Question No. 522 answered with Question No. 491.

European Arrest Warrant

Questions (523)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

523. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to the extradition proceeding in respect of a person (details supplied) if he will instruct his officials to seek a negotiation between the Irish and Hungarian authorities that ultimately yields a solution, agreeable to all the parties involved; if he will confirm that his officials have exhausted all possible options to facilitate the serving of the sentence here without first having to travel to Hungary; and the extent to which he can take the lead in seeking a mutually satisfactory conclusion to this tragic affair, by virtue of Ireland’s current role as EU president. [10233/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Hungarian authorities issued a European arrest warrant for the person in question in 2005. Surrender was refused in the High Court on the basis that the person concerned had not fled the state in question, which was a requirement of the European Arrest Warrant Act at that time. The decision of the High Court was appealed to the Supreme Court which affirmed the original decision to refuse surrender.

Legislation was subsequently amended to remove the 'fled' requirement in respect of persons sought to serve a sentence in the issuing state. This amendment brought the Act into closer compliance with the relevant EU Framework Decision which referred to 'fleeing' in the Recital but did not include the term in the relevant Article.

After the legislation was changed, the Hungarian authorities submitted a new warrant. The High Court ordered the surrender of the person concerned and that Order was appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court upheld the appeal and refused to surrender the person.

As the Deputy will be aware, the courts are, subject only to the Constitution and the law, independent in the exercise of their functions. In the circumstances, I am not in a position to make any further comment in the matter other than to say that there are no further EAW proceedings pending in this jurisdiction.

The Deputy will appreciate that persons can be detained only in accordance with law and, while this case has been the subject of extensive contact between the Irish and Hungarian authorities, there is no action open to me by virtue of Ireland's current role as EU President in relation to this matter.

Residential Institutions Issues

Questions (524, 525)

Gerald Nash

Question:

524. Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will give consideration to the inclusion of former residents of an institution (details supplied) in the redress scheme under the aegis of Mr. Justice Quirke; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10245/13]

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Dara Calleary

Question:

525. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason an institution (details supplied) has been excluded from the proposed Magdalen redress scheme; the options available to those who were in the school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10249/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 524 and 525 together.

The Government is not aware of any evidence that would warrant consideration being given to including the two institutions within the scope of the scheme being established for the benefit of women who were formerly in the Magdalen Laundries.

Garda Transport Expenditure

Questions (526)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

526. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Justice and Equality in view of his statement that Gardaí now had vehicles which had been converted into mobile Garda offices, if he will explain the following, what exactly is a mobile Garda office; what type of vehicles are they; the number of them that are available; is it proposed to have some of these mobile Garda offices in County Kerry; if there is, how many of them; how much does it cost to change one of these Garda vehicles to a mobile Garda office; are they new or are they taken from the existing fleet; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10261/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy is aware, the deployment of Garda mobile offices is one of a set of measures being implemented by the Garda Commissioner to take account of the closure of certain Garda stations. In that context, the Deputy will appreciate that where stations have been closed a comprehensive set of revised structures has been put in place. In particular, the Garda authorities have emphasised that the Force will continue to support the relevant communities through the clustering of services in policing hubs. This centralisation facilitates enhanced patrolling arrangements which, in turn, provide increased Garda visibility as well as maintaining existing Garda links with communities.

With regard to the mobile office initiative, I understand from the Garda authorities that five new vans have been purchased for conversion to mobile offices. Arrangements are currently being made for the necessary conversion work which will result in the provision of a public area, counter and office facilities. In addition I understand that the mobile offices will be brought into service as quickly as possible.

Asylum Seeker Accommodation

Questions (527)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

527. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality following the review by the UN Committee Against Torture where the committee recommends that the State partly take measures to ensure that all persons detained for immigration related reasons are held in facilities that are appropriate to their status, his views on the current situation relating to immigration related detainees; and the plans that have been made to make appropriate facilities available. [10288/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

Arrangements for the detention of non-nationals on immigration grounds are a matter for the Garda National Immigration Bureau. Under these arrangements persons are generally accommodated in the committal facility for the area in which their case is processed. The detention of non-nationals is subject to judicial oversight which includes recourse to the courts for all detainees. Detention must also be in accordance with national and international law, in particular the European Convention on Human Rights which requires every organ of the State to perform its functions in a manner compatible with the State's obligations under the Convention.

Places of detention are subject to rigorous inspection systems governed by both national and international oversight bodies. The existing international system of inspection operates under the auspices of the Council of Europe Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment which Ireland has been a party to since 1989 while the Office of the Inspector of Prisons is responsible for national oversight arrangements.

The Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture and All Forms of Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, signed by Ireland on 2nd October, 2007, establishes a national and international inspection system for places of detention which is modelled to a significant extent on the Council of Europe Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The Government has approved the drafting of a General Scheme of an Inspection of Places of Detention Bill, which will include provisions to enable ratification of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture. Subject to competing legislative priorities, it is expected that the General Scheme will be completed early this year.

Asylum Seeker Accommodation

Questions (528)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

528. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the amount paid by his Department to asyslum centre firms for the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10295/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Reception and Integration Agency (RIA), a functional unit of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department, is responsible for the accommodation of persons while their applications for international protection are being processed. Currently there are 4,819 persons accommodated throughout the State in 35 centres under contract to RIA.

The amounts paid to contractors for accommodation and ancillary services for asylum seekers over the past 5 years are as follows:

Year

Amount

2008

€91.47m

2009

€86.50m

2010

€79.07m

2011

€69.45m

2012

€62.3m

The Deputy may also wish to note that published on RIA's website – www.ria.gov.ie - are its Annual Reports for the years 2007 to 2011 inclusive. These reports include details of spending for those years, showing total payments for contracts in respect of State owned, commercial and self catering centres; for transport costs; for utility costs in State owned centres; and for miscellaneous payments. The 2012 report is being compiled and will be published as soon as possible.

Garda Deployment

Questions (529)

Gerald Nash

Question:

529. Deputy Gerald Nash asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will outline the Garda personnel resources allocated to provide policing and patrol car support in the Cooley Peninsula area, County Louth; the number of vehicles available to the gardaí in this area for the years 2010, 2011, 2012 and to date in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10311/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Deputy will be aware that the Commissioner is responsible for the detailed allocation of resources, including personnel and transport, throughout the organisation and I have no direct function in the matter. This allocation of resources is constantly monitored in the context of demographics, crime trends, policing needs and other operational strategies in place on a District, Divisional and Regional level to ensure optimum use is made of Garda resources and the best possible Garda service is provided to the public.

I have been informed by the Commissioner that the Cooley Peninsula is policed by the Garda sub-districts of Carlingford and Omeath which are in the Dundalk District. The strength of the those stations on the 31 January 2013, the latest date for which figures were readily available, was 6 and 4 respectfully. Also on that date there were 149 Gardaí assigned to the Dundalk Garda District.

The following table sets out the Garda vehicles allocated to Dundalk District;

DUNDALK DISTRICT GARDA FLEET STRENGTH 2010 - 2013

Total

As at 22 February 2013

20

2012

20

2011

22

2010

23

The allocation of Garda vehicles is monitored and reviewed on a continual basis. The responsibility of 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

Naturalisation Applications

Questions (530)

Barry Cowen

Question:

530. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when a person (details supplied) in County Offaly may expect a decision on their application for naturalisation. [10350/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by the Citizenship Division of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) that a valid application for a certificate of naturalisation was received from the person referred to by the Deputy in July, 2011.

The application is currently being processed with a view to establishing whether the applicant meets the statutory conditions for the granting of naturalisation and will be submitted to me for decision as expeditiously as possible. While good progress continues to be made in reducing the large volume of cases on hands, the nature of the naturalisation process is such that for a broad range of reasons some cases will take longer than others to process. It is a statutory requirement that, inter alia, applicants for naturalisation be of good character. In some instances that can be established relatively quickly and in other cases completing the necessary checks can take a considerable period of time. I can, however, inform the Deputy that enormous progress has been made in dealing with the backlog and steps are being taken to process all outstanding applications as quickly as possible.

The granting of Irish citizenship through naturalisation is a privilege and an honour which confers certain rights and entitlements not only within the State but also at European Union level and it is important that appropriate procedures are in place to preserve the integrity of the process.

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to INIS by e-mail using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. This service enables up to date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek information by way of the Parliamentary Questions process. The Deputy may consider using the e-mail service except in cases where the response from INIS is, in the Deputy's view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Personal Insolvency Act

Questions (531)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

531. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 518 of 12 February 2013, if he will provide a specific date for when the Personal Insolvency Service will accept applications from borrowers seeking debt relief and specific dates for when case studies of resolutions will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10352/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Insolvency Service is currently focused on priority work streams for the establishment of the Office.

The date when the Personal Insolvency Service will accept applications from borrowers will be determined by the finalisation of the Information Technology infrastructure currently being developed which will operate between the Personal Insolvency Practitioner, the ISI and the Courts Service. It is also dependent on the selection and appointment of six new specialist Judges to the Circuit Court and the making of Regulations for the authorisation and supervision of Personal Insolvency Practitioners. It is anticipated that this date will be during the second quarter of 2013 and the public will be informed in advance when the ISI are ready to process such applications.

I understand that various scenarios of possible resolution outcomes for each of the three new debt arrangements will be available on the ISI's website which will be operational in due course.

Legal Services Regulation

Questions (532, 533, 534, 535)

Seán Kyne

Question:

532. Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if consideration will be given to introducing an amendment to the proposed Legal Service Bill that would provide and facilitate a suitably experienced and qualified legal executive practice as a conveyancer and provide such services in their own right. [10360/13]

View answer

Seán Kyne

Question:

533. Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if consideration will be given to introducing an amendment to the proposed Legal Service Bill that would enable a person who is a legal executive become a partner in a law firm. [10361/13]

View answer

Seán Kyne

Question:

534. Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if consideration will be given to introducing an amendment to the proposed Legal Service Bill that would grant a right of audience in the District and Circuit Courts to persons who are legal executives. [10365/13]

View answer

Seán Kyne

Question:

535. Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if consideration will be given to introducing an amendment to the proposed Legal Service Bill that would clarify the evidential status of the attestation of documents by a legal executive acting as a Commission for Oaths. [10366/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 532 TO 534, inclusive, together.

It is clear from the correspondence I have received from the Irish Institute of Legal Executives Ltd, the content of which is reflected in the four issues raised by the Deputy, that the scope of their proposals to confer legal status and a whole range of functions on such a category of persons is extensive and goes beyond those measures to be introduced under the Legal Services Regulation Bill 2011. The Bill, which has completed Second Stage in the Dáil and is awaiting Committee Stage, does not make any provision in relation to the role or status of "legal executives" nor is any such provision envisaged.

The proposals being made by the Irish Institute of Legal Executives Ltd on behalf of its members, are far-reaching and relate inter alia to "a right of audience in the District and Circuit Courts, before tribunals and, subject to review, subsequently in all courts", and to the eligibility of members for quasi-judicial and judicial appointments (e.g as District Court judges or as members of Tribunals). These proposals also draw heavily from the regulatory and practise models of England and Wales which do not always correspond to those of our jurisdiction nor to those set out under current Government policy in the Legal Services Regulation Bill 2011. Under Section 30 of the Bill, provision is already made for public consultation in relation to the creation of a new profession of conveyancer. It also remains open to legal executives, who are so minded, to pursue the career of solicitor or barrister by way of capitalising on their acquired legal knowledge and experience.

While recognising that there may be additional benefits and efficiencies to be found for consumers and for the legal services sector in a more developed role for "legal executives", the far-reaching proposals being made on their behalf at this time lie beyond the scope of the Legal Services Regulation Bill impinging, as they do, on aspects of the courts and the judiciary. Such matters will, therefore, need to be considered separately on their own merits, while others may come to be considered in due course by the new Legal Services Regulatory Authority.

Defence Forces Operations

Questions (536)

Finian McGrath

Question:

536. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Defence if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the British Ministry of Defence has paid out €14 million in compensation to hundreds of Iraqis with a further 700 claims on the way and if it has implications for Irish troops serving abroad. [9821/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The Defence Forces serve on Peace Support Operations as part of UN mandated missions, led by organisations such as the United Nations, the European Union or NATO. Where matters of personal injury or damage to property arise in relation to citizens of the host country, claims for compensation are made to the lead organisation, as opposed to the troop contributing nation. Recent compensation payments made by the British Ministry of Defence have no implications for Irish troops serving abroad.

Defence Forces Personnel

Questions (537)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

537. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Defence the number of retired medical officers from the Defence Forces who have been offered medical duties as locum tenens with the Defence Forces in the past ten years; the reason that a retired medical officer (details supplied) was not offered any such duties although he offered to do them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10319/13]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

A total of 13 retired military medical officers have been engaged at various stages in the period concerned to provide general practitioner services when required in military installations. There is no obligation on the Department to engage any retired medical officer of the Defence Forces to provide medical duties and I am informed that since 2009, newly retired medical officers were engaged to provide such services only in exceptional circumstances. I should also add that against the background of the difficulty experienced in recruiting doctors to the Defence Forces, it has been necessary to identify alternative options for the provision of medical services to the Defence Forces, including the consideration of the outsourcing of some or all Defence Forces domestic medical services. In this regard, an integrated model for the provision of the required medical services, involving both the Medical Corps and outsourced service provision, is being progressed.

Defence Forces Recruitment

Questions (538)

Billy Timmins

Question:

538. Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Defence the position regarding a place in the Defence Forces in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Carlow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10414/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The Military Authorities have advised that the named individual was successful at the interview stage of the 2012 General Service recruitment competition and was placed on the Defence Forces Training Centre panel. Unfortunately this individual was not placed high enough on the panel to be made an offer during the 2012 recruitment campaign. The general service recruitment panel will remain in place until the end of 2013 and it is intended that any recruitment in 2013 will be from those remaining candidates from the 2012 competition panel. All recruitment will be achieved within the resource envelope allocated to Defence.

Irish Red Cross Funding

Questions (539)

Finian McGrath

Question:

539. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Defence the reasons for the recent resignation of the Honorary Treasurer of the Irish Red Cross and if issues related to the corporate governance of the IRC were involved; his views on the progress of the IRC on the reform of its corporate governance arrangements; the progress to date on new legislation regarding the Red Cross; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9537/13]

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Written answers (Question to Defence)

The issue of the recent resignation of the Honorary Treasurer of the Irish Red Cross Society, who was elected to the Society’s General Assembly by his local Area, and to this position by the members of the General Assembly, is entirely a matter for the Society itself. I am satisfied that over the past two years the Society has made good progress in reforming its Corporate Governance arrangements.

The Programme for Government provides for the initiation of a detailed legal review of the basis, structures and governance of the Irish Red Cross to improve its functioning in the light of changing circumstances. My Department has commenced work on the review and I anticipate that this will result in a Red Cross Act (Amendment) Bill during the lifetime of this Government.

Defence Forces Operations

Questions (540)

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

540. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Defence if he will provide in tabular form the number of suspect devices that the army disposal unit has had to deal with in each of the past five years and to date in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9958/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The primary responsibility for the maintenance of law and order rests with An Garda Síochána. The Defence Forces, pursuant to their role of rendering Aid to the Civil Power (ATCP), assist An Garda Síochána when requested to do so. The Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Teams respond when a request is made by An Garda Síochána for assistance in dealing with a suspect device or for the removal of old ordnance. The number of times that the Defence Forces EOD teams have been deployed in the past five years and to date in 2013 is set out below.

Year

Total number of Callouts

Number of callouts for Viable Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs)

2008

180

44

2009

196

63

2010

198

53

2011

237

70

2012

209

96

2013 to date

35

21

Apart from IEDs, other types of callouts would include hoaxes, false alarms, post-blast analysis, unstable chemicals and conventional munitions destruction of old historical artillery shells.

Departmental Agencies

Questions (541, 542)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

541. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Defence if he will provide details of the payment of bonuses or other performance related payments and or allowances made to the staff of agencies under the aegis of his Department with a yearly breakdown from 2008 outlining the overall amount paid in each year period and the number of staff that received such payments and or allowances. [10162/13]

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Thomas Pringle

Question:

542. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Defence if he will provide details of payments made to the CEO or equivalent of all agencies under the aegis of his Department including details of any bonuses, pension entitlements or any other remuneration paid to him or her in 2012. [10179/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 541 and 542 together.

The agencies associated with the Department in the period 2008 to 2012 were the Civil Defence Board, the Army Pensions Board and the Board of Coiste an Asgard. The agencies were staffed by civil servants.

No bonuses or other performance related payments and or allowances have been made to these staff since 2008.

The Civil Defence Board was identified in the Public Service Reform Plan as a body to be abolished. Legislation was passed by the Oireachtas in December 2012 for the dissolution of the Board and the transfer of its functions back to the Department of Defence. The Chief Executive Officer of the Civil Defence Board in 2012 was a serving civil servant at Principal Officer grade. The arrangements that apply to the CEO in respect of pension and expenses are the same as for all Civil Service staff.

In the context of settling the Estimates for the Department of Defence for 2010, the Government decided that the national sail training scheme operated by Coiste an Asgard would be discontinued as recommended in the Report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure. An application for voluntary strike-off was made to the Companies Registration Office in January 2013 seeking the removal of Coiste an Asgard from the Companies Register, and the Company is expected to be officially struck off by mid 2013.

Neither the Army Pensions Board nor the Board of Coiste an Asgard has a Chief Executive Officer.

Defence Forces Recruitment

Questions (543)

Finian McGrath

Question:

543. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Defence if the Irish Army will be recruiting more soldiers in 2013 or 2014. [10424/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Defence)

The Government has decided to accept my recommendation that the strength of the Permanent Defence Force will be maintained at 9,500. I believe this is the optimum strength required to fulfill all roles assigned by Government. The Military Authorities have advised that the strength of the Permanent Defence Force at 31 January 2013, the latest date for which details are available, was 9,313 comprising 7,472 Army, 790 Air Corps and 1,051 Naval Service personnel.

Following on from the 2012 recruitment campaign, 539 General Service recruits were enlisted in the Permanent Defence Force. It is intended that further general service recruitment will take place from the existing competition panel during 2013. No decisions have yet been made with regard to recruitment in 2014.

All recruitment will be achieved within the resource envelope allocated to Defence.