority development
plans. As at end May 2004, Regional Planning Guidelines had been adopted in all Regional
Authority regions. Section 27(4) of the Planning and Development Act 2000 provides that
following the making of Regional Planning Guidelines, planning authorities in the region shall
review their existing development plans and consider whether any variation of the development
plan is necessary to achieve the objectives of the Regional Planning Guidelines. The Department
of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government is in the process of preparing Best
Practice Guidance on Implementing Regional Planning Guidelines which will be issued to
Regional and Local Authorities in due course. The Department is also considering the
implications of the adopted Regional Planning Guidelines for the ongoing development of the
gateways and hubs.

Structures and mechanisms to integrate the NSS into planning and activities at Government,
Departmental, State Agency, regional and local level are also being put in place to ensure that the
Strategy directs the spatial aspects of public sector planning, policies and programmes, including
the determination of investment priorities. Already, the NSS has shaped the Strategic Rail Review
and the development of the Forfás regional investment strategy. The NSS also had a major
influence on the mid term review of the National Development Plan completed during 2003. An


                                                                                                56
Interdepartmental Steering Group, similar to that which oversaw preparation of the Strategy, has
been established and is overseeing its implementation.

The successful development of gateways and hubs will require the putting in place of integrated
spatial frameworks for land use, planning, urban design, transport and public service delivery. The
relevant local authorities have primary responsibilities for driving the preparation of these
frameworks, in consultation with relevant public agencies, including those responsible for the
provision of transport and other infrastructure, and translating them into statutory development
plans to guide the development process. Work on the preparation of such frameworks is well
advanced in some gateways, and other gateways and hubs are being advised to advance their plans
as quickly as possible. Other initiatives are underway to support the development of these centres as
they expand to take on the regional development role envisaged for them under the NSS. The Cork
Area Strategic Plan, the Waterford Planning Land Use and Transportation Study and the 'Riverside
City' Initiative in Limerick are some examples. The proposals announced recently for substantial
investment in new suburban rail services in the Cork area provide a significant example of a
direct response from the Government to the planning policies which have been put in place by
the Cork City and County Councils, creating the conditions for accelerating the development
of Cork as a key regional city and gateway in the southwest.

There is ongoing contact between the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local
Government's Spatial Policy Section and its counterpart in Northern Ireland (the NI Department of
Regional Development) in relation to issues of mutual concern. The Spatial Policy Section is also a
participant in the European Spatial Planning Observation Network (ESPON), established to
implement the European Spatial Development Perspective. Members of the Section regularly attend
at ESPON Monitoring Committee meetings. The Spatial Policy Section chaired the meetings of the
ESPON Monitoring Committee during Ireland's EU Presidency in 2004.

The Budget 2004 provisions on decentralisation demonstrate that the Government has a real and
practical commitment to the regional policy agenda. The thrust of the decentralisation proposals is
aimed at making a significant and well-planned contribution to the objectives of the NSS. In
addition to the public sector jobs which decentralisation will bring to different locations, the
programme will also help to build investor confidence in the regions.

In adopting priorities for decentralisation closely aligned with those of the NSS, the Government
has optimised decentralisation's potential role in achieving balanced regional development. One
striking example of this is the way in which the decentralisation programme will provide a good
platform for the development of the new linked gateway of Athlone, Tullamore and Mullingar in
the Midlands. This vote of confidence will help to reinforce critical mass in the region and underpin
its potential to support indigenous growth and attract inward investment. Decentralisation's focus on
gateways such as Limerick/Shannon, Sligo and Waterford and the nearby hubs, Wexford and
Kilkenny, will help to build their national scale and role, and will strengthen their ability to
complement the scale of economic success already evident in Dublin.

The NSS and the decentralisation programme are also good for Dublin. The dynamic new urban and
rural spatial structure to be developed fully over the next 20 years – and to which decentralisation
will now make a significant contribution – will enable Dublin to play to its strengths as a strong and
internationally competitive city region driving both its own economy and national development. It
will enhance the economic and social potential of all regions and will create the conditions under
which more balanced development can be increasingly realised.




                                                                                                   57
On 4 March 2004, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government published a
public consultation draft of Guidelines for Planning Authorities on Sustainable Rural Housing. The
guidelines will be issued in due course as Ministerial Guidelines under Section 28 of the Planning
and Development Act 2000, having regard to the views expressed during the public consultation
process. Section 28 provides that planning authorities and An Bord Pleanála shall have regard to the
provisions of any such guidelines in the performance of their functions. The draft guidelines set out
in detail how the Government's policies on rural housing are to be implemented by planning
authorities in their development plans and in the operation of the development control system to
support the sustainable development of all rural areas. The new guidelines contain a wide range of
measures on the issue of rural or 'one-off' housing, building on the rural settlement policy
framework outlined in the NSS. The guidelines indicate that subject to good planning practice,
people with rural links are to be favoured for planning, as will any applicant applying for
permission in a rural area suffering from population decline. Applicants for housing in rural areas
must meet normal planning requirements in relation to matters such as the proper disposal of waste
water and road safety. The guidelines also contain recommendations concerning site selection and
design of rural houses. It is anticipated that the Guidelines will be issued in their final statutory
form before the end of 2004.


(4.1.4) Public Enterprise
                                                                                         Secretariat

The Government is committed to ensuring that the commercial semi-State sector provides services
of world-class quality at competitive prices to the consumer. This includes seeking to secure a
viable long-term future for State companies without ideological preconceptions: the issue of the
most appropriate form of ownership or structure for State companies will be approached on a case-
by-case basis.


(4.2) Infrastructure

(4.2.1) Funding
                                                                                                FIN

The Government continues to facilitate and support infrastructure delivery demonstrated by the
substantial exchequer provision and other funding mechanisms for programmes in the Transport,
Housing, Environmental Service and Health sectors. To maximise the outputs expected from the
investment provided, administrative and legal impediments must be continually reviewed and
removed to facilitate efficient and effective delivery of programmes.
Following on from his 2004 Budget speech, the Minister announced his intention to introduce
significant changes in the areas of public sector contracts for construction and construction-related
services to complement the new rolling multi-annual investment envelopes, which amount to over
€30 billion in the period out to 2008, and to provide better value for money for the State.

The changes involve:

(i) the development of new standard forms of construction contracts that distribute risks more
optimally between public sector clients and contractors; and
(ii) the introduction of a more cost effective approach to the engagement and payment of
construction-related consultants.



                                                                                                  58
(4.2.2) Public Private Partnership
                                                                                              FIN

The PPP unit in the Department of Finance has developed interim guidelines, Interim Guidelines for
the Provision of Infrastructure and Capital Investments Through PPP's: Procedures for the
Assessment, Approval, Audit and Procurement of Projects (see http://www.ppp.gov.ie/). These
guidelines issued in July 2003. These technical guidelines are predominantly process guidelines for
this new business model for the procurement of infrastructural assets. They identify the main steps
in the procurement of a PPP project. For each of these steps more detailed policy guidelines are
being developed. Guidance on the Role and Function of the Process Auditor issued in 2004.
Revenue Guidance also issued on the Corporation Tax treatment of PPP projects in July 2003. For
information and updates see http://www.ppp.gov.ie/. Consultants have been appointed to assist in
this process by providing research papers on some of the main elements. Consultations regarding
guidelines will continue to take place with IBEC, ICTU and the CIF through the Public
Private Informal Advisory Group with the primary objective of establishing the degree of
standardisation needed to create an attractive market for PPPs.

In Budget 2004, the Minister for Finance established a rolling five year multi-annual investment
framework to provide an appropriate basis to help address the country's infrastructure needs. The
framework sets annual investment at 5% of GNP between 2004 and 2008, which is almost twice the
EU average. The framework also includes an ambitious programme of PPP/NDFA funded
investment. Challenging targets will see the PPP/NDFA contribution increase from 3% of total
investment in 2004 to 15% of total investment in 2008. In monetary terms this amounts to €3.6
billion. This is in addition to a target of €1.35 billion for PPPs funded by user charges over the
same period, giving a total target for PPP/NDFA funded investment of almost €5 billion by 2008.
Within the parameters of the capital investment envelopes and the Guidelines for PPPs,
Departments and Agencies are expected to pursue PPP projects on a value for money basis.


(4.2.3) Procurement
                                                                                              FIN

1. The National Public Procurement Policy Unit (NPPPU) in the Department of Finance is
implementing a procurement management reform strategy. The success of the programme of
change recommended in the strategy is dependent on it being based on a foundation of sound
procurement practices and processes. The focus is on achieving sustainable change through
organisational capacity building, a structured approached to aggregating public sector demand,
improved procurement training and skills transfer, and enhancement of existing e-procurement
systems. Work is ongoing on all elements of the strategy including the following:

− As part of the organisational capacity building initiative, first round procurement improvement
  projects in three areas are complete. Second round projects are well advanced and should
  be completed by December 2004. Significant savings and benefits from improved
  procurement management have been identified.

− Options for aggregating public sector demand in certain markets are under active
  consideration and there are plans to put arrangements in place during 2005. A study of
  public sector procurement options in the electricity market is complete and there are
  plans to test the market in 2005.




                                                                                                59
− Development of a training and education strategy is yet to be completed. Best practice
  guidance material has been developed and will be incorporated into an overarching
  procurement policy framework to be completed by end 2004.

− The national public procurement website http://www.etenders.gov.ie/ was recently enhanced to
  provide on an online facility for publishing notices directly onto the OJEU. This functionality
  means that Ireland has become the first EU country to develop a national “e-sender”
  capability. A facility to allow suppliers to reply electronically to tender opportunities on the
  site is currently being piloted. A “signpost” website www.procurement.gov.ie has been
  developed and we are awaiting final clearance for use. The website will provide links to all
  elements of public procurement available on the internet. The first Irish public sector electronic
  catalogue www.ecat.gov.ie has been developed and is currently being tested.

2. New EU Public Procurement Directives were published in April 2004. The new Directives
update, simplify and introduce greater flexibility to the EU procurement regime. Revised national
guidelines reflecting the provisions of the new Directives [replacing the Green Book in relation to
procurement of supplies and services] have been published. Additional comprehensive guidance is
being developed on an ongoing basis and published on the etenders website.



(4.2.4) Construction Industry
                                                                                             EHLG

The Review of the Construction Industry 2003 and Outlook 2004-2006, which was
commissioned by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, was
published on 3rd September 2004. This was the second of DKM Economic Consultants'
independent reports on the construction industry this year. The Report indicates that the
construction industry continues to perform well and that the trend is towards further growth.
The value of construction output in 2003 was €23.7 billion and is forecast to reach €28.2
billion in 2004, an increase of 19%. These figures demonstrate the significance of the
construction industry in the overall economy, with this year's estimated output representing
almost 24% of Gross National Product, compared with 13% of GNP in 1994.

In 2003, house building exceeded expectations with 68,819 completions and the Review
suggests that total completions could reach 83,000 in 2004, which would represent the tenth
successive year of record house building activity. The strength of the residential housing market
is having a beneficial effect across the construction industry given that other sectors within the
industry are not performing as well. However, the report points to an increasing level of
confidence regarding the prospects for the private non-residential sector and projects growth
of 2% in 2004, while noting that a continued over-supply of office accommodation in some
suburban location will have a dampening effect on new-build activity. The projection for
productive infrastructure sector output is for a 15.5% rise in output in 2004 following a slight
decrease of 1% in 2003.

Based on the prospects for each sub-sector of construction, the report forecasts that the volume
of construction output will increase by 12% in 2004, compared with an increase of 3.6% in
2003.

The record-breaking level of house-building has impacted negatively on construction price
inflation, which was over 7% in 2003. This is expected to moderate to 6% in 2004. When new
private housing is excluded, the average rate of construction inflation was less than 1% in


                                                                                                  60
2003. This compares with a construction inflation rate of 9.5% in 2001. While it is forecast
that the rate, excluding private house building, will rise to 2.3% in 2004, this still allows for a
very good return on expenditure on economic and social infrastructure.
Employment in the construction industry continued to rise throughout 2003 and reached 200,000
in the final quarter of the year. The report suggests that a further increase in the numbers
employed in the industry occurred in the first quarter of 2004 and that these high levels of
employment should be maintained throughout this year. Direct employment in the
Construction industry represents 11% of total employment in the economy.




(4.2.5) Broadband
                                                                                            CMNR

Under the Regional Broadband Programme of the NDP 2000-2006, the Government made funding
available under the National Development Plan for infrastructure investment to ensure the
widespread availability of open-access, affordable, 'always on' broadband for businesses and
citizens throughout the State.

The key element in the short-term was the construction of fibre optic Metropolitan Area Networks
(MANs) in 26 towns and cities in association with the local and regional authorities.

The first 19 Metropolitan Area Networks have now been completed in Cork, Limerick,
Galway, Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford, Waterford, Dungarvan, Clonmel, Athlone, Mullingar,
Portlaoise, Tullamore, Roscommon, Ballina/Kiltimagh, Letterkenny, Carrick-on-Shannon,
Manorhamilton and Gweedore. MANs are also being built in Sligo, Dundalk, Drogheda,
Cavan Town, Monaghan Town, Carrickmacross and Kingscourt.

Funding of €65 million was committed to the MANs projects over the years 2003 and 2004. The
Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources provided 90% of the funding
for each of the MANs, from ERDF and Government funds, and the local authorities funded
the remaining 10%.

The first 19 MANs have been completed on time and under budget. The MANs will remain in
State ownership, and are being managed and marketed by E-Net, who have been awarded the
15-year contract to operate the networks on an open-access basis.

The second phase of the Regional Broadband Programme will see the rollout of MANs in over 90
towns with a population of 1,500 and more that are not being served by the industry. A Call for
Proposals has issued to County Managers in respect of the first 41 of these, and it is expected that
contracts will be in place by year-end 2004. The call for the remaining towns will issue in the New
Year. Government funding of €35 million per year for each of the next three years has been secured
for this programme.

Smaller towns and rural communities will benefit from the Group Broadband Scheme, for which
€35 million of Government funding has been set aside. The Group Broadband Scheme, which is
technology-neutral, will enable rural communities to come together with service providers and
obtain broadband connectivity, with funding assistance up to the maximum allowable under
Community rules. The Group Broadband Scheme is attracting considerable interest. Three schemes
have started, two of which use wireless, the other uses satellite technology. The Department is
currently assessing applications from 26 communities.


                                                                                                 61
The €18 million Broadband For Schools programme is a joint initiative by the Telecommunications
and Internet Federation, the Department of Education and Science, and the Department of
Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, and will see broadband delivered to each of the
4,100 schools in the country by September 2005.


(4.2.6) Transport

Public Transport Partnership Forum

The Public Transport Partnership Forum (PTPF) was established under the Programme for
Prosperity and Fairness and held its first meeting in June, 2000. The Public Transport Partnership
Forum is continuing under Sustaining Progress. The Forum's purpose is to provide a mechanism
for consultation on public transport matters and the development of ideas for the improvement of
the sector. Membership is drawn from the Government and employers, trade unions, farmers and
the community and voluntary sectors. Since its establishment, the Forum has invited key players
and experts in Irish transport to present to it on matters of interest, and has, in its plenary sessions,
studied and discussed draft legislation, transport policy documents and submissions. The Forum has
provided an agreed view to Government on a variety of topics, and has issued eight statements to
date on the following topics:


 −   A New Institutional Arrangement for Public Transport (two statements)
 −   Institutional Arrangements for Land Use in the Greater Dublin Area (two statements)
 −   Proposed Railway Infrastructure Bill
 −   Proposed Railway Safety Bill
 −   Response to Consultation on the Department of Transport Statement of Strategy 2003 – 2005
 −   Response to the report prepared by Steer Davies Gleave for the Department of Transport
     entitled Regulation of Bus Services outside the Greater Dublin Area

The First Report of the Public Transport Partnership Forum June 2000 - June 2002 was published
in September 2002;

The Public Transport Partnership Forum Interim Report July 2002 – June 2003 was agreed and
circulated to the Forum members and placed on the Department's website in June 2003;

The Second Report of the Public Transport Partnership Forum July 2002 – December 2003 was
published on the Department's website in April, 2004.

The Forum will continue to meet regularly to enable it complete its work programme.

Reform of Public Transport Sector

Preparatory work is proceeding on a programme of structural and regulatory reform of public
transport. The Minister for Transport set out his proposals for reform in statements to the Public
Transport Partnership Forum in November, 2002 and to the Oireachtas Committee on Transport in
June, 2003. These have been the subject of continuing consultations with the Social Partners.
Discussions on the Minister's proposals for regulatory reform are taking place with the CIE trade
unions under an independent chair, appointed by the Labour Relations Commission. These talks
were adjourned in September, 2004 to allow for further technical work and the independent
chair will keep in contact with the parties regarding a resumption.



                                                                                                      62
Congestion

The Department of Transport continues to address potential solutions to particular aspects of
congestion in Ireland, in consultation with the DTO, Dublin City Council, the NRA, DoELG
and local authorities particularly Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford. Issues being
examined under this agenda include the use of the hard shoulder, rollout of Quality Bus
Corridors/Green Routes, and pinch points within and outside the Greater Dublin Area.

Hard Shoulders

The Department of Transport has been engaged in discussions with Bus Éireann, Dublin Bus,
Dublin Transportation Office, the Quality Bus Network Project Office and the National
Roads Authority regarding the use of hard shoulders on roads for bus lanes, particularly in
and around the Dublin area. Making hard shoulders available to buses in this manner would
help operators to meet their schedules, thereby making buses a more attractive and feasible
option, and contributing to modal shift from the private car to public transport.

Necessary changes to traffic regulations and traffic signs regulations, required to be applied
to support the provision of bus lanes in hard shoulders or sections of the selected national
road, are being prepared at present. Pending the finalisation of such changes to regulations,
the NRA and the Quality Bus Network Project Office are identifying locations and making
the necessary preparations at those locations where buses will be permitted to use the hard
shoulder.

Quality Bus Corridors

As a result of work by the DTO and the Greater Dublin Area's Local Authorities, nine QBCs have
been commissioned to date - Malahide, Lucan, Stillorgan, Finglas, North Clondalkin, Rathfarnham,
Tallaght, Swords and Blanchardstown – and rollout of further corridors is ongoing.

Between November, 1997 and November, 2003, the peak period (0700 – 1000 hours) patronage on
routes using Quality Bus Corridors increased by 61%, while November, 2003 patronage showed an
increase of 8% on the prior year alone.

In the year ending November, 2003 the bus speeds on the QBC sections of the routes increased
by 14% to 14.74 kph during the AM peak, and the speeds increased by 1% to 13.32 kph
during the PM peak. In that same year, also, the modal share of all journeys made by bus on
the QBC corridors increased by 1.12% to 52.06%. Between 1997 and 2003, the number of
cars crossing the cordon around the centre of Dublin reduced by 25% in the morning peak
period (0700-1000).

Further QBC rollout has been prioritised by the Minister for Transport and funding of €27m has
been allocated in 2004 through the Department's Traffic Management Grants. Ongoing
development of QBCs, as part of a Quality Bus Network (QBN), is the responsibility of the QBN
Project Office, established early in 2003 by Dublin City Council. The funding for 2004 includes
additional QBCs in the Metropolitan area, for example, Foxrock to Bray Bus Priority
Measures (N11 Foxrock Church to Bray) and in the outer area e.g. Orbital QBC (Tallaght to
Liffey Valley via Clondalkin).

Plans are also afoot to accelerate the provision of Quality Bus Corridors/Green Routes in other
urban areas around the country. €8 million is being made available in 2004 for the development of
QBCs in Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford. The Department is in close contact with the local



                                                                                              63
authorities in these cities to help them identify the key issues that need to be addressed on bus
prioritisation.

Integrated Ticketing

The Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) has been mandated to deliver a national scheme of
integrated ticketing with priority implementation in the Dublin area.        Smartcards are being
progressively rolled out on public transport services. In early April, with the co-operation of the
RPA, a private Bus Operator (Mortons Coaches) launched a smartcard ticketing system on its
services. A similar smartcard system will be available on Luas services by the end of this year and
Dublin Bus will follow next year. The smartcard-based integrated ticketing system is scheduled to
be in place by end 2005.

Rural Transport Initiative

The Rural Transport Initiative (RTI) is funding 34 rural community groups to provide local
transport services on a pilot basis. The RTI is now operational in virtually all counties with some
2,500 transport services being provided on approximately 380 new rural routes established under
the initiative. At this stage, some 20,000 people are using the RTI transport services every month.
The Free Travel Scheme of the Department of Social and Family Affairs was extended to the RTI in
July 2003. While €4.4 million was earmarked for the RTI in the National Development Plan, some
€6 million has actually been provided for the initiative in the two year period ended December 2003
and further funding of €3 million is being provided for the RTI in 2004. A comprehensive
evaluation of the effectiveness of the overall scheme has been completed and the future of the
RTI will now be considered in the light of the Evaluation Report's findings.

Luas

The Luas project has a budget, approved by Government, of €691m (including €82.5m EU funding)
with a provision for risk of €84m and consists of 24km of line in total. Services on the two Luas
lines, from Sandyford to St. Stephen's Green (9kms) and from Tallaght to Connolly Station
(15kms) are operating to wide public acclaim.

A critical success factor in the attractiveness of light rail to passengers is the degree of integration
with other modes of transport, particularly bus services. In this regard, the RPA is working with the
CIÉ Group of companies and with private operators to achieve integration of light rail with other
modes of transport. New bus services linking with Luas will be provided in due course.

Park and Ride facilities are available on the Luas network. The RPA are providing 1,607 spaces,
with an additional 450 spaces to be provided as part of a private development near the Tallaght stop.
Park and Ride facilities are available at Balally, Stillorgan and Sandyford stops on the Green line
and the Red Cow depot on the Red Line.

Metro

The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport recently published its report on Proposal for a
Dublin Metro System. The study strongly recommends a Metro system for Dublin that will not only
connect the city to the airport but also to Swords, one of the fastest growing towns in the country.
The study concludes that the significant cost of providing such a system is more than justified by
the economic, environmental and social benefits that it would bestow on the capital city and its
inhabitants and, by extension, the country as a whole. The Minister expects to consider the matter
shortly.



                                                                                                     64
Dublin Metro Bill

The Department of Transport is considering proposals for legislative change so as to accelerate and
streamline procedures for the delivery of the proposed Metro for Dublin, thereby reducing the cost
of such infrastructure. The focus is on developing a package of measures which will shorten the
approval period for such projects and also reduce costs. Measures under consideration include the
degree to which public consultation is appropriate and issues connected with compensation for land
being compulsorily acquired. The preparation of a Dublin Metro Bill is included in the current
Government legislation programme.

Railway Safety Programme 1999-2003

This safety investment programme ran from 1999 to 2003 and involved investment of
approximately €660m in the infrastructure and safety management systems of Iarnród Éireann.
Improvements to the infrastructure of the railway over the 5 years of the Programme included the
replacement of 398 miles of track with continuous welded rail, 225 miles of fencing, the upgrading
of 126 bridges and the closure or upgrading of 496 level crossings. Substantial works were also
carried out to cuttings and embankments to protect the railway from coastal erosion, landslides and
deterioration of embankments.

Future railway safety investment

The Railway Safety Task Force was reconvened in December 2002 to consider the priorities
for safety investment on the railway up to 2008 and to make recommendations to
Government. The Task Force includes representatives of the Departments of Transport and
Finance, CIE and Iarnród Éireann.

The Task Force Report and recommendations, along with the proposed Iarnród Éireann Safety
Investment Programme for the period 2004-2008, will be submitted to Government for approval
before the end of October.

The Programme proposes overall expenditure of €512m, €444m on infrastructure and €68m
on enhancing the safety culture and safety management systems of the company. This level of
investment in infrastructure will, among other things, permit the laying of approximately 28
miles of new track and 81 miles of second hand track; the renewal of over 250 miles of
fencing; the closure and upgrading of over 180 level crossings and continuing remedial and
improvement works on bridges, safety critical buildings, signalling and telecommunications
and on cuttings and embankments.

An interim Programme for 2004, submitted to the Department of Transport by Iarnród
Éireann, has been approved on an interim basis pending Government approval of the Task
Force Report and recommendations.

Improvements in Rail

Dublin (DART and Arrow)
 − A total of 38 new DART units went into service between 2000 and 2003. This represents an
   almost 50% increase in capacity in the space of less than three years.
 − A further 40 DART railcars have been delivered in 2004 as part of the DART Upgrade
   Project Phase 1 and are being phased into service. This project will see an increase in train
   lengths on the DART system from the present maximum of 6 to 8 at rush hour.
 − A further 80 Arrow railcars were put into service in late 2003/early 2004 and they have
   provided increases in capacity on the various corridors as follows: Northern – 43%, South-East

                                                                                                65
  30%, Western – 24%, South-Western – 130%. This brings to 144 the number of these units
  in service. A further 36 were ordered for delivery in 2005. In order to maintain these to the
  highest standards, the construction of a new diesel rail car depot in Drogheda was built and has
  been fully operational since December, 2003.
− All the new DART and Arrow rail cars have audio/visual facilities, which will assist the
  visually and aurally impaired.
− Work on Heuston Station upgrade (Phase 1 of the Kildare line upgrade) has been completed.
− 67 new mainline rail carriages for entry into service in late 2005 are currently being
  manufactured in Spain.

Improvements in Bus Services

Dublin Bus Services
 − 460 new buses have been purchased to date under the NDP of which 367 are replacement buses
   and 93 are additional to the fleet. These buses improve the quality and reliability of the fleet as
   well as providing for increased services.
 − 23% increase in Dublin Bus peak hour capacity since the start of the NDP.
 − A new bus garage in Harristown, North Dublin will open in December, 2004. The new garage,
   with capacity for 240 buses, will allow for further fleet expansion and the transfer of
   buses/routes from existing depots to alleviate capacity problems.
 − All new buses are low-floor and wheelchair accessible.

Bus Services in the Rest of the Country
 − 383 new buses have been delivered to Bus Éireann to date under the NDP.
 − This includes 68 new buses delivered in 2003, 38 of which were Exchequer funded.
 − Bus Éireann has ordered 65 Expressway coaches in 2004, 27 of which have been delivered
    to date.
 − 40 buses purchased in 2000 and 14 of those purchased in 2003 are now being used to expand
    commuter services in the Greater Dublin Area.
 − Bus Éireann has increased peak capacity by 40% on all main corridors into Dublin.
 − Bus Éireann passenger numbers on services, excluding school buses, have risen by 13.6% since
    2000; including school services, the Company's passenger numbers have risen in that period by
    5.9%.
 − Departure increases are up 26% in Cork, 21% in Limerick, 35% in Waterford and 50% in
    Galway.
 − To coincide with the European Capital of Culture 2005, Bus Éireann is undertaking a major
    redevelopment of its existing station at Parnell Place in Cork city, including improved access
    for the mobility-impaired.
 − The entire regular urban bus fleet in Cork, Limerick, Waterford and Galway is now low- floor.

Public Transport Accessibility

In conjunction with the publication of the Disability Bill 2004, the Minister for Transport
recently published the Department's Outline Sectoral Plan for Accessible Public Transport.
This is a draft consultation document which outlines the proposals of the Minister in relation
to the ongoing development of accessible public transport services for people with mobility
and sensory impairments. The Plan covers public transport accessibility issues relating to bus
and rail public transport, taxi services and airport facilities.




                                                                                                   66
Interested parties have been invited to study the Plan's proposals and to forward their views
to the Department. All submissions received will be taken into consideration in finalising the
Plan.

CIE Group - Service Level Memoranda

Memoranda of Understanding on Service Levels and Targets have now been introduced between
the Department and each of the CIE Companies. These memoranda set out the quantity and quality
of service which each company intends to provide in the context of the Exchequer subvention and
include targets and monitoring arrangements.

National Roads

The 2004 Exchequer provision of over €1.227 billion will ensure that the pace and momentum of
the national roads programme, built up since 2000, will be maintained. Good progress is being
made in upgrading the network as evidenced by:
 − The 43 (303 kms) schemes completed in the period 2000 to date, including major projects on
     the M1, Kildare By-Pass, N11 Glen of the Downs, N8 Watergrasshill By-Pass, N11
     Rathnew/Ashford Bypass, N22 Ballincollog Bypass and N7 Limerick Southern Ring Road
     (Phase 1);
 − Work is continuing on 21 major projects (210 kms) throughout the country including
     Monasterevin,      Kilcock/Kinnegad,        Cashel      By-Pass,      Loughrea       Bypass,
     Ballyshannon/Bundoran Bypass, Sligo Inner Relief Road and Ennis By-Pass ;
 − The commencement of the tendering process on 8 further projects (58 kms) throughout the
     country with a view, subject to available funding and the outcome of the tendering process, to
     commencing work on the projects on a phased basis in 2004. These include by-passes of
     Monaghan, Mullingar and Kinsale Road Interchange.
 − In addition, a further 8 projects (167kms) are through the Statutory Approval Process,
     including by-passes of Castleblaney, Arklow/Gorey, the Kilkenny Ring Road Extension and
     Kinnegad/Athlone.

Commission for Taxi Regulation

The Taxi Regulation Act 2003 was enacted in July, 2003 and provides for the establishment of the
Commission for Taxi Regulation and the Advisory Council to the Commission for Taxi Regulation.
The Act also facilitates the replacement of the current regulatory system applying to the licensing
and operation of small public service vehicles (taxis, hackneys and limousines) and their drivers,
and the development, under the auspices of the Commission for Taxi Regulation, of new qualitative
standards relating to the operation and driving of small public service vehicles.

The Advisory Council to the Commission for Taxi Regulation has been established with effect from
4 November, 2003. The Council consists of a chairperson and 17 ordinary members, representing
the taxi, hackney and limousine industry, an Garda Síochána, local authorities, consumer, tourism,
disability and business interests.

The Commission for Taxi Regulation was established with effect from 1 September, 2004.
Following a competition to recruit a Commissioner for Taxi Regulation, held by the Civil Service
and Local Appointments Commission, Mr. Ger Deering was recommended for appointment. Mr.
Deering took up his position as Commissioner for Taxi Regulation with effect from 1 September,
2004.




                                                                                                67
(4.2.7) Ports
                                                                                            CMNR

The publication of the High Level Review of the State Commercial Ports, operating under the
Harbours Act 1996 and 2000, was announced by the Minister for Communications, Marine and
Natural Resources on 13 May 2003. The Minister simultaneously initiated a full public consultation
on the report's findings and recommendations (see Department's website at
http://www.dcmnr.gov.ie/). During the consultation process, the Department received written
submissions from, and has had discussions with, a range of interested parties. The consultation
process is now complete. A ports policy statement will be published by the Minister shortly,
following approval by the Government. The policy statement will address the best way forward
for structured dialogue between the port companies and the port users.


(4.2.8) Energy
                                                                                            CMNR

Electricity

The Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) announced in December 2003 the results of the
Capacity 2005 Competition, which it ran to facilitate the entry to the market of additional capacity
to meet generation adequacy requirements. The combined installed generating capacity of these two
new independent generating plants given the go-ahead is over 500 MW. These two new generating
plants, viz Aughinish Alumina and Tynagh Energy Ltd. are due to be commissioned on 30
November 2005 and 31 January 2006 respectively.

In addition, the two new peat stations at Lanesboro and Shannonbridge, with a combined
capacity of 250MW, are due to commission in November 2004 and January 2005 respectively.

The CER has also put in place short-term generation measures to meet projected capacity shortfalls
before these two new stations are commissioned. Viridian has also recently announced its plans
for the construction of a 400MW combined gas cycle plant, to be completed in 2007, adjacent
to its current plant in Huntstown, Co. Dublin.

The Government has given the go-ahead for the development of two 500MW East/West
electricity interconnectors, as a priority. The CER is now engaged in designing a competitive
process for the development of two 500MW East/West electricity interconnectors on a hybrid
merchant/regulated basis.

The Minister increased the level of electricity market opening from 40% to 56% by volume, with
effect from 19 February 2004. The Irish electricity market will open fully to competition on 19
February 2005, which is over 2 years in advance of the July 2007 deadline set down in the new
Electricity Directive.

ESB Networks carried out a record level of over 77,000 new connections to the electricity grid in
2003. ESB Networks is also engaged in a major rebuilding programme involving all medium
voltage (MV) rural networks, some of which are up to 70 years old. A total of over 65,000 kms of
the MV network will be renewed by the end of 2005 with 16,600 kms of that having been
completed in 2003. The targets for 2004 and 2005 are 22,000 kms and 20,000 kms respectively. It
is intended to begin renewal of the low voltage networks in 2006.




                                                                                                 68
The proposed Electricity Transmission Planning Bill has been replaced by proposals to streamline
planning approvals for major infrastructure projects, currently being advanced by the Department of
the Environment, Heritage and Local Government.

Pending the drafting of the Electricity Bill, key regulatory and restructuring issues including market
opening measures have been implemented by Statutory Order and Regulations to implement the
second Electricity Directive (EU Directive 2003/54/EC, concerning common rules for the internal
market in electricity and repealing EU Directive 96/92/EC) have been drafted and are due to be
made shortly. Provisions relating to universal service obligation and the supplier of last
resort, have been included in the afore-mentioned Regulations and the regulation by CER of
ESB's tariffs is already provided for by statute.

Natural Gas

On July 1st 2004, the Minister further liberalised the natural gas market so that all non-domestic
customers (a total of around 17,000) are now eligible to switch suppliers. This brings the level of
market opening by volume to 86%.

The target of full opening of the natural gas market will be achieved in 2005 with the advent of the
new Natural Gas Regulation Bill (draft heads of which are almost ready for government approval).
When enacted, this Bill will represent a coherent legislative framework for the modern natural gas
market.

The Minister recently decided to prioritise provisions for natural gas safety and include them
with the Energy (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, 2004.

A programme of major gas transmission infrastructure development is nearing completion. The gas
network is being developed on an all island basis. A South/North interconnector linking
Gormanstown to Belfast is due for completion in 2006. BGÉ (Northern Ireland) expects to
complete a pipeline between Belfast and Derry by the end of October 2004. The Commission
for Energy Regulation (CER) has commissioned a feasibility study for a gas pipeline from
Derry to Letterkenny and the report is expected by the end of October 2004. Construction of
the Mayo–Galway pipeline has been postponed pending the completion of the planning process for
the Corrib Terminal.

The gas distribution network is a modern system and ranks highly against its European
counterparts. The Pipeline to the West enabled the extension of the network to towns in the
midlands and west. CER has awarded the distribution franchise for Mullingar, Athlone,
Tullamore, Clara and Ballinasloe to Flogas Natural Gas and all are scheduled to receive gas
in 2004.

North/South Energy Co-operation

Although not listed in the Good Friday Agreement, the energy sector is an area where there
has, for some time, been active co-operation between the administrations North and South.
The overall aim is to put in place an all-island energy market that will contribute to a more
cost-efficient service for all customers. This co-operation takes place under the auspices of a
Joint Steering Group (JSG) established by Minister Dermot Ahern, TD, and Minister Ian
Pearson, MP.         The Group comprises senior officials from the Department of
Communications, Marine and Natural Resources and the N.I. Department of Enterprise,
Trade and Investment and the offices of the two Regulatory Authorities.




                                                                                                   69
In June 2004, Minister Dermot Ahern, TD, and Minister Barry Gardiner, MP, jointly announced the
publication of a draft All-island Energy Market Development Framework. The document sets out
the policy context and benefits of an all-island energy market and outlines the short to medium term
priorities. It includes a detailed development programme, including a strategic framework for
further collaboration between the two Governments, regulatory authorities and industry in working
towards the goal of an all-island energy market. A consultation period with industry has recently
concluded and it is planned to publish the final Framework in November 2004, subject to the
endorsement of the two ministers. The Framework document will set out an agreed work
programme for the next few years and will lay the foundation for an all-island energy market.



(4.2.9) Sustainable Energy
                                                                                            CMNR

Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) is empowered by the Government to implement and administer
programmes aimed at meeting Ireland's Kyoto obligations. Exchequer funding of €13.741million is
the budget for SEI's 2004 Work Programme. Of this €8 million is being provided in 2004 in respect
of Capital measures.

SEI's Work Plan for 2004 generally falls into three main categories:

− Research and Development with a budget of €3.32 million

− Built Environment with a budget of €3.90 million

− Alternative Energy with a budget of €0.78 million

To date SEI has spent the following

· Research and Development €2.519 million

· Built Environment €1.965 million

· Alternative Energy €0.605 million

SEI is well on target to fully deliver on its 2004 Work Plan.

Following the Mid-Term Review of the Economic and Social Infrastructure Operational
Programme (ESIOP) this priority provides for overall investment of €117.08 million in the
period 2000-2006 in energy conservation and support for renewable energies including a grid
upgrade programme. The Grid Upgrade Programme will be implemented through ESB
National Grid using matching funding from Transmission Use of System (TUoS) charges and
European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Aid.

Investment will total €117.08 million as follows:

Energy Conservation: €83.52 million

Alternative/Renewable Energy: €33.56 million

(including Grid Upgrade Programme)



                                                                                                 70
ERDF aid will be concentrated on the support for Alternative/Renewable Energies (Grid
Update).

AER Programme

The Alternative Energy Requirement (AER) Programme is used by the Department to increase
electricity generation from renewable and alternative energy sources. As these technologies are not
as yet competitive with conventional fossil fuel technologies the additional costs involved are
passed on to final customers through a Public Service Obligation (PSO) levy. Therefore, emphasis
is placed on competition in order to deliver renewables based electricity at lowest cost.

The most recent AER competitions, AER V & AER VI, are currently in progress and aim to ensure
that the current 500 Megawatt (MW) target for renewables based electricity generating capacity,
outlined in the Green Paper on Sustainable Energy, is reached by 2005.

The results of the AER VI competition were announced by the Minister in July 2003. A total of 48
contracts, amounting to 365 Megawatts of capacity were offered to the market including - for the
first time - two 25MW offshore wind demonstration projects. Projects (other than offshore wind and
Biomass-CHP projects) must be built by 31 December 2004.

The amount of support available in both AER V & AER VI is subject to the quantitative limits
determined by Government policy and also limited by the state aids clearance (N 553/01) issued by
the European Commission. However, such was the interest shown in the AER VI competition that
the Department submitted a formal application to the European Commission for state aids clearance
in respect of an additional 140 Megawatts of capacity. Clearance was received from the
Commission in September and the capacity will be allocated in accordance with the AER VI
reserve list, which is published on the Departments website.

Renewable Energy Review

A review of the renewable energy sector involving a public consultation process commenced in Q4
2003. The review, Options for Future Renewable Energy Policy, Targets and Programmes, aims to
stimulate debate in developing future renewable energy policy in Ireland post 2005. The review
focuses primarily on setting new targets for renewables for the period 2005 to 2010 and beyond to
2020. The review will also consider an appropriate market mechanism to achieve these targets.
Over 40 responses have been received following a public call for submissions. The Department is
currently analysing the submissions with the technical assistance of Sustainable Energy Ireland. The
intention is that a new policy for the renewable energy sector will be submitted to Government for
approval later this year.

Renewables Development Group

The Minister established a Renewables Development Group in early May 2004. The Group is
chaired by the Department and includes representatives from CER, SEI, ESB and the Network
Operators (Eirgrid and ESB). The main aims of the Group will be to share expertise and to solve
potential constraints to the development of the renewable energy sector.

Other issues to be tackled by this Group include;

− The next market support mechanism

− The introduction of net metering – which allows small producers to get benefit for energy
  supplied into the grid


                                                                                                 71
− Research and development

− Grid Upgrade programme

− Applications backlog

Bioenergy Strategy Group

In December 2003 the Department, in association with Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI), set
up a Bioenergy Strategy Group (BSG). The primary objective of the group is to consider the
policy options and support mechanisms available to Government to stimulate increased use of
biomass for energy conversion, and to make specific recommendations for action to increase
the penetration of biomass energy in Ireland.

The BSG is holding a series of meetings each exploring a different aspect of the exploitation of
biomass energy. Input to the group is from a wide range of interested parties, including those
in the wood processing industry, Teagasc and the Department of Agriculture and Food. The
BSG will produce a Strategy Report for publication which is scheduled for completion before
the end of 2004. It will contain a road map for the development of biomass energy with the
identification of staged, achievable targets and recommendations for future action.

Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Policy Group
The Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, in association with
Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI), established a CHP Policy Group in March 2004. The objective of
the group is to consider the most suitable and appropriate environments in which CHP can usefully
be implemented in Ireland, so as to maximise energy efficiency. The Group will consider the policy
options and support mechanisms available to Government to stimulate increased and appropriate
use of CHP and consider specific recommendations for action to increase the penetration of
CHP at appropriate locations / installations in Ireland. The Group will also consider
suggestions for the implementation of a national policy on CHP, based on staged, achievable
targets. The group will publish a report on its findings and the report will form the road map
and vision for Government policy and action for CHP in Ireland. The group is representative
of Government, research and industry interests in this subject.



(4.3) The Environment
                                                                                          EHLG

Developments in the area of policy on the environment are detailed below, 4.3.1 (National Climate
Change Strategy), 4.3.2 (National Emissions Ceiling Directive) and 4.3.3 (Water Services).


(4.3.1) National Climate Change Strategy
                                                                                          EHLG

The Government decided, following an extensive public consultation, not to proceed with the
introduction of a carbon energy tax. Alternative policy options to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions are being developed and will be taken into account in the ongoing review of the
National Climate Change Strategy.




                                                                                               72
Arrangements for full implementation of the EU Directive on emissions trading have
progressed. A National Allocation Plan (NAP) for the three-year period 2005-2007, which
was submitted to the European Commission by the 31st March 2004 deadline, was
unconditionally approved in July 2004. The NAP provides for participation by over 100 Irish
installations in emissions trading when the EU emissions trading scheme commences on 1st
January 2005. Approximately 15,000 installations across the EU will engage in trading under
the scheme. Regulations transposing the EU Directive were signed into law on 14 July 2004.




(4.3.2) National Emissions Ceiling Directive
                                                                                              EHLG

A consultation paper setting out Ireland's obligations, identifying and quantifying potential for
emissions reductions and the measures necessary for their achievements and developing a basis for
economic analysis of the impacts and benefits of these reductions was published in July 2003 and is
available from the Department's website. The paper provides for better public and cross-sectional
understanding of the scale of emission reductions required by 2010, to seek sectoral perspectives on
options for reductions, to seek information to further develop the robustness of emissions
inventories and projections and to serve as a basis for discussion between and within sectors of the
economically most efficient means to achieve the national emission ceilings. The paper seeks to
provide an approach to identify the full suite of potential measures required to achieve the ceilings.
The deadline for public consultation on the paper was 15 September 2003. The Department has
considered the various submissions received; these are also available on the website.

This process is informing the development of a draft Strategy to reduce emissions of
transboundary air pollution by 2010, and which, in accordance with Sustaining Progress, will
take account of national economic, social and sustainability objectives. The strategy will then be put
in place to ensure compliance with the NECs Directive and the UNECE Gothenburg Protocol
following formal approval by Government. On 13 January 2004 the Minister made the European
Communities (National Emission Ceilings) Regulations 2004 (S.I. No. 010 of 2004) which
transpose the ceilings formally into Irish law and require the Minister to prepare the Strategy and
make it publicly available.

Other measures relevant to the draft strategy are being actively pursued under existing and
planned legislation and policies, including cleaner fuels and vehicles, integrated pollution
control licensing, organic solvent emissions reduction and a voluntary agreement with the
solid fuel industry. In addition, the Minister submitted a national emission reduction plan for
large combustion plants to the European Commission for assessment in November 2003. The plan,
under directive 2001/80/EC on the limitation of emissions of pollutants from large combustion with
a rated thermal input greater than 50MW, requires significant reductions of emissions of sulphur
dioxide and nitrogen oxides from older ESB power plants and boilers in Aughinish Alumina from
2008. This ambitious environmental measure has been undertaken as a direct response to Ireland's
obligations under the EU directive on national emission ceilings.

The Minister intends to seek Government approval for the draft strategy later this year and
to publish the finalised strategy.




                                                                                                   73
(4.3.3) Water Services

                                                                                          EHLG

Rural Water Programme

The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government announced an allocation of
€110million for the urgent upgrading of polluted and unsatisfactory rural water supplies under the
Rural Water Programme on 8th March 2004.

Water Quality

The EPA published its 2002 Report on the Quality of Drinking Water in Ireland. The 2002 figures
confirm the fundamentally good quality of drinking water in public supplies. Improvements have
been made in the quality of water in group water schemes but further improvement is required. The
overall level of compliance with the Drinking Water Regulations for all supplies was 95.9%
(97.4% for public schemes and 91.5% for group schemes).

Urban Wastewater Directive

Good progress has been made in successive years in meeting our obligations to provide secondary
treatment by the end of 2005 to urban areas over specified sizes in the regulations. Compliance,
which stood at 25% at the start of the NDP period, had risen to 90 % at the end of June 2004.

River Basin District Project for the Western Region

The Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government announced funding of €7.8
million over a four year period for the Western River Basin District Project on 5th March, 2004.
The objective of the project is to establish an integrated water quality monitoring and management
system for all waters in the region, including related coastal waters and groundwaters, and to
provide the bulk of the information needed for the development of a comprehensive River Basin
Management Plan for the area.

Nitrates Directive

A revised draft National Action Programme was made available on 9 July 2004 to interested
parties in a second round of consultation. An independent adviser was appointed to consider
the comments received and to make a report to MEHLG with recommendations regarding
the provisions of the draft programme.

Some 50 submissions were submitted and the report and recommendations of the independent
adviser were received on 8 October. The draft action programme is now being revised as
necessary and will be submitted to the EU Commission by the end of October. The action
programme will be implemented on a phased basis with effect from 1 January 2005 and will
operate for a period of 4 years.

In addition an application for a derogation from the general land-spreading limits under the
Directive is being finalized and will be submitted to the European Commission shortly (it is
envisaged that the derogation application will be submitted by end October or early
November). The application for a derogation is being developed by the Department of
Agriculture and Teagasc in consultation with the Department of the Environment, Heritage
and Local Government which will be based on the unique characteristics of Irish agriculture.



                                                                                               74
(4.4) Adaptation to continuing Change


(4.4.1) Knowledge-based Economy and Society


(4.4.1.1) eCommerce

                                                                                                 ETE

The development of a supportive legal and regulatory framework is critical for building consumer
and business confidence in purchasing and supplying information society services. In February
2003, the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment made Regulations to give
effect in Ireland to the provisions of the Electronic Commerce Directive. These provide for the free
movement of information society services within the European Economic area. They also contain
important obligations in respect of service providers as well as essential protection for consumers of
such services. The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment has since then also reached
agreement with the Irish Direct Marketing Association that its members will identify unsolicited
commercial communications by e-mail - sometimes referred to as spam - as such to its recipients.


(4.4.1.2) Research and Development

                                                                                                 ETE

New Governance and Coordination System for Science, Technology and Innovation (STI)

On 22 June 2004, the Government approved a new system of governance and coordination for
science, technology and innovation (STI), aimed at enhancing synergy, coherence and policy
coordination in this complex and evolving area. This strategic framework included the
appointment of a Chief Science Adviser to the Government, Dr Barry McSweeney, who
formally took up his appointment on 1st September, and a specific Cabinet Sub-Committee
supported by a High Level Interdepartmental Committee of senior officials, with regular
meetings commencing in the coming months. In respect of the important advisory function
currently undertaken by ICSTI (the Irish Council for Science, Technology and Innovation),
the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment informed a plenary session of that
Council on 14 September of the implications for that organisation of the Government
decision, including the desirability of retaining an advisory forum, representing stakeholders'
interests. These developments were welcomed by the Council. Their current work programme
will continue, while a seamless transition to a restructured advisory science council, situated
within the context and structures of the new arrangements, takes place.

Building Ireland's Knowledge Economy - The Irish Action Plan for Promoting Investment in
R&D to 2010

At the European Council in Barcelona in 2002, the Heads of State agreed that overall
spending on R&D in the Union should be increased from the current EU average of 1.9% of
GDP, with the aim of Europe approaching 3% of GDP by 2010, and with two thirds of this
new investment coming from the private sector. Ireland is making efforts to increase its R&D
spend, currently at 1.4% of GNP (GNP is a more appropriate measure of national output for
Ireland than GDP, due to the transfers within multinational organisations within Ireland),
which will contribute to the European Research Area and 3% target.


                                                                                                    75
In this regard, on 10 August 2004, the Irish Action Plan for Promoting Investment in R&D was
launched. This action plan sets out a vision of the contribution that R&D can make to Ireland
developing as a knowledge-based economy. The report was prepared by a high-level Inter
Departmental Steering Group established by the Tánaiste in 2003. All relevant stakeholders
were involved in the formulation of the Action Plan. It sets a target of 2.5% of GNP spend on
R&D by 2010 and proposes a range of actions to achieve this.

Science Foundation Ireland/Enterprise Ireland

A knowledge-based society requires significant investment in knowledge creation, development of
human capital, effective knowledge transfer, dissemination and commercialisation.

Under the National Development Plan 2000 to 2006, €2.5billion has been allocated to
Research, Technology Development and Innovation, €1.5billion of which is to be spent in
programmes operated by agencies under the aegis of the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and
Employment - Enterprise Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland and Shannon Development - as
well as through the National Microelectronic Research Centre and Údaras na Gaeltachta in
Gaeltacht areas.

Increasing funding for R&D activity has been provided in the 2004 estimates, both to enhance
industry R&D capability through IDA and Enterprise Ireland and through enhanced
investments by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI). This increased funding will underpin
Ireland's economic future.

Funding through SFI is being used to recruit and retain researchers and research groups capable of
developing high-impact, internationally significant discoveries in the fields underpinning
biotechnology and information and communications technology.

SFI continues to substantially increase its grant awards activity and has a financial commitment of
over €396 million allocated across 368 projects over the next five years, comprising more than
1,038 individuals, research teams, centres and visiting researchers.

One of the most significant programmes operated by the SFI is its Centres for Science,
Engineering and Technology (CSET) programmes. These programmes were established to fund
researchers who will build collaborative efforts that develop internationally competitive research
programmes with researchers from industry. SFI has now invested in six centres which have the
potential to transform the research agenda and involve substantial academic industry
collaborations involving major companies including, HP, Intel, Servier, Medtronic and
Proctor and Gamble and Bell Labs.

CSET's linking academic researchers with industry partners will play a significant role in building
Ireland's new knowledge-driven economy. Building such partnerships between academia and
industry will support the creation of new ideas and products, sustain the supply of research skills
and talent and produce the innovation and development that successful wealth-generating
economies need to grow.

The key focus of the enhanced research funding through Enterprise Ireland will be to increase
innovation and raise the competitiveness levels within Irish companies in order to add economic
value to their activities, increasing output and employment levels and moving up the value chain.
These policies are being achieved through focused support for in-company R&D, the networking of
companies with the wider S&T infrastructure and third level sector and the better use of technology
in balanced regional development.



                                                                                                76
Expenditure Review of S & T Spending

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE) has scheduled a review of
spending on science & technology in 2004 as part of its Expenditure Review Plan 2002-2004,
agreed with the Department of Finance. The expenditure review will focus on the principal
Research Technological Development and Innovation in Industry measures under the NDP
2000-2006 and will make recommendations, where appropriate, on the overall usefulness of
the agency supports for research and innovation in the business sector.

R&D Tax Credit

A 20% tax credit was introduced in the Finance Act 2004 for qualifying incremental expenditure by
companies on research and development activity (R&D). This will help to enhance our
competitiveness as a location for new internationally mobile research-related investment. It will
also encourage existing overseas and indigenous firms to add to, or expand, research functions to
their operations in Ireland.

National Integrated Awareness Programme

The availability of a young educated workforce with the necessary technological, scientific and
research skills is vital for Ireland's continued competitiveness. The Report of the Task Force on the
Physical Science, under the action area of science promotion and careers, recommended that all
science promotional activities should be drawn together to maximise effectiveness. A new
integrated awareness programme, Discover Science & Engineering, was launched by the Taoiseach
in October 2003 and will link and expand on existing awareness activities in a way that provides a
more focused and effective return. Discover Science & Engineering is the product of extensive
consultation with the various stakeholders involved in science promotion in both the public and
private sectors.

The underlying aims of Discover Science & Engineering are to:

− Raise the general level of awareness of the physical sciences;

− Raise the level of student uptake of the physical sciences at second and third level;

− Promote a positive attitude towards careers in Science, Engineering and Technology;

− Promote a greater understanding of science amongst the public/society.

The target audience of Discover Science & Engineering are young people, school students (primary
and secondary - especially junior cycle and transition year students), their parents and teachers as
well as the wider public. The programme will also work closely with the media, politicians and
industry to achieve its aims.

The main initiatives this year include Discover Science Week Ireland, the Primary Science
Clubs Programme, Science Teacher Assistant Researchers (STAR), a second series of the
successful television programme - Scope - and an Interactive Centre for Learning -
Exploration Station.

European Young Scientist Competition

This competition was hosted by Ireland for the first time in 2004. Over 150 participants from
various European countries, the US and China took part. The competition was funded by the


                                                                                                  77
European Commission and Science Foundation Ireland and sponsored by Discover Science &
Engineering.


(4.4.1.3) eGovernment


(4.4.1.3.1) eGovernment

                                                                                               TAO

At the end of 2003, the Cabinet Committee on the Information Society agreed the services to be
prioritised for e-enablement, having regard to their potential user base and value in terms of
efficiency and effectiveness or as flagship projects. The 2nd Report of the Government's
Information Society Action Plan, New Connections, includes detailed information about services
that are currently available online as well as listing those services that are prioritised for online
delivery by 2005.

As part of Ireland's Information Society Programme for the EU Presidency, a conference entitled
'Towards Innovative Transformation in the Public Sector' took place in Dublin, 17-18 June, 2004.
This Conference brought together Ministers, academics, practitioners from the private and public
sectors to discuss and consider the innovative transformation of the public sector using Information
and Communications Technologies.

The eStrategy Group of Secretaries General is currently considering the implications for ICT
governance in the new context of decentralisation.

The Departments of the Taoiseach and Finance are currently in the process of drafting a
memo on [furthering] the use of ePayments in the public sector.

Work has commenced on the development of a standardised framework for the Public Service
Card. The objective of the programme (SAFE - Secure Authorisation Framework
Environment) is to develop a strategy which will enable all public service agencies to deliver
token based services to citizens in a coordinated manner. A Steering Group has been
established and all Departments are represented on the Group and its subgroups.

The eEurope eGovernment Group met three times in 2004, including a meeting hosted by the
Irish Presidency in Dubin in June, and agreed recommendations on:

− accelerating progress on the eGovernment objectives until end 2005

− how to modernise and stimulate innovation in public administrations between now and
  2010.

These recommendations emphasise the key contribution that public administrations can make
to improving Europe's competitiveness, growth, innovation and employment rates, as well as
social cohesion and are an important contribution to the mid-term review of the Lisbon
Strategy and to progressing the delivery of the eEurope 2005 goals.




                                                                                                  78
(4.4.1.3.2) eGovernment

                                                                                                 ETE

The BASIS (Business Access to State Information and Services) is a cross-departmental
eGovernment initiative managed by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

The BASIS project has carried out extensive research into the issues around the delivery of online
Government services to the business community. These issues included the process change required
for both the services delivery agencies and the customer, the sharing and re-use of data, security, the
development of a cost benefit model and the development of a unique identifier to facilitate access
to public services to the business community.

The research in the areas of the single identifier involved an examination of the international
experience, a high level view across all services delivered to business and a more in-depth
examination of a subset of these services. BASIS is currently working with the Reach Agency in the
area of identity management and the development of a registration process for a business entity in
the context of the development of Phase 1 of the Public Services Broker.

Status of eGovernment Projects

The Work Permit section of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment issue work
permits to non-EEA (European Economic Area) citizens to allow them work in Ireland.
Applications for a work permit can only be made by an employer, on behalf of an employee. The
work permit allows the employee to work in Ireland while employed by that employer. The work
permit is subject to an annual renewal process.

In order to improve the delivery of this service the Department carried out a feasibility study into
the development of an on-line service for the application and renewal of a work permit. As a follow
on to this study a project steering group has been put in place and the terms of reference for the
project agreed. An internal high-level process review is being carried out and this will form the
basis for the Request for Tender for the design of the new system, which will issue by the end of
June 2004.

Redundancy

An online redundancy calculator is now operational on the Department of Enterprise, Trade and
Employment website. It enables the user to calculate statutory redundancy entitlement for any
employee by inputting certain key data, such as date of birth, salary etc.

A system specification for a major re-write of the redundancy I.T. system was completed in January
2004. A Request for Tenders was issued in February 2004. A contract has been awarded to external
consultants and they started work on the project in early June. The project is being overseen by a
steering committee.

Companies Registration Office

Annual Returns to Companies Registration Office (CRO)

Since the end of 2002 annual returns can be filed on-line with the CRO. This is a fully electronic
system, which requires client presenters to have a company secretarial software package from
which returns are sent electronically. There are six companies currently providing such software,
four of which have gone live with their systems. Verification is by way of Director/Secretary PINs


                                                                                                    79
and IDs and presenter digital certificates. The first e-filed annual return was received on 17th
December 2002. Because of the requirement to apply for PINs, IDs and certificates it has been
slow to take off. However, over 20,000 PINs have been issued to date and there has been a
significant increase in e-filed annual returns since October 2003.

For smaller clients who cannot justify expenditure on company secretarial software, there will be a
web-based alternative by the middle of 2005.

The CRO released a completely revamped event-based web forms environment during November
2002. This enables on-line notification of a change of address of a company, a situation of register
of a company, a branch of an external company or a business name. Changes in company secretary
and/or director can be notified and business names can be registered. It is planned to release other
web forms by the end of 2004. This web environment requires the printing of a signature page
which must be signed and sent to the CRO, but is compatible with any future electronic signature
technologies which become available.

It has proven difficult to encourage the business community to use the originally released on-line
C1 form for notification of a charge against a company. This form is being reviewed in conjunction
with the Law Society.

Online registration of a company

There are a number of legal hurdles in implementing fully electronic registration of a company, and
solutions to these are being considered as part of the work of the Company Law Review Group. In
the meantime, the CRO's CRODisk scheme, which is a hybrid electronic and paper-based system, is
working well for companies incorporated through a filing agent. This represents the vast bulk of
company incorporations. Under the scheme, company registration turn-around of five days is
guaranteed, with a two day turn-around being the norm. The scheme was cited as an excellent use
of existing technology by an EU benchmarking study of registration services in Europe.

On-line Company Searches

CRO's on-line company search services were re-launched in early 2002. Currently, 82% of
searches are conducted on-line. In August 2004, a facility to pay for searches using a credit/laser
card was launched. This is being extensively used and almost 2,000 transactions were carried
out in the first month.

Patents Office

The following two projects are currently in operation:-

1. Publishing the Official Journal on the web.

2. On-line access to the Patents Office Registers and searching of Patents Office databases.

Work on a third project "On-line Payment of Renewal fees" is ongoing and substantial work has
been achieved.

The development is progressing and a system prototype was benchmarked during the last
week of September 2004. The full system is due to be delivered for testing and validation in
mid October 2004.




                                                                                                 80
The User Acceptance Testing and Validation phase is expected to last four weeks and it is
anticipated that the system will go live in November 2004.


(4.4.1.4) Legal and Regulatory Environment

                                                                                                 TAO

The Information Society Policy Unit works with key players to progress the objectives and
coherence in the legal and regulatory environment, timely introduction of new measures where
required and care to avoid unnecessary complexity and barriers to the development of the
Information Society. Recent progress in creating and maintaining an 'e-friendly' regulatory
framework, includes the following:

The Civil Registration Act 2004 was signed into law on 27 February, 2004. This provides a new
legislative framework for civil registration and enables modernisation of the civil registration
process.

The heads of the Electronic Communications (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill are currently being
prepared and it is expected that the Bill will be published in early 2005. This Bill will provide for:-

− Measures to combat overcharging by service providers

− Protection for consumers of retail broadcasting services

− The creation of indictable offences for breaches of enforcement measures imposed by ComReg
  and the Data Protection Commissioner respectively in particular measures provided for
  in Statutory Instruments 305 to 308 of 2003 made under the European Communities Act

− Regulation of the IE Domain Registry (IEDR)

− The creation of a database of broadcasting distribution services customers.

Five Directives establishing the EU Electronic Communications Regulatory package were
transposed in 2003. The legislative package, consists of a Framework Directive, four other
Directives on Authorisation, Access and Interconnection, Universal Service and User Rights and
Data Protection and a Decision on Radio Spectrum (which does not have to be transposed). Ireland
was one of a relatively small group of Member States to meet the transposition deadlines.

The Disability Bill 2004, published on 21 September 2004, contains provisions for the
establishment of a Centre for Excellence in Universal Design. The purpose of the Centre will
be to facilitate the achievement of excellence in universal design by commitment to the
development and promulgation of standards and, in particular, to pursue this objective in
relation to electronic systems.

Building on the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000, transposition of the outstanding
provisions of the EC Directive on Copyright in the Information Society (2001/29/EC) was
completed by the European Communities (Copyright and Related Rights) Regulations 2004.

The extent of additional legislative provisions required to give effect to the European
Cybercrime Convention is currently being examined. It is likely that any legislative


                                                                                                    81
requirements to give effect to the Cybercrime Convention will be included in a Criminal
Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, the heads of which it is hoped will be ready for
submission to Government by late 2004.

In May 2004, the Internet Advisory Board (IAB) commissioned the first phase of a research
project into Irish children and parents' use of the new communications technologies. The
research will underpin the Board's examination of harmful effects of multi-media access to
the Internet by Irish children.
A review of the Code of Practice and Ethics (part of a self-regulatory framework agreed with
the industry and supervised by the IAB) was completed by a subgroup of the Internet
Advisory Board in July 2004.
The IAB has co-financed a video on Internet safety as part of the SAFT project (an EU
project looking at Safety Awareness for Teens, of which NCTE is the Irish partner). Copies of
the video will be going to all primary schools shortly. The IAB will also make a contribution
to the Irish National e-Security day planned for 10th November 2004.


(4.4.1.5) Knowledge Foresight Exercise

                                                                                              TAO

An exploratory workshop involving an ad hoc group of Social Partners took place on 11 June 2003
at the European Foundation to explore the key challenges facing Ireland in advancing to the
innovation-driven stage of socio-economic development. In the light of the far-reaching and cross-
cutting nature of the themes emerging from those initial discussions, the Information Society
Commission Secretariat was asked to liaise closely with NESC, Forfás and the HEA to shape an
appropriate approach for taking the process forward.

A small working group was formed to this end. The discussion paper it produced points to an
intensification of transformation pressures, placing new demands on our capacity to innovate and
adapt to change, and presenting new challenges in distributing the costs and benefits of change. It
develops a particular focus on new challenges in bringing about a strategic alignment of inter-
dependent public policies, and the need for a systemic understanding of these challenges. This
suggested framework was welcomed by a cross section of senior personnel in government
departments and public agencies at a meeting held on 8 January 2004.

A further workshop involving an ad hoc group of social partners was convened in Government
Buildings on 5 April 2004. This was chaired by Mr Dermot McCarthy, Secretary General in the
Department of the Taoiseach, and facilitated by Dr Rory O'Donnell in his capacity as Chief Officer
of NESDO (National Economic and Social Development Office). The key outcomes were:

(a)    broad-based agreement around the need to deepen shared understanding of the innovation
       challenge,

(b)    a high level of enthusiasm for the role of a new national foresight exercise in responding to
       this challenge, and

(c)    a clear recognition of the synergies that can be developed between this exercise and the
       strengths of the social partnership process.

Under the aegis of the Irish Presidency of the European Union, a conference entitled
"Foresight for Innovation - thinking and debating the future; shaping and aligning policies"


                                                                                                 82
was held in Dublin on 14-15 June 2004, exploring the role of foresight activity in supporting
enhanced governance and improved alignment of policies at local, regional, national and EU
levels. The positioning of this conference as part of Ireland's Presidency programme,
supported by the Information Society Commission, was designed to be complementary with
the momentum underway on foot of the Sustaining Progress commitment.
A strategy for taking this initiative forward is now being developed in the context of the finalisation
of the work programme of the Information Society Commission, which completes its term of office
at the end of 2004. Building from established international experience, this will recognise that the
factors decisive to securing a successful process outcome will be:

−   HIGH level commitment
−   WIDE participation
−   DEEP interaction
−   LONG term view of benefits.


(4.4.2) Lifelong Learning

                                                                                                   ES

Lifelong Learning will be promoted, within available resources, through the implementation of the
Task Force Report on Lifelong Learning and the White Paper on Adult Education. Work on
implementing the recommendations of the Task Force will be progressed as a strategic priority as
resources permit, overseen by a Steering Committee chaired by the Department of Enterprise, Trade
and Employment. The National Adult Learning Council provides a mechanism for social partner
participation in this policy area. The Council was launched in 2002 to promote the development of
adult learning, to ensure a coordinated strategy across the different agencies and levels of provision,
to advise on policy, to support quality assurance in Further Education programmes, to engage in
research and evaluation in the field of Adult Education; and to support and promote cross-border
and international co-operation in adult education. The Department of Education and Science is
currently giving consideration to the outcomes of a review of the functions of the National Adult
Learning Council.

Priority will be given to implementing flexible part-time access to education and training and to
addressing the needs of those who are most disadvantaged and at risk of poverty.

The extended Steering Committee met for the first time on 28 March, 2003 and decided that a data
collecting exercise should be undertaken straight away in order to identify which of the Task force
recommendations are currently in place and which of the recommendations can be implemented
within existing budgets. The outcome of this exercise will be considered at the next meeting of the
Steering Committee which is now expected to take place in September.

The Back to Education Initiative provides for an expansion of part-time Youthreach, Post Leaving
Certificate and Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme options so that adults can combine a
return to learning with work and family responsibilities. Number of places to be increased on a
phased basis with a view to having 20,000 extra places by 2006.

The BTEI part-time measure involves the provision of Further Education programmes on a part-
time basis. The part-time initiative comprises two strands: the Formal Strand (VECs and schools)
and the Community Strand.




                                                                                                    83
Target groups include adults with disabilities, lone parents, early school leavers, unemployed,
travellers, people in the workplace who wish to upgrade their skills

and ex-offenders. There is a commitment in the scheme that 10% of all places approved under the
part-time initiative will be allocated to the Community Strand.

Following the invitation to VECs and schools to apply for an allocation of places, applications were
received and following an appraisal process, 6,691 places were approved. All approved centres
proceeded to establish provision in 2003.

Following the review of current activity, applications for 2004 have been invited from existing and
potential new providers.

The Further Education Development Unit was established in late 2001 to promote part time adult
education, community education and quality assurance in further education.

See also objectives 4 and 5 of Special Initiative - Tackling Educational Disadvantage - Literacy,
Numeracy and Early School Leavers.

The National Qualifications Authority of Ireland, and the Further and Higher Education and
Training Awards Councils were set up in 2001 to develop a single unified system for the
accreditation of all non-university further and higher education and training. A new framework of
qualifications, spanning from basic education/literacy to doctorate level, has just been developed by
the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland and will provide for progression pathways to higher
levels of education and training for award holders. The new framework was launched at a national
conference on 17 October 2003 and there was further publicity and dissemination over the period
October 2003 to June 2004. By summer 2004, the framework has reached a stage where the major
awards for each level and how these will operate and function in relation to each other in the
medium term have been set out. Arrangements have been finalised for the implementation of the
framework within higher education in 2004/05 and planning is underway for implementation in
further education and training.

A National Office for Equity of Access to Higher Education has been established within the Higher
Education Authority and this will promote improved participation by students from socio-
economically disadvantaged backgrounds, students with a disability and mature 'second chance'
students. A number of senior staff have been recruited, including Head of Office, and the Office is
now operational, taking over the administration of a number of access measures from the
Department of Education and Science – the Student Assistance Fund, the Fund for Students with
Disabilities and the Millennium Partnership Fund for Disadvantage as well as the access element of
the Higher Education Authority's targeted initiatives. The Office is currently developing a
national plan to achieve equity of access to higher education in Ireland.

Supporting Equity in Higher Education - A Report to the Minister for Education and Science was
published in May 2003 and is available online at http://www.education.ie/.

The priority skill needs of the economy are being identified on an ongoing basis through the Expert
Group on Future Skills Needs and relevant education and training provision is assessed in light of
its recommendations. The most recent work of the expert skills group has included the completion
and publication of reports on the construction sector, food-processing industry, benchmarking of
education and training development, supply of engineers and engineering technicians and supply
and demand for skills in the biotechnology sector.




                                                                                                  84
Ongoing implementation of initiatives for the ICT sector and the supply of health therapies skills
has been facilitated in 2004 by the investment of €2.5m by the Department of Education and
Science and €0.5m by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment in the ICT skills fund
to support post-graduate conversion courses, a graduate placement programme and actions to
improve completion rates. All of the Institutions received an allocation under the measure to
improve completion rates following the submission of proposals to the HEA.

Investment will continue to be concentrated on meeting skills needs, building on the work of the
Expert Group and the Report of the Task Force on Physical Sciences. Of the 35 recommendations
made in the Report of the Task Force on Physical Sciences for the Education Sector, progress has
been made on 19 of the recommendations and work has been initiated on a further 6. Investment
under the various higher education Research and Development initiatives in 2004 amounts to
€51.5m current and €32.5m capital.

Members of the OECD Review Team presented their report on the future of higher education
in Ireland to the Minister for Education and Science and members of the OECD Education
Committee during a special session in Dublin Castle in September 2004. The report addresses,
inter alia, measures to increase participation in higher education from all socio-economic
backgrounds, part-time, mature and overseas students. The critical importance of lifelong
learning in society is also emphasised.

The report is available on the Department's website - http://www.education.ie/.


(4.4.3) Regulation

                                                                                            TAO
Government White Paper

The Government's White Paper, Regulating Better, was launched on 20 January 2004. The White
Paper, (available at http://www.betterregulation.ie/), establishes a set of principles of Better
Regulation i.e.

− Necessity:- :              Is the regulation necessary?

− Effectiveness:-            Is the regulation properly targeted?

− Proportionality:-          Is the regulation framed in a proportionate way?

− Transparency:-             Have we consulted with stakeholders?

− Accountability:-           Is there an effective appeals process?

 - Consistency:-            Will the regulation give rise to anomalies / conflicts with other
                            Regulations?

The White Paper also sets out a detailed action programme covering the following areas:

− The Legislative Process and Statute Law Revision

− RIA and evidence-based policy-making

− Institutional change and review

                                                                                               85
 − Sectoral Regulation

 − Regulatory Procedures and Processes

A new Better Regulation Group has been established to oversee implementation of the White
Paper and promote better quality regulation across the public service. The Group is chaired
by the Department of the Taoiseach and comprises senior officials from Government
Departments and representatives of sectoral regulators. The Group has met twice to date and
has considered the recommendations of the Enterprise Strategy Group relating to regulatory
reform; an ongoing project to simplify EU legislation; and a proposal to map the regulatory
framework in Ireland. In addition, the Group is overseeing implementation of actions in a
number of areas, including:

 − Statute Law Revision: which involves the review, restatement, consolidation and/or repeal of
   existing legislation. A review of our pre-1922 legislation identified 100 Acts of Parliament
   (Westminster and Irish Parliaments) that are still part of our statute law but have the potential
   to be repealed is now complete. The Office of the Attorney General has completed a
   consultation process on the identified legislation and the next stage in the process will be to
   bring forward legislation for the repeal of legislation that is no longer in use. Other pre-1922
   laws that are still valid (e.g. relating to conveyance law, liquor licensing etc) will be re-enacted
   in more modern form. In addition, there have been four restatements to date; relating to
   the Sale of Goods Acts, the Defence Acts, the Tourist Traffic Acts and the Succession Act.

 − Consultation: this is a key element of both the Regulatory Impact Analysis approach and more
   broadly, of open and inclusive decision-making. Wider and more consistent consultation will
   be facilitated by the development of procedures and guidelines for Departments, Offices and
   others. These guidelines will emphasise the principles of equity and transparency through
   mechanisms for ensuring balanced consultation procedures and the use of a variety of
   mechanisms and channels. The Better Regulation Group will oversee the development of
   guidelines and their promotion among Departments and Offices.

 − Regulatory Impact Analysis: this evidence-based policy making tool is designed to facilitate
   systematic assessment of proposed regulations through quantification of likely impacts, more
   consistent consultation, consideration and use of a wider range of alternatives to regulation and
   better identification of compliance and enforcement issues. As proposed in the White Paper,
   a number of Departments have agreed to participate in piloting a preliminary model of
   Regulatory Impact Analysis. The experience from these pilots will help to inform the
   refinement of the preliminary model before it is mainstreamed.

Specific Sectoral Issues
In relation to the networked industries, infrastructural projects, the enterprise sector and financial
services, specific regulatory developments in these areas will be reported elsewhere in Sustaining
Progress, as part of the general progress being reported by the Departments that are variously
responsible for these major sectors and markets.


(4.4.4) Small business

                                                                                                   ETE

The Government recognises the central role that small business plays in the future growth of the
enterprise base. The Government will work to ensure that the conditions for small business and


                                                                                                         86
entrepreneurship remain competitive and the stimulation of small business creation will remain a
central feature of enterprise policy.

In 2003 Enterprise Ireland introduced new financial incentives to support new high potential start-
up enterprises and targeted 61 such enterprises to start in 2003. This target was achieved.
Enterprise Ireland aims to support 65 high potential start-ups in 2004 and is on target to achieve
this.

In mid 2003 Enterprise Ireland introduced a €10m dedicated Competitiveness Fund to support
SMEs, particularly in the more traditional sectors, to improve their productivity and
competitiveness and thus their prospects for maintaining or increasing their export business. The
Competitiveness Fund Approvals Committee approved 97 applications to the value of €11,904,636.
In order to ensure maximum drawdown of the Fund the Committee agreed with the Department of
Enterprise, Trade and Employment to allow an approval level a fraction greater than the value of
the Fund. The Fund is now closed.

Enterprise Ireland has made commercialisation of publicly funded research a key focus with a view
to maximising the establishment of new enterprises to exploit opportunities emerging or to ensure
that the commercial benefits - sales, exports and jobs - accrue to companies based in Ireland. During
2003, transfers of technology arising from publicly funded research into industry were explicitly
targeted on a pilot basis. In 2004, targets in this area are being adopted across the board.

Strengthening the technological capacity of small firms will involve active encouragement of means
of transferring significant research, technological development and innovation investment, currently
being implemented, into new entrepreneurial initiatives. Any barriers in that regard will be
identified and removed.

As part of its regional development role, Enterprise Ireland works with other agencies in each
region to develop the business infrastructure. Enterprise Ireland infrastructural projects include the
Community Enterprise Centres as well as Incubation facilities in the Colleges, other Technology
Centres and the Webworks, all of which provide a platform for SME development and support.

Enterprise Ireland, in conjunction with the private sector, has also developed a range of seed and
venture capital funds, in many cases dedicated to specific emerging technologies or focused on
business development in the regions outside of Dublin. Under the National Development Plan 2001
- 2006, Enterprise Ireland has committed €98.8 million towards the establishment of 15 new funds.
The objectives of the scheme are:-

− To continue to develop the Seed and Early Stage Venture Capital industry for SMEs in Ireland.

− To encourage investment in sectors difficult to finance.

− To encourage a wider geographical perspective by encouraging regionally based funds.

Since 1999 the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, through its developmental
agencies has funded a number of initiatives to encourage enterprises to exploit the opportunities
afforded by the Information Society. Having regard to the recommendation from the European
Commission, endorsed by the Council in May, 2003, that Member States should regularly review
their support policies to help SMEs adapt to the changing environment for ebusiness, the
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment in conjunction with Forfás, Enterprise Ireland,
Shannon Development and the County Enterprise Boards established an eBusiness Strategy Project
Group in December 2003. The Group is working on the development of a new national strategy to


                                                                                                   87
encourage and assist SMEs including microenterprises to use ebusiness in a way which will
maximise their competitive advantage. Work on the strategy is due to be completed by July 2004.

The Government will continue to work closely with small business organisations through the Round
Table for Small Business and other fora to ensure that the voice of small business is heard
throughout Government.

The Government also acknowledges that the full potential of the EU internal market has yet to be
realised and that Irish firms, particularly small firms, still face barriers in accessing some markets in
EU countries. The services sector will be a key factor in economic growth in the future.

In January, 2004, the European Commission published its proposal for a Directive aimed at
removing barriers to the free movement of Services in the Internal Market. The aim of the proposal
is to create a real Internal Market in services by requiring Member States to cut administrative and
excessive red tape that can currently prevent businesses from offering their services across borders
or from opening premises in other Member States.

The Council Working Party on Competitiveness and Growth has held 14 meetings under the Irish
and Dutch Presidencies, during which it completed two read-throughs of the proposal by the end
of July 2004. The aim of the read-throughs was to allow Member States to get a better
understanding of the scope of the Directive and of its impact and implications for existing schemes,
rules and legislation in the services area. The Working Group is currently engaged in a
detailed examination of the proposal.

The proposal is very substantial and the Department is currently involved in wide
consultations. On 28 April, Forfás, on behalf of the Department of Enterprise Trade and
Employment, launched a public consultation exercise on the proposal. A notice was placed in the
national newspapers seeking written submissions from service users and service producers who
could potentially be affected by the draft Directive. The submissions received will contribute to
Ireland's position on the Directive. Discussions are also taking place with all Departments on the
proposal.

The draft Directive offers scope for Irish business to expand their activities in other Member
States. It also offers benefits to Irish consumers by giving them access to a wider variety of
services at lower cost.

There will be a discussion on the draft Directive at the Competitiveness Council on 24th/25th
of November 2004. A further public consultation on the basis of a revised text, which a
number of Member States, including Ireland, feel is necessary, may take place next year.

Ireland is currently re-launching the SOLVIT initiative. This is an informal Commission-
created network to deal with alleged misapplication of Internal Market rules by EU and EEA
States. The network is a 'helpdesk' for businesses and citizens who encounter difficulties in
accessing EU markets/rights. Each SOLVIT Centre enters a case into an online database
system, which forwards it automatically to the SOLVIT Centre of the Member State/EEA
State about which the complaint has been made.

SOLVIT was established in 2002 and the current Irish re-launch reflects the fact that Irish
organisations that would benefit from it may not be as aware of it as they should be.




                                                                                                      88
(4.4.5) Entrepreneurship

                                                                                               ETE

Entrepreneurial activity is vital to our national capacity to create wealth, to encourage innovation
and to continuing adaptation and greater efficiency in the economy.

The Government recognise the importance of fostering an enterprise culture and of fostering and
supporting entrepreneurship. Specific initiatives in support of entrepreneurship will be taken,
including, in particular, to support entrepreneurship by women and in the social economy.

The development of social finance initiatives in recent years has contributed to developing social
capital in a way that benefits the whole community. Most of the projects assisted by these
initiatives support the development of community infrastructure and social provision at local level.
Government will examine ways to support expanded activity of new funds in consultation with the
relevant interests.

Enterprise Ireland continues to encourage entrepreneurship at grass root level through its support
for Community Enterprise Centres (CECs). In 2004 funding continued to be drawn down by
approved community groups under the Enterprise Ireland 2002 CEC initiative. This
initiative was a significantly upgraded programme of support for communities to enable them
to provide enterprise space in their own areas. The programme aims to enhance the
development of an enterprise climate in areas where it may be lacking or under-developed.
On foot of the first call for proposals, capital grants were approved for 20 community based
projects and feasibility support was approved for a further 30 projects. The second call for
proposals saw the approval of capital grants for 15 projects. To date 11 centres have been
completed under this scheme while the balance are either under construction or at a planning
stage.

Enterprise Ireland has also begun to link the work of managers of campus-based incubator
centres and those from the community sector, and work has commenced on developing a
common training programme for these managers, which will be formulated by the end of
2004.

Tenders have been evaluated and developers appointed for the construction of Webworks -
state of the art building for high-tech, office based projects - to be located by Enterprise
Ireland in Galway and Cork. Work will commence early in 2005. However due to difficulties
in identifying suitable sites, delays are expected to commencement of construction of
Webworks in Waterford, Limerick and Sligo.

The Business Innovation Centres continue to work with Enterprise Ireland in assisting new
start-up and expanding companies in the regions. In addition, the Business Innovation
Centres have considerable expertise in the management of incubation space, and currently
manage both the National Software Centre in Cork and the Galway Technology Centre.

The County Enterprise Boards (CEBs) operate the Women in Business Initiative, a business
network, based at local level, through which established successful businesswomen can act as role
models and provide mentoring and networking opportunities to potential female entrepreneurs in
their own area. These networks provide an on-going programme of activities on business related
topics such as insurance and taxation as well as information exchange.



                                                                                                 89
Alongside the Women in Business Initiative, the CEBs also encourage the active participation of
women in Training and Development Programmes such as Start your Own Business course and
Management Development Programmes. In 2003, almost 7000, women received training on CEB
Programmes throughout the country and almost 500 women completed certified training.
Government action will include a focus on better regulation and will encourage enterprise to apply
eBusiness and eCommerce applications in firms. The Government will continue the accelerated roll
out of eGovernment services for business in their dealings with State agencies.


(4.4.6) Tourism

                                                                                                  AST
Tourism Policy Review

The Chairman of the Tourism Policy Review Group, presented the final Report, New Horizons for
Irish Tourism: An Agenda for Action, to the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, John
O'Donoghue, T.D. on 30 September 2003. This Report, together with the Group's terms of
reference are available on its website, http://www.tourismreview.ie/, from where it may be viewed
online or downloaded. The report sets clear targets for tourism growth over the next 10 years and
more importantly, outlines over 70 recommendations to promote further development of the sector.
By 2012 the report sees potential to double overseas visitor revenue to €6 billion and to increase
overseas visitor numbers from 6 million to 10 million. The Tourism Division of the Department of
Arts, Sport and Tourism has been re-organised to take account of the recommendations of the
Review. The marketing and development plans of the Tourism Agencies for 2004 also incorporate
a number of responses to the Review's recommendations.

The Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism established a high level Implementation Group in
January, 2004 to drive forward the implementation of the 2-year action plan set out in the report.
The Implementation Group has met on 7 occasions to date and presented its first progress report to
the Minister in August 2004. This Progress report covers the first six-month period to Mid-
2004 and indicates high levels of satisfaction with the Government's strong commitment to
implementing the recommendations of the Review. It also praises Fáilte Ireland and Tourism
Ireland for their strong support and for incorporating the Group's recommendations firmly
into their business plans. The report also outlines a list of 10 priority actions, which need to
be pursued to sustain future growth. The Implementation Group will convene a National
Tourism Forum later in the year in conjunction with the Department and the Tourism State
Agencies to report in-depth on the progress to date and to seek industry feedback.

Establishment of the National Tourism Development Authority

The National Tourism Development Authority was established under statute on 28 May 2003.
Under the terms of the legislation, dissolution of Bord Fáilte and CERT was an automatic
consequence of the establishment of the Authority, which is known as Fáilte Ireland.

Fáilte Ireland is focusing on the experience of visitors when they get here, by working closely with
the tourism industry to provide a one-stop-shop for strategic and practical support to develop and
sustain Ireland as a high quality and competitive tourist destination. It is doing so by: identifying
emerging business opportunities; benchmarking competitors in other destinations; identifying and
promoting principles of tourism best practice; establishing and promoting standards of excellence in
customer service; stimulating and supporting the development of new tourism products; developing
compelling marketing propositions for tourism products, and supporting industry marketing
(overseas marketing initiatives will be delivered via Tourism Ireland Ltd.); building capability at all


                                                                                                    90
levels within the industry; continuing to develop and promote the critically important home holiday
segment; encouraging the removal of barriers to development within the broader business
environment; monitoring industry performance and customer experiences; providing support for the
six Regional Tourism Authorities.

To broaden our tourism source markets, to increase our share of the Continental European Market

In line with the commitments in Sustaining Progress, a significant proportion of Exchequer
resources for tourism marketing continues to be targeted at expanding Ireland's appeal in certain
key markets and, in particular, at increasing Ireland's share of the Continental European market.
The outcome for 2003 shows that this investment has paid dividends in a very difficult and
challenging year for tourism internationally. Official CSO statistics for 2003 as a whole indicate
that visitor numbers grew by 5% whilst foreign revenue earnings grew by almost 3%, as Ireland
increased market share and outperformed competitors in many European markets. The increase for
Continental European visitors was close to 8%. The latest CSO figures for the first six months
of 2004 indicate an increase of over 5% in overall visitor numbers, with the North American
market continuing to recover (up 11%) and steady growth from Mainland Europe for the
year to date (up 7%). Despite such positive headline growth, the indications from the
industry are that the holiday market is proving difficult again this year and that pressure on
prices is impacting on industry yield. There are also variations in performance across sectors
and regions, in particular among smaller accommodation providers and along the West coast.

To foster expansion and competition on air and sea routes

Air access to Ireland from key markets has improved significantly over the past 2 years. New route
developments have resulted in an increase from 6 to 8 in the number of U.S. gateways, with a new
scheduled service from Philadelphia by U.S. Airways and the re-introduction of the Aer Lingus
service from Baltimore/Washington. The capacity lost post-Sept 11 has now been recovered. For
example, Aer Lingus will open 13 new routes in 2004 and Continental Airlines will increase its
capacity on the North Atlantic. These should provide a welcome boost to the tourism sector.

To Foster Product Development

The Tourism Product Development Scheme is funded under the Local Enterprise Development
Priority of the two Regional Operational Programmes and is administered by Fáilte Ireland.
Decisions on grant applications under the Scheme are made by independent Management Boards
set up for this purpose.
Up to €50 million in grant aid from the European Regional Development Fund is available to
support investment in tourism product over the NDP period, 2000-2006. The core objective of the
Scheme is to improve the spatial spread of tourism in Ireland. This will be done by helping less
developed tourism areas realise their potential in stimulating new centres of strong tourism growth.
The available funding under the Scheme has been earmarked for tourism product development
under the following headings:

− development of a small number of strategically-located Major Attractions in areas where none
  currently exist, and in the packaging, presentation and, where necessary, completion of a
  limited number of clusters of attractions in less developed tourist areas that have the potential
  to generate greater foreign tourism revenue; and

− development of special-interest products aimed at expanding niche markets (e.g. walking,
  cycling, health tourism etc.)



                                                                                                  91
265 initial applications were received by Fáilte Ireland and the Regional Tourism Authorities for
assistance under the Scheme and some 100 went forward to the second, detailed proposal stage.
Grants totalling in excess of €27m have been approved by the independent Tourism Product
Management Board, in the case of some 36 projects to date, including a major development project
at the Cliffs of Moher. It is expected that final decisions in respect of outstanding proposals will be
taken in the near future.

National Conference Centre

The Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism announced on 25 June 2003 that the Government had
agreed in principle to the provision of a National Conference Centre through an open competitive
procurement process. In accordance with the terms of the Government Decision, the Minister for
Arts, Sport and Tourism established a High Level Steering Group in July, 2003 comprising
representatives of his Department, the Office of Public Works, Fáilte Ireland and the Department of
Finance, supported as necessary by professional expertise, to review the specification, including
operational requirements, for a National Conference Centre, and to agree the parameters of a
procurement process. In November 2003, a Notice inviting Expressions of Interest in the provision
of a National Conference Centre in the Dublin area, with an expected minimum delegate capacity of
the order of 2000, was issued by the Office of Public Works and published in the Official Journal of
the European Union. Four submissions were received by the closing date of 21st January, 2004 and
underwent detailed evaluation. On 7 July, 2004 the Minister announced that three of the four
candidates had been short-listed to proceed to the next stage of the competition.


The procurement process being undertaken is necessarily complex, and very detailed
documentation is required before the next stage can be initiated. The Office of Public Works
and its advisors are continuing to work on the preparation of this document and it remains a
priority of the Minister to have the project brought to a conclusion at the earliest possible date.



(4.4.7) Promoting North/South Partnership

                                                                                                   FA

The Government is continuing to promote North/South and all-island consultation, co-operation and
common action in all areas of mutual interest. Since the suspension of the Northern Ireland
Assembly in October 2002, the North/South Ministerial Council has been unable to meet.
Decisions necessary to ensure the continuation of the work underway in the Areas of Co-operation,
and to safeguard the important public functions of the six North/South Implementation Bodies and
Tourism Ireland, continue to be taken by the two Governments, following their agreement in
November 2002 and the enactment of the British-Irish Agreement (Amendment) Act 2002.

The North/South Bodies exercise important public functions in both parts of the island and employ
a substantial number of staff. The current arrangements in place ensure that the Bodies can continue
to carry out their important work pending the restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the
return to full operation of the NSMC.

A broad range of co-operation in the wider North/South sphere is taking place outside the formal
areas of co-operation agreed under the NSMC. Government Departments and other organisations
are co-operating with their Northern Ireland counterparts on a number of issues, including energy,
telecommunications and higher education.


                                                                                                    92
The Good Friday Agreement provided that consideration be given to the establishment of an
Independent Consultative Forum appointed by the two administrations, North and South, and
representatives of civil society on the island.

At the fourth Plenary meeting of the North/South Ministerial Council, which took place in Armagh
on 28 June 2002, an outline structure for the Forum was agreed by the Council. This involves a
twice yearly conference, alternating between North and South and comprising representatives of
civil society on the island. The planning and organisation of the first conference would be
undertaken by a steering committee drawn from the Northern Ireland Civic Forum and the social
partners in the South. The steering committee would also invite representatives from a range of
relevant organisations, North and South, to participate in the conferences.

The valuable contribution of the social partners to North/South partnership through a range of
agreed actions and objectives is recognised by the Government. Under the new social partnership
agreement, the social partners will continue to make this contribution, including through
participation in the Independent North/South Consultative Forum, when established.

Some progress had been made on implementing the North/South Ministerial Council decision to
establish the Forum prior to the suspension of the Northern Ireland Assembly on 15 October 2002.
However, with suspension, further progress has not been possible.


The Government remains committed to the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement,
and, as envisaged in the Joint Declaration published on 1 May 2003, intends that the Consultative
Forum will be established as soon as possible, once the Northern Ireland Institutions are restored.


(4.4.8) External Relations - EU and the wider world

                                                                                                  FA

Ireland's Presidency of the European Union ended on 30 June 2004. Substantial progress has been
achieved in relation to all the Presidency's main goals. The smooth transition from a Union of
fifteen to twenty five Member States was marked at ceremonies in Dublin and across the country on
May 1st.

At the June European Council, final agreement was reached on the Treaty establishing a
Constitution for Europe. This Treaty will bring the Union closer to its citizens and will equip the
EU for the challenges its faces in the future. The June European Council also acknowledged the
important body of legislative work which the Irish Presidency successfully completed, with over 80
pieces of legislation being approved in this six month period. Other important work included the
follow up and implementation of the Declaration on Combating Terrorism which had been adopted
at the Spring European Council. There were also important achievements in Justice and Home
Affairs, in particular the adoption of the Asylum Qualifications Directive and reaching political
agreement on the Asylum Procedures Directive.

Under the Irish Presidency, negotiations for accession to the EU were provisionally closed with
Bulgaria, and substantial progress was made in negotiations with Romania.

The conclusions of the Spring European Council included a call on Member States to build Reform
Partnerships involving the social partners, civil society and the public authorities, in accordance
with national arrangements and traditions. Such national Reform Partnerships should promote
complementary strategies for change, addressing the broad range of policies - economic, social and

                                                                                                      93
environmental - encompassed by the Lisbon Agenda. These strategies should be reflected in clear
national policies and objectives and should be taken into account by Governments in the course of
preparing national contributions to the mid term review of the Lisbon agenda.

The Irish Presidency also made significant progress in the areas of external relations with action
being taken in the area of effective multilateralism, human rights, conflict prevention, the Middle
East, the promotion of key regional and bilateral partnerships and on African issues.

The Taoiseach, The Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources and Minister of
State Hanafin represented Ireland at the UN World Summit on the Information Society to develop a
common vision of the global Information Society, including the role of ICTs in development co-
operation. In its Presidency role, Ireland continued to advance the EU's preparation for Phase II of
the Summit in Tunisia in 2005.

In March, the Presidency handed over an EU paper to the United Nations on the issues of the setting
up, by the UN Secretary General, of groups to consider (a) financial mechanisms for the funding of
Information and Communication Technologies and Development, and (b) internet governance. The
paper was the EU's considered response to two of the main unresolved issues left over from the first
phase of WSIS which was held in Geneva in December 2003. On 24-26 June, Ireland led the EU at
the first preparatory meeting of Phase II of the World Summit on the Information Society which
took place in Hammamet Tunisia.

In our Presidency role, Ireland led the EU at the preparatory committee for the ten year review of
the Barbados Conference for Small Island Developing States in New York in April and at a
subsequent round of informal negotiations in May. The Irish Presidency finalised a strategy paper
on EU priorities for both the Review in Mauritius in January 2005 and its preparatory process.
Ireland also led the EU at the 12th Commission on Sustainable Development, CSD-12 - the
functional commission set up by the UN to monitor implementation of the Rio and now the
Johannesburg plans of action, which took place in New York during the second half of April. CSD-
12 was the first Review Session under the Commission's new Implementation Cycle adopted after
Johannesburg. Attended by some 70 Ministers, the success of CSD-12 was of critical importance in
keeping up the political momentum and catalysing action to ensure progress in the implementation
of the Johannesburg plan of action. The Irish Presidency has already led the EU at the first ever
European wide Regional Implementation Forum in preparation for CSD-12 which was held in
Geneva in January last. Ireland shall continue to play a role in ensuring that the combating of
HIV/AIDS remains a top priority on the international agenda. Following the Ministerial
conference in Dublin on HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, two further meetings
were organised by the Irish Presidency. A seminar in April, organised with AWEPA, on
'Good Governance for an Effective Response to HIV/AIDS' focused on the role of parliament
in the fight against AIDS. In June a ground-breaking meeting co-hosted with the government
of the Netherlands on new preventive technologies for HIV/AIDS strengthened EU
commitment and paved the way to continue the emphasis on HIV/AIDS in successive EU
Presidencies. In June the Irish Presidency negotiated the agreement of an EU-US Summit
Statement on HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis which commits the EU and US to work
together and in coordination with developing country partners on HIV/AIDS.

The Government attaches a high priority to increasing Ireland's contributions to Official
Development Assistance (ODA). There have been substantial increases in expenditure in
recent years. Total ODA amounted to €254m or 0.30% of GNP in 2000 and is expected to
reach €475m or 0.40 % of GNP in 2004. This level of expenditure demonstrates the strong
commitment of the Government to attain the UN target of 0.70% of GNP.



                                                                                                 94
In percentage terms, Ireland is one of the world's leading donors – we are currently in joint
seventh place – and well above the EU average. It is hoped that increased allocations, the scale
and timing of which will be considered on an ongoing basis, will be possible over the coming
years with a view to achieving our objective.

Following the breakdown of negotiations at the World Trade Organisation Ministerial Meeting in
Cancun in September 2003, Ireland, as Presidency, along with our partners in the EU, engaged in a
period of reflection on the process. In December 2003, the Council of Ministers reiterated the EU's
preference for a multilateral approach to trade policy and its commitment to re-launching
negotiations on the Doha Development Agenda (DDA). Commissioners Fischler and Lamy also
issued a joint letter to WTO members on 9 May laying out the EU's proposals for the DDA
with the aim of creating further impetus for reinvigorating the negotiations. The prospects for
a successful conclusion of the DDA have been boosted recently with the adoption by the WTO
General Council in Geneva on 1 August of a framework agreement for the revival of the talks,
the details of which will need to be fleshed out in subsequent negotiations. Realistically there
is no longer any possibility that the negotiations can be concluded by the original target date
of 1 January 2005, and a date in 2006 is now considered probable.

As Presidency, Ireland endeavoured to facilitate discussions among our EU partners on
reinvigorating negotiations on the DDA, with the aim of achieving an outcome which is fair and
balanced and acceptable to all and where the interests of the developing countries, particularly the
least developed countries, are given particular focus and attention. The WTO is a vital mechanism
for ensuring fair trade in an international context, and the EU remains committed to contributing to
its effective functioning.


Ireland represented the EU at UNCTAD XI, the 11th United Nations Conference on Trade and
Development, which took place in Sao Paola in June 2004. This conference worked towards the
development-friendly integration of developing countries into the world economy. UNCTAD is the
focal point within the United Nations for the integrated treatment of trade and development and the
interrelated issues in the areas of finance, technology, investment and sustainable development. The
theme of UNCTAD XI was enhancing coherence between national development strategies and
global economic processes towards economic growth and development, particularly of developing
countries. The development focus of UNCTAD XI made it a particularly important opportunity for
Ireland to represent the view of the European Union on the issues of trade and development on an
international stage.


(4.5) Agriculture

                                                                                                AF
The overall objectives are set out in the agreement.


(4.5.1) Cap Mid-Term Review
                                                                                                AF
The negotiations on the Mid-term Review were concluded in the Council of Ministers on 26 June
2003. The objectives of protecting farm incomes and safeguarding the gains achieved in the Agenda
2000 agreement and securing the best possible level of support and developmental framework for
the sector were achieved and the potential negative aspects of the Commission's original proposals
were either eliminated or minimised. The agreement represents a successful outcome for Ireland.



                                                                                                 95
The agreement provided for full decoupling and/or various partial-decoupling options for direct
payments. Following the decision, the Minister launched a consultative process which
included consultations with the social partners and other interest groups. Following analysis of
submissions received and taking account of independent studies and the views expressed at
information seminars organised throughout the country by the Department, the Minister announced
on 29 September 2003 that the Dairy Premium would be decoupled with effect from 2005. On 19
October 2003, the Minister announced that all direct payments for cattle, sheep and arable crops
will also be decoupled from 1 January 2005.

The establishment of single payment entitlements for each individual farmer represents a major
undertaking for the Department and a Steering Group was established to oversee the overall
implementation of decoupling. An Implementation Group was also set up to work on the details.
The detailed Commission rules for implementing the Single Payment Scheme were agreed at the
end of March 2004. Significant progress has been made on all areas. Provisional Statements of
Entitlements were issued to over 90% of the farmers involved in early September and the
remainder will be issued as soon as possible. A document is almost finalised for consultation
with all interested parties, including farmers, in relation to Cross-Compliance.


(4.5.2) WTO Negotiations

                                                                                            AF

Following the breakdown of the negotiations on the WTO round in Cancun in September
2003, the negotiations resumed in Geneva and agreement was reached in August on a
framework for the next round. The framework covers the general rules or structure of the
new agreement. The specific reductions in the levels of protection and support which will
apply under the new round were not discussed and will be the subject of further negotiations.

The main elements of the framework agreement insofar as agriculture is concerned are as
follows

− Market Access; substantial improvements in market access for all products through tariff
  reductions; tariffs to be cut according to a single, tiered approach: the higher the tariff,
  the higher cut; the improvements in market access will also be achieved, where
  appropriate, through a combination of tariff quota commitments and tariff reductions.
  Member countries will have discretion to designate a number of sensitive products to
  which lower tariff reductions will apply;

− Export subsidies; parallel elimination of all forms of export assistance such as EU export
  subsidies, export credits, credit guarantees and insurance programmes by a credible end
  date; the reductions to be implemented in annual instalments; trade distorting practices
  with respect to the operations of State Trading Enterprises to be eliminated and
  disciplines to be imposed to prevent food aid being abused for surplus disposal;

− Domestic support; a substantial reduction in the overall level of trade-distorting support.
  A down payment of 20% of this reduction will be made in year 1 of the implementation
  period. Market support measures (the Amber Box) to be reduced substantially and
  product specific ceiling to be introduced; the Blue Box category (payments with minimal
  trade-distorting effect) to be capped and the Green Box (non-trade-distorting payments)
  eligibility criteria to be reviewed and clarified;



                                                                                             96
− all developing countries will benefit from special and differential treatment.

The framework agreement represents a satisfactory outcome for Ireland. The EU's decoupled
direct payments will qualify for Green Box status and will, therefore, be exempt from
reduction in the future. The selection and treatment of sensitive products will be an internal
matter for the EU and the Department will be seeking the most favourable treatment for
nationally sensitive products, especially beef and dairy products. The parallel treatment for
all forms of trade-distorting export practices ensures that the new agreement will result in a
level playing pitch for export competition.


The negotiations will continue on the actual reduction commitments which will apply under
the new round. Agreement on the details is unlikely until well into, and possibly the end of,
2005 or even into 2006. The next WTO Ministerial Conference will take place in Hong Kong
in December 2005.


(4.5.3) Dairy and Beef Sectors

                                                                                                  AF

The central role played by beef and milk in the overall profitability of Irish farming is recognised
and the future maintenance and enhancement of returns from these sectors will depend on increased
competitiveness at farm and processing level, returns from market and EU supports.


(4.5.4) Dairy Sector

                                                                                                  AF

Specific Action: Continue quota distribution schemes that will target committed producers who
need to upscale their operation.

The details of the Milk Quota Restructuring Scheme for 2004 were announced by Minister Walsh in
December 2003. The scheme, which operates at co-operative/dairy level gives priority in the
acquisition of additional quota, at a reasonable price, to active committed producers.

The introduction of the Dairy Premium in 2004 and the decoupling of this payment from 2005 is
expected to have a significant impact on the operation of quota restructuring schemes from that time
onward.

Debate is taking place within the sector on the most suitable restructuring scheme for 2005. As
part of this process, the Department held a meeting involving representatives of the farming bodies
in the industry in May 2004. The purpose of this meeting was to address the key issues arising in
the quota regime, with particular emphasis on the restructuring of milk quota. The views put
forward at that meeting will contribute to future decisions on restructuring.

Specific Action: Give urgent consideration to the most effective arrangements for the processing
and marketing of Irish milk.

The key message of the Prospectus Report, published in March 2003, is that the success and long
time survival of the industry is critically dependant on its ability to address the need for increased
scale in the processing sector, increased investment in R&D and broadening its production mix

                                                                                                   97
towards less reliance on commodity type products. Following its publication, the Minister has met
with most of the major players in the dairy sector to discuss the implementation of strategies for the
future and to identify any areas where he may be able to assist or facilitate with the changes
required in the Irish dairy industry. While the Department and the other relevant state agencies will
provide whatever assistance is possible in this process, the ultimate decisions in relation to
investment, scale and product mix are a matter for the management and boards of the individual co-
ops.

Specific Action: Continue to press the EU Commission to manage the dairy market, both in relation
to internal and export support, in a way that allows a reasonable return to Irish dairy producers.

In 2003, the Minister urged the EU Commission to utilise all market supports available to try to
stimulate demand and stabilise the market for dairy products. The Commission responded by
increasing export refunds and casein production aid.


2004 has seen strong demand for dairy products on the EU and international markets and while
there has been reduction in refund levels during 2004, this reflects the extent to which markets
have strengthened and the improved level of demand for EU exports. Overall the outlook in the
dairy sector remains positive.


(4.5.5) Beef Sector

                                                                                                  AF

Specific Action: Seek that the combination of direct payments to producers and the return on the
sale of cattle for slaughter brings a margin, which can sustain the continued production of cattle on
Irish farms and in Irish conditions at a reasonable economic return.

Following agreement reached on Mid-term Review of the CAP, a decision was taken in October
2003 to fully decouple all direct payments to farmers from 1 January 2005. Consultation is taking
place on the use of modulated funds under agri-environmental /animal health and quality
assurance headings.

During the course of this year cattle prices reached their highest for 6 years and while
currently experiencing a seasonal drop (10%), the long term forecast is that prices will rise in
the context of decoupling.

Specific Action: Encouraging the production of the type and quality of cattle required by the
markets, which can deliver reasonable returns, will involve the introduction at the earliest possible
time of mechanical grading as a replacement for the current system along with increased emphasis
on payment systems based on grade. We shall press the EU Commission for the earliest possible
approval of the mechanical grading system.

Following licensing of machines in November 2003, legislation was introduced in February
2004 to facilitate mechanical grading in meat export plants. The Department introduced a
grant scheme for the purchase and installation of the machines. Department officers ceased
the classification of beef carcases on the 1st August 2004, when the meat industry itself took
over the role of classification pending the introduction of machines over the coming month or
so. As a consequence up to 50 Department officers will be re-assigned. It is expected that
almost 95% of the export-approved kill will be classified by mechanical means.


                                                                                                   98
Specific Action: Efforts by the Government to regain access to all markets for Irish beef will
continue so that the necessary marketing options and flexibilities are available to exporters to
maximise returns to primary producers.

There are ongoing Diplomatic and Official contact regarding the Gulf States. From the 5th
October, the Algerian market re-opened to Irish beef and beef products following a ban
imposed by their authorities during the BSE crisis in Europe in 2000. The recently concluded
EU / Russian Veterinary Agreement clears the way for the uninterrupted trade from the EU
to Russia. From the 1st October agreed EU / Russia veterinary certificates will be in place for
all exports of meat, dairy and other products to Russia.

Specific Action: The Department of Agriculture and Food will continue to encourage the
development of the processing sector that is best suited to the current throughput of cattle and the
need to add maximum value to output from Irish farms and improve international competitiveness.

Progress by the industry towards a reconfiguration of processing capacity is currently the
subject of an examination by the Competition Authority.


(4.5.6) The Food Industry

                                                                                                AF

Specific Action: Continue to provide support and implement a range of measures including capital
investment, technology and innovation, marketing and promotion and the development of human
resources in the sector. In view of the many challenges facing the industry, the level of on-going
investment shall be examined. This examination shall include the advantages that might accrue
from the modification of criteria for aid in the sector within existing state aid rules.

A record €18m budget in 2004 has allowed issue of new calls for food research (FIRM) and
capital investment projects. In all, 132 research proposals were submitted and following
independent evaluation 36 top ranking (A, B+) projects for food research amounting to €17m
were approved in September. Capital investment proposals are currently being evaluated.

DAF and Enterprise Ireland met in September on the issue of commercialising food research
and set up a group to recommend mechanisms for increasing investment by industry in food
research. Practical exchanges of information on research potential will also be encouraged.

EU proposals on state aid rules are being examined.

Following the enactment of the An Bord Bia (Amendment) Act 2004 Bord Glas was merged
with An Bord Bia on 1 July 2004. A revised statement of strategy covering the full range of An
Bord Bia responsibilities will be drawn up by the end of 2004.

Specific Action: The Government shall encourage the industry to build long-term relationships in
premium export markets with strong emphasis on value added products.

DAF is represented on the Interdepartmental Group charged with taking the Enterprise
Strategy Report forward. The Prospectus Report has identified future strategies for the dairy
sector. A co-operation agreement between An Bord Bia and Enterprise Ireland is working
since August 2003.




                                                                                                 99
Bord Bia's 2004 programme is geared to marketing of beef and value-added products to
premium EU markets. Their 2004 Meat Forum and Marketplace Ireland events were highly
successful in forging business meetings between Irish suppliers and world-class buyers. Bord
Bia's brand forum enjoys excellent industry participation.

Specific Action; The Government shall also seek to improve the level of information available to
consumers through clear labelling of food.

An Inter Departmental Group was established comprising representatives of relevant Departments,
FSAI & Food Safety Promotion Board to monitor the implementation of the food labelling group
recommendations. Significant progress has been made in the implementation of the
recommendations and this is summarised below.

The report of the Food Labelling Group, contained two main issues:

Centralisation of enforcement- It was agreed that centralisation of enforcement in the FSAI for all
food labelling, which comes under the aegis of Department of Health and Children. In order to
achieve centralisation of enforcement, responsibility for general food labelling legislation was
transferred from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment to the Department of Health
& Children in June 2003. It was also agreed that the enforcement of the labelling legislation which
came within the remit of the Department of Agriculture and Food, would be transferred to the FSAI
through it's inclusion in the service contract between this Department and the FSAI. This has now
been accomplished.

Definition of Origin- The Labelling Group recommended that further research was necessary to
establish consumer's wishes on the definition of 'Origin'. At the request of the Minister, the
Consumer Liaison Panel commissioned consumer research on this issue and presented the results to
the Minister in December 2003. As a result of the findings of this research, the Minister has
introduced new legislation on poultry meat sold loose or pre-packaged. It requires the origin of the
poultry meat sourced from outside the EU to bear an indication of the country of origin when
offered for sale in retail premises. Heretofore, these labelling indications had been compulsory for
pre-packaged poultry meat only. In the meantime, at the request of Minister Walsh, Commissioner
Fischler has agreed that the issue of extending the beef labelling legislation to the catering sector
will be considered in the context of the overall review of this legislation by the European
Commission. The review, which was published in April 2004, does not recommend the extension of
the labelling legislation on an EU wide basis but it does not preclude Member States taking
unilateral action in this regard. The Minister has decided to proceed immediately with a legal
requirement for such labelling in restaurants and catering establishments.

Action has been taken on a number of other recommendations contained in the report specifically:

− Allergens and Nutritional Claims: In November 2003, the Council and European Parliament
  adopted a proposal for the inclusion of allergen ingredients on food labels. Proposals for
  amendments to the rules on health or nutritional claims in relation to food are being progressed
  at EU level.

− Education/Information: DAF has met with the National Council for Curriculum and
  Assessment (NCCA) and on the basis of these discussions is working with the Food Safety
  Promotion Board (Safefood) on proposals to provide material on food safety/ labelling/
  consumer issues for the assistance of teachers of the Social Personal and Health education
  course in secondary schools. This was considered by the NCCA to be the most appropriate
  approach to this issue. The material will be backed up by web based information for pupils.


                                                                                                 100
    This material was launched on a pilot basis on 28th September 2004 with a view to
    distributing to all post-primary schools early in 2005.

 − Clear pricing on per weight unit basis: the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment
   introduced regulations in March.

 − Simple, Accurate Labelling: IBEC has produced a practical guide to industry on food and
   drinks labelling, since the last progress report.

 − Definition of Substantial Transformation: A definition of 'substantial transformation' has been
   received from the EU Commission which is applicable to all sectors, i.e. customs, industry etc.
   and is in operation.

The Minister for Agriculture and Food made regulations transposing EU directives on the labelling
of chocolate, fruit juices, jams, sugar and honey between June and August 2003


(4.5.7) Environment Enhancement


(4.5.7.1) Nitrates

                                                                                                AF

Specific Action: Government will consult with the main farming organisations and other interests
on the detailed provisions of the action programme for the implementation of the Nitrates Directive.

A revised draft Action Programme was published in July 2004 by the Department of the
Environment, Heritage and Local Government in conjunction with the Department of
Agriculture and Food and in consultation with Teagasc. A draft proposal for a derogation
above the general limit in the Directive of 170kg organic nitrogen per hectare was also
prepared by Teagasc, together with draft Guidelines for Farmers prepared by the
Department of Agriculture and Food. Stakeholders were invited to make comments on all
three documents by 10 September 2004. These have been examined by Mr Denis Brosnan,
former Managing Director and Chairman of the Kerry Group, who was asked by the
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to act as an independent
adviser in relation to the draft Action Programme. Mr Brosnan's report was received on 8
October, 2004. A final version of the draft Action Programme is being prepared and will be
sent to the European Commission by the end of October. The action programme will be
implemented on a phased basis with effect from 1 January 2005 and will operate for a period
of 4 years.

Under Sustaining Progress direct discussions have also taken place between the farming pillar and
the two Departments.

Specific Action: Government will use flexibility in the Directive to seek to secure European
Commission approval for limits of up to 250 kg/ha per annum to be allowable in appropriate
circumstances.

A draft proposal for a derogation above the general limit in the Directive of 170kg organic
nitrogen per hectare, up to 250 kg per hectare, has been prepared by Teagasc and the
Department of Agriculture and Food, and will be submitted to the European Commission
together with proposals for an Action Programme.

                                                                                                101
Specific Action: Ensure that appropriate measures are taken to prevent water pollution by all sectors
and that a disproportionate or undue burden is not placed on the agriculture sector.

This is an ongoing process (e.g. investment in wastewater treatment facilities and development of
River Basin Management Projects).

Specific Action: The Department of Agriculture and Food will carry out a complete review of
REPS, to encourage greater participation by farmers in the scheme. They will seek approval in
negotiation with the EU Commission based on analysis of the underlying data, for payment rates of
€200 for first 20 hectares, €175 for next 20 hectares and €70 for next 15 hectares.

An amended REPS Scheme, providing for the agreed payment rates, was introduced on 1 June
2004.

Specific Action: To ensure the greatest possible level of investment in the Farm Waste
Management Scheme, the income ceiling shall be increased to 450 income units. The investment
ceiling for the Farm Waste and Dairy Hygiene Schemes to be increased to €75K and €50K
respectively.

The amendments proposed required EU approval before they could be implemented. Formal
Commission Decisions were signed to this effect on 29 December, 2003 and notified to this
Department on 5 January, 2004. The Minister publicly announced the introduction of the new
schemes on the same day. As well as increasing the income unit and investment ceilings as
described above, the revised schemes also incorporate a standardised rate of aid of 40% for most
investments. The Sustaining Progress agreement also proposed to revise Standard Costs (used to
calculate grants). This is completely within national competence and these costs were quickly
revised and backdated to approvals issued since 1 December 2002. Sustaining Progress also seeks
to have schemes extended to include farmers with less than 20 IU. Previous efforts to persuade EU
to allow this have failed but will be continued.

Detail of applications and payments to end of 2003:


Farm Waste Management Scheme

                                       2001   2002     2003           31/07/04       Total
Applications                           2,454  2,997   1,515            1,802          8,768
Approvals                              1,410  2,499   1,635            1,415          6,995
Payments                                  48  1,230   2,074            1,108          4,460
Expenditure                           €0.16m €9.38m €20.64m           €10.80m        €40.98m

Dairy Hygiene Scheme
                                      2001       2002    2003          31/07/04       Total
Applications                            600       682     335            821          2,438
Approvals                               432       513     382             665         1,992
Payments                                 43       451     440            140          1,074
Expenditure                           €0.16m      €2.06m €2.43m        €1.10m        €5.75m

Evidence of the increase in interest in the revised schemes which entered into force in January 2004
is shown by the fact that applications under both schemes have increased significantly in the first
six months of 2004, as compared with the same period last year. In the case of the Farm Waste
Management Scheme, the number of applications has increased by 96% over the first half of


                                                                                                 102
2003 (1476 versus 751), while the Dairy Hygiene applications have increased by 240% (711
versus 209).

Specific Action: The Government is to establish an Independent Appeals Committee put forward by
farmers regarding the destocking percentages on the Commonage Framework Plans.

The Independent Appeals Committee is in operation.

Specific Action: The operational arrangements including the possible separation of green land shall
be included as an element of the REPS Review.

Operational arrangements including possible separation of green land formed part of proposals on
REPS to European Commission and are being implemented under the revised scheme
introduced on 1 June 2004.



(4.5.7.2) Special Areas of Conservation (SACs)

                                                                                                 AF

Specific Action: Review of the European Communities (Natural Habitat) Regulations 1997, to
include issues of:

− Procedure (including consultation and compensation for restrictions arising from the
  Regulations) on which farming interests have raised concerns [and]
− The formalisation of the role of the SAC Appeals Advisory Board including extending the
  Board's remit to consider refusals of consent for operations or activities in designated areas.

This process was set in train by a meeting between the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and
Local Government and the four farming organisations. Following a series of meetings agreement
was reached in July 2004.

It was agreed that the role of the SAC Appeals Advisory Board would not be formalised at
present. It was agreed that this issue would be reviewed after a period of 12 months.
Agreement was also reached on a number of other specific issues, including a revised, more
restricted approach to inclusion of marginal lands in river SACs, and enhanced compensation
for those ceasing turf cutting for domestic purposes in designated bogs.

Specific Actions: The Government is particularly mindful of the need, in the interests of sustainable
development, for a considerable expansion of afforestation and renewable energy developments in
rural areas.

The Partnership Agreement provides for planting of up to 20,000 hectares per annum. An
allocation of €116 million has been provided for forestry in 2004. (Up from €82.5million in
2003)

The issue in relation to the contribution of forest biomass and its maximisation will be addressed in
the review of the National Climate Change Strategy (see section 4.3.1) and by the recently
established Bio-Energy Strategy Group under the aegis of the Department of Communications,
Marine and Natural Resources.




                                                                                                 103
Specific Action: Applications for payment of forestry grants in SACs/SPAs will be considered on
their merits and proposals, which do not have significant negative effects on the environment, will
not be opposed on environmental grounds.

There will be consideration, in consultation with appropriate statutory bodies, for specific
arrangements in relation to the hen harrier. The results of consultation will determine the outcome.

Specific Action: The Government is fully committed to continuing consultation with the main
farming organisations about managing nature conservation requirements.
Farming pillar organisations were invited by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local
Government to discussions as part of the review of nature conservation requirements. (see details
above).


(4.6) Animal Health

                                                                                                 AF

Specific Action: Programmes will be pursued to eradicate Brucellosis, further reduce incidents of
Bovine Tuberculosis and to apply all control measures to further reduce incidents of BSE.

− Eradicate Brucellosis: Steady progress has been made since 1998 in reducing the incidence of
  Brucellosis. Progress is being maintained in 2004, with reductions in the main indicators,
  (laboratory positives, new restrictions, number of animals removed and depopulations).

− Further reduce incidents of Bovine Tuberculosis, TB: The level of TB has been falling also in
  recent years – approx 12,800 reactors in 2004 compared with 14,200 to end July 2003. The
  number of reactors this year will be very significantly lower than the 45,000 detected in
  1998 and 1999. The wildlife programme has been rolled out. Results of the Four Area Project
  will be published shortly.

− Apply all control measures to further reduce incidents of BSE: Numbers are now in decline,
  and the age profile of identified cases is increasing. For 2003, the number of cases (182) was
  more than 45% lower than the numbers in 2002 (333). The reduction is continuing in 2004
  with over 30% fewer cases in the first 9 months compared with the same period in 2003.
  Cattle confirmed with BSE have, with rare exceptions, been born prior to the introduction of
  the enhanced controls in 1996 and 1997 e.g. in 2003 some 1% of cases were identified in
  animals less than six years old at the time of diagnosis, compared with 16% in 2001 and 40%
  in 2000. This is a clear indication that the enhanced controls in place since 1996/1997 have had
  a dramatic effect in reducing exposure to infectivity in animals born in 1997 and thereafter.

Specific Action: Value for money reviews of expenditure will be carried out during 2003 with a
view to identifying savings while protecting consumer health, animal health and animal welfare and
complying with statutory requirements. In light of these efficiencies disease levies will be reviewed
from 1 January 2004.

In line with this commitment, the TB and Brucellosis eradication programmes are subject to
ongoing review. In the light of the ongoing improvement in TB and Brucellosis levels and the
consequent reduced costs of the schemes, the Bovine Diseases Levies rates were reduced by 25%
from 1 January 2004 following Government approval in December 2003 and subsequent approval
of the Houses of the Oireachtas. The reduction is worth some €5m to farmers in a full year. The
new rates are expected to yield about 50% of projected compensation costs in 2004. Rates of levies


                                                                                                 104
for 2005 will be reviewed in the light of the estimated costs of the schemes (in particular the
compensation aspects) in 2005.

Specific Action: The current system of Sheep Identification will be reviewed in the light of the
forthcoming statutory provisions at EU level.

Aspects of the current system of Sheep Identification will be adjusted to align it with the regulation
on identification adopted in the EU Council of Ministers.



(4.7) Adapting Agriculture to Change

                                                                                             AF/FIN

Specific Action: The Agri-Food 2010 Committee's Report will be re-examined and updated in the
light of developments under the Mid Term Review and WTO and including a review of farm
incomes and competitiveness issues in the sector.

The Minister for Agriculture and Food has established a high-level group to set out a vision for the
Agriculture and Food Sector for the coming decade. The Group is broadly based and possesses a
wide range of skills and experience. The members are drawn from farming (including the
Presidents of the four organisations within the Farming Pillar), the food industry, research,
academia and the state agencies with a direct interest in the agriculture and food industries. The
Chairman is Mr Alan Dukes and the group commenced its work at the beginning of the year.

While the group's terms of reference are quite broad ranging, their task is to address the issues and
challenges arising from the changed environment for the agri-food sector, both internal and
external.

The Group is expected to issue its report at the end of October.

Specific Action: Full stamp duty relief on land transfers to young trained farmers will be continued
for a further three years until 31 December 2005.

Section 137 of Finance Act 2003 provided for the extension of the termination date for the stamp
duty relief on transfers of land to young trained farmers for a three-year period from 31st of
December 2002 to 31st of December 2005.

Specific Action: The existing 25% scheme of stock relief for farmers will be continued for a further
two years until 31 December 2004. Section 18 of Finance Act 2003 provided for an extension of the
25% stock relief scheme for farmers for a period of two years to 31 December 2004.

The special rate of stock relief of 100% for young trained farmers will be continued for a further
two years, subject to a commencement order by the Minister for Finance. Section 19 of Finance Act
2003 provided for the continuation of the special incentive stock relief scheme for young trained
farmers for a further two years from 1 January 2003 to 31st of December 2004 subject to the
signature of a Commencement Order by the Minister for Finance.

Specific Action: Under EU VAT law, the VAT rate under the flat rate scheme for unregistered
farmers is set on the basis of macro-economic data for the previous three years. The Government
will arrange for the relevant Departments and Offices to meet with farming representatives to



                                                                                                  105
elaborate on the data and methodology used in this calculation with a view to full transparency in its
operation.

The data and methodology used in the calculation of the VAT flat rate addition were
presented in detail over three meetings held between October 2003 and March 2004 and
attended by representatives of all the farming organisations, the Department of Finance,
Revenue Commissioners and the Central Statistics Office. A further meeting was held on 6
October 2004 to explore a number of issues raised subsequently by the farming organisations
and these are being considered.

Specific Action: The Government shall introduce a Land Bill on the operation of Land Purchase
Annuities and the management of former Land Commission lands owned by the Minister for
Agriculture and Food.

The Bill was published in July 2004 and is continuing its passage through the legislative
process.

Specific Action: The Government shall examine, in conjunction with the Commission, the
possibility of extending the Disadvantaged Areas Classification to the whole BMW Region. In this
context, the question of designating the remaining parts of Co. Monaghan as severely handicapped
will also be examined.

Possible extension or reclassification of Ireland's Disadvantaged Areas was raised informally
with the Commission in 2003 and early 2004 – who cautioned, however, that a request for
either could lead to Ireland being asked for justification as to whether or not all its areas
currently classified as Disadvantaged met the criteria.

In mid-2004 Commission published a Draft Regulation on Rural Development which included
a new Disadvantaged Areas definition concentrating on significant natural handicaps, notably
a low soil productivity or poor climate conditions and where maintaining an extensive farming
activity is important for the management of the land – but not mentioning previous criteria
applied here such as low productivity (as measured by farm income and percentage of the
working population in farming) or a low or dwindling population mainly dependent on
farming. Negotiations on this Draft will continue into 2005.



(4.8) Customer Service

                                                                                                  AF

Specific Action: It is recognised by all parties that great progress has been made in recent years in
the delivery of services, schemes and payments to farmers. The objective shall be to build on the
progress already made.

The Protocol on Direct Payments to Farmers was agreed in July 2000 and adhered to since.
Consultation has taken place with the farming bodies on the implications of the MTR. In September
/ October 2003 the Department organised a total of 49 public information meetings around the
country to explain directly to farmers the outcome of the MTR negotiations and the options
available to Ireland on the decoupling proposals. Formal consultation will continue with the Social
Partner Farm Organisations in the Monitoring Committee on the Protocol on Direct Payments to
Farmers, established under PPF.



                                                                                                  106
Specific Action: Effective consultation arrangements with all customers will be maintained. In
view of the importance of direct payments to farmers ' incomes, such consultation is of particular
importance to the farming bodies. In this context, intense efforts shall be made through the
consultative process to ensure a full understanding by applicants of the necessary control measures
required to be applied under EU rules to the various schemes and thereby contribute to a reduction
in penalties incurred.

Consultation will take place with the interested parties regarding the approach to inspections
and the requirements of Cross Compliance. After the consultation period the Department will
prepare and circulate an information booklet on Cross Compliance to all clients. In addition it
is proposed to continue with the information meetings on the new Single Payment Scheme.
The next series of meeting is scheduled for early 2005.

Specific Action: The Customer Service Action Plan (which includes the protocol on payments) will
be updated and revised delivery targets will be examined.

The Protocol Monitoring Committee was consulted on this proposal and it was agreed that the
revision work on the payments and related delivery targets would be deferred until the details of the
MTR proposals were finalised. As the MTR has now been completed, the process by which this
review should now take place is under active consideration. In the meantime, a widespread
consultative process on all aspects of the next Customer Service Action Plan (2005-07) and a
Customer Charter, both to be introduced in 2004, is currently underway.

Specific Action: With the aim of significantly simplifying procedures and facilitating farmers in
marketing their product, the CMMS will be used to the greatest possible extent commencing with
the 2003 scheme for the calculation of stocking rates for the payment of extensification premia.

The CMMS database is used increasingly and systematically to reduce the burden of paperwork for
farmers, notably, through the elimination or simplification of application forms for livestock
premium schemes, the establishment of premium entitlements direct from the CMMS and the
provision of ongoing data to farmers on the number and status of animals in their herds.

The CMMS is also increasingly used as a statistical tool to assist the industry in many ways,
including the making of informed decisions about breeding and production.

In 2003, the CMMS was further enhanced and developed to ensure and improve the integrity of
data:-

− to calculate stocking rates for the payment of extensification premia based on the five census
  dates; to assist in the testing and certification requirements of a variety of schemes such as
  certification of beef for Russia, determination of age for BSE testing etc.

− to provide a statistical abstract of cattle numbers, births, movements and disposals by gender,
  breed and region;

− to provide bovine herd profiles by e-mail direct to farmers

In 2004 the system is being further developed to provide on-line internet based bovine herd profile
and cattle movement enquiry facilities for farmers. It is also intended to develop a project to provide
training and assistance to farmers with difficulties in understanding the paperwork associated with
CMMS compliance. The database is also being used to provide farmers with herd profiles to
coincide with each census date to enable them to check the correctness of their CMMS
database position. The Department also published a statistical report of data obtained from

                                                                                                   107
the CMMS system in June 2004. This report contains comparative analysis on trends in
animal births, movements and disposals for use by the cattle and beef industry. The Dept has
also used CMMS to verify calving details to assist in the classification of cows under the
automated beef carcass classification arrangements operated in meat factories (from August
2004)

Specific Action: The Department will continue to seek to apply the benefits of Information
Technology wherever possible in the interests of quality customer service.

The following new initiatives in IT have been introduced to build on our quality customer service:


− The iMAP (Internet Mapping and Area Payments) internet system allows farmers view
  on-line their area aid application information, their land parcel maps (in colour),
  payment information and all documents sent and received pertaining to their application.
− A utility to allow the herd owners to view their bovine herd profile and animal details
  over the Internet has been implemented.
− Internet based Sheep Tagging and Registration System (STAR)
− Internet based National Pig Identification and Tracking System (NPITS)
− SMS text messaging facilities are now being employed to convey information to customers
− Installation of Public Service Kiosks in 5 regional offices on a pilot basis initially.
− DAF scheme information now available to the public through new Reach Services portal.
− Underlying infrastructure has been put in place in the Department to enable full
  connectivity between our own technical architecture and the PSB (Public Service Broker)
  Integration Framework.
− Involvement with REACH on Public Service Broker project in relation to projects i.e.
  Electronic SAD (Single Administrative Document) and Importation Notification systems.
− Departmental website redeveloped to the highest levels of accessibility.
− Farmers can now opt for payment by Direct Credit to their bank account
− Pesticides Control Service product and supplier enquiry facility now available from the
  Departments website.
− Commonage framework plans database has been made available from the Departments
  website.


(4.9) Farmers as Preferential Creditors

                                                                                                AF

Specific Action: The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment has asked the current
Company Law Review Group to consider the position of farmers as preferential creditors in the
context of the Group's examination of the law relating to liquidations and the winding-up of
companies. The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment will consider very carefully the
conclusions of the Company Law Review Group in regard to the question of farmers being treated
as preferential creditors in liquidation.

The Review Group issued a standing invitation to any interested party to make a submission to the
Group. The Group's second report was presented to the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise Trade
and Employment at end March 2004 and was published at end-May 2004. The views of the Review
Group on the issue of creditor preference for farmers are addressed in the report.



                                                                                                 108
(4.10) Forestry

                                                                                                  AF
Context

Responsibility for forestry policy and the Forest Service transferred to the Minister for Agriculture
and Food with effect from 1st of January 2004. The decision reflects the view of the Government
of the need for co-coordinated policy making on forestry and other agricultural land uses, at
national and EU levels.

Specific Action: Progressive implementation of the Strategic Plan for Forestry with continued
emphasis on farm forestry. Given the significant developments in the interim since the publication
of the Strategic Plan for Forestry in 1996, it is proposed to initiate a review of the Plan this year.
Such review will include consultation with forestry stakeholders.

The Progressive implementation of the Strategic Plan for Forestry is an ongoing measure with a
continued emphasis on farm forestry. The review of the Strategic Plan for Forestry (carried out
by Peter Bacon) has now been completed and was presented to the Minister for Agriculture &
Food on 23 September. A detailed evaluation will follow, which will include consultation with
forestry stakeholders.

Specific Action: Promote and support increased planting levels up to 20,000 hectares per annum.

An allocation of €116 million has been provided for forestry in 2004. (Up from €82.5million in
2003) It is anticipated that some 10-12,000 ha will be planted in 2004. A favourable outcome
to the Single Payment negotiations (allowing farmers to plant up to 50% of land and maintain
entitlements) is likely to substantially increase planting over next few years.

Specific Action: Government will review, with the European Commission at the Mid-Term Review
stage, the levels of financial incentives for afforestation.

The level of financial incentives for forestry will be examined in the context of the detailed
evaluation of the review of the Strategic Plan. Commission proposals for a new Rural
Development Regulation have adverse implications for forestry.

Specific Action: Continuation of the consent system for consideration of afforestation applications,
including the public notification system as a practical measure to increase acceptance of
afforestation in rural communities.

The consent system for consideration of afforestation applications is maintained.

Specific Action: Maximise forestry contribution towards achievement of Ireland's objectives under
the Kyoto Protocol.

The forestry contribution towards achievement of Ireland's objectives under the Kyoto Protocol will
be maximised through planting levels. The value of this contribution is highlighted in the recent
report on Ireland's Forest Strategy by Peter Bacon.




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(5) DELIVERING A FAIR AND INCLUSIVE SOCIETY

(5.1) Poverty and Social Inclusion


(5.1.1) Objective

                                                                                           Secretariat

The core objective is to build a fair and inclusive society and to ensure that people have the
resources and opportunities to live life with dignity and have access to the quality public services
that underpin life chances and experiences.


(5.1.2) Key Principles

                                                                                                  SFA

Work on the implementation of the NAPS is ongoing. Ireland's second National Action Plan for
Social Inclusion (NAPs/incl) 2003 - 2005 was presented to the EU on 31 July 2003. (The Plan is
available on the Department's website at
http://www.welfare.ie/publications/naps/nactplan/index.html). The Plan will renew impetus for the
implementation of the National Anti Poverty Strategy (NAPS) (available at
http://www.welfare.ie/publications/index.html) and related social inclusion measures. Preparations
for the plan included an extensive consultation exercise which identified emerging causes of
exclusion and priorities for future action.

The first Annual Report of the Office for Social Inclusion, due in late 2004, will address progress to
date on the implementation of the NAPs/incl. This report will be informed by the monitoring and
evaluation procedures that have been put in place between the Office for Social Inclusion and
relevant Departments.



(5.1.3) National Anti-Poverty Strategy

                                                                                                  SFA

The Government is committed to achieving a new benchmark for the lowest social welfare
payments of €150 per week (in 2002 terms) by 2007 and for the appropriate equivalence level of
basic child income support to be set at 33% - 35% of the minimum adult social welfare rate.

Budget 2004 made provision for an increase of €10 per week (or 8%) in the lowest rate of social
welfare payments, thereby making progress towards the achievement of the benchmark of €150 per
week (in 2002 terms) for this rate. Following Budget 2004, the equivalence level of basic child
income support is 35% of the minimum social welfare rates, in line with the commitment to achieve
equivalence levels of between 33 and 35% by 2007.

Budget 2004 made provision for increases of €6 and €8, respectively, in the lower and higher rates
of Child Benefit (bringing them to €131.60 and €165.30 per month), thereby making progress
towards the achievement of the child benefit strategy, to which the Government remains committed.


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The commitments in relation to personal and qualified adult rates of payment relate to their
achievement by 2007. The commitment relating to the rate of Child Benefit relates to 2005. Budget
2004 made specific progress towards the achievement of all of these commitments and these will be
further progressed within the relevant time-frames.

All four Social Partnership pillars and relevant Government Departments are represented on the
Social Inclusion Consultative Group which met twice during 2003 on 29 May and 9 July. The first
meeting of 2004 was held on the 27th of February. A second meeting of the Social Inclusion
Committee took place on 8th September 2004. Items discussed included the OSI Annual
Report (content and timeframe), interim update on NAP/inclusion 2003-2005 for EU
Commission, timeframe for report on review of current NAP/inclusion and for development
of its successor, and role of the Social Inclusion Consultative Group in process, preparation
for Social Inclusion Forum and updates on EU developments, including reports to the Council
of the Irish Presidency Conferences. A provisional date of 19 January 2005 was set for the
next meeting.



                                                                                           CRGA

An amount of €42.144 million is provided in the vote of the Department of Community, Rural and
Gaeltacht Affairs in 2004 to support the Local Development Social Inclusion Programme. In
addition a total of €5.8 million is available for the RAPID Programme in 2004. This funding is
broken down as €1.3 million current funding to support the implementation of the Programme and
€4.5 million capital funding to support small-scale low cost actions in RAPID areas, through co-
funding with relevant agencies. Total funding of €6.5 million (including co-funding from relevant
Departments) was announced to support projects under the following measures - Local Authority
Estate Enhancement, Playgrounds in RAPID areas and top-up funding to successful projects in
RAPID areas under the Sports Capital Programme. Disadvantaged communities will continue to be
supported under these Programmes.

Community Development Programme

€20.6 million has been allocated to the Community Development Programme in 2004 to support
locally-based community groups in disadvantaged areas who are engaged in anti-poverty and social
inclusion initiatives. The total number of projects supported under the Programme is currently 174,
including 4 off-shore island projects. It is hoped to bring on stream a further 10 projects in
development late in 2004. It is hoped to bring the remaining 4 projects on stream in 2005. The
above €20.6 million includes provision of €500,000 for this purpose.

Grants for Locally-based Community and Voluntary Organisations

The scheme targets small local community groups working with disadvantaged groups or in
disadvantaged areas. The scheme was advertised on 29th April 2004. The closing date for receipt
of applications was 31st May 2004. Approximately 1,200 applications have been received and the
process of assessment will shortly be completed. Applicants will be notified of the outcome of
their applications in October. €2.7 million has been allocated to the Scheme in 2004.

Scheme of Community Support for Older People

The purpose of this scheme is to provide funding for initiatives to improve the security and social
support of vulnerable older people. The closing date for the scheme was 13 September.


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Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their applications in December. €2.4 million has
been allocated to the Scheme in 2004.



                                                                                                   HC

Special Residential Services Board

The Special Residential Services Board, provided for in Part 11 the Children Act 2001, was
established on a statutory basis in November, 2003. The functions of the board are broadly
twofold: a) to co-ordinate and to advise the Ministers for Health and Children and Education
and Science on policy issues relating to the remand and detention of offending children in
detention schools and the detention of non-offending children in need of special care or
protection in special care units run by or on behalf of health boards and b) to advise the
courts on individual cases concerning placement of non- offending children in need of special
care or protection and placement for offending children under 16. It will play an important
role in ensuring the effective co-ordination of residential services for non-offending children
in need of special care or protection and juvenile justices services run under the aegis of the
Department of Education and Science.

The Executive of the SRSB currently has 10 staff including the CEO and four Court Officers.
Two additional Court Officers are due to be appointed by the end of October, pending Garda
clearance. The SRSB has a key role in acting as a change agent vis a vis courts, media, public
health services, justice etc.

Social Services Inspectorate

The Social Services Inspectorate (SSI) was established in April 1999 on an administrative basis.

The Health Strategy, Quality and Fairness: A Health System for You, states that the remit of the SSI
will be extended to cover residential care for older people and people with disabilities. It is
concentrating on the Child Care area and in particular on the inspection of health board operated
residential child care facilities and on the inspection, on a pilot basis, of foster care services.

A Statutory Instrument to enable the SSI to be established under the Health (Corporate Bodies) Act,
1961 on a statutory footing has been drafted and is currently with the Department of Finance.

The Inspectorate currently has 1 Chief Inspector, 5 Inspectors and 3 administrative staff. Funding
of €400,000 has been made available to allow for the Inspectorate to be set up on a statutory
basis.

Youth Advocate Programmes

Youth Advocate Programmes (YAP) were established on a pilot basis in 2002 in the Northern Area
Health Board and in the Western Health Board. YAP aims to maintain young people at risk of out-
of-home placement in their own homes or other family placements such as with relatives, in foster
care, or supported lodgings. This objective also incorporates: reducing the length of stay in an out-
of-home placement; enabling a step-down from high secure care to residential care; preventing a
young person from having to enter high secure care; and intervening in cases where the young
person may be in danger of offending.




                                                                                                   112
The service is an internationally successful community based alternative to special care and high
support placement. About 50 young people are catered for at any one time by the two projects.
YAP design interventions to meet the unique needs of each family with connections to other
services as needed, they incorporate a crisis intervention service and attribute their success to their
core principles: no eject and reject, strengths based approaches and unconditional care. The system
employed by YAP makes every effort to enable the young person achieve stability within their own
community.

The two pilot programmes are currently being evaluated. The Youth Advocate Programme in the
North Eastern Health Board has been in operation since May 2004. The programme can
facilitate 12 young people and their families at any time and will work with 24 in a year.

Homeless Adults

Homelessness – An Integrated Strategy, published in May 2000, recognises the complexity of the
issue of homelessness and the critical role that the health services have to play in addressing the
needs of homeless adults. Accordingly, the Strategy places responsibility for the provision of
accommodation for homeless adults with the local authorities and the provision of their in-house
care and health needs with the health boards.

 While homeless persons have the same rights as other members of society to avail of mainstream
health services, due to a variety of reasons, many homeless people do not access services in the
usual way. As a result, the health boards have established a number of ways to bring health services
to homeless people, e.g. the establishment of outreach multi-disciplinary teams that provide
sessions in a range of homeless hostels and day services.

Since 2000, the Department of Health and Children has provided just over €26m additional funding
to the health boards towards the implementation of Homelessness- An Integrated Strategy.

Traveller Health

Traveller Health - a National Strategy 2002 – 2005 was launched in 2002. This strategy operates in
the context of the new Health Strategy, Quality and Fairness – A Health System for You, which
outlines the future direction of health services in Ireland. The National Traveller Health Strategy is
aimed at improving the health status of Travellers and its main proposals are:

− Establishment of active partnerships between Travellers, their representative organisations and
  health service personnel in the provision of health services.

− Provision of awareness training for health personnel in relation to Traveller culture, including
  Traveller perspectives on health and illness.

− Strengthening of Traveller Health Units comprising Health Board staff and Traveller
  representatives, with responsibility for planning and implementing the Strategy in each Health
  Board.

− Development of initiatives to increase Travellers' awareness of general medical services and to
  make services more accessible, having regard to the Travellers' lifestyle.

− Provision of designated Public Health Nurses to work specifically with Traveller communities.

− A Traveller Needs Assessment and Health Status Study, the results of which will inform
  appropriate actions on Travellers' health.


                                                                                                   113
− Replication of the successful Primary Health Care for Travellers Project, which established a
  model for Traveller participation in the development of health services.

Establishment of an appropriate liaison arrangement between the Department of Health and
Children and the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and including
representatives from Traveller organisations, to address issues of common concern relating to
Travellers.

The Government is fully committed to the Traveller Health Strategy and has approved total
additional funding of €8.2m for its implementation over the period 2002 – 2005. The Department
will review the national implementation of the strategy annually.

Under the auspices of the Traveller Ethics, Research and Information Working Group, the design of
the Travellers’ All-Ireland Health Study has been finalised by the Institute of Public Health. The
procedure for tendering for the study is being examined by the Department. It is expected
that the study will commence in 2005.

A pilot project to include an ethnic identifier question on the hospital in-patient/Perinatal systems in
two Dublin hospitals commenced in July 2004. Following evaluation of this project, the ethnic
identifier may be extended to other hospital systems, to assess the uptake of services by Travellers
and other ethnic minorities.

Health services for older people

Additional funding of almost €10m has been provided for Services for Older People in 2004, of
which €3m went to the Home Help Service. The National Implementation Group to monitor the
implementation of the recommendations in the Elder Abuse Report has commenced its work.
The Working Group to review the Nursing Home Subvention has been established and the
group has received a number of written submissions and heard a number of oral submissions
on this topic. Funding was provided in 2004 to develop models of good practice in the care of older
people and Health Boards have undertaken pilot projects. The ERHA and the health boards are
being encouraged to introduce personal care packages for older people as an alternative to long-stay
residential care. Personal care packages for older people are specifically designed for the individual
concerned and could possibly include the provision of a home help service, home subvention
payments, arrangement for attendance at a day centre or day hospital and other services such as
twilight nursing. Personal care packages allow older persons the option of remaining living in their
own home rather than going into long-stay residential care.

Waiting Lists and the National Treatment Purchase Fund

The Minister for Health and Children has transferred responsibility for the collation and publishing
of waiting list and waiting time data to the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) which was
set up on a statutory basis with effect from 1 May, 2004. The NTPF has been successful in locating
additional capacity and arranging treatments for approximately 18,000 patients up to the end of
August 2004.

 The NTPF has reported that waiting times have fallen significantly with 37% of patients now
waiting between 3 and 6 months and 43% waiting between 6 and 12 months for surgery. Therefore,
80% of patients now wait less than one year for surgical treatment. This represents a major
reduction in the length of time patients have to wait. It is now the case that, in most instances,
anyone waiting more than three months will now be facilitated by the Fund.




                                                                                                    114
National Cancer Strategy

Funding

Since the implementation of the National Cancer Strategy commenced in 1997, there has been a
cumulative investment of approximately €550m in the development of appropriate treatment and
care services for people with cancer. This includes the sum of €15 million which was provided in
2004 to ensure that we continue to address increasing demands in cancer services throughout the
country.

Approximately €95 million in capital funding has been allocated specifically for the
development of cancer related initiatives. This includes major investment that has occurred
in areas such as:

Radiation Oncology:                          €60 million

Bone Marrow Unit, St. James Hospital:        €8.75 million

BreastCheck:                                 €12 million



Consultant Posts

This substantial investment has enabled the funding of 104 additional Consultant posts in key
areas such as Medical Oncology, Radiology, Palliative Care, Histopathology, and
Haematology. An additional 245 clinical nurse specialists have also been appointed in the
cancer services area.

Achievement of the key goal of the National Cancer Strategy 1996

The key goal of the National Cancer Strategy 1996 was to achieve a 15% decrease in mortality from
cancer in the under-65 year age group in the 10 year period from 1994. The Deloitte Evaluation of
the 1996 National Cancer Strategy demonstrated that this figure was achieved in 2001, which was 3
years ahead of target.

New National Cancer Strategy

The National Cancer Forum is currently developing a new National Cancer Strategy. The new
Strategy will set out the key priorities for the development of cancer services over the coming years
and will make recommendations in relation to the organisation of cancer services nationally. The
Strategy is due to be published by the end of this year.

Radiation Oncology Services

The Report on The Development of Radiation Oncology Services in Ireland was published in
October 2003. Its recommendations have been accepted by Government. The Government agrees
that a major programme is now required to rapidly develop clinical radiation oncology treatment
services to modern standards. Furthermore, the Government has agreed that the first phase of such
a new programme should be the development of a clinical network of large centres in Dublin, Cork
and Galway. These centres will collectively have the staff and treatment infrastructure to permit a
rapid increase in patient access to appropriate radiation therapy and will form the backbone of the
future service expansion.


                                                                                                 115
The Minister for Health and Children recently announced the approval of over 130 additional
staff and full-year revenue funding of €15 million to open the new Radiation Oncology
Department in University College Hospital Galway and to expand capacity at Cork University
Hospital. There are currently eight linear accelerators nationally and these developments will
provide an additional five. Five additional Consultant Radiation Oncologists are being
recruited to provide these services. There are currently 10 Consultant Radiation Oncologists
nationally. This will result in a significant increase in the numbers of patients receiving
radiation oncology in the short term.

The Report recommends that there should be two treatment centres located in the Eastern
region, one serving the southern part of the region and adjacent catchment areas and one
serving the northern part of the region and adjacent catchment areas. The Chief Medical
Officer has been asked to advise on the optimum location of radiation treatment facilities in
Dublin. A detailed Request for Proposals issued on 24 June 2004 to relevant hospitals.
Hospitals have until the 8th of October to submit proposals for the organisation and
development of radiation oncology services in the context of the delivery of supra-regional
services. The Chief Medical Officer's advice will be based on an evaluation of the proposals in
accordance with the essential framework set out in the Report and an application of the
evaluation criteria set out in the Request for Proposals document. He will be assisted in the
selection process by international experts as well as experts from within the ERHA and the
Department. It is expected that the selection process will be completed by the end of this year.

BreastCheck

The extension of the current National Breast Screening Programme to counties Carlow,
Kilkenny and Wexford and the national roll-out of the programme to the Western and
Southern regions was announced by the Minister for Health and Children last year. Screening
commenced in Wexford in March of this year.

The Minister recently approved the establishment of a Design Team to progress the
implementation of the BreastCheck programme in Cork and Galway. The Design Team will
work up detailed plans for the construction of both BreastCheck clinical units.

Capital funding of approximately €20 million has been earmarked as part of the Capital
Investment programme 2004-2008 to progress the national roll-out.

Symptomatic Breast Disease Services

The Report on the Development of Services for Symptomatic Breast Disease recommended
the development of specialist units throughout the country. Six of these units are now
operational and a further eight are at various stages of development.

The National Cervical Screening Programme

Phase 1 of the national cervical screening programme commenced in the Mid-Western Health
Board area in October 2000. Approximately 74,000 women in the 25-60 age group are being
screened free-of-charge at minimum intervals of five years. Almost 57,000 smears have been
processed in the first 3 years. A review of Phase 1 is currently under consideration by HeBE
in advance of referral to the Department, following which decisions will be required on how
best to move forward.



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The number of smear tests nationally has increased by almost 20% in recent years and
additional cumulative funding of €11 million was provided by the Department since 2002 to
assist the laboratories in meeting this demand and in improving colposcopy services. The
Department is also investing in new technology through extending the use of Liquid Based
Cytology (LBC).


Further information in relation to measures to achieve NAPS targets to reduce health inequalities is
included under 5.2


(5.1.4) Pensions

                                                                                                SFA
Pensions

The Government has decided, having regard to the recommendations in the National Pensions
Policy Initiative (NPPI) Report to increase social welfare pensions over a 5-10 year period to 34%
of average industrial earnings and that the level of social welfare pension will be improved to reach
a target level of €200 by 2007 in line with the commitment in the Programme for Government.
This target would be achieved by increasing social welfare pension rates in each annual budget.

Budget 2004 made provision for increases of €10 per week in all personal rates of pension, thereby
making progress towards the achievement of the target level of €200 in 2007. The rate of
Contributory Pensions represents approximately 31% of average industrial earnings.

Widow/ers

In Budget 2004, recipients aged 66 and over of both Widow/er's Contributory Pension and Deserted
Wife's Benefit received a special additional increase of €1.50 per week or a total increase of €11.50
per week (7.4%). This completes the commitment to bring the level of these payments up to the
level of Old Age (Contributory) Pension and Retirement Pension. Other Widow/ers Contributory
and all Non-Contributory Widow/ers pensioners received an increase of €10 per week in the
personal rates of payment, increases ranging from 7.7% to 8%. In addition, the Widowed Parent
Grant, a once-off payment to all widow/ers with children, was also increased by €200, to €2,700.
These measures make progress towards the commitment to improve payments to widow/ers
generally.

Pensioner QAAs

Progress will also be made to increase the level of qualified adult allowance for pensioner spouses
to the level of the old age (non-contributory) pension. A number of special increases were granted
in recent Budgets. Qualified Adult Allowance (QAA) rates for those over 66 years of age now
stand at between 66% and 77% of maximum personal rates, up from about 60% and 67% in 2000.

Budget 2004 provided for an increase of €7.70 (6.3%) in the QAA rates of Old Age (Contributory)
Pension and Retirement Pension, ensuring that the levels of these payments were maintained
relative to the personal rates of payment. In addition, Invalidity Pension QAA rates, where the
qualified adult is aged 66 or over, were increased by €16.10 (14.2%). This special increase brings
the rate of this payment up to the level of other contributory pensioner QAA rates and makes
progress towards the achievement of the commitment on the pensioner QAA rate. Further special
increases in pursuit of this objective will be considered in the context of future budgets.


                                                                                                 117
Commitments on social welfare rates

The commitments in relation to personal and qualified adult rates of payment relate to their
achievement by 2007. Budget 2004 made specific progress towards the achievement of all of these
commitments and these will be further progressed within the relevant time-frames.

Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs)

A Government-sponsored information and awareness campaign to promote and encourage
supplementary pensions provision (Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs)) by workers
was undertaken by the Pensions Board from June to December 2003. Since 15 September 2003, it
is obligatory for employers to facilitate participation in a PRSA.

Following the 2003 campaign, a Pensions Board media audit and consumer research survey
carried out by Lansdowne Market Research indicated high levels of public awareness for pensions
in general and PRSAs in particular. A further allocation of resources was made to allow the
campaign to continue through 2004 with the focus on reaching the key groups where there is low
pension coverage, in a more in-depth way, in order to move on from awareness building to an
action level where the consumer actually starts to fund a pension. The campaign in 2004 has
included extensive TV, radio and press advertising, press coverage, local information fora and
a pensions awareness week.

Review of the qualifying conditions for Old Age (Contributory) and Retirement Pensions

A review of the qualifying conditions for Old Age (Contributory) and Retirement Pensions,
incorporating proposals for the development of the existing Homemaker's Scheme is ongoing and is
expected to be published in late 2004.



(5.2) Health and Addressing Health Inequalities

                                                                                             HC

Primary Care
The Primary Care Strategy, Primary Care: A New Direction, sets out a vision for the
development of integrated multidisciplinary primary care teams and networks to meet
people's health and social care needs in their local community.

As the central focus for the delivery of health and personal social services primary care is well
placed to address and influence the determinants of health and tackle health inequalities.

The National Primary Care Steering Group, through its subgroup on Community
Involvement and Health, is preparing a submission to the Interim Health Service Executive
making recommendation on how the commitment to community participation in planning
and delivery of health services may be given effect.

The Steering Group published a progress report in July 2004 which detailed the progress in
the implementation of the Strategy. In addition, the Group contributed to the preparation of
the Primary Care Framework document, published in September 2004, which expands on the
key principles of the Primary Care Strategy and reflects the learning from the
implementation process to date.



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In September 2004 capital funding of €0.450m was provided to the Southern Health Board for
the development of a new primary care centre in Annascau1. Along with existing centres in
Dingle and Castlegregory, this will be one of three premises delivering services as part of the
West Kerry Primary Care Team. Capital funding of €0.275m has also been provided to the
East Coast Area Health Board for the provision of a high specification modular unit adjacent
to the Health Centre in Castle Park for the Arklow Primary Care Team. The provision of
these new facilities will enable additional services to be delivered from single centres and will
assist in the delivery of integrated services to the population in each area.

The Task Force on Medical Staffing recognised the important contribution that primary care
can make to the provision of quality patient care and to reducing inappropriate demand on
the hospital sector. The ECAHB and the MWHB, as the two Phase 1 implementation regions,
have undertaken detailed work to identify the primary care developments required to support
the reconfiguration of the hospital services in these regions.

The Primary Care Strategy recognised that the effective use of information and
communications technology (ICT) is central to the delivery of an integrated team based
service at the primary care level. The Department of Health and Children, in conjunction
with the Chief Executive Officers of the Regional/Area Health Boards and the Eastern
Regional Health Authority, has set up a working group to develop a national approach to ICT
to support the implementation of the strategy. Consultants have been commissioned to
examine the existing infrastructure and make recommendation on the ICT systems needed to
support the integrated team based service model and its interaction with other sectors of the
health service.

The Department also provided funding of €0.800m to the health boards in August 2004 for
ICT initiatives to support the ongoing reconfiguration of existing staffing and resources to
facilitate the development of further primary care teams and networks.

Health Action Zones

The Health Action Zone concept involves focusing on particular areas of disadvantage and tailoring
a range of health services to the needs of those areas to address health inequalities and modernise
services through local innovation in partnership with local communities. The Department of Health
and Children has funded the Southern Health Board for a three-year period to establish two Health
Action Zone projects in the Knocknaheeny/Churchfield and Mayfield/The Glen areas of Cork city.

Building Healthy Communities

In May 2003 the Department of Health and Children and the Combat Poverty Agency jointly
launched the Agency's Building Healthy Communities programme which has a specific focus on
community development approaches to reducing health inequalities. In 2003 the Department of
Health and Children provided €15,000 to each of two community development projects under this
programme and the Department is funding three projects in 2004.

National Anti Poverty Strategy

NAPS targets to reduce health inequalities have been taken on board in the National Health
Strategy. Awareness raising exercises in relation to these targets are ongoing in the Department of
Health and Children aimed at ensuring that measures to achieve them are integrated into all relevant
policy and programme development. The Department of Health and Children has commissioned the
Institute of Public Health to undertake a programme of work involving the Health Boards, the
Health Board Executive, the Office for Health Management and the Combat Poverty Agency to:

                                                                                                119
 − Raise awareness of NAPS targets and social inclusion issues in the wider health service;
 − Lay the foundation for a learning network to ensure social inclusion issues are better addressed
   in health service staff training;
 − Mainstream actions to address further NAPS health target achievement in the context of all
   major policy implementation.

The first phase of the work which relates to information gathering and agenda setting is nearing
completion.

In consultation with the NAPS and Health Project Planning Team a promotional brochure on
NAPS and the health services has been developed. This resource will be used as an initial
awareness raising and agenda setting exercise, spelling out very clearly what NAPS is, the
relevance of NAPS to the health services and current NAPS health targets and proposed
developments. The brochure has been approved by the Department of Health and Children
and will shortly be published under the auspices of the Project Team.

The Institute of Public Health is progressing work on data and monitoring requirements for NAPS
health targets and is also finalising an extensive literature review to identify effective interventions
to address the higher rate of low birth weight found in more disadvantaged groups.

The Department of Health and Children has been working with the Office for Social Inclusion
to develop Poverty Proofing Guidelines for the health services. Draft Guidelines have been
produced which will be piloted within the Department itself.

A suite of performance indicators has been developed and is now in use in association with the
annual Service Plan which is a legislative requirement for all regional health boards. Performance
indicators for services for a wide range of vulnerable groups are included e.g. for Travellers,
Homeless, Disability, Asylum Seekers, Drug Misuse, children and the elderly. Refinement and
improvement of these indicators will continue in 2004 –2005.

Details on initiatives in relation to specific vulnerable groups are included under 5.1.3.


(5.2.1) Structural Reform

                                                                                                    HC

The implementation of the Health Reform Programme, which includes both the Prospectus and
Brennan Reports, is currently underway. The current phase of implementation consists of four
distinct but inter-related strands of activity taking place during 2004. These strands are:

 − the work of the Interim Health Service Executive (IHSE) leading to the establishment of, and
   the orderly transfer of functions to, the HSE;
 − aspects of the Reform Programme for which the Department of Health and Children (DoHC)
   has lead responsibility (including legislation, the establishment of HIQA, governance,
   streamlining of agencies, HR/IR, financial management/service planning, etc.);
 − the work of the Acute Hospitals' Review Group chaired by Mr David Hanly and,
 − the on-going management of the health system and internal preparations for the new
   organisation and governance arrangements being led by the Chief Executive Officers of health
   boards and the Health Boards Executive.



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Immediately following on from the Government decision on the Health Service Reform Programme
in June 2003, a detailed communications process to communicate the details of the Reform
Programme to all of the stakeholders and to consult on the appropriate pathways to implementation
was undertaken between July and September. A report on the consultation process was published in
November and contains a summary of the key findings of the communication and consultation
exercise. The feedback received helped plan the initial implementation phase of the Programme.

A number of key bodies central to the Reform Programme are now in place. The National Steering
Committee (NSC) charged with overseeing the implementation of the work programme of the four
strands has been established. The Committee is chaired by the Tánaiste and Minister for Health
and Children and provides a co-ordinating forum for actions being led in the respective strands and
will ensure overall consistency with the Government's Decision. It reports on a regular basis to the
Cabinet Committee on Health, ensuring that the Government is kept fully informed on all important
issues.

The NSC most recently met on 14th September 2004 and was briefed on progress to date on the
implementation of the Reform Programme.

The IHSE was established last November and the Board has met on a number of occasions. The
IHSE is now established as a statutory body on foot of SI 90/04. Under the Establishment Order
the IHSE has been assigned the following functions:-

To prepare a plan for the Minister's approval for:

− the establishment of a unified management structure for the proposed new Health Service
  Executive;
− the integration of the existing health board structures into the new Health Service Executive;
− the streamlining of other statutory bodies, identified in the Prospectus Report, to be
  incorporated in the new structure;
− the establishment of regional boundaries for the delivery of primary, community and
  continuing care services;
− the establishment of procedures to develop a National Service Plan for the delivery of health
  services;
− the establishment of appropriate structures and procedures to ensure the proper governance and
  accountability arrangements for the proposed Health Service Executive; and
− the appointment of a Chief Executive Officer.

The IHSE has also been given the task of making the necessary preparations to implement this
plan, subject to Ministerial approval, so as to ensure as smooth a transition as possible from the
existing health board structure to the new Health Service Executive structure. The IHSE has
established a change management team composed of senior personnel from across the health
service. The team includes people working in health boards and the voluntary sector.

Recent progress towards achieving the above objectives is as follows:


− The appointment of the first Chief Executive Officer of the HSE was announced on the
  22nd September. It is to be Professor Aidan Halligan who is currently Deputy Chief
  Medical Officer of England.

− HSE posts at corporate level have been advertised.



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− The IHSE is working to produce a detailed map of the senior jobs within the HSE
  Corporate.

− Work on the high level designs for the National Hospitals Office, the Primary,
  Community & Continuing Care Directorate and Shared Services is well advanced. The
  design of the National Hospitals Office will proceed when outstanding issues are resolved
  by the Acute Hospital Review Group. The boundaries of the four Primary, Community
  and Continuing Care regions were announced on the 28th September. The headquarters
  for which are to be Galway, Cork, Kells and Tullamore.

The Management Advisory Committee of the DoHC and the Change Management Team of
the IHSE meet monthly to review progress and facilitate joint working. The DoHC and the
IHSE are working jointly to progress work on:

− Agencies designated for streamlining into the HSE in the short term.

− Appropriate financial transition arrangements.

− The framework for a national service plan for 2005.

− A broad range of human resource and industrial relations aspects of the change process.

In relation to the restructuring of the Department, a draft revised organisation design has
been completed and is under discussion.

The Minister for Health and Children will soon be establishing a Board for the Health
Information and Quality Authority (HIQA). Mr Pat McGrath, Group Managing Director of
the Project Management Group, was announced as the chairperson of HIQA on the 28th
September.

Work is well advanced for an interim code of governance for the health service.

The Health (Amendment) Act, 2004 was signed into law by the President on 8 June 2004 and
commenced by the Minister for Health and Children on 15 June 2004. The Act is one of a number
of initiatives being undertaken to implement the Health Service Reform Programme on a phased
basis. It provides for changes in the legislative provision regarding the membership of the Eastern
Regional Health Authority (the Authority), the area health boards and the health boards, the
abolition of the distinction between reserved and executive functions and the assignment of
reserved functions of the Authority, the area health boards and the health boards to the Chief
Executive Officers and the Minister for Health and Children, as appropriate, and amendments to the
Health Acts 1947 to 2001 to implement these proposals.

The Minister will shortly introduce legislation to provide for the establishment of the Health
Service Executive to replace the Eastern Regional Health Authority and the health boards. This
legislation will also provide the legislative basis for other aspects of the Reform Programme such as
improved governance and accountability, planning and monitoring and evaluation.                   The
establishment of the HIQA will also be provided for. It is intended that it will include provision for
a statutory framework for Complaints Procedures in the health service as proposed in the Health
Strategy. The intention is to have this legislation passed by December 2004 so as to have the
Health Service Executive in place in January 2005.

The National Consultative Forum is convened on an annual basis to consider progress reports
on the implementation of the National Health Strategy Quality and Fairness and to comment

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on priorities in the light of progress and emerging trends. The Forum membership includes
organizations in the voluntary sector, patient and client groups, service providers, trade
unions, senior management in the health system and relevant government departments. In
2002 and 2003 the Forums centred around the implementation of Quality & Fairness as well
as the Health Service Reform Programme. The 2004 Forum is due to take place in November.

A dedicated website for the Reform Programme was launched in December 2003 at
http://www.healthreform.ie/ and so far has received almost 500,000 hits.

The Report of the National Task Force on Medical Staffing (Hanly) was published on 15 October
2003. The Report sets out the changes needed in NCHD work patterns; a series of reforms in
medical education and training; the number of additional consultants needed and how they
should work under a significantly revised contract. The Report emphasised that change could
not be achieved without reform of acute hospital services. The Minister has announced details of
the implementation groups in the two Phase I regions and of a group to make recommendations for
Phase II. Implementation of both phases has been hampered by the dispute relating to medical
indemnity. However, extensive preparatory work is proceeding and it is hoped to progress matters
further as soon as new indemnity arrangements have been agreed. A key issue will be how to
involve local communities in the decision-making process. Implementation of the other
recommendations of the report is proceeding. Detailed assessments have been prepared of the
service and resource implications of the forthcoming reduction in Non-consultant Hospital Doctors'
(NCHDs) working hours in each health agency, NCHD rosters are being developed. Negotiations
with the Irish Medical Organisation on the reduction in NCHD hours required by the EWTD
are continuing in the Labour Relations Commission. A Medical Education and Training Group
has agreed a joint approach to training with the medical training bodies and medical council
and has provided the Minister with formal advice on the provision of medical education and
training in a 58-hour working week. Consultant Contract negotiations are paused pending
resolution of issues related to medical indemnity arrangements. However, significant
preparatory work has been undertaken on a draft consultant contract and management
position paper.


(5.2.2) Rehabilitation Facilities

                                                                                                HC

Rehabilitation facilities at present planned, under construction, or being commissioned by the
Department of Health & Children include: - James Connolly Memorial Hospital – Day Hospital for
Older People; Athlone – 10 bed Rehabilitation Unit; Thurles Community Nursing Unit – 72 bed
unit (including rehabilitation services) Our Lady's Hospital Cashel (35 beds); St John's Enniscorthy
(32 beds); Dingle Community Hospital; Mayfield, Cork – Day Centre for Older People; Merlin
Park Regional Hospital - Elderly Rehabilitation: (30 beds), Disabilities Rehabilitation: (15 beds);
Midland Regional Hospital, Tullamore – Assessment & Rehabilitation Department for Older
People; Virginia Community Nursing Unit (50 places); Dungarvan District Hospital (30 bed
replacement); Kilkenny-St Luke's/District Hospital (30 beds); Waterford Regional Hospital (15
beds.); Tralee Hospital – Ambulatory Care Centre; Fermoy Community Hospital; Cork University
Hospital - Day hospital for older persons; St Mary's Orthopaedic Hospital (50 beds) – Services for
people with disability. Over the years 2004 to 2008, it is planned to redevelop the National
Rehabilitation Hospital, Dun Laoghaire to provide 140 additional rehabilitation beds for people
with a disability.




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(5.2.3) Information

                                                                                                   HC

The National Health Information Strategy (NHIS), launched by the Minister for Health and
Children on 20th July 2004, is a response to the need for greater health information by healthcare
professionals, stakeholders and patients. The Strategy will lead to the development of improved
national healthcare standards and will yield tangible benefits such as controlled access to patient
records by healthcare professionals, centrally controlled waiting lists and a more efficient healthcare
system.


(5.2.4) Health Impact Assessment

                                                                                                   HC

The issue of HIA is being progressed in the context of the re-organisation of the Department of
Health and Children and the work of the Interim Health Service Executive. In the meantime the
Department of Health and Children has written to a number of Government Departments to arrange
initial bilateral meetings with them in relation to HIA before the end of 2004. This work will build
on an introductory policy seminar held for senior managers and the launch of the HIA methodology
guidelines and a screening tool for HIA which took place in July 2003. The Institute of Public
Health which provides technical support on HIA has also advertised for additional staff for this
area.


(5.2.5) Health Promotion and Education

                                                                                                   HC

The Health Promotion Unit continues to work in partnership with all relevant stakeholders in the
promotion of healthy lifestyles in areas such as smoking, healthy eating, breastfeeding, substance
abuse, sexual health, alcohol etc.

The Unit is committed to the appointment of a national Workplace Health Promotion Co-ordinator
and to the establishment of an all-island Workplace Health Network.

The Unit has also supported the appointment of a Men's Health Research Officer whose work will
inform the formulation of a Men's Health Action Plan. It is expected that this comprehensive piece
of research will be completed later this year. A Consultation Day in relation to the development of
the Action Plan took place in Tullamore on 22 January 2004 on all aspects of men's health and
men's health policy. The consultation process will continue to ensure that all stakeholders are
included.

The Expert Group on Mental Health Policy has established a sub-group to identify, inter alia,
priority issues in relation to mental health promotion and the prevention of mental ill health.

The Minister for Health and Children launched a Regional Report on the National Health and
Lifestyle Survey (SLAN) and the Annual Report of the National Nutrition Surveillance Centre
Dietary Habits of the Irish Population: Results from SLAN in December 2003. Both these reports
are available on the HPU website http://www.healthpromotion.ie/.



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On 29th March 2004 most enclosed places of work, including licensed premises, became
smoke-free. The primary purpose of this measure is to protect the health of workers and the
public from exposure to toxic environmental tobacco smoke. The Health and Safety Authority
has carried out 4,114 inspections (as of 29 September 2004) in enclosed workplaces since the
introduction of the new measures and there has been an average of 91% compliance. The
response to date across all sectors is very positive with compliance at a very high level.
A National Smoking Cessation Action Plan has been developed. Nicotine Replacement
Therapy was introduced for patients with a Medical Card (i.e. those on low incomes and
people aged over 70). A hard hitting media campaign Every Cigarette is Doing You Damage
has been in place, with evaluation showing that 80% of those surveyed recognised it. The
campaign is supported by a National Quitline.


(5.2.6) Access to Primary Medical Care

                                                                                         HC

Following on from the CEO's Review of the Medical Card Scheme, the Medical Card Review
project was set up under the Health Board Executive (HeBE) in April 2002 to assist the Health
Boards in the promotion of good administrative practice in relation to the Management of the
Medical Card Scheme and the achievement of high standards for their customers. The report of
this group is nearing completion and, when ready, will be submitted to the HeBE for sign-off
prior to proceeding with implementation of the recommendations. The report will comprise
the following elements:

− A clear and comprehensive set of guidelines on the implementation of legislation for all
  health board staff involved in the medical card scheme.
− A management and control strategy for the medical card register.
− A standardised set of administration processes for staff involved in the administration of
  the medical card scheme.
− A guidance document on the structure of an appeals service, the key principles of an
  appeals service and the process by which each board should deal with appeals.
− A review of the current application form, design of a new application form and a pilot of
  the revised form.
− A system for measuring customer satisfaction with the medical card scheme.
− A specification for a standardised medical card IT system.
− A training strategy for all staff involved in the GMS scheme.
− A training course on the principle of good decision making.

The foregoing represents Phase 1 of a process of modernization of the medical card scheme.
Phase 2 of the project, which has just commenced, will extensively modernise the
administrative and operational arrangements of the Medical Card and other related schemes
e.g. Drugs Payments, Long Term Illness and Health Amendment Act, 1996 (Hepatitis C),
making them more customer friendly, administratively streamlined, fair, accountable and I.T.
enabled.




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(5.2.7) Eligibility

                                                                                                   HC

One of the objectives of the National Health Strategy is a commitment to introduce new legislation
to provide for clear statutory provisions on eligibility and entitlement for health and personal social
services. A review has been carried out of existing legislation relating to eligibility for health and
personal social services. The outcome of this review will inform the approach to be taken in the
drafting of a new legislative framework clarifying eligibility and entitlements to health and personal
social services.

However having regard to the urgency of implementing the health sector reform programme,
legislation giving statutory effect to the proposals of the Prospectus and Brennan reports has taken
priority at present. The Department will, meanwhile, continue to work on moving forward the
preparation of the legislation relating to eligibility for health and personal services.


(5.3) Equality

                                                                                                JELR
Key Actions
The Employment Equality Act 1998 provides for a review of its operation, within 2 years of its
coming into force, with a view to assessing the discriminatory grounds covered by the Act. In the
course of this review it was argued that the Act should be amended to include the following new
grounds:

 − socio-economic status (including social origin or social origin as a separate ground),

 − trade union membership,

 − criminal conviction/ex-prisoner/ex-offender, and

 − political opinion.

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform decided in 2001 that it was necessary to
examine in detail the implications of extending the Employment Equality legislation to the new
grounds suggested having regard to international experience of legislation in those areas.

UCC Law Department were awarded the contract to carry out research into the international
experience in relation to legislation in this area. The findings of this research were published on 3
September, 2004 in a report entitled 'Extending the Scope of Employment Equality
Legislation: Comparative Perspectives on the Prohibited Grounds of Discrimination'. The
report was circulated for comment to each of the participants in the Round Table Conference
which was held on 25 September, 2004. It is hoped that this will facilitate the conclusion of
the review process.

The Second Progress Report of the Committee to Monitor and Co-ordinate the
recommendations of the Task Force on the Travelling Community is currently being finalised
and will be published by the end of 2004. The report will include a summary of high level
issues together with an update on recommendations contained in previous reports.

New approaches to promoting tolerance and understanding between the settled and Travelling
communities are being considered. Due to the complex nature of this issue it has been decided to

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prepare a discussion document and subsequently to hold a seminar to explore the issues with inputs
from experts in the areas of community relations, Traveller organisations and relevant Government
Departments.

For a progress report on the integrated strategy to improve the participation and achievement of
Travellers at every level of education, see section (2.8) Tackling Educational Disadvantage –
Literacy, Numeracy and Early School Leavers.

In July, 2002 the then Minister of State with special responsibility for Equality, Mr Willie O'Dea,
wrote to all Ministers requesting them to review the gender balance composition of the State Boards
and Committees under the aegis of their Department and to take measures to redress gender
imbalances, where the 40% target has not been reached.          The Minister of State also advised
Ministers that to ensure progress he intended bringing a six monthly report to Cabinet on the gender
composition of Boards for each Department broken down between (i) Boards newly appointed
during that period and (ii) Boards already in existence.

The first two reports were noted by Government in July 2003 and January 2004 respectively.

The third report covering the period 1 July to 31 December 2003 was noted by Government
on 21 July, 2004. At the end of 2003 women made up 30% of the total membership of State
Boards and 36% of those members appointed by the Government or Ministers. Ministerial
appointments in the second half of 2003 were 35% with eight Departments close to or
exceeding the 40% target. This represents a slight decrease over the first six months of 2003,
when 39% of Government/Ministerial appointments were women. However, the percentage
of female Chairpersons increased by 7%, from 21% to 28%, in the same period.

The Minister of State will continue to review the situation and will bring proposals for further
actions, if he considers this necessary.

A key recommendation in the Report to the United Nations on the National Plan for Women 2002
on the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, published in October 2002, was the
development of a National Women's Strategy as the framework for Ireland's gender equality agenda
for the coming years. The scoping work for the development of the Strategy is currently being
finalised and it is hoped to bring proposals to Government shortly. The scoping exercise is
concerned with defining the process by which the Strategy is developed and in broad terms,
the framework of the Strategy. Cross-cutting issues, such as indicators, will be discussed and
agreed, as appropriate, during the development of the Strategy. In preparation for the
development of the Strategy, the Department has commissioned a study on the currently
available indicators in this area.

 The National Steering Committee on Violence Against Women has undertaken a number of
campaigns to raise public awareness of the issue of violence against women. The most recent
campaign, undertaken by the Committee in December 2003, involved a nationwide poster campaign
which aimed to raise the issue of violence against women as a matter which should be of concern to
all members of society and to let people know that they can play a part in ending this violence. The
Committee is currently developing a TV awareness campaign which will be conducted jointly
with Northern Ireland in January, 2005.

The Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform provided funding in 2003 for comprehensive
research into attrition rates in rape cases in Ireland. This research should provide a greater
understanding as to why victims choose not to report cases to the Gardaí and also why, of the cases
that are reported, only a small percentage result in a court hearing.


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The Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform provided funding in 2003 for the
establishment of a Domestic Violence Intervention Project to operate on a one-year pilot basis in
the Dun Laoghaire/Bray area. An evaluation of the Project is currently being undertaken. The
Domestic Violence Intervention Project is an integrated programme co-ordinating the work of the
civil and criminal justice systems, perpetrator programmes, women's support programmes, Gardaí,
Probation and Welfare Service and locally based groups and agencies. The project proposes to
implement an effective response to both perpetrators and victims of domestic violence and its
central aim is to increase the safety of victims of domestic violence and reduce the recidivism rate
of domestic violence. The Department provided funding in 2004 to continue the pilot project
for a further year.

The Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform is undertaking an evaluation of all
programmes for Perpetrators of Domestic Violence currently operating in Ireland. Results of the
evaluation are expected to be completed in Autumn 2004.

The National Steering Committee meets regularly with representatives of each of the Regional
Planning Committees in a forum to ensure the communication process is maintained and there is an
exchange of information on issues concerning violence against women. The forum has already
met three times in 2004 and a further meeting will be held in October.

Launch of the National Disability Strategy

On Tuesday, 21 September, the Government launched the National Disability Strategy. The
Strategy is a framework of positive action measures to support participation by people with
disabilities in Irish society. The Strategy comprises four elements:

− Disability Bill 2004;

− Comhairle (Amendment) Bill 2004;

− Six Outline Sectoral Plans; and

− A commitment to a multi-annual Investment Programme for disability support services.

Disability Bill 2004

The Bill is a positive action measure which includes the following measures:

− a right to an assessment of need for health and educational needs;

− an entitlement to the services to be set out in a related Service Statement;

− complaints and appeals mechanisms if entitlements are not delivered.

The Bill also puts the policy of mainstreaming on a statutory footing: public buildings and
services made accessible to people with disabilities; establishes employment targets for people
with disabilities in the public service; places safeguards on the use of genetic information; and
establishes a Centre for Excellence in Universal Design.




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Comhairle (Amendment) Bill 2004

The Bill introduces personal advocacy services specifically for vulnerable people with
disabilities who may need assistance in accessing social services.

Outline Sectoral Plans

Six Outline Sectoral Plans are published with the Disability Bill and will be the subject of
consultations with interested parties before they are finalised. They set out sectoral services
as they relate to people with disabilities and point to the future developments envisaged for
disability services. The Plans come within the remit of the following Ministers - Health and
Children; Social and Family Affairs; Transport; Environment, Heritage and Local
Government; Communications, Marine and Natural Resources and Enterprise, Trade and
Employment.

Multi-annual Investment Programme

A multi-annual capital investment programme will, for disability-specific services, be
developed within the overall system of five-year, multi-annual capital envelopes. Decisions in
relation to the investment programme will be developed and announced as part of this year's
Estimates and budgetary process. The multi-annual Programme will have both a Capital and
revenue (current) element starting in 2005.

The Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Bill, 2003, was enacted in July,
2004.

 A management information system will be developed to track the participation of different groups
in Further Education to support targeting of resources and evidence-based decision making. A
detailed analysis exercise has been completed for the system.




(5.4) Access to Quality Public Services

                                                                                              TAO

Sustaining Progress recognises that access to quality public service has a major role to play in
building a fair and inclusive society and this is reflected in the commitment to move towards a more
formal expression of entitlements across a range of public services. In this Agreement particular
emphasis is placed on ensuring that standards of public service are identified monitored and
achieved. This will require further substantial improvements in the effective delivery of quality
public service. In part II of this Agreement covering Pay and the Workplace the parties have
reaffirmed their full commitment to the further development and accelerated implementation of
modernisation framework in each sector of the public service.



As part of the commitment in the agreement that all public service organisations will be required to
commit publicly to service standards for their customers (20.13) the Customer Charter initiative
was announced by the Taoiseach, Mr. Bertie Ahern T.D. in December 2002. All Government
Departments are required to publish Customer Charters. Each Charter will be a short
statement describing the level of service a customer can expect from a Government


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Department or Office and are based around a four-step cycle of consultation, commitment
evaluation and reporting. The Charters will ensure that each Department or Office will have
a challenging set of standards in respect of its core services, which can be effectively
measured. Departments are required to evaluate and report on their performance in meeting
the standards they have committed to in their 2004 Annual Report.

By October 2004, 19 Departments and Offices have published Customer Charters. The
remainder is scheduled to publish their Charters shortly.


(5.5) Challenge of Delivering a Fair and Inclusive Society

(5.5.1) Key Actions

(5.5.1.1) Review of Social Inclusion Programmes

                                                                                            CRGA

The Government recognises that local and community development measures are contributing
significantly to tackling a range of challenges at local and community level. These range from
drugs, unemployment and youth services to community and enterprise development. With their
bottom-up approach and the active involvement of local communities, they are a key mechanism,
not just for innovative local responses and for delivery of services, but also as critical input for
public policy.

However, the structures employed to deliver these programmes vary considerably. The number and
complexity of structures now involved is both extensive and complex. These arrangements can be
confusing and present difficulties for the very communities they are designed to serve.

With this in mind, the Ministers for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Environment,
Heritage and Local Government and Justice, Equality and Law Reform undertook a review of the
structures employed in the delivery of local and community development programmes. The review
incorporated a comprehensive consultation process, as agreed with the social partners, and an
independent review of Area Development Management (ADM) Limited.

The purpose of the review is to ensure these structures best support communities in tackling
disadvantage to the greatest extent possible.

Arising from the review, the Ministers brought forward proposals, which Government agreed in
January 2004. These are designed to:

− improve delivery of services on the ground;

− improve arrangements under which community and local development initiatives are delivered;

− re-affirm Government's commitment to local and community development programmes;

− improve cohesion and focus across various measures and

− enable communities to more readily access and make maximum use of the funding available.

Arising from the Government decision, Departments and public bodies will in future, except in
exceptional circumstances, look to existing local or community development bodies and-or local

                                                                                                130
authorities for delivery of any further initiatives in this area. In this way, additional expenditures
can be prioritised towards services rather than administration. In addition CDBs have been asked
to consider and endorse plans prepared by community and local development agencies. This will
help secure better co-ordination of services on the ground. CDBs have also been requested to
examine the potential for improved co-ordination in the delivery of community services in their
respective areas. In this way, the role of CDBs in overseeing and promoting an integrated approach
to service provision at local and community level is being underlined.

As a result of the Government decision, community and local development groups were asked
to propose improvements in their respective areas by mid-year. This move towards an
integrated approach to service provision is being overseen and promoted by the local
County/City Development Boards (CDBs). Funding has been earmarked to support specific
measures emerging from this process. This funding will continue over the next three years
and will be targeted towards providing better services.

An independent consultant has been engaged to assist in the assessment process, which is
ongoing. To date the Minister has cleared proposals from Fingal CDB for funding. These
proposals were very focused on improving current arrangements with regard to resources,
staffing and geographic coverage.

There were very many other good ideas put forward by the other CDBs. It is hoped that early
decisions on funding can be made.

Restructuring of ADM Ltd. is being undertaken to take account of changes since its inception.

As lead Department for the RAPID Programme, the Department of Community, Rural and
Gaeltacht Affairs will continue to work closely with ADM Ltd and Government Departments to
review progress and where possible to identify ways to improve implementation. A new dedicated
fund of €4.5m. has been set aside for capital expenditure for the RAPID Programme in 2004. This
funding will be used as leverage money to progress small scale local projects, supported by co-
funding from State agencies.

The White Paper on a Framework for Supporting Voluntary Activity and for Developing the
Relationship between the State and the Community and Voluntary Sector was launched on 13
September 2000. The White Paper provided for the establishment of an Implementation and
Advisory Group (IAG) to oversee the implementation of the decisions contained in the White
Paper. The Government will continue, within available resources, to support the Community and
Voluntary sector as set out in the White Paper. Some of the key areas of work to date include:

− Funding Scheme to Support the Role of Federations, Networks and Umbrella Bodies: Target -
  First tranche of three year funding paid in December 2003.
− Funding Scheme for Training and Supports in the Community and Voluntary Sector: - First
  tranche of three year funding paid in December 2003. These schemes will direct
  approximately €7.3m in funding to 56 organisations in the community and voluntary sector
  over the coming three years.
− Examination of issues identified in the White Paper including accreditation issues for the
  sector; 'best practice' principles for the voluntary and statutory sectors; establishment of
  voluntary activity units in relevant Government Departments and support for volunteering.

The White Paper provided for a review of the IAG after 3 years. Work is continuing in the
Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs on the review and it is expected that it
will be concluded shortly.


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The Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs has assumed responsibility from
Comhairle for provision of funding to Focus Ireland, Tallaght Volunteer Bureau and Volunteering
Ireland to support their work in relation to volunteering. (This amounts to €272,000 per annum).
The Department has also assumed responsibility from the Combat Poverty Agency for the provision
of funding to the National Anti-Poverty Networks in 2004, amounting to €1.43m per annum.

At the last meeting of the National Rural Development Forum on 7 November, 2003 the Disability
Federation of Ireland made a presentation followed by progress reports from the economic
consultants carrying out the studies of Support for Enterprise in Rural Areas and for the LEADER
mid-term review.

The second half of the Forum involved 4 workshops, 2 on the principles of rural development and 2
on the challenges of rural development. The workshops reported back to the general Forum and a
question-and-answers session with Minister Ó Cuív followed. In view of the Department's
commitments during our EU Presidency, the next meeting of the Forum will not be held until the
Autumn.

The Minister held two conferences during Ireland's Presidency of the EU in the first half of 2004.
The first of these, was held in Galway in May 2004, and dealt with Territorial Cohesion and the
second conference - on Rural Europe - was held in Westport on 31 May/1June 2004.

Over 200 persons from 27 countries took part in the EU Presidency Conference on Territorial
Cohesion which was held in the Connemara Coast Hotel on 25-27 May. In the wake of publication
of the European Commission's Third Report on Economic and Social Cohesion, the objective of the
conference was to provide the opportunity to advance the debate on territorial cohesion matters in
preparation for the way forward post 2006, with a particular focus on areas of natural handicaps
such as islands, mountainous and sparsely populated areas and the rural-urban interface. The
conference affirmed a number of important issues to be considered as the agenda on territorial
cohesion is advanced, including:

− the huge potential of the many areas of the EU, such as islands, mountains and           sparsely
  populated areas, despite their acknowledged territorial constraints

− the importance of subsidiarity and the role and responsibility of national governments

− complementarity between the various policy measures, particularly between territorial policy
  and state aids

− appropriate governance structures to secure and implement policy, involving partnerships and
  networks to shape and advance this agenda

− the need for policies to address urban and rural connectivities and requirements, and

− the way forward in which future programme arrangements will affect existing               regions,
  especially those currently with Objective 1 status.

These issues will be addressed further in the conference report which will be forwarded to the
European Commission and to other interested parties to assist in the formulation of future policy in
this important area.


During the presentation of the Rural Development Conference conclusions, delegates heard that the
EU Rural Development Policy, which should be agreed next year, will have a major impact on the

                                                                                                132
future of rural society and on the quality of life in rural areas until the year 2014. Every rural area
in Europe will be affected by this policy, which will be formulated against a background of a
commercial agriculture sector that is increasingly influenced by world markets. It was agreed at the
conference that EU Rural Development Policy must focus on developing a living, thriving
countryside, based on development of the rural economy as a whole. However, it was also agreed
that policy must continue to promote a sustainable and competitive farm sector, and to focus on
managing the land of Europe for future generations. The EU policy will also provide for
simplification of funding and delivery mechanisms needed, with more flexibility to adapt
programmes to local needs, enhanced partnership and increased responsibility at local, regional and
national levels.


(5.5.1.2) Framework for Social and Equality Statistics

                                                                                                  CSO

Following on from the Government decision accepting the report of the Steering Group on Social
and Equality Statistics the following is a summary of progress on the key actions being taken.

Preliminary National Progress Indicators

As a first step in the process of getting consensus on which indicators really determine whether
target national economic and social outcomes are being achieved, the NSB asked the CSO to
prepare a preliminary national progress report.

The report, Measuring Ireland's Progress was published by the CSO in December 2003 by the CSO
and will serve as a reference point for discussion between the main users and producers of key
economic statistics. The CSO also published a background report on the progress indicators and
have invited feedback from all interested parties. It is planned to publish a progress indicators
report annually. Both reports are available on the CSO website at http://www.cso.ie/. The Director
General of the CSO made a presentation on data/information needs for evidenced-based policy
making to the Steering Group on 15 March 2004. He reiterated the invitation for feedback on
"Measuring Ireland's Progress"

Social & Equality Statistics

In the context of recommendations made by the Steering Group on Social & Equality Statistics,
Government approved the development of a Framework for Social and Equality Statistics to capture
a comprehensive set of indicators of trends across the main dimensions of life. This framework is
being developed by the CSO under the guidance of the National Statistics Board and the Senior
Officials Group on Social Inclusion (who report to the Cabinet Committee on Social Inclusion).

Government also agreed that each Department should develop a formal Data/Statistics Strategy to
be included in its Statement of Strategy and be reported on in the annual report. In addition, the
CSO is taking a lead role in the development of the potential of administrative data across
Government Departments and Agencies.

Work is proceeding on the development of guidelines by the NSB and the CSO for Departments on
how to prepare their data/strategy statements. The first meeting of the new NSB in March 2004
approved the guidelines which have now been circulated to departments. They area available on the
NSB website at http://www.nsb.ie/publications/Data Strategy Guidelines.pdf.



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The CSO is also working to develop formal guidelines on how its process of data integration and
the subsequent treatment of statistics generated by data integration can be safely employed without
data protection problems. The NSB and SOGSI will set out formally how Departments would use
and protect individual data available to it for statistical purposes. A draft protocol on data
protection was considered at the May 2004 meeting of the NSB.

In follow-up to the SGSES Report, the CSO have produced a report exploring in more detail the
Statistical Potential of Administrative Records which examines data holdings in six Government
Departments and makes specific recommendations on how these could be better standardised and
utilised.

It was also agreed that the National Economic and Social Council would take the lead role in the
preparation and dissemination of a periodic overall Social Report. This is to happen in advance of
the next cycle of Strategy Statements.

Statistics on Crime and Victimisation were published in July 2004 based on data from a
Quarterly National Household Survey module conducted in late 2003. The release of the
report coincided with the publication of the Report of the Expert Group on Crime Statistics
and a decision by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform that the CSO will
assume responsibility for the compilation and dissemination of crime statistics. A new Crime
Statistics Division has been set-up in the CSO. While their initial focus will be to work in
conjunction with the Gardai in the dissemination of the 2005 crime statistics, their remit also
covers wider aspects of the Criminal Justice

System and victimisation surveys.

A report from the 2004 Census of Population Pilot Survey will be completed shortly and will
form the basis for presenting proposals to Government on the final content of the 2006 Census
of Population questionnaire before the end of 2004.

New population (to 2036) and labour force (to 2016) projection estimates will be published
towards the end of 2004.

The CSO will issue a new gender statistics report in December 2004. This report is part of a
new social indicators report which the CSO was asked to produce arising from the
Government Memorandum adopting the Steering Group on Social and Equality Statistics
report.

The Government has decided that a National Disability Study will be undertaken by the CSO
as a follow-on survey from the 2006 Census of Population.

The CSO has agreed to work in conjunction with the Irish Spatial Data Infrastructure Group of the
Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to produce a set of new small
output areas for Ireland based on a socio-economic analysis of the Census of Population 2006
returns. These new output areas will be the basis for more detailed small area statistical and
infrastructural analyses.




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(5.5.1.3) National Longitudinal Study

                                                                                                    HC
National Longitudinal Study
The National Longitudinal Study will be jointly funded by the National Children's Office and by the
Department of Social and Family Affairs. The study is the most significant of its kind to be
undertaken in the Republic of Ireland, particularly in terms of the cost, scope and length of study
period. It is anticipated that 10,000 children from birth and 8,000 children aged nine will be
recruited to participate in the study. The aim of the study is to examine the factors which contribute
to, or undermine, the well being of children in contemporary Irish families, and, through this,
contribute to the setting of effective and responsive policies relating to children and to the design of
services for children and their families.

A Steering Group was established, chaired by the Director of the National Children's Office, and
including senior officials from the Department of Social and Family Affairs, policy makers, people
with expertise in research and statistics as well as child health, to make the necessary preparations
for the commissioning of the study.

The Request for Tenders (RFT) to undertake this Study was published at the end of April 2004 and
the closing date for receipt of proposals was Friday, 27th August 2004. Evaluation is currently
taking place. It is hoped to award the contract by the end of 2004.

The NCO has almost completed its work in developing a National Set of Child Well-Being
Indicators. Agreement has been reached in respect of the 40 key indicators that will be used
initially and this was done by utilising a Delphi Study which adopts a research-based
approach to developing consensus. It is expected that a report on this development will be
available by December 2004.




(5.5.1.4) NAPS

                                                                                                   SFA

Work is ongoing on the development of a data strategy to underpin the NAPS. The Office for
Social Inclusion (OSI) is being assisted in this regard by a Technical Advisory Group comprising
representatives of key Government Departments, the Central Statistics Office (CSO), the CPA, the
ESRI and the Equality Authority. The development of the Data Strategy will be closely aligned
with work being brought forward by the CSO to develop a framework for social and equality
statistics, as recommended by the National Statistics Board and endorsed by Government.

The current monitoring and evaluation exercise being undertaken by the OSI in conjunction with
the line Departments aims to clearly identify those areas where deficiencies in data availability and
in the development of indicators persist. The results of this exercise will be the subject of
discussions with the Technical Advisory Group in late 2004 with a view to developing agreed
actions and timelines to address the priority areas. This work will seek to build on the work being
undertaken by the CSO to develop a framework for social and equality statistics, and to operate in
parallel with the development of Departmental Data Strategies, due to be completed by end 2004.




                                                                                                    135
(5.5.2) Mainstreaming of Equality and Evidence-based Policy-making
                                                                                              JELR

The Department of Social and Family Affairs, the Equality Authority and the Department of Justice,
Equality and Law Reform are progressing work on an integrated poverty proofing template that will
focus on the wider equality agenda.

The Working Group on Equality Proofing established under the Programme for Prosperity and
Fairness [PPF] continues in the context of the Sustaining Progress commitments.

There are a number of programmes currently being worked on. Pilot projects on equality
proofing are ongoing in selected areas of FÁS. Funding was given to the Community Workers Co-
operative to prepare a manual on equality proofing for community groups. An Equal Status Review
in the North Western Health Board is ongoing. An Integrated Approach to Proofing (to include
poverty, gender and equality proofing) in areas of Back to Education Allowance (Department of
Social and Family Affairs) and National Action Plans Against Racism (Department of Justice,
Equality and Law Reform) has commenced. A report on the Working Group's activities will be
published before the end of 2004.

The NDP Gender Equality Unit was set up under the National Development Plan, 2000-2006 to
advise those who have responsibility for NDP measures on approaches which facilitate the
achievement of greater gender equality.

The Unit is co-financed by the European Social Fund. The Unit has developed a database of gender-
disaggregated statistics relevant to the NDP and trained over 800 policy makers.

The Unit has produced various tools for gender mainstreaming, including factsheets on
gender equality issues in eighteen NDP policy areas; a gender proofing handbook; guidelines
on how to incorporate gender equality into NDP evaluations; a gender equality guide for
community and voluntary organisations; and a series of 'gender equality relevance' guidance
sheets for NDP measure managers and implementing bodies.

Statistical reports produced by the Unit include 'Women and Men in Ireland as entrepreneurs
and business managers'; a booklet of statistics on women and men in Ireland; 'Geographic
Gender Equality'; 'Women and Men on Farms in Ireland'; and a report on transport and
housing tenure.

The Unit funded the National Women's Council of Ireland to produce a photographic exhibition
entitled 'Put More Women in the Picture'. This exhibition is touring around Ireland in 2004.
The Unit also funded the National Women's Council of Ireland's research report, 'A Woman's
Model for Social Welfare Reform'.

In April 2004, the Unit held a conference entitled 'Gender Mainstreaming: Partnership in Practice'.

The Unit supports the participation of community and voluntary groups in the gender
mainstreaming process, and, in 2004, carried out two gender budgeting initiatives.

More information on the work of the Unit, including all its statistics and research publications, are
available on its website, at http://www.ndpgenderequality.ie/.

Influencing mainstream policy is a vital dimension of the Equality for Women Measure. Through
this, the objective of mainstreaming gender equality can be achieved, and the benefits of the



                                                                                                 136
Measure extended to far greater numbers of women than actually participate in projects. This is
addressed in a number of ways:

− Assisting organisations in the Measure to reinforce the policy implications and potential
  lessons for policy of their projects;

− Developing synergies between projects addressing similar themes or policy issues, for
  example:

    1. Thematic grouping comprising FÁS and six other labour market focused projects (four in the
    SAE Region and two in the BMW Region) to explore the potential to mainstream relevant
    learning from the Measure, specifically in the context of the FÁS strategic review and the
    recommendations from the research into women returners carried out under the Measure;

    2. Thematic grouping consisting of projects in the BMW Region that are focused on enhancing
    the participation of women in all aspects of the County Development Boards and the
    implementation of the County Development Strategies;

    3. Thematic networking of projects providing community based training for women to
    participate in leadership and decision making, with a view to developing accredited modules,
    thus contributing to horizontal mainstreaming, and

− Ensuring that the learning from the Measure is strategically disseminated to the policy context.

For further information, see the 2002 Annual Report on the Equality for Women Measure
(http://www.ewm.ie/). Work on implementing the learning from the Measure is ongoing.

The role of the National Children's Office is to lead and oversee the implementation of the National
Children's Strategy. The Office has the lead role for goals one and two of the strategy which involve
giving children a voice in matters that affect them (goal 1) and research, evaluation and information
on children's lives (goal 2).

Children's participation on issues that affect them has been addressed through a number of specific
projects during the past year. These include


− the involvement of young people in the appointment of the Ombudsman for Children
− the contribution of young people to the Children's Advertising Code currently being prepared
  by the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland
− the establishment of a Student Council Working Group which has, to date, produced a leaflet
  and created a website for students. This is the first time young people have been involved, as
  equal partners, in a Government Working Group.
− Working with City and County Development Boards on participation by children and
  young people at local level through Comhairle na nÓg.
− Working with the Children's Alliance and the National Youth Council of Ireland on the
  production of national guidelines on participation by children and young people aimed at
  Government Departments, State agencies, the NGO sector and the youth sector. These
  guidelines will be published in Autumn 2004.
− Involving children and young people directly in aspects of the work of the NCO,
  including, tender evaluation committees, design of publications, speaking at national and
  international conferences.



                                                                                                 137
In addition, following the last annual Dáil na nÓg in 2003, six young delegates were selected to
work on implementation of the recommendations from Dáil na nÓg though the social partnership
process. The themes discussed at the Dáil were Alcohol and Drug Misuse and Educational
Disadvantage. As part of that process, they attended meetings in the Department of the
Taoiseach in December 2003 and April 2004. A detailed plan is currently being drawn up to
identify the issues which are achievable in the short-term and the process for their
achievement. Meetings with various Government departments, agencies and Oireachtas
Committees will be arranged once targets and objectives have been identified.

Strengthening Research and Information

Goal two of the National Children's Strategy is concerned with strengthening research, evaluation
and information on children's lives. The NCO oversees important elements of the research
programme to be developed under this Goal. The Masters and PhD Research fellowship
programme currently funds four Masters Research Studies and eight PhD Research Studies.
In addition, nine further studies have been commissioned under the Children's Research
Programme in 2004. The NCO will fund a special award at the ESAT/BT Young Scientist
Exhibition in 2005 and will also sponsor the primary school development at this exhibition.

Improving Supports and Services for Children

The third goal relates to supports and services for children to promote all aspects of their
development. While individual Government Departments retain responsibility for implementing the
Strategy the NCO co-ordinates and monitors progress on the Strategy. The National Children's
Advisory Council (comprised of children's representatives and representatives of the social partners
and the research community) has an independent advisory and monitoring role in relation to the
implementation of the National Children's Strategy.

The second monitoring report on the National Children's Strategy covering developments during
2003 will be submitted to the Cabinet Committee on Children at its next meeting. The NCO is
organising a communications programme in all relevant government departments with a view to
ensuring a greater awareness of the detail of the National Children's Strategy and the role of
departments in achieving the objectives of the Strategy.

In addition, the Office has a particular responsibility for progressing key policy issues in the
Strategy identified by the Cabinet Committee on Children. At present these are

− The implementation of the Children Act, 2001

− Co-ordinating the implementation of the Youth Homelessness Strategy

− The development of Play and Recreation Policies.

Children Act

The principal purpose of the Children Act, 2001 is to establish a modern statutory framework for
the juvenile justice system. The legislation also amends the Child Care Act, 1991 by providing for
the detention in special care units of non-offending children with challenging behaviour, establishes
an advisory body called the Special Residential Services Board to ensure the efficient and co-
ordinated delivery of services to young children in detention and re-enacts and updates provisions in
the Children Act, 1908 protecting children from abuse by persons who have custody or care of
them.



                                                                                                 138
The Children Act, 2001 is a very complex and comprehensive piece of legislation and, for
those reasons, provisions under the Act are being implemented on a phased basis, as was
envisaged at the time of enactment.

Responsibility for implementing the Children Act, 2001 lies with three Departments: Justice,
Equality and Law Reform and Education and Science in respect of juvenile offending, and
Health and Children in respect of children who are non-offending but out of control. The
National Children's Office is co-ordinating the cross-departmental aspects of the
implementation of the Act.

Significant progress has been made to date:

The first Commencement Order under the Act which came into force on 1 May, 2002,
provided for, inter alia:


− the payment of compensation by parents in respect of offences committed by their
  children (section 113 of the Act);
− a court order which would require parents to exercise proper and adequate control over
  their children (section 114 of the Act);
− the establishment of the Garda Diversion Programme on a statutory basis and the
  introduction of a Diversion Conference (sections 17 to 51 of the Act) based on restorative
  justice principles as pioneered in New Zealand. Early intervention in relation to child
  offenders is provided for by the expansion of the Garda Diversion Programme. The
  objective of the Diversion Programme is to divert, from committing further offences,
  children who have accepted responsibility for their criminal behaviour. This is achieved
  through three mechanisms: cautions, supervision and conferencing, with significant
  restorative justice elements. The aim of the Garda Conference, which is a new addition
  to the Garda Diversion Programme, is to formulate an action plan for the child.
− the introduction of a curfew for children found guilty of offences (section 133 of the Act).

The order commencing Part 11 of the Children Act, 2001, which placed the Special
Residential Services Board (SRSB) on a statutory footing, came into effect on 7th November
2003. There are currently 10 staff working in the SRSB. There are four Court Officers (2
more to join shortly), who have been allocated to the Dublin Children Court and each Court
District across the country. The Court Officers also have responsibility for liaising with the
Health Boards in each region, to ensure a co-ordinated service delivery of residential facilities
for children before the courts. An important function of the SRSB is to ensure the
appropriate and efficient utilisation of detention schools and special care units. A 24 hour
On-Call service to the Courts has been operational since April 2004.

Almost all of Part 2 (family welfare conferences) and Part 3 (special care) of the Act, which
are being implemented by the Health Boards, were commenced in September, 2004. Part 3
provides a statutory basis for the placement of non-offending children with challenging
behaviour in special care units.

Thirty additional posts were secured for the Probation & Welfare service to implement those
provisions of the Act relevant to the Service. The Family Conferencing provisions under Part
8 of the Act were placed on a statutory basis in July, 2004. A Family Conference is convened
by the Probation & Welfare Service and the convening is directed by the Court where it
considers that the preparation of an action plan would be desirable.



                                                                                             139
The National Children's Office, with the three core departments, continues to work on the
remaining provisions of the Act and commencement issues.

Youth Homelessness Strategy

The Youth Homelessness Strategy was published on 31 October 2001. The Health Boards have
lead responsibility for implementation of the Strategy and they have prepared detailed action plans
in this regard. At national level, given the cross-sectoral dimension of youth homelessness, the
NCO has been given lead responsibility for driving and co-ordinating the actions necessary for
successful implementation.

The National Children's Office chairs the Youth Homelessness Strategy Monitoring Committee
(YHSMC) which is representative of the relevant stakeholders as follows:


 −   Department of Health & Children
 −   Eastern Regional Health Authority and each Health Board outside the ERHA
 −   Department of Education & Science
 −   Department of Environment and Local Government
 −   The Homeless Agency
 −   Voluntary sector.

The Committee identified six key areas which required attention in order to drive the
implementation of the Strategy in an effective, co-ordinated way, on a nationwide basis. They are:

1. Inter-agency Co-ordination and Linkages

2. Leaving and Aftercare

3. Statistics.

The above key areas were prioritised as they cover the most critical areas of the Youth
Homelessness Strategy and sub-groups were established. The work of the Leaving & Aftercare
and Statistics sub-groups has been completed. With regard to inter-agency co-ordination and
linkages, the Programme of Action for Children Office (a unit within the health board
structure with a co-ordinating function across all health board regions) has agreed to take on
the co-ordination and linkages functions within the health board arena. The NCO continues
to deal with cross-sectoral co-ordination issues. Work on the following areas has commenced in
recent months:

4. Information and Advocacy

5. Education and Training.

The Department of Health & Children established a working group in 2003 to review Family
Support Services. The YHSMC is represented on the Review Group's Consultative Forum.

Ready, Steady, Play: A National Play Policy was launched on 8 March, 2004. The Policy covers
public play facilities for children up to and including primary school age for the five year period
2004~2008. It contains 52 actions for eight Government Departments, the local authorities, the
health boards, and a number of other agencies. The NCO is currently working on a Recreation
Policy for older children. The Office is also working on a number of other issues identified by the
Cabinet Committee on Childcare including co-ordination between childcare and early education.


                                                                                               140
Ms Emily Logan was appointed as the first Ombudsman for Children by the President on 18
December 2003, following nomination by the Government and the passing of resolutions by both
Houses of the Oireachtas. The involvement of children and young people in the entire process, from
the position being advertised right up to appointment, was planned and managed by the National
Children's Office. Ms Logan took up duty as the Ombudsman for Children on 22 March 2004. The
Office of the Ombudsman for Children is now operational.




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