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Wednesday, 30 Jan 2013

Written Answers Nos. 144-149

Residency Permits

Questions (144)

Pat Deering


144. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the criteria used when selecting residency applications for processing as there appears to be inconsistency in the length of time applicants are waiting to be processed. [4562/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

For the purposes of the reply I assume the Deputy is referring to immigrants who want to come here or remain in the State on a long-term basis, i.e. those who are neither tourists or are here for short-term business or other reasons. There are a number of channels by which any such applications are considered. For example, non-EEA nationals wishing to work in the State must apply for a work permit from the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, whereas my Department is responsible for processing applications for Long Term Residency, citizenship, family reunification, EU Treaty Rights and permission to remain in the State of all categories of persons where this is required by law.

As the Deputy will appreciate the nature of these categories is such that different processes and criteria are in place which reflect the statutory and other requirements as they arise in the particular circumstances. Inevitably some of the processes will take considerably than others to complete; that of course is the practice in immigration systems the world over. If the Deputy has a particular area in mind it is open to him to submit a further Parliamentary Question on the matter or alternatively he may wish to contact my office and I will arrange for my officials to provide a written response to his query.

Crime Levels

Questions (145)

Brian Walsh


145. Deputy Brian Walsh asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of crimes recorded at Garda stations (details supplied) in the years 2011 and 2012, and the nature of those crimes. [4568/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Garda Síochána Act 2005 makes provision for the compilation and publication of crime statistics by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), as the national statistical agency, and the CSO has established a dedicated unit for this purpose. I have requested the CSO to provide statistics directly to the Deputy.

Joint Policing Committees Establishment

Questions (146)

Pádraig MacLochlainn


146. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to the fact that although there are four councils in County Louth, there are only three JPCs; the reasons for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4576/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Garda Síochána Act 2005 provides that JPCs operate under guidelines issued by the Minister for Justice and Equality after consultation with the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government. The current guidelines were issued in September, 2008. These guidelines provide considerable flexibility in the operation of committees, including with regard to the use of subcommittees and cooperation between JPCs, including town and county committees. In this regard I am aware of the operating arrangements adopted by the JPCs in County Louth which coincide with the three Garda Districts in the Louth Division.

The Programme for Government makes a commitment to build on existing community policing partnerships and forums to enhance trust between local communities and their Gardaí. In the spirit of that commitment I initiated a review of the operation of JPCs and I have published a discussion document to open the matter for wider consultation. I have made a specific request that each JPC would consider the document at one of its meetings and notify my Department of the outcome of its discussions. I look forward to the outcome of this consultation process and in that context I certainly welcome the Deputy's views on the role and functioning of the JPCs. The Deputy will also appreciate that the review process will need to take into account the broader developments with respect to local government reform which are underway and the implications of this reform for the operation of JPCs.

Property Services Regulation

Questions (147)

Gerry Adams


147. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of letting agents that are likely to be affected by new regulations introduced in relation to the licensing of Letting Agents by Statutory Instrument 181 of 2012; the reason for the new licensing regime; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4578/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Property Services Regulatory Authority was established on 3 April 2012 under the Property Services (Regulation) Act 2011 to regulate, control and supervise property service providers (auctioneers/estate agents, letting agents and property management agents) and to establish and enforce standards within the property services industry. A new comprehensive licensing system for property service providers, including letting agents, was established by the Authority with effect from 6 July 2012. The establishment of a Regulatory Authority with responsibility for the regulation of property service providers was originally recommended in the Report of the Auctioneering/Estate Agent Review Group.

The 2011 Act provides for the licensing of all persons engaged in the provision of property services, including persons engaged in the letting of land. The Property Services (Regulation) Act 2011 (Qualifications) Regulations 2012 (S.I. No. 181 of 2012), which were made by the Property Services Regulatory Authority in accordance with the provisions of the Act, provide for the qualifications which such persons must hold to qualify for a licence to provide property services. I am advised by the Property Services Regulatory Authority that to date some 4,387 persons have applied for a licence in respect of the letting of land, either as a single property service or as part of a wider range of property services (some property service providers will have applied to be licensed to carry out more than one specific property service).

Garda Transport Provision

Questions (148)

Charlie McConalogue


148. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the current breakdown of Garda cars by station and district in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4583/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

Decisions in relation to the provision and deployment of Garda transport are matters for the Garda Commissioner. Responsibility for the efficient deployment of all official Garda vehicles in each Division is assigned to the Divisional Officer, who may allocate vehicles between Stations as required by operational circumstances. The Deputy will appreciate that a degree of flexibility in allocating and re-allocating vehicles among stations, so as to best match the allocation of resources with policing priorities, is essential to the efficient management of the Garda fleet. As a consequence it is not practicable to provide a breakdown of Garda vehicles by individual station. However, I am informed by the Garda authorities that there are currently 55 patrol cars/vans allocated to the Donegal Division and a breakdown by District is provided in the following table:

Garda District

No. of Patrol Cars/vans











Citizenship Applications

Questions (149)

John Lyons


149. Deputy John Lyons asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of cases currently awaiting decision in his Department based on the Zambrano judgment; the criteria being used to decide on cases under the Zambrano judgment; and if he will detail the level of discretion used as part of this process. [4628/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

As of 23rd January, 2013, the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service had 784 cases on hands where the applicants were seeking a right of residency in the State, accompanied by a right to work, based on the principles of the European Court of Justice Judgment in the Zambrano case. Of these, 416 cases cannot be progressed further until the documentation requested from the relevant applicants has been received while the remaining 368 cases are made up of cases which are at various stages of processing and those cases which have just recently been received and, as such, no detailed examination of the documentation submitted has yet taken place.

Given the facts of the Zambrano case, the criteria to be met in each individual case are that each applicant parent must be a third country national who is residing in the State with their Irish born minor citizen child or children, they must be playing a significant role in the upbringing of their Irish born minor citizen child or children and the applicant parent's immigration circumstances must be such that if a decision was taken to refuse him or her a right of residency, the Irish born minor citizen child or children would be at risk of being expelled from the State and, by extension, the EU and, as such, they would not be able to enjoy the substance of their rights as an Irish and EU citizen.

Decisions in Zambrano type cases are based on the provisions of national legislation and outside of the criteria referrred to above, discretion is applied as necessary on a case by case basis including cases where serious or persistent criminality is involved. Following the Zambrano Judgment, I used my discretion to direct my Officials to urgently examine all cases before the courts involving third country national parents of Irish born minor citizen children to see where such cases could be settled based on the principles of the Zambrano Judgment, and without waiting for the High Court to make rulings in each individual case. This approach alone has led to 134 cases being taken off the High Court's Asylum List which provided a substantial dividend for the Court in terms of reducing its workload and also brought legal certainty to the Irish born minor citizen children and the family units involved.