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18 Feb 2003 : Column WA163

Written Answers

Tuesday, 18th February 2003.

Irish Government: Human Rights

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Privy Seal on 9 January (WA 231) concerning the attitude by the Government of the Republic of Ireland to human rights, what is meant by "to give further effect to the convention of Irish Law". [HL1214]

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn): "To give further effect to the convention of Irish law" means "to give legislative effect to the convention of Irish law".

I would recommend that if the noble Lord has any further Questions on this subject they should be addressed directly to the Department of Foreign Affairs, Iveagh House, St Stephens Green, Dublin 2.

Republic of Ireland: Employment Equality Act 1998 and Equal Status Act 2000

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Privy Seal on 21 January (WA 85) concerning the Employment Equality Act 1998 and the Equal Status Act 2000, what information about each employee is recorded. [HL1243]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I refer the noble Lord to the Written Answer given on 9 December 2002 (Official Report, WA 1).

Both the Employment Equality Act 1998 and the Equal Status Act 2000 are southern legislation. Neither Act requires employers to record information on each employee.

Armagh City and District: Primary Schools

Lord Kilclooney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the enrolment in each primary school in the local authority areas of Armagh City and District; and what were the equivalent enrolments at each primary school five years ago. [HL1493]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The information requested is as follows:

School NameEnrolment 1997–98Enrolment 2002–03
Foley County PS106114
Collone PS5839
Aghavilly PS7476
Mullavilly PS100103
Annaghmore PS8672
Hardy Memorial PS457431
Armstrong PS338305
Tandragee PS330306
Drumsallen PS6467
Darkley PS156107
Killylea PS6649
Clare PS7881
Tullyroan PS4640
Lisnadill PS10693
Derryhale PS5563
Mountnorris PS9183
Moy Regional PS6554
Drumhillery PS5268
Keady PS4537
Poyntzpass PS6780
The Cope PS155157
Hamiltonsbawn PS126134
Markethill PS251243
St John's Eglish(1) PS4045
Clea PS5366
Christian Brothers' PS381330
Mount St Catherine's PS338218
St Malachy's PS210200
St Mochua's PS109115
St Joseph's PS, Armagh138117
Our Lady's PS, Keady2515
St Colmcille's PS4446
St Michael's PS5054
St James' PS, Markethill6844
St Joseph's PS, Poyntzpass7675
St Mary's PS111123
St James's PS, Tandragee3826
St Patrick's PS520445
St Jarlath's PS131147
St Oliver Plunkett PS102107
St Peter's PS3694
Our Lady's PS, Dungannon125123
St Francis of Assisi PSn/a239
St Johns PS, Middletownn/a119
The Drelincourt Infants School3318
Saints & Scholars Integrated PS168196
Royal School Preparatory Department5258

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Lord Kilclooney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many of the pupils at the Saints and Scholars Primary School at Armagh City are designated as (a) Protestant; (b) Roman Catholic; and (c) other.[HL1520]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The information requested is as follows.

Current enrolment Number of Protestant pupils Number of Roman Catholic pupils Number of pupils designated "other"
Primary (Year 1–7)196689830

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Police Service of Northern Ireland: Band

Lord Kilclooney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    On what dates did the Chief Constable announce the disbandment of the Police Service of Northern Ireland band; what is the reason for this decision; what is the projected financial saving as a result of this decision; and how many police officers this decision will release for other policing duties; and [HL1518]

    What contribution the Police Service of Northern Ireland band made to community relations in Northern Ireland; where the band was performing on 16 December 2002; what proposals there are for the disposal of the band instruments; and how the decision to disband has been received in Northern Ireland. [HL1519]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Chief Constable announced the standing down of the PSNI band on 16 December 2002. One of the key factors considered in reaching this decision was the release of 40 officers back to policing duties across Northern Ireland.

Financial restraints was another factor: the current operating costs of the band averages £10,000 per engagement with the band performing at approximately 150 engagements per year. The projected financial savings as a result of this decision will be £1,677,522 which reflects the total cost of the band and operating costs of £130,000. These costs which are currently met from the overall police budget will now be utilised for other frontline policing functions.

While the PSNI band has responded to requests from all sections of the many communities that make up society in Northern Ireland, approximately 90 per cent of performances undertaken were as a result of invitations from the Protestant community. On 16 December 2002 the band performed in a primary school in Belfast followed by an event in Belfast city centre.

Representations have been made by several individuals and groups regarding the decision to stand down the band, and inquiries have been made from existing and retired police officers regarding the formation of an association to enable a voluntary band to be established. Should this occur I understand that the PSNI will make available to it the instruments and other equipment associated with the former band and provide some finance.

Northern Ireland Railway Heritage

Lord Shutt of Greetland asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answers by the Lord Privy Seal on 17 December 2002 (WA 100) and 13 January (WA 5) concerning Northern Ireland railway heritage, whether they see an opportunity for a new cross-border body to assist in the preservation of

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    these artefacts and railway restoration in co-operation with the relevant local authorities and the volunteer enthusiasts of the Foyle Valley Railway Society (Northern Ireland), the County Donegal Railway Restoration Society and Cumann Traenach na Gaeltach Lair.[HL1527]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Government have no plans to create a new cross-border body of the type mentioned, and the restoration and preservation of the artefacts at the Foyle Valley Railway Museum is, in the first instance, a matter for their respective owners. However, that does not prevent those involved with railway heritage on both sides of the border co-operating where there is a practical benefit to all parties.

Northern Ireland Ambulance Service

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Privy Seal on 4 February (WA 29), why response times for the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service are different from those in the rest of the United Kingdom; and for how long this position has lasted.[HL1540]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Ambulance service response time targets differ in Northern Ireland because NIAS does not currently have an appropriate methodology to support the disaggregation of emergency calls into the categories used by other UK ambulance services. However, NIAS is currently piloting a medical priority despatch system which will allow the adoption of GB targets. Once the pilot is evaluated, NIAS will seek to roll out the system across Northern Ireland as soon as possible.

The requirement for UK ambulance services to meet their current response time targets was introduced by the Department of Health from April 2001.

Northern Ireland Railways: Enterprise Service

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps Northern Ireland Railways are proposing to take to improve the punctuality of the Enterprise train service between Belfast and Dublin.[HL1566]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Northern Ireland Railways advise that they continue to meet Iarnrod Eireann to resolve engineering issues that are impacting on punctuality of the Enterprise Service. Engineers have closely examined the performance of the locomotives over a two and a half year period. On

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the basis of this assessment Northern Ireland Railways and Iarnrod Eireann have agreed jointly to approach the suppliers of the locomotives with a view to having this unacceptable performance addressed.

Work continues on the track to make good deficiencies which cause temporary speed restrictions to be introduced. At present there are three such restrictions on the Northern Ireland section of the Belfast to Dublin line.

The volume of rail traffic on the approaches to Connolly Station in Dublin continues to cause delays for the Enterprise Service. Northern Ireland Railways are continuing to make representations to Iarnrod Eireann about this problem.

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