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Written Answers — Department of Finance: Vehicle Registration Tax (22 May 2024)

Paul Kehoe: 52. To ask the Minister for Finance when the VRT rules were last changed for crew carrier vehicles that can carry over five passengers; if he is aware of the implications of this extra cost on those involved in the construction industry transporting workers who may have no other transport options available to them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23045/24]

Written Answers — Department of Health: Primary Care Services (22 May 2024)

Paul Kehoe: 157. To ask the Minister for Health the reason the chiropody service at Shamrock Plaza Carlow has been withdrawn; if he is aware of the negative impact of same especially on diabetics in the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23043/24]

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills: Business of Joint Committee (21 May 2024)

Paul Kehoe: Apologies have been received from Deputy Mairéad Farrell. I remind members to please ensure their mobile phones are switched off for the duration of the meeting. Are the minutes of 14 May agreed to? Agreed.

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills: Regulation of the English Language Sector: Discussion (Resumed). (21 May 2024)

Paul Kehoe: Good morning everyone and good morning to the witnesses. This meeting is on the need for greater regulation and oversight of the English language education sector. On behalf of the committee, I welcome Mr. Keith Moynes, assistant secretary, higher education policy division, Mr. Padraig Hennigan, assistant principal officer, and Ms Wendy Ross, assistant principal, higher education quality...

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills: Regulation of the English Language Sector: Discussion (Resumed). (21 May 2024)

Paul Kehoe: I have a couple of questions. Our guests from QQI spoke about due diligence and so on. How many inspections or investigations have been carried out in respect of some of these poor operators, rogue or dodgy agencies or whatever we might call them? We will recall that about ten years ago, there was an extensive investigation into English language schools and a number of them closed. In...

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills: Regulation of the English Language Sector: Discussion (Resumed). (21 May 2024)

Paul Kehoe: Deputy Clarke mentioned the escrow accounts and it was mentioned on numerous occasions last week. Will that be part and parcel of the new regime? Will funds be secured once paid by overseas students?

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills: Regulation of the English Language Sector: Discussion (Resumed). (21 May 2024)

Paul Kehoe: Remuneration and qualifications of teachers, and inspections of schools were key issues raised by the witnesses who appeared at last week's meeting. Has the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science engaged with the Department of Education and the Teaching Council regarding the qualifications of teachers and everything like that?

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills: Regulation of the English Language Sector: Discussion (Resumed). (21 May 2024)

Paul Kehoe: Another issue raised last week was the provision whereby incoming international students can apply for their social security number well in advance of their arriving in the country. The Canadian model was mentioned at that meeting. Has any consideration been given to adopting a similar model in Ireland? Does the Department have any engagement with other stakeholders, such as the...

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills: Regulation of the English Language Sector: Discussion (Resumed). (21 May 2024)

Paul Kehoe: As a result of Brexit, are more European students coming to Ireland to study English than pre-2016? Has that given an opportunity for British schools offering the same service to relocate to Ireland to take advantage of Brexit?

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills: Regulation of the English Language Sector: Discussion (Resumed). (21 May 2024)

Paul Kehoe: If it has them, will the Department forward them to the clerk of the committee?

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills: Regulation of the English Language Sector: Discussion (Resumed). (21 May 2024)

Paul Kehoe: When QQI has the structures in place to fully investigate, Dr. Murray said it takes 18 months for a report to come back. Am I right in saying that or did I pick it up wrong?

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills: Regulation of the English Language Sector: Discussion (Resumed). (21 May 2024)

Paul Kehoe: When QQI is investigating operators it could call rogue, dodgy or whatever the story is, at what point does it decide it warrants a Garda investigation? If funds go missing, I presume QQI calls An Garda Síochána, as it is the statutory body which would come in to conduct a statutory investigation. A school cannot be going on for 12, 18 or 24 months trying to prove it is not rogue...

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills: Regulation of the English Language Sector: Discussion (Resumed). (21 May 2024)

Paul Kehoe: Absolutely. I understand that. What I am perhaps trying to get at is whether QQI could see somebody trying to operate for months and carrying on before they would be reported to An Garda Síochána, or does it depend on the amount of evidence it has?

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills: Regulation of the English Language Sector: Discussion (Resumed). (21 May 2024)

Paul Kehoe: I have one final question for Mr. Moynes. I started off my question earlier on about there being quite a number of English language schools ten years ago but then an awful lot of them closed. Does he have figures on how many actually closed? It could have been on a "Prime Time Investigates" programme. I am not sure. How many schools or colleges do we have at the moment that are actually...

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills: Regulation of the English Language Sector: Discussion (Resumed). (21 May 2024)

Paul Kehoe: Okay. When we bring in witnesses before the committee, we always hear the negatives. I am sure there are some really good positive stories out there as well. I do not want to throw the baby out with the bathwater and say it is all negative as it is not. I know some well-operated English language schools are doing an absolutely fantastic job. I do not know any rogue ones but I have been...

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills: Regulation of the English Language Sector: Discussion (Resumed). (21 May 2024)

Paul Kehoe: As a closing remark, some of our universities also have absolutely fantastic English schools and they do a fantastic job. That has to be recognised as well. I thank the officials and witnesses for coming before today's meeting. It was greatly appreciated and will feed into the work from our witnesses last week and to the report we will complete.

Written Answers — Department of Public Expenditure and Reform: Public Procurement Contracts (21 May 2024)

Paul Kehoe: 242. To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the options available for a person or business that wishes to apply for an e-tender but does not meet the minimum €200,000 turnover income threshold for the previous three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22416/24]

Written Answers — Department of Education and Skills: School Enrolments (21 May 2024)

Paul Kehoe: 289. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the number of people (details supplied), broken down by county, who were in primary, secondary or third level education between 1 February and 1 April 2024; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22495/24]

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