Joint Policing Committees Remit

Questions (23)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

23. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he had consulted with the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government on the way the existing joint policing committees aligned to town councils here will operate after those town councils are abolished next year. [20850/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I can advise the Deputy that there is ongoing liaison between my Department, the Garda authorities and the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government in relation to the operation of Joint Policing Committees (JPCs). 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, on 29 November 2012, I published a discussion document to open the matter for wider consultation. My Department, together with the Garda authorities and the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government is examining the feedback received during the consultation process, to see if any amendments should be made to the existing guidelines which would enhance the operation of JPCs. The review process will also 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.

Insolvency Service of Ireland Issues

Questions (24)

Micheál Martin

Question:

24. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the timeframe for the full operation of the personal insolvency legislation mechanisms; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20783/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Insolvency Service of Ireland (ISI) will be in a position to receive and process applications for the three new insolvency arrangements at the end of June 2013. The ISI will be processing Debt Relief Notice applications in July, once Approved Intermediaries are authorised and, subsequently, Debt Settlement Arrangements and Personal Insolvency Arrangements once Personal Insolvency Practitioners are authorised. Some of the key remaining pieces to be put in place include the finalisation of an Information Technology infrastructure to support the efficient and effective processing of applications, the publication by ISI of Regulations for the authorisation and supervision of Practitioners and work with the Courts Service to ensure that the Court's role in the processes is efficiently supported.

The ISI Public Information Campaign was formally launched on 18 April 2013. Since the Director of the Service took up his position at the end of last October, he has overseen a great deal of work within a short period of time. This included setting up an implementation team to address all of the operational matters necessary for the new Service; arranging office accommodation; recruiting and training specialist staff; and designing and implementing the new regulatory and IT frameworks required to accept applications. The dedicated ISI website (www.isi.gov.ie) and information line went live on 18 April. Trained ISI staff have begun taking calls from the public and will be able to advise people in regard to which debt resolution process may be most appropriate to their situation from the three processes available. It is envisaged that all the Personal Insolvency Act 2012 will be fully commenced as soon as all of the remaining necessary preparations for administration of its provisions are finalised, which is expected by the end of June 2013.

Visa Numbers

Questions (25)

Michael McGrath

Question:

25. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the total number of business visas issued by his Department in 2011, 2012 and to date in 2013 under the immigration investor and start up entrepreneurs programme; if he will name the companies involved and their area of business; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20751/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Immigrant Investor Programme and the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme were opened for applications in April 2012. Since then, the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service have received 27 applications for the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme and 10 Applications for the Immigrant Investor Programme. Fourteen applications have been approved under the Start-up Entrepreneur Programme, seven applications have been refused, one applicant gained an alternative status and the remainder are still under consideration. Three applications have been approved under the Immigrant Investor Programme and the remainder are still under consideration.

It has been the long standing policy of the Department of Justice and Equality, under both my office and that of previous Ministers, to respect the privacy of individual migrants and not to divulge their personal details. I can say however that to date the total investment committed under both Programmes is of the order of €10.5 million and that it is projected that 270 jobs will be retained or created on foot of these investments in the ICT, recycling and financial services areas. In addition two organisations, one educational and the other a charity, are receiving substantial endowments to support and develop their activities.

Community Policing

Questions (26)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

26. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if, in view of the reduction in direct Garda resources and funding, he will consider setting aside funding to subsidise Community Alert and Neighbourhood Watch groups to specifically assist them in the placement of signage advertising the phone number of the closest 24-7 manned Garda station to each such group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20826/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

For many years my Department has provided funding for the Community Alert programme which is operated by Muintir na Tíre in partnership with the Garda authorities and which supports the operation of over 1,300 local groups. Funding is provided in relation to the employment and associated costs of a National Coordinator and Development Officers which I believe is the best use of the resources available to me to support an effective crime prevention scheme. I understand that funding for Community Alert is also received from the HSE. The partnership between An Garda Síochána and Muintir na Tire was underlined by the signing of an updated Memorandum of Understanding between the two organisations in January this year.

In relation to Neighbourhood Watch groups, while certain costs related to their operations are funded from the Garda Vote, there is not a specific financial allocation. I am currently providing the maximum possible funding to Community Alert that is open to me, having regard to the overall restrictions on my Department's resources and other expenditure needs. Accordingly, the provision of funding for the project proposed by the Deputy would necessarily have to be found within that existing allocation and my Department has not received any request from the Garda authorities or from Muintir na Tire to reallocate resources along those lines. I should also advise the Deputy that local Garda management continue to engage with communities through the Joint Policing Committees and other fora to advise them of the relevant local policing arrangements, with a view to ensuring that the best possible policing service is provided to the public at all times.

Garda Investigations

Questions (27)

Denis Naughten

Question:

27. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will have the case of the murder of Garda Richard Fallon on 3 April 1970 independently reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20589/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The murder of Garda Richard Fallon was a terrible tragedy for his family and I want to, again, express my deepest sympathy to them. On top of that personal tragedy, his murder was also an event that can only be described as a heinous crime carried out by ruthless individuals. I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that the Serious Review Crime Team met with members of the Fallon family on 18 April 2013 to apprise them of developments in the ongoing review of their father's case. I am conscious that this is a matter of great concern to the family but I am sure the Deputy will appreciate that it would be best to await the outcome of the Garda review.

Legislative Programme

Questions (28)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

28. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when he will conclude a review of the existing legislation on prostitution here. [20849/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

As part of the review referred to by the Deputy, in June 2012, I published a discussion document on the future direction of legislation on prostitution. The purpose of the discussion document is to facilitate a public consultation process. On its publication, I referred the discussion document to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality. The joint committee is conducting the consultation process independently. There is considerable public interest in this issue. It has been reported that the joint committee has received many hundreds of written submissions. Also, my Department hosted a conference in October to discuss the consultation paper. The joint committee will report back to me when it has completed its work. Its report and the views expressed at the October conference will be fully considered in the framing of any necessary legislative proposals to be submitted to Government in due course.

Human Trafficking

Questions (29, 38)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

29. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the figures for potential and suspected cases of human trafficking in 2012, and to date in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20827/13]

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Gerry Adams

Question:

38. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the figures for potential and suspected cases of human trafficking for sexual exploitation during 2012 and to date in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20829/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 29 and 38 together.

I can inform the Deputy that during 2012, a total of thirty-seven investigations were initiated by An Garda Síochána into allegations of human trafficking; of these, thirty-one investigations were into allegations of human trafficking for sexual exploitation. To date in 2013, (29 April 2013), a total of fourteen investigations into allegations of human trafficking have been initiated by An Garda Síochána; of these, a total of six investigations related to allegations of human trafficking for sexual exploitation. In An Garda Síochána Policing Plan for 2013, one of the stated priorities is to prevent and detect Human Trafficking. The Anti-Human Trafficking Unit of my Department and An Garda Síochána are continually vigilant for any emerging trends relating to human trafficking and maintain a dialogue on this matter with the relevant State agencies and non-governmental organisations working in this area.

Cross-Border Co-operation

Questions (30, 40)

Joe McHugh

Question:

30. Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will work with the Northern Ireland Minister for Justice to explore the potential value of a Donegal-Tyrone-Derry community policing board structure based on this State's existing joint policing committee model; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20591/13]

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Joe McHugh

Question:

40. Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will engage with Minister David Ford of the Northern Ireland Executive with a view to establishing the worthiness of a possible Donegal-Tyrone-Derry community policing structure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20592/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 30 and 40 together.

I am happy to inform the Deputy that there is close and ongoing co-operation between the Garda Síochána and the Police Service of Northern Ireland on all aspects of policing. The Garda Commissioner and the Chief Constable of the PSNI are responsible for operational police co-operation and they have repeatedly emphasised the priority they attach to the high quality co-operation between the two services which plays a significant role in combating crime, particularly in the border region.

The two police forces operate a joint Cross-Border Policing Strategy which has as its aims to improve public safety throughout Ireland, to disrupt criminal activity and to enhance the policing capability of both police services on the island. Senior management in the Garda Síochána and the PSNI have met regularly to progress initiatives put forward in the strategy document. All of these are important elements in enabling the two forces to work more effectively together in tackling crime and promoting community safety for all communities on this island. I meet very regularly and maintain ongoing contact with the Northern Ireland Minister of Justice, David Ford, and we have developed a close working relationship which is of great benefit in addressing matters of mutual concern and in enhancing effective co-operation and co-ordination on all policing and criminal justice matters. Indeed, we frequently discuss these matters by phone as they arise.

Under the Intergovernmental Agreement on Co-operation on Criminal Justice Matters we operate a structured framework to further enhance and develop this North-South co-operation. Officials from our Departments and from the various agencies in the justice sector, such as the probation services and the youth justice services, meet regularly to assess and report to us on developments across a range of areas where co-operation is being pursued. It is this relationship at the operational level between the police forces and the other services in the justice sector which is the key to successful joint working to prevent and detect crime, and to pursue those responsible for it. In that context, it is not clear to me that there is value to be added by creating a new or additional structure at this time. Rather the focus is on enhancing and developing the strong partnership that already exists between the police forces and the other services working in the justice sector on this island.

Departmental Strategies

Questions (31)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

31. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the work that has been carried out to compile an integration strategy; when the strategy will be published and implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20841/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Programme for Government contains a commitment that we will promote policies which integrate minority ethnic groups in Ireland, and which promote social inclusion, equality, diversity and the participation of immigrants in the economic, social, political and cultural life of their communities. A significant level of activity is taking place in pursuit of this commitment. A number of key departments and agencies have developed specific strategies to ensure that their services respond to Ireland’s changed demographic in an interculturally competent and inclusive manner. The strategies developed include: an Intercultural Health Strategy; an Intercultural Education Strategy; a Cultural and Arts Policy and Strategy; the Garda Síochána Diversity Strategy; and an Action Strategy for Integrated Workplaces.

The Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration, which is part of my Department, has responsibility for leading and coordinating work relating to the integration of legally resident immigrants. The Office is also responsible for the European Refugee Fund and the European Fund for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals both of which financially assist integration of members of their target group. From next year, these Funds will be replaced by the Asylum and Migration Fund. Arrangements for this Fund will involve a policy or programming dialogue with the European Commission after which a national multi-annual programme will be drawn up for the period 2014-2020. Funding for integration of immigrants is also provided by my Department from purely national sources subject to the reduced resources which are available for all categories of public expenditure at present.