Housing Adaptation Grants Funding

Questions (449)

Brendan Smith

Question:

449. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government the total funding on a yearly basis allocated to Monaghan County Council for the housing adaptation grants scheme for older people and people with a disability schemes from 2008 to 2013 inclusive; the actual draw-down of such funding by Monaghan Council on a yearly basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13106/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

My Department’s involvement with the Housing Adaptation Grant Schemes for Older People and People with a Disability relates primarily to the recoupment of a proportion of local authority expenditure on the payment of individual grants. These schemes, introduced in November 2007, are funded by 80% recoupments available from my Department together with a 20% contribution from the resources of the local authority.

Details of the initial Exchequer allocations to Monaghan County Council over the period 2008-2013, together with the amounts recouped to the Council over that period, are set out in the following table:

Monaghan Co. Co.

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

Initial Exchequer Allocation

€1,651,685

€1,664,000

€1,664,000

€1, 250,000

€ 1,200,000

€669,769

Amount recouped

€ 1,236,946

€ 1,173,169

€ 1,353,219

€ 1,232,862

€ 1,202,542

€0

Local Authority Housing Maintenance

Questions (450)

Brendan Smith

Question:

450. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government if following approval for Phase 3 of the Mullaghmatt remedial works scheme, Monaghan town, and the expected commencement of construction work mid-year, if urgent consideration will be given to the early progression of a further phase to upgrade the remaining 74 dwellings to ensure that such necessary improvement works are undertaken immediately following the phase 3 project, to ensure the earliest possible completion of the remedial works scheme for the entire estate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13109/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Environment)

My Department continues to work closely with Monaghan County Council on the delivery of its ambitious remedial works project at the Mullaghmatt Estate. Funding of over €10 million has been approved for remedial works on this estate to date, including €1.5 million approved in respect of Phase 3 of the project which is due to commence mid-year. I recently allocated €550,000 to Monaghan County Council for construction works on Phase 3 of the scheme this year with the balance of the funding to be provided in 2014.

To date, no proposal has been received from the Council in respect of any further phases of works on this estate. Any such proposal will be considered in the context of existing commitments under the Remedial Works Programme and the level of funding available.

Press Council Powers

Questions (451)

Michael Moynihan

Question:

451. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on whether the Press Council has sufficient powers to enable them to balance press freedom with accuracy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12571/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The print media is regulated by an independent Press Council. Section 44 of the Defamation Act 2009 provides for the Minister for Justice and Equality to make an Order, subject to the approval of both Houses of the Oireachtas granting statutory recognition as a Press Council to a body that seeks recognition as such. It requires that the Minister be satisfied that the applicant body complies with the provisions set out in Schedule 2. No more than one such body can be recognised and the order may be revoked. On 21 April, 2010, the then Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform signed the Defamation Act 2009 (Press Council) Order 2010 (S.I. No. 163 of 2010) granting recognition to the Press Council of Ireland. e Order took immediate effect.

e new complaints system which is operated by the Press Council recognised pursuant to the Defamation Act is, I believe, providing a useful, efficient and cost free remedy for members of the public who are affected by breaches of the Code of Practice.

Formal recognition of the Press Council grants qualified privilege to the decisions and reports of the Press Council and the Press Ombudsman. is strengthens and underpins the system of press regulation in Ireland which can only serve to improve the service to the general public.

It is appropriate that strong emphasis is being placed by the Press Council and Ombudsman on resolving complaints through conciliation or mediation. Moreover, the print industry is, in general, committed to the press complaints initiative and has provided the necessary financial backing to support its operation. is cooperation is vital to the long term success of the new Irish press complaints system.

A most important requirement is that publications that are members of the Press Council have to publish in full, decisions of either the Press Ombudsman or the Press Council, which uphold complaints made under the Code of Practice for Newspapers and Periodicals.

A review of the operation of the Defamation Act 2009 is required within five years of its coming into operation.

Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission Issues

Questions (452)

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

452. Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the role that he has in the location of speed cameras on the road network; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12740/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am informed by An Garda Síochána that the outsourced safety camera network commenced operations in November, 2010. The objective of the network is to reduce the number of speed related collisions and so save lives, as excessive or inappropriate speeding is a major factor in road traffic collisions and fatalities.

An Garda Síochána determine the scheduling of the speed monitoring and survey sessions carried out. I have no role in this process, it being an operational policing matter for the Garda Commissioner. I am informed that a targeted approach to speed enforcement is being undertaken in order to significantly reduce the incidence of fatal and serious injuries and improve road safety. To this end, An Garda Síochána, in conjunction with the National Roads Authority, completed an extensive analysis of the collision history on the road network. Sections of road have been identified where a significant proportion of collisions occurred whereby speed was deemed the primary contributory factor.

Based on this analysis, a list of speed enforcement zones has been developed with the aim of providing information to motorists in order to raise awareness of speeding in these zones. An Garda Síochána utilises these zones in order to direct speed enforcement activity, in a proportionate and targeted manner.

I am also advised that safety cameras only operate on sections of road which have a history of collisions occurring where speed was a contributory factor. The locations of these speed enforcement zones are in the public domain and are available on the Garda website www.garda.ie.

These speed enforcement zones are continually reviewed in light of survey data, collision history and local feedback to ensure that enforcement activity is properly targeted. Surveys continue to be conducted to ensure the appropriate deployment of safety cameras on roads which have been identified as subject of inappropriate speed and where fatal and serious injury collisions continue to occur.

Departmental Contracts

Questions (453)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

453. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the annual cost to the Exchequer for G4S service contract for the new criminal courts building; the services provided by G4S under the terms of the contract; the term of the contract; if the contract payments are linked to the consumer price index; and, if so, the way that this is applied. [12795/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy may be aware, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service which is independent in exercising its functions, including the provision and maintenance of accommodation for court sittings.

I am informed that no payments are made directly to G4S. The Deputy is aware that Criminal Courts of Justice complex was provided on the basis of a public private partnership contract covering the design, construction, fit out, maintenance and provision of services. Following an extensive procurement exercise, the Courts Service entered into a contract with a Public Private Partnership Company (PPPCo) in October 2007.

The Courts Service contract is therefore with the PPPCo which has sub-contracted various elements including the design and construction, as well as the provision of services, to a range of third party contractors. G4S is one of these subcontractors and has been contracted by the PPPCo to provide a range of facility management services in the Criminal Courts of Justice including maintenance, cleaning, security, health & safety, portering and management of utilities.

A monthly unitary charge payment which covers the provision of the above services by G4S in addition to payments for the design and construction of the Criminal Courts of Justice amounts to €1.6 million per month (VAT exclusive). Financing, insurance and ICT services are also covered by the unitary charge. In addition there are some items which are paid on a per usage basis. Therefore G4S receives a proportion of the above unitary charge payment. These contractual and financial arrangements between the PPPCo and its subcontractors are internal commercial matters for the PPPCo.

The contract provides that 43% of the unitary charge is subject to indexation based on the CPI each year. The contract runs until February 2035 at which time the complex will be handed over to the ownership of the Courts Service in a ‘as built’ standard.

It is worth noting that this PPP contract was dealt with in detail by the Comptroller and Auditor General in his 2008 Annual Report and was also examined by a sitting of the Public Accounts Committee of this House in July 2010.

I should also mention that, following the construction of the Criminal Courts of Justice, the Courts Service was able to cease leaseholds on various buildings in which courtrooms had been provided, including the Distillery Building, King's Inns, the old Richmond Hospital and Bow Street. In addition to the very considerable annual lease and rental costs, buildings also had to be maintained, cleaned and secured. Ongoing operational savings have also been made for other criminal justice agencies, including the Irish Prison Service and An Garda Síochána.

Asylum Applications

Questions (454)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

454. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 582 of Tuesday 19 January 2013, if the eight persons purporting to be Syrian nationals provided documentation to support this claim to immigration officers and if this documentation was deemed inauthentic; if any of the eight persons concerned applied for asylum in another EU member state prior to arriving here; and the basis on which their application was refused. [12349/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am informed that, four (4) of the eight (8) persons referred to in the response to Parliamentary Question No. 582 of 19 February 2013, purporting to be Syrian nationals, presented a travel document to an Immigration Officer in the course of seeking permission to land in the State. Two (2) of the said documents were determined to be bogus; the other two (2) documents were issued by another EU Member State.

The four (4) persons who did not present a travel document to the Immigration Officer to whom they made an application for permission to land in the State, had all travelled from within the common travel area (CTA).

It is understood that inquiries revealed that one of the persons concerned at the time of the refusal of leave to enter the State was in the asylum process of another Member State.

As the Deputy is aware it is the long-standing practice not to comment in detail on individual cases. Therefore I do not propose to make any further comment on the individuals in question.

Anti-Social Behaviour

Questions (455, 465)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

455. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to take action with all the relevant local stakeholders and agencies to address serious anti-social behaviour in Dublin's north inner city especially in the vicinity of public transport facilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12359/13]

View answer

Terence Flanagan

Question:

465. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the action that is being taken by An Garda Síochána to address street safety concerns and concerns regarding the presence of drug addicts in the Connolly Station and Amiens Street area of Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12573/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 455 and 465 together.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the areas referred to are within the Store Street Garda District and that a proactive approach is being applied to tackle anti-social behaviour and public disorder in these areas with the emphasis being placed on known locations associated with this type of behaviour. Policing measures are in place to address difficulties being experienced by local residents and businesses including the designation of certain areas as hotspots for such criminality with additional high-visibility patrols being directed by local Garda management, including regular patrols by uniform and plain clothes units, including the Community Policing and Garda Mountain-Bike Units, local Detective and Drug Unit personnel, supplemented as required by Divisional Crime Task Force and Traffic Corps personnel.

Local Garda management closely monitors such patrols, and other operational strategies in place, in conjunction with crime trends and policing needs of the communities in these areas to ensure optimum use is made of Garda resources, and the best possible Garda service is provided to the public.

I am also informed that a number of Garda Operations are being conducted in the North Inner City which actively combat anti-social behaviour and drug related criminality.

Operation Stilts utilises a high visibility presence to intensively police identified areas including O’ Connell Street, Marlborough Street, Talbot Street, North Earl St, Abbey St, Eden Quay, the Boardwalk, Wolfe Tone Street, Parnell Street and adjacent side streets by tackling rigorously the activities of persons involved in the commission of anti-social behaviour and drug use and dealing offences.

Operation Redline, which is carried out by uniformed Gardaí and plain clothes members on surveillance duty, targets criminals using the Luas Red Line and supports the Veolia staff working on the Red Line. The purpose of the Operation is to combat public order, drunkenness, loitering and thefts from persons on the Luas trams and at Luas stops. Gardaí at Store Street are also engaging with Veolia Transport in relation to recurring anti-social behaviour and Public Order issues on Luas trams. Operation Clean Tram is an ongoing operation which deals with these issues.

The Garda authorities also engage extensively with local communities, businesses and others relevant parties with a view to addressing concerns of this nature. In particular, local Garda Management in Store Street were part of the multi-stakeholder Strategic Response Group (SRG) who issued the report ‘A Better City for all’, and are presently part of the implementation group which is tasked with implementing the recommendations contained in the report to address public substance misuse and perceived anti-social behaviour in Dublin’s City Centre.

I can further assure the Deputies that I am in regular contact with the Garda Commissioner about all aspects of policing and community safety with a view to ensuring that the street of our cities and towns and safe for all.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (456)

Robert Troy

Question:

456. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the costs of providing hardware and software to his home and the home of Ministers of State in his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12371/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I can inform the Deputy that I was provided with an iPad 2 at a cost of €519 (including VAT). This is a mobile device allowing remote access from any location outside of my Department.

I can also advise that my Department has not supplied any equipment to the home of Ms. Kathleen Lynch, T.D., Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, Older People, Equality and Mental Health.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (457)

Robert Troy

Question:

457. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the costs of providing telephone in the homes of Ministers and Ministers of State in his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12389/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I can inform the Deputy that since my appointment as Minister for Justice and Equality my Department has borne no costs relative to my home telephone or that of Ms. Kathleen Lynch, T.D., Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, Older People, Equality and Mental Health.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (458, 459)

Robert Troy

Question:

458. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the cost of telephones and ICT provided to constituency offices including monthly telephone bills of Ministers and Ministers of State in his Department since March 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12408/13]

View answer

Robert Troy

Question:

459. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if any additional costs other than telephones, ICT and monthly phone bills are being paid to constituency office by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12426/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 458 and 459 together.

I can inform the Deputy that I have no external constituency office but I have established one in the Department of Justice and Equality. It is not possible to disaggregate costs including telephone costs from other data for the period in question. IT assets deployed in this office are from existing stock so no additional costs are therefore incurred. Staff in the office use the Department's IT Shared Service and are supported in the same manner as the other users of that service.

I can also inform the Deputy that my Department does not supply any equipment or pay any of the day to day costs incurred in the constituency office of Ms. Kathleen Lynch, T.D., Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, Older People, Equality and Mental Health. The Minister of State does not have a constituency office within my Department.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (460)

Robert Troy

Question:

460. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of mobile telephones in use by him, Ministers of State and politically appointed staff; the total costs of the mobile telephones since March 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12444/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I can inform the Deputy that the total cost of the mobile phones used by me and my politically appointed staff between 1 March 2011 and 28 February 2013 is contained in the following table:

Number of mobile phones

2011

2012

2013

Minister Shatter

2

€1,192.33

€2,242.81

€160.14

Official A

1

None

€413.67

€36.29

Official B

1

€257.23

€479.39

€32.62

Official C

1

€364.05

€625.19

€37.92

Total

€1,813.61

€3,761.06

€266.67

I can also confirm that my Department does not supply or pay any bills for mobile phones used by Ms. Kathleen Lynch, T.D., Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, Older People, Equality and Mental Health or her staff.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (461)

Robert Troy

Question:

461. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the cost of drivers of each vehicle assigned to him and Ministers of State in his Department since March 2011; the mileage and other costs claimed in respect of each since March 2011; the overall yearly costs of ministerial cars in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12462/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, shortly after the current Government took office in March 2011 it decided to introduce a number of very significant changes in respect of the provision of Office Holder transport. One of the consequences of that decision was that the transport arrangements in place for Ministers of State became applicable to Government Ministers, subject to very limited exceptions on security grounds. In addition, it was decided that former Presidents and Taoisigh would only be supplied with official transport for important State occasions. The revised transport arrangements came into operation for Government Ministers on 1 May 2011 and for former Office Holders on 16 June 2011.

The Garda Commissioner is the Accounting Officer for the Garda Vote. In that context, I am informed by the Garda authorities that records in relation to the cost of providing Office Holder transport have not been maintained in a manner which allow for the identification of costs associated with individual Office Holders. However, the Garda authorities have indicated that total expenditure on the provision of Office Holder transport in 2010, 2011 and 2012 was as outlined in the following table:

Year

Expenditure

2010

€7.503 million

2011

€4.595 million

2012

€2.201 million

With regard to the table, some of the costs arising in 2011 included costs associated with the service prior to and after the new transport arrangements had been introduced.

No transport costs for Ministers of State have been paid by my Department in the period since March 2011.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (462)

Robert Troy

Question:

462. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of credit cards issued to staff and Ministers in his Department; the total costs of each card since March 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12481/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

There are currently a total of four official credit cards held in my Department. These comprise of two Executive Visa Corporate Cards and two Visa Business Cards. The total cost of these cards for the period in question are, €430 for each of the Executive Visa Corporate Cards and €98.10 for each of the Visa Business Cards.

As the Deputy will no doubt be aware, credit cards of this nature are no more than a tool which facilitates the efficient discharge of Departmental business; in many cases it is not possible to procure goods and services without a credit card where for example suppliers insist on advance payment.

Proposed Legislation

Questions (463)

Nicky McFadden

Question:

463. Deputy Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide an update on progressing the Charities Act 2009; if a charities regulatory authority will be established to ensure accountability and public confidence in the charity sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12550/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Charities Act 2009 provides for an integrated system of mandatory registration and proportionate regulation and supervision of the charities sector in Ireland. The various sections of the Charities Act are subject to implementation through commencement orders. Sections that it was possible to commence in advance of the establishment of the Charities Regulatory Authority, as provided for under the Act, have been commenced. The remainder will be commenced following the establishment of the Authority.

The Deputy will appreciate that the full implementation of the Charities Act, including the establishment of a Charities Regulatory Authority, had to be examined in the context of the comprehensive review of expenditure, which took place in 2011. Arising from this review, I delayed bringing this legislation into force as we considered how best to achieve the objectives of the Act in a context of Government spending reductions. It remains an objective of the Government to strengthen the regulation of the sector in effective and proportionate ways.

To advance this, a public and stakeholder consultation is being conducted by my Department on the implementation of the Charities Act and the establishment of a register of charities. Issues covered in the consultation paper include the establishment of a Charities Regulatory Authority; the statutory registration of charities and granting of charitable status; and reporting requirements for registered charities. Submissions should be made at www.justice.ie/en/JELR/CharitiesConsult?OpenForm.

The consultation period will run until 20 March 2013.

Crime Data

Question No. 465 answered with Question No. 455.

Questions (464)

Luke 'Ming' Flanagan

Question:

464. Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will provide the figures for crimes committed by persons who have absconded from Shelton Abbey, County Wicklow and Loughan House, County Cavan open prisons over the past five years by category of crime; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12572/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am informed that the compilation of the information requested by the Deputy would require a disproportionate and inordinate amount of staff time and effort to prepare.

The Garda Síochána Act 2005 makes provision for the compilation and publication of crime statistics by the Central Statistics Office, as the national statistical agency, and the CSO has established a dedicated unit for this purpose.

I have requested the CSO to provide any available statistics which may be relevant to the question directly to the Deputy.

Question No. 465 answered with Question No. 455.

Maintenance Orders

Questions (466)

Clare Daly

Question:

466. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the steps he will take to ensure that maintenance orders are enforced. [12576/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The law contains a number of provisions to ensure that payments are made by spouses in support of their dependent spouses and children. These include enabling powers for the courts to order attachment of the earnings of a debtor spouse, to order the securing of payments to the maintenance creditor, to order the payment of lump sums and to order arrears of maintenance to be paid by instalments.

As the Deputy may be aware, following my appointment I introduced amending legislation in Section 31 of the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011 which provided for the amendment of the Family Law (Maintenance of Spouses and Children) Act 1976. The amendment, which came into effect on 2 August, 2011, provides for the insertion of two new sections into the 1976 Act which set out procedures to be followed in the District court regarding arrears of maintenance payments and confers power on the District court to regard as contempt of court a failure by a maintenance debtor to comply with a previous court order and to deal with such a breach accordingly, including by means of imprisonment.

In addition, the enforcement of maintenance orders from abroad is provided for in the Maintenance Act 1994, which enabled Ireland to ratify the UN Convention on the Recovery Abroad of Maintenance Payments (the New York Convention), which came into effect for Ireland in November 1995. EU countries are covered specifically by Council Regulation (EC) No 4/2009 on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and cooperation in matters relating to maintenance obligations. Under both instruments, a Central Authority has been established in my Department to facilitate the transmitting and receiving of maintenance claims.

Garda Recruitment

Questions (467, 473, 486)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

467. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the reason candidates who have been on a Garda recruitment panel for years will have to reapply and start from scratch when the force seeks new members; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12581/13]

View answer

Michael McCarthy

Question:

473. Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will advise on a recent statement he made in which he signalled his intention to disband the Garda recruitment panel in view of the fact that it was five years old; the way this will affect a person who has only been on the panel three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12671/13]

View answer

Niall Collins

Question:

486. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if candidates who sat and passed the aptitude test, interview, medical examination and physical assessment for entry into the Garda between August 2008 and July 2009 and were placed on the panel for entry into Templemore will have to reapply for the 2013 competition in view of his statement that a recruitment campaign will open shortly. [13008/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 467, 473 and 486 together.

As I have already indicated, I intend bringing proposals to Government shortly in relation to the strength of the Garda Síochána and when recruitment might recommence. While no decision has been taken in relation to the recruitment panel created as a result of the last recruitment process, that fact that this panel is now approximately five years old gives rise to significant issues which will have to be taken into account.

Liquor Licensing Laws

Questions (468)

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

468. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he is considering a review of existing licensing laws or proposing to introduce new legislation in or around late bar exemptions or on the way applications are currently being considered by District Courts. [12594/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The position is that the Government Legislation Programme provides for publication of the Sale of Alcohol Bill in late 2013. It is intended that the Bill will modernise the law relating to the sale, supply and consumption of intoxicating liquor in licensed premises and registered clubs, including the statutory provisions which permit exemptions from normal licensing hours, by repealing the Licensing Acts 1833 to 2011 and the Registration of Clubs Acts 1904 to 2008 and replacing them with streamlined and updated provisions.